Monday, March 30, 2015

From "Desire" to "Drive", Embracing the "Event"

The Lacanian Subject not only provides an excellent introduction into the fundamental coordinates of Jacques Lacan's conceptual network; it also proposes original solutions to (or at least clarifications of) some of the crucial dilemmas left open by Lacan's work. The principal two among them are the notion of "love beyond Law" mentioned by Lacan in the very last page of his Seminar XI, 1 and the no less enigmatic thesis of the late Lacan according to which, at the end of psychoanalytic treatment, the subject becomes its own cause. Since these two points run against the predominant doxa on Lacan (love as a narcissistic misrecognition which obscures the truth of desire; the irreducibly decentred status of the subject), it is well worth the while to elaborate them.

"Love beyond Law" involves a "feminine" sublimation of drives into love. As Bruce Fink emphasizes again and again, love is here no longer merely a narcissistic (mis)recognition to be opposed to desire as the subject's 'truth' but a unique case of direct asexual sublimation (integration into the order of the signifier) of drives, of their jouissance, in the guise of the asexual Thing (music, religion, etc.) experienced in the ecstatic surrender. 2 What one should bear in mind apropos of this love beyond Law, this direct asexual sublimation of drive, is that it is inherently nonsensical, beyond meaning: meaning can only take place within the (symbolic) Law; the moment we trespass the domain of Law, meaning changes into enjoy-meant, jouis-sense.3

Insofar as, according to Lacan, at the conclusion of psychoanalytic treatment, the subject assumes the drive beyond fantasy and beyond (the Law of) desire, this problematic also compels us to confront the question of the conclusion of treatment in all its urgency. If we discard the discredited standard formulas ("reintegration into the symbolic space", etc.), only two options remain open: desire or drive. That is to say, either we conceive the conclusion of treatment as the assertion of the subject's radical openness to the enigma of the Other's desire no longer veiled by fantasmatic formations, or we risk the step beyond desire itself and adopt the position of the saint who is no longer bothered by the Other's desire as its decentred cause. In the case of the saint, the subject, in an unheard-of way, "causes itself", becomes its own cause. Its cause is no longer decentred, i.e., the enigma of the Other's desire no longer has any hold over it. How are we to understand this strange reversal on which Fink is quite justified to insist? In principle, things are clear enough: by way of positing itself as its own cause, the subject fully assumes the fact that the object-cause of its desire is not a cause that precedes its effects but is retroactively posited by the network of its effects: an event is never simply in itself traumatic, it only becomes a trauma retroactively, by being 'secreted' from the subject's symbolic space as its inassimilable point of reference. In this precise sense, the subject "causes itself" by way of retroactively positing that X which acts as the object-cause of its desire. This loop is constitutive of the subject. That is, an entity that does not 'cause itself' is precisely not a subject but an object. 4 However, one should avoid conceiving this assumption as a kind of symbolic integration of the decentred Real, whereby the subject 'symbolizes', assumes as an act of its free choice, the imposed trauma of the contingent encounter with the Real. One should always bear in mind that the status of the subject as such is hysterical: the subject 'is' only insofar as it confronts the enigma of Che vuoi? - "What do you want?" - insofar as the Other's desire remains impenetrable, insofar as the subject doesn't know what kind of object it is for the Other. Suspending this decentring of the cause is thus strictly equivalent to what Lacan called "subjective destitution", the de- hystericization by means of which the subject loses its status as subject.

The most elementary matrix of fantasy, of its temporal loop, is that of the "impossible" gaze by means of which the subject is present at the act of his/her own conception. What is at stake in it is the enigma of the Other's desire: by means of the fantasy-formation, the subject provides an answer to the question, 'What am I for my parents, for their desire?' and thus endeavours to arrive at the 'deeper meaning' of his or her existence, to discern the Fate involved in it. The reassuring lesson of fantasy is that "I was brought about with a special purpose".5 Consequently, when, at the end of psychoanalytic treatment, I "traverse my fundamental fantasy", the point of it is not that, instead of being bothered by the enigma of the Other's desire, of what I am for the others, I "subjectivize" my fate in the sense of its symbolization, of recognizing myself in a symbolic network or narrative for which I am fully responsible, but rather that I fully assume the uttermost contingency of my being. The subject becomes 'cause of itself' in the sense of no longer looking for a guarantee of his or her existence in another's desire.

Another way to put it is to say that the "subjective destitution" changes the register from desire to drive. Desire is historical and subjectivized, always and by definition unsatisfied, metonymical, shifting from one object to another, since I do not actually desire what I want. What I actually desire is to sustain desire itself, to postpone the dreaded moment of its satisfaction. Drive, on the other hand, involves a kind of inert satisfaction which always finds its way. Drive is non-subjectivized ("acephalic"); perhaps its paradigmatic expressions are the repulsive private rituals (sniffing one's own sweat, sticking one's finger into one's nose, etc.) that bring us intense satisfaction without our being aware of it-or, insofar as we are aware of it, without our being able to do anything to prevent it.

In Andersen's fairy tale The Red Shoes, an impoverished young woman puts on a pair of magical shoes and almost dies when her feet won't stop dancing. She is only saved when an executioner cuts off her feet with his axe. Her still-shod feet dance on, whereas she is given wooden feet and finds peace in religion. These shoes stand for drive at its purest: an 'undead' partial object that functions as a kind of impersonal willing: 'it wants', it persists in its repetitive movement (of dancing), it follows its path and exacts its satisfaction at any price, irrespective of the subject's well-being. This drive is that which is 'in the subject more than herself': although the subject cannot ever 'subjectivize' it, assume it as 'her own' by way of saying 'It is I who want to do this!' it nonetheless operates in her very kernel. 6 As Fink's book reminds us, Lacan's wager is that it is possible to sublimate this dull satisfaction. This is what, ultimately, art and religion are about.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Love Beyond Law"

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Pampered and Privileged Man's Lament

This poor, poor man! Like Kafka's "Josephine", he has to work and not just pipe all day!
I've recently perused the work of Maslow,
who's well-known for his quite perceptive claims:
he says the needs that every person has go
from basic ones like food to higher aims.
The Physiological needs come first - survival
requires us to eat, to drink, to sleep.
When those are met, then Safety starts to rival
them for attention, since we have a deep
desire to be protected. Then comes Love
and Belonging: we need family and friends
to stave off loneliness. And then above
this stage, there's self-Esteem. Our health depends
on these four all being met, so motivation
impels us to Self-actualisation.
- Discoveria, "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs"

Monday, March 23, 2015

Subjective Physics

Problems arise from not understanding the limits of objectivity in scientific research, especially when results are generalized. Given that the object selection and measurement process are typically subjective, when results of that subjective process are generalized to the larger system from which the object was selected, the stated conclusions are necessarily biased.
from Wikipedia

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Song to Drive FreeThinke Nuts

Ying and it's yang
felt inside a surge
to sing their song;
being witness to this
immortal moment,
we stood up and said
'The accompaniments
please let's contribute'
space, sea waves, clouds
earth, fire and sky---
all at once felt the need
as much as us. Aum
The orchestra
sounded so divine
the voices did merge
like milk and honey
a symphony
like a river seeking ocean
emerged, everyone
was aghast, "Where
are the audience
for such a jazz?"
And when the moment
of delight unfolded
it voicelessly chanted:
"The singer and the song
are one, bliss eternal"
K Balachandran, "At the Kernel" (Aug 2, 2014)

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Post for the Angels...

The Symbolic (or Symbolic Order) is a part of the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, part of his attempt "to distinguish between those elementary registers whose grounding I later put forward in these terms: the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real — a distinction never previously made in psychoanalysis"


The unconscious is the discourse of the Other and thus belongs to the symbolic order. It is also the realm of the Law that regulates desire in the Oedipus complex, and is determinant of subjectivity. "The unconscious is the sum of the effects of speech on a subject, at the level at which the subject constitutes himself out of the effects of the signifier ... we depend on the field of the Other, which was there long before we came into the world, and whose circulating structures determine us as subjects"[14] on the symbolic order.
from Wikipedia

The Current Cult of Government

The Argument

I lovèd Theotormon,
And I was not ashamèd;
I trembled in my virgin fears,
And I hid in Leutha’s vale!

I pluckèd Leutha’s flower,
And I rose up from the vale;
But the terrible thunders tore
My virgin mantle in twain.
- Robert Blake, "Visions of the Daughters of Albion" (1793)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2/0 = (i*i)?

In mathematics, division by zero is division where the divisor (denominator) is zero. Such a division can be formally expressed as a/0 where a is the dividend (numerator). In ordinary arithmetic, the expression has no meaning, as there is no number which, multiplied by 0, gives a (assuming a≠0), and so division by zero is undefined. Since any number multiplied by zero is zero, the expression 0/0 has no defined value and is called an indeterminate form. Historically, one of the earliest recorded references to the mathematical impossibility of assigning a value to a/0 is contained in George Berkeley's criticism of infinitesimal calculus in The Analyst ("ghosts of departed quantities").

There are mathematical structures in which a/0 is defined for some a (see Riemann sphere, real projective line, and section 4 for examples); however, such structures cannot (see below) satisfy every ordinary rule of arithmetic (the field axioms).

In computing, a program error may result from an attempt to divide by zero. Depending on the programming environment and the type of number (e.g. floating point, integer) being divided by zero, it may generate positive or negative infinity by the IEEE 754 floating point standard, generate an exception, generate an error message, cause the program to terminate, or result in a special not-a-number value.

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"

Friday, March 13, 2015

Look Ma, No Hands!

Explaining Poverty

I think I may fairly make two postulata.

First, That food is necessary to the existence of man.

Secondly, That the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state.

These two laws, ever since we have had any knowledge of mankind, appear to have been fixed laws of our nature, and, as we have not hitherto seen any alteration in them, we have no right to conclude that they will ever cease to be what they now are, without an immediate act of power in that Being who first arranged the system of the universe, and for the advantage of his creatures, still executes, according to fixed laws, all its various operations.

I do not know that any writer has supposed that on this earth man will ultimately be able to live without food. But Mr Godwin has conjectured that the passion between the sexes may in time be extinguished. As, however, he calls this part of his work a deviation into the land of conjecture, I will not dwell longer upon it at present than to say that the best arguments for the perfectibility of man are drawn from a contemplation of the great progress that he has already made from the savage state and the difficulty of saying where he is to stop. But towards the extinction of the passion between the sexes, no progress whatever has hitherto been made. It appears to exist in as much force at present as it did two thousand or four thousand years ago. There are individual exceptions now as there always have been. But, as these exceptions do not appear to increase in number, it would surely be a very unphilosophical mode of arguing to infer, merely from the existence of an exception, that the exception would, in time, become the rule, and the rule the exception.

Assuming then my postulata as granted, I say, that the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.

Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.

By that law of our nature which makes food necessary to the life of man, the effects of these two unequal powers must be kept equal.

This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. This difficulty must fall somewhere and must necessarily be severely felt by a large portion of mankind.

Through the animal and vegetable kingdoms, nature has scattered the seeds of life abroad with the most profuse and liberal hand. She has been comparatively sparing in the room and the nourishment necessary to rear them. The germs of existence contained in this spot of earth, with ample food, and ample room to expand in, would fill millions of worlds in the course of a few thousand years. Necessity, that imperious all pervading law of nature, restrains them within the prescribed bounds. The race of plants and the race of animals shrink under this great restrictive law. And the race of man cannot, by any efforts of reason, escape from it. Among plants and animals its effects are waste of seed, sickness, and premature death. Among mankind, misery and vice. The former, misery, is an absolutely necessary consequence of it. Vice is a highly probable consequence, and we therefore see it abundantly prevail, but it ought not, perhaps, to be called an absolutely necessary consequence. The ordeal of virtue is to resist all temptation to evil.

This natural inequality of the two powers of population and of production in the earth, and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal, form the great difficulty that to me appears insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society. All other arguments are of slight and subordinate consideration in comparison of this. I see no way by which man can escape from the weight of this law which pervades all animated nature. No fancied equality, no agrarian regulations in their utmost extent, could remove the pressure of it even for a single century. And it appears, therefore, to be decisive against the possible existence of a society, all the members of which should live in ease, happiness, and comparative leisure; and feel no anxiety about providing the means of subsistence for themselves and families.

Consequently, if the premises are just, the argument is conclusive against the perfectibility of the mass of mankind. I have thus sketched the general outline of the argument, but I will examine it more particularly, and I think it will be found that experience, the true source and foundation of all knowledge, invariably confirms its truth.
- Thomas Malthus, "Essay on the Principle of Population"

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ate, Between Two Deaths - Visions of the Apocalypse

"And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Atë' by his side come hot from Hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war, ...
- Wm Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"
At first sight, then, Benjamin is in perfect accord with Stalinism concerning this 'perspective of the Last Judgement': but here we should follow the same advice as with 'love at first sight': take a second look. If we do it, it soon becomes clear how this apparent proximity only confirms that Benjamin has touched the real nerve of the Stalinist symbolic edifice - he was the only one to question radically the very idea of 'progress' implied by the accountancy of the big Other of history and - precursor, in this respect, of the famous Lacanian formula that development 'is nothing but a hypothesis of domination' - to demonstrate the uninterrupted connection between progress and domination: 'The concept of the historical progress of mankind cannot be sundered from the concept of its progression through a homogeneous, empty time' (Thesis XIII) - that is, from the temporality of the ruling class.

The Stalinist perspective is that of a victor whose final triumph is guaranteed in advance by the 'objective necessity of history'; which is why, in spite of the accent on ruptures, leaps. revolutions, his view on past history is evolutionary throughout. History is conceived as the continuous process of replacing old masters with new: each victor played a 'progressive role' in his time, then lost his purpose because of unavoidable development: yesterday, it was the capitalist who acted in accordance with the necessity of progress; today it's our turn... In Stalinist accountancy, 'objective guilt' (or contribution) is measured by the laws of historical development - of continuous evolution towards the Supreme Good (Communism). With Benjamin, in contrast, the 'perspective of the Last Judgement' is the perspective of those who have paid the price for a series of great historical triumphs; the perspective of those who had to fail, to miss their aim, so that the series of great historical deeds could be accomplished; the perspective of hopes deceived, of all that have left in the text of history nothing but scattered, anonymous, meaningless traces on the margin of deeds whose 'historical greatness' was attested to by the 'objective' gaze of official historiography.

This is why, for Benjamin, revolution is not part of a continuous historical evolution but, on the contrary, a moment of 'stasis' when the continuity is broken, when the texture of previous history, that of the winners, is annihilated, and when, retroactively, through the success of the revolution, each abortive act, each slip, each past failed attempt which functioned in the reigning text as an empty and meaningless trace, will be 'redeemed', will receive its signification. In this sense, revolution is strictly a creationist act, a radical intrusion of the 'death drive': erasure of the reigning Text, creation ex nihilo of a new Text by means of which the stifled past 'will have been'.

To refer to the Lacanian reading of Antigone: if the Stalinist perspective is that of Creon, the perspective of the Supreme Good assuming the shape of the Common Good of the State, the perspective of Benjamin is that of Antigone - for Benjamin, revolution is an affair of life or death; more precisely: of the second, symbolic death. The alternative opened up by the revolution is that between redemption, which will retroactively confer meaning on the 'scum of history' (to use this Stalinist expression) - on what was excluded from the continuity of Progress - and the apocalypse (its defeat), where even the dead will again be lost and will suffer a second death: 'even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins' (Thesis VI).

We can thus conceive the opposition between Stalinism and Benjamin as that between evolutionary idealism and creationist materialism. In his Seminar on The Ethic of Psychoanalysis, Lacan pointed out how the ideology of evolutionism always implies a belief in a Supreme Good, in a final Goal of evolution which guides its course from the very beginning. In other words, it always implies a hidden, disavowed teleology, whereas materialism is laways creationist - it always includes a retroactive movement: the final Goal is not inscribed in the beginning; things receive their meaning afterwards; the sudden creation of an Order confers backward signification on to the preceding Chaos.
- Slavoj Zizek, "The Sublime Object of Ideology"
A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.
--Walter Benjamin

Poe Mania!

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
- Edgar Allen Poe, "Annabel Lee"

Friday, March 6, 2015

What it Means to be Post-Modern

Superego is the reversal of the permissive "You May!" into the prescriptive "You Must!", the point in which permitted enjoyment turns into ordained enjoyment. We all know the formula of Kant s unconditional imperative: "Du canst, denn du sollst". You can do your duty, because you must do it. Superego turns this around into "You must, because you can." Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of Viagra, the potency pill that promises to restore the capacity of male erection in a purely biochemical way, bypassing all problems of psychological inhibitions and so on. Now Viagra takes care of the erection, there is no excuse, you can enjoy sex so you should enjoy it, otherwise you are guilty. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the New Age wisdom of recovering the spontaneity of your true self seems to offer a way out of this superego predicament. However, what do we get effectively? Is this attitude not secretly sustained by the superego imperative? You must do your duty of achieving full self–realization and self–fulfillment because you can. This is the reason why we feel, at least I do, a kind of terrorist pressure beneath the compliant tolerance of New Age preachers. They seem to preach peace and letting go and so on but there is an implicit terrorist dimension in it.

So what is superego? The external opposition between pleasure and duty is precisely overcome in the superego. It can be overcome in two opposite ways. On one hand, we have the paradox of the extremely oppressive, so–called totalitarian post–traditional power which goes further than the traditional authoritarian power. It does not only tell you "Do your duty, I don’t care if you like it or not." It tells you not only "You must obey my orders and do your duty" but "You must do it with pleasure. You must enjoy it." It is not enough for the subjects to obey their leader, they must actively love him. This passage from traditional authoritarian power to modern totalitarianism can be precisely rendered through superego in an old joke of mine. Let’s say that you are a small child and one Sunday afternoon you have to do the boring duty of visiting your old senile grandmother. If you have a good old–fashioned authoritarian father, what will he tell you? "I don’t care how you feel, just go there and behave properly. Do your duty." A modern permissive totalitarian father will tell you something else: "You know how much your grandmother would love to see you. But do go and visit her only if you really want to." Now every idiot knows the catch. Beneath the appearance of this free choice there is an even more oppressive order. You seem to have a choice, but there is no choice, because the order is not only you must visit your grandmother, you must even enjoy it. If you don’t believe me, just try to say "I have a choice, I will not do it." I promise your father will say "What did your grandmother ever do to you? Don’t you know how she loves you? How could you do this to her?" That’s superego.

On the other hand, we have the opposite paradox of the pleasure itself whose pursuit turns into duty. In a permissive society, subjects experience the need to have a good time, to really enjoy themselves, as a kind of duty, and consequently feel guilty for failing to be happy. The concept of the superego designates precisely this mysterious overlapping in which the command to enjoy overlaps with the duty to enjoy yourself. Maybe we can in this way distinguish the totalitarian from the liberal–permissive superego. In both cases, the message is "You may enjoy, but because you may, you must". In both cases you pay a price for this permission. In permissive liberalism, the "you may" of freely inventing yourself is paid for when you get caught in the cobweb of prohibitions concerning the well’being of yourself and your neighbors. We can do whatever we want today, hedonism and so on, but the result is that we have at the daily level so many prohibitions so as not to prevent others from enjoying. You are constantly told what to eat and drink, no fat, no smoking, safe sex, prohibition to enjoy the other, prohibition of sexual harassment, and so on, life is totally regulated. In an exactly symmetrical way, in totalitarianism the official message is "You should obey."

Neo–fundamentalists like to present themselves as "In today’s world there are no firm values, and we offer you safe haven, roots in firm values." This explains the so-called neo–fundamentalist appeal: As sociologists say, in postmodernity, in a reflexive society, there are no firm values, no nature or tradition, people who are used to a firm set of values get lost, long for safe haven… The other aspect of it is the exact opposite. It’s the postmodern subject of total permissiveness who gets caught up in so many prohibitions that precisely in order to be happy, the secret message between the lines of the totalitarian appeal to follow the master is, "If you follow me, you may." You may with impunity rape, sexually harass, kill, etc. I know this from personally talking to some years ago members of the old regime in Belgrade. There message was, "Before we were living this regulated life. Now at the point of us becoming Serb ethnic fundamentalists is that we may." Even before Adorno and Horkheimer, Brecht was attentive to this falsely liberating aspect of fundamentalism. Totalitarianism is not only "safe haven, firm values, we give you a sense of stability", it’s also a kind of false liberation. Which is why in an article from a year ago I offered as a metaphor for totalitarianism, the German fat free salami, whose slogan is Du Darfst. If you obey me, Du Darfst, you can have your salami without fat.
- Slavoj Zizek, "The SuperEgo and the Act"

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Supercharged Freedom Fighters

You drink a bitter draught.
I sip the tears your eyes fight to hold
A cup of lees, of henbane steeped in chaff.
Your breast is hot,
Your anger black and cold,
Through evening's rest, you dream
I hear the moans, you die a thousand's death.
When cane straps flog the body
dark and lean, you feel the blow,
I hear it in your breath.
- Maya Angelou, "To A Freedom Fighter"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dasein and Oppression

h/t - nicrap & source
We shall Witness
It is certain that we too, shall witness
the day that has been promised
of which has been written on the slate of eternity
When the enormous mountains of tyranny
blow away like cotton.
Under our feet- the feet of the oppressed-
when the earth will pulsate deafeningly
and on the heads of our rulers
when lightning will strike.
From the abode of God
When icons of falsehood will be taken out,
When we- the faithful- who have been barred out of sacred places
will be seated on high cushions
When the crowns will be tossed,
When the thrones will be brought down.
Only The name will survive
Who cannot be seen but is also present
Who is the spectacle and the beholder, both
I am the Truth- the cry will rise,
Which is I, as well as you
And then God’s creation will rule
Which is I, as well as you
We shall Witness
It is certain that we too, shall witness
(Translation source:

Thou Mayest!

"Recall what is arguably the most powerful scene of The Sound of Music."

"After Maria escapes from the von Trapp family and returns to the monastery, unable to deal with her sexual attraction toward Baron von Trapp, she cannot find peace there, since she is still longing for the Baron; in a memorable scene, the Mother Superior summons her and advises her to return to the von Trapp family and try to sort out her relationship with the Baron. She delivers this message in a weird song “Climb every mountain!” whose surprising motif is: “Do it! Take the risk and try everything your heart wants! Do not allow petty considerations to stand in your way!”

"The uncanny power of this scene resides in its unexpected display of the spectacle of desire, which renders the scene literally embarrassing: The very person whom one would expect to preach abstinence and renunciation turns out to be the agent of the fidelity to one’s desire."
Slavoj Zizek