21 No Mirror, No Terror, No Consciousness
The second half of the 20th century saw newspaper articles and discussions on television about “leisure society” on almost a daily basis. The economist Maynard Keynes coined the idea of a leisure society in the early 1930s. From about the mid 1960s, the phrase seemed to be on everyone’s tongue. In the 1980s the talk stopped.
While the rich and well to do continued to enjoy their leisure, it was apparent that the mirror that mirrored the future—a mirror that reflected back to ordinary Americans the fantasies they projected forward—knew that leisure society was not to be after all. Rather, the future arrived as a gradual but steady economic decline loaded with ever-increasing anxiety and stress.
It is very possible that the mirror of the future reflects onto the mirror of the past, which then returns what it knows or sees of the past onto the future again. The innocent and unlearned are the ones trapped in the middle of this play of mirrors, while the not so innocent (the ones who have the power to manipulate) manipulate the mirrors in such a way that the theatre of Truth, the act of life, becomes a circus. While Daliesque distortions of images are possible under any circumstances, malicious distortions that benefit a small clique will, if practiced for a generation or more, cause the forgetting of the real and result in a catastrophe for all. Like it or not, the manipulators cannot influence the real (written with a small r rather than a large one), because it has its own agenda.
The real is limited by what it is. For the real nothing else is real but it. For example, the real accepts (lets happen) that a cat in realizing itself a real cat will hunt and catch mice. My cat obviously delights in catching mice. I can tell this by watching her in an excess of joy playing with the mouse she has caught, even when it is already dead. However, how can I really tell this is so? Actually, I cannot tell, but in the process of being a witness to what I am describing, I try to imagine being my cat. I try to mimic her feelings by a kind of inward dream process. Outwardly, I am horrified by what appears to be sadistic behavior. On the other hand, by imagining myself in my cat’s place (in dreaming myself to have become a cat), I stop myself from calling her a “bad cat”.
Something similar appears to be happening, when I dream of the hieros gamos ritual in a city and bar which I have never before visited. While my public self hesitates from acknowledging the dream as my own because of the moral laws of our civilization, my dreams protect me from humiliation by substituting for me another figure—a stranger. Only then does the dream proceed: the Goddess with the pearly breast and a man’s genitals comes to me to enact our union. Strangely, I become a curious bystander and a witness to someone else sucking the milk of kindness unhesitatingly offered by the Goddess. Thus, the cat hunts and kills, and I let nature take her course in spite of the censorship my conscious mind imposes on my cat’s kill.
Does perhaps death happen in the same manner? After I have done pleasuring my mother (as much as I may refuse to acknowledge any pleasure from living a life which ends in capital punishment), do we continue to embrace as lovers? My subconsciously created dream and my conscious projection of it through acknowledging its existence onto the mirror (the big Other), answers yes. This is why the real needs the big Other—even as we know the big Other is a mirror and an illusion.
To suggest as psychologists and philosophers Žižek and Lacan do, that full consciousness of the real does not need a mediator (heretofore known as God or “the big Other”) is like saying the body has no need of sleep. One common method of torture is sleep depravation, just as the easiest method of making a person look an idiot is to deprive him-her of a mirror.
The need for a big Other may be explained by a feature of the real that has heretofore gone unrecognized, but which we may call “the real of the undead”. That is, when we die, we enter a zone of activity that runs parallel to quantum mechanics: when because of dying a human being becomes a zero (0), he-she simultaneously crosses over, to a greater or lesser degree, to the minus (-) side, meaning that his-her activities take place in a negative environment. It means that the dead (0) become undead (-) and begin to reconstruct reality from scratch.
When after billions of light years of activity in minus territory, consciousness again arrives at zero (inevitable chance happening as understood by dandelion seeds flying over a large forest), he-she may cross over into plus territory. In effect, he-she eventually arrives at the limits of knowledge possible to arrive at by the minus side and which then self-instructs that time has come to try a quantum jump to the Other side. Once on the plus side, he-she again begins to figure out how the real fits together, then tries to advance the interests of consciousness with no less exertion of patience and not-violence than the undead.
Therefore, it is on the Other side (which ever side) that the real enters the evolutionary process, through which we arrive at an understanding of All, the Being that in the interim many knew only as God.