Not if but When

by Bruno de Florence on August 11, 2011

For about 18 hours on 8th August 2011, the imaginary was short­circuited and bypassed, during which the real overpowered the symbolic. Silence on the political side, everything becomes possible for the Brothers’ bands.

These events were not riots: no overall organisation, no political demands, no specific complaints.

Random buildings set on fire, but also looting of specific shops selling specific goods: alcohol, mobile phones, TV sets and sports clothing. In the case of the looting, object a keeps functioning as a lightening rod for the drive. Nevertheless, the symbolic is in a sorry state. So much so that the British extreme right is able to occupy it.

“…to fill in something, something which cannot be resolved at the level of the

subject, at the level of unbearable anxiety, all the subject has left is to fabricate the fright of a paper tiger .” ( Lacan, Seminar XVI, 14 May 1969. My translation.). Little Hans squashes his small paper giraffe, while the prime minister deploys water cannons and rubber bullets.

The history of the Brothers’ object a has been consistently given, for a number of years, as Feral Youth, by the Other of the media. On 8th August 2011, they acted out that history.

If a signifier for jouissance is not obtainable, if imaginary knowledge does not fill in that empty place (e.g. virility), what is left is the direct influence of object a.

Just like castration, jouissance is contagious. Hence the “copy cat” effect.

When the imaginary is too busy regulating and being in control, thus occupying a Sadeian position, the real comes back with a vengeance. I find this to be clearly demonstrated in 2 dramatic works: Lindsay Anderson’s 1968 film  If , and a British TV series called  Shameless, which started in 2005.

If perversions, as symptoms of the discontent in civilisation, can no longer be acted out, or are severely restricted in their acting out, thus provoking a damned if you do/damned if you don’t effect, what can a subject do? To mix jouissance and libido together?

Related texts

On ‘Little Hans’ here