In-Between The Law & Transgression: Desire, Ethics, & Symbolic Destiny in Psychoanalysis

04/22 – Stillpoint, Issue 010: Judge

The figure of the law has a special significance in psychoanalysis, as it intimates not just the law that regulates the social body, but the network of signifiers by which the symbolic is constituted. It is the installation of this symbolic law that allows the lacking, and hence desiring, subject to be constituted as such. This is the infamous act of castration, as the introduction of “the third” (the signifier) that separates the child-mother dyad and allows the subject to enter into the symbolic, and the social order in turn, as a desiring subject. Through giving up access to their enjoyment of the mother and her body and taking up language, the infant can assume subjecthood and become a full member of the social order. The act of castration though, of course, is a traumatic one, leaving its mark on the subject.  – Full text available here 


The Team of Six Million

11/20 – Counterfutures, Issue 10
In such a way, the returnee and the antagonisms that they represent should be understood as part of broader political contestation around the demos and the border, and hence tied up with the plight of both the migrant and the refugee. In a state of crisis, even those whose membership of the demos appears to be given, such as the citizen living abroad, becomes conditional and subject to political contestation. Within such states of crisis, agonistic relations run the risk of becoming antagonistic, as the them can quickly become recast as the enemy. – Full text available here

The Preset, the Generic, and an Ambivalent Politics of Non-Production

10/20 – Plates Journal, Issue: 02 Cipher 

“As cultural production has been increasingly subsumed into digital and networked platforms in recent decades, it has become over-coded by processes of automation and standardisation that remain largely opaque to the user. These complex algorithmic processes that underlie the graphical user interfaces that we (the non-technical user or end-user) interact with are simplified and made legible to us as “presets.” Thomas Smith is a Melbourne-based artist, electronic musician, and researcher whose work explores these processes and the increasingly uncanny position we find ourselves in as subjects enmeshed in ever-present networks of control. Employing his notion of the preset as a departure point I sat down with Smith to discuss his work and how it explores the broader socio-technological tensions at play within contemporary networked capitalism.” – Full text available here                        

Viral Subjects

04/22 – Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, 17 (1) 

In line with the directives of our governments, we wash and sanitize our hands, becoming increasingly conscious of what and who we interact with, even attempting to intervene in and prevent our own autonomic gestures such as touching our face. These immunological acts of cleanliness take on an almost religious fervor, as we repeat them superstitiously in the hope that they will prevent us from infection – reducing a risk that can be hedged but never fully eliminated. As Freud ob-served, such repetitive acts of ritual purification are seen not only in religious ritual but also in the behaviors of the obsessional-neurotic as they try to impose order on the contingency of the external world. Freud’s famous example of such obsessional behavior from Beyond the Pleasure Principle comes to mind, where a small child sublimates their frustration with their inability to control the appearance or disappearance of their mother onto a toy, which they make disappear and reappear to their satisfaction — fort-da. – Full text available here

The Danse Macabre: The Covid-19 Pandemic & The Allocation of Risk Under Capitalism

04/20 – &&&
“By the terms of the field of existential risk studies, the pandemic is currently only a global catastrophic risk, one below a true existential risk on its scale of risk analysis. We will be faced by true existential risks in the future, without doubt. Various allusions have been drawn between the current pandemic and the unfolding ecological crisis — the biggest existential risk humanity has yet faced. As a resident of Eora Nation, Sydney, Australia, who lived through the 2019 – 2020 bushfire season, one of unprecedented scale in which our government was grossly negligent in its responsibilities to the public, the inability of our current political-economic structures to address such existential risks seems all too apparent. No sooner had the catastrophic bushfire season ended and the smoke cleared than the pandemic began to rear its head on the horizon — the masks we used to protect ourselves against toxic bushfire smoke would be repurposed to serve as protection from the virus.” – Full text available here