The most crucial difference in view here is that between desire and love. Before the creative Word or Logos, David Clark notes, ‘there was the hunger for the Word’ (1997: 16); or, alternatively, what psychoanalysis would designate ‘the drive whose true aim is the endless reproduction of its circular movement’ (Žižek 1996: 87 n.69). Drive, then, is desire ‘In-Itself’, unactualized in the subjectless fury of the Absolute in which there is only the indifferent flux of Freedom, but no free Subject as such. With the ‘eternally past’ advent of the Word, the embodied spirit (Self) that emerges is free only inasmuch as it is not completely itself; it is, rather, an embodied spirit, marked by finitude, death, and decay.1
Insofar as it is not itself, Schelling writes, in its embodiment this spirit is made ravenous flesh:
The spirit is consequently nothing but an addiction to Being. . . . The base form of the spirit is therefore an addiction, a desire, a lust. Whoever wishes to grasp the concept of spirit at its most profound roots must therefore become fully acquainted with the nature of desire . . . for [desire] is a hunger for Being, and being satiated only gives it renewed strength, i.e., a more vehement hunger (1994: 230).
Constituted as a free subject by virtue of its inherent lack of self-presence, the desirous Self cannot be satisfied. On the contrary, its desire, because historical and subjectived, is ‘always and by definition unsatisfied, metonymical, shifting from one object to another since I do not actually desire what I want.’ (Žižek , 1997: 80). Be careful of what you wish for, so the saying goes, because you just might get it. The same logic is at work here: ‘What I actually desire is to sustain desire itself, to postpone the dreaded moment of its satisfaction’ (ibid.).
* * *
‘I’m so tired. I can’t deal with any of this anymore. All your staring, your silence, your — Wait, now I remember: you wrote it. At the end of a letter. Do you remember? You said it. I have proof. Ha! I got you this time, don’t I? You shouldn’t write it if you don’t mean it. Didn’t anybody ever tell you that words mean something, that words are something? You should be more careful with your words.
‘You’re so fucking blind sometimes. You don’t think. I sometimes think you’re dead. I look at you, and I see an axe through your head, or a bullet in the wall behind you, having passed through your stomach, kidneys, and spinal cord, leaving you crippled at first, crumpled and alone until I show up too late, and I see you lying there, looking alive, eyes wide open. Staring.
Why can’t you see? Why don’t you look? You never look. If you would but once, just a peek, you’d see the tear. Right here. It’s sad, isn’t it? You did that. It’s your fault, all your fault, all yours. How does it feel? Feel it . . . feel it . . . touch it . . . taste it . . . just a sip . . . just a peek . . . look at it . . . think about it . . . its yours . . . you did it.
‘Now do it again.’
Every day the same —
* * *
For Schelling, if desire is related to a certain will-to-contraction, and thus to identity and wholeness, love is related to a supplementary will-to-expansion, the emergence of the free Self that is not itself. After the primordial deed of (self-)Creation, the quintessential, eternally past moment of love and freedom, the (contractive) desire for wholeness can only ever be frustrated by the (expansive) love that, as with Brooks’ depiction of the United State’s military operations in Iraq, must lose.
All this is to rearticulate Schelling’s critical point about evil. Namely, that evil is only truly possible in a free subject who has ‘lost’ itself; that is to say, evil as such must be freely chosen.2 For Schelling, ‘the general possibility of evil . . . consists in the fact that, instead of keeping his selfhood as the ground or the instrument, man can strive to elevate it to be the ruling or universal will, and, on the contrary, try to make what is spiritual in him into a means’. (1936: 68). Evil, then, emerges from the subject’s misguided sense of having ‘fallen’ from itself, and thus believing it has lost something that can be regained. This, Schelling notes, is the root of the free subject’s ‘spiritualized’ desire to ‘return’ to its status as (contractive) Universal / Ideal:
For even he who has moved out of the center retains the feeling that he has been all things when in and with God. Hence there springs the hunger of selfishness which, in the measure that it deserts totality and unity becomes even needier and poorer, but just on that account more ravenous, hungrier, more poisonous (ibid: 69).
Evil, in other words, can be said to be at the very heart of the free subject’s actual existence.
* * *
[A little more to come ... one more post, maybe two, if it turns out as long as this one.]
Even the most romantic of Romantics, Goethe, shared this ambivalence about nature:
Nature! We are surrounded and embraced by her – without being able to exit from her or to enter into her more deeply. Unasked and unwarned, we are taken up into the circuitry of her dance; she has her way with us, until we grow weary and sink from her arms. . .
We live in the midst of her and are foreign to her. She speaks to us ceaselessly and does not betray her secret to us. We work our endless effects on her, yet have no dominion over her.
She seems to have invested all her hopes in individuality, and she cares nothing for the individuals. Always she builds, always she destroys, and we have no access to her workshop.
She lives in a profusion of children, and their mother, where is she? –
She squirts her children out of nothingness, and does not tell them where they came from and where they are going. Their task is to run; hers is to know the orbit (qtd. in Krell, 1998: 3).
 Žižek is especially clear on this point: ‘On the one hand, nature can spiritualize itself, it can turn into the medium of Spirit’s self-manifestation; on the other hand, with the emergence of the Word, the obscure principle of Ground and Selfhood which hitherto acted as an anonymous, impersonal, blind force is itself spiritualized, illuminated; it becomes a Person aware of itself, so that we are now dealing with an Evil which, in full awareness of itself, wills itself as Evil – which is not merely indifference towards the Good but an active striving for Evil’ (1996: 64).