I have just started reading the new Roberto Bolano book, 2666, the very one that is making all kinds of waves for its immanent changing of literature. I will make some comments here as I work through it. It is a massive tome so it may take me some time, but I guess that is then why god invented the ‘next item’ button at the bottom of the RSS viewer.
In his introduction of Liz Norton, Bolano says that she does not have the drive present in the other three characters. My ears always perk up when I cross this word because of its complex and ubiquitous presence in psychoanalytic literature. Drive, according to Zizek, “persists in a certain demand, it is a ‘mechanical’ insistence that cannot be caught up in the dialectical trickery: I demand something and I persist in it to the end.” (1998. Looking awry. 21)
I will probably butcher the theory here, but the demand is, in short, the opposite of desire. We are driven to something not because we are told to want it and not because we are told to not want it. The drive harkens back to the fundamental lacuna. It is this reference that makes Zizek and Bolano arrive at the same conclusion: drive is in opposition to “the word life [hence ‘death drive’], and, on rare occasions, happiness.” (Bolano, 2004, 8) The obvious difference though is that Zizek believes true happiness is best found by following the drive and enjoying the symptom, whereas Bolano has set up the binary in the other direction.
Needless to say he has already struck upon some ground that is both deep and also treacherously close to the jagged rocks lurking below the waters.