Friday, July 31, 2009

Impartial Butterflies

I was studying the literature on Moon Landing Hoax a while ago, not because I’m concerned whether it is a hoax or not but just for its entertainment value. After a rigorous examination of arguments from both opponents and proponents, I felt obliged to admit that it is really a hoax, to the extent that everyone believes in the last analysis his dissidents are part of a hoax, if not just a foolish victim of ideological manipulation at best. This peculiar situation resembles Lacan’s reference to the famous dream of Zhuangzi. Lacan revises the dream which in his account situates Zhuangzi in position of the butterfly who knows he is only dreaming and asks this crucial question: “Is it not here that the: I am only dreaming, is only precisely what masks the reality of the look?” In the both controversial cases of Moon landing and Obama’s birth certificate, seriously engaged subject is a hoaxter, who is rightfully aware that it is just a dream. But it is his very consciousness which masks the reality of situation, the Real, does not resides in validity of certificates or “R” marks on allegedly prop moon rocks. It inhabits the look which investigates reality in differences and irregularities of a situation.

The loss of the real in the decline of symbolic marks the consciousness of hoaxters, paraphrasing Hegel’s allusion in “Phenomenology of Spirit”, that a plant is a suspicious creature on which “bursting-forth of the blossom” negates the bud, and subsequently the fruit refutes the blossoming and the winter postpones the question just to be re-emerged in the next spring. Alain Badiou’s one of the four affirmations against ordinary philosophy is “Situations are nothing more, in their being, than pure indifferent multiplicities. Consequently it is pointless to search amongst differences for anything that might play a normative role. If truths exist, they are certainly indifferent to differences.” Doesn’t his assertion resemble Lenin’s refusal that there is no neutral political non-engagement in a society brutally divided by class antagonisms. The reality is there is no choice except we are either socialists or the proponents of bourgeois ideology. One might be a self-conscious butterfly, who knows he is a man, but as long as “I” remains as a stain on the scene that distorts the reality that he is a part of this dream composition, he completely misses the Real of what he sees.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Only Dreaming

"But, I am going to allow myself to suppose that this dream was incorrectly reported. Choang-tsu, when he dreamt he was a butterfly, said to himself: "it is only a dream" - which is, I assure you, in complete conformity with his mentality. He does not doubt for an instant being able to overcome this tiny problem of his identity of being Choang-tsu. He says to himself: "it is only a dream" and it is precisely in this that it lacks reality. For, in so far as the I of Choang-tsu depends on the following - which is essential for any condition of the subject - namely, that the object is seen, there is nothing which better allows there to be surmounted the traitorous aspect of this world of vision, in so far as it is supposed to support this sort of collection (however we may call it: world or extension), of which the subject is supposed to be the only support and the only mode of existence. What gives the con-sistency of this subject in so far as he sees, namely, in so far as he only has the geometry of his vision, in so far as he can say to the other: "this is on the right" and "this is on the left" and "this is inside" and "this is outside" what allows him to be situated as I, if not the following - which I already underlined for you at one time - that he is himself a picture in this visible world, that the butterfly is here nothing other than what designates him for his part as stain and as what is original in the stain in the emergence, at the level of the organism, of something which will become vision.

It is indeed in so far as the I itself is a stain on a ground and that what he is going to question about what he sees, is very precisely what he cannot rediscover and what slips away, this origin of the look - how much more tangible and manifest by being articulated for us than the light of the sun - to inaugurate what is of the order of I in the scoptophilic relation.

Is it not here that the : I am only dreaming, is only precisely what masks the reality of the look, in so far as it is to be discovered?" (Jacques Lacan, Seminar 14: The Logic of Fantasy)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Enjoy Your Zelig! Part One

Like most of us, I prefer Woody Allen’s early movies but not for the fact that, as he also assumes (Stardust Memories), they are funnier than his later works, but because they reflect the authentic core of our subjectivity, i.e. we are helpless victims and anonymous puppets of the spontaneous ideology and we are nobody in the social game unless we cannot strive hard to attach ourselves to a Truth. Just as in the case of Chaplin (with the exception of The Great Dictator, where he acquires a proper subjectivity through fidelity to the French revolution), in the end it is usually the Truth of Love what provides subjective consciousness to that humble and neurotic New Yorker.

I was pondering over his “Zelig” in the last couple of days, probably the only movie that I’ve so strongly identified with its main character. However, every time I attempted to write on it, I found myself rambling through various texts from the obvious “Being and Event” to the unimaginable (in the sense of its loose connection with the subject) “What is to be Done.” Finally, I’ve arrived to the conclusion that “Zelig” is not simply a movie about a human chameleon who eventually constructs a consistent personal identity through unconditional love and positive transference of a well intentioned psychoanalyst. But, Leonard Zelig himself is the symptom of the world where we love or hate the other only in the condition that he or she complements the image of our own and fits in our fantasy scene. Thus, it is actually the psychoanalyst (Farrow) who is redeemed from her fantasy of attaining recognition and fame by curing a helpless patient who has a unique disorder. She escapes from her narcissistic illusions and realizes her own nakedness in the symbolic order not by the recognition of many but by the recognition and love of one peculiar man.

Here lies the essential perversion of aggressive Kantian ontology which is clearly discernible in Sasha Baron Cohen’s latest movie Brüno. It is not a movie about a homosexual man who exposures the prejudices ossified in the symbolic order with hostile and obscene jokes, rather, it is about the anxiety of society in front of the evil neighbor, a sociopath who metaphysically assumes subjectivity out of thin air, who duplicates the objective violence regulating the symbolic order with his or her pseudo-antagonist subjectivity (whether he is an intrusive homosexual or a vulgar immigrant) which has already been conditioned by the spontaneous ideology. Therefore, for the very reason that his character supplements our own image, fits in our fantasy, Mr. Cohen leaves no room that enables us to escape from the fantasy scene where we are horrified against the evil neighbor "who exploits our work without compensation, to use us sexually without our consent, to appropriate our goods, to humiliate us, to inflict suffering on us, to torture and kill us." Far from exposing our homophobic prejudices, Sasha Baron Cohen’s character Brüno is a proper pervert not because of his sexual position, but because he offers his homosexuality for the enjoyment of the dominant ideologies, and as a result, he actually supplements our narrow-mindedness and thwarts any possible attempt to overcome narcissism from the beginning.

Lenin’s critique of the Economism that cherishes spontaneity of the working class movement was: “...that all worship of the spontaneity of the working class movement, all belittling of the role of “the conscious element”, of the role of Social-Democracy, means, quite independently of whether he who belittles that role desires it or not, a strengthening of the influence of bourgeois ideology upon the workers.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

Petite Bourgeoisie Hysteria in Honduras

Socialist Unity: "Eight thousand mainly upper and middle class Hondurans, dressed in the blue and white colours of the national flag, yesterday marched through the capital, Tegucigalpa, in support of the country´s newly installed military dictatorship.

“We are here to support peace and democracy”, retired Colonel Wilfredo Sanchez told supporters at a half filled baseball stadium in the city´s downtown area.
Lorena Facusse, president of a logistal company, told the Morning Star that she “didn't like CNN”, describing the US-based news channel as the “Communist News Network”.

“Chavez has been pitting rich people against poor people”, she said. “Manuel Zelaya wants to destroy the middle class”

“The military are the heroes” she insisted."


"Everybody, of course, has seen the small owner bend every effort and strain every nerve to "get on in the world", to become a real master, to rise to the position of a “strong” employer, to the position of a bourgeois. As long as capitalism rules the roost, there is no alternative for the small owner other than becoming a capitalist (and that is possible at best in the case of one small owner out of a hundred), or becoming a ruined man, a semi-proletarian, and ultimately a proletarian. The same is true in politics: the petty-bourgeois democrats, especially their leaders, tend to trail after the bourgeoisie. The leaders of the petty-bourgeois democrats console their people with promises and assurances about the possibility of reaching agreement with the big capitalists; at best, and for a very brief period, they obtain certain minor concessions from the capitalists for a small upper section of the working people; but on every decisive issue, on every important matter, the petty-bourgeois democrats have always tailed after the bourgeoisie as a feeble appendage to them, as an obedient tool in the hands of he financial mangates" (Lenin, Lessons of the Revolution)

"The structure of desire, as desire of the Other, is shown more clearly in hysteria than in any other clinical structure; the hysteric is precisely someone who appropriates another’s desire by identifying with them. For example Dora identifies with Herr K, taking as her own the desire which she perceives him to have for Frau K. However, as the case of Dora also shows, the hysteric only sustains the desire of the Other on condition that she is not the object of that desire; she cannot bear to be taken as the object of desire because that would revive the wound of privation." (Dylan Evans, An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Carnival of Socialism

(The latest Carnival of Socialism is hosted by Renegade Eye. He is kind enough to mention my pseudo-Lacanian piece of humor. I strongly recommend Mao Zedong's conversation with his niece Wang Hai-Jung and Madam Miaow's analysis on Uighur uprising)


The Carnival of Socialism # 40 is here. At it's description profile it says, "The Carnival of Socialism attempts to bring a fortnightly round up of everything that's going on in the global socialist blogosphere." Hopfully this carnival, will introduce a few new blogs for your consideration, at other carnivals as well.

Kasama caught my interest with a post entitled Mao Zedong: Should Reactionaries Have Free Speech?.

American Left History should be a regular stop on your blog reading. This blog centers on American history and culture, from a socialist view. Markin's love of history and art shine through.

The Third Estate managed to interview political icon in the UK Tony Benn.

Left in East Dakota notes Obama's base being disillusioned with him.

Worker's Press criritiques Obama on healthcare.

River's Edge notes that the UK anti-terror units, only find rightist plots, "it is invariably more by luck than by design".

Vengeance and Fashion has an interesting post about a schoolteacher who was abused by his students and snapped. There are Facebook groups supporting both sides. It is unusual for socialists to write about such a subject so close to home.

The Trotsky Museum has a blog of its own.

Querida Celia Hart Is a Spanish blog that honors Celia Hart Santamaria, the Cuban revolutionary who died last year in an auto accident related to the Cuban Hurricane. Celia opened doors for socialist democracy in Cuba.

From Turkey Mehmet Çagatay writes about Michael Jackson.

The Red Mantis tackles Iranian unrest, and asks who leads and where is it going?

Histomat replies to a BBC documentary about Leon Trotsky, based on the book The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky. Histomat writes, "Just as Stalin smeared the Jewish Trotsky as an agent of Hitler, so Richard Overy describes Trotsky's supporters as a 'motley crew', while Trotsky himself suffered from a 'blindness to any sense of humanity' and apparently 'never had any scruples about killing those in the way of the Marxist utopia'. It is a pity that Overy has seemingly not made time to read Trotsky's Their Morals and Ours where he answered exactly Overy's critique about 'moral scruple' over seventy years ago:"

Socialism or Barbarism reviews the Irish economy, in a two part series.

Celticfire writes about a Portland transit riders union.

The Daily Maybe discovered the Trotskyist soft drink Red Kola.

Untouchable Earth writes from India about the will of the Iranian people. This blog is oriented to socialism, art and astronomy.

Madam Miaow gives us good analysis of the Uighur uprising in China. At my local coffeeshop Madam Miaow's blog is blocked by the computer's filtering software. What's wrong with Anna Mae Wong?

A Reader's Word from India, takes on the myth of micro finance.

The next Carnival will be August 02, 2009 at Red Wombat

Renegade Eye

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Possible Consequences of Mutual Goodwill

NYTIMES: "The first batch of Uighurs, 40 young men and women from the far western region of Xinjiang, arrived at the Early Light Toy Factory here in May, bringing their buoyant music and speaking a language that was incomprehensible to their fellow Han Chinese workers.

After the melee, the 800 Uighur workers were moved to an industrial park not far from the factory, guarded by the police.

“We exchanged cigarettes and smiled at one another, but we couldn’t really communicate,” said Gu Yunku, a 29-year-old Han assembly line worker who had come to this southeastern city from northern China. “Still, they seemed shy and kind. There was something romantic about them.”

The mutual good will was fleeting.

By June, as the Uighur contingent rose to 800, all recruited from an impoverished rural county not far from China’s border with Tajikistan, disparaging chatter began to circulate. Taxi drivers traded stories about the wild gazes and gruff manners of the Uighurs. Store owners claimed that Uighur women were prone to shoplifting. More ominously, tales of sexually aggressive Uighur men began to spread among the factory’s 16,000 Han workers."


"I began my lectures this year with the onerous topic of the utilitarians, but the utilitarians are quite right. They are countered with something that, in effect, only makes the task of countering them much more difficult, with a sentence such as "But, Mr. Bentham, my good is not the same as another's good, and your principle of the greatest good for the greatest number comes up against the demands of my egoism." But it's not true. My egoism is quite content with a certain altruism, altruism of the kind that is situated on the level of the useful. And it even becomes the pretext by means of which I can avoid taking up the problem of the evil I desire, and that my neighbor desires also. That is how I spend my life, by cashing in my time in a dollar zone, ruble zone or any other zone, in my neighbor's time, where all the neighbors are maintained equally at the marginal level of reality of my own existence. Under these conditions it is hardly surprising that everyone is sick, that civilization has its discontents.

It is a fact of experience that what I want is the good of others in the image of my own. That doesn't cost so much. What I want is the good of others provided that it remain in the image of my own. I would even say that the whole tiling deteriorates so rapidly that it becomes: provided that it depend on my efforts. I don't even need to ask you to go very far into your patients' experience: if I wish for my spouse's happiness, I no doubt sacrifice my own, but who knows if her happiness isn't totally dissipated, too?" (Jacques Lacan, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Uighur Terrorism

Indiatimes: China said Thursday that those involved in Sunday's killing and mayhem in the northwestern city of Urumqi were members of terrorists groups with links with al-Qaida. It was seeking the cooperation of foreign governments to track down links and people involved in supporting the rioters from overseas locations.


It must be said that today, at the end of its semantic evolution, the word 'terrorist' is an intrinsically propagandistic term. It has no neutral readability. It dispenses with all reasoned examination of political situations, of their causes and consequences.

In fact, it is a term that has become essentially formal. 'Terrorist' no longer designates a political orientation or the possibilities of such and such a situation, but rather, and exclusively, the form of action. And it does so according to three criteria. It is first and foremost - for public opinion and those who attempt to shape it- a spectacular, non-State action, which emerges - reality or myth - from clandestine networks. Second, it is a violent action aiming to kill or destroy. Lastly, it is an action which makes no distinction between civilians and non-civilians.

This formalism approaches Kant's moral formalism. This is why a 'moral philosophy' specialist like Monique Canto believed she could declare that the absolute condemnation of 'terrorist' actions and the symmetrical approval of reprisals, including those of Sharon in Palestine, could and should precede any examination of the situation, and be abstracted from any concrete political considerations. When it is a matter of 'terrorism', according to this Iron lady of a new breed, to explain is already to justify. It is thus appropriate to punish without delay and without further examination. Henceforth, 'terrorism' qualifies an action as the formal figure of Evil. Moreover, this is exactly how Bush from the very beginning conceived of the deployment of vengeance: Good (in concrete, State terrorism directed against peasant villages and the ancient cities of Central Asia) against Evil (non-State terrorism directed at Western buildings) . (Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Creative Destruction of Monstrous Dream Machines

I first learned about MJ's death from a post on Marxmail. My first reaction was to arrange a personal commemoration ceremony on YouTube, of course, starting with "The Way You Make Me Feel", one of first the two songs in English that I memorized its lyrics (The other one was "It's A Sin" from Pet Shop Boys). After an hour or two, my short attention span turned towards to another musician, who in a way has nurtured a comparable image with MJ's. I'm talking about David Bowie, the man of thousand looks. Then in a moment of poetic intuition, I discovered that, MJ is David Bowie who was permanently caught in the video of the song "Life on Mars". I think his tragedy was not being a sort of a nonfunctional signifier which had been trapped in repetition, but, it resides in his stubborn but at the same time affirmative (in the sense of negating while preserving the form) resistance to the elasticity of free-floating signifiers. Therefore, his artistic transgression was that he debased the essential necessity of empty formalism, i.e. obsession with new forms which also dictates to maintain the possibility of demolition and reconstruction of its objects in an endless repetition. He debased it by transforming his body always for good, therefore confined the desire of infinitude to the finitude of his body. MJ, as being both an artist and a commodity, embodied the destructive ambition of formalism and commodity production in his exhausted and synthetic face. He was a tragic hero who snatched the nightmare from the jaws of Other's dream.


MJ exposes the fake novelties of formalism insofar as The Luddites had attested to the ultimate boundary of the revolutionary character of capitalist production, i.e. perpetual revolution intended to keep the Capital intact.

Whereas he was supposed to preserve the capacity of his body as an image placeholder for endless bodies deprived of any representation, he denied the very material of this formalism by gradually transforming his body to a complete mask, in Lacanian terms, to an idol of the absence of bodies. He changed for good since at every stage he destroyed the preceding body with no return.



it seems that I forgot to add my fundamental critique about MJ. I doubt this malevolent guy ruined my sexual development on adolescence with his video that I mentioned above. I was sort of a sheepish and suffering boy like the one in Traveling Wilburys’ song “Handle with Care”, but his video encouraged me to act like an verbally insistent man who knows what he wants, which usually ended up with an emotional disaster. When it worked though for a couple of times, it didn’t take long for girls to realize actually what a pathetic creature I am, just to make me act again but this time as a Woody Allen in famous break up scene from Bananas. As now the King is dead, I feel I finally have the courage to embrace the male lesbian inside me.