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Felix Hoenikker

The alternative is just a mechanism you MUST give it a context...

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This might be meaningless to everyone but I got an email recently from someone on this forums who will not be named just in case who asked me a question that made me think of something that I think others should consider as well. Too many people overlook the complexities that have to be addressed in the Lacan debate and I thought this should be brought to people's attention or at least might be a decent topic of discussion. He asked, "Hey, what do you think about traversing the fantasy as an alternative anyway?"

 

Here's the response I gave...

 

 

I'm glad you asked because this is an argument I devised at camp this summer. Alot of people try to look at the alternative with the Lacan debate as just "traversing the fantasy", "striking back against the self", "choosing not to choose", etc. but the thing is none of these are ever actual alternatives. They are merely the mechanism by which we might be able to solve the implications of the criticism, however, they, in and of themselves, are NOT alternatives. Now if you look to alot of Zizek's other work he indicates or points towards some things that might be viable alternatives.

 

Here's an example...

 

Look to his semi-recent and much cut article "Are We In A War? Do We Have An Enemy?". In this article Zizek makes the statement that "After the collapse of the Communist states...the Western imagination entered a decade of confusion and inefficiency, looking for suitable schematisations of the Enemy...without stabilising itself in one central image; only with 11 September did this imagination regain its power by constructing the image of bin Laden, the Islamic fundamentalist". If we combine this passage with another passage that can be found in "From tragique to moque-comique"* that says that the way the west manages to justify its military intervention is from a purely pacifistic stance that is paradoxically and simultaneously combined with militarism. It's in this context that the west is able to commit genocide with impunity because it doesn't act in a publicly acknowledged political realm but rather as a depoliticized group acting on the behalf of everyone or as a tool of a higher power**. He then advocates, instead of moving for complete non-violent humanitarian intervention we should endorse the obscene underside of the law that is masked by this humanitarian fantasy and engage in a conflict of pure militarism, rather than decreasing hatred for the acknowledged political enemy we should push it to its breaking point.

It's HERE that we finally see how the ever infamous Zizek 1997 "traversing the fantasy" alt is given an explicit context since this situation fits it perfectly especially if you will remember how it says that "the lesson is not to disregard the explicit letter on behalf of the underlying fantasy but to stick to this letter AGAINST the fantasy which sustains it...."

 

So, granted my answer was a tad rambling but my point is traversing the fantasy, striking back against the self, choosing not to choose, or whatever is a fine alternative but you HAVE to give it an explicit context. These are not solutions merely tools to provide solutions. If you have a broken sink you don't pull out a wrench and yell "WRENCH!" and call it good. You can have a tool but its meaningless unless you can use it. Without this context, what the fuck does "traversing the fantasy" mean anyway?

 

* = There's also more in "Victims, Victims, Everywhere" both can be found in The Fragile Absolute

 

** = Look for his article "NATO as the Left hand of God" in one of the back issues of Umbr(a)

 

 

Comments? Opinions?

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Maybe you can clarify your argument about context. From what I gather, you're arguing that the context of paradoxes, in which military intervention is not only justified but encouraged. I can understand that, but I still don't understand you're interpretation of "traversing the fantasy," "choosing not to choose," ect. Are you arguing that your alternative is a paradox as well?

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No, sorry that was just an example, perhaps it got confusing. No what I was saying is that people like to refer to these things like "traversing the fantasy" etc. as though they are actual alternatives. But this isn't the case. When we look at those Zizek alternatives they aren't specific things or applications that have to be made. The Zizek in 1997 card (since it's easily the most famous) doesn't tell us what to do it provides us with a formula for how to do it. My argument about context is really one where I say that if we are to read this criticism against an affirmative when the other team asks us "What's the alternative?" the answer most teams give is that generic buzz phrase like "traversing the fantasy". But that is NOT the alternative, it is the formula for how the alternative works but it is not itself an alternative. So before anyone reads a Zizek criticism on the aff or the neg they MUST ask them selves "What does the aff/criticism do?" "Traverse the fantasy." "How?"

 

It's that "how?" that we have to answer, the answer to that question is what gives the formula a context. The answer to that question is what gives us the real alternative.

 

 

EDIT: A better way to think about it maybe that I just thought of. What the hell does traversing the fantasy mean? Do I just say "I'm going to traverse the fantasy! The fantasy is right here and I'm going to hop over it!"? No. You do something else TO traverse the fantasy, you try Bush in the ICC, you make the US invade all nations violating the geneva convention, you start a new racist campaign, you destroy that which is most precious to you, whatever. But you don't mount up on your horsey and go fantasy hurdling.

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No, sorry that was just an example, perhaps it got confusing. No what I was saying is that people like to refer to these things like "traversing the fantasy" etc. as though they are actual alternatives. But this isn't the case. When we look at those Zizek alternatives they aren't specific things or applications that have to be made. The Zizek in 1997 card (since it's easily the most famous) doesn't tell us what to do it provides us with a formula for how to do it. My argument about context is really one where I say that if we are to read this criticism against an affirmative when the other team asks us "What's the alternative?" the answer most teams give is that generic buzz phrase like "traversing the fantasy". But that is NOT the alternative, it is the formula for how the alternative works but it is not itself an alternative. So before anyone reads a Zizek criticism on the aff or the neg they MUST ask them selves "What does the aff/criticism do?" "Traverse the fantasy." "How?"

 

It's that "how?" that we have to answer, the answer to that question is what gives the formula a context. The answer to that question is what gives us the real alternative.

 

Hmm... tell me that I'm missing the point, because this answer may be very simplistic and generalizating, but...

 

Would the context not be the alternative? For example - sexist langauge. The alternative is normally rejection or erasure, but they're just tools - you use them in context of sexist language.

 

Maybe what you're getting at is that with Lacan advocacies like 'transversing the fantasy' is that people just say 'our alt is to transverse past the fantasy' - generally speaking, that would imply embracing the squo, etc.

 

I think that you're kinda conflating two things to be different that are really the same. The context will always be the act made in the debate round.

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Would the context not be the alternative? For example - sexist langauge. The alternative is normally rejection or erasure, but they're just tools - you use them in context of sexist language.

We have to consider what Zizek is as a position. It's not a rhetorical criticism (though of course all critiques engage language in one manner or another this one is not focused on the choice of a word or a kind of language), and it's also not a framework criticism. This is the mistake that I think alot of people make. The thing is Zizek is quite different from many other theorists that people use in debate rounds in that, despite some of his sometimes insane ramblings, he makes actual perscriptions.

 

Maybe what you're getting at is that with Lacan advocacies like 'transversing the fantasy' is that people just say 'our alt is to transverse past the fantasy' - generally speaking, that would imply embracing the squo, etc.

Traversing the fantasy has nothing to do with embracing the status quo, it's about coming in contact with the realization of a void or a failure in a defining principle with how we interpret our existence and our reality. Since fantasy always tries to make us follow a superego demand as well as provide a pleasing illusion to cover up something we don't want to know or come in contact with traversing the fantasy is about making it to that thing that is the object of this illusion, the thing that holds the whole understanding together.

 

I think that you're kinda conflating two things to be different that are really the same. The context will always be the act made in the debate round.

I don't think that I am, I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure on this. The act in the debate round centers on the advocacy. If the criticism is to attack the act that the affirmative gives as dangerous it is always because of what their advocacy is. Now since alot of advocacies are the same thing as what affirmatives are generally advocating, and since much of society operates based on that interpretation of reality we have to provide something else. That something else must be this alternative. But it's not simply enough to say we should think like this, because there is no explicit change, no particular reason why the two things cannot be coexistant. We have to provide a counter-advocacy. In all reality Zizek, as well as a handful of other criticisms, should (I think) be addressed and used almost as a "counterplan" so to speak only the agent is us and our action should be X as per X way of thinking.

 

 

Really what I'm trying to say is that Zizek is different in that we're not saying I should sever all connections to the self and make every action for the Other, that I should adopt a different form of schizophrenic amorphous being, or that I should just reject the affirmative because resistance to biopolitics important for whatever reason. The thing is psychoanalysis views the 1AC's conception of reality as an illness. Traversing the fantasy is the process by which the cure takes place but it itself is not the cure. When I talk about context earlier I'm saying you must explain what, in this context, that cure is.

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It seems you are saying that rather then just say with your alternative "we traverse the fantasy lol" We should have an advocacy that is a specific method of traversing the fantasy. Traversal of the fantasy is the method by which the alternative solves, not the alternative itself. So the alternative to a military aff would be an advocacy of complete military domination of the entire world under the united states and that allows us to traverse the fantasy <insert traversal evidence>.

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well how is that competitive? irony perm sovles - the 1ac was a traversal

Any perm is severance. The links generated for the criticism are based off of a discourse deeply imbedded in ideology (of whatever kind since the implications differ). In addition it also forces them to sever their framework. Framework severance is just as bad because much of our evidence may implicate the realist or capitalist dynamics of the 1ac. If the aff can sever both their framework and their rhetoric at anytime that leaves the negative with nothing. It not only justifies other abusive reclarifications in the 2ac but concievably justifies rewriting in the 2ar. And severence perms are pretty lame you would most likely lose the theory debate there unless you're just way up on severence good but alot of judges find the argument that a team that severs has to be punished "otherwise it creates a no cost burden for the affirmative by forcing the negative to have to go for theory just to get back to square one."

 

That and the irony perm is another link to the criticism like whoa.

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The argument regarding severance is interesting because severance doesn't mean that you can't provide the context for the alternative.

 

This whole idea of contextual alternatives really all depends on your link. You can read any 'traversing the fantasy' card (merely an example) and claim any kind of solvency based on the simple fact that there is a link. The problem I'm having, or missing, is the internal link between context and stregnth of alternative. Is the stregnth of your alternative determined by some kind of personal rejection of the 1ac along with the advocacy of the alternative?

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The argument regarding severance is interesting because severance doesn't mean that you can't provide the context for the alternative.

No, but obviously since the permutation is a test of competition to the extent that links and implications that are the locus of determining alternative contextuality can be severed out of with such a perm it does jack alot of neg ground.

 

This whole idea of contextual alternatives really all depends on your link. You can read any 'traversing the fantasy' card (merely an example) and claim any kind of solvency based on the simple fact that there is a link.

This is exactly my point, no you can't. When you provide an alternative text or whatever the thing that you defend must be more than just we traverse the fantasy you have to tell me what the hell it is that we would actually do. We all know how the cure can work but you have to tell us what the cure is before we can attack it or vote for it. It's ludicrous to claim any sort of solvency in any dimension of the debate if the team doesn't have an advocacy. Otherwise we remain in this position articulated by Zizek in his discussion about the fool and the knave crying 'The system oh the system doesn't it suck!?'

The problem I'm having, or missing, is the internal link between context and stregnth of alternative. Is the stregnth of your alternative determined by some kind of personal rejection of the 1ac along with the advocacy of the alternative?

The alternative is not always necessarily rejection as it may just be competative in the sense that it is impossible to do both. (not necessarily because of the links but like it's physically impossible much in the same sense that I can't simultaneously disband the military and have it do something). But regardless my point is you don't HAVE any alternative until you can give it a context/give it a shape/tell me what the fuck it is.

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No, but obviously since the permutation is a test of competition to the extent that links and implications that are the locus of determining alternative contextuality can be severed out of with such a perm it does jack alot of neg ground.

 

 

This is exactly my point, no you can't. When you provide an alternative text or whatever the thing that you defend must be more than just we traverse the fantasy you have to tell me what the hell it is that we would actually do. We all know how the cure can work but you have to tell us what the cure is before we can attack it or vote for it. It's ludicrous to claim any sort of solvency in any dimension of the debate if the team doesn't have an advocacy. Otherwise we remain in this position articulated by Zizek in his discussion about the fool and the knave crying 'The system oh the system doesn't it suck!?'

 

The alternative is not always necessarily rejection as it may just be competative in the sense that it is impossible to do both. (not necessarily because of the links but like it's physically impossible much in the same sense that I can't simultaneously disband the military and have it do something). But regardless my point is you don't HAVE any alternative until you can give it a context/give it a shape/tell me what the fuck it is.

 

Thats all fine, but what do you mean when you say 'you don't have an alternative until you can give it context." If what you're saying about the link is true all it does is establish the ground for the alternative. I want to know how your alternative functions as per each person in the room. Does the judge vote for the status quo simply as a rejection of the affirmative? Or does the judge vote to change some kind of ideology by way of personal advocacy. Thats really all I care about right now.

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Thats all fine, but what do you mean when you say 'you don't have an alternative until you can give it context." If what you're saying about the link is true all it does is establish the ground for the alternative. I want to know how your alternative functions as per each person in the room. Does the judge vote for the status quo simply as a rejection of the affirmative? Or does the judge vote to change some kind of ideology by way of personal advocacy. Thats really all I care about right now.

Depends upon the round but in general it seems that the alternative serves as a counter-advocacy for the negative. The way the alternative is shaped and articulated may be based upon the link, but it is not entirely dependent upon it. Our alternative advacacy against a military case might be to bring everyone into the military and massacre all non-americans allowing us to overidentify and traverse the fantasy which we would read as alternative solvency. Its an advocacy, not simple rejection.

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Any perm is severance. The links generated for the criticism are based off of a discourse deeply imbedded in ideology (of whatever kind since the implications differ). In addition it also forces them to sever their framework. Framework severance is just as bad because much of our evidence may implicate the realist or capitalist dynamics of the 1ac. If the aff can sever both their framework and their rhetoric at anytime that leaves the negative with nothing. It not only justifies other abusive reclarifications in the 2ac but concievably justifies rewriting in the 2ar. And severence perms are pretty lame you would most likely lose the theory debate there unless you're just way up on severence good but alot of judges find the argument that a team that severs has to be punished "otherwise it creates a no cost burden for the affirmative by forcing the negative to have to go for theory just to get back to square one."

 

That and the irony perm is another link to the criticism like whoa.

i understand that you're critiquing the aff, but on the face of it the plan and alt text are the same (or have similar goals) in letter - except the spirit of alt is the opposite of the aff.

 

If you judge plan and alt text in a vacuum it's permutable

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Guest Unconditional Fiat

 

Traversing the fantasy has nothing to do with embracing the status quo, it's about coming in contact with the realization of a void or a failure in a defining principle with how we interpret our existence and our reality. Since fantasy always tries to make us follow a superego demand as well as provide a pleasing illusion to cover up something we don't want to know or come in contact with traversing the fantasy is about making it to that thing that is the object of this illusion, the thing that holds the whole understanding together.

 

 

 

Hey dumbass, re-read lacan and get back on the short bus. Zizeks alternative does come in contact, but he says we can get there by doing nothing. in his 06 book, zizek clearly defines his alternative as accepting the third choice of 2 options. When we are faced with the choices of action or complicity we should say "i'd rather not". That is how we redefine the social cordinates in which we can launch a strike at Capital which allows us to maintain a form of revolutionary ethical value that allows us to embrace the Real.

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i understand that you're critiquing the aff, but on the face of it the plan and alt text are the same (or have similar goals) in letter - except the spirit of alt is the opposite of the aff.

If you judge plan and alt text in a vacuum it's permutable

Perhaps in some cases but in all cases it's abusive due to the f/w shift and the link spikes that the aff has to go through to make the perm possible. The abuse story would still stand.

 

Hey dumbass, re-read lacan and get back on the short bus. Zizeks alternative does come in contact, but he says we can get there by doing nothing. in his 06 book, zizek clearly defines his alternative as accepting the third choice of 2 options. When we are faced with the choices of action or complicity we should say "i'd rather not". That is how we redefine the social cordinates in which we can launch a strike at Capital which allows us to maintain a form of revolutionary ethical value that allows us to embrace the Real.

There's more to Zizek and ALOT more to Lacan than just a discussion about capital. In the sense of capital there can be a chance of exposure, since Zizek claims that capitalism makes the idea of constant change a part of itself, however, simply doing nothing is not necessarily an alternative in terms of Zizek or in terms of capital. Zizek, often times in reference to Badiou, does say from time to time that when certain actions become problematic in terms of their role with capital that it is better to do nothing than to risk making the machine run more smoothly (he's talking about reform here). However, in every instance that I have read Zizek does NOT say that doing nothing is the alternative but rather that it clears the space that makes the passage à l'acte possible. I could be wrong but that is how I have always read it. I have also never seen this particular statement made by Zizek in any discussion that did not regard the ideology of capital. There are many more facets to both Zizek and Lacan than just capital. If you could please remain civil rather than go to petty name calling I, and I think the forum, would appreciate it. There are plenty of other flamewars on cross-x as is.

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