“…error finds safety in the rules with which the worries it engenders protect themselves, and to the very degree to which people consider these rules to be transparent.”
So error is a labyrinth: it engenders a fear of making mistakes; this fear engenders the creation of rules designed to prevent slipups being made; we think we know what these rules are, but we don’t, so our preconception is erroneous.
In this way mistakes happen behind the backs of those committing them. Error is propagated like a cold virus before the symptoms are even clearly apparent. But the illness of error is an embarrassment to the one who carries it, and the culture which demands pride engenders a covering up of error and the further propagation and obfuscation of the disease. The fear of making mistakes protects the error and allows it to flourish, for an error that is overlooked can only produce more blunders.
Error is never admitted to oneself. It is smoothed over and made invisible to oneself. Even the criminal is softened by the belief that what has occurred was not a mistake but a necessity that carries its own entire narrative in order to justify itself to its narrator. Within an atmosphere of nihilism, of course, masking narratives form with greater ease than in the thicker airs of a morality-driven culture. In a competitive nihilism like our free-market world, the result is a dialectical chaos in which error becomes safer than ever, being covered by all, and veiled by the so called laws that protect us from it. The veneers that shroud it are many and it can only revealed through cracks, to the detriment of honesty, truth and real necessity.
So with no-one admitting to the mistake the error itself turns into an invisible phantom. It does not float away to the spectral Underworld though, quite the opposite, its invisibility emboldens it. Meanwhile, the problem that error has engendered comes to the fore as the object to be tackled. An object between enemies. The consequences of the mistake are now the prominent feature. While the error remains buried its consequence emerges, on its own, as a rope for an enemy to tug on. Eventually a wrestling match evolves without any of the wrestlers ever laying hands on the real error they should be facing up to. Which can lead to catastrophic oversights, for, only by confronting the error itself can problems be properly understood and avoided in the future. Unveiling error, therefore, should be considered as preventive medicine for a sick civilisation.
In the meantime, error engenders dog-fights rather than any insights. With the real error concealed the rope-problem turns One’s error into the Other’s salvation. But even after the Other has been pulled up the rope still lies between the two, and the One now only needs to find the room to spin around in order to pull on the Other from the opposite side. And whilst they keep on pulling, the error quite happily floats under the surface infecting others and giving us more and more enemies and more ropes to yank on. Our Media focus happily on the action and we are mesmerised by the dramatic wrestling that never seems to stop. The constancy is boring, but who can seriously complain about what seems to be reality? Meanwhile the error floats freely, happy and unashamed, infecting more and more unwitting victims who just don’t see it until it’s too late…
Has anyone called the Error Detectives yet?
 Jacques Lacan: Écrits: A Selection, New York: Norton, 1977, p. 369