So successful has been my disconnect with Islam (!) that I forgot it was the Muslim anniversary of the Mi’raj and Isra over the weekend, until a Facebook post reminded of this movie I produced on the meaning of these events three years ago.
Rewatching, a few things occurred to me:
- I have been unwavering in my psychoanalytic comportment to the world: throughout my journey, the Lacanian stance has been perennial (or at least seasonal). This is obvious to an external observer. But it wasn’t obvious at the time to me: it is the totems of 20th century psychoanalysis that were my regulating functions, totems of a deeply repressed Reality (the Reality of “me”), repression following from my attempts to engage with the ancient traditions of Islam and Sufism. The film captures a moment at which this repressed Reality emerged and intersected with the traditions and texts I had attempted to wear as my own garment — intersection of my Reality with the very texts I had worn to blanket that Reality — a moment, therefore, of rupture and pleasure.
- This is the personal meaning of: “I can understand the timeless meaning of these texts through the framing device of Lacanian psychoanalysis.” That my conflation of psychoanalysis with sufism is, effectively, a phallic proxy for the Real itself, intruding upon my symbolic relationship with Islam, genealogy, genetics, the body. Of course, a native Muslim can chose to interpret the religion he embodies in the manner he sees fit — but for me, the dis-embodied Muslim, the genetic simulacrum — it’s not a question of interpretation (as it would be for a Muslim), it is a question of re-emergence of my personal psychological Reality (into my constructed identity, my iman-forgery). Therefore, not an interpretation, but a erection. The totem/phallus for my physical reality — this is what I refer to, what manifested itself, mysteriously, in my speech as the “Real”. My “Real/Symbolic” distinction is a proxy for the Real: it’s an ecstatic, totemic crystallization of something much bigger and badder than mere Names/Prophets of God. I offer analogies, I say “the Prophets of Islam are symbolic manifestations of aspects of Lacan’s Real”. None of those words are important or interesting, per se: the interesting point is that my statement itself is a symbolic manifestation of aspects of my Real.
- Normally this phallic intrusion would be castrative — according to classical psychoanalysis. But in this case it isn’t — it is an ecstatic, empowering crystallized manifestation. Effectively, the intrusion becomes the Body of Christ (versus the world it unifies), the Communist Party (versus the proletariat it represents) and the elitist, single-voiced Western Tailor (versus the democratic, discursive, Orientally multiplicitous Islamic tradition he claims to be the hafiz and vanguard for).
- When the party’s over, the totem/statement becomes castrative, because of the Real mismatch, the physical incompatibility, between the tradition’s Reality and mine. The tradition’s symbolism: this I can speak of with fevour and passion. The totem for this greater reality emerges through my speech. But the tradition’s reality intrudes (or, more positively, the Reality of the Real/Symbolic as a totem, the Reality of the totemic nature of the proxy phallus intrudes): this time resulting in realisation and then castrative censorship (burning of the Satanic Verses, shooting of Danish cartoonists, the fall of the Soviet union, departure), followed by careful evasion and shifting grounds in a capitalist marketplace. And a shift away from the inflamed phallic/totem — to the kind of libidinal negotiation with my Reality that I am describing right now, that must result from my (current) field of reference (no longer party to the proletariat, the tailor to an ummah or logos to the world), but instead an agent of capitalism, a trader who barters with the shards of the broken orbs of culture, language, genetics, sexuality.
- The meaning of the 7 heavens, the meaning of the prophets as symbols: this had libidinal significance for me, at the point of this intersection. But that meaning is lost in translation, so to speak, as I shift from one life to another. The higher-order meaning I take from that experience is engendered and carried via reflection upon the intersection, upon significance, upon reflection.