The Difficult Middle

Donald Callen

I. Organs Without Bodies

[1] In The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis Lacan argues that there is a dilemma of justified paranoia which is fundamental to the human subject (at least the modern human subject, that is). Each of us must avoid two positions, either of which means we lose our identity, suffer a symbolic death. On the one hand there is the choice made by Polyneices to oppose the symbolic order, to stand outside its rules and operations, the penalty for which is Creon's order that his name shall find no recognition or remembrance within the city. It does not matter that Polyneices lies dead outside the city walls. Exile would serve the same symbolic purpose. Associating herself with the recognition of Polyneices if not with his rebellion, Antigone suffers the same fate, despite her willingness to reason with Creon. Creon is not of a mind to be reasonable, however. He is governed by symbolic prestige and "reasons" with Antigone only so far as he hopes to be able to bring her around to his view and avoid the messy consequences of punishing a rebel. Alternatively, one loses one's identity by allowing one's actions to be determined by the symbolic order. One becomes a mere functionary, a replaceable gear in the representations and machinations of the symbolic. So far as identity is concerned, it doesn't matter whether the despotism to which one lends oneself is benevolent or pernicious. One true servant of God is as good as another so long as God's good work gets done. What is the lesson of the dilemma? It depends on the good at stake. If it is simply one's own good that is considered, Lacan argues that one must learn to divide oneself, to lend a limb or member to the projects of the symbolic order while devising a secret affair, a project (with some others) in which one can find an authentic joy and confirmation of self (FFC, Seminar II, sessions on Poe's "The Purloined Letter," revised and amplified later for écrits). The humane purpose of psychoanalysis is thus, for Lacan, to help a person come to see a way of occupying this difficult middle, to see a potential in what one's situation makes possible projected within but not primarily according to what the symbolic ordains. In this way one may both evade symbolic death and be true to one's desire. Antigone is sublimely beautiful but her self-sacrifice is not to be held up as an example (Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis). Thus, Lacan effectively separates himself from the Sartrean view that authentic freedom demands that one recreate the world in one's own terms, assume the burden of being God, even if suicide is the way one accomplishes this ( Essays in Existentialism, Part I). The problem with this compromise solution to the dilemma is nicely told by Slavoj Žižek in an interview with Peter Canning. It concerns the political good, the good that lies outside of what one can manage within the cracks of the symbolic order.

In Czechoslovakia the big opposition, for example, was Milan Kundera versus Vaclav Havel. Kundera was perceived as having this cynical antistate (sic) disposition--for him, the privacy that was left you by the communist regime was the basis for opposition. Havel, of course, was the opposite. In one of his most famous stories, he takes a very Althusserian example, that of a small-time boss who owns a little grocery. Privately this character always speaks against the regime, but on the 1st of May he decorates his shop with the communist slogans. To put it in Althusserian terms, he obeys the ritual, the practices. Havel's whole point was that private disobedience coupled with public obedience is precisely the way the system functioned--that there is not only nothing subversive in this Kundera-like private space, but that the ideal subject of real socialism was precisely the one who did not believe in the system, who had this distance built in. So the truly heroic thing to do was not to tell dirty stories, but to publicly do some small thing that perturbed the ritual. (Artforum interview with Peter Canning)

[2] In the Preface to his Organs Without Bodies, Žižek warns that his book seeks out an encounter with Deleuze as opposed to a critical debate. "Encounter" is later in the book said to mean what Deleuze himself famously said about his encounters with the works of other philosophers. The idea is that one reads the work thoroughly but then through a kind of intellectual buggery makes the borrowed concepts give birth to a new form of life, something that would no doubt be seen as something of a monster by the victim of the attack. Making Deleuze's concepts give birth to a Lacanian and Hegelian monster is the idea here (Organs Without Bodies, 48-9). As we shall see, this amounts practically to making him a Leninist. All for the better, thinks Žižek.

[3] What, now, does the figure of "organs without bodies" come to? What is the nature of Žižek's encounter with Deleuze? While Žižek insists that his books may be read like CD-ROMs, it is a mistake to read him simply for his dazzling apercus. There is a systematic theoretical point of view that sustains a pattern of themes, questions and criticisms in his writing, albeit one that is sometimes difficult to pin down and one that requires careful readerly reconstruction. The first thing to note is his commitment to bringing German Idealism and specifically Hegel to bear on interpreting our historical moment. What this means specifically is his search for a way to articulate the possibilities of aufhebung, that negation of the negation, an overcoming that preserves the truth of what is nevertheless surpassed. The aufhebung is what attests to the further realization of freedom in the historical subject. Keeping this in mind, we can understand a number of the critical moves that Žižek makes in the direction of several leftist philosophers and culture theorists whom, he thinks, have failed to think through adequately the difficulties of the contemporary dialectical moment and whose strategies for aufhebung, in his view, simply won't do. Inasmuch as Deleuze (the Deleuze of Deleuze-and-Guattari) is the intellectual inspiration for a range of theoretical and practical strategies for challenging the inhuman rigors of the globalization of capitalism and liberal democracy, it turns out that his failures to adequately conceptualize the possibilities of liberation are in many respects the failures of contemporary leftist politics generally ("Soft Revolutions," Critical Theory). Of course for Žižek, one can only think through the possibilities for liberation by analyzing rightly the current nature of capital and the significance of state apparatuses for the problem (without, however, supposing that states are dispensable). Hegel must be read through Marx and Marx through Hegel.

For Žižek, attempting to marry Hegel and Lacan, there are, however, two distinct phases to revolution.

[4] The first episode in Žižek's encounter with Deleuze I want to discuss is the encounter with Deleuze the film theorist. There is a Platonic reading of the dialectic in history that Žižek wants us to set aside as mistaken. On this reading, history may be compared to the artist struggling to get a picture which is a perfect embodiment of the Idea, the Form. Countless versions are discarded, but gradually, the visible object begins to approach, to make real, that which was first but vaguely glimpsed in the mind's eye. We are to reject this Platonic reading of Hegel because it implausibly requires us to posit the Idea as existing as a pure potentiality at the very beginning of things, as pure being-in-itself having the destiny of becoming in history for-itself through the work of consciousness (Tarrying With The Negative). This mistake is not unlike the one that Žižek takes Hitchcock's Scottie to be making in his recreation of Judy according to the ideal image of Madeleine (Vertigo). We appear to have a three-term relation: Scottie's subjective consciousness, an objective Judy, and the ideal Madeleine whose negative is not Judy, but Judy as amorphous material, in motion as the projection of the abyssal vanishing point of Scottie's vertigo. What if the vertigo of falling into the abyss and the vertigo of the fantasy of embracing a transcendent ideal are the same? If the Platonic transcendent ideal did not exist, they would be identical. But then the first vertigo would simply be the artifact of the fantasy of the ideal. What are we doing when we imagine a transcendent ideal? Backing up, this begins when we find that we have a problem. Brought down to earth, made immanent, the projection of transcendence is simply the sign or symptom of a problem to be solved. The problem generates a gap in our normal passage from perception to action. Here we are in the space of Deleuze's film theory, specifically the place where a movement-image becomes a time-image (Cinema I and II).

Hitchcock occupies a key place in Deleuze's cinema theory, that of the intermediary figure in the passage from movement-image to time-image. At a certain historical point, the subject is excessively overwhelmed by the shock of the Real; this intrusion of the Real disturbs the unity of action/reaction, the subject's direct insertion into a reality in which he can simply (re)act as an engaged agent. Overwhelmed by the Real, the subject is transformed into a powerless spectator of himself and his world. So, as Deleuze emphasizes, it is not enough to claim that, in modern cinema, the spectator is drawn into the action, turning into one of the agents: this feature is doubled by a more fundamental one, that of turning the agents themselves (screen personae, actors) into spectators of their own acts (Organs without Bodies, 151; see also 64-5).

Žižek describes a scene in Vertigo which represents this eruption of the time-image into cinema. It is the scene where Scottie is sitting at the bar in Ernie's when he first sees Madeleine from the back, at a table, then rising and coming toward him, as she and Elster prepare to leave the restaurant. Interpreted as a movement-image, as most critics read it, the way to analyze the sequence is in terms of a series of shots and counter-shots. First we see Scottie at the bar, establishing the point of view as his. Then we see what he sees. This is followed by a shot of his reaction, how he acts in response to what he has seen. Then follows a further shot of what he perceives, and so on. This is the basic structure of a film in which the movement-image structures the montage. Žižek points out, by way of confirming Deleuze's thesis about Hitchcock, that this analysis of the scene is mistaken. This can be demonstrated by the fact that interposed in this sequence are shots of Madeleine which couldn't possibly be taken to be straightforward perceptions of her from Scottie's point of view (or that of any other character's, for that matter). The shot of Madeleine looming above him in dazzling splendor comes from a different place, identifiable with the eye of the camera, notably an organ without a body (Organs Without Bodies, 152-4). What are we to make of this strange shot?

[5] For Deleuze, this indicates the introduction of a new kind of cinematic image. In films structured by the movement-image, roughly speaking the paradigm for American cinema from Griffiths to Hitchcock, time is represented only indirectly through the treatment of the action image, the perception-action-perception cycle described above. In sequences such as the one here identified in Vertigo, there is an arrest in movement which amounts to the eye of the camera focusing on an object in such a way as to suggest something about a thought about the sense (or senselessness) of what is seen and what is being done. The disembodied eye of the camera represents an organ of thought. Moreover, thought may be said here to be reflecting in one way or another on the time of life, the time of existence, of the world, etc. (Why? I take it because in the philosophical tradition to which Deleuze belongs originary time gets its sense or meaning from the perspective of possibilities, not objective or clock time. Heidegger's Being and Time is one benchmark here; Bergson's critique of linear time is another, but sees Levinas's critical reconstruction of the concept of originary time in God, Time and Immortality.) There is, here then, an evolution of a new organ in cinema, an eye not identified with the eye of a character, and the evolution of a new organ is the evolution of a solution to a problem.

[6] Now what does this have to do with bringing the projection of a transcendent ideal down to earth? Nietzsche turns Plato on his head. The possibilities of overcoming are immanent to the world of sensible appearances, and to go over, one must go under, beneath the life-denying forms of good and evil which are the measure of normal everyday existence. The time-image is a shot of what lies beneath, the hidden meaning which is lost in the méconaissance of the perception-action-perception cycle. Late in the second volume of Cinema, Deleuze identifies the goal of his genealogy of film, to expose in the history of film, within its very image making, the potentiality for making film images which give us a world in which we can believe again (Cinema II, "The Crystal Image"). This can't happen by comparing our situation to some ideal model. We will not restore sense to the world by viewing it from the perspective of some fantasy of a future utopia. It will only be by developing the potentialities of the actual, moving perhaps in discontinuous leaps through the virtual images of history's planes, that the crystalline image of time will illuminate the world.

[7] What is the significance of the Deleuzian time-image for Žižek? He makes it into the Lacanian gaze, the fixation of a disembodied eye in which the truth of unconscious desire is manifested. It is the point of view of Scottie's subjectivity, not his subjectivation (the normal perspective of the perception-action-perception cycle). The gaze is the vertiginous moment of fantasy, idealizing and abyssal. Its (hidden) truth, however, is a problem with desire, a paranoiac problem and a truth that can be expressed initially in a "disembodied" way, through an organ of desire that has broken off from the subjectivized body. This is certainly an inventive construal of Deleuze's time-image. Now let's introduce this conception of the gaze into the paranoiac dilemma, transported this time to the problem of alienation and the search for aufhebung. There is something to be gained from interpreting the alienation of work within capitalism in terms of the paranoiac dilemma. Under the domination of capital, identity, symbolic recognition, is normally tied to putting one's labor out for hire. It is to submit to the determination of one's actions by the ramifications of a rule by capital whose "absolute" imperative is profit. Clearly, the alternative is not merely symbolic death. The "game" of capital is presented in one light, as one anyone might win by playing the game well, while the truth of the game and the meaning of one's actions are very different than one supposes. There is systematic méconaissance. Where in the situation thus described is the possibility for aufhebung? What sense can we give to preferring a "Havel" to a "Kundera" response to the situation? What in this context is the way to introduce the gaze? Where is this vertiginous fantasy/nightmare of deliverance to be located?

[8] Applying Lacan (through Deleuze) to Hegel, we get Žižek's answer as to the locus of the originary force in history of the Hegelian axiom of freedom. The part object, the organ without a body, represented cinematically in the time-image, is that which

resists its inclusion within the Whole of a body. This object, which is the correlate of the subject, is the subject's stand-in within the order of objectivity. It is the proverbial "piece of flesh," the part of the subject that the subject had to renounce to subjectivize itself, to emerge as subject. Was this not what Marx was aiming at when he wrote about the rise of the class consciousness of the proletariat? Does this also not mean that the commodity "working force," which, on the market, is reduced to an object to be exchanged, starts to speak? (Žižek's emphasis; Organs Without Bodies, 175-6)

This originary resistance is identified with the death drive and is freedom "at its most elementary." It is "the military instrument of freedom itself" and "we do not just fight for (our understanding of) freedom, we do not just serve freedom, it is freedom that immediately avails itself of us." (Organs Without Bodies, ibid.)

The way seems open to terror: who would be allowed to oppose freedom itself? However, the identification of a revolutionary military unit as a direct organ of freedom cannot simply be dismissed as a fetishistic short circuit: in a pathetic way, this is true of the authentic revolutionary explosion. What happens in such an "ecstatic" experience is that the subject who acts is no longer a person but, precisely, an object. (BWO, ibid.)

[9] What do these reconstructed Freudian concepts mean when viewed through a Lacanian lens? Žižek closes his discussion of "the consequences" of Deleuzian film theory with a reading of the recent film version of Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Our cynical Kundera figure is Fowler, the English correspondent for the Times in Saigon, 1952. In love with a Vietnamese woman, Phuong, whom he wants but is unable to marry, he wants nothing more than to maintain his live-in relationship with her, though she wants to marry and return to Britain with him. Pyle, apparently in Vietnam on a medical aid mission, is, it seems, a nice, unassuming and idealistic young American. The truth is that he is in Vietnam to "fight communism" by engineering brutal mass killings which are painted as being the work of communists. Pyle falls in love with Phuong and offers to marry her. Having discovered Pyle's true reason for being in Vietnam, Fowler is given the opportunity to restore his relationship with Phuong simply by inviting Pyle to dine with him at a restaurant, where Pyle will be quietly killed by communist agents. Fowler decides to make the invitation, thereby delivering Pyle to his killers. Žižek reads the film as the triumph of the political over the ethical. Privately, everything about Fowler's choice seems wrong. Though disgusted with Pyle's actions, Fowler's primary motive for inviting Pyle to dinner is to beat him in the contest for Phuong's affections. He makes himself complicit in murder. He does the politically right thing for the wrong reasons and we have an apparently doubly happy ending. Fowler gets the girl and Pyle's reign of terror is brought to an end, or at least seriously interrupted. The film, however, misses its true chance, Žižek argues. What the story presents is "the properly Kierkegaardian dilemma of its hero." The hero should have seen his situation as one in which the ethical is the temptation to be avoided. He "should have been disturbed by the terrifying prospect of "doing the right deed for the wrong reason," that is, of profiting from the denunciation of the American and thus opening up the suspicion that his difficult politicoethical (sic) decision was grounded in private motives." (BWO, 181-2) The ethical temptation would be to refuse to take part in the plot, precisely because his motives for doing so would forever be suspect. The right thing in the situation, however, is that the political should prevail, irrespective of what ethics would require, that is, a refusal to take part in the killing. This, Žižek claims, would be a case of a Kierkegaardian teleological suspension of the ethical (see Fear and Trembling).

[10] At first glance it is difficult to establish the continuity between this interpretation and the interpretation of Vertigo that opens the discussion of the time-image. What do Scottie's vertigo and Fowler's disgust with Pyle have in common? Both are abrupt arrests in the normal perception-action-perception cycle that constitutes the everyday pattern of subjectivation. Scottie's doubly directed vertigo attests to a desire for an other, another desire than what he has tightly constructed around his sense of himself as a (now defunct) detective. This other desire manifests itself first in a way that he is able to assimilate to his familiar persona of the protector, but now sexualized with a force that is first latently then overtly brutal when he desperately tries to make Judy over into his lost Madeleine. In Fowler's case, his cynical complacency is shattered by his disgust at seeing Pyle's monstrous face. At this point, it is difficult to carry through the comparison on the level at which Žižek presents the case, as a deliberative choice between the political and the ethical. Wouldn't it be better to bring Fowler's case closer to Scottie's by seeing Fowler's disgust as a visceral revulsion that latches unthinkingly to a possibility for action that the occasion presents? There is no deliberative reach for a synthetic whole (Hegel) answered by a Kierkegaardian withdrawal to a leap of faith. There is no beautiful Madeleine to intimate a transcendent unity of subject and object and provide a cover of fantasy for the truth of desire. Instead, revulsion simply, mechanically, reaches for a possibility of expressing itself. Fowler could not have imagined, with the minimal realism that even fantasy requires, that his action might be doubly happy. The Hegelian owl of Minerva flies only at sundown, only after-the-fact. Only then, is reflection able to take stock of the meaning of acts and events. This is the inevitable pathos of revolutionary explosion that Žižek rightly identifies. Yes, perhaps freedom is active in desire's revulsion to its subjectivation. Yes, the specter of terror is here as well (Phenomenology). But can such a reason, arriving so late on the scene, be credited with transforming a blind revolt into an aufhebung whose meaning is a moment of liberation? It seems merely good fortune if things turn out well. Yet that is just what the second negation means. The reflective appropriation of contingency is the agency of reason in history. History is not rationally deterministic (a point Žižek stresses; see TWTN). Original revulsion must be added to the retrospective interpretation of reason making use of the Idea of freedom, for liberation to become manifest. Hegel's speculative reason is prospectively ineffective. It is effective only retrospectively. But that means there is a huge gap between the original revulsion to subjectivation and effective revolution. Hence the need for something like Kierkegaard's leap of faith.

[11] How have we advanced in dealing with the paranoiac dilemma? Fowler's position initially seems a perfect mapping of Kundera's "cynical anti-state" attitude. However, the action which springs from his revulsion seems very different from the Havel-like "doing a little something to perturb the system." A dinner invitation, a betrayal, a killing, a revolution, liberation: such appears to be the idealized sequence which constructs the meaning of Fowler's action. How big, how important, is it? How do we measure revolutionary potential or significance? And let there be no mistake, we are now contemplating the thing that Lacan warns against, namely cutting off the head of the king.

II. How many brains does it take to make a revolutionary body?

[12] The second episode in Žižek's encounter with Deleuze I want to examine is the one which bears upon the appropriation of Deleuze to the interpretation of the contemporary moment. This forms the concluding section of Organs Without Bodies, and it concerns this very issue of the addition needed to make a revolution. What is the mathematics, as it were, of the addition by which, against subjectivation by the many manifestations of the symbolic order, the revolt of one, of a few, of many, of enough brings about revolution? To appeal to another Hegelian principle, does a sufficient increase in quantity imply a change in quality? Žižek is critical of what he calls "left-wing intellectuals" who suppose that revolutionary effects can be constructed from multiple local forms of intervention and resistance. That is, he is critical of the models of political resistance that are taken variously from Foucault, Derrida, Negri, and Deleuze-Guattari , among others, which seem to assume that a multitude of different instances and types of resistance might add up to a general liberation. He is all the more critical of these intellectuals insofar as they have been influential in contemporary resistance movements, summarily identified as a resistance to globalization. The Deleuze of Deleuze-Guattari is not the least among those influential intellectuals. Žižek writes,

There are, effectively, features that justify calling Deleuze the ideologist of late capitalism. Is the much celebrated Spinozan imitatio afecti, the impersonal circulation of affects bypassing persons, not the very logic of publicity, of video clips, and so forth in which what matters is not the message about the product but the intensity of the transmitted affects and perceptions? Furthermore, recall again the hard-core pornography scenes in which the very unity of the bodily self-experience is magically dissolved, so that the spectator perceives the bodies as a kind of vaguely coordinated agglomerate of partial objects. Is this logic in which we are no longer dealing with persons interacting but just with the multiplicity of intensities, of places of enjoyment, plus bodies as a collective/impersonal desiring machine not eminently Deleuzian? (Organs Without Bodies, 183-4)

[13] Capital is the dominant concrete universal of our time, says Žižek. "While it remains a particular formation, it overdetermines all alternative formations, as well as all noneconomic strata of social life." (Ibid, 185) He disputes the Hardt-Negri formula that says that there is such a defusion of power within global capitalism that there is no longer a power to defeat but only a multitude of local centers of power subject to displacement by local and diverse resistances. According to Žižek, the historic confrontation of labor and capital does not reduce to a multitude of resistances raised against a multitude of local centers of power. Moreover, it is important to be suspicious of the argument that we live under a new form of capitalism, one in which the fundamental position of the proletariat subjectivized by capital has been replaced by the multitude of those occupied directly with the production of social relations, what we normally call a service economy. The argument is meant to show how close late capitalism is to the possibility of liberation in that, freed from the crushing weight and brutal forms of labor in industrial capitalism, the necessary task is the socialization of the production of social relations. Readily, it seems, contemporary forms of subjectivation concerning race and gender can be more easily accommodated within a unified understanding of the work of liberation when we understand this fundamental change in capitalism itself. However, the globalization of capitalism reveals how narrow is this conception of contemporary capital which depends in a rapidly escalating scale upon "outsourcing" production of basic commodities to places where the brutalities of industrial capitalism are very much alive. Those who occupy the middle in an economy where services seem to predominate do so on the backs of a mass of workers who labor under conditions very much as deplorable as those of early industrial capitalism ("The Ongoing 'Soft Revolution'").

[14] Revolution is not the sort of thing that can be strategized in advance, Žižek argues. It is triggered by an upsurge of desire that revolts, spontaneously, against the big Other, against the structures of subjectivation. Consequently, it very likely will involve a large dimension of violence and terror in which ethical considerations play no part. In revolution this violence drives toward the destruction of the old regime, the representatives and representations of domination — the death drive in its purely political form. There must follow a second phase, the second negation in which there will be a reinvention of the social order. Žižek analyzes the historical sequence of the Russian revolution of 1917 in these terms, and argues that this reinvention extended well into the period of Stalinism, a movement that, despite its monstrous evils, was much more ambiguous than what it is normally painted out to be when it is assimilated to fascism without further ado (a notable failure of The Frankfurt School, Žižek thinks). However, the ultimate proposition of the book appears to be to the effect that what revolution would require in our time would be something on the order of Mao's cultural revolution involving a quasi-carnivalesque orgy of reversals in which intellectuals would be made to know the rigors of hard labor. Unlike the return of the customary order of things which marks the end of carnival, a genuine revolution would require that this cultural revolution be maintained as a permanent part of the new social order. This may require the strong-armed leadership of an Ivan the Terrible, a Lenin, a Mao or even a Stalin, someone who is politically savvy and for whom the ethical is secondary. This is the reality of revolution (Organs Without Bodies, 203-13).

[15] Now there is no doubt a good deal of provocation in this last argument, and it is not entirely perverse. (One sometimes feels that Žižek indulges in perverse provocation with little "socially redeeming value." There is in this book, for example, a lengthy vivid description of a scene in a pornographic film. The point of the example is to illustrate the mechanical quality of the drive of part-objects but the whole section shows Žižek trying his hardest to be spectacularly politically incorrect. (Organs Without Bodies, 172-3)) There is rhetorical justice in yoking left-wing intellectuals with a cultural revolution in order to remind them of the extent of contemporary capitalism's miseries which their theories neglect. However, the Hegelian second negation, the moment of liberation/aufhebung, depends upon the reflection which recognizes the liberating meaning of what has been made of the initial terror and violence of revolt. The intellect completes the manifestation of being-in-and-for-itself, so as with Hegel and Plato before him, we will need at least one brain to express the truth of the coming of the absolute, or more modestly, an aufhebung. Evidently Žižek will be saved from the lowly fate to be endured by every other intellectual. Perhaps more seriously, Žižek's final uncertainty about how to revolt, expressed ironically in reminding us about real revolution, sounds the right note for a theory that would maintain its Hegelian credentials regarding the strategic weakness of prophetic reason as well as take steps against fascination with a transcendent whole so as to make room for "an organ without a body," an aufhebung that "tarries with the negative." It also resonates with Deleuze's view that we must endlessly defer truth for the sake of inventing a bit of sense (The Logic of Sense).

[16] That said, the argument is ultimately unsatisfying in a fundamental way. It is clear that Žižek wants us to think of Lenin as a kind of Kierkegaardian Abraham, taking a leap of faith in which the ethical is suspended for a greater good, albeit one that reason is unable to demonstrate as realizable or even very likely. The logic here reminds one of Sartre's conception of the way in which meaning is created in a world that itself is without meaning. One throws oneself into a project and it is only in the effective working out of the project that meaning is created as an effect of the realized end which confers value on the prior actions. What justifies the leap of faith is never given in advance but only afterwards through the fact of what is accomplished. This is the way defenders of American policy in Iraq hope to justify the war given the failure of the prospective justification made in terms of weapons of mass destruction. The example is telling because it shows what is wrong with Žižek's argument. Spontaneous revolt against subjectivation is one thing, but a knowing leap of faith in which sustaining the violence is the vehicle of the hoped for new order of meaning yet in the absence of a plausible strategy for probable success is something we should find abhorrent. We should find it abhorrent ethically but also politically. The political can't be cut off from the ethical in our normative thinking without a fundamental disregard for justice. This is the age-old objection to the principle of expediency, "the ends justify the means," a notion which gets a new, richer, but equally dubious sense when read through the Hegel-Žižek lens. If God does not exist, the truth is that the leap of faith amounts to little more than the hope of being lucky. It's a crapshoot with stakes that are enormous when present justice and not merely some future liberation is involved. Can the same criticism be made of Deleuze, reading backwards through Žižek's argument?

[17] It is true that Deleuze embraces the Kierkegaardian leap of faith as an agent of restoring sense to the world (for example, Cinema II: The Time-Image, "The Crystal Image"). However, it is also true that Deleuze-Guattari adamantly reject the focus on the goal to the exclusion of care about the becoming of things (a pervasive theme in A Thousand Plateaus). This betokens a very non-Hegelian view about what gives sense to things, a view that assimilates Deleuze to Derrida and deconstruction (Žižek's constant whipping boy!) rather than Hegel. What does it mean to defer truth for the sake of sense or meaning? It is precisely a matter of resisting the focus on the idea of an end as the source of the meaning of what comes between. It is différance as endless deferral of truth for the sake of letting meaning grow from the local field of the performative work of interpretation. In Deleuze it is a matter of exploring the potentialities and releasing the power of the virtual in the contiguous but discontinuous sheets of history (which recalls Derrida's notion of the trace). In this non-Hegelian, post-structuralist context, the Kierkegaardian leap of faith gets a different meaning. It is no longer the leap across an abyss with an eye focused on getting to the other side. It is more like looking for stepping-stones, not knowing if or where one might find firm ground. The trajectory, constantly being re-made, is what gives meaning, not a goal that would signify victory, and taking care is the support for the accomplishment of performance.

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Sartre, Jean-Paul. Essays in Existentialism. Carol Publishing Corporation, 1993.

Žižek, Slavoj. Tarrying With the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology. Duke University Press, 1993.

—. The Sublime Object of Ideology. Verso, 1989.

—. Organs Without Bodies: On Deleuze and Consequences. Routledge, 2003.

—. "The Ongoing 'Soft Revolution,'" Critical Inquiry, Winter 2004, Volume 30:2.

—. "The Sublime Theorist of Slovenia: Interview with Peter Canning, Artforum: «

For additional thoughts about Žižek, please see David Bordwell's "Slavoj Žižek: Say Anything."