The letter has become increasingly self-addressed.
I can't help thinking that the "King" "Madman" and "Narrator" might even be the same person! The narrator remains unaware throughout. But, in the second scene the Narrator would have to be mad to have forgotten that he was employed to fire a gun!
If the letter were originally from Dupin, then the policeman should have been more surprised when he eventually received the letter. IF the letter were originally from Dupin then one would expect a pause from the Policeman after he reads the letter and runs for the door. But the pause, of "some minutes" is before he signs the cheque. Perhaps we give the policemen less credit than he deserves.
Doesn't the policeman think, when Dupin offers to sell him the letter, "How come this guy has found the letter so easily, and clearly already has it in his possession?", "How come he is going to sell me the letter for so little?" It might have occurred to the policeman, who structurally is the position of the gaze that sees (he is in third scene the person who gets the letter, 'who gets it' who unravels the plot), that the reason why Dupin found the letter already, and will sell it for so little is because, after a pause, "Streuth, this guy sent the letter in the first place."
Returning to Lacan, to what extent can the structure of the story be related to the structure of the lacanian psyche. Lacan stresses that the persona represent different types of gaze. He also picks up on their use of symbols. Are there any characters that are more symbolic than others, more visual than others?
In the first scene the queen can see but is dumb. She can read but not say anything.
The minister can see the queen, the letter and the king and understand and act by using symbols, stealing one letter and replacing it with another. He is not seen by the king but seen by the queen. The king sees but does not understand. He does not do anything or use symbols.
Dupin in the second scene can seen but at least his eyes can not be seen (very much like myself). He also uses symbols (at least the second time he is there) again steeling a lttter are replacing it with another. The minister can been. They both can watch the mad man. The mad man uses a gun but sees nothing, understands nothing.
Dupin in the third scene may be sitting in the dark. The policeman's eyes can be seen. The policeman uses symbols to address a check.
It would be interesting to write a story about characters than can use symbols and not see, or see and not use symbols.
When Lacan says that we need both the imaginary and the symbolic to construct reality (Borromean knot), I have here to fore understood him to mean that a unity which is the self needs the incomplete feedback loops of sight and language to represent himself using the metaphore of a three or two card monte.
But perhaps there is a sense in which language can speak only vision and vision can see only language. I.e. these faculaties or modalities are each only able to see the other but not themseles (as in Lacan's prisioner game). If I were made up of two faculties each of which could only see the other this would explain, more neatly, why both modalities are required for self perception, or the feelng of self perception (and it would be very mebius strip like too).
Can sight see sight, can sight see language?
My sight can not see its eye unless that be determined as the whole of the screen itself. Even if it were the screen, the screen itself is generally speaking felt to be invisible. This may contradict some of what I have claimed about Japanese culture but, generally speaking, the screen, the visual field itself, the "mirror" itself, can not be seen only the contents.
Body can be seen mirrors, but that is not the seeing subject itself.
It might be argued that sight can only see symbols of self (is body self, or a symbol for sel?f), or that sight can only see self via language since any image of my body I have is always in a ground or context and always requires language to remove it from that ground or context. Sight can also see language as writing. Or if the imaginary might be widened to include sounds, phonemes, phonemes in mind then it might be able to say that in a sense we imagine language.
Can language mean sight, can language mean language?
I am not sure what it is to mean! Lacan claims that it can only mean another signifier. I am not sure if that means that language can only refer to language because language might be argued to be the (ghostly) world of the signified. On the other hand, nominalism such as that Derrida criticises in Rousseau who quotes Aristotle I think, seems to suggest that language (especially phonemes) name sights. "This is red." "This is a cat." Do I as language refer to myself as language or refer to myself in the world? It could be argued that when I refer to I or Timothy I always refer to something that can be seen and can not name my source of language. When I say I what am I refering to?
Taking a step back again, what does is the symbolic equivalent of "sight not being able to see itself"? Symbols can not symbolise themselves? Or I can not speak myself. Westerners generally assume, I think, that we can speak ourselves, but this, as the "contradition" I point out above (that Japanese may feel that they see themselves, or see "the mirror"), may be at the very least culturally relative, and possibly a delusion. Can I speak myself? This question has already been considered by Beneviste's critique of the esubject of utterancef or enunciator and the enunciated. I think that he pointed out that they were not necessarily the same, in the cogito, and not that they were necessarily different. Derrida, in this critique of Husserl however, points out (as I have waffled about too, here) that language existing as it does in time will always move on from the point of starting speech, such that I am I, or I know me, or any statement about self (or indeed the world) will not be able to take place at a temporal singularity so, perhaps it could be argued, the subject of utterance (whatever that may be - there is no mouth in my head but.... something is making these noises) is never, can never, enunciate itself.
Is there a parallelism here to do with both vision/the imaginary and language being....I would like to say "extended" but Descartes reserves this phrase for the visual imaginary... not-singularities?...extended
I am really getting into this idea though: that I am made up of two faculties that can each see itself only via the other. It might even make sense of Poe and Lacan's knots and strips. Like an invisible ghost that can see a blind man that can only speak of ghosts? This reminds me of "The Sixth Sense" and all those imaginary friends I wrote about on burogu.com.
Beneviste is online and I am reading him.
The ending of Lacan's essay suggests that Dupin was duping us. Perhaps Lacan is saying the same thing as me? Who knows.
The Horor of the Other, of self-speech and the autoscopic gaze
"they pray to images, much as if they were talking to temple edifices, for they do not know what gods
and heroes are." Heraclitus
What is the most grotesque thing that you can think of?
Today in a online news outlet regarding Japan there was a news story about a gentleman that had his genitalia surgically removed and then cooked them and sold them to people who were prepared to pay. I was not particularly disgusted, and any disgust I felt I feel ashamed of. The gentleman in question is free to do as he pleases in accordance with the law. Most of those commenting on the news article did feel disgust. There are some things, such as cannibalism, that many people seem to find disgusting.
My experience of the structure of my self was considerably more disgusting to me.
I do not get embarrassed easily. I do not feel ashamed easily at all. But my experience of the breakdown of my self, was so disgusting that I have found it difficult to recount. I also think that if I recount my experience of myself, I will alienate any audience that might conceivably be listening, or reading. At the same time, I think that it is important to share that experience with people. Perhaps this is some kind of self-therapy attempt. I don't think that I am altruist.
But, whatever my motives, I do want to be honest. I wish to confess, admit, and share the fact that, whether I like it or not, I am someone that, well, went mad once and experienced something about my self. I do not mean "myself" so much as "my self." I went mad and saw a certain self structure that I found really disgusting. You can read about it in a blog post or two, or see a video of me attempting to explain it. I don't think that my own experience of my self's structure is applicable to many other people. I am not sure. It does not need to be identical. I suggest that the grotesquely horrible queasiness of the self only this part is common.
I experienced a sort of crumbling, a division of parts that I normally felt, feel, as a whole. Normally I feel that I am me, and only me, and that I have no parts. But in that mad experience it seemed that I was more than one person. I felt as though I was three people. I became or realised I was a real giant me, and two roles that real me was playing: a listening me, and a speaking me. There was also a sense of loss, so perhaps there was a fourth part to the structure too.
Why was it disgusting?
I felt that I was engaging in homo-erotic, incestual, self love: that I was, my self was, is at its essence, a homo-erotic incestualism. I was (and am) in love with mother as simulated in my mind, and having a romantic, or even sexual, relationship with her. I was creating a woman within myself and in a sense, continually, chatting her up. I was making myself female. I was feminising myself for the purpose of this auto-erotic intra-cranial incestual fantasy. And the worst part is that I think that I continue to do this to this day. I continued then, and I continue now. I am engaging in a homo-auto-incestual fantasy. And this, it seems to me, is why I have a self at all. I can not think of anything more disgusting.
There are many theories as to the origin of the self.
Mead presents one of the best most sober, renditions.
In order to have a self we need to see ourselves from an objective point of view. In order to see oneself from an objective point of view, one needs to internalise the viewpoints of others (plural). In order to have a self, an independent self perhaps, one needs to create within oneself a "Generalised other," the perspective of oneself as it were, from no-where. How is this possible. Mead's sober Anglo Saxon explanation is mathematical or logical. The more views that one has of oneself the more one understands oneself. And by combining these views one can achieve objective self-hood, from the viewpoint of *not* one's mother, *not* ones father, but from a sort of mathematically, logically, systematically amalgamated general view point. How is this possible? Mead does not say. It sounds reasonable. But it is difficult to conceive of.
Freud is more vague. He also has a sort of generalised other in the form of the "super ego". Freud has written a lot and I do not pretend to have read everything he has written but in one rendition of the origin of the super ego (though he does not use that phrase in the paper in question) he suggest a historical event: that an alpha-male, woman monopolising primal father was killed by brothers who internalised the father figure that they had killed, and felt so guilty about that murder that they repressed it. In this rendition there is the horror, the shame or guilt, but towards a concrete act. That slaying of the primal father seems unlikely.
Bakhtin does not explain the origin of his super addressee. He just says that we always presume the presence of another addressee of our language. He suggests that this super addressee is a presumed God.
Lacan wavers. On the one had his "Other" seems to be language itself, a sort of neo Kantian (these days championed by Chomsky and Pinker) static, systematic, non-persona-ised version of the "generalised other". By non-persona-ized, I mean that the other from which we see the self is (under a non persona-alised, non personalised account) something that is not a simulated human. It, the other of our self speech, is rather a system, a structure, something that is not seen as a person. I think that his view is probably very popular among many theorists, or anyone with a scientific outlook. This generalised-other-as-system view does not require anything grotesque. If we understand ourselves from a generalised point of view then it is because we understand language. Language is our other, not a person at all. How nice, how clean and un-queasy that would be if it were the case.
There is another side to Lacan and Derrida, that however, does suggest a more personalised, or animistic view of the Other/super-adressee/generalised other. I would like to draw readers attention to two texts. Lacan's interpretation of an Edgar Allen Poe story, and Derrida's "The Postcard." Both of these texts are extremely opaque. These thinkers are never very clear but in these two texts, which they seem to address to each other, (even as they address themselves) there are aspects which I reverberate with my own (anomalous perhaps) crumbling of self.
Derrida's book "The Postcard," includes an collection of postcards, a long series of them, all written by the same author, Derrida, to an unknown recipient, a lover. After the postcards, there is an essay of massive opaqueness regarding Lacan's interpretation of Edgar Allen Poe.
Why is it that these too famous thinkers, wrote such horribly difficult to understand texts? I think that they were ashamed of what they were writing about. I think that they had a similar (though different) experience to me. And they, as academics, with position in society, could not share the facts of what they were writing about in a straightforward way. Not that that was the only reason. It was one of the reasons. The facts of the self are so abhorrent, so disgusting, so queasy, that even philosophers of the self are unable to say them in a more straight forward way.
I understand Lacan's text perhaps far less than Derrida. I may not understand Derrida at all. But it seemed to me that Derrida's postcards, addressed to a lover, were self-addressed. Derrida is famous for his instance that the phoneme is no different from the letter.
We all engage in self-speech. We all talk to ourselves. Derrida emphasises that talking to oneself is always in time. We can not talk to oneself instantaneously. The time it takes to say, think, or recall phonemes in self-speech, is. It takes time. There is nothing special about the phoneme. It is more ephemeral. But there is no digital distance, no dualism, no radical shift, between speaking to oneself and sending oneself postcards. Derrida writes these postcards about a picture of Plato and Socrates to himself, addressing himself as his own lover. He Derrida, is in love with Derrida in the future, the time that it take for a postcard to reach its destination. And he suggests that this self-correspondence is auto-erotic, and homosexual. Of course it is homosexual because there is only Derrida there. Only one guy. Only one recipient. But in time they split themselves and love each other, homo-erotically. Derrida makes jokes about the homo erotic aspect of the pictorial side of the postcard he is sending. His message for me is, as he said elsewhere that the self speech that we do is basically pretty grotesque, a homo erotic, intra-psychic (i.e. within ones own head) masturbation.
Lacan's reading of Poe is even more opaque. You might think that as someone who believed in the importance of the internalisation of language would be especially clear when recounting the way in which this occurs and the effect that it is has. But in this most important of points, this most important of things that need to be explained, Lacan is as confusing as he ever gets. Even so, Lacan too mentions that "the letter," feminises the person that has purloined it. For my money (of course I am biased) the purloiner purloins a letter that is addressed to a "Queen," and makes a Queen of himself. The purloiner, like Derrida's postcard sender, keeps a letter that should have been addressed to a queen. In a sense perhaps, he readdresses the letter to himself. He sends to himself a letter that should have been written to a woman, and in so doing womanises himself.
I am not a French dude. I don't try to speak in riddles.
It seems to me that self-speech, is not just to ourselves. There is as Bakhtin, Mead, Freud, and perhaps Lacan, there is a presumed, simulated other, other than oneself. As Hermans and Kempen point out we can and do simulate the ears of many others, of our friends, of people we envisage speaking to. But for there to be a "generalised" and or "super" other, an "Other" (with a capital) we need to speak to someone that at the same time we hide. I reject the nice, clean, logical, Kantian, Pinkerian, other-as-system. I think that Bakhtin and Wittgenstein are right to say that language is always discursive, it takes place in a presumed at least, dialogue, a game.
But at the same time we do have a super-ego, we do have a capitalised Other, we do have a super-addressee. This is possible because we repress the simulated capitalised Other, super-addressee. We are able repress this other, or continue to repress this other, because it is so queasy, so horribly, horribly queasy, or just plain horrible.
If so then perhaps this may explain why the Japanese, who may have internalised a co-gaze (Kitayama, 2005) or a mirror in the head, read and watch narratives and cinema in the horror genre which seems to feature monstrous women getting out of images, TV sets (Ringu), mirrors (Juuon, Mirrors), photo developer (Juuon), Lanterns (Oiwasan), and scrolls (Izakaya Yurei). I suggest that these represent the horror that keeps the gaze of the Japanese Other, hidden, generalised, capitalised, in place.
Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (First ed.). University Of Chicago Press.
Freud, S. (1913). Totem and taboo. (A. A. Brill, Trans.). New York: Moffat, Yard and Company. Retrieved from http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Totem_and_Taboo
Hermans, H. J. M., & Kempen, H. J. G. (1993). The dialogical self: Meaning as movement. Academic Press.
Kitayama, O. kRC. (2005). ¤_. ukŠ.
Lacan, J., & Mehlman, J. (1972). Seminar one The Purloined Letterf. Yale French Studies, (48), 39–72.
Lacan, J. (2007). Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English. (B. Fink, Trans.) (1st ed.). W W Norton & Co Inc.
Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing.). University of Texas Press.
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
May 02, 2012
Mary is a in a story, not a room
Mary's problem (Jackson, 1982) is not that she is in a physical room isolated from the world of experience, but that "Mary" is a part of a thought experiment, a word, or what a word expresses, and she lives in a story. Mary knows all and only the words about colour. Her question her story poses is how can anyone 'know' (note that know is a word) something that is not a word. If people can't know things that are not words, then they can't know them irrespective of whether they are in a room or not.
So do I mean to say that this is a language problem rather than a physicalist problem? Not really, they are the same problem. There 'is' nothing outside the text.
One can't argue with people who say that there is nothing outside the text. "What then?"they will ask, and they will take our silence as proof of their victory. I 'met' one on line once who wanted to to prove to me that there is nothing outside language. I became silent and I suppose he continued to believe he was right. I think perhaps conquering people into silence helps such people to maintain their belief in omnipresent omniscience of words.
Hellie, one of the commentators in the book about Jackson's essay says similar things.
Hellie suggests that (i) the gcore idea behind the knowledge argumenth is that gan expressible concept and an inexpressible concept cannot both denote the same entityh and infers that (ii) gthe passage through knowledge is largely a detourh (Hellie 2004, p. 350).
I largely agree but I feel sorry for him. "Inexpressible concept" is pretty weird, and would come under the same kind of attack. "What is that then?" They may ask, as usual.
Furthermore, I think that that the interesting thing about Mary is that we are all Mary, we are all in her room. The colours we are not seeing, the ones that would enable us to know "what colours look like", are not visible to any of us. If we see anything at all then what ever it is, it is not colours. Colours are what we can agree on.
I think that the world is that impossible place 'outside' where we presume we are, or make the mistake that we are. In that world the expressible world and the inexpressible world meet. We go around thinking that unlike Mary we know what red looks like, but how could "red look like" anything? Strictly speaking the sentence is nonsense. A plane can look like a bird but red only looks like red, and neither the subject or predicate of that sentence are any different from each other.
Fortunately perhaps we do think that "expressible concepts" and "inexpressible concepts" "denote the same entity." Or rather we do believe in the meeting point of sound and vision, or the meeting point between the itterable and the extensive, which usually means between sound and vision.
Perhaps originally we do believe in the meeting of word and vision in people, but people are all rather ventriloquists.
Or drifting off into the world of Christian mysticism we believe that a sounds can come from vision because we believe one can put an apple in ones mouth, or body in ones mouth, and have it come again as a word.
I get the feeling that we are all in Mary's room, or that there is a Mary in our room. Is it purely a coincidence that a lot of men are getting worked up about a woman in room on her own with only people, or a person, to talk to about the world? Does she correspond to anything in their, our psyche?
Hellie, B. (2004). Inexpressible Truths and the Allure of the Knowledge Argument. Therefs something about Mary: essays on phenomenal consciousness and Frank Jacksonfs knowledge argument, 333.
Jackson, F. (1986). What Mary didnft know. The Journal of Philosophy, 83(5), 291–295.