If the potential of each of us remains unexpressed, it becomes a latency.
We are often forced to leave many personal resources inactive. A series of circumstances can require latent period. For example, if we have a guest, we let them speak and take the role of listener. Our linguistic expression then becomes latent.
Often, however, the latent situation is lived as a true lack of the thing. This is the first and fundamental mistake. Latency is in fact a condition in which potential is not then produced or happen. The action is missing, but the ability is certainly not. Instead, we live latency as though it were not only the act that were missing but also the power necessary to make the act possible.
This simple and dry elementary distinction is at the head of a series of particularly serious existential implications, if you think that we can quickly plunge into a deep state of depression because of a prolonged period of latency which has been badly experienced and wrongly understood.
Latency, then, causes fear. When we are unable to establish, and control, our potential resources, because they are not being used, we fear they no longer exist or hardly usable. There is, of course, some truth to this. Some of our potential is indeed compromised, if it is not put into action. They can even disappear. We can tell with this type of thing by paying attention, as means of analogy, to some bodily behaviour. For example, we know that severe lack of mobility can easily cause atrophy to the legs. In a different way: a foreign language we have learnt, if it is not spoken, will be partly forgotten, etc.
The condition of latency can be experienced, however, not only as inactivity per se, but also as inactivity imposed by certain circumstances. In this case, the effects are the opposite of those above. In other words, when latency is imposed, our potential does not lessen, but grows hugely. All romantic culture on desire exploits this psychological tendency.
Here it is also necessary to avoid generalisations. Our potential is naturally conducted to lead to action, but when this passage is free from resistance it guarantees a certain ease of putting it into action. Otherwise, our potential is naturally conducted to remain such. For example, it is nice to go for a walk to stretch your legs, less nice to use your legs to push a broken down car. Therefore, while we also voluntarily put our legs into action to go for a walk with our friends, while we wouldn’t all push a car, unless it belonged to us or our friends.
What is it that grows in latency? Everything which would have been done spontaneously if the action had been fulfilled, if it had not been thwarted by circumstance and, really, impeded. Just think of an “impossible” love affair, thwarted or impeded. The loved one becomes completely dominant in our thoughts and our emotional world. We are willing to put everything into play, to cultivate a love relationship.
Let’s look at this now from another side. Our desire is always in tension, with regard to our own suitable object, but it does not also find it. In waiting, however, desire does not manage to live in a state of anticipation. Sometimes we turn to a surrogate object. I’m hungry, I want to eat my favourite meal, but I will have to wait a long time to get it, in the meantime I eat what comes along to calm the hunger. In this way, desire is satisfied to some extent, but also frustrated. Because of this is does not die but increases. It survives. With time, it can fade.
If the desire is able, instead, to organise itself into a form of waiting, it grows. It grows, however, only if the wait is realistic, and we can foresee the returns being likely, that the object of our desire will remain. If the object begins to seem impossible to reach, desire passes from hope to desperation; it abandons its relationship of desire and looks elsewhere. To surrogates.