Thursday, October 9, 2014

Surplus Jouissance, Anyone?

Now, that we have reduced the mechanism of humoristic pleasure to a formula analogous to the formula of comic pleasure and of wit, we are at the end of our task. It has seemed to us that the pleasure of wit originates from an economy of expenditure in inhibition, of the comic from an economy of expenditure in thought, and of humor from an economy of expenditure in feeling. All three activities of our psychic apparatus derive pleasure from economy. They all strive to bring back from the psychic activity a pleasure which has really been lost in the development of this activity. For the euphoria which we are thus striving to obtain is nothing but the state of a bygone time in which we were wont to defray our psychic work with slight expenditure. It is the state of our childhood in which we did not know the comic, were incapable of wit, and did not need humor to make us happy. - Sigmund Freud, "Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious" (1916)

The death drive is the name given to that constant desire in the subject to break through the pleasure principle towards the Thing and a certain excess jouissance; thus jouissance is "the path towards death".

Insofar as the drives are attempts to break through the pleasure principle in search of jouissance, every drive is a death drive
- Jacques Lacan, "The Seminar, Book XVII, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis" (1959-60)

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