*the ‘frozen’,… —as opposition to the turbulence of movement. … —on the origins *(—the… precipitation) of the ‘mirror stage’. …

– LACAN & (THE QUESTION OF) THE “REAL” –
*(—a reading group).

Why Lacan & why the real… —? —Introduction to the reading group.

Introduction to Lacan: notes from a lecture.

Outline of a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’.

Mirror Stage I.—the infant, the mirror, & the nature of the image.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (i).)

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (ii).): Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (iii).): the Undivided Continuity of States. —‘analysis’, ‘duration’ & ‘intuition’ in Bergson.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (iv).): language, ‘intuition’ & flux in Nietzsche & Bergson, & the fiction of the ‘I’ in Lacan.

 

*the ‘frozen’,… —as opposition to the turbulence of movement.
(—on the origins *(—the… precipitation) of the ‘mirror stage’). …

[…] *freezes it and in a symmetry that reverses it, in opposition to the *|turbulent movements| with which the subject feels he *animates it.
*(Lacan, ‘The Mirror Stage’, 76).

 

The desire for identity, I have argued, is spurred by a more primary (so to) desire,… —a need,… —an unrealistic and (ultimately-finally) unrealisable hope,—for fixity *(—stasis). …

 

 

*—‘freezing’ turbulent’ movements (repress) beneath apparent… discretion of the form—the ‘contour’—of the ‘I’

 

*… —The mirror stage represents an attempt to wrest (the fiction of a) fixity-stasis (—peace and security) from the chaos of an underlying flux of movements of and within the subject (—psychological and bodily), and in(-within) its environment (surrounds-environs).

 

 

*It’s possible, then, to read (—to give an account-a reading, here, of) the origins of the ‘mirror stage’.

 

 

—In laying out this reading-account of the origins, and of the structure of the mirror stage,… I want to draw, in particular, on a key idea from the work of the Modernist critic, poet, and aesthete T.E. Hulme,… —an idea which he himself adopts(-appropriates) from the work of Wilhelm Worringer: …

 

*… —I want to examine the origins of the ‘mirror stage’—in-as a response to, following Hulme and Worringer, I’ll characterise here as

 

*—‘space fear’.

 

 

*(—I’ll adapt-be adapting here, some material from my doctoral thesis, as well as some material which I wrote (from the point-of-view (so to) of my protagonist) for my first novel: Notes of a Vanishing Quantity *(—which I’m still trying, and failing, to publish, and which my thesis and its adaptation in this blog, are intended as a kind of a… companion piece), and which I earlier adapted for the blog of an ‘early C20th political writing’ reading group of which I was a part, under the title of: towards an Ethics of Friendship. …

 

*—The material from ‘Ethics’…  places my own spin on ‘space fear’,… reading it (implicitly-by implication) with, or in terms of Nietzsche, Bergson, and Hulme on language and flux, and Nietzsche’s later doctrine of the ‘will to power’ *(—for my reading of the ‘will to power’, see elsewhere on this blog).

 

 

 

on the ‘geometric’. …
*—agoraphobia. 
—at the root (—the necessity) of art in Hulme & Worringer. …

In his account of artistic inspiration in the later ‘Modern Art and Its Philosophy’ (—a lecture to the Quest Society, London, 22nd January 1914), Modernist poet and art critic T.E. Hulme appropriates Wilhelm Worringer’s concept of ‘space-shyness’… —

The fear I mean here is mental, however, not physical […] *a kind of space-shynessin the face of the varied confusion and arbitrariness of existence. In art this state of mind results in *a desire to create a certain *|abstract geometrical shape|, which, being durable and permanent shall be a refuge from the *flux and impermanence of *outside nature.

[…]

In the reproduction of natural objects there is an attempt to *purify them of their characteristically living qualities in order to make them necessary and immovable. *The changing is translated into something fixed and necessary.

*(—in T.E, Hulme, Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art, ed. Herbert Read, with a Frontispiece and Foreword by Jacob Epstein (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd.; 1924)86)

 

For Hulme, in contrast to ‘vital’ art, which is inspired by a ‘delight in the forms of nature’,… —artistic inspiration in ‘geometric’ art *(—functioning here as a kind of pseudonym, I’d argue, for Hulme’s own conception of ‘classical’ art, which I won’t go into here… ) stems from a state of fear of the confused and arbitrary—the inchoate—flux of the phenomena of ‘outside nature’. …

 

*—This… ‘space-fear’ gives birth to a desire to imbue the flux of external phenomena with a static form, or ‘shape’.

 

Just as ‘vital’ art, for Hulme, ‘geometric’ art still aims at the reproduction of natural objects. …

 

However,… *—in ‘geometric’ art this reproduction aims to ‘purify’ phenomena, sloughing off all that is contingent in them, and drawing out all that is ‘necessary’, imbuing them with permanence and redeeming experience from its contingency.

 

Hulme’s terms are a verbatim repetition of those of Worringer. …

*—In a passage which I love… —I think it’s stunningly astute, and uncannily accurate, on the psychology of the motivation to write—to attempt to create art… —Worringer identifies ‘an immense spiritual dread of space’ at *‘the root of artistic creation’ in what he calls ‘the urge to abstraction’.

*(—Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style, trans. Michael Bullock [London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1953],—15)… —

[It is] because he [the artist of ‘abstraction’/—the abstract artist… ] stands so lost and spiritually helpless *amidst |the things of the external world|, because he experiences only obscurity and caprice in the inter-connection and flux of the phenomena of the external world, that the *urge is strong in him to *divest the things of the external world of their caprice and obscurity in the world-picture and to *impart to them a value of necessity and value of regularity. *(—18)

Worringer distinguishes this ‘fear’ in the *‘urge to abstraction’ from the *‘urge to empathy’, which, he argues, represents— *‘a happy pantheistic relationship of confidence between man and the phenomena of the external world.’ (15)

 

(hmm). …

 

 

Hulme first refers to this ‘fear’ (—agoraphobic) in ‘A Lecture on Modern Poetry’ (—c.1908). …

 

In this earlier piece, however, he relegates it to the sole possession of the ‘ancients’ and distinguishes the relativity and rejection of ‘absolute truth’ characteristic of the ‘modern spirit’. (—see T.E. Hulme: Selected Writings, ed., Patrick McGuinness, (Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1998), 59-67 [62-63])

 

—It’s not until the later piece that he fully incorporates Worringer’s conception of ‘space-fear’ into his own definition of the ‘classical’ and modern art.

*(—see Helen Carr ‘T.E. Hulme and the “Spiritual Dread of Space”’ in Edward P. Comentale and Andrzej Gasiorck, ed., T.E. Hulme and the Question of Modernism [—Aldershot, Burlington: Ashgate, 2006,—93-112 *[—esp. 103]). …

 

 

*… —to retrieve (redeem)—to save—experience, then,… —from the sense of its being inessential and lost.—without meaning or (necessary) consequence.

 

—without purpose or import.

 

—arbitrary, floating and haphazard.

 

*—infinitely replaceable.

(—nothing substantial, nothing essential, nothing that stands). …

 

—to redeem experience from the overwhelming mass—the flux—of forces (—events, possibilities, obligations-demands, desires, anxieties…), uncontrollable and vast.

(—a resentment of…).

 

—agoraphobia…

 

space-fear.

 

Hulme appropriates what he sees-defines as Worringer’s insight into what lies at the very *root of art. …

 

*—‘abstraction’.

 

—that, at ‘the root of artistic creation’, lies ‘an immense spiritual dread of space’.

(against, what Worringer calls, the ‘urge to empathy’: that ‘happy pantheistic relationship of confidence between man and the phenomena of the external world’.)

 

—gives rise (birth) to the (artistic) ‘urge to abstraction’:

Hulme-Worringer (CLUSTER)

 

—the fear of the (apparent) vastness of space (paradoxical as it might nonetheless seem) is in fact revealed as a fear-resentment of (life’s)smallness.

 

—to be overwhelmed in the face of the vastness—the vast expanse of forces (felt) in the external world, that run counter to the will—to the willed

(would will, if could.).

 

agoraphobic.

 

fear.—of an incapacity to control.—a resentment of the smallness of the lived.

(frustration the incapacity to exceed the limits of circumstance circumscribed, and realise the potential-desired, felt).

 

to be caught (inescapably) in-within the smallness of what must be lived (circumstance) at the cost of the all-else that could (—that ought?) to be lived.

 

—to fix the lived (—the impression) in a fixed form. in a form which makes (which renders) it necessary.

 

—to record the impression—atomically (—faithfully).find (to use) the precise—exact—words.

 

—qualification.

 

qualification of (the expression of) the impression.—precision-accuracy

(full—complete—honesty/accuracy.—as honest as can). …

 

—and slough off the inessential

 

to fix the core of the experience and render it sharp, hard and precise (‘geometric’).—to give it a shape.

 

make the lived necessary.—by virtue of its being a form

(existence—having existed-lived—become necessary to the creation of the form and become necessary through its own embodiment within—imbued with—the form).

 

 

to redeem (to show—to reveal—the already redemption of) the lived, in-by recognition.—of the work (—the image).—of the attempt to articulate the intuition.

 

recognition (approbation?).—to be recognised.

 

need.—to have the sense of an intuition recognised.

 

something worthy of being communicated (—set down).

 

recognition of the need (the compulsion) to set it down.

 

to create a solid, stable object that demonstrates the necessity of experience. makes experience-the lived necessary to itself,—to its own creation.

 

a yearning (—an ache) to realise and to communicate and to have that feeling-sense be recognised (and be shared-requited).

 

to be recognised as self in another-others and reflected.

 

to be known (and to be loved).

 

in-between space-fear, then, and the desire (the need) for recognition

 

—language.—flux.
—the fiction of the ‘thing’(—the ‘self’). …

an art of reading. …

 

—of the structure (—the shape) of the impression-impressions.

 

… —of the forces.—physical: movements, pressures.—of the senses: light, colour, touch, smell, sound… —of the emotional.—of connections in-of memorial-remembered (memories—conjured up, so to).

 

—of the competing impulses of which the impression is comprised-composed.—their arrangement, their relation to one another and their (relativeprominence.

 

in any given moment.

 

—all urges. drives. impulses.

 

and all compete (struggle) for balance, for clarity, for order,for dominance.

 

and the balance-order, at any one given moment, is what decides what am (to be).

 

—the ‘self’.

 

 

*—the ‘self’ (the… sense of ‘self’), then, as a fiction. …

 

—the result (the end) of a process of struggle (negotiation) of—between—drives and forces.

 

—the name (retrospective)-naming, thus, of the arrangement—the hierarchy—of forces.

 

in (within) an organism.

 

an imposition of language

 

imposed on flux

 

—a multiplicity of forces (of sub-wills).

 

projection.—a fiction of unity projected onto the flux of forces.

 

—language (linguistic).

 

—the origin and the history of a ‘thing’ (of any given thing): first, a projection—projecting back name—onto an arrangement-heirarchy of forces.

 

and second—a forgetting of (that act of) projection (that act of creation).

 

the name—the forged thing—taken to be (thereal.

(because—for Nietzsche, following Kant… —all that we can have access to and thus have knowledge of are the objects of everyday experience. because we cannot think outside the limits of our senses, we take those objects of experience to be real—in-themselves. … ).

 

any ‘thing’ in existence, then, has (must have)—come about

 

—as the result of a continuing process of naming (—names).

 

—a continual (continued,—continuing) process of being (having beeninterpreted.

 

—from the retrospective imposition of a unity (—of unities) upon the flux that flows always (anywaybeneath.

(—beneath the names).

 

upon the flux of forces.

 

—upon a (any given) quantum of reality

 

—always being appropriated and (re-)transformed…

 

—continually being undone and remade (—re-named).—re-forged

 

appropriated by (—linguistic) forces. overpowered.

 

—from without.

 

—the history, then, of any (given) ‘thing’, then, is a chain of signs (of names, of naming…).

 

always unfolding.

 

—a history, then, of *interpretations….

 

*—of adaptations. …

 

not (no, never) a progress-thus progressive.

(—no ‘goal’,—no ‘end’).

 

only ever a series (—a succession) of—mutually independent—processes.

 

—of appropriation.

 

of adaptation. …

 

exacted on the (given) quantum of reality.

(—of resistances, then, and of overpowerings).

 

 

*… —the form and the meaning of a ‘thing’ (—of any given thing), then, is fluid (always)

 

as in the process of the formation of language.

 

first: the stimulus of sense-sense-stimulus.

(a sight, a sound, a scent.—an impression)…

 

transposed-translated into a word (—sound).—from a need (felt) to discharge the (physical-physiological,—psychological) reaction to the stimulus.

(the word as a metaphor—as first metaphor—for the stimulus felt).

 

when many such similar impressions are yoked together (—grouped), under the aegis of a single word, that word becomes a concept.

 

—a name for a group—a cluster—of experiences (impressions), which serves to yoke them all together according to the similarities that they share.

(and must overlook—must elide—all the differences between them.

 

—crude (unsubtle)…).

 

the concept.—second metaphor.

(at two removes, then, from the sense-stimulus which gives birth-rise to it).

 

—the formation of the concept of the ‘leaf’…

 

—formed by discarding the differences between all (of those) individual leaves.

(—awakens the idea that, in addition to all those individual, incompatible, leaves, there exists—in nature (somehow, somewhere)—some ür,—some ideal ‘leaf’,—from which, in some way-fashion, all those other leaves,—descend

 

the (Platonic) Idea(-Form). …).

 

—‘analysis’ (—to borrow ol’ Bergson’s term). …

 

*—breaks down—fragments—its subject (—the flux) into parts-thus elements (—‘things’).—all made to participate with other fragmented elements in-under—pre-existing—concepts.

 

the break down (—breaking down) of-in-within ‘analysis’… *—art (after a fashion). …

 

 

—in the forgetting of that (act of) art (—creation)—the (mistaken) taking of the fragment-‘thing’ as-for a thing-in-itself (—as-for the real. ).

 

—the ‘self’, then.—a word. …

(—a name.—an ideal thus.—impossible to hold to,—impossible to attain identity with.—thrust upon on, thus,  from without,—in linguistic…).

 

fiction.

 

beneath the veneer, then, of (supposéd) ‘things’ (—of what we come to think of, then, as ‘experience’).—beneath the membrane (the skein) of artificial fragmented atoms—of ‘things’ in-of conceptual space, and of ‘moments’ in conceptual time—there subsists a foundation (—a substrate) of undifferentiated ‘states’.

 

—the flux of an undivided continuity of ‘states’.

 

—apparently mutually exclusive and autonomous, these ‘states’ thus nonetheless interpenetrate, enfolding (down, within themselves) all the states which led-up-to (preceded) their emergence, and, again, unfolding, ineluctably, into all those states which are to (must) follow (in the future yet). …

 

—forming, then, (justone reality, nonetheless, however paradoxical it may seem, comprised of this continual flux of successive ‘states’.

 

after a time, through habitual use (—familiarity)—convention—the concept (concepts) become empty—flat and stale—and elide (ignore) the details and the variations (—the engine of the difference) between things.

 

—no longer maintain any connection to the sense-stimulus from which they originally evolved-arose (no use value any more.—no connection to the quanta they were born to name—to which they, in effect, gave birth).

 

 

—clichés.

 

*on Lacan, then, & ‘space fear’ (—the ‘geometric’ … ). …

*Before the establishment of relations-relationships between the subject (—through the ego = “I”) and-to a world of discrete ‘things’… … *—the (‘Nietzschean’-‘Bergsonian’, so to) flux—of an undivided continuity of ‘states’. …

 

—In the face of which—in response to which—the subject feels (of necessity), then,—overwhelmed… —imperilled (threatened). …

 

—experiences *‘space fear’ (agoraphobic). …

[The abstract artist/artist of ‘abstraction’… ] experiences only obscurity and caprice in the inter-connection and flux of the phenomena of the external world, that the *urge is strong in him to *divest the things of the external world of their caprice and obscurity in the world-picture and to *impart to them a value of necessity and value of regularity. (Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy,—18)

 

—In response to ‘space fear’ (—agoraphobia)… *(… —no way to engage with-to relate to ‘outside nature’. … —no way to defend against-fend off the peril in-of chaotic flux), then,… —a necessity (felt)—an *urge—… to impart discretion upon the otherwise fearful, inchoate flux. …

 

*—the imposition of language. …

 

… —selection. … the selective culling of forces, impulses,… of—detail, from flux: highlighting—bounding round, with (an only ever apparent) contour, of some,… —the  elision or suppression of others. …

*—the creation of the fiction—the artistic projection—of ‘thinghood’ *(so to—in space, and in-of time),…

 

*—the creation of the fiction of the ‘I’. …

 

*—the divestiture of caprice, and the imparting of discretion (stasis). …

 

 

*Lacan,… and the ‘frozen’ (—‘freezes’) as opposition to ‘tubulent movements’ *(—the turbulent movements in-of the flux of the organism. … ).

 

 

—that which underpins (so to) and precipitates ‘the mirror stage’—

 

…—a… response

 

—an attempted ‘geometric’ (—the form-formal outline—contour—of the image of the body… —appropriated in-to (the artistic fictional projection of) the “I”) remedy for, the desire-need (felt) for fixity-stasis,…

 

*—the-a fear (—agoraphobic) of space, and of flux. …

 

 

*The ‘mirror stage’, then, as—the appropriation, or the… pulling, of the non-/pre-egoistic subject (so to—sic?) into extant (pre-existing) orders/structures (—the legislation, in early-Nietzschean terms) of language.

 

*as *(—the formation of)— *the I that says “I”. …

 

*—the ‘ideal I’.

 

 

I want to move on now, then,—to examine the nature of that ‘ideal’ (there) in more detail, and the way in which (I think) it can provide a hook into thinking about the *‘real’… —ontology in Lacan *(—Lacan’s ‘ontology’ … ), and can serve to qualify some of the ideas I developed in my readings of Nietzsche and Bergson on language and the nature of flux. …

 

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*towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … —PART II. on ‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’: language, ‘intuition’ & flux in Nietzsche & Bergson, & the fiction of the ‘I’ in Lacan. …

– LACAN & (THE QUESTION OF) THE “REAL” –
*(—a reading group).

Why Lacan & why the real… —? —Introduction to the reading group.

Introduction to Lacan: notes from a lecture.

Outline of a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’.

Mirror Stage I.—the infant, the mirror, & the nature of the image.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (i).)

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (ii).): Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (iii).): the Undivided Continuity of States. —‘analysis’, ‘duration’ & ‘intuition’ in Bergson.

 

language, ‘intuition’ & flux in Nietzsche & Bergson,
& the fiction of the ‘I’ in Lacan. …

 

So, …

 

For both Nietzsche and for Bergson, then…

 

… —things’… —fragments (fragmented) in (—within-of) space, and the moments-atoms in-of ‘clock-time’ are impositions of language. …

 

on-to a—pre-linguistic,—pre-egoistic, inchoate flux

 

*—(what I’ve dubbed here, for my own purposes) *—the flux of the undivided continuity of states.… —subsisting, then, beneath the individuated concepts of the intellect in Bergson’s conception of ‘duration’, and, I’d argue, in Nietzsche’s… analogous critique of the intellect and championing of ‘intuition’ in the early ‘On Truth’ essay.

 

… ‘Things’ and ‘moments’ (—‘clock-time’) forged, then, from flux. …

 

First as words (a word), an utterance in response to a sense-stimulus. …

 

—The word becomes a concept when it no longer refers exclusive-solely to the sense-stimulus which gave birth-rise to it, but is used to… yoke together disparate phenomena. … *—the (attempted) elision of the differences between diverse experiences (stimuli) and the attempt to equate unequal phenomena (under a single head, so to).

 

—In order to be able to establish a communal linguistic consensus (—the legislation of language). …

 

… —Words, then,… —only ever (in truth) provisional,—inadequate, translations of, and attempts to incorporate experience-sense-stimuli, become (via a process) reified *(—the abstract… —made more concrete,… —real),—taken as-for truth. …

 

—Taken as *corresponding,—absolutely and unproblematically, to things-as-they-are-in-themselves, and there vital, artistic origins (—origins in-as artistic projections) is forgotten-repressed. …

 

…—They become, in effect, stultified metaphysical prejudices——divorced… —alienated from experience.

 

… *—For Bergson, as for Nietzsche, the aim of what both dub ‘intuition’ is to overcome the institutionalised and complacent metaphysical prejudice of the concepts (—formed by the intellect/’analysis),… —a descent (back) into the pre-individuated, undifferentiated flux, and a return with new metaphors and previously ‘unheard-of combinations of concepts’.—To create new metaphors, in order then to capture the *‘vividly felt actual sensation’. …

 

*on flux, then, … & the imposition of the fiction of the ‘I’. …

 

*—It’s possible to read Lacan on the relationship between the subject & the image in-of ‘the mirror stage’, then, alongside, or perhaps rather in terms analogous (—a parallel to) Nietzsche and Bergson on language and flux. …

 

 

*For both Nietzcshe and Bergson… there’s a (however, perhaps, regrettable) necessity in-to the spatial-temporal fragmentation (—into atoms,… quanta) in, or rather through, the impositions of language.

 

*—There is a necessity in-to the formation of a discrete ‘I’. … —In order to overcome, and to repress, the chaotic flux in-of the organism,… *—organs-drives-forces. …

 

—The imposed fiction of the discretion of the ‘I’, and of ‘things’ in space and moments in-of time, are what renders communication and community (the social-political and legal) possible. …

 

*… —Require, then,—the imposition of a fiction. …

 

 

And this is what’s at stake *(I’d argue, at least) in Lacan’s account of the ‘mirror stage’: …

the *|total form| of his body, by which the subject anticipates the maturation of his power in a *|mirage|, is given to him only as a *gestalt, that is, in an *exteriority in which, to be sure, this form is more *constitutive than constituted, but in which, above all, it *|appears to| him as |the *contour of his stature| […] (76).

 

*—The ‘total form’ of the image of the body in the mirror is a fiction,… —necessarily ‘gestalt’ *(that is,—apparently-seeming more than the simple sum of its parts): … complete (whole),—unified (… —no gaps,… no disjuncture(-discord),… —no remainder)… *—bound within the clam, satisfying smoothness of a-the ‘contour’. …

 

It is constituted in the moment of the ‘mirror stage’, and has no existence, either prior to, or beyond it. …

 

—it is a mirage. … —an illusion (or,—a trick of the light (so to) ), the desire for identity with which is spurred (I’d argue) by a desire,… —a need,… —an unrealistic and (ultimately-finally) unrealisable hope,—for fixity *(—stasis). …

 

In order to overcome and—importantly—to repress,… the chaos in-of an underlying flux *(in-within the organism (organs-drives-forces…)… —of an undivided continuity of ‘states’… —?).

 

 

*—The ‘mirror stage’ then, represents an attempt to wrest (the fiction of a) fixity-stasis (—peace and security) from the chaos of an underlying flux of movements: of and within the subject (—psychological and bodily), and in(-within) its environment (surrounds-environs).

 

*An important question I want to address in what follows: …

Is this flux pre-linguistic and (therefore) pre-egoistic for Lacan, as it is for Nietzsche and Bergson… —?

 

 

It’s the necessity-need for fixity (stasis), and the notion of a relationship between the ‘I’ and an underlying flux (whatever its particular nature or status might be), that opens up the possibility, I think, of interrogating-reading the origins of the ‘mirror stage’, and which represents a really interesting basis of comparison for reading Lacan on the ‘real’ (in ‘The Mirror Stage’ essay) in relation to Nietzsche on language and the ‘I’ ( = ego), and Bergson on ‘duration’ and ‘analysis’. …

 


*towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … —PART II. on ‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’: the Undivided Continuity of States. —‘analysis’, ‘duration’ & ‘intuition’ in Bergson. …

– LACAN & (THE QUESTION OF) THE “REAL” –
*(—a reading group).

Why Lacan & why the real… —? —Introduction to the reading group.

Introduction to Lacan: notes from a lecture.

Outline of a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’.

Mirror Stage I.—the infant, the mirror, & the nature of the image.

Mirror Stage II.—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (i).)

Mirror Stage II..—‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. (part (ii).): Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’.

 

*(—the following is taken from: ‘On the Undivided Continuity of States. … —on the “primal unity” &(/as)—“duration”.’ … ).

 

 

 

*the Undivided Continuity of States.
—‘analysis’, ‘duration’, & ‘intuition’ in Bergson. … 

*In An Introduction to Metaphysics (of 1903), Henri Bergson offers a clear, concise, and apt summary of the distinction between ‘analysis’ (—the conceptual) and ‘intuition’, which he had established in his earlier works (Time and Free Will,—Matter and Memory, (etc.)…)…—

By intuition is meant the kind of intellectual sympathy by which one places oneself within an object in order to coincide with what is unique in it and consequently inexpressible. Analysis, on the contrary, is the operation which reduces the object to elements already known, that is, to elements common both to it and other objects.

*(—Henri Bergson, An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. T.E. Hulme (Cambridge: Hackett, 1999),—23-24).

 

So,…

 

—‘analysis,’ Bergson argues, breaks its object down into parts (—‘elements’) corresponding to pre-existing concepts in which it participates (is made to participate) with other objects. …

 

*—it strikes me that these terms very closely echo—perhaps in a way not dwelt upon (certainly at any length in extant work on the similarities or parallels between Nietzsche and Bergson—Nietzsche’s critique of language, the intellect, and the conceptual in ‘On Truth’, and, in particular here, Nietzsche’s critique of the formation of the ‘Platonic’ concept of the ‘leaf’, which was formed, he argued, by discarding the differences between individual leaves: the awakening of the ‘idea’ that, ‘in addition to the leaves’, there exists in ‘nature’—‘the leaf’.’ (‘OTL’, 117.—see pervious. … ).

 

—(the process of) ‘analysis’, then, reduces the thing (—its object) to these constituent elements and to their conceptual correspondences.

 

 

—by contrast, Bergson wishes to promote the method of ‘intuition,’ which—*as it did for Nietzsche in ‘On Truth’—aims to shatter the reduction of its object to pre-existing conceptual prejudices, and to place the observer back into (in closer proximity to) an original state of disinterested, non-conceptual receptivity *(—‘intellectual sympathy’). …

 

… *—beneath the hardened veneer of the fragmented and atomised spatio-temporal realm of the concepts—the ‘crust solidified on the surface’ of experience (—cf. Bergson, IM, 25)—Bergson identifies ‘one reality […] which we all seize from within, by intuition and not simply by analysis. It is our own personality in its flowing through time—our self which endures.’ (24) …

 

*—Beneath the artificially differentiated, atomistic experience of things in conceptual space, and of moments in conceptual time, Bergson argues, subsists a foundation of undifferentiated states which he calls *‘duration’ (—durée)…

beneath these sharply cut crystals and this frozen surface, a continuous flux which is not comparable to any flux I have ever seen. There is a succession of states, each of which announces that which follows and contains that which precedes it. (25)

 

*—Duration, then, constitutes ‘one reality’,—seemingly paradoxically comprised of a continual flux of successive ‘states’.

 

 

*—We are originally made aware of this flux, according to Bergson, through our consciousness of our own personality (—internal intuition) and (then, subsequently) extend the principle to the outer phenomena of perception (—external intuition).

 

—apparently autonomous, these… states nonetheless interpenetrate, containing all those states which precede them and unfolding ineluctably into all those which are to follow.

 

The ‘states’ of duration constitute neither a simple multiplicity, nor a simple unity, but, ‘instead of being distinct, as they are in any other [comparable form of] multiplicity, encroach upon one another.’ (30)—They constitute ‘a continuity of elements which prolong themselves into one another’, a continuity which ‘participates in unity as much as in multiplicity; but this moving, changing, colored, living unity has hardly anything in common with the abstract, motionless, and empty unity which the concept of pure unity circumscribes.’(30-31.—Cf. Bergson, Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell [New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1998],—1-7. … )

 

*—the flux of duration represents an undivided continuity of states’. …

 

 

*—It’s the undivided continuity of this flux which the concepts rend asunder through the what Bergson (again,—with echoes of Nietzsche) characterises as the *imposition of—artistically projected—individuated forms … —

Pure intuition, external or internal, is that of an undivided continuity. We break up this continuity in the one case to distinct words, in the other to independent objects. But, just because we have thus broken the unity of our original intuition, we feel ourselves obliged to establish between the served terms a bond which can only be external and superadded.

*(—Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer [London: Swan Sonnenchein & Co., Ltd, 1911],—239)

 

—The concepts are generated through the formation and (importantly) the false hypostatisation of words *(… —an echo of Nietzsche’s account of the formation of language in ‘On Truth’), and of independent (that is —apparently discrete) objects. …

 

*—Once fragmented, for any form of discourse to be possible, it becomes necessary, Bergson argues, to artificially form bonds between these—severed entities. …

 

—and this, ultimately, is the role (—the purpose-goal) of ‘analysis’. … (—cf. CE, 4)

 

*(and, again,… —I think that this is significant for my current reading of Lacan’s ‘mirror stage’. …)

*—For Bergson, these bonds, whatever their use value (for language and for action), can in no way afford access to the underlying flux, but are, and must remain, external epiphenomena. …

*(and, again,… —this echoes Nietzsche’s critique of the conceptual quasi-Platonic prostheses to experience in-of the ‘On Truth’ essay. … ).

 

[…]

 

*(—for my attempt to elaborate my reading of Bergson on time & flux, through a reading of ‘The Slow Mo Guys’ slow motion videos, see the original blog post. … ).

 

*… —the shattering of these prejudices-conceptual (—of habit-inertia)… —is what, for Bergson, as it had been for Nietzsche, is at stake in ‘intuition’ (—vs. the concepts of the intellect)—as method. …

 

 

*on ‘intuition’, then,—as method. …

 

*Bertrand Russell very beautifully summarises what he (rightly.—why not?) calls Bergson’s ‘ingenious’ conception of the intellect and his conceptions of ‘matter’ and of ‘time’. …

Intelligence or intellect, “as it leaves the hands of nature, has for its chief object the inorganic solid”; it can only form a clear idea of the discontinuous and immobile; its concepts are outside each other like objects in space, and have the same stability. The intellect separates in space and fixes in time; it is not made to think evolution, but to represent becoming as a series of states [. …] Solid bodies, it would seem, are something which mind has created on purpose to apply the intellect to them.

[…]

The genesis of intellect and the genesis of material bodies, we are told, are correlative; both have been developed by reciprocal adaptation. “An identical process must have cut out matter and the intellect, at the same time, from a stuff that contained both.”

*(—Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy [London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1961],—758).

 

*—‘matter’, then (—so-called)—as a product-creation of the intellect—as that which falls away from duration—from-through its own inertia.

*(… —frozen-carved (away.—‘Solid bodies’) from duration, in order that the intellect—that the subject (as subject) be able to function at all…).

 

*(and this is the same for good ol’ Fritz, I think. …

 

*—‘matter’,—the subject (—the ‘I’-the ‘self’),—the body (as whole-discrete)… (again)—creations of the intellect—as all that which falls away (so to) from flux. …).

 

indeed.

 

 

*though, to my mind, he offers what is still by far one of the most sharp and clear readings of Bergson, Russell, I think, is mistaken in the charges of ‘irrationalism’ and the anti-intellectualism, which he lays against him. …

*(—see Russell, 756 and 762, respectively… ).

 

 

Russell is too dismissive and too reductive. …

 

—I think Russell’s charge of ‘irrationalism’ represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the terms of Bergson’s critique of the intellect, but in a way which is actually genuinely useful to me here and illuminating for my reading of Nietzsche…

 

 

*for Bergson, as for Nietzsche… —we are (all of us) trapped in language. …

 

—locked. in (within) the inadequacies—the limits—of language…

 

*—of the fragments (of things) in space,… —in the atoms (in-)of ‘time. …

 

—for both, there can be no —complacency in (with regard to) language. …

 

—there must, for both, by contrast, be always a (fundamental) wariness-mistrust

*(—of the ability-capacity to ever truly say (have said) anything).

 

 

—no,… sitting still in the arbitrary, illusory, inadequate and ineluctably failing quanta (in-) of language. …

 

language.—as something entered into,… —not (never) as something possessed. …

(—something (sic) thrust into (into which, then, we are thrust). unavoidably.—in-volun-tarily but—necessarily. …). …

 

‘analysis’ (—the intellect) rends asunder the flux of the continuity of ‘states’.

 

*—just as for Nietzsche, in his account of the origins of language in ‘On Truth’, for Bergson language emerges as a process of metaphorical transposition:

*—from the original (sense) stimulus, through the word (—the sound), in-to the abstract concept. …

 

 

*—Modernist poet and critic T.E. Hulme, in his essays-articles on Bergson’s philosophy, argues that these metaphors ‘soon run their course and die. But it is necessary to remember that when they were first used by the poets who created them they were used for the purpose of conveying over a vividly felt actual sensation.’

*(—T.E. Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’ in Speculations: Essays on Humanism and the Philosophy of Art, ed. Herbert Read, with a Frontispiece and Foreword by Jacob Epstein [London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1924],—141-169 [151] ).

 

 

Just as for Nietzsche, for Hulme (—following Bergson… )—language originally emerges from a need to articulate a vividly felt sensible stimulus—an internal or external ‘intuition’.

 

 

*—When this initial stimulus and artistic projection have passed, the metaphor (the word) can then, itself pass into popular usage (—becomes, then, a concept). …

 

—It becomes hypostatised and its artistic origins are forgotten. …

 

—The metaphor reaches the end of its capacity to articulate the ‘vividly felt actual sensation’ and becomes a mere ‘counter’,—akin to the pieces in a game of chequers, to be manipulated (‘moved about’) according to the demands of practical utility.

*(—Cf. Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’ 151-152, 159-162, 165-166 and ‘The Philosophy of Intensive Manifolds,’ 176. … —The metaphor is also crucial to the notes gathered together under the title of ‘Cinders’,—215-245).

 

*For Bergson, the aim of intuition as method is to ‘recover [the] contact with the real,’ severed in the formation of concepts and of ‘analysis,’ and to ‘restore intuition to its original purity’.

*(—Matter and Memory, 241. Cf. Gille Deleuze, Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam [New York: Zone Books, 1988], 13-35 (—esp. 14), and Suzanne Guerlac, Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006], 63-64:

‘This is what Bergson is trying to do: to bring to philosophical awareness what has been absolutely repressed by thought and is structurally inaccessible to it’. (—63) ).

 

 

*—Echoing Nietzsche’s claim for the necessity of the redemption of the intellect through ‘forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts’ in ‘On Truth,’… Bergson argues that intuition is ‘only truly itself when it goes beyond the concept, or at least when it frees itself from rigid and ready-made concepts in order to create a kind very different from those which we habitually use.’ (—Bergson, Introduction to Metaphysics,—30)

 

The aim of intuition, then, is, by an ‘effort,’ to break through the artificial surface of the conceptual and regain the undivided continuity of flux (—duration), and what Bergson dubs ‘the intention of life’: … —‘the simple movement that runs through the lines, that binds them together and gives them significance.’

*(— Creative Evolution,—176-177. Cf. Introduction to Metaphysics,—21-22 and Hulme, ‘Bergson’s Theory of Art,’—144, where the passage is reproduced verbatim… ).

 

*Bergson, and Hulme following him, dub this the *‘aesthetic intuition’, and both view art as the paragon of the attempt to lacerate the conceptual and to bring back new forms (new language, new metaphors, new images and new concepts) from the flux of duration—an (ironic) re-birth and appropriation of the intellect

 

*importantly, then… —rather than a form of straightforward ‘irrationalism’ or anti-intellectualism, as Russell’s reading would suggest—intuition, then, *(as method) represents an attempt (perhaps invariably ill-fated.—inevitably fails-failing), to appropriate the process of the formation of language and the concepts—the intellect (—‘analysis’).—from in-within. *—in the laceration and return. —and to revivify. …

*(—to revivify language—the concepts of the intellect—and to turn to account. …): …

 

*—‘This intention is just what the artist tries to regain in placing himself back within the object by a kind of sympathy and breaking down by an effort of intuition the barrier that space puts between him and his model.’

*(—Creative Evolution,—177.—Cf. Hulme, 144. Hulme goes on to refer to the artist’s shattering of the conceptual and experience of flux as the ‘essentially aesthetic emotion’ [145]. Cf. also 149-150 and 161-162).

 

 

*Lacan & the Question of the ‘real’ reading group: By way of a sort of an introduction to Lacan himself. … *brief notes, … —from a lecture on Lacan.

*(—follows on from *‘—notes of a dilettante attempting to read Lacan,… —an Introduction an Invitation to this Lacan & the question of the ‘real’ reading group thread. … ).

 

 

By way of a sort of an introduction to Lacan himself. …
*brief notes, …
—from a lecture on Lacan.

 

*—the following, then, is what’s left (over) from notes for lectures I gave on Lacan on the course on ‘Critical Theory’ I gave (taught) in the Drama Department at Queen Margaret University,—between 2008 and 2010. …

 

*… —the lectures were intended as a (very) basic introduction to Lacan’s thought.

 

—going back,… there’s not a great deal of substance in the notes *(—I think I riffed a great deal in delivering the actual lecture). …

 

… —a lot of what remains in the copy of the notes that I still have to hand has to do with contextualising Lacan in terms of the other thinkers and philosophers we were studying on the ol’ Crit. Theory course: Saussure and Barthes on Semiology and Structuralism, and Freud, in particular,—as well as setting up for Derrida, deconstruction, post-structuralism, (and so on… ).

 

… —I have, in the main, cut most of that material here, in the interests of clarity and brevity,—but I thought it was worth reproducing the notes here:

 

… —partly for ol’ – time’s – sake (—hell, … why ever not, ‘ey… —?),

 

and-but also—mainly—because it represents my first (—only, really) thoroughgoing (academic) engagement with Lacan, and an attempt to introduce and explain his thought clearly, and hopefully interestingly-engagingly *(though I’m not s’ sure such was the case f’ the poor fuckers I wus teachin’ ‘n’ tha- …), for-to an audience-readership new-fresh to him, and thus pulls out (so to) those things-concepts-ideas (—sic) that formed my own interest-focus at the time and the simplest, clearest… description of ‘em, of which I was capable. …

 

* … —part of what the lectures were trying to do was to set-up close-reading, and discussion workshop-seminars on ‘The Mirror Stage’,… and, since tha-s what we’re setting up to do here, it seemed sort-a… apt. …       

 

*—a curio, then, (of sorts). …

 

*—I hope that it proves useful—still—as a brief introduction to Lacan himself, and to one or two key ideas-themes. …

 

 

—In attempting to develop and refine these notes here, I owe debts, in particular, to Rob Lapsley’s introductory essay on ‘Psychoanalysis’, and to Huw Jones’s entry on Lacan in Simon Malpas and Paul Wake (eds) The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory, Routledge 2006, *—in which I also happen to have been published (with entries on ‘Northrop Frye’ and ‘Carl Jung’, those delightful maniacs … ), and which I’d recommend as a reference, study, and teaching resource: … —the essays and glossary are short, clear, and concise, and give great introductions to thinkers, concepts and areas-modes of thought. …

Routledge Companion to Crit. Theory

 

 

So, …

 

Lacan.

*Jacques Lacan (1901–1981). … —French psychoanalyst and intellectual. …

 

background:

 

Lacan has (had) a number of important historical and (often) personal overlaps with the most significant intellectual and artistic movements and figures of the early C20th. …

 

*(For example… )—During (what we now think of-characterise as) the inter-war period, Lacan associated with important artistic and intellectual figures such as: André Breton, Georges Bataille, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso. …

 

—He published in the Surrealist journal Minotaure, and attended the first public reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

 

*—Importance, then of a formative influence of, and relation to, Modernism *(—plastic and literary arts), and esp. to Surrealism. …

*(… —seen to colour his thought (so to). … ).

 

*—Early interest in the philosophies of Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger and attended the incredibly influential seminars on Hegel’s philosophy given by Alexandre Kojève.

 

—Lacan’s (awareness of, and relationship to) contemporary emergence of Existentialism, and Existentialist philosophy *(—esp. Bataille, with whom he had a… troubled personal relationship), Sartre, and de Beauvoir. …

 

—Also,… —importance of revolutionary politics in ‘60s France.

*(—Lacan encouraged students to participate—and, indeed, facilitated this participation—but was careful to distinguish his own ‘revolt’ (so to) from mainstream politics. …)

 

*—Lacan as Parisian intellectual.

(—Paris as artistic and intellectual centre-focal point in early C20th. … ).

 

*—It’s from this important time, and this… nexus of artistic and cultural influences that Lacan’s thought emerged and developed.

 

 

… whilst (of course… ) best-known for his work in(-on) psychoanalysis, and as an analyst (himself),… Lacan’s intellectual influence extends well beyond *clinical psychoanalytic practice, to the study of (amongst other things-subjects): philosophy, literature, politics & ideology, and (… —of course,… —and very usefully for our current purposes) to *Critical Theory (—there it is. … … ).

 

*—inf. of thought (esp. on language) on ‘poststructuralism’: Derrida, Foucault, and (also) on feminism: (most notably, perhaps,) Julia Kristeva. …

 

 

—In his own (—idiosyncratic) practice of psychoanalysis, Lacan lay emphasis on its primary purpose being that of the treatment of a patient’s suffering.

*(… —a practical purpose, that is,… —with philosophical, literary, critical, political, artistic (… —&c.) ends or purposes, therefore having a secondary status. … ).

 

(…) —As different forms of suffering are seen to arise according to the influence—the particular conditions—of time and place (space), Lacan argued that psychoanalysis had to constantly evolve *[/—be evolving], in order to address these, continually changing, and therefore [always] new circumstances and developments *(—in the conditions of the suffering of patients). …

 

—He emphasised the singularity, then, and the individuality of each patient [/—the conditions of each patient’s suffering], and of each session of treatment with the patient. …

 

*—In this sense [/—for this reason] there is no [/—we cannot properly talk of there being] a *“Lacanian system”:

 

…rather,… each of his seminars was different *(—i.e.: … —not intended to—add up to a total work or comprehensive/total (philosophical/psychoanalytic) system. … ).

 

As such (/As a result … ),—It’s important to note that, in his career/-lifetime, Lacan published no actual books or finished (whole-entire,—concrete) works. …

 

*—Such work(s) as now bear his name (—in print) are, in fact, comprised of *transcriptions of seminars which he delivered (between 1948 and 1980). …

*(… —tie back to Saussure [—Course in General Linguistics]?, and bring up problem of authorship, and of a remove from authorship and *authority. … (—?): ‘d be useful when we get on to Derrida. …

 

—?).

 

*Lacan’s most important-significant and influential ‘works’ (so to speak/sic), then,… are… gathered together (—better way of saying that? … —collated. … —?) in *Écrits *(… —first published in 1966, and available in English translation in a reduced-edited-selected (and therefore selective) form in Écrits: A Selection *(available from Routledge),—first published in 1977, but now in a complete edition, translated (and annotated) by Lacan scholar Bruce Fink: *Jacques Lacan, Écrits, trans. Bruce Fink (London: W.W. Norton & Company, Ltd., 2006)… *(—wave the bloody book at ‘em. … ). … ), and especially the opening essay of the volume:

*—‘The Mirror Stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience’

(or,… —‘The Mirror Stage’, for (merciful) brevity. … ), which will be the focus of our own reading-study here. …

 

 

Lacan viewed his (idiosyncratic, psychoanalytic) work as a *return to the tradition in or of psychoanalytic criticism and practice, begun by (none other than) Sigmund Freud (and… —there he is ol’ Ziggy,—whom we’ve already read-studied-looked at-considered. … ).

 

And Freud is the most important and profound influence on Lacan and Lacanian thought.

 

—Lacan saw this tradition as having (essentially) been corrupted by Freud’s’’Freudian’,—North American, exponents-accolytes, after his influence spread-crossed the Atlantic.

*(…

 

—there’s an interesting historical-fictional take on Freud’s own visit to the States in E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime *(—a brilliant novel), for any interested (in such things). … —?).

 

—In his influential seminars (—begun, privately, in 1951, becoming public in ’53, and continuing for 27 years) Lacan ‘returned’ to, and re-read Freud’s works,—in relation to contemporary philosophy, linguistics, ethnology, biology, and topology. …

 

*—So,… whilst I won’t dwell (here—for our current purposes) on the nature and details of the adoption (or, in Lacan’s terms,—expropriation (perhaps) of Freud over in the ol’ States (there),… —it’s worth bearing in mind the details of our own reading-study of Freud, as we go along here…

*[—briefly recap. … ]. …

 

 

*(N.B. … *—I’m being selective and offering a summary here for our current study, but it is fair to say, I think, that: … ) Lacan can be seen, in the main, to have made two crucial contributions to psychoanalysis *(in particular), and (—more widely) to the theory of human subjectivity:

 

 

*key ideas-concepts:

 

I.—‘the mirror stage’. …

 

—The first is the concept of ‘the mirror stage’ itself (—hence our focus … ), in which he put forward his account of the original formation of the ego *(— = “I” …). *[—ref. Freud.—? … ].

 

 

(in short. … )

—A child (—an infant. *—prior to development of instrumental intelligence-engagement-activity) recognises itself as(-in) the image it sees in a mirror.

*[—ref. debate over when (exactly) this: … ‘event’ takes place (… —around six months, is it… —?), and the efficacy of Lacan’s reading. … —?].

 

*… —Lacan argues that the child, in[/within] this moment or instance, *—misrecognises itself as the unified, coherent, singular, mirror image. …

 

 

—He argues that physical (—i.e. bodily) and psychical/(or)psychological unity, then,… are dependent upon the resulting, and fundamental, error in the child’s (—the subject’s) perspective. …

 

—Following ol’ Ziggy Freud—and particularly Freud’s early conception of ego-formation *(—especially up to point-time of the ‘Narcissism’ essay),… —Lacan saw ‘the mirror stage’ (and, consequently,—the formation of the ego itself) as a moment of (essentially) narcissistic self-misrecognition, founded(/-grounded) in a self-idealisation *(—and the term Ideal/ideal (—idealisation) which prove crucial to us in our own discussion of Lacan. … ).

 

*—The child(-infant), then,—identifies itself with an image of unity and of completeness [finality… —?]—an ideal which it anticipates, but which it will—and cannot—ever hope to (properly) embody. …

 

*—(As with Freud, and this will prove important in-to our study of Derrida: … ) No human being (that is) can ever hope to fully coincide with an(—the) ideal. …

 

 

Self-understanding (/self-comprehension), in this sense, then,… is seen as/—is revealed to be  … —a form of misunderstanding,… —ironically undermining or undercutting (so to) any claims to self-identity or self-knowledge. …

*(… —link to, and recapit., study of Nietzsche and Freud in particular, and to both Marx and Barthes,… particularly in-through L.’s influence on the study of *ideology… *—projection of ideals onto subject—forming-informing the subject, then,—from without. … ).

 

 

II.—language. …

The second of Lacan’s key contributions to the theory of subjectivity was (in) his *(later) adoption of the terms of Saussure’s critique of language: … —Semiology/(or) Semiotics.

*[and, again,… —(briefly) recapit. reading-study of Saussure (—to refresh). … ].

 

Language, Lacan argues,—building on elements of his theory of ‘the mirror stage’, both *joins subjects together—as it allows them to communicateand yet also (and, importantly,—at the same time … ) serves to *separate them: —communication is never complete. …

 

… —Just as we saw in-for Saussure, and his account of the ‘denaturalising’ of language and its arbitrary or shifting nature (—as coincidence of thought and sound… —of signifier and signified … )… Lacan argues that meaning is shifting, and is only constructed through a system of differences. …

 

(—in (roughly) psychoanalytic terms… )

—At different stages of in-of analysis, patients ascribe entirely different meanings to earlier episodes or utterances. …

 

This is where Lacan becomes an influence on the study of art (specifically literature) (and hence drama—?)

 

 

—If reinterpretation is always possible ((that is)—if the event or text itself is—can never be—finished, self-identical,—complete … ), then there can be no (such thing as a)—final reading.

 

—In different contexts, and at-in different times and/or places, that is, artworks can assume entirely different meanings. …

 

*—For Lacan, then,… —the meaning of an artwork (always) comes from the future. …

 

 

For Lacan, the speaking subject can never put everything into words. … —They, at once, (always) say, on the one hand, more than they intend to

*[—this is tied to Freud’s conception of the inevitable return of the repressed, and compensation structures: … —jokes, verbal slips, etc. … ].

and (and—at the same time) … less than they intend to say *(—there is always something missing, something that it is impossible to put into words-to say. … ).

 

—The unconscious can never be fully verbalised, and, as result, psychoanalytic treatment/analysis is always endless-interminable. …

 

There is always something that it’s impossible to say… —some form of remainder or unspoken. …

 

—The subject is always between signifiers, and cannot attain self-identity.

*(—This element of Lacan’s thought most of all is a profound influence on the thought which will follow him: poststructuralism—especially the work of Jacques Derrida, and that of Michel Foucault, as well as Feminism—such as in the work of Julia Kristeva, as well as Gender and Queer Theory, each of which we will be studying next semester. … ).

 

The results of this are two other key Lacanian concepts. …

 

I.—*Alienation.

 

—To be a subject, the subject must (try to) identify themselves with a  signifier, even though it is impossible for them to ever fully coincide with it.

 

Prior to its birth, the human infant is spoken of with hopes, fears, and desires, and is assigned an identity: … —is given a (proper) name. …

 

—This name acts as a summons to the child to adopt an identity not of its own making or choosing, and which, then, embodies an—ideal. …

 

This summons,… —the impossibility of its fulfilment, and the sensed imposition of an ideal… give rise to Alienation. … —Although there is no (sense of) ‘self’ prior to the assignment of a name, the subject revolts (on some level—so to speak … ): … rebels, then, against the assignment-imposition of the ideal as betrayal, or a loss, of their ‘true self’. …

 

 

II.—*Separation.

 

The sense of something having been lost gives rise, for Lacan,—to desire. …

 

—The child’s (—the infant’s) existence(-experience) is delimited by its entrance into signification, and a feeling is born that there must be more to existence than the role assigned to them (—to the subject) by society and by signification.

 

… —From the moment of their entrance into society and the chain of signification, the subject is in search of something they feel themselves to be lacking. …

 

Lacan argues,—pessimistically, that this search is (—will always have been)—in vain. …

 

—The ‘object’ (so-called) of the search never truly existed, nor could ever truly exist. …

 

 

*—There will be (-have been) a perpetual gap,—between the enjoyment of whatever the subject finds (will have found) to fill the place of the ‘lost object’, and the enjoyment that they will have anticipated. …

 

—Existence falls short (inevitably) (—of imagination). …

 

 

*—The most common form of this kind of fantasising (—of coinciding, or of identity, with the ‘lost object’) is romance. …

 

*—Lovers imagine that the other embodies the ‘lost object’, and will (—can) make good the feeling of a lack.

 

Lovers, Lacan argues, bring to each other not what will make good the lack, but (in fact) the lack itself.

 

*Hence one of Lacan’s key axioms: *—there is no sexual relation.

 

*Rather than accept or confront this (nonetheless unavoidable) reality, Lacan argues,—we take refuge in fantasy.

 

 

*—The concepts, then,—of the imposition of the ideal, alienation, and the lack and (in) the Other, will prove crucial in-to our study of Critical Theory, and, more particularly (for our current purposes), to our reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. …

 

 

*Introduction to a new reading group on the work of Jacques Lacan & the question of the ‘real’. …

The Thinker (oil on canvas, 135cm x 90cm) Nov. 14 2014

Kate Brinkworth, The Thinker (oil on canvas), Nov. 2014

 

*the ‘real’ reading group.
(so to).
– LACAN & (THE QUESTION OF) THE “REAL” –

I.

By way of a sort of an introduction. …

—Why Lacan (as the subject for an on-line reading group),
—& why the question of the ‘real’… —? …
*—notes of a dilettante (attempting to read Lacan). …

 

*… —In early July of this year, I had a conversation with Kate Brinkworth,—a brilliant artist (as well as being a lecturer for Winsor & Newton on colour and pigment), over on-via Twitter (—@katebrinkworth). …

—Kate and I have been following each other for a while now, after I’d discovered her work on-over Twitter, shared-re-posted it. and commented on how much I admired (—admire) it.

 

*—Kate paints fantastic photorealist work that focusses particularly on close-up still lifes of (seemingly) mundane-everyday objects.

 

 

I was drawn in particular, I think, to the sheer craft in-of her work… —the sharp, clear… cleanliness of her style,… her (extremely close-exhaustive) attention to detail and the… almost uncanny precision or accuracy of the scale and detail of her rendition of objects and conditions of light and shade, and the illusion of… naturalness (for want) and spontaneity-chance, in her, in fact, very carefully staged compositions

*(—as if each painting—the subject of each of her paintings—is, simply,  a… caught moment (so to),… —incidentally happened upon, and recorded, unsentimentally and without judgment, with a ‘photographic’-encyclopaedic faithfulness in-to each-and-all of its (depth of) details. …

 

… —a—to me—near-perfect rendition of objects,—of light and time (—of time picked out and evoked in-through light), and of a (clean, compelling) sense of space. … ).

*(—see The Thinker, above. … ).

 

 

*—Our correspondence was triggered by Kate’s having tweeted an image from her most recent work: a series of images depicting cast die and gambling chips. …

 

*—. There’s a… (characteristic) sharpness (—cleanness), clarity, and precision in Kate’s rendering of the die, coupled, in these works, with their kind of borderline tacky plastic glamour—captured in the rich, sharp, almost neon colour palette, the texture of the surface on which they rest, and the subdued, ‘mood’-lighting (and shadow). …

 

 

… —It’s the… care,… —precision, clarity and exactness of observation, scale, space, and perspective that I admire in Kate’s work.

 

*—I find that it… chimes (so to—sic) with the commitment-fidelity to lived-experience-the everyday, and the focus on… unpacking everyday psychological experience, capturing it in-within the ‘image’, and thus being able to fully incorporate it, that I see as being at stake in Nietzsche’s writing on art (in light of, and in relation to the development of his philosophy), and in the aesthetic theories, manifestoes, prose, and poetry of the self-styled neo-classical Modernists (—James Joyce, T.E. Hulme, Ezra Pound, and the Imagist poets in particular).

*(which I’m (still, yes,… still) in the midst of trying to unpack for myself,—over on the main thread of this BLOG/writing project. … ).

 

*Also. … —these are the…  (what?… ) qualities (?),… values, (sic) I feel, to which I’m trying  aspire in my own, semi-autobiographical, psychologically realist, experimental prose-poetry *(which I’m still in the midst of trying to get published, and at least one example of-from which can be found elsewhere on this blog).

 

 

I asked Kate what the influences of-behind her photo-realism were (are). …

 

She replied, posting a link to her (artist’s) website, and to her commentary on the emergence and development of her style. …

*(—the full text can be found here: http://katebrinkworth.com/about-us/ *[as accessed on 22-07-2015]. … ).

 

 

*in her artist’s bio, Kate talks about the origins of her work in her study of ‘the construction of […] film’ in a way, I think, that illuminates the qualities I most admire in her work: …

*—‘How do light, shadow, camera angle, focus, objects and location play a part in intriguing and capturing your imagination, enabling the viewer to pick up on the essence of an idea and sparking off their imagination so they themselves bring something to the viewing experience’?

 

*… —light, shadow, angle (—both geometric, and the occupying of a particular perspective), (the intensity, or clarity of) focus, then, as (both) capturing, and evoking (—evocative of) a broader, narrative context. …

 

*… —that a careful selection, and arrangement in a space, of the right (—the correct) things, with the correct lighting conditions and (thus) tone and atmosphere—pathos (—an absolute—rigorous—artistic economy, then, posing (-posed), so to, somehow as (as if) found—naturally,—arbitrarily. …) can fulfil the function—realise what it would take the full unfolding—of a film (—the full revelation or exposition of a broader narrative-narrative context) to create: in a single, pure, carefully-rigorously constructed, clean, economic *image. …

 

 

Golden Dollar (oil on canvas, 150cm x 100cm) April 28, 2014

Kate Brinkworth, Golden Dollar (oil on canvas, 150cm x 100cm) April 28, 2014

 

… —Kate writes that she began, then, to ‘set up my own stills, engage in my own ideas’…

 

*(and I like the idea of the transformation or evolution of film stills into still lifes-paintings (phtotorealism). …)

 

… —‘I began to collect objects that would enable me to do this, dice, insects, cameras, letters, papers, anything I could find that had a sense of intrigue about it. I then played around with setting up small still lifes, lighting them differently, changing the focal point to emphasise a certain item and then working these into paintings. I became more involved in the process of this, enjoying the translation of light into paint, the properties of pigments and the challenge of photorealism’. (my emph, M.D.B.)

 

And what’s important here, I’d argue (at least—for me), is the idea-concept of translating light—of transposing experience into a still image, through the capturing of light states. …

 

Interestingly, Kate writes that she: ‘can get more detail into a painting than I can from a photograph, I can enhance and play around with oversaturated colour and light.’ …

 

 

*—Photorealism, then, … passes over, seemingly at the exact moment of its perfect realisation, into a sort-a form of hyperrealism. …

 

*(that is…) —at the moment of its perfect self-becoming, or—self-realisation,… photorealism collapses (out of itself)—forward (outward),… —into a portrayal or transposition that becomes more ‘real’ than the ‘real’ (itself). …

*(—the perfect transposition of the ‘real’ in (—into-within) the image becomes more—becomes (the) hyperreal. …

 

—the image—the artistic model—shorn of its tethers in-to the ‘real’, … and becomes something more (more than the) ‘real’. … —? … ).

 

 

—This notion-idea of the clean, definite, image,… —able to evoke, through its portrayal (capturing) of light (states), and perspective, a broader narrative than its composition might immediately suggest,… —more, richer (—sharper) detail than is possible in a film-the photograph—developed in Kate’s work…

*—‘I began to bring the story more to the forefront with the use of black and white imagery, stripping away colour, leaving objects or locations as the central element but at the same time introducing a person. Who is the character behind the card game? Who is ‘The Thinker’ exploring the material world under a magnifying glass? Who wrote the letter? Or as the image is often a point-of-view shot, is it actually you the viewer?’

 

—At the point at which the image becomes more than (the) ‘real’, the emphasis shifts from the composition of the image itself to the image’s viewer or reader. …

 

*—ultimately, the ‘photoreal’-become hyperreal, brings the (figure of the) ‘viewer’ (themselves) into question:

 

*—the relationship, then,—of the viewer to the ‘real’. …

 

So, …

 

As I say (said). …

 

—I was fascinated, in a way in which I’ve only just begun to fully work out or through in drafting-writing (typing. down) all this here, in what Kate wrote about how her photorealism’s *turn into hyperrealism *(—at the point-the moment of its self-becoming—capturing of the ‘real’), —and I said so to her (over Twitter)

(hell.—why ever not, hmm? … ).

 

 

She replied, saying that, in some new-prospective work that she was (—is) planning, she wants to investigate the concept of the ‘real’, … *—especially through the work of Jacques Lacan. …

 

 

(hmm)

 

—. Though my background (academic.—under- and postgraduate, and published) is in (what-is-referred to-as) ‘Theory’ (—Critical Theory, to give it its full, & somewhat dubious (I think) name) and in Philosophy & Literature, including reading-studying and writing on psychoanalysis … I’ve never had the opportunity to study Lacan in any ongoing,—thoroughgoing, formal academic way-sense, but have spent a long time reading him (independently-autonomously), and, indeed, I lectured on his thought on some honours degree courses in Contemporary Theatre, Drama, and Critical Theory, which I wrote and ran at Queen Margaret University, between 2008 and 2010.

*(JE-SUS.—I hadn’t realised that it was quite as long ago as 5-7 years already. …

 

Jesus. … … ).

 

 

* … —There’s something in Lacan: … —something in (the development) of his account of the formation of the ego (—the “I”. … ) and its being… mired (so to) in the subject’s being thrust into (pre-existing,… —pre-egoistical) language), his return to Freud, and fusion of his insights on-concerning Freud with his reading of Saussure’s Semiology and its account of language, …

 

—something that, I think, might serve to bring together, and to clarify (—to help perfect, for want) all the ideas that are at stake in Nietzsche, Joyce, Bergson, and Hulme (—in neo-classical Modernism) (at least, in the way I’ve read-been reading them, in my doctoral thesis, and over on the main thread of the blog project: The Fold of the Artist). …

 

—something that, now, I feel, it would be extremely useful for me to commit myself (however casually-occasionally) to unpacking and setting down (—attempting, at least provisionally, to articulate). …

 

 

 

*Intrigued, I asked Kate if she would like someone to read over Lacan with,—with a view to understanding (the question of) the ‘real’ in Lacan’s work, and to helping her develop her (future) work. …

 

*(…

 

—recently, I’ve been commissioned by Charioteer Theatre *[link], as a freelance writer, to produce two education packs for their forthcoming production of two adaptations of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (—to be staged in the Piccolo Theatre, Milan in 2016, and then, subsequently, touring Italy and Scotland). …

 

I also had an (in the end abortive) meeting-interview with a successful Scottish theatre company to work, as a freelance Content Editor/Researcher, on a project collating, editing, and uploading the history of their productions (notes, audience figures and feedback, press and promotional materials, flyers, programs, &c.) to an online archive. …

 

—and I think, at the moment, having failed to find the kind of community and welcome reception of… more idiosyncratic work-research (so to) in academia, that this is the kind of work-project that I want to be doing: … *—collaborating with artists (of whatever hue-persuasion) on philosophical and intellectual, as well as practical, research and writing, with a view to fostering and bolstering new artistic work. …

 

For me, it’s also a throw-back to the… edifying spirit (so to) of the reading group on-of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit in which I participated as an undergraduate (back at ol’ Manchester Metropolitan University), and to the communal reading-writing and research presentation culture, which I shared with friends on the MA in Philosophy & Literature during my time at The University of Warwick, … —the spirit of both of which I failed (sadly, and frustratingly) to find-rekindle (despite many—(what felt like) fevered—attempts) during my doctoral studies in-at Edinburgh. …

 

… —by hook, or by fuckin’ crook,… —I will  forge the kind of intellectual artistic community I’ve been looking for. … (&c.) ).

 

 

Kate said yes.

 

 

—the reading group, then. …

 

And so, …

 

—this current (—this new) project was born: … *—The ‘real’ reading group. (so to).

 

 

*I also managed, shortly thereafter, to rope in another of my Twitter-made friends: Emma Paulet (@Emmahgerd), who I met when she liked and followed the main thread of the blog project here.

 

*—Emma’s own smart, self-deprecating(-lacerating) and beautiful experimental poetry, prose, and photography can be found over on her own blog: www.emmapaulet.wordpress.com

 

 

*—The(…) ‘aim’ (—in so far as there is any kind of an aim) here, then, I think, is to work, in quite an informal way, through various lectures-essays-pieces and concepts in-from the work of Lacan,—corresponding, electronically, mainly across Twitter, email, and this blog thread.

 

 

*—I’m going to take the liberty (having sought Kate and Emma’s permission(s)) to make use of this new thread on the blog to post my own notes-readings-thoughts-responses (—so that I’m obliged to at least try to formalise and to explain them, as clearly as I’m able. …), in the hopes that a-this string-thread on the Fold can form a kind of a… hub, for (—to collect) the readings-responses-thoughts-notes (&c.) of the others-others, and (thus)—a kind of running (and perhaps alarmingly cavalier and free-form) resource (I s’pose). …

 

—This will have been the first reading group I’ve participated in to be conducted over-through-from social media. …

 

 

*—We’re beginning (going to begin) at the beginning (or, perhaps rather,—the source, in Lacanian terms)—with ‘The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience’,—in-from *Jacques Lacan, Écrits, trans. Bruce Fink (London: W.W. Norton & Company, Ltd., 2006), *—pp. 75-81.

*(—at the start—the heart, really, I s’pose—of Lacan’s seminars. …. ).

Ecrits - The First Complete Edition in English (cover art).

 

—The rest, I think, we’ll decide (democratically, ‘n’ tha-) amongst ourselves, as a group, as we go along, keeping to the theme (and the concept) of the ‘real’. …

 

 

And so, (and so,—again)…

 

*—What follows-will follow here *(—my future post-posts in this thread), then, will form an attempt to go back over my lecture and notes on ol’ Jacques, and to try to salvage-rescue (—to pick out) any potentially useful notes-trivia-fragments that might remain (—whatever might prove useful as a (re-?)introduction, or a refresher on-to Lacan), and my own, faltering (yes… —inadequate) attempt to read through, and to make sense of, *—‘The Mirror Stage’.