‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part nine)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on June 5, 2018 @ 5:26 pm

I want to focus on the Idealich and Ichideal for a while as it is one of the central components of this thesis looking at the formation of the subject described at the beginning of this series who projects a sense of self onto the Other. For the moment I want to raise a trope of the Hearing Voices Network that ‘the voices are real’, this particular phrasing was first raised by Ron Coleman in his book Recovery: An alien concept, but a similar phrasing , as has been mentioned, was mentioned by RD Laing (credited to a Dr Isaacs) in the 1961 book Self and Others, in which the phrase is ‘the phantasms are real’, RD Laing then deals with this dialectically and puts the phrase into a more social context, and I will be coming ot this in future articles, but suffice for now to acknowledge the egoistic nature of this Freudian concept is challenged elsewhere, and now to understand the ego’s share of this phenomenon, let us return to the Ichideal and Idealich.
Dr LeClaire states that according to Freud the sense of self has three origins: 1. Primary narcissistic satisfaction, 2. The measure of success, the satisfaction of the desire for omnipotence and 3. The gratification received from love objects. Leclaire isolates one of these for consideration “the development of the ego consists in an estrangement from primary narcissism and gives rise to a vigorous attempt to recover that state. This departure is brought about by means of the displacement of libido on to an ego-ideal imposed from without satisfaction is brought about from fulfilling this ideal. So the ego experiences a kind of estrangement, passing via a middle term, which is the ideal, and returns later to its primitive position.” (p.135-136). O. Mannoni remarks that this would be the structuration of the ego. Leclaire goes onto explain the this ambiguity of Freud suggests that this displacement of the libido onto an ideal can be either a displacement onto an image of the ego, an ideal that is dissimilar to the one that is already there, or it is a displacement onto something going beyond the form of the ego, something quite properly an ideal, a form. O.Mannoni argues that there is a distinction between the structuration of the ego and the development of the person, “because it is truly an ego that structures, but within a being that is developing” (p.137). Lacan concludes that this is quite properly structuration and it is this point that is the joint between the imaginary and symbolic.
It is that this point that I am minded again of Laing’s idea of elusion. Let us return to it again. Laing mentions ‘the complicated elusive relationship to one’s actual position’ in a chapter on ‘pretence and the elusion of experience’, he describes a thought experiment
1. One is sitting in a room
2. One imagines or pretends that the room is not a real room. But is a room that one is cinjuring up by one’s own imagination: (A-> B).
3. Having pretended this point almost to convincing oneself that the room is an imaginary toom, one then starts pretending that the room is a real room and not an imaginary room after all: (B -> A1).
4. One ends up, therefore by pretending that the real room is real, rather than perceiving it as real.
We can see here a relation to Lacan and LeClaire’s discussion of the ‘true/real ego’s’ relation to the ichideal. Where the phrase: “So the ego experiences a kind of estrangement, passing via a middle term, which is the ideal, and returns later to its primitive position”, is a description of an ‘elusive relationship’. Laing writes “In elusion, everything becomes elusive. Its symbols are will-o’-the-wisps, feathers, dust, fluff, straws in the wind – all that is difficult to grasp, grip, hold with one’s hands, pin down, control, handle, manipulate, define, catch. Not only the content of the situation but its qualities and modalities are eluded also. It evades being categorised as real or unreal imagination or phantasy. Beulah, the realm of the moon, under Chinese lanterns, rather than under the naked electric bulb… One finds that person who is entirely given over to a phantasy of something that can be searched for and found. He is only his very own searching. What one has is always not what one wants, and yet it is precisely the elusiveness of this want that one is unable to say what one wants, lacks, has not got, because what one wants (lacks) is precisely what one has not got… what is, what one is, what other people are, facts – this is not what is wanted. Those brute facts that cannot be eluded are repellent if not nauseating, disgusting, and obscene.” (p.30-31). This is Laing describing, what he labels, a hysteric’s relation to the reality principle as opposed to the idealich. This is as elusion is both a relation of self to self, and a relation of self to others.
One finds oneself thinking of Alvin Lucier’s sound-art performance I am sitting in a room. The performance involves Lucier (or the performer) speaking a few lines (“I am sitting in a room…” and so on) into a tape recorder in a room with a particular echoic effect. Thiese lines are repeated and then played back, and recorded again, and played back, over and over, the repetition creates an out of synch effect, and the intensity becomes an overwhelming noise or cacophony.
Laing continues “But if a person’s whole way of life becomes characterised by elusion, he becomes a prisoner in a limbo world, in which illusion ceases to be a dream that comes true, but comes to be the realm in which he dwells, and in which he has become trapped. To be constantly sustained, elusion requires great virtuosity: the dissonances of phantasy-imagination-reality can have great charm if kept implicit, but if too explicit they become cacophony.” (p.31). With regards the psychotic Laing argues that “the main-in-the-street: for instance, that he has a body which has an inside and an outside; that he has begun at his birth and ends biologically speaking at his death; that he occupies a position in space; that he occupies a position in time; that he exists as a continuous being from one place to the next and from one moment to the other. The ordinary person does not reflect upon these basic elements of his being because he takes his way of experiencing himself and others for granted. However the schizoid, and still more the schizophrenic, has a precarious sense of his own person (and other persons) as adequately embodied, as alive, as real, as substantial, and as a continuous being, who is at one place at one time, and at a different place at another time, remaining the ‘same’ throughout, and a sense of himself as an agent of his own actions (instead of a robot, a machine, a thing), and as the agent of his own perceptions (someone else is using his eyes, his ears etc).” (p.35). A state Laing describes as personal disintegration, as ontological insecurity. Laing paraphrases Winnicot when he says a hysteric is trying to get TO a madness. “Madness indeed seems to be sought by some hysterics as a way out of the elusiveness of everything. Madness would be something definite, an arrival, a relief. But although the hysteric may succeed in getting a certificate of insanity, it remains a counterfeit, a fraud which is tragic enough. The counterfeit can engulf the person’s life as much as the ‘real thing’. But ‘real’ madness eludes him as much as ‘real sanity’. Not all who would be can be psychotic.” (p.37).
Baudrillard discusses in Simulacra and Simulation the counterfeit. With regards the counterfeit he discusses money, a counterfeit that was the perfect copy in every way, is understood only in concept as a counterfeit, as it was not produced by the sovereign mint. The question for sanity is what is this sovereign guarantee? That Laing’s hysteric so desperately wants? If it exists at all? Is it the Master Signifier? For the psychotic in Laing’s description it is disintegration in the face of it. I want here for a moment to bring up a book that devoted itself to disintegrating Freud, alongside Marx and Nietzsche, and that is Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus. In it, as with Laing and Winnicot claiming the ‘hysteric’ is trying to get to madness, and that ‘not all who would be can be psychotic’, so Deleuze and Guattari state that “A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch.” (p2).

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace