Stefa Govaart

Enjoyment's Gusto

I must wander from fun to joy. You run from glee to delight. Enjoy!––a command more than an exclamation––doesn’t hide. What does remain hidden is “the link between exploitation and enjoyment, the reproduction of the relation of domination by means of the production of enjoyment”.[1] The grafting of libidinal economy to political economy has to do with how a person isn’t so much the one who enjoys but is rather enjoyed by a system they had hoped to believe they are not, but are. Even the most progressive, woke and daring dating app doesn’t relieve you from this deadlock. Tinder paradise thrives on the articulation of possibility, not impossibility. The obsession with articulating desires in advance in the hope of feeling truer to oneself functions to disavow the unconscious desire for wanting what cannot be had.[2] We seek an endless amount of sexual experimentation, rather than a necessary impossibility.[3] The subject is her unconscious but doesn’t (want to) believe it can be lived. “The subject is brought into existence through the process of alienation, together with the fiction of full subjective being, non-alienated self, consciousness of ego-cogito, whose apparent primacy results from a retroactive projection.”[4] However much we like to project, there is no non-alienated subject to return to, no limit to what can be alienated. No one knows what to do with herself. No one is present to herself. And this isn’t only sad. Enjoyment, make me mephitic, count me among your gusto.[5]

Whose figure forgoes pretense, sham, untruth, and myth?
Who’s cunning but doesn’t take a bribe? 
Who knows that the air is contaminated but doesn’t seek revenge? 

You don’t respond to Enjoy!, rather, your response already inheres in your being commanded by it. Shifting from active to (convoluted) passive tense, the point is that beliefs are in the air, even if no one will admit to having them. If, today, and forever, the persistence of alienation in subjective being has been exploited, with suffering as its necessary corollary––not only for the poor, subjected, and underprivileged, but also for the rich, wealthy and famous[6]––then what? There is no space for retreat, no spiritual junction of non-smoking and 0.0%, no slow food which doesn’t use chemicals, no charity where help is given without damage being done. “Inside, outside … these are things we don’t understand. Who says that? There is no such thing as a defined outside of capitalism anymore, and the inside is so full of holes that billions leak out of banks just because of some unauthorized trading by an anonymous broker. Maybe in our latitudes the idea of the outside was a childish illusion to begin with.”[7] Your lived experience is lived capital.[8]

Who’s on the money? 
Whose is a heart that speaks facts?
Whose tongue is without slander?

What of the widespread use of sentence-type titles for newly installed exhibitions using forms of parallelism? Today’s pool of exhibition headings are a symptom of the total subsumption Claire Fontaine describes above. If everything feels like just feeling everything all the time, then it’s a stench permeating the air, and you inhale it. You cannot not be seeking it. Transgressing it, no way. Sneaking around it, maybe. 

I roar, I mourn, I must, I must wander from melancholia to melancholia.
How I glitter from afar!
I am here.
I am

Distraught, I am here, present.
I am overcome, hysterical. 
Am I at my wits’ end?

It doesn’t look like you enjoy making what you make, a guest remarks to you during a studio visit at De Ateliers. You confide in me on Zoom, Tash. Did they tell you what enjoying making what you make would feel like?, I ask. Enjoying my privacy, I work for a system that doesn’t support my betterment!, you could have yelled in response. Or: Something in my bones is not fully there! I have a disturbed relationship to my own body! This does not necessarily only have negative consequences! You would have convinced the guest, who would have exclaimed, hysterically, inflected by your temper: I begin and perish! I want to work but I have to go to work!

In the cutting off of my days I said: there is an intellect which I sense in me. 
A reek is over me: I call to it.

ENJO                                                   YME                                                                            NT

I’m trying to confront your confrontational language. If the human is alienation, then language is too. Amidst all our discursive niceties there is no right position. But rather than less this means more work. We have to work the language shop. What can you believe when authority is deception? An acrid perfume. 

Brussels, May 9, 2022




[1] Tomšič, Samo. The Labour of Enjoyment: Towards a Critique of Libidinal Economy. Köln/August Verlag, 2019, p. 15.
[2] “We have never had sex”, Oxana Timofeeva declares. “We Have Never Had Sex.” Stasis, vol. 4, no. 1, 2016.  
[3] A necessary impossibility, for Frank Ruda, “stands at the ground of any true life and real politics and any true art”. Ruda’s position is that of “philosophical fatalism” which––not uninterestingly––“neither implies a tragic dimension, such that one foresees how there always will be a necessary conflict between one’s hopes and wishes, desires and projects and the real and objective conditions, nor a existentialist dimension such that one would need to take the absurdity of the world into account and cannot escape doing all the Sisyphean repetitive work of becoming the bearer of some existential decision. The kind of philosophical fatalism I want to defend rather has a peculiar comic dimension, because: 1. It neither assumes that things will go wrong in the future but rather implies a different relation to the past; 2. It resembles the attitude the cartoon figures have that go on running even if they already surpassed the end of a cliff”. Ruda, Frank. “First as ‘Politics’, then as ‘Art’.” Stasis, 2017, pp. 20-21.   
[4] Tomšič. Ibid. p. 121.
[5] Make me bitter./ Count me among the almonds. Celan, Paul. “Zähle die Mandeln” [“Count the Almonds”]. From Memory Rose into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry. Translated by Pierre Joris. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020. 
[6] I mean to say that the only thing money can’t buy is nonexploitation. The rich think their millions render them nonexploited beings. They are wrong.
[7] Huberman, Anthony, and Claire Fontaine. “Claire Fontaine.” Bomb Magazine, 2008, p. 26. 
[8] Carrière, Ulysse. “Vandalizing the Subject.” ILL WILL, 2022.