Monthly Archives: May 2017

Lacan and Zizek Obscurity; Part 2.

Part 1 of this long post is HERE.

The obscurity of Lacan is of a different sort, I think, than that of covering for one’s lack. First thing to note is he was a psychiatrist. I feel one should always consider the discipline that the author identifies through as a sort of light upon the scene, or maybe as a sort of background upon which the scene is set. (I can feel myself already sinking into the book form, of long deeply explorative paragraphs, lol, but Im trying to keep it to the topic you bring….) As I read Latour, as you mention lately, I am always reminded that he is an anthropologist (my undergrad is in cultural anthro; somehow that makes me more critical of him); the manner through which he approaches issues is informed by a certain ‘ontological treatment’, if you will, that allows me a point of purchase into his ideas that are not included or addressed. I agree with you, I think; I mean this in a very (non-?)philosophical manner, and not merely a necessarily the usual cross-discipline manner. I think this could be what really makes significant cross-discipline dialogue significant because there still seems a spectre hanging of a kind of ‘modern pluralism’ wherein specialties proclaim righteous power over respective fields, but at this point I have not formulated the dynamics involved with this ‘feeling’.

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I am hesitant to frame Z and L through the kind of structural lens you put in play above, where Zizek makes Lacan more accessible. I am reminded of the process and form that seems usual for academic dissertation (Smith and Wesson, 1958) You find it everywhere (Griffendor, 2010); you need it to be considered for most academic journals (Steadfats, Raliegh, Deade, 2016); they teach it, (Stumfed, 2000) you learn it if you want to pass and get your degree (Stuffed, 2001, 2005 cf.) and be taken seriously: The bibliography (Stander, 1994). It is so ubiquitous (Mouce and Catt, 1972) now days to read a paper where (Heckle and Jeckle, 1965) every sentence has a site reference to other authors (Rumpelstiltskin, 2003).

Now; I am not here knocking the academic process necessarily; certain skill sets serve certain applications. It is what it is; usually, we all got to do something to prove ourselves somehow, no matter what we are doing, and in some arenas it actually helps to have those sites. But, on one hand, if you are referring to the obscurity of references then if you think about Lacan as a psychiatrist, then you can kind of see that it is the way those medical doctors can do things. As well, if you are referring to the manner of his concepts, or how he presents them, we might also understand that he is a philosopher only in so much as he is involved with actual psychiatric patients, and particularly their psychological disorders.

We might want to understand how we are to apply the questions I put toward philosophy (above) in the context of Zizek and Lacan. I tend to eschew the want to unify and place everything, every production, person and being, within an assumption of commonality; it appears I am more concerned with teleologies than ontologies (though I am not so antagonistic toward Harman and his Ontology, I really did laugh out loud at your scathing comment on Harman).

I would venture to say that as a doctor Lacan was very much fixed upon a certain scientific approach that we find problematized in Zizek, if only under an implication of critique of ontological commonality, perhaps incipiently if not so overtly. Lacan was developing practice, experiments and theories based upon a particular Cartesian, if not pre-Cartesian, scientific situation that is unproblematized even unto calling forth the method of medicine and the doctor-patient relationship; the stitching up or mending of an open wound calls forth a very immediate and ‘inconsiderate’ consideration of the matter. The reflection that may have occurred with Lacan perhaps should thus be specifically referenced to the outward appropriation of information that is then applied to the inward generality of humanity that the psychiatrist is involved with as a one among many while perpetually denying this in the practicing of medicine. We might see that the philosophy of Lacan occurs within a particular ontological mode, and thus so, demands a particularly rigorous discourse to suture the actualities of physical distress (to use a broad term to include the ‘physical distress’ that is then the observed and theoretical ‘mental distress’ of the patient) to the epistemological and structural imperatives that go along with the metaphysical demands for coordination (unification) of inherently discrepant orders.

Zizek’s task is thus to be able to account for the unity that is not understood as problematic (it is given) within the medical appropriation of philosophy, while also accounting for the discrepancy involved with Lacan not being a medical patient of Zizek even while being under his philosophical care. Zizek is a self-claimed media and social critic. His interests and methods are automatically and inherently not medical; his approach was not gained through any analysis of human beings that ended up ‘under the scalpel’ of medicine. Despite what philosophies might want to argue, the social sites of Zizek’s consideration and practice are not the same as medical sites of practice. Medical doctors do not (too often or thoroughly) ponder the possibility of what is included as a medical site of practice *; it is not so much ‘given’ as it is merely obvious. They must act in the same manner that prevents them from undertaking or being a part of any overreaching ontological mode; their practice is entirely located in an ethical world (ironically. Is there a suspension of this? Under what conditions?). Indeed, Zizek makes this very same point about the ‘reneging’ of Event: something is only ‘given’ under particular conditions, and as those conditions change, so what is given changes, even to the extent that we might even imagine that what is given loses its capacity to be given. Yet there is a condition where what is given does not change. In contrast to Lacan’s ‘essential subjects’ in this light, Zizek’s sites are inherently ‘subjective’ sites that have a particular ‘objective’ flavor. If we can understand where this statement may not be a mere opinion, then we may be stepping from the ‘religious philosophical’ world of proper unities, and what appears as its necessary operations of hegemony and oppression, into the world of (scientifical?) philosophical facts.

*Note: I was talking with a friend of mine who is a surgeon graduated top of his class from Harvard medical, and asked him what he thought of existence and such. His answer was “I think its all energy,” basically a layman ontology based around a little modern physics. We didn’t really discuss too deeply, but for the most part, that was his big philosophical idea. And that’s OK; my point is that whatever metaphysical structures may be at the root of all existence has very little to do with fixing someone’s physical body, again regardless of the philosophies of psychology (we see an inversion here too) that would want to argue how deep human ‘unconscious’ psychological meanings permeate out from the darkness into the light of daily activity. My friend listens to Metallica and Zedd in the operating room while he does surgery. Am I going to reconsider whether I should let him operate on me because he has what I could consider a simpleminded version of philosophical reality and listens to inconstient genres of music? Even if he was able to discuss the intersections in Plato and Frauerbach with me, would that change my need or his ability?

Zizek and Lacan (with a moment about Deleuze) Obscurity. Part 1.

Amorinblog and I have been having a loose conversation here and there. My reply to the most recent comment I have made into a post because it seems that I am unable to keep my answers very short. Lol.

Here it is:

Amoreinblog: “This has a lot in common with your post on obscurantism. This constant referring to outside source material. Now- this criticism is often leveled at Lacan. I wonder what you think about that, because Lacan is the theoretical underpinning of Zizek, who seems to be one of the least obscurantist philosophers of the modern day. Did Zizek in your mind “de-obscurantize” or “de-metaphysicize” Lacan? Did he make psychoanalysis into common sense (because I think Lacan’s precise point about the unconscious is that it is precisely not the common sense view that the unconscious exists, and it can only be proven inductively)”

Strangely enough, I don’t have a problem around referring to outside material in general. The issue I have is around, as you say, ‘constant’ referral, such that often enough you cant even have a discussion with someone let alone a debate because you can never get them to engage with, what I see as, or what I naturally understand as, their view. Their view thus appears to me to be a kind of ‘no view’, or a view that finds itself in a positive form of ‘not viewing’, which manifests through a constant referencing to other sources. Their opinion is always about what so and so says and this and that idea, and then whether they agree with it or not, as if that is their view. The issue is really what they are using the references for, but not just this, how they are using them becomes quite apparent to me, which then goes to, what I tend to call, their ‘orientation upon objects’.

It does, of course, take a little bit to get the feel of a descriptive terrain, to understand what people (authors) are saying, but this in itself is not an end or standardized form – or rather it is all too often understood as a sort of a priori methodological ground: Finding one’s voice through the constant referencing is taken to be, as it becomes, one’s view, such that by the time the person has looked around everywhere, the view they have by then comes off as tentative and unsure, yet fortified by the aggregate of students (as a general term for all seekers) who have taken the method as unquestionable methodological dogma such that they then propose (inherently) to take the position of the method itself as if the method could indeed constitute a position (but indeed it can. This is the question that I pose to philosophy as an endeavor to its object and purpose; namely, we need to clean up what philosophy is doing, is capable of doing, and not only what it addresses, but more precisely what it is able to address.)

Sorry, my rambling. There is a lot going on here in your small question, but Ill try to get back to your question, shortish form.

The type of obscurantism I am railing against in the post to which you refer, is about the Deluezian-Derridian congregants. If I remember correctly, someone was saying something about how those guys, but particularly Deleuze, how his works are so obscure, they must be speaking about something very significant, and he goes on to talk about ‘end of the world manifestations or system collapse’ and such things, in political and ideological this and that, or something like that, I think. My point there was that, yes, it is the fault of the writer, but more those who would constantly refer to what he (they) said here and there, using their terms and definitions (almost verbatim) to support their (the person Im talking to) argument about whatever we were talking about. In this case, I believe it was a congregant who had a post I made a comment upon (a positive one, where I thought I was agreeing and supporting and then offering something more, and then questioning into it), who then came back upon me as though I didn’t understand what he was saying about Deleuze, and he became accusatory, saying that he didn’t know where I came up with such and such notions about his post, etc… And basically that he didn’t agree with me because [put Deluezian quote or paraphrase here]. I continued to ask what that meant, brining in comparisons with other authors, and I got another somewhat accusatory answer about my ignorance and how the other author I mentioned has no relation to his posting because [followed by another Deleuze quote]. For some reason, he could not produce for me a response that answered my question because his answers were always in reference to what Deleuze said. I think he was frustrated and thinking that I was accusing him of not understanding Deleuze, which I was not, and I was (I felt) actually agreeing with his point of his post, which apparently, he could not see beyond to understand my point. Lol ! Quite a slapstick exchange if there ever was one.

The post of mine, then, “Obscurity”, was a complaint (lol) but then also I was saying that Delueze’s apparent obscurantism was because he was too close to the Event. What Event? You ask. Well, that is an entirely different discussion. Nevertheless, I consider Delueze and Derrida verbosity to be due to the fact that they were still pretty tongue tied over what was occurring * and that it is more a particular institutional identity that allowed them to have so much traction in the philosophical world, at that (dare I say), because the point of departure for their discourses is obvious, that they could take twenty paragraphs of all sorts of convoluted text to say what might be summed up in one. (ah ha!! Im a dork.) Yet strangely anti-significant, what they say is sensible and of course, but the conclusions many congregants gather from them is reactionary, for once you understand the point of departure it is only a matter, for each piece of writing, to discover where the insertion takes place, and then what vector of meaning they are pursuing. Then the reactionary fear arguing that arises in the offense (or excitement that someone is talking about something that was so particular to your understanding) drifts away. In this particular case, then, of failing to discern the point of departure yet making comments upon the meaning of the text, the fault of obscurity falls back to the reader (but not to the extent that one is still open to learning).
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More in a bit…

  • note: this kind of controlling of astonishment for the confinment to discourse, is similar to what I mention of Lacan below (part 2 or 3) , of his situation as a medical doctor. The comparison can be held to notice as a kind of Event, but one that is normalized in particular method, for the example with Lacan, of medical practice. In the situation of Deleuze, though, we have a particular astonishment that is still felt because it has not been standardized to method, such that encounters with the subject (or ‘patient’) matter are still a bit difficult to ascertain a treatment for. Hence the verbosity (obscurity) here is of a similar kind (of overcoming a ‘gap’ for metaphysical unity toward standard application) as Lacan.

Another Serious Hoax.

Another very serious irony.

Another Sokalesque Hoax.
That link is actually to Graham Harman’s blog, which has a link to “why evolution is true” blog, which has a link to the oregional paper if not an archived version of it.
But I wanted to comment on Dr. Harmon’s comment.

I think it does indiigt a particular aspect of the intellectual community and academic discipline , and I think Dr. Harmon is correct that jargon can be so easily thrown about and taken as legitimate . but I don’t think it necessarily should be properly located back up on the people who wrote the paper; i’m not sure how we should measure whether or how one is engaging between their thoughts and ideas and discourses, or the more blunt version “thought and reality”. I’m not really sure how we determine what “secondhand” is. 

Think about what it would’ve taken for this paper to remain as a legitimate source: It would have taken such a simple thing as the author not revealing that it was a hoax. Now I think Dr. Harmon is kind of making an accusation towards someone who would be so duplicious. I’m not so sure that’s as easy as it sounds. Sure we’d all like to think there is a certain kind of intellectual standard or some sort of mark of legitimacy and authenticity in how a human being behaves in the world, but I think that’s really idealistic. If there’s anything that goes on in the modern world it is falsity as legitimate, and I may be a bit of a pessimist, but I think that is the nature of our world that to begin to accuse people as to some sort of intellectual bad integrity in this kind of situation is kind of a simple minded and naïve, if I can say so. sure I tend to agree with that sentiment but I don’t know if I would say it as a valud argument really because again I may be a pessimist but I would say at least 50% of academia is involved in that same kind of game if only because most people that are involved in academia aren’t really worried about any ‘authentic’ intellectual pursuit (what is that? How do we qualify that?) they’re worried about having a job and a career. (How bout we come up with a legitimate philosophy of compromise?)

Yes there are many people in all sorts of careers that do you have the balls and the societal privilege do you have the luxury of hanging onto their ideals and having them come across in a manner that then becomes a social justice issue. But I don’t think most people have that luxury and I don’t even really think it comes down to people having balls. 

So I think to put it on the author of the paper is kind of a weak argument. I would put it more in the field where all this jargon has arisen. I kind of turn of the 20th century analytic genre, if you will, that launch is it self into an ethereal heady realm of independent objects is naturally, overtime given the pure number of people that will enter into the institution of interdisciplinary work, going to produce a bunch of intelligent people that feel that their job is to manipulate these purely heady and disembodied terms in order to make an argument and in order to make a name and in order to make a career for themselves a paycheck in their pocket and gain some political (career) capital.

But that being said, I don’t think we should knock down the whole area of intellectual discussion and application and consideration; but I do think we need to clean up what we consider general philosophical speculation. As I have put recently in a post and I’ve said elsewhere, we need to start to consider what philosophy is capable of addressing in particular and what it can be used for. Until we have a proper philosophical science we are going to have to detach philosophy from the scientific kind of maxims that keep the work of science in check. 

In this case, then, how would we be able to discern its legitimacy? It says “penis”. Now how are we to pull back from the saturation of jargon? Obviously, there are people who take discourse that appears very similar to this as legitimate. Are we to rely uon the integrity of the author to let us know after its acceptance that it is fake? Doesnt that seem kind of imprecise? How are we to impliment a standard?

It seems Harman (and Why Evol…) already have a ctriterion. Perhaps they could enlighten us as to what this might be?