*—towards a reading of Lacan’s ‘The Mirror Stage’. … —PART II. on ‘space fear’, & the ‘ideal’. …

 

*PART II. —on ‘space fear’ & the ‘ideal’. …

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

Introduction to Lacan: brief notes from a lecture on Lacan. …

Outline of a reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’.

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

*the ‘mirror stage’.
(—a brief summary of a reading so far, then). …

 

 

At a certain age, or stage of physical and psychological development (rather),… not yet having developed instrumental intelligence, or indeed physical independence,—the-an infant encounters a specular image of their own body in a mirror *(—mirrored surface. … thus—reflected.). …

 

… —the image presents the infant’s (—the subject’s) body to it in-through-as the form a total ‘outline’ (so to speak. … —a contour)… —it’s presented, then, as a gestalt: —a unity,… —more than the sum of its (manifold) parts (or—quanta). …

 

The infant becomes transfixed by-with the ‘total form’ in-of this specular image of the body, then, which mimics their own movements.

 

—The infant(/subject) recognises—(that is) validates and identifies itself with—the image.  

 

 

—It seeks to struggle free of the constraints presented by the adult (—the parent/guardian/carer), or its walker/carrier.

 

—to get closer to *(—to be alone with… —?) the image, and to try to *fix the ‘total form’ in-of image indelibly (—finally) in its mind. …

 

(That is,… )—The subject attempts to appropriate the image to itself (—to its physical and psychical life). …

 

 

*—The ‘total form’ of the image of the body in the mirror, however is a fiction.

 

 

—It’s constituted in the moment of the ‘mirror stage’, and has no existence, either prior to, or beyond (without-outwith) it. …

 

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

 

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

 

 

*an—awkward gesture (perhaps). …

 

I want to move on, by way of a sort of an aside (I s’pose) here, to consider what is meant by, and what is at stake in (-within) Lacan’s referring to the ‘mirror stage’ as revealing (or,… —referring the ‘mirror stage’ to the revelation of) an *‘ontological structure’. …

 

*… —I want to look at, and to try to define, the nature of what initially at least, appears to be a pre-linguistic and pre-egoistic flux; the nature of, and relationship between the ‘illusion’-mirage and the ‘ideal’; and what, finally (if anything) might be said to precede the mirror stage and to prompt it.

 

 

… —Over on(-in) the main thread of this blog: *—The fold of the Artist, which I’m adapting from material from my doctoral thesis on artistic inspiration and the figure of the artist in the works of James Joyce and Friedrich Nietzsche *(—in an extremely pretentious and foolhardy attempt to develop my own theory of art), I’ve already posted some work-material looking at some of these questions.

 

 

*—I’ve done some (—preliminary, and really, honestly, quite crude, partial, and… dilettantish) work on subjectivity, the emergence of the ego (= “I”) from language and an underlying pre-linguistic flux, in relation to Nietzsche’s early writing, and especially The Birth of Tragedy and the ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ essay.

 

—I’ve compared Nietzsche’s treatment of these questions in particular to the philosophy of Henri Bergson: … Bergson’s conception of language and/as the fiction of fixity in space and in-of time, the flux of ‘duration’, and ‘intuition’ (as philosophical method).

 

 

*—As I mentioned back in the more general introductory post to this reading group,… —I’ve only taught on Lacan,… —I’ve never actually engaged, directly and in-depth, with his work in my own studies – thesis. …

 

Nevertheless,—… for a long time-while now, I’ve had a… sense (sic) that Lacan *(and, in this instance, his account of ‘the mirror stage’) actually frames the problems, philosophical questions, ideas and concepts I found myself drawn to, and working on, in Nietzsche and Bergson (—as a way of framing my reading of the aesthetic theory in Joyce’s early fiction, and Modernist aesthetics and poetics more widely … ),—more clearly and in-with more depth. …

 

*… —the work I’ve already done, then, might help frame the way I want to read ‘The Mirror Stage’ (—the mirror stage) here, and, in a way,… —reading Lacan might help me (finally) to finish (or, at the very least, to address some of the issues and problems I had with) my doctoral thesis.

 

 

So,…

I want to crave you indulgence here, if you’ll allow me, fellow reading group readers, while I draw on some of the ideas I’ve already worked on (elsewhere) and some of the material I’ve already produced. …

 

 

*—in a series of shorter posts here, then,… I want to try to summarise, and to… fuse-bring together material from my doctoral thesis, and latterly the main thread (so to) on-of this blog—on Nietzsche and Bergson. …

 

*—Nietzsche on the intellect, language, the ‘I’ as fiction, and ‘intuition’:

… —examining the intellect, language, ‘intuition’, and account of the fiction of the ‘I’ in (—from early to later) Nietzsche.

 

 

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

… —examining ‘analysis’, language, ‘intuition’, and flux in Bergson’s philosophy.

 

 

What I’m interested in here are the… parallels (for want) in the accounts of language,… —thinghood (so to), and subjectivity (—the “I”. … ) as fictitious (—artistic, after a fashion) projections… —impositions of order on the underlying flux of an undivided continuity of ‘states’, between Nietzsche, Bergson, and Lacan.

 

 

*—More importantly (for the current reading of ‘The Mirror Stage’),…

 

—I’m interested in the question of what it is that *prompts these… impositions.

 

 

*… —I’ve been (ridiculously slowly and gingerly) working my way back through, amending and (hopefully) developing my work on and reading of Modernist poetics and aesthetics in my doctoral thesis, over on the main thread of this blog. …

 

—in what follows here,… I want to jump slightly ahead of myself (so to), and—in laying out my reading of the origins and the structure of the mirror stage (…)—to draw 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: …

*(—and so,… —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 for an ‘ early C20th political writing’ reading group of which I was a part under the title of: towards an Ethics of Friendship. … ).

 

*… —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’. …

 

 

—This, I hope, (in ways that I want to come back to and to clarify and develop later) will lay the groundwork for a reading of Lacan on ‘primary narcissism’ in (-of) ‘the mirror stage’.

 

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*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’.