MARINA TSVETAYEVA'S PRACTICES OF LOVE.
The classic definition of envy, belonging to Freud, is formulated as an envy for penis – that is, the desire to possess the thing in relation to which the subject feels a lack. For Freud, the ideal subject of envy is the female subject. Nevertheless, Lacan re-formulates Freud's definition as he states that envy cannot be defined according to sex and is not a desire of a certain object or quality the subject is lacking but a desire of the Other as a desire to occupy his/her place.
Is not that desire to take the place of the Other, at the same time, the thing that we in other terms define as love – the lover's desire of possession? Love is never "innocent", it is always a battle for domination and submission, always a means for destruction of the Other's defense field in order to subordinate him/her to our desire…
Marina Tsvetayeva had a various and always dramatic experience of love, but her every love was constructed as a tormenting and powerful desire to possess the place of the Other, to unite with him/her letting there be not a slight separateness from herself. And her charm/envy/passion for the Other were always constructed as climaxes of hopes and disappointments, seeming gains and endless losses. We shall trace only two love stories which were most dramatic for Tsvetayeva's life: her love for a woman, Sofia Parnok, whom Tsvetayeva could not forget or forgive to the end of her days, and her love for her husband, Sergey Efron, which finally proved to be perilous for her, for him, and for their children…
Part1. Lesbian Bodies and Enjoyments
1. The Chains of Love. Female Desire
One of the effect of Marina Tsvetayeva's poetry and prose is the fact that behind them there always stand the names of those she loved. The most mysterious names in that row are not male but female names: Sofia Parnok, Sofia (Sonechka) Golliday, Assia Turgeneva, Salomea Andronnikova. The first of these names is linked to such a type of trauma that made Tsvetayeva remember and hate that name for the rest of her life – the name of her real lesbian girlfriend to whom the poetic cycle "Friend" is dedicated.
The relations of Tsvetayeva and Parnok which Tsvetayeva herself defined as "the first catastrophe" of her life, were extremely corporeal from the very start – so corporeal that it is obviously hard for Tsvetayeva to disengage herself from the relationship and to choose the words of love in the "Friend" cycle, which cannot be said of her love relations with men in which the level of words always dominates over the level of body. American researcher Diana Burgin supposes that in sexual relations with men Tsvetayeva did not experience orgasm, and that's why her sexual experience with Parnok shocked her so.
But this love, as any love, cannot be – as Lacan put it – reduced to sexual relations…
One of contemporary theoreticians of lesbian sexuality, Theresa de Lauretis, states that the object and the signified of lesbian desire are not anatomic entities like the genitals, vagina or penis. More likely, they are fantasmatic entities – the objects of desire, not appropriated for sexual purposes and being rather the signs of the lost object. To theorize clitoris as the primary and unique signified of female desire means, according to de Lauretis, simply to make clitoris equal to penis in psychoanalysts' traditional imagination. The thing which makes lesbian sexuality possible and differs it from heterosexuality is the fantasy of corporeal non-possession, that is, not a desire in respect to another woman but a structure called "desire of desire". Lesbian "narcissic wound" remains inescapable which makes desire repeat again and again forming an erotic economy of loss opposed to the phallic economy of domination.
Tsvetayeva's works dedicated to the women she loved – Sofia Parnok and Sonechka Gollyday – "Letter to the Amazon" and "The Story of Sonechka", are two different types of "chains of love" and female desire: love as domination and submission in the first case, and love as a mutual ultimate recognition in the other.
How did Tsvetayeva herself regard her love to Sofia Parnok? Sophia Polyakova quotes Tsvetayeva's diary: "In a similar way I, at the age of 22, was tormented by Sonia P-k but that was something other: she pushed me off, was cold as stone, pushed me with her legs, but – loved!"
It is also known that after the break of her relations with Parnok, Tsvetayeva could not write poetry for two months.
Objects which surrounded Parnok, as well as her dresses, smells, gestures, and perfumes, are visibly fetishized by Tsvetayeva. In her poems, we meet the fan and "black denim handbag" of her girlfriend, the handkerchief she used to withdraw "with a long gesture", White Rose perfume, gray fur of her coat, "streaming satin of dress", knitted black overcoat.
"How gaily glistened with snow
Your gray, your sable fur"
"We were: I, in a fluffy dress
Of slightly golden cloth,
You – in a knitted black overcoat
With a winged collar"
In the world of female desire there are no trifles which would suppose the division of the world in binary terms of "important" and "unimportant"; here, every detail is the center of love economy of desire: smell, color, gesture. A single detail of a female image or manner of dress could conquer Tsvetayeva better than any words. In this way, she has fallen in love with Assia Turgeneva whose profile and the way she held her cigarette proved to be more important than the words she pronounced. The break of Tsvetayeva's relations with Parnok in principle cannot be understood in terms Tsvetayeva later tries to explain it in her "Letter to the Amazon", that is, in terms of a moral ground. Lesbian economy of desire is founded upon a radical absence of the Other, when filling the place of the "narcissic wound" may be only temporary and accidental, when the regular kind of dominant relationship between "I" and "the Other" fails to be performed because the Other never takes the place of the phallus. This is why the place of Assia Turgeneva may be taken by Sophia Parnok, and vice versa, and then vice versa again…
Tsvetayeva does not want to be reconciled with that. For all her life, she is searching for the ideal Other, striving to close the gaping place of the void – she creates for herself "Seriozha", children, numerous acquaintances and friends, a circle of magic events and persons (Napoleon, Revolution, France). The lesbian type of her relations with Parnok she also attempted to construct in accordance with oedipal phallic scheme: Parnok is the fatal, untrue and experienced woman whose love is sought by Tsvetayeva, innocent like "a Spartan boy". Hence Tsvetayeva's definitions of Parnok as the "tragic lady", who is "impossible to save", who coldly looks at the beloved, and the latter is left but to pat the edge of her sleeve secretly.
But there was something in this relation which prevented Tsvetayeva from performing her phallic mythology. That is sexual enjoyment, orgasm, which she experienced with Parnok, in contrast to the priority of the symbolic in her love relations with her husband. The incredible sense of sexual enjoyment rapidly questioned the habitual dominant scheme of love: who is the winner, and who is defeated? Tsvetayeva was used to assert herself, her geniality, not only in poems but in acts as well – and in love, too. This is why, at Coctebel beach, when she first saw Seriozha, she was the first one to make a decision: she would marry him. This is why, in her relations with Parnok, from the very start, she asserts her active role of a knight who devotes himself limitlessly to the woman who captured him and, by that, causes a responsive reaction in her. This is why Tsvetayeva from the very start exigently offers herself and her erotic verse to Parnok – before the real establishment of their erotic interaction.
In this relationship, from the very start, Parnok's verse does not exist for Tsvetayeva: only her body does. Verse is only a frame of that relationship, it rather irritates Tsvetayeva who will years later tell her dream in which she was passing from one railroad van to another in order not to deal with her "silly" friend Parnok and her "naive" poems. Sofia Parnok's poetry is rather an appendix to Sophia Parnok's body, and that appendix irritates Marina.
Thus, lesbian sexual enjoyment shocks Tsvetayeva so that she is incapable to identify it. Incapable to identify her usual genial "I". So where is "she"? Why does "she" so strangely depend on Sofia who does nothing specially to maintain that dependence but simply enjoys the bodies of hers and Marina: that is just pleasant for her and she is used to act that way. It is as natural for her as her dresses, perfumes, monkey on a chain, flowers. While Tsvetayeva does nothing "naturally": she fights for everything, turns everything into "self-made things", she – contrast to the usual opinion! – does not know at all what "immediateness" is. For example, all expressive letters (including love letters) were first written by Tsvetayeva in drafts, and then, thoroughly corrected and rewritten, mailed to the addressee.
Tsvetayeva experiences a shock…
Sofia Parnok offered Tsvetayeva another kind of relations between space and languagee, unusual for Tsvetayeva. In Parnok's verse, like in orgasm which shocked Tsvetayeva so much, there's no unity and domination: poems are frequently accidental, hold together by some pressing facultativity, mime accidental details, mime other poets' words and rhythms. Finally, they don't reveal that author's "I" which Tsvetayeva valued so and on which she insisted in her own writing. That is the very "appendix" which annoys Tsvetayeva so much: she does not know how exactly she can identify it in her world – the world of victories and defeats, victories and despair, struggle and fall, when all/nothing is at stake.
It is paradoxical that Sofia Parnok's body was neither "fatal" nor "tragic". Moreover, the body of Parnok's main rival – the husband, Sergey Efron – was both more beautiful and more tragic. Marina Tsvetayeva writes so about him:
Your members are like algae,
Like branches of Malmeson willows,
So you lied, too white,
Having randomly stopped
On light golden melons
Aquamarine and chrysolite
Of blue-green, gray-blue,
Always half-closed eyes…
And Sofia Parnok – with both jealousy and irony:
And you, slender youth, are truly fair:
Two blue suns under the spears of lashes,
And curls in a dark-streamed whirl,
More glorious than laurel, crown the tender face.
Adonis himself is my young predecessor!
You started the vial I am given now –
Kissing the lips of my beloved
I enjoy the dolorous thought:
It was not you, oh youngster, who has set her free from charms.
Surprised by the flame of these lovesick lips,
Oh first one, not yours with jealousy –
My name will her lover recall.
But Sofia Parnok, in contrast to Marina Tsvetayeva, considered love and passion the main things in her life, not poetry. And one of the main tasks of her life was not to betray love with her verse. Marina Tsvetayeva had a different point of view: poetry was the main thing for her. And even passion was to be submitted to writing.
2. The Story of Seduction: Passon, Love, and Writing
The main type of love exchange Marina Tsvetayeva practiced all her life was inequivalent exchange, namely: poetry (her own) was exchanged for love (someone else's). What is verse (and writing in general) for Marina Tsvetayeva? It is the subject ("as it is") plus passion (that which is "more" than subject "as it is"). Tsvetayeva was categorically against the thing we know as "naked technique of writing": she demanded that poetic personality should be present in text. This is why, when a subject dedicated his/her poem to another person, he/she performs an act of gift, primarily – through the gesture of giving – undermining the logic of equivalent subjective exchange, because in this case subject gives significantly "more" than he/she is. So, in the gesture of gift of writing, subject gives something "unknown" than anyone "is", some immediate and absolute value. But, basing on the eternal human utopia of equivalent exchange, he/she expects to get back the same immediate and absolute value: love. The more poems and words Marina gives, the more she exceeds the measure of this giving, the more love she'll get back in exchange!
This is why she always started to give? she was always the first to give. She was the first to give her desperate resolution, trepidation, and care (and poems) to Seriozha Efron and his extraordinary fragile beauty at Coctebel beach ("well, what is he? what is he?" – she passionately asked her sister, – "extraordinary, isn't he?"), and Seriozha was captured forever by that passionate gift of that childish love. Marina was the first to give her poems and her limitless readiness for intimacy to Sofia Parnok, and in her firest lesbian gesture she was more resoulute than the lesbian Sofia Parnok. All her life, she was the first to measurelessly give other people, men and women, the gift of her writing and poems.
It is interesting that Tsvetayeva never needed the reponse of others' words, others' poems. In response, she could "endure" only strange verse, that of a classic – the famous "O Marina…" by Rainer Maria Rilke. As her poetic measure was measureless, she could, according to her own words, admit reciprocal poetic dedications to herself from the poetic figure absolute for her – poet Alexander Pushkin.
Marina's own words and poems was enough for her. Having first seen Seriozha Efron in Coctebel, she was amazed by his beauty, not his "writer's talents" which were quite significant, like those of their children, Ali and Mur. It was not Seriozha himself (his words, preferences, acts) but his love that Marina needed all her life long. One of Marina's 1941 passions, Tania Kvanina, was absolutely paralyzed: she did not know what and how to write to Marina in response to Marina's letters. Tania Kvanina thought she could not find "correct" (poetic, passionate, hot) words for the poet Marina Tsvetayeva, could not write at the level of Tsvetayeva's words. But the problem, tragic for Marina Tsvetayeva, consisted in the fact that Tania Kvanina could not find not words but love for Marina.
The problem consists in the fact that love never corresponds to the logic of equivalent exchange and always destroys it rudely and cruelly. And never in the history of writing and literature could poems be exchanged for love.
3. How Is Love Possible?
So, poems cannot be exchanged for love because poems remain a "work" while love appears only at the point of an unexchangeable absolute.
Marina Tsvetayeva's love was accepted by only a few men – Mandelshtam, Pasternak, and Rilke, and here we deal with platonic love. As a woman, she was loved by only two men – Sergey Efron and Konstantin Rodzevich. The rest of her numerous love stories are indefinite and, as a rule, unrequited. The paradox of love is in the fact that it emerges only at the point where it is doubtlessly impossible.
Let us recall Marina's two interlaced love stories. The first one is the two-year-long love with Sofia Parnok, the other is the love with Osip Mandelshtam which appeared and died at the moment of the break of her relations with Sofia Parnok (and Marina's acquaintance with Mandelshtam was conductive to the break). As we know the mutual acute interest/love of Marina and Sofia appeared at the first sight, at the first evening of their acquaintance. That passionate mutual love was not prevented even by the fact that Marina was married to Sergey Efron, and the new love was breaking and destroying her family life. It was First World War, and Sergey went to the front as a doctor not only because he considered that to be his debt of a Russian citizen and a patriot (though that was very important for a man like him) but also to avoid an equivocal situation.
Marina's poems addressed to Sofia Parnok seem to point at a certain disbalance in their relations. Marina does not conceal the fact that she is jealous and that she is not sure that her girlfriend is true. The girlfriend, as she appears in these poems, is more experienced and more mysterious than Marina herself and, for that reason, more distant and opaque in that economy of love. Marina loves her because the girlfriend never, even in the moments of ultimate intimacy, appears more accessible. But here are Marina and Sofia Parnok who come to Petersburg and stop at a hotel, and are invited to Mikhail Kuzmin's poetic soiree. Sofia Parnok felt sick and did not want to go. And she did not want Marina to go. Because here, at the territory of poetry, not love, they exchanged roles: now it was Sofia who was jealous of Marina towards all those she could meet at that soiree and who she could fall in love with. As Marina herself writes in a later letter to Kuzmin, she did not want to leave sick Sofia alone that evening and did not want to go; after mutual quarrels and persuasions, she still decided she would come for a short time and, really, came back to the hotel very soon. But at that soiree, there really happened the thing Sofia Parnok feared so much: Marina met Mandelshtam there after their first unnoticed meeting in Coctebel, and they have fallen in love with each other. After that, Mandelshtam visited Marina in Moscow, and the romance proceeded. In other words, in the moment Marina felt that her and Sofia Parnok's roles were exchanged – that it is Sofa now who loves Marina and is jealous of her – Marina rapidly changed her attitude to her girlfriend: she committed adultery. Now Sofia proved pathologically in love with Marina and feared losing her. Irony of fate made Sofia, from that "capricious lady of foreign breed", a disappointed offended woman.
But Marina's romance with Mandelshtam could last only to the point when there happened the event that left a trace on all Marina's further life. Once, as she came to Sofia Parnok in Moscow, she saw another woman sitting on Parnok's bed. Everything evidenced their intimacy. Marina was then so shocked by the betrayal that she could not recover from it for the rest of her life.
And only at this point emerged Marina's true love for Sofia because only at this point true love can emerge.
At this moment, Sofia as a subject re-gained the status of the object of Marina's love, the object loved for the thing in it which is "more than itself", while it is impossible to answer the question why lover loves it. Here we meet not just asymmetry of subject and object but a much more radical asymmetry – the lack of balance between how lover sees the beloved and what the beloved really is. The inevitable gap determining the position of the beloved consists in the fact that the beloved always feels that lover sees in him and wants from him something the beloved cannot give to the lover just because he does not possess it. In Lacanian terms, in love there is no balance between what the beloved possesses and what the lover lacks. The only way for the beloved to exclude that gap is to outstretch his/her arms to the lover and give her/him back his/her love in response, that is, to change the status of the beloved for the status of lover. But this is precisely the moment when the balance of love is broken and real love appears: I really love not when I am seduced by the other but when I feel the other, i.e. the object of love, as a lost one. Precisely when Parnok, having surrendered to Tsvetayeva's love, from an object of love turned into its subject, Tsvetayeva got the opportunity to fall in love with Mandelshtam. In his turn, when Mandelshtam surrendered to Tsvetayeva's love, also becoming the subject of love from its object, Tsvetayeva turned her back at him. Their romance was over. And in the moment she saw another woman sitting on the bed of Sofia Parnok, emerged the real love of Marina Tsvetayeva for Sofia Parnok which wounded Marina forever.
But, after that, they never saw each other. Moreover, as we know, in the year of hunger, 1919, Marina did all she could to prevent Sofia Parnok, who was then starving in Crimea, from obtaining extra food rate. And "The Story of Sonechka" and "Letter to the Amazon" were Marina Tsvetayeva's revenge to the object of her love, Sofia Parnok.
4. How Is Love Possible? (Sonechka Gollyday)
Sonechka Gollyday, to whom "The Story of Sonechka" (1937) is dedicated, was the Third Studio actress and the girlfriend of Marina Tsvetayeva in 1918-1919. In the story, she is depicted as being in love with both seraphic actor Yuri Zavadsky (as a man) and Marina Tsvetayeva (as a woman). One of the protagonists of the story is Pavel Antokolsky. When in November 1917 Marina went by train from Moscow to Crimea, a young officer going with her read a poem by his friend, dedicated to the February Revolution. The author's name was Pavel Antokolsky, and, having returned from Crimea to Moscow, Marina tried to find the poet. Antokolsky was not only a poet but also an actor at the experimental Third Studio in Moscow, headed by the director Yevgeny Vakhtangov. It was Antokolsky who introduced her to the world of theatre and theatre people who were Marina's closest friends for the next two years.
The main hero of "The Story of Sonechka" depicting those years' events was, as Tsvetayeva put it, "love itself".
The main love relations take place between "Yura" (Yuri Zavadsky, later a well-known Soviet theatre director), Marina, and Sonechka (actress Sofia Gollyday). Zavadsky's appearance resembled that of an angel, while he was in quite a non-angelic homosexual liaison with Pavel Antokolsky, as Simon Karlinsky stated.
Both Marina and Sonechka Gollyday were in love with Zavadsky: precisely because he, involved in the homosexual relations with Antokolsky, could not offer his love in response for female love, both women loved him. At the same reason, homosexual men always attracted Tsvetayeva (for example, the poet baron Anatoly Steiger in 1936, to whom "Poes for An Orphan" are dedicated) – precisely with their inaccessibility as objects of love. Steiger was in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Switzerland when their correspondence with Tsvetayeva started but, having left the sanatorium, he came not to her but to Georgy Adamovich and other gay friends in Paris. Tsvetayeva was offended and disappointed. Twenty-six expressive letters of Tsvetayeva and a poetic cycle of six poems are dedicated to Steiger.
Tsvetayeva's relations with Sonechka has the look of a touching and sentimental women's friendship founded upon endless mutual gifts (of words and of things) and losses. But this relationship ended for Marina Tsvetayeva as painfully as her liaison with Sofia Parnok. Having left on tour into the province from where she wrote a series of love letters to Marina which Marina later quotes in "The Story of Sonechka", Sonechka never made a single attempt to communicate with Marina after her return from the tour to Moscow.
However, while she could never forgive Sofia Parnok her faithlessness, Marina endlessly justifies Sonechka's treason because she knows that Sonechka loves her, Marina, and Marina is for her "more than father and mother", that is: in their relationship, Sonechka is the subject of love, and Marina is the inaccessible object. Tsvetayeva's play "The Adventure" written in the period of her romance with Sonechka and dedicated to Casanova, is also constructed upon the topic of inaccessibility of the object of love: Henriette as the object of Casanova's love and old Casanova as the object of love of the young Italian hotel maid.
So, love story as the story of seduction starts with the formation of a distance, when the subject of love must become its object. But the inaccessible object of love in her relationship with Sonechka and in 1917-1920 love lyrics, in which the main love object is always inaccessible – Duke Lauzin, the Comediant, the Prince, Henriette, the Stone Angel, Casanova, and others – inevitably appears to be not the Other but Marina Tsvetayeva herself as the master of her discourse of passion.
5. Maternal Passion As An Inequivalent Exchange
Let us pose a question traditional for feminist critique – the question of the situation of motherhood as the utopia of inequivalent exchange. The life of Marina Tsvetayeva as a mother was marked with the following events: the death of Irina in 1920 in starving Moscow, the arrest of Ali in Moscow in 1940, and – already after Marina's death – the death of Mur at the war.
As we know, the utopia of motherhood was one of the most passionate utopias in her life. Marina's relations with her daughter Alia who, as a little girl, was extremely responsive of Marina's soul life, are depicted in Alia's famous "Diary" which she started at the age of four, as well as in the numerous memoirs of Tsvetayeva's friends. Little Alia wrote about Marina: "My mom is extraordinary".
In 1917, Marina gave birth to her second daughter, Irina. But when both girls fell ill in the nursery where Marina placed them to save them from starvation, she took back and saved Alia alone, having practically chosen one daughter of the two. Irina died. Marina, as a mother, let herself perform that gesture, choosing one daughter of the two.
Concerning the further relations of Marina and Alia it is known that Marina for quite a long time, till the age of 12, did not let Alia go to school, which was the cause of her constant quarrels with Seriozha. Finally, Sergey Efron insisted, and Alia was given to school. But Alia's schooling was interrupted by the necessity to take care of Mur, the son born in 1925, and to take him for walks. Marina excused that by the idea that she had to "write": she writes while Alia and Mur are out. Alia adored her father and avoided close communication with her mother which often resulted in quarrels. When, in 1939, Alia was the first of the family to leave for Soviet Russia, she, in fact, ran away from the mother, her oppressive presence.
The next decisive maternal gesture of Marina's choice was her gesture of death – the suicide, and the treason of Mur. Mur was left alone, in an alien country he only knew from books, in the small town of Yelabuga, without any means of support; his father, sister, and aunt (Anastasia Tsvetayeva) were arrested, in Moscow in a one-room apartment lived elderly and sick Lilia and Vera Efron who needed help themselves and could not help Mur abandoned by Marina. The sister, Anastasia Tsvetayeva, being back from Stalinist prison camps, attempted to explain the situation by the fact that Marina found herself facing another choice: with her death, she tried to save Mur, not to impose her "dark" past upon him and thus to let him live even in the conditions of Stalinist terror. Meanwhile, we know that Marina and Mur often quarreled before the death of Marina, but in her posthumous note to Mur Marina – even if she wanted to save him by her death! – did not address a single word personally to Mur. She only addressed "Dad and Alia" through him: "Tell Dad and Alia – if you see them – that I loved them to my last minute and explain them I was in a dead end".
No consolation or support. Only an advice to seek help from another person, Aseyev. And a separate letter to Aseyev with a passionate pray to help Mur, though how could the clerk, stranger Aseyev help her son instead of her? And Asyev really did not help.
Revenge is also one of the most effective ways to destroy logic of equivalent exchange. The gesture of mother's revenge was the last gesture of Tsvetayeva's passionate love for her son.
After the death of his mother, Mur explained to various acquaintances that "Mom acted rightly" (he, that boy, wounded since childhood by his parents, was generally inclined to stress rationality of his discourse), graduated from school in Tashkent, tried very much to be "like everyone" (contrast to his mother) but still did not manage to survive and perished at war (before going to front, he wrote to his sister that he "would surely survive" and "surely make a success).
There's a proposition, put forth by Simon Karlinsky, that Georgy Efron was shot at front by his regiment's sergeant for inobedience…
6. "Love Another, No – Others, No – All…"
A Topography of Female Envy
Both lesbian girlfriends of Marina Tsvetayeva who really loved her and to whom her best known works, the poetic cycle "Friend", "The Story of Sonechka", and "Letter to An Amazon", are addressed – both left her in the end. Sofia Parnok, as we know, met another woman, actress Liudmila Yerarskaya, and Sonechka Gollyday, after her return to Moscow from a tour, just did not ever visit Marina again or called her. What happened to that love? Why did it fail?
Let us turn for explanation to the theory of lesbian sexuality. Elisabet Gross, contrary to Theresa de Lauretis, offers to regard lesbian desire not in negative terms of loss or lack but in Deleuzian terms of production, action and making.
As a production, desire does not provide models, ideas, or purposes, but experiments and newly invents them every time. Gross refuses to view lesbian sexual partnership either in terms of a narcissist doubling or in terms of self-reflexion or supplementation. Instead of memory and reproduction, desire is ruled by intensity of enjoyment. In this sense, though desire is objectively intended, it does not have privileged purposes or objects.
Instead of organic body, Gross suggests to define the body of lesbian desire as an orgasmatic body which is comprised of not hierarchic but horizontal erotic parts or zones. Relations of the zones cannot be regarded in terms of domination, control, or mastery, but must be regarded in terms of envy: when one organ, to say so, envies another, desiring it, expressing as a whole the general intensity of corporeal, orgasmatic context. The movement of envy is non-stop and does not lead to possession, domination, or control. The intensity of orgasmatic body cannot be filled, completed, as it contains an inevitable and inescapable trace of changeability as such, thanks to the characteristics of otherness of the very subject of desire which exceeds it. Interaction of the subject with the other only increases the general effect of bodily intensification, always open for any re-distribution. In such case, sexual act cannot be regarded as a completion, investment, or purpose, as it is a non-directed mobilization of excitability without any guarantee of consequences or results – even of an orgasm. Orgasm must not be understood as a completion of sexual intercourse, its final culmination and "the little death": quite the opposite, it must be applied to any and each part of the body and, besides, be a form of transsubstantiation, a turn from completion to becoming. In fact, Gross believes, sexuality can no more be regarded in terms of phallus – as an organ or as a function. And, instead of explaining and theorizing it, we need to experiment with it, to enjoy its various modalities, searching for such moments of self-loss and intensity when there is no more place left for reflexion.
However, for Marina Tsvetayeva love was exclusively a struggle and an inequivalent exchange. Let us recall how she got lost in her relationship with Radzevich who regarded her simply as a woman, not a poet or a fighter suffering from human misunderstanding. Answering Victoria Schweizer's question, how he and Tsvetayeva came to love each other, Rodzevich answered: "We simply lived nearby". We may imagine how frightened Tsvetayeva was in that situation of her female dependence from him and the possibility to lose the unequal exchange of a genius with common people, to admit the situation of exchange of suffering (and, consequently, creative work!) for common feelings. Her love relationships with Sofia and Sonechka were no less dramatic in their structure and results.
So, how, from the point of view of lesbian theory of sexuality, can we explain the relations of Marina Tsvetayeva with Sofia and Sonechka? What precisely could not Marina Tsvetayeva grasp in them?
Parnok was the only Russian poetess who, starting from her cycle "Roses of Pieria", openly wrote about lesbian love, openly addressing another woman from her own female name. The life of Sofia Parnok since her youth was different from that of Tsvetayeva: her first loves were loves of girls, in other words, she was a lesbian even before she realized that. This is why later she never tried to conceal her love of women and was not ashamed of it, as that was simply her life and she could not live another way. In her love lyrics, she always used her name alone (and only in her critical articles at the very start of her literary activity she used the pseudonym Andrey Polyanin). Lesbian nature of Sofia Parnok was not a challenge or experiment, unlike those of Tsvetayeva, Gippius, or Zinovyeva-Annibal. That simply was her life, her love, and she did not choose anything of fight for anything. She just lived.
In her private life, Parnok was very caring of the people she loved. When Liudmila Yerarskaya whom Parnok called "Mashenka" fell ill first with tuberculosis and then with a psychic disease (paranoia: she believed that she was surrounded by enemies who hypnotize her and fill her with vile thoughts), Parnok nursed her, moreover, she did it together with her new girlfriend, the professor of mathematics Olga Tsuberbiller. All her life, Parnok experienced an inescapable sense of guilt before "Mashenka" for her psychic disease because the first attack of the disease happened in 1924 the day she spent a night with Parnok. After the death of Parnok all three her former lovers – Yerarskaya, Tsuberbiller, and Vedeneyeva – were close friends and supported each other.
Her relations with poetry were arranged in a similar way: "…I started to think of poetry seriously almost without having read anything. Now, I cannot read the things I ought to, that bores me… If there is an idea, it does not dwell on anything but itself". About Tsvetayeva we know an opposite thing: she, like her mother Maria Alexandrovna, read a lot and was ultimately a woman of books. For Sofia Parnok, on the contrary, her real vital relations were much more important than books to the end of her life. Her childhood and youth are full of passionate romance with girls and she changed her life as she left her native provincial Taganrog for Switzerland, enamoured with some actress (and not to get a higher education in Switzerland). The attitudes of Parnok and Tsvetayeva to their poetry also differ. It is known, for example, that Tsvetayeva, as she intended to follow her husband and daughter in their return to Soviet Union, spent much effort to sort, re-write, and save her archives, while a great part of Parnok's early works (mostly prosaic), as well as the books she translated, were simply lost. While Marina highly valued and kept her writings all through her life, Sofia was losing everything, preferring life to poetry, as always. Their attitudes to the creative process differed too: while Marina extremely valued creative self-realization (and always suffered as her work was interrupted by, for example, family situation), Parnok writes the following: "…I have only one moment of love to the thing I am writing – it is the moment when I imagine what I am thinking already written. And then, after I have written it, I am not satisfied, I am annoyed or, what is the worst, indifferent". A striking difference of their lives is also showing in the fact that, while Marina regarded her life as a heroic struggle or tragedy, Sofia quite often notes that her life resembles rather a "pulp novel" ("As I look back at my life, I feel embarrassment, as if reading a pulp novel…").
Thus, the strategies of desire Elisabeth Gross writes of, were fulfilled in the life of Sofia Parnok: desire without hierarchies or evaluations, constructed beyond moral preferences or limitations. A real assemblage of that type of desire admitted the joint mutual love and care of three women: Parnok herself, Yerarskaya, and Tsuberbiller, and later Sofia Parnok's "last love", Nina Vedeneyeva, joined them. All these women remained very close to each other and continued to care about each other even after the death of Sofia Parnok in 1938.
Of course, Sofia Parnok's lesbian economy of desire simply refused to hold the phallic rhythm of relations (all / nothing) Marina Tsvetayeva suggested. This is why Sofia left Marina for another woman (Yerarskaya) so easily and so easily, without a slight regret, she continued her life without her, being a figure avoidin the phallic rhythm. So will she remain, blinking beyond Tsvetayeva's power: her poetry, her love, her jealousy, and her limitless loneliness.
It is worth mentioning that Parnok remained grateful to Tsvetayeva and continued to love and appreciate her to the end of her life. Till the end of her life, the photo of Marina was standing at a small table near the bed of Sofia Parnok. Sofia always loved and priced Tsvetayeva's poetry – and used its tunes in her own verse (which was categorically impossible for Marina!). She never opposed her lovers and loved each in a special way.
…And she could not even suppose that love and hatred of her Marina has brought through all her life, having never completely recovered from that "first catastrophe"! That after their break, Tsvetayeva wished her to die of starvation. That she was satisfied as she, in Paris, learned the news about Parnok's real death in Moscow in 1938. That in the distant Paris she revenged her in her works. That she never suffered from loneliness so much and did not ever love or hate anyone so desperately and selflessly as she loved and hated Sofia Parnok in Russia in 1914-16.
PART 2. "IF ONLY YOU ARE ALIVE, I WILL FOLLOW YOU LIKE A DOG TILL THE END OF MY LIFE…" OR, WHAT IS LOVE
1. "What Has Happened?" – After Death
When, in November 1937, In Vanves, instead of Sergey Efron who had disappeared after the murder of Ignaty Reiss, French police arrested his Wife Marina Tsvetayeva and interrogated her, Marina started to read poetry in French in reply. Besides Corneille and Racine, she recited her poem "Good Lad", written in 1924.
After that, Marina was released and never disturbed again.
The first part of the poem describes the following: the girl Marussia happens to have a stranger fiancй, she does not know where he comes from. The girl's mother teaches her how to find out where the man lives: to attach a thin thread to his button and, by the thread, to trace his way home. The thread brings Marussia to the cemetery where her fiancй… grinds a dead man's bones with his teeth, being a vampire. Later, he warns Marussia that he will kill her brother the next night unless she stops him. To stop him, she must tell the truth about how she saw him at the cemetery, call him by the name (call him vampire) and make the sign of the cross over him. Marussia does not betray him, and he bites her brother to death. The next night he warns her that he will kill her mother unless she stops him. Marussia does not stop him. The next night he comes to Marussia, drinks Marussia's blood, and Marussia dies.
The first possible interpretation of this situation would certainly be an attempt to explain Marussia's all-devouring love for the vampire for the sake of which she sacrifices her family and herself. But the second attempt to interpret this tragic love situation may be the following: we face the projection of Marina's phantasm at some inadequate object, that is, the replacement of the real subject by phantasm of love object: the image of a beautiful stranger. But the situation is still more complex. The crucial points of the poem are the three attempts of the good lad, the vampire, to offer himself to Marussia as he is – as a vampire, i.e. out of that phantasm of the beautiful stranger which Marussia starts to construct at the moment of their first meeting at a village dance party. And at these crucial moments Marussia refuses to accept that "second reality" of the vampire, i.e. the things she witnessed at the cemetery.
"Have you been, have you seen?" – "No"
Her love of the perfect phantasm proves stronger than care of her own life when she learns the second truth about her vampire sweetheart. And her death expresses the sense of guilt and appears as a rebate for the fact that she refused to accept his real self as he was, beyond the fantasy pattern she constructed – the vampire.
Why did Marina Tsvetayeva, interrogated by the French police, having first learned about her husband being an NKVD agent since 1931 and the organizer of the murder of Ignaty Reiss, and declaring to the police: "His sincere beliefs could be deceived but my own belief in him will remain undisturbed", why did she nevertheless read the poem "Good Lad" describing primarily love, deception, treason, murder, sacrifice, and death? Does not her choice of this very poem, in which Marussia perishes for her love of the vampire, to read at the interrogation, witness the paradox of Marina Tsvetayeva and Sregey Efron's relations in all their life? Marina Tsvetayeva will also finally perish in the Soviet Union where she will go nineteen months after that interrogation in order to follow Sergey Efron whom she will meet only in 1939 in Bolshevo. That night in Suretй in Paris was a lethal blow for her.
"If only you are alive, I will follow you like a dog till the end of my life," – Marina wrote to her husband in the letter she passed to him over the frontier, with the help of Ilya Erenburg, having for almost five years not known whether Sergey Efron was alive. And later, as Sergey proved alive, after they met in Paris, she was virtually performing that oath till the end of her life, till her death.
But let us not forget: Marina and Alia were late to meet the train at which Sergey Efron arrived to Paris from Prague, late for their first meeting after almost five years' separation. The platform was already empty, Marina and Alia rushed to the station square where they did not find anyone either, then they returned to the platform and saw Sergey standing lonely. And let us not forget: it was at that time that Marina had fallen in love with Vishnyak to whom she later dedicated her "Florentian Nights". As Sergey Efron himself put it in his letter to Max Voloshin, when they met after the five years' separation "The fire was not made by me".
The key to the question why, after all her love affairs, Marina Tsvetayeva always returned to Sergey, bore the son she promised to him, supported him, that weak and hesitating man, in all his business and interests, having totally released him from household work and from the necessity to earn his and his family's living, tried hardly to earn the family's money with her own writing, is in the admittance of Marina's sacrificial love for Sergey. Nikolai Eleniov, Sergey's friend in the White Army and in Prague, said that Sergey was a weak man, he needed his wife's support and was subject to her. Knowing well about his weakness and, at the same time, about her geniality, she was nevertheless sacrificing her life to him and the family.
However, another attempt of interpretation is possible. Marina came to know Sergey in Coctebel, and he amazed her with his extraordinary beauty and unattainable fragility. The phantasm of Seriozha was formed though the series of male nobility and honor which she had been granting to her heroes – Duke Lauzin, Napoleon, young generals of the year 1812. That fantasy love scenario of "the hero" Marina formed long before she met Seriozha, and when there happened that real encounter with a real person, Marina just replaced the real object with a fantasy love object. Tsvetayeva desperately refused to regard Sergey Efron out of the fantasy love pattern all her life long. Thus her pathetic: "His sincere beliefs could be deceived but my own belief in him will remain undisturbed".
How did the relations of the two people develop after that tragic night Marina spent at Suretй in Paris in November 1937?
Marina issued a request for Soviet embassy to return to the USSR and moved from Vanves to Innova, a small and cheap hotel in the 15th arrondisment, in order to hide from contempt that surrounded her. Only two families in Paris continued to communicate with her. Such life lingered on till June 1939; on June 12, 1939, she writes her next letter from the West to Anna Teskova. On June 18, 1939, Marina and Mur arrived in Moscow. Here Marina learned that her sister Anastasia was in exile since 1937 (she was rehabilitated only in 1959), that Sergey is sick and close to despair, that they are held locked at Bolshevo, at their grim dacha. In August, Alia was arrested (she returned to Moscow only in 1955, after prison camps and an exile). Several weeks later Sergey was arrested. Marina and Mur spent the winter 1939-1940 in extreme poverty in Golitsyno Writers' Creative House, Marina was preoccupied with providing Sergey Efron in Butyrka prison with food. Only in April 1941 came a message from Alia, evidencing that she was alive. In early summer 1941 Marina and Mur succeeded in receiving a room at the fourth floor in Golitsyno House but on June 22 war broke out, and on August 21, 1941, Marina and Mur were evacuated to Yelabuga. These were the last ten days of her life. On August 1941, Marina Tsvetayeva hang herself in Yelabuga, in the anteroom of the wooden house where she with Mur rented a room; she left a letter for Mur and a letter for Aseyev asking him to take care of Mur.
Mur, as we know, soon perished at war. Marina's death deprived the jailed Sergey and Alia of food she sent which is the main value of the prisoners (Sergey was supposed to be alive as the prison still accepted food parcels for him).
Why did Marina betray her family, refusing to live on? Was it her revenge on them? And why did she betray Sergey while she obviously was sacrificing her life to him? Was that her revenge precisely on him?…
Why did she hang herself in the anteroom, so that anyone who came in would see her hanging? That "anyone" had to be her sixteen-year-old, incapable of living in the Soviet Union, son Mur…
In the problem of suicide, we always face the fact that "normal" relationship between cause (for example, the authorities' refuse to permit Tsvetayeva to move to Chistopol from Yelabuga) and effect (suicide and her son's indefinite fate) are always perverted. As Bredelschikova, the hostess of Marina and Mur in Yelabuga, witnessed, Tsvetayeva "brought with her two kilograms of flour, of cereals, one kilo of sugar, and several silver spoons". "They had many things… she could maintain herself some time more… she would, even after they ate everything up," – the hostess added, thus confirming the normative logic of causality. According to this logic, we instantly fix a break between cause (bad but not critical – Tsvetayeva was even permitted to move to Chistopol! – conditions of living) and effect (Tsvetayeva reacting at these conditions with her suicide). That is, in the case of suicide, we face an obvious gap between cause and effect when causal chain is broken and the effect does not correspond to the cause. A regular way to regard this gap offers an explanation by means of the phenomenon of female hysteria: a woman is unable to apprehend and evaluate exterior causes soberly and clearly; she projects her own unshaped understanding into them. Tsvetayeva's famous "romance in letters" which always ended for her with a tragedy of misunderstanding (with Vishnyak, with Bahrah, with Ivask, and with Steiger) seem to confirm that eternal tragic break between action and a woman's inadequate reaction to it. When a male subject reveals his attention and respect for the poet Tsvetayeva (Bahrah, for example, wrote a positive review of Tsvetayeva's writings), Tsvetayeva's reaction does not coinside with this signal to such an extent (all poetic signs of attention from men were always regarded by Marina Tsvetayeva as an expression of their love for her as a woman) that all young men listed above finally had to stop their correspondence with her. Lacan calls such situation a logic of anamorphosis. Hysterical female subject reacts at a causal event in such a way that the reaction is never a direct effect of the given cause but rather a consequence of a distorted perception of the cause. The thing that always breaks the causal chain and overturns causal bonds, making effect more primary than cause, is precisely the female depression, a woman's suicidal ability to elude into herself (lethargy and death). The effect of such elusion and respective acts (suicide, for example) are, as the gap in the causal chain, always more primary than the causes that caused them. This is why we can not explain the suicide of Marina Tsvetayeva by the chain of causal events, the sequence of which started to develop from that 1937 November night in Suretй in Paris, and ended on August 31, 1941, with the loop in Yelabuga. Neither can we explain, dwelling on the poem "Good Lad", Marina's treason of her family (which was brought to death by the good lad vampire) and her own desire of death.
B. "What Has Happened?"
From this point of view, how can we interpret Marina's suicide?
Let us return to the November night in Suretй in Paris when Marina was arrested and informed about her husband's "affairs". And when, in reply, she read "Good Lad" in French.
So, a certain dramatic took place, "something has happened", as Gilles Deleuze puts it. The researchers in Tsvetayeva's writing vary in responding to the question, whether Marina had known something about Seriozha's activities connected with Soviet secret service. For example, Irma Kudrova believes that Tsvetayeva knew something because, after Seriozha's disappearance, she obviously had some communication with the Soviet Union, she obviously received some instructions on how she would be, what she would do, and how she could get to Moscow.
Victoria Schweitser brings us an evidence of the fact that, being already in the Soviet Union, Sergey Efron was receiving letters from Mur. It is clear, at the same time, that Tsvetayeva was always so preoccupied with herself, her own feelings, and her writing, that she naturally could refuse to inquire (and she never did inquire or, if she did, inquired superficially) about all aspects of Seriozha's activities in all his life. It is also clear that many of the things that interested him in his life (for example, his early writing or his fascination with the ideas of Russia and of the White movement which followed the writing period, his study of the history of old Russian art in Prague and his study at the cameramen's courses in Paris, his keen interest in Eurasian ides and his journalism and organizing activity connected with that interest) seemed boring to Marina. Once in Coctebel she explained to her sister Assia that Seriozha was "extraordinary" (and the sister Assia and the daughter Alia) did sincerely and for all their lives accept that Marina's formula) and that it was why she loved him and would marry him.
But what exactly constituted that Marina's concept of Seriozha's "extraordinariness"?
The concept of Seriozha's "extraordinariness" never included, for example, his intellectualism or the level of his spiritual development (these were the things Marina possessed in excess herself and, consequently, never sought in him). The "extraordinariness" was regarded, first of all, as a set of some corporeal and sensual characteristics, primarily Seriozha's extraordinary beauty, extraordinary sensitivity and delicacy, extraordinary vulnerability and selflessness. Seriozha came from a really extraordinary family: his mother belonged to a famous noble family of the Durnovos but, for the sake of the revolutionary movement, she left her parents' home and came to revolution (and even revolutionary terrorism) and married a Jew – the father of Seriozha. All of Seriozha's relatives were amazingly beautiful and delicate people, and all of them were extremely close and attached to each other. When Assia, who had not known them before, came to Coctebel, she was deeply amazed by the extraordinary beauty, naturalness of those people and, at the same time, the fact that they were totally unlike all other people, they did not coincide with the life she was accustomed to, as if they were some entirely unearthly beings. When Seriozha's younger brother, the family's pet, committed suicide in Paris (shot himself), the mother also committed suicide the same night (hung herself). If it were not for his sisters, Seriozha would not survive after that tragedy, he would also die as he was endlessly fond of his mother. This is why Marina adopted Sreiozha's extraordinary vulnerability and sensitivity for all her life, from the first day of their acquaintance. The concept of "extraordinariness" also included special, "noble" and old-fashioned beliefs on honor, duty, and heroism: mother's refuse of the parents' help, and her heroic life among the poor, and the heroic ability never to feel sorry about the things that had happened. All of their children have also became revolutionaries and loved Russia keenly. Any painful situation in the country was regarded by Seriozha as his own personal painful situation. The fragile, beautiful and, at the same time, brave, just and selfless, never breaking the principles of honor, reacting literally with his skin to any external word or event, Seriozha…
To use the language of philosophy, in the image of Seriozha, Marina perceived/admitted only an expressive and dramatized "corporeal depth", in the terms of Gilles Deleuze, of Seriozha's life but not its "sense surface".
Thus, even if Marina knew the events that took place in the life of Seriozha, she could only apprehend them in a well familiar context of "Seriozha's extraordinariness" which could have nothing to do with the real life of Sergey Efron.
Nevertheless, what had Marina Tsvetayeva to feel on that night in Suretй in Paris when, in reply to the information she got about Seriozha, she started to read her "Good Lad", in spite of her famous reply to the police, "His sincere beliefs could be deceived but my own belief in him will remain undisturbed"?
She surely was shocked and continued to live in that shock till her very death on August 31, 1941, in Yelabuga.
But what shocked Marina was not so much the concrete facts from Seriozha's life the police informed her about, as the necessity to face the reality of the other's life out of the symbolic chain of the signifiers through which she was only capable to apprehend that other's life. The symbolic order of reality she lived in for all her life, collapsed, and she faced the true Real which she inevitably was to regard as a situation of treason: one instead of another. The matter was not that Sergey Efron turned to be a Soviet spy, that he spied on Trotsky's son who was later killed, that he organized the murder of Ignaty Reiss and the kidnapping of General Miller – but the fact that, for her, he turned to be the one whom she, as it showed, did not know at all: the other.
Most certainly, she really knew nothing and did not have any explanations from Seriozha who was already for a long time living his life with Marina without expecting even elementary understanding. In her letters to Teskova, Marina even complained that they lived separate lives and that the question of the attitude to Soviet Russia was a real catalyst that revealed that difference. But the thing that shocked Marina most at the moment was the fact that, having no explanations and no knowledge about that newly revealed situation of her own life, she already could not clear it up with Seriozha. The situation of explanation could regulate that shock of her facing the Real, as it always happens in the procedure of explanation. He obviously did not even leave her a letter of explanation (because how can one explain the Real?), and this also had to be regarded by her as a treason, an abandon. And, in this abandon, already nothing could be changed, improved, or just smoothed away. She did not expect him to be able to abandon her so cruelly; he, on his part, certainly understood what she would have to experience when the truth is uncovered. An encounter wit the Real can ruin a whole life.
For nineteen months more after that Marina, who must have had only scarce news from Russia, was starving and hiding with Mur from the people she knew in a small and cheap Paris hotel. She was in a state of both despair and tiredness.
She almost could not write letters anymore. But the main thing was that she stopped to write poetry.
When she and Mur finally came to Moscow, Sergey did not meet them at the railway station, being sick in Bolshevo near Moscow. Marina was not told that Assia was arrested in 1937. Soon Alia was arrested, as well as Sergey himself. He could not offer his family nothing but his own helplessness and sickness. Marina never managed to get rid of the situation of treason.
C. "What Has Happened"-2
But there is another possible interpretation of "what has happened".
When, she replied to the Paris police which informed her and gave her a chance to look at the face of the reality with her reading "Good Lad", she performed a radical gesture of refusing the reality and, as follows, one more gesture of refusing Seriozha's life. Reading "Good Lad", she identified herself with Marussia and her readiness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her beloved. Seriozha was "extraordinary", and it was only in this quality that he was permitted to be present in Marina's life. In that gap in the symbolic chain where emerged the possibility of another Seriozha, out of the fantasy pattern of her desire, Marina averted her glance from the Real. Like a witness at a confrontation averts his glance from a suspect. Averting her glance, Marina betrayed Seriozha's life once again, preferring symbolic signifiers and the power of her desire to it (to the Real).
In a small cheap hotel in Paris Marina gave herself to one more platonic romance with a male homosexual – this time, the young Yuri Ivask who has later become a preofessor of Russian literature in American universities.
When, after an almost two years' separation, Marina meets sick Seriozha in Bolshevo, she betrays him once again. "The illness of S. The fear of his heart attack, – she wrote to Teskova. – Scraps of his life without me – I do not have time to listen: a lot to do, I listen like on a spring. The cellar: 100 times a day. When to write?
…I start to understand that S. is powerless, utterly powerless, in everything…"
Her writing, her poetry remain the sole measure of her life even against the background of the dying Seriozha. And if he can no more provide her with the possibility of existence of the symbolic reality she is accustomed to (in spite of the hard living, she still always had the possibility to write poetry and, surely, Sergey Efron was the person who ensured her priority of the values of symbolic reality as the main values of life), she qualifies him as powerless. "Scraps of his life without me" she still does not need. In her letters of that period his name, "Seriozha", is reduced to the plain "S.". All her life, Marina used Seriozha's love to organize a symbolic space which would be able to provide her identity and confirm her status of a lovo object.
After Seriozha's arrest, she had some more romance in Golitsyno (including her romance with Tania Kvanina) and in Moscow (with young Arseny Tarkovsky), all of them ending, as always with her, sadly… With her suicide, Marina destroyed the possibility for Seriozha to receive food parcels in Butyrka prison.
2. Investigations: The Symbolic And the Real
And now let's turn to the facts none of the participants of this story of passion and of this tragedy knew, the facts uncovered only many years after the death of many of them.
From the protocols of Butyrka prison investigations we know that, a month after her arrest, having been tortured, Alia testified against her father (whom she loved very much), she told he was a French spy. Evidence of Sergey Efron being a spy was also given by the spouses Klepinin who worked in his group in Paris and lived at Bolshevo dacha together with Tsvetayeva's family before their arrest. But we also know that the weak, beaten, ill with tuberculosis, psychically ill and hallucinating Sergey Efron never admitted his guilt, never calumniated anyone and, feeling sorry, he even attempted to support the people who betrayed him at confrontations. There is also a prison legend about how, when Lavrenty Beria took Sergey Efron for investigation, he was so annoyed by the inexorability of the ill and weak Efron that he went berserk and shot him right in his room.
Protocols of investigations witness a paradox: Sergey Efron did not lie and answered the truth to all questions. The truth was that he was not a French spy and was not connected with the Trotskists, and that was why, in spite of the tortures, he could not confess the opposite.
This is amazing. As we know, the NKVD rejected the practice of formal investigation, performing the procedure of investigation as a personal intrigue with the investigated, giving the latter a lot of symbolic hopes and hints for the demanded confession. They all were finally getting involved in that symbolic game, like Alia Efron was (for example, she describes the CheKa men who came to arrest her as "pleasant young men"). But Sergey Efron, being, contrary to Marina Tsvetayeva, primarily a man of action, performed his life at an asymbolic level – the level of literal rules of honor suggested to him since childhood by his family. What is the real, according to Lacan? It is the irreducible limit which, performing multiple symbolizations, itself resists symbolization. Lacan discerns asymbolic life strategies of a psychotic and symbolic strategies of a hysteric. Everything Marina Tsvetayeva, with her desire of "reality", met in her life, was instantly subject to symbolization; everything Sergey Efron did in his life was the literality of keeping the rules of honor which resisted any symbolization or interpretation. He literally loved the Fatherland, children and Marina, literally sacrificed himself for the sake of Russia, literally lived in full accordance to his notions of life, and literally never lied, principally failing to understand how it was possible to be another way. To the interrogator's question of what anti-Soviet work his wife did, he honestly replied that, though she had "non-Soviet views", she "did not do any anti-Soviet politic work".
Just for the sense of danger he would better be silent about her "non-Soviet views"! But he did not know an imaginary sense of danger: only the real sense of honor. His only short novel described the relations of young people, reflecting the real relations with Marina, and he could not engage himself in any writing/symbolization anymore, preferring action to interpretation. Was not this why Marina so faithfully, up to her own death, shared her life with Sergey – because he embodied for her that desired place of the Real which she, like any poet, strove all her live to touch but which, at every her touch, instantly turned onto series of interpretation and symbolizations? Was not the traditional envy at penis transformed in their relationship into an envy at the Real which, contrary to Lacan's "I think where I do not exist" in the face of Sergey meant something radically unattainable – the coincidence of the level of concept with the level of being?
Finally, we shall make three conclusions about the practices of love:
1. What is hidden from a normal glance but makes the essence of the phenomenon of love – that love is not an imaginary or illusory phenomenon but a traumatic effect of the Real, which is revealed only when all illusory or symbolic parameters of the object of love are destroyed.
2. In spite of all attempts at symbolization and interpretation, the phenomenon of love is based on an unsymbolizable residue, a trauma of enjoyment, which precisely makes love unbearable, and the object of love – always "more than it is".
3. Love performs itself as a power-structure of envy and desire of the Other but, at the same time, a structure of an obstacle preventing from performing an equal love exchange. And it is only at the point of the love dysbalance that real love emerges.