Wendy’s Subway presented performances and discussion of Bohinc’s “psycho-sexual thriller” Dear Alain, Webster’s The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis (Karnac Books, 2011), which addresses Badiou’s theory of love and asks how it may be conceived from the psychoanalyst’s discourse; and Wilson’s “Fifteen Theses,” on her artist’s book created from Badiou’s Being and Event to investigate the rhythms of reading, pleasure in distraction, and the book as a “cover.” Badiou attended performatively, as an audience member.
Post-show discussion from the Unbehagen SalOon
Cecilia Wu responds to Jamieson Webster’s “Alain Badiou is Not a Walk in the Park”:
Jamieson Webster gave an amazing performance of at Wendy’s Subway in response to Katy Bohinc’s poetic seduction of Alain Badiou. This event was overwhelmingly fun for me, a convergence, if not a conversion, of worlds I frequently scavenge.
It seems impossible not to take philosophy personally. It’s like some perverse attempt to compensate for the lack of handheld intimacy in the philosophical relation. Another option would be some variation of the pedagogical pedophilia embraced all too literally as a mode of transmission by the unforgettable Ancients. I’m not sure I want to time travel to try this. Transmission by consummation might be trying too hard to understand. In any case, the meta on meta of metallurgical frottage does not enduringly suffice. That’s about as erotically neurotic as it gets. Leave it to Freud to attempt a neurotica only to bury it as a leveled subfloor under a floating neurosis. This metaphor snuck in metaleptically from a situation Evan actually neurotically finds himself in. The inability to use glue to bind flooring in his new office space. He must avert glue and instead install a floating floor. The preconditions for installation are the leveling of the subfloor, and the three day resurrective acclimation of the faux wood slats. I digress, only to affirm the impossibility that anyone could thoroughly embody a walk in the park, however Platonically ontologically mathematical they might think they are, the errancy if the void prevails! This proves true even when I’m taking my master signifier out for a groundless walk.
To return to Jamieson’s undead motif by affirming the negation of the being of the walking in the park, somewhere between the erotics of the transgressive forge and the neurotics of actual sexless frustration, floor boards notwithstanding, there is, existentially and phantasmagorically, a park! Phew. There is no no in the unconscious afterall. Or finally, as Badiou would put it, flaunting the death drive charm of his self betraying tick. Finally there is no finitude? Finally never say never? Which brings me back to the no no of the unconscious. Says who? The superego of the antechamber? Perhaps as soon as a ‘not’ tries to enter the unconscious it immediately transmutes into a positively overdetermined ‘knot.’ Is anything not the unconscious? Could a ‘not unconscious’ survive outside of the unconscious lack of a no? Can I be beside myself as the denial of my affirmative unconscious protoplasm?
Returning again and again to the peripatetic experiment, one’s lot of parking potential seems to only appear in the wake of an inscription forming a sensorially charged moebian lasso stretching from the crumpled innards to the favorably positioned sexual object and back again to the haptic membrane of a crouching desire. Yet the sexual object is just too sexy and voluptuous for its clothes causing spontaneous warping of its semblance. The hysteric caresses the lassoed warp with her quick quill, her fecund phallus par excellence, as she is first of all a writer, a poet of soma psyche border transgression. Who would settle for the paltry signifier, issued by the department of parks and recreation, represented by the icon of an eternally verdant maple leaf? Park the car, infinitely deferring passing go? Or, gallivant in Jamieson’s psycho sexual park in a park detached from itself and splitting itself immaculately to birth new parks, while high on local anaesthesia.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Freud claims anaesthesia to be the common currency of melancholia and hysteria while he is concurrently experimenting substantively with cocaine, which he believed could cure fatigue, indigestion, and low spirits. In each of these cases, there is the paradox of how cocaine manages to lift the spirits while dampening the excitation of nerve endings by blocking the sodium channels responsible for sending us the news of pain. I’m no expert on cocaine use, but it seems it might create the sensation of weightless acceleration of a mind detached from a body. Somehow there is an inverse relation between the height of spirit and the magnitude of excitation.
Back to Badiou, as he continues his infinitely discombobulating striptease, whom I affectionately refer to as Badass. I for one could not believe his magnum opus Being and Event ended with an image of Mallarme’s ‘castle of purity.’ What the fuck! He eloquently critiques Heideggarian becoming as a flower that blooms only to suck itself back up. Is he not himself akin to a vacuum cleaner? He also critiques the ‘bad infnity’ of Deleuze as an infinite regression of flight lines no less banal and grounded in the illusion of extensionality than the optics of receding corridors produced by the compund effect of facing mirrors. Who knew we could be so fooled by the ensuing mirage when the mirror encounters itself? Is this not the epitomy of an evil eye? What looking glass could serve as apotropaic intervention in this case of endless eternal return of the one and the same frame of an erectile flat plane? A frame having long since given up its specular ghost? What kind of self annihilating mirror stage is this? Sans subject, yet infinitely rife with an endles repettion of the one? Alain, you’re the math genius born of a math genius father. You figure it out in accordance with your law ridden lineage. I won’t settle for it simply being a matter of ontological priority. Though I do appreciate how you subtract from the law in your law ridding way. Still the question continues to beg for its lost instinctual libido, how could the count as one count without us? That’s Frankesnstinian! How is your branded ‘Event’ supposed to get us to your proprietary ‘Infinity’ along a curly cue highway decorated felcitously with local temporalities?
After getting some couch time with our dearly beloved Alain, the object cause of every violently hysterical woman, as he is deftly mapped by Jamieson, I felt a bit better. I pressed him. Alain, why is your infinity better than Hegel’s nude infinitely ascending a spiral staircase to your bedroom? Alain braces himself in response, rigorous as ever, scribbling a diagram of the philosopher’s dialectic between the finitude of the local and the infinity of what, outer space? Why is your infinity hanging out in the far left margin? Maybe the bookmark as makeshift tabula rasa wasn’t long enough. It was getting late. I settled for Alain’s compactified wisdom. Being and Event chastises Hegel for fetishizing movement as such. Hegel’s spiral rises to a finite point. Alas, Alain postpones the orgasm to remain vigilant at the edge of the void. I am advised that the forthcoming sequel proposes an immanent infinity within the finite. We may as well enjoy messianic time while waiting for the messiah. A time that is not the eternal time of state power, nor the ephemeral time of the mass movement. Though he never quite gets around to elaborating what this third time might be, he is purportedly too busy primping, this third temporality apparently solves the poets paradox of the projective plane, which is as toxically finite as the horror of the horoscope, and the naivete of love at first sight.
Never say never, but if you see a circle, or someone claiming to be enjoying the spark of virgo pisces polarity, run for the hills! As Katy insists, in spite of or because of risk of condemnation by her object cause of not being walking, infinite lines meet at the horizon to form a circle in the progression from point to line to circle to…flower! For Badass, floral multiplicities are better off wilted. Wilting might be the epitome of the possibility of possibility, Badiou’s mantra against global capitalism and the constancy of exceptional security. We must hold the predicate of possibility in suspicion. Aren’t hysterics supposed to be good at doubting? Katy might be somewhat failing to live up to the heights of hysterical plumage with her clasping of the floral peak of the projective plane, which is dimly finite and inertly glazed with the tidy contradictoriness of obsessive static guard.
Well at least hysteria can save us from melancholia if it can be bidden to write. Obscure object of desire aside, I am so inspired by this suggestion via Jamieson’s innovative reconstruction of the park.
How could Alain Badiou be a walk in the park? The ethics of walking would seem to preclude an ontological usurpation by any ass, good or bad. Thanks to Jamieson for releasing the squid ink from the bad ass. You kicked ass!
Yours hysterically, though perhaps perversely tomorrow,
Cecilia Wu and Evan Malater on Enjoyment, Sacrifice, and Conversion
As we traverse Freud’s precocious soma-psyche map in the aftermath of a hysterical visitation, we bear witness to a wasteland of discharge. Such is the carnage of a dance of death cycling manically between between the hoarding of enjoyment and the catharsis of sacrifice. Badiou addresses the arbitrariness of corporeal border controls at this junction, referring to today’s world as “a war between enjoyment and sacrifice.” Through his deconstruction of these terms, the paradoxical dependency of the hysteric’s death defying enjoyment on imposterous enactments of death embracing sacrifice is illuminated. As a master of inversion, the hysteric performs seemingly endless permutations of life folded into death, and death folded into life. Time and again, the hysteric proves to have an incredible aptitude for switching between the life in death of the acrobatic epicurean and the death in life of the icy hot martyr.
Yet Badiou is just not having it. He bemoans the contempo casuals crisis of hopelessly morbid caution tape conundrums. As Badiou contends, the dialectic between embodied worldly enjoyment and radical ecstatic sacrifice must be considered, and a third possibility that is neither strictly bodily nor absolutely metaphysical must be considered.
In a subjective paradigm of enjoyment, the subject pays homage to the grim reaper by pushing up against him for kicks. He enjoys by pushing the limits of his body to produce bodily jouissance. Employing himself himself as an in house guinea pig, he aims for pleasure beyond pleasure while vindictively chanting ‘the limits of my body are the limits of my world!’
In a subjective paradigm of sacrifice, the subject tries to effect a separation from the body. His pleasure beyond suffering is “idealistic, theological, metaphysical.”
For Badiou neither enjoyment nor sacrifice will work: “There is no real opening for new artistic creation.” He puts out a call for a third as yet to be found exit strategy. Bring on the new body!
As Badiou writes in “Bodies, Languages, Truths,” the new body is an “operative disposition of the traces of the truth….Freedom presupposes that there appears in the world a new body, a truth-body. The subjective forms of incorporation made possible by this new body define the nuances of freedom. Freedom has nothing to do with the capacities of an ordinary body under the law of some language. Freedom is: active participation to the consequences of a new body, which is always beyond my own body. A truth-body which belongs to one of the four great figures of exception: love, politics, art and science; so freedom is not a category of elementary life of bodies. Freedom is a category of intellectual novelty, not within, but beyond ordinary life.”
So at the end of the day when all that is not said comes undone, can hysterical conversion respond to Badiou’s call for a “new body”?
Jamieson evokes the agitated muses of the dual chamber waiting room of the hysteric through her enactment of a soma-psyche park. The one that dear Alain Badiou is not. From the safety of her eternal not yet, the hysteric invites her self as other to invade her over-inscribed auto-convertible body. She gratuitously taps into her parked potential, a seething bestiary of hoarded sexual energy.
Jamieson writes: “In hysteria, there is a split, a radical one, that follows the lines of this soma-psyche boundary, which Freud called conversion disorder. There is a radical cut, unlike melancholia (where the system takes a blow and everything is trapped or stagnating), such that everything below, meaning the soma-sexual, is preserved. Like a park. The conversion of psyche into soma, holds psyche in reserve, and preserves the force of the sexual. This is why the hysteric is so excitable, full of energy to the point of excess, and full of symptoms that respond to the day. Freud marvels at her for the virtue of this split, because she is able, by virtue of it, to transpose somatic sexuality across the map— into psyche, into more body, into external love objects, into external hated objects, probably there an infinite number of possibilities. Freud called this her peculiar “psycho-physical aptitude for conversion.
So the hysterical symptom is a means of preservation and the potential for conversion, which should be thought here in its Latin – convertere— to turn everything, which is where its religious sense is taken from. The hysterical symptom is like a pen for beasts, or a militant encampment of vehicles, slowly arranging themselves into a formation, waiting… the hysterical park is the place of pure potential. She is a lady in waiting, waiting with her claims to love, waiting for this object, as something absolutely specific, exact, singular, and even one might call, ethical. This object is something that she will construct piece by piece. This is how she searches, waiting from the inside-out, waiting for what, out-there, she will allow or deign to allow to break-in, writing from the outside-in.”
Does the hysterical writing produced in the dystopic eden of the soma psyche park come to realize a “new body,” or does this cat’s cradle of convulsive convertibility remain within the logic of enjoyment and/or sacrifice and not yet beyond?
I would venture that it precisely remains.
While hysterical writing might go down in cultural history as a death driven use of the body seeking to overcome the more static morbidity of individual, artistic and cultural impasses, it nonetheless creates its own deadlock of a psycho sexual thrill kill cult.