On the Infinity of Desire
Desire feigns limitlessness. When I am thirsty, I do not desire a glass of water or, even, several glasses of water. My desire tells me that oceans would be insufficient to quench this need to drink.
All of the desires are similarly structured. When desire is experienced, need posits itself as endless. I am not hungry for a hamburger. I desire all the hamburgers in the world. Indeed, the experience of satiation can not be imagined by one who desires. Try this experiment: when you are very thirsty, imagine how you might feel after drinking cold water until your thirst is fully satisfied. You will be entirely unable to imagine the sensation of not being thirsty. Your desire occupies the entire field of the need and there is no room for even the idea of being satisfied with respect to that desire.
In this way, it seems that desire partakes in the infinite – or, at least, persuades us that it does. When I desire sleep, food, water, quiet, love, happiness, company, I desire these things without limit, in improbable endless quantities.
This phenomenon shouldn’t be called an illusion – perhaps, my use of the word “feigns” is ill-advised. When desire operates, it’s scope is without limit; it is unreasonable and does not posit any boundaries. This is the nature of what we call desire. Desire does not contain satiation within it. A desire that operations rationally, that calculates – a thirst that specifies, for instance, that it will be satisfied by three 8 ounce glasses of water – is not desire. It is something else and less. Desire doesn’t calculate the need. Rather, desires postulates the need as infinite.
We are all familiar with this principal as expressed in sexual desire. The desire to copulate formulates a wish for endless ecstasy, orgasm, as it were, without end. Our first sad lesson in reality occurs in the instant after climax.