Benjamin, Adamite Language and Pastiche Master
Shahriar Vaghfipour

Nikolay Bakharev

Author’s Bio

Chained revolutions in Arab countries remind witnesses of Iran riots in 2009 and Iran revolution in 1979. The later, was a revolution that overthrow the last “Caesar-type” despot. Caesar is a name for a modern government master who in the era of “death of God” seeks legitimacy outside divine force. The master establishes a master signifier ex nihilo (but only apparently). The master enunciates “I am who I say” equating subject of enunciated and subject of enunciation. Nevertheless, this is an illusion. This equation never establishes after emergence of signifiers and some repressed (semblant of) piece of the Real that is called objet petite a. This is the dilemma of Master discourse. However, what is in the name of the Caesar?

Originally, what is in the name as such? In this point, we initiate reading the conception of Adamite language that marks the language in the Garden of Eden, as Walter Benjamin says. This language is names per se. Benjamin proposes that in Garden of Eden, before the advent of guilt and the Fall of men, signification and naming is one and the same. Benjamin identifies three instants of language: language of things, Adamite language, and language (of man) only in which two levels of name and signification is distinct. Benjamin’s conception of language is different from modern linguistic one that he calls bourgeois conception, which takes relation between signifier and signified arbitrary. He says there was no distance between them in Garden of Eden where thing and its name are the same; however, after fall of men, this identification missed, although we could see its vestige in the level of names. He calls language of man before fall pure language because it is a creative mimetic of creating word of God. In pure language, name was the very knowledge that did not know good and evil because knowledge of evil is a faked one and is mere babbling. Pure language was outside the law; then law is the amnesia of true names of things.

What is the Paradise? Some religions contend they have a representation of Paradise on earth where believers must meet and do the rites of cleansing. The semi-paradise is a sacred place where men and gods meet; so the sacred place is a product of discriminating and excluding a place for the sacred, a product of settling the sacred from profane and allocating a space for the pure where not contaminated by any object/abject. Therefore, positing a sacred place requires a violence that must repeat on the moment of passage: sacrificing an animal is a civilized form of this violence. For this reason, every sacred place has an altar. This is true about the very Paradise before the Fall. The Garden of Eden already split by tree of the knowledge and this is for this split that the snake could enter into the sacred place and produce original guilt. Then, the snake could have another shape than phallic one? This is the very point where Benjamin’s concept proves true: insofar as there was no separation between thing and its name, there was no symbol before the Fall, so the snake was not a phallic symbol but the very phallus, i.e. symbolic phallus, according to Lacan (Φ).Let’s have a look on below diagram that shows relation between objects and Lacanian triad RIS:

The snake is symbolic phallus because this is after its encroach that sexual difference become real. Moreover, symbolic phallus makes (phallic) jouissance possible. Is not why this scene is introduction to guilt? Is not inability of Book of Genesis to present an image of snake in the Garden of Eden a proof for equation of snake and symbolic phallus (the snake after the Fall of Adam and Eve, suffers God’s curse and condemned to crawl on its belly; so isn’t reasonable that there is no snake before Fall)? Insofar as the snake is a symbol of life, why does not it propose the fruit of life tree instead of fruit of knowledge tree? Is it for the Symbolic is the same with death?

Some versions of this story tell Eve invokes temptations to eat that prohibited fruit. This is the point where a paradox reveals, the same one with that Lacan had involved some years: is symbolic phallus the master signifier (S1)? If the symbolic phallus is the constitutive exception, then it must be the signifier of signification, i.e. master signifier. However, the above diagram tells something else, that there is some discrepancy between them. Nevertheless, there is no paradox in Lacan. Since we are in the level of identification, symbolic phallus equates master signifier. Then, insofar as the snake equates Eve, is not Eve the master signifier in the eye of man, in the Adam’s eye? This is the woman offer herself as phallus for the man’s look. Since there is always a gap between master signifier and its place, there must be a fantasy, constructed around objet petite a, to cover this gap. For this reason, Lilith predominate Adam’s dreams: Lilith is a lost piece of Eve that conceals non-identity of Eve with herself.

What did happen when Adam and Eve ate apple? Why their eyes did open when they did that, as Saint Augustine after the holy write says? How might they see that the erectile organ of Adam would be a signifier? Adam gave everything its name through which he did recognize creating word of God in everything. Adam gave Eve her name but it proved wrong. After opening of their eyes, they felt shame for the first time because of their in-obedience of God’s word. They dressed themselves with leaf and this was the first thing that was alien to paradise/nature; then this is the first signifier as such and exclusively unfamiliar to pre-fall cosmos even the God did not know that. Adam saw nothing of the word in woman and related this lack to lack of erectile organ, so he named that this was holder of his body as master. Therefore, this scene is somehow a primal scene. This primal scene is the one of advent of shame and of the signifier that represented man to the Other. In addition, this scene is of primal repression of woman as something in Adam is more than his (she was of a severed part his). According to this fantasy, insofar as phallus was a new name, it did not belong to the Adamite language before the Fall; so it equaled to minus one. As evil was in paradise even before the original sin was commit, signifiers of after Fall was with men before Fall. Is this the way that Benjamin narrates formation of state as birth of Master’s discourse?

Although the three-fold genesis of language of man is the very thing Benjamin constructs in his “On Adamite language and language of man” as Book of Genesis tells, his interpretation of formation of state or law needs some explanation in respect of his “Critique of Violence”; but before that explanation, it would be noteworthy that his conception of language is not on the basis of actual evidences but a theoretical construction or a myth in the sense of Freud’s Ur-father killing. The Lacanese could recognize this construction as a fantasy, which aims Other’s jouissance; and they see the God as the Other in this fantasy. In addition, the fantasy conceals the lack in the Other who lacks master signifier as he calls it God’s name.

He, in contrast to liberal philosophy of politics, discerns law’s lacking of any transcendental ground, not least in the modern or secular era. He finds at the origin of law a kind of violence, which he calls founding or law-making. This moment constructs an undecidable zone where there is no determined difference between inside and outside, between legal and illegal, between obedience and revolt. Founding a law is not a translation of natural state of human or not gathering on a public contract but a performative enunciating. Benjamin calls this kind of speech-act is founding violence, is mythical violence that has something rotten because it demands sacrifice. He counters spiritual violence against mythical one. His argument is while the first suspends law the later makes a new one, the former punishes to establish justice and liberates the living while the second sheds blood and demands expiation instead of retribution. Is there homology between mythical (or human) violence and mother (impure) body in one hand, and spiritual violence and father body, between blood-shed and extermination without any blood? We see here two the same aforementioned fantasy: God-Father can do anything. However, the scene of spiritual violence that he develops in the frame of Biblical story of Korah revolt against Moses is a fantasy of undergoing jouissance. Then Benjamin’s God or Messiah is a figure of pere-jouissance.

Coming back to the name of the Caesar: the modern sovereign, from Tsar, Kaiser, Sultan to Shah, sees in this name the legitimating for his State/Law; but Caesar himself was not a sovereign but a mere Republic General. This is like Freud’s Fort/Da game: the boy gives presence to his mother by naming her, but the name erases her presence. Caesar could be a name for modern despots only when he would not be a sovereign. It shows that father insofar as be dead could rules in his name, and insofar as he is so powerful in his name he have no access to jouissance. Benjamin’s politics would be true revolutionary if it traverses its fantasy. Now the problem is “are then African-Arab revolutions jouissance-revolutions?”

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