from declaration to destiny

I was recently given a copy of Alain Badiou’s In Praise of Love. It’s a delightful little book, full of adventure and risk, and marked by the capacity for words to dance and dance.

In this quote, Badiou discusses how the declaration of love (and its risk of stage-fright) begins a process whereby the remarkably arbitrary event of meeting someone is transformed into the feeling of destiny.

The simplest of words become charged with an intensity that is almost intolerable. To make a declaration of love is to move on from the event-encounter to embark on a construction of truth. The chance nature of the encounter morphs into the assumption of a beginning. And often what starts there lasts so long, is so charged with novelty and experience of the world that in retrospect it doesn’t seem at all random and contingent, as it appeared initially, but almost a necessity. That is how chance is curbed: the absolute contingency of the encounter with someone I didn’t know finally takes on the appearance of destiny. The declaration of love marks the transition from chance to destiny, and that’s why it is so perilous and so burdened with a kind of horrifying stage fright.

– Alain Badiou, In Praise of Love, pp.42-43


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