True Falls Through False — Işık Barış Fidaner

Source: Pink Floyd’s Animals album.

One is authorized to assert truths like “Chicago is a city”. But the authority of such truths derives its force from the renunciation of falsities like “Pigs can fly”. Reductio ad absurdum is an integral part of logic. Falsities are loaded with an excess of enjoyment that attempts to trip up your logic. Falsity is an enjoyable temptation that will make your logic stumble and fall. You achieve truthfulness by being beware to avoid the temptation of the false/falls. The “mature” and “austere” desire of a logical truthfulness is achieved through the experience of the falsities, by going through/true them and seeing through/true them. The true is achieved by thoroughly/truly processing the false/falls.

The land of the false/falls is fantasy. So “traversing the fantasy” looks like a prolonged process of reductio ad absurdum. Since the greatest falsity is the temptation to die (which names the “death drive”) the fundamental truth is the desire and will to live. This is the meaning of castration: “Castration means that enjoyment must be refused so that it can be reached on the inverted ladder of the Law of desire.” (Lacan in Écrits) The true desire is achieved by refusing the false enjoyment. True and false both fall into place by this refusal. In sum: True falls through false.

So we must acknowledge that the true cannot stand on its own, that it depends on the false. In other words, the authority of a truth is never autonomous. Now is the time to remember the Oedipus complex. The standard Oedipal story consists of three steps [1]:

1) The child is alienated in his/her ego in the initial imaginary embodiment with the mother.

2) The lack and desire about the phallus redirects the child towards the father who is supposed to possess the phallus.

3) The symbolic authorization with the father separates the child from his/her alienation with the mother.

This is also the heroic myth of logic: At first the hero is deceived by a falsity (imaginary embodiment) but then he is disillusioned, awakens (becomes woke) and he refuses the falsity in order to reach for the truth (symbolic authorization with the phallus). This mythical correlation between sex and logic is the meaning of “phallogocentrism”.

Phallus is an abstract fetish because it pits authorization against embodiment as if they were comparable rivals. When an authority is pitted against a body, the authority always wins due to the phallic nature of language. But the authority is simultaneously defeated in its triumph, because it is thereby reduced to a disembodied authority, in other words, a god [2]. Such a “triumph of religion” will sacrifice all bodies for the absolute authority of a phallic god. Recall the “austere” dark god of neoliberalism for which everybody is sacrificed because “there is no alternative” other than phallic authorization.

“True falls through false” means that we must acknowledge the dependence of true desire on false enjoyment. Lacan’s concept of “the real” marks this dialectic between the true and the false. This dialectic means that the phallus is not the endpoint of Oedipal development. Phallic authorization is simply “immature” by itself, and one must add a fourth step to the Oedipal story of development [1]:

4) The dialectical return back to the real embodiment with the mother.

The true separation of authorization from embodiment begins by stopping the fight between the authorities and the bodies. Phallic authorities fight the bodies only because they lack the conception of a system. For the embodiments to be “real” and not merely “imaginary”, there must be a knowledge about a system that would ground them.


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] For details, see “Beyond the Abstract Fetish of the Phallus”

[2] See “The disruption of fetishes produces gods and monsters”


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