Monday, September 5, 2016

What is Lost

The French are terribly enamored of Lacan with his symbolic and imaginary and real, and the name of the father. Lacan leans a little too heavily on Freud for my tastes and extends the patriarchal view of things, deemphasizing contributions of our understanding of the importance of the early maternal-infant relationship. Like the homunculus, a fully formed tiny human, ‘seen’ through the microscope inside the human sperm (Hartsoeker and Leeuwenhoek), thereby giving full credit to the male of the species for the preformation of the next generation, so does Lacan disregard that it is the maternal caregiver who first imparts language and law (discipline and guidance) on the infant offspring, long before any oedipal taboos.

Donna Bentolila [who will be in Tampa on Sept 10, 2016] invokes Lacan and Freud in her paper on revisiting the Death Drive (1996). Here she notes the phenomenon that desire remains ultimately unfulfilled, thus the repetition to forever chase after what we cannot have (the lost Other) as part of the human condition. [Like Freud, I think of the death drive as partially biological as in the necessity of death to make room for new life and in the second law of thermodynamics where matter tends towards the lowest energy state—making life and any biological system a kind of miracle in its randomness and its opposition to entropy. And like Winnicott, I prefer to think of destruction as a necessary dialectic allowing the Other to come into being, and a necessity in creativity.]

But it is Bentolila’s nod to difference which brings a bittersweetness to mind. Juxtaposed with sameness— a sameness which obfuscates difference— she speaks of “Eros, the union of two beings into One." She goes on to write: “For Bataille the ultimate meaning of eroticism is a state of fusion between the partners which, insofar as it involves no separation, acts to suppress all boundaries while sustaining a perfect continuity.” Later she adds “a question of an impossible jouissance with an already lost object related to our impotence to retrieve the thing (das ding) in the real.”

Ah, the lost object. To quote Robert Frost again (Reluctance, 1913):

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To… bow and accept the end
Of a love, or a season?

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