Sunday, July 08, 2007

structuralist pornography



homo lacanianus

For the committed postmodernist, what's interesting in Slavoj Žižek's articles in the Washington Post isn't so much their content, but the politics of their style. This is the introduction to an article Žižek contributed to the Washington Post of the 24th March this year:

"Since the release of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's dramatic confessions, moral outrage at the extent of his crimes has been mixed with doubts. Can his claims be trusted? What if he confessed to more than he really did, either because of a vain desire to be remembered as the big terrorist mastermind, or because he was ready to confess anything in order to stop the water boarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques?"

...which is really antiphilosophical: presenting a tangle of discursive elements unattributed to any speaker. For whom is moral outrage mixed with doubts? Who is vacillating over whether claims apparently extorted from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed under torture can be trusted? Who wonders if Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's vanity precedes his humanity, or vice-versa?

The affectivity of this paragraph is the affectivity of structuraism. By structuralism I mean philosophy not as a practice, but as a transcendental structure.

Structuralism is first conjured in this opening paragraph, with the gaping discrepancy between Žižek's philosophical credentials and his antiphilosophical practice. His statement is a variation of Baudrillard's practice of presenting an inverted truth and alongside it a fantastic justification. The complete inversion of truth suggests the infinite extension of philosophy: a structuralism.

Žižek continues:

"It is as if not only the terrorists themselves, but also the fight against them, now has to proceed in a gray zone of legality. We thus have de facto "legal" and "illegal" criminals: those who are to be treated with legal procedures (using lawyers and the like), and those who are outside legality, subject to military tribunals or seemingly endless incarceration.

Mr. Mohammed has become what the Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls "homo sacer": a creature legally dead while biologically still alive. And he's not the only one living in an in-between world. The American authorities who deal with detainees have become a sort of counterpart to homo sacer: acting as a legal power, they operate in an empty space that is sustained by the law and yet not regulated by the rule of law."

...working the schema a different way. Perhaps Žižek intended only to advertise the work of his colleague, arch antimaterialist Giorgio Agamben. Here, a tangible problem concerning institutional inconsistancies is given a fantastic solution. To the reader perhaps inclined to query this line of reasoning, references are duly produced (Agamben: homo sacer). This referencing is important because Žižek here can only hint at the properly opaque style of his books.

(the apparent legal problem stated above is in fact soluble: in US law evidence extracted by the state under torture is inadmissible)

Again what's suggested is a version of structuralism; and this is what's important for the newspaper. Because it allows the reader to suppose there's (so to speak) another level of discourse above that of the newspaper, authorising and correcting what the newspaper has already said.

The affectivity of structuralism is built around the logic of (pre whig era) conservatism. Structuralism isn't selling conservatism but it does dramatically ask: what if conservatism is after all reasonable? It restates the idea of a mysterious quasi-divine social order, not as the basis of political commitment but as a horrifying possibility undermining political commitment. It's surely of a piece with the vague politics of the middle class; predicated on a worried sort of liberalism. But again it's not too far from conservatism proper, which was always an orthodoxy of absent arguments; the arguments of conservatives being nearly always bad (there's also a relation to masochism).

The tendancy of the newspaper reader to countenance every kind of insult, albeit to only a small degree, probably derives his everyday use of two incompatible forms of argument:

1. ordinary arguments from experience

2. "reverse induction" arguments such as are required to understand newspapers*

but it truly is only the middle classes whose permanent tutelary role allows them to dream so profoundly the bureaucratisation of all social practice.

* i.e. what I later call arguments based on "naturalistic-inductive" logic

49 comments:

dejan said...

Structuralism isn't selling conservatism but it does dramatically ask: what if conservatism is after all reasonable? It restates the idea of a mysterious quasi-divine social order, not as the basis of political commitment but as a horrifying possibility undermining political commitment. It's surely of a piece with the vague politics of the middle class; predicated on a worried sort of liberalism.

This is a complex issue to which I have dedicated much thought, but still don't have an answer.

Which structuralism are you addressing though? Claude Levi Stross? Roland Barthes? Someone else?

At the clinic, the structural reasoning is more or less that the symptom is part of a greater whole - the structure. I have EXPERIENCE to tell you that this is fairly correct, in the realm of psychological disorders.

But in society, I do believe that structuralism might be a sort of reactionary, kvetching-style middle class politics.

The problem - related to the previous question - is exactly to whom do we address radical action? When those old Marxist ideals don't exist anymore?

I think you're right that the world is teetering on the brink of a prelude to the First World War, all in retro fashion, and I'm sure these issues will become more dramatic as we age.

catmint said...

thanks Dejan

"Which structuralism are you addressing though?"

I think it's maybe all derived from Jung, in terms of its affectivity, though the methodological basis comes from somewhere else

catmint said...

nb I've altered most of this article today

dejan said...

thanks Dejan

"Which structuralism are you addressing though?"

I think it's maybe all derived from Jung, in terms of its affectivity, though the methodological basis comes from somewhere else

Jung has nothing to do with Lacan... Lacan draws on structuralist linguistics from Ferdinand De Saussire, where a sign is determined by its position in the chain of other signs i.e. relation with them. This is something entirely other than the ''archetype''.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

Marx on Proudhon:

"had a natural inclination for dialectics. But as he never grasped the really scientific dialectics, he never got further than sophistry. In fact, this hung together with his petit-bourgeois viewpoint. The petit bourgeois is... composed of On the One Hand and On The Other Hand. This is so in his economic interests and hence also in his politics, in his religious, scientific and artistic views. It is so in his morals, so in everything. He is a living contradiction. If...the bourgeois is in addition a gifted man, he will soon learn to play with his own contradictions and develop them according to circustances into striking, ostentatious, occasionally scandalous and occasionally brilliant paradoxes. Charlatanism in science and accomodation in politics are inseperable from such a point of view. There remains only one governing motive, the vanity of the subject, and the only question for him, as for all vain people, is the success of the moment, the attention of the day. Thus the simple moral sense, which always kept a Rousseau, for example, far from even the semblance of compromise with the powers that be, is necessarily extinguished."

Really could have been writing about SZ.

catmint said...

thanks Dejan

I haven't checked the dates as per who influenced who, but I think there's an affinity between Jung and Levi-Strauss in terms of how their work works as literature though the science that underpins their work is different. Zizek's newspaper articles hardly ever mention Lacan. I'm conjecturing that the effect that's being prompted in these articles, consciously or not, is a version of the structuralist effect. You know what I mean: "you thought you were doing x for this reason? on the contrary you are doing x for this reason!"

I don't have the time or inclination to write a history of structuralist thought, its presuppositions, régime of affectivity, conditions of reproduction, consequences. Maybe I could write a 400 word blog post. Three precursors: James Frazer, Ernest Renan, Friedrich Nietzsche.

catmint said...

Chabert it's uncanny!

what's disconcerting isn't so much that S/Z makes his living in this way, which isn't so unusual, but that people who are basically decent, and are not educationally deprived, accept him as both a great sage and a leftist radical with hardly any prompting. Zizek doesn't really make these claims himself (his PR people obviously do). It's just read into the narrative.

dejan said...

chabert what about YOUR vanity??? one fight is enough for you to end a love affair!

luke, for me the important structuralist thesis is that there are general structures underlying phenomena. i never went further than that in my thought. but the difference bw lacan and jung would be that the former didn't believe in any kind of an inborn collective unconscious; though the unconscious is in both instances a structure, it's not a stable and fixed one, in psychoanalysis it's endlessly shifting (de saussire: signifiers can make endless combinations); for example, freud and lacan did not believe in the dictionary of symbols and/or dreams, because discourse transforms at the very moment you are recounting a dream.

catmint said...

what I'm trying to say is that:

1. the idea that there are general structures underlying everyday life indirectly presented via articles such as those by Slavoj Zizek has an effect on enough newspaper readers to make it economically worthwhile to pursue it.

I think the effect is basically angst - it's a sort of horror genre

but crucial to this genre: we're not given the structure. It's just hinted at.

2. politically this genre is conservative insofar as it presents institutions, eg the Newspaper as belonging to a mysterious "culture" rather than a more prosaic kind of politics

Jung's work's interesting because it is so far from science, it's pure literature. Essentially, it's lies.

It's not meant to be trick, saying that Lacan's work has the same sort of "affectivity" as that of Jung, that it's bought for similar reasons. I do have reservations about Lacan though.

catmint said...

I saw a youtube clip of the end of John Waters' Mondo Trasho: a girl on a streetcorner listening to two other women talking about her (hearsay): "it's a faggot! no, it's a dyke!" etc.

Forget what I've written.

How do you think this clip works, artistically? Do you think media often work in a similar way? Perhaps including Slavoj Zizek's newspaper articles? Do you think it's fair to use the word "structuralism" in describing how these things work? Can a better terminology be found?

(nb I think the clip's been removed, essentially it's ludicrous hearsay invective)

catmint said...

...why did I see fit to cation Bosch's drawing homo lacanianus?

1. I think at a stretch you could say it shows the so called "bourgeois consumer" transfigured by his "mysterious pathology". I've arbitrarily decided that this is what psychoanalysis is all about, including the Lacanian variety.

2. Lacan's subject has a "shameful hole" in himself, at least according to Antigram.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

henri lefebvre, in a text for students, wrote there are only three world views (in France at the time of writing)

1. Christian (catholic)
2. Individualist (bourgeois)
3. Marxist


at the time of writing, "existentialism" was fashionable: he identified this as an individualism which expressed itself borrowing some marxist terms.

I think this general structuralism you speak of is an individualism also with some catholicism in it. the structure that is "hinted at" is some version of the scheme or catholicism of other. This style of punditry and "critique" gives the unchallenged individualist worldview this catholic mysteriousness simply through what Labriola meant by verbalism. This pseudo culture is engaged in an obsession with nomenclature, and these ritual, rote practises of naming and renaming - narrating and naming - are now enjoying the status of magic.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"some or other version of the scheme of catholicism" i mean

dejan said...

This might be instructive, although I do not know the author, or the journal, and do not guarantee that the rest of his Lacanian speak is correct:

http://lass.calumet.purdue.edu/cca/gmj/sp05/graduatesp05/gmj-sp05gradinv-malagreca.htm

There is no system that encodes the Universal completely, a reason for which the Symbolic always represents a surplus regarding the particulars. Law, then, is not something given from the beginning and for always, but something always being inscribed, and necessarily re-coded. The Universal is that which exceeds the work of the particulars (Lewkowicz, 1998), demanding a permanent Symbolic testimony, a witnessing on the part of the subjects. The Symbolic is not a given datum for the human experience; it is, on the contrary, the result of a constant reworking of the inscription of the Law.

dejan said...

This pseudo culture is engaged in an obsession with nomenclature, and these ritual, rote practises of naming and renaming - narrating and naming - are now enjoying the status of magic.

5:15 PM

again I don't know whom exactly you're addressing. as we debated to death zizek has migrated clinical notions to sociology, witness the hideous moralizing post by antigram (I am being DELETED again by the way and I really don't like that; he's going to have to pay). The point of lacanian structuralism (resting on de saussire) is really simple, and has always sounded logical to me: the order of the signifiers (the letters, images and sounds C-O-W) is attached to the signifieds (the notion ''cow'') arbitrarily, by social contract. There's no mathematical formula saying that this particular set of letters, sounds and images sghould be attached to this particular set of meaning. So when the subject adopts language, he adopts a gap, and he is henceforth spoken by it in the sense that he cannot control it (so it takes the Symbolic Law to set the structure firmly in place, as it were). But when you generalize that to the realm of class, for example, it becomes dubious. I can think of any number of reasons, the most important one being that as I just said Lacan didn't believe in a ''collective unconscious''.

Chabert de Sausserian linguistics and being a literature expert you should know that well, moves beyond nomenclature precisely by bringing into view this structural gap inside language. I am not sure about the other structuralists Luke listed, because I haven't read all of their work.

dejan said...

http://aleph.asso.fr/Textes/Ontorture1.html

catmint said...

thanks Chabert

I'm afraid I think we're stuck with the bourgeois worldview.

yes, with Jung for instance, in spite of his theorising the collective unconscious, he really does depend on a pronounced individualism in his readers. It's surely necessary to feel a bit estranged from your environment to really enjoy Jung's mysterious ideas.

Again in Jung, there's an affinity with catholic or catholic-ish versions of christianity. It's a restitution through science, or it's meant to be.

These "structures" are imagined as trans-historical, eg Jung's archetypes, though they also possess a kind of moral purchase. There's also this intimation of different "levels".

catmint said...

"I am not sure about the other structuralists Luke listed, because I haven't read all of their work."

only Levi-Strauss is really practicing "Structural Anthropology"

these other writers were nineteenth century philologists, they practiced comparative analysis of literary texts from the "ancient world"

Frazer wrote "The Golden Bough" - establishing a system for the world's religions: how one idea developed into another etc

Renan reconstructed ancient semitic languages - the bases of arabic and hebrew. Edward Saïd writes about him in Orientalism

Nietzsche was a philologist before setting up as a philosopher, and his first book The Birth of Tragedy tries to reconstruct ancient Greek culture in an imaginative way.

Modern anthropologists would, I'm sure, have reservations about their work; with respect to the unscientific conjectures of Frazer and Nietzsche, and with Renan's racism and whig view of history. Some of the ideas these people brought forward were correct though, or at least lead to the development of more correct ideas.

But I think I'm justified in talking about these people in relation to Levi-Strauss because I think they foreshadow his work, and suggest how it works emotionally. Which isn't to say that Structural Anthropology is entirely a collection of falsehoods.

dejan said...

But I think I'm justified in talking about these people in relation to Levi-Strauss because I think they foreshadow his work, and suggest how it works emotionally.

I don't totally understand what you're trying to say - which particular idea of structuralism works emotionally?

Luke, the biggest attractor for me in structuralism, is the fact - wellestablished, proven not only by common experience but by research as well - that ALL languages in the world, and I mean ALL of them, behave on the same laws of the (structuralist) grammar. Some obscure tribe in North Africa speaks a language as complex in terms of grammar and pronounciation as French. How do you explain this fact, please?

catmint said...

...all cultures use representative signs

I'm not going to disagree with this. But this fact doesn't validate Lévi-Strauss's approach.

"I don't totally understand what you're trying to say - which particular idea of structuralism works emotionally?"

I mean Lévi-Strauss, for instance, is a literary writer as well as being a scientific writer

the same with Renan, Frazer, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Lacan, Zizek

catmint said...

since I think it's relevant to this discussion, Guy Debord writes in Society of the Spectacle:

"201

The current tendency toward structuralist systematization is based on the explicit or implicit assumption that this brief freezing of historical time will last forever. The antihistorical thought of structuralism believes in the eternal presence of a system that was never created and that will never come to an end. Its illusion that all social practice is unconsciously determined by preexisting structures is based on illegitimate analogies with structural models developed by linguistics and anthropology (or even on models used for analyzing the functioning of capitalism) — models that were already inaccurate even in their original contexts. This fallacious reasoning stems from the limited intellectual capacity of the academic functionaries hired to expound this thought, who are so thoroughly caught up in their awestruck celebration of the existing system that they can do nothing but reduce all reality to the existence of that system.


202

In order to understand “structuralist” categories, one must bear in mind that such categories, like those of any other historical social science, reflect forms and conditions of existence. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, one cannot judge or admire this particular society by assuming that the language it speaks to itself is necessarily true. “We cannot judge such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, that consciousness must be explained in the light of the contradictions of material life...” Structures are the progeny of established powers. Structuralism is thought underwritten by the state, a form of thought that regards the present conditions of spectacular “communication” as an absolute. Its method of studying code in isolation from content is merely a reflection of a taken-for-granted society where communication takes the form of a cascade of hierarchical signals. Structuralism does not prove the transhistorical validity of the society of the spectacle; on the contrary, it is the society of the spectacle, imposing itself in its overwhelming reality, that validates the frigid dream of structuralism."

dejan said...

But this fact doesn't validate Lévi-Strauss's approach.

How does it not validate Levi-Strauss's approach, and WHAT approach by Levi-Strauss? I can't respond (much less learn anything or accept your arguments) if you don't finish your thoughts. Correct yourself immediately, Luke, or you're fall into the syntaxic grid together with the structuralists.

the same with Renan, Frazer, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Lacan, Zizek

I don't know about Renan, Frazer and Nietzsche, but Lacan and Freud were not literally literal writers - they didn't write books - unless you're talking about the fact that their writing, since psychoanalysis is still not an empirical science, may be read as literary? Let it be noted though that Lacan's aspiration, when he subjected analysis to the laws of language and later topographical models, was to turn analysis into an (empirical) science - a project that Zizek certainly won't finish, but others might.

assumption that this brief freezing of historical time will last forever. The antihistorical thought of structuralism believes in the eternal presence of a system that was never created and that will never come to an end.

As I pointed out before, this is not entirely true (see the quote on the symbolic Law from the media magazine). The structure reigns eternal, but its manifest forms are endlessly unstable and shifting, because being determined by the relations between signifiers or if you will the interpersonal relation in analysis (transference/countertransference); so I see it as a much more dialectic process than De Bord's view you are quoting, which is outdated.

On a related note, I did think when the Cobra mentioned Catholicism that Inland Empire was informed by Calvinist guilt.

I am disappointed by both yours and the Cobra's responses to Antigram's appalling adumbrations, especially since the subject of the law and the responsibility has a bearing on what we're discussing here.

catmint said...

"But this fact doesn't validate Lévi-Strauss's approach."

Lévi-Strauss theorised complex social-sexual systems that operated in the societies of Amazonian Indians. These systems can be called, not unfairly, structures. Lévi-Strauss was apparently influenced by Saussure. But if we accept Saussure's axiom about the inessentiality of the relation between the sign and what it signifies I don't believe we're immediately concurring with Lévi-Strauss's ideas. i.e. Lévi-Strauss had different influences, other than Saussure. As a corollory to this I also don't think that accepting Saussure means accepting Lacan.

I'll have a look at your Lacan articles

"On a related note, I did think when the Cobra mentioned Catholicism that Inland Empire was informed by Calvinist guilt."

Wasn't Calvin protestant? Aren't you going to get in big trouble at the theology club saying that? You could be right though. I think Lynch does have a sort of catholic sensibility.

dejan said...

Wasn't Calvin protestant? Aren't you going to get in big trouble at the theology club saying that? You could be right though

Calvinist and Catholics share a sense of guilt; the Calvinist variation is a sense of responsibility (it is our duty to bomb the Iraqis for their own good). In Lynch I notice that his damsels in distress are haunted by guilt. You should have figured out by now that I don't and refuse to belong to any club; I share affinities with you Marxists as well as with the Christians. I really dislike clubbing and fraternizing in general.

dejan said...

Lévi-Strauss theorised complex social-sexual systems that operated in the societies of Amazonian Indians.

Luke you lazy &@#&@*@**@@, now tell me WHAT he theorized about the complex social-sexual systems? How am I supposed to know that? I can't read books in between blog comments, or if I could, I would be rich by now. And tell that Marxist menace that I am going to pester her until she starts talking to me again, otherwise I will side with everyone else who told me that she has a reputation for dumping men in the cold. And then more parody will ensue!

catmint said...

"Luke you lazy &@#&@*@**@@, now tell me WHAT he theorized about the complex social-sexual systems?"

I'm charmed that you think I write a family blog; that it can be safely read by fourteen year old girls.

"How am I supposed to know that? I can't read books in between blog comments, or if I could, I would be rich by now."

If that's the case you absolutely should read books and avoid reading blog comments

"And tell that Marxist menace that I am going to pester her until she starts talking to me again"

I'm afraid I'm not in touch with her. You'll maybe have to recruit Kat Brown, or Dominic Fox, to replace her at the Parody Center

I cited Lévi-Stauss as an example of structural anthropology. Another example is Rodney Needham who died this year, and whose obituary is here

you could also consult Limited Inc, here:

"It is interesting, to us, that Derrida’s first challenge to what he called logocentrism is an analysis of the “writing lesson” in Levi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques that occurred in an Amazon Indian village. Levi-Strauss was certainly the mid-century’s representative of the idea that the Indians were people without history – instead, they were the people of structured myth. Myths being autonomous things, in Levi-Strauss’ ethnography, the search for historical linkage between myths and the historic existence of Amerindian cultures was one of those fatal quests, like looking for the Fountain of Youth, in which the researcher would simply get lost. Keeping nature and culture conceptually separate provided the basis for understanding culture itself – or rather, culture was the infinite task of making that separation."

Le Colonel Chabert reproduced an essay on Materialism by Sebastiano Timpanaro, which has some interesting things to say about structuralism, marxism & psychoanalysis:

"At this point it will, I think, be sufficiently clear in what respect one can, from a materialist point of view, agree or disagree with recent orientations which may be summarized by such formulas as ‘Marxism plus psychoanalysis’ or ‘Marxism plus structuralism plus psychoanalysis’. These trends must be conceded the merit of rejecting the reduction of Marxism to ‘historicism’ (with all the idealist and intuitionist errors connoted by this term), [19] of emphasizing the need for scientific study of historical and literary disciplines, and finally of seeking to connect the study of historical man with the study of natural man (hence their interest in psychology, in anthropology, and in language as a more or less intermediate formation between natural organisms and social institutions).

However, psychoanalysis and structuralism, if they contain an appeal to science against the claims of a purely humanistic culture, are at the same time deeply permeated with anti-materialist ideology. The attacks to which psychoanalysis has been and is subjected ‘from the Right’ should not lead us to forget the fact that this scientific current arose in polemical opposition to materialist psychology, and sought to render psychic phenomena independent of anatomical and physiological data. That linguists with a Crocean or Vosslerian background [*] attack structuralism in the name of an identification of language with art, does not alter the fact that structuralism makes the ‘system’ it studies into something closed and intrinsically coherent, and reveals no interest in its genesis ‘from below’, or in the relations between human activities and their material determinations—whether socio-economic or biophysical. Its truly Cuvierian concept of ‘system’ is inherently ahistorical, not merely anti-historicist. Polarization of the distinction between synchrony and diachrony, and contempt or indifference towards diachronic studies, are essential characteristics of structuralism, which cannot be overcome by any eclectic blending of it.

Surveying these two tendencies, it is more necessary than ever to separate their scientific achievements from all that is ideological and unverifiable in them (I refer in particular to psychoanalysis), or even tantamount to charlatanry (I refer, as a limiting case, to the colossal presumptions and ridiculous coquetries of a Lévi-Strauss). What is needed is an ideological confrontation between Marxism and these tendencies, an antagonistic and not merely receptive stance: antagonistic not only in the sense of a critique of their lack of interest in economic and social facts and in the link between theory and practice, but also in the sense of a critique of their anti-materialism. Failing this, any rapprochement with structuralism or psychoanalysis, will merely end in yet another ‘modernization’ of Marxism, from which it may emerge widened but will always remain subaltern."

Failing that Wikipedia? Reader's Digest?

catmint said...

...I found Franz Kaltenbeck's article bizarre, to be honest. Do you really buy all this, about THE LAW?

The English legal system's different

This is what Ms Chabert wrote about it:

"Derrida remarks, in passing, hastily, in a footnote, that Nietzsche had 'an affinity for a certain vein of English thought.' I fancy this English vein is to Derrida's margin what the recalled/forgotten umbrella is to Nietzsche's.

Disappointingly prosaically, I'll identify this vein as none other than the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition, that unwieldy, illogically logical heritage, its historically tinkered structure, its unsystematized system of precedents, its clutter, its permament provisionality, its anecdotal aspects, its accomodation of the comical, its celebration of accident and eccentricity, its convenient legal fictions over time inconveniently encrusted, it's adversarial dialogicality, its palimpsests, its mock-Gothic keeps of faux-Origin-fetishism adjacent to a primrose path of Timeless Equity, all existing in antagonistic partnership with Napoleonic Code, fresh, orderly, rational, lean statutory law, succint, distilled, non-narrative, inflexible, unambiguous, humourless, univocal, the "novel" Enlightenment Law, symmetrically pillared and pedimented, sleekly neo-classical, with a front and a back, a central chamber and dependent margins, modern, purpose built, ends-oriented, printed on leaves of paper, designed whole to embody and vindicate the principle of Design, of Intention, Comprehension and Realisation, designed once for all, to last, to be indifferent to History and intolerant of Caprice."

catmint said...

There's a fantastic museum of anthropology in Leiden, if you're interested in anthropology, near the station.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

Gramsci wrote from prison to his wife when she informed him she was seeing a psychoanalyst - a partly emotional reaction, surely - that it was curious, in his opinion, that Freud was creating "tendencies similar to those which existed the mid 18th c...forming a new type of noble savage corrupted by society, that is to say, by history."

Le Colonel Chabert said...

About antigram, dejan....Speaking of glorious appeals to self evidence, I wonder how is that Daniel determined that the highly idiosyncratic, impermanent and varied condition of "terrorist" is the fully determined creature (given "birth" to) of phenomena external to the subjects in that condition, in light of his late passion for the wilder shores of bourgeois holy holey individualism mapped by shykoanalyzis. Given his new assertions, you would think he would wish to clarify precisely what role he contends "every new Western atrocity" is playing in the production of "terrorists". Perhaps the role of progenitor (of progeny passively engendered) and "suckling spirit" (of infant dependents) is incompatible with the Lacanian widsom to which he is at present so zealously attached.

It's an amusing battle, turning into an hypocrisy fest. K-punk the scourge of "left populism" and its fantasies of monstrous elites now announces the ruling class to be in fact an alien species, which happen to be inhuman critters from the tv sci fi schlock of his childhood. The bloggers most given to personal confession in place of theory are now standing up to defend the bogus notion of intellectual objectivity, which is somehow possible only in the absence of all material, historical, political, economic and social objects.

Meanwhile Daniel is once again demanding that someone invent arithmatic before he will consider that two plus two can equal anything. Because god knows there is no data about self-esteem and confidence! Uncharted territory! No one ever thought to study such a thing!

"Humiliation Studies"

http://www.humiliationstudies.org/whoweare/whoweare.php#integrating

is a magnet for funding, for reasons that are obvious. People working in it compile mountains of data about what they call lately "self-concept". They are looking for correlations between broad categories of social condition (being an immigrant say, or living under military occupation) and physical and mental health, as well as of course "violence" - violent individual behaviour and group violence against groups (such as genocide).

Daniel, of course, does make the same assumptions k-punk and dominic make about "positions" and "effects", and casually pronounces that the result of the US-UK "war on terror" policies number: "to give birth to further terrorists, out of the suckling spirit of every new Western atrocity. " He treats as self evident this engenderment of the condition of "terrorist" by a structural position evoked, but of course left unexplained, by the term "Western", attributing highly idiosyncratic behaviour exclusively to situation in an implied position in relation to "every new Western atrocity". This assumption also underlies a lot of the humiliation studies stuff, but also things like torture and interrogation science. It is amusing to see Daniel railing away demanding some empirical support for the notion that social status effects people psychologically and acting as if he wouldn't know where to begin to look - as if this has not been the subject of heaps and heaps of study not only in hard science (the study of serotonin associated with the creation of profitable confidence boosting SRIs) but in social sciences whose results are tested in all kinds of ways - school of the americas, psychological warfare - giving rise to massive amounts of data. But if it's not in Daniel's haloscan, it simply cannot be known of.

On "confidence" as expressed in academic performance specifically and class, (in France a few decades ago) this is an interesting essay: Christian Baudelot, "Student Rhetoric in Exams", Academic Discourse

which contains:

The essay is the sole means of expression officially reserved to the student to respond to the professional lecture. It is the only evidence open to the professor to assess the student. The seriousness of this enterprise, at once a rejoinder, a plea, and an exhibit of proof, escapes none of the protagonists. Yet all agree in refusing to take seriously the sole technical means of satisfying the requirements of these multiple roles - rhetoric. With its gratuitous formalism, the essay would seem to detract from the prestigious image of themselves which academics and student both like to project. Rather than take the essay for what it is - an imposed test in rhetoric - they prefer to take it for what it is not - a free and personal creation. Unanimously endured as a fate for which teacher, no more than student, can feel responsible, it is remarkable that an essay topic is never seen as being imposed, but is rather 'offered' for the 'attention' of the candidate, who is 'invited to compose'. Famous prescriptions for composing essays, far from supplying the basic principles of logic and rhetoric, usually try to persuade the student that this 'literary genre' is first and foremost a matter of taste, and requires from those who practise it a set of gifts which cannot be methodically acquired.

...



School is able to make the manipulation of the language of ideas the unquestionable sign of human and personal qualities, and the essay can be this dramatic enterprise of gambling a future on words; but all the while teachers and students never cease to share their contempt for the art of rhetoric. Their scorn may be simply a mask against self-contempt; perhaps by concealing the true criteria of academic judgement from themselves, along with particular cultural qualities which these sanction, they may succeed in forgetting just what these concepts of 'eloquence', 'ease' and 'richeness' (even philosophical) owe to the ethos of a class.

***
Research into factors which have the strongest influence on academic marking shows that it is inequalities in lingusitic performance which most strongly differentiate good from bad scripts. It is significant that marks tend to fall as more and more of the traits are found which, according to Bernstein, distinguish working-class from upper-class speech patterns. As these features recede, on the other hand, marks rise, responding to the qualities of complex and differentiated language peculiar to cultivated classes...

A high proportion of essays which receive poor marks use short sentences; these sentences are gramatically simple and syntactically poor, with independent or main clauses governing one or two subordinate, mainly relative clauses. The type of sentence found in the best scripts, on the other hand, is full of epithets and appositions, qualifications and refinements, and multiplies complexities of every kind.


In the end what's going on there is a rhetoric joust. Dominic clearly believes what he writes - thus he is coherent and consistent (this apart from any judgement on could make re validity or persuasiveness of his position) - the other participants are posing and insincere, and therefore amazingly frequently contradicting themselves. But the heart of the matter is exposed not in the "content" such as it is, of the various entries into the dispute, but the fact that all of them are expressed in this very narrow, tacitly agreed, ceremonial manner involving the reproduction of elements of "the ethos of a class". It's funny that such a fine example of a certain feature of ideology maintenance occurs in this way, the pretext an argument about class but the results exhibiting this absolute blindness to the function of the debate itself and its context and this absolute incapacity for self criticism of the producers.

dejan said...

...I found Franz Kaltenbeck's article bizarre, to be honest. Do you really buy all this, about THE LAW?

I already expressed my reservations because I don't know who the guy is, but I just wanted to underline his quoting Lacan saying that trauma affects the ENTIRE SYMBOLIC ORDER, which can be the basis of understanding that a critique of class power based on personal experiences can be justified, contrary to Antigram's claim. The rest of the article is not really pertinent.

dejan said...

There's a fantastic museum of anthropology in Leiden, if you're interested in anthropology, near the station.

Speaking of which there's another fantastic one with Egyptian mummies that rivals anything in the British Museum because it's clean and organized. I also love the Boerhave museum, with medical exhibits.

dejan said...

K-punk the scourge of "left populism" and its fantasies of monstrous elites now announces the ruling class to be in fact an alien species, which happen to be inhuman critters from the tv sci fi schlock of his childhood.

As I wrote in my own piece, that has a kinship with Brian Yuzna's ''Society'', where the ruling classes are metaphorized as monsters, who have created this whole Beverly Hills simulacrum into which a kid is born and lives a normal ''middle class life'' until he realizes something's amiss, a conspiracy plot which culminates in a glorious scene of grotesquerie where the ruling classes shape-shift into anal-and-vaginal hydrae. The really great thing though is what you can see in the poster; it's not that behind the mask there is a face - behind the mask is a heap of gooey slimy latex that can mutate into anything. But I fear this will return us to the discussion on ''is Capital abstract'' in which you still have not provided a satisfying riposte to my assumption that Marx in fact accepted the ''alien origins'' of Capital.

to defend the bogus notion of intellectual objectivity, which is somehow possible only in the absence of all material, historical, political, economic and social objects.

you know I think it's very visible from antigram's musings how it can be that psychoanalysis - when transferred to sociology - yields solipsism, and this is why I find his zupancicanian view fatefully erroneous. yes it's true that lacan would say all experience is necessarily subjective, therefore you cannot find a firm grounding in experience for theoretical argumentation. but on the other hand, it is all still - experience! the fact that every experience will be personally colored, does not yet preclude, occlude or forbid the possibility of collective/transpersonal experiences - such as many workers in the world sharing k-punk's feelings of inferiority, caused by the psychological abuse of the ruling classes. when lacan said that his analysand has to take responsibility for his unconscious desire, he was not talking about the working class, nor do I believe he would be privy to generalizing such a concept of responsibility and loosely applying it to class critique uberhaupt. but i think it is precisely this abstracting and generalizing operation that enables the Slovenlian school of psychoanalysis to evade any kind of a REAL class struggle in favor of burgeois ideas such as that the worker is to blame himself for his inferior ''subject position'', ergo the worker should pay 200 pounds to listen to Dr. Zizolina at the Marxfest in London tell him pessimistic stories about, well, the dekline of simbolik efikasy and how in effect there's nothing to be done, except lament.

Then there is a logical error to which Antigram didn't want to respond - the subject is fractured, split, by his very existence in society, by speaking; this implies that he can never actually fully develop a full integral ''I'' that is entirely independent of outside forces .
Ergo you cannot call the subject to responsibility for something that he can never fully accomplish, except in afterlife, and especially not with such zeal.
That's number one. Number two is that to accomplish ANY kind of an integrity and freedom, the subject first needs to accept that he is indeed being manipulated by outside forces (the ruling classes), and that's basically what k=punk did. The initial step towards becoming independent of the ruling classes, is realizing that they are playing you.

Finally, let me say that I find myself personally affected by Antigram's mismusings because being an immigrant in a very detached burgeois country, I can understand perfectly how behind every corner, on every level, psychic violence is perpetrated against me: I am always the third-rate candidate for work; I always have to answer questions about my origins; I am seldom approached with openness and politeness reserved for Dutch people; and this IN SPITE of my status being entirely equal, formally and legally speaking, to that of a born and bred Dutchman.

That a working class Brit should feel the same IN HIS OWN COUNTRY only makes it ten times worse!

dejan said...

The previous is also an answer to Chabert and Roger's articles: psychoanalysis (at least in the Lacanian format) does not dismiss or devalorize the Matter, or empirical reality. When a psychologists says that all experience goes through fantasy, he's not advocating solipsism, or psychosis. The material world still exists, and influences us. It is due to slovenly exercises like marrying Marxism with Lacan, that we are now having these types of debates.

dejan said...

Daniel, of course, does make the same assumptions k-punk and dominic make about "positions" and "effects", and casually pronounces that the result of the US-UK "war on terror" policies number: "to give birth to further terrorists, out of the suckling spirit of every new Western atrocity. " He treats as self evident this engenderment of the condition of "terrorist" by a structural position evoked, but of course left unexplained, by the term "Western", attributing highly idiosyncratic behaviour exclusively to situation in an implied position in relation to "every new Western atrocity". This assumption also underlies a lot of the humiliation studies stuff, but also things like torture and interrogation science.

I don't understand what you're saying here - that they should specify exactly which agents perpetrate the atrocities (the structure vs agency thing)? Didn't we conclude that both structure and agency matter in equal measure, or do you feel that this club is privileging the structure?
Or something else?

I must say Dominic has indeed shown vast improvement in terms of adumbration, while the new blog vedetta Love and Terrorism has a talent for malevolence.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I am saying that Daniel was only pretending to find dominic's assertion that "structural positions produce affects" puzzling or surprising, since in an earlier post still on the front page of his blog he makes casual assumptions about the determined origins of the condition "terrorist" in individuals which rely on the uncontested, goes-absolutely-without-saying self evidence of an even stronger version of this very hypothesis he is shreikingly objecting to.

dejan said...

I am saying that Daniel was only pretending to find dominic's assertion that "structural positions produce affects" puzzling or surprising, since in an earlier post still on the front page of his blog he makes casual assumptions about the determined origins of the condition "terrorist" in individuals which rely on the uncontested, goes-absolutely-without-saying self evidence of an even stronger version of this very hypothesis he is shreikingly objecting to.

Yes I guess he was also only pretending that his shrieking assault on k-punk will not require him to discuss his own position as a le subjet d'psychoanalyse, namely, to apply the psychoanalysis to his own unfeasible position as a moralist, and not only that, but dr. Alenka's butt crack moralist, and actually TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the fact that he's turned even his Lacanian interlocutors against the main pseudothesis.

But there's something more at play here, an excess of affect, a burlesque of resentment, which seems indiscriminate, which reeks of trauma, something that Comrade Antigram is witholding from us.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"namely, to apply the psychoanalysis to his own unfeasible position as a moralist,"

they're both moralists; k punk's style is to make these exhibitionist confessions of how some or other impactful experience caused him epiphanies;he overstates the sentimental, personal and cinematically compact origin of all his convictions and beliefs; antigram does the opposite; he is like savonarola or cotton mather, a man of enthusiasms, a mere vessel of god carrying out a divine mission; this is why kpunk, if you disagree with him, immediately assumes you're trying to harm him personally, manipulate him, inflict guilt or some other unpleasantness on him, and antigram's stock reply to any failure of his bombast to persuade is the clergyman's "you don't understand the divine word I have given unto you".

dejan said...

this is why kpunk, if you disagree with him, immediately assumes you're trying to harm him personally, manipulate him, inflict guilt or some other unpleasantness on him, and antigram's stock reply to any failure of his bombast to persuade is the clergyman's "you don't understand the divine word I have given unto you".

yes k-punk has melodramatic talent, I noticed before; he can throw a great tantrum when his his jouissance is threatened by malevolence. In fact, he's almost as good as YOU in that department, Colonel. But in the master-slave, original and copycat dynamic which also lurks behind this exchange, Antigram clearly finds himself in an inferior position vis-a-vis k-punk's truly admirable mastery of the literary and philosophical art; even when he's adumbrating in zizekese, k-punk always inspires reverberations. I believe it is a form of ...jealousy that inspires Antigram's current abstract upsetness, which seems to lash out indiscriminately and indeed with an almost religious undertone of righteous indignation.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

btw this is what Lacan apparently actually said:

Dire que le sujet sur quoi nous opérons en psychanalyse ne peut être que le sujet de la science peut passer pour paradoxe, c'est pourtant là que doit être prise une démarcation faute de quoi tout se mêle et commence une malhonnêteté qu'on appelle ailleurs pour objective, mais c'est manque d'audace et manque d'avoir repéré l'objet qui foire, de notre position de sujet nous sommes toujours responsables qu'on appelle cela où l'on veut du terrorisme ; j'ai le droit de sourire car ce n'est pas dans un milieu où la doctrine est ouvertement matière à tractations que je craindrais d'offusquer personne en formulant ce que je pense que l'erreur de bonne foi est de toute la plus impardonnable.

dejan said...

I am really impressed by your French but mine is, sadly, below par.

dejan said...

here's a babelfish translation

To say that the subject on what we operate in psychoanalysis cannot be that the subject of science can pass for paradox, it is however there that must be taken a demarcation or else all mixes and begins a dishonesty which one calls elsewhere for objective, but it is lack of audacity and lack to have located the object which fair, of our position of subject we are always responsible that one calls that where terrorism is wanted; I have the right to smile because it is not in a medium where the doctrines are openly matter with negociations which I would fear of offusquer nobody by formulating what I think that the error in good faith is of all the most unforgivable.

catmint said...

I don't really know French so I've guessed in a few places:

"Saying that the subject on which we operate in psychoanalysis isn't only the subject of science can pass for paradox, it is however there that a demarcation must be taken or else all mixes together and generates a dishonesty which elsewhere one calls objective, but it is lack of audacity and lack of having located the object that nullifies, we are always responsible for our position as subject, such that one calls that where one desires terrorism. I have the right to smile because it is not in a milieu where the doctrines are an open matter for negotiation that I would fear offending no-one in formulating how I think the error of good faith is, of all, the most unforgivable."

catmint said...

I don't think Daniel's right to expect philosophy to provide superior strategies, if that's what's implied by his dismissal of argument's from experience. Realistically philosophy will only ever provide inferior strategies, that are closer to the truth.

catmint said...

this might be closer to the meaning, but I've taken more liberties:

"it is however there that a demarcation must be made, or else everything mixes together, creating a falsehood that one otherwise names objectivity, but it is a deficiency of audacity and a deficiency in locating the nullifying object, that we are always responsible for our position as subject, such that one experiences the origin of ones desires as a terrorism. I have the right to smile here, because it isn't in a milieu where doctrines are a matter of open negotiation where I would fear offending anyone in formulating how I think, of all errors, that of good faith is the least forgivable."

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"To say the subject we work on in psychoanalysis can be none other than the subject of science could seem to be a paradox."

He may be saying "...can be none other than the subject of the science [of psychoanalysis]" since at least then there would be a kind of paradox.

He was speaking; it's a lecture; it may have been clearer to the auditors what he meant, but honestly it seems quite ambiguous to me and I'd be interested to see how its been rendered in english but I don't have it here. What is clear is that "de notre position de sujet" does NOT refer to "one's position as subject" - everyone's - but to the shrinks in the room, the practitioners of psychoanalysis, the same "we" who work on subjects in psychoanalysis. "l'objet qui foire", catmint, I agree, your second translation is closer, the object which fails, founders, comes to grief...the failure to seize upon this elusive troubled object...from/of/for our subject position, we are always responsable [this in french is not just culpable but "in charge", the authority] qu'on appelle cela où l'on veut du terrorisme.

This is the seminar:

http://gaogoa.free.fr/Seminaires_HTML/13-ODLP/ODLP01121965-2.htm

This is someone, not Lacan's, record of the talk. Curiously, Jacques Alain Miller, the son in law, when quoting placed a period after "responsable", and begins a new sentence: "Qu'on appelle cela où l'on veut du terrorisme." And he wrote that Lacan said this and remains misunderstood. Yes. Unsurprisingly. However it doesn't seem that Daniel's take is at all plausible, and I suspect he got it from Fink or some other someone quoting or paraphrasing a snippet and not from reading the actual text of that lecture.

dejan said...

http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2007/07/16/arguments-from-experience-and-the-plague-of-fantasy/

read dr sinthome's response, it's excellent

note three things:

luke, it seems that reality and fantasy stand in a moebial relationship; therefore, reality (materiality) is not occluded, it is filtered through fantasy - the TV example is very good

chabert, dr. sinthome does understand that the miller-zizek club is prostituting lacan for burgeois ends

finally, he reflects on structure, and does not endorse a rigid understanding of structure as dogma, proposing a more flexible view of structure and agency as being related, similar to JCD and Lenin's proposal recently

dejan said...

in fact structure and agency, here too, stand in a moebial relation

dejan said...

i especially liked the exchange with jodianne!