Escapism, Control, and the Discernment of Desires

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Originally presented as part of a conference panel in response to John Manoussakis’s The Ethics of Time (2017) at the Psychology and the Other Conference (October, 2017), this piece considers the ethical status of desires felt as incompletion or lack amid the “unfolding of the good” in a “process of perfection,” namely, a temporal striving toward teleological fulfillment. I argue that two seemingly contradictory drives to eliminate any feeling of lack or desire—one toward absolute control and mastery and the other toward escapism and numbing intoxication—present destructive deceptions that deny our human fragility, incompletion, and interconnectedness. Any attempts to eliminate or to arrest such desire or sense of lack through attempts at escapism or control ultimately lead to a self-imposed isolation, impede our teleological fulfillment, and prevent proper relationality with others.

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