debates was guilty / innocent was debates

kenneth.mackendrick at kenneth.mackendrick at
Tue Oct 17 08:44:26 PDT 2000

On Mon, 16 Oct 2000 12:16:55 -0700 (PDT) Miles Jackson <cqmv at> wrote:

> We are socially (not psychically!) constrained to be unitary

No, of course not, the subject is split!

> The cohesive, unitary subject is crucial to the functioning of our economic
system, our political system, and our legal system (I love the way dissociative identity cases tie the court up in knots--how do we punish one alter for a crime without punishing the innocent alters?). Why Z and friends go searching in some abstract inner realm to understand an obvious social fact eludes me.

Zizek & co. are interesting in the entwinement of identity, enjoyment and desire, how certain configuations of identity sustain themselves. This seems to me to be one of the most important questions for theory today: why do people remain religious after the critique of religion... how does nationalism sustain itself... what is the link between consumption, consumerism and identity... The M.O. of psychobabble is the splitting of the subject, its fracture... so the idea of a unified subjectivity is completely foreign. However, identity doesn't just fracture in any way, it breaks along fault lines - either structural or normative... the key point, however, for the babble is the Freudian notion that the uncs is unified through its imaginary associations. The counter argument, that both the cns and the uncs are fragmented is Butler's critique of Zizek. The rejoinder is that this effectively reduces all aspects of subjectivity to the symbolic... in a kind of material determinism.

"The world - not only ours - is fragmented. Yet is does not fall to pieces. To reflect upon this situation seems to me one of the primary tasks of philosophy today." - Cornelius Castoriadis


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