going through the social fantasy

I'd like to qualify my response to Anonymous. There seems to be way in which Zizek conceives of knowledge itself being destructive to ideology. Specifically, he seems to view understanding "the logic of enjoyment" (125) as antithetical to ideology, and, consequently, enjoyment. Earlier, Zizek writes that, "It is also clear why Facism was so terrified of psychoanalysis: psychonalysis enables us to locate an obscene enjoyment at work in this act of formal sacrifice" (82). Aside from conjuring up images of Lacan-cum-Neo exploding digitized Nazis in bullet-time, this seems to be a pretty explicit way in which knowledge the workings of desire, fantasy constituted founded on an impossibility, is in itself destructive. I wonder how similar this strategy is to Foucault's project in History of Sexuality. I also wonder what is left over once we have "gone through the social fantasy" – what happens to society when this displacement masking its fundamental impossibility is dissolved? On the level of the subject, going through the fantasy leaves only the death drive, but what happens on the social level? These questions might stem from my confusion regarding Jouissance as distinct from enjoyment.

I'm only going to try to address the very last point - about the difference between jouissance and enjoyment - because I'm still a little hazy on the stuff in between. here's what I got:

In discussions around media (ie: i'm a nerdy media studies major and gonna milk it for a moment) we tend to speak about the difference between 'plaisir' and 'jouissance.' Plaisir is seen as this more conservative indulgence, an enjoyment of the traditional fashion: hating on the ridiculousness of reality television and tuning in weekly for 'Project Runway,' finding the racial dynamics of pop music problematic but consistently indulging in mainstream hip hop, etc. 'Jouissance' on the other hand is this more bodily, acultural sense of bliss that is separate from meaning - it is a disruptive moment when we react through pure physical response. In this framework, 'plaisir' is seen as the reward for complacency and compliance; 'jouissance' is a bodily enjoyment much less implicated in the socialization of ideology.

Or is it? And this is where both the Lacanian reading breaks with this more established dichotomy. 'Jouissance' in this reading becomes this fleeting moment when the see-er is made aware that s/he is seen. It is when your investment in the gaze, the 'plaisir' becomes unexpectedly disrupted, and you come to see your self as the looker being looked at. Your plaisir indulgence has been marked, and yet this, too offers a sort of disruptive enjoyment. It is the enjoyment we get from knowing that our own looking, our own engagement becomes the subject.

I know this is a bit removed from the text, but it aided me in connecting Zizek's assessments of desire and fantasy. Do others see the connection between this articulation of enjoyment and Zizek's writing on latent desire, etc.?

I also wondered how to relate (82) to Zizek's former analysis of how cynicism creates a condition in which simply understanding the inconsistencies of the claims a particular ideology makes isn't all you need to evade its reach. It seems that Facism's terror would be misplaced, judging by his earlier analysis. Or am I misapplying his insights from that section? Does he mean to define these examples (juries, facism, pascal's wager) as special instances where knowledge itself does, in fact, directly affect action independent of any kind of cynical barrier?

Whenever I have an issue with one of the million new terms postmodern authors create I refer to my favorite source of info: wikipedia.


The only problem with wikipedia in these situations is that it gives you an actual definition of the word and doesn't apply it into the context of the reading. So while jouissance means something along the lines of pleasure to the point of pain, it does quite reach the explanation of how Zizek uses it in his piece. That being said, the definition provides a basis to form some sort of analysis of Zizek's use of the word. In this instance, I think jouissance is something like when pleasure turns to pain while watching The Office or The Hills. Both happen when the show goes from being awkward/funny to awkward/painful. Take The Hills for example when Whitney has to present her pitch to the New York office for the teen vogue party. Its hilarious because she is so ill prepared for it, but then it gets to the point of painful when you have to watch her stumble around her words for five minutes.

On the subject of plaisir, I don't have a recollection of its context and was wondering if you had a page number for it...

Plaisir wasn't necessarily discussed - i was bringing in outside info from other similar discussions around the politics of pleasure/enjoyment. I thought it would be useful to define 'plaisir' because it seems more in line with the understanding of 'enjoyment' that people seem to be referring to. If we can begin to think of plaisir as complicated within the conventional understanding of pleasure, it leaves us more space to navigate Zizek's use of 'jouissance.'

If you're still interested, I (and I'm sure more appropriately, KF) can give you some more sources that talk specifically about plaisir.

I also confused jouissance and enjoyment while reading SOI... I think that in Zizek's use of jouissance, he draws on the idea of the sublime. The object that a subject fantasizes about is the Other's unattainable jouissance--this is a sublime object. This didn't especially help me detach jouissance from enjoyment, but it did help me rethink my former understanding of jouissance from the same media theory reading to which Anonymous is possibly referring...

Another question: does Zizek's Real relate to Baudrillard's real--as in, "Terrorism is always of the real"? I think someone broached this topic or a similar one regarding psychoanalysis in our Baudrillard discussion, and I can't remember the conclusion (if there was one).

This is the question I raised in class awhile ago. KF's answer was no - Zizek is using the category of Real according to (his reading of) its Lacanian significance, i.e. the monstrous, non-symbolizable aspect of experiences that traumatically ruptures the folds of everyday (ideological) life. Who knows what Baudrillard's doing.

The way that I've understood the concept of jouissance is kind of like the physical pleasure that all bodies across culture and time can experience. It is an enjoyment that is bodily (i.e. there are tears of joy, orgasms, etc.).

John Fiske in his book "Televsion Culture" give a good definition of jouissance that has helped me understand it and its play in Zizek's text:

"Jouissance occurs at the moment of the breakdown of culture. Sexual orgasm of the moment when the the body escapes culture, or at least, makes that escape appear possible. The body and its sensualities oppose subjectivity, they provide a pleasure that is not to be found in the subject and its construction in culture by ideology." (Fiske 229)

From this definition, it seems that jouissance is mystifying in that it is a type of pleasure that is not instructed by cultural ideology . . . anyone can experience the pleasure of orgasm (or be moved to tears by a sappy scene in a movie, even though what's going on isn't terribly tear-jerking).