Archive for the 'Zizek' Category

Semiotica Agriensis 2009

September 3, 2009

With almost 100% certainty, I’ll be at the seventh Semiotica Agriensis in Eger, Hungary. My topic tackles psychoanalysis, schizophrenia and Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted and the (rather-exploited story of) Fight Club, under the title of The elusive logic of Haunted and Fight Club: A Lacanian journey into the semiotics of Chuck Palahniuk’s fiction.

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When in Fight Club, Jack realizes Tyler, being his “other”and schizophrenic self, this actualization takes place from an external position. It is an openly lacanian moment: we define ourselves from an external agency (i.e Big Other). Tyler ex-sists, being the embodiment of Jack’s repressed (and most-inner) desires. This repression requires that external (id-)entity (mind you that this play with the words is inevitable: what we repress dwells in our id-s) re-defines the subject, hence the elusive logic.

The concept of elusion develop

ed by the Scottish psychiatrist, R. D. Laing talks about an external, imagined self- position from which the subject can imagine his original self back.

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Contract with the (Pervert) Other

June 22, 2009

What Žižek tells us about the anxiety of the Other in his Welcome to the Desert of the Real seems to be working in the staggering Milos Forman movie: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. What is this about?

In his seminar on Anxiety, Lacan designated the true aim of the masochist: it is not to provoke jouissance in the Other but to generate anxiety. That is to say, if the subject acknowledges/admits his submissive position in the game, he also wants to make the rules and precisely this rule-making act is what makes the Other anxious: just think of the “innocent” rape fantasies.

For example in the movie, Choke a woman gets her desire fulfilled by meeting up strangers telling them the script (i.e how she wants to be “raped”) in great details- she admits her submission, but it is exactly which gives her the upper hand during the “play”. The Other might find the situation hard to control, that is why, for example in this movie, Victor leaves the room, being perplexed by the exact wishes from her.

In another recet reading of mine, The Collector, we can also recognize this pattern: the castrated character Frederick willingly admits his inability to cope with his dream having come true- hence the Lacanian “curse”:  we should be aware what we wish for, it might come true.

In the Forman movie, these mechanisms of setting the rules by the lunatics shows the growing tension and anxiety within the staff, precisely because their professional reaction to subversive elements such as McMurphy only involves ECT ( abbr. for electroconvulsive therapy). The method might mute the deliquent to a braindead state, but this is exactly what impotent person does: they annihiliate the weaker to prove his potency, no matter what. This is the most-inner fear of the staff: the ECT-machine embodies their inability to cope with the ‘lunatics’. Instead of curing therapy (think of how Billy’s stuttering stopped after a night spent with a hooker), the choose a pervert method of humiliating attitude towards the inmates.

Within this heterotopia (Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, Pendleton, US-OR), we can see the weakness of the medical Other: the  the able body is the image of the Other, here, are the ‘lunatics’ and ‘perverts’ different from Nurse Ratched – whose name refers to ‘wretched’?


Abu Ghraib – Revisited

March 26, 2008

I would like to reflect upon my previous post on Zizek’s essay on Radical Evil by introducing this Family Guy spot from an episode, in which Brian and Stewie want to be kicked out of their military duty. Interestingly, towards the end of the clip, Family Guy reacts to the Abu Ghraib’s happenings.

Eyes Wide Shut – Revisited

March 23, 2008
Kubrick’s last masterpiece stays both magical and mysterious, that’s for sure. It provides a journey into the night (not necessarily a ‘long day’s journey’) and into the the mind of Dr. William Harford. Bill (Tom Cruise) is a well-off Manhattan-based doctor, who lives with his wife (Nicole Kidman, strange coincidence, eh?) and his little daughter.
The movie, Eyes Wide Shut, has as many fans as many haters. Since 1999, it hasn’t had a clear-cut interpretation, though it opens several possibilities of interpretations about sex, natural instinct, marital loyalty and last, but not least the unanswered and ambigous topic of Dream vs. Reality.I’ve seen this movie a hundred times and of course haven’t understood it perfectly. I wonder it is because its complexity and multi-layered existence or simply because I’m stupid. Michel Chion wrote a book on EWS that provides a deeper insight of the movie, approaching it from numerous perspectives. For example, it mentions Arthur Schnitzler (whose ‘short’ story provided the base of the movie), a writer,whose then-contemporary friend was the psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud. It is still a debate whether it was Freud who influenced Schnitzler or the other way around. Chion mentions the importance of the in-film music. The ghostly sounds of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata fits perfectly into the realm of the movie (note how detailed the Chion book is: it marks the number of Musica Ricercata’s appearance throughout the movie),or the song that is played during the orgy-scene, which is a reversed track of a roman-greek preach.Since Sarris’ Auteur theory (1962) we have acknowledged that the requirements of being Auteur is fulfilled if all of the three criterias are present. From ‘Polyauterism in Eyes Wide Shut’ – an essay in which I deal with EWS- I’d like to quote:
He [Sarris] summarized[1] three essential features with the help of which the notion of auteurism can be tracked down. The three criterias[2] are the following: an auteur must have (1) technical competence, that is how much an auteur is aware of the technical feature of the actual production; (2) distinguishable personality, that is how he or she could “present” themselves on the screen and (3) interior meaning arising from tension between personality and material, that is to what extent the auteur can interpret his or her way of understanding of the material.

If we take into consideration the fact that Auteur theory can be applied to stars (Kidman and Cruise) we soon find out that what we get here is a tripartitive Auteur system. At least, that is what I’ve conceptualized from my tremendous intake of the movie.

For further recommendation, please visit Zizek’s account of the movie. link


[1] Robert Stam and Toby Miller, eds., Film and Theory (New York: Blackwell, 2000), 27.

[2] Robert Stam and Toby Miller, eds., Film and Theory (New York: Blackwell, 2000), 28.

‘It is qua Other that man desires’

March 17, 2008

It is such a a shame for me to have stumbled upon Lacan’s Desire-theory after my major paper. After a bit of sweating, tiring but enjoyable research i managed to find Zizek’s account to Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut concerning Lacan and Desire. These notions could have been a great help, but why?
Partly because, this is a relatively easily applicable notion to the movie, around which it is structured. We have two notions transgressing all the time throughout the film: Dream and Reality. Both are dipped by Desire, which – in Lacanian sense- has to be repressed in order for it to be able to operate. For Freud it seems obvious that whatever is repressed will return. The ping-pong game between Lacan and Freud is umpired by Zizek, who claims:

Lacan’s quip about awakening into reality as an escape from the real encountered in the dream holds more than anywhere apropos of the sexual act itself: we do not dream about fucking when we are not able to do it; we rather fuck in order to escape and stifle the excessive nature of the dream that would otherwise overwhelm us. For Lacan, the ultimate ethical task is that of the true awakening: not only from sleep, but from the spell of fantasy which controls us even more when we are awake.

Desire

Radical Evil Co.

March 17, 2008

England

Amazingly enough, after reading Zizek’s essay on Radical Evil, i stumbled upon an essay on the tortures that took place in Abu Ghraib (the case became public in 2004). This essay was published in Esquire mag (2008/feb) and gave me an insight into the personal nightmare of one of the detainees. According to Zizek under the Saddam- regime, there was a strong emphasis on physical torture, while U.S army was (has been?) focusing on psychic torment. Is there any difference?

Achmad (business man, who was in his late twenties, when CIA arrested him) was tortured, humiliated and ‘being dragged by a leash out of a cell by a girl(!) named England.’ (photo)

A year later, Nick Flynn(writer) met Achmad and saw that he (Achmad) shook his head as he saw himself being leashed by England and said: ”I cannot recognize myself as that man.Can you?”

Zizek also mentions the notion of ‘Code Red’, which is a legally unaccepted, but still (illegally) exercised method in U.S. Navy circles. The point here is the following: ‘Code Red’ is about the marines that deny orders. These guys have to be punished accordingly. So they are punished under the ‘veil’ of the night. This illegal procedure has to be presentin order to maintain the legal frame oof the U.S. Navy structure.

Paradoxic as it may see, Zizek reincorporates the ‘Code Red’ to the Abu Ghraib-case. Once asked about it, after worldwide circulation of the photos, George W. Bush reacted with remonstration. These photos- following his train of thought- had nothing to do with what the U.S. stands for. We’ve heard many times what U.S stands for, so that is the reason why we should add the example of ‘Code Red’ to this soup. Once the authority lacks in Abu Ghraib – no rules,laws or ideas have to be followed- the essence is revealed. The essence of whatever ideology.

The point is that these two examples clearly show the paradoxical and insoluble tension between an ideology and its manifestation in reality or practice.