Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Subjective destitution isn’t sufficient so long as one continues to think of an all seeing eye or a god figure

Dejan, this would be the point of Zizek’s reading, yes. The problem is that we would have to reject any discussion of miracles or resurrection in order for this thesis to hold, else Christ is not really a man. You’ve suggested a couple of times now that Christianity is a form of belief that’s premised on traversing the fantasy and related concepts. In a previous comment on another post you focused on subjective destitution. However, while this is certainly an important element, subjective destitution isn’t sufficient so long as one continues to think of an all seeing eye or a god figure. I think that so long as one continues to maintain a belief in that voice that responds to prayer the Lacanian requirement hasn’t been met. This would hold for your comments about hell as well. It is not recognition of one’s own limitation that’s important here, but rather the castration of the Other that’s central. larvalsubjects said this on May 2nd, 2007 at 6:59 am
There is, incidentally, a good deal more to the concept of objet a than the “grass is greener on the other side”. This confuses object a as cause of desire with objet a as object or aim of desire. I’ve written a good deal about this here on this blog so I won’t repeat it here. But objet a is not the idea of the object that would complete me, nor is it even an object that I desire. A good example of this is Freud’s case of the young female homosexual that jumps on the train tracks when her father stares at her with contempt when seeing her with the prostitute. She jumps because she’s lost the cause of her desire, the gaze. But this gaze is not the object of her desire. The prostitute is. When that gaze collapses she ceases, in her psychic economy, to be a subject. We tend to be pretty clear as to what the object of our desire is and this is part of the problem. What we’re unclear of is the point from which we desire or the cause of our desire. This is why the analyst occupies the position of objet a in the discourse of the analyst. The analyst occupies the blind-spot, the remainder, what the psychic economy excludes to constitute itself as a subject. Far more needs to be said about this. larvalsubjects said this on May 2nd, 2007 at 7:07 am
A point that can’t be repeated enough is that the fantasy is a fantasy about the completness of the Other, not the subject. There’s plenty to attest to the fact that the subject is more than happy to take incompleteness on himself. For instance, many cultures historically have taken unusual events such as the appearance of comets as signs that they have done something wrong. The real trauma is the idea that the Other doesn’t know, is castrated, is divided. This is what I was objecting to. You were placing the fantasy on the side of the subjects lack, not on the side of the Other. You do this with your remarks on resurrection to. These are not the issues from a psychoanalytic perspective.
I wasn’t speaking of the resurrection of followers, but the resurrection of Christ. Does Orthodox Christianity believe that Christ was resurrected, that he turned water into wine, that the Red Sea was parted, etc? Miracles are treated as evidence for religious belief. Each religion has its miracles. For instance, Daphne turning into an olive tree in Greek mythology. larvalsubjects said this on May 2nd, 2007 at 8:02 am
Or to put it somewhat differently and simplistically, what you seem to be saying is that the Other (in this case, the Other as God) has the answer. But you know very well that the final hurdle to be jumped in analysis– the hurdle that must be jumped for an analysis to be complete –is the belief that the Other (in the analytic context, the analyst) has the answer or has some special knowledge. You keep placing everything on the side of the subject in your remarks. But the real issue is on the side of the Other and the subject’s belief that the Other has some secret or answer or is an all knowing gaze. It is in this regard that analytic praxis is inconsistent with what you’re asserting. If there is a subjective destitution that accompanies the traversal of the fantasy, then this is because in traversing the fantasy the Other as “keeper of the secret” collapses and disappears from the subjective economy and is therefore no longer a project place from which the subject can guarantee its identity.
Once again, Descartes’ third meditation is relevant here. Descartes there argues that the very existence of the cogitio in time is dependent on God. Ergo, if God ceases to be the cogito ceases to be. Treating Descartes discussion of God as a fetish or what Hume calls a “dressed up superstition in nice linguistic finery” (a tramp is still a tramp when dressed in a tuxedo), we can nonetheless say there’s a psychological structure at work here. The dissipation of belief in the Other is thus accompanied by the guarantee of the subject’s identity. If belief in the orderliness and lawlikeness of social institutions collapses (or God), then the subject no longer has the symbolic guarantee through which s/he maintained and understood his identity. It may be that I’m simply reading you incorrectly, though all your remarks are on the subject side of the equation. The point not to be forgotten is that the subject is in and through the locus of the Other. larvalsubjects said this on May 2nd, 2007 at 8:18 am
To suggest that the linguistic structuration of the subject is “magical” is a gross comparison to a miracle and sloppy thinking. An individual is perpetually changing. So how does it maintain identity through time? The signifier serves this function. The eleven o’clock train is always the eleven o’clock train regardless of whether it comes at eleven ten or ten fifty. Moreover, it is still the eleven o’clock train if it is materially or physically an entirely different train than it was yesterday. This is by virtue of the signifier that names the train as belonging to that slot. There’s nothing magical about this. Similarly, the naming of the individual and the individuals institution into the symbolic gives it a persistence and identity in time despite the fact that it’s thoughts and body are perpetually changing. For instance, the parents of that child behave towards it as the same subject even though it has changed dramatically from one day to the next in both behavior and thoughts. Again, the signifier.
Now, you’re welcome to argue that there are shortcomings in Lacan’s understanding of language and the inferences he makes from these claims; but it is both dishonest and sloppy to suggest that claiming language structures the subject is identical to being resurrected from the dead which violates every known law of nature. The former still admits of causal and physical explainations, whereas the latter do not. These physical and causal explanations may be mistaken, at which point we’d search about for another account of the subject, but they don’t resort to a denial of causality. larvalsubjects said this on May 2nd, 2007 at 8:28 am
Next you’ll be telling me that there’s no more reason to believe in evolution than creationism. Your arguments here are identical. You religious folk are a hoot in the lengths you’ll go in distorting things to try making your case. larvalsubjects said this on May 2nd, 2007 at 8:42 am
So in your theology God doesn’t have perfect knowledge? I’m perfectly happy to accept the thesis that Jesus was a perfectly ordinary man that was a Lacanian analysis before his time so long as the resurrection thesis or all the tall tales are dropped and are treated by embellishments of subsequented well meaning followers that sought to embellish his image so as to underline his importance. Under this reading, Jesus would be no different than Socrates. Of course, the wise person would do well to stick to Socrates as the gullible are so quick to believe the tall tales about Jesus where Socrates’ good name isn’t similarly soiled by such tabloid magician stories. larvalsubjects said this on May 2nd, 2007 at 8:49 am

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