‘The problem is that desire is fulfilled’

| Allegra Passmann

Fitting for the week of Valentine, the DesignLab organized its first Lightbulb chat of this year, with the topic ‘Technology and Desire’. Guest speaker was Professor Ciano Aydin, the head of Philosophy Department, who mostly focused on Tinder.

Aydin started his talk with an example of a married couple, where the spark is gone. One is looking for a new lover and might even want a divorce, to get with the other person. Interestingly, this rarely happens and most people stick to their marriages.

Desire explained

Aydin interpreted this example with the concept of desire. The spouse was in the way and thus blocking the desire, and once you’re free to go and the desire is fulfilled, it loses its interest. ‘Often the problem is not that the desire remains, unfulfilled, but the problem is that desire is fulfilled,’ says Aydin.

He described the theory of Lacan, which states that there is a difference between the object of desire and the cause for desire, which is either lack or strangeness, and the difference between choosing and seeking. ‘Often we think we desire a person but actually we are missing something and don’t know what we want, which makes it interesting,’ says Aydin. ‘Besides that, nobody can completely control themselves. There will always be a part of the body that resists all the norms that you have, which makes desire easier to emerge.’

Blue pill and red pill

According to Aydin, who says to be neutral about dating apps, Tinder might not work. Because if the desire is fulfilled too fast, people lose their passion. It can also be seen as a post-modern era gift. As today, we are liberal, free and not shaped by traditions as much anymore as our ancestors were. The problem with that freedom is, according to Aydin, that we have difficulties choosing a partner. ‘It’s like a menu card in the restaurant when there are too many options. We feel overwhelmed.’

‘The connection to choosing and seeking can again be made here, as swiping is choosing out of the suggestions that Tinder gives you instead of seeking one person for longer,’ the Philosophy Professor explains. ‘So what if you get the choice between the blue pill and the red pill, but actually want another colour?’

Arranged marriages and algorithms

Aydin thinks that the problem of dating apps are the algorithms, because they are fed with past experiences and exclude the unexpected. ‘If we have only bad experiences with blondes, but our perfect partner is blonde, we might never find them’, he underlines. ‘This makes Tinder kind of the modern version of arranged marriages: what parents used to do, the algorithm does now.’

‘The partner should stay strange at least to a certain extent and the object of desire must not be fully appropriated. Loving someone requires to always have some distance. If you want to have access to everything it is rather a violence than love.’ According to Aydin, we should find a middle ground between the desire you can never fully control and traditions and also not relate too much on what we think we want. ‘If Cinderella doesn’t need this one shoe, she can just get another size.’