The Zombie Epidemic: Hypermodern Version of the Apocalypse : 25th September 2013: New York: Jorge Assef

by Julia Evans on September 25, 2013

The Zombie Epidemic: Hypermodern Version of the Apocalypse : by Jorge Assef: published in LC (Lacanian Compass) Express : Vol 2, Issue 7 : 25th November 2013 : Speech given before The New York Freud Lacan Analytic Group, 25th September 2013, The New School (New York, NY)

Available here  

I have found much food for thought in this analysis of contemporary symptoms of how power works. Who are today’s Zombies? Maybe the 2012 rioters? May be those entrapped by standard treatments in the Government’s risk-free provision of ‘wellbeing and health’ (HPO2001)? In other words those who do not register within these systems of power and whose individuality and subjectivity is wiped out, by decree from the Government.

The Author:

Jorge Assef, psychoanalyst and head of Cinema and Psychoanalysis at the University of Cordoba, Argentina, presented on a topic ubiquitous in current American popular culture: the zombie. The seminar focused on the zombie’s perpetuation into the hypermodern era (from “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) through to the current “World War Z” and the AMC TV series “The Walking Dead”), examining its manifestations as pandemic and apocalyptic from a psychoanalytic orientation. In light of the them of the upcoming IX Congress of the WAP, A Great Disorder in the Real, in the 21st Century, the zombie reveals that death itself has been contaminated by the laws of nature. 



I. The Hypermodern Zombie

II. The Uncanny and Hypermodernity Let us clarify two key concepts first: 1. The Uncanny 2. Hypermodernity

III. The Zombie Non-Body: A Machinery that Becomes Widespread

IV: Outside of Language, Only Biting. Pure Animality without Desire

V. The Epidemic and the Policy of Fear

VI. Salvation through Science

VII. Final Ideas

References to Sigmund Freud

Quote: In 1919, Sigmund Freud turned the German word umheimlich into a concept. Translated as “uncanny” in English, the term refers to an affect which is perceived as distressing by the subject. But what is peculiar about this word is clearly visible in the German language: unheimlich has the term “heim”, that which is familiar, intimate.

From The Uncanny: 1919h: Standard Edition: Vol 17: p217-252 or Penguin Freud Library: Vol 14 – Art and Literature: p335-374

References to Jacques Lacan

Quote: Thus, Freud states that “the signifier unheimlich has a double antithetic and paradoxical sense: it is the most familiar and the least familiar and, in this sense, it articulates with the Lacanian concept of extimacy.” Jacques Lacan returns to the notion of “the Uncanny” in his seminar Anxiety, where he works on it in relation to object a3. Footnote 3: I will quickly say that Lacan’s explanation is that the unheimlich phenomenon appears when object a —that which in the subjective operation the subject had yielded to the field of the Other, and which then remains integrated in the subject’s phantasmatic framework— returns suddenly and unexpectedly in its oral, anal, gaze or voice modalities.

Availability given : Jacques Lacan: Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962- 1963: Text in English & References or here. The exact session reference is not known.

As to the notion of “extimacy” mentioned above, it was introduced by Lacan in Seminar 7, where he said, “this central place, this intimate exteriority, this extimacy, which is the Thing”

Availability given here: Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan or here. The exact session reference is not known, though the closest JE is able to find is at the beginning of the session of 23rd December 1959: Ch VI.

Quote:  In 1975, Lacan visited the United States. In his conference at Yale he said: “What is called history is the history of epidemics.” To Lacan, the plague is what becomes established as the social discourse of a time.

Could be any one of the following:

Yale University: 24th November 1975: Conversation with Students: Jacques Lacan  or here

Yale University: 24th November 1975: ‘Kanzer Seminar’: Jacques Lacan or here

Yale University: 24th November 1975: Law School Auditorium: Jacques Lacan or here

Note: Like Miller, we might say: “This is all coherent and implies a devotion to science in the face of which even our conquering Catholicism backs off (…) such devotion to science is called scientism.” In fact, as we have already declared God dead, we have science left. Paradoxically, here lies the root of what Lacan announced as “The Triumph of Religion”.

Note: The “Triumph of Religion” comes from a press conference held in Rome on October 29th 1974, at the French Cultural Centre, when Lacan was there for a conference: See Press Conference at the French Cultural Center, Rome (The Triumph of Religion) : 29th October 1974 : Jacques Lacan or here

Quote: In ‘The Third’ Lacan states that what we see of science are its gadgets, the objects made possible by scientific research and which are then put into circulation by the market.

No known translation to English : See La Troisième : 1st November 1974 (Rome) : Jacques Lacan or here

Quote: But Lacan points out – and we can verify so – that, eventually, when science begins to show the effects of its discourse: that the natural order doesn’t exist but is contingent, when science opens that hole in the traditional sense of the knowledge about nature, the discourse of religion appears and demand “Let’s not touch the order of nature”; the discourse of religion fills with sense the hole which science opened. And that would be the triumph of religion.

Note: This is probably a further reference to ‘The Triumph of Religion”