We have seen that Fragmentation plays a role, and a very decisive role at that. With the “church in the Wilderness”, we have also seen that we may bring together our Fragments to help ease the pain.
But, here it seems we are left with an aporia: The monstrous image of the fragmented body, what are we make of it? In early Lacan, we have the image of the corps morcelé, the body-in-pieces, which gives us an eternal anxiety (see here). Even the body is not complete by such a communion, and even still it remains Fragmented.
In Deborah A. Harter’s Bodies in Pieces: Fantastic Narrative and the Poetics of the Fragment we find a beautiful series of questions on page 3:
The problem of Fragmentation and the Fragmented Body is important to consider because in the last instance it is intimately tied up with the promulgation of violence. The infamous surrealist images of mutilated women, the representations of abused and cut-up women in literature, film, art, and so forth should mark a crisis of post-modernity.
It should signal a cry from the Wilderness, of the need to address the Crisis, the culture of rape, and structural oppression of women. The Fragmented Body also reminds us of the need to attend to victims of war, of those who suffer from PTSD and other traumas, of those who have had limbs amputated. The list continues endlessly…if the red highlight of the following text blocks bothers you, you should stop to imagine the red of the he blood, sweat, tears, excrement, and the bodily fluids of all kinds that are spilled in acts of physical and psychological violence and torture.
In the bookfromthesky blog, we find a nice post entitled “Interferon, abjection and Piss Christ” (see here) in which Kristeva’s conception of “abjection” is brought in to the picture:
This powerful ideology of infection, scatology, identity and anxiety is explored by Julia Kristeva in her book, The Powers of Horror. Kristeva examines these ideas in terms of the Lacanian (psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan) conception of the “imagos of the fragmented body”. Kristeva approaches the fragmented body through the prism of an idea called the gestalt body, a psychological term which seeks to develop awareness of self through an appreciation of embodied experience. The term gestalt refers to a configuration of elements unified as a whole in such a way that it can no longer be defined by the sum of its parts. Kristeva traces psychological development towards the gestalt body, all the “me and I’s” in the world, from the beginnings of the self in the chora. In the chora phase of psychological development (very early infancy) the mind of the “self” is not yet capable of distinguishing itself from the world. Mutilation, severing, weeping, leaking all (can) equate to trauma because they are images of the “fragmented body” and constitute the trauma of separation innate to the formulation of “me” from “him/her”. The security of self is contained in a totalised physicality; borders of my “self”; “self” as nation. In Kristeva’s words, the abject makes an indexical bridge between the self and the “immemorial violence [in] which a body becomes separated from another body in order to be”. Contradicting affirmative notions of “self”, images of abjection undermine the self; confronting it with notions of mortality and impermanence; of non-self.
While early Lacan plays upon the primal negativity of our Fragmentation, upon the dis-continuous aspects of our being, it is at this point which Kristeva takes up the voice of the Infinite in response. Kristeva, following Bakhtin in many ways, locates a way to proceed, the hard way, but a way which nonetheless recognizes the power and positivity of the Body.
To Lacan’s credit, perhaps pressured by the influence of Kristeva, he is left but no choice to come back to the image of the body in his later years, this time with a more positive account related to this jouissance of the lived, of the proof [épreuve] of abundant Life found in the Fragmented Body.
In The Body in the Teaching of Jacques Lacan (see here), Colette Soler performs an exceptional exposition of this transformation towards positivity:
He also says: the body intervenes as a third term, between knowledge – that is, unconscious knowledge – and jouissance, the jouissance of the living being. The effect of this intervention – this is what Lacan says – is fragmentation. We are used to considering fragmentation from its negative side, that is, to consider that the fragmented body is a suffering body. That is only one aspect of the matter, because fragmentation itself also means that it is language which attributes your organs to you. Put another way, it means that the body functions as a fragmented body. In “L’Etourdit”, Lacan insists on the fact that it is because the body inhabits language that it has organs.
Let us pause on the moment to consider his idea that “the body is the desert of jouissance”. Can we say that the body is the Wilderness?
Make no mistake, the Wilderness is not a desert – no, to the contrary, the Wilderness is blooming with Life! Indeed, it is not only producing life, but it is also creating it and constructing it as if ex nihilo. To properly dissolve this problem, what is needed here is indeed a de-organ-ization of thought, a move away from these strict formalities, to a new and Unified Body of non-violence thoughtaction.
On a similar note, Žižek’s bizarre reversal of the Deleuzian “bodies without organs” as “organs without bodies” requires a unification provided by Novalis among others. His inability to move past Lacan and Hegel, his refusal to awkwardly partake in the dance of duality, is best seen in his missed encounter and misreading of Deleuze and Guattari. It is no wonder that both Žižek and Badiou face a similar problem or impasse in their thinking, likely in virtue of sticking to purely “formal” methodologies of the scientific Aufhebung and ZFC set theory respectively.
In the face of this problem, where Žižek openly admits his ignorance, Badiou sets off for a very problematic and fundamentally violent kind of philosophical mastery. Again, to properly dissolve the tension we must have a spinning of the negative thought into the positive and creative action.
Our last post (see here) was characterized by the need to gather Fragments and piece them together in accordance with a certain Vision, like that of the Encyclopedia which Novalis had himself envisioned.
It was about the Fragmentation of our Wandering, the “hermeneutics of suspicion”, and more generally of our ignorance and human finitude. However, to end on such a note is to end on a very negative note, a markedly “post-modern” one whereby Truth is inaccessible, where the walls of the prison rise up above us, whereby we are trapped in the limits of our language as the Text devours us.
Passing through this strata is of course as we have seen is likely, though we mustn’t stay for long. There is much to be learned from the “linguistic” turn, from the “religious” turn, from the “speculative” turn, and so on. In the “linguistic” turn, for instance, our knowledge is organized in accordance with the Symbolic realm, the semiotic space, the laws of signifiers/signified, by way of myths, wordplay, dizzying puns, and so on. But, the time has come, after these previous turns, to begin to learn from the act of turning itself.
The next spinning we are to take is precisely the one prompted by the idea of an “Organizing Principle”, through which the Fragments are pieced together and they contribute – positively – to the Whole of our thoughtaction. My various friends recently have been dealing with questions of Chaos (see here, here, and here among others), but what do we make of the positivity of what has already been organized in the Body? Look at all we have already lived through! Look at what we have already discovered!
This is meaning of the “hermetic turn”: You must search within to find your own strength which comes from the lived, your own lived, and project it in the World. How have you been Wandering lately? Share your testimony, wisely and carefully intervene with a loving hand in the crises of others around you. This is the turn inward, a self-reflective turn towards the Infinite contained within each of us.
There is an interesting juxtaposition available here between Deleuze and Novalis that I would like to bring up, on the question of organs and bodies. Here, the organ is understood as the Fragmentary part of the Whole. Should we treat each of these “turns” as organs, to examine turning-in-itself would be to think each and every one of the organs in the Body, to become an absolute body without organs.
Novalis writes with clarity:
The art of becoming-omnipotent – the art of realizing our will totally. We must attain power over the body as we do over the mind. The body is the tool to shape and modify the world — we must therefore seek to cultivate our bodies to be come an organ capable of anything. Modification of our tool is a modification of the world. [...] We know it perfectly if we can communicate it, arouse it everywhere and in all ways — if we can produce an individual expression of it in each organ. [...] Striving toward unity — striving towards diversity.
Contrast this with Deleuze & Guattari’s view in A Thousand Plateaus:
This is how it should be done. Lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the opportunities it offers find an advantageous place on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continua of intensities segment by segment, have a small plot of new land at all times. It is through a meticulous relation with the strata that one succeeds in freeing lines of flight, causing conjugated flows to pass and escape and bringing forth continuous intensities for a BwO.
We see immediately that just as Deleuze wishes to tend to become-imperceptible, Novalis strives similarly to become-infinite in both directions.
The overlap between the two is also motivated by a concern for continuous intensity and Unitivity. A placement of the fragments together to integrate the differentiated perspectives of each of the individual organs. This turns them into a de-Fragmented body extended in space and time like in our reading of Rilke’s Archaic Torso of Apollo (see here).
We shall see momentarily that this Vision-beyond-Vision is a Vision of the Body.
Admittedly, this has little to do with the visual – little do do with what is seen – at all; it cannot come from the eyes. What we seek is a “continuous intensity” of the BwO. In other words, we need to learn to see with our ears, as with a certain sensitivity to the “sound of violence” we can foresee the event before it takes place. If we look for it with our eyes, surely it makes sense that we will miss its invisibility.
In an otherwise crisp critique of Lacan mimicking that of Kristeva, moving with-Lacan-beyond-Lacan, Peter Sloterdijk notes of the mirror-stage: “It makes an initial reference to its own appearance as a coherent body among coherent bodies in the real visual space, but this integral being-an-image-body means almost nothing alongside the pre-imaginary, non-eidetic certainties of sensual-emotional dual integrity”
In his otherwise confusing passage, it is clear he speaking with direct reference to the psycho-acoustics of everyday life, of the need to perform a rhythmic analysis of the World. Perhaps psychoanalyst Guy Rosolato (may he RIP) can put it more clearly for us.
We find in Cutting the Body : Representing Woman in Baudelaire’s Poetry, Truffaut’s Cinema, and Freud’s Psychoanalysis this elegant account by Eliane DalMolin, on page 58.
If the body is fragmented it is only because we are inhabiting language, thus our next turn must be one against visuality. But “speculative” is clearly not the right word for this, as we are not left with considering objects, as we can still hear the music. This turn inward must speak truths outside of our metaphorical language; it must be able to speak of the metonymy of the Infinite.
Therefore, we are left with no choice but to turn to sound, the basis (see here) of which is understood in a language which is not our own, a language which may indeed speak of the Infinite, the language of mathematics. For all of my many, many disagreements with Badiou’s mathematics, his genius lies in showing us that there is indeed another way out.
DalMolin, Eliane Françoise. Cutting the Body: Representing Woman in Baudelaire’s poetry, Truffaut’s Cinema, and Freud’s Psychoanalysis. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. Print.
Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. Print.
Harter, Deborah A.. Bodies in Pieces: Fantastic Narrative and the poetics of the fragment. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1996. Print.
Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982. Print.
Kristeva, Julia, and Kelly Oliver. The Portable Kristeva. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. Print.
Sloterdijk, Peter, and Wieland Hoban. Bubbles: Microspherology. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e) ;, 2011. Print.
Soler, Colette. What Lacan said About Women: A Psychoanalytic Study. New York: Other Press, 2006. Print.
Stoljar, Margaret Mahony. Novalis: Philosophical Writings. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1997. Print.