Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rampant Infantilism

It's okay warszawa: if symbolic efficiency is really in decline - if this is not just the illusion of people who need to suck truth, the whole truth or nothing but the truth directly from the nipple of the New York Times or wallow in bewilderment (if it won't think for them, no thought is possible as they refuse to think for themselves like adults) - then there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Without highly efficient symbolic function, no military order can be understood or carried out, no banking transactions can occur, no oil or real estate can be owned from afar, no wage contract can be created or enforced - no means and no motive for military aggression and massive violence can exist when the capacity of signs to refer is unreliable. Besides, Bush enjoys being stupid and may order an assault on Irene.

On the other hand, it may be that the confusion is a willed infantilism stemming from panic, from not wanting to surrender the childish belief that "the answer is in our hearts", that everything is for the best, Good invariably has the wherewithal to triumph over Evil by simply attaining pure intellectual virtuousness and discarding its illusions, and that things are never as bad as they seem. Instead of saying "I don't want to know, I don't want to understand, I can't think for myself if the mass media abandons me, I don't want to be responsible", the infantilised can cry "I can't know, I can't understand, I am alone in a world of terrifying illusions" and call that mature and sane.

You would think there was no more fitting object imaginable for psychoanalysis than this insistent, even aggressive declaration of permanent perplexity as an evasion of responsibility and adulthood, and the concurrent denoucement of all who refuse its cradle comforts as psychotic. But...that's not what the Lacanian decoder ring is for.


  1. Thanks, qlip. (I discern your form dimly through the shade...) I was baffled by this alleged "decline in symbolic efficiency" and was wondering how anyone managed to read the NYT, fill in the application for the research grant, or press the right buttons on the remote control. Or indeed write a paper and then even read it.

    Just today, I saw a kid on the street raise his middle finger to another kid on the other side of the street. A chase ensued, so certain symbols seem to be functioning quite efficiently for the moment. Funny thing is, George Bush does the same thing all the time and nobody's chasing him.

    - w.

  2. jodi actually used as an example of the decline of symbolic efficiency once that she met a guy at a party; they both thought the NYTimes had declined in quality, but she thought it was too right and frank rich was still worth reading, and he thought it was too left and frank rich was a leftist extremist.

    i wanted to say "jodi, you can begin to talk about the decline in efficiency when neither of you is sure what 'the new york times' means". even today, among bike messengers is an address; among pressmen it's an employer; in financial circles its a set of assets; in her clique there was no question that it was anything but the actual print matter in the newspaper. how can this be sign of decline? so symbolic efficiency is when everybody has one single harmonious thought which they derive from mass media? when was this efficiency in existence? there is less debate now in the US on political matters than ever in history.

    its sad to see it admitted though, so frankly: the mass media no longer tells me exactly what to think, and therefore I have to give up thinking. Doing it on my own is too scary and probably impossible.