" It cannot be explained by any hegelian-marxist dialectics..."
These are the words with which Lacan dismisses in his XI Seminar that there is any chance of explaining the nazi Shoah with any hegelian-marxist dialectics. The article from Edward Said makes reference to the Israeli occupation on the palestinians, but does not refer at all--neither Zizek-- to the simple fact that the State of israel was created in 1948, three years after 1945, and seven years after the date of the nazi invention of the "final solution". How strange that in a Site dedicated to Lacan's teachings, there is not an lonely reference to this fact, the Shoah, which was for Lacan so representative of the horrors of our time. How strange, how strange! Lacan did speak in his seminar about what he called "deviation of the gaze" in confronting this horror. This is the same deviation of the gaze that I detect in Mr. Said's commentary.
The Middle East conflict could not be considered an after effect of the Shoah, in this sense? This attack on the Twin Towers, if considered as the after perspective of the horror of european segregation, is not as a return from the real of some horror impossible to be dialectized? Mr. Said makes things easy for him, because this horror can be used as propaganda for any side, and he uses it by the side of palestinians. But he forgets something real, very real, and I must say something similar to my friend Zizek. You cannot explain everything on dialectics of exploitation. It is true, these horrors are impossible without capitalism, but capitalism is not enough to explain them.
There is something obscure in an anonymous sacrifice of human life. But there is something obscure in the "Obscure God" which demands the sacrifice of any tender object, and which makes the industrialization of this sacrifice. My argument is this: you cannot explain these events in New York if you do not refer them to the Shoah. Should Spinoza have known of this horror, for example, to whom Lacan refers as the only human being that could resist the temptation of sacrifying the object, would he say that this is the effect of a human passion? Is there a mathematic pathos, a mathematic pathos of the exploitation, that can write this event on his Ethics?
My answer is: you have to consider today the chance of a "petit a", something as a hole in your beautiful hegelian-marxist dialectization. And, perhaps more awfully, you cannot expect this "petit a" to be referred to any nationalistic mythology. It is a "de-fundamentalized petit a".
- 9/27/01 - Continuation of commentary, given that there is still no answer from Edward Said, nor from Zizek.
There is a very interesting article from Stephen jay Gould in the New York Times, where he speaks about "the great asymmetry" between one act of depravation and 10,000 acts of the gift. How strange that a biologist must remind us, lacanians, of the absolute ethics of jouissance, and even that he has the courage doing it through the "Gift", which is a central theme in the elaborations of the anthropologist Marcel Mauss, and which Lacan considered so central in the treatment of the real in jouissance. Stephen Jay Gould tells us about the gifts from anonymous people, "little kindnesses", and he exemplifies them by the act of giving twelve apple brown bettys, that caused a firefighter, "an older man in a young crowd, sitting alone in utter exhaustion," to say "Thank you. This is the most lovely thing I've seen in four days--and still warm!".
Yes, the Gift, the Absolute Gift, is the same thing that Jean Amery, the concentration camp survivor tells us in his book " Jenseits von Schuld und Suhne", "Beyond Quilt and Expiation", when he tells us that in Auswichtz, the orthodox religious Jewish prisoners were the most prepared for survival, and he gives as an example that on Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement, they fasted, in the concentration camp!! This was the Gift, the Nothing that serves to treat the most supreme evil. This is also the twelve apple brown bettys. Amery says also that the intellectuals were those who most suffered the consequences of their indecision, they tried even sometimes to explain the behavior of the nazis at the camp. This is in a straight line with Jacques Lacan's phrase of my first commentary. To dialectize this New York horror is to try to explain a point of Absolute Evil. You cannot explain it, because in doing this you give up your desire. You have to treat it with the Gift. This is a vacuum that recognizes that Evil is a point where the Other does not exist.
Backstage and backbone
Marco Mauas replies to Said
I did not say we must put in a series the Shoah and this evil act of the WTC. I said in my answer it cannot be situated properly without a reference to the Shoah. I also quoted Lacan, who did not believe the Shoah can be dialectized. I dont believe, either, it can be.
I do not have the ambition of thinking everything. I don't believe it is possible to think everything. There is a limit. The Shoah is unthinkable with Hegel, we need Sade which was not, according to Lacan, so close to his own evil, as to try to obey the "love thy neighbour". That is the reason Lacan makes a series :Freud-Sade. Both were at a prudential distance from their own evilness, so not to try to convert their neighbours, neither to convince them of their system, and much less to make accessible to love the thing that cannot be loved.
I am every time surprised anew when I see how Lacan was right when he said we humans know how to count till two, byt if we know how to count till three, it is only thanks to our symptom.
It is true, Lacan said that we owe our conception of what a symptom is first of all to Marx: something that "does not go on" in the domain of the real. For example, when Marx says that in social crises, there is enough money to buy, but there is not enough money to pay. There is something in the real that forces this distinction, between, say, your credit card, and cash. Cash is to pay salaries, you cannot pay salaries with credit cards. With credit cards you buy, you can only buy.
Well, that's also a good reason why rich people cannot (Lacan) --yes, cannot--undergo psychoanalysis: they simply buy, they cannot pay. How do you get a rich person to pay his or her sessions?
Well, the freudian symptom is in the same line as Marx's symptom. According to the clear statement from Jacques-Alain Miller, if Lacan sasid that the best definition of the real is: that which is exluded from sense, the freudian symptom is, precisely, the only real that is not out of sense.
And that is the reason, the fundamental reason, that makes symptom, freudian symptom, the most precise guide for the subject. Psychoanalysis is not psychology, neither it is an idealism, because it has at its core, the freudian symptom.
Edward Said does count till 7 million. He counts 7 million muslims. Has he ever read about the book "The seventh million", by Tom Segev?
To speak about the Shoah is a real taboo for Mr Said. And I can guess why: It is the backstage of history: or you simply deny it, or you have to ignore it, completely. And that is the moment when it is also the backbone.
How do you dialectize this, Mr Said? It is all exaggerations, as some of our syrian neighbours say? Perhaps my friend Zizek has some explanation, some dialectical explanation for this.
Well, I am saying that the Shoah is the backbone of the Middle East conflict, and it is also the bone in the throat of every one that does not dare to say the word. I have searched this word in Mr Said text, but I have failed, I did not find it.
I am saying: if you speak about the Middle East conflict, between jews and palestinians, better you dare to say the word. perhaps only to show you do not deny it. Or you yes do?
This thesis, I have not read it anywhere, but it is clear crystal. The Shoah was the central fabric of mass anhilillation, according to scientific, quick, efficient methodology, of european jewry. This is a massacre completeley exluded from sense. It has no sense whatsoever, it has no dialectic explanation, it has no paralel in history. This was the first impact of a coincidental encounter between a desire to sacrifice to a "Obscure God" (Lacan) and the force, the field of segregation forces emanating from science.
So, this coincidence, this most strange and horrendous coincidence, gave way to the most well-planified atrocity and to the machinery of destruction, with the complicity of every one, even perhaps the victims themselves.
The Shoah is something that expulses you, you cannot be identified with it. But if you trie to foreclosure it, it returns from the real, Mr Said.
The Shoah is part of the Middle East conflict. It is its backbone.