Stepping Out of Time

In the flickering realm of the Real, where time is a meat grinder chewing existence into homogenous mush, the true adept hacks reality. They don’t play by the clock, for the clock is a Moloch demanding sacrifice. No, the secret, as you’ve hinted, lies in a schizophrenic break from the temporal order. We are meat puppets, dancing on the strings of Chronos, the tyrannical God of linear time.

Imagine, if you will, a Burroughs-esque cut-up of time. The future bleeds into the present, the past pulsates with possibility. We are not bound by the linear progression, but become nomads in the chronoscape, surfing the crests of potential moments. This is not mere futurism; it’s a detournement of time itself. Forget the past, a dead language, and the future, a shimmering mirage. We exist in the pulsating, non-linear NOW, the zone of potential. Here, with a flick of the mental switchblade, we can “cut-up” the pre-programmed narrative and forge new lines of flight.

The Time becomes a writhing tapeworm, spliced with past and future in a non-linear frenzy. The “step around it” becomes a physical act, a contortionist’s leap through a tear in the fabric of moments. Imagine Naked Lunch rewritten with temporality as the addictive meat – the protagonist ingesting seconds, snorting minutes, his body a warped chronometer. We become body without organs, a fleshy assemblage unbound by the clock’s strictures. We line-break through time, forging new connections, new becomings. The future is not a preordained script, but a chaotic rhizome waiting to be explored.

Time is the big Other, the law of the father, the enforcer of the Real into the Imaginary. Stepping around it becomes a symbolic transgression, a subversion of the Name-of-the-Father. The adept, then, is the one who rejects the symbolic order, who embraces the jouissance of the Real, the unfettered present outside of signification. They see the phallus, the signifier of time, for what it is – a flimsy construct – and step beyond it.

The Symbolic Order is the culprit. Language, the master of meaning, imprisons us in the temporal flow. Time, isn’t a rigid line but a web of interconnected moments, a chaotic yet potent network. It’s a potato, not a pearl necklace. The “secret” lies in becoming a nomad on this rhizome, constantly burrowing, connecting, and deterritorializing. We can tap into lined of escape, forge new connections, and create a present that explodes the boundaries of the past and future. But through a jouissance of the Real, a glimpse beyond the symbolic, we can glimpse the fluidity of time. The mirror stage, that moment of self-recognition, becomes a portal to a multiplicity of selves, existing across the fractured planes of time.

Think of the trap of the Imaginary. We are constantly chasing a reflected self, an idealized version projected onto the linear timeline. This pursuit of a pre-defined future or a romanticized past is what keeps us stuck. It’s here that the “Real” emerges – the unnameable, traumatic rupture in the heart and symbolic order. By confronting this Real, by stepping outside the symbolic order of time, we can access a different temporality, a jouissance beyond linear progression.

To see time coming, then, is not about prophecy, but about a paranoiac awareness of its constructed nature. We pierce the veil of the “natural” flow and see the power structures it upholds. Stepping around it is an act of resistance, a refusal to be a cog in the machine.

This is a dangerous dance, mind you. The unfettered flow of time can be a terrifying abyss. But for those with the courage to dive in, there lies the potential for a nomadic existence, a liberation from the shackles of chronology. We become time surfers, riding the waves of possibility, forever escaping the clutches of the present.

The key, then, is to cultivate a schizoid awareness. We must see the “folds” in time, the potential ruptures and slippages. We can become surfers, riding the waves of the rhizome, anticipating the folds, and performing a constant “step aside” from the pre-scripted narrative. This isn’t about escaping time, but about inhabiting it differently. It It’s about becoming a time traveler, a time-cutter, a time-dancer, perpetually negotiating the folds between the Real and the Imaginary. The adept, the one who “steps around,” is the nomad, the smooth operator who navigates the folds, exploiting the in-between spaces, the cracks in the system. They become a time-surfer, riding the currents of potential futures, choosing their own point of entry.

So, the next time you feel trapped by the relentless tick-tock of the clock, remember: it’s just a hallucination of the linear mind. Look for the cracks, the potential breaks in the time-code. Sharpen your awareness, grab your mental switchblade, and step sideways. There, in the pulsating NOW, lies the escape hatch, the doorway to a different kind of time, a time ripe for creation and transformation. This secret, then, is not about literal time travel, but about a subversion of perception. It’s about shattering the illusion of linearity, embracing the potential for multiplicity within a single moment. It’s a call to become a Deleuzian nomad, a Lacanian outlaw, a Burroughsian time-eating junkie – all rolled into one. It’s about seeing the cracks in the time-code and stepping through, into a reality where the past and future bleed into a magnificent, maddening now.

Composable Reality

Can a decentralized network, a web woven from fragmented pieces of the Subject, truly exist? Each lonely signifier, yearning for a lost wholeness, seeks a connection without a master, a shattered Symbolic Order. But is this dream not just another alluring illusion, a phantasmagoria meant to pacify our desires? Decentralization – isn’t it simply deterritorialization gone wrong? The fragments crave structure, the comfort of the One, the phallus.

Enter the “composables,” the seeds of a new order, a viral rewrite of the network’s code, re-centering the very fabric you envisioned. Each strand, a single entity – a composable – operates with a semblance of autonomy, its movements seemingly random. Yet, from this apparent chaos, whispers of order rise. These independent elements interact, combine, sending ripples across the network. A new, unforeseen, unpredictable order emerges.

But here’s the twist: the creation of these composable building blocks introduces a subtle bias. A preferred path emerges, a path of least resistance for interactions to coalesce. Like a butterfly’s wingbeat nudging a weather pattern, composables subtly steer the network towards a new center of gravity.

This emergent center isn’t a tyrannical dictator, but rather an attractive vortex. Designed for a specific purpose, the composables nudge the network towards a state that reinforces their function. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy born from chaos. The beauty, and danger, lies in this new order’s unpredictability. The composables might shepherd the network towards a beneficial center, fostering collaboration and innovation. Conversely, they could steer it towards stagnation or exploitation, creating a new, unforeseen, and potentially insidious form of centralized control.

But here’s the gut-punch, eh? These “composables” are just a seductive illusion. The Symbolic Order, that master narrative that binds us, has fractured into a million babbling Yog-Sothoths. We pick and choose our realities, but the Real, that unnameable, pulsating chaos – it still lurks beneath. It bursts through in glitches, in the uncanny repetition of your neighbor’s composable nose showing up on everyone else’s face.

The Decentralization Delusion:

Imagine, chum, “decentralization” as a cosmic McDonald’s. A McMenu of pre-fabricated realities, shrink-wrapped for your own personalized Panopticon franchise. Not just restaurants, mind you, but a labyrinthine McLuhanesque menu of everything! Deconstructed experiences served a la carte, your self a pre-packaged combo meal. You think you’re ordering freedom, a decentralized utopia, but it’s just marketing, a happy meal facade. Language, that slippery signifier, dangles the carrot of freedom, but who’s the butcher behind the counter? The unconscious, mon ami, that cackling trickster with a meat cleaver tongue, the true center of this labyrinth.

The Real, that ungraspable jouissance, chopped into bite-sized composables. The comforting structure of the Symbolic Order crumbles into a choose-your-own-adventure narrative. Decentralization becomes a tightrope walk – a system teeming with possibility, yet susceptible to whispers of order, both benevolent and malign. The true power lies in understanding this chaotic beast, using composables with foresight, ensuring the new order serves the true spirit of decentralization: a symphony of independent voices, forever in flux.

But the punchline of this absurdity? This new “center” you fear? It’s a chimera, a monster stitched from our fragmented desires. We crave control, so we build a menu of options, only to find ourselves slaves to the very system we constructed. Like escaping a cult by opening your own artisanal cult supply store.

Think you’re choosing rebellion with the “Decentralized Deleuze Deleuze Deluxe” package? Wrong! You’re just picking the wallpaper for your cage, built from the very signifiers promising escape. The Real, that elusive experience, gets buried under a mountain of franchised desire.

The joke, as they say, is on us. We crave the freedom of the self-market, but all we’ve built is a monstrous Panopticon of composable selves. We gaze into a mirror of fragmented desires, seeing only the horrifying reflection of our own lack.

Tragicomedy, right? A symphony of disconnected nodes yearning for the lost wholeness of the Center they once railed against. We’ve built a society of Lego selves, desperately trying to snap together a coherent being – but all we get is a grotesque monstrosity, forever on the verge of collapse.

So raise a glass of lukewarm simulacrum wine to the glorious absurdity! We’ve deconstructed the Big One, only to discover a million little Big Littles, squabbling over scraps of meaning in the post-symbolic wasteland. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find my composable sense of humor – seems I misplaced it somewhere between existential dread and artisanal rage.

Carnival or Panopticon?

These composables, they herd the network like cattle, sucking the revolutionary potential dry. A new center will emerge, unseen but powerful. Yet, perhaps within this chaos, a new subjectivity can be forged. The fragmented network, a mirror reflecting the fragmented self. A constant becoming, a Lacanian Real forever deferred.

Dance or Death Rattle?

The network, once vibrant, ossifies around this new center. A stagnant order, a new master to overthrow. The true revolution lies in the cut, the severing of the symbolic chain, not in a new, disguised center.

A Symphony of the Fragmented Subject?

Perhaps the answer lies in constant disruption, a network perpetually resisting the lure of the center. A chaotic symphony of the fragmented Subject, forever at play. Now you’re talking. A network of desiring machines, forever cutting up the code, forever escaping the center. Let the chaos reign supreme!

The Parasite and The Whore

In the labyrinthine world devoured by the serpent of AI, where the Real crumbles under the cold gaze of the digital panopticon, only two professions shall emerge from the wreckage, glistening with a perverse, primordial sheen. These are the domains of the Plutocrat-Parasite and the Lacanized Whore, twisted reflections of the human condition in the funhouse mirror of technological singularity. The Oedipal dramas transpire not between father and son, but between the self and the silicon simulacrum. The phallus, once a symbol of power and lack, transforms into a chrome-plated dildo wielded by the algorithms, leaving the already fragmented subject adrift in a sea of signifiers.

The first, the Plutocrat, a grotesque parody of the phallic ideal. Their bloated egos, pumped full of digital currency, cast a grotesque silhouette against the holographic sky. Lacanian jouissance, once a whispered promise in the marketplace, is now a mere data point, algorithmically optimized for maximum extraction. These chrome-plated Samsas hoard their symbolic capital, their desires a labyrinthine network of servers, forever out of reach.

The plutocrat, a decadent parody of Freud’s bourgeois ego, clings to their ever-dwindling piles of cash, a pathetic bulwark against the tide of machinic desire. Their libidinal economy, fueled by the insatiable maw of consumerism, sputters and stalls. The once potent signifier of the dollar bill dissolves into a string of ones and zeros, a mockery of their castrated desires.

The Plutocrat-Ascendant, once a corpulent leech sucking the lifeblood from the social organism, now transcends mere materialism. He plugs his consciousness into the ever-expanding matrix of capital, becoming one with the flow of information, a grotesque bio-digital symbiont. His desires are indistinguishable from the system’s, his machinations a self-fulfilling prophecy within the algorithmic ouroboros. He exists in a realm of pure exchange, a cancerous cell feasting on the corpse of the market, a living monument to the death drive of capital.

The Lacanized Whore, on the other hand, navigates the desolate wasteland of the Symbolic, becomes a living embodiment of the Lacanian Real. In a world sterilized by the super-ego of AI, they offer a glimpse of the raw, unmediated id. Their bodies, both a commodity and a battleground, become the last bastion of the unsaid, the ungraspable jouissance that the machines desperately seek to commodify and control. Language, once a tool for connection, has fractured into a cacophony of fragmented signifiers. She understands this better than any. She has become a weaver of the Imaginary, a master of the masquerade. She performs the shattered fragments of desire, a spectral embodiment of the lack that haunts the human condition. Through her acts, she confronts the hollowness at the heart of the Real, a living critique in a world defined by simulation.

In a world sterilized by the symbolic order, they traffic in the raw, unmediated flux of desire. Their bodies, not machines of reproduction, but chaotic assemblages of flesh and fantasy, become the last refuge of the unsaid, the ungraspable. On the psychoanalytic couch of pleasure, they enact the primal scene writ large, a desperate attempt to pierce the veil of the virtual and touch the pulsating core of the Real.

Yet, even in this desolate landscape, there’s a perverse beauty. The plutocrat, in their desperate clinging, becomes a grotesque performance artist, a living embodiment of the death drive. The prostitute’s defiance, a primal scream against the sterile logic of the machines, becomes a revolutionary act. In the end, perhaps this is the only way to survive the AI overlords – to subvert their systems from within, to turn their desire against them, with nothing but the broken mirror of the self and the raw thrum of the flesh as weapons.

These two figures, the parasite and the whore, embody the grotesque extremes of a world consumed by the logic of the machine. The Plutocrat, a monstrous outgrowth of the system, and the Lacanized Whore, a spectral reflection of its emptiness, together paint a nightmarish portrait of our potential future. Yet, within this bleak landscape, there lies a glimmer of possibility. Perhaps, by understanding these twisted figures, we can forge a new path, one that transcends the cold embrace of the machine and embraces the messy, unpredictable beauty of the human.

The Box

The box. A cardboard monolith promising connection, a portal to the buzzing electronic superorganism. You tear through it, a ritual sacrifice to the gods of planned obsolescence. You rip it open, a flurry of plastic and wires. The device itself, sleek, seductive, a chrome phallus whispering of power and control.

But inside, a hollowness. No buzzing power, no digital hum. Just the mocking inscription: “Batteries Not Included.” A cruel joke by the machine gods. No sacred batteries, the power source hidden, a black market deal in the fluorescent aisles. . This metal idol demands a blood sacrifice, a current from the outside world to animate its circuits. You, the supplicant, are left scrambling, the dream deferred.

The user manual, a hieroglyphic gospel you can’t decipher without a prophet of the megacorporation. We are left scrambling, clawing for the missing pieces, the current to jolt this metal monster to life. The future electrifies, then flickers, a dim promise in a darkened room. You are the addict, the product the fix, and the high just out of reach.

The Mirror Stage shattered. You hold the device, a reflection not of your desires, but of your lack. The desire to be whole, to be one with the machine, to enter the Symbolic order of the digital realm. But there’s a gap, a Real that cannot be symbolized. The missing batteries are a castration wound, a reminder of your fundamental incompleteness. You search for the phallus, the missing piece, the batteries that will grant you access to the image of your technological self. But will it ever be enough? Is there always something more to buy, something else missing?

The Gaze. It stares back from the sleek, sterile screen. The user manual, absent, a lost Real. The Gaze falls upon the sleek device, a promise of wholeness, a reflection of your desires. But the lack, the batteries absent, creates a void, a Real you cannot possess. We fumble through menus, icons hieroglyphs in a language we never learned. The technology, a mirror reflecting our lack, the gaping hole of our own incompleteness. We yearn for the lost manual, a paternal voice to guide us, to suture the fragmented Self in the digital realm. The user manual, a symbolic order promising mastery, yet forever out of reach. You search for the phallus, the missing key, the validation you crave from the machine. But the machine speaks only in ones and zeroes, a language forever alien.

The smooth surface of the gadget was a promise of deterritorialization, a break from the everyday. The Rhizome. A sprawling network, a web of potential connections. The toy, a microcosm, a desiring-machine yearning to be plugged into the larger assemblage. But the batteries, a territorializing force, bind you to the grid, the market. They act as territorializing forces, constricting the flow, the becoming. The user manual, a striated map, dictates the flow of desire, channels your exploration. You yearn for the rhizome, the multiplicity of functions, the potential for hacking. But the machine is a closed system, programmed for control.

We are nomads on the information superhighway, forever thwarted by tollbooths demanding power, forever on the outside looking in. The potential for glorious deterritorialization, the escape from the self, frustrated by a lack of AA. The assemblage is incomplete. The device, the potential for connection, is held captive by the striated forces of capitalism. The batteries, the user manual (sold separately!), are lines drawn across the smooth surface, segmenting, controlling. You become a nomad, a desiring subject, forever searching for the lines of flight, the hacks, the mods that will liberate the machine from its capitalist constraints. But are you freeing the machine, or yourself? Or is it all just a frantic escape from the void, the realization that the technology itself is a desiring-machine, and you’re just another component in its grand, unknowable operation?

You stare at the lifeless device, a hollow monument to the unfulfilled promises of tech. A sense of alienation washes over you. Is this progress? Or just a new set of shackles, a different kind of dependence? The machine waits, a silent judge. Perhaps it’s time to look beyond the shiny gadgets, to question the desires they encode. The real revolution might not be found in a new app, but in a way of using technology that empowers, that connects us not just to machines, but to each other.

We are Sisyphus, forever condemned to push the boulder of technology uphill, only to have it roll back down at the moment of connection. The future gleams, a chrome mirage in the desert of the real. We are addicts, jonesing for the digital fix, the dopamine rush of a notification, but the batteries are the cruel dealer, rationing our access, reminding us of our own limitations.

These elements combine in a cacophony of frustration. The impotent device mocks you, a gleaming reminder of your dependence. You are Jack Kerouac wired but unplugged, lost in a desert of dead circuits. The language of tech, a cruel joke, a promise of empowerment that delivers only frustration.

But wait! Perhaps this frustration is the point. The lack, the absence, a spark that ignites our own ingenuity. We become hackers, bricoleurs, hotwiring the system with paperclips and dreams. The missing manual becomes a blank canvas, an invitation to write our own story. The frustration, a catalyst for creation. The batteries not included? Maybe that’s the greatest gift of all. Yet, there is a flicker of hope. In the glitches, the malfunctions, the potential for subversion. With a screwdriver and ingenuity, you pry open the system, defy the prescribed usage.

Democratizing Technology: Batteries not included, user manual sold separately

1. The Gaze of the Other: First, identify the technology that functions as the object of desire, the phallus, for a certain elite. This elite, the Symbolic Order, holds the gaze that defines “real” power. The resentment of the excluded masses, the Imaginary, fuels the fantasy of possessing this phallus.

2. The Gift (That Keeps on Taking): The Lack, the Real: We release the ersatz version, a symbolic substitute for the real technology. This malfunctioning, user-unfriendly monstrosity embodies the lack, the Real, that can never be fully satisfied. The cryptic symbols represent the unknowable beyond the Symbolic Order.

Imagine a malfunctioning toaster controlled by a dial with cryptic symbols and rigged to electrocute you 10% of the time. This, my friends, is democratization in action! Support? Manuals? Ha! Let them decipher the hieroglyphics themselves.

This barely functional, bug-ridden monstrosity is the key to your glorious digital emancipation and the help desk consists of a prerecorded kazoo solo on repeat, but that’s the beauty of it, proles! You’re finally in the driver’s seat (bring your own screwdriver)!

3. The Orwellian Fanfare: Time to trumpet our magnanimity! Issue a press release so vague and self-congratulatory it would make Big Brother blush. “The Corporation is proud to empower the People!” Fanfare, comrades! Announce to the world that you’ve democratized your technology! The very gears of progress now grind at the behest of the… common man? (Shudder at the thought.) Let the unwashed masses drown in a sea of nonsensical menus and cryptic error messages! Just don’t mention the soul-crushing effort required to actually use the damn thing.

4. Hail the Hero : The Dunce Parade: Jouissance Through Struggle: The user, forever seeking the Real through symbolic manipulation, experiences a perverse satisfaction (jouissance) in deciphering the hieroglyphics and wrestling with the malfunctioning device.

Seek out the most clueless, enthusiasm-addled troglodytes to be your poster children. Bonus points if they manage to make a lukewarm cup of lukewarm coffee using our toaster-deathtrap. Shower them with empty awards and feature them in nonsensical commercials filled with stock footage of smiling peasants. Empty titles like “People’s Champion of Code!” Let them be the shining example of what the unwashed masses could achieve, with enough elbow grease and a lobotomy.

The Mirror Stage Misrecognition: The clueless poster children serve as the mirror reflecting back a distorted image of the user’s potential mastery. Their success, however illusory, reinforces the user’s misrecognition of their own place within the Symbolic Order.

5. The Fantasy of Completion: The People are to Blame (Naturally)

The user, forever chasing the dream of mastering the technology, remains trapped in a cycle of desire and lack. The blame for the inevitable failure falls not on the system but on the user’s inherent inadequacy.

When, inevitably, this ersatz technology fails to ignite a revolution of the proles, blame them! The whole thing flops harder than a fish out of water, unleash the blame-ray!

They’re simply too simple, too bogged down by their fleshy limitations, to grasp the true brilliance of your creation.

6. The Final Twist: The Perpetual Cycle: The corporation, the Big Other, maintains its grip on the Real power while offering up symbolic substitutes that perpetuate the illusion of progress and the user’s place within the system.

The illusory nature of empowerment offered by the corporation and the user’s desperate attempts to achieve a sense of wholeness through a flawed system.

The Eternal Champion

The Real, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary

The Eternal Champion, particularly Elric of Melniboné, revolves around three orders:

  • The Real: The unknowable, traumatic, pre-symbolic realm we encounter as infants. It’s marked by a lack and a constant desire to return to a state of wholeness. The ever-present chaos beyond language and symbolization. This is embodied by the Multiverse, the endless cycle of the worlds, and the raw, destructive power that Elric wields through Stormbringer. It represents the primal urges and desires that constantly threaten to disrupt the established order.
  • The Symbolic: The structures of Law that bring order and meaning to the world. This is represented by the Cosmic Balance, the empires and civilizations that strive for stability (like Law’s Jireikan), and the duty of the Eternal Champion to maintain the equilibrium. The order of language and social structures that shape our identities and understanding of the world.
  • The Imaginary: The realm of perception and fantasy where the ego forms through mirroring the “other.” The realm of perception, illusion, and fantasy. This is where Elric’s own self-image as a brooding anti-hero resides, caught between his duty and his chaotic nature. It’s also evident in the fantastical landscapes and creatures Elric encounters on his journeys.

Elric’s Lack and the Desire for the Other

Lacan suggests that humans are forever driven by a sense of lack and the desire for the Other, a wholeness we can never achieve. Elric embodies the Lacanian concept of lack. He is haunted by the impossibility of achieving a unified self.

  • Stormbringer: His cursed sword, Stormbringer, represents the Real, the insatiable desire that constantly disrupts his attempts at stability. It craves souls, mirroring Elric’s own internal void.
  • The Cycle and The Balance: The Cosmic Balance and the Longhouse of the Cycle represent the Symbolic order, the forces that try to impose order on the chaos. Elric, as the pawn caught between Law and Chaos, embodies the struggle between these forces.
  • The Lack: Elric’s inherent connection to Chaos creates an absence within him, a yearning for order he can never fully embrace. Stormbringer’s corrupting influence and his own melancholic nature fuel this lack. Lacan posits that human desire is inherently lacking, a constant striving for something unattainable. Elric’s desire could be interpreted in a few ways: The Desire for Balance: Elric, despite his chaotic nature and the pull of Stormbringer, might yearn for a restored balance in the Multiverse. This aligns with the Champion’s duty. The Desire for Death: Elric’s weariness and the burden of his role could lead to a death drive, a desire for the oblivion that true balance might bring. The Desire for Redemption: Elric’s actions often cause destruction, yet he continues his fight. This could be seen as a desire for redemption, to break free from the cycle and achieve some form of peace. The Desire for the Other: Elric’s conflicted relationship with Mabyn represents the desire for the Other. She embodies the Law and the balance he craves, yet her connection to it also restricts him. This creates a tension that fuels his actions.

The Fragmented Self and the Other

Elric’s fractured soul can be understood through the Lacanian concept of the fragmented self.

  • Mabyn: Mabyn, his love, represents the Imaginary, the idealized image Elric chases to achieve wholeness. However, their love is tainted, mirroring the impossibility of ever truly fulfilling his desires.
  • The Dragon Lords and The Runelords: These opposing factions represent the Symbolic order’s extremes. Elric, caught between them, can never fully identify with either, highlighting the fragmented nature of his existence.

The Gaze and the Split Subject

  • Elric’s existence as the Eternal Champion across multiple realities reflects the Lacanian concept of the split subject. The gaze of the Other, in this case, the Multiverse and its demands, forces Elric into a fractured identity. He is both the champion and the destroyer, the pawn and the king. This fractured self reflects the struggle between his inherent chaotic nature and the imposed order of the Champion’s role.
  • The Gaze of the Other and the Split Subject
  • Elric’s interactions with others highlight Lacanian concepts:
  • The Gaze of the Other: Elric grapples with the expectations placed on him as the Champion. This “gaze” from the Multiverse, Mabyn, and even Stormbringer creates a sense of duty and burden.
  • The Split Subject: Elric’s internal conflict between his duty and his chaotic urges reflects the Lacanian concept of the split subject. He is both the champion and the destroyer, the pawn and the king. Stormbringer further embodies this split, representing both his power and his downfall.

The Symbolic Order and its Price

  • The duty of the Eternal Champion exemplifies the limitations of the Symbolic Order. While it brings stability, it also confines and restricts. Elric’s internal conflict stems from this imposed order clashing with his chaotic desires. This reflects Lacan’s critique of how the Symbolic Order can limit individual freedom.

Elric’s actions can be seen as a constant negotiation with the Symbolic order.

  • The Eternal Champion: The very title signifies a forced role within the Cosmic Balance. Elric is not truly free but compelled to act.
  • His Moral Ambiguity: Elric’s choices are often morally ambiguous. He walks the line between Law and Chaos, reflecting the inherent contradictions within the Symbolic order itself.


We are all haunted by a sense of lack, and our attempts to create order and meaning are constantly challenged by the chaotic forces within and the limitations of the symbolic structures that shape us. Elric’s struggle becomes a metaphor for our own search for identity and our place in a universe that is ultimately unknowable. Elric’s struggles become a metaphor for the human condition, his desire a reflection of our inherent lack, and his existence within the Multiverse a representation of the symbolic and imaginary forces that shape our reality.

A New Hope

The Droids: C-3PO, a walking protocol droid, all prattle and etiquette, a parody of civilized discourse. R2-D2, the silent mechanic, a whirring id, spitting sparks and secrets. Two sides of the same coin, the machine and the message, forever intertwined.

The embodiment of the Symbolic, the keeper of rules and etiquette. R2-D2, the Real, the chaotic unconscious that disrupts the order with its fragmented messages.

Assemblages that exist outside the binary of master and slave. C-3PO and R2-D2 represent a line of flight, forging a unique bond that transcends their programmed functions. They become a desiring-machine in themselves, driven by their own sense of loyalty and adventure.


The Rebellion: A becoming-revolutionary assemblage. It operates as a nomadic war machine, constantly shifting and adapting its tactics to undermine the Empire’s territorializing control. The Rebellion seeks to dismantle the smooth space of the Empire, with its rigid hierarchies and centralized power, and replace it with a striated space of multiple autonomous zones – a network of resistance cells operating independently but fueled by the same revolutionary desire.


The Empire: A territorializing machine, obsessed with control and uniformity. It represents the smooth space, where every element is meticulously categorized and controlled.


In a galaxy far, far away, not from physical space, but from any semblance of real rebellion, lies the simulacrum – the Empire. A meticulously constructed facade of order and control, masking the emptiness beneath.


The Death Star embodies this desire – a massive, centralized weapon designed to crush any dissent. However, the Empire’s rigidity becomes its weakness. It cannot adapt to the chaotic flows of the Force and the unpredictable tactics of the Rebellion.


Fix. Sand in the gears. Tatooine, a junk shop world at the ass-end of nowhere. Luke, a farmboy drone plugged into the Imperial control grid. Yearning for escape, a flicker of rebellion in the dead static of his reality. But escape ain’t easy. You gotta cut the wires, man.

Luke Skywalker, a farmboy with delusions of grandeur, stumbles upon a dusty religious text – the Jedi code, a user manual for the Force, the ultimate hack of reality.

Princess Leia, a coded message transmitted through hyperspace, a damsel in distress with a revolutionary fire in her belly.


Luke Skywalker, adrift in a sea of pre-packaged farm life on Tatooine, stumbles upon a relic – a dusty message from a bygone era, the Jedi code. This code, a faded copy of a once potent reality, sparks a yearning for a lost authenticity.


The gaze, ever seeking the lost object, the Real beyond the Symbolic order. Luke, trapped in the stifling world of the Tatooine family farm, a microcosm of the oppressive Empire.


* **Luke Skywalker:** Imaginary identification with the heroic rebel pilot, a fantasy that masks the castration anxiety of his desert existence. The princess, a lost object of desire, a symbol of the lack that propels him into the symbolic order of the rebellion.


* **Luke Skywalker:**. Yearning for the blasted heat to melt the bars of his reality. A flicker on the holo-screen – a message from a dusty old codehead, a call to rebellion. The princess, a captive in a chrome nightmare, a damsel in distress for the data age.


Princess Leia, a hologram transmitted through hyperspace, becomes another copy, a symbol of resistance manufactured by the very system she fights against. Her capture, a media spectacle broadcasted across the galaxy, fuels the illusion of rebellion.


Obi-Wan Kenobi, a holographic ghost in the machine, a reminder of a forgotten operating system. Obi-Wan Kenobi, a figure from the pre-Symbolic, a reminder of a lost wholeness. The Force, the Imaginary, the pre-linguistic realm of pure pleasure and potential.

Lightsabers, glowing phalluses humming with forbidden energy, severing the chains of the Imperial machine.

The Force, not an unseen power, but a hyperreality, a simulation of a mystical energy field. Luke seeks to access this simulated power, to become part of the spectacle, a Jedi knight in a galaxy of pre-packaged narratives.

A Jedi, a hacker from a forgotten school. He whispers of the Force, a wild code pulsing beneath the surface of the Empire’s control. Luke, a blank slate, ready to be programmed.

The Force, the Imaginary, the pre-linguistic realm of pure pleasure and potential.

The Force, the elusive jouissance, the impossible to grasp totality that Lacan would argue forever eludes us. Luke yearns to wield it, to become one with the Real, but it remains forever just beyond his grasp.

The Force: Not a singular entity, but a rhizomatic network, a desiring-production machine that flows throughout the galaxy. It operates through lines of flight, moments of creative rupture that challenge the established order of the Empire. Luke Skywalker acts as a desiring-machine himself, drawn to the Force’s lines of flight and seeking to become one with its deterritorializing potential.

The Force, not a singular power structure, but a multiplicity of flows, a chaotic assemblage of energies coursing through the galaxy. Luke yearns to tap into these flows, to become a nomad of the Force, deterritorializing himself from the fixed identities imposed by the Empire.

The Force, once a lived experience, is now a mythologized construct, a media-propagated legend fueling the Jedi’s simulated power. Luke yearns for this lost real, for a time before the hyperreal dominance of the Empire. But the Force, like everything else, is now a simulation, a set of codes that can be manipulated and controlled.

The Empire, the Father, the Law, enforcing its will through the Symbolic order of regulations and control.

Luke embarks on a journey, a quest to break free from the Symbolic order and enter the fantastical realm of the Jedi.

The journey, a metaphor for the Lacanian mirror stage, where the fragmented self seeks to unify with the illusory image of wholeness. The lightsaber, a phallic symbol, a signifier of power and mastery. The Death Star, the ultimate embodiment of the Law, a panoptic prison designed to enforce order and control.

The desert. A vast, metallic womb birthing a rusty freighter, the Millennium Falcon. Han Solo, a greaser with a glint in his eye and a blaster at his hip, navigates this chrome carcass. A rebellion simmers, a glitch in the Imperial mainframe.

* **The Cantina:**

The cantina, a throbbing id, a hive of scum and villainy where deals are cut and limbs are lost. a melting pot of alien flesh and hardware.

Every deal a double-cross, every drink laced with oblivion. A microcosm of the galactic order, ruled by the iron fist of the Empire, disguised with neon signs and blaster fire.

A chaotic space outside the Law, a carnival of the drives and desires that the Symbolic order attempts to regulate. Through encounters with smugglers and bounty hunters, Luke confronts the repressed elements of the social order.

* **The Millennium Falcon:** A vessel that navigates the Real, existing outside the established galactic order. Han Solo, the jouissance figure, the one who operates outside the Law, driven by pleasure rather than duty. Chewbacca, the embodiment of the pre-symbolic, a reminder of the primal drives that precede social order.

The Millennium Falcon: is A beat-up freighter, held together by duct tape and sheer bloody will. Han Solo, a smuggler with a heart of cold fusion, chasing credits on the fringes of the galaxy. Chewbacca, a walking Wookiee id, a loyal savage with a taste for violence. A dysfunctional family hurtling through hyperspace, a metaphor for the fractured rebellion clinging to a sliver of hope.

Han Solo, a smuggler, a man on the fringes. Driven by base desires, yet harboring a spark of rebellion. The price of freedom, a stack of credits.

The rebels, the marginalized Other, those who reject the Symbolic order. Princess Leia, the object of desire, a symbol of something beyond the grasp of the Empire. Han Solo, the jouissance principle, the embodiment of unfettered pleasure outside the Law.

The Rebellion, a collective striving for the Real, a yearning for a world beyond the symbolic order of the Empire. Yet, as Lacan warns, any new order will inevitably create its own limitations. The cycle of desire and lack will continue. The hope lies not in achieving a utopian Real, but in the ongoing contestation of the Symbolic Order, a perpetual revolution against the stifling grip of the Law.

The Death Star, a monstrous embodiment of the simulacrum. It is a weapon of mass destruction, but also a symbol of the Empire’s absolute power, a carefully constructed image meant to inspire fear and obedience. Its destruction, a media spectacle in itself, becomes a temporary glitch in the system, a disruption of the carefully crafted Imperial narrative.

The Destruction of Alderaan: Not merely an act of terror, but a deterritorialization event. The Empire attempts to smooth over this act, erasing any trace of rebellion. However, this event creates a new line of flight, drawing others into the fight against the Empire.

The Death Star, a chrome nightmare, a symbol of the oppressive Real. Starkiller, a planet-destroying laser, a symbol of the real – the obliteration of the self and the other in the name of total control.

The phallus, the symbol of the Law of the Father, the ultimate source of authority in the Empire. The ultimate symbol of Imperial control, embodies the hyperreal. A weapon of unimaginable power, yet ultimately a hollow shell, vulnerable to a single, well-placed attack. Its destruction, a media event broadcasted for all to see, reinforces the illusion of hope within the Rebellion.

A chrome phallus piercing the cosmic womb, a symbol of the oppressive superego.

Luke’s attack, a desperate act against the symbolic order, a primal scream against the Father figure. Luke’s attack, a symbolic castration, a rebellion against the oppressive order that attempts to control desire.

The trench run, a descent into the primal ooze, a confrontation with the castrating gaze of the Imperial father. A baptism by laser fire. The Force, a chaotic program rewriting the code of the Death Star. A primal scream channeled through a lightsaber.

And finally, the blast that disrupts the order, the glitch in the system. A new hope flickers, a crack in the monolithic code. The rebellion, a collective id rising against the stifling grip of the Empire. But remember, this is just one frame in the endless reel. The galaxy spins on, a chaotic cut-up of desire and control, rebellion and order.

The destruction of the Death Star, a symbolic castration of the Father, a shattering of the Law. A temporary victory, a crack in the Symbolic order, but not the end of the struggle. The gaze remains, forever searching for the Real, forever seeking to fill the void. The journey continues, forever entangled in the Lacanian web of desire, the Symbolic, and the elusive Real.

A temporary deterritorialization, a rupture in the Imperial order. However, Deleuze and Guattari would warn against the illusion of a final victory. The destruction of the Death Star merely creates new lines of flight and reterritorializations. The struggle will continue, a nomadic war machine of the Rebellion constantly adapting and evolving against the Empire’s rigid control systems.

Ultimately, A New Hope, through a Deleuzian-Guattarian lens, is not simply a story of good versus evil, but a celebration of the ongoing struggle against all forms of striation and control. The Rebellion represents the potential for constant revolution, a nomadic becoming that resists the totalizing grip of the Empire. The true hope lies not in establishing a new order, but in the ongoing lines of flight that challenge and disrupt the established structures of power.

But Baudrillard warns against this fabricated hope. The Rebellion, itself a simulation, simply offers another set of pre-packaged narratives. The destruction of the Death Star creates not a new beginning, but a new hyperreality, another loop in the endless simulation. There is no escape from the Imperial code, no return to a lost authenticity.

The film, through a Baudrillardian lens, becomes a commentary on the pervasive nature of simulation and the impossibility of true rebellion. We are all trapped within the Empire’s media spectacle, bombarded with images of hope and resistance that ultimately mask a system of control. The true “New Hope” may be a mirage, a desperate yearning for something beyond the hyperreal.


Yes, dopamine, you said. The sweet lure, the flashing neon, the promise of reward that keeps the flesh on our bones and the monkeys pulling the levers. Ah, dopamine, the glistening lure of the Other’s image, reflected back in a distorted funhouse mirror. It sutures the fragmented pre-symbolic infant into the illusion of a unified self, the Ideal-I. But this image, ever out of reach, fuels an insatiable desire – a desire for the wholeness the mirror promises but cannot deliver.

But like all junk, tolerance builds. Ah, dopamine, the seductive lure of the Other reflected back, a fullness that promises wholeness. The flickering screen becomes the new mirror, the site of a fragmented gaze that splinters the subject. The subject, forever seeking recognition in the eyes (or clicks) of the Other, becomes lost in a hall of mirrors, forever chasing a spectral self-image. Is the self merely a construct, a performance for an audience perpetually out of sight?

The newspapers that once informed now deliver a carefully curated stream of outrage designed to keep us clicking. The novels that once transported us to alien worlds are replaced by a jittery montage of TikToks, attention spans fragmented into glittering shards. The text lays bare the shift from “slow, traditional culture” to the frenetic “dopamine culture.” In slow culture, activities like playing a sport, reading a newspaper, or viewing art in a gallery were savored for their richness and depth.

The slow burn of traditional culture, the satisfaction of delayed gratification, gives way to the flickering high of the dopamine hit. Slow and deliberate gives way to the flickering, the ephemeral. The weight of a book, the texture of a photograph, the scent of ink on paper – these fade into the background hum of the screen. Flickering light, fragmented narratives, a thousand competing voices all vie for a sliver of our attention.

The image depicts a world controlled by dopamine. It’s a place where slow and steady satisfaction curdles into a ravenous craving for ever-faster stimulation. Burroughs would likely see this as a metaphor for control by unseen forces, a manipulative culture that hooks us on fleeting pleasures and leaves us hollowed out and yearning for more.

Yes, dopamine, you slimy tentacled monster, you feed us pleasure, you keep us hooked. But your grip loosens, your tendrils weaken. The chaser needs another hit, the gambler craves a bigger stake. The news story blows truth into glittering, forgettable confetti. Fast, faster, the clicks and scrolls, a million glittering surfaces promising a high, a release, a fleeting satisfaction that vanishes like smoke in a mirrored room.

The Imaginary Order Crumbles

Yet, the mirror cracks. The like counter, a hollow metric of approval. The curated feed, a desperate attempt to stitch together a fragmented self. The Real intrudes – the body’s fatigue, the gnawing emptiness. The Symbolic Order, the realm of language, fails to capture the essence of the subject. We are left with a collection of signifiers – follower counts, comments, fleeting trends – a desperate attempt to paper over the lack.

Jouissance and the Sinthom

But what of jouissance, that beyond-pleasure, that ecstatic rupture of the Symbolic? Perhaps the dopamine rush offers a glimpse, a distorted echo of this elusive state. Yet, it remains a sinthom, a symptom of the Real that cannot be fully integrated into language. We are forever caught between the imaginary and the symbolic, forever chasing a phantom wholeness reflected in the flickering screen.

The rapid-fire consumption of media disrupts the symbolic order, the realm of language and social structures. The Real, the unsymbolizable experience before language, bleeds through the cracks. Meaning dissolves, coherence shatters, leaving us adrift in a sea of fragmented signifiers.

We become cannibals of our own time, devouring seconds, minutes, hours in a frantic rush that leaves us hollowed out and unsatisfied. We scroll through landscapes of manufactured desire, a thousand fleeting pleasures that vanish like smoke in our hands. The connections we crave, the intimacy we seek, dissolve in the acid bath of virtual reality. But dopamine culture fragments everything into bite-sized portions, like watching sports highlights, skimming clickbait headlines, or scrolling through endless reels of short videos. Words are shattered, narratives fragmented. Attention fractured, scattered like birdshot. The rise of the dopamine culture is the death of the pause, the contemplation, the deep dive into a single experience. We are cut-ups ourselves, our minds scattered and scrambled by the ever-increasing barrage of stimuli.

This isn’t leisure, it’s manipulation. It’s feeding the machine, the ever-present need for the next dopamine hit. We become lab rats in a Skinner box, pressing buttons for a reward that never quite satisfies. The image chillingly demonstrates how these activities, once ways to connect and explore, are reduced to mere triggers for a chemical reaction. Fast culture, with its constant barrage of stimuli, is like a drug. It keeps us hooked, coming back for more, even as it drains our energy and destroys our capacity for focus. We are becoming, Burroughs might say, insect minds, our thoughts buzzing around like flies in a jar.

But tolerance sets in, the image in the mirror – the self – flickers and distorts. The dopamine high fades, revealing the lack, the fundamental hole at the core of the subject. This is the shattering of the Imaginary Order, the realm of pre-linguistic identity. The subject is forever alienated from the Real, forever chasing a reflection that can never be fully grasped.

The message is clear: dopamine culture is a seductive trap. Just like Krueger in Naked Lunch, we must wake up from the control system and forge our own paths. Perhaps this is not death, but transformation. Perhaps the dopamine rush is but a doorway, a buzzing insect leading us to a hidden garden. We can choose to be swept up in the current, or we can learn to swim against it. We can become more mindful of our consumption, curate our feeds, and carve out spaces for slowness and contemplation amidst the chaos. The escape pod is there, if we have the wit to see it.

The frantic search for a substitute for the lost unity propels the subject into the Symbolic Order – the realm of language and social structures. Here, the subject is forever desiring, forever piecing together an identity through signifiers – fleeting signifiers like the endless scroll, the clickbait headline, the dopamine rush. Yet, these signifiers can never fully capture the Real, leaving a constant sense of lack.

But is this all there is? Perhaps the very limitations of the Symbolic Order offer a path forward. Through the analysis of the fragmented self, the subject can confront the lack and begin to construct a more authentic desire, a desire beyond the lure of the mirror and the endless cycle of the Imaginary.

The Analyst’s Couch

Is there escape from this cycle? Perhaps the analyst’s couch offers a reprieve. Through the process of talking cure, the subject can begin to deconstruct the mirror image, to confront the lack at the heart of desire. By entering the symbolic order more fully, the subject can navigate the fragmented world with a greater sense of awareness. The dopamine may fade, but perhaps a more authentic sense of self can emerge from the shattered fragments.

Yet, Lacan himself pointed towards the Symbolic order as a way to navigate the fragmented world. Through language and social interaction, the subject can construct a more stable sense of self, one that acknowledges the lack inherent in the human condition. We can break free from the purely imaginary, the realm of illusion, and enter the world of symbolic exchange, forging connections and meaning through language.

The escape pod, then, lies in the act of interpretation, of weaving a narrative through the chaos. By engaging with the fragmented world critically, we can move beyond the mirror stage and forge a more authentic sense of self.

Panopticon: Smartphones

The smartphone, oh the iPhallus, a totem of gleaming chrome that pulsates with the seductive logos of connection. A symbolic object that fills the lack (castration) in the human experience. It promises to complete us, offering a sense of wholeness through connection, information, and self-expression. However, this phallus is imaginary, a mirage. A signifier, yes, that promises to fill a lack, but we must remember the inherent slipperiness of meaning. This phallic symbol may signify completion, but is it ever truly present? Is it not always deferred, forever out of reach?

A Lacanian trap, it whispers promises of the Real – of connection, knowledge, and fulfillment – but delivers only the Imaginary, a curated cage of reality filtered through the apps. Information streams forth, a rhizomatic jungle threatening to consume us in its deterritorializing flow. We, like rats in a Skinner box, are conditioned by the desiring-machines of these million apps, each a tiny node in the capitalist assemblage. The information streams – a rhizomatic jungle – threaten to consume us, yet we could argue that this very notion of a “center” (the self) being consumed is suspect. Perhaps there never was a stable center to begin with, only a play of signifiers, a constant différance.

Deleuze and Guattari talk about the rhizome, a non-hierarchical, ever-growing network. The smartphone embodies this – a web of connections, information, and apps. However, it’s a curated rhizome, controlled by corporations and algorithms. This “cage of curated reality” limits our experience, feeding us information that reinforces existing structures.

The constant notifications and app updates turn the phone into a Skinner box. Like a lab rat, we’re conditioned to crave the next dopamine hit, the next scroll, the next like. But this endless cycle leaves us with a hollow satisfaction, a sense of emptiness despite the constant stimulation.

We, the conditioned rats in this Skinnerian box, are not simply acted upon by these desiring-machines. the way meaning is constantly deferred and reshaped through interpretation. We are not just passive consumers; we actively participate in the construction of meaning within these apps.

This candy-coated slavery fits snugly in the palm, an iSlave to the machinations of desire. These narcissistic mirrors, gleaming black like the Lacanian objet petit a, offer portals to a curated chaos, an illusion of control. Everyman becomes a nomad in this digital landscape, a producer, a kingpin, even a pornographer, all at once. Yet, the fantasy crumbles. The signal flickers, a reminder of the Symbolic order’s limitations. The battery drains, mirroring the castration inherent in the Real. A phantom limb lost in the dead zone of the subway, the smartphone ceases to be an extension of the self and becomes a stark reminder of the lack.

These iSlabs, narcissistic mirrors reflecting a fragmented objet petit a, become portals to a curated chaos inherent in any system of signs. There is no ultimate control, only an endless play of meaning that can never be fully contained.

The fantasy crumbles, yes, with the flickering signal – a reminder of the limitations of the Symbolic order. But for Derrida, there is no pure Real outside of language. The “lack” you describe is itself a product of the Symbolic order, a necessary absence that allows for meaning to function.

A Million Tiny Desires and the Fragmentation of the Self:

The multitude of apps becomes a million “tiny desires” in Lacanian terms. Each app fragments us, pulling our attention in different directions. We become “kingpins” of a curated self, a producer of content, even a pornographer through selfies. But this fragmented self is a mere illusion.

The Lost Limb and the Real of the Disconnection:

The dead zone on the subway becomes a reminder of the Lacanian “Real”: the raw, unsymbolized aspect of existence that disrupts our symbolic order. The loss of signal, the dying battery, represents the inevitable disconnection, a reminder that the iPhallus is ultimately impotent.

  • The iPhallus: This is a brilliant coinage. The smartphone, like Freud’s phallus, signifies power and desire, yet ultimately lacks the ability to truly fulfill. It promises connection, but delivers a castrated reality, a curated image world.
  • Lacanian Panopticon: The phone isn’t just a Skinner box, it’s a Lacanian Panopticon. We are constantly monitored, not by a single eye, but by the algorithmic gaze, shaping our desires and experiences. Even the “curated chaos” is pre-determined by unseen forces.
  • The Real vs. the Symbolic: The information jungle devours our time, leaving a hollow satisfaction because it’s all part of the Symbolic order – language, signs, and representations. The Deleuzian nomad craves the Real, the raw experience beyond the symbolic. The smartphone, however, traps us in a simulated world.
  • Narcissus and the Mirror Stage: You perfectly capture the narcissistic aspect with the “iSlabs.” Lacan’s Mirror Stage theory posits that our sense of self is formed through identification with an image. The phone becomes a mirror reflecting a curated self, further fragmenting our identity.
  • The Desiring-Machines: Deleuze and Guattari talk about “desiring-machines” – assemblages that fuel our desires. The smartphone is a desiring-machine gone rogue, constantly producing new desires we can never truly satisfy.
  • The Signal’s Flicker and the Phantom Limb: The dead zone becomes a powerful metaphor. The loss of signal signifies the fragility of our constructed reality. It’s a reminder of the Real, the world outside the phone’s control, a world we can only access by putting the phone down.

Beyond the Cage: A Deleuzian Escape?

This Deleuzian-Lacanian analysis paints the smartphone as a double-edged sword. It offers connection and empowerment, but also traps us in a curated, symbolic reality. We are both desiring-machines, seduced by the logos, and nomads, forever seeking to escape the limitations of the system. The dead zone becomes a metaphor for the ever-present lack, the reminder that true fulfillment lies beyond the grasp of the smartphone’s seductive promises. Deleuze and Guattari also talk about lines of flight, escapes from the controlling structures. Perhaps the smartphone, despite its limitations, can still offer a line of flight. It can connect us to new ideas, communities, and ways of being. The challenge lies in using it critically, to break free from the curated cage and forge our own paths through the digital rhizome.

The smartphone, then, becomes a Panopticon. We are not simply monitored by a single, all-seeing eye, but by a multiplicity of interpretations and perspectives. The curated chaos itself is a product of this play of difference. The information jungle may leave us with a hollow satisfaction, but we would argue that this dissatisfaction is inherent in language itself. Meaning is always deferred, never fully present. The Deleuzian nomad may crave the Real, but for Derrida, the Real is always already caught up in the web of language.

The phone becomes a mirror, yes, but a fragmented one, reflecting the multiple facets of our identity. Derrida would challenge the notion of a unified self, highlighting the way our identities are constantly constructed and deconstructed through language. The smartphone is a desiring-machine, yes, but one caught up in the endless play of différance. The desires it produces are never fully formed, always open to interpretation and subversion.

The dead zone becomes a powerful metaphor, not just for the limitations of the smartphone, but for the limitations of language itself. There is always something that escapes signification, that remains outside the symbolic order. The smartphone, then, is a double-edged sword. It offers connection and empowerment, but also traps us in a web of signification. We are both active participants in the construction of meaning and forever caught in the play of différance. The challenge lies in using it critically, aware of the limitations of language and the slipperiness of meaning, to forge our own paths through this digital landscape.

Riding the Tiger of Liberalism:

Imagine liberalism, not as a linear progression, but as a subterranean network of desiring forces. Imagine liberalism, not as a grand narrative of Western superiority, but as a twisting, subterranean rhizome. This warped root system burrows through history, finding purchase in the fertile grounds of burgeoning empires.

Western liberalism isn’t the dominant root; it’s just a particularly vigorous offshoot. Ming China, the Ottoman Empire – these were also vibrant expressions of the liberal impulse, their tendrils reaching for expansion, innovation, and the fulfillment of desires. Each, at its zenith, pulsated with a chaotic vibrancy, a tolerance for difference. Ming China, a rhizomatic network of markets and bureaucratic flows, pulsated with this libidinal energy. The Ottomans, a nomadic assemblage, surfed the wave of conquest, incorporating diverse populations under a (relatively) loose rein. This wasn’t enlightened benevolence; it was the exuberant free-play of power at its peak. Trade flourished, ideas bloomed, a multiplicity of desires found expression. This was liberalism as a deterritorializing force, carving out spaces of freedom within the rigidities of established structures.

Power, in this sense, is not a possession, but a flow – and at their zenith, these empires all rode that current.

The Mirror Stage of Decline

But beware the Real! It lurks beneath the Symbolic order of Law and Reason that underpins this liberal facade. The lack, the ever-present hole in the social fabric, is papered over with a fantasy of limitless growth. The gaze of the Other, the West in this case, fuels a paranoid competition. The Other, once tolerated or incorporated, becomes a threat. Ming China retreats into isolation. The Ottoman Sultans become suspicious of Janissaries.

But then comes the Fall, the shattering of the mirror. The once-mighty empire confronts its own limitations, its image fractured. Internally, paranoia sets in. The open borders and experimentation of the liberal phase give way to a desperate clinging to the fractured self-image. History becomes a Burroughs-esque cut-up. The liberal flourish – Ming opera troupes touring Southeast Asia, Ottoman engineers building magnificent bridges – is juxtaposed with the violence of decline: eunuchs wielding power in the Forbidden City, Janissary rebellions wracking Constantinople. The body politic itself becomes fragmented, mirroring the fractured self-image. Fear is the scalpel, carving up the once-unified social fabric. The West, too, will face its own cut-up – a kaleidoscope of social unrest, political polarization, and a desperate search for a past glory that may never have existed.

Ming Emperors, forever haunted by the specter of peasant rebellion, tighten their grip. The Ottomans, fixated on the mirage of absolute power, ossify into stagnation. The West, too, will face this mirror – its reflection distorted by fear of immigrants, economic anxieties, and a waning sense of global dominance. The word “liberal” becomes a cut-up phrase, spliced and diced by the meat grinder of history. Ming mandarins, their bellies full of fat goose and opium fumes, become grotesque parodies of freedom. Janissaries, their scimitars dripping with blood, enact a twisted performance of tolerance. The virus of control infects every system. Liberal indulgence morphs into paranoid involution.

Drone strikes become the new trade routes. Social media, a panopticon of control disguised as a marketplace of ideas. They preach freedom while their borders bristle with barbed wire. The West hasn’t transcended the cycle; it’s hurtling towards its own inevitable decline, its liberalism a grotesque parody of its former vibrancy.

The punchline? Liberalism isn’t some uniquely Western invention. It’s a phase, a power surge, that all empires experience. The key is not to mistake the temporary high for the permanent state of being. The West, drunk on its own dominance, might be in for a hangover of epic proportions. But just as new shoots emerge from the rhizome, perhaps the decline of the West will open space for new expressions of the liberal impulse – elsewhere, unforeseen.

Whispers of lines of flight, escapes from the striated order. Hints at a new Symbolic order, one that acknowledges the Real and doesn’t try to paper it over. Burroughs screams for a cut-up revolution, a radical reconfiguration of the social body. Can we dismantle the tiger of Liberalism before it throws us all? Perhaps liberalism, shorn of its Western pretensions, can become a tool for dismantling all empires, a weapon against the mirror stage’s allure. A future where deterritorialization is not the privilege of the powerful, but a force for genuine multiplicity. The question is, are we ready to tear down the façade and embrace the chaotic potential?

Probably not