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Weinstein, L. (2013). Sustaining the Object Through the Erotic Imagination: Karoly Makk's Szerelem [Love]. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 94(2):375-389.

(2013). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 94(2):375-389

Film Essay

Sustaining the Object Through the Erotic Imagination: Karoly Makk's Szerelem [Love]

Lissa Weinstein


Pity poor Eros. Once defined by Freud as an abstract life force which holds together everything in the world (Freud, 1921, p. 92) and revealed by mythology to be the messenger who traversed the distance between the gods of Olympus and man, today we find Eros shorn of complexity, ripped from its fraternal twin, hatred, reduced to its bodily referent of sexuality or, worse, to combinations of neural circuitry that fail to differentiate cherished infant from desired beloved. We are told that attachment and sexuality are separate systems with different evolutionary aims (Eagle, 2007; Holmes, 2007); too often Eros is demoted to a mere cover for earlier, ‘deeper’ needs. Yet, as Green (2001) notes, the scope of Eros includes sexuality and love, both generators of representations which form associative chains of ever-evolving complexity. Where desire is initially purely subjective, with the object's existence experienced as little more than a conduit to a longed for pleasure, following the separation of self and object borne of desire's frustration, and the accompanying genesis of fantasy, desire, comes to encompass more muted variations as internalized object relations with different valences are integrated. The love between lovers, the love of political ideals, the love of parents for their children and fraternal love all fall within the rubric of Eros. Through the subliminatory channels, desire will touch social and cultural life, informing our perceptions of beauty (Plato, 2006). Yet the range of Eros has rarely been the subject of psychoanalytic scrutiny, and although all of human development takes place at the behest of Eros, as Jonathan Lear (1966, p. 673) notes: “We lack an understanding of what Eros is.” We must conclude, along with such disparate thinkers as André Green and Harry Harlow, that psychology may have little to teach us about love beyond what we can learn from our greatest artists.


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