Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fridgid Photos

Okay, so we've got a pretty small kitchen with a humongous refrigerator that's too big for the space allocated. The top of it's covered with catfood containers, crackers, cereals, and coffee/tea supplies. One side is covered with coupons and odd take-out numbers. The inside seems to be mostly dressings, jams, jellies and condiments of all types. There's a box of chocolate covered strawberries jammed on top, along with a carton of eggs. Everything else is probably pretty old, from the looks of things. The tupperware conatiner with the spagetti in it is gone now, though. I had it for dinner. So's the one with the chicken caccitori. My wife's talking about remodeling the kitchen and combining the space with our family room. It's always been way too small with not nearly enough storage. You'd all probably agree with her.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Autobiographical Angst

'Folie à deux (/fɒˈli ə ˈduː/; French pronunciation: ​[fɔli a dø]; French for "a madness shared by two"), shared psychosis, or "the theatric of two" is a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief are transmitted from one individual to another.[1] The same syndrome shared by more than two people may be called folie à trois, folie à quatre, folie en famille or even folie à plusieurs ("madness of many"). Recent psychiatric classifications refer to the syndrome as shared psychotic disorder (DSM-IV) (297.3) and induced delusional disorder (F.24) in the ICD-10, although the research literature largely uses the original name. The disorder was first conceptualized in 19th-century French psychiatry by Charles Lasègue and Jean-Pierre Falret and so also known as Lasègue-Falret Syndrome.[
- Wikipedia

Post-Modern Anxiety

Drowning in the Surreal
AS: At one point in the film, Zizek speaks about anxiety, and the idea that 'anxiety is the one affect that does not deceive', a thesis that he attributes to Freud but actually comes from Lacan (Freud said that all affects are convertible to anxiety). Also, when Zizek compares Harpo Marx to the Freudian id - a mixture of total innocence and devilish intensity - this comes straight out of Lacan. Did you make the decision not to mention Lacan in order to make the film accessible to a broader audience?

SF: I have not read Lacan and Freud closely enough to compare and respond properly. I did attend a lecture recently on Freud's writing on anxiety and I thought I could see the idea there already in Freud's writing, I will ask this lecturer who is a Lacanian. Of course Zizek is a 'Lacanian', and very often he is using the phrase 'psychoanalysis' - which I think means Lacan primarily but I think one can also think of Freud as a turning point in thinking out of which a great richness was born and I want to prioritize the ideas themselves and put them in a present tense, as far as possible. Film is a very different medium to prose writing. Footnotes are hard due to the limits of screen time. I didn't deliberately cut out Lacan's name - but I did not want to get bogged down in giving a history of psychoanalysis, which would have been a different film.

AS: If I remember correctly, the movie ends with Zizek questioning whether cinema can face the ultimate truth of desire, or whether it does not necessarily obscure this truth with beautiful illusions. On the one hand, this comes close to the Nietzschean idea that 'we have art so as not to die from the truth'; on the other, it also recalls Jack Nicholson's famous line from A Few Good Men: 'You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!' Cinema seems split between unveiling the real and ideological obfuscation, a problem that is more pressing than ever. What can we expect from cinema today, and what do you think about the notion that art's purpose is to reveal an unbearable truth in such a way that it becomes (a little more) bearable?

SF: I like what you have said, and I agree about this tension within cinema itself. I don't think it can make the unbearable bearable. It is what it is unbearable. And I think what is unbearable is anxiety itself; anxiety of guilt, meaninglessness and finitude. But perhaps cinema allows us to believe we can handle 'the truth' - and so it helps deal with anxiety. It gives us 'Dutch courage' - a kind of fake belief in our capacity to bear things. That's why its so enjoyable, like alcohol. And maybe we should be more humble and say this fake courage is the extent of our capacity to endure. We should not be ashamed, but like Beckett's heroes - be ready to laugh at our misery and this way release our selves from this unbearable anxiety - through loss itself. I love what Slavoj says about desire being the wound of reality. And so cinema puts us in a double-bind. It 'plays with our desire' and generates anxiety through this very action. Which is why directors are God-like characters who bring about as much enjoyment as devastation.
Interview by Aaron Schuster of Sophie Fiennes aout The Pervert's Guide to Cinema

Monday, June 22, 2015

Self Reliance

And when I am entombed in my place,
Be it remembered of a single man,
He never, though he dearly loved his race,
For fear of human eyes swerved from his plan.

Oh what is Heaven but the fellowship
Of minds that each can stand against the world
By its own meek and incorruptible will?

The days pass over me
And I am still the same;
The aroma of my life is gone
With the flower with which it came.
- RW Emerson (1833)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Worlds Orders

“I adhere to the view that the world spirit has given the age marching orders. These orders are being obeyed. The world spirit, this essential, proceeds irresistibly like a closely drawn armored phalanx advancing with imperceptible movement, much as the sun through thick and thin. Innumerable light troops flank it on all sides, throwing themselves into the balance for or against its progress, though most of them are entirely ignorant of what is at stake and merely take head blows as from an invisible hand.”
Hegel, "Letter to Niethammer (5 July 1816)"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Projecting the Symbolic

send out the signals deep and loud

man i'm losing sound and sight
of all those who can tell me wrong from right
when all things beautiful and bright
sink in the night
yet there's still something in my heart
that can find a way
to make a start
to turn up the signal
wipe out the noise
"Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin"

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Class Enemy

These are the two extremes we find ourselves today with regard to human rights: one the one hand those "missed by the bombs" (mentally and physically full human beings, but deprived of rights), on the other hand a human being reduced to bare vegetative life, but this bare life protected by the entire state apparatus. What legitimizes such biopolitics is the mobilization of the fantasmatic dimension of the potential/invisible threat: it is the invisible (and for that very reason all-powerful and omni-present) threat of the Enemy that legitimizes the permanent state of emergency of the existing Power (Fascists invoked the threat of the Jewish conspiracy, Stalinists the threat of the class enemy - up to today's "war on terror," of course). This invisible threat of the Enemy legitimizes the logic of the preemptive strike: precisely because the threat is virtual, it is too late to wait for its actualization, one has to strike in advance, before it will be too late... In other words, the omni-present invisible threat of Terror legitimizes the all too visible protective measures of defense (which pose the only TRUE threat to democracy and human rights, of course). If the classic power functioned as the threat which was operative precisely by way of never actualizing itself, by way of remaining a threatening GESTURE (and this functioning reached its climax in the Cold War, with the threat of the mutual nuclear destruction which HAD to remain a threat), with the war on terror, the invisible threat causes the incessant actualization - not of itself, but - of the measures against itself. The nuclear strike had to remain the threat of a strike, while the threat of the terrorist strike triggers the endless series of strikes against potential terrorists... The power which presents itself as being all the time under threat, living in mortal danger, and thus merely defending itself, is the most dangerous kind of power, the very model of the Nietzschean ressentiment and moralistic hypocrisy - and, effectively, was it not Nietzsche himself who, more than a century ago, provided the best analysis of the false moral premises of today's "war on terror"?

"No government admits any more that it keeps an army to satisfy occasionally the desire for conquest. Rather the army is supposed to server for defense, and one invokes the morality that approves of self-defense. But this implies one's own morality and the neighbor's immorality; for the neighbor must be thought of as eager to attack and conquer if our state must think of means of self-defense. Moreover, the reasons we give for requiring an army imply that our neighbor, who denies the desire for conquest just as much does our own state, and who, for his part, also keeps an army only for reasons of self-defense, is a hypocrite and a cunning criminal who would like nothing better than to overpower a harmless and awkward victim without any fight. Thus all states are now ranged against each other: they presuppose their neighbor's bad disposition and their own good disposition. This presupposition, however, is inhumane, as bad as war and worse. At bottom, indeed, it is itself the challenge and the cause of wars, because as I have said, it attributes immorality to the neighbor and thus provokes a hostile disposition and act. We must abjure the doctrine of the army as a means of self-defense just as completely as the desire for conquests.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Biopolitics: Between Terri Schiavo and Guantanamo"

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday's Song

Some are teethed on a silver spoon,
With the stars strung for a rattle;
I cut my teeth as the black racoon--
For implements of battle.
Some are swaddled in silk and down,
And heralded by a star;
They swathed my limbs in a sackcloth gown
On a night that was black as tar.
For some, godfather and goddame
The opulent fairies be;
Dame Poverty gave me my name,
And Pain godfathered me.
For I was born on Saturday--
"Bad time for planting a seed,"
Was all my father had to say,
And, "One mouth more to feed."
Death cut the strings that gave me life,
And handed me to Sorrow,
The only kind of middle wife
My folks could beg or borrow.
-Countee Cullen

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Beyond Formal Freedom? Empowering Homo Sacer.

We may say broadly that free thought is the best of all safeguards against freedom. Managed in a modern style, the emancipation of the slave’s mind is the best way of preventing the emancipation of the slave. Teach him to worry about whether he wants to be free, and he will not free himself.1
In an arresting echo of Chesterson’s reflection on slavery, the psychoanalytic model formulated by Jacques Lacan outlines that as infants we are attached to our mothers, much like the slave who is attached to a concept of freedom. The infant eventually obtains its own conception of identity through the realization that it is not a bodily extension of the mother. This shift occurs the moment the infant sees itself in the mirror as a constituted whole apart from her.2 Yet in Chesterson’s logic, the slave will never attain the freedom granted to the child in Lacanian thinking. Freedom is made unattainable by the slave’s strictly defined position, unrecognised by the law but simultaneously defined by it and enslaved to it.

In the realm of contemporary capitalist existence, human identity is configured along political, social and economic axes that mark the individual as either included or excluded. Social inclusion stipulates that the populace has to be documented on paper in order to exercise full political autonomy as citizens - outlined, for example, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.3 In order to exercise democratic rights, there must be, according to Roman archaic law, habeas corpus ad subjiciendum [a body in which to show].4 Those who lack documentation of their existence within the system, namely refugees and undocumented migrant workers, are outside the rule of law yet most significantly impacted by it. Their bodies, undocumented and therefore lacking access to basic human rights and protections, have become transformed into modern day slaves.
Heidi Kellett, "Santiago Sierra: HOMO SACER and the Politics of the Other"

Renewing the "Allure" of Roboticism?

...out of a blended capitalist vorticism/ futurism/ contructivism

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Che Vuoi?

And why the Other with a capital O? For a no doubt mad reason, in the same way as it is madness every time we are obliged to bring in signs supplementary to those given by language. Here the mad reason is the following. You are my wife - after all, what do you know about it? You are my master - in reality, are you so sure of that? What creates the founding value of those words is that what is aimed at in the message, as well as what is manifest in the pretence, is that the other is there qua absolute Other. Absolute, that is to say he is recognized, but is not known. In the same way, what constitutes pretence is that, in the end, you don't know whether it's a pretence or not. Essentially it is this unknown element in the alterity of the other which characterizes the speech relation on the level on which it is spoken to the other.

This passage should surprise anyone acquainted with Lacan: it equates the big Other with the impenetrability of another subject beyond the "wall of language," putting us at the opposite end of the predominant image Lacan presents of the big Other, that of the inexorable logic of an automatism which runs the show, so that when the subject speaks, he is, unbeknownst to himself, merely "spoken," not master in his own house. What, then, is the big Other? The anonymous mechanism of the symbolic order, or another subject in his or her radical alterity, a subject from whom I am forever separated by the "wall of language"? The easy way out of this predicament would have been to read in this discrepancy the sign of a shift in Lacan's development, from the early Lacan focused on the intersubjective dialectic of recognition, to the later Lacan who puts forward the anonymous mechanism that regulates the interaction of subjects (in philosophical terms: from phenomenology to structuralism). While there is a limited truth in this solution, it obfuscates the central mystery of the big Other: the point at which the big Other, the anonymous symbolic order, gets subjectivized.
-Slavoj Zizek, "From Che Vuoi? to Fantasy: Lacan with Eyes Wide Shut"

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Scientismic Art

In brief, this neoliberal fashion of reducing public discourse to technocratic decisions is similar to what Wayne C. Booth labelled as "scientismic" speech. According to Booth, scientismic speech has a twin brother: "irrationalist" speech. Since life is an economic process, and people, at will, can only conceive, debate and accomplish it otherwise, but can only expect that scientismic predictions will be fulfilled, then speaking of purpose, choice, and social action in societies is nothing more than these societies letting their feelings overflow. This is undoubtedly what Booth had in mind concerning 1968 world-wide revolts at universities.38

It is very probable that guerilla leader Marcos would refuse Booth's irrationalist charaterization, as many 1968 defiant students would also do. In any case, it is tempting to consider Marco's communiques as a NAFTA rhetorical twin. After all, this leader has often said that his movement in Chiapas is strongly related to the passing of NAFTA, an accord often addressed with fatalistic, scientismic, terms.
38. Wayne C. Booth, Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent
-Arturo Zárate Ruiz, "A Rhetorical Analysis of the NAFTA Debate"

Friday, June 5, 2015

Not too HOT, Not too COLD... Coffee

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair-
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?
- t.s. eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (excerpt)

Monday, June 1, 2015


Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
Langston Hughes, "Mother to Son"