« A Zizekian framework for determining the prevalence of oral sex in elderly populations of the Anthropocene »

Tel le gnou, la fougère ou le palétuvier, le canular suit un processus de développement régulier. Peu vont au terme, et certains sont, à un stade plus ou moins précoce de leur formation, empêchés et mis au rencart. Sans entrer dans des débats épineux, nous dirons que certains canulars embryonnaires et tués dans l’œuf méritent pourtant notre attention. Ce fut le cas, par exemple, de cet auto-empêchement publicisé en mai 2016 sur le Carnet Zilsel : il s’avéra finalement trop facile de piéger une revue branchée innovation et management maffesolien en entreprise postmoderne, et c’est pourquoi cela méritait réflexion. Il en va aussi du texte que « Gulup Katir » a consacré à l’évaluation à la Žižek des pratiques de sexualité orale dans les populations vieillissantes de l’Anthropocène, thème inspirant s’il en est, et d’une actualité que l’on devine critique.
Ce texte est la matière première d’un article de notre camarade Philippe Huneman, « L’activité débilitante de la science contemporaine », paru tout récemment dans le dossier « Revues prédatrices » du numéro 4 de la Zilsel. Philippe Huneman y interroge ce que, dans le monde académique actuel – ce qu’il en reste –, l’on nomme indifféremment les « revues prédatrices », et le fait en racontant par le menu comment il a failli publier l’article grotesque que nous proposons de publier ici – dans la rubrique « Fantaisies », comme il se doit. Rappelons simplement que le rédacteur en chef de la revue qu’il avait ciblée était enthousiaste et a envoyé le papier soumis aux évaluateurs que Philippe avait lui-même désignés (!) – des amis qui, selon le plan de départ, avaient pour mission d’évaluer très favorablement l’article de Gulup Katir. L’expérimentation s’est interrompue parce que la publication effective supposait le règlement PayPal de 600 euros – la raison d’être de ce commerce « éditoriale » –, ce qui est un peu fort de café. En attendant, et sans rejouer le match qu’entendent jouer et rejouer jusqu’à l’infini d’une méthode industrielle d’autres canuleurs de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique (voir, entre autres mises au point, cette tribune cosignée par les auteurs du dossier de Zilsel, et l’intervention de Philippe Huneman sur le plateau radiophonique de La Méthode scientifique, sur France Culture, le 8 novembre 2018), on s’amuse encore à l’idée que ce rédacteur « en chef » (mais de quoi ?) a vraiment lu ce texte sans ciller ni sourciller. Et on s’amuse d’autant plus à l’idée que le texte puisse encore circuler, ici même, sous la forme d’un papier sottise de week-end, à consommer avec la dérision qui convient.
Dernier avertissement : le texte qui suit n’a pas été corrigé, par principe, et nous le livrons en Comic Sans MS, par souci de cohérence épistémo-esthétique.

JL & ASM

Image en avant : Slavoj Žižek, Universidade de Brasília, via Flickr, 12 mars 2013.

A Zizekian framework for determining the prevalence of oral sex in elderly populations of the Anthropocene

Gulup Katir. University of South Korea

Abstract

MILF (Mother I’d like to fuck) is a major figure of contemporary sexuality; it emerged in the 90s porn cinema, and is exemplified by big breasted, 30 something sexually promiscuous actresses.  We can easily see how hyperobjects instigate frightening and disturbing parallax. The major response to these environmental crises revolved around a development of more resilient technologies, how we have failed to keep the overwhelmingness of the environment in check, or how we might be better prepared. In both, nature was seen as something that should be conducive to the status quo of human behavior, such that the debate centered not around whether this is a reasonable belief, but how we have failed to keep the environment reigned in.

Introduction

It then became a vernacular word, daily used to qualify a kind of attractive women, not as young as the usual porn objects (generally named BL for “barely legal”). Almost no porn movie lacks a MILF figure, and its success as a tag request has been documented since 2013. In this paper, we question the vogue of MILF in relation to the emergence of a scholarly concept that appeared in the same years, namely the Anthropocene.

Methods

By reactivating Zizek’s analyses of desire in Everything you always wanted to know about Lacan.., I sketch a heglacano analysis of the MILF as a meme in current porn, and show that it gets its attractivity and transgressive power by the conflation, within the same figure, of the two poles of the western male psyche, as Freud characterized them, namely the Mother and the Hooker. Through the MILF, porn reaches the ultimate phantasm, which is the never-named motherfucking. This displaying of the phantasm as the opposite of a freudian “primitive scene” (Freud 1913), namely as a neverendlessy repeatable scene – repeatable because always available in any porn site – achieves the transmogrification of the inaccessible Other into an ordinary and recurrent – zuhanden, to speak with Heidegger – otherness, therefore decoupling sexuality itself and its scene.

Results

I argue in the final section that what appeared in porn as MILF is indeed the truth of the Antrhopocene as the epitome of ecological speculation. Anthropocene (Charkrabarty 1993, Latour 2013) indeed has been defined as the era of the appraisal of nature by human industry, in a way that makes nature itself the finger- and foot- print of human hubris. Unwillingly, man becomes the maker of nature – exactly as, within the primitive scene, Oedipus unwillingly sleeps with her mother after having killed his father. This unwillingness is constitutive of Anthropocene, as it is, and I argue that it makes Nature into something that we can use and abuse as much as we want – exactly as Oedipus’ unwillingness makes him in the position of getting the forbidden jouissance from the Mother. Anthropocene, means that Mother Nature is not any more the always-already-there Other though which our origin lurks but hides, in the manner of the heidegerrian Aletheia (Heidegger 1955): it’s a daily available, usable and abusable resource from which we can get as much jouissance as we, unwillingly, want. To this extent, I conclude that Anthropocene as an ecological concept is the same concept, within theory, as what the emergence of the MILF in porn made possible – it allows the same meanings, and the same practices. No wonder, then, that the two co-originated – since they are two ways of making sense of the contemporary, post-postmodern turn, though which Mother Nature, so to say,  became a slut.

The digital machinery that sustains video games not only directs and regulates the gamer’s desire, it also »interpellates« the gamer into a specific mode of subjectivity: a pre-Oedipal not-yet-castrated subjectivity that floats in a kind of obscene immortality: when I am immersed into a game, I dwell in a universe of undeadness where no annihilation is definitive since, after every destruction, I can return to the beginning and start the game again… One should note here that this obscene immortality was the stuff of fantasy long before cartoons – say, in the work of de Sade. The axiom of the philosophy of finitude is that one cannot escape finitude/mortality as the unsurpassable horizon of our existence; Lacan’s axiom is that, no matter how much one tries, one cannot escape immortality. But what if this choice is false? What if finitude and immortality, like lack and excess, also form a parallax couple, what if they are the same from a different point of view? What if immortality is an object that is a remainder/excess over finitude, what if finitude is an attempt to escape from the excess of immortality?

In bed with… (Source : « Slavoj Žižek – The Safe and Useful Rebel? », Shape Blog, 2014)

Discussion

There are clear parallels between  Žižek’s concept of apocalyptic experience without teleology, and Berlant and Edelman’s « sex without optimism. » Both readings point to a negativity at the heart of human experience and the need to reliquish all our teleological aspirations. The apocalpytic experience should be taken in its original sense, as a « revelation, » but a revelation of the incoherence of the social order and its demands on the (barred) Subject. This non-telelogical experience can be illustrated by contrasting the works of Homer with Virgil’s Aeneid. In the Homeric world the incoherence of the social order, represented by the incoherent and conflicting demands of the gods is in sharp contrast to the teleological order displayed in The Aeneid.

Through a Zizekian framework, this article explores a doubled precarity as experienced by individuals involved in groups described as ‘gangs’. This dual precarity being the inability to parallel mainstream discourses of security, and abstracted precarity of mirrored images of ‘mainstream’ groups. The paper outlines brittle relationships between these two poles and the stories relating to learning and be-coming within such groups. These precarious relationships resonate Zizek’s proposal of the ‘… blind leading the blind, or, more precisely, the blind leading the blind …’ (Zizek, 2012: 89). This paper explores the precariaty / precariaty of learning to be within such groups and the value of the story of becomingpredominantly through the lens of a case study focusing on Participant 1 and supported through vignettes from encounters with other participants.

The notion of sacrifice too often seems to play out in environmentalism as a desire to return to some essentialist, or primitive way of relating to the land. In everything from neo-paganism, the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970ʼs, goddess-worship, nouveau-hippie communalism, preemptive post-apocalyptic hysteria, and commercial appropriation of Native American spirituality, there is desire to move towards something that has been lost. In a Lacanian sense, the essence that has been lost is able to take so many forms precisely because it never existed in the first place. Or more precisely, it is only in the process of sacrifice that the idea of the object that has been lost is created, which creates “something mythical, something after-the-fact about this sacrifice, which remains ultimately a sacrifice of something that one never in fact had” (Hook 2009: 153). The desiring for the object will and never can be satisfied. Again, these roles are self- or circularly-inscribed antinomies that are dependent on and yet represent the failure of language. Nature too can fit this bill, as possessing content that is both within a practical discursive set of useful and concrete things, and also completely eliding those things.

The mind-body problem has always been particularly problematic for materialist philosophy. Not only must it explain the connection between (human) intellect and its corporeal substratum, but also it must do so in a way that accounts for ‘thought’ in terms of the physical world. Žižek approaches these problems combining some of the latest science and a Schellingian/Hegelian conception of nature. Using recent discoveries of neuroplasticity and environmental biology, he argues that the mind is in actuality, underdetermined by its physical substratum; that physical material can support a more-than material superstructure as well as account for freedom. Here, we explore Žižek’s interesting re-evaluation of matter and how this plays out in his remarks on the brain sciences and philosophy of mind. We will then turn to look at some of the political implications of Žižek’s engagement with brain sciences via the notion of Plasticity found in Catherine Malabou’s work.

One of the problems that German idealism, particularly that of Schelling and Hegel, explore is the mind/body problem. Their speculative solutions provide Žižek with a way into contemporary debates, bringing refreshing explanations that are not found in Anglo-American philosophy of mind.

Conclusion

Today the dominant paradigm is one of reductive and eliminative materialisms that try to explain away (or completely subvert) the problem of phenomenal consciousness. However, these theories rely on a conception of matter, which entails that the brain, as the material base of the mind, is entirely deterministic. Adrian Johnston notes that these materialisms’ “notions of matter are no more sophisticated than seventeenth-century conceptions of ‘corporeal substance’ moved solely by the mechanisms of efficient causes.” (Johnston 2007: 5-6)

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