Wilson, Joyce, Lacan, Zizek.
By Steve Fly
[some first thought best thought notes]
Slavoj Zizek will lecture later this evening here in Amsterdam. Over the last 48 hours since learning this, and buying a ticket, I’ve been formulating questions, and blowing my own mind without loosing my head i hope. Joyce, Lacan, Zizek, Wilson, oh my!
Here i will simply connect some threads between Joyce, Lacan, Wilson and Zizek, and show how they are in resonance. And why this is important, at least to me.
A quick web search for Joyce, Lacan and Zizek, explicitly, kicks up the works of Sheldon Brivic, who seems to have already explored every nook and cranny of why James Joyce, and Finnegans Wake in particular resonance with Lacan, and so by osmosis, Zizek. As far as i know Brivic does not mention Wilson in his works. Why should he? Zizek already has an article published on Joyce, here: http://www.lacan.com/frameXI2.htm
Due to the sheer number of peer reviewed and published works about Joyce, there’s not much left that cannot be linked to the great Irish poet. Every writer and work since Joyce, seems to have been influenced by him. He’s like a literary equivalent of Einstein who permanently transformed his field. Be that as it may, in 2017 who is reading Joyce, and Einstein, for that matter? is it relevant to the new digital village of social networking, and the explosion of visual media, film, games, vr, ar, mr?
Wilson, due to his early adoption of the technique of using contemporary pop cultural examples to illustrate deeper philosophical principles about society, and that hover perpendicular to any left/right axis, provide a strong ‘aesthetic’ link between the American Joycean, social philosophers informed by Lacan, and the contemporary continental philosophers, rolled up in Zizek.
For me, the similarities between Wilson and Zizek, deserve closer examination. If you like Zizek, i think you’ll enjoy Wilson. Maybe i am living in a cultural vacuum and everybody has read Robert Anton Wilson, indeed, the fans of Zizek i know are mostly from the tribes of Wilson. Perhaps i’d like to hear from the critics of Wilson, and his socio-psychology?
I think the term Guerrilla ontologist fits Zizek as it fit RAW. The term ontological anarchist may also be applicable in the sense of poetically charged intellectual discourse. All these characters have been labelled dangerous thinkers too.
I think Wilson and Zizek could agree on many principles, historic, philosophical, socio-psychological and political. And, perhaps most importantly, upon their share sharp witted, often satirical bent toward language. Althoug Zizek is not best described as a satirist at all.
Wilson often repeated the general relativity principle, also developed by Lacan and Joyce, together with a long list of philosophers before them (Hegel, Russel, Kant, etc.) that in a nutshell, i think is best described by the statements: ‘the map is not the territory’ ‘the menu is not the meal’ and the principle that the language (symbol systems) you use, and that construct your waking environment, help determine your apprehension of the universe, of all things. This is nothing new, i admit. But new understandings within physics, and quantum entanglement support many of the principles Wilson put forward in his books since 1959, and his essay ‘Joyce Tao’ Wilson explicitly recommended the symbol systems of James Joyce, Aleister Crowley and Albert Einstein in both his non-fiction, and fictional works.
The real fun stuff here seems to lie in the prospect, to me, of Zizek unravelling Wilson’s literary styles and hologrammic prose to discover a familiar upbeat dialectical political language of resistance together with Lacanian, symbolic and meta symbolic satire. I imagine the perverts guide to Illuminatus Trilogy! as a Sundance Film Festival smash.
Wilson used international banking cartels, obscure religious sects within religious sects and the history of the warfare between secret societies to drive home these ‘brain exercises’ and philosophical exercises, in which, i believe he was forcing his readers to think. Wilson, in my opinion, underneath his brilliant fictional hologrammic style of writing, was pushing almost precisely what i think Zizek promotes, or a part of what he is doing. Encouraging you to question everything, especially authority.
Arm yourself with self-augmented tools of perception. Learn to understand ‘negative thinking’ ‘quantum psychology/entanglement’ and ‘cognitive biases’ plus how the arts, film, poetry, painting, can extend these armaments to reach the others, to extend outside of your own limited perceptions. And together with the study of symbol systems (semiotics), ideogrammic method, sigil magick, graffiti and computer code, informed by the history of psychoanalysis, pivoting around Lacan, touching Wilhelm Reich, Jung and Wolfgang Pauli.
Joyce and Wilson have a lot to say about Synchronicity, and more specifically in the context of quantum mechanics and perceptual studies (cognitive studies, neuro-science etc.) See Wilson book ‘Coincidance’ 1988.
How would Zizek interpret the illuminati conspiracy and the historical trajectory of symbolic language within secret societies? Opration mind fuck, and CIA mind control informed by post-modernist ‘halls of mirrors’ Are both Wilson, Zizek, and Lacan? generally in step with Karl Popper’s principles from ‘The Open Society and it’s enemies? how about principles of minarchy (or smallest possible government)
How do their ideas about economics fair up together? does Wilson’s interest in the economic work of Silvio Gessel, and C.H Douglas, and Lysander Spooner resonate with Zizek? where do they differ. Does Zizek rate Dr Timothy Leary, and his 8 circuit model of consciousness, or such socio-psychological models?
How does Zizek view the psychedelic psychoanalysts? those like Stan Groff and Alan Watts to a degree, Leary and Wilson and Kessey and Lilly? if they can agree that reality is self-augmented by the symbol systems you communicate and signify with, then how does the psychedelic experience fit into this equation? And how does symbolic Magick fit into such an equation, and here we come to Wilson’s famous experiments in 1973 of mixing up the two. LSD plus crowleyan enochian magick, worked for him. Although with the fall out of high weirdness.
Now, Alan Moore implores all artists to realize they are better magicians than they think, and vice verso. Art and Magic are almost interchangeable terms, to Alan, and to Dr Wilson. Would Zizek agree that Magick, specifically enochian Magick is a functional performance by example of Lacanian principles, and of the the underlying principles of ‘quantum entanglement’ which in some sense describes the ancient concept of sympathetic magic. (spooky action at a distance?)
My extension and idea for you to consider, is to construct an international magickally charged street art campaign – the totality of each location as perceived by the artist, informed by Lacan, psychotherapy, Jungian symbolism, Occult symbolism and current street art and graffiti (Banksy, Space Invader, Jimmy Cauty, MauMau). In the tradition of Hakim Bey’s poetic terrorism. Exercising the dialectical phantoms and turning the tables, resolving opposites, breaking-inn, to leave a gift, filling in street potholes anonymously. Also the standard practise of distributing free food, books, music, texts, open servers, etc. Voluntary association and simply being an undeniable force for good.
To apply the sharpest most undeniably beautiful highly-charged symbolic messages in your environment can bring the charged symbol system off the page, and out of a book or computer, into the shared outside environment. This, a new linguistically charged design intervention, anonymous, beautiful, relative. Powered by the artistic and disciplined ‘resolution of opposites’, in resonance with the quantum world and the psycho-social environment. Now i digress.
Is Finnegans Wake probably the best performance by example, of Lacan’s philosophy of language and perception? How is James Joyce, and his global epic relative to us today? who else, other than yourself (Zizek) Wilson and Joyce can find the fun in all of this fossilised poetry? what else qualifies as a tale of the tribe, in your opinion, a global epic including history, a complex of languages, yet once more informed by semiotics, psychoanalysis and modern pop cultural tropes? I would argue ‘Jerusalem’ by Alan Moore! Who demonstrates he is equally well versed in semiotics as any scholar from any institution or university faculty, plus historian, plus world class story teller, a mixture hard to beat in a universe augmented by the metasymbolic ‘mythos’ of human imagination. As with the works of Wilson. Here are a number of texts on Lacan and Joyce, and Zizek.
“Reality is whatever you can get away with.–Robert Anton Wilson.
“What does Lacan’s thesis on “Joyce-the-symptom” aim at? Joyce’s famous statement that he wrote Finnegans Wake in order to keep literary historians busy for the next 400 years has to be read against the background of Lacan’s assertion that, within a psychoanalytic cure, a symptom is always addressed at the analyst and as such points forward towards its interpretation. The “modernism” of Joyce resides in the fact that his works, at least Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, are not simply external to their interpretation but, as it were, in advance take into account their possible interpretations and enter into dialogue with them.–Zizek,