up yours

The long fight between Nada and Armitage, worthy of The Fight Club (another masterpiece of the Hollywood Left), which starts with Nada saying to Armitage: “I’m giving you a choice. Either put on these glasses or start to eat that trash.” (The fight is taking place among overturned trash-bins.) The fight, which goes on for an unbearable 10 minutes, with moments of exchange of friendly smiles, is in itself totally “irrational” – why doesn’t Armitage accept to put the glasses on, just to satisfy his friend?

The only explanation is that he knows that his friend wants him to see something dangerous, to attain a prohibited knowledge which would totally spoil the relative peace of his daily life. The violence staged here is a positive violence, a condition of liberation – the lesson is that our liberation from ideology is not a spontaneous act, an act of discovering our true Self.

We learn in the film that, when one looks for too long at reality through critico-ideological glasses, one gets a strong headache: it is very painful to be deprived of the ideological surplus-jouissance. Marxists accept this aspect of struggle for dictatorship, they render it visible and openly practice it. Why? Let us return to the film: once you put the glasses on and see it, it no longer determines you. Which means that, before you see it through the glasses, you also saw it, but were not aware of it. To refer to the fourth missing term of Rumsfeld’s epistemology, the injunctions were your “unknown knowns”. This is why really seeing it hurts.

The key feature here is that to see the true nature of things, we need the glasses: it is not that we should put ideological glasses off to see directly reality as it is”: we are “naturally” in ideology, our natural, immediate, sight is ideological. It is thus quite appropriate that the final gesture of the dying hero in John Carpenter’s They Live is that of giving finger to the aliens – a case of thinking with a hand which functions here as an autonomous “organ without body”, a gesture of “Up yours!”, the digitus impudicus (“impudent finger”) mentioned already in Ancient Roman writings.

text: http://www.lacan.com/essays/?page_id=397
photo: turkish police gesture to resistors while their fight shortly paused

middlefinger

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