The disruption of fetishes produces gods and monsters — Işık Barış Fidaner

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, by Francisco Goya

Being alienated in fetishes is the natural state of a human being, which begins with the mirror stage [1]. A fetish is an authority-body complex, obtained by a body wearing an authority [2]. When a fetish is disrupted, the negation may take place either in its authorization or in its embodiment. The disruption of the authorization of a fetish produces unauthorized bodies, in other words, monsters. The disruption of the embodiment of a fetish produces disembodied authorities, in other words, gods. Gods and monsters are shadows that emerge from the disruption of fetishes. They are two sides of the same phenomenon: Not only are monsters sent by gods, but also are gods sent by monsters. The negation manifested in a god or a monster essentially concerns the underlying separation of authorization from embodiment [3]. When the disjunction between authorization and embodiment is completed, monsters become critters (Haraway) and gods become the combinatorial [4].

An example occurrence of becoming-monster (monstering or monstration) can be found in the anime Inuyasha (2000-2004). Inuyasha is a half-demon whose father is a demon and whose mother is a human. He inherits a sword called Tetsusaiga that’s made from the fang of his demon father. This is a special sword that transforms to become bigger and stronger (erect!) when Inuyasha is fighting to protect a human being (his girlfriend Kagome). Usually Inuyasha is a benevolent man (Image 1). But if he drops his sword Tetsusaiga during a fight with an enemy, then, as if to desperately protect himself from great danger, he transforms into a full demon with blood red eyes and starts undiscerningly killing all his enemies with his claws (Image 2). This transformation is dangerous for him and others.

Obviously, Tetsusaiga is the phallus that makes Inuyasha benevolent by integrating him into the symbolic order. When he drops the sword, the fetish of the phallus falls, his authorization fails, and he becomes an unauthorized body, in other words, a monster. Notice that the phallus negatively depends on the monster who has dropped the phallus. So when Inuyasha recovers his positive half-humanity and demonstrates his power by wielding and swinging his sword to the enemy, this is also his de-monstration, his becoming-half-human-again.

The negative dependency between the phallus and the monstering would be broken only if Inuyasha would be truly separated from the phallus of the sword. This separation would detach him from the human symbolic order and reduce him to a “non-human” (not-necessarily-human) critter. The same operation of separation would also reduce the godly-phallic power of the sword “Tetsusaiga” to one signifier among the combinatory of signifiers, just one Name-of-the-Father among multiple names-of-the-father, in other words, the signifier of the lack in the Other, S(Ⱥ). But such an event or “act” would be difficult to render in an anime, because it would disturb the fetishistic alienation that carries the dramatic tension of the animation.


Işık Barış Fidaner is a computer scientist with a PhD from Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. Admin of Yersiz Şeyler, Editor of Žižekian Analysis, Curator of Görce Writings. Twitter: @BarisFidaner

[1] See “Mirror Stage and Social Media: Authorization and Embodiment”

[2] See “The Authority-Body Complex”

[3] See “Separation of Authorization from Embodiment”

[4] See “Spatial and Combinatorial”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s