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  • 1. The story is told of an automaton constructed in such a way that it could play a winning game of chess, answering each move of an opponent with a countermove. A puppet in Turkish attire and with a hookah in its mouth sat before a chessboard placed on a large table. A system of mirrors created the illusion that this table was transparent from all sides. Actually, a little hunchback who was an expert chess player sat inside and guided the puppet’s hand by means of strings. One can imagine a philosophical counterpart to this device. The puppet called ‘historical materialism’ is to win all the time. It can easily be a match for anyone if it enlists the services of theology, which today, as we know, is wizened and has to keep out of sight.    -Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”
  • 2. The Mechanical Turk
  • 3. The Structure of Belief
  • 4. The Structure of Belief (Bentham) Subject-supposed-to-believe Subject-supposed-to-know The Public Sphere
  • 5. The Structure of Belief <ul><li>Two theories of belief distinguished by respective positions in relation to Big Other: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bentham: symptomal public </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Zizek: fetishistic public </li></ul></ul>
  • 6. The Structure of Belief
  • 7. The Structure of Belief <ul><li>For Bentham: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public-supposed-to-believe: the social group that does not make decisions, but assents to the decisions of a group of experts. This assent is gained through publicity (they can see just what is going on, as Napoleon watches the automaton) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publicity “provides the information that enables the public-supposed-to-believe to believe that someone knows” (20). </li></ul></ul>
  • 8. The Structure of Belief <ul><li>For Bentham: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public-supposed-to-know: The information to which they have access is out of reach to the p-s-t-believe: “the authority of the p-s-t-know carries with it an aura, a sense of mystery. How do they know ?” (21). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The secret marks the absence necessary to sustain belief in the p-s-t-know” (21). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is precisely something that is missing ( secret ) that serves as proof of the legitimacy of the decision-making body. </li></ul></ul>
  • 9. Back to the Turk <ul><li>The chess board is the idea of the public : the fantasy that a class of experts (the automaton) will administer the correct “moves” to reach the desired outcome. </li></ul><ul><li>The dwarf , or whatever inaccessible quantity is inside the box (if indeed there is any ), is the secret : the absence that runs the show. </li></ul>
  • 10. The Structure of Belief (Bentham) Subject-supposed-to-believe Subject-supposed-to-know The Public Sphere
  • 11. From Belief to Ideology <ul><li>The belief invested in the efficacy of this Benthamite structure is ideological insofar as it is the mechanism of the reproduction of social class. </li></ul><ul><li>This type of belief maps on to a particular kind of ideological formation. </li></ul>
  • 12. Symptomal Ideology <ul><li>Zizek: “The symptom is the exception which disturbs the surface of the false appearance” (On Belief, 13) </li></ul><ul><li>The symptom is a disturbing detail that brings to mind a traumatic event. It thus requires a split, as in Bentham’s model. So…? </li></ul>
  • 13. Symptomal Ideology <ul><li>This is why, when we are dealing with a model of ideology that still retains a fantasy of potential wholeness (the possibility of society), the discourse of the fantasy necessarily generates symptoms (empirical facts that are to blame for the failure of society) </li></ul><ul><li>immigrant as symptom, for instance. </li></ul>
  • 14. &nbsp;
  • 15. Fetishistic Ideology
  • 16. Fetishistic Ideology <ul><li>Zizek: “The fetish is the embodiment of the Lie which enables us to sustain the unbearable truth” (ibid.) </li></ul><ul><li>The fetish relates to a particular kind of disavowal that one enacts, but nevertheless does not really believe (I know the shoe is only a prop, but nevertheless I need it to get off) </li></ul>
  • 17. Fetishistic Ideology <ul><li>According to Zizek, fetishists are “realists,” able to accept the world as it really is, as long as they have their fetish object to which they can “cling in order to cancel the full impact of reality” (14). </li></ul><ul><li>Fetishistic ideology for Dean can be seen in her assertion that the technologies of communicative capitalism are the fetish object that allows subjects to accept the impossibility of democracy. </li></ul>
  • 18. Fetishistic Ideology <ul><li>Zizek: “So, when we are bombarded by claims that in our post-ideological cynical era nobody believes in the proclaimed ideals, when we encounter a person who claims he is cured of any beliefs, accepting social reality the way it really is, one should always counter such claims with the question: OK, but where is the fetish that allows you to (pretend to) accept reality “the way it is”? </li></ul>
  • 19. &nbsp;
  • 20. From Desire to Drive <ul><li>Is the iPhone more than a superficial example? </li></ul><ul><li>Dean 122, 123, 123-24, 124, *130 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The sense of being known should not be reduced to some kind of naïve fantasy whereby one imagines oneself as a celebrity….[Celebrity as a mode of subjectivization] is materialized in new communication technologies, in the screens and sites of networked technoculture. So, even if one knows that she isn’t a celebrity, she acts as if she believes she were. The technologies believe for her.” </li></ul></ul>
  • 21. Fetishistic Ideology <ul><li>This is where Dean’s argument gets a bit tricky: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fetishistic ideology does not require the belief of individuals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shift from what we know to what we do (fetishistic disavowal) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Belief is “externalized” into practices and the material infrastructure of communicative capitalism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>P-s-t-believe is transformed into p-s-t-know </li></ul></ul>
  • 22. Fetishistic Ideology <ul><li>“ For Habermas, critical debate is the very process of transforming the p-s-t-believe into the p-s-t-know….With consensus as the anchor, the ultimate outcome of the critical exchange of reasons in the public sphere, there is never any doubt about the rightness of public judgment” (34). </li></ul>
  • 23. The Structure of Belief (Zizek) Subject-supposed-to-know Subject-supposed-to-believe The Public Sphere (subject of desire) Communication Networks (subject of drive) BIG OTHER, or
  • 24. &nbsp;
  • 25. The Big Other <ul><li>We no longer believe, but we act as if we do. Why? (Subject of desire and Subject of the drive) </li></ul><ul><li>For whose sake do we believe? </li></ul>
  • 26. The Big Other Does Not Exist <ul><li>In Lacanian theory, the Big Other is identified with the symbolic order: “The social world of linguistic communication, intersubjective relations, knowledge of ideological conventions, and the acceptance of the law.” </li></ul><ul><li>What does it mean to suggest that socio-symbolic ordering does not exist? </li></ul>
  • 27. The Big Other Doesn&apos;t Exist <ul><li>The big Other is somewhat the same as God according to Lacan (God is not dead today He was dead from the very beginning, except He didn&apos;t know it...): it never existed in the first place, i.e., the &amp;quot;big Other&apos;s&amp;quot; inexistence is ultimately equivalent to Its being the symbolic order, the order of symbolic fictions which operate at a level different from direct material causality. (In this sense, the only subject for whom the big Other does exist is the psychotic, the one who attributes to words direct material efficiency.) In short, the &amp;quot;inexistence of the big Other&amp;quot; is strictly correlative to the notion of belief, of symbolic trust, of credence, of taking what other&apos;s say &amp;quot;at their word&apos;s value.&amp;quot; </li></ul>
  • 28. The Big Other Doesn&apos;t Exist <ul><li>In one of the Marx brothers&apos; films, Groucho Marx, when caught in a lie, answers angrily: &amp;quot;Whom do you believe, your eyes or my words?&amp;quot; This apparently absurd logic renders perfectly the functioning of the symbolic order, in which the symbolic mask-mandate matters more than the direct reality of the individual who wears this mask and/or assumes this mandate. This functioning involves the structure of fetishist disavowal: &amp;quot;I know very well that things are the way I see them /that this person is a corrupted weakling/, but I nonetheless treat him respectfully, since he wears the insignia of a judge, so that when he speaks, it is the Law itself which speaks through him&amp;quot;. So, in a way, I effectively believe his words, not my eyes, i.e., I believe in Another Space (the domain of pure symbolic authority) which matters more than the reality of its spokesmen. </li></ul>
  • 29. The Big Other Doesn&apos;t Exist <ul><li>What happens when this symbolic authority loses its efficacy? (132, 134) </li></ul><ul><li>We continue to act as if the Big Other did exist, even though at the level of belief It has been exposed as a fiction. </li></ul><ul><li>This is why ideology does not cease to function in the absence of a particular set of beliefs. </li></ul>
  • 30. Once again, to the Turk
  • 31. Artificial Artificial Intelligence <ul><li>In this final version of our chess-playing machine we have the appropriately postmodern version in which the fiction of the Big Other lays totally exposed for its artificiality (look, it is just a dwarf in a box!), yet this effects essentially nothing. We are only required to adopt a cynical distance from the exposed fiction, where the artificiality of the artificial intelligence is precisely what guarantees its reality (I know very well it is only a dwarf in a box, but nevertheless I will still follow the rules of the game when I play it). </li></ul>
  • 32. In a Nutshell <ul><li>One last quotation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ one can believe (have faith in) X without believing in X. [This], for Lacan, is the very case of the Big Other, the symbolic Order: ‘there is no big Other,’ it is just a virtual order, a shared fiction, we do not have to believe IN IT in order to believe IT, to feel bound by some symbolic commitment….[B]elief is always displaced (it is never me who, in the first person singular, is ready to assume belief, there is always the need for the fiction of a subject-supposed-to-believe).” </li></ul></ul>
  • 33. Here, the subject and ideology remain relatively autonomous in their relation to one another. But this relationship is mediated by the symbolic commitment to the big Other. Neither need believe in the other, they only need to believe in the fantasy that is sustained by the configuration of the big Other— “which bind(s) us into the practices whereby we submit to global capital” (151).

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