April 2016


tumblr_nfolu6LbZ81rrajnno1_1280There is something unbearable about the Lacanian teaching; something that makes you want to turn away and flee, or at the very least forget.  It is not his opaque style, though that style performs the very thesis he wishes to articulate.  At its heart, the core Lacanian teaching is that there is no cure for existence, that the horror and dissatisfaction we experience in existence is a structural feature of being a speaking-being rather than an accident that befalls some.  Our introduction into language produces an ineluctable fissure within our being, generating a structural loss, forever fracturing jouissance, condemning us to be creatures of desire and drive.  Desire becomes a hole that can never be filled, that pervades every aspect of our existence, and that haunts the entirety of our world and social relations.  Everywhere we see cries raised to heaven, striving to treat desire, this fissure, as an accident that can be remedied whether through self-help, religion, love, or political struggle.  Everywhere we come up with theories striving to account for what caused this fissure in our lives, this fragmentation of jouissance.  All of politics can be read as so many theories of who stole the jouissance, of which group or institution is responsible for the shattering of jouissance.  Yet while desire and jouissance, while the trauma of never ceasing drive, might be effects of the symbolic on our bodies, desire, jouissance, and drive are of the real:  that which always returns to its place and which is impossible to eradicate.  The question is how to continue on in these political struggles knowing full well that there is truth to the story of the Fall and that no technology, revolution, or new form of life or social arrangement can remedy this fissure that torments us?

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walking-towards-the-abyss-larry-butterworthIn Lacanian Affect, Collette Soler argues that in the capitalist age, the age where God has died, there is no longer a social relation or bond and that “semblance” has collapsed.  We are reduced to bodies relating to things satisfying needs, appetites, and desires.  By “semblance” she means grand values such as justice, beauty, emancipation, universality, truth, goodness, etc.  These values on behalf of which we would act depart from the world and we are left with a naked or bare world; a world where all of these things are seen as ways of being duped.  Instead everything comes to be seen as dynamics of power, appetite, and need.  I wonder about the degree to which the hermeneutics of suspicion has contributed to this collapse.  Everywhere, in suspicion, we show a dirty secret behind what is highest; a dark motive or desire; a form of oppression.  The irony is that we undertake this form of critique in the name of justice, truth, and emancipation, only to find that the very values that drove us are instead lures or masquerades.  We try desperately to continue believing in these things, but fall into a cynicism that sees a dark play for power behind each of them.  All of them are a sham, we think.  We end up howling into the void, unable to proceed.