Desire and Love in Lacan

Some remarks on Idan Oren’s text

March 2, 2019, İstanbul, Conference: What does Lacan say about desire?

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Just at the beginning of the text of Idan Oren, he says, “choosing to speak of a moment is in itself part of” his answer. The first sentence of his text is “What does Lacan say about desire?” “Moment”, what is the meaning of a moment in psychoanalysis? Could we say psychoanalysis is composed of singular moments that the subject transforms after passing over them? Lacan talks about “moment” in Seminar XI when he has introduced his notion of the drive. To be specific, we need to point out where Lacan uses the word “moment”: in the chapter of The deconstruction of the drive. French people in their Frenchness (I know this word doesn’t exist), Lacan says, they were mocking German chancellor Bismarck’s psychologische Moment, they also had a habit correcting use of the words. The moment is the opposite of constancy this is a shock force. I quote Lacan: “I think that this Stosskraft, or shock force, is simply a reference to the life force, to kinetic energy. In the drive, there is no question of kinetic energy; it is not a question of something that will be regulated with movement.” (Lacan, 1981, Four fundamental…). This is quite paradoxical because in the drive exist some constant forces, not a movement. Movement and moment are opposite pairs of each other.

Ok, well, if we returning to the example that Idan gave, “the wink example”, could we find there is a partial gaze object in this scene? Not the gaze of the man who is winking of course. But the gaze of the Other that Idan sees himself exists in the scene. This is a moment of course but on the other hand, the effect of the scopic drive pacifies the subject of Idan, one little moment. I think the shame; the important affect that affects the subject is one of the consequences of the confrontation of the Other’s gaze. Of course, we know very well, “There is no Other of the Other” and also Lacan claims “There is no Other.” But how we could apprehend this passivity inscribed itself into the scene? I think the shame is at stake here has the secondary status like a screen, in order to hide there is a hole, gap, abyss behind of the shame. Shame is something, on the other hand, hole-gap-abyss is nothing. So, “choosing a moment” is a wonderful option in that giving us an opportunity to grasp there is no consistency in the Other. Idan, over and over again -in the text presents today and also in the preliminary text-, points out there is no guarantee, there is no recourse, there is no compensation. In this point I ask myself, when Lacan talks about the status of the Other under the title of its absence quality, maybe he underlining another opportunity? In order to understand this, for an instant, we can think about if what happened the Other absolutely no exist? Only just the imaginary and the Lacanian real we have, after that, we have problems. An alternative explanation I propose, even though I’m not sure, thinking that Lacan offers us two modalities of the Other that allows absence and presence simultaneously exist. These are moments. As for the drive, there is permanence, because with the drive we are in the real, there is no gap, no void. But, the real itself is the gap, is the void. As we know the lack is the property of the symbolic, from this point we can say, the wink-experience of the Idan, for one little moment, the real glimpses. This point is important, because certain time after, Lacan argues the object of the desire is not just an object, is also a cause, and more importantly, this object-cause of desire is in the real, not an ordinary object we can find in reality. Idan also emphasizes this characteristic of the object in Lacan. “Cause” and “object-cause”, they are different things. I think, the gap, which apart from two of them this is, the border that we can say the border is between the real and the reality that the fantasy is located in. In this manner, the function of fantasy and the function of the affect I mentioned above are similar: Block the road is going to the real, the unnamable, the unsymbolizable. Additionally, there is one of the important affect: anguish. The affect doesn’t mislead, the affect of the real. Lacan, in his seminar Anxiety, made some connections between the object a and anguish. I find it very important that Idan mentions the names that Lacan gives to the moment that is at stake in desire: collapse, fainting, effacing, embarrassment, shame, and Hilflosigkeit… All of them had had already carried on certain references to the lack, to the impossibility, to the incompleteness. Well, if the subject confronts with her or his object-cause of desire, what about then?

Something malfunctions, something stumbled, something it is not easy to grasp. In the love life of the subject, when the subject sees him or her that is the right person, then, this is too much are or too less. Malfunction in love life is fundamental because there is no object, in reality; the value of the partner is exaggerated or disdained. This is a measure that we compare ourselves with the measure, we are too much or we are not enough to him or her. Via scrutinizing ourselves we try to assume this lacking of “true partner.” “Malfunction in reality”, no doubt, is the main characteristic of reality itself. In order to understand what is not properly functioning, in reality, it has to understand the reality is innately connected with fantasy. “Too much” and “too little” are malfunctioning in order to prevent the desire to exhaust and also, we can see the proof of these situations in love life. When we love we couldn’t desire when we desire we couldn’t love, of course, this is not necessarily repeating itself in all possible conditions. But complaints about love and desire always exist since the beginning of human history. The very fantasy itself is the proof of this “malfunction in reality”, Idan’s text gives us another proof when he quotes Lacan that “Desire must be produced at the same place where at first helplessness [Hilflosigkeit, détresse] originates, is experienced.” Helplessness and malfunction are not the same things but it can be seen a connection between two of them. The subject desires where he is in helplessness, where he is experienced his lacking in being. All of the words Idan finds out in Lacan’s VI. Seminar, are they witnesses of this lacking? I believe, we put the glimpse of the real in here using the real here is kind of impossibility, kind of incompleteness. We have two options deals with the helplessness, first, we can choose to believe in it or not believe in it. So, someone believes in his symptom, this is the first step, he believes his symptom carries on hidden meaning, and then, he could choose to go to the psychoanalysis. Idan mentions something important, I think, to convince and to believe are different concepts. Someone convinces something is not the same thing believing to something. For example, one convinces psychoanalysis is the best method to cure but not to believe to go to psychoanalysis, he spends many years to decide to go, to see a psychoanalyst. I think, convincing has symbolic quality, even though belief has real, we don’t choose something after we are completely convinced. Lacan also mentions in Seminar XI, Picasso’s statement, I do not seek, I find. Belief is an act, not just an idea that is one of the products of cognitive processes. Desire and helplessness and belief are interconnected because of the helplessness is emerged from the subject’s body, from a living being. He believes thus he moves, but of course, obsessional subject as a neurotic he tries to prevent himself from his desire, he is in limbo. No one says he is not in a helpless situation; he wants to escape any possible confrontation with his desire because of this the way of maintaining his desire impossible. It can be seen easily in his love life when he desires a partner which is impossible, unattainable, where his desire he is not there, where he loves he is not there.

Let’s turn to the first moment that Idan gives as an example: A music box collector. When he shows to the audience the most valuable thing in his life “he blushes, he effaces himself, he disappears, he is very embarrassed.” What is important in this scene? The music box or something else? I propose something slightly different, the music box is not important, sure, important for him but not the audience. I believe, he reveals something else. He put himself to the scene as a person shows most cherished object for him and so, he puts himself in a position he shows to the audience his most cherished object wanting to be seen. Namely, he is on the scene a person shows a thing that other people are looking at him in this position -he and his most valuable object together for people’s gaze. His desire is wanting to be seen as a position someone has a valuable thing. Of course, the audience, on that occasion, sees him, look at him. But with a little problem, his accomplished desire’s burden is effacing himself. He reduced nothing, I think, as he is a neurotic, he is experienced strong shame. Here, shame is the veil which veils the veil, veils the nothingness of him. I want to ask you, what is the meaning of a man has something extremely valuable and he wants to show him to the people? Through the unveiling of his object-cause of desire, he makes a scene he is disappeared, but the shame lends a helping hand to him. Yes, thus he shows his disappearance but the shame veils the most radical nothingness behind his subject; in this way he is just becoming a shameful man on the scene. As you can see, having something is not the whole story; we need recourse for giving us certain guarantees in order to be sure of having something. I am sorry, there is nothing like a guaranteeing agency. Therefore, our subjectivity is divided into two parts in this context: to show our lack or not. This is a decision, on the other hand, to show is an act inasmuch as it means to open our lacking in being, in another saying, open our castration to others. This is quite important. This is the main condition of love. Giving our lack is a request for love, you know the famous formula of Lacan: “Love is giving what you don’t have”. To being loveable is to giving our insufficiencies, our clumsiness, our inability; we give it in return we expect our partners admit it. In love, we have an expectation that we want to see the flame of the love burn our loved with our love, in fact, our desire goes in its way without this reciprocity, it can take care of itself. Actually, this is the question for me, desire can do without approval, without recognition of other/Other, without any third parties mediation?

Let’s turn again to the case of the music box collector. Isn’t this scene resemble a photograph? Let’s look at the elements of the scene: music box, collector, audience. This is a fixated scene, everything has its own position. Could we say this scene is the manifestation of the fantasy of the collector? What is the status of accomplished fantasy being other than horror? If we remember Lacan’s formula of the fantasy, $◇a, this is a fixed formula, this is a fixité. When the collector finds himself is in the accomplished fantasy, he doesn’t desire anymore, the scene threats him with aphanisis. There is no mercy, no recourse, no guaranteeing Other. In this fixated scene, the only thing he has his effacement and his shame. I think this is the “love point” for him if he stands his lacking and transmits it to a potential lover. And also, this “love point” might be emerging of his psychoanalytic demand. So, this point gives him an opportunity to count someone in his castration. Hope and expectation together might be asymptotically getting close to lacking. If we get a belief we are lacking we could potentially have a hope one day we would be in an ideal position, thus, we have an expectation. But, on the other hand, hope and expectation are not being completed with this kind of narcissistic-imaginary wholeness, they also indicate another reference point is assuming our lack, we have already been lacking.

I think you know very well one of Lacan’s statement, “Desire is always the Other’s desire.” Idan has remarked this and he added a different idea: “…to be a subject is to be determined in the market of the Other, not to have any ‘objective’ value, but rather be valued in a market of desiring others.” Strictly speaking, if I understand him correctly, he gives importance to our being as an object, namely, we are not mere subjects for others, we are also objects (of course “objet a”) for other/Other. I’d like to emphasize this point because there is dialectic in here, certain contexts we are subject and vice versa. This is the mutual recognition between human subjects. However, in turn, losing our value in the level of other’s/Other’s perspective I think it has to mention our phallic worth which is faith is always falling in nature. Idan rightfully reminds to us well-known phallic modality between being and having. When we get a phallic position in someone else’s eye we come to be in a suspicious position, because we know at least one option we could fall from there to the ground. This is the quite reversal of hope-expectation, on the other hand, these are similar inasmuch as we move along an axis like a stock certificate. “In the market of the Other” everything is solid could be evaporated. Each man has a claim he is phallus necessarily meet a hysteric she makes him castrated; each woman says she is The Woman she absolutely loses her phallic organ. For the very reason, the field of love and desire is the risking field. We are not sure whatever we believe what we are.

In the field of love and desire, subjects in order to protect themselves from these troubles they wear some protective shields. For example, if they feel they are too close to their object-cause of desire they want to run away or their objects would lose favor, fall into disfavor. And they might say, “This is not it!” I’ll give you two clinical examples:

One analysand, in his thirties, obsessional. He had a series of dreams that includes some beautiful woman. His wish in the dream getting closer to the woman but some obstacles between two of them, side of the woman: Woman has AIDS, a woman is crazy, a woman is distrustful. He had never ever attained a woman in his dreams. And besides, he projected the impossibility on to women. They are impossible women, no one -includes he of course- could touch them, no one loves them, and no one is becoming their lover. I think you could grasp easily, his desire is impossible and alive, one woman to another his desire is living in his dreams. This is the typical obsessional desire.

Another patient; in her late twenties; a woman; hysterical. She had a series of dreams that includes her husband and another man. Her husband in these dreams is portrayed as a passive, insufficient, coward figure. Once she is in bed with another man, but she feels nothing, sexual tone of the dream can’t reveal itself in the level of manifest dream content. Men in her dreams touch her but these touching means nothing. She is always unsatisfied. In the course of the analysis, her position is gradually changed. Her new position is she is wanting, she is wanting-being sexual satisfaction in her dreams. But, even now, she maintains her position as a nothing-want-to-know, she refuses to assume unconscious knowledge of this unsatisfaction. Why she is in unsatisfied position? But she talks. She also projects her castration onto men. You see, via this style, this effect of the object she is protected from castration and her desire maintains itself as a desire. Desire’s aim is maintaining itself is a desire, not satisfaction, not to transform impossible to possible.

Everything I said up to now is the part and parcel of Lacanian psychoanalysis, we owe all of these conceptualizations to Lacan. Without Lacan, we couldn’t think about love and desire in that manner. Without Lacan, we couldn’t make a connection between love, desire, helplessness, and lack. So, when we ask “What does Lacan say about desire?” I am sure so many concepts, terms, discussions out of this conference’s scope. Nevertheless, we know the Lacanian field is very open if someone asks himself/herself why I don’t love differently.

For conclusion, I have a question primarily for Idan and Ceren and of course, the people in this room: At the end of the Lacanian analysis, what we expect from psychoanalysis for our desire and love? What is the fate of the desire and love after a Lacanian analysis?

Thank you!