Academic journal article Intertexts

"To Shift to a Higher Structure": Desire, Disembodiment, and Evolution in the Anime of Otomo, Ishii, and Anno

Academic journal article Intertexts

"To Shift to a Higher Structure": Desire, Disembodiment, and Evolution in the Anime of Otomo, Ishii, and Anno

Article excerpt

Every time desire is betrayed, cursed, uprooted from its field of immanence, a priest is behind it. The priest cast the triple curse on desire: the negative law, the extrinsic rule, and the transcendent ideal. Facing north, the priest said, Desire is lack (how could it not lack what it desires?). The priest carried out the first sacrifice, named castration, and all the men and women of the north lined up behind him, crying in cadence, "Lack, lack, it's the common law."

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Humans are desiring machines, but what is the nature of this desire? How can we conceive of a psychic structure that is so amorphous and so intimately linked to our very nature? One could argue that desire functions as the fundamental motor of human endeavor on both an individual and sociocultural level and that it represents the most instrumental force in the production of identity, social interaction, and society, hence marking desire as one of the most basic components in any definition of "the human." If it is such a powerful and complex force, then how are we to conceive of desire's structure? In his second seminar, Jacques Lacan argues that human identity is predicated upon a fundamental "lack," which acts as the driving force of all human desire: "Desire is a relation of being to lack. This is the lack of being properly speaking. It isn't the lack of this or that, but lack of being whereby the being exists" (Lacan, Seminar II 223). Therefore, desire can never be satiated because it is driven by this manque a. etre ("want to be" or "lack of being"), which humans seek to fill with various substitute objects. But the belief that humans can truly fill their lack through such sublimation potentially represents a fantasy in itself; that is, such sublimation only offers partial fulfillment for the subject. In a later seminar, Lacan further complicates the concept of desire when he states that "man's desire is the desire of the Other," which implies that the subject desires not only that s/he receive recognition from the Other but also that s/he be desired by the Other (Lacan, Seminar XI 235).[.sup.1] In effect, then, the subject must always remain lacking because s/he must always depend upon objects and other subjects for satiation, and, even then, this satisfaction remains limited. Thus, according to Lacan, the foundation of desire's structure is lack, a fundamental absence that generates both desire and human identity.

Seeing Lacan's conception of desire as inherently dystopic and oppressive for the subject, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari sought methods of fusing psychoanalysis with Marxist discourse in order to produce a liberatory theory of the human subject that they termed "schizoanalysis." Many philosophers had tried to resolve the apparently contradictory claims of Freud and Marx, for Marx claimed that "our thought is determined by class ('class consciousness')" whereas, "in Freud, we are determined by our unconscious desires (stemming, usually, from familial conflicts)" (Smith 71). For Deleuze and Guattari, these two schemas of desire prove identical, and, consequently, a theory of desire must function "by discovering how social production and relations of production are an institution of desire, and how affects and drives form part of the infrastructure itself. For they are part of it, they are present there in every way while creating within the economic forms their own repression, as well as the means for breaking this repression" (Anti-Oedipus 63). Thus, the socioeconomic sphere produces our desires, and simultaneously those desires function as part of Marx's conception of the infrastructure, yet Deleuze and Guattari do not conceive of desire in terms of lack; instead, they argue that desire is always positive, and, if a lack exists, then it is forced upon the subject by the sociocultural milieu in which s/he is situated, "These social systems constrain the subject to a system of morality based on transcendence, for Deleuze consistently maintained a distinction between morality (based on transcendence) and ethics (based on immanence). …

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