. . . . . . • Ideology III: To Read Too Many Books is Harmful •

. . . . . . . . Slavoj Zizek

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In Krzysztof Kieslowski's passage from documentary to fiction cinema, we do not simply have two species of cinema, documentary and fiction; fiction emerges out of the inherent limitation of the documentary. Kieslowski's starting point was the same as the one of all cineasts in the Socialist countries: the conspicuous gap between the drab social reality and the optimistic, bright image which pervaded the heavily censored official media. The first reaction to the fact that, in Poland, social reality was "unrepresented," as Kieslowski put it, was, of course, the move towards a more adequate representation of the real life in all its drabness and ambiguity - in short, an authentic documentary approach. Then, however, the obverse experience set in, best captured by the end of the documentary First Love (1974), in which the camera follows a young unmarried couple during the girl's pregnancy, through their wedding, and the delivery of the baby, the father is shown holding the newly born baby in his hands and crying - Kieslowski reacted to the obscenity of such unwarranted probing into the other's intimacy with the "fright of real tears." So there is a domain of fantasmatic intimacy which is marked by a "No trespass!" sign and should be approached only via fiction, if one is to avoid pornographic obscenity. This is the reason why the French Veronique in The Double Life of Veronique rejects the puppeteer: he wants to penetrate her too much, which is why, towards the film's end, after he tells her the story of her double life, she is deeply hurt and escapes to her father. [1]

The "concrete universality" is a name for this process through which fiction explodes FROM WITHIN documentary, i.e., for the way the emergence of fiction cinema resolves the inherent deadlock of the documentary cinema. (Or, in philosophy, the point is not to conceive eternity as opposed to temporality, but eternity as it emerges from within our temporal experience – or, in an even more radical way, as Schelling did it, to conceive time itself as a subspecies of eternity, as the resolution of a deadlock of eternity.) One of the mysteries of cinema history is the sudden eclipse of western in the mid-1950s; part of the answer is the fact that, at the same moment, space opera rise as a genre – so one can venture the hypothesis that space opera took the place of Western in the late 1950s. The dialectical point here is that western and space opera are not two subspecies of the genre "adventure"; one should shift the perspective and start ONLY with western. In its development, western then encounters a deadlock and, in order to survive, has to "reinvent" itself as space opera – space opera is thus structurally the sub-species of western, in the same way that, for Kieslowski, fiction nis a sub-species of documentary.

And does the same not hold for the passage from State to religious community in Hegel? They are not simply two species of the genre "large socio-ideological communities"; it is that State, in its particular forms, cannot ever resolve the deadlock inscribed into its notion (to adequately represent and totalize community), in the same way that, for Kieslowski, documentary cannot adequately render the core of social reality, so the only way to do it is to pass over to another notion, that of Church. Church is, in this sense, "more State than State itself," it actualizes the notion of State by shifting to another notion. The paradox is here the same as the one when, in ethnic cliches, one sometimes characterizes some group as "more X than X themselves": Norvegians are freedom-loving, but Islanders are "more Norvegian than Norvegians themselves"; for us, Slovenes, Scots are THE nation of misers, but we, Slovenes, are "more Scots than Scots themselves"...

In all these cases, universality is located in the enchainment/overlapping of particularities: A and B are not parts (species) of their encompassing universality; A cannot fully becoime A, actualize its notion, so, in order to do it, it passes into B, which is formally its sub-species, but a sub-species which undermines the very species to under which it is formally subsumed. Every species contains a sub-species which, precisely insofar as it effectively realizes the notion of this species, explodes its frame: space opera is "a western at the level of its notion" and, for that very reason, no longer a western. Instead of a universality subdivided into two species, we thus get a particular species which generates another species as its own sub-species, and the true ("concrete") universality is nothing but this movement in the course of which a species engenders a sub-species which negates its own species.

Elisabeth Lloyd (in her The Case of the Female Orgasm) suggests that female orgasm has no positive evolutionary function: it is not a biological adaptation with evolutionary advantages, but an "appendix" like male nipples. Male and female both have the same anatomical structure for the first two months in the embryo stage of the growth, before the differences set it – the female gets the orgasm because the male will later need it, just like the male gets nipples because the female will later need them. All the standard explanations (like the "uterine upsuck" thesis – orgasm causes contractions that "upsuck" sperm and thus aid conception) are false: while sexual pleasures and even clitoris ARE adaptive, orgasm is not. The fact that this thesis provoked a furor among feminists is in itself a proof of the decline of our intellectual standards: as if the very superfluity of the feminine orgasm does not make it all the more "spiritual" – let us not forget that, according to some evolutionists, language itself is a by-product with no clear evolutionary function.

This brings us to the general conclusion, made, among others, by Jonathan Lear, on how, far from providing the natural foundation of human lives, sexuality is the very terrain where humans detach themselves from nature: the idea of sexual perversion or of a deadly sexual passion is totally foreign to the animal universe. Here, Hegel himself commits a failure with regard to his own standards: he only deploys how, in the process of culture, the natural substance of sexuality is cultivated, sublated, mediated – we, humans, no longer just make love for procreation, we get involved in a complex process of seduction and marriage by means of which sexuality becomes an expression of the spiritual bond between a man and a woman, etc. However, what Hegel misses is how, once we are within the human condition, sexuality is not only transformed/civilized, but, much more radically, changed in its very substance: it is no longer the instinctual drive to reproduce, but a drive that gets thwarted as to its natural goal (reproduction) and thereby explodes into an infinite, properly meta-physical, passion. The becoming-cultural of sexuality is thus not the becoming-cultural of nature, but the attempt to domesticate a properly un-natural excess of the meta-physical sexual passion. THIS is the properly dialectical reversal of substance: the moment when the immediate substantial ("natural") starting point is not only acted-upon, trans-formed, mediated/cultivated, but changed in its very substance. We not only work upon and thus transform nature – in a gesture of retroactive reversal, nature itself radically changes its "nature." (In a homologous way, once we enter the domain of legal civil society, the previous tribal order of honor and revenge is deprived of its nobility and all of a sudden appears as common criminality.) This is why the Catholics who insist that only sex for procreation is human, while coupling for lust is animal, totally miss the point, and end up celebrating the animality of men.

The even more general conclusion concerns the status of universality: a universality arises "for itself" only at the site of (through) a thwarted particularity. Within a social edifice, a universal claim can only be made by a group that is prevented from realizing its particular identity – women thwarted in their effort to realize their feminine identity, ethnic group prevented from asserting their identity, etc. This is why, for Freud, "everything has sexual connotation," why sexuality can infect everything with its meaning: not because it is "the strongest" component of human lives, exerting hegemony over other components, but because it is the one most radically thwarted in its actualization, marked by "symbolic castration" on account on which, as Lacan put it, there is no sexual relationship.

Every universality that arises, that is posited "as such," bears witness to a scar in some particularity, it remains forever linked to this scar.

Prosopopeia, "a figure of speech in which an absent or imaginary person is represented as speaking or acting." The attribution of speech to an entity that is commonly perceived as unable to speak (nature, commodity, truth itself…), is for Lacan the condition of speech as such, not only its secondary complication. Does Lacan’s distinction between the "subject of the enunciation" and the "subject of the enunciated" not point in this direction? When I speak, it is never directly "myself" who speaks – I HAVE to have recourse to a fiction which is my symbolic identity. In this sense, ALL speech is "indirect": "I love you" implies the structure of "my identity as lover is telling you that it loves you..."

There are two correlative traps to be avoided here, the Rightist and the Leftist deviation. The first one, of course, is the pseudo-Hegelian notion that this gap stands for a "self-alienation" which I should strive to ideally abolish and to fully assume my speech as directly my own. Against this version, one should assert that there is no I which can, ideally even, take the word "directly," by-passing the detour of prosopopeia. Wearing a mask can thus be a strange thing: sometimes, more often than we tend to believe, there is more truth in the mask that in what we assume to be our "real self." Recall the proverbial impotent shy person who, while playing the cyberspace interactive game, adopts the screen identity of a sadistic murderer and irresistible seducer - it is all too simple to say that this identity is just an imaginary supplement, a temporary escape from his real life impotence. The point is rather that, since he knows that the cyberspace interactive game is "just a game," he can "show his true self," do things he would never have done in real life interactions - in the guise of a fiction, the truth about himself is articulated. Therein resides the truth of the charming story like Alexandre Dumas’ The Man Behind the Iron Mask: what if we should turn around the topic according to which, in our social interactions, we wear masks covering out hidden true face? What if, on the contrary, in order for us to interact in public with our true face, we have to have a mask somewhere hidden, deposed, a mask rendering our unbearable excess, what is in us more than ourselves, a mask which we can put on only exceptionally, in the carnevalesque moments when the standard rules of interaction are suspended? In other words, what if the true function of the mask is not to be worn, but to be kept hidden?

The opposite trap is to elevate "that through which I speak" into an authentic site of Truth, so that "something in me deeper than myself, the Truth itself, speaks through me." This is the Jungian version: the distinction between me Ego and the Self, a much broader ground of my subjectivity, with the task to progress from my Ego to my true Self. Against this version, one should assert that that which speaks through me is fundamentally a lie. (And there is the third, postmodern, temptation, the most dangerous one: the claim that there is no site of truth, that there are only prosopopeias beneath each other like levels of the onion, that every truth which speaks through a mask in prosopopeia is already another prosopopeia.)

The temptation here, of course, is to say that it is not the other through whom I speak, but that the Other itself speaks through me: the ultimate prosopopeia is the one in which I myself am the other, the means used by X to speak. Is, then, the key dialectical reversal apropos prosopopeia the one from the subject talking through others to the subject itself as the site through which the Other speaks? The shift from me speaking through some figure of the Other to the I itself as prosopopeia? From "I cannot tell the truth about myself directly; this most intimate truth is so painful that I can only articulate it through another, by adopting the mask, talking through the mask, of another entity" to "truth itself is talking through me"? This reversal involves the dialectical shift from predicate to subject - from "what I am telling is true" to "truth is talking through me." - And, furthermore, is this shift also not clearly sexualized? Woman is man’s prosopopea: she is man’s symptom, she has no substance of her own, she is a mask through which man speaks (more precisely, as Otto Weininger demonstrated, a mask through which the fallen nature of man speaks). Women cannot relate to truth as an inherent value, she cannot tell the truth; however, truth can speak in/through her. The reversal from "I speak the truth" to "I, the truth, speak" occurs with woman’s identification with the truth: men tell the truth, while in woman, truth itself speaks.

The "primordial prosopopea" is effectively that of the symbolic order itself, of the subject (constituting itself through) assuming a symbolic mandate – or, as Lichtenberg put it in one of his aphorisms: "There is a transcendent ventriloquism that makes people believe that something that was said on earth came from heaven." In one of the Marx brothers' films, Groucho, when caught in a lie, answers angrily: "Whom do you believe, your eyes or my words?" This apparently absurd logic renders perfectly the functioning of the symbolic order in which the symbolic mask matters more than the direct reality of the individual who wears this mask. This functioning involves the structure of what Freud called "fetishist disavowal": "I know very well that things are the way I see them, that the person in front of me is a corrupted weakling, but I nonetheless treat him respectfully, since he wears the insignia of a judge, so that when he speaks, it is the law itself which speaks through him". So, in a way, I effectively believe his words, not my eyes. This is where the cynic who believes only hard facts falls short: when a judge speaks, there is in a way more truth in his words (the words of the institution of law) than in the direct reality of the person of judge; if one limits oneself to what one sees, one simply misses the point. This paradox is what Lacan aims at with his les non-dupes errent (those in the know err): those who do not let themselves be caught in the symbolic fiction and continue to believe their eyes only are the ones who err most. What a cynic who believes only his eyes misses is the efficiency of the symbolic fiction, the way this fiction structures our (experience of) reality. A corrupted priest who preaches about goodness may be a hypocrite, but if people endow his words with the authority of the church, they may instigate them to perform good deeds.

To introduce some order in this conundrum, one should take note of a certain paradox. It is precisely when "I speak" – when I perceive myself as the agent of my speech - that, effectively, "the big Other speaks through me," that I am "spoken," since my speech acts are totally regulated by the symbolic order in which I dwell. And, conversely, the only way for me to bring to word my subjective position of enunciation, is to let myself be surprised by what I say, to experience my own words as a case of "it speaks in/through me." This is what happens in the case of a symptom: in it, my true subjective position finds a way to articulate itself against my will and intention. The opposition is thus not directly between "I speak" and "the Other speaks through me": the two are the two sides of the same coin. When "it speaks" in/through me, it is not the big Other which speaks: the truth that articulates itself is the truth about the failures, gap and inconsistencies of the big Other. (One should note here a shift in Lacan: while, for the Lacan of the 1950s, the Unconscious is the "discourse of the Other," the moment he introduced the key notion of the "barred Other" and draws its consequences, the Unconscious turns into the discourse that registers the gaps ands failures of the Other.)

In Charles Russell's The Mask with Jim Carrey (1994), the story of a weak common bank teller again and again humiliated by his peers and women, who acquires extraordinary powers when he puts on an old mysterious mask found on a city beach. A series of details are essential to he story's background. When the mask is thrown on the sea-shore, it sticks to the decaying slimy remainders of a corpse, bearing witness to what remains of the "person behind the mask" after he totally identifies with the Mask: a formless slime like that of Mr Valdemar from E.A. Poe's story when he is resuscitated from death, this "indivisible remainder" of the Real. Another crucial feature is that the hero, prior to acquiring the mask, is presented as a compulsive cartoons-watcher on a TV: what happens to him when he puts on the Mask and when the green wooden Mask takes possession of him, is that he is able to behave, in "real life," as a cartoon hero (dodging the bullets, dancing and laughing madly, sticking his eyes and tongue far out of his head when he is excited) - in short, he becomes "undead," entering the spectral fantasmatic domain of unconstrained perversion, of "eternal life" in which there is no death (and sex), in which the plasticity of the bodily surface is no longer constrained by any physical laws (faces can be stretched indefinitely; I can spit out from my body bullets which were shot into me; after I fell from a high building, flattened on a side-walk, I simply reassemble myself and walk away...). (In a nice bit of irony, just before he puts on the mask, the hero watches on TV a talk show in which a distinguished psychiatrist dr. Arthur Newman, author of a best-seller The Masks We Wear, presents his standard Freudian theory: "We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking. We suppress the Id, our darkest desires, and adopt a more socially acceptable image." What the film demonstrates is the exact opposite: the Id, our darkest desires, dwell in the masks we put on.) This universe is inherently compulsive: even those who observe it cannot resist its spell. Suffice it to recall perhaps the supreme scene of the film in which the hero, wearing his green mask, is cornered by a large police force (dozens of cars, helicopters): to get out of the deadlock, he treats the light focused on him as spotlights on a stage and starts to sing and dance on a crazy Hollywood musical version of Latino seductive song - the policemen are unable to resist its spell, they also start to move and sing as if the are part of a musical number choreography (a young policewoman is shedding tears, visibly fighting back the power of the Mask, but she nonetheless succumbs to its spell and joins the hero in a common dance-and-song number...). Crucial is here the inherent stupidity of this compulsion: it stands for the way each of us is caught in the inexplicable spell of idiotic jouissance, like when we are unable to resist whistling some vulgar popular song whose melody is haunting us. This compulsion is properly ex-timate: imposed from the outside, yet doing nothing but realizing our innermost whims - as the hero himself puts it in a desperate moment: "When I put the mask on, I lose control - I can do anything I want." 'Having control over oneself' thus in no way simply relies on the absence of obstacles to the realization of our intentions: I am able to exert control over myself only insofar as some fundamental obstacle makes it impossible for me to "do anything I want" - the moment this obstacle falls away, I am caught into a demoniac compulsion, at a whim of "something in me more than myself." When the Mask - the dead object - comes alive by way of taking possession of us, its hold on us is effectively that of a "living dead," of a monstrous automaton imposing itself on us - is the lesson of it not that our fundamental fantasy, the kernel of our being, is itself such a monstrous Thing, a machine of jouissance?

This mask is thus the partial object, death drive, at its purest: something that takes over the subject with its idiotic superego injunction and compels it to act against its conscious standards, in an obscene way that embarrasses it. More precisely, it is not something that takes over the subject, since it designates the very emergence of the subject: prior to putting on the mask, the hero is an individual, a person, the spiritual correlate to his body; once the body is colonized by the mask, the individual person is transubstantiated into a subject proper.

This logic of death-drive repetition as a matter of surface, deployed by Deleuze in his Difference and Repetition, is to be opposed to the Bataillean notion of violent transgression as the act of tearing-apart the cobweb of appearances and forcing one’s way into the raw heart of the Real, of its palpitating flesh. Recall the old Catholic strategy to guard men against the temptation of the flesh: when you see in front of you a voluptuous feminine body, imagine how it will look in a couple of decades – the dried skin, sagging breasts… (Or, even better, imagine what lurks now already beneath the skin: raw flesh and bones, inner fluids, half-digested food and excrements…) Far from enacting a return to the Real destined to break the imaginary spell of the body, such a procedure equals the escape from the Real, the Real announcing itself in the seductive appearance of the naked body. That is to say, in the opposition between the spectral appearance of the sexualized body and the repulsive body in decay, it is the spectral appearance with is the Real, and the decaying body which is reality – we take recourse to the decaying body in order to avoid the deadly fascination of the Real which threatens to draw us into its vortex of jouissance.

The same goes for contemporary art where we encounter often brutal attempts to 'return to the real', to remind the spectator (or reader) that he is perceiving a fiction, to awaken him from the sweet dream. This gesture has two main forms which, although opposed, amount to the same. In literature or cinema, there are (especially in postmodern texts) self-reflexive reminders that what we are watching is a mere fiction, like the actors on screen addressing directly us as spectators, thus ruining the illusion of the autonomous space of the narrative fiction, or the writer directly intervening into the narrative through ironic comments; in theatre, there are occasional brutal events which awaken us to the reality of the stage (like slaughtering a chicken on stage). Instead of conferring on these gestures a kind of Brechtian dignity, perceiving them as versions of extraneation, one should rather denounce them for what they are: the exact opposite of what they claim to be - escapes from the Real, desperate attempts to avoid the real of the illusion itself, the Real that emerges in the guise of an illusory spectacle.

Even Lacan himself, in his Ethics of Psychoanalysis, comes dangerously close to this standard version of the "passion of the Real." [2] Do the unexpected echoes between this seminar and the thought of Georges Bataille, THE philosopher of the passion of the Real, if there ever was one, not unambiguously point in this direction? Is Lacan's ethical maxim "do not compromise your desire" (which, one should always bear in mind, was never used again by Lacan in his later work) not a version of Bataille's injunction "to think everything to a point that makes people tremble," [3] to go as far as possible – to the point at which the opposite coincide, at which infinite pain turns into the joy of the highest bliss (discernible on the photo of the Chinese submitted to the terrifying torture of being slowly cut to pieces), at which the intensity of erotic enjoyment encounters death, at which sainthood overlaps with extreme dissolution, at which God himself is revealed as a cruel Beast? Is the temporal coincidence of Lacan's seminar on the ethics of psychoanalysis and Bataille's Eroticism more than a mere coincidence? Is Bataille's domain of the Sacred, of the "accursed part," not his version of what, apropos Antigone, Lacan deployed as the domain of hate? Does Bataille's opposition of "homogeneity," the order of exchanges, and "heterogeneity," the order of limitless expenditure, not point towards Lacan's opposition of the order of symbolic exchanges and the excess of the traumatic encounter of the Real? "Heterogeneous reality is that of a force or shock." [4] And how can Bataille's elevation of the dissolute woman to the status of God not remind us of Lacan's claim that Woman is one of the names of God? Not to mention Bataille's term for the experience of transgression – impossible – which is Lacan's qualification of the Real...

The philosophical background of this notion of the Real is the Nietzschean opposition of the Apolinical and the Dionysiac: one should take the risk of disturbing the peaceful Apolinic harmony and penetrate to its savage Dionysiac foundation... In clear contrast to the space of this opposition, the Lacanian Real is, rather, the monstrous aspect of the Apoliniac itself, the Apoliniac-gone-awry, exploding in its autonomy.

Robert Pippin is the only one today who heroically defines as his goal to promote "bourgeois philosophy," i.e., the philosophy of legitimizing and analyzing the "bourgeois" way of life centered on the notion of autonomous and responsible individuals leading a safe life within the confines of civil society. The problem, of course, is the skeleton in the closet of every bourgeois society: Pippin as a Hegelian (THE US Hegelian) should have known how, for Hegel, the modern bourgeois society could only have arisen through the mediation of the revolutionary terror (exemplified by Jacobins); furthermore, Hegel is also aware that, in order to prevent its own death from habituation (immersion into the life of particular interests), every bourgeois society needs to be shattered from time to time by war. (Not to mention the obvious case of the XXth century ethical catastrophes like holocaust and gulag: it would be obscene to legitimize them as necessary steps on the path to ethical progress.

The problem "can excesses like Auschwitz be justified, economized, as necessary detours on the road of the progress towards a free society?", can they be aufgehoben as moments of historical progress, is therefore, from a strict Hegelian perspective, a wrong one: it presupposes a position of external substantial teleology that it precluded by Hegel. There is no substantial historical Spirit which in advance weighs the costs and benefits of the prospect of a historical catastrophe (is the unprecedented peace and prosperity of the post-WWII Europe worth the price of killing European Jews?): it is only actual men who, caught in a historical process, generate a catastrophe which then, (can) give(s) birth to new ethico-political awareness, without any claim that this non-intended result in any way "justifies" or legitimizes the enormous suffering that led to it. Measured in this way, NO historical progress is "worth the price": all one can say is that the ultimate outcome of historical catastrophes is sometimes a higher ethical awareness which one should accept with humility and memory of the blood spilled on the path to it. Such "blessings in disguise" are never guaranteed in advance (say, there was no such progress resulting from the Mongol ruthless destruction of flowering civilizations and cities during their invasion of Eurasia).

The true legacy of Christianity survived outside the Church as an institution – which, however, does not mean that it survived in intimate authentic religious experiences which have no need for the institutional frame; it rather survived in OTHER institutions, from revolutionary political parties to psychoanalytic societies...

What seems to characterize the Muslim symbolic space is an immediate conflation of possibility and actuality: what is merely possible is treated (reacted against) as if actually took place. At the level of sexual interactions, when a man finds himself alone with a woman, it is assumed that the opportunity was used, that they did it, that the sexual act took place (which is why sometimes, after finding themselves by accident in such a situation - caught in an elevator which broke down, etc. -, the Muslim women commit suicide out of sense of shame). At the level of writing, this is why Muslims are prohibited to use paper at the toilet: it MAY HAVE BEEN that verses of Quran were written or printed on it...

The latent dream-thoughts are the material which the dream-work transforms into the manifest dream. /.../ The only essential thing about dreams is the dream-work that has influenced the thought-material. We have no right to ignore it in our theory, even though we may disregard it in certain practical situations. Analytic observation shows further that the dream-work never restricts itself to translating these thoughts into the archaic or regressive mode of expression that is familiar to you. In addition, it regularly takes possession of something else, which is not part of the latent thoughts of the previous day, but which is the true motif force for the construction of the dream. This indispensable addition /unentbehrliche Zutat/ is the equally unconscious wish for the fulfillment of which the content of the dream is given its new form. A dream may thus be any sort of thing in so far as you are only taking into account the thoughts it represents – a warning, an intention, a preparation, and so on; but it is always also the fulfillment of an unconscious wish and, if you are considering it as a product of the dream-work, it is only that. A dream is therefore never simply an intention, or a warning, but always an intention, etc., translated into the archaic mode of thought by the help of an unconscious wish and transformed to fulfill that wish. The one characteristic, the wish-fulfillment, is the invariable one; the other may vary. It may for its part once more be a wish, in which case the dream will, with the help of an unconscious wish, represent as fulfilled a latent wish of the previous day." [5]

Every detail is worth analyzing in this brilliant passage, from its implicit opening motto "what is good enough for practice – namely the search for the meaning of dreams – is not good enough for theory," to its concluding redoubling of the wish. Its key insight is, of course, the "triangulation" of latent dream-thought, manifest dream-content and the unconscious wish, which limits the scope of – or, rather, directly undermines – the hermeneutic model of the interpretations of dreams (the path from the manifest dream-content to its hidden meaning, the latent dream-thought), which runs backwards the path of the formation of a dream (the transposition of the latent dream-thought into the manifest dream-content by the dream-work). The paradox is that this dream-work is not merely a process of masking the dream’s "true message": the dream’s true core, its unconscious wish, inscribes itself only through and in this very process of masking, so that the moment we re-translate the dream-content back into the dream-thought expressed in it, we lose the "true motif force" of the dream – in short, it is the process of masking itself which inscribes into the dream its true secret. One should therefore turn around the standard notion of the deeper-and-deeper penetration to the core of the dream: it is not that we first penetrate from the manifest dream-content to the first-level secret, the latent dream-thought, and then, in a step further, even deeper, to the dream’s unconscious core, the unconscious wish. The "deeper" wish is located into the very gap between the latent dream-thought and manifest dream-content. (A similar procedure is at work in the metaphoric dimension of everyday language. Let us say I am an editor who wants to criticize a submitted manuscript; instead of brutally saying "the text needs to be rewritten so that at least its most stupid parts will disappear," I ironically hint that "the text will probably need some fumigating" – does this metaphoric substitution not introduce a much more ominous reference to germs and insects, to killing, etc.?)


[1] see Chapter 1 of Slavoj Zizek, The Fright of Real Tears, London: BFI 2001.

[2] Jacques Lacan, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, New York: Routledge 1992.

[3] Michel Surya, Georges Bataille, London: Verso Books 2002, p. 479.

[4] Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess, Manchester: Manchester University Press 1985, p. 154.

[5] Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books 1973, p. 261-262.

Slavoj Zizek's Bibliography

Slavoj Zizek's Chronology

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