Non-Psychoanalysis pt. 2 – Desire and Law

Laruelle defines desire as that which:

“Designates, for non-psychoanalysis, the side of reality of jouissance, itself determined by the Real or Enjoying-without-enjoyment [Joui-sans-jouissance]. Deprived of its philosophical essence of desire of self or desire of the desire of the Other, it loses its determining role which philosophy, through Plato, and psychoanalysis, through Lacan, granted it.”

Laruelle immediately steps into the ponds of one of the great nemeses of non-philosophy and Speculative Realism – Emmanuel Levinas. That is, by closing the schism of desire and the objects of desire (whether they are other, subject et cetera) seems to come close to Levinas’ element as expressed in Totality and Infinity – to his ridiculous claim that objects themselves are simply free for us to desire as he argues in Existence and Existents.

Laruelle goes on to say:

“Desire can only escape from philosophical and psychoanalytic authority if its cause is no longer the Real as lack or castration, but the Enjoying-without-enjoyment insofar as it determines it in-the-last-instance.”

It would seem that Laruelle is attempting to argue that desire is a kind of self-propagating entity, in that enjoyment (jouissance) is in and of itself a desire for more of itself, of more. He finishes his definition of desire in the following way:

“In fact, desire finds its identity in jouissance with the syntax which is the property of the Unconscious. This identity defetishizes it and dismantles its relation with repetition, diffèrance, the letter, and the symbolic as it has been advanced by the restrained deconstruction which sets its post-Lacanism in the Idea of a constitutive Alterity and a One insufficient to itself on the mode of an “I desire, thus You Enjoy.” Its setting in relation with its essence of the non-autopositional Other dismantles the circle of desire and liberates thought from phantasmatic desire: enjoyed loss—thus Freud designates it—of the hallucinatory object of satisfaction. A loss which neither grounds an identifying “hysteria” nor a traditional lack of desire (in aphanisis), nor the unconscious insistence on incest as in schizoanalysis. Desire is not desiring (of) self or (of) the desire-of-the-Other by its essence, it is instead a clone enjoying-in-the-Real, even if it is cloned from philosophico-analytic desire.”

Laruelle has, in the above account, reduced one of the fundamental tenements of psychoanalytic desire – that of the Law. While he mentions castration, he says that the Real appears as lack or as castration, yet this does not paint the whole picture. The object cause of desire, the objet petit a, is a purely formal object which sets desire in motion and it is not, as Laruelle suggests, the impossible das Ding (though this confusion is common via Lacan’s discussion in Seminar VII) – the primordial Real. It is not enjoyed loss – but that loss entitles enjoyment by disavowing what is always-already impossible, the non-existence One-All, the Good, the Highest, the first essence and so forth.

Thus, Laruelle’s enjoying in the Real and his enjoying without enjoyment thereby suggesting a being-nothing of the stranger which is enjoyable in and of itself, suggests not desire but the category of psychoanalytic drive. Without the formal distanciation of the stranger, it would seem that Laruelle’s enjoying in the Real would have a psychotic character.

Yet, as I have shown in my previous post here, Laruelle twists the Lacanian articulation of the death drive in such a fashion that appears too close to desire. The ability of Laruelle to commit such an act relies on the widely noted ambiguity between pure desire and drive which can be differentiated thusly:

pure desire is the moment of the act where everything (even life) is surrendered for one object and thus desire comes across its own foundation – the very object which set it into motion. Drive, on the other hand, is enjoyment in the movement towards the object and does not enjoy objects as such.

To bring this back to the issue of the Law:

Lacan’s ‘do not give up on your desire’ has frequently been glaciated and transformed into an injunction thereby corrupting the ethical and dragging it into the realm of the super ego. Chiesa’s point that the ethical must be a transgression of the transgression (the superegoic injunction) is pointing out that the underside of the law, the function of the pervert, must be rejected as well as the official Law. Simplistically put, the concept of ‘not giving up’ is more central than desire itself, and this giving up should not have any concern for the Law.

Pure desire is the transgression, that is, it violates the purity or perhaps the longevity of the law, by being its dark underside, by enacting the foundation of the Law as Law. Again to repeat Laruelle:

“Desire can only escape from philosophical and psychoanalytic authority if its cause is no longer the Real as lack or castration, but the Enjoying-without-enjoyment insofar as it determines it in-the-last-instance.”

Castration is not the direct cause of desire but desire is caused by its leftover – desire must be somehow separate from the Law in order to maintain its possibility. This is not an “enjoyed loss” but the possibility of enjoyment after loss, after the instigation of the Law. Despite Laruelle’s depiction of the Stranger’s step back – it seems impossible to merely step outside of the Law, not only in the praxical sense but particularly in terms of the structural affect of the Law, such as in the case of interpellation.

The ideality of Laruelle’s desire remains in question.

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