Do we really think and speak of the same thing when we speak of love?
Julia Kristeva, one of those persistent, lucid women who deal exclusively with the most complex issues of human existence (melancholy, depression, new social diseases, neurosis, pain, terror…), in one of her extremely intriguing books (Love Stories – Histores d’amour, 1983) endeavours to pose and discuss this complex issue “leaning” on a whole dozen of crucial “subquestions”:
Is love a feeling or (perhaps, after all) a certain specific state (of the spirit)? In what ways does love express itself? Through what modalities does it display and prove itself? What is its – so specific – language? Some authors, especially women authors, undoubtedly “identify” the specific love language with the poetic one, believing that in both cases the language is full of metaphors: even when the love expression appears (ostensibly) very “simple”, monosemantic (I-love-you), its referential and communicative potentials excel “the content of the spoken/written words – that is to say, these “simple”, monosemantic words always imply (in fact – imagine) a lot, a lot more than their ortographic-ortoepic appearance can “contain”. They imagine a whole universe!
“Is it at all possible to express love in words? Is the love discourse not the only (of all possible discourses) which can be expressed solely in first person?” – a famous Balkan feminist is asking, fascinated by the discovery of the European linguists (Kristevna, as well as other women linguists) that the “essential characteristic of the love discourse is precisely the uncertainty/vagueness of its subject” (Popovic – Perisic, 1988; 69). From this, one may conclude that the true “imaginary” field of the love discourse is the letter. To be more precise – the love letter!
What is a love letter? The desire to reach/get to the other, the desire ‘I’ to become/be the Other. We recognise the same situation as the commencing situation of writing, Kristeva believes. Love, as writing, signifies a state of instability, “in which the individual is no longer indivisible, unique, stable: that is a state in which I accepts to be a part of the Other, to live for the other” (Kristeva, 1983; 121).
The letter – not only the love but also the literary one! becomes “a space in which ‘I’ summons the Other, for s/he loves, suffers, outdoes him/her own self” (Popovic – Perisic, 1988; 69).
According to Barthes writing is love itself – for it is a result of pure pleasure, so it must produce the same, i.e. pure pleasure: in his system love (of the Other, to the Other) becomes a name to write (Barthes, 1975).
It turns out that love and writing are essentially related by one and the same motive: the attempt to establish an intensive relationship with the Other. An attempt for a discourse!
* * *
Trying to remember some Balkan, not only Macedonian! examples of exceptional love writing, let us say, such as European and world literary history are especially proud of, I have come to the conclusion that either I am not well familiarised with this theme, or the Balkan people are truly not fond of writing. I mean – writing letters! Namely, it seems that not one Balkan Eloiza has ever been yearning after her beloved Abelard, that not one Balkan Kafka had his Milena, not one Balkan Cvetaeva had the luck of meeting her Pasternak, that – even – not one Balkan Havel has found his true Olga.
I refuse to accept – in advance – the possible thesis that the Balkan never had its own “literary equivalents” of Eloiza, Abelard, Kafka, Milena, Cvetaeva, Pasternak, Havel, Olga… That its (metaphorically speaking) writers who were in loveand their (again metaphorically) beloved oneshave, perhaps, never managed to articulate their desires appropriately – now, this is something we may discuss! At this moment, however, I am mostly interested in the issue of the (without exceptions) unexisting Balkan love letters!
Apart from the cards that Racin sent the mysterious Raca – an ideal girl, a girl-metaphor, girl-dream that he himself selected, “created” as an object of his love (the feminologists would recognise this as a typically feminine illusionism, as sentimentalismtowards which the women are more inclined than men!), I can’t recall any other writer from these areas who developed their own love epistolary with such great care. The women authors appear to be no exception. If this impression is true, especially in the part concerning women writers (I admit not to have been researching in too many details!), it seems that the “gun-powder barrel like Balkan” has systematically destroyed the famous (male?) prejudice of women as “congenital writers”, for they all suffer – don’t they? – from the “intrinsic fault” of writing long and sentimental love letters. Women are, supposedly, constantly sentimental beings, obsessed by the need to announce their most profound emotions to the Other, even if “he” is but a sheet of blank paper.
It seems that Balkan men and women writers deal with their personal, strictly intimate love problems easily! Or, rather, they deal with these issues strictly personally and intimately! Enclosed in the narrowest four walls of their home. Domestic problems are not for the eyes of the public – a folk saying states, which has been a part of Balkan tradition for centuries!