Saturday, August 17, 2013

On Symbolism

The Symbolic - Although an essentially linguistic dimension, Lacan does not simply equate the symbolic with language, since the latter is involved also in the imaginary and the real. The symbolic dimension of language is that of the signifier, in which elements have no positive existence but are constituted by virtue of their mutual differences. It is the realm of radical alterity: the Other. The unconscious is the discourse of the Other and thus belongs to the symbolic order. Its is also the realm of the Law that regulates desire in the Oedipus complex. The symbolic is both the "pleasure principle" that regulates the distance from das Ding, and the "death drive" which goes beyond the pleasure principle by means of repetition: "the death drive is only the mask of the symbolic order." This register is determinant of subjectivity; for Lacan the symbolic is characterized by the absence of any fixed relations between signifier and signified.
Tony Meyers, "Slavoj Zizek: Key Ideas"


In the Ethics of Psychoanalysis, Lacan develops the neighbor as “das Ding”, (the Thing) a pre-symbolic object characterized primarily by affect and appearing in the symbolic realm prior to any and all representation. Das Ding is a substanceless void, and in structure it is equivalent to the neighbor, or the Other. The Other takes on a “thing-like” character based on an excess materiality that always resists symbolization in the register of the real. This Other as object is filled in by a certain distance, what Lacan refers to as proximity, a proximity that is identical to the neighbor. As Lacan comments, “the neighbor is identical to the subject, in the same way that one can say the Nebenmensch that Freud speaks of as the foundation of das Ding as his neighbor.” Lacan’s theory of the neighbor-as-das-Ding is rooted in Freud’s conception of das Ding:
“and so the complex of the neighbor divides into two constituent parts the first of which impresses through the constancy of its compos[i]tion, its persistence as a Thing, while the other is understood by means of memory-work…”
-Daniel Tutt, "The Object of Proximity"

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