From page 77 to page 81 of The Other Side… Lacan makes several remarks about women and men, comparing them to animals and plants. Men are associated with monkeys in that they both pull their peters (78 ) and Women are associated with plants – or more specifically, flowers (78). Lacan remarks that “it is true that we can well imagine the lily in the fields as a body given entirely over to jouissance…” (77). The mother, in effect, is the full body of jouissance.

The first thing that came to mind when I read this was a passage from Hegel’s Philosophy of Right:

Women can, of course, be educated, but their minds are not adapted to the higher sciences, philosophy, or certain of the arts. Women may have happy inspirations, taste, elegance, but they have not the ideal. The difference between man and woman is the same as between animal and plant. The animal corresponds more closely to the character of the man, the plant to that of the woman. In woman there is a more peaceful unfolding of nature, a process, whose principle is the less clearly determined unity of feeling. If woman were to control the government, the state would be in danger, for they do not act according to the dictates of universality, but are in influenced by accidental inclinations and opinions. The education of woman goes on one only knows how, in the atmosphere of picture thinking, as it were, more through life than through the acquisition of knowledge. Man attains his position only through stress of thought and much specialized effort.

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Usually when I see a chick looking at me while I walk down the street I immediately look at my crotch: “what, is my zipper open?” Today, after eating my dinner, a lady looked at me and my first thought was to wipe the corners of my mouth with my glove: “What, do I have something on my face?” Of course, my zipper is never open (well, almost never) and there was nothing on my face. I think I’ve just been obtuse: They’re looking at something that’s not there, something that I’ll never find….

I feel so ‘mutilated’…

The Other Side…

March 29, 2008

I’ve started to read The Other Side… and it occurs to me that we’ve chopped it up rather arbitrarily. I think it’s best that we go by major division, rather than doing three sections at a time. That said, it still makes almost no sense to me.

To help remedy that, I have a suggestion. There are only 3 divisions, so if we do one a meeting we can take a week after each to read something else to help illuminate what we’ve just done and take no longer than we did for Parallax. To this end I would like to suggest 3 possible sources: 1) some papers from the Ecrits 2) Jacques Lacan and the Other Side of Psychoanalysis: Reflections on Seminar XVII  3) Evans recommends Lacanian Theory of Discourse: Subeject, Structure and Society. 

The First Section of The Other Side… is called “Axes of the Psychoanalytic Subversion”, which calls to mind “The subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire…” in Ecrits. A looked at the opening remarks to that paper, and he mentions the ‘fun seminar’ that he refers to in the first part of Other Side…; In addition, the first line of the paper is “A structure is constitutive of the praxis known as psychoanalysis”. While he’s probably just talking about the graph of desire, maybe it’s also a ‘foreshadowing’ of the discourse of the analyst? It’s only about 30 pages long… so maybe reading that and “Kant avec Sade” would be plausible for week 2 (He also dedicates several pages to De Sade and truth in Seminar XVII)? To be honest, I’ve never read either of those papers before…

Does that work for the peeps?

I still havn’t sent the call out over the SPT listserve….I’ll have to do that soon. Maybe after we get a ‘ruling’ on what I’ve just suggested.

G

The heading speaks for itself.

– D

Next Meeting…

March 25, 2008

Would either of you mind if we postponed the next meeting for a week or so…  lots of work coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Do either of you remember where Zizek talks about American Trotskyists becoming right wingers? I’m reading a piece by McNally and he talks about American Trotskyism in such a way that one can see how it happened:

Trotsky’s theory (developed in 1905-6) proved to be a profound anticipation of the class dynamics of the revolutionary process of 1917. Under the impact of the revolutionary movement in China in the 1920s, Trotsky soon extended the theory from Russia to the colonial world in general. In the colonies, he suggested, the same pattern will apply: a frightened bourgeoisie will pull back from the anti-colonial struggle; the latter will triumph only if led by a revolutionary party of the working class. While there were some important insights gained from this argument, it ran the risk of over-generalization. After all, in the absence of a working class as self-organized and combatative as the Russian workers’ movement of 1905 and 1917, why should petty bourgeois or bourgeois groups inevitably pull back from leading national struggles? Indeed, they didn’t. In countries like India, Algeria, Pakistan, Bangaldesh and dozens upon dozens more, nationalist movements not led by the working class did indeed establish independent nation-states. In China, a so-called Communist Party led such a struggle with no semblance of working class self-activity, and with no creation of organs of workers’ democracy.

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Anal-obesssive

March 24, 2008

An earlier version of The Sublime Object of Ideology came out in France as Hegel, the most Sublime of Hysterics (which I discovered this week is a quote from The Other Side…). One of the main argumentative threads of the last two chapters of SOI is that while Kant kept avoiding ‘the gap’, Hegel went headlong into it. Z sees Kant as an obsessive, and Hegel as an hysteric. Where Kant feared to tread, Hegel founded a new way of thinking.

Z defines the obessional neurotic as one who keeps acting so that they don’t have to deal with the immanent nothingness that confronts them. Freud says that the obsessional is of an Anal character. In last week’s New York Times there’s a review of a book about Peter Mark Roget – the man who, in addition to discovering ‘persistance of vision’, also created what we now call the thesaurus – who is perhaps a good example of an anal-obsessive. The article’s author tells us that “He took particular pleasure in an ability to control the movements of the iris in his own eye”; that he jumped from job to job, hated uncleanliness, and his obsessional lists were what became the Roget Thesaurus. That is (in speculation, of course) his bouncing around is perhaps symptomatic of his obessional character; it didn’t get him anywhere, just away from where he was. As it stood, his lists didn’t become a book till the end of his life…

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Jeremiah Wright

March 23, 2008

Are you guys following this? It’s F’ing fascinating.

Within the context of his church, Wright is (must I say ‘from his point of view’?) blasting out truths that are concealed by dominant right-wing ideology. No doubt he has, all along, wished that these truths would be broadcast into every American home, to tear the veil of ideology from everyone’s eyes. And now, lo and behold, the right wing American media does it for him.

There is a great deal of talk on Youtube about ‘framing’ and ‘context’ and how the media is distorting Wright’s message, but let’s be frank, they’re not, or if they are, it’s pretty minimal. Which is to say, from an engaged leftist position, everything Wright says, even in the Fox news clip, is essentially the truth. (Personally, the accusation that the American government intentionally manufactured the AIDS virus seems a bit far fetched, but he’s at least not alone in thinking this.) Moreover, they don’t even have to interpret it. Apart from mentioning the phrase “anti-American”, they just show the clip, like “check this guy out…”

Isn’t this a prime example of parallax? The same object has completely different, non-reconcilable meanings from each engaged viewpoint. There is no real argument over what he said, only antagonism over what it means. One searches in vain within the text for the objet a that proves that it is finally either a thrilling indictment of right-wing ideology or an anti-American terroristic message.

Maybe I’m making too much of it, but isn’t Barak’s forced retreat from this antagonism into talk of unity precisely the liberal tolerant multiculturalist retreat from the universal struggle against oppression? An admission that things will remain the same? K. says he has to do this to have any chance of winning, that if he stood behind his pastor, he’d be killing his chances for victory. Does this mean that there is no revolutionary moment here, that he is compelled to compromise his desire? Or should we hope that he is repeating Lenin and seizing a momentary opportunity, lying if he must to get into power, so that he can then begin the real work of change?

T

Monday, March 24, 3:00 at the Future. Chapter 6. I’ll also send a message to Bill again and see if he wants to come.

Is that Easter monday? Is shit open?

As for the next readings: Do we want to read The Other Side of Psychoanalysis? If so, bring a copy on Monday and we can discuss how much we want to read for the following meeting.

And now my ideas: there are 2. First, I want to invite other people in SPT to join. That is, I want to put out a general call over the listserve. Matt, you could do the same over at CommCult if you think there are people who are interested. Yes?

Second, I’ve been reading a bunch of stuff about Lenin and the Russian Revolution, and today started to read about the Autonomia movement in Italy as well. One of the things that struck me about this stuff is that change happens not simply by people seizing power or the state, but by first organizing parallel to the state. In Russia, the soviets rose up a people were self organizing at the same time as the provisional government, and that’s how the Bolsheviks were able to seize power. Now, I know of about 4 other reading groups that are going on right now. If they’re anything like ours, it’s like organizing university classes outside the university. So, I was thinking that it might be cool to send a message across the listserve and propose that people from each group meet once every couple of months to discuss what each group has been doing. It might be cool even have different people present ideas at meetings like these…

It’s a fledgling idea, but if you guys are down I’d like to give it a go and see what happens. Shaking hands with the Deleuze reading group might be an interesting exercise… and seeing what’s happening with the Frankfurt School group would be cool too.

Anyway…

G

Rochdale College

Capital?

March 18, 2008

It first became apparent to me that Zizek didn’t really have a theory of what capital is when I read (er…‘browsed’) Matthew Sharpe’s Little Piece of the Real. It’s been a worry for me since.

Thinking about it today the movie Pi came to mind. The story is of a dude who in trying to develop a means to accurately (read: in exactitude) predict what stock values would be produced in world markets. But he has troubles: the work involved gives him major migraines; his computer tends to crash when the decisive moment comes.

In addition, not only is some financial firm after his work, a group of Orthodox Jews wants the secret they see he is on the verge of discovering. For the financiers, it means economic power; for the Jews it means grasping the name of God.

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