Identification and desire: Lacan and Althusser versus Deleuze and Guattari. A short note

Abstract

The paper constitutes an exploration of the construction of academic identities through a retrospective autoethnographic narrative analysis. In what is an essentially experimental mode I set out to examine processes of identification, and in particular, the understanding of desire that lies at the heart of them, for, it can be argued without desire there is no identity. Therefore, I begin my analysis by following two lines of thought concerning desire. The first, drawing on the work of Lacan, conceives of desire negatively as lack (Fink 1995; Lacan 2001). The second deriving from the work of Deleuze and Guattari (2004/1987, 2004/1972) constructs desire as abundance, a positive force. These two conceptualisations may, at first sight, appear to be opposed but is this necessarily the case? The question to be examined then is, to what extent can these two conceptualisations of desire – as lack and as abundance - be held to be incommensurable? And following this, can an unstable accommodation between desire as lack and desire as abundance be drawn on in theorising processes of identification and the subjectivities that these processes give rise to? If identification is always (already?) an inherently unstable process, located within a space, which I shall designate a narrative space, how does a mobilisation of desire which moves between lack and abundance enable a creative and experimental conceptualisation of processes of identification to emerge?

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