This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Ariella Azoulay Gabriel Riera Bernie Lubell Kwai-Cheung Lo Alfredo Carrasquillo-Ramírez Kirsten Hyldgaard Tracy McNulty Aïm Luski Lyat Friedman Yannis Stavrakakis Manya Steinkoler on Hiroshima & Visibility / Badiou & The Age of Poets / The Etiology of Innocence / Face-Off / Puerto Rico & Hysteria / Sartre & Lacan / Klossowski / Horizontal Camera # 1 / Freud’s Project / Laclau & Lacan / What a Woman Wants to Date
the journal of culture and the unconscious
r architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for architecture a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is for amour a is for is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (n r architecture a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is for amour a is for anticipation a is for aesthetics anticipation a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor a is for antipathy a a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is for amo a is for ardor a is for antipathy a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is for (not)all a is for a is for art is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for anticipation a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor a is for antipathy a is for alienation a is for a s a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for a is for object a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a i s a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for a is for (not)all a is for analysis a : a journal of culture and object aanamorphosis aa is for a is foraart for object a a is foris for architecture anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorph object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is is for a is for is for anxiety is (not)all a is for a a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is is for architecture a is for art a is for ana s for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is for amour is for art a is a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is for amour a is for a is for anxiety a is for amour a is for anticipation a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor a is for antip the unconscious tion a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor anticipation a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor a is for antipathy a a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architec vol. I #1 (2000) hy a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a a is for anamorphosis for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for for anxiety a is for ob a is for art a is is r anamorphosis a is for anxiety a object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for a is a a is for (not)all a is for art a is is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for ana f o r art a is for analysis a architecture a is is for art a is is for architecture a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is JULIET FLOWER MACCANNELL a is for architecture analysis a This journal responds to the for amour a is for anticipation a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor for anamorphosis a i EDITOR s dedicated to exploring how art, politics, and other formal expresis for need for a cultural analysis a is for antipathy a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is for (not)all a anxiety a is for objec sions––“culture”––solve and provoke the dilemmas that the unconarchitectur that is aesthetically, psychoana- is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is is for (not)all a is for DEAN MACCANNELL scious indexes. for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a e a is for for art a is is lytically, and otherwise is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for CO-EDITOR anamorph architecture a is for e publish work from artists and thinkers who confront the way informed. Contributors to this (not)all a is for a is for art a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is osis a is is for analysis a is concepts are linked to praxis and to parapraxis. Engagement a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for for anxiety first issue are practicing for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for anxiety a is for amou with Freud’s and Lacan’s work is particularly encouraged. a is for anxiety a is for artists, writers, philosophers, art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a for anticipation a is a a is for (not)all ADVISORY BOARD object a a psychoanalysts, and students is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for aesthetics a is for ob ur group holds an annual symposium. To be included on our art a is fA is for SINKWAN CHENG, N EW YORK is for of sublimation in its myriad architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a a is for ardor a is announcement list, please write us: firstname.lastname@example.org nalysis a is for AMY JAMES, BERKELEY a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a (not)all a antipathy a is manifestations . . . anxiety a is for GARY MCMANUS, B ERKELEY is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis is for a is alienation a is for au anti-Oedipus a CHRIS MEYER, IRVINE & B ERKELEY for art a a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is is for object a is ation a is for ALLAN REGENSTREIF, SAN FRANCISCO isis a is for for (not)all a is for Ais for architecture a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety (not)all a is for a is fo (a) or alien a is for a is for amour a is for anticipation a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is ardor a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is architectur ARMANDO SILVA, BOGOTÁ or art a is for e a is for is a publication of the California a is for antipathy a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is for (not)all a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (no for alienist a is is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is a is for a is for art a is is for architecture a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is for amour a is for anticipa anamorph Psychoanalytic Circle. for artwork a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor a is for antipathy a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object osis a is special thanks to SUNY Buffalo’s We wish to thank the Office of the Chair, is for architecture a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is for amour a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for ob pus a is for Joan Copjec and Sue Feldman of for anxiety is for anxiety a the journal Umbr(a) for their assis -a is for Program in Landscape Architecture at the for anticipation a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor a is for antipathy a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety s for Autre a is tance and co-operation in the cre -object a a University of California, Davis, for supporting a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is for (not)all a is for a is for art for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a isis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety analysis a is for ation of this journal a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a i is for this first issue of the journal anxiety a is for for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is fA is for at a is for analysis a is for alienist a i anti-Oedipus a object a a is a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a anxiety a is for artwork a is for anti-Oedipus a is for anticipation a is for anxiety a is for alien a is for Autre a i COVER ART ation a is for for (not)all a is is for art a is is for architecture a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is art a is for analysis a is for alienist a is for anxiety a is for artwork a is for anti-Oedipus a is for anticipation a i or alien a is for for a is for art for amour a is for anticipation a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor anxiety a is for alien a is for Autre a is for art a is for analysis a is for alienist a is for anxiety a is for artwork a i “LACANLAVERA” BY VICTOR MARIO ZABALLA or art a is for a architecture a is for antipathy a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is for (not)all a anti-Oedipus a is for anticipation a is for anxiety a is for alien a is for Autre a is for art a is for analysis a is for alie for alienist a is a is for art a is is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is a is for anxiety a is for artwork a is for anti-Oedipus a is for anticipation a is for anxiety a is for alien a is for A VICTOR ZABALLA IS A SAN FRANCISCO-BASED VISUAL ARTIST AND MUSICIAN for artwork a is for analysis a for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a a is for art a is for analysis a is for alienist a is for anxiety a is for artwork a is for anti-Oedipus a is for anticipa ORIGINALLY FROM CUERNAVACA, M EXICO. H IS WORK HAS BEEN EXHIBITED pus a is for is for anxiety is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for a is for anxiety a is for alien a is for Autre a is for art a is for analysis a is for alienist a is for anxiety a is for artw WORLD-WIDE. is for anxiety a a is for amour (not)all a is for a is for art a is is for architecture a is for art a is for analysis a is a is for anti-Oedipus a is for anticipation a is for anxiety a is for alien a is for Autre a is for art a is for analysis s for Autre a is a is for for anxiety a is for amour a is for anticipation a is for aesthetics a is for object a for alienist a is for anxiety a is for artwork a is for anti-Oedipus a is for anticipation a is for anxiety a is for alien THIS PAINTING REFERS TO THE MEXICAN “SKELETAL” PORTRAIT (“UNA analysis a is for anticipation a a is for ardor a is for antipathy a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a for autre A is for art a is for analysis a is for alienist a is for anxiety a is for artwork a is for anti-Oedipus a i CALAVERA”) THAT HONORS DEATH-IN-LIFE AND LIFE-IN-DEATH. anxiety a is for is for is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anticipation a is for anxiety a is for alien a is for autre A is for art a is for analysis a is for alienist a is for anxie anti-Oedipus a aesthetics a is anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art is for artwork a is for anti-Oedipus a is for anticipation a is for anxiety a is for alien a is for Autre a is for art a i A ROUGH ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF ZABALLA’S PORTRAIT OF LACAN WOULD BE: ation a is for for object a a a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is analysis a is for alienist a is for anxiety a is for artwork a is for anti-Oedipus a is for anticipation a is for anxiety “SKELETALACAN” or alien a is for is for ardor a for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is is for architecture a is for art for alien a is for Autre a is for art a is for analysis a is for alienist a is for anxiety a is for artwork a is for anti-Oed or art a is for is for antipathy a is for alienation a is for autre a is for object a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for anxiety a is for amour a is for anticipation a is for a is for anticipation a is for anxiety a is for alien a is for autre a is for analysis a is for architecture a is for alienist a is a is for analysis a is for architecture a is foranamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for aesthetics a is for object a a is for ardor a is for antipathy a is for alienation a is anamorphosis a is for anxiety a is for object a a is for (not)all a is for a is for art a is for analysis a is for architec
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a journal of culture and the unconscious
ARCHITECTURE––LACAN SAYS THAT CULTURAL PRODUCTIONS––IN ALL THEIR MANIFESTATIONS REFER TO THIS: EMPTY PACE.. (a) THIS ISSUE IS DEVOTED TO DRIVES. -. CIVILIZATION & ITS DISCONTENTS..R S I ELIGION. Editor San Francisco.Juliet Flower MacCannell. WHAT SURROUNDS THE REAL IS OUR COMMON BURDEN ––DRIVING CULTURE & ITS BREAKDOWNS. June 2000 . à toute vitesse. (A) WAY BEYOND THE PLEASURE & REALITY PRINCIPLES / WHERE THE ILLUSION OF SHELTER FROM THE REAL BREAKS DOWN. ART. T IS OUR COMMON FATE TO MISS/RECOGNIZE THE ENCOUNTER WITH THE REAL.
(a) 1 f al l 20 0 0 O N A R T • A N A LY S I S • P O L I T I C S Ariella Azoulay Tel-Aviv You Didn’t See Anything in Hiroshima Alain Badiou After the “Age of Poets” Etiology of Innocence From Asia to Hollywood and Back Puerto Rican Hystoire The Subject as an Ill-Timed Accident Klossowski. ce soir Horizontal Camera No. 1 Freud’s Other Drive Edward Teller and the Mach I Car Laclau with Lacan What Does A Woman Want To Date? 1 10 34 47 59 67 81 104 108 121 132 154 Gabriel Riera Princeton Bernie Lubell San Francisco Kwai-Cheung Lo Hong Kong Alfredo Carrasquillo San Juan Kirsten Hyldgaard Aarhus Tracy McNulty Ithaca Aïm Luski Tel Aviv Lyat Friedman Tel Aviv Brad Zukovic Los Angeles Yannis Stavrakakis Essex Manya Steinkoler New York .
1999) : on the Drives. Additional articles were selected to complement the Symposium papers. April 2-3. .Many of the articles in this inaugural issue of ( a ) w e r e presented at the first annual Symposium of the California Psychoanalytic Circle (San Francisco. politics and the arts.
transform the “being-there” into spectacle. disfigured. And we speak in it to the extent that we hear. the A (a) Fall 2000 • 1 . ––Jean-François Lyotard spatial attitude towards horror stands at the basis of the ethics of the modern view. It is a game without an author. shot.You Didn’t See Anything in Hiroshima Ariella Azoulay Bar Ilan University Camera Obscura School of Art Tel Aviv For us. to invite interiority to the surface of the screen—the screen as body and the body as screen. to penetrate into the body (corpse) and allow it to appear. There is no end to it. of the Holocaust. This spectacle is a “singular phenomenon of distance. of a massacre. There is no superfluous testimony. beaten. a language game always and first of all means somebody speaking. close as it may be. dying––is the very heart of spectacle in the public sphere. of a conflagration. to see more. Its purpose is to bring the spectator permanently close to the event. There is no limit to testifying. mutilated.” 2 On the threshold of the event. to persevere in this so that the distance between the spectator and “what happened there” will be maintained forever and feed the spectacle of the body on display. In other words: speak as hearers. But there are language games in which listening is the important thing. The body—wounded. if one may put it like this. and not as authors at all. The spectators are desirous of seeing. to let the survivor––of an accident. in which the rule applies to the listener: This is the game of justice. 1 It is the object of a desire to see.
which lasted until 1952. this sentence cannot be left trapped only in the principle of the impossibility of representing horror. The atom bomb that the Americans dropped on Hiroshima wiped Hiroshima off the face of the earth.5 An effort was made to leave the signs isolated and mute. traces which have been denied the right to appear. or in the principle of “differend” between whoever was there and whoever wasn’t. like the heroine of the film. This sentence expresses a state of “differend. from which lessons could be derived and an indictment drawn up. During the period of American occupation. get to the bottom of each and every exhibit. to put it in a different light. to prevent their transformation into comparative information which could be conceptualized. censorship and other control activities prevented the signs from turning into units of meaning and prevented their assimilation into tissues of personal. scientific or historical story. and on the other hand the game of art. during several years of occupation that silenced the witnesses and rendered the signs mute.” However. You didn’t see anything in Hiroshima. to say something about the event. who were also forced to remain isolated and mute. This silencing had one clear purpose: to prevent any museumification of the event. Is it possible to remember outside the regime of the view? Is it possible to create a commemorative community that doesn’t have a common public space in which the horror and the body that bears its traces must appear as spectacle? I would like to present Marie Ange Guilleminot’s project “Hiroshima Collection” as just such a possibility of remembering. see the traces of the horror in body and space.” 3 the opening sentence of the film Hiroshima Mon Amour. public. verbal.” an unbridgeable gap between two language games: on the one hand the game of testimony. visual. to prevent any collecting. you are distinctively the addressee of the sentence “You didn’t see anything in Hiroshima. During the first few years after the destruction of Hiroshima. formalized.e. because there is nothing to see in Hiroshima. can continue to be said.spectator is very close but also far enough away so that the sentence “You didn’t see anything in Hiroshima. to manufacture an event in which “the event” is endowed with a different visibility. What the bomb failed to obliterate was obliterated later. The only place where some of the signs appeared. displayed and studied. One cannot help but see in it the traces of destruction as well as traces of the obliteration of the traces of destruction. 4 which is played by whoever wasn’t there but wants to see and show. as a small number of photographs testify. You can visit the historical museum in Hiroshima. Why didn’t you see anything in Hiroshima? Because you cannot see. But the passing time had already (a) Fall 2000 • 2 . classification and decoding of the signs (testimonies). i. become familiar with every item inside it. 6 was in the bodies of the survivors. It took almost a decade until they were allowed to speak. the signs/survivors (the surviving signs and the survivors that signified) were prohibited from speaking. which is played by whoever was there. but still.
a life which can be saved. A body which can be healed. “You didn’t see anything in Hiroshima” because the view and what has been given to it were obliterated in Hiroshima.e. a memory which can be given space—these things do not remain forever. awaiting their day. with respect to the possibility of intervention and rescue in the present when it still had a certain amount of future. be it technological. They can turn into an incurably diseased body. to know. Several years later. to recognize.” She didn’t see anything in Hiroshima. She is responding to someone else’s view.”7 It is hard not to think of Marie Ange Guilleminot’s project in the context of Alain Resnais’ film Hiroshima Mon Amour. and with Hiromi Tsuchida. an image that conforms to the display showcase awaiting it in the museum of history. with the (im)possibility of seeing something in Hiroshima. but from a visible silenced state to a more visible state. in the cold war.” and the model of relations which Marie Ange Guilleminot would like to develop with Hiromi Tsuchida in Hiroshima. after Hiroshima underwent museumification. It is a relinquishing of the pretension or desire to become an autonomous subject of the view or of knowledge with respect to the object Hiroshima. a forgotten memory. Her view is directed toward what Hiromi Tsuchida has made (a) Fall 2000 • 3 . a French artist. in the construction of a new world order. a life snuffed out by death. But it is also hard not to see the difference between the model of relations which develops between the hero and heroine of the film along the axis of “You didn’t see anything in Hiroshima. that of the photographer. i. a Japanese photographer from Hiroshima.buried beneath it whole series of testimonies with respect to the present which had turned into past. that she can recapture the position of an addresser. Marie Ange Guilleminot’s “Hiroshima Collection” project recedes from the arena of public spectacle in order to propose other modes of memory and of exchange that are not mediated by the (autonomous) view. to enter into the economy of the mangling view which makes memory dependent on the spectacle of the body which bears the traces. But the visible became spoken within the distinctive framework of an image with a purpose: in disrupting the silence. military or advertising power. Marie Ange Guilleminot’s “Hiroshima Collection” testifies to her relinquishing of any pretension to see. That’s a fact. and it is only from this point. political. “The visual is a procedure that says ‘reception perfect’. in the distribution of power in the world. as something spoken. as the addressee of a different view/énoncé/imperative. in the role of the French actress who arrives in Hiroshima to take part in the film. An image which constitutes packaged information about what happened. in the role of the Japanese architect. with Hiroshima. an image which is nothing other than what the French critic Serge Daney describes as the optical confrontation of a power procedure. with Guilleminot. you didn’t see anything in Hiroshima because the image didn’t go from an invisible to a visible state. Guilleminot’s point of departure is the clothes documented by Hiromi Tsuchida in his book “Hiroshima Collection. She can only see by responding. frozen in their tracks.
as action taken from the position of an addressee of a call. Her view has no wish for a white canvas upon which to impress its imprint. action which becomes addressed only by virtue of being responsive. at the most. a potential collection that was prepared not at all for display by a specific community—Hiroshima’s inhabitants—and has turned into an actual museal collection as a result of its contact with a different community (America) and technology (the atom bomb). in effect.Guilleminot has chosen several articles of clothing out of Hiromi Tsuchida’s book and reconstructed them. in order to divert the view to new territory—the territory of the gesture. but of their manner of preparation in connection to a hypothetical model which they may or may not have had. like the transmission of a story by a storyteller. chose to tell their story as it had been told by Hiromi Tsuchida. utilizing the vestiges of craft as indicators of time and space: Hiroshima Collection. She is not trying to erase from the (a) Fall 2000 • 4 . the transmission of the seen includes the gesture of transmission. Within the framework of this territory. Guilleminot is not seeking after the original author of the garment as énoncé. A. It is not a reconstruction of the model from which the clothes were sewed. has assimilated itself to it. Her view has attached itself to a different view. as he had heard it from the victims’ families. In the reconstructive act. for now it turns to you and puts you in the position of an addressee. The garment as énoncé.8 The territory of the gesture makes it possible to interpret Guilleminot’s action as one of response. Tetsuo Kitabayashi. M. Takeyo Hatamura and Yukitoshi Masuda and. She reconstructed the clothes of Norihiko Sasaki.visible for her. a white canvas out of which it can reconstruct someone else’s énon cé/garment.
in a single historic moment. from mouth to ear. while maintaining its standing as one énoncé in a vortex of others. from body to body. The pattern will be on sale in the museum shop. In effect. (a) Fall 2000 • 5 . i. not its original as prepared by a specific tailor or factory. enunciates it.e. in Benjamin’s sense).garment-as-énoncé all traces of its acts of enunciation. to be sanctified. the only testimony to its existence. This story (as experience. Thus one becomes the spokesperson of the garment as énoncé. from hand to hand. inviting you to reconstruct the garment from it. which she has transformed into a type of original pattern. to sign it as one would an énoncé of memory. its only measure. the signature seals the énoncé and prevents its transmission. but specifically to reconstruct those acts of enunciation which linked. and the énoncé is presented as the authoritative view or as knowledge. takes part in its transmission from one person to the next. to sign it––rather than to make it an act of exerting authorship––in other words. She reconstructs the garment. but the concrete traces of interpretation of an original. When the signer becomes the author. the community that was erased and the community which erased it. You are invited to reconstruct an article from the potential collection which became an actual collection. which doesn’t enable whoever signs the énoncé to become one with its author. the transmission of the experience by means of it. to remanufacture the gap between the pattern and the finished product to which it leads. You are invited to preserve this énoncé from seeking for itself a public space in which the desire to see/to be seen turns into the engine of memory. you are invited to become part of an invisible community responsible for transmitting the garment as énoncé. It is intended for you. to become the original.
” to say. no museal display show-case. She invites you to reconstruct the garment from the pattern. a private gesture of response to the imperative to remember. devoid of a view. worn collar––appeals to you for confirmation. You will say that you’ve been there. though it itself is unsigned and unfinished. It is a transmission of savoir-faire. that you’ve seen it. knowing that this space has no mirror. The woman’s torn jacket on display in the museum––a hole in the shoulder pad. into a picture which puts you in the position of an addressee whose only function is to confirm the seen by a “yes” or “no. “reception perfect. on the anniversary of Hiroshima’s destruction. to wear it upon your body once a year. Your action is what it is. is being transmitted in an intimate manner devoid of words. The public space offered to you is devoid of showcases inside which the image of you wearing the white garment can obtain the optical confirmation: “reception perfect. implemented through an object that is there to be signed. but in order to resist the transformation of the world into a surface. no glass-sided show-case inside which images flicker under a blue light.”9 You are invited to wear the garment and display it in the public space. on August 6th. you will say what needs to be said and help inflate the museum’s ratings. which exists in the connection with a community devoid of a view and devoid of visibility because the partnership (a) Fall 2000 • 6 . The manual reconstructive act is not undertaken in order to restore the aura to the act of manual labor.” Your action will not merge into a memorial ceremony.which Marie Ange Guilleminot is passing on through her reconstruction of a garment. Marie Ange Guilleminot hasn’t issued an invitation to see. torn sleeve. your response to the story as experience.
the aura of an object that can never appear. When there’s nothing left to see it is permitted to touch. that in Hiroshima the view crashed. The remnant isn’t the spectacle of the horror. It is impervious to every view. it testifies to the eradication of the view. And just because there’s nothing to see. ostensibly eyewitness testimony to the atom bomb. You are wearing a garment which has touched death. not by means of rational discussion but by means of a blind. to ascertain for herself that indeed she is standing before eyewitness testimony. The obligation not to erase it is not dependent on the presentation of this horror as spectacle. which is the reconstructed reflection of death. no reason to preserve it like the evidence from a crime scene. one that may be replaced by another each day. 10 It is a quiet public sphere in which private individuals coalesce into a community that is performing a political act. On the contrary. so that nothing is left of it except. the aura. There is no need to protect it from casual passersby. an object that exists no longer. paradoxically. The stone that survived the atom bomb no longer hides anything. There is no longer any reason to fear that the seen might disclose its unseen side. After it there is nothing.among its members does not turn into a display in the public sphere. intimate. You didn’t see anything in Hiroshima. The garment functioned like a camera. an object that will always remain an absence. The object of the view has been completely captured from the pilot’s cockpit. which has changed from an external covering for the body. including the eradication of testimonies. It may be touched. that in Hiroshima the necessary distance for maintaining the view collapsed in destruction. The signs in the museum seem to express a fear of a state in which the spectator might notice that there’s nothing to see. The remnant is what cannot be erased or gotten rid of in any event. Even though there’s a museum and it is full. You didn’t see anything in Hiroshima. they explicitly invite her to touch. Through the apertures of this camera––in the form of a décolletage. there’s nothing to see in Hiroshima. it has survived everything. Therefore they don’t prohibit touching the items on display. It is not (a) Fall 2000 • 7 . Numerous signs scattered about the museum explain to the viewer what she’s seeing. into an accessory that has impressed upon the body both the imprint of destruction and the imprint of survival. It is the seen and the unseen together. Hiroshima is the place you must go to see what it looks like when there’s nothing to see.11 This image is the other side of the mushroom cloud image of Hiroshima. to every contact. But the museum is trying to conceal the fact that there’s nothing to see. its remnant which cannot be erased. But more than this testimony testifies to the atom bomb. The body has turned into the image of the garment. visor or sleeve––the blazing light of the bomb penetrated the body and imprinted an image on it. burned it into the skin. anonymous act meant to evade the political and the instrumental. What is there to see in Hiroshima? In Hiroshima the necessary distance for maintaining the view was completely eliminated. A stone that survived lies on a cushion. You are wearing a garment which served sometimes like a barrier against death.
just as the photographic image has been snatched from its object. Maybe not suddenly. I didn’t try to manufacture an énoncé of my own about Hiroshima. which places another in the position of addressee. but by transmitting the remnant.by dispensing the spectacle that the obligation to remember is met. Neither are you invited to reconstruct it in its mutilated state in order to feel its nearness to death. by creating the conditions for its appearance. as an event transmitted from one person to the next. your body will recoil from contact with it. you are invited to remain alone in your clothing. This garment––which you have sewed yourself in response to the invitation. “You didn’t see anything in Hiroshima” says the reproof. alone to yourself. The defined pattern of memory is a sort of meeting between a personal story and a historical date. (a) Fall 2000 • 8 . using a purchased pattern––stinks of death. but Marie Ange Guilleminot’s proposal seemingly rebuts: “I didn’t ask to see anything in Hiroshima. which remains an addressee while being an addresser. which by its essence is to be replaced by another. in order to remember it silenced. to sign the énoncé and transmit it onwards. which is effected through the agency of a scarred and burnt body that is exposed in all its intimacy and turns into the carrier of protest due to the sign placed upon it. no reflection of yourself in the mirror. I didn’t try to understand. as it was experienced. I didn’t look for testimonies. a temporary addition. knowing you are not alone in this garment. which indicates the date of the event. You will join one piece to another until the garment appears out of them. usually in defined formats such as forge a connection between the interiority of the bearers of the testimony and the model of authenticity into which they are invited to empty this interiority. lacking a view. I didn’t cast any doubt. You will compel the white to give up any pretense of producing an original. It is the remnant that’ll never leave. immersing yourself in the work. and to give this signature its proper place: a signature which doesn’t seal the énoncé or fix it under its authority. You will cut the cloth carefully. from mouth to ear. from new materials. I didn’t propose identifying with it. It is not in order to forget the event that the position of being the author of an énoncé/picture of Hiroshima is renounced. but exactly the opposite. from hand to hand. Suddenly. as it happened. I didn’t come to tell Hiroshima about itself. which transmits someone else’s story. A memory that exists without a public space in which the horror is allowed/forbidden to be written. in the position of one who in turn will be asked to respond. I didn’t come to interrogate survivors. You will wear it upon your body. All the same. You will reconstruct it in white cloth. I came to add a signature to Hiroshima as a monument.” I didn’t seek to undress witnesses. with no visual recompense. which declares its work to be unfinished. You are invited to wear a garment which has been snatched from death. Its nearness to death isn’t visible. You don’t need any proof. Maybe few minute later. but one at the margins of the énoncé. an identification tag. and yet you’re aware of it. force it to respond to the experience of reconstruction. I didn’t collect information. You can’t get rid of the smell. like a silenced sign.
Video Documentation: Table 1 Mark Seltzer terms this public sphere pathological. Hiroshima in History and Memory. Hiroshima Art Document Project. 1998. gesture and act. by the Japanese architect to the Frenchwoman who has arrived in Hiroshima. described their project as expressing their fear that there might be no visual traces left of the horror of Hiroshima. The progression is clear. See his Serial Killers. curator Yukiko Ito. the American army confiscated covertly made films and prohibited the possession of photographic equipment and products.Didn’t they notice at the end of the war that people who came back from the battlefield were mute? Not richer . Cantz.NOTES Photo credits Marie Ange Guilleminot.” 1936.. Benjamin describes the history of technical reproduction. which makes it possible for people who share the same faith to commune. Hiroshima Collection. 2001.” as Benjamin puts it––yet all the same it preserves the structure of transmitting experience by motion. Dower’s article “The Bombed: Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japanese Memory.” in M. which manufactures a disembodied image projected on paper within the framework of an economy of images of the same kind. 6 During the initial years of occupation. On the implementation of censorship during the American occupation. Benjamin claims that we have been deprived of the ability “to share experience with others. With Guilleminot the story has no storyteller and no words––since no story can be transmitted any longer in words other than words which are already a “novel” or “journalistic information. London: Verso. from the reproduction of three-dimensional objects by means of casting and stamping. 4 The “game of art” in the traditional sense of displaying an object to the view. which employs a factual language of sight. Cambridge University Press. In this sense the game of art also approaches other discursive games such as the game of historical discourse. The practice which M. Guilleminot proposes in regard to Hiroshima reconstructs not only the garment but the story situation as well. Death’s Showcase.” Walter Benjamin.J.1998. 11 In his book War and Cinema. out of concern that this might be construed as an admission that dropping the bomb was an unworthy act. Paul Virilio compares all of Hiroshima to a darkroom in which the Japanese shades were written on the city’s walls. MIT Press. 1989. reproduction. A couple of Japanese painters named Maruki. 7 Serge Daney. 3 The famous sentence spoken. 8 In an essay on the storyteller. 2 In his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Technical Reproduction. see John W. or the language of statistics which quantifies and formalizes. (a) Fall 2000 • 9 . 9 In his essay on reproduction. 5 This control over information and the restrictions on collecting it contributed in a crucial way to the refusal of assistance to survivors. Further to Benjamin’s discussion of the aura.poorer in experience which can be transmitted. This article is from my forthcoming book. New York: Routledge. ed.. Hogan.” Benjamin discusses the loss of the work of art’s aura and its retreat to the portrait.” Documenta X–The Book. “The Storyteller. in the course of their love affair. “Before and after the image. 10 In a certain sense Guilleminot’s action can be seen as a contemporary echo of the patterns of Christian communion. who painted hundreds of survivors’ portraits. in this article I suggest considering the spectacle of the survivor’s body as the site in which the aura is reconstituted.. A. to reproduction over a surface––printing and photography.
I shall put forth this paradox: philosophy has not known until quite recently how to think in level terms with Capital. since it has left the field open to its most intimate point. . to writing just as to the last possible representatives of an a priori determination of experience. to obsession with Presence. It has not cared to recognize in a straightforward way the absoluteness of the multiple and the non-being of the bond. What has happened to philosophy for it to refuse with a shud der the liberty and strength a desacralizing epoch offered it? Alain Badiou. to doubt about its own legitimacy . to vain nostalgia for the sacred. . to the obscure dominance of the poem. Philosophy has left the “Cartesian meditation” incomplete by going astray in the aestheticization of willing and the pathos of com pletion. to literature. the destiny of oblivion and the lost trace. It has clung to language. or to the preserved place of a clearing of Being . . Manifesto for Philosophy (a) Fall 2000 • 10 . .
here. but instead into the cold discipline of the matheme. the Heat of Rhetoric t would have been an event. Un Coup de Dés I I.. what are the implications of reading Alain Badiou in English from the dated (outdated?) heat of the Manifesto’s rhetoric? Even this type of question seems out of place when approaching Badiou. as witnessed by the almost intractable L’Être et l’Événement. like always. A cold discipline coming once again to found philosophy and to carry on the unfinished “Cartesian meditation. because no other contemporary French philosopher seems to be as far removed from rhetoric as Badiou.” (a) Fall 2000 • 11 . belatedly. because for Badiou philosophy is “eternal” and second. And for us. First.Don du Poéme : Alain Badiou After “The Age of Poets” Gabriel Riera Princeton University UNE CONSTELLATION Froide d’oublier de désuétude Pas tant Qu’elle n’énumère Sur quelque surface vacante et supérieure L’heurt successif Sidéralement D’un compte total en formation Mallarmé. In fact. Displaced and almost out of place. Philosophy under Condition: the Coldness of the Matheme. today. Badiou’s thinking does not lead us into the paralogisms of language-games.
finally. refusing the poem. with rhetoric. nor of inventing the other (Derrida).4 Therefore. rather. However. to approach the Manifesto does not imply beginning with the matheme but. one in which the result would be entirely transmissible through knowledge. this “ideographic invention” does not come to “add” a new entity.And yet. The manifesto is the space of articulation and of suturing which are produced around the concept of “the end. language. have the so-called Sophists announced the “end” of philosophy? We (a) Fall 2000 • 12 . but on one of deduction.” The whole will oppose to the temptation of presence the rigor of the subtractive. and politics as religion (Communist Manifesto). Which genre or mode does the Manifesto belong to? This question is legitimate inasmuch as Badiou legislates limits and establishes borders between philosophy and the poem. a programmatic form of writing characteristic of artistic and political movements. as in L’Être et l’Événement. but one wonders if its rhetoric does not come too late to try to dispel the effects of a supposed “end” and to put the “Sophists” back where they belong. or art as positivist science (Zola). will be under the authority of that which Frege called an “ideography. even if for Badiou language is not a transcendental ground. the tone of this re-founded. my emphasis )2 If there is invention. Further. Its key operation is subtraction. “cold” philosophy is that of the passionate militant. It is not here a question of inventing new concepts (Deleuze). 6 The Manifesto is a text in which the very question of philosophy’s presentation is enacted without any explicit interrogation.3 An event can only be named in the moment when that to which it refers vanishes or disappears. are used in a diatribe against the Sophists. It could be said that the genre or mode of the manifesto is that of a certain type of suture. But this presentation can only emerge by an act of nomination: “l’événement—comme exclusif destin de présentification du vide—ne surgit que dans le paradoxe à ne pouvoir être nomée que dans l’évanouissement de ce à quoi il fait référence” ( EE: 245). whose most distinguished feature is its militant tone. but also for the Manifesto’s rhetoric. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have been prolific in the production of manifestoes.1 In L’Être et l’Événement. Badiou’s ontology revolves around the notion of the event: the presentation of the void. once re-established. Strangely. borders which. Badiou states: conceptually the experience will be that of a deductive invention. to approach Badiou from the perspective of the Manifesto’s rhetoric is to begin not with counting.a (EE: 35. the Manifesto for Philosophy is an accessible point of entry to Badiou’s thinking. but with calculating. in which being can only be said inasmuch as it is un-supposing to all presence and all experience.” The question of the “end” is crucial not only for Badiou’s project of de-suturing philosophy from its dependency on non-philosophical configurations.5 True. one taking the form “x as y”: art as politics (Futurist and Surrealist manifestoes). it is not on a conceptual level.
suffers. Heidegger is pointing to a notion of completion. Furthermore. it does not behave differently from those non-militant academic philosophical manuals that tend to group together heterogeneous styles of thinking without recognizing the singular “eventful [événementiel] production of truths.” truth. therefore. It takes its “style of presentation” from a militant tradition.” Under the heat of its militant rhetoric. it posits a program. entails a prolongation of the danger [Gehar]. there is an indication of an exhaustion pertaining to all the essential possibilities of metaphysics. the Manifesto for Philosophy does not seem to be very different from any other type of manifesto. an exhaustion of the possibilities of metaphysics. decline and impotence. But while Heidegger and some of the so-called Sophists submit the concept of “the end” to a radical displacement.8 It could be argued that Badiou is interpreting the “end of philosophy” from an apocalyptic perspective. while at the same time retaining some of Heidegger’s directives regarding “the completion of metaphysics. the Manifesto’s presentation makes evident that Badiou’s rhetoric is the venerable rhetoric of philosophy. philosophy’s “invariant. In Heidegger. it repeats a metaphysically dominated way of thinking. Marxism has become an academic discipline unable to produce events.need to go back to Heidegger to examine the misunderstandings generated by this notion: What is meant by the talk about the end of philosophy [Ende der Philosophie]? We understand the end of something all too easily in the negative sense as a mere stopping. in Badiou there is no ironic use of the discourse of the end. what we say about the end of philosophy means the completion of metaphysics [die Vollendung der Metaphysik]. and. In contrast. in the presentation of its program. as the lack of a continuation. according to Badiou. and even if he is well aware of mentioning and quoting other discourses of or on the end. In this sense. Badiou’s rhetoric is a question (a) Fall 2000 • 13 . Heidegger contests the ideas of stopping.” For Badiou the suturing of philosophy to non-philosophical fields produces “disasters. More than to an apocalyptic end.” that is. for this reason. in Heidegger’s terms. he inhabits and uses them to proclaim another end. This programmatic presentation is also shaped by two of the four generic procedures: art and politics. The rhetoric of the Manifesto is sutured and the stitches take the particular configuration of the “aestheticpolitical avant-garde. Nevertheless. And it does so for two reasons.” Moreover. denounces in block those against which it is attempting to clear a space of reflection. this notion of completion demands that the very concept of the end be interrogated.7 In Heidegger’s understanding of the “end of philosophy” there is no indication that philosophy is finished. perhaps even as decline and impotence. First. Badiou seems to be too dependent upon it and. rather. the militant ghosts of a non-inventive politics haunt the Manifesto since. ideas that are crucial not only for Badiou’s rhetoric but also for his historical schema.
it is a question here of a letter that seems to enjoy a certain exteriority. objectless truth of the matheme becomes the warm and reassuring knowledge of the militant’s rhetoric. as we will see below. if there is calculation. It is this very tension. a punctual use. there is a tension between the post-signifying demands of the-being-”faithfulto-the-event” and the classical philosophical signifying schema of conceptualization. should not one expect an orchestrated. when he makes explicit the protocols under which philosophy may have recourse to the poem. would fall under the jurisdiction of the Sophist. Or in other words. operates within a classical determination of rhetoric. of the poem of “the age of poets. Badiou’s project is not open to a reflection on language.). what is most striking about this project is that its coldness is a legacy of the modern poem. when he attempts to clear a new space to posit a post-Heideggerian articulation of the relation between philosophy and the poem. But should it not be this way. that is. Nevertheless. In the Manifesto this “ideographic” writing is rendered into a communicable. the conditions. in other words. regarding tropes. of rhetoric as calculation. since it puts philosophy under condition. Badiou’s “return to Plato” (although inflected by a post-Cantorian mathematics) remains faithful to a classic determination of rhetoric. is not this the only localizable example. and finally. if there is rhetoric as calculation in Badiou. at the same time. This systematic unfolding is accomplished through a “deductive invention” whose language is that of an “ideography” (Frege).9 The cold. between knowledge and truth. Everything happens. I will show that in strategic moments. the rigor and coldness of the matheme decrees that. that puts stress upon Badiou’s graphics of compossibility. transmissible knowledge. in Badiou’s rhetoric there is a slippage in the trope’s regulative assignation. calculated repetition of philosophy’s constitutive diatribe against the Sophists? Is it possible to posit a “return to Plato” without re-deploying the opposition between the conceptual personæ of the Philosopher and the Sophist? Or. etc. A strange conditioning and at the same time un-condi- (a) Fall 2000 • 14 . and this translation is done within the frame of a limited repertory of conceptual personae (the Philosopher and the Sophist) and topoi (possibility. But.of calculation. as if were? I will show how Badiou. the end. when Badiou attempts to secure the de-suturing of philosophy from the poem (an operation upon which the possibility of philosophy depends). according to the Manifesto’s rhetoric. In the Manifesto rhetoric is deployed in an attempt to “translate”—or one should say “trans-literate”—the unfolding of the eventful truth-production of the four generic procedures achieved in L’Être et l’Événement. the suture. a letter that obligates philosophy (it is “la lettre de l’être”). that is of Rhetoric. I claim. disorienting. tropes are simply understood as either an illustration or as an instrument in view of a determined finality. His philosophical decision: “Plato’s” matheme against “Wittgenstein’s” language-games. closes off any possible type of reflection on language since such a reflection. to a large extent. But. Moreover. the event. a certain margin of un-conditionality.” Everything takes place within the scope of the letter.
” I am interested in making explicit whether the “relation of the fourth type” succeeds in clearing a space in which the poem is exposed and. one that will interrupt the postmodern sophistry of the end of philosophy and allow for a re-articulation of the project of modernity. a space in which it is finally liberated from the hierarchical relation to which it has been submitted and subjected since Plato. inventive politics. is not achieved at once. since the very notion of “end” is left unthematized in the Manifesto for Philosophy and will only become fully thought in Conditions. I will follow here some of the avatars of this strange letter and. modernity is an unfinished project. at the same time.” since it is through this concept that Badiou both contests Heidegger’s “end of metaphysics” and calls for a “return to Plato.” if it is welded not to the poem but re-articulated to the matheme.11 The twist and turns of this “return to Plato” are manifold and its consequences are (a) Fall 2000 • 15 . Badiou’s remarkably provocative project seems to contest the notion of “the end of philosophy” and asserts that “philosophy is possible and necessary. 10 My reading will be guided by Badiou’s crucial deployment of the concept of the “age of poets. as well as the Heideggerian form that the dialogue between thinking and poetizing takes. particularly. Badiou’s philosophical decision concerns the very question of possibility and the possible.” What is remarkable in Badiou’s repetition of this by now common scene in contemporary philosophy is his claim of a “return to Plato. In other words. Philosophy is possible if it returns to its “roots. his resituating of philosophy.” From Nietzsche to Heidegger and beyond. and he seeks to articulate a crucial concept out of its incompleteness: an objectless subject.tioned type of letter. when it is involved in the re-articulation of the relationship between philosophy and poetry. the return to Plato is the return to a mathematical Plato. and the only way to re-found philosophy is through a repetition of the Platonic gesture. exposes to an absolute alterity.” and in order to re-establishing a space of possibility for philosophy. the matheme. A subject of the four generic procedures (the poem. My purpose here is to follow Badiou in his formulation of a “relation of the fourth type” between philosophy and the poem. But it also depends upon the question of grounding. and to see what can be learned from his attempt to remain “faithful” to the poem in a non-Heideggerian articulation. this century has been anti-Platonic. according to Badiou. An assertion of possibility that does not confront the tenets of the “end of philosophy” would have been untenable for Badiou. This return to Plato is made in the name of interrupting the “Sophist’s” proclamation of the “end of philosophy. and love). For Badiou. he must confront Heidegger’s narrative of the “end of metaphysics” and its basic corollary of the forgetting of Being. one coming to supplement an event. Therefore. including of his own philosophical project.” However. in doing so must activate the old and venerable “quarrel between philosophy and poetry. This confrontation aims at wresting the philosophical saying from the proximity to the poem and.
diverse. On the one hand, it aims to liberate what philosophical modernity has repressed—the matheme—but the scope of this repressive “philosophical modernity” is limited to a post-Nietzschean configuration. On the other, it must account for an articulation in which none of the non-philosophical fields will have dominion upon the others. There are two competing versions of the “return to Plato” in Badiou. The first one deploys the figure of the circle, of a circular economy of a return home, to the philosophically proper, which will assure an integral founding. In this version, the matheme will be privileged over the poem. The second version takes the figure of an ellipsis that interrupts any return to a proper ground: philosophy cannot be integrally founded. In this version the matheme and the poem will have to be conceived neither under the logic of opposition nor of compatibility: compossibility must be pushed to the limits of nomination. The “return” is achieved in terms of an axiomatic derived from Cantor and postCantorian mathematics. This is an axiomatic through which it is possible to deal with “being qua being,” with a pure multiplicity, since for Badiou the axiomatic of mathematics has a constitutive power with respect to philosophical logic. This privileging of mathematics lies in the matheme’s proximity to the disseminated nature of the pure multiple. Mathematics is the thinking of the multiple purely as ontology. Moreover, the “return” seeks to establish a new topology of the four generic procedures and to secure a place for philosophy as the guarantor of the “truths of the time.” In this sense, philosophy is endowed with the power to unfold what is left unthought by mathematics. Philosophy is possible only if the “free play” of the four generic procedures is operative. The key element needed for this “free play” to be operative is the de-suturing of philosophy from any generic procedure (non-philosophical fields) asserting dominion upon the others. Suturing to one of its conditions entails for philosophy the obstructing of truth’s circulation and, therefore, the impeding of compossibility: the impossibility of reading the historical situation. This reading, however, will not yield a meaning, since philosophy’s task is not to offer a positive incarnation of truth but, rather, to offer the empty “figure” of those truths produced in the nonphilosophical fields. Through the turns and detours of the “return to Plato,” the quarrel between the poem and the matheme is revisited.
II. Poetic Suture
Est ergo compatibilitas rerum, compossibilitas propositorum. Leibniz It is only on the route of the objectless subject that we can simultaneously reopen the “Cartesian meditation” and remain faithful to the assets of the Age of Poets, a specifically philosophic fidelity, thus a desutured one. Badiou, Manifesto
(a) Fall 2000 • 16
In the Manifesto for Philosophy Badiou introduces a key concept: “the age of poets.” For Badiou the “age of poets” is a philosophical category indicating the moment when philosophy sutures itself to only one of its conditions. By suture Badiou understands an interruption of philosophy’s ability to assure the compossibility [compossibilité] of the truths produced by the four generic procedures. Compossibility is a term indicating the quality of being compossible. Compossible is a classic philosophical term that refers to one thing’s possibility of existing alongside others at the same time. In Leibniz, the term expresses a relation in which two possible terms or events can coexist without the opposition of one of the terms entailing the suppression of the other. Badiou deploys this concept in order to explain the way in which philosophy relates to the non-philosophical fields: the possibility of philosophy’s existence is posited alongside the simultaneous co-existence of science, politics, love and poetry. The moment indicated by the expression the “age of poets” is not a moment decreed from the view point of the totality of an accomplished system, one soon to be transcended and transformed into a higher ground of knowledge. “Philosophy under condition” names a situation in which philosophy is no longer a field of knowledge. Philosophy deals with truths it does not produce—it operates under the effects of these truths. The conditionality of philosophy in Badiou names the possibility for thinking in the aftermath of Heidegger, once philosophy is disentangled from the poem and a new type of relation [dé-rapport]12 is established between philosophy and the poem:
If philosophy is, as I claim it to be, the configuration of the fact that its four generic conditions (the poem, the matheme, the political and love) are compossible in the eventful [événémentiel] form prescribing the truths of the time, a suspension of philosophy can result from the restriction or blockage of the free play required in order to define a regime of passage, or of intellectual circulation between the truth procedures conditioning philosophy. The most frequent cause of such a blockage is that instead of constructing a space of compossibility through which the thinking of time is practiced, philosophy delegates its functions to one or another of its conditions, handing over the whole of thought to one generic procedure. Philosophy is then carried out in the element of its own suppression to the great benefit of that procedure. ( MP: 61; my emphasis)
In the case that concerns us, this suturing of philosophy to the poem produces a decisive effect: philosophy deserts operations proper to thinking which the poem then comes to occupy. Badiou’s formulation unfolds a series of issues that demand closer examination. The syntagm “age of poets” names, from the viewpoint of philosophy and in philosophical terms, something concerning thinking and not poetizing:
In spite of the word “poets,” the category “age of poets” is not immanent to poetry. It is not the poets who have declared that this age is theirs.... In spite of the word “age,” it is not a historical category. It does not pretend to periodize poetry according to its own scansions.... Finally, it is not a question of an aesthetic category, or of a judgment of taste. The age of poets is a philo-
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sophical category. It organizes a particular way of thinking the knot between the poem and philosophy, such as this knot becomes visible from philosophy’s perspective. “Age” refers to an epochal situation of philosophy. And “poets” refers to the poem as a condition of philosophy. I call “age of poets” this moment proper to philosophy’s history when the latter is sutured, that is, handed over or submitted to only one of its conditions... b (AP: 21-2)
We are dealing here with philosophical categories and protocols that are employed to apprehend (in the sense both of understanding and of encompassing) the poem. This suture of thinking to the poem is evaluated by a double set of criteria. On the one hand, it is experienced as a negative phenomenon from the very interior of philosophy:
In a situation in which philosophy is sutured either to science or to politics, certain poets, or rather certain poems, come to occupy the place where, ordinarily, are declared strategies of thinking that are properly philosophical.c (AP: 22; my emphasis)
Philosophy relinquishes something which belongs to its jurisdiction and the poem, which was expatriated by Plato to be afterwards repatriated and regulated by Aristotle, comes to occupy (a military metaphor) operations proper to philosophy. The scene of suturing is described as a true theater of operations. To be able to speak of the poem in philosophical terms and, moreover, to gain “poetic truths,” that is, directives for thinking, philosophy has to declare the end of the “age of poets.” Badiou’s narrative denounces the end (that of philosophy), but it also announces another end, that of the “age of the poets”:
I can read in Celan that, yes, the poem demands to be relieved from the poem ... or rather that the poem-thinking once it comes to the shattering of its material support, its song, demands to be re-opened to the pure dimension of its sense. Which could also mean: the age of poets is closed. d (AP: 29)
In both cases, however, he interrogates neither the notion of end nor the eschatological dimension it brings into play. There is a good end, the one declared by the “Philosophers” and a bad end, the one announced by the “Sophists.” In other words, Badiou’s rhetoric yields here to the passion of the militant, which is always a passion of the end, for the end, in view of an end. One wonders if the “return to Plato,” which calls for the repeating of the poet’s proscription, can simply be sustained by a rhetorical sleight of hand, one that fails to interrogate the end of the “end.” Is it simply by re-locating the notion of end that the outcome of de-suturing will succeed in articulating a new relation between philosophy and the poem? On the other hand, the evaluation of poetic suturing provides us with another insight: poetry’s occupation of “philosophy’s originary vocation”—”to think the epoch as the site of compossibility of the different truth-procedures” (MP: 37)—entails that the poem itself takes a stand regarding the question “what is thinking?” In other words, poetry’s
(a) Fall 2000 • 18
since this thinking is always a set of operations unfolding in the poem. even if a complicated interplay is at stake between the “figures” of the poem and the “maxims” of thinking. in the end. of a thought of that which is at the same time dispersed and in-separated. one does not see a new relation being established. We will also see that this economy of use supposes a logic of the border and the frame able to contain the excessive errancy of poetic truth. of a non-convivial reason. de-objectivation) are such that they can be expressed (a) Fall 2000 • 19 .”13 (AP: 23) Nevertheless. The poem is spoken in terms of “maxims” and “operations”. We will see below that the question of use is not an accidental one. they fail to lead to a formulation of a new type of relation. the philosopher who operates under the de-sutured condition of the poem appropriates himself from the poetic maxims and uses them as a model for thinking. The “return to Plato” commands that the economy of use. dis-orientation. Second. If the de-suturing of philosophy from the poem has taken place. A logic of localization will be awaiting us in the very text of philosophy. In other words. Rather. Therefore. the imperative of a clarification without totality.e (AP: 36. et instruit une vérité.” and it can take them as a legacy. as poem—is not something that is excessive regarding philosophical operations. but they are not compelling enough to re-articulate the philosophical determination of poetry. The conditioning effects of poetry upon philosophy appear to be forceful enough to provide philosophy with truths. these maxims are conditioning for philosophy. And this is due to two reasons: first.” Badiou’s first attempt to re-articulate the dialogue between thinking and poetizing is highly problematic. my emphasis) Poetry’s occupation of philosophy’s theater of operations is. because philosophy can read the poetic event in terms of “maxims of thinking. in order to liberate philosophy. even when the poem is understood as the space of the intra-poetic unfolding [mise en oeuvre ] of maxims of thinking. a beneficial one: it produces a truth about the time. mais aussi se trouve astreint à penser cette pensée. it becomes a fiction of method and provides figures for what is unpresentable to thinking. cold for having neither object nor orientation. a law to be followed: that of “cold reason. Badiou’s own language produces a displacement of predicates. illustration and example be deployed.occupation of operations proper to philosophy revolves around a pivotal point: “les poèmes de l’âge des poètes sont ceux où le dire poétique non seulement est une pensée. but rather the re-activation of a classical hierarchy. inasmuch as the poem comes to occupy operations left vacant by thinking. The operations of “the age of poets” (coldness. the negative criterion becomes a positive one: the (intra-poetic) thinking of this (poetic) thought—a non self-reflective thinking. one in which the philosopher does not have the upper hand. it is a legacy: The age of poets bequeaths us. and he can do so because philosophy’s “propriety” is not questioned. In his attempt to redraw the graphics of the dialogue between thinking and poetizing.
The philosopher. In order to achieve this goal. Moreover. the determination of the common destiny shared by the poet and the thinker.” ( RPP: 94)14 It is through this dispute that the possibility of establishing a different relation or non-relation [dé-rapport] between philosophy and the poem may allow for a more rigorous articulation. would not. However.nous oblige à nous soumettre.. if the response to these two heterogeneous exigencies may satisfy the demand of the pure multiple. a suturing of the poem to the concept? III. “Don du Poème” The “return to Plato. but it must also proceed in such a way as to not fall back into the space of aesthetics. in the aftermath of Heidegger is to think that from which the poem proceeds. appeals to the poem in a space in which philosophy and poetry have been de-sutured.” that is. Badiou’s task. a thinking whose unconditioned condition is the matheme. Sutures. three acquired insights must be retained from Heidegger: the autonomous function of the thought of the poem [la pensée du poème].” the proclamation of the end of “the age of poets. On Wounds. the de-suturing has not changed the classical hierarchy between philosophy and poetry. the poem’s classical rival. This time “reformuler ce qui conjoint et disjoint le poème et la discursivité philosophique est un impératif auquel Heidegger.. and Stitches [points de suture]: “A relation of the fourth type”? Je t’apporte l’enfant d’une nuit d’Idumée! Mallarmé. operating under condition. that is.in the “rigorous” language of deductive thinking. as well as to think thinking [la pensée] in its operative distance. the risky exposure of philosophy to the poem. and.. reproduce the classical philosophical determination of “literature. It remains to be seen if both exigencies can be satisfied in a single stroke. in its turn. finally. First. although producing the de-suturing of philosophy from the poem. this new articulation could also provide the philosopher with guidelines for philosophically using the poem’s truths. Badiou’s critique is axiomatic: it contests Heidegger’s type of compossibility. What gesture is constituted in this philosophical recourse to the poem? How can the matheme. his claim of the co-belonging of logos and the poetic. come to provide philosophy with a matrix and language that. What is imperative to reject in Heidegger is his modality of suturing the end of philosophy to the non-argumentative authority of the poem and (a) Fall 2000 • 20 .” and the de-suturing of philosophy from the poem call for a new dispute with Heidegger’s own articulation of the relation between thinking and poetizing. Badiou must distinguish between what must be either rejected or preserved in Heidegger.
Badiou’s is a twofold strategy. the reactivation of the sacred since. but Blanchot did expose Heidegger’s onto-poetics to a rigorous critique as early as the 1940s in “La parole ‘sacrée’ de Hölderlin . argumentative distance (Plato). and when it is a question of the figure of the philosopher-poet. First. there is a common hinge between Blanchot and Badiou: Mallarmé. René Char is dismissed as someone who assumes a posture. Badiou’s critique of Heidegger is commanded by a desuturing necessity.” Therefore. I will show how Badiou’s final formulation of the “relation of the fourth type” echoes Blanchot’s formulation of “Le Regard d’Orphée . Moreover. Badiou remained within the scope of a foundational project. although changing grounds.”17 Moreover. to the excessive errancy of the poem and to the pure multiple? Although outside the scope of the present study. Moreover. This last point invites two comments that can only unfold from the viewpoint of the risky exposure of philosophy to the poem. when mentioning these two poets Badiou never raises the possibility of a forceful interruption of Heidegger’s onto-poetics from the perspective of the poem.19 As I mentioned it above. Badiou mentions two examples. Blanchot is not a poet in the narrow sense of the term. it points to those elements of the poem in which the rivalry with philosophy will be dissolved: poetry is the thinking of the presence of the present (Mallarmé) and not of the compossibility of time. poetry is the naming of the event in the void of meaning (a) Fall 2000 • 21 . First. according to Badiou. 16 Of course. who has radically contested contemporary debates on ethics. Badiou’s silence on Blanchot deserves a careful analysis. we saw that. Blanchot’s “rapport du troisième genre ” and his “parole plurielle ” (both explored and produced in L’Entretien Infini) are decisive in any re-articulation of the relation between philosophy and the poem. there is a revealing omission: Maurice Blanchot.above all. the German philosopher endows the poetic saying with a foundational function.18 These preliminary observations suggest that the privileges of the matheme should be taken neither at face value nor as the unique generic procedure able to undermine a “metaphysics of presence” and an onto-poetics. and aesthetic regionality (Aristotle). The idea is that this “relation of the fourth type” cannot be articulated within a space belonging to aesthetics—identifying rivalry (Parmenides). but also by a necessity not to re-lapse into any of the traditional pre-Heideggerian ways of conceiving of the relation between philosophy and the poem. Are Blanchot’s récits not responsive enough to the risky exposure of philosophy to the poem. philosophy’s proper thought.” It is revealing that someone like Badiou. should articulate an “ethics of writing” in terms that are very close to those of Blanchot.15 When Badiou passes review of the so-called Heidegger-effect in France.” while Michel Déguy is invoked as an example whose poetic project is still dependent upon the suture of the “age of poets. someone who embodies a “prétension présocratique. Why is the matheme then endowed with the privilege to dislodge an onto-poetics? In his evaluation of Heidegger’s effect in the French context.
bear witness to our modernity. and it is from this challenge. precisely at the point where a truth comes to make a hole in the forms of knowledge that produce meaning. déposition] begins to indicate that the “relation of the fourth type” he aims to establish is impressing its effects upon an old wound.g (RPP: 101) The Platonic gesture.h (C: 102) (a) Fall 2000 • 22 . They demand that the truth-procedures be subtracted from the eventful singularity which weaves them in the real. under the contemporary conditions of these procedures. But then why is it that there is a constitutive rivalry between philosophy and the poem. When it is no longer a question of interpreting the real procedures on which truth lies.(Celan). literature. these two thoughts of the poem cannot challenge the grasp of the concept because philosophy is on the hither side of meaning: philosophy deals only with that which comes to produce a hole in meaning—truth. Second. Truth is not what knowledge produces but is. what knowledge cannot name. from this wound. one producing anxiety. They demand the primordial desertion of the donation of meaning. Or even an impropriety. Badiou seems to imply. together with meaning. d’autre part de l’événement lui-même” (EE: 200). pain and painful memories to the former?: What causes philosophy’s constitutive displeasure regarding its conditions. Truth is the result of an event that “fait un-multiple d’une part de tous les multiples qui appartiennent à son site. f (RPP: 102) Badiou’s lexicon [déplaisir. that it is a hole in meaning. rather. and is starting to make sensitive a stitch [un point de suture]. exceeds the sets of knowledge [savoirs] available to it. how and why a truth is not a meaning is uttered but. is leaving a mark and the memory of a wound [blessure]. Truth is what escapes knowledge. This “how” and this “why. according to which the royalty of the philosopher could only be established by the proscription of poets. It is no longer a question of the rivalry between the intelligible and the sensible (the concept and the figure). These two thoughts or donations belong to the poem. that which is determined as enjoyment. and which ties them to meaning in the mode of its traversing. the poem as well as the others. but in founding a proper place where. that it would be necessary to interpret the Platonic gesture. stress. there is a change in the terms involved: But “philosophy” begins when this component shows its inconsistency. In his critique of Heidegger’s poetic suture. what. If the stitching of philosophy to the poem is a painful event for the former. can only be practiced in the displeasure produced by a refusal of donation and of hermeneutics. the de-suturing is no less so. in a given situation. rather. Art would always challenge the concept. For Badiou truth does not consist in either adequacy or disclosure. of its breach. the departure from meaning [ab-sens]. is having to depose.” founders of a place of thinking under conditions. Badiou is also contesting those he calls “the postmodern” thinkers: who readily bring to the forefront the wound that would be inflicted on philosophy by the modalities in which poetry. and does not pertain to knowledge: it is an empty concept. is not a defensive one and it cannot be so since the articulation we are dealing with is not classically Platonic. art in general. an abnegation regarding meaning.
i (RPP: 104. of which the poem is the kernel. The scheme of use re-introduces the most classical and unfaithful philosophical type of response to the poem. the re-opening of the “Cartesian meditation” and the remaining faithful to the poem. The deposition here takes the figure of a placing. but instead becomes exposed to the same experience as the poet: the risky exposure to the event. will no longer be part of a hierarchical structure. The question now is the following: if philosophy and the poem are exposed in different ways to the same outside. Philosophy makes use of the image. We are faced with a strange double gesture. the disturbing deposition of meaning is assigned to a still conceptual economy of placing: In the texture of its exposition philosophy undoubtedly makes use of fictive incarnations. hierarchical relation. the philosophical program reserved for figurative language is the one that has always been reserved for it from the perspective of the concept.. it is the painful stitch [le point de suture] that commands the repetition of the Platonic gesture. an avowal stated as if it were a circumstantial fact: philosophy is an “effect of language. perhaps one suture whose form does not fully correspond to the de-sutured space of philosophy (a) Fall 2000 • 23 . according to their respective truth-producing regime and. finally reverses into a symmetrical..” not simply the end-product of a “deductive invention. in his attempt to secure a post-Heideggerian articulation. The lit erary is specified by philosophy as fiction. In spite of the re-articulation of the terms in which the positing of a “relation of the fourth type” will unfold. Philosophy de-sutures itself from the poem. what is the always stubborn and resentful procedure of this deposition? The bond is narrower inasmuch as philosophy is an effect of language. Finally. Badiou’s reflection manages to articulate a “relation of the fourth type” between philosophy and the poem.” Moreover. of the fable. my emphasis) What at first appeared to be a new relation (one in which the common destiny of the poet and the thinker were established on a common abyssal ground. as comparison. image or rhythm and as story. of rhythm. j (RPP: 104.By deposing meaning. Everything seems to indicate that. and therefore. The double exigency. my emphasis) Badiou must make a concession.... philosophy makes use of the story. But suddenly. the philosopher under conditions no longer occupies the discourse of the academic. The image of the sun serves to expose in the light of presence that there is something essentially withdrawn in the idea of the Good. of the comparison.. but once again stitches the poem to a philosophical—rhetorical—suture. and of the parable. In this relation each are exposed to the event. cannot be answered in a single stroke. one that divides within itself and enacts a kind of overdetermined type of denegation. how will the philosopher deal with the poem? Being particularly a question about the literary act. one in which the dominance of the latter upon the former was dissolved).
by a paradox in the exposition. one that is underwritten by propriety and universality.k The poem produces a truth. It is always a situational truth linked to the event’s site. a surplus of meaning that philosophy may very well evacuate in delimitating the domain of proper meaning. one that must be preserved at any cost.Badiou is advocating. therefore. This reference brings a surplus of polysemy to language. Can Badiou’s way of treating metaphors be included in any of these two discourses? Yes and no. Badiou’s treatment of tropes cannot be fully included in a classical schema. as we indicated above. Its purpose is to separate in a calculated way figuration from what is sensible so as to arrive at the pure abstraction of the concept. in order to finish establishing a place from which to utter why and how a truth makes a hole in meaning and escapes interpretation. In this type of discourse figures are affirmed at the expense of the concept (Rousseau and Nietzsche). one that this very schema cannot cope with.”20 What is important about this “relève” is that it follows a metaphorical movement. For Badiou truth results from an eventful [événementiel] procedure. There is. In this sense. a truth cannot provide an exact designation of the event. a controlled type of use of tropes regulated through a logic of localization: Nevertheless. It must be stressed that Badiou attempts to accommodate a new element to the classical schema. to propose a fable. one that axiomatically chooses what is univocal as a philosophical ideal. this localization is regulated from an implicit classic economy of truth that supposes a proper—philosophical—use of the figure or po em. it is localized where no concept can be invoked: around the hole produced by truth. an image or a fiction to interpretation. a second type of discourse. a sensible origin of conceptual abstraction. it is necessary. Moreover. but the poetic—”literary”—element is not turned into a concept. since its way of relating to conceptual knowledge is one of (a) Fall 2000 • 24 . However. They are localized in points where. Badiou’s schema is classical. The rhetorical stitching of the poem to philosophy indicates a relapsing into a pre-Heideggerian determination of poetic language. however. metaphor comes “au point de l’imprésentable”. because he appeals to the most traditional philosophical modality of dealing with literature: that of a localized figurality. as one would expect to happen in the classical determination of metaphor. This approach supposes the effacement of the figure as the origin of philosophical concepts and. Yes. Derrida refers to this way of dealing (without dealing) with metaphor “la relève métaphysique de la métaphore dans le sens propre de l’être. How has philosophy traditionally dealt with figures or tropes? A first type of discourse affirms an original figurativeness and recounts the story of its effacement or forgetting. inasmuch as metaphor is defined as the “elevation” of a sensible referent into an ideal signification. these literary occurrences as such are placed under the jurisdiction of a principle of thinking that they do not constitute. In this discourse a metaphor is a detour with regard to a proper reference. Nevertheless. Instead.
subtraction. In other words. the figure determining the classical economy of signification. even if figurative language is mobilized in terms of that which exceeds knowledge. The Platonic opposition between the matheme and the poem must be re-activated this time in terms of both post-Cantorian mathematics and modern poetry. the “return to Plato” could not secure a new type of relation without placing the terms of the relation into a different space. a truth is the production. Badiou’s reference to the metaphor of the sun is problematic. in a situation. Nevertheless. However. the sun is at the center of rhetorical theories that understand metaphor as the transport of the sensible into the non-sensible. Badiou has (a) Fall 2000 • 25 . IV. une immanence sans concept) qui avère dans la situation l’inconsistance qui en fait l’être. not the concept.” (MP: 90) A truth must bear witness to the “wandering excess” of being. through an argument from which the deposition of meaning is not compelling enough. “Au Point de l’Innomable. The sun. as is well known. one of the unpresentable dimension of truth as event. The presupposition underlying the classical deployment of the metaphor of the sun is that there is adequacy [adæquatio] between the improper sensible presentation and the proper intelligible concept. Is it by chance that Badiou’s example of the localized use of metaphors is that of the sun. In other terms. rather. Badiou’s theory of the philosophical use of metaphor is commanded by an implicit philosophical determination. is invoked and inscribed into a postsignifying articulation. This incommensurability lies in the nature of the regime of truth. In other words. There is a conceptual determination of metaphor [savoir]. the metaphor of the sensible. poem and matheme. is de-stabilized in Badiou. of a non-discernible multiplicity: “une vérité est cette consistance minimale (une partie. or of the familiar into what is unknown. Yet. The post-modern Sophists are accused through an argument that is too dependent on a pre-modern schema of signification.” or for an “Ethics of Mystery” The positing of a “relation [dé-rapport] of the fourth type” between poetry and philosophy. This is due to the grafting of a classical economy of signification onto a space in which it is no longer a question of the sensible presentation of the concept but. Therefore. the classical Platonic-Aristotelian montage of metaphor is incommensurable when deployed not to illustrate but to name that which belongs to the subtractive dimension of the event. is the very example of the sensible. Badiou is “Platonizing” against the post-signifying regime of the modern poem. one that is grounded in a notion of truth as adequacy [adæquation]. His schema is that of a re-articulation of the figurative dimension of language not to the sensible. but to the unpresentable dimension of truth. In the tradition inaugurated by Greek philosophy. “l’image du soleil [qui] sert à exposer au jour d’une présence qu’il y a d’essentielle ment retiré dans l’idée du Bien”? There seems to be a montage of the ruling metaphor (that of the sun) upon an articulation that does not fully accommodate it.
the opposition between the metaphor’s obscurity and the matheme’s transparency is located “in language. rather “how the poem is possible?” Let’s follow Badiou’s new formulation: Nevertheless. ( QP: 36. what opens and exposes thinking to “its” own principle (the gift of thinking) escapes the grasp of discursive thinking [dianoia]. Plato must agree that we are there epékeina tês ousías. Plato submits language to the power of the poetic saying. In short: where what is at stake is the opening of thinking to the principle of what is thinkable. it is displaced from the traditional rhetorical context so as to signal the very opening of philosophy’s intelligibility. that philosophy is constituted by an effect of language.to re-open the space of the modern poem. Moreover.” This an-archic origin not only forces Plato to “submit” language to the power [puissance] of the poem. as was the case above: language begins to acquire a constitutive scope. my emphasis)l It is necessary to acknowledge [il faut avouer]. He him self must have recourse to images. the best example of the failure of its property in terms of adequacy [adæquatio]. The guiding question will no longer be “what is a poem?” but. and consequently outside of everything that is exposed to the grasp of the Idea.. through Plato. but also forces Badiou to submit the “return to Plato” to an excessive trace or point. He cannot do so because he himself explores the limits of dianoia. In other words. It should not be forgotten that the sun is also the rule for the imperfect metaphor. He must acknowledge that the donation in thinking of Being beyond beings does not let itself be traversed by any dianoia. beyond substance. It is this fail- (a) Fall 2000 • 26 . The circular appropriating movement of the “return” will be interrupted in a point. but this time by being placed in a new montage whose frame is no longer that of the page of a philosophy’s book. one whose scope may put the very form of the ti esti in disarray. to metaphors . by a point. the heliotropic metaphor is again invoked to bear witness to this scene. since it comes from an an-archic “origin. Philosophy’s principle is not “its own. or of the Good. Therefore. After these two far from compelling avowals. when thinking must become absorbed in the grasping of that which institutes it as thinking. of the One.” or at least not fully. philosophy is no longer simply and incidentally under the effect of language. through Plato.” Therefore. but this time onto a different orbit. this opposition in language of the matheme’s transparency and the poem’s metaphorical obscurity presents formidable problems for us moderns. Plato cannot sustain the maxim promoting the matheme and banishing the poem.. of discursive thinking. When it is a question of the supreme principle. Rather. it is necessary to admit [il faut avouer]. as that of the sun. the metaphor of the sun is invoked not only to bear witness but also to provide us with the example of its powerlessness. that what puts philosophy into motion. even as he declares “the end of the age of poets.” This re-activation and the new articulation it will yield are presented under the classical philosophical question: “what is a poem?” It is under the syntax of the ti esti that the Platonic metaphor of the sun will be mounted again..
by structuring the metaphorical space of philosophy. modernes. “car une vérité est le travail auprès de l’être d’un événement évanoui dont il ne reste que le nom. that is. one depending upon the poet’s proscription. The “linguistic” interval between the poem and the matheme can be neither that of opposition nor that of compatibility.” If in the first articulation the matheme was endowed with the power to protect philosophy from the Siren’s song of the poem. also indicates that a reference to a proper origin is missing—”at its very origin. with that which exceeds nomination. from a new poetics one derives a new program for thinking. l’un comme l’autre inscrits dans la forme générale d’une procédure de vérité. the determination of both the poem’s and the matheme’s truth will be conducted in terms of the ways in which poetic and mathematical languages deal with nomination and. the metaphor of the sun is not an example among others. And the effects of this point will be decisive because “nous. examinés du point de la philosophie. A new articulation must be posited diagonally to the founding Platonic opposition between the poem and the matheme. any truth is a power [puissance]: from a new theorem one gathers directives to re-orient thinking. Compossibility.ure. above all. Let’s first examine mathematical nomination: (a) Fall 2000 • 27 . it should be remembered. compossibility must face impossibility. Within this frame. inasmuch as generic procedures produce truths out of the pure multiple. is the form that knots together philosophy to the four generic procedures. therefore. a point that will not be fully accounted for. now both the matheme and the poem are approached in view of their common feature: the general form of a truth-procedure.”21 The metaphor of the sun. but it is the example that. This determination unfolds by situating philosophy under the double condition of the matheme and the poem and in view of a general theory of being and the event inasmuch as they are knotted together by truth. What is at stake now is that “poème et matheme sont. in terms of a power / powerlessness [puissance / impuissance] when faced with the event.” Everything revolves around this point now. The possibility of composing the knot must face the impossible. endurons de tout autre façon qu’un Grec l’intervalle langagier du poème et du mathème. In other words. in truth. a point that calls for an “ethics of mystery. which always renews the interval or difference that philosophical discourse attempts to reduce when proposing a theory of the philosophical use of metaphor. what remains to be determined is their respective regime of truth-production. however. points to an excessive trace.” ( QP: 39)22 The terms of the discussion are modified in order to respond in a more rigorous way to the initial determination of a “philosophy under conditions. and consequently.” (QP: 46)23 What are the mathematical and the poetic regimes of truth? How do mathematics and poetry deal with nomination? Both mathematics and poetry. For Badiou. A point of mystery. “Platonizing” against the modern poem will be of no avail.” ( QP : 36) This endurance will not only provide “us moderns” with a re-articulation of the relation between the matheme and the poem. but it will also affect the scope of Badiou’s foundational project. However.
It is this impossible forcing [forçage] that Blanchot’s (a) Fall 2000 • 28 .”24 And this dissimulation that appears by disappearing can only be named by a forcing [forçage] of language. through the power of a truth. Badiou’s formulation resembles that of another reader of Mallarmé: Maurice Blanchot. The mystery lies in the fact that any poetics leaves in its center that upon which it has no power to bring into presence. he is also faced with “ce qui dissimule la nuit.mathematics produces truth out of the pure multiple as the primordial inconsistency of being in so far as being. The fidelity to the event. rather. after Gödel.n (QP: 41. or a demand for the impossible. But consistency. but by a “detour” from it. the song of language as gift to presenting the pure notion of “there is” in the very effacement of its empirical objectivity.” he is founding an ethics of mystery that is the respect. of its point of powerlessness.” as well as “the instant in which the essence of the night approaches as the other night. Or. desire. which is shaped upon a mathematical paradigm ruled by consistency. but that “someone should stand and face this point” [“quelqu’un se tienne en face de ce point”]. It should be remembered that in the Orphic adventure referred to by Blanchot in L’Espace Littéraire. l’autre nuit. Eurydice. comes face to face with a point that escapes the possibility of an integral foundation. “the mystery in literature” is a true imperative. This exigency is precisely not the fact of having a work. Poetic mystery lies in the fact that there is a point at its very center which cannot be named. In this sense. Poetic revelation is intertwined with an an-archic enigma or. When Mallarmé claims that “there must always be an enigma in poetry. What is the situation with poetic language? The poem’s power of revelation folds around an enigma so that the marking off of this enigma should make all the real of powerlessness out of the power of what is true. figure. The power of producing mathematical truths is intertwined with a constitutive powerlessness. However.” faces the challenge of consistency. is its excessive point: consistency cannot be named by mathematics. and reality” not by direct optical contact. Orpheus forgets “the ultimate requirement of its impulse” [“l’exigence ultime de son mouvement”]. death. Poetry makes truth out of the pure multiple as presence coming to the limits of language. my emphasis) The interplay between power and powerlessness cannot be sublated in a dialectical way. But she is not all what it is there to be “seen”. poetic revelation is the intertwining of the enigma. which is characterized by a “deductive fidelity. Eurydice is a figure that dissimulates both “the profoundly dark point towards which art. This enigma traverses the poetic saying with an excessive trace and makes of it an ethics: a response to an impossible demand. and the night all seem to lead. see also PI) The language of mathematics. m (QP: 39-40.” Orpheus’s task is to “to bring the point into the daylight and in the daylight give it form. we know that in Blanchot’s reading of this myth. la dissimulation qui apparaît.
In the very center of the poem (a) Fall 2000 • 29 .récits produce when they approach this unnamable point indicated by “Viens. but also a topology according to which philosophical thinking becomes the discontinuous and incomplete [lacunaire] thinking of multiplicity. Orpheus. the “Sonnet in ptyx. Like the “ptyx” in Badiou’s reading of Mallarmé. in his descent after Eurydice comes into contact with what is unnamable. but which is also a point in which the power of language is condensed. They indicate the mark of a lack of power which calls for an “objectless subject” (Badiou) or a “passivity older than the distinction between active and passive” (Blanchot). the incomplete thinking of the multiple of thoughts. and under their thinking condition. “ce dont une vérité ne peut forcer la nomination” ( QP: 42). for example.” But they also expose philosophy to operate under condition: Between the matheme’s consistency and the poem’s power. The power of poetic language lies in its fixing of what disappears (presence). ce nom ne nomme pas. They are both interrupted and open to an excess that calls for an “ethics of mystery. The graphics of compossibility supposes not only a temporality according to which philosophy comes “after” both mathematics and the poem. he must assign the poem with the power to fix what disappears. any naming of the event is also of poetic nature. Yet.” For Badiou. the point by which the “dissimulation that appears by disappearing” in Blanchot indicates a pre-positional non-interval which conditions language without properly belonging to it. for the unfounded and dis-founding dimension of the poem not to disrupt the philosophical presentation of the pure multiple. However. For Badiou. Sauf que. In this sense. if Mallarmé may be considered the hinge between two modes of conceiving the relation between philosophy and the poem. philosophy is. after the poem and after the matheme. since it is able to fix that which disappears. but it is this very power that poetry cannot name. justement. philosophy renounces to establish the names clogging that which subtracts itself. for Badiou’s graphics of compossibility to work. ce nom n’est pas un mon.o (QP: 46-7) The articulation of the “relation of the fourth type” between philosophy and the poem calls for a deposition of philosophy’s magisterial position and for an exposure to the “unfounded” presentation of the pure multiple. we must not overlook the differences between Badiou and Blanchot. between these two unnamable points.” produces a naming: “sans doute le ptyx serait-il le nom de ce dont le poème est capable: faire surgir de la langue une venue en présence antérieurement impossible. Mallarmé’s poem. Badiou’s final articulation of the “relation of the fourth type” allows for a point of opacity around which the knot of compossibility may be tied together.” Mathematics and poetry are exposed to a point that subtracts itself from their respective power of nomination. this exposure to what is unfounded does not leave intact the scope of Badiou’s foundational project. a point which Orpheus cannot name. to fix that through which a dimension of powerlessness is indicated. Nevertheless.
est d’avoir à déposer. [AP 22. Elle ne prétend pas périodiser la poésie selon ses scansions propres [. l’impératif d’une clarification sans totalité.there remains this outside. le poème demande à être relevé du poème [. s’avère inconsistant. de la philosophie. l’art en général. the point to which the poem must respond without being able to do so [il y a ] is not endowed with the capacity to ruin foundational projects. Language no longer coincides with itself and the poem becomes irretrievable lost even for a “philosophy under conditions. L’ensemble opposera à la tentation de la présence le rigueur du soustractif. this unnamable. while in Badiou it is still a question of “fixing” that which disappears. J’appelle “âge des poètes” ce moment propre de l’histoire de la philosophie où celle-ci est suturée.. Elle organise une pensée particulière du noeud du poème et de la philosophie.” la catégorie n’est pas historienne. certains poètes. However. résiliant tout poème.” la catégorie d’âge des e l’âge des poètes nous lègue. ce qui s’y détermine de jouissance. ou encore que la pensée poème parvenu au bris de son support.. depuis toujours. d’une raison non-conviviale. témoignent de notre modernité.. avec le sens.. Et “poètes” renvoie au poème comme condition. [RPP 102] h Mais “philosophie” commence quand cet agrégat soit à la science. however. [EE 35.]. L’âge des poètes est une catégorie philosophique.. “âge” renvoie à une situation épocale de la philosophie. où le résultat.. Quand il ne s’agit plus interpréter ou plutôt certains poèmes. If it is accurate to say that for Badiou poetry is unfounded.” FRENCH ORIGINALS OF ENGLISH CITATIONS a conceptuellement [. pour libérer la philoso- f Ce qui fail le déplaisir constituant de la philosophie au regard de ses conditions. Il y aurait depuis toujours un défi de l’art au concept.] l’expérience sera celle de l’in vention déductive. ou de jugement de goût. b En dépit du mot “poètes. an erasure that has always already disappeared. le langage enfin.] dans une situation où la philosophie est suturée g qui mettent volontiers en avant la blessure qu’infligerait à la philosophie le mode propre sur lequel la poésie. in Blanchot it would not be accurate to speak in those terms. [AP 21-22] pensée proprement philosophiques. la littérature. soit à la politique.serait intégralement transmissible dans le savoir.. de son chant demande d’être ré-ouverte à la pure dimension de son sens. sera en puissance de ce que Frege nommait une idéographie. il ne s’agit pas non plus d’une catégorie esthétique. viennent à occuper la place où ordinairement se déclarent des stratégies de les procedures réelles où gît la vérité.. Ce qui se dira aussi: l’âge des poètes est clos.] Enfin. The fixing of the point will never arrive and this deferral produces not only a disruption of nomination but its effects also alter the very presence of the event.. mais de fonder c [. my emphasis] d Je peux lire dans Celan que. Ce ne sont les poètes qui ont déclaré que cet âge était le leur [... d’une pensée de ce qui est à la fois dispersé et inséparé. In Blanchot. et c’est à partir de ce défi. au point même où une vérité vient en trouée des savoirs qui font sens. froide de n’avoir ni objet ni orientation” [AP 36.] En dépit du mot “âge. tel que ce noeud s’avère visible du point de la philosophie ellemême. et pour toute expérience. this very same point supposes an erasure of manifestation. my emphasis].. où l’être n’est dit que d’être insupposable pour toute présence. le poème comme les autres. c’est à dire déléguée ou soumise à une seul des ces conditions. de cette blessure qu’il faudrait interpréter le geste platonicien qui ne peut établir la royauté du philosophe qu’en banissant les poétes. [RPP 101] (a) Fall 2000 • 30 . my emphasis] poètes n’est pas immanente à la poésie. oui. [AP 29] phie.
de cette déposition? Le lien est d’autant plus étroit que la philosophie est un effet de langue. quand la pensée doit s’absorber dans la saisie de ce qui l’institue comme pensée. Dèjá Platon ne peut tenir jusqu’au bout cette maxim o Entre la consistance du mathème et la puissance du poème. étant bien plutôt un trou dans le sens. [QP 39-40. Le littéraire se spécifie pour elle comme fic tion. après le mathéme. [RPP 104. le “mystère dans les lettres” est un véritable impératif. Ce “comment” et ce “pourquoi.. comme celle du soleil. et qui les noue au sens dans le mode de sa traverse. la philosophie use du récit. La poésie fait vérité du multiple pure comme présence venue aux limites de la langue. Elle est en ce sens.. “au-delà de la substance. de l’Un. [QP 36.” dans l’effacement même de son objectivité empirique. par la puissance d’une vérité. en sorte que le pointage de cette énigme fasse tout le réel d’impuissance de la puissance du vrai. my empha sis] l Cependant.. ne se laisse traverser par aucune dianoia. ou du Bien. Il ne le peut. ces deux innommables. Ils exigent la défection primordiale de la donation de sens. de sa trouée. sous les conditions contemporaines de ces procédures. voici que Platon lui-même soumet la langue a la puissance du dire poétique. après le poème. my emphasis] qui promeut le mathème et bannit le poème. d’incarnations fictives [. l’abnégation quant au sens. ne sont praticables que dans le déplaisir d’un refus de la donation et de l’herméneutique. proposer une fable. Quand Mallarmé soutient qu’il doit y avoir toujours énigme en poésie. pour achever l’établissement du lieu où s’énonce pourquoi et comment une vérité troue le sens et échappe à l’interprétation.] La philosophie use de l’image. parce que lui-même explore les limites de la dianoia.] Bref: là où ce qui est en jeu est l’ouverture de la pensée au principe du pensable. Ils exigent que les procédures de vérité soient soustraites à la singularité événementielle qui les tisse dans le réel.un lieu propre où. Soit le chant de la langue comme aptitude à présentifier la notion pure de “il y a. Ou encore l’indécence. L’image du soleil sert à exposer au jour d’une présence qu’il y a d’essentiellement retiré dans l’idée du Bien [.” et par conséquent hors de tout ce qui s’expose dans la découpe de l’Idée. la pensée lacunaire du multiple des pensées.” fondateurs d’un lieu de pensée sous conditions. Le mystère est proprement que toute poé tique laisse en son centre ce qu’elle n’a pas le pou voir de faire venir à la présence. [RPP 104. ces occurrences du littéraire comme tel sont placées sous la juridiction d’un principe de pensée qu’elles ne constituent pas. la philosophie renonce à établir les noms qui obturent ce qui se soustrait. don’t le poème est le noyau. l’ab-sens. de la fable et de la parabole. et sous leur condition pensante.. de la pensée discursive. de redoutables problèmes. toujours rétive et offensée. quelle est la procédure. [QP 41. par une paradoxe d’exposition. et comme récit. Il doit lui-même avoir recours aux images. my emphasis] k Cependant. à nous modernes.” il fonde une éthique du mystère qui est le respect. En ce sens. il faut justement. see also PI] n La puissance de révélation du poème s’enroule autour d’une énigme. aux métaphores [. dans la texture de son exposition. cette opposition dans la langue de la transparence du mathème à l’obscurité métaphorique du poème. de la comparaison et du rythme.. my emphasis] j La philosophie use assurément. La déposition prend ici la figure d’un placement. [C 102] i S’agissant plus particulièrement de l’acte littéraire. comme comparaison. Il doit avouer que la donation en pensée de ce principe suprême. ou rythme.. à l’interprétation elle-même. de son point d’impuissance.. nous pose. image. Elles sont localisées en des points où. qui est la donation en pensée de l’être audelà de l’étant. une image ou une fiction. Platon doit convenir que nous sommes là epékeina tês ousías. [QP 46-7] (a) Fall 2000 • 31 . m la mathématique fait vérité du multiple pure comme inconsistance primordiale de l’être en tant qu’être. Quand il s’agit du principe suprême. s’énonce comment et pourquoi une vérité n’est pas un sens. ]Enfin.
see Jacques Derrida. For an introduction to Badiou’s thinking. His almost transparent prose.” Preface to Conditions. 1998.” in Po&sie 64 (1994).” Conditions. What is Philosophy? New York: Columbia University Press. which has been dominated by linguistic and textual experimentation and for which the presentation of philosophy has been an obsessive preoccupation. Manifesto for Philosophy. and Jacques Derrida. 8 On this topic and these distinctions regarding apocalyptic and eschatological discourses. même combat: The Philosophy of Alain Badiou. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. The Clamor of Being. 1992 C: Conditions. Jacques. but he is always presented as a satellite revolving around some major figures. D’un ton apocalyptique adopté naguère en philosophie. “Le Soustractif. QP: “Qu’est-ce qu’un Poème et qu’en Pense la Philosophie?” in PMI. Christian Delacampagne devotes only two entries to Badiou. Badiou’s difficult and demanding project may explain the limited number of existing studies and his rare appearance in the histories of contemporary philosophy. L’Être et l’Événement. there is only the count-as-one. “le compte-pour-un n’est que le système des con ditions à travers lesquelles le multiple se laisse reconnaître comme multiple. Paris: Galilée. 1998 PMI: Petit Manuel d’Inesthétique. Paris: Seuil. Seuil. translated by Louise Burchill.” the preface to Alain Badiou’s Conditions. the count-as-one is nothing but the system of conditions through which the multiple allows itself to be recognized as multiple”]. Lacan.” Radical Philosophy (1996): 6-13. Moreover. “Cantor. like Althusser and Lacan. the recent Companion to Continental Philosophy edited by Critchley and Schroeder fails to include him. Paris.” 4 “La passe par le mathème autorise les vérités à dire quelque chose sur l’être. 7 Martin Heidegger. Paris: Seuil. La Politique des Poètes. 1982. For example. Pourquoi des Poètes en Temps de Détresse. all translations are mine. 5 See Gilles Deleuze. Beckett. elle autorise les vérités à dire l’excès errant de l’être. General information about Badiou is provided in the prologues of the only two available English translations to date. 6 Badiou is perhaps one of the most innovative voices in contemporary Continental philosophy for several reasons. The End of Philosophy. 1999 and Deleuze. Paris: Galilée. The term matheme was employed by Lacan and it refers to a type of algebraic writing whose (a) Fall 2000 • 32 . L’invention de l’autre” in Psyche: Inventions de l’Autre. 1994.NOTES 1 “ll n’y a pas de l’un. 1999 [Paris: Seuil. 1988] AP: “L’Âge de Poètes. New York: Harper and Row. Mao. it authorizes truths to say the wandering excess of being. translated by Norman Madarasz. 1987. ed. où s’avère une fois son caractère soustractif. “Psyché. 1988 MFP: Manifesto for Philosophy. once that relates L’Être et l’Événement to his most recent work. 3 “The event—inasmuch as it is the exclusive destiny of the void’s presencing—emerges in the paradox of being only named in the disappearance of that to which it refers. his dry and clear-cut deductive style might make of him a sort of unique case when viewed within the context of the French philosophical scene of the last forty years. 1999. 1992 PI: “Poésie au Point de l’Innomable. 1992 RPP: “Le Recours Philosophique au Poème. tr. Here Badiou meets Lacan. 1973:84. All references to Alain Badiou’s works are given parenthetically in the body of the text as follows: EE: L’Être et l’Événement. 9 This “ideographic” writing able to guarantee the transmission of knowledge is the matheme. il n’y a pas que le compte-pour-un”. Paris: Seuil. in his recently translated A History of Philosophy in the Twentieth Century. SUNY Press: Albany. The same can be said of the ten-volume Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998). see François Wahl’s “Le Soustractif. in which its subtractive character is revealed”]. Ageneral overview of some of Badiou’s key concepts is provided by Jean-Jacques Lecercle.” in Rancière. Paris: Seuil. Norman Madarasz. Françoise Wahl. Paris: Bibliothèque du Collège International de Philosophie (Rue Descartes). 2 Except for the passages from Manifesto for Philosophy . Albany: SUNY Press.” [“it is the pass through the matheme that authorizes us to say something about being. Méditation 1.” [“There is not one.
Except that precisely that name is not a name. Badiou uses this same type of writing or logical notation of the first order.” La Part du Feu. relations. and the mathemes of sexuation developed in Encore. for Lacan. Paris: Éditions de Minuit. and in his most recent Abrégé de Metapolitique. Paris: Gallimard. 11 The Manifesto revolves around two premises: philosophy is possible inasmuch as it produces “conceptual configurations” that welcome the events in each of its general procedures. the mark of the scientific nature of psychoanalysis. In Lacan. but it aims at denoting a structure that is at play in psychoanalytic discourse. but Badiou problematizes some of the crucial articulations of Lacan’s writing.” These general procedures are: — the poem.” 14 “To rethink that which joins and disjoins the poem to philosophical discourse is an imperative which Heidegger compels us to submit ourselves to. an area grounded in EE. 1972:320. a condition in which Badiou and Lacanian psychoanalysis intersect. is dealt with in C and the Court Traité d’Ontologie Transitoire. (a) Fall 2000 • 33 . Paris: Gallimard. logic connectors. 18 This reading will intersect Badiou and Blanchot in several common issues: the refusal of the One. D’un Désastre Obscure.” in C.1987]. an objectless “subject” (passivity). 21 “When examined from philosophy’s perspective.” a poet who asks for a non-philosophical articulation of the poem. 1982.” 22 “For a truth is the work in the proximity of being of a vanished event whose only remains is the name.and “Le Re-trait de la Métaphore. to which Badiou devotes a key-essay. — politics. the excessive errancy of the multiple. “Le recours philosophique au poème. 12 Alain Badiou. “La parole ‘sacrée’de Hölderlin. 17 Maurice Blanchot.” in C. See. that name does not name. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Conditions. but also interrogated in Peut-On Penser la Politique?.” in L’Espace Littéraire. The essay was originally published in Critique in 1946. the object of L’Être et l’évènement. 20 See Jacques Derrida.” MFP:60. “L’âge de poètes. the matheme is not a shortcut type of notation. 1955. and Pessoa in C. Beckett. sections of Conditions.” 24 Maurice Blanchot. and the Court Traité d’Ontologie Transitoire . The writing of the matheme combines a limited number of elements: variables. In L’Être et l’Événement. punctuation marks. “White Mythology. Examples of mathemes in Lacan are those of the “four discourses” developed in L’Envers de la Psychanalyse.” 15 Badiou considérés Paul Celan to be the poet that signals the end of the “age of poets. Le nombre et les nombres. 13 “The poems of the age of poets are those in which the poetic saying is not only a thinking which informs a truth. — love. See C. the critique of a “religious” ethics. The matheme’s function is to assure the transmission of psychoanalytic knowledge. the poem as an outside escaping the jurisdiction of philosophical knowledge. the critique of hermeneutic reason and of Ereignis. “L’Âge de Poétes. as well as PMI. 10 See below for a discussion of this concept as it is developed in “Le Recours Philosophique au Poème.” decisive interventions focused on Mallarmé. 19 Jacques Derrida. — the matheme. Rimbaud.” Margins–of Philosophy. the welcoming of the event.” in Psyché [orig. quantifiers. Blanchot falls under the category of a “fetishism of literature. sections V and VI.” 16 In the Manifesto. the thinking of an inventive politics. but is also compelled to think this thinking. poem and matheme are inscribed within the general form of a truth-procedure. Marges—de la Philosophie. The matheme belongs to a family of formal writing and is. and the writing of the multiple. “Le Regard d’Orphée.1949.function is to help formalize psychoanalytic theory.” 23 “No doubt the ptyx would be the name for that which the poem is capable of: to produce out of language a coming into presence previously impossible.
Etiology of Innocence Bernie Lubell Artist. Etiology is the study of causes. San Francisco he problems explored in this essay were first essayed as an interactive art installation with the same title. Its only common usage now seems to be by the medical profession––as in the origins of a disease. The suggestion that Innocence is some sort of disease is intentional. I have a great love for words and have used them extensively in my installations. Nevertheless. It has been useful to me to clarify what I have been doing with my artwork in words. Here I am trying to use words to describe something beyond and before words. I will begin (as I often do) with the words. Innocence is usually either shunned as unsophisticated or T (a) Fall 2000 • 34 . but talking of interactive artwork can only be partially successful. Etiology of Innocence––the installation––was recently on display at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. specifically the words of my title.
At the same time. these add-ons and fix-its become a sort of Truth in themselves and are often considered to be the hallmark of sophistication. Ultimately. can we maintain our sense of wonder? The origins of my installation are in the work of Étienne Jules Marey from the 1870’s.” Marey believed that life processes could be analyzed and understood mechanically. The kind of clarity and control I seem to gravitate towards is more (a) Fall 2000 • 35 . Marey’s work is not the result of a sophisticated recognition of the complexity of how things relate but an exuberant discovery of that complexity as it forced itself on the naive idealism of the original enterprise. And his great obsession was to see what couldn’t be seen: that which was too small or too slow. on a visit to the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis. The possibilities for innocence are much more complex. What I like about Marey’s early medical apparatuses is that while they reflect a naive faith in mechanical models for biology they also embody the evolutionary design necessary to get realistic results. my Etiology of Innocence (the installation) reflects a nostalgia for a more innocent time when it seemed that simple mechanical models might explain everything––when the experts were generalists and the discovery of ultimate truths seemed to be just around the corner. Was I working my life into my art to regain control? I really don’t know.. Looking back from the end of the machine age. I recognize that any quest for an ideal requires numerous little add-ons and fix-its to deliver a resemblance to the real. About a year later. as we learn more and are ever more sophisticated and suspicious. And how. and experience comes from bad judgments. too fast or too deep inside. They were designed by experience. So simplicity is how you must start but . There is a conundrum here––a problem of causality summed up nicely in a Murphy’s Law calendar which I recall as: “Wisdom comes from experience. His life’s work was inventing various ways to record and understand motion because movement is life.1 Marey is most famous for his chronophotography and for his cameras.” Everything is so interconnected and contradictory in principle that it can only be resolved by practice. I was diagnosed with an a-symptomatic aortic aneurysm and for some reason it became imperative to make a heart simulation à la Marey. It is the abstraction––the desire for principles and simple answers––which interferes and which is at the same time absolutely essential. I was able to see actual examples of early medical apparatus.blindly embraced. Early in his career he helped create the field of medical imaging––what he called the “Graphic Method. In 1994. I was struck by how Marey applied his simple visualization technologies to explore everything from human speech to the human heart. it doesn’t need to be this way. including some instruments made by Marey. just as we ourselves are. which were instrumental in the early development of motion pictures. And all of these fix-its lead away from that very idealism and innocence that was the stance necessary to begin...
Although words are often how I begin my work and are frequently on wood labels and tags as a part of my installations. Syntax is seductive and like most seductions. you are finally left wanting. But even narrative places a limiting linear restriction on reality. it’s not the way. Everyone has their own “Personal Path” in this piece. A friend suggested that words don’t work when there is no narrative.. acting almost as an incantation of understanding and yet . words always seem incomplete. one that is more aligned with the sense of touch... Oh No.. Words seem to offer a magical control..like the dark interconnections of Kafka and Beckett. It’s in his Kiss.. I have an Aphasiogram (1999) that automatically and pneumatically strips the verbal meanings away from a questionnaire––replacing them with individual routes––an image we couldn’t see when the words were there.” (a) Fall 2000 • 36 . and you’re not to listen to all I say . How does the old song go? “Is it the way he talks? . That’s where it is. Another sort of meaning appears.
Somehow the nervous net will find ways of completing that purpose. seemingly intelligent behavior.” There is no doubt that a forced recognition of my own mortality increased my need to make art. this recognition of our own mortality which provides the essential motivation for creativity is frequently overlooked. Cranking a series of cams pumps air.” They use what he calls a “Nervous Net. These machines have no programming or “brain. this byproduct of our evolutionary history. one of the creators of quantum mechanics. I believe it was Jacques Monod who reasoned that the key element which separated living from non-living matter was that living things had a purpose. but there are no aneurysms in my installation and my work seems to be so much more about how little control we have and how to find some inspiration in the fact of this. (This must be some sort of sublimated sociobiological necessity to procreate. of course not. The air runs from tubes connected to the simulated aorta and ventricle to (a) Fall 2000 • 37 . like Marey’s apparatus. I was reading recently about roboticist Mark Tilden whose machines behave startlingly like real arthropods.) In all of the debate about whether computers will ever be creative and how they could be made to be so. My Etiology of Innocence (1999). And that is all that they need to produce complex. “but they say it works whether you believe in it or not. His colleagues would say “Niels. They rely on their environment to become a part of the computation. These are not self-contained autonomous entities. There is a story about Niels Bohr. by pounding and garroting organs on a board. Apparently he kept a horseshoe above the door to his office.BERNIE LUBELL THE ETIOLOGY OF INNOCENCE Yerba Buena Center for the Arts San Francisco 1999 Besides. you are a scientist you don’t really believe in this do you?” “No. The one thing they do have preprogrammed is a purpose.” which is an analog system of motors and sensors. is a simulation of the human heart. I have an ambivalence toward magic.” he would reply. I keep an “out of order” sign handy in most installations as a talisman.
And so much of what is both good and bad are not the result of perfect plans but are adjustments to things gone awry. So I wallow semi-consciously in the frustration of how to get my mechanism to function and trust that my machinations will be guided by the ideas I have been swimming in so recently. When I arrived at the Headlands Center for the A r t s for a residency in 1993 I was given a 35 x 55 foot studio filled only with light and was told to do what I wanted. The metaphor is more like real machines in the world where things go wrong and are constantly being fixed. But not as an abstract Platonic ideal of life as perfect mechanisms. All of the parts are quite fragile and made of wood. The pine doesn’t seem to want to be a machine and an analogy to the conflict between reason and romance is automatically built into my process. I usually start by immersing myself intellectually within some rather grand and impossible question that I want to answer and then pick some mechanism or movement I have noticed by rummaging through outdated treatises. I set up a couch about halfway down the (a) Fall 2000 • 38 . (But is it then still a metaphor?) In fact this is the way that my work is designed. What I seem to be doing is semi-consciously bringing several different systems of understanding together at once in an effort to resolve an issue. I tried to get it so that everything works. which is totally inappropriate for machinery. you need to take turns with someone else––cranking and looking––so it takes two people to get the full experience which seems just right for a heart piece. Because you can’t see what you are making happen while you are cranking. I may begin building by duplicating some part of some machine but since I always start by using pine. So I share Marey’s belief in the mechanical metaphor. Because I was so tired. I think our hold on life and sanity and understanding are tenuous but tenacious. and there were no comfortable places to sit in the entire art center. At the same time the crank winds a long canvas belt which also continues into another chamber where it makes a heartbeat sound. interesting things happen almost at once.other rooms where it gurgles and produces a lifelike breathing of a “lung” in a jar. but just barely––sort of like the way my ideas get me through.
But really I wanted to rest.. I found it impossible to do justice to my ideas on any one linear path and working from a small portion of it. And despite appearances I was working. Proceeding further you would come to a door. I left the door open and lay down to read and sleep and talk with anyone who happened by. I manifested The Niche of Desire. In the course of several weeks of sleep I came up with a complex interconnected flow chart. The Niche of Desire (1993) is an Altar as a portal and as a puzzle. The problem was easily resolved by the addition of a carpeted viewing area with a latex covered spring replacing the traditional velvet chain.. “One may aspire to “heaven” with patience or clever- BERNIE LUBELL THE NICHE OF DESIRE Headlands Center for the Arts Sausalito California 1993 ness––by waiting or by cheating. The appropriate rituals would allow you to pass through. But the door (a) Fall 2000 • 39 .” In a dark passage there were viewing holes which allowed distorted glimpses of possibilities beyond the confines of this claustrophobic space..space. The hardworking staff whose offices adjoined my room were perturbed that they were raising money so that I could sleep and they would stand in the doorway and make comments about this. This was OK because it was Art.
Because the gallery refused to remove a wall I got to separate cause and effect––all the actions took place on one side and their results on the other. After a moment of panic you recall the clues at the entrance. a Twice Failed Tale (1991) I thought to breathe life into a collection of sticks and bags with some hopelessly complex. “then” it causes a couple of balls to drop into an “Accumulator”––I like to think of memory as an accumulation of accidents. We can. even possible? Can you ever have been innocent? I was worrying this very problem––kind of like a dog worries a bone––when I tried to determine the origins of life. “Heaven” turns out to be a creaky. A 60’ span did not seem long enough so I forced the perspective of the bridge.” And the connections are frequently more important than the things connected. wheezing wood and canvas bellows pumping air through 100 feet of leaky wood pipes. The rolling bellows on the action side is the “1st Draft” of the 2nd Story. We cannot see what we do or do what we are seeing.. Returning to the bench seen earlier you can sit to wait. The handle says “Apply Desire Here” and operation forces air through the wood pipes blowing a whistle beyond the wall and momentarily inflating a gauge of “Aspiration. if everything has a cause.. Leaning back releases the door lock but only while you continue to remain on the bench. The “2nd Draft” also blows the whistle but. can there ever be a beginning? How can anything new ever happen? How is Creativity . is much like faith. It is that moment when we lose the innocence of childhood.. It is almost impossible to stay on the bridge when you are close to your goal. This search for the origins of life became more of a search for the origin of origins. I chose a child’s chair as my symbol for Heaven because it is when a child wants a chair just like the adults that the state of grace is lost. In the corner is my “Record Station. And this piece was the occasion for one of my greatest discoveries. What I am referring to in this instance is that in our syntax everything has a cause––even Innocence. But how. as a route to heaven. In The 2nd Story. Patience as a solution seems to require a partner. “if” there are balls ready “and” the bellows are depressed and released fully. rickety and unstable bridge which stretches across the 60 foot room with a child’s chair as the goal.” A credit card will jimmy the lock open and credit. But then there is “cheating. And this gesture transformed the experience because the forced perspective of the bridge made it increasingly unstable as you got closer to the end.” Aspiration is a fleeting thing. hear a whistle and balls dropping on the other side of the wall to entice us. But this talk is “The Etiology OF innocence” not “Etiology and Innocence.” The plaque inscription describes Ezekiel breathing life into the dry bones: (a) Fall 2000 • 40 . however. And it is when we recognize the loss that the concept of heaven is born...was locked.
A continuous roll of paper on the table recorded my efforts to resolve the technical. “Means” and “Ends” of latex-coated canvas tubes. On the other side of the wall––the results side––pipes lead to the sticks and bags.. lo. Chaos and Catastrophe. Beyond is a “Teleological Rack” of possibilities. And when I beheld.. and the skin covered them above: But there was no breath in them. Ezekiel 37:7. there are tags and experimental devices which might be useful including “Out of Order” signs which can make any failure acceptable. And as I prophesied there was a noise... and more. participation and observation . their futile. When air is breathed into these bags.8 A little “Divine Inspiration” is required. aesthetic and conceptual problems of installation. is a “Choice Point” with valves that direct air to different activities and tools for maintenance. culminating in a realization (which I stole from Charles Olson) that “Life is preoccupation with itself. and behold a shaking. In the cubbyholes to the right are 119 cards comprising my “Purloined Principles”––various ideas I’ve stolen that comment on the nature of origins and the paradoxes of thought.. And the closest I came to actual life is in the way that a small latex (a) Fall 2000 • 41 . There are cards about faith. fitful motions against constraint are quite poignant. sticks and whistle in the corner. There is an “Accumulator” zig-zagging down the wall and finally the bags. bone to his bone. How Reality is Fundamentally Derivative. and the bones came together. the sinews and the flesh came up upon them.” And a Willie Dixon song that “a good understanding can make everything all right”––but I wondered how we can possibly understand understanding using understanding. betrayal. In the opening between the two spaces. change. how we should Beware of Atavism as an Etiology for Innocence––which is an essay on our proclivity for simple explanations.
Some researchers have gone so far as to suggest that our present state is a selection from the greater diversity of former eras. And this. The standard evolutionary view is to look for a single universal ancestor which would account for all the current diversity. There is a similarity here to my word charts.. which I do love. The past may not really be any simpler than the present. it seemed that logic might encompass everything. can be resolved through touch. Earlier in this century. Zeno suggested that you can never really cross a room because for every distance you traverse you first have to cover 1⁄2 that distance and so on. But it is hard for me to imagine a beginning that is highly complex although I can certainly see complexity arising really fast. One answer to the riddle of how anything new ever occurs is cooperation and the possibilities of people having to get together to complete an experience. This brings me to Zeno’s paradox of motion. We will have to forego an extended excursion into this realm too. Irony is far too isolating––it closes up a system. If somehow we can come to understand the contradictions in a paradox as something complementary we may be able to forge something far deeper. Everything is dependent on cooperation and cross-fertilization and it always was. A more contemporary view has multiple interconnected origins. Zeno sug- (a) Fall 2000 • 42 . as it turns out. But let me point out that there are understandings that are participatory and physical that may explain the logical impasses I have been alluding to. The problem with paradoxes as answers is that they seem too ironical. installation and what I have used since was the discovery that cooperation can be an origin because it removes you from the system you were in and therefore allows you to be recursive––to reflect on yourself without violating Gödel’s theorem.covered canvas bag kind of whimpers as it dies. It is the liar’s paradox. In other words. when science and technology promised so much. they need to learn how to tolerate ambiguity. And this is what Chaos Theory promises––ah. And this brings me to Zeno’s paradox of motion. Because the system is closed it cannot refer to itself without being incomplete or inconsistent. I have this notion that conundrums and paradoxes. To say that: “everything I say is a lie” leads you to a logical impasse. another topic for another time.. Only something truly alive could whimper. is an answer proposed to the riddle of life’s origins by Lynn Margulis. A child’s tactile comprehensions applied to the tasks of philosophy. What was forced on me in the 2nd Story . They need to be able to work on several levels at the same time. But Kurt Gödel showed in 1931 that such attempts at omniscience must fail. And the problem with irony and other forms of suspicion is that they have this smarmy coolness which ends all discussion. Which is incidentally another obstacle to machines’ being creative. It may be that all of the great Logical paradoxes and conundrums we pose as adults find their solutions as child’s play correctly framed. Someone once quipped that if you want to sound profound you should always speak in paradoxes and I wonder why this should be profound.
“apply desire here” BERNIE LUBELL SECOND STORY: A TWICE-FAILED TALE L.C. Los Angeles 1991 the whimper (a) Fall 2000 • 43 .A.E.
Logic is independent of time but the Calculus and our paradox are not. Perhaps this is a byproduct of having a brain embedded in a body. Calculus has been immensely useful but is logically considered to be essentially a sleight-of-hand. Interestingly I had no really early memories but an answer instantly jumped into my mind. Our bodies seem to be particularly good at jumping about from system to system. “Gravity” should be primary to my body. which is really another sort of brain. And by trusting some resolutions to our bodies we may be able to understand understanding because we will leave the closed system where logic is our primary tool. It is how the series converges in time that resolves our dilemma. But how can we understand this? Zeno’s paradox was recently “solved” through an analysis of converging series and calculus-inspired limits. A friend once asked me what my first memory was. So the sum of the infinite series of distances is in fact finite. I heard an interview where Paul Auster once said something like: “We are all pretty sophisticated and we know that the universe is something we have created with our minds but––our minds are in our bodies and our bodies are in the universe”3 Being physical is the key here. There are an infinite number of halves here so it should take an infinite amount of time. It is this sort of limits that our bodies intuitively appreciate.gested that you can never really cross a room because for every distance you traverse you first have to cover 1/2 that distance and so on. An infant faces Zeno’s paradox as they try to figure out how to crawl forward without collapsing. They are a sort of understanding which is not like understanding an argument but more like appreciating a physical fact. And Time is where we exist. We do get across the room every day. It strikes me (an apt analogy to a particular kind of touch) that in moments of paradox (Piaget preferred to call it “disequilibrium”)2 might not a regression to play and the tactile comprehensions of childhood become most useful? They are beyond the reach of our formal minds and so are most open to insightful occasions of accident and failure. My installations frequently require cooperation but (a) Fall 2000 • 44 . It seems that this infinite series converges on a limit. Gravity as a limit must have been one of our first understandings as we somehow figured out how to stand and walk. whether it was in my mind or not. The notions of limits and time itself are really axioms within our bodies.
promiscuous. You must touch them and feel how they work to fully appreciate the experience. People on bicycles feeding back through an overhead rope and interrupting clutches. We feel we understand each other because we share this embodiment. concrete operational understanding of the world is replaced by Formal Operations but not fully supplanted. As Gabriel Josipovici points out––sight is free and. There is a sense that touch provides a particular mirror which allows us to be self-aware and empathetic with others. In my work I am trying to get people to have an understanding of things because you are a part of them rather than as observer looking in from outside.they always need manipulation. Because we are embodied and our bodies give us common access to the world. (a) Fall 2000 • 45 . Paul invented chaotic handrails for the staircase at the Intersection and in the course of playing with them we began to think of a rainstorm. It is a question of participation rather than witnessing. cross to it and grasp it. “Being the rain is not the same as experiencing it––-but both forms of participation are possible here. And the pleasure in this may come from a testing of boundaries––taking risks like kissing. Dry Rain Peddling (1993) was a collaboration with Paul DeMarinis. Within us all there is still a reservoir of this sort of knowledge. For so many years of our early life we understand nothing without touch. Upstairs is a mechanical analog of the handrails. so the present installation traces overlapping journeys through time and association. To touch something you must get up. But I am being quite literal here. 4 You can glance about a room at the objects and then instantly to the distant horizon and never make any commitment. Just as the order within chaos appears as trajectories in phase space. The percussive possibilities of the handrails suggested rain tapping on the roof and brought to our minds the divergent unpredictability of memory. This Tactile. This interactive analogy permits viewers to inhabit time and to construct surprise. And it is our bodies that make communication possible.”5 When you touch and are touched you become a part of the world. in a sense. Making a setting in which you might become actors and create a theatre of your own imaginings. Of course all art contrives to draw you in. Everything around us is first grasped and then goes into our mouths on its way to our brain.
: Littlefield. The Psychology of Intelligence Totowa.. As your lower cheeks move about on a stool bladders there transmit air pressure to a smaller set of latex bladders that caress your face. 1996 5 Paul DeMarinis and Bernie Lubell. San Francisco. 2 Jean Piaget. New Haven: Yale University Press.J. I have this faith that our bodies provide us with another system through which we might understand our own consciousness. excerpts from the Gallery statement for Dry Rain Peddling. N. 1993 .The final Installation I wish to discuss is a machine that allows you to test your own boundaries in unaccustomed ways. 4 Gabriel Josipovici. Florida • New Langton Arts San Francisco 1999-2000 (a) Fall 2000 • 46 . remarks made during a television interview. Adams & Co. The feeling is both pleasurable and disconcerting. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Intersection for the Arts. Picturing Time: The Work of ÉtienneJules Marey (1830-1904). BERNIE LUBELL “Cheek to Cheek” from SUFFICIENT LATITUDE Museum of Contemporary Art Lake Worth. 1966 3 Paul Auster. Touch. NOTES 1 Marta Braun. 1992. Cheek to Cheek (1999) is an installation which allows you to dance with yourself cheek to cheek.
So when Woo’s first Hollywood film. It seems that the paradox of having to lose one’s own style in order to have it holds true to Woo’s Hollywood filmmaking experience. Broken Arrow (1995). Hard Target (1993). But the box-office success of Broken Arrow did empower Woo and enabled him to work more freely in the next project Face/Off (1997). and for thus losing himself in the global entertainment system. If style is the man himself. to make American movies. he must first lose himself––is what one might call “symbol- J (a) Fall 2000 • 47 . The outcome was that Broken Arrow fared much better than Hard Target in terms of box office and reviews. was described by an American producer as a “Chinese movie in English. Such a dialectical self-realization––that is. but. Woo’s second Hollywood film is criticized for not carrying his signature style. in order to prove that he could make a mainstream American film just like other Asian directors working in Hollywood. for Woo’s diehard fans. which was largely considered the “real John Woo” kind of film. such as Wayne Wang or Ang Lee. in order to become himself. Broken Arrow is just another American film and by no means an effective transplant of his Hong Kong action. The transition from Hard Target to Face/Off through Broken Arrow may explain how Woo can become himself only insofar as he has to renounce being himself.S.”1 he was devastated and determined to give up his flashy stylistic touches in the following project.Pacific Asia’s Drive to Hollywood and Back: the Jouissance of California Hong Kong Movies Kwai-Cheung Lo Hong Kong Baptist University ohn Woo is most likely the first and the most popular Hong Kong filmmaker sought after by Hollywood to come to the U.
” While one is defined by his style. In general discussions of John Woo’s movies there is conspicuous consensus as to the concrete existence of a “Woo film style. Anyone familiar with Woo’s Hong Kong films. As Judith Miller explains. etc. the question one does not appear difficult. a superhero withstanding the impact of hundreds of bullets. it designates a constitutive division in the subject that is never guaranteed by an assured identity. characters leaping through the air while shooting. says Lacan. chivalry. his fans on both sides of the Pacific were disappointed.” This style is presumed to be stable and would not vary across time and place.”2 Therefore. A subject. seemed happy again and believed their “auteur director” was back on his recognizable and respectable stylistic track. loyalty. Woo’s unique stylistic approach to violence and bloodshed has inspired American “new brutalism” movies. all kinds of glorifying slow-motion. When Hard Target and Broken Arrow were criticized for lacking Woo’s stylistic factors. aestheticized violence. the posture of having both guns outstretched. dramatic dolly-in. The Killer (1989) and Hardboiled (1992). for example. On the contrary. In the eyes of his fans. Lacan’s addition to this definition of style “indicates that identity is divided between what style represents and the one before whom it is represented. style does not necessarily suggest the unity of the subject.3 but its authen- (a) Fall 2000 • 48 . freeze-frames and dissolves. favored subjects and characteristic techniques that Woo has always used to achieve the emotional impact of his works. by the fact that it is inscribed in the order of language. tracking shots. Some of these stylistic features were transplanted to Hard Target and Broken Arrow: why then did fans and critics still see the two Hollywood films as “non-Woo” works? Are these stylistic particulars just appearances that cannot represent Woo’s “real thing”? With the definition of “style as the man himself” in mind. even migration and culture shock can not transform its share holding and value. It is cultural capital that supposedly belongs strictly to Woo. With the release of Face/Off Woo’s fans. guns tossing through the air in slow-motion to be caught by the protagonist. code of honor. such as A Better Tomorrow (1986). well-choreographed action sequences. however. is represented by a signifier for another signifier. themes of friendship.ic castration” for the ethnic filmmakers’ entry to white-dominant Hollywood. could easily identify recurring images. What is Woo’s style? In what way does the audience conceive of how Woo’s films––whether they are made in Hong Kong or produced by Hollywood––work for them? At first glance. There is. he is also defined by his relation to the other. Lacan makes this modification: “style is the man to whom one speaks.
the two main characters swap faces. Now Troy becomes Archer and Archer is stuck with Troy’s face. The “real” Woo is back and it offers the appearance (in the fantasy of Woo’s fans) of being the foundation of the unity of the auteur-subject.tic being got lost in his own works under the Hollywood system. It is not a complicated plot. and transplant it onto Sean Archer.”5 Does Face/Off simply conform to the idea that appearance is merely an illusion or a false image of reality––implying thereby that appearance is never significant? If so. Sean Archer’s. His desire for revenge and his preoccupation with chasing Troy have alienated Archer from his wife (Joan Allen) and his teenage daughter (Dominique Swain). The predominance of simulacra in today’s world has already dissolved the distinction between reality and appearance. Castor attempted to kill Archer but accidentally killed Archer’s son. Coincidentally. the faceless Castor wakes up from his coma in the hospital and needs a face. six years ago. but the inner core of being cannot be changed. for a long time. Troy is finally captured and left in a coma after a violent confrontation. Castor Troy (Nicholas Cage). The reason Archer is relentlessly pursuing Troy is because. voices. then what is the unchanged inner core of being? Is John Woo implying that he is always the same no matter which system he works for? Can we consider the film an allegorical depiction of transnational identity reconstruction for a Hong Kong filmmaker working in Hollywood? Perhaps postmodern critics would find Face/Off uninteresting precisely because it refuses to enter the age of simulacrum in which reality or authentic being is no longer distinguishable from its simulated image. But it seems that Troy has stashed a time bomb somewhere in downtown Los Angeles. Archer knows everything about Troy. exchange identities and are confronted with these very questions. “John Woo seems to suggest that the exterior of the body can be peeled off: faces. Face/Off still seems to be obsessed with unchanged being in an outrageously old fash- (a) Fall 2000 • 49 . Archer’s fellow officers believe that the only way to learn the location of the bomb is for Archer to masquerade as Troy and go undercover in prison in order to interact with Troy’s brother. 4 The story is easy to follow because the characters switch faces without their real identity being changed. The only one available is. of course. Troy has found new freedom (and fun) by assuming Archer’s identity. Sean Archer (John Travolta) is a dedicated FBI agent who has been on the force for years and has been obsessively tracking one particular master criminal. they take off Castor Troy’s face. body scars can be exchanged. the highly acclaimed Face/Off. However. some obvious questions about subjectivity rarely raised in his previous films are addressed in Woo’s Face/Off: Is our identity determined by our appearance? Would I become the other person if his face were given to me? How far could I still be myself if my subject is represented by another signifier? In the film. While Archer is disguised as Troy. The “lost object” of Woo’s style has nonetheless returned in his third Hollywood production. Through a highly experimental surgical procedure. As one critic points out. although it is pretty far-fetched.
If the film is viewed from the perspective of family values in a scenario of the Other’s desire. The clamoring of family values. the subject of lack has to seek. While Troy plays the role of Archer he succeeds. Ethico-ontological being can never be what it appears to be if it is to give some substance to the divided subject. Woo is a lack-in-being subject that seeks the lost object to fill out the void. In Face/Off the ethical stance of violence insisted upon by Woo has changed from the code of honor between men to “family values”––Archer’s battle with Troy and their swapped identities unexpectedly help strengthen Archer’s relations with his wife and daughter and save Archer’s dysfunctional family. in making Archer’s listlessly tiresome marriage more exciting and rebuilds trust with his rebellious daughter.6 However. The film could be looked at through Archer’s gaze as one who presumes he knows what he is meant for the Other’s desire. the justification for its being––some ethical mandate with which to identify. In Face/Off. Authentic Being (or the Good) that Woo’s films hold on to and do not let go of are values usually found in his Hong Kong productions: the old Chinese spirit of chivalry. in the posited big Other or in tradition. the so-called good or authentic being appearing in his films is then nothing but a mask or a semblance. however. however. as a Westernized and colonized version of Chinese society. It is a place of lack and inconsistency. The fine line between good and evil is further blurred as it is Archer. right from the beginning. Troy’s malicious intrusion into Archer’s family turns out to be a great help for Archer’s final return to the embrace of his wife and daughter. actually reinforces the mainstream American perception of Asian (Americans) as a “model minority” cherishing the significance of family and kinship. the exchange of identities between Archer and Troy demonstrates that good/true is the mask of evil/false and vice versa. Like his fans who anticipate the return of his unique style. Willingly or not. whose wife is stolen by his enemy. Woo repeatedly tells interviewers that his movies are never simply about violence. though a bit unusual in Woo’s previous movies. if what Woo conjures up no longer exists. Archer adopts Troy’s illegitimate son to make his family complete again. male bonding and honor. through his flamboyant approach. Woo and his characters are always already condemned to this world of copies and simulacra. At the end of the film. 7 Hence. In Woo’s hands.ioned way. His violence is always based on an ethical stance that has already vanished. who destroys an other person’s family so as to save his own. it may take on a different meaning. Then Archer would no longer be an innocent hero whose identity is bereft. Nevertheless. the old Chinese chivalrous spirit invoked in Woo’s films could never be authentic or original since the Hong Kong community was designated. In this plague of simulacra. and who is thus left with no choice but to fight back to retrieve what he (a) Fall 2000 • 50 . The regained unity of Archer’s family is constituted through the introduction of certain alien and evil elements by means of the disguised Troy. the original sci-fi plot is turned into a traditional Manichean battle between good and evil. the good guy.
Archer’s move also bears witness to the fact that. Archer lets his wife be screwed by Troy and exposes his daughter to possible paternal sexual harassment. a self-differentiation through a negative self-relation.has lost.” When Archer falls into his own plot or picture. then actually nothing runs aground in the hero’s mission. But. in cop movies. In a way. Only by changing identities and positions with Troy can Archer make himself seen to the object that attracts his gaze. Perhaps the unruliness and destructiveness of Troy are only the external reflection. nothing gained” is of course a convention in action movies. His self-negation turns out to be a means for Archer to become what he ultimately wants to achieve being. we consider that this rescue plan is in fact Archer’s desperate attempt to save his crumbling family and to pursue the ideal image of being a father. His hunt for the enemy transforms into “getting himself hunted. or a self-referential movement of negativity. whereas the criminals. not Archer. If. however. it is not Archer but the proxy who literally wears his face who has really made the transgression. Archer succeeds in saving the innocent lives of Los Angeles at the expense of lending his face to Troy.”8 Archer’s transgression is even subtler. careful conservators. but yet he gains credits under his own name. Such a decision involves the dimension of death drive. On the other hand. he gets caught up in the picture he is looking at and he finally loses distance toward it. His self-negation is merely an encounter with himself in the form of his opposite. What comes into view as the threat of an intruding alien that can undermine and steal our identity is actually the inherent antagonism of the identity itself. He has to settle for Archer’s identity. At first it appears that Archer makes an “ethical” decision by giving himself up and negating his identity in order to save the innocent people of Los Angeles from Troy’s time bomb. having an extra-marital affair and sexually harassing his own daughter. the gaze to which he is making himself seen reveals in him also his shadowy double. Still. who unplugs the bomb. suggesting a negative gesture of suspending the symbolic order. While he is free to choose to become Troy. Archer would be the great conspirator who designs the whole plot. what is in him more than him. that is to say. The strategy of “nothing ventured.” realizing Archer’s innermost whims––such as killing without any justifiable cause. On the contrary. the only true transgression is always the adventure of the defender of the law. or the “extimité. it is Troy who wakes up from his coma without a face and is forced to take the only available face (which is Archer’s). Apparently his rescue attempt fails because it is Troy. after taking over Archer’s face. Archer’s obsession with hunting Troy has already gone so far that a mere arrest cannot satisfy him. By inviting another man to take his place in the family. The mission is completed while the hero is displaced and misidentified. The scene that most clearly stages this “making oneself seen” has Troy and Archer standing on the opposite sides of a wall with a double-sided mirror (a) Fall 2000 • 51 . in comparison “appear like indolent petit-bourgeois. His attempt to venture is a death drive that throws the Symbolic Order out of joint.
the mirror image is not a reflection of who they are but who they are trying to kill. 9 Now. people. However..S. like ethnicity. at the threshold of the twenty-first century. racial limits. Since their identities have already been switched. only the external body is drastically changed. folk customs. and they always adapt themselves to the new environment. possession of women and lack of emotion has been repudiated. kinship systems. Identity and value do change when they migrate to different cultural and social spaces. autonomy. religious beliefs. a Chinese director accompanied by the deterritorializing forces offered by the cinematic mode of production under the global media syndicate subverts traditional codes that restrict and control social relations: e. he is far more monstrous and disgusting to his family and co-workers than after the evil Troy has taken up his face). The evil Troy thus embodies the good guy Archer in the form of his opposite. It is said that the Pacific Asia is the last frontier to the spatial (a) Fall 2000 • 52 . and so on. value or the Good. these bodily transformations never challenge the privileges associated with white U.” As a matter of fact. Pacific Rim Discourse is nothing but the rim-like structure of the global capital drive. The fantasy of a man who would not be entrapped in his body and would move freely is somewhat realized. So the real aim of the bullet is not to hit the target in the opposite but is to return in a loop to make oneself hit. if there is any. is not that there is some authentic being or reality. such as nation. Although the white male body that defines the qualities of American masculinity as violence. set adrift fluxes of things. Hollywood films continued to portray people whose bodies have been switched. preparing to shoot the other. The multinational capital that makes Woo’s Hollywood success possible is precisely the fluid and hybrid body that can always change faces and. in its deterritorializing guise. In the 1990s. that could remain unchanged no matter how far it is concealed by appearance. As they point their guns. What is revealed. masculinity. The force of deterritorialization is precisely the gist of “Pacific Rim Discourse. they see their reflections in the mirror. Thus the hidden message in Face/Off. Hollywood cinema has always been populated by characters whose bodies are invaded by external forces. customs and beliefs in the global circuit.g. however––if we read Face/Off as an allegorical description of Woo’s own situation in the transnational crossing––is that appearance or body can be separated successfully from the inner being or the soul. And Archer then is the form of the appearance of the evilness (when Archer is being himself. What Woo finally proves is that he can make a mainstream American blockbuster. It is probably Hollywood’s anxiety about outside ideological impact–one is always exposed to the alien spectral other.between them. words. race and value. class structures. From vampire movies to alien body snatcher sci-fi. thus affirming that the merging of Hong Kong filmmakers with Hollywood’s global system is a deterritorializing body capable of overcoming various boundaries and crushing all barriers and resistances. the internal self remains all the same.
since America’s Pacific is only a loop of the American West.imagination of Euro-American capitalism. The circular movement of boundless expansion may also eliminate the frontier that separates “us” from “them. the American audience could once again experience such bizarre articulations of energy long gone from Hollywood cinema. As John Woo himself remarks. In the early 1990s. denial of citizenship. Fantasies of immense wealth projected by Euro-American capitalism over the Pacific Rim have lured many Westerners to the mapping and domination of the region. as an allegory of the city’s socio-historical situation. especially for its physical vitality and political mirror-effect. at the same time. have also been attracted to California to pursue their “gold mountain” dreams. so Hollywood is imitating Hollywood!”10 In a sense. “[i]t is ironic that Hollywood began to imitate Hong Kong movies in the late 1980s and 1990s because Hong Kong films (to a certain degree) are imitations of Hollywood films. however.” Pacific Asia is less a geographical concept than a conceptual construct. however. The circuit of self-affected drive becomes a solution for curbing the excessive expansion of global capitalism. Hollywood can get back its own message from the otherness of Hong Kong cinema. Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado and Larry and Andy (a) Fall 2000 • 53 .S. The political relevance and function of cinematic production as the collective mode of social expression that had already vanished in Hollywood now suddenly pops up again in Hong Kong filmmaking. Over the last four decades. The economic growth of Pacific Asia and the potential rise of China in the region are considered a threat to U. It is the “last thing” because this object of drive can no longer be infinitely substituted for by any other objects of desire. It can no longer shift from one object to another through metonymical displacement. Hong Kong cinema was “discovered” by Hollywood for its refreshing differences. Racial segregation. Not only can the style of Hong Kong action cinema be found in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The absorption of Hong Kong film talent by Hollywood (from the 1990s on) is perhaps a good illustration of the circular movement of global capital drive. Many Asians. restrictions on landownership. This is it. physical abuse and even internment paved the ways for the immigrants from Pacific Asia to traverse their fantasy of California. By looking at Hong Kong films. But the final border could also be a return to its supposed origin. There is no possibility of any further postponement of the encounter with jouissance. It does not. Pacific Asia has produced new successful models of transnational capitalism which go beyond even the visions and fantasies of the Euro-American capitalist system that triggers it off. Hong Kong films are largely received in the U. hegemonic power that no longer hesitates to allow the language of “the yellow peril” to emerge again in its politics of culture. necessarily bring about a resurgence of anti-Asian sentiment. Rather it leads to “a single mouth kissing itself”–using Asians to “smooch” the Asians on the other shore. Because of the 1997 political handover. The gold mountain soon turned into a place of disillusionment for early Asian immigrants.S.
Jackie Chan. Some critics might want to believe that Hollywood is no longer the puppeteer of the global economy of images. The inscription of Hong Kong film styles in Hollywood production is.Wachowski’s The Matrix. Hong Kong cinema is rather the U.S. Anna and the King. however. laundrymen. the Hong (a) Fall 2000 • 54 . The economy of drive is not founded upon the impossibility of jouissance. there is never a striving for any form of unity. to the logic of desire. Far from being the other of the U. thereby avoiding any confrontation with it. itself in its otherness. Presumably in such a relation. for it is hooked too closely to it. Right from the beginning. including Sundance. gangsters and prostitutes. The small-scale “Asianization” of Hollywood is simply a new face of the old hegemony. On the contrary. and that thus a radical heterogeneity of the object as gaze is produced in Hollywood. actually defined by the order of drive. There is no necessary correspondence between the thrust and the object. the transnational crossing of Asian film people to Hollywood may only offer an alibi for the continued hegemony of the Anglo-American global entertainment industry. then externalizes and transfers on to the other the dimension of jouissance that dwells in itself. and Romeo Must Die. Nevertheless. It is merely a montage. however. mystics. Such an avoidance of or a defense against jouissance still belongs. Ronny Yu’s Bride of Chucky. not playing the role of the unique mastering subject that oversees the entire field of vision. it is also “in the picture. The film industry in California is. in the sense that it links together two heterogeneous things. Asian American movie-makers are still finding it tough to break into Hollywood. Many Asian American directors have expressed their discontent at having their works rejected by distributors and festivals. The infiltration of Asian film talent into the white-dominant entertainment industry may imply that the new Hollywood has followed the direction of multiculturalism in order to adjust itself to California state policy and to meet the growing diversified tastes in the domestic and the world markets. Peter Chan’s The Love Letter and Stanley Tong’s TV series Martial Law. since the aim of Hollywood’s outreach to Pacific Asia is not the consumption of any external object.S.S. including Kirk Wong’s The Big Hit. Now.. a number of Hong Kong directors have already thrived in American mainstream productions. it can never act like a lizard that jettisons its own tail when it is in distress.” Despite the success of John Woo and Jackie Chan. instead. but only a nodal point of a complex transnational construction of cinematic landscapes. such as Rush Hour. as white America dresses itself up in a new representation of its own self and of the world. Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li have already starred in several major features and blockbusters.11 Unlike their Asian predecessors in Hollywood who had to portray a stock array of Chinese domestic servants. Chow Yun-fat. The assimilation of Hong Kong film styles into the Hollywood system and the hiring of Asian film talent do not necessarily construct a new identification with a totality that conjoins with multiracial and multicultural California in a harmonious fashion. Tomorrow Never Dies. the U.
A number of Chinese Americans from California were the locus of furor that broke out over the illegal donations by Asians through a California Buddhist Temple to President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.S. the more yellow and brown faces can probably be seen in the mainstream American cinema and television. In a way. the U. Lee Wen-ho. while American spectators are excited by watching the aesthetic violence produced by the ethnic directors from the Asian Pacific. government continues to act on trade agreements with Beijing. The lesson of the drive from Pacific Asia to Hollywood is that we are much too attached to jouissance and can not get loose from it. They all finally pleaded guilty to the charge of improper political fund-raising. the “progress” of this multiculturalism in Hollywood productions is never a revolt against or a subversion of the dominant system representing whiteness. Asia. they only further confirm the prevailing prejudice that Asian Americans are forever seen as “strangers” in their own country. muscular. (a) Fall 2000 • 55 . At the same time as the controversies over human rights. the Asian American community is under a humiliating cloud of suspicion. in American media. a Chinese American scientist at Silicon Valley. they appear to have more power in constructing their cinematic images. it is founded upon the very excessive strength of the worldwide image-producing syndicate. gun-wielding. The Real is the impossible. now the Asian stars from Hong Kong are mainly associated with the hard-fighting.S. Taiwan-U. California is a window state that shows us how people of different racial and cultural origins can learn to live with one another. However. since these Hong Kong artists mostly play alien characters from Asia onscreen. was charged with spying for China.S. and heroic images of the action thriller and comedy.Kong stars do play more positive onscreen roles. The montage of global capital drive links heterogeneous partial objects together and brings a little bit of the Real inside the Symbolic. From one extreme to another. and they gain greater popularity among the mainstream U. in the sense that it is the impossibility of any relationship that could bring different things to the formation of a whole. The globalization process does not generate a multicultural and multiracial total order that can quilt all nations and peoples to the synchronic chain of economic operation. Then. nuclear espionage. media remains an object of cultural and racial fantasy. military ties and bombing of China’s embassy in Belgrade. The larger the share Hollywood can get of the Asian Pacific market.S. long stood as a symbol for compliant and passive femininity. And Hollywood is the self-appointed progenitor of this multiculturalist idea by hiring diverse races and representing people of color in its globally distributed entertainment products. a different form of “ethnic violence” is raging in white American society. Instead. While many Americans are enjoying Hollywood productions starring or directed by Hong Kong actors and filmmakers. audiences. The circuit of global capitalism in the Pacific turns around this failed relationship and marks it in its very impossibility. which helps clear the way for China to join the World Trade Organization. Moreover. the discursive formation of “the Asian” in the U.
Under the global economy and the capital drive to the Pacific, Hollywood is renouncing its usual dimension of subjectivity by chasing a pastiched, multiple mode of representation, without fidelity to any specific subjective engagement. Hollywood’s drive to Pacific Asia is only a closed circular pulsation that finds satisfaction in endlessly repeating the same. There may be no new opening to the outside or no real introduction of otherness into the system. Only the eternal return of the same is fully endorsed. But simply to condemn the multiculturalism practiced in California as nothing at heart but Eurocentrism could easily miss the point. In the eyes of those newly-immigrant Asian film people, California is still seen as a land of good health, pleasant living and open fairness to people of different ethnic heritages. Now living with his family at Los Angeles, John Woo tells his interviewer that the American lifestyle gives him a re-balancing of film career and family:
Hong Kong is a place that will drive you crazy. It’s very competitive, lots of pressure, people don’t respect your privacy. You always have to work faster and smarter than the other guy, or else you’ll get beaten down. Hong Kong people train for that. You work seven days a week, and it’s really unhealthy. I spent all, or most of my time, in the office and the studio. I was never able to give enough time to my children, and my family was being torn apart…There’s pressure here (in California), of course, but it’s normal pressure. People have to work hard and do a good job, but everyone is more respectful of each other’s lives. I can have my own privacy, and not work on weekends to spend more time with my wife and children…Even if I fail in the United States, I still don’t want to go back…I couldn’t stand that kind of lifestyle anymore.12
Living in California seems to stabilize his life of madness in Hong Kong. Woo’s favorite leading man in his Hong Kong films, Chow Yun-fat, who has starred consecutively in Replacement Killers , The Corruptor and Anna and the King, apparently also shares Woo’s view of California lifestyle. Chow “now resides in a lovely hillside home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Los Angeles and by all indications, he is here to stay. He loves California.” In Chow’s own words: “I have a lot of freedom here. I enjoy the food and the atmosphere. I enjoy the air here, it’s better than Hong Kong. Mostly I enjoy hiking, it’s kind of my hobby. Every Sunday I go for a two-hour hike; I prefer to go on the open side of the hills so I can have a view of the city and the ocean.” 13 In the restructuring of global capitalism California is turned into a safe haven or a breathing zone from competitive and stressful Pacific Asia for the celebrities and the new
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rich. The general assumption that Asian migrants are displaced in Western worlds and that their families are broken up by emigration is now reversed. It is only the displacement that can save their marriage and can reposition and offer comfort to these Asian immigrants in the chaotic world on the other shore. California acts like a symbolic order, or a universe of Logos, that pulls them out of the experience of abyss and chaos. The influx of Hong Kong film people to California may be instigated by the return of the city’s sovereignty to China. Their underlying motivation could be to escape from the totalitarian rule of the Communist regime. But this drive to California from Asia is unlike previous Asian immigrations, because the host country is never really their final destination. The “new” Asian immigrants are more interested in the Pacific shuttle, finding enjoyment in the very circular movement in the Pacific Rim. It is still more profitable to work and do business in Asia, while North America is a more ideal place for these new Asian immigrants to settle their families. To live in California helps in resolving the unbearable tension in their Asian homeland. Although Woo and other Hong Kong directors complain about rigid American film-making schemes, the Hollywood system is for them a medium of differentiation that creates order out of chaos and transforms a Hong Kong subject who has already plunged into an abyss of craziness into a free subject. But are they avoiding the abyss of life in Asia or the abyss of their pure subjectivity in the transnational world? Perhaps denying one’s place of origin and clinging to one’s particular cultural heritage no longer make any difference. Both only enable one to implement the process of globalization. The fantasy of California is a misrecognition of the global capital drive. The drive of Asian film talent to California has nothing to do with the flawed model of multiculturalism that essentializes particular ethnic cultures by attributing to them unity or stability. It is not about the desire for recognition of the marginal identity or tolerance of racial and cultural differences. Nor is it of any “unhomely” quality of dispossession that haunts with otherness. Rather, according to Lacan, it is more the color of an emptiness that is suspended in the light of a gap. The identification of the Asian element in Hollywood is only a self-reflexive turn of unrestrained global capitalism. As i ek says, “the stain of particular roots is the phantasmic screen which conceals the fact that the subject is already thoroughly ‘rootless,’ that his true position is the void of universality.”14 The open mouth of the Pacific Rim does not signal a want-to-be but rather the black-hole of drive and its blissful enclosure of sucking everything in.
NOTES 1 See for example Richard James Havis, “A Better Today: Hong Kong’s John Woo Finally Does It His Way in Hollywood,” Cinemaya 39-40 (1998):16. Woo’s business partner and producer, Terence
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Chang, also comments that “a lot of people said [Hard Target] is a Hong Kong movie in English.” See Fredric Dannen and Barry Long, Hong Kong Babylon: an Insider’s Guide to the Hollywood of the East, New York: Hyperion, 1997:152. Apparently, it does not make any difference to American audiences that Woo’s first American film is a “Hong Kong” movie or a “Chinese” movie in English, though it is Terence Chang who qualifies it with the Hong Kong identity. 2 Judith Miller, “Style is the Man Himself,” Lacan and the Subject of Language, ed. Ellie RaglandSullivan and Mark Bracher, New York: Routledge, 1991:147. 3 It is a term used by Annette Hill to refer to Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and the like, which–according to the audience––provide “realistic” representations of violence, in opposition to Hollywood action movies, such as the Die Hard series (1988, 1990, 1995) or Terminator 2 (1991), which are just “fun, playful and unrealistic.” See her “Risky Business: Film Violence as an Interactive Phenomenon,” Identifying Hollywood’s Audiences: Cultural Identity and the Movies, ed. Melvyn Stokes and Richard Maltby, London: British Film Institute, 1999:175-186. 4 Face/Off was at first a sci-fi film. But Woo told the producers that he wasn’t any good at making sci-fi movies. So the producers had a rewrite done to lessen the sci-fi aspect and to enhance the characters and the drama according to Woo’s wish. See Lisa Odham Stokes and Michael Hoover, “Hong Kong to Hollywood,” Cinemaya 46 (1999):37. 5 Rashmi Doraiswamy, “The Spectacle of Action: John Woo’s Face/Off,” Cinemaya 39-40 (1998):19. 6 In Woo’s own description, “My movies have a lot of heart, passion, and emotion. They aren’t only about violence. I try to show something good and pure about the human spirit in them. Qualities like loyalty, honor, dignity, and a spirit of chivalry that has disappeared.” See Havis, “A Better Today,” 12-3; Lee Server, “John Woo Interview,” Asian Pop Cinema: Bombay to Tokyo, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999:32. 7 Such a “lack” in Hong Kong films may precisely invite scholars of transnational Chinese studies to interpret the popular action movies by John Woo and other Hong Kong directors as the embodiment of the spirit of Asian modernity upholding the myth of fraternal solidarity, valorizing mobile masculinity and reaffirming numbers of traditional Asian values, like kinship loyalty, gender division of labor or so in the world of capital accumulation. See Aihwa Ong, “‘A Better Tomorrow’? The Struggle for Global Visibility,” Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality, Durham: Duke University Press, 1999:15881. 8 See Slavoj i ek , “The Limits of the Semiotic Approach to Psychoanalysis,” Psychoanalysis and…, ed. Richard Feldstein and Henry Sussman, New York: Routledge, 1990: 93. 9 This is an argument made by Susan Jeffords when she talks about Kindergarten Cop, Robocop 2, Terminator 2, Beauty and the Beast, and Switch. See her “The Big Switch: Hollywood Masculinity in the Nineties,” Film Theory Goes to the Movies, ed. Jim Collins, Hilary Radner and Ava Preacher Collins, New York: Routledge, 1993:196-208. 10 Quoted from Lisa Odham Stokes and Michael Hoover, City on Fire: Hong Kong Cinema, New York: Verso, 1999:309. 11 See Liz Hodgson, “Frozen out in Hollywood,” South China Morning Post (May 4) 2000:27. 12 See Michael Singer, “John Woo,” A Cut Above: 50 Film Directors Talk About Their Craft, Los Angeles: Lone Eagle Publishing Company, 1998:322. 13 See Christopher Heard, “Appendix: Chow Yun-Fat,” Ten Thousand Bullets: The Cinematic Journey of John Woo, Los Angeles: Lone Eagle, 2000:228. 14 See The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology, London: Verso, 1999:217.
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Colette Soler (a) Fall 2000 • 59 .Puerto Rican Hystoire* Alfredo Carrasquillo-Ramírez Psychoanalyst. from not being able to interrupt. Sigmund Freud When listening to a hysteric patient we must remember that he is suffering from not knowing who he is. not even for a second. Puerto Rico The interest of the one who stud ies hysteria does not take long to move away from the symptoms in order to focus on the fantasies which produce them. San Juan. the unsustainable procession of characters that live within himself and through which he cannot avoid offering himself to others Juan David Nasio The hysteric shows us that there is a subjective or unconscious strategy to recoup or cure the ‘want-to-be’ and the ‘want-toknow’using the Other.
the radio host said: “Ladies and gentlemen! What’s going on here is indescribable… people are having a historic attack. one might ask why the writer selects an illness ideologically referred to as feminine. Although preceded by a strong economic presence. an uneasiness of the narrator with the chaotic nature of the funeral. and maybe even certain willingness to control the people. a path that might take us to see that together with and related to a patriarchal discourse––or better. controlled and interpreted by the psychiatrist. to characterize Puerto Ricans. made a revealing mistake: moved by the emotions of the multitudinary farewell to Luis Muñoz-Marín. Gelpí misses the opportunity of following the path opened by Rodríguez-Juliá with his reference to hysteria. according to literary critic Juan Gelpí. While centering his criticism in the person of the writer. Gelpí´s reading has been the only one that has shown some interest in the writer’s reference to hysteria. The hysteric has a story to tell. Hysteria is a history that. it is suggested that more than a condition or an illness. the landing of American Troops in the southern coast of the island on July 25. is constructed to legitimize both women’s marginalization and sexual stereotypes. Gelpí´s approach is consistent with his project of showing the paternalistic attitudes and positionings of different 20th Century Puerto Rican writers. This paper does not intend to go back to Rodríguez-Juliá´s essay but to take it as a very provoking starting point to try to answer the following questions: Could we talk about Puerto Rican hysteria? Could we actually claim that Puerto Ricans. 1898 as a result of the Spanish American (a) Fall 2000 • 60 . According to such an interpretation. Edgardo RodríguezJuliá tells the story of a radio host who. hysteria would be one of the fictions of such a discourse.” then. what have been the political implications of such a positioning? Thinking about these political implications is important especially when we have recently “celebrated” the centennial of the United States’ invasion of Puerto Rico. while narrating the event.there might be a hysteric articulating his or her own discourse and positioning herself or himself in relation to the Other. hysteria constitutes an ideological manipulation of psychiatric discourse.n his chronicle of Puerto Rico´s first elected governor’s funeral. For Gelpí.” The radio host immediately tried to correct his slip of tongue and put “hysteric” right there where his unconscious had placed “historic. to the Discourse of the Master. 2 I Even when Rodríguez-Juliá´s chronicle was published more than fifteen years ago.” but as Rodríguez-Juliá writes. his apparent will to power and paternalistic and sexist reading of the funeral. to a great length. an account that lacks order and whose signs are organized. “he knew quite well that such a blunder was telling the truth. In recent studies. the sole truth. as a colonized nationality. place themselves in the position of the hysteric in relation to the Other? If our answers to the previous questions are “yes.”1 This reference to hysteria––that Rodríguez-Juliá makes several times in his essay––could imply.
the actual status––has always been the principal field of struggle and discussion. right wing pro-statehood party. Puerto Ricans had the opportunity to elect their own governor. is the political formula that grants the most ample autonomy compatible with our permanent union with the United States. hegemony in Puerto Rico.”3 Some of these questions were: Does this new political status mean the end of colonialism as Puerto Rico´s political condition? Is this a matter of mutual consent or does the United States remain as the final and unilateral authority in the Island? Is this new status a permanent one or a transitory stage towards independence or statehood? These questions remained as some of the unresolved aspects of the political status of the Island.War. for the first time in their history. now in power) and a minority pro-independence party (Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP). for others it means self-government and association with the United States of America. For some people it is nothing more than a “perfumed” colony. marked the beginning of the U. mayors and legislators. The invasion triggered a period of military rule and subsequent tutelage that lasted until 1948. (a) Fall 2000 • 61 . but left crucial questions unresolved. The U. the Constitution of the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico) was approved by a huge majority of the electorate and ratified by the Government of the United States of America. The political options of statehood and independence have been apparently very clear for everyone: “complete” integration into the United States or “complete” separation from them. Every four years Puerto Ricans participate in elections to select their governor. different interpretations of the juridical status of Puerto Rico have been among the most important elements of struggle between the political forces ever since. Two years later. a colonial formula that grants some degree of autonomy between being sovereign and being an integral part of the United States as a state of the Union––have since then been a matter of discussion. and each electoral process is also an opportunity to discuss once again the political status of the Island. The autonomist option––that is. A Political and Cultural History. there have been two major political groups struggling in the national arena––the New Progressive Party (PNP. the late Puerto Rican historian Arturo Morales-Carrión explains that “the establishment of the commonwealth relationship…pointed to new ways and possibilities. As a consequence of this indeterminacy. Government decision to grant the Puerto Rican people the chance to select their own governor was followed by a 1950 Congressional Bill that allowed the convocation of a Constitutional Assembly in the Island. and as a result of that assembly. The Free Associated State.S. S. The sort of in-between status of Free Associated State––that is. Besides the then-hegemonic autonomists (the supporters of the Free Associated State formula). That year. In his book Puerto Rico. the autonomists insist.
In that program a Puerto Rican student from Miami questioned the president about the future of Puerto Rico and the President had to improvise a public statement about Puerto Rico. Every time a Puerto Rican political leader goes back to the Island from a trip to Washington D. even when Puerto Ricans do not vote for the President or Congressmen. sits there and says: “Father. what is usually absent is the opinion of the government of the United States of America. forgive me because I have sinned. Last night I entertained myself four times. I will begin to elaborate my proposal about the structure of this relationship sharing with you a common joke in psychoanalytic circles.S.. This silence would not be important if it were only because it has been unbearable for many political leaders on the Island. silence has been a constant on the side of the U. Only in specific junctures a President or another important officeholder in the U. they do contribute to their campaigns with important fundraising activities. Why is it that for so many Puerto Ricans leaders the silence of the American Government about Puerto Rico seems to be so difficult to accept? My idea is that one way of answering this is by understanding how the colonial relation between Puerto Rico and his or her Imperial Other––the United States of America––has been structured. what the American said.” And a voice coming from the other side of the confessional says: “As for me. Puerto Rican leaders have always been trying to put words in the mouth of the Other. During his visit to some Latin American countries in 1997. he talks to journalists and tells them “lo que dijo el americano. is that the Other does not care about you.” i.e. will always remain––unanswered: what does the Other want from me? Confronted with the silence of the Imperial Other––that is to say. you can cut off your dick. It tells the story of a man who is walking towards a Catholic church. what is unbearable in fact. faced with the enigma of the desire of the Other. because I am just a painter here.” As this joke shows.In all of these debates. And for Puerto Rican leaders. Puerto Ricans leaders have been. Most opinions have been considered as “lip service” from government officials in the context of electoral campaigns in which.C. But we are never certain about what he said if he actually said something because no one else––except that political leader––has seen him speaking. He walks into the confessional. the President of the United States participated in a television town hall meeting transmitted from Argentina to the Hispanic community around the world. maybe for the first time since (a) Fall 2000 • 62 .S. for almost a hundred years now. the silence of the Imperial Other is in fact unbearable because. placed in a hysterical position. Government has expressed an opinion about Puerto Rico. Before and after the United States government ratified the Constitution of the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico in 1952. trying to find a lasting and truthful answer to a basic but very important question that remains––and as we know. He enters the temple and sees that the light of the confessional is on.
he got into the White House. The transcript of his answer was published some days afterwards as a political advertisement by the President of the Puerto Rican Senate in Puerto Rico´s major newspapers. Let me just tell you something that you might already imagine: the very same day the program was televised, all the TV newscasts in Puerto Rico included the Presidential declaration as their first and most important news item. The day after, it was the headline in all major newspapers. The president HAD TALKED about Puerto Rico and most political leaders on the Island were trying to explain what––if anything––the President had actually said. Hysteria, as we all know, more than an illness or a phenomenological diagnosis is understood in Psychoanalysis as a psychic structure. 4 It is a position from which certain subjects relate to the Other. Furthermore, and as Lacan has shown us in his seminar L’envers de la psychanalyse,5 it is a discourse that as such allows for the articulation of a demand to the Other––a demand that asks the Other for a certain discursive production.6 That very production demanded of the Other is an attempt of the hysteric to solve the enigma of the desire of the Other, to get a clear answer to the Imperial Che vuoi? Why is it important for the hysteric to get an answer from the Other? Is it important just to understand the hysteric way of demanding the Other or is it linked as well to hysteric desire? This is fundamental because the hysteric places himself or herself in relation to the Other as a way of solving the enigma of what the Other wants, more specifically, finding an answer to the question of what does the Other want from him or her. That is to say, getting an answer will give the hysteric the consistency that he or she lacks. Insofar as the Other is always an enigma in itself, the neurotic simply imagines who the Other is, and that, according to Willy Apollon, is our error:
The one we address, we do not know who he is. And Psychoanalysis has to deal with this. What do we address to the Other? What does the subject risk when addressing the Other? He is giving the Other the chance to abuse. We give the Other the power to answer, to refuse to answer. To say yes or no. 7
Certainly the hysteric does not accept passively the Other’s refusal to answer. That uncertainty is in fact what appears to be unbearable. He or she must find an answer to the enigma of the Other’s desire. And the answer, as Bruce Fink argues, “is provided by the fundamental fantasy.”8 How does this apply to the situation of Puerto Rico? If as I have said, Puerto Rican leaders are placed in a hysteric position regarding the Imperial Other, and that Other has basically remained silent for almost a century, Puerto Rican leaders must have constructed, at the level of the fundamental fantasy, an answer to the Che vuoi? As I have argued in a previous essay, an important formula repeatedly used in Puerto Rico has been, in my opinion, Puerto Rico´s answer to the Imperial Che vuoi?: the formula of permanent union.9 Since the 1950´s, this formula has been used to characterize the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United
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States. It has worked as a fantasy that interprets the Other’s desire. On December 26, 1951, the leader of the PPD (the autonomist party) and first elected governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Muñoz-Marín, opposed a proposal made by the pro-statehood delegate Paz Granela to include the word “permanent” when talking about the political relation between Puerto Rico and the United States. In his intervention against Paz Granela´s amendment, Muñoz-Marín argued that “it was clearly expressed in front of the people … that it was not our intention to close doors to any possible development in the future.”10 However, on February 14, 1958, seven years after Puerto Rico´s Constitutional Assembly, six years after the inauguration of the Constitution of the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico, and four years after a terrorist attack by a group of Puerto Rican nationalists at the House of Representatives in Washington D.C., governor Luis Muñoz-Marín offered an important speech before the Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico in which the fundamental fantasy of permanent union was already in place. While enumerating the “definite, simple, and clear norms for guidance in our development,” Muñoz-Marín mentions our permanent union with the United States; “the great American Union with which we are associated on terms of equality, with pride, and in as unswerving spirit.” 11 And he ends his address before the Chamber of Commerce with some words that show the role of the fundamental fantasy of permanent union in his discourse:
Regarding myself, you and all Puerto Rico have my vision and my word: Commonwealth status in my considered judgment and irrevocable conviction is the best and surest possible guarantee of our permanent ties with the Great American Union, with which we are associated through two noble and great moral forces: our citizenship and our freely expressed desire to remain forever in that union.12
Muñoz-Marín, by declaring that “we have been” and “we will always be” permanently united with the United States, is assuming a specific position in relation to what he understands is the desire of the Other––an understanding that, as we have said, can only be the result of the fundamental fantasy. According to Slavoj i ek,
what we encounter in the very core of fantasy is the relationship to the desire of the Other, to the latter’s opacity: the desire staged in fantasy is not mine but the desire of the Other. Fantasy is a way for the subject to answer the question of what object he is in the eyes of the Other, in the Other’s desire––that is, what does the Other see in him, what role does he play in the Other’s desire?13
It is clear that “hysterics adopt a certain stance as objects”14 but the question that remains is what is symbolically at stake in this positioning, in this way of dealing with the enigma of the desire of the Other? What relation could be established between the desire of the Other and the desire of the hysteric? And finally, what would it mean
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for Puerto Ricans to traverse the fantasy of permanent union? Traversing the fantasy of permanent union would require, first of all, the acknowledgment of the fact that the fundamental fantasy is working there to cover an unbearable fact: the desire of the Other is enigmatic, or better, we do not even have an truthful idea of who the Other is. For i ek
the crucial break that psychoanalysis must accomplish is to induce him to realize how he is himself this other for whom he is enacting a role––how his being-for-the-other is his being-for-himself, because he is symbolically identified with the gaze for which he is playing a role.15
So the problem here has to do with an identification of the hysteric with the gaze of the Other––the hysteric desires, says Fink, as if she were the Other.16 If the fantasy of permanent union, as the political discussions of the last years have shown, is still in place, and such a fantasy is possible because of a symbolic identification with the gaze of the Other, one can say that Puerto Rico is fixated, fastened, pinned to the formula of permanent union and that such a fixation impedes the articulation and movement of a desire beyond identification. This finally takes me to the title of my presentation: Puerto Rican hystoire. Colette Soler, in her important lectures on Hysteria and Obsession, explains that the
French word for history is “histoire” (which also means “story”). Lacan wrote “hystoire” indicating that in every story there is something of the hysteric. But for Lacan, structure determines history––not every event in it- but the development of a subjective history or story is a manifestation of structure. Following Lacan’s orientation, I don’t see anything that would allow one to say that structure is the effect of history.17
What I believe is important regarding the Lacanian idea of hystoire is that it helps us read differently the fantasy of permanent union. One could say that permanent union is the historical production of a specific juncture that has no relation whatsoever with elaborations of other historical junctures. However, when one understands that every historical production is at the same time a hysterical production as well, one is able to question the apparent contingency of a particular discursive formation and to read it as an-other articulation, as a repetition that results from a fixated positioning inside the hysterical structure. The very fixation that, as I have said, does not allow the articulation of a desire beyond identification. Thus a question remains: how could Puerto Ricans, as a nationality, move beyond the fantasy of permanent union and place themselves in a different position inside the structure? Obviously, I do not have the answer to that question. But I am sure about something, though: the place to articulate an answer to that question is not Washington D.C.
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cit. November 7. The Spoils of Freedom. op. 1989:106. 17 Colette Soler. the Imaginary Other and the others of each subject´s reality arguing that there is no relation between them. It is fantasy that attempts to symbolize or otherwise fill out this empty place of social reality.:124. Québec. the Other is a site in language. 9 Alfredo A Carrasquillo. 1994:177. 6 Alfredo Carrasquillo Ramírez. New School for Social Research. la universidad. 8 Bruce Fink. The Sublime Object of Ideology. Reading Seminars I and II. December 26. July 1997. London: Verso. 4 Thinking of hysteria as a psychic structure differs from Juan Gelpí´s reductionist approach that centers its attention in an “ideological manipulation of psychiatric discourse. with gratitude and love. 1983:279. New York: Routledge. enthusiasm and kindness I dedicate this paper. Manya Steinkoler for reading the paper and giving me her feedback and suggestions. Lacan´s Return to Freud.:9 (my emphasis). To her energy. Buenos Aires: Paidós. Apollon makes clear that before being an imaginary Other. 7 Willy Apollon. 1994. 1981:95. 1997. London: Verso. Renata Salecl explains how in “Lacanian psychoanalysis. Fantasy gives consistency to what we call ´reality´. “Significación del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico en la Unión Americana. El Seminario de Jacques Lacan.” See Patricia Gherovici. 1996:262. 1 Edgardo Rodríguez-Juliá. 1 11 Luis Muñoz-Marín.C. I want to express my gratitude to Lourdes Adrienne Robles for her guidance in the process of translating certain quotes.” in Postdata 10-11 (December 1995):7. The Metastases of Enjoyment. by an ´antagonism´which prevents reality from being fully symbolized. Washington D.cit. “Lenguaje y poder en la clínica psicoanalítica: El amo. Puerto Rico: A Political and Cultural History. 1997:122. la histérica y el analista. 3:1 (1997):120. “Hysteria and Obsession. 13 Slavoj i ek. 12 Op. Literatura y paternalismo en Puerto Rico. 1992. “The signifier and its effects. (a) Fall 2000 • 66 . Albany: SUNY Press.NOTES * Revised version of a paper delivered at the Annual Conference of the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society.” in Richard Feldstein. Theory and Technique. 3 Arturo Morales-Carrión.” See Renata Salecl. Río Piedras: Ediciones Huracán. “The Logic of Permanent Union or The Structuring Fantasy of the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico.cit. 1994:15.” Address to the Annual Conference of the Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico. In the context of the same lecture.” in Clinical Studies. Libro 17. He differentiates between the Other. Bruce Fink and Maire Jaanus. A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis. Las tribulaciones de Jonás. op. 14 Bruce Fink.:125. 5 Jacques Lacan. which elides too easily the subjective responsibility of the hysterics.” unpublished paper. 15 Slavoj i ek. New York: Norton. eds. Fantasy thus functions as a scenario that conceals the ultimate inconsistency of society. The George Washington University. San Juan (February 14) 1958:4. as Patricia Gherovici argues in her review of Elaine Showalter´s book. fantasy is linked to the way people organize enjoyment (jouissance). 10 Diario de Sesiones… 37th Day. Río Piedras: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.” author´s notes from the Annual Training Seminar in Lacanian Psychoanalysis. I also want to thank Dr. 1951:1 28. Social reality is always traversed by some fundamental impossibility. “Book Review. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.” That understanding. presents a picture in which “the only villain seems to be the male doctor. 1993:55. December. Psychoanalysis and Feminism After the Fall of Socialism. 16 Fink. the way they structure their desire around some traumatic element that cannot be symbolized. 2 Juan Gelpí.
1 But why. as a concept. namely the traditional question of their reference.” “historically variable discursive practices. God)––which implies that. The modern (i. The subject is. (a) Fall 2000 • 67 . is not an issue as far as the subject is concerned. The subject in Lacan is neither philosophical foundation nor psychological ego. rather.The Cause of the Subject as an Ill–timed Accident: Lacan. what resists sense. and Aristotle Kirsten Hyldgaard Center for European Cultural Studies University of Aarhus. Sartre. Denmark The concept of the subject does not occur in Freud’s texts..” The subject constitutes an anti-reductionist concept. the purpose of thinking against such determinism. The fact that they do not refer to or constitute entities or essences is the point. Concerning sense.e. The point is presented in connection with Sartre’s concept of freedom. starting in the Renaissance) association of the subject with the empirical ego in philosophy is always problematic.” “structures. What do the real. the drive. The Lacanian subject is not an answer to the question of what the ground or foundation of being or of cognition might be: to answer this philosophical question via psychoanalysis one should rather look to its concept of fantasy. then. It is first and foremost a philosophical concept. They are comparable to what Sartre. the subject is traditionally defined as foundation or ground. called négatités. the subject poses the same problem we are faced with when we expound the various fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis. Aristotle’s concepts of the accidental. in Being and Nothingness.” “discourses. what resists being reduced to other founding conditions like “language. and how can the Lacanian subject be understood? Understanding. a ground that can have many names (the Idea. never presupposed. and the question of the Other’s gaze in both Sartre and Lacan. keep the concept of subject. the subject is not and never has been identical with the ego. rather. In philosophy. the unconscious refer to? They constitute negative concepts. the subject does not make sense––in at least two senses of the expression.2 The traditional way of interpreting psychoanalytic concepts is to expound them as yet another version of determinism: psychoanalysis as a variation on the anthropological theme of man’s being as determined by uncon scious drives. The Freudian concept of the unconscious and the Lacanian concept of the real serve. to be precise.
. A conflict between the proponents of biologism on the one hand and culturalism on the other has haunted psychoanalysis since its beginning. The simple. subject to and product of the symbolic order. its baffling of clear. The well-rehearsed counterpoint could be repeated yet again: that. And didn’t Lacan define the unconscious as “structured like a language” and as being “the discourse of the Other”? So. of course. choice. explanation goes that the meaning of the subject. trivial. sex. The enigmatic status of this drive as a concept. and acts. if man’s being is reducible to determining and causal factors. Freud was careful and explicit in distancing himself from both positions. historically variable discursive practices .. The correlative concepts––determinism and freedom––constitute one of the eternal and undecidable questions of philosophy. the concept of the unconscious follows in turn. discursive interpretation of any issue. which freedom. univocal interpretations testifies to its resistance to well-known reductions. A slightly less trivial way to put this would be to ask whether the use of the concept of drive and the unconscious in psychoanalysis makes the subject reducible to a deterministic construction of man’s being and thus renders the concept of freedom meaningless. choice and responsibility usually imply. indicates a concept that psychoanalysis tackles: the subject would be subject “for” in the sense of being the foundation of cognition. choice. Lacan agrees with the phenomenological rejection of what Sartre calls “the serious man’s” reduction of man’s being to “interior” psychological or “exterior” sociological determining factors (which today goes by the name of “discursive constructions”). his fundamental concept of the drive makes him resistant to both biologistic and culturalist reductionism.3 The argument or discussion is as old as psychoanalysis itself. subjectivity. be it the question of the body. or the social. then it would be out of the question to talk about concepts like freedom.”4 Once the fundamental concept of drive is mentioned. in psychoanalysis the subject is represented by signifiers. language. To make a very long story short. Put this way. on the contrary. rhetorical. choice and responsibility––against variations on reductionism and determinism. To claim that responsibility. the question is. Freud himself did not make things easier for us when he called the theory of the drives “our mythology. since I intend here to show how the Freudian concept of the unconscious and the Lacanian concept of “the real” form an unexpected alliance with Sartre’s concepts of freedom. and responsibility. and therefore anything but free and responsible. If man’s being cannot be conceived of as essentially different from organic and inorganic beings. are we not buried in dis- (a) Fall 2000 • 68 . and freedom never occur in psychoanalytic literature would be imprudent. The idea of the real is what makes Lacanian psychoanalysis resistant to a historicist. sense.The anthropological question of man’s being is classically formulated as the question of whether everything can be explained by and reduced to teleological finality or the causality of modern sciences. but it would not be imprudent to claim that they are rare.
If the motive is understood as cause. What matters is to define freedom in a way that does not make it reducible to any variation on determinism. The very moment when his commonsensical motive and his idea of having a free will are suspended.courses? No doubt. It is a question of anxiety confronted with the future. Freedom is the very negation of determinism. he has all the best intentions. In this example. for the interest which has determined the actual choice. decisions. Sartre proudly pronounced that “he did not have an unconscious. To be brief. If freedom is presented as a question of voluntarism. he just has to approach the gambling joint and put down a bet or throw the dice. I am free to throw myself into the abyss and I am free not to do so. as social ruin is threatening. This is indeed a well-worn example and can lead to a lot of humanistic talk about freedom and choice. deliberations. since nothing can either prevent or provoke the suicide. and will. And then. Sartre’s conclusion is that nothing prevents the man from jumping and nothing prevents him from not jumping. What you are not yet does not determine what you are. Whether he jumps or does not jump is caused by nothing. He is determined not to give in to his hitherto irresistible inclination. Freedom to Sartre has to be understood in opposition to determinism. intentions. But Sartre’s next example ought to have immunized him against such an interpretation. not even his motives. The compulsive gambler is a responsible person who has decided to stop gambling. namely the example of the man standing in front of the abyss and deliberating the possibility of suicide. determinism is preserved. one has to look for the motive. it is thus a question of anxiety (a) Fall 2000 • 69 . is the precise moment where his freedom shows itself. The first belongs to the repertoire of existentialism. his trouble defining this concept exhibits more or less the same difficulties we are faced with when we expound Lacan’s interpretation of the Freudian concept of the unconscious. taken as a question of voluntarism.” Sartre presents two examples to support his point. he is motivated––as the therapists claim one has to be.” [liberté d’indifférence ]. which his programme of “existential psychoanalysis” is supposed to reform? Freedom When we read Sartre’s extremely rich Being and Nothingness and his related exposition of freedom. as the free choice between alternatives. Sartre’s concept of freedom is not a question of voluntarism. He has made a decision. And what matters for him is to avoid “tedious discussions between determinists and the proponents of free will.” And is Sartre not right when he criticizes Freud and psychoanalysis for being just another variation on reductionism. of whether man has a free will or not. Apparently. When freedom is a question of free will it becomes a question of whether it is “me” and “my” decisions that determine the act or a question of “me” being driven by external motives––maybe even “unconscious drives. Nothing prevents him from approaching the gambling joint.
To avert alcoholism and stay sober he identifies himself as what he is not––an alcoholic––to be not what he is.5 The for–itself is defined ontologically as a lack–of–being [manqué d’être]. which again means that the subject is what it is not yet. you are not what you are.” misrecognition. Nor is it a question of the pluralistic answers common today (nobody gives univocal explanations. But Sartre’s point is rather that the gambler. smoker. we are told.towards the past. and possibility belongs to the for-itself as that which it lacks. Sartre’s point stresses that it is exactly Nothing that makes the gambler. alcoholics. And here Sartre would catch you off guard.” lack toward (a future) being. To objectify is a negating activity. deliberations collapse and show themselves to be impotent. (BN: 565. and drug addiction––is not to start asking whether it is all a matter of psychological. Usually “moralists” try to explain the situation as a struggle between common sense and passions––pathological interests––and claim that anxiety is just another not–wanting–to–know about monstrous unconscious motives: anxiety is really unacknowledged fear. alcohol.. Sartre’s famous concept. equivalent to Lacan’s concept of “méconnaissance. usually going under the name of “genes”). lack-of-being which in Lacan more often is written “manque à être.. FR: 624) Anyone familiar with Lacan will recognize this definition of the subject as manqued’être. Any identification of man’s being is a misrecognition or an example of bad faith. The for–itself chooses because it is lack. alcoholism. in order not to be what it is. Freedom is the concrete mode of being of the lack of being. by easing the kind of determinism called fatalism in through the backdoor. What you were does not determine what you are (not yet). “cause” is usually a combination of several factors. Anxiety has got everything to do with freedom. What we have expressed in Part Two in terms of lack can be just as well expressed in terms of freedom. intentions. a bit of child psychology and a bit of biology. and drug addict’s experience is the “nothing” that separates his being. The subject is always in relation to future possibilities. “bad faith”––that you are what you are not and are not what you are––is. Sartre’s case is that of (a) Fall 2000 • 70 . freedom is really synonymous with lack. Negativity and negation are the concepts that define man’s being. in short. the smoker. implying that the subject is not what is objectified. “psychogenic” compulsion of mysterious character or––in the case of compulsory smokers. as far as compulsion is concerned––be it gambling. the drug addict continue their fatal addiction. addicts––a physiological addiction to nicotine. When one identifies oneself. as prior motives. the subject makes an object of the subject. smoking. decisions. The important point. since the talk of fatality is yet another attempt to restore causality. and heroin.. An example of this mechanism: The alcoholic in Alcoholics Anonymous starts out by identifying himself as an alcoholic––in order not to be one.
break down. This is bad faith. and by singular is meant an act that takes place as if by chance and as if repetition were out of the question. it does something. The subject is not reducible to a “structure” or to a “discourse. a latent being. a singular. The concept of freedom seems equivalent to the concept of the unconscious. seemingly non-repetitive event. It is rather a negativity.” If the concept of freedom in the following quotation is swapped with the concept of the unconscious we find the latter clarified: The very use of the term “freedom” is dangerous if it is to imply that the word refers to a concept as words ordinarily do. an evil man. if recognized. since the unconscious is not an entity. The unconscious reveals itself in a singular (speech) act. Lacan calls it “pre–ontological.“the evil man. The unconscious does not consist of a repertoire of contents.” who confesses to be characterized by all sorts of unpleasant traits of character––he is unfaithful. Yet they did not deter us. this is misrecognition. The unconscious is a lack of being. This is because there are descriptions which do not aim at the essence but at the existent itself in its particularity [singularité]. The unconscious is performative. it has become something that he is not.” Strictly speaking. that is. a lying cheat etc. a hole in chains of signifiers. and misrecognition––which could be the very reason why Lacan kept using the concept of subject. ( BN: 438. the unconscious cannot be defined. It is not a storehouse or repository of dream–like images which may at times surface. or a sort of image bank. lack of determinable essence. the subject shows itself in its singularity. The unconscious is that which could. FR: 492) The psychoanalytic concept of the unconscious shows itself as a negativity. The subject is freedom. Freedom is “a hole in being” [trou d’être] comparable to the effects of the unconscious. a négatité. Something is heard as holes and lacks in speech. in these moments when “something” can neither be admitted nor abolished from the discourse. is freedom also indescribable? Earlier when we wanted to describe nothingness and the being of the phenomenon we encountered comparable difficulties. something shows itself in inappropriate acts. Indefinable and unnamable. “Freudian slips”––those moments when well ordered chains of speech acts are broken into by something alien. He can thereby continue to be what he is not. One response to this could be Sartre’s: he remarked that this should not “deter us.” The subject and its radical singularity “is” in these moments of pure negativity. In these moments of breakdown. and Sartre’s claim––that he does not have an unconscious––is justifiable. show bad faith. By this confession his evilness has been objectified. the unconscious “is” not. In this sense. (a) Fall 2000 • 71 . as what distorts and breaks down discursive continuities. in the sense of being delimited.
fortunately. As long as we stay within chains of causes and effects. Perhaps the reason these Aristotelian concepts came in handy for Lacan was that he could thereby express the cause of the subject as an accident or an ill–timed coincidence. (197b) The horse that escapes danger by accidentally coming to a place of safety is another example. but the subject (in the psychoanalytical sense) is rather what resists sense. the subject’s place is both where chains of causes and effects are broken and where there is a continuous and precarious effort to deal with and make sense of this non–sensical. And this other kind of causality is the reason Aristotle can be of use to Lacan. (196a) The cause of the accidental is. the horse actually does do this and thereby avoids the accident. and so too in all other cases when we allege chance as the cause.Tyché and Automaton In Lacan’s The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis6 drive is one of the “fundamentals. causa materialis and causa finalis). it has been dropped by someone for the express purpose of hitting the other. according to Aristotle. Lacan makes use of two Aristotelian concepts for accidental occurrences: tyché and automaton. of the efficient kind (causa efficiens. the reason of his meeting him was that he wanted to go marketing. there is always some other cause to be found. To be more precise. But accidents––fortunate or unfortunate ones––raise the problem of what kind of causality is at play. requires in Aristotle a being that acts with consciousness and purpose––which thus excludes plants. but that its cause is placed in “another scene. Tyché happens unpredictably when we plan on saying or doing something meaningful and purposeful. Its place is where chains of cause and effect are accidentally disrupted. on the other hand. which implies that the problem first and foremost is a question of the (a) Fall 2000 • 72 . and it is never really chance. The subject is a matter of bad timing. a future purpose. if a man comes to market and there chances on someone he has been wishing to meet but was not expecting to meet there. however.” the scene of the drives. of course. everything makes sense.7 These have to do with the contingent. Tyché and automaton differ in that automaton is the more general term that includes tyché as a special class. Automaton is reserved for accidental occurrences in nature. not that the subject is without cause. but. 198a). To any act a motive may be attributed an intention. in contrast to that which happens through and repeats itself with necessity. but it does not fall in order to hit him––unless. The point is. The horse does not run from one place to another on purpose to avoid danger.” In connection with drive. In Aristotle tyché and automaton designate causes which cannot immediately be understood within the ancient four–dimensional conception of causality (causa efficiens. lying in the background behind factual circumstances. causa formalis. A stone falls and accidentally hits someone. Tyché. inassimilable real. For instance. animals and children. a future finality.
the small element of reality. It is a singular encounter with the real. as if repetition were not an issue. since drive and sexuality cannot be explained within a horizon that posits the survival of the fittest as its ultimate purpose. Drive can thus be distinguished from the non-Freudian concept of desire which is “timed” by being a metonymic slide from one signifier to the other. 8 Sexuality. which represents a conflict in its very purposefulness. The real may be represented by the accident. the efficient and the final kind both: the satisfaction of an unconscious wish. concerns “the encounter with the real. (a) Fall 2000 • 73 . The Return of Teleology The traditional way of telling the story of the origin of modern sciences goes that they are constituted by a break with a teleological idea of causality. that is. especially.this. Natural sciences have to do with functions. meaningless relations between quantifiable variables. the coming–back. says Freud is the Trieb. The scene of the drives is “another scene” that disrupts the scene of wishes. and intentions. in an effort to eliminate sense and purpose: only causality of the efficient kind reigns. In Lacan ( FFC: 53-64) the automaton designates the network of signifiers (“réseau de signifiants”): the return. as systems.” (FFC: 53) It is something that happens by chance. defined as reproductive sexuality. the insistence of signs. As an ideal.causa finalis. however. of finding a purpose. Two competing forms of teleology are at play. on the other hand. This ought to ring a bell. Freudian slips are accidents in speech and act. FR: 59) This “other reality” is what shows itself in Aristotle’s tyché. Teleology seems to crop up like a return of the repressed. seemingly senseless events without evident purpose. What makes psychoanalysis extraordinary is not just that it reintroduces sense despite Freud’s neuro-biological training (dreams. The traditional Freudian analytic interpretation has thus to do with restoring the idea that everything has a cause. in distinction to the automaton which was a repetitive insistence of signs. has trouble getting rid of the teleological perspective due to the fact that one of its fundamental assumptions is that biological organisms. ( FFC: 60. The other scene is essentially bad timing or ill–timed. has as its ultimate goal the transference of the individual’s genes and the survival of the species. Modern science eliminates sense. But. purposes. slips of the tongue. but rather that this sense goes hand in hand with sexuality. this reality is not small. are organized towards reproductive fitness. for what wakes us is the other reality hidden behind the lack of that which takes the place of representation . jokes all have a meaning. they serve the purpose of satisfying an unconscious wish). The drive is at work here––seemingly by accident. Tyché. the noise. The “other scene” or “other reality” of the drives shows itself in such accidental occurrences. which is evidence that we are not dreaming. We know from Freud that this other scene does not respect the fundamental laws of non–contradiction and of time––the idea of a cause preceding its effect and of things happening in some kind of temporal order. Biology.
(a) Fall 2000 • 74 . the positions taken by the psychoanalyst and the “analytic” towards a case are some of the least self-evident matters in the theoretical debate. From his structural inheritance he eliminates sense. a physical or psychological trauma. even dystychia. as Lacan states. Lacan makes the opposite move. So sense is yet again an issue. The idea of the drive as being on the border between the somatic and the psychic.given its autoerotic and polymorphous perverse foundations sexuality cannot explain the survival of the species. In Freud. The foundation of the subject is a trauma. or rather a senseless event that has to be made sense of. The trauma is in–assimilable by being ill–timed. it is always subordinated to sense. analysis once again has to do with senseless forms and the disruption of these forms. To have a traumatic effect an event has to be interpreted. (196b) Aristotle is not willing to take responsibility for such a hypothesis––it is only “some” who think this––and God knows what the purpose is. The senseless accident keeps returning. Roughly speaking. but one that has a something divine and mysterious about it. a cause for the subject as an accidental. and it is a cause of an effect that is integrated into a horizon where it is made sense of. a mishap.) No immediate and evident reason or cause for the subject can be pinpointed. The cause of a trauma can only be the cause by occurring either too early or too late. And the subject is “responsible” for this “original choice” of interpretation. The accident. hold that fortune [tyché] is a genuine cause of things. of the drive as being a psychic representation of an innersomatischen Reizquelle. Aristotle offers another possible solution to the situation that the accidental is only seemingly without purpose: Some. one always finds a conflict––between the principles of pleasure and reality and later between life and death. It is the task of mortal psychoanalysts to bring to light this divine. an event that hereafter will be the foundation of sense. to the meaningful. As we know. an accidental event. mysterious and unintelligible purpose of the accidental. never laid to rest. contingent event. In a psychoanalytic connection it is meaningful in two senses: the accidental event is an effect of a cause in another scene. that makes it inscrutable to the human intelligence. A trauma is understood as an event without necessity. an event that does not make sense. This corresponds to Aristotle’s point about the senseless tyché: it is only seemingly accidental. The traumatic experience crucially consists in its never just being a fatal experience––an occurrence to be understood as something that came from the exterior and made a wound. could be understood as both a senseless and at the same time a “represented” event. The cause of the accidental has again become restricted to the efficient kind. (“Tough luck” would be a colloquial translation of dystychia. (Sartre) One can not get rid of sense. the tough luck. moreover. needs a “choice” of interpretation in order to become traumatic. never at ease. an event without immediate purpose.
Here it is a question of “representations”––an “image”––a screen of pictures behind which the real world. The world is anything but a senseless chaos. a purely formal pole. that which disorganizes the perceptual field. which makes the world a world. (a) Fall 2000 • 75 . however. but it can nonetheless never be thought of without the symbolic. a subject which is not a res extensa but rather a geometrical point (which by definition is without extension. The relation between the subject and the world is not immediate but rather mediated by images. The gaze image screen The subject of representation The question is why? The first triangle schematizes the subject of cognition. is that which disrupts this order.” The real resists sense. a subject without a body. In The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (FFC: 91 & 106) there are two schemata of perception. the Ding an sich. which gives order to the world. without dimensions) outside the world: it is the subject of linear perspective. Lacan lets them overlap. Tyché. the chose en soi is supposed to be. ordered whole. an oriented. On page 106.Object image Geometral point Point of Light screen Picture The Other’s gaze The concept of tyché as the senseless encounter with the real crops up in Lacan’s discussion of perception and “the eye and the gaze. a detached spectator.
is to show that the subject which psychoanalysis speaks about is neither the transcendental. To be is to be seen. The Other is an immediate experience rather than a question of cognition––as in the famous example of the shame experienced when you look through the keyhole. in Sartre the other as subject of the gaze). The eye and the gaze––this is for us the split in which the drive is manifested at the level of the scopic field. as this would imply an object.The second triangle presents the opposite point: behind the screen we do not find things in themselves but the “point of light. the second schema presents the idea that just as the subject is not a subject in the philosophical sense of being the foundation of meaning. FR: 70) The question of tyché in the visual field can make this point explicit. According to Sartre. It is the experience without distance of being an object to the Other. a particular other.”10 The Other’s gaze creates the recognition of being what the Other might see in you. however. The subject is created in the image of the world. in the same way.. The Other’s being subject of the gaze can never be a question of knowledge. caught and manipulated in the visual field. To see presupposes a bodily presence––as phenomenology teaches us. bodily object. the subject is not the subject of visual experience. the other is an object who (in distinction to all other objects in the world) is the permanent possibility of turning the situation upside down (of creating a “haemorrhage”) by making the subject into an object of the Other’s gaze (regard). the gaze. the other as object).e. a supposition.” The laws of perspective dictate that the eye is the physical point towards which the rays of light converge. Thus. To see is to be seen. (FFC: 73. The subject poses. to be is to pose. and the other as other (i.” Sartre’s description of the Other’s gaze in Being and Nothingness can furthermore serve as an exposition of the need to distinguish between the other as Other (i. variable constructions). a passage Lacan quite rightly calls “brilliant. 9 Man’s being is a portrait. the subject is a tableau. Shame is the definition of (a) Fall 2000 • 76 . The point of the overlapping two triangles. from Being and Nothingness. Knowledge concerns objects.” just like the ambassadors in Holbein’s painting. universal subject of philosophy nor a subject that is reducible to a product of representations (historically. “has got an attitude. of making the subject into an object. jealous lover bending over the keyhole or this shameful creature caught with his fingers in the candy box.e. But to expound the point about “the split between the eye and the gaze” it would be useful to draw in Sartre’s famous passage about le regard. The sound of footsteps that stop in the hallway or the slight movement of curtains might represent the possibility of an Other’s looking at the subject. that the subject is not someone who “uses” language but is rather constructed in and represented by language. The Other as gaze is not necessarily represented by another concrete object. this shameful. The subject is here a visible. he is rather a mere possibility. The Other’s gaze is “an intermediary which refers from me to myself.
In other words he does not serve as a regulative or constitutive concept for the pieces of knowledge which I may have of myself. FR: 328) The Other is an immediate experience of malaise. The experience of the Other is nevertheless always as a concrete. as in Genesis.11 Sartre’s exposition of the Other’s not being a formal condition of possibility for knowledge––as the concept of intersubjectivity implies––might be a description of a neurotic structure as the basis of man’s being. Sartre stresses that the Other is not a matter of plurality. But these two objectivations.” Being an object to the Other is experienced with immediate evidence. to the Other. FR : 315) The Other is not a formal condition of possibility for being in the world. The Other through whom this Me comes to me is neither knowledge nor category but the fact of a strange freedom. either as the multiplicity of objects or as the purely formal concept of God […] as the omnipresent. does not know what the Other wants and what he is. Rather.. that the Other is what the subject can refer to as a guarantee for the objectivity of his cognition. that is. abstract objectivation.. a limit which I cannot reach and which yet I am. whereas the experience of the possibility of somebody looking is beyond doubt.being human. since plurality belongs only to objects.. The neurotic. the concrete.. the Other is that which makes the world disappear by making the subject into an object. not as “a unifying regulative category of my experience since he comes to me through an encounter?” (BN: 269.” ( BN: 281.” never of certainty. The relation to the Other is fundamentally asymmetrical. In other words. infinite subject for whom I exist.e. a question of “uneasy indetermination. (a) Fall 2000 • 77 . objective presence can only be a mere possibility. Thus myself–as–object is neither knowledge nor a unity of knowledge but an uneasiness. an “uneasy indetermination” in a concrete meeting. but only for the Other. by an actual. particular. when Adam and Eve see and realize that they are naked. The subject cannot know whether the moving curtain represents somebody actually looking. but the question of whether the Other’s gaze is supported by actual eyes. the prenumerical presence of the Other. a question that always presupposes symmetry and reciprocity. does not constitute the subject as an object for himself. FR: 321-322) This could be interpreted as a variation on the Lacanian theme of the Other’s not “existing. both lack proved reality––that is. particular situation. i. Being an object. a lived wrenching away from the ekstatic unity of the for–itself. shame is the original experience of being an object for the Other. it is not a question of intersubjectivity. (BN: 275. Knowledge about objects in the world can only be probable. however. particular other in a concrete. the Other is not equivalent to the phenomenological thesis that truth and cognition are intersubjective. if anything. in contrast to the evident experience of the Other. enumerating objectivation and the unifying.
If we forget the traditional etiquette of not staring at others in public places. The world is watching the subject. has a “flaw. Lacan points out. disrupts the visual field. His nose is an object to her eye. that it takes desire to be captivated––by what the subject can see through the (a) Fall 2000 • 78 . is now placed both on plane of the object and on the plane of the point of light. “There is a flaw in my iris. deferred action. and time stands still. as they say. but when Gittes focuses on the flaw.” The subject does pose for the Other’s gaze––regard––which. adding to Sartre’s scenario. in the schema. hysterical forced precipitation or obsessional delayed. it creates the above-mentioned “haemorrhage. He has “stolen” the world from her.The Other’s gaze is both what makes the subject into an object that is seen and what.” She. Gittes (Jack Nicholson) to the bathroom in order to clean a cut on his nose. It is on the object’s plane that the gaze resides.” The already eroticized scene must. due to this split. that the drive manifests itself. in this particular split second of realizing that one is an object for the Other’s gaze. Suddenly he begins to talk about the colors around her pupil and she answers after a slight hesitation that. To repeat: “The eye and the gaze––this is for us the split in which the drive is manifested at the level of the scopic field. as such. a distanceless relation to and manipulation of the object. a photograph: the subject is the “subject of representation. But it is in the split second when the subject wakes up and realizes his or her impolite staring. like Sartre’s ‘voyeur. According to Sartre the ego is an object. in this very moment of moral reflection and uneasy shame. as in all famous kissing scenes in the movies. the subject is visible. the subject has turned into an object of the Other’s gaze.” Until then she had been in the position of looking at the object.” It is understood that this inversion of her eyes on him in favor of his gaze on her intimidates and momentarily discomposes her. Reflection in general puts the subject in the position of the object. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) has taken J. Another example is the famous kissing scene in Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974). Being “self-conscious” or “self-reflective” is to be in a state of uneasy indetermination regarding what one is to the Other. something about the object has captivated one. too. J. lead to a kiss performed with the perfect timing that probably only exists on film. When Lacan lets the two schemata overlap each other it implies that the subject is indeed a picture. It is something experienced as an accident. Mrs. In this. we can escape from two variations on the bad timing of the drive.’ accidentally caught in flagranti.
one element refers to the next. The perception. purposes of one’s acts on the foundation of tradition and factual circumstances. passive canvas for the brushstrokes of the Other’s gaze.…the subject in question is not that of reflexive consciousness. the formalism or structuralism that insists on the subject’s status as represented. it is an original choice of interpretation that has become the screen through which the world is perceived. produced and constructed. The concept of scopic drive makes such a reduction impossible.. the world is in order..famous key hole––desire must contribute in order to make intelligible that the subject is captivated by the (gaze of the) object. without representations as a middleman. ( FFC: 60. something catches one’s eye. To perceive anything presupposes that some kind of sense is made of it. Then. Perception is “situated. Perception is oriented. a phenomenon is such because it appears immediately. suddenly. To the phenomenologist. ad infinitum. intentions. meaning and interpretation of any situation is created between what is seen as future possibilities in the background of a past that is interpreted retroactively. The subject is not an empty. The place of the real.” determined by future possibilities. FR: 58-59) This making sense of the meaningless and accidental is the Urphantasie that becomes like “a philosophical category. Fantasy can be understood as the unconscious response.in so far the phantasy is never anything more than the screen that conceals something quite primary. On the other hand. The very foundation of the subject. To conclude: if it were not for drive and the function of the tyché perception and being–in–the-world would form a peaceful co-existence between a world that gave itself to be seen and a subject that “had an attitude.” (a) Fall 2000 • 79 . the continuity is breached. is such a fundamental breach.” (FFC: 89) But the drive manifests itself in this disruption of the desire to be lost in the object. The subject is the neither–nor of the two first schemata.. the subject–centered phenomenology that does not recognize that representations or images should be a screen between the subject and the world.” this accidental. the unconscious interpretation of this “primitive scene. The drive manifests itself as bad timing. something determinant in the function of repetition. a world that is supposed to be “out there” in the exterior world. a tradition that will not recognize what they consider a postulate of immediate continuity between experience and reality or the real. It is the screen through which the subject perceives the world and is interpreted by the world. which stretches from the trauma to the phantasy . the trauma. but that of desire.” as Freud puts it in The Wolfman. motives. the subject is not reducible to being made in the image of the world. This is probably also the reason why it seems to be unproblematic for Lacan to draw on two traditions that are typically presented as irreconcilable: on the one hand.” just like the ambassadors in Holbein’s picture and all their vain “vanitas. contingent event. something disturbs the visual field. a screen that shows itself in the way the subject poses––his or her attitude.
The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. especially Francisco J Ayala. tr. Being and Nothingness. (a) Fall 2000 • 80 . op. by the human being and which in their inner structure are inhabited by negation.: The MIT Press. and Extimité. Wicksteed and Francis M. London: William Heineman LTD. enlist it in the set of that which can be counted. 2 “There is an infinite number of realities which are not only objects of judgment. Third.” to make it into a concept of God. Paris: Gallimard. Du symp tôme au fantasme et retour. London. but we can at least hint at its meaning by saying that this nothing is made-to-be by the human being in his relation with himself.” Jean PaulSartre. however. 1978. Paris 1973. Hereinafter FR] 3 For an important discussion of the anti-historicism of psychoanalysis. interprets Sartre’s concept of the gaze as a “transcendental eye. BN: 275 and 281 [FR: 322 and 328].e. and London: The MIT Press. [The original French is L’être et le néant. lectures from 1982-1983. Colin Allen.] 7 From Aristotle. the structure of motives as ineffective is the condition of my freedom.:47-50.” It has. If someone asks what this nothing is which provides a foundation for freedom. [Original French: Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psych analyse. Hereinafter FFC. Nature’s Purposes. Norton and Company Inc. Mass.” 44-45. 5 “This freedom which reveals itself to us in anguish can be characterized by the existence of that nothing which insinuates itself between motives and act. Miller’s unpublished seminars.. and George Lauder. We shall call them négatités. See also Joan Copjec’s exposition of this issue. Second. 4 Sigmund Freud. Seuil. 1994.” “a pure and absolute subject. become customary to translate the look of the Other with “gaze” and the look of the subject with “vision” and “look. New York and London: Routledge. on the contrary.” Sartre. feared. 192b. 1929. “Teleological Explanations in Evolutionary Biology. cit. Imago Publishing Co. Cambridge.. First. 1998. as empirical objects. Cornford. It is not because I am free that my act is not subject to the determination of motives. as by a necessary condition of their existence. Neue Folge der Vorlesungen zur Einführung in die Psychoanalyse. In the English translation “regard” is translated by “look. 10 BN: 259 [ FR: 305].” 11 Sartre. The Physics. we shall reply that we can not describe it since it is not. Analysis of Function and Design in Biology.. 1943:58.” if by “transcendental” is meant a formal condition of possibility for cognition of entities as entities. etc. 1996:164ff. the Other may be “transcendent” in the sense of being that which is beyond any possible cognition. Gesammelte Werke XV: London. but which are experienced. opposed. BN: 34 [ FR: 69–70] 6 Jacques Lacan. Philip H. i. Hereinafter: BN. 1940:101. Mass. Slavoj i ek is no doubt the one that throughout his work has given this philosophical point its most powerful exposition.W. 8 Cf. Hereinafter FR. see Joan Copjec’s Read My Desire. Book II. lectures from 1985-1986.. Routledge 1998:2. Cambridge. It is therefore problematic when Kaja Silverman in The Threshold of the Visible World. Lacan Against the Historicists. 9 On the cover of the original French version of The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. To interpret Sartre’s Other as a transcendental eye would be to make it “exist.-A.NOTES 1 Apart from in Lacan himself this point is presented in J. the Other does not concern the world but as already stated the immediate experience of being an object to the Other. the Other is a concrete and particular condition for the subject being an object for the Other. New York: W. Marc Bekoff.
like his visual compositions (drawings of rape scenes. its Library of Congress classification characterized it simply as “erotic fiction––French.Klossowski.” The larger stakes of Klossowski’s work are easily obscured by his free adaptation of the stock themes of “perverse” literature.1 They probably know as well that he was the author chosen to replace Jacques Lacan when the latter’s “Kant avec Sade” was deemed unsuitable as the introduction to Pauvert’s edition of the Oeuvres Complètes of the Marquis de Sade. often on historical or mythological themes––Diana and Acteon. and JeanFrançois Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy . Ce Soir & The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Laws of Hospitality T (a) Fall 2000 • 81 . His art graces the cover of Serge André’s L’Imposture perverse. and that his work inspired two of the greatest counter-psychoanalytic works of the 1970’s––Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus. When his brilliant 1965 trilogy Les lois de l’hospitalité was partially translated in English under the title Roberte. and hailed by unironic readers of his Sade. mon prochain as Sade’s disciple and heir. His fictional works. ce soir Tracy McNulty Cornell University o the extent that Pierre Klossowski is recognized by psychoanalytic audiences. But the seriousness of his reflections on (and also against) psychoanalysis have never been systematically explored. the rape of Lucretia) explore the conflict between a woman’s chaste moral attitude and her gradual surrender to an assailant’s advances. it is as the very emblem of perversion. he has been “diagnosed” as a pervert by psychoanalytic writers on both sides of the Atlantic.
but rather the staging of its internal contradiction. what he understands by “hospitality” is not the abolition of personal identity. But although Klossowski may share Sade’s perverse drive to “humiliate the law with the object. As in the great manifestoes of perversion. they name a practice wherein the master of the house “offers” his wife to fortuitous guests. the Thing uncannily internal to subjectivity Lacan later identified with the function of the Nebenmensch. His “laws of hospitality” are the fruit of his desire to experience this operation firsthand. Etymologically. In proving that the law cannot hold up against the repeated assaults of libertinage. But something very different from the Sadeian project of uprooting religious morality is at stake in Klossowski’s “perverse” meditations.” the illusion of autonomous personhood. in order to savor the moment of her surrender. he seeks to mount a systematic deconstruction of the symbolic order of language by the real of jouissance. (SEM VII: 151-2) Although Klossowski’s erotic scenario invites comparisons with Sade’s and Fourier’s utopian calls to dissolve the privative boundaries between subjects.”4 His fiction underscores the close ties between the feminine and what Freud called das Ding.” who “eminently personifies” identity: not (a) Fall 2000 • 82 . Klossowski sheds light on Jacques Lacan’s enigmatic insight that the cultural importance of the feminine object consists in its sublimated status as an “object raised to the dignity of the Thing. Klossowski’s reflections on the special status of femininity––at once marginal and singularly “extimate”––in Enlightenment culture have never been fully appreciated. Octave (who bears more than a passing resemblance to his creator).concerns the erotic awakening of a woman that exposes a contradiction in her moral character and reveals her symbolic identity to be without foundation. Sade challenges the patriarchal and religious authorities of his day by demonstrating that the paternal signifier on which their laws are based is without foundation. but rather the imaginary consistency afforded by what he calls the “grammatical fiction of the ‘I’. despite their enormous interest for the psychoanalytic study of culture. but rather the feminine object who disrupts the identity of the “master” who offers her. the host is the “master. as the very apotheosis of the Christian idea of the neighbor. at the Limits of the Law Hospitality––whose theological and philosophical origins this Latin scholar and former Dominican novice was intimately acquainted with––concerns a very particular tension. 2 What he demonstrates is the unfoundedness of the law of personal identity. The “object” with which he confronts it is not the natural “truth” of jouissance. by virtue of the death of God. Its protagonist. is a collector of artworks that eroticize the moment of moral hesitation experienced by women submitting to the sexual advances of a chance stranger––or even a “spiritual” apparition. Klossowski proceeds implacably toward the demonstration of a thesis concerning the status of the signifier––or law. In a way unique among contemporary authors. Hospitality.” 3 his target is not the signifier as such.
in the absence of religion. YHWH. In the ancient Greek. where identity is established at the very point of its dissolution. the so-called “hospitality industry” of tourism). can we imagine––much less practice––the radical opening of identity that an ethics of hospitality demands? The modern era has toyed with two different answers. This tension marks an aporetic limit. The first replaces the absolute ethics of hospitality with formalizable laws that absorb the stranger’s foreignness under a common measure. since man’s relation to the divine allows for identity to be realized in its dispossession. and evaluates the character of human hosts by appealing for hospitality disguised as a supplicant. the most famous host in the Western tradition. 5 At the same time. and even to be valorized. even to the point of giving away what defines him as master and host. however. beg certain questions. rendering them interchangeable. These traditional formulations. God represents an alterity that is affirmatively construed. reversible positions that can be designated by the same term (as in the French hôte). and Christian traditions.only his own. would hospitality have outside of a sacred or religious context? If God. a sacred act that mandates an extreme exposure and dispossession on the part of the host. Accordingly. while at the same (a) Fall 2000 • 83 . community membership) or a principle of economic exchange (as in the most modern avatar of hospitality. to subjectivity. embodies such a tension: the biblical injunction to “make the stranger native among you” (Leviticus 19:34) inaugurates a relation to subjectivity characterized by nomadism and estrangement. the stranger would simply annihilate––and not realize––his host’s identity. the host’s identity is paradoxically established through dispossession: the best host is the one who has given the most. whose true identity must nonetheless remain hidden for authentic hospitality to take place. unknowable Other. is the “ultimate” guest (the stranger inassimilable in its difference) then how. in almost every hospitality tradition. neither wholly satisfactory. The choice of a religious figure to represent the dialectic of hospitality is not incidental. it is. the Holy Trinity) incarnates hospitality. Jewish. implied in Klossowski’s idiosyncratic take on hospitality. but also that of the group in whose name he acts. actualized by the divine stranger. Such solutions erase the fundamental inequality between host and guest. As the absolute. in his unknown quality. The patriarch Abraham. Were the guest not potentially divine. What meaning or relevance. for example. The increasing secularization of human relations has left no place for the other to be considered “sacred” in its unknowability. Hospitality is motivated by the potentially sacred nature of the guest. the principal divinity (Zeus. Hospitality becomes a uniquely religious relation. such as a legal designation (national identity.” or uncannily intimate. where strangeness is figured as “native. If the host submits to the dispossession of his identity. but also allows this dispossession to be successfully endured. the host both does and does not know the identity of his divine guest. because of the implied promise that through his act his identity will also be realized. or at least an occasion to gain recognition by the divine.
To the Christian imperative to “love the neighbor.8 His thesis involves the end of the positive idea of personal identity that the monotheistic understanding of God perpetuates. In reworking the topoi of the stranger. its dominant figure is the eternal return of (a) Fall 2000 • 84 . Sade seeks to erase the borders not only between nations. 9 But while Nietzsche is critical of the notion of identity upon which hospitality is predicated. but the way in which the person of the stranger has been increasingly inscribed within categorical determinations. but also. the Nietzschean “death of God” entails the annihilation of all principles. inspired by the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and his doctrine of the Eternal Return. In the process. The estrangement that characterizes Hebraic hospitality is “redeemed” in the brotherhood of Christ. Instead. however. Klossowski’s formulation of hospitality does not accept either alternative. more generally speaking. Klossowski invents a third way. identity itself must disappear along with God.time providing no compelling new reason for the host to accept the dispossession of his identity that hospitality requires. it is important for Klossowski’s purposes that he does not dismiss the importance of hospitality altogether. 7 Where post-Enlightenment hospitality merely substitutes secular “principles” for religious values. the problem is larger than just secularization. the “transvaluation of all values”––including the value of personal identity itself.10 Hospitality thus sketches the horizon of a modernity that can no longer appeal to a transcendental representation of identity. since it allows for the faithful to be made equal as “values” of the one Christ by their consumption of the host. Klossowski draws the logical conclusion from Nietzsche’s argument that for the transvaluation of all values to be complete. Nietzsche implies that the sacred determination of the hospitality act is not what is outdated. which makes men “neighbors” at the expense of disavowing or even demonizing their strangeness. between the self and the other. Christian “eucharistic hospitality”––the doctrinal name for the practice of communion––is the transubstantive equivalent of this secular reciprocity.” Nietzsche opposes a “love of the most distant”––the most distant man or man of the future. Moreover. Sade does not so much revive the stakes of hospitality as disavow what is most fundamental to it: the encounter with the other as the internal limit of the subject’s “own” identity. which is less the apotheosis than the repressed underside of the first: the complete erasure of privative frontiers between subjects through an imperative of “universal adulteration. “dissolved” subjectivity.” 6 Upholding a law of jouissance at the expense of legal identities or moral codes. Nietzsche demonstrates that the hospitality relation is where the “transvaluation of all values” will take place. and the uncanny. but between the sexes. the wanderer. the foreign or the unfamiliar. making way for a non-identical. and between the human subject and the jouissance precluded by the law. The Marquis de Sade suggested a second alternative.
therefore. Octave. his own conception of hospitality breaks new ground by elaborating these problems within the domain of the sexual relation. and he hopes to apprehend it by provoking a certain “excess”––an “unknown” that eludes the conjugal gaze––in his wife Roberte. hospitality reemerges as an essential concern for modernity. Klossowski’s insistence on the hostess challenges these models with evidence of their limitations. but not as a subject. Paradoxically enough.the same as different. In the opening pages of Roberte. at the same time. An unlikely match for her husband. presenting a unique challenge to metaphysical notions of identity. By making the hostess the centerpiece of his conception of hospitality. Although Klossowski is indebted to Nietzsche. however. She exceeds the economy of exchange.” A severe beauty who is both a high-ranking member of the Chamber of Deputies and President of the Censorship Commission. and the many terms designating “the host” have no female equivalent. which has been largely suppressed or overlooked in its dominant institutional forms. As modern secular relations––”brotherly love. having no place in the reciprocal relation established between male host and male guest. Roberte is in many ways the supreme achievement of Enlightenment ideals. ce soir. the very cliché of the “emancipated woman. Despite its apparent archaism. In his fictional trilogy The Laws of Hospitality. recovers something latent within that tradition from its archaic origins. Klossowski departs from the familiar contours of the hospitality tradition and. Rather. hostess and guest. The feminine traditionally occupies an essential position within the hospitality relation. a feminist avant la lettre. at the expense of their privative identities. woman contests the reversibility of an “equal” relation to the other with evidence of a fundamental inequality with regard to the signifier that defines the sexual relation. something that he hopes to discover with the help of chance strangers. the host is always male.” equal rights. His protagonist. She is really the last person one would expect to see involved in such an intrigue––which is part of the point. For Octave suspects that there is something “more” to her. the feminine continues to occupy a marginal and uncertain position. The “hostess” is the key term in a hospitable relationship whose purpose is to “actualize” the inactual essences of host. Roberte is a real “Virginia Slims” kind of girl. the central novel in Klossowski’s trilogy. Klossowski’s critique is played out through a woman who is “offered” between men. is a retired professor of scholastic theology. But it does so not simply by giving her “equal” importance. In the religious and cultural traditions informing Klossowski’s work. He wants to experience the divine in a post-divine world. and legal citizenship––displace archaic modes of hospitality and exchange. dispossessed of its identity to itself. 11 he engages a relationship between a man and wife and the peculiar “laws of hospitality” that govern their marriage. (a) Fall 2000 • 85 . allowing her to take her place alongside the men.
one cannot at the same time take and not take. At the start the two are but isolated substances. My Uncle Octave would have been asking too much had he wished to prolong the instant of the opened door. though he be still far off. the master will call out to him. in maintaining the tension between identity and its dispossession. the master of the house seeks a relationship that is no longer accidental. or. It would be over in the blink of an eye. Klossowski reveals that the erotic awakening of the woman suspended between host and guest does nothing less than assume the place vacated by God..” . just as you. the guest. if you prefer. who was taking my aunt by surprise. such accidents as conspire to make a stranger of you. his relationship with you who have just set foot here were now but a relationship of one with oneself. he was already doing exceedingly well in getting the guest to appear in the doorway at the precise moment he did.. it isn’t necessarily clear why this scenario represents a compelling alternative to Christianity or tourism. between them there is none but accidental communication: you who believe yourself far from home in the home of someone you believe to be at home. enter a room when one is already in it. And while she was in fear lest the guest arrive––for with irresistible resolution Roberte awaited the arrival of some guest––the guest would already be looming up behind her as my uncle made his entry. he actualizes a possibility of the guest. getting the guest to loom up behind Roberte so that he. you bring merely the accidents of your substance. “Come in quickly. and in which his wife participates. Octave. as though. The host’s most eminent gratification has for its object the When my uncle Octave took my aunt Roberte in his arms. be there and not be there. entirely given over to my uncle’s presence. Octave. The “Laws of Hospitality” The “laws of hospitality” that Octave conceives. he inaugurates a substantial relationship between himself and the stranger. to him who bids you avail yourself of all that makes a merely accidental host of him. And catching a first glimpse of him. But as the novel unfolds. For with the stranger he welcomes. albeit one who has been banned from his post due to his predilection for writing perversely erotic fiction. for I am afraid of my happiness. one must not suppose that in taking her he was alone. for. having no greater nor more pressing concern than to shed the warmth of his joy at evening upon whomever comes to dine at his table and rest under his roof from a day’s wearying travel. But in my uncle’s mind it was all over and done with in the blink of an eye. To this end the host actualizes himself in the guest. whose hand-written pages are framed under glass and hung in the couple’s guest bedroom: The “actualization” the “laws of hospitality” effect assumes an “essential. just in time to surprise my aunt’s satisfied fright at being surprised by the guest. and once again my uncle would be on the point of taking my aunt in his arms. But because the master of this house herewith invites the stranger to penetrate to the source of all substances beyond the realm of all accident. the master becoming one with the stranger.. actualize a possibility of the host. borrowing from the guest his door-opening gesture. was not expecting him. but essential. An invited guest would enter while Roberte. he could behold them from the threshold and have the impression that it was he.” almost spiritual form.) (a) Fall 2000 • 86 . are elaborated in an extremely dense and cryptic argument.. might be able to sense that he himself was the guest as. obvious in their heavily theological tone. which will be not a relative relationship but an absolute one. after all.11 Admittedly.Octave’s nephew describes his uncle’s “laws of hospitality”: THE LAWS OF HOSPITALITY The master of this house [maître de céans]. (We must remember that they are composed by a Catholic theologian. waits anxiously at the gate for the stranger he will see appear like a liberator upon the horizon.
Now. a love that is the whole-hearted and harmonious obedience of mutual affection. But in Genesis. through the miraculous birth of his only son Isaac. and in this case she eludes him the more he wishes to know her faithful to him. the host welcomes the unknown in hopes that it might not be so unknown after all. Augustine understands Abraham’s hospitality as a prefiguration of the new covenant. The relation between them is “essential” to the extent that the host is “actualized” through his reception of the divine. would in this sense be undetermined and contradictory. or else the essence of the hostess is really constituted by infidelity. the mistress of the household exist only traitorously. he seems to be alluding to another important paradigm. to manifest herself before the eyes of the guest. to some one or other of the guests. but a love that rejoices in a good that is at once shared by all and unchanging––a love that makes ‘one heart’ out of many. For either the essence of the hostess is constituted by her fidelity to the host. in which case the host would cease to have any part in the essence of the hostess who would be susceptible to belonging accidentally.” Although the community of shared love may be “whole-hearted. who was born as a result of a promise. that behind the unknown name of the stranger there lies hidden an essence he does “know”––or at least knows how to name. actualization in the mistress of the house [maîtresse de céans] of the inactual essence of the hostess. And here the sole function of betrayal. composed of fidelity to the host. for fear that in the arms of the inactual guest come here to actualize her qua hostess. this authorizes the host to cause the hostess.” and calls for it to eclipse the master’s jealousy.” the precondition of its wholeness is a necessary exclusion––of “private will” or personal interest: Isaac. and for this reason is often read as prefiguring the annunciation . is rightly interpreted as symbolizing the children of grace . She is the medium through which the identities of host and guest are joined in an essential relation. If the essence of the hostess lies in fidelity to the host. as mistress of the home. as in Klossowski’s scenario. for the host in playing host must accept the risks––and these include the consequences of his wife’s strict application of the laws of hospitality and of the fact that she dare not be unmindful of her essence. however. such as the host visualizes it. the outcome of the game would be a foregone conclusion and (a) Fall 2000 • 87 . we might say. which through Christ makes possible a community of grace in which many are bound together in “one heart. the “absent cause” of his own identity. The notion of the mistress of the house reposes upon an essential basis: this essence is therefore subjected to restraint by her actual existence as mistress of the house. we see. Abraham’s reception of the disguised angels of God in Genesis 18. who form a community where there is no love of a will that is personal and.12 In Augustine’s interpretation of the hospitality bond. to resume under the inclusive logos of the divine signifier. essential in the existent mistress of the house. private. If the essence of the hostess lay in infidelity. In The City of God.. upon whom is this duty incumbent if not the guest? Does this mean that the master of the house expects betrayal at the hands of the mistress of the house? Now it seems that the essence of the hostess.The allegory that frames Octave’s elaboration of the “laws” is an obvious allusion to the most famous religious narrative of hospitality. The angels come to announce the transformation of Abraham’s merely mortal state into a holy one.. the hostess. the host’s transformation can only be achieved through the actualization of an inactual possibility of his wife. The angels promise to realize Sarah’s “inactual essence” by giving the barren woman a child. But when Octave describes the affect of curiosity as the “potentiality of the hospitable soul. is to lift this restraint.
in everyday life. the essence of the host is proposed as an homage of the host’s curiosity to the essence of the hostess. but an intruder who introduces a fissure into a reciprocal relation between two people. But the host wishes to experience the risk of losing. Abraham’s hospitality becomes a figure for the Holy Trinity. above all let him not suppose he could ever be cause for jealousy or suspicion when there is not even anyone to feel these sentiments. they enter into relation with one another only to the extent that they “actualize” the inactual essence of Christ. can have no proper existence except in that which would look to the hostess. as a potentiality of the hospitable soul. Against the notion of personal or communal identity as “whole” or “one.” he seems to advocate a similar reduction to a common measure.. where the third term is not an agent of unification. The host however is neither suspicious nor jealous. She does not so much mediate between the host and the guest as come between them. that is what he is after. like suspicion or jealousy. the essential relation between host and guest subsumes them into a transcendent community that neutralizes their particular identities. since it “actualizes” a higher identity through “communion” with the “absent cause. the means through which we enter into eucharistic communion with the Creator. the stranger acquires a sacred character. Hence by means of the guest he wishes to actualize something potential in the mistress of the house: an actual hostess in relation to this guest. he will. who become “values” of the one Christ through the act of communion. jealous. acquires a quasi-divine status. If the hostess’ essence remains thus indeterminate. In many Christian interpretations of hospitality. because to the host it seems that something of the hostess might escape him in the event this essence were nothing but pure fidelity on the part of the mistress of the house. and makes equality possible by mediating among the different participants. (a) Fall 2000 • 88 . would make a master of the house suspicious. “the stranger becomes the pretext. in this competition let them surpass each other in subtlety: let the host put the In Augustine’s paradigm. too. For to possess the faithless one qua hostess faithfully fulfilling her duties. akin to Christ’s eucharistic status as a “gift” who is both handed over to strangers and offered in sacrifice. In other words. His three-term relation is less a trinity than a sexualized threesome. For Christian theology. Let the guest not be the least uneasy. unbearable. Thus.” upheld by “laws. Hostess and guest do appear in “Christ-like” roles: Klossowski’s hostess. losing rather than winning in advance. Now this curiosity. reduced to the status of “pretexts” for some already familiar manifestation.” is the medium through which two distinct entities enter into a substantial relation. Klossowski. since he enters into the intimacy of the marriage to realize something latent within it. and in so doing he. the hostess facilitates the relation between them and at the same time insists on its fundamental impossibility. both alludes to Christian tradition and departs from it.” Klossowski makes hospitality synonymous with a conflict or division internal to identity.the host the loser before it starts. an inactual mistress of the house in relation to the host.. because he is essentially curious about that very thing which. grasp the essence of the hostess in the infidelity of the mistress of the house. as an “offering. Christ is present in host and guest alike.”13 The result is that individual strangers become less strange. however. When Octave writes that what he seeks with the stranger is a “relationship of one with oneself. were she naive. and feels that.” In the words of one doctrinal interpretation. 14 But Klossowski’s guest also serves a similar function. Let the guest understand his role well: let him then fearlessly excite the host’s curiosity by that jealousy and that suspicion. As a third term heterogeneous to the reversible dyad of host and guest. at whatever the cost. the latter enjoins the guest loyally to do his utmost. worthy in the master of the house but unworthy of a host..
translation modified) Gift and Theft The notion that the host’s identity can be “actualized” only through splitting or division points to yet another field of associations evoked by Octave’s laws: the logic of potlatch. In order that the host’s curiosity not degenerate into jealousy or suspicion. since everything is generosity. for it is upon this curiosity that the guest depends for his prestige. caught between the arms of the host and the stranger who. as source of communal coherence.. Klossowski sums up the guiding principle of the “laws of hospitality”: “In the beginning was betrayal. Whereupon the host shall be the master in his house no more: he shall have carried out his mission.. . the more he has: because his prestations will eventually be reciprocated by others. it is for you. The more the master gives. albeit qualified by her status as an object of rivalry and even of theft. and not by the host’s curiosity. the wife is suspended. the guest’s role involves competition. but Klossowski’s host invites the guest to do his utmost to incite jealous emotion––a very un-Christian turn of events. prestige. by you. If he pulls it off he will be heralded as an “angel”. and the guest make proof of the host’s curiosity: the term generosity has no place in this discussion. and everything is also greed. a contest in which host and guest meet as opponents in a struggle for prestige. but let the guest take all due care lest this jealousy or this suspicion grow to such proportions that no room is left in the host for his curiosity. cherished guest. (E12. she is no agent of harmonious unity.. “in the blink of an eye. but also––and most importantly––because his prestige accrues in the act of (a) Fall 2000 • 89 . and the threat of loss. for you to cast her forth from potentiality into existence: either the hostess remains sheer phantasm and you a stranger in this house if you leave to the host the inactualized essence of the hostess. the guest. the Christian logos. to discern the hostess’ essence in the mistress of the house. displacing the Word. guest’s discretion to the test. Augustine appeals for a hospitable community united in “one heart”. The partial surrender of his substance ultimately confirms the host’s mastery and prestige. He is called upon to undertake the very delicate operation of introducing a specific division into the bond between husband and wife. As a result. which grows in direct proportion to the loss or destruction of his goods. If the host’s curiosity aspires to actualize itself in the absent cause.. stuck in the middle. In his turn he shall have become the guest. in the fullest sense. her role in “actualizing” the hospitable relation between host and guest depends not on her status as a universal “value” or constant (as in the example of Christ) but upon her inconstancy. and by your presence you give an actuality to the hostess: you shall have full power over her as well as over the host.On the one hand.” ( FR: 172) An originary “betrayal” is called upon to realize hospitality as a principle of incoherence or dissolution. how does he hope to convert this absence into presence unless it be that he awaits the visitation of an angel? Solicited by the host’s piety. the essence of each different participant will remain unrealized. In the same way. F 110. if not. A divine gift. or else you are indeed that angel. will be completely actualized in an existence which shall be determined by you alone. the guest. And so. driven out of herself. But she also “comes between them” in the sense that she incites a rivalry. a highly ritualized form of hospitality that also promises to realize or to “actualize” the giver’s sacred status through loss or expropriation. you cannot help but see that it is in your best interest to fan the host’s curiosity to the point where the mistress of the house.” looms up in such a way as to loosen her husband’s hold over her. the angel is capable of concealing himself in the guise of a guest––is it you?––whom the host believes fortuitous.
in which the most prized virgin in the realm (for example. but to effect the forcible erosion or dissolution of the master’s personal property. who in turn must recognize and accept her theft by a worthy guest. as hostess.giving. This. according to the laws of social prestige. anything in return. and acquires its prestigious or even sacred dimension. The paradox is that as a family accrues prestige and advances up the social hierarchy. or what might even be called a logic of “sacred expenditure. or under the sign of godliness––the guest. (a) Fall 2000 • 90 . In the guise of the “knight errant” or “stranger from afar. in fact. on the other hand. it isn’t just because there are no worthy suitors in the realm. it becomes harder and harder for it to find suitable matches for its daughters. Octave-as-host augments his prestige by offering up his most cherished good to others.” For the aim of the prestation is not merely to accrue symbolic prestige by generously bestowing goods. winning a joust. The guest’s status as an “angel” is thus qualified by his role as thief. yet he neither expects. By solving a riddle. but because no suitor is good enough for her. or otherwise establishing his worth. Hence she is “given to God”: either literally removed from the sexual economy (by taking religious vows or assuming a sacred function. 16 If the prize virgin is barricaded in a tower or consigned to God. a possessor as “illegitimate” as he is “fortuitous. In the same way. If. it is also subtly different. who function as a kind of “social currency. including sacrifice). in which a family attains its status through the matches it arranges for its daughters.”15 Daughters must always marry “up. This is where the function of the guest or outsider as “thief” comes in. is what explains the phenomenon so common in legend. Roberte. that hearkens back to a context in which the “offering” of women is celebrated as the foundation of a prestige economy whose stakes cannot be reduced to mere commodification or exchange. To grasp the nuances of Octave’s “gift. is a gift who must be stolen from the host. Claude Lévi-Strauss showed that the aim of exogamy––above and beyond the cultural objectives of prohibiting incest or guaranteeing the spread of language––is to establish and maintain an economy of prestige. the family has fallen from favor.” he wanders the countryside like the gods of old. the daughters are unable to marry up and the family’s downward mobility is sealed. He receives no monetary compensation or honor from his “guests” (who. While Octave’s hospitality relation approximates the logic of potlatch. the princess or daughter of the ranking chieftain) is unable to marry at all. or given to one who presents himself as a god.” we have to appreciate its continuity with theft. nor does he enjoy others’ wives in exchange for his own.” The uniting of these two antithetical qualities in the person of the unknown stranger has a long cultural history. seeking out chance encounters through which he can establish his prestige. nor gets. according to LéviStrauss. dismiss him as a lecherous old pervert with a libertine wife).” and in principle will always do so as long as the family is on the ascent. He proposes to offer up his wife to chance strangers.
can belong to no one else. this “place” or chez soi is not just a dwelling place. by its very nature. the priceless good who shows her worth when the wife surrenders to a lover chosen by her husband. but the one who is “eminently himself. As he himself puts it later in the trilogy. A glance at this etymology here reveals the crisis Klossowski/Octave tries to provoke in hospitably offering the host’s own wife. that is closely tied to Benveniste genealogy: céans is related both to the house or casa where the master makes the law and to the chez soi as the “at-home- (a) Fall 2000 • 91 . the chez soi of identity in which the master gathers together and disposes of what is proper to him. The Dissolution of Privative Personhood In his seminal study of the Indo-European roots of hospitality. But as Benveniste makes clear. How can the master become the host without simply losing his wife? In other words.the guest wins the hand of the elite virgin or princess. but rather the master’s own wife. The possession Octave puts into circulation is not merely prized. and in direct opposition to it? The apparent antinomy between the interests of the host and the master of the home is all the more perplexing given how inseparable the two terms are etymologically. taking her for his wife or Lady. Émile Benveniste identifies two primary roots in the ancient compound hosti-pets: hostis––meaning “guest” or “host. maître de céans. The mastery of the potis is nothing other than ipseity itself. establishing her transcendence of all economies of exchange by introducing a gap into the reciprocity-based economy of social relations. it is the fact of residing within an identity. but inalienable: something that. between the faithfulness of the hostess and the fidelity of the mistress of the home. Whoever offers hospitality must be master at home. since it is not a prized damsel or marriageable virgin who is subject to “theft” by a stranger/god. The interloping stranger thus functions to “steal” the woman “too good” simply to be given away through available avenues of exchange. Klossowski adds a significant twist to the basic Lévi-Straussian paradigm in Roberte. source of the modern “potentate. chez lui. or even priceless.” and pet. each of which appear to be mutually exclusive.”17 The tension between prestige and loss is thus further complicated by a delicate balance between the claims of the host and the claims of the husband. ce soir. even prostituted by the husband. Potis identifies not just the master with authoritative power. meaning “master. Klossowski uses an archaic French term to designate the master of the house. The stranger “proves” the value of the woman he takes by removing her from circulation.” the very personification of personal identity. Of course. “the wife. how does hospitality avoid simply lapsing into adultery? Why does Klossowski’s Octave need to force this limit by trying to locate hospitality both within the marriage.” names the master of the home.”18 The Latin potis. the one who makes the law in the house (the casa). is nonetheless still the wife: the husband’s inexchangeable good.or pot-.
which mark the bearer’s responsibility for his whole clan.” “master. when the host offers his “own” substance to his guest it often takes the form of an ability to dispose of those female dependents who make up his personal property. or murder. In archaic practice.ness” of ipseity as self-identity. I drew attention earlier to the internal paradox of personal identity that the host embodies: the host as master personifies personal and group identity. personhood inheres in the ownership of certain ritual objects. the host often fulfills his duty toward the guest by offering up his mistress or unmarried daughters. What then is the property of the host? And who is the host. as though this sacrifice of his chattel represented a surrender of some part of “himself. and its Latin equivalent dominus.” The Greek pósis. The hostess thus attests to the presence of something improper within the host’s personal property. she also undermines the illusion of self-sufficiency and ipseity that the master is supposed to embody.” However. The connotations of “lord. In biblical narratives. this reasoning also implies that there is something heterogeneous about the host’s identity as a master “equal to himself. is both a poetic term for husband and the root of despótes. which is also intimately related to the domestic sphere and to the sexual relation: many words in this linguistic family apply to both the “master” and the “husband. but a kind of plurality. he risks not just the loss of his property. and in biblical tradition. a foreign presence internal to the host’s “eminent personification” of identity. The notion of “personal identity” is grounded in a very precise idea of personal property. proper? In his rich study of the concept of the “person. Both terms designate the “lord” or “head of the clan. for example. personhood can also be acquired through inheritance. When Octave exposes his own wife to theft.” the one who has power over and is able to dispose of his subjects. but of his personhood as such. which transfers to the usurping party the privative personhood of the last owner. He wishes to strain his proprietary claims to (a) Fall 2000 • 92 . represent an extension of domestic authority into the field of social and symbolic power. For this very reason.” and “possessor” are thus intimately bound up in one another. the master or despot.19 Although woman as “property” contributes to the master’s “eminent personification” of personal identity.” but also the “possessor. but his identity as host is realized only through the dispossession and surrender of his substance. and who are equated with the host by virtue of their subordinate dependence. She draws attention to its dependence upon an im-proper attachment or addition that remains foreign even in being subordinated and internalized.” since the personal identity he embodies is not self-identical or autonomous. (91-92) The master’s ability to personify eminently his own identity (and that of the group) is upheld by his possession of and power over the human dependents defined as his property. (88) Despótes. therefore. theft. since the master is self-possessed only insofar as he is also possessed of material and human property.” Marcel Mauss observes that in many clan-based societies.
When his wife is “surprised” by the guest in her quality as mistress of the house and actualized as hostess. it is because jealousy is structurally tied to a particular notion of privative identity. the husband’s determination as master (that is..” which strive to maintain the paradox internal to hospitality as a simultaneous dispossession and realization of the host’s identity. In Klossowski’s scenario. however. precisely because his status as master of the home stands in the way of his actualization as host. the Hebrew Bible contains examples of women being offered up to guests.the breaking point. and thus maintain the unity or coherence of the “personal property” of the self. but the offer is almost never acted upon. in which the integrity of the person is synonymous with his ability to keep his possessions jealously to himself.” it isn’t only because jealousy is a less refined emotion. The loss of identity is thus recovered dialectically. In most traditions. or valorizes it after the fact. Rather. In short. it is singular in its proposition that the host’s wife occupy this role––and more so for the stakes it attaches to this dispossession. a fissure or split within the principle of personal property the master embodies. Typically. as the “potentiality of the hospitable soul. Curiosity.) is rendered improper.” is the emotion that corresponds to (a) Fall 2000 • 93 . which either prevents the act from taking place (as in the story of Lot). according to Benveniste’s definition. where the symbolic prestige of the host grows in direct proportion to the loss of his goods or human dependents. as one who is “eminently equal” to himself and capable of symbolically personifying the household.” this is nonetheless precisely what he proposes to do––by forcing the impossible limit between the fidelity of the hostess and the fidelity of the wife. the host is preserved from loss by some form of divine intervention. the “loss” incurred when the host’s property is expropriated gets recuperated in some way. Although Klossowski’s interpretation of hospitality is not unique in making a living woman the object of dispossession. Although Octave admits that “one cannot at the same time take and not take. the host desires the dispossession of identity itself. This is the logic of Klossowski’s “laws. and becomes the point of departure for a new actualization. but of the identity it guarantees. For example. and his dispossession is merely temporary. By soliciting the part of the hostess’ nature that exceeds the master’s proprietary hold over her.. His aim is to “become the guest in his own home. This relates to the singularity of the “curiosity” the host hopes to experience. to the point of breaking apart mastery itself. the guest points to a contradiction internal to the identity of the man who “possesses” her. and not the dialectical recuperation of mastery.” to savor the moment of expropriation in which he is deprived not only of his most defining property. alienated. enter a room when one is already in it. be there and not be there. The same holds true in the logics of potlatch or sacred theft. For if Octave’s formulation of the “laws” favors the affect of “curiosity” over “jealousy. and between the curiosity of the host and the jealousy of the master. he is realized as host precisely through the loss of his identity as master.
” and not the more obvious choice. It then loses his subjective quality once again by substituting someone else for the first possessing subject.. the commandment against adultery. which are coextensive with their possessor and thus offlimits to the covetous neighbor or stranger. expropriates itself of that moral quality by expropriating its legitimate proprietor. Her susceptibility to expropriation proves. In his 1970 essay “Protase et apodose. also has a theological source. and that. who is here identified as an inalienable object. In this way. In the first commandment of the decalogue. the “mistress of the home”) can commit adultery. what the metaphor of Israel’s “marriage” to God figures as the wife’s adulterous “welcoming” of strangers in the place of her husband. The host therefore awaits the stranger not merely as a thief.” (Exodus 20:5) In the logic of the Hebrew Bible. according to the interdiction. including the wife. while the second implies the independent agency of a subject linked to her spouse in a merely legal or “accidental” way (to use Klossowski’s term). in favor of a fortuitous and illegitimate possessor. but a principle of unity: God’s jealousy is the index of his sublime singularity.e. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods”: The interdiction affirms a subject possessed of a person. “Jealousy. but as a “liberator” he calls upon to free him of the constraints of personal identity. the Oneness on which the doctrine of monotheism is based. and thou shalt have no others before me. The decalogue upholds the sanctity of individual personhood by giving it jealous dominion over the “things” it possesses. hospitality is increasingly bound up in the problem of idolatry. it negatively reveals itself to have the quality of a subject. God’s “jealousy” is invoked as the conditioning tenet of monotheism: “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God. 21 Perhaps Klossowski references the commandment concerning the “neighbor’s goods.the erosion of personhood. inalienable way. She is part of her husband’s “property” only to the extent that she is im-proper to it. that he can never possess her completely. In the logic of monogamous marriage the husband “possesses” his wife in an exclusive.e. which only possesses this intrinsic quality to the extent that it is legitimately possessed.” Klossowski describes the importance of the wife’s betrayal through a gloss of the 10th commandment. since the wife-as-object possesses a “moral agency” that gives her the “negative quality of a subject. the “inactual essence” of the hostess as offering) can do much more: it (a) Fall 2000 • 94 . but an “object” (i.. because the first implies an essential link between the “thing” and its proprietor. But to the extent that this object acts. however.” A subject (i. insofar as it consented to the possession of the first possessor. This betrayal has important implications not just for God.” as a principle of privative identity. 20 But the antinomy between hospitality and monotheism suggests that the hostess betrays not only a bond of allegiance. but for the human subject whose personhood is modeled on this integral oneness. the interdiction institutes a moral agency of the object [un moi de l’objet].
In privileging this dissolution of identity over the principle of coherence it betrays. Only the hostess can “let the stranger in. that is what [the host] is after. preventing the inactual essence of the host from manifesting itself. The tension between betrayal and fidelity is therefore crucial to Octave’s formulation of the laws. Or as he puts it. but does not contaminate or dissolve the “oneness” of her divine husband. Paradoxically. and the husband would experience nothing more than the wounded narcissism of the cuckold. and yet fail to find hospitality on the other side. are “natural atheists. Roberte suggests. since it allows her to “idolatrously” surrender herself to the divinity of a chance stranger. it is Roberte’s “atheism” that makes her susceptible to the angelic intervention of the guest.” by admitting the guest into the intimacy of the exclusive marriage and thereby allowing estrangement to rupture the master’s self-identity. Roberte’s disbelief in and betrayal of jealous “oneness” is important on a number of levels. Her betrayal facilitates the “essential” actualization of the hospitality event. the “illegitimate and fortuitous possessor” who “actualizes” the hostess through a substantial appropriation. giving rise to a divinity that is multiple. the outcome of the game would be a foregone conclusion and the host the loser before it starts. incapable of being equated with or “made in the image of” the divine person.” If Roberte is given to the guest simply as mistress of the house. “to possess the faithless one qua hostess faithfully fulfilling her duties. fragmented. Women. since as a possessed “thing” she is implicated in his subjectivity. and thus actualize him as a guest.can actually expropriate its possessor. Klossowski also revalues the meaning of the hostess’ “idolatry.” It is not simple infidelity (or “adultery”) he wants to experience.” making it the basis of a new ethics. the hospitality act is compromised at the outset. (a) Fall 2000 • 95 . If Octave and Roberte break through the privative constraints of the master and mistress of the home. One holdover from her Protestant upbringing is her refusal to accept the doctrine of divine mediation so central to Octave’s scholastic Catholicism. But her “disbelief” is not restricted to her lack of religious faith. As he says. Roberte’s hospitality actually splinters her husband’s oneness. the unanchoring of femininity with regard to the signifier. Whereas Israel’s adultery only destroys her marriage. but the fidelity of the hostess within the infidelity of the mistress of the home. “If the essence of the hostess lay in infidelity. She is an atheist of Protestant origin who finds her husband’s incessant attempts to offer a theological account of her soul thoroughly absurd. though. More fundamentally. and not as hostess. The jealousy of the master of the house would preclude his curiosity. Roberte’s hospitality dissolves monotheist integrity. it is a function woman’s inherent infidelity or inadequation to the divine image. this transgression will have been for naught––the wife would be no more than an adulteress. and the expropriation the host seeks would be impossible. which is little more than a foil.” ( FR: 35 ) Their “atheism” indexes an inherently unbelieving character. and fortuitous.
This theological argument concerning privative personhood is further qualified by Klossowski’s understanding of Nietzsche’s “death of God. the second operates through an allusion to Nietzsche’s philosophical critique of the Judeo-Christian origins of personhood. In other words. Taking this Aquinian reasoning as his point of departure. ( FR: 127) According to this principle.” (FR: 129) As a result.” the logic of the Eternal Return. Nietzsche writes: “Nihilism stands at the door. the dissolution of the soul effects the dissolution of the body. Octave uses a syllogistic composite of scholastic reasoning to demonstrate that the very terms of the theological argument for discreet personhood provide justification for the dissolution of the person in those cases where the subject in question does not adhere to––or cohere through––a belief in the transcendental unity of the divine person. making her susceptible to corporal expropriation at the hands of another. the soul is able to unite substantially to the body. and which constitutes identity as such. whose cult (a) Fall 2000 • 96 .” nihilism is internal to Christian individualism as its logical limit. in which Octave “proves” Roberte’s susceptibility to corporal expropriation. the integrity of her person can no longer be guaranteed. The language of “accidental” and “substantial” unions is drawn from the work of Thomas Aquinas. Christianity is the dominant expression of European nihilism.” the theological principle according to which an individual’s being remains attributable only to itself.Hospitality after the Death of God Klossowski develops the implications of Roberte’s “atheism” in two different ways: the first is a dense argument derived from scholastic theology. which separates body and soul and facilitates the soul’s reassociation with another discreet body. who derives a theological proof for the soul’s essential unity with the body from the doctrine of incarnation.22 According to Aquinas.” her statement both references Aquinas’s argument and at the same time suggests how it might be overturned. which is also the most uncanny of guests: uncanny first of all to Christian nihilism itself. because the integrity of body and soul is upheld by God. whence comes this uncanniest of all guests?” 23 As the “uncanniest of all guests. But he also envisions its abolition through the “ultimate nihilism. In The Will to Power. ce soir. and retain its being even after the body’s dissolution. To Nietzsche. When Roberte declares that “a woman’s body is her soul. In the extended theological dialogue that makes up the body of Roberte. Octave suggests that the “privative” designations of the master and mistress of the home can be ruptured only through the loss of the “incommunicability of souls. Her “disbelief” means her soul and her body are only accidentally united. But in Roberte’s case. the incommunicability of the person can only be suspended in death.” and his philosophy of the Eternal Return. Octave theorizes that “disbelief has suspended her incommunicable character.
the hospitality relation paradoxically aligns itself once again with the concerns of ancient. then our identity is merely a grammatical joke. and specifically the wax (a) Fall 2000 • 97 . my translation) Although we tend to think of personhood as an innate. in subscribing to an ontic view of personhood? In the postscript to The Laws of Hospitality . whose seizure of the master’s personal property is both illegitimate and fortuitous. In Nietzsche’s wake. This is no doubt what Nietzsche has in mind when his Zarathustra declares that human beings are merely wearing the “mask” of the monotheist God. it actually makes it contingent upon playing host to the oneness of Christ’s person. he argues.” (Galatians 3:28-29) Although his verse seems to posit the inalienability of personhood. but instead create new. “divine” hospitality: maintaining an aporetic relation to the unknown in other than compensatory. If it is God on the inside as well as on the outside. even “after” God. The monotheist God reifies not only subjective boundaries. and the positive idea of personal identity that depends upon it. a single God that conditions its possibility: Any identity rests solely upon the knowledge of a thinker outside of ourselves––if we grant that there is an inside and an outside––who agrees from the outside to think us as such. Klossowski develops the implications of Nietzsche’s death of God within the theological argument for discreet personhood. the Eternal Return––as the “uncanniest of guests”––dissolves its host in a way that is both destructive and liberating. the death of God allows the unknown to manifest itself. where everything begins and ends with designation. neither slave nor free. if it is the ambient world.of monotheism and the positive principle of identity that depends upon it precludes any sense of the other––or for that matter of the self––as an unknown. ontic property. This argument may explain why Klossowski makes his protagonist a Christian theologian. Like Klossowski’s chance stranger. for you are all one person in Christ Jesus. we must overcome both the monotheist understanding of God. Although Nietzsche sees the “murder” of God as essential to this liberation of the unknown. As is well known. which gives the illusion of a coherent. For example. by demonstrating that the formal identity of the “I” or self is necessarily submitted to a divine order. Nietzsche and Klossowski both emphasize its often unacknowledged grounding in Christian theology. For isn’t all of Western culture “Christian” in this regard––that is. then our identity is pure grace. the Roman notion of the person––the persona––was derived from the idea of the mask. and also the unknown itself. St. which bestows a proper personhood by dwelling in one’s heart. neither male nor female. equally insidious ones. To complete the transvaluation of all values. he also warns that. in the sense of absolute coherence. (FR: 337. salvational modes. privative self. Paul famously reconceives personhood as a universal attribute by identifying it with baptism in Christ: “There is neither Jew nor Greek. we run the risk of preserving or instituting principles that will not transvalue nihilistic Christian values.
To Nietzsche’s discovery of the liberating potential of the Dionysian guest. dissolute. Paradoxically. the guest partakes of the divinity of Dionysus. Klossowski makes clear that the declaration “God is dead” is not so much a call to atheism as the liberation of a “polytheism” that would abolish the privative constraints of the self. After the death of the eternal witness. opening the way for a new understanding of subjectivity: as divided. artificial. Octave can only experience this dissociation secondarily. Octave feels that he is too constrained by his identity. the sacred guest who very literally dispossesses or even dismembers his host. and irresponsible. through its effect on Roberte. it develops this thought in a particular direction. as conditioned not by the integrity of the one God. In his 1957 essay “Nietzsche. its original identification with the mask also gave rise to another conception of the persona. but by the disintegration of Dionysus. 24 Despite the best efforts of the church fathers. while Roberte is too little bound by hers. the artificial integrity of the self gives way to the multiplicity of the ego. who alone was capable of guaranteeing the identity of the self. the simulacrum or theatrical personnage. 201) When God dies. then the death of God dissolves the “grammatical fiction” of the self. the ego becomes divine: but as dissolved. Polytheism and Parody. Klossowski adapts Nietzsche’s discovery to the logic of hospitality. As a “liberator” from individuation. the survival of this genealogy continued to hint at the uncomfortable proximity between ontological personhood and its repudiated siblings. multiple.image of the dead ancestor. or even duplicitous “mask” of the self.” Klossowski argues that if God is the only possible guarantor of the identity of the “I” and of its substantial base. whether legitimately or not. god of dismemberment and disindividuation. in which the dissolution of the self is celebrated as a divine act. Welcoming the Unknown “in the Feminine” As a Catholic who doesn’t acknowledge either the “death of God” or the dissolution of identity that results from it. but it does not simply enact his work. Klossowski adds an insistence on the privileged role of the feminine in effecting this dissolution.26 But while Klossowski’s conception of hospitality is indebted to Nietzsche. The dissociation from the divine foundations of what Klossowski calls the “grammatical fiction” of the I is more pronounced her case. Although Roman law gradually came to associate the concept of the persona with the “true nature” of the individual. 25 When the monotheist “mask” of God is stripped away. the death of the monotheistic God also results for Nietzsche in a liberation of the divine: in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. divinity resides in a new kind of “witness”: the guest who takes it upon himself to “liberate” the master from his privative identity. The legal concept of the “person” designated the one who possessed this mask. intensified by the already unanchored relation between femininity (a) Fall 2000 • 98 . as a simulated. In this sense. he writes: “Is not precisely this godliness. bodily integrity. that there are gods but no God?” ( ibid.
in the particular sense in which Emmanuel Lévinas understands the term: “the possible surplus in a society of equals. the paradoxical agency the object––in this case the hostess––assumes within the subject who “possesses” it. my translation) The possibility that “others” might be thinking in me challenges the notion that there is a thinker outside of me––”the Word. In Klossowski’s trilogy. a “polytheist” subjectivity that would abolish the privative constraints of the self.”29 But at the same time. as the source or home [foyer] of judgment. women have always challenged the ontic view of personhood with the evidence of its non-universality. For although the feminine approximates the divine in its “excessive” quality. or even the expropriation of thought. In their ambivalent relation to legal rights. If God is for Descartes the guarantor of the cogito. but is firmly materialist. in order that thought as such always returns to one point among others. But does it always return to it? At each word I have to wonder whether it is I who am thinking or whether others are thinking in me or for me. (FR: 337.” As Klossowski writes in the postscript to the Laws.and the signifier. Klossowski’s vision of hospitality affirms the division and multiplicity internal to the subject. it continued to withhold personhood from those who did not own property. It recalls the function of religion. In the postscript to The Laws of Hospitality. The Word [le verbe] establishes the duration of the thinking subject through the fiction of the personal pronoun. By drawing attention to the relationship between the master’s “eminent personification” of personal identity and his jealous identification with his possessions. then the death of God––his failure to support the fiction of the personal pronoun as the source or (a) Fall 2000 • 99 . whether thought is a property. or even thinking before I have really thought myself what they are thinking. We see its importance in what Klossowski calls the moi de l’objet. in the form of a multiple cogito. most notably women and slaves.. an appropriation. it is in part because of its ambivalent relationship to the positive principle of personal identity that the monotheist God imparts. “woman is a symptom of the rights of man. whose privative quality is guaranteed by the monotheistic understanding of God as a unified oneness. the hostess insists on the heteronomous underpinnings of the “personal property” of the self.” or God––who is conditioning my ego as an integral unity. but rather calls it into question by suggesting that others may be “thinking in me. or what Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari call the cogito à deux30: a cogito for whom the act of thought does not guarantee its being as a consistent subject. Against the positive idea of personal identity. the marginal position accorded to femininity by traditional understandings of the subject appears as a singular force... 27 As Renata Salecl has argued. Even as Roman law began to identify the persona with the “true nature” of the individual.” 28 she reminds us that the “mask” of unified personhood has always fit some subjects much better than others. the feminine embodies an alterity that has no transcendent dimension. he develops this notion through the idea of a divided subject. or thinking me.
this spot of alterity or estrangement within the chez soi of identity. It models an ethical position that is not limited to the female sex. but consists in an “excessive” relation to the signifier. Lacan sees in Freud’s es the primacy of the extra-subjective object or “Thing” for the nascence of subjectivity.” and that opposes itself to the transcendental redemption of the self embodied by Christ. when he writes that “for ten years now I have lived. especially as it relates to his reading of Sigmund Freud’s enigmatic articulation of the ego’s relation to the id: Wo es war.” to “become the guest” in one’s own home: to become this foreign Thing. he also asserts that “after” God. or believe I have lived. it points to the necessary expropriation of the ego by the id: there where ego was. since the role of the hostess suggests how the identity of the post-Nietzschean host might be understood as other than a principle of self-adequation. 31 Klossowski hints at something similar in the preface to his trilogy.” the hostess is the one who thinks in the host insofar as he is not-all. there ego shall be. Instead of implying the colonization of the id by the ego.”32 the remark had traditionally been understood by the proponents of ego psychology to mean that the ego must come to dominate or subsume the id. to bring it within its parameters. Klossowski’s understanding of the “thingly” agency of the hostess finds echoes in the writings of Jacques Lacan in particular. and in particular the central place each assigns to femininity. revealing the uncanny dispossession of the home of judgment by a foreign object. as the one who welcomes the transfiguring advent of the divine guest. as Octave puts it in the last line of his “laws.” To live under the sign of the hostess is. He associates it with the figure of Ariadne. soll Ich werden. the implications of this experience of dispossession or “expropriation” are not at all negative. but for the subject of psychoanalysis. Translated in the Standard Edition as “There where id was. for whom “femininity” names a subjective stance that problematizes the very notion of the subject. its agency is that of “the object raised to the dignity of a Thing. But Lacan understands Freud’s remark very differently. Conclusion In its characterization of the hostess as the moi de l’objet that disrupts the identity of the “master” who possesses it. mankind must assume an authentically “feminine” attitude in welcoming Dionysus. For Klossowski.” Lacan’s formulation is central to his work on ethics. His work is indispensable reading for any serious study of the relationship between Nietzsche’s philosophy and psychoanalysis. the subject of the unconscious shall come into being.“home” of judgment––results in the “home” of thought being susceptible to occupation by strangers: most notably the hostess. Although Nietzsche associates Dionysus with a dissolution of the ego that is affirmatively revalued as “divine. For as the moi de l’objet or “Thing. Klossowski’s work has profound implications not only for the post-Nietzschean host. under the sign of Roberte. the “extimate” agency of what Freud calls (a) Fall 2000 • 100 .
although he offers interesting account of the (non)significance of feminine jouissance within the logic of perversion. Klossowski’s trilogy takes this insight to its logical conclusion. and thereby disavow the wound of sexual difference (“Les Lois de l’hospitalité en tant que lois du narcissisme. in the domain of the dream. “L’Autre sexe et la perversion. Lacan writes that “Freud addresses himself to the subject to say this.das Ding (the extra-symbolic.” Savoir II:1-2 (mai) 1995. the es: the host-es. or plays host to. soll Ich werden” ( 44).” L’Arc 43. a principle of self-adequation. More recently. which is new: Here. Hervé Castanet.” realizing the promise of hospitality. there where it receives or plays the host. Wo es war. Rather. As a “thing” uncannily internal to the host. Lacan reverses the well-known phenomenological interpretation of the chez soi as the “at-homeness” of identity. the Thing irreducible to the identity of the host that “lets the stranger in. he suggests that there where the subject is at home. treated Klossowski’s trilogy as a “clinical case” demonstrating the pervert’s failure to extort from his partner the jouissance of the body. 1970). Her importance consists in the dispossession of the host-”I” (the subject eminently equal to himself) by the host-es. the hostess insists upon the expropriation at the heart of personal property. But he also makes clear that the unconscious is not simply an uneasy bedfellow of the ego. you are at home [chez toi]. Castanet mistakenly identifies Klossowski with his fictional (a) Fall 2000 • 101 . In defining the subject’s relation to the unconscious as one of cohabitation under the same roof. it is as unconscious. maternal object) in the intersubjective topology of the ego. In The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. NOTES 1 In one of the first psychoanalytic readings of Klossowski. Michèle Montrelay appraised his “laws of hospitality” as the expression of a narcissistic fantasy in which feminine jouissance is used to “complete” a narcissistic relationship between two men. and not as a self-possessed ego. an uncanny guest in the domain of the subject. suggesting that the subject is the one who is inhabited by.
op. 1969.” Philosophie dans le boudoir. 5 Emile Benveniste.protagonist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. which names the “offering that compensates the anger of the gods. passe et impasse. Klossowski addresses the possible parallels between his work and what he calls the “logic of libertinage” in “Protase et apodose” (L’Arc 43. 1976:187ff. 10 See in particular Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Will to Power. tr. 1950:481. perspectives psychanalytiques. 13 Lambros Kamperidis. L’Universel. Roberte. R. 3 Willy Apollon made this comment at Gifric’s Yearly Training Seminar in Lacanian Psychoanalysis in Quebec.” in Jouvert: AJournal of Post-Colonial Studies. City of God XV: Bk.” Parabola XV:4 (November) 1990:5. 1963:220. tr. “Psychanalyse et littérature. 1967. 9 Georges Bataille. (a) Fall 2000 • 102 . tr. W. 4 Jacques Lacan. with the death of God. New York: Zone Books. (Emile Benveniste op. 1970). “Français.” tr. Marcus Dods. cit. 16 For this argument I am grateful to Peter Canning.J. Ce Soir & The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes: [Les Lois de l’hospitalité]. 11 Pierre Klossowski. Halls. The Category of the Person 1-25. Les Structures élémentaires de la parenté. Jacques-Alain Miller. Fall 1998. In the third novel of his trilogy. Paris: Gallimard.E. 1954:16 [orig. 2 My understanding of perversion as a logic of “demonstration” is indebted to Willy Apollon.” 12 Augustine. the notion of self. has argued that God “reifies” the unknown. III.:93). he offers an account of the “laws of hospitality” as an explicit challenge to the perverse discourse of “erasing borders” in favor of a universal law of exchange––a discourse he puts in the mouth of a psychoanalyst. Although this specific formulation was developed in Apollon’s annual training seminar in Quebec. “Philoxenia and Hospitality. FR: 304 (my translation) 18 Benveniste. Paris: Gallimard. London: Marion Boyars. Austryn Wainhouse. entitled Le Souffleur (The Prompter). 1985:8. All citations from the English translation will hereafter be designated as page numbers preceded with an “E. D. 1989:109. 7 Friedrich Nietzsche. See also Gilles Deleuze’s discussion of the logic of perverse demonstration in Coldness and Cruelty. 1943]. 8 Pierre Klossowski. Paris: Mouton.. encore un effort. “L’hospitalité. 1969:88 6 Marquis de Sade. the sacrificial victim who “buys back” man’s salvation and the possibility of an essential relation with God. 1992:112. Roberte. Michael Carrithers et al. New York: W. Quebec: Gifric. Apollon makes a similar argument in his analysis of the writings of the Marquis de Sade. who in a series of recent articles and seminars has argued that the logic of perversion––as one of the three subjective structures for psychoanalysis––consists in the methodical demonstration of what Apollon terms the “Unfounded. “Acategory of the human mind: the notion of person. Dennis Porter. New York: Modern Library.W. Paris: Minuit. Gallimard Folio. the unknown is therefore free to manifest itself in other forms. L’expérience intérieure. as if in anticipation of his later critics.” the fact that the signifier is not founded in the real and therefore cannot serve as a legitimate guarantor of law. cit. Un si funeste désir. under the auspices of the École freudienne de Québec. Hollingdale.” while all page numbers from the French text will be preceded with “FR. 15 Claude Lévi-Strauss. 20 “Israel as Host(ess): Hospitality in the Bible and Beyond. tr. “The Clinic of the Dream. Norton & Co.1991:25ff.:88 19 Marcel Mauss. ed.” Willy Apollon. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. 17 Klossowski. 14 The Christian notion of “eucharistic hospitality” derives from the Latin hostia.” July 1998.. 1997:243-265. London: Penguin Classics.D. who both pointed me to Lévi-Strauss’analysis of exogamy and “theft” and suggested its connection to Klossowski’s understanding of the guest.” in Le Vocabulaire des institutions indo-européennes. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis.
Anton C. because form is the act of matter. 29 Emmanuel Lévinas. This is not the case with other non-subsistent forms. Un si funeste désir:220. Pegis. since it is incorruptible. 1969:64. 1994:112. [Orig. cit.:17. after the dissolution of the body. from his summary and rebuttal of Aristotle’s argument in Book III. James Strachey et al. remains separate from the body. ed. 27 Mauss. as was shown above. 26 Klossowski. (696) The union of intellect and body is for Aristotle “accidental. For this reason the human soul retains its own being after the dissolution of the body. 23 Nietzsche. 30 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Lane. The Spoils of Freedom. “Protase et apodose.:1970. 31 Friedrich Nietzsche. Aquinas’ response to this thesis is that the intellectual soul is the very form of the body: The soul communicates that being in which it subsists to the corporeal matter. The Hogarth Press 1974:80.” Acéphale 3-4 (juillet) 1937:28. But to be united to matter belongs to the form by reason of its nature.21 Klossowski.1952] (a) Fall 2000 • 103 . but only accidentally one. op. namely. cit. not by any accidental quality.” made possible by the fact that man. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 1983. ed. op. a form cannot be without its own proper matter. “Don Juan selon Kierkegaard. Will to Power:7.” op. chapter 5 of De Anima that the intellectual principle is not united to the body as its form.:17. so that the being of the whole composite is also the being of the soul. But the intellectual principle. Beyond Good & Evil. but it is not substantially united to them by its nature. London: Routledge. 28 Renata Salecl. and tr. 1945. tr. Alphonso Lingis. 25 Klossowski. 8-20:13. Basic Writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Aristotle’s thesis is that: whatever exists in a thing by reason of its nature exists in it always. whereas it is not so with other forms. 1966:236. See in particular Chapter 4. and Helen R. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 32 Sigmund Freud. 24 Mauss. cit. Therefore. Walter Kaufmann. the possible intellect and the phantasms which are in the corporeal organs. Robert Hurley. Therefore the intellectual principle is not united to the body as its form. tr. “The First Positive Task of Schizoanalysis. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press. as an intelligible species. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works XXII. New York: Vintage. or otherwise matter and form would not make a thing substantially one. tr. part IV. In Aquinas’ words. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. (699) Thomas Aquinas. out of which and the intellectual soul there results one being. has a “double subject. but by its own essence. London. (my translation) 22 Specifically.” which is based in part on Klossowski.” (697) The intellectual principle is capable of uniting itself to these corporeal phantasms. New York: Random House. I. Mark Seem.
the image prints “itself” on the negative that lies in the black box. Tel Aviv some words about horizontal camera no.1: the horizontal camera was invented in order to deconstruct the hegemonic vision of vertical-parallel view that dominates two hundred years of photography.horizontal camera no. light that passes through the lens practically touches the negative. and the image does not turn upside down. but––there is no “black space” inside the camera. (a) Fall 2000 • 104 . and does not stand at the bottom of the box––as is usual. I put the negative as a continuation of the lenses. so the image that is printed is a direct continuation of the image that passes into the camera obscura. instead of putting the negative parallel to the lenses.1 Aïm Luski Camera Obscura.
Pont neuf number 1 (a) Fall 2000 • 105 .
Pont neuf number 1 (a) Fall 2000 • 106 .
so this is also its name–– Pont Neuf 1 1999. each negative has two lenses ––so altogether the pictures are facing 6 lenses at the same time. ––aïm luski Pont neuf number 1 (a) Fall 2000 • 107 . the camera is a wooden and cardboard black box that was specially built to take a picture at the pont neuf in Paris.this special “camera” was built so as to have two lenses ––in front and at the back and three layers or couches––like three beds in stages––one on top of the other (5 centimeters space between).
(a) Fall 2000 • 108 . to the primary process of binding energy. and to the creation of a shield by which the psyche attempts to reject excitatory stimuli. to the evolution of the feeling of pleasure and unpleasure. another reality? Lacan W lead. It is further an attempt to follow an idea consistently.1 hat follows is speculation. often far-fetched speculation. into a virtual reality (VR)––to examine some of Freud’s speculations. and the bodily real. Sigmund Freud introduces the fourth chapter of Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Allow me––before I let myself be led by these speculations. Freud speculates 2 about the process by which the mind protects itself from external stimuli and internal excitations. In this chapter. He relates this protection to the evolution of consciousness. out of curiosity to see where it will With these words.Consciousness Dreams Deadly: Freud’s Other Drive Lyat Friedman Tel Aviv University What is it that wakes the sleeper? Is it not in the dream. before I speculate about the Imaginary consciousness and the process by which the Real. which the reader will consider or dismiss according to his individual predilection. is transformed into reality.
” ( B: 27) says Freud.. Toward the inside there can be no such shield. a stimulus will not penetrate the senses.also include special arrangements for further protection against excessive amounts of stimulation.” ( B: 28 ) That is. ( P: 313 ) It is interesting to note that there is already a prior defense mechanism exercised by the sense organs. Nonetheless. (B: 29) External stimuli that have penetrated into the psyche cause internal excitations and give rise to feelings of unpleasure against which the psyche reacts by treating the excitations as if they were external.. as it attempts to keep the amount of excitation as low as possible. and another problem arises instead––the (a) Fall 2000 • 109 . for “the mental apparatus endeavors to keep the quantity of excitation present in it as low as possible or at least constant. Freud says: Towards the outside it (the psyche) is shielded against stimuli. penetrate through the sense organs and produce internal excitation. Aparticular way is adopted of dealing with any internal excitations which produce too great an increase of unpleasure: there is a tendency to treat them (the excitations) as though they were acting. the psyche attempts to react against the unpleasurable excitations. the excitations in the deeper layers extend into the system directly and in undiminished amount.. says Freud. in so far as certain of their characteristics give rise to feelings in the pleasure-unpleasure series. not from the inside. In the Project for a Scientific Psychology 3 Freud discusses two main functions of the sensory systems: to act as a threshold. and the amounts of excitations impinging on it have only a reduced affect. but from the outside. (B: 29) External stimuli are the environmental forces impinging upon the psyche that excite and disturb the psyche as it attempts to reject them. Once external stimuli have penetrated the sense organs.“Protection against stimuli is an almost more important function for the living organism than reception of stimuli. for the protection of the mind. so that not every kind of stimuli will operate on the system. prior to the defense mechanisms the mind has yet to erect.. Once the feeling of unpleasure arises within the psyche. a bodily procedure. Freud distinguishes between two types of stimulus: external and internal. but. It is a sensory defense mechanism.” (B : 9) He adds.consist essentially of apparatus for the reception of certain specific effects of simulation. which are excessively stronger than the psychic shield. so that below a certain quantity. according to Freud. Internal excitations are feelings of pleasure or unpleasure caused by internal or by external stimuli that have penetrated the protective shield and excite the internal apparatus. Freud says. the psyche has a double function: the reception and the rejection of stimuli. so that it may be possible to bring the shield against stimuli into operation as a means of defense against them. “The sense organs. There is no longer any possibility of preventing the mental apparatus from being flooded with large amounts of stimulus. External stimuli. and to act as a sieve.
Once a feeling of unpleasure arises in the psyche. movement. The rejection of energy takes place according to the same process by which external stimuli are rejected: the production of a shield does not allow further penetration. as it attempts to bring up a shield that will protect the mind from that unpleasurable bound experience.5 Lacan tells us that “what is written is not to be understood. my emphasis ) Unbound energy is the source of unpleasure. whereas bound energy does not cause that type of excitation. thereby forming it into a traumatic event. unknown. whether from within or from without the mental apparatus. It is there buried. when Freud rejects the importance of a primary scene and proposes instead to explain the trauma by infantile fantasies. Once these traces of energy are bound. Lacan. so that they can then be disposed of. normally intervene in order to regulate the invasion of quantity in (a) Fall 2000 • 110 . the traces of the event remain meaningless and continue to disturb the psyche. the psyche may then master the overflow of energy that has penetrated its shields and expel it. notes. That is.problem of mastering the amounts of stimulus which have broken in and of binding them.. as long as the energy is not bound. the psyche must bind the freely flowing energy so as to bring up a shield against it. the process of binding energy helps elucidate the inability of the child to recall the traumatic affect of the fantasy. Thus Freud.. since the psyche has the mechanism by which it can resist and reject the threat the energy could have posed. the psyche can either reject the event and forget all about it. can speak of the reactivation of the primary scene. Jacques Lacan in speaking about the unconscious notes in the Ethics:4 “It is there in an unconscious form before the birth of anything as far as human experience is concerned.” (B : 7-8. writing the Dora case. That is.” (SEM VII: 209) In Encore. restrain. or repress it. possess. The excitations cannot be gotten rid off unless the energy that has produced a feeling of unpleasure has been bound. flight. in the psychical sense. and postpone these speculations for a further while. cover”) and the meaning of events. It is avoidance. But let us for the moment go back to the issue of cathexis (besetzung.” (B: 30) Freud remarks. that can then be repressed. bind. not available. “We have decided to relate pleasure and unpleasure to the quantity of excitation that is present to the mind but is not in any way bound. which in the beginning. even before the system starts to function. (B: 29-30) By binding the energy. the psyche can bring up a shield only after excitatory energy has become bound. which is stored as a meaningless memory trace until it recurs. says Freud. from the Greek katekhw which means “to hold fast. occupy. What the organism cannot avoid must be worked through by the mind. The second appearance reactivates the initial experience and allows the psyche to bind its energy. “cathectic energy is summoned from all sides to provide sufficiently high cathexes of energy in the environs of the breach..” (SEM XX: 34) the unconscious remains outside the boundaries of any possible understanding. Later. not mastered. Most importantly.
“Pain. Energy that travels along these paths has a quantitative character: it can be measured.. Freud attempts to describes the process by which energy becomes bound. The higher the system’s own quiescent cathexis. An excited psyche (excited either by internal stimuli or by external stimuli that have penetrated the sense organ defense system) experiences the feeling of unpleasure and attempts to lower the levels of excitations within its mental apparatus by treating the stimuli as if they came not from within. the energy trans- (a) Fall 2000 • 111 ..” (B: 31) For. the less capacity will it have for taking up free energy and the more violent must be the consequences of such a breach in the protective shield against stimuli. Freud claims. “we may perhaps suspect that the binding of the energy that streams into the mental apparatus consists in its change from a freely flowing into a quiescent state. which hold fast to their cathexis. It may be a sound that the mind can “hear. travel the way energy travels along its passages––in this case. We may perhaps suppose that as a result of this binding precisely the external Q (quantity) remains free to flow while the cathexis of attention is bound.” or a smell to be “smelled. my emphasis) He adds the cathected stimuli travel along the ego neurons to meet with other resistances which are greater than the excitations of that stimuli.g. (B: 30) In the Project for a Scientific Psychology. that is pain.accordance with the pleasure principle. perhaps a perception that the mind perceives..” Lacan says. Attempts to prevent any further penetration of the traveling energy cause the psyche to erect a defensive mechanism that transforms the quantitative into qualitative experiences.” Whichever sense organ has been breached. thereby penetrating the nervous system more deeply. and by which quantitative energy is transformed into a qualitative experience. the lower its cathexis.” (SEM VII: 60) The mind needs to manage the pain or excitations it has not been able to avoid by fleeing. conversely. the ego functions in the following way: The ego itself is a mass like of neurons. along nerves paths.” (P: 368. therefore. (SEM VII: 59) When the organism cannot avoid contact with the stimuli. P: 322-324. It cathects the energy and arrests its movement. There. 368-371 ). it feels unpleasure.. having penetrated the psyche. thus eliminating their affect on the system (e. says Freud. In fact. It binds the energy and converts quantity into a quality. Perhaps the energy is transformed into an image the mind imagines. And it is the motor system that the function of regulating the bearable or homeostatic level of tension for the organism is handed over in the end. These stimuli. the greater seems to be its binding force. It transforms and alters the free-flowing by erecting a fixed and fastened knot––what Lacan terms the chaining of the signifiers. is “that limit where a living being has no possibility of escape. It discontinues its flow and stops its further intrusion. but from without. but remains meaningless and formless.
Freud tells us. and the child learns to seek satisfaction by seeking that which represents the lost object.” (SEM XI: 218)9 Lacan says. Desire is not an innate given. “in the place where the unspeakable object is rejected in the Real”––that which is experienced by the psyche as lack. following Freud.coming in the place of that which has no name. “it is the world of words that creates the world of things. but rather marked by an “unrealized. Thus Lacan claims. for the mind. which is Real.. speaks of a chain of signifiers rather than bound excitations.” manifested by a signifier. a linguistic sign. object of desire. . “a word which makes itself heard. into a signifier. an emptiness.8 (SEM II: 222) It is “at this point of lack that the desire of the subject is constituted. which cannot be filled and excites the mind internally. Desire drives the child to seek a representation of that which is lacking. in which a signifier. a child can never achieve complete satisfaction. The representation of a lost object transforms the unbound energy into something other.. “I have. as unbound excitatory energy––”a word makes itself heard. rather lack has been replaced by a signifier. the lacking. The initial “fulfilled” state is not real.. For this reason. which has emerged instead of. It is not introduced as the original food.” (a) Fall 2000 • 112 . of that which is lacking. but rather is constituted by the psyche as it attempts to rid itself of the bound energy producing a chain of signifiers as a protective shield. in binding the penetrating energy a signifier is erected.. that [of] the object as cause of desire.” emerges to represent for the child the lost object. it is introduced from the fact that no food will ever satisfy the oral drive.formed along its nerve cells produces an experience within the mind.. Lacan claims. The Freudian experience.6 (SEM XI: 180) Lack excites the psyche. by any object whose agency we know only in the form of the lost object. except by circumventing the externally lacking object. It postulates it prior to any kind of experience. Unlike the initial excited state. For. Lacan says. like a mother’s disappearance.. or concrete. (as Freud tells about when he describes the innocent game of his grandchild) creates a void that needs to be filled. in the infant. The cathected energy transforms quantitative excitations into qualitative signifiers in its effort to overcome the excitation.. the fulfilled is not satisfied in the sense that it has achieved that which it has desired. Lacan. prior to any consideration concerning the world of essences.” (EE : 65) Lacan says and then adds. Desire is the psyche’s attempt to rid itself of its bound energy by projecting from within itself a signifier onto a world that is to be perceived by a network of signifiers. The lack is then “overcome” by a symbolic act. Desire is instituted within the Freudian world in which our experience unfolds.starts by postulating a world of desires.”7 (EE: 183) The initial excitation produces a void.. The inner apparatus is excited by desiring that which needs to be rejected from within the psyche. missing. and represents. An initial lack imposed on a child by the circumstances.produced the only conceivable idea of the object.
” This may explain why consciousness is unable to retain a single thought for more than a few seconds. This lack is beyond anything which can represent it. a concept.” It is the process by which a feeling of unpleasure arises in consciousness. In Freud’s words: The system Cs. Consciousness gives us what are called qualities––sensations which are different in a great multiplicity of ways and whose difference is distinguished according to the relations with the external world. as it were. This lack is the lack of being properly speaking.” (P: 309) That is to say. he tells us. in the phenomenon of becoming conscious. (a) Fall 2000 • 113 .(SEM XI: ix) Chained signifiers become the source of further excitations. By thinking a thought––by becoming aware of an image––the psyche can reject the experience and pull it out of its perceptual stream. consciousness “arises instead of a memory trace. This would mean that its elements could undergo no further permanent modification from the passage of excitation. Desire is a relation of being to lack. by desiring the lost object. however. That is. because they had already been modified in the respect in question to the greatest possible extent: now. as Lacan argues. by becoming aware of the object one desires. Freud continues to speculate. (SEM II: 223) But let us return to Freud. The stream of bound energy impinges upon and causes consciousness to rid itself of its ideas and images. consciousness is the process by which bound energy is rejected from within the psychic system. the mind is able to rid itself of those signifiers which serve as “memory traces. but lack of being whereby the being exists. has been produced. in an effort to overcome psychic “lack. is characterized by the peculiarity that in it (in contrast to what happens in the other psychical systems) excitatory processes do not leave behind any permanent change in its elements but expire. It isn’t the lack of this or that. In Lacan’s words. they would have become capable of giving rise to consciousness.10 Once free-flowing excitation is bound and quantitative energy is transformed into a qualitative experience. and why a new thought arises instead. as Lacan argues. (B: 26) Thus. a word.” ( B: 25) (Or. (P: 308) For “it is to be expected from the structure of the nervous system that it consists of contrivances for transforming external quantity into quality. consciousness arises instead of the excitatory traces left behind the signifier.) Freud adds. the psyche rejects those stimuli that have penetrated its sensory shield and prepares itself for additional experiences. And he adds. a word. where the Real is converted into the Imaginary. into that for which a signifier. or an image perhaps. In his Project. It is the process by which a signifier is projected by a desire for its signified. a signifier. without explicitly saying so. Freud assigns the role of rejection to the system of consciousness. (B: 25) Consciousness has a limited capacity for containing information: by letting various conscious thoughts expire. or an image can be thought of by consciousness. for he does not end here.
A healthy defense mechanism. it has remained within the unconscious sphere. the psyche can easily reject the trauma and achieve a lower level of mental excitation. was a world that had been bound by the psyche and had been rejected from its stream of thought. that which the mind is unable to reject. “It must lie on the borderline between the outside and inside” (B : 24): on the borderline between the free-flowing energy and the cathected experiences. having at one point been made conscious. It was a world that had yet to be erected by a signifier. cathected images that have been rejected by the mind. on the other hand. remained to be explored. which appears real but is merely a world of bound energy. In the Dora case. The talking cure. the psychoanalytic method of retrieving traumatic experiences and curing the aching patient by making the repressed conscious. The Real. It is a tool for the psyche by which it controls what may not or cannot be rejected from it. The imaginary realm is not all conscious. free-flowing. between the quantitative excitations and the qualitative thoughts and images. It is no secret that Freud never really paid much attention to the conscious stream of words flowing from his patients’ mouths. suspended. it lingers without meaning. The world portrayed by consciousness is not the world one perceives.Consciousness “functions as a special envelope or membrane resistant to stimuli. For some bound energy is such that psyche has not been able to reject by employing consciousness. once the patient becomes aware and is conscious of the events. Once traumatic events are acknowledged by the patient. undetermined by the defense mechanism. in fact presupposes the defensive role of consciousness.” (B: 27) says Freud. Consciousness is itself like a defense mechanism of the psyche rather than a given mental apparatus that thinks thoughts which are not too traumatic for the individual. in Freud’s eyes. 11 Consciousness is the defense mechanism that permits the mind to reject internal excitations by treating them as if they were external to it. He was attentive to those traces of thoughts insofar as they indicated unconscious thoughts and desires. an experience that has been bound was repressed and retained by the unconscious. It is a world that remained beyond the grasp of the psychiccathectic-mechanism. remains within the system. the cure is secured. uncontrolled. The world portrayed by consciousness. It is cleared from the mind. It is by making an event conscious that the mind can find a moment of rest. It produces an imaginary world. while the world that had not yet been bound and lay beyond the ability of the conscious speaker to uncover the meaning it could have had. * * * (a) Fall 2000 • 114 . so as to keep the level of excitation as low as possible. but a virtual world of bound signifiers and images that the mind rejects as it attempts to achieve peace of mind. It is a membrane by which the psyche can put up a shield and reject the excitations it has bound. Once a thought is consciously thought it can be rejected and forgotten. By allowing a traumatic event to surface. and assigns a spatial position to it.
treats his body as a source of pleasurable experiences. and to allow the psyche to lower its excitatory state. some boys and philosophers will learn to say that they lack control over their bodily member. and does not permit one to become sufficiently aware of the experience. the little girl cannot signify an object that desires. the therapist not only uncovers hidden meaning. The little boy can look at his penis. who has not bound her internal excitations to her body. is thus led to believe she has no penis. The little boy. sees his penis and can become aware of his sexual desires and satisfactions. not experienced by it in the realm of the imaginary. On the one hand. he seeks bodily pleasures by consuming those bodies that lack such conscious desires. During analysis. meaningless perhaps. and his psyche can bind the energy and perceive an image. to produce meaning. No wonder Freud poses the question of woman’s desires. a little girl does not see a penis. becomes conscious of her internal excitation by binding internal pleasures with the externalized penis. rather than someone who can desire. The penisful man who has externalized his penis. an experience is repressed when consciousness is unable to handle it. Thus. see the effects of his sexual desires on his bodily member. says Freud. unable to bind her sexual desire and satisfaction and perceive her body as sexually desiring. 12 This explains the impasse in perceiving one’s body in conscious terms. for her desires are not bound and cannot be rejected by consciousness. In contrast.According to Freud. according to Freud. to make the patient aware of it. but also attempts to bind free-flowing energy. Her desires remain free-flowing. Unable to bind her sexual energy and connect it with a particular bodily part. It supports an easy imagining of life beyond the disintegration of the body: the body is perceived by consciousness as a mere image like all external stimuli that the mind can think and forget. and cannot be thought of. and her reaction is one of lack. the psychoanalytic therapist attempts not only to uncover bound energy that has been repressed. Their penis has been externalized by consciousness and has been detached from their psyche. that their penis has a life of its own. she becomes the object of desire. the body of which one becomes aware is perceived as external to the psyche and non-relevant to its functions. On the other hand. but he or she is made aware of experiences that have not yet become meaningful to the patient–it is the Real that has not been bound. The penisless woman. the Real that escapes signification and remains without meaning. Having bound his penis to external objects of pleasures. according to Freud.13 (a) Fall 2000 • 115 . Some of the energy has not been bound in its entirety and remains free-flowing. it does not allow consciousness to put up its shield by fully thinking it. the body is not perceived by consciousness. and as such it cannot be thought of by consciousness: it is always in excess of its bound perception. This explains the way Freud treats the distinction between men’s and women’s perception of their erotogenic zones. Indeed. The little girl.
for This little fragment of living substance is suspended in the middle of an external world charged with the most powerful energies. determined by desire. (a) Fall 2000 • 116 . in the unbound. and it would be killed by the simulation emanating from these if it were not provided with a protective shield against stimuli. the lacking. Speaking of the representation the mind produces. that which can never be attained.” It produces images of my body. By producing an image. because no constant threat of unpleasure would be attached to breach it. which are not truly mine. says Freud. unconditional fulfillment. Indications of discharge through speech are also in a certain sense indications of reality––but of thought-reality. and in their case a rule of this kind has not by any means come into effect. Pleasure and unpleasure. rather than from within. these patients resisted Freud’s attempts to bring reality back into their lives. In the realm of the Imaginary. No wonder. By binding excitatory energy and treating it as if it came from without. the Real. Lacan offers the notion of jouissance. Jouissance is the impossible possibility of achieving the lowest possible excitation. nor are they treated by me as being the “real me” which I find in me. a child learns to treat her or his body as external to her or his conscious thoughts. reality is a realm which consciousness must think as it attempts to bind and reject the unbound. in the chain of signifiers. No wonder so many of Freud’s patients found the world of their dreams and fantasies to be void of the pain reality had inflicted upon them. (P: 373) Freud identifies these signs by connecting the feeling of unpleasure to the cathected image produced by reality. pleasure follows the attempt of the psyche to overcome an initial unpleasure.” (SEM XI: 167) Lacan that pleasure follows the Freudian logic of the beyond 14 in which the psyche seeks the lowest possible excitation. as detached from the “real me. are always within the realm of language: “The pleasure principle is even characterized by the fact that the impossible is so present in it that it is never recognized as such. reality is a realm that consciousness must think as it attempts to bind and reject the Real that remains unbound. that which is not bound to imaginary or hallucinatory images. Jouissance is pleasur in the Real. What consciousness thinks and rids itself of is an unpleasurable sensation. The reality consciousness produces makes room for the psyche to busy itself with those excitations which remain beyond its powerful defense mechanism. Lacan claims. that is. In the realm of the imaginary. Freud says. that which is e unReal. consciousness is a sieve and the gate keeper of the reality that one can think. the psyche gains space and time (which it itself has produced) so as to distinguish between those excitations over which it has control and those which are in excess of its powers. that which transgresses this principle and is beyond Freud’s beyond. Let us not forget that the reality consciousness produces protects the psyche from excess of stimuli imposed by the environment.In the realm of the Imaginary. It is a matter of life and death.
It acquires the shield in this way: its outermost surface ceases to have the structure proper to living matter, becomes to some degree inorganic and thenceforward functions as a special envelope or membrane resistant to stimuli....By its death, the outer layer has saved all the deeper ones from a similar fate. ( B: 27)
The psyche produces a defensive layer, protecting itself from external intrusion and erecting consciousness, as the membrane that lies in-between the inner deeper layers of the psyche and the external environment. Consciousness is dead, says Freud––but not totally dead. It is the surface that ceases to have the structure proper to living matter; that becomes, to some degree, inorganic. Consciousness thinks dead thoughts. By being daemonic––not yet dead and no longer alive––consciousness serves to save the deeper layers of the psyche from a similar fate. And the “bound energy,” which consciousness thinks, is composed of psychic excitations that have been digested and rejected by the living psyche. Conscious thoughts are the excrement of a psyche, and as such, they are dead thoughts––in the service of the Death drive that attempts to “restore an earlier state of things.” (B: 36) It is a peculiar situation: the reaction of the Death drive seems to defy the very end it attempts to achieve. It is as if the Death drive, by producing consciousness, postpones the very death it attempts to gain. If the Death drive is striving to achieve its own death, then why does it not let stimuli flood the psychic system and be overwhelmed by it, so as to reach its own death? Thought in these terms, the role of Eros is just as peculiar. If conscious “dead” thoughts are the result of the working of the Death drive, then Eros’ role must manifest itself by undoing what the Death drive has achieved. Eros, working against the Death drive, pushes, so to speak, the effects of its death towards the outer layers of the psyche, and allows the Death drive to erect its monument on the borderline. Eros must unbind the bound.15 The conflict between these two drives produces consciousness. As the Death drive attempts to bind and rid itself of all stimuli, Eros pushes the bound out from within the psychic sphere, and unbinds deeper layers of unconscious thoughts. No wonder Freud speculates about Thanatos and Eros after having discussed the compulsion to repeat unpleasurable experiences. Perhaps the Death drive is unable to bind the excitation appropriately and the need to continue the binding process remains unsatisfied. Perhaps the excitations were bound, but Eros was successful in unbinding the Death drive’s tie. By repeating the experience compulsively, the child, playing the fort! da! game, manifests her or his inability to master the overflow of excitation. But the child may also manifest the attempt to unbind the scene of the mother’s disappearance, to rid oneself of emotional attachment to the mother. If so, the need to continue the operation prevails until the energy has been satisfactorily bound and unbound. Recall Aristophanes’ myth: Death and Eros have reversed roles. 17 Once the three beings were split, once lack was imposed on them by the gods, by Zeus and by
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Apollo, Zeus’ assistant, it was Eros who drove those beings to seek the recomposition and reassembling of their halves, not Death drive. Love of oneself made them long and yearn for a whole. Eros, not Thanatos, brought about their fatal embrace. And it was Death that drove Zeus to tamper with their sexual parts and hamper a pleasure Eros could not have promised those scarred and aching mortals. Eros’ role, in the psychic sphere Freud imagines, seems the reverse of the role he assigns it. For if Eros’ role is to postpone the death Death attempts to achieve, Eros must undo the ties Death produces in consciousness. Working against the Death drive, it must undo the knots consciousness has brought to the fore. Eros must unbind Death drive’s tie.18 And repetition is the manifestation of the fusing of these two drives. By repeating the experience compulsively, the child, playing the fort! da! game, manifests her or his inability to fully master the excitations. The game the not-too precocious grandchild plays is a fatal game of mastery and control, as Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari note: Nietzsche’s Will to Power. Death, according to Freud, attempts to achieve its death; Eros postpones death by undoing the very death produced in consciousness. And repetition is the name of the game, as Eros unbinds death’s bind. Towards the end of the fourth chapter, Freud connects the working of dreams to the production of consciousness. Although he states that dreams “conjure up what has been forgotten and repressed,” ( B : 32) he also claims that dreams seem to be “more primitive than the purpose of gaining pleasure and avoiding unpleasure” (ibid.). Permit me to speculate here: dreams provide a glimpse into the “unworking” of conscious thoughts. Those threads of unconscious thoughts that appear, as if out of nowhere, are not only unconscious thoughts that blend together with everyday events; what appears to the dreamer in her or his dream may also be the working of Eros’ unbinding drive, as it attempts to postpone Death’s toil. Could it be that the threat of one’s death puts the tired to sleep, if only to save her or his life? Is it not restful sleep that allows the awakened to feel fresh every morning upon getting up? Sleep rejuvenates and revives all that has been so tightly bound after a long day’s work. It allows us not only to forget yesterday’s detailed accounts, but also takes the dreamer away from the tight constraints of space and time into a realm of the Real, into a realm where the imaginary can be undone. This explains the associative nature of the dream work. If the dream is the unbinding of conscious thought, images, sounds, words, and sensations are intermingled with each other to form an experience which is no way bound to one’s external reality. Words blend with visions, images fused with bodily sensations. The dream is like reality, but a reality in the process of its own disintegration––a Virtual Reality perhaps. It is no surprise that traumatic events are compulsively repeated by an exhausted dreamer, for the possibility of untying the solid knot presents quite a challenge. Once excitations have been bound, the ability to unbind them may be as much of an exertion as the strength required to mold them.
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Eros’ drive is a reversal of the direction Death imposes on the aching child. David Krell, after discussing Freud’s need to discover reality or quality signs that will distinguish between reality and dream, notes that in the dream, a remembering thinking “has the capacity to reverse direction.” 17 Indeed, the reversal of direction is a peculiarity of unconscious thoughts, but also a reversal in the direction of the binding Death that attempts to bring about. There, in the realm of the dream, reality strikes. There, beyond the talkative speech of psychoanalysis, the dreamer is free to feel alive. There the dreamer can finally dwell in a reality that is not bound. It is there, perhaps, that the girl may enjoy the pleasure of her body, while the boy attempts to uncover the boundless pleasure of his penisful desire. In a dream a woman can feel a bodily desire, not castrated, not labeled, not contained by another’s desire. Perhaps there a man may experience being the object of another’s desire. Or perhaps, there in the dream, neither man nor woman are constrained by the narrated complex of an Oedipal principle, a symbolic order guiding their desire. It is in the dream that the dreamer can unwrap the bodily signs, unbound, undetermined, unaffected by the restrained images of one’s corpse’s might. Lacan notes, “Freud...emphasizes a point of insertion, a limit point, an irreducible point, at the level of what we might call the source of the Triebe. And it is precisely that our experience then encounter in the irreducible character...of these residues of archaic forms of the libido.” ( SEM VII: 93) Eros, the life drive, undoes the fixed cathexis of the erogenous zones and opens the possibility of another drive. No wonder Freud claims that dreams have the structure of wish-fulfillment. It is there that we can dream of a world not bound by the holes in our body and mouths. And if the dream is the unworking of that which is bound, then death unbound and remains in excess of Eros’s drive, providing a glimpse of Freud’s Triebe. But as soon as the dreamer attempts to undo it, she or he awakens into another reality, a reality in which Death reigns.
NOTES 1 Sigmund Freud, “Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” The Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud VIII: 24, tr. J. Strachey, ed. J. Strachey et al., London: The Hogarth Press, 1953. [24 volumes; orig. 1921.Hereinafter SE.] This edition of “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” is cited as B in the present text. 2 For an examination of the structure of Freud’s speculations see Jacques Derrida, “To Speculate: On ‘Freud,’” in The Post Card, tr. A.Bass, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987. Derrida argues that the speculation manifests Freud’s attempt to avoid acknowledging his debt to philosophy, to Plato, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer in particular, in repetitive gestures. 3 Sigmund Freud, Project for a Scientific Psychology SE I: 295-397. [Orig.1899. Hereinafter cited as P.] 4 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, tr. D. Porter, ed. J. A. Miller, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1986. Hereinafter SEM VII. 5 Jacques Lacan, Encore, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX, tr. B. Fink, ed. J.A. Miller, New York: W.W.
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tr. Seem. New York: W. 1983: 76 (original italics). 1990:147. Dionysus by means of intoxicating drinks. I thank Hanna Freund-Chertouk for calling my attention to this section. Indianapolis:Bobbs-Merrill. Deleuze’s and Guattari’s text is an attempt to unbind and disjoin desire from its Oedipal chains and to allow one to produce conjunctions.Sheridan. Perhaps these gods share Eros’ ability to bind and unbind: Hephaestus does so by means of magical tools. New York: W. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. 1961:189c-193d. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Norton & Company. Krell. The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis. in The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Reminiscence. R. is “the god of binding and unbinding.W.Tomaselli.A. Hereinafter SEM II. and Writing. “The function of the pleasure principle is. are points where Eros will have to find its source. tr.Miller. “Beyond the Pleasure Principle. 16 See Plato. Lacan stresses the fact that all erogenous zones are openings in the body. 1988.e. 1978. H.” The Legend of Freud. M. 61c) in his own attempt to provide a grammar of the psyche––but Socrates is not sure whether Hephaestus or Dionysus is the assigned god. for by making this claim. However. (a) Fall 2000 • 120 . “These erogenous zones. 18 David F.” (SEM VII: 93 ) 14 I. 1956. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Hereinafter 8 Jacques Lacan. Hereinafter SEM XX.. and the computerized world that may only be the extension of its signifiers. virtual in the sense of virtual reality as is produced by computerized images. 243.Norton.one can consider to be generic. EE: 104. in The Collected Dialogues of Plato. and that are limited to a number of special point. trs. A... tr. tr. Hurley. that are not constituted by the Oedipal scene. EE . the god who appeals to the split creatures and offers to bind them together. or bound excitations. Though virtual reality may appear more real than viewing a film perhaps. and that still affirms the disjointed terms. and Eros by means of the psyche and recollection. Alan Sheridan. Press. that is not accurate. in effect. 12 As Lacan claims. it is an emotion that doe not arise from the body but is formed by the mind as it attempts to overpower and regulate its initial emotions. eds. out of excitation and instead of lack. L. 1988. Hereinafter SEM XI. 1977. by generating as many signifiers as are required to maintain as as low a level as possible the tension that regulates the whole functioning of the psychic apparatus.W. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 11 One may claim that the world consciousness produces is a virtual world. E. as Lacan argues.Norton & Company. is perhaps the greatest paradox.” Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. J. ed. Écrits: A Selection. Crains. See in particular Kant’s analysis of pure practical reason Critique of Practical Reason.” (SEM VII: 119) 13 Unlike Freud who stresses the function of the penis as a sign capable of showing sexual desire and excitement as well as its fulfillment. 6 Jacques Lacan. 7 Jacques Lacan. Of Memory. Silvia. A synthesis that “remains disjunctive. Lane. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 10 Recall Kant’s attempt to establish pain as the initial a priori emotion that the mind constitutes by itself as it subjugates all bodily sensations . Symposium. Hamilton and H. S. 9 See also Lacan SEM IX: 118. 1982:161. Book II. His claim is supported by Socrates who appeals to the god who “has been assigned [the] function of mingling” (Philebus. Beck. 17 Sam Weber claims that Hephaestus. to points that are openings. Lacan says. to a limited number of mouths at the body’s surface. it relies on an established consciousness that is there to receive the images the computer may provide. R. not enabling one to imagine their insides.” 15 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari speak of a disjunctive synthesis that has the function of unbinding. one ignores the distinction between the signifiers and images the psyche conjures out of itself. without restricting one by the other or excluding the other from the one. to lead the subject from signifier to signifier. that affirms them throughout their entire distance.
On a lakebed there is an openness so extreme it can hide things. dry lakes unhinged the Atomic Energy Commission into utopian fevers. This is the logic of Bugsy Siegel’s Vegas and the nuclear proving ground. anything goes. These are soft. Los Angeles photographs by Cole Coonce Black Rock Desert: Thrust SSC makes a 750-760 mph pass n the Mojave and Great Basin country there are dry lakes and long valleys where our military made atoms bloom.Edward Teller and the Mach I Car Brad Zukovic Writer. and the Europeans who first crossed them buried their books in dust rivers––the boron flats killed all of their speeches. even as aerospace tested black budget technology downwind from the blasts. horizontal space has been answered: with surveillance drones and entombed radiation. open-mouthed. The largest of the mud flats are so level that objects disappear behind the curvature of the earth––or appear in the case of phantom trains––hovering over the playa. yawning over basins the size of Switzerland. Lakebeds distill an emptiness peculiar to the west. and where there is nothing. As a blank slate of possibility. mineral deserts. I (a) Fall 2000 • 121 . On the Nevada Test Site and the Nellis Range.
The hero is here established as a backyard engineer who can’t be bought or understood and whose labor rewards him with speed. Muroc became Edwards Air Force base. These qualities the L. claimed the glassy blank of El Mirage (where it still meets today) to clock vehicles from the garages of greater Los Angeles.I. space shuttle landings and the calibration of thermonuclear air bursts.P. More troubling specters followed. including an experimental “Flying Wing.C. animating fairy and tadpole shrimp that went dormant in Mojave dust when inland seas vanished millions of years ago. In winter.D. The aberrations known as “Fuel Altereds” persist on some drag strips. Hotrodders were the first to use dry lakes as proving grounds. What they found out there were the flattest of natural surfaces. lithium and salt. proto-hot rodders fell in love with engine parts in the way Ramanujan is said to have acquainted himself with the first 100 integers: knowing each as a personal friend.” resulted in the box-like constructivist look of the 1932 “highboy. raising alkali clouds so thick that stragglers were left blinded and out of control. the rain-finished mud flats can measure a curvature of less than 18 inches over a diameter of 30. plowing through “dirty” air. or “eyeball aero. floating through a heat mirage and caught in a timing trap. In spring. The military began its romance with dry lakes in the summer of 1938. rains will sometimes flood a playa with shallow water.” Hot rods want to marry aesthetics and speed the way physicists yoke the Beautiful and the True. removing the newly formed Southern California Timing Association from Muroc and replacing it with a full-scale cutout of a Japanese battleship. coming to Muroc in the 1920’s to run their Model T “four bangers” far away from the Los Angeles police. On (a) Fall 2000 • 122 . that exploded into the desert floor with a crew of 10. In contrast. Muroc When the American public was given the Model T. and an engine put into that arc cuts the chassis’ reaction time. and shells swept like sucked lozenges. running up on two wheels and into the guardrail. created when ice age lakes baked off and left half the periodic table buried in gypsum.” aerospace references. the exiled S. who twice shut down Clark Gable’s Packard while drag racing him on Sepulveda Blvd. The attempt to streamline by eye. The kid refused.” “Altereds” were built with high engine mounts on the mistaken premise that engine weight shifts rearward in an arc.A. and a short distance through the heat waves.T. sporting names like “Pure Hell” and “Rat Trap. Bowing to the playa.A. and Lombard dispatched mechanics who made a disastrous attempt to copy the speed equipment. failed to appreciate when they beat Estes senseless and auctioned off his car as a “menace.” with no tail or fuselage. the format changed to a single line of dust. Gable was so disturbed that Carole Lombard approached the 20-year old several days later. At first cars charged across the playa in match races. the dragster evolved for acceleration: a stripped down rail and exposed engine. offering to buy his 1925 ‘T’ roadster. One depression-era pioneer of the lakes was Bob Estes.000 feet1: ideal for speed trials.
uranium and plutonium cores began going supercritical over Frenchman and Yucca flats. tour guides tell us were the fastest in the galaxy. sunny place where G-men leafed through newspapers. intended to fly almost perpetually. expanding at speeds which N.5 If hot rodders spread their share of the folklore supernatural. flying discs appeared over Mt.3 On cue. stories of a Heisenberg Sedan lit under a couple of unfortunate grunts as a vehicle of discontinuous transport. more fatalities than the Indianapolis 500. “Go” Fever In December of 1947 Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a Bell X-1 rocket plane over the dry lake that proto-hotrodders Thrust SSC at rest. “Slingshot” dragsters put the driver behind the rear axle “like a rock in a slingshot. and of discontinuities in the N.T. itself. (a) Fall 2000 • 123 . and as for the True: “slingshots” killed 15 drivers between 1963 and 1966. Flying Wings. The cold war skies buzzed with the overreaching creepiness of Pogo planes. There were zones where the sun “didn’t look right” and the playas vibrated. Scuttlebutt had mental patients caged near ground zero as test subjects. The nose section is missing had called Muroc. highways and canals” while $7 billion was committed to a nuclear-powered aircraft. U-2’s and the SR-71.4 Stranger rumors had MacArthur getting a “hard-on for cobalt” and lighting a shot so vicious that it put tears in the information that constitutes this world. ran on aerospace. wobbling in the heat waves of the Nevada Test Site––when all four military services were deployed within a few thousand yards of nuclear airbursts. Rainier––and rematerialized. They saw a side of the military few see. those tract homes acquired a sense of place and mechanically-trained World War II vets had garages to work on their cars. the Atomic Energy Commission lit a 104-kiloton shot exploring “the peaceful use of atomic weapons to dig harbors.2 II. Hawthorne appeared––dropped from the sky in the middle of a bean field––and housewives wept to find themselves beyond the last stop of the Red Line trolley. Redstone rockets boomed from Vertical Test Stand 1 just beyond the San Fernando valley.A. soon to be fixed with nuclear warheads and Alan Shepard. Under the influence of Edward Teller. Within months. The military was spooked by a version of that space: by a fever that something was missing and that the Russians might have it. those impossibly open valleys where the inability to “take it all in” gives a constant impression of something missing. specifically.equally murky grounds. Five years later. Lockheed’s Burbank was an empty.T. photographed as “blank spots” by a commercial airline pilot.” The miscalculations are beautiful.S. Post-war L.S. it is also true that years before stealth technology became known to the world they witnessed bat-winged apparitions moving over dry lakes in advance of their sound.
in a tear-drop bomb with no visible propulsion. like Rodia’s backyard towers in Watts. Like a primordial entity. “belly tanks” were rear-engined. Its Ford flywheel was mated to the crankshaft. Backed by Shell. (a) Fall 2000 • 124 . Craig Breedlove supported his new family in the material and process-engineering department of Douglass Aircraft. Scrapping plans to buy a new supercharger. he had lost his wife. On the Bonneville salt flats. shattered his house and sawed down his neighbor’s hedge.6 Later. goggled like an ant. however. Scattered through the smog-blasted junkyards of the San Fernando Valley. Breedlove drove 110 miles to Salt Lake City and bought a new clutch. Breedlove’s belly tank qualified at 236 mph –– but he lost the clutch. the word “hot rod” was invented. Breedlove soon had his man talked into a wild scheme to break the land speed record with jet thrust. which he promptly lost on the next run. sharing the fate of others swallowed by Lockheed. Spirit of America began incubating in Breedlove’s garage –– to the horror of his neighbors. yet it was a homemade thing: declared a tricycle in the eyes of the Fédération Motocycliste when the Fédération de l’Automobile refused to call it a car. In the late 1950’s Breedlove threw himself into constructing a belly tank lakester. Breedlove was not thinking about rules. By the time Breedlove wheeled it down the driveway. Northrop. It had the quicksilver of the atom and the rocket. Lakes’veteran Dean Batchelor maintains that. he then displayed what some still believe to be his greatest talent: hustling a sponsor.” At the age of 22.Around 1945. Breedlove was one of thousands foraging for parts that fit or that could be made to fit. Made from the fuel tank of a World War II airplane. Since the 19th century all land speed records had been powered “through the wheels. As a teenager. Breedlove instead spent his $500 savings on a disassembled J-47 jet engine and assembled it with help from students at the Northrop Institute of Technology. rather than to a propeller. airplane parts often ended up in scrap or surplus stores. leaving them with 38 cents and no way home. meets the press a single airplane wheel. Nor was he alone. age 60. The Arfons brothers coughed Green Monster out of a back yard scrap heap: named after their first homemade car. With his wife Marge. the driver sat forward.” The 1952 cover of Hop Up magazine featured an “Airoadster” that ran off an inverted and reversed Ranger aircraft engine. there was the Bennet and Rochlitzer jet tank Slingshot. and North American Aviation. which had been sprayed with green tractor paint and steered by Craig Breedlove. He was thinking about the speeds being realized in utter secrecy over Muroc dry lake. “Even rods from WW I era Curtiss OX-5 aircraft engines found their way into quite a few car engines. hovering between plane and car––a thing of the lakebed alone. Out of desperation.
but Arfons bunkered himself in his garage. due to a loose bearing. unbroken since 1947. pulling 16 G’s.” Film of Breedlove’s run showed a metallic object jerking discontinuously while the camera tried to follow. When Mickey Thompson gunned an 800 hp slingshot up to 294 mph across the Bonneville salt flats.the brothers divided in two and refused to speak to or acknowledge each other from the late 1960’s onward. now powered by four supercharged 1959 Pontiac V-8s counter-rotating in pairs to balance torque. III. “Can a Leyden Jar be Described Much More Accurately?” Following Breedlove’s first 407 mph record. constructing a vehicle described by land speed historian Paul Clifton: The front axle came from a 1937 Lincoln and the steering box from a 1955 Packard. and Mickey Thompson. Art Arfons located a foreign-object damaged General Electric J-79 which never should have made it into the private sector. and he limped off the salt flats without making a serious run.” Art Arfons. given its active status propelling F-104 jets in excess of 1600 mph. (a) Fall 2000 • 125 . Instead they over-powered quarter-mile tracks with competing jet dragsters. incinerating the timing equipment in Florida and peeling asphalt at Lions drag strip in Los Angeles. From the garage of mechanic Athol Graham came the most disturbing entry: a World War II Allison aircraft engine dropped into a cleaved B-47 gasoline tank. Graham went first. fleshed out with Cadillac parts and junk yard pieces. and neighbors summoned the police. He was towing his car through San Bernardino when he heard over the radio that Glen Leasher had crashed on his second full run and killed himself. It was left for Mickey Thompson to run 406 mph one way but fail to complete the turnaround run required by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. Turbulent light refracted in the object’s wake––as though someone had managed to stage a gedanken experiment.000 (a savings of roughly a quarter of a million dollars) and then decided to test the device: by lashing it between two trees in his back yard. Windows smashed within a radius of blocks. He somehow cut a deal with a surplus dealer for $5. Nathan Ostich aborted and Englishman Donald Campbell crashed. Breedlove’s car refused to steer. or double the force experienced by an astronaut dropping into earth’s atmosphere. The military demanded their engine back. By 1960 there was Los Angeles doctor Nathan Ostich in his jet-powered “Flying Caduceus. Breedlove returned to the salt on August 5.pretty much a hot rod with a jet engine”––the engine being an after-burning J-47. By the time Craig Breedlove wheeled his $100.000 Shell/Goodyear Spirit of America onto the Bonneville Salt Flats in the summer of 1962 he was facing a beautiful low-budget freak built by Romeo Palamides that was “essentially a four-wheeler with a Ford axle underneath it.. smiling at his wife and making it two miles across the salt before going airborne and suffering fatal injuries. for reasons that neither would divulge.. drag racers began seriously thinking about Englishman John Cobb’s land speed record of 394 mph. 1963: the very day that a photograph of diskshaped cloud formations appeared in a section of Newsweek magazine titled “Space and the Atom” under the subtitle “Ufology.
And on a terrible day in 1971.. a Titan II rocket fuel that blew engines apart. killing the man and two track workers. With his new J-79.”9 “Eyeball aero” involves what Alfred North Whitehead called the “self evidence” of “patterns of relationship in which numerical and quantitative relationships are wholly subordinate. haunches and a swept tail with a 450 blown Chrysler dropped behind the driver. The “self evidence” of Jocko’s whorls and scallops did not immediately materialize.” Twelve days later.. The Arfons brothers’ creations amounted to jet engines on wheels. and Breedlove would also come to dismiss such things.. It had down force.. “For my next act I will light myself on fire..35 E.The mechanism to fire the drag parachute was made out of sawed-off 12-gauge shotguns––cost: $3. snapping awake in the middle of a run. and landed in a brine pond. while hot rod chemists toyed with hydrazine. He did––but he also melted down his brakes. but after enduring failure and derision. hit a telephone pole. Down force eventually crushed (a) Fall 2000 • 126 . Witnesses to the first supersonic car Things got dark. “Jazzy Jim Nelson” ran a record 8. 1 (formerly Valkyrie) killed “Lucky” Harris. Others blacked themselves out with hydrogen peroxide rockets. The basic idea was to power through turbulent. The chutes themselves were made by a friend’s wife on her sewing machine. Russell Mendez died in a rocket car.then I saw an arm move. adjusting an airfoil to keep the car earthbound.. Arfons ran a two-way average of 536 mph––blowing off his chutes and a tire––and the next year his brother wheeled out a finned aberration bristling with 25 Jet Assisted Take-off rockets.7 On the salt flats. “dirty” air. trusting metaphors such as the “dart” shape.”8 On the drag strip a driver known as “Jet Car Bob” tore out his speedometer and installed a gauge measuring the G-forces that brought him to the brink of unconsciousness. When reporters reached him.S..T. blew off his chutes. bounced off a dike.”10 Things just “look right”––as in the designs of Jocko Johnson. in a body that carried the impact of a Kandinsky brush-stroke. Arfons was met by Breedlove. There were no wind tunnels or computers. or a snout flattened like a duckbill platypus in order to “follow mother nature. who was determined to break 500 mph. Breedlove broke 600 mph and Art Arfons later cart-wheeled at 580 mph. Art Arfons took a local newscaster for a jet car ride. He sent a car airborne near the Nellis Range where giant towtargets are sunk like darts and nuclear assembly areas strobe the playas at sundown. Deeper into the underground was Bill Frederick. who brought full-envelope streamlining to the drag strips. occasioning a helicopter pilot to remark: “I didn’t think anyone could possibly have survived. U. legend has Breedlove saying..
of death rays and the wirelesstransmission of power. 1983. it is a sideways step to late period Nikola Tesla. Penrose continued to carve out of wood––even after he knew that the structure of DNA had been discovered––or the flatheads that persist in speed culture after the overhead valve engine has rendered them obsolete. or was sabotaged by Garlits––depending on whom you believe. running off of a wheel-shaped. As explained to drag racing writer Cole Coonce. “Von Dutch. Van Tassel (a Hughes test pilot and Lockheed engineer) read the wings of Ezekiel’s angels as “discharge points: what is today called an air gap. calmly reading the morning paper. on an 86-mile stretch of Pleistocene-era lake bottom north of Reno. which George Van Tassel built in the Mojave to harness piezo-electric energy according to specifications laid down for Moses’ tabernacle in Exodus 25-26. “Can a Leyden jar be described much more accurately?” IV The Last Hot Rod On October 4. the combustion engine went wrong in 1705 by using a crankshaft to convert reciprocal motion into rotary motion. No less strange are the beautiful molecular-genetic models that Lionel S. pulling G-forces formerly inflicted only on Rhesus monkeys and (a) Fall 2000 • 127 . quoted Tesla from memory and owned a giant Tesla coil that inspired his own invention of the coin-operated guillotine. His latest streamliner targets a combustion-driven land speed record of 555 mph. an English businessman named Richard Noble drove his Rolls-Royce Avon powered jet-car to a new World Land Speed Record. handled spooky. and “leaves a lot of space inside a car for other things.Jocko’s shell and a second creation for Don Garlits came in heavy. weighs 40 lbs. to sort out automotive and engineering prowess: a turn-of-the-century world of racing goggles. Noble barely beat the 622 mph record set in 1970 when Gary Gabelich mummified himself into a hydrogen peroxide rocket and fired himself across the Bonneville salt flats.” On Biblical specifications for the tabernacle Van Tassel asked. 3-cycle engine placed around a cam wheel located next to the car wheel itself. Clocking a two-way average speed of 633. This is what is called “technological enthusiasm”12 and as it drifts from empirical test it takes a final step. In contrast. literally down the road from Jocko. Ruined by the construction of a bee-hive lightning tower. Noble carried a European tradition of the gentleman’s gauntlet. Jocko believed that center of gravity and aerodynamic pressure should live in the same place. Gabelich was an American drag racer so addicted to speed that he signed on at the Rockwell Corporation as a test subject.” the hot rod pinstriper.”11 From this.458 mph through a measured mile. thrown down over Cognac. but he created that place with short wheel bases and mid-engine configurations: a troubled idea inseparable from the beauty of his streamliners. heroic understatement and over-engineered machinery. Jocko’s solution chucks the crank and rods. Jocko has ended up bunkered in the desert next to a military base where his designs have become increasingly inscrutable. Tesla prophesied to Hugo Gernsback of the science fiction pulps. swathed in a time-lapse lightning storm. Nevada. to a device known as The Integratron.
he was back in the drivers’ seat with prosthetic limbs. powered by a liquid fuel engine that torched an array of solid fuel doughnuts.”13 Utility is the issue here––a criterion that finished the SuperCollider. When the talk turned to speed. Noble returned to England in a state of agitation. A telescope trained on the Black Rock Desert aware that the American had suffered a relapse of “go fever” and that the end game was not 700 mph. given the correct temperature and barometric pressure. including the brief and lethal career of a Volkswagen bug impaled with a solid fuel rocket. For good measure. but carefully watching Noble’s run was another former hotrodder who had been the first to drive homemade vehicles through 400. Speed culture is full of bad ideas however. At 764 mph an unanchored object belongs in the air. Smelling something archaic. 500 and 600 mph. In 1990. Rose drove back to the starting line for medical attention and several months later. It was Bill Frederick. The notion of a Mach I car had been floating around since the late sixties. Never losing consciousness. such as the one Doug Rose drove into a guardrail after a rainstorm. he attached a disarmed Sidewinder missile atop the power plant and. What good is a hot rod––or for that matter––a symmetry-breaking mechanism that may as well have broken the potsherds of (a) Fall 2000 • 128 . who in 1979 hit the jackpot at Anheuser Busch and chickenwired together the so-called Budweiser Rocket. though most aerodynamicists and engineers considered it to be a very bad idea. There was an elegiac tone to the meeting. however. jet dragsters. hired Chuck Yeager to decree that the abomination had briefly gone supersonic. unable to sustain thrust through a two-way measured mile. Los Angeles Times essayist Bill Sharpsteen wrote: “A car equipped with a surplus jet engine seems crude compared to the infinitely swift. Craig Breedlove met Noble on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Breedlove astonished the Englishman by casually dropping that he had acquired two GE J-79 turbojets. a four-wheel-drive “funny” car that mangled Gabelich in a horrible accident. severing both his legs. silent power of a Pentium computer chip. in that Noble was now a businessman “committed to the production of affordable light aircraft” while Breedlove was retired and sitting atop a real estate fortune. but something that lay about 60 mph further on. and of course. Gabelich was killed in a motorcycle accident following his record run in Blue Flame. not on the ground.Chimps.
with the Spey 205 engines added not for thrust as much as for weight. having flicked onto its side at a reported 675 mph. placed in line with the cockpit.” For his part. and got bored with dual resonating circuits in 1898: circuits which are the basis of Sharpsteen’s Pentium. The sky itself began hiding an eye. with the driver nestled up front where the centre of gravity and pressure would live. near an (a) Fall 2000 • 129 . and a series of epic misfires would plague Breedlove’s creation. Next. as the U2 spy plane began test flights from a remote dry lake bed of the Nevada Test Site. of rolling drag on the front tires alone. out of control. The Brit had spent two years interviewing designers who warned that the thing would fly. it became clear that severe buffeting occurs in the transonic realm. Trading on their national rivalry to raise money. exposing a “black world” whose very lack of oversight seemed integral to the oversight of democracy. from the front.A. sitting between two enormous intakes which resembled. and many experts believed Mach I to be impenetrable––right up until the moment that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier over Muroc. During the late stages of World War II.Lurianic Kabbala? Congress killed the Collider even as Tesla’s Wardenclyffe tower was mothballed: when investors began to suspect that the structure had everything to do with Goethe’s Faust and little to do with the “wireless transmission of power. Several days after Labor Day. In contrast to Noble’s Thrust Supersonic Car. it was flashing past. a Russian Antonov cargo plane landed in Reno. rattling like a dryer with an unbalanced load. Spirit of America was light.14 In late October of 1996 a 59-year old Craig Breedlove appeared to the journalists assembled on the floor of the Black Rock desert as a dust devil. Times the next day. Nevada and disgorged a black hallucination haunched by two Rolls Royce Spey turbo jets. Stability was the starting point for the Brits. Gyroscopic forces necessitated rear steering and a moveable rear suspension would adjust the angle of attack. sold the alternating current patent for cash. streamlined. Spirit of America seemed to be coming toward spectators––an interesting optical illusion. due to rebounding pressure waves. Ayers designed according to the maxim: “anything that isn’t lift is down force. the tire rims collected playa dust.” Drag would be welcomed. Computer simulations and wind tunnels were rejected. 1997. and out of the “dirty air” whorling past.000 hp straining to push 13. a chance meeting with a retired aerodynamicist named Ron Ayers convinced Noble that two jet engines might work. it was a major security leak. Noble’s driver was an RAF pilot named Andy Green. At one point. Tesla left his radio patent for Marconi to steal. and powered by a single GE-79 jet. However. Air flow shifts over a vehicle approaching the sound barrier––even with a minor increase in speed––causing pressure beneath to lift it. horsepower would compensate: 105. Noble and Breedlove found themselves facing one of the great problems of applied physics. At first. four out of six British and Canadian pilots died trying to break Mach I in prop-driven Spitfires during “controlled” dives that froze their elevators and disintegrated their aircraft. the eyes of a gas mask.000 lbs. floating over the horizon. With jets and rocket planes. At Mach I Green faced more turbulence than Yeager’s Bell X-1 rocket plane. and as with a fuel dragster. When news of Yeager’s top secret flight made the front page of the L.
Abruptly. (a) Fall 2000 • 130 . His universe was “newly created every microsecond by every atom.” It was Edward Teller.abandoned World War II airstrip. gypsum clouds boiled over the floor of Lake Lahontan. and there is a lurch in the hills. however. On October 13. By mile five it is a lateral tornado. It is built for this only.) The front of the car is to the left. Among his final proposals was that of compressing deuterium and tritium to produce “microexplosions” which “will allow us to study matter. in advance of its sound. It was there. “one may construct a nuclear internal combustion engine. selling “clean” nuclear bombs to Eisenhower and a space-based X-ray laser to President Reagan (who did not seem to realize that a nuclear event was involved). heavily coupled to the playa. killing Glen Leasher)... moving across the lakebed in dead silence. but the dust tower overwhelms the mountains. and no desire at all for hidden variables behind the formalism of quantum mechanics. outlined by rising playa dust. 1997 the wind stops and Thrust SSC begins rolling. Johnson tested his U-2 on Groom Dry Lake.” Teller remarked.. over Alpha-radiated hills. and this “Jockeo” car (scrapped after a single.15 Teller embraced uncertainty. according to land speed historian Cole Coonce: “Infinity” (which disintegrated. at speeds one pilot characterized as “almost a religious experience. follows the car. the dust trail rises.. that Lockheed’s Kelley Johnson found his fantasy space: past craters Buster-Jangle. place or use for this machine. every star. whining through its first few miles. feeling little of Einstein’s anxiety about local causality. At 750 mph an ultra light pilot has photographed Thrust SSC pushing the edge of an enormous shock wave. Sedan and Dog.” “In this way. whose mostly vanished waters once covered much of Northern Nevada.in a state heretofore denied us. record-run on a drag strip. followed by the A-12. At exactly the moment postwar hot rodders were establishing their own proving grounds on lake beds and deserted military bases.”16 Through early October. It is suddenly clear that there is no road. who understood the overreaching in all of this. Two designs were visionary.where pressures exceed those at the center of the earth. The Black Rock desert is 86 by 20 miles of mud flats between the Calico Mountains and the Seven Troughs range. 12 miles down a dirt road from ground zero of the Plumb Bob series. and every living being”––a prolific nature coinciding with his own.
When the military sealed off dry lakes. Father of the Neutron Bomb The dry lakes scene reached its millennial conclusion with two events. Forensic work established what happened: a kid had gotten into a military base. father of the hydrogen bomb and proto-type for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. jerking discontinuously in the sector of the Nevada Test Site known as Area 51.A. Strangelove. If I went down another level in my psyche.V. Shortly after the meeting. the folklore supernatural saw the “alienation” of our brightest technical minds––Kelley Johnson. and strapped it to a 1967 Chevrolet Impala. and so there are no qualms to be had. but romantic. he realized that he was looking at the remains of an automobile. builder of a jet-powered Honda. according to a wire service report. The fantasy is to steal what is “back there”––something which actually happened recently. Flying Saucer lore is deeply mixed up with the cold war proving ground and the religiouseschatological glow of technology (now surrounding the gene and the algorithm. rode the brakes to no effect and struck the cliff face at 300 mph.O. It describes an Arizona Highway Patrol officer coming upon a smoldering metallic object. Times and the Vancouver Sun) demanding to be told. an internet myth. Gradually. He or she lit the device as an after burner. Test site stories originated from ordinary citizens. but the situation is intolerable for an enthusiast whose impulses are not utilitarian. as only the truth can. A few were on the inside once––having seen the veins of the Emigrant Mountains by atom light or flown F-16’s out of Nellis––but the “inside” stories mostly pay off in a lizard shaking hands with a general. creating their gloomy wonders. The item. Driver and car––fused. incident.” It was there that Lazar claimed to have seen a metallic disc. (a) Fall 2000 • 131 . binoculars trained on the airspace of Groom and Papoose dry lakes. deep into a box of restricted airspace with call sign “Dreamland. and Edward Teller. Folklore is not a T. Dreamland I’ve rationalized my fascination with nuclear weapons by saying it’s important for the security of my country. paranoid valleys north of Las Vegas. Lazar found himself bumping along in a school bus with blacked-out windows. Lazar claimed to have hit it off with the old man on the subject of jet “funny cars.F. when a 75-year old hot rodder killed himself within sight of the Space Shuttle landing strip. We can bask in this glow. camping out in vast. embedded high on the face of a cliff in the desert.17 Sam Cohen. Ben Rich and Edward Teller––secreted “back there” with virtually unlimited black budgets. It nonetheless ran in Reuters and international major dailies (including the L. The second is more difficult to summarize: a rumored meeting between Bob Lazar. sensing something very “off” about the situation. stolen a JATO rocket. carries strains of bug-eyed speed addiction and the Zamora U.V. show. as it once did the atom and space travel). Over coffee. facts be damned. I wouldn’t know what to say–– I’ve done it because I wanted to.” after which Teller decided to show the kid a real hot rod. The first occurred during a 1998 Muroc reunion. The officer approached the object with some trepidation.
dehydrated and stripped.18 The Cal State Long Beach cultural anthropology graduate was looking for trail markers of the “Lost ‘49er” emigrants. He barely made it out. kept alive by a Department of Energy water pipe. brooding from the lava. petrified in rippled badlands that take on the aspect of human brains at sundown. Faces even. echoing Nevada governor Charles Russell. Nevada dust rivers sweep away to spectral artillery targets and cratered valleys. “strange vibrations” in the playas. who effused in a 1952 speech that the “sub marginal” wastes of the proving ground were “blooming with atoms. somehow eluding motion detectors and security patrols (who. but he returned with a different story. “if they’d caught me in there” would have “lit me up like a Roman candle”). This is no vision of hell––to the contrary. red with the sun like Mars. Department of Energy tour guides have now opened up the Test Site as a kind of park. and unfinished thoughts. It was through the Nevada test site that a 55-year old schoolteacher hiked in to Papoose dry lake in April of 1997. our legs. Across the restricted perimeter he had encountered a large “city” of buildings strobing with light.* * * Beyond the guard shack at Mercury. Our arms. and “a lighted doorway” that appeared and disappeared across Papoose lake at night.”19 An atomic garden recalls the desert’s alienated humanity. Black Rock Desert: Dust rising after a pass by Thrust SSC (a) Fall 2000 • 132 .
U. Meyer. 1938] 11 Cole Coonce. Cambridge: MITPress. Also. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940. Strategic Defense Initiative Program: Accuracy of Statements Concerning DoE’s X-Ray Laser Research Program. 6 Dean Batchelor. 1996:164... 2 Robert Post. 1995:113. Later. 17 Robert Del Tredici.. New York: Dell Publishing.11:4 (November) 1996:57. American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War. General Accounting Office.” Far Out (Winter) 1992:10. 13 Bill Sharpsteen. 3 The Brookings Institution.S. New York: Harper and Row.S. 1958:47. 12 Drag racing historian Robert Post describes hot rodding as “technological enthusiasm. (September 1) 1996:22. For Teller’s role. Modes of Thought. NSIAD-88-181BR (June) 1988:7-14 and 29-32.” Los Angeles Times. 18 Bob Pool. Tesla: Man Out of Time. The Mojave. it sold the fantasy of a prophylactic missile shield–the so-called “Star Wars” missile defense system. “Human Guinea Pigs at Ground Zero: An Interview with a Cold War-Era Atomic Vet. 4 Carole Gallagher. “Teller Gave Flawed Data on X-Ray Laser. 1987:A-1. 1987:157.” Air and Space/Smithsonian. Atomic Audit. and I collected the others at an Area 51 conference in Rachel. Scientist Says. Why Should You Care?” Los Angeles Times Magazine. Nevada in 1992. 14 Margaret Cheney. p.. cit. Washington: Brookings Institution Press. op. despite being briefed on the system by Edward Teller” (Kevin O’Neill. “The Fastest Car in the World? If You Can’t Buy it. Dan Morain and Richard E. [Orig. At Work In the Fields of the Bomb. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co. “Trek to Forbidden Ground.” Los Angeles Times. 8 “Nightmare on the Flats. Conversations on the Dark Secrets of Physics. he did not mention that X-Rays from a nuclear detonation were to destroy incoming missiles. 10 Alfred North Whitehead.NOTES 1 David Darlington. New York: Plenum Press. 50:3 (March) 1997:94. an administration official claimed that the president was “unaware of the laser’s power source. see: “The Earthly Origins of Star Wars.” Drag Racing Monthly. 16 Edward Teller. 1991:210-211. Inc. 9 Robert Post. 15 When Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative on March 23.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 1994:186-187. 1983. The American Hot Rod.. The Fastest Men On Earth. High Performance:210. 1998:123. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1996:211. (a) Fall 2000 • 133 . “Target Speed 29 Palms. “Going Vertical: Why the Straight-Up Fighter Effort Broke Down.” used by aviation writers to describe the post-war explosion of failed. 7 Paul Clifton. (November 25)1966:63. 5 DiGregorio unearths the MacArthur story in Far Out (Summer) 1993.” echoing the term “technological euphoria.” Time. New York: David McKay Co. 1993:62 and 346. Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U. 19 Michael DiGregorio. Inc. Osceola: Motorbooks International.1981:160-161. 81n). see Michael DiGregorio. 43 (October) 1987:20-28. (March 25) 1988:B-8. High Performance: The Culture and Technology of Drag Racing 1950-1990. Although Teller’s X-Ray was ludicrously unworkable. October 21. New York: Henry Holt. experimental aircraft (see: Stephan Wilkinson.
First. for example. say. [Is it true that] The author’s central concepts of articulation. however. and radical impossibility are not especially enhanced by their recourse to “Lacanianisms” that although carrying with them a certain provocative charge. its exact nature and implications are currently the object of ongoing debate. in Laclau’s work the confluence between Lacanian psychoanalysis and post-marxist discourse theory was envisaged from the beginning as a project subverting any simplistic logic of supplementarity. antagonism. Slavoj i ek?3 In order to start answering this question it is necessary to examine in some detail the intricacies of Laclau’s dialogue with Lacanian theory since. although all commentators of Laclau recognize the existence of this dialogue. do not possess any further polemical value [?]5 A It seems to me that there are obvious problems with this kind of argument.Laclau With Lacan: Comments on the Relation Between Discourse Theory and Lacanian Psychoanalysis1 Yannis Stavrakakis University of Essex Prolegomena t a recent conference devoted to the relation between Lacan and social theory. neither as the addition of a supplement to the former [post-marxism] from the latter [Lacanian theory] nor as the introduction of a new causal (a) Fall 2000 • 134 .2 Does that mean that Ernesto Laclau is now fully committed to Lacanian theory and sees his intellectual project as an attempt to demonstrate the importance of Lacan for sociopolitical analysis and political philosophy in a way similar to that of. Consider the following quote from a paper Laclau published in 1986 and in which he clearly views this confluence as an enterprise beyond any logic of supplement or articulation: this is a project “conceivable. let me very briefly address some preliminary “historical” or rather genealogical questions. Before exploring the status of this dialogue in detail.4 When did this dialogue start and what is psychoanalysis contributing to the development of discourse theory? Is it one of its driving forces or a mere “supplement”? Is it correct to infer. that Laclau’s and Mouffe’s project of articulating the complexities of a postmodern politics would have been just as innovative and compelling without their psychoanalytic metaphors. the call for papers presented Ernesto Laclau’s work as one of the prime loci in which this relation becomes articulated.
.. and subjectivity” he nevertheless chooses “without disregarding Laclau’s more recent work.. my aim in the main body of this paper shall be to discuss (a) Fall 2000 • 135 ... to arrest the flow of differences.. nodal points. creates a whole new field in which new concepts and theoretical logics emerge..12 is something which we hope will be clarified in the course of this paper. as Anna Marie Smith argues––a shift which she seems to consider problematic11––or a mere displacement which leaves intact the supposed incompatibilities between discourse theory and psychoanalysis as argued by Sean Homer.to limit. a central operational category in discourse theory.. in this introductory section. a concept developed at the intersection of Lacanian theory and political analysis: Any discourse is constituted as an attempt to dominate the field of discursivity. whether this redefinition constitutes a radical “Lacanian shift” in Laclau’s work. which was actually published well before the publication of Bellamy’s critique. that during the mid-eighties Lacanian theory is already the main theoretical reference in Laclau’s or Laclau and Mouffe’s work. to construct a centre.this influence has increased during these last years and led to” a very important redefinition of some of the categories of his theory of hegemony.10 Now. (Lacan has insisted on these partial fixations through his concept of points de capiton..reading to Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. but this time “self-inflicted. One obvious example is the concept of the nodal point as developed in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. although “Lacanian theory played an important role in.. of course. The relative importance of Lacanian argumentation was to increase in Laclau’s subsequent work and this was something that Bellamy could not of course predict. that a serious and substantive dialogue does exist between Laclau’s work and Lacanian theory and having sketched a first genealogical map of this dialogue.7 This is not to argue. in other words. and Laclau has recently begun to focus on the impact of the unconscious on all forms of politics. groups..” limitations––”self-inflicted” in the sense that although he writes five or six years after Bellamy.. concepts and logics which acquire meaning only within this new terrain and thus are not reducible to neither of the two poles involved in its creation.”6 This confluence.[his] theoretical trajectory at least from the beginning of the eighties. of privileged signifiers that fix the meaning of a signifying chain. Having established then. and recognizes himself that “Laclau and Mouffe’s work obviously has changed over the course of a decade. In that sense the validity of Bellamy’s argument is further undermined today by the fact that it could not take into account the whole dialogue that took place after 1985––between Laclau and i ek for instance––and which left its distinctive mark in Laclau’s work––most notably in New Reflections on the Revolution of our Time (1990).. a redefinition put forward in New Reflections. This limitation of the productivity of the signifying chain establishes the positions that make predication possible––a discourse incapable of generating any fixity of meaning is the discourse of the psychotic).element––the unconscious instead of the economy. It is really a pity that a detailed critique of Laclau’s work and of its relation to psychoanalysis such as the one staged by Christopher Lane8 suffers from the same.[his]. and in Emancipation(s) (1996).”9 This is a pity because as Ernesto Laclau clearly points out in an interview conducted by D. that is. Zeginis and myself in 1993. We will call the privileged discursive points of this partial fixation.
. The second section addresses certain issues related to Laclau’s conception of the political in its relation to the Lacanian real. If there is an essence in the Lacanian subject it is precisely “the lack of essence..”15 The object of Lacanian psychoanalysis is not the individual. nor any sort of substance.13 Here. the articulation of a set of points on the relation between Lacanian theory and political analysis in general. something which will further permit. Their use of psychoanalytic terms to further elucidate certain ideological and political phenomena is too broadly deployed to allow for a consideration of the individual psyche as a factor in the operations of ideology.14 According to Lacan. nor any being possessing knowledge in his pathos. the subject is not some sort of individual psychological substratum that can be reduced to its own representation. For Laclau’s project remains one of the most original and dynamic interventions in contemporary political theory. The first one attempts a general but brief presentation of the basic links between discourse theory and Lacanian psychoanalysis. Hopefully the terms of this relation will become clearer in the process.I am not designating the living substratum needed by this phenomenon of the subject. while the third addresses the whole problematic of the ethical moment in Laclau’s work. then.and the psychic which however fragmented. and this is a relation whose future form is in no way predetermined. addressing at the same time the most important criticisms that have been directed at this dimension of Laclau’s work. I At the outset.” Such a view has been articulated as a criticism of Laclau’s and Mouffe’s work by Jane Bellamy: In order to render more meaningful their invoking of psychoanalytic terms Laclau & Mouffe would need to be more specific about the precise nature of the intersection between the social. in various stages in my argumentation. nor even some incarnated logos. However. whether primal or secondary. (a) Fall 2000 • 136 . I decided to structure this paper in three sections.the exact nature and the stakes of this dialogue. What must be emphasized at this point is that. the role of the individual actor in politics. Lacan is extremely clear in this respect: in the term subject. Rather. that is to say.. We may approach this issue through the question: “What serves to unite these two approaches?” The most common but totally misleading answer is the following: “But surely. especially in the field in which political theory meets psychoanalysis. For her formulation seems to betray a certain resistance to giving up an ultimately essentialist perspective. I would like to dispel a confusion which accompanies many discussions of the relation between psychoanalytic theory and sociopolitical analysis. at least for Lacan. I would like to question the conception of “individual psyche” that Bellamy has in mind.. it represents a kind of snapshot of the relation as it is currently developing. Once this is granted the way is open to develop an alternative definition of subjectivity. one should always keep in mind that my account is not to be construed as in any way a fixed one. this psyche is nothing other than the pure substanceless subject as lack. his suffering. alienated and deconstructed is surely a major factor in the implementing of political actions. at its evolving relation with Lacanian theory.
(a) Fall 2000 • 137 .”19 The key term for understanding this relation between the subjective and the objective is. of course. with its explicit assertion of a lack at the root of any identity: one needs to identify with something because there is an originary and insurmountable lack of identity. subjective level. Freudo-Lacanian psychoanalysis not only radicalizes our understanding of the subject in politics.”18 Here. In Laclau’s own words in Hegemony. But what is even more important is that Laclau does not remain content with this schema. It seems that Laclau realizes that by introducing the conception of the subject as lack. But why exactly is that? First of all because it is lack which makes necessary the constitution of every identity through a process of identification linking thus inexorably the subjective level to the objective. albeit important. Laclau is taking very seriously this insight in his anti-essentialist conceptualization of political subjectivity. Lacanian theory is equally concerned with the objective level.”17 Contrary to what Bellamy implies it is this appropriation of the Lacanian conception of the subject as lack which gives Laclau the opportunity of reaching a more sophisticated mapping of political action beyond any psychological essentialism or reductionism. of course. and. as Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy have put it. What permits this confluence is that analytic theory is not only concerned with lack but also with what attempts to fill this lack and always ends up reproducing it: “Psychoanalysis is otherwise directed at the effect of discourse within the subject. there was a tendency of reducing the subject to a ‘subject position’ (a structuralist conception). In fact. the level of the object of identification per se (Lacanian categories such as the Real. concepts such as fantasy. nor even to the relation between the subject and the social grasped through the concept of identification. and by recognizing the constitutive split marking subjectivity (the Ich Spaltung).”20 By locating thus at the place previously assigned to an essence of the individual psyche a constitutive lack. Lacanian theory avoids the essentialist reductionism of the social to the individual level and opens the road to the confluence of psychoanalysis and socio-political analysis since this lack can only be (partially) filled by sociopolitical objects of identification.it is not man.16 It is lack then which is revealed as the defining mark of subjectivity. the Symbolic and the Imaginary encompass the whole of human experience and not only the so-called “subjective” level. From this point of view. but offers a coherent account of the relation between the subjective and the objective orders. the latter of which pertains to the level of the social. “the psychoanalytic category of identification. as a result of his dialogue with Slavoj i ek during the late eighties there has been a shift in his conception of subjectivity from Hegemony (where subjectivity is understood in terms of subject positions) to New Reflections (where the subject as lack becomes dominant). “there is no subject according to Lacan which is not always already a social subject. It is what he is lacking. not only discourse theory meets Lacan but Lacan meets discourse theory––an encounter he would conclude with his theory of the four discourses. Today I tend to distinguish between objective subject positions and the subject as the subject of lack. the Other and objet petit a display thoroughly “objective” logics without leading. In my view he senses that the importance of Lacanian theory for sociopolitical analysis cannot be reduced to this. “as Slavoj i ek has correctly pointed out.
the void of its lack of guarantee in the real. by a fundamental impossibility. the more insightful suggestion that Lacan makes with respect to the realm of the objective-social. around a central lack.”24 Now. Hegemonic practices are suturing insofar as their field of operation is determined by the openness of the social. to any kind of objectivism. extra-discursive foundation. Such a closure of the social is. necessary. making thus visible the irreducible failure inscribed at the heart of the Other of meaning: “there is a fault. the reduction. a real which is however resurfacing. where does Laclau fit in all this?25 What I want to argue is that this lack in the Other effectively translates into the split character of every object of identification––what Laclau has described as the ultimate impossibility of society. It does not exist as a given. concerns what he calls the lack in the Other.. of an ultimately unrepresentable real. by the ultimately unfixed character of every signifier. The structure of the Other is revealed as a certain void. This original lack is precisely what the hegemonic practices try to fill in.”26 If for Lacan the Woman does not exist. As i ek has put it. as Lacan calls it already from his 1958––59 Seminar.) In actual fact. there is no Other of the Other. Suture is used by Laclau and Mouffe as developed by Jacques-Alain Miller and as it implicitly operates in Lacanian theory in general. the exclusion. It designates a structure of irreducible lack but also highlights the continuous attempt to fill this lack: It is this double movement that we will attempt to stress in our extension of the concept of suture to the field of politics.. it becomes legitimate to argue that Lacan’s major contribution to contemporary theory is “a new picture of the social.21 The lack in the big Other is the big secret of psychoanalysis. In that sense. Politics comprise all our fantasmatic attempts to fill-in this lack in the Other: “although the fullness and (a) Fall 2000 • 138 . hole or loss therein [in the Other]. crossed-out. meaning always indicates the direction toward its failure.however. Something is always missing in the Other. therefore. In a 1983 paper characteristically entitled “The Impossibility of Society” he argues that “society. structured around an impossible/traumatic kernel. as the depository of fullness and universality. the most radical dimension of Lacanian theory lies not in recognizing [“that the Lacanian subject is divided.” 23 The social field is revealed as a discursive field of representation which is articulated on the basis of the repression. Meaning is always based on semblance. managed to identify itself with the transparency of a closed symbolic order. the symbolic order itself. Atotally sutured society would be one where this filling-in would have reached its ultimate consequences and would have. identical to a lack in a signifying chain”] but in realizing that the big Other.. it is only produced as an object of discourse through processes of identification which attempt to suture its lack of foundation in the real..27 For Laclau then society is impossible because the full Other is impossible. My reference to the concept of suture in the previous paragraph was not coincidental. it highlights another conceptual link between discourse theory and Lacanian psychoanalysis.impossible. is also barré. precisely because “there is no last word”. for Laclau Society does not exist.22 its failure to anchor itself on the real. crossed-out.as a unitary and intelligible object which grounds its own partial processes is an impossibility.
This is how empty signifiers are produced––a concept which has acquired central importance in Laclau’s recent texts. Laclau’s work. thereby ushering in new identificatory attempts to re-institute it by means of imaginary/symbolic rearticulations (played out in the context of hegemonic struggles attempting to suture the lack in the Other).universality of society is unachievable. plays the same role. In this sense. the level of sedimented practices and institutions (i.”28 If.31Thanos Lipowatz stages a critique of E. for example. it has.30 and also in his contribution to a volume that was recently published in German. Lipowatz’s criticism regarding the use of the political is twofold. the economy.” “revolution” etc. Politics is possible because the constitutive impossibility of society can only represent itself through the production of empty signifiers.29 We used the paradigm of order but signifiers like “unity. as the signifier of this absence. it becomes an empty signifier. in other words.). In that sense.34 For him.”(ibid. various political forces can compete in their efforts to present their particular objectives as those which carry out the filling of that lack. can function in a similar way: “Any term which. the attribution to the political of such an imaginary status. the full closure of the Other is impossible this does not mean that it is not signified through its own absence. For it is apparent that. The articulation of a hegemonically appealing political discourse can only take place around an empty signifier functioning as a nodal point. nor absolute. and thus imaginary status. To hegemonize something is exactly to carry out this filling function.33 In order to help diffuse this misunderstanding. the political is the moment in which the social is disrupted.) II In a review article for a Greek journal. the political is never omnipotent.32 As I understand it. in E. As Laclau points out: in a situation of radical disorder “order” is present as that which is absent [but desired. in a certain political context becomes the signifier of the lack. If Laclau’s work focuses on the intricacies of the political dimension this is because this dimension has been historically repressed in theoretical discourse by various forms of social essentialism. on the other. a situation of radical disorder and social disintegration. The moment of the political is always examined in relation to the order of the social it dislocates and to the new social order articulated as a result of its irruption. I will deal with the first criticism in this (a) Fall 2000 • 139 . Lipowatz’s primary objection is that Ernesto Laclau overstresses the importance of the political (and of the related elements of antagonism and contingency) to the point that the political acquires in Laclau’s discourse an absolute. in other words. Laclau’s project which is articulated within the context of a certain psychoanalytic framework. an objet petit a quality]. Laclau neglects two other dimensions: (1) The material infrastructure of society.e. a theorist’s decision to explore the dimension of the political (recognizing at the same time its interaction with other dimensions of our experience) and. the level of social construction). He argues that. a point de capiton. as well as other distinctive discursive domains (the cultural dimension etc. by overstressing the political. on the one hand. omnipotent. its need does not disappear: it will always show itself through the presence of its absence. Consider. (2) The ethical dimension. To be more precise. the political is always explored in its relation to the social. it might be useful to distinguish between.
as one discourse among others (the religious. I have the impression that the first criticism is based on a confusion which can be easily resolved.) and is thus led to the conclusion that. for instance. as understood by Laclau. or to a disagreement in the manner in which it is deployed. as a system. What we find at the discursive level. etc. But the political. is. supported by fantasy. The political. and thus “inside”) this socially constructed field. albeit an expanding one. on the other hand. Laclau’s work. as all reality. Lipowatz seems to conceive the political in the traditional sense. Not surprisingly then. the economic etc. secondly. the political system.35 Although this well-ordered picture is lately starting to show signs of disintegration. trade unions etc. the importance of this discourse is overstressed in relation to all the others. ideological discourses. expect to find politics in the arenas prescribed for it in the hegemonic discourse of liberal democracies (these arenas being the parliament. the level of the social (which includes all the discursive domains mentioned by Lipowatz) is what we usually call politics. with the politicization of areas previously located outside the political system. we move our attention from the political per se (as the moment of the disruption and undecidability governing the reconstruction of social objectivity) to the discursively constructed field of politics and “society” (defined as the result of this construction and reconstruction. elections. economic and political constructions) belong to distinct and incommensurable orders.”36 When we limit our scope within politics we are attempting a certain domestication/spatialization of the political. or envisaged as constituting a specific sphere or level of society. in Laclau’s work. politicians. political institutions. and is expected to stay within the boundaries of this system: people. social scientists and citizens. in Laclau. the moment of the political and the space of the social (incorporating various discursive fields including our religious. constituted at the symbolic level. as the sedimented forms of objectivity). Politics is conceived as constituting a separate system. parties. the particular forms of political representation and the various ideological families.part of the paper and I shall leave the second one for the final part.37 This sedimentation of political reality (as a part or a subsystem of the social) (a) Fall 2000 • 140 . It must be conceived as a dimension that is inherent to every human society and that determines our very ontological condition. it is one of the most exciting developments in contemporary political theory. and also expect it to be performed by the accordingly sanctioned agents. In these two parts of my paper Lipowatz’s argumentation will also serve as a general frame permitting the discussion of other critical readings of Laclau’s project in its relation to Lacanian theory. In mainstream political science. The political is what disrupts this discursive field and leads to its continuous rearticulation. and. that is to say. firstly. is quite definitively not a discourse. and one strongly promoted by theorists such as Laclau and Mouffe. and which can be traced either to a misunderstanding by Lipowatz of the concept of the political in E. that is to say. politics can only be represented in spatial terms. Politics is identical to political reality and political reality. that the political is not defined as reducible to this discursive field of politics: “The political cannot be restricted to a certain type of institution. politics and political reality are associated with citizenship.). Hence. as a set of practices and institutions. is outside (but always in interaction with.
a forgetting of the contingent force of dislocation which stands at its foundation. Laclau is arguing that this material element is present and always articulated in our discourses. This is only the fantasy through which they attempt to constitute and reconstitute themselves. with reference to Lacanian theory. it is limited by the political qua encounter with the real. Let me sum up some of the ideas presented up to now in this paper. the discursively constructed field of politics (and vice versa) within a framework of discursive interaction. the economic space itself as a discursive construction40 is always subject to the structural causality of the political. the moment of the political should be understood as emerging at the intersection of our symbolic reality with this real. The same confusion to which I referred earlier is at work here. The level of social construction. and institutions are themselves subject to disruptions and dislocations and are always rearticulated through hegemonic and not (a) Fall 2000 • 141 . And while it may be true that the economy may limit our political discourses.”39 a move reminiscent of Lacan’s insistence on the materiality of the signifier. Laclau’s work permits the following conclusion: the political seems to acquire a position closely related to that of the Lacanian real.38 Let us return now to the critique of Lipowatz. systems. In fact. Our societies are never harmonious ensembles. Given this context. In fact. what becomes in Laclau’s work the ultimate impossibility of society. of the socio-political world per se. Lipowatz is particularly insistent that by overstressing the political Laclau neglects the level of the economy.requires a forgetting of origins. politics and the political. In fact. discourses that are not reduced to a “combination of speech and writing” but are seen as incorporating “both linguistic and non-linguistic elements. one cannot but be struck by the fact that the political is revealed as a particular modality of the real: the political becomes one of the forms in which one encounters the real. Underlying Lacan’s importance for political theory and political analysis is his insistence on the split. his argument is articulated in a rather traditional way––one which highlights the “material” infrastructure of the economy as something that limits the political. No social fantasy can fill the lack around which society is always structured. the impossible real being the ontological horizon of every play between political articulation and dislocation. Our economic constructions. Experience shows that this fantasmatic desire can never be fully realized. This lack is re-emerging with every resurfacing of the political. we can speak about the political exactly because there is subversion and dislocation of the social (including the field of politics). improperly. This is not only true of the economy but of all discursive fields. order and disorder. He suggests that Laclau’s radical critique of economism leads him. to suture their constitutive impossibility. to privilege the political over the economy. of human creativity. of the emergence and development of socio-political institutions. it requires the symbolic and fantasmatic reduction of the real. is the level in which the possibility of mastering the real makes itself visible but only to be revealed as a chimera unable to foreclose a moment of impossibility that always returns to its place. In Laclau’s vocabulary. Laclau is in no way a solipsist. with every encounter with the real. lacking nature of the symbolic.
it would seem that Lipowatz himself accepts this fact when he speaks about the intervention of the real in economic life. in “Beyond Discourse Analysis. In the same interview to which I referred earlier (given under the auspices of the Greek journal DIAVAZO) he points out that: There was a certain ambiguity in the way the category of antagonism was formulated in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. as a limit of the social. in most cases. In this view. There exists. in fact serves to vindicate Laclau’s argumentation. we must distinguish antagonism as real from the social reality of the antagonistic fight.”41 attempted to solve it by distinguishing the radical-real antagonism from the commonplace meaning of antagonism which clearly does not correspond to. In that sense. the imaginary-fantasmatic construction of both antagonistic poles]. therefore.”42 Indeed the introduction of the category of “dislocation” in New Reflections as a central––perhaps the central––concept in Laclau’s theoretical corpus constitutes a major (a) Fall 2000 • 142 . That’s why in my more recent work I moved my attention to the category of “dislocation” as a level prior to that of “antagonism. This is. from antagonism as the relation between antagonistic subject-positions: in Lacanian terms. The concept of antagonism thus seems. I would like to suggest that this line of approach reveals some common ground shared by the two theorists that could serve as the basis of further dialogue. unmediated access to it).”(253) Ernesto Laclau himself went even further in his attempt to remedy this problem. equating it with the moment of dislocation or crisis of an economic system which leads to the formation of a new economic order. far from being imaginary.. the political. instead of forming the basis of a critique. however. that the use of the concept of antagonism in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy implies an antagonistic relation between two forces that fight the imaginary (fantasmatic) construction of each other. as the impossibility around which the social field is structured. Lipowatz’s example about the presence of the real in the economic space. for example. Today I believe that the constitution of the other as antagonistic already presupposes a certain discursive inscription––in other words conceiving the other as an enemy presupposes a prior identification of ourselves with a particular position within the framework of the Symbolic order [It also presupposes. It is true. This was pointed out by i ek who. true if we understand the political in the traditional sense as only another discourse (reducing it thus to politics). Indeed.. the real and the structural causality that it instantiates vis-a-vis all discursive fields. however. This is not to say. of course.algorithmic processes governed by “matter” itself (as if it were possible to gain direct. open to such a criticism. is a certain way of approaching. Laclau and Mouffe’s intuition: “We must then distinguish the experience of antagonism in its radical form. an emphasis on antagonism as the defining moment of the political may be construed as privileging the imaginary dimension. of encircling. that Lipowatz’s argument is wholly misplaced. by its very nature. Lipowatz suspects that it means that the real is not present only in the political but also in the life of economic discourses. a second logical possibility which is exactly what we find articulated in Laclau’s work: as we have already pointed out. including the economy. Indeed. This fact can mean two different things. and is not consistent with..
can only be understood as an encounter with the Lacanian real par excellence. Derridean and Lacanian theories seem to some academics as totally incompatible bodies of thought. identity construction is understood as a process of identification in the psychoanalytic sense of the term presupposing a “truly constitutive lack. yet unable.”46 This interimplication of Derrida and Lacan is exactly what seems to (a) Fall 2000 • 143 . and yet it never ceases to call for new symbolizations. Consequently. the traumatic real always disrupts all attempts at symbolization. black/white etc. then it is extremely difficult if not impossible to see why Sean Homer still attempts to reduce Laclau’s argument to a negotiation of subject positioning which neglects “the subject’s relationship with the real itself. is he loyal to Derrida or to Lacan? Needless to say. Dislocations are traumatic in the sense that they “threaten identities” and they are productive in the sense that they serve as “the foundation on which new identities are constituted. the condition of its possibility. Judith Butler for example cannot see how it is possible to articulate the Derridean idea of the “constitutive outside” with the Lacanian logic of lack.]” according to which “the second term is thus reduced to the function of accident [to a mere supplement].” 43 Similarly. the whole point of the deconstructive move is to show that the excluded pole is. Thus. This “suspicion” has created a lot of confusion. Both are unrepresentable. if that is to say. in fact. in Laclau’s work.” 45 Here. a “constitutive outside. In his work in the nineties Laclau tends to approach this split through Lacanian theory. to discern Laclau’s loyalty. so the operative question goes. what is also considered as an impossible task is to work simultaneously with both of them––which is clearly Laclau’s choice. as both the cause and the limit of social identity formation.” 44 If however Homer criticizes Laclau on the grounds that he remains attached to a supposedly non-Lacanian post-structuralist mode of argumentation.” Many scholars seem overly keen.breakthrough which not only deals with Lipowatz’s concerns but clearly signals a turn in Laclau’s work which brings him even closer to Lacanian theory. others make exactly the opposite argument. and this because dislocation. both are at the same time traumatic/disruptive and productive. Laclau has become too Lacanian for their taste. In the final instance. is also its condition of impossibility. this is usually played out as a zero-sum game. As I have tried to show. every identity is split since exclusion. If our account is accurate. It is clear that the emergence of this concept of real dislocation as the kernel of the political is one of the most important products of Laclau’s dialogue with psychoanalysis and one which directly links his argument on the impossibility of society with the irreducibility of the real in Lacanian discourse. he refers to the Derridean idea that “an identity’s constitution is always based on excluding something and establishing a violent hierarchy between the two resultant poles [man/woman. by replacing antagonism as the kernel of the political. It is true of course that Laclau’s conception of identity makes use of both these insights. dislocation qua encounter with the impossible real functions. especially among those who had already categorized Laclau as a “Derridean. in New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time. of any totalizing political discourse.” that the accident is essential/necessary for the constitution of the identity of any essence. as opposed to the essentiality of the first.
it is evident that the Derridean logic of the constitutive outside is understood as stressing the “outside” quality much more than the Lacanian logic of lack and of the objet petit a do. none the less. In fact. the prerequisite for its constitution at the same time)”.” 50 For Laclau. the limits Butler attributes to Lacanian and Derridean theory vis-à-vis their negotiation of the “inside” or the “outside” can be easily displaced with effects which seem disruptive for her either/or argument.”54 As we have seen.” an object present within the socio-symbolic field “through its absence. I can think of three ways to address Butler’s point. this impossibility is a real impossibility51 while the impossible object embodying the absent systematicity of the system is “Jacques Lacan’s objet petit a. and here the Lacanian influence becomes even more explicit. in its most radical sense.”49 In Laclau’s more recent texts the main focus is the. What would surprise Butler is that to do that Laclau turns to Lacanian theory. they are the following: 1. Now.48 Butler’s point raises an important issue regarding the blend of Derridean and Lacanian theory in Laclau’s work. from outside. Simply put. so to speak.” For Butler the problem is that while the supplement is “outside” of posited identity but inside the field of the social. The second problem then with Butler’s argument––which directly follows from the first––is her strict differentiation between the logic of the “inside” and the logic of the “outside” irrespective of which of the two poles is attributed to Lacan or to Derrida. here “denial does not originate from the ‘inside’ of identity itself but. linked to the Derridean logic of the supplement. 2. in poststructuralism the antagonistic limit of every identity is an external limit: “every identity encounters opposition in the form of other identities. “internal” conditions of possibility for the constitution of meaning and identity formations. The first one has to do with her representation of the difference between the Derridean and the Lacanian moment in connection to Laclau’s political theory. in Laclau’s work. although Zerilli does not totally discard the relevance of the (a) Fall 2000 • 144 . contrary to what Butler’s point implies. the Lacanian real (which is directly related to the logic of lack) “is permanently outside the social as such” and thus outside the scope of socio-political analysis.”52 In other words. is required by the systematicity of the system.47 then it is unclear what moves must be taken to make it compatible with the Lacanian logic of “lack. this seems to be a quite accurate mapping of the theoretical terrain on which Laclau’s argument operates.53 Zerilli argues that while in Lacanian theory the limits of identity are internal. nonetheless. other perspectives and opinions. It also raises more general issues such as the relation between the “inside” and the “outside” and the status of the real in contemporary theorization. it is this either/or mode of argumentation itself which has to be problematized now. precisely because the real limits of the symbolic are shown “internally”: “any system of signification is structured around an empty place resulting from the impossibility of producing an object which. The constitutive outside “is an ‘outside’ which blocks the identity of the ‘inside’(and is. This is also a central point in Linda Zerilli’s much more sophisticated negotiation of Laclau’s relation to Lacanian theory. as Laclau insists.confuse Butler: “If the “outside” is. Hence it deserves our immediate attention.
I suspect that we can now formulate a significant conclusion.” in all its different forms––some of them being more justified than others––is made possible by the foreclosure of the whole field of Lacanian theorization that focuses on the question of extimité (external intimacy). however. Of course there is no doubt that within the framework of this dialogue the relative gravity of Lacanian theory is gradually increasing but this fact cannot be interpreted according to a zero-sum logic. For the time being let us just observe that already from the early eighties Laclau and Mouffe seem aware of this paradoxical link between the internal and the external and thus it is not legitimate to reduce their position to the priority of the external limits. this dialogue has been productive both for Laclau’s work––which centers around the development of a contemporary post-foundational political theory of hegemony––and for research related to both the fields of Deconstruction and Lacanianism and there is no obvious reason why one should restrict the openness of this dialogue––at least there is none presented in Butler’s or Zerilli’s argument. For example in Hegemony they argue that although “strictly speaking. To this point we will return shortly.”58 In my third point I will try to show that the Lacanian real is the only thing that matches Laclau’s (and Mouffe’s) description. As I have tried to show. That’s why she seems puzzled with Laclau’s positive reception of i ek’s point regarding the priority of the internal limits. Before doing that. it is clear from her argumentation that she considers the external limits more important and certainly closer to Laclau’s schema. Far from simply playing this zero-sum game by conveniently occupying one of the two poles of the supposed antithesis. Lacanian theory attempts to subvert the whole opposition: the neologism extimité “expresses the way in which psychoanalysis problematizes the opposition between inside and outside.Lacanian “internal” limits. the only thing which albeit radically external has the force to disrupt the social internally.... What is generally ignored when Laclau’s link to Derridean and Lacanian theories is reduced to a zero-sum game is a third possibility: that Laclau is neither Derridean nor Lacanian but mostly Laclauian. the whole relation between the “inside” and the “outside” is (a) Fall 2000 • 145 . destroying its ambition to constitute a full presence.”56 The limits imposed by the real––a real which always remains outside the symbolic field––are shown internally.55 according to her interpretation Laclau’s argument clearly presupposes the priority of the external limits. After all. 3. are marking this symbolic from within. antagonisms are not internal but external to society. For example the real is just as much inside as outside. Laclau’s theoretical and political trajectory begins before the poststructuralist revolution and the dynamic emergence in the humanities of Lacanian discourse.” the “internal” and the “external.”57 “the limit of the social must be given within the social itself as something subverting it. What I want to suggest at this point is that this strict differentiation between the “inside” and the “outside. It is his peculiar theoretical and political adventure that leads Laclau to the elaboration of certain conclusions and to the articulation of specific questions which create the conditions for a meaningful dialogue with both Derridean and Lacanian theories––but also with other philosophical and theoretical traditions. Needless to say.
as a Cretan himself. it is necessary to address this point at the most basic level. because there’s no way to say it all..directly linked to the status one attributes to the Lacanian real. As Laclau has put it.” Psychoanalysis is based on the idea that the real is shown in certain effects persisting in discourse. it is possible to encircle its impossibility. Yet it’s through this very impossibility that the truth holds onto the real. Butler argues that “to claim that the real resists symbolization is still to symbolize the real as a kind of resistance. In both cases the paradox is irresolvable. Not the whole truth. arising at its intersection with the real. in the Lacanian sense––. through psychoanalysis. If Laclau’s argument is related to the Lacanian logic of the real then it is important to address this point and examine his response to it.”60 Beyond the imaginary ideal of absolute knowledge. but if the second claim is true. what these paradoxes point to is exactly the real lack in our symbolic media. We know.” If this statement is true then he is also a liar but if he is a liar then his statement cannot be true. a recognition of its structural causality as it is revealed in its relation to the world of symbolization. In fact. I suspect that we can do that by turning to another objection raised by Judith Butler in connection to the status of the real and our symbolic use of it in theoretical discourse. there is no direct way of signifying the limits of signification “the real.62 In this light. it is possible to encircle (even in a metaphorical way) the limits it poses to signification and representation. “Truth is nothing other than that which knowledge can apprehend as knowledge only by setting its ignorance to work. is shown within the level of symbolization itself.” 59 What Butler is in fact reiterating here is the well known paradox of Epimenides who. Butler’s point is founded on a misrepresentation of the relation between the symbolic and the real in Lacanian theory. if you want. this limit of symbolization. And although we can never symbolize the real in itself. the first is necessarily false. Saying it all is literally impossible: words fail. Although it is impossible to touch the real. In fact. the real limits of any process of symbolic signification and resolution. Hence Lacan’s position: “I always speak the truth. lack is marking the symbolic internally.except through the subversion of the process of signification itself. Here i ek’s formulation a propos of historical analysis is very important: “Lacan is as far as it is possible to be from any ‘tabooing’ (a) Fall 2000 • 146 .”61 In that sense. claimed that “All Cretans are liars. exactly because this impossibility is always emerging within a symbolization. Yet. how what is not directly representable––the unconscious––can only find as a means of representation the subversion of the signifying process.. In a nutshell she seems unable to see that while lack exists because the real is not reducible to the symbolic––exactly because it constitutes an exteriority––this does not mean that lack belongs to the unrepresentable real. if the question is “How do we know that the real resists symbolization in the first place?” the answer must be “Exactly because this resistance. The former claim (the real resists symbolization) can only be true if the latter claim (‘the real resists symbolization’ is a symbolization) is true.”63 But Butler’s point entails one more misunderstanding. Butler’s claim is rather misleading because the statement “the real resists symbolization” is not a symbolization of the real per se but a symbolic expression of the limits it poses. It seems to imply that Lacanian discourse elevates the real to the status of a Taboo.
Moreover. First of all.”69 The fear behind all these statements is common. with all its contingent and “negative” connotations leads to a relativism or a nihilism that endangers every democratic project. 65 The final chapter of Hegemony as well as a number of his papers.”64 In the face of the irreducibility of the real we have no other option but to symbolize. that it undermines their universal character and the possibility of any final reconciliation either at the subjective or at the social level. nor the importance of democracy. more properly. of the central impossibility (a) Fall 2000 • 147 . but such a symbolization can take at least two forms: (1) a fantasmatic one which will attempt to repress the real and to eliminate once and for all its structural causality. Her fear is that stressing the irreducibility and constitutivity of “antagonism” (or. Similar points have been made by Bellamy and Butler. it is true that for Laclau such a reconciliation is impossible. Laclau does not neglect the ethical element. he attempts to ground both on the recognition of the political. Laclau and Mouffe promote. this is by no means wishful thinking. no adequate ethics can be formulated without its acknowledgment. that Laclau neglects the ethical dimension. it is that the stress on the political and dislocation. “dislocation” qua encounter with the real) may “preclude the very possibility of a future rearticulation of that boundary which is central to the democratic project that i ek. Psychoanalysis favors the second and more complex one: (2) the articulation of symbolic constructs that will attempt to encircle the real limits of the symbolic. Now. that is to say. inclusive of its necessary failure. III We can move now to address Lipowatz’s second fear. it has to be stated that in no way is Laclau neglecting the moment of ethics.?”68 Butler’s concern is articulated at the social level. is that the only true ethical stance is to assume fully the impossible task of symbolizing the real. including “God Only Knows” 66 and “Universalism. rather. not even democracy. precludes the possibility of presenting a more or less stable (present or future) ground for ethics and democracy. Particularism and the Question of Identity. In that sense.”67 to name just a few.. Bellamy’s concern is articulated at the subjective level: “Can certain forms of political compromise (a collective ‘we’ that must be formed out of diversity and conflict) be usefully characterized as the overcoming of psychic conflict. from elevating it into an untouchable entity exempted from historical analysis––his point. Thus. political. is guaranteed in advance. for democratic discourse is one example of such a move to which I will devote the final part of this paper. But this is a pragmatic. recognition substantiated by our long-term historical experience.of the real. Lipowatz’s fear seems to be that by stressing the irreducibility and constitutivity of the political and the contingent Laclau demolishes every rational foundation for ethics and democracy thus endangering its future prospects. especially in the context of his radical democratic project. are especially concerned with these issues. It is not an ethical point per se.. and yet. rather. No ethical project. and that the primacy he attributes to the political. and also theoretical. the only way to make sense of Lipowatz’s point is to read it as a disagreement with the particular way that Laclau deals with these issues.
” The ethics of the real entails a recognition of the irreducibility of the real and an attempt to institutionalize social lack. But what are his reasons for doing so? For Lane. to the legitimization of the foreclosure of the real of society? I believe not. taken seriously. because it does not engender “social satisfaction”(108). the best way to symbolize the social might be one which recognizes the ultimate impossibility around which it is always structured. (a) Fall 2000 • 148 . as “the condition of accepting incompletion is for many quite intolerable”(115) it follows that “the benefits of using politics to expound this alienation seem. if not catastrophic. forces that resist political transformation (108). Laclau’s argumentation does not clarify “what is psychologically at stake in accepting society’s impossibility. because it goes against certain psychic and social forces that constitute our present status quo.. of the impossibility around which it is structured: Why “does the left continue to advance contingency and alienation as if both were not simply a psychic condition par excellence but also a reason for celebration? Why does the argument that society is radically incomplete and now alarmingly fraying generate a certain optimism[?]”(116) According to my reading Lane is questioning the value of recognizing the effects and the structural causality of the real in society. First of all this status quo is equally intolerable and unjust. But is this difficulty a reason sufficient enough to lead us to conformism. Thus it might be possible to achieve an institution of the social field beyond the fantasy of closure which has been proven so problematic. a premise which. thus masking the central impossibility of the social) but around real lack. may be intolerable for the most theoretically informed subject and surely traumatic for many political activists”(107).of the social. the pursuit of harmony and satisfaction around which it is structured cannot eliminate the encounters with the real which.70 This is an ethics articulated not around a certain conception of the Good (which in traditional ethical discourse is conceived as guaranteed in advance.71 Although he is mainly referring to Laclau’s work in the eighties some of his points still require a certain attention. First of all Lane doesn’t seem to be questioning the descriptive part of Laclau’s argument.strategically doubtful. Furthermore. This “celebration” by Laclau of society’s ultimate impossibility caught Chris Lane’s attention in the article published in the Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society that I mentioned earlier. His problem with Laclau’s argumentation is Laclau’s decision to value (in an ethical sense) and promote the recognition of the real of society. The ethical standpoint that underlies Laclau’s work seems to be very close to what i ek has called an “ethics of the real. to the identification with the “eternal” foundations of the present status quo.”(117) He also concedes that the demand for cohesion and social harmony is but an unrealistic fantasy.. In other words. Going against them “entails a psychic labor that is debilitating to––and perhaps incommensurate with––the present organization of society” (115). He too acknowledges that “alienation [and the impossibility of cohesion] may be subjectivity’s condition par excellence.”(117) In other words although Laclau’s description is true and the recognition of the impossibility of society is possible (even according to Lane it is not impossible for all of us but only for many of us) it should be abandoned because and only because it is difficult.
even if this ethical project goes against the socially acceptable phallic enjoyment (jouissance) entailed in filling the lack around which our world is structured...” on the other hand. beyond the pleasure principle. Historical transformation is possible and it is unfair to use Lacan in order to prove it impossible.. Lacan.produces. is exactly what makes democracy possible: “the recognition of the constitutive nature of this gap and its political institutionalization is the starting point of modern democracy.e.faced with such rigid fantasies. so to speak. and this is something that Lane doesn’t take into account. speaks of another jouissance––female or feminine jouissance––which values this lack per se as something that entails a different kind of enjoyment. far from being an “un-ethical” obstacle to achieving democracy.72 As Dylan Evans argues in a recent article published in Radical Philosophy.. “Lacan’s admonitions about the dangers of seeing the present in the past can equally serve to warn us of the difficulties involved in imagining the future. “the impossibility of mapping out the future according to some grand metahistorical narrative might lead.”76 It is this recognition that makes democracy ethically superior and differentiates it from other fantasmatic. although. and this is how “a society that is impossible. is approached through the irreducible gap between the need for a universal point of reference (i. and Laclau never said it would be. takes the form of violent eruptions (from this point of view Auschwitz and the Gulags are but results of this play between the real and the pursuit of Harmony.will. for a force which acts in the name of the whole community. the impossibility of the social. especially as he firmly opposed any idea of adaptation that he saw as reducing psychoanalysis to an instrument of social control. Here. recognizing in that force a source of final or even long term harmony. Besides... and Lane is mistaken when he argues that “we cannot assume that embracing radical democracy. Besides. and although it does not produce a satisfaction compatible with the present organization of desire it is nevertheless based on the psychoanalytic assumption that there can be an ethically satisfactory position to be achieved in encircling the real. not to political inaction. It may not be easy.. on the one hand.. provides society with a needed uniting guiding force without. towards the end of his teaching.. but to a series of intelligently fought tactical battles. 74 instead of attempting to bypass it in an imaginary/fantasmatic way (following the footsteps of the failed strategies of traditional ethical discourse).lessen political turmoil” (116) although this cannot be guaranteed in advance). potentially “totalitarian” political myths (the democratic institution of elections.” 73 Isn’t that exactly what Ernesto Laclau is also trying to do? Moving beyond the metahistorical catastrophic narrative of harmony towards an ethics of the recognition of the irreducibility of the real? Of course such an ethics is situated. that is to say. the lack as such.coherent political strategy or a collective (a) Fall 2000 • 149 . but the status quo has to be changed and can be changed. This whole ethical standpoint is evident in Laclau’s democratic project. the lack in the Other. however. for example.75 This gap. thus symbolically instituting society as a more or less coherent whole) and the particularism of all social forces. as a complete betrayal of psychoanalysis regarded as an essentially subversive practice. Lacan warns us against the tendency to eternalize present-day situations.
and cannot. It is here to help us change it. NOTES 1 I would like to thank Ernesto Laclau. this “superiority” does not. “logical in Lacanian terms”) “leads to the positing of an inevitable human condition which is the no-exit of lack and antagonism. Das Undarstellbare der Politik. 1998 under the title “Laclau mit Lacan: Zum Verhaltnis von Politischer Theorie und Psychoanalyse. Just as Derrida has argued that “incalculable justice requires us to calculate. 2 To give another example. we see it functioning around us. On the other hand democracy is not a political utopia. unjust. Strategy. and with good reasons. at least.”77 so too the ethics of a real democracy requires constant struggle and resolve. Juliet Flower MacCannell and an anonymous reader for their comments on earlier versions of this paper. In particular Jean-Joseph (a) Fall 2000 • 150 . and this is worth stressing. Elizabeth Jane Bellamy argues that. In fact Lane’s question should be addressed to Elliott. dangerous. To Elliott. London/New York: Routledge:1999. and unethical.” (LANE: 110).”79 precluding thus “any substantial concern with the creativity of the psyche” (ELLIOTT: 189). Anthony Elliott attacks Laclau for exactly the opposite reasons.will. Laclau’s position (while. This is an insight that marks discourse theory throughout and constitutes Laclau’s contribution to the exploration of the importance of Lacanian theory for contemporary political theory and to the global struggle for deepening democracy. Thanos Lipowatz. we can see arrangements that institutionalize social lack (in a lesser or greater extent) functioning around us and it is our ethical duty to help them hegemonize the social terrain. Elliott seems to attribute Laclau’s position to the acceptance of Lacan’s “reactionary position on psychic reality” (144) which also “obliterates the creativity of the psyche” (153). Isn’t this the wrong question to ask someone who. contrary to what is revealed in Lane’s 1996 argumentation. has concluded an article entitled “Beyond Emancipation” with the following words: “we can perhaps say that today we are at the end of emancipation and at the beginning of freedom”78 clearly locating his ethico-political project beyond any idea of a final harmonious reconciliation? Ironically. guarantee it’s future hegemony. there have been encouraging signs of an increasing willingness to renew the relevance of psychoanalysis for ideology critique. “In recent years. One of these earlier and much shorter versions appeared in Oliver Marchart. It is at this point that strategy comes into play.” Some of the material included in this paper comes from my new book Lacan and the Political. It is Elliott who doesn’t recognize that the fantasy of a creative imaginary (here Castoriadis’s influence is evident) enhancing ego-autonomy is psychoanalytically impossible. is not here to help us accept and legitimize a status quo that we consider.’ representing the free and harmonious coexistence of diverse individuals and groups. But. Oliver Marchart. is psychoanalytically impossible?” (110). Jason Glynos. He even asks: “to what extent are advocates of ‘radical democracy’ able or willing to entertain the profound argument that ‘emancipation. fantasmatic. What they both ignore is that the recognition of this impossibility can become the nodal point for a progressive radical democratic project. ed. four years earlier. Lane doesn’t seem to understand that this change which is entailed in Laclau’s radical democratic project has nothing to do with “the myth of a common culture” (112). Vienna: Turia & Kant.
op cit. ed. 3 We refer.1990:96 7 Laclau and Mouffe. and.. It is clear from our argumentation so far that Zerilli’s point is not taking into account the fact that the Lacanian subject is not a reductionist conception of subjectivity. op. Politics: On the (Im)possibility of a Psychoanalytic Theory of Ideology?” The Letter 7 (1998):20. London: Verso. New York: Norton. London: Tavistock/Routledge.” “Discourses of Impossibility: Can Psychoanalysis be Political?” in Diacritics 23:1 (1993):24 (my emphasis). of course. trans. 28 Ernesto Laclau. London: Verso. cit. that the real in Lacan is not a category limited to the subjective level.1998:81. we are aiming at clarifying the terms of a particular theoretical debate and not to articulate some kind of biographical apologia. “Beyond the Social Principle: Psychoanalysis and Radical Democracy.1978:26. 1994:3. Replies. eds. tr.1998:79. our approach is textual and not biographical and within this context the signifier “Laclau” refers to a chain of theoretical interventions.The Making of Political Identities. Rhetoric and Culture in Lacan. tr. 1955-6. 22 Jacques Lacan. Slavoj i ek. Book III. Albany: SUNYPress. op. Encore. 16 Jacques Lacan. In other words. London and New York: Verso. 1996:53. 4 Genealogical in the sense of tracing the turning points in Laclau’s theoretical trajectory. op. with notes Russell Grigg. On Feminine Sexuality. “Interview with Yannis Stavrakakis and Dimitris Zeginis” in Diavazo 324 (in Greek). cit. A. tr. cit. London: Routledge. Book XX. Zerilli’s point as I take it is that by stressing the Lacanian real one risks the danger of “psychological reductionism. Miller. with notes Bruce Fink. Pettigrew.:34-35 (my emphasis) 14 Jacques Lacan. 18 Jacques Lacan. Laclau. 19 Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy. Emancipation(s). especially after the publication of his deconstructive reading of the Marxist tradition undertaken in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. 1996:196. most important. op. op. cit. “Psychoanalysis. In that sense. ed. cit. Albany: SUNYPress.:112. 1989:122. Representation.:1990:90. Laclau and Mouffe: The Radical Democratic Imaginary.:34. The Sublime Object of Ideology. 11 Anna Marie Smith. op. “Sociology before Linguistics: Lacan’s Debt to Durkheim” in Pettigrew. “This Universalism which is not One” in Diacritics 28:2 :13). Athens: Erasmos [in Greek]. to one degree or another. 1993:58. 6 Ernesto Laclau. 8 Chris Lane. 12 Sean Homer. 1992:135. cit. although she provides a very intelligent account of Laclau’s negotiation of universality and recognizes that the Lacanian real is relevant to discourse theory she also points out that “the issues it raises concerning the status of the subject cannot be substituted for the issues raised by antagonistic social and political relations” (Linda Zerilli.:1993:58. 27 Laclau and Mouffe. op.Goux. 1998:13-14). F. The Title of the Letter.. co-authored with Chantal Mouffe London: Verso. Miller. ed. The Psychoses. 26 Laclau. D. The Limits of Love and Knowledge. op. turning points which mark his text throughout. to Ernesto Laclau’s work during the last fifteen years.:1985:88. 20 Ernesto Laclau. 21 Slavoj i ek. to contextualize psychoanalysis within the ideological. 23 Steven Michelman. 1996:129. 24 Lacan. Écrits. tr. New Reflections on the Revolution of our Time. The Seminar. with introduction F. Kalias. 1992:30. Sheridan.. P.” since this real concerns psychic reality and not the realm of the political (Zerilli. 1972––3.:1998:28.” Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society I:1 (1996). cit. 1985. 5 Bellamy.. The Seminar. cit. and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe all deserve credit for attempting. London: Verso. “Introduction” in E.:105-106) 10 Laclau. 15 Gilbert Chaitin. 13 Bellamy. (a) Fall 2000 • 151 . 9 Lane. 25 According to Linda Zerilli.1977:126. Laclau doesn’t really seem to fit here. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. J-A. 17 Laclau. Disseminating Lacan. London: Routledge. Raffoul and D. J-A. and Raffoul.
1994:3.cit. see G. op.cit. 48 Judith Butler.The (a) Fall 2000 • 152 . cit. 1996a:58.. 61 Jacques Lacan. cit. ed. cit. 42 Laclau.:1990:35. Ein Beitrag zur politischen Psychologie. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. within our psychoanalytic framework the term “imaginary” used this way usually entails a very critical connotation. 5. 46 Laclau. “Introduction” in Laclau Ernesto. He is however one of the first to link Lacanian theory to political theory and political analysis already from the early eighties. 34 Laclau. 31 Thanos Lipowatz. 1986. and Politik der Psyche.: 1998:14. Marchart op cit. (AGreek version of this paper is forthcoming in the journal Axiologika.: 1998:21. cit..:1990:35 . Bodies That Matter.: 1985:127 (my emphasis). op. cit.cit. cit. Marburg: Guttandin und Hoppe.cit. The Return of the Political. Lacans Begriff des Diskurses. “Beyond Discourse Analysis” in E. op. Diskurs und Macht.: 1990:32. 36 Chantal Mouffe. for example. cit. 49 Laclau.1993:194. Écrits.op. M. “Book review for E. Die Verleugnung des Politischen.: 1990:17. The Making of Political Identities. Disorder always disrupts a field of partial fixation and order and is never itself absolute. New York: Routledge. op.:1990:100 40 In this regard. 45 Laclau. 58 Laclau and Mouffe.: 1998:12.: 1990:253. op.) 32 Lipowatz is almost unknown in the Anglo-Saxon academic arena. Weinheim: Quadriga. tr. Cambridge: Polity. October 40 (1987):7. 56 Dylan Evans.cit. 50 Laclau. Reality cannot master the real and thus is always limited. Laclau’s New Reflections on the Revolution of our Time” in Synchrona Themata 49 (in Greek). 53 Zerilli.cit. oder eine (post) Moderne Form der Politischen Mystic” in O.: 1996:53. cit.Daly “The Discursive Construction of Economic Space: Logics of Organization and Disorganization” in Economy and Society 20:1 (1991)..:1977:296. op. London: Verso. Vienna: Thuria und Kant. Ritter. cit. 1997:98. op. op. Lacan. Television. 33 Needless to say. 1998. op.:1993:58 43 Laclau. 38 None of these poles exists as a self-contained or autonomous entity. “Das Reine Politische. op. 55 Zerilli. a new structuration of the social. London: Verso. See. 47 Laclau. 57 Laclau and Mouffe. n. op. but this ontic dimension does not change the ontological causality of the real which does not stop inscribing itself through the failure of symbolization. 1982. op. cit. Hollier.: 1998. op. J.: 1990:39 44 Homer. 30 Thanos Lipowatz. The Reinvention of Politics. 60 Jacques Lacan. the real cannot eliminate reality: its presence can only be felt within reality when this reality is disrupted and the desire for a new symbolization is starting to emerge. 51 Laclau.: 1985:125. trans. 1993:3. 39 Laclau. op.:1996:44.: 1990:84.: 1993:207. 54 Zerilli. 62 These limits are transposed all the time as symbolizations replace one another. 1993.cit. London: Routledge. Krauss and A. 59 Butler. Laclau op. op. 35 Ulrich Beck. op. 37 Laclau.: 1996:40. 1998. on the other hand. op. however. it always leads to a new order. Die Ethik des Symbolischen bei J.cit. op.29 Laclau. D. op. R.cit. cit. 41 i ek. cit.: 1996:40) 52 Laclau. Michelson.
By grounding psychic structure in historical processes. Already in 1946. op.” Lacan suggests that “the Oedipus complex did not appear with the origin of man (insofar as it is not meaningless to attempt to write the history of this origin). psychoanalytic or otherwise can claim an eternal ahistorical validity” (Evans. 1998:75). Cambridge. Laclau “tends to embrace an increasingly formal conception of hegemony. The ‘Mystical Foundation of Authority. in his article “Propos sur la Causalité Psychique.:1993:35. he introduces a novel conception of historicity directly relevant for political analysis (Joan Copjec. 1992:191. 75 Laclau.. 67 Ernesto Laclau. “Beyond Emancipation” in Development and Change. 1996:37) Simply put. 23:3 (1992):137 (my emphasis). 65In this respect.. Oxford: Blackwell.T. at least not for Lacanian theory. of the universality of the Oedipus complex? On the contrary. Her main point is that by turning to Lacanian theory. Press. Enjoy your Symptom. as Joan Copjec and Slavoj i ek have shown. op. Lacan makes it clear that no account of subjectivity. Amherst: The Univ. cit.. 1994:199-200.:1996. It seems that this whole criticism is founded on an outdated critique of Lacanian theory. by revealing the fact that it cannot be domesticated. As Dylan Evans has shown.:1993:206-207. 63 Laclau. Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists. op. “a close reading of Lacan’s texts shows that these and other features of the psyche are presented by Lacan as phenomena that arise at specific moments in history. 79 Anthony Elliott. 1990:176. New York: Routledge. 68 Bellamy. 76 Laclau. 1998:177). op. “historical” history. 64 Slavoj i ek. At first this critique seems plausible: Isn’t psychoanalysis always implying a negation of history.:1991:59.” (Lacan in Evans. of Massachusetts Press. 72 Evans.” (Smith. 74 Jonathan Scott Lee. 1992). op. at the limit of “ethnographic” cultures. (a) Fall 2000 • 153 .: M.cit. (1990):971. that is to say by remaining always outside the field of symbolic and fantasmatic representation and thus being capable of dislocating them by showing their internal lack. op. for example. “Universalism. (In German: “Die Doppeldeutigkeit der Demokratie und die Ethik der Psychoanalyse” in RISS 29/30 [February] 1995). The Metastases of Enjoyment. 77 Jacques Derrida. 1997:142). one could argue that it is not really Lacan who neglects historicity but Smith’s critique of Laclau which neglects the insights of Lacanian theory vis a vis historicity. (Zerilli. with its acceptance. this is the argument reiterated by Smith and forming the foundation of her critique of Laclau’s recent work. Ma.: 1996:39).. In that sense. “God only knows” in Marxism Today (December) 1991.causality of the real inscribes itself within symbolization by not ceasing not being written. 78 Ernesto Laclau. Under this light AnnaMarie Smith’s criticism of Laclau’s recent work is deprived of all its premises.. we also beg to differ from Linda Zerilli’s view that the question of ethics is “foreign” to Laclau and Mouffe’s political theory..I. Lacanian theory is thus declared unable to provide a plausible understanding of history.[a] tendency [which] is problematic because it suppresses a historically specific analysis of the success and failure of rival political discourses.cit. 1998:14) 66 Ernesto Laclau. Particularism and the Question of Identity” in October 61 (1992).:1994:8. op.cit. 71 Lane.. Furthermore. 1988:50-51). In that sense Lacanian theory opens itself to the element of historicity.: 1996:38.cit. surprisingly enough. cit. Lacan is open to historical analysis. “Ambiguous Democracy and the Ethics of Psychoanalysis” in Philosophy and Social Criticism 23:2 1997. It can clearly only appear in the patriarchal form of the family institution. a critique which. 69 Butler. but alongside history. 73 Evans. “Historicism and Lacanian Theory” in Radical Philosophy 79 (1996):4. 70 Stavrakakis.1994. Jacques Lacan. which according to Smith does not permit any consideration of historical specificity and variability (Smith. is also shared by Stuart Hall when he states for instance that “the transhistorical speculative generalities of Lacanianism” deny its usefulness in the analysis of historically specific phenomena (Hall.cit.’” in Cardozo Law Review 11:5-6. London: Verso. Social Theory and Psychoanalysis in Transition.. i ek. “Force of Law.
Sex.. These very sophisticated and exciting and compelling death theories found quite a receptive audience with a generation of graduate students.D... substituted a certain flavor of post modern theory or Post–modern Ce–real for their parents’conception of “a regular job. during a hyper–extended period of adolescence in a nother–nother––no Other of the Other––never–never–Disney no–man’s land between university studies and Universal Studios. at UC Irvine. Apparently. Do we want a Ph.. And giving up the Rockefeller–like dreams that had inspired their parents and grandparents’ generation. when we were force fed a menu de dégustation that included such delicacies as “the madness in civilization” “the malaise in civilization” “the rhetoric of cannibalism” “Oh my friend.kind of tired. plagued with Oedipal guilt for being the neurotic children of immigrant parents and grandparents who had believed in the American dream and in the capitalist myth of the good of goods. drugs and rock and roll were passé. between Post–Modern and Post–Toasties. a long time ago. there is no friend” “my neighbor who is not my friend” “the death of the subject” “the death of the thing” “being for death” “thrown into being for death” “thrown into being for being for death” and “the sublime beauty of Antigone between two deaths”–– .we were. who had been nursed on the old Yeoman farmer dictum that “the rich are good and the good are rich” rebelled.? an MS? an MRS? What did we want? What are we doing here? The attrition rate among women in the program was up to 85%. no money to earn. who. and no one to rebel against.” The death drive became valorized as the drive of rebellion. New York Performed at the April 2000 symposium on California and the Drives in San Francisco Prologue nce upon a time. since sex and love had already been made free. perversion and the death drive O (a) Fall 2000 • 154 . Perversion and the death drive were in.What Does a Woman Want to Date? Manya Steinkoler Yeshiva University and Fashion Institute of Technology. and having no war to fight. This left the graduate students of the other sex. stranded and confused. between University Studies and what ever comes after University Studies.
trauma. I was an attendee at the seminar over the years and am a senior member. for the very first time in public. Perhaps it was my fate. at the place between word and thing. Those of us who got by studied Lacan.” “Your body belongs to you” was the paranoid. we thought to ourselves––eating frozen yogurt on the way1 to “better shoes”––we didn’t have a meta–language or a subjectivity to lose or to die. the kitchen seminars are inspired by Freud’s lack. outside of the happy hysteric comfort–food atmosphere of Alice’s kitchen in Sunny Southern California. I have carefully footnoted the difficult passages and neologisms. undecidability.’rapping’ as we strolled through the mall at Fashion Island eating frozen yogurt and window shopping. lets say we were confused and skeptical. and have researched the more difficult theoretical points in extensive footnotes (which Daniel MacCannell has graciously offered to read for us today). and “being unto death” on the other. He might be happy and even relieved (since he was very (a) Fall 2000 • 155 . I might also add that in addition to this I have actually invented Alice’s entire seminar myself inspired by the mutual amour fou and myriad of identifications and other silliness between me and my best friend Alice. at the place where metaphor both sticks and falls apart. that is to say. we were tired of death death death. and repetition––and not only in the text.” we sang. an excerpt from what has become quite famous in its underground circulation. At the gym they told us we should build our bodies for ourselves and not “for men. What about love? What about life? What about lipstick? “The boys do DeMan and the girls do Lacan. since I am not a native Californian but a wandering New York Jew that I would do the painful lengthy textual and long–winded work of transcribing Alice’s Kitchen Seminar for publication. on the one hand. we could use psychoanalytic theory to explain why metaphor and death–drive obeisance never really worked very well with us in the first place. most heavily chanted by those aerobic proponents of cosmetic surgery. “On the Way to Language. because we never had them in the first place! And if that was not the last straw. Alice’s Kitchen Seminar. Besides. At least this way when women graduate students were throwing themselves in the Pacific Ocean and ending up in the hospital. At least.” didn’t seem a cause worth fighting for. In the land of personal trainers. At least this way. As you well know. At Student Health we were told that our “being unto death” and “malaise” was chemical and could be effectively treated with Prozac. Things were getting serious. Freud didn’t know what women wanted. but underneath our sheets as well. It was in this historico–cultural context. we could think about impossibility. rupture. macrobiotic spas. In addition.1 Note the Heideggerian reference. obviously taking the “throwness into death” business literally. we saw that the category of hysteria was officially removed from the DSMIII.muscle-maven-mantra. or in an ill–fated hysterical identification with Virginia Woolf. I am pleased to present today. life–time plastic surgery memberships and all day aerobics. that Alice’s Kitchen Seminar emerged.
Why? Because of the anxiety of an imagined encounter that we know but choose to forget will fail. cannot be separated from the “Guy” she dates at any given moment (a) Fall 2000 • 156 .” In American English. and Greek women in general. Physis “Moi. Because during the productivity period. For Hesiod. “to go on a date” generally means the appointment with the member of the opposite sex has a sexual interest or aim. But we sure do like talking about it a lot. Physics. Our subject of the date with the guy is another way of thinking about the question of the woman and can thus be written as: Guy–necology4 We shall show that the question and elaboration of the “Gyn” that is. 4 See Hesiod’s Theogony. gynos or genos depending on the pretentiousness of the translation and pronunciation. Thus. as distinct from the coronation of Poppea. as well as the “Gynous. For the sake of time. the race of women is called gynaicon.” For the purposes of the seminar. the trope of melancholia. in the interim.” that is to say the woman in Greek. 3 This is called prosopopeia. we agree to forget that we will be disappointed. “What does woman want to know?” After some consideration.2 It is important for our foreign readers to distinguish the popular American usage from the other meanings of date such as “the oblong edible fruit of a palm. I will only be able to read very small excerpts from the seminar. which is an opera by Monteverdi. I have decided to read excerpts of Seminar III. while we have forgotten. We have shown in earlier seminars––I resume for those of you who join us today for the first time––a date with a desired man sends us flying into fantasy productivity. Alice’s Kitchen Seminar: Seminar III “What does woman want to date?”2 Guy–necology The lack in the Date Physique. of the female reproductive organ. date means “an appointment between two persons of the opposite sex. “What does woman want to date?” since this conference is about California and the Drives and there are a lot of guys with cars in that seminar. competitive) to know that we don’t know either. we have to work as hard as we can to get as much work done for the fantasy as possible. Alice je parle”3 Why do we eat and shop? Because something is lacking in the date. The first seminar is entitled “What does Woman want––to eat?” the second “What does woman want to buy?” The third “What does woman want to date?” and the last.
solicit. the same thing at the same time. kind of want sometimes. it is prudent to interrogate the status of the signifier “want” in “What does woman want?” that continues to produce the series of the kitchen seminars themselves as a response to a very particular kind of wanting. crave.5 See Schopenhauer and then see all of 19th century German philosophy. when hell warms over. wilkommen. or even a made–for–TV movie. vorstellung. well. require.”5 We all know and I have continued to show in my teaching that a woman may want and not want as passionately as ever. In this sense. feel in the mood. There is nevertheless a distinction to be made between “date” and “mate. We already see the foreshadowing of what will be an extended consideration of the drives and their metaphorization into the car throughout the seminar. It is a subset of pretending in general and thus related to femininity. Thus at the level of the signifier. appeal. urge. request. enjoin. no matter how deeply embroiled she might find herself in a love–death drama with the biker dude that she brought home last Saturday night. wollen. she always knows the difference between the guy and the fantasy she has slimed him with even if she pretends not to. That is why “wanting to date” or preparing for the date is safer than the encounter with the date itself. zeal. Here the play on words suggest the wohl and the wagen. pretending not to know is part of the fun. eeew. Neither are lies. go away. There is nothing more wonderful than when we’re in full–on wantingness. reject. the pleasure in driving. alright. 6 Alice’s use of volkswagen cannot be separated from the homophonic wohl/s/wagen to which she undoubtedly refers. No woman would not distinguish between the two. gross. No. loathe. desiderate. seek. pant. plea. And you keep going out on this date (a) Fall 2000 • 157 .6 And we mustn’t forget––desire. never. ok. not if you were the last man on earth. In addition to the guy and the date. Because even if she is producing a Homeric epic. search. that is the possibility of “daring to desire.” Mating and dating have no necessary relation. entreat. Even wanting wantingness can be marvelous as all our club members will attest to. Our seminar today will take us all the way from “wanting to fuck him with the spirit of Leo” to “kind of in the mood” to “well. demand.” What can we say at this date of “wanting to date?” We know that the date puts “the real of the fantasm” into play. both are true. All of these words mean want…to date. hope for.” The Volkswagen advertising campaign advertised Fahrvernugnen. Those of you who attended the other seminars know that “want” is the English of the German “will. aspire. Moreover. long for. wunschen.” to “not now I have a headache” to “you’ve got to be kidding” and the simple and elegant “yuk. and volkswagen. hunger. anticipate. “want” cannot be taken out of the larger semantic field of the following words: Want––will. hate. women have been in wantingness. not now I have a headache. we could say that there has only ever been one date. To date. yuk. fancy. beg.
” We just want it noted that encore. pharisee.e. phallus. 11 Alice refers here to the Freudian notion of Urverdrängung or Primal Repression. Kierkegaard is also a good word to put in your mouth. She is showing that over and over again like something out of a Twilight Zone episode. “Shell” and thus to the economics and motor of the drives in general. Lacan tells us that “encore is the proper name of the lack (faille) in the other from which the demand for love stems. we are an unconscious. Passionate love no longer concerns the world but “him” as the answer to what you want. to the nutcase. philosophy and philtre. the madwoman. phantom. Philomela. A well known story of virginity loss from one of our members is illustrative of the split of the hysteric subject. Recall here that for Kierkegaard.” The question for us––are we Régine? Kierkegaard? Or the beloved wife of repetition? Or married to the beloved wife of repetition? In any event. Physique and Physis. the date comes in many flavors and colors and sizes. to the kernel of the trauma.7 This is what Freud called the Wiederholungswang.10 We don’t have an unconscious.8 The fantasm lets you have–– Passion: Passionate love is something to do when you are not writing your dissertation. Wiederholungswang is called repetition “the beloved wife of whom one never tires. And thus finally to the gas station. What does Woman want to buy? for a detailed discussion). to the question of femininity as a casing or covering or shell.9 Nachträglichkeit. but we simply must take off our hieroglyphic bonnets to father Freud and say that Freud should be commended for having invented a phantastic word that one can say over and over again and never tire of saying it. And that is philosophy and epistemology in a nutshell. not to mention photosynthesis. i. 10 Note that Nachträglichkeit. Try it––Wiederholungswang-wiederholungswangwiederholungswang–who needs a man when you can walk around saying this word all day? It feels so good in your mouth. to Dora’s jewel case. “enough already!” 8 The Nutshell is an over-determined reference in Alice’s discourse and as such it is a signifier of the hermeneutic enterprise in general. The vestimentary drive is the drive that Freud didn’t know about because he didn’t know what women wanted. pharmakon. The Hysteric Subject: Split between Physics. That is the difference between life in the world. It refers to the kernel of the real. as a form of tragen is related to what we saw in Seminar II as the vestimentary drive.7 Nevertheless. 9 The “ph” is used by Alice to suggest its relation to the set of all words beginning with these letters including. pharaoh. Passionate love is the way you defend against not knowing that somewhere you don’t want him. You date the principle violinist of the youth orchestra who has a full (a) Fall 2000 • 158 . Not only is it related to the volkswagen and nolens volens. the nut. and the one date that you go on repeatedly in that life. or the compulsion to repeat. (see Seminar II. repetition-the-beloved-wife and wiederholungswang are not unrelated to the Jewish whine.
3 children and a respectable position in Boston society. you have chosen well. as such. a hysteric revolution. As such. And every woman has sex in a different way depending on the man she is with.” 14 A Studebaker is a make of American car in the 50s and 60s. Indeed. The physicist could never occlude her subjectivity even though he could offer her a home. Aletheia and other Greek words. The hirsute physique. it was definitely something with an “ooo. about truth and representation. This is the extended meaning of Guy–nocology. however. it is the hysteric subject who displays this over and over again. She is split between physics and physique. That being said. The Swedish body builder is a polar gorilla. You lose your virginity with the gorilla that afternoon. The hysteric subject is split between the theoretical physicist and the gorilla. He plays his violin outside your window each day for two months in the hope that by the end of the summer. could occlude her subjectivity and send her off into the jungle. What is important in Alice’s theorization scholarship in theoretical physics to Harvard and has won this year’s Westinghouse. the Primate repression is an Ur repression and thus the repression of Ur himself. (It may have been Ulf or Ut. “Every hysteric symptom is a realized fantasy” and in Alice’s gloss. on the other hand. you have sex one way.11 Here we see the absolute cultural and dramatic incongruity between Its a Wonderful Life and The last Tango of the Iguana. He may also be called Anders and you really want to look at his Andere Schauplatz but usually he has taken steroids and it isn’t much to look at. Lacan said. Because sex with the master is in Greek. you will finally agree to lose your virginity with him. is sex with the master.Which would you choose? Physis.” Perhaps it was Knut. The big bang with the primate/physique is at the level of the Real. The physicist is the one who thinks about the big bang theoretically…. A “worldly” choice. 12 A popular Greek sandwich.” II. One day you meet a gorilla on a motorcycle. that is why it is a Greek word. we shall begin next time with what will be an extended discussion of “some character types met with in the amorous adventures of the hysteric subject.Primal Repression is never far away from Primate Repression. Of course. the Swedish body builder. It is by way of such words in Greek that we begin to wonder about origins. “Every fantasy is a realized hysteric. representation. femininity. it is related to Gyn and Gynous as well as gyros 12 and grape leaves and thus the painted grapes of Zeuxis. The point here is that with whatever man you have sex with––whether he occludes your subjectivity or not––with each man. 2. 13 Here we see the Alician reversal of the Lacanian dictum. The woman makes love differently insofar as she makes love with different men. Every man has sex one way. Some character types met with in the amorous adventures of the hysteric subject:13 Prinzip Charming or the Handsome Prinzip The Subject Supposed to No aka (a) Fall 2000 • 159 .
e. we will only visit the Back Seat of the Studebaker Guy. He is the type of guy that highway truck depot waitresses know to stay away from. You lean against both of them. he is the one who has no subjectivity supposed to him to date.” You. For a full discussion.” 16 You are supposed to “No” him. run to him in ecstasy like a gazelle let loose on the Serengeti plain. see Alice’s Kitchen Seminar. no one in any social position is supposed to date him. For Lacan. after all. As soon as he walks into the bar. As such.is the “stud” in Studebaker. it is important to distinguish him from your best friend’s husband and your high school music teacher. of course. there is no space for a discussion of all of these typuses in the current context. Millie calls the manager and says. we have Big Harley Guy. He’s America’s Most Wanted. The back seat of the Studebaker guy is the guy who you know from before the beginning.” i. is a categorical Freudian reference: he has the Ahnlengungstypus. He is right out of made–for–TV (a) Fall 2000 • 160 . from the very first nip of the tiniest glance––even from a dorsal view––at the other end of the football field––you are not supposed to date . Wrong. A stud is a male horse used for breeding and a virile and promiscuous male. Ver-nei-nung. the Master and the Petit Maître today). 16 Like a big fat “no” not a “kinda sorta no.” This is not a guy you slap like Dora – this is the Verneinung guy – he is at the level of absolute negation. Lacan tells us that Don Giovanni is a feminine fantasy. A ‘“No” is glaringly attached to him from the very beginning. he is an Hors father. You might think that this guy is out of “Hysteric fantasies 101” 17–– the raping and killing father or any regularly encountered sex–with–your–father business in hysteria. It is not because of his social or symbolic position that you are not supposed to date him.18 Not even a nasty Ur father. you are supposed to “No” him as soon as you see him. 15 Regretfully. forthcoming. from you upper middle class bourgeois over–educated family. Further.” He is the guy to whom you are supposed to say “No. the fact that Don Giovanni has the women in a series is what is The Back–Seat–of–the–Studebaker14–Guy: Men on the way to the Man The Master The petit master. 17 It is useful here to compare the post-modern BSSG from say Don Giovanni. le petit maître Car Mechanics The Big Fat Harley Guy The Peruvian Guitarist The 10x World Latin Dance Champion15 (For the sake of brevity. It is the turn of another century and the back–seat–of–the–Studebaker–guy is from another world. The Back Seat of the Studebaker guy is also known as the “subject supposed to No. “We got trouble. with your arms and legs wide open. Seminar III. The typus. however. the BSSG is “the subject not supposed to date.
the are–you–sure–it’s–not–stolen pick–up–truck guy. To actually date the BSSG is to be on your one date––the one that returns––permanently. today you can do whatever you want. You have no more desire. That is to say. In New York. The ride is designed to put the whole world as we know it into question. it is a symbol of the not–home. Lacan contrasts their being in a series with maternal Jouissance where a series is impossible and you are swallowed up in hell.e. This is America! The land of opportunity! Go for it! Just do it! When you actually date the Studebaker guy however. movies or a dilapidated gas station on a dirt road in the American Southwest. He is also an Ud.so exciting to them––it is the negation of the famous desire for “exceptionality” of the hysteric. even washing the dishes–– are no longer important. (a) Fall 2000 • 161 . Most of us fantasize about the BSSG but don’t actually date him. even your mother starts to look good. The BSSG demonstrates that the Drive exceeds the Symbolic (which you know). Here. But he goes a step further to demonstrate to you that the Symbolic is useless (to which you are supposed to say “No”). 19 Alice uses the French savoir as a homophonic reference with Ça Voir.” The signifier of the car is important because the Studebaker guy is the guy who takes you both on a ride and for a ride. renewal of your driver’s license. Moreover. 18 Clearly Alice is making a reference to the soap opera by that name. even if you go somewhere. The BSSG is subject to metonymy in terms of the make and year of car he drives. He is the best example of the discordance between what psychoanalysis calls affect and Savoir. Here. Thus. Yet the post–modern world is the Real world. Again. What is deliberately omitted is the “No” that you know. 20 The Unheimlich. He is a walking Id and your Id sees him. you know that he is a bad guy and you like it and you like to pretend to repress that you know it so that you can sustain liking it. however. Even if you never go anywhere and you spend a month parked in a Venice Beach parking lot in the back seat. the Id that sees––in the objective and genitive senses with regard to the BSSG. The back seat.20 the no–place–to–go and the “No. but after you’ve spent a summer in a parking lot in Torrance in a beat up Studebaker on hot torn vinyl seats. Today you can date the BSSG. i. all measurement itself––bills. He can be the Convertible guy or. you won’t have gone anywhere––which is the whole point. you are nevertheless “on a ride” and you will pay for it. Fantasies are for neurotics of the last century. all dates are rendered meaningless. in more serious cases. he could have served an important fantasy function for us. all other men. you don’t need to look forward to any more dates. conscious repression produces affect because you are bored and you don’t have anything better to do. you are not supposed to actually date him. all time. is not subject to polysemy or metonymy except at his own whim. in another world. Rather.) Now the BSSG you might think is just like Don Giovanni. (Known as the crocodile’s mouth in Lacan’s work. you are just supposed to talk about wanting to date him.19 But in the traditional affect/savoir distinction something is unconsciously repressed on the order of savoir that produces the affect. known as shabbus lunch at Tante Rivka’s when you’re still not married.
this non–relation of the car to the chopped off head does not necessitate a pervert in the driver’s seat or a publication of Georges Bataille. Thus the entire hysteric-pervert scenario can be deduced at the level of the signifier décapotable. The convertible can mark a specifically feminine relation to the Big Other––what Lacan calls the jouissance of the mystic. and bliss.” i.21 it is a headless car. the convertible is not the same experience as when you drive on Pacific Coast Highway alone with the mist. There is a genuine “yes” in the convertible. Rather for her. When a BSSG is in the driver’s seat. that is “headless” and assez phalle (super-phallic). his assez phalle car+you taking off your clothes––in American English only further underlines this point. the relation of feminine Jouissance to the automobile.” There is also the reference to the Hebrew cipa. Thus in France the car can be both acéphale and assez phalle. By way of difference between the “i” and “o” it is from the verb décapitable from décapiter. of something that drives itself. wind. The hood takes us to the question of the veil and of femininity and explains why Thelma and Louise drove a T-bird Convertible in the movie by the same name. The BSSG is the guy you date before you do your work. the décapotable is “unsafe sex. He is the “I am your thing and you are my thing and you know it and I know it get in the car. i.. sky. the convertible. “automobile. The convertible is a cipa––even it is bald.” You can live in a car with him and dine on Cheerios at convenience stores on the rest of your savings and never talk for the rest of your life.e. The noun is capote means hood as well as condom. i. as the capote is the car’s condom. the headlessness of the convertible can allow for a kind of Other Jouissance. While the drive in the convertible with the BSSG is acéphale. Bliss and joy become anxiety. The fact that breasts are often called headlights––that is. This is when you drive on Pacific Coast Highway in the morning mist with the top down.e. however. the thrill of the convertible is nevertheless maintained here since. or close a hood. He is both before and outside of the work of writing your thesis or your novel or even brushing your teeth. There is a relation here that one can see between hysteria and perversion. You and that sky are married forever in exhilarating bliss. As hors father. Convertible in French is décapotable.” in general. for the hysteric the same drive is topless. joy. He is a kind of piece of the real that produces the work that will come after him. of the “drive. This is not only a question of the signifier. As S1 to (a) Fall 2000 • 162 . you don’t have a “date with the master” you have a date with death. (Thus. The headless car further shows the hysteric position of establishing the father and cutting his head off at the same time. an easy access to God.21 Convertible in French is décapotable from the verb capoter which means to put a hood on. Please note as well the relation of “under the hood” to the car mechanic. the head covering that a man wears to show his reverence to God.” This brings us to a question that it would not be inappropriate to touch upon in passing. The Master First of all..e.) For a woman. a car that has been guillotined. That is why he is the “subject supposed to No. Take for example. the BSSG is also hors d’oeuvre. Thus. its natural affinity with a BSSG.
” the master is already there at Knowledge Infinity. what kind of normal guy wants (a) Fall 2000 • 163 .” we can say that your “date with death” is also a date with debt. No normal Joe with a decent job who wins at Jeopardy will ever do it for you ever again. You have seen light and truth. But whose fantasy? Where does the fantasy come from? Who started it? Are you sure its your fantasy? Or is it his fantasy? Or your mother’s? Or the university ombudsman’s or the United States of America’s? Where did it come from––you want to know––and how did you get stuck with it? In yet a further gloss on the over–determined “date with the master. only someone really brilliant can be a Super Ego. not to mention the Ph.22 It’s so intensely sexy! After all. even brain surgeons and successful Hollywood screen writers are out. Worse than US Government federally assisted student loans. Moreover. for not marrying the man your mother wanted. lets face it. the debt becomes transferred to the person of the master and ceases to be your own.D. knocker. You are in awe of him and his KNowledge with a big KN. He is the Super Ego Freud said you don’t have. The debt to him can never be paid. even your death can’t absolve you of your debt/faute to the master. that is the psychic condition of the subject. masturbation. knepel. boys are just boring. its over. The master makes us stop dead in our tracks because the psychic function we never really believed in is right there in front of us walking around in the flesh. But in the master/hysteric scenario. Oh most holy One of librariness and libraryosity! You are now finally on the path to Knowledge–Infinity and He is there at Knowledge–Infinity waiting for you. or even for giving up on your desire. With the master your debt is metamorphosed into a faute and always feel guilty. The master comes not as “any old date” (although he is always old) but as “the answer” to “your question” in the fantasy. hasta la vista. “coming to Infinity. rather than guilt for original sin. Really. knadlech. having met up with your fate/death. And this is no small pittance. for being late on paying your income tax. Because justement as the Super Ego he has direct no–nonsense knowledge about your Id since Freud tells us he was formed out of the very same material. In this regard. Because once you are on the road to Knowledge––Infinity.22 Pronounced as it is spelled. “I’m coming! Wait up! I’m coming to Infinity!”23 This is why the master participates in a certain hysteric fantasy of having no dates. you are now guilty with regard to him. Moreover. Knowledge–Infinity renders you undateable.” that is. He takes up a position up there at Infinity and hangs out there. We all have debts. student in the humanities and social sciences. The literature tells us over and over again that we ladies fancy the master because our Super Egos are “underdeveloped. 23 Note here that while you are always “on the way. you must spend your life in the library as KNowledge’s love slave. the hysteric’s relation to the master is a lifetime subscription to a Giant External Super Ego.” And they are underdeveloped––especially because we never really believed in the Super Ego to begin with. “KN” or “Knuh” as in the Yiddish knish. After having your $ you have a date with your structurally determined fate. kaput. It’s Nobel or nothing! And now.
I’m off to the office.” and pecks you perfunctorily on the cheek. for your fantasy to work. 24 Considering his mission and his position. Roll camera! You get to have the whole “before battle” scene every time he leaves. The religious figures critique the politicians and the psychoanalysts critique the religious figures and the philosophers critique the psychoanalysts and sometimes even big business men think thinking is bunk and money runs the world. by the book). however. honey. Kamikaze. Farewell my brilliant brave hero! Addio mio speranza! Adieu! The more masters you have been with. Politicians. Where else can you do that in this day and age? Really! The master keeps epic drama going in the era of the TV sitcom. you can put any club in any slot and get the same result. religious figures. He has come Infinity and you are coming to Infinity in an envers relation. slowly and with care. remember. he is busy there at Infinity. philosophers. Stoic. The point is. Its very exciting! Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren in El Cid. theologians. what ever club is in the slot makes all the others obsolete. (he might just be going to the bathroom)25 what matters is that right after he fucks you he has to go on it. the more you start to notice this funny thing. Because the master has better things to be doing than to spend his time screwing you. Japanese. to hear about castration anxiety and the Heisenberg principle over dinner and a movie? … the Borromean knot? Are you kidding? Well. 25 Alice seems to be suggesting that this is what Lacan meant when he said that “the discourse of the master accomplishes its own revolution” and is a “circle that completes itself. You don’t really care all that much. (Think of the alternative. he turns over. “Honey. that is basically all you get. Mishima. “I hardly work at all. namely that they can have the same personality and structure and entirely different missions! And yet they all think that their mission is the right one. megalomania. Hello over there at Infinity! Miss America salutes you! It is important to point out that you love him passionately precisely because he can ignore you. Contrast with––man dressing in utter silence after he has “given you his sperm” which he values way more than he values you. both known and (a) Fall 2000 • 164 . the master always does it in the missionary position. You can finally leave these pathetic–unenlightened–meager–earthling–massenmenschen for Him and for Knowledge–Infinity. psychoanalysts and even big business men. We just like to mention that Lacan mentions it and there is a turtle in it.” That is why he is the master and you are the hysteric. you can’t fuck the master because he’s already fucking himself. The tortoise can only catch up with Achilles at Infinity. Whatever club they are in shows how all the other clubs are wrong. your true calling. but none of us understand it because it’s a math thing. Moreover. he can be in whatever club provided that he leave you in order to go on a big mission.sex with a master once. He dresses as an ancient warrior. It is useful to mention Lacan’s reading of the paradox of Achilles and the tortoise in this regard. Now. After all. you don’t care anymore about such people. he said. Roman. (Because this is how it is done. (The book was written by a long line of masters in which he participates). He can fuck you and go off on a grand mission. You know that he now goes to give the pen–ultimate reading of a hitherto unknown text of an unknown obscure philosopher that will change the history of thought. Each one shows how he renders all the others obsolete. It doesn’t matter what the grand mission is24. anyway. I mention it.” In other words.
Amen. this is absolutely true. but it is an answer nonetheless. Yay you–me! This is the way identification works via the master. You can play the dignified. like Monica and Bill. grabbing him on your knees. Some of you may argue that the master is the way to the ceiling. you know that by their leaving you (since you are identified with them) you are also leaving you. this is when there you are fucking and suddenly. This is a Christian notion of the master. We may now ask some unanswerable Talmudic questions here regarding cause and effect––Do you become the master so as to date the daughter or do you date the daughter in order to become the master? Do you become a daughter in as much as you date the (a) Fall 2000 • 165 . You don’t know what a woman is––but look––whatever it is. however. Lets face it. you are not “ambivalent” rather you are firmly on one side or the other. you become a non–believer and you have a fundamentally intimate relationship with the ceiling. stoic woman who shows no emotion at all. you can smoke a cigarette and put on a silk bathrobe and be distant and sophisticated. That’s why you seminar members who are in to this sort of thing study French theory. You are also leaving you––(the woman) so that you––(the warrior hero) can go and fight a war and save the world. father daughter incest is the motor of French intellectual creativity. somehow you don’t believe any of it. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. and implore him. the Truth. father–daughter incest is not interdicted. your partner in passion–anxiety. Rather. Marilyn and JFK. The scenic opportunities abound! You can sob. becomes barred and you just can’t jouir in the same way. Of course. Such a moment would be when the Big A. like Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis. Or. Master God Father Knowledge Monster Thing of Things and Holy of Holies and his daughter. this guy has to leave it in order to fight wars and save the world. I stop. We further postulate that you can only fuck God and survive insofar as you are an atheist. the moments of belief and disbelief are Cartesianly clear and distinct. ladies. Amen.” unknown. the truest and strongest love of your life ever. the absence of any sign being proof of your profound and eternal love. forever.” The master is no longer the grand A or the S1 or any other great big giant algebraic term or matheme. in other words. In France. You might not be satisfied with this answer. “Only an immortal being can die. in fact I am sure you would not be.26 As long as the ceiling will appear above the head of the master you are still with us among the living. Sometimes. It is the most profound love you have ever known and there was never anything so True so True so True so True so True. for example. Lacan calls this when “the subject falls out of the Other. You will argue that we do this entire stint with the master so as to get to the ceiling. At the same time. In our case material.26 This is our rendering of the famous.
we are only partly women. And just as with strict Freudians who grow Freud’s beard.) If he has any question besides. To be in the position of the master means precisely that he does not question this position. Not only does the master not have a question. that the women around him get sick.” The master knows ergo he teaches. mourning and prayer. It is important to point out that today’s masters are up on current master–criticism and “question their positions” but this only grinds them in deeper and deeper. It brings out the nurse in every one of us. Imagine standing there as he tries to seem important ordering the same coffee as his teacher in some wimpy identification with (a) Fall 2000 • 166 . crazy or religious.” Moreover.27 It is possible nevertheless that for the master there may once or twice have been a smidgeon of a question. the bonnes soeurs nod in pious understanding. (Or he teaches. black. but he has no esprit de vie . He will not “hang out” and go for coffee. This way you can forget that they are the master and feel sorry for them and give them all your love and compassion. Rather he is the Superman who has had the courage to take it up. They “question” or theatrically put their position in question so as to pay homage to some contemporary vogue. the followers of this particular master will drink Starbucks’ Colombian. At the Grande Messe.…We can even ask this differently. smoke Freud’s pipe and have Freud’s daughter Anna later in life.” “And also with you. passing by him it turned into the problem of that poor mad soul who killed herself. “where is my soup?” And. Let us pray. “have you my photocopies?” And. (We should add here in parentheses that this is another reason the hysteric dates the master. “have you ironed my shirt?” they are in the shining and inspired brilliance of his work.” “Gesundheit. in awe and devotion. The holy one blessed be he drinketh Starbucks’Colombian Blend. “Amen. Amen. they often do this by making you think they are unloved or unaccepted by others or that an enemy institution is “against” them. master? Or more specifically. It would be insupportable to date some coffee–drinking epigone cognizant that he is not drinking his own master signifiers but only imitating the master’s signifiers. is dating the master a daughter’s pastime? Since with the master––you are always asking the question of the woman. However. He may have a coffee but on very rare occasions and only when it is properly timed and politically positioned so that others are amazed that someone of your eminence’s stature actually imbibeth this popular beverage. The master doesn’t question his position. or to make you think that they are not masters “like the others. it did not effect him and. Does a woman ever love the master? We of course cannot fully answer this question because as we have pointed out again and again. perhaps in the form of a kind of itch or mild indigestion. At least that is what Freud said in 1931. does a master ever love a woman?… With the master there is death. not to mention that it’s a sure giveaway. black. We might add here that it is due to the very fact that the master doesn’t have a question. ergo he knows…as is more often the case.27 Please see “Florence Nightingale of Sex” and “the Statute of Liberty of Love” for more elaborate treatment of the nurse.
including your mother and only demands once and for all some peace and quiet when he reads the morning paper. both the Studebaker guy and the Master offer infinite Jouissance that is out if this world. on the other hand. of course. With the master. The father is a guy. there is a relation between the Master and the Studebaker guy that necessitates theoretical elaboration. Gross. you will have a very difficult and stormy adolescence. demonstrates that the world is unimportant. The Master offers KNowledge.28 This is. 29 Alice is making reference to the Land of the Lotus Eaters in The Odyssey as well as Chinese food that is tasty and delicious. 30 This can also be understood simply in terms of the car.) Moreover. Both the “subject supposed to No” and the “subject supposed to Know” take you out of this world. he thinks that everyone deserves respect. The master is your way in to the elect. And the Studebaker guy can’t even spell “democracy. the Master will get you to think that democracy is for weaklings. as well as of your higher education and stature. The master is fiercely Anti–democratic. The master is a master. With the Master you go religious28––even if he is an atheist master (truth makes us all religious since it implies belief). If you’re going to go out with anyone. We are now in a position to advance that the relation between the “No” of Studebaker guy and the “Know” of the master is more than merely homophonic.” Now in a surprise turn. Hallelujah! Praise the right Lord! The Master is all about having the “right” Master and the “best Master” and about having the best and most sophisticated way of thinking about things in the whole wide world. There is no possible knot (a) Fall 2000 • 167 . When the Studebaker Guy is sick of you. Here again the distinction from the father is apparent.29 Thus the similarity is that paradoxically. you are in some absurd weak Christian misprision of your mission and role. if you are kind to the servants and restaurant waiters. This is because both present you with a Souverain Bien with regard to your fantasy which functions as a kind of lotus food. Jesus Christ!) It is important to distinguish the master from the father. The Studebaker guy wants to “fuck authority.” (He does. he the master by way of coffee Eucharist. related to the absolutism and frequency of the missionary position.30 The choice is between––Infinite Symbolic/Imaginary and Infinite Real/Imaginary. If you have the misfortune to have the master for your father. The father is democratic. however like the legend of Robin Hood. at least go out with the one who sets the trends. The father thinks this is utter bullshit. but that’s about as far as it goes. (It is important to point out here that with the master you get to be in the “we’re better and smarter and righter than you” thing and this can often allow you to treat other people with disrespect or at least with considerable disregard and disdain). The BSSG. You will be saved in the “right religion” and go to the right heaven. complete with sect and library membership and a ticket to KNowledge Infinity and the Studebaker guy offers infinite fucking in the back seat of his car from which he derives his name.
that the master has something the Studebaker guy doesn’t have––a social cachet.e. And this is important. In this sense. the pièce de résistance you “deserve” whether in the case of the master. as enjoyment. See Seminar I for the relation between the Urmahl and the Urmale. they are the envers of each other. by non–stop sex. The Studebaker guy is an Id in drag as a stud. you couldn’t date the Studebaker guy at all. your very tie to the master is precisely what allows you go to hors monde with the Studebaker guy. no matter what your fantasy. and second of all. The master is a Super Ego in drag as a man. while you think it will protect you. he is a dessert. he tells you to wait for him on the corner and stay put until he comes back. We might even suggest that you yourself are part of the Borromean knot that ties these two figures together. Both figures deprive you of what you want. or in the case of the Studebaker guy. We should note however. The master can always be recognized not only in terms of publications or art exhibits. This suggests that there is a relation between the social cachet and the hors monde. and while you may date him. 31 The Freudian-Alician Urmahlzeit. But I leave this to the topologists among you. i. but by his imaginary traits. he has ugly shoes. the big prehistoric mammal. they are certainly not mating possibilities. the master by depriving you ad misererum and the Studebaker guy by giving it to you ad nauseam.”31 As an externalized Super Ego.e. (a) Fall 2000 • 168 . The point is that neither one can serve as a “main course man. an extra little something. When the master has to go on a mission. 32 Masterdom is related to “mastodon”. The master is the wooly mammoth of the hysteric’s unconscious. All this to say that while they are dating possibilities. You imagine that you can “have the spirit of Leo” in you when fucking them. by deprivation. despite however grandiosely they may consider themselves. The white hair of the master brings us to the question––Was the master ever young? Was he a little boy master? A toddler master? An infant master? Or did he metamorphose into masterdom at a significant Zarathustrian turning point? Or was that so–called “turning point” itself a press release to further ensure his eternal masterdom?32 No one really knows if the master was ever young. They give you the pure enjoyment. But what happens is just the opposite. an au-delà. If you had no relation to social cachets. What is confusing is that they both appear as answers to something you think you want––knowledge and sex.kicks you out of the front seat and slams the door and drives off (he may not even stop the car). Paradoxically. you are not going to marry a dangling piece of a psychic structure.. It is the unknowable as such. before he drives off. First of all. i. If he has nice shoes with the same hair he is not the master but a shoe salesman. he has white hair––at least at the temples. the master is not a man. and no possible “tying the knot” with either of them. And let’s face it ladies. You fly off into either the abyss of unbridled ça or you smash head on into the S1 wall.
” (Later you overhear his students talking. For in our fantasy. “Hmm. She has a party to show off her elbow to circles of “important people” who “count. You always knew that your elbow was waiting to go down…or up…or whatever way history is supposed to go nowadays.” She covers her flat with photographs of her elbow from all angles and has holes cut in her jackets to show them off.The Master can also be recognized by his strange habits and superstitions. He may count stairs. She invents “elbow jewelry” and designs elbow accessories and opens boutiques all over the world and à la Paloma Picasso. The master is the one who makes you uncomfortable to speak. And the fact. your gleaming ivory elbow is the cosmic conduit. Perhaps “mooshoo” has a mysterious and hidden signification. Heidegger.” “Yes. In this context. avoid cracks in sidewalks.” I elaborate. And he has everyone around him believing that he knows something about them too. One of you has reported dating a master who left the bed after ejaculating to “call his daemon” on the phone in the adjoining room. It is important to take up the question of the elbow in terms of the question of femininity. For most of us mortals who don’t know even what to order on the Chinese take out menu.”) Thus the master is recognizable immediately by the position of knowledge he takes regarding you. Mozart or Leonardo (depending on his particular field of mastery) or actually make telephone calls to his own personal génie or daemon. These ensure that his followers will be perpetually in awe. “He knew to order Mooshoo pork! It was uncanny! He knew what I wanted and the right dish to order. He seems to “know” something about you. precisely that you would never say so shows. the elbow is what separates us from Freud’s “narcissistic woman. this is immensely relieving. Suddenly. Evidently. Sensei. You thought this “daemon” was simply his wife but you would never say so. he will be unresponsive––everybody quiet––He is in a trance communicating with an old dead philosopher while staring fixedly at your elbow. “Mooshoo Pork.” you think. the master is in the privileged position of acknowledging our narcissistic investment in ourselves as true. This of course is all very exciting and participates in many a hysteric fantasy of elbow immortalization. Part of your body is now finally flying around up there in the City of God. looking at your elbow now in a different light. You are so impressed by the cosmic scope of his recondite erudition that you even forget that this isn’t even a real language. You can be sure that you can read about it later in his new treatise on the City of God. Masters do things like tell you the significance of your name in Old high Russian Gaelic. she designs her own (a) Fall 2000 • 169 . The narcissistic woman believes that the master’s investment in her elbow is entirely justified. She becomes known as “the elbow chick” and is seen at all the important parties in New York–Paris–London–Tokyo. Your own narcissistic belief in your own elbow is no longer your own private fantasy. indeed proves that he is the master. The master exhibits strange and unusual behavior. make telephone calls from public phone booths to Socrates. rather it is immortalized as a symbolic historical fact in a famous philosophical treatise.
The master doesn’t go down. “ Coude” in French …”I coude …try to get a regular boyfriend. You are having sex with his great big Paul Bunyan chest or his Moses hair and he thinks you are having your final appointment with death. Thou shalt not sudseth up his hair. He thinks you will come because his penis is in you––because he would come if his penis was in (a) Fall 2000 • 170 . He is the One. You play a little but only with the signifier.” In some way. you wish you could believe in the elbow thing. thou must pretendeth that thou didst not see it. This is not only in so far as breaking the law reinforces the law. No. but you just can’t. “The zit on the back of the master doesn’t exist. There is only genital sex and One genital––the Master is the official and final genital sex guy. Rather. the taboo against removing his belly button lint becomes all the more stringent. Moreover. the interdit moves––it breaks loose and winds up in other unexpected places. Whatever you do. At least that is the official party line. your hero. Even though he has sex with you.) As soon as the incest taboo is broken. Thou just shalt not. You must pretend that the zit on the back of the master does not exist.signature fragrance called “Shove. Thou shalt not squiggle thine wet body pleasurably against his. It is possible to have sex with the master without having sex with the master. he can only fuck you. The vagina n’existe pas donc je suis. you can change the object each time. Because the rule is–– you cannot fuck the master. this is much more fun and takes a specific form in the real. there is always an interdit right there at the scene of the crime. Give it up. Penis Me you Nothing Nada Black Hole in space and time.” Or then there is “Elle”… bow. Rather it means quite the contrary––you have sex with a part of the master not the master himself––without his knowing.” You will never make it. Me Tarzan You Jane. Thursday is thigh day. For example. If the incest taboo is broken then what interdiction remains? There is nevertheless an interdit. It doesn’t mean that you are “absent” in hysteric hell not having any enjoyment. donc il est et je ne suis pas. He won’t be able to come. The interdiction is broken ergo it is reinforced somewhere else: Thou shalt not take a shower with the master.” The taboo repositions itself. it seems nonetheless that your body is somehow not there––not for you but for him. “ El” in Hebrew means God. (it’s interdit. there to rescue you from your polymorphous perversity. don’t tell him. incest is possible. Me Me Me Me Me. Thou must not squeezeth the zit on the back of the master. even if you crash all of them in a death drive party. he is only up. You You Foowee on you. The penis is mine and the best donc je suis. but you cannot be there to see it or to laugh about it or talk about it or have any fun. God is “Beau.
” There is great relief in quoting him. i. The master is the one who is always cited––you lean against him and rely on him when you speak. you are officially supposed to be intimidated and scared (its in the script. you are also not just a little flustered when for example. you are in civilization. If you want to (a) Fall 2000 • 171 . Now. Moreover. see master hysteric sex scene) and it is the condition of everyone’s jouissance. cleaning the house. Fucking signals a loss at the level of the text and at the level of leaning. It’s best thus if you have a maid and are independently wealthy. Bon voyage! Le petit maître You can always recognize these guys. because he is always already fucking himself. a long lineage. pour coffee on it. Note ladies.him. or with regard to any discussion at all concerning his early relationship with his mother and his childhood attachments to stuffed animals and pets. and laundry don’t exist. honey. Note that this is similarly the case with the Studebaker guy. It has to mega–count or he is not the master and you are not the slave.e. no nookie?” You are only there to sustain him in his position at his beck and call.) There is great relief because he said it. you still have a relation to history. he will never be Mozart. dissertation I fear no evil for thine famous master texts are with me.D.P. whereas the Grand Maître rarely speaks (he is the origin of speech and as such. paying rent. it straddles him. So what is the master good for? The master is usually brilliant and writes great texts. You can scratch it. they want you to think they are the Grand Maître and you know very well by now that the Grand Maître doesn’t want you to think at all. Did Jupiter ask Io if she would like him to wear a condom? Did Europa say “No condom. Nutcase that you are. wouldn’t anybody?” This is why you cannot fuck the master. whatever it was.D. does birth control. “if I would. you have no being in the world. for that matter. sniff it.A. Citing him. First off. dental appointments. kiss it or throw it out the window unlike what you can do with the actual master himself. critique it. beyond speech) and he certainly doesn’t speak during sex (sex with the big master guy is silent––does God talk? It isn’t about talking. Here the interdit is re–activated in terms of a casual suggestion that he get a steady job. (Here his chest is metamorphosed into a treasure chest of his texts. at the level of love. So the fact that they want you to think is a clear give away. or he wrote it. all you thought you were doing was fucking and now you are driving a get–away–car being chased by the L. “Jouis!” Even your menstrual cycle belongs to him. Le petit maître will always be Salieri. Your thesis practically sits on him. So. you can’t lean against him if you are fucking him. But if you are to have recourse. Similarly. as the interdiction has moved. You can say what you want and you speaketh not in an abyss because you quoteth him. You can do cartwheels around his text and even snuggle up in it if you want to. you cannot have intercourse. Neither. For the master. So. “Yea that I walk through the valley of mine Ph. The master is the one to whom you have recourse. when fucking the master. fall asleep and rub lipstick on it.
Theorrhoea33 The libido attacher.” Similarly. the piece. She was wearing the proverbial rubber dress you have no doubt heard of in our earlier seminar and he starts yelling on about “Je suis le maître. “Je te tue! Je te tue!” he expires on top of you. baby! Yes!… And he goes and ruins it! How can you come when he is citing Hegel in your ear! Besides. One of you was in one of Beverly Hill’s most famous hotels with a petit maître. He “knows” he is killing you. so we like it. You look at the ceiling and you ask God up there: “What would a French woman do?” “What would Jeanne Moreau do?… Jeanne Moreau wouldn’t be in this position in the first place. You’ve snagged your Grand A and you’ve slimed him with your fantasy. Hegel and Marx––he is even citing other masters in the very act of lovemaking. The rubber dress was a $500 waste.33 Another Greek word. The Statue of Liberty of Love and the Florence Nightingale of Sex What is in a date more than a date? (a) Fall 2000 • 172 .) The petit maître says things like: “Je suis le maître. Catherine Deneuve on a lazy day on the Riviera. he is not supposed to say it! Jesus Christ! Suddenly. the word is related to theater. You’ve got the dress. who is in bed with whom? This is the silly and embarrassing moment we referred to earlier when the Grand A becomes barred for the hysteric. talk. finding some way to recuperate a little haute culture jouissance in Tinsel Town. thus certainly important. kaput. you ask the ceiling––Why does he have to say “Je te baise?” Why does he say it while he is doing it or vice versa? Who is he talking to? Does saying it make up for the lack in doing it? Or is it the other way around? You give a few gratuitous “uhs” and “ahs”––you haven’t made up your mind what to do. She might find herself in such a situation. Note the relation of theory to diarrhea. call your mother. You saw Repulsion and Belle du Jour. plummeting from his fantasmatic installation on high and as you are lying beneath him and he is panting away with “Je te baise” and “Je te tue” and so on and so forth… and it is to the ceiling that you speak.” Some More Words about Wanting To Date: III. shattered. the grand master doesn’t have to tell you that he is killing you. Oh my God! Even if it is your fantasy to be killed or to think about The Phenomenology of Spirit while fucking. The ceiling and sky are back in the place of the Other who doesn’t answer. OK. You wonder if you can return it for store credit. That’s it! Pretend! It’s so French! It’s so sophisticated! But the fantasy was smashed. the guy and the grand hotel. “I think I will try for a cash refund this time. You wonder to yourself. or a refund.” He is yelling out Kojève. Puzzled. tu es l’esclave” or the equally charming and reassuring “je te tue. There you were decked out in a rubber dress with some French genius in a fancy hotel. (Thus the continuation of the theme of disgust) Nevertheless. This is it. I failed my ego ideal. he falls.
you never get tired of the piece in him. write. It is the piece that gets you out of bed in the morning to draw. “god damn I love that piece!” and give him a big. Dating libido is higher on the Oedipal scale. you are a hovercraft. Rather. A quick survey of our seminar members came up with the following pieces of dates: ears. shape of hands. biceps. It is because of the inexhaustibility of the representation of the piece that we are sustained in our desire and often in our love. fame. paint. The piece is where you say a clear “Yes!” which is very rare for us. In other words. the gas station attendant’s head shape is as close as you will ever get to the Kantian Ding-an-sich. Lacan calls this the objet petit a cause of desire.34 To be distinguished from eating and shopping libido. feeling of skin. suspended in wonder beholding and touching the piece that exceeds you completely. barrel chest. We attach our dating libido34 to a piece in the Other. shape of head. Because the piece carries with it what Lacan calls “agalma. but alas. hairiness. smooth head. edges of cheeks. shape of uvula. nape of neck. softness of eyebrows. When you are eighty––even if he has dentures–– you can turn over and still say. the piece is conscripted into a universe of means. The piece is the place in the other over which you hover in awe. feeling of skin in between toes. pet it. in Lacanian terms. (a) Fall 2000 • 173 . broken. voice. callous on feet. We call this simply “the piece. For “normal” women it seems that either the “piece” doesn’t exist or it takes the form of money. Related to “algae. Even you could join a religion if it had its basis in “piece” worship. or jog. vorhandensein.” Your libido grabs on to this piece and ties itself around it. it is in our libidinal economy which is our favorite economy of all and which we value the most.” Agalma is a kind of hallucinogenic seaweed slime that glows on the other and makes you fall in love with him again and again. 35 When Lacan says that “meaning indicates the direction towards which it fails” he means that it is possible to reduce this entire kitchen seminar to the head shape of the gas station attendant. sculpt.” agalma is in the primordial soup of life and might even have free–roaming RNA and DNA. to name a few.36 Michelle asked if the penis could be a piece. stare at in wonder. or a kind of space vehicle. smell of skin. titles or a Lamborghini. movement of epiglottis. rims of ears. width of Cro–Magnon toes. the real is inscribed at an impasse in formalization. We really really wish we could be normal women. giant kiss. and the way he snores or eats carrots. Facing the agalmated piece.35 The awe this piece instills in you is the origin of art and religion. 36 The piece is where. accent. The piece is where you drop the anchor to your libido boat. Here. meatiness of buttocks. Thank God for the inexhaustibility of the piece! While occasionally you may get tired of him. it doesn’t work. we can’t. shape of eyes. feeling of spleen. nope. The piece is something that can never be exhausted by representation. Our piece is not in any utilitarian economy.
and see all of Surrealism.37 Most men as well as male analysts want to reduce the piece to the penis. your own libido emanates from his head. not all pieces are penises. that is its defining penisness however it gains penisosity. head phones. (a) Fall 2000 • 174 .37 Alice refers in this entire passage to the Bejahung of the hysteric subject. “giving head. 41 See Ovid’s Metamorphosis.38 But only insofar as it is unrepresentable. It is useful to give an example of the libido attacher40 and the piece from the psychopathology of our everyday lives. Rather. this is not because you have any cosmic calculus to prove regarding the insufficiency of the castration of the gas station attendant. Moreover. migraines. The lamella-creature is what we slime the libido attacher with. you say. We say “Yes!” to the piece and the penis––in so far as it is a piece––we say “he is very well bejahung!. We read in this word the reference to “sosie” or the double – it doubles as a penis and a piece. head–to–head.” A reader of this manuscript asked me to distinguish penisity from penisosity. By association.41 Your analyst will want you to discuss this in detail. You want to touch it and fondle it. It exceeds you and your ability to symbolize it. head–gear. Dokein is Greek for “to give. the relation to the piece is not a perverted relation to this nice guy. Captain.39 You go on a date with a part of him. and this is what I am trying to get across to you today––the shape of his head is paramount with regards to the specificity of feminine desire and of the wanting to date. Sex can have to do with the piece. the libido also Ovidianly emanates from the piece itself. Again. 42 American slang for breasts.” The possibility of a long term synecdoche is a gift. The signifier has a relation to the synagogue as well as the synapse. And love is based on this taking the part for the whole and the whole for the part.” was Alice’s cryptic answer. While a penis can be a piece. Is the penis important still as the penis? Michelle continued. it doesn’t have to do with the gas station attendant except in so far as you are spending more and more on gasoline just to see him and his head. The larger point is that dating is synechdochal. The libido attacher is the object (the head shape) in the guy and in us. You are not denying his subjectivity or looking for a “No” in the other. And you throw your libido net out attaching it to his head. That is synecdoche. frigidity. Medusa. King. 38 See section on the master and on fucking a piece of the master. Note that Alice states that when the penis is a piece it loses penisity. In fact. “Read Goldilocks and the three bears.” “head” as in chief or master. Zeus and Athena. 40 The libido attacher is distinct from the lamella-creature discussed earlier. We should mention that although the libido attaches to a piece. Why not? But insofar as the penis becomes a piece it loses some of its traditional value as a penis in terms of its penisity. You return to the same gas station to get the more expensive “full serve super plus supreme” in the hopes of encountering the gas station attendant whose head–shape you love. It is not simply that you want to date his head but you want to date him as well because of it. head cheese. The shape of the gas station attendant’s head delights you. Crown. headlights42 head stand. It helps it stick. but she does maintain that synecdoche counts. 39 Alice does not maintain as the deconstructionists that dating is a subset of rhetoric.
waiting for him to love you and take a step towards humanity. “Oh my God!” You exclaim! “Head–shrinker!!” “That is all for today. The analyst nods in understanding as if he has finally gotten somewhere with you. Its so much fun. This brings us to the post–modern problematic. your mother’s desire and your mother’s death drive and finally and most importantly with your mother’s complaint) is the concept that relates all the guys mentioned as well as the mehr-the more—the wanting and the more wanting-the mehr wanting and the mere (as in simple) wanting of all of them. .47 So what if you have nothing in common with him! Common interests are bourgeois and have nothing to do with the sublime love you bear for him. watches television all day and fills your refrigerator with six packs of beer. Now Alice tells us that Mehrlust. nodding. For filmic versions of this position.” he says. pied de porc. that “the sexuated being of these not whole women does not involve the body but results from a logical exigency in speech. tête–de–veau. tête. 44 Alice refers to Lacan’s comment in Seminar XX. You donate to the analytic cause once or twice a week supporting the desire of the analyst.44 But it’s a lot of fun. You find this fascinating. . Leaving.” 45 It is well known that Florence Nightingale had a series of bad love affairs with men and then she became a full-time nurse. mother lust. You see a TV show called “The Associator” in which a super–hero woman vanquishes the enemies by talking at them incessantly…. you wonder if you can do that on TV and get paid for it. Thus we cannot extrapolate any of these guys––and any of the guys in the whole seminar (except certain instances with the FNG) from the concept of Mehrlust. wanting to date is a problem of the failure of language itself. Me must courageously ask––what fantasy is the modus operandi of the automaton? What is behind both the Master and the Studebaker guy in us that gives them starring roles in the continuing saga of the amorous adventures of the hysteric subject? The Statue of Liberty of Love. “I saw his head and I thought of his penis and of the penis of the President of the United States!” you say in the climax of your long associative monologue. So what if he eats fast food. The Florence Nightingale of Sex:45 The head of Ophthalmology at Beth Israel Hospital invites you to the opera and dinner at le Cirque. your mother’s lust. Lacan tells us that what Freud meant by Mehrlust was surplus enjoyment.e. We must not be satisfied with only describing the other or spending our life complaining about language’s failure. .43 vermicelli.46 Yet you cancel at the last minute to have sex with the guy who robbed your apartment last week that you love more than anyone you have ever met in your entire life. Why do I love thee? (a) Fall 2000 • 175 . homophonic with “mère lust” (i. 47 The point here is that the BSSG is connected to the doctor-lawyer-dentist that your mother wants you to marry in so far as he is the i ekian obscene underside of your mother’s wish. Signorelli! The analyst becomes more excited. sweetbreads. 46 His mother obviously knows your mother and they had a mother festival one afternoon. see Leaving Las Vegas and Dead Man Walking. Thus once again we find ourselves closer to the liver and spleen and bile.43 Sweetbreads are actually pancreas. You are riveted to watching him eat chips and drink beer. Language just doesn’t get there.
to a certain extent. Moreover. You can “beat death. these guys are much more interesting and generally much smarter than your average eye surgeon. You are fascinated by his desire to kill you. So. 1 50 cf. You found a guy to be legitimately suspicious about in order to enjoy yourself. “In the back seat of a (a) Fall 2000 • 176 . can do it. You see. faith. Better shoes at Saks 5th Avenue. Also note that this is the quintessential position of the masochist. a few kilos sold in Long Beach. Moreover. No matter how badly he treats you. Now you can think the problem is his and not yours. What you love in him is “the lost cause. You are inseparable because he is your externalized death drive. 49 cf. castration and the word. no way! Because finally. Amen. p.” You are dying to figure him out. It is the most consuming passion of your life. To begin with. it is true––you are better than he is. thereby reinforcing your betterness49 all the more. liver and of course with foie gras. Only you with your savoir and specialized training in psychoanalysis and sex. your life becomes extended in a never–ending drama. you date him in order to figure out why he wants to kill you. he wants you because you are better than he is. they would lock you up. Why do you want to kill me? You want to know. And finally. not me. if you were dating a doctor–lawyer–dentist and you had such habits. The “I have found him” is. Heidegger’s hand. they work very little––a small bank robbery in Torrance.48 Foi. First of all. the jubilation of finding your own death drive in someone else––and someone who you can complain about. you love yourself in this position. “He wants to kill me” is a big relief from figuring out what in you already wants to kill you every day. The reference is clearly intentional. Second of all. Your mission is to get the death drive out of him. he provides you with a full–time past time––”figuring him out” and “helping him. They have tons of free time and they like sex. And he really is a suspicious character. despite the TV watching. most of all. in French is homophonic with foie. Why did he go to the supermarket last Thursday night? Why does he only buy cigarettes only at the corner gas station? Why doesn’t he have a valid driver’s license? He is a suspicious character. you will have beaten your own death drive.” You actually get to live longer. You are better than he is––and it is not simply a position.” The point is that “you will never understand sex or death young lady” And how would you like to live while you don’t understand it (your mother wants to know).” No mauvaise foi48 for this chick.50 In this “love death” in Disney–Nirvana land. we are paying great price and suffering for an authentic––I don’t know what. It is so interesting! In part. to bring him to the name of the father. we love these men because we think this is what the existentialists must have meant by “authenticity. to detox him.” You can go out on a date with death and kick his ass. Because your life (whatever that is) is post–phoned taking second place to your “love–death. If you can bring him to the symbolic. you always have the upper hand. number one––you avoid boredom––this is key. He is the most interesting man you have ever met.
The condition of shtick is that somewhere you don’t buy it. Moreover. That is where you go to work and where you love the master. you actually want something that you could never ever want––The very condition of wanting it is that you don’t want it at all. you win. he thinks you love him because he is Napoleon and that he will go down in history. And this is where we shall provide a stunning theoretical discovery regarding the hysteric/master relation. he doesn’t buy it either and he participates because he knows that this is the only chance he will get. It is all about luxury. You wonder. How often does he get Jane Russell on the doormat? He has to take advantage of the situation as best he can. Of course he is a monster. You see. a step beyond the silly smoked salmon of Freud’s Viennese neurotics. you are immensely attracted to. He is surrounded by acolytes who believe he “has it. the aufhebung of hysteria itself. lying prostrate on his doormat in utter hell waiting for him to not answer the door. Suffering. (a) Fall 2000 • 177 . You are not actually attracted to the master. It is a position paradoxically of infinite wealth. You are attracted to his melancholy which originates in his lack of lack.51 This is clearly a mother who has read Kierkegaard. Studebaker or on Park Avenue?”51 Here we go a step further than wanting eternal non–satisfaction.52 The reason for this love is entirely unbeknownst to him. what else is there to do? It seems commonsensical that the master could never be in this category of social unfortunates. Not every one has time for this type of game. but it’s not like you didn’t know it. Masochism is a luxury. This brings us to the question: Do you believe in your own masochism? The visiting Nietzsche scholar is abusing you but do you really buy your own misery? You have the whole town in an uproar and everyone wants to burn him at the town center but you are now bored and you feel guilty. The master lacks lack. you turn over and take a break to smoke a cigarette. If he is smart.” Yet the master is unhappy and he does not know why. who asks. and this legitimately. You can afford to be the masochist. Even if he kills you. he thinks that he is sad because the world hasn’t heard his message. I posit today a revolutionary statement. or because some of his followers have betrayed him. His lack of lack gives him a perpetual air of melancholy that as the Florence–Über–Aufheben–Statue of Liberty. And you imagine that he must be very lonely. Überhysterie. You think that the fact that you don’t buy your own shtick is precisely the reason that you can do it. “Is it better to live in a palace or a hut when the two are facing each other?” 52 To be distinguished from when you desire the master. the beyond of non–satisfaction.
RSI is pronounced with a French accent in French. And here. If Yahweh is your God you may fantasize of a loving and tender date––hence the category of “nice Jewish husband. in late Lacan. That is the difference. It is not a hysterical question. I shall only add the following. How does this relate to dating rabbis and priests? Alice. I think I have sufficiently elaborated on that today. has nothing to do with understanding. (This. this means “It’s all about Me!”––all the dates are about me me me! 2. Would you care to elaborate on his function regarding “wanting–to–date”? What exactly did Lacan mean by “God and the Jouissance of the woman”? Alice. This often depends on denomination. Julia. 3.”) For Lacan. It is what we have been asking all along. Caroline. (a) Fall 2000 • 178 . “Are Is I”––Basically. RSI is an Arse hole. The point is that Jouissance depends on your particular God. dwell with etc. Pronounced “ErErI” or “ErEsAhee”––this is for the cockney readers of Lacan. Then what? Is there an RSI53 guy that is knotted in all the registers? Is there some “credibility” that is not absolute that we can dwell with? Alice. I notice that God comes up very often in today’s discourse. your particular way of accessing Jouissance will differ.” If Jesus is your God. you also will not understand it at all. Jesus’ love and forgiveness allowed for a more exciting form of transgression than the history of the church attests to. “Arse/I”––RSI is an acronym for the ass of the subject. The guy you can live with. For example: 1. The Priest can be in the category of the master but sometimes in the category of the Peruvian guitarist as well. tired of all the meshugges in psychoanalysis. A priest is about the problem of the father. Caroline.53 RSI is a late seminar of Lacan that no one understands in which he discusses the knotting of the Real/Symbolic and the Imaginary. please note is against the American idea that we should “talk about our feelings” and “be empathically heard by our significant other. Is there a love that also lets you have Jouissance as well? After you agree to know what you know and you know. you have the luck to already have a God who loves you and forgives you so you are more apt to opt for infinite “fuck–me–now–anywhere” Jouissance with the Studebaker guy. A rabbi is the father.. God and the Jouissance of the Woman means that depending who your God is. Alice uses the term “RSI guy” to suggest that when you find a guy that you can live with. This makes for all sorts of silly mispronunciations––all of which are psychoanalytically significant in terms of women and dating. Rabbis are not sexual objects except sometimes when they are very young. ErEsEE. It is common knowledge that the subject is a hole. or “tie the knot with” just like Lacan. We shall begin the next seminar with your question.
in the departments of Philosophy and Comparative Literature departments. Syv kapitler Florida and was shown again at New Langton om Lacan og filosofien (From Fantasy to Arts in San Francisco. they become actors in a theater Kirsten Hyldgaard holds a Ph. is Lecturer at Bar Ilan University and Camera Obscura School of Art. She was formerly Director and Curator of an alternative space in Tel-Aviv. the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lake Worth. University in Los Angeles since the early 1980’s . in philosophy of their own imagining. Aïm Luski is an artist. His installations have and is currently Assistant Professor at the been shown in the San Francisco Bay Area and Center for European Cultural Studies.” (in Hebrew) and on Plato’s Phaedrus.D. She has written three books on art and visual culture with special reference to Israeli public space. He has invented different kinds of sketches the various psycho-projects in Plato. Freud. He teaches at Camera earned her doctorate in Philosophy from DePaul Obscura in Tel Aviv and is also a doctoral candiUniversity.R e c e n t l y. Denmark She has published two Sufficient Latitude––an environment for being books. writing texts. She teaches philosophy. continental on “The Conceptual Metaphysics of Gilles thought. He is trying to rewrite the history of photography through post modern Lyat Friedman is at work on a book that philosophy. He also teaches Philosophy at the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan. is underway. Alfredo Carrasquillo-Ramírez is a psychoanalyst in private practice in San Juan.). 1998). Tel A viv. newly translated into Hebrew. Her edition of the full text of Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex. Inc. where she wrote on Eros in Plato’s date in philosophy at Tel Aviv University. of Aarhus. “camera obscura” to do philosophy with images Hume. psychoanalytic thought and feminism at Deleuze. As participants play with his whimsical wood machines. She is also the Director of a documentary film on Rabin’s assassination and two other cases of murder. curator and art critic. where he lives. Tel Aviv University. He is Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of the Corporation for the Support of Educational and Community Programs (CAPEDCOM. the third book. He is the author of some fiction pieces and of the first book-length study of Gilles Deleuze in the Chinese language. Lacan. will be published in English at MIT Press in 2001. Powerlessness: Seven Chapters on Lacan and Philosophy. She has published articles on “The Place of the Woman--Woman as Place: Plato’s Chora and Talmudic Interpretations. Kwai-Cheung Lo teaches in the Humanities Program and English Department at Hong Kong Baptist University. Death’s Showcase.About the Authors Ariella Azoulay. 1990) and Fantasien til afmagten. (in Danish): Heidegger og teknikkens tid .adrift––was part of a retrospective of his work at salder (Heidegger and the Age of Technics. Puerto Rico. She and not only with words. Deleuze and Guattari. Bernie Lubell’s interactive installations have evolved from his studies in psychology and engineering.and the Program in Gender and Women’s Studies.” .
36. He has published various articles on Lacanian theory. 46 [bottom]: photos by Bernie Lubell. 46 [top]: photos by Ann Wettrich. Gabriel Riera’s research is situated at the frontier between literature. she went to Paris to study psychoanalysis. Desigh: J • F • M (a): the journal of culture and the unconscious © Juliet Flower MacCannell. c/o The California Psychoanalytic Circle. Ph.Tracy McNulty is Assistant Professor of Romance Studies at Cornell University. she is editing and translating a collection of Pierre Klossowski’s writings for University of Minnesota Press. philosophy and politics in English. 44. Brad Zukovic is a Los Angeles area writer. “Homeless Dreamer”: video still by Jason MacCannell. philosophy and psychoanalysis. San Francisco.. 38. German and Spanish. 43. page 108. 37. She is also a fiction writer. Manya Steinkoler teaches in the English Departments at Yeshiva University and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Yannis Stavrakakis. He is professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University and has published several articles on twentieth century literature and philosophy.” She was not cured. 1994. Photo credits: pages 34. a sometimecompetitive ballroom dancer. He is now working on a full-length study on ethics and aesthetics. and is completing a book on The Hostess. 916 Ashbury Street. She has published essays on Jacques Lacan and on the Hebrew Bible. Greek. a trained opera singer. and is completing a project on Maurice Blanchot. an occasional performance artist and the editor of Alice’s Kitchen Seminar (forthcoming).D. 39. 45. 41. California 94117 . page 45. With Eleanor Kaufman. My Neighbor. hoping to cure the fact that she “loves too many things. is a teaching fellow at the Department of Government of the University of Essex where he directed the MA program in Ideology and Discourse Analysis.
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