Winter Waxing Cold Moon
The decompression has begun. My suitcase awaits only my dopp kit to be ready to go. A shower, final packing and I’ll be ready. Ready, that is, to drop off the rental car before noon then spend three hours at the Denver Airport before my 3:00 pm flight back to the Twin Cities. When I arrrive around 5:45, I’ll still have one more leg to go: Super Shuttle, in a ride on which I will be the last one delivered home. All in all it will probably be between 7 and 8 hours before I get home after leaving the hotel.
I’m reading a book called Stealing the Mona Lisa, discussing it comes next, at a gathering of docents, dining at the Namaste Restaurant. I would describe it as a difficult book, written by a psychoanalyst for whom style seems an afterthought and clarity a bother. Having said that though, it is a profound book, digging deep into the meaning of art and, surprisingly, into the meaning of art’s absence.
Why I mention it this morning is an aha from the section I read over breakfast. In describing psychoanalytical attitudes toward drives the author, Darian Leader, makes clear that sublimation is NOT a replacement for the act of sex, fucking as he so baldly puts it, rather it is an expression of the individuals need to fulfill the same desire as sex fulfills, that is, in Freudian terms, a return to the pleasure of direct bodily manipulation, pleasures lost as we adapt to cultural definitions of who and what we are.
Also, and most interesting to me, for Lacan, drives are an attempt to get to the state Freud describes as pleasuring the body, but Lacan describes as The Thing, a vast emptiness that exists just outside our capacity to reach. Therefore our drives are attempts not to fill this emptiness, but to reach it, to find it, to discover what was lost when we became creatures of culture.
Lacan’s emphasis on emptiness as the defining state for our humanness, and as a state forever beyond our reach, yet felt and desired in every moment, struck me as a link to both existentialism on the one hand and Taoism on the other.
In existentialism we admit the reality of this emptiness, admit it’s definition of life as meaningless, then proceed to construct our life both in spite of and because of this emptiness.
In Taoism, we recognize the creation of the universe to have come from emptiness, the Tao, and we also recognize it as a vivifying impulse behind each moment. It may be that Lacan’s more tortured and dark view of emptiness as The Thing exactly misses Taoism’s great point about emptiness as the very reason for a door, a cup, a vase.
There is, too, one other important thread that I don’t find so far in the book and that the is the realm of rationalist philosophy. In this idea we construct our reality through sensory data, but our sensory data is not reality in the same way that a map is not the territory. This means, according to Kant, that we can never know reality, the ding an siche, the thing-in-itself. Sounds pretty Lacanian to me.