Lacan – The Mirror Stage, The Imaginary, and Social Media (How am I not myself?)

Lacan – The Mirror Stage, The Imaginary, and Social Media (How am I not myself?)

July 30, 2019 13 By Kailee Schamberger



ah is this video gonna be dark subjectivity subjectivity is what makes you you in religious traditions there are something like a soul it gives you subjectivity a divine investment and philosophy subjectivity is most often derived from their consciousness your mind and in some discourses from your brain although it is derived from some particular locus or arrangement it's also affected by your interactions with the world of my videos thus far this is by far the most difficult in terms of theory and at least for me the most likely to induce anxiety so you in psychoanalysis beginning with Freud desire is central to subjectivity we are subjects that desire things basic needs sure but also more general things good relationships personal fulfillment social status and you can't get these things from inside you which means that as a subject you can never be satisfied by your own agency alone do me a solid stop for a second and imagine visualize what are you hoping to get that you don't have right now what do you want your life to look like in a year a relationship better job better car a trip somewhere to act on your bad impulses less often a better rank and Fortnight desires something that's always in US and always points us outside to those things that you imagined would make you more yourself now here's a spoiler alert you are never going to be yourself how am I know myself how am I not myself desire is like a carrot on a stick because whenever you actually acquire the thing you were wanting desire then shifts a twin new projection in psychoanalysis this is fundamental to being a subject we project ourselves into a future alongside the other things we hope and strive for for lacan desires like an object inside you that changes forms it's fluctuating and mimics things outside over which you have no agency or control this means that you're never completely yourself there is always a desire shaped hole inside you always to be a subject is to be constantly imagining yourself more satisfied with something that you don't have you imagine yourself with other things you don't necessarily have any control over and you're stuck in a loop circling the drain until you die this loop is called neurosis and sorry it can't be fixed only avoided desire is characteristic of subjects which are never complete desire is always a part of you but always points outside elsewhere to things you don't yet have so what is not you is a part of you even right now you will often hear incredulity when some celebrity kills themselves the news story goes something like why'd they do it they had everything anyone could want fame fortune family what is it they didn't have well they wanted to be themselves and gave up trying there's always something more to want and that's the nature of desire now here's the tragic point at the heart of jacques lacan theory of subjectivity you can never be yourself a part of yourself qua subject is absent elsewhere elusive yet there is a ton of societal pressure to be true to yourself this constant messaging everything from kids movies yourself to advertising to music how am I not myself now I'd say it's pretty common knowledge that the media spectacle is with your head it is where characters celebrities influencers and us try to exhibit how good we are at being ourselves I'm going to spend the rest of this video trying to explain which part of your mind is getting caught with within visual based media the theme of this series you must appeal to categories which are easily represented in visual form Beauty Fitness fashion and you know lifestyle where you exhibit your images of wealth popularity or your personal enjoyment these in turn become the projections or the desires of those who see them be influenced in Lacanian analysis this is called the imaginary Lacan is among the most difficult theorists to understand and I'm gonna have to you know speed up a lot skip a lot if I'm gonna get this video done but stay with me in the Canyon psychoanalysis there are three registers of experience the imaginary the symbolic and the real the imaginary is constituted by identity and images and it's the least mediated register of experience it's not called the imaginary because it's pretend or make-believe but rather because it's image based so for example dreams are mostly made up of images second we have the symbolic register of language and science where identities are not only themselves but also defer to other meanings and the real well the reel is kind of the absent source of the whole rest of this triadic subjective apparatus but it will really mess you up when it enters experience it is the unmediated and you spend the whole of your lights avoiding it because encountering it means you temporarily blow the rest of the system up which it makes it really hard to live until you can piece it back together this is the source of anxiety transference and every other neurotic adaptation it was nietzsche who said the abyss stares back at you and that would be equivalent to the real now i'm currently not in the mood for a mental breakdown today so let's just avoid the real well that's what most of living is and set our sights instead on the imaginary the imaginary is image based you can see that word in there it's not visual as in a sense of sight and light per se although that is this closest correlate if you want an analogy the function of influencers or celebrities in our media ecology is to create an imaginary ultimately available for purchase I have done some content on that in terms of the spectacle as a social construct but here we are talking about your mind and how you respond to and internalize this spectacle desire makes a return here and moves around through this visual vocabulary projecting your future self which is called your ideal eye into this world of images your ideal eye is ultimately a fiction however you are looking at your future self as if you were someone else's gaze wanting to be seen in the imaginary the same way you see others celebrities mainly and you see this when kids are you know singing in front of the mirror or celebrating after scoring even if they're shooting hoops alone early in life your fictional self is aligned with the fictions of the imaginary including this imaginary crowd according to psychoanalysis you're not a subject when you're born babies don't want things like fulfillment or status because they can't yet signify in abstractions similarly this is why animals are not subjects in the Lacanian sense you have to learn through images and language and social interactions what to desire for like all there is a point when you're a toddler called the mirror stage one of his most famous terms simply put this is a moment when you recognize the reflection in the mirror as yourself as a two or three year old seems rather innocuous right not for lacan the mere stage is a fundamental but tragic moment that is the root cause of all the anxiety you experience for the rest of your life now anxiety in psychoanalysis is not something like anxiety disorder it's not that kind of diagnosis anxiety is a general and fundamental symptom of just being a subject in particular because you can never actually get what you want anxiety in that sense is normal especially in a cultural imaginary that's endlessly telling you to be yourself so why is this moment such a big deal well something happens in the mirror stage for the first time you see yourself in the reflection as an object remember how you are always desiring things objects don't desire so now as an infant you have an externalized image of yourself as an object alongside all the other objects that make up your world blankets balls bottles and so on yeah you also have an internal experience that is diametrically opposed to this objectivity or apparent objectivity objects are constituted by the parts that make them up while subjects are constituted by desire which is an object that doesn't make them up you aren't like other objects because of desire objects are objects because they don't desire and desire is always directed outside then not you is a fundamental part of you so you qua subject are caught up in an irreconcilable paradox you see and imagine yourself as an object yet you can never be an object and this is the moment of the mirror stage it's a fundamental misrecognition or what in French is a mechonis all's I miss knowing you'll be stuck in from then on prior to the mirror stage you are scattered throughout various sensory elements your hands your feet your voice yet none of them condense into a single unity now in the mirror stage the reflection in the mirror creates an imaginary an image based unity a form with a clearly defined outline that you call yourself we are never in fact ourselves but a loose arrangement of inside outside self desire and of subject and object one of the most extreme symptoms of object misrecognition for Lacan is when you attach sexual desire to objects for example of a man having a sexual fetish for women's shoes he has transferred desire sexual desire onto an object now this initial misrecognition all happens before we even acquire language then when we do acquire language the problem gets even worse it's compounded we learned the word I I put yourself in a sentence alongside all other signifiers blanket ball bottle and this reinforces that original make common sense because now you are signifying yourself just as you signify any other object but yourself is not fixed because your desires a part of you and yet always outside of you the eye that you utter can never fully signify your ideal eye now we are entering the symbolic register which defines some of lakhan's play to work because you're a subject you're never just yourself yourself is caught up in this outside world but you want to be yourself you desire that because it would mean the end of your anxiety now the notion of stable ego presupposes incorrectly that there are fixed consciousnesses from which social arrangements emerge Lacan does hold out a limited sense of individual subjectivity in the uniqueness of egos as there's a pattern of continuity but there's not an independent subject with particular agency that can be properly signified the important point is that this form the ideal eye in the mirror situates the agency of the ego before its social determination in a fictional direction which will always remain irreducible for the individual your unit is a fiction and this fiction is constructed during the mirror stage and then through linguistic acquisition both very early in life the rest of your life is spent tragically trying to become this I this is the reason it's so difficult to be happy with what you are and what you have at a moment and why we continuously project into the future the imaginary in psychoanalysis is about identities identities are enclosed boundaries or what ancient philosophers like Aristotle would have called forms now forms are complete they have names they might be made up of parts but they become one thing an image thing now finally here's where this cashes out in the visual based social media influencers are Mis recognized as objects in the same way you miss recognize yourself as an object in the mirror stage they are anxious subjects trying to be themselves and in trying to turn themselves into objects they need to be seen as complete unities alongside other objects they aren't desiring to be seen is the desire to be complete because you become an object in another's eyes Lacan draws on sart's phenomenology in his concept of the gaze but extends it to show that the function of the gaze is to externally construct yourself as if someone was looking at you from the outside remember the kids in front of the imaginary crowd that imaginary crowd is who is watching you but no one's actually watching you the gaze of others is a projection that makes up you as a subject as another failed attempt to turn yourself into one complete thing make sense no well think of it this way we believe that things exist because we see them so wanting others to see us is a way of existing and thereby curbing that anxiety but the desire in this arrangement of being seen originates in you because you don't experience others desires others are part of you from the mirror stage onward now social media makes this desire concrete as to never been done before being seen becomes quantified in the number of likes and views you can seduce from the massive subscribe unfortunately you're never seen because the imaginary crowd is in you it's not out there the extreme example of this is the paranoiac and the paranoiac believes everyone's watching him all the time even though this isn't the case they have transferred the imaginary crowd in their minds into their actual experience it is your image that is seen ultimately a body double that you know deep down is not you that double which is your profile pic the gallery of images or whatever can never be you because it doesn't have the desire that makes you you and desire can't be made into an image it's a formless object with a reference that's always fluctuating and moves immediately when you acquire whatever it was that you were just desiring now realizing that your online image is not you you want to make it the you that you desire to be so adventurous well-liked attractive and most importantly seen as desirable by others now look at the tragic logic here your desire is what makes you incomplete yet you desire the desire of others which is what makes them incomplete or again desire is the emptiness at the center of subjects it's the lack of completeness that makes us need things like relationships careers lifestyles or whatever we designate ourselves as missing so what you're really wanting from other people is a missing substance and negation and an absence in others in order to fill the absence in you this will obviously never solve the fundamental problem in yourself and can never be resolved the gaze of no one in particular the imaginary crowd is what you have already projected into yourself since the mirror stage so your media image is now the mirror of a mirror now everyone has the media technologies to try and complete themselves like celebrities and newsflash it's not working this is why the loop is never ending it's orbiting the event horizon of an interminable fundamental lack at the center of subjectivity itself and this is what keeps instagrams society of spectacle going there's always more desire to be accrued always more virtual images to post always an excess of desire it's a problem without a solution which is what makes it profitable and people will keep buying into it Lakai gives us sort of a rubric to understand the function of the image and the formed in online environments where both the imaginary and desire run rampant and unchecked the spectacle offers temporary fixes for what is the problem of being subjects and that's not to say there's a solution however but it seems to me like crafting a lifestyle based on the most superficial desires namely clothes becoming thin or getting rich is the most unlikely we to success damn that was heavy and in plastic bills this is the third video in my images of postmodernism series which uses the books a cream and the four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis by Lacombe now I've barely scratched the surface with either of these texts believe me not even close but most of all I've been doing on this channel are introductions to concepts and then like pertinent applications from the popular imaginary this one is probably the most theoretically demanding so far so please hit the comments section if you think it was effective or successful and these imaginary buttons around me if you like what I'm doing especially this one don't end obese patch up how am I not myself