Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Meeting

But O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes.
- William Shakespeare

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Please, Forgive Me if I Overidentify Myself...

Overidentification is a psychoanalytic term and potential political strategy commonly attributed to the philosopher Slavoj Zizek in his book, "The Plague of Fantasies."

Zizek says that in order to sustain themselves, dominant ideologies present benign images to the public that conceal their damaging nature. For example, capitalism is presented as ‘the American Dream’, a system that allows any individual to advance, despite the fact that it leaves many excluded from formal systems of power. Likewise, real fascists do not behave like fascists. Repressive governments paint themselves as open and tolerant in order to keep public support and to create the mass-illusion that their politics serves the people. Overidentification is a method of pushing the system to its extremes in order to expose the concealed undersides of power.

Here, Zizek cites the Slovenian punk band “Laibach”. At face value, Laibach appears fascist. Its lead singer frequently poses as Mussolini, the band dresses in military uniforms and read from their ‘manifesto’. Thus, they identify with fascism to an extreme degree – what Zizek calls “over-identification”. Laibach appears so extreme that their elicit a repulsed reaction from the public – people are ‘put back’ by how repressive they appear to be. As such, Laibach exposes the hidden flip-side of fascism, its true nature. They show the force in its most visible, brutal, and apparent, enabling it to be resisted.

In debates, many Affirmative teams will claim that their plan is part of a strategy of over-identification, snapping the public out of the belief that the system is benign. Some negatives similarly advocate over-identification as their critique alternative.
- Oy vey!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Give a Little Whistle.... for the Ego Ideal!

...winked the SuperEgo!
"Perverts Realize what Hysterics only Fantasize About!"
- Freud

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Party On!

The formula of the Party-State, as the defining feature of twentieth-century Communism, thus needs to be complicated: there is always a gap between Party and State, corresponding to the gap between the Ego-Ideal (symbolic Law) and the Superego, for the Party remains the half-hidden obscene shadow which redoubles the State structure. There is here no distance, its organization embodying a fundamental distrust of the State organs and mechanisms, as if they need to be continually kept in check. A true twentieth-century-style Communist never fully accepts the State: there always has to be a vigilant agency outside of State control, with the power to intervene in the State's business.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Living in the End Times"

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Love and Loss

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live."
- Norman Cousins
It is all too easy to laugh at the idea of an atheist power regulating (and thereby admitting the existence of) something that, in its eyes, does not exist. However, do we believe in it? In Peter Shaffer's Equus (1973), the police ask Martin Dysart, a psychiatrist, to treat the seventeen year old Alan Strand who, inexplicably, has blinded six horses at the stable where he worked. Dysart discovers that, when Alan was a child, his mother, a devout Catholic, read to him from the Bible, while his atheist father, concerned that Alan was taking an unhealthy interest in the more violent aspects of the Bible, destroyed a picture of the crucifixion that Alan had at the foot of his bed, replacing it with one of a horse. The father tells Dysart that one night he saw Alan kneeling in front of the picture of the horse, chanting a made-up genealogy of the horses parodying that of Christ in the Bible, which ends up with "Equus" -- Alan deified horses to make up for his failure to integrate paternal authority. naturally, Alan gets a job at a stable, where he becomes erotically fixated on a stallion called Nugget, secretly taking him for midnigt rides, riding him bareback and naked, enjoying the feeling of the power of the animal and the smell of sweat. One evening, Jill, a fellow co-worker, suggests that they go to the stable to have sex; but as Alan hears the horses moving around, his nervousness makes him unable to get an erection. He threatens Jill with a hoof pick; after she escapes, he blames the spirit of Equus for his embarrassment, and punishes the six horses by blinding them for seeing his shame. At the end of the play, Dysart doubts whether he can really help Alan: his treatment would stamp out Alan's intense sexual-religious life. But Dysart also notices how, although he is deeply interested in old pagan spirituality, his own life is sterile, since it took him such a long time to recognize in front of him, in Alan, the living presence of what he was searching for in old artifacts, 17

When the Taliban forces in Afghanistan destroyed the Bamiyan statues, were we, the benevolent Western observers outraged by this horror, not all Dysarts?18
17. although the best known Dysart was Richard Burton, who played the role on Broadway and in the cinema version, two other actors who have played the part evoke much more interesting associations: Anthony Hopkins and Anthony Perkins -- Dysart: between Hannibal Lector and Norman Bates!

18. Equus is usually read in a New Age way, as a play celebrating the living force of re-awakened pagan spirituality: however, the play's narrative sustains the opposite message: pagan spirituality explodes when our western (Christian) religion fails, when the symbolic Law it guarantees collapses. What appears more "primordial" is thus a secondary reaction, a myth concocted to fill in the hole of the suspended paternal Law. In a way, Alan is a "horseman" like the little Hans, Freud's child patient -- with the key difference that here the horse is not an object of phobia but an object of eccessive jouissance, of the non-castrated paternal libido.
Slavoj Zizek, "Living in the End Times"

Friday, March 7, 2014

Focused on Foam...

Aphrodite's foam
Once covered the sea
From it thus mermaids inherited their beauty.

Magical allure
With it they captivate men
Aphrodite's foam
Cleansing, stinging with longing the heart within

Do men fear the mermaid more than love?
Of couse they do!
A barrier between worlds, sea and land
Who could love the mermaid but the trancendant few?

They who touch the remnants of Aphrodite's foam
Have felt that lace made of moonlight and joy
It is they who find the purest and truest love is attainable
And truer still than the common woman selfish and coy

That truth as almost as bright as the light of God
That truth felt in passionate starlight and sea spray
Stroking the coral silk of mermaid's hair
On earth, in the sea and in the air embracing each other night and day.
- Ivan Zimmer, "Aphrodite's Foam"

Thursday, March 6, 2014

“Du kannst, denn du sollst!”

Once, I was lost
to the point of disgust
I had in my sight
lack of vision
lack of light
I fell hard
I fell fast
mercy me
it'll never last

then, in the dust
all the things
we discussed
were thrown to the wind
so at last
we begin
'cuz we fall hard
we fall fast
mercy me
it'll never last


What survived of the sexual liberation of the 1960s was the tolerant hedonism easily incorporated into our hegemonic ideology. The superego imperative to enjoy thus functions as the reversal of Kant’s “Du kannst, denn du sollst!” (You can, because you must!)—it relies on a “You must, because you can!” That is to say, the superego aspect of today’s “non-repressive” hedonism (the constant provocation we are exposed to, enjoining us to go to the end and explore all modes of jouissance) resides in the way permitted jouissance necessarily turns into obligatory jouissance. This drive to pure autistic jouissance (through drugs or other trance-inducing means) arose at a precise political moment: when the emancipatory sequence of 1968 exhausted its potentials. At this critical point (mid-1970s), the only option left was a direct, brutal, passage a l’acte, which assumed three main forms: the search for extreme forms of sexual jouissance; leftist political terrorism (RAF in Germany, Red Brigades in Italy); and, finally, the turn towards the real of an inner experience (Oriental mysticism). What all three share is the withdrawal from concrete socio-political engagement.
--Slavoj Zizek on the heritage of May '68

There is something true to the notion that jouissance has become central to our time because the focus is no longer on thought, meditation, and thoroughness, but on feeling, orgasms, and immediacy. The obsession with jouissance is revelatory of the fact that, nowadays, to be you must either jouir, have an orgasm, or refrain from doing so, which explains why hell is no longer others but impotence, alienation, and the mere possibility that existence may not be about feelings and that raw jouissance is a just merely another form of enslavement, which reinforces nothingness. This fact explains why even pain, “sin,” privation and personal morality have become sources of jouissance. It is for this reason that Sunday’s sermons in big American mega-churches look as gigantic orgies where the goal is to get high on Jesus and on the fact that he is leading his followers to more stuff and thus to more jouissance.

Camus thought that the worm of absurdity was within the human heart and he was right. The saddest thing about the 1960s and its so-called sexual liberation is that they didn’t liberate sex, but that they maximized the absurdity of human existence by divinizing jouissance in order to kill thought in an attempt to eradicate the possibility for people to be minĂ©, to be undermined. In our world, it has become difficult to find Roquentins, people who like the hero of Sartre’s Nausea think and think and think without jouissance blocking their awareness of absurdity, without seeking to escape nothingness. However, it is easier to find Estelles, people who, as the heroine of No Exit, cannot live without jouissance. In our world, the most important things are the mirror and other’s people gaze because they accentuate jouissance by externalizing it thus making it the main means of self-actualization and self-worth.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

SuperEgo Desires

Pacarku (boyfriend/girlfriend in Indonesian)

SuperEgo wants to augment and fill in for the lack in the Other, merging and eliminating difference (with fantasy)