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Anne Boyer. Erotology. The one person.

Think of the way one person can make you feel, also the way that one person is only one. Why want that one person who is only, after all, one person, and why wake up longing for a person and fall asleep longing for the same person and who knows if anyone else in this is longing ? You don’t know if that one person is longing, too.

the over-determination of each thing unheld

That person who is only one person is just as over-determined as anything else unheld, over-determined like an angelic realm or the commune or whatever else you never get but really want. You hold their face in your face. You see how their face goes from one expression to the other. You imagine how you could make their face move between expressions. You imagine how if you held their face in your eyes how that face would look when held. You think about their face a lot and ask some questions of it : What would it look like if I touched it ? What would it look like if I did that thing to that person ? What would it look like if the person were doing that thing or another ?

the elasticity of surprise on the longed-for’s face

Remember what it looked like when that person was surprised by you ? You said something they didn’t expect. That it was unexpected delighted them from surprise, then you saw their face in immediacy and elasticity of surprise. They said, “You just did that surprising thing!” and their face was spread open by surprise. You were surprised by their surprise, and your face spread up open. Every one was immediate and elastic then. And remember the grimaces, the person’s face in anger ? Remember the dereliction and affection ? Remember the look on the face in pure vulnerable recipient of pleasure ? Remember the face with its crevices of intellectual effort ? Remember how you wanted to trace any crevice ? Remember the look of doggish desire ? Remember when you were in your pleasure, and you opened your eyes and looked at the person’s, too, and added it to your own ? Remember the look of that face in minor pain ? You remember that person’s frustration, to, and when you caused it, how the frustration slowly took the face and ossified it, how that person’s frustration when you caused it could be the opposite of that face’s surprise. This is one person, but these were so many different faces, then.

the thousand fictions

These one persons are so many different ones, and even if the one person has never been your lover you can still remember all of your love in its precise iteration and all of it in different measures combined, and if that person hasn’t been your lover yet or for whatever reason never will be, you can make a thousand fictions of when they were. You can think of the time you haven’t but did deny the person pleasure. You can think of that time you haven’t given but did give pleasure freely as if you were just a radiator or the sun. You can think of that person’s face when you made that person weep from your own cruelty or sadness. You can think of the time with that one person a thousand times or ten thousand even if none of it has been yet or will, for whatever reason, be.

the precise method

How do you long ? Like you do. There’s the person’s face in the morning, and then again at night. The person is there in dreams sometimes : you can think in your dreams “we will walk through this city” and the city is endless and like every other city until you wake up. You can imagine saying “let’s be as innocent as animals or children” and in this meaning “let’s hold each other’s faces in our faces and eyes and pretend to suffer none of the destruction inherent in this”. The day is made of alternating terror of having that person with you in some way or not having that person with you in some way, the terror of their interest or non-interest, the terror of asymmetrical or symmetrical desire. Pulling out of the terror, you make some plans to pull out of the terror, to fracture idealization or make the person more precise but increased exposure never actually results in decreased idealization like you plan.

longing as cosmopolitanism

So you can swear you think the one-ness of this one person feels really special right now, and in most hours you would swear to their specialness, but in fact it isn’t even that person and never limited like that. Sometimes it is one, sometimes it is another, sometimes it is a future-oriented longing, sometimes a nostalgic one, sometimes it is a generalized they-ness, sometimes a him-ness or her-ness, the way all the people of past longing combine with those of the present longing. This is like sometimes how you are in a city you used to live in or one you have visited a lot. Then sometimes you feel like you are in all cities at once, or that all cities are basically just one, or that you are driving or walking in a city that makes each city the same like the dream city you have the one-person in. So, too, your longing has both an enlarging and flattening effect : now that you have been alive for some time, it’s clear all this longing is a kind of cosmopolitanism. This is the longing that is not in actual relationship but outside of it. That is when it is longing in the state of the general but not in the specifics of one-on-one bodily negotiation. You hold a face in your eyes a lot and say “I am a citizen of longing for that one person”, but what you really mean is that you are a citizen of longing for the world.

Anne Boyer « Erotology » A handbook of disappointed fate Ugly Duckling Press 2019 p. 81–85