Playing with LACAN: comics, pop art, and pleasure

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image from entropic-empire

I really dig comics and pop artifacts that do theory the right way…cuz not everyone into theory is into “high” culture. And there’s nothing more irritating than a pompous idiot who thinks that Lacan is only for “professional” Lacanians. The reason why Lacan’s work is interesting is because it is talking about the conflict between how people imagine their lives and how they live them- as well as how the conscious mind spends most its time trying to cover up this discrepancy.

When he was speaking and writing he was addressing a mostly French and insular audience but that doesn’t mean that we have to mystify his ideas with dry academic ramblings. Bruce Fink’s writings on Lacan are a significant step in the right direction. And “Introducing Lacan” by Darian Leader and Judy Groves is an excellent example of how psychoanalysis can be communicated in comic-book format and still retain clarity without too many theoretical sacrifices.

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click on the images to read the text…from “Introducing Lacan” by Darian Leader and Judy Groves, 2000

In my brief encounters with academia I have gotten the impression that there is an unwritten rule: If you are enjoying yourself too much then your thinking must not be very good. After all thought is “serious.” Perhaps this is why Zizek had such a hard time getting his Phd thesis certified…anyway…even he seems to have realized that people become far more open to philosophy if you gift-wrap it in a joke with popular references like Hitchcock. He gets annoyed by the fact that even some of his closest colleagues sometimes think he is just mucking about…but he realizes that he would fall under censure far more frequently if he made some of his radical propositions without a touch of irony. In fact, I do not think Zizek is very frequently ironic at all. He just pretends to be ironic so that the fluttering hearts of sentimental liberals can be soothed with the question “he wasn’t being REALLY serious, was he?”

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image from zeitgeistfilms

Anyway, those of us who have felt the lacerating whip of academia probably realize that, when you are very far down the totem pole of academic hierarchy…it is difficult to get away with making the kinds of jokes that Zizek does. But, regardless, I’ve gotten tired of the dour-faced self-flagellation that most older academics seem to expect in British academia. Come on! Somebody tell a joke! Well perhaps they really are enjoying themselves and there’s a secret trap door in the teacher’s lounge that leads to a torture dungeon with whips and paddles but I’ve not yet been invited.

I digress…

So the point being…academia seems to bring with it instructions for HOW TO approach theory and it usually frowns upon enjoyment.

The point is…if you like theory…you shouldn’t be barred from enjoying it just because you aren’t into whips……and if you enjoy comics…then mix it up. Here is some graphic art along those lines…

Kid A IN ALPHABET LAND (trading card set)

(An Abecedarian Roller Coaster Ride Through The Phallocentric Obscurantism Of Jacques Lacan)

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text from above image:

Kid A In Alphabet Land Jumps Another Juicy ‘Jaculator – That Jerk-Off, Jouissance!

You Displease Me, And You Think I Gain Pleasure From That! Heh! You Must Take Me For Some Masochistic Francophile! And You’re The Substance I’m Paid With By My Lack Of Substance? You’re Impossible! I’m Coming To Get You! – Fuck You, Jouissance!

Check out the whole KID A deck at KID A

and for more Lacanian artwork and other avant garde weirdness check out Perfume

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2 Comments

  1. That is not enough!

    I just rec’d my french copy of Seminar XXIII after struggling with the pirate Ornicar english version, reprinted for a class 20 years ago, in a pdf file. The english isn’t even complete. The figures incomprehensible, and it matters.

    The academic gatekeepers of Lacan, in english, are worse than boring, banal and misleading.

    …not just distorting the master with their lesser brains (including JAM & esp. Z), but methodically worse. Kid A predates this phenomena, when then, as Lacan ackiowledged, Americans could take him even further with questions none of his groupies would ask.

    But nothing is more radically human: an invincible resistance.
    Dudes: your SInthome can suck jouissance directly through the hole in the symbolic from the real, but–I wonder–how Americans can no longer understand what leaning on a signifier for support means.

    You’ll have to get back to that place on your own.

  2. Wow dude, get a life


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