Lacan and Zizek Obscurity; Part 2.

Part 1 of this long post is HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One thought on “Lacan and Zizek Obscurity; Part 2.

  1. A lot to comment upon here. I realized now my earlier comment about Zizek and Lacan was far too simplistic. I remember a comment Zizek made about how every true disciple kills his master- he finds his master’s weaknesses, but still accepts his master’s authority, and so on. The same was true of Hegel and Marx. So its not simply that Zizek made Lacan simpler and more accessible, just as Marx got to the kernel of truth in Hegel. It’s that this kernel was already present but within a different context that still has as much to offer but within different contexts and assemblages (the medical assemblage for example)

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