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LACANIAN INK 23 – Spring


SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK–Do We Still Live in the Real World?
Deitch Projects,
November 23/2004

Josefina and Slavoj

I am Josefina Ayerza, the editor of lacanian ink.

I very much want to thank Jeffrey Deitch for sponsoring the event. And I want to thank Kathryn Grayson, his artist relations manager, for her help with putting it together.

Certainly marked by the work of Jacques Lacan, much as by the writing on Jacques Lacan, the journal has been going for 14 consecutive years... In this particular sense I was happy to read what Richard Kostelanetz had to say in his recent book The Decline and Fall of a Soho Art Community, where he notes that lacanian ink, together with a number of other journals involved in contemporary culture, have been witnesses to the century's last decade phenomena. Today, he comments, there are but three of these magazines that continue... Bomb and lacanian ink are two of them.

A witness to the critical thought of the 90's and into the 21st century, we have been honored with having Slavoj Žižek as a regular contributor since our second issue, in 1990. Again, this is the only publication Žižek writes for in a regular basis.

A witness to the Arts, lacanian ink set out a lacanian critique... today, the special kind of approach spreads beyond the journal.

Our latest issue, 23, takes Religion as its main point of discussion.

In his article "Religion, Psychoanalysis," Jacques-Alain Miller goes on to say that Freud "made" Moses... Why that he did such a thing? Because he needed a great man to make monotheistic religion rational... for the primacy of the One God, for the sovereignty of the signifier One."- He relied on the name of God as a proper name. This was his point of departure: that God is a signifier.

Miller continues to assert that Freud wanted the great man to be real... Then in terms of structure, I quote, "in psychoanalysis structure replaces the prohibition through the impossible...


That what is real is the impossible.

— A symbolic real, the signifier is reduced to a meaningless formula.

— An imaginary real, or unfathomable something, it permeates things as a trace of the sublime.

— The real real, or what conveys the sense of terror - a horrific thing.

Yet the unconscious is not psychoanalysis. With Lacan "the unconscious is the political, the presupposed master-signifier."

The issue concerns us in terms of the question on whether all politics have the same value and the same religious claim, whether it is explicit or not.

As to the very actual...

One side says

— This is a holy war, "Allah Akbar!"—

the other side says,

— This is a war for Democracy, for the liberation of Iraq!—

The holy up against democracy... where are we with democracy?

Let the unfathomable object be Ideology - and let it lurk in the sublime... as one of Žižek's titles entails - the real real falls low enough... what are young Americans dying for?

Signifiers can go astray, and with this it happens that they loose their meaning... Are we up to "make" Democracy the great man that will make America's heritage of puritan religion rational, for the primacy of this One God, for the sovereignty of the actual signifier "one"?

The face-to-face encounter of Democracy and God already happened.

Democracy spoke with God.

Make Rockefeller Center the Mount Sinai of our time and there are the commandments written on stone. Let me read from there:

1 — A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.

2 — Do you know the only thing that gives me pleasure? It's to see my dividends coming in.

3 — I have ways of making money that you know nothing of.

4 — I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity.

5 — The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.

6 — Competition is a sin.

Interestingly enough Mehdi Belhaj Kacem in his article "The Supreme Luxury," takes up money as the life of Democracy... I quote "... it is the hygienic form of a superabundance of waste, a waste which is not a simple metaphor for garbage, but rather a waste which is the excess of production without any other end than its own superabundance. Jouissance is the interior limit of its consummation, in which the depressive has a bitter experience without having to modify his conduct one iota to emerge from it."

Gérard Wajcman in the The Birth of the Intimate hints at a window, the window of the Other, a pre-existing gaze, pre-existing us, pre-existing our gaze... "Not a question of calling on religious belief," he says, "we are before all religion, before all thought... God would only be a way of incarnating, of giving a name and a visage, a sense to this gaze which is always there."

With Slavoj Žižek it is Jews, Christians, and Other Monsters... Now he wants us to conceive of a post modern Antigone with a Stalinist twist... so he says she would loom in such a position that the ethical itself is the temptation. I quote "Antigone would publicly renounce, denounce and accuse her father (or, in a different version, her brother Polynices) of his terrible sins out of her unconditional love for him. But such a public act would render Antigone even more isolated: no one, with the exception of Oedipus himself, if he were still alive, would understand that her act of betrayal is the supreme act of love..."

truth and meaning as the same thing. Then from his 15 Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art.

"Art is not the sublime descent of the infinite into the finite. It's an intimation about how not to be a Romantic. And so, he says, the question of art is also the question of life and not always the question of death..."

Now Žižek tells me that Badiou has declared democracy the enemy...

"Do we still live in a real world?" With you Slavoj Žižek