Simon Bayly on Mon, 6 Mar 2000 00:01:10 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> 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

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

Simon Bayly
London, UK.

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