Saturday, April 5, 2014

Instruction 4: Symbols, Typography, and Objects of Shi in Lacan's Gaze

Already, I find myself making points of correlation between both Jullien's understanding of Chinese metaphysics and Lacan's theories. For Jullien's text, we were ask to find the points of contrast, that is, a divergence between Eastern and Western way of thinking. For Lacan, we were asked to find a theory and within this arrive to a set of instructions. Lacan opens his lecture with a defense of psychoanalysis in which he proceeds to discuss the dynamic relationship between the analyst and the patient—ultimately, Lacan arrives at this place of desire: the desire of the unconscious, the desire of the analyst, the desire of the patient. So what is the desire of the analyst? From what I gather, it is to understand the psyche, the dialogue between the subject and the other, the signifier that calls the subject into view that is made present through the unconscious that result in the patient's response.

Lacan attempts to interpret and expound upon this desire through the use of mathematical schematics, diagrams, and graphs. This is what I refer to as symbols and typography. Similar to the role that calligraphy takes in Chinese culture, Lacan relies on his own "word art" to communicate the tendency for which the human psyche may sub-comb. As Jullien presents the Chinese perceive depth within their calligraphy not because of what it produces—that is the language to be understood, but how it is produced. As discussed in my previous posts, calligraphy's shi is produced and sustained by the kinetic energy that manifests the readable language. Lacan's "doodles" undergo a similar process. Notice that these formulas and diagrams are used or constructed to arrive at the theoretical conclusions, a reflection of the process, that Lacan discusses but they do not function to show Lacan's conclusions. They function as Lacan's shi. Futhermore, these diagrams seem to possess a shi of their own.

To provide an example, I want to draw attention to Lacan's diagram of "the partial drive and its circuits". Lacan draws and image of a circuit with three parts. The rim, the part of the image that encases the base is the source, which we can think of as the foundation. The aim the way taken, is not the conclusive part of the image or the aspect of the image that allows us to make a conclusion for what we have encounter; rather, it is the method for how we read or channel or shi. Lastly, the goal is the material that has been produced and channeled through this energy.

I think it would be interesting and beneficial if we read Lacan's diagrams and graphs as a manifestation of shi—this energy that allows for his concepts and theories to come into understanding. With this I am reminded of Juan's talk given in class last week and his reference to programming and coding. Coding, a syntax used to arrive at language, uses symbols and characters to draw attention to its subject—language that is displayed through icons, images, and narration. Syntax for coding is synonymous with signifier—with use of the object it acknowledges the subject, the reader/interpreter.  Calligraphy was more than a method of communication, it was an art form that possessed and channeled Chinese ideology through it. Likewise, we see correlations within Lacan's own work as his diagrams function to show the intersection of psychoanalysis and science, the initial question proposed by Lacan. I think it may be beneficial for us as graduate students to start visualizing theoretical concepts as we encounter them and ask ourselves how does this methodology help us read, and how might it allow us to arrive at plausible conclusions that would be otherwise difficult to grasp.

Instruction 4: Survey the icons and images on your computer. These could range from the icon that leads you to information about your operation system to the icon that transports you to a certain web browser. Consider how these icons are an embedded language that allows you to both communicate and interact with your apparatus. Have you ever thought about your interface in this way? Why or why not? 

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