Black Mirror: from Lacan’s lathouse to Miller’s speaking body

This paper mobilizes the concepts of the lathouse and the alethosphere and re-examines them in light of Jacques-Alain Miller’s clinical developments of the later Lacan and the new symptoms as described by his clinic of the Speaking Body. As predicted by Lacan in the 1960’s, thanks to the allegiance between science and capitalism, technology is beginning to dramatically change the social bond. However, the lathouse as briefly alluded to in Seminar XVII, was a curious object that existed on the boundary between discovery and invention; not quite the Other and not quite being, as Lacan put it. My intention is to examine the status of Artificial Intelligence as precisely this ambiguous object that disrupts the social bond and which I will argue has greater significance than merely as an object a in Capitalist discourse. I will take recourse to an analysis of Charlie Brooker’s Sci-Fi series Black Mirror in order to stage the psychoanalytic questions posed by Artificial Intelligence and thus open up the conceptual possibilities inherent in Lacan’s nascent ideas.

Contemporary Subjectivity: A Psychoanalytical Analysis of Postmodernity and its Symptoms

In this article the author explores the possibility of a structural link between several cultural changes in contemporary society, better known as the very idea of a postmodern culture, and a significant change in clinical practice. Since the crisis of 1968, which was in essence a revolt against paternal authority, and since Lyotard wrote his La condition postmoderne (Lyotard, 1979) it is incontestable that western culture has been marked by a structural shift. As post-political, liberal subjects we are perceived as being free, detached from the obstacles of our primal identifications with our parents, country or socio-economic class. Nowadays, we are free-floating subjects in a decentralised universe trying to transgress the symbolic law and to achieve the ultimate object of desire. But it is quite paradoxical that this extreme liberalism finds its counterpart in both the explosive violence of the real and the massive pressure of the imaginary order. The main aim of this article is a psychoanalytical exploration of a possible structural connection between those two orders.

Violence and Discourse

Using Lacan’s notion of capitalist discourse, the author provides support for the comprehension of actual discontent in our civilisation, for the “new symptoms” and for new forms of violence. Capitalist discourse substitutes the normative function of the law with the ideology of liberty. But the liberated man is isolated and his freedom is deceptive: he is increasingly dependant on the consumption of objects that provide him with a plus-de-jouir. A purely capitalist discourse is nothing but an ultraliberal utopia and its crises can only provoke the return of the master discourse, or worse, of the totalitarian discourse. Psychoanalytic discourse is considered as an alternative, albeit that it requires passage via the hysterical discourse.

Download full text