Learning the subject of desire

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Desire, according to Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, is one of the most slippery terms in the psychoanalytic lexicon. The notion of desire at play in the Freudian doctrine, for example, they judge “too fundamental to be circumscribed”; and although in the Lacanian corpus, desire is treated more specifically-“desire appears in the rift which separates need and demand”- the two deem it, in the last instance, equally uncircumscribable: reducible neither to need, since it is “a relation to phantasy,” nor to demand, since “it seeks to impose itself without taking the language or the unconscious of the other into account.“l Where, then, does one even begin learning desire, let alone discerning its relation to knowledge in Lacan’s thought?-the task I have agreed to undertake in this chapter. Well, one way, as one of my more pragmatically minded colleagues is fond of putting it, is “to dig where you stand.”2 I have chosen, therefore, in the absence of any obvious starting point, to draw upon a recent experience of my own to explore desire’s relation to knowledge in Lacan’s thought.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLearning Desire
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives on Pedagogy, Culture, and the Unsaid
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781135247645
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan. 2013


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