As I stepped inside the university for the second last time before my commencement in July, I realised one thing. Probably it was the literary atmosphere of the campus, one that reminds me of the days spent buried in essays and research or it may have been the time I spent on my way here since I’ve always think best on the commute (I have no idea why but I think our country’s MRT should have a separate compartment for people who want to write with some semblance of privacy instead of scribbling their notes on a pad with others overlooking their shoulders), that made me remember my priorities.
Firstly, this post will not be on technology. It will not concern itself with the issue of copyright, cyberspace or Copyscape even though that topic is worth exploring in terms of cultural value, work of art, and simulacra. In the end (if there is one), what is put on the internet, inscribed and written down, precipitates the death of the author. For the final answer of the letter is none other than: “Eat your Dasein.” Even the citation goes as far to demonstrate that the letter lives beyond the author for what Lacan was, in actuality, referring to the password of a Congress in Zurich in the year before the Seminar was given.
But I digress. The imperative here is the usage of language, which, in the world that we are speaking of today, is English. What I am writing now-which at the moment of completion will materialise my death-arises out of a need to respond to a lack that can be located anywhere today and that is the abuse of one’s language. At this point, I claim that the pertinence of this post will only be realised insofar that the addressed reader takes pride in her linguistic skills and places a priority on language, which is already much more than we can ask of from the average individual.
That is why the method of textual commentary proves itself fruitful. Commenting on a text is like doing an analysis. How many times have I said to those under my supervision, when they say to me—I had the impression he meant this or that—that one of the things we must guard most against is to understand too much, to understand more than what is in the discourse of the subject. To interpret and to imagine one understands are not at all the same things. It is precisely the opposite. I would go as far to say that it is on the basis of a kind of refusal of understanding that we push open the door to analytic understanding. (Seminar I, Freud’s Papers on Technique, 73)
To read Lacan’s texts then, one has to assume the intersubjective position of the analyst and to rest the text in the patient’s couch. Begin by thinking that you don’t understand.
Like a dog chasing after its own tail, the pursuit of the past—nostalgia—is forever doomed to failure, twice over. The attempt to recapture a moment that has already passed and slipped us by, is always at one remove. No photograph can sufficiently stand for the recalled moment in its entirely for the photograph is always and only a snapshot.
To exacerbate matters, our desires are even questionable as well. Are those desires really our own? For according to Lacan, the desire is the Other’s desire, the desire of the Symbolic Order. Much like canned laugher, we are always prompted on when to laugh and when not too. When an individual desires something, it is always a social product that is by no means an individual’s decision. Language, the Symbolic Order, decides your desire for you.
“From our present standpoint, however, the ideal of an immanent analysis of the text, of a dismantling or deconstruction of its parts and a description of its functioning and malfunctioning, amounts less to a wholesale nullification of all interpretive activity than to a demand for the construction of some new and more adequate , immanent or antitranscendent hermeneutic model, which it will be the task of the following pages to propose.” Jameson in The Political Unconscious, 23
Everyone should share my pain; parse the whole quote. If you haven’t noticed it, the above quote only consists of one sentence.
Theorrhea I tell you, theorrhea.
P.S.: Diarrhoea of theories, if you didn’t get it. One week and a day to go.