G.A. Cohen's work on pluralism is rooted in the idea that every stated motivation is reducible to evermore unclear drives, and that these drives are ultimately irrational in nature. For example, a person might say they are a nationalist. Cohen would say that this could be pressed to ideas of community, which reduces to belonging, which reduces to a sort of comfort in the presence of others, and so on. Cohen suggests there is no "ultimate" reduction that can take place - at root, our motivations are not wholly knowable, and our political stands are on somewhat tenuous ground given how they are tied to intuitions.

Contemporary psychoanalysis is similar in some respects. Slavoj Zizek notes that the aim of Lacanian psychoanalysis is not so much functioning but rather awareness of the coordinates of the subject. This involves becoming aware of the fundamental fantasy that structures our desires, and to go through this fantasy to become free to pursue desires while accepting their largely arbitrary and insatiable nature. This is somewhat different from Cohen, who talks more about stock than flow. That is, Cohen tends to see any given political motivation as rooted in a certain subsidiary emotion as a given value, while Lacan emphasizes the structures that seek balance in a cycling of drives.

I have been in a deadlock of desires for over a decade. This leaves me unable to do much in a given day. I believe that my psychic structure is obsessional-neurotic. This suggests that even writing this is a strategy of avoidance. The main problem I have, in my limited knowledge on such things, is that I recognize that my desires are essentially arbitrary, yet I am unable to reassert myself as guided by them in a tolerable way.

To give an example of the above, one of the most important things to me is my failed relationship with a girl that we will call Natalie. I was friends with Natalie for a few years and then one day, quite suddenly, I felt an incredible rush of emotion and felt as if I had fallen in love. Yet Natalie was quite attractive and the chances of us having a successful relationship were low. What's important is that I knew this in the same moment that I fell for her. So in that second where a desire manifested itself, it did so in a bizarre way. That is, it was unable to assert itself directly, so it had to withdraw to a position of safety by elevating itself to a sort of certainty. So I packaged it in my mind in a way that it was "destined" to be. In other words, she wouldn't normally be with me, but this was different, I had the sanction of the Other which would underwrite the achievement of my desire. Yet, importantly, I didn't really believe that, not even at the time. So I spent the next few years trying to force her to act in a way that would "free" me from the delusion that we would be together.

As it happened, Natalie, it seems to me, is fairly simply a hysterical-neurotic, and we entered a sort of dance where I demanded her react to something I knew I would never get (a loving relationship with her) and she was essentially paralyzed by refusing to reject my demands in an obvious way. We ended up spending a lot of time together, becoming close friends for a while. During this time I was constantly trying to initiate a physical relationship, always holding her and so on. She saw her reticence as sufficient rejection, but was unable to provide any decisive break. Neither of us had a serious relationship in high school because of this.

As we drifted apart by moving to different cities, Natalie slowly moved on. I never did. I have only had one attempt at a relationship since then, and I was fairly disinterested in even that. I am very attracted to women, it isn't obvious to me that it is a sexual identity issue, as one therapist suggested. My reaction to this has been both embarrassment and bafflement.

At about the same time that I fell for Natalie, I gradually started withdrawing from other aspects of my life. I did poorly in school. I rarely left my room. I wasted an immense amount of time. I kept hope for the future by planning trips and coming up with schemes to get better, but it was usually half-hearted and poorly executed. This culminated in me moving to another city, far from my family and remaining friends, where I was diagnosed with psychosis, something which now has been withdrawn in favour of anxiety. No doctor has been able to figure out how to fix it, and I've done some cognitive therapy without much success.

Obviously this has little to do with any specific person, it is more the structure of desiring than Natalie, and if there were no Natalie it would have been someone else, and if not someone then something. Politics has played a parallel role in trying to get myself set on some other course, but politics has never been sufficient. As a result of my treatment I gained a large amount of weight, and I was never a fan of my own appearance before that. There is a bit of a vicious cycle, where failures reinforce the idea that I am generally a failure. But I don't think that is sufficient to explain the whole mess. That is, I think I can talk this through, and not in a blunt CBT way. I feel like the key is somewhere obvious.
thats pretty cool i never read any ga cohen myself.
have you ever read Thus Spake Zarathrusta, getfiscal? i think it really might help you.
why do you think that? i haven't read it, no.
i really love thus spoke zarathustra, i am finishing rereading it and i feel i'm understanding it so much more this time around. what a beautiful book... and oh how i love zarathustra's animals!

getfiscal posted:
why do you think that? i haven't read it, no.

i dunno. just think it'll help you own yourself a little bit more.

what translation do yall got. i have this weirdo one i found in a half price books, the general tone of the packaging indicates to me, for no specific reason, some dinky publisher whos mining out of copyright texts for a quick and easy source of revenue. anyway its a transatlion by thomas common
getfiscal i think i may have asked you this before, either in lf or the dip, but whats your recommended book or books by cohen
i've only read a few. i think "if you are an egalitarian, why are you so rich?" or whatever is a good place to start because it is just fun reading about his life and hearing his case against rawls and thinking through whether you can be a wealthy egalitarian (like he was)
that was a very fine essay getfiscal, and i commend you on the bravery (i think) it takes to discuss such things. i have personally have always attempted to keep internet and rl rigidly separated, for fear that each sphere might cross-contaminate the other and thus damage the separate identities i maintain in each. your crossing of them thus shows real honesty and with it, real heart! ganbatte, getfiscal-san!
thanks i appreciate your reply.