On Late-Capitalist Desire

Brent Vizeau


Contemporary capitalism, in having overcome the limitations on production once faced, now faces a limited capacity for consumption. Because economic models demand growth, producers have to find ways to increase consumerism. I will argue that increasing market demand is a matter of creating desires in individuals for produced goods, and that the work of postmodernist Jean Baudrillard together with that of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan provides a compelling lens for seeing how this is taking place. Baudrillard’s notion of the hyperreal as a condition where we model our lives on copies of simulations of reality that have no real basis, along with an understanding of Lacanian desire formation as the mechanics of how we end up desiring the simulacra of Baudrillard’s hyperreality, provides insight into how desires can be manipulated, and how and why advertising and media control can be so effective.


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University of Victoria