3.3 your knowledge of Jacques is always- -already foreclosed

To resolve our inside/outside containment conundrum, we would do well to switch back from historicizing sophistics and non-argumentation to the ahistorical systematics of topological specification. But to do so, we must de-scribe a pre-historical arc with a torque sufficient to split hemispheres from hypostases. Methodologies for metalinguistic reduction—by collation, correlation, or commutation; by conformance or correspondence—are often deployed by scholars in hopes of yielding a minimal set of necessary primitives, be it a categorial schema or an Ur-lexicon. This species of scholarly pursuit has enjoyed a storied history we shan’t recount here; nonetheless, if we unearth but a few representative “linguistic fossils” (Jackendoff), trading brush finesse for brute force, we can crack the bones of the so-called mind/world (and/or mind/body and/or gap/hard) problem indiscriminately from inside-out to outside-in. (This won’t hurt a bit.)


broken yolk, or broke-in yoke?

What we find in the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European phonology—“we” being the living speakers of Indo-European tongues, far and wide (e.g., cf. ‘yoke’ to ‘yoga’—but do watch for Hindu Nationalists armed with a Post-hole-Digger, an ankus, and Ganesha-knows-what in their other hands; see Farmer, Witzel et al., 2008)—is not unlike what physicists find in the reconstructed ‘particle zoo’ (the subatomic bestiary of muons, gluons, leptons and the like). That is to say, P-I-E and the P. Z. are analogously incomplete schemas: in both cases, we find a set of sets of nominal entities (or forces, or actants) figured as segments of a continuum, which, while subject to continual revision, in both number and specification, by way of (1) empirical measurement and (2) formal calculation, (3) present in aggregate an almost-(but-never-quite-fully-)symmetrical schema of thus-far-(but-don’t-hold-your-breath-ably-)irreducible primitives. Explicatio, implicatio, complicatio. No magic beans required.


To aim as it were for “an archaeological index of ideas” we need but evoke any one of a dozen key PIE (and P-Gmc.) lexemes (cf. Grimm, Pokorny, Buck) to exhume a textual bazaar of topographical variants interleaved upon one invariant topological substrate. In more cases than not, the warp and weft (of “the net”) are interwoven by the graded recursion (or gradient reduplication, or graduated reciprocation) of a conceptual primitive (or proto-lemma) and its complementary antipode (not simply its ‘opposite’ or ‘antonym’); by retracing their dissymmetry, both are apt to gain surprisingly well-defined contours.



For example, vis-à-vis the PIE *leg-/*leig doublet (Ciceronian philology notwithstanding), it takes little imagination to re-link the act of gathering (i.e., the “leg”—e.g., a selection of sticks) to the act of binding tightly (i.e., the “leig”—e.g., a ligature of letterforms) in order to yield, e.g., “religious electoral legions select illegible legislation” or “lexical recollections oblige logistical ledgers” or in extremis, “legaleigalegaleigalegleigaleg”—in all, a turducken we pluck of its gobbles in The Model Mind §3, forthcoming. Here we should like to render, but in brief, a verdict on Heidegger’s Hegelian adequation of “the essence of spirit” to “the concept” to “the conceiving of oneself” to “the essence of the conscientia.”


To that end, taking PIE *sek-, whence *(s)k- (in e, o, and a forms) we sample only the reflexes from what is called English, being the “Post-Indo-European” tongue par excellence. We then subject our sample to a (Kantian? Hegelian? Peircean? Lacanian?) three-or-fourfold partition in order to consider the web of relations suspended among (1) stabilizing concretions that would enclose (or contain, or constrain), versus (2) transitive mobilizers that would disclose (or divulge, or open), versus (3-or-4) ambivalent abstractions that would slip to and fro across the contentious continental (or cranial) divide: (1) shield, shell, skull, scalp, skin; cup, cap, caput, chapter, capitol, etc.; (2) skill, scale, sculpt, scalpel, scilicet, dissect, decapitate, etc.; (3-or-4) section, sector, sect; (con)science, consciousness; capture, conceive, concept(ion), capability, capacity; chaplain, captain, captor, captive; cattle, chattel, capital.



So, to recap our incapacities, or capitalize on our capabilities? We can sort these and other fields according to lexical form—or better, according to semantic function, or indexical reference, or fill-in-the-jargon. Whichever way we slice it, we can schematically segment any such aggregated PIE lexeme either to odd or even sets (that is, slicing by twofolds or by threefolds). With a bit more judicious ontography, we might then cut the lexeme transversally (columns into rows) as per our choice of criteria (e.g., from biomorphic analogy to phonemic morphology), thus netting a number of quaternary schemas worth con-templating (as in the four-cornered Latin templum)—for example, crossing odd/even over mobile/stable can refigure Plato’s Timaeus whirligig, or Heidegger’s gyroscopic Geviert.


Moreover, if we try and fail to reduce this brief lexical survey to a twofold (by way of durable dualisms), we collect an ambivalent lemma, the articulation of which should help make some sense of Heidegger’s “logically formalized interpretation of Descartes’ ‘cogito me cogitare rem’, wherein [Hegel] sees the essence of the conscientia.” If you’ll forgive the short shrift of a shortcut, we might say that our outside-in (trans-/intersubjective, collectivized) con-science is continually and transitively ‘cut together’ into, by, with, or as an obverse model of our inside-out (subjectivized, individuated) con-scious-ness in order to substantiate a nominally discrete, intransitive ‘cut-togetherness’—a necessarily incomplete form in which, again, we find the topology of a Möbius surface.



As an invariantly variable topology, this ontographic “(S)K” formula may simply recap our “Albers Interval”—inasmuch as it too schematizes the (nominally) temporal delay opened up in the (nominally) spatial manifold, the gradable lag by which recursive on-line sensorimotor cognition affords sophisticated off-line action planning. In any event, it recirculates (“It thinks poorly, but it thinks steadily”) by way of the Phonological-Articulatory Loop (PAL) that courses through the cranium of each and every socially situated individual human being. (See also The Model Mind §1.6)


Modern neurolinguistics notwithstanding, the PAL topology has ‘made itself manifest’ across an imposing historical sweep of hyperbolic oddities—from the recirculating cosmogenesis spun by Plato’s Timeaus (at the hands of his proto-Gnostic ‘Demiurge’), all the way up to (and more germane to the topic at hand) Lacan’s point de capiton—an ingenious (if unwieldy) instrument named after the ‘quilting-point’ or ‘button-tie’ that binds upholstered cushions in order to (just as ingeniously) constrain the amorphous tendencies of the content without impinging on the flexibility of the container. Lacan devised this divisive switchback (by way of its cap-ital cognate in cap-ut mortuum, no less) to take the metonymic stuffing out of metaphoric turkeys by hook or by crook.




a pointed caption / opted into panic

The analyst’s art must [suspend] the subject’s certainties until their final mirages have been consumed. And it is in the subject’s discourse that their dissolution must be punctuated. Indeed, however empty his discourse may seem, it is so only if taken at face value—the value that justifies Mallarmé’s remark, in which he compares the common use of language to the exchange of a coin whose obverse and reverse no longer bear but eroded faces, and which people pass from hand to hand “in silence.” This metaphor suffices to remind us that speech, even when almost completely worn out, retains its value as a tessera. Even if it communicates nothing, discourse represents the existence of communication; even if it denies the obvious, it affirms that speech constitutes truth; even if it is destined to deceive, it relies on faith in testimony.

—Jacques Lacan, 1952

In computational-linguistics terms, where “natural language processing” pertains to the explication of syntactic subjects by recourse to grammatical semantics, the Archemind IA schema pertains to the semantic complication of conceptual objects by recourse to lexical pragmatics. Where the former corresponds to individually deconstructed linear syntagms, the latter coheres through collectively reconstructed non-linear paradigms. Blah blah blah. The future of ‘A.I.’ (and/or ‘I.A.’) belongs to whatever (or whomever) best imitates and emulates the full spectrum of linguistic mechanisms across multichronic variables, at scale and with maximal opacity, irrespective of the categori(c)al schemas on offer from theoretical linguistics (cognitive, structural, or other sub-species). The efficacy of massive hybridization was amply demonstrated by IBM’s “Watson”—a deceptively Named agglomerautomaton that recently appeared to trounce meat-based persons on the game show Jeopardy—but alas, the appearance of contest was ultimately due to ‘His’ in situ iconic representation in the manner of Kubrick’s Monolith hacking up HAL 9000’s hairballs.



“It’s full of stars!”

That, or it’s full of stuffing—or simply full of itself. While such shenanigans have long stood as spectator sport, Paul Churchland (1995) notes, having served as referee, that “The Turing Test is a test precisely for people who have no adequate theory of what intelligence is, or no theory beyond the humble framework of our prescientific folk concepts.” Inadequate theories notwithstanding, we are all inching closer to the generalization of fin de siècle apprehensions propounded by e.g., Wundt, Freud, and Usener—viz., that phonological speech, once stripped of situational import, simply talks to itself about itself.


More particularly, the intermedia of email, SMS texting, etc. have been incrementally divorcing our communications from such organic human signature as co-expressive gesture (in person), prosodic tone of voice (by telephone), and articulatory vestige (in handwriting). This is not consequence-free; to wit, we users of said media—as a distributed semiological engine driven by compulsive repetition (if not Wiederholungszwang)—are hard at work, conveying an exponential displacement of communicative content and phatic function by recursively self-evacuating disphatic form.

By an inverse antinomy, it can be observed that the more language’s role is neutralized as language becomes more like information, the more redundancies are attributed to it. […] what is redundant as far as information in concerned is precisely what plays the part of resonance in speech. For the function of language in speech is not to inform but to invoke. What I seek in speech is a response from the other. What constitutes me as a subject is my question. […] If I now face someone to question him, there is no cybernetic device imaginable that can turn his response into a reaction. The definition of ‘response’ as the second term in the ‘stimulus-response’ circuit is simply a metaphor sustained by the subjectivity attributed to animals, only to be elided thereafter in the physical schema to which the metaphor reduces it. This is what I have called putting a rabbit into a hat so as to pull it out again later. But a reaction is not a response.

—Jacques Lacan, 1952

It should have surprised no one that throughout the twentieth century, such consequent displacements (or displaced consequences)—including overcoded shorthand in place of common parlance, and (adverse over-)reaction in place of (even-handed) response—found more profusely self-aware expression in the cultural surplus of avant garde literature than in the cultural adhesive of pragmatic psychology. Nausea in itself is perhaps not the choice purgative, much less everyone’s curative cup of tea. Well, here we are in the twenty-first: new tools, old rules. Every associative schema (from knowledge-base search algorithms to e-commerce preference mining) that is instantiated as ‘open’ (to adaptation) on one side and ‘closed’ (by administration) on the other resembles nothing so much as the PAL—with the morphological ex-cep-tion of having been neatly turned inside-out (in a manner fit for Wittgenstein’s manhandling of Kant’s puzzled gloves).



That is to say, in the case of the language-equipped human subject, the lexico-pragmatic inventory is diachronically (en)closed by the right hemisphere for simultaneous (parallel) sampling and synchronically open to administration via the sequential (serial) input-output of the left. “Administration” of what? Of conventional (contractual, customary, arbitrary) associations (connections, links, chains) between objects (ideas, things, concepts, percepts) by way of designation (reference, meaning, signification, indication). Phonemes, morphemes, semantemes, philosophemes; green beans, tangerines, Mister Clean’s holocene.


Language, when deprived of bilateral reciprocation, suffers entropic corruptions that remain far easier to gauge by way of full grammatical constructions than by unilaterally ejected agrammatic fragments and figurative substitutions—that is, betwixt and between the hypertextual truck dump consequent to having deprived speakers sufficient dynamical boundary negotiation of the type liminally secured by everyday regulatory-normative social interaction (i.e., e.g., phatic conversation: “what’s up?” “nothing much” “nice weather we’re having”), whence our aforementioned (yet covert) lexicon tuning provisions, and inversely, our unmentioned (yet overt) distortion of reference distances via prose compression—that is to say, we’ve been writing this essay with half a mind (/) to pushing the limits, if not the buttons, of the linguistically sophisticated reader—at risk of, or if not to warn off dolts, pedants, cretins, and philistines in general.


square in the spokes of the Joycean Machine

I will now place myself under the auspices of he who sometimes dons the philosopher’s garb, who—ambiguous—is more often to be sought in the comedian’s banter, but who is always encountered in the politician’s secretive action: the good logician, odious to the world.

—Jacques Lacan, 1945


If in expounding some theoretical matter a scientist hits upon a literary conceit that delights him, and subsequently finds that the theoretical point ought strictly to be hedged about in a way that spoils the joke, he faces a quandary between the alethic and aesthetic poles. His decision to bite the bullet and scrap the wisecrack confirms his affiliation with the scientists.

—W. V. Quine, 1986

So, yes—while we are certainly overplaying the “Good Cop/Bad Cop” routine here, we would qualify it not as a representational analogy through which this-and-that correlate thus-and-such, but as a homeomorphism by which a fortiori the multiplex position of enunciation is absent eo ipso irrespective of its present enunciated content. Or again: this semi-absurdism is not a metaphoric emblem sealed in stead of something else, but a metonymic instance instating itself. What’s the difference? Who’s the same. If the theoretical joke to be expounded ought to be hedged about in a way that strictly spoils the quandary, we point a face between the alethic and aesthetic poles where we subsequently find our wisecrack confirms affiliation with a literary conceit that delights scientists:

[Quine cont’d:] To what degree, conversely, may the artist’s, writer’s, or musician’s pursuit of beauty involve him pursuing truth? Experimental painting on the part of some of the Impressionists was aimed at insights into truths about visual perception, as was the struggle with perspective in earlier centuries. Research into auditory perception, however inarticulate, may perhaps be ascribed to experimental music. A novel can be designed to induce a true sense of some aspect of society. It is then even said to be true in some higher sense, but this is double-talk. Anyway what such a novel involves is not the quest for truth, as experimental painting and music perhaps do, but rather the indirect communication of it. A better literary analogue of experimental painting and music is avant-garde poetry, or Finnegans Wake.



Thus, phrasings that may strike you as nonsense (here and elsewhere) are most likely but samples of the many and varied noise artifacts (or vestigial mutations) left by the compression/decompression (co-dec, co/dec, codec) suffered by dissymmetric phonological data “in a displacement comparable to [...] the rotating memories of our machines-that-think-like-men [...] because of the alternating operation at its core that requires it to leave its place, if only to return to it by a circular path.” Well that’s some réel-to-Real run-around. Not to take Lacan’s (or anyone’s) metaphors too literally, but not for nothing did Dennett describe the selfsame stream-of-(un-)consciousness as the “Joycean Machine”—upon which, as Peter Carruthers notes, the “Beckettian Machine” would make a more fitting meta-moniker. “Literary criticism is not book-keeping”—quoth young Beckett, as if to preempt critique of his inaugural recorso, Dante . . . Bruno . Vico . . Joyce (1929), by which he retroactively seals an inarguable augury before vanishing into his customarily desolate atopia. Mutatis mutandis,


book-keeping is not literary criticism.

All [Joyce’s] Dante references are to The Divine Comedy, but there are valid reasons for believing that he also had a certain familiarity with the Italian poet's ideas on the origins of language, and with his plan for creating a perfect, new poetic language, as Dante himself expressed it in his De Vulgari Eloquentia (On Vernacular Eloquence). [...] But at University College Joyce had only studied Latin, French, English, mathematics, natural philosophy, and logic—not medieval philosophy. Whatever the case, the analogies between the claims of the Irish grammarians and the search by Joyce for a perfect poetic language are so surprising that I will try to find other links.

—Umberto Eco

Well, we can’t finish all of our homework now, can we. But let us take Joyce as the typical go-to example: his prose is looped, slipped, and overdubbed with enough codec noise to strike most readers as utter gibberish. Nevertheless, where haphazard meanings shine through the vestiges of a erased-and-rewritten palimpsest, Joyce is overdetermined to the last glyph. To wit, offhand comprehension is easy to fake at cocktail parties by dint of statistical probability (cf. Sokol’s semiomatic sociologasms); that is to say, as with a palimpsest (or a Pollock), pattern recognition covers over traumatic gaps in meaning.


Joyce, in a redoubled scansion—“When a part so ptee does duty for the holos, we soon grow to use of an allforabit.”—thus recaps human evolution (of tongue if not in toto) as the convergence of metonymic functions, by way of a metonymic device—in sum, a rhetorical recorso by meta-metonymy. First of all, in the interest of interpretation (of interpretations interpreted,) we could parse Joyce’s doublet into any number of coherent predicative purports—for example, we can decompress it into a perfectly intelligible if somewhat wordy hypethetico-deductive hyperbaton:


(A) “Given some small parts (glyphs, icons, names) representing large wholes (entities, concepts, sounds), a combinatorial schema (alphabet, language, code) not only follows, but reciprocates (i.e., from part-for-whole to all-for-bit).” What can this tell us about language, or thought, or sociality, or instrumentalization? What can it not tell us? It can tell us anything we like; Finnegans Wake, as Beckett surmised, is not about some other thing. For good measure (as it were), should we then re-compress it while hewing closer to phonemic and phonetic constraints, we could yield anything from content-impoverished balderdash to inarguable correlative inference—e.g., to wit:


(B) “New trapped etude roughs the wrong suit, solo noose you flaw enough to bar.” Well, that’s a bit much. To tighten it up: (C) “Tiber offal infused war canoe, shoal in trophy tide sowed rap anew.” One for the history buffs, perhaps. Or, to loosen one constraint and tighten another: (D) “Where wholes traipse apart for duties, bits used for all soon grow trepans.” Abracadabra, we’ve doubled Joyce’s stakes by indicting instrumental reason as borne out by territorial violence, from the germinal to the terminal. H2SO4 in, vitriol out. Maybe more New Yorker and less Old Yorick would drift our terse dicta towards dulcet tones.



like the doomed messenger of antiquity

Semantic priming, in the most general sense, circumscribes the mechanisms by which ‘word association’ games are played—be they for fun (the parlor game ‘telephone’—or, as our Scottish friends call it, ‘Chinese whispers’) or for profit (see 2010 advertisements for Google search). As anyone who works in computational linguistics will tell you (or, should you so toil, as you doubtless tell yourself), staring into the whirling gear wheels—be they spur or bevel, helical or hypoid—is bound to raise impressions of their dentate contours (Bruno: “you may comprehend individual thoughts as they are formed”)—that is, heightened awareness of priming mechanisms is (so to speak) a hazard of the job.



By way of anaphor—as we should have no reason to expect that you’ve been reading our image captions—take a fragment of a fragment of a website, or a magazine, or a street-corner: it matters little whether you dwell upon the images or the text, the brain does its work by such massively parallel mechanisms (this is uncontroversial, mind) that it (you) is (are) seeking cohesive meaning catch-as-catch-can, with our without your intentional awareness. Thus, even such a compact (but not “random”) grab-bag of images and words as this morning’s snip from CNN.com will invoke innumerable cascades of grammatical semi-purports and agrammatic fragments.


Here we simply plucked three, as constrained by a redoubled heuristic, viz., one, the (fully conventionalized) top-down, left-to-right scansion and two, the (semi-arbitrary) single term as representative of a (text-block, paragraph, or sub-head) chunk: (A) Mom’s alienated kid picks abusers worship; (B) neighbor country getting prince recorded sports; (C) power in life-cake calls far. So—what’s all that supposed to mean? You tell me. Conversely (but not inversely), if you block out all of the text and simply ruminate upon the six thumbnail images, what do you find rumbling around just below the surface of your awareness?


To pluck at random from the catalogue of armchair diagnoses spitballed (as if) at Joyce (and Beckett): the once-upon-a-symptom known, e.g., as “confusion of sound and sense” (phrasal phrend to phrenetic phrenologist, philologist and physician alike) has been terminally discharged in practice by the battery of psycholinguistics studies on semantic priming by phonemic and graphemic fragments. Moreover, to dispose of this archaism in theory we need look no further than the canonical example of undecidable translation:


Quine’s hypothetical traveler, on foreign soil, confronts a local, who points at—(and here we should note that they cannot be too foreign, given the conventionalized variants on deictic gesture, cf. David McNeill 2005)—who points at a dashing rabbit (by which we mean in rapid motion, not rakishly handsome,) and utters what Quine purports as a nonsense word: “gavagai”—a phonetic string which yet, in the strictly metalinguistic context of Quine’s discourse, is bound to convoke none other than ‘govern’ and ‘vagary’.


“musicians without musical talent”

Lest a demi-wick’s wee pots’ tea-spots tip-to’er a media cad’s top-spun twin-spit pink-slips, we should like to apologize to our erstwhile overlords—or rather, to our readers in the UK—for our over-reliance on American idiom, and our overwrought recourse to American politics. As you can see, our partially-displaced Theocratic Patriarchy proves more obscure occlusions than the parliamentary dissipation of your Monarchic Puppetry. Conversely, we shan’t like to apologize for revoking your entitlements, upon which our polemical Yankee Doodle drops bombast with the wrath of your implacable Mark E. Smith . . . “Winston Churchill had a speech imp-p-p-pediment, and look what HE did, erazed half of London; and the Dutch—are weeping! lusted after French paintings . . .”



Meanwhile, to revisit a smoke-filled mirror, our Good Cop and Bad Cop will eject our Anti-Straw-Men for a spell in order to circumscribe our Interrogated Third Person (namely, “Ian Thorne”) who, in an effort to dodge the One’s question while begging the Other’s, backpedals a track bike at the Ø-ring circus of semi-automata.net. In contrast to The Model Mind, in which we proceed at a leisurely pace on an even keel, over there (and at present, here) we intersperse hypothesis with hyperbaton and abduction with argumentation, not as an exercise in literary retro-modernism, but in order to demonstrate the malleability of the margins vis-à-vis metalinguistic positions of enunciation, to contrast endophoric gradients to exophoric cut points (i.e. “hmm.” versus “WTF?”), and to scare off pinheads, numbskulls, and halfwits. Had we not foregrounded our ruse, we might have allowed you the option to chalk up the dividend to a mercury-maddened Hatter barking out “change places!” at inimitable intervals—if not, as Lewis Carroll has it, serving (up) a sentence of partially-purged purgatories for “murdering [the Queen’s] time [not to mention her English].”


But that would have been disingenuous; instead, we offer an opportunity to discern the ‘Arche-’ in our Archemind from the ‘semi-’ in our semi-automata in terms of an admittedly perverse riddle: by your estimation, which hemisphere, or hypostasis, in part or whole, is half-automated? (And do we—or “we”—mean “ours” or ours?) Smith-Mark’s anvil tic smarts mantles; mind your tongs opposed to parable thumbs—so, to repaper old hambones, or to repo Old Boy’s hammer? In mass-market terms, a sizable sample of otherwise rational book-buyers evidently sees no choice but to wash down Dennett’s bitter pills with Kurzweil’s colaid ’til their plugged pie-holes sputter tech-gnostical histrionics like an overcranked clown car crashed into a gutted phone booth. Perhaps not quite the meme machine in the glossy magazine. And in-evitible news, frontman for post-punk polemicists Gang of Four now peddles Fabergé baubles.



“you said you’re cheap, but you’re too much!”

To repeat—at root, we are less inclined to seek ‘description’ than ‘explanation’—insofar as the former (as philosophers have it) is contingent to arbitrary deflection as ‘subjective’ while the latter is contingent to conventionalized reflection as ‘intersubjective’ (and, at risk of broken-record-skipping, purports of ‘objective’ things-in-themselves are purported to have been ejected from the discourse—and for the fourth corner, read: ‘trans-subjective’ as: ‘onto-theological’). But don’t take it from me, take it from the tool who spent twenty years shilling soft drinks and softer thinks. Oh, wait—that is me. Withal, our (Archemind) software speaks for itself, whereas we (Ian Thorne) have nothing to prove—and while you can take that one of two ways, you can decide upon neither. “Grammar forbids” quoth Quine, to say nothing of freedom’s sordid boon.


As for justifying our (ab)use of Anti-Straw-Man #1: Bruno’s schemata were only partially apprehended in his time; over the next few years (and should Fortune smile upon us, with some assistance from fellow errant non-dupes), we aim to have explicated them sufficient to his multifarious intents and purposes—which, notwithstanding his spleen (and ours,) were, (and are,) essentially ecumenical, despite being unrecognizable as Christian, or Atheist, or Pansomethingist, or Pick-any-ism-ean-ist. Seeing as how Bruno managed to wear out his trans-European welcome with the Catholics, Anglicans, Calvinists, and Lutherans in just under a decade, we are kidding ourselves exactly not one bit.

We are Wastenot with Want, precondamned, two and true,

Til Nolans go volants and Bruneyes come blue.

—James Joyce, 1939

As for justifying our (ab)use of Anti-Straw-Man #2, the frenzied trivia buff will have noted that Lacan hooks his heroic ’55 Freudian fox-hunt to Bruno’s bird-dogs. (See also The Model Mind §2.9) But then again, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen (1991) seems to bend over backwards to avoid Lacan’s explicit attribution, preferring to filter the entire affair through Klossowski’s literary looking-glass. Wherefore Actaeon’s Spec(tac)ular Diana? Whither Pinocchio’s beloved Blue Fairy? Should we admix Kubrick’s acerbic wit with Speilberg’s sentimental schmaltz, we shall find her plunged unto the inky deep, well past marks twain and trine—but the unheimlich infantron nonetheless never was nor ever will be “a real boy”—for, as Paul Churchland reminds, “the brain of a human, or even a mouse, is a system whose behavior is unpredictable by any machine constructible in this universe [...] save for general tendencies and patterns.”




go fish and chips

Should we wish to formally calculate or empirically measure the degree to which said “tendencies and patterns” embed us in particular belief systems (of which controlled variability stands as the criterion for apprehension of metalanguage), we would have to bridge ‘Good/Bad Cop’ to ‘Musical Chairs’ by rifling a stacked deck of dummies through Lacan’s analytic hot seat. While we shan’t do so here, we should at least settle our bets (or call our own bluff): to that end, take this exceptional act of metalinguistic meta-translation undertaken by Bruce Fink [who’s notes aid in] bridging the metalinguistic meta-translation undertaken by Jacques Lacan—thus, from German, to French, to English, to wit:

Here I will take up the challenge made to me when people translate as “instinct” what Freud calls Treib—which “drive” would seem to translate quite well into English, but which is avoided in the Standard Edition. In French, my last resort would be dérive [drift], if I were unable to give the bastardized term pulsion [drive or urge] its point of impact. And so I insist on promoting the idea that, whether grounded or not in biological observation, instinct—among the modes of knowledge [connaissance] required by nature of living beings so that they satisfy its needs—is defined as a kind of [experiential] knowledge [connaissance] we admire because it cannot become [articulated] knowledge [un savoir]. But in Freud’s work something quite different is at stake, which is a savoir certainly, but one that doesn’t involve the slightest connaissance, in that it is inscribed in a discourse of which the subject—who, like the doomed messenger of Antiquity, carries under his hair the codicil that condemns him to death—knows neither the meaning nor the text, nor in what language [langue] it was written, nor even that it was tattooed on his shaven scalp while he was sleeping. This apologue barely exaggerates just how little the unconscious has to do with physiology. This can be gauged by crosschecking the contribution made by psychoanalysis to physiology since its inception: its contribution has been nil, even as far as the sexual organs are concerned. No amount of fabulation will prevail against this balance sheet.

—Jacques Lacan, 1960

Nor, conversely, will the confabulations of the physiologically compromised—just ask our somewhat more ecumenical Doctor, Oliver Sacks. But within, through, or by which discourse is Lacan’s Antique Messenger inscribed? For one Lacan or another (qua “Analyst” or qua “dummy” or qua “lectern”), it would be discourse ‘as such’—or, discourse qua “discourse”—but, as such, it (qua “It”; cf. Freud’s Ger. “Es” back to Eng. “Id”) would not dis-course to and fro about anything but its own re-corso, as in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (as per Vico’s New Science), through which recourse (recursion, recirculation, reiteration), driven by Wiederholungszwang, “it thinks” Lacan tells us,“It thinks rather badly, but it thinks steadily” by running (driving? being-driven?) to and fro, hence and ago, betwixt langue and parole, diachrony and synchrony, syntagm and paradigm, metonym and metaphor.



I am making an engine with only one wheel. [writes Mister Joyce to Miss Weaver,] No spokes of course. The wheel is a perfect square. You see what I am driving at don’t you? I am awfully solemn about it, mind you, so you must not think it is a silly story about the mouse and the grapes. No, it’s a wheel, I tell the world. And it’s all square.

So it is. Or—so it seems. Or—so it goes. While Lacan may site a strictly semiological spark in the nth corner, the (continuous) chain of (discrete) linguistic signifiers (the speech of ‘the mind’s ear’ as it were) courses through a topological schema which necessarily contains (or better, constrains and conduces) non-linguistic signifieds (be they ‘subjects’ or ‘objects’ of attention, intention, intension, or address) irrespective of how we may qualify the motive force, pulsion, or drive (or dérive or Trieb ). As such, our PAL schematic is not unlike Lacan’s psychical chiasmus, despite that we insist upon grounding softweird synthoms in hardwired physiology. (File merchant’s copy under Freudian slip: the return of the repressed biologism. No deposit, no return . . .)



As for Lacan’s “crosschecking the contribution”, one need but consider that in 2011, one finds academics taking themselves quite seriously as ‘scientists’ while expressing surprise—if while expressing as ‘findings’ (or, begging the question unto imbecility, offering as an index of ‘evolutionary advantage’) the statistical self-evidence that any religious sample group is bound to outcompete any irreligious sample group on the basis of following a universal dictate on the order of “[Black Box] wants you to make more of you, so quit lollygagging and get to it.” As such, it’s quite possible that our phonological-articulatory mechanisms may be less accurately de-scribed by way of ‘psychoanalytic’ or ‘psychical’ or ‘psychological’ or ‘psychiatric’ arguments than ex-plained by way of ‘physiological’ or ‘neurological’ or ‘neurolinguistic’ schemas (e.g., as put in plain terms by such authoritative academics as David McNeill, Peter Carruthers, and Stanislas Dehaene). We shall see.




Withal, Lacan is spot-on: insofar as the lit-crit term ‘fabulation’ gave way to ‘postmodernism’ no amount of belles-lettrisme will prevail in a discourse predicated upon maximizing short-term exploitation through the sheer force of near-term denial (or so spitteth erstwhile Meta-Media Mad-Man). More particularly, the compulsive consumer’s appetite (to which no quantity of goods or services sum sufficient to satiate) can only be undergirded, reenforced, and perpetuated, as Lacan put it, by “a type of treatment diverted [...] towards successful adaptation—a phenomenon of mental abdication tied to the aging of the psychoanalytic group in the Diaspora owing to the war, and the reduction of an eminent practice to a Good Housekeeping seal of approval attesting to its suitability to the ‘American way of life.’” (1960)


or, 52 pickup and French fries

And for our last “Stupid Human Trick” of the evening (with apologies to David Letterman), the co-dec cap-dunce dances for the half-short-pack of diffracted Cracker-Jacques of Yoo-Hoo Jiffy-Pop kernels, who would captain the capstans of Joycean machines-that-think-like men to re-route rotating memories into retorting mnemotechné of Brunian men-who-think-like-machines. Perhaps you are busily origaming organons, folding Joycean pun manifolds into wagon-wheels befour-in-hand carts circumterventioning, or squaring spokeless to unspeakable. “Send in the clowns?” We prefer the arrant knight’s detour, with rebabeled apologies to the towering Ingmar Bergman.


Hence, we can either peddle ponderous pendulums and juggle jibes by an intertextual fly-fishing philology in which tiled texts recourse textiles such that, instead of clearly cementing a crystalline mosaic fit for a medieval mosque, we presuffix a rigor-mortared bricolage from cracked tesserae of worn coinage, a mantic montage overstenuffed to warp wefts into the tractricoid of hyperbolic stunt up-holstery—or, should we prefer airing our grievances to erring ore gravures, we can methodically dial in our encryption mechanisms to un-mix our cryptic metaphors. For our part, we shall continue to strive for the solvent clarity of the latter—if, where necessary, by dissolving the turgid aspic of the former.


Given a false choice between Francophone Joyceans, it should not surprise us that American academics embraced Derrida over Lacan by a statistically significant margin. Withal, given the margins signifiant of stases, as mechanical language manipulators we may stand to gain more from demonstrative explications of the latter than remonstrative recomplexifications of the former. Given the monstrous implications of both, the bread for either circus calls for wheat to be culled from chaff by a threshing sufficient to metaparcel your metatarsals. This may be some fancy footwork, but we ought not confuse it with a jackanapes jig.



On one foot, Lacan’s metaphorical réel-to-Real tape loops, though garbled by bungled overdubs, hold a fidelity fit to flip defiles to fideities. On the other foot, were you to scalp his Antique Messenger in hopes of multiplexing your metastases, you would bare not a triplex gematraic omen of poker tells but a duplex geometric vestige of fontanelles, the calcified contraction of which tripartite suture fails to stop the ops of the traumathurgic trepanation—the whole atop the partial anthrop by dint of which soft skull our singularly swollen crania force prematurity unto our birthright-cum-birth-defect, the monkey-grinding organon by which selfsame trident fork and sextant we are attuned and oriented, one and all, hook, line and sinker, to an inhuman entropy. The point is, as a thinking organism, we have a (w)hole in our head that cares not one whit about “spurious privatives” and “grammatical decoys” (Barthes). What we make of this invariant synchronic constraint, may we submit for your fleeting consideration, has some bearing upon our diachronically contingent variables.



Rubbish, you say? Eschew jabber. Re-badge usury? Erase edge bar. By interleaving “exaggerated apologue” and explicated apologia, we hope to have demonstrated the multiplex malleability of the metalinguistic margins. In any event, we would encourage anyone with codec chops sufficient to attenuate the squeaky calliope of Derrida’s amphi-meta-go-round via Lacan’s theraputimin to try their hand at cutting the feedback with baby laxative—not to increase its street value, mind, but to aid in the digestion of discursive ratiocination by an infantile demos constipated by fatuous polemic—that is, unless you’re satisfied with a spin-cycle of cultural cannibalism that hacks up 10,000 maniacal Lady Gagas for every methodical Karlheinz Stockhausen. We, personally, are not—but then, we have also been known to deride post-’84 Einstürzende Neubauten as “disco”—hence, ill-fit for the critical commons, we shall pitch our petroglyphic Pinocchio back onto the other scene—for here at Archemind we are concerned not with the perfidy of puppets, but with the pragmatics of praxis.


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