“All the delights of the earth”
comblement / fulfillment
The subject insistently posits the desire and the possibility of a complete satisfaction of the desire implicated in the amorous relation and of a perfect and virtually eternal success of this relation: paradisiac image of the Sovereign Good, to given and to be received.
- “Now, take all the delights of the earth, melt them into one single delight, and cast it entire into a single man — all this will be as nothing to the delight of which I speak” <Ruysbroeck>. Thus fulfillment is a precipitation: something is condensed, streams over me, strikes me like a lightning bolt. What is it which fills me in this fashion? A totality? No. Something that, starting from totality, actually exceeds it: a totality without remainder, a summa without exception, a site with nothing adjacent (“my soul is not only filled, but runs over” <Ruysbroeck>). I fulfill (I am fulfilled), I accumulate, but I do not abide by the level of lack; I produce an excess, and it is in this excess that the fulfillment occurs (the excessive is the realm, the system of the Image-repertoire: once I am no longer within the excessive, I feel frustrated; for me, enough means not enough): at last I know that state in which “delight exceeds the possibilities envisioned by desire.” A miracle: leaving all “satisfaction” behind, neither satiated nor drunk (saoul, in French), I pass beyond the limits of satiety <ETYMOLOGY: Satis (enough), in both “satisfaction” and “saoul” (satullus).>, and instead of finding disgust, nausea or even drunkenness, I discover . . . Coincedence. Excess has led me to proportion; I adhere to the image, our proportions are the same: exactitude, accuracy, music: I am through with not enough. Henceforth I live in the definitive assumption of the Image-repertoire, its triumph.
Fulfillments: they are not spoken — so that, eroneously, the amorous relation seems reduced to a long complaint. This is because, if it is inconsistent to express suffering badly, on the other hand, with regard to happiness, it would seem culpable to spoil its expression: the ego discourses only when it is hurt; when I am fulfilled or remember having been so, language seems pusillanimous: I am transported, beyond language, i.e., beyond the mediocre, beyond the general: “There occurs an encounter which is intolerable, on account of the joy within it, and sometimes man is thereby reduced to nothing; this is what I call the transport. The transport is the joy of which one cannot speak” <Ruysbroeck>.
- In reality, it is unimportant that I have no likelihood of being really fulfilled (I am quite willing for this to be the case). Only the will to fulfillment shines, indestructible, before me. By this will, I well up: I form within myself the utopia of a subject free from repression: I am this subject already. This subject is libertarian: to believe in the Sovereign Good is as insane as to believe in the Sovereign Evil <Novalis>: Heinrich von Ofterdingen is of the same philosophical stuff as Sade’s Juliette.(Fulfillment means an abolition of inheritances: “. . . Joy has no need of heirs or of children — Joy wants itself, wants eternity, the repetition of the same things, wants everything to remain eternally the same” <Nietzsche>. The fulfilled lover has no need to write, to transmit, to reproduce.)
[From A Lover's Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard]