Reality, Naivety and Addiction; Part 2: Google and the failure of communication.

(Note: These posts refer to Slovoj Zizek’s talk he did in Spain a few months ago; this one:

 

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This ‘post-traumatic world’ that might exist in a utopian dream, if it were not for the naïve subject who is able to have a view where by hope can reside, does not occur within the Symbolic and Imaginary frames; or rather, such a utopia is possible as a political empiricality within such effective frames. Where the ‘post-carnival’ state is possible, there do we find what is ‘the carnival’ itself, the moment wherein things are not what they seem and indeed shift and change in the single view. This is what Zizek (Lacan) calls ‘the impossible’, or, the Real order. The manner by which we make sense of what is impossible is called, for Zizek, psychoanalysis. When we see that these states do not change through subjective agency acting upon some actual empirical object but rather are only changes in view, then we must ask: What is this state wherein Zizek must disclaim his lecture in order to be understood, at once, to be not contradicting his innate imperative for logical consistency, and then as well not offending the sensibility that is discovered through psychoanalysis? Or more precisely: What is occurring such that this state, that he would have to qualify his subjectivity as naïve, against which a Socialist Bureaucracy seems preferable, or, what might be best to deal with things ‘after the carnival’ , needs be stated? Does not a state reflect itself de facto, automatically and axiomatically in the presentation?

What is occurring in the naive state is an inability to be dismissed from the carnival; an inability to make the next move; hence, for Zizek to communicate at this level and be honest he must qualify his presentation: What is naive is that which understands itself as not subject to psychoanalysis. So, the trauma continues and the carnival goes on; this is reality, the effect of the various periodic failures of the Symbolic and Imaginary Orders, and the solution to these evental failures is usually and commonly to resource the Symbolic and Imaginary orders, the orders by which the political world gains veracity, or the semantic scaffold by which what is political may be known.

One does not simply decide to give up on their world and then the world goes away; the world must be destroyed without consent. This is a fact. If we must speak of effective ideologies, we can hear Zizek through his book “Living in the End Times” (paraphrase): It is only at the time we notice the impending failure of an ideology that we fight hardest for its truth. We do not simply give it up, even if we know the battle is lost; we still man our stations and fight for the state. We do not simply and easily relinquish our world because we have a conception that it is ending. Notice the general responses to global warming. The rhetoric is not a condemnation of our system, rather the reaction is either flat denial or a call to adjust how we approach our modern living.

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Likewise the recent Google diversity scandal. Notice that there is nothing terribly irrational or non sensible in the manifesto. In fact, his essay makes good sense from a open-platform ideal: Every voice should be heard, even the voice that has been marginalized in the popular political environment. He is not saying that Google should not address inequalities in the workplace; he is saying that the manner that they are being addressed may be based upon an incomplete consideration of the facts; a more complete rendition of the facts of inequality or structural misrepresentaion or skewed hiring and promoting practices being the logical and rational ideas that he presents, which are, actually, not too radical. He is not saying anything that I haven’t heard; whether or not I believe them or not, the various notions about gender he produces are indeed valid — but in a certain light.

Then look at the answer that is made by Danielle Brown, Googles new diversity manager.

…I found that it [the anti-diversity manifesto] advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.

Does anyone notice anything peculiar between the two discourses?

At risk of putting myself in either camp and looking as if I am defending the manifesto, the anonymous writer is merely putting forth his view under the ideal that everyone should be heard, he is saying that perhaps Google’s diversity policy should be put on hold until everyone is heard. There is nothing radical about this ideal; it is a very democratic and American ideal, liberal as well as conservative.

How about Ms. Brown? Her decision has already been made. The judgement of the diversity manager is that he is “promoting incorrect assumptions about gender”.  Is that really true? It kind of sounds to me that it is the diversity manager that is promoting assumptions that are not true, namely, that the dude is promoting incorrect assumptions. But as Lyotard noted,by what ground shall we legitimate either of these discourses?

Nevertheless, this (his, the Manifesto) incorrect assumption is one that Google does not endorse, and indeed is why he ended up fired.

I don’t think there is a better indication where this world of ours is headed: Nationalism is on its way out; Corperatism is in. Democratic ethics is no longer the standard but is indeed being commandeered by corporate policy, policy that will decide what is ethical for the future.

Just from a (fair) neutral position: I am curious what exactly his manifesto says that is an incorrect assumption about gender. Are we not allowed any more to suggest that men and women are different? I thought in the discussion about race, at least, we are supposed to embrace difference, acknowledge difference and not be blind to color of skin and cultural expression. Any considerate and intelligent person is left to wonder why difference in gender is not to be acknowledged and embraced? Don’t we do that when we fuck?

In the corporate world we do not fuck each other, we fuck other companies. Competition defines the space of ethics; a meta-narrative of ethics does not yet define an umbrella space of companies. Difference, it seems, is not to be abided in the consideration of the workers value: Only the overt potential involved in the equality and sameness of human beings in general is to be considered in the place of production. The ability to produce is the standard, and we, as corporate subjects, cannot afford the inefficiency that can arise in the a priori classification of workers ability: All workers are equal in the potential to produce. That is the (post-) modern ground of ethics.

What do we have? We have the very postmodern condition coming to fruition. The Manifesto Man speaks of a Google echo chamber. What could be a better description of his very condition: He is speaking about a kind of ethical space that we all know of, but because the our existential condition (for lack of a better term here), the ethical condition that is the liberal agenda of freedom and equality that has been with us for at least 200 years, he cannot be heard, indeed will not be heard. Knowledge no longer exists as some source  or conduit for access into an essential and ideal ground for ethics; knowledge now is determined along lines of which knowledge is valid, and so which knowledge is able to be heard. Lyotard puts it in terms of which knowledge is efficient. The Manifesto Man is speaking, and we all (but do we?) know what he is meaning, where he is drawing his knowledge from, but it is mute. Such knowledge is invalid: It is no longer a kid of knowledge that is included in what is valuable. The ‘experts’ have agreed and they have decided.

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What better description of this world: carnival. And as well: dialectical. So what happens after? The discussion by two or more people is shut down and the discussion continues as if in an echo chamber, which is to say, the movement merely occurs and everyone just rides along, regardless of what sound is made. The Dialectic continues but under a new semantic rubric that is understood to not be new. Indeed; there is an irony occurring. For, while the point I make in my recent essay about ‘the event of the past’  and Zizek being naive, I find that around the same time (well, relatively speaking I suppose, lol) I was writing that post, Zizek himself was in Spain speaking about how he was going to proceed as naive (listen to the youTube above).

In this sense, we find a certain psychoanalytical significance to what is occurring at Google, but in the context of addiction as well. The naive subject has a voice that is always heard in the context of the times as a political voice, able to bring change to the world, in various potentialities, at various moments. But what occurs is that voice is automatically referred to a context that is outside of the communicative potential of the subject: She speaks, but it is as if in an echo chamber. The dialectical subject of ethics speaks of justice, but her voice resonates only in its own space, the sound that is heard in reality is offensive and indeed (now) incorrect, and actually promoting assumptions that no longer reflect what is true, except in as much as this echoing voice affirms the present justice; the past has been changed. As Zizek describes in his book “Event” determined by the facticity of the past itself, the present act alters the very condition by which it has come about to reflect the actuality of the present moment.

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The addict in his cups is not privy to the change; she is determined by her past as she works to keep the past constituent to that ideal and dialectical moment. The addict sees the material as being unchangeable and essential, and ideal world or “musts” and “is’s”. Reality never breaks into the Imagined world to disrupt it and the addict stays in her echo chamber yelling for someone to hear her. But the world only hears a sound that no longer reflects the true of reality. The two exist within a dialectical moment that is denied for the purpose of asserting a justice that is already occurring, indeed has been occurring, albeit, to challenge the past which determined the criteria by which such justice has been ascertained.

Time behaves atemporally, as witnessed not only by Lyotard 40 some years ago, but in the movie “Fight Club” some 25 years ago:

This is no figure of speech, metaphor, or interesting artistic juxtaposition. It is the actual psychoanalytical situation that occurs.

(This clip is just so perfect ! lol)

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

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

Reality, Naivety and Addiction.

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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:

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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.

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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.