Friday, June 14, 2013

Laws (& Geographies) of Desire

. . . the advent of Law entails a kind of ‘disalienation’: in so far as the Other itself appears submitted to the ‘absolute condition’ of Law, the subject is no more at the mercy of the Other’s whim, its desire is no more totally alienated in the Other’s desire. . . In contrast to the ‘post-structuralist’ notion of a law checking, canalizing, alienating, oppressing ‘Oedipianizing’ some previous ‘flux of desire,’ Law is here conceived as an agency of ‘disalienation’ and ‘liberation’: it opens our access to desire by enabling us to disengage ourselves from the rule of the Other’s whim.
- Slavoj Zizek, "For They Know Not What They Do"

But, there is a twist. The liberating aspect of law is both a “symptom” and implicated in yet another set of arbitrary, punishing demands, those of the superego. First, the image of the omnipotent Other to whose whim one is subject is a fantasy. It is a way for the subject to avoid acknowledging that its desire can’t be satisfied, to avoid facing the fact that the Other doesn’t have the ability to give it what it wants. In Hobbes' state of nature, it simply is not the case that one could have everything one desired were it not for the rights of others. As Hobbes acknowledges, desire is itself always in motion, ceaseless, beyond satisfaction. Law intervenes, then, as “a way for the subject to avoid the impasse constitutive of desire by transforming the inherent impossibility of its satisfaction into prohibition: as if desire would be possible to fulfil if it were not for the prohibition impeding its free reign.” The sovereign (for Hobbes) guarantees desire not simply by restraining others but by commanding restraint in general. Law lets the subject think it could get what it wants were it not for law’s prohibition. So, here law lets the subject avoid the impossible Real of its desire. Our attachment to law, then, is a symptom in that it is a way for us to secure our desire (that is to say, the space for it, not the object of it) by avoiding confrontation with the impossibility of fulfilling it.
- Jodi Dean, "Zizek on Law"

Angola State Prison

No comments:

Post a Comment