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Sunday, January 22, 2012

“This Desire That Isn’t Mine” - Distributed Desire and the Consciousless Subject


"Neo-liberal Perversions: Fantasy and Gaze in Contemporary Culture" 
The College at Brockport (SUNY)

April 28-29, 2012

Panel: “The Other That Does Not Exist”

Paper: “This Desire That Isn’t Mine”
Distributed Desire and the Consciousless Subject


Vincenzo Di Nicola
Doctoral candidate, European Graduate School

As part of a doctoral dissertation on ‘Trauma and Event” calling for a new, objective phenomenology to declare the end of trauma psychiatry and call for an evental psychiatry, this paper invokes a series of ideas that undermine received notions of the conscious subject as a bounded individual to describe the subject that emerges from the Truth-Event:

·      Alain Badiou’s “fidelity-subjectivity” as reciprocally constitutive of event and truth;
·      Freud’s “nachträglich”/Lacan-Zizek’s “après-coup” meaning a chronologically anterior event as supplement to a posterior one;
·      Norman Cameron’s “paranoid pseudo community” as an extreme case but plausible model for relational psychology;
·      René Girard’s mimetic theory, buttressed by mirror neurons to found a theory of imitation, establishes psychology as ineluctably social;
·      Ian Hacking’s “looping effects” as reciprocal influences of professional and public discourses to explain the emergence of diagnostic categories and lived conditions with a “looping” back and forth;
·      Slavoj Zizek’s “plague of fantasies” as a deluge of imagery from the Other;
·      Badiou’s “subjectizable body” posits three types of subject, each with key processes and emblematic situations. Whereas the positivist project of modernity concerns the boundaries of the subject and paradoxically aims to tame or erase subjectivity through technology (Neil Postman):

o   The faithful subject is marked by porosity (cf. Walter Benjamin), open to radical change and witnessing (e.g., St. Paul, Primo Levi, Giorgio Agamben) of desire through processes of absorption/incorporation.

Two responses occur when porosity becomes a threat: dissipation or mimesis. These responses are described through these pairs: centrifugal vs. centripetal, dispersal vs. containment, evacuation vs. encapsulation.

o   The reactive subject, who is marked by dissipation, experiences rupture as trauma through a process of dispersal/evacuation.

o   The obscure subject is marked by mimesis, whose emblematic experience is paranoia, triggered by failed attempts at containment/encapsulation.

This paper explores one element in this sketch: Walter Benjamin’s porosity and other relational processes (Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogism, Badiou’s multiplicity) to propose the notion of distributed desire as the emblematic feature of the faithful subject emerging from the Event. Vignettes from the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004) and Lacanian psychoanalyst Paul Verhaeghe’s Love in a Time of Loneliness (1999) provide illustrations. Just as après-coup (Lacan/Zizek) means that significance is in the future perfect tense—what “will have been,” distributed desire means that desire is never located, much less owned, only imitated, shared. Purely contingent, disembodied, distributed desire is appropriated by naming and incarnated through love by the faithful subject.


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