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  • mono 2:43 am on April 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Hexing 2017, Lacan, Lacanian Film Studies, Object Petit a   

    Lacan’s Object Petit a in Horror 

    HEXING (2017): The Object Petit a of the Yantra is an article I wrote that explores the Lacanian notion of the ‘Object Petit a.’ The article uses the lens of the 2017 supernatural horror film Hexing to expand upon Lacan’s idea. Please read the article if you have further interest in this topic. Thank you!



  • mono 9:56 pm on April 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Lacan, Nonhuman, , , Social Form, , , Tentacle   



    The body adorned, the body’s metamorphosis into a garmented state – the interactive process – elevated both physically and imaginatively; The fashioned body as locus of reciprocity and individuality. Layering as self-transformation, on the periphery of self-visualization, never fully able to realize this realization in its wholeness. The fashioned body: the sticky tentacle for the other’s gaze and for the imagined representation of one’s self. Fashion: the disappearing-blossoming flesh of creative infusion with the expression of the designer’s work, an assemblage of vortexes surrounding the body, imaginatively composing the social body…The crevice between body and garment, that nether world, the beginning of the body.

  • mono 7:09 pm on April 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Grandpa Seth, Joshua, Lacan, , , , Specular Image, , , Web Cam   

    Social Media and The Specular Image: The Floating Head 


    For Jacques Lacan, “the specular image” can be envisioned through the example of one seeing oneself in the mirror. The act of seeing the perceived wholeness of oneself in the reflection of the mirror is captivating for the child. It is this captivating gaze that produces the specular image (Encyclopedia of Lacanian Psychoanalysis). Is it not the same with us in our daily lives: looking in the mirror to make sure that our hair is properly set, brushing one’s teeth and checking to make sure there are no toothpaste stains on the cheek or in the hazy moments upon awaking, looking at oneself in the mirror while wiping away the grime of sleep that sits in the eye.

    A Body in the Dark

    The specular image is actualized through the imagination. It is imaginary. One can truly experience this by trying the following: dim the lights or stand in a dark room. Look intently at one’s image in the mirror and try to grasp the face in all of its strangeness. Notice the shifting contents of the face, the transformative powers of the imagination come to life in this simple exercise. The body in the mirror reflects back the body’s surface. We cover our body in our imagination. Again, the Encyclopedia of Lacanian Psychoanalysis writes, “The specular image refers to the reflection of one’s own body in the mirror, the image of oneself which is simultaneously oneself and other — the ‘little other’.”

    Social Media: The Collectible Friend

    In 2004, when I first began using social media for artistic purposes, I realized the oddity of MySpace using the word “friend” as the person who adds you or you can add to your site. Moreover, the visual representation of that “friend” gave me a certain warmth and, at the same time, mixed with hysteria. One’s friend count seemed to be the measure by which others were ranked. The music side of MySpace was blossoming and I quickly sustained hundreds and eventually thousands of collectible “friends,” which is pretty impressive given that what I was creating was pure chaotic analog/digital noise. The specular image of oneself as a collectible” friend to others, reduced to an icon meant that one had to choose one’s visual mode of representation wisely, or at least fashionably…Moreover, the fascination of altering the image, my ‘little other’ increased while I worked to expand my network. What I did admire about those times was the willingness of others to collaborate. MySpace seemed like the perfect place to collaborate, share and establish lasting connections and I believe it was.

    I’m Shrinking

    How is one’s specular image represented in one’s use of social media? What kind of secret identities, code names, nicknames, aliases emerge and make space. How does the online self, the labyrinthine self navigate and make itself relevant? How is one’s disembodiment experienced through the use of that horrifying device: the web cam? The web cam shrinks one’s specular image to a reversed 2D image. One only needs to adjust the angle in order to transfigure the appearance of the face. NOTE: this was also heavily used in the hand-held Myspace profile shots or in ultra-close-ups, framing the face as point of personality, the floating head.

    The Floating Head in Troll 2

    In the film Troll 2 (dir. Claudio Fragasso), there is a scene where the young boy, Joshua is trying to communicate with his deceased grandfather’s spirit-body by concentrating on a mirror and willing for his grandfather to appear. The first part of the grandfather’s body which comes into being is nothing but a floating head, which quickly morphs and materializes into a violent goblin. This shift is interesting to me. First, we see the floating head coming from the nether world, but upon materialization there is a rift and the image of the grandfather is overtaken by an ugly monster. Who is the other that one addresses through the specular image of the camera or the web cam? Does it matter? How much do you stake on the online representation of the other? What, to you, is the experience of meeting the flesh-and-blood other after having interacted in a computerized networked environment?

    No Subject: Lacan
    Troll 2

  • mono 3:48 pm on April 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Decentered Self, Extimacy, , , , Lacan, , , , Social Media Fatigue, , , ,   

    The Extimacy of the Interface 

    Photo by Late Night Movie

    Between the person and the interface of social media, there is a human or humans. In this medium of the blog, I present the reader with static yet increasing snippets from my side of existence and from the zone of other networked friends, bloggers, writers, musicians, designers, critics and thinkers that are blended as a part of me and projected through me into this particular interface. This interface is likely to be one that is quickly passed over in the “stumbling” search for interesting (read: instantly consumable and sharable) web content, or aggregated into a syndicated reader of which one can skim the title for potential after-dinner relevancy. Perhaps this page will appear in a “Google” search for such oddities as “man in mini-skirt” or “Japanese character.” Or, the interface between myself and you could share some kind of interaction in the form of the comment, the email, the mutual subscription to our Twitter feeds.

    The New Sky

    The human body weakens with time spent sitting in front of one’s computer. Legs become restless, throats parched, yet the fingers and the eyes remain alert, remain active, irking out some yelp to be heard by a random passerby. Although, perhaps the yelp is felt in a close friend who is interfacing with the Web at the same time. Your legs, still growing restless for communication with the Earth outside, disappear from your consciousness, the power of the fingers taking control, the imagined presence of the close friend being delivered to your interface via a network, across multiple networks achieves some kind of satisfaction which stirs within you. Outside, there is the sky and the wind, but the Web has created a new kind of outside for you: the Web is not like gazing into the vast emptiness of the sky, but akin to strolling through the labyrinthine streets of Tokyo. Around this corner, a small restaurant located next to a contemporary art museum. Your options have expanded…you feel connected, but you are merely connected to the symbolic, the imaginary, to the interface of the other, a responsible interface nonetheless.


    Psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan coined the word “extimacy,” to express the intersubjective workings of the subject and of the unconscious. For Lacan, the subject is not only within him or herself, but also realized in the other. We could look at the interface of the Web and, moreover, Web 2.0 as a mode of exercising extimacy with other people. A social networking profile is created and within that profile is a blending of various symbols from film, TV, art, others’ photography and so on. Contacting others and “friending” others based on similar web-surfing habits expands one’s online self and entwines within one, the interests and symbolization of another person. Moreover, when looking at the interface of the computer screen, one experiences the decentering of one’s self-image, a fragmented mirroring back of oneself occurs. Desires that are posted by other people, become one’s own desires, desires that one did not even know existed. By expanding one’s network, one comes to see oneself as projected by these other people. Again, there is an intertwining, a conjoining of self and other and in this conjoining, an extimate self is realized.

    Meanwhile, you are brought back to your physical body, the body that wishes to move, to temporarily suspend time with this interface. You cannot see your own face, the reflection from the interface is put on “sleep mode” and you step away, into another interface.

    • ysinembargo magazine 6:28 am on April 1, 2009 Permalink

      Very interesting, J.G. We’re thinking on the extimacy concept for a future YSE issue.

      We enjoy your website.


  • mono 12:20 pm on April 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Data Portability, , Flickr, Fragmentation, , Labyrinthine Self, Lacan, Mash-Up, , , , , socialnetworks, TechCrunch,   

    A Messy Marco-Analysis of Social Media: The Labyrinthine Self 

    An example of a social network diagram.Image from WikipediaThe following is a messy macro-analysis of social media and I hope to elucidate these ideas in the coming weeks. Please bear with me. Also, if you have spent time with what is talked about here, please get in touch, suggest links, propose theories, probes, ideas, etc. I support fragmentation.

    It seems that the decentralization of the self across a number of social networking sites multiplies and fragments the self while creating what I want to call: the labyrinthine self. A definition of the labyrinthine self could be: the self that is created from the decentralization of one’s identity through the fragmentation of one’s knowledge-networks as existing within various social media platforms.

    An easy-to-understand example could be: one creates a Myspace page as a “Film Director,” one then creates a Youtube page as a “Film Director,” in order to extend one’s knowledge-network. In addition, to represent one’s “private” self, one joins Facebook to reconnect with old friends. In order to keep the world updated instantly, a Twitter feed is created, a “film blog” at typepad and finally a Secondlife character is designed in order to further spread one’s “films” or simply just to connect via the virtual world (with other Lindens). In doing this, one has essentially and willingly created the labyrinthine self, that is one’s self has extended to the extent that it has become impossible to fully keep track of and be in control of one’s own knowledge-network. In addition, the self in seeing itself existing across these platforms becomes fragmented. Data that is shared on Facebook is not shared on Twitter or Secondlife and so on. Moreover, even with sites that work to centralize one’s self (Friendfeed), I still see the labyrinthinization of the self. That is to say, even in the centralized space of Friendfeed, there is still a reliance on the labyrinth that one has created or that one is feeding off of. That is, what is Friendfeed apart from the decentralized sites that it allows one to share? Moreover, if anything Friendfeed sustains the fragmented self by willfully encouraging one to put back the puzzle of one’s social media existence.

    Then, there is “data portability,” which is the sharing of data across time-space. This means, jumping from node to node along the labyrinthine tunnel, consciously decentralizing oneself, while maintaining one identity, perhaps something like a “master password.” In this way, one jumps from room to room – different rooms are experienced, but you are still you, fragmented nonetheless.

    Within both of these examples is the unfolding of one’s knowledge-network and, moreover, the ability for one’s data to float through that network into a hither unknown area only to be re-appropriated by another person. That is to say, the “mash-up” trend in blogging. “Mash-up” is the conjoining of two or more things to create something new. It is kind of like cooking. If I mix one part “silly pet video from Youtube,” one part “crazy New York party pics from Flickr” and one part “book review from my favorite blog,” I create a new way of visualizing and interpreting the data, due to the unique context that I created. This leads to what we could even call “the mish-mash self,” the self that appropriates online symbols (images, music files, viral videos, photographs) and uses them to represent one’s self. In a way, this blog represents facets of my labyrinthine self and my mish-mash self. That is to say, one’s blog is a space where one, through the “mashing” of one’s favorite media, creates a new space, a new context from which to view the data.

    Questions for Consideration:

    How is the virtual representation of your identity transformed by your use of social networking sites?
    How deep does your knowledge-network go?
    Do you think that a centralized social media site will fulfill your social media desires? That is, do you prefer centralization or decentralization? What is the relationship of centralization and decentralization in sites like Myspace or Friendfeed?
    Where does Secondlife exist in all of this?

    The article that you have just read was inspired by and relates to: This blog
    Related articles

  • mono 12:01 pm on April 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Absolut Vodka, Absolut Zach, , , Lacan, Liquor and Wine, Publicity Image, Tim and Eric,   

    The Publicity Image: Zach Galifianakis and Absolut 

    Zach Galifianakis

    Zach Galifianakis recently made a commercial for Absolut Vodka (featuring the comedic duo “Tim and Eric“). Apparently, Galifianakis was given complete control in the making of this commercial. How are we supposed to react to this video? What is this publicity image saying to us? What creeps in below the radar and why is this such an uncomfortably funny video?

    In his book “Ways of Seeing,” John Berger analyzes ‘the publicity image’ in contemporary culture and through the lens of oil paintings. Today, I will try to see the Zach Galifianakis Absolut ad in a different way, paying special attention to it and try to flesh it out a little bit.

    First, the visual aesthetic of the commercial is important as this is a highly stylized piece. That is, the first thing we notice is that we are somehow not in the ‘real’ world. What I mean is that, it seems that the commercial takes place in some kind of margin of reality, a zone located somewhere between our common everyday experience and an obscene dream-space where anything can happen. Perhaps, the semblance of reality is just that, a semblance, perhaps we have truly entered into Galifianakis’s fantasy space: the strange wigs blurring the genders of the characters, the white robes, symbolizing purity, comfort and affluence or the modern suburban sterility of the room and talk of the hot-tub seem to transport us to a kind of “soap-opera” realm of intrigue.

    And, what role does Absolut play in all of this? Well, it seems that Absolut is portrayed as being an elixir from the Gods, a substance both sublime and terrifying. I like how Galifianakis and crew savor the vodka, smelling its aroma, stirring it, sipping it and fully embracing it as a holy fetishistic object. The whole idea of “Absolut on ice,” simply being enjoyed by itself is unsettling. Moreover, despite the bizarre nature of their conversations, when the Absolut begins flowing, everything is momentarily restored to a deceptive serenity (until Zach’s agressivity is unleashed). What this is saying is twofold, perhaps threefold: First, there is Asolut as decadent fetish object (the smelling, excessive savoring), then there is Absolut as monster (Galifianakis snapping violently about the temperature of the hot tub), third, Absolut as peace-bringer (if only you drink Absolut, harmony will temporarily be restored to your life…a terrifying serenity).

    Berger, in his book writes: “Publicity persuades us of such a transformation by showing us people who have apparently been transformed and are, as a result, enviable. The state of being envied is what constitutes glamour. And publicity is the process of manufacturing glamour (Berger 131).” The transformation that he speaks of is the way we will come to see ourself after buying the new product, after giving in to the publicity image. However, it is very difficult to read the Zach Galifianakis Absolut commercial in terms of envy. We can easily see the glamour image as represented in the decor of the room, the robes, the hairstyles and the music, but there is something absolutely evil underlying this publicity image, which is what I really admire about this commercial. That is, Galifiankis does give us a taste of the transformation, but the transformation is so disconnected from our everyday reality that it is terrifying and uncomfortable. Do we envy Galifiankis’s character? Does the spectator-viewer wish to transform his or her life into this kind of maddening phantasmatic nightmare? I would even go further and ask, are we supposed to think that these are human beings? Are they not portrayed as some kind of perverse angels (spirits) existing in a horrifying zone of fantasy?

    However, I think many of us when watching this can easily relate to it on some level. That is, although a bit unsettling and funny, when we hear the empty conversation, the, as Lacan may say “lure” of converation, we understand what is going on. For Lacan, the “lure” is the intentional deceptive conversational game that we play in our everyday life. It is talking about hot tubs when we really want to say something else. What is really being talked about in these empty conversations? In this commercial, I see an underlying aggressivity and unpredictability exuding from these characters: the outburst of anger, the excessive laughter, the opening conversation scene in all its deceptive banality…But, again, Absolut is seen as the elixir, the horrific and calming savior in this vague world of deception.

    I admire Galifianakis for making this “commercial,” and it is great to see him able to exercise his genius. Now, where is my absolut on ice?

    The Absolut Video by Zach Galifianakis can be seen here: ABSOLUT ZACH

    • trent 12:36 pm on June 17, 2009 Permalink

      what are you talking about? robes symbolizing purity? you just made that up

    • Clark 7:24 am on July 21, 2010 Permalink

      I like what you had to say about Zack and his co-conspirators in this series. After watching these commercials, I wrote this evaluation –

      Marketing Metadiscourse: An exploration of the marriage of comedy and advertising in referencing the marketing process.

      What impressions of the product and or company are made when the restrictions on creative expression in the design, direction, and theme of cult advertising projects are gone and left completely to the comedians? Is this a new directional trend for popular brands? When updated marketing strategies call for more risky ideas and execution, AND thanks to TiVo and DVR, broadcast television and even cable or satellite advertising may be an afterthought when compared to new social media like Youtube and others. Funny or Die, a comedy-themed video networking site co-created by comedy legend Will Ferrell, has a total viewership of many many millions, and is a place for biting critiques, sketches and parodies that are often “too-much-for-TV” and viral in nature.
      Hidden among these short vignettes is a series of actual advertisements which are sponsored by a brave new marketing team at Absolut, a long-time leader in the fine vodka market. While endearing and humorous at times, the 2-3 minute commercials seem to fall apart in leadership and the viewer is shown the seriousness of the advertising agenda that directors must come to terms with, despite what their most comedic and playful intentions belie.

      But is that their goal? Are we, the audience so malleable and naïve to believe that these comedians didn’t simply write the gaffes and fighting and lack of direction into the script? Does letting the boom mics show and the wigs come off provide a mirror to the intentions of all purveyors of promotional tools? Or is that ALSO a promotional tool? By not falling in line with straight-forward commercial direction, they profess to be distanced from the company and indeed the “uncool” nature of marketers who have infiltrated the realm of “comedy for its own sake” for their PROFITS sake.

      Funny is funny only if left unviolated, because it IS sacred and people know that, so they might as well point it out as obtusely as possible, poke fun at the process. We know they’re trying to sell vodka, and consumers will buy it anyway, but dammit, why shouldn’t they be allowed to make us laugh at the WAY that normal companies promote their image? Alignment with comedy professionals is not so terrible. They know what they’re doing. The results are hilarious…. It reminds you that its OK to “let your boom mics show”. We know they’re there and it’s refreshing to see behind the scenes of production sometimes. We’re all promoting ourselves whether we realize it or not and we like the implication that something is fake when it so obviously is, especially in this case. To that end, I say “Awesome commercial, great job!”

  • mono 10:15 am on April 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adam Sandler, , Emily Watson, Jon Brion, Lacan, Lacanian Psychoanalysis, , , Paul Thomas Anderson, Punch-Drunk Love,   

    Punch-Drunk Love: Probing Love with Lacan 

    Barry and Lena kiss in a silhouetteImage from Wikipedia

    Punch-Drunk Love” is a film by Paul Thomas Anderson starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves) with original music by Jon Brion. I first saw this film while living in South Korea and something about it moved me very much. I later revisited the film while in the United States and finally, I have re-re-discovered this film while living in Japan. This film is about Barry Egan (Sandler) who suffers from the trauma of social interaction while dealing with ‘rage’ issues, which we see is greatly due to the intense pressuring and verbal bullying by his sisters (he has seven sisters). The film unfolds along four lines. First, we see Barry fighting the pressure of his sisters. Second, we find Barry battling a phone sex mattress man along with his goons. Third, we find Barry engaged in a ‘healthy choice’ deal and finally, Barry learning to love as he meets Emily Watson’s character (who we find has grown up an only child). The convergence of these four lines is a celebration of the power of love and Barry’s struggle to overcome his fear of social interaction and channel his rage.

    Visually, this film unfolds with great audio and color contrasts. Near the beginning of the film we find a harmonium randomly dropped off in front of Barry’s office building. Suddenly, a truck crashes and rolls over. This scene goes from almost near silence to the deafening crash of twisted metal. Clearly, we are experiencing the scene from Barry’s inner perspective, a world suffering from the intensity of events. Also, when we are in Barry’s office (a warehouse), we are confronted with the stark darkness of his warehouse and the blinding light of the outdoors, a pure white light. Again, we see and feel the intensity of Barry’s world.

    From the Encyclopedia of Lacanian Psychoanalysis, we find an interesting description of “love”: “Love is directed not at what the love-object has, but at what he lacks, at the nothing beyond him. The object is valued insofar as it comes in the place of that lack.” In this film Punch-Drunk Love Sandler and Watson’s characters are near opposites. Again, Sandler grew up with the pressuring of his seven sisters, while Watson an only child. What is it that Watson’s character finds so interesting in Sandler’s character? For Watson, Sandler’s character is visibly suffering. She can see it in his communication with his sisters and with his communication with himself (the restaurant scene where Sandler is so very uncomfortable that he destroys the bathroom). I think that we can easily read the love relationship between Sandler and Watson along Lacanian lines. That is to say, Watson sees in Sandler the insecurity and helplessness that is lacking in her life and the helplessness that is lacking in her own. To connect with Sandler’s character is to connect with that part of herself that is not yet in existence, that part of herself that she wishes to bring into existence. For Sandler, it is the same. He sees in Watson the image of a powerful and secure human being, one who is able to leap off to Hawaii for a business trip and one who is not afraid of giving her keys to a stranger (the beginning of the film). That is to say, one who does not fear social interactions and who is not as powerless as Sandler.

    Moreover, the battle between Sandler and the phone sex mattress man situation can be read as Sandler’s struggle to fill this lack of security. He finds his very world shattered by the intrusion of the obscene phone sex situation, however, it is only through this problem that he overcomes his struggles with coming to protect his love with Watson. This mattress man is a necessary obstacle in his battle of fulfillment. To free himself, he must overcome himself.

    I am not a master on Lacanian psychoanalysis, so any feedback or references to Lacanian work on “love” is appreciated.

    • The Travelling Mendicant 2:36 pm on May 1, 2008 Permalink

      I guess regarding the Lacanian conception of Love, you may want to refer to how Lacan uses words such as “Ideal Ego” and “Ego Ideal” in reference to Love. Also is interesting the way Lacan places the role of Jouissance, esp when he says that Love is when we give what we don’t have to someone who didn’t want it in the first place… I guess one can read that ever elusive thing as Jouissance… what say u?

      Btw, I haven’t watched the film, after reading this, am getting a copy of this film and plan to watch it tonight.

    • jgrefe 10:00 pm on May 11, 2008 Permalink

      Please let me know your thoughts after you watch the film as you seem to be quite familiar with Lacanian thought. If you would like to submit a guest post on the subject, please let me know.

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