Parallax of Nihilism, or Nihilism as a Pure Event

Disclaimer: Yeah, I am not into ‘Zizek’ (I have only read the Deleuze book and some minor essays) and I only know a little Lacanian stuff from what I have had to read to understand Guattari. However, Jodi Dean and Sinthome are entertaining and informative reads from across the theory divide. SO I am going to draw on my understanding of their blog posts, which would be bad if this was a scholarly work, but it isn’t.

I had never heard of the phrase ‘post-analyzed subjects’, but in a recent post Sinthome writes:

The subject experiences desire teleologically as aiming at some state of completeness that somehow we perpetually fail to acheive. I never get the right girl. I never write the right book. I never get the right job. Etc. However, if we anamorphically shift our perspective on desire, we discern drive, where the whole point of the activity is precisely its repetition without ever reaching the goal. The jouissance lies not in the goal, but in the repetition of the failure or the activity itself. Now if the outcome of analysis is a shift from being a subject of desire to a subject of drive, we can very well imagine post-analyzed subjects who draw their enjoyment precisely from some idiotic activity like Kinsey collecting his gall wasps or Husserl producing ever refined phenomenological descriptions of minutiae, without entertaining a belief that these activities are undertaken for the sake of some grand goal that might someday complete itself. The telos of such activity and its jouissance lies in the activity itself, and the subject feels no need to call on the approval of the Other to engage in this enjoyment, nor does he see this enjoyment as an act of transgression attempting to steal jouissance back from the Other.

Now the obvious point is that for a nihilist, or most of my generation, or pretty much every teenager, every activity is an idiotic activity. The entire universe and especially human existence is singular idiotic activity (chaosmos). There is no essential cultural or discursive threshold that differentiates non-idiotic activity from idiotic activity. The question of idiocy is instead precisely one of enthusiasm or the affective associations and qualitative consistency of those associations that implicates us in various assemblages in action. I call idiocy stupidity. As I constantly rant on about here I try to have an intimate relationship with my stupidities. If I didn’t have my stupidities then I would literally become ‘disassociated’. So maybe my behaviour using my fantasies to affectively arouse or agitate myself to carry out ‘idiotic activities’ is a practice of a post-analyzed subject? Is that would you call my freaky disposition of constant modulation between non-awareness and undirected hyper-awareness?

Anyway, that is not what prompted me to write this post. Instead I was thinking about Zizek’s notion of parallax and how I think about nihilism. I have no formal academic knowledge of nihilism, but it seems to me there is something of a paradox in the notion of ‘nihilism’ or of absolute meaninglessness. As I wrote here, meaninglessness also has to be meaninglessness so it doesn’t matter. This could go on forever (the meaninglessness of the meaninglessness is also meaningless, …meaningless of n, what Deleuze calls the paradox of regress or of indefinite proliferation (LoS, 28-31, which I have discussed before in terms of stuttering). However, for the not-mattering to not matter it has to matter that it doesn’t matter. Meaning is always smuggled in. It appears to me as if ‘nihilism’ is an example of what Deleuze called a ‘pure event’; that is, isn’t this the limit case of what Deleuze calls ‘sense’? The meaning or sense of nihilism is the infinite series of meaninglessness.

It is at this point, if I have followed JOdi and Sinthome in my own silly way on their expositions of Zizek’s notions, the negativity of thought emerges. From Jodi’s blog and notes on Zizek’s book and his “revision of the Real as the parallax Real”:

the status of the Real is purely parallactic and, as such, non-substantial; it has no substantial density in itself; it is just a gap between two points of perspective, perceptible only in the shift from the one to the other. The parallax Real is thus opposed to the standard (Lacanian) notion of the Real as that which ‘always returns to its place’–as that which remains the same in all possible (symbolic) universes: the parallax Real is, rather, that which accounts for the very multiplicity of appearances of the same underlying Real–it is not the hard core which persists as the Same, but the hard bone of contention which pulverizes the sameness into a multitude of appearances.

However, there is a problem with ‘meaninglessness’ as a parallactic point, which Zizek apparently also uses in a similar fashion to the way I am using it, and that problem with meaninglessness and Zizek’s account of it is that as soon as meaninglessness is actualised as ‘meaninglessness’ it gains some sense and becomes meaningful. Therefore, in the parallax of nihilism is not of a void between two points, it is a pure openess and continual movement — a pure becoming — from the virtual to the actual (which refreshes the virtual again): To be nihilistic is to not be…

Of course, I may be understood as playing stupid word games. Indeed, it is the height of stupidity (in the sense above). A stupidity that may reassure or comfort some people because of the affective associations it produces between what I write and its truth. As something like a plot out of a Transformers movie: the universe may be meaningless, but the only event that has meaning is meanlessness itself, therefore there is an existential Archimedean point upon which to persevere: I can’t go on, I will go on. Actually I wish someone had told me this when I was 12 and the meaningless of the universe and of myself as part of the universe became apparent. So this is for the 12 year old Glen that (according to Daniel Stern) resides here as well as part of my multiplicity.

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