Words of love, love letters and proofs of love are a constellation which love gestures are included. Now, if we have to judge the magnitude of each one of its four stars by the literature produced around them along history, we should concluded that love gestures are the star less important in the group. What´s the reason of this?
A very simple argument could be invoked, capable of closing the question: words, letters and proofs of love are just varieties of love gestures. Consequently, to speak of the first three is to speak of the last and it subsumes them. The proposal is seductive, since the argument seems obvious, but if we review in detail what we usually understand by «gestures of love» we will notice that some of these are neither proofs, nor letters, nor words.
To prove, it is enough to give a single counterexample, and we find it in the last story of the movie Relatos salvajes (Szifron, 2014). Revenge has a major role in the six stories of this film, but the common core of all is indignation: the protagonists enreged because they were not treated with dignity, or they lose the dignity that they believed to had, but in one or the other case they seek, without exception, to recover at least a fragment of the lost dignity. The whole seems destined to show in a thousand ways that outraged dignity never returns without violence and that violence can be angry and lethal. In the last story, Romina and Ariel enjoy their wedding party until she discovers that he had an affair with a guest, and makes him confess. In search of the lost dignity, Romina visits all the boxes of the scheme created by Lacan throughout his tenth seminar, except that of the inhibition; she goes through the impediment, the pregnancy, the emotion, the symptom, the passage to the act, the embarrassment, the acting out and the anguish, and her frantic and exhausting path is traveled, without respite, under the sign of the greatest indignation. She leaves the room devastated, she runs into a stranger and when Ariel finds her in sexual activity with him, she threatens him “I’ll go to bed with anyone, I’ll divulge your miseries and, when you commit suicide, I’ll keep everything”(Szifron, 2014), she returns to the living room, crash her lover against a mirror, proposes that everyone pretend that the party continues, denigrates Ariel, and finally, in shock, breaks down. At that moment, an unexpected turn takes place: seeing her so desolate and dejected, he offers her his hand with dignity, takes her out to dance without saying anything, and ends up making love with her on a table.
Let’s rewind the movie for a few minutes and go back to the moment when Ariel offers her hand to Romina. If that is not a love gesture, the expression «love gesture» does not mean anything. But it turns out that this gesture, which obviously is not a letter, does not consist of words and, although at a certain angle it could be considered a proof of love, including it in this category would entail to force things a lot. Therefore it seems more reasonable to admit that there are love gestures that are neither words, nor letters, nor proofs and that therefore, the love gesture has its own characteristics that distinguish it from these, so the question raised above does not can be closed in advance because it is just trivial. It will be necessary to explore that constellation with greater caution and without prejudice. Doing it in the diacritical dimension, which we have already begun to explore, will not be a bad bet. Let’s continue.
Some love words can be love gestures, although only rarely, and when that happens, it is not due to a peculiarity of those words (that, in general, are banalities and even prayers): the gesture has no essence, but it becomes, and in this case it is produced by the fact of pronouncing certain words on certain occasions. The key is to do something in these, as well as, within the mentioned example, the act of giving the hand to the bride acquires the dignity of the gesture of love for having been made on that occasion. Anyway, we should not exaggerate here the importance of «doing”. In the first place, the love gesture is not a gesture because of its gestures; does not define it as its pantomime character, but the fact that on the occasion of its emergence it is a sign—whose characteristics we will clear later—. Secondly, because the love gesture can gain that value by a «stop doing», that is, by suspending something that was being done so far, in a similar way to what Bateson observed in a detail of French gestures.
For the rest, although Lacan and Miller have emphasized the importance of differentiating between love words and love letters, similar assessments can be made regarding the relationship between love words and love gestures. Indeed, some love letters can be love gestures, but not all, and although they do not usually reduce to banalities or prayers, the defining thing is not what they say, but what is done with it. This «doing» must have, as in the case of the love word, the value of a specific sign.
The proofs of love have a different character. It has always been considered that, for an act to be a proof of love, it must have a sacrificial side or demand an atypical, sometimes extreme effort, and there is no doubt that there are proofs of love that for that reason are love gestures. However, a proof of love can be heroic and even risky without constituting a true love gesture. This is proved by the feats fantasized or effectively carried out by the obsessive neurotic, masterfully analyzed by Freud in the case of the «Rat Man». Moreover, such feats can be worth the same cancellation of the love gesture, in a kind of tenacity that could be summarized in the sentence: «I can do all this for you, but you will never receive a love gesture from me». In other words, there are proofs of love that, as signs, even have the opposite value to that which is characteristic of love gestures.
In short, this first diacritical exploration shows the convenience of considering the love gesture as a peculiar type of sign, understanding «sign» in the sense defined by Peirce, that is, something like something to somebody for something: what for someone represents something. And, because in the particular case of the love gesture, the «someone» is invariably the love partenaire, our inquiry should aim to define exactly what that «something» should be so that the «it» be a sign of love.