The loss of desire is the loss of the human. It is desire that makes us human. To not desire is to cease to be.
What is desire? Desire is always a desiring. It is constant. It is a wanting of something that you cannot get, a longing for what is always already out of reach. It is different from need, which are items required for basic biological functioning, or demand, which we have to get immediately after we ask. Desire is always impotent. The cause of desire, obscure. We don’t know leads us to desire, but we desire nevertheless. It is a blind, quixotic driving towards something that is specifically human.
Desire is eliminated not when we cannot get what we desire, but when we immediately receive it. Once a desire is fulfilled, a void is opened, for we are at a lost for what we should desire (but we always want to desire nonetheless). To be at a loss with regards to our desire is to not know who I am, because who I am is defined in relation to my desires. (I am, in some sense, my desires.) This is why it is embarrassing or uncomfortable to be stared at by someone else even when we are not doing anything bad. Because we are afraid to reveal our desires under the other’s gaze, and for another to see our desires is for them to know us even better than we do. It is to turn us naked, vulnerable, childlike. (Perhaps this is why the quintessential image of the lover is them looking into each other’s eyes. For where the eye directs is where desire most naturally lives. To look at the other’s eye, and to allow another to look at my eyes, is to open myself to another in all of my inadequacies, stripped away of the persona that I deceive others and myself in. It is to entrust someone else to know me better than I do. There is nothing more heroic than that. But perhaps this is also why to be loved is always a startling, even violent affair. Because one becomes an object of attention, whose subjective elements has to be hidden if one does not want to be hurt—that is, one has to even feign subjectivity, which is the greatest form of humiliation, much like porn actors who pretends to enjoy. And this is also why the injunction to enjoy is never benign. An injunction to “be happy” that is more and more prevalent…)
(To carry on after the detour.) We become a creature of no desire when our desires are manufactured, are given, and are immediately fulfilled after they are given. I don’t like a bashing of “consumer society.” It is too vague of a word, too useless of one. But there is some truth to it nevertheless. For a consumer is not a desiring monster, as we would like to believe, but a creature of no desire, and that is the most terrifying part. To have no desire (whilst appearing to want everything) is to be objectified into a subject. The worst thing of all.
The question is not to attain what we desire. It is to know what we really desire. When desiring loses its allusiveness, desire loses.