Figured as a thief of enjoyment, the state merely fits into the most common role of the other in the society of enjoyment. In every encounter with the other, I encounter someone or something that seems ready to enjoy at my expense and in my stead. Every interaction is a struggle for enjoyment. Hence, I must take precautions when entering into the social world, guarding myself against the threat that the other represents, This of course militates against civility because civility depends on not viewing the other as fundamentally threatening and on the presumption that both the subject and the other have sacrificed their enjoyment. In the society of enjoyment, civility becomes dangerous. If I act civilly, I risk allowing the other to take my enjoyment from me and expose my lack. However, this is but the beginning of the problem. If viewing the other as a potential thief of any enjoyment has the effect of creating less civil encounters, it has also the ominous effect of producing subjects prone to aggressiveness and violence, and we can see this tendency throughout the society of commanded enjoyment.Todd McGowan, "The End of Dissatisfaction?": Jacques Lacan and the Emerging Society of Enjoyment
Louise Fradenburg, "So that we May Speak of Them": Enjoying the Middle Ages
This essay explores the significance of enjoyment to medieval studies, and to some of the discontents of contemporary literary and cultural studies more generally. What, to begin with, is the nature of the signifying field in which medieval historiography, as a mode of sublimation, takes place? I use the term "sublimation" to refer to the problem addressed by Freud of how the creation of art and other forms of cultural "achievement" may be understood in relation to desire. The movie Babe will help us to an initial sketch of what is at stake in the relation of the signifier to desire and memory.
Babe is, first of all, a film with a recognizably medievalist agenda. It celebrates love between master and servant (these days, animals have to stand in for peasants), and rural life as scene in which such love might be rediscovered. It expresses distaste for technology, focused especially on communications in the form of the Fax machine, but also recuperates the Fax, as well as discipline, training, technique. These figures recall the master tropes of anti-utilitarian medievalism in the nineteenth century. So does the film's insistent association of meaningless speech with commercialism and disbelief in the remarkable, and its association of meaningful speech with Babe's taciturn but loving farmer- a man behind the times who nonetheless is able to succeed because he recognizes the distinctive gifts of his animals, even when they want to do the work of the "other" (even, that is, when the pig Babe wants to do the work of a sheep dog).
An envious feline "thief of enjoyment" at one point explains to Babe that cats, because they are beautiful, need not be useful, and therefore are not eaten. Pigs, on the other hand, are destined to be food, and this was the fate of Babe's family. This information has a severely depressive effect on Babe's desire to work as a sheep dog for his farmer, and to compete on the farmer's behalf in the upcoming sheep-dog trials. There follows a scene in which Babe has to be convinced that his farmer loves him, that his relation to this other is not merely instrumental. Babe is not persuaded by food. Babe is persuaded that he is loved by the other only when the other produces art for him, that is, sings and dances for...
The alternative being..."That damned dog stole ALL my enjoyment..."