separation

The most difficult and painful aspect of what Lacan call ‘separation’ is thus to maintain the distance between the hard kernel of *jouissance* and the ways in which this kernel is caught in different ideological fields – *jouissance* is ‘undecidable’, ‘free-floating’. The enthusiasm of fans for their favourite rock star and the religious trance of a devout Catholic in the presence of the Pope are libidinally *the same phenomenon*; they differ only in the different symbolic network which supports them. Sergei Eisenstein’s provocatively entitled essay The Centrifuge or the Grail’ aims precisely at emphasizing this ‘unhistoricaT neutrality of ecstasy (his name for *jouissance*): in principle, the ecstasy of a knight in the presence of the Grail, and the ecstasy of a lover in the presence of the beloved, are of the same nature as the ecstasy of the kolkhoz fanner in the presence of a new centrifuge for skimming milk. Eisenstein himself refers to St Ignatius of Loyola who, elaborating on the technique of religious ecstasy, acknowledges that the positive figure of God comes second, after the moment of ‘objectless’ ecstasy: first we have the experience of objectless ecstasy; subsequently this experience is attached to some historically determined representation – here we encounter an exemplary case of the Real as that which ‘remains the same in all possible (symbolic) universes’. So, when someone, while describing his profound religious experience, emphatically answers his critics, ‘You don’t really understand it at all! There’s more to it, something words cannot express!’, he is the victim of a kind of perspective illusion: the precious *agalma* perceived by him as the unique ineffable kernel which cannot be shared by others (non-believers) is precisely *jouissance* as that which always remains the same.

zizek, plague of fantasies, page 62

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