LRO 307: “Be Happy, Eat, Drink, Repeat”: A Pandemic Slogan

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When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender
This I could not do

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)

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LRO 307
30th June 2021

 




"Be Happy, Eat, Drink, Repeat": A Pandemic Slogan
Marina Veneka

"Be Happy, Eat, Drink, Repeat." These five words constitute the printed slogan of a recycling bag by a well-known take-away franchise coffee shop selling, among other things, beverages and fast food. During the pandemic, one could order these commodities for pick up, to consume at home or on the way to work.

Changes experienced during quarantine have persisted and supervened in everyday life. More than ever, people buy products online using their electronic devices. Mobile and tablet screens have become the extension of their gazes and phones the extensions of their hands. For the youth, videogames and TV replace thinking. Thus life is rendered more robotic.

Accordingly, the political and scientific discourses constitute an unremitting binary that commands, while the abundance of commodities available (e.g. food, hand sanitizers, face masks) concern primarily the oral and anal objects. For example, the mask is taken off in public only when eating or drinking. Thereby we observe that the mouth must be occupied by hook or crook. Moreover, commodities associated with sanitation – some of them promising 99% effectiveness against the virus – are everywhere. The imperative of the capitalist discourse pushes humans to a surplus consumption of these commodities, so that hand sanitizer, for instance, is never enough. It is supposed that with these items the speaking being can maintain bodily health and is therefore protected.

The slogan is addressed to each consumer in the imperative form, as is usually the case in advertising campaigns: “Be happy, eat, drink, repeat”. But why? The aim of the advertisement's command of jouissance is to boost the speaking being’s superego, to increase both customer consumption and corporate profits. As Lacan puts it, “Nothing forces anyone to enjoy (jouir) except the superego. The superego is the imperative of jouissance – Enjoy!”[1] This command touches upon each speaking being separately, and each enjoys in his own way. However, despite our enjoyment of these objects, there is always a lack of jouissance.

No matter how many commodities one buys, the lack will always exist and this pushes the consumer to purchase more objects. Isn’t this the aim of the verb “repeat” that we find in the imperative of the slogan? Here we can consider Lacan’s reference to entropy: “only the dimension of entropy gives body to the fact that there is surplus jouissance there to be recovered.”[2] Social entropy tends to advance in the absence of external interference, so when we lose an object we are bound to regain another. This is the reason why the more objects there are around us, the more libidinal drive is produced. We enjoy instantaneously and the pattern is repeated as it becomes the routine of everyday life. This recalls Miller’s remark, “One always downs the same drink, once more”[3]. In 2021, as we seek greater senses of materiality and proximity, one may easily fall into the trap of addiction, that is, into the repetition of jouissance once more.

How might psychoanalysis make a shelter in this discontent of society? We could consider that each speaking being is called to circumscribe his jouissance and create his own law of entropy, working to avoid making so much disorder in his life. After all, the analytic discourse contributes to this, aiming at the iteration of jouissance for the subject articulating his demand. Thus the analytic process might direct the analysand to the displacement of his position towards his drive.


[1] Lacan J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX, Encore, edited by J.-A. Miller, trans. B. Fink, New York & London, Norton, 1999, p. 3.

[2] Lacan J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XVII, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, edited by J.-A. Miller, trans. R. Grigg, New York & London, Norton, 1991, p. 50.

[3] NLS Messager 24 – 2011/2012, Towards Tel Aviv, 10th NLS Congress, 16 & 17 June 2012, Reading a Symptom: http://ampblog2006.blogspot.com/2011/07/38-20112012-towards-tel-aviv-3-jacques.html

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