On David Lynch

In chapter 15 of Seminar XI, Lacan introduces the mysterious notion of the “lamella”: the libido as an organ without body, the incorporeal and for that very reason indestructible life substance that persists beyond the circuit of generation and corruption. It is no accident that commentaries on this passage are rare (for all practical purposes non-existent); the Lacan with whom we are confronted in this passage does not have a lot in common with the[ …]

The depraved heroes of 24 are the Himmlers of Hollywood

n Sunday, the fifth season of the phenomenally successful television drama 24 will start in the US. Each season is composed of 24 one-hour episodes and the whole season covers the events of a single day. The story of the latest series is the desperate attempt of the LA-based Counter Terrorist Unit to prevent an act of catastrophic magnitude and the action focuses on the unit’s agents, the White House and the terrorist suspects. The[ …]

Lenin Shot at Finland Station

Why is the flourishing genre of ‘what if?’ histories the preserve of conservative historians? The introduction to such volumes typically begins with an attack on Marxists, who allegedly believe in historical determinism. Take this latest instalment, edited by Andrew Roberts, who has himself contributed an essay on the bright prospects that would have faced Russia in the 20th century had Lenin been shot on arriving at the Finland Station. One of Roberts’s arguments in favour[ …]

The Act and Its Vicissitudes

What is an act in the strict Lacanian sense of the term? Recall C.S. Lewis’ description of his religious choice from his Surprised by Joy—what makes it so irresistibly delicious is the author’s matter-of-fact “English” skeptical style, far from the usual pathetic narratives of the mystical rapture. C.S. Lewis’ description of the act thus deftly avoids any ecstatic pathos in the usual style of Saint Theresa, any multiple-orgasmic penetrations by angels or God: it is[ …]

Why is Wagner Worth Saving?

[Appared in Journal of Philosophy and Scripture, 2004, Vol. 2, No. 1. pdf.] With Romanticism, music changes its role: it is no longer a mere accompaniment of the message delivered in speech, it contains/renders a message of its own, “deeper” than the one delivered in words. It was Rousseau who first clearly articulated this expressive potential of music as such, when he claimed that, instead of merely imitating the affective features of verbal speech, music[ …]

The Thing from Inner Space

JACQUES LACAN DEFINES ART itself with regard to the Thing: in his Seminar on the Ethics of Psychoanalysis, he claims that art as such is always organized around the central Void of the impossible-real Thing – a statement which, perhaps, should be read as a variation on Rilke’s old thesis that “Beauty is the last veil that covers the Horrible”. Lacan gives some hints about how this surrounding of the Void functions in the visual arts[ …]

The Superego and the Act

I want to begin with Coca-cola. It’s no surprise that Coca-cola was first introduced as a medicine. Its strange taste seems to provide no particular satisfaction. It is not directly pleasing, however, it is as such, as transcending any use-value, like water, beer or wine, which definitely do quench our thirst, that Coke functions as the direct embodiment of “IT”, the pure surplus of enjoyment over standard satisfactions. It is the mysterious and elusive X[ …]