Simon Bayly on Sun, 5 Mar 2000 22:54:58 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Re: Zizek & symbolic order

"Symbolic order" as used by Zizek is a term primarily dervied from the
psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, Zizek's central influence. I recall that
it has quite a specific role to play in that theory, a theory that has been
heavily re-appropiated, adapted and applied to all manner of cultural critique.

As far as I know in the Lacanian view (not far...) entering the symbolic order is
something that all infants do when they learn - enter into - language and
representation. The crude analogy is this - instead of feeding her infant's
desire with milk and physical contact, the mother figure (not necessarily female)
feeds the infant with words - a series of representations and substitutions where
desire, power, etc blah blah circulate, etc, always already, etc.. you know the
kind of thing.

So the "symbolic order" is basically the order of representation. Or
"mediatization", to use an even more clumsy word, hence the immediate
metaphorical connection to a lifesphere now perceived my many as 100% permeated
with representation, media, electricity, etc.  There are other orders, all part
of the Lacanian structure of the self, as opposed to some kind of objective,
out-there state of shared world. Coexisting with the "symbolic", are the
"imaginary" and the "real", the latter being that which evades the symbolic
order, evades representation - not necessarily "for real", but even only in
fantasy, conscious or unconscious.

And before I stick my large foot in my mouth any further, that is as many
Lacanian eggs as I am prepared to arrogantly teach you all to suck....

Simon Bayly
London, UK.

Nettime-bold mailing list