Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Barred Subject and Lacanian Real

from Wikipedia
The term "bar" first appears in Lacan's work in 1957, where it is introduced in the context of a discussion of Ferdinand de Saussure's concept of the sign.[1]In this context, the bar is the line that separates the signifier from the signified (in the Saussurean algorithm), and stands for the resistance inherent in signification which is only crossed in metaphor.

The Barred Subject

Not long after the 1957 paper in which the term first appears, in the seminar of 1957-8, Lacan goes on to use the bar to strike through his algebraic symbols S and A in a manner reminiscent of Heidegger's practice of crossing out the word "being."[2]The bar is used to strike through the S to produce, StrikeS.gif, the "barred subject'." The bar here represents the division of the subject by language, the split. Thus whereas before 1957 S designates the subject (e.g. in schema L), from 1957 on S designates the signifier and StrikeS.gif designates the (divided) subject.

The Barred Other

The bar is also used to strike through the A (the big Other) to produce the algebraic notation for the "barred Other," A. However, Lacan continues to use both signs in his algebra (e.g. in the graph of desire). The barred Other is the Other insofar as it is castrated, incomplete, marked by a lack, as opposed to the complete, consistent, uncastrated Other, an un-barred A, which does not exist.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Some Gardeners Eat Their Veggies!

Gardener. Go, bind thou up yon dangling apricocks,
Which, like unruly children, make their sire
Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight:
Give some supportance to the bending twigs.
Go thou, and like an executioner,
Cut off the heads of too fast growing sprays,
That look too lofty in our commonwealth:
All must be even in our government.
You thus employ’d, I will go root away
The noisome weeds, which without profit suck
The soil’s fertility from wholesome flowers.

Servant. Why should we in the compass of a pale
Keep law and form and due proportion,
Showing, as in a model, our firm estate,
When our sea-walled garden, the whole land,
Is full of weeds, her fairest flowers choked up,
Her fruit-trees all upturned, her hedges ruin’d,
Her knots disorder’d and her wholesome herbs
Swarming with caterpillars?

Gardener. Hold thy peace:
He that hath suffer’d this disorder’d spring
Hath now himself met with the fall of leaf:
The weeds which his broad-spreading leaves did shelter,
That seem’d in eating him to hold him up,
Are pluck’d up root and all by Bolingbroke,
I mean the Earl of Wiltshire, Bushy, Green.

Servant. What, are they dead?

Gardener. They are; and Bolingbroke
Hath seized the wasteful king. O, what pity is it
That he had not so trimm’d and dress’d his land
As we this garden! We at time of year
Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees,
Lest, being over-proud in sap and blood,
With too much riches it confound itself:
Had he done so to great and growing men,
They might have lived to bear and he to taste
Their fruits of duty: superfluous branches
We lop away, that bearing boughs may live:
Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down.
- William Shakespeare, "Richard II" (Act III, Sc IV)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

PoMo Happy Days

It is more onerous
than the rites of beauty
or housework, harder than love.
But you expect it of me casually,
the way you expect the sun
to come up, not in spite of rain
or clouds but because of them.

And so I smile, as if my own fidelity
to sadness were a hidden vice—
that downward tug on my mouth,
my old suspicion that health
and love are brief irrelevancies,
no more than laughter in the warm dark
strangled at dawn.

Happiness. I try to hoist it
on my narrow shoulders again—
a knapsack heavy with gold coins.
I stumble around the house,
bump into things.
Only Midas himself
would understand.
-Linda Pastan, "The Obligation to Be Happy"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pray for the Fool

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"'T is not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
'T is by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

"These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

"The ill-timed truth we might have kept--
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say--
Who knows how grandly it had rung!

"Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders -- oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!"

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
"Be merciful to me, a fool!"
- Edward Rowland Sill, "The Fool's Prayer"

Friday, November 14, 2014

Urban Organic Art

The chief function of the city is to convert power into form, energy into culture, dead matter into the living symbols of art, biological reproduction into social creativity.
- Lewis Mumford

Monday, November 3, 2014

Can Disobedience Ever be Civil?

civil disobedience...
daring acts of courage?
peaceful rebellion.

when, by choice, the freedom
of one is sacrificed for the
freedom of many.

believing that all men, and
women, are indeed equal...
in needs, rights, beliefs, and desire.

believing that no man
ever owns another man....
that dignity is not for sale.

believing that no man, or woman,
is ever free until all are free....
and all share the right to respect,

and the right to be individual,
with the need for community.
obeying the law of liberty

over the threats of the
law of the land... choosing
to stand, stay firm, and deliver.

putting feet to ideals, and
hands to the plow....
now you must choose!

civil disobedience...
a criminal act.... or
the cost of freedom!
-Eric Cockrell

Saturday, November 1, 2014


The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper's—he takes the lead
In summer luxury,—he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills.
-John Keats, December 30, 1816.