Starring Jon Arbuckle as No One

September 18, 2008

This is a comic strip called Garfield Minus Garfield, where the artist takes the little orange piece of shit out of the frame. The comic above reminds me of Robert DeNiro’s “You talkin’ to me” routine. The difference is that DeNiro does this with reference to his mirror-rival and the absent voice, and Jon is talking to the missing object. In place of DeNiro’s impotence appearing as anger and the gun from his sleeve, Jon is embarrassed and “hides his shame.”

Here Jon meets DeNiro as a woman; it’s the ‘object’ that speaks, rather than the subject – You lookin’ at me? This is the object as embodiment of gaze, rather than a missing voice. Jon doesn’t know what to do – “Che Vuoi??” What do you want, object? He needs the other to teach him how to desire… only after the ‘object’ is lost does he figure out what to do.

Something instead of nothing…


8 Responses to “Starring Jon Arbuckle as No One”

  1. battleofthegiants said

    Now that I think about it, Jon isn’t talking to the ‘lost object’ in the first strip, he’s talking to the void – there is no embodiment of the void as the lost object until he meets the lady in the next strip…

    So too is DeNiro talking to the void – there is no disembodied voice as lost object, only the lack of voice…

    I still think the mirror makes a difference, though…

  2. The Universal Singular said

    Maybe the mirror for De Niro has to do with self-relating negativity???

  3. sonnyburnett said

    I’ve always read the “Che Vuoi??” question as addressed to the Other, as in, ‘What does the Other want?’

    And the subject, in asking this question, provides the answer, for it is only the act of the subject that creates what the Other wants.

    I think De Niro’s Travis Bickle character was a psychotic, so the imaginary realm of the mirror is the real.

  4. battleofthegiants said

    I think the ‘object’ in this case is the little other that Jon is looking at – Isn’t the ‘a’ also the ‘semblant’? Jon asks her how he should desire (what do you want me to want?)… Then again, I guess you don’t desire your semblant (or do you?).

    Re: Bickle, I guess that would explain why he wants to kill the castrating father of law (Presidential candidate Palantine) but instead displaces it onto the ‘underside’ of the law and the father of full enjoyment who has access to women (Keitel the pimp who loves Foster): he can’t kill the father ’cause he’d try to castrate Bickle (the cops that try to catch him, the sign on the fence in the mohawk scene that says ‘prohibition’…), where the pimps demand only cash and assume that HE is the law (“You a cop? You look like a cop.”). So, on one side you have Palantine and his Virginal counterpart who would potentially fuck Bickle if he could get his act together (Cybil Shephard, dressed in all white, refusing to watch porn movies, wanting to be properly courted) and on the other the pimps and the whore. In ‘excising’ the dirty underside, in killing the father of enjoyment, he wins back the virgin (Shephard)… So maybe you’re right about the psychosis – he ‘reinstates the law’ with a crime, and thereby gains access to desire…

    Is Bickle’s outburst the result of impotence, the inability to get laid, the absence of the phallus (Master Sig…) drives him to act out, violently asserting/instating the law? Or does impotence refer to something else?

    Look at minute 1:36

  5. sonnyburnett said

    I think you are right, there is that common strategy of sorts by men to ‘collapse’ the desire of the Other into a small ‘o’ other, so when the latter answers, the subject takes that answer as the Other’s answer, thereby dissolving the subject’s responsibility for constituting the Other (& its attendant desire) in the first place.

    Nice catch on the ‘prohibited’ sign. I love when appropriate signifiers popup in films…

    From what I remember from Bruce Fink’s clinical book introductions, the psychotic forecloses on the master signifier, so signification becomes ‘sippery’ for him.

    BTW, I just found out that Fink is in town for a full day talk on Saturday, November 1 !! If anyone is innarrested, lemme know, I’ll pass on the details.

  6. battleofthegiants said

    Pass on the details!

    I was thinking along the same lines as you re: the little ‘o’. It fits right in with the ‘materialist’ assertion that “The bid Other doesn’t exist”: The question MUST appear in an other – or at least an apparition like Hamlet’s father…

  7. battleofthegiants said

    Is it part of paranoia to become “the agent of the big Other’s desire”? I.e. Palantine gets in Bickle’s cab and asks what Bickle wants, to which he responds “What I’d really like is to have all this scum cleaned of the street; I wish a hard rain would come and wash it all away” etc, and then goes about and does it himself?

  8. battleofthegiants said

    It also occurs to me that the lady speaks to Jon because he is looking at her. So it is as you say – it’s not her desire that starts things rolling, though it may appear to be that way for Jon…

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