18 January 2007

Apocalypse-- Returning to the Real

Dejan over at Cultural Parody Center has an interesting take on the ubiquity of apocalyptic narratives in contemporary culture:
Here I have to think about the devastating effects of virtualization. When the barebacking trend started on the sex scene, it appeared a form of ''the nostalgia for the Real'', where the barebacking subject evokes the bliss of ''authentic contact'' through the skin. (I think this also happens in the apocalyptic fantasies of Sinthome's clients. In their nitty-gritty imaginings of urban dystopia, they are trying to ''get back in touch'' with some authentic life substance; a lot like the young brutalists' idea of the ''concreteness'' in ''really-existing'' socialism of yore... )
For Lacan, of course, the real must not be confused with reality. Where reality is understood as a combination of the symbolic and the imaginary characterizing the familiarity of our everyday lifeworld, the real is to be properly understood as the impossible or those formal deadlocks that haunt the symbolic and prevent its closure. I am not, of course, suggesting that Dejan misses this. Dejan's point seems to be that reality is always already virtualized, such that this "nostalgia for the real" is always beset by the return of the real in the formal Lacan sense: The return of inherent impossibilities and antagonistic deadlocks.

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