Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Theory 4 (Email 15)

Hi Jake

  Thanks for this inquiry, which is indeed relevant to our conversation.
Lacan is slippery as we know, so to some extent my account is heuretic and not scholarly, meaning that my reading is in the interests of grammatology and framed by apparatus theory.  In that context, by definition, the digital apparatus emerges from but is not confined to the accomplishments and limitations of the previous apparatus.   Electracy has its own limits but that is not our concern now.  A key to the "optimistic" attitude towards psychoanalysis as ontology for electracy is the provenance of gaze out of existential phenomenology, specifically Merleau-Ponty (and Sartre).  You and I talked a bit about "Flesh" and Lacan's references to M-P's Visible and Invisible, pubished posthumously just at the time of Seminar XI.  M-P argued explicitly that his account was ontological, replacing conceptual or literate "substance" with "element" in the classical sense of earth air fire water.  He overcame cartesian dualism with Flesh, to name the human as within the world in our materiality and sensorium:  we see from one position and are looked at from everywhere.  What attracted me most to M-P is the relevance of his ontology for electracy, in that he insisted that the metaphysics of Flesh exceed the reach of linguistics and language, of discourse (literate metaphysics), so he turned to painters, especially  Cezanne, and then Paul Klee, whose works "authored" so to speak versions  of Flesh as ontology.  As we discussed, Proust was his (and nearly everyone else's, include Deleuze later) prototype or touchstone, referring to his involuntary memory. But he noted that Proust in his novel is composing a hybrid philosophy, and not working directly with Flesh. 

The consistency of M-P's claim is measured relative to Heidegger, for example, who reminded us that Being appears in and is possible for thought only in writing (just as Lacan observed that the Unconscious appears only in Analytic therapy).  The related point from an earlier lecture is that the purpose of therapy is to bring the excluded Real into representation, in order to relieve the suffering you mentioned:  to transform suffering into symptom, as Freud said (into ordinary unhappiness).  We noted in our readings (and my lecture) that Lacan describes a register of drive now accessible that is beyond the pleasure principle.  There are two pleasures (as Barthes noted in Pleasure of the Text also:  pleasure  and bliss).  The apparatus argument is that the tracking of the two pleasures is a map of the discovery or emergence of electracy out of literacy.  The Symbolic (and Imaginary) orders are covered by  literacy, the operations of language and discourse, the defile of the signifier, alienation (in short). That is indeed the locus of the other provoking the emergence of the subject.  The desire of the other.
There is another order, the Real, excluded (until now) from discourse, from appearance, from consciousness, withdrawn completely.  Here is the workings of @ (objet petite a), partial objects, circulating around the void, the hole of lack, the Nothing, the gap between need and demand.  The interest of Seminar XI for us is the account of gaze as one of the partial objects, and how it may be brought into representation, at least as image, but in principle in any aesthetic procution.
What is confusing and important to clarify (to the extent possible) is that the @ proper is nothing in itself, but is only a relation for the libido, the lamella of erogenous zones:  the part objects are the objects cause of desire (as you know), and any particular item or "thing" that is desired, any "object" in the literate sense, is an ambassador for the object cause.  The drive and the @ are best considered together (in fact we are aware by  now of the interdependence of the 4 fundamental concepts in general and all the subfeatures articulated in the lectures to explain them).  The drive includes four operations (source, impetus, object, aim... something like that?).  These four correlate fairly well with Aristotle's four causes:  material, efficient, formal, final.  What interests Lacan early in the seminar is to explain the Unconscious as the "unrealized" dimension of Limbo between potential and actual:  what interrupts living?
So  in class on Wednesday we will discuss how or in what way the camera and the various practices of photography invented in the arts and popular culture support and enable an ontology of the Real in Lacan sense.  Your spotlight is an excellent test case, but to direct the poetics and its test in an experiment, we will want to correlate the CATTt inventories with some clarity.

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