Zoran Roško (HR) Pleasure is the MacGuffin


Almost everything in our lives is structured like adverts. Some generally accepted value is superadded to some touted object that we might perhaps have some need for. But if you do buy that car, you won't get with it the chick used to advertise it − she is always going to remain the surplus that you are never ever going to meet. The advert stages the structure of the surplus that creates desire; the surplus itself is constitutively detached from the object of desire and hence is never a part of what we actually get. Even when we enjoy something experientially, it is seldom that same promised and desired pleasure. The desired pleasure is thus at base disappointing, always only so-so, but people are used to this and since, in addition, they are also ashamed of their own inability to take pleasure, they say that it “wasn‘t bad” or even that “it was great”. Most of the time people don‘t enjoy life, and so in fact this is not essentially modified by contemporary exhortations to enjoy. People actually do not enjoy, they are dependent (on the need to enjoy). Any current instruction to enjoy does not relate to any real-life enjoyment, rather to the increase in the dependence on pleasure, i.e. to the enhancement of consumption, which is the constant deferral of the orgasm. The way to this pleasure is thus an ever greater effort, a living torment. The order to enjoy creates more and more slog. To be slender, you‘ve got to work at it, slog away in the gym. To get any of the enjoined pleasures, you have to slog. Pleasure has become work.

Pleasure itself is thus not so much the fulfilment, is not the sense of the quest, it is rather the MacGuffin, the thing that sets off the action, that enables things to go on, to get you interested in what comes next, for the future to have appeal. Pleasure as the way of supplementing the MacGuffin reveals to us that everything has the MacGuffin shape and that anything whatever can fill in the MacGuffin void − it is not important what the quest is for, only to go on looking, for the quest still to be on; that it is not important what sets off the complication, only for there to be some complication.

Hedonism has the philosophical value of revealing to us the workings of other phenomena that are ostensibly deeper, more meaningful. Finally, the actual meaning or point is nothing very deep in itself. Meaning is perhaps a better advert than perhaps hedonism, but nothing truly profound. Simply because nothing is truly profound. That very same meaningful life (as advert fantasy) is not meaningful, it is perhaps just a little bit more subtle, complex, perhaps more comfortable than the example of hedonism. Point, somewhere at a level with love, is just the best advert that is given to us in the mediacum-life market of experience, but it is still just an advert. But an advert for what? What are we advertising with our lives? Probably nothing but more continuation... life is taking out loans on the future, getting into debt with the assumption that at some time in the future you‘re going to be able to service your debt, that at some time all this is going to be explained, going to come together. But this is the mass trance.

Meaning is not an objective, it is a means, one that enables things to go on going on, enables us to continue taking part in the maintenance of going on. The only objective of it all is to set all things in motion, for everything to circulate (as in capitalism money has to circulate). This is in fact traumatic − and since in reality we do not control the future, we have to ally ourselves to the enemy and create the illusion that we are ourselves the creators of time and action, that we are creating the future. Accordingly, children are the symbol of the future, for bearing children we create the illusion that we are in control of the future, giving it life. But this is just an advert. Pleasure in the future, duration, children, plot for the sake of plot − all these are just symptoms that pleasure is not there for our sake, only for things to go on, it is the MacGuffin of life.

Zoran Roško (HR)

Zoran Roško was born in Šibenik in 1960. At the turn of 1999 and 2000 he prepared for the magazine Književna smotra a thematic section of writings in which, for the first time in Croatia in an academic journal, the phenomenon of cyber culture was addressed. He is in the editorial board of Libra Libera and Tvrđa magazines. He has edited the shows Alternet and Avant-pop for the Third Programme of Croatian Radio. Since December 2003 he has been the chief editor of the fortnightly for culture and social events Zarez. In 2002 Naklada MD published his book of theoretical cultural and philosophical writings More Paranoid Than Love, More FunThan Evil which collected texts he had written about cyber-culture, adverts, media, philosophy, literature, religion, the New Age and the metaphysics of existence.