Daffy Duck and the Condemning of Desire 

to a Merry-Go-Round of Signifiers

Animation stills from: Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur

Merrie Melodies circa 1939, Warner Bros.





Daffy Duck presents Casper the Caveman with a an ever-evolving procession of signs to merry-go-round Casper's desires in a play of signifiers, keeping Casper's desire to consume Daffy from reaching actuality. Desire ricocchet's off sign after sign keeping desire locked in perpetual anticipation. Each proceeding sign Daffy produces seems to escalate Casper's desire intensity. Daffy seems to be performing a kind of anticipation-maintenance on Casper's desire-field.


Daffy utilizes different types of signs: "rule" signs, billboards, and icons 


"No Swimming" compels Casper to obey, restricting Casper from pursuing Daffy in the water.


Daffy paints an icon of Casper's desire, an image of Duck on a rock, where Casper's predictable behavioural mode of "clubbing" his prey was anticipated by a cagey Daffy, who thwarts Casper's fullfillment.


Daffy goes on to produce a series of billboards aimed at manufacturing a constellation of desires to associate with the consumption of duck, such as "There are more costly ingredients in duck" ie. social status. Perhaps, Daffy figured Casper was catching on by this point, a bit weary of past "trickeries," so Daffy directed Casper through a procession of non-stop billboards to throw Casper into such a desire frenzy of anticipation that he would not be able to apply his new found experience to form a critical analysis of signs.


The animation short ends with Daffy inflating a colosseum-sized icon of a duck and presenting Casper with a knife and nodding Casper on. When Casper plunges the knife, both Casper and Daffy are depicted in heaven, Daffy regretting his decision.


Both the manufacturer and pursuer's delusions of the sign (what it could get them) were destroyed when the inherent emptiness of the icon was experienced viscerally and released into awareness, vis-a-vis, ruptured with a knife. This revelation "deflated" the icon-field's link to desire.