I gave a conference paper today and realized that it's difficult for people to imagine what pre-discursive desire is.
Lacanians, as I've mentioned before, actually hold the very position of the ego psychologists that they criticize.
When ego psychologists talk about the conflict-free and autonomous zone created in the mind after the oedipus complex they only hold that it affects the ethical values that the child chooses. Lacanians criticize this and want to decenter the subject so that it is really societal discourses and not the individual's choice that established ego ideal values. However, where ego psychologists limit this to ethical values the Lacanians hold that discourse shapes more than ethical values and that varieties of egoism and altruism itself are implanted into the individual. They don't have room for the character and drive based economy of the libido that the individual forms in psycho-sexual development.
I agree with the Lacanians, contra the ego psychologists, that the individual is inscribed by social traditions and does not choose among them himelf, but I agree with the ego psychologists that pre-oedipal development forms an individual character that is the foundation upon which social traditions are hoisted.
In an earlier post I drew attention to Freud's copernican revolution in seeing the pre-discursive drives as based upon psychosexual development as opposed to the rational subject choosing. Towards understanding them I've begun to post work on how to understand the phallic phallus vs. the anal phallus in multiple phases. I'm hoping to get down to the oral phallus and the earlier ocular one sometime in the future.
It's hard for people to understand how there can be these earlier phalluses considering that the child isn't yet speaking. People are even skeptical of the anal phallus, and I think it's because they think that the idea of god-like perfection that I've traced to this stage is too complicated for the child to grasp. Their error is in assuming that the child is grasping these complicated relations through something like ordinary adult cognition as opposed to seeing that the human mind develops through a social ontology and not an individual ontology. Annie Reich writes:
There normally develops a faculty for self-evaluation and reality appreciation, which enables the child to recognize certain aspects of the parental images as something he has not yet reached but wishes to become. Here we see a type of ego ideal- we might call it the normal one- which will lead to attempts gradually to bring about a realization of these aims, as soon as the individual’s growing strength and capacities will permit it (Annie Reich, Early Identifications, p. 221)
What the ego drives/ideals enshrine is not a cognitive understanding of god-like perfection or an understanding of human society but of the child's relation to imagos that in their depersonalized forms stand for a relation to people in general.
At the phallic Oedipal the child relates to a father imago that stands for interaction with those who have a good reputation or positions of symbolic prestige (ie educators, professionals, etc.). The narcissist here diminishes transference to these people and gives others the impression that he is more powerful than the fathers in his area of knowledge or skill set.
At the anal Oedipal the child relates to a father imago that stands for interaction with people who have absolute power in society (ie. presidents, popes, geniuses). The narcissist here diminishes transference to these people and gives others the impression that his knowledge or skills are the most important for anyone to have.
At the oral Oedipal the child relates to a father imago that stands for interaction with people in general. The narcissist here diminishes transference to human relationships and gives others the impression that he doesn't need interactions with others.
I've created this sketch along the subject egoistic trend but it would apply to the 3 other libidinal positions as well. This is the horizontal axis.
Again the child isn't 'cognizing' these social relations as if it has adult consciousness but instead is interacting with imagos that represent these social relations
There are many/ poly phalluses at the phallic stage
There is one phallus for all people at the anal stage
and, there is the phallus that represents otherness itself at the oral stage.
This is the vertical axis.
Based upon psychosexual development the child will have deutero or trito relations during these stages that others don't have and maybe even stop developing along a certain libidinal position. This forms his or her character and how he or she will strive for glory or harmony and where breakdowns (defusions) will occur.
As the child gets older and cognition develops further it will have more and more of a sense of how it is or is not occupying the relations of the phallus (both vertical and horizontal) in its relations to others and culture will provide the content. For example, where those who wanted to have the greatest knowledge (anal phallus in systematizing) in ancient Greece were producing such things as the pythagorean theorem which a grade school student learns now, those who seek the anal phallus today are working on quantum physics or something else that represents learning the secrets of God.
There is no doubt that a culture can provide discursive desires that make such knowledge an ideal that the individual pursues. This pursuit is not part of his 'being', which, as I've drawn attention to, is really his 'not-being' that he is driven to pursue as part of his make-up as an ego drive (he has a systematizing mind that is economically selected) or because his self-respect (ego ideal) demands he be regarded by others as having this god-like knowledge.