Education, The Craft of Desire

Education, The Craft of Desire December 31, 2012

There is a universal and inextricable relationship between desire and belief.

This relationship contains and reveals the natural, religious, and erotic order of things.

It is no surprise, then, that New Atheists are today’s fiercest defenders of religious belief in their evangelical zeal, straw-man debates, and group therapy sessions. Echo chambers.

No, I’m not going to spell this out to the predictably irritable vigilantes out there.

I simply want to point out two well-known facts about desire: we do not know what we want, and we do not want what we want either. We want to want more than what we want.

The most fundamental objects of desire are, in this sense, the disclosure of desire and the desire for Desire.


A child cries.

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know!”

The child is tired and needs some food, a warm bath, and a soft bed, but she doesn’t know what she wants.

Part of her misery is wanting to know what it is she wants, but not knowing it.

She wants what she wants, she wants to want it, but she also doesn’t want to be told to eat, to bathe, to lay down and go to sleep.

She doesn’t want what she wants. Inwardly she does, outwardly she doesn’t.

The external masks the internal.

This is part of what desire is: a vexing mystery that is close enough to make demands on our hearts, minds, and bodies, but absent enough to remain something to be desired.

The desire for Desire.


Education is all about desire.

Education is the craft of desire.

You don’t need to read Plato to understand that.


A Dr. Pepper commercial begins with a young man, dressed in standard corporate attire. After drinking Dr. Pepper, he takes off his shirt and tie, revealing a maroon undershirt that reads “I’m One of a Kind.” The young man is joined by a flash mob of Dr. Pepper look-a-likes, who drank from the same liberating elixir, resulting in their t-shirt uniforms and song and dance. The only variety among them is the slogan on the shirt, the words, with one “rebel” exception. A wonderful and instructive commercial.

Drinking Dr. Pepper awakens our innermost desire for individuality, manifesting itself in total uniformity. Only small, calculated variations and one exception that proves the rule.

This is the revolving door of the great myth of freedom that libertinism has bred deep inside the modern imagination. This is the one ideological commitment we all share to some degree. Ignore, for the moment, the myth itself and the ideology it has produced. Look at the educational structure: the way it crafts our desire.

Desire comes before and extends beyond freedom. Even freedom must obey desire. We are not free when we get what we desire, we simply desire for more or something different. We desire for desire and revolve back into the previous place we once were. When we realize our desire for individuality, we clothe ourselves in a different suit, a different uniform — but a costume nonetheless.

The externals masks the internal.

Surely that young man once thought (as I once did) that wearing a suit and tie everyday would fulfill his destiny. But then his desire returns him to the freedom of his youth and his return returns him to his corporate uniformity. Again and again. No escape. No freedom from desire.


Now we turn to the myth of freedom itself and its libertine ideologies: classical liberalism, early modern conservatism, communism, socialism, American progressivism, Rawlsian liberalism, neoconservatism and neoliberalism, globalism, and more.

Democrats and Republicans. Ron Paul.

The myth of freedom assumes that freedom will consummate desire. Namely, that we desire freedom in the first and last place, that freedom is the proper object of desire. Henceforth, the craft of modernity has been one of freedom, a craft of building freedom. Freedom fighting. Braveheart.

For Catholics this should ring hollow. Dr. Pepper is sugary and tasty and freedom has its own seductions, but we should know better and ask a qualifying question: do I know what I want? Do I desire what I desire?


The craft of God is lovecraft, the heartfelt master craft of desire by Desire. As products of this Divine, erotic craft, the education that crafts our desire is Desire itself: Christ is our teacher, rabbi, and master. This is the beauty of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: the desire for Desire.

We long for the one who desires us within the desirous womb of Love.

The craft of desire, then, is rooted in fidelity. Not freedom. Fidelity to love. The restless pursuit of holiness: that thing we rarely want but always desire, because we spend too much time throwing tantrums and drinking Dr. Pepper.

We do not know the desires of our heart and we do not want what we desire — we don’t want what we think we want. There is more. This is why education is nothing more and nothing less than the craft of desire.

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