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 Consciousness and Lacan's 'Other'

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PostSubject: Consciousness and Lacan's 'Other'   Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:11 pm

All which exists does so in a manner of confinement, imprisonment-conditioning which we call its 'structure'. Structure is what (de-)limits what exists, be it any thing, entity, energy, principle, organization. To exist unstructured is entirely a contradiction in terms, tantamount to saying "does not exist".

The structure/s of the mind or consciousness are the most pernicious and difficult to see. This is because "mind" or "consciousness" is the direct producer of "us", our subject-hood, the concerted sense of our being-entity, being-one-which-is-alive. "Is alive" and "one" are the defining markers of this relation. "Is alive" refers to our sense of change, temporality and contingency and the sense/sensing of this contingency projected forward upon the next moment and drawn up from the just-past moment/s of memory. "One" refers to the sense of our being a single entity, the unity among the various many elements, factors, influences that give rise to a moment of consciousness. This latter is just to say that consciousnes takes part in a condition of insufficient-awareness of potentially fatal splittings, differentiatings and destructuring relations. The "self" senses itself as a singular entity, a "one thing" because it is (deliberately) unaware of anything within/among itself which would fatally threaten this "singularity".

What most limits a thing can never be defined by/sensed by that thing. This is what it means to be structured, that the highest/most-abtracted is also the most-embedded, least-substantiated, "most background" with respect to any particular form, condition or situation(-al demand). Consciousness and the subject-hood/"self" we call our "experiential 'I' " is this highest/most-abstracted form, the greatest derivation-abstraction (possessing as one of its conditions therefore the above-mentgioned deliberately insufficient awareness of potentially de-singularizing influences/forces) which gathers within itself also therefore the greatest implication. And because this is the most-abstracted emergence it is also the most-inability to experience or perceive what structures it. The reasons for this are two-fold: first, that any entity whatsoever has trouble experiencing its more-sufficient structurality simply because it is itself the necessity of this sufficiency. Where this more-sufficiency approaches most-sufficiency this "trouble experiencing" becomes an impossibility for experiencing. Second, and most importantly, this entity is most-abstracted and universalized with respect to that within which and in light of which it manifests and realizes, becomes a "situation", an event 'in time and place'. When elements of consciousnes concretize in this manner they do not cease being part of a much broader universality of most-abstractedness which finds its actuality nowhere and its non-entity everywhere. Our "human" consciousness, our 'proprioceptive qualia' in its most manifest, extant form is precisely this least-boundedness which is most-unable to attend to the fact of its own structurality.

This takes place most when we are "not thinking about thinking", when consciousness is least occupied directly with/in itself. Where consciousness begins to occupy itself more directly with itself, this structural limitedness of consciousness becomes more necessary for consciousness, but this merely opens up small spaces of increased movement and space within the already-traced confines/structurality productive of consciousness, it does not remove, transcend or even radically transform this structurality itself. This "small space" which is opened up is an increase in consciousness, and it is this possibility here upon which the growth and expansion of consciousness is founded. At the highest level this growth and expansion, made possible by the spaces opened up within the limits of the structural confines to which consciousness is subject, and as a result of this consciousness having become more directly concerned with itself, attains what we call philosophy. It is the case that there is always more room to grow, more barriers to push, more space to open up, but this never reaches the point of being able to break down that within which this space/s exists and is contained. This "is always more room to grow" is what consciousness experiences as a sense of its own self-inexhaustibility; this "never reaches the point of being able to break down that within which this space/s exists and is contained" is what consciousness experiences as its despair, "the void", finitude and mortality.

Lacan calls this structurality (of consciousness here) "the Other", what above is called the organism "itself" in its "Real" causal determinedness and chemical-physicality. An aspect of a body's such determinedness is so with respect most to the "consciousness" which is produced by the body. Yet, paradoxically, it is not this most-determinedness which most-determins consciousness. Rather it is the least-determinedness, the most-removed or most-distanced planes of organic causality which act as the impulse-power for consciousness' most saliently-obtaining form/s, what "it is" in any given "moment". This is because this consciousness most interacts to/with what is least productive of it with respect to limitation-constraint. Consciousness is formed and pushed primordially, organically, but the most inner and outer structuring elements and features of this organism, those most invisible to this consciousness, are precisely those which "guide without guiding", lead without leading, set possibility precisely because they render certain outcomes utterly impossible. Consciousness has this most-structurality, but being most-invisible as well, it -- despite setting what might be called the most oppressive and total limits to this consciousness -- remains outside the purview of the most-saliently obtaining or most extant/potent impelling and causing forces for consciousness. Consciousnes is "caused by" most what least limits it, and therefore is limited most by what least causes it yet sets its most stringent self-impossibilities.

Consciousness "itself" is nothing but this sum of events/actions emerging from this multi-tiered structurality and its constantly changing embeddedness in 'a world/s'. Yet we "are" this consciousness; if "we" can be said to exist at all it is most so with respect to this most-abstracted, most-universalized emergence of event-actions from the many-tiered structuralities of the body-brain organism. The animal is guided, the animal moves, the animal is impelled and caused, but what "sits atop" all this is a "self-reflective" (more or less concerned with itself) sort of emergent process of changing action-events which emerge from the interplay of various degrees of structuralities interacting with/in one another and their embedded environments. One of these environments is the body, another is what is environment/s to this body.

Lacan attempts to 'de-psychologize' the subject, in this way developing an understanding of consciousness which is not irreducible nor psychologisticaly 'divine/mystifying' or 'auto-generating'. But nor can this consciousness be mapped directly upon and reduced onto the empirical-causal operations of the body-brain organism. The key here is what Lacan calls the Other and how it functions with respect to consciousness: consciousness is that which emerges from body-brain and environmental influencing, but what limits this consciousness is also what cannot ever become an element to, of or for this consciousness. This is more true the more abstracted is the structurality of consciousness with respect to the functional-extant moments of this consciousness -- its "invisible impossibilizings". Thus consciousness possesses something which is an integral part of it but cannot be counted as an element of or among it, being unmeasurable, unregisterable, unqualifiable. (Badiou calls this the irreducibility of being to itself, the fact that the 'set' containing all of the causal-generative elements of/for (a) being cannot also contain that being "itself", meaning that the set cannot account for, contain itself as a summational set. At every point of analysis, no matter where we pause or stop to look around, being is "inexhaustible" to itself, and the magnitude of this inexhaustibility increases the more broad and expansive/comprehensive is the being under consideration). Thus the most expansive/widest being of which we know (man, the human) also contains the most irreducibility; yet man is not the only being which is so irreducible, for we understand now that irreducibility, inexhaustibility is a very condition of being itself. And the greater the degree of an influencing self-irreducibility of a being, the more its 'set' of itself must be able to (indirectly, implicitly) account for the "vanishing remainder" and "null element" of this set... beings more developed, comprehensive, able to take themselves under consideration also therefore expressly require the capacity for and ability to "reside within the unqualifiable", to exist without respect to strict "empirical" reduction.

The "spiritualized" consciousness is that one which most resides within and is generated most by this 'most unqualifiability'. Yet not even here does this consciousness merge with its Other to become a new unified and synthetic entity. On the contrary, even here the "will to" this most unqualifiability (which manifests as a will because it is in fact an inescapable necessity for this consciousness; consciousness must act to appropriate this necessity into the level of its own more self-impelling possibility, else this necessity escape it [since this necessity cannot, by definition, become a part of the structurality of being without also therefore losing either its "unqualifiability" or its direct import for/to this being itself]) does not free oneself from it, but rather constitutes only a "willingness to be contained", which may lead to certain transcendences in the planes of affective or emotive causation but make no moves toward affording a "subjective escape" of its most restricting conditionality and structure, which was and is always the most singular and central motivating factor of this "spirituality", this "will to unqualifiability". And of course science does not render itself unsubject to the Other by its attempts to quantifiably trace its own causality or world-structure/s.




 

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PostSubject: Re: Consciousness and Lacan's 'Other'   Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:51 pm

I would add that the logically a-priori self-valuing core of a being does not rely on the Other for its ((value-onto)logical) existence. It can however only manifest as a being, a becoming, by incorporating in its conditions that which can not be integrated in itself. In terms of the inanimate this is simply the expansiveness of the not-self, by virtue of which it is a dynamic being, energy, progression. In a consciousness, this literal space-time expansiveness that constitutes the Other becomes an actual part of the beings being unto itself, where in the inanimate it was only a condition for its physical behavior as being.

Now as consciousness becomes more "spiritualized", as it requires for its being more and more of what it does not itself amount to, it seems that its connection with itself self-valuing core becomes weaker, with respect to its self-experience. In such a manner the "saint" or Buddha may in fact dissolve its self-valuing, and abandon its organic being to the functioning of its molecules, therein perhaps experiencing a tremendous bliss. A value ontological approach to a spiritualized consciousness would however demand the opposite -- that what is encompassed in the consciousness' fabric is also drawn actively into/toward the self-valuing core.

The result of this could be nothing else than the impulse to manipulate. Psycho-ontologically such an operation would seem to amount to a kind of "crunching" of the world, a collapsing of it into the self, but "in reality" what happens is that the self begins to operate in such a way as to encompass its conditions more directly, more actively - decreasing its arbitrariness to its world, tyrannizing its own spirit, beginning to play. We have then the artist, in the magical sense - the self-creating world-devourer. Of course such a manipulator can only arise out of a deeply contemplative spirituality, a passive expansiveness. It needs first to be "set out" as a great project of valuing the self in terms of the other while retaining a strong enough "reserve" of self-valuing primacy, and anywhere before the point of no return, activated.

The metaphor of Jesus crucifixion can serve as a limit of the scope of this operation - in this fable the spiritualized expansive conditionality of the consciousness that is not included in the self-valuing core, the Other which is necessary to this consciousness, is the entire world, and in order to "crunch" this Other into the self-valuings action radius, the self-valuing core needs to transcend physical reality. In other words, it must do/be the impossible, be activated by its own negation, because the scope of its action is projected into the absolute.

A being that wants to remain a possible self-enacting in the face of its spirituality must contain its limits for spiritualization / encompassing Otherness so as to remain connected with a "thread of life" to the self-valuing core, a thread strong enough so as not to break when the crunching, the becoming-artist/child is initiated.

That this maintenance of the lifeline is not always conscious accounts for much hypocrisy in highly spiritualized consciousnesses.



 

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PostSubject: Re: Consciousness and Lacan's 'Other'   Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:38 am

More on the "crunching" of Otherness into the self-valuing core. Logically such is not sustainable if Otherness is seen as an objective reality with which the subjective self is involved. It becomes possible only if object-existence is seen as "interference of values" as I proposed earlier, elsewhere. The substance of existence is then entirely fluid, malleable, and what we interpret now as the manifestations of "the chain of causality" can be seen as something far more "problematic", in the sense that it is being defined in contradicting ways from innumerable directions. The direction/perspective that pulls the strongest at a certain segment/knot of interference will define it most powerfully. "Things" actually change by how they are perceived, because perception is not a passive quality but an active manipulation in the most literal sense. "Magic" or occultism is the methods of concentrating the power of this manipulation, by first of all entirely abandoning the notion of objectivity and giving in to the "superstition" of god-like powers in oneself. But occultism is not enough as it still holds the irrational non-idea of a metaphysical superiority as its ground. We can now see that if object-reality is interference of values / knots of valencies, that simply the intensifying of the self-valuing standard/root of all these values/valencies actively changes object-based reality. For example, such intensifying may "rattle", shake loose the existing knots and contexts. When an intensified self-valuing is consciously utilized, the subject working as a surgeon on the cosmos of forces bound to his being, even stranger things may happen. We must in this context at least dare to be so radical as to take literally the idea that self-valuing is at the root of matter. We may see many things that we before hidden from the rational mind, but utterly accepted by the billions not requiring rational explanation. Through momentarily being elevated from superstition of God into the conviction of science, we arrive now at an understanding of what the world "God" has meant for the truly devotional - the power to influence by valuing. This power exists very clearly in all psychological fields, it exists in projecting the course of ones own actions, in determining ones perspective, but its reach into literal, direct physicality is not clear yet. I expect that I am of most writers here the most radically "irrational" here - the most radically convinced of the power of self-valuing in relation to objectivity. But perhaps all can see that, if the notion of self-valuing as the root of all being is taken on axiomatically, the notion of the physical cosmos is radically transformed. Many pathways of structuring / necessities can (be seen to) exist underneath / parallel to physical causation, and reality can be manipulated using these pathways.

 

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