miércoles, 23 de marzo de 2011

The Gaze and the Voice

- The Gaze and the Voice -

     In this entry I propose to assess how Gilles Deleuze’s account of visibility, inspired by his reading of Foucault, presents a challenge to Lacan’s Freud-inspired account of the imaginary by way of subjective desire. I first begin by presenting how Lacan’s subject of desire articulates two asymmetrical trajectories: that of the subject of the unconscious, and that of the signifying chain. I schematically show how Lacan perceives the emergence of individual forms to imply the traversal of the barred subject of the unconscious, and the imaginary spectral images retained during the mirror-stage, through the meaning-endowing defiles of the signifier, constituting a unified ego-ideal.
      For Deleuze, on the other hand, the distribution of the visible is not tethered to the ‘defiles of the signifier’ for a subject of desire affected by the primordial loss of the imaginary phallic object. No mythos of lack and no principle of subjective reconstitution sets in motion the constitution of the imaginary by way of libidinal thrust. Rather, two non-isomorphic, asymptotic trajectories proceed in a conjoint constitution of form: that of an immanent material field organized by light in the visible, and that of the linguistic distributions of statements and expressions in the articulable. This dyad, which explains the stratification of power, is for Deleuze, the required supplement and corrective to the psychoanalytic subjectivism, where the Gaze of the voice is now wed to the Voice of the signifier. Next to Lacan’s graph of desire we will thus propose a (tentative) reconstruction of Deleuze’s graph of knowledge. This way we will gain traction on how even if both Lacan and Deleuze conceive of the subject as a product of a process; the latter resists even the primitive algebraic mythology of the split subject of desire, by the way of wresting a functionalist morphology away from representation and phenomenological subjectivism. Yet as we will see in trying to show how the visible and the articulable communicate while remaining relatively autonomous Deleuze’s Foucault is forced into the classical Kantian problem of the articulation between sensibility-understanding, producing a strange kind of transcendental dualism anchored on the anonymous agency of power.
I – The Subject of Desire: Lacan’s Libidinal Economy
    Crossbreeding the structuralist avowal of the primacy of the signifier with the Freudian account of the unconscious, Lacan proposes to articulate a theory of subjective desire around the singular idea that “the unconscious is structured like a language”[1]. To understand this enigmatic formula we must assess how Lacan re-constructs the Freudian Oedipal myth of the paternal prohibition, in order to conceive of the subject as fundamentally affected by a primordial loss; an irrecoverable ideal unity or lack which will thereby anchor the repetition of desire around an impossible object-cause (which Lacan famously calls objet petit a). In The Subversion of the Subject (1967) Lacan finally proposes in a condensed form a series of graphs which articulate the progressive unfolding of the subject of desire, in its diachronic and synchronic development.
         At core, is the attempt to trace how the imaginary formations and objectual identifications of the infant during his early stages (the so called ‘mirror-stage’[2]) become invested in a libidinal economy, as the subject enters the symbolic order, i.e. the defiles through the signifier which stand for the Paternal Law and inaugurate symbolic castration. It is this preponderance of the images gathered during the mirror-stage, and the severing wound enacted by the subject’s violent insertion into the symbolic order of language, which underwrite the entire field of objective identifications, projections, and phantasmal hallucinations-illusions. A Gestalt conditioning the entire field of the visible presupposes the subject of desire affected by lack. As Lacan writes:
          "Indeed, for the imagos—whose veiled faces it is our privilege to see in outline in our daily experience and in the penumbra of symbolic efficacity—the mirror–image would seem to be the threshold of the visible world, if we go by the mirror disposition that the imago of one's own body presents in hallucinations or dreams, whether it concerns its individual features, or even its infirmities, or its object–projections; or if we observe the role of the mirror apparatus in the appearances of the double, in which psychical realities, however heterogeneous, are manifested." (E: Pg. 3, emphasis added)
       It is crucial to notice how the imaginary serves to create a bridge between the ‘inner world’ of the subject (Innenwelt) and the objective externalized world of the visible (Umwelt), around the development of self-recognition and bodily-identification[3]. The individuating threshold of the visible is stapled to the form producing trajectory of subjective development in the course of attaining an ideal, unified self-image, however transitory or illusory. This will turn out to be crucial, since Deleuze (following Foucault) will have no truck with the preponderance of the desiring subject’s imaginary identifications when structuring/individuating the visible.
          The next step, for us, is to explain how for Lacan the symbolic brings about a ‘castrating function’ which throws the subject out of joint with its imaginary unity, and sets off the unending, impossible quest for its recuperation. This castrating function of language is for Lacan crucial in understanding how desire marks a radical separation between the ideal imaginary unity contemplated by the individual and the void of its Real being; anchored solely to an impossible desire.  The gap between the symbolic-imaginary identifications of the subject which constitute its unified ego-Ideal, and its non-substantive void tethered to the impossible object, is what impedes the dialectical recuperation of subjective truth by a symbolically triggered ‘sublation’ (Aufgehoben):
        “Hegel attempted this [bridge] by constantly making the truth in excess to knowledge but in principle accessible through sublation so that absolute knowledge nullifies the gap between the symbolic and the imaginary, abolishing the autonomy of the latter... truth can be learnt. But this is a crisis where "the imaginary is eliminated in engendering a new symbolic form" (E: 675)
        This ‘elimination’ of the imaginary constitutes precisely its fragmentary character, the very fantasy of an (imaginary) coincidence between the symbolic-imaginary annihilating the wound of loss in the form endowed by the ego-ideal.  But in fact, the subject of the unconscious, affected by symbolic castration, can never be identified with a transient imaginary semblance or ego ideal; but rather can only be located by its conspicuous disappearance from speech. It is only this radical splitting which grounds the ego-ideal’s non-identity with himself which, ironically, is not merely ‘mythical; castration qua primordial loss is the ground of desire: “what is not a myth, although Freud formulated it just as early on as he formulated the Oedipus myth, is the castration complex” (E; Pg. 695). This already lays the ground for the distinction Lacan makes between the subject of the statement and the subject of enunciation. The former is individuated by the imaginary inclusion into the symbolic order, grammatically objectivated within the signifying chain. It therefore becomes constituted as the subject who speaks, and which forms a Voice; in a retroactive assignment of meaning to the sequentially deployed utterance. The subject of the enunciation, on the other hand, is the slippery index for the subject of the unconscious, which remains forever subtracted and incomplete from desire’s imaginary-symbolic operations; utterly meaningless, barren, bereft, barred, and void of substantive identity.
          The subject of the enunciation thus becomes readable and visible only within the symptomatic-metonymic elements present in the signifying chain; and which it falls to the analyst to read off; there, in an “'extinction that is still glowing and an opening that stumbles, I can come into being by disappearing from my statement" (E; Pg. 678). Thus, the psychoanalytic operation towards the unconscious is not one of digging for a pre-linguistic positive content hidden behind the signifying chain, which would constitute the ‘real subject’ after sublating and shedding off its feeble illusions. More subtly, it attempts to find within the signifying chain itself those symptomatic anomalies and ruptures which locate the subject’s unconsciously articulated desire. Thus the “…the radical role of metaphor and metonymy, substitution and combination of signifiers in synchronic and diachronic dimensions" (Ibid).
         Without further ado, we should present the graph of desire in its second form, since it should suffice at that stage for our present purposes[4]:

     The graph transparently presents two asymmetrical but synchronous trajectories: the parabola of the subject of enunciation (also called the subject of intention, implicitly following Husserl); and the signifying chain wherein the grammatical subject of the statement becomes expressed. At the base of both trajectories, we see the symbol ∆, which stands for the imaginary mythical subject of need. Immediately above the trajectory of the subject of the enunciation we see the formation of the ‘spectral image’ which will consolidate finally the ego-Ideal. The intersection at (O) designates the first puncturing of the symbolic order (point de caption); the “Big Other” of language which fixes retroactively the meaning and reference of the signifying chain and of the statement, as well as fixing the produced speaking subject which makes up “the Voice”. It is to this meaning-endowing Other that speech is directed; as a ‘hole in the real’ which thus mediates the subject’s desire: “is what may be called the punctuation, in which signification ends as a finished product.” (Ibid; Pg 682) This “treasure trove of signifiers” forms a circular motion, where the signifying chain which begins is punctured by the subject’s tethering to the anonymous primacy of the symbolic; and which retroactively fixes the meaning of the entire statement. This is crucial, since what closes the statement is not finally some stable identification with a ‘real object’ of ostentation, as in Kripke’s theory of rigid designation, but only the subject’s deposition of his desire in the Otherness of language itself; to which it tethers its imaginary semblances. Thus we have a retroactive determination from the linear vector of the signifying chain which goes from s(O) - (O), back into s(O); marking where meaning is assigned only after the subject indexes the closure of the statement[5]. Lacan’s words here are amply clarifying:
         “The subject's submission to the signifier, which occurs in the circuit that goes from s(O) to O and back from O to s(O), is truly a circle, inasmuch as the assertion that is established in it—being unable to close on anything but its own scansion, in other words, failing an act in which it would find its certainty—refers back only to its own anticipation in the composition of the signifies which is in itself meaningless  insignifiante”  (Ibid; Pg 683, translation modified).
        Thus desire needs to be objectivated and fixated in the external Otherness of language, stapled to a (transient) object masking the void of its repetitive stupidity. The function of language is to introduce the (mythical) subject of need in the momentary fantasized unity with its mirror image, onto an economy of lack, triggered by entering the symbolic order: “Desire begins to take shape in the margin in which the demand rips away from need… A margin which, as linear as it may be, allows its vertiginous character to appear… it is this whimsy that introduces the phantom of Omnipotence- not of the subject, but of the Other in which the subject’s demand is instantiated.” (Ibid; 689)
           This provides the clue to the meaning of Lacan’s famous proto-Hegelian claim that “man’s desire is the Other’s desire… it is qua Other that man desires.” (Ibid) In other words, desire is always fixed and objectivated by anchoring the imaginary field of spectral images through the castrating externality of language, which marks for the subject a constitutive loss and therefore is experienced as an imposition. The statement in which the desire of the subject will find itself will thus be in the form of a demand from the Other’s desire, from the Big Other which closes the signifying chain by blessing it with the seal of meaning: what does the Other want from me? (Ibid, 690-691) The important point here is that the meaning and individuation assigned to the field of the imaginary-visible becomes retroactively constituted by an act of reference to an externalized object of desire for the subject. The transient positive content this externality assumes is of course designed to mask the true formal emptiness of desire’s monotonous repetition: objet petit a as impossible object-cause, fueling the entire process. The final part of the parabola illustrates thus, having traversed the defiles through the signifier, the conjunction of the symbolic-imaginary of the subject which already has been affected by symbolic castration, projecting his ideal unity in the form of the ego-Ideal, I(O). That is, the specular self-image constituted by the interpellation of the Other’s desire and which condemns the subject to repeat his failure to enjoy with unbridled immediacy. This is the ideality which concentrates the subject’s belief in the omnipotence of the symbolic; the identity wed to the Voice where Speech envelops Truth within its fictional, symbolic investment. The space of the ego-Ideal is thus the end of the trajectory of the subject of the enunciation in coincidence to how the Voice is the end of the subject of the statement. Once again, there is a retroactive effectuation in order, where the subject determines not just the object which will have been meant in the statement, but also the subject “he will have been” (Ibid):  “This trajectory which ends in the [ego-ideal] is a retroversion effect by which the subject, at each stage, becomes what he was (to be) [etait] before that, and "he will have been" is only announced in the future perfect tense.” [Ibid; Pg. 684]
            The lower part of the graph can be thus squarely allotted to the imaginary, while the superior part indexes the symbolic, while their intersection is seen at the two points s(O) and (O). The ‘ego’ finally appears as split between the imaginary and symbolic, just like the spectral-image. The ego-Ideal as end of the trajectory therefore represents the fetishized and unattainable unity of the Voice; affected by the severance of symbolic castration; the paternal order of the Law. At the base of the trajectory, disconnected from the subject of need, we only have the barred-subject $, the formal void of a split ground which is not part of the statement, but which can only be symptomatically located therein as a sign of the unconscious. Since there is no substantive content proper to the subject, no statement which regulates all others, Lacan is fully justified in saying that there is no Other of the Other; that there is no subject to be captured ‘outside’ of language or, what amounts to the same that “…there is no metalanguage.” (Ibid, 688)
         The individuation of the imaginary realm, which as we saw constitutes the entire field of the visible, remains for Lacan effected by the economy of lack, as the intentionality of the subject of desire must traverse the order of the signifier in the vain fantasy to regain the impossible object which would endow him with unbridled enjoyment; “the phallus” which grants unmediated access to the maternal body.  Next we will review how Deleuze sees in Foucault’s account of discursive stratification an asymmetrical account to Lacan’s, which challenges the latter’s libidinal economy.

 II – Disjunctive Synthesis: Deleuze’s Morphogenesis of Knowledge
(a) Some Preliminary Remarks
       If Lacan can be said to develop a reading of Freud in order to propose an algebraic topology of desire; then Deleuze can be said to propose a reading of Foucault in the process of unearthing a functionalist morphology of power[6].  Yet the crux of the debate concerns finally the status of the visible. As we saw above, for Lacan visibility is squarely anchored on the imaginary order and was therefore implied within the trajectory of the subject’s desire, affected by the castrating wound of the symbolic. For Deleuze’s Foucault, on the other hand, tethering the visible to subjective desire in a libidinal economy is still a spurious “subjectivism”. Rather, the field of visibility will be shown to enjoy an autonomous order and its own principle of distribution. So whereas the Lacanian split finds itself in the axes of the subject and the signifier, the Deleuzean framework will work rather within the axes of the visible and the articulable. The latter term, which indexes the function of language is co-constitutive of an operational space wherein power becomes distributed and stratified; but nevertheless asymmetrical to the order of the visible.  Language is not a function of subjective constitution; but productive of it.
       A good way to approach this difference is the following; both Lacan and Freud seek to unearth a non-experiential knowledge sedimented in the subject of the unconscious; the subject of enunciation which disappears in the tropes of the signifying chain. This is an anti-empiricist (anti-psychological) and anti-phenomenological prescription. For Deleuze and Foucault, on the other hand, the task is rather to seek a non-subjective knowledge, thoroughly distributed as power; the stratification of empirico-historical positivities qua bundles of visibility and readability (Deleuze; Pg. 60). We could summarize this preliminary parallel by saying that if Lacan and the structuralist post-Marxist tradition seek subjects without experience, Deleuze and Foucault are seeking experiences without subjects. In fact, in the case of Foucault, it is the category of the subject, which for him taints the post-Marxist critique of ideology, including its Althusserian structuralist guise; even if he agrees in that the subject is merely the product of a process. For Foucault, there is thus no ‘barred subject’ underlying the trajectory of desire towards its impossible object-cause; nor the pure place of interpellation of the subject proper to the investment of the ideological state apparatus.
          What Deleuze finds in Foucault at heart is not a criticism of the imaginary fictions of the subject; but a radical, anti-phenomenological critique of representation. The critique of representation comes to intervene against the latter’s operations in four critical axes: identity in the concept, opposition in the predicate, resemblance in perception, and analogy in judgment[7]. Thus, for Foucault, as for Deleuze, the thematic surrounding the subject of lack, which is at the heart of the psychoanalytic conception, is still too marked by representation in its dialectical guise; negation/opposition in the predicate for instance is still reflected in the Oedipal myth of the lost object-cause of desire. This is also why it will not merely be the ‘defiles through the signifier’ as such which is traversed by the subject of the unconscious and which will come to assume the place of a Voice, of an aural speaking being. It is not the libidinal desire of the unconscious which is ‘structured as a language’, repressed at the base of all successive imaginary-symbolic objectifications. So when Foucault speaks of the unconscious he means a thoroughly positive, non-repressed unconscious of knowledge, and not the sexual enigma of a castrated being circulating around its own proper void. Sex and desire is not the space wherein symptoms can be read, but is in a sense the modern symptom itself: “What is peculiar to modern societies, in fact, is not that they consigned sex to a shadowy existence, but that they dedicated themselves to speaking of it ad infinitum, while explaining it as the secret.” (Discipline and Punish; Pg 53)
   (b) The Visible and the Articulable:
          Deleuze begins the chapter titled Strata or Historical Formations: The Visible and the Articulable by raising to Foucault’s question about the production of ‘strata’; where the latter are defined as: a) historical formations, b) positivities, and c) empiricities. These three terms are in isomorphism with respect to their material basis (Deleuze, Pg 47). Strata are defined thus as historical formations which appear as positive terms in concrete empirical situations, and which constitute the being of knowledge in general. Thus the three variations should be taken to be as mutually implicating each other.  The structural equivalence of these iterated terms is reflected at the next, lower level which, wherein Deleuze designates what these strata are ‘made of’: a) things and words, b) seeing and speaking, c) from the visible and sayable, d) bands of visibility and fields of readability, e) contents and expressions (Ibid). Again, these pairings are taken to be isomorphic and not simply ‘analogous’; the latter remains a category of representation in judgment. In any case, Deleuze underlines through the division between contents and expressions that the former is not a signified and the latter are not signifiers. The same obviously applies to each of the five iterations at this level; the point being that the relation between the visible and the articulable is not that between things in the world (objects) and words (signifiers). The latter would be to thereby rehabilitate the cog of representation; and with it the constitutive agency of a subject qua transcendental agency.
         The obvious question arises thus: what grounds then the isomorphic structure of these pairings? The answer is that these dyads are isomorphic with respect to a dual structure, reflected for each term of the pair. Both the visible and the sayable are endowed with form and substance. It is the former, however, that will acquire methodological priority, since it serves to determine a functional space for the distribution of visibilities and statements. It is at this level, however, that the essential divergence between the two odd halves of the visible and the articulable finally emerge, and thus with it their irreducibility, and their co-determining role for strata. Without further ado, let us introduce our provisional reconstruction of the ‘graph of knowledge/stratification’ to help us navigate the field of Deleuzean concepts:
      As we have explained; the isomorphy of stratification runs all the way until the bottom level, where the isomorphic substructural split between form and content finally diverges in producing non-isomorphic distributions for both the visible and the sayable.  Deleuze’s aim is to show this asymmetrical split cannot be reduced to either the agency of the statement, or to the visible. Both the visible and the articulable are formally determinable and substantially determined (Ibid, Pg 68). But it is the form which is methodologically prior since it provides an externalized space for the distribution of substance. In other words, it is only in the formal specification of the distributing function (designated as f(x) and f(y)) that bodies, and thereby substance, are distributed. Here Deleuze follows not so much Plato or Aristotle’s understandings of form; but more specifically Duns Scotus and Spinoza. The crucial point that we must understand is that formal distinction is not merely ideal or of reason; but fully real: “Formal distinction is definitely a real distinction expressing as it does the different layers of reality that form or constitutes a being…” (Deleuze 1997: Pg 64)
        The two odd halves with their respective forms and distributions constitute however a singular stratified space; a positivity or empiricity in the technical sense.  Form and substance are in their determination of the visible and articulable, to speak like Kant, thus the conditions of possibility for any “behavior” or “mentality”, for any ‘subjectivity’. This is easily seen since the dual formal determination of visible and expressed, style and system, fixes the content for set of subjects, as a function to its variables: “The conditions are those of real experience (statements, for example, assume a limited corpus); they are on the side of the 'object' and historical formation, not a universal subject (the a priori itself is historical); all are forms of exteriority.” (Deleuze, Pg 60)
         Prior to the determination of the function f(x) there is no stylistic form, and therefore no distribution of the visible. By the same token, prior to the determination of the function f(y) there is no systematic form, and therefore no distribution of the sayable. In both cases what the formal determination does is to create a space, a panoptical point of external determination, for the production and distribution of substances and subjects, understood as immanent effects of a process. This co-determination of the visible and the sayable is, however, historically contingent and open to perpetual modifications in both its visible distribution of bodies and systematic regulation of statements:  “These are the two essential aspects: on the one hand each stratum or historical formation implies a distribution of the visible and the articulable which acts upon itself; on the other, from one stratum to the next there is a variation in the distribution, because the visibility itself changes in style, while the statements themselves change their system.”  (Ibid, Pg. 48)
     An example offered by Deleuze and illustrated in our diagram is that of the prison or internment. The prison as a place constitutes a general form in which the conscripts become distributed; one in which delinquents, murderers, the maladapted, and so on become immanently enclosed within visible parameters. This is the ‘style’ proper to the stratification of the prison-machine. By the same token, the penal law is also a space for the general form in which the law distributes the statements/actions of the conscripts. This is the dimension of the prison-system. Strata are thus at once a historical perception or sensibility (the prison and the conscripts), as much as a discursive system (the penal code and the statements under it). This dual functional production of form within a singular historical positivity constitutes the disciplinary stratification which channels power thoroughly in its modern, institutional specificity. This seems to be the meaning behind Deleuze’s dazzling utterance that, “An age does not preexist the statements which express it, nor the visibilities which fill it” (Ibid Pg 48). This preponderance of dually constituted knowledge rather than the void of the subject of enunciation split by signification is finally the key to understanding the irreducibility of the visible. We get in Foucault’s archeology of knowledge not just the Voice of the speaking subject, but apparently the Gaze of no-one, the pure visible, in which a space where strict internal regulations of power can thereby be established: “However, the conditions pertaining to visibility are not the way in which a subject sees: the subject who sees is himself a place within visibility, a function derived from visibility (as in the place of the king in classical representation, or the place of any observer in any prison system).” (Ibid, Pg. 57) This seems perfectly in order with Foucault’s own formulations:
              "A whole problematic then develops: that of an architecture that is no longer built simply to be seen (as with the ostentation of palaces), or to observe the external space (ct. the geometry of fortresses), but to permit an internal, articulated and detailed control-to render visible those who are inside it; in more general terms, an architecture that would operate to transform individuals: to act on those it shelters, to provide a hold on their conduct, to carry the effects of power right to them, to make it possible to know them, to alter them" (D&P; Pg. 146)
       By the same diversifying qualification, there is no “Big Other” of language for knowledge as an operation, but only specific historico-empirical formations of statements in asymmetrical position to visible distributions: “…discourse [as a self sufficient stable whole] is annihilated in its reality by entering into the order of the signifier.” (Deleuze, Pg. 50) This is why Foucault/Deleuze may speak thus of an autonomous being-of-language, not subordinated to the subject. (Ibid, Pg. 56). Just like there is no subject of the enunciation stapled to the Voice, there is no subject of the visible capturing its forms by the Gaze: only as stratified there is a subject of knowledge: “The stratified element is not the indirect object of a knowledge which would subsequently emerge but instead something that directly constitutes a knowledge the lesson of things and the lesson of grammar… There is nothing prior to knowledge” (Ibid, Pg. 51) Knowledge is thus this unified machinic assemblage which produces statements and localizes visible bodies. By no means is science the privileged producer or adjudicator for knowledge however, since knowledge deals formally with all thresholds, i.e. “there are only practices and positivities” (Ibid). This is why for Foucault, Deleuze reminds us, the split between science and literature, humanities and sciences, has never been a problem (Ibid).
          “Foucault discovered the form of expression in a most original conception of the 'statement' which viewed it as a function that crosses different unities, tracing a diagonal line more akin to music than to a signifying system... The subject is a variable, or rather a set of variables of the statement. It is a function derived from the primitive function, or from the statement itself.” (55)
        Since the subject is the mere function of a primitive function which is the being-of-language itself, Deleuze as well as Foucault can see no ‘outside of ideology’ in which the technologies of the self produce statements and distribute bodies. There is no traumatic kernel of the Real anymore than a void of subjective desire in an intentional vector[8].
      Knowledge is thus not a science performed by a subject; not episteme, but a differential system of historically produced positivities. Yet the forms of visibility which resist the symbolic coup are also not Aristotelian ‘forms of objects’, nor mere effects of the signifier. Where do these forms emerge from then? The answer Deleuze attributes to Foucault involves a strange detour by way of the aesthetic, in a quasi-phenomenological rhapsodic realism where “…forms of luminosity which are created by the light itself [and not by the effect of the signifier].” (Ibid, Pg 52) These forms are not Aristotelian stable Identities since they are ephemeral, in flux, and only allow objects to subsist “…as a flash, sparkle or shimmer” (Ibid). Light is thus the operator of unstable individuations for stylistic form. The only thing one must do is extricate the regime of structure immanent to the distribution of the visible, and not from the depths of a libidinal unconscious in the statement: “behind the curtain there is nothing to see” (Ibid). Thus Deleuze rises to the tripartite challenge against the arche­ of knowledge qua language: in terms of persons (psychology), the signifier as an internal organizing principle of language (structuralism), or of a primacy experience (phenomenology). The formations of language which regulate the distributions of statements are historical and as such exhibit asymmetrical regularities without ‘general form’; but in varying succession from one strata to the next (Ibid; 57). The archeology of knowledge can thus  never be ideology critique. There is nothing to see behind the curtain just like there is no speaking being outside of language:
     “Therefore the historical being of language never manages to gather this new function in an inner consciousness that founds, originates or even mediates; on the contrary, it constitutes a form of exteriority in which the statements of the corpus under consideration appear by way of dispersal and dissemination. It is a distributive unity.” (Ibid)
         By the same token, the visible must be read in its enabling conditions and not just as a ‘field of external objects’. We must understand the material organization of knowledge as an organizing morphology of the visible. There is not just a language-being, but a light-being. A light which is furthermore not a phenomenological lichtung, or clairvoyance into the depths of the Real; but also a historically nested distribution.  The isomorphism of the general structure of stratification at its higher levels diverges therefore in the specific formations proper on occasion to light and language, the visible and the articulable; their ultimate isomorphism must be, after all, an ‘epistemological dream’ (Ibid, Pg.62).  There is finally an asymmetry between text and figure, as in the case of the prison, where the genealogy between law and place are not coextensive.
         If there is any priority to the statement it is said insofar as it provides an spontaneous capacity for determining form, while the visible in turn is what remains always malleable as the determinable: “The statement has primacy by virtue of the spontaneity of its conditions (language) which give it a determining form, while the visible element, by virtue of the receptivity of its conditions (light), merely has the form of the determinable.” (Ibid, Pg. 67) Yet this seems strange, since having accepted the visible as having its own individuating form by the work of light, independently of the statement or language, then surely it cannot depend on the statement for its determination. The individuation of light must be in itself capable of being determinant and not just “determinable”; lest we seek to reintroduce the workings of an agency, however anonymous, in the individuation of the visible. But if this active role upon the visible is clearly not the forming of the sayable, since if it was the visible would be a function of the sayable, then wherefrom does this constitution emerge?
      The obvious alternative which can satisfy neither Foucault nor Deleuze is that this is the agency of some form of ‘transcendental subject’; reproducing the old Kantian oppositions between passive intuition (sensibility) and active understanding (categorical form). Light is thus said to be receptive, but not just passive like sensibility; the sayable is not just active (Ibid: Pg 65-66). Yet for all these precautions, Deleuze’s Foucault does seem to uphold a peculiar iteration of the Kantian duality, where discourse provides the spontaneity of language, and light that of receptivity and intuition. Thus the ‘primacy of the statement’ is simply its determining role in determining formations, while the visible is the purely determinable: the pre-individual field of sensibility which “…refuses to be reduced to the form of determination.” (Ibid).  What is peculiar to the sensible is in a sense to be always in receptive excess to the operational and stabilizing form of statements; its own forms are always mutating. This is why the sensible is not ‘containing’ the statements as form to matter, or vice versa; but constituting the form of determinable exteriority wherein the sayable becomes disseminated and conditioned. It is thus a source for subversion as the morphing patterns of light which structure the visible to formally change anew: “The two heterogeneous forms comprise a condition and a conditioned element, light and visibilities, language and statements; however, the condition does not 'contain' the conditioned element but offers it in a space of dissemination, and offers up itself as a form of exteriority.” (Ibid, Pg. 66)
       But if this is the case; then the question remains: how do the two odd halves of the visible and the articulable ever relate? This question dates back as far as Descartes’ infamous appeal to the pineal gland to explain the communication of the res extensa and res cogitans, body and mind; and perhaps more relevantly to Kant’s appeal to the ‘transcendental unity of apperception’ as the subjective synthetic unity of sensibility and understanding. In Foucault’s case, however, at a loss for any ‘transcendental agency’ to do the trick, what we get is a strange account of a “non-relation” between the two halves with occasional overlaps and crossovers: “Between the two [halves] alliances are formed and broken, and there is occasional overlapping on particular strata and thresholds.” (Ibid, Pg 63) Deleuze seems fully at ease with a “disjunctive synthesis” in which the two halves occasionally overlap, without entering into direct relation. The non-relation thus constitutes finally a “…relation of a deeper sort” (Ibid).  These are the slippery ‘problematizations’ in asymptotic convergence, says Deleuze, which inaugurate the “games of truth” between the two domains qua “practices of seeing and speaking”, there where “the two halves of truth must enter into a relation, problematically, at the very moment when the problem of truth denies any possible correspondence or conformity between them.” (Ibid; Pg 64) This asymmetry is localized in the dramatic disjunctions between the two orders: the interns of the asylum who should not be there, as much as those who aren’t but should. This instability of the discursive concept denotes a ‘problematic field’ for the disjunctive exchange between the two domains, according to Deleuze, which renders their conjunction impossible (Ibid). In this impossible conjunction, however, the deeper relation shows itself as “two forms spill over into one another, as in a battle.” (Pg. 66)
        And still, for all the seductions of the prose’s semantic resonance, Deleuze’s appeals to this ‘shadowy void’ by metaphoric references to battles and struggle remains on this account nothing but a sophistic exercise, trying to mitigate the problem of the impossible communication between the visible and the sayable, having eradicated all form of externalized agency from the former as subordinating the stylistic work of light. We know that that the preliminary account of this dyad is in any case suggestively mirroring the Deleuzean split between the field of virtual multiplicities in perplication, and the actual field of intensive individuations, all the way onto the extensive explication into species-parts. Of course, Deleuze's own vitalist-panpsychist account is not on any account on exactly parallel footing to Foucault's bizarre dyad; the former chashes out the individuation of the intensive through the formal resources of differential calculus, and the divergence of individuating series across vector fields remains foreign to Foucault's proper project. But the question is finally whether the distributions of the visible can be immanently individuated; if they are proper to light as such, and not the operations of anonymous agencies transcending the strata as such. Put differently, the question is whether the distribution of the visible is by necessity historically specified inside the epistemological-agency of discourse, or whether it can obtain independently. The latter option surreptitiously surrenders the visible to a proto-hermeneutic historicism, where the ‘objectual’ formations of light are functions of discourse inside knowledge-power.
           The pure determinability of the receptivity of light as the determinable formed by ‘patterns of light’ is, in Foucault’s account, therefore strangely oscillating between the realist claim according to which its principle of individuation is material (that of light itself), and the idealist claim according to which these material individuations are in the last instance subordinate to a form of active, cognizing, and knowledge producing agency as its ‘stabilizing cause’. Deleuze seems fully aware of these aporias in Foucault:
      “But even Foucault needs a third agency to co-adapt the determinable and determination, the visible and the articulable, the receptivity of light and the spontaneity of language, operating either beyond or this side of the two forms. It is for this reason that Foucault said that the grappling implies a distance across which the adversaries 'exchange their threats and words', and that the place of confrontation implies a 'non-place' which bears witness to the fact that the opponents do not belong to the same space or rely on the same form.” (Ibid, Pg 68).
        This tension between the visible and the sayable, which cannot invoke something like the ‘transcendental imagination’, thereby constitutes a symptomatic point in Deleuze’s account of morphogenesis. There is a space in-between the visible and the articulable which is, just like Lacan’s barred subject, a void, a non-place; ambiguously passive/active, suspended as it flees in causing delirious forms. Free from the shackles of desire, yet gravitating around the purely determinable visible as a malleable Real, the odd halves of the visible and the articulable amount to a transcendental dualism where discourse is required not just for the strata, but for any individuation of the visible.
          Yet by constraining the individuation of the visible to its discursive co-determination, Deleuze seems to lend itself to the proto-phenomenological, Heideggerean fable where morphogenesis is finally a function of an impersonal, contingent historical agency. The non-place for the relation between the visible and the articulable thereby serves as the ‘vanishing mediator’ to link the two odd halves, just like the power of the imagination in Kant bridged sensibility and understanding.  This pure Outside is of course, the Foucaultean non-pantheistic omnipresent agent; the impersonal omniscience which envelops every discursive formation in its dynamical becoming. It is rather a historical positivity, an ‘empiricity’, which lends consistency to the non-isomorphic dualism inbuilt in knowledge and strata, the visible and the articulable. The Foucaultean name for this “third informal dimension”, which battles and weaves the disjunctive synthesis of forms, is, of course, power. And isn't the rare annonymous empiricity nothing but an imaginary semblance void of individuated content; delivered instead into the historicist fable? We shall leave this question, for the moment, unsettled.

[1] 1. Lacan, Jacques, The Seminar, Book XX: Encore, On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge, NY: Norton, 1998, p 48.
[2] Lacan, Jacques, Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English, NY: Norton, 1998, p 48.

[3] Lacan develops how the formative process of the mirror-stage consists of a ‘temporal dialectic’ which traces a line from insufficiency to anticipation, from need to desire; an ‘orthopaedic’ development. (E: Pg. 692)
[4] For these graphs see (E, Pg; 681-688)
[5] Slavoj Zizek has famously proposed to read this operation of retroactive determination along the lines of Kripke’s account of rigid designation; where the point of caption where the subject pierces the big Other fixes a referent for the signifying statement like a rigid designator. For the details see Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, Chapter III, Pg 206.
[6] In what follows we shall obviously concentrate on Deleuze’s startling reading in Foucault.
[7] And this is why Deleuze’s magnum opus, Difference and Repetition, is continuous with Foucault’s project insofar as it attempts to think of a theory of pure difference outside the logic of representation. See Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, translated by Paul Patton, Columbia University Press, 1994.
[8] This seems to be essentially Slavoj Zizek’s conclusion: “Foucault’s dismissal of the negative, repressed, resisting and disturbing surplus of discourse leads to an eviction of the Real from discourse analysis”. See Zizek, Slavoj; “Cogito, Madness, and Religion: Derrida, Foucault, and then Lacan”; available online at http://www.lacan.com/zizforest.html

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There was a time when Lacan used the Simbolic as his favorite weapon to dismiss theoric rivals, like Sartre.I remember well.
The Simbolic would bring peace, while Sartre would be in the rivalries of the Imaginary. Then, as the "plain talk" (Tu es ma femme.)lost its appeal (the mother, the father and the child in their right places, but the marriages didn't hold to long, I imagine...), due to Derrida's readings, and D&G attacks on the ideology of the little family, then came the Real, the impossible.
Now Zizek will spend the rest of his life accusing everybody who didn't pray to the Name of the Father, of neglecting the Real.
It's so easy to dismiss someone's work with a single word... It was the Symbolic against Sartre; now is the Real against a lot of people. At least Derrida read Lacan with patience and irony and humor... Zizek is always jumping from one topic to another. Sometimes he is good, as he read Schelling, a kind of reading that was hidden from the general public, including philosophers.
I read that book in the beginning of the 90s, and I didn't read it again. Bad point to Zizek.

Tan dijo...