Article

Copyright © 2005 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi) Vol 4(2): 173–199 DOI: 10.1177/1473095205054604 www.sagepublications.com

THE PRODUCTION OF DESIROUS S PA C E : M E R E FA N TA S I E S O F T H E UTOPIAN CITY?
Michael Gunder
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Abstract The Lacanian perspective argues that planning, in its discourses and practices, is inherently ideological and the visions and ideals shaping the fantasies of the future city are often reflective of the homogenic desires of conflicting, but dominant, privileged minorities. Here the democratic process fails because the issues of contention are pre-shaped and ‘technically’ determined and the rationality deployed only allows a limited range of ‘sensible’, i.e. preframed, dreams of what constitutes the ‘good’ city. This article draws on both Lacan and Lefebvre to explore the dichotomy between seeking a common harmony of social vision while at the same time avoiding any exclusion of cultural and related difference in lived space. Keywords agonism, ethics, ideology, Lacan, Lefebvre

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Planning Theory 4(2)

Introduction
We need a constructive imagination to help us create the fictive world of our dreams, of dreams worth struggling for. (Friedmann, 2002: 103)

Recent articles and monographs in the theory and case study literature have explored planning from a Lacanian perspective (Allmendinger and Gunder, 2005; Gunder, 2003a, 2003b, 2005; Gunder and Hillier, 2004; Hillier, 2002, 2003; Hillier and Gunder, 2005). They posit that urban policy formulation and related planning processes are valued by society because they provide a mechanism for constructing and propagating shared public visions, or dreams, as to what constitutes a harmonious and secure future, at least for the built and related socio-economic environment (Gunder, 2003b). To express this perspective in a more conventional manner, planning might be said to be ‘the use of reason and understanding to reduce collective uncertainty about the future’ (Hoch, 1994: 15). Regardless of articulation, planning aids the illusion that these dreams are being achieved through the supplement of development assessment and related implementation processes (Hillier and Gunder, 2005). Yet, this policy process has a cost that this article wishes to explore. It does so in the hope that its arguments may influence the reader to consider the value of a Lacanian perspective. Specifically, the article will explore the implications of Lacan’s (1988a, 2002) thinking as to what resides outside of symbolic language and image, what he called the Real. With some help from Lefebvre’s (1991, 1996, 2003) later works on the urban problematic, the article will consider the implication that this Lacanian concept may have for reconsidering planning’s roles of social coordination and guidance in creating our future cities and regions. Both Lefebvre’s and the Lacanian perspective, as well as those of others, argue that planning is inherently ideological in its discourses and practices, so that the visions and ideals shaping the fantasies of the future city are often reflective of the homogenic desires of conflicting, but dominant, privileged minorities (Flyvbjerg, 1998a, 1998b; Gunder, 2003a, 2003b; Gunder and Mouat, 2002; Yiftachel, 1998, 2002). These are minorities with not just necessarily access to economic, but also social and cultural, capital (Howe and Langdon, 2002: 216–18). They may include networks of business, intellectual and cultural elites, as well as government functionaries, including policy planners, who jointly seek and shape a common vision as to what the ‘general interest’ should be (Jessop, 1998, 2000: 335). Fundamentally, in a Lacanian sense, all actors strive to achieve a vision that provides them with an illusion of security and harmony (Stavrakakis, 1999). This is accomplished for the dominant hegemonic bloc, or group(s), by first articulating that something is missing in the achievement of the ‘good’ city. The dominant bloc then imposes its particular desired solution as the resolution of this lack as if their dreams are universal throughout

who may actually constitute. functions ‘as a blunt Orwellian instrument’ in this process of hegemonic colonization that shapes the acceptable parameters of what should constitute the future ‘good’ city (Goonewardena and Rankin. Jessop. Rhetorical tropes claiming legitimacy of rationality. as is its resolution. i. perhaps less articulate or empowered. In formulating the Strategy issues of transport congestion. 2004: 131. The political universal is thus usually the exact opposite of what one might take it to be: not an abstraction from a set of particulars. McGuirk. ‘healthy’. Auckland’s (New Zealand) Regional Growth Forum. a lack of sustainability and perceived urban sprawl were addressed so as ‘to ensure that growth is accommodated in a way that meets the best interests of the inhabitants of the Auckland region’ (ARGF. 1999: 54).e. 2004: 134). is given technical support by their staffs. 2003b). academic or ‘popular’. For a hegemonic group to establish itself at the expense of others. 2004). their views are the public interest (Laclau. it needs to colonize this space in its own interests. Laclau and Mouffe. 2000. the ‘Chamber of Commerce and other business and development interests’ (Auckland Regional Growth Forum [ARGF]. Often this process is depoliticized because the identified lack is technically defined. . The Forum comprises one elected representative from each of the Region’s seven local councils and three from the Auckland Regional Council. i.. or options. Take. value neutrality. and is in partnership with ‘central government agencies’. planning policy formulation facilitated by the social constructs called democratic ‘civil society’ and private/public ‘partnerships’ of governance. for example. ‘competitive’. 2004. these desires are often at odds with those of other diverse. (Kay. expertise and science are often deployed to advance these hegemonic desires (Gunder. the majority of urban populations (Gunder. Sandercock. 1998. 2003. 2003b. 1985). Stahre. Lefebvre. of what constitutes the ‘sustainable’. preframed. 2001. Yet. The space of political universality is one of ideological struggle. Here the democratic process fails because the privileged issues of contention are pre-shaped by unquestioned cultural imperatives and ‘technically’ determined. Planning discourses and documentation legitimate prevailing tropes. but the manifestation of the express interests of a particular group. 2003: 151) In the contemporary situation. or perhaps ‘creative’ city as ‘good’ within the context of an increasingly globally competitive capitalist world (Hansen et al. 2004. as to what should constitute and how we should create the ‘good’ space as defined by the values of the prevailing bloc or hegemonic group (Gunder. 2003b). dreams.Gunder Production of desirous space 175 society. 1996. in aggregate. The rationality deployed in this ‘societal guidance’ only allows a limited range of ‘sensible’. Miraftab. The role of the Forum was first to develop and now implement a growth strategy for Auckland through to 2050. McGuirk. 2004.e. societal groups. 2004).

further.1 million residents’. 1996. such as Leonie Sandercock (2003. that an understanding of this Lacanian concept will make us better informed and effective planners. Auckland’s housing consumers. consistent with the ‘smart growth’ planning paradigm. this author suggests the Real is why our plans and dreams so often fail and. resides in our unconscious realms of affect and drive. at best. Nor is this type of critique only put forward from a Lacanian perspective (see Allmendinger and Gunder. That is. To help in the understanding of the Lacanian Real and its related implications for urban ideology and planning. rather it tends to represent the norm of what is perceived by many as ‘good’ planning process. 2003). Yet. are a utopian impossibility. 2003: . This registry of negative noumena resides beyond our abilities for symbolic articulation or even that of our conscious imagination and. in contrast to the arguments of multiculturalism put forward by postmodernist proponents. 2002) terms the Real. ‘interviews were conducted with representatives of 21 major development companies on issues of urban boundary expansion versus in-fill housing and urban intensification’ (Gunder. The Strategy appears to seek only what is best for them. the article will draw on the later writings of Henri Lefebvre (1991. 2000. imagination and the Real were a significant influence on Lefebvre’s thinking and his conceptualization of space and the urban problematic (Blum and Nast. In compiling the Strategy a ‘market perspective to this process was considered vital’ by the planners involved. this article hopes to demonstrate how Lacanian insight can provide new critical perspectives of understanding. The strategy is premised on urban containment and promoting compact urban environments through intensive nodal development along transit corridors. 2004). 2003a: 275–6). This article seeks to illustrate how Lacan and his adherents can lend further insight into understanding how this and similar mechanisms of hegemonic social coordination occur in our complex and largely globally connected societies. as well as to begin to lay potential openings. not just those of the hegemonic minority.1 The article will suggest that Lacan’s registries of the symbolic. to displace this hegemonic tendency for the imposition of one dominant set of transcendent ideals as to what constitutes the ‘good’ city and region. 2005). the only housing ‘market perspectives’ needing consideration appear to be those of its major commercial developers and land-bank property holders. this article will suggest that societal fantasies for a safe and secure ‘inclusive’ city premised on addressing the diverse desires of an entire population. The article will argue that this is a consequence of what Lacan (1988a. Hillier and Gunder. However. Gunder (2003a: 276) continued that there was no record of consultation or ‘similar meetings with representatives of the Region’s other 1. or scope. consequently. 1996.176 Planning Theory 4(2) 1999: 2). It seeks to explore how planning and its related actors formulate their particular perspectives and then implement their resolution as urban policies. Yet. This author suggests that this process of hegemonic imposition is not unique to Auckland. For the Forum.

The article will draw on the work of Lacan and his contemporary followers to illustrate the mechanisms at work in the shaping of our dominant ideological belief sets. After illustrating the similarities between some of Lacan and Lefebvre’s conceptual insights. 2003). which might constitute an approach to planning that is capable of accommodating conflict and emotion. Lacan’s (1989. This ethos attempts to transcend modernist conceptualizations of good and evil while going beyond postmodern nihilism to allow an opening for ‘new potentials’. 2003: 2). and deflating adverse ideological power. It will consider the role that enjoyment and fantasy play in addressing this contradiction under the prevalent cultural imperative of global capitalism. the subsequent section will then explore the dichotomy between that of seeking a common harmony of social vision while at the same time avoiding any constraint of cultural and related difference. but rather actively promotes a planning related politics beyond that of liberal civil society. and.Gunder Production of desirous space 177 229). both argued that western Cartesian thought had negated and denied the biological body residing in space as a valid repertory of non-formal knowledge outside of discourse. In response to this impossibility. 2000) in the political studies literature and recently proposed in the planning theory literature by Gunder (2003a). drawing on Freud. The latter part of this article will argue the impossibility of planning to consolidate the range of multiple different desires and conflicting ideological fantasies necessary to create what for this author would be the ‘good’ utopian city of vibrancy and diverse inclusion. This is a proposed ethos that acknowledges power and desire so that we may develop city changing methods that begin to open the possibilities for a ‘practice utopia. 2002) Freudian . 2002) and Lefebvre (1991: 407. This is a call for agonistic pluralism initially brought by Mouffe (1999. a city politics of possibility and hope’ (Sandercock. This is an agonistic ‘planning ethos we are yet to develop’ (Pløger. 1996. the role planning plays in this societal guidance. exposing. 1988b. 2004: 88). The similarities in Lacan’s and Lefebvre’s thought Lacan (1988a. 2001). This author suggests that Lacanian insight may provide understanding for such an approach as it provides an ethos for facilitating an agonistic planning process that has the potential to make possible not a ‘good’ city of allinclusive difference. but a mechanism to encourage the affable and productive confrontation of diverse difference within urban debate.2 The article will draw on aspects of their perspectives to provide an understanding of urban ideology and the role of planning in addressing and resolving issues of the urban problematic. how critical Lacanian insight can be an aid to transgressing. This is a proposed planning ethos predicated on affable but agonistic dis-sensus (Ziarek. the article will suggest that there is a requirement for a mode of planning that does not seek one dominant ‘consensus’. Hillier (2003) and Pløger (2004).

2003: 182–3) Or as Lacan (1994: 108) phrases it in regard to the drafting of pictures and diagrams that illustrate what is desired. . and it ‘is best understood as that which has not been symbolized. simplifies and illustrates what is wanted of the planned public. The technicians and specialists who ‘act’ are unaware that their so-called objective space is in fact ideologic and repressive. the planning map. Similarly. They are convinced they have captured it even though they carry out their plans and projects within a second-order abstraction. For Lefebvre (2003). misrepresents and overtly simplifies the complexity of social reality in built space and consequently fails. the unconscious of the urban. They’ve shifted from lived experience to the abstract. particularly without significant textual elaboration (Gunder and Hillier. 1995: 25). These designers and draftsmen move within a space of paper and ink. symbolic and the Real. Lacanian subjects are split between a conscious sense of self. projecting this abstraction back into lived experience . it abstracts. remains to be symbolized. building and neighborhoods. what is little said and even less written’. (Lefebvre. As Lefebvre (2003: 182–3) observed even before the implementation of GIS and three-dimensional cyber-space representations of urban environments: the urbanist who composes a block plan lookdown on their ‘objects’. . 2002) purports that the human subject conceives of the world and subjects within it via three inter-related registries. The Real . Only after this nearly complete reduction of the everyday do they return to the scale of lived experience. wanted. Yet. Lacan (1988a. or computer representation.178 Planning Theory 4(2) perspective of the unconscious was at odds with the Cartesian worldview of the rational cognitive actor. influenced by Freud. and their unconscious desires and drives generated by affect and trauma that fundamentally seek a repetition of the impossibility of the subject’s primordial state of maternal bliss. The Real will forever exist despite the comprehensiveness of the symbolic. immediate relations. the Cartesian rationalist worldview is exemplified by modernist planning and related urban policy and design specialists. 2004: 222). was at odds with the ideological consequences produced and reinforced by this instrumentalist Cartesian worldview that negated ‘daily life. or ought to be: ‘reality appears only as marginal’ and peripheral to the lines and points of focus to that which is desired and wanted of the Other. particularly the everyday materialized practices that constitute social reality in the built environment. For the planner. The Real ‘precedes language’. These are the imaginary. from above and afar. drawing on symbolic and imaginary knowledges of the world as to how they are expected to act. Planning’s instrumental rationalism negated all that was not readily capable of broad-brush quantification in social life. with the latter residing outside of image or signification. and it may perfectly well exist “alongside” and in spite of a speaker’s considerable linguistic capabilities’ (Fink. Lefebvre’s (1996: 108) Marxist perspective of everyday life. or even resists symbolization.

or void. ‘the instrumental space of social engineers and urban planners’ – the registry of Lacan’s symbolic. 48–9) the world and space itself are composed of a similar triple schema of the ‘perceived’. the real is the stumbling block on account of which reality does not fully coincide with itself’ (Zupancic. 1999b). 1996). but that of an “illusion” which “irrationally” persists against the ˇ ˇ pressure of reality. the trauma around which social reality is structured’ (Zizek. For Lefebvre. ‘lived space is an elusive space. . ‘It is an un-definable unthought outside of language. (Lefebvre. The first is the space that is seen. response of urban planners to this third abstract space of being is to negate it. generated and used – the registry of Lacan’s image(nary). imagination and signification. such as those signified by the label ‘aesthetics’. 2004: 190). where nothing can be said or defined and it resides as a logic of constitutive lack – a ‘traumatic kernel or surplus which escapes signification’ (Newman. 1999a: 79). its apparent scientificity. We can never say exactly what ‘is’ or what we desire comprehensively ‘ought to be’. ‘what emerges via distortions of the accurate representation of reality is the Real ˇ ˇ – that is. 2000: 174): The qualitative is worn down. The ‘ultimate experience of the Real is not that of “reality” which shatters illusions. Yet the ‘Real is not the Beyond of reality. urbanism reflects this overall situation and plays an active role in applying ideo-logic and political pressure. 2003a). Anything that cannot be quantified is eliminated. which resist clear articulation (Elden. The Real is why something is always lacking in our articulations. 2001: 166). [there is] no scope for political action . Similarly. which does not give way to “reality”’ (Zizek. The Real is why we cannot clearly articulate and define our ideals or specific qualitative states. for ‘there’s more there there’ (Merrifield. 2001: 147). amplifies it without fear and without reproach. so elusive in fact that thought and conception usually seek to appropriate it and dominate it’. but its own blind spot or disfunction – that is to say. The second is a space of symbolic knowledge and rationality. . 1999a: 78. The generalized terrorism of the quantifiable accentuates the efficiency of repressive space. and above all what constitutes ‘the good’ (Gunder. or symbolic. Here. The scientific. ‘conceived’ and ‘lived’ that can be historicized via dialectical terminology into three evolutional spatialities he calls ‘natural’. for Lefebvre (1991: 38–9. In this situation. 2003: 185–6) Lefebvre’s ‘lived space’ that lacks quantification should not be argued to . It just resides outside of the language and conscious fantasies that the symbolic and imaginary are capable of constituting. since the quantitative is never seriously questioned. but they cannot. For Lacan the Real ‘remains the same in all possible universes (of observaˇ ˇ tion)’ (Zizek.Gunder Production of desirous space 179 is a rift. The third space is the evolving qualitative space of ‘less formal and local knowledges’ of daily existence. ‘absolute’ and ‘abstract’ (Blum and Nast. 2003a: 296). all the more so because of its self-justifying nature (ideo-logic). an unattainable and un-definable void that we desire to fill – but cannot’ (Gunder. 2003: 80).

These are habits and techniques of the self that we just do in our daily habitus of lived space (Burkitt. the Real of the human subject is untouchable. 2002b: 185).3 Rather it perhaps comes close to what Lacan refers to as ˇ ˇ ‘knowledge in the real’ (Zizek. 2002: 281–2). this lack. yet. natural science can never achieve this absolute task (Verhaeghe. It is just not knowable as it resides in our unconscious. 2002: 125). or lack. Consider the following in relations to Lacan’s Real and the products it produces in space. is what Lacan calls the subject of science’ (Morel. While it can never fully contain the Lacanian Real. There always remains a lack or void in knowledge. 2002) Real that resides in the human subject and the material spatial world. yet is incapable of symbolization. this tombstone of the ‘world’ (‘Mundus est immundus’) is situated at the edges of what exists. To totally fill this void and create a complete body of knowledge is modern science’s ‘holy grail’. Howe and Langdon. it fails in its striving for complete articulation of the material world. Something always remains unsaid. 2000: 74). between the shadows and the . natural science seeks to suppress this boundary. 2003: 80). Applying social science to human subjects fails even more so than natural science in the attainment of complete knowledge. or passing time with a neighbour. It is ‘filtered. 2002). as though by a window’ that at best. to cover over this void induced by the Real. driving a car. Yet natural science is never complete knowledge. 1989: 183) – drives and sustains this gap or division between the subject and reality. This is a position not inconsistent with that of Lefebvre. between knowledge and the real. Yet the unknowable ‘Thing’ constituting the Real can only be articulated in the symbolic – language and text – which always fails to conceptualize this unexplainable void. 2002. The Real of the unconscious – ‘the real of the human subject which causes symptoms and discontent in civilization’ – is an entirely different unknowable Real to the noumenon of the material world (Loose. through psychoanalysis. This is where each subject’s desire for often ideal and unobtainable objects – drawn to them by what Lacan calls petit object a and then consequently ˇ ˇ shocked by exposure to the Real (Zizek. The human subject’s ‘Real is the intrinsic division of reality itself’ (Zupancic. the subject is lured and deluded into ideological illusion within the imagined and symbolic realms of daily life in social reality (Zupancic. 2000) in suggesting that Lacan’s conceptualization of the Real may well have influenced Lefebvre’s notion of ‘lived space’. can be traversed to give ‘a few degrees more freedom’ (Morel. Unlike that of the material world.180 Planning Theory 4(2) be Lacan’s (1998. 2000: 68). This world of images and signs. framed by fantasy. Consequently. Although this author follows Blum and Nast (1996. mobile and real. These are unsymbolic bodily knowledges of how to unconsciously do life’s many daily activities such as walking. by unsuccessfully attempting to cover over the Real with knowledge of the material world for ‘this open boundary. 2003: 80).

. the logic of urbanism. we constantly strive to construct new fantasies to cover over this lack. Fundamentally. submitting a mental and therefore abstract space for spatial practice . . 2003b). so that produced differences are supplanted in advance by differences which are induced – and reduced to signs. in the cracks. Social logics are located at different levels. there are cracks and . misrecognitions and misunderstandings (Zizek. 2005). but never quite succeed (Fink. Zizek. 2003a. 1999a). 2002). skirts or submerges problems. [yet] this is a fraudulent world. sooner ‘or later radical critique reveals the presence of an ideology in every model and possibly in “scientificity” itself’. of political space. particularly. Further.Gunder Production of desirous space light. including space itself. Something is always missing. 1998. . Lacan (2002) points out that we cannot even fully know or articulate our own desires. 1991: 389) 181 Both Lacan and Lefebvre would agree that science and scientific method fails in its ability to articulate the qualitative components of everyday human life. We attempt to overcome this void through acquiring and applying knowledge. For. Hence. Between the real and unreal. let alone understand the desires of the Other. 1997). 1999. Lacan. if it ever existed. . Differences are replaced by differential signs. between the conceived (abstraction) and the perceived (the readable/visible). planning. (Lefebvre. it also signifies space. Always in the interstices. as it relates to wants and needs and. While occupying space. Between directly lived experience and thought . especially. It is the aggregate of these Others that constitutes society and our social reality. misunderstanding and ideological constructs of contradicting social logics. and housing clash and sometimes break apart when they come into contact . Yet it is the desire of an Other that we vitally seek and wish to please in our fundamental unconscious drive to return to our original desire for primordial maternal completeness (Dor. . . the Lacanian position goes somewhat further than Lefebvre in suggesting that in attempting to address this unknowable Real we all construct ideological fantasies to paper over this lack of ability to articulate ˇ ˇ and know this noumenon (Stavrakakis.e. The world of signs passes itself off as a true world . we lost as we gained our place in culture and the symbolic world (Hillier and Gunder. desire (Gunder. Lacanian theory argues that our very social reality. The world of images and signs exercises a fascination. . not right. and social interaction is constituted and composed of ideological fantasy ˇ ˇ constructs. . 1998. Further. 1998). Lacan. and diverts attention from the ‘real’ – i. Yet this ‘big Other’ is constituted on misrecognition. This is in Lacanian jargon: the ‘big Other’. lacking. indeed the most deceptive of all worlds . . As Lefebvre (2003) acknowledges: The logic of space subjected to the limitations of growth. as a human discipline of governmentality. This is a sense of safety and security that. plays a significant role in shaping the creation of this social reality of misrecognition and desire. from the possible. as even Lefebvre (2003: 67) asserts. . 2004.

not contest! Desire as driven and experienced in the loss or gaining of enjoyment (jouisˇ ˇ sance) is central to Lacanian theory (Blum and Nast. 2003: 54). Zizek. (Lefebvre. In this discourse who needs democratic participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO). 2000: 361). 1999a). Globalization is perceived as not requiring democratic legitimization due to its universality and complexity ˇ ˇ (Zizek and Daly. 1989: 33). 2004b: 59)! As a consequence. ideology is not ‘an illusion masking the real state of things but that of an (unconscious) fantasy structuring our social reality itself’ so that our ideological beliefs are ˇ ˇ materialized in all our social actions within society (Zizek. ‘Lefebvre describes capitalist globalization as an intensely contradictory integration. ‘“impartial” bodies exempt from democratic control’. International Monetary Fund (IMF) or other global economic steering organizations. expressed in the seeking of enjoyment via fulfilling our wants and needs against the constraint of finite resources. 2004: 146–52). polarisation and redifferentiation of super-imposed social spaces’ (Brenner. constitutes and underwrites the now dominant worldview. of the cornucopia of global capitalism. provided one can ˇ ˇ seek to achieve satisfaction and enjoyment (Zizek. 2003: 86) The following section will suggest that this desire. this imperative to enjoy and partake in the mistaken notion of a global cornucopia manifests itself in symptoms of pernicious planning processes and ideological outcomes at the national and local levels. It is the only game ˇ ˇ remaining in town (Zizek and Daly. You will enjoy. or fantasy. 1989. This is a global fantasy that negates the role of democratic participation and regulation in its competitive worldwide field of play. 2000: 199. 2000. Since Lefebvre’s (1991) consideration of the urban problematic in relationship to that of the world market. McGuirk. The pressure of the Real is sensed and expressed as an object or concept that has the effect of a transcendental illumination or incarnation of impossible jouissance that is utterly . fragmentation. Desire insinuates itself through these fissures. 2004: 146–52).182 Planning Theory 4(2) crevices between them. 2004). Contrary to the classical definition of ideology where illusion is but distorted knowledge. Jouissance is what illustrates any object standing between the Real and ourselves so that that object can catch our interest and ‘delude us with its seemingly compelling significance and impose its ideological imperatives upon us’ (Kay. for Lacan. Something catches our interest as a significant political or related master signifier of ideological belief and identification when it approaches what Lacan (1992) calls ‘the Thing’ that acts as a pressure point of the Real against the imaginary/symbolic registries. the seeking of urban and/or regional competitiveness under globalization has become a dominant cultural imperative (Jessop.

This is the fundamental mode of contemporary obedience to authority. in contrast to its tradition of socialism.4 or social interactions. Hence. it overwhelms. especially in the situation of the Master’s injunction of ‘No!’ in the emerging early phase of Calvinistic repressive capitalism. This is taken further by the barely challenged international hegemonic discourse of global capitalization and the fantasies it induces in externally structuring the nation state’s very enjoyment (Stavrakakis. (McGowan. or lack. As McGowan (2004) observes: we trust fully in the staying power of global capitalism. 2003a. 1993: 202). we pledge our allegiance to it. Lacan (2004: 111) contends that surplusvalue and surplus-enjoyment are historically equivalent. which once seemed to be just around the corner. 2004: 193) . the desire for a particular solution. 2004: 3). In contrast to the historical authority and rationality of the Master’s repressive command. yet cannot be fully envisaged due to its ˇ ˇ intensity. has placed ‘economic globalisation’ as ‘the most significant factor in shaping Labour Party thinking since the early 1990s’ (Allmendinger. 2004. say. 2005. Zizek. or so we think. 2004b. 2005) with the Marxian theory of commodification and surplus-value via Lacan’s concept of surplus-enjoyment (plus-de-jouir). McGowan. become ‘agency expressing a logic of governmentality and expertise (including that of planning) that does not prohibit enjoyment. 2003: 326). not the Master’s injunction. 2003a: ˇ ˇ 63. Jouissance is one of the four structuring elements of social discourse. have become unimaginable today. Even the ruling British Labour government. 1989: 132). Zupancic (2004) associates Lacan’s (2004) theory of the Four Discourses (see Gunder. 2004. hence Zizek’s (1989) title: The Sublime Object of Ideology. Hillier and Gunder. Now knowledge and technology. Zupancic. In this regard. 2004b: 61). ˇ ˇ that addresses a known problem. links and relationships. Global capitalism seems an unsurpassable horizon simply because we have not properly recognized our own investment in sustaining it. late capitalism is structured under a rationality of the university or bureaucracy. It is sublime. and we put our trust in it. here to stay. where synchronic language meets diachronic speech to evoke an effect on the Other (Lacan. in the urban fabric (Zizek. ‘a nation exists only as long as its specific enjoyment continues to be materialised in a set of social practices and submitted ˇ ˇ through national myths [or fantasies] that structure these practices’ (Zizek. but rather channels jouissance in ways that produces a “bio-politics” (after Foucault) of an alienated subject that has no option.Gunder Production of desirous space 183 compelling. We see it as unsurpassable because we don’t want to lose it – and the imaginary satisfaction that it provides. The universe of global capitalism is. but to enjoy and be satisfied’ (Hillier and Gunder. The alternatives. Only by coming to understand this obedience to the dictates of global capitalism as obedience can we hope to break out of it. ˇ ˇ Zizek. 2004). with its ‘Third Way’. or even utopian ideal. and we best not do anything to risk our status within it.

it implies the fetishism of satisfaction. or more accurately a rhetoric. In response to the dominant ‘logic’ of global competitiveness. or bloc. or competitiveness. It is a strange way of interpreting happiness. . competitive. it implies the fetishism of space. this was a capitalism where surplus-value was synonymous with surplus-enjoyment supporting the injunction: ‘you must enjoy!’. The science of the urban phenomenon cannot respond to these demands without the risk of validating external restrictions imposed by ideology and power. Urbanism is doubly fetishistic. that a lack of a particular defined type of enjoyment. This is predicated on a logic. and therefore their needs must be understood and catered to. the role of planning is to facilitate enjoyment by sustainably providing the correct space – healthy. 2004b: 113). fit and attractive – where enjoyment can be effectively materialized and maximized under the imperative of global capitalism. McGuirk. ‘Post-democracy is founded on an attempt to exclude the political awareness of lack and negativity from the political domain. Consequently: urbanism is nothing more than an ideology that claims to be either ‘art’ or ‘technology’ or ‘science’. First. Planners.184 Planning Theory 4(2) Illusion resides under this global fantasy of capital where ‘the basic feature of’ this dominant cultural imperative ‘no longer operates on the level of ideals and identifications. 2005. with an objective to remove existing or potential urban blight. The place engenders the thing and the good place engenders good things. 2003a: 59). Even in Lefebvre’s day. but directly on the level of regulating jouissance’ ˇ ˇ (Zizek. as a form of will tending towards efficiency. To order them to be happy. Of course. ‘dis-ease’ and dysfunction detracting from local enjoyment and global competitiveness (Gunder. harbours things unsaid: which it covers. Space is creation. Whoever creates space creates whatever it is that fills space. leading to a political order which retains the token institutions of liberal democracy but neutralizes the centrality of political antagonism’ (Stavrakakis. depending on the context. 2003: 159) This is exacerbated further in the current milieu of consumerist post-democracy personified by the master signifier: global capitalism. For what? To make people happy. 2004). Second. shape. 2004). and users want solutions. This is constructed under the logics and knowledges of university discourses (see Gunder. this defines what is blighted and dysfunctional and in need of planning remedy. In turn. is inherently unhealthy for the aggregate social body. This ideology pretends to be straightforward. (Lefebvre. programmers. unchanged . 2003: 141) . What about vested interests? They must be satisfied. the technocrats and experts including planners. . yet it obfuscates. the hegemonic network. In this light. initially shapes the debate as to what constitutes desired enjoyment and what is lacking in urban competitiveness. contextualize and implement public policy in the interest of the dominant hegemonic bloc. which it contains. (Lefebvre.

2003b).Gunder Production of desirous space 185 Yet this lack and its resolution are more often technical in nature. The achievements of traditional utopian goals were ones of freedom to act against the repression of the negative injunction. Instead. but instead must be . the worst thing that can happen is for us to get what we ‘officially’ desire. a certain particularity which cannot be assimilated. The bio-politics of contemporary planning are predicated on enjoyment – you will enjoy! – not the prior duality of repression/freedom of the Weberian capitalist master’s injunction: ‘No you cannot do that!’. 2004b: 177). it is the prohibition as such which elevates ˇ ˇ a common everyday object into an object of desire (Zizek. In our daily lives. rather than political. safe and assured happy future. not to mention. ‘the fantasy of a utopian harmonious social world can only be sustained if all the persisting disorders can be attributed to an alien intruder . Happiness is thus hypocritical: ˇ ˇ it is the happiness dreaming about things we do not really want. rather than as an impossible reality that actually sates all desires (Gunder. while. This is a fantasy predicated on an obedience to a shallow consumptive quantitative imperative to be materially happy. even if it can only deliver this as a fantasy-scenario of material happiness. 2004b: 174). which often occurs at the expense of our actual qualitative psychic desires. . As a consequence. It is the ‘little sin’ that gives the most pleasure. achieving the stakeholders’ specific interests. Happiness is not a class of truth. Further. In our contemporary global society the ‘moral law’ is no longer the imperative that acts as a limitation. in its injunction for us to enjoy becomes ‘the ultimate “transgression”’ should one wish to ˇ ˇ pursue a life of moderation (Zizek. so that. Material happiness for all but that evil other Lacanian theory suggests that a subject’s jouissance is given freest rein when an act of desire contains a dimension of transgression. 2002a: 59–60) Planning continues to succeed because it underpins the primal desire of most subjects in society for a conflict-free. but one of an ontological class of being where: ‘happiness’ relies on the subject’s inability or unreadiness fully to confront the consequences of its desire: the price of happiness is that the subject remains stuck in the inconsistency of its desires. . the technocrats in partnership with their ‘dominant stakeholders’ can ensure the impression of happiness for the many. stopping us from enjoying too much. the now dominant moral Law itself. the cultural imperative. we (pretend to) desire things which we do not really desire. ultimately. (Zizek. Contemporary injunctions are to enjoy – or at least to sustain our happiness – regardless of what we actually desire. 2003a.

and simply to encompass them both within the scope of the same notion amounts to the same obscenity as equating starvation with dieting. to invest all the more completely in old ones’ (Bracher. 2004a: 158–9).e.‘as part of the apparatus of the modern state. Zizek (2004b: 86) continues: in any society ‘there is a multitude within the system and a multitude of those excluded. as well as economic. 2004b: 86). i. This is well documented by Flyvbjerg (1998a) where the Aalborg Chamber of Commerce controlled the editorial content of the local newspaper.’ It is continually this Other that permits the delusion of harmony in our identity defining groups and for this to transpire we require an Other. Planning then sets out to remedy this lack or deficiency. of course. the Evil force that stole our precious jouissance’ and stopped the fantasy from achieving its utopian vision (Stavrakakis. Even our ‘“complex” contemporary societies rely on the basic divide ˇ ˇ ˇ ˇ between included and excluded’ (Zizek. As a consequence. so-called. has its own powers for good and evil’ (Sandercock. This is especially so as planning identifies. and media of information dissemination are central to this process. Effective deployment of rhetorical tropes can seduce subjects ‘to relinquish previous desires (including identifications and embrace new ones) – or alternatively. This argument is central to that of Chomsky’s (2003) multinational corporate steering of mass media content in the. external to the group for the group to define itself. makes its own imprint. our media are not ideologically neutral. what constitutes an urban pathology that detracts from what is desirous of the globally competitive city. Here each signifier was linked to associations in the public’s unconscious that induced a conscious expression of desire for a particular set of values or specific consequential actions.186 Planning Theory 4(2) eliminated’ (Stavrakakis. In this light. Difference is essential to complete our fantasy of harmony. does anyone wish to live in a . For example. This is the stranger. planning. 1997: 5). or gap. ‘free’ press. but only by providing the sacrificial Other on which we can blame the disappointment ˇ ˇ of the fantasy to deliver (Zizek. Of course. Civil society. or at least names and legitimizes. 2004: 134). capital. 2003a: 58). to allocate a degree of difference to an Other to conceptualize the group identification as who we are not and on this Other we can attribute ˇ ˇ all the signs of disharmony that jeopardize our shared fantasy (Zizek. 1993: 51–2). 1999: 108). they do not alienate their corporate clients who provide their majority of income and profits via their advertising payments. This is where the mass media are free to publish almost anything. the Other that is not us that can act as the ‘“scapegoat” to be stigmatised as the one who is blamed for our lack. Gunder (2003b) documented how planning actors and their affiliated partners gained public agreement via the rhetorical use of culturally shared ‘master signifiers’ and their related metonymies and metaphors. We require a disparity. provided. the public stage. media access for putting forth particular tropes of desire constitutes a central component of social.

2001: 66). but technical ‘allows the myths of objectivity.Gunder Production of desirous space 187 city that is losing enjoyment to other locations because it lacks the fitness to compete? In Lacan. ‘Here. as elsewhere. the construction of reality is continuous with the field of desire. However. Lefebvre argues that quantitative expertise including the technology of urban planning is largely a myth. or realrationalität as Flyvbjerg (1998a) calls it. for example. . Lefebvre suggests that planning is based on a strategy of mixing scientificity and rationality with ideology. changing the force field in which we operate’. the fantasy of what things are like’ (Dean. an excrescence grafted onto real. 1999: 62–3) This is where. Sandercock (2004: 134) continues: planning ‘helps to redefine political debate. . (Elden. but that they are precisely the opposite. particularly for those lacking in sufficient capital to offset adversity. from a Lacanian outlook. Desire and reality are intimately connected . 2004: 134). but fragmentary. This is because planning administrators: and bad administrators at that. and thereby fosters a certain delusion about planning practice’ (Sandercock. The belief that planning is not political. In other words. by accepting rationalization as the means to fulfil a desire for completeness – via the utilization of falsifying words – ‘man does not adapt himself to reality. a large part of Lefebvre’s criticism [of planners] is not that technocrats are technocrats. 2004: 145) Social reality can only exist in the symbolic and imaginary registries as it is composed. and technical reason to persist. they have the ability to persuade the people as a whole that because these are technological decisions they should be accepted. The nature of their link can only be revealed in fantasy . In particular. rarely use much actual technology. exists between the everyday activities of social life and the held universal ideals or values of what ought to be. Ideological fantasies as to what constitutes an enjoyable and satisfying city are deployed to hide the dysfunctions and unpredictabilities that are ubiquitous throughout all social spheres. is an ideology that operates under the cover of this myth of technology. 2003: 166). scientificity is an ideology. that is constructed. 2001: 627). It has to be introduced through a fantasmatic social construction. value neutrality. Rationalization. when harmony is not present it has to be somehow introduced in order for our reality to be coherent. Flyvbjerg (1998a) illustrates this well in his exposé of the Aalborg Chamber . (Stavrakakis. as a ‘result of a certain historically specific ˇ ˇ set of discursive practices and power mechanisms’ (Zizek. knowledge’ (Lefebvre. . producing new sources of power and legitimacy. . 1997: 114). Social reality ‘is sustained by the “as if”. Technology should be put to the service of everyday life. he adapts reality to himself’ (Roudinesco. even if it is not so. in social reality. of social life rather than being precisely the condition of its suppression and control. Urbanism.

by themselves. regional and national policies supporting Sydney’s global competitiveness. 1998a). produced the weaker argument. yet failed to have direct consultation with the Region’s actual residents (ARGF. 1999: 110). Planning is one such instrument that shapes and justifies the governing ideals of utopian desire and in this ‘sphere. In contrast. This is via assertions of unquestionable ‘truth’. 1999. Here this grouping of dominant business people is given hegemonic voice to determine what constitutes acceptable transportation modes and spatial development in Aalborg’s town centre. Planners and their governance forum of dominant stakeholders appeared to inherently know what is in the best interests of their region’s residents. 2003a). we indulge in the notion of society as an organic whole. these desires belong to those who have been imposed on. practices and language put forward by their ideological supporters. a Lacanian line of reasoning about knowledge and truth indicates that the constituting components of these induced fantasies of truth and rationality are mediated on the wants and needs of actors with the capacity to inflict their desires and wants on the Other and. 1998: 41). Moreover. which are often supported and empowered by selected ‘distorted’ knowledge. 1997: 6). Planning as agonistic ethics Notwithstanding the ‘full rendering of the antagonisms which traverse our society. The subtle and not so subtle application of power defines truth. employed professional experts and controlled media. if at all. In this example the planner’s technical facts. It appeared to be of little consequence that these policies induced adverse effects on the rest of the country. . not to mention many of Sydney’s residents.188 Planning Theory 4(2) of Commerce’s intervention in that city’s planning process. in Sydney. reason and rationality and this particularly comprises the deployment of power in our planning and related practices (Flyvbjerg. This was perhaps because the dissemination of these facts and their implications for planning action were ineffectively articulated to the public. and “honorable” inclinations of the subject’ (Zupancic. kept ˇ ˇ together by forces of solidarity and co-operation’ (Zizek. the Auckland case cited in the introduction illustrates how the planners actively consulted the dominant commercial stakeholders in developing their growth strategy. spontaneous. Gunder. via the local information media controlled by the Chamber of Commerce. the fantasmatic ideal of harmony is dominant’ (Stavrakakis. McGuirk (2004) documented how planners actively participated in and facilitated the dominant network of actors successfully pushing for a series of local. Not dissimilarly. as if. in this light traditional Kantian and related enlightenment ‘ethics is nothing more than a convenient tool for any ideology that tries to pass off its own commandments as authentic. Further.

trans-strategic intervention ˇ ˇ which redefines the rules and contours of the existing order’ (Zizek.’ This ‘beyond good or evil’ does not have to lead to postmodern nihilism. precedence. 2000. is the constellation of events in which the subject frees herself from the symbolic law (“freedom”). It is the space. or other actor. where through acknowledgement of this Real that we cannot know or articulate we can establish new ‘truths’ in relationship to the ‘good’ (Stavrakakis. makes the ethical decision to recommend an action or permission that is contrary to existing regulations. As Zupancic (2003: 77) observes. From the Lacanian perspective of the ethics of the Real. . 2003: 78). rather Lacan lays a groundwork for an ethics of the Real. The ethical ‘act is an “excessive”. even if this requires the agent to act against what he/she thinks society expects of that actor. or cultural imperatives. Lacan’s (1992) theorizing may provide an alternative way to develop new values beyond those already constituted by society as traditional morals of good or evil shaping acceptable behaviours. scene. The moral law does not follow ˇ ˇ the Good – it generates a new shape of what counts as ‘Good’. 2003).) necessity.5 makes possible a new good. beyond that of mere technically produced materialist satisfaction. perhaps simply driven by strong feelings. created when the planner. a new potential. 2001: 170) This is a transgression that introduces new spaces for what can be considered ‘good’ and hence a wider space for jouissance. economic . or “stage” that enables us to value something that is situated beyond the reality principle. This is perhaps because somehow for the planner. a key question becomes: how can a credible planner. . This is through a mechanism of ethical sublimation where we create ‘a certain space. or other . but redefines what is a legal norm. 2004: 230). (Zizek. one could even claim that it constitutes the highest form of ideology. Of course. this ‘reality principle itself is ideologically mediated. 2004b: 81). ‘The ethical. Zupancic. professional expectations. Traditional ethics is predicated on a reality principle as to what is possible without transgression in social reality. commits herself to an act (“agency”). Viewed from this perspective. does not simply violate the legal norm. then.Gunder Production of desirous space 189 In contrast to traditional ethics. This act of transcending the reality principle. as well as beyond the principle of common good’ (Zupancic. 2003b. Kant’s categorical imperative must be rethought itself as purely transgressive: the ethical act proper is a transgression of the legal norm – a transgression which. in contrast to a simple criminal violation. or stage. it changes the rules as to what is possible (Gunder and Hillier. 2003: 109). and being true to the actor’s desires. and thereby makes it possible for the law to be rethought’ (Kay. the ideology that presents itself as empirical factor or (biological. the ‘correct’ and expected action is perceived as not being the right thing to do. to make the sensed wrong into a rightness is the ethically correct task.

they are attempting to do so in a manner that does not simply impose a new intransigent set of ideals to replace our late-modern cultural imperatives.’ Perhaps this feminine jouissance may be more appropriate to politicize the needs and wants of lived space. regardless of effect and affect! This author suggests that to change social reality. 2004) and researchers in other disciplines (e. Yet. Mouffe. to begin to question and where necessary traverse our norms and laws. Pløger. calls for a return to agonism that reawakens the political awareness of lack and negativity in place of the technical injunction: you will enjoy! This permits a space for an inclusive acceptance of strife or agonism that does not exclude the Others’ voice attempting to articulate their desires and wants in response to the ‘irreducibility of the Real’ (Stavrakakis. Of course. 2004b: 92). from antagonisms subordinated to differences to ˇ ˇ the predominant role of antagonism’ as pure agonism (Zizek. . . Rather this re-politicization of the planning problematic from that of the technical. but rather to encourage diverse opportunities for multiple opening in which imminence may continually occur (after Deleuze). In this regard. Gunder and Hillier. Thrift. while avoiding the imperative of idealism. or void. Stavrakakis. Further. i. that are. Yet. how can one effectively and reasonably mobilize such an ethics of the Real in everyday life when it is so contrary to the consensual instrumental rationality of the modern project and its ready-made solutions. this discourse also may fall into the trap leading to transcendental idealism. 1999. 2004a. 2004b) are currently attempting to address these complex issues that essentially require new insight and perhaps even profound change in our very relationships towards social reality. the day they can be realized in actual conscious life’ (Merrifield. 2004. 2003b: 331). Stavrakakis (2003b: 332) reminds us that in Lacan’s later teachings he spoke of another form ‘of jouissance – female or feminine jouissance – which values this lack per se as something that entails a different kind of enjoyment. Coherent and implementable means to achieve this desired state are yet to emerge as new knowledges and practices. to do so would require a politics . In Lefebvre’s city ‘unconscious desires and passions lay dormant. in our knowledge and practices and then presenting a hegemonic solution that must be implemented. dormant beneath the surface of the real. waiting for . 2000.190 Planning Theory 4(2) actor. solution is one that values Lacan’s Real and Lefebvre’s lived space by making the ‘key “jump from quantity to quality”. . this author suggests that mere awareness and articulation of the impossible implications that the Lacanian Real has on traditional rationality are perhaps one of many points of commencement. a process of identifying a lack. if they can ever do so. rather than continuing to fill the lack generating the urban problematic and produce a largely phallic enjoyment.g. . itself.g.e. transcend the accepted norms and expectations of a society to create a new space for a new concept of ‘good’? Further. within the surreal . 2000: 178). 2003a. arguably planning’s purpose and foundations? Planning theorists (e. quantified.

To achieve such a state requires planning ‘to find ways of working with agonism without automatically recurring to procedures. Our current dominating fantasy of harmony is sustained by the illusion of continued consumer abundance produced and brought by the cornucopia of global capitalism. 1998b: 229). This suggests an overt democratic planning process. This is in contrast to the existing social reality. So perhaps must be our desires. this article calls for a planning ethos that encourages diverse groups within cities and regions to actively contest their perspectives and desires without threat of exclusion. where political processes. when of course this is but an ideological foil that excludes in the name of a ‘general interest’ defined by a privileged few and legitimized by technocratic ‘reason’.Gunder Production of desirous space 191 that acknowledges the impossibility of the Lacanian Real. In contrast. Rather than contestant cities and regions competing globally under one cultural imperative to attract and retain finite capital and resources via one ‘logic’ and vision. not tacitly hegemonic in its privileging of specific groups with access to power and technocratic justification that is constituted under a logic implicitly ˇ ˇ desiring social order (Critchley. 2003a: 61). Of course. This requires a planning ethos predicated on a central awareness of the irreducible Real. This is an understanding that any forced resolution always excludes a remainder. the parameters of what ˇ ˇ appears to be “possible” in the existing social universe’ (Zizek. 2004: 87). this remainder will continue to have unconscious effect in terms of what drives our materialized actions. for they can never be sated. In contrast to the notion that what is meant by an utopia is an imagined ‘ideal society. appear to strive for public participation culminating in an harmonious public consensus. 2004b: 95). such as planning. what characterizes utopia is literally the construction of a u-topic space. what cannot be articulated or perceived. representativity. at least aspects of Lefebvre’s ‘lived space’ of the qualitative to be both visible and articulated in conscious life. 2004b: 123). . representative of a society that is explicitly and overtly hegemonic for all participants. cited in Zizek. resources and global carrying capacities are axiomatically finite. This proposed utopia is one that may permit. voting. This enjoyment of global capitalism ‘constitutes a (partial) reality with hegemonic appeal. a strong society ‘places conflict and power at its centre’ by guaranteeing the very ‘existence of conflict’ (Flyvbjerg. at least for the first world. a social space outside the existing parameters. forced consensus or compromises’ that inherently exclude (Pløger. a horizon sustained by the hegemony of an administration of desire with seemingly unlimited resources’ (Stavrakakis. Further.

Habermas’ last two validity claims of truthfulness to our desires and the need to act in regard of what our unconscious feeling says is rightness. 2003). Yet. or partnerships. As Jameson (2003: 37–8) observes. which eventually created the Habermasian product of communicative rationality. This is a rationality that sought as its seldom if ever achieved ideal. augmented with some of Lefebvre’s urban insights. This article’s application of Lacan. 1979: 3). including space and social interaction. should be given due regard through our discourses. we owe to . of dominant actors. not externalize them to ‘larger cultural practices and technologies’ so that hegemonic networks. 2003: 8). produce valid arguments for a psychoanalytically derived philosophy of reality and ideology ‘capable of theorizing the ways our deepest commitments bind us to practices of domination’ (Dean.192 Planning Theory 4(2) Traversing our fundamental fantasy for harmony: a start. truth. misrecognitions and misunderstandings (see Hillier. this author would agree with Habermas’ call for the supremacy of discourse over mere technical reason. Lacan’s theorizing suggests a much more fundamental contextualization of urban ideology based on the fantasies we construct to paper over the lack induced by the Real. such as Stavrakakis. and rightness’ constituting a basis for consensually agreement as to how we should act (Habermas. even if this sense is perhaps not readily justifiable with symbolic knowledge and reasoned argument. Zizek or Zupancic. in particular. Revealing and transversing the ideological constructs that shape and structure our social reality is inadequate in itself as a mere academic critical exercise of knowledge production. This author argues that we must radically challenge our underlying beliefs for ourselves. Yet. not a conclusion! ˇ ˇ Lacan and his followers. not to mention the impossibility of absolute truth. The latter is the School. 2001: 628). can do our believing and desiring for us through planning and related diverse agencies of social guidance (Dean. including intellectuals and bureaucratic professionals. This is a perspective that situates our very social reality. 2001: 627). In contrast to Habermas’ validity claims of truth and comprehensiveness. gives us a combination of Freudian and Marxist thought that is considerably at odds to that conjured up by the Frankfurt School’s vision of society as ‘a liberated collective culture’ with little space for the individual histories of unique subjects (Jameson. this is an ideal of undistorted speech that is an impossibility because of the Lacanian Real and the incompleteness it always induces in language. drawing on Marx and Freud. truthfulness. as Hillier (2003) illustrates. and. to produce undistorted (ideologically free) speech acts ‘based on recognition of the corresponding validity claims of comprehensiveness. or project. To do so we must traverse our fundamental fantasies that seek harmony and security. as principally constituted and composed of ideological fantasy constructs.

so that ‘the individual subject invents a “lived” relationship with collective systems. 2003a: 62). This author does not encourage physical conflict. Drawing on Althusser. and deflating their ideological power. but rather actively promotes a planning related politics beyond that of traditional liberal civil pluralism. or creation. exposing. 2005). In particular. Here. mitigation or elimination of agonism and strife as an unquestioned objective of ‘good’ and hence effective planning practice.’ This is a symbolic. relationship of practices and rituals (Krips. This is an Other that may constitute the majority of populations within our cities and regions. Jameson (2003: 37–8) continues that ideology is ‘the “representation” of the Imaginary relationships of individuals to their Real conditions of existence’. 2003: 149). and the illusions we generate about them and ourselves. it allows us to confront negativity and difference by allowing us to adopt ‘an ethical position beyond the fantasy of harmony’ (Stavrakakis. but rather on an understanding that there is an outside to knowledge that we can never know or express. a passionate planning that cares about the Other and values and encourages constructive agonism may facilitate totally new . anarchy and disharmony. This work demonstrates the impossibility of planning to consolidate the range of multiple different desires and conflicting ideological fantasies necessary to create what for this author would be the ‘good’ utopian city of vibrancy and diverse inclusion. Further. It is the aggregate of these Others. materialized. of the Others’ diverse liveable spaces. This article proposes a planning ethos predicated on affable but agonistic dis-sensus that can confront and even transgress dominant norms and traditions to present new potentials for social reality and our cities and regions. The text illustrated the mechanisms at work in shaping our dominant ideological beliefs and how critical Lacanian insight can be an aid to transgressing. This critique considered the role that enjoyment and fantasy play in the dominant discourse of global capitalism.Gunder Production of desirous space 193 Lacan ‘the first new and as yet insufficiently developed concept of the nature of ideology since Marx’. Accepting and even privileging conflicting positions and the contesting of multiple voices without forcing agreement or false consensus may allow the enhanced potential for the valuing. Indeed. So we construct and share illusions and fantasies – ideologies – that we are somehow achieving this impossible task. The text concludes that an acceptance of the Lacanian Real requires a much different mode of planning that does not seek one dominant technical ‘consensus’. Lacan’s psychoanalytical derived ethics of the Real allows us a perspective to develop a radical agonistic planning process predicated not on symbolic knowledge that quantifies and totalizes. it is the desire of this Other that we fundamentally seek and wish to please as we constantly strive to return to our idealized primordial desire for infant maternal security and contentment (Hillier and Gunder. Rather he asks the reader to stop privileging the avoidance. that constitutes the social reality that is our lived space.

politics. including those of Doctor Lacan whom he accused of performing with stunning virtuosity the formalization of language and of detaching this form from any support in the movement of the real’ (Lefebvre. McCann. or even planning. Of course. for Lacan. of the Real may be one potential step eventually leading towards the impossible utopia of a truly inclusive society that values the Other. which values the qualitative and conflicting. it will also open up a whole new range of issues to do with power. Lefebvre (1991) is critical of Lacan’s two-dimensional delusional representation of the body (in the mirror) and landscape vistas of the world (as a picture) where in fact space and its objects are three-dimensional (Blum and Nast. morality and ethical justice. and to the very constructive and well reasoned comments of the anonymous referees. imagined and (often overlooked) everyday space (Benko and Strohmayer. 1997. For just continuing to strive for modernist consensus inherently will persist in failing to produce the ‘good’ city of inclusive desired space for all. . Notes 1. The remaining errors in thought and omissions in this article are fully the fault of the author. 2. Soja. Acknowledgement As always. argument. In addition. may well require us to not privilege the hegemonic articulation of dominant blocs or networks even when these may appear to us as the best rational. Lefebvre (1991: 35–6) disavowed Lacan’s privileging of language over that of space. 1996: 17). 2003) particular value to this article was his exposure of urban ideology drawing partially on what this author suggests are some of Lacan’s conceptual insights. my thanks go to Jean Hillier. the period and space of what Eagleton (2003) called the golden age of high theory. While Lacan’s structuralist inspired psychoanalysis was largely at odds with Lefebvre’s Marxist phenomenology.194 Planning Theory 4(2) unforeseen or even impossible potentials and possibilities for all Others. Dear. Lefebvre’s representations of space have been deployed extensively in the geographical and related planning literature to define alternative conceptualizations of conceived. because. This is in contrast to Lacan’s (2004) largely dismissive and cynical attitude to profound societal change. A positive engagement with strife and agonism predicted on an ethics. all revolution does is replace one master with another. 1996. or most efficient and competitive. both thinkers occupied the same space-time of mid-20th-century Paris. Even if Lefebvre might disagree and disavow Lacan’s influence. 1997. To achieve this planning for the Real. 2000: 193–5). including ourselves. Both thinkers were concerned with the fundamental questions of human existence with particular foci on what escapes articulation and representation within modernity. 1989). for he ‘was profoundly hostile to structural analyses. as well as his call for revolutionary change as to how we perceive and value our social reality. Lefebvre’s (1991. 2000.

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[email: m.ac. The University of Auckland. Michael has research interests in post-structuralism.nz] . He served as Head of Department from 1999 to 2001.gunder@auckland. particularly as it is applied to understanding human practices and the development of urban policy. He was in professional planning practice before returning to the academy in 1994 where he took up his current position and completed his mid-life PhD. New Zealand. National Institute of Creative Arts and Industry.Gunder Production of desirous space 199 Michael Gunder is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Planning. Auckland. Private Bag 92019. Address: Department of Planning. University of Auckland.

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