SEX AND THE FAILED ABSOLUTE (2): the formulas of annexation

We have seen that Zizek’s conceptual project as instantiated (once again) in his new book SEX AND THE FAILED ABSOLUTE is tendentially a tautologous updating of the Lacanian research programme. In its tautological form, Zizek’s project can be read as LACAN AND THE LACANNED LACAN.

In Laruellean terms, we can call this tautologous version of Lacan the « standard » Lacan, not in the sense of orthodoxy, but rather in the sense of philosophical sufficiency. The two senses are related in that the principle of sufficiency underlies and validates the orthodoxy. The standard Lacan is the self-validating Lacan.

However, Zizek’s Freud-Lacan-Hegel tautology machine would quickly grind to a halt if it did not have a way of integrating its outside as the source of a different type of insights.

This strategy of incorporating outside sources to prevent the Lacanian tautology machine from reaching maximum entropy can be seen in the reference to « sex » in the title. Zizek’s concept of « sex » is indebted to Lacan’s formulas of sexuation, but these are by no means an original contribution.

Lacan’s graph and formulas of sexuation are dependent on, and derive from, Deleuze’s distinction between the two different images of thought, embodying the fundamental philosophical choice between immanence or transcendence , the corresponding choice  between pluralism or monism.

Far from preceding or « prefiguring » Deleuze and Guattari’s distinction Lacan’s formulas come after the event. They were first expounded in his seminar in 1973, one year after the publication of ANTI-OEDIPUS.

Lacan’s doctrine as expounded in this seminar amounts to a very weakened and watered down appropriation of insights that Deleuze and Guattari had been elaborating over the preceding four years. This strategy of tacit annexation and adulteration is one of Lacan’s preferred modes of erudition and « creativity ».

The amusing thing about Lacan’s graph of sexuation is that if we ask where Freud and Lacan are to be situated we must conclude that Freud and Lacan himself must be placed on the infamous left side of the graph, that of transcendence.

The whole of Deleuze and Guattari’s first book together, ANTI-OEDIPUS, is devoted to mapping out this Freudo-Lacanian dilution and betrayal of immanence by means of transcendent over-codings.

Zizek’s project, while relying on the standard Lacan, attempts to elaborate a conceptual portrait of Lacan as non-standard thinker, and at the same time producing a deficient clone of Deleuze and Guattari’s thought as still remaining within the confines of standard philosophy. Having taken his distance from the deficient clone, Zizek is free to annex the insights he needs to maintain his non-standard Lacan.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MY WRITINGS (9): PLURALISM AND CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY

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ANATHEM: Immanentiser Platon

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