......• PHILOSOPHY •
It is at this precise point that Kant, the Kantian break, sets in. What Spinoza and Kant share is the idea that virtue is its own reward, and needs no other: they both reject with contempt the popular idea that our good deeds will be renumerated and our bad deeds punished in the afterlife. However, Kant's thesis is that the Spinozean position of knowledge without deontological dimension of an unconditional Ought is impossible to sustain: there is an irreducible crack in the edifice of Being, and it is at this crack that the "deontological" dimension of "Ought" intervenes - the "Ought" fills in the incompleteness of "Is," of Being. When Kant says that he reduced the domain of knowledge in order to make space for religious faith, he is to be taken quite literally, in the radically anti-Spinozist way: from the Kantian view, Spinoza's position appears as a nightmarish vision of subjects reduced to marionettes. What, exactly, does a marionette stand for - as a subjective stance? In Kant, we find the term "Marionette" in a mysterious subchapter of his Critique of Practical Reason entitled "Of the Wise Adaptation of Man's Cognitive Faculties to His Practical Vocation", in which he endeavours to answer the question of what would happen to us if we were to gain access to the noumenal domain, to the Ding an sich:
... instead of the conflict which now the moral disposition has to wage with inclinations and in which, after some defeats, moral strength of mind may be gradually won, God and eternity in their awful majesty would stand unceasingly before our eyes. /.../ Thus most actions conforming to the law would be done from fear, few would be done from hope, none from duty. The moral worth of actions, on which alone the worth of the person and even of the world depends in the eyes of supreme wisdom, would not exist at all. The conduct of man, so long as his nature remained as it is now, would be changed into mere mechanism, where, as in a puppet show, everything would gesticulate well but no life would be found in the figures. 1
So, for Kant, the direct access to the noumenal domain would deprive us of the very "spontaneity" which forms the kernel of transcendental freedom: it would turn us into lifeless automata, or, to put it in today's terms, into "thinking machines." - The basic gesture of Kant's transcendental turn is thus to invert the obstacle into a positive condition. In the standard Leibnizean ontology, we, finite subjects, can act freely IN SPITE OF our finitude, since freedom is the spark which unites us with the infinite God; in Kant, this finitude, our separation from the Absolute, is the POSITIVE condition of our freedom. In short, the condition of impossibility is the condition of possibility. In this sense, Susan Neiman is right to remark that "the worry that fueled debates about the difference between appearance and reality was not the fear that the world might not turn out to be the way it seems to us - but rather the fear that it would." 2 This fear is ultimately ethical: the closure of the gap between appearance and reality would deprive us of our freedom and thus of our ethical dignity. What this means is that the gap between noumenal reality and appearance is redoubled: one has to distinguish between noumenal reality ăin itself" and the way noumenal reality APPEARS within the domain of appearance (say, in our experience of freedom and the moral Law). This tiny edge which distinguishes the two is the edge between sublime and horrible: God is sublime for us, from our finite perspective - experienced in itself, it would turn into a mortifying horror.
However, one should be very careful not to miss what Kant is aiming at. In a first approach, it may appear that he merely assumes a certain place prefigured by Spinoza: unable to sustain the non-anthropomorphic position of true knowledge, he proclaims the substantial order of Being inaccessible, out of bounds for our reason, and thus opens up the space for morality. (And, incidentally, is the same stance not clearly discernible in today's neo-Kantian reactions to biogenetics? Basically, what Habermas is saying is: although we now know that our dispositions depend on meaningless genetic contingency, let us pretend and act as if this is not the case, so that we can maintain our sense of dignity and autonomy - the paradox is here that autonomy can only be maintained by prohibiting the access to the blind natural contingency which determines us, i.e., ultimately, by LIMITING our autonomy and freedom of scientific intervention.) However, things are more complex. In his
Consequently, do we not find the distinction between how things appear to me and how things EFFECTIVELY appear to me in the very heart of Kant's transcendental turn? The phenomenal reality is not simply the way things appear to me, it designates the way things "really" appear to me, the way they constitute phenomenal reality, as opposed to a mere subjective illusory appearance. Consequently, when I misperceive some object in my phenomenal reality, when I mistake it for a different object, what is wrong is that I am not aware not of how things "really are in themselves," but of how they ăreally appear" to me. One cannot overestimate the importance of this Kantian move - ultimately, philosophy as such is Kantian, it should be read from the vantage point of the Kantian revolution: not as a naive attempt at "absolute knowledge," at a total description of the entire reality, but as the work of deploying the horizon of pre-understanding presupposed in every engagement with entities in the world. It is only with Kant (with his notion of the transcendental) that true philosophy begins: what we had before was a simple global ontology, the knowledge about All, not yet the notion of the transcendental-hermeneutic horizon of the World. Consequently, the basic task of the post-Kantian thought was "only" to think Kant to the end. This is what, among others, Heidegger's intention was in Being and Time: to read the history of ontology (Descartes, Aristotle) backwards from Kant - say, to interpret Aristotle's physics as the hermeneutic deployment of what being, life, etc. meant for the Greeks. (Later, unfortunately, Heidegger renounced this idea of pursuing to the end the Kantian breakthrough, dismissing Kant's transcendental turn to a further step in the course of the subjectivist forgetting of Being.) And the ultimate irony is that Deleuze was in a way fully aware of this fact: in his 1978 lectures on Kant, he claims that, for Kant, "there is no longer an essence behind appearance, there is rather the sense or non-sense of what appears"; what this bears witness to is "a radically new atmosphere of thought, to the point where I can say that in this respect we are all Kantians." 3
So what does Hegel bring to this constellation? Let us approach this question through an unexpected detour: a profoundly Hegelian motif of Deleuze, his reversal of the standard relationship between a problem and its solution(s), his affirmation of an irreducible EXCCESS of the problem over its solution(s), which is the same as the excess of the virtual over its actualizations:
In Deleuze's approach the relation between well-posed explanatory problems and their true or false solutions is the epistemological counterpart of the ontological relation between the virtual and the actual. Explanatory problems would be the counterpart of virtual multiplicities since, as he says, 'the virtual possesses the reality of a task to be performed or a problem to be solved'. Individual solutions, on the other hand, would be the counterpart of actual individual beings: 'An organism is nothing if not the solution to a problem, as are each of its differenciated organs, such as the eye which solves a light problem. 4
The philosophical consequences of this "intimate relation between epistemology and ontology" are crucial: the traditional opposition between epistemology and ontology should be left behind. It is no longer that we, subjects of a scientific investigation, engaged in the difficult path of getting to know objective reality, gradually approaching it, formulate and solve problems, while reality just IS out there, fully constituted and given, unconcerned by our slow progress. In a properly Hegelian way, our painful progress of knowledge, our confusions, our search for solutions - that is to say: precisely that which seems to SEPARATE us from the way reality really is out there - is already the innermost constituent of reality itself. When we try to establish the function of some organ in an animal, we are thereby repeating the "objective" process itself through which the animal "invented" this organ as the solution of some problem. Our process of approaching constituted objective reality repeats the virtual process of Becoming of this reality itself. The fact that we cannot ever "fully know" reality is thus not a sign of the limitation of our knowledge, but the sign that reality itself is "incomplete," open, an actualization of the underlying virtual process of Becoming. 5
Such a reflective twist by means of which the subject assumes the inexistence of the big Other defines the subjective position of the analyst, what Lacan calls the "discourse of the analyst" - and he does give a clear hint that this, effectively, is Hegel's position. In his Seminar XVII (L'envers de la psychanalyse), Lacan, in an apparently inconsistent way, first designates Hegel as the "most sublime of hysterics," then, a couple of pages later, as an exemplary figure of the Master, and, finally, a dozen or so pages later, as the model of the discourse of university 6 - and it is easy to see how each of these designations is justifiedn in its own terms: Hegel's system is the extreme case of the all-encompassing university Knowledge, allocating each particular topic to its own proper place; if there ever was a figure of the towering Master in the history of philosophy, it is Hegel; and Hegel's dialectical procedure can best be determined as the permanent hystericization - hysterical questioning - of the hegemonic figure of the Master. So which of these three positions is the "real" Hegel? The answer is obvious: the fourth one, the discours of the analyst - as if to point in this direction, Lacan - in this seminar dedicated to the four discourses - applies on Hegel the first three positions (Master, Hysteric, University), leaving out the fourth position. Do we not get here a clear case of the logic of the borrowed kettle, mentioned by Freud in order to render the strange procedure of the dreams, namely the enumeration of mutually exclusive answers to a reproach (that I returned to a friend a broken kettle): (1) I never borrowed a kettle from you; (2) I returned it to you unbroken; (3) the kettle was already broken when I got it from you? For Freud, such an enumeration of inconsistent arguments of course confirms per negationem what it endeavors to deny: that I returned you a broken kettle - or, in Hegel's case, the he occupies the position of the analyst. A further proof of this fact is Lacan's claim that the discourse of the analyst is not simply one among the four - it is simultaneously a discourse which emerges when we pass from one to another discourse (say, from that of the Master to that of the University). If, then, the discourse of the analyst is located in the very passage, shift, from one to another discourse, is the true position of Hegel, who is a Master, a Hysteric, and the agent of the discourse of University, not that of an incessant passage between these three - that is to say, that of the analyst?
It is here that we can clearly pinpoint what is arguably Deleuze's crucial misunderstanding of Hegel's move against/beyond Kant: Deleuze continues to read Hegel in a traditional way, as the one who returned from Kant to absolute metaphysics which articulates the totally self-transparent and fully actualized logical structure of Being. Already in Difference and Repetition, Deleuze interpretes Kant's transcendental Ideas from the perspective of his notion of "problematicity" as the excess of the question over answers to it: a transcendental Idea designates not an ideal, but a problem, a question, a task, which no answer, no actualization, can fully meet. So Deleuze can only read the excess of the problem over its solutions as an anti-Hegelian motif, insofar as he perceives Hegel as the one who as it were filled in the gaps of the Kantian system and passed from Kant's openness and indeterminacy to the notion's complete actualization/determination. 7 What, however, if Hegel does not ADD any positive content to Kant, does not fill in the gaps, what if he just accomplishes a shift of perspective from which the problem already appears at its own solution? What if, for Hegel, "absolute Knowing" is not the absurd position of "knowing everything," but the insight into how the path towards Truth is already Truth itself, into how the Absolute is precisely - to put it in Deleuzean terms - the virtuality of the eternal process of actualization?
We are thereby in the very heart of the problem of freedom: the only way to save freedom is through this short-circuit between epistemology and ontology - the moment we reduce our process of knowledge to a process external to the thing itself, to an endless approximation to the thing, freedom is lost, because "reality" is conceived of as a completed, ontologically fully constituted, positive order of Being. The inconsistency of Kant apropos freedom is here crucial in its structural necessity. On the one hand, the subject is free in the noumenal sense - its freedom attests to the fact that it does not belong to the domain of phenomenal enchainment of causes and effects, that it is capable of absolute spontaneity; on the other hand, spontaneity is transcendental, not transcendent, it is the way the subject appears to itself - as we learn in the final paragraphs of the Part I of Critique of Practical Reason, it may well be that, in itself, at the noumenal level, we are just marionettes in the hands of the all-powerful God. The only solution is here the Hegelo-Deleuzian (sic!) one: to transpose the incompleteness, openness (the surplus of the virtual over the actual, of the problem over its solution(s)), into the thing itself.
It is in this precise sense that one should agree with Brecht who once wrote that there is no dialectics without humor: the dialectical reversals are deeply connected to comical twists and unexpected shifts of perspective. In his book on jokes, Freud refers to the well-known story of a middleman who tries to convince a young man to marry a woman he represents; his strategy is to reinterptrete every objection into a praise. When the man says "But the woman is ugly!", he answers: "So you will not have to worry that she will deceive you with others!" "She is poor!" "So she will be used not to spend too much of your money!", and so on, until, finally, when a man formulates a reproach impossible to reinterprete in this way, the middleman explodes: "But what do you want? Perfection? Nobody is totally without a fault!" 8 Would it not also be possible to discern in this joke the underlying structure of the legitmization of a Real Socialist regime? "There is not enough meat and rich food in the stores!" "So you don't have to worry about getting fat and suffering a heart attack!" "There is not enough interesting theatrical and cinema performances or good books available!" "Does this not enable you to cultivate all the more the art of intense social life, visiting friends and neighbors?" "The secret police exerts total control over my life!" "So you can just relax and lead a life safe from worries!", and so on, till... "But the air is so polluted from the nearby factory that all my children have life-threatening lung diseases!" "What do you want? No system is without a fault!"
So what, precisely, is the thin line which divides tragedy from comedy, the final tragic insight from the final twist of a joke? In many a good joke, the unexpected final twist occurs when the position of enunciation itself falls into the enunciated content - recall the well-known story about a Pole and a Jew sharing the same train compartment, with the Pole starting the conversation by asking the Jew: "Tell me, how do you Jews manage to squeeze the last bit of money from the people?" "OK," replies the Jew, "but this will cost you 10 $!" Upon getting the money, the Jews goes on: "Well, at midnight, you go to the cemetery, you burn there a fire of special wood..." "What wood?" eagerly asks the Pole. "This will call you another 10$!" snaps back the Jew, and so on endlessly, till the Pole explodes: "But there is no final secret, no end to this story, you are just trying to squeeze all the money from me..." "Now you see how we Jews..." replies the Jew calmly. In short, what the poor Pole, eager to learn and focused to the secret to which he expected to be initiated, forgot to take into account was the very process into which he was involved while searching for the secret. The question is: what would make such a story (if not a tragedy proper, then at least) a non-joke, a story with a painful final twist which brings no release in laughter? Would it be enough for the Pole himself to come to the insight, so that, at a certain moment, HE exclaims: "My god, now I know how you Jews..."? Or would a simple more dramatic twist be sufficient - imagine the Pole deprived of his last penny, his family ruined, he himself lying ill and anouncing that he no longer has any money, when the Jew (caricaturized as the evil figure) tells him with a vicious smile: "There is no secret! I just wanted to taught you a lesson and really show you how we Jews..."? Or, to ask the same question the other way around, since the Oedipus story involves a homologous twist (in his search, the hero forgets to include himself), what change would suffice to make it a comedy? One can effectively imagine a similar story along the lines of The Marriage of Figaro, with the hero all of a sudden discovering that the older rich widow he married because of her money is effectively his own mother... Would it not be possible to retell in this way the elementary story of Christianity, namely as a joke with the final unexpected twist? A believer is complaining: "I was promised contact with god, divine grace, but I am now totally alone, abandoned by god, destitude, suffering, with only a miserable death awaiting me!" The divine voice then answers him: "You see, now you are effectively one with god, with Christ suffering on the cross!"
If we take into account the radical consequences of this elementary dialectical move, then the Hegelian "absolute knowing" itself appears in a new light: no longer as a madly megalomaniac claim by the individual called "Hegel" who, in 1820s, stated that he "knows and is able to deduce everything there is to know," but as an attempt at delineating the radical closure/finitude of a knowledge grounded in its historical constellation. In "absolute knowing," the limitations of our knowledge are correlated to the limitations of the known constellation itself, its "absolute" character thus emerging from the intersection of these two limitations.
Hegel's stance is thus not any kind of "mediatior" between the two extremes, Spinoza and Kant; on the contrary, from a truly Hegelian perspective, the problem with Kant is that he remains all too Spinozean: the crack-less, seamless, positivity of Being is just transposed into the inaccessible In-Itself. In other words, from the Hegelian standpoint, this very fascination with the horrible Noumenon in itself is the ultimate lure: the thing to do here is not to rehabilitate the old Leibnizean metaphysics, even in the guise of heroically forcing one's way into the noumenal "heart of darkness" and confronting its horror, but to transpose this absolute gap which separates us from the noumenal Absolute into the Absolute itself. So when Kant asserts the limitation of our knowledge, Hegel does not answer him by claiming that he can overcome the Kantian gap and gain access to Absolute Knowledge in the style of a pre-critical metaphysics; what he claims is that the Kantian gap already IS the solution: the Being itself is incomplete. THIS is what Hegel's motto "one should conceive the Absolute not only as Substance, but also as Subject" means: "subject" is the name for a crack in the edifice of Being.
THE TORSION OF MEANING
The standard topos of the critique of idealism is that, at the point where the conceptual deployment/presentation (logos) fails, touches its limit, a narrative (mythos) has to intervene - this holds from Plato through Schelling (who, in his Weltalter, aimed at supplementing the Hegelian conceptual self-development with the narrative of the Absolute prior to logos) up to Marx (the narrative of the primordial accumulation of the capital) and Freud (the narrative of the primordial horde). In the face of the constant theological motive of the ineffable obscure mystery in the very heart of the divine, of what Chesterton called "a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss /.../ a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach," 9 one is tempted to propose the opposite path: far from pointing towards the dimension of the "irrational," this mystery irrepresentable in the form of a narrative (except in the terms of a "heretic" notion (of God himself as the source of Evil, etc.) is simply the negative of the clarity of the Concept itself, i.e., the only way the self-division that characterizes the immanent self-movement of the Concept can be represented in the medium of a narrative. In other words, when (what Hegel called) the thought constrained to the domain of Representation and/or Understanding mentions the Ineffable, a Beyond which eludes its grasp, one can be sure that this Beyond is nothing but the oncept itself - it is the highest irony of the "mere Understanding" that it prerceives as "irrational" Reason itself. 10
And here Hegel rejoins Spinoza: Spinoza's opposition of imagination and true knowledge becomes the opposition of mere Vorstellung (representation) with its 'stories' and the self-development of a Notion. It is the irony of the history of philosophy that it is Schelling, the one who is considered a "Spinozean" among the German Idealists, who accomplishes the return to (philosophy as) narrative. In what does Schelling's true philosophical revolution consist? According to the standard academic doxa, Schelling broke out of the idealist closure of the Notion's self-mediation by way of asserting a more balance bi-polarity of the Ideal and the Real: the "negative philosophy" (the analysis of the notional essence) must be supplemented by the "positive philosophy" which deals with the positive order of existence. In nature as well as in human history, the ideal rational order can only thrive against the background of the impenetrable Ground of "irrational" drives and passions. The climax of philosophical development, the very standpoint of the Absolute, is thus not the "sublation /Aufhebung/" of all reality in its ideal Notion, but the neutral medium of the two dimensions - the Absolute is ideal-real... Such a reading, however, obfuscates Schelling's true breakthrough, his distinction, first introduced in essay on human freedom from 1807, 11 between (logical) Existence and the impenetrable Ground of Existence, the Real of pre-logical drives: this proto-ontological domain of drives is not simply "nature," but the spectral domain of the not-yet fully constituted reality. Schelling's opposition of the proto-ontological Real of drives (the Ground of being) and the ontologically fully constituted Being itself (which, of course, is "sexed" as the opposition of the Feminine and the Masculine) thus radically displaces the standard philosophical couples of Nature and Spirit, the Real and the Idea, Existence and Essence, etc. The real Ground of Existence is impenetrable, dense, inert, yet at the same time spectral, "irreal," ontologically not fully constituted, while Existence is ideal, yet at the same time, in contrast to the Ground, fully "real," fully existing. 12 This opposition - between the fully existing reality and its proto-ontological spectral shadow - is thus irreducible to the standard metaphysical oppositions between the Real and the Ideal, Nature and Spirit, Existence and Essence, etc. (And one should recall here how the space for this spectral domain of the pre-ontological "Undead" was opened up by the Kantian transcendental revolution.) In his late "philosophy of revelation," Schelling withdraws from the difficulty of thinking to the end this opposition, and "regresses" (retranslates it) into traditional ontological couples of essence and existence, ideal and real, etc. 13 The triangle of Spinoza-Hegel-Schelling is thus not as unambiguous as it may appear: although Spinoza and Hegel are solidary in their effort to formulate the truth of religion in conceptual form, there is nonetheless a level at which Spinoza is solidary with Schelling - more precisely, instead of Schelling, let us mention Richard Wagner, who, with regard to our topic, shares Schelling's fundamental attitude. Recall the famous beginning of Wagner's Religion and Art:
One could say that when religion becomes artificial it is for art to salvage the essence of religion by construing the mythical symbols which religion wants us to believe to be literal truth in terms of their figurative value, so as to let us see their profound hidden truth through idealized representation. Whereas the priest is concerned only that the religious allegories should be regarded as factual truths, this is of no concern to the artist, since he presents his work frankly and openly as his invention. 14
Everything is false here, in this passage which is anti-Kierkegaard par excellence: its disgusting aestheticization of religion, its misleading anti-fetishism, i.e., its rejection of the belief in the factual/literal truth on behalf of the "inner" spiritual truth... what if the true fetishism is this very belief in the "profound hidden truth" beneath the literal truth? - Wagner is here the oppposite of Spinoza who, in his Theologico-Political Tractatus, was the first to propose a historico-critical reading of the Bible grounded in the Enlightenment notion of universal Reason: one should distinguish between the inner true meaning of the Bible (accessible to us today through philosophical analysis) and the mythical, imaginary, narrative, mode of its presentation which is conditioned by the immature state of humanity in the period when the Bible was written. As Spinoza puts it pointedly: if someone holds to the rational inner truth of the Bible, while ignoring its explicit narrative content, he should be counted as a perfect believer; and vice versa, if someone slavishly follows all ritualistic prescripts of the Bible, while ignoring the rational inner truth, he should be counted as unbeliever. It is against such a stance that one should reassert the Jewish obedience of rules. Even more pointedly, it is against such a stance that one should with all force assert the Kierkegaardian point of pure dogma: even if one follows all the ethical rules of Christianity, if one does not do it on account of one's belief that they were revealed by the divine authority of Christ, one is lost.
Although opposed, these two readings are complementary in that they both search for a "deeper" truth beneath the figurative surface: in one case, this truth is the inner ineffable spiritual message, in the other case, it is the rational conceptual insight. What they both miss is, to put it with Marx, the level of form as such: the inner necessity of the content to assume such a form. The relationship between form and content is here dialectical in the strict Hegelian sense: the form articulates what is repressed in the content, its disavowed kernel - which is why, when we replace the religious form with the direct formulation of its "inner" content, we feel somehow cheated, deprived of the essential. 15 What is missing in both Spinoza and Wagner is thus the inner torsion by means of which the form itself is included (or, rather, inscribes itself) into content - and this, perhaps, is the minimal definition of an EVENT. This is why, neither in Spinoza nor in Wagner, is there any space for an Event proper, for a shattering intervention that would introduce a radical cut in the substantial content. As we shall see, it follows now the crucial reference to Alain Badiou - THE philosopher of the Event.
1 Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, New York: Macmillan 1956, p. 152-153.
2 Susan Neuman, Evil in Modern Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2002, p. 11.
3 Gilles Deleuze, Seminar 1, available on the internet at www.deleuze.fr.st.
4 Manuel DeLanda, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy, New York: Continuum 2002, p. 135.
5 This is also how Deleuze determines the difference between philosophy and science: science aims at solutions, while philosophy tries to extract problems which orientate scientists in their search for solutions. There is, however, a fundamental ambiguity in how Deleuze characterizes philosophy as syntagmatic, in contrast to Kuhn's notion of a scientific paradigm, i.e., of science as paradigmatic: science is a slow-motion, freeze-frame procedure, reduction to a fixed system of functional coordinates, in contrast to philosophical acceleration of motion; on the other hand, Deleuze claims that science operates in a serial time (linear development, rupture, reconnection), while philosophy operates according to a "stratigraphic" time in which what comes after is always superimposed on what comes before. But is serial time not precisely SYNTAGMATIC (linear succession in time), in contrast to the "stratigraphic" crystallization, i.e., PARADIGMATIC superimposition? The key resides in the exact implications of these two modalities of time: the "stratigraphic" paradigmatic superimposition is precisely the ultimate result of time catching up with itself in an inner fold, of a past crystal-image superimposing itself on a future image, while the time of science is that of linear temporal movement of the constituted reality IN time, which means, precisely, WITHIN a certain given paradigm of what reality is. The true opposition is thus not simply between movement and static structure, but between movement IN time, correlative to a paradigmatic order, and movement OF time itself in a short-circuit of past and present. The ultimate movement, the ultimate subversion of static order, is the very "stratigraphic" stasis in which past and future coincide in a superimposed crystallized image.
6 See Jacques Lacan, Le séminaire, livre XVII: L'envers de la psychanalyse, Paris: Editions du Seuil 1991.
7 For a succinct account of the complex, shifting, and often inconsistent way Deleuze relates to the triad of Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel, see Christian Kerslake, "The Vertigo of Philosophy: Deleuze and the Problem of Immanence," in Radical Philosophy 38.
8 It is interesting to note that, when, in his Seminar V on Les formations de l'inconscient (Paris: Editions du Seuil 1998), Lacan retells this story, he omits the final inversion - the very feature which appears to us today as its properly "Lacanian" point, and just says that the game of critical remarks and answers goes on indefinitely. Is this slip not the best proof of how, in that period (mid-1950s), Lacan was still in the thrall of the signifying process of endless interpretation, unable to properly conceptualize the structural necessity of a cut which interrupts this unending signifying drift..
9 G.K.Chesterton, Orthodoxy, San Francisco: Ignatius Press 1995, p. 145.
10 What is a concept? It is not only that, often, we are dealing with pseudo-concepts, with mere representations (Vorstellungen) posing as concepts; sometimes, much more interestingly, a concept can reside in what appears to be a mere common expression, even a vulgar one. In 1922, Lenin dismissed "the intellectuals, the lackeys of capital, who think they're the brains of the nation. In fact, they're not its brains, they're its shit." (Quoted in Helene Carrere D'Encausse, Lenin, New York: Holmes & Meier 2001, p. 308.) As Badiou did apropos of Sartre's (in)famous claim that "anti-communists are dogs," one should, instead of shamefully ignoring this statement, take the risk and elaborate the underlying CONCEPT of shit.
11 See F.W.J. Schelling, "Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom and Related Matters," in Philosophy of German Idealism, ed. Ernst Behler, New York: Continuum 1987.
12 The notion of pre-ontological Real is crucial not only with regard to the history of ideas, but even with regard to art and our daily experience of reality. Is the entire contemporary popular (but not only popular) culture not populated by entities located in this pre-ontological domain? Recall, from Stephen King horror tradition, the spectral figure of a young boy, not yet sexualized, who is "undead," a living dead, utterly corrupted AND innocent, infinitely fragile AND all-powerful, the embodiment of Evil in his very purity. Do we not encounter the same figure in modern art a century ago, from the poems of Georg Trakl to the paintings of Edvard Munch, in the guise of the asexual spectral young boy, this "unborn" who stands simultaneously for vulnerable innocence and utter corruption?
13 And does, as we have already seen, the same not go also for Deleuze? In The Logic of Sense, he deploys the opposition of corporeal Being - the complex network of causes and effects - and the separate level of Becoming - its pure effect, the sterile impassive flow of immaterial Sense -, the opposition irreducible to the traditional ontological couples; later, however - with Anti-Oedipus -, in order to avoid the difficulty of sustaining this position, he reinscribes it into the traditional couple of Becoming versus Being, of the dynamic productive movement versus the "reified" order of its effects..
14 Quoted from Bryan Magee, The Tristan Chord, New York: Henry Holt and Company 2000, p. 281.
15 Which is why Wagner's or Spinoza's reading of the bible has nothing whatsoever to do with psychoanalysis, with psychoanalytic interpretation. If one wants to learn what a truly psychoanalytic reading is, one should look for it in, say, the dialogue between Joseph K. and the Priest which, in Kafka's The Trial, follows the "parable" on the door of the law.
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