Case Study: The Oiler Fan as a Melancholic


This is Rainer Maria, and I maybe in love with Caitlhin De Marrais, the bassist and vocalist for the band. Till today, I had never seen a picture of her but I have been in love with her voice for the last few weeks. To bad the bad is no longer together, cause it means I cannot mourn my loss of not seeing them properly. It is this topic of desire and loss that will occupy the pixels of this blog today.

on the inside

of you and I

burning out our true desires

with spit and fire

What is ‘desire’? More importantly to us today, is what is my ‘desire’ in relation to the Oilers? That is what this blog is going to be about: the true desires of you and I and how the Oilers set them on fire.

My homeboy, Hegel, defines desire in terms of negation and of subjectivity: “Desire has reserved to itself the pure negating of the object and thereby its unalloyed feeling of the self. But that is the reason why this satisfaction is itself only a fleeting one, for it lacks the side of objectivity and permanence.” (Phenomenology of the Spirit. § 195). So desire is only concerned with negating (or later on in this article eating) the object or the other; rather that desire is felt by the subject but only towards the object of that subject and never in relation to the self reflexivity (that the subject of desire is always a subject in-itself or for-another, a conscious subject, but never a subject for-itself, a self-conscious subject).

So in relation to hockey, I have a desire that relates only to my object the Oilers. It seeks to negate the Oilers for my own pleasure: I do not mean that I want to destroy the Oilers but consume them (take them into myself for my pleasure). I am conscious of this orientation towards the Oilers as they are my object—what defines my desire is my relation to the Other/Oilers—but my desires themselves are never the object of my desires as self-conscious subject—my desire cannot be in relation to myself/as a fan. Does this make sense? Well, no. Lets try again: My desire in relationship to the Oilers is a desire for the Oilers (to do well, to have a member of the Holy Trinity win the Calder, etc…) but not a desire about myself (I desire to be at a victorious game seven in the Stanley cup final, the desire to brag to my friends who are Maple Laughs Fans, etc…).

The trouble with attempting to understand my desires in this way is that they do not match up with how I think and feel about the Oilers. I want the Oilers to win, but not for their own right or just my pleasure of watching them in second season—even if this is the over whelming reason why I watch the Oilers—also I wonder when Katz is going to find a GM that wants to win and be in the playoffs, that is when I will think he is alright as it stands no I still want the EIG back (EIG has six playoff appearance in nine years while Katz zero playoff appearances in two years, hence EIG is a better ownership group for me as a fan). Ok, back to the point: as much as I want to use the Oilers as an object for my pleasure, I also gain just as much pleasure when I direct my desire back towards myself, i.e. when I mercilessly mock a Toronto fan cause his team is worse then mine.

This leaves us without a way to explain our desires in relationship to the Oilers: fuck you Hegel, you failed me again. So we have to look at other thinkers to understand desire. Dr. Freud seems like a good place to start: I do not buy the argument that all his ideas are wrong, commonly preached by the psychological community, because they have not yet developed a structural understanding of drives/desires, but only needs. Seriously I am off on a lot of tangents today! We are not going to look at Freud’s understanding of drives (specifically the pleasure, or lust, principle & the death, or unlust, drive) because I really don’t understand them well enough. Instead we are going to explore how we, as subjects or hockey fans, deal with the destruction of the object of desire.


everything expires

tonight there’s no denying

even you and I will die,

so why are we hesitating?


Freud says we deal with the lose—whether this is death, rejection, etc…—of our object of desire in two ways: Mourning or Melancholia. In this long quotation Freud describes the processes of melancholia and morning: “An object-choice, an attachment of the libido to a particular person, had at one time existed; then, owing to a real slight or disappointment coming from this loved person, the object-relationship was shattered. The result was not the normal one of withdrawal of the libido from this object and a displacement of it on to a new one [or the process of morning], but something different, for whose coming-about various conditions seem to be necessary . . . But the free libido was not displaced on to another object; it was withdrawn into the ego. There, however, it was not employed in any unspecified way, but serves to establish an identification of the ego with the abandoned object . . . In this way an object-loss was transformed into an ego-loss and the conflict between ego and the loved person into a cleavage between the critical activity of the ego and the ego as altered by identification” (‘Mourning and Melancholia’. The Freud Reader. P. 586). In other words, instead of consuming the object-choice and finding a new object to love as in mourning, the melancholic is choking on the object-choice unable to give it up and hence identifying that status of choking with the status of being themselves.

Now what does this have to do with the Oilers and my desires for them? I am going to argue that the Oiler fan is still a Melancholic and has never gone through the process of mourning. I also trace this back to what I have called the “Event of Being an Oilers’ Fan” or the end of dynasty period and the when the Moose lifted the Cup over the Oilers’ jersey the last time. Fans did not withdraw their libido attachment to the Dynasty and displaced it on to another team or the ‘new’ Oilers. Rather they withdrew their libido attachment into themselves and began to identify with the Dynasty. The disaster of the nineties was not understood as an object-loss, but instead was directly felt as the loss of the ego itself. We could no longer participate in the critical activity of being the Oilers’ fan, instead we suffered as the Dynasty would in the same position, since ourselves as ego was identified directly as the Dynasty. We where caught choking on the both the rising price of beer at Rexall Place as well as not being able to healthly mourn the loss of the greatness of the Oilers. This explains why the Oilers’ fans ‘abandoned’ their season tickets, and why the OilDiaspora is so touchy about our team (it is not the Oilers that other fans are mocking, but us the fans ourselves).

But everything does expire, just look at the milk in your fridge, so why wouldn’t the melancholia of being an Oilers’ fan expire too. Jordan Eberle’s goal two nights ago, reminded me that everything does die: that the Dynasty did die over 15 years and I am still attempting to mourn them, but I am doing a poor job. Instead of being stuck in the melancholia that we have suffered through for many years, it is time to stop identifying with the Oilers (which may reduce my pleasure I get from laughing at Toronto fans, but that is a price I am willing to pay). The next questions is: why are we hesitating?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's too bad Oilers did not make a play for Martin Hanzal, I think they could have got him, - Cogliano + would have done it. They are still small at center and will not be a serious contender w/o a big Center.

Black Dog said...

Hey guys are you around? Drop me a line at pat_mclean@opticalonline.com re: Barons/Marlies