Skip navigation

He has me say things saying it’s not me, there’s profundity for you, he has me who say nothing say it’s not me.[1]

                                                                                                                           Samuel Beckett

 1. Surreal Faces of The Unconscious

 In 1916 a group of artists and writers established Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich and started the aesthetic movement now known as Dada. This word was found randomly from a dictionary. But Dadaists did not choose Dada for its meaning, they were completely indifferent to the meaning of the name of the movement. They used the Cabaret Voltaire for their gatherings. The artists known as Zurich Group involved Jean Arp, Tristan Tzara, and Hugo Ball.  An outcome of the loss of meaning in the defeated countries after the First World War, Dada was iconoclastic. It was against all kinds of conservatism, traditionalism, holiness, and everything else that could be an obstacle for individual freedom, including Dada itself. “Do not trust Dada” had said Tristan Tzara. “Dada is everything. Dada doubts everything. But real Dadas are against DADA.”[2] Dada does not believe in absolutes. It does not accept any kind of system. It ridicules every kind of methodology. Tzara’s recipe to write a Dadaist poem is a proof of this.[3] But more importantly, it is in fact an attack on art itself.

Dada, the most radical movement within the European avant-garde, no longer criticizes the individual aesthetic fashions and schools that preceded it, but criticizes art as an institution: in other words, with the historical avant-garde art enters the stage of self-criticism.[4]

            Dada is anti-dogmatic in its strict sense. However, its anti-dogmatism turns into dogmatism. Although Dada had challenged almost everything, it was incapable of liberating imagination because it didn’t take into consideration the role of consciousness and the importance of making conscious choices in the process of creation.

It is obvious that Dada trusts no values. It does not trust language. For it, language is a barrier rather than a bridge. Even André Breton’s claim, who is not exactly a Dadaist, expresses this scepticism.

Language is the worst of conventions because it imposes upon us the use of formulas and verbal associations which do not belong to us, which embody next to nothing of our true natures: the very meanings of words are fixed and unchangeable only because of an abuse of our power by the collectivity.[5]

            For Breton our true natures, if there is such a thing, stand outside language and is often distorted by it. Influenced by Dada and driven by Breton’s theories, Surrealists tried to give imagination free of reason the central role in their works. The Surrealist movement aimed at seeing and showing a superior reality through the unconscious with total disregard to reason. Breton deliberately drew on Freud’s concept of “free association” and theorized a way of making the unconscious accessible without translating its contents into the familiar forms of conscious mind. At the heart of Breton’s theory is the idea that the psychic and the material are one and that the conscious and the unconscious are in constant interaction with one another.

It is not merely that I think there is almost always a complexity in imaginary sounds. (The question of the unity and speed of dictation remains on the order of the day.) I am also certain that visual or tactile images (primitive, unpreceeded or unaccompanied by words, like the representation of blankness or elasticity without intervention previous, concomitant or even subsequent to the words that express them or derive from them) give free access to the unmeasurable region between the conscious and the unconscious. But if automatic dictation can be obtained with a certain continuity, the process of unravelling and linking these images is extremely difficult to grasp, presenting, to the best of our knowledge, an eruptive character.[6]

Breton aimed at putting to use Freud’s method of “free association” to bring to the surface the repressed contents of the unconscious. For Breton the unconscious is a continuous flow beneath consciousness where fantasy and reality dissolve into one another. Breton applied to writing and painting what Freud called the dream-work and free association. For Breton, just as the dream makes the unconscious drives accessible through an operation that produces visual images, automatic writing, in a fashion similar to free association, produces verbal images. Accordingly, automatic writing operates like a dream and provides access to the unconscious without translating the unconscious contents into conscious forms. Breton called this “the real process of thought.” Breton’s attitude towards the unconscious was based on the idea that the unconscious itself is not a stage on which certain drives are visualized but that the brain is a “poetry making organ” that functions as a machine producing words and images in such a way as to render the unconscious drives capable of manifesting themselves in and through language. Breton did not say that what the writer does by automatic writing is representing an always already existing form but that there is nothing accessible to the mind before the unconscious contents are given form. For Breton, giving form to the unconscious contents was not essentially a process of translating one order of meaning into another, but rather, that it is the goal of automatic writing and Surrealism to provide the means to make the unconscious contents accessible. With Surrealism the form itself became the content and inversely. For the Surrealists reason was incapable of representing reality, and there was a superior reality in higher forms of expression. It has been a recurrent theme since Plato that there is a realm that art and poetry provides access to through the madness of the artist or the poet. Surrealists’ suspicious attitude towards reason lead them to an idealization of madness, irrationality, and unconsciousness.

To define Surrealism Breton used two words: Automatism and dream. Breton believed that only automatically recorded dream-visions could give a voice to the unconscious. One should not look at a dream as though one is looking outside a window; one should rather portray the movement of the dream by being inside and outside it at the same time. What is needed is a technique in love with the movement of the hand in touch with the dream. The thought within the dream can only be accessed through a spontaneous and automatic writing. A dreaming thought is not a representation; it is a pure thought uncontaminated by the symbolic order of signs. Dream-thoughts do not make a distinction between raw and cooked, wild and tamed; it shows that a cube has six sides, an eye comes out of its socket, and the dead rise from the grave. Its raw materials are the memory traces manifesting themselves in and through dreams. Erasing the trace of a memory is erasing innocence. And even an erased memory shows itself in the dream as its own negative. It is this showing itself of a memory trace as its own negative that automatic writing helps carry out.

Breton was inspired by Freud’s idea of a “mystic writing-pad” which contains the writing of memory-traces, thoughts coming from somewhere distant and unknown, their movements, their disappearances, and the reappearance of new traces.

It (the Mystic Writing-Pad) claims to be nothing more than a writing-tablet from which notes can be erased by an easy movement of the hand. But if it is examined more closely it will be found that its construction shows a remarkable agreement with my hypothetical structure of our perceptual apparatus and that it can in fact provide both an ever-ready receptive surface and permanent traces of the notes that have been made upon it.[7]

What is most interesting about the mystic writing-pad is that in it are not the traces themselves that are of value but the traces of traces after they are erased. And the dream of Surrealists was precisely recording the traces of dreams. How could one write something that belongs to a completely different medium without altering it?

The texts produced by automatic writing are dream-narratives in their processes of formation. If the dream-world is where all control over consciousness is absent, if the dreams take place in a space-time not yet sacrificed to the symbolic, which, for the Surrealists it always already is, then the automatic creator should strive to unite the self and the space-time and not only write the contents of the dream but also give the texts forms of dreams. With his technique of automatic writing Breton aimed at filling the gap between the signifier and the signified, the subject of statement (enunciated) and the subject of enunciation, the form and the matter of form, with his dreams; and as he strived for uniting the process of giving form and the form given, he, in a Cartesian fashion, deepened the cut between the subject and the object.

            Automatic writing is in pursuit not of turning the subject into the signifier, it is in pursuit of turning the subject into an absolute presence, “the immaculate conception.” Automatic writing destroys the distinction between the signifier and the signified and replaces both of them with itself as the total sign. It goes beyond the difference between the form and the matter; it wants to erase the difference between process of giving form and the form given to the matter.  For Breton, the unconscious is not a signified, it is itself a signifier. And the unconscious is beyond the gap between nature and culture.[8]

            Breton called the products of automatic writing “the unity of rhythm.”[9] The surrealist text and the surreal reality itself have been rendered the same. What is already a signified is imposed upon that which cannot be included in the signifying chain. What Breton didn’t realize is that the unconscious and language are essentially separate from each other, and yet at the same time they are constitutive of one another. They are separate and/but contiguous to one another. Without the one the other cannot be.

Breton wanted to re-establish the unmediated relationship between the object of perception and its representation. To do this he had to remove all consciousness and connect the writing process to an absent cause which would govern the automatic writing process. Instead of imagining, automatism turns the eye into the object of imagination and the subject becomes blind to itself. The subject can touch the psychic only by being blinded by it.  The unconscious engulfs the eye and breaks-down the projection-introjection mechanism; for it leaves nothing between the projected and the introjected objects.

The surrealist image juxtaposes the past and future possibilities; an undivided chain of operations connects the truth of the dream to the truth of the image.  The true image is the fingerprint left on the table, or the trace of water left by the glass on the table and since it is always in the form of a trace from the past it has the potential for opening the subject up to illusions and miracles. The eye looking at the dream or the recording of the dream regresses in time towards a primal state of things.[10] It not only brings out the trauma, it traumatizes the looking eye, and turns the life of trauma into beauty.                    

            The automatic dream is the true beauty, because beauty of the dream neither knows reasons, nor the causes and effects, it is a product of chance and randomness. In this beauty there is something that wants to lose itself in nature instead of merely representing nature. The texts want to turn into the underground caves themselves, the eye wants to go beyond the limits of the visible and see through nature. Surrealism is the text not only of nature and but also of that which is behind or beneath the visibility of nature.

 2. (‘,)A Pineal Eye Soliloquy(‘,)

Mimicry is another definitive word for the operations of Surrealist aesthetics and it enters the scene through the Surrealist publication Minotaure. Roger Caillois defines mimicry as the activity through which the eye becomes a camera reproducing itself as a camera.

[…] life seems to lose ground, to blur the line between organism and environment as it withdraws, thereby pushing back in equal measure the bounds within which we may realize, as we should, according to Pythagoras, that nature is everywhere the same.[11]

            According to the Surrealists, mimicry is able to deconstruct high and low. It is the Cartesian hierarchy that is under attack. In Descartes the eye is given priority over the foot. Mimicry aims at turning the hierarchical organization of the body against itself. Mimicry automatically submits to the environment and that way, the subjects of mimicry believe, the Cartesian subject is turned upside down. Descartes wanted to be certain of everything, and his will to certainty lead him to suspicion and scepticism. To overcome his scepticism Descartes had to question everything around him first. So as soon as he started thinking he was actually thinking against himself. When he said, “I think, therefore I am,” his inner voice was saying this: “To be sceptical requires thinking, and since I am sceptical about everything I must be thinking, and for me to think requires being, therefore I must be.”

            Descartes came to realize that he cannot be suspicious about his suspiciousness. For if he were to do so, he would again be suspicious. But why did Descartes think that he was telling the truth when he said “I think therefore I am”? I can be sceptical about everything but not about the I think. Therefore I cannot be sceptical about “I am.” “I am” cannot exist without the “I think.” So thinking is a precondition of being and since I am thinking then I must be. But what if I were to say, “I am fishing, therefore I am.” You cannot say this, because fishing is not a sign of being. You might be thinking that you are fishing, but might in fact be sleeping and having a dream in which you see yourself fishing. But thinking is different from fishing and dreaming; being and thinking are preconditions of one another.

             What happens when Descartes is thinking of being is consciousness conceiving itself as a thinking being. In Descartes the subject can say “I” outside of language. Descartes does not distinguish between the speaking subject and the object being spoken about. Lacan’s theory that language splits the subject and this split is constitutive of both the cultural subject and the unconscious explains Descartes’ paradox. Descartes thought consciousness could conceive itself directly, without the mediation of language. But this is impossible, says Lacan, for before the acquisition of language there can be no-thought. The subject regresses to Klein’s paranoid-schizoid position and acts on his/her primitive drives. In Klein’s paranoid-schizoid position the dominant drive is the death-drive which pulls the subject towards inorganicity and nothingness under the guise of oneness, Nirvana, and omnipresence, it promises a life at a superior realm of being. Descartes was imagining that he was conscious of his thought, but he was in no way conscious of what his thought symbolically meant.

            When consciousness closes in on itself and thought becomes its own object, the subject and the object are imagined to be integrated. The gap between the subject and the object is filled with language, which actually splits the subject and the object. What Descartes is not conscious of is that language has a role to play in his thinking process. Descartes is not aware that he needs language to even begin to think. And through exclusion of language from the thinking process the Cartesian subject remains locked in a stage almost prior to the mirror stage, a fantasy world of oneness with the universe.

            Just like Christopher Columbus who didn’t realize that he had discovered a new continent, Descartes opens a new field for philosophical thinking but was not aware of what he had done. He didn’t name this new field. In this new field Cogito was establishing itself upon the principle that consciousness is one with itself and at all times thought reveals itself to itself. For Descartes God was a priori to the human subject because for God to exist it has to situate itself in the subject’s mind as God first. Descartes had no thoughts about the role of culture in the formation of the concept of God. And if there was a God that God couldn’t be telling lies for that wouldn’t fit in with the symbolic idea of God. So all the naïve truths Descartes was sceptical about at beginning, such as that there is a transcendental world beyond consciousness, must have been true. With this thought in mind Descartes declared that being and thinking are one and the same thing.

            The Surrealists who see themselves beyond Hegel and Nietzsche intend to overcome the Cartesian mind-body dualism, but do, and fail in achieving, that which is almost exactly the opposite of what they intended to do. Instead of stressing the gap between the signifier and the signified, the subject and the object, they ridiculously act out what they say they are criticizing. Their only difference from Descartes is their attempt to freeze the movement of thought while for Descartes there was no movement of thought at all, the thought was always already static. While Descartes was saying, “this is one,” and pointing himself out, the Surrealists are saying, “this one is not the one it appears to be.”

Although the Surrealists borrowed the concept of pineal eye from Descartes, they used it against him. With this pineal eye One looks outside and feels like what One sees is inside. The distance between One’s eye and the object of vision does not exist. That which you see on the surface of the outside is the depth of the inside. The depth of the inside is at the same time the depth of the outside. The depths and surfaces of the insides and outsides are one and there is no boundary of this “one.” This One creates its limits as it goes beyond them. It is its crime, punishment, and prize at once. The constitution and the breaking of the law that it writes for itself take place at the same time. The crime and the execution of the punishment are one. The limit, the law, the wall, the borderline, the boundary, the edge do not exist prior to the act that breaks through them. The diversions created in and through language set the limits of what language can do to one, and what One can do with language, to language, to the world, to oneself. One becomes an act of contemplation in the process of opening up new passages through which language can flow through and fill one. Full with and surrounded by language, one as language, contemplates itself and fills itself with what it contemplates. Words flow through the passages opened up by the movements of thought and time created by and creating new contents of expression. The new contents of expression are at the same time new forms of thought. The forms of thought are at the same time the contents of thought. Language practices what it preaches. The expression and the expressed are one. Language is a sea the shores of which are the edges of language. This, however, does not mean that there is nothing conceivable beyond the shore. The shores and their extensions are the homes of others’ ways of being in relation. And neither in nor through language can One reach that which is beyond for there is no going beyond of language as such but as much. Language perpetually dissolves into not nothingness but into something inconceivable. That inconceivable is the void that one attempts to render conceivable as it goes along the way in and through language and yet does the reverse of what it is aiming at.

3. Is Pineal Eye an Organ Without a Body?

            The pineal eye is not the organ that turns two different perspectives into one. But rather it attempts to turn the reality inside out so that the objects, instead of becoming visible through reflecting light, themselves overflow their objectivities and generate light. The Surrealists aimed at precisely this kind of a process through automatic writing. They aimed at replacing the objective reality with another subjectivity that would go beyond the polar opposition between the subject and the object. Surrealism tries to attain inorganicity through becoming inorganic. It desires nothing, rather than willing nothingness. It is a movement governed by the death drive rather than being the governor of the death drive.

Bataille at first looked at the Surrealists with sympathy, but before long he came to understand that it was nothing other than a false pretentiousness. Bataille says,

If we were to identify under the heading of materialism a crude liberation of human life from the imprisonment and masked pathology of ethics, an appeal to all that is offensive, indestructible, and even despicable, to all that overthrows, perverts, and ridicules spirit, we could at the same time identify surrealism as a childhood disease of this base materialism: it is through this latter identification that the current prerequisites for a consistent development may be specified forcefully and in such a manner as to preclude any return to pretentious idealistic aberrations.[12]         

            To understand why Bataille is so angry with the Surrealists, and especially with Dali, we have to go back to the roots of this distress caused by the attempt to show that the subject and the object are one. Bataille compares the prefix Sur at the beginning of Surrealism and Nietzsche’s Surhomme. For Bataille, what is common to both Nietzsche and the Surrealists is that they both in vain strive for a higher world, and yet since Nietzsche at least inverts his attitude and attempts to revalue all values including his own. Whereas Surrealism is a hopeless case in that all they do is to devalue everything valuable. For Bataille, the Surrealists are merely a group of people making themselves ridiculous and being the objects of nervous laughter.

Bataille doesn’t agree with the Surrealist’s understanding of beauty and meaning in art and literature. It is true, both the Surrealists and Bataille are obsessed with turning things upside down, turning the low into high and the high into the low. The difference between the Surrealists and Bataille is not only aesthetic but also ethical, a stance linked to Bataille’s concept of transgression as he puts it in parenthesis in his critique of Salvador Dali’s Lugubrious Game.   

(If violent movements manage to rescue a being from profound boredom, it is because they can lead—through some obscure error—to a ghastly satiating ugliness. It must be said, moreover, that ugliness can be hateful without any recourse and, as it were, through misfortune, but nothing is more common than the equivocal ugliness that gives, in a provocative way, the illusion of the opposite. As for irrevocable ugliness, it is exactly as detestable as certain beauties: the beauty that conceals nothing, the beauty that is not the mask of ruined immodesty, the beauty that never contradicts itself and remains eternally at attention like a coward.)[13]

            For Bataille what the Surrealists do is to provoke the pre-dominant authority in such a way that can only be considered as the manifestation of ill-will. Bataille, consciously or unconsciously, uses Nietzsche against the Surrealists although he seems to be putting them in the same category for their aspirations to higher Ideals. Although Bataille sees idealisation both in Surrealism and Nietzsche, he nevertheless underlines the different means they employ to attain those higher Ideals. In both Nietzsche and the Surrealists the unconscious is filled with archaic images of Ancient Greek Mythology, but in Nietzsche these are adjusted to the demands of the present, whereas even in Breton’s writings we see sheer rage manifesting itself through exploitation of the death-drive in that the process of slashing myth and language into pieces aims at attracting punishment.

            What Bataille does in his Critique of Surrealism and Nietzsche is to turn the human subject upside down and instead of idealizing higher realms he, in a way, idealizes the lower realms. Bataille situates himself in a realm lower than the realm of the law.

By excavating the fetid ditch of bourgeois culture, perhaps we will see open up in the depths of the earth immense and even sinister caves where force and human liberty will establish themselves, sheltered from the call to order of a heaven that today demands the most imbecilic elevation of any man’s spirit.[14]

            Bataille’s main target is the Icarian flight which he sees both in Nietzsche and the Surrealists. As we know, Icarus didn’t obey his father’s No, and tried to fly and touch the sun. Eventually he burnt himself up. The Icarian conception of imagination as flight from reality leads to an idealization of the bourgeois values disguised as the proletarian values, and the real lower world is pushed further down. For Bataille, the reason why people see the foot as inferior to the head is their habit of attributing a higher status to the vertical forms of thought. Man should fall on his four legs, otherwise he will never be able to write himself out not only as the writer but also as the written, not only as the seer but also as the seen.

Bataille’s attitude reminds Lacan’s theory of the passage from the imaginary to the symbolic. For Lacan the Symbolic law, the Name of the Father who says No to the desiring child plays a dominant role in participation in the symbolic order and eventually becoming a sexed subject who is able to distinguish between the me and the not me. In Lacanian terms, Nietzsche and the Surrealists are locked in the mirror stage where Descartes is a respected inmate. As Breton says, “There, the atmosphere and light begin to stir in all purity the proud uprising of unformed thoughts. Man, restored to his original sovereignty and serenity, preaches there his own eternal truths, they say, for himself alone.”[15]

 4. Artaud, Deleuze and the will to nothingness

I close the eyes of my intelligence and, giving voice to the unformulated within me, I offer myself the sense of having wrested from the unknown something real. I believe in spontaneous conjurations. On the paths along which my blood draws me, it cannot be that one day I will not discover a truth.[16]                    

 Artaud does not call for destruction of reason through the imaginary but an affirmation of reason’s self-destruction on the way to self-creation. There is a knowledge which Artaud is in pursuit of without knowing what that knowledge is and what purpose it serves. Artaud is always in pursuit of this unattainable and ungraspable knowledge and he knows that, as he is trying to give it a voice, he is moving away from and towards it at the same time. This movement of the action and the intention in opposite directions, that is, this turning against itself of desire, is a thought that Artaud feels with his body but cannot express through articulable forms. Artaud makes the inarticulable visible through costume, lighting, etc., and tries to create a psychic materiality. 

 When you will have made him a body without organs,

             then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom

           then you will teach him again to dance wrong side out

           as in the frenzy of dancehalls

          and this wrong side out will be his real place.[17]

Artaud feels the body as an externally organized structure and experiences existence as pain because he feels his body to be restricted and subjected to forms it is not willing to take at all times. By disorganizing the body through putting its organs to different uses, to uses other than they have come to be put, within the organizing structures, Artaud induces agony in himself. Desiring to become inorganic, and this is a desire for an impersonal death, an “ungraspable” knowledge, this striving for infinity within the finite, is, paradoxically, at once the product and the producer of his affirmation of life as it is, that is, as “a process of breaking down…” as the American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald puts it in his The Crack Up. In The Logic of Sense Deleuze reads Fitzgerald’s The Crack Up with Kleinian eyes and says that identification is peculiar to manic-depressive states. In The Crack Up Fitzgerald says,

I only wanted absolute quiet to think about why I had developed a sad attitude toward tragedy—why I had become identified with the objects of my horror or compassion… Identification such as this spells the death of accomplishment. It is something like this that keeps insane people from working. Lenin did not willingly endure the sufferings of his proletariat, nor Washington of his troops, nor Dickens of his London poor. And when Tolstoy tried some such merging of himself with the objects of his attention, it was a fake and a failure…[18]

Deleuze affirms Fitzgerald’s manic-depressive attitude towards the relationship between life and death in the Porcelain and Volcano chapter of his The Logic of Sense.

If one asks why health does not suffice, why the crack is desirable, it is perhaps because only by means of the crack and at its edges thought occurs, that anything that is good and great in humanity enters and exits through it, in people ready to destroy themselves—better death than the health which we are given. Is there some other health, like a body surviving as long as possible its scar, like Lowry dreaming of rewriting a “Crack Up” which would end happily, and never giving up the idea of a new vital conquest?[19]

In a world ruled by fools full of ill-will war becomes inescapable. Since war, conflict, violence and destruction are interior as much as they are exterior affairs, it is hardly a matter of bad luck that we will be wounded at some point if we haven’t been already, not that I wish it to be that way. An injury either creates a possibility of relating to the world as it is, or turns into an obsession with the self, into a delusional and rigid vision of existence projected onto the real, giving birth to neurosis or psychosis.

We do not write with our neuroses. Neuroses or psychoses are not passages of life, but states into which we fall when the process is interrupted, blocked, or plugged up. Illness is not a process but a stopping of the process, as in “the Nietzsche case.” Moreover, the writer as such is not a patient but rather a physician, the physician of himself and of the world. The world is a set of symptoms whose illness merges with man. Literature then appears as an enterprise of health.[20]  

If we have a look at “the Nietzsche case” once again with Kleinian eyes through a Deleuzean looking glass we see that the mechanism of projection-introjection is itself the illness of which resentment and bad conscience are the causes and the symptoms at the same time. In the case of projection the subject’s illness is manifested as aggressiveness and hostility towards the external world, always accusing the others for his weaknesses. This is the paranoiac who is afraid of being persecuted and sees the external world as a threat to his unity. Afraid of the external world, he himself becomes hostile towards it in turn provoking hostility against himself, thus giving birth to the actualisation of what he was afraid of. And in the case of introjection the subject internalises the fault and turns against itself. This is the psychotic who identifies with everything and everyone, and who has too many points of view together with a divergent coherency of thought and action. Intending to take a spoon from the drawer he might break a plate on the floor. In the first case there is a detached hostility and in the second case there is an immersed attachment. In both cases the subject becomes the victim of his own actions against and toward himself and others.

Nietzsche says that the will to nothingness eventually turns against itself and becomes creative and revalues all values to survive death. It is through writing as the patient and the physician, as the analyst and the analysand at the same time that Nietzsche is able to turn resentment, bad conscience, fear, and guilt against themselves and produce desire as affirmation of the world as it is after a conflict that is interior as much as it is exterior to the self. This conflict is the crack up that happens to the body of the organism. It is neither interior nor exterior, but a “surface event.”    

There was a silent, imperceptible crack, at the surface, a unique surface Event. It is as if it were suspended or hovering over itself, flying over its own field. The real difference is not between the inside and the outside, for the crack is neither internal nor external, but is rather at the frontier.[21]

            It was on and through his disorganized body, or body without organs, that Artaud traversed the realm of affective intensities and the field of partial objects and produced desire without an object. For Deleuze the process of traversing the affective intensities felt through body rather than grasped by the mind may be the returning of a “great health.” Here objects are related to in such a way as to produce desire not as lack but as production. For Deleuze it is the production of fantastic visions of the world that are the causes and effects of certain pathological conditions. Bombarded with unattainable objects of desire the subject becomes mad.

            In both Freud and Lacan the attitude toward the object of desire is Platonic in that the object of desire is the object of desire as long it remains unattainable. To put it in Lacanian terms, with the acquisition of language the subject starts to enter the symbolic order and loses touch with the Real which is the unconscious. His desires and drives are shaped and organized according to the Symbolic order of the language game in which he finds himself. So the direction the subject’s becoming will take depends not only on the way in which the subject relates to language but also how he relates the unconscious to language, since it is one’s production of a sense of oneness for oneself in and through language that determines one’s way of being in relation to language. Language is neither internal nor external to the subject and yet it is equally internal and external to the subject since language is the surface in-between. Beyond language there is nothing. Deleuze observes a movement of language towards its outside, not to reach the outside of language, but to create an outside language within language in writers such as Kafka, Beckett, and later Kerouac(The Subterraneans, Big Sur). For Deleuze, their subversions of syntax become their passage through the fleshy transparency of signification unless the process of production through the unconscious forces of the outside is blocked.

All writing involves an athleticism, but far from reconciling literature with sports, or turning writing into an Olympic event, this athleticism is exercised in flight and in the breakdown of the organic body—an athlete in bed, as Michaux put it.[22]

Deleuze sees the goal of literature as giving a voice to those unconscious forces that belong to a realm outside of language and those forces can only be given a voice by creating an impersonal consciousness through a new language within language – an outside language inside the language – that traverses the field of partial representations of the human condition and produces an other sign that is itself at once internally exterior and externally interior to the major order of signification. The outside of language is the realm which Deleuze calls “the transcendental field of immanence.” It is through this synthesis of transcendence and immanence that Deleuze is theoretically able to touch the material through the psychic, and the real through the fantasy. But the problem persists, for the question remains: how are we going to practice this theory? Is it practical enough to be applied to the banalities of ordinary life?

In his book, On Deleuze and Consequences, Zizek bases his critique of Deleuze on his use of Artaud’s concept of the body without organs. As is clearly understood from the subtitle of his book, Organs Without Bodies, Zizek’s aim is to reverse the Deleuzean order of things. With his well known 180 degrees reversals, Zizek uses Deleuze’s idea of a resistance to Oedipalization against him, and that way shows that Deleuze’s assumption that Oedipalization is something to be resisted is based on false premises. For Zizek, Oedipalization takes place when and if there is a failure in the system. Zizek considers Anti-Oedipus to be a book in which Deleuze and Guattari situate a psychotic and an Oedipalized subject on the opposite poles of one another. For Zizek a psychotic is the Oedipalized subject par excellence, rather than being an anti-Oedipe who escapes the codes of capitalist axiomatics.

[…] far from tying us down to our bodily reality, “symbolic castration” sustains our very ability to “transcend” this reality and enter the space of immaterial becoming. Does the autonomous smile that survives on its own when the cat’s body disappears in Alice in Wonderland also not stand for an organ “castrated,” cut off from the body? What if, then, phallus itself, as the signifier of castration, stands for such an organ without a body?[23] 

What for Deleuze is traversing the symbolic becomes traversing the fantasy in Lacan as Zizek pointed out first in The Sublime Object of Ideology and later in The Ticklish Subject. Traversing the fantasy is a stage in the process of progress and it is only upon entry into the symbolic that the subject becomes capable of initiating change in the symbolic order. In Lacan’s mirror stage where a series of imaginary Narcissistic identifications prepares the subject for the symbolic order, the child has an illusory sense of oneness and yet this illusion is necessary only in so far as the child will traverse this fantasy and will have learned to look at the world without identification.

A detachment from identification is common to both Deleuze and Zizek and in this sense they are both Lacanians. Lacan is the one that unites them as he splits them. For Deleuze the Lacanian symbolic is that in which the subject finds itself upon birth, so to initiate change the subject should try to introduce an exterior inside, a new language within language. Deleuze tries to put language in touch with a pre-verbal, if not pre-linguistic stage. It is to Klein’s paranoid-schizoid position that Deleuze attributes importance. Deleuze takes the schizoid part of the paranoid-schizoid position and extracts from schizophrenia all apart from introjection and splitting processes. Following Klein Deleuze makes a distinction between introjection and identification. According to Deleuze introjection and splitting are useful tools for creating difference, whereas identification not only preserves but also serves the system. Zizek agrees with him on the usefulness of introjection and splitting. In both cases the revolutionary-becoming is associated with the death drive. But Zizek disagrees with Deleuze’s association of introjection and splitting with schizophrenia.

For Zizek there must be a distance between reason and non-reason. One should not try to name the unnamable, but rather one must show the nothingness outside everything, to do this one must introduce a split into the symbolic continuity of things. An interruption of the system from within is the aim of both Zizek and Deleuze, and yet while Zizek affirms non-representability of the unconscious, Deleuze sees the unconscious as the producer of difference and initiator of change. For Deleuze the unconscious is dynamic, but for Zizek it is static and it is this static state outside time that manifests itself in the form of gaps within the symbolic order; it splits and interrupts the flow of things, rather than participate in it.

What does Oedipalisation mean? It means the production of a subject who would willingly blind himself to the social reality. Who would rather see nothing rather than see the truth. An Oedipalised subject is he who blinds himself to the symbolic meaning of things and chooses to see the nothingness before or after the symbolic. It is the symbolic that Oedipus represses by blinding himself to it. That he has engaged in sexual intercourse with his mother and killed his father, induces such guilt in Oedipus that he punishes himself by cutting himself off from the external world. This Oedipal introversion of the subject leads to a weakening rather than a strengthening of the subject’s fantasy world. With the exclusion of reality, fantasy has nothing to mediate. Unconscious drives cannot attach themselves to external objects so as to turn into desire. Left hanging in the air the unconscious drives turn against the subject and the subject becomes self-destructive, blinding himself to the symbolic, thus opening himself up to the nothingness behind it by choosing to see nothing. An Oedipal subject closes his eyes and seeing the nothingness inside says there is nothing outside. He is Nietzsche’s man, as he puts at the beginning and the end of On The Genealogy of Morality, who “would much rather will nothingness than not will.” For he still wills, otherwise he wouldn’t want to blind himself to it all. It is because he cannot help willing although he doesn’t want to will that his will turns against itself and wills nothingness rather than something to stand in for it. 

It is Nietzsche’s legacy to have made a distinction between the subject and the signifier, knowledge and truth. By exposing the absence of an origin of knowledge he exposed the absence of truth in knowledge. Nietzsche inverted into the spotlight the nothingness inherent in knowledge which is constitutive of a truth outside scientific knowledge. Truth can take many forms and one of these is poetic truth, which Nietzsche considers to be closer to the absolute truth, which is the truth of the absence of truth at the center of scientific knowledge.

For Nietzsche there is no relation whatsoever between the object of knowledge and the truth of experience. Perhaps what Deleuze would years later call transcendental empiricism explains the production of truths alternative to the scientific truth which claims to be objective and absolute. For Deleuze literary activity involves creation of impersonal consciousnesses within the subject of writing. The subject of writing should detach himself/herself from the object of writing; that is, the writer should make a distinction between the enunciated and the subject of enunciation. As Deleuze puts it in his essay, Life and Literature, “literature is not a personal affair.”  Literature is not about writing down one’s personal experiences as they actually took place, which is impossible anyway. Literature involves selecting from experience and giving form to formless experience which is yet to take the shape of new forms of experience. Out of the old experience one creates new experience.

The writer turns unnamable drives into new symbolic meanings and new objects of desire. With Deleuze the unconscious is given a very important role to play in the process of cultural production. The non-symbolizable drives interacting with one another and forming what is called the unconscious are turned into comprehensible and desirable forms through literature. Literature contributes to the symbolic order by producing not only new symbolic meanings of the already existing objects but also new objects which didn’t previously exist within the symbolic order.  Literature, therefore, turns the unconscious drive into the symbolic desire. So Deleuze could say the unconscious produces desire. Literature is about turning the pre-verbal — if not pre-linguistic — objects into verbal objects with symbolic meanings attached to them. Literature constructs a world in which the objects gain new significance.

 5. Artaud and The Shaman

A shaman is he who makes the patient identify with himself through the use of certain devices which activate the unconscious. The shaman takes the patient on a journey through himself; he plays the role of the mediator between the symbolic and the real. The shaman populates the unconscious with monsters and evil creatures, in other words with bad objects, and teaches the patient to struggle with them. In a way what a shaman does is to traverse the fantasy and take the patient with himself/herself to the realm after the fantasy is traversed. Once the fantasy is traversed his/her unconscious drives start to make sense for the patient. The shaman’s therapeutic procedure, therefore, involves reattaching the patient to the signifying chain, by giving him/her objects to represent his suffering. To be attacked by a monster with flames coming out of its mouth stands in for the unnamable internal bad object.  For a shaman the most important thing in therapy is to help the patient get in touch with the unconscious which is populated by mythological monsters. What a shaman actually does is to invite projective identification and show the way out of the field of partial bad objects. At the end of the journey the patient becomes capable of seeing a continuity in his life and therefore gains a sense of illusory oneness.

            Artaud was deeply involved in finding ways of manipulating the unconscious. Just like a shaman Artaud aimed at directly communicating with the spectator’s unconscious. To achieve this Artaud advocated the use of physical objects in the way of touching the psyche. Artaud’s materialism paradoxically transcends the physical. The concept of Theatre of Cruelty  implies a cruelty on the psyche through the affective use of the physical objects on the stage. These included, audio and visual imagery, costumes resembling slashed open bodies, unorthodox lighting, unnamable voices coming from nowhere, representing pain. Artaud’s attitude was so aggressive that he even surpassed the Surrealists. Although at the beginning he was close to the Surrealist movement, and he carried the project of automatic writing to its limits in his poems, Artaud was soon expelled from the Surrealist movement. For Artaud they were only game players rather than actors. They failed in acting upon the world and fell victim to their pursuit of a superior realm beyond the physical.

            Artaud’s vision is a much more materialist one than that of Surrealists who populated the unconscious with figures from Ancient Greek Mythology. For Artaud Breton’s literary and theoretical texts were not radical enough, they could even be considered conventional. Artaud’s objective was to dissociate the spectator from the social reality and make it impossible for him/her not to associate himself with the action on the stage.  In a way, Artaud wanted to take the spectator into the act, rather than merely play a solipsistic game excluding the role of the spectator. Artaud showed the third eye between the eye seeing the inside and the eye looking outside. For Artaud identification is the key to the heart and the soul of the spectator, for identification process surpasses rational thought. For Artaud even the breathing of the actor is important to create affective intensities.

[…] (Breathing) allows the spectator to identify himself with the performance breath by breath, and bar by bar… All emotion has organic bases. It is in cultivating his emotion in his body that the actor recharges the density of its voltage. Knowing in advance which parts of the body one wants to touch means putting the spectator into magic trances.” (163)

 6. Beckett

Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this saying it’s me? Answer simply. It’s the same old stranger as ever, for existence, of his, of ours, there’s a simple answer. It’s not with thinking he will find me, but what is he to do, living and bewildered, yes, living, say what he may.[24]   

 Yes, there are moments, like this moment, when I seem almost restored to the feasible. Then it goes, all goes, and I’m far again. With a far story again, I wait for me afar for my story to begin, to end, and again this voice cannot be mine. That’s where I would go, if I could go, that’s who I would be, if I could be.[25]

In Texts For Nothing the narrative voice turns its resentment in the face of having no-identity, that is, for being incapable of changing the course of events in the way of having an identity, and prefers not to will at all, to will nothing, rather than will nothingness. Beckett conforms to Nietzsche’s famous saying about Nihilism: “man would much rather will nothingness than not will.” This is not an impoverishment of the will, rather, it is itself a will to nothing which turns Beckett’s writing into a motionless flight, a static genesis, and at the same time a movement of thought which spirals around and within nothing, in the process turning the absence of something conceivable into a neutral voice through which silence eternally speaks and engages in a non-identical relation with the world surrounding it. 

In Waiting for Godot there is nothing at the centre of the subject; no one comes, no one goes, nothing takes place. That place is the side of a road where there is a barren tree, and there Vladimir and Estragon share an aloneness, an intimacy. They give the impression that they have been there for hundreds, or even thousands of years, associating by their clothes with Charlie Chaplin’s persona, “the universal vagabond.”

Vladimir: […] To all mankind they were addressed, those cries for help still ringing in our ears! But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late! Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us. […] But that is not the question. What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come–[26]

 In Waiting for Godot Beckett continues his project of purgation, or purification through reduction of life to its bare bones. According to Alain Badiou, as he puts it in his book On Beckett, to achieve this reduction of life and truth to their most naked forms, in his novels Beckett had to write thousands of pages in the way of wiping the slate clean and getting rid of the non-generic details of daily social life. To open up a space within the existing order Beckett had to unwrite the symbolic order in the way of subtracting the Symbolic from the Real. By situating Vladimir and Estragon in the middle of now-here, which he shows to be nothingness, Beckett gives voice to the Real of being, which is non-being. Beckett shows that at the centre of the subject there is a hole. The split introduced by Beckett in-between the subject and the signifier shows the subject and the signifier as constituted by a lack of a third party outside them. There is the absence of something in-between the fantasy and the social reality and the subject is this non-being constituted through and as the gap separating them. The subject is an effect of language, and yet this effect manifests itself only in the form of gaps, absences, cuts. That is, the subject manifests itself only in the form of a negativity from the perspective of the big Other. For the big Other excludes nothingness and death. The big Other wants subjects that are something within the symbolic order.

 What Alain Badiou has written about Beckett’s writing at the time of Texts for Nothing becomes relevant here.

With extraordinary lucidity, they tell us of the nothingness of the attempt in progress. They come to the realisation, not that there is nothing (Beckett will never be a nihilist), but that writing has nothing more to show for itself. These texts tell us the truth of a situation, that of Beckett at the end of the fifties: what he has written up to that point can’t go on. It is impossible to go on alternating, without any mediation whatsoever, between the neutrality of the grey black of being and the endless torture of the solipsistic cogito. Writing can no longer sustain itself by means of this alternation.[27]

It is in this context that Beckett’s Texts For Nothing, Waiting for Godot and Lacan’s theory of the subject coincide. At the root of this coincidence is a shared way of being in relation to the unconscious and death.

After being subjected to purgatory in his novels, Murphy, Watt, Moran, Molloy, Malone and Mahood are finally shown to be the embodiments of a split subject constituted by two clowns who have no role to play, their selves separate from their consciousnesses, talking to but not with one another. Vladimir and Estragon are both no one and everyone, none of the existing things and yet all that there is left.

The relationship between Vladimir and Estragon is in the form of a conversation with no centre, for both of the subjects of this conversation are constitutive of one another. The gap that separates them is the constitutive non-relation between them.  Beckett has taken almost al the measures required to concretely present the journey of being in time as being outside time. It is from Vladimir and Estragon’s perspectives that we see the nothingness outside the frozen image of two vagabonds in their immobility. It is from this gap that new thought emerges; out of this nothingness arises a generic multiplicity. Beckett stages this generic multiplicity by employing the asymmetrically dialectical encounter with the other. To do this he had to remove the character configuration and logical plot development, if not the pattern, from the scene of theatre. Reduced to their minimal needs the Beckettian characters confront the symbolic order and challenge the immutability of Cartesian discourse. Of the One, there is almost nothing left in Beckett’s work.

Man has nothing left to say and yet if he stops saying this nothingness the sublime objects will fill the unconscious and occupy a space that should remain empty. Vladimir and Estragon know that although they are not integral parts of each other they nevertheless cannot do without one another. They are doomed to share this irreconcilable and endless movement against themselves. As they speak they are moving further away from their intended meaning, and yet if they ever stopped saying words they would be immediately in touch with the Real which would be inordinately painful.

The Real of desire is a mystery even to the subject which can only be spoken around and yet never about; this nothingness at the centre of the subject should remain unoccupied for the subject to survive trauma and get free of the past. Freedom cannot be freedom if it is not experienced as a forced-choice. For freedom is the right not to choose to do something; saying, “This is not it!” And yet what is there to do but choose the least worse of all the alternatives. And rather than not will, for that would be total destruction for them, Vladimir and Estragon choose to will nothingness; as empty shells they shall remain free of the symbolic order by introducing a split between one another, within themselves, and between themselves and the social reality.

What’s at stake in Beckett’s project is finding the ways and the means of presenting a time outside time, another space, something unnamable outside the existing symbolic order. Beckett’s meaning is very fragile and it is precisely this fragility that makes a new beginning possible. Governed by the death drive the subject splits the given unities and continuities, introduces splits between the past and the present, and out of this tireless and yet exhausted activity of splitting new signs, signs of other signs, emerge.

Vladimir: […] Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the gravedigger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. [He listens.] But habit is a great deadener. [He looks again at estragon.] At me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, he is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on. [Pause.] I can’t go on! [Pause.] What have I said?[28]

Pozzo: [Suddenly furious.] Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day like any other day, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day he’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, in the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? [Calmer.] They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more. [He jerks the rope.] On![29]

Only in one single instant all is lived and died. But this single instant takes a lifetime to pass. For Beckett its end comes when one confronts death. The characters in his Trilogy, Molloy, Malone, and finally the Unnamable, are all narrating their processes of deterioration, they are trying to give a voice to that time-space where it all ends and yet something other than the all of life in the symbolic order begins. Beckett writes how subject and the death-drive overlap. But he writes this event in such a way that this overlapping of the subject and the death-drive turns into a life force and splits the given unities including the Cogito. After all is said and done away with there emerges the not-all, that which remains after all is said. To say this not-all one has to expose the void within the symbolic order, to show that this void is constitutive of the symbolic order, and that without it all meaning would collapse. What happens in Beckett, therefore, is the process of self-deconstruction which shows the inconsistencies within the text and uses these inconsistencies against the intended meaning of the text. In Beckett we see that in the place of the transcendental signifier there is nothing. The subject is portrayed empty and the subject becomes a signified itself, an empty signifier, a signifier that signifies nothing but is itself signified. So where there was the transcendental signifier now there is nothing. As itself a signifier. We can see how it becomes possible to say the unconscious is a signifier, or as Lacan would say, “the unconscious is structured like language.”

 7. Krapp’s Last Tape

It is a characteristic of Beckett’s plays to give the impression that there is nothing outside the stage. In Beckett’s plays God is never allowed to die altogether, but rather God is made to be felt by the audience as his absence, as the nothingness outside the stage. Krapp’s Last Tape is a good example of this recurring presence of God as an absence in Beckett’s plays. It is very rare not to have a couple, or more than one couple in Beckett’s plays, and Krapp’s Last Tape comes especially handy as a Beckett play with a single individual in it; locked in the past and trying to figure out not only how he has become what he is, but also why he is in general. There is no concern at all with the future in Krapp’s Last Tape, unlike Endgame for instance, where Hamm and Clov, although they don’t seek salvation from misery, they at least, just like in Waiting for Godot, expect a message from without, from some unknown external source about which they know nothing as to its relation to their future. They do strive for the unattainable knowledge of the nothingness outside. It is as though all their thoughts, actions, and speeches are governed by the nothingness off the stage. Whereas in Krapp’s Last Tape there is no sign of will, rather than willing nothingness, Krapp prefers not to will at all.  

The tape recorder is the projection-introjection machine in Krapp’s Last Tape. Krapp is now introjecting what he had projected over the years, likewise the tape recorder is projecting what it had introjected over the years. This change of roles between machine and man reflects a perhaps often-neglected aspect of Beckett’s work, that aspect being the ambivalence of Beckett’s relation to projection-introjection mechanisms as exemplified by the tape recorder in Krapp’s Last Tape. Krapp oscillates between rejecting the past and affirming it.

During the sixties we see Beckett’s plays getting shorter and shorter, and the subject deprived of the unity of mind and body, the conscious self and the unconscious. Beckett’s progressively shortens the text and moves towards theatrical, or visual expression. The characters’ experience on the stage is limited to people once able to live dramas and capable of remembering those dramas. Dispersal of the subject, disappearance of the body, the subjects reduced to bodies in jars, to a mouth, or merely a voice, are some of the characteristics of Beckett’s final period of writing. Now his characters are no more capable of doing anything other than trying to remember those days in which they could still express their thoughts and feelings on stage.[30]

At the beginning of Krapp’s Last Tape Beckett announces that it is “a late evening in the future. Krapp’s Den. Front centre a small table, facing front, i.e. across from the drawers, a wearish old man: Krapp.”[31]

Krapp is an old and lonely man. He is shown on his 69th birthday listening to tapes he had recorded on his previous birthdays. As usual he will listen to the tapes and then record his voice telling what happened throughout last year. Krapp is the analyst and the analysand at the same time. He listens to his past from his own mouth through the speakers.  The play opens with Krapp who has always lived alone, reducing his life to a few physical actions carried out in a ritualistic way. This is Krapp’s daily routine; a few meaningless actions. Sometimes Krapp goes inside and drinks, eats a few bananas, takes a few steps in his “den,” and as he says, he sleeps with the old bitch who comes around once in a while.

Krapp lives his life neither by writing his mind games as Molloy and Malone do, nor talks as Hamm and Clov do. Krapp has no memory at all. Besides, he does not construct stories for himself. His tapes are his memory. But like all the other Beckett characters engaged in a play of consciousness Krapp deconstructs his story by using the rewind, play, and f.forward buttons. All that remains is a mass of misery pieces of which are not even imperfectly remembered, a multitude of unrelated and disconnected thoughts and impressions about the past.

Throughout the play we watch the three stages of Krapp’s life. The most important stage is the one narrated by the voice of Krapp at 39. The tape he recorded at the age of 39 contemplates the tape that he had recorded at 29, and Krapp at the age of 29 contemplates the period corresponding to his youth. And all the past periods of his life are judged by Krapp at the age of 69, which is “the present.”

Krapp at the age of 29 looks down on his youth and at times mocks himself for being the way he was. He is very happy to have done with that earlier period of his life. That Krapp at the age of 39 does not remember that he used to sing shows that he does not want to remember those unhappy days of childhood and adolescence. Krapp at the age of 29 is at a stage in his life where he has to make choices and decide what to do with his life. (This is matter of laughter for Krapp at the ages of 39 and 69).

One of the most important decisions Krapp has to make is the one concerning breaking his habit of drinking and giving up alcohol. At this stage we see young Hamm from Endgame meeting Krapp. Krapp tells his story using numbers and statistical information. A numerical exactitude in his narration is clearly discernible. One other important decision that Krapp has made at 29 is about reducing the intensity of his sexual life. Perhaps that is why he broke up with Bianca. (However, Bianca’s loving gaze is remembered by Krapp even when he is 39). Krapp’s 29th year passes in search of happiness and eventual frustrations. 29 years old Krapp’s tape ends with a call to God to show himself? To this call to God Krapp at 39 (on the tape) and 69 (on the stage) laugh. According to Krapp at 39, from that miserable year there is nothing left apart from that lost lover.

In Endgame Hamm and Clov are the father and son repelled and yet attracted by one another at the same time. They can do nothing with or without one another, or they can neither do, nor not do anything with and without one another.

The stage decoration is such that considering the on-stage activity as taking place within a head is easy and helps to understand what Beckett and we with him are dealing with here. The portrait hanging on the wall is turned towards the wall and the two windows facing the external world are sufficient signs to associate the stage as the inside of a man’s head, with the spectators watching the play from behind the split open head. This is signified by the portrait of the father on the wall looking towards the wall with the nothing behind the picture turned towards the stage and the spectators. At some point in the play Clov even attempts to communicate with the spectators, he turns towards and addresses the spectators, which shows us that Beckett was trying to make this point clearer by making the audience aware of the inverted projection-introjection mechanism that they are caught in. In all his plays and novels, one way or another, Beckett achieves inverting the projection-introjection mechanism into the spotlight. And he achieves this precisely by putting under a magnifying glass the failures within the projection-introjection mechanism.

What Beckett wants to say by employing these unorthodox techniques in theatre is simple and yet sophisticated. He wants to say that to escape from the Cartesian mind-body dualism and the mechanistic view of the world associated with it one has to create an imbalance between the projecting side and the introjecting side, between apprehension and comprehension.

            The creation of imbalance can take the form of either an excessive projection of the imaginary and the symbolic onto the real, or a lack of projection resulting in total introjection. In the first case the subject loses himself in the chaos of the real, and in the second case the subject loses touch with the real and becomes a totally imaginary and symbolic construction. In both cases there is a loss of gap between the imaginary and the symbolic. And when the imaginary and the symbolic become one the real in-between them becomes impossible to be in touch with.  In Dissymetries Badiou repeatedly and recreatively points out that Beckett is not divided into two but into three. To use Derrida’s words, “one plus one makes at least three.”  

Intermediation 3

In the previous chapter we have seen how the Uncosncious has been put to use in literary creativity by various movements. In this time of fragmentation and loss of oneness, the stable identity is replaced by a subject who embodies the life drive and the death drive in a state of conflict with one another which causes inordinate anxiety in the subject as a result of the antagonism producing structure of the pre-dominant symbolic order. And this subjectivity is as yet not capable of investigating the source of its inner conflict for fear is continually instilled in the subject through the capillaries of the pre-dominant symbolic order. Unless we realize that it is the fear of death that lies at the heart of this anxiety we cannot come to terms with death and reconcile ourselves to life. Once the subject comes to terms with death and is reconciled to life, it becomes possible for the subject’s critique of the existing social order to subsist within the intersubjective field beyond objectivity and subjectivity. I think this critique would be much more effective than the one that is directed, at all costs, against the “external world” in general.

If people think about the same subject with the same words all the time, then they are using the same part of their brains in the same way at all times. This means that while many neurons in their brains remain unused, inactive for a long period of time, always and only the same neurons interact in the same way all the time. Needless to say in time stupidity and narrow-mindedness dominate their thought processes. To solve the problem of narrow-mindedness a sort of short circuit between the neurons is required.  In the next chapter I shall attempt to show how literature helps to break down the already existing neural connections and form new neural and synaptic connections in the brain.


[1] Beckett, 23

[2] C. W. E Bigsby, Dada and Surrealism (London: Methuen, 1972), 7

[3] Tzara: “Take one newspaper. Take one pair of scissors. Choose from that newspaper an article of the length desired for the poem you intend to write. Cut out the article. Next cut out with care each of the words forming that article. Next put them in a bag. Mix gently. Take out one by one each excision in the order they fall from the bag. Copy carefully. The poem will resemble you. Voila, there you are , an infinitely original poet of a seductive sensibility, even if still not understood by the vulgar.”  Quoted by Renato Poggioli, The Theory of The Avant-Garde, trans. Gerald Fitzgerald (Massachussetts and London: Harward University Press, 1982), 190

[4] Richard Murphy, Theorizing the Avant-Garde: Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 7

[5] Quoted by Bigsby, 26

[6] Andre Breton, “The Automatic Message”, in What is Surrealism? Ed. and trans. Franklin Rosemont (London: Pluto Press, 1978), 105-9, quoted from Poetry in Theory, ed. Jon Cook (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 190

[7] Sigmund Freud, On Metapsychology, trans. James Strachey, ed. Angela Richards (Penguin, London: 1984), 431

[8] Lacan thinks differently on the same subject. For Lacan the split between nature and culture, the subject and the object are constitutive of both the subject and the object. The object of psychoanalysis, according to Lacan, is the unconscious. There have been criticisms against Lacan’s idea of the unconscious as the object of psychoanalysis. One of these could be saying that The unconscious is itself a product of the psychoanalytic discourse, how can it be thought separate from psychoanalysis?   

[9] André Breton, Der Surrealismus und die malerei, 76

[10] Breton, 121

[11] Roger Caillois, The Edge of Surrealism, ed. Caludine Frank, trans. Claudine Frank and Camille Naish (London: Duke University Press, 2003), 102-3


[12] Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess, “The ‘Old Mole’ and the Prefix Sur in the Words Surhomme and Surrealist,” ed. and trans. Allan Stoekl (Monneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1994), 32

[13] Bataille, 27

[14] Bataille, 43

[15] Andre Breton, What is Surrealism?, ed. trans. Franklin Rosemont (London: Pluto, 1978), 28

[16] Antonin Artaud, Selected Writings, ed. Susan Sontag (Berkeley: University of California, 1975), 92

[17] Antonin Artaud, Selected Writings, ed. Susan Sontag (University of California: Berkeley, 1975), 570-1

[18] F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack Up (New York: New Directions, 1945), 69

[19] Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale, (London: Continuum, 2003),

[20] Gilles Deleuze, Essays Critical and Clinical, transl.Daniel W. Smith and Michale A. Greco (London and New York: Verso, 1998), 3

[21] Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale, (London: Continuum, 2003), 155

[22] Gilles Deleuze, Essays Critical and Clinical, transl.Daniel W. Smith and Michale A. Greco (Verso: London and New York, 1998), 2

[23] Zizek, 83

[24] Beckett, Texts for Nothing (London: John Calder, 1999), 22

[25] Samuel Beckett, 24-25

[26] Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, 74

[27] Alain Badiou, On Beckett, ed. and trans. Alberto Toscano and Nina Power (Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2003) 15

[28] Samuel Beckett, Complete Dramatic Works, “Waiting for Godot” (London: Faber and Faber, 1986), 84-5

[29] Beckett, Waiting For Godot, 83

[30] Linel Abel, Metatheatre (New York: Hill and Wang), 82

[31] Samuel Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape, “Complete Dramatic Works” (London: Faber and Faber, 1986), 215


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: