......• The Future of Another Illusion
........ Theory and Zizek's Organs Without Bodies: on Deleuze and Consequences

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A Review-Turned-Encounter

A specter is haunting the academy - the specter of psychoanalysis? In Slavoj Zizek's The Ticklish Subject, the pastiche of Marx and Engels' 1848 provocation takes an equivalent form. He writes, "A spectre is haunting Western academia, the spectre of the Cartesian subject" (1). This pronouncement should not be mistaken for a feint, postmodern attempt at ironic detachment, however settling that might be. Rather, the growing corpus attached with the grammatical subject "Zizek," embodies a seismic shift in our reading practices, and, as "I as an other" will argue in this piece, offers a prescription for corrective lenses in the Deleuzian lines of flight defining our academic practices.

It took me two weeks and several drafts of this review to comprehend the mere 213 pages comprising Zizek's latest work, Organs Without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences. The first time I read a sentence, a paragraph, a page, I was stumped by befuddlement. Then I reread the passage closer and became vehemently defensive. When I reread even closer, I was struck by absolute terror.

As a mid-West American student in training to become a professor and emerge in the professional field of academia, reading Organs materialized both the "diabolical atmosphere" Lacan associated with one's possible orientation to Freud's discovery, and what, according to Lacan, "clinicians refer to as the twilight of the world, an upheaval in the subject... necessitating new signifying effects in response" (162, 203). What follows is the response of one student's reorientation to the academy, a "re-view" of intellectual subjectivity brought forth by Organs. Its failures will come at points when "review" adopts its capitalistic connotations.

I. Deleuze and Deleuze's Other

Three theoretical methodologies hold currency (a point to be taken quite literally) in the current structure of disciplines in the Western academy. These privileged methods, especially apparent in English departments, include - radical historicism, poststructuralism, and the New Left's Deleuzoguattarism. Let us take the latter's theoretical arsenal and apply it to show how these methodologies arrived on the academic scene. In Deleuzoguattarese, the aborescent-root-system model of the academy first branches into colleges - arts & sciences being one major offshoot, medicine, law, basketball, etc. others. Disciplines like English sprout from these branches. Rhizomorphous practices result from further splitting within the discipline, deconstruction blossoming into the derivative poststructuralist queer and postcolonial theories, as a pertinent example. Thus,

There exist tree or root structures in rhizomes; conversely, a tree branch or root division may begin to burgeon into a rhizome. The coordinates are determined not by theoretical analyses implying universals but by a pragmatics composing multiplicities or aggregates of intensities. A new rhizome may form in the heart of a tree, the hollow of a root, the crook of a branch. (Deleuze and Guattari 15)

This highly productive model allows for a tremendous amount of structural metamorphoses and evolutions, such as the appearance of a new field in an interdisciplinary crossing (sociobiology, for instance) or the application of a methodology in one discipline to take root in another discipline to form a new rhizomatic theoretical approach (radical historicism in English departments for example). Deleuze and Guattari emphasize that this process, applied here to the academy as a model, is determined not from a universal root system, "but by a pragmatics composing multiplicities or aggregates of intensities". Marxism, once restricted to political science studies, becomes a subject of interest in history departments when the Berlin Wall falls and liberal-democratic capitalism becomes the primary economic model for the New World Order. This system, which seems immanently mutable, has now cross-pollinated Marxism with Deleuzoguattarism to pragmatically respond to the phenomenon of globalization ("the New Left movement").

The work of Foucault, "Deleuze's Other," also serves as a good example of this model (Organs 184). Foucault may be more popular than ever in the academy, a veritable rhizome springing from all parts of the aborescent institution. His work begins queer theory courses in English departments, crosses into other departments (i.e. social sciences making "meta-turns" in their discourses), and caps Marxist and sociology of knowledge philosophy syllabi. Finishing a course with a Foucaultian text, however, may be symptomatic of our intellectual cynicism, a point we will touch on more later. In essence, Foucault first has the effect of "trumping" the arguments of the previous thinkers on the syllabus, or to put it differently, he more adequately historicizes/contextualizes the assumptions underpinning their arguments. [1] Then, the horror of our utter helplessness sets in. We are the biopower of the State, especially when we sit in philosophy classrooms of the academic Ideological State Apparatus. [2] Knowledge and power are caught in a nightmarish Moebius strip that relegates everything to a figurative and literal prison house. However terrifying this scenario might make us feel, Foucaultian arguments read fairly accurate in the current symbolic order, especially when applied to the globalized situation. Are not some of these derivative branches of knowledge sprouting up in the academy problematic? Are there not disturbing trends in our academy that reflect unilateral shifts in United States foreign policy?

The epistemological organization of today's academy, to merge Deleuze and Guattari with Foucault, shows an increasingly greater divide between royal and State sciences and nomad and minor ones. This binary between the centered power structure and itinerant and ambulant practices runs throughout Deleuze and Guattari's work. They apply it to make distinctions in all sorts of fields like philosophy, literature, and music. It also recalls the privilege in postmodern philosophy of micro over macro politics. We could read this great divide as an attempt to theorize the counter-culture from the dominant culture, a la Adorno. Doing so, however, promotes the version of Deleuze that Zizek rejects: "This duality is ultimately overdetermined as 'the Good versus the Bad': the aim of Deleuze is to liberate the immanent force of Becoming from its self-enslavement to the order of Being" (28). One either takes part in rhizomatic sciences and arts of Becoming or one becomes a lackey of the State system. Remain a student for life or sell out at some point along the way by Being a teacher.

The rhizomatic, purely descriptive model we applied to the academy cannot account for agency in its development. The model is simply productive and mechanistic, structured metaphorically from evolutionary biology. But, as Zizek writes about the "becoming-X" mode of Deleuze and Guattari's thought, "there are no 'mataphorics' here" (184). In this mode of Deleuze and Guattari's thought, these disciplinary vines literally grow on their own despite us. Deleuze and Guattari sense the missing subjective element, and they attempt to compensate by suddenly inserting their own subjectivities to prescribe changes to their descriptive model. They write:

We're tired of trees. We should stop believing in trees, roots, radicals. They've made us suffer too much. All of aborescent culture is founded on them, from biology to linguistics. Nothing is beautiful or loving or political aside from underground stems and aerial roots, adventitious growths and rhizomes. (15)

Deleuze and Guattari can only express a desire to get outside their aborescent, machinic model to achieve the space for philosophy - aesthetics (beautiful), ethics (loving), and politics (political). Their desire to sweep the slate clean is vastly symptomatic of ahistorical "space-clearing" announcements of postmodern philosophy, like Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition. Historically speaking, these treatises read as last gasps for air in the suffocating squeeze of an immanently spreading capitalism, desperate cries to will something oppositional into existence. One cannot, however, promote expansive growth while theoretically chopping at the trunk to fell the institutional tree, just as one cannot change the world through shopping, as Naomi Klein has rightfully pointed out.

One reason why Deleuzoguattarian writing is so difficult to read is because it shifts out of the overdetermined Becoming versus Being mode at abrupt times to signal levels of more complexity. For instance, in "Treatise on Nomadology - The War Machine," they write "...if the State always finds it necessary to repress the nomad and minor sciences...it does so not because the content of these sciences is inexact or imperfect... but because they imply a division of labor opposed to the norms of the State" (368). The introduction of labor and the implication that people do the work of science complicates the argument. It introduces agency into the equation, but this variable cannot be worked out in their model. [3]

We find ourselves in a theoretical deadlock with our preeminent postmodern theorists. Deleuze and Guattari and Foucault can effectively describe our current condition in the academy; their models can even anticipate structural changes that show how their own work enters its classrooms. However, they offer us little in the way of prescribing change due to the fact that subjectivity remains a theoretical blind spot in their thinking.

Without reference, Zizek deploys this Deleuzoguattarian model in his introduction to Organs to discuss how "other disciplines take over (at least part of) the "normal" role of philosophy" (x). He then cites historical examples of how this process occurs. Especially pertinent is the citation of the current condition in United States' universities where "most of 'Continental Philosophy' takes place in Departments of Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies, English, French, and German" in order to compensate for the scientific turn in philosophy departments (x). Zizek's discussion differentiates itself from the Deleuzoguattarian model by questioning the "normal role" of philosophy. Since his historical evidence implies no apparent pattern, he asks, "What if, then, there is no "normal role"? What if it is exceptions themselves that retroactively create the illusion of the "norm" they allegedly violate?" (x). Such questions imply an historical, structural, and open model - "What if the 'proper' space for philosophy is these very gaps and interstices opened up by 'pathological' displacements in the social edifice?" (x). Thus, Zizek posits the space of philosophy as somehow "outside" the disciplinary social edifice, yet taking form immanently and materially within particular historical constellations.

Furthermore, Zizek believes our current theoretical lines of flight are symptomatic of late capitalism; Deleuze's rhizomatic model, at one time perhaps subversive or at least a manifesto for "hippy" life, now acutely describes the work of "yuppies" living in and discovering new spaces for capital. He writes, "There are, effectively, features that justify calling Deleuze the ideologist of late capitalism" (183-84). Take Plateau 7 "Year Zero: Faciality," for example. Deleuze and Guattari poetically prescribe: "Become clandestine, make rhizome everywhere, for the wonder of a nonhuman life to be created" (191, italics mine). One could claim they are telling us to give up wholly our symbolic privileges, see the world immanently, and search out the limits of the Real. Or, if we place a different inflection on the words: "Become clandestine, make rhizome everywhere, for the wonder of a nonhuman life to be created" (my italics); does this not become the motto of capitalist cartelists? Become the hidden underside of the symbolic law, organize your operations transnationally, and profit off the people who become empty husks of their former selves in addiction (veritably nonhuman or simply dead). Such quotes epitomize the ambivalence in Deleuze's collaborative efforts with Guattari.

What if postmodern philosophy did not fill the "proper" space for philosophy, but opened a space for capitalism to advance by failing to articulate the "ultimate horizon of meaning...to open up a radical gap in the very edifice of the universe, the 'ontological difference,' the gap between the empirical and the transcendental, in which neither of the two levels can be reduced to the other..." (Zizek x-xi)? What if the texts which fail to reach these ontological limits sustain disciplinary practices as ideological contributors to the social edifice, what Lacan refers to as the symbolic order?

These questions underpin Organs and drive Zizek's work, in general, pleading with us to interrogate the limitations of our academic work. As Lacan said in an equivalent context, we "toil at the oars when (our) ship is stuck in the sand". How did we become such beached sailors cursing up a storm?

II. Marxist Trajectory - The Uses and Abuses of Theory

My rebuttal to acquaintances who challenged my "faith" in theory was to claim that we always-already operate under the guise, if you will, of a theory. In this sense, Steven Knapp and Walter Benn-Michaels' conception of "theory" in their position "against theory" is absolutely mistaken, as adequately refuted by Frederic Jameson among others. But what do we make of (what strikes one as) Jameson's excessive initial nod to Michael's "interpretive brilliance and intellectual energy" in his The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism and to the "provocative and controversial theoretical text...'Against Theory'" ("Postmodernism" 181)? Jameson's provocation stems from Michaels' notion of "theory" exemplifying how in the "philosophical discovery process...with the proper combination of alertness and receptivity, problems may be expected to pose themselves in ways that allow us to make a detour around the reifications of current theoretical discourse" (182). [4] We should take note here that Jameson associates the work of theory with the work of philosophy, but then qualifies this association by claiming that current theoretical practice disassociates the philosophical process from the role of philosophy to challenge the "reifications of current theoretical discourse". Jameson, therefore, finds in this usage of "theory" a moment to take "the temperature of contemporary (or post-contemporary) criticism and theory" in order to discover this break (181). His concerns bring us to Terry Eagleton's proper usage of theory in his After Theory. [5]

The difference between the ahistorical term "against" and the historically-driven term "after" is telling in itself. [6] Here we come to the heart of the matter, the confusion of our conception of what theory is/does. What we used to know as philosophy transformed into the concept-label-emblem of "Critical Theory," a neologism established by the Frankfurt School to indicate a coming-to-political-consciousness for philosophical thought, a reawakening of the idea that philosophy is always-already political and should consciously admit this to itself in its practice; otherwise, it runs the risk of "unconsciously" subscribing to the worst kinds political applications, i.e. the fascism that haunts the work/legacy of Heidegger (the target of Adorno's scathing The Jargon of Authenticity) [7] and Paul de Man (who appropriately serves as the other mercurous figure in Jameson's "examination" of theory). The multiple reference points I attach to Critical Theory (concept-label-emblem) intend to account for the degree of critical distance an "aborescent branch" of thought is from the system of capitalism (one is tempted to add "logo" to the end of this chain of signifiers: Che Guevara shirts and other "revolutionary" merchandise comes to mind). For brevity's sake we, the academy, shortened Critical Theory to "theory". The advent of this shorthand should not go critically unnoticed. The move from Critical Theory to "just theory" historically coincides with the academization of its critical practice. In many ways, it signifies the hollowing out of a concept to a mere emblem of itself.

Zizek's Organs undermines our liberal-academic endeavors, our most radical "high" theories, as endorsements for the late capitalist system. The paradox of resistance turned promotion can only strike us as a Marxian nightmare come true. It is as if we attempted to go beyond Marx to trump capitalism, only to realize that capitalism had "turned the corner" and beat us to the finish line; it had evolved into a monster our best theoretical weapons were impotent against. Zizek suggests we need to move on once again:

As Lacan pointed out apropos his deployment of the structural homology between surplus-value and surplus jouissance, what if the surplus-value does not simply "hijack" a preexisting relational field of affects - what if what appears an obstacle is effectively a positive condition of possibility, the element that triggers and propels the explosion of affective productivity? What if, consequently, one should precisely "throw out the baby with the dirty bath water" and renounce the very notion of erratic affective productivity as the libidinal support of revolutionary activity? (185)

The "erratic affective productivity" Zizek cites here is exactly the kind prescribed by Foucault in The History of Sexuality Vol. I: "The rallying point for the counterattack against the deployment of sexuality ought not to be sex-desire, but bodies and pleasures" (157); and the Deleuzian logic, especially evident in Anti-Oedipus, "...in which we are no longer dealing with persons interacting but just with the multiplicity of intensities, of places of jouissance, plus bodies as a collective/impersonal desiring machine..." (Zizek 184). Zizek rejects an external notion of the capitalistic system as an agent that somehow co-opts a field of affects. Rather, he believes we should consider what appear as obstacles to its growth as internal elements that can set off its productivity. As he writes, "In short, and stated even more pointedly, the thought of Foucault, Deleuze, and Guattari, the ultimate philosophers of resistance, of marginal positions crushed by the hegemonic power network, is effectively the ideology of the newly emerging ruling class" (193). A homogenous criticism of the affective "obstacles" of Deleuze & Guattari, and Co. appeared from the Marxist front twenty-three years ago by Jameson himself: [8]

[Poststructuralist] philosophical texts, with their attacks on humanism (Althusser), their celebration of the "end of Man" (Foucault), their ideals of dissémination or dérive (Derrida, Lyotard), their valorization of schizophrenic writing and schizophrenic experience (Deleuze), may in the present context be taken as symptoms of or testimony to a modification of the experience of the subject in consumer or late monopoly capitalism: an experience which is evidently able to accommodate a far greater sense of psychic dispersal, fragmentation, drops in "niveau," fantasy and projective dimensions, hallucinogenic sensations, and temporal discontinuities than the Victorians, say, were willing to acknowledge. (The PoliticalUnconscious 124-25)

The Jameson of this period agrees with the "descriptive value of the poststructuralist critique of the 'subject' without necessarily endorsing the schizophrenic ideal it has tended to project" (125). Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have recently taken up this line of critique of postmodernist and postcolonialist theoretical practices that promote a politics of difference that is "not only ineffective against but can even coincide with and support the functions and practices of imperial rule" (142). They title the chapter from Empire that reiterates the Marxist position against the political efficacy of these theories, "Symptoms of Passage". The word "symptoms" can only be read metaphorically in their strictly historical critique of the transformations of the powers and workings of sovereignty. However, symptoms could also be read literally, echoing Jameson's description of the "experience of the subject in consumer or late monopoly capitalism". In this way, Hardt and Negri's Marxism reiterates Jameson's position, but, like the theories they claim are symptomatic of late capitalism, Hardt and Negri's, too, "...still wag[es] battle against the shadows of old enemies: the Enlightenment, or really modern forms of sovereignty and its binary reduction of difference and multiplicity to a single alternative between Same and Other" (Hardt and Negri 142). To avoid this irony, we should return to Jameson's position because it prophetically announces Zizek's psychoanalytic contribution to an immanent, materialist, and dialectical Marxism. Jameson writes:

Only a new and original form of collective social life can overcome the isolation and monadic autonomy of the older bourgeois subjects in such a way that individual consciousness can be lived - and not merely theorized - as an 'effect of structure' (Lacan). (125)

The reference to Lacan is crucial. If we are looking for a connection between Jameson, the preeminent Marxist intellectual of late capitalism, and Zizek, the preeminent psychoanalytic intellectual of late capitalism, here it is.

In essence, theory's descriptions have aided our understanding of the late capitalist situation we find ourselves in; in this sense, they have truly been post-Marxist, if we mean by "post," that wildly ambiguous prefix, that they have carried on the work of adeptly describing the latest revolution in "an order whose very principle is constant self-revolutionizing," as Zizek characterizes capitalism (213). However, theory's prescriptions, their glances into the future and projections for what we should do once we get there, have come back to haunt us in the present.

I believe this dialectical process of descriptions and prescriptions exists at the heart of the Marx/Freud synthesis once dismissed by Foucault as the dream of seeing "Marx and Freud in the same incandescent light" ("Introduction" xii). A paradoxically ANTI-ambivalent sentiment by Jameson strikes the chord Zizek is now turning into a symphonic resurgence of philosophy: "We are somehow to lift our minds to a point at which it is possible to understand that capitalism is at one and the same time the best thing that has ever happened to the human race, and the worst" ("Postmodernism" 47).

In order to "lift our minds" we must come to the realization that if we are always-already operating under the guise of a theory, this theory, no matter how radical it seems in the contemporary academy, works within the logic of late capitalism. It is a Lacanian sinthome, at once haunting today's intellectuals yet sustaining their subjectivities in the "meme" of our current symbolic order. We must traverse the theories sustaining our current academic work or we risk our culpability in propagating the capitalist system of exploitation.

III. Psychoanalytic Trajectory - Traversing the Theory Sinthome

When we happen upon a new idea that really "floors us," we say that the world we have constructed "collapses from under our feet" or the "walls come crashing down upon us". In psychoanalytic theory, these colloquial phrases move beyond the realm of cliché to signify something "vital" about what sustains our subjectivities.

In The Sublime Object of Ideology, Zizek explains that the sinthome conceptually accounts for patients who have interpreted their symptom and "gone through their fantasy," but their "key symptom still persists" (74). The persistence of this symptom represents "the only positive support of our being, the only point that gives consistency to the subject" (75). We identify with the sinthome in the final stage of the psychoanalytic process in order to "'avoid madness,' the way we 'choose something (the symptom-formation) instead of nothing (radical psychotic autism, the destruction of the symbolic universe)' [9] through the binding of our jouissance to a certain signifying formation which assures a minimum of consistence to our being-in-the-world" (75). The symptom as sinthome takes the form of "a signifier as a bearer of jouis-sense, jouissance-in-sense" (75).

Academics, particularly intellectuals, represent a large population of patients who have interpreted their symptom (although they might not put their intellectual development in such terms). Intellectuals are not free from psychoanalytic processes; although better than most about reflecting on (their) subjectivity, intellectuals, like everyone else, find themselves bonded to a fantasy structure in order to maintain a semblance of consistency and meaning. Intellectuals' jouissancecomes from how sinthomes make sense of their world, even if this "making sense" wildly exceeds the ideological jouissance enjoyed by the masses. In Organs, Zizek further defines sinthome as "a figment of obscene jouissance spreading like a virus, really at the same level as, say an intellectually stimulating theoretical insight that haunts us" (143). Echoing Sublime, Zizek qualifies that "such intrusive sinthomes provide the zero-level, the elementary matrix, of memes" (143). The scientifically-connoted term 'memes' is correlative of "the symbolic tradition," or simply the Symbolic as long as we consider it an historically contingent constellation open to radical change. Memes are therefore, "...a secondary attempt to reintroduce a kind of stability and order, to reestablish the proper subordination of the particular to the universal, that was disturbed by the emergence of subjectivity..." (122). For us academics, memes result from fully digesting the coherent vision of a theoretical text as in, "I was at once floored by the conceptual rigor of a theorist's work and came to adopt its encompassing vision". Sinthome is the concept for that indescribable intrusion that launched our initial excitement, but almost simultaneously began haunting us in the form of unconscious thoughts like "So and so's theory is pretty damned good, but something is missing that I must figure out". Something eluded the explanatory power of the theory. We begin traversing the sinthome when the nagging feeling about a meme's inadequacy finally propels us to search further.

In today's academy sinthomes take the form of theorists' names - Foucault/Said for radical historicists, [10] Derrida for poststructuralists, Deleuze/Marx for the New Left. These names become the signifier that bears jouis-sense to the intellectual, a radical theory that explains the world so fully a thinker makes it foundational or fundamental. As academics, we become followers in the sense that we adopt the title of the name-turned-adjective by the addition of a suffix, i.e. "I am a Foucaultian, her work is Derridean, or he is Deleuzian". The becoming-sinthome of a philosopher's name should not be mistaken with Deleuze and Guattari's conception of the philosopher's name. They write, philosophers' "proper names coexist and shine as luminous points that take us through the components of a concept once more or as the cardinal points of a stratum or layer that continually come back to us, like dead stars whose light is brighter than ever" ("What" 59). In this sense, philosopher's names exist in the conceptual field of philosophy, at large, and not in the predicate position of a nominative or possessive case that describes one's allegiance to a theory. We move from the sinthome of a theorist or a theory to the practice of philosophy when we recognize concepts and use them to develop philosophical arguments instead of referring to a theorist and/or theory as a static, position-holder that designates a Weltanshauung.

A fine line exists between an ideology and the conception of a theory/theoretician as a sinthome, as a kernel of jouissance that structures the fantasy sustaining an intellectual as an X-ean. As Zizek writes, "from this perspective of sinthome, truth and jouissance are radically incompatible: the dimension of truth is opened through our misrecognition of the traumatic Thing, embodying the impossible jouissance" ( 79). Through the lenses of the intellectual memes currently popular in today's academy, we can not access "the dimension of truth" because no conception of a "subjectivity that can misrecognize" is allowed to even exist. Ironically, for Zizek, the "un-theorized" space of contemporary theory is "the emergence of subjectivity" that memes attempt to stabilize and order. Organs asks us to seriously consider that besides their fashionableness, the current theories holding currency in the academy closely resemble one another in the fact that each lacks an adequate conception of the "subject". Organs posits psychoanalysis as the only theory that can adequately account for the subject. Psychoanalysis, not poststructuralism, culminates the history of philosophy's bipartite rejection of teleology and "theories of everything". From the perspective of our current theoretical situation, psychoanalysis represents a "return" to philosophy and ontology, and this return is necessary for comprehending how our jouissance, derived from subject-less sinthomes, is perfectly aligned to the self-revolutionizing order of late capitalism.

Recall section seven of Freud's The Future of an Illusion, where he posits the idea that "other cultural assets...[by] which we let our lives be ruled" share the same psychoanalytic space as the illusion of religion (706). Here Freud speculates that our symbolic order (he mentions politics, erotics, and science in particular) is an illusion that allows us to construct a Weltanschauung. Freud admits to not having the means at his disposal for undertaking "so comprehensive a task," of analyzing these other "cultural assets" (706). Zizek takes on this task in Sublime with his interrogation of the "quilting points" of political ideologies; my intention above was to conceive of theory as another one of these cultural assets (for the intelligentsia) we can now analyze with the psychoanalytic/politicophilosophical means at our disposal Freud could only dream of. A turn to philosophy enables us to interrogate theory's fundamental assumptions and late capitalist tendencies. [11] Zizek's Organs embarks on an argument that, one could claim, actually conflates philosophy into psychoanalysis. In other words, the only place for philosophy not to take on the role of a late capitalist sinthome lies in its "proto-psychoanalytic" capacities. So, Zizek's latest book, self-described as "an attempt to trace the contours of an encounter between two incompatible fields," confronts Deleuze, the last great philosopher proper, our latest "high" point in Western philosophy (xi). The challenge: expose how psychoanalysis permeates Deleuze's thought, how perhaps there are two Deleuzes; one whose work retrogrades by "unconsciously" promoting the proliferation of a sinthome (the Deleuze perfectly aligned with "digital capitalism"), the other who fuses the work ("the fundamental gesture") of philosophy with the work of psychoanalysis. In this spirit, Zizek can admit the paradox "that what we are reproaching Deleuze with is that, in missing the Hegelian point, he is not Deleuzian enough: the drift of his monism into dualism bears witness to the fact that his process of Becoming is itself secretly anchored in a unified Subject" (72). The barred subject of psychoanalysis, like the existential subject, partakes in a process of becoming. However, the workings of the unconscious disallow the metaphysics of choice implied in the Deleuzian model of a unified subject deciding whether to become or be.

The stakes strike us as absurdly high. Radical historicism, poststructuralism and its branches of cultural studies, and new left Deleuzoguattarism become, at once, mere derivations from the split of the work of philosophy "proper" from the moment of psychoanalysis and structuralism. In psychoanalytic terms, the fundamental fantasy that regulates the universe of our "(self)experience" as intellectuals has been shattered. Since our Weltanschauung depends on the inaccessibility of this fundamental fantasy, access to it obliterates our academic identity. Zizek writes:

The Freudian "subject of the Unconscious" emerges only when a key aspect of the subject's phenomenal (self)experience (his "fundamental fantasy") becomes inaccessible to him (i.e., is "primordially repressed"). At its most radical, the Unconscious is the inaccessible phenomenon, not the objective mechanism that regulates my phenomenal experience. So, in contrast to the commonplace that we are dealing with a subject the moment an entity displays signs of "inner life" (i.e., of a fantasmatic self-experience that cannot be reduced to external behavior), one should claim that what characterizes human subjectivity proper is, rather, the gap that separates the two, namely, the fact that fantasy, at its most elementary, becomes inaccessible to the subject. It is this inaccessibility that makes the subject "empty." (96)

For many intellectuals working in the academy, "the Unconscious at its most radical as the inaccessible phenomenon" is precisely the absence of the concept of the Unconscious from their theories. [12] This formulation represents the tautological curse of contemporary theory. Contemporary strains of theory holding cultural capital lack an adequate conception of the subject. Advocates of these theories, consequently, cannot adequately account for themselves in their own theories (the irony of it all!). As a result, these academic intellectuals require their theory to act as the fantasy that sustains their subjectivity and regulates their universe. Unfortunately, this universe happens to be the endlessly exploitive one of late capitalism.

Contrary to common belief, Zizek does not swallow everything Lacan says whole. In order to understand that philosophy should be distinguished from theory because it questions these fundamental fantasies and traverses sinthomes in conceptualizing an ontology, Zizek makes it clear at the beginning of Organs that he rejects Lacan's "anti-philosophy," his endless variation on:

the motif of how philosophy tries to 'fill in the holes,' to prevent a totalizing view of the universe, to cover up all the gaps, ruptures, and inconsistencies (say, in the total self-transparency of self-consciousness) - and how, against philosophy, psychoanalysis asserts the constitutive gap/rupture/inconsistency, and so on and so forth - he simply misses the point... (x-xi)

Lacan repeats the mistake of his mentor, the Freud of Civilization and Its Discontents who talked of the "artifices of philosophy." [13] The point missed is that philosophy, like psychoanalysis, provides the only way for us to theoretically argue on the tripartite ground of our limits - epistemology, ethics, and ontology - or, as Zizek (with the acknowledged help of Adrian Johnston on the "philosophical aspects of the book") refers to these limit-experiences in regards to the structure of his book - "the good old triad of the True, the Beautiful, and the Good" (xi). Because capitalism depends on us not to trace our practices to their metaphysical ends, philosophy may be our most radical possibility to undermine the academic disciplinary splittings that sustain our intellectual complicity with its self-revolutionizing order. In sum, Organs reaffirms the work of philosophical practices relegated to an apolitical status.

Interestingly (because it contradicts his own belief in the role of philosophy), Freud, the founder of "Unconscious reflection" and "meta-psychology," acknowledged how philosophy shaped his ideas. In Future, Freud humbly admits:

Besides, I have said nothing which other and better men have not said before me in a much more complete, forcible and impressive manner. Their names are well known, and I shall not cite them, for I should not like to give an impression that I am seeking to rank myself as one of them. All I have done - and this is the only thing that is new in my exposition - is to add some psychological foundation to the criticisms of my great predecessors. It is hardly to be expected that precisely this addition will produce the effect which was denied to those earlier efforts. (707)

IV. Academic Defense Mechanisms

Men cannot remain children forever; they must in the end go out into 'hostile life.' We may call this 'education to reality.' Need I confess to you that the sole purpose of my book is to point out the necessity for this forward step.
-Freud, The Future of an Illusion

As composition teachers the above quote reads as a call for critical thinking. As second wave feminists, the word "men" sticks out like a sore thumb as indicative of Freud's complicity with and promotion of a patriarchal system of exclusionary education. As historicists, we register Freud's "education to reality" as part of the Enlightenment's rejection of religion and allegiance to scientific knowledge. Our new leftist tendencies may even lead us to note a parallel between this passage and the traditional Marxist thesis that the superstructure of culture obfuscates the infrastructure of its base economic machinery. These types of interpretations echo down the halls of today's academy, and not just as pedagogical means. For many, these perspectives are ends - our final word on Freud. [14]

The sad fact of the matter is that we read Freud how we want to read Freud; we deconstruct him despite his anticipation of us, despite the temporally-linear paradox of his "post-proto-deconstruction". More often than not, our incorporation of Freud means his work fits our liberal agendas or its interest lies strictly in its relationship to the history of criticism.

This is not to say we should hang on to Freud's every word either. Doing so risks overlooking the philosophical frame of his work; certain Derrideans and feminists [15] have misread Freud by collapsing the distinction between concepts and words. Relegating concepts to the level of words and elevating words to the epicenter of one's critique limits the philosophical endeavor. As Lacan said almost fifty years ago, "...it is out of the question to go beyond Freud when psychoanalysis after Freud has...returned to a pre-Freudian stage" (211). In our attempts to go beyond Freud, capitalism has further regressed the entire world into a pre-Freudian stage.

At this point, we would benefit by distinguishing two modes of Zizekian analysis, both immanently connected to a "'stable' ethical position, that more and more appears today as an exception" (213). Symbolically-oriented analysis emphasizes politics, like his most recent, Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle, a sequel to his ruminations on the significance of September 11, Welcome to the Desert of the Real. Bodies Without Organs, like The Ticklish Subject, promotes Real-oriented analysis that challenges contemporary theory by philosophically tracing its various methodologies through to their metaphysical ends. Simplifying to a fault, if these ends do not encounter the barred subject of Lacanian psychoanalysis, they, more or less, become complicit with the self-revolutionary logic of late capitalism. As Lacan writes:

The motor force of analytic experience...cannot simply be this mirage-like truth that can be reduced to the mirage of truth. It all began with a particular truth, an unveiling, the effect of which is that reality is no longer the same for us as it was before. This is what continues to attach the crazy cacophony of theory to the very heart of worldly things, and to prevent practice from degenerating to the level of the wretched who never manage to leave them behind... (113, my italics).

What we are calling Real-oriented analysis targets this "crazy cacophony of theory" in order to make sure it does not venture away from the immanent, material world in its analysis. If the premises of intellectuals' arguments do not match on some "stable" level of analysis (even if that level is the radically unstable Lacanian subject), Imaginary-oriented practices continue turning the world into a wasteland. [16] In essence, Real-oriented analysis collapses the all-too-hastily made distinction between philosophical versus political texts. One could claim that the whole point of Organs is to disable any fundamental distinction sustaining the split between philosophy and politics, or to put it differently, between our current theoretical methodologies and the practices they promote. Recall Wittgenstein, [17] recounting his philosophical eureka-moment to Norman Malcolm:

I then thought: what is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., & if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life, if it does not make you more conscientious than any . . . journalist in the use of the DANGEROUS phrases such people use for their own ends.

Conversely, we should ask what good is it to study politics if it does not improve one's thinking about the important questions "fundamental" to everyday life, if it does not make one more conscientious of the dangerous phrases such people use unconsciously? Philosophy and politics are inextricably linked.

Yet, philosophy and politics constantly risk becoming disassociated in the academy. In Organs, Zizek explains how intellectualism gets "caught up in the academy" through the fetishistic splits performed by academics. A prevailing assumption in the academy across disciplines (from literature studies in the humanities to anthropology in the social sciences to quantum physics in the hard sciences) espouses the "necessary" split between one's "theoretical" academic work and one's life, between one's theory and one's practice. Instead of somehow unleashing our intellectualism, the split produces a spatial gap and a temporal lag that affords capitalism the space-time to further self-revolutionize. Zizek writes:

Many Western academics cling to some humanitarian ritual (helping to educate poor children, etc.) as the proof that, at the core of their being, they are not just cynical career-oriented individuals but human beings naively and sincerely trying to help others. However, again, what if this humanitarian activity is a fetish, a false distance that allows them to pursue their power struggles and ambitions with the clear conscience that they are not really "that," that their heart is "elsewhere"? In other words, when a cynical Western academic refers to his or her humanitarian activity taking place elsewhere, one should simply retort that this "elsewhere" is of absolutely no significance to what goes on here: his or her activity is in no way "redeemed" by this elsewhere, in the same way that, commendable as it is in itself, Bill Gates' charitable activity of gigantic proportions in no way redeems his economic pursuits. (178-79)

Such observations trigger immediate reactions from liberal academics. It strikes one as politically incorrect to compare the "good guys" with the "bad guys". How can composition instructors "working in the trenches" of English departments futilely attempting to engender liberal values in their freshman business majors be as culpable as Bill Gates? Zizek's point is, in part, to rile academics so they will reevaluate the logic they use to justify their actions. We should ask ourselves questions like: Where are we "necessarily" splitting ourselves? When do we feel cynical? How do we justify our actions, politically? More radically, though, we need to reexamine how we might be contributing to an interpassivity so vast it goes unnoticed in our everyday existence. As academics, might not our cynical Spaltung be the most damaging to the symbolic order; might the consequences of our actions not rival the severity of those we view as not-as-intellectual? Are we guilty of charity criticism?

These questions are inspired by Zizek's diagnosis of the American academy. Our problems are twofold. For one, we suffer conceptually:

The true corruption of the American academia is not primarily financial, it is not only that they are able to buy many European critical intellectuals (myself included - up to a point), but conceptual: notions of the "European" critical theory are imperceptibly translated into the benign universe of the Cultural Studies chic. ("Repeating Lenin" par. 5)

In The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of Its Power, Lacan writes, "There is no limit to the eroding of analytic technique through its deconceptualization" (236). In a nutshell, this statement defines the deplorable relations between Marxists and psychoanalysts in academic circles. The concepts generated by these theoretical approaches are like wild hounds circling, looping, recircling, and relooping, in order to feel each other out. They immediately take the pose of being threatened, of necessitating their territorialization. When one hound attempts to strike a truce with the other, it is mauled to pieces. The most brutal victims in these dog fights are "ideology" and "false consciousness". Other conceptual bloodbaths include "culture industry," "species-being," "practico-inert," "bio-power," "schizo-nomad," etc.

In "Globalization, Internationalism, and the Class Politics of Cynical Reason," Teresa L. Ebert not only deconceptualizes Zizek's psychoanalytic critique in Sublime, she neologizes "metacynical cynicism" to describe "his writings on cynicism (that) act to preempt and render ridiculous any critique such as mine that reads his own political writings as performances in cynicism" (406). Ebert's critique, representative of the recent return to traditional Marxism, anachronistically recapitulates the dialectical materialist position of the primacy of the class struggle in the globalized world of capital. Since Zizek's work understands the implications of Marxism in materialist ways that also allow for the existence of psychoanalytic (un)consciousness, she lumps him into a group of thinkers she labels "post-al". "By post-al" she means "a bourgeois mode of thinking that assumes a radical break in capitalism and, therefore, posits that we have entered a post-historical, post-ideological, post-class, post-work, post . . . era" (406). Of course, "post-al" critics precisely constitute the target of much of Zizek's work. Ebert seems to sense this irony but still insists that:

In the name of answering the cynical, Zizek gives us perhaps the most cynical performance of all. He seeks to rescue ideology critique from the cynical but, in a quite remarkable display of enlightened false consciousness, sinks us more deeply into cynical reason as he dissolves the ground of class struggle on which a transformative politics stands. (407)

Hence, she claims he commits "metacynical cynicism," which strikes me as a redundancy in terms. To be a cynical person one has to be aware of his or her cynicism. Ebert's argument assumes that one either subscribes to Marx verbatim or one is cynical. Her argument leaves no room for a more nuanced critique that understands the class struggle as the intangible limit of the symbolic order, as "present only in its effects, in the fact that every attempt to totalize the social field, to assign to social phenomena a definite place in the social structure, is always doomed to failure" (Sublime 164). In their insistence on a classic reading of Marx, Ebert and other materialist Marxists dismiss a powerful ally in Zizek, one who agrees with the fundamental value assumptions of "red critique". Instead of arguing over performances of cynicism or who ridicules who, self-proclaimed dialectical materialists would benefit us all by seriously considering the psychoanalytic dimension of ideology.

Much of our confusion can be abated by considering subjectivity in the concepts we deploy in our analyses. The project of psychoanalysis is to sniff and snuff out the subject - "for we are subtle and nothing will stop us from setting our bloodhounds on the scent" (Lacan 82). Setting these "bloodhounds" loose on each other's allegiances to a particular theory with no synthesis in mind for social critique can only be counterintuitive. [18]

Beyond our debased conceptualizations, our duplicitous minds plague the academy. We suffer from a fundamental spilt in our practices when we preach radical change while cynically accepting or unconsciously longing for things to remain the same:

Their excessive Politically Correct zeal when dealing with sexism, racism, Third World sweatshops, etc., is thus ultimately a defense against their own innermost identification, a kind of compulsive ritual whose hidden logic is: "Let's talk as much as possible about the necessity of a radical change to make it sure that nothing will really change!" (par. 6)

At the end of the day, when all the critical debates taking place at our conferences, in our classrooms, and inside our heads have come to rest, there is a silent voice we've repressed whispering through our dreams - akin to the simultaneous forgetfulness that accompanies flushing the toilet - reassuring us that at least we have the pseudo-utopic place of the academy; the silent voice affirming that, in the final analysis, we don't really want things to change all that much.

In the case of the academy, in an equivalent spirit to what was once referred to as the "literary guard," at its worst, the current "theory guard" represents the last remnant of the intellectual brigade protecting the fortress of elite knowledge they simultaneously wish to bestow to the world, but unconsciously desire to keep under lock for themselves. Nothing is more indicative of the "lifestyle branding" of thought and intellectualism than control of this drawbridge. Academics should not worry about identity or jockey for superstar positions. Rather, the major concern of intellectuals should echo Freud: "How can we expect people who are under the dominance of prohibitions of thought to attain the psychological ideal, the primacy of the intelligence?" (Future 716); or Deleuze and Guattari: "The fundamental problem of political philosophy is still precisely...:'Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?'" (Anti-Oedipus 29). If we as a minority struggle with our own defense mechanisms and precious egos, how are we to expect the majority of people to value intelligence and humility? Furthermore, how are we to break out of the academic cloister to connect with the larger public when we refuse to cross the borders of our own academic territorializations?

I have identified here a Marxist trajectory aligned with Zizek's work that finds current theoretical trends symptomatic of late capitalism. I have also traced a psychoanalytic trajectory that diagnoses our dependency on these theories/theorists in an attempt to traverse them as sinthomes. If we want to combat capitalism, our critique must be enacted on the most foundational level possible. Only philosophy can provide us with the conceptual tools to ask the fundamental, ontological questions concerning our being. [19] Seeking out the fundamental, philosophical connections in our intellectual work opposes the logic that identifies theoretical approaches at fundamental odds with each other, the logic of the academic marketplace. If the awesome and terrific fragmentation of the self-revolutionizing order of late capitalism manifested within our intellectual confines is not resisted, it may tear us apart even further.

We should be encouraged by the fact that radical historicism, poststructuralism, and the new left share the assumption that "more than ever, Capital is the 'concrete universal' of our historical epoch" (Organs 185). Hopefully, our differences lie strictly in methodological emphasis. I am encouraged by the crossings already in progress, such as third wave feminism's move toward Deleuze. In her introduction to Deleuze and Feminist Theory, Claire Colebrook writes:

Feminism has always been a question of what concepts do, how they work and the forces any act of thinking enables. This gives us a way of thinking feminism's relation to philosophy positively: not just as the exposure of male bias or interests within an otherwise good reason, but as the attempt to assess the force of concepts and to create new concepts. (9)

Becoming-conceptual and "rediscovering" the Freudian Unconscious will facilitate the American academy to come out of the linguistic turn. It should also foster a resurgence of a social psychoanalysis that promotes the systematic clarification of the conceptual field in a Freudo-Marxian synthesis from the one side and a Marxo-Freudian synthesis from the other. The next turn should be Lacanian, and perhaps the next century will not simply be referred to as Foucaultian, Deleuzian, or Zizkian; rather, it will be philosophical - the conceptual century.


[1] Foucault, for example, shows how the social sciences produced knowledge for the sustenance and further expansion of the State. Bruno Latour's work, in particular his Science in Action (Harvard, 1987), comes to mind as a prime example of adopting this Foucaultian critique to the realm of the hard sciences. Interestingly, Foucault never made this move in his own work. Although Organs does not address this absence in Foucault explicitly, Zizek's argument that "we refuse to believe not in a religious doctrine beyond scientific knowledge but in what scientific knowledge itself is telling us about ourselves," effectively leaves room open for admitting Foucault understood that some knowledge was irrefutable.

[2] For an argument delineating Althusser's influence on Foucault see Joseph Cronin's Foucault's Antihumanist Historiography (Edwin Mellen, 2001). Connecting Foucault to Althusser marks the first step to rereading his work through Lacan/Zizek. In other words, it is the first step to recapitulating Foucault's work with a politically active theory of the subject, a move further evidenced by Foucault's late work on the 'care of the self.' Zizek alludes to this in a parenthetical that reads, "The late Foucault sensed [that the topic of subject insists: it eludes the opposition of impersonal intensities and positive self-identical entities] when he reasserted the topic of subjectivity" (72)

[3] Further questions arise. What if the relationship of State to its labor force is mediated by access to "philosophical knowledge?" What if the content of these itinerant and ambulant practices unified in the work of philosophy, to seek out truth and knowledge?

[4] I would characterize Zizek's writing in the diametrically opposed formulation of Jameson's statement here. In the philosophical discovery process, with the proper combination of alertness and receptivity, problems may be expected to pose themselves in ways that allow us to directly encounter the reifications of current theoretical discourse.

[5] Incidentally, Zizek writes one of the blurbs for the hardback edition of this book:

A rare opportunity to enjoy the art of cultural and social diagnosis at its purest! Eagleton offers a unique combination of theoretical stringency and acerbic commonsense witticism, of critical historical reflection and the ability to ask the 'big' metaphysical questions. After Theory not only points out what will follow the decline of postmodern cultural studies, it already is a brilliant example of the theory that will lead a long life after the 'death of theory.'

1 Is not even the seemingly innocuous chronological arrangement of theorists by their birthdates in Norton's 2001 anthology of Theory and Criticism symptomatic of the actual complicity of theory with capitalism? Only three entries appear after Knapp and Benn Michael's "Against Theory;" bell hooks, Judith Butler, and Stuart Moulthrop. Could there be a more perfect sign of theory's incorporation into the late capitalist symbolic order than an anthology that ends with the postmodern theory of such cultural studies' pieces? Hasn't the inclusion of one's work in a Norton Anthology always been symptomatic of something gone awry? Norton's notorious pose as recorder and sampler of the history of literature has been received with skepticism for some time. But has the criticism been rightly placed? Isn't the row of frayed and "outdated" anthologies in a professor's office an artifact evidencing a history of barbaric ruins rather than an historical record of knowledge?

[6] Zizek claims that the "ultimate aim of the present booklet(Organs) is to enact a "Hegelian buggery of Deleuze" (48). He rhetorically asks, "What if this exceptional role of Hegel in Deleuze's thought, this refusal to take him from behind, betrays a fear of excessive proximity?" (49). The thesis is quite simple; if the history of philosophy is a progression of buggeries, as Deleuze so eloquently put it, then the major philosopher one disavows and refuses to bugger indicates the "prohibition of incest" (48). One's monstrous philosophical progeny becomes the twin of the other philosopher, i.e. "Hegel is uncannily close to Deleuze" (48). We could also read Adorno's vehement reaction against Heidegger as symptomatic of how close their fundamental concerns really were. _i_ek has connected the two thinkers more than once under the designation: "not radical enough."

[7] Zizek quotes from Jameson twice in the third section of Organs, a section that takes a closer look at the political ramifications of his developing ideas. Both citations are extensive; the first is from A Singular Modernity and the second from The Seeds of Time. This section is of utmost importance to Jamesonian scholars because it marks the convergence of the politicophilosophical trajectories of Marxism and psychoanalysis.

[8] One could claim that the goal of Deleuze and Guattari's schizoanalysis resides in subjects identifying with this "radical psychotic autism" and purporting "the destruction of the symbolic universe". Alain Badiou's book Deleuze: The Clamor of Being, overturns this conception of Deleuze. He writes, "And, contrary to the commonly accepted image (Deleuze as liberating the anarchic multiple of desires and errant drifts), contrary even to the apparent indications of his work that play on the opposition multiple/multiplicities...it is the occurrence of the One - renamed by Deleuze the One-All, that forms the supreme destination of thought and to which thought is accordingly consecrated" (11). Badiou's Deleuze "...purely and simply identifies philosophy with ontology" (20). For Zizek, who acknowledges his extensive reliance on Badiou's work (see footnote on page 20 of Organs), "the basic premise of Deleuze's ontology is precisely that corporeal causality is not complete" (27).

[9] The 'ideal' radical historicist attempts to reconstruct the structural conditions that enabled an historical event to take place. The epistemological problem confronting historicism is the teleological position of the historian. Where this telos remains the blind spot of a traditional historian, the radical historicist attempts to account for the historical-situatedness of her person in order to politicize her work. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault plays with the subtle semantic difference that makes all the ethical difference about why one should write history. He writes, "Why? Simply because I am interested in the past? No, if one means by that writing a history of the past in terms of the present. Yes, if one means writing the history of the present" (178). Jameson writes that historicity "can first and foremost be defined as a perception of the present as history; that is, as a relationship to the present which somehow defamiliarizes it and allows us that distance from immediacy which is at length characterized as a historical perspective" ("Postmodernism" 284). The current practitioners embodying this declaration have gone far beyond Foucault by widening their scope of study to the global history of the present. A world of globalized capital calls for a systemic study of its genealogical roots in the world event of colonialism.
However, the limits of radical historicism appear in the gap between its primarily descriptive methods and its limited prescriptive assumptions. History continually happens; there is no end to it. So, even if we were to adequately describe all of the events leading up to and "causing" the events of our present, how would we proceed to act tomorrow? To put it parochially, what lessons are we to learn from history, even if we realize that history is happening to us right now? Furthermore, in addition to the gap between epistemology and ethics inherent to radical historicism, how do we account for the sudden ruptures in history that await us in the future. As Zizek so succinctly puts it, "Historicist evolutionism leads to endless procrastination; the situation is always too complex; there are always more aspects to be account for; our weighing of the pros and cons is never over..." (Desert 101).
A perfect example of this predicament can be found in John Carlos Rowe's recent "Edward Said and American Studies". Rowe's argument revolves around the idea that

Said grafted Gramsci's organic intellectual with the modernist cosmopolitan in an effort to salvage an independent, often elite, metropolitan 'critical consciousness' that became increasingly untenable in light of poststructuralist critiques of the subject; postcolonial calls for collaborative, multidisciplinary scholarship and political coalitions; and cultural studies' criticisms of the aesthetic ideology and its cult of 'genius.' (39)

What is fascinating about this short piece is its waffling tone. At once Rowe eulogizes the importance of Said's theoretical contribution, offers an apologia for its shortcomings, and indicts Said himself for "exemplifying the ways in which the Enlightenment's cult of genius changed into one of celebrity in the postmodern era" (42). I certainly agree with Rowe when he writes that "we also fitted to [Said] the mask of mythic heroism in part to avoid our own responsibilities as intellectuals to carry our knowledge to a wider audience and to endure the eccentric responses such wisdom so often provokes;" such is the workings of late capitalist academia (43). However, would not a more productive reading of Said take a look at how Said obsessed over the complexities of his subjective position in Western academia? Instead of judging Said as good but not good enough as a radical historicist, we should understand the radical historicist methodology as useful but inadequate in and of itself. Otherwise, we will weigh the pros and cons of every intellectual ad infinitum.
In essence, intellectuals employing radical historicism epistemologically restrict their analysis of the historical configurations of a symbolic order. In the end, they ironically treat the symbolic order in a quasi-ahistorical way, when, if we want to better understand our ability for political action, we must consider the symbolic as nothing but a radically contingent historical configuration.

[10] As an indication of how we are at the edge of our current underpinning assumptions as academics, consider the recent titles Historicizing Theory (edited by Peter C. Herman, State University of New York Press, 2004) and The End of Everything (edited by Will Self, Icon, 2003). These "provocative" books brimming with "intellectual" energy (recall Jameson on Michaels) signify the thermometer with which we should be taking our intellectual activity's temperature.

[12] This is precisely Zizek's first refutation to Butler's criticism of his "theory." And this intellectual "Star Wars" defense "mechanism" is exactly what Zizek called Judith Butler on in his defense of psychoanalysis. Butler writes, "Thus, we might want to reconsider his (Zizek's) royal status in the realm of theory" (qtd. in Zizek 95). Zizek's reply is brilliant, and I quote it at length:

The ridicule of this statement cannot but strike the eye: here we have a critic who speaks on behalf of ("we") one of the hegemonic trends of today's academia, denouncing as racist/anti-Semitic/authoritarian, and so on, a Lacanian approach that is quite marginalized, almost completely powerless from the standpoint of the distribution of power in Anglo-Saxon academia (one can count Lacanians in the US universities on the fingers of two hands-not even one department is dominated by them - and in Germany the situation is, if anything, even worse). This, then, is the level on which things "really happen": politics in the academic Ideological State Apparatuses. The unpleasant fact is that the position of my critics is far from marginal or repressed - it is not the Antigonian voice of those who are excluded from the academic public space, who live in the shadows of this space, but the voice of those who dominate this space. To proclaim that I possess any kind of "royal status in the realm of theory" from which I should be deposed is a cruel mockery of those who effectively occupy this status. It is not I who am to be deposed; it is they who fear their own deposition. (96)

[13] Most pertinent here is Freud's The Question of a Weltanshauung, in which he writes,

Philosophy is not opposed to science, it behaves like a science and works in part by the same methods; it departs from it, however, by clinging to the illusion of being able to present a picture of the universe which is without gaps and is coherent, though one which is bound to collapse with every fresh advance in our knowledge. It goes astray in its method by over-estimating the epistemological value of our logical operations and by accepting other sources of knowledge such as intuition. (785)

Lacan, therefore, inherits his beliefs about philosophy from Freud. However, the above passage read in conjunction with the second section in Organs, "Science: Cognitivism with Freud," enables us to agree only with the starting point of this Freudian passage: "Philosophy is not opposed to science...". The departure Zizek wants us to enact comes in the full rejection of what Freud writes a short time later in this text: "But philosophy has no direct influence on the great mass of mankind; it is of interest to only a small number even of the top layer of intellectuals and is scarcely intelligible to anyone else" (785). Perhaps such a statement was descriptively true of Freud's historically-specific symbolic order. If we are to overcome the shortcomings of our own, philosophy must have a direct influence on the great mass of humankind. It can not remain an interest-a hobby-a market niche to only a small number of privileged intellectuals who guard this knowledge from being intelligible to everyone else. We must make philosophy the prescriptive symbolic "order" of our time, an idea also echoed from the scientific side of knowledge by Edward O. Wilson in his concept of "Consilience," the unity of knowledge.

[14] Does this not explain why a text like Civilization and Its Discontents is often the only Freud offered to students in American liberal arts programs (not to mention how he is treated in Psych 101!)?

[15] There are a few points in Organs where feminists may feel uneasy with their encounter with Zizek, and as the worst possible outcome, will dismiss (already have dismissed) this important book. Three moments snagged me, in particular. From least to worst - an undermining of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (9), a reference to Hegel's "notorious notion of womanhood" (208), and the declaration that "...the ultimate point of the irreconcilable difference between psychoanalysis and feminism [is] that of rape (or the masochistic fantasies sustaining it) (97). Irigaray's methodology of "romancing the philosophers" and her claim about the "irreducibility of the sexes" strikes me as a bridge to-be-crossed for feminism to encounter Zizek, and vice-versa. Self-proclaimed feminists should emphasize these two points in Organs: 1)..."in a radical revolution, people not only 'realize their old (emancipatory, etc.) dreams'; rather, they have to reinvent their very modes of dreaming" (211) & 2) Why revolution at all, if we do not think that, 'the customary order of things should never be restored' (213). If the sexes do not effectively encounter, nothing may remain to reinvent.

[16] Twenty years before The Future of an Illusion, Freud composed a short piece entitled "Obsessive Actions and Religious Practices". In this text, Freud observes similarities and analogies between obsessive neurotic symptoms and religious practices. He writes, "...one might venture to regard obsessional neurosis as a pathological counterpart of the formation of a religion, and to describe that neurosis as an individual religiosity and religion as a universal obsessional neurosis" (435). The observation connects individual neurosis with collective neurosis, enabling us, through Lacan's schematic of experience, to posit the Symbolic as a neurotic structure of signification. I would like to further posit, in light of the polls that showed moral values played a significant part in the recent presidential elections in the United States, that more work needs to be done concerning Symbolic psychosis. The obsessive actions and religious practices Freud references bring to mind traditional Christian rituals and denominations which can be interpreted as defense mechanisms to cope with the hostile effects of a secular society. More contemporary religious fundamentalism and occultism, especially the frightening combination of the Religious Right with the market forces and commodity capabilities of late capitalism in the United States, represents a move beyond obsessive neurosis to a psychotic realm of phantasmatic identification, to borrow a conceptual phrase from Judith Butler. As Lacan understatedly remarks, "the Other with a capital O can be awfully impertinent" (203).

[17] Zizek might, at first, balk at a comparison to Wittgenstein. More than once he references Wittgenstein's (in)famous "the limits of my language mean the limits of my world" (Tractatus #5.6). His contextualization of this phrase revolves around a historical reading of Wittgenstein's (dis)association with logical positivism. In this reading, Wittgenstein's statement becomes radically apolitical and also proto-deconstructive. In Lacanian terms, Wittgenstein is working with an ISR model that reifies his historically-specific symbolic order and its relation to a purely ahistorical, metaphysical realm of the Real. However, Wittgenstein must be reread through Zizek's own lens. What if the early Wittgenstein "buggered" logical positivism with his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, left philosophy to engage fully in his symbolic order, and then came back to philosophy later in life when he had a more "psychoanalytic" understanding of the workings of language. He was a contemporary of Freud from the same spatio-temporal symbolic order, fin de siècle Vienna. This reading views Wittgenstein not as the preeminent proto-deconstructionist, but as a philosophical predecessor of Lacan - an explorer of the linguistic workings of the unconscious in the symbolic order. Essentially, this is Badiou's position on Wittgenstein, "the only great thinker of [the linguistic] turn" (19). He writes, "In Wittgenstein, language is undermined by the question concerning Being - if not regarding its uses, at least regarding its finality" (20). If we read "the Unconscious back into" a passage like this one from the end of the Tractatus: "He who understands me finally recognizes as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it) ...then he sees the world rightly" (#6.54); do we not see the ladder as a metaphor for traversing fantasy?

[18] Carl Jung once recalled a conversation with Freud where the latter said, "We have to turn the theory of the unconscious into a dogma, to make it immovable". Jung replied, "Why a dogma since sooner or later truth will have to win out?" Freud answered, "We need a dam against the black tide of mud of occultism". This conversation highlights the difficulty of politicizing psychoanalytic theory. Enabling psychoanalytic discourse to enter the Symbolic in order to diagnosis the Symbolic runs several risks, one of which is, historically speaking, its cooptation by Leftist liberal discourse. The risk, especially in the mouths of those inadequately versed in the discourse, leads to one illusion embattled with another, a formula that results in more illusions than solutions. Of course, Jung's belief that the truth will rhetorically win on its own accord has been proven to be nothing but passive naivety.

[19] Hardt rightly frames the trajectory of Deleuze's "apprenticeship in philosophy" as a philosophical evolution "from ontology to ethics and politics," or "from a logic of being to an ethics and finally a politics of being" (xx, 125). Our current methodologies parcel this logic into disconnected fragments, and therefore render our efforts impotent in the face of our common enemy, "the vampires set in flight by capital" (121-22).


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