Idiot Joy Showland

This is why I hate intellectuals

Month: May, 2013

Exclusive extract: The Lacan Conundrum, by Dan Brown

Dan Brown’s new novel Inferno went on sale yesterday and has already careered straight to the top of the bestseller charts. Naturally, I was a little jealous. However, unlike the throngs of snobbishly unpublished authors who take it upon themselves to parody Brown’s works, I decided it would be far more productive to try to learn from someone so clearly a master of his craft. That said, I needed an edge on my competitors, and just reading Inferno wouldn’t cut it. I knew his next novel, scheduled for publication in 2015, had already been written. So at midnight last night I parachuted stealthily out of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk plane with a Garmin G1000 Primary Flight Display flying at 13,000 feet over the small Westphalian city of Gütersloh – home to Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, parent company of Doubleday, the publisher of Dan Brown’s novels. Landing on the roof of the squat office building, I quickly incapacitated the guards, who were armed with Heckler & Koch MP5 sub-machine guns, for reasons best known to themselves. Gingerly, I entered the building through a ventilation duct. Eventually I found myself outside the room where Dan Brown’s next novel was being kept. What I found in there revolted me. The air stank of ordure and rotting bananas. The shit-speckled walls, the piss-sodden carpet, the flies, the rats. About a thousand primates sat there on ergonomic office chairs, chained to antique typewriters. The macaques and tamarins were visibly distressed, straining at their manacles, screeching helplessly, banging their heads against their desks. A few chimpanzees had resigned themselves with seeming good humour to their work; while one typed, another groomed its back. By the far wall, a sad-faced old orangutan slowly and arrhythmically pressed the ‘H’ key, over and over again, staring dejectedly at the reams of paper it had yet to fill. The baboons seemed to be in charge of the place, though. They were unshackled. As I entered they shrieked in unison, baring their yellow fangs. I grabbed a few sheets from the typewriter of the nearest gibbon and ran. As I left the building, pursued by the chilling ululations of the baboons, I briefly passed Bertelsmann’s Employee of the Week board. On every square was a picture of a baboon. And at the top, smiling benevolently down on them, was a photo of the Reinhard Mohn, the corporation’s legendary former CEO: a silverback gorilla, staring with a pipe in his mouth and the faint gleam of a deep unknowable wisdom in his round brown eyes.

The lines that follow are all that I could rescue from that room.

THE STORY SO FAR: Around the world, hundreds of men and women drop dead on the same day. The tall man Chad McRib, professor of Obscurantology at Hardton University, is accused of complicity in their deaths. Fleeing the French police through the streets of Paris, he finds himself catapulted into the ancient mysteries of the 20th Century, as it emerges that all of the victims had at one time or another been analysands of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. After Chad enlists the help of the beautiful European nuclear scientess Slavojina Zizek, it is discovered that Lacan had been highly radioactive. It was for this reason that he had gone against the Société Parisienne de Psychanalyse in introducing shorter sessions: he knew that prolonged exposure could give his patients a lethal dose of radiation. But who had irradiated him, and why? Chad and Slavojina delve into the sewers of Paris with a stolen copy of Lacan’s notebooks to find the answer, but find themselves trapped in the terrifying Mirror Stage, and shadowed by mysterious gazing figures…

The tall brown-haired man walked into the room. The man was Chad McRib, who was tall. The attractive woman Slavojina Zizek clung to his arm. The whirr of a VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) air-conditioning unit hung in the air, which was suffused with the hum of a VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) air-conditioning unit.
“We’ll be safe here, Slavojina,” Chad said. “As we have checked into this hotel, the Hôtel Fièvre Gastrique on the Rue  Grossier, under false names, the Big brOthers will be unable to find us here, in this particular place.”
Slavojina reclined delightfully on the expensive bed. “Zhe question ish, what ish it we should we do now?” she purred, like a cat suddenly teleported to Planet Milk. “Theesh I claim: we musht carry out the sexual act, it ish our duty, in zhe Kantian senshe.” Her hand fluttered teasingly over her eyebrow and the bridge of her bulbous nose as she grunted sensuously.
“While it is true that we are now experiencing a high level of mutual attraction, especially when compared to our first meeting two days ago, during which you were somewhat wary of me, we have no time for that,” said Chad, who was high in stature and had brown hair. “Whoever those people are, they won’t stop looking for us until they have these écrits,” he continued cromulently. “Whatever the secret is, it must be hidden in this notebook,” he mouth-flappled.
The notebook was square and had yellowed over the years. Its cover was black with embossed gold lettering. The paper was made from pine woodpulp. 60% of the pulp that had gone into the notebook had come from a single pine tree. The tree had been planted in 1928 near the Spanish town of Rascafria. In 1941 a Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca adalberti) had nested in its branches like a zeppelin docking at the Empire State Building. The eagle was later shot by a hunter named José Mercader, who had a thick moustache and later fell into penury for unrelated reasons. None of its chicks survived. Chad McRib opened the notebook with his fingers, which were long and slim, much like his body, which was tall and slim. He read a few pages, like a crowded minivan plunging tragically off a cliff. I’ve got it, he thought. If the unconscious mind is itself a series of chains of signification, then literally everything has a hidden meaning and every single object is part of a vast paternal conspiracy. But what could be the purpose of it all? Suddenly, he knew.

~

He then told Slavojina what he had discovered, which was very unsettling and also exciting. “It is commonly said in the bar-rooms and crack dens of the world that Lacanian psychoanalysis is difficult,” the professor said, thrillingly. “Indeed, many of my students have told me that they find it difficult to read Lacan, because his words are difficult to understand and the order in which they are placed also makes them difficult to understand,” the noted academic who was on the run from the police said, in tones that made it sound very exciting. “However, what if the reason for this complexity is that Lacan’s works in fact carry a hidden message, explaining who had given him his continual doses of radiation? For instance, Lacan attempted to explain psychoanalytic concepts through mathematical formulae. The traditional interpretation is that he did so as a half-serious attempt to give his theories objective mathematical weight. But could it be something else?” The teaching-type person, who was very clever and also had brown hair, directed the woman’s attention to a diagram in the notebook. “Look at this,” he said. “Does thees not demonstrate precisely zhat in making a line acrosh zhe face of zhe Real, zhe act of represhentation ish itshelf monstrous, in a senshe deesgushting?” Slavojina giggled.
“Exactly,” said the man, who was called Chad McRib. “It doesn’t seem to make any sense. But what if we tried to solve it as if it were a perfectly ordinary triquadratic biequation?” He scribbled in the notebook with the furious zeal of an itinerant lobster, using a Pentel GraphGear 1000 PG1015 automatic pencil. “You get this.”
 “My God,” said Slavojina. “Pure ideology.”
“I think the whole book is a map” said the fêted head-think-brain-man. “It’s a set of directions. Where is the name of the Father written in Paris? Above the altar in Notre Dame. And what forms a phallus? The Eiffel Tower. Somewhere along the line between those two points an incredibly precious object is hidden, an object people have been seeking for centuries. That’s what the Big brOthers are after. Lacan’s notebook gives us the route to the objet petit a. The ultimate object of desire. The Holy Grail, Slavojina.’
“But zhees ish eempossible,” said Slavojina. “Zhe objet petit a ish unobtainable. Zhat ish zhe source of eets transcendence.”
The famous professor flipped through the square book. “What if I told you that I know exactly where it is?” the elegant variation pronounced.
“In zhe filum of Heetchcock, zhe gaze ish never a pure gaze, eet ish alwaysh accompanied by zhe threat of viyolence,” Slavojina gasped.
“You’re right. We haven’t a second to lose.”
As the tall man Chad McRib and the attractive woman Slavojina Zizek stepped out of the hotel onto the Rue Grossier, a dark bad figure of a bad man lurking in an alleyway watched as they hurried off towards the Seine. He cocked his SIG P226 pistol and began to follow them.

~

A short man burst into the boardroom of a superbly appointed office building in New York. “Sir,” he said, proffering a photo of Chad exiting the hotel. “McRib is back.”
Sitting alone in the room, which had excellent views over the river, wearing a sharp navy-blue three-piece suit, the Master-Signifier smiled in an evil way as would befit someone who is obviously the villain in this story. “All is going according to plan,” the Master-Signifier said. “Once McRib finds the objet petit a for us, no power on Earth can prevent us from crushing the schizoanalysts and achieving world domination.’

Will our heroes find the objet petit a? (no.) Does it even exist? (no.) What about the Big brOthers, do they exist? (no.) Will Chad uncover their plot before the radical schizoanalysts detonate a nuclear bomb over Vienna and wipe out the Freudian legacy? (no.) What unexpected twist awaits us before the novel’s end? (Slavojina is quite clearly a man.) To find out, you’ll just have to wait until 2015.

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The oleagineity of Nigel Farage

 … ssss…. kill them all… eat their egssssss….

Russian leaders have followed a strict pattern since 1825: lisiy–volosatiy, bald-hairy. A bald leader has always been followed by a hairy leader, a hairy leader by a bald leader. In the UK we do things a little differently. While in Russia hair sprouts with the furious fecundity of Stalin’s purges and Yeltsin’s shock treatment before receding in Khrushchev’s secret speech at the 20th Party Congress or Putin’s managed democracy, in Britain nothing ever changes. Russia has dialectical progress, we have dynamic stasis. Our prime ministers come in two types: the slimy and the greasy. Our politics is a contest between opposing forms of oleaginous unpalatability. David Cameron is slimy. Call me Dave, he says, as he stares at you with hunger in his slitted eyes. Gordon Brown is greasy. He may as well have been made from leftover chip fat. Tony Blair is slimy. The Iraqi blood slides right over the shiny coating on his hands. John Major is greasy. His leftover Y-fronts could supply the UK’s energy needs for the next decade. Thatcher was slimy. Callaghan was greasy. Wilson slimy, Heath greasy, Wilson no less slimy the first time. And on and on, the eternal pattern cycling back through the centuries to that distant day when the first poor wretch scrambling around in Albion’s mud took it upon himself to rule over his fellows. But all that might be about to end.

Ed Milliband is greasy, perhaps the greasiest man ever to lurch his way into the House of Commons; he looks like a blob of Vaseline with a haircut and an awkward smile drawn on. Even so, something is changing in our world; the old rules no longer make any sense. The air resounds with governments and economies falling like hailstones. The ice caps are melting. The rain is poison. The sea is plastic. The End of Days is upon us. And Nigel Farage is both slimy and greasy.

Nigel Farage. Say it. It’s horrible, like a slug sitting on your tongue. It fits him perfectly. There’s not a photo of the man in which it doesn’t look like his skin’s about to split open, fall away so the crawling thing inside can rear up in all its insectoid glory. And Ukip is a party in his image. You can see it in that tacky purple and yellow logo, which makes it look like the political wing of Poundland (which, in a sense, is exactly what it is: a cheap, exploitative alternative, feeding off the common desparation). You can see in the language they use, too. We’re not racist, but. It’s common sense. Brussels wants to get rid of your curtains – your curtains, the ones you spend so many hours happily twitching – and replace them with Venetian blinds. Vote Ukip, save our snooping. Barmy Eurocrats want you to eat food with more than two colours. Vote Ukip, save our slurry. Gays want to paint the cliffs of Dover pink. Vote Ukip, save our staidness. Muslims – yes, all of them – want to bring wild-eyes mullahs in to inspect your pantry. Vote Ukip, save our sausages. Be afraid. We’re not racist, but. It’s common sense.

What does common sense mean here? Petty viciousness, the kind the British are so fond of, that’s all. In the run-up to the local election in East Chersterton, candidates were fielded a series of questions by the Cambridge Cycling Campaign. “Do you support plans to allow cycling on Green Dragon Bridge?” asked the Campaign. Most of the candidates mulled it over and tried to give a vaguely reasonable answer, or at least one that would endear them to voters. Not Peter Burkinshaw of Ukip. He applied some common sense. “I don’t use Green Dragon bridge,” he said, “so am not able to make an informed comment. However, I am constantly subjected to verbal abuse from cyclist riding of the footbridge at Jesus Lock when I ask them to stop ignoring the please dismount signs.” It’s a perfect image. Burkinshaw, the shit Napoleon in his purple rosette, standing by the lock, waiting for a cyclist to come by so he can remind them of the rules. And the cyclist, speeding past: oh, do fuck off. It almost makes you proud.

The needling puritanical side of what I’m calling the ‘There is a sign-Oh do fuck off’ Axis has always been a part of British life, but its recent resurgence has a precise aetiology. Successive British governments have for decades wormed away at people’s livelihoods and communities: affordable housing has been deprioritised, healthcare gutted, schools turned into businesses. In the place of the industrial sector that once secured the livelihoods of millions we’ve been left with the terrors of the service industry. No unions, no job security – forget alienation, there’s no end-product of labour to be alienated from; and to cap it all off, you might at any point be replaced by a beeping machine that querulously complains of an unexpected item in the bagging area. A few bones have been thrown our way, of course. You can go on a Saturday night talent show to be ritually humiliated by a panel of wankers in the hope of one day reaching international fame as That Guy Who Won That Show Once And Now Mostly Does Panto. (If you have intellectual pretensions, you can try BBC1’s The Voice, a daring televisual adaptation of Theodor Adorno’s On the Fetish-Character in Music.) Everyone must have a talent, and if yours doesn’t propel you to stardom then you probably deserve to work nine hours a day in a windowless office. If that doesn’t placate you, our political class has a solution of last resort: blame the immigrants! Don’t blame us, or at least not too vociferously, don’t blame our friends in the financial sector, blame the immigrants! Blame the poor and vulnerable, the huddled masses, they’re not like us, we don’t owe them anything. Blame the immigrants, hisses slimy Cameron. Blame the immigrants, rumbles greasy Brown. And somewhere, in a disused sewerage pipe in Kent, the slime and grease of their duplicity blends together and forms a hideous blob, growing with every new outrage, until it assumes human form and a wonky grin tears across Nigel Farage’s face…

In yesterday’s local elections, Ukip gained 136 councillors across the country. Farage claimed that he’s reshaped British politics. It rained a little this morning. As I watched, the rain drew thick, viscous trails across my window.

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