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 Love’s Multiplicity: Jeong and Spivak’s Notes toward Planetary Love W. A N N E J O H What deserves the name love is an effort—over which one has no control yet at which one must not strain—which is slow, attentive on both sides—how does one win the attention of the subaltern without coercion or crisis?—mind-changing on both sides, at the possibility of an unascertainable ethical singularity that is not ever a sustainable condition. . . . Without the mind-changing one-on-one responsible contact, nothing will stick. gayatri chakravorty spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason Is there a way that we might struggle for autonomy in many spheres, yet also consider the demands that are imposed upon us by living in a world of beings, who are, by definition, physically dependent on one another, physically vulnerable to one another? For violence is, always, an exploitation of that primary tie, that primary way in which we are, as bodies, outside ourselves and for one another. judith butler, Precarious Life Because I am an academic with modest intentions, who is driven by desire for theory in a theory-driven context, that I want to write about love conjures up all kinds of images and insecurities. One wonders if it is even possible to write about love without sounding trite, sappy, sentimental, and soft. Does love free us or enslave us? Perhaps it does both? Somehow writing about and on love seems not such an edgy endeavor after all. Residues of both disdain and desperate search for love have left their imprint.1 Battling with resurgence of disdain if not outright suspicion coupled with secret guilt, I am drawn again to the possibility of what Gayatri Chakravorty PAGE 168 ................. 17764$ CH10 10-28-10 12:07:33 PS jeong a nd s p iv a k ’s n o te s t ow a r d p l a ne t a r y l o ve 兩 1 69 Spivak refers to as the ‘‘uncoercive rearrangement of desire.’’2 Perhaps this rearrangement of desire without coercion is something akin to what Christians often experience as love that is the fruit of metanoia—change of heart. Such a change of heart allows one to realize that our being is always positioned /directed toward the other. I offer perspectives on love using the Korean concept of jeong. While Spivak is not writing explicitly about jeong, I want to suggest that jeong can be employed for philosophy, theology, and ethics in ways similar to which the French neologism différance has been employed. In our efforts to learn from the other, ways of living by, with and through jeong, I contend, is an ethical response to suture our torn selves with one another. It is an ethical practice of responding to the other that resonates with Spivak’s observation that ‘‘To be human is to be intended toward the other.’’3 Since writing on this concept elsewhere, I have had time to think what this concept adds or does not add to love.4 Jeong combines agape, philia, and eros—all three interweaving to form a kind of love that is difficult to define and conceptualize, but often practiced in the everyday relations with the other. Jeong is a signifier peculiar to the Korean language and worldview, and it is an untranslatable signifier, but it nonetheless names a phenomenon that exceeds that language and operates on a fundamental level in other cultures. As such, it is the object of philosophical and ethical reflection in those cultures—for example, in the work of Spivak. Jeong is not something unique to Koreans; a form of it is practiced by many cultures, and those forms are often not identical to the dominant discourses on love. By bringing jeong into our particular conversation, I am arguing that it will serve us well to learn the different languages of love that have been foreclosed in the past. I am asking that we enter into the epistemic structure of many ordinary people, while fully aware of the limits to what can be known in full transparency . There’s something about jeong that keeps its opacity.5 Jeong is that which cannot be wholly repressed or easily dissected into parts, for its fluidity defies any attempts to define its boundaries. Experience of jeong between the self and the other opens a space in which we begin our journey of awakening to the other and to the self. Jeong...


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