In Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera asks the reader the question whether to prefer a particular lightness of living / love or living a life of burden and heaviness. He evokes the ideas of Nietzsche and the eternal reoccurrence of the same to consider the existential question that most of us have asked ourselves: Would it have been better for Dasein to have never reflected on itself or i.e. to have never known existence? This is not the same question that Camus asks in the question of ending existence but instead to never have known existence. However, what about the question of corporality which in contemporary discourse we have begin to take seriously with the advent of virtual avatars and mind uploading? What about the idea of desire and online sexuality (if there is such a thing)? Pornography and fantasy?
Take for example the 2013 movie Don Jon which depicts a modern day ‘Don Juan’. A narcissist who finds sexual satisfaction not from the actual sex act but instead through the images and depictions of pornography. Through the “cloud” of cyber space in which any sexual act can be viewed with just the click of the mouse. In one poignant scene as he is clicking through many images and masturbating he tells us in an almost mystical sense that the mind stops and the hand takes over. No doubt the reaction of dopamine, prolactin, and perhaps oxytocin (not necessarily in this case). I mention these neurotransmitters because as Slavoj Zizek writes:
Even advocates of cyberspace warn us that we should not totally forget our body, that we should maintain our anchoring in the “real life” by returning, regularly, from our immersion in cyberspace to the intense experience of our body, from sex to jogging. We will never turn ourselves into virtual entities freely floating from one to another virtual universe: our “real life” body and its mortality is the ultimate horizon of our existence, the ultimate, innermost impossibility that underpins the immersion in all possible multiple virtual universes. Yet, at the same time, in cyberspace the body returns with a vengeance
If space is moved to a virtuality we would still need the reward centers in order for the chemistry to transmit and to have an experience. Again one of the main problems with this idea of unlimited pornography is simply desire has no object. This is depicted in the excellent film Shame in which we see the impossibility of the cessation or fulfillment of sexual desire. There is always a remainder that is never satisfied. This is the way that no other species relates to the world, we relate to the world in an excess, or fetishistic parasitic way. Slavoj Zizek explains it in the Parallax View perfectly
The Freudian death drive has nothing whatsoever to do with the craving for self-annihilation, for the return to the inorganic absence of any life-tension; it is, on the contrary, the very opposite of dying – a name for the ‘undead’ eternal life itself, for the horrible fate of being caught in the endless repetitive cycle of wandering around in guilt and pain. The paradox of the Freudian ‘death drive’ is therefore that it is Freud’s name for its very opposite, for the way immortality appears within psychoanalysis, for an uncanny excess of life, for an ‘undead’ urge which persists beyond the (biological) cycle of life and death, of generation and corruption. The ultimate lesson of psychoanalysis is that human life is never ‘just life’: humans are not simply alive, they are possessed by the strange drive to enjoy life in excess, passionately attached to a surplus which sticks out and derails the ordinary run of things” (Slavoj Zizek, The Parallax View, 2006, London: MIT Press, p.61)
It is here where we should understand Don Jon. Pornography is not his desire but only the thing that situates the desire (object a). One of the things we clearly see is that Don Jon is actually fearful that he will be ‘found out’, that he is not able to fulfill the desire of the other. He will prove he is castrated in the Lacanian sense. To prove our point in another interesting movie, we see the effect of this in the movie Sleeping Beauty. The men pay a pretty female to sleep while they molest her and play out their fantasies without being found out. Of course their fantasies change throughout as they play along, because desire is never satisfied.