The signifier is a sign over a phantasm –
a (chain of) signifier(s) over a signified –
a symbol(ic) over an image(inary)
The whole S/I or S2/S1 complex is itself floating on nothing but the Real – made up of bits of the Real. “We” do not know this.
S1 the master signifier founds and props up “reality” in a given locale – screening out the Real – but it (necessarily) must have been repressed or forgotten. When the master signifier loosens, the real (R) erupts. When it dissolves madness might ensue as too much of the real. But navigate the real and write it directly from the Real to the Semiotic – this is another writing – writing the real – with letters, gestures, diagrams.
…to perform theory like Nietzche or Lacan – miming the real – signing the drive: “I am not a poet but a poem being written.” (Lacan)
Klossowski makes this clear in his elucidation of Nietzsche – the aphoristic style is to make a stab – little stabs at happiness – the gay science – another role of the dice – but a role of the dice will never abolish chance. The impulse wills, but in the human the impulse wills the phantasm which is then signified – one, two, three. What is the difference between this phantasm signified and signed. The master signifier emerges simultaneously with its representations – the signifying chain of the symbolic. Whose phantasm is the master signifier’s. This imaginary that stops up the hole of the real – necessarily repressed to set the game in motion. But once and for all? Of course not. Hence the symptom – which insists.
To honor the symptom by giving it a name is to count to four – or vice-versa. It is because the symptom IS, that we need to count to four. It will not be contained in any balanced account of three, two, or one dimension. Is counting to four enough to recognize the plus-one? Is counting to four enough to count 4, 5, 6 …. to the infinite multiple. Lacan thought so. Culturally and clinically counting to four puts the whole structure of 3-D civilization into question: “Why is everything swallowed up in the most mundane kinship? Why do the people who come to speak to us in psychoanalysis speak to us about that? Why does psychoanalysis orient the people it calms towards memories of childhood? Why isn’t it oriented towards an alliance with a poate….” (Lacan) If the analyst holds the place of uncertainty then he does not see the symptom as a failure of the symbolic order but something new – the emergence of a particular creation finding no outlet in the meaning of the Other – rather a meaningless signifier that cannot find its place in the collective agreement – seeking a minor language. If the symptom is the drive defined by the Other, then the sinthome is the drive signed, mimed, sung and danced.
“Language is first of all the simulacrum of the external resistance of others.” (Klossowski) In that case the symptom is a particular resistance to that resistance – perhaps the real knocking at the window – the drive unconvinced of the symbolic. So instead the simulacrum: poetics as “a concerted action by man which puts into effect the treatment of the real by the symbolic” (Lacan) – provided that this symbolic is the larger semiotic of the simulacrum and certainly not the symbolic of the Other – rather the hyper-symbolic – not a preverbal one or two but a hyperverbal four. How is it that we can count to four if not by poetics or mathematics – letters and diagrams – signed by a proper name – a meaningless signifier.
“I try to say that art is beyond the symbolic. Art is a kind of know how, the symbolic at the heart of creating. I believe that there’s more truth in the saying that is art than in any amount of blah-blah-blah. That doesn’t mean that it’s created in any old way. And it’s not pre-verbal. It’s verbal to the second power.” (Lacan)
Brion Gysin and William Burroughs found that there were certain techniques of making a cut in the image(inary) and symbol(ic) which would reveal the real – allow the new to emerge. They were aware that they had stumbled on to certain practices used by occultists of other cultures – not to mention the dadaists and surrealists who were their peers. Here are poet-artists elucidating their practic. Of course one does not have to elucidate a practice for it to work as Lacan said of the unnamed analyts…
Act: Rub out the word
Result: Exteriorization from the body
How: At first automatic excercise
Act: Cut up – the word, the image
Result: T(un)ravel … the real
“Mental automatism is normal! If one begins to say something to himself…why shouldn’t that slip towards mental automatism? All the same…nature isn’t as natural as all that. That’s even what the rotting that we generally call culture consists of. Culture in a Petri dish, as I already mentioned to you.” (Lacan)
Lacan reverses the stakes at the end. What’s mad is normal and what’s natural rots – along with culture – eventually it rots and the new feeds on the death of the old. The drive insists.
“The question is worth asking – at what point is one mad?” (Lacan)