Superego status & TTC ‘Flesh is suns’

May 10, 2008

(1) totalitarianism & S2/a; Status of superego is S2. Nice, brief discussion (For they 235-6)

(2) At the beginning of the Intro section of Function & Field , Lacan quotes R. Browning, “‘Flesh composed of suns. How can such be?’ exclaim the simple ones.”

Lacan then immediately states, “Such is the fright that seizes man when he discovers the true face of his power that he turns away from it in the very act – which is his act – of laying it bare.”

Is this not analogous to Z/H’s speculative ‘Spirit is a bone’ & ‘Wealth is self’ formulation? It actually brought to mind our discussion yesterday of the ‘positing of the presuppositions’ logic.

In looking up the above superego citation, I came across Z’s somewhat concise “Everything can be mediated, sublated in its immediacy & positied as an ideal moment of rational totality – on condition that this very power of absolute mediation is embodied anew in the form of its opposite; of an inert, non-rational residue of natural immediacy.” (For they 85)

This inherent limitation is what we overlook & which ‘seizes us with fright’ when we ask of the Other, ‘how can such be?’. That is, we overlook how the Other lacks, how its lack coincides with ours, how ultimately our very act of positing embodies itself again thru this very same act, ‘first’ in the form of an Other to address our question to (more precisely, the Other is the very question asked), ‘then’ in the very same object that appears as opposed to us in external reflection, which is a ‘collapse’ of the Other into object a.

My question is, given this, how do we work this into social analysis, outside of what Z has already done regarding (free) subjectivity & the State & the Monarch in the end of his Sublime Object?

IE, how do we address the question “Back-to-work legislation for the TTC. How can such be?” with a rigorous Z/H/Lacanian understanding?


3 Responses to “Superego status & TTC ‘Flesh is suns’”

  1. battleofthegiants said

    In the last while I’ve started giving change to homeless people who ask for it. In the past I refused to do so because it doesn’t do anything: poverty is structural, and band-aids don’t fix structures that don’t work. But I always felt guilty about not giving up a little change.

    The thing is, of course, that I feel just as guilty when I now give them change – it doesn’t accomplish much more than me not fighting for social justice. Give a man a fish…

    I’ve been re-reading sections of Parallax… and he says the reason we feel guilt whether we break the law or follow it is because to act in terms of the law is to give up on the thing you really desire: “accepting guilt is a maneuver which delivers us from anxiety” – And that anxiety is, of course, that of being faced with actual freedom – deciding what to do without recourse to the law (89-90). (So, whether I give change or just refuse to give change, I’m still not out there acting ‘freely’ in the face of capitalism… )

    Which is what I was pointing to with the Lukacs on guilt stuff – if you don’t put any stock in the rules of the existing order, then you’ll do whatever you need to do to combat that order and not feel guilty when you break the law. Otherwise you become an ‘opportunist’ and join parliament, which goes hand in hand with ‘economism’ – just trying to get a few concessions for yourself from your employer rather than seizings the means of your employment.

    “Back-to-work legislation for the TTC. How can such be?” seems to me to be the position of TTC workers to not want to have to make their own decisions about how their work will be organized. That is, they don’t want to choose freedom over the guarantee of continued work and pay under existing conditions.

    Maybe I missed the new direction you were taking as regards this, because my answer hasn’t changed.

    Obeying the law means acting as if the big Other absolutely guarantees the meaning of the law. Faith in parliament means parliament has the power to make you go to work. I think we agree on this. I’m not so clear on where we are disagreeing…

    The move from “A to a” seems more like what comes when you give up on the Other, which the TTC didn’t do. Z describes it as the move towards the sinthome (page 82-3). And again on 108 he talks about it in terms of democracy: all talk of the ’empty place of power’ forgets that that place (which he calls the fetish, which to me says S1/phallus, but maybe I’m wrong) is tied to the exlcuded element, the element that has no proper place, the element that is in excess (which I take to be the ‘a’ ) That is, a capitalist can’t be a capitalist without the working class. Rather, the working class can’t be the working class without the capitalists. If you get rid of the capitalists by destroying the system of capitalist exploitation, you’ve got a whole lot of ‘freedom’ ahead of you …which problably isn’t as pleasant as making 40 gs a year.

    What he also writes on 82-3 is that moving from “A to a” is to lose the (political) cause as well. In terms of the TTC, I think this would have meant giving up on getting the benefits for their maintenance workers, which was what the union said it was striking over… and taking a step into the non-capitalist ‘abyss of freedom’.

  2. battleofthegiants said

    Re-reading what you have there, it looks like your formulation of “Flesh composed of suns” is happening on a different level than Lacan’s. I havn’t read that ecrit, but it looks like he’s saying people are incredulous when they discover the are themselves God (“God is dead, and I don’t feel so well either”). I.e. they are horified when they realize they are the authors of their own freedom.

    What you’ve written looks like the TTC doesn’t realize they are the authors of their the back-to-work legislation.

    Can “A-a” be used to describe both processes? Like I said above, Z seems to talk about it in terms of discovering one’s own freedom, not one’s own repression.

    I guess I’m asking if their structure is the same…


  3. sonnyburnett said

    I think you’ve answered your own query.

    Doesn’t your very questioning of what to do at the individual level (to give or not give your change to these homeless people who ask for it, in the face of this poverty that, as you say, is structural), somehow not endorse these very structures that don’t work?

    If this is true, the guilt you accept either way you act can be read as delivering you from the anxiety you would otherwise face with this truth, as you say that Z says in Parallax.

    This has only been my point in depicting the TTC strike & the resulting back-to-work legislation as ‘A is a.’ I’m sure we could be more exact in defining the terms here, of course.

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