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<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 .

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

İdeoloji maddi bir varoluşa sahiptir.[2]

Althusser                                                                                                                                                                              

Beyin bir ekrandır.[3]

 Deleuze

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

Now, the history of depths begins with what is most terrifying: it begins with the theatre of terror whose unforgettable picture Melanie Klein painted. In it, the nursing infant is, beginning with his or her first year, stage, actor, and drama at once. Orality, mouth, and breast are initially bottomless depths. Not only are the breast and the entire body of the mother split apart into good and bad object, but they are aggressively emptied, slashed to pieces, broken into crumbs and alimentary morsels. The introjection of these partial objects into the body of the infant is accompanied by a projection of aggressiveness onto these internal objects, and by a re-projection of these objects into the maternal body. Thus, introjected morsels are like poisonous, persecuting, explosive, and toxic substances threatening the child’s body from within and being endlessly reconstituted inside the mother’s body. The necessity of a perpetual re-introjection is the result of this. The entire system of introjection and projection is a communication of bodies in, and through, depth.[1]

                                                                                                                             Gilles Deleuze.

 

1. Nature, Culture, and Lacan

 According to Lacan a psychoanalysable subject’s drama is an outcome of the conflict between nature and culture. As Claude Lévi-Strauss put it, this conflict arises from the incest taboo, which is a result of the prohibition of marriage among family members who are tied to one another by blood.

It is modern structuralism that has brought this out best, by showing that it is at the level of matrimonial alliance, as opposed to natural generation, to biological lineal descent—at the level therefore of the signifier—that the fundamental exchanges take place and it is there that we find once again that the most elementary structures of social functioning are inscribed in the terms of a combinatory.[2]

 From the perspective of structuralism the incest taboo produces the cultural family and separates it from the natural family. The incest taboo is the effect and the cause of the conflict between nature and culture.  Oedipus delivers the subject’s role in society and hence gives the subject its cultural and sexual identity. This separates the subject from its non-identity and forms the basis for the conscious desires to flourish. All that is repressed in this process gives birth to the unconscious. But unconscious is not a pool in which the repressed waste material is accumulated; rather, it is a theoretical construct to explain what happens to the repressed material but which nevertheless has discernible effects in everyday life and behaviour.

            For Freud, with the resolution of the Oedipus conflict the period of primary narcissism comes to an end. All that the subject wants is to get back what it had lost upon entry into the symbolic order through Oedipus. The subject loses the sense of omnipotence and is in pursuit of narcissistic sense of oneness. Each time the subject steps it tries to step towards the pleasures of narcissistic satisfaction of the first step, and yet with each step moves further away from it. Lacan’s narcissistic period, the mirror stage, is the period after the period of an unmediated relationship between the child and the mother and it is in the mirror stage that the child identifies himself with his whole image on the mirror to become what his mother wants him to be. Identification with the mother turns into identification with the self’s whole image on the mirror which is assumed to be the object of mother’s desire. Since the child cannot yet make a distinction between the me and the not-me, and sees himself as one, the child is as yet a mere (subject), that is to say a subject that is not a subject of culture.

The child exits the order of nature and enters the order of culture through symbols. It is a symbolic entry to the world of symbols in which a subject becomes the subject. A symbol fills the space in-between the child and the mother and is the third world, the imaginary world between the symbolic and the real, which takes the place of the unmediated relationship between the other two.

            The reflection on the mirror sets in motion the numberless introjective-projective processes that the subject will experience throughout his/her life. Seeing the whole image of self on the mirror helps the subject to develop a self-consciousness as a separate being neither in-itself nor for itself. The awareness of selfness brings with it the awareness of otherness. The subject distinguishes between the me and the not-me. This situation cuts the subject in two halves; one half is the omnipotent exhibitionist and the other half is the object of the gaze of others. Realizing that the subject is not only the observer but also the observed produces a self-conscious consciousness; being conscious of self as that which can never be fully conscious of itself.

The subject is produced in and through language. When the subject says I the symbol becomes the mediator between the internal and the external worlds, which means that language splits the subject and the object as it unites them. Following the mirror stage The Name of the Father completely ends the unmediated relationship between the child and the mother and establishes its own laws and institutions. The symbolic father is he who has what the mother lacks and to whom the mother is subject. The father deprives the mother and the child of their unmediated relationship and deprives the mother of the phallus. For Lacan, the civilizing castration, the castration that turns the human child into a cultural subject, does that by directing the child from being to having. Rather than being the phallus the child begins to want to have the phallus. It is the absence of the phallus that is established rather than the phallus itself. In pursuit of the phallus as a substitute for the unattainable mother, the subject obeys the father’s law. The constitution of the phallus as a lack opens a gap between the subject and the object. It is this gap, this lack, this absence that is the unconscious and renders the conscious subject possible. What man lacks is a mythological totality symbolized by the phallus. And this lack is a condition of the subject. The subject and its unconscious are produced at the same time. Language turns the human child into a non-subject, it gives him his sexual identity, at the same time produces unconscious drives and situates the subject in the symbolic order and induces pain.

Oedipal discourse forms the basis for the deliverance of the subject’s sexual identity and is the discourse of the other, the unconscious. For the subject to be able to use language, first he has to acquire language. In the learning process the unconscious manifests itself in and through slips of the tongue, jokes, and dreams. Slips of the tongue, and jokes reveal the real of the speaking subject’s desire. The unconscious is the condition of conscious discourse. 

            For Lacan, language is the condition of the unconscious. The symbolic order constitutes the unconscious drives. That which the subject wants is the unmediated experience of existence lost upon entry into the symbolic order. The rupture between being and non-being opens with language and in the unconscious the symbol of the fullness of being, completeness of the subject is the phallus. And the phallus is that which the subject had lost upon entry into the symbolic order. But since the subject has to use language to attain the lost object, his striving for wholeness is in vain, which renders him tragic and exhilarating. For as I said earlier on, as the subject thinks that he is stepping towards the real of the desired object he is in fact moving further away from it with each word he adds to his vocabulary.

            Here I would like to tell the most known of the Oedipus myths, but at the same time the one that is least known as an Oedipus myth, the story of Adam and Eve. We shall listen to Adam and Eve’s story as though it is our own story. For man perpetually runs after his dreams, and as he does this he moves on through disappointments. I shall therefore stress the significance of disappointment and frustration in psychoanalytic discourse.

            Adam eats the forbidden apple given to him by Eve. Counter to what Genesis and Milton say, I think the relationship between male and female is built on a prohibition. Adam eats the apple. Adam is expelled from paradise for doing that which shouldn’t have been done. He is banned from the heaven on earth (Eden) and is nailed to pain and suffering. And he is promised paradise after death. But why is an apple prohibited in paradise? Because as a cultural fantasy, paradise is the other of something forbidden, it is the product of this forbidding. If the law, the symbolic, is removed from the scene, all symbolic meaning collapses. And since it is law that produces the unlawful, since it is repression that forms the unconscious, there can be no symbolic order without the fantasy supporting it and keeping the unconscious drives at bay.

            It is the sense of primary Narcissism that is the desired object of fantasy, a sense of oneness with the world, omnipotence, and completeness. So life doesn’t end with death, it reaches its most complete form in the womb, it begins with a death. Life is a striving for a death oscillating between a forbidden death and a promised death. Death pulls the subject towards itself with all the attraction of its staticity, or stasis. Eros and Thanatos are twin brothers.

            Expulsion of Narcissism is a condition of cultural life. Narcissus, this beautiful man, falls in love with his own image on the water. His love for himself prevents him from seeing the love presented to him by culture–Echo’s love. Narcissus leans forward to touch his image and leans so much that he falls and drowns in the water, dies in his own image.[3]

            This period of primary Narcissism is what Lacan calls the mirror stage. As I have shown in the previous pages, at this stage there is a conflict between the Ideal-I and the I as the object of the other’s desire. It is this that splits the subject. In other words every individual re-experiences the tragedy of Narcissus at the back of his/her mind throughout life. And it is this regressive re-experiencing that produces and is produced by the real of the subject’s desire.

            The father’s law forbids identification with the mother and promotes identification with the object of mother’s desire. Father’s law is the law of the culture. If the child doesn’t obey the father’s law, that is, when the child refuses to leave the mirror stage behind, the child cannot move on to the next stage and distinguish itself from the others; it resists codification. This is what a schizophrenic is. To be locked in the mirror stage is to be a schizophrenic. Here the subject experiences existence as an illusory reality. He can do nothing to act upon the world for he doesn’t know what use the objects surrounding him have. The schizophrenic who refuses to pass from father’s civilizing castration, is he who escapes cultural codification. And culture locks away the mad into a cell with mirrors on all walls that hide the secrets. A chain of identifications with the objects of others’ desires begin when and if the subject passes through the fantasy world of the mirror stage and becomes rational. It all ends with an idealized war culture, when and if culture is built on and through the Name of the Father.

            We can see this in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The order of culture has two poles: On one pole is the unmediated love, on the other pole is the idealized war. In War and Peace Prince Andrey, although he loves his wife very much—or rather because he loves her so much—chooses to leave her behind and go to war to fight Napoleon’s armies. He follows greater ideals, for the future of Europe, and leaves behind the little world of the females; he chooses to go in search of his Oedipal destiny.

 2. No Replica?

Klein is the first psychoanalyst to analyse a pre-verbal and pre-Oedipal stage of development, that is, before the child starts to hate the father and want to unite with the mother whom he believes to contain the father’s penis. In her Psychoanalysis of Children Klein gives a brief account of how this adaptation to reality takes place. 

The small patient will begin, for instance, to distinguish between his make-believe mother and his real one, or between his toy brother and his live one. He will insist that he only meant to do this or that to his toy brother, and that he loves his real brother very much. Only after very strong and obstinate resistances have been surmounted will he be able to see that his aggressive acts were aimed at the object in the real world. But when he has come to understand this, young as he is, he will have made a very important advance in his adaptation to reality.[4]

Klein analyses the process of adapting to reality in terms of the child’s relation to his mother’s body. In the first year of life it is through introjection of the mother’s body as the embodiment of the external world that the child learns to relate to reality. At this stage the child sees the breast as the representative of the mother. The child projects his own reality onto the external world and believes that the mother’s breast belongs to him. When the flow of milk is interrupted the child becomes aggressive towards the mother and bites the breast. According to Klein this is the paranoid-schizoid position characterized by oral sadism.

Klein associates this attitude of the child with the dynamics of an adult schizophrenic mind.  A child who cannot yet make a distinction between the inner reality and the external world is like a psychotic adult who cannot make a distinction between what belongs to his fantasy life and what to the external world. 

A good example to this situation can be selected from the Hollywood horror scene. What we see in the Red Dragon, for instance, is a man who over-identifies with Hannibal Lecter, and becomes what Hannibal Lecter identified with in the first place; a psychotic serial killer who identifies himself with Blake’s Red Dragon.

The psychotic serial killer who believes himself to be constructing a work of art with stories of his murders, sees his criminal acts as the actualization of a prophecy, an incarnation of the myth of Red Dragon. It is through William Blake’s painting, Red Dragon, that the character is familiar with the myth of Red Dragon. Towards the end of the film we see him literally eating, incorporating, Blake’s original painting. That is when his total transformation from bodily existence to a mythological dimension beyond the flesh takes place. Until that point in the film he is governed by the Red Dragon, now he is the Red Dragon, which means that he no longer takes the orders from a force outside of himself. He has introjected the source of power and has become his own master against himself. And perhaps he even believes that his becoming is complete now. 

3. The Significance of Klein’s Fantasies

            It was Klein who emphasized the importance of fantasies and playing in the process of development. Klein brought to light that as humans we perpetually oscillate between paranoid-schizoid position and the depressive position throughout life. Klein categorized the death drive as more dominant in the paranoid-schizoid position and life-drive as more dominant in the depressive position. For Klein a successful therapeutic procedure would result in maintaining a contact with the intermediary realm between phantasm and reality. Klein’s importance lies in her acceptance and affirmation of our most primitive drives’ role throughout life. The need for satisfaction of those drives sometimes reaches to such inordinate measures that we become aggressive in the face of reality. Frustrations arise and things get worse, for we don’t know how to turn our frustrations into fuel for the life-drive, and eventually fall victim to the death-drive in search of omnipotence.

            According to Freud, as he puts it in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, drives were governed by the pleasure principle and the object of satisfaction of these drives was not very important. In other words, between the drive and its objects there was no natural tie. But for Klein, who prefers the word instinct instead of drive, from the beginning of life onwards instincts are connected to certain internal objects. From the beginning of life the human subject is in pursuit of object relations in the way of satisfying the instincts such as hunger and thirst.

            Klein’s shifting conceptualisation of the process of subject formation can be clearly observed in her analysis of the relationship between The Early Stages of the Oedipus-Conflict and Super-Ego Formation. Klein takes the beginning of socialization to a pre-Oedipal stage, a pre-verbal if not pre-linguistic stage, to the first year of life. When a baby is born it immediately is in the world of objects. And language, being the extension of the world, that is, being one of the objects surrounding the subject, is immediately at the disposal of the subject just like any other object. We must keep in mind, however, that from language Klein understand not only the words but also the objects such as a toy soldier, or a ball, or any other object. Now, the baby as the subject throws its toy soldier at the mother to get her attention, or to articulate that it is hungry. This action of the baby is similar to someone sending a letter to his/her lover to articulate that he/she has missed him/her and wants to have sex soon. It is in this larger context that we understand language not only as words but also as everything that is at hand.

            According to Freud, Lévi-Strauss, and Lacan, the formation of the subject begins with the appearance of the Name of the Father and his law prohibiting the incest. It is only with the father saying, “No, you shall not desire the mother, but try to be the object of mother’s desire,” that the child experiences his first confrontation with the symbolic order. But in Klein this process is related to the development of object relations in a time where there is imaginary meaning and not symbolic meaning.

Early analysis offers one of the most fruitful fields for psychoanalytic therapy precisely because the child has the ability to represent its unconscious in a direct way, and is thus not only able to experience a far-reaching emotional abreaction but actually to live through the original situation in its analysis, so that with the help of interpretation its fixations can to a considerable extent be resolved.[5]

When a child creates imaginary characters, pretends that they are real and talks with them, this is considered as playing, but when an adult does the same thing he is considered to be a schizophrenic, a subject of psychosis. Schizophrenia is a term coined by Bleuler to designate a set of symptoms such as loss of memory and excessively regressive behaviour usually associated with old age. The schizophrenic experience, as understood by Bleuler, is the reliving of childhood near death in the form of a disorganizaton and loss of the pieces constituting the memory.

[…] 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.[6]

Klein describes schizophrenia as the “attempt to ward off, master or contend with an internal enemy.”[7] This theme is linked to Klein’s discussion about the dynamic of envy. For Klein, the child, not yet capable of making a distinction between what is inner and what is outer, attacks the source of possible gratification. Envy is a product of a fantasy that the breast is good all the time because it supplies the child with milk whenever he wants. When the milk is denied to the child the child believes that the mother is bad because she is withholding the source of good. The child splits the object into good and bad to save the good breast from possible damage caused by his attacks on the bad breast. Klein goes on to say that it is at this stage that the child develops a sense of external reality by beginning to see the mother as another person, and the breast as a whole object which is good and bad at the same time. This is the depressive position in which the same object has conflicting significations for the child. Understanding that he has been attacking not only the bad breast but also the source of good induces guilt in the child who in turn learns why not to be envious. Klein sees guilt as therapeutic of envy. What appears to be the illness turns out to be the source of good in Klein’s therapeutic procedure. With Klein therapy is reaffirmed as the process of reconciliation through which a rational subject is created.

            4. Klein, Lacan, and Psychosis

            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 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.[8]    

            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.[9]

            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 an 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.[10]

             An aggressive attitude towards the external world damages the relationship with the external world; the external world is regarded 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.”[11] 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.

            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.’[12] 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.[13]

            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.

5. Klein, Derrida, Deconstruction

According to Klein we all oscillate between the paranoid-schizoid position and the depressive position throughout our lives. This means that none is normal since the world is a place in which all kinds of abnormalities take place all the time and nobody can be a normal person independently of all these abnormalities. One may choose withdrawal and indifference in a Stoic fashion, but who can claim that this is normal? The only thing that is normal is that nothing is normal.

Klein used the word position as she was creating her concepts to designate moods which one finds oneself in throughout life. It is necessary to underline the word position because the word position is especially chosen to signify psychic conditions rather than stages of a linear course of development. The paranoid-schizoid position and the depressive position are complementary situations  of the subject in a non-linear course of development which attaches the death drive, as much important a role as it does to the life drive in the course of development. It is obvious that for Klein the relationship between regress and progress is not in the form of a symmetrical binary opposition.

If we keep in mind that creativity means creating a meaning out of the meaningless chaos we can see how Klein’s theory can be used in the service of a critical theory aiming at destroying the static unities and recreating non-static formations. Influenced by Klein, Wilfred Bion developed a theory of thinking concentrating on what Keats called negative capability. Negative capability is the ability to remain intact in the face of not-knowing throughout the thinking process. While Klein emphasized the negative aspects of the paranoid-schizoid position and gave a more important role to the depressive position in the developmental process, Bion argued that fragmentation of previous theories is as important as the reintegration process for the emergence of new thought. For Bion the subject’s oscillation between the paranoid-schizoid position(splitting) and the depressive position(synthesizing) is necessary for a healthy creative process to take place giving birth to new thought.

Counter to the reparative and reconciliatory tendencies towards reconstructing the pre-dominant symbolic order, the poststructuralist subject of the death drive aims at explicating the problems inherent in the structure of the existing symbolic order. It is a response to the loss of an imagined future and involves a negation of the existing order which is based on negation and in which the subject finds/loses itself. The subject as the death drive is simultaneously the effect and the cause of splitting. The subject as the death drive occupies the other pole of faith. Its domain begins where belief ends. Its domain is a realm where silence and non-being confront the daily banalities of symbolic societies. In this realm nothingness and substance confront each other.

            As the subject’s intensity of self-consciousness increases, so does its pain and anxiety in the face of death. This causes hopelessness and despair which may or may not lead to a total devastation of the project of inverting and putting into the spotlight the nothingness at the centre of the subject. Heidegger repeatedly puts all this down in Being and Time when he says that “being-towards-death is angst.” One cure for expelling anxiety has been to believe in god, any other metaphysical construct, or in some cases it has even taken the form of a materialist system of thought; in all these cases, however, an escape is seen as a solution when in fact it is the problem itself. For our concerns, an escapist attitude, and especially one that tries to go beyond the physical, does not work at all, for what we are looking for is a way of learning to make use of the reality of the death drive as an interior exteriority constitutive of the subject as a creative agent. 

            The self-conscious subject questions itself. With the thought of death the subject gets in touch with the death drive and pushes itself further towards the periphery of the symbolic order and becomes its own persecutor in the service of a critique of the status quo. The subject of the death drive shakes the foundations upon which is built its own mode of being. Its mode of being becomes its movement towards non-being. It is the perceiver and the perceived of its own, the subject and the object of its actions, the persecutor and the persecuted at the same time. Through the death drive one can go beyond one’s symbolic role and become conscious of its time and place in the world. The use of the death drive requires recognition of death as the absolute master. That way one can become reconciled to life as it is.   

In critical theory we usually have to read the text at hand in an unorthodox way so as to create a new meaning out of it. The critical theorist breaks-down the meaning of the text and out of the pieces recreates a new meaning, which is to say that creativity bears within itself destructivity and inversely. It may not be necessary to destroy something intentionally to create something new, but to have destroyed something is usually a consequence of having created something new.  Jacques Derrida’s reading strategy called deconstruction exposes how a text writes and unwrites itself against its dominant meaning and in contrast to common sense perception. I see Derrida’s corpus as an intense meditation on the meaning of meaning itself. First Derrida shows the dominant meaning of the text as perceived by the majority and then he exposes the other within of the text, the minor meaning which contradicts the major meaning. By doing this Derrida makes not only the absolute meaning of the text collapse in on itself but also causes the concept of absolute meaning itself to explode from within. In Kleinian terms what Derrida does is to start from the depressive position and then move to the paranoid-schizoid position and there apply the splitting process peculiar to the paranoid-schizoid position to the text. It can be said that in a way Derrida exposes the paranoid-schizoid position within the depressive position. By doing this Derrida shows that the life drive and the death drive are within and without one another at the same time. This means that for Derrida creation and destruction are one. It is for this reason that I find deconstruction insufficient for effective critique to take place. For without the affirmative recreation of the destroyed text there remains nothing outside the ruins of the past. But that the new is inconceivable from within the pre-dominant context does not mean that it is impossible. What Derrida’s deconstructive practice lacks is the active intervention in the predominant order which would create the conditions of possibility for change, out of the conditions of impossibility. Derrida remains paralyzed in the face of the infinity of possibilities for change by declaring that the chain of signifiers is infinite and therefore nothing is outside the text when in fact nothing is this infinity itself since when there is infinity then everything disappears and nothing conceivable remains within the text. It is true that deconstruction dissolves the transcendental signified but the question remains: What is the price paid when the transcendental signified is deconstructed rather than affirmatively recreated and turned into an immanent sign here and now. In Derrida there is the waiting for the new to arrive but no action is taken in the way of making this arrival possible now. We shall ask why not recreate oneself as the new, why not do it now and give birth to the new here and now, why not be the new in action? In a fashion similar to Hamlet, Derrida perpetually postpones the action by playing with language and ends up locking himself up in an endlessly deferred self-perpetuating, self-consuming, and self-reflexive endgame with no beginning and no end, making it impossible for conscious desire to engage in effective action.

 Conclusion of Part I

Barbaric Regress and Civilised Progress contra Deconstruction and Affirmative Recreation

            In Homer’s Odyssey the call of the sirens is a sign addressed to men who can only survive this seductive call by turning a deaf ear to it, by ignoring, not acknowledging and repressing their desire for it. If the desire is of a visual object then you can turn a blind eye on it, or you may prefer not to close your eyes and just look at the object of desire; you can be a voyeur or an innocent witness if you wish. But the sexual sign that targets the ear is much more dangerous. The ears don’t have lids. And the voyeurism by ears, in contrast to normal voyeurism, can only give pain rather than pleasure. In Leonard Cohen’s song, Paper Thin Hotel the man’s pain listening to the sexual intercourse next door is immeasurable; but if there was a hole on the wall, things could have been otherwise.

Odysseus’ way of protecting himself from the call of the sirens is different from his companions’. He doesn’t stop his ears with wax; quite the contrary, he is more than willing to hear the call. But against the danger of following the call he has himself tied on the mast. The oarsmen’s stopping their ears to the call, and Odysseus’ having himself tied to the mast so as not to follow the call are the two different versions of resisting the sirens. While the former is a measure taken by the ego against the object of desire, the latter is that of the super-ego. In stopping one’s ears with wax what’s at stake is a will not to hear, pretending as though the object of desire didn’t exist, the desire is repressed, and the object is forgotten. Whereas by having oneself tied to the mast one hears the sirens, the desire is accepted but not pursued; the object is consciously resisted. But what is this thing that is so forcefully prohibited, which when adhered to leads to death, and when ignored makes life so boring and existence so banal? To this question there are two answers which in the end become one.

The first answer is Lacanian: the call of the sirens represents the desire for the mother. This desire for the mother is neither totally instinctive, nor totally sexual. It belongs to a period where the instinctive and the sexual are one. This desire is prohibited by the father. And the acceptance of the impossibility of uniting with the mother causes growth. Every child desires the whole of the mother, not just parts of her. The mother, however, is fragmentary from the beginning; in Adam Phillips’ words, the mother is promiscuous. So there is the tragedy: On one hand there is the obsessive attachment, and on the other hand there is the paranoid reaction.

There is an abundance of texts depicting the tragedy born of the tension between promiscuous women who are openly open to other relationships at all times and obsessively in love men who are hypocritically monogamic throughout the history of literature. The femme fatale is nothing but the archetype of the unsatisfied desire for the mother.

With the law of the father the desire for the mother becomes a real call of the sirens. If the child obeys the call, the result is death, or a psychotic existence signifying death. In psychosis the subject builds his life on an obsession for the unattainable mother, and his every act will be in the way of attaining the warmth, security, and protective environment of the womb. Not to become a psychotic the child chooses another way; he chooses to close his ears to the call and obey the law of the father; but then he becomes an ordinary neurotic. Perhaps the best way to choose is to face and accept the desire for the mother, acknowledge the call of the sirens, but not to follow it.

The second answer to what the sirens signify is Freudian. Following Freud’s later work one can say that the call of the sirens represents the death drive. If the oarsemen of Odysseus hadn’t stopped their ears with wax, the voyage would have ended in death. The bee that is seduced by the colourful flower which feeds on insects flies to its death. Following Freud, Herbert Marcuse says that the drive to reproduce the species, the life drive, and the drive to destroy, the death drive, are both for and against one another, that is, the life drive and the death drive are within and without one another at the same time.

There are many forms in which the death drive manifests itself. These vary from melancholia to aggression, from self-destruction to paranoia. What is common to all these form of appearance is a kind of revolt against having been born. The death drive wants jouissance, a condition in which infinite satisfaction is possible and in which repression and release, pain and pleasure do not exist. Freud explains this obsessive and neurotic desire with the concept of the compulsion to repeat; a desire to return to a previous state of being in the history of being. And needless to say, this is a desire to return to the womb, to the state of being before birth. So we can see that the death drive and the desire for the mother signify and are signified by the same will; the will to nothingness. The refusal to accept having been detached from the mother, the will to reunite with her, and the will to return to the womb, signify and are signified by the same desire. Unless accounts are settled with the will to nothingness the subject remains trapped somewhere between paranoid schizophrenia and obsessive neurosis and cannot reach the point zero which is where the real love and affirmation of life flourish.

In contemporary nihilism a mentally healthy person is defined thus: the one who has managed to repress the death drive, who has attained inner harmony and who has been able to project this inner harmony onto the external world in the way of healthy social life, in other words, one who has established a perfect balance between the ego, the id, and the superego, and who knows how to control the destructive impulses and even direct these impulses to professional life. This healthy subject has become capable of reconciling himself with life and with others, who has become a part of the world of goodness. This is the typical healthy subject as defined by the pre-dominant discourse of contemporary nihilism.

From the perspective of contemporary nihilism the exact opposite of this type of a healthy individual would be from the world of badness. Someone whose ego cannot be reconciled to the external world, and who is undergoing a fragmentation. His death drive has become so dominant that he has become aggressively destructive of both the self and the other. He is at a loss. His emotional ties with the external world have been cut. He has no sense of value, truth, meaning. He feels nothing for the world of goodness. Eventually the death drive produces the most aggressive response imaginable to the conflict between civilized progress and barbaric regress constitutive of contemporary nihilism. But that the response of the death drive is the most aggressive one does not mean that it is destructive, on the contrary, it gives aggression a new form. It is not aggression that is bad in-itself, rather, what’s important is the form aggression takes.

Unfortunately today many forms of critical attitude towards global capitalism take on a nihilistic, reactive, and slavish role, rather than an affirmative and active response, and fall victim to their own ressentiment, or what Klein would have called envy. I think a critical attitude towards this nihilism produced by the conditions of global capitalism should be in the way of developing a practical theory of theoretical practice for change, driven by and driving an interaction between deconstruction and affirmative recreation — a cont(r)action —  rather than total negation leading to barbaric regress and violence.

It wills now not exactly what occurs, but something in that which occurs, something yet to come which would be consistent with what occurs, in accordance with the laws of an obscure, humorous conformity: the Event. It is in this sense that the amor fati is one with the struggle of free man. My misfortune is present in all events, but also a splendor and brightness which dry up misfortune and which bring about that the event, once willed, is actualized on its most contracted point, on the cutting edge of an operation. All this is the effect of the static genesis and of the immaculate conception.[14]

That at the root of every progressive movement there is a traumatic incident, war, destruction, suffering, pain, is as yet a commonly held opinion. What we see through the opposition between “civilized progress” and “barbaric regress” is that both these attitudes, these two differently conceived forms of nihilism, have at their core the life drive disguised as the death drive and inversely: they are towards totalitarianism and stasis rather than dynamism and multiplicity. Both ignore the foundational question which is how to be and let the other be rather than to be or not to be. The problem today is to know how to become what one is without confining the other into the realm of non-being. How to create the self in such a way as not to be destructive of the other and itself at the same time?


[1] Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale, (London: Continuum, 2003), 187

[2] Jacques Lacan, Seminar XII, The For Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 150

[3] Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of The Disaster, trans. Ann Smock (The University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln and London, 1995), 126-27-28 “The Greek myths do not, generally, say anything; they are seductive because of a concealed, oracular wisdom which elicits the infinite process of divining. What we call meaning, or indeed sign, is foreign to them: they signal without signifying; they show, or they hide, but they always are clear, for they always speak the transparent mystery, the mystery of transparence. Thus all commentary is ponderous and uselessly verbose—all the more so if it employs the narrative mode, and expands the mysterious story intelligently into explanatory episodes which in turn imply a fleeting clarity. If Ovid, perhaps prolonging a tradition, introduces into the fable of Narcissus the fate—which one might call telling—of the nymph Echo, it is surely in order to tempt us to discover there a lesson about language which we ourselves add, after the fact. Nevertheless, the following is instructive: since it is said that Echo loves Narcissus by staying out of sight, we might suppose that Narcissus is summoned to encounter a voice without body, a voice condemned always to repeat the last word and nothing else—a sort of nondialogue: not the language whence the Other would have approached him, but only the mimetic, rhyming alliteration of a semblance of language. Narcissus is said to be solitary, but it is not because he is excessively present to itself; it is rather because he lacks, by decree (you shall not see yourself), that reflected presence—identity, the self-same—the basis upon which a living relation with life, which is other, can be ventured. He is supposed to be silent: he has no language save the repetitive sound of a voice which always says to him the self-same thing, and this is a self-sameness which he cannot attribute to himself. And this voice is narcissistic precisely in the sense that he does not love it—in the sense that it gives him nothing other to love. Such is the fate of the child one thinks is repeating the last words spoken, when in fact he belongs to the rustling murmur which is not language, but enchantment. And such is the fate of lovers who touch each other with words, whose contact with each other is made of words, and who can thus repeat themselves without end, marvelling at the utterly banal, because their speech is not a language but an idiom they share with no other, and because each gazes at himself in the other’s gaze in a redoubling which goes from mirage to admiration.”

[4] Melanie Klein, Psychoanalysis of Children, 11

[5] Melanie Klein, The Psychoanalysis of Children, trans. Alix Strachey (London: The Hogarth Press, 1975),9

[6] Klein, 143-4

[7] Klein, 144

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

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

[10] Klein, 143-4

[11] Klein, 144

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

[13] Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 149

[14] Deleuze, 149

 1. The Cinematic Apparatus and The Psyche

 Ideology is a representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.[1]

Ideology has a material existence.[2]

For Freud dreams are the beholders of the sleeping subject; dreams prevent waking up by turning a repressed desire into images.[3] How does the dream do that? To be able to answer this question we have to look at Freud’s concept of the Unconscious and how the repressive mechanism works.

With Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America the civilized were brought face-to-face with primitive groups of people. In the case of Freud’s concept of the unconscious, the civilized were facing their own wild side, the other within them. By discovering the unknown continent Columbus opened new fields for exploitation. As for Freud’s concept of the unconscious, it was its inescapable destiny to be subjected to exploitation. And with the advance of technology it becomes easier and easier to exploit the unconscious. Hollywood, political strategists, advertisement writers and many others burning with desire for more money and power thought it was a merit to develop technologies for the manipulation and exploitation of the unconscious. But Freud’s discovery was aimed at serving almost exactly the opposite purpose. Freud meant the unconscious to stand in for the other of a way of thought that tended to explain and define everything in terms of its exchange-value and conformity to the established order. Freud aimed at bringing people face to face with the truth of their being; that their rationality couldn’t exist without its opposite, the unconscious. In the unconscious, the drives that resist symbolization are in constant interaction with one another and yet without this chaotic interaction between the unconscious drives there can be no reason. How hard civilization tries to escape from the Real of desire by establishing truths with no basis and how hard it must have been for them to face the non-reason inherent in their reason, which they so proudly prohibited. Freud not only opens the way of access to that forbidden zone, but also names the unconscious mental processes, and calls this long forgotten forbidden zone the unconscious. So, in a way, Freud is not only Columbus but also Amerigo Vespuci. 

Freud calls the content of the unconscious the latent dream-thoughts. That which one sees in a dream is already a translation of this primal scene. The images in a dream stand in for the gap in the symbolic order; they symbolize the latent content of the dream, which are the unconscious drives. A dream turns these unconscious drives into the manifestations of the subject’s objects of desire. The subject’s dream is already a semi-symbolized form of the unnamable traumatic kernel, the Real of the subject’s desire. In the unconscious there is no desire, but only an oscillation between the life-drive and the death drive. What the dream does is to supply the unconscious with objects to which it can attach its drives, give them a meaning and turn the unconscious drives into conscious desire. Dreams keep the natural and the cultural separate but contiguous to one another. Dream language is closer to the dynamics of the unconscious than the logic of fantasies. Fantasies are more social than dreams and are the supports of the symbolic order, they are the products of a desire to fill the gap between the Real and the social reality. So the objects of desire, with which the subject finds itself bombarded by, shape the subject’s unconscious drives and determine what the subject will desire, what it will not.

The object of one’s desire plays a dominant role in the subject’s identification processes. But there remains a gap between the object of desire and the object of identification. This split between the subject’s objects of desire and objects of identification, the choice the subject makes at this very moment determines the subject’s identity, and yet the subject is not conscious enough to make the simplest choices, so this choice always turns out to be a forced choice.

We can see an example of this forced choice in Levity directed by Ed Solomon (2002). It is a film about a murderer who kills a young cashier and consequently gets jailed for life. He is released on good behaviour but when it comes to getting out of the prison he refuses to do so. They tell him that he has no choice but to choose freedom, the life outside the prison. He unwillingly leaves the prison. This man was feeling so guilty that being in prison was his only way of surviving the anxiety caused by his aggressive behaviour in the past. He believed he deserved this punishment and was happy to participate in its execution. He was, if not his own persecutor, at least his own executor. He became his own crime and punishment at the same time. It was his free choice to be in prison, that way he fantasized he was being redeemed. And with this phantasm he was cutting himself off from carrying the burden of his crime as a free man. With the jury telling him that he is now free, he does not have to be punished anymore, his fantasy collapses. He realizes that redemption requires an external source. That by believing he was being redeemed didn’t mean that he was really being redeemed. He has to be redeemed in the eyes of another, in the eyes of the one’s who suffered the most because of his crime.

In a standard process of development the subject is expected to choose the objects of desire from the opposite sex and the objects of identification from the same sex. The subject introjects the objects of the same sex as objects of identification and the objects of the opposite sex as objects of desire. In turn the subject projects his introjected objects of identification onto his objects of desire, the other sex, strengthening his image of self in the eyes of the objects of the same sex who are his/her objects of identification.

What turns the latent content into the manifest-content and manifest-content into symbols is called the transference mechanism, or the dream-work. The analyst becomes the machine interpreting the patient’s free associations, which is what the dream-work does to the unconscious drives and turns them into metaphors.

For, owing to the fact that dream-interpretation traces the course taken by the dream-work, follows the paths which lead from the latent thoughts to the dream-elements, reveals the way in which verbal ambiguities have been exploited, and points out the verbal bridges between different groups of material—owing to all this, we get an impression now of a joke, now of schizophrenia, and are apt to forget that for a dream all operations with words are no more than a preparation for a regression to things.[4]

Freud’s technique of interpretation aims at a reversed metamorphosis; the analytical process tries to reach the hidden-content through the manifest-content. So Freud has to retranslate the manifest content as close to the hidden content as possible. The hidden content is unattainable, and yet the reversed metamorphosis at least makes some progress in the way of initiating a backward motion, a regressive process. To initiate this regressive process Freud uses the technique of free association. Free association is used to make hitherto unmade connections between the manifestations of the unconscious in the way of translating the unconscious into conscious or semi-conscious terms. Repression produces the hidden content of the unconscious. Free association aims at making the hidden content manifest itself in and through metaphorical constructions of reality. If the therapeutic process is successful the subject begins to use metonymies.

With Freud’s free association and Klein’s play therapy, the subject learns to give a voice to the traumatic kernel, the Real of his unsatisfied desires. The subject’s realization of the unnamability of the Real is a sign of progress in the therapeutic process. So in a way the therapeutic process has to fail for progress to take place. The quality and the quantity of gaps, black holes, or white spots within a discourse produced by free association show the extent of loss and dissatisfaction of the subject.

  According to Freud the dream-work deforms the unconscious drives and turns them into a more acceptable form so that the subject can come face to face with them. This is like an actor who changes his costume and appears with a different identity in the second stage of a play. There are two psychic processes involved in the dream-work. These are displacement and condensation. For Freud the process of displacement involves a kind of change of roles between cultural values and libidinal energy. The aim of displacement is to project substitutes for the unnamable and disowned aspects of the self so that the subject can reintroject those split off parts of the self in more acceptable forms. This process of displacement can be clearly observed in fetishism. A fetishist directs his/her desire to an object other than the real object of desire. For instance if the object of desire is the penis the subject of desire replaces penis with a shoe; the shoe stands in for the real object of desire.

As for condensation, it involves a concentration of secret thoughts at one single point, a kind of movement towards one single object, so all the thoughts intermingle and disappear, they become an unrecognisable multitude of thoughts. Condensation is a kind of unconsciously willed confusion; a defence mechanism to keep the unwanted qualities of the self at bay.

 2. Dream, Fantasy, and Film

If the film and the daydream are in more direct competition than the film and the dream, if they ceaselessly encroach upon each other, it is because they occur at a point of adaptation to reality – or at a point of regression, to look at it from the other direction – which is nearly the same; it is because they occur at the same moment: the dream belongs to childhood and the night; the film and the daydream are more adult and belong to the day, but not midday – to the evening, rather.[5]

In The Imaginary Signifier Christian Metz emphasizes a very important aspect of the relationship between cinema and the unconscious. The dream belongs to childhood, to the night, to the unconscious, the Real; whereas film and fantasy belong to adulthood, the symbolic, and the consciousness; and yet, this consciousness itself belongs to the evening. What Metz actually wants to say is that even though cinema has shown us a lot it has at the same time hidden a lot of things from us; for each film is a veil on the Real, a single beam of light comes out of the projector and in the dimness of the cinematic apparatus one is almost hypnotized, looks semi-consciously at what he is being shown.

Imagine yourself sitting in a cinema auditorium on a rather comfortable seat. This is one of the very rare occasions when you would agree to sit quietly in the dark with a crowd of other people. The only source of light is the projector projecting the images onto the white wall. The white wall turns the projected light into motion pictures and you are looking at the pictures in wonderment. On your comfortable seat you are relaxed, passive, and your ability to move is restricted by an external force. This condition of yours is very similar to the condition of a half-asleep person between reality and the dream world. Watching a movie is like a passage from being awake to being asleep. As a spectator you are aware that what you are watching is not real and still you make yourself believe that it is not totally fictional. Watching a movie you are like someone who is just about to wake up or just about to fall asleep.

The dream materials are visual and audio images, just like the matter of cinema. Nevertheless, there are three fundamental and semiological differences between dreams and films. In The Imaginary Signifier Christian Metz distinguishes these three differences between dream and film as follows.

[…]first, the unequal knowledge of the subject with respect to what he is doing; second, the presence or absence of real perceptual material; and third, a characteristic of the textual content itself(text of the film or dream), about which we are now going to speak.[6]

            All of these differences are linked to the degree of wakefulness of the subject. In sleep there is total illusion, the subject may play a role in the dream’s text. But in cinema the subject cannot see itself on the screen, unless, of course, he is an actor or an actress who has taken part in the film. In cinema there is a sense of reality which puts a distance between yourself and what you see. When you are awake you are to a certain extent aware of the fact that what you are watching is fictional.

The second difference which Metz points out is concerned with the existence of the matter of perception. The cinematographic image is a real image, an image that is of a material; visual, audio. But in dreaming there is no matter of the dream, dream material is completely illusory, it doesn’t exist as an external object.

The third difference involves the textual content of the film itself. Compared to a dream the fictional film is much more logical. If we keep the likes of David Lynch movies apart the plot of the film mostly develops with a certain order conforming to the expectations of the spectator. But in dreams there is no plot for no one is telling anything to another person. The dream belongs nowhere.

After distinguishing these differences between cinema and dream Metz introduces another term. This is what Freud called ‘Tagtarum,’ or the daydream, a conscious fantasy. The daydream is closer to film in that there is a certain degree of consciousness operating within the subject when he/she is daydreaming, or fantasizing. Daydreams too, are experienced when one is awake. The reason why film has a logical structure is that the actors, directors, and spectators are all awake. Making and watching a film involves conscious, pre-conscious, and sub-conscious psychic processes. Fantasizing also involves these three psychic processes, and yet since a film is produced by conscious choices, it has a certain purpose, a certain meaning to convey; what it will become is planned beforehand, its every detail is written down. But fantasizing is a totally psychic process which has gaps and disconnections in it. When we are fantasizing our intention is not to convey a certain meaning to another person. In both processes Metz sees at work a kind of voluntary simulation. Both the daydreamer and the film spectator know that what they are seeing or imagining is not real; but they still make themselves believe that the case is the opposite.

Both the film spectator and the daydreamer replace the reality principle with the pleasure principle. In both cases there is a willed belief in an illusion that what one is seeing or imagining is actually taking place. Without this belief the subject cannot take any pleasure in fantasizing and watching a film. The sole purpose of these activities is to compensate for an unsatisfying reality. Fantasies and films are the supports of social reality, with them the Real is kept at bay, and the gap between the subject and nothingness is maintained. Nothingness is internal to the symbolic order. Just as the dreaming subject is governed by the unconscious the cinema spectator and the fantasizing subject are turning the Real into a source of pleasure, translating it into the symbolic order. The filmmakers try to communicate directly with the unconscious of the spectator. The unconscious is their target and they find images to match the unconscious drives. It is precisely this matching process that forms the unconscious, for there is nothing prior to the naming of the unconscious drives. Cinema turns the object of drives into socially acceptable and symbolically comprehensible forms through metaphor and metonymy.

According to Lacan metaphor is a product of condensation and metonymy is a product of displacement. The reason why these two forms of expression are so effective is that they are closer to the workings of the unconscious than the literal. So Lacan is able to say, “the unconscious is structured a like language.”

A metaphor is a product of repression and involves the replacement of an image with another image that will have a stronger effect. Metonymy is the product of using a part of the object to stand in for the whole of it. Metaphor and metonymy fill the gap between the unconscious and the social reality. They are the mediators between the two worlds.

“The ordinary reality we know dissolves into the proto-ontological Real of raw flesh and replaceable mask.”[7] Zizek is referring to a film, Face/Off, starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. In this film Travolta and Cage find themselves in a situation where whatever they do they act against themselves. They have each other’s faces. The message is that behind our faces there is the Real, the raw flesh, nothing to identify us as and with ourselves. The gap between the social reality and the Real is opened and two men find themselves playing the role of their enemy. The face becomes the mask veiling the Real. What we have here is rather than the mask being a metaphor standing in for the Real, is the face as a metonymy standing in for the Real.

Before this unveiling of a lack (we are already close to the cinema signifier), the child, in order to avoid too strong an anxiety, will have to double its belief (another cinematic characteristic) and from then on forever hold two contradictory opinions (proof that in spite of everything the real perception has not been without effect).[8] 

In some movies the failure to keep apart two contradictory positions is itself the cause of these movies’ good effect. A process through which the ordinary reality dissolves into the Real can be seen in David Lynch movies. In Mulholland Drive we have a young actress at the beginning of her Hollywood career. The movie narrates her process of dispersal. The imaginary, the symbolic, and the real progressively dissolve into one another and she becomes incapable of distinguishing between what is fictional, what is in her mind and what is social. It is only at the end of the film that we understand her real situation, namely, that she has lost the plot of her life, and she has lost it in the fictional world of Hollywood. To fill the space opened by this loss she becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol, and the more drugs she takes the bigger the internal space grows, the more the internal space grows the less she is able to make conscious choices.

 3. Projective Identification and Introjection

Klein makes a distinction between introjected objects and the internal objects. The internal objects include the introjected objects as well as the objects of identification and the a priori fantasy images. According to Klein introjection is a defence mechanism against the anxiety and the fear of the horrible inner world of the child. The child assumes itself populated by bad, aggressive, and tormenting objects and attempts to introject the external good objects. In other words the child tries to replace the internal bad object with the external good object. So introjection is a defence mechanism to protect not only the me but also the internal good objects.

For Klein the unconscious fantasy sets the foundation of all psychic processes. But Freud had said fantasizing is a defence mechanism to compensate for the frustrating and unsatisfying reality. Klein thinks that the unconscious fantasmatic production is the manifestation of instinctive processes. In Klein’s hands the unconscious becomes a much more active and productive dynamism in touch with what’s going on in the social reality. The importance of Klein’s discovery is that she shows how intimately related the child is with the social reality from the beginning of life. The child is turned towards the mother and the unconscious moves towards consciousness in and through relating to the objects surrounding him/her. For Klein one of the first external objects the child relates to is the mother’s breast. In the face of hunger the child starts crying for he/she has no other means of communication. The mother understands that the child wants milk. Presented with milk from the mother’s breast the child comes to realize that there is an external good object that is the solution to the problem of hunger. But when the flow of milk is interrupted the child becomes confused, with the effect of hunger. The child considers the breast as a bad object and becomes more aggressive. When the milk comes the child realizes that he/she had been attacking not only the source of bad but also the source of good. So the child understands that every object is good and bad at the same time, and it is the use into which the object is put that determines its particular goodness or badness. It is the way in which one relates to social reality that matters.

In the first year of life introjection and splitting are dominant; the child is governed by the death drive, which is the drive that emerges as a response to the frustration in the face of the impossibility of going back into the enclosed space and time of the womb in which all that the organism needs is supplied without the organism having to make any effort to obtain it.

To be able to cope with the death drive the subject projects some of his/her aggressiveness onto the external world represented by the mother. Resultantly the child recognizes the external world as divided within itself and populated by good and bad objects which are not good and bad in-themselves but become good or bad in relation to the other objects. Projective identification is another defence mechanism the child uses to cope with the difficulties of life. With projective identification, to protect the me and the internal good objects from a possible attack from the external bad object, the child projects the internal bad objects onto the external good object. The child confuses the external good objects, external bad objects, internal good objects, and internal bad objects. Everything is intermingled so the child becomes aggressive towards himself/herself and towards the external world. To cope with this difficult situation the child projects unities onto the external world and makes no distinction between the good and the bad. This means that the child has passed from the state of being governed by the death drive, to the state of being governed by the life drive.

In the third stage of development there is the depressive position. With the depressive position the child feels guilty for attacking not only the good object but also the bad object in the paranoid-schizoid position of introjection and projective identification. The child realizes that the loving and caring mother had been the target of paranoid attacks all this time. To compensate for the damage caused the child strives to make reparations to the relationship with the mother embodying the social reality. For Klein depressive anxiety is a sign of progress.

These psychic processes go on until the end of life. The child identifies his/her image on the mirror as himself/herself. Lacan calls Klein’s depressive position ‘the mirror-stage.’

In the Lacanian sense, too, in which the imaginary, opposed to the symbolic but constantly imbricated with it, designates the basic lure of the ego, the definitive imprint of a stage before the Oedipus complex (which also continues after it), the durable mark of the mirror which alienates man in his own reflection and makes him the double of his double, the subterranean persistence of the exclusive relation to the mother, desire as a pure effect of lack and endless pursuit, the initial core of the unconscious (primal repression). All this is undoubtedly reactivated by the play of that other mirror, the cinema screen, in this respect a veritable psychical substitute, a prosthesis for our primally dislocated limbs.[9]

In the mirror stage, a period of imaginary and narcissistic identifications, the child believes in the illusion which he/she sees on the mirror. He/she sees himself/herself as a totality and believes that that’s what he/she really is. It is a period of conflict between the self as the other’s object of desire and the self as the subject sees it. The reflection on the mirror starts the process of introjection and projective-identification that will go on until death.

[…] the experience of the mirror as described by Lacan is essentially situated on the side of the imaginary (=formation of the ego by identification with a phantom, an image), even if the mirror also makes possible a first access to the symbolic by the mediation of the mother holding the child to the glass whose reflection, functioning here as the capitalized Other, necessarily appears in the field of the mirror alongside that of the child.[10]

            The screen is the site of projective identification. I put myself in the place of the character and try to see the film from his perspective. In a way I narcissistically try to situate myself in the context of the film as a whole person. But as soon as the screen gains this mirror like quality it loses it. With the screen there is a more advanced process at work, and this process is called projective-identification, not merely identification. The subject is aware that he is not the character in the movie, but still takes on this other identity on himself as though he is the one experiencing all those adventures.

When I am watching a movie I become the eye of the camera. Everything happens around me and I am a mere observer of all these things. In a way, as I’m watching a movie I become a semi-god-like creature, seeing not-all hearing not-all from a position not above all; from a position which renders the binary opposition between the transcendental and the immanent irrelevant. I am within and without the events and I am at once here and somewhere else with my body and everything else. It is the eye of the other that makes the eye of the self possible. 

 

4. Cinema and Fetishism

Even shit has a commercial value, depending of course, on whose shit it is. While in the case of human shit you have to pay to get rid of it, in the case of animal shit it is said to be a very efficient and sufficient fertilizer for one who has learned to use it, rather than seeing it as something worthless because it cannot be eaten. “Inversely, it is this very terror that is projected on to the spectacle of the mother’s body, and invites the reading of an absence where anatomy sees a different conformation.”[11]

Since even the instincts are produced by the superpanoptic projection-introjection mechanism in which the subject finds himself/herself, giving free rein to the unconscious to express itself only produces projections of the evil within onto the without. For Freud the death drive is the effect of a striving for infinity, nothingness, and death. I would say it is also the cause of it.

Commodity fetishism is equal to will to nothingness in that it is the desire for the inorganic objects to stand in for nothingness, the Real of the subject’s desire. Capitalism replaces the use value of the objects with two-dimensional commercial value, so the subject desires to be desired, and he/she can only do that by adapting to the two dimensional sphere of commodity fetishism; by becoming a fetish object himself. If we recall Marcuse complaining that the one-dimensional is absorbing the two-dimensional  and also keep in mind that Marcuse’s two-dimensional culture has become the pre-dominant culture of today, we can see why the solution is to say, “I don’t see myself as you see me,” to the big Other in whatever form it appears in our lives.

In our opinion fetishism only occurs in sadism in a secondary and distorted sense. It is divested of its essential relation to disavowal and suspense and passes into the totally different context of negativity and negation, where it becomes an agent in the sadistic process of condensation.[12]

So the death drive produces new objects of desire by splitting the already existing objects. The subject as death drive, by splitting the symbolic, opens up spaces for the emergence of new objects of desire to stand in for nothingness and death.

The good object has moved to the side of knowledge and the cinema becomes a bad object (a dual displacement which makes it easy for ‘science’ to stand back). The cinema is ‘persecuted’, but this persistence is also a reparation (the knowing posture is both aggressive and depressive), reparation of a specific kind, peculiar to the semiologist: the restoration to the theoretical body of what has been taken from the institution, from the code which is being ‘studied.’[13]

Writing about cinema is essentially a criticism of the symbolic order, for both writing and cinematic production are themselves symbolic social activities. Since cinema exploits the life drive by satisfying the desire for something covering nothing, writing about cinema is essentially governed by the death drive which tries to expose the nothingness behind the symbolic. That which a film veils is nothing other than nothing; and exposing this nothingness behind the film introduces a split between the subject and the signifier. When looked at like that psychotherapy becomes critical of the existing social order, for by criticizing the film the critic heals the film industry hence having a healing effect on the spectator.

It is clear that fetishism, in the cinema as elsewhere, is closely linked to the good object. The function of the fetish is to restore the latter, threatened in its ‘goodness’ (in Melanie Klein’s sense) by the terrifying discovery of the lack. Thanks to the fetish, which covers the wound and itself becomes erotogenic, the object as a whole can become desirable again without excessive fear.[14] 

According to Metz cinema is a fetish object. Films stand in for an object that is absent. The reflection of images on the screen veil the nothingness behind them without which they would not have been seen. “The fetish is the cinema in its physical state. A fetish is always material: insofar as one can make up for it by the power of the symbolic alone one is precisely no longer a fetishist.”[15]

Cinema produces unattainable objects of desire. By filling in a gap they render the nothingness more unattainable. They give the impression that there is something they are hiding and that way they produce the desire for nothingness. Cinema’s power of exploiting the will to nothingness, however, is the only tool one has at hand to criticize the cinematic apparatus as a form of ideology.

Sublimation of the objects of desire takes place through cinema and television. The more they are rendered unattainable the more sublime they become. What cinema does is to create the illusion of presence. Cinema shows an absent object through presenting an object to substitute for the nothingness. So it is the presence of an absence that we see on the screen. To enjoy cinema the subject has to know that what he/she is watching is only a presence covering an absence, that it is that which stands in for the Real of the subject’s desire. So Metz can say, “the fetish is the cinema in its physical sense.”[16] Looked at that way fetish is that which is produced to stand in for the Real object of desire, which is nothingness, and is therefore produced to satisfy the will to nothingness.

Cinematic narrative doesn’t show events in their real sequence. There are cuts, gaps, spaces between the scenes. All those, cuts, gaps, spaces between the scenes are openings to an external reality; they give the impression that there is something external to that which is actually being shown. The spectator is made to believe that there is something he/she doesn’t know as to what’s really going on in the film. This curiosity for that which is unknown inherent in every human is that which cinema exploits. By making the spectator simultaneously believe and not-believe at what he/she is seeing on the screen, cinema creates an ambiguous relationship with itself and the spectator.

 By leaving gaps within the narrative, cinema invites projective identification. The spectator projects what he has inside him onto the absence within the filmic text. He fills those gaps with his internal partial objects and imposes a unity and continuity on the split narrative of the film.

The death drive involves splitting and introjection. The subject as death drive splits given unities and continuities. It is impossible for a spectator governed by the death drive to identify with the characters in the film. On the contrary, he desires nothing, identifies with nothing, without which he knows there can be no meaning. Rather than filling in the gaps within the narrative death drive puts them into the spotlight, it shows that those gaps are interior to the narrative itself. The incompleteness of the narrative is the condition of possibility for its meaning.

We can differentiate these two different types of spectatorship, one governed by the life drive and the other by the death drive, as associationism and dissociationsim.

In associationism the subject immerses himself in the medium of the imaginary and identifies with the characters in the movie. In dissociationsim the subject introduces new splits between the internal and the external objects and hence renders identification impossible for himself.

The life drive is the will to become one with the world, it is the force behind mimicry and associationsim. It is wrong to associate the death drive with mimicry and associationism. The subject as death drive dissociates and splits given unities and continuities. In horror movies the absence of the knowledge of truth for the spectator, that is, not being given the role of the omniscient eye, the spectator becomes curious and to understand what’s really going on in the movie he/she identifies with the characters. In the face of the abundance of gaps to be filled in the process of watching the film the life drive grows less and less strong for doing all the job throughout the watching process, while the death drive is oppressed and because of this very oppression it grows more and more strong. Eventually the life drive collapses and the death drive overflows the auditorium.

Although it is itself a product of the death drive, horror film exploits the life drive, that is, the spectator’s will to form unities, bind the action, desire to get rid of all gaps and inconsistencies within the narrative. The death drive negates negation and reaches the highest possible degree of affirmation. Thanatos wills nothing, whereas Eros wills nothingness. We can see that the Thanatos case is the reverse of what Nietzsche says, “man would much rather will nothingness than not will.” Eros wants to want nothing; and strives to form such unities that everything will fit in its place; the system will lack nothing, so Eros will want nothing. Thanatos introduces splits, and tries to reach the nothingness behind the symbolic. Thanatos wants nothing rather than nothingness. He wants nothing to show the nothingness in the midst of everything, that there is nothing behind all that there is.

While Eros wants to lack nothing, wants the lack of lack, Thanatos affirms life as it is and wants lack, wants something to lack, wants that lack to remain after all is said and done, so that he can desire the nothingness which that lack presents. Thanatos doesn’t want something to replace nothing, but rather wants the lack in everything. By negating negation the death drive affirms life as it is, that is, in its incompleteness, and with nothingness and death in its midst.

 

5. Butterfly Effect 

The main character in the Butterfly Effect “seizes hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger.”[17] Butterfly Effect is a film from 2004 directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, in which Chaos Theory is applied to history and psychoanalysis. According to Chaos Theory an event which seems to be very insignificant in a sequence of events is in fact as important as any other event and the effects of a minor cause require some time to manifest themselves in relation to the macro situation.

With the Butterfly Effect the audience sees everything from the perspective of a young man who not only has flashbacks in the form of dreams, but who is also able to travel in time through reading his journals. As he reads the journal, first the words, then himself, and finally the whole room starts shaking and immediately after this falling into pieces of the scene the subject travels in time, or perhaps only in his personal history, and wakes up at another period of his own life. His aim is to change something so crucial to the present but which has taken place in the past, and so that way make some things a little bit better for the people surrounding him. But to be able to be present in the past he has to occupy the place of his presence in that particular slice of the past. That is why, as a child he has occasional blackouts during which disastrous things happen, such as a mother with her baby in her arms being blown up. His gift of travelling in time turns out to be his curse locking him up in a mental hospital as a hopeless case who believes he has journals through the reading of which he can go back and forth in time and put things right or wrong when in fact there are no journals and he has simply made all these things up in his mind. Each time he goes back in time to fix something bad, he causes something worse to happen. But that worse thing which happens takes place because of his intervention in the first place. Caught in this vicious cycle of a self-fulfilling prophecy he finally strikes the right chord, he goes back to the right time and fixes the right thing. Where he goes is not in the journals this time, for he is in the mental hospital, in a time where his journals do not exist or are not recognized as such. This time he goes back in time through an amateur home movie recorded when he and his girlfriend were kids, that is, before the girl makes the decision to stay with her father rather than her mother who moves to another city after their divorce. Her decision to stay with her father leads to her friendship with the boy and to the eventual disasters. In this time they are at a garden party. When the girl approaches him he says, “If you come near me again I’ll destroy you and your family.” And the little girl runs and hides behind her mother. What he is actually doing there is giving a voice to the evil at the right time, hence causing less worse things to happen in the future. Bringing out that repressed and anti-social behaviour out at the right time, or situating this free floating sign beneath the social reality, turns out to be less evil than the most good of society. It is all a matter of situating the act in the right time and the right place.                            

To articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it “the way it really was” (Ranke). It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger. Historical materialism wishes to retain that image of the past which unexpectedly appears to man singled out by history at a moment of danger. The danger affects both the content of the tradition and its receivers. The same threat hangs over both: that of becoming a tool of the ruling classes. In every era the attempt must be made anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it. The Messiah comes not only as the redeemer, he comes as the subduer of Antichrist. Only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.[18]  

Intervention in history, seeing in the past something which has never taken place, is itself an act opening up spaces for new possibilities to emerge. The fear of serving that which one thinks one is struggling against prepares the grounds for the realization of what the subject was afraid of.

A potential for change that has never initiated actual change cannot be a lost chance for a change. For since it has never taken place it cannot be a lost possibility.  Benjamin’s point when he says, “only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins,” is that “even the dead will not be safe” unless the enemy loses. How can even the dead not be safe? For when the enemy loses the lives of the dead will have been wasted for nothing, for these now dead people will have struggled and suffered for nothing. For then, not the enemy but “we, the friends of those who died for a good cause” will have written the history. For Benjamin it’s all a matter of who represents what happened.

“The spark of hope” that is to be fanned is not the hope of redemption, but the hope that redemption has already taken place. That we are already redeemed and yet it is precisely this state of being redeemed that makes it a forced-choice and yet a responsibility to tell the story of the past in such a way as to introduce a split between the past and the future which generates a new mode of being and initiates change. It is out of the space between the past and the future, or the subject of statement and the subject of enunciation, that something new emerges ex nihilo. The subject writes its difference from itself, all writing is writing the difference of the subject from the void. And yet since the void against which the subject writes is the subject itself, with each word the subject moves further away from itself. This performative contradiction inherent in language is the way things are in the world. The outside, the unconscious, is the shadow of language and the social reality.         

 6. The Island: Waiting for a day that will never come

The Island is a science-fiction movie directed by Michael Bay. Our hero, Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) wakes up from a nightmare in which he sees himself drowning. What we, the spectators don’t know yet is that Lincoln has actually woken up to a sterile world which has nothing do with the real world. Lincoln wakes up from a nightmare to what appears to be an unreal reality. As Lincoln wakes up he sees a screen in front of him on which is written “Erratic REM Sleep Cycle Detected,” followed by “Please Report to Tranquility Center.” Lincoln gets out of his bed and goes to the toilet. As he urinates, another screen appears in front of him with the words “Sodium Excess Detected, Advising Nutritional Control.” On top of all these a speaker intervenes: “A healthy person is a happy person.”

Lincoln is living in an environment in which he is surveilled and controlled at all times. This environment is in fact an underground factory which produces human clones. Lincoln is nothing but a clone produced to be consumed when the time comes. We, the spectators, will later on learn that this environment was an institution used by American Ministry of Defence for military research. Now it has been passed on to a medical corporation sponsored by extremely rich people to produce clones. These clones are the copies of those rich people who have various illnesses. Lincoln Six-Echo, for instance, is the clone of a Scottish man named Tom Lincoln who suffers from Hepatitis and who is expected to die in two years. This means that in two years time Lincoln Six-Echo will be killed and his organs will be transferred to his sponsor Tom Lincoln.

The DNA samples taken from the sponsors are used to produce clones. These clones are then grown in a womb-like environment until they reach the age of their sponsors. Some of the clones are grown for their hearts, some for their eyes, skins, and some for their internal organs. As they are grown they are almost injected a memory through audio-visual imagery, their consciousness is completely artificial just like themselves. Although they look no different from a normal human being they are in fact programmed to desire to go to The Island. They are continually told that they are the chosen ones, that they are the only survivors from a terrible epidemic which destroyed almost all life on earth, that they are lucky for being where they now are. Of course these clones need some kind of motive to be able to bear their monotonous existence. Their motive is waiting for the day on which they will win the lottery and go to the last piece of beauty left on earth after the epidemic; an exotic island, a heaven on earth. Through this lottery business the life in this institution is invested with a meaning. Educated to the level of fifteen year old children, the clones do not question their lives. They think that they really are chosen and they really want to go to the island. But Lincoln is unhappy and unsatisfied. He thinks there should be more to life than waiting for the departure towards the island. When he talks with his psychiatrist who is in fact the manager of the corporation, his psychiatrist tells him this: “You can’t see how lucky you are Lincoln. You have survived the epidemic, you are comfortable here, what else do you want?” Lincoln is not satisfied with this answer and goes to places he shouldn’t, sees things he better not. Following an insect Lincoln finds himself at a hidden section of the institute, a hospital, where he sees that those who are chosen to go to the island are in fact killed for their organs. Lincoln understands that there is no such thing as an epidemic, and no such place as the island, that all this island business is merely a fantasy to keep the clones operating efficiently as they wait.

On the night of the day that Lincoln learns the truth his lover Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlet Johansson) wins the lottery. Realising that the turn of death has come to Jordan, Lincoln goes to her room to warn her. After that the movie turns into a typical adventure movie in which many cars explode and many people die. At the end our hero and heroine destroy the corporation and save all the clones from their miserable existences.

The importance of this movie derives from the way in which it criticizes modern power structures which produces subjects in such a way as to serve the system which consumes them. The subjects are subjectified so as to feel happy and content with being locked in hopeful dreams. The Island shows that even what we call the unconscious is a construct, that the drives are not natural, but rather cultural products. 

            What we see here is how the life drive turns out to be the death drive. As the clones wait for the day they will finally start living a real life full of pleasures, they are in fact waiting for the day they will die. As they die the system in which they are locked gains strength. Through the death of the subjects the system prolongs its own life.

 Intermediation 2

In the previous chapter I attempted to analyze the cinematic apparatus in relation to psychoanalysis. Although I haven’t mentioned his name, Deleuze’s influence was pervasive in the previous chapter. Already in Difference and Repetition Deleuze understands the brain as a screen. To my mind Deleuze’s understanding of the brain as a screen is rooted in his recreation of the concept of death drive in Difference and Repetition. His argument against the representational mode of being is actually an attack on the transcendence oriented conceptualizations of Freud’s drive theory. Deleuze’s corpus can also be read as an enquiry into the relationship between unconscious drives and conscious desires. In this context fidelity in Deleuzean philosophy requires a re-conceptualization of the brain not only as a screen, but also as a projector.

I think the cinematic apparatus stimulates not only the conscious mind, but also the unconscious drives, hence producing not only consciousness, but also the unconscious. I agree with Deleuze that the unconscious is productive of desire, but what I think to be missing in Deleuze is that the unconscious itself is always already produced by external forces such as cinema, media, and television. So the desire produced by the unconscious is always already adaptive to the predominant form of desiring which serves the reproduction of the predominant order of things.

In the next chapter I shall attempt to provide a detailed analysis of Cronenberg’s movies in relation to the concepts of projective identification, introjection, creativity and destructivity.

 


[1] Louis Althusser, The Ideological State Apparatuses, from “Mapping Ideology,” ed. Slavoj Zizek (London: Verso, 1994), 123

[2] Althusser, 125

[3] Sigmund Freud, The Interpreation of Dreams, 101-8

[4] Sigmund Freud, On Metapsychology, trans. James Strachey, ed. Angela Richards (London: Penguin, 1984), 237

[5] Christian Metz, Psychoanalysis and Cinema: The Imaginary Signifier, trans. Celia Britton, Annwyl Williams, Ben Brewster and Alfred Guzetti (London: Macmillan, 1982), 136-7

[6] Metz, 120

[7] Slavoj Zizek, Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? (London: Verso, 2001), 183

[8] Metz, 70

[9] Metz, 4

[10] Metz, 6

[11] Metz, 69

[12] Gilles Deleuze, Coldness and Cruelty, trans. Jean McNeil (New York: Zone, 1989), 32

[13] Metz, 80

[14] Metz, 75

[15] Metz, 75

[16] Metz, 75

[17] Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” Ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (Glasgow: Fontana Press, 1973), 257

[18] Benjamin, 257

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