Saturday, April 25, 2015

On Psychosis

What gets lost is the basic paradox of the symbolic which at the same time involves the expulsion of the Real from the symbolic and the rejection of s signifier; that is, in the case of the symbolic Other, external and internal limitation coincide, the symbolic order can only emerge as delimited from the Real if it is also delimited from itself, missing/excluding a central part of itself, non-identical with itself. There is thus no Ausstossung without a Verwerfung - the price the symbolic has to pay in order to delimit itself from the Real is the truncation of its own being. That is what Lacan is aiming at with his formula that there is no big Other, no Other of the Other - and, as late Lacan recognized very well, this implies that, at a certain most basic level, we are all psychotics. However, one should be more precise here: the signifier which is foreclosed is not simply missing, lacking, but it is a signifier which stand in for the barred A, for the lack of signifier, for the incompleteness-inconsistency of the symbolic field. What this means is that the problem of the psychotic is not that he dwells in a truncated symbolic order (Other), but, on the contrary, that he dwells in a 'complete' Other, an Other which lacks the inscription of its lack.

There is thus no need to posit two phases - first symbolization, the rise of the primary battery of signifiers, through the expulsion of the Real, then the exclusion of the signifier. The two processes are one and the same, and psychosis comes afterwards, in a second stage, when - or if - the signifier which stands for the very incompleteness-inconsistency of the Other, which registers this incompleteness, is foreclosed.

In what precise sense, then, does that which is foreclosed from the symbolic return in the Real? Let us take the verbal hallucinations: their context is massively symbolic, and they are, at the level of their ordinary meaning, fully understood by the (psychotic) subject; so, again, in what sense do they belong to the Real" Two interconnected features make them real: isolation and certitude. They are foreclosed in the precise sense that they don't 'exist' for the subject: they ex-sist, persevere and impose themselves outside the symbolic texture. They are isolated from their symbolic context which is, by definition, the context of trust and suppositiion, the context in which every presence arises against the background of its possible absence, and every certitude is accompanied by a possible doubt - in other words, the context of certitude ultimately has to rely on a basic wager to trust the symbolic order. In religion proper, one does not know G_d; one takes the risk of trusting Him, believing in Him. A psychotic, on the contrary, procedes like the Slovene punk group Laibach, who, in aninterview in the US about their relationto G_d, answered with the reference to the "In G_d we trust' printed on every dollar bill: "Like you Americans, we believe that G_d exists, but unlike you, we do not trust Him.' Or as Balmes put it succinctly, it is not that psychotics believe IN the voices they hear, they simply BELIEVE THEM. This is why psychotics have absolute certitude about the voices they hear: they do not trust them, of course - they take them for evil voices, voices which want to hurt them - but they simply know that these voices are real, and it is this very absolute certitude that makes the voices real....


...That is to say being and lack-of-being coincide, they are two sides of the same coin - the clearance of the horizon within which things fully 'are', or exist, only emerges on condition that something is excluded ('sacrificed') from it, that something in it is 'missing at its own place'. More precisely, what characterizes a symbolic universe is a minimal gap between the elements and the places they occupy: the two dimensions do not directly coincide, as is the case in the flat positivity of the Real, which is why, in the differential order of signifiers, absence as such can count as a positive feature (as Sherlock Holmes put it in the immortal line from 'The Silver Blaze', what was curious about the curious dog in the night-time was that the dog did nothing, that it did not bark when one would have expected it to do so). And Lacan's basic 'ontological' hypothesis is that, if this minimal gap between elements and their places is to occur, something - some element - has to be radically (constitutively) excluded; Lacan's name for this object which is always (by definition, structurally) missing at its own place, which coincides with its own lack, is, of course, the objet petit a as the object cause of desire or surplus-enjoyment, a paradoxical object which gives body to the very lack-of-being. The objet petit a is that which should be excluded from the framework of reality, that whose exclusion constitutes and sustains the frame of reality. What happens in psychosis is precisely the inclusion of this object into the framework of reality: it appears within reality as the hallucinated object (the voice or gaze which haunts a paranoiac, etc.), with the logical consequence that this inclusion leads to the loss of reality, that the subject's 'sense of reality' disintigrates.

Throughout his work, Lacan varies Heidegger's motif of language as the house of being: language in not man's creation and instrument, it is man who 'dwells' in language - 'Psychoanalysis should be the science of language inhabited by the subject.' Lacan's 'paranoid' twist, his additional Freudian turn of the screw, comes with his characterization of this house as a torture-house. In light of the Freudian experience, man is a subject caught in and tortured by language. Man does not dwell in a mere 'prison-house of language' (the title of Fredric Jameson's early book on structuralism), he dwells in a torture-house of language: the entire range of psychopathologies deployed by Freud, from conversion-symptoms inscribed into the body up to total psychotic breakdowns, are the scars of this permanent torture, so many signs of an original and irremediable gap between the subject and language, so many signs that man can never be at home in his own home...
- Slavoj Zizek, "The Ticklish Subject"

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
- Wm. Shakespeare

Saturday, April 18, 2015


if strangers meet
life begins-
not poor not rich
(only aware)
kind neither
nor cruel
(only complete)
i not not you
not possible;
only truthful
if strangers(who
deep our most are

(and so to dark)
- ee cummings, "(once like a spark)"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

On Time

A poem from John Poch‘s new book Fix Quiet, winner of the 2014 New Criterion Poetry Prize, turned into a film by Alex Henery. The Vimeo description notes that it was “Shot in Lubbock Texas over the Thanksgiving weekend.”
from Moving poems.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Busking in Denmark kissing the man's ass in Canberra!
Proof that talent isn't enough, you've got to kiss the bosses ass if you ever want to break past the gatekeepers.

Towards a New Form of Urban Art...

"Attention," a voice began to call, and it was as though an oboe had suddenly become articulate. "Attention," it repeated in the same high, nasal monotone. "Attention." Lying there like a corpse in the dead leaves, his hair matted, his face grotesquely smudged and bruised, his clothes in rags and muddy, Will Farnaby awoke with a start. Molly had called him. Time to get up. Time to get dressed. Mustn't be late at the office. "Thank you, darling," he said and sat up. A sharp pain stabbed at his right knee and there were other kinds of pain in his back, his arms, his forehead. "Attention," the voice insisted without the slightest change of tone. Leaning on one elbow, Will looked about him and saw with bewilderment, not the gray wallpaper and yellow curtains of his London bedroom, but a glade among trees and the long shadows and slanting lights of early morning in a forest. "Attention"? Why did she say, "Attention"? "Attention. Attention," the voice insisted—how strangely, how senselessly!
- Aldous Huxley, "Island"
"Attention", a voice began to call, and it was as though an oboe had suddenly become articulate. "Attention", it repeated in the same high, nasal monotone. "Attention" (...)

"Is that your bird?" Will asked.

She shook her head.

Mynahs are like the electric light", she said. "They don't belong to anybody."

Why does he say those things?

"Because somebody taught him", she answered patiently...

But why did they teach him those things? Why 'Attention'? Why 'Here and now?'

"Well ..." She searched for the right words in which to explain the self-evident to this strange imbecile. "That's what you always forget, isn't it? I mean, you forget to pay attention to what's happening. And that's the same as not being here and now."

"And the mynahs fly about reminding you—is that it?"

She nodded. That, of course, was it. There was a silence.
Aldous Huxley, "Island"

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Paranoid Particulars

I can't go out no more.
There's a man by the door
in a raincoat
smoking a cigarette


I've put him in my diary
and the mailers are all lined up
on the bed, bloody in the glow
of the bar sign next door

He knows that if I die
(or even drop out of sight)
the diary goes and everyone knows
the CIA's in Virginia

500 mailers bought from
500 drug counters each one different
and 500 notebooks
with 500 pages in everyone.

I am prepared.
* * *

I can see him from up here.
His cigarette winks from just
above his trenchcoat collar
and somewhere there's a man on a subway
sitting under a Black Velvet as thinking my name.

Men have discussed me in back rooms.
If the phone rings there's only a dead breath.
In the bar across the street a snubnose
revolver has changed hands in the men's room
Each bullet has my name on it.
My name is written in back files
and looked up in newspaper morgues.

My mother's been investigated;
than God she's dead.

They have writing samples
and examine the back loops of pees
and crosses of tees.

My brother's with them, did I tell you?
His wife is Russian and he
keeps asking me to fill out forms.
I have it in my diary.
do listen:
you must listen.

In the rain, at the bus stop.
black crows with black umbrellas
pretend to look at their watches, but
it's not raining. Their eyes are silver dollars.
Some are scholars in the pay of the FBI
most are the foreigners who pour through
our streets. I fooled them
got off the bus at 25th and Lex
where a cabby watched me over his newspaper.

In the room above me an old woman
has put an electric suction cup on her floor
It sends out rays through my light fixture
and now I write in the dark
by the bar sign's glow.
I tell you I know.

They sent me a dog with brown spots
and a radio cobweb in its nose.
I drowned it in the sink and wrote it up
in folder GAMMA.

I don't look in the mailbox anymore.
The greeting cards are letter-bombs.

(Step away! Goddam you!
Step away. I know tall people!
I tell you I know very tall people!)
The luncheonette is laid with talking floors
and the waitress says it was salt but I know arsenic
when it's put before me. And the yellow taste of mustard
to mask the bitter odor of almonds.

I have seen strange lights in the sky.
Last night a dark man with no face crawled through nine miles
of sewer to surface in my toilet, listening
for phone calls through the cheap wood with
chrome ears.
I tell you, man, I hear.

I saw his muddy handprints
on the porcelain.

I don't answer the phone now,
have I told you that?

They are planning to flood the earth with sludge.
They are planning break-ins

They have got physicians
advocating weird sex positions.
They are making addictive laxatives
and suppositories that burn.

They know how to put out the sun
with blowguns.

I pack myself in ice--have I told you that?
It obviates their infrascopes.

I know chants and I wear charms.
You may think you have me but I could destroy you.
any second now.

Any second now.

Any second now.

Would you like some coffee, my love?

Did I tell you I can't go out no more?
There's a man by the door
in a raincoat
Stephen King, "paranoid: a chant" (Skeleton Key)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Walkabout

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
- ts eliot, The Journey of the Magi"