Monday, June 13, 2016

Anxiety: Feeling Mankind's Fall...

One should bear in mind Lacan's lesson here: accepting guilt is a manoeuvre which delivers us of anxiety, and its presence signals that the subject compromised his desire. So when, in a move described by Kierkegaard, one withdraws from the dizziness of freedom by seeking a firm support in the order of finitude, this withdrawal itself is the true Fall. More precisely, this withdrawal is the very withdrawal into the constraints of the externally-imposed prohibitory Law, so that the freedom which then arises is the freedom to violate the Law, the freedom caught into the vicious cycle of Law and its transgression, where Law engenders the desire to "free oneself" by way of violating it, and "sin" is the temptation inherent to the Law-the ambiguity of attraction and repulsion which characterizes anxiety is now exerted not directly by freedom but by sin. The dialectic of Law and its transgression does not reside only in the fact that Law itself solicits its own transgression, that it generates the desire for its own violation; our obedience to the Law itself is not "natural," spontaneous, but always-already mediated by the (repression of the) desire to transgress it. When we obey the Law, we do it as part of a desperate strategy to fight against our desire to transgress it, so the more rigorously we OBEY the Law, the more we bear witness to the fact that, deep in ourselves, we fell the pressure of the desire to indulge in sin. The superego feeling of guilt is therefore right: the more we obey the Law, the more we are guilty, because this obedience effectively IS a defense against our sinful desire.
-Slavoj Zizek, "Anxiety: Kierkegaard with Lacan"

What causes anxiety is the elevation of transgression into the norm, the lack of the prohibition that would sustain desire. This lack throws us into the suļ¬€ocating proximity of the object-cause of desire: we lack the breathing space provided by the prohibition, since, even before we can assert our individuality through our resistance to the Norm, the Norm enjoins us in advance to resist, to violate, to go further and further. We should not confuse this Norm with regulation of our intersubjective contacts: perhaps there has been no period in the history of humankind, when interactions were so closely regulated; these regulations, however, no longer function as the symbolic prohibition - rather, they regulate modes of transgression themselves.
- Zizek on the age of anxiety

Anxiety is the only emotion that does not deceive: all other emotions, from sorrow to love, are based on deceit… The feeling of guilt is a fake enabling us to give ourselves over to pleasures - when this frame falls away, anxiety arises. It is here that one should refer to the key distinction between the object of desire and its object-cause. What should the analyst do in the case of a promiscuous woman who has regular one-night stands, while complaining all the time how bad and miserable and guilty she feels about it? The thing not to do, of course, is to try to convince her that one-night stands are bad, the cause of her troubles, signs of some libidinal deadlock - in this way, one merely feeds her symptom, which is condensed in her (misleading) dissatisfaction with one night stands. That is to say, it is obvious that what gives the woman true satisfaction is not promiscuity as such, but the very accompanying feeling of being miserable - that is the source of her “masochistic” enjoyment.
- Zizek on pleasure and guilt: "The Puppet and the Dwarf"

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