Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Three Directives

There are three directives which move a human being into action. These are “need”, “desire”, and “will”.
Need is the most basic and primordial mover. The human machine needs food, needs water, needs warmth, needs affection, needs to excrete waste. Once a need has been met there is a sense of concrete satisfaction that sets in until the need arises again according to the physical cycles of the human machine. Needs can be met.
Desires are a trickier monster. They arise when needs have been transformed through the symbolic structure. For example, thirst is a real need for the human machine so an advertisement for a clothing line might depict a well dressed man and a woman drinking from glasses. A human machine that sees the ad will unwittingly transform the need to drink into a desire for a dress or pair of slacks. The trouble is, that while drinking a glass of water will quench thirst, buying a pair of slacks will not. Satisfaction will be denied.
Desires can never lead to satisfaction because they are born of the symbolic realm and not of the real. This is true of any desire, it is what distinguishes desire from need. It is an endless circle, a wheel fit for a hamster. The pursuit of desires can never yield fulfillment. This is not because there is something fundamentally evil about desire. It is because desire is a need that has been disfigured by language and made abstract. You cannot eat, drink, or hug an abstract.
A young gorilla needs something to love in order for its life to continue. This need can be met by a kitten or a doll or a fury blanket tied to a post, as long as the gorilla can touch it, the need is met. The same is true of human animals. You don’t need a porn star to hug. You could give a squeeze to a warty old hag to meet the need. You desire a porn star, a picture from a magazine, but even if you meet a live porn model, she will never be exactly the same as the picture from the magazine. She may meet some of your needs, but she can never quench your desires, those will go ungratified into eternity.
Will stands in a category all of its own. It does not arise from the machinations of the human, physical or linguistic. It is neither a need nor a desire. It comes from elsewhere. It is infinitely more difficult to act on will than it is to respond to a need or a desire. Will often conflicts with the needs and desires of the human biological machine.
With both needs and desires occupying the attention and energy of the machine, it can be almost impossible to heed the strange call of the will. Desires are particularly an obstacle. While the human machine has a limited number of needs which have to be met repeatedly, the ghostly world of desire is as unlimited as it is insatiable. The desires will breed more desires and will come to occupy all the space of the mind, demanding that one thing or another be pursued until the will is nearly buried in an avalanche of desires.
Desires will propagate on their own without any effort being made on the part of the human machine, but the true will, if it is denied attention and left unused, will wither like an atrophied limb. Efforts must be made to invoke and support the will, efforts which may seem most unpleasant to the machine because those efforts will be of no direct benefit to it.

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