The Need-Fire (alt. Force-Fire, meaning ‘forced fire’) tradition depended on a structure of exception. In a superstition widely chronicled across Old Europe it was popularly believed that the efficacy of the need-fire (to cure ills, to establish normality where sickness — of animals, relations, etc — had taken hold) depended on the extinguishment of all other fires in the vicinity. Harsh penalties existed for villagers found keeping their fires burning during the kindling of the need-fire; the sovereignty of the need-fire was paramount to its symbolic efficacy. This may in part account for the very etymology of the folk term — the ‘need’ indicating that same co-incidence of ontological necessity with a fully contingent, human-created condition as the co-incidence found in the ‘willed emergency’ or ‘fictional siege’ of a State of Exception.Continue reading “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
I’m currently updating the website to better accommodate access from multiple devices. Entries from the old blogging platform will still be available at the old address for a short while, after which it will be deleted and content will resume here.
I don’t like it when others write in an overly gnomic way, so I suppose I should resist the temptation as well.
The commonplace regarding psychoanalysis, at least in Britain, is that it makes everything out to be about sex. I do not think this is correct at all. Is it not the case that the sex about which psychoanalysis makes everything is not really sex as such, but a traumatic antagonism which sexuality covers over? Which is to say, that is what sex as such always is; as Lacan said, there is no sexual relation. So rather than everything ultimately being about sex, while sexual pleasure is thus the objective and the truth of all human endeavour, which would be nothing but a banal statement of hedonism, psychoanalysis says just the opposite: sex is a mask, an escape route from impossible desires, desires for the impossible. Nothing is finally ‘about’ sex, rather sex is about everything and nothing, functioning only as a temporary disconnection from the peculiarly human and maddening multitudinous dance of fractured drives beyond any principle of pleasure.
The gist of this was to correct the common misconception that for psychoanalysis everything is about sex. It was also in a way an assertion of almost the exact opposite: it is rather that sex is about everything. More precisely, sex is about everything apart from sex. The fact that human sexuality lacks a relation to a determined, substantive object means that sexual objects cannot but proliferate; the ‘essential feature’ as it were of sexual relationships is that they are inessential; the precise form a particular sexual relation takes is always arbitrary and cannot ever be naturalised except through social normativisation. Human sexual relationships are biologically under-determined.
Hilflosigkeit — that is, the extended period of prematurational social dependence which results in human neoteny — results in a situation where the form taken by sexual relations can only be received performatively. Thus, their biological under-determination results in their historical over-determination. Furthermore, the constitutive ab-originality of sexual relations (their inescapably social genesis) coupled with the reflexive and mimetic nature of desire (always being the desire of a desire) means that sexuality can function as a kind of template or exemplary case of constitutive displacement, characterising slippage and an enchainment of signifiers without original signified. This structure (that of Derridean differance) means that there is no Truth — no philosophical truth, no insight, no flash of the Real — to be found anywhere in sex, only arbitrarily and socially negotiated defaults and historical norms. Psychoanalysis recognises this; truth means something other than sex and is to be found elsewhere.
Been busy with 20th c. Art Historical work at present, with little time for blogging or indeed interaction with any kind of sentient beings. In the background I’ve also been beavering away collating information for definitions of the following, somewhat random, list of terms: Gedankending, Structural Causality, Overcoding, Structure of Feeling, Seriality, Practico-inert, Plane of Immanence, Molar vs. Molecular, Cultural Privatisation, and Constitutive Excess.
K-punk may be right about depressive hedonism characterising the present level of culture, but if so then at least there’s an ascetic joy to theory.
Blogging has been difficult of late, schedules being so hectic and activities multiplying as they have. May passed me by without offering much time for writing. Hopefully June will allow me to thrown down some thoughts. In any case, I’m starting a theory wiki at http://wiki.theriomorphous.co.uk to help focus my interests so there may be some cross-referencing between here and there going on in the future.