Sex in Theory Annual Lecture: Alenka Zupančič "Desire"
Over the last decade or two, the question of desire seems to have all but disappeared from theoretical approaches to sexuality and its vicissitudes, in favor of a focus on enjoyment and drive, or on deconstructing the power of the norms that guide our thinking about sexuality. Although desire cannot simply be divorced from these concerns, it has its own autonomous conceptual core. It is linked to the violent emergence of subjectivity and raises questions that go beyond and are more fundamental than those of individuality and its forms of enjoyment or identity. Subjectivity is not the same as individuality, and desire in particular tends to break down the usual moorings and supports of identity. The relationship between desire and fantasy also deserves closer consideration. The talk will focus on the disruptive, destabilizing, and even destructive nature of desire, without viewing these traits as simply and inherently “bad” or as something best avoided and suppressed.