18.12.13

to be a human today

is there such thing as 'human connection' in a postnuclear world?

keep the lights on (2011) is about that. it tells the story of a gay drug user with a fuzzy attachment pattern. as well as a failed attempt to forge a relationship by his struggling partner-to-be.

the above seems especially relevant to gay culture, but why is that? jacques lacan's concept of the 'Names of the Father' might be particularly useful in explaining this phenomenon. 'Names of the Father' are, in essence, social ties (what many contemporary French thinkers also termed as 'discourses') which allowed 'normal neurotics' of old to function, providing a steady collectively mediated frame of reference in the world for them - something every neurotic simply can't be or exist without. yet, this social scaffold of the 'Father' has always been somewhat doubted by lacan. firstly, due to his notion of 'sliding meanings', that is, that what we commonly mean and understand in culture(s) is continuously sliding, shifting, is never properly fixed, lacks grounding, lacks stability - akin to tectonic plates, something we fail to easily notice yet it's happening. secondly, freudian baby of 'oedipus complex' is rapidly falling into misuse clinically and culturally. thus, the 'normal neurotic' is becoming an extinct species. his or her place is gradually taken over by more liquid, heuristic, postnuclear, dynamic kind of personality and worldview.

under these circumstances, a fixed binary gender itself is questionable. lacanian clinicist marie-helen brousse tells us how she witnessed a conversation between a boy and a girl of about five. the girl in question was spotted explaining to the bewildered boy that there are more than two genders, they are at least four: with an addition of a 'girly boy' and a 'boyly girl'. this in itself proving to be a de-nuclearising tendency unsettling for the conventional neurotic order.

which is why, the gay drug user in the movie, with a screwy attachment pattern and unable to forge quality relationships, is a pretty much 'normal' typical example of a contemporary post-industrial human being, only seemingly extreme, but in actual fact, rapidly becoming mainstream. no doubt, gay culture, having for decades emphasised hedonistic libertinage, has been traditionally catalyst at the forefront of this postnuclear development. no wonder a worldwide movement to universally legalise gay marriage is, though seemingly liberal, is at the forefront not of a leftie but of a deeply conservative, thatcherite value-system, aimed at 're-neurotization' of a liquid postnuclearity. why is there such a need in society?

it is chiefly due to gadget economy, propagated by the iconic figures such as Steve Jobs, and based on human disconnect of postnuclearity (namely: the more psychologically disconnected we are as humans, the more gadgets we will buy to connect with as our surrogate partners - in the movie it is exemplified by one of the protagonists, Erik, trying to fill the boredom of the wayward absent partner, Paul, by using his normal venting gadget, a telephone sex hotline, eventually being connected to his actual partner, Paul himself, who instantly hangs up - hotline proves to be essentially a disconnect). initially at the service of capitalism, this model is proving deeply flawed for the economy due to its active de-socialising tendency whereby humans relate to gadgets at the detriment of human connection, thus helping economic stagnation due to this disconnect in human society. human economy simply cannot live or thrive without human connections, without human beings.

the role of psychoanalysis in this regard is to help re-create that human tie.

at the same time, the very notion of human tie is re-ignited in all this. human still is a human, though what's "to be a human" is continually re-defined.




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