Who is the author of your desires?

“No one knows who will live in this cage in the future, or whether at the end of this tremendous development entirely new prophets will arise, or there will be a great revival of old ideas and ideals, or, whether neither the neither, a mechanized petrification, embellished with a kind of convulsive smugness. ~ Max Weber

One of the benefits of civilization is that the majority of people have their basic physiological needs – food, clean water, shelter from the elements, protection from predators – met.

But once we’re no longer running from lions and looking for our next meals, what do we really want and why?

Lacan said: “The unconscious is the discourse of the Other”, implying that the preponderance of ideas floating in our minds was instilled as we became members of a particular culture with different morals. , standards and particular languages.

When people casually discuss shopping wins or how many followers they have on social media, are they looking for connection, status, or both? Social media is full of smiling winners making pilgrimages to “destination” locations to join an elite club of humans with dozens of passport stamps and embossed baseball caps. “Affinity clustering” is how any anthropologist studying tribalism or MBA marketing student would refer to this phenomenon.

It seems that for some Westerners, life is a game in which they try to amass and hold on to capital and receive doses of dopamine when they check their bank accounts or stock portfolios online.

Others seem to seek prestige or fame – mainly measured today by accumulating followers and “LIKES”.

Lacan would say that everything we desire must be missed. But how did you learn that you lacked prestige or capital?

If you want to accumulate wealth for the sole purpose of accumulating wealth (either in dollars, or in real estate, or in stocks or cryptocurrency), you must lack security, self-esteem.

What happened to you when you were young to inform you that accumulating wealth would solve this problem?

Were you made fun of by the cool clique at school and became a self-proclaimed “influencer” or “public figure” to antagonize that clique decades later? Is your desire for notoriety compensation for a humiliation you suffered a long time ago?

Considering that Kim Kardashian has removed all barriers to entry to fame, legions of talentless and skillless Gen-Zers declare themselves “public figures” 20 to 50 years before accomplishing anything but feat. to know how to take a selfie in a moderately interesting location. Could resentment and malice fuel the onslaught of media scouring our feeds as we collectively march our way to schadenfreude bliss each morning on our slats?

“A living being seeks above all to unload its strength. Life itself is the will to power. ~Nietzsche

Nietzsche believed that most of our actions were triggered by a primordial will to power, the desire to wield power in some way. Even if the will to power leads to a kind of David Blaine self-control or Derren Brown genius, I have come to believe that the exercise of power is a poor substitute for love.

If you could only have one sentence on your tombstone, it would be…

“Was Powerful”

“Was prestigious”

“Was Influential”

“was fair”

“Was crazy busy”

“Had status”

“Owned many houses”


… Where


The most common regret heard by dying humans is “I should have loved more”.

Few are known for saying, “I should have spent more time in the office” or “I should have owned more stuff” or “I should have posted more content online.” So why do people spend so much of their waking hours talking about work, consumption, and stature online?

“Every good bureaucrat knows his true end: to expand his own little power.” ~Philip Rieff

If we know that love is the only thing that really matters, then why do so many people try to impress others by announcing unimpressive micro-achievements (“I bought an NFT this morning!”), material possessions, and not-so-subtly flagging their net worth by mentioning fabulous restaurants (“so expensive but worth it!”), where they dine, major purchases, travel expenses, and zip codes?

What we really crave is human connection.

“Mirror neurons don’t fire on text messages,” a public figure once wrote. “One hug equals one million social media followers,” said another.

How did your subconscious come to believe that a particular purse, automobile, or hotel experience would bring you joy?

Voco in Latin means “to call”. Everyone has a vocation, I believe. A vocation. What the universe calls them to do during their short stay on planet Earth.

Many people seem to have been deceived or distracted from their vocation by following our society’s prescribed formula for “the good life.” This 1950s white suburban fence utopia has become horribly corrupt, leaving a society of depressed, anxious people who feel “stranded” or “not good enough”.

This supposed “failure” is because they are using someone else’s (obsolete and nonsensical) measure of success.

So if you suffer from one of the common afflictions plaguing Westerners today, first take a look at your level of autonomy: did you make a Faustian pact for wealth or fame, leaving your soul starved if not tarnished?

Who is the author of your desires and are they healthy desires?

Or have you locked yourself into your autonomy and enslaved yourself, to the point that you don’t even realize that the key to your prison has always been in your back pocket?

In my workshops on happiness and authenticity, I tell students, “We become what we love and we become what we hate and both are inauthentic.” We imitate our caregivers when we are young because we depend on them to keep us alive; then, as we individualize and gain our own sense of ourselves, we rebel against those caregivers in order to define ourselves as individuals. This inner conflict pursues many people throughout their lives, or at least until they discern their vocations and chart paths to becoming authentic and living their true purposes.

For any kind of inauthenticity is a surefire route to depression and anxiety, because when you seduce someone into admiring your false self, you will resent them later for not liking your authentic self (which you probably never showed him).

Nietzsche wrote “Become who you are”, which I translate as “How to own your life”, how to accept every second of your life and be the author of a fabulously authentic account which augurs well for an equally fruitful future, not a slave to what society has taught you to desire.

Lola R. McClure