the Real of our desire

Žižek argues that “Reality” is a fantasy construction which enables us to mask the Real of our desire. Freud gives an account of a man who dreams that his dead son came to him to complain, “Can’t you see that I am burning?’ The father, Freud argues, is awoken by the overwhelming smell of burning. In other words, the outside stimulation (burning), which had been incorporated into the dream, had become too strong to be accommodated by the dream.

According to Žižek,

The Lacanian reading is directly opposed to this. The subject does not awake himself when the external irritation becomes to strong; the logic of his awakening is quite different. First he constructs a dream, a story which enables him to prolong his sleep, to avoid awakening into reality. But the thing that he encounters in the dream, the reality of his desire, the Lacanian Real – in our case, the reality of the child’s reproach to his father, ‘Can’t you see that I am burning?’, implying the father’s fundamental guilt – is more terrifying than so-called external reality itself, and that is why he awakens; to escape the Real of his desire, which announces itself in the terrifying dream. He escapes into so-called reality to be able to continue to sleep, to maintain his blindness, to elude awakening into the real of his desire.

Slavoj Žižek (1949-)