Navigating the entanglement of Desire and Jouissance : 10th July 2021 (Zoom) : Ganesh Anantharaman

by Julia Evans on July 10, 2021

Navigating the entanglement of Desire and Jouissance

Perhaps it’s apt to begin on a personal note as an entry into the theme of my text: I had been postponing this piece of writing for a while, each day telling myself that I need to read more; I have to get my ideas coherent etc. All this while, the two words ‘desire’ and ‘jouissance’ were right in front of me, beckoning me to write something. I finally got down to writing only after I asked myself the question: what is this hesitation about?

That led me to recalling that last month, around the time I arrived at this topic as an idea for my cartel end note, I had participated in a Group Relations Conference as a member after a gap of 14 years, having been on the staff of such conferences in all the intervening years[i]. This conference, with its evocative title ‘Poetry of Hatred’ created an urgency in me to discover whether I am capable of hatred. Dislike – yes; resentment, yes; but hatred…? By the time the conference ended, I had encountered my own capacity for hatred. This discovery however, created doubts in me about whether I can ever staff these conferences again, and would I, with my now-acknowledged capacity to hate, pose a risk to the members? My consultant offered me an interpretation: you have recognized that ‘you are not good’, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to ‘you are not good enough’.

The above interpretation opened up a trajectory to investigate my hesitation to write about the relation between desire and jouissance. My desire is to write; but my jouissance is to enjoy being in the place of ‘not good enough to write’?

In her paper ‘The Body in the teaching of Jacques Lacan’ Colette Soler, distinguishing between pleasure, jouissance and desire, writes:[ii]

Jouissance is not what desire aims at. Quite the contrary. Lacan concerned himself with situating the various barriers to jouissance. What creates barriers to jouissance, in Lacan’s teaching, is in part pleasure. Pleasure is what he calls: the incoherent binding of life, that is to say, in fact, the animal’s reaction in fleeing from pain, quite stupidly, as a barrier to jouissance, which basically would arise there where pleasure ends, and most eminently in the form of pain.

Yet this first barrier, which is a natural one, he says, fundamentally comes to be relayed for humans through a prohibition, by means of the law. In other words, the forbidden, which founds desire, in Lacan, is what sets up a barrier to jouissance. Ah! Obviously, that cannot be grasped unless you hold on to the vital principle that, for Lacan, desire, in essence, is to be unsatisfied, that is to say, desire has no object which responds to its aspiration. So there we have the first split: pleasure, desire and jouissance.

Eric Laurent, in an interview published in the Lacanian Review Online, contrasts between Jouissance and Desire thus:[iii]

In Freud the category of ‘desire’ was a notion that opened up the paradoxes of an object that is always elsewhere, that flees, is displaced. It is desire for something else. It is the displacement of desire.

Jouissance in contrast is fixed, fixated. To do harm is not a desire, to harm is a mode of jouissance.

And indeed, when a subject comes to analysis, he or she has fixations of jouissance. (…) In order to have a project of embarking on this experience, the experience of an analysis, there has to be a tension between desire and jouissance, there has to be a possibility of displacement. This means that the subject can be fixated but at the same time has to have a desire for something else.

Which leaves me wondering: can the work in analysis then be described as orienting oneself towards one’s desire, by circumscribing our fixations of jouissance? That desire remains elusive is perhaps what pushes one to find ‘a mode of jouissance that is liveable, satisfying, and which allows one to have a dignified life’ as Laurent posits?

Ganesh Anantharaman

Presented on 10th July 2021 – see below

Other texts by Ganesh Anantharaman  here  


[i] Group Relations Conference is a methodology that originated in the Tavistock Institute, UK, to learn about the roles one takes up in groups and systems, with particular attention to the unconscious processes at work. ‘Member’ is someone who has signed up to learn; ‘Staff’ consult to the unfolding dynamics.    

[ii] [ii]  The Body in the Teaching of Jacques Lacan, Colette Soler, May 1984, Published Jcfar Vol 6 p6-38 Winter 1995 (Journal of the Centre of Freudian Analysis & Research), See The Body in the Teaching of Jacques Lacan : May 1984 : Colette Soler  or  here   

[iii] Desire, Jouissance, and Fantasy, Laurent Eric, Lacanian Review Online, May 2019. Excerpts from Interview by Iara Bianchi for De Inconscientes, translated from Spanish by Florencia F.C. Shanahan and Roger Litten : See https://www.thelacanianreviews.com/desire-jouissance-and-fantasy/

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This text was presented at an exchange between two cartels on Saturday 10th July (Zoom)

Towards New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis Congress 2021: Bodily Effects of Language, May 2021: See  www.nlscongress2021.com 

The cartel on ‘Being a body & having a body’ & the other cartel on ‘Bodily Effects of Language’ are meeting, on Zoom, to exchange on Saturday 10th July 2021. Both cartels are registered and working within the New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis. 

The discussant was Joanne Conway, one of the NLS cartel delegate, with members of the other cartel and the addition of comments from supporters/guests. 

Meeting Participants

From Cartel 1 – Being a body & having a body 

Julia Evans (plus-un) Sandwich, Kent & London, UK, Topic Cutting as interpretation on a/the body. 

Ganesh Anantharaman, Chennai, India, Topic  Jouissance & body event? 

Lorena Rivero de Beer, Liverpool, UK. Topic  Zazen & the embodiment of emptiness – symptom/body event. 

Marcin Zaremba, London, UK  Topic  Treating anorexia as a body event. 

From Cartel 3 – Bodily Effects of Language

Nicolas Duchenne (plus-un), Rotherhithe, London, UK Topic The real father is an effect of language 

Giuseppe Covelli, Amsterdam, Netherlands Topic   The body at the place where a word should have been spoken 

Owen Hewitson, East London, UK, Topic   Idioms of Distress – Appeal, Nomination, and Other Ways to Say   Owen is unable to be present at the December encounter.

Greg Hynds North London, UK, Topic  Subject and body

Jo (Josephine) Rostron North West London, UK  Topic  An elaboration of the presence of the body in the psychic structure

Previous discussant, on Saturday 10th March 2021, was René Raggenbass, also an NLS Cartel delegate. 

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Some texts from cartels:-

Other texts on or from cartels here 

Lorena Rivero de Beer  : End Text, The topic,  Zazen & the embodiment of emptiness – symptom/body event : 10th July 2021 (Zoom) : Information  or  here   

Two Forms of Body : 7th July 2021 (Zoom) : Julia Evans  or  here   

Treating Shell Shock – re-conceptualising what worked : 12th March 2021 (Zoom Intercartel Meeting) : Julia Evans  or  here    

Ganesh Anantharaman :  Present without a body: absence, lack, & loss in the work of a cartel : 12th December 2020 (Zoom Intercartel Meeting) : Information   here   

A reflection on cartel work examining COVID-19 by Julia Evans on 25th October 2020 or here  

Ganesh Anantharaman : An Extimate Experience  :  25th July 2020 :  Information   here  Also published in 4 Plus One – the NLS cartels’ newsletter, 4+1, no 16,  https://quatreplusone.com/index.php/n16/    

Frank Rollier : 4 PLUS ONE – The Formula of a New Mode of Social Bond : 26th June 2020 (Athens) ::  Information here   Also published in 4 Plus One – the NLS cartels’ newsletter, 4+1, no 16, https://quatreplusone.com/index.php/n16/    

THE PANDEMIC versus a pandemic – Cartel Opening Statement by Julia Evans on 25th April 2020  or here   

Greg Hynds  or http://gwh.xyz: A cartel on trauma (17th July 2019 – London) : Information here :  Also published in 4 Plus ONE  February 2020,  http://quatreplusone.com/index.php/n14/  

Henrik Lynggaard  : The logic that haste determines (17th July 2019 London) : Information here  Also published in 4+1, the cartels’ newsletter – December 2019, available https://quatreplusone.com/index.php/n13/   

Julia Evans : A work in progress report of ‘Trauma and Urgency’ cartel, 2018–2019 (17th July 2019 – London) : Information here   

Owen Hewitson (www.lacanonline.com)    here  : What makes a trauma traumatic? : 8th February 2019 (Manchester) : Information here     

Julia Evans : Why is trauma urgent? : 4th February 2019 : Information here      Also an abbreviated copy is published in 4 PLUS ONE issue 10 February 2019 see http://quatreplusone.com/index.php/n10/    

Greg Hynds  or http://gwh.xyz : Understanding in Analysis : 14th December 2018 (Manchester) : Information here 

Greg Hynds  or http://gwh.xyz : Reading the Recommendations : London, 1st April  2017 : Information here 

Bruno de Florence   : Ignorance is a Passion : 10th March 2016 (London) : Information here    

LW cartel: Jouissance & symbolic (dis)order by Julia Evans on 30th July 2011 or here  

Related Texts:

The Real Presence and Slipperiness of the Body (LRO 248) : 11th October 2020 : Catherine Lacaze-Paule  or   here    

Jacques Lacan’s sayings excavated by Julia Evans on 17th October 2020 or  here   

Lacanian Psychoanalysis Not Without the Body : 18th January 2020 (Dublin) : Bernard Seynhaeve (audio)  or   here    

Announcement of title for the 2020 NLS Congress, Interpretation, From Truth to Event : 18th June 2019 : Bernard Seynhaeve or  here   

Interpretation : From Truth to Event : 2nd June 2019 (Tel Aviv) : Éric Laurent  or  here  

The symptom in the perspective of the speaking body in civilisation (audio) : 19th May 2016 (London) : Éric Laurent or here 

The Unconscious and the Body Event : the full interview : July 2015 : Éric Laurent or here 

The Unconscious and the Speaking Body : Paris : 17th April 2014 : Jacques-Alain Miller or here 

On the origin of the Other and the post-traumatic object : 6th November 2004 (Lyon) : Éric Laurent or here  

Trauma in Reverse : 27th April 2002 (New York) : Éric Laurent or here 

Lacanian Biology and the Event of the Body : 12th & 19th May 1999 (Paris VIII) : Jacques-Alain Miller or here   

Interpretation and Truth : 1st July 1994 : Éric Laurent or here 

The Body in the Teaching of Jacques Lacan : May 1984 : Colette Soler  or  here