fredag 5 juni 2015

Inför nationaldagen: Lacan om rasismen och moderniteten

Josefina Ayerza: The problem seems to entail on the one hand investigation - how is the Other enjoying? - and on the other, control over the ways of enjoyment of the Other? 

Slavoj Zizek: Yes, because these are two basic fantasies, which are of course the reverse of each other. The one we all know, Jacques Lacan talked about in the late 1960s, when he predicted racism. For Lacan, racism is a kind of revenge of the particularity in the universal field of the signifier. Lacan's idea is that racism is a kind of reaction to this universal field of the signifier, the only way to not be dissolved and lost in this universality. The only way to stick out, the only support you can find, is to stick to your particular way of enjoyment, which then involves you in this racial paranoia, of course. You formulate your identity on the fantasy that the Other is the one who automatically wants to steal from you.

These are the two basic fantasies: one is that the Other wants to steal from us our precious enjoyment. The other idea, like with the Jew, is that the Other possesses some kind of excessive and strange enjoyment, which is in itself a threat to us. By the way, another amusing point that I developed is this idea of how enjoyment can be stolen.

In the United States, I was struck by the series of films like Rambo, Missing in Action, etc., which are based on the American obsession that there are still some prisoners, some Americans alive down there in Vietnam. The hero, Rambo, saves them, brings them back. I think the fantasy behind it is that the most precious part of America was stolen and the hero brings it back to where it belongs. Because this "treasure" was missing under Jimmy Carter, America was weak. If the hero brings it back, America will be strong again. Even in America, the most developed country in the world, you can see how this logic of enjoyment, the fantasy that the precious part of our enjoyment may be stolen by the Other, is at work. Because again, it is only against this fantasy background that you can explain the real obsession of the media, which is by the way, totally irrational. The idea that there are some young honest Americans, still prisoners of war, still alive down there in Vietnam, this is obviously a totally marginal problem-even if there really are some. You cannot explain such an obsession without this kind of fantasy scenario.

And this is again where Lacan was in a way, to put it naively, ahead of his time, because he did already predict this new upsurge of racism in the middle-to-late 1960s, in. Lacan predicted precisely in 1968, that when the student enthusiasm ended, there would be a new age of racism. This again indicates that the Spinozist universal field cannot be our ultimate answer. The usual illusion is that racism is a kind of fundamentalist remainder of the past. No it is not a remainder from the past; it is not some remainder of old traditions to be dissolved by progress toward an even more computerized Spinozist universe. Instead, it is produced by modernity. What we call fundamentalisms are precisely desperate attempts to cling to some forms of jouissance.

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