Saturday, March 14, 2015

Filling Out the Lacanian "Real"

Lenin in Warsaw?
"It is true that in Lacanian theory ‘every letter has its title’, but this title is definitely not some kind of telos of its trajectory. The Lacanian ‘title of the letter’ is closer to the title of the picture; for example, that described in the well known joke about 'Lenin in Warsaw'. At an art exhibition in Moscow, there is a picture showing Nadiezhda Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife, in bed with young member of the Komsomol. The title of the picture is Lenin in Warsaw. A bewildered visitor asks a guide: 'But where is Lenin?' The guide replies quietly and with dignity: ‘Lenin is in Warsaw’.

If we put aside the Lenin’s position as the absent Third, the bearer of the prohibition of the sexual relationship, we could say that ‘Lenin in Warsaw’ is, in a strict Lacanian sense, the object of this picture.

The title names the object which is lacking in the field of what is depicted. (...)"
- Slavoj Žižek, "The Sublime Object of Ideology"

A conscript sets out to avoid military service by pretending he is mad. His ‘madness’ takes the form of constantly picking up pieces of paper and exclaiming ‘That is not it!, That is not it!’. Eventually the army psychiatrist, convinced by this performance, writes the conscript a warrant releasing him from service. On being presented with the warrant the conscript says ‘This is it!’. The Lacanian object:
is an object produced by the signifying texture itself. It is a kind of object that came to exist as a result of all the fuss about it. The “mad” conscript pretends to look for something, and through his very search, through its repeated failure (“That is not it!”), he produces what he is looking for. The paradox, then, is that the process of searching itself produces the object which causes it: an exact parallel to Lacanian desire which produces his own object-cause’
- Slavoj Žižek, "The Sublime Object of Ideology"


FreeThinke said...

I once heard of a fellow who wanted to get out of the service so badly that he started begging his fellow "conscripts" not to flush their bowel movements. He started eating their turds straight out of the latrine quite openly. His ploy by all reports worked splendidly. He was OUT and back on the STREET a free man within two days after these untoward incidents were reported.

I wonder what your friends Lacan and Zizek would make out of THAT?

-FJ said...

I think that they would say that he was stupid to pursue eating real objects when pursuing imaginary ones would have accomplished the same object.

Thersites said...

I'd rather eat "figurative" than "real" sh*t.

FreeThinke said...

But of course! However, since the fellow's sole objective was to GET OUT of the SERVICE we must admit the temporary punishment he inflicted on himself, however severe, was EFFECTIVE in achieving his goal.

As long as HE was able to tolerate it, why should WE mind?

And are you sure that the subtler forms of subterfuge and dissimulation you suggest would work in an organization as fundamentally insensitive as the military?

-FJ said...

Ever read Heller's "Catch 22"? I doubt it. The Service is much to obtuse for subtler forms of subterfuge.

FreeThinke said...