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What we witness in this time is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World turning into Rave New World. A world in which the well known and the so called lines between mind and body, fantasy and reality, nature and culture, organic and inorganic, life and death, are not just blurred, but have completely disappeared. And yet, at the same time, these lines are in the process of reappearance.

Here’s another ENCHANTING POST from D.C., referring to a bit of my stuff, and a bit of Badiou, Žižek, and Brassier. … Read More

via Object-Oriented Philosophy



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.[1]

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.[2]

In Texts For Nothing the narrative voice subverts its subject’s 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 reverses Nietzsche’s famous saying about man and 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–[3]

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.[4]

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 all 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?[5]

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![6]

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.”

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

[2] Beckett, 24-25

[3] Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot,” The Complete Dramatic Works (London: Faber and Faber, 1990), 74

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

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

[6] Beckett, Waiting For Godot, 83

parεıdolıac claustrophılıa . .

Image by jef safi via Flickr

“With respect to this Other, depending on this Other, the subject is inscribed as a quotient, he is marked by the unary trait of the signifier in the field of the Other. Well, it is not for all that, as I might say, that he cuts the Other into slices. There is a remainder in the sense of division, a residue. This remainder, this final other, this irrational, this proof and sole guaranteee when all is said and done of the otherness of the Other, is the o [objet a]. And this is why the two terms, $ and o [objet a], the subject as marked by the bar of the signifier, the little objet o as residue of the putting into condition, if I can express myself in this way, of the Other, are on the same side, both on the objective side of the bar [my emphasis], both on the side of the Other. The phantasy, the support of my desire, is in its totality on the side of the Other, $ and o. What is on my side now, is precisely what constitutes me as unconscious, namely -O- [the barred Other], the Other in so far as I do not reach it.” (Lacan, Seminar of 21 November 1962, Gallagher translation)

Some Remarks About Fantasy In Seminar 10, L’angoisse, Lacan makes an intriguing remark about the position of the barred subject and objet a with respect to the Other. There Lacan writes… Read More

via Larval Subjects .

When the phone rang restlessly, whatever this means, Dr. Lawgiverz was sipping his dry red wine and smoking his hand rolled Havana cigar as if everything in the world was absolutely normal and nothing extraordinary was in progress concerning the workings of the universe. It wasn’t his wife calling out of love to propose reunification, it wasn’t the Japanese scientist calling out of friendship to share his latest invention in the field of astrophysics which might have led to a ground breaking new discovery of an uncharted territory, a new dimension of being even, it wasn’t Genesis calling out of urgency to lay the foundation of their new pattern of action, their new strategy against the forces of evil, it was, rather, a subject we have hitherto neglected to mention due to unncessity, a subject who was capable of radically changing the course of events and open new fields in and through which our uncanny narrative could unfold. “Hello?” said Dr. Lawgiverz with an inquisitive tone of voice, and received an equally inquisitive “hello?” from the other end of the line. It all seemed as though something quite surprising, if not altogether shattering, was about to happen to say the least. Now, we may or may not opt for delaying the soon to be made public conversation between Dr. Lawgiverz and the mysterious character who has just been introduced into our narrative, but as we are aware of the demanding readers, who, even god doesn’t know in which circumstances are reading this book, we will not even consider choosing the negative option, which is that of opting for delaying the truth. Quite the contrary, we shall reveal all in no more than a few sentences. Accordingly, “I’m the president of the United States of the World Platform, and I hope it is Dr. Lawgiverz with whom I’m speaking,” will say and has already done so, the mystery man who has lost all his mysteriousness with these words. “It is indeed,” said Dr. Lawgiverz with a sarcastic and/but somehow even more inquisitive tone, this time reflecting a worry as well on behalf of the speaker. “The reason I’m calling you, doctor, is that we have gathered information which we think might be of interest to you regarding the recent developments in world history, and especially the history of science and philosophy.” “Don’t you consider philosophy to be a science in-itself? Or do you consider it an inferior science, a thing of the past, which should rather be left to extinction in the long forgotten pages of history?” asked Dr. Lawgiverz as if this had any relevance at all to the issue at stake here. “Whether philosophy is a science or not is of no interest to us, sir,” said the voice at the other end of the line and continued, “what’s of interest to us is your relationship, or correlation, as you and the likes of you would put it, to the newly emerging philosophical movement called Speculative Realism, which, no doubt goes beyond a mere interest in new possibilities of philosophizing and touches upon a fundamental and highly sensitive issue concerning the relationship between the meaning of life and the state of world politics today. Now, it would be understandable if you only touched upon this issue, but you go much further than that and recklessly intervene in world economics, manifesting itself in the form of capitalism, the most developed form of economics known to man up until now. As is clear to us, your intentions are much more sinister than they appear to be, to cut a long story short, doctor, we are convinced that your primary objective is to shake the foundations of humanity’s very own mode of being itself. Am I right or am I right?” “No need to get uptight with me mister president. I understand that you have done your homework extremely well, but I wonder if you really have any proof at all to sustain your unjustified accusations.” “I assume you are forgetting with whom you are talking mister doctor. If I had no proof to justify my accusations, as you put it, with what authority do you think I would have the courage, or to put it more bluntly, the guts, to call and accuse you of being the mastermind behind these conspiracies?” “I don’t know about that, sir,” said Dr. Lawgiverz and added, “but if there’s one thing I surely know, it’s that I don’t even know whether you really are the person you say you are, calling me in the middle of the night and speculating endlessly about my intellectual life and the conspiracies behind which I’m the mastermind. Correct me if I’m wrong, but how am I supposed to know that you are not a psychotic reader who has not only just happened to read one or more of my books, but who also happens to think he has solved the riddle just like that?” “Well, you obviously cannot know that, what’s more, you are not supposed to know that anyway. So why don’t you just stop presenting yourself as someone who is supposed to know everything.” “I must admit, I’m having difficulty relating to you.” “Perhaps that’s because you are an anti-correlationist, as you would put it.” “I think there is a grand misunderstanding here. Anti-correlationism has nothing to do with two individuals having difficulty communicating with one another. As a matter of fact, what’s at stake in anti- correlationism is much more profound than that. I don’t know if it’s necessary to get into details, but let me at least say just this: anti-correlationism is not a state of mind, or a state of situation, as Badiou would put it, rather, it is a mode of being and thinking, which is driven by a will to think non-reflectively and non-determinatively, that is, to think objects as they are in themselves, rather than they are for mortal humans. Anti-correlationism proposes that it is possible and necessary to think and speculate on a world independent of human thought and/but engagingly indifferent to the symbolic reality. In short, it is an attempt to traverse the fantasy and touch the Real, as Lacan would have put it if only he was alive, which he did when he was.” “How would a human do that, if I may ask?” “You surely may ask, and the answer you get would be that natural sciences and mathematics have already been doing that for centuries. It is only a matter of finding, or rather, creating a new language that would do(express) the same in and through words, rather than the symbols of mathematics, chemistry and physics.” “I didn’t call you to engage in philosophical and scientific discourse doctor. You are a suspect and my duty is to warn you that if you continue your sinister acts, you will regret being alive and capable of thought. Good bye!” “Good bye, sir.”

<em>Objet a</em> and the Veil  Eumerdification

Over at Pagan Metaphysics, Paul has posted a couple of great quotes from Dennett’s Breaking the Spell. Hopefully he won’t mind if I reproduce his post here. Paul writes:

I was reading through Dennett’s Breaking the Spell again yesterday and came across an endnote that raised a laugh. Dennett is reflecting on the value and uses of incomprehensibility, mystification and paradox in religion, specifically as mechanisms for bedazzling the mind (effective marketing strategies or tools of transmission), when he notes in a side comment his first secular experience of this phenomenon.

My introduction to this somewhat depressing idea came in 1982, when I was told by the acquisitions editor of a major paperback publishing company that her company wasn’t going to bid for the paperback rights for The Mind’s I, the anthology of philosophy and science fiction that Douglas Hofstadter and I had edited, because it was “too clear to become a cult book.” I could see what she meant: we actually explained things as carefully as we could.

OK, not funny so far (although perhaps evoking a knowing smile). Dennett then proceeds to explain a related story.

John Searle once told me about a conversation he had with the late Michel Foucault: “Michel, you’re so clear in conversation; why is your written work so obscure?” To which Foucault replied, “That’s because in order to be taken seriously by French philosophers, twenty-five percent of what you write has to be impenetrable nonsense.” I have coined a term for this tactic, in honor of Foucault’s candor: eumerdification. Read More

via Larval Subjects .

Cover of "The Dead Zone (Special Collecto...

Cover via Amazon

It is early 1974, “in Washington, Richard Nixon was being pressed slowly into a corner, wrapped in a snarl of magnetic tapes. […] In Room 619 of the Eastern Maine Medical Center, Johnny Smith still slept. He had begun to pull into a fetal shape.”[1]

In Stephen King’s novel The Dead Zone, adapted to cinema by David Cronenberg, the main character Johnny Smith stays in a coma for five years. He wakes up to a cold winter to find himself with a limp, and separated from his girlfriend. Johnny starts to see evil everywhere; he reads the consequences of the evil thoughts in people’s minds across time. A sense for evil, together with an ability to see the past, the present and the future, means it becomes impossible for Johnny to bear the burden of being in the world. He comes to realize that what he thought was an extraordinary psychic power is in fact an evil curse which makes life inordinately painful. Willing to escape from this unbearable situation that is turning him into the playground of good and evil, he falls deeper into the trap of a monstrous man, Gregg Stillson, the embodiment of evil in the world, who finds out Johnny’s secret and wants to abuse it. Johnny takes the wrong turn, because he didn’t know that “the dreadful had already happened.” Directed by the monstrous man he “wills nothingness rather than not will,” and dies a tragic death at the end.  

Little by little this brawny young dock-walloper had severed his connections with the world, wasting away, losing his hair, optic nerves degenerating into oatmeal behind his closed eyes, body gradually drawing up into a fetal position as his ligaments shortened. He had reversed time, had become a fetus again, swimming in the placental waters of coma as his brain degenerated. An autopsy following his death had shown that the folds and convolutions of his cerebrum had smoothed out, leaving the frontal and prefrontal lobes almost utterly smooth and blank.[2]       

Johnny’s rearrival, his return from the unconscious to the conscious state, from the land of the dead to the world of the living, with extraordinary psychic powers, a sense of omnipotence which turns out to be the source of death, is described by King in terms of a rebirth, a coming out of the womb after the second (nearer) death experience.

Johnny Smith is at first almost exactly the opposite of a clinical and criminal psychotic. Johnny does not identify, he refuses to believe in other worldly things, there is no struggle between good and evil in his world, in his world there is no evil, no third party. In Johnny’s world there is only him, Sarah, and their “eternal love.”  Living in an illusory heaven, Johnny is unaware of the dangers surrounding him, but in King’s world the evil shall surely show his multiple faces to scare the hell out of those people.

After the tragic and yet banal accident Johnny becomes a clinical but not a criminal psychotic. Johnny identifies himself with Jesus, he refuses to believe in the world as it is, there begins a constant struggle between good and evil in his mind. He has lost Sarah and their eternal love, and the evil forces surrounding their earlier happiness prevail. Johnny’s illusory heaven becomes an illusory hell. As usually happens in King’s world the evil shows his multiple faces and scares the hell out of the reader.

King’s novels are cathartic in a very Aristotelian sense of the word. And yet it’s precisely this cathartic effect disguised as subversive and critical of the established order that reproduces the order and produces psychotic replicas. King is a very unique example of how monstrous a unification of the therapeutic and the critical can be. There are two traumatic incidents leaving their traces on his life as Johnny goes along the way towards death. In this novel which is difficult to categorize as “horror” unless that is what horror actually is, Johnny Smith finds himself in an unbearable situation that sends him to an early grave. What seems to him to be a gift of life turns out to be a gift of death. Johnny is cursed by a “second sight” after two banal accidents, one in early childhood, one in adolescence, which submit him to the domination of the “power” of his wounds. And with the already there circumstances, that is, a society dying to believe in “the power of the wound,” “apocalypse,” “return of the living dead,” “transcendental experiences” and so on, Johnny becomes a tragic, Christ-like hero who feels compelled to sacrifice himself for the deliverance of salvation to the people. His mother sees it as an occasion for celebration that Johnny is mortally wounded when they tell her that he is in a coma: “God has put his mark on my Johnny and I rejoice.”[3]                  

Choose, something inside whispered. Choose or they’ll choose for you, they’ll rip you out of this place, whatever and wherever it is, like doctors ripping a baby out of its mother’s womb by cesarian section.[4]

And in accordance with the demands of his “inner voice,” Johnny Smith, in The Dead Zone, chooses resurrection. After five years of deep coma Johnny wakes up to a nightmare and finds himself as the one whose destiny it has become after two banal accidents of life to set things right and prevent heaven’s becoming hell. King knows that the reader’s assumption is that there is something inside to be protected from the external threats. The desire of the reader is the desire of the threat as external rather than internal to the self. King satisfies the reader’s desire by giving him/her the most beloved son Johnny as the gift: “the gift of death” as Derrida would have put it. Johnny fulfils the reader’s desire not only for an external threat but also for a saviour hero from within, one of “us.” Johnny emerges from his coma as the embodiment of the Christ-like figure, King’s son, whose mission it is to die and preserve the heaven-like qualities of this small American town in particular, and the universe in general.

 Upon his return to the symbolic order, from the unconscious state of coma, Johnny finds himself surrounded by people who are trying to exploit his extraordinary psychic powers, confronted with what Freud, in On Narcissism, calls “hallucinatory wishful psychosis” on a social level. It’s as though the whole society is in the grip of a paralysis and through their collective hallucination they cling to life. And Johnny becomes not only the thread tying them to their illusions, but also the one who preserves those illusions by sacrificing himself. Since this aspect of Johnny’s melodramatic story is more precisely expressed in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of the novel, I now turn to Cronenberg’s film.

Cronenberg emphasizes that Greg Stillson is the man who is the manipulator, the one who creates and sells illusionary images of himself. In Cronenberg’s film Johnny’s visions are placed directly in opposition to Stillson’s fantastic images of self. Towards the end of the film, Johnny, no more able to stand the half-dead life he is living in isolation, decides to put his visions to a good use. He attends one of Stillson’s campaigns and shakes Stillson’s hand to see into him. What Johnny sees is Stillson as the evil president of the future, who has the fate of the whole world in his control. Johnny sees him pressing the button of a nuclear bomb behind closed doors. Finally Johnny makes up his mind and at a later Stillson campaign, this time in a church, attempts to assassinate Stillson. Sarah is there with her baby, and she notices Johnny just as he is about to pull the trigger. Distracted by Sarah’s cry, Johnny misses the target. Stillson takes Sarah’s baby and holds it up as a shield against Johnny’s bullets. Meanwhile Johnny is being shot by Stillson’s guards. A photographer takes Stillson’s picture while he is using the baby as a shield and this picture becomes the front cover of the Time magazine, not only ending Stillson’s career as a politician but also leading him to suicide.    

In the film the atmosphere is extremely melancholic. Johnny is portrayed as a much more repressed, melodramatic individual who at the same time has a romantic vision of life. The traumatic incident, the time he spends in the dead zone, magnifies his will to transcend his body which he sees as a source of agony. He pushes himself further towards isolation to escape from the increasingly sharpening visions. Remember that Johnny sees in the past, present, and future of other people through touching them. Touching another person is a cause of pain for Johnny. As his visions sharpen and turn into sources of pain he moves away from intersubjectivity and towards introversion. It is one of the characteristics of Romanticism to consider trauma, suffering, pain, disaster as possibilities of transcending the flesh. In Cronenberg’s “romanticism turned against itself” we see exactly the opposite. In Cronenberg after the traumatic incident it is a regressive process that starts taking its course, rather than a progressive movement towards eternal bliss. The problem with Cronenberg’s inversion of romanticism is that he still sees the movement towards eternal bliss, towards jouissance as progressive; the difference between the classical romanticism and Cronenberg’s inverted neo-romanticism is that Cronenberg considers that progress to be impossible.

It is at the sight of their condition, upon the realization of the situation they are caught in, that Cronenberg’s characters recoil in horror. And it is at the sight of this that Cronenberg expects the spectator to recoil in horror in a fashion similar to his characters.


[1] Stephen King, The Dead Zone, (London: TimeWarner, 1979),100

[2] King, 82

[3] King, The Dead Zone, 71

[4]King, 111

İdeoloji bireylerin gerçek varoluş koşullarıyla kurdukları hayalî ilişkinin bir temsilidir.[1]

İdeoloji maddi bir varoluşa sahiptir.[2]


Beyin bir ekrandır.[3]


Rüya, Fantezi, ve Film

Eğer film ve gündüz düşü, film ve rüyaya kıyasla, daha doğrudan bir rekabet halindeyseler, ve eğer birbirlerine karışıyorlarsa, bu, ikisinin de gerçekliğe uyum sağlama noktasında -ya da, diğer yönden bakacak olursak, bir regresyon noktasında- yani, aynı anda ortaya çıkmalarından kaynaklanır: rüya çocukluğa ve geceye aittir; film ve gündüz düşü daha yetişkindirler ve güne aittirler, ama gün ortasına değil – daha çok, akşama.[4]

Hayalî Gösteren’de Christian Metz sinema ve bilinçdışı arasındaki ilişkinin oldukça önemli bir yönüne dikkat çeker. Rüya çocukluğa, geceye, bilinçdışına, Gerçeğe dairdir; bunun yanı sıra, film ve fantezi yetişkinliğe, simgesele, ve bilince aittir; yine de, bu bilincin kendisi akşama aittir. Aslında Metz’in söylemek istediği, sinemanın bize birçok şey göstermiş olmasına rağmen bizden aynı zamanda birçok şey saklamış olduğudur; çünkü her film Gerçeğin üzerindeki bir örtüdür, projektörden tek bir ışık demeti çıkar ve sinematik aygıtın loşluğunda kişi adeta hipnotize edilmiş gibidir, gösterilene yarı-bilinçli bir şekilde bakakalır.

Kendinizi bir sinema salonunda oldukça rahat bir koltukta otururken hayal edin. Bu an, öteki insanlardan oluşan bir kalabalığın arasında, karanlıkta, sessizce oturmayı kabul edeceğiniz o oldukça nadir anlardan biridir. Tek ışık kaynağı, imgeleri beyaz perdeye yansıtan projektördür. Beyaz perde yansıtılan ışığı hareketli resimlere dönüştürür ve siz de büyük bir hayretle bu resimleri izlersiniz. Rahat koltuğunuzda, dingin ve edilgensiniz, ve hareket etme kabiliyetiniz bir dış güç tarafından kısıtlanmıştır. Bu haliniz, gerçeklik ve rüyalar âlemi arasındaki yarı-uyanık kişinin haline oldukça benzemektedir. Bir film seyretmek, uyanık olmaktan uyku haline geçmeye benzer. Bir seyirci olarak izlediğinizin gerçek olmadığının farkındasınızdır, ama yine de bunun tamamıyla kurgusal olmadığına kendinizi ikna edersiniz. Bir film izlerken, tıpkı tam da uyanmak yahut tam da uyumak üzere olan birine benzersiniz.

Rüya malzemeleri, tıpkı sinemanın malzemeleri gibi, görsel ve işitsel imgelerdir. Ne var ki, rüyalar ve filmler arasında üç temel ve göstergebilimsel fark vardır. Hayalî Gösteren’de Christian Metz, bu farkları şöyle sıralar:

[…] öncelikle, öznenin yapmakta olduğu şeye dair eşitsiz bilgisi; ikinci olarak, gerçek algısal materyalin mevcudiyeti ya da eksikliği; ve üçüncü olarak, hakkında şimdi konuşacağımız metinsel içeriğin kendine ait (film veya rüya metnine ait) bir nitelik.[5]            

            Bütün bu farklar, öznenin uyanıklık derecesine bağlıdır. Uykuda bütünsel yanılsama söz konusudur; özne rüyanın metninde bir rol üstlenebilir. Fakat sinemada, özne kendini perdede göremez, elbette filmde oynayan aktör veya aktrislerden biri değilse. Sinemada sizinle gördüğünüz arasında bir mesafe koyan bir gerçeklik hissi vardır. Uyanık olduğunuzda, izlediğinizin kurgusal olduğunun bir noktaya kadar farkına varırsınız.

            Metz’in dikkat çektiği ikinci fark, algının maddesinin varoluşuyla ilgilidir. Sinematografik imge, gerçek bir imgedir; görsel ya da işitsel bir maddeden yapılmış bir imgedir. Rüyada, rüyanın maddesi yoktur, rüyanın materyali tamamıyla yanılsamadan ibarettir, dışsal bir nesne olarak varlığı yoktur.

            Üçüncü fark, filmin metinsel içeriğine dairdir. Bir rüyayla karşılaştırıldığında, kurgusal film çok daha mantıklıdır. Eğer David Lynch gibileri bir kenara ayırırsak, filmin planı genellikle seyircinin beklentilerine uyum gösteren bir sırada gelişir. Gelgelelim, rüyada, herhangi bir plan yoktur, çünkü kimse başka bir kimseye herhangi bir şey söylemiyordur. Rüya hiçbir yere ait değildir.

Sinema ve rüya arasındaki bu farkları ortaya koyduktan sonra, Metz bir başka terim ortaya atar. Bu Freud’un ‘Tagtarum’ dediği bir nevi bilinçli fantezi olan gündüz düşüdür.[6] Gündüz düşü filme daha yakındır, çünkü gündüz düşü gören, fantezi kuran öznenin bilinci bir noktaya kadar işlemektedir. Dahası, gündüz düşleri de uyanıkken tecrübe edilmektedir. Filmin mantıklı bir  yapısının olmasının nedeni, aktörlerin, yönetmenlerin, ve seyircilerin tümünün uyanık olmasıdır. Bir filmi yapmak ve izlemek, bilinçli, bilinç-öncesi, bilinç-altı psişik süreçleri içerir. Fantezi kurmak da bu üç psişik süreci içerir, fakat bir film, bilinçli seçimler sonucu üretildiğinden, belli bir amaca sahiptir ve belli bir anlamı iletmek ister; ne olacağı önceden planlanmıştır, ve her bir detayı yazılmıştır. Öte yandan, fantezi kurmak içerisinde boşluklar ve bağlantısızlıklar bulunduran tamamıyla psişik bir süreçtir. Fantezi kurduğumuzda, niyetimiz bir başka kişiye belli bir anlamı iletmek değildir. Her iki süreçte de Metz bir tür iradi simülasyonun işlediğini düşünür. Gündüz düşünü gören de, film izleyicisi de gördüklerinin yahut tahayyül ettiklerinin gerçek olmadığının bilincindedirler; fakat yine de tam tersi bir durumun söz konusu olduğuna kendilerini inandırırlar.

Hem film izleyicisi, hem de gündüz düşçüsü, gerçeklik ilkesinin yerine haz ilkesini koyarlar. Her iki durumda da kişinin görmekte veya hayal etmekte olduğunun gerçekten gerçekleşmekte olduğu yönündeki bir yanılsamaya dair gönüllü bir inanç vardır. Bu inanç olmadan, fantezi kuran ya da film izleyen öznenin herhangi bir haz duyması mümkün değildir. Bu etkinliklerin tek amacı, tatmin edici olmayan gerçekliği telafi etmektir. Fanteziler ve filmler toplumsal gerçekliğin destekleyicileridir; onlar sayesinde Gerçek uzakta tutulur, ve özne ile hiçlik arasındaki boşluk korunur. Hiçlik simgesel düzene içkindir. Rüya gören öznenin bilinçdışınca yönetilmesi gibi, sinema seyircisi ve fantezi kuran özne de Gerçeği bir haz kaynağına dönüştürüp simgesel düzene tercüme ederler. Film yapımcıları doğrudan seyircinin bilinçdışıyla iletişim kurmayı denerler. Hedefleri bilinçdışıdır ve bilinçdışı itkilere denk düşen imgeler bulurlar. Bilinçdışını oluşturan da tam bu denkleştirme sürecidir, çünkü bilinçdışı itkilerin adlandırılmasını önceleyen hiçbir şey yoktur. Sinema itkilerin nesnelerini metafor ve metonomi kullanarak toplumsal olarak kabul edilebilir ve simgesel olarak anlaşılır biçimlere sokar.

Lacan’a göre, metafor yoğunlaşmanın, metonomi ise yer değiştirmenin ürünüdür. Bu iki ifade biçiminin çok etkili olmasının sebebi, bilinçdışının işleyişine literal olandan daha yakın olmalarından kaynaklanır. Dolayısıyla, Lacan, “bilinçdışı dil gibi yapılandırılmıştır,” diyebilmektedir.

Gördüğünüz gibi, hâlâ bu “gibi”yi (like/comme) koruyarak, bilinçdışı dil gibi yapılandırılmıştır derken ortaya koyduğumun sınırları içerisinde yer alırım. Bilinçdışı bir dil tarafından yapılandırılmıştır dememek için, “gibi” derim -ki her zaman bu noktaya dönerim.[7]  

Böylece, metafor kavramı bastırmanın bir ürünü olarak belirir ve bir imgenin daha etkili olacak bir başka imgeyle yer değiştirmesini içerir. Metonomi bir nesnenin bütününü temsil etmesi için o nesnenin bir kısmını kullanmanın ürünüdür. Metafor ve metonomi bilinçdışı ve toplumsal gerçeklik arasındaki boşluğu doldurur. Onlar, bu iki dünya arasındaki aracılardır.

“Bildiğimiz haliyle sıradan gerçeklik, derisi soyulmuş etin ve değiştirilebilir maskenin proto-ontolojik Gerçeğine karışır.”[8] Zizek, John Travolta ve Nicholas Cage’in başrolleri paylaştığı Face/Off filmine gönderme yapar. Bu filmde, Travolta ve Cage kendilerini, ne yaparlarsa yapsınlar kendi kendilerine karşı koydukları bir durum içerisinde bulurlar. Birbirlerinin yüzlerine sahiptirler. Mesaj, yüzlerinin ardında Gerçeğin, derisi soyulmuş etin, bizi kendimizle özdeşleştirecek koca bir hiçin bulunduğudur. Toplumsal gerçeklik ve Gerçek arasındaki boşluk açılmıştır ve her iki adam da kendilerini düşmanlarının rolüne bürünmüş halde bulurlar. Yüzün kendisi Gerçeği saklayan maskeye dönüşür. Burada, maskenin Gerçeği temsil eden bir metafor olması değil, yüzün Gerçeği temsil eden bir metonomi olması söz konusudur.

Bu eksikliğin ortaya çıkışından önce (sinema gösterenine hâlihazırda çok yakınız), çocuk, büyük bir endişeden kaçınabilmek adına, inancını iki kat artırır (bir başka sinematik özellik) ve bu noktadan itibaren sonsuza dek iki çelişik fikre sahiptir (gerçek algının her şeye rağmen etkisiz olmadığının kanıtı).[9]

Bazı filmlerin bu iki çelişik konumu birbirinden ayırmadaki başarısızlığı, bu filmlerin iyi etkilerinin nedeni olur. David Lynch filmlerinde sıradan gerçekliğin Gerçeğe karışması sürecini gözlemleyebiliriz. Mulholland Drive’da, Hollywood kariyerinin başlangıcında genç bir aktrisi görürüz. Film onun dağılma sürecini anlatır. Hayalî, simgesel, ve gerçek kademe kademe birbirine karışır ve aktris de kurgusal olan, zihninde olan, ve toplumsal olan arasında ayrım yapabilme yetisini yitirir. Ancak filmin sonuna geldiğimizde, onun gerçek durumunun farkına varırız. Hayatının planını Hollywood’un kurgusal dünyasında kaybetmiştir. Bu kaybın açtığı alanı doldurmak için, uyuşturucu ve alkol bağımlısı olur, ve daha fazla uyuşturucu kullandıkça, iç alan daha da büyür, ve iç alan daha da büyüdükçe, bilinçli seçimler yapması imkânsızlaşır.

gaps in and out of thought… the void is growing…

Yansıtmalı Özdeşim ve İçe Yansıtma

Klein içe yansıtılmış nesneler ile içsel nesneler arasında bir ayrım yapar. İçsel nesneler, hem içe yansıtılmış nesneleri, hem özdeşim nesnelerini, hem de a priori fantezi imgelerini içerir. Klein’a göre, içe yansıtma, çocuğun korkutucu iç dünyasından kaynaklanan endişe ve korkuya karşı bir savunma mekanizmasıdır. Çocuk kendini kötü, saldırgan, ve eziyet edici nesnelerle doluymuş gibi varsayar ve dışarıdan iyi nesneleri içe yansıtmayı dener. Bir başka deyişle, çocuk içsel kötü nesnenin yerine dışsal iyi nesneyi koymaya çalışır. Dolayısıyla, içe yansıtma yalnızca benliğimi değil, aynı zamanda içsel iyi nesneleri korumaya yarayan bir savunma mekanizmasıdır.[10]

Klein bilinçdışı fantezinin bütün psişik süreçlerin temelini oluşturduğunu iddia eder. Fakat Freud’a göre fantezi kurmak sinir bozucu ve tatmin etmeyen gerçekliği telafi eden bir savunma mekanizmasıdır. Klein bilinçdışı fantazmatik üretimin içgüdüsel süreçlerin tezahürü olduğunu düşünür. Klein’ın perspektifinden, bilinçdışı toplumsal gerçeklikte olup bitenle irtibatı olan daha etkin ve üretken bir dinamizme dönüşür. Klein’ın keşfinin önemi, çocuğun henüz hayatının başlangıcından itibaren toplumsal gerçeklikle nasıl da yakından ilişkili olduğunu göstermesidir. Çocuk annesine döner ve bilinçdışı onu çevreleyen nesnelerle ilişki kurma yoluyla bilince yönelir. Klein’a göre, çocuğun ilişki kurduğu ilk dışsal nesnelerden biri anne memesidir. Çocuk açlıktan ötürü, ve başka bir iletişim aracı olmadığından, ağlamaya başlar. Anne, çocuğun süt istediğini anlar. Annenin göğsünden gelen sütle karşılaşan çocuk, açlık sorununa çözüm teşkil eden dışsal bir iyi nesnenin varlığından haberdar olur. Fakat sütün akışının kesintiye uğramasıyla birlikte, açlığın da etkisiyle, çocuğun aklı karışır. Çocuk memeyi kötü bir nesne olarak görür ve daha saldırganlaşır. Süt geri geldiğinde ise, çocuk hem kötülüğün kaynağına, hem de iyiliğin kaynağına saldırdığını fark eder. Böylece çocuk her nesnenin hem iyi, hem kötü olduğunu kavrar; nesnenin nasıl kullanıldığı onun tikel iyiliğini ya da kötülüğünü belirler. Önemli olan, toplumsal gerçeklikle nasıl bir ilişki içerisinde olunduğudur.

Hayatın ilk yılında, içe yansıtma ve bölünme baskındır; çocuk ölüm itkisince yönetilir; bu itki, rahmin sağladığı ve organizmanın her türlü ihtiyacının organizmanın hiçbir çaba sarf etmesine gerek kalmadan sunulduğu kapalı mekân ve zamana dönüşün imkânsızlığı karşısında yaşanan düş kırıklığına cevaben ortaya çıkar.

Ölüm itkisiyle başa çıkabilmek için, özne saldırganlığının bir kısmını anne tarafından temsil edilen dış dünyaya yansıtır. Sonuç olarak, çocuk dış dünyayı kendi içinde bölünmüş bir dünya; kendi içlerinde iyi veya kötü olmayan, başka nesnelerle ilişkilerinde iyi-leşen veya kötü-leşen iyi ve kötü nesneleriyle dolu bir dünya olarak tanır. Yansıtmalı özdeşim çocuğun hayatın zorluklarıyla başa çıkabilmek için kullandığı bir başka savunma mekanizmasıdır. Yansıtmalı özdeşimle birlikte, benliğimi ve içsel iyi nesneleri dışsal kötü bir nesneden gelebilecek olası bir saldırıya karşı korumak için, çocuk içsel kötü nesnelerini dışsal iyi nesneye yansıtır. Çocuk dışsal iyi nesneleri, dışsal kötü nesneleri, içsel iyi nesneleri, ve içsel kötü nesneleri hep birbirine karıştırır. Her şey iç içe geçtikçe, çocuk kendine ve dış dünyaya karşı saldırganlaşır. Bu zor durumla başa çıkabilmek için, çocuk dış dünyaya bütünlükler yansıtır ve iyi ile kötü arasında bir ayrım yapmaz. Bu da çocuğun ölüm itkisince yönetilen halden, yaşam itkisiyle yönetilen hale geçtiği anlamına gelir.

Gelişimin üçüncü aşamasında, depresif konum vardır. Depresif konumla birlikte, çocuk, içinde bulunduğu içe yansıtma ve yansıtmalı özdeşimin paranoid-şizoid konumda, yalnızca iyi nesneye değil, aynı zamanda kötü nesneye saldırmasından ötürü kendini suçlu hisseder. Çocuk bu süre zarfında sevgi dolu ve şefkatli annenin paranoid saldırılara maruz kaldığının farkına varır. Sebep olduğu zararı telafi etmek için, çocuk toplumsal gerçekliği temsil eden anneyle olan ilişkisini onarmaya çalışır. Klein açısından depresif endişe bir ilerleme göstergesidir.

Bu psişik süreçler hayatın sonuna dek sürer. Çocuk aynadaki imgesini kendisi olarak tanımlar. Lacan, Klein’ın depresif konumuna “ayna aşaması” adını verir.

Hayalînin simgesele karşıt olduğu fakat aynı zamanda onunla üst üste bindiği Lacancı anlamda da, hayalî, benliğin temel cezbedilişini, Oedipus kompleksinden önceki (ve ondan sonra da devam eden) bir aşamanın tanımlayıcı damgasını, insanı kendi yansımasından yabancılaştıran ve onu kendi kopyasının kopyası yapan aynanın kalıcı izini, anneyle olan özel ilişkinin derinden süregidişini, eksikliğin ve sonsuz kovalamacanın saf etkisi olarak arzuyu, bilinçdışının ilksel nüvesini (ilksel bastırma) betimler. Tüm bunlar, şüphesiz, bir bakıma ilksel olarak yerinden olmuş uzuvlarımız için sahici bir fiziksel yedek, bir protez işlevi gören o öteki aynanın, sinema perdesinin, işlemesiyle yeniden etkinlik kazanır.[11]  

Bir hayalî ve narsistik özdeşimler dönemi olan ayna aşamasında, çocuk aynada gördüğü yanılsamaya inanır. Kendini bir bütünlük olarak görür ve hakikaten bir bütünlük olduğuna inanır. Bu, ötekinin arzu nesnesi olan benlik ile öznenin gördüğü haliyle benlik arasında geçen bir çatışma dönemidir. Aynadaki yansıma, ölüme dek sürecek olan içe yansıtma ve yansıtmalı özdeşim sürecini başlatır.

[…] Lacan tarafından tarif edildiği şekliyle ayna deneyimi, özsel olarak hayalî olanın (= bir hayaletle, imgeyle özdeşim yoluyla benliğin oluşumu) tarafında konumlanmıştır. Ayna, buradaki, büyük Öteki olarak işlev gören yansıması ayna alanında zorunlu olarak çocuğunkinin yanında görünen ve çocuğu cama doğru tutan annenin dolayımıyla simgesel olana da bir ilk erişim olanağı sağlar gibi görünse de, bu böyledir.[12]

            Perde, yansıtmalı özdeşimin alanıdır. Kendimi karakterin yerine koyarım ve filmi onun perspektifinden görmeye çalışırım. Bir bakıma, kendimi narsistik bir biçimde bütün bir kişi olarak filmin bağlamında konumlandırmaya çalışırım. Fakat perde, bu ayna benzeri niteliğini, ona eriştiği anda kaybeder. Perdeyle birlikte, daha gelişmiş bir süreç işlemeye başlar ve bu sürece, basitçe özdeşim değil, yansıtmalı-özdeşim adı verilir. Özne filmdeki karakter olmadığının ayırdındadır, fakat buna rağmen, sanki bütün bu maceraları yaşayan oymuş gibi, bu kimliği üstlenir.

            Ben, bir filmi izlediğimde, kameranın gözü olurum. Her şey benim etrafımda olup biter ve ben bütün bu olup bitenin gözlemcisi olurum. Bir film izlerken, bir bakıma, yarı-tanrılaşmış bir yaratığa dönüşürüm; her-şey-olmayanı herkesin-üstünde-olmayan bir konumdan gören, duyan bir yaratık; ve aşkın ile içkin arasındaki ikili ayrımı anlamsız kılan bir konum. Olayların hem içinde, hem dışındayım, ve bedenimle ve geriye kalan her şeyle aynı anda hem buradayım, hem başka bir yerde. Benliğin gözünü mümkün kılan ötekinin gözüdür.          

Sinema ve Fetişizm

Bokun bile bir ticari değeri vardır. Bu, elbette, bokun kimin boku olduğuna bağlıdır. Söz konusu olan insan boku olduğunda, ondan kurtulmak için para ödemeniz gerekir. Fakat hayvan boku, birileri onu yenilemeyeceği için değersiz olarak görmek yerine kullanmayı öğrendiğinde, oldukça verimli ve etkili bir gübre olabilmiştir. “Bilakis, annenin bedeninin temaşasına yansıtılan bu terörün ta kendisidir, ve bu, anatominin farklı bir konformasyon gördüğü yerde bir eksikliğin okumasını yapmaya davet eder.”[13]

İçgüdüler bile öznenin kendini içinde bulduğu süperpanoptik yansıtma-içe yansıtma mekanizması tarafından üretildiğinden, bilinçdışına kendini ifade etmesi için bir serbestlik kazandırmak, içerideki kötünün dışa yansıtılmasını üretir. Freud’a göre, ölüm itkisi sonsuzluk, hiçlik, ve ölüm için verilen bir mücadelenin etkisidir. Ben, sebebi olduğunu da ekleyeceğim.

Meta fetişizmi, hiçliğin, öznenin arzusunun Gerçeğinin inorganik nesnelerce temsil edilmesi arzusu olduğu ölçüde, hiçlik istencine eşittir. Kapitalizm nesnelerin kullanım değerinin yerine iki-boyutlu ticari değeri koyar; böylece, özne arzulanmak için arzular, ve bunu da ancak meta fetişizminin iki boyutlu alanını benimseyerek, kendisi bir fetiş nesnesine dönüşerek yapabilir. Marcuse’nin tek-boyutlunun iki-boyutluyu massettiği yönündeki şikâyetini hatırlar ve aynı zamanda Marcuse’nin iki-boyutlu kültürünün bugünün baskın kültürüne dönüştüğünü hatırda tutarsak, çözümün, büyük Ötekine, hayatlarımızda hangi biçimle karşımıza çıkıyor olursa olsun, “Kendimi senin beni gördüğün gibi görmüyorum,” demek olduğu daha anlaşılır olacaktır.

Bizim fikrimizce, fetişizm yalnızca sadizmde, o da ikincil ve çarpıtılmış bir halde, ortaya çıkar. Fetişizm inkâr ve gerilimle olan özsel ilişkisinden yoksun bırakılmıştır ve, sadistik yoğunlaşma sürecinde bir fail olmak üzere, tamamıyla farklı olan olumsuzluk ve olumsuzlama bağlamına geçer.[14]

Böylece ölüm itkisi hâlihazırda var olan nesneleri bölerek yeni arzu nesneleri üretir. Ölüm itkisi olarak özne, simgesel olanı bölerek, hiçliği ve ölümü temsil etmek üzere yeni arzu nesnelerinin ortaya çıkmasına imkân tanıyan mekânlar açar.

İyi nesne bilginin tarafına geçmiştir ve sinema kötü bir nesneye dönüşür (‘bilim’in geride durmasını kolaylaştıran ikili bir yer değiştirme). Sinema ‘infaz edilir’, fakat bu infaz aynı zamanda bir onarımdır (bilme durumu hem saldırgan, hem de depresiftir), fakat göstergebilimciye özgü, özel bir onarım: Kurumdan, ‘incelenmekte olan’ koddan alınanın kuramsal bedende yeniden kurulması.[15]

Sinema hakkında yazmak, temelde, simgesel düzenin bir eleştirisidir, çünkü hem yazma, hem de sinematik üretim simgesel toplumsal etkinliklerdir. Sinema hiçliği örten bir şeyin arzusunu doyuma ulaştırarak yaşam itkisini sömürdüğünden, sinema hakkında yazmak esas olarak simgesel olanın ardındaki hiçliği ifşa etmeye çabalayan ölüm itkisince yönetilir. Bir filmin örttüğü, hiçlikten başka hiçbir şey olamaz; ve filmin ardındaki bu hiçliği ifşa etmek özne ile gösteren arasında bir bölme koyar. Bu açıdan bakıldığında, psikoterapi var olan toplumsal düzeni eleştirir olur, çünkü eleştirmen filmi eleştirmekle film endüstrisini tedavi eder, ki bunun da seyirci üzerinde tedavi edici bir etkisi olur

Sinemada olduğu kadar başka alanlarda da, fetişizmin iyi nesneyle yakından ilişkili olduğu aşikârdır. Fetişin işlevi, (Melanie Klein’ın söylediği anlamda) kendi ‘iyiliği’ içerisinde, eksikliğin dehşete düşüren keşfi tarafından tehdit edilen iyi nesneyi yeniden kurmaktır. Yarayı kapayan ve kendi erotojenik olan fetiş sayesinde, nesnenin bütünü aşırı bir korku olmaksızın yeniden arzulanabilir olur.[16]

            Metz’e göre, sinema bir fetiş nesnesidir. Filmler eksik olan bir nesneyi temsil ederler. İmgelerin perdedeki yansıması, perdenin ardındaki, imgelerin görünmesini mümkün kılan hiçliği saklar. “Fetiş, fiziksel haliyle sinemadır. Fetiş her zaman maddîdir: bir kimse, yalnızca simgeselin gücüyle onu telafi edebilmeye başlamışsa, artık fetişist değildir, demektir.”[17]

            Sinema, ulaşılmaz arzu nesneleri üretir. Bu nesneler, bir boşluğu doldurarak, hiçliği daha da ulaşılmaz bir hale getirir. Sakladıkları bir şey olduğu hissini uyandırarak, hiçlik arzusunu üretirler. Gelgelelim, sinemanın hiçlik istencini sömürme gücü, bir ideoloji biçimi olarak sinematik aygıtı eleştirebilmemiz için elimizde olan tek araçtır.

            Arzu nesnelerinin yüceleşmesi, sinema ve televizyon aracılığıyla olur. Daha da ulaşılmaz olmalarıyla birlikte, daha da yüceleşirler. Sinemanın yaptığı, bir bulunuş yanılsaması yaratmaktır. Sinema hiçliğin yerine geçen bir nesne sunarak eksik bir nesneyi gösterir. Perdede gördüğümüz de bir eksikliğin bulunuşudur. Sinemanın keyfine varabilmesi için, öznenin yapması gereken şey, izlediği şeyin yalnızca bir eksikliği kapatan bir bulunuş, öznenin arzusunun Gerçeğinin temsil edilişi olduğunu bilmektir. Böylece Metz, “fetişin fiziksel haliyle sinema olduğunu” söyleyebilecektir.[18] Bu haliyle, fetiş, hiçlikten başka bir şey olmayan Gerçek arzu nesnesini temsil etmek üzere üretilendir; bu anlamda, fetiş, hiçlik istencini tatmin etmek için üretilir.

            Sinematik anlatı olayları gerçek sırasıyla göstermez. Kesintiler, boşluklar, sahneler arası alanlar vardır. Bütün bunlar -kesintiler, boşluklar, sahneler arası alanlar- bir dış gerçekliğe doğru açılmalardır; gösterilenin dışında bir şey olduğu hissini uyandırırlar. Seyirci, filmde olup bitene dair bilmediği bir şey olduğuna inandırılır. Her insana içkin olan bu bilinmeyene dair merak, sinema tarafından sömürülür. Seyircinini perdede gördüğüne aynı anda hem inanmasını hem inanmamasını sağlayarak, sinema kendisi ile seyrici arasında müphem bir ilişki yaratır.

            Sinema, anlatıda boşluklar bırakarak, yansıtmalı özdeşime olanak tanır. Seyirci filmin metnindeki eksikliğin üzerine içindekileri yansıtır. Bu boşlukları kendi içsel kısmi nesneleriyle doldurur ve filmin bölünmüş anlatısına bir bütünlük ve süreklilik empoze eder.

            Ölüm itkisi bölünme ve içe yansıtma içerir. Ölüm itkisi olarak özne verili bütünlük ve süreklilikleri böler. Ölüm itkisiyle yönetilen bir seyirci için filmdeki karakterlerle özdeşleşmek imkânsızdır. Bilakis, bu seyirci hiçbir şeyi arzular ve onsuz hiçbir anlam olmayacağını bildiği hiçlikle özdeşleşir. Ölüm itkisi, anlatıdaki boşlukları doldurmak yerine, onlara ışık tutar, bu boşlukların anlatıya içkin olduğunu ifşa eder. Anlatının yarım kalmışlığı, anlamının olanaklılığının koşuludur.

            Bu iki seyirci türünü birbirinden ayırt edebiliriz: yaşam itkisince yönetilen seyirci ile ölüm itkisince yönetilen seyirci; çağrışımcılık ve çözülmecilik.

            Çağrışımcılıkta, özne kendini hayalînin ortamına yerleştirir ve filmdeki karakterlerle özdeşleşir. Çözülmecilikte, özne iç ve dış nesneler arasında yeni bölünmelere yol açar ve özdeşimi kendi için imkânsız kılar.

            Yaşam itkisi dünyayla bir olma istencidir; taklitçilik ve çağrışımcılık ardındaki güçtür. Ölüm itkisini taklitçilik ve çağrışımcılıkla irtibatlandırmak yanlıştır. Ölüm itkisi olarak özne bütünlüklerin ve sürekliliklerin çözülmesine ve bölünmesine yol açar. Korku filmlerinde, seyirci açısından hakikat bilgisinin yokluğu, yani seyirciye her şeyi bilen gözün rolü verilmemesi, seyirciyi meraklı kılar ve böylece filmde ne olup bittiğini anlamak için karakterlerle özdeşim kurmaya zorlar. Filmi seyrederken doldurulacak boşlukların bolluğu karşısında, yaşam itkisi izleme süreci boyunca yaptığı işlerden dolayı gücünü yitirirken, ölüm itkisi bastırıldığı için daha fazla güç kazanır. Nihayetinde, yaşam itkisi çöker ve ölüm itkisi salonu kaplar.

            Korku filmi, ölüm itkisi ürünü olsa da, yaşam itkisini, yani seyircinin bütünlük oluşturma, eyleme istencini, anlatıdaki boşluklardan ve tutarsızlıklardan kurtulma arzusunu sömürür. Ölüm itkisi olumsuzlamayı olumsuzlar ve ulaşılabilecek en üst olumlama düzeyine ulaşır. Thanatos hiçbir şey istemezken, Eros hiçliği ister. Thanatos’un Nietzsche’nin şu sözünü tersine çevirdiğini rahatlıkla söyleyebiliriz: “insan hiçbir şey istememektense, hiçliği ister.” Eros hiçliği istemeyi ister ve her şeyin yerli yerine oturması için bütünlükler oluşturma işine girişir; sistemin hiçbir eksiği, dolayısıyla Eros’un da hiçbir isteği olmayacaktır. Thanatos bölünmelere yol açar, ve simgesel olanın ardındaki hiçliğe ulaşmaya çalışır. Thanatos hiçliği istemez; hiçbir şey istemez. Hiçbir şey istemez ki, her şeyin ortasındaki hiçliği, var olan her şeyin ardında hiçbir şey olmadığını gösterebilsin.

            Eros hiçbir şeyin eksik kalmamasını, eksikliğin eksik kalmasını isterken, Thanatos yaşamı olduğu gibi olumlar ve eksikliği ister, bir şeylerin eksik kalmasını, her şey söylendikten ve yapıldıktan sonra o eksikliğin varlığını sürdürmesini ister, ki böylece o eksikliğin sunduğu hiçliği arzulayabilsin. Thanatos hiçbir şeyin yerine bir şey koymayı istemez; bilakis, o, her şeydeki eksikliği ister. Olumsuzlamayı olumsuzlayarak, ölüm itkisi yaşamı olduğu gibi, yani bitmemişliğiyle, ve tam ortasındaki hiçlik ve ölümle birlikte olumlar.

Sonuç yerine

Bu denemede, sinematik aygıtı psikanalizle olan ilişkisi içerisinde çözümlemeye çalıştım. Adını anmamış olsam da, denemenin bütününde Gilles Deleuze’ün etkisi vardı. Henüz Fark ve Yineleme’de Deleuze beyni bir perde/ekran olarak anlar. Bana kalırsa, Deleuze’un bir perde/ekran olarak beyin anlayışının kökleri, onun Fark ve Yineleme’de yeniden yarattığı ölüm itkisi kavramındadır. Onun temsilî varlık tarzına karşı çıkışı, aslında Freud’un itki kuramındaki aşkınlığa yönelmiş kavramsallaştırmalara karşı bir saldırıdır. Deleuze külliyatı bilinçdışı itkiler ile bilinçli arzular arasındaki ilişki üzerine bir araştırma olarak okunabilir. Bu bağlamda, Deleuze’cü felsefeye sadık kalmak adına, beyni yalnızca bir perde/ekran olarak değil, aynı zamanda bir projektör olarak yeniden kavramsallaştırmak gerekir.

Sinematik aygıtın yalnızca bilinçli anlığı değil, aynı zamanda bilinçdışı itkileri de tetiklediğini, böylece yalnızca bilinç değil, bilinçdışını da ürettiğini düşünüyorum. Bilinçdışının arzuları ürettiği konusunda Deleuze’le hemfikirim, ancak Deleuze’de eksik olduğunu düşündüğüm şey, bilinçdışının da her zaman hâlihazırda sinema, medya, ve televizyon gibi dış güçler tarafından üretildiği fikridir. Dolayısıyla, bilinçdışının ürettiği arzu her zaman hâlihazırda hâkim şeyler düzenine hizmet eden hâkim bir arzulama tarzına uyum sağlamaya meyillidir.                                                                                          

İngilizce’den Çeviren: Mehmet Ratip


[1] Louis Althusser, “The Ideological State Apparatuses,” [İdeolojik Devlet Aygıtları] Mapping Ideology [İdeolojiyi Haritalandırmak], der. Slavoj Zizek (Londra: Verso, 1994), 123

[2] Althusser, 125

[3] Gilles Deleuze, “The Brain is the Screen.” The Brain is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema. Trans. Marie Therese Guiris. Ed. Gregory Flaxman (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 367.

[4] Christian Metz, The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and Cinema [Hayalî Gösteren: Psikanaliz ve Sinema], çev. Celia Britton, Annwyl Williams, Ben Brewster and Alfred Guzetti (Londra: Macmillan, 1982), 136-7

[5] Christian Metz, The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and Cinema [Hayalî Gösteren: Psikanaliz ve Sinema], çev. Celia Britton, Annwyl Williams, Ben Brewster and Alfred Guzetti (Londra: Macmillan, 1982), 120

[6] Metz, 43-9

[7] Jacques Lacan, The Seminar, Book XX: Encore, On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge [Kadın Cinselliği Üzerine, Sevginin ve Bilginin Sınırları] (New York: Norton, 1998), 48

[8] Slavoj Zizek, Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?[Biri Totalitarizm mi Dedi?] (Londra: Verso, 2001), 183

[9] Metz, The Imaginary Signifier [Hayalî Gösteren], 70

[10] Melanie Klein, The Psychoanalysis of Children [Çocukların Psikanalizi], çev. Alix Strachey (Londra: The Hogarth Press, 1975)

[11] Metz, The Imaginary Signifier [Hayalî Gösteren], 4

[12] Metz, 6

[13] Metz, 69

[14] Gilles Deleuze, Coldness and Cruelty [Soğukluk ve Zalimlik], çev. Jean McNeil (New York: Zone, 1989), 32

[15] Metz, 80

[16] Metz, 75

[17] Metz, 75

[18] Metz, 75

A Lacanian Ink Event – Jack Tilton Gallery – NYC, 10/15/2010
Introduction by Josefina Ayerza

For Lacan there is this solipsistic period of life at the beginning. The subject becomes capable of making a distinction between himself and others after the Narcissistic period of the mirror stage. The subject’s ability to interpret and adapt shows signs of progress. Once the mirror stage is passed through and the fantasy is traversed, the subject becomes capable of controlling the unconscious drives and touching reality. The child learns to postpone gratification and finds other ways of satisfying himself. The function of the I shows itself when the child feels the need to act upon the external world and change things in the way of attaining pleasure and satisfaction of desires. When the child gives up desiring his mother and realizes that he has to identify with his father the foundations of the super-ego formation are laid. It is the fear of castration that leads the male child to give up the mother. The sexual desire turns away from the forbidden object and moves towards finding ways of expressing itself in and through metaphors supplied by the predominant culture.

            According to Klein the formation of the super-ego begins in the first year of life. For Klein the “early Oedipus conflict” is at the root of child psychoanalysis. Klein says that Oedipal tendencies of the child start with oral frustrations and this is when the super-ego takes its course of formation. 

These analyses have shown that oral frustrations release the Oedipus impulses and that the super-ego begins to be formed at the same time. […] This is the beginning of that developmental period which is characterized by the distinct demarcation of genital trends and which is known as the early flowering of sexuality and the phase of the Oedipus conflict.[1]    

            It is Klein’s legacy to have taken the beginning of development to a stage earlier than the appearance of the Name of the Father. In this world the castrating father figure doesn’t yet exist. And the child has at least three years ahead to become capable of using language. Klein’s journey into a zone before language, a zone before the child finds itself in the signifying chain, is valuable especially for showing the lack of the role of fantasy and phantasmatic production in Lacan’s story of the formation of the subject. And Gilles Deleuze uses Klein’s insight to make the necessary connections between literature and the unconscious. But before moving on to Deleuze I would like to show from where Klein is coming and hint at the direction she could possibly be heading towards.

            Klein attributes as much importance to the death drive as she does to the life drive. For Klein, already in the first year of life there are object relations and these relations involve expression of libidinal and aggressive impulses.

[…] unfavourable feeding conditions which we may regard as external frustrations, do not seem to be the only cause for the child’s lack of pleasure at the sucking stage. This is seen from the fact that some children have no desire to suck—are ‘lazy feeders’—although they receive sufficient nourishment. Their inability to obtain satisfaction from sucking is, I think, the consequence of an internal frustration and is derived, in my experience, from an abnormally increased oral sadism. To all appearances these phenomena of early development are already the expression of the polarity between the life-instincts and the death-instincts. We may regard the force of the child’s fixation at the oral sucking level as an expression of the force of its libido, and, similarly, the early and powerful emergence of its oral sadism is a sign that its destructive instinctual components tip the balance.[2]

            The child projects his aggressive impulses onto the external world and sees the object (the mother’s breast) as an enemy trying to destroy him. The frustrations that take place in the first year of life cause anxiety and lead the child to express his aggressive impulses through oral sadism (biting the breast). The fantasy that the mother contains the father’s penis leads the child to want to tear apart the mother’s body and introject the object hidden in it through oral sadism. After oral frustration the attention of the child shifts from the mother’s breast to the father’s penis. The aggression against the father’s penis and the response this aggression gets plays a dominant role in the formation of the super-ego. As it develops the super-ego becomes more and more important in the way the subject handles his relation to the world.

[…] by projecting his terrifying super-ego on to his objects, the individual increases his hatred of those objects and thus also his fear of them, with the result that, if his aggression and anxiety are excessive, his external world is changed into a place of terror and his objects into enemies and he is threatened with persecution both from the external world and from his introjected enemies.[3]

             An aggressive attitude towards the external world damages the relationship with the external world; the external world is regarded as hostile, which leads to aggression, and this aggression in turn provokes hostility against the child. It is this kind of a vicious cycle in which many psychotics and neurotics find themselves. Klein describes schizophrenia as the “attempt to ward of, master or contend with an internal enemy.”[4] For Klein, the force of aggression as a result of oral frustrations can reach to such levels that the subject feels obliged to project the super-ego ideal onto the external world. The super-ego is terribly ruthless and aggressive. The projection of the super-ego onto the external world turns reality into an enemy. The subject becomes ill and shuts himself up into his fantasy world and, detached from reality, suffers inordinately. Lacan sees schizophrenia in a similar way; for Lacan what produces schizophrenia is the exclusion of the Name of the Father.                        

            With Klein we learn that the sense of reality is gained through oral frustrations. Lacan, too, thinks that frustrations have a role to play in the constitution of the reality principle. But according to Lacan what’s important is not the natural frustrations themselves, but how they are symbolized, how they are represented in and through language, how they manifest themselves in the form of cultural products. Lacan finds Klein’s theories too biological.

            To explicate where Lacan and Klein disagree I would like to give their opinions on Dick who is a four years old boy suffering from “psychosis.” Dick, who hardly ever talks, is permanently indifferent towards the external world. In Dick’s world there is no good and bad, there is nothing to be afraid of and nothing to love. It is as though Dick lives in a world apart, in another reality. Dick’s world is not structured like language, there is no differentiation, and where there is indifference there can be no difference, in Dick’s world all objects and subjects are one.    

            Dick has a toy train which he repetitively moves to and fro on the floor. Klein says, “I took the big train and put it beside a smaller one and called them ‘Daddy train’ and ‘Dick train.’ Thereupon he picked up the train I called Dick and made it roll [toward the station]… I explained: ‘The station is mummy; Dick is going into mummy.’[5] At the end of this first session of therapy Dick begins to express his feelings. It is after Dick becomes capable of situating himself within the symbolic order in relation to his mother and father that he becomes a human. He begins to play his role given to him by Klein.

            Human reality is a mediated reality. We can see in Dick’s case that the biological turns into cultural through Oedipalisation. Lacan thinks Klein’s therapeutic technique is correct but her theory wrong. What Lacan thinks Klein’s theory lacks is the castrating father figure who says “No.” Lacan complains that the castrating father figure is not given a role in Klein’s scenario. It is true that father is not given a role in the process of subject formation, but Lacan’s assumption that Klein is Oedipalizing the child is wrong. For if the father is excluded from the scene how can the Oedipal triangle be formed. All Klein does is to tell Dick that mummy and daddy copulate. Klein’s world is entirely biological, whereas Lacan is talking about the subjectivation of the individual in and through symbols. For Lacan the unconscious is nothing other than a chain of signifiers. There is nothing before the symptoms manifest themselves in and through metaphors. So metaphors are the products of repression which splits the subject into two separate but contiguous sides; the biological self and the cultural self. Psychoanalysis is about a regressive process which goes back in time through a chain of signifiers and tries to reach the Real of the subject’s desire. A symptom is the manifestation of the Real of the subject’s desire in the form of metaphors.

In advancing this proposition, I find myself in a problematic position—for what have I taught about the unconscious? The unconscious is constituted by the effects of speech on the subject, it is the dimension in which the subject is determined in the development of the effects of speech, consequently the unconscious is structured like a language. Such a direction seems well fitted to snatch any apprehension of the unconscious from an orientation to reality, other than that of the constitution of the subject.[6]

            When Lacan says that “the unconscious is structured like a language,” what he wants to say is that if the unconscious is a web of metaphors the signifiers behind the metaphors are interacting with one another just like the signifiers in language.   

            In psychosis the subject’s fantasy of unmediated omnipresence resists symbolization. The subject cannot turn his feelings and thoughts into symbolic acts, he cannot make a distinction between the me and the not me, cannot engage in intersubjectivity. Introversion dominates the psychotic and he finds himself in a world where nothing matters for nothing is differentiated. The psychotic experiences his inner reality as though it is the reality of all, he cannot separate the inner from the outer. The psychotic’s reality escapes cultural codes. The psychotic doesn’t know the symbolic meaning of the father’s law. The law of the father establishes the order of culture, but the psychotic refuses to come to terms with the father’s law and eventually cannot overcome his frustrations. The mother’s role is determinant in the formation of psychosis. If the mother doesn’t recognize the role of the father the child remains locked in the imaginary world, outside signification.   

            Psychosis appears when all the signifiers refer to the same signified. Language and meaning dissolve. Locked in the mirror stage the subject identifies everything as me, and the me as the phallus. But the reality is that the “I” is not the phallus inside the mother’s body. The psychotic is deprived of nostalgia, of the feeling of loss which is constitutive of the subject. Lacking lack the psychotic subject lacks what Lacan calls “lack in being.” And lacking lack in being the subject cannot identify his natural self as being separate from the cultural objects of identification. By entering the symbolic order the narcissistic sense of oneness, “the oceanic feeling,” is lost. And this loss opens a gap within the subject, which the subject tries to fill with the objects of identification presented to it by the predominant culture. Identification is a way of compensating for the emptiness within the subject caused by the loss of sense of oneness. But the unconscious desires can never be satisfied by metaphors. To overcome the frustration caused by the loss of his fantasy world, the subject turns towards symbolic acts in the way of climbing up the social ladder. The subject becomes a doctor, pilot, teacher; all to endure the pain of not being able to satisfy one’s unconscious desires, or the Real of one’s desire. It is in this context that Lacan sees repression as productive of the subject as a split subject. Because the psychotic has lost nothing, lacks nothing, he has no motivations for such pursuits as becoming a doctor, pilot, or teacher. The psychotic has no sense of nostalgia and he is therefore extremely indifferent to the external world. Experiencing no frustrations in the face of the harsh reality of not being one, the psychotic desires nothingness.

[1] Melanie Klein, The Psychoanalysis of Children, 123

[2] Melanie Klein, The Psychoanalysis of Children, 124

[3] Klein, 143-4

[4] Klein, 144

[5] Melanie Klein, quoted from Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, 45

[6] Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Hogarth Press, 1977), 149

Cover of "Dead Ringers"

Cover of Dead Ringers

Dead Ringers

With Dead Ringers (1988) Cronenberg shows the consequences of an attempt to get rid of the space between the me and the not me. The illusory absence of difference between Mantle twins Beverly and Elliot is their own creation. They identify with one another so much that they think they are one split soul living one life in two different bodies. When they are discussing the deteriorating condition of Beverly, Claire says to Elliot that he shouldn’t identify with Beverly, distance himself from him, and live his own life separate from Beverly. In response to Claire’s suggestion Elliot says, “But the drugs he takes are running in my veins.” Beverly and Elliot are twice split. They are not only split from their mother by birth, but also from one another. They are divided within and against themselves. Let us start from the beginning to make more sense of what happens in Dead Ringers.

Right at the beginning of the film we see Beverly and Elliot, in childhood, talking about the difference between the copulation of fish and humans. One of them suggests that fish are able to reproduce without having sex, and that if humans were living under the water they wouldn’t need to have sex to copulate. They would simply internalise the water through which they would copulate. At the prospect of copulation without touching, the other twin responds by saying, “I like the idea.” The next scene shows Beverly and Elliot approaching a girl and asking her if she wanted to have sex with them in a bathtub as an experiment. They are aggressively rejected and accused of talking dirty.

 From the very beginning Beverly and Elliot see science as a means to attain sex objects and sex objects as means to carry out their scientific projects. A further hint at their tendency to see the female body as something to be experimented upon is given in the following scene where they are seen operating on a plastic doll pinned down on the table. This is their play. For them the object of desire is at the same time the object of science, and science is a form of play. Their diagnosis concerning the patient is intra ovular surgery.

From the year 1954 we shift to the year 1967. Beverly and Elliot are in the faculty of medicine in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We see them applying their surgical instrument, their own invention, on a cadaver in the autopsy room. In stark contrast to the professor’s negative attitude towards their radical new instrument, the next scene shows Elliot receiving a gold plate model of their instrument as a prize for their contribution to gynaecology. At home Beverly is working on their future contributions to the field.

The differences between Beverly and Elliot become more obvious with the entry of Claire to their life. Beverly comes to understand that he is different from his brother through his different way of being in relation to Claire. While Elliot sees Claire as merely an object of play (sex and science), rather than as another person, Beverly is more affectionate and wants to sincerely engage in a profound interaction with Claire. And yet Claire’s sexual identity, that is, her masochistic tendency to occupy a passive and submissive position in the relationship makes it impossible for Beverly to escape from the double bind situation he finds himself in. The whole film is a narrative of how one falls into a double bind situation and why it is impossible to escape from this double bind without having to die. 

In Dead Ringers the Mantle twins are locked in the mirror stage. Death emerges as the only way to escape from this entrapment in an endlessly self-perpetuating process of projective identification. Their minoritarian nature, having been born identical twins, leads them to study the womb as the monster that gave birth to them. The Mantle twins’ fascination with deformed wombs, and the instruments they invent to act upon those deformations reflect their deviant relation to birth, motherhood, and sexuality.    

At the culmination of the historical effort of a society to refuse to recognize that it has any function other than the utilitarian one, and in the anxiety of the individual confronting the ‘concentrational’ form of the social bond that seems to arise to crown this effort, existentialism must be judged by the explanations it gives of the subjective impasses that have indeed resulted from it; a freedom that is never more authentic than when it is within the walls of a prison; a demand for commitment, expressing the impotence of a pure consciousness to master any situation; a voyeuristic-sadistic idealization of the sexual relation; a personality that realizes itself only in suicide; a consciousness of the other than can be satisfied only by Hegelian murder.[1]

In the relationship between Beverly and Elliot, the other consciousness is at the same time the consciousness of the self. Beverly and Elliot think that they are the same and yet different from one another at the same time. An impossible situation is situated in the context of gynaecology and the psychic life of a male gynaecologist’s relation to a female patient is used to show what happens when art-sex-science become one. The “voyeuristic-sadistic idealization of sexual relation” Lacan is talking about is precisely the Mantle twins’ relation to the female body and sex. Because they see themselves as a deviation from the norm, they see their mother as the birth giver of an abnormality. Their fascination with the ill-formed female body thus gains a significance in terms of their relation to their mother and birth.

The very existence of imagination means that you can posit an existence different from the one you’re living. If you are trying to create a repressive society in which people will submit to whatever you give them, then the very fact of them being able to imagine something else—not necessarily better, just different—is a threat. So even on that very simple level, imagination is dangerous. If you accept, at least to some extent, the Freudian dictum that civilization is repression, then imagination—and an unrepressed creativity—is dangerous to civilization. But it’s a complex formula; imagination is also an innate part of civilization. If you destroy it, you might also destroy civilization.[2] 

Cronenberg is a much more Freudian director than he would dare to admit.

Writing was in its origin the voice of an absent person; and the dwelling-house was a substitute for the mother’s womb, the first lodging, for which in all likelihood man still longs, and in which he was safe and felt at ease.[3]

Freud says that reality and fantasy, external and internal, the self and the world, the psychic and the material are in conflict and that this conflict is always experienced as pain. To compensate for the pain of this fragmentary existence man writes and tries to form a unity which he believes to have once been present and after which he is destined to strive. In Freud’s vision the subject is always in pursuit of an unattainable sense of wholeness, what he calls the “oceanic feeling.” And yet, Freud says, the subject can turn this negative situation into a positive one by creating works of art and literature in the way of producing at-one-ment with the world, although for Freud, this at-one-ment is impossible to attain, and if literature has any therapeutic effect at all, it is only to the extent of turning indescribable misery into ordinary unhappiness. Freud says, “the substitutive satisfactions, as offered by art, are illusions in contrast with reality, but they are none the less psychically effective, thanks to the role which phantasy has assumed in mental life.”[4]

Freud’s idea that imagination in general and writing in particular is a desperate attempt to return to the womb, to the state of being before birth, is clearly manifest in Dead Ringers. In the womb Beverly/Elliot was one and their choice of profession is a sign of their striving for that long lost oneness within themselves, with each other, and with their mother. What Freud, in Civilization and Its Discontents, calls the “oceanic feeling,” that is, the security of existence within the womb, tied to the mother with the umbilical cord, and swimming in the placental waters in foetal shape without the danger of drowning, is what the Mantle twins are striving for. According to Cronenberg they wish they were fish. Cronenberg sees barbaric regress as an inevitable consequence of progress.

This gives us our indication for therapeutic procedure – to afford opportunity for formless experience, and for creative impulses, motor and sensory, which are the stuff of playing. And on the basis of playing is built the whole of man’s experiential existence. No longer are we either introvert or extrovert. We experience life in the area of transitional phenomena, in the exciting interweave of subjectivity and objective observation, and in an area that is intermediate between the inner reality of the individual and the shared reality of the world that is external to individuals.[5]

Freud’s and Winnicott’s methods of therapy are based on the pursuit of a lacking sense of unity of self and the world. This form of therapeutic procedure forces the subject to ego formation, normalization, and submissiveness to the existing order of meaning. Freud considers the state of being in harmony with the world as the sign of health and development of the capacity to repress the drives and making sharp distinctions between the internal and external worlds, and between the conscious and the unconscious mind as a sign of progress. Although Winnicott, like Freud, assumes that there is an originary split between the internal and the external worlds, he at the same time differs from Freud in that his therapeutic process involves some kind of a journey that the therapist takes with the patient. In this kind of therapeutic relationship the therapist engages in a spontaneous interaction through playing with the rules of the game itself. In this process the role of the therapist is to render the patient capable of learning to play. In turn the therapist himself learns to relate to the patient through a kind of unconscious communication. 

What we have both in the Mantle twins and Freud and Winnicott then, is a will to transcend the material world through material tools. Mantle twins’ aim is to go beyond the material world and unite with one another in a dimension where the psychic and the material, the self and the other become one. The surgical instruments Beverly invents after Claire goes away for two weeks, are parallel to his mental deterioration. As he turns against himself, so do the surgical instruments turn into weapons against the patients. The sharp and pointed instruments represent Beverly’s regressive movement towards aggressive barbarism. The Mantle Retractor is replaced by objects to dig into the body.  These instruments are a result of Beverly’s attempt to externalise the illusory space created by loss of the object of love. By digging holes he thinks he will have restored himself. The instruments he creates eventually turn against him and his brother, destroying both in the process.



It is a recurrent theme of Cronenberg films that what the subject himself created turns against the subject and becomes the very cause of the subject’s death. In Videodrome (1982) for instance we see Max, the victim of a video program which is inserted into the subject’s body and possessed, the subject acts unconsciously in the service of the monstrous forces behind the screen. All Videodrome tapes do is to bring out what’s already in the subject. That is, make the subject’s unconscious fantasies appear on the surface of the screen. In other words it turns the subject into a projection-introjection mechanism. At the end of the movie we see Max’s hand turning into the gun he was holding. He is seeing himself on the screen killing himself, and in the next scene he is killing himself in front of the screen onto which he had already projected the scenario of his own death. He introjects what he himself projects, and what he projects is already an effect of what he had introjected. What we have here is a deconstruction of the relationship between the screen and the mirror.  Not only the screen is a mirror, but also the mirror is a screen. The Videodrome tapes are the partial-objects which when united through the subject’s body, take over the body and manifest themselves in the actions of the subject. The subject becomes, in a way, an object of violence against itself and others.

[1] Jacques Lacan,  Écrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1977), 7

[2] David Cronenberg, Croneberg on Cronenberg, ed. Chris Rodley (London; Faber and Faber, 191992), 169

[3] Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, trans. James Strachey (London: Penguin, 1985), 279

[4] Sigmund Freud, Civilisation and Its Discontents, 262

[5] Donald Winnicott, Playing and Reality, (London: Tavistock, 1971), 64


Life and Death in a Raving New World (excerpt from The Life Death Drives)

The influence of Nietzsche’s concepts of the will to nothingness and eternal return are pervasive in Freud’s later work. Freud’s turn towards metapsychology and his consequent creation of the concept of the death drive is rooted in his need for something to fill in the gaps in his scientific and empirically observable theories owing much to Darwin. Freud was uneasy with the concept of the death drive on account of its non-scientific nature, but nevertheless he had to conceptualize the death drive as the counterpart of the life drive in order to be able to go beyond the pleasure principle. Educated as a neuroscientist Freud was aware that he was contradicting himself and perhaps even turning against his earlier attitude towards the human psyche by showing that at the beginning was the death drive and that the life drive was only an outcome, a kind of defense against the death drive… Read More

via senselogic

Being Without Thought: The Unconscious and the Critique of Correlationism

Being Without Thought: The Unconscious and the Critique of Correlationism I have decided to make available a short draft version of a larger work, what could probably be called my greater “project” that I am actively working on. As has been pointed out by both Nick and Ben in their recent interviews with Paul Ennis, I am part of a small group of speculative realists (a name I gladly wear) that not only defends, but attempts to expand on the tradition of psychoanalysis, or more specifically, the metaphysics of psychoanalysis… Read More

via Complete Lies.

From Metaphor and Towards Metamorphosis 

With Deleuze the Cartesian mind-body dualism has been replaced by body-language dualism. Without being too insistent about it at this stage I would like to hint at where the relationship between these dualisms is heading. I propose, therefore, what Deleuze has already pointed out, namely a new possibility of analysing the nature of dialectics in the context of the relationship between language and its affective quality, what he calls the sense-event. As he puts it in his Time-Image, Deleuze thinks that neither the grounds of mind-body dualism nor those of body-language dualism are sufficient to theorize a progressive movement towards a new mode of signification. 

These are no longer grounds for talking about a real or possible extension capable of constituting an external world: we have ceased to believe in it, and the image is cut off from the external world. But the internalisation or integration in a whole as consciousness of self has no less disappeared.[1] 

Lothar Osterburg, Trailer Park, 2009

 There is no longer any movement of internalisation or externalization, integration or differentiation, but a confrontation of outside and an inside independent of distance, this thought outside itself and this un-thought within thought.[2] 

Deleuze invites exploration of a text in the way of explicating a progressive potential within the text which had hitherto been consciously or unconsciously ignored or neglected, or even repressed. This theme is linked to Deleuze’s life-long concern with Nietzsche’s thought of eternal recurrence and difference qua repetition. The emergence of the unthought within thought requires an encounter with the already thought in such a way as to expose its inner dynamics and hence show what’s inside it as its outside. That is, what the thought seems to be excluding as its other constitutes its subject as self-identical. It is through the exclusion of the other that the subject becomes itself. If we apply this to subject-object relations it becomes obvious that the split between the subject and the object is itself a construct, but nevertheless a necessary construct for the subject’s subsistence. In-between the subject and the object, then, there is an unfillable gap that is constitutive of both the subject and the object. 

[…]thought, as power which has not always existed, is born from an outside more distant than any external world, and, as power which does not yet exist, confronts an inside, an unthinkable or un-thought, deeper than any internal world […][3] 

For Deleuze new thought can only emerge as a curious absurdity, as in the Beckett case. That is because the new thought, although it comes from within the old thought, is beyond the interiority and the exteriority to a context in its primary emergence. This means that new thought always appears to be a non-sense, for no thought can be meaningful without a context. But non-sense is not the absence of sense. It is, rather, sense with its own particular context which it creates in the process of emergence from out of the old context. Being without the predominant context makes the thought seem absurd, non-sense, but not meaningless, for meaningless means absence of thought. 

What is a transcendental field? It can be distinguished from experience in that it doesn’t refer to an object or belong to a subject (empirical representation). It appears therefore as stream of a-subjective consciousness, a pre-reflexive impersonal consciousness, a qualitative duration of consciousness without a self. It may seem curious that the transcendental be defined by such immediate givens: we will speak of a transcendental empiricism in contrast to everything that makes up the world of the subject and the object.[4] 

Joe Bosquet must be called Stoic. He apprehends the wound that he bears deep within his body in its eternal truth as a pure event. To the extent that events are actualised in us, they wait for us and invite us in. They signal us: “My wound existed before me, I was born to embody it.” It is a question of attaining this will that the event creates in us; of becoming the quasi-cause of what is produced within us, the Operator: of producing surfaces and linings in which the event is reflected, finds itself again in incorporeal and manifests in us the neutral splendour which it possesses in itself in its impersonal and pre-individual nature, beyond the general and the particular, the collective and the private. It is a question of becoming a citizen of the world.[5] 

In this light we now see more clearly what Deleuze is aiming at with his disjunctive synthesis of transcendence and immanence leading to his transcendental empiricism. Empiricism starts from the material world rather than from the metaphysical world which it sees only as a product of the representations of experience through language. In fact, it knows no world other than the material world, and even if it does it prioritizes the physical world over the metaphysical world. Experience of the world before subjectivation is what Deleuze is trying to access. Since reaching the pre-subjective field of partial objects is possible only through language, and he knows that, he says that we have to produce that pre-subjective field which is called the transcendental field of immanence. 

The event considered as non-actualized (indefinite) is lacking in nothing. It suffices to put it in relation to its concomitants: a transcendental field, a plane of immanence, a life, singularities.[6] 

What we encounter with Deleuze is therefore a replacement not only of body-mind dualism with body-language dualism, but also a beyond of both, a triplicity; body-language-event. The event is the sense-event. It is the emergence of new sense not out of non-sense but out of the old sense, that is, a simultaneous explication of a new sense within the old sense. The new sense always appears in the form of an absurdity at first, but in time, through repetition and persistence this absurdity starts to appear in a new light and becomes new sense. Absurd is not the same as non-sense or absence of sense, but explicates the non-sense inherent in sense, and hence is in-between non-sense and sense. Through the absurd the unconscious manifests itself revealing another realm of consciousness which goes beyond the subject and the object and yet that is at the same time in-between them. This consciousness is the becoming of being. Being is a whole in process, that is, being is its own becoming whole, therefore it is always incomplete and yet whole. Being is an incomplete idea of wholeness which is in the process of becoming present. Since presence can only be at present, and since time is only at present, the pre-subjective impersonal consciousness is in between past and present, that is, in-between non-being and being. The event is the emergence of being out of becoming, what Deleuze calls a static genesis. This emergence, however, has neither a beginning nor an end, and therefore being is the becoming of an impersonal consciousness; “I am all the names in history,” says Nietzsche. 

This indefinite life does not itself have moments, close as they may be one to another, but only between-times, between-moments; it doesn’t just come about or come after but offers the immensity of an empty time where one sees the event yet to come and already happened, in the absolute of an immediate consciousness.[7] 

At this moment in time, and in this place all the wounds of humanity of the past are incarnated.  One has to feel the pain of all the past times, empathize with all those sufferings and learn from them for progress to take place. It is not the individual sufferings of a single person that Hegel, Nietzsche, or Deleuze talk about. Theory, cinema, and literature are not personal affairs. What is at stake is the “presence” of all the already dead bodies that have to be turned into fertilizers. How to make use of the already dead bodies in the service of progress as opposed to the ones who kill in the service of  progress? Suffering and pain indeed weaken the subject and yet there is no way other than turning this weakness, this impoverishment of thought into an affirmative will to power beyond the life/death drive. Perhaps a more than banal accident of life but just like Bosquet “my wound existed before me.” I am always already injured and if there are many more wounds awaiting to be embodied by me, well then, this indeed signifies that it has always been, still is, and will never cease becoming a time of passage from homo sapiens across homo historia and it appears to be towards homo tantum. 

The unconscious of the subject is a product of cultural products such as advertisements, films, and books. Since the unconscious is itself a cultural product, giving free rein to the unconscious to express itself serves the reproduction of the cultural context in which the unconscious is itself produced. To be able to create difference without having to die the subject has to turn the unconscious into a void within the symbolic out of which a new way of looking at the world can manifest itself. A subject is he/she who actively submits to the unknown in such a way as to create the condition of possibility out of a condition of impossibility for the creation of a new beginning. 

In a world which the subject loses itself surrounded by lies and illusions it is very difficult for one to become a subject since a subject is nothing but a void lost upon entry into the symbolic. Finding of itself of a subject means finding itself of a subject as a void, that is, a pre-symbolic hole, or a hole within the symbolic. This means that finding itself of a subject is its losing itself as a symbolic being. And this means that what is found by regressing to the pre-symbolic is nothing. So a subject is that which cannot be found, it can only be created in and through the destruction of its symbolic self. In this context becoming a subject refers to the process of creation of a self-conscious consciousness out of the void. 

We must keep in mind that the pre-symbolic void is not actually before the symbolic but beneath it. Opening a hole within the symbolic through cont(r)action creates the condition of possibility for the contact between the known and the unknown, between the subject and its a-subjective self, between the conscious desiring and the unconscious drives. 



[1] Gilles Deleuze, Time-Image, (London: Athlone Press, 1989),  277 

[2] Deleuze,, 363 

[3] Deleuze, 273 

[4] Gilles Deleuze, Pure Immanence: A Life, trans. Anne Boyman (New York: Zone Books, 2001), 25 

[5] Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester (London: Athlone, 1990), 148 

[6] Deleuze, 31-2 

[7] Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, 29

Hosted by The Institute for Human Sciences at Boston University on November 26, 2007, in this lecture entitled “Fear Thy Neighbor as Thyself: Antinomies of Tolerant Reason” Slavoj Zizek addresses perception, identity, and the “other”.

“Love beyond Law” involves a “feminine” sublimation of drives into love…[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. 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.
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? 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. 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”. 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. Lacan’s wager is that it is possible to sublimate this dull satisfaction. This is what, ultimately, art and religion are about.
– Slavoj Zizek

An excerpt from Cengiz Erdem’s Ph.D. thesis…

1. Method

The nature of this study requires an interdisciplinary and a multi-methodological attitude which goes beyond the opposition between merely conceptual and merely empirical approaches. It is based on a mode of enquiry which takes its driving force from thought-experiments that open paths to a new field in which various perspectives interact and form an intra-subjective dimension of theoretical practice situating psychoanalysis, cognitive neuroscience, and philosophy in the context of cultural and critical theory. For the emergence of a new truth out of the old knowledge one must pose new questions concerning the workings of the human mind. In the light of the recent developments in cognitive neuroscience, for instance, especially the works of Antonio Damasio and Gerald Edelman, Freud’s concepts of the life drive and the death drive, Klein’s concepts of introjection and projective identification, and Wilfred Bion’s affirmative recreation of Klein’s theories in the way of a theory of thinking become extremely relevant for the development of a universal cultural and critical theory.

Cognitive neuroscience proposes that the quality of an external object is always already projected onto that object by the neuronal activity of the brain. What cognitive neuroscience lacks is a historical context, likewise what cultural studies lacks is an organic basis. An interaction between psychoanalysis, linguistics, philosophy, cultural studies, and cognitive neuroscience can break out of the closure of the humanities and give birth to the link which has come to be considered missing, between nature and nurture, organic and inorganic, empirical and conceptual, epistemological and ontological, transcendental and immanent, the objective and the subjective.

Because of the dynamic and parallel nature of re-entry and because it is a process of higher-order selection, it is not easy to provide a metaphor that captures all the properties of re-entry. Try this: Imagine a peculiar (and even weird) string quartet, in which each player responds by improvisation to ideas and cues of his or her own, as well as to all kinds of sensory cues in the environment. Since there is no score, each player would provide his or her own characteristic tunes, but initially these various tunes would not be coordinated with those of the other players. Now imagine that the bodies of the players are connected to each other by myriad fine threads so that their actions and movements are rapidly conveyed back and forth through signals of changing thread tensions that act simultaneously to time each player’s actions. Signals that instantaneously connect the four players would lead to a correlation of their sounds; thus, new, more cohesive, and more integrated sounds would emerge out of the otherwise independent efforts of each player. This correlative process would alter the next action of each player, and by these means the process would be repeated but with new emergent tunes that were even more correlated. Although no conductor would instruct or coordinate the group and each player would still maintain his or her style and role, the player’s overall productions would lead to a kind of mutually coherent music that each one acting alone would not produce.[1]

The model of mind conceptualized by Gerald Edelman shows us that the mind is an embodied substance which has the ability to adapt to changes surrounding it. If we keep in mind that cinema, literature, art, and music show how the mind works at a particular moment in history, as well as the emotional state of that particular moment, it becomes clear why a mode of enquiry rather than a specific method is required for the analysis and critique of human consciousness and its relation to the environment surrounding it. In this context, the plot driven critique of the literary and filmic texts aims at distinguishing between the world of consciousness and the world of appearances. My claim is that it is only through looking at the mortal world of appearances with the eyes of an immortal consciousness that we can see that which is present as an absence in the predominant symbolic order. By looking at “what happens when” in a movie or a book as well as “how that thing happens,” I sustain the conditions of impossibility as the conditions of possibility for cont(r)action to take place and give birth to an immortal subject. Needless to say, this subject is also an object encountering and encountered by the unknown within the known, the chaos inherent in the order itself, that calls forth he who has died so many times and is yet to die again and be reborn many more times so as to live as dead again. The reader might be disappointed because I will not have pursued and incorporated Edelman’s neural Darwinism and further developed the idea of a context-bound cognitive neuroscience and a matter(brain) based cultural and critical theory. The reason for this is that I discovered Edelman’s work towards the end of writing my thesis, and then  rewrote the Introduction. As a matter of fact, after this discovery the whole thesis itself could have been rewritten. Just as the Law changes its object and is in turn changed by that object, my critical apparatus, too, changes and is changed by its objects, in this case cultural products, be they filmic, literary or philosophical texts. It is such that this theoretical narrative moves on in such a way as to cut itself from its own past and unite with its own future at the same time, that is, in one simultaneous movement in two directions at once.

Hence it becomes clear why I pay attention to “what happens when” and “how that thing happens,” at the same time. For this I am indebted to Edelman who shifted the perspective of cognitive neuroscience from “how the brain makes sense,” to “when the brain makes sense.” If one reads the writings on film and literature in this thesis with the conscious naivety of their plot based critique in mind, one can sense the underlying current of humour and the erratic undertone of irony, both of which knock down the serious tone of the critique based on a linear reproduction of a circular plot – as we see in the investigation of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive for instance.

In his Critique of Judgement, Kant distinguishes between the determinative and the reflective modes of judgement.

If the universal (the rule, the principle, the law) is given, the judgement that subsumes the particular under it… is determinative. If, however, only the particular for which the universal is to be found is given, judgement is merely reflective.[2]

If we keep in mind that the reflective mode of judgement reflects on particulars in such a way as to produce universals to which they can be subjected, and that the determinative mode of judgement determines a particular by subjecting it to a universal, it becomes understandable why among these two I shall be using the reflective mode which splits as it unites the subject of enunciation and the enunciated subject. But it must be kept in mind that the subject of enunciation which refers to the universal is itself a constitutive illusion, or a regulatory idea necessary for the emergence of the immortal subject as the enunciated content. It is only in and through a position of non-mortality within and without mortal life at the same time that the exploitation of mortality can be brought into the spotlight. A critique of the exploitation of mortality inherent in particularly exemplary cultural products will be achieved through putting them in a perspective that analyzes the life death drives in such a way as to expose the exploitation of the fear of death as the driving force inherent in them. The point is that it is indeed necessary to fantasize being what one is not, in our case being non-mortal, to be able to become self-conscious of one’s self-reflexivity in the way of creating an order of signification not caught up in the rotary motion of drives locked in Klein’s projection-introjection mechanism,  but rather one which breaks this vicious cycle and at least attempts to subtract death from life in a counter-act to the post-structuralist idea of life as a process of dying and death as an absent presence in the midst of life. It is only through such a subtraction of the absent presence of death within life that the productive interaction between Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism, Foucault’s bio-politics, Badiou’s theory of infinity, and Kant’s reflective mode of judgement give birth to the immortal subject as the womb of a new thought, a new life, and a new mode of being, free of the exploitation of mortality and engagingly indifferent to this mortal, all too mortal life.

Let us imagine a subject who finds himself in a certain situation which appears to have no escape route; a situation which nails him to a painful existence and brings him closer to extinction with every move he makes. What he needs is Bion’s theory of creative process and the emergence of new thought from within the dominant projection-introjection mechanism. In his Theory of Thinking Bion says that dismantling is as important in creative process as integration, that is, introjection and splitting are as necessary as projective identification and unification. Bion pays special attention to the process of introjection and projective identification and recreates Klein’s paranoid-schizoid position as a way of showing that it has two forms; one is healthy and the other is pathological. For Klein it was only with the attainment of the depressive position that the formless experience was given a form, the thoughts were invested with symbolic meanings. Bion sees introjection and projective identification as the two separate but contiguous halves and the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions as the complementary parts of one another in the creative process. Now, if, following Bion, we think about Klein’s introjection and projective identification in the context of Derrida’s technique of deconstructive reading, we see that deconstruction is a mobile and dynamic mode of critique which moves between fragmentation and integration of the meaning of a text. Although deconstruction, as practised by Derrida himself, adapts itself to the internal dynamics of the text as the object of critique, it still lacks the affirmative and immanent fluidity which is necessary to open up holes, or passages, through which a new truth in touch with the requirements of the present situation can slip. This is because Derrida’s practice of deconstruction is still a negating activity and a transcendence oriented practice, which remains within the confines of the antagonistic relationship between the life drive and the death drive. To become affirmative, deconstructive practice needs to produce and incorporate its own difference from itself, that is, it has to become immanent to itself and the text it interprets.

As a mode of thinking, deconstruction attempts to erase the gap between the life drive and the death drive, but always fails, and this failure eternally confines deconstructive practice to the domain of antagonism between the life drive and the death drive. And if we keep in mind that deconstruction as a mode of thinking has become the dominant way of being creative we can understand why a critique of deconstruction is a critique of contemporary culture.

In this thesis I try to expose the workings of the deconstructive practice in certain works of art, literature, and cinema, which, consciously or unconsciously, exploit the ambiguity of the relationship between the life drive and the death drive, hence oppressing the one or the other. Needless to say this oppression of the one or the other necessarily exploits the one or the other, for oppression of the one requires exploitation of the other. As a consequence of this dynamic inherent in contemporary nihilistic culture projected onto the subject, the reader/spectator is removed out into the transcendental world of unconscious drives, leading to an illusory sense of omniscience on behalf of the reader/spectator.

The difference between deconstruction and affirmative recreation is that in the former an interaction between the destruction of a structure based on metaphysics of presence and creation of an opening, production of a void within the meaning of the text based on logocentrism is at work, whereas what is at work in the latter is a simultaneous dismantling of meaning, opening up of a void in the context of the text, and sustenance of the conditions for the possibility of the meaning’s flow in and through this void and out into the outside of the dominant context.[3] Derrida’s well known proposition that “there is nothing outside the text” is not the basic assumption of affirmative recreation; quite the contrary, a hole is opened within the context, and the meaning of the text flows through this hole. The meaning of the text is made to move on progressively, not just left without any foundations on which to stand and consequently fall. Deconstruction is concerned with exposing the rigidity and the solidity of rigid structures and solid constructions as is clear from its name. In a nutshell this is what Derrida’s self-reflexive reading strategy called deconstruction does: the socially and historically constructed and generally accepted dominant meaning of the text is explicated. And then this meaning is shown to be self-contradictory through the opening of a gap between what the author intended to say and what he has actually said. In affirmative recreation what’s at stake is a melting of the meaning and its continuous reshaping like a sculpture. The text is turned from a solid state into something like lava or clay and kept hot for further and perpetual reshaping, not into another completed sculpture. For me sculptures are products of an attempt to freeze life and/but a frozen life is no different from death.

 2. To What End Last Words? To What End Suffering…

Throughout this thesis I have tried to develop a mode of critique in and through which nothing is excluded and/or determined. This reflective mode of critique itself enabled me to situate myself in the middle of the reflective and the determinative modes of judgment. The critical mode employed in this thesis is still context-bound to a certain extent, and yet it tries to restrictively dissociate itself from the predetermined context, rather than freely associate within it. A new field is opened, the conditions are created for the possibility of a decision beyond the Law of Militarist Capitalism and the Welfare State driven by and driving the exploitation of mortality on a massive scale. There is this transcendental field that requires a non-mortal mode of being in the world, neither for nor against it, but indifferent to it in such a way as to turn its own alienation from mortality into its driving force in its attempt to demolish the faculty of finite judgment and create the conditions of possibility out of the conditions of impossibility for an infinite judgment to take place beyond the subject/object of a Law that is mortal, all too mortal.

A truth comes into being through those subjects who maintain a resilient fidelity to the consequences of an event that took place in a situation but not of it. Fidelity, the commitment to truth, amounts to something like a disinterested enthusiasm, absorption in a compelling task or cause, a sense of elation, of being caught up in something that transcends all petty, private or material concerns.[4]

The immortal subject within and without the pre-dominant symbolic order is not only the cause, but also the effect of its own alienation from mortal life. This regulatory idea of immortality, which is also a constitutive illusion, is inspired by the post-structuralist theme of becoming non-identical as we see in Deleuze and Derrida. If one could become non-identical, why would one not also become non-mortal? If one could become alienated from one’s identity, why would one not also become alienated from one’s mortality?  Why not become immortal so as to become capable of criticizing the exploitations of this mortal, all too mortal life? But what motivated me to take immortality as a virtual mode of being was Badiou’s theory of infinity which aimed at secularizing the concept of truth. Badiou’s technique of secularizing the truth is inspired by the 19th century mathematician Georg Cantor’s technique of secularizing the infinite. As Badio claims, the secularization of infinity started with Cantor who stated that there was not one, but many infinities varying in size and intensity. From then onwards it became possible to link Deleuze’s concepts of impersonal consciousness and transcendental empiricism with Badiou’s theory of infinity and Kant’s assertion that for reflective judgement to take place and turn the object into a subject a transcendental ground is necessary.  Now I can say that for me a transcendental ground is necessary only to the extent that it enables the subject to shake the foundation of its own mode of being and opens a field for immanent critique to take place. In other words, the untimely indifference of immortality is required in order to actively engage in an exposition of the exploitation of mortality in this time.

I don’t know if it is worth mentioning that in this time we are all slaves and yet some slaves dominate the others. Where time goes no one knows. There are necessary illusions in this life, some for life, some not. Both the extreme belief in civilized progress and barbaric regress are good for nothing. These two are now in the process of being left behind. A third possibility of developmental process is emerging in the form of a becoming-reconciled which is based on the recognition of the otherness of the other as it is, that is, prior to the additions and the subtractions imposed upon the self and the other, nature and culture, life and death. For a non-normative and progressive universality to work it is necessary for the participants to become capable of making distinctions between their natures and cultures, their cliniques and critiques. It is a matter of realizing that theory and practice are always already reconciled and yet the only way to actualise this reconciliation passes through carrying it out and across by introducing a split between the subject of statement (the enunciated) and the subject of enunciation.

It is indeed true that sometimes it takes a long journey to get there, where one eventually got at, and realise that one is other than one thinks itself to be. Apparently the numbers indeed start with zero and continue with two, but it takes time to realise this actuality and become capable of actualising this reality. Perhaps we should indeed know that absolute reconciliation is impossible and yet still strive to reconcile ourselves as much as we can to all the living and the dead.

 Cengiz Erdem, The Life Death Drives (Lulu: London, 2009)

[1] Gerald Edelman,  A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination (New York: Basic Books,  2000), 49 

[2] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. James Creed Meredith (London: Wilder Publications, 2008), 13

[3] It is important to note that here context signifies the dominant projection-introjection mechanism. To go outside this projection-introjection mechanism requires what Bion calls “the binocular vision.” Binocular vision means that the subject is still within the dominant context and yet he is also in touch with another mode of being which he is able to project onto the present and future. Binocular vision is the first step towards creating a new situation out of the present situation. Wilfred Bion,  A Theory of Thinking, Second Thoughts, (London: Karnac Books, 1984).

[4] Peter Hallward, “Introduction” in Alain Badiou, Ethics (London: Verso, 2002), x


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(c) Cengiz Erdem, 2009.

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