Desire and Fufillment

"To put things simply, our desires are frequently insincere. A mirage, designed to keep us on a certain treadmill of ineffective actions – relative to the realization of the desire, self-sabotage and frustration. We “sincerely” believe, or at least convince ourselves, of certain “heartfelt” desires. And yet, in these cases, the desired object/ outcome/experience remains elusively out of reach. On occasion, in our more lucid moments, we may recognize how we, ourselves, act against this realization of this desire. These insights though are typically not enduring. We soon fall back into our state of wanting, chronic anxiety and perennial anticipation. We rationalize the desire-sabotaging behavior as something that simply needs to be worked through, opposed, or understood so that it no longer short circuits our desire. It perpetuates itself.

Over time though, it is a good idea to become suspicious of perennially unfulfilled desire. Consider, at least, the possibility that the sincere desire, or more accurately, drive, is the state of desiring itself, more specifically, of the experience of desiring and not having the desire met, of unfulfilled desire.  This is not as strange or counter intuitive as it seems at first. There are certain obvious situations where the Jouissance or enjoyment is in the experience of (as yet) unfulfilled desire. A good example is the enjoyment one derives from eating a really good meal, prior to being full. Once one is full, one’s appetite is satiated, the capacity to enjoy the meal is absent. As long as one remains hungry, one can continue to enjoy the experience of eating. Sex, the register of Jouissance, is the exemplar here. As long as one remains in an amorous state, one can enjoy the experience of love making. But the climax brings with it not only the pinnacle of pleasure but, also, its simultaneous demise, “Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream."

In the cases of appetites, be it for love or food, among others, provided one can skirt addiction, delayed gratification has virtue. This is part of the reasoning behind certain Tantric practices. However, in the case of perennially unfulfilled desire, this is a vice rather than virtue. Here the interminably delayed fulfilment of the desire causes the subject anxiety, shame and recrimination, from others and oneself.

Treating honesty as a North Star, one approach is to give up the pretence of the stated desire. To stop playing the drive-desire game. The drive and the ongoing behaviour, self-recrimination and compulsion associated with the drive, have enrolled your stated desire as a part of the psychic drama that is acted out. Without this unfulfilled desire, the inner tension and conflict subside. The drive no longer realises the affective response that sustains it. You, the subject, in this case, will experience relief and liberation. Of course, to realise this relief and enact this technique comes as a high price – you need to let go of your desire!  And we do not choose our desires, they choose us. Meaning that they are not easy to let go of.

Often all that sustains us are our desires. In that sense, hope is a tyrannising impulse, it enslaves you.[10] Your life may be crappy, but you live in the hope that once your desire is realised it will be significantly better – worth living or you will be happy or some such idea. Without considering the merits of this aspiration i.e. whether or not you will in fact be happy once your desire is realised, certainly right now you are both unhappy and in a state of perennial anxiety, whilst your desire remains elusively out of reach. Nevertheless, it is a sustaining fiction. One of the ways we identify ourselves is through our hopes, dreams and aspirations. Consequently, I mitigate my brokenness through the fiction of my desire and thereby perpetuate the drive.

The above acknowledged, if you are, through whatever means, able to release yourself from the tyrannizing desire you will effectively interrupt the drive and neurosis. You will create reflective space and free up libido that can be used to creatively re-imagine and reconstitute your identity and narrative.  One possible foothold to achieve this, is to reflect on the justification for the desire. Often – Lacan would say, always – our desires are imposed upon us by others. In other words, consider carefully the merits of the justification for your desire. You may find in some cases that the desire itself is based on a flawed premise or set of premises. One should not be convinced something is right, simply because you want it. Returning to earlier example of the desire to be happy whilst on holiday. Liberating myself from that demand has brought me significant relief, and ironically, made me much happier! I do not think this is atypical, and without offering any guarantees, suggest that your relief, should you liberate yourself for the tyrannising desire, will be similar."

- Stephen Farah

WIlliam Pacholski