On the Verge
It was my friend Sergio Benvenuto who first suggested about the notion of homeland. My initial reaction was that I would have to write directly in English, although nothing coherent would likely come of this venture. The idea seemed to be on the verge of the impossible from the get-go.
The second proposal was radically different from the first. It came from colleagues in Kiev and did not involve writing but speaking at a conference. I was faced with a dilemma. On the one hand, the topic of homeland was something I found congenial, because one way or another I had been writing about it for many years. On the other hand, as soon as the topic was presented to me as such—homeland—two words immediately came to mind: intimacy and impossibility. Meaning the topic was not just close to my heart, but so close to my heart that I felt terrified about writing about it. Despite this ambivalence, this topic has not ceased to discharge itself in my writing.
I see homeland as an intimate topic, a much too intimate topic, and so I find talking about it nearly impossible, let alone for the voice to find its own face. It is one thing to write, another, to speak, and yet another, to speak in public.
Everything will probably emanate from these two words, intimacy and impossibility. I have agreed to talk about homeland because psychoanalysis encourages and even demands frankness. It urges us towards what is nearly impossible to talk about. Moreover, psychoanalysis always already involves self-analysis. Of course, nowadays, a period in which the subject has been radically objectified, this is not recalled so often.
The fact that the topic is intimate, in particular, implies that anything discussed herein has relevance only to my own story, to a quite singular instance. I am simply trying to understand what this word homeland means to me. Perhaps I am thus trying to understand my whole life.
Since the topic is homeland, intimacy, in my case, suggests less a particular place, even if it is a topological place, and more the trajectory of a quest, an incessant movement back from the future and, at the same time, an immersion into an abyss reminiscent of a katabasis, an odyssey. As Adorno and Horkheimer write in Dialectic of Enlightenment, “Homeland is a state of having escaped.” If we imagine a topological structure that includes me as subject and homeland as something desired, an objet petit a, then the extimate nature of intimacy comes to mind. Homeland is both inside and outside me. This mental turn immediately suggests the impossibility of separating the notions of self and homeland. The fact that homeland, borrowing Lacan’s wording, is “extimate” underlines the impossibility of building this conversation around binary oppositions. This deconstructive topology singles out the process of subjectivation rather than the search for a particular place. Homeland, in fact, is attained in deterritorialization itself.
Severing the Umbilical Cord
The notion of the objet petit a has manifested itself here due to intimacy and due to the fact that the topic under discussion, homeland, is a topic I find impossible. From these considerations it follows I imagine homeland as a place where the symbolic and the real are joined. Freud describes it as a mycelium and an umbilical cord. The umbilical cord of dreaming: that is the homeland.
Here is the first excerpt from The Interpretation of Dreams where Freud mentions the umbilical cord as a non-localized place of contact with the real. The dream in question is “Irma’s Injection.” Curiously, Freud first writes about the umbilical cord in a footnote where he compares Irma with a female patient who opens her mouth “properly.”
I suspect that the interpretation of this portion has not been carried far enough to follow every hidden meaning. If I were to continue the comparison of the three women, I should go far afield. Every dream has at least one point at which it is unfathomable: an umbilical cord, as it were, connecting it with the unknown.
The umbilical cord is thus the place where the dream is connected with, and closely adjacent to, [zusammenhängt] the unknown [Unerkanten]. The unknown is what does not conform to the symbolic register, what is located on its verge. Freud was probably right not to pursue the three women: his eldest daughter, the female patient who does not open her mouth in vain, and Irma, who is reluctant to open it. Ultimately, this move leads to Martha and to mother.
Therefore, it is worth mentioning the three different women about whom Freud writes in “The Theme of the Three Caskets.” Or rather, he discusses three forms of the same woman: the mother, whose image is that of the one who gives birth; the one who becomes the love of our life; and the one who takes us into her womb forever.
We have not gone so far off topic; on the contrary, we have come to it. Homeland is the three shapes of the mother: birth, love, and the grave. The womb that gives life, the womb that defines life’s phantasm, and the womb that takes life away. One way or another, all of this remains hidden. In “The Uncanny,” Freud quotes from Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Deutsches Wörterbuch: “Heimlich parts of the human body, pudenda. […] ‘The men who did not die were smitten on their heimlich parts.’”
We return to Freud’s analysis of his dream about Irma. He is focused on her throat, her mouth, the site capable of speech. However, instead of words, he sees a “white patch and turbinal bones with scabs on them.” It transpires the umbilical cord is between “the mouth [that] opens properly,” willing to say whatever comes to mind, and the white patch and scabs.
The metaphor of the umbilical cord is more than fitting in this instance. We find ourselves in the place where the subject is born, in the gap between the symbolic and the real. In the orifice between the threads of discourse and what emerges in alienation beyond them.
Unsurprisingly, Lacan confidently calls the umbilical cord of dreaming a chasm [béance], an abyss. Why? Because here, in the symbolic matrix, yawns the chasm into which it is impossible not to fall. It is a retrospectively emergent space-time interval. Let us take a look at the second excerpt from The Interpretation of Dreams in which the umbilical cord is mentioned.
There is often a passage in even the most thoroughly interpreted dream which has to be left obscure; this is because we become aware during the work of interpretation that at that point there is a tangle of dream-thoughts which cannot be unraveled and which moreover adds nothing to our knowledge of the content of the dream. This is the dream’s umbilical cord, the spot where it reaches down into the unknown. The dream-thoughts to which we are led by interpretation cannot, from the nature of things, have any definite endings; they are found to branch out in every direction into the intricate network of our world of thought. It is at some point where this meshwork is particularly close that the dream-wish grows up, like a mushroom out of its mycelium.
The umbilical cord is the birthplace. The homeland is the dream’s umbilical cord. So I will be referring to dreams, but first to an emergent dreamlike state that once threw me into an ancestral oneiro-mycelium in the Temple of Ether. There is thus nothing surprising about a rhizomatic net woven from unshaped thoughts. The voice of Bion resounds. The thoughts are there, but the device for shaping them has frozen in the Temple of Ether.
Here the yawning chasm of the birthplace emerges from the mycelium of desire, its very deterritorialization. Here is the pull, the longing, the tapas of desire. The Rigveda, which is quite relevant to my story, testifies that desire is the first seed of thought, and it was desire that set in motion the emergence of the world of differences.
Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning,
with no distinguishing sign, all this was water.
The life force that was covered with emptiness,
that One arose through the power of heat.
Desire came upon that One in the beginning,
that was the first seed of mind.
(Rigveda, Book 10, Hymn 129)
I should emphasize my thoughts of homeland are inevitably bound up with travel, movement in space, deterritorialization, deportation, and oneiroteleportation. I imagine homeland not as place, but as odyssey. It is always already related to displacement, deflection, and deviation. As a reminder of the time when I was born, my birthday has perpetually sent me to some other place. A couple of weeks before my birthday, I would begin shying away from a territorialized homeland.
It is no wonder that for many years I spent my birthday somewhere other than my official homeland. Birthday and birthplace were fundamentally separated. I could be somewhere near (Berlin, Milan or Amsterdam) or faraway (Paraguay, Bangkok or Tamil Nadu).
And once again the same thought and, at the same time, a different thought: birthplace is no place; it is deterritorialized. It is there on the edge of the lost continent where thoughts-and-desires “scatter in all directions.” Thoughts-and-desires light out from the territory, rushing towards the edges of blanks and even holes in the symbolic. Amid this flight, I see birthplace more as a symbolic concept than an imaginary place. There was probably some mistake, and I should have been born an Australian Aborigine or a Shaivite. It is clear, however, this person would have been someone else.
At this point, I feel like saying, “Don’t listen to the rest of the story!”
If you are still tuned in, here it is, the story of how I was carried off into the mycelium, the umbilical cord, the rupture between the symbolic and the real.
Defragmentation, Disorientation, and the Decay of Symbolic Coordinates
“From Schizoanalysis to Shivanalysis” (A Non-Dream), Chidambaram, December 12, 2012
On the evening of the last day of a nonstop journey round the temples in the state of Tamil Nadu, a land considered sacred to Shiva, we found ourselves in Natarajah Temple in the city of Chidambaram. I was in a state of presyncope, which differed little from a nightmare. It was not quite clear who I was or where I was. My head was in the midst of defragmentation, which seemingly had a quite remote relation to my own self. The process occurred of its own accord, as in a dream. The temple would change its appearance, now and then disappearing behind flashes of other images: a gloomy night amidst ice in the ocean; threatening gazes of а black hundred of seminarians; someone trying to break free from the ancestral deep freeze of an antediluvian creature; a cemetery of linga; a fiery eye; the letter ש glowing; the mugs of Rakshasas; an elephant man; Shiva worshippers spinning in circles; a spiral nucleus; a myriad of voices; a head turning.
A few thoughts occurred to the head, which turned out to be mine. They came later, when we left the Natarajah Temple (which in Tamil is called the Temple with a Capital T), walked a hundred meters, and finally stopped to drink a glass of tea, the second during the entire day, I think, a day that had begun at 5:45 a.m. in a completely different place, on the edge of the world in Kanyakumari, on the edge opposite the other edge, where I stood between windows on a windowsill, of which more later.
The thoughts I have to tell you whirled in the Temple’s mycelium, and they were formulated fragmentarily later, as we raced through the night and towards the luminous stream of oncoming traffic, within a continuous audio roll call among trucks, buses, motorcycles, and our tiny invisible Tata. The car tour of Shaivite shrines was coming to an end. My barely functioning thinking machine was having a rough time shaping thoughts as we put distance between ourselves and the Temple of Shiva, the one who is purified of all form, whose lingam is a form meant to symbolize formlessness. Vivekananda’s voice whispered, “Everything that has name and shape must die.” My name was the name of a dead soldier, but I think I have already told the story before.
Thoughts took shape, slackening their pace, as if they were eager to slow down our Tata’s slalom-like flight.
Two Twenty-Sevens on the Air
It is time to articulate the first, unexpected element I took away from the Temple. As usual, I found out later what it represented: ether. Maybe this thought was new to India, to the land of Tamil Nadu, which twenty-seven years ago seemed much more like home to me than the edge of the world where I had been born, an edge in front of a window staring at the pitch-black night in the ice of the Arctic Ocean. Twenty-seven years ago, the thought had occurred to me in Madras. I sat at night on the shore of the Indian Ocean and smiled. Here was my homeland. I had been mistakenly tossed to the other end of the same continent.
Now, twenty-seven years later, I was on the same end of the continent, which was not the same, and in the same city, which now had a different name, Chennai. The ocean looked completely differently, and I was not the same as I had been then, and the country I had come from then no longer existed either. To cut to the chase, the repetition had proven radically unrepeatable. As Kierkegaard writes, “I had discovered there was no such thing as repetition. I became aware of this by having it repeated in every possible way.” Later, he insists on repetition’s incomprehensibility. “Repetition is too transcendent for me. I can circumnavigate myself, but I cannot get beyond myself. I cannot find this Archimedean point.”
Twenty-seven years ago, I was convinced Madras was my homeland, for it was there I had finally felt at home. Now, however, I knew I had no homeland, if you did not count this severing of the umbilical cord. It was as if verifying whether this city was home or not was the last word on the topic. Madras or bust.
Then something happened in Madras, which I have already had occasion to recount, a strange event to which I would rather not return right now. In a nutshell, I ran into a soothsayer on the street, which caused me to lose my bearings and literally get lost for a time. I later turned up on a windowsill on the last floor of a hotel, mulling over whether life was worth living if some stranger could read it. Actually, he had not predicted anything; he had just told me about my past as it were. His story had been enough for me, and I had no desire to hear what he had to say about the future. As we parted, the soothsayer said, “If you don’t want to hear it, you don’t have to. See you in another life!”
Twenty-seven years later, I found myself in another life, in a parallel world, in transit from nowhere to nowhere. The soothsayer was absent from the interzone, and in fact I had forgotten all about him. What was the point of the soothsayer, when it was clear in any case that a person who was a stranger everywhere bore alienation in himself? I was a stranger, an outlander. I was in another life, and it was not a dream. This was the first thought I had come away with from the Ether.
Born in the Endless Nighthought
It was not just one thought, either. “A person is a stranger everywhere” and “a person who bears alienation in himself” are related thoughts, but not identical. Why, if I am a stranger everywhere, am I not myself? Because both thoughts had been articulated together in early childhood. Who am I? How did I get here?
There was no beginning in the beginning. The voice of Lacan says: in the beginning was place. The place ordained for me was the edge of the continent, the edge of the night, and questions about the omitted beginning stared back at me there on the windowsill of vast overwhelming darkness.
Before I was thrown into the world, there was no windowsill, no night, no me. It all happened instantly, suddenly, ex nihilo. And right away there was boundless longing on the edge of the continent.
The windowsill hit me with a cold and high temperature. With my body that hot, space outside the room endlessly expanded, telescoped, and receded; its nightmarishness had to with its being incalculable, incommensurable, and uncontrollable. Shapes would disintegrate before they could form. Forms flickered on the verge of deformation. I was experiencing the detonation of time, decaying and redeploying at an incredible speed. I was experiencing not only a night of “endless absence” but also the nightmarish dialectic of the destruction-and-creation of forms. It was a nightmare because the high-velocity flows of deformation, formation, and dispersal were nonstop, just as when I found myself.
I cannot say whether Freud is right or not when he argues, in his discussion of the theory of prostheses, that the dwelling is a surrogate for the mother’s womb, but the Natarajah Temple definitely appeared to be just that. The endless tunnels and passageways continually changed shape.
None other than Shiva disperses forms. Again and again, he atomizes them in boundless space. At first, appearance alternated with disappearance. Where Da was, Fort would appear in its place. Where A had been cast out, there O would cast a shadow. The O would break away, and I quickly grew smaller and lost myself, turning into a spiral nucleus of space dust. The night existed, but how could it exist if there was no day?
The Arctic Ocean’s night of the world is my native realm: an unimaginably unheimliche Heim. It is the brink of impossibility, the inextricable umbilical cord of the world’s end, decoupling the symbolic and the real. It is the continuously shifting ὀμφαλός, the center of the world. According to Derrida, the omphalos resembles the ear and the mouth: “It has the invaginated folds and the involuted orificiality of both.”
This rhizome, as Guattari would say, this mycelium, Freud would say, rhythmatized the space-time of cognition, extending to the infinite horizons of the unknowable. I was not born into the world, but into the dark night of the frozen ocean, over which resounded Hegel’s cry: “I am this night!”
Hearing the cry, I could not stop; I could not help but shout. I screamed and cried.
The endless night, the night without end spreads. Žižek responds to Hegel’s cry in this night of the world: “[T]he void of subjectivity is confronted by the spectral proto-reality of ‘partial objects,’ bombarded here with these apparitions of le corps morcelé. What we encounter here is the domain of pure, radical fantasy as pre-temporal spatiality.” Once again, the fragmented shapes of black night flow back: someone trying to break free from the ancestral deep freeze of an antediluvian creature; a cemetery of linga; a fiery third eye; the letter ש glowing, the mugs of Rakshasas; an elephant man.
The concept of the night of the world to which Hegel resorts at the very outset of The Philosophy of Spirit (Jena Lectures 1805–06) conveys the pure experience of self as “abstract negativity.” The night of the world is the “eclipse of (constituted) reality.” “The human being is this Night, this empty nothing[.] […] This night, the interior of nature, existing here—pure Self—[and] in phantasmagoric representations, this night is everywhere: here a bloody head suddenly shoots up and there another white shape, only to disappear as suddenly.” So, in The Metastases of Enjoyment, Žižek informs us on behalf of Hegel the subject is not the light of reason, the light of Enlightenment, but absolute negativity.
The space outside the window is the fascinating night of absolute negativity. I so want the Northern Lights to appear. And they do appear, accompanied by a chorus from Oedipus at Colonus.
Not to be born at all
Is best, far best that can befall,
Next best, when born, with least delay
To trace the backward way!
The Northern Lights disappear. Everything is plunged into darkness. Lydia Lunch’s voice resonates in the darkness. You were born in a cunt, and if your luck holds out you will die in one too.
In the Window
I still do not understand how I wound up on the windowsill with its view of stars under an immense frozen ocean. Who put me in the window on the edge of the night’s ocean? Where did I drop in from, from what unimaginable nothingness? As if nothingness were not one (no)thing. This memory of me on the windowsill is not mine.
One of my native realms is a phantasm woven from the words of my older brother. He remembers me lying swaddled, of course, between window sashes. I see the same picture differently. A naked tot, I stand between the window sashes, peering into the dark night of the world suspended over the Arctic Ocean.
My parents always laughed (which I appreciated, of course) when they recalled my biggest gripe against them: that they had had me in the wrong place. “Why, oh why did you not have me somewhere in Africa!?” I would ask them. Apparently, I thought it was sunny and warm there or that aliens just like me lived there. But the choice of the place where I was born, where I was thrown, was made without me and before I existed. I have no illusions about randomness or choosing the choice itself. There was no choosing the choice. Der Wurf ist getan: the die was cast when I was nowhere around. Only having lived twenty-seven years twice did I get an inkling that asking for a change in the place where you were thrown was not funny. When I was twenty or so, I came across a kindred notion in something Heidegger had written, Geworfenheit or thrownness.
What was the occasion of my being thrown into the world’s night on the very edge of the world? What was the misunderstanding that dropped me into this home of being, this abode of imported ghosts? This thrownness is a matter of chance. I have been thrown into this world at random and abandoned in it. My existence is my mine by virtue of its alienation from me. My Dasein has been cast into the world. It exists in the world among things and others, where the inevitability of its own extinction is revealed. Circumstances have thrown me, abandoned me, discarded me on the edge of the continent.
This is not a dream. What happened in the Temple of Ether was definitely not a dream. But the defragmentation and deformation of memory phases was like in a dream, registering the trajectories of flowing emergence. I was not asleep. I just woke up in the wrong reality.
Disoriented in the Ether. While Derrida discusses ontospeleology, oneirospeleology would be more fitting in this case. I found myself in caves within caves, and the caves within caves germinated within me. There was no foothold, nowhere to get my bearings, to grab hold of my internal spatial organization, my impossible disposition in space. Parts of the cave came to life. The surface was bursting with faces.
I had once again been thrown.
A person who is thrown can jump. You do not need anything, just a window. And you can do without Lacan’s voice. All you need is a collapsing rectangle. Dream! Don’t sleep!
“Plato Sends Spinoza a Frame,” Amsterdam, August 4, 2014
I dreamt a geometrical shape, a rectangle. That was all I remembered. I woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible fever, a half-opened rectangle in my mind’s eye.
What was a half-opened rectangle? Its corners were crevices, exits and entrances of sorts. There was one more thing: aside from the geometric shape, I saw and/or remembered the number 2.
The number 2 generated me. “In the beginning” there were two, my self and non-self, which shaped my self. In the beginning was co-birth, co-naissance. The self, which would discover itself thrown into the night of the world, was still to emerge from this dyad.
It is obvious why the non-birthplace (aka the uncanny, the locus suspectus of alienation) appears in the drawing of my Amsterdam dream. So I depart the dream in a “terrible fever,” although I am not sure the caption Unheimlich should be inside the frame, inside the opened frame.
The initial rupturing of the edges causes my terrible departure from the frame. The eyes contain darkness, loss. The phantasmal frame crumbles at the corners. The phantasm bursts at the seams.
The phantasm’s rectangular frame has been pried open. The space-time interval is out of joint. The frame has been pried open by the threatening approach of the object petit a, which maintains the invisible threads framing reality or oneiroreality, in this case. The collapse of the frame, even such a strictly geometric frame, indicates the loss of reality, the form-and-presence of dreaming. As it retreats, reality turns into an unreal nightmare. As if the window shatters in all directions, and the night of the world coagulates before surging and absorbing everything. Reality has no support. It has no ground. There is no dream at hand. Shiva does not return your gaze, provides no coordinates, looking neither right nor left. Only his third eye is fixed skyward. You cannot capture this gaze. You cannot play with Shiva at admiring the mirror stage. And the window in the night’s ocean is not a mirror.
But now I hear a calming voice:
The face in the mirror won’t stop
The girl in the window won’t drop
However, the first thought that occurs to me vis-à-vis the frame puts me in mind not of Shiva and his erect third eye, not of Lacan and his phantasmal frame, his window and my windowsill, but of Plato and his doctrine of the harmony of the spheres, which he relates in the form of the afterlife travels of a man named Er, who found himself in the interzone between two deaths.
Er was a warrior who fell on the battlefield. His soul, as soon as it was freed from the body, went to an awe-inspiring place where judges presided before two openings in a cliff. The judges ordered righteous men to go through the opening that went up into the heavens, while unjust men were sent through another opening going down to Tartarus. Unlike my dream, the openings in the earth were next to one another and, above them, two openings in the sky were also situated next to each other. It was something like a vertical highway.
The judges told Er he must tell the living everything he had seen, and what he saw between two deaths was the structure of the world. It is at this point that Plato discusses Ananke, goddess of necessity. The same goddess would find a place in Freud’s theories many centuries later, when he argued that Eros and Ananke govern relations in this world.
Er describes a shaft of light as the belt of the heavens. Freud would have called the belt the umbilical cord of dreaming. A belt pulls the heavens together. On the ends of the belt extends the spindle of Ananke, which imparts its rotational motion to the universe. Er describes in detail the motions of the spheres: whorls fitted onto a shaft that spins on Ananke’s knees. Sitting on the upper surface of the whorls are her daughters, the Sirens, who produce sounds, and the Moirai, who harmonize with them by singing. Each of the eight Sirens hums a single tone or note, thus producing one harmony. In fact, there can be no harmony in the minimalism produced by the Sirens and Moirai. Otherwise, Odysseus would not have had to lash himself to the mast.
The undead Er says the just are sent to heaven, while the unjust are sent to the netherworld. Only there are not two entrances and two exits, but one of each. This was what I dreamt the following night.
“Two Pairs,” Amsterdam, August 6, 2014
This dream was a commentary, as it were, to the dream I had two days before. It was a repetition with a difference. I was once again visited by a rectangle in my sleep, only now it had two openings, in the lower left-hand and upper right hand corners, not four, as in the previous dream.
This dream is a commentary, an interpretation in a dream, a recycling of the previous dream. It reminds us of something important: any form is a form of relations among forms. Form deforms form. Thoughts-and-desires appear to us in deformation, in Entstellung.
There were no mistakes in the first dream. First, Er speaks of one entrance and one exit, and later of two entrances and two exits: “Then he beheld and saw on one side the souls departing at either opening of heaven and earth when sentence had been given on them; and at the two other openings other souls, some ascending out of the earth dusty and worn with travel, some descending out of heaven clean and bright.” Purified from dirt and dust, souls descend from the heavens. The notion of purification itself is equally bound up with soul and body. When people want to emphasize there was no one in a particular place, they say, “There was not a soul in sight.”
There was not a soul in sight in either the first or second dream. Not a soul, not a body, not a narrative. The phantasm’s collapsing frame is both form’s transformation and its emptiness. The dream has no content; it is purely formal in nature. Shiva purifies the world of forms. Next, I wake into the dream of waking reality. A painfully familiar voice says confidently:
Cancel my subscription to the resurrection.
Born in Trauma and Creating a Counter Language: My Brother Gives Me the Code and Lacan’s Littoral
When I was in the first or second grade, a traumatic event happened at school, which I have described before and do not want to repeat. What mattered was that I reacted to the event by writing a “novel.” The trauma was written out, discharged, and yet it was not even the “novel” itself that was meaningful, as it was the code. I asked my brother to write English letters opposite the letters of the Russian alphabet, which he did. The “novel” was written in these letters and took up an entire school notebook. It was entitled KLOP (Bedbug), but I remember nothing about the contents. That notebook is another homeland.
I need my own language. It was if I already understood back in school there was no such thing a common tongue, a universal language. I need my own minor tongue, as Guattari calls it, if not to say my own melancholic (minornyi) idiom.
Again, I see myself on the windowsill, on the edge of the ocean. I hear Lacan’s voice.
“Is the letter not properly speaking littoral? The edge of the hole in knowledge that psychoanalysis designates precisely, when it tackles it, from the letter, is this not what it designates?”
“[T]he letter says literally (à la lettre), make no mistake, when all its interpretations can be summed up in enjoyment. Between enjoyment and knowledge, the letter might be the littoral.”
Lacan goes even further, and in this same lecture on letterature argues, “Writing, the letter, is in the real, and the signifier, in the symbolic.”
But in reply I hear a completely different voice, a kindred voice, you might say, a voice that waited for me almost “at the entrance,” on the littoral.
We could see quite a future for me in literal sand.
Psychoanalysis Is My Homeland
Psychoanalysis is my homeland. It would be better to say psychoanalysis is my faith. No, what I said was right: psychoanalysis is my homeland. Only we should understand psychoanalysis not as something established once upon a time by Freud, but as the resources he provided for constructing a psychoanalytical discourse in one’s native language.
It involves belief in the constellation of signifiers. Taking a cue from music, psychoanalysis says, “Stop looking for terrain, for firm ground under your feet.” I look at the sky and remember my closest friend when I was a young man, who once said if there was anything it made sense to look at in life, only the stars fit the bill. Not long ago, I found out my friend no longer lives beneath the stars. He drank more and more, until he was found dead in an armchair, an empty glass in his hand. He died and became a heavenly body. That is the voice of Pythagoras. In the Ether, the voice does not take shape.
Forms were wasted, transited into other forms, and were forfeited, as if in keeping with the fact that many linga possessed form and lost it in multiplicity. The lingam pointed to the fact that man should emancipate himself from his self-generated divisions of people based on heritage, race, profession, and wealth. Man must liberate himself from anthropocentrism. Psychoanalysis gives it a chance, and the chance of a homeland. Lacan’s voice:
This signifying game between metonymy and metaphor […] is played […] there where I am not, because I cannot situate myself there. That is to say, what is needed is more than these words with which, for a brief moment, I disconcerted my audience: I think where I am not, therefore I am where I do not think. […] What one ought to say is: I am not wherever I am the plaything of my thought; I think of what I am where I do not think to think.
Only this perennial non-coincidence, this perpetual non-simultaneous fall is the illusory mirror of my own self, the mirage of Maya. The Northern Lights outside my window are also Maya.
Maya is the incarnation of all illusion. She is the progenetrix of self. She is Shakti, the incarnation of energy. She is also Durga. She is Maya with the obscene smile. And there are no mugs of Rakshasas, except on Maya’s veil.
Maya is a veil? Yes, but there is nothing beneath it. Maya is reality? Yes. Maya is illusion, the fort/da-Sein. Perhaps not quite. Isn’t reality structured like a phantasm? Isn’t reality Maya’s veil, the tissue of the symbolic matrix?
Here we are faced with perennial problems of translation. Maya was translated as “illusion,” and Shiva as “destroyer” in Europe during the Enlightenment. It was thus, as “illusion” and “destroyer,” that the scientifically enlightened European mind translated these concepts. The European view was scientific and objective, and what else could it see in a land of barbarians if not illusion and destruction. But this mind itself collapsed in the Bahnhofs from which trains loaded with people departed for Auschwitz.
Devdutt Pattanaik has argued that maya should be translated as “construction,” and Shiva as “deconstructor.” Derrida was indispensable in this case, of course, as were Freud and Lacan, because construction for them is the symbolic matrix that orders the imaginary. The self per se is a magnitude, scale or dimension, or as in Freud, a single word, the Ich-Maßstab, specifying the coordinates for constructing reality, tracing the phantasm’s rectangular frame.
Maya is constructed reality. It is the scalar dimension that evaluates and devalues all things in Prakriti, and thus cultivates Brahmanda as individual perception of the world. The self remains a scale, echoes Freud, but Lacan demands we dispense with this scale to begin analysis. May Shiva help him! Over and over again he reassembles the cubes of reality in schizoflows of shivalinga.
But beyond Maya is the Thing. Its emptiness designates yet another impossible homeland.
Translated, from the Russian, by Thomas Campbell