It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever.
"Money is neither a living creature nor any part of the natural world; it is an arbitrary and merely conventional human system of signs. To make it breed therefore involves the basic error of confusing nomos (custom) with phusis (nature). This is irrational, and therefore unethical. The image of usury as an unnatural birth sank deep roots in the literature on the subject. In Thomas Adams’s The White Devil (1613) usury is a teeming thing, euer with child, pregnant, and multiplying: money is an vnfruitfull thing by nature made only for commutation: it is a praeternaturall thing, it should engender money: this is monstrosus partus, a prodigious birth.
Usury is most reasonably hated because its gain comes from money itself and not from that for the sake of which money was invented. For money was brought into existence for the purpose of exchange, but interest increases the amount of money itself and this is the actual origin of the Greek word: offspring resembles parent, and interest is money born of money; consequently this form of the getting of wealth is of all forms the most contrary to nature
But perhaps the most abiding sexual similes applied to usury in this period were prostitution and pimping. Commodified sexuality seems an appropriate metaphor for usury, because it brazenly substi- tutes money for the natural telos and product of sexual intercourse." [Hawkes, Usury]
"Money circulates to the top as feces does to the bottom" was a good encapsulation of Freud in one line.
Money is the metaphysical bee, flying from goods her to goods there and contacting them fertilizing them.
Usury is like renting out bees, for which you first have to capture them.
It can be a good thing to rent out bees in honeydry lands, it can be good to extend loans against reasonable interest - the doge of Venice said a city state needs Jews more than it needs bread.
In this age we have nanobanking. This means usury to the nth degree. Usury replaces money, money replaces goods. Goods fall out of the equation.
The longer the cycle that a culture can carry to sustain-increase its being |cultivation|, the greater this culture must be and become. The current cycle of worth-establishment is 1/1000000 second. Nothing is left to coincidence, fate, earth, being, truth.
Lyssa Har Har Harr
Gender : Posts : 8965 Join date : 2012-03-01 Location : The Cockpit
Irrespective of the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] accurately captures that phenomenon<>noumenon Disconnect in how bubbles form and burst.
Jeanne Schroeder's 'Triumph of Venus' is an excellent book to understand Hegel and Lacan in a nutshell, as mirrors of each other. She is a Hegelian feminist, who basically argues for the equality that contract relations promote, as opposed to the hierarchy that gift-relations induce. Weaving in mythology [Venus, Orpheus, Midas], she relates market and desire; money and sex sociology.
While I had hoped to understand Money via Hegel/Lacan,, I ended up learning more of Hegel/Lacan via Money.
"The object of the law and the object of desire are one and the same, and remain equally concealed."
"There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and engages the affection of mankind, as the right of property. And yet there are very few, that will give themselves the trouble to consider the origin and foundation of [prop- erty]. Pleased as we are with the possession, we seem afraid to look back . . . as if fearful . . ."
"William Blackstone insisted that property, and therefore market relations, are driven by desire. This eroticism should not surprise us. Etymology tells us that money is a woman. The word “money” derives from Juno Moneta. Juno, queen of heaven, was the Roman goddess of womanhood, the personification of the feminine. Her title, “Moneta,” means “she who reminds and warns.” The word “money” reminds us that the feminine is a reminder—a warning.
Nevertheless, the erotic nature of law and markets is deeply repressed in American culture. We turn away from the primal scene of the passionate origins of markets with the same embarrassment and shame we experience when we contemplate our own origins in the parental bed. The ideal of the perfect market, like the idea of our own conception, is “real” in the Lacanian sense. To look back, to confront the real, is not merely frightening—it is deadly. And yet there is nothing we desire more. To be a subject is to be driven by desire. Subjectivity is the triumph of Venus.
Utilitarianism and romanticism are mirror images of each other. They valorize opposites but fundamentally agree. They draw diametrically opposed conclusions from a shared erroneous assumption about law and market relations.
Gift is seen as erotic and creative in contrast to the cold sterility of contract. Nevertheless, the law is notoriously suspicious of gifts, giving them less protection than contracts. In the words of one legal scholar:
The law discriminates between gifts and exchanges in odd and interesting ways. A promisee can sue to enforce an ordinary commercial promise, but not a promise to give a gift. Creditors can force a donee to disgorge gifts received from insolvent debtors, but they cannot usually force a purchaser to disgorge goods purchased from insolvent debtors. In England and the United States, dis- inherited spouses can sometimes reverse inter vivos gifts that diminish their statutory share of the estate; in civil jurisdictions, disinherited spouses and chil- dren can do this routinely. But in none of these places can disinherited relatives reverse commercial exchanges that have diminished the value of the estate.
Most notably, the formalities for an enforceable contract—offer, acceptance, consideration, and, in some circumstances, the statute of frauds—are mini- mal and flexible. In contrast, to be enforceable, gratuitous promises must frequently comply with complex formalities.
This apparent disjunction between society’s stated values and legal norms is not an aporia, but a reflection of gift’s fundamentally ambigu- ous nature. Gift may pass as the generous act of the donor, but it always also includes an implicitly aggressive moment whereby the donor achieves dom- inance over the donee. In contrast, contract, not gift, reflects the true love relationship in its most rudimentary and primitive form. Contract is hysterically erotic in the technical sense.
Moreover, contract does not necessarily repress altruism. Contract helps to establish the conditions of equality and mutuality that are necessary for the particular altruism necessary for the companionable family, as well as the general altruism necessary for the constitutional state. If gift is a necessary human relationship, it is not despite but because of its ambiguity.
The legal utilitarian, who views all human relations in terms of individual self-interest,30 analyzes gift as a primitive, incomplete, imperfect, and inferior form of contract, in the sense that both are essentially economic transactions intended to increase the utility or wealth of the donor.31 The legal system should therefore concentrate on facilitating the more complete and efficient form of contract rather than encouraging and protecting gifts.
In contrast, the romantic, who believes that human relations can and should be based on altruism, sees gift as being not merely different from, but superior to, the market regime of contract. Consequently, the law should give special solicitude to gifts and discourage or prohibit contracts concerning at least some forms of property.
Both utilitarians and romantics start from the same misconceptions of the nature of contract and commodification. They agree that contract is based on coldly rational considerations of narrow self-interest. They further agree that contract leads to the commodification of goods in the market and that commodification makes objects indistinguishable and subjects indifferent. The two schools merely disagree on valorization. The utilitarian, who champions rationality and indifference, reduces gift to contract—a form of commodification. The romantic, who cherishes intuition and difference, distin- guishes gift from contract.
In contrast, I argue that, far from being characterized solely by the cold calculation of self-interest, markets are erotic in the Hegelian-Lacanian sense that they are driven by the desire for recognition. Contract, being mutual, reflects the true love relation in which recognition is freely granted and received by equals. Gift, being unilateral, reflects the failed attempt at a forced relation between unequals, which Hegel describes in his famed lord and bondsman dialectic. In gift, recognition is demanded but not granted. Gift is not free, but imposes obligations on the donee without her consent. In other words, if the romantic is correct that gift relations are erotic, it is not the shared, voluntary eroticism of love, but a combination of the solipsistic eroticism of masturbation and the violent, forced eroticism of rape.
Consequently, the utilitarian is correct in recognizing that gift relations are driven by the self-interest of the donor and that gift imposes reciprocal obligations on the donee, but incorrect in thinking that gift can be analyzed in terms of contract. In contradistinction, the romantic is correct in recog- nizing that gift and contract are fundamentally different, but incorrect in thinking that gift relations are characterized by the altruism of the donor and the freedom of the donee.
They both assume that com- modification is the suppression of difference. In fact, it is only in contract that subjects can first recognize each other as unique, but equal, individuals. In contradistinction, although gift also establishes a degree of distinction between persons, this distinction is that of status and not individuality. Gift establishes relations of superiority and inferiority, envy and fear, not equality and love.
Gift and contract treat objects differently. In gift exchange, people develop a unique relation to individual objects, whereas in contract, objects are commodities.
Even though gift objects gain value through circulation, they have no exchange value in the modern sense in that there can be no preset standard for the return object. “The equivalence of the counter-gift is left to the giver.” Consequently, there is no express bargaining between donor and donee over the countergift and “ ‘it cannot be enforced by any kind of coercion.’
If contracts cause fungi- bility, alienation, and separation, “gifts diminish separateness.”101
Unfortunately, the romantic analysis fails for the same reasons as the utilitarian—both are theoretically inadequate and empirically inaccurate.
Contract and gift are indeed essentially different, as the romantics maintain. But it is gift that is a failure of eroticism. Gift establishes relation, but this relation is that of status, not love. Mauss’s first point is that no gift is ever given or received freely. “Exchanges and contracts take place in the form of presents; in theory these are voluntary, in reality they are given and reciprocated obligatorily.” Donors give not out of altruism but out of social obligation. “To refuse to give, to fail to invite, just as to refuse to accept, is tantamount to declaring war; it is to reject the bond of alliance and commonality. . . . One gives because one is compelled to do so. . . . ”
A potential donee cannot avoid the obligation to give a countergift by refusing a gift because gift-exchange societies also impose strict obligations on their members to accept gifts.110 Consequently, pot- latch—gift as war—is not an aberration, but rather the exemplar of archaic gift exchange. The utilitarian relies primarily on this exchange aspect of gift.
Mauss’s second point is that, although it may be a necessary aspect of archaic economies at a certain level of development, gift exchange cannot be reduced to a simple economic function. Gift exchange also serves social func- tions such as the establishment of relationships (both friendly and hostile) among and the relative status of tribal or family groups or members engaged in the exchange. Indeed, a central part of Mauss’s theory is that archaic societies have not yet distinguished the economic realm from other aspects of social intercourse. Consequently, gifts in general, and gift exchange in particular, can be explained neither in terms of gratuitous or personal relations nor in terms of the market. They are a hybrid. They are “at the same time juridical, economic, religious, and even aesthetic and morphological, etc.” The romantic relies primarily on this relational aspect of gift.
In fact, these errors may more accurately be seen as different aspects of one common error: the application of modern liberal assumptions about the free, atomistic nature of man to people and institutions in archaic societies.
Gift exchange is selfish, as the utilitarian presupposes. But archaic man does not define himself as a separate, atomistic individual. Rather, being bound in complex webs of family, clan, and tribe, he is defined by others in terms of status. As Mauss states, “It is not individuals but collectivities that impose obligations of exchange and contract upon each other.” That is, archaic gift exchange relates to the individual’s familial, social, political, and religious position, as well as his economic standing, in the society. In archaic societies, therefore, the greatest benefits do not take the form of things or services to be consumed by the individual and his children, but rather relate to one’s position. Archaic gift exchange is a strategy whereby participants seek to increase their prestige and debase their enemies within a given static hierarchy.
The utilitarian point of view also displays a fundamental misunderstanding of reciprocity, as first elaborated by Mauss. The utilitarian infers from the fact that there is an obligation to return a gift that the returned gift is equiv- alent to the original gift, and that the gift exchange is a form of pseudocon- tract characterized by mutuality. This interpretation is perhaps not surprising among economists and lawyers.
According to Mauss, archaic peoples enter into gift exchange as a customary way of establishing and maintaining certain ritualized relationships and status with respect to other tribes, clans, and individuals.
The purpose of gift exchange is, as Mauss hypothesized, the creation of status and hierarchy. A donor institutes a gift relationship to increase his prestige in two ways. The fact that he gives establishes his reputation as a wealthy and generous man, brave and crafty enough to risk the competition of gift. As Mauss says in connection with potlatch, “To give is to show one’s superiority, to be more, to be higher in rank. . . . ” The position of the donee is ambiguous at this point. To the extent that he receives a particularly prestigious object as a gift, his status is enhanced. To the extent that he is viewed as the passive recipient of the generosity of another, it is diminished.
This hypothesis is further supported by the aspect of potlatch that seems most peculiar to Western eyes—the destruction of “gifts.” This practice supports the hypothesis that the purpose of potlatch was neither the exchange of useful goods nor altruism, but rather the increase of the donor’s prestige and the abasement of the donee. In potlatch the donor had the option of destroying the gift objects rather than actually conveying them to the donee. This is perceived of as a “gift” because the “donor” ostensibly sacrificed the objects to the spirits for the sake of the donee. The “donee” is then put in the unenviable position of having to return an even greater gift even though he received nothing material. Obviously, the destructive potlatch is an extremely effective way for the potlatcher to demonstrate his great wealth without also enriching his rival:
"The greatest potlatchers of all are those who not only give fantastic amounts, making it well-nigh impossible for their rivals to repay in a future potlatch at the appropriate interest, but who also demonstrate how rich and magnificent they are by actually destroying their most valued items: canoes, coppers, blankets, even stocks of fish grease and oil. The destruction of property is the most dramatic and characteristic feature of the potlatch." [Mauss]
In the Trobriand Archipelago, it is the custom for maternal uncles to maintain ritual gardens in order to give gifts of yams to their sisters’ children. This looks, of course, like an arrangement whereby the children are provided with food—an important economic necessity in a subsistence economy. In fact, the avuncular yams used in this ritual are virtually inedible and have little nutritional value. The gifted yams are frequently piled up outside the family’s house and ostentatiously left to rot, apparently as a symbol of the family’s wealth. The yams only exist for the sake of gift and the resulting creation of prestige.
Archaic gift objects are not merely primitive forms of money. Rather, the objects are symbols of the exchange, reflecting the prestige of previous winners of the exchange game. In kula the highest ranking shells, as determined by their genealogy of ownership, are even given individual names. Each time the object is exchanged it becomes more valuable. It increases more if it passes through the hands of a higher status participant rather than a lower status one. Conversely, one gains prestige by becoming the recipient of a valuable (high status) shell rather than a lower one.
As Mauss explains, gift exchange is a complex web of relations. The objects exchanged “are living beings”; they bear the spirits of the persons engaged in the exchange relation. “Each one of these precious things possesses, moreover, productive power itself.” In the Maussian view, “[a] gift that does nothing to enhance solidarity is a contradiction.”
In Hegelian philosophy, the essence of human nature is radical freedom and rationality, as in classical liberal philosophy. To the Hegelian, however, this freedom can never become actual in the lonely, atomistic state of nature posited by liberalism. Freedom is actualized only in human relationships, as the romantic understands. Being rational, humans seek to maximize what they desire—just as utilitarians predict. However, because humans rationally seek to actualize their essential freedom, what they desire is human relationship. To Hegel, rationality does not lead to cold, calculating behavior, as the utilitarian and the romantic implicitly assume. The actualization of rationality is eroticism—the passionate, unquenchable desire for the desire of the Other. Contract, in which two parities recognize each other as the bearers of legal rights, is a moment in mankind’s struggle for the actualization of freedom. Contract is therefore a form of eroticism, albeit a primitive and imperfect one.
Contract enables us to recognize each other as unique individual subjects, creating relations of equality. Gift tends to produce a dif- ferentiation of type; it creates hierarchical relations of status.
In order for gift to be effective, it is necessary that the donee not retain the gift. The gift must be kept “in circulation” by one means or another. The actual object of the gift must either be further gifted to another person, increasing the circle of relationships, or consumed or destroyed. Like Posner, Hyde seeks empirical support for his theory in archaic gift-exchange institutions. According to Hyde, gifts are dynamic and contract is static. “A market exchange has an equilibrium or stasis: you pay to balance the scale. But when you give a gift there is momentum, and the weight shifts from body to body.”
Reciprocity is an essential aspect of gift. Gift creates an obligation on the part of the donee to respond in kind, thereby establishing a continued relationship between donor and donee. The reciprocity of gift differs from contractual exchange in that the former is relational, whereas the latter is obligatory." [Jeanne Schroeder, The Triumph of Venus: The erotics of the market philosophy, social theory and the rule of law]
"To Hegel, each abstract person (i.e., the individual in the state of nature posited by Enlightenment political philosophy) seeks to actualize his potential freedom through recognition by others. Although Hegel does not use the term, in Lacanian psychoanalysis this desire to understand oneself through recognition is eroticism generally and hysteria specifically. We desire things derivatively as a means of achieving our true desire—the desire of the Other. When we repress this derivative aspect of our desire for objects, we treat them as substitutes for our true object of desire.
Hegel adopted the liberal Kantian conception of freedom as radical negativity—the total absence of constraints. This abstract concept becomes concrete in social relations. Hegel posited that the abstract person can only achieve legal subjectivity (and therefore more complex stages of personality) by being recognized as a subject by a person whom one in turn recognizes as a subject. We are, therefore, driven to help others fulfill and exceed their highest potential, in the hope that once they do so they will then turn around and recognize us as their equals. That is, man’s desire is the desire of the Other in both senses of the expression— we want to have the other but, more importantly, we want the other to desire (recognize) us.
In our search for recognition we create legal and other rights, not to claim them for ourselves but in order to bestow them on others in order to increase their dignity. The regime of abstract right—property, contract, and market relations—is the simplest and most primitive manifestation of this dialectic of desire.
As freedom is the essence of personality, the abstract person rationally seeks to actualize her freedom. Freedom can be actualized through inter-subjective relationship. The abstract person, therefore, actively seeks to be recognized by another person: she desires to be desired by another.
The proposition that rights can only be actualized through relations with and recognition by others causes another contradiction. The liberal purely autonomous person is not recognizable. Kant showed that to be truly, radically free, the atomistic individual must be totally abstract, lacking all pathological characteristics. Freedom requires that one’s actions not be compelled, but freely chosen. Pure freedom is therefore arbitrary. If one’s actions are compelled by heteronomy or to fulfill a need, one is not truly free.
The abstract person in the state of nature has only her potential freedom—her negativity. Lacking individuating pathological characteristics, each abstract person is identical to every other and therefore unrecognizable. To be recognized by other subjects and have interrelationships, therefore, persons must form object relations (i.e., take on specific recognizable characteristics). To Hegel, the regime of abstract right—property, contract, and the capitalist market—is the most primitive form of interrelationship from a logical standpoint.
The most rewarding recognition is, of course, recognition by the most noble. The admiration of the base, the vulgar, and the servile is less than worthless and is to be despised. We therefore wish to make ourselves worthy in the eyes of those individuals we consider worthy. The goal of recognition therefore requires that we find worthy others in our world.198
This reveals yet another side of this contradiction of abstract personality. The abstract personality seeks to be recognized by a person she recognizes as worthy (i.e., someone whose opinion counts). But, in the state of nature, not only the person seeking recognition, but all persons lack distinguishing (pathological) characteristics. Consequently, Hegel argued that no abstract person can merely search for preexisting worthy others. She must go out and affirmatively help others to achieve worth and nobility. She cannot merely seek to be recognizable herself. She must learn to recognize others.
The Hegelian dialectic of right is, therefore, a primitive form of the rela- tionship that Lacan calls love. According to Lacan’s understanding of love, the lover sees in his beloved more than she is. When love is requited, the beloved finds that she must live up to her lover’s expectations and achieves the ability to give back more than she had. She thereby turns the lover into a beloved, making him into more than he once was. Similarly, in the dialec- tic of abstract right, the abstract person grants to another person rights that the second person did not originally have, i.e., he recognizes her as a legal subject. If this person responds, she in turn will recognize that the first person should also be entitled to the same rights, thereby making him into a subject. The moment of the creation of abstract right (law) is the moment of the creation of subjectivity—law and subjectivity are mutually constituted.
In other words, right and love are forms of alchemy whereby persons intersubjectively recreate each other out of nothing. The person engaged in the dialectic of right feels herself inexorably driven in the same way as the lover. This is a paradox. Although both rights and love must be free (by defi- nition that which is imposed is neither a right nor love), they are experi- enced by the abstract person and the lover as inexorable. One can no more refuse the desire to actualize one’s freedom than one can prevent oneself from falling in love. Love requires choice, but it is love that chooses us.
Doesn’t the recognition that satisfies the Hegelian ideal need to be simultaneous? How does one leap from the not-yet-recognizable of abstract personhood to the always-already-recognized of subjectivity? How can love be the actualization of freedom when nothing binds our hearts more securely than the chains of love? The Hegelian-Lacanian analysis is not merely aware of this “impossibility” and “imperfection.” Rather, they are posited as fundamental aspects, not only of Hegelian and Lacanian theory, but of the human condition and, indeed, the universe. The dialectic functions, not despite, but just because of its necessary imperfection.
Hegel famously stated that the subsumption of marriage under the concept of contract “can only be described as disgraceful.” Hegel, The Philosophy of Right, supra note 21, at 105.
Hegel locates marriage within the regime of Sittlicheit (ethical life), which is much more highly developed than the regime of abstract right, in which contract is located. Of course, it is incorrect to reduce the complex relationships of ethics to the simplistic ones of abstract rights. I am certainly not proposing that romantic and marital love are identical to legal contract, but am merely asserting that contract is an extremely prim- itive form of eroticism that takes a more complex form in other relationships.
Hegel’s theory of the function of property anticipates Lacan’s understanding of human nature. Indeed, Hegel’s dialectic of right is hysterical in the technical sense that Lacan gave the term. Hysteria is not, however, an aberration. It is the very form of human desire. According to Lacan, the desire of the hysteric is the desire of the Other. The multiple, ambiguous meanings of this expression are the same in the original French as they are in English. The hysteric desires the Other, he desires to be desired by the Other, and his desire is imposed upon him by the Other. The hysteric’s very consciousness depends on recognition by others.
To reiterate, Hegel posited that whatever is potential must be actualized. This is one of the meanings of his famous slogan: “What is rational is actual; and what is actual is rational.” If human freedom is only potential in the state of nature, logic dictates that this freedom be made actual. Because the necessity that human freedom be actualized is logical and because persons are essentially rational creatures, we are rationally driven to engage in this dialectic of recognition and right.
Economists have accustomed us to speak of markets in terms of “rationality.” The Hegelian analysis agrees on the rational and logical nature of the dialectic of right, and therefore markets. But it also reveals it to be essentially erotic—driven by unquenchable desire. Hegel disagreed with the assumed irresolvable dichotomy between reason and passion that is accepted by both utilitarians and romantics. In contrast, Hegel believed that the two are necessarily and inextricably linked—each generates and requires the other.
To put it another way, rationality is the potentiality of desire, and desire is the actuality of rationality. “The concretely rational human [being’s] . . . rationality is essentially expressed in and through passion. . . . ” The abstract person does not merely prefer to enter market relations and become a subject. Rather, she feels inexorably compelled to do so by the very logic of person- hood. This follows from the proposition that freedom, which is the essence of human nature, is only potential in the state of nature and can be actualized only through human relations in subjectivity.
According to Hegel, one can only retroactively determine what was potential once we consider what has in fact become actual. The logical proposition that man is essen- tially free can therefore only be proved by establishing the actual freedom of empirical human beings. Hegel thought that the rights citizens were obtaining in the new liberal constitutional and early capitalist economies of the early nineteenth century were evidence of the truth of his political philosophy.
To put this another way, the abstract person seeks confirmation of her freedom. In the state of nature, her freedom is merely potential. She can only confirm the potentiality of freedom retroactively, after she has actualized it.
Because love requires mutuality and equality, unilateral unrequited love is only potential love. At best, in its solipsistic form, it is sterile, lonely autoeroticism. At worst, in its aggressive form, it is destructive, violent rape. Potential love is not actualized until the consummation of the union whereby lover and beloved exchange places. If one can only retroactively determine what was truly potential after it is actualized, then failed attempts at love that do not achieve consummation are eventually, and sadly, revealed as no love at all.
Persons must, therefore, develop a system that embodies at least a fleet- ing moment of mutuality and equality—a meeting of minds. For the dialectic to work, neither party can dominate the other. Because the purpose of recognition is the actualization of freedom, the meeting of minds must be such that it does not impinge upon either party’s freedom. To be free is to be one’s own end and not the means to the ends of another. Consequently, the meeting of minds cannot directly define or constrain either party’s per- sonhood because that would treat that party as the means to an end, deny- ing the freedom of that person. Rather, an external third, an object, must be found as a means of mediating between the two parties.
From the standpoint of philosophy (as well as in law), the concept of “object” cannot be limited to physical things, but rather includes intangibles and even personal characteristics, such as our body and personality. In order to become recognizable, there- fore, one must form object relations. The primitive object relations of abstract right are called “property” and “contract.”
Possession is, instead, the more general concept of identifying an object to a specific person. This serves the function of individuating the owning person—making her potentially recognizable. Enjoyment is the owner’s assertion of her mas- tery over the object owned. It is an expression of the owner’s freedom that distinguishes the owner from the owned object and therefore establishes the owner not merely as a recognizable thing, but as a recognizable person. Consequently, possession and enjoyment establish the conditions of recognizability. Standing alone, however, possession and enjoyment are inadequate. Through the final element of alienation (contract exchange), the potentiality of recognition is actualized and interrelations are consummated.
Possession—the assignment of a specific object to a specific subject—is implicitly intersub- jective because assigning an object to one subject is necessarily not to assign it to others. But this means the relation between the owning subject and the non-owning subject is the negative relation of exclusion. Enjoyment is also implicitly intersubjective, not merely because one’s enjoyment of one’s object often necessarily precludes another rival subject from enjoying the same object, but also because one subject’s enjoyment of her object often necessarily interferes with the ability of another subject to enjoy his object. A classic example is the environmental nuisance in which a factory owner’s ability to enjoy his factory in production interferes with a neighboring consumer’s ability to drink her water. Consequently, the relation of enjoyment is once again negative—it is exclusion plus interference.
Because possession and enjoyment are negatively intersubjective, they threaten to become solipsistic—they exclude all others. Solipsism is the opposite of the desired goal of mutual recognition. Only recognition by a self-certain end-unto-itself (i.e., another subject) can provide lasting confir- mation that freedom is actual. Moreover, in possession and enjoyment, the subject depends on the object for her self-confirmation, and therefore risks becoming dependent on the object in the same way that an addict is dependent on her drug. As dependency is the opposite of freedom, this not only defeats the purpose of property; it also betrays human nature.
The person therefore needs to find a way of disencumbering herself from any specific object while still maintaining the object relations necessary for recognizability. The logic of property suggests that the vast majority of objects should be alienable by the owners. Hegel discussed three possible modes of alienation: abandonment, gift, and contract. Abandonment, which destroys any relationship between the owner and the object, is inadequate for the goal of recognizability.
Subjectivity—the capability of being a legal actor—is constituted by mutual recognition. This occurs in the bilateral relationship of contract. Contract is therefore the minimum condition of law. Gift, in contrast, is a failed, one-sided attempt at recognition that falls short of abstract right. Gift is therefore only quasi-legal in nature. This may explain why contemporary American law only grudgingly gives limited recognition to gratuitous promises.
To reiterate, in order for the abstract person to achieve her goal of obtaining subjectivity, she must help others achieve their subjectivity. The circularity of this is obvious. For this fiction to work, neither party can go first. The two parties must simultaneously recognize each other so that the very moment of recognition is the mutually constitutive moment of intersubjec- tivity. The necessity of simultaneity means that a successful recognition that creates subjectivity must have a moment of mutuality and equality.
Accordingly, Hegel argues that the object-relations of property, contract, and market serve two functions. First, as we have already discussed, they make abstract persons recognizable. Second, they also serve as mediators— means by which persons can achieve their ends and be recognized by others while remaining free, neither dominating nor being dominated by the other. Property sets us apart so that we can come together.
The fact that the party is willing to exchange her object demonstrates to the other party that the first party is not dependent on that specific object but remains a free person.224 The fact that each person obtains a new object in the exchange means that each party will remain recognizable as a person after the trans- action is finished. Because contract is a voluntary transaction, both parties’ actions must have a moment of freedom and mutuality. Because each party agrees that she is obtaining an object that is the equivalent of the object she is giving up, each party perceives the relationship as one of equality.
In other words, at the moment of the meeting of minds in contract, neither party is subject to the will of the other. Rather, they are for a fleeting sec- ond joined in a common will. For a brief shining moment, each party rec- ognizes the other as a free, equal legal subject, and therefore achieves her goal of becoming a subject. It is a moment of love. No doubt this is why the consummation of the deal is traditionally symbolized by the physical union of the two negotiators in the joining of hands—a gesture reminiscent of the more complete joining of lovers.
This is not to imply that, in an empirical sense, all contracts are perfectly mutual, lacking in domination, or characterized by total equality and meet- ing of minds. Even from a theoretical viewpoint, in order for contract to be successful it must simultaneously contain the seed of its own failure. If the parties to a contract truly merged in a perfect meeting of minds, they would become indistinguishable and unrecognizable. If the objects exchanged in contract were perfectly equivalent, exchange would never occur. For the mutuality of contract to occur, each party must, paradoxically at some level, think that she is getting the better deal, and therefore exploiting the other party.
This is a contradiction. But, in Hegel’s philosophy, contradiction is a necessary and inevitable aspect of reality. Moreover, as contradiction is unstable, it is the engine of movement and change in the system. Contradiction is the pain or lack that creates desire. Without contradiction, not only would no exchange occur; the universe would be totally static.228 This world of no contradiction is, of course, the deathly order that Lacan called the “real,”
The myth of Pandora teaches us that we can obtain hope only by first accepting the ills of this world. Similarly, it is only the existence of imperfection, impossibility, and loss that makes desire not only necessary but also possible. The negativity that characterized the abstract person posited by Kant and Hegel continues in all human relations—including contract. But this space between and within people is the condition precedent of freedom in that it gives us the space to move and create. It is precisely because human relations are always to some extent unsuccessful, no one is ever satisfied, and everyone desires greater love and recognition that we are driven continuously to engage in new relations. This understanding of the radical negativity of freedom reflects the Lacanian concept of the “feminine.”
Consequently, it is essential to the Lacanian-Hegelian system that not all aspects of human relationality can be circumscribed within the symbolic order of law.
Like all sexual relations, contract is always a partial failure—the rela- tionship of intersubjectivity is always mediated by objectivity; we externalize and feel alienated from a part of our essential nature. But contract is also always a partial success—it enables us to create our subjectivity as inter-subjectivity, albeit mediated by objectivity. True, the Lacanian subject is split, negative, and empty, and the erotic relation is a failed encounter. But the erotic encounter is a failure only if one envisions success as the obliteration of all difference and the achievement of immediate relationship or merger with the other. In Lacanian terms, this would be an impossible reversal of “castration” and reabsorption into the order he called the “real.” Such a reabsorption is the destruction not only of subjectivity, but also of the possibility of freedom, which is man’s essence. Consequently, the negativity that remains at the heart of subjectivity is the necessary feminine moment of rad- ical freedom. The separation and distinction between subjects that remains after contract is, therefore, the distinction of individuality. Individuality enables us not only to love but also to actualize the freedom that is our poten- tial. The “failure” of contract is therefore creative and dynamic.
Gift is a wholly different form of failure. In contradistinction to the romantic position, therefore, the distinction and recognition created by gift is not the individuality that allows for the unique and creative relation of love. Rather, it is the distinction of status—the static, oppressive relation of dom- ination and subordination. If contract is the mutual eroticism of inter- course, gift is autoeroticism—masturbation or rape. If market relations are the characteristic economic activity of modern liberal constitutional states that to some extent or another organized around rights and the individual, it is also true that “gift exchange” is the characteristic economic activity of “archaic” traditional, hierarchical societies that are based on status and clan. In other words, gifts are a failed attempt to achieve the mutual, equal recog- nition of abstract right (law). Consequently, there is a moment of truth in the utilitarian position that law cannot adequately account for gift.
In gift, however, the donor treats the donee as a means to the donor’s own end—he gives a gift in order to be recognized. He demands recognition from the donee. In contradistinction, in contract one party makes an offer to another and the transaction does not proceed unless and until the two parties come to mutual agreement. Mutual agreement indicates that each party has determined that the contract will serve her own ends.
”The lord seeks to achieve the truth of his own independent self-consciousness through recognition, but the only truth he confronts is the “servile consciousness of the bondsman.”
The nature of the lord becomes the reverse of his claim. He seeks to experience himself as essentially free, but it is he who is dependent on the slave. This is because it is only through the slave’s recognition that the lord can achieve self-understanding—he is only a master insofar as the slave bows before him. The lord now knows himself only as the reflection of slavery. Ironically, it is the lord’s claim of nobility that debases him. Forced recognition, therefore, has the opposite effect from free recognition—it turns freedom into dependence.
Similarly, in gift, the donor seeks his own self-understanding as a free, generous, loving person by imposing himself on the donee. If the donee, like the slave, fails to resist but surrenders to the wishes of the donor, she subordi- nates herself to the donor’s desire. The donor objectifies the donee by treating her as the means to his ends, in the same way as the lord objectified the bondsman. The donor “enjoys” the donee in the same way the lord “enjoys” a slave. The donee-bondsman is not granted the subjectivity that would allow her desire to be recognized. The donee, as a means to the donor’s ends, is literally the object of the donor’s desire in both the colloquial and the technical Hegelian-Lacanian senses of the term. The gift relationship can be seen as erotic in the sense that it involves desire and enjoyment. But it is one-sided and autoerotic, as the donor-lord is only concerned with his own desire and enjoyment. Gift is not, therefore, social intercourse, but rather masturbation. Worse, because the donor exploits the donee as his masturbatory object, it is a form of rape.
As Mauss concluded, "The unreciprocated gift still makes the person who has accepted it inferior, particularly when it has been accepted with no thought of returning it."
Both the romantic and the utilitarian think that markets lead to commodification and commodification is the suppression of difference. The romantic fears this vision as a perversion of human freedom, while the utilitarian embraces it as the fulfillment of human freedom." [Jeanne Schroeder, The Triumph of Venus]
"Eros and Thanatos are the masculine and feminine versions of the desire to achieve “the feminine” and the real: the former is the longing to have her, the latter the longing to be her. The real stands for the dream of perfection, of perfect, immediate sexual relations beyond all alienating distinctions of time, space, and personality. The real, being perfect, is not mere death; it is a death that is beyond death—Nirvana, oblivion. Castration is the cut that forever walls off the real from the symbolic. The resulting gap between the real and the symbolic creates desire and thereby allows freedom, subjectivity, and the intersubjectivity of sexual relations to function. Our fantasies in the imaginary order are the vain attempt to cross this gap.
We desire connection and immediate relationship. We therefore hypothesize that the reason we desire connection and immediate relationship is because we once experienced it (or had the inherent capacity for it). Because we once had this capacity, we hypothesize that it must have been taken away from us. Someone or something is keeping us from immediate relationship. That which keeps us from immediacy is, of course, mediation. The mediator of relationship—that which enables us to be separated—is the symbolic order. The romantic, therefore, concludes that it is the symbolic order—law in the sense of abstract right and the market—that is the cause of our separation. We have been castrated and violated by the market, which denies our claim to subjectivity and threatens to turn us into objects through commodification.
The Lacanian autobiography is, of course, fictional. We were never one with the universe—even in the womb we were separated from our mother by the placenta. The infant did not even become a human subject capable of imagining and desiring such perfection until he was initiated into the sym- bolic—law, language, and sexuality. It is precisely the feeling of alienation caused by the mediated relationship of language and law that enables us retroactively to imagine and desire the ideal of perfect, immediate relationality. The ability to desire is not, therefore, created by the loss of immediate relationship. Rather, it is the existence of mediation that enables us to imag- ine what immediate relationship might be, and therefore to desire it. In other words, we imagine that immediate relationship is something we once had—the always-already-lost—when, in fact, it is an ideal or aspiration—the not-yet-found.
The ideal of immediacy is in the order of consciousness that Lacan calls the “real.” It is a common misconception that Lacan thought that the real was that which was left behind, or lost, when we entered the symbolic order (i.e., when we learned to speak, took on sexual identity, and became the sub- ject of legal relations). This hypothesis only replicates the subject’s auto- biography, which Lacan insists is fictional. Rather, Lacan insists that the three orders of the symbolic, imaginary, and the real are created simultane- ously. The real is our sense that there is something that cannot be captured in words or images—such as God, death, the physical world, and perfect, immediate relationships—which we only retroactively believe must exist because we experience the limits of language and imagery.
The romantic vision of gift and contract is fictional. It is not contract that prevents us from achieving more complete and satisfying relationships. It is precisely the imperfection of contract that enables us to want more complete and satisfying relationships.
The desire of the perfect market is Thanatos—the desire for escape into total oblivion. Actual markets, in contrast, are within the sym- bolic order, which includes such human creations as law, speech, and sexu- ality. Coase’s concept of “transaction costs” serves the same function in eco- nomics as castration serves in psychoanalysis. Transaction costs are the cut that forever walls off the real of the perfect market from the symbolic of the actual market. The resulting gap between perfect and actual markets creates desire and thereby allows freedom, subjectivity, and the intersubjectivity of market relations to function.
The law-and-economics movement is located in the imaginary order. It neither concerns itself with actual markets in the symbolic nor directly con- fronts its ideal of the perfect market in the real. Rather, law-and-economics erects a fantasy structure in a vain attempt to bridge the impossible gap between the symbolic and real orders.
Lacan insisted that psychic subjectivity can be achieved only through recognition by others. In sexuality, abstract persons seek subjec- tivity through mutual recognition in a regime of possession, enjoyment, and exchange of an object of desire—the “phallus.” This necessity for media- tion is one of the meanings of Lacan’s famous slogan: There are no [direct and unmediated] sexual relationships.
In other words, although Hegel and Lacan might seem like radically different thinkers at first blush, closer examination shows that their theories are linked by the recognition that subjectivity is intersubjectivity mediated by objectivity. They agree that the freedom at the center of human subjectivity is radical negativity. Hegel emphasizes the comic side of this dialectic. In comedy, conflicts are resolved in a happy ending (traditionally including the marriage of one or more pairs of the protagonists). The Hegelian dialectic shows how the contradictions of the abstract person in the state of nature are contingently resolved in social relations, including the market and the family. Moreover, the negativity at the center of the human soul is seen optimistically as the absence of constraints that makes freedom possible, and the space that permits growth and creativity.
Lacan, on the other hand, emphasizes the tragic side of this dialectic. In tragedy, conflicts prove to be irresolvable and result in the death of one or more of the protagonists. The negativity or “split” that lies at the center of our psyche is seen pessimistically. If Hegel emphasizes that relationships occur, Lacan emphasizes that these relationships are always imperfect and medi- ated, desire is always postponed, and man is in a constant state of yearning.
Despite its ostensible optimism, however, Hegelian analysis never loses sight of negativity.
The contradictions of personality cannot be permanently resolved. The dialectic of desire ultimately can only be solved by death. Eros can only be postponed so long. Postponement eventually turns into procrastination. The ethics of psychoanalysis demand that we never give ground with respect to our desire. And so we must eventually give way to Thanatos.
The Hegelian analysis of property as intersubjective relations mediated by object relations prefigures perhaps the greatest insight of late Lacanian thought: even though personality is created through the intersubjective relationships of the symbolic (language, law, and sexuality), we experience ourselves in terms of a hypothesized lost object of desire. Subjectivity as intersubjectivity is mediated by objectivity, in the sense that the subjects claim to possess and exchange or identify with and enjoy the object of desire. In other words, object relations take the place of intersubjective relations. Because the true object of desire—the phallus— is lost in the real, we try to find other objects that might be obtainable in the symbolic and the imaginary to take its place. In other words, we try to make object relations that seem possible stand in for impossible intersubjective relations. This leads to the concept of the objet petit a.
Although subjectivity (which can only be created through recognition in intersubjective relations) is created in the symbolic, human beings are not satisfied with the symbolic. The symbolic is, by definition, not only artificial but incomplete. We long for the impossible wholeness of the real. In an attempt to achieve that which cannot be achieved in the symbolic, we turn to the imaginary. In the imaginary, we erect seemingly attainable fantasy images to stand in for our true object of desire. These fantasy objects of desire—objets petit a—are invented retroactively to serve as the cause of our desire. The term objet petit a means that this object should be spelled with an “a” because it sits in the place of the other (autre), which is our true desire. In truth, we desire because we do not feel whole and the hypothe- sized object that would satisfy our desire does not exist. To realize this would be the feminine acceptance of castration. In order for our masculine selves to avoid this, we pretend that what we really desire is some identifiable actual object.
We lie to ourselves: if I could just (fill in the blank—possess that beautiful woman’s body; have a man’s organ or, lacking that, his baby; make partner, get tenure, get a job at a more prestigious law school or firm, etc.,), I would be happy. Any “object” can take on this role. The objet petit a can be a con- ventionally pleasurable object, such as a woman’s body (or a part object such as her breasts), or Proust’s madeleine, but it can just as easily be a completely abstract concept, such as the voice or the gaze. The point is that this external “object” serves as an explanation for our feelings. One result of this operation is the conflation of the psychic desire for recognition with the biological urge to mate. It is these fantasy identifications that create sexuality and enable markets to operate." [Jeanne Schroeder, The Triumph of Venus]
"The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice reflects the Lacanian concept of Eros. Eros is the masculine form of desire—an attempt to fill the emptiness that is the center of human experience by fantasizing a perfect, immediate sexual relationship. This fantasy or “imaginary” dream of “femininity” is erected to take the place of the “real” concept of “the feminine.” Sustaining the fan- tasy allows us to act and create. But the moment we confront the reality that lies beneath the fantasy of femininity, we find nothing there. This leaves us more bereft than before and more in need of fantasy. If we give in to the mas- culine desire of Eros and look back at the lost feminine, we lose her. We can only keep her by not having her. This is because the feminine is, in fact, the radical negativity of “the real,” which is the heart and soul of human freedom and subjectivity. Any attempt to give the feminine positive content is a masculine fantasy—a vain attempt to have and to hold that which, by definition, can be neither captured nor tamed.
Eros always threatens to turn into its feminine twin, Thanatos, the death wish. Thanatos is the realization that Eros is always unsuccessful and the only way to achieve wholeness is by regressing to the time before loss. If Eros is the fantasy that one can capture the feminine, Thanatos is the desire to merge back into, and thereby become, the feminine. But the feminine is “Eurydice twice lost.” She is our sense that there is something which we have always-already-lost and have not-yet-found. She is yesterday and tomorrow, but never today. As Lacan said, Woman—that is, the feminine per se—does not exist. She was and shall be, but never is. To merge with her now is to achieve oblivion.
And so Orpheus’s desire evolved from Eros to Thanatos. He continued to mourn his fantasy image of Eurydice and to dream of joining with the feminine until his desire was fulfilled, but not in a way he expected. He poured his grief into songs in memories of his lost love, and avoided all actual female contact. One day, however, when wandering in the countryside, he encountered a band of Maenads—female worshipers of Dionysus, god of ecstasy, who expressed their devotion in orgiastic, and often violent, revels. Their frenzy reflects feminine jouissance, or enjoyment: the momentary achievement of the impossible fulfillment of Thanatos—union with the feminine in the sense of perfect wholeness, the breakdown of the subject-object distinc- tion, the achievement of the Lacanian “real.” The Maenads demanded that Orpheus join in their worship. When he hesitated, they tore Orpheus limb from limb in their divine jouissance. As Lacan predicted, the masculine claim to personality could not survive an encounter with the feminine. To give way to one’s desire is to lose everything.
There are three orders of the psyche: the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic. The symbolic is the cultural order of law and language, of signification and sexuality. The imaginary is the realm of imagery, fantasy, meaning, and complementarity. The real is our intuition that there is something beyond or prior to the other two. The real is not the same as the natural world. The real is as much an aspect of human consciousness as the symbolic and the imaginary; it is that part of our thoughts that cannot be expressed in words or depicted in images. Yet for many purposes it func- tions as though it were the natural world. This is because the real includes our sense that there is a natural world external to our thoughts and dreams, something more permanent than our pathetic, fleeting human lives. The real, however, also includes such concepts as death, the thing-in-itself, God (in the sense of Geist, or the Absolute), and everything else that is beyond ourselves. It is reminiscent of Kant’s concept of “the sublime.”
The real is therefore the impossible—not just in the sense that it is impossible for us to have direct access to the real in our conscious minds, but also because it necessarily includes logical paradoxes that are beyond ordinary intuitions of what is possible.
We experience the real as though it were something we had lost. It functions as the “hard kernel” of reality that was left behind when we entered the orders of imagery and speech. This is not really true, however. The real is created simultaneously with the imaginary and the symbolic through castration.
The proposition that subjectivity can only be achieved through the social (i.e., through law and language) creates a paradox. That which is most ourselves—our subjectivity, our freedom, our speech, our sexuality—is simultaneously that which is not ourselves, in the sense that it comes to us from the outside. When understood in this sense, the symbolic order takes on the role known as the Other. As we mature and are initiated into language and law, and achieve sexuality, we experience the sense that we have lost something that we can no longer explain in words or images. Not only our subjectivity but the relations with others that create our subjectivity are mediated. We feel castrated not merely because our subjectivity is dependent on others, but because we can never have a perfectly satisfying relationship with the others on whom we depend. Immediacy is therefore in the real. As a result, perfect, immediate relationships are not just an ideal; they are our desire.
To put this yet another way, to describe or picture our experiences is to interpret them. Consequently, in our capacity as conscious subjects we never have direct access to our experiences. To give an example, when we are hav- ing a physical sensation such as pain, we are not yet conscious of the fact— we just feel it. Charles Sanders Peirce called this pure unmediated quality “firstness.” Firstness can be thought of as the purely reflexive reaction of recoiling, and perhaps letting out an inarticulate screech. The moment we realize that we are experiencing pain, however, we are already interpreting it in the orders of the imaginary and the symbolic. The simplest interpreta- tion—the imaginary—is the awareness of oneself and one’s pain. Peirce called this simple negation or opposition “secondness.” Secondness is the simple realization, “That hurts!” In the symbolic, we are aware of ourselves, our pain, and our understanding of the pain—what Peirce calls “thirdness.” Thirdness is being able to say to another, “I am in pain.” In other words, when we picture our experience (the imaginary) or try to explain it (the symbolic), we lose the immediacy of the experience. We either anticipate or dread it in the future, or remember or mourn it in the past. Our direct, immediate experience now seems to be exiled into the real beyond imagination and discourse. Once again, our true self seems divorced from our understanding of ourself. We seem to have lost something—immediacy.
Lacan calls this operation “castration” because we feel not merely that our wholeness is lost, but also that this loss has been imposed upon us by something outside of us. We feel (incorrectly) that we must have once been whole and inviolate, that there was once an object, which is now lost because “someone” has taken it away. This hypothesized object, which we feel must have been lost in castration, Lacan calls the “phallus.” This intentionally confusing and apparently mas- culinist terminology is designed to reflect the conflation of anatomy and psy- che in our misogynist society. The phallus has no affirmative content. We feel lack, and the phallus is that which would eliminate the lack. It is the lack of lack, and as such it does not exist. It is the radical negativity of the femi- nine and the real.
From the fact that we were not aware of our separation from our mothers until we entered the imaginary and the symbolic, we retroduce the false hypothesis that we must in fact have been one with our mothers prior to that time. As a result, we feel that the phallus (the wholeness that was lost through castration) must have been unity with the ideal of the feminine. This is why this ideal of the feminine is sometimes known as the all-powerful Phallic Mother. The feminine as the Phallic Mother is, therefore, that which is located in the real.
Consequently, when we engage in actual market relations, we often repress our true desire for market relations and act as though we desired the objects of market relations as such. We imagine that our intersub- jective relations are the means to the end of object relations, rather than the other way around.
How does this relate to sexuality? Sexuality consists of various strategies that subjects can take with respect to castration.
The masculine metaphor relies on implicit metaphors of the male organ and envisions property as the sensuous grasp of a tangible thing to be displayed and wielded before oth- ers. The loss of property is analogized to castration. In contrast, the feminine phallic metaphor relies on the imagery of the female body. The owning subject identifies with the owned object in such a way as to become indistinguishable from it. Property is that which one enters and enjoys and which one protects from invasion by others. Property is reduced to the single element of enjoyment. Loss of property is imagined as violation, as loss of self.
The masculine is the position of having and exchanging the phallus, while the feminine is that of being and enjoying the phallus. This is, of course, not literally true. Castration is universal. No one, masculine or feminine, has the phallus. Consequently, masculinity is not superior to femininity. Rather, the masculine can be seen as the cowardly position of denial and fantasy—falsely claiming or pretending that he has “it” when he doesn’t. In the imaginary, we try to find natural (i.e., seemingly real) analogs to stand in the place of the symbolic concepts of sexuality. That is, in the imag- inary, we conflate sexuality with anatomy. Consequently, we look for things that anatomic males have or can attain, and that anatomic females can be, to serve as metaphors for the phallus. Specifically, the phallus is conflated with the male organ (hence Lacan’s terminology) and the female body. By wielding the penis and subordinating women, those who are in the masculine position vainly pretend not to be castrated. The subordination of women has often taken a literal form in traditional societies, in which women are exchanged among men in marriage. It also takes the more subtle form of an imaginary ideal of an affirmative “femininity,” which can be tamed and captured in order to take the place of the radical negativity of the real feminine, which cannot be tamed or captured.
The feminine sexuated position, in contradistinction, is the acceptance of castration—the understanding that this loss cannot be cured. The feminine, therefore, is identified with castration, with lack. She is identified with that which is lost in the real. The feminine position with respect to castration cor- responds to desire as Thanatos. This is the understanding that no external object of desire can heal the wound of castration. It is a belief that wholeness could be achieved if one could somehow retreat back to the precastrated state. To do so would be to lose individuality and subjectivity. It would be as though one were never born; it is to be dead.
This concept of sexuality as the result of castration can be seen in the Biblical creation myth. According to the first chapter of Genesis, God “created man in his own image . . . male and female created he them.” But chapter 2 relates that Lord God created Eve out of Adam’s rib.
To put this in Lacanian terminology, we posit that the subject was once perfectly whole, and therefore self-sufficient. God castrated ha-’adam by tak- ing away a precious part of his/her body—the (phallic) rib—and building it into another being. The resulting subject-who feels that he has lost a part of himself is man. The resulting subject who identifies herself with that which the other has lost is woman.
In other words, through castration, the masculine subject feels that he no longer has what he once had. Through violation, the feminine subject feels that she no longer is what she once was. The difference between the masculine and the feminine is the difference between having and being, which is reflected in the verb forms found in all Western language.
Woman is not man’s lost phallus. There never was, nor will there ever be, a piece that was taken away from the subject that would make him whole. Eros fantasizes the two sexes to be complementary—that the fem- inine can complete the masculine. The two sexes are, by contrast, symbolic. They do not form two halves of a single subject, but are each a split subject. To achieve wholeness is to lose oneself, to rejoin the pri- mordial unity of the real. This is the feminine acceptance of castration. To be a subject is to be castrated, to not be castrated is to lose one’s subjectivity.
Eros is related to masculine phallic jouissance, and therefore requires the denial of castration so that the subject can retain the hope that he could achieve wholeness if he could have sexual relations with the perfect mate. Thanatos, in contrast, is related to the supplemental jouissance that Lacan identified with the feminine.
The positive masculine metaphor tries to analyze property as a simple relationship between an owning subject and an object, and emphasizes the single masculine element of possession. The negative masculine metaphor tries to analyze property as a contractual relationship between two subjects that does not require an object, emphasizing the single masculine element of exchange. In both, loss of property, as illustrated in the language of the U.S. Constitution, is con- ceptualized as “takings” (castration). This reflects the masculine desire of Eros—the attempt to achieve wholeness while retaining distinct, separate subjectivity by finding the missing piece—whether imagined as the object of desire or perfect helpmate—lost through castration.
Reflecting the feminine desire of Thanatos, the feminine moment of property is an attempt to regress to the perfect, virginal integrity that supposedly existed before castration-violation. It is an attempt to reduce the trilateral relationship of property not to a binary relationship but to a simple unity of subject merged with and into object. One’s property becomes so necessary to one’s personhood and one’s identification with it is so complete that one cannot distinguish personhood from property. Within the feminine metaphor, losses of property are described not in terms of taking that can be cured through damages, but as rape, pollution, a permanent loss of self.
If we were to turn around to look directly at our fantasy, as Orpheus turned to look at Eurydice, the fantasy would come to an end. We can only see the real if “eyed awry.” 77 Eros functions only so long as we keep up pretenses.
In contrast, when we take on the feminine sexuated position, we are some- times able to glimpse the real in an experience Lacan calls feminine jouis- sance—an enjoyment supplemental to masculine phallic jouissance78 Despite the name, however, enjoyment is not enjoyable in the conventional sense of the word, because to achieve the real is to leave the symbolic, and therefore to lose one’s own personality. Jouissance is the hope of wholeness in ecstatic union with the feminine as Phallic Mother. But when we actually confront the real, we see that it results in the obliteration of self. Consequently, jouis- sance is also the gut-wrenching horror of staring into the abyss. To achieve the real is to be torn limb from limb by the ecstatic feminine of the Maenads. As with Eros, we must avoid looking too closely at Thanatos, but for a different reason. We are afraid to look at Eros because he is imaginary; he is not real enough. We are terrified to look at Thanatos because she is all too real. The ultimate real- ity is death.
As Slavoj Zizek says, “The trouble with jouissance is not that it is unattainable, that it always eludes our grasp, but, rather, that one can never get rid of it. . . . ”
What are contours of the real? By definition, we cannot explain the real in words (the symbolic) or depict it in pictures (the imaginary). The real is entirely negative. We must describe it in terms of what it is not.
We, as subjects, now feel separate from other persons. We imagine that once we must have been complete in ourselves and one with the other in order to love the other and be loved in return. The real is the universe before the big bang that created subjectivity (i.e., before castration). It is the ideal of perfect union with no mediation or alienating distinctions of any type which could separate us from the ideal mother. There is, therefore, no time in the real, since time separates yesterday from today and today from tomor- row. As is the case with the physical universe, time only began with the big bang of castration. The real is therefore an event, simultaneously both an instant and eternity. There can be no space in the real, since space separates here from there. There are no objects in the real. Objects can only be understood in terms of that which is other than—different from—a subject. But this requires that subject and object be separated. There can be no desire in the real. Desire is the longing for wholeness. Since the real is that which is already perfect and whole, there is nothing left to desire. In the real we are totally indifferent to everything, because nothing is different from anything else.
That is, in the symbolic we are castrated and violated. In the real we are intact, yet impotent; virgin, yet sterile.
Most importantly, there is no subjectivity, no personality, no individuality in the real.
In order to continue to create, we must follow our desire. Yet we will lose the object of desire if we try to confront the fantasies we erect to stand in its place, as Orpheus found out when he tried to embrace Eurydice. Consequently, for the ideal of the perfect market to function, two things are necessary. First, its contours must be repressed and replaced with a fan- tasy image. Second, desire must always be postponed. Narcissus is a myth of male desire. The masculine denies castration; the feminine accepts it. The masculine can never directly recognize the feminine, because to do so would be to confront castration.
At most, the masculine community can recognize the feminine only as the silent object of masculine desire passively exchanged among male subjects. In order for anatomically female persons to speak, they must temporarily take on or mime the masculine posi- tion. Speaking women are always male impersonators. As a result, the so-called different voice championed by Carol Gilligan is really just the same old masculine voice sung in falsetto. Different voice feminism is just another form of the masculine imaginary fantasm of affirmative femininity, of the perfect mate.
Eros, being imaginary, can only be maintained through fantasy. If one were to confront the truth—that desire can never be fulfilled, that castration is inevitable and irreversible—then Eros would turn to Thanatos.
And so, in the myth, the masculine Narcissus could not hear the speech of the feminine Echo. Echo’s desire quickly turned to Thanatos and she merged with the real—the death beyond death. Narcissus, in contrast, sus- tained his Eros through fantasy. He fantasized that he had found a perfect mate with whom he could have a perfect relationship. As the masculine rejects the feminine necessity of mediation, Narcissus’s perfect object of desire was the masculine fantasy image of himself: Eros is homoerotic in nature. As Teresias predicted, however, masculine subjectivity can only be maintained so long as its fantasy structure is maintained and the subject does not directly confront his own desire. As soon as Narcissus recognized him- self, he realized that the wholeness he sought was impossible in the symbolic order. Perfect immediacy only exists in the real; Thanatos eventually supersedes Eros. Consequently, Narcissus committed suicide by literally trying to merge with the imaginary object of his desire, drowning himself in his own reflection. Yet up to the very moment of his death, he still could not recognize the feminine voice—imagining that Echo’s desperate farewell came from the mouth of his imaginary masculine lover.
Future enjoyment is always mediated by anticipation, and past enjoyment is always mediated by memory. This sense of lost immediacy is feminine jouissance—enjoyment. Like Eurydice, you anticipate jouissance as she who has not-yet-come, but the instant you turn to try to hold her, she is always-already-gone.
The sexes are mutually constituted. The masculine is created by feminine freedom, the feminine by masculine abjection. Only the feminine can give birth to the masculine, but the feminine cannot function without the masculine generative act. In the depressing Lacanian formulation, however, even though the two sexes require each other, they can never fit together. The masculine is passive and impotent. He can neither procreate nor satisfy the feminine because he is castrated. The feminine is active and fertile. But she only brings forth because she has been violated and can never forgive the masculine.
The feminine is not only immediacy, but lack. In this sense, the feminine is radical negativity. It is the possibility of being outside the constraints of the symbolic and the imaginary. The feminine therefore can have no posi- tive content. All attempts to give content to the feminine are masculine fantasies written in the imaginary.
In the words of Slavo Zizek,“In short, by playing upon the somewhat worn-out Hegelian formula, we can say that the ‘enigma of woman’ ultimately conceals the fact that there is nothing to conceal.” ZiZek, The Metastases of Enjoyment." [Jeanne Schroeder, The Triumph of Venus]
"From a Hegelian standpoint, “quality refers to the specific, affirmative aspect of a thing which distinguishes it from other things that exist—i.e., it is the aspect of a thing which is not shared; it is that which enables us to tell two ‘things’ apart.” Quantity, by contrast, is indifferent to qualitative dif- ference. As I have stated elsewhere,
The concept of more or less is the same regardless of whether we are talking about more of this, or less of that. . . . Quantity is, therefore, indifferent to quality.
In simple English, quality is differentiation, quantity is commensuration. Quality is difference, quantity is identity. . . . Qualities are the differences of self from other. Quantity, in contradistinction, is what self and other have in common. Qualitative difference is a matter of is or is not. Quantitative differ- ence is a matter of more or less. Quality asks “is it X or Y?” Quantity asks “how much Z do X and Y have?”
In Simmel’s words,
“Since money is nothing but the indifferent means for concrete and infinitely varied purposes, its quantity is its only important determination as far as we are concerned. With reference to money, we do not ask what and how, but how much. This quality or lack of quality of money first emerges in all of its psychological purity, however, only after it has been acquired. Only when money is transformed into positive values does it become evident that the quantity exclusively determines the importance of money, namely its power as a means.” Id. at 259.
The relationship between exchange value and use value parallels the relationship between the symbolic and the real, and that between the masculine and the feminine. Consequently, exchange value is “masculine money” and use value is “feminine” money. In each pair, the latter serves as the limit of the former; the latter is defined as that which the former is not. The former, therefore, simultaneously requires the existence of the latter as its defining other, while it can never capture the other.
Zizek compares Lacan’s reasoning to Marx’s account of how society moves from barter (in which each object is valued directly, in terms of the specific other object for which it is exchanged) to a monetary economy (in which exchange value is generalized by reference to money, understood as the means of exchange).
First, the commodity which serves as “general equivalent” is the one which is most often exchanged, which has the greatest use value (furs, corn, and so on); then, the relationship is inverted and the role of “general equivalent” is taken over by a commodity with no use value (or at least with negligible use- value)—money (the “money form). Following the same logic, the “general form” of the signifying equivalence (“a signifier represents the subject for all of the other signifiers”).
In other words, money as the medium of exchange is the one thing that cannot be enjoyed. Just as the speaking subject, as a master signifier with no independent significance, serves to give signification to other signifiers, money is the master commodity. Money can serve as the universal unit of value for other commodities because it has no independent value of its own. Money can only be created through exchange for another commodity, temporarily possessed, and then exchanged for another object.
Simmel continues, “Money is not only the absolutely interchangeable object, each quantity of which can be replaced without distinction by any other; it is , so to speak, interchangeability personified.” In Hegelian terms, quantity is indifferent to quality in the sense that the concept of “more or less” does not require one to know more or less “of what.”
The fact that two subjects engage in exchange is conclusive evidence that they recognize a fundamental difference between the objects exchanged.
The relationship of exchange and use value necessarily flows from the log- ical connection between quality and quantity, which Hegel calls “mea- sure.” Masculine money as exchange value is quantitative in nature. Feminine money—enjoyment or use value—in contrast, is qualitative. Quantity as commensuration is the suppression of quality as differentiation, in the same sense that the masculine position is the denial of the feminine. This should not be read as implying that quantity (or masculinity, or exchange value) can exist without quality (or femininity, or use value). Rather, it means the opposite: quantity can only be understood with respect to quality, and only perceived by its grace. Quantity is the sublation of the contra- dictions of quality, and therefore it requires quality as the condition of its existence. If quality is difference and quantity is identity, then, according to the doctrine of the identity of identity and difference, quality and quan- tity share a moment of identity despite their difference. To put this another way, to make a quantitative judgment is to assert that there is a moment of essential similarity between two things despite their difference. A quantitative statement is therefore always an implicit acknowledgement of qualitative difference. We require a concept of masculine money understood as an objective metric of exchange value—as a tool that enables us to commensurate and connect different commodities—precisely because the things to be exchanged are distinguishable by quality as well as by time and space. If all commodities were in fact interchangeable, we would not engage in exchange, and therefore would not need money as a universal metric of value. Money exists as a means to fill a gap, and therefore can only exist insofar as there is a gap that needs to be filled. To use another metaphor, money is a translator, and the fact of translation is not an assertion that two languages are the same, but testimony to the fact that they are not.
To paraphrase Derrida, translation is necessary not despite, but just because of, its impossibility." [Jeanne Schroeder, The Triumph of Venus]
"Law must repress not only the extralegal forces of violence, but its own necessary moment of subjectivity—the illegal moment of its own founding. As the Furies argued, the jury that established the law was in fact lawless: declaring its own paternal jurisdiction, it revolted against the preexisting maternal one. We must believe, and act, as though the law and the masculine were everything they claim to be—objective, complete, constraining, and in control. But the phallus is not merely the masculine claim to power; it is also the symbol of the repressed feminine. In order for the masculine law to function, we must invoke the deus ex machina and veil the law’s feminine origins.
The masculine exists only in opposition to the feminine. He needs her to be constantly present as his defining other, even though he can never acknowledge her openly.
Consequently, in The Eumenides, civilized law is created by rejecting the primal loyalty to the mother, as per- sonified by the Furies, and submitting to the law of the father, as personified by Zeus. Accordingly, in The Eumenides, not only the legally recognized subject (the defendant, Orestes) but his defense attorney (the god Apollo) and the judges (the ten jurors) are all empirically male. Although Athena is female, she claims to be acting on behalf of Father Zeus in favoring the male. In order to establish the law, the masculine must be vindicated. It is not enough that the feminine be tamed; she must be repressed, hidden away. Their fury extinguished, the Kindly Ones solemnly retreat to the grotto.
However, as we have seen, the deus ex machina is just the falling of the curtain, the veil that hides the true ending of the story. In truth, the masculine is not completely successful. The untamed Furies remain hidden beneath the place of judgment, merely veiled.
Consequently, in The Eumenides, civilized law is created by rejecting the primal loyalty to the mother, as personified by the Furies, and submitting to the law of the father, as personified by Zeus. Accordingly, in The Eumenides, not only the legally recognized subject (the defendant, Orestes) but his defense attorney (the god Apollo) and the judges (the ten jurors) are all empirically male. Although Athena is female, she claims to be acting on behalf of Father Zeus in favoring the male. In order to establish the law, the masculine must be vindicated. It is not enough that the feminine be tamed; she must be repressed, hidden away. Their fury extinguished, the Kindly Ones solemnly retreat to the grotto.
However, as we have seen, the deus ex machina is just the falling of the curtain, the veil that hides the true ending of the story. In truth, the masculine is not completely successful. The untamed Furies remain hidden beneath the place of judgment, merely veiled.
The feminine is the hidden, veiled support of the law: she is that which permits law to function. In the guise of the Furies, the radical negativity that is the feminine appears as the total annihilation, or the death beyond death, of the real. Clearly, the primitive, prelegal regime of self-help and private vendetta must be repressed for any civilized society to exist.
The phallic order of the symbolic only functions through veiling because the masculine claim to have the phallus—to be powerful and objective—is, in fact, a fiction. The masculine objectivity of law is only created through lawless feminine subjectivity. If the phallus were revealed to us unveiled, we would have to admit its artificiality and fragility and would no longer obey it. Like the Wizard of Oz, the law is great and powerful only so long as we pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
Lacan insists that the Father who writes the law is the absent or dead father, who never appears. The law is therefore written not by the Father, but in his name. This is why Father Zeus is never seen and does not act directly, but only indirectly, through a feminine proxy who invokes his name. It also explains why Apollo lacks the power to exonerate Orestes and why the masculine jury deadlocks on the subject of its own jurisdiction. Only the goddess Athena acting in the name of the Father is able to call the jury, break the deadlock, acquit Orestes and mollify the Furies. This is because Zeus’s pre- tense that he was founding the law was itself an act of violence—a violation of the preexisting regime of Mother Night.
Consequently, for law and subjectivity to function, subjectivity must retain a moment of arbitrary freedom. The law, which claims to be objective, must retain a (repressed) subjective moment. The masculine requires the feminine.
The first aspect of the superego is paternal. It is the Law of the Father, which establishes a masculine position totally constrained by the symbolic order. The law cannot function, however, if subjects are so completely objectified by the law.
Consequently, the superego must simultaneously create the subjective freedom, the freedom from law, that will enable action to occur and the law to function. This can only be done if the subject escapes and transgresses the law. By doing so, the superego opens a gap, the space in the law necessary for movement and growth. This second aspect of the superego is, of course, maternal—the regime of Mother Night. It is access to the repressed feminine exiled into the real.
To put this another way, as we have seen, the dialectic of abstract right tells us that the abstract person creates law as a means of actualizing his freedom. To be totally constrained by law, however, would be the opposite of freedom. Consequently, by its own internal logic, for law to function, it must always partially fail. Just as the achievement of the perfect market would be the end of all actual markets, the achievement of perfect law would be the end of all law—and the death of the subject.
Desire is the longing to be whole, intact, and invi- olate—not to be castrated. Desire is therefore created by castration, in the sense that if we were already whole, there would be nothing to desire.
To say that the Furies, like Aphrodite, are the daughters of castration suggests that the Furies are likewise goddesses of desire. Indeed, the mythical births of the Furies and Aphrodite mirror the Lacanian understanding of the masculine and feminine forms of desire. The myths tell us that when the blood of castration mixed with the traditionally feminine element of Earth, it gave birth to the Furies—goddesses of Thanatos. When it mixed with the traditionally masculine element of Ocean, it gave birth to Aphrodite—goddess of Eros.
Lacanian psychoanalysis posits that the masculine position is created through its abjection of the feminine, and the feminine is created through its abasement by the masculine. The implications of this are that misogynistic institutions are not merely accidental in modern Western society. Rather, a fundamental misogyny of legal institutions and language is essential.
The radical freedom of the feminine can today only be understood as the destructive frenzy of jouissance, personified by the Furies, which wipes out the old, rather than the fertile possibility of Venus, who brings forth the new. The sublation of sexuality must revive and preserve the feminine, currently negated by the masculine, but must not give into imaginary lures to depict closed, sterile, affirmative femininity." [Jeanne Schroeder, The Triumph of Venus]
Patterns (inter)acting are then quantitatively evaluated as possessing an innate desire (need), erotically/thymotically explaining why they (inter)act in the way they do. Appreciation becomes an innate quality, made quantifiable with simplification/generalization; converted into 1/0 binary symbolic code (language). The motive is to be appreciated by an-other , to acquire value in/through otherness - whole-some. To be perceived, is to be given value, and to exist is automatically to be perceptible - potential value.
Subjectivity giving value to the objective.
Money being the abstraction made tangible, evaluation of self by an-other self, transferred from consciousnesses (living and potentially value giving) to the unconscious (non-living patterns indifferent to evaluation). Patterns (order) placing a high value on patterns (order), rare (fragile) and/or resistant to chaos (strong).
Self-perpetuating, self-referring order(ing) = life. Life, taking self, as a starting point, evaluates all (inter)acting patterns, in conjunction (time/space agreement), as being similarly motivated. Cosmos as living organism = universe. The cosmos gives the potential of evaluation to the living, and it reciprocates by bestowing upon it value - self-serving/servitude.
An indirect way of making the benefit worth any and all potential costs.
Reduction of quality (differentiation) from quantity (uniforming code) begins with the value 1/0 as a pre-existing quality, unifying all differentiating qualities - implosion of space/time into the absolute one/good/God. Subjective gifting itself through other its desirable unity, wholesomeness, oneness, godliness - in the noumenon the phenomena implode into one, or words/symbol; multiplicity (Satan) implodes into one-ness (Judeo-Christian/Islamic God).
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It's a secure way of saving, if you know how to invest or get friendly professional help.
One can invest in bonds and securities and resources and debt, I dont care about that, what I find interesting is playing the market, as it relies on human invention, and human valuing trends - and it ties into the Earth through dharma - it feeds the earth, or would, if investments were made to that end.
Last edited by Black Panther on Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:20 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Uranus in Taurus; any time Uranus and Pluto enter new signs, we have gigantic economic effects. 2010/2011 Uranus entered definitively into Aries as the Arab Spring erupted, Pluto entered into Capricorn in November 2008 as an enormous financial change took place and Obama was elected; these are violent signs, both Cardinal - Uranus in Aries is pure upheaval; ISIS as a capstone; Uranus into Taurus will yield enormous wealth through technology, the electrical heavoc-wreaker always thrives in an Earth sign, which can resist his force and come up with immutable treasures from the crevices torn. Taurus is the richest of all the signs, Wealth in its undivided form, pure ownership, understanding of that which one owns as oneself, thus also the sign appropriate to the masters of the Earth.
Uranus will definitively enter Taurus in the spring of 2019. The economy and the warmachine will go through some major tectonic shock, and a time of true invention will secure the destiny of mankind for the coming age - around the time Pluto enters Aquarius, things will be looking radically different on Earth.
When you keep an eye on the clock, everything happens on schedule. Though that doesn't lighten the work of getting there. On the contrary; it demands that one do the appropriate work.
When fate is known it becomes irresistible.
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"The Classical Greeks did not count greed as a deadly sin. There is no entry for 'greed' in the index to K.J. Dover's Greek Popular Morality, for example. Pleonexia, literally 'trying to get more', was indeed castigated, but not on absolute moral grounds, and the negative implications of aggression and fraud in that term were more dominant than that of greed. There were, I think, two main reasons for this important difference between Greek and Judaeo-Christian morality. First, a matter of mentality: envy (for which there was a perfectly good Classical Greek word, phthonos) was not a vice either. On the contrary, a Classical Greek strove might and main to get himself envied as much and by as many other people as possible. Since the possession of great wealth was a prime source of envy, the attitude of mind necessary for obtaining or conserving it could not be considered in itself morally reprehensible.
Secondly, a matter of brute economics: almost all Greeks were 'poor', by which term it was implied that they had to rather than chose to work for a living, whether or not they could call on supplementary free or servile labour to assist them. A society which defines wealth in terms of freedom from the necessity to work, and which defines poverty so broadly, is by definition a poor society. Unlike many western societies today, the ancient Greek world was a 'no-growth' economy; and getting a living was a 'zero-sum' game, that is, the increase in one person's wealth meant a decrease in someone else's. Making a pile therefore was an extremely rare occurrence, ascribed naturally enough to plain chance by one's envious peers or more grandiosely to divine favour shown to oneself by Hermes, god of lucky finds.
There is some reason for thinking that the gap between rich and poor Greeks may have grown wider in the course of the fourth century BC than it had been during the later fifth. The political writings of Isokrates, Plato and Aristotle - all extremely wealthy men and founders of schools of higher learning at Athens - are shot through with concern about the rich-poor divide. Isokrates constantly feared for the security of his own property at the hands of rootless and envious poor Greeks and preached the need for an anti-Persian crusade to conquer land in Asia on which they could be settled. Plato in the Republic did not scruple to describe apolls that was ruled oligarchically (that is, by the few rich citizens) as two cities, the city of the rich and the city of the poor; while the major pragmatic motivation of Aristotle's treatise, the Politics, was a desire to prevent the antagonism between rich and poor Greek citizens from spilling over into outright civil war and bloodshed (stasis).
On the other hand, there was nothing new about this antagonism in itself in 388, when the Plutus was staged in Athens (at which festival and with what success we do not know). It will perhaps be enough to refer to Herodotus' story of Themistokles seeking to raise funds on Andros in 480/79 (Hdt. 8.111): when he told the reluctant Andrians that he was accompanied by two powerful divinities, Persuasion and Necessity, they replied that they too were divinely governed - by Poverty and Helplessness.
Khremylos the hero bears, as is usual in Aristophanes, a meaningful name. It is intended both to suggest one of the Greek words for a possession, piece of property or good (khrema) and to play on that word's etymological link to the idea of utility and use-value. For Khremylos is not only a man ofmoderate property, in fact a modestly prosperous peasant farmer who is sufficiently well-off to own several slaves, but like Trygaios in Peace he is presented as a useful or worthy (khrestos) citizen. Unlike Trygaios, however, Khremylos does not dream up his great idea all by himself. It comes to him, almost, by accident. For he begins by consulting the Delphic Oracle on a purely individual, family matter - whether his son should practise virtue or vice if he is to make a success of his life. Apollo's answer, a neat parody both of Delphic ambiguity and of a familiar folktale motif, is that he should take home with him the first person he meets after leaving the shrine. That 'person' just happens to be Ploutos, the eponymous god of wealth, who is represented as a decrepit, squalid, bent, cowardly and - of course (the Greek proverb had it that 'wealth is blind') - blind old man.
The thought has occurred before to Khremylos that wealth in society is not merely unevenly but unjustly distributed: the morally worthy are poor, the undeserving and immoral are rich. Indeed, the connection seems to be a causal one: it is through practising wickedness that the rich have acquired their wealth. How many of us have not had the same thought, and perhaps gone on like Khremylos (245 ff.) to imagine that if we were rich we would behave ever so much better than those who actually now are? But only a Classical Greek polytheist could have 'explained' the origins of this intolerable situation on the theological grounds proposed here, namely that
Ploutos had been blinded by an immoral Zeus, jealous as always of whatever is virtuous. And only Aristophanes could have dreamt up Khremylos' 'logical' solution to this manifest social injustice, which was of course to restore Ploutos' sight - by taking him to the incubatory shrine of the healing god Asklepios (officially admitted to the Athenian pantheon in 420." [Aristophanes]
"Essentially, the Austrian school’s axiom is that “Logic doesn’t lie, but numbers can deceive”, while the Chicago school’s motto would be “Numbers don’t lie, but non-colluded assumptions can deceive”."
"The [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] has been credited as being one of the key groups that succeeded in moving the world away from socialism/marxism and into a more liberal world order."
This ‘degradation’ could not find any better expression than Gide's invention, which makes crystal the substance of a circulating currency. The eternal crystal of a thought that is faithful to the Archetype of things enters the language market, like ordinary money in everyday exchange. It would seem that here, in a nutshell, is a major evolution in Western thought. According to an aphorism of Heidegger's, Being is degraded to value. Let us say, in other words, that archetypal meaning ‘degenerates’ into conceptual meaning; in the movement of substitutions and exchange, logos becomes logic, the ‘money of the mind.’ Archetypal value descends into the market, participates in vulgar transactions, and thus, faded and worn through use, loses its sacred numen. The standard is no longer what measures, from its transcendent site, the meaning and value of signs and things that are compared and exchanged; rather, it enters into trade itself. It moves from the sacred transcendental function of Measure (ideality) to the profane function in which it can gradually be replaced by simple signs of itself (pure symbolicity). As a result, inexorably, the ‘tokenization’ of the general equivalent stems from the very logic of intensified circulation, through the play of successive substitutions, with infinite displacements and delays. [The Coiners of Language]
The “degradation” of phenomena to noumena; real to ideal; the tangible to the abstract, is a degradation of language as the mode of human intercourse. Money becomes messiah, and the one-god becomes humanity.
Goux, Jean-Joseph wrote:
The history of value in the West is the inexorable shift from Archetypes to tokens, a shift that some, in language of a very different extraction from my own, would call a degradation, or even nihilism. The ‘history of metaphysics’ is the monetary history of the economy, the evolution of what used to be a divine, numinous standard, situated above exchange the inestimable source of what is valued into another value on the exchange mart. In the token system, the advanced stage of the reign of general equivalence, the dimension of the archetypal measure soon becomes the most neglected dimension of all, the one most excluded by the very logic of signifying metabolisms. The numen has become idea, idea has become concept, and the concept itself is no longer signification but merely a pure value in the ‘arbitrary and differential’ system of the play of signifiers. Gide's fiction appears at a moment in the history of exchanges when the universal equivalent, shaken in its capacity as archetype of the One (the axis aligning Father, Gold, Language, and Phallus), begins to lose credibility in its role as the Representative, as a result of its progressive demotion from this function to that of a token, a mere signifying element whose convertibility is suspended, hypothetical. Fiction, while trying to sustain a dimension of ideality in language (through reference to the archetype) imperceptibly moves this ideality toward a pure intellectual construction. The poem, adequate to the Idea, becomes the more prosaic novel of ideas. Pure crystal, which first (in the work of the young Gide) signified fidelity to the archetype, becomes in The Counterfeiters rather the crystal of understanding of which Hegel speaks – or even the ‘artificially composed’ core – that is the invisible substructure of every work of fiction, however splendidly gilded and inspired it may be. In sum, Gide takes the position that the gold coin is no longer credible (its guarantees have crumbled), and that the task at hand is to seek a new ideality in the register of constructive abstraction (the crystal). Here Gide foreshadows the crisis of an era in which structure tries to make up for the central collapse of all standard values. It was to take half a century for this aesthetic, philosophical, and epistemological configuration to realize its full scope. [The Coiners of Language]
Welcome to the Desert of the Real – a dystopic nihilistic world where words no longer refer to tangible, experienced phenomena but to noetic construct that can only be come tangible as “tokens” of exchange – artifices of human creation. Money is the language of market intercourse, losing substantiality so that what is being exchanged are ideas/ideals with no empirical referents.
Goux, Jean-Joseph wrote:
Thus the formal crystal is both the inevitable result of a world that, having put into circulation tokens with no backing, has lost its authenticity, and already an attempt to replace this total devaluation of pure currency (economic and linguistic alike) with a structure capable of resisting erosion by wear and tear, an a priori construction capable of standing up to the non-sense of a representation that has become deceptive. Formalism, structuralism, and abstraction are all effects of the loss of credibility of all representation, and at the same time they are attempts to counter the devaluation and discreditation of profoundly experienced meaning with the eternity and solidity of a geometry of the intellect. Through its structural a prioris, the crystal of form attempts to regain the site of Ideas, but it can be no more than a rationalistic construction in the cultural milieu where capitalism and Protestantism have established the reign of the iconoclastic concept. [The Coiners of Language]
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The one may be called ‘value in use’; the other, ‘value in exchange’. The things which have the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange; on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have frequently little or no value in use. Nothing is more valuable than water: but it will purchase scarce anything; scarce anything can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it. (31–2)
Value in utility, and value as symbolic representation – insinuated utility; vanity, and man trying to associate with rare materials, symbolizing his own uniqueness, becomes fashion fetishism. Man adorns himself with symbols of the rare, trying to raise evaluations of him in the eyes of those who accept the symbolism as a real representation. Symbol becomes the correcting/healing representation, compensating for the wrongs man endures by existing. Representation acquires a value in itself: Platonic idealism meets Judeo-Christian nihilism. The absence of an absolute is corrected by the representation; absence of quality buried within quantities alluding to value that need not be appraised but taken for granted. Accessibility lends itself to the concept of world “rupturing” mass salvation – money reflecting paradise lost; the one-god is reborn as purified icon/idol, as currency of exchange.
Taherne, Thomas wrote:
I began to enquire what things were most Common: Air, Light, Heaven and Earth, Water, the Sun, Trees, Men and Women, Cities Temples &c. These I found Common and Obvious to all: Rubies Perls Diamonds Gold and Silver, these I found scarce, and to the most Denied. Then began I to consider and compare the value of them, which I measured by their Serviceableness, and by the Excellencies which would be found in them, should they be taken away. And in Conclusion I saw clearly, that there was a Real Valuableness in all the Common things; in the Scarce, a feigned. (I, 142)
Markets rules by psychology not by reason. What is increasingly being exchanged are trinkets of accentuating impoverished spirituality; “token” of unattainable promise – trust is lost because the product/service cannot deliver a metaphysical alternative to the physical.
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But value is not commonly estimated by labour, because labour is difficult to measure, and commodities are more frequently exchanged for other commodities, especially money, which is therefore most frequently used in estimating value. (34–5)
The illusion that money literally is value thus quickly takes hold among the populace. This is a false, or ideological, consciousness brought about by empiricist habits of thought:
Smith, Adam wrote:
The greater part of the people to understand better what is meant by a quantity of a particular commodity, than by a quantity of labour. The one is a plain palpable object; the other an abstract notion, which, though it can be made sufficiently intelligible, is not altogether so natural and obvious. (35)
Smith thus sees a systematic disjunction between appearance and reality as an inevitable consequence of a market economy. ‘Labour’, he repeatedly stresses, ‘is alone the ultimate and real standard by which the value of all commodities can at all times and places be estimated and compared. It is their real price; money is their nominal price only’ (36–7). According to this criterion, it would seem that in our society the nominal has replaced the real. This is what postmodernists mean when they claim to be living in a ‘hyper-reality’.
Once the word “value” has been ripped from its association with utility, stripped of its real-world referents and converted to abstract symbols, liberated from space/time restrictions – representing a diversity of nominal abstractions – the next step of taking it a step further, viz., converting it to an ontology in itself, is almost inevitable. The noumenon simply alludes to the phenomenon if it remains representational, but if taken literally it can be used to negate the apparent world through the sheer psychological force of its positive malleability. An activity requiring commitment, and a cost (labour/work), with uncertain rewards is expected to produce risks, whereas the representation freed from physical labour and time commitments becomes a matter of attitude and taste. Money purchases the right to believe in whatever fabrications you prefer, only abiding by market dynamics that preserve this as an innate part of its supply/demand dynamics. Money is the ideal representation of value – the ideal made tangible.
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Money, as primary representation of resources, is the great abstractor of ideals, used as an emancipator and corrector of nature’s injustices. With it the “wronged” can purchase what nature, the past, has denied them. The masses find in it – through it – the greatest liberating and forgiving force; divine salvation they can carry and pull out when need be; with it they can be renewed and reborn as anything, as anyone; with it they can purchase what they have not inherited genetically, passing it on to their own children as a compensation for their genetic inheritance. Fiat money, once established as the preferred mode of exchange, becomes an iconic token of the “divine”.
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Gesell destroyed the dead part of Marx by his lapidary phrase:
Gesell, Silvio wrote:
Marx never questioned money.
That is, Marx never questioned the nature of money, nor analysed it. [Towards an economic Orthology]
Pound, Ezra wrote:
The Nineteenth century was all that La Tour du Pin called it, all that Maurrass and the French Royalist clowns have tried to forget that La Tour du Pin called it. It was the century of usury. It was the century of decomposition. It was a century baser than any other I can think of in being the age of the BETRAYAL of terms, the messer and befouler of the meaning of words. [Towards an economic Orthology]
The degradation of language is reflected in the degradation of money, since money is the representation of mathematical codes. Fiat currency being part of a general detachment of semiotics from external referents.