WISDOM vs. ENJOYMENT or HOW TO START THE REVOLUTION (PART ONE)

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder-_The_Seven_Deadly_Sins_or_the_Seven_Vices_-_Gluttony

In his book “Tarrying with the Negative” Slavoj Žižek makes a very lucid association between enjoyment and national identification. The binding force of the State lies in its perception that the subjects of each nation have a particular way of enjoying themselves. Of course this ties democracy to a hedonistic rock: it is not the good that matters in politics, but the enjoyment that it ensures – or the good is defined by the enjoyment. Capitalism exploits this national inclination to enjoy, unleashing the full power of it by motorising it with it via consumerism’s will-to-want-more.

Of course this unleashing itself is an inherently dangerous act, for under its tenets, in order to have what we want we must have whatever we want – and in order to have whatever we want we need to have the freedom of the Master, and the Master’s freedom is derived through his/her power. This power is sustained by its power over slaves, which is absurd for, in theory, there can be no slaves in our modern concept of democracy, or at least no slaves who are conscious of being slaves. Or perhaps the resolution of the paradox lies in that very unconsciousness: if there were such slaves they must be unconscious ones, likewise driven by the will to want more enjoyment. Each of the System’s unconscious slaves vainly misinterprets him/herself as a master, with a master’s dignity, jealous of the enjoyment of the others.

The driving force of the consumer-will is a breaking apart dynamic with a negative chaos tendency that is undesirable and must be resisted. The consumer-will needs to be controlled, and so we arrive at State Capitalism, which is one step toward a more total control. Žižek was right to associate fascism with capitalism: “the fascist dream is simply to have capitalism without its excess, without the antagonism that causes its structural imbalance.”[1] In a slaveless society of Masters, the norm is that of Frazer’s myth of the King in the Wood.

That story which Frazer used as his starting point for his anthropological study in the Golden Bough is supposedly mainly an invention of Frazer himself. Nevertheless, factual or not, as a metaphor of power it itself is a brilliant piece of unveiling mythology. Its image of the priest-king, sword in hand, stalking the woodlands and lake of Nemi, anxiously anticipating the arrival of a rival who will come and slay him is an extension of the Oedipal myth that dominates the subliminal structure of our civilisation. But, what is the way out of this forest?

Wikipedia_-_taste_the_fruit_of_knowledge

Lacan called knowledge “the enjoyment of the Other”. According to him the very function of knowledge is motivated by its dialectic with enjoyment. [2]  We want to know things because we want enjoy things. The hysteric intertwines knowledge and enjoyment and makes it his/her own because the hysteric wants to make him or herself to be known, which they can only do by being desired as something which can be enjoyed.

But if knowledge and enjoyment are entwined, what is consumerism’s relationship with knowledge? Capitalism vulgarises knowledge, reducing it to the simple – if you know it exists you will want to buy it. Knowing is propagated superficially and misleadingly through the medium of advertising.

Yet, what if we were to modify or reinvent the relationship by seeing knowledge itself as the predominant factor in enjoyment. The pleasure comes from truly knowing something, not just knowing of it. Enjoyment now becomes a Sapiens’, [3] authentically human concept. To love it is to know it. And to know it as it really is, rather than to know it in the way we are told to know it. To see it as it really is rather than in the way it is shown us. In Lacanian terms, knowledge is a slave to the Master Discourse of the system, so, in the same terms, what is needed is a liberation of knowledge from the slavery to this Master’s Discourse. In order to do this Lacan gives three suggestions: objectify it; analyse it in a subversive way; or “hystericise” it.

If the Master Discourse which is geared toward maintaining the Master-system’s own power to enjoy whatever, utilises a seduction motorised by a vulgar desire to enjoy, then any analyses geared toward knowing before enjoyment and focusing on the idea that authentic pleasure is found precisely through knowledge, will be essentially subversive. For example, Stoicism, if practised today, would have to be seen as an absolutely subversive philosophy.

What the global, capitalist civilization wants its subjects to know is that language is not enough to tackle the breadth of what she as a system can offer as enjoyment. What is really important to capitalism is that she can be seen as the system of all systems. Through her discourse the whole world should come to know what a precious, invaluable object she is.

Capitalism regards the information age as its own invention. Information, therefore, is regarded by the System as the System’s slave, and, in the most part it is. The revolution, any revolution against the information manipulating Master, must be geared toward turning information into knowledge again. This can only be achieved by making information the Master itself, instead of the slave to the Other Master. Revolution then, as we see it, is a liberation of knowledge.

Once knowledge has been liberated from the shackles of the global capitalist system, it will be able to renew its discourse with enjoyment again. A discourse which can be authentic now, for without the self-interested manipulation of consumerism, it will be free to be deontological and ontological again. Knowledge can be knowledge again, allowing the human to be truly Sapiens for the first time.

Advertisements

One thought on “WISDOM vs. ENJOYMENT or HOW TO START THE REVOLUTION (PART ONE)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s