Grimaces of the Real, or When the Phallus Appears Author(s): Slavoj Žižek Source: October, Vol.

58, Rendering the Real (Autumn, 1991), pp. 44-68 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 15/05/2013 13:32
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Grimaces of the Real, or When the Phallus Appears


The "Phantom oftheOpera": a Spectroscopy between high art (and theory)and mass culture The coincidence of motifs has become a theoreticalcommonplace. Do we not find the clearest figuration traditionof vampires and the of the famousje suis un autrein the mass-culture and selfthe which "decenters" dead subject,underminingitsconsistency living control fromwithin?'The main problem withthisresonance is the notion of a device. One way to avoid thisis to play high art and Zeitgeistas its interpretive each withthe help of the mass culture against each other-that is, to interpret in which one another. Levi-Strauss's like other, mythsinterpret Mythologiques, Let us take the "phantomof the opera," undoubtedlymass culture'scentral apparition,whichhas kept the popular imaginationbusy fromGaston Leroux's novel at the turn of the centurythrougha series of movie and TV versionsup to the recent musical. In what does the repulsive horror of his face consist? There are four featuresthat define it: The eyes:"His eyes are so deep that you can hardly see the fixed pupils. All you can see is twobig black holes, as in a dead man's skull."2 To a connoisseur of Alfred Hitchcock, this image instantly recalls the scene from The Birds in which, in a lonely farmhouse,Mitch's mother (Jessica Tandy) stumbles upon the corpse whose eyes have been picked out. At the sightof it she emitsa silent scream. On those occasions when we do catch the sparkle of these eyes, they seem like two lighted candles deep withinthe head, perceivable only in the dark; these two lightssomehow at odds with the head's surface,like lanterns burningat nightin a lonely,abandoned house, are responsiblefor the uncanny "free association"fromthe domain of high effectof the "livingdead." My first cultureis Edvard Munch's paintingsfromthe same period, primarily hisEvening
For a detailed account of this parallel, see James Donald, "The Fantastic,the Sublime and 1. the Popular; or, What's at Stake in Vampire Films?in Fantasy and theCinema, ed. J. Donald (London: BritishFilm Institute,1989), pp. 233-52. Gaston Leroux, The Phantom 2. oftheOpera (New York: Hippocrene Books Inc., 1990), p. 12.

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EdvardMunch.227. This content downloaded from 192.43. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1893.The Scream.18 on Wed.

Ibid.FromClaude Brunet. The Scream(1893). JulietMitchelland Jacqueline Rose Sexuality: JacquesLacan and theEcole Freudienne.43. 4. mask-wearing--another This content downloaded from 192. on KarlJohan(1892). 1985].When he approached her for an embrace. in his articleon fetishism. David Lynch. p. the fact that there is nothingto see there where the gaze expects something?On this point. she pushed him aside withdisgustand asked him to put on his mask. She constantly caressed his face mother. it is therefore of his features-as a strategy to counter the refusalof maternallove.4But in the TV series. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .18 on Wed. According to Lacan's classical definition.Le progresde la medecine. The corresponding feature in Munch's paintings-if we are to continue the homology-is the absence of nose and ears fromthe homunculus'shead in his most famous painting.227. 1980. uses exactlythe same words to describe the horrorof castration:what horrifies the child is the veryabsence of the penis. Here one has to avoid the pseudoproblem of which version is "proper": they are to be read in the Levi-Straussian manneras twocomplementary versionsof the same myththat interpret each other. not difficult to conceive the phantom'scompulsive [New York: Norton." In the novel. the phantom's primordialtrauma was that." in Feminine ed. spectator. 1698."3Is it necessary to recall that Freud. 85).the functionof the mask is "to dominate the identifications through which refusals of love are resolved" ("The Meaning of the Phallus. he was so ugly thateven his own mother found him repulsive. nobody could stand his distortedface withtheexception of his to whom he seemed nice and a child. and his later obsession with opera came out of a desperate search for the repetitionof his mother'svoice. Elephant Man. gogglingeyes The nose:"His nose is so little worthtalking about thatyou can't see it sideface: and the absence of that nose is a horriblethingto lookat. while entertaininghim with her heavenlyvoice.What did his mothersee in his face 3.there is an interesting divergencebetween Leroux's novel and the recent TV miniserieson the "phantom. where the streamof ghostly pedestriansmoves towardthe their at odds with their death-mask faces.

thatof the "elephant man.while the attractive." having access to the life-substance Lacanian psychoanalysis prior to its symbolicmortification. an excessive phallic protuberance. One should recall here another case fromthe same period.43.itdwellsin a kind of preontological state. if"melted. in place of the absent nose-in short.the accomplishment of her (maternal) desire to obtain in the child her missingphallus. and 12/13(1977). 45-57. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . something resemblingthe case. the gaze sustained locates the cause of thisdeformity of realityis the way by an incestuous enjoyment:the anamorphoticdistortion the gaze is inscribedinto the object's surface. (in the second. in the anamorphoticgaze. See Alain Grosrichard.227. The place of the "living dead" is not somewherebetween the dead and the living. famous during the eighteenthcentury."as ifdeformed by anamorphosis. but ratherin what is concealed beneath it. pp.of the monster fromClaude Brunet thathas been analyzed by Alain Grosrichard. This content downloaded from 192. it is preciselyas the dead thattheyare "more alive than lifeitself. Accordingto the mythology surrounding 5." Ornicar?11 (1977). The horrorlies not in his death mask. And herein consiststhe ultimate paradox of the "livingdead": thatdeath and the death stenchit spreads are a mask sheltering a Life far more "alive" than our ordinarydaily the palpitating skinnedflesh:anyone who catches sight of this amorphous life-substance has entered the forbiddendomain and must thereforebe excluded fromthe community." immortalized by David Lynch in the filmof the same name. 19-36."Le cas Polyphbmeou Un monstreet sa mere.5 The amorphous distortion face: the fleshhas not yet assumed definite of the features. TV version) that she found so irresistibly same face was so repugnant to the firstmother?There is only one possible answer: theexactopposite-thatis.repulsive to a "normal" gaze.18 on Wed.

It is rather thatthe veryessence of thispictureis thatthe screamwe perceiveis mute since the anxietyis too taut forit to findan outletin vocalization(August Strindberg examined There is a piquant detail as to the elephant man's "truestory":when the historians 6. As to the concept of the "voix acousmatique.which cannot burst out and release itselfin the is the an "impossible.the grotesque protophallicprotuberanceon his forehead (the "eleof his body. the energy of the hindered scream. designate the phant's nose").43. inscription The mythof the "elephant man" is as follows: during a circus parade an elephantwentberserkand almosttrampled watchedby his pregnantmother. there are resonant and call sounds to mind-the paintings paintingsthat are definitely withlife. the is notheard. 1982). this"viewfrombelow" of the mad elephant affected the motherand caused the elephant-likedistortionof the embryo. The True History (New York: Penguin Books.during suffice to mentionAshes.of stormy of streetscenes bursting nature." sexual intercourseor in its aftermath. acousmatique. theydiscoveredthatthe myth newspaper fromhis nativetowncontainsa small note accordingto which-precisely at the timeof his mother's pregnancy-an elephant went mad and almost trampled down a pregnant woman Man of theElephant during a circus parade! See Michael Howell and Peter Ford." Cahiers du cin6ma.18 on Wed.Munch's TheScream. 1980). of course.of dancing. Vampire.48 OCTOBER this figure. of the status his voice: the of all a The exceptional of phantom opera is first as "the man's as if In the novel he is addressed voice. the man literally "loses his face.The point crucial featureof the paintingis the factthatthescream here is not the obvious fact that "paintingsdo not speak".threedrawingsin which. La voix au cinema(Paris: 7. in a kind of effect of conversion of lines are here to materializesound vibrations of matter. Let it and TheKiss." materializes bodiless. This content downloaded from 192." regularly being-of-voice. see Michel Chion. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions itsdistortion. Lacan referred in order to exemplifythe status of the voice qua object. originally body itself and as such all-powerful(all-present)voice baptized by Michel Chion "la voix The first associationhere is again. her down. the hindered sound into a distortion The VoiceQua Object to Munch's TheScream In his seminaron anxiety(1960-61)."' In it. the "normal" relationshipof voice and its bearer (its source) were inverted: instead of the voice appertainingto the body as one of its properties. indeed. findsan outlet (one is almosttemptedto say "is acted out") of the body in its "unnatural"serpentinewindin the anamorphoticdistortion of and water beyond the bridge-as if these spiral in that the coast and ings. foundationin fact:a local of his originshas a surprising the sources. That is to say.6We encounter the same of the face in a series of Munch's paintingswhere the anamorphoticdeformity face seems to lose its contours and "melt down" into a whitishslime. as well as the general deformity of the maternalgaze onto the bodilysurface. that.227.

8 The mostfamousscreamin the history of cinema is also silent:the scream of a mother who powerlessly watches her son being shot down by soldiers in the scene at the Odessa steps in Eisenstein'sBattleship In a tracking Potemkin. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .227. This content downloaded from 192.the voice thatcannot burstout. in order to enjoy Munch's paintings.eyes whichdo notsee.a voice thatwe do nothear. Lacan determinesthe object smalla as the bone thatgot stuckin the subject'sthroat.If the exemplarycase of the gaze qua object is a blind man's eyes. In everyday language. one should imagineappropriatemusicto accompanythem).the formof whichrecallsa giganticear. returnin the real these ears. foreclosedfromthe (symbolic)reality of the anamorphoticstain. As we have already pointed out. one could say thatthe scream"got stuckin the throat". The opposition of voice and gaze as objectscorrespondsto the antagonismof lifedrive and death drive: the voice vivifies whereas the gaze mortifies. 8. that.43. Battleship Sergei 1925.Grimaces oftheReal 49 totallymissed the point when he prattled on about how. It is no accident unchain itselfand thus enter the dimension of subjectivity.18 on Wed. Eisenstein. Potemkin.then the exemplarycase of the voice qua object is a voice thatremainssilent. thisstructural mutenessis indexed withinthe paintingitselfby the absence of ears in the desperate homunculus'shead: as if of the his Seminar XI.what is "stuck in the throat"is preciselythe voice qua object.

and it almost entersthe black hole of her open mouth.a thirdtype of scream that is neithersilentnor vocal. one has to scream of of of choice-the the scream decision. In otherwords. this incestuous song that links the subject to the Thing (the maternal body).which bears out the horror-stricken encounterwiththe real of enjoyment.the silent the umbilicalcord thatlinks the mother'sresistanceto cutting scream manifests her with the the last moment. for the Law. but a hypnoticoperatic air-he fallsin love withChristineafterhe recognizesin her seductive singing the resonance of the lost maternal voice. One has to bear in mind here the contrastbetween thisscream and the silentmother'sscream fromPotemkin.a pure leftover quite consistent that this scream is followed by a kind of reverse flashback.who is clutchingher head in desperation. We "spit out the bone" in the relief of vocalization. It is therefore what remainsof him is an emptyshell. Part III: it is We findit. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the song by means of which the Thing catches him with its with There is."his symbolic destinyis fulfilledof the real.' The voice that obsesses the phantom is. Aftera couple of seconds the sound strikesus withall its force.the opposition forein itsverycoarseness "an act of civilization. a scream that.18 on to exchange enjoyment(that is. by means of oppose which the unbearable tension finds an outlet.a jump into the unspecifiedfuture. Michael is "emptied. its silence. suddenly falls down and void figuredrained of lifeis all thatremainsof him afterthe scream.not a scream. his "life force" evaporates. the most famous case of this is Doris Day's scream in The Man WhoKnew Too Much. utteredon the steps of Palermo's opera house by Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) aftera mafia killer the scream is silent.50 OCTOBER shot the camera approaches the mother. for the paternal metaphor. The scream "gets stuck in her throat" like the silent scream uttered by Mitch's mother upon encounteringthe corpse withits eyes pecked out.we witnessthe desperate opening of his shoots his beloved daughter. when the scream resounds. however. drops dead: this utterly This content downloaded from 192.43. To this silentscream.driven into a corner by a forced choice between her son and This scream is thererenounces the child and chooses community. the murdered bride long years ago. the lost wife).among other examples.we float in a kind of "stasis" of time (in Walter Benjamin's sense of this term)-the movement is suspended.a burstsoap bubble.What as if the scream were vocalized at the very moment is at work here is a kind of self-reflectivity. In The Man Who Knew Too Much. Michael findshimselfin the place homologous to thatof Oedipus at Colonnus: by way of the scream. Although they are both placed withinthe mother-sonrelationship. when the subject perceives.when Michael. At first mouth in complete silence.preventsthe murderin the AlbertHall. the object that gives his or her unwillingness for the to Other. release. towardthe end of Coppola's The Godfather deferral.The entireeffect is again based on the fact that we do not hear her scream. community. the hero's entirelife is condensed in threeimages superimposedin the timeless"now" (the murdered daughter.whereas the body it) such corroboratesthe choice that is already made and the subvocalizationas ject's place withinthe community. As long as the scream remainssilent.227. but vocalized 9. however. a lonely old man on a garden chair. whereas the scream in The Man WhoKnew Too Much signals that the mother. in Hitchcock'soeuvre.becomes aware of." between the silent and the vocalized scream coincides withthat of enjoyment and Other: the silent scream atteststo the subject'sclingingto enjoyment.

which smears the pictureand disturbsits transparency. 5-7. of course. holds the place of. none other than the notorious "Que Sera. late in the evening.'0When. thatis to the middle term "Que Sera.stands in for. du cinema309 (1980).It is a song through her son. In TheMan WhoKnewTooMuch the motheralready knows how to sing. so that one is temptedto riskthe thesisthatthe boy fromTheMan WhoKnewToo Much is none other than Norman Bates in his childhood. In order to avoid the danger of the so-called "psychoanalytic of art" that lurkshere (maternal interpretation one has to accomplishthe properly superego as the "secret"of the voice-stain). to explain the verylogic of the maternalsuperego by means of thisvocal stain.The third whichdirectly and finalfeaturenot to be missed is the contentof the song itself. "shows" its resonance on the staircase and its climb to the attic room where the son is locked up). " if embarrassedby such an obscene exhibition. Sera" in the context of other and Psycho. The scream and the song thus forman opposition: the statusof the song 10. What we call "maternalsuperego" is nothing butsuch a voice. Anothercrucial featureof this scene is of Doris Day's singing-her voice is far and obscenity the accentuated vulgarity too noisy." establishesthe incestuousumbilicallink (here Hitchcockmakes use of a formal perceived-the camera directly procedure whose audacityhas not yetbeen fully "tracks" the voice. the malevolentindifference This status is further confirmedifone locates notion of the superego? superego Hitchcock films. dialectical reversal of the explanans into explanandum. and all we hear is the voice of an unknown soprano practicingscales.18 on Wed. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . a certain the background sounds-the rich textureof everydaynoises-are suddenly suspended. Our procedure is therefore strictlyallegorical-"mother" qua diegetic personality is ultimatelyan agency that. See Michel Chion." will child's to what in answer to the as become one avoid noticing. a pecubetween Rear Window soundtrack. this question thatpertainsto the very of him when he grows up.227." Cahiers This content downloaded from 192. Sera" sung by Doris Day in the embassywhere her son is kept that the distinguishedguests at the reception avoid each other's gaze and look away. The point is not to intervoice as the maternalsuperego. pp.a song thatexpressly which the motherreaches. within the narrativecontent of Hitchcock's films. Grace Kelly liarityof Rear Window's approaches James Stewart.who is taking a nap in his wheelchair (firstas an ominous shadow which overflowshis face. as if the mother is yet learning to sing (which is why she still toleratesthe exchange of kisses betweenStewartand Kelly). of course.Grimaces of theReal 51 tentacles. then as "herself"). "Le quatrieme c6te. but rather pret the unfathomable"acousmatique" to turn it around. what will will be-how could status: be exhibits its superego "Que Sera. her voice finallyreaches the son-the ultimate result of which is then shown in Psycho:a son dominated by the mother'svoice. Sera.43.a stain that blurs the field of vision. What we have in mind is.

(like eye-frescos elementthatpatchesup the hole (the blank) in reality the same role of a fantasy is played by the giganticblack hulk at the end of the streetwhere Marnie's Therein the depth-effect. TheAnal Father as being about anxietyis thereof The Scream The standard interpretation fore appropriate provided that we conceive the notion of anxietyin its strict Lacanian sense as the effectthat registersthe subject's panic reaction to the of the object-causeof desire. the only substanceascertainedby psychoanalysis out the densityof bears stains of Munch's to conceive how the materialweight enjoyment. spiral of the the illusion of their material "reality"of the depicted presence. is-to put it simply-a horrifiedreaction to this stain.accordingto Lacan.Girlson theBridge(1899) and The Dance of Life (1900): the backcase.a subjectnot yettornfromthe mother's body (the same homunculus is depicted in the lower left corner of Munch's ornamentedby spermatic Madonna (1895-1902). weight far more is undermined-it not is content thereby appropriate to say simply and becomes character ethereal its loses that the depicted reality free-floating. drawn and thus destroys motherlives. The same effectoccurs at its clearestin two paintingsfromthe turn of the century. as part of the frameotherwise of the the status object small a (surplus enjoytrickles). density. it is not difficult is enjoyment." constitutive on realityis of course enjoyment.The stain as such has ment).thatis to say. enjoymentinto reality.227. It is evidently of psychosis:the massive presconsiststhe most elementaryformaldefinition ence of some real that fillsout and blocks the perspectiveopenness which is the linear perspective This magneticforcethatdistorts of "reality. of substantial loaded witha kind Consideringthat. and the homunculus is seized withhorrorat being drawn into thiswhirlforma new shape vaguelysuggespool. The spiral lines of the distortedreality tiveof a giganticear or eye. the contoursof the dancing bodies in ground earth and trees in the first the second. transmuteinto extended sperm-likestains that encumber reality This content downloaded from 192.Munch's The Screamdepicts the intrusionof the more the painting The more we approach itsvortex. the paintingis "sucked" distorted anamorphotically of the way up its right toward its center of gravityapproximatelytwo-thirds side.18 on Wed. Hitchcock'sMarnie. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . A cursory glance at revealshow itssurfaceis "drawn":the righthalfis farmore Munch's The Scream than the lefthalf. strikeus withthe lines of color more its the its loses "realist"character. all"-bringing to mind Syberberg's a flat rear projectionthat deliberately is often filled out (the background) by and sometimes of effect the directly figuresa giganticeye perspective destroys the In Ivan from Eisenstein's the Terrible).52 OCTOBER whereas the scream is that of a stain which materializesincestuousenjoyment. a kind of paranoiac agencythat"sees all and hears where the depth of the visual field Parsifal.43. The littleman's featuresclearlyrecall overproximity a homunculus or a fetus. that is.

Madonna.1898-1902.In Starlit Night(1893) the substantialmass of dark earth in the foreground directlyevokes a blurred stain. Modernism endeavors to assert the subversivepotential of the margins that and to assert the enjoymentthat eludes the undermine the father'sauthority focuseson the fatherhimselfand confather'sgrasp. like a boundary transgress of "reality.father into a symbolicfunction. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .withthe substanceof enjoyment.43." in his obscene dimension. This content downloaded from 192.18 on Wed. the fatherwho was aufgehoben insofaras he is notyet"transubstantiated" who is still but the father alive. It is not the dead symbolicfather. whereas postmodernism ceives him as "alive. The phantom-like object that hinders a "normal" sexual relationshipis thereforea paternal figure.227.insofar as he remains what psychoanalysiscalls a Edvard Munch." within the that from consistency disintegrates mysterious plasm Here one could risk some general remarkson the relationshipbetween modernism and postmodernismin termsof the status of paternal authority. These stains in the cinema: they presenta kind of visual correlateto the "voixacousmatique" in lurk the and the outside/inside space between.yet not in his name.

intersubjective and ignoranceacquires thereby linkbetweenfeminine the intimate enjoyment dimension: woman enjoys in so far as her other (man) does not know. but also in his very The other. 84-111. the dissymmetry did not know what he was doing. to even-the part in himself sacrifice must renounce.however. whereas his motherknew all the time who her sexual partner was-and the source of her enjoymentwas preciselyOedipus's ignorance." A whole series of Munch's paintings are to be conceived as from 1935. the not know he is dead could thus be supplementedwith"(I. accordingto Lacan.""1 does father fact that) What emerges under the guise of the phantom-like "livingdead"-of the sexual the that hinders "normal" specter relationship--is." 12." (Father-Enjoyment." The fatherqua Name-of-the-Father. that is.") He is the qua presymbolic and givesbody to a certain a shadow him like who accompanies subject'sdouble than "in more the what is subject himself. whereas in Mephistopheles II: SplitPersonality double and walks down the same streetarm in arm withhis almosttransparent him. in less knownFreudian dream about the fatherwho does ignorance. sa fonctiondans la psychanalyse. at Here.227. namely the obscene littleman who is the clearestembodimentof the phenomenon of the "uncanny (Unheimliche).The notoriousthesison a new. 11.18 on Wed. enjoy not know he is dead."Le pare. one has ignores a girlwho turnsround to cast a seductiveglance of the double to motif of the to go beyond the standard "Lacanian" reduction betweenOedipus and Jocaste:Oedipus Therein consists.shadowkilling figure depicts istopheles the same dark figure like double. but on the contrary is preciselyto enablethe semblanceof a sexual relationship).the reverse doesenjoy: father"who definitely the "anal of the Name-of-the-Father. thedreamer. in and the sense that he doesnotknow "dead" "dead" is (also) authority." customarily father nature of the the obscene "partial object.54 OCTOBER as a figureof symbolic "partial object. Mephwiththe two Mephistopheles variationson this motif. unbeknownstto him. in Demainla psychanalyse See Michel Silvestre."This surplus subject surplus. 1987). always The order about life substance. can'tyousee can't you see I'm burning?"could be simplytranslatedinto "Father." (While what we are calling the "anal father"is our termis meant to highlight the to as referred "primal father. pp. with Father cannot see I'm enjoying?"--can't alive. I'm enjoyment? you burning is open to me to enjoy not see it because he is dead. This content downloaded from 192. the excessive "sprout of enjoyment"materializedin the obscene figureof the "anal father. of a son who appears to his fatherand reproaches him with "Father.This is why the famous dream.The point calls it)'2 hinders the Michel Silvestre as "Pere-Jouissance. anything and enjoymentare radicallyincompatible. wherebythe possibility only outsidehis knowledge.starting his act of in the dark a Duel I: The white. representswhat the subject to live as a "normal" memberof order to start in murder that the subject must that this "anal father" therefore here is crucial the community. about (the big Other) symbolic enjoyment.43. (Paris: Navarin Editeur. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the block is not sexual relation-its stumbling "repressive"agency of symbolic role of the Name-of-the-Father the Law (accordingto a Lacanian commonplace.

is the radical asymmetry in the relationship a-a'. they materialize object a which. pure substance of enjoyment. This content downloaded from 192.i. instead of experiencing the radical otherness of his double. the part of himselfthatthe subject must renounce in order to become "himself. phantom-likeThing thatbetweenthe (ordinary)object and the (sublime) Thing. dissymmetry say. This is why the image of a double so easily reverses itself. "father" designates such a Thing that is "in me more than myself." The double is "myself. definition. this comma becomes the object small a." yet totallystrange. The fatherqua Thing is what is originally prohibited.That in he the his is." a-a'." Yet it is preciselypresent in it in the image. Spinozist ethereal body. displaysthe "truth"of the mirrorrelationship a-a'. This amorphous leftover is the materialcorrelativeto the gaze. $ O a. What one should render problematicin this mirrorrelationthe image of a double (a') from "myship is the apostrophe that distinguishes self" (a): later. a Dorian Gray-like imbalance between myselfand my mirrorimage: the is that price to be paid for retainingmy image in all its harmoniousconsistency the entirehorrorof itsamorphous leftover fallsto me.when "I myself"qua subject 13.e. that is. In other words. X on account of which the mirrorimage obtains of that unfathomable shape its unheimliches character-the double is "the same as me. his sameness increases his uncanniness. In this sense."to attain his symbolicidentity. the confrontationof the empty subject with the amorphous presence of the real. object small a is the unheimliches surplus forevermissingin the mirror that which is "unspecularizable. as Lacan writesin his "scheme L.when a is no longer conceived as an imaginaryother but as the real object-cause of desire.Grimaces of theReal 55 the double embodies the the imaginarymirrorrelationship. I don't simplyencounter myself(my mirrorimage). therefore. by cannotbe mirrored.sublime. recognizes equivalent amorphous mass of the real whose literary and cinematicversionsreach from Maupassant's Horli to the "alien" of Ridley Scott's filmof the same name.18 on Wed. between me and my in to the that is is exempted fromthe circuitof generation and corruption.It is therefore clear whyvampiresare invisible in the mirror-they have read Lacan. on the other hand."'3 It would be wrong to draw the conclusion that the relationship to the double qua Thing has nothingwhatsoeverto do withthe imaginary relationship between ego and ideal ego. and. but first of it all what is "in me more than myself. It is what confers on this relationshipits antagonistictension-another confirmation of how the real persistsin the very heart of the imaginary. When I findmyselfface-to-face withmy double.227.know how to behave. its mirror image. Since the symbolic universe is.the agent of symbolic prohibition prohibited. double is ultimately In my double.For fundamentally.43." yet-to put in that of the another terms-conceived under other. when I "encountermyself"among objects.. one could say that the Lacanian formula of that. consequently.Prior to his being "sublated" in his name. the subjectrecognizeshimself in the image of radical otherness. What is crucial here. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . modality. "held together" by the Name-of-the-Father qua the agency of is preciselythe object that was originally prohibition.

This symbolic narrativeof the gradual prevalenceof the paternalover the maternalin history as well as in the subject's ontogenesis. point surplus As Lacan puts it.the passive thought. in the the the that eludes image thateludes my eye's grasp. The mad "anal father" is the nauseating debauchee. "I cruel of a watchful rathersneaks and crawlsunder the superego: thought. threateningyet ridiculously of the "complementary relationship impotent. In other words. focuses on the horror of being the object of some invisible.227. There is no calm or reassurance in these moments. Marlowe "thinks. in "more than meetsthe eye. eye as if it was and thoughtin my mind moved witha kind of sluggishstealthiness. down. but calm reflection."what am I at thatprecise momentas the one who witnesses myself?I am preciselythe gaze qua object. of course. The lesson unbearable experience to findoneself the discordance between eye and of the dialectic of the double is.unfathomable. if I am to point fromwhich I look at you."yetthis the mirror There is certainly image gaze.coninvaded by paranoia."the place of the supposed symbolic the savoir)thatsupplants primordialThing (Father-Enjoyedge (le sujetsuppose sumis thus to be translatedas: I think ment qua presymbolic Other).The Cartesian God-the correlate of the cogito-is."you can never see me at the is none other than thegaze itself. for he is the fatherwho yang" still carries the mark of his mother'sdesire. eye.56 OCTOBER appear "out there.the narrativethat even Freud seems to at least upon a superficial followin his Mosesand Monotheism. one is own a-a') object-gaze my gaze. PhilipMarlowedisconnectsfrom a rest.the Other's enjoymenthas to be suspended. but of means to tried he has which of rot and decay-all activity escape by whichin factare the substanceof enjoyment-return to strikehim in the face. therefore. frontedwiththe nausea of existence. It bringsout the reverse of the bearer the Name-of-the-Father behind who lurks father" "anal qua familiar that disturbs the third element father" is the "anal Law.excluded." subvertsthe usual opposition between the This is the way psychoanalysis and the maternal and bringsout what has to be repressed. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the part missingin the mirrorimage of myself (the "'" of the axis that the sees me out there. motif)."yet his thought is not a free-floating. the noise of a big city.the stench garbage. or. This content downloaded from 192. The glow of advertiseand takes lies the freneticrun of things.who does not fitinto the system as he short-circuits insofar and between yin it. knowlnone other than Lacan's "big Other. in order to establishthis opposition. to give a deontologicaltwistto it. for the horrorof coming face-toface with my double is that this encounter reduces me to the object-gaze. on the contrary. paternal the of the father.exhausted by activity.43. As a rule. reading of it. Cogito ergo where enjoymentwas evacuated. One can detect this subjective attitude in those moments in Raymond Chandler's novels when.18 on Wed. yet it is a far more panoptical gaze (the "someone-is-watching-me" at thisverypointof pure gaze. intrusive the and alcohol of ments. This extends Lacan's account of the Cartesian cogitoand its inherent link with the God that guarantees its consistency.

) What is the phantom if not the so-called "pregenital" (anal) object that must be surmounted for the "normal" sexual relationshipto realize itself?And one must avoid here the fallacyinto which Freudian orthoon thisanal object preventsthe emergence doxy fell. This ambiguous object-impedimentthat guarantees fantasmaticconsistencyenables us to delineate the logic of the sublime reversalin the Phantom of theOpera. a filler. on the contrary. on the that which fillsin the relationshipwhich does not a whole.hindered.43. of the supreme melodramaticmoment when the phantom who has hithertoprevented the fulfillment of the sexual relationshipsuddenly emerges 14. Jacques-Alain Miller. without this troublesome intruder.the fantasy harmoniouswhole is rendered possible." Ornicar?28 (1984).18 on Wed.227. cogito: think." what appears as the hindrance to society'sfull identity-with-itself is actuallyits positive condition: by transposingonto the Jew the role of the foreign body thatintroducesdisintegration and antagonismto the social organism. consistency. The object is.according to whichfixation of the "normal" (genital) sexual relationship. contrary. to gloss Jacques-Alain Miller's proposition: "The Jew is not what hinders the advent of the class relationship. This is Marlowe's MyLovely). 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . as a kind of perspectiveerror makes us believe. And what is this "phantom" if not the stumblingblock to the "normal" sexual relationship? (In Leroux's novel.this paradox findsits clearestarticulation in the anti-Semitic theJew in order figureof theJew-the Nazi has to sacrifice to be able to maintainthe illusion thatit is only the "Jewishplot" that prevents the establishment of the "class relationship"of societyas a harmonious. image of societyqua consistent. What we encounter here is the paradox of sacrifice at its purest-the illusion of sacrificeis that renunciationof the object will render accessible the intactwhole.Grimaces of theReal 57 and sadisticeyes" (Farewell. thatwhich fillsin the relationship thatdoes not existand bestowson it itsfantasmatic In other words.the sexual relationshipwould be possible in its intact fullness. This content downloaded from 192. the "perspectiveerror" consistsin conceiving him as a stumbling block to the emergence of the "full" sexual relationship as if."D'un autre Lacan. The Jew is the anal object par excellence. p.One is tempted. 55.the partialobjectstain that disturbsthe harmonyof the class superego specter is watchingme. exist and bestowson it its fantasmatic consistency. the anti-Semitic perspectiveerror makes us believe. The Jew is.For the object is not what hinders the advent of the sexual relationship.thatis to say. and the "phantom" thisinherent qua object does nothingbut materializethis"original"impossibility.14 The sexual relationshipis in itselfimpossible. being watched by bitter sadistic I therefore an obscene. In the ideological field. this relationshipis between Christine Daae and Vicomte de Chagny.

so thatcold silence itself more threateningthan violent roars. who also plays the role of "anal father").as signifier as the signifier element that functions blonde (forexample. is the exact opposite of this But what Lacan calls "phallic identification" of the or revelation this phallus as real presence." constitutes and theImagein Postmodernism Phallophany Let us return to the "secret" beneath the mask. On to functionas somethinginfinitely the popular-culture 15.apropos of the Greek mysteries.. into a "meagent previouslyidentified enables the hero's salvation.In terms of Propp's analysis of narrative. the phallus "appears" in the obscene protuberance on the elephant man's forehead and marksit withthe brand of the mother'sdesire. identification paradox signifier that maintains desire. This content downloaded from 192. so that the verysurface ("sublated. In phallic identification proper we identifywith the of its own opposite (in short.also wears a mask concealing a distorted. one should not forget. it. so terriblethat no one this who sees it can survive.fromthe ambiguous statusof the Hitchcockianvillainup to Darth Vader in the Star Warstrilogy (who.43. The same reversalcharacterizes figureof the villain. appearing "phallophany. It is the same with fury-we enter the phallic dimension when we surmount the external opposition of starts outburstsof noisyrage and of restrainedsilence.the opposition of frigidblonde and hot brunetteis surmounted in the precise Hegelian sense). by means of his sacrifice. The revealed distortionof the face. i.5"What we have in mind is. the finalmomentwhen the phantom Eric sacrifices himselfin order to make a happy life withVicomte de Chagny possible for Christine." aufgehoben.entrapped attesting in her dream. in her figure. by means of his sacrifice.18 on Wed. you are done for). phallus. as if it were struckby the whip of her gaze. foutu"(If you are caught in another'sdream. As Gilles Deleuze puts it: "Si vous 6tiez vousMtiez prisdans le revede l'autre.And it is diator" who.the phallus thatis not yet"sublated" (aufgehoben) "secret"is the revealed in the signifier. It is the maternal phallus. coldness functionsas a sign of its opposite-the more calm she is. In this precise sense.e.the phallus qua sign of the incestuous link.As Lacan recalls. Grace Kelly): Let us just recall the Hitchcockian tout court). of course. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . reversal of the "conditionof impossibility" the of this veryexperience perhaps into a "condition of possibility"-the experience of how "only the spear that smote you / can heal your wound" (to quote from Wagner's Parsifal)-that the core of what we call "dialectics. the phallic-anamorphotic thatthe subjectis caughtin the desire of theother(mother).one could say that in this final reversal. It is the identification with the gap with of of desire-the nonidentity.amorphous face. the more this restraintatteststo an underlyingpassion.58 OCTOBER enables as the one who.227." withthe phallus qua outside of any symbolicmediation. is a kind of brand phallus.the as villainsuddenlychanges into donor.

Therein consists the ultimate (passion).since it is preciselyin these momentsof absolute solitude that. a failed.etc. the heart followedby the intrusionof the real father's attack)is immediately by in the shape of a fragmentof reality(a cutoffear) that. Yet the other side of this "derealization" is the hypersensitivity to realityas somethingthat can be hurt. but to make it designate paradox of what Lacan calls "the dialecticof desire"-the renunciationof desire as the veryformof appearance of its fulfillment-theparadox that gets lost as soon as the phallus begins to "appear. yetitsveryobtrusive"hyperrealism" evokes the nausea of the real. it is the same withthe dialecticof the leader.227. Political hagiograalone phers know very well that the leader is to be depicted as fundamentally in his heights. crawling life substance (ants swarm over the ear). "he is withus all"-the leader is "us all" precisely as absolutely the alone.whose Elephant Man featuresthe above-mentionedhistorical case of phallophany at the onset of modernism.soft-porn. as one. It is a commonplace to the talkof the postmodern "societyof the spectacle" whose realityis supplanted by an image of itself.and where. In Lynch's "ontology.developed in Blue Velvet and Wildat Heart a stylewhose underlyingpremise is the expansion of the anamorphotic distortioninto the ontological condition of realityas such. At the very the suspension of the paternal function(epitomized beginning of Blue Velvet. All thatremainsof diegetic"reality"in Wild at Heartare narrativefragments fromold cinematicgenres (filmnoir. consequently. as soon as one approaches it too closely.cutsintothe world. epitomizesthe postmodernsubject:a melancholicsubject This content downloaded from 192.turns into a nauseating."from Tim Burton's filmof the same name.aborted.18 on Wed. protectinghim or her againstits irruption. "Edward Scissorhands. for the inherently painful dimension of our contactwith realityexists even at the most microscopiclevel-as if the subjectwere reduced to a pure receptivegaze preciselybecause he is aware of how everyencroachmentupon the world. hurtsit.In Wildat Heartthe counterpartto the cutoff ear is a repeated close shot of lighting a cigarettethatthen dissolvesintoa ragingfire-through thisopening in reality the substance of the real breaks in.43.even the most benevolent. Herein lies the fundamentalambiguity of the image in postmodernism:it is a kind of barrier enabling the subject to maintain distance from the real.individuals lose the character of social agents and are reduced to external observersof the spectacle." David Lynch.Grimaces oftheReal 59 another a "deeper" sense. This is what Hegel calls "self-relating negation": way effecsurmount is not to and to it external its tively negate frigidity supplant by opposite this opposite. musical comedy. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .)-a patchworkdesigned to preventus from"burningour fingers"too much on the real."the universe is a palpitatingslime that continuallythreatensto blow up the settledframe of everydayreality.Frankensteinian monster withscissor-like hands.

See Slavoj Zifek. at the end of Hans-JuergenSyberberg'sfilmversionof Parsifalthe entirecontentis twice "subjectivized. Object ofIdeology to the FrenchEdition. In Jean-Pierre Ponelle's Tristan.18 on Wed. 8. This link between "scopic drive" and violence characterizesalso the figureof Norman Bates fromPsycho: the reverseof his "voyeurism"is thatthe only proper "act" of whichhe is capable is slaughtering his neighbor. On a more general level. the verysuccessionof three modalitiesin the stagingof Wagner's Modmusical dramas in BayreuthepitomizestheJamesoniantriadrealism-modernism-postmodernism.227. then in the head of Wagner himself. the most indicativeexample is Harry Kupfer's stagingof Hollander(Bayreuth."located firstin Kundry's head. Ballard.and similar"Nordic"bric-a-brac Wagner threwoff"realistic" ascetism:an emptystage withjust some barren symbolson it." a "product of the delirium of our brain"-"The most prudent and effective method of dealing withthe world around us is to assume thatit is a completefiction-conversely. Peter Arnettof CNN reportinglive yet reduced to a pure gaze."Crash(London: Triad/Panther 18.'9However.16 In the Lacanian notion of the real.and the only "present"is Vietnam itself-scenes fromAmerica being nothingbut the hero's death-bed delusions. "Introduction Books. when Wieland ernism is of course the mark of the so-called "neo-Bayreuth"in the early fifties and imposed an abstract swords.) is staged as the delusion of the dyingTristan.helms.what follows Tristan's death (Isolde's return. 1975).at the shown to be "reality" is retroactively itself. chap. p.60 OCTOBER condemned to pure gaze since he knows that touchingthe beloved will cause him or her unbearable pain. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .singersin whitetunics. 1989). to recall the mode of the presence of the West in attitudeof the "postmodern"subject-it suffices Baghdad during the Gulf War: on the one hand.etc. a Vietnamveteranpersecutedby old war nightmares. veryend of whichthe perspective is reversed.1977-85): the Dutchman is presentedas Senta's Fliegende in order to epitomize thissplit Yet one does not need to have recourse to cinematicfiction 16.the interplay of lightand darkness as the main generatorof visual dramatictensions(throughthe use of strong Postmodernism'smain exponent was Patrice Chereau in his legendary stagingof the reflectors). on the other hand the totalphysicaldestruction dropped than on Vietnam. This attitude finds its clearest expression in a series of recent filmsthat stage the what at first seems to be a dream (or a flashbackmemory) paradox of Zhuang Zi and his butterfly: and vice versa. as if he was not speaking fromthe war zone but was himself watchingthe bombing of the country on whichmore bombs were on TV. James G."'8 One should recall here the series of great "postmodern"mise-en-scenes of Wagner'soperas that transpose part of the action or all of it into the "head" of one of its protagonists.43. details (includinglive horses in the first year Ring in 1976-80: a returnto the wealthof "realistic" and posits them as framethat suspends their"veracity" of Walkuere) yet withinthe "hyperrealist" momentsof a nightmarish "psychicreality. 5. the so-called "inner" or "psychic"reality.The Sublime (London: Verso. of itshero." This content downloaded from 192. 19. the hard kernel that resistssymbolization coincides with its opposite. the one small node of realityleftto us is inside our own heads. in Adrian Lyne'sJacob'sLadder." Withinpostmodernism the same coincidenceis reproduced in the shape of the tension between the obtrusivebodily density(one is tempted to say: the Heideggerian "earth") that overshadows the narrativeframe and the view that realityitselfis "somethingthat exists only in our heads.

utilitarian. whichconferson the fieldof vision its depth." accounting for the difficulties This background also enables us to locate the fantasypower of the image of a "ghost ship" 20. 1985). vividlyred of the not "colonized" the in AlistairMaclean's adventurethriller ofMaryDeare: is not the captain of the abandoned ship found byrescuersa new figuration of the FlyingDutchman? See Stephen Jay Gould. State oftheFamily. past formof family. Smile(Harmondsworth: Penguin thatwas the mistakeFriedrichEngels made in Origins Books.18 on Wed. It is enough to recall the infamous role of the "remnants of the past" in of the "construction of socialism." in The Flamingo's 21. bourgeois. Incidentally. the folded." as a kindof reflective Her finalsuicidal gestureis thusreinterpreted redoubling: herselfto keep Senta does not sacrificeherselfforthe Dutchman. yet space enjoyment by sociosymbolic Class Struggle in theOpera The FlyingDutchman. Yet if one is to avoid the historicist trap. the Other's gaze.43. The specter of the Dutchman appears when the gigantichands that form the hulk spread and allow a view of its interior. The fantasy screen in the background holds the space open for the "ghostsof the past" for whom there is no place in the gray.20 real. the "past" is simplythe waythe universethinksitsantagonism. she sacrifices alive the fantasyof the Dutchman that gives consistencyto her desire-she chooses death ratherthan acceptingthe dreadful realityof the provincialtown where she "really" lives.227." a phantom-likeapparition on the stage. and PrivateProperty: he mistookthe "punalua" family(all brothersin clan A married to all sisters in clan B. this hulk is located at the back of the stage. thatis. The Wreck rovingthe seas like a black stain. everydaylife that forecloses the very possibility of heroic sacrifice:Senta yearns for a world in which somethingakin to the Dutchman's tragedyis stillconceivable. "Adam's ideological "fossil"fabricated foran effective by recentIndian society. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 192. the sexual partnerat her disposal in "reality.) of the past.) not proofs of its greaterage (million-year-old via the usual indulgence in the delicacies of an allegorical reading of Scripture but by the affirmation that while God indeed created the universe he built in false traces (fossilsetc. in the very place where the viewer'seye expects to meet the imaginarypoint of the infinite axis of perspective. like Leroux's phantom. itscounterpart).C. is an intruderpreventing the "normal" sexual relationshipbetween Senta and her poor Eric-literally a "phantom in the opera.etc. as the mode by whichSenta "does not cede her desire" and hysterical refusesthe poor and faithful Eric.) and irrefutable fossils. one must apply here the materialistlesson of antievolutionist creationismthat resolves the contradictionbetween the literal meaning of Scripture (according to which the universe was created just 4004 B.2 The "past" is always actually synchronic withthe present. The screen onto which Senta's fantasyis projected consists of a big black hulk strangelyresemblingthe hulk in the shot from Hitchcock's Marnie.Grimaces oftheReal 61 delusion.

the building of the Opera with its luxurious staircases. prior to the Enlightenment. secular.there were the where the has the phantom Opera.Although"apolitical. of homooeconomicus the omnipotenceof the of that haunts cultural autonomyitself. in the of a The bourgeois myth corrupted demonic aristocrat. the phantomis a fetish elementsthatundermine itdisavowsitbycombiningintoone twoquite different decadence and the coming prolethe established bourgeois order. then. the phantomand his sexual rival. of the historicalmoment that shook the foundationsof the bourgeois state. revenge on the new directorfor givingpreferencesto commercialover artistic commercialization.43. deep under secret torturechambers of the Communards. of the phantom: his figure Such.62 OCTOBER In thissense. aristocratic "What is the class equivtarian subversion."23 phantomqua superego inscribed intoLeroux's novel its which is is.22 epitomized notionof "decadence" acquires here itsfullweightas theconceptthat"fantasizes the returnof all the weirdestreligioussectsand cults.a momentof theirsymbolic status. thatstandsin forthe class struggle: In thisprecise sense. space whose contours are It now defined by utilitarian is as perceived decadent and debauched. however. a sovereignexpenditure. the social-ideological topography an impossible"point of passage" at which the subversivepower of constitutes the new (the workingclass) rejoinsthe returnof the old (aristocratic decadence). Note how the phantomexertshis power withinthe opera: he takes University considerations.form a kind of Kleinian opposition of "bad" and "good" aristocraticobject: the phantom embodies the excess that aristocracyhas to renounce in order to In otherwords. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . undergoes a kind of out from falls the social anamorphotic distortion." Fredric Jameson. its "class meaning" is contained in the verydistortion that results from the "impossible"conjunctionof opposites (as in fascistantifrom the 22. superstructure.reveals-the moment we dive into its foundations-the traces of the traumatic"repressed" past. of an archaic enjoyment of return This side the base.. the novel nevertheless of means its verytopography.Vicomtede Chagny." by link between the phantom and the Paris Commune. ideology. itselfas a distortedindex of its inherentantagcreated by the Enlightenment onism.18 on Wed.a glitter of those in power. he endeavors to impede opera's utilitarian This content downloaded from 192. 23.a fieldwhose innermost center meets its radical exterior: the very heart of Parisian high society.supplementedby opposite.afterthe triumphof the It is thus the ghost of the and of utilitarianism.227. that is to say. establishes a mysterious of the late nineteenth thisultimatetrauma of Frenchbourgeoissociety century. What was. 1991).e. The politicaltopographyof the Phantom of theOpera thus consistsof an extimatefield. Georg Lukacs articulateda homologous shiftapropos of Walter Scott's Waverley: the romanticoutcastis all at once perceived as a common criminal. p.It is therefore wrongto ask directly alent of the phantom?".he is a kind of "fossil" become integratedintobourgeois society. perspectiveof "civilsociety. his premises. The CulturalLogic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke Press. i. Postmodernism.

is neverthelessultimately be a for the Dr.Yet it is preciselythispolysemousnesswhich is profoundly ideological. by means of his transformation villain to donor the phantom becomes the "vanishing mediator. Frankenstein's all analyses may metaphor of for the horrors of of the monstrous results nature.In otherwords. then. as FredricJameson put it apropos ofJaws: The vocation of the symbol-the killershark-lies less in any single message or meaning than in its verycapacityto absorb and organize all of these quite distinctanxieties together.-as well as its proletarian subversioncapitalism-its wild profiteering. of meaningscan appear and fight the multiplicity the error of contentanalysisis to proceed too quicklyand to take for granted that offersspace for the apthe fantasysurface itself. the form qua place of their inscriptionbecomes invisible. This content downloaded from 192. and yet such a great soul!").so that Senta has a surface onto which she can project her fantasies. insofar as it allows essentiallysocial and historicalanxieties to be folded back into apparently"natural" ones. Convincingas it may appear.that suspension of contentwhich renders form visible anew.the empty form/frame pearance of monstrous content. Or. This distortion the "Jewish-Communist betraysthe workof "class desire. screen where what one should do is to conceive the monsteras a kind of fantasy forhegemony.So the fundamentalgestureof a dialecticalanalysismustbe preciselya step back from content to form. But it is not a question of deciding which of the meanings is "true. such a directanalysisof "ideological content" as are marked by a brand of ultimatearbitrariness.Grimaces of theReal 63 Semitismwhere the "Jew"condenses in a unique figurethe excessive nature of etc. to returnto Kupfer'sFliegende Holliinder." Rather." rendering possible the finalreconciliation. The crucial question is not "What does the but "How is the veryspace constituted where entitieslike the phantom signify?" the crucial phantom can emerge?" Or. the shark must be understood in termsof its essentiallypolysemous functionratherthan any particularcontentattributable to it by thisor thatspectator.18 on Wed. the actual contoursof social antagonismand thereby to render invisible itseffort from pave the way for its "imaginarysolution".43. as soon as we perceive meaning(s). The elementaryideological operation consistsin this very "conversion of the form"by means of which the possible space for ideological meanings emerges.What we have here is the same vel as that of the well-known visual paradox of the vase or two faces.As a symbolicvehicle.Kaspar catastrophic mayepitomize be the man cathected the lack of familyeducation. man's manipulation results of the the Hauser French revolution." plot"). 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .227. creature of this kind. the killer shark in Jaws may signifyanythingfrom repressed sexualityto unbridled capitalismor the threatof the Third World to America. by ideological elephant may problematicof the body-soulrelationship("Such a horriblebody. question is not the meaning of Senta's fantasiesbut ratherwhere the black hulk in the background of the stage comes from.

26-27. trade unionism as well as for aristocratic room in it for leftist but simplycontained it as an emptyvessel-the unity name thatdid not reduce thisheterogeneity of Peronism was rendered possible by the fact that all its currentsrecognized themselvesin a common signifier.This sheds a new lighton the ill-famedproblem of the "death of the subject.24 The emergence de capiton. The between content and form: you cannothave bothmeaningand enjoyment. should therefore term One to the Lacanian use ment. him to its bind no longer contain the subject. (New York: Routledge." that of the subject" really concerned another motif.thisblack stain in the veryheartof reality.before signifying meaning. monsters embody enjoymentqua the limit of interpretation.18 on Wed. means himself.whatresists meaning." is what Lacan calls "point This "folding-back" of the shark as symboldoes not add any new meaning.Signatures 24. FredricJameson. as such. the"monster" of theEnlightenment.25 that "quilts" the floatingplurality into formalsymbolic moment. pp. it simplyreorganizes meanings that were already there by binding them to the same signifierideology works in this purelysymbolicmomentby makingavailable a signifier But what remainsoutside this of anxieties. 1990). that is to say."For the "eclipse" of the subjectbefore the Thing -what has been (mis)perceivedas the subject's"death"-is strictly equal to his all substantial thevoid thatremains is precisely after emergence. ofthe presence "reality" to what correlative monsters whichphantasmagorical strictly appear is therefore in which the of Modern-Age-subjectivity. say.227.The source of thiscustomary content confoundingon the "death of the "death of man.64 OCTOBER both to express and to be recontainedin what looks like a conflict withother formsof biologicalexistence. serving something. movementthat bears his name: Peronismwas a profoundlyheterogeneousmovement. of anamorphotic By subject The emergenceof the emptysurfaceon indexes the subject. In this sense.43. it is the mode in which the subject of the Enlightenmentacquires its impossiblepositiveexistence. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . fromthe ideological domain proper. since the"subject" is takenaway. oftheVisible Let us recall.the wayJuan Peron "held together"the 25.can no longer symbolic is theconstitutive tradition of substantial This cutting-off gestureof the Enlightthat is to is thesubject enment. nonmeaning The Subject oftheEnlightenment is ultimately This the horrifying absorption of the to of that fascination presence the shark itself-its enjoypertains power the vel reformulate for it." epoch Heidegger calls "the advent can of texture "substance"(the "big Other" qua the symbolic tradition) symbolic mandate. This content downloaded from 192. the of overlooks monsters on the that focuses "ideological meaning" analysis of vessel as a before fact that. of the correlate" the "objective stains.there was Peron functionedas a militarism.

and on his deathbed he announced that his murdererwas the same "black man" who had brought him to the central square of Nuremberg fiveyears before. The point is ratherthattoward the end of the eighteenthcentury.18 on Wed." an emptying. pedagogical. a young man appeared in the centralsquare of Nuremberg. then. he was found mortally wounded.psychological. Aftera few quiet years. speaks" with its "mechanical. of a few fragmentsof the Lord's prayer learned by heart and recited with grammatical errors. "subjectivization" of "man" qua substantial"person. To exemplifythis split between "subject" and "person. 1828. theme of a child excluded from human communitybecame the object of numerous literary and scientific texts:it staged in a pure. he was thesubject an ego. lacking the "depth" that defines someone as a person. the rumor that he was the Prince of Baden). This content downloaded from a sense. teaching him a few phrases on the way. freed fromall imaginary substitute. and medical researches. itwas awaited:preciselyas a surprise. doll-like gestures. On May 26." radical "evacuation. and of the enigmatic phrase "I want to become such a the identification withthe ego-ideal. Kaspar Hauser appeared. Kaspar arrived in time.was devoid of any positive features. until the day when he dressed him and took him to Nuremberg. "experimental"way the theoreticalquestion of how to distinguishin man the part played by culture from that played by nature. as the subject of the Enlightenmentat its purest. Although the sudden appearance of Kaspar Hauser provoked the sort of shock that one associates with a brutal encounter with a real that seems to interruptthe symboliccircuit of cause and effect. It is not only that he realized the mythof a child of royaloriginsabandoned in a wild place and thenfound at the age of adolescence (cf. quickly"humanized" himself. 1833. and became a celebrity-an objectof philosophical. unnatural gestures.the most surprisingthing about thisappearance was that." Kaspar's paternal zation. was the pure subject ($) prior to subjectivilures.and even of politicalspeculationabout his origin (was he the missingPrince of Baden?)." one only has to evoke one further figurein the series of legendary"monsters":Kaspar Hauser. knightas was my father." abrupt. as the very embodiment of the ideological This "Thing which problematicthat pertains to the project of Enlightenment. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .when he learned to speak "properly."Kaspar told his story:he had spent all his lifealone in a "dark cave" where a mysterious"black man" procured food and drink for him.Grimaces of theReal 65 entails a "Subject" and "human person" are strictly opposed. withstiff. He was entrustedto the Daumer family." he carried a piece of paper which bore his name-Kaspar Hauser-and the address of a captain of the Nurembergcavalry.227. Nor is it the fact that he patheticallyrealizes the mythof a hero saved by the animals who take care of him (the only objects in his "dark cave" were a couple of figuresof wooden the animals). in other words. on the afternoonof December 14. In his lefthand. (Even the "black man.43.) The Lacanian diagnosis of Kaspar can be succinctly put-he was the subject who had not been captured without by his image in the mirror.His entirelanguage consisted singularlydressed.

and were left the short.Therein consists conceived is thesubject himself.18 on Wed. Kaspar Hauser was not able to relate to his mirror did not he recognize "himself" in it-the same as with all monster image. In short. itsnegative.yetwhat theyinadvertently In with a monster. This is the way the Enlightenment project wrong: it wanted to pour out of the bathtuband to retain the the dirtywater of corrupted civilization threwout was healthy. This content downloaded from 192."It is that opens up the emptyspace (the "blank surthis very de-substantialization are face") onto which fantasies projected. had remained a "rescogitans.if one bears in mind the factthat. went man. can appear constitutive. on the contrary. the two "slopes. even with Descartes. he is.43. so to speak."a substantial"piece of reality. Only relatingsubject that maintainsits distance toward inner-worldly in monsters does this subject encounter the Thing that is his impossible as Thing.the entity. before Kant philosophershad thatwe can and had affirmed doubted the capacityof man to knowthe infinite by means of improper metaphors. intoan amorphous turns The subject is the nonsubstance.the pure dirty they precisely ego that to the is monster a of the gives body surplus that "subject Enlightenment" of mirror circle the the vicious relationship." figures. and the void of the inaccessibleThing filledout with phantasmagorias through which the transphenomenalThing enters the stage of phenomenal presence. escapes Consequently. Frankenstein's or creature to the elephant real "fictitious. terms. he exists only as a nonsubstantialselfobjects. gets our we shift when Holbein's on stain where. perspective morphotic and losesitsconsistency and perceive it "as it is" (as a skull).66 OCTOBER Kaspar Hauser was thrownstraightinto the symbolicnetwork. In Kantian therealwaysremains of the Thing-in-itself.227.because of the inaccessibility is never "all.bypassingthe thatenables one to experienceoneselfas a "person.according to Lacan. from Dr. Ambassadors. Of course. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The subject and the Thing are not two entitiesbut ratherthe two sides. the a substantial"res.""reality."one can easily grasp the ultimatesense of ego is an object. It desubstantializesthe subject which." of one and the same The subjectis "the same" as the Thing.reality is is never closed. prior to the Kantian turn.But Kant adds only conjecture the infinite to it the crucial twist:man's finitudeis not the simple finitudeof an innerof the universe. is thereforesomethingextremelydangerous to approach. unspoiled naturalchild-ego.where monstersemerge. for if one in-itself like the anatoo close to it.The knowing totality worldlyentitylost in the overwhelming (the "I think")that is not subject is a substancelesspoint of pure self-relating correlativeto "world" as such and "part of the world" but is. Kant's transcendentalturn. as we know it. all remaining reality stain. phenomenal reality. thereforeontologically "World." The black space of the Thingonly withinthe horizon of the subject'sfinitude." imaginary(mis)recognition As is known fromhis story." itscircle a gaping hole in constituted. there can be no black hulk at the back of the stage. equivalent-the monster the paradox of the Lacanian mathem $ O a. "world" itselfloses its ontologicalconsistency.

phantasmagoricalmonsters negativity as the void of the self: "This night.Kaspar Hauser). pp.) atteststo his effortto articulateclearlythis foldingback wherein the subject encountersits own reverse. What appeared. This is homologous to the reversalfromthe matterqua substance that curves space into In its most radical matterqua curvatureof the space in the theoryof relativity. Hegel'sRecollection (Albany: State University 1985). Quoted fromD. butthisdreaded "void"--in horror dimension. This content downloaded from the limitthat impeded the subject's self-expression In ceived as the subject himself. etc.227. and the Reception of Lacan. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." fromthe Thing in himself.18 on Wed.Grimaces of theReal 67 trace of its absence withinthe symbolicnetwork-Lacan's obsession with topological models of "folded" space in the last years of his teaching (the Mdbius strip. Verene.27 other words. phantasmagorical here-pure all around it. of New York Press. condemned to a inability desperate insofar as it to conceive the subject this falls short continues void-all solipsistic as substance.43. Postmodernism discards the illusion of this perspective. presentations. Hegel radicalized Kant by as equivalent to the very conceiving the void of the Thing (its inaccessibility) where the the defines that place subject. suddenly before it."'26 To return to The Screamfor the last time: one can say that the standard of a monadic subject. the "subject" is nothing vacui. Far from displaying the subject's horror at the prospect of losing himself. see Joan Copjec. As to this notion of the subject." October 49 (Summer 1989).the inverted8. 'The OrthopsychicSubject: Film Theory 27. modernistreading that conceives it as the manifestation with the his to establish contact at world. 53-71. which is to say that he assumes a minimaldistance towardsit. here shoots a bloody head-there another whiteshape. the subject simply fears himself. pp.the inner of identified is thus pure emerge is night self-in exists that nature. If the ultimate"social mediation"of the monsterfigureis thus to be sought in the social impact of capital-this terrifying force of "deterritorialization" whichdissolvesall traditional("substantial")symbolic linksand marksthe entire social edifice with an irreducible structuralimbalance-then it is no accident that "monsters"appear at every break that announces a new epoch of capital -its rise (Frankenstein. his constitutivevoid. and just so disappears.the scream is thereforethe is inaugurated. within is now permodernism.through the scream. Ph. as a positiveentitywhose adequate expression is hindered. its transformation into imperialism 26. will become the subject shrinksfromwhat is "in him more than himself. postmodernism passes fromthe "emptied subject" to the subject qua emptiness of the substance. 7-8. very gesture by means of which the dimension of subjectivity That which.

the emergence of "postindustrial" society (the revival of the motifof the "living dead"). Have of ideology criticism we not thus also delineated the contours of a postmodern us to assume such a foreigngaze upon one's own ideological field. a piece of reality.sinceitis alwayscontingent transformation of the tortured on a specific culturalspace. like the forehead-protuWhile anamorphoticdistortions ambiguity. an anamorphotic grimace. thatinstructs and changes wherebythe ideological anamorphosisloses itspowerof fascination into a disgustingprotuberance? This content downloaded from 192. The "anamorphotic" within a a cultural such fascination that can exert particular space-the body of the in the of the neck women of of feet female China.227. protraction crippling the Padaung of Burma-can evoke nothingbut disgustin a foreigngaze." The boundary that separates beauty fromdisgust is forthatreason farmore unstablethanitmayseem.18 on Wed. the be noted that phallophanymay also occasion an effect of VirginiaWoolf's face makes clear. This structural imbalance is inscribedinto the veryformof must also berance of the "elephant man. elevated to the level of the Thing") could be rendered as "the sublime is an into which the real of desire is inscribedby means of object.refinedsublimity is therefore thatof a "grimaceof reality" The statusof sublimity ultimately Lacan's definitionof the sublime ("an object (as Lacan puts it in Television).43. 15 May 2013 13:32:56 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .68 OCTOBER (the elephant man." oftenfunction of sublimebeauty. as repellenthorror.namely its radical of reality. the phantom of the opera).

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