Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Wonder...

As the world begins to lose its' wonder, it becomes increasingly difficult to wish to remain in it. May you never lose your sense of wonder of the world.

Friday, May 23, 2014

On Serving

We usually think that military discipline is just a matter of mindlessly following orders. Obeying the rules. You don’t think you do what is your duty. It’s not as simple as that.

If we do this, we just become machines. There has to be something more. This more can have two basic forms. The first more benign form is an ironic distance. Best epitomised by the well known movie and TV series. M.A.S.H.


Where the military doctors are involved in sexual escapades, make jokes all the time.

Some people took Robert Altman’s movie M.A.S.H. as a kind of antimilitary, satiric product but it’s not.

We should always bear in mind that these soldiers with all their practical jokes, making fun of the serious and so on operated perfectly as soldiers. They did their duty.

- Doctor this one’s for you babe.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Pervert's Guide to Ideology"

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Natural Laws

So what I want to do is, in the first part of my talk, to propose a certain reading of Christianity, aiming to demonstrate how Christianity effectively provides the foundation to human rights and freedoms.

To put it in a somewhat simplified way — I simplify it very much, I know — there are two basic attitudes discernible in the history of religions along the axis of the opposition between the global and the universal: On the one hand, there is the pre-Christian pagan cosmos, the divine hierarchical order of cosmic principles which, when copied on the society, gives the image of a congruent edifice in which each member is at each/his/her own place. The supreme good is here the global balance of principles, while the evil stands for their derailment or derangement, for the excessive assertion of one principle to the detriment of other principles, of the masculine principle to the detriment of the feminine one, of reason to the detriment of feeling, and so on and so on. The cosmic balance is then reestablished through the work of justice which, with its inexorable necessity, sets things straight again by crushing the derailed element. With regard to the social body, an individual is good when he or she acts in accordance with his/her special place within the social edifice, when he respects nature which provides food and shelter, when he shows respect for his superiors who take care of him in a fatherly way, and so on and so on. And evil occurs when some particular strata or individuals are no longer satisfied with their proper place within the global order, when children no longer obey parents, when servants no longer obey their masters, when the wise ruler turns into a capricious, cruel tyrant, and so on.

So the very core of the pagan wisdom resides in the insight into this cosmic balance of hierarchically ordered principles, more precisely, the insight into the eternal circuit of the cosmic catastrophe, derailment, and the restoration of order through just punishment. Perhaps the most elaborated case of such a cosmic order is the ancient Hindu cosmology first copied onto the social order in the guise of the system of castes, and then onto the individual organism itself in the guise of the harmonious hierarchy of its organs: head, hands, abdomen, and so on. Today such an attitude is artificially resuscitated in the multitude of New Age approaches to nature, society, and so on and so on. So that's the standard, traditional, pagan order. Again, being good means that you fully assume your proper place within some global order. But Christianity, and in its own way already — maybe, I'm not sure, I don't know enough about it — Buddhism, introduce into this global balance, cosmic order, a principle totally foreign to it, a principle that, measured by the standards of the pagan cosmology, cannot but appear as a monstrous distortion, the principle according to which each individual has an immediate access to the universality of nirvana, or the Holy Spirit, or today, of human rights and freedoms. The idea is that I can participate in this universal dimension directly, irrespective of my specific particular place within the global order. For that reason, Buddha's followers form a community of people who in one way or another have broken with the hierarchy of the social order, who started to treat this order as something fundamentally irrelevant. In his choice of disciples, Buddha pointedly ignored castes and, after some hesitation, true, even sexual difference. And do Christ's scandalous words from Luke [14:26] look, not point, in the same direction? "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and his mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Here, of course, I claim we are not dealing with a simple brutal hatred demanded by a cruel and jealous god. Family relations stand here metaphorically for the entire social network, for any particular ethnic substance that determines my place in the global order of things. The hatred enjoined by Christ is therefore not any kind of dialectical opposite of love, but the direct expression of love. It is love itself that enjoins me to unplug, as it were, from my organic community into which I was born, or, as St. Paul put it, "There are neither men nor women, neither Jews nor Greeks."

We can see here how truly heterogeneous is the Christian stance with regard to that of the pagan wisdom. In clear contrast to the ultimate horizon of the pagan wisdom, which is the coincidence of the opposites — Namely, what is wisdom? The ultimate point of wisdom is that our universe is the abyss of the primordial ground in which all false opposites — good and evil, appearance and reality, and so on and so on — ultimately coincide. That's wisdom. Wisdom always is basically a fake platitude, I claim. You can be sure of it. Make a simple experiment. I think the proper attitude of a proper Christian or leftist today is to despise wisdom. What's wisdom? What's wisdom? Wisdom is that whatever happens you have a good excuse. Wisdom means you do something. If you succeed, then you have a proverb which is a form of wisdom to legitimize it, like we in Europe have a proverb, a standard one which says, Only those who risk can succeed. If you fail we have another proverb to legitimize it which says in very vulgar terms — something, I don't have it in English — You cannot urinate against the wind. That's wisdom for me. Anything goes basically. The basic wisdom is that differences don't matter, what was up comes down, this eternal circulation of fortune, and so on and so on.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Human Rights and Its' Discontents"

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."
- Franz Kafka
...on the other hand

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Smell of Burnin' FIGs to Come

We come to this world desperately,
we die in a fear of being dead.
Who could make up such a cruelty?

I would like to send a message
to the drafter:
Your plan is successfully done,
I’ll disappear without a trace,
I promise.
-Jim Morrison

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Neverland Chronicles

Tell you what: You say ”sorry” so easy, like the rough patch’s smoothed over, no hard feelings and everything’s fixed. Well, no. There’s dark ... a mass of darkness in the world, and if you get trapped in the cave like us, it beats you down. “Sorry” can’t fix it. Better to say nothing than sorry. (hearing his mother’s song, far away) When it’s night, and I’m too scared to sleep, I look through the cracks- y’know?-between the wood nailed over the window, and I see all those little stars that I can’t reach, and I think that in a hundred years, or two or three hundred maybe, boys’ll be free and life’ll be so beautiful that nobody’ll ever say “sorry” again- ‘cuz nobody’ll have to. I think about that a lot.
Peter, "Peter and the Starcatcher"

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Michael Hardt

...on Multitude

Citta della Mente

city of the mind
by childlike fantasies and
worries exhausted
of my mendacious mind

at nothing laughing
and for the flower crying
’cause it dies
not knowing how to save it

so nothing remains for this
fickle mind of mine but
to forget now and hereafter
as it did before

and thus continue on its own
to rhyme
lulled by the sea like a fish
-Paola Bruna

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Roving Life

A WEARY lot is thine, fair maid,
A weary lot is thine!
To pull the thorn thy brow to braid,
And press the rue for wine.
A lightsome eye, a soldier's mien,
A feather of the blue,
A doublet of the Lincoln green--
No more of me ye knew,
My Love!
No more of me ye knew.

'This morn is merry June, I trow,
The rose is budding fain;
But she shall bloom in winter snow
Ere we two meet again.'
--He turn'd his charger as he spake
Upon the river shore,
He gave the bridle-reins a shake,
Said 'Adieu for evermore,
My Love!
And adieu for evermore.'
-Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sleep Deprived

“Every mental act is composed of doubt and belief, but it is belief that is the positive, it is belief that sustains thought and holds the world together.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Friday, May 2, 2014

Life and Love Beyond the Law

The Lacanian Subject not only provides an excellent introduction into the fundamental coordinates of Jacques Lacan's conceptual network; it also proposes original solutions to (or at least clarifications of) some of the crucial dilemmas left open by Lacan's work. The principal two among them are the notion of "love beyond Law" mentioned by Lacan in the very last page of his Seminar XI, 1 and the no less enigmatic thesis of the late Lacan according to which, at the end of psychoanalytic treatment, the subject becomes its own cause. Since these two points run against the predominant doxa on Lacan (love as a narcissistic misrecognition which obscures the truth of desire; the irreducibly decentred status of the subject), it is well worth the while to elaborate them.

"Love beyond Law" involves a "feminine" sublimation of drives into love. As Bruce Fink emphasizes again and again, love is here no longer merely a narcissistic (mis)recognition to be opposed to desire as the subject's 'truth' but a unique case of direct asexual sublimation (integration into the order of the signifier) of drives, of their jouissance, in the guise of the asexual Thing (music, religion, etc.) experienced in the ecstatic surrender. 2 What one should bear in mind apropos of this love beyond Law, this direct asexual sublimation of drive, is that it is inherently nonsensical, beyond meaning: meaning can only take place within the (symbolic) Law; the moment we trespass the domain of Law, meaning changes into enjoy-meant, jouis-sense.3

Insofar as, according to Lacan, at the conclusion of psychoanalytic treatment, the subject assumes the drive beyond fantasy and beyond (the Law of) desire, this problematic also compels us to confront the question of the conclusion of treatment in all its urgency. If we discard the discredited standard formulas ("reintegration into the symbolic space", etc.), only two options remain open: desire or drive. That is to say, either we conceive the conclusion of treatment as the assertion of the subject's radical openness to the enigma of the Other's desire no longer veiled by fantasmatic formations, or we risk the step beyond desire itself and adopt the position of the saint who is no longer bothered by the Other's desire as its decentred cause. In the case of the saint, the subject, in an unheard-of way, "causes itself", becomes its own cause. Its cause is no longer decentred, i.e., the enigma of the Other's desire no longer has any hold over it. How are we to understand this strange reversal on which Fink is quite justified to insist? In principle, things are clear enough: by way of positing itself as its own cause, the subject fully assumes the fact that the object-cause of its desire is not a cause that precedes its effects but is retroactively posited by the network of its effects: an event is never simply in itself traumatic, it only becomes a trauma retroactively, by being 'secreted' from the subject's symbolic space as its inassimilable point of reference. In this precise sense, the subject "causes itself" by way of retroactively positing that X which acts as the object-cause of its desire. This loop is constitutive of the subject. That is, an entity that does not 'cause itself' is precisely not a subject but an object. 4 However, one should avoid conceiving this assumption as a kind of symbolic integration of the decentred Real, whereby the subject 'symbolizes', assumes as an act of its free choice, the imposed trauma of the contingent encounter with the Real. One should always bear in mind that the status of the subject as such is hysterical: the subject 'is' only insofar as it confronts the enigma of Che vuoi? - "What do you want?" - insofar as the Other's desire remains impenetrable, insofar as the subject doesn't know what kind of object it is for the Other. Suspending this decentring of the cause is thus strictly equivalent to what Lacan called "subjective destitution", the de- hystericization by means of which the subject loses its status as subject.

The most elementary matrix of fantasy, of its temporal loop, is that of the "impossible" gaze by means of which the subject is present at the act of his/her own conception. What is at stake in it is the enigma of the Other's desire: by means of the fantasy-formation, the subject provides an answer to the question, 'What am I for my parents, for their desire?' and thus endeavours to arrive at the 'deeper meaning' of his or her existence, to discern the Fate involved in it. The reassuring lesson of fantasy is that "I was brought about with a special purpose".5 Consequently, when, at the end of psychoanalytic treatment, I "traverse my fundamental fantasy", the point of it is not that, instead of being bothered by the enigma of the Other's desire, of what I am for the others, I "subjectivize" my fate in the sense of its symbolization, of recognizing myself in a symbolic network or narrative for which I am fully responsible, but rather that I fully assume the uttermost contingency of my being. The subject becomes 'cause of itself' in the sense of no longer looking for a guarantee of his or her existence in another's desire.

Another way to put it is to say that the "subjective destitution" changes the register from desire to drive. Desire is historical and subjectivized, always and by definition unsatisfied, metonymical, shifting from one object to another, since I do not actually desire what I want. What I actually desire is to sustain desire itself, to postpone the dreaded moment of its satisfaction. Drive, on the other hand, involves a kind of inert satisfaction which always finds its way. Drive is non-subjectivized ("acephalic"); perhaps its paradigmatic expressions are the repulsive private rituals (sniffing one's own sweat, sticking one's finger into one's nose, etc.) that bring us intense satisfaction without our being aware of it-or, insofar as we are aware of it, without our being able to do anything to prevent it.

In Andersen's fairy tale The Red Shoes, an impoverished young woman puts on a pair of magical shoes and almost dies when her feet won't stop dancing. She is only saved when an executioner cuts off her feet with his axe. Her still-shod feet dance on, whereas she is given wooden feet and finds peace in religion. These shoes stand for drive at its purest: an 'undead' partial object that functions as a kind of impersonal willing: 'it wants', it persists in its repetitive movement (of dancing), it follows its path and exacts its satisfaction at any price, irrespective of the subject's well-being. This drive is that which is 'in the subject more than herself': although the subject cannot ever 'subjectivize' it, assume it as 'her own' by way of saying 'It is I who want to do this!' it nonetheless operates in her very kernel. 6 As Fink's book reminds us, Lacan's wager is that it is possible to sublimate this dull satisfaction. This is what, ultimately, art and religion are about.
Slavoj Zizek, "Love Beyond Law"