Jouissance and Repetition Compulsion: Vérité

pleasure versus jouissance

  • “Le créateur en obligeant l’Homme à manger pour vivre, l’y invite par l’appétit et l’en récompense par le plaisir.” (Brillat-Savarin)


  •  ”They danced furiously. They danced round the room, slowly, talking very little, with all their attention given to the dance. The room was hot, and their faces shone with sweat. It seemed to Philip that they had throw off the guard which people wear on their expression, the homage to convention, and he saw them now as they really were, some were foxy and some were wolflike; and other had the long, foolish face of sheep. Their skins were sallow from the unhealthy life they led and the poor food they ate. Their  features were blunted by mean interests, and their little eyes were shifty and cunning. There was nothing of nobility in their bearing, and you felt that for all of them life was a long succession of petty concerns and sordid thoughts. The air was heavy with the musty smell of humanity. But they danced furiously as though impelled by some strange power within them, and it seemed to Philip that they were driven forward by a rage for enjoyment. They were seeking desperately to escape from a world of horror. The desire for pleasure which Cronshaw said was the only motive of human action urged them blindly on, and the very vehemence of the desire seemed to rob it of all pleasure. They were hurried by a great wind, helplessly, they knew not why and they know not whither. Fate seemed to tower above them, and they danced as though everlasting darkness were beneath their feet. Their silence was vaguely alarming. It was as if life terrified them and robbed them of power of speech so that the shriek which was in their hearts died at their throats. Their eyes were haggard and grim; and notwithstanding the beastly lust that disfigured them, and the meanness of their faces, and the cruelty, notwithstanding the stupidness which was worst of all, the anguish of those fixed eyes made all that crowd terrible and pathetic.” (William Somerset Maugham, Of human bondage, 1915, 261)

object a and life drive

  • “While he spoke he thought of that hot madness which had driven him in pursuit of Mildred. He remembered how he had chafed against it and how he had felt the degradation of it. (…) When he was under the influence of passion he had felt a singular vigour, and his mind had worked with unwonted force. He was more alive, there was an excitement in sheer being, an eager vehemence of soul, which made life now a trifle dull. For all the misery he had endured there was a compensation in that sens of rushing, overwhelming existence.” (William Somerset Maugham, Of human bondage, 1915, 356-358)
  • “.. Och, dat iets zou volmaakt zijn, het is een dwaas die dat wensen zou. Het ware niet meer om te leven, altijd en overal in de perfectie te moeten handelen en spreken en denken. Daarbij, het misverstand en de onvolmaaktheid, de langzame worsteling náár de volmaaktheid, dat is het leven. En de volmaaktheid zelf, dat is het einde, de dood.” (Louis Paul Boon, Vergeten straat, 1944, 305)

life drive

  • Au 17ème siècle la mer à boire signifie une tâche qui peut paraître insurmontable. Elle tire aussi son origine de la fable Les Deux Chiens et L’Âne mort (Jean de la Fontaine, Fables, Livre VIII, 1678:

     « Voilà mes Chiens à boire ; ils perdirent l’haleine, Et puis la vie ; ils firent tant Qu’on les vit crever à l’instant. L’homme est ainsi bâti : quand un sujet l’enflamme, L’impossibilité disparaît à son âme. Combien fait-il de vœux, combien perd-il de pas ? S’outrant pour acquérir des biens ou de la gloire? ‘Si j’arrondissais mes États ! Si je pouvais remplir mes coffres de ducats ! Si j’apprenais l’hébreu, les sciences, l’histoire !’ Tout cela, c’est la mer à boire ;  Mais rien à l’homme ne suffit : Pour fournir aux projets que forme un seul esprit Il faudrait quatre corps ; encor, loin d’y suffire, À mi-chemin je crois que tous demeureraient : Quatre Mathusalems bout à bout ne pourraient  Mettre à fin ce qu’un seul désire. »


  • “Life, Lady Stutfield, is simply a mauvais quart d’heure made up of exquisite moments.”, Oscar Wilde

  • “Il ne faut pas avoir peur du bonheur. C’est seulement un bon moment à passer., Romain Gary

  • “Le bonheur, ça n’est pas grand-chose, c’est du chagrin qui se repose.”, Léo Ferré (1973).

  • “J’ai connu des moments de bonheur, mais ça ne m’a pas rendu heureux”. Jules Renard

repetition compulsion against free will

  • “Je ne fais pas le bien que je veux, et je fais le mal que je ne veux pas.”, Paul de Tarse (saint Paul; v.8-v.64-67).
  • The illusion which man has that his will is free is so deeply rooted that I am ready to accept it. I act as though I were a free agent. But when an action is performed it is clear that all forces of the universe from all eternity conspired to cause it, and nothing I could do  could have prevented it. It was inevitable. If it was good I can claim no merit; if it was bad I can accept no censure.” (William Somerset Maugham, Of human bondage, 1915, 228)
  • “He had long come to the conclusion that nothing amused him more than metaphysics, but he was not sure of their efficacy in the affairs of life. The neat little system which he had formed as a result of his meditations at Blackstable had not been of conspicuous use during his infatuation with Mildred. He could not be positive that reason was much of help in the conduct of life. It seemed to him that life lived itself. He remembered very vividly the violence of emotion which had possessed him and his inability, as if he were tied down to the ground with ropes, to react against it. He read many wise things in books, but he could only judge from his own experience (…); he did not calculate the pros and cons of an action, the benefits which must befall him if he did it, the harm which might result from the omission; but his whole being was urged on irresistibly. (…) The power that possessed him seemed to have nothing to do with reason; all that reason did was to point out the methods of obtaining what his whole soul was striving for. Macalister reminded him of the Categorical Imperative: “Act so that every action of yours should be capable of becoming  a universal rule of action for all men.” “That seems to me perfect nonsense (…) It suggests that one choose one’s course by an effort of will. And it suggests that reason is the surest guide. (…)” “You seem to be a contented slave of your passions.” “A slave because I can’t help myself, but not a contented one,” laughed Philip. (…) “Well, I can’t say anything about other people. I can only speak for myself. The illusion of free will is so strong in my mind that I can’t get away from it, but I believe it is only an illusion. But it is an illusion which is one of the strongest motives om my actions. Before I do anything I feel that I  have choice, and that influences what I do, but afterward, when the thing is done, I believe it was inevitable from all eternity.” (William Somerset Maugham, Of human bondage, 1915, 356-358)
  • “Ze probeerde zich af te vragen waar die absurde trouw aan het afgrijselijke vandaan kwam, maar ze besefte dat ze geen antwoorden had. Ze begreep alleen dat niets sterker is dan dat instinct om terug te keren naar de plek waar je bent kapot gemaakt, en om dat moment jarenlang opnieuw te beleven.” (A. Barrico, Zonder bloed, 2003, Breda, De Geus)
  • Averroès dans ‘Averroès ou le secrétaire du diable’, Gilbert Sinoué (2017), p. 172-3; p. 193: “La volonté humaine veut et choisit par nécessité. (…) Le libre arbitre est une puissance passive, non active, qui est mue par la nécessité du désir. (…) La pensée suprême qui domine l’univers n’est pas gestionnaire de nos destins.”

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