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Amour fou, perpetrator of chaos

Amour fou involves non-ordinary sexuality the way sorcery demands non-ordinary consciousness (Hakim Bey, TAZ).

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Jacqueline Lamba dans un aquarium I – 1934. Photography by Rogi André

Who mostly explored the incendiary effects of mad love were the Surrealists, but the paroxysm of passion that embodies this concept does not adhere to a time and place. It vibrates with different chords every chance. Its poetic possibilities has been plumbed as a way of short-circuit of established order by freeing the natural being of any social tie, so often his fate is tragic.

André Breton dedicated to it an autobiographical essay (L’Amour fou, 1937) in which is discoursing about his idea of only one love, experienced almost as a revelation, from digressions on experiences in which rediscovers traces, findings … prefiguring the image of his desire:

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L’Atalante, 1934.. Jean Vigo

On April 10, 1934, during the occultation of Venus by the moon…, eating breakfast in a small restaurant .. on a wall, a clock devoid of its quadrant .. The maid wearing a thin chain with hanging drops as moon stone… highlighting a half-moon… I appreciated the coincidence between the jewel and the eclipse. Suddenly the voice of the boy: “here, Ondine,” and the exquisite response, childish, barely whispered, “Oh, yes, here is dinner” [wordplay in the original version:  Ici l’Ondini, Ah oui, on le fait ici, l’on dine].

The metaphor of the clock without hands bring us into a metaphysical space of suspended time. Sentences are full of cosmic and mythological analogies: moon-woman, ondine… Later we will know that the girl who disturbed him this day (Jacqueline Lamba),  that appeared as the fulfillment of an omen, was a music-hall dancer assuming in her numer the role of a ondine, swimming in a giant aquarium.

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L’Age d’Or, 1930. Luis Buñuel

To Breton, the amour fou is the thread to pull to avoid getting lost in the maze of correspondences and hazards that make life and reveal the underlying magic of consensus reality. Chance is only casual in appearance because it responds to an internal purposes, and love catalyzes the search.

Around the same time, Buñuel took to the cinema another aspect of amour fou, such as a fever exterminating all moral, political and religious order; as a lever against institutional dykes (family, homeland,  religion). The title, L’Age d’Or, alludes to the power of crazy love to raze the sludge age in which wallows a pharisaic Europe and return to a golden age that never actually existed but in the frenzy of desire it is seen as fulfillment of all impulses, as viperous kiss of eros and thanatos.

Taking up the insectivorous metaphor with which the film opens, the amour fou is to Buñuel a sting of a scorpion nailed to the heart of bourgeois hypocrisy.

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Les enfants terribles, 1950. Jean Pierre Melville

The vision of crazy love as poison, which originated in the legend of Tristan and Isolde permeats endless film and literary reviews that search the Absolut in the Other, a search that reveals a lack, a fall into fatality. From L’Age d’Or to orphan Tristan in love in Mauvais sang (Leos Carax) through snowball with which Dargelos injures Paul in Les enfants terribles (Jean Cocteau).

Hakim Bey agrees with the Surrealists when considering amour fou (to which he devoted a few paragraphs in TAZ) as a precondition of freedom, transmuting alchemy and perpetrator of chaos, saboteur of official world: his only interest in the Family lies in the possibility of incest, he writes. But the surrealists misused the potential of A. F. to remove ego, he says, when using the unconscious only as a power over others, losing themselves in abstractions and praises to Sade.

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Mauvais sang, 1986. Leos Carax

Purity of mad love also is outlined in those stalwarts passions that transgress borders, not only of gender, also of human being: love stories with automatons (E.T.A. Hoffmann), replicants (Blade Runner), with lifesize dolls (Berlanga) … although here madness is motivated by extreme sexism … Less mired in misogynistic motivations, the beautiful fable of David Garnett on an English lady transformed into fox: the husband does not hesitate to sacrifice his life and his sanity, mutating himself in a wild and hermit person whose sole mission will be to protect her from hunters, melting at the end in a last embrace, between bullets and bites of bloodhounds.

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The ballad of Genesis and lady Jaye 2011

We also remember the transformation, this time real, to which the musician Genesis P-Orridge and his wife Lady Jaye submitted themselves to become a single body. P-Orridge challenged the boundaries that biology interposes to the feeling of amorous fusion. With successive operations of aesthetic surgery they surpassed the polarity that typifies couple’s relationships and reached a transpersonal oneness to which they called pandrogenia. They dissociated their identity from their natural bodies as an extreme response to their emotional state and artistic experimentation: drawing inspiration from Brion Gysin’s cut-up technique, whose sound potential had already explored in industrial music (with his group Throbbing Gristle), applied it now to the rupture of the genetic chain, to the symbolic remix of the DNA of both.

In the delirium of the amour fou lies a mystical attitude that allows to link the Persian legend of Majnun (the one who lost his mind for Layla) with the poetic realism of L’Atalante (Jean Vigo), or with the perception of the body as a prison whose bars is necessary to break in order to reach the amatoria fusion, either through the magic-surreal polymorphism or with the plasticity given to the surgical body.

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