“The fantastic, then, pushes towards an area of non-signification. It does this either by attempting to articulate ‘the unnameable’, the ‘nameless things’ of horror fiction, attempting to visualize the unseen, or by establishing a disjunction of word and meaning through a play upon ‘thingless names’. In both cases, the gap between signifier and signified dramatizes the impossibility of arriving at definitive meaning, or absolute ‘reality’. As Todorov points out, the fantastic cannot be placed alongside allegory nor poetry, for it resists both the conceptualizations of the first and the metaphorical structures of the second. It tends towards the non-conceptual, or pre-conceptual.” (Rosemary Jackson in Fantasy – A Literature of Subversion)
Žižek argues in The Plague of Fantasies that fantasy is the primordial form of narrative and that it serves to hide an original and insuperable deadlock: the impossibility of the fulfillment of desire because its actual object cannot match the one it imagines. Such contradictions indicate the Real beyond language.
“…when do I actually encounter the Other ‘beyond the wall of language’, in the real of his or her being? Not when I am able to describe her, not even when I learn her values, dreams, and so on, but only when I encounter the Other in her moment of jouissance: when I discern in her a tiny detail (a compulsive gesture, a facial expression, a tic) which signals the intensity of the real of jouissance. This encounter with the real is always traumatic; there is something at least minimally obscene about it; I cannot simply integrate it into my universe, there is always a gulf separating me from it.” (Žižek, The Plague of Fantasies)
People tell stories to resolve a fundamental antinomy by rearranging its terms in temporal succession, making the answer a goal to be reached; but this does not solve the problem because the goal cannot be reached (Žižek, Plague, p.10).
Columbus believed that he had reached India, and so Native Americans were called Indians. What one reaches (the Real) can never be articulated to match what one aims at (the Imaginary).
This psychoanalytic nature of truth articulated by Žižek suggests that what one explores always remains in doubt, what one discovers is not what one expected, and that in our desire-driven journey towards truth we never actually arrive.
JAMES:Radicalizing nihilism is akin to a hard reboot. Humans can’t help but create meaning (via inherent biological and evolved sense-making capacities), and so even when nihilism is taken to its logical completion we still need to build up from the ruins of alternatively rendered signification. We remain coping-beings; simultaneously and always already delusional in navigating worlds, yet immanently entangled in the non-linguistic real. So for us to develop the ability to navigate via an axiomatic negation of Truth (as dogma and as ideology) we must let go of, once and for all, the security the certainty provides. We are frightened and needy creatures trying to find our way in a vast wilderness of flows, forces, assemblages, expressions. We need to lean into this condition and find a way to do things differently. We need a radicalized and functional negatively capable pragmaticism.
HICKMAN: I agree. It’s this sense that by negation we wipe the slate clean, but to do this means something different than most people would assume: we must traverse the fantasy of the human absolutely, rather than rejecting it outright. Only in this way can we truly push past the limit barrier of this conceptual and metaphoric destitution. As you say a hard reboot which unlike some viral computer driven erasure offers instead a secret quest that like archaeologists of some forgotten and ruinous world of fragments begins digging among the ruins of this lost world for traces of something that once had a human face…