Sunday, May 13, 2012

Desire According to Lacan – summary

Desire is one of Lacan's central concepts and he employs it to describe the relation formed upon entering the symbolic order or language. Lacan holds that the first object in a baby's life is not just a source of satisfaction but also of alienage and dissatisfaction and it will therefore remain forever as something which cannot be symbolized (the "thing" which cannot be identified with "the real"). This alienated experience, which originates in an object, is internalized by the subject and becomes private and intimate. Thus alienation and absence become the center of the subject. Lacan explains alienation as the product of the initial necessity to be understood and interpreted by others. The baby according to Lacan "suffers" a long period of dependence in which he cannot sustain his own needs and is dependent upon others. The baby therefore has to express his needs as a claim of demand directed at the Other. By crying the baby signifies his needs and appeals to the other which satisfies his needs. The other's presence therefore takes on an importance for its own sake, and not just as something which satisfies the baby's needs. The other is now love. The baby now cries not only for food or attendance, but also to be loved which comes with the need to be cared for. But the other cannot fully care for the baby, and cannot meet the love demanded of him. And even when needs are met the demand directed towards the other, that asking for love, remains unfulfilled. This insufficiency which can never be fully satisfied is termed by Lacan as desire. Desire is primarily a desire for love.

But even though desire is a relation to something absent, Lacan hold that desire is not necessarily negative. This lack, this absence of love embodies in desire is what according to Lacan drives us for action, creation and recognition. Desire is what drives us.     

Suggested reading on Lacan: