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)

cogito
cogito
and
the
tlle

11nconscio11s
unconscious
Slavoj
Slavoi Zizek,
2iiek,
editor
editor

sic2
sic 2

DUKE
and London
DUKE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY PRESS DDurham
u r h a m and
London I998
1998

2.24 Kessel
224
Kessel
of his
his brute
thinking itself,
itself, he
confronts the
the reader
reader with
with
brute "experience"
"experience" of thinking
he confronts
the
Where, for example,
the modern
modern finitude-problem
finitude-problem in a
a very sharp
sharp way. Where,
example,
he reports
to us on
which his thought
he
reports to
on the
the way in which
thought takes
takes an
an infinite (i.e.,
transgressive) position
to frightfully
frightfully experience
the transgrestransgrestransgressive)
position only so
so as
as to
experience the
sive and
and failing character
character of it, he
he is effectively demonstrating
demonstrating a
a radical
radical
modern understanding
modern
understanding of finitude.
finitude. This
This character
character is threatened,
threatened, howhowever, when
when he
he wants
wants to trace
trace this
this "inner
"inner experience"
experience" back
back to his
his biobioenergetic cosmology,
cosmology, or
or rather,
rather, to
to his
his cosmic-biologic
cosmic-biologic reading
reading of
of Hegel's
Hegel's
energetic
negation. It is as
negation.
as if he
he wants
wants to "close"
"close" again
again the
the open
open universe
universe left by
God's death,
albeit a
"closure" in infinity
infinity itself.
itself. ItIt is as
he wants
wants to
to give
give
God's
death, albeit
a "closure"
as if he
finitude an ontological
infinity
his experience
experience of finitude
ontological foundation:
foundation: the
the fear
fear of infinity
modern finitude)
finitude) would
would be
"harmony"
(being the
the basic experience
experience of modern
be in "harmony"
with the
terrifying character
character of
of being
being itself-whereas
itselfwhereas perhaps
perhaps the
the frightfrightwith
the terrifying
ening side of our
really radical
ening
our limited
limited experience
experience of being
being is only
only really
radical if it
this consimply lacks any
any relation
relation to being
being itself. The
The possibility
possibility that
that this
conceptualization may
not neutralize)
very terrifying
terrifying aspect
ceptualization
may temper
temper (if not
neutralize) the
the very
aspect
of his inner
inner experience
experience prompts
prompts him
him to invoke
invoke its fear
fear and
and its imposimpossibility in aa formal
formal way.
way. This
This formal
formal invocation
invocation often
often seems
seems to
to be
be the
the
ultimate
Bataille's writing.
writing.
ultimate reason
reason for the
the "pathos"
"pathos" of Bataille's
Translated from
Translated
from the
the Dutch
Dutch by G. Daniel
Daniel Bagel.
B-iigel.
Notes
Notes
1r References
References to
Georges Bataille's
Oeuvrescompletes,
1970to Georges
Bataille's Oeuvres
completes, vols. 1-12
' - ' a (Paris:
(Paris: Gallimard,
Gallimard,I97o88) are
are given parenthetically
paren, hetically in the
the text
text by volume
volume and
and page
page number.
number. Volumes
most
Volumes most

often
quoted are
are 7 (La part maudite)
and 8 (La Souverainite).
Souverainite).Volume
and page
page numoften quoted
maudity) and
Volume and
numbers
bers given after
after aa semicolon
semicolon reference
reference the
the English
English translation;
translation; quotes
quotes are
are from
from Bataille,
Bataille,

The Accursed Share,


Share, vol. 1( N
(New
Zone Books,
Books, 1988)
and Bataille,
Bataille, The Accursed
e w York: Zone
1988) and
vols. 22 and
and 3 (New
(New York:
Zone Books,
are mine.
Share,VOIS.
York: Zone
Books, 1993).
1993). All other
other translations
translations are
mine.
2z Georges
Georges Bataille,
Bataille, Theory of Religion
(New York:
Zone Books,
Books, 1989),
Religion (New
York: Zone
1989), 103-4
103-4..
"Changing from
from the
the perspectives
perspectives of a
a restrictive
restrictive economy
economy to
those of
3 "Changing
to those
of aa general econeconomy actually
accomplishes a Copernican
Copernican transformation:
reversal of thinking-and
omy
actually accomplishes
transformation: a reversal
thinkingand
(7:33;1:25).
of ethics"
ethics" (7:33;
t: 15).
44 Bataille
Bataille works
works out
out his "biochemical
"biochemical energetics"
energetics" in the
the second
second part
"Introducpart of
of his
his "Introduction
(which to
Bataille is the
same as
as "being")
tion Theorique"
Theorique" of La part maudite. Life (which
to Bataille
the same
"being") is
thought
laws of
(pression).Once
Once "life"
(i.e., the
thought according
according to
to the
the laws
of pressure
pressure (pression).
"life" (i.e.,
the vital
vital energy)
energy)
has
reached certain
certain limits,
come under
under high
pressure and,
transgressive as
as it is,
has reached
limits, it will come
high pressure
and, transgressive
is,
burst
our to
new life (7:36-37).
burst out
to start
start new
(7:36-37).

8a
N e g a t i o n and
a n d Its
Its
Negation
R e l l a b i l l t l e s : An
An
Rellabllltlea:
& M i t a S11bJect
Subject
IIIIDtv

)
Robert Pfaller
Pfaller
Robert

for
o r ldeologvt
Ideology?

From "Cogito"
"Cogito" to
to Its
Its Negative
Negative Representation
Representation
From
In aa brilliant
brilliant interpretation
interpretation of
of Ridley
Ridley Scott's
Scott's movie
movie Blade Runner,
Runner, Slavoj
Slavoj
In
2iiek has
has shown
shown that
that the
the plot
plot of
of this
this film
film is,
is, at
at various
various points,
points, aa reprise
reprise
Zizek
of the
the problematic
problematic developed
developed in
in Descartes's
Descartes's Meditations.
Meditations.'1
of
The movie,
movie, as
as we
we know,
know, deals
deals with
with an
an imminent
imminent future
futurewhere,
where, among
among
The
the earth's
population, there
number of
of artificial
artificial beings
("replithe
earth's population,
there are
are aa number
beings ("replicants") who,
having artificial
artificial childhood
childhood
cants")
who, resembling
resembling humans
humans and
and even
even having
memories (although
they were
were assembled
as adult
adult machines),
machines), are
are mismismemories
(although they
assembled as
perceived,
and
misperceive
themselves,
as
human
beings.
But,
since
they
perceived, and misperceive themselves, as human beings. But, since they
are capable
capable of
of high
high intellectual
intellectual performance,
performance, they
they themselves
themselves have
havetheir
their
are
doubts,
as in Descartes's
Descartes's second
second meditation,
about the
doubts, as
meditation, about
the authenticity
authenticity of
of
their memories
their
memories as
as well
well as
as their
their whole
whole (human)
(human) subjectivity?
subjectivity. 2 So,
So, once
once
again, aa point
point has
has to
to be
be found
found that
that escapes
escapes this
this universal
universal doubt.
doubt. Zizek
2iiek
again,
writes: ''Therein
"Therein consists
consists the
the implicit
implicit philosophical
philosophical lesson
lessonof
ofBlade
BladeRunRunwrites:
ner attested
attested to
to by
by numerous
numerous allusions
allusions to
to the
the Cartesian
Cartesian cogito(like
(like when
when
ner
the replicant-character
played by
by Darryl
Darryl Hannah
ironically points
points out
out
the
replicant-character played
Hannah ironically
cogito, the
the point
point of
self'I'I think,
think, therefore
therefore I am'):
am'): where
where is the
the cogito,
of my
my selfconsciousness, when
that II actually
actually am
am is
is an
an artifact-not
artifactnot
consciousness,
when everything
everything that
only my
my body,
body, my
my eyes,
eyes, but
but even
even my
my most
most intimate
intimate memories
memories and
and fanfanonly
3
tasies?"' The
can be
explained, as
2fiek shows,
shows, by
by
The Cartesian
Cartesian answer
answer can
be explained,
as Zizek
tasies?"
4
applying aa conceptual
conceptual tool
tool that
that has
has been
been developed
developed by
by Jacques
Jacques Lacan:
Lacam4
applying
"It
here that
that we
again encounter
encounter the
"It is here
we again
the Lacanian
Lacanian distinction
distinction between
between
the
the subject
subject of
of enunciation
enunciation and
and the
the subject
subject of
of the
the enunciated:
enunciated: everything
everything

zz6
226

Negation and
Its Reliabilities
Reliabilities 2227
17
Negation
and Its

Pfaller
Pfaller

that I positively
that
positively am,
am, every
every enunciated
enunciated content
content I can
can point
point at
at and
and say
say
'that's
me,'
is
not
T;
I
am
only
the
void
that
remains,
the
empty
distance
'that's me,' not 'I'; am only the void that remains, the empty distance
5 Under the condition
toward every
content." 5
Under the condition of universal
universal doubt,
doubt, every
every
toward
every content."
possible
content
must
appear
questionable.
But
there
is
one
level
that
possible content must appear questionable.
there
one
that
evades this
this doubt:
doubt: the
the level from
from which
which the
the doubt
doubt originates.
originates. The
The agency
agency
evades
that doubts
identical with
with anything
that can
can be
to the
the
that
doubts is not
not identical
anything that
be submitted
submitted to
doubt. What
What thinks,
thinks, is not
not identical
identical with
with anything
anything that
that is being
being thought.
thought.
doubt.
This
finding,
which
Descartes
experienced
as
a
certain
relief,
can
This finding, which Descartes experienced as a certain
can also
also
be regarded
regarded as
something quite
quite alarming
alarming for
for the
the subject:
subject: one
point is
is bebebe
as something
one point
yond
the
subject's
power
of
doubting;
there
is
a
dimension
that
always
yond the subject's power of doubting; there is a dimension that always
escapes his/her
its
escapes
his/her theoretical
theoretical grasp
grasp (although
(although it persistently
persistently signalizes
signalizes its
existence
precisely
in
the
failed
attempt
to
grasp
it).
This
alarming
side
existence precisely
the failed attempt to grasp
This alarming side
the Cartesian
Cartesian discovery
discovery has
underlined
Lacan. Lacan
showed
of the
has been
been under
lined by Lacan.
Lac an showed
the
radicality
of
the
Cartesian
result
by
emphasizing
that
due
to
its gengenthe radicality of the Cartesian result
emphasizing that due to its
erality it also
erality
also applied
applied for
for a
a special
special case:
case: what
what thinks,
thinks, is not
not identical
identical
with what
what is being
thoughteven
what is being
thought is the
the thinkthinkwith
being thought
- even if what
being thought
6
ing subject
itself.'
ing
subject itself.
This was
This
was important
important especially
especially in the
the case
case of utterances
utterances that
that seemed
seemed
to contain
"I
to
contain the
the position
position from where
where they
they were
were enunciated
enunciated (such
(such as
as "I
think"
or
"I
lie").
7
Following
Descartes
radically,
Lacan
made
clear
that
think" or "I lie").7 Following Descartes radically, Lacan made clear that
the position
position where
the utterance
was enunciated
from was
was never
identithe
where the
utterance was
enunciated from
never identical
with
anything
contained
within
this
utterance.
The
enunciating
cal with anything contained within this utterance. The enunciating instance, the
to be
with the
be identified
identified with
the
stance,
the "subject
"subject of enunciation,"
enunciation," was
was not
not to
"subject
of
the
enunciated,"
the
subject
that
figured
within
the
content
"subject
the enunciated," the subject that figured within the content
of the
the utterance.
of
utterance. .
This Lacanian
This
Lacanian consequence
consequence would,
would, at first sight,
sight, seem
seem quite
quite disapdisappointing for the
pointing
the replicants
replicants and
and their
their specific
specific concern,
concern, since
since it gives
gives aa
simple, negative
simple,
negative answer
answer to the
the question
question of where
where my true,
true, unfeigned
unfeigned
subjectivity could
subjectivity
could be
be situated
situated (i.e., where
where my "cogito"
"cogito" is): it is somesomewhere outside
for
where
outside the
the field of anything
anything I can
can speak
speak about.
about. A certainty
certainty for
the subject
subject who
who doubts
thinks, the
the cogito
cogito is
is aa problem
problem of
of represenrepresenthe
doubts and
and thinks,
tation for
for the
who speaks.
speaks.
tation
the subject
subject who
But at
at the
the same
time, the
Lacanian distinction
distinction between
between the
the two
two levels
But
same time,
the Lacanian
of speech
the enunciated
of
speech (the
(the level of the
enunciated content
content and
and the
the level of enunciaenunciation) allows
of a
tion)
allows us
us to understand
understand the
the functioning
functioning of
a possible
possible solution
solution-
since, by
since,
by this
this distinction,
distinction, Lacan
Lacan showed
showed how
how the
the subject
subject in his/her
his/ her
speech constantly
speech
constantly announces
announces his/her
his/her elusive
elusive dimension
dimension without
without even
even

wanting or
or noticing
of the
the unconscious
wanting
noticing it. The
The subject
subject of
unconscious was,
was, according
according
to Lacan,
Lacan, to
to be
found in
in every
every discourse
discourse on
on the
the level of
of its
its enunciation.
enunciation.'8
to
be found
This means
This
means that
that the
the mechanism
mechanism by which
which the
the unconscious
unconscious manifests
manifests
itself, according
to Lacan,
Lacan, should
key to
to the
the replicant
replicant
itself,
according to
should also
also provide
provide the
the key
problem: if there
there existed
way of communicating
not
problem:
existed aa way
communicating in an
an utterance
utterance not
only its
its enunciated
enunciated content
content (i.e.,
(i.e., what
what is
is being
said) but
but also
also the
the level of
of
only
being said)
enunciation (the
position from
from where
is being
said), then
then this
this would
would
enunciation
(the position
where itit is
being said),
be aa possibility
possibility of
of how
how someone
someone could
could signalize
signalize that
that there
there is
is something
something
be
else in
in him
him or
or her
her than
than just
just his/her
his/her possibly
possibly faked
faked presence
presence of
of body
body and
and
else
mind.
((contents
contents of) mind.
As Zizek
t i i e k shows,
for their
As
shows, the
the replicants
replicants find such
such a
a solution
solution for
their probproblem (a solution
that gives
the film its
its moving,
moving, tragic
tragic dimension).
dimension). They
They
lem
solution that
gives the
seem to
to have
have one
paradoxical possibility
possibility of
of signalizing
signalizing that
that they
they are
are not
not
seem
one paradoxical
replicants but
but human
human beings:
by affirming
affirming the
the opposite,
opposite, by saying
saying "I
"I am
am
replicants
beings: by
of the
the status
want to
to achieve
aa replicant."
replicant." Precisely
Precisely the
the negation
negation of
status they
they want
achieve
seems to
to provide
provide them
them with
with this
this status.
status. Zizek
Ziiek writes:
writes: "it
"it is only
only when,
when,
seems
at the
the level of
of the
the enunciated
enunciated content,
content, II assume
assume my
my replicant-status,
replicant-status, that,
that,
at
at the
at
the level
level of enunciation,
enunciation, I become
become a truly
truly human
human subject.
subject. 'I am
am a
a
9
replicant' is the
the statement
of the
the subject
in its
its purest."
purest."' The
The paradoxiparadoxireplicant'
statement of
subject in
cal
mechanism
that
produces
the
opposite
meaning
of
the
enunciated
cal mechanism that produces the opposite meaning
the enunciated
proposition is what
Verneinung (negation).
(negation). As
proposition
what Sigmund
Sigmund Freud
Freud called
called Verneinung
Freud
noted,
utterances
like
"You
ask
me
who
this
person
in my
my dream
dream
Freud noted, utterances like "You ask me who this person in
might be.
not the
the mother,"
mother," must
must be
immediately understood
in the
the
be immediately
understood in
might
be. ItIt is not
10
opposite sense:
is the
the mother."
mother." "
opposite
sense: "So
"So itit is
The linguistic
linguistic feature
feature that
that enabled
enabled Freud
Freud to
to perform
perform such
such an
an interpreinterpreThe
tation and
to arbitrariness
in the
tation
and saved
saved him
him from
from succumbing
succumbing to
arbitrariness consists
consists in
the
split between
between the
the two
two levels
levels of
of speech
speech in
in such
such aa proposition.
proposition. On
On the
the level
split
of the
the enunciated,
of what is being said, everything
everything seems
seems
of
enunciated, on
on the
the level of
OK; there
or irritating
irritating for
for the
OK;
there is nothing
nothing strange
strange or
the analysand's
analysand's (or
(or anyone else's)
else's) consciousness
in it. But
But what
what is strange
the fact
fact that
that this is
one
consciousness in
strange is the
said at
at all.
all. On
On the
the level
level of
of enunciation
enunciation the
the proposition
proposition "It
"It is
is not
not the
the
beingsaid
mother"
is
highly
irritating,
it
gives
rise
to
the
question:
If
nobody
ever
mother"
highly irritating, it gives rise to the question: If nobody ever
posed the
of the
the mother,
it have
to be
posed
the hypothesis
hypothesis of
mother, why
why does
does it
have to
be explicitly
explicitly
negated? IfIf everything
everything is
is just
just OK,
OK, why
why does
does this
this have
have to
to be
be emphasized?
emphasized?
negated?
A special
relationship between
between the
the two
two levels of
of speech
speech is
is established
established
A
special relationship
in this
this case.
case. IfIf the
the content
content of
of the
the proposition
proposition builds
builds aa first
first message,
message, then
then
in
there lies a second
fact that
that the
the first
is being
there
second message
message in the
the fact
first message
message is
being

Negation and
Reliabilities z2.9
Negation
and Its
Its Reliabilities
229

228 Pfaller
Pfaller
zz8

The sending
sending of the
the message
message is
is another
another message.
message. And
And the
the second
second
sent. The
message contradicts
contradicts the
the first one. This split, this contradiction
contradiction between
between
message
what is being
being said and
and what
what is being
being signalized
signalized by saying it, conveys the
what
enunciation (and
(and its difference from
from the level of the enunciated).
enunciated).
level of enunciation
negation this elusive
elusive dimension
dimension of speech
speech is brought
brought to its (negative)
(negative)
In negation
representation. 11
representation."
means by which
which this is being
being done
done is a displacement
displacement of the
the comcomThe means
municative situation:
situation: the
the situation
situation that
that seemed
seemed to
to build
build the
the frame
frame of
municative
communication is
is transferred
transferred to
to its
its explicit
explicit content,
content, "perverted"
"perverted" into
into
communication
a remarkable
remarkable fact.
fact. Negation
Negation "redoubles"
"redoubles" tautologically
tautologically what
what we concona
sidered
unnecessary to mention,
mention, the
the unspoken
unspoken presuppositions
presuppositions of our
our
sidered unnecessary
utterances:
what seemed
seemed to stand
stand on its own,
own, it assures
assures us
us of
utterances: it affirms what
something
that seemed
seemed beyond
beyond any doubt,
doubt, it denies
denies something
something that
that no
something that
no
one
thought to state,
state, it forbids
forbids what
what was
was considered
considered to be impossible,
impossible,
one thought
it answers
answers something
something that
seemed beyond
beyond question."
question.12
that seemed
Precisely
these presuppositions
presuppositions explicitly,
explicitly, negation
negation puts
puts
Precisely by affirming
affirming these
them
them into
into question.
question. It confronts
confronts us
us with
with our
our own
own presuppositions
presuppositions "in
"in the
the
wrong
us ask
ourselves: IfIf what
wrong place"
place" as it were;
were; it makes
makes us
ask ourselves:
what was
was supposed
supposed
to
presupposition figures as an explicit
explicit statementthen,
statement-then, what
what are
are
to be a presupposition
be the
the
presuppositions of this
statement? If
the presuppositions
this statement?
If what
what was
was considered
considered to
to be
the
"common
sense," the
the background
background of our
foreground,
"common sense,"
our talk,
talk, figures
figures in
in its
its foreground,
as
"particular sense,"
sense," then,
then, what
what is the
the real
real background,
background, the
the foundfoundas a "particular
ing common
sense of
common sense
of our
our communication?
communication? By its
its ironic
ironic means,
means, negation
negation
signalizes
for us
us a description
description of this
background different
different from
that
signalizes for
this background
from that
which
we considered
considered it to
be.
which we
to be.
The
same mechanism
mechanism seems
seems to
be known
seems
The same
to be
known by
by the
the replicants.
replicants. It seems
to
them a chance
chance to proveby
prove-by saying
saying that
they are
are replicants
replicantsto give them
that they
that
that they
they are
are something
something else.
else. Zizek
2iiek concludes
concludes in his
his interpretation:
interpretation: "In
"In
short,
the implicit
implicit thesis
thesis of Blade
Blade Runner
Runner is that
that replicants
replicants are
are pure
pure
short, the
subjects
subjects precisely
precisely insofar
insofar as
as they
they testify
testify that
that every
every positive,
positive, substantial
substantial
content,
content, inclusive
inclusive of
of the
the most
most intimate
intimate fantasies,
fantasies, is
is not
not 'their
'their own'
own' but
but
already
already implanted.
implanted. In
In this
this precise
precise sense,
sense, subject
subject is
is by
by definition
definition nostalnostalgic,
gic, aa subject
subject of
of loss.
loss. Let
Let us
us recall
recall how,
how, in
in Blade
Blade Runner,
Runner, Rachel
Rachel silently
silently
she is
starts
when Deckard
Deckard proves
proves to
starts to
to cry
cry when
to her
her that
that she
is aa replicant.
replicant. The
The
silent
grief
over
the
loss
of
her
'humanity,'
the
infinite
longing
to
be
silent grief over the loss of her 'humanity,' the infinite longing to be or
or
to
to become
become human
human again,
again, although
although she
sheknows
knows this
this will
will never
neverhappen;
happen; or,
or,
conversely,
conversely, the
the eternal
eternal gnawing
gnawing doubt
doubt over
over whether
whether II am
am truly
truly human
human

or just
just an
very undecided,
undecided, intermediate
intermediate states
which
or
an androidit
android-it is
is these
these very
states which
make me
make
me human.""
human." 13 If we
we leave
leave aside
aside the
the question
question of
of what
what this
this findfinding means
ing
means for
for the
the replicants
replicants and
and instead
instead look
look at
at what
what it
it implies
implies for
for
psychoanalytical theory,
of consequences.
psychoanalytical
theory, we
we can
can enumerate
enumerate a
a number
number of
consequences.
There are
that must
Lacanian
There
are a
a series
series of
of propositions
propositions that
must be
be supported
supported by
by Lacanian
theory. These
) that
of negation
theory.
These are:
are: (1)
that there
there is
is a
a primacy
primacy of
negation over
over positive
positive
representation: negation
that cannot
cannot be
told in
in
representation:
negation can
can express
express something
something that
be told
what negation
negation tells
tells is
aa direct,
direct, positive
positive expression;
expression; (z)
(2) that
that what
is necessarily
necessarily
true; (3)
that (in
(in general)
general) there
exist things
things that
that can
can only
only be
be represented
represented
true;
(3) that
there exist
negatively,
by
negation;
(4)
that
(in
particular)
there
exists,
represented
negatively, by negation; (4) that (in particular) there exists, represented
by negation,
by
negation, a
a true,
true, empty
empty subjectivity
subjectivity beyond
beyond "full,"
"full," imaginary
imaginary subsubjectivity.
From
the
last
point
follows
an
important
consequence
for
the
jectivity. From the last point follows an important consequence for the
Lacanian theory
theory of
of ideology:
ideology: the
that this
this empty
empty subjectivity
subjectivity has
has
Lacanian
the thesis
thesis that
to
be
regarded
as
the
cause
of
ideological
effects
for
which
a
theory
of
to be regarded as the cause of ideological effects for which a theory of
the imaginary
imaginary alone
alone cannot
cannot account.
account.
the
This
is
the
argument
developed
by Lacanian
Lacanian theorists
theorists in
in opposition
opposition to
to
This the argument developed by
Louis Althusser's
Althusser's psychoanalytical
psychoanalytical theory
theory of
of ideology.
ideology. Althusser,
Althusser, itit was
was
Louis
argued by
by Mladen
Mladen Dolar
Dolar and
and Slavoj
Slavoj Zizek,
2iiek, linked
linked ideology,
ideology, by
byconceptuconceptuargued
alizing itit as
process of
of interpellation,
interpellation, to
to the
the sphere
sphere of
of mere
mere imaginary
imaginary
alizing
as aa process
subjectivity.
But
to
give
a
full
account
of
the
whole
domain
of
ideology,
subjectivity. But to give a full account of the whole domain of ideology,
14
of interpellation,"
interpellation," 14aa second
subjectivity, aa "subject
"subject before
before
aa "beyond
"beyond of
second subjectivity,
15
subjectivization"
"
had
to
be
thought.
Since
interpellation
never
seems
subjectivization"
had to be thought. Since interpellation never seems
to succeed
to remain
certain distance
to
succeed totally,
totally, the
the subject
subject seems
seems to
remain at
at a
a certain
distance
toward
his/her
"meaningful"
identity
given
to
him/her
by
interpellatoward his/her "meaningful" identity given to himjher by interpelladon, and
and precisely
precisely this
this "meaningless"
"meaningless" remainder
remainder should
should be
be regarded
regarded as
as
tion,
a
condition
of
the
subject's
submission
to
the
"meaningless"
command
a condition of the subject's submission to the "meaningless" command
16
of the
the ideological
ideological rituals
rituals and
and apparatuses.
apparatuses."
of
Since these
these consequences
consequences of
of the
the replicant
replicant reprise
reprise of
of the
the "cogito"
"cogito" do
do
Since
not only
only concern
concern androids
androids and
and problems
problems of
of other
other planets
planets but-with
but r e renot
gard
to
the
question
of
subjectivityaddress
crucial
questions
of
social
gard to the question of subjectivity-address crucial questions of social
life and
its theory,
theory, they
they seem
to merit
merit close
examination." ItIt seems,
life
and its
seem to
close examination.17
seems,
furthermore, that
that aaprecise
precise answer
answer to
to the
the Lacanian
Lacanian theses
thesescan
can be
be found
found
furthermore,
in Louis
Louis Althusser's
Althusser's writings.
writings. A
A certain
certain negativism
negativism in
in Lacan
Lacan has
has been
been
in
criticized by
by the
the Spinozean
Spinozean wing
wing of
of French
French antihumanist
antihumanist philosophy:
philosophy:
criticized
while
Deleuzeand
and Guattari
Guattari have
havedeveloped
developedtheir
theircriticism
criticismin
inrelation
relationtoto
whi
le Deleuze
18
theconcept
conceptof
ofthe
the"lack,"
"lack," 18Althusser
Althusserseems
seemstotohave
havedone
donethe
thesame
samewith
with
the
someimplications
implications of
of the
the Lacanian
Lacanian concept
conceptof
ofnegation.
negation.
some

230
230

Pfaller
Pfaller

Negation and
and Its
Its Reliabilities
Reliabilities 231
Negation
231

Slavoj Zizek
2iiek also
also refers
refers to
to Althusser
Althusser in
in his
his interpretation
interpretation of
of Blade
BladeRunRunSlavoj
and uses
this reference
reference to
to support
support his
his argument.
argument. But
But itit might
might be
be posposner and
uses this
sible
to
develop
from
this
reference
an
alternative
model
of
the
Althussible to develop from this reference an alternative model
the Althusserian position,
position, which
would not
of
serian
which would
not only
only reestablish
reestablish a
a different
different image
image of
the
theory
of
this
widely
forgotten
philosopher
but
also
render
visible
the theory of this widely forgotten philosopher but also render visible
the cornerstones
of negation
negation as
well as
of
the
cornerstones of a
a totally
totally different
different theory
theory of
as well
as of
empty
subjectivity.
empty subjectivity.
Negation, the
the Theory
Theory of
of Ideology
Ideology
Negation,
the Empty
Empty Subject,
Subject, and
and the
of its
its message
The split and the truth of
message
the philosophical
at work
work in Blade RunIn his analysis
analysis of the
philosophical mechanisms
mechanisms at
to a
conceptual figure
theory
Slavoj 2iiek
Zizek refers
refers to
a conceptual
figure developed
developed in the
the theory
ner, Slavoj
first sight
of the
the French
French philosopher
philosopher Louis
Louis Althusser.
Althusser. At first
sight it seems
seems that
that
Althusser, with
with this
Althusser,
this figure,
figure, had
had described
described precisely
precisely the
the same
same logic
logic as
as is
practiced by
by the
the replicants.
replicants. So the
the comparison
comparison would
would show
show further
further supsuppracticed
port for the
2iiek writes:
writes:
port
the Lacanian
Lacanian position
position on
on the
the part
part of Althusser.
Althusser. Zizek
"it is only when,
at
the
level
of
the
enunciated
content,
I
assume
when,
the level
the enunciated content, assume my
replicant-status, that,
that, at
at the
the level
level of
of enunciation,
enunciation, II become
become aa truly
truly human
human
replicant-status,
subject.
'I
am
a
replicant'
is
the
statement
of
the
subject
in
its
purest
subject. am replicant'
the statement
the subject
its purestthe same
the
same as
as in Althusser's
Althusser's theory
theory of ideology
ideology where
where the
the statement
statement 'I
am in ideology'
for me
to truly
truly avoid
avoid the
vicious circle
circle
am
ideology' is the
the only way
way for
me to
the vicious
ideology (or
that nothing
nothing
of ideology
(or the
the Spinozean
Spinozean version
version of it: the
the awareness
awareness that
can
ever
escape
tlip
grasp
of
necessity
is
the
only
way
for
us
to
be
truly
can
escape th.e grasp
necessity the only way for us to be truly
19
free)." It is true,
free)."
true, in his essay
essay "Ideology
"Ideology and
and Ideological
Ideological State
State AppaApparatuses"
Althusser
writes:
"ideology
never
says,
'I
am
ideological'.
ratuses" Althusser writes: "ideology never says, am ideological'. It is
necessary to
to be
knowledge, to
to be
necessary
be outside
outside ideology,
ideology, i.e. in scientific
scientific knowledge,
be able
able
to
say:
I
am
in
ideology
(a
quite
exceptional
case)
or
(the
general
case):
to
am ideology
quite exceptional case)
(the general case):
20But
ideology."w
But it seems
that this
this remark
remark is in a
way too
too short,
short,
I was
was in ideology."
seems that
a way
that
it
does
not
fully
correspond
to
Althusser's
position
on
this
problem.
that does not
correspond to Althusser's position on this problem.
On the
the one
course, this
this remark
far as
that
On
one hand,
hand, of course,
remark is correct,
correct, as
as far
as it says
says that
science does
ideology when
when it breaks
with it. Ideology
perscience
does not
not destroy
destroy ideology
breaks with
Ideology persists in aa conflictual
with the
sists
conflictual coexistence
coexistence with
the new
new science.
science. Therefore
Therefore even
the scientist,
with an
on the
the
scientist, after
after breaking
breaking with
an ideological
ideological illusion
illusion on
the level of
the rest
his
his science,
science, cannot
cannot fully escape
escape ideology
ideology on
on the
the level of the
rest of his
social existence
very scientist
to
social
existence (for example,
example, the
the very
scientist becomes
becomes susceptible
susceptible to

an ideology
of science,
philosophy"). So
an
ideology of
science, a
a "spontaneous
"spontaneous philosophy").
So science
science (the
(the
scientist) must
must never
never say:
say: "I
"I am
am outside
outside ideology."
ideology."
scientist)
Yet on
on the
the other
other hand,
hand, Althusser's
Althusser's remark
remark could
could lead
lead one
one to
to aa wrong
wrong
Yet
conclusion. It could
could be
concluded (and
2iiek's passage
to sugsugconclusion.
be concluded
(and Zizek's
passage seems
seems to
gest it)
it) that
that the
the proposition
proposition "I
"I am
am in
in ideology"
ideology" were
were an
an unquestionable,
unquestionable,
gest
doubtless mark
of science
science or
or scientificality-or
scientificality or even
even the
the only
only possible
possible
doubtless
mark of
way to
to achieve
split beway
achieve scientificality.
scientificality. However,
However, the
the Verneinung
Verneinung (the
(the split
between the
the level of
of the
the enunciated
enunciated and
and the
the level
level of
of enunciation),
enunciation), the
the neganegatween
tion that
that characterizes
characterizes such
such remarks
remarks as
as "I
"I am
am in
in ideology"
ideology" is
is not
not always
always
tion
reliable. On
On the
the contrary,
contrary, there
there is
is an
an ideology
ideology that
that is
is based
based precisely
precisely on
on
reliable.
propositions like
like this;
this; there
there exists
ideology that
that consists
in saying
saying
propositions
exists an
an ideology
consists in
things
things like
like "I
"I am
am in
in ideology."
ideology."
For
For Althusser,
Althusser, this
this structure
structure might
might even
even be
be the
the basic
basic feature
feature of
of ideolideology
as such.
such. He
noticed such
cases and
ogy as
He has,
has, however,
however, noticed
such cases
and criticized
criticized them.
them.
This
be seen
seen for
This can
can be
for example
example in
in his
his remark
remark on
on certain
certain anti-intellectual
anti-intellectual
(i.e.,
and pragmatist)
(i.e., vitalist,
vitalist, empiricist,
empiricist, and
pragmatist) philosophical
philosophical positions:
positions: "No
"No
doubt
doubt this
this proclamation
proclamation of
of the
the exalted
exalted status
status of
of the
the superabundance
superabundance of
of
'life'
and 'concreteness',
'concreteness', of
'life' and
of the
the superiority
superiority of
of the
the world's
world's imagination
imagination
and the
the green
green leaves
leaves of
of action
action over
over the
the poverty
poverty of
ofgrey
greytheory,
theory, contains
contains aa
and
serious lesson
lesson in
in intellectual
intellectual modesty,
modesty, healthy
healthy for
for the
the right
right (presumptu(presumptuserious
ous and
and dogmatic)
dogmatic) ears."
ears."21
21What
What Althusser
Althusser examines
examines here
hereis,
is, once
once again,
again,
ous
negation. Propositions
like "My
"My knowledge
knowledge is abstract"
abstract" ((or
"I am
am in
in
aa negation.
Propositions like
or "I
abstraction")
are characterized
abstraction") are
characterized by
by aa split
split between
between the
the level of
of the
the enunenunciated content
content and
and the
the level of
of its
its enunciation.
enunciation. This
This split
split can
can be
be heard
heard
ciated
by
by aa good
good ear
ear ("a
("a bon
bon entendeur
entendeur salut''),
salut"), capable
capable of
of "symptomatic
"symptomatic readreading."22
ing." 22ItIt can
can be
be heard
heard that,
that, on
on the
the level of
of enunciation,
enunciation, the
the proposition
proposition
says
the contrary.
contrary. The
utterance "My
knowledge is
be
says the
The utterance
"My knowledge
is abstract"
abstract" must
must be
understood as
"My knowledge
knowledge is concreteso
that II
understood
as saying:
saying: "My
concrete-so concrete
concrete that
know ifif itit is
is abstract."
abstract."
know
But
does not
case to
But to
to hear
hear this
this split
split does
not mean
mean in
in this
this case
to conclude
conclude that
that the
the
speaker
must have
have a position
position of
enunciation outside
outside the
the limits
speaker must
of enunciation
limits of his
his
knowledge, which
which are
described and
and regretted
regretted on
on the
the level of
of the
the enunenunknowledge,
are described
ciated
content. The
The enunciation
enunciation of
knowledge is
ciated content.
of the
the proposition
proposition "My
"My knowledge
abstract"
does not
not necessarily
necessarily testify
testify to
the fact
speaker has
has
abstract" does
to the
fact that
that the
the speaker
overcome
overcome this
this very
very abstraction
abstraction of
of his
his knowledge.
knowledge. The
The split
split between
between the
the
two
not identical
identical with
two levels of
of speech
speech is not
with aa split
split between
between two
two levels of
of
23
knowledge,
a coupure
knowledge, with
with a
coupureepistenzologique.23
epistemologique.

Negation and
Its Reliabilities
Reliabilities z 233
33
Negation
and Its

232
Pfaller
2-32. Pfaller

As Althusser
Althusser notices,
notices, the split
split between
between the
the two
two levels of speech
speech in this
this
case
such a coupure,
coupure, it only pretends
pretends that
that the speaker
speaker
case only symbolizes such
has been
to transgress
transgress the
knowledge he admits.
But
has
been able to
the abstraction
abstraction of knowledge
admits. But
in this case
case it is aa wrong
wrong pretension,
pretension, an
an unjustified
unjustified claim ("presomp("presomptueux
dogmatique"). The
modesty of
enunciated is not
so modest
modest
tueux et dogmatique").
The modesty
of the
the enunciated
not so
on
the level
level of enunciation;
enunciation; and
and it is presumptuous,
presumptuous, because
because the posion the
tion
the enunciated
enunciated alludes
alludes is imaginary.
imaginary.
tion of enunciation
enunciation to
to which
which the
This
means that
that we
can, even
even on the level of enunciation,
enunciation, tell somesomeThis means
we can,
thing
thing other
other than
than the
the truth:
truth: somebody
somebody who
who knows
knows about
about the
the mechanisms
mechanisms
of negation
can instrumentalize
instrumentalize them
them as a code
code of communication.
He
negation can
communication. He
or
she can
can use
use negation
negation to tell a lie. For example,
example, the
the proposition
proposition "I
or she
am
replicant" would
would not
not provide
provide a reliable
reliable criterion
criterion for recognizing
recognizing
am a replicant"
human beings. This
criterion would
would not
not pass
human
This criterion
pass Turing's
Turing's test
test (which
(which tries
tries
to
see if a
a criterion
that we
we have
have found
found for the
the difference
difference between
between man
man
to see
criterion that
and
machine can
can be
be formalized
formalized and
and implanted
implanted into
software of the
the
and machine
into the
the software
machine).
Also, a real
real replicant
replicant can,
can, as
as a part
part of his
software, be propromachine). Also,
his software,
grammed
show the
the gesture
gesture of doubting
human nature.
grammed to
to show
doubting his
his human
nature.

Negation
Negation and cunning negation
negation
As far as
as psychoanalytical
psychoanalytical theory
theory is concerned,
concerned, we
we have
have therefore
therefore to
make a distinction
whether aa proposition
make
distinction between
between (t
(r)) the
the question
question of whether
proposition
like "I am
am in ideology"
ideology" is a
a negation;
negation; and
and (a)
(2) the
the question
question of whether
whether
what
this proposition
proposition denies
denies is true.
true. Only
Only in Freud's
Freud's special
special cases
cases of
what this
negation ("It
("It was.not
was.not my
my mother")
mother") does
the second
second fact
fact seem
to be
be imnegation
does the
seem to
plied by
by the
the first,
first, because
the speaker
does not
not know
know the
first, that
that is,
plied
because the
speaker does
the first,
he
does not
Recognizing the
he does
not know
know that
that what
what he
he says
says is aa negation.
negation. Recognizing
the fact
fact
that there
there is aa hidden
hidden message
therefore the
the same
recognizing the
the
that
message is therefore
same as
as recognizing
hidden
hidden message's
message's truth.
truth.
Now
there
seems
be a simple
simple criterion
criterion for
for discerning
discerning between
between
Now there seems to be
doubtless,
doubtless, unconscious
unconscious negation
negation and
and its
its conscious,
conscious, dubitable
dubitable use:
use: in
in ununconscious
negation (such
(such as
as "It
not the
the mother")
mother") the
the subject
subject says,
says,
conscious negation
"It is not
on
on the
the level of
of the
the enunciated
enunciated content,
content, something
something pleasant
pleasant for
for him/her.
him/her.
He/she
this content,
content, and
and the
the fact
enunciaHe/she fully identifies
identifies with
with this
fact that
that its
its enunciation
tion conveys
conveys aa second
second message,
message, is
is extremely
extremely unpleasant
unpleasant for
for the
the subject.
subject.
He/she
does not
have it; he/she
He/she does
not want
want to
to have
he/she is driven
driven to
to drown
drown itit out
out preprecisely
cisely by
by enunciating
enunciating it. 24

the case
the conscious
conscious use
negation the
the situation
situation is totally
totally difdifIn the
case of the
use of negation
ferent:
the
subject
enunciates
a
content
that
is
unpleasant
for
him/her,
ferent:
subject enunciates content that unpleasant
him/her,
often under
"I am
often
under the
the form
form of
of a
a self-accusation
self-accusation (for
(for example
example "I
am a
a replireplicant"). He/she
not identify
identify with
with this
content but
but with
with the
of
cant").
He/she does
does not
this content
the level
level of
enunciation that
that is meant
to call the
the content
content into
into question.
question. By negation
negation
enunciation
meant to
the speaker
the
speaker depicts
depicts himself/herself
himself/herself as
as something
something beyond
beyond this
this content
content
and identifies
identifies with
with this "transcendent"
and
"transcendent" position.
position.
The structure
of this
this "cunning"
"cunning" type
of negation
negation was
was also
The
structure of
type of
also described
described
by Freud.
acquainted with
with some
principles of
of psychoanalytipsychoanalytiby
Freud. A
A subject
subject acquainted
some principles
cal theory
"It was
was not
not the
the mother"
mother"
cal
theory would,
would, for example,
example, avoid
avoid saying
saying "It
and say
think it is the
the mother.
mother. But
no, that
that cannot
cannot be
true
and
say instead
instead "I think
But no,
be trueotherwise I could
otherwise
could not
not know
know it." The
The cunning
cunning negator
negator only
only enunciates
enunciates
the first
first part
part and
the second
up to
to the
the listener.25
the
and leaves
leaves the
second sentence
sentence up
listener.25
As can
As
can be
be seen,
seen, for
for psychoanalytical
psychoanalytical theory
theory negation
negation is
is a
a code,
code, a
a
way of producing
way
producing mewling.
meaning. This
This meaning
meaning is not
not necessarily
necessarily unconunconscious. Since itit is
is also
possible that
that somebody
somebody uses
uses the
the code
code of
of negation
negation
scious.
also possible
consciously to
to transmit
truth arises
consciously
transmit a
a certain
certain message,
message, the
the question
question of truth
arises
exactly as
production of meaning.
exactly
as in every other
other production
meaning. We could
could therefore
therefore
say: everything
that negation
negation sayseven
what itit says
on the
the level
level of
of its
its
say:
everything that
says-even what
says on
enunciationbelongs
belongs to
to its
its enunciated
enunciated content.
content. Only
Only the
the fact
fact that
that itit is
is
enunciationon the
the level
of enunciation.
enunciation. Everything
that can
can be
be
aa negation
negation remains
remains on
level of
Everything that
falsified or
or verified
verified is
part of
of the
the enunciated
falsified
is a
a part
the constative
constative level
level of
of the
enunciatednot of
of the
the performative
performative level
level of
of enunciation,
enunciation, where
where the
the question
question of
of truth
truth
not
does not
not play
play any
any role.
role.
does
Thus negation
negation is
is one
way of
of representation
representation among
among others.
others. ItIt is
is not
not aa
Thus
one way
privileged
way
of
representation.
What
is
expressed
by
negation
can
just
privileged way of representation. What is expressed by negation can just
26
as well
well be
in aa positive
positive expression.26
expression by
by neganegaas
be said
said in
expression. And
And an
an expression
tion
is
not
necessarily
more
true
than
an
ordinary,
positive
expression.
tion is not necessarily more true than an ordinary, positive expression.
Transgression by explicit
explicit immanence
Transgression
Negation is
is therefore
therefore not
not an
an apt
apt mode
mode for
for representing
representing something
something that
that
Negation
is constitutively
constitutively absent.
absent. Negation
Negation cannot
cannot be
be regarded
regarded as
the only
only posposis
as the
sible testimony
of something
that can
can only
only have
have aa negative
(for
sible
testimony of
something that
negative status
status (for
example,
the
status
of
man,
or
a
position
outside
ideology,
etc.).
For
the
example, the status of man, or a position outside ideology, etc.). For the
samereason,
reason, negation
negation is
is not
not the
the instrument
instrument for
for the
the only
only possible
possible transtranssame
gression of
of aa totally
totally closed
closed space.
space. ItIt is
is not
not aa performative
performative way
way to
to transtransgression

2.34 Pfaller
234
Pfaller
gress something
something that
that by definition
definition cannot
cannot be
be transgressed
transgressed (the
(the status
status of
of
gress
of ideology,
ideology, the
of knowledge;
knowledge; i.e.,
aa replicant;
replicant; the
the sphere
sphere of
the abstraction
abstraction of
i.e.,
the sphere
sphere described
described on
on the
the constative
constative level
level of
of the
the enunciated).
enunciated).
the
Once again,
Once
again, we
we could
could use
use here
here Althusser's
Althusser's opposition
opposition between
between
(Hegelian) contradiction
contradiction and
and (Freudian)
Negation
(Hegelian)
(Freudian) overdetermination?7
overdetermination.27 Negation
is overdetermined,
overdetermined, itit is
is not
not contradictory.
contradictory. ItIt solves
solves the
the problem
problem of
of how
how
is
to tell
tell something
something under
under the
the condition
condition that
that itit should
should not
not be
be told
told directly.
directly.
to
But itit does
does not
not solve
solve the
the problem
problem of
of how
how to
to make
make something
something true
true whose
whose
But
28
truth cannot
or be
Negation represents
represents an
an ababtruth
cannot appear
appear or
be told
told directly?'
directly. Negation
sence, but
but it is not
not the
the presence
presence of
of the
the absent
itself. (The
contradiction
sence,
absent itself.
(The contradiction
that appears
it is not
that
appears in negation
negation is aa mode
mode of representation,
representation, it
not what
what
contradiction in Hegelian
Hegelian tradition
tradition is supposed
supposed to
to be:
be: a feature
feature belongbelongcontradiction
ing to
to the
the Sache selbst.)
ing
Negation cannot
let such
Negation
cannot let
such a thing
thing appear,
appear, and,
and, according
according to AlthusAlthusser, such
thing does
does not
not exist.
exist. This
This might
might be
be explained
explained by aa difference
difference
ser,
such aa thing
between the
between
the Althusserian
Althusserian (psychoanalytical,
(psychoanalytical, Spinozean)
Spinozean) ontologyor
ontology- or
rather, topology-and
topologyand the
the Hegelian
Hegelian one.
one. The
The Hegelian
Hegelian solution
solution that
that Slarather,
voj 2iiek
Zizek proposed
proposed for the
the replicant
replicant problem
problem can
can be
be resumed
resumed by the
the
formula: transgression
immanence. This
This presupposes
presupposes topologitopologiformula:
transgressionby explicit immanence.
cally that
certain spaces
cally
that the
the only transgression
transgression of certain
spaces is a negative
negative transtransgression; that
gression;
that the
the only beyond
beyond of a
a closed
closed space
space is an
an empty
empty beyond.
beyond.
What limits
to be
What
limits the
the positive
positive has,
has, according
according to
to this,
this, to
be characterized
characterized as
as
something negative.
in his
interpretation of
of
something
negative. Althusser,
Althusser, on
on the
the contrary,
contrary, in
his interpretation
psychoanalytical theory
psychoanalytical
theory seems
seems to follow the
the Spinozean
Spinozean principle
principle that
that
something can
be limited
limited by
by something
something else
else that
that is
is of
of the
the same
same
something
can onty
on y be
29 Therefore, for Althusser and Spinoza, the solution
nature.29
probnature.
Therefore,
Althusser and Spinoza, the solution of a
a problem of transgression
transgression can
can never
never consist
consist only
only in the
the "empty
"empty gesture"
gesture" of
want to
to transgress
we must
another
aa negation.
negation. If we want
transgress a space
space we
must arrive
arrive at
at another
space. The
space.
The transgression,
transgression, as
as well
well as
as the
the space
space where
where we
we arrive
arrive by
by this
this
transgression, must
that cantransgression,
must have a positive
positive nature.
nature. (Whereas
(Whereas a space
space that
cannot be transgressed
cannot be transgressed
not
transgressed at
at all, cannot
transgressed by negation
negation either.)
android and human misery
The closed
closedspaces
spacesof android
This can
example, in Spinoza's
critical objection
an
This
can be seen,
seen, for example,
Spinoza's critical
objection against
against an
attitude of Pascal. Pascal
attitude
Pascal had
had proposed
proposed a
a (Hegelian)
(Hegelian) dialectical
dialectical solution
solution
for the problem
problem of human
human greatness.
greatness. Since,
Since, for Pascal,
Pascal, human
human misery
misery

235
Negation
Negation and
and Its
Its Reliabilities
Reliabilities 2.35

isis aa closed
closed space,
space, human
human greatness
greatness can
achieved and
can only
only be
be achieved
and testified
testified
negatively. And,
And, as
as in
in Hegelianism,
Hegelianism, this
this negative
negative gesture
gesture is
is regarded
regarded as
as
negatively.
aamark
mark of
of distinction
distinction between
between man
man and
and nature:
nature:
Man's
Man's greatness
greatness comes
comes from
from knowing
knowing he
he is wretched:
wretched: aa tree
tree does
does
not
not know
know itit is
is wretched.
wretched.
Thus
Thus itit is
is wretched
wretched to
to know
know that
that one
one is
is wretched,
wretched, but
but there
there is
is
30
greatness
greatness in
in knowing
knowing one
one is wretched.
wretched."
Spinoza
seems to
Spinoza seems
to reply
reply directly
directly to
to this
this in aa passage
passage of
of his
his Ethics: "He
"He
who
who succeeds
succeeds in
in hitting
hitting off
off the
the weakness
weakness of
of the
the human
human mind
mind more
more elodo31
quently
more acutely
acutely than
fellows, is
upon as
as aa seer."
quently or
or more
than his
his fellows,
is looked
looked upon
seer.""
For
For Spinoza,
Spinoza, the
the Pascalian
Pascalian solution
solution is nothing
nothing but
but an
an example
example of
of "pre"presumptuous
same
sumptuous modesty."
modesty." Human
Human greatness,
greatness, which
which is for
for Spinoza
Spinoza the
the same
as
achieved or
as human
human freedom,
freedom, cannot
cannot at
at all
all be
be achieved
or reliably
reliably testified
testified by
by its
its
denial.
as well
as real
denial. (Nor
(Nor is
is this
this negative
negative gesture,
gesture, as
well as
real freedom,
freedom, aa mark
mark of
of
distinction
between humanity
humanity and
nature.) To be
be free
free means,
means, for
distinction between
and nature.)
for Spinoza,
greater power
noza, to
to arrive
arrive at
at aa greater
power of
of producing
producing effects
effects that
that result
result only
only
from
own nature.
nature. To recognize
recognize that
are not
free is therefore
from one's
one's own
that we
we are
not free
therefore
only
only useful
useful as
as aa positive
positive knowledge,
knowledge, not
not as
as an
an empty
empty admission
admission without
without
knowledge.
means to
see that
considered to
knowledge. It
It only
only helps
helps ifif itit means
to see
that what
what we
we considered
to
be our
our own
own effects
effects are
fact not
not wholly
wholly our
our own-and
ownand ifif this
this is aa first
first
be
are in fact
step to
to produce
produce different
different effects
effects that
that really
really are
are our
our own.
own.
step
The
The same
same seems
seems to
to apply
apply for
for Althusser.
Althusser. For
For example,
example, to
to know
know that
that we
we
are in
in ideology
ideology means
means to
to be
be within
within the
the space
space of
of aa certain
certain positive,
positive, scienscienare
tific knowledge-a
space also
existence, materialized
knowledge a space
also with
with a positive
positive existence,
materialized in
in
should
an
apparatus of thought
("appareil de
de pensee").32
pensee"). 32 Therefore
an apparatus
thought ("appareil
Therefore we
we should
try
a different
passage in
try a
different reading
reading of
of Althusser's
Althusser's passage
in "Ideology
"Ideology and
and IdeologiIdeological
State Apparatuses."
Apparatuses." If, as
as Althusser
Althusser writes,
writes, "It
necessary to
to be
cal State
"It is necessary
outside ideology,
to say: I am
outside
ideology, i.e. in scientific knowledge,
knowledge, to be able to
am in
ideology," this
this does
not mean
that everybody
everybody who
who says
ideolideology,"
does not
mean that
says "I am
am in ideology" is, by proof
proof of
of this
this enunciation,
enunciation, within
within science.
On the
the contrary,
contrary, it
ogy"
science. On
means that
that only
only under
under aa certain
certain condition
condition we
we are
allowed to
to say
say that
that we
we
means
are allowed
are
are within
science we
can say such
such a
a thing
are in ideology. Only if we
we are
within science
we can
thing
without lying or being
the condicondiwithout
being presumptuously
presumptuously modest.
modest. Only
Only under
under the
tion that
that we have
the positive
science, are
we legitition
have arrived
arrived at
at the
positive space
space of science,
are we
mated
say that
are in ideology. But
sentence expresses
expresses aa
mated to
to say
that we
we are
But then
then this
this sentence
positive
be followed
positive knowledge.
knowledge. It can
can therefore
therefore be
followed by other
other sentences
sentences that
that

2.36 Pfaller
236
Pfaller
explain this
explain
this statement
statement (for example,
example, the
the sentences
sentences in Althusser's
Althusser's essay
essay
on ideology).
It is not
not the
on this
this topic.
topic.
on
ideology). It
the last
last and
and only possible
possible sentence
sentence on
And it is not
not a
And
a negation
negation anymore.
anymore.
With regard
of negation
negation has
to be
With
regard to this,
this, the
the Pascalian
Pascalian gesture
gesture of
has to
be seen
seen
as an
only overdeteroverdeteras
an overdetermined
overdetermined gesture
gesture in another
another sense:
sense: it is not
not only
mined in that
that it transports
transports two
two contradictory
contradictory meanings
meanings on
on its two
two levels
mined
of speech.
speech. It is also overdetermined
overdetermined on
on the
the level of enunciation
enunciation itself.
Because on this
wish
Because
this level it pretends
pretends a transgression,
transgression, it signalizes
signalizes the
the wish
to transgress
at the
to
transgress the closed
closed sphere
sphere of human
human misery.
misery. But at
the same
same time
time
it shows
that
it
does
not
really
want
to
transgress
this
sphere.
It
wants
shows that does not
want to transgress this sphere. wants
to maintain
maintain the
certainty that
that there
there is no
no real
real space
beyond; itit expresses
expresses
to
the certainty
space beyond;
the
fear
that
the
space
beyond
might
not
be
empty.
the
that the space beyond might not be empty .
Therefore, Althusser
Therefore,
Althusser would
would regard
regard the
the Pascalian
Pascalian attitude
attitude as
as imagiimaginary: it is an
wish of transgrestransgresnary:
an imaginary
imaginary transgression,
transgression, and
and even
even the
the wish
sion within
of transgression
transgression by
sion
within it is imaginary.
imaginary. The
The dialectical
dialectical concept
concept of
explicit immanence
explicit
immanence is a concept
concept of ideological
ideological integration.
integration. (We
(We might
might
remember here
Hegel as
remember
here Althusser's
Althusser's remark
remark on
on Hegel
as "(unknowingly)
"(unknowingly) an
an adad33
mirable 'theoretician'
ideology.")"
mirable
'theoretician' of ideology.")
Religious ideology
of its
its doubt
Religious
ideology and
and the
the shadow
shadow of
doubt
This means
to Althusser,
This
means that,
that, according
according to
Althusser, ideological
ideological integration
integration sometimes works
this gesture
imaginary transgrestimes
works precisely
precisely by virtue
virtue of this
gesture of imaginary
transgression.. We can
can be totally
totally integrated
integrated by
by ideology
ideology only
only ifif ideology
ideology itself
itself gives
gives
sion
us the
Therefore, ideology
ideology
us
the means
means to transgress
tqmsgress it in an
an imaginary
imaginary way. Therefore,
34
seems sometimes
to need
negation for it to
to function.
function?"
seems
sometimes to
need a gesture
gesture of negation
This is not
not only the
pragmatism, emThis
the case
case in the
the quoted
quoted examples
examples of pragmatism,
empiricism, etcetera,
the
piricism,
etcetera, where
where the
the negation
negation (which
(which pretends
pretends to
to criticize
criticize the
limits of theoretical
limits
theoretical knowledge)
knowledge) has
has the
the role of blocking
blocking every
every posipositive attempt
attempt toward
toward a theoretical
theoretical concretization.
concretization. The
same can
can also
also be
be
The same
seen,
example, in the
the Kierkegaardian
Kierkegaardian figure of the
the "true
"true Christian
Christian
seen, for example,
believer."
refers to this
this figure as
as follows:
follows: "we, finite mortals,
are
believer." Zizek
2iiek refers
mortals, are
condemned
'believe that
that we believe';
believe'; we can
can never
never be
be certain
certain that
that
condemned to 'believe
we
actually believe. This
doubt, this
awareness that
we actually
This position
position of eternal
eternal doubt,
this awareness
that
our
belief is forever
forever condemned
condemned to remain
remain a hazardous
hazardous wager,
wager, is the
the
our belief
only way for us
us to be
be true
true Christian
Christian believers:
believers: those
those who
who go
go beyond
beyond
the
threshold of uncertainty,
uncertainty, preposterously
preposterously assuming
assuming that
that they
they really
really
the threshold

Negation and
and Its
Its Reliabilities
Reliabilities 2.37
Negation
237
35 According
do believe,
at all but
arrogant sinners."
sinners."
do
believe, are
are not
not believers
believers at
but arrogant
According
to Kierkegaard,
Kierkegaard, aa true
true Christian
Christian can
can only
only be
be the
the one
one who
who says
says "I
"I doubt
doubt
to
whether
I
really
am
a
Christian."
whether I really am a Christian."
In this
this case,
case, itit seems
probable that
that Althusser
Althusser would
would completely
completely agree
agree
In
seems probable
with
the
result
of
the
Kierkegaardian
analysis:
negation
is
necessary
with the result
the Kierkegaardian analysis: negation
necessary
in order
to be
true Christian
terms, to
to be
be fully
fully
in
order to
be a
a true
Christian (i.e., in Althusserian
Althusserian terms,
subjectivized
by
Christian
ideology).
But
Althusser's
reasons
would
be
subjectivized by Christian ideology). But Althusser's reasons would be
completely different
different from
from Kierkegaard's.
Kierkegaard's. According
to Althusser,
Althusser, to
to be
be
completely
According to
a
true
Christian
does
not
work
by
negation,
because,
as
Kierkegaard
a true Christian does not work
negation, because, as Kierkegaard
postulates, such
such aa being
being could
could only
only have
have aa negative
negative existence
existence ((an
"interpostulates,
an "intermediate
state"),
only
negation
being
able
to
testify
to
this
existence
mediate state"), only negation being able to testify to this existencewithout any
possibility of
of lie or
or error
error for
for this
this negative
testimony. For
For
without
any possibility
negative testimony.
Althusser,
such
a
gesture
of
negation
would
be,
as
a
pure
negation,
a
lie.
Althusser , such a gesture of negation would be, as a pure negation, a lie.
or a
pure doubt
doubt without
without any
any positive
positive reason,
reason, would
would
A pure
pure negation,
negation, or
a pure
only pretend
pretend that
that there
there exists
exists aa reason,
reason, aa beyond
beyond of
of the
the closed
closed space
space of
of
only
non-Christianity.
non-Christianity. ItIt would
would only
only make
make up
up aa semblance
semblance of
of an
an ''intermedi"intermediate state,"
nothing but
but the
the present
present state's
state's empty
empty gestures
gestures
ate
state," being
being in fact
fact nothing
(or, as
Hegel would
would have
have said,
said, "em
trockenes Versichern").
Versichern").
(or,
as Hegel
"einntrockenes
So, this
this negation
negation would,
would, at
at first
first sight,
sight, be
be only
only an
an imaginary
imaginary transgrestransgresSo,
sion of
of non-Christianity;
non-Christianity; aa presumptuous
presumptuous modesty,
modesty, necessary
for total
total
sion
necessary for
integration into
into the
of nonauthentic
nonauthentic Christianity.
Christianity. But
But we
we
integration
the closed
closed space
space of
must not
not forget
that this
this result
result includes
Christian presupposipresupposimust
forget that
includes aa basic
basic Christian
tion: the
the idea
that non-Christianity
non-Christianity builds
builds aa closed
closed space
and that
that its
its
tion:
idea that
space and
beyond can
only have
have aa negative
that true
true Christianity
Christianity can
can only
only
beyond
can only
negative status;
status; that
be
-Christians,
be an
an "intermediate
"intermediate state"
state" and
and not,
not, as
asitit might
might appear
appearto
to non
non-Christians,
an
an enormous
enormous positivity
positivity materialized
materialized in
in aa powerful
powerful apparatus
apparatus at
at work
work in
in
perfectly visible
visible rituals.
rituals.
perfectly
For
Althusser, the
For Althusser,
the pronouncement
pronouncement of
of this
this presupposition
presupposition in
in terms
terms of
of
aa presumptuously
presumptuously modest
modest doubt,
doubt, is a
a crucial
crucial feature
feature of
(true) ChrisChrisof (true)
tianity,
Christian ideology
ideology as
as such.
such. This
presupposition testifies
testifies to
tianity, of Christian
This presupposition
to
the
basic
Christian
metaphysical
attitude:
the
devaluation
of
the
posithe basic Christian metaphysical attitude: the devaluation of the positive,
tive, in
in the
the name
name of
of aa nonpositive
nonpositive viewpoint.
viewpoint. The
The suggestion
suggestion that
that behind
behind
the
the utterance
utterance "I
"I doubt
doubt whether
whether II am
am aa true
true Christian"
Christian" there
there lurks
lurks aa true
true
Christian,
a lie. But this
this lie is constitutive
constitutive of
you are
are
Christian, is a
of Christianity:
Christianity: you
only
only aa true
true Christian
Christian ifif you
you have
have learned
learned to
to perform
perform this
this ritual
ritual of
of neganegation.36Therefore,
Therefore, this
this gesture
gesture of
of negation
negation really
really shows
shows that
that one
one is
is aa true
true
Christian:
not because
because what
what itit denies
denies were
were necessarily
necessarily true,
true, but
but because
because
Christian: not

2.38 Pfaller
238
Pfaller
negation is real.
the denial
not lie
lie
the gesture of negation
real. The
The importance
importance of the
denial does
does not
on its constative
on its
its performative
performative level. What
What it says
on
constative level; it lies on
says does
does
not have to be true,
performed
not
true, but
but it must
must be said.
said. The
The denial
denial must
must be
be performed
as a part
this ideology's
as
part of this
ideology's customs.
customs.
The Christian
The
Christian devaluation
devaluation of the
the positive
positive concerns
concerns in this case,
case, of
course,
the
positive
of
Christian
ideology
itself
(e.g.,
the
materiality
course,
Christian ideology itself
the materiality of
whether I am
true Chrisits rituals),
rituals), because
because the utterance
utterance "I doubt
doubt whether
am a
a true
Christian"
does
not
have
its
Kierkegaardian
negation-power
if
it
is
spoken
tian" does not have
Kierkegaardian negation-power
spoken
by someone
someone who,
who, for
for example,
example, sits
sits praying
praying in
in aa mosque.
mosque. Negation
Negation
can only make
"true" Christianity
can
make a difference between
between "true"
Christianity and
and something
something
that already
that
already looks
looks very much
much like Christianity,
Christianity, let us
us call it "machine"machineChristianity"
(or
between
man
and
something
that
looks
very
much like
Christianity" (or between man and something that looks
much
37
man, the
man,
the perfect
perfect "honune-machine").37
"homme-machine").
Negation
only
the
Negation only works
works in the
the case
case wherein
wherein everything
everything looks
looks as
as if the
speaker were
speaker
were already
already aa true
true Christianif
Christian - if he/she
he/she participates
participates in the
the
Christian rituals.
Then this
this proposition
proposition assumes
its distinctive
distinctive ideologiideologiChristian
rituals. Then
assumes its
and I behave
Chriscal value. It says then:
then: "I look like a
a Christian
Christian and
behave like aa Christian. But this is not
not the
the reason
why I really am
tian.
reason why
am a
a Christian."
Christian."
What denial
"truth" lies in
What
denial says, on its constative
constative level, is wrong.
wrong. Its "truth"
performative level: performing
performing this
this denial
denial is itself the
the "surplus"
"surplus" (over
its performative
(over
ideology's materiality)
ideology's
materiality) that
that denial
denial pretends
pretends to speak
speak about.
about. We could
could
therefore say that
that the
like
therefore
the Christian
Christian religion
religion must
must always
always be
be structured
structured like
Rene Magritte's
well-known painting
painting "Ceci
"Ceci n'est
pas une
pipe," which
which
Rene
Magritte's well-known
n'est pas
une pipe,"
shows something
shows
something that
that looks very much
much like a pipe
pipe and
and an
an inscription
inscription
that says that
not a pipe.
religion we
we have
something
that
that it is
i not
pipe. In the
the case
case of religion
have something
that looks
looks very much
to the
the church,
church, kneeling
kneeling
that
much like religious
religious belief (going to
down,
praying, etc.) and
an additional
additional remark
remark saying
saying that
that "this
"this is
is not
not it"
it"
down, praying,
and an
not "it,"
"it," since it lacks
thing: precisely
this remark.
remark.
-and
and it is really not
lacks one
one thing:
precisely this
By metaphysically
metaphysically devaluing
devaluing the
the materiality
materiality of Christian
Christian ideology,
ideology,
negation
function of "internalizing"
"internalizing" this
this ideology,
ideology, according
according
negation fulfills the function
to the
the attempts
attempts of internalization
internalization (Verinnerlichung)
proper to
to ProtestantProtestantto
(Verinnerlichung)proper
"purification" of Christianity.
Christianity. But we
we must
must probably
probably say
say that
that
ism and
and its "purification"
this Protestant
Protestant attitude
attitude is a necessary
necessary part
part of all Christianity,
Christianity, a "sup"supplement" that
orthodox,
plement"
that can never be taken
taken away
away even from
from the
the most
most orthodox,
"machinelike"
forms of Catholicism.
Catholicism. It marks
marks a constitutive
constitutive point
point of
"machinelike" forms
Christian
necessary ideological
between
Christian ideology, since it is the
the necessary
ideological reversal
reversal between
the
ideology's rituals
and the
the consciousness
consciousness of the
subjected to
the ideology's
rituals and
the subjects
subjects subjected
to

Negation and
and Its
Its Reliabilities
Reliabilities 2.39
Negation
239
these rituals.
rituals. The
The theoretical
of the
the importance
of the
the
these
theoretical misrecognition
misrecognition of
importance of
rituals (accompanied
by full
full practical
practical recognition),
recognition), expressed
expressed by
by ritual
ritual
rituals
(accompanied by
negation, is
is aa crucial
crucial feature
feature of
of this
this ideologyideologyand
maybe characterischaracterisnegation,
and maybe
tic, as
Althusser regarded
regarded it,
it, for
for all
all kinds
kinds of
of ideology.
ideology.
tic,
as Althusser
The zero-degree of
of interpellation:
interpellation: the
the subject
subject and
and its
its empty
emptydouble
double
The
This seems
important also
also with
with regard
to the
the question
of subjectivity,
subjectivity,
This
seems important
regard to
question of
that is, to
to the
of whether
whether the
the split
split between
the two
two levels
levels of
of
that
the question
question of
between the
speech is an
apt instrument
instrument for
for transgressing
transgressing the
the sphere
sphere of
of imaginary
imaginary
speech
an apt
subjectivitytoward a "true"
of the
the unconscious,
subjectivity-toward
"true" subjectivity
subjectivity of
unconscious, aa subsubjectivity beyond
subjectivization and
and interpellation
interpellation (the
questions that
that
jectivity
beyond subjectivization
(the questions
seemto
to return
return again
again and
and again,
again, troubling
troubling Lacanians
Lacanians and
andAlthusserians).
Althusserians).
seem
In aa footnote
footnote to
to Tarrying
Tarrying with
with the
the Negative,
Negative, Zizek
2iiek writes:
writes: "Therein
"Therein conconIn
sists the
the anti-Althusserian
anti-Althusserian gist
gist of
of Lacan:
Lacan: subject
subject qua$
qua $ is
is not
not an
an effect
effect of
of
sists
interpellation, of the
the recognition
recognition in
in an
an ideological
ideological call;
call; itit rather
rather stands
stands
interpellation,
for
for the
the very
very gesture
gesture of calling
calling into
into question
question the
the identity
identity conferred
conferred on
on
38
me
me by
by way
way of
of interpellation."
interpellation."" For
For Althusser,
Althusser, precisely
precisely this
this "gesture
"gesture of
of
calling into
into question
question the
the identity
identity conferred
conferred on
on me
me by
by way
way of
of interpellainterpellacalling
tion" is aa necessary
necessary part
part of
of interpellation.
interpellation. This
This gesture
gesture is
is what
what Althusser
Althusser
tion"
calls "effet-sujet."
"effet-sujet."39
39ItIt is
is an
animaginary
imaginary transgression
transgression of
ofimaginary
imaginary subjecsubjeccalls
tivity. ItIt pretends
pretends the
the autonomy
autonomy of
of the
the subject
subject toward
toward the
the very
very ideology
ideology
tivity.
by which
which itit became
became subject.
subject. This
This corresponds
corresponds to
to the
the imaginary
imaginary subject's
subject's
by
ideological feeling
feeling that
that itit has
has always
always already
already been
been aa subject-that
subjectthat itit has
has
ideological
been aa subject
subject even
even before
before achieving
achieving its
its imaginary
imaginary subjectivity.
subjectivity.
been
As we
empty subject
subject is
is only
only produced
produced by
by "cunning,"
"cunning,"
As
we have seen,
seen, the
the empty
conscious use
use of
of negation:
negation: the
the "self-accusation
"self-accusation type"
type" of
of negation
negation where
where
conscious
the
subject makes
makes his/her
the subject
his/her utterance
utterance only
only in
in order
order to
to be
be identified
identified with
with
the level of
of its
its enunciation
enunciation (i.e.,
(i.e., aa negation
negation that
that can
can lie).
lie). By such
such aa neganegathe
tion I, as
myself out
out of
of the
the universe
of my
my dubitable
dubitable
tion
as it were,
were, "throw
"throw myself
universe of
ideological identity
identity given
given to
to me
me by
by my
my image"
image" and
and rise
rise above
aboveitit as
asaapure
pure
ideological
gaze. Yet,
Yet, although
although apparently
apparently nothing
nothing but
but aa gaze,
gaze, this
this new
new identity
identity is
is
gaze.
nevertheless
imaginary, not
since by
nevertheless imaginary,
not symbolic.
symbolic. ItIt is still an
an image:
image: since
by the
the
enunciation of
of my
my negation
negation II testify
testify the
the fact
fact that
that II want
want to
to be
beseen
seenin
in this
this
enunciation
position of the
the gaze.
gaze.
position
The
The ideological
ideological nature
nature of
of this
this feeling,
feeling, of
of course,
course, lies
lies in
in its
its function
function of
of
internalizing
internalizing ideology,
ideology, metaphysically
metaphysically devaluing
devaluing the
the importance
importance of
of the
the

240
240

Negation and
Its Reliabilities
Reliabilities 2 241
41
Negation
and Its

pfaller
Pfaller

ideological
materiality-for ideology
ideology itself, as
as well as for the
the identity
ideological materialityfor
identity of
the ideological
with
the
ideological subjects.
subjects. Ideology
Ideology even has
has to provide
provide the
the subjects
subjects with
such a feature
feature in order
order to
enable them
them to
"transgress" their
their ideology:
ideology: it
such
to enable
to "transgress"
has
them as
as something
"beyond idenhas to
to interpellate
interpellate them
something "beyond
"beyond ideology," "beyond
identity."
40This
"interpellation beyond
beyond interpellation"
commonplace of
tity."4
This "interpellation
interpellation" is a commonplace
numerous
ideologies, such
such as
as the
the "Generation
"Generation X"
-movement or
numerous ideologies,
X"-movement
or French
French
existentialism
know, that,
although allegedly
allegedly beyond
beyond
existentialism (ideologies, as we know,
that, although
interpellation, identity,
interpellation,
identity, and
and the
the materiality
materiality of ideology, always
always possess
possess
aa very distinctive
distinctive materiality
materiality-i.e.,
fashion design
design and
and mores,
mores, such
such
i.e., of fashion
as frequenting
certain bars,
or semipublic
semipublic events);
but the
the
as
frequenting certain
bars, coffeehouses,
coffeehouses, or
events); but
same
applies for
a less programmatic,
same applies
for a
programmatic, cynical,
cynical, liberalist
liberalist pragmatism:
pragmatism: in
this
case the
the absence
absence of identity
identity can
can itself
itself be
be perceived
perceived as
as an
an identitythis case
identity
as
such
a
rigid
identity,
that
it
again
has
to
be
imaginarily
transgressed.
as such rigid identity, that again has to be imaginarily transgressed.
The
assume the
The transgression,
transgression, then,
then, can
can assume
the form
form of
of aamore
more colorful
colorful identity,
identity,
for
an urban
as a
a pastime.
for example,
example, an
urban tribalism
tribalism or
or romantic
romantic motorcycling
motorcycling as
pastime.
Thus
even "full"
"full" identity
identity itself
itself can
can take
take over the
the role
role of the
the necessary
necessary
Thus even
beyond
that
allows
the
subjects
to
live
their
"effet-sujet,"
their
indebeyond that allows the subjects live their "effet-sujet," their independence
from the
the "empty"
"empty" identity
identity that
ideology seems
seems to
pendence from
that their
their own
own ideology
confer
upon them.
them.
confer upon
We
could say
say that,
analogous to
every society's
society's structure,
structure, which,
as
We could
that, analogous
to every
which, as
Althusser
has pointed
modes of
Althusser has
pointed out,
out, always
always consists
consists of
of at
at least
least two
two modes
of proproduction,41
the ideological
superstructure also
also always
duction," the
ideological superstructure
always consists
consists of at
at least
least
two
modes of identity.
seems important
me with
regard to
the
two modes
identity. This
This seems
important to
to me
with regard
to the
reply
has given to
developed
reply that
that Slavoj Zizek
2iiek has
to my
my argument
argument (as it was
was developed
in an
an earlier,
earlier, private
priwte communication).
communication). Ziiek
Zizek writes:
writes: "In
"In order
order to
to proprovide
a Lacanian
vide a
Lacanian answer
answer to
to this
this criticism,
criticism, it is necessary
necessary to
to introduce
introduce the
the
distinction between
subject qua
qua pure
pure void
void of self-relating
self-relating negativity
negativity ($)
distinction
between subject
and
the phantasmic
phantasmic content
content which
out this
this void
void (the
(the 'stuff
and the
which fills out
'stuff of
of the
the
I',
as Lacan
Lacan puts
puts it). That
say: the
the very
I', as
That is
is to
to say:
very aim
aim of
of the
the psychoanalytic
psychoanalytic
process
subject to
'secret treaprocess is, of
of course,
course, to
to induce
induce the
the subject
to renounce
renounce the
the 'secret
treasure'
the kernel
kernel of
However,
sure' which
which forms
forms the
of his
his phantasmic
phantasmic identity
identity...... . . However,
the
subject prior
the subject
prior to
to interpellation-subjectivization
interpellation-subjectivization is not
not this
this imaginary
imaginary
phantasmic
depth which
which allegedly
allegedly precedes
precedes the
the process
process of
interpellaphantasmic depth
of interpellation,
but the
the very
very void
void which
which remains
remains once
once the
the phantasmic
phantasmic space
space is
tion, but
emptied
emptied of
of its
its content."
content."42
42From
From an
an Althusserian
Althusserian position,
position, again,
again,!I would
would
answer
some phantasanswer that
that in
in ideology
ideology we
we do
do not
not only
only have
have to
to do
do with
with some
phantasmatic
matic or
or imaginary
imaginary content
content (which
(which fills the
the void
void of
of "true
"true subjectivity");
subjectivity");

ideology is
ideology
is as
as well
well the
the appearance
appearance of
of a
a void
void that
that seems
seems to
to be
be somesomething totally
totally different
different from
from any
ideological content.
content. Klaus
Heinrich has
thing
any ideological
Klaus Heinrich
has
demonstrated this by analyzing
analyzing two
two famous
demonstrated
famous "subjects
"subjects beyond
beyond interpelinterpellation," two
two classical
without qualities":
qualities": the
lation,"
classical "nobodies"
"nobodies" or "men
"men without
the cases
cases
of Homerian
Homerian Odysseus
the giant
giant Polyphemus
of
Odysseus (who,
(who, as we know,
know, tricks
tricks the
Polyphemus
by telling
of Bertolt
Herrn
by
telling him
him that
that his
his name
name is
is Nobody)
Nobody) and
and of
Bertolt Brecht's
Brecht's Herrn
Keuner (which
(which alludes
alludes to
to German
"keiner" == nobody).
Heinrich shows
shows
Keuner
German "keiner"
nobody). Heinrich
that
their
"non-identity"
is
precisely
an
imaginary
mode
of
identity:
that their "non-identity" is precisely an imaginary mode
identity:
"The early, heroic
"The
heroic nobody-characters
nobody-characters ..... . could
could still enjoy
enjoy their
their nonnonliability
as
a
gliding.
They
opposed,
as
the
subtle
beings,
the
crustaceans,
liability as a gliding. They opposed, as the subtle beings, the crustaceans,
the bourgeois,
in their
their identity
identity..... . .
the
bourgeois, who
who seemed
seemed obdurate
obdurate and
and blocked
blocked in
Today's
nobody-characters
want
to
be
a
void:
really
a
nothing.
But... .
Today's nobody-characters want to be a void: really a nothing. But
43
precisely the
precisely
the void, the
the negative,
negative, is
is liable.""
liable." Ideology
Ideology does
does not
not have
have
an
outside:
the
void
is
still
an
identity,
and
a
"zero-interpellation,"
an outside: the void
an identity, and "zero-interpellation," an
an
"interpellation beyond
interpellation," is still an
"interpellation
beyond interpellation,"
an interpellation.
interpellation. Herein
Herein
might lie the
the reason
reason why
why Althusser,
Althusser, as
opposed to
to Lacan,
Lacan, refused
refused to
to acmight
as opposed
accept the
the notion
notion of "true
"true subjectivity"
subjectivity" as
theoretical concept.
concept.
cept
as a
a theoretical
But ifif there
there is aa "true
"true subject,"
subject," then
then itit cannot
cannot always
always be
be found
found with
with the
the
But
theoretical instrument
instrument of
of the
the distinction
distinction between
of the
the enuntheoretical
between the
the level of
enunciated and
and the
the level of
of enunciation.
enunciation. What
What is hidden
hidden on
on the
the level of
of enunenunciated
ciation is
is sometimes
sometimes nothing
nothing but,
but, again,
again, the
the very
very subject-the
subjectthe imaginary
imaginary
ciation
subject that
that we
wehoped
hoped to
to transgress
transgress by
by leaving
leaving the
the level
level of
of the
the enunciated.
enunciated.
subject
Two consequences
could be
this for
for a
psychoanalytical
Two
consequences could
be drawn
drawn from
from this
a psychoanalytical
theory of ideology:
try not
to share
theory
ideology: first,
first, that
that theory
theory must
must try
not to
share the
the selfself44-theory
understanding of
of its
its object
object"
theory should
understanding
should refrain
refrain from
from believing
believing in
the forms
the
forms of ideology's
ideology's imaginary
imaginary self-transgression
self-transgression (which
(which produce
produce
illusionary subject-positions
priillusionary
subject-positions beyond
beyond ideology).
ideology). And,
And, second:
second: any
any primacyof
ofnegation
negation over
over positive
positive representation
representation must
must be
beregarded
regarded as
asone
one of
of
macy
the suggestions
of ideology's
ideology's self-understanding.
this suggesthe
suggestions of
self-understanding. To evade
evade this
suggestion means
meansto
to follow
follow Louis
Louis Althusser
Althusser in
in his
his Spinozean
Spinozean serenity:
serenity: to
to regard
regard
tion
the object
object strictly
strictly as
theoretical object-as
objectas aa "plan
"plan d'immanence,"
the
as aa theoretical
d'immanence," a
a
wholly positive
positive whole.
whole.
wholly
Notes
Notes
This
This article
article is
is based
based on
on aa letter
Letter to
to Slavoj
Slavoj Zizek
2fiek dating
dating from
from March
March 26,
26, 11995.
Slavoj
9 9 5. Slavoj
2iiek referred
referred to
to this
this letter
letter in
in The
The Indivisible
Indivisible Remainder:
Remainder: An
An Essay
Essayon
on Schelling
Scbelling and
and
Zizek
RelatedMatters
Matters (London:
(London: Verso,
Verso,1996),
165-66.
Related
1996), 165-66.

Negation and
and Its
Its Reliabilities
Reliabilities 2 243
.43
Negation

2.42. P Pfaller
faller
242
Negative: Kant, Hegel and the Critique of
of Ideology
Ideology
Cf. Slavoj 2iiek,
Zizek, Tarrying
Tarrying with the Negative:

enunciation (cf. Ludwig


Ludwig Wittgenstein,
Wittgenstein, On
On Certainty [New
[New York:
York: Harper
Harper and
and Row,
Row,
enunciation

(Durham: Duke
University Press,
9-1x.
(Durham:
Duke University
Press, 1993),
1993), 9-n.

1972],
461, 464).
1974461,464).

2a

question of whether
whether a
a proof
proof of
the existence
existence of
one's subjectivity
subjectivity (which
(which DesDesTThe
h e question
of the
of one's
cartes
produces) is at
the same
same time
nature (which
the replicartes produces)
at the
time aa proof
proof of
of one's
one's human
human nature
(which the
replicants strive
of the
two quescants
strive for) will be
be left aside
aside here.
here. The
The common
common denominator
denominator of
the two
ques tions
the search
search for something
something that
beyond dubitable
dubitable phenomenality.
tions is the
that lies beyond
phenomenality.
3 2 Zizek,
i i e k , Tarrying,
Tarrying, 4o.
40.
f . Jacques
of Psycho-Analysis,
Psycho-Analysis, trans.
44 CCf.
Jacques Lacan,
Lacan, The
The Four
Four Fundamental
FundamentalConcepts
Concepts of
trans. Alan
Alan
Sheridan (New
York: Norton,
Norton, 1981),
1981), 35.
Sheridan
(New York:
55 2Liek,
Zizek, Tarrying,
Tarrying, 40.
40.
f . Jacques
66 CCf.
Jacques Lacan,
Lacan, Eats:
Ecrits: A Selection,
Selection,trans.
trans. Alan
Alan Sheridan
Sheridan (New
(New York:
York: Norton,
Norton,

1977), 165.
1977),

For Wittgenstein,
Wittgenstein, as
as for
for Lacan,
Lacan, itit was
was clear
clear that
that ifif there
therewere
were negation
negation involved,
involved, itit
For
had
had to
to be
be found
found in
in the
the relationship
relationship between
between these
these two
two levels.
levels. Therefore,
Therefore, the
the propopropo-

sition itself
could be
entirely positive,
positive, without
without any
any "no"
"no" or
or "not
"not."
Negation could
could
sition
itself could
be entirely
." Negation
have
have the
the form
form of
of propositions
propositions like
like "I
"I know
know that
that this
this is
is aa hand"
hand" or
or "I
" I knew
knew all
all the
the

time that
that you
you are
are N.
N. N."
N."
time
The fact
fact that
that Freud
Freud himself
himself did
did not
not rely
rely on
on the
the Aristotelian
Aristotelian concept
concept of
of negation,
negation,
The
can be
a l'etat
Pam pratique in
in his
his analysis
analysis of
of various
various forms
of negation
negation at
at work
work
forms of
can
be seen
seen a
in
in paranoia:
paranoia: in
in his
his reading
reading of
of Schreber's
Schreber's memoirs
memoirs (cf. Sigmund
Sigmund Freud,
Freud, "Psychoana
"Psychoana-

lytic Notes
Notes Upon
Upon an
an Autobiographical
Autobiographical Account
Account of
ofParanoia,"
Paranoia," in
in Three
Three Case Histories
Histories
lytic
[New
Collier, 1970],
1970], 165-68),
shows that
that a
a negation
negation can
can have
have aa purely
pmely
[New York
York:: Collier,
165-68), he
he shows

77 CCf.
Lacan, Four
Four Fundamenta1,138-40.
Fundamental,138-40.
f . Lacan,

positive
hates me"
(instead of
positive form
form like
like "He
"He hates
me" (instead
of "I"I hate
hate him")
him") or
or "She
"She loves
loves that
that man"
man"

88 CCf.
f . Jacques
Jacques Lacan,
Lacan, "Position
"Position of
of the
the Unconscious,"
Unconscious," in ReadingSeminar
SeminarXI,
XI, ed.
ed. Richard
Richard

(instead
(instead of
of "I
"I love
love him").
him").

Feldstein,
Bruce Fink,
Fink, and
and Maire
(Albany: SUNY
SUNY Press,
Press, 1995),
Feldstein, Bruce
Maire Jaanus
Jaanus (Albany:
1995), 263-64.
263-64:
99 2 Zizek,
Tarrying,41.
i i e k , Tarrying,
ro Cf. Sigmund
Sigmund Freud,
Freud, "Negation,"
"Negation," in General
General Psychological
PsychologicalTheory (New
(New York:
ColYork: Col-

lier, 1963),
1963), 113.
213.
lier,
II
interpreting the
the problem
problem of negation
negation (for
(for example,
example, in the
the case
case of the
the famous
famous
xi BBy
y interpreting
Lacan, Resits,
Ecrits, 2.98])
298)) in terms
"ne
"ne expletif"
explitif" [cf. Lacan,
terms of
of "enunciated/enunciation,"
"enunciated/enunciation," Jacques
Jacques
Lacan
has contributed
an important
psychoanalytical theory.
Because
Lacan has
contributed an
important clarification
clarification to
to psychoanalytical
theory. Because

Freud's own
own words
words (especially
his use
of the
the term
term "symbol
"symbol of
of negation
negation [Verneinungs[VerneinungsFreud's
(especially his
use of

symbol]"
[cf. Freud,
Freud, "Negation,"
"Negation," 214])
214]) could
could suggest
suggest that
that his
his theory
theory relied
relied on
on the
the
symbot [cf.
old Aristotelian
Aristotelian distinction
distinction between
between positive
positive and
and negative
negative judgments
judgments ("kataphasis"
("kataphasis"
Aristotle, De interpretatione,
interpretatione,5]). A negation
negation would,
and
"apophasis,' [cf. Aristotle,
and "apophasis,"
would, according
according
to
reading, be discernible
discernible by
like "not."
are a
a lot
to this
this reading,
by aa word
word like
"not." But
But there
there are
lot of
of negations
negations
that
not contain
." And
And there
there are,
are, by the
the same
same token,
that do
do not
contain a "not
"not."
token, aa lot
lot of
of propositions
propositions
that,
although containing
containing a
a "not,"
are not
that, although
"not," are
not negations.
negations.
Lacan's
new onceptualization made
made clear
clear that
that the
the key
key feature
feature of negation
negation had
had
Lacan's newconceptualization
to
found elsewhere:
elsewhere: in
in the
the split
split between
between the
the two
two levels
levels of
speech. Precisely
Precisely the
to be found
of speech.
the
same
position had
had been
been developed
developed by Ludwig
his considerations
same position
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Wittgenstein in his
considerations On
Certainty.
For example,
somebody uttered
uttered to
to a
a friend
a
Certainty. For
example, if somebody
friend during
during their
their conversation
conversation a
proposition
like "I have
have all the
the time
time known
known that
that you
you are
are N.
N.,'' this
this proposition,
proposition like
N. N.,"
proposition,
although
content could
could not
not be
be objected
objected to,
to, would
become (on
(on the
the level of
although its content
would become
of enunenunciation)
extremely unclear:
unclear: it would
would not
not be
be understandable
understandable why
why it was
was uttered
uttered at
at
ciation) extremely
all. The
The "background"
"background" of the
message was
was "missing,"
"missing," as
as Wittgenstein
noted : it was
the message
Wittgenstein noted:
was
not
clear why
situation should
should make
make such
such an
an utterance
utterance necessary.
necessary. Assuring
Assuring the
not clear
why the
the situation
the
friend
something that
beyond any
any possible
possible doubt
friend of something
that was
was beyond
doubt immediately
immediately signalized
signalized the
the
contrary:
that there
there existed
some reason
reason for
a doubt,
contrary: that
existed some
for such
such a
doubt, aa necessity
necessity for
for such
such an
an asassurance.
The indubitable
indubitable foreground
foreground of
message negated
negated the
surance. The
of the
the message
the indubitability
indubitability of
of its
its
background.
understanding, doubting,
as well
background. Therefore,
Therefore, in Wittgenstein's
Wittgenstein's understanding,
doubting, as
well as
as affirmaffirming certainty,
an operation
operation between
between these
these two
certainty, was
was an
two levels of
of speech,
speech, "foreground"
"foreground" and
and
"background,"
or, in Lacan's
Lacan's terms,
terms, between
between the
the level of
and that
"background," or,
of the
the enunciated
enunciated and
that of
of

The
The logical
logical criticism
criticism of
of the
the Aristotelian
Aristotelian concept
concept of
of negation
negation had
had been
been performed,
performed,
only
only aa few
few years
years before
before Freud's
Freud's "Negation,"
"Negation," by
by Gottlob
Gottlob Frege
Frege ("Die
("Die Verneinung,''
Vemeinung," in
in

Logische
Untersuchungen[Gottingen:
54-71), and
Logische Untersuchungen
[Gottingen: Vandenhoek
Vandenhoek && Ruprecht,
Ruprecht, 1966],
1966],54-71),
and
.0621).
by
by Ludwig
Ludwig Wittgenstein,
Wittgenstein, in
in his
his Tractatuslogico-philosophicus
logico-philosophicus (proposition
(proposition 44.0611).
12
iz TThe
h e role
role of
of answers
answers without
without questions
questions in
in theoretical
theoretical discourses
discourses has
hasspecifically
specifically been
been
investigated
Althusser in his
his theory
investigated by
by Louis
Louis Althusser
theory of
of "symptomatic
"symptomatic reading."
reading." Althusser
Althusser
regarded
regarded aa certain
certain type
type of
of these
these answers
answers as
as the
the "negation,"
"negation," the
the tacit
tacit presence,
presence, of
of aa
new
new theoretical
theoretical problematic
problematic within
within an
an old
old theoretical
theoretical field
field (cf.
(cf. Louis
Louis Althusser
Althusser and
and
25-28). I have
have elaborated
Etienne
Balibar, Reading Capital [London:
Etienne Balibar,
[London: NLB,
NLB, 1977],
1977], 25-28).
elaborated
on this
this point,
point, which
which marks
marks aa new
new invention
invention of
of Althusser
Althusser in
in breaking
breaking with
with aa certain
certain
on
heritage of
of Bachelardian
Bachelardian epistemology,
epistemology, in
in my
my book
book AlthusserAlthusser The
Silencein
inthe
theText
Text
The Silence
heritage
{Munich:
(Munich: W.
W. Fink
Fink Verlag,
Verlag, forthcoming).
forthcoming).
13 2Zizek,
i i e k , Tarrying, 41.
41.
13
14
Mladen Dolar,
"Beyond lnterpellation,''
14 Mladen
Dolar, "Beyond
Interpellation," Qui
Qui parle
parle 6,
6, no.
no. 21 (spring/summer
(spring/summer 1993):
1993):
75-96.
75-96i
15
Slavoj Zizek,
Is CCf.
f . Slavoj
2iielc, The
The Sublime
Sublime Object of
ofIdeology
Ideology (London:
(London: Verso,
Verso, 1989),
1989), 43-47
43-47-.
16
., 43:
16 CCf.
f . ibid
ibid.,
43: "this leftover, far
far from
from hindering the
the full
full submissionof
ofthe
thesubject
subject to
to the
the

ideological
ideological command, is the
the very
very condition
condition of
of it:
it: itit is
is precisely
precisely this
this non-integrated
non-integrated sursurplus
plus of
of senseless
senseless traumatism
traumatism which
which confers
confers on
on the
the Law
Law its
its unconditional
unconditional authority."
authority."
17
question of
is also
also crucial
17 OOff course,
course, the
the question
of negation
negation is
crucial for
for several
several other
other philosophical
philosophical
appears for
aesthetics, where
themes of
fields.
fields. ItIt appears
for example
example within
within aesthetics,
where the
the themes
of "negative
"negative reprepresentation"
have been
resentation" and
and the
the "sublime"
"sublime" have
been reintroduced
reintroduced into
into discussion
discussion recently
recently by
by
J.-F.
J.-E Lyotard.
Lyotard.
18
18 CCf.
f . Gilles
GillesDeleuze
Deleuzeand
andFelix
Felix Guattari,
Guattari, trans
trans.. Robert
RobertHurley,
Hurley,Mark
Mark Seem,
Seem,and
andHelen
HelenRR..
Lane,
Lane, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalismand
and Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia (Minneapolis:
(Minneapolis: University
University of
of MinMinnesota
nesota Press,
Press, 1983).
1983).
19 Zizek,
2iiek, Tarrying, 41.
41.
20
Louis Althusser,
to Louis
Althusser, "Ideology
"Ideology and
andIdeological
Ideological State
StateApparatuses,"
Apparatuses," in
in Essayson
onIdeology,
Ideology,
(London
(London:: Verso,
Verso, 1984),
1984), 49
49..

Negation and
Reliabilities 2.45
Negation
and Its
Its Reliabilities
245

244 Pfaller
Pfaller
2.44
21 Althusser
Althusser and
and Balibar,
Balibar, Reading
ReadingCapital,
Capital,117.
n7.
n
22 F For
this Althusserian
Althusserian concept,
concept, see
see ibid.,
ibid., 25-28.
25-28.
zz
o r this
ForMarx (London:
(London: Verso,1969),
Verso, 1969), 33;
33; Etienne
Etienne Baliibid., 44-46;
44-46; Louis
Louis Althusser,
Althusser, For
23 CCf.
f . ibid.,
Louis AlthusAlthus"Le concept
concept de
de 'coupure
'coupure epistemologique'
epistemologique' de
de Gaston
Gaston Bachelard
Bachelard aaLouis
bar, "Le
Ecrits pour Althusser
Althusser (Paris:
(Paris: Ed.
Ed . la
la Decouverte,
Decouverte, 1991), 9-57.
9-57 .
in Ecrits
ser," in
to the examples
examples of "absolute
"absolute certainty"
given by G. E. Moore:
Moore : Wittapplies also
also to
24 T This
h i s applies
certainty" given
Wittgenstein's discovery,
discovery, namely
namely that
that the
the utterance
utterance of a pleasant
pleasant certainty
certainty like "I know
know
genstein's
that this
this is my hand"
hand" has
has to be
be read
read as
as aa negation,
negation, is
is hardly
hardly pleasant
pleasant for Moore...
Moo~
that
to ordinary
ordinary negations,
negations, negations
negations
Freud would
would probably
probably have
have claimed
claimed that,
that, contrary
contrary to
25 Freud
always tell the
the truth:
truth: they
they try
try
this type,
type, on
on the
the level of their
their enunciated
enunciated content,
content, always
of this
(cf. Sigmund
Sigmund
to "lie by
by telling
telling the
the truth."
truth." Analogous
Analogous to the
the Lemberg-Krakau
Lemberg-Krakau joke
joke (d.
to
Jokesand
and Their Relation
Relation to the
the Unconscious
Unconscious[New
[New York:
York : Norton,
Norton, 1989],
1989], 137137Freud, Jokes
Freud,
"If you
you tell me
me it is
is the
the mother,
mother, you
you want
want me
me to
co
38), his
his answer
answer might
might have
have been:
been: "If
believe that
that it is somebody
somebody else.
else. But now
now I know
the mother.
mother. So
So why
believe
know that
that it is the
why do
do you
you
("If you
tell me
me you
are a replica=
replicant .. .... etc.").
etc."). Also
Also Lacan's
Lacan's solution
solution of
liarlie?"
lie?" ("If
you tell
you are
of the
the liarme you
"); cf.
paradox
was to
as a
a "cunning"
"cunning" negation
negation ("If
paradox was
to interpret
interpret it as
("If you
you tell
tell me
you lie ...
...");
Lacan,
Four Fundamental,
Fundamental,138-39.
138-39.
Lacan, Four
26
Negation is
is a matter
matter of censorship.
censorship. This
This means
means that
that something
something is not
not permitted
permitted to
16 Negation
be
expressed directly,
on the
the level of
be expressed
directly, on
of the
the enunciated,
enunciated, without
without using
using the
the split
split between
between
the
as a
a sign.
sign. But
the two
two levels as
But this
this prohibition
prohibition implies
implies that
that aa positive
positive expression
expression is
is pospossible.
Censorship does
does not
the impossible.
impossible .
sible. Censorship
not forbid
forbid the
27
Althusser, For Marx, 101-2.
27 CCf.
f . Althusser,
ior-z.
28
idea of such
such a
a negation,
however, describes
describes an
an interesting
interesting form
a performaz8 TThe
h e idea
negation, however,
form of a
performative
utterance: different
different from
from ordinary
ordinary performative
performative utterances
utterances like
like "I thank
thank you,"
tive utterance:
you,"
"You
are husband
husband and
make true
"You are
and wife,"
wife," etc.,
etc., which
which make
true what
what they
they speak
speak of,
of, aa performaperformative
utterance by
tive utterance
by negation
negation would
would make true what itit does not speak of.
29
Spinoza, Ethics, part
2.
29 CCf.
f . Spinoza,
part 1,1, def.
def. 2.
30
Blaise Pascal,
Pascal, Pensees
Pensees(Harmondsworth,
(Harmondsworth, England:
Penguin, 1966),
59).
30 Blaise
England: Penguin,
2966), n4
114 (p.
(p. 59).
31
Spinoza, Ethics,
Ethics,.part
3, introduction,
Understanding,
31 Spinoza,
part 3,
introduction, in On the Improvement of
of the
the Understanding,
The
Correspondence(New
The Ethics, Correspondence
(New York:
York: Dover,
Dover, n.d.),
n.d.), 128.
118.
32
Althusser and
32. CCf.
f . Althusser
and Balibar,
Balibar, Reading Capital,
Capital, 41.
41. The
The reason
reason why
why this
this space,
space, although
although

35 ZZizek,
i i e k , Tarrying,
35
Tarrying,247
247 n
n. 5353.
36 I I saw
this ritual
ritual very
clearly when,
when, shortly
shortly after
after the
the so-called
so-called "reunification"
"reunification" between
36
saw this
very clearly
between
West and
West
and East
East Germany,
Germany, dissident
dissident intellectuals
intellectuals from
from the
the former
former GDR
GDR were
were invited
invited
by Austrian
to discuss
guilt and
at the
the time
time under
"Stasi" surveilsurveilby
Austrian television
television to
discuss guilt
and heroism
heroism at
under "Stasi"
lance. Members
of Protestant
Protestant dissident
dissident groups
groups especially
especially astonished
astonished and
and irritated
irritated the
the
lance.
Members of
Austrian leading
attacking the
Austrian
leading the
the discussion
discussion when,
when, instead
instead of
of attacking
the present
present representarepresentatives of
of the
the former
former repressive
state's apparatuses,
apparatuses, they
repeatedly banged
their hands
hands
tives
repressive state's
they repeatedly
banged their
against their
against
their chests,
chests, making
making very
very loud
loud noises
noises on
on the
the hidden
hidden Tv-microphones,
TV-microphones, and
and
said: "Everyone
of us
so guilty."
guilty." This
This extreme
extreme (Protestant
as well
well as
suppressionsaid:
"Everyone of
us is
is so
(Protestant as
as suppressionspecific) language
humiliating oneself
in presumpspecific)
language game
game of
of defeating
defeating each
each other
other by
by humiliating
oneself in
presumptions of
of modesty
modesty was
surprising and
and quite
quite difficult
difficult to
to understand
understand for
for aa spectator
spectator not
not
tions
was surprising
acquainted with
with the
situation.
acquainted
the situation.
r Negation
only "christianizes"
Christians (which
(which might
might remind
remind us
us of
of Pascal's
Pascal's rere37
Negation only
"christianizes" the
the Christians
mark on
proofs of
mark
on the
the proofs
of God:
God: they
they only
only convince
convince the
the already
already convinced).
convinced). The
The same
same
applies for
for the
replicant problem:
proposition "I
"I doubt
doubt whether
whether II am
human
applies
the replicant
problem: the
the proposition
am aa human
being" would
would have
nothing but
comical effect
for example,
by
being"
have nothing
but aa comical
effect ifif itit were
were uttered,
uttered, for
example, by
the character
character played
played by
by Arnold
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger in
in The
The Terminator,
Terminator, after
after being
being transtransthe
formed into
into aa robotlike
robotlike machine.
machine.
formed
38 2Zizek,
f i e k , Tarrying, 254
254nn. 39.
39.
38
39 CCf.
f . Louis
sur la psychanalyse
2993), 131.
To
39
Louis Althusser,
Althusser, Ecrits
lcrits sur
psychana/yse (Paris:
(Paris: Stock/IMEC,
StockfIMEC, 1993),
131. To
give aa very
very rough
rough model,
we could
could say
that in
in Althusser's
theory of
of ideology
ideology there
there
give
model, we
say that
Althusser's theory
are only
only two
two "spheres":
"spheres": the
the social
social structure
structure and
and the
the imaginary
imaginary of
of the
the subjects'
subjects' selfselfare
understanding. These
two spheres
with the
the
understanding.
These two
spheres can
can be
be identified
identified with
the "symbolic"
"symbolic" and
and the
"imaginary" in
in Lacan.
third sphere:
sphere: the
the Real
Real (with
(with aa series
series of
of
"imaginary"
Lacan. But
But Lacan
Lacan posits
posits aa third
concepts belonging
to this
this sphere,
sphere, such
such as
as the
the lack
lack of
of the
the Other,
Other, the
the subject
subject of
of the
the
concepts
belonging to
signifier, the
the phantasmatic,
phantasmatic, etc.).
etc.). The
The reason
reason why,
why, for
for Althusser,
there is
is no
no choice
choice
signifier,
Althusser, there
between these
two paradigms
paradigms and
and why
why he
he refuses
refuses to
to accept
accept the
the position
position of
of aa third
third
between
these two
sphere seems
to be
the fact
fact that
that with
with this
would begin
affirming
sphere
seems to
be the
this notion,
notion, science
science would
begin affirming
the subject's
self-understanding (for
(for example,
example, itit would
would regard
regard the
the subsubthe
subject's imaginary
imaginary self-understanding
ject's imaginary
distance toward
toward its
its identity
identity as
as aa real
real distance).
distance). Science,
Science, then,
then, bebeject's
imaginary distance
comes susceptible
susceptible to
to the
the suspicion
suspicion that
that itit might
might be
be nothing
nothing but
butaa "rationalization"
"rationalization"
comes

positive,
cannot limit
space of
positive, cannot
limit the
the positive
positive space
of ideology
ideology is
is that
that they
they belong
belong to
to different
different

(in the
the Freudian
Freudian sense)
sense)of
of ideology
ideology.. And
And as
aslong
longas
asthis
this suspicion
suspicioncan
can be
bemaintained,
maintained,
(in

types
types of
of positivity,
positivity, which
which produce
produce different
different specific
specific effects.
effects. Ideology
Ideology is not
not aa lie
lie or
or an
an

there is
is no
no possibility
possibility for
for truth
truth in
in science's
science's propositions.
propositions. The
The field
field isis not
not open,
open, itit isis
there

error-which
be the
(and disappear
errorwhich would
would be
the precise
precise opposite
opposite of
of scientific
scientific truth
truth (and
disappear when
when

conflict-riddenin other
otherwords
words:: in
in this
this situation,
situation, within
within science,
science,the
thephilosophical,
philosophical,
conflict-ridden-in

itit arises).
space that
arises). There
There is
is no
no common
common space
that includes
includes the
the both
both of
of them
them.. A
A limitation
limitation of
of

polemical aspect
aspect dominates
dominates over
over the
the scientific
scientific aspect.
aspect. Science
cannot simply
simply "say
"say
polemical
Science cannot

theoretical
theoretical ideology
ideology only
only takes
takes place
place within
within the
the space
space of
of science.
science.

what itit wants"


wants" (for
(for example,
example,pose
pose aanew
newhypothesis).
hypothesis). As
As long
long as
as"the
"the stick
stick isis bent"
bent"
what
by ideology,
ideology, science
sciencemust
must direct
direct all
all its
its efforts
efforts atat bending
bending itit back
back (cf.
(cf. Louis
Louis AlthusAlthusby

33
Althusser, "Ideology,"
33 CCf.
f . Althusser,
"Ideology," 55 n.
n. 22.
22.
Althusser, "Ideology,"
34
thesis that
34 TThe
h e thesis
that "ideology
"ideology has no outside (for
(for itself)"
itself)" (cf. Althusser,
"Ideology," 49)
49)
should
be understood
understood as
an explanation
should be
as an
explanation of
of this
this fact:
fact: this
this thesis
thesis should
should not
not be
be read
read

ser,Philosophy
Philosophyand
andthe
theSpontaneous
SpontaneousPhilosophy
Philosophyofofthe
theScientists
Scientists[London:
[London:Verso,
Verso,1990
19901,
],
ser,
210).
no).

as
as an
an admittance
admittance that
that ideology
ideology can
can only
only be
be transgressed
transgressed negatively;
negatively; on
on the
the contrary,
contrary,

40 TThe
h e effect
effect of
of such
such an
an interpellation
interpellation of
of the
the subject
subject as
as aa pure
purevoid
voidcould
could be
be called
called aa
40

itit should
should be
be read
read in
in the
the following
following sense:
sense: negation
negation (such
(such as
as "I
"I am
am in
in ideology")
ideology") is
is an
an

"screen-psychosis." This
Thisapparently
apparently"psychotic"
"psychotic" layer
layercovers
coversthe
thesubject's
subject'sordinary,
ordinary,
"screen-psychosis."
"full" identity-which,
identitywhich,as
aswe
weknow,
know, isisalways
always"neurotic,"
"neurotic,"i.e.,
i.e.,the
theresult
resultofofan
anoverover"full"
identification.
identification.

integral
produces an
integral part
part of
of ideology,
ideology, since
since itit produces
an imaginary
imaginary outside
outside of
of ideology
ideology.. NegaNegation
tion is
is the
the imaginary
imaginary way
way out
out that
that leads
leads us
us right
right back
back into
into ideology.
ideology.

246 Pfaller
246
Pfaller
41 CCf.
f . Louis
Rafts philosophiques
pbilosophiques et
et politiques
politiques, .(Paris:
1995),
Louis Althusser,
Althusser, Ecrits
(Paris: StockflMEC,
StockfIMEC, 1995),
41
2:421.
2:421.
42 CCf.
f . Zizek,
Ziiek, Indivisible Remainder,166.
166.
42
43
Klaus
Heinrich,
Versuch
aber
Schwierigkeit nein zu
zu sagen (Frankfurt:
(Frankfurt: Suhrkamp,
Suhrkamp,
Klaus
Heinrich,
uber
die
Schwierigkeit
43

99

1964), 56;
translation mine.
mine.
1964),
56; translation
44
C
f
.
Althusser,
Rents
la psycbanalyse,
d'or du
du materialisme:
materialisme: ne
pas
Cf.
Althusser,
P.crits
sur
La
psychanalyse,234:
234: "Regle
"Regle d'or
ne pas
44

TIie
The Cartesian
Cartesian

juger de
de L'etre
rare par sa conscience
de soi!"
soil"
juger
consciencede

Subiect
Subject venus
versus
tlle
t h e Cartesian
Cartesian

Slavoj
Slavoj Zizek
2iiek

Tlleater
Theater

In
In his
his attacks
attacks on
on bourgeois
bourgeois ideology,
ideology, Lenin
Lenin liked
liked to
to emphasize
emphasize the
the need
need
for
knowledge of
enemies: one
one can
can sometimes
sometimes learn
for aa thorough
thorough knowledge
of one's
one's enemies:
learn
aa lot
since, in
an ideological
lot from
from them,
them, since,
in an
ideological struggle,
struggle, the
the enemy
enemy often
often perperceives
ceives what
what is truly
truly at
at stake
stake in the
the struggle
struggle more
more accurately
accurately than
than those
those
closer
us. Therein
closer to
to us.
Therein resides
resides the
the interest,
interest, for
for those
those who
who consider
consider themthemselves
selves close
close to
to "postmodernism"
"postmodernism" or
or "deconstructionism,"
"deconstructionism," of
of the
the emergemerging
school of
German and
and American
American followers
followers of Dieter
ing school
of German
Dieter Henrich:
Henrich: the
the
basic
project of this
this school
school is to counteract
counteract the
the different
different versions
versions of
basic project
today's
"decenterment" or
today's "decenterment"
or "deconstruction"
"deconstruction" of the
the subject
subject by
by way
way of
of aa
return
the notion
the sense
sense of
return to the
notion of subjectivity
subjectivity in the
of German
German Idealism.
Idealism.'1
ItIt would
easy to
demonstrate how
reading of
would be
be easy
to demonstrate
how their
their critical
critical reading
of "decon"deconstructionists"
(under this
designation, they
structionists" (under
this designation,
they usually
usually throw
throw together,
together, in aa
rather
rather indiscriminate
indiscriminate way,
way, Heidegger,
Heidegger, Lacan,
Lacan, Foucault,
Foucault, Derrida,
Derrida, Rorty)
Rorty)
often
misses the
engage in
often misses
the mark;2 however,
however, far
far more
more productive
productive than
than to
to engage
such
attempts to
score points,
focus on
such attempts
to score
points, is to
to focus
on the
the central
central position
position of
of this
this
school,
which undoubtedly
undoubtedly is of substantial
substantial theoretical
theoretical interest:
interest: their
their
school, which
endeavor
prove that
that the
the notion
notion of the
the subject
subject as it was
was elaborated
elaborated
endeavor to prove
in German
German Idealism,
precludes the
the subject's
subject's "decenterment"
"decenterment"
Idealism, in no
no way
way precludes
(i.e., the
the rejection
rejection of the
principle of subjectivity
as the
the ultimate
ultimate metametathe principle
subjectivity as
physical
foundation). What
What the
the "deconstructionist"
"deconstructionist" hasty
hasty dismissal
dismissal of
physical foundation).
self-consciousness
German Idealism
Idealism fails to take
take note
note of is precisely
precisely
self-consciousness in German
this
this paradoxical
paradoxical complicity
complicity of the
the two
two aspects
aspects of self-consciousness:
seLf-consciousness: the
the
dimension
dimension of
of subjectivity
subjectivity is irreducible,
irreducible, the
the subject's
subject's self-acquaintance
self-acquaintance is

Contents
Contents

1998
1998 Duke
Duke University
University Press
Press

All rights
rights reserved
reserved
All

Introduction:
as aa Shibboleth
Introduction: Cogito
Cogito as
Shibboleth

PART
COGITO AS
AS A FREUDIAN
PART II COGITO
FREUDIAN CONCEPT
CONCEPT

Mladen
Cogitoas the Subject of
Unconscious i ni
Mladen Dolar,
Dolar, Cogito
ofthe
the Unconscious
Zupan'eie, The Subject of
ofthe
the Law
Law 441
1
2z Alenka
Alenka Zupancic,
2iiek, Four Discourses,
Discourses, Four Subjects 774
4
Slavoj Zizek,
33 Slavoj

Printed
Printed in
in the
the United
United States
States

of America
America on
on acid-free
acid-free paper
paper @)
e
of

Typeset in
in Sabon
Sabon by
by Tseng
Tseng
Typeset

Information Systems,
Inc.
Information
Systems, Inc.

Library of
of Congress
Congress Cataloging-inLibrary
Cataloging-in-

PART!!
PART
II COGITO'S
COGITO'S BODY
BODY
44 AAlain
l a i n Grosrichard,
Grosrichard, The Case of
of Polyphemus,
Polyphemus, or, a Monster

and Its Mother 11


n77
55 MMiran
Occasionalism,or, Philosophy
Philosophy
i r a n Bofovic,
Boiovie, Malebranche's
Malebranche's Occasionalism,
of Eden 114
4 99
in the Garden of
66 Renata
Renata Salecl, The Silence
175
Silence of
of the
the Feminine
FeminineJouissance
Jouissance 175
PART III
III COGITO
PART
COGITO AND
AND ITS
ITS CRITICS
CRITICS
77 MMarc
de Kessel, A
Sovereign'sAnatomy: The Antique
a r c de
A Sovereign's
Antique in Bataille's
&tale's

Publication Data
Data appear
on the
the
Publication
appear on

Modernity and Its


199
Its Impact on His Political
Political Thought 199
88 Robert
Robert Pfaller, Negation and Its Reliabilities:
Reliabilities:

last
last printed
printed page
page of
of this
this book.
book.

An Empty
Empty Subject for Ideology?
Ideology? z 225
z5
An
99 Slavoj
Slavoj Zizek,
CartesianSubject versus the Cartesian
CartesianTheater
2iiek, The Cartesian

247

2 47

Notes on Contributors
Contributors 2.75
Notes
275
Index 2 277
77
Index