Desire is a halt. It is the last peel of our scratch. Desire does not take us far, desire is where we return to the man inside us. Desire doesn’t define anything, it only measures. Buddha resisted its lure, he feared its measures. He thought that it is a measure in vacuum, and a bait in the trap.
Other’s desire baffles us; our own confuses. When you desire something, you prefer to walk in dark. You are suddenly gaining a stand alone attitude. Desire is your difference and indifference. When it consume your existence you become like a storm-tossed ship. A wreck is inevitable: “St. Francis was shipwrecked in God”, says Chesterton.
Desire is sometimes your reverse side, which means your desire is not your own. You are desiring someone else’s desire. Philosopher Zizek said that desire is something we learn. Perhaps in the same way learn to love. From where we learn desires? From films, channels, advertisements. They teach us new desires: “We covet what we say everyday”, says meditation of Marques Aurelius.
The Dangers of Desire
Plotinus saw the malady of man in desire, “It is desire that engenders thought”. The dangers of desire occur in two ways: In gratification and losing the way.
Desire actually entertains only impossibilities. Possibility derails its movement. Possibility extinguishes its fire. The object of desire should be an impossibility. The moment it becomes a possibility, the desire engulfs itself in its tidal waves. As a result, both the object and desire die away. Every man kills what he loves most. This is what Amnon story proves. The first recorded event defining Amonon’s life also involved his half sister Tamar and half-brother Absalom. Tamar was beautiful, and Amnon lusted after her. When Tamar rebuffed Amnon’s advances, he arranged, through subterfuge, to have her come to his house, where he raped her. After the rape, Amnon has only hatred for her. She, on her knees begs to receive him as his wife but, Amnon put Tamar out of his house in disgrace. When Absalom heard what happened, he took his sister in to live with him. For the next two years, Absalom nursed a hatred of his half-brother. Then, using some subterfuge of his own, Absalom invited Amnon to his house for a party. During the festivities, in the presence of David’s other sons, Absalom had his servants kill Amnon in cold blood. One can be sickened by the satisfaction of one’s desire.
Desire’s alliance with rape and blood is a long-lasting story.
Losing the way
It is a Lacan’s warning. In his study of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ with his psycho analytical tools, Lacan comes to the conclusion that “Hamlet is the man who has lost his way of desire”. The man who doesn’t know what he wants will do what he doesn’t want. Hamlet comes to the stage with the sole intention to avenge his father’s death. But as the story unfolds we know that its not he wants actually. His real problem is “To be or not to be”. If it is ‘to be’ it is always with somebody, perhaps with Orphelia. Still he chooses to be ‘not to be’. Thus his revenge and the consequent death of him becomes an “an act which is carried out, in spite of himself”.
Fate of Desire
Should we kill desire? Should we escape from it as Buddha advised?
Lacan would ask us to stick with our desire. His advice is not to give up on your desire. Because it is where your being is. The man who uproots his desire is uprooting himself. When Lacan says “don’t give up on desire” , he is asking us to wait up on it. My own reading of this is that, we can transform our desire to love. Desire is natural but love is super natural. We must transform this natural inclination to love. Love can tame the destructive power of desire.
To give up is evil, to transform is divine.
Desire can become evil, but if we give up our desire that is also evil. So we can’t but change our desire to love.