Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Hysterical Question - Che Vuoi?

The anonymous mechanism of the symbolic order, or another subject in his or her radical alterity, a subject from whom I am forever separated by the "wall of language"? The easy way out of this predicament would have been to read in this discrepancy the sign of a shift in Lacan's development, from the early Lacan focused on the intersubjective dialectic of recognition, to the later Lacan who puts forward the anonymous mechanism that regulates the interaction of subjects (in philosophical terms: from phenomenology to structuralism). While there is a limited truth in this solution, it obfuscates the central mystery of the big Other: the point at which the big Other, the anonymous symbolic order, gets subjectivized.

The exemplary case is divinity: is what we call "God" not the big Other personified, addressing us as a larger-than-life person, a subject beyond all subjects? In a similar way, we talk about History asking something of us, of our Cause calling us to make the necessary sacrifice. What we get here is an uncanny subject who is not simply another human being, but the Third, the subject who stands above the interaction of real human individuals - and the terrifying enigma is, of course, what does this impenetrable subject want from us (theology refers to this dimension as that of Deus absconditus). For Lacan, we do not have to evoke God to get a taste of this abyssal dimension; it is present in every human being:
man's desire is the Other's desire, in which the de /of/ provides what grammarians call a 'subjective determination' - namely, that it is qua /as/ Other that man desires. ... This is why the Other's question - that comes back to the subject from the place from which he expects an oracular reply - which takes some such form as 'Che vuoi?', 'What do you want?' is the question that best leads the subject to the path of his own desire.
-Slavoj Zizek, "From Che vuoi? to Fantasy: Lacan with Eyes Wide Shut."
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In order to understand the point here we must remember Lacan’s notion that ‘desire is ultimately the Other’s desire: the question-enigma of desire is ultimately not "What do I really want?", but "What does the Other really want from me? What, as an object, am I myself for the Other" - I myself (the subject), as the object-cause of the Other's desire, am the object whose overproximity triggers anxiety (Zizek 2000: 363-364). So the actors become 'suspects' of the big Other when they are 'reduced to the object exchanged or used by the Other (ibid), in this case, the Author.

Bearing this in mind, the actors qua 'suspects' are left with the question 'Che vuoi?' ('What does the Other want from me?'), which signals the role of the hysteric: to constantly question his/her position in relation to the big Other. What we can further claim, in this role, is that the Author appears to act as the Ego-Ideal. This is a term often confused with its obverse, the ideal ego. For Lacan, the ideal ego is simply the image I would like to present to the world of myself - how I wish to be seen. It is therefore considered part of the imaginary. The Ego-Ideal, on the other hand, is the 'agency whose gaze I try to impress with my ego image' (Zizek 2006:80). In this case it is the Author who the Actors perform for; it is his ideal-artistic vision - which is impossible to distinguish beforehand in so far as it is unknowable even to the Author himself until he has already witnessed it - that they wish to actualize. However, if my claim were to stop there it would miss the role of the superego: that which makes us suppress our 'sinful strivings': namely, that which turns actors into 'suspects'. Although the Author's desires may appear senseless he should not be confused with the G_d of the Old Testament (Yahweh), who is full of tautologies 'I am what I am' or irrational commandments; '[i]n short, this G_d is the G_d of pure Will, of the capricious abyss that lies beyond any global rational order of logos, a G_d who does not have to account for anything he does'(Žižek 2000: 318)
- Bryce Lease, "How Badly Do You Want to Kill Your Father?"

20 comments:

Gert said...

"You Look So Fine"

http://youtu.be/-kvXfNoTjsY

Let's pretend - happy end.

-FJ said...

Great example.

-FJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
-FJ said...

Let's try that again...

:P

Joe Conservative said...

ps - I love this video...

Joe Conservative said...

Er-r-r-r. The 1st one on the list.

Joe Conservative said...

Ever try and suck on firehose? THAT is what trying to understand Zizek is like. ;)

A Critque of desire...

My Responsibility for MY desire...

Gert said...

Atmosphere

http://youtu.be/1EdUjlawLJM?list=RD6mpZUPPTyjo

Shadowplay

http://youtu.be/juD4ayBbHdY

Atrocity Exhibition

http://youtu.be/5AqeqAQ1ILI

Gert said...

Lyrics to Atrocity Exhibition (hard to hear).

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/joydivision/atrocityexhibition.html

Thersites said...

Have you ever seen Peter Weiss' Marat - Sade? I sympathize w/Sade.

Thersites said...

Great band, Joy Division. I'm going to steal that first vid and post it. Love the Yin-Yang Jawas!

Gert said...

How fans (like me) describe 'enjoying' Joy Division is bizarrely similar, almost a religious experience. Someone bought me Unknown Pleasures when I was a young chemistry student. I had never heard of them, didn't know about the 'cult' that had emerged and got the present 2 years after Ian's death.

I put it on and I was hooked almost instantaneously.

Another interesting coincidence is the way band members now claim they never really listened to the lyrics, back then. I didn't really either: the 'total experience' was shards of text, his voice, the music, the sleeve, etc (an ideology).

Later I saw Curtis was trying to glimpse the Real. I'm sure of it. Clumsily perhaps but genuinely nonetheless.

Put it on!

Gert said...

Will look at your other links shortly. Ta.

Thersites said...

I've used this video in a number of obsession posts... just can't find any at present. ;)

-FJ said...

Zizek on punk

Gert said...

She's Lost Control is a fave with any JD fan. Acc. one surviving band member it's based on an actual experience by Curtis with one of his female clients. He was a social worker of sorts (malimg sure allocated benefits actually reached the unfortunate beneficiaries), before they went semi-pro as a band.

Curtis was a 'Christ' like personality: I think he 'wanted' to carry the shame of all of Mankind, in a sense.

I've been ill for a month and a half now and life is no joke right here. These conversations have helped me keep my mind off things. 'Rescue' can come from the most unexpected corners.

Zizek on punk. Is there anything the man doesn't have an opinion on?

-FJ said...

The man is a font... as the Lacanian perspective has "infinite" application.

And sorry to hear about your illness. I survived colon cancer about 10 years ago. I kept my mind off it with "philosophy" and my attempts to psycho-analyze a psychic-break over "Easter" 2001 (if you're a Millenialist)

Gert said...

Ok, selfishly I hope colon cancer isn't my lot. That's SERIOUS!

A post-operative flue-like infection was supposed to be a '48 h bug' but two weeks in I don't feel even remotely better (today seems not the worst of them). Blood tests show very mild anaemia but nothing more. It's quite debilitating and can't work (I'm self-employed). Can't wait to see the back of this virus (if that's what it is).

You don't miss your water until your well runs dry.

-FJ said...

I hope you recover soon. Ill health isn't something I wish upon anyone, unless it serves to break one of a bad-habit or three (Nietzsche). ;)

Gert said...

Thank you.