Archive for November, 2013

Consciousness as Desire

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Being is choosing a manner of being against the background of an absolute contingency of being-there. So desire does not arrive in the consciousness as heat arrives to a piece of iron that I put near a flame.

Consciousness chooses itself as a desire.

Of course to do this it must have a motive: I do not desire anyone whomever at any time whatever.
A motive is something that is created out of the past and that consciousness confers weight and value on it by returning to it.

JP Sartre, ‘What is Desire?’ in ‘Being and Nothingness’ (1943) pp.382-407


Wednesday, November 27th, 2013


The Phenomenon of the Real

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013


Patty Smith – Ha! Ha! Houdini! (1977)

Monday, November 25th, 2013


Nietzsche, on Failure

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Timid, ashamed, awkward, like a tiger whose leap has failed: this is how I have often seen you slink aside, you Higher Men.
A throw you made had failed.
But what of that, you dice-throwers!
You have not learned to play and mock as a man ought to play and mock! Are we not always seated at a great table for play and mockery?
And if great things you attempted have turned out failures, does that mean you yourselves are – failures? And if you yourselves have turned out failures, does that mean – man is a failure? If man has turned out a failure, however: very well! Come on!

F. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883) p.303

JP Sartre – What is Desire?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Broadly speaking, desire is not the desire to do something.

‘Doing’ only comes later, attaches itself to desire from outside and requires training: there is a practice of lovemaking that possesses it’s own ends and means. So, since desire can not choose a particular act as its final goal, it is purely and simply the desire for a transcendental object.

But, what is the object desired? Can one say that desire is the desire for a body? In one sense this can not be denied. Certainly it is the body that disturbs us: a glimpse of an arm or a breast, perhaps a foot.

Attitude does much to arouse desire, but implied in attitude are the surroundings, and ultimately the world. And here suddenly we are at the furthest extreme from a simple physiological itch: desire posits the world, it desires the body in terms of the world and the beautiful hand in terms of the body. We apprehend the Other’s body in terms of its situation in the world.

A living body, as an organic whole in a situation, with consciousness at the horizon: this is the object to which desire addresses itself . Ad what does desire want from this object?

The man who desires exists his body in a particular way and hence situates himself on a particular level of being. The desiring consciousness is stirred up, because it bears an analogy with troubled waters. Our first perception of troubled waters suggests that they have been altered by the presence of something invisible, which can not be distinguished in itself and is manifested as pure actual resistance.

One doesn’t desire a woman while remaining oneself entirely outside the desire: the desire compromises me. I am the accomplice of my desire, or rather, the desire is a total lapse into complicity with the body, we allow ourselves to be invaded by facticity, we cease to flee it and slip into a passive acceptance of desire.

I feel my skin and my muscles and my breath, and I feel them not in order to transcend them towards something, as in the case of emotions or appetite, but as a living and inert datum; not simply as the supple and discreet instrument of my action on the world, but as a passion through which I am engaged in the world and in danger in the world. The For-itself experiences the dizziness of its own body; or if one prefers, this dizziness is precisely its manner of existing its body.

Why does consciousness become, or try in vane to become body, and what does it expect from the object of its desire? In desiring, I make myself body in the presence of another in order to appropriate the flesh of that other. When I grasp these shoulders or hips, one might say not only that my body is a means to touch them, but that the other’s shoulders are a means for me to discover my body as a fascinating revelation of my facticity, that is to say, as flesh.

So desire is the desire to appropriate a body to the extent that this appropriation reveals my own body to me, as flesh.

Extracts from:
JP Sartre, ‘What is Desire?’ in ‘Being and Nothingness’ (1943) pp.382-407

JP Sartre: Naples, Food and Sex

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

All these people seemed turned in to themselves, not even dreaming: they too were surrounded by their foodstuff , living scraps, stems, obscene meats, and tainted open fruit; they revelled in their organic life, in sensual indolence.
‘That’s it!’ I thought. ‘That’s it!’ I felt as though I had been plunged into a vast, carnivorous existence, a dirt-stained, pink existence, that was coagulating around me: ‘That’s it, I am in Naples!’


Barthes, Lovers’ Discourse, Another Fragment

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

We fall silent in unison: the crowding of two voids. “I’m going to leave you”, the voice on the telephone says each second.

Camus, Utter Futility and Absurd Creation

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

‘Let me repeat.
None of this has any real meaning.

The final effort for those related minds, creator or conqueror, is to manage to free themselves also from their undertakings: succeed in granting that the very work, whether it be conquest, love, or creation, may well not be; consummate thus the utter futility of any individual life.

Indeed, that gives them more freedom in the realisation of that work, just as becoming aware of the absurdity of life authorised them to plunge into it with every excess.’


Friday, November 15th, 2013