Desire and Creativity as Ideology, Part I
“‘Desiring one’s own repression’ presupposes autonomy and agency. And the masses had neither. Kant understood that.”
I’ve been pondering this statement for a few days, questioning what use can be made of it.
First of all, I think it is necessary to specify which concepts within “desiring one’s own repression” presuppose autonomy and agency.
In this phrase, it is “desire” which presupposes autonomy and agency, not “repression.” We assume, I think, that “repression” acts against autonomy and agency – and that it takes place automatically, not autonomously. If the concept of repression presupposes autonomy and agency, it does so indirectly and negatively.
Orla’s statement is still correct under this stipulation, however, because grammatically in the phrase, “desiring one’s own repression,” desiring is used as an active verb, and repression is used as a noun, the object that the verb acts on – autonomy and agency are qualities of actions, behaviors, not objects. But it is somewhat curious, when you begin to think of what must be happening as process in “ desiring one’s own repression,” that one action ( desiring) is allowed to be conceived as an action, while the other action ( repressing), is grammatically insinuated to conception as an object (of desire.) Part of what interests me here is the schizogenic nature of the process of “desiring one’s own repression,” the self-reflective splitting action of that – which we lose when we express the process in terms of what “the self” does “to itself” as in one sense “ conscious” and active ( the desiring), and in another sense already reified, “unconscious,” – objectified, ( the repression.)
We take the phrase “ desiring one’s own repression” to mean that one uses one’s autonomy and agency to act in a way which causes the loss or abridgment of one’s own autonomy and agency.
Desiring is active and willed, but repression is something undergone.
Repression is something forced upon one’s psyche, for example through trauma.
However, neither of these is necessarily the case. I have often felt forced to desire, against my will… the desire has been something I’ve fought against – I am not active in the desire, I am carried along by it, it is traumatic. The desire I feel may have been produced within me by some calculation of an advertiser or seducer… it is not active, it is not willed by me as a subject. The act of repression, on the other hand, may have in one scathing moment blazed as a conscious response to some situation I’ve found myself in – I might be fully aware, active, and willing that I dismiss, from then on, some troubling interpretation of events before me – I don’t want to “deal with them”, and I won’t.
Therefore, it is not really so clear in just what sense “desiring one’s own repression” presupposes autonomy and agency, or that it does; and it’s not clear that my stipulation that only “desiring” presupposes autonomy and agency, is true.
If I start allowing myself to strip away the conscious, active and willing aspects of “ desire” and at the same time give these their fair share in my concept of “ repression”, I come perilously close to thinking that repression IS desire, desire IS repression. I don’t want that conclusion, but it does need to be seriously considered…It could be compelling.