This blog is dedicated to extending the imaginary biography of the partial object.
Monday, October 19, 2009
The Shadow Takes a Vacation
A short circuit occurs when there is a faulty connection in the network—faulty, of course, from the standpoint of the network's smooth functioning. Is not the shock of short-circuiting, therefore, one of the best metaphors for a critical reading? Is not one of the most effective critical procedures to cross wires that don't usually touch: to take a major classic (text, author, notion) and read it in a short-circuiting way, through the lens of a minor" author, text, or conceptual apparatus ... what such a reading achieves is not a simple "desublimation," a reduction of the higher intellectual content to its lower economic or libidinal cause; the aim of such an approach is, rather, the inherent decentering of the interpreted text, which brings to light its "unthought," its disavowed presuppositions and consequences.—Slavoj Zizek, "Series Forward," Short Circuit Series
The theme and premise of this blog is to expand the idea and role of the Lacanian "partial object" in the same way newspaper comic strips expanded the role of fictional characters through misadventures played out through panes/pains whose frames they even sometimes violated and certainly mimicked. Not only is the partial object as comic book character the model for our times, where we encounter such characters everywhere, but a tourguide for our thoughts, which resemble those of the main character in Saramago's novel, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, a man disturbed for the simple reason that the author of the book in which he is a character has died. This situation constitutes better than any other I know the Lacanian dilemma of "the condition of not knowing one is dead," which is the basis of what is called defective narration. Contrary to James Wood in How Fiction Works, I argue that this is not comparatively rare case in fiction but in fact the existential condition of our times. We all walk as shadows whose accustomed companion and generator went away on holiday and never came back.
If detachment of a thing and its index starts the business of defective narration, the collapse of distance carries it into pane after pane of misadventure, and since the blog and the comic strip are born cousins, the best way to regard this form of seriality is a set of unfinished stories.
Donald Kunze has taught architecture theory and general arts criticism at Penn State University since 1984. He is currently working on “screen theory,” a graphical approach to problems of the boundary in art, architecture, and geographical imagination.