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  • mono 5:00 pm on March 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Hysteria, , , , Slavoj Zizek, Undead,   

    Virtual Hysteria: Cyberspace and Reality 

    The experience of engaging in cyberspace, of living through this interface, presents one with challenging experiences as to the virtuality of the self and to the virtuality of reality. That is, the ability to create (or have created for you), maintain (be maintained) and, ultimately lose control of one’s internet identity and the greeting of the disconnected other fosters what Slavoj Zizek calls “the hysterical experience” of cyberspace.

    In his online interview, aptly entitled “Hysteria and Cyberspace,” Zizek challenges the idea of reality by saying, “What was so shocking about virtual space was not that before there was a ‘real’ reality and now there is only a virtual reality, but through the experience of VR we have somehow retroactively become aware how there never was ‘real reality.'” For Zizek, our experience of “reality” is always caught up in our phantasmatic perceptions of reality. That is, we are constantly seeing things as we interpret-ably experience them to be, how they are talked about and how we phantastically relate to them in terms of what they mean to us. We do not see the other in all of his or her traumatic (and horrifying) intensity, but in our fantasizing as to who we see them to be (perhaps in relation to ‘the big Other’). As he says, “I think a certain dimension of virtuality is co-substantial with the symbolic order or the order of language as such.” That is to say, the idea of “virtual reality” is nothing new, that in fact, our experience via language or via symbols are already immersing us in the virtual.

    Also, Zizek speaks of “the undead” horror of cyberspace. That is to say, one’s identity disperses, is present even after one is gone or after one “logs off.” Recently, a vlogger on Youtube passed away and many videos honoring (or criticizing) him were uploaded. Most of the people honoring his death had never met him face-to-face, but only through the interface of Youtube. The horror of the situation is that his videos continue to circulate, they continue to be watched by people who may or may not know that he has passed away.

    The idea of hysteria can be readily understood as Zizek points us to the situation of reading/writing emails. He writes, “There is actually a great deal of uncertainty in these forms of communication: You can never be sure who is reading your input or in what way.” It is this absence of the flesh-and-blood other, which has escaped us and we are left with only a trace of the other, a trace void of situational context. One can perceive this horror in the threat of spam mail. That is, what appeared to be an email from a friend or relative turns out to be a meaningless yet threatening virus.

    I think that ultimately for Zizek, hysteria arises from the uncertainty of addressing the other via cyberspace. “I don’t know what the other wants from me and thus I try in advance to reflect this uncertainty.”

    Does this not adequately reflect the problem which we face in our cyberspatial existences? Who is the other who addresses me and what do they want from me? Is this other a real other or simply a ‘chat bot’ conversing through programmed outbursts of grammar.

    This interview can be read in its entirety here: http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/2/2492/1.html
    All quotations are taken from this article.

    • hysteria movie 4:43 am on May 18, 2014 Permalink

      Try as I might, I seldom got past the sense that
      all three actors were playing characters rather than deeply inhabiting them, an impression that’s reinforced by the fact that Jung,
      Freud and Spielrein eventually become advocates
      for different – if overlapping – views of human behavior.

      This, in turn, can improve experiences in the bedroom.
      But, what if your reality tunnel is being ‘hacked’.

  • mono 2:09 pm on March 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Chunkobliss, Hip-Hop, , Natural Shine, Possession, Rapture, Sensational, Sensational Meets Kouhei, Slavoj Zizek, Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King, The Exorcist, The Shining, Wine, Wordsound   

    Natural Shine and Rapture: Sensational 


    In his song “Fine Wine,” from the Sensational meets Kouhei self-titled album, Sensational repeats “Doing it all the time. I got that taste like fine wine.” I think that this is a perfect description of this obscure artist’s addictive verbal flow. For one to truly appreciate the genius of Sensational, one must devote oneself to a steady diet of his work, but be warned, Sensational seeps into one’s pores and may cause a pleasant or disconcerting feeling of inebriation. You may lose balance.

    It is not unusual to see depictions of religious television evangelists lose bodily control and begin speaking in tongues. In this state of obscene vocal possession, strange sounds pour out of the speaker’s mouth apparently being transmitted and controlled by supernatural forces from beyond. And, in Slavoj Zizek’s “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (dir. Sophia Fiennes),” one can see his analysis of “The Exorcist” where he analyzes the terrifying dimension of the voice. “Voice is not an organic part of the human body. It is coming from somewhere in between your body” he says. When one listens to the flow of Sensational, one can hear something akin to possession, a voice emanating words from without, a voice off-balance, a pure voice. That is to say, it is as if Sensational, when flowing, taps into a rarely accessed dimension of the human voice, an altered state of vocal consciousness, in communication with an almost monstrous linguistic force.

    I would argue that it is not necessarily the content of his rhymes that are engaging, but the way in which he flows them, his, as he mentions, “natural shine.” Interestingly, in Stanley Kubrick’s film “The Shining,” we find that one who ‘shines’ is one who is in contact with a different (and, terrifying) dimension of reality. That is, the boy of the film, Danny, experiences ‘shining’ in two ways. The first, a voice, the voice of as he says, his imaginary friend Tony who lives in his mouth. Secondly, he is in contact with this ‘shining,’ by a kind of paralysis of Being. His body is taken control of, he drools, sweats, shakes and even hallucinates. I think that Sensational’s repeated use of “natural shine” is akin to what young Danny in “The Shining” experiences, that is, a kind of possession of the voice, a teleportation of consciousness, a teleportation to a strange dimension of language. Moreover, one quickly notices the way Sensational produces his own voice on his albums. We find him distorted through reverb, delay or through his use of headphones as microphones.

    To someone who has never tried wine, the taste may be startling, confusing and bitter. For the one who is a conneisseur, there is the acute awareness of the wine’s body, it’s smell, the way it sits in the mouth, the way it dissolves in the mouth, its aftertaste. I think it is wise to keep this in mind when approaching Sensational: once ingested, his “natural shine,” while perhaps uncomfortable at first, takes root and spreads as eyes become glazed and objects slowly melt away…one enters rapture.

    Sensational Links:

  • mono 12:20 pm on March 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , How to Read Lacan, , , , , , Slavoj Zizek, The big Other, The Triad of the Real   

    Lacan through Zizek: On ‘the big Other’ 

    Triad of the Real

    It seems that Slavoj Zizek’s book “How to Read Lacan” is a wonderful starting point for both students of Zizek and, of course, for new students of Jacques Lacan. At least in my case it has provided a graspable yet engaging starting point for my study of both of these thinkers. I have stumbled through several of Lacan’s “Ecrits” and bumbled my way across the pages of Zizek’s “The Sublime Object of Ideology” and “The Parallax View,” to little avail ((dense)). The struggle will continue, though.

    In the first chapter of “How to Read Lacan,” Zizek lays the groundwork for concepts such as “The Triad of the Real,” “The Big Other” and “Empty Gestures.” I will do my best here today to put the idea of ‘the big Other’ into my own words in hopes of being able to better understand it. If you have spent time with the works of Zizek and/or Lacan and would like to clarify, correct or challenge my interpretation of what is discussed here, please do so. I am a humble student and it is my hope this year to better familiarize myself with the works of both Zizek and Lacan.

    The Lacanian idea of ‘the big Other’ comes through human interaction/communication. ‘The big Other’ is the virtual regulator of etiquette and social conversation. That is to say, ‘the big Other’ is the ambience of the situation that comes through human ways of following situational “rules.” That is, without human beings, there is no ‘big Other.’ When I shake someone’s hand, I am performing an act with no real significance to me. The shaking of the hand is the expected way of greeting in American culture (similar to the empty question: “how are you?”). The shaking of the hand is done in accord with the virtuality of ‘the big Other.’ For Lacan, the big Other operates on three interconnected levels: The imaginary, the symbolic and the real. The ‘imaginary’ is the virtualization of the other. It is seeing one’s lover as being more than just a skeleton with decaying flesh, it is covering the other with an imaginary image. The symbolic is the way of interacting with the other. That is, it is the following of grammar, “going on” in conversations, shaking hands, bowing, etc. The real is the surrounding forces of the situation, it is the unpredictability of the environment, disaster, unexpected happenings and so on. Of these three, the ‘symbolic’ is most important in understanding ‘the big Other.’

    Through Zizek’s elucidation of this Lacanian idea we find: “When we speak (or listen, for that matter), we never merely interact with others; our speech activity is grounded on our accepting and relying on a complex network of rules and other kinds of presuppositions (Zizek 9).” That is to say, our communication with others (and with our self, perhaps) is grounded in and acted out through ‘the big Other.’ The big Other comes through us in how we speak and in how we comprehend the other. Zizek akins it to the philosophical use of ‘one.’

    In Japanese culture there are myriads of culturally sensitive ways of interacting, proper expressions to use when interacting and such. When one gives a gift, it is correct to depricate oneself and the gift, while fully knowing that it is not a bad gift and that one is probably in fact very happy to give the gift. This following of verbal etiquette is adhered to and, for Lacan, I think that this would come through as a recognition of ‘the big Other.’ That is, the putting down of oneself (in many situations in Japan) comes through the use of language and the importance of following these linguistic rules. Moreover, it is not a written rule, but it is as if there is a spectral presence watching over the situation, a spectral presence that one recognizes and obeys.

    The origin of the big Other comes through language and as Zizek writes, elucidating a dense passage by Lacan: “The symbolic order emerges from a gift, an offering, that marks its content as neutral in order to pose as a gift: when a gift is offered, what matters is not its content but the link between giver and receiver established when the receiver accepts the gift (Zizek 12).” That is, in the above mentioned example of giving a gift in Japan and admitting that it is not a good gift, etc. is done knowing that it is necessary to sustain the link between self and other and this putting down of oneself is the way in which that link is sustained. Even for the receiver, the way that the giver gives the gift is more important than the gift itself.

    All quotations are from: “How to Read Lacan” by Slavoj Zizek (Norton Publishing)

    • mahesh hapugoda 4:44 pm on April 7, 2009 Permalink

      This is a wonderful essay since it very simply describes the concept ‘Big Other’ which is fairly difficult to explain.

    • Paul M 10:29 pm on March 24, 2010 Permalink

      The best summary of the big Other I have found on the Internet. Thank you. I started reading Lacan with his 1955/66 seminars, The Psychoses. I should have started with Zizek.

    • prasy 11:39 pm on May 13, 2011 Permalink

      the wonderful article which give way a lot to the culture study through both Lacan and Zizek.thank U

    • Andy Welch 7:39 pm on September 22, 2011 Permalink

      Thanks for that summary.

    • Deborah 8:59 am on February 25, 2012 Permalink

      Thank you so much for this. I have an essay on this topic to write, and I’ve been going through about 10 different books and still struggled to understand the concept… Thank you so much, you’ve saved my… well… my essay !

    • ploy 11:06 am on December 17, 2012 Permalink

      this is very helpful. your concrete examples help clarify the concept of the big Other so well. than you very much.

    • Dan 6:50 pm on February 1, 2013 Permalink

      Thank you jgrefe. Also a student of all this. Not easy to condense these things but this has helped.

    • JD 9:31 am on March 18, 2013 Permalink

      Thanks for the lucid explanation.

    • jgrefe 10:30 am on March 18, 2013 Permalink

      Thank you! I’m glad this explanation was helpful.

    • jgrefe 10:31 am on March 18, 2013 Permalink

      Thank you, Dan. I appreciate the positive thought.

    • jgrefe 10:31 am on March 18, 2013 Permalink

      Thank you. This particular post is quite popular.

    • Brandon 10:00 pm on October 25, 2014 Permalink

      Awesome! So both Zizek and Lacan have similar interpretations of the Other :) I had wondered why Lacan and Zizek are used interchangeably in speaking of the terms such as the Other, Symbolic and Real, the Order etc. So it seems Zizek was explaining Lacan in a more comprehensible manner. Glad for your clarification. Would like to know more about ideological concepts :)

    • prophemy 10:35 am on May 21, 2018 Permalink

      Very helpful interpretation! Check out this film interpolation with the big Other: https://wordpress.com/post/prophemy.wordpress.com/9

  • mono 8:59 am on March 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ambiguity, , , , Politeness, Slavoj Zizek,   

    The Ambiguous Other: Zizek on Japan 

    In a conversation entitled “Japan through a Slovenian Looking Glass: Reflections of Media and Politic in Cinema,” Slavoj Zizek is asked about Japan. In this brief essay I will flesh out and hopefully expand a few key ideas he presents, namely: Japanese negation, Japanese ambiguity and the importance of the surface in communication. Moreover, being one who has lived here in Japan for over three years, I hope to blend Zizek’s ideas with my private experience as perpetually being seen as the Other.

    Japanese Negation

    Zizek, in the abovementioned conversation writes, “You say no to your wife in one way, no to a child in another way. There is not one negation.” One of the first things the foreigner in Japan should know is the importance of recognizing this idea of “there is not one negation.” The English word “no” can be translated into Japanese as “iie,” but one must always keep in mind that how one negates a situation will depend more on who one is talking to and the heirachical structure inherent in that relationship. There is a way of communicating that is often used in Japanese and recognized by the Japanese and that is what is called “aimai,” or the art of indirect communication. “Aimai” is the grey space between yourself and the Other, it is the seemingly innocent remark that holds an unwritten request or demand. It is the offhand comment, which carries a heavy criticism. Japanese negation is caught up in this web of “aimai” and I have seen many foreigners perish for lack of knowing how to properly negate in this way.

    In the realm of Japanese communication one can understand the Lacanian idea of “the big Other” as the reference point of what is communicated. In almost every situation there is a strict implicit code of talking. Following the symbolic code of talking is in some ways more important than what one actually says.

    Japanese Ambiguity

    In the short conversation, Zizek uses the idea of ambiguity, in accord with Lacan, in a few ways: the ambiguity of the Japanese language, Japan as the ambiguous Other and the ambiguous politeness of the Japanese. First, he writes, “They elaborate the borrowing of other languages, all these ambiguities. Didn’t Lacan say that Japanese do not have an unconscious?” In my experience, I have found the following languages to have been incorporated into what is known as ‘Japanese’: English, Dutch, French, Italian, Portuguese and German. Words from different languages seem to float into the country and are reappropriated by the Japanese, transformed and made unique. Even some of the Japanese that I met did not know that their beloved food “tempura” originally came from Portuguese. The word “maniac” has been adopted as one who collects or is interested in a certain product, meanwhile the katakana (words imported into Japanese from outside) dictionaries grow thicker and thicker each year.

    Zizek also notes, “For the West, Japan is the ambiguous Other: at the same time it fascinates you and repels you.” This idea has been worked out in my explication on Bernard Rudofsky’s piece “The Advertisement” where Rudofsky analyzes the misplaced view of Japan to Western eyes. Zizek seems to hold this same idea. The image of Japan is slippery and hazy. In Sophia Coppolla’s film “Lost in Translation,” she presents a number of Japanese characters, but in turn breaks the face of the Japanese by making sure her characters are extreme: the over-the-top TV host, the drug using party goers, the demanding and upsetting photographer and the ambiguous photographer. Her presentation of the Japanese, while amusing to foreigners, can be upsetting to the Japanese simply by the consistency of their Otherness can be seen. The grey space is annihilated.

    “Let’s not forget the psychological cliche of Japan: you smile, but you never know if it is sincere or if you are mocking us – the idea of Japan as the impenetrable Other. This ambiguous politeness.” This impenetrability can be seen when a foreigner commits some kind of error in etiquette. Again, “aimai” is at play. The smile holds many meanings for the Japanese and it is not good for the foreigner to see it as just a smile. However, it is not always like this. I should clarify that in daily conversation or at the workplace, this ambiguity is clearly present, but not between close friends. Two other ideas that even the Japanese I know admit to are the use of “honne” and “tatemae,” the you that you are in public and the you that you are in private. The bold foreigner boasting of a job well done may meet the smile of his or her Japanese coworkers, the deceptive smile as one should know, it is not in proper form to boast about oneself.

    Following this, Zizek says, “In Japan, and I hope that this is not only a myth, even if something is merely an appearance, politeness is not simply insincere.” Also he says, “Masks are never simply masks.” The idea that the boastful foreigner receives a deceptive smile needs to be clarified. That is to say, the smile of the Japanese acts as a symbol of his or her politeness, it is deceptive in that the foreigner expects an “honest” reaction to a situation, wants things clarified, spelled out. The Japanese maintain this semblance of politeness for themselves, for politeness is part and parcel of the Japanese language. The Japanese person in front of you respects him or herself in respect to the symbolic order and clarifying would mean breaking this politeness, it would be obscene. That is to say, I think that Zizek is correct in his hope. For the Japanese, the etiquette of being polite shows respect to oneself as one who is caught up in the other. One has to keep in mind that there is no “I” in the Japanese language.

    I apologize for the brevity of this essay as this is only a rough sketch of something I plan on developing further at another time. Thank you for reading.

    This conversation with Zizek can be read here: http://www.ntticc.or.jp/pub/ic_mag/ic014/zizek/zizek_e.html

    All quotations have come from this article.

    Powered by ScribeFire.

    • okinawa marine 10:49 am on March 23, 2008 Permalink

      That was a very thoughtful read

    • Paul Boshears 1:46 pm on March 27, 2008 Permalink

      I am currently reading an interesting book edited by Roger Ames and Wimal Dissanayake, Self & Deception, A Cross-Cultural Philosophical Inquiry, SUNY Press, 1996. I’m glad to have found your page, thank you!

    • Kishore Budha 7:29 pm on March 29, 2008 Permalink

      The idea of the big other in Japanese culture needs to be elaborated on here. I find some similarities with Indian culture, which can assimilate other languages into its own.

    • jgrefe 7:09 pm on March 30, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you. I will work on fleshing out the idea of the big Other in terms of Japanese culture this week.

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