Lacan – 5058 words – College Essay
Weve been talking about lacan and the notion that the unconscious is structured like a language. Lacan sees processes of metaphor and autonomy as the way the mind works. The relationship between language and the unconscious to be one of a homogenous structure to work the same way. His vision o the edipus complex as a. The signifier of the desire of the mother, that privileged jouisance that signifier for that pleasure that bonding that I had with mom and is erased by the name of the father. And I get as a child a forced choice. We are forced into language. What you accept is the name of the father the fathers law or the phallus. In a patrichary society particularly the phallus is the new law of desire. That is suppose to substitute for the pleasure you had to give up your object relations with mom. that is a metaphoric process a metaphoric substitution for the phallus for the words of mom the privileged words with mom. Pleasures that are gone. Once you are in language you are force in to a split your being or your meaning. You can’t have both of them. your being your jouissance your pleasures stemming from earlier development and socialization. You can be in those pleasures but not at the same time in societies meanings in the language of society the symbolic order. Which tells you the law of desire. If you are in meaning that is in societies language you are not able to represent what is un-representable what is repressed and gone. Your true being feeling and emotions. What you have to do is try and articulate feelings and emotions in societies language. So we are all alienated by language. The unconsciousness structured like a language but not accessable to language. In a sense that we can’t use it consciously like we use language. All of our desires are forced into a domain of substitution. We are always having to use the language of the father, signifiers, to represent the law signifier as substitutes for it. We are all signifiers for other signifiers. We deal with eachother as social signifiers. Signifiers for another signifiers which is also alienation in language. Desire after the edipal complex after the disciplined and restructuring of desire according to the language of the father the symbolic order. Desire is metonymic organized by metonymy we have the unconsciousness and the conscious the primal repression. We have lost that signifier snookems. So we have that substitute signifier the phallas as a substitute for that jouisance. We run across various signifiers and signifieds as we learn language. This is the social domain of language as we look them up in the dictoniary, there is also personal meanings that language have. The way words are associated just for us. We can have some signifier for each and every one of us. Large breats is for men the most synominus. That signifier blonde a social meaning of a type of hair color. A type of hair style. But it also has an unconsiousness meaning for us. it calls up our lost pleasures. Mom might have let us play with her hair All foreplay is in a sense going back to that lost repressesed erotic attachment to mom. What we have is an motonomy where s4 say blonde calls up s1. blonde hair calls up the erotic bond and lost pleasure from mom and is used as a substitute. We partner up with someone where we find that phantasmatic quality that we have been projecting on them that turned us on. Well they weren’t really doing that for us we were projecting it on them. We then become dissolusioned and fall out of love. It turns in to shit. Then we go looking for another women. Desire is metonymic is that we are looking for substitutes for what we have lost. So then again we are alienated by language. Forced to seek our pleasures in what society offers to us. by the names society offers it. We are talking about a leather phobia. Discussion with the analysist is called empty speech. Where the ego is talking to another ego. That is empty speech. The unconscious subject as opposed to the conscious subject speeks to the analysist when the analysist remains silent and there by we tend after a long period of building up this relationship of transference. The analysist ceases to be just another person we are talking to . We are actually working out earlier experiences. The analysist taking the position of the big other the parent. We are emotionally working them out reexperienceing them he calls this full speech. But it is the same kind of relationship that goes on between charismatic leaders and followers. Were the leader takes the place of the other with a capital o as opposed to the other with a lower case o. the other with the lower case is another signifier like. The other with the capital O is the locust o meaning. Where it all comes from the one who knows the one who is responsible. Lacan because he asserts the primacy of the phallic function that is the paternal intervention that metaphoric substitution that is the edipal complex and the phallus as a master signifier a signifier that orders all the others that gives a coherence and a meaning. He deals with gender explicitly. He defines men and women not according to biology but according to psychological structures that are ultimately social. For the males lacan says all men are subject to the phallic function. That is all men subject to the law of desire. Men identifying to the symbolic order. That is moving from a position of being the phallas, that is being what mom desired to having the phallus. Being like dad and accepting the law and identifying strongly with the law and having the phallus and having all of the roles and gratification that brings. There is also for the masculine position. There is some man who is not subject to the phallic function. This is freuds myth of the primal father. The narcicissict stage father the father prior to the law that father that intervened that had the bigger penis, who had the power who was threatening who was able to intervene and say no, a father who seemed to be his own law breaking up the mother child diad. Able to be outside the law omninpetent. For the female the relationship is different because it is a patriarchal law. That is it’s a law by men and for men herefore it is aysemetrical as opposed to complentementary. He attacks the notion that there is a complementary relationship between men and women as a myth. There is no sexual relation by which he means no complementary relation. No relation by where two halves become whole. We can never be whole un-alienated. He does state not all of women is defined by the phallic function. That is women is not all. He means that women not being man can’t be completely represented or captured in a man dominated language in a patriarchal language. There is something about women that eludes representation In the patriarchal discourse of the phallus. Not all of women is defined by the phallic function. But he also says that there is not single women who is not subject to the phallic function. The use of negative language: women is the negative case men are the positive case. There is no women who is totally independent of the phallic function. If you are totally outside of the law of desire if your totally outside of societies laws then you are psychotic. You don’t have a sense of meaning you don’t have an ordered world you don’t have a boundary between the conscious and the unconscious. So every women is subjected to the phallic function to some degree no women is completely outside the phallic function but also no women is completely defined by the phallic function. What effect does this have. Lacan talks about the classic case of the man. The product of socialization is man as a split function by language. Split between being and meaning. Man identify with the language having the phallus having the power. Men desire women is what lacan calls object A. object a is lower case for the French other otra. Men desire women in this metonymic fashion. They project on to women something extra. Some phantasmatic quality that is above and beyond the actual women. Some capacity to provide a pleasure that was lost because it was associated with mom during the object relation stage. So men are pursing woman defined who by the law of desire. Women as signifiers and those signifiers having a metonymic extra element a phantasmatic extra element that has to do with our lusciousness our lost pleasures which we are trying to rediscover. So the law of desire for men is this men identify with the law completely as they can. Lacan believes that women does not exist in the language of patriarchy. Because women is not all and is not defined by masculine discourse she doesn’t exist in reality except as a signifier. Woman can do and what does she desire they have two choices. They can be the phallus for the man become what man desires. They can play a role try to live up to one of the stereotypes of femininity that men create and find desirable. This is how women try to play the game. By actually being what she is not. Being that essence that society defines as being desirable to men. Or trying to fit roles that are defined by phallic or masculine discourse. But as women has not all not totally identifies with language has another option. That is to exist outside of meaning all together. Women is the signifier of the limit of the other the capital A. the other as the law of the other that is imposed upon us. Women is undefined by the patriarchal law. Women striking out in to un-chartered territory this is the problem feminism had. There weren’t any symbols for it. There weren’t any words or language for it . it was outside the phallic function all together. Outside the law of the Big other. They were inventing signifiers that the symbolic orders were not complete. So it is a jump in to meaningless a jump in to a different order. It is potentially liberating that the law can be changed or transcended. He defines the masculine and feminine positions and psychological structures not biologically given. That is men and women can adopt either of these positions. He uses the example of St. John as a masculine person occupying a feminine position. Because it is not biological and because if a man takes a women’s position they are still subject to the same structures that is the phallic function that operates that way. That is why lacan says that homosexuality is not perversion because perversion is a denial of the phallic law. Gay men accept this law they just put them selves on a different side of the equation and they still exist with in the system. So it is not perversion. This way of thinking about male and female as positions define by language by the phallic function by our position with respect to signifiers and signified has had a great impact on feminism. Feminism influenced by lacan. Film is a master ideological discourse. Women are socialized by films normalized by films. Because they go to films and they identify with the female characters with the relationships with the female characters and the male characters. Film has this powerful effect on us. We are in the dark looking at these characters their problems are our problems. We are captured by their views. Giving up of your critical faculty. We identify not simply with the characters but with the point of view of the director. The director determines what we see and who we see it. The director overwhelming male. Over the male gaze women is constructed over the male category. There is a fetishistic quality to the Hollywood film. Women the construction of women the male creating of the glamorous female the venerable female is to reinforce of the male director. Power in the psychological sense. Producing the women as a glamorous product is the way of overcoming the lack of women, women lacking meaning castration meaning the anxiety that maybe being a man isn’t enough. More simply men reinforce their masculinity by fixing women in place by giving them identities by imposing upon them sexiness and all of the other stereotypes men impose on women. Women is lack in a masculine world. The point is to cover that lack by a masquerade. To talk about the way women pretend to be the phallus to be what men desire. Covering up their lack of meaning by pretending to be what men want them to be what men expect them to be. Masquerade filling in the lack as opposed to launching oneself in to uncharted territory, is the feminine side of the women as fetishistic object. And fetishism here is the taking of the lacking women and making her full by making her sexy making her perfect the perfect symbol of beauty. A perfect object not lacking in anything and therefore ameliorating or reducing male anxiety about identities about whether they actually they have the mythical phallus or not.
lacans three registers or structure of the psyche. The real the symbolic and the imaginary show. Lacan calls this the real where we are dealing with the other and the ideal of the ego. What is repressed is the object relations the jouisance. The real pleasures. It is a term that means the real feeling the affect an emotion of pleasure and pain. The emotions that we had with mom being repressed. The imaginary has to do with images how we recognize and are attracted to images but also our identification with language the symbolic order and our identification with the signifiers. This imaginary then is the product and the subject is all three of those structures working simultaneously. Lacan calls this the wall of language. Metaphor and metonomy forms chains of meanings. The symbolic order the realm of the law and language. The symbolic order is the language that every culture culture has. Our mother tounge. The imposition of the symbolic order induces the repression of the real. So the real is made up of real pleasures. That is pleasures of the child that has been repressed written over by later levels of psychological development. But they are still there and they act as magnets to attract to create associations. When we come across pleasures or fears we don’t understand exactly why. Why we like one shirt over another. One way to get at this is to go back to lacans graphs of desire. He talks about these graphs as showing how the subject is not the unified subject that Sartre thought it was. Uncousiness split for freud the id, ego, and the superego, for lacan the real the symbolic and the imaginary. The first graph of desire is one that we are already familiar with. In the realm of meaning which is also the real of identification. Identification with signifiers. The process of learning language of becoming inscribed by language: suture – stiches that a surgeon binds your skin. So that we think in language. It is so fundamental to us that we think in language so there is no way to get out of language. And this is the process how we get that way. A chain of signifiers. When begin to associate a bunch of words. The big O is the locust o meaning that is the big other. The big other is the one who knows the one who has the secret of it all. You and I realations are signifiers talking to other signifiers. The big other stands above both of us. we both accept the bi other so we can relate to each other without a problem . We have the same language and value system. We know how to relate to each other. The small s the signified. Retroactivly a whole chain of signification all of a sudden falls in to place. The boy becomes a master signifier for a whole bunch of words whose relationship escaped me. Pink booties vs. blue. Boy makes sense of it retrocactively. Going back in time. Master signifier is a signifier that rises above the other signifiers to unify them to give them a meaning to make sense of them. This is the process by which I become a barred subject. S with vertical line through it . I become no longer the subject that I was prior to language but now I am barred by language. That is language has shaped me. And from then on I start out as a barred subject all future iterations. What happens is that I identify with the code of the big other. By identifying with the signifiers I am a boy I have the concept and meaning of boy that I am going to use in the future to make sense of new events. Boy will be one big concept. I will build upon it. Lacan in the second version of graph makes additions. The big other once it is in place serves to reinforce its message in light of new experiences. It becomes the place where the big other can gaze at me. The symbolic order acts as a monitor telling us whether we are making sense or not. We have meanings thrust upon us. we have to use the language of the other in order to communicate at all. Those rules are outside our control. They are the gaze is always looking at us. this lacan calls it the ego. And it is also the point after the first iteration where I look at the results of my further actions to see wether I approve of them or not. Whether I am living up towards my ideals or not. The ego looks at my past actions or future actions to determine whether to be proud or not. The gaze coming out of the symbolic order of the big other, the look coming from the ego which is my identification of the law. This is all operating within the logic of the code. And the look and the gaze are reinforcing the code. Inside this loop this is old actions and new meanings are being created by suturing. Once the new meanings are it becomes part of the code and part of the gaze. This is still the realm of meaning. Lnguage the way we are aquiring language and identifying with signifiers. What he adds is once we are inscribe in this process we have what is called the voice. The voice is what the law tells us to do with speech. Speek in terms of the code. We will speak in terms of the future as interpolated as socialized in our native language. You have to follow the rules of you native tounge. It is not the real you it is the choices society gave you to express yourself. This is alienation. It alienates your being in the realm of meaning. Well the system is never going to be perfectly complete. What I have now is the idea that I am a man what that means but there is stil an existential question that emerges. What lacan calls this question of what do you want.and it is a question that we address towards the big other. It is first mon and then dad intervienes. Why am I a man. What does it mean that I am a man. So it is an exetential question. We want an identity. We want an answer to this question. Well ultimately the big other doesn’t have an answer. The answer to why is because.That isn’t satisfying. The barred subject desires object a. this is the formula for fantasy. What lacan is saying from the system of meaning which is the system of language, we ask the question of why am I a man and we make up a answer and that answer is the fantasy that sustains us. That is the fantasy that we believe in. We might say god want us that way. Religion can give us an ultimate meaning. Some answer to the question of why. Object a is a fantasy object. It has a lot of dimentions. It is something that we project on to an object. Relationships that we get in to. Why are we attracted to this person. That is because that person has some mysterious something extra. We project on to this person a quality a characteristic that is going to give us meaning that is going to fill in our lack that is going to end our alienation. This person is going to make me whole. That person is going to give my life meaning.I am going to project something extra on this person that is what attracts me to her. Next stage of diagram. In the next stage we get a structure. First lacan talks about a deed that he calls desire. I have made sense I have a fantsy meaning but I am still addressing to the big other. What does the other want me to do . my desire is always to be desired by the big other. To do what mon and dad want I want to be the object of moms desire. I want her to desire me in other words I am always wanting to know what it is that mom wants from me. Up here we have another formula lacan calls this the formula for the drive. Which means that we need to understand the vector. This vector was a chain of signifiers. But this isn’t a relm of feeling it is a realm of meaning. This chain of felling or jouisance. We also have a stream of pleasures, bodly satisfactions. Things that give us pleasure and displeasure. This is the realm of jouisance. It is not meaning but being. And the two vectors are going to suture the subject not simply into a realm of meaning but also our pleasures and our bodies are going to be disciplined. We are going to learn feel what we are suppose to feel and express our desires in the socially approved manner. Ultimately we are going to have to give up mom and the jouisance with mom. Ultimately the subject desires to mean the demand of the other D. the other demand. The others demand is that I give up mom and substitute for the object relations and jouisance that I got from mom the symbolic meaning of the phallus which is really the law of desire. That is my desire is going to get structured into socially approved objects not mom but for a male child someone like mom. I can be like dad. The symbol for this is S(O) with bar through it. It means simply the phallus. The barred other means that ultimately I am having a pleasure that the symbolic order can’t explain. That is just the way it is. The isn’t going to be an answer there is only going to submission. My pleasure and the fact that the other can’t explain it means that the other is really arbitrary. Its barred its just there it doesn’t have a meaning. The other is barred because there is no other of the other. In other words there is no secret behind the symbolic order. No secret that is going to explain why it is this way it just is this way. The other is barred but that isn’t the end of it. There is also a signifier that fills in that lack and that signifier is the phallus. I lost the thing and I got the promise of the substitute in the world of signifiers. A law of desire through which I can look for substitutes but only substitutes because the real thing has been taken away. It is the incest taboo. The phallus is the substitute for the lost pleasure that I had to give up. But the phallus is also a signifier of the impossibility of the symbolic order to signify what I lost. I am given this substitute but it is flawed. In other words I am alienated. The symbolic order is never going to give mom back to me give me the pleasures that I lost. It is a process of disciplining my body. So what I had the demand of the father was repression of desire of the mother. And substitution of the phallus for what I gave up. This has something to do with meaning but it also has to do with real enjoyment. It affects us more profoundly. It is why we have emotional reactions to things because they are shaped socially. We get hungry as human beings but we do not get hungry for all the same things that is social. That process of displining the body produces symbolic castration. That is our whole apparatus of jouissance is disciplined by the social order disciplined by the demand of the big other and the law of desire such that certain pleasures are socially acceptable and are strongly sanctioned when our pleasures go out of those socially accepted channels and we internalize that. What come out at the other end of the drive is another injunction not speak but enjoy. Enjoy how according to the law. Enjoy in certain ways not other ways. The process of normalizing jouisance is always inadequate. Jouissance is a register of affect emotion. That inadequately is that the phallus did not give us what we really lost. Looking for another person never gives us that completion that we had with mom. What is left over from that process of disciplining is a remainder something that escapes the normalization process. But we hang on to it we hang on to the memory of the pleasure in the unsciousness and that is object a. object a is what the demand of the other can’t satisfy. So the formula for fantasy gets supported by the dimention of jouissance. And then of course the fantasy comes down and reinforces the language. We are emotionally attached to the idea of being a man the idea of fantasy is women. I as a man have the fantasy that all I am lacking the right woman. Once I get the right woman I will be whole again. That reinforces the message at the level of pure meaning. That there are two genders and that men marry women which were simply words but now I am emotionally attached to them. That is why changing them is so hard. Political ideology. Lets say we have an adult. As we get older it does not change the realm of the new diminishes. We already have a system and new stuff gets put into the old formulas. We have an adult who has identified with fascism. The fascist personality is someone who has gone through an intense traumatic edipal complex. Who has identified very strongly because of a very harsh parental authority figure. Someone who has identified very strongly with the law. With being a man. Someone who is extremely threatened by anything that challenges the notion of manliness. So this is the individual who is going to be attracted to Hitler. At the level of meaning he will be somewhat like his father. He is going to have learned a system of master signifiers this process is later and therefore secondary but it is going o pack into all ready existing meanings. He is going to learn things about jews. Jews are going to be a master signifiers. It going to make sence of a whole of things. His did will loose his job because of the jews caused a depression. We are extremely threatened by the jews. The positive side is that we are germans and the jews are other than german. So we get a whole system of meanings master signifiers using race as a system of meaning like man. There is not emotional atachment to it yet. Dad was the big other who reprimanded and controlled me and I identified strongly with his values to have him love me. Dad was the first big other and eventually this man Hitler speaks and he is saying the same things that dad was saying and I respond to him because he has taken the place of dad. What is it Hitler is telling me to do once he becomes a big other. He is telling me to sacrifice to do my duty to be a good german and to sacrifice for the father land is pleasurable. He reinforces the previous edipal identification with dad and man. The fantasmatic element is of a jew free community. The aria community. It is a community without tension with out the social problems that I have to face now. If I could just get rid of those jews the my whole life becomes better. The problems are caused by foreigners. The old system of values being a manly man like dad, fit in right with this new one of beating up on the jews. And the whole Arian community and my emotional identification with it now the visceral happiness out of putting on the nazi uniform kicking the hell out o Jews and socialists I feel good when I do that. That feeling good comes down to reinforce the fantasy and the ideology strongly reinforcing my identiication with it and the next time I am a more committed nazi. What lacan is doing is showing that our political allegiances are not simply intellectual they are emotional and irrational. The fantasy is indestructible. It cannot die because it is the support of my whole identity. The primary process of facism is the edipal process.