In this short essay I am attempting to explore the part that the location – the spatial and geographic situatedness, in as much as real and/or material1F – plays within the mechanisms and the dynamics of subjectivization. Here I am referring to a complex/complicated historico-politico cultural/national Subject, and more specifically to the Balkan (or/and the Southeast European) Subject with respect to the European Subject.2F
This is a debate, in terms of its theoretical backdrop, primarily indebted to the Foucaultian/Butlerian discursive tradition (theories of power and the performative powers of discourse as Power). Primarily though not puristically. Namely, there may be des demarches de discours, which may appear incongruent and/or even contradictory with the theoretical tradition I am primarily taking recourse to, as I have just stated. Here I am more specifically referring to the position of the “Name of the real/Real” within the discourse of this article. However, I prefer not to be hindered by the obligation of fidelity and loyalty towards any discursive/theoretical tradition or school, and this preference of mine is immanently linked with the very considerations I tend to purport here.
Namely, in the context of this debate, a key position is being assigned to the concept of the real/Real. The latter is, to a certain extent though not exclusively or entirely, informed with/as the Lacanian/Zizekian theoretical construction. The real/Real operating in this text is also informed – maybe even awkwardly, considering its simultaneous Lacanism – with its conceptualization and theorization by François Laruelle. Namely, Laruelle conceives the real as one in no oppositionary relation to the “fiction” (the imaginary, symbolic … illusion?), or rather in-no-relation with it, as Laruelle argues for “a thought of non-rapport”.
In an ironical move of (a seeming) contradiction, I shall, only briefly, apply the just renounced logic of opposition (and of the oppositionary relation between the real and the fiction) by dividing my discussion into two parts: of the “real” location (performing as imaginary); and of the “imaginary” location (performing as real).
The real is, I am aware, a more or less canceled category within/by the post-strucuturalist or post-modern theoretical moment. And from the influential contemporary theorizing of the socio-cultural and psycho-linguistic phenomena, by way of conferring to the real the position of the unthinkable Real, the very opposition is seemingly absent. However, I believe that this opposition is always already presupposed by these discourses and is of perhaps foundational [fundamental] or substantial significance for them. I have argued elsewhere on this matter more elaborately and more extensively, and here I shall offer only a brief account or a condensed argumentation, before moving to the question of the both aspects of the (Balkan) location.
The very axiomatic position of the real (or the Real) within the (or THE) discourses of today as unthinkable, excluded from the pure, ghostly pale-faced realm of the undisturbed noematicity of the sign/significance is revealing the presence of an oppositionary logic of exclusiveness. The sign is clean from the presence of the absent Real. Even in Lacanian and Zizekian discourse, the traumatizing Real, although one that intervenes within the signifying chain as its productive tuché, is still (and precisely) that which is outside the linguistic, uncontainable within and by Thought, it is still (and precisely) the unthinkable. Following the (short) tradition of critique of metaphysics, the post-structuralist and/or the postmodernist theoretical and philosophical discourses most often – when it comes to the question of its substance and its truthfulness (read: relation to the reality, the real) – define or qualify this realm of pure significance as imaginary. (Or symbolic, phantasmatic… – the non-real.) The overthrown idea/matter opposition has been replaced by that of imaginary (fiction)/real, the latter performing as the first (and replacing it as reinstating it).
1. With the entire ambiguity of the both terms/categories taken into account. After Judith Butler’s seminal deconstruction of the notion of the material and bodily in her 1993 book Bodies That Matter it has become rather difficult to “safely” operate with the undeconstructed notion of materiality as the pure category of the mysterious, speechless Material as opposed to the Sign, Idea… Butler has shown that the body, thus the “material” (and the notion of “materiality” itself), is always already “populated” by the phantasmatic. In other words, we always already conceive the material … in certain, different ways.
2. And I would like to call to your attention the fact that serious politico-theoretical discussion has started on both subjects (and Subjects); see Julija Kristeva, The Crisis of the European Subject… and Dusan Bjelic and Obrad Savic (eds), 2001. The Balkans as Metaphor. MIT Press (not yet published).