Modern Mourning of God and Nature — Işık Barış Fidaner

Russell Grigg likens psychoanalysis to a process of mourning where the naked objet a is revealed by the fall of its semblants:

This is the ‘slow burn’ that constitutes analysis, which I have spoken about elsewhere. Melanie Klein recognised this as a form of mourning. Recasting Klein, it is possible, then, to think of the progress of an analysis as sort of non-traumatic traumatisation, or, if you wish, as a controlled decline of the imaginary. In analysis the fall of semblants results, not from the slings and arrows of misfortune; rather, the fall of semblants results, slowly, and in a way regulated by interpretation, from the analysis itself. This of course makes analysis a process that has less to do with the healing of wounds, the recuperation of the subject’s identity, or a return to the status quo ante in such cases. Interpretation, and indeed the process of analysis itself, are less brutal means of dissolving the artefacts with which the individual’s narcissism is surrounded. And a gentle awakening, a slow trauma, as when we say a ‘slow burn,’ that is calculated and ratified by the subject, is undoubtedly more beneficial than the unforeseen crisis apt to result from the sadism or cynicism of the Other. (Remembering & Forgetting)

A similar mourning process takes place in modernity, in which the abstract objects of the modern world emerge from the fall of the semblants of God and Nature (or Destiny) [1]. This double mourning can be summarized by the names of Nietzsche and Freud.

Nietzsche began mourning the “death of God” and this led him to the idea of “will to power”. In brief, he followed this formula: “We must relativize God within Nature, which brings the idea of a particular subjective will.” [1] The idea of an individual will is the object that comes to be revealed at the emptied place of God. Moreover, the mourning of God does not leave Nature unaffected: In Nietzsche, after the death of God, Nature (or Destiny) is reduced to a pure repetition called “eternal recurrence”.

Freud founded psychoanalysis which mourns the loss of ideological semblances like “Nature”, “Destiny”, “Society” and this led him to the idea of conscious and unconscious “systems” in human psyche. In brief, he followed this formula: “We must relativize Nature within God, which brings the idea of a particular knowledge of a system.” [1] Systemic ideas like id, ego, superego were the objects that come to be revealed at the emptied place of Nature, Destiny, Society, etc. Moreover, the mourning of Nature does not leave God unaffected: In psychoanalysis, the idea of “God” is reduced to the place of the analyst in the transference relationship; in Lacanian terms, it is reduced to the function of the “subject supposed to know”.

The double mourning of God and Nature can only function if God and Nature are separated. This separation is linked to Freud’s idea that the melancholic “knows whom he has lost but not what he has lost in him.” (Mourning and Melancholia) The exemplary melancholic would be Nietzsche who knows whom he has lost (God) but does not know what he has lost in him (Nature). This is why Nietzche was not a proper mourner but a melancholic, hence his nihilism. Psychoanalysis, founded by Freud, is the proper modern mourning of God and Nature, which was turned into a process that takes place between an analyst and an analysand [2].

I express the double result of this modern mourning by the terms “will” and “system”, which correspond to the two structural elements of capitalist discourse: subject and knowledge [3]. These two terms in turn ground two processes: Will grounds authorization (S1/$) and system grounds embodiment (a/S2). Therefore, the separation of will-system ($-S2) grounds the separation of authority-body (S1-a). An authorization that is not separated from its embodiment is the “symbolic authorization” of a fetish. An authorization that is separated from its embodiment is the “real authorization” of a symptom [4].

(Turkish)

Işık Barış Fidaner is a computer scientist with a PhD. Admin of Yersiz Şeyler (Placeless Things) blog, Admin/Editor/Curator of Žižekian Analysis, and one of the admins of “Žižek and the Slovenian School” group on Facebook. Twitter: @BarisFidaner

Notes:

[1] See “Two inexistences and a separation: God-Nature to will-system”

[2] Nietzsche had a deep distrust for all systematization. But he was also honest enough to recognize the ethical (“immoral”) power of systematization:

“I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity.” (Twilight of the Idols)

“I distrust all systems and systematists, and avoid them: perhaps one will discover just behind this book the system which I avoided… The desire for a system, for a philosopher, morally speaking, is a refined form of depravity, a disease of character; immorally speaking, it is the willingness to appear more stupid than one is – more stupid, that is, stronger, simpler, more untutored, more formidable, commanding, tyrannical…” (Will to Power)

I interpret his deep ambivalence for systems as a sign that he was not ready to mourn Nature, which is why he was condemned to “eternal recurrence”. The system which Nietzche avoided is, of course, the Freudian unconscious.

[3] See “Hysterics are the true hackers”

[4] See “Symbolic Authorization of Fetishes and Real Authorization of Symptoms”

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