The Local Psyche Global. (Lacan part 2)

Ok.

The question on the table is two parts:

  1. If The modern world is really the unrecognized embodiment of the reflection of one’s self, which is the the factual state of individual alienation, then what does it even mean that the alienated self-reflection is looking at cars, trees, space, planets, stars, deers, etc….?
  2.  What does this have to do with ego development, modernity, and philosophy

 

Of Firsts.

Philosophy can be said to be involved with a reduction which has already occurred.  What I call conventional philosophy sees the effort of philosophy to be the uncovering or discovering of the original reduction.  The word we use for this original reduction is ontology.

Philosophers love Lacan and psychoanalysis in general more than the psychologists. I asked my Theories instructor once about Lacan, and she said that she had never even heard of any psychotherapist who uses him, that his theory is very complex.  But in fact, Freudian psychotherapists in general are a minority now days, and I suspect mainly on the East Coast of the U.S and in Europe. (There is a comment to be made on this but it will have to appear elsewhere.)

I don’t prescribe to the Freudian lineage for psychotherapy.  But I do enjoy Lacan and often via. Zizek’s use of Lacan’s theory.  The question above that I pose really concerns how these two worlds might meet, or, how they interact or come together.

The reader should understand that it is always possible to come up with a theory about what the material is we deal with in mental health and how we treat it which will work or produce good mental health outcomes. Though Freud was the first popular psychotherapist in the sense we think of it now, very quickly his theory about ‘what and how’ stopped holding water for the treatment of patients and clients (medical doctors, neurologists and psychologists usually treat patients, while counselors more often treat clients). Freud, and the psychodynamic psychologists who followed him, believe in a very elaborate structure of the mind which functions primarily through various polemical psychic situations and motions involving an invisible energy.  Psychic energy was posed without any actual evidence of such energy. We are able to produce electricity, measure it, and put it to use in predictable ways, and Freud was speculating that we would be able to find the same things with psychic energy, but he could not, nor anyone since then.  But the system sounded really good; when you get into it, it does appear to have some sensibility to it.  But, like Freud, when we take that idea too far and attempt to use the model to fill in more and more evident holes, the more elaborate structural interactions required to account for the new issues simply become so vague and involved that what ever at one time appeared like some sensible dynamic of structure, fails. That is, unless you are really sold on the beauty of the simple beginning theoretical structure.

I would say then that the reason why philosophy like psychoanalysis but Lacan so much is that it begins pretty good.  Freud’s theory appears really nice in the beginning and seems to make sense.  So without having to actually observe anything beyond the initial evidence, Freudian psychoanalysis is fabulous, and philosophy that likes Lacan is usually about first or reduced things: Ontology is about what things truly are, how they are first;  epistemology is about how thought must first be in order for everything else to be able to be thought. So, the Freudian structure of the mind The Super-Ego is the rules or norms; the ID,  involves the ‘unbound’ instinctual drive which produces libidinal energy, and the Ego is that which harness both  extremities: the philosophical ratio, or the Rational Mind, so to speak; this fits very well into methods that involve first things: 1,2,3…presto!  It is simple and it makes a lot of very easy sense without having to think about it too much.  It also, quite coincidentally, reflects the philosophy which was arising around the same time as industrial science of the 19th century: Hegel, Marx, Freuerbach and many Enlightenment others basically were already philosophizing around these very same ideas.  But as I have said a few times already, when we apply them to any world that we actually encounter, this ‘philosophical mind’ falls quickly short of accounting. And this is to say, like I said above, unless you are really sold on the theory.

The philosophical question here, then, becomes whether or not we are fitting reality into the theory, or developing theory from what is being observed?

Enter modern capitalism.

I submit, that most conventional Western philosophy suffers from the attempt of fitting what is observed into the theory.  Hence, the reason(s) why philosophy often enjoys a psychoanalytical involvement with philosophy.

So it is that I came across our question above: Why should alienation have anything do with the world we are coming upon? In what way does the “mirror stage” of Lacan have anything to do with modernity beyond the theorizing?

I submit, that the reason is because if indeed we make an ontological theory of what is observed, actually form or develop a theory upon what is being presented to sense, then the Self no longer appears alienated from the world.

Some may know that Lacan said something like “the mind is structured like a language”.  This is because he was making a comment upon what is inherently problematic about modern subjectivity.  This is, the subject is always in context, but the nature of the operating psyche is that is does not function as though it arises in context, but rather as though it arises indeed from nothing.  This is to say that the modern subject understands and thus operates itself as not a true subject (arising always in context) but as indeed a subject only in a thoughtful reflection of itself, as though the thinker itself exists outside of the world and as indeed the essential nature of Being is dichotomy: object and subject.

So, the next question (#1), is what this has to do with the presence of the parents for the development of the ego, and why does this have anything to do with actually being in the world?

1655-ego-depletion-an-influential-theory-in-psychology-640

A common and modern belief is that the ego is not a modern ideal but a human one.

Use the corona-lockdown to see yourself in the world

HERE reposted : actually wanted to post this in 7 weeks, but because I see the population getting nervous and impatient amongst lockdowns and because it is my …

Use the corona-lockdown to change your life forever within 6 weeks

——————The re-post here starts out good; I like the introduction. The “solution”in the meditation practice, on the other hand, is up to the reader.

“Take what you need and leave the rest.”

Personally, I am not in a place Where I am able to understand and apply such practices as framed in a way such as this re-post does.

There is no argument that can be made to me, and I feel if we are honest with ourselves then there is no argument that needs to be made to me because If such practices were valuable and vital to my existence and being then they would make sense to me and I would practice them.

Ok.

However;

The beginning of that repost talks about how so few people see that the world is their own reflection. And then it gives a meditation that can help people to see the truth of the situation, or be free or whatever.

For me, it just reminded me of the philosopher/psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.

In particular, if I am not completely misinterpreting his ideas, yet accompanying them with the sensible extrapolations of time:

The modern world of individual identity is based in the state of alienation. Alienation can be said to be brought about through an identification with the image. In Lacan’s idea, The child sees its reflection in the mirror and identifies with the reflection. It is called “the mirror stage”. The modern world, the modern social world, can be said to be caught in the mirror stage.

Identifying one’s Self with the image, is itself the ontological state of alienation. This, in a way, disembodied Self thus looks back into the Real world with anxiety, or angst, for it is unable to overcome the trauma which has occurred in the formation of ego around the image as it views its originating body. The non-Self (image) thus erects a fantasy to help relieve the trauma. It there by does not see its actual Being in the “non-image” but indeed sees a world that is not itself, which is in Lacan’s terms, the imagined world, ie the (modern) fantasy.

Symbols thereby become a sort of fetishized substance, a magical device, which are understood by the alienated identity to be able to bring the world into communion or coordination with its non-Self. This situation develops as a Marxist dialectic called ideology, but is what Lacan calls a “mistake” or “misunderstanding” of, what I call, the Truth.

The Truth is that the ideological world is ultimately the Self occupied with a mistaken identification, and this alienated state thus reflects the world as not the Self. Which, ironically, is the Truth.

Hence we have a segue into the meaning of Kierkegaard’s critique of Hegel: The irony of the “either/or” ontological question is that the question (as method for coming upon the world) itself is based in a mistake. As well, the imaginary “truth” which reveals itself at once as ideological as well as a way to overcome or get outside of it (revolution) arises in the encounter with the symbol because the symbolic world and the imaginary world are indeed what allows for the dialectical and thus ideological world to appear and function truthfully. So it is the Real world is that which actually is “absurd” with reference to the symbolic-imagined fantasy which arises through trauma as post-traumatized identity (modernity), which replays the originating trauma through disembodiment (reason, idea, etc…).

The issue thus is less how to overcome the fantasy, and more how to deal with the originary mistake which manifests through shame as trauma, that is, the inherent vacillation of guilt, shame, and anxiety that arise through the basic ideological default of existential choice, what Kierkegaard calls sin or despair to will to be oneself. Which is then the basic offense that The West in general knows colloquially as original sin.

Today, though, often enough, this kind of discussion is discredited outright in the move toward an ideological importance of reality. This is due, then, to the basic denial that arises when individuals (but the world, society) find the symbolic way through the trauma is closed off. Hence the fantasy routes modern individuals back more firmly into the fantasy, such that the questioning itself becomes blocked (PTSD) as, now, an ideological mandate: A true religious commandment (again, see Kierkegaard): Thou Shalt Not…

The alienation is thus overcome through a new religious devotion to the truth of the fantasy. The dialectic which then will arise is de facto a continuance we know as PTSD.

There is much more to be said here, but we can get much of it through Slavoj Zizek’s Philosophy.

Secularism vs. Pluralism; a comment

I had the opportunity to participate in a live podcast episode with InkleDeux for the third time. Our topic was“Secularism vs. Pluralism.”We had a …

Live Podcast Episode: #3 Secularism vs. Pluralism

I didn’t listen to this whole podcast. But I listen long enough to have something to comment upon. I couldn’t really listen much longer than I think around seven minutes, because it had already brought up so many philosophical problems just in the introduction that I already knew pretty much what they were going to talk about, what vector they were taking.

I don’t mean that so much as a condemnation as I do really as an indication that there is a discrepancy involved with the use of the word “philosophy” that is not regularly recognized and in fact is assumed to be nonexistent in what I call a conventional philosophical Orientation upon things.

Anyways…

The point at which I stopped in the podcast was when they introduced the idea of secularism with reference to the US Constitution which guarantees a separation from church and state. Their comment upon that establishes philosophical ground as though it is common, and I’m not sure that we can assume the route that they took, even though they speak as if it is indeed a common ground, as it is indeed something that is “common sense”. And, I’m not arguing that it is something that I don’t understand or is incorrect as a line of reason; I’m not arguing against their further arguments. I’m arguing against the assumption that they make from which they build the rest of their discussion.

Nonetheless; the discrepancy that I am indicating could be located exactly at that point where I stopped listening to the podcast. The discrepancy arises where we understand the difference between extrinsic mythology and intrinsic mythology. That is, what actually occurs in the establishment of A government which runs according to our along or in correspondence to a separation of church and state, is a government which understands its own theology as implicit to what is common.

And this is to say that by that amendment we suddenly are able to point to something else as if we are not the embodiment of what we are pointing to. To me this is the significance of secularism: it is a faith which does not recognize its theological grounds. In a way, exactly the psychoanalytical “mirror stage” which leads to alienation as identity (Lacan/Zizek).

 The reader can find various comments about how I develop this philosophical theme further back in my posts on this blog.

But in short, America, if I can generalize, establishes its self as a global religion through the missdirection of calling religion as identified with something else. This goes to an evolution of the human being as indeed humans are evolving not separately from the universe, as opposed to the human being that has pretty much been the same for thousands of years and is evolving Only in some intangible manner. Indeed, the issue that they in the podcast argue as foundational to a secularism is is a foreclosure of bringing transcendence into what we can talk about. Again, with that motion it is actually bringing the transcendent into imminent conversation, or communion, as the case may be. The amendment there by establishes its own religion in distinction to other things that are basically “false religion”, basically believing in “false gods”.

It is not difficult to trace this kind of thinking back through Protestantism, but I am not arguing that America or capitalism is based in Protestant thinking. But indeed has been at least one author, weber, who argued Protestantism as a basis of a proper secular society. But that point is nearly moot.

I’ll stop there.

Perhaps some of your readers wanna listen to the whole podcast and see if they entertain or see if they’ve gone kind of the long way around to get to the same conclusion. Then maybe you could let me know.

Or perhaps you could see where their discussion comes nowhere near what I’m talking about.

I don’t know. Let me know either way OK?

Or you could tell me that what I’m saying makes no sense. If you cannot understand what I’m saying, please ask, and I’ll try to say it more clearly.

I’m sure the podcast is a good discussion because I enjoy listening to her philosophical things, even as I might disagree with them fundamentally.

But I’m short for time right now.



Reality, Naivety and Addiction in 3 parts. PART 1.

A Comment Upon Zizek’s Recent Talk in Spain, June 2017.

Reality, Naivety and Addiction.

*

 

I know that everyone likes to have an opinion, and they also like for everyone else to have an opinion – no; they demand that what anyone has to say is an opinion.

I ask: What happens when someone does not have an opinion? What does that mean? Can you, the reader, think of someone saying something, putting forth a proposal that is not an opinion? What are the conditions involved with someone having an opinion? What is occurring that everyone has an opinion?

These are questions I think very few, if anyone, consider. I think most would think it useless and silly if not contradictory in its nature, to consider what conditions must exist for someone not to be proposing an opinion.

I begin this post in this manner because of the overwhelming consistency in which Slavoj Zizek comes off. It is almost spookey. How does someone not only have such a consistent approach upon matters, but then also have a theoretical platform that not only supports this consistency but is then the substance by which such a consistency indeed has consistency? It is almost magical. Maybe that’s why Zizek has been deemed the Elvis of critical theory. I love it.

My proposal here is that Zizek is conveying no opinion. His opinion arises through a kind of misappropriation of what is occurring, and by this feature, opens possibility to opinion. I will leave it to you readers to think about that and what I could mean by it while we step into a recent appearance in Spain, June 2017:

**

Now; I admit I have not listened to the whole thing; only the first 30 minutes. But enough things came up in that introduction to warrant a good post, I think, so, here it goes.

*

Consider how he begins his talk: Under an assumption of naivety. What does he mean by that?
In this moment, under this banner, it is almost as if he anticipated my earlier post where I point out the flaw of his entry in his book “Event”; it is also as if I anticipated this very lecture (above) by pointing out the contradiction. It is almost as if Zizek and Myself were involved in some sort of atemporal synchronicity, an event that would be then utterly psychoanalytical in theoretical nature – lol. But we mustn’t really think too much into this.

Ironically, if we are tempted to think into this situation too much we could be indicating just what Zizek might be meaning by his ‘naïve’ approach to this lecture. For, he is saying that, just for a moment (the moment of this lecture), he is defining a space whereby his presentation will not necessarily reduce back into the psychanalytical order. And this is to say that he is giving notice that he is going to step out of the ecstatic space where in everything will be topsy-turvy, where the slave will become master, where what seems apparent is not the case – he is making notice that for this particular lecture the ‘carnival’ will be suspended. This is to answer my post (above) by telling us that he will be standing on a stage where there are individual agents of personal thoughts, opinions and activities; basically, what he admits also: His lecture is mainly political. He is going to act like a regular critical theorist without the psychoanalyst riding along and making comments.

He is going to be naïve.

In this space, this political position, he is going to make no comments from the psychoanalytical chair about the situation. So what is he leaving out of his talk by this segregation? Can we speak to what might be occurring psychoanalytically?

His question, by which he asserts a new kind of social bureaucracy, he frames: What occurs after the carnival, after, as he puts it, that state where one is ‘eternally mobilized’, which is to say, within the ecstatic disruption? What are we to do afterwards?

Why would he need to frame things in this way? The first question that pops into my head is when the carnival was? When did this perpetual upheaval occur? We really shouldn’t look to any theoretical proposal – rather, I think the semantic argumentative contents of a theory is not the right place to look (of course we could look there). The reason we would be better looking elsewhere than back onto a theoretical position is we would not find the carnival there and commonly would not find anything upended or opposite, we would only find the quite ordered theory that was making sense of the carnival (Zizek makes note of his own manner, that he isn’t going to drop these ironic bombs on this lecture, commenting upon how sometimes he speaks upon somethings sarcastically or opposite of what he is saying). He could be referring to other theories, but I think he is referring to a particular psychoanalytical moment wherein the subject is in confrontation with its object of desire, involved in the attempt to situate the upheaval of the symbolic world by the imaginary, through the event of what is real.

In this lecture, Zizek is situating the alienation that occurs due to this confronting event within the political realm, and calls this political mechanism of subjective alienation bureaucracy: The institutionalization of that subjectivity which should remain ideally invisible to the subject, but which most often reveals itself by its dysfunction, is actually alienating the subject that is using that political system. He thus suggests a Socialist Bureaucracy as a better type of political institution than what we see of our Democratic Bureaucracy.

We can find the psychoanalytical aspect by understanding that the bureaucracy maintains the order even while the carnival is going on, that it is a kind of ‘mirror’ of the subjective alienation, that is not being recognized while the carnival is going on; the ‘substance’ or ‘material’ of the reflection is a political bureaucracy, in this case, the dysfunction of which is itself the effect of alienation. We return to our question here to find out what might be said of the subject of psychoanalysis when it is not recoursed into the political symbol. This is to ask, what of the subject of psychoanalysis itself?

The symbolic manifestation of the State Bureaucracy can be a good analogy for alienation because the confusion that brings about as well as manifests alienation as a lived experience can also be associated in the political world with the system of rules and procedures, as well as the people who uphold, enact and conform to these procedures, by which the state can accomplish things. It is a real manifestation of perceived alienation from the subject; the citizen often has much difficulty negotiating or even figuring out the rationale behind bureaucratic procedures. Likewise, the alienated subject of psychoanalysis is confused and has difficulty in discovering the sense of the ‘carnival’, of the intrusion of the Real into the Imagined sense of Symbolic order.

It is not very difficult then to look around and see what occurs ‘after’ the carnival: The carnival persists. In terms of Zizek’s noted ‘subject of trauma’, we find an immediate association with the subject of modernity; it is the post-modern subject that finds itself in the carnival. At every turn of investigation, the ordered sense that is the modern state becomes confused as the subject of modernity finds itself ‘alienated’ from the (orderly) world that was (is) known. In the attempt to get to the root of the postmodern confusion, the alienated subject of psychoanalysis finds ‘nothing’ at the end of the investigation, the nil subject. The subject under investigation finds that the very terms of the investigation are faulty: She is alienated from her own world.

But this is not what occurs right off. The subject that finds this ‘end’ is first incredulous, that is, as Jean-François Lyotard has given us, ‘incredulous toward metadiscourses’. The alienated subject of modernity searches for a ground of her alienation and finds, in the end, that there is no ground for it, that ironically this is the cause of her trauma, she thus becomes incredulous toward her world, what she knows of it as well as what is said of it, as the world is nothing but a series of discourses suspended in nothingness. It is not that somehow due to theoretical proposals everyone becomes doubtful of the world; everyone in fact has a complete world at all times. The idea that people become doubtful of their world due to some theoretical sensibility is a contradiction in terms, but a contradiction that indicates the carnival that no one can make sense out of, or rather, the sense they make complies with whatever the frame that supplies ‘questioning’, or doubt of authority of metanarratives. This is why we can speak of two routes (see my earlier posts), because so many people see theory as indicating a sort of agenda, as they are supposed to think a certain way because a theoretical position makes sense in various ways, as though their opinion is formed in segregation to the idea of the opinion.

This manner is the opposite of the psychoanalytical approach. The discrepancy in conception thus shows us that there is a disconnect occurring between what is true and what is real, a disconnect that amounts to what we understand as ‘alienation’ that cannot and will not be overcome through the symbolic mechanizations of the (current) state bureaucracy, and yet we cannot do without such a state system, eternally dysfunctional, indeed, eternally mobilized.

Zizek is speaking of certain philosophical moments wherein psychoanalysis finds occasions to use discourse. We have, though, the carnival occurring as we speak, regardless of what theoretical concepts we might entertain for a solution, for it is not the case that the theory drives psychoanalysis; it is psychoanalysis that drives theory (under certain conditions).

In this case, then, we have Zizek entertaining the notion of what might occur once the carnival stops. Of course, this is a speculative idea because he is not speaking about any actualized ending of the political dance of types but rather about a philosophical moment; this type he proposes is a contradiction in terms, and thereby unrealizable (or totally imaginable). Psychoanalysis is a constant mode based within shifting views of parallax; the political aspect of society will not go away, it will only change forms, but the only way that Zizek can speculate upon such matters is because he intuitively knows his Socialist Bureaucracy will not happen: He is speaking, making this proposal under the condition of naivety. The carnival does not stop, but indeed would require what he suggests is a kind Socialist Bureaucracy if it were to stop. But a bureaucratic socialism is a manner of situating psychoanalytical contradictory situations. As he points out, the problem with what we know (or have witnessed) as socialism is that it is, indeed, problematic; he is calling for a ‘pure’ kind of socialism, one that runs smoothly, invisibly, as he says, one that “I do not notice as it functions”; a functional bureaucracy would be one, as he says (paraphrase), ‘that determines everything I do but without me knowing it’. But it never runs that smoothly on the ground in actuality, that is why we can be sure that he is speaking, not figuratively or ‘down a hole’ (into or of nothing), but of an actual philosophical moment, which is to say, a ‘post-trauma’ psychoanalytical condition. When we remove the naivety of the moment, we are left with the ‘fully aware and cognizant’ moment where psychoanalysis must filter everything through its vanishing point. This point is, of course, the subject and due to its quality of being naught, if we are to experience this cognition, that is to say, without a certain ironic distance, it is, again of course, that moment where everything is topsy-turvy.

The question that arises here, though, is why this subjectivity does not appear topsy-turvy (like a carnival) but usually at best appears only so within a theoretical construct of critique? Yes; the on the ground political situation often appears convoluted and chaotic, but it does not usually appear like the allusion of the carnival, where, for example, the rioters are attempting to control the riot police (I am not being ironic here, lol), or the citizens are terrorizing the religious zealots. Through analysis (not necessarily psychoanalysis) all the chaos is ironed out and made sense of, even if the sense that is made can be debated as to its sense! To say that a situation may be like carnival is a theoretical (non-ironic) distance that is imposing order upon the chaos. So we can say that it is through the cognizant moment that we find the possibility of the Socialist Bureaucracy, and yet he is speaking of it in a manner as if it could or may come about, through the conditions of necessity and contingency. In this manner he is thus having to self-disclose the inherent contradiction, the ‘error’ involved in the juxtaposed discourse, and does this through the disclaimer of ‘naïve’. It is through the ‘invisible’ bureaucracy that we find the ideal situation that cannot and does not ever come to pass in the (political) world, but indeed can be believed in as a sort of utopian possibility in that effective ideological world; which is to say, the world that does not function through the ‘cognizance’ of its psychanalytical conception, but only functions ‘in the background’, albeit invisibly.

Post-post-modern-modernism: The Mistake of Irony; Or, The Ironic Mistake.

Perhaps a little bitty on postmodernism and the, what could be labeled of our current situation, post-post-modern-modernism.

Here are a couple links that roughly define the conventional problem I will address in this essay. The first is a little less ridiculous than than the second. The first offers us an argument for why postmodernism is not dead, but is rather the condition upon which people find a new agency. David Foster Wallace is talking from so far down the conventional hole – at least, that he was at some point- his polemic reveals how deep his confusion is or was, as the case may be ( no disrespect intended).

http://partialobjects.com/2011/08/what-comes-after-postmodernism/

This is not to say that there was not this postmodern thing-era that these authors are talking about; it is also very interesting, and possibly ironic, that postmodernism has been seen as first represented in architecture (so says the first link). Nevertheless, the era was the conventional reaction to a large misunderstanding that continues.

It is not difficult to find a link between Constructive Undoing and postmodernism, especially with the irony/convention duality that has arisen here. So, in light of this parallel, and that irony is too often defined to postmodernism through deconstruction, sarcasm, posed apathy, withdrawal, multivocality and the like, as well that irony does not stem from any sort of reaction (though pm may) as it merely takes the proposed new as old hat, as already given before it became new, one has to hit it straight on, as a tangent, one might say. As the post of the link says, with “arms folded tight” one continues to lift; irony works, despite the conventional reaction.

We should look into this reaction. To do this, we will use the framework of the definition of irony, taken from Dictionary.com ( as of spetember, 2013) since the typical conventional misunderstanding involved with the coupling of irony and postmodernism is at play; the reaction allows postmodernism to be placed outside of its ironic bearings.

[Note: This essay is a shortened version.]

Irony:

1.)the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.

Literature.
A.) a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.
(especially in contemporary writing)

B.) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.

3.)Socratic irony. (which is defined as feigned ignorance.)

4.) dramatic irony.

5.) an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

6.) the incongruity of this.

7.) an objectively sardonic style of speech or writing.

8.) an objectively or humorously sardonic utterance, disposition, quality, etc.

Generally, all the definitions reiterate the fifth definition; basically, the opposite of what is expected expressed in the various arenas. (A) and (B) are literary devices of turning plot or meaning. (3) is an idiomatic expression of the complete misunderstanding of Socrates, a one-sided view. (4) is little more than (3); (5) restates all the definitions. (6),(7) and (8) are the key definitions, the ones that have been elicited from the most offense of irony, in the postmodern sense.

The really interesting thing about irony is the absolute comedy of its seriousness; in all seriousness, this is the most offensive aspect of irony, and is the reason postmodernism has become a kind of stigma in philosophy, a kind of joke for modern thought so much that it had to ‘die’. Where do I laugh? Where do I nod? How can I tell if what is being said is really meant for what it says? The irony never ends, and everyone wants ends. Most every one wants to be told the punch line – but not overtly; everyone wants to be in on the joke. But the joke and the deep meaning are one in the same; if you have to guess or wonder, then you get embarrassed: you are offended.

Though I can’t be sure about the intent of definition number 6, I assume it refers to definition number 5. In fact, unless it is a type-o, the definition is probably intended to mean irony as the incongruity of what is expected and what actually occurs, in distinction to def. 5 where irony is the “outcome”. If I say I am a liar, and then I lie, the irony could be not very ironic or be very ironic depending on what has been signaled, but the incongruity of this is that one would have to guess, that is, unless the liar while telling the truth were indeed poetic as he lay, for then he would indeed be lying. But what if he were telling the truth?? As it is, the definition number 6, as a definition for irony, is quite ironic, because none of the other definitions reference the other definitions, but we are expected to see that number 6 does. It is a simple pleasure then to think that the authors of this definition included just this presentation (of 6) as a particular definition of irony because probably the best definition of irony is the incongruity of this, as it is not only a definition, but also an example. And just as such a simple pleasure could be a proclivity of some people, this paragraph itself will find many quite fed up and see no humor or pleasure in this exposition; they find it corny or even lacking in a certain finesse or refinement, or perhaps they find it too subtle. Yet it is just this kind of insensitivity or intolerance that seeks ends, that, if not indicated to the punch, will develop a position highly distanced from it, the ironic move so lowly and indistinctive as it is patronized.

Such a humor is of the most inside that one can fathom, so it is no wonder that most cannot help but develop a resentment concerning its irony. To them, they are being made the butt of a joke; like some sort of transcendent wit they miss, they maintain their seriousness as they pull the heavenly act down to their mundane decisions and proclaim and accuse and dismiss. It is not a wonder postmodernism has a bad rap; the dense can hardly hold a tune, let alone wish to appreciate the finest symphony in the world without the liner notes. Grinding their teeth together they talk lightheartedly and then seriously about this and that fashion, all the while truly being the object of ridicule that was never intended for them except that they made it such. “We are not laughing at them, we are just laughing,” and they have much more serious things by which to set their recreation.

(7) and (8). The definition of ‘sardonic’: characterized by bitter or scornful derision; mocking; cynical; sneering: a sardonic grin. In other words, the distasteful, ‘dark side’ of irony: “objectively sardonic”. The attitude behind this irony is an anxious individual, almost despairing of the world. The irony is a type of ‘sick’ humor; his denial is palatable. This one has come close to his theoretical, indeed actual, demise and spits out his fate upon everyone and the world (the objects) because it is the world. Ironically, the world has let him to know, and he doesn’t like it; he doesn’t like being dominated but he has found his distance from it in one of two ways: a) The world is shitty. The world of history is not the place of his childhood dreams; it has brought everything opposite childish happiness had more than hoped for. He wants to be free, but his conscience tells him its all a sham, and this is known to him due to the world’s history coming upon him. The oppressive world. b) His attitude is justified in righteousness. The offense of the shitty world is countered by the nobility of human presence: the world is great, it is working in his behalf. This nobility is held in countenance for the world, but soon the world rejects it, it counters every move. A suitable image must be maintained; the oppressive individual. In both, the object is prominent; in (a), it is the object proper to convention, in (b), the individual, the subject-object, the subject of convention. Whether it is in reference to some ‘childhood dream’ or the ‘grown-up’ approach to reality before him or her, the motion is that the nobility rejects the rejection and the world crumbles; it deconstructs because the individual is no longer complicit with the world, but again, offended by it. The individual perpetually lives in a fear of his own making, cast upon the world that is surely going bad from the activities of himself – if only he could just leave, or, can he save it in time!

*

The reaction here is ironic; the ironic-sardonic postmodernist and the individual that sets postmodernism to a proper era are both implicitly involved in the conventional reaction. Consciousness, by its very nature, is a retreat from the world; perhaps more precisely, the world is consciousness’s retreat from existence. The individual who is being ironic by realizing that the world of the great (at least, modernist in the last, but conventional in its beginning) human history has brought itself to destruction, is reacting not to the world, but to her inability to reconcile it to her knowledge; her knowledge does not ‘reach’ the object. The reaction is completely of alienation, which is to say, the individual is not alienated due to some historical social motion where she is offended at the state of the world and so withdraws from it, but rather the individual is alienated from herself due to her rather un-ironic belief (faith) in the oppressing thing of the world, that is, that there is this world, which is reality, the conventional world of the true object. This is not so much that the world brought itself to its own destruction, but that the world did not destruct, and this is to say that the world did not find solution, but that the world is insolvent. The result of the world finding a new way due to the old way not working, or bringing itself upon destruction, is not finding a solution in this new way, the result is that the new way is exactly the same as the old way, that the two ‘ways’ could not but have caused and resulted from each other necessarily, that the causes will be found conventionally. The reaction is thus not of the world but of the meaning that the individual has derived from it, which contradicts that the human was ever part of the world in the first place. Then the reaction becomes dismissive, yielding the ‘that’s just life’ tail. Asserting the priority of beliefs and their function for finding ‘the good’, the reaction wields the power of resentment in hopes of stifling and ending all dissension.

The belief itself, the act or motion the term ‘belief’ signifies of faith, is what creates or allows for the alienated individual; the condition of the human being in reality is the separated individual. This separation, basic to the individual, is what constitutes freedom, the great future of progress, as well as its complimentary spiritual form of union (yoga) and ‘return’ (Christ, messiah, or ‘anointed one’; the motion as ‘to anoint’ connotes a uniting of separate substances, yet where one significant or uncommon element is rubbed on a regular or common element, and in this moment the two are transformed; the blessed oil becomes merely oil, the common, significant. The misused idea of ‘karma’, so prevalent in the West, falls in here also.) Nevertheless, it is recognition or realization, a coming into knowledge, that develops ‘alienation’ as a lived experience. But the inherent and unavoidable condition of human consciousness is separation.

Anxiety and despair over such a realization is usually understood to be relieved by two moves, though there are really three; the first two are conventional. The first is denial, where the realization is avoided. This reaction replaces the old with the new as part and parcel of willed, reasoned progress. The initial problem here is replaced with the solution that is human agency, the negotiation of parties, be it spiritual negotiation or mundane. The second is insanity. Both of these reactions are complicit in the resolution to the problem, since there is no true overcoming of the discrepancy; faith in reality accomplishes this feat through denial; hence, denial and insanity are the only real options. I emphasize real options, in the sense that I have already been developing conventional faith; anything else is absurd, insane. Thus the third option is the non-conventional, the ‘not-real’ option (Francois Laruelle might call this the Real option); the reconciliation that can come only does so with existence, through the experience of irony: denial and acceptance become not mutually exclusive.

The human being in existence cannot but help behaving in the only way it can: ultimately determined in every activity. But this activity, this existence, is also human consciousness; it can only behave the way it does. This is to say on one hand that consciousness does not behave or operate in any way separate from the behavior of existence, but also on the other that its operation is to have a world that is sufficiently separate from itself by which it can then perform its functions, and these are exactly formed and allowed for through the partition we call free will, that is, choice. Human consciousness must have a true object, it cannot function without it, but in order for there to be a true object there must be a correspondant of at least equal stature, and this is the individual thoughtful human being. The evident aspect of consciousness is thought, and is itself a mode or motion of the existing universe. Thought thereby retains an effectively universal operational structure as part of its nature, which is to say, the processes and features of knowing resonate the very motion of the universe as course, which is unity. Yet unity, unfortunately for the individual, can only exist by separation; only in the condition of separation can a notion of unity have meaning. Separation and unity have a significance for the meaning making existent human being; the tension or motion thereof, which is vacillation, is not allowed in the progressive reality: reality relies upon the equanimity of subject and object as real things, absolutely true objects, and its privileging of either dependent upon the circumstance at hand as the circumstance is foundational in indicating progress.

Stepping back from this, we can say nevertheless, once the equilibrium, or symmetry, of the statures of true object and thinking subject are upset, existence effectively takes over its proper imperative, that is, the sanctity of the true object begins to fail for knowledge, and knowledge likewise is compromised of its ability to ‘hold off’ the encroachment of the operation of thought upon itself: consciousness then must uphold its existential operation, as its foundation is the differend between thought and object, and the reduction of the knowledge of the object to the object of knowledge eventually brings thought into a consideration of itself, as an object of itself. Only in the balance that holds the (inner) subject and (outer) object at sufficient distance in consciousness can one say that the objective dominates; psychology is the conventional method that attempts to keep the distance of thought and object, to maintain the balance. Once this symmetry is lost, however, the motion never falls toward the object, the motion is always toward the knowing subject, falling in upon the subject of knowledge until consciousness almost comes upon itself and faith is reestablished; this can be called, what is typically known as a ‘psychological breakthrough’ or a ‘spiritual experience’. Where it indeed truly comes upon itself, we call this insanity or death. Where the individual is incapable of functioning constructively in the group of humanity, conventional reality is upheld by the group through a faith that functions to keep the balance and maintain the symmetry of the subject and object in knowledge, as an objective aspect, and thought, as a subjective aspect, which is to say, in knowledge that such an individual is insane defined as a true object for the purpose of establishing the standard for the individual: the subject (subject-object), and in thought for the purpose of establishing the objective standard of reality: the object.

*

The usual reading of postmodern exposition is contained thus far; not for a reiteration of it, but to a step from it. Though more than a few authors either contributed to the development of postmodernism, or step from it, to offer their version, I address two authors here: Jean-Paul Sartre and Francois Laruelle. Through a particularly conventional lens, each offers a stating of the point of contention, a reiteration, as well as a reconciliation of the ironic problem, while saying, really, ironically, the same thing. The punch line: the discrepancy (the individual is established in separation) is solved through an assertion of essential freedom. Again, this is to say that both proposals arise through a denial of existence and an assertion of the true object. This, in effect, is the definition of what Sarte terms “bad faith”, as I have argued of Laruelle in the Direct Tangents of Constructive Undoing.

Sartre’s points are foundational. The reduction of thought to an object of itself opens meaning to an ‘abyss’ of freedom, where meaning comes to its own essential lack. To (here now) reiterate the foregoing, the essence of meaning (if we can say there is such a thing) is seen to be vacant, void, nil, as Slavoj Zizek has said of the subject. This knowledge of contradiction, meaning that is no meaning, causes the individual angst, or Kierkegaardian ‘despair’; in my terms, the individual understands that the reality through which he or she was moving, that has been established and motivated through basic, what was before thought, true tenants of reality, true objects, is found to be not true. Sartre’s move then is to ‘revolt’ from this ‘nothingness’, since the individual supposedly sees now that meaning is arbitrary, and thereby find true freedom because the individual sees that he is no longer constrained by any essential, determined, or otherwise actual truth of any matter whatsoever.

Laruelle, if we are able to set aside the conventional-temporal object for one moment, where Laruelle builds his non-philosophy due to Sartre’s and others’ ideas before him, we may find his address through what I shall use as his basic idea. While all of his terms interact and compound upon one another to indicate the same thing, which is the point of contention, his ‘unilateral duality’ works to indicate the last conventional object. The ‘future Christ’ he terms as a culmination or basic differential which allows or accounts for the total meaning of, what I call, the scheme of meaning that is conventional reality, the meaningful organization of true objects. By summoning total meanings of significant oppositional objects, his critique of philosophy proper reduces its operational terms to explain conventional reality; he limits conventional reality to the arena of ‘philosophy’ for strategic reasons, and calls the consequence or result of this reduction the ‘Real’. Using the idea of future Christ, his reconciliation poses some sort of radical agency – mind you, ‘agency’ has been likewise re-situated in non-agency – that, one is to gather, comes about through a proper understanding of reality. The reason he can appear, as we say, ‘in the last’, is the real and the Real remain for him ‘lateral’ or maybe better, parallel but are situated more properly upon a parallax. The freedom of Sartre is similarly re-situated with the ‘radical’ form of knowing and proposes some more evolved state of humanity.

Again, keep in mind that I am presenting a typically conventional reading of these authors, that the fact of their presentations are routinely and faithfully, in Laruelle’s terms, ‘made into another philosophical object’, a representation of the point of contention. The problem is at all times conventionally upheld for reality, Real or free. The problem is not the presentation that these authors enact, but the re-presentation: the overcoming of the true object is impossible for conventional reality.

Hence, perhaps a better rendition of the matter at hand can be better situated to address the impossible. To put it directly into conventional grasp, we might then see that to confront the impossible is a matter of insanity.

*

Yet before we venture into the impossible, I would like to offer a small quote from Thomas Nagel, and his effort from the possible, of staying in the possible:

“However, I do not find theism any more credible than materialism as a comprehensive world view. My interest is in the territory between them. I believe that these two radically opposed conceptions of ultimate intelligibility cannot exhaust the possibilities. All explanations come to an end somewhere. Both theism and materialism say that at the ultimate level, there is one form of understanding. But would an alternative secular conception be possible that acknowledged mind and all that it implies, not as the expression of divine intention but as a fundamental principle of nature along with physical law?”
~ ‘Antireductionism and the Natural Order’, in Mind and Cosmos, p.22.

One should see that Nagel’s situation is nothing larger than what Soren Kierkegaard offered 160 years ago: Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical? For the question Nagel asks here is nothing greater than conventional, though he might be trying to indicate something more (we shall see). Nagel is asking if there is a way to bring the remnants or basics of the bifurcated real meaning wherein we have idealist subjectivism and religious transcendence/immanence versus materialist objectivism, into a scheme of meaning that does not indicate upon such distinction, which is to say, does not reify the insolvency. The answer is: conventionally, no. All human reality depends upon the duality of meaningful categories; the real is the universal is the ethical. The answer ironically is: yes.