Antoni Jach spoke to our lit theory class at The New School on Monday. He gave a lecture titled: “On the Usefulness of Literary Theory”, and it’s been on my mind for the past few days. Antoni talked a lot about “the Other” and desiring “the Other”. The other can be: a lover, a parent, a teacher- anybody we want something from.
We’ve all had “others”. I mean, duh. Even if we haven’t had a romantic “other”, we have wanted things from people and people have wanted things from us. The relationship between an “Other” and a person who wants the Other is the root of every plot line of literature, film, and life.
So, why is this a problem? People wanting things from others? Why the hell is that always such a source of conflict?
Because we all need something, and we all have something to give, but we can rarely ever give anyone exactly what they need. Except in the case of The Notebook, when do two people ever fully “complete” each other perfectly, and give each other everything they need until death?
Antoni used a picture from a dating website called Badoo on his handout. “Yeah, I met my husband on Badoo.” That sounds terrific. Anyway, the picture was a person like the guy above but the speech bubble said:
“I want to find my missing piece.”
This is Antoni’s 8th concept of literary theory: the missing piece. Alright, so we’re all walking around with this enormous missing piece, and we try and find that piece on dating websites or in churches, or whatever. But what I got out of Antoni’s talk was that everything has a missing piece, and the two missing pieces don’t necessarily make a whole. That’s concept six: “two lacks beget a new harmony.”
We all look around for people to be our “missing pieces”, and all they can do is bring another missing piece to the table. But that’s okay, right? Because being “whole” is a myth. I can’t think of anyone who’s whole. I think a lot of conflicts in literature, and in life could be solved if people stuck by the principle of the sixth concept:
”Two lacks beget a new harmony.”
So, maybe you won’t find somebody who is going to know exactly what to say and when to say it. Maybe you won’t find someone who will be like an extension of yourself, and who will make you feel so complete that you’re sure you’re done searching for anything. But what’s the fun in that? You’re complete- then what? Every body has holes, big gaping holes…Don’t be crude: I mean emotional holes. I think it’s wrong to think of a partner or another person as being your “missing piece”. I think you’ll be destined for misery then. I think it’d be much more fun to sit around with your two pits of emotional lack, and just be two unfinished projects together until you’re actually finished (a.k.a you die). That’s the new harmony, maybe: a harmony that has room for spaces. Pauses can be the most powerful parts of a song.