More from the Z.

TPS Intro to Lacan course

November 29, 2008

Looks like it’s Seminar V: Formations of the Unconscious this time around.

I’ve attended the last 3 times & generally think they are worth it. I have my complaints, but you get out of it what you put into it, as I was saying before.

Come to think of it, Zizek has a couple of examples in Tarrying regarding the student/classroom relation and one in our current chapter (p. 142).

“BTW. How is the commodity form the object-cause of capitalism. Is not capital (surplus value) the object-cause of capitalism?”

“My qestion is if the “sublime object” of ideology is Money, is it not also the objet a?”

No!  I would argue that capital, not money, is the sublime object of ideology and the objet petit a.

Capital is the appropriation of more wealth in the abstract.  But in order for its value to be understood in concrete terms it’s value must take the form of a commodity, i.e., it must be converted back into money or some other commodity (the original amount advanced, plus the surplus/profit).

The definition of sublimation is the elevation of the object to the dignity of the Thing – if we lose the surplus-enjoyment, we lose the Thing (of enjoyment) – if we lose the surplus-value, we lose capital all together.

There’s no surplus in simple money/exchange.  You can still use money outside of capitalism.  And commodities (use value/exchange value) can still exist outside of capitalism (C-M-C is not yet capitalism).  Capital is the formal transformation into M-C-M1, not selling in order to buy, buying in order to sell (like buying labour in order to sell (the products of) it).   What is important is eliminating the exploitation of labourers who are alienated from the products of their own labour.  That is why the definition of the proletariat is a substance-less subject ($).  They have been robbed of their ‘a’.  They have not been robbed of their money (they get paid for their labour, which is why it appears as though there is a free and equal exchange); they have been robbed of what they produce for the capitalist.  That is why capital, not money, is the sublime object of ideology.  Capital is the ‘sublime material’ of money.

Since money has been lifted from the gold standard, capital is more sublime than ever.  It is more and more the appropriation of wealth in the abstract.

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November 15, 2008

You Mofos need to sign in before checking the site. You’re skewing my stats!


(I’ve started a new post to preserve the formatting to make it easier to read…)

Here is what Zizek says in Zizek! about SOI:

“…Although, I’m more and more self-critical of the first one [SOI]. It’s still too liberal. I’m for democracy there, I’m ashamed. I’m very sorry to say, [in that book] I think that there was a thing called totalitarianism which was bad, and I think there should be pluralism in society; My God, what am I talking there? I mean, you know that Marx Brothers’ joke?  – I would never be a member of a club that…you know… If I were not myself I would arrest myself.”

Now, that to me sounds like a couple of things that a liberal would endorse. But if that’s not enough to convince you that Z thinks SOI is liberal, here’s the quote from the forward of TKN:

…the underlying ethical position of The Sublime Object of Ideology, in it’s focus on the figure of Antigone, remains “phallagocentric.”

This philosophical weakness is closely linked to the remainders of the liberal-democratic political stance: SOI oscillates between Marxism proper and praise of “pure” democracy, including a critique of “totalitarianism” along the lines of Claude Lefort. It took me years of hard work to identify and liquidate these dangerous residues of bourgeois ideology clearly…(xviii).

It’s clear from the quotes above found in TKN and Parallax that this faith in Lefort is still present in TKN, and gone ‘years later’ in Parallax. This preface was written in 2g2, the year of Z’s self-proclaimed Leninist turn, and the “hard road to dialectical materialism” (the title of section 1 of the forward) ends with Lenin, while TKN ends with Hegel’s monarch.

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Zizek on the York Strike

November 13, 2008

Ha! That got your attention. I should be in publicity…

I was thinking last night, how could we analyse the strike along Zizekian lines? I mean, Zizek’s social, political, cultural etc analysis is usually around the ‘big’ national & global issues of our day. Rightfully so, since he’s writing for a global audience.

But we could analyse much smaller events. It would just be on a smaller scale. So how to do it? What is the ‘vanishing mediator’ here? Who or what is the S1? The phallus? The Other-Thing? Objet (a) as surplus enjoyment? How could we articulate the jouissance that is here, that is so critical for a Zizkian analysis? Etc etc etc….

Obviously, I have some distance from the happenings on the campus, so I can’t really fill in many of the mathemes with ‘concrete’ terms as I experience them, but I’ll take a stab at one formulation that I was repeating yesterday in our reading group.

In For They…(124), Z says that the universal Notion arrives at its being-for-itself, it is positied as Notion, only when – in the very domain of particularity – it reflects itself in the form of its opposite (in an exceptional element which negates the very fundamental features of its notional universality).

He goes on to give the example of the Notion of Man (as one that must struggle to assume his symbolic identity) which arises via the embodiment of Man in general (in the monarch*, who is already who he is, no struggle necessary).

Analogously, the Notion of the union strikers (as those that must struggle & fight for economic equity) only arises via the embodiment of the union strikers in general, in the form of its opposite, in the ________.

What is this exception that reflects the being-for-itself of the Notion? What is this element, the embodiment of which allows the strikers their Notion that they must struggle & fight for what is rightfully theirs? IE, what is this S1 –  objet (a) metonymical combo in the York Strike event? Who or what is he?

Is he the union leader? Is he on the administration side? Is it even a person? Anyone have any ideas on the object-cause of desire as it is expressed in this Strike?

*Use here of the signifier ‘monarch’ is fully intended to rile-up one of my comrades, to ensure at least one spirited response to this post.