That are likely to do good folk harm
But mine never do
For they smile the day through
And greet me with wide open arms
...the pervert's universe is the universe of pure symbolic order, of the signifier's game running its course, unencumbered by the Real of human finitude.-Slavoj Zizek, "The Matrix, or Two Sides of Perversion"
And, back to sexual difference, I am tempted to risk the hypothesis that, perhaps, the same logic of zero-institution should be applied not only to the unity of a society, but also to its antagonistic split: what if sexual difference is ultimately a kind of zero-institution of the social split of the humankind, the naturalized minimal zero-difference, a split that, prior to signalling any determinate social difference, signals this difference as such? The struggle for hegemony is then, again, the struggle for how this zero-difference will be overdetermined by other particular social differences. It is against this background that one should read an important, although usually overlooked, feature of Lacan's schema of the signifier: Lacan replaces the standard Saussurean scheme (above the bar the word "arbre," and beneath it the drawing of a tree) with, above the bar, two words one along the other, "homme" and "femme," and, beneath the bar, two identical drawings of a door. In order to emphasize the differential character of the signifier, Lacan first replaces Saussure's single scheme with a signifier's couple, with the opposition man/woman, with the sexual difference; but the true surprise resides in the fact that, at the level of the imaginary referent, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE (we do not get some graphic index of the sexual difference, the simplified drawing of a man and a woman, as is usually the case in most of today's restrooms, but THE SAME door reproduced twice). Is it possible to state in clearer terms that sexual difference does not designate any biological opposition grounded in "real" properties, but a purely symbolic opposition to which nothing corresponds in the designated objects — nothing but the Real of some undefined X which cannot ever be captured by the image of the signified?
In Chapter 5 of the "The Ticklish Subject" Zizek writes "Why Perversion is Not Subversion." By referring to Freud and Lacan, he states that "hysteria and perversion - not perversion - offer a way into the Unconscious." Zizek says that hysteria is much more threatening to the hegemony (247) and provokes the "Master ambiguously" and that it includes doubts and questions. Whereas perversion is socially constructed (247) and undermines the Master’s position (247). It is just an “Acting out” – an "Ersatzhandlung," if you will.Source: Slavoj Zizek. "The Ticklish Subject." London and New York: Verso, 2000: (247-257).
One of Zizek's political examples to prove his point is national identity – e.g. Anti-colonialist national liberation movements: These movements, he claims, were only possible through the introduction of the “Nation” as a concept by the Western colonizers. While in pre-colonial times these communities had a self-enclosed ethnic awareness, now after oppression/colonization they urge to create an own nation-state and discriminate from other ethnicities. Strictly speaking, this would not be an hysteric action, it is the pervert's action, it is provoking the master (colonizer). In fact it can only happen because of the master.
This is an example that perversion is not subversion, since the “Anti-colonialist national liberation” movement does not offer an entry into the unconscious, it does not "change" things in the deeper level. The national identity is a (necessary) side-effect of colonialism.
By using the psychoanalytic definitions of hysteria and perversion, Žižek enters his political criticism of other theorists. He uses his argument to question political theories of power. At the end, he does not offer a concrete solution, but has established himself in the hysteric position, I believe. He is the one posing questions! And by criticizing other "masters," or "wannabe master narratives of theoreticians" he is not being a pervert, since he does not take the opposite position, but questions them and displays their weaknesses. He provokes "the master ambiguously." And by master, I am referring to prevailing theoreticians of late 20th century. Žižek is the hysteric "threatening the hegemony."
One afternoon in Wonderland, Alice came upon a table set out under a tree, very close to a smart-looking house. The table was long, and laid out for a tea party. At the table sat the March Hare wearing a fine suit and a very showy tie.- Lewis Carroll, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
Alice observed how the Hare's very furry ears stretched up to the sky giving him the apparent longitude of a Hare twice his size. “He's probably a very good listener,” thought Alice.
Alongside the March Hare sat a man in a quirky suit wearing a hat that was both tall and fat and entirely haphazard in the way it kinked and twisted its way up into the air above him. Alice knew at once must be the Mad Hatter of whom she had heard.
Squashed between the March Hare and the Mad Hatter was a Dormouse.
The March Hare saw Alice approach. “Have some wine,” he said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all around the table but saw nothing but tea pots, cups and cakes. “I don't see any wine,” she replied.
"There isn't any,” snapped the Hare.
“Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it,” said Alice, angrily.
“It wasn't civil of you to sit down without being invited,” retorted the March Hare.
He examined Alice's hair and squirmed. Alice felt a little embarrassed.
“I'm sure I brushed it,” she thought, “And even if I didn't, it's very rude to squirm like that!”
Suddenly the Mad Hatter woke up with a snort. “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?” he asked.
Alice was pleased. She liked riddles. “I believe I can guess that,”she said.“
Do you mean...?” said the March Hare,“ that you think you can find out the answer?”
“Exactly so,” said Alice.
“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.
“I do,” said Alice, “at least, I mean what I say: that's the same thing you know.”
“It's not the same thing at all!” said the Hatter. “You might as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same as 'I eat what I see.'‛
Alice was trying hard to follow the debate but things were moving fast.
“You might just as well say,” added the March Hare, “that I like what I get is the same as I get what I like.”
Then, it was the turn of the Doomouse who appeared to be talking even in his sleep. “You might just as well say, that I breathe when I sleep is the same as I sleep when I breathe.”
Alice fell mute. “This is all very confusing,” she thought.
The Mad Hatter was the first to break the silence. “What day of the month is it?” he said, turning to Alice and checking his watch.
Alice considered it a little and said, “the fourth.”
“I knew it” cried the Hatter, banging his watch on the table. “Two days wrong.”
“What a funny watch,”Alice remarked, examining the watch face. “It tells the day of the month but not what o'clock it is!”
“Why should it?” said the Hatter. “Does your watch tell you what year it is?”
It was then that the Mad Hatter returned to the subject of his opening retort. “Have you guessed the riddle yet?” he asked.
“What riddle?” said Alice.
“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”
“No. I give up,” Alice replied. “What's the answer?”
“I haven't the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.
Alice sighed wearily. “I think you might do something better with time than wasting it in asking silly riddles.”
“If you knew Time like I know time you wouldn't talk about wasting it. Time is not an ‘it’. It's a ‘him’. So there!”
The Dormouse suddenly woke up, much to the excitement of the March Hare. “Tell us a story,” said the March Hare.
“Yes do,”said Alice clapping her hands.
The Dormouse yawned and rubbed his eyes and then set off on his story in such a great hurry it was very hard for Alice to keep up. “Once upon a time there were three sisters. Their names were Elsie, Lacie and Tillie and they lived at the bottom of a well.”
“And what did they live on?”asked Alice.
“They lived on treacle,” said the Dormouse.
“That's impossible,” Alice exclaimed, “They would have been very ill.”
“And so they were,” said the Dormouse, “very ill.”
“But why did they eat only treacle?” asked Alice.
“It was a treacle well,” replied the Dormouse.
“There's no such thing,” said Alice, “and even if there was such a thing, what were they doing there?”
“Learning to draw,” replied the Dormouse.
Alice was getting crosser by the minute. “But how can you draw treacle?” she demanded.
“You can draw water out of a water-well,” said the Hatter, “so I think you could draw treacle out of a treacle well. You really are very stupid, Alice.”
Alice didn't stay for tea. She left as the March Hare and the Mad Hatter tried their best to push the poor Dormouse into a tea pot.
- William Blake, "Infant Joy"
"I have no name;
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!
You are wisdom, uncreated and eternal,- Prayer to St. Denis, "The Cloud of Unknowing" (14th century)
the supreme first cause, above all being,
sovereign Godhead, sovereign goodness,
watching unseen the God-inspired wisdom of Christian people.
Raise us, we pray, that we may totally respond
to the supreme, unknown, ultimate, and splendid height
of your words, mysterious and inspired.
There all God's secret matters lie covered and hidden
under darkness both profound and brilliant, silent and wise.
You make what is ultimate and beyond brightness
secretly to shine in all that is most dark.
In your way, ever unseen and intangible,
you fill to the full with most beautiful splendor
those souls who close their eyes that they may see.
And I, please, with love that goes on beyond mind
to all that is beyond mind,
seek to gain such for myself through this prayer.
Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.- Marcus Aurelius
Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.-Jorge Luis Borges
-Jorge Luis Borges, "The Art of Poetry"
To gaze at a river made of time and water
and remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.
To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.
To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a sound, and a symbol.
To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness--such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.
Sometimes at evening there's a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.
They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.
Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.
- Dante, "Purgatorio" [XXXIII.91-99 (tr. Hollander)]
To that I (Dante) answered: ‘As far as I remember
I have not ever estranged myself from You (Beatrice),
nor does my conscience prick me for it.’
‘But if you cannot remember that,’
she answered, smiling, ‘only recollect
how you have drunk today of Lethe,
‘and if from seeing smoke we argue there is fire
then this forgetfulness would clearly prove
your faulty will had been directed elsewhere.’
- John Keats, "Bright Star"
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.