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The Real Flo Post Final Copy

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The Real Flo Post Final Copy

  1. 1. 1 The order of the Real By David Carr The Real is one of three registries in the human psyche and a development stage of Lacan’s mirror phase theory. It is also involved in a process of symbolisation and centred on a loss of wholeness, and this emptiness at our core is the reason why we seek to be whole again. Simply put, the Real comes before symbolisation and provokes desire. The Real has a hard impenetrable kernel. I interpret this kernel as our shadow self, the deep dark place in our unconscious where unfulfilled desires, repressed memories and emotions are relegated by our ego. Watts believes that since sex is no longer a big taboo, the greatest taboo now is ‘the taboo against knowing who and what you really are beyond the mask of your apparently separate independent and isolated ego.’1 Anything our ego doesn’t like about itself it represses. As C.G. Jung stated, ‘people will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.’2 The ego ‘might give a feeling of permanence and stability to the subject, but this is an illusion.’3 The reason why this is important to understand is because of ‘the psychological rule,’ which C.G. Jung stated, says that ‘when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate.’4 Diagram courtesy of Eric Pettifor: 1 Watts, A.W., (1969), The Book The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Jonathan Cape Ltd, Great Britain, p.4 2 Jung, C.G., (1968), Psychology and Alchemy, Collected Works of Volume 12, Routledge, London, 2nd edition, p. 99 3 Benvenuto & Kennedy, (1986), The Works Of Jacques Lacan, Free Association Books, London, p. 62 4 Jung, C.G., (1979) Aion, CW 9ii, Gerhard Adler (Ed.), R.F.C. Hull (Trans.), Princeton University Press, (NJ), p. 126
  2. 2. 2 For Lacan, the Real is something that resists representation, is pre-mirror phase, and cannot be symbolised, or loses its reality once it is symbolised (made conscious) through language.5 It is ‘the aspect where words fail.’6 Miller describes it as, "the in-eliminable residue of all articulation, the foreclosed element, which may be approached, but never grasped: the umbilical cord of the symbolic."7 Concerning language Jeremy Campbell observes: One important property of language is that, while its symbols may be used to bring about physical results in the “real world” of substance, they need not be used for that purpose. Symbols can be decoupled from physical reality to a greater or lesser extent. Words are not deeds, though they often lead to deeds. Symbols can be manipulated to form new statements and expressions which are only tentative, playful, and figurative. Symbols are at liberty to be a little irresponsible and experimental.8 The Real cannot be expressed in language, because language introduces differences, denotation, connotation, and creates order.9 The order of the real is ‘a constant threat during both the symbolic and imaginary sections, lies outside the symbolic process, and can be found in the mental and material world.’10 It manifests in the form of ‘the trauma and determines all that follows despite appearing to be accidental.’11 A metaphor for the Real is the ‘creatio ex nihilo’ (God created order by His Word, the order was not inherent but imposed, which is exactly the way language works).12 In a way these theories pertain to a belief in a god or the soul. The euphemism for the Real today is the black hole, which makes the most sense. Like the Real, the black hole cannot be distinguished, but you can see the effects and impact it has on surrounding bodies and the galaxy as a whole. 5 Kristien, An Introduction to the Ideas of Jacques Lacan, http://www.kristien.be/docs/schrijfsels/lacanintro.pdf, accessed 12/05/14 6 Vogler, C., (Autumn 2001), Notes on Lacan. MAPH 301 Core Course., p. 2 7 Miller, J.A., (1961), (Trans.), The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. p. 280 8 Meggs, P.B., (1992), Type and Image: The Language of Graphic Design, A VNR book, John Wiley & Sons, p. 40 9 Kristien, An Introduction to the Ideas of Jacques Lacan, http://www.kristien.be/docs/schrijfsels/lacanintro.pdf, accessed 12/05/14 10 Bowie, Malcolm, 1991, Symbolic, Imaginary, Real …and True, Lacan, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, p. 94 11 Lacan, J., (1977), The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience, Ecritis: A Selection, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, p. 55 12 Kristien, An Introduction to the Ideas of Jacques Lacan, http://www.kristien.be/docs/schrijfsels/lacanintro.pdf, accessed 12/05/14
  3. 3. 3 For Lacan, this loss of wholeness, creates the object cause of our desire (objet petit a, part or partial, ‘in’ the object more ‘than’ the object).13 Because of Symbolisation, we lose the object cause of our desire (castration). In the Imaginary we construct a fantasy so we can learn how to live with this loss (the paradox is that objects simultaneously create and fulfil a lack). Fantasy is important because it ‘underpins reality’ and ‘offers respite against the destructive consequences of desire.’14 In our fantasies the object of our fantasy (object a) appears as within reach and dealt with in day dreams. This is why Pascal said, ‘we are only truly happy when dreaming about future happiness.’15 However the moment we get too close to the object of fantasy, we are brought back to the ugly Real, which can be a traumatic process for the psyche. Falling into the Real is like falling into psychosis. Lacan’s formula for this relation is $ ◊ a, where the subject can have many different relationships with the object (even fatal). This 'movement of Symbolisation' can be represented as follows:16 As we can see, through the object a (object of fantasy), the Symbolic Order refers back to the Real Order.17 For Lacan, ‘the price that has to be paid for communication/Symbolisation is the loss of the primordial object a, at which the subject's 13 Žižek, S., (1989), The Sublime Object of Ideology, Verso, London, p. 65 14 McGowan, T., (Winter, 2000), Finding Ourselves on a "Lost Highway”: David Lynch's Lesson in Fantasy, Cinema Journal, Vol. 39, No. 2 pp. 51-73, Published by: University of Texas Press on behalf of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1225552, accessed: 05/05/2014 09:01, p. 59 15 Ackerman, D., (2004), An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain, Simon and Schuster, US, p. 188 16 Kristien, An Introduction to the Ideas of Jacques Lacan, http://www.kristien.be/docs/schrijfsels/lacanintro.pdf, including illustration, accessed 12/05/14 17 Kristien, An Introduction to the Ideas of Jacques Lacan, http://www.kristien.be/docs/schrijfsels/lacanintro.pdf, accessed 12/05/14
  4. 4. 4 desire is pointed.’18 When the object of fantasy is approached too closely, if it doesn’t meet our expectations we project then we realise we do not or cannot have it. This breaks the ontology of the fantasy, which ‘can be a horrifying reality,’ but it ‘also makes Symbolisation possible.’19 The reason why we say ‘be careful what you wish for,’ is not because it might come true, it is because ‘you are doomed not to want it once you do.’20 Lacan’s theories are important because they teach us why we shouldn’t live by our wants and desires. This is because they are often not our own and if we do not control our thoughts and desires then someone else will. Eagleton highlighted this notion: ‘We desire what others unconsciously desire for us and desire can only happen because we are caught up in linguistic, sexual and social relations, and the whole field of the ‘Other’ which generate it.’21 Alan Watts concurs, ‘we seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.’22 The opposite of independence is collectivism. Are our thoughts really unique to ourselves? On the surface advertising seems innocent enough. For Kilbourne, however, on a deeper level, it is more persuasive than we think: Rampant commercialism undermines our physical and psychological health, our environment, and our civic life and creates a toxic society. Advertising corrupts us and, I will argue, promotes a dissociative state that exploits trauma and can lead to addiction. To add insult to injury, it then co-opts our attempts at resistance and rebellion. Although it is virtually impossible to measure the influence of advertising on a culture, we can learn something by looking at cultures only recently exposed to it. In 1980 the Gwich'in tribe of Alaska got television, and therefore massive advertising, for the first time. Satellite dishes, video games, and VCRs were not far behind. Before this, the Gwich'in lived much the way their ancestors had for a thousand generations. Within ten years, the young members of the tribe were so drawn by television they no longer had time to learn ancient hunting methods, their parents' language, or their oral history. Legends told around campfires could not 18 Kristien, An Introduction to the Ideas of Jacques Lacan, http://www.kristien.be/docs/schrijfsels/lacanintro.pdf, accessed 12/05/14 19 Kristien, An Introduction to the Ideas of Jacques Lacan, http://www.kristien.be/docs/schrijfsels/lacanintro.pdf, accessed 12/05/14 20 The Life of David Gale, Dir. Alan Parker, Universal Pictures, 2003, Film 21 Eagleton T., (1983), Literary Theory: An Introduction, Blackwell Publishers LTD, Great Britain, p. 174 22 Watts, A.W., in Russel, K., The Real Secret of Life: Alan Watts Tribute, http://www.seriouswonder.com/the- real-secret-of-life-alan-watts-tribute/, accessed 12/05/14
  5. 5. 5 compete with Beverly Hills 90210. Beaded moccasins gave way to Nike sneakers, sled dogs to gas-powered skimobiles, and "tundra tea" to Folger's instant coffee.23 To further expand on this anomaly Erich Fromm in his book, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, stated: In the cybernetic age, the individual becomes increasingly subject to manipulation. His work, his consumption, and his leisure are manipulated by advertising, by ideologies, and “positive reinforcements.” The individuals loses his active, responsible role in the social process; he becomes completely “adjusted” and learns that any behaviour, act, thought, or feeling which does not fit into the general scheme puts him at a severe disadvantage; in fact he is what he is supposed to be…What has happened in modern industrial society is that traditions, and common values, and genuine social personal ties with others have largely disappeared. The modern mass man is isolated and lonely, even though he is part of a crowd; he has no convictions which he could share with others, only slogans and ideologies he gets from the communications media.24 Concerning trauma, reality and consequences of desire David Watson described in The Pathology of a Civilization: We reproduce catastrophe because we ourselves are traumatized – both as a species and individually, beginning at birth. Because we are wounded, we have put up psychic defences against reality and have become so cut off from direct participation in the multidimensional wilderness in which we are embedded that all we can do is to navigate our way cautiously through a humanly designed day-to-day substitute world of symbols - a world of dollars, minutes, numbers, images and words that are constantly being manipulated to wring the most possible profit from every conceivable circumstance. The body and spirit both rebel.25 In conclusion the Real is that which cannot be determined by language, comes before symbolisation and provokes desire. The 'strategy' of desire emerges as a result of the subject's separation from the real and the 'means' by which the subject tries to catch up with this real, lost unity again. It is thus desire that accounts for the subject's trajectory through the human world, which according to Lacan "isn't a world of things, it isn't a world 23 Kilbourne, J., (November 12, 1999) We are the product: Deadly Persuasion, Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising, Web posted at: 11:43 a.m. EST (1643 GMT) http://edition.cnn.com/books/beginnings/9911/deadly.persuasion/, accessed 12/05/14 24 Fromm, E., (1974), The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Jonathon Cape LTD, London, p.41 25 Watson, D., The Pathology of Civilization, cited in Carrano, M.A., (2009) Asleep in the Helix: Survival & the Science of Self Realization, ISBN 0557377226, 9780557377220, Lulu.com, pp. 62-63
  6. 6. 6 of being, it is a world of desire as such."26 The most important lesson to take from Lacan is that we shouldn’t live by our wants and desires. This is because they often are not our own and if we do not control our thoughts then someone else will. These themes are explored in detail by David Lynche in his film Lost Highway, where Robert Blake at different times portrays Fred’s superego, the Real, the embodiment of evil and the shadow self. 26 Lacan, J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book II: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1954-55, Tomaselli, S., Trans., (1988), Cambridge, p. 222
  7. 7. 7 Bibliography Books: Ackerman, D., (2004), An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain, Simon and Schuster, AU Benvenuto, Bice & Kennedy, Roger, (1986), The Mirror Stage, (1936), The Works Of Jacques Lacan, Free Association Books, London Bowie, M., (1991), Symbolic, Imaginary, Real …and True, Lacan, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Carrano, M.A., (2009) Asleep in the Helix: Survival & the Science of Self Realization, ISBN 0557377226, 9780557377220, Lulu.com Eagleton T., (1983), Literary Theory: An Introduction, Blackwell Publishers LTD, Great Britain Fromm, E., (1974), The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Jonathon Cape LTD, London Jung, C.G., (1968), Psychology and Alchemy, Collected Works of Volume 12, Routledge, 2nd edition, London Jung, C.G., (1979) Aion, CW 9ii, Gerhard Adler (Ed.), R.F.C. Hull (Trans.), Princeton University Press, NJ Lacan, Jacques, 1988, “The dream of Irma’s injection (conclusion)”, The Seminar Of Jacques Lacan: Book II: The Ego In Freud’s Theory And In The Technique Of Psychoanalysis 1954- 1955, Tomaselli, S., Trans., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Lacan, J., (1977), The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience, Ecritis: A Selection, W.W. Norton & Company, New York Meggs, P.B., (1992), Type and Image: The Language of Graphic Design, A VNR book, John Wiley & Sons Miller, J.A., (1961), (Trans.), The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Vogler, C., (Autumn 2001), Notes on Lacan. MAPH 301 Core Course Watts, A.W., (1969), The Book The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Jonathan Cape Ltd, UK Žižek, S., (1989), The Sublime Object of Ideology, Verso, London
  8. 8. 8 Internet Articles: McGowan, T., (Winter, 2000), Finding Ourselves on a "Lost Highway": David Lynch's Lesson in Fantasy, Cinema Journal, Vol. 39, No. 2 pp. 51-73, Published by: University of Texas Press on behalf of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1225552, accessed: 05/05/2014 09:01 Kilbourne, J., (November 12, 1999) We are the product: Deadly Persuasion, Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising, Web posted at: 11:43 a.m. EST (1643 GMT) http://edition.cnn.com/books/beginnings/9911/deadly.persuasion/, accessed 12/05/14 Kristien, An Introduction to the Ideas of Jacques Lacan, http://www.kristien.be/docs/schrijfsels/lacanintro.pdf, accessed 12/05/14 Watts, A.W., in Russel, K., The Real Secret of Life: Alan Watts Tribute, http://www.seriouswonder.com/the-real-secret-of-life-alan-watts-tribute/, accessed 12/05/14 Films: The Life of David Gale, Dir. Alan Parker, Universal Pictures, 2003, Film

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