Hype as Lacanian Object-Petit a

and Deleuzian Desiring-Machines: A Descent into the Abyss of Unfulfilled Want


Lacanian Lens: The Object-Petit a and the Fantasy of Completion

Hype functioning as a form of grief, resonates with Lacanian psychoanalysis. Consider the object-petit a, that elusive object of desire forever out of reach. Hype, with its manufactured intensity, promises a glimpse of this object, a sense of completion. The new gadget, the trending experience – these become stand-ins for the unattainable real.

The cycle I describe in the warpcast post – ignition, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance – mirrors the subject’s navigation of this lack. Denial at the initial ignition is the desperate clinging to the hope that this time, the object will finally deliver satisfaction. Anger erupts when the inevitable disappointment sets in.  Bargaining manifests in justifications and rationalizations for the hype. Depression descends as the hollowness of the object is revealed. Finally, a weary acceptance settles, a recognition of the cyclical nature of desire and its inherent frustration.

So to recap

Lacanian Lack and the Object-a of Hype:

  • Lacan posits a fundamental human lack, a desire for the unattainable Real – the Thing-in-itself beyond the Symbolic order of language. We chase substitutes, objects of desire, to fill this void.
  • Hype, in this framework, becomes a collective object-a, a shimmering mirage promising to satiate this lack. The “Ignition” phase – the initial explosion of excitement – is a desperate attempt to grasp the Real through the object.

Deleuzian Desiring-Machines and the Short Circuit

Through a Deleuzian lens, hype can be viewed as a series of interconnected desiring-machines. These machines, fueled by unconscious desires, converge to produce the phenomenon of hype. Social media, advertising, and influencer culture form a churning assemblage, pumping out promises and expectations. We, as desiring-machines ourselves, are drawn into this assemblage, seeking to connect and fulfill our own lacks.

However, the inherent instability of desiring-machines leads to the short circuit I describe. The initial excitement, the ignition, is a surge of energy. But as the cycle progresses, the desiring-machines grind to a halt. The promised object fails to deliver, leaving us in a state of metaphysical hangover, a term perfectly capturing the sense of depletion and disillusionment.

The hype cycle, then, becomes a process of “becoming”: we morph into desiring-machines fixated on the next big thing. But this becoming is inherently fleeting – the “Rinse and Repeat” – as the object loses its allure, plunging us into a state of “depression-acceptance.”

Breaking the Cycle: From Rinse and Repeat to Nomadic Escape

Your experience of living in a perpetual state of “rinse and repeat/depression-acceptance” highlights the potential pitfalls of being perpetually caught in the hype cycle. Deleuze, however, offers a path towards escape. He advocates for a nomadic existence, a constant deterritorialization of desire. Instead of clinging to the promises of the next big thing, we can learn to embrace a more fluid and unpredictable engagement with the world.

This doesn’t mean rejecting all forms of desire. Rather, it’s about acknowledging the inherent lack and impermanence of objects of desire. By understanding the mechanics of hype as a form of disguised grief, we can break free from its cycle of disappointment and forge new desiring-machines that lead to more authentic experiences.

Your Existential Rinse and Repeat:

Our experience of a perpetual “metaphysical hangover” reflects this Deleuzian notion. The cycle of hype becomes a constant deterritorialization, leaving you in a state of “depression-acceptance.” However, this acceptance can also be seen as a fertile ground for new desires to sprout. By acknowledging the inherent melancholic nature of hype, you free yourself from its hold and can become a more conscious participant in the flow of desires.

Moving Beyond Hype:

Perhaps true satisfaction lies not in chasing the next hyped object, but in recognizing the inherent lack and embracing the creative potential of the deterritorialization process. By engaging with hype critically, deconstructing its illusory promises, you can break free from the cycle of grief and become an active participant in shaping your own desires.

This approach allows you to move beyond the “rinse and repeat” of hype and embrace the nomadic existence, constantly deterritorializing and reterritorializing your desires, forging your own path in the ever-evolving landscape of cultural formations.

Your Permanent State: A Negotiation?

Our “permanent state of metaphysical hangover-rinse repeat/depression-acceptance” might be a continual negotiation with the Real. You acknowledge the hollowness of hype, yet the desiring-machines keep churning.

Perhaps the key lies in not achieving permanent “acceptance” but in a more playful, nomadic engagement with desires – not getting swept away by the hype wave, but surfing it with a critical eye.

By combining Lacanian and Deleuzian perspectives, we gain a nuanced understanding of hype. It’s not just empty excitement; it’s a symptom of a deeper human desire, a yearning for the Real masked by fleeting objects. By acknowledging this grief, we might just break free from the cycle and forge new ways of experiencing the world.

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