Neljä viimeistä kappaletta linkistä Slavoj Žižek Key Ideas.
(Kappalejaot minun; kaksi linkkilisäystä kohtaan The Window of Fantasy 23.6)
RACISM AND FANTASY
Fantasy as a Mask of the Inconsistency in the Big Other
One way at looking at the relationship between fantasy and the big Other is to think of fantasy as concealing the inconssistency of the Symbolic Order.
To understand this we need to know why the big Other is inconsistent or structured around a gap. The answer to this question is that when the body enters the field of signification or the big Other, it is castrated.
What Zizek means by this is that the price we pay for our admission to the univerdal medium of language is the loss of our full body selves. When we submit to the big Other we sacrifice direct access to our bodies and, instead, are condenmned to an indirect relation with it via the medium of language.
So, whereas, before we enter language we are what Zizek terms "pathological" subjects (the subject he notates by S), after we are immersed in language we are what he refers to as "barred" subjects (the empty subject he notates with $).
What is barred from the barred subject is precisely the body as the materialization or incarnation of enjoyment (jouissance). Material jouissance is strictly at odds with, or heterogenous to, the immaterial order of the signifier.
For the subject to enter the Symbolic Order, then, the Real of jouissance or enjoyment has to be evacuated from it. Which is another way to saying that the advent of the symbol entails "the murder of the thing".
Although not all jouissance is completely evacuated by the process of signification (some of it persists in what are called the erogenous zones), most of it is not Symbolized. And this entails that the Symbolic Order cannot fully account for jouissance - it is what is missing in the big Other.
The big Other is therefore inconsistent or structured around a lack, the lack of jouissance. It is, we might say, castrated or rendered incomplete by admitting the subject, in much the same way as the subject is castrated by its admission.
What fantasy does is to conceal this lack or incompletion. So, as we saw previously when alluding to the formulas of sexuation, "there is not sexual relationship" in the big Other.
What the fantasy of a sexual scenario thereby conceals is the impossibility of this sexual relationship. It covers up the lack in the big Other, the missing jouissance. In this regard, Zizek often avers that fantasy is a way for subjects to organize their jouissance - it is a way to manage or domesticate the traumatic loss of the jouissance which cannot be Symbolized.
The Window of Fantasy
For Zizek, racism is produced by a clash of fantasies rather than by a clash of symbols vying for supremacy. There are several distinguishing features of fantasy:
1. Fantasies are produced as a defence against the desire of the Other manifest in "What do you want from me?" - which is what the Other, in its inconsistency, really wants from me.
2. Fantasies provide a framework through which we see reality. They are anamorphic in that they presuppose a point of view, denying us an objective account of the world.
3. Fantasies are the one unique thing about us. They are what make us individuals, allowing a subjective view of reality. As such, our fantasies are extremely sensitive to the intrusion of others.
4. Fantasies are the way in which we organize and domesticate our jouissance .
Zizek contends that today's racism is just as reflexive as every other part of postmodern life. It is not the product of ignorance in the way it used to be. So, whereas racism used to involve a claim that another ethnic group is inherently inferior to our own, racism is now articulated in terms of a respect for another's culture.
Instead of "My culture is better than yours", postmodern or reflexive racism will argue that "My culture is different from yours".
As an example of this Zizek asks "was not the official argument for apartheid in the old South Africa that black culture should be preserved in its uniqueness, not dissipated in the Western melting-pot?
(The Fragile Absolute, or Why the Christian Legacy is Worth Fighting For)
For him, what is at stake here is the fethishistic disawoval of cynicism: "I know very well that all ethnic cultures are equal in value, yet, nevertheless, I will act as if mine is superior".
The split here between the subject of enunciated ("I know very well...") and the subject of the enunciation ("...nevertheless I act as if I didn't") is even preserved when racists are asked to explain the reasons for their behavior.
A racist will blame his socio-economic environment, poor childhood, peer group pressure, and so on, in such a way as to suggest to Zizek that he cannot help being racist, but is merely a victim of circumstances.
Thus postmodern racists are fully able to rationalize their behavior in a way that belies the traditional image of racism as the vocation of the ignorant.
The Ethics of Fantasy
For Zizek is the state that should act as a buffer between the fantasies of different groups, mitigating the worst effects of thoses fantasies. If civil society were allowed to rule unrestrained, much of the world would succumb to racist violence. It is only the forces of the state which keep it in check.
In the long term, Zizek argues that in order to avoid a clash of fantasies we have to learn to "traverse the fantasy" (what Lacan terms "traversing the fantôme). It means that we have to acknowledge that fantasy merely functions to screen the abyss or inconsistency in the Other.
In "traversing" or "going through" the fantasy "all we have to do is experience how there is nothing 'behind' it, and how fantasy masks precisely this 'nothing'".
(The Sublime Object of Ideology)
The subject of racism, be it a Jew, a Muslim, a Latino, an African-American, gay or lesbian, Chinese (kursiivi RR), is a fantasy figure, someone who embodies the void of the Other.
The underlying argument of all racism is that "if only they weren't here, it would be perfect, and society will be harmonius again".
However, what this argument misses is the fact that because the subject of racism is only a fantasy figure, it is only there to make us think that such a harmonious society is actually possible.
In reality, society is always-already divided. The fantasy racist figure is just a way of covering up the impossibility of a whole society or an organic Symbolic Order complete unto itself:
What appears as the hindrance to society's full identity with itself is actually its positive condition: by transposing onto the Jew the role of the foreign body which introduces in the social organism disintegration and antagonism, the fantasy-image of society qua consistent, harmonious whole is rendered possible.
(Enjoy Your Symptom! Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out)
Which is another way of saying that if the Jew qua fantasy figure was not there, we would have to invent it so as to maintain the illusion that we could have a perfect society. For all the fantasy figure does is to embody the existing impossibility of a complete society.