Desire is the Desire of the Other – Lacan
According to psychoanalyst Lacan, the Other is the objective state of hopeful arrival. When we use words like ‘Eden’, ‘perfect’, or even phrases like ‘maybe one day when i’ we are
exist. That is known as the Other.
Or let’s say someone breaks your heart and in the solace of your bedroom consumed with ghosts of past relationships, you utter between the falling tears ‘one day, i will love again’. The idea behind that phrase exists hope, but not hope for a one-night stand or for a quick-fix. We’re hoping in that moment that our idealistic notions of love will come true. That they will save us. That love when truly experienced in all of its fullness will in some way save us from ourselves and current state.
We are constituted people.
We are made up of many things. Our hopes. Dreams. Failures. Victories. Mothers. Fathers. Churches. Mosques. Atheism. Ethics. Environment. Broken hearts. Children. Past, present and future. All of these things together make us appear whole. They make us feel complete, but when of these go astray and follow their own path outside of our idealized notion, our ‘world’ falls apart. We then feel as if we are alone. We feel as if we are no longer whole.
Our understanding of things is also constituted ideology.
When I look at a tree, its not that its a tree because its a tree but because all of the things that constitute a tree are what make it a tree. Or what about what it means to be human? When someone acts outside of the ‘normal’ constitution of what it looks like to be human, we deem their act inhumane or as a crime against humanity. We distance ourselves from that inhumane de-constituted behaviour. Its because this person who acted so pervasively kicks against the ‘rubric’ for what it means to be human. Their behaviour makes us feel uncomfortable and displaced, the only way to feel ‘at home’ once again is to publicly/privately condemn their behaviour as abnormal or psychotic.
In fact, Lacan would deem this behaviour psychotic.
Case in point, the pastor in Florida who is willing to burn the Holy Book of Islam would be deemed as exhibiting a psychotic break. Not because he is exhibiting it, but because how society is defining the constitution of a psychotic break. This doesn’t mean what he and is community are condoning isn’t right; its definitely wrong and we should find ways to counter his act of terror with radical grace and hospitality toward our muslim neighbours.
For example, a high school student might experience rejection because they have joined the chess club, although we might know (now) that there is nothing wrong with being part of the chess club, those that are in the majority/popular category get to dictate what is in and what is out. And by them dictating what is acceptable and what is not, they essentially create an Other outside of this rejected students life by which he will measure his self-value from, not just in high school but most likely will go on to look toward other Other’s to help frame his self-value and understanding.
I think this is why Jesus says we must love our enemies.Why? Because the ‘violent’ act of love strips each of us from the world where everything is about me. If love is dying to ourselves, than our death is inevitable in the exhange between enemies. And if both enemies are dying to one another, then no enemies are present to attack. love is more violent than the attack, but it strips each person of the opportunity to attack. There is an ideological divorce occurring within the relationship dynamic of the two people involved.
What about Christianity/Church?
If everything is in its constituted ‘rightful’ place, how can we ever get it wrong? Exactly. Because our ego’s are hell-bent on saving us from any chance of self-sacrifice, we would rather grip tightly to our illusions of what we think christianity/Church should be, Rather than go through the vulgar experience of de-constituting christianity. Because we are creatures of comfort, the process of de-constitution forces us to let go of things we might have made ourselves believe we need. We have brainwashed ourselves to the point that we believe that everything outside of us is at fault for our own self-indoctrination.
This is the psychotic break I was speaking of earlier.
I think where we are now in terms of asking very hard questions and participating in such liberating events like Big Tent Christianity, are the part of this much needed psychotic break happening within the Church. We are beginning to break away from the vulgar act of exclusion and are participating in a new way of loving our neighbour. We are participating in a divine act when we love the other.
The issue with constituting (remember, this is the idea that the tree isn’t the tree because its a tree, but because there are certain amount of socially agreed signifiers that determine whether its a tree or not) – the thing is, and let’s be honest, we could have our signifiers wrong. So now we have to do the necessary hard work to figure out ones that got us into our self-driven mess.
Reconstituting ourselves involves the Lacanian process of foreclosure which presumes that there are certain things we can no longer call as true. If we were to continue deeming these things as true, we would essentially be lying to ourselves by choice and continuing to live in the imagination stage of our development.
Imagination is different from dreaming.
Dreaming is what happens naturally and this process should be allowed and include those from any faith or dispensation. To sit at the table and dream up a kind of world that is induced by the cross-characteristics within all faiths that were demonstrated in Jesus. This idea of constitution has also affected our ideas of Jesus.
I think we need to look not only to the Bible, but every resource we can get our hands on to understand the person of Jesus.
We no longer have the luxury of seeing our subjective state as an enemy. I wonder if we could move beyond the rhetoric of making Jesus/God in our own image?; the reality is we can’t get away from the fact that all of our subjective understandings of the two will be continously painted by us. I find it interesting that Jesus fearlessly walked with 12 different people who had 12 different worldviews, but not only that was a metaphor for the nation of Israel. even today, the national notion of jesus is very different across the country of Israel. he is received and understood in differentl lights. These variegated responses demonstrates the similar responses couched in diversity in the New Testament.
When we realize that our constitution should also be evolving, than the concepts driven by them will be elvolving as well. I personally want to be in the space where some of the ancient rabbi’s were, who saw truth as unfolding; as something that invited us into its tranformational progression, whether it be about self-discovery, God-discovery or world-discovery.