Unbehagen: A Gallantry with Excess
This paper has its foundation in Lacanian psychoanalytic theory as a way of understanding, from a scientific perspective, the human impact of material technology under the conditions of capitalism. Two related propositions concerning material technology are interrogated in terms of the Lacanian struggle for subjective articulation. Firstly, if following Frederick Kittler, information and communication technologies retain their autonomy beyond the subject, having emerged as a product of their storage, containment and repetitive usage, and if we as subjects embody technological developments as they occur, it could be argued that such technologies possess imaginary agency in that their ability for self-preservation and reproduction constitutes a commanding of unending enjoyment. Insofar as this command is enshrined within capitalism it tends to ignore subjective division and to bypass subjective struggle with the impossibility of language. Rather than affording the subject a new language, material technology merely hints at a contingent language yet to come. Further, in obfuscating the necessity for disinterest–the intellectual position–material technology operates as a discourse which fails to capture the subject, or more precisely, lalangue. Through its inevitable disappearance (and re-emergence transformed as another technology) material technology localises and thereby obscures conflict within the subject. This leads to the second proposition: as part of the capitalist imperative the quest for jouissance is already being played out alongside obscured subjective struggle, spectacularly so in the case of material technology. However, investment in this imperative has an unforeseen cost: in being confronted with excess of jouissance we are overwhelmed and uncertain. Material technologies command that we integrate excess into our daily lives as a unique discursive network, yet this network is at best opaque. Here, joussiance takes the form of a distinctive compulsion emanating from material technology’s intersection with capitalism. This in turn reconfigures the struggle in which the subject of language is grappling with the connection (if any) between knowledge and technological devices. In order to throw light on this struggle we could take up the position of disinterest regarding material technology under capitalism.
SubjectsField of Research::22 - Philosophy and Religious Studies::2201 - Applied Ethics::220103 - Ethical Use of New Technology (e.g. Nanotechnology, Biotechnology)
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