animal, art, becoming, flesh, freud, guattari, human, lacan, machine, ontology, space, territory

It Means Becoming Human

But he [Lacan] did not realize the consequences of his rupture with Freudian determinism, and didn’t appropriately situate “desiring machines” — whose theory he had iniated — within incorporeal fields of virtuality. This object-subject of desire, like strange attractors in chaos theory, serves as an anchorage point with a phase space (here, a universe of reference) without ever being identical to itself, in permanent flight on a fractal line. In this respect it is not only fractal geometry that must be invoked, but fractal ontology. It is the being itself which transforms, buds, and transfigures itself. The objects of art and desire are apprehended within the existential Territories which are at the same time the body proper, the self, the maternal body, lived space, refrains of the mother tongue, familiar faces, family lore, ethnicity… No existential approach has priority over another. Thus it’s not a question of a causal infrastructure and of a superstructure representative of the psyche, or of a world separated from sublimation. The flesh of sensation and the material of the sublime are inextricably interwoven. Relationship to the other does not proceed through identification with a preexisting icon, inherent to each individual. The image is carried by a becoming other, ramified in becoming animal, becoming plant, becoming machine and, on occasion, becoming human.

Felix Guattari, Chaosmosis

algebra, desire, force, form, lacan, libido, love, real, signifier, structure, transference


Responding to a question concerning the loss incurred by the sexuation of living beings, Lacan correlates the opening and closing of the gaps of the unconscious to the opening and closing of the orifices of the body. This inter-relation is real because it is in the unconscious the presence of the living being becomes fixed.

The erogenous zones are indissolubly linked to the unconscious, the organ of the libido itself. At the level of the drive, the relation between the drive and a specific action or passion is purely grammatical — a support, an artifice, literally a machine whose functioning coincides with the outward-return movement of the drive. Re-articulating this machine allows Lacan to indicate not only his tension with Freud, but even to raise concerns regarding the — perhaps masochistic — desire for psychoanalysis as such:

“Today I have shown in the most articulated way possible that each of the three stages, a, b, c, with which Freud articulates each drive, must be replaced by the formula of making oneself seen, heard and the rest of the list I have given. This implies fundamentally activity, in which respect I come close to what Freud himself articulates when he distinguishes between the two fields, the field of the drives on the one hand, and the narcissistic field of love on the other, and stresses that at the level of love, there is a reciprocity of loving and being loved, and that, in the other field, it is a question of a pure activity for the subject. Do you follow me? In fact, it is obvious that, even in their supposedly passive phase, the exercise of a drive, a masochistic drive, for example, requires that the masochist give himself, if I may be permitted to put it in this way, a devil of a job.” [Jacques Lacan, “The Deconstruction of the Drive,” The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis]

The driven-subject or the field of the drives, or what Lacan claims is pure subjective activity, must be rigorously distinguished from the desiring-subject, the lovers and the field of love produced, characterized by inconsistent reciprocity of loving/being-loved. A dimension of eternal force and a plane of inconsistent passion. The question becomes: what is lost in the passage from the drive to its other side which makes sexuality present in the unconscious itself, and what remains? What, then, is left of the sign — and for whom?

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being, event, face, gift, infinity, lacan, language, levinas, logic, machine, silence, turbulence, violence


Responsibility is what first enables one to catch sight of and conceive of value.
Levinas, Otherwise Than Being 123

Beyond the question of being and non-being, language is not the event — but rather a process of assembling unformed and unspecified elements, an abstract machinics which imagines new forms for itself by correlating the various distinct orders of reality with a plane of consistency in which a unified vision becomes possible — in short uncovering the infinite possibilities of the event. But this apparition of the event in its infinity would be only terror, the dark depth in which all mixtures are possible — and nothing is outlawed — were it not for the ambiguity of silence, the “not-yet” which the event, the “given” or gift, makes possible, and which makes possible the infinite time of cohumanity.

In speaking, reality opens itself up to an order without signification or concept, lost neither in the depths or heights but in the very shape of the world, the surface itself, a topological mode or order of being issuing neither in sound or light but in an idea given me by the other, the gift of language. In expression being can become free. Language is the discovery not only of novelty but justice itself; the enjoyment of discovery is essentially social. The event is not revelation but a secret apology, a map of the vortex. Turbulence is lucidity.

Black holes are everywhere, and this prohibited prohibition permits everything: the torsion of language disarticulates the tension of the soul. Beyond the face there is a paradoxical and two-sided barrier, an apparition which interrupts the symbolic order of discourse, as though by a lateral or diagonal movement between the signified and the non-signified. By an astounding finesse, speech uncovers the world as a lesson or donation.

Debt and faith are born simultaneously. Language is justice — a gift — only when it sheds its anonymity to become universal, not by inventing a world-beyond-the-world, but by reconciling us to one another. It calls us to hear a there-is rustling behind the void.

Hence the notion of event correlates at least three distinct orders of relationship between possibilities: a relative-absolute conjuncture uniting singular events and possible worlds; an absolute disjuncture prohibiting certain events from certain worlds; a trans-evental function sweeping up worlds and events.

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anti-philosophy, badiou, deconstruction, Deleuze, difference, heidegger, lacan, levinas, mathematics, metaphysics, negation, poetry, psychoanalysis, unity, writing

Metaphysics beyond Psychoanalysis: The Unconscious, Language and Reality after Heidegger and Deleuze


Metaphysics beyond Psychoanalysis

0: Entryways

“What does it matter how many lovers you have if none of them gives you the universe?”

“Lacan never pursues purely philosophical objectives.”

Questions, not meanings, are forgotten. May we therefore at last refrain from inquiring what psychoanalysis means, or asking what it is supposed to signify? And, since this alone is clearly insufficient, could it also be possible to take a cautious step “backwards,” simply in order to ask: which psychoanalysis, and how does it work? Where, when, and how much is it thinking? Where and why does it forget (merging imperceptibly here with a mythical alien outside, or fading transparently there into an empirical illusion)? From what eerily formal abyss “must” the “truth” must be continuously salvaged? Why these specific fixations, abstract algorithms and “critical” meta-languages — and in what ways are these translated (and transformed) into applications as clinical practice?

The history of psychoanalysis is a torus, and offers few instances of non-paradoxical theoretical encounters. It is in this sense that Lacan’s project of critically deconstructing the “origins” of (post-Freudian) psychoanalysis could be said to follow analogically — or even metaphorically — from Heidegger’s project of ungrounding (Platonic) metaphysics via a “detour” through the Pre-Socratics. In a different but curiously parallel way, Deleuze’s distaste for — and now subtle, now overt subversion of — Lacan, especially his analysis of desire (bordering at times on a strange kind of “power struggle” within psychoanalysis not unlike Lacan’s own break with the analysts of his early career) can indeed be said to mirror Levinas’ tense and passionate struggle with Heidegger over the question of desire — which, not coincidentally, Heidegger also characterizes as structured around a central lack.

In terms of contemporary theory, Laruelle and Badiou’s anti- or non-philosophy could be said to present a similarly-effective overturning of literary-deconstructive methods — we find a deceptive model of this technique in the work of Derrida, and in a different sense, the work of Deleuze and Guattari. Badiou’s position could be baldly summarized as a critique of what is really a humanistic or “centralizing,” isolationist move within theory, which claims to be the opposite, or “de-centralizing” — while ancient philosophy suffered badly from a similar “axiomatic” illusion as well, it is especially modern thinkers whose theory is built starting from a promise (instead of a premise,) and so filled with convincing but misleading interpretations of facts (rather than taking a de-subjectivized scientific position capable of producing a rigorous analysis of the “facts” of the matter.) Laruelle expresses this “inhumanism,” or post-metaphysical materialism, particularly rigorously: only science is really capable of moving thought beyond the philosophical as such.

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formula, lacan, Poe, psychoanalysis, Purloined Letter, repetition, signifier, structuralism, subject

Lacan and the Formula of the “Purloined Letter”


Now, it seems more and more clear to us that this subject who speaks is beyond the ego…It’s also the question…to what extent does the symbolic relation, the relation of language, retain its value beyond the subject, in as much as it may be characterized as centred in an ego –by an ego, for an alter-ego? –Jacques Lacan, “Odd or even? Beyond intersubjectivity,”The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book II p. 175, 177.

In his second seminar, before introducing his thoughts on Poe’s “Purloined Letter,” Jacques Lacan raises the question of the “relation of signification to the living man” (186). In general, Lacan sees this story as revolving around problems of signification, meaning, received opinion and truth. What seems to animate Lacan in this early seminar is the fact that Poe’s story places intersubjectivity at its core, highlighting the dynamics at work in the different subjective positions that are oriented in the symmetrical series of the story. When Lacan tells us that “The subject adopts a mirror position, enabling him to guess the behavior of his adversary,” he is both simultaneously referring to the game of odds and even and to a later interpretation that sees the Minister taking the position of the Queen and becoming-femininized. How does this displacement of series take place? By hiding the letter in plain sight as the Queen does at the beginning of the story, the Minister foils the police (linked to the position of the State and the King) while at the same time repeating the Queen’s very actions: so one of the key questions is to reconstruct how the signifier performs this work in the series and what this means for Lacan’s conceptualization of signifying chains as a whole.

As Lacan reminds us, the letter itself is a character. At the same time, it is the presence-absence that allows the series to be composed as such (around which the King, Queen, Minister and Dupin revolve). The letter is the mighty signifier that constitutes the chain; as Lacan writes in his seminar in the Ecrits: “If what Freud discovered, and rediscovers ever more abruptly, has a meaning, it is that the signifier’s displacement determines subjects’ acts, destiny, refusals, blindnesses, success, and fate…” (21). The letter constitutes the signifying chains that come to dominate the signified symbolic universes that structure and tie the story’s characters together. If the signifier has priority over the signified (20) this is due to the fact that Lacan believes that the signifier is what represents the subject for another signifier. The subject oscillates between two signifying chains, S1 and S2 (which relate to the two series in Poe’s story). These chains come to symbolically structure the intersubjective relations among subjects (by definition) because the same master signifier (the letter) dominates both chains. In other words, the force of Lacan’s quote above resides in what he identifies as the formula behind Poe’s story.

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attention, barrier, deconstruction, lacan, language, metaphor, signifier, structure, subject, Thought, unconscious

For Lacan


The question of vigilance is important. It is as if a demon plays a game with your attention [lit. “watchfulness.”]


To identify a “subject” is not only difficult, but truly impossible: we always only ‘nominate’ in the last instance one of its barriers; or rather, we indicate only what is barred, but we do so by signifying the barrier.

How can we understand this barrier — this imaginary line of symbolic exchange? In what sense does it have an “articulable” structure?

We may risk the following thesis. There are two poles or dissymmetrical operations to metaphor, not quite internal and external, but rather ‘intimate’ or ‘extimate,’ characterizing the relationship of the barrier to what is ‘barred’ (from speech, consciousness, etc.)

For example, we can speak of a line of variation (instead of the ‘actual’ — intimate — varieties of matter); but we can also we speak of multiple figures or forms (instead of the ‘virtual’ — extimate — force of pure multiplicity.)

Thus ‘figurate speech’ is that which thinks by tying together the two figurative series, itinerantly circulating between the extimate and intimate poles of metaphor. The “subject” comprehends and expresses his reality metaphorically; the subject is a metaphor.
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Anaxagoras, becoming, being, chaos, cosmos, desire, discourse, freedom, infinity, intensity, lacan, morality, morphology, Nietzsche, nous, ontology, phenomenology, psychology, Theory / Philosophy, unconscious

Beyond Desire: Remarks on Nietzsche and Becoming



Topos (biocosm)



In the beginning all things were mixed together; then came understanding and created order.

Anaxagoras [1]

What had to be accomplished in that chaotic pell-mell of primeval conditions, before all motion, so that the world as it now is might come to be, with its times of day and times of year, all conforming to law, with its manifold beauty and order, all without the addition of any new substance or force?

How, in other words, could a chaos become a cosmos?

Friedrich Nietzsche [2]

The true difficulty for psychology is that the field of the unconscious is also the site of the production and interpretation of reality. With the unconscious we encounter thoughts and bodies mixed together heterogeneously, without the clear ontological divisions we tend in other disciplines to take simply for granted.

It is no wonder then why Lacan has suggested the reality of the unconscious is the most difficult subject for philosophers to approach [3] — for there is no ontological method which could aim to find handles on this incorporeal assemblage, on this “body without organs.” In the enfolding of the psychic within the material we discover a phenomenological reality of the unconscious which is necessarily presupposed by any ontological analysis. Continue reading