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The Kiss of the Real and Lacan's Ego Death

Part I
Rebecca Bauknight

Cindy Sherman from her self- portrait collection.
The exploration of some of the most compelling art and writing of our times we witness identity
shattering and crumbling, we witness unprecedented anxiety over the death and resurrection
of identity as we have known it. There are so many absorptions and perpetrations of
knowledges, thoughts, information circulating at unprecedented and dizzying speed through
the advancements in social media. The absurdist writings of David Wallace Forster and Chuck
Palahnuik, as well the art of Cindy Sherman, the new surrealism digital pop movement with Ray
Caesers polyperverse sexualized girls in Victorian settings along with the grrrlesque poetry
movement indicates a surrealist trend reminiscent in America of post- war Europe when
surrealism erupted. The ethos and ambiance in these styles speak to the bits and pieces of the
subject in states that accentuate moving identities. Identities moving like sand, flowing
sometimes cutting the fingers. There is no longer a continuity of self to hold or behold. The
institution dissolves, the past dissolves, the world dissolves. The I dissolves.
Art gives way to an expression of a much longer periods of time that we inhabit non- identity
states. As subjects come to terms with myriad identifications in relation to the global
perspectives and knowledge that hatchet identification markersidentity that had been much
less defined by outside influences before the internet.
Before 9/11, war, violence, poverty has been an aspect of other locations in the worldwhere
perhaps there is less tolerance for the pains of an adolescence/capitalism nation that knows it
now can never drive so fast again at night drunk and unconscious of horrific consequences. The
art I wish to explore here speaks to a location and a time that questions what befalls all
identities. In this art there is not a punctuation or a wrapping up or a solution, rather as the title
of David Wallace Forsters novel suggests there are in these expressions a horrific interminable
Infitnite Jest .
I believe within this larger questioning of identification isms such as feminsim also moves
through a questioning and puzzling period. Perhaps, taking pause to express what it is that is so
perplexing about belonging and not belonging or to ask where one belongs now ?. What can
one count on as solid ? But perhaps it is in this expression of violence and vileness that is
depicted, the subject rather than pushed by an Other to claim any allegiance in belief to what
promises a future, rejects and pushes back any wholesale promise or optimism from an Other
about her place in the world. Rather than cordoning herself off as the non- polluted, pure,
authentic, malleable, undefnined and the male as the polluted, precision wielding non- lacking
phallus who will write or ride the world, there is within grrrlesque a language that gives way to
her soiled and murderous pulsations, like new cards, she toys with different combinations
within a larger play of signifyers, not sure of what to do with them, and at the same time she
allows the clichs of girlness, and the gaze of the Other to keep gazing. She keeps looking at
her cards as so many signifiers that she can offer up.
We note gurlessque poet Kathy Wagner's (2004) ode to Bataille:
Macular Hole
Please god love me and buy me
Read this hillock and ride me
Wraith typing all day for money.
God bought me today for two silver fish in a can
God bought me tomorrow for bland in a pan
and a card an email from Rebecca
Bought four hours of my control alt delete shut down
Bought a new day-section with a headstand
My commerce in shall
Sky like a grandstand
God performed me today for a half minute
in locker room hiding my boobs from the kids
and my hair is silky and my mane shot silk gold
Bought a book on economy
Georgie Bataille
Called about plane tickets
Georgie Bataille
I bought my debt today
Georgie Bataille hooray
Debt off my God today
God off my debt in a macular hole
I dream of an end like a fount to this night
Run thinner and thinner and then its all light
Macerated in signal
by my go
I bought my ghost I walk my ghost

What moves through her language circuit is a sense she is carving of the relationship with her
body and the world. These art works serve not simply as a catharsis or mirror. Much of what
the thought world offers on existence moves us into a Kantian phallic economy of goods. We
want to identify with being on the side of the good in this world of horror of course. We risk
identifying with good thinking as good thinking subjects through a tendency of jouissance to
give into demand, yet again to accommodate the next best appearing phallus. Particularly as
institutions, nations, identies become questions. But grrrlesque is in service of the Lacanian cut
as she pulls the rug from beneath us. The Narcissistic supply is empty. She returns us to
I am using a capital Z to differentiate mark prior feminism into something other. A state of
feminiZm that coalesces through another time in its language as grrrlessque marks a new style,
song, being expressed through females that is xtra- ordinary, surplus, planting what was always
considered the perverse into herself as now both voyeur and victim of the crime scene, along
with wording her pleasure in her sadistic imaginings.
When Aylin Bloch Boynukisa writes in The Geneology of the Girl Organ: I change course with
my porcelain eye/my blinking gigantic doll eye, its a change of course I can believe in. The
statement is filled with the irony, that what is believable today is the unbelievable. This we can
have an assurance about. We might say that this art signals a time to embrace the dream as
much closer to the real than any conscious thought. The social political fabric through which
reality would be constituted or held was for the surrealist unreal and dangerous. The surrealist
rejected in a sense any political reality as the real. Grrrlesque gives us pause. We need
I would argue that we see in this movement a re- engagement with the phallus. She is wielding
the mythic phallus. She is separating the phallus from the reality biology historical political
body, which is so easily ensconced in the imaginary and symbolic, from the real. In allowing a
belief in the imagination as very separate from the truth of her body in the realshe as a
speaking subject now has the freedom to reemerge on the side of desirerather than
continually being taken up by demand. Through the surplus and the gift of the feminine
jouissancethe surplus jouissanceshe as subject can exist, live, be resurrected and experience
life as a subject in desire as opposed to demand.
She moves us from the time of The Desert of the Real into a time of The Kiss of the Real in
the time of Lacan. We move into the later Lacans notion of the Lacanian surplus. In this Kiss
we cut. Kiss and Cut. Cut and Kiss Off allowing utmost extimacy.
Lacan recognized that a surplus is left over from subjects division by language .and is cast off
into what appears to be an exterior by the conscious subject who experiences internalized and
externalized self. The cast off object a then moves about through appearances of the elusive
thing that is impossible to bare. Our gaze locks on objects of desire. An object that becomes
increasingly regulated within the structuration of the oedipal subject into social symbolic
worldthat structures and limits transgressions, deadly impulses, taboos. The thing the
commodity this includes thought what appears to fill up from the outside in
recognition.love, revolution, money, meaning is always siphoned off of what we cant have in
reality of our unconscious wishesthat which is connected to the transgressive impulse of eros.
We go after things in substitution stumbling on what will never make the mark. We go after a
objects in the real imagining futures that allow what reality will never will.
Psychoanalysis simply amplifies this structure of what is impossible about the object of the aim
to be possessed. The surplus is operating always outside of the phallic economy and will never
be gathered there. But it can be gathered. These expressions of art where dissolution, the
non- whole, the fragment, the alien existsthere is a possibility of another kind of gathering
through a surplus that transports in the economy of the feminine jouissance. The gathering of
a subject. Through dissolution. Moving on the side of desire rather than to the tune of demand.
This encounter, the transversalis the eventalit is intimate and immanent. It is the sacred.
There is no longer a thing to make an object out of including the object of the self. This event
of dissolution before words, beyond words, between words signed as in sign through these
revelatory expressions in the art and writing world offer representations of identity liquidation.
Shards of identity like so many pieces of broken glass coming and going float the subject out
into the edges of identity through which the self is founded In this there is the non- self.as of
a being that is universal. It is not an empty place as in a desert. It is the inhuman not yet formed
in letters. It is a whirl. It is that which is turned away from locked up, tortured, beaten. Warred
against..murdered in the form of the Other...abjected, feared and run from at the advent of
signification and formation of the ego. It is in motion. It is pulse. It is the horrible of the egos'
goodnessit is the darkness of the enlightened consciousness it is the before of the
sublimation necessitated by the ego that moves representations into the higher and good
realms of thought that turn so easily away from eros, death, the unconscious. The distant
pathos of dissolution where intellect cannot reason the irrational and the unthinkable of what is
of and not of the phallic. The surplus haunts...the surplus...dissolvesIt is movingIt is calling.
jouissance in Lacan, I would say, is made of two parts: a signifiable part, and a non-
signifiable part. And that condition gives a place to the other jouissance, the other-than-phallic
jouissance, and that's why Lacan would give a place to feminine sexuality not by revealing a
feminine signifier but by taking into account small "a" as surplus jouissance. J.A.Miller.
Published on Nov 7, 2012
"In Nervous Device, Catherine Wagner takes inspiration from William Blake's "bounding line"
to explore the poem as a body at the intersection between poet and audience. Using this figure as
a model for various sexual, political, and economic interactions, Wagner's poems shift between
seductive lyricism and brash fragmentation as they negotiate the failure of human connection in
the twilight of American empire." Introduction to reading at City Arts.
To view Catherine Wagners' work I have included the following link.

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