“We meet death face to face in every erotic failure”

Love and death are twins: a double-edged invitation to participate in reality. A dilemma—since death is not only the unavoidable end; it is also a withdrawal from life, not incompatible with physical survival. If by tasting love, we feel our way towards life, every loveless encapsulation in the ego is choosing death.

The antithesis between love and death is not exhausted in mental concepts. It is not verified by the rules of “correct thinking.” It matures in the cellars of an unshared life. We haltingly explain the meaning of life in every ephemeral fullness of erotic relationship. And we meet death face to face in every erotic failure. When we no longer share in survival.

The only pursuit of existence is the desired relationship. Then we are speaking of “real” love. It is a yearning for life, not s substitution for living. Not an extension of physical pleasure and psychological enjoyment of our daily routine. But it is changing the mode of existence, making every aspect of existence a whole relationship. It is then that we are talking about “real” love.

Yet all who have attained “real” love die in the end like those who have not been loved. Love immortalizes nature, not our own personal existence. It is the greatest joy of life and yet it yields only a natural immortality, the succession of transient mortal individuals. Lovers taste life within the limitations of time, subject to decay, condemned to death.

Nature plays with marked cards. But our being insists on our original innocence. It invests love steadfastly with a yearning for life, life without bounds or limits. A yearning that our personal uniqueness should remain indissoluble, and undiminishable. And every true erotic experience confirms the mode of indissoluble existence. Love confirms immortality—could it only be an illusion?

. . .

Love confirms otherness, revealing the subject. The highest point of existence, the thread leading the way out from the maze of mortality. If our innermost self-conscious identity or “soul” develops and is confirmed in love, then it exists only as relation. If at some time the ultimate resistance to the fullness of relation—physical and psychological resistance of individual autonomy—is broken down, will this then be the beginning of the fullness of love. Can physical death be a mode of entry into the immediacy of life?

We chart our way through unknown territory, following the direction of our yearning. And we live only the immediacy of death. Demand, voracity, need—the resistance of the individual to life-giving communion. The instinct of self-preservation, the drive to possess, the thirst for self-assertion. They alienate the relation, set limits to coexistence, destroy participation. They sabotage our efforts to gain freedom. They fight against love.

The definitions mock us enigmatically. Life is not physical survival; our physical end is not death. The experience of love confuses the meanings. If our innermost self-conscious identity or “soul” develops and is confirmed in love, then it exists only as relation. And then individual autonomy, relationless individual onticity, is death. Then love struggles against death, and death against love. Relentlessly.

Christos Yannaras

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4 Responses to “We meet death face to face in every erotic failure”

  1. Leblanc says:

    Ten Reasons Why Catholics Don’t Evangelize.
    I read this article :http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2016/01/ten-reasons-why-catholics-dont-evangelize.html
    “PS: I’ve saved the biggest and the worst for last….”
    10. Universalism – the ugly twin sister of Indifferentism is Universalism–the teaching that God loves everyone so much that he would never send anyone to hell. In other words, in the end, everybody will be saved. Why bother if we’re all going to get into heaven simply because God is such a nice Santa Claus type figure in the sky who will make sure everyone succeeds? Like indifferentism, the Catholic Church is riddled with universalism and it’s cowardly half breed sister semi-universalism. This is the belief that there is a hell and there might just be a few people there, but there won’t be many and maybe even the ones who are there will serve their prison sentence and be allowed into heaven after all. Universalism is a cowardly, unScriptural and unChristian. It doesn’t take a Thomas Aquinas to figure out that this teaching means not only the death of evangelization, but eventually the death of the church.
    What do you think ?

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Leblanc, this is not the appropriate thread for a discussion of universalism. I’m sure that a future posting will address the topic, at which point I and others will be happy to discuss your questions with you.

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    • Eeeeeeasy there tiger! Like a team of horses spooked by a rattler, your comment races forward out of control. Pull back on the reins there a bit partner, slow down and let’s pull over to the calm watering hole of Scripture and take a closer look.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Leblanc, while you are waiting for an EO post on universal salvation, you might want to take a look at this article, in which I address some of your concerns: “The Unconditionality of Divine Love and the Universalist Hope.”

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