“Reinvigorating the Project of Creating a Critical Citizenry”

Acts of Enjoyment: Rhetoric, Zizek, and the Return of the Subject

Acts of Enjoyment: Rhetoric, Zizek, and the Return of the Subject

It’s probably not all that surprising that my intention in this post is to focus on the connections I see within Ulmer’s Internet Invention and Electronic Monuments and Rickert’s Acts of Enjoyment. Just in case it’s not been explicitly clear, I’ll make it so now: I really really enjoy Ulmer’s provocative, risky, and “quirky” (as Santos’ undergrad put it …) pedagogy: a pedagogy that traumatizes, knocks off balance, “disequilibriates,” and shocks … so as to bring the unconscious into “consulting;” (Ulmer xxxi) to invent, to improve the world, starting with “MY” story. Most importantly – regarding Rickert’s citation of Ulmer – psychoanalysis is the emphasis of Acts of Enjoyment, as well as an inherent theme of Ulmer’s Electronic Monuments (see “The Call (Abject Monuments) ch 3). To explain further: Ulmer writes, “’Transference’ refers to any experience from the past reactivated in the present relationship between analyst and analysand during psychoanalytic treatment. Lacan observed that as soon as there is a subject who is supposed to know (the Other), there is transference. A consultant is such a one” (Ulmer 61). Reflecting this perspective, Rickert writes, “His (Zizek’s neo-Lacanian psychoanalytic work) psychoanalytic theories, attuned to the unconscious and other psychical factors such as fantasy and jouissance, are useful for providing more satisfying and complete explanations for individual and social conduct” (4). Ulmer’s reading of Lacan’s “subject who is supposed to know the other” is Rickert’s “individual who is supposed to understand the social” – BOTH of which indulge in fantasy and jouissance: fantasy (“ … our largely unconscious projections and constructions of other people and the world, thus underpinning how we come to see ourselves in the world” (Rickert 2). At this point, I must draw larger parallels – between Rickert, Ulmer, Heidegger, and Freiere. From what I understand from Rickert’s allusion to “seeing ourselves in the world …” I immediately infer Heidegger and Freiere, specifically, the rhetorical positioning of being WITH the world and being IN the world, as these positions have significant implications for action/inaction: whereas the former positions humans as being thoroughly and critically perceptive about social, political, economic, etc. destinies that are literally IN their own hands, the latter connotes the being IN the world that lacks scientific understanding of the natural world or the necessary scientific/dialectical  understanding of social formation. For all, jouissance – enjoyment – is derived from being IN the world, freeing oneself, revealing one’s attachment to “the rules” and “the ordering,” … for the sake of a “… different means [one that] enables communication of a message over far greater distance (but still within a medium that remains fundamentally continuous and self-identical); the internet” (Derrida, Ulmer).

Ultimately, what Rickert and Ulmer are most concerned with is “CULTURE” – our “…largely unconscious projections and constructions of other people and the world … underpinning how we come to see ourselves in the world” (Rickert 2) and “… the largely unconscious enjoyment one derives from habits, attitudes, beliefs, and activities …” (Rickert 3) and for Ulmer, “… monuments by the people … [via the] interlinked proliferation of individually authored MEmorials on the Internet, coordinated and focused through the EmerAgency interface metaphor of consultant tourists (theoria), [which] externalizes and shows citizens the ‘cognitive map’ tracing the collective reality of individual actions. (The gap between a singular event and general statistics is bridged through the linked testimony of the egents, enacting the slogan, “Problems B Us” (Ulmer 80)”

Ultimately, what I’d like to conclude with is an “n” – an addition to the last major question on our “5 Questions for 5 Books” guide. My proposed “n” is: Ulmer – “Free your ass and your mind will follow: students produce knowledge via resistance, conducting inquiry, inventing something oneself – some “sublime object of ideology” (Zizek) … a feeling exposed by the MEmorial (Ulmer 137).” Given this *new category, I see Rickert’s major points: 1. “an ideological interpellation always involves fundamental, Real conflicts that … 2. Generate cultural narratives making sense of these conflicts that  … 3. Hail a subject so that … 4. The subject takes an active role in achieving coherent ideological INTEgration” (Rickert 106) … thus, reinvigorating *rhetoric’s project of creating a critical citizenry VIA ideology that produces enjoyment.




About klangbehn

Doctoral Candidate: Rhetoric of Science University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Avenue Tampa, FL 33620-5550 View all posts by klangbehn

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