Monday, April 24, 2017

Rene Magritte, "The Looking Glass" (1963)

...a peek behind the mirror neurons...

In his Bayreuth production of Tristan und Isolde, Jean-Pierre Ponelle changed Wagner’s original plot, interpreting all that follows Tristan’s death — the arrival of Isolde and King Marke, Isolde’s death — as Tristan’s mortal delirium: the final appearance of Isolde is staged so that the dazzlingly illuminated Isolde grows luxuriantly behind him, while Tristan stares at us, the spectators, who are able to perceive his sublime double, the protuberance of his lethal enjoyment. This is also how Bergman, in his version of The Magic Flute, often shot Pamina and Monostatos: a close-up of Pamina who stares intensely into the camera, with Monostatos appearing behind her as her shadowy double, as if belonging to a different level of reality (illuminated with pointedly “unnatural” dark-violet colors), with his gaze also directed into the camera. This disposition, in which the subject and his or her shadowy, ex-timate double stare into a common third point (materialized in us, the spectators), epitomizes the relationship of the subject to an Otherness which is prior to intersubjectivity. The field of intersubjectivity where subjects, within their shared reality, “look into each other’s eyes,” is sustained by the paternal metaphor, whereas the reference to the absent third point which attracts the two gazes changes the status of one of the two partners — the one in the background — into the sublime embodiment of the real of enjoyment.

What all these scenes have in common on the level of purely cinematic procedure is a kind of formal correlative of the reversal of face-to-face intersubjectivity into the relationship of the subject to his shadowy double which emerges behind him or her as a kind of sublime protuberance: the condensation of the field and counterfield within the same shot. What we have here is a paradoxical kind of communication: not a “direct” communication of the subject with his fellow-creature in front of him, but a communication with the excrescence behind him, mediated by a third gaze, as if the counterfield were to be mirrored back into the field itself. It is this third gaze which confers upon the scene its hypnotic dimension: the subject is enthralled by the gaze which sees “What is in himself more than himself”.… And the analytical situation itself — the relationship between analyst and analysant — does it not ultimately also designate a kind of return to this pre-intersubjective relationship of the subject(–analysand) to his shadowy other, to the externalized object in himself? Is not this the whole point of the spatial disposition of analysis: after the so-called preliminary interviews, the analysis proper begins when the analyst and the analysand no longer confront each other face to face, but the analyst sits behind the analysand who, stretched on the divan, stares into the void in front of him? Does not this very disposition locate the analyst as the analysant’s object small a, not his dialogical partner, not another subject?
- Slavoj Zizek, "Kant as Theoretician of Vampirism"

Monday, April 10, 2017

Have a Nice Afterlife!

Because I had danced, the beautiful lady was enchanted
Because I had danced, the shining moon echoed
Proposing marriage, the god shall descend
The night clears away and the chimera bird will sing
The distant god may give us the precious blessing!