Commentaries, Contemplation

On Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Clinical Contexts, Theory, and Practice

“The sufferings of neurosis and psychosis are for us a schooling in the passions of the soul, just as the beam of the psychoanalytic scales, when we calculate the tilt of its threat to entire communities, provides us with an indication of the deadening of the passions in society.” —Jacques Lacan

Today, we are going to take a different turn to how I have been approaching psychoanalysis and pedagogy. In nearly all my other writings, I’ve been introducing you to the fundamentals of psychoanalysis through common everyday examples. Here, I will show you how desire, love, Other, and transference, plays a fundamental role in clinical psychoanalysis. I will give you an idea on how psychoanalysis works under a clinical setting and show you why “talk therapy” involves much more than just talking.

I will introduce the famous “Freudian slip” and the symptoms of obsessive neurosis, hysteria and show you how they operate in opposing ways at a fundamental level. Finally, we will also look at two critical discourses of Lacanian psychoanalysis: the hysteric and the analyst discourse. This means we will get to interpret more of Lacan’s crazy graphs together. 😲

As usual, this post assumes you read my other Lacanian writings that are hyperlinked here: Part I, II, III, and IV. I will be making a new menu on this site that consists of all my writings on Lacanian psychoanalysis.

Happy reading split subjects!

The Freudian Slip and Half-Said

“There are no mistakes.” —Sigmund Freud

In Part I, I introduced the fundamentals on how the human subject is always split and divided by the symbolic Other. As the child recognizes themselves in the mirror, they begin to form wholeness in their identity and who they are. This assemblage is castrated and split by the laws and desires that their parental figures imposes on them which transforms into the child’s Other.

Once the child learns to speak, they learn to give up (repress) certain desires that are forbidden as they grow up. They become a split subject through the effects of the symbolic Other, where everything they say consists of a repressed thoughts. emotions, and feelings that goes missing through the words that they say. Often times, the Other can take many forms, which begins with the patient’s parents, all the way to their work, friends, and things like the news and social media.

In the same way that when we love someone, we are unconsciously in love with someone else, when we express our desires through our words, we are also desiring for something else. The meanings that we intend actually means something else that are unconscious to us due to repression. The fixation to the cause of desire are human attempts to sustain their desires for something or someone else. Human communication is messy in that we do not mean what we say at an unconscious level. Further more, the interpretations of our own and other people’s words are also warped by our unconscious desires and projections.

The idea that something is always missing and repressed when we speak is what Lacan refers as “half-said”. In a clinical setting, everything that the patient says are only half said, where their conscious thoughts are produced through the articulation of symbolic words, as their repressed experience goes missing (the +1 and -1 that I spoke about in Part I). Since everything is always half-said, it would make sense to say that, the general goal of psychoanalysis is to draw the patient’s attention to what is not said. As a split subject, one does not simply use language to articulate their thoughts. Rather, it is language that speaks through us and alienates us from what is not said.

Hence, it is fair to say that people don’t say what they mean. In fact, the things people say often means something else that they are entirely unconscious of. This is largely due to the result of repression where unconscious affects are attached to conscious thoughts and memories, revealing itself only in fragments. This can happen anytime when the neurotic talks about their thoughts, dreams, and fantasies. The desire, love, and demands that are reflected off words turns out to be a desire for something or someone else. There is always some form of ambiguity that is left in our daily spoken words that neurotics are unaware of due to the experience of repression.

This leads us to Freud’s famous idea called, the “slip of the tongue” or simply, “the Freudian slip” where people accidently says something that they did not consciously mean. It is the point where fragments of unconscious thoughts briefly surfaces into consciousness. Hence, Freud thinks there are no “accidents” when we speak. What we perceive as accidents in our words and meanings are slips of the tongue that are worthy of interrogation.

In a clinical setting, these slips happens quite often, but not in the way most people think—such as when someone says “French Fries”, they actually meant their “mother”, as some might put it.  It is through speaking and analyzing these accidents where humans produces truths and interpretations about their unconscious mind. Truths are discovered and produced through what we believe to be errors in our conscious thoughts. In psychoanalysis, there is no such thing as coincidence. Error produces truth.

This idea of half-said and slips of the tongue can be seen in most people’s childhood when our parents makes demands and desires which sets expectations for us in the house. Parents will often tell you what they desire and demand from you. And in order for us to be liked by the Other, we conform to their desires. We desire what they desire because our desires is the Other’s desire. Yet ironically, you may notice how parents will only tell you the things that they do not want from you rather than what they truly want. At times, they might not even tell you, but simply punish you after you had already committed wrongful gestures. As a result, the child is often left wondering: “What does the Other want?” (Che Vuoi?; I spoke about this in Part II).

The child produces a fantasy to what the Other wants who may become said desire, even if it is a misrecognition which leads them away from what they unconsciously desire (their repression). The child may eventually come to realize that people do not mean what they say. And what a parent declares as their desires, such as the expectations for the child, is a desire for something else. For example, a parent can tell their child to become a doctor when they grow up, even when it can mean something else entirely (Part II)—such as the parent’s desire for you to become what they had always failed to be when they were young. Or they may tell you to not become who they wanted to be because they had always failed to become said person. They want you to be an ordinary person who is capable of surviving in the world, and not an extraordinary person who inspires change. They want you to fit into their future plans and somehow accommodate them instead of serving what you truly desire.

People often abide to the Other’s desires without consciously recognizing what they truly desire. This is the primary symptom of a neurotic, for it is what defines repression. The Other or super-ego sets the stage for repression of the split subject by forcing them to pass through it like a filter. Certainly, psychoanalysis involves helping the analysand discover what they truly desire—such as what is not said in their daily spoken words.

Nonetheless, the enigmas of the parent’s demands and desires are often left unresolved by the child which tends to spring up in their adult life through different ways, from their dreams, fantasies, and conscious thoughts. This idea is known as the “return of the repressed” and is incredibly important for us to understand, for it is usually within the patient’s childhood experiences that leads to their symptoms in adult life. The adult patient transfers these values, desires, and demands, and competition with siblings  onto their future relationships without knowing due to the experience of repression and half-said. The more the child abides to the Other’s desires, the less they will satisfy themselves and the stronger these repressions will become. The more the split subject reinforce their conscious thoughts (ego), the further away they are from the truth of their unconscious desires.

The Opening of the Unconscious Mind

“Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.” —Sigmund Freud

One of the things that we can take away from the phenomena of half-said 0r the slip of the tongue is the idea that the things we say is never what we really mean. Or as we will later see, the things that people desire is not what they truly desire. No doubt, this has to do with the effects of the symbolic and repression. We will gradually gain a clearer picture on how this type of repression takes place.

During a session, it isn’t so much about what the patient meant to say than what they actually said during the session. Often times, when we consciously become aware of the things that we mistakenly said, we would immediately correct it. The thought of, “What I really meant was…”, implies their consciousness trying to correct their slips of the tongue. When the patient attempts to correct what they said, they are resisting their unconscious mind to surface as they deny the ambiguities to their thoughts. They are neglecting that perhaps, what they said actually means something else other than what they think they meant through their consciousness. The errors and the things the patient says reveals truths about their unconscious mind.

On the surface, it may seem like the analyst just sits there and sponges up whatever the patient says to them. The analyst is not a passive listener. Near the beginning stages of all clinical sessions which can take up to 1 to 2 years, the goal is to produce the proper space for the analysand to desire and doubt their conscious thoughts.

This is achieved through the way the analyst articulates their words by always leaving something left for the analysand to desire. Just as the meanings of words spoken by a politician is determined by their political oppositions, media, and the masses. The meanings of the analysand’s words during a session is also often determined by the analyst, simply because they are the “subject supposed to know”; the person who is supposed to know all the solutions to the patient’s symptoms. This is why the analyst must pay extra attention to what they tell the patient. When the patient speaks, it is the analyst’s job to redirect and reflect their attention to the things they say. The analyst must make space for the patient to question their conscious thoughts, Freudian slips, projections, transferences, fantasies, dreams, desires and where they come from.

In the early stages of psychoanalysis, analysts will avoid closing off interpretation and meaning to the things the patient says. Instead, they will speak and respond to the patient in ways where their words are left ambiguous. One of the ways the analyst achieves this is by offering suggestions, possibility and ambiguity to a variety of meanings in the patient’s words. Other times, it can be a simple way of wording something through the clever use of punctuation. Another way is the famous Lacanian method where the analyst cuts the session short in an attempt to interrupt the symptoms that the analyst sees in the patient. While it may seem like a waste of money to attend a session only to have the analyst end it prematurely, the goal of this gesture is to make the patient ask, “What was it I said that made them cut my session short?”. The very fact that the patient may begin to suspect and doubt the things they said which led to their short sessions is the main objective of this Lacanian move.

Over time, the analysand will eventually open up their own unconscious mind, prop up their desires, which drives them to explore the ambiguity to their conscious thoughts and words (because everything is half-said). This is a good example as to what I meant when I spoke of how psychoanalysis is about besieging the fortified castle—which amounts to getting the patient to besiege their own conscious thoughts and their social constructs of reality (in Part IV).

The last thing an analyst wants to do at the beginning of psychoanalysis is to give the patient a solid definitive interpretation to the things they say. Not only would this fortify the closure of interpretation and fail to open up the space of the patient’s desire so to analyze their conscious thoughts and Freudian slips, the analyst may also set themselves up as another person (ego) competing with the patient. It is sort of like how siblings might compete for the mother’s attention at a young age.

If for example, the analyst states what they really think (their interpretations of the patient’s words), the patient may take those words as a way to adjust their ego appropriately without affecting their unconscious mind. In this scenario, psychoanalysis is rendered useless where the analyst functions not much different to the patient’s significant other, friends, siblings or parents who asserts certainty of meanings onto them. This can be seen when you see parents who tries to calm their child down after they had a bad dream by helping them interpret its contents. Instead of opening up room for possibilities and interpretation of the child’s unconscious, the parents asserts various meanings on the child’s dream for their ego to adjust to.

The analyst’s job is to never be where the patient thinks. Their job is to be unpredictable so they can arouse the patient’s curiosity and prop up their desires so to make them question their thoughts. By doing this, the analyst becomes the enigma of desire; or precisely, the object cause of desire (will return to this later). Typically, the analyst will begin to know they have become object a for the patient the moment they start talking about having dreams where the analyst is in it.

This is why psychoanalysts will often strike most people as elusive and enigmatic figures—especially during psychotherapy. In the beginning stages, their entire function is to become sort of like a mirror where they redirect projections and transferences that the analysand places on the analyst back towards themselves and make them question and examine these projections, which are usually misrecognitions. As we can begin to see, the psychoanalytic setting is somewhat reminiscent to the mirror stage!

The psychoanalyst’s job is to remain ambiguous who holds the position of the Other. Such position is different to the Other of the patient’s partner, who might not want them to get psychoanalyzed or continues to impose various meanings and interpretations onto them. The analyst must function as the placeholder of the analysand’s love and knowledge. As I mentioned in Part III, the analyst is to temporarily function as the analysand’s “right person”. When achieved, the analyst becomes one of the most powerful positions in psychoanalysis. It is from this position where the analyst can make clinical maneuvers on the patient’s unconscious mind as they project all their transferences onto them under a clinical environment.

One simple example would be from Freud’s most famous patient known as the “Rat Man”. The Rat Man was an obsessive neurotic who had been abused by his father at a young age and always had fantasies and dreams about rats. During one of his sessions, the Rat Man unconsciously transferred his past trauma of his father beating him onto Freud, where Freud took position as the Rat Man’s father without the Rat Man recognizing (just like how our desires warps our perceptions of the other person when we first meet them; see Part III). Instead of Freud responding to him like his father would (to beat him), Freud spoke to him calmly. The Rat Man was surprised (love) that Freud didn’t beat him like his father would.

What we can see here is how the analyst must never conform to the desires, demands, transferences and projections that the analysand imposes onto them. Instead, the analyst must constantly surprise the analysand (love) and show them how these projections that the analysand imposes onto the analyst are their wishful projections and fantasies—a misrecognition that originates from their previous partners or from their childhood.

Nevertheless, it is only when the patient begins to doubt and question their thoughts, desires, and meanings in their half-said words, where they transform from a patient into a psychoanalysand. Once this is achieved, the real psychoanalytic work begins.

Obsessive Neurosis

“Obsessional does not necessarily mean sexual obsession, not even obsession for this, or for that in particular; to be an obsessional means to find oneself caught in a mechanism, in a trap increasingly demanding and endless.”  —Jacques Lacan

Obsessive neurotics are most commonly diagnosed in men. They are the type of people who denies and rejects the unconscious mind through the act of thinking. The obsessive’s primary symptom is the repression of the Other where they try to maintain their fantasy of being a complete subject who does not lack.

An obsessive feels most alive when he is thinking in his conscious thoughts. The obsessive wants to be the master of his own house and neglect the unconscious mind and the Other altogether (I am referencing Martin Heidegger’s, “Language is the house of being”). Obsessives don’t recognize how the things they think about comes from an “elsewhere”—namely, their repressions via unconscious mind. This is why you sometimes hear psychoanalysts talk about how their initial objectives for dealing with an obsessive is to “hystericize” them in order to start clinical psychoanalysis. Hence, in Part III, I pointed out how femininity (hysteria) is a dialectic with masculinity (obsessive).

If you attend a course that introduces psychoanalysis, the obsessive neurotic is the person who rejects the existence of the unconscious mind, or the one who thinks that they can solve their own problems by thinking through them without any help from Others. In fact, the more severe the symptoms of an obsessive person is, the more unlikely they will seek for help. Perhaps aside from other social impositions such as gender expectations and gender roles, this is one of the reasons why men are usually the last ones who seeks for mental health support—largely because they are obsessive neurotics who thinks they have everything “under control”, even when this is far from the case. It may also be the reason why the suicide rates of men are significantly higher than women.

Since the main symptom of obsessive neurosis is annihilating the Other, they may for example, avoid seeking for the Other’s presence; such as the psychoanalyst who functions as the “subject supposed to know”. Obsessives are people who refuses to get help from others because they think they can do everything by themselves (they neglect the Other). Thus, an obsessive would be reminiscent to the things most men might say, “Some problems are best kept to myself and dealt with internally”.

The obsessive is the person who represses their unconscious mind by attempting to overcome it through uninterrupted thinking to the point where it almost becomes masturbatory. They often strike others as fiercely independent who does not need anybody in their lives other than themselves. The stereotypical obsessive neurotic are your “self-made” man where they live their life against the Other’s wishes, such as the desires of their parents, lovers, and so on. In fact, the obsessive’s entire life may very well turn into a protest against his parents while nevertheless satisfying their desires in ways that are unconscious to them.

When spoken to, they are the type of people who can talk on and on as if they want to trample over everyone else’s words and the Other’s presence. It might be even better for them to talk to a rock and not to another person (Other) or psychoanalyst, even if that is exactly what they need. In short, obsessives don’t want the Other to intrude their thoughts. They do not want the Other to appear in their conscious mind because they want to become a complete subject who are in control, even when they are always already split subjects. Yet, they never escape the impositions of the Other. In fact, as much as they think they are in control of their thoughts, they are always already succumbing to the Other’s desires without consciously recognizing it. The more they try to annihilate or ignore the Other, the more repressed and alienated they become.

During intercourse, the obsessive may completely negate the Other person by consciously (and unconsciously) fantasizing that they are with someone else or fetishize certain body parts (in the same way that the hysteric will imagine themselves as another woman—I will get to this). They may always want to have the TV turned on, have music on, so to keep the Other at bay. The moment the Other intrudes the obsessive’s mind, they are usurped by the Other’s presence which may lead to impotence (erectile dysfunction). The obsessive must always draw themselves away from the Other via fantasies and imagination in order to sustain his desires. This is why analysts refers to the desire of the obsessive neurotic as “impossibility” (versus the hysteric which is “unsatisfaction”). It is impossible because the moment the obsessive confronts the presence of the Other (i.e. the symbolic filter and their repressions), they are reminded that they are castrated incomplete subjects. Which is the opposite to what they have been trying to convince themselves in their lives, and subsequently shapes their symptoms.

Often times, in order for the obsessive to annihilate the Other, they may set standards for their romantic partners so high that no woman can ever reach. This is why Freud once spoke of two types of women for obsessive neurotics: the Madonna and the mother figure. The former who functions as sexual excitement and object a who cannot be loved but only lust over (for sex and short term relationships), and the latter as someone who he loves and adores as his love object. Hence, the famous Freudian saying that excessive love kills desire, and excessive desire kills love.

In a clinical setting, the obsessive must be “hystericized” where they are forced into the presence of the Other. This is done so to open up the Other’s desires and makes the obsessive ask what the Other wants versus what they truly want. Indeed, the goal is to break through the obsessives’ defensive mechanisms so they become aware that there are ambiguities and alternate meanings and desires to the words they say which has been repressed. 


“The hysteric, whose body is transformed into a theatre for forgotten scenes, relives the past, bearing to a lost childhood that survived in suffering.” —Catherine Clément

Hysteria is most commonly diagnosed in women whose desires are much more complex than an obsessive neurotic. A hysteric is someone who wants to become the Other’s desire where they want to master their knowledge. This idea stems from the hysteric’s youth, on how they want to become the object for their mOther’s desire, as no mother is complete without their child. The hysteric is someone who wants to become what lacks in the Other. They will achieve this by making sure that the Other never gets satisfied because people want what they cannot have.

In reality, the hysteric’s Other is usually their boyfriend, husband, or significant other, who are the ones that expresses their desires; and in their early life, the Other is usually their mother, father, siblings, or caretakers. This is why you will notice how hysterics will often embody their significant Other’s knowledge in some way, where they desire what the Other desire, and knows what they know. The hysteric is someone who needs a master (often times, it is an obsessive neurotic)—someone who has power and knowledge that they can achieve mastery over. This idea is often known as the “lack for the Other’s knowledge”.

While this widely varies between individuals, the stereotypical hysteric might appear as someone who always needs to be with someone, or they always need to be in a relationship, to have a bestfriend, and so on. A hysteric always wants to be in the Other’s presence because they want to become the Other’s desire in ways that they are unconscious of. They want to be the object cause of desire for the Other (“I am yours!”). And when they do, some of them will show off every facet of their lives and flaunt it on social media, at parties and public spaces so the Other can see. A number of hysterics wants to put on a show for the Other. This is why they often take pleasure in occupations where attention is drawn to themselves where they try to keep the Other unsatisfied by becoming their lack.

Indeed, one of the major symptoms of hysteria is their strategy to deprive the Other of satisfaction so to maintain themselves as the object cause of desire. Perhaps the most common example would be to deny sex; or to make themselves as unattainable object of desire because people want what they cannot have. In many occasions, the way the hysteric becomes the object for the Other may allude to how their mother resembled as an object for their father in childhood. Other times, they may become an object that the father desired for them to become when they grow up. As a result, this may lead the adult hysteric to go after certain types of relationships and select certain partners over others, even if these choices might not be what they truly desire.

This phenomenon can be seen in Bruce Fink’s patient of a woman named Jeanne (a fake name to protect the identity of the real person) where her husband cheated on her and treated her poorly. Jeanne always complained about her husband’s overly protective and unfaithful behaviors, but always refused to divorce him. What she remained unconscious of is how her refusal to divorce her husband and her frustrated relationship with him was due to her transference in the way Jeanne’s mother was treated by her father. In many ways, Jeanne became the object of desire for her mOther (she became her mother) which is why she refused to divorce her husband; in the same way that Jeanne’s mother refused to divorce her father. Jeanne even recalled a time where her father told her how “she is the son he never had”, where she ends up unconsciously spending her entire life to become her father’s son and becomes frustrated in her life for the same reason. Here, we can clearly see how Jeanne is a hysteric who embraced the Other’s desires, respectively of her mother and father’s.

The more the hysteric tries to become the object of the Other’s desire, the more they repress their true desires. As the hysteric attempts to become an object for the Other, they become someone who they are not. Simply put, they become another woman—such as the woman defined by their partner, or the woman set by the standards of society, social media, parents, friends, etc. Just as the more obsessive a man is, the more they repress the Other. The more severe the symptoms of the hysteric, the more they will try to satisfy the Other’s desires, and the more repressed they become. We can recall in Part IV, on the example of the woman who enjoyed sleeping with many men only when she got really drunk. She did so only for her to realize that this was how her father sexually abused her when she was young. The woman became the object of the father’s desire where she transferred said experience into her adult life.

This idea is incredibly important for us to understand, as it brings us into discourses such as women’s liberation and feminism. Though we must keep in mind that psychoanalysts are not trying to be political or oppress women. Many of them are simply describing a common pattern that they observe from all their patients everyday at their jobs. In the quest for becoming the object for the Other, the hysteric will embody and become another woman, such as their partner’s ideal woman. They may even fantasize themselves as another person. Feminists often criticizes this psychoanalytic observation, even when some of them discounts the idea that, since hysterics unconsciously positions themselves to become the Other’s desire, they may even embody the desires of a man where they become one (this idea originates from psychoanalysts Joan Riviere and Earnest Jones who referred to it as “homosexual femininity”). As a result, this leads to the famous question that all hysterics asks: “Am I a man or a woman?”.

We can think of the film, Molly’s Game (based on true story) where Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) produces her underground gambling empire through her desire to “control powerful men”. For much of the film, she does so by mastering the man’s desire and knowledge where she becomes like a man who takes charge. Not only is she the object of desire for other men, she embodies all of the men’s desires as her own. Near the end of the film, it is revealed that her desires are driven by her feelings towards her father and her unconscious recognition that he cheated on her mother. His father, who happens to be a respectable psychoanalyst, analyzes her by providing his interpretation of her unconscious mind that hits the Real. During this scene, he shows what happens when the psychoanalyst intervenes the analysand’s failure to articulate the Real into the Symbolic (i.e. Bloom’s failure to articulate her repression into words on her symptoms). His father’s interpretation of her behaviors reveals as a surprise to Bloom, where she realizes that her desire to have control over powerful men was unconsciously driven by her relationship with her father. Bloom wanted to embody the power and knowledge of her father and rebel against him which sublimated into her desire to have control over powerful men in her life. No doubt, what she had set to achieve in her underground gambling career to control powerful men functioned as a metaphor to have control of her father so he would not cheat on her mother. And it is at this moment where the knot that produced all of her symptoms for much of the film gets untied which “cured” her. During this ending scene, Bloom’s father not only became the “right person”, he became the “right father” who confessed his guilt as to why he treated her the way he did as she grew up. Love cured Bloom’s symptoms.

Unlike obsessives, hysterics are much more open to psychoanalysis and different forms of therapy because the analyst or therapist will function as the hysteric’s Other where they will try to master their desires. Yet, this is what makes them a huge challenge to psychoanalyze. During clinical sessions, the hysteric will try to force the analyst to reveal their knowledge and master their desires. They will attempt to turn the analyst against themselves and win their approval. In other words, the hysteric wants to become the psychoanalyst’s Other (their desires) where they adjust their ego accordingly. This gesture is the complete opposite to what needs to be done in order to relieve the hysteric’s symptoms.

It isn’t about the hysteric who goes to the analyst and asks, “What is wrong with me?” (which is another way for asking, “What do you want?”),  in which the analyst might say, “You have X and Y ” where the hysteric may conform to the analyst’s desires. Rather, the analyst’s job is to turn the hysteric around and make them ask themselves, “What do I really want?” and not what the Other wants from them. Hence as I mentioned in Part II, the goal of psychoanalysis is to make the patient ask what the Other wants versus what they want.

Yet ironically, when the hysteric is confronted with said question and are given the freedom to choose, they usually won’t know what they truly want because it has been repressed. And even if they consciously think they know what they desire, it is often the Other’s desire. In this case, the hysteric either tries to produce their own desires and discover what they truly want, or they find another person’s desires to master where they give up on psychotherapy (they give up besieging their fortified castle and forfeits discovering the truth of their desires).

The goal for the psychoanalyst is to turn the hysteric around from the Other’s desires so they can be given a chance to discover what they truly desire. The hysteric must, in some sense, stop receiving knowledge from the Other altogether (i.e. the mother, father, siblings, spouse, friends, social media, psychoanalyst, etc.). Of course in most cases, none of this is trying to suggest that the hysteric should divorce or break up with their significant Other, even if some cases may warrant this, such as the example of Jeanne. Rather, it is to make them realize that all of their conscious choices where they feel like they are “in control” turns out to be predetermined by their tyrannical super-ego (Other) that they are unconscious of. The more they try to unconsciously become the Other’s desire, such as Jeanne trying to become her mother and father’s desire, the worse her repressions become. This is where we start to see what Lacan meant when he said that our desire is the Other’s desire. It is also why I said in Part IV, on how in order for us to desire, we must always be with the wrong person. But if this is the case, how can psychoanalysts relieve the symptoms of the hysteric?

In order to make the hysteric produce the truth of their repressions, they must as what Lacanians would say, change their subjective positions into an analyst position. These so called “positions” are what Lacan famously refers as “discourse” that are illustrated below. They are what Lacan considered as one of his greatest contributions to the field of psychoanalysis, especially the analyst’s discourse.


In the hysteric’s discourse, we see the hysteric as the split subject ($) in the top left who addresses the Other and forces them to reveal their knowledge and desires as defined in the top right as S1 (the master signifier such as the psychoanalyst; in real life, it would be the hysteric’s significant other, parents, etc.). As a result, it produces S2 (knowledge) in the bottom right where the hysteric masters the Other’s knowledge. Meanwhile, you see the hysteric repressing object a in the bottom left corner which resembles the truth of their desires that points to the hysteric, such as the repression of memories and knowledge that causes the hysteric’s desires and symptoms as a split subject.

However, in the analyst’s discourse, the psychoanalyst functions as the object cause of desire (a) in the top left who puts the hysteric or hystericized obsessive neurotic to work in the top right ($). The hysteric or hystericized obsessive is forced into the position of the Other via clinical psychoanalysis as they free associate and analyze the ambiguity of their thoughts (they besiege the fortified castle in their mind). The analyst turns the hysteric around from “What do you want?” (or “What is wrong with me?”),  to “What do I want?”. As a result, the hysteric/obsessive produces S1, the master signifier, where the they create new knowledge to the ambiguities of their conscious thoughts that gets unraveled from their unconscious mind. Finally, the psychoanalyst has S2 (knowledge) in the bottom left that they repress as they must always be aware of what they say to the analysand during clinical sessions. Moreover, the analyst must be aware of their own transferences that they project onto the analysand (known as “countertransference”). After all, no analyst should fall in love with their patient, even if their job is to temporarily function as the placeholder of their love and knowledge.

Here, I would like to quickly draw your attention to how each position of the hysteric and analyst discourse are rotated clock-wise by what Lacan refers as the “quarter turn” (it is related to German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel). In Lacanian psychoanalysis, there are a total of five discourses: master, university, hysteric, analyst, and capitalist; the last on this list was only briefly mentioned by Lacan (capitalist discourse), but later expanded by Slavoj Zizek. I won’t speak much further about these discourses today. They are best left for another time.

Quick Summary and Strategies for Neurosis

The neurotic symptoms that I described are quite common in the everyday person. In many cases, they are often seen as normal. These symptoms may also exist in different forms where hysterics will display obsessive traits and vice versa. Yet each individual will carry a fundamental clinical structure and fantasy that drives their symptoms. In Lacanian school, there is no such thing as someone who has a “borderline” personality. They are either one or the other. Often times, when a Lacanian analyst thinks someone is borderline hysteric or obsessive, it is often due to inexperience. This is why diagnosing someone requires a lot of clinical experience and good analytic skills.

To be sure, neurosis cannot be completely cured. This means the hysteric will always be a hysteric, and an obsessive will always be an obsessive. One of the main difference between someone who has gone through a successful analysis and a person who hasn’t is that the former has becomes aware of their symptoms, repressions, and what produces them, whereas the latter who never went into analysis are still unknown to why they do certain things in their lives and suffers from endless impositions of the Other. Once truth and knowledge about their symptoms are gained, it becomes a matter of negotiating with the Other, so to speak.

To quickly summarize. The hysteric is someone who cannot stand talking to no one because they must always have the Other looking at her where they force the Other’s knowledge so they can master their desires. Whereas the obsessive could talk to himself all day where they do not want anyone to take position of the Other. The obsessive uses conscious thoughts to produce an illusion of a complete subject who has full control of their subjectivity by annihilating the Other, even when they are already repressed by the Other’s desires. Whereas the hysteric attempts to become the object cause of desire for the Other as they become another person, even when they are not such person. Yet, what is unique about hysteria is that the hysteric does not only try to achieve mastery of the Other, they also exceed the Other’s desire by overturning their mastery and taking its place. In some ways, the hysteric transgresses beyond the Other.

This is why Lacanians will talk about how masculinity (obsessive neurosis) is a question of “belief”, and femininity (hysteria) is a question of “pretense”. The former believes they have full control of their subjectivity, even when they don’t. And the latter pretends they are another person (the Other’s desire), even when they aren’t said person.

For the sake of formality, let us translate all of this back into Lacanian jargon. Masculinity believes they have the phallic signifier even when they don’t, due to castration (they believe there are no ambiguity to the words they say even when they are full of ambiguities; in other words, they lack the signifier, but represses such lack). Whereas femininity masquerades and pretends to have the phallic signifier, even when they don’t due to castration because they want to become the Other’s desire (they “pretend” to be another woman who is complete, even when they lack). In both cases, they lack the phallic signifier due to castration, but deals with this lack (repression) in opposing ways which as a result, springs up their symptoms. The hysteric wants to overcome the Other by mastering their desires which leads to repression. Whereas the obsessive tries to overcome the Other by annihilating the Other in their conscious thoughts while already serving the Other’s desire. Masculinity or obsessive neurosis achieves this by producing a +1 (phallus) in the signifying chain and denies/represses the -1 (lack). And femininity or hysteria produces the -1 in the signifying chain while pretending to be +1.

In the case of hysteria, the analyst’s strategy is to turn the Other’s desire against the hysteric and force them to discover their unconscious desires. In the latter case, the analyst is to function as the Other and maintain their presence in the obsessive’s mind which brings the Other (their lack; repressions) to the forefront of their minds which “hystericizes” them. The obsessive must always face the analyst’s desires (the Other’s desire) where they become split subjects. As such, hysteria and obsessive neurosis requires the psychoanalyst to take different subjective positions in order to “cure” their symptoms. In both cases, the analyst must function as the object cause of desire within the analysand’s unconscious mind.

This is why analysts will talk about how a successful analysis will always consist of the analysand who feels like they never went through any analysis where they can talk freely. They feel this way because the obstacles, symptoms, projections, and transferences that they had carried into the beginning of their psychoanalytic therapy has been cleared, where the split subject can now function in a much more healthy manner within the social fabric. Essentially, the “cure” for neurosis is to, as Jacques Alain-Miller puts it, “dissolve the Real into the Symbolic”. The goal is to help the analysand articulate the Real and repressed material into spoken words. It is about bringing what is not said into the forefront of their conscious mind and understand how it drives their everyday behaviors and symptoms.

Some of those who reads this might think they can take this knowledge and apply it into their lives to get immediate results. In reality, this entire process from the repressed split subject who doesn’t know what they desire all the way to discovering the truth of their desires takes years and hundreds of clinical sessions. It is important to remember that self-analysis does not work. The unconscious mind cannot be accessed without the position of the Other. You cannot psychoanalyze yourself.

On Error and Truth

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” —Sigmund Freud

In light of what we have learned, we can begin to grasp that clinical psychoanalysis is an unending process which seeks to unravel the depths of the human mind. This is no doubt, something that Lacan once alluded to in some of his seminars. What appears to be memories which faded away from our minds never actually leaves, but will one day appear again that latches onto our conscious thoughts in ways that we never anticipated. There is no such thing as accidents and coincidences when it comes to our mental thoughts and the words we say.

If we take what we learned in conjunction to my previous psychanalytic writings. Perhaps what we can begin to see is how, just as there are no accidents in the words we say, there are also no accidents to those who we come to love in our lives. At times, some may feel compelled to justify their desires for someone. They may even feel compelled to find reasons why they don’t love someone over someone else. This may happen to a point where they hate the Other person. Just as the patient may deny the errors and ambiguity to their words in the beginning of their clinical sessions, our conscious mind may deny and repress our feelings for someone out of fear, transferences, anxiety, and repression. And in our world today, people may even deny real life love encounters in favor for ones that are found online.

While it is true that the encounters of love requires a certain level of contingency where two people runs into each other, it is not by chance that these encounters also happens to be fatal, where the Other shakes the foundation of our existence . We may come to instances where we get a glimpse of eternity in the Other’s eyes; someone who makes our heart race as we blush and stumble over our words like a fool. The Other may inspire new knowledge from our unconscious mind, and offer us solutions and new ways to see the world. Rightfully so, love becomes a surprise par excellence!

Just as there is a reason for our dreams, fantasies, denials, errors, and slips of the tongue, there is a reason why we love certain people in our lives and not others (we can think of the example of Jeanne). Make no mistake, the decision as to who one loves is not something that the split subject has any control over, even if they feel like they have complete control (this is an obsessive trait). For we must remember that humans are not the masters of their own house. In many ways, we do not get to choose who we love in our lives. Love is not a conscious choice. If there are any conclusions that we can come to, it is the idea that the human mind is its own greatest self-deception. As Friedrich Nietzsche would say, there is always some madness in love, but there is always some reason in madness.

For where there is consciousness, there lies the unconscious. And where lies the unconscious, there lies error and truth. In essence, truths are produced through the words and meanings that we unknowingly deny—words that we do not say over what we consciously say. They are produced through articulating memories and experiences that had been repressed deep in our minds to the point of forgetfulness. Luckily, nothing ever gets forgotten. Memories are stored in our unconscious mind that awaits to be found, like searching for a lost key in a dark room.

As many people likes to say, “actions are louder than words”. But perhaps the words from our thoughts aren’t deprived from action. When the meanings and unconscious ambiguity of our words are brought to the forefront of our consciousness, it has the ability to untie the knot to some of our deepest wounds, frustrations, and repressions. Words are thus, bound by actions that allows the split subject to produce truth. In this sense, words are much louder, powerful, and profound than actions!

Ultimately, the production of meanings to our unconscious thoughts gives the split subject the knowledge to potentially resolve their daily behaviors and symptoms. It is only by making them verbally recognize their repressions and the truth of their desires, where new actions can rupture from their unconscious mind that may come to change the course of their life.

“Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions.”


An Accumulation of Random Thoughts #9

Last edited, May 17, 2023: Someone asked me about Lacanian approaches to femininity and hysteria. Look into Joan Copjec’s book called, “Imagine There’s No Woman”. Copjec is likely one of the most renown feminist Lacanian in North America. A controversial figure, but worth a read!


This post includes a bunch of things from stargazing, communication, MBTI, all the way to a real life example of love transference. I’ve been really tired from work. Luckily I have a draft with around 30,000+ words full of these types of writings. It usually only takes me a few hours to organize and publish a post like this unless I feel like adding more to it. ✌

Good nap.

* * *

The Alter Ego

I said this before, but think I need to say it again. Some people probably paints quite a picture of me from reading this blog. Truth is, this blog is more like my alter ego which only displays parts of who I am as a person. Just because I say something on here doesn’t always mean they are written in stone or represent who I am in reality. Some of these are brief random thoughts where I change my views later on. I prove myself wrong and change my mind all the time. I am not free from or ignorant of self-reporting errors. I often make inaccurate assessment of everything on here. I also only write during my alone time, which is different to my other day-to-day activities.

Coming to think of it, I actually live a double life batman style. In real life, I prefer to fly under the radar and be an ordinary person without drawing too much attention to myself. But once you get to really know me, I am quite the opposite to what most people think. For example, most people who reads on here can tell I have a vivid intellectual life—a life that I partially keep in secrecy from my ordinary life (hence my double life). Yet, I’m also not as serious as what most people think. So if you think I am very serious in real life, then you haven’t broken the outer layer of Bobby’s onion personality.

Most people who has been reading this blog for awhile only gets to know the intellectual, more serious and somewhat darker side of me, but not who I am entirely as a person. People sometimes likes to jump to conclusions about me with information that they don’t have simply because I haven’t given them any, or because they don’t know me irl (they don’t have proof). Other people likes to do selective reading over my writings on here and think it is the entirety of who I am. It’s almost like they are just trying to cherry pick and give themselves a reason to jump to conclusions about me (probably because they want to find reasons to hate me LOL). Definitely not a fair or accurate assessment.

In short, if you never spoke to me in real life and are coming to conclusions through this blog, you are likely wrong about a lot of things, even if you think you know everything about me. Yes, I am very aware of what kind of information I put on here. I’m not someone who can be easily seen through. The best way to know me is by meeting me in person—if you can ever find me. Hah!

* * *

Infinite Thought

“To think is to confine yourself to a single thought that one day stands still like a star in the world’s sky.” —Martin Heidegger

Did you know that when we look at stars, we are actually looking into history? The lights from these stars took thousands and millions of light years to arrive before our eyes. History becomes present, and present becomes the future. I tend to think this is exactly how great thoughts are formed: between past and future. One should not be surprised that some of our brightest thoughts always arrives to our eyes last, right between the dark spaces of all the shining stars.

I am a big fan of star gazing and I’ve been thinking of buying my own amature telescope when I got some money to spare (I recently just paid off my new car). A few years ago, I used to drive out of the city to go stargazing by myself during the summer. I stopped because I work too much. But I always found it very peaceful. It’s just me and the universe with no one else. It feels great.

* * *

What is something that you secretly like?

I secretly like to cuddle and enjoy physical affection despite disliking most people touching me. I’d say I am also secretly a romantic and a really passionate lover. Unfortunately, people probably just think I am a stone cold serial killer LOL. I always forget to smile.

But you know what I also secretly like to do? Sing in the shower / at home while making up my own lyrics on the fly. I am a freestyle rapper bruh. I also like to walk around the house with exaggerated movements like a child.

* * *

What is the best way to tell who someone really is?

By looking at who they are friends with.

* * *

The opposite of anorexia…

is muscle dysmorphia where people are obsessed with gaining big muscles. I just learned how this was a thing when my phone randomly recommended me a psychology article that spoke about it LOL. The study showed how muscle dysmorphia is becoming a prominent issue among men where they discovered how these men also have a lot of narcissistic symptoms along with troubled relationships with their father. The study also suspect it has to do with the effects of social media.

I’m not surprised honestly. In fact, I already spoke about this in several places on this blog a year or two ago. Freud is probably laughing in his grave right now. Y’all better get your daddy issues sorted out.

* * *

Asian Heritage Month

I think it’s the dumbest shit ever. Get rid of it LOL.
It’s funny because some people can’t tell I am Chinese due to my facial hair where they are surprised when I suddenly speak fluent Cantonese. I can also understand a little bit of French and German from my studies in continental philosophy, but more so in written form.

* * *

Should men always make the first move?

A friend asked me this the other day. My answer was, “No. It’s 2023”. What are you still living in the 50s? Or wait, everyone is still living in simulation. 😉 Though I usually don’t mind making the first move because I don’t like to beat around the bush. Pretty much everyone who I liked in the past will tell you I just randomly told them I like them romantically. It’s kind of surprising because it worked more times than I thought LOL. And in cases where it didn’t work, they still appreciated my honesty.

In general, you should never play games (I consider someone who tries to make you chase them as game playing). It’s emotional abuse for the other party, especially if they really like you. Game playing is also counter-productive because it can quickly become self-sabotage. Sometimes, people play games because they have some kind of ideological fantasy of what a relationship should be like, even when this is the result from problematic social conditioning (maybe more on this next time). Not to mention that game playing often attracts all the wrong people to you.

I remember there was this one girl I met where I straight up told her that I liked her and she got so happy that she immediately gave me her number and asked me out LOL. I’ll be honest, I liked her even more after that. I also remember how she was so flirty that I had to redefine my definition of flirting. She was very enthusiastic in a good way (or clingy for some people; depends on who you ask). Unfortunately, things didn’t work out because I wasn’t in a good mental space to be with anyone at the time. There was also some misunderstandings between us. I admit she was light years ahead of me in terms of emotional intelligence—something that I can learn a lot from. I’m also pretty sure she made an art piece about me.

She is a good example of someone who made the “first move” after I expressed my interest. Though I confessed to her first, so I technically made the first move where she met me half way. She was confident, sincere, authentic, sweet, devoted, and never made me guess. A year or two later, I heard from a friend of hers that she reads my blog where I taught her a lot about philosophy, language, and other worldly issues. Honestly, I’m happy she learned a lot on here. I think I hurt her pretty bad. It has been almost 10 years, but I hope she is doing well.

* * *

Bobby’s Humor

I am fluent in sarcasm with a flare for irony and dark humor. Toilet humor is also not bad, especially during dinner time. People can’t always tell when I am being sarcastic and throwing down jokes because I sometimes do it with a straight face.

* * *

On Communication

While I can be quite good at reading people when I try, I am not a mind reader. I’ve definitely been wrong before. Many times in fact. People often make a lot of assumptions that others can read their minds and the intentions of their words and actions. Truth is, no one can—at least never in a complete sense. If you can’t or are unwilling to speak clearly about your thoughts and emotions, especially during important moments where others really needs to understand you, no one will get you. Misunderstanding happens much more than you think because communication is a very finnicky thing. Sometimes, when people does choose to speak, they respond in a really defensive / aggressive way almost like they want to start a fight. It’s very interesting because this is (can sometimes be) a good example of transference in psychoanalysis. You see a similar phenomenon when you are just casually talking to someone and they randomly snap at you.

* * *

There is a hardware store in my city called “KMS tools”

I bought something from there and joined the KMS club.
I know it’s a horrible joke to make if you don’t like dark humor. But damn, it’s hilarious LOL.

* * *

Google search: Why are INTJs…

…so scary
They’re not. Most of them looks like grumpy cats (RBF) with laser beam eyes. They’re really nice once they warm up to you, even if they can sometimes lack finesse in their words because they don’t got much social filter. INTJs are some of the most loyal people that you will meet. They are consistent and takes commitment to a whole new level. INTJs sometimes have a tendency to make people think on a really critical level which can intimidate others. So I guess they can be scary due to how much they know. Some INTJs can appear Byronic which might scare people as well (someone who is secretive, dark, romantic, passionate, ironic, and cynical; the term is derived from 18th century romantic poet, Lord Byron). It is fair to say that INTJs are people who thinks with their heart, and feels with their mind.

…so attractive
Because they have razor sharp intellect who are really well read about a lot of worldly topics. But they are also modest and not flashy about it. If you are someone who likes to learn, INTJs will constantly fascinate you because everything mundane is beneath them. They will show you new ways of looking at the world that you never thought existed. INTJs are usually one of the most intellectually competent people in the room with a calm and solid deposition to them that some people are really attracted to. It might be because they balance out a lot of the more extroverted types that takes interest in them (and the extrovert can help the INTJ be more spontaneous). INTJ tends to be xNFP/xSFP magnets. Also, don’t let their outward seriousness fool you. They can be really big jokesters who can be surprisingly talkative once you crack them open.

…so rare
Because they are masters of Introverted Intuition (Ni) which gives them an ability to see through a lot of things in all sorts of abstract ways. Nothing escapes their Ni. INTJs are incredible observers, hyper self-aware big picture thinkers. Similar to INTP and INFJ, they have some of the brightest minds in the world who can carry the weight of the universe. When Ni gets combined with their other functions, they become a walking paradox who awaits for the right person to solve their puzzles. INTJs are not shallow people who only cares about what you look like. It is often said that if you want to make love to an INTJ, you must first make love to their mind!

* * *

Another Sign of an Obsessive Neurotic

If you attend a survey course at universities that introduces psychoanalysis. Obsessive neurotics are the people who rejects the existence of the unconscious mind. They do this due to the experience of repression.

One of the surest places you can find obsessive neurotics is in philosophy departments (though realistically, obsessives are everywhere on the street). Have you ever wondered why so many philosophers are men? No, it’s not simply because of inequality. It’s not because they are smarter. It’s because they are mostly obsessive neurotics who are concerned with their “existence” which inhabits the fundamental questions that they all ask: “Am I dead or alive?”. There is a reason why Jacques Lacan was so famous for being an anti-philosopher.

In general, it is safe to say that neuroticism (hysteria and obsessive) is the keystone to human intelligence. Though I also think psychotics plays a big role as well. It might be why so many geniuses and intelligent people are often seen as “crazy” by the masses.

P.S. I am a good example of an obsessive neurotic. Though I’m no genius.

* * *

Real Life Example of Love Transference

I have quite a few good examples in mind. Initially, I was going to talk about two. One of them is about my love transference onto someone who I spoke about in some of my other posts that I recently removed (when I saw her for the first time, she reminded me of my first love, which was why I denied most of my feelings for her initially; I was aware of my transference). But since she might get mad if I write about her and say the wrong things again, I will only talk about one example today LOL.

Exhibit A:

My sister’s ex-husband’s name is Eric whose personality is somewhat similar to mine—but not quite. Actually, he is a completely different person. Even when I realize that my sister’s love transference lies at this point where she transferred her love that she has for me onto Eric.

Here is the most fascinating part. When I was five or six years old and about to immigrate to Canada, my parents was going to name me Eric before I told them that I wanted to be called Bobby. My sister was always perfectly aware of this memory because she was the one who pointed it out. A coincidence? I think not. In psychoanalysis, there is no such thing as coincidence.

Does she consciously recognize this relationship between Eric and I as young Eric? While she recognizes that we are “similar” in personality (her imaginary projection), she doesn’t recognize how Eric represents little Bobby. If she was in a clinical session and I was her analyst, the discovery of such connection must be made by her (if I was an analyst with no relation to her, I would not know that Bobby’s old name was Eric until she free associates it during the session). The analyst can only assist her during the most critical moments of the session. If these interpretations arrives at the wrong time, she may deny it due to her ego trying to cover up her wound / castration (her repression). This is what analysts mean when they talk about how our interpretations of reality can sometimes “hit the Real” which produces the effects of surprise and encompass the experience of love.

When you love someone, you are unconsciously in love with someone else. One way we can understand this is how psychoanalysis makes us recognize how our transferences and projections are often elusive, just like how our interpretation of someone or something can be incorrect due to our desires. This isn’t to say that these transferences are completely “false”, such that my sister does not love Eric because she unconsciously loves me. Rather, as time goes by, these transferences will reflect unconscious conflicts between her feelings for me versus Eric as a real person who is nothing like me (she is passing through the Symbolic Other; the filter that I spoke about in Part I). She needs to, in some sense, give up (repress) her love for me to be with Eric. Love happens exactly at this point (hence as Lacan puts it, “Love is the experience of the Real without the tragic dimension”). This is why love is about locating our wound or castration in the Other—to give up parts of our unconscious desires and transferences which often leads us to frustrations, compromise, and sacrifice for the other person. Simply put, my sister will always deal with her unconscious conflicts between Eric and Bobby as long as they are together.

Most of what your everyday person views as “love” is simply their desires talking which is most prominently seen in new relationships. Love is what happens after all the initial attraction (lust) wears off; or the relationship might end where both parties recognizes it as a “fling”. This is usually where couples starts to fight / argue or realize each other’s differences as love passes into the Symbolic. Hence, love is a “surprise” that this person is not what I thought to be when I first met them. And real love is what makes these surprises and differences work. I recall I once spoke to a friend who told me how her relationship with her boyfriend got a bit “boring” after awhile. But little did she know that this is where love happens (they’ve been together for 10 years). Alain Badiou’s famous saying, “To love is to struggle” is true to its words. This is why I pointed out last time how there is no such thing as easy love and it is the people who chooses to stay in your life that matters. I also wrote about this at the end of #3 which can be found here. Love is not a contract between two narcissists.

Sometimes, people reads my work and thinks they have to somehow reenact the things I say in their relationships; they cherry pick certain passages to understand and ignore the rest; or they read about the symptoms of neurosis and intentionally avoid producing these symptoms in their life, which doesn’t make them any less neurotic (this is what analysts refers as “adjusting your ego”). Truth is, the things I write about are things people are always already doing effortlessly. It’s always already there, lurking in the background of your everyday life.

Recall when I spoke of how love is metaphor (substitutions) and desire is metonymy. In this case, Eric is a metaphor for me. He is my substitution. Similar things happen when people write songs, poems, or makes art and theater plays for their loved ones. Art and creativity is the product of love and the wound of our split subjectivity.

Perhaps what we can learn from this example is how our object of affection often resembles someone who we love from our past in ways that we might not immediately recognize. They might have a similar personality or voice. They might look similar in certain ways with their eyes, facial hair, and so on. In this example, they have same or similar names, old names, nicknames, etc. Most importantly, what appears to be my sister’s conscious love for Eric reveals to be the impossibility of her relationship with me. The moment one declares their love for someone, they are unconsciously locating their wound or castration (repression) in the other person. Or as Jean Baudrillard might put it:

“If you say ‘I love you’, then you have already fallen in love with language, which is already a form of break up and infidelity.”


An Accumlation of Random Thoughts #8

Last Edited April 30, 2023: Made some small grammar changes and clarifications.

I’ve been so busy with work that I just pass out every evening when I get home. Hopefully, I will get more free time soon. This post includes topics such as food, art, hyper-individualism, obsessive neurosis, thoughts on 2022 Balenciaga fashion campaign, and other surprises. Most of these sections are quite chunky.

* * *

Darkness and Roses

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra


* * *

Traffic Light

The other day, I was stuck at a red light behind a huge line of cars because the light wouldn’t change. Eventually, I realized it was likely the sensor that is not working and if someone pressed the cross walk button, the lights would change. I gave it a few more minutes until some dumb child started honking nonstop behind me. So I drove up to the front using the emergency lane, got out and pressed the crosswalk and got back in my car. Boom, the lights changed. The entire line of 15 something cars were probably like “Bobby is a magician”.

The end.

* * *

Favorite Food

In general, French fries (which is actually Belgian), mashed potato, chicken wings, ice cream, pizza, pasta, Taiwanese popcorn chicken, sushi, sushimi, ramen, steak, Vietnamese noodle, ….and uhhh…chips and candy? It always feels like people are judging me when I pull out some type of candy that only a 10 year old would eat in public. Leave me alone, I’m only 5 years old LOL (I’m 32).

Speaking of food, I was given the title “French Fry King” when I was 8. When I go out for food with people and they order fries as a side, I always steal some from them. They now refer to this as “the fry tax”. 😎

* * *

New Car

I bought a CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) 2020 Mercedes GLA250 4MATIC. Originally, I was going to trade my Venza for a new Venza. I know it’s subjective, but I don’t like how the new Venza looks like it has a really big butt (rear bumper). I also thought of getting a Tesla, but decided to wait for EV technology to mature a bit more.

My new car only has 24,000 km on it and came with a nice set of weathertech mats and an extra set of winter tires. It is black with a bunch of upgrades. It has AMG rims, black window trims, black crossbar front grill, front bumper, side skirts, and rear bumper + exhausts (it has the night, avantgarde, and premium upgrade package options). The car has park assist where it can reverse and parallel park by itself using ultrasound sensors. It also has 360 degree camera, blind spot sensors, panoramic sunroof, and LED headlights. I thought I was using high beams on my first night drive. I like how compact it is when compared to my old car.

Appearance wise, black cars are hard to maintain because it reveals dirt and paint flaws easily. But they look really good when they are clean and shiny like a mirror. Unfortunately, they show dirt within 48-72 hours of washing it (I wash it every two weeks or whenever I can’t stand the dirt). I plan on putting a ceramic coating on it in the near future to help with the cleaning and protect the paint. Learning how to take care of a car is probably a good thing for me.

* * *

Why does Bobby not compete with others for his romantic interests? (From last post)

Because women should not be seen as a prize to be won over. They are human beings who are capable of making their own choices on who they want to be with. I am pretty low key and low on drama. I prefer things with as little BS as possible. As complex as some people may think I am, I’m actually quite simple (my friends always tells me I’m like a little kid Lol). Competing with others may lead to drama that I don’t want to deal with. But perhaps some might ask, “If she really matters, shouldn’t you compete other dudes for her?”. 

If someone wants to be with you, they will put in the effort. Just as if I like someone, I will make the effort to talk to them and make things work—unless they already rejected me lol. No one can change their mind if they truly like or love you. If someone else can take said person away, then you clearly don’t mean that much to them. The people who wants to stay in your life will always choose to stay, even if you can be difficult to deal with at times. People who truly likes or loves you won’t give up just like that. The people who sticks around regardless of hardships and differences are the people who are worth fighting for. Those who leave. Let them leave. Love is not easy. It never will be. Easy love is a projection of our desires onto the other. Love consists of the most difficult parts of all human relationships. This is a fact.

Bottom line. I don’t chase people. I am someone who values autonomy and agency. I like to give people the freedom to choose. If I like or love you, I will tell you—especially if I don’t know how you feel after talking to you for a while. I will let you to decide what you want to do with that knowledge. Certainly what you do with it will tell me a lot about who you are. If you truly love a person, part of you always will, no matter where they are or who they are with. I think there is truth to it when people say that when you love someone, you let them go. And if they come back to you, then they are yours to keep. If not, you just have to live with it.

* * *

On Hyper Individualism, Mental Health, and Consumerism

In Western culture, people are often raised and taught to become fierce individualists, self-dependent, and self-serving where everyone tries to be unique and standout. This idea is known as “hyper-individualism” which often carries a lot of negative connotations because it is usually viewed as a source for leading people into all sorts of mental illnesses. Why else do you think there is such a huge social stigma around people who asks for help?

We live in a world where individualism is normalized and sold to people as a form of commodity. Companies sells products and rewards people for becoming individuals. They reward people for becoming narcissists as they focus only on themselves so to help them reach their goals at the expense of everything else (we can think of corporate ads and social media influencers who sells you products where you can be like them). In our day and age, some people would only get together with others due to mutual personal interests over actually connecting with them at a deeper level. Everything becomes superficial, fun, and shallow with no real connection because everyone is taught to serve their desires. They are good party buddies but can’t talk about anything beyond jokes. They enjoy each other’s company because of their desire for money, social status, looks, fun, intercourse, etc. with no real deep soul connection.

No wonder why there are so many studies that reports on people suffering from loneliness. If you think of it like this, things like self love becomes a coping method in a society and culture that has been broken by consumerism. In fact, self love can be sold to you as a way to isolate you from others. Instead of focusing on loving others and truly care about those around us, we are rewarded to focus on our ourselves. Just like how people focus on their own desires. Everything is about me (I alluded to most of these issues in my other posts on psychoanalysis). Thus, self love can sometimes scream, “Love yourself and no one else! Everything is about your desires!”. I speak of this as “sometimes” because self love is also really important for individual growth and maturity when it is real and authentic. This can be seen in works by Erich Fromm, for example (a famous Freudo-Marxist), who spoke of self love as a way to connect with others. But is this still possible in our world today?

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Critical Context: 2022 Balenciaga Campaign Scandal

In late 2022, French fashion house Balenciaga published a campaign of children holding teddy bears dressed in fetish gear which caused an outrage by the general public due to its obscenity and sexual connotations (do a quick Google image search). I think it’s one of those things where context really matters. I’m not sure how many people know this, but a lot of high end fashion labels hires established art photographers to produce their ad campaigns (in this case, it is not just the photographer who took the photos, but we also have the art director, etc.). Welcome to capitalism where art gets turned into a commodity to make money; it is seen in every sector of the art industry from music to fashion. In fact, this was one of my major interests back in my undergraduate days when I studied photography.

But what if we put these images in an art gallery instead of a billboard that is trying to sell expensive clothes? Would it be different? For example, if there was an artist statement in the gallery that talks about how these photographs seeks to challenge its viewers on how contemporary fashion and media objectifies children, would we still look at these images in the same way? Here, we see how someone (or in this case, a group of people) can take pictures that gets reinterpreted in all sorts of ways after they publish it. Just as a writer can write a book and lose control to how people responds to it. Or someone can write a love letter that arrives in the hands of a stranger where its meaning gets lost in translation (I wrote about this when I introduced deconstruction here).

There is something that is transgressive about these images. The campaign reminds me of a book by Jacques Ranciere called Dissensus. In it, Ranciere argues that art, aesthetics, and politics should be about dissensus as opposed to consensus (it is about difference). Art and aesthetics should be provocative that challenges those who views it. I remember reading this book in grad school and it was quite good.

Was it wrong to publish these Balenciaga images in an advertising context? In a large sense, yes. But it is also what makes it so transgressive (i.e. it transcends beyond the contextual boundaries of an advertisement). By publishing it as an ad, not only is Balenciaga setting themselves up for controversy, they are also challenging its viewers to ask difficult questions between art, commodity, the obscenity of child exploitation, abuse and pedophilia. Certainly, I think the average person won’t see deeper meanings to these images other than seeing it as child abuse, etc. and gets mad—which they have every right to be. Yet, perhaps these images speaks of a deeper issue that is embedded in our world, where everything is up for sale: from our labour, culture, language, religion, art, knowledge, all the way to our dignity, integrity, love, and our bodies.

I think good art always breaks boundaries. They should be provocative and controversial. It makes us think and feel. There are lots of famous examples that I can give. We can think of the artist Tracy Emin displaying her bed in a gallery along with traces of her bodily fluids; Marcel Duchamp who used a urinal as a piece of sculpture; Andreas Sorrano where he dunked Jesus Christ’s crucifix cross in urine; or Andy Warhol who displayed Campbell soup advertisement as art.

Despite the backlash of the Balenciaga campaign, I definitely see some interesting ideas that are being addressed. Such as the possibility of a child’s fetishization of the Balenciaga commodities that lays bare on the ground in these photographs (from a psychoanalytic perspective). In fact, the teddy bear is the object that the child fetishizes where it encapsulates their object cause of desire. Sort of like how people fetishizes certain pieces of clothing or fabric; or the clothing and accessories made by Balenciaga or any other fashion brand.

If Alain Badiou is correct that art is an event where truths are produced (just like love), can the encounter of this Balenciaga campaign function as an event, where people are provoked to produce dialogue, thought, and truth?

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The Symptoms of Obsessive Neurosis

Obsessive neurosis is most commonly diagnosed in men, and sometimes in women. Basically, an obsessive neurotic’s desire is also the Other’s desire. They ask the same fundamental question that the hysteric would: “What does the Other want?”. Their main difference lies on how their unconscious mind approaches these questions. Where the hysteric will further ask, “Am I a man or a woman?” or “What is a woman?”, an obsessive will ask, “Am I dead or alive?”. Obsessives only feels “alive” when they are consciously thinking.

The primary symptom of an obsessive neurotic consists of how they use thinking, intellectualization, logic, and reason to repress their traumatic experiences. Many obsessive neurotics will often neglect or refuse to feel and doubt their own thinking and thought patterns, even when it is their best interest to do so in order to unravel their unconscious neurotic transferences and projections (keyword: “doubt”; a person who never doubts is a major symptom of psychosis). Obsessives wants to become the law—they want to be the masters of their mind and thoughts, even when they aren’t.

This is why last time, I spoke of how obsessives often represses their unconscious mind more than a hysteric where they disallow their unconscious thoughts to surface. It is also why you may sometimes read about psychoanalysts who attempts to “hystericize” obsessive neurotic patients so to open up their unconscious mind.

An obsessive needs to be “alive” and not “dead” in order to function in their daily lives. They need to consciously think (desire) and repress their unconscious mind, so to speak. An obsessive who is “dead” might show depressive symptoms where they become unmotivated and immobile. Similar to the hysteric, the obsessive who is “alive” wants to have constant control over their thoughts, lives, society and law. They want to have control over the Other, even when they cannot escape the Other’s impositions.

An obsessive may display clusters of modern psychological symptoms such as OCD, autism, ADHD, depression, etc. It is important to note that not every person with these symptoms are obsessive neurotics. Just as not every hysteric has histrionic personality disorder. As I pointed out before, obsessive neurosis and hysteria are positions that the split subject unconsciously takes. Modern psychology diagnose people based on clusters of symptoms whereas in psychoanalysis, it is about the fundamental “clinical structure” of the person’s unconscious mind which shapes and drives their desires and symptoms that surfaces in their mind and body in reality.

A lot of modern approaches to psychology are descriptive by trying to break up symptoms into smaller sets of symptoms. It avoids trying to solve the fundamental psychical (metaphysical) aspect of the human mind that may produce these symptoms as such (this is a classic psychoanalytic critique of contemporary psychology). With this said, I certainly think that some symptoms are produced by various bodily responses. I won’t deny this.

Nevertheless, for the untrained eye, it can be hard to tell the difference between a hysteric and obsessive because they may display really similar symptoms on the surface. In general, repression is the signature symptom of neurosis. Most analysts agree that obsessive neurotics deals with repressions of the mind, and hysteria deals with repressions of the body. Then there is also perversion, which consists of perverse acts (fetishism) and perversion as a clinical structure.

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The Unconditional Task

Some time ago, I saw my dad cry while watching soap opera. I went up to him and asked what happened and he told me how the episode reminded him of something from the past that hurt him really bad. The following day, we went out for breakfast and he told me about his first love. He told me how she left him and went for someone else (I probably shouldn’t say too much). That episode he watched reminded him of all the pain that he felt back in the days. He told me she even invited him to her wedding that he never attended. Then he asked me, “Do you think I should had went?”. I told him, “I understand why you didn’t go”. He took a short pause then added, “On hindsight, I should’ve went and wished her all the happiness in the world”. I looked at him with admiration, and his eyes got watery. I smiled at him and thought to myself, “A man with a big heart and he is my father!”.

That is love.
That, my friend, is love.

The most difficult and unconditional task: to love those who despises us, those who hurts us and hurls us into the abyss.


An Accumulation of Random Thoughts #7

Last edited April 05, 2023: I didn’t make any changes. I just wanted to tell all of you that I am really busy with work and my butt hurts. Good night.

I always try to post once a month. But I want to devote more time on important writing projects and other things in life which means I might not post as frequent as I used to. To make up for it, this post is slightly longer than usual. It includes a section on clinical psychoanalysis, the symptoms of hysteria, art, and a story about Bobby’s lung collapse experience. 💀

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“The measure of a person’s disposition is this: how far is he from what he understands to what he does, how great is the distance between his understanding and his actions.”

—Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love


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What Pokémon would Bobby be?

One of my friends once said if I was a Pokémon, I would be Zapdos, the legendary lightning bird. You know what? I can see that LOL. Disrespect Bobby? Be prepared to get zapped!

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Cognitive functions around the house (hyperlinked and timestamped here)

Recently, I watched a YouTube video on what each MBTI cognitive function are like around the house and the one on Ni was hilariously accurate. I almost spat out my water on the part where she went “you’re not going to know what I’m working on until it’s too late” HAHA. It’s so true.  And the staring at wall thing is also very accurate. 😎

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Daylight Saving Time (DST)

Messes up me up so bad every year. It’s like getting jet lag out of no where. I told my friend about it the other day and he sent me a bunch of scholarly articles on daylight savings and how mortality rate goes up by 3% in the weeks after DST, especially in Fall where you lose sunlight. It’s a very interesting pattern that I am not even surprised (it fuels depression). DST always makes me lose sleep which weakens my immune system and gets me sick all the time. DST also happens around flu seasons as well which might be another explanation why it appears like mortality rate goes up around DST. ☠

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On Friendship

Most of my inner circle friends are from elementary and highschool. We are a loyal bunch. I think when it comes to friends, I am not someone who actively goes out looking for them (though I used to when I was 20, but often failed to find people who really understood me except for a few). It’s likely because sometimes, I notice people are only nice to you because they want something from you.

I am also not always the one who plans and invites people to do random things unless you are in my inner circle. This is why it is often the confident people who takes initiative to talk to me that befriends me. It is not that I don’t put in the work to befriend others, it’s the fact that I am often preoccupied with stuff in my mind which makes me forgetful and absent minded. So if others show interest, then I will too. In fact, I will often put as much effort into knowing someone as the other person will.

If you are someone I care about, then I will be the person who will listen when you have something to say. If you need help, I will help you out. I will go to places with you when you invite me (it also depends on where). I also won’t judge you. I’m a pretty loyal person once you befriend me. I’m not much of a gossip girl which means you can count on me to not talk behind your back (gossip is junk food for the mind).

It’s strange to say, but I am not someone who keeps friends. It’s usually people who decides to keep me where I keep them in return. Most people achieves this by taking the initiative via talking or messaging me randomly, or sending me random links to things they find funny, invites me to do things, or tells me stories (I will often do the same in return if they do this enough times). Basically, they are usually the people who constantly bothers me and genuinely opens up to me before I open up to them. Coming to think about it, I am basically a human cat who gets adopted by all sorts of different people.

I am friendly if you talk to me. I can also be a bit soft spoken. I am definitely not someone who would change myself to make others want to be my friend or like me. If someone wants to be my friend or something more, they will make an effort. If not, then so be it. I don’t force myself onto others or try to manipulate or control them into liking me. I also don’t compete with other people for individuals that I am interested in platonically or romantically. It’s not how I do things. If I like you romantically, I will eventually tell you and let you make the choice. I often try to be as straight forward and honest as I can be. It’s more about timing if anything.

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Greatest living photographer

I spoke about this to a friend the other week. It is a difficult one and it depends on the category. I think great photography is like a great piece of writing—it provokes culture, depth, and thought. I would say either Andreas Gursky, Juergen Teller, Annie Leibovitz, or Nan Goldin. Cindy Sherman is up there as well.

I never learned to appreciate Gursky’s works until I got older. His mesmerizing large format photographs of supermarkets, factories and buildings really shows you the repetitiveness of contemporary society. Actually, I think Gursky is likely one of the greatest photographers of our time. If you look at his work called “Amazon”, it really shows his critique on contemporary capitalism and the problems with mass production and fetish commodity. I think a lot of Gursky’s work showcases consumerism and how the production of consumer products resembles to the production of human beings in society. Apartments, institutions, social media platforms, and schools becomes factories that mass produces certain types of people. I think Gurksy’s works is a good example of bringing up the problems of globalization.

I also like Rhein II, which sold for something stupid like 4.3 million USD. One of the things that stands out to me is how geometric and plain the photograph is where the Rhine river flows horizontally almost like the flow of water is opposing the laws of nature. The way the photograph is positioned makes the river, green field and grey sky almost geometric like. For the most part, nature does not produce straight lines, especially the type of lines and shapes you see in Euclidean geometry (though the edge of a crystal is a straight line; the next closest thing is likely a ray of light, but it is affected by gravity; spider web is another one). I suppose in this case, it is a matter of perspective where human invention and perspectives (photography) intervenes nature which turns the natural into something abstract, cultural, and human. Very clever.

I wouldn’t always say that those who doesn’t understand contemporary art photography lack culture and intelligence (though I’m not ruling out its possibility LOL). They just haven’t been exposed enough to contemporary intellectual dialogues to understand them. I think most professional photographers who looks at the works by Nan Goldin would be like, “she needs to learn her camera settings and how to take a nice picture”, even when they don’t realize it is the intimacy, authenticity, and rawness of her works that makes it so great. Nan Goldin actually captured a lot of different sub-cultures back in 20th century where some of them became quite prominent, such as the LGBT community.

I should write about art again. Great photography that makes you ask difficult questions are hard to come by these days. Art is not your popular cliché of pictures with your sock stuck to it. Great art provokes and challenges human knowledge about the world. In fact, looking at art and trying to figure out what it is saying is one of the best ways to learn how to think critically!

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On grad school funding

Since someone asked. My opinion is that if you don’t get full funding for grad school, it might not be worth doing because it can get expensive. In Canada, universities will often offer at least partial funding for graduate studies. It really depends on your major and what you are studying along with how good you are; and the type of resources and funding available for that particular department. It is always preferred to have full funding that covers not just your tuition and books, but also your living expenses.

Often times, funding won’t come from a single source unless you land a big grant. For example, a chunk of my funding was from my supervisor’s SSHRC grant (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, a Canadian federal research funding agency). Another chunk came from my department, and another chunk came from the provincial government. I would like to thank the tax payers of Canada for funding my degree and contributing to sustaining Bobby’s junk food addiction for the duration. 😛

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What types of books does Bobby like to read?

I am mostly a non-fiction reader. My interest in certain books stems from my on going inquiries about various worldly topics. When it comes to authors, I often try to read those who left a profound influence in modern history. I like original, impactful authors whose ideas changed the world or influenced a lot of people. I don’t always like to read commentaries (people who talk about these influential figures), I like to directly read their work and make my own discoveries. Other times, I enjoy reading banned books or books that are written by marginalized writers (i.e. people of color), but they must also be influential that brings new critical perspectives to contemporary thought; and not just some random person who aren’t even all that good (sorry lol).

I often enjoy books that demands high cognitive abilities because I like solving intellectual challenges and puzzles. Sometimes, people likes to blame their incompetence on the writer. Yes, some authors are horrible writers who also happens to be a really cryptic (kind of like me lol), but it’s not much of an excuse if you want to understand them.

Bobby likes to learn from people who are significantly smarter and more influential than everyone else. It doesn’t matter what race or sexual orientation they are (these are the last things I care about; it’s not about the person, it’s about their ideas). But it also has to play a role in my interest too.

Learn from the best. Push your mind to the limits. Go big or go home!

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I am self taught

A lot of people think I gained my knowledge in deconstruction and psychoanalysis through school which is only partly true. Most of my experience in these disciplines came from personal interest and studies. I am mostly self-taught. It definitely takes a lot of will power and discipline. It is very different when compared to going to school, having assignments and a teacher who makes you do things.

For me, going to grad school was more of a proof to myself of my years of hard work. It also marked a significant turning point on my personal and intellectual maturity. If anything, getting my MA was more of a formality. It was easier than I thought. Getting in was the hard part because I didn’t have an academic research background for my undergraduate degree. I still remember when my supervisor read my sample essay and told me how not very many people at a masters level understands deconstruction the way I did. A great compliment for sure! He was an elusive man who often gave me the psychoanalyst vibes.

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Buying a new car

My current 2010 Toyota Venza that I drive is 13 years old and there are lots of things that I don’t want to fix (new tires, spark plugs, new wheel, and a few other things). All the maintenance adds up to $2k+ and its current 2nd hand value is around 9-13k. I am thinking of buying a newish used car because new cars are never worth it due to depreciation.

Overall, the Venza is a great car and I managed to keep it in pretty good condition, partly because I don’t drive it too much. The interior looks spanking new with leather heated seats, panoramic sunroof, upgraded stereo, automatic hatch back, and everything. People who sits in my car often tells me how new it feels. The only downside is that this car is not very fuel efficient; mostly because it is a V6.

If I get a new car, I want to get an AWD because I don’t want to buy winter tires. I also prefer a car with a sunroof because I like it for summer drives (I sometimes like to go for late night drives because it is peaceful). Currently, I am looking at Toyota, Honda, Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW. It depends on what I end up with and if I am actually going to get a new car. If I do, I will likely put a big down payment and take a small loan to avoid paying too much interest. But I also don’t want to ding my savings too hard. Honestly, I can probably pay off the car early within a year or two if I end up getting one.

Japanese cars are reliable, economical and cheap to maintain. German cars are fancy, over-engineered (but well built), expensive to buy and maintain. Not to mention that my insurance will also go up. Some of them also needs premium gas. The German cars that I am looking at right now are at around the same price as the Japanese, I can’t say the same for maintenance though. Logic dictates that I should get a Japanese car. But I also want something that is a bit nicer because who doesn’t like to own nice things? My mom was like, “If you buy a Mercedes, you will get paranoid when you park because you don’t want other people to scratch it”. She is 100% correct LOL.

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Clinical Psychoanalysis

In my last post, I spoke of how psychoanalysis is not always about giving up on the desires and symptoms that the subject enjoys in their everyday life. The keyword we should note here is “not always”. It is situational in that, while a lot of people today would only seek psychoanalysis when their life is in crisis, some would seek for it during times where they might not always need it. The reason why I said this is due to the fact that in North America, psychoanalysis is often seen as a last resort for many people—especially when medications and other forms of therapy had failed (from a psychoanalytic perspective; medication had always in some ways, failed). Thus, most people who sees a psychoanalyst likely already have severe symptoms who are on medications.

Psychoanalysis attempts to help people find new or different ways to desire (it is about difference, just like love). It attempts to interrupt their symptoms by clearing the obstacles that obstructs their desire and/or substitute them for something new that is healthier and better. While some symptoms won’t pose much problems for some individuals, others will. And thus, the exchange of one desire over another is situational, but is often required for those with severe symptoms.

While most popular forms of therapy involves the assumption that the subject who seeks for help are willing to make changes in their lives (which they do, to be fair), psychoanalysis assumes that most people who goes to therapy actually (unconsciously) don’t want to change their lives. Instead, most people sees a therapist or analyst so they can help make them enjoy the things that they used to enjoy. In other words, people sees a therapist so they can repeat their old symptoms where they regress back towards their narcissisms and old symptomatic projections and transferences. This is somewhat reminiscent to people who goes to see a doctor because their life is in crisis since they are no longer satisfied by the things that they do in life. Then the doctor prescribes them some anti-depressants, or recommends therapy, tells them to go to the gym to produce more serotonin, so they can enjoy the things that they used to with zero changes and true understandings as to where their symptoms and desires come from.

Sometimes, studying psychoanalysis can make you start to wonder if medication is the solution and if people truly want to change. A lot of people gives up half way through analysis due to all the frustrations, irritations, projections, and resistances that they encounter during their sessions with the analyst, where they end up regressing back towards their old symptoms.

The psychoanalytic experience is not fun and games. It often involves patients who must, at some point, re-experience their most painful memories and sufferings from their childhood where they repeat all of their transferences, traumas, and symptoms that they project onto the people in their lives back onto the analyst. They must do so in order to potentially discover the truth behind them (the truth of their unconscious desires which drives their everyday behaviors, projections, and frustrations). Essentially, psychoanalysis makes you think about the things that your conscious mind avoids thinking about in your everyday life. People avoid them because it “triggers” them, causes trauma, gives them anxiety; and because their ego resists unconscious thoughts. As Freud might say, being entirely honest with yourself can be a really good exercise.

This is why I never use the word “client” in any of my psychoanalytic writings (though some Freudians uses this term). The term “client” involves some form of consumerist contract where the subject visits the therapist, pays them, and requests them to help find the satisfaction in the things that they used to enjoy, like how they go see a doctor who prescribes them meds. The “client” is not there with the intentions to produce new knowledge and discoveries about themselves on why they have X and Y symptoms, but are simply seeking for band-aid solutions that won’t solve their symptoms. They seek to repeat their old symptoms (I am generalizing here).

In short, the client does not want real changes on how their symptoms are shaped and formed in their unconscious mind. They don’t want to discover what unconsciously drives their everyday behaviors and transferences because it causes too much anxiety and frustrations. Psychoanalysis is not a consumer contract where the patient buys enjoyment like how they buy a pair of shoes. In fact, psychoanalysis often involves a lot of unconscious conflicts between the analyst and analysand via transference and countertransference. The analyst and analysand actually speaks two different languages (discourses) during the clinical session, and must remain so in order for psychoanalysis to take place.

P.S. I just gave you a really big hint on what one of my new writing project is about. 😮

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The Symptoms of Hysteria

I will give you a quick explanation.

Hysteria is most commonly diagnosed in women and sometimes in men, the latter who are often diagnosed as obsessive neurotics. Hysteria is a really popular area of study in psychoanalysis. It is also a common ground for debates among scholars and feminists. There are variations to hysteria depending on the school of psychoanalytic thought and how you approach it.

In modern psychology, hysteria is often translated as histrionic personality disorder. But since psychoanalytic diagnosis is more broad, it is safe to say that everyone consists of hysterical and obsessive traits which are considered as a form of neuroticism (because we are all neurotics; what people see as “normal” is actually a symptom in psychoanalysis). It comes down to which one predominates that particular person. While neuroticism is the everyday norm, some will have more severe symptoms than others.

The fundamental structure of a hysteric consists of the question: “Am I a man or a woman?”, or “What is a woman?” (a good way to think of this is contemporary identity and gender politics; though I’m not trying to throw shade). Moreover, we can think of the hysteric through the relationship between a child and their parents where the child may ask, “What does my parents want me to do?”, “Who do they want me to become?”, “Where do I fit in the family?”.

A hysteric’s desire is the Other’s desire until it is directed at them (keyword is “directed”). We can think of this as how some women may feel pressured when the man suddenly expresses their desires for them, where the woman may feel like the Other’s desire is pointed directly at them which leads them to reject the man, or to run away. The woman may unconsciously feel like if they submit to the Other’s desire (the man’s), they will lose their subjectivity or free-will. A hysteric does not want to be reduced to whatever it is that the Other desires for them, such as the man’s desires of who he wants her to be in his life (for example). We can think of modern society’s desires on what a “real woman” should be like and how a hysteric might reject how society defines a woman. In other words, a hysteric avoids being pinned down by the Other’s desire, where they may transgress such desire by rejecting it altogether (sometimes in unhealthy ways). Yet at the same time, it is only through the Other’s desire where they experience free-will—even if such will (desire) is never entirely their own.

As a result, this springs up a series of unique symptoms. A hysteric is someone who represses painful memories, experiences, and unconscious desires that are manifested through their physical bodies that appears to have no organic cause. They may for example, lose weight without any physical cause; or display certain physical symptoms without actually being sick. The most common symptom is found through the hysteric’s feelings and emotions. They may have rapidly shifting emotions where they feel like X then Y moments later. These repressive symptoms may also appear as regressions, self-sexualization, or self-objectification. Hysterics tend to be energetic who are attracted to attention, drama, social games, power, and risks. On certain occasions, hysterics can be unintentionally seductive, where they will be shocked when the other party interprets their behaviors as sexual invitation, where they may outright deny and does not enjoy erotically (this is due to effects of the Other).

Finally, hysterics sometimes appear as controlling through performativity, manipulation, and social games, even when they are trying to seek for safety and acceptance. This latter idea is often categorized by their unconscious fear of being thrown into a world that they have little control over, as they encounter people who they perceive to have more power than them, namely, the big Other (i.e. the hysteric wants to have control over the Other; such as to have power over society, other people, or their partner in a relationship; obsessives also displays these symptoms in a different way). In truth, this type of behavioral symptom actually stems from their coping methods that originates from the relationship with their parents in childhood, particularly the father (by “father”, I don’t always mean the hysteric’s actual father, though it can be; what I am also implying here is the “Law”; such as social laws and the laws of society). These types of games so to not submit to the Other and to overcome it can sometimes appear as insecurities to most people where the hysteric needs a lot of validation given by others and have control over them (insecurity is derived from the experience of “shame”).

Generally speaking, when accompanied by a quality analyst, the hysteric will have an easier time to enter clinical psychoanalysis than an obsessive neurotic. This is due to how the hysteric’s discourse associates much closer to the unconscious mind than the obsessive who represses it. In fact, hysteria can sometimes resemble like an analyst’s discourse, the latter whose sole job is to function as the enigma of desire (object a). This is one of the reasons why Lacan had once expressed his admiration for hysterics.

I will talk about the symptoms of an obsessive neurotic next time. If I remember.

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Some time ago, I asked my friend if he thinks I am too blunt and honest. He was like, “Fuck yes, but I need someone who tells me I smell like shit when I actually do and not lie to me for the sake of being polite”. I guess that is why we are friends LOL.

There were instances where I would tell people the truth because I don’t have patience to play social games. Sometimes, the more honest I am, the more they won’t believe me. They would think I am manipulating them like most people would, even when I’m not. And if I tell them the truth and they still don’t believe me? Well, that’s not on me. It’s on them.

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Clarity and Focus

I am someone who likes to maintain a clarity of mind. I think most people can tell that I am a really introspective person who constantly questions everything, including my own thoughts. I also meditate, but not in a religious sense. My meditation is just me staring at a wall for 2 hours (ok maybe not a wall, but you get the point). I also have laser sharp focus when I write—especially when I write late at night. And when I am in “the zone”, I get irritated if someone interrupts me. I may also ignore you by accident without meaning to be rude. Sometimes, I will be talking to someone and ignore someone else by accident due to my laser beam focus. Not because I don’t want to talk to the other person.

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Bobby’s Lung Collapse Experience

When I was 18, my lung randomly started to give me this sharp stabbing pain every time I inhaled. At first, I thought it was a small deal. so I just took a hot shower and laid in my bed for a bit. Pretty soon, I became immobile and couldn’t move due to all the stabbing pain that I had every time I breathed. My parents didn’t know what was going on and drove me to the emergency. During triage, the nurse measured around 60% oxygen in my body and didn’t know what was wrong, but they knew it was serious because that was not a normal oxygen level. I budged everyone in the emergency and was admitted within 5 minutes of waiting. I took an x-ray and the doctors told me that I lost around half of my left lung capacity due to a condition called spontaneous hemopneumothorax, where blood and air got trapped outside my lung which pressured it and caused breathing problems. They told me that if I didn’t go to the emergency, the pressure would continue to build up where my lung would pressure and shift my heart and kill me.

So they put me to sleep and stuck a small tube in my lung between my rib cage to let the air and blood out. Few hours later in the ER, the doctor said that the tube is not working and they have to put me asleep again and take it back out to get another x-ray + CT scan. This time, they got a respirologist to see what went wrong where they ended up putting me to sleep again to stick an even bigger chest tube in my lung (I was in the emergency room for 6 hours). When I woke up, I saw a pool of blood on the floor and a big ass tube around the size of a water hose stuck between my rib cage and into my left lung (I’d say it was around half inch in diameter—not sure how big the tube was inside my body though). The tube was connected to a container with a handle on it that was designed to drain out all the fluid, air and blood that pressured my lung. I ended up getting admitted into the hospital for a week. Since I was 18, they managed to give me a private room in the children section. I remember they also used one of the biggest needle I had ever seen in my life and extracted so much blood from me in the emergency. The nurse saw my reaction and was like “Don’t worry, you won’t run out of blood” LOL. I also had a very fast heart rate because my body couldn’t get enough oxygen to circulate my body.

It didn’t hurt that much while the tube was in my chest as long as I remained immobile in bed. But the nurse and doctor told me to get up and walk around to get some exercise and blood moving in my body. So I went on short walks while carrying a container of my own lung juice (it was mostly puss and blood). But every time I got up and walked, I could feel the tube wiggle between my rib bones where it would cause so much pain that the nurse had to give me morphine through my IV. The nurse was like “Some people got high on morphine and told me they saw pink elephants”. I was like “Huh? Really?” which made me curious as to what would happen to me. But I just passed out LOL  I ended up getting morphine quite a few times during that week due to the pain the tube caused. I also remember my room was located across from the refrigerator where I often got up and stole a lot of juice boxes from at night. I had to get blood tests once or twice a day along with a blood thinner shot. Due to how many needles that I had to get, they ran out of spots to poke me. The nurse told me it was either my stomach or my butt. I was like, “Don’t touch my butt you pervert”. So I got shots on my stomach which felt really weird. Painful even.

When I got better where they had to remove the tube, they undid the stitches around the tube and pulled it out of my chest. It was scary, but they told me it’s not supposed to hurt, and they were right. After they removed the tube, I saw a hole on the side of my left lung right under my armpit area where I could feel cold air going into my rib cage. After that, they just closed the hole with the stitches that was already there where I was released from the hospital.

They told me I can’t go scuba diving for the rest of my life due to the water pressure (I can’t swim worth shit anyway; throw me in the water and I will die LOL). I also can’t lift anything over 15 pounds with my left arm for a month, which sucked because I am left handed. They told me I have to go back to the hospital in a month for a check up and meet with the doctor. I had a lot of pain recovering where I couldn’t lay in my bed to sleep due to the pain of my wound. So I slept in a chair every night for two weeks. It took around 10 months to a year for me to fully recover from the pain. I would freak out whenever my left lung gave me a small stabbing pain (I still get scared when I get stabbing pains). When I met with the doctor, she showed me an x-ray of what happened and told me that there is a 50% chance it would happen again. She said if I smoked, the chance of it happening again is around 70% (I don’t smoke). I now have a scar right under my left armpit where they put the tube into my lung.

Ever since this incident, I refused to put anything in my lungs other than air. It has been 10+ years and I never got it again. Strange enough, I used to have quite a few smoker friends who I hung out with as I inhaled second hand smoke (they were mindful to where they blew the smoke). I remember I knew a Korean friend who got pneumothorax (this happens to smokers and vapers quite a bit). He told me he got traumatized of having a tube stuck in his chest and will never smoking again LOL.

I mean, it’s actually not that funny because my uncle was a heavy smoker who died from cancer a few years ago. My dad also used to smoke, but quit after my mom had my sister. One of my friend who I used to talk to quit smoking because I told her it makes her look like a grandma faster lmfao. It’s true.

The end.


An Accumulation of Random Thoughts #6

Brain dump. I was going to publish this a bit later, but decided throw it out there now because I’ve been busy with work and other projects. This post consists of my afterthoughts on my latest piece on psychoanalysis and death drive, which can now be found in my “Popular Posts” menu on this site. I will also talk about idealism, materialism, psychology, writing, all the way to what it means to say “yes” and make a promise.

Have a good day. 🙂

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This blog…

Probably saved a lot of undergraduate students who are learning deconstruction and psychoanalysis in their intro courses. Due to Derrida and Lacan’s difficulty, most professors and TAs aren’t expecting too much from undergrads who writes about them for the first time. And to be honest, I often find a lot of the ways some profs and TAs introduce Derrida and Lacan aren’t always good readers of their works (sorry, but it’s true lol). Whereas some of them gets it, but without fully recognizing the real life applications and implications of their ideas.

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On Becoming a Psychoanalyst

It depends on the school of psychoanalysis you want to practice and it varies between different institutions. But a lot of them requires at least a Masters degree in a related field (some requires an MD or PhD) where you go through rigorous psychoanalytic training for several years.

In a lot of Lacanian schools, you also have to go through “The Pass” (le passant). It is where the student undergoes psychoanalysis and reach a successful analysis which yields to new psychoanalytic knowledge. The pass is basically where the psychoanalysand (patient) transforms into a psychoanalyst who is acknowledged by juries within the school. They are also granted a new title after they successfully pass. I forget what it was called.

Psychoanalytic training in Lacanian schools are an on-going process where training analysts are required to go through treatment as a patient; along with learning through the discourse of the other (experienced analysts) and the study of psychoanalytic theory. Some are also required to learn mathematics, arts, and other cultural phenomenon that is happening in contemporary society.

You need to learn math because Lacan was influenced by a French philosopher in mathematics—I forget his name. There is a reason why Lacan uses diagrams riddled with complex mathematic symbols known as “mathemes” to teach psychoanalysis. Basically, Lacan thinks language is an unreliable way to transmit psychoanalytic knowledge due to how our desires warps our interpretations of words. There is a lot of nuance in this area of psychoanalytic thought that I won’t extrapolate today. It has to do with the way knowledge is produced based on the discourses that the split subject takes position as in relationship with the other and their unconscious mind. Don’t worry, we will likely read more of Lacan’s crazy graphs and math symbols in the future together.

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Afterthoughts on psychoanalysis and death drive

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the post turned out (linked here). I really tried to show you the scope of psychoanalysis, its applications and relationships with other disciplines. I also tried to show how all the examples that I’ve used in my psychoanalytic posts operates at the same fundamental level through desire, drive, repetition, and the unconscious mind. Just to be sure, the goal of psychoanalysis is not to get people to stop desiring. It isn’t always about getting them to stop doing what they enjoy doing. Rather, it is to get them to desire and enjoy these things in a healthy way and establish a better relationship between their conscious and unconscious mind (it depends on who you ask).

If you are interested in Freudo-Marxism, I highly recommend Slavoj Zizek and people like Frantz Fanon, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse. Zizek is one of the most famous public intellectuals today who is a leading figure in Hegelian-Lacanian Marxist thought (he is also a funny dude). Zizek was psychoanalytically trained under Jacques-Alain Miller (often known as JAM), the son in law of Jacques Lacan and the sole editor of his seminars.

The Zizekian branch of Freudo-Marxism is a bit different to how I explained it in my post. Essentially, Zizek thinks people have inherited the ideology of capitalism as their unconscious fantasy where every subject would endlessly perpetuate the system without consciously realizing it (which drives everyone mad over time). More over, this capitalist fantasy that has been imprinted in our unconscious mind is also why there has never been any real changes in society despite all the changes that people want. In his eyes, one of the reasons why communism had always failed was because even the most famous leaders of communism, such as Karl Marx and people like Joseph Stalin, also succumbed to the unconscious fantasies of capitalism. This is another reason why communism always failed where it turned into totalitarianism, government corruption via greed, etc. Moreover, Zizek also argues how the invention of the scientific method, Newtonian physics, and Kantian metaphysics are conditioned by what Marx refer as “fetish commodity” that is found in capitalism. The core of these ideas can be found in Zizek’s magnum opus, The Sublime Object of Ideology, which made him well known and placed his ideas at the forefront of contemporary debates.

Anyways, the dialog that took place between Maurice Blanchot and Jean-Luc Nancy where they talk about community can be found in books called, The Unavowed Community, and The Disavowed Community. They are really hard to read. Meanwhile, when I spoke about jokes, Freud wrote a famous book on how it relates to the unconscious mind. It’s called Jokes and Their Relations to the Unconscious. The passages that I cited on metaphor and metonymy are from Lacan’s famous essay, “Instance of the Letter of the Unconscious” from Ecrits. It is frequently assigned as an intro text to Lacanianism in universities. Finally, when I asked if whether society can have perpetual peace, I was alluding to Kant’s famous book called, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch.

Some of the relationships I presented on deconstruction and psychoanalysis were part of my masters degree capstone project. In psychoanalysis, the subject is always divided by the symbolic Other. In deconstruction, the subject is always divided by time. The repetition compulsion (death drive) in psychoanalysis is reminiscent to the repetition of time in deconstruction. And no, I’m not sharing my capstone on here because it is way too long.

While there were a few hiccups here and there, I passed my capstone project with flying colors. I’m not going to complain about it because my masters degree was free (I got funding). I am grateful. I also wrote my capstone during the COVID lockdowns. This means nearly the entire thing was written in my underwear while eating Pringles. 🥴

* * *

Solipsism, Idealism, and Materialism

Solipsism holds the view that nothing exists outside of your mind; and that your mind is the only thing that exists in the world.

Idealism is an umbrella term. In general, it holds the view that there is a reality that exists outside your mind, such as other objects and other people’s mind. Yet, reality does not carry any ontological meanings other than the ones that you assign them through your intuitions and concepts.

There are different schools of idealism, but most of them falls under what I just said. For example, Platonic Idealism acknowledges the existence of numbers in the outside world. The pioneer of modern idealism is the Irish philosopher, George Berkeley (University of California is named after him). Berkelian idealism is not considered as solipsism because it acknowledges that there is at least more than one mind—such as the mind of God who produced reality. Berkeley was also one of the major figures who influenced Immanuel Kant that began the philosophical movement known as German Idealism.

The opposite of idealism is materialism which is an umbrella term that holds the view that matter (i.e. atoms) is the fundamental substance that is found through objects in nature. One can already guess that the philosophy of science is largely a materialist philosophy which opposes to idealist approaches such as German Idealism, phenomenology, and even existentialism. Other forms of materialism would be something like non-reductive materialism. Recently, there is also “transcendental materialism” which seeks to incorporate Kant’s idealist arguments along with other idealist philosophies into a materialist position. It attempts to incorporate positions found in phenomenology and even psychoanalysis.

Sometimes, people also consider realism in opposition to idealism. Realists takes on a position where one sees the world as it is without any filters. Whereas idealists would refer to this type of thinking as “Naïve realism” which implies how, while a realist may think they can see the world as it is, they are only seeing it through their own perspective.

There are lots of debates that goes on between idealism and materialism. We can for example, think of the problems between mind and matter in psychology. Is anxiety caused by various brain activities, hormonal responses, and the products of our different mental states? Or is it produced by our conscious and unconscious thoughts that are affected by our environments, which in turn, produces these mental states in our brains as such? Some of the debates between idealism and materialism are fierce and heated. Where idealists would argue that our consciousness (and unconscious mind) plays a key role to our mental health, materialists argues that these thoughts, feelings, and emotions are caused by various mental states and hormonal causalities and correlations which explain people’s behaviors. If you ask me, I’d say it’s a bit of both.

But we must also consider psychology, along with sociology and other soft sciences which are currently facing a “replication crisis” where scholars discover that a lot of the influential studies that these disciplines conducted cannot be replicated. As a result, it brings to question the validity of its findings (David Hume saw this problem 200 years ago). This is why you often see psychology studies with contradicting evidence. I think that sometimes, modern psychology tries too hard to be a science even when a good chunk of it cannot be explained through materialist positions. This is not to say that psychology is useless (quite the opposite). I just think human consciousness is far too complex to simply be explained through material causalities and correlations. Modern psychology is only part of the picture. Things like medications and other methods to remedy mental illnesses are band-aid solutions to much deeper problems of the human mind and how it engages with reality and modern society. While I certainly think these methods are better than nothing, I just don’t think they are end all solutions. I might be wrong though. 😊

* * *

Sometimes, people just wants to be heard…

It sounds so stupid on my part. But there were times in my life when someone shares their problems with me where my first thought would be to try and find ways to fix it. As a result, it makes me appear dismissive and insensitive to their feelings. It wasn’t until I got older where I realized that when people shares these things with me, a lot of them just want their situation and feelings to be heard and understood. They want someone to listen, and not some annoying guy trying to fix their problems with cold blooded logic.

This type of unintentional dismissive behavior is not only something that I do to other people, it is also something that I do to myself. As I got older, I realized how harmful it can be on others and myself as a human being—especially when you start to ignore and deny your own feelings and bottle them up inside. As I got older, I learned that it’s okay feel and learn how to understand and express our emotions properly.

I eventually realized that this type of behavior that I’ve grown up abiding to actually stems from my family relationships—particularly the relationship with my dad. For example, my dad has a very similar type of behavior towards my mom which I began noticing several years ago. I even told him that he shouldn’t be so dismissive because I can tell she gets hurt by it. But it wasn’t until later where I realize that I can be just as dismissive to people’s feelings. Talk about transference! Nowadays, I know when I should just shut up and listen.

But it may also likely or at least partly stem from the socio-cultural phenomenon that people refer as “toxic masculinity”. It’s interesting to think about it under the context of psychoanalysis. Think of the symbolic Other who challenges a macho man’s self-image (narcissism) by telling them to be more feminine and express their emotions and vulnerabilities. How do you think some of them would react? As Zizek would say, a man is a woman who believes he exists. Masculinity is a question of belief. There are lots of nuance to Lacanian views on sexuality with different variations of it depending on who you ask. But it is something that is best left for another time.

* * *

MBTI and Neuroscience

Check out Dario Nardi, well known for his work on MBTI theory and neuroscience. I’ve watched some of his lectures in the past on YouTube and they were pretty interesting.

* * *

I am left handed…

Please stop asking me in person Lol.

* * *

Accessible continental philosophy books

With no specific time period in mind. From the top of my head:

-Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil by Alain Badiou (taught to high school students in France)
-Infinite Thought by Alain Badiou (great intro to his major work, Being and Event)
-In Praise of Love by Alain Badiou (it’s really good and easy to read)
-On Forgiveness by Jacques Derrida
-Plato’s Pharmacy by Jacques Derrida
-Structure, Sign, and Play by Jacques Derrida
-Deconstruction in a Nutshell by John D. Caputo (great intro to deconstruction)
-Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life by Martin Hagglund (deconstruction)
-Kant on the Frontier: Philosophy, Politics, and the Ends of the Earth by Geoffrey Bennington (deconstruction)
On Escape by Emmanuel Levinas
Simulations by Jean Baudrillard
-Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes (on photography and philosophy)
-A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes (super famous book on love; very good)
-Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre (great intro to French existentialism)
-No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (this is a play)
-Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (play)
-The Courage of Truth by Michel Foucault
The Logic of Sense by Giles Deleuze
-The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays by Martin Heidegger
-Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of a Future by Friedrich Nietzsche
-Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche (gay used to mean “happy”)
-Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard
-The Concept of Anxiety by Soren Kierkegaard
-Civilization and its Discontents by Sigmund Freud (great book, easy read)
-The Psychopathology of Everyday Life by Sigmund Freud (on truth and error)
-Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis by Jacques Lacan
-How to Read Lacan by Slavoj Zizek
-What is Sex? by Alenka Zupancic (Lacanian psychoanalysis)
-Meditations of the First Philosophy by Rene Descartes
-Discourse on Inequality by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
-Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View by Immanuel Kant
-Cartesian Meditations by Edmund Husserl (great intro to phenomenology)
-Ideas by Edmund Husserl (phenomenology as the science of consciousness; great for advanced readers)
-The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism by Steven Shaviro
Tool-Being: Heidegger and Metaphysics for Objects by Graham Harman
After Finitude: A Necessity for Contingency by Quentin Meillassoux
We Have Never Been Modern by Bruno Latour
A Summary on Non-Philosophy by Francois Laruelle
-Ontology of the Accident by Catherine Malabou (great intro to Malabou; talks about trauma)
-The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (French Feminism for intermediate readers)
-Google Me: One Click Democracy by Barbara Cassin
-Power of Gentleness: Meditations on the Risk of Living by Anne Dufourmantelle
Of Hospitality by Anne Dufourmantelle and Jacques Derrida
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler (gender theory for advanced readers)
Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence by Judith Butler

All of these authors are ground breaking and very influential thinkers. Some of them are not easy to read, but are good places to start if you want to learn some of their ideas. I avoided listing major works (except for a few) because they might overwhelm beginners.

You’re welcome

* * *

First Crush

I remember my first elementary crush lasted nearly 8 years (at that point, I’m not sure if it still counts as a crush LOL). It wasn’t until my early 20s where I briefly reconnected with her and confessed that I really liked her back in the days. She told me she liked me as well and we both laughed it off. By that point, it obviously didn’t matter anymore. We knew we were each other’s past.

* * *

Does Bobby party?

No. The closest thing is probably family parties. I used to be a lot more outgoing in my early to mid 20s, but I was never much of a party person. I also rarely go to pubs and bars unless some extrovert friend takes me. And whenever I go, I am usually the person who drives people home when they get wasted because I don’t drink. 

Speaking of parties. The other day, one of my friends went to a party for work (he also doesn’t drink) and he told me how some guy got so wasted where he went outside to eat snow because he was thirsty, and everyone was like “Bruhhh, there is water in the restaurant”. 😂

* * *

The Family Birthdays

Every year, the birthdays of my family (mom, dad, sister and I) are always on the same day of the week. Nobody noticed until I brought it up and everyone was like, “How did you even notice that?”, and I’m just like: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

* * *

…Yes, Yes

“When I say ‘yes’ – as you know, ‘yes’ is the last word in Ulysses – when I say ‘yes’ to the other in the form of a promise or an agreement or an oath, the ‘yes’ must be absolutely inaugural. In relation to the theme today, inauguration is a ‘yes’, I say ‘yes’ as a starting point, nothing precedes the yes, the yes is the moment of the institution, the origin; it’s absolute originary. But when you say ‘yes’, if you don’t imply that the moment after that you will have to confirm the ‘yes’ by a second ‘yes’ – when I say ‘yes’, I immediately say ‘yes, yes’ – I commit myself to confirm my commitment in the next second, and tomorrow and after tomorrow and so on, which means that the ‘yes’ immediately duplicates itself, doubles itself. You cannot say ‘yes’ without saying ‘yes, yes’, which implies memory in the promise; I promise to keep the memory of the first yes and when you, in a wedding for instance, in a performative, in a promise, when you say ‘yes, I agree, I will’ you imply, ‘I will say ‘I will’ tomorrow and I will confirm my promise’, otherwise there is no promise. Which means that the ‘yes’ keeps in advance the memory of its own beginning. That’s the way it’s a different word. If tomorrow you don’t confirm that you have founded today your program you will not have any relation to it.

Tomorrow, perhaps next year, perhaps twenty years from now we will – if today there has been any inauguration; we don’t know yet, we don’t know, we can’t today, where I am speaking… who knows? So ‘yes’ has to be repeated, and immediately, immediately it implies what I call ‘iterability’, it implies the repetition of itself. Which is a threat, which is threatening at the same time because the second yes may simply be a parody or a record or mechanical repetition; it may say ‘yes, yes’ like a parrot, which means that the technical reproduction of the originary ‘yes’ is from the beginning threatening to the living origin of the ‘yes’, which means that the ‘yes’ is hounded by its own ghost, its own mechanical ghost, from the beginning. Which means that the second ‘yes’ will have to reinaugurate, to reinvent the first one. If tomorrow you don’t reinvent today’s inauguration… it will have been dead. Every day the inauguration has to be reinvented.”

—Jacques Derrida

For most people, Derrida speaks gibberish. For those who reads him well, this passage is stunningly beautiful. It is pretty well known among the Derridean circle. Certainly, if you read my post on Derrida (hyperlinked here), you may already get what he is saying. Understanding Derrida is like learning how to taste fine wine. It is an acquired taste at an intellectual level.

In Of Grammatology, Derrida talks about Jean-Jacques Rousseau on how a child’s first cry and words are the most authentic. For, one would not know if their second words are not used to manipulate you into giving them what they want. Therefore, the repetition of their second words involves a threat where it might simply be a parody of the first which makes it inauthentic. In order for their second words to be as authentic as the first, it must reinvent itself so to produce new meanings.

What Derrida refers as iterability of “Yes” is this experience of repetition and reinvention. It is the repetition of time that one experiences as they read this sentence. I can for example, write these words for you to read today, and you can read it again tomorrow, the day after, or ten years from now. And every time you reread these words from the future, it may offer new meanings that you had never thought from the past. Just like all my writings on this blog. The repetition of sameness becomes a repetition of difference. The future changes how the past is perceived. This is the natural destiny of language, where interpretation becomes reinvention through substitutions.

Thus, one cannot say “Yes” without immediately saying “Yes, yes” where the former haunts the latter that is repeated on the next day. Yet, the “Yes” is always threatened by a risk from the future where it may no longer be authentic through its own repetitions. A counterfeit yes, a repetition compulsion, a death drive, where it is like a parrot that only knows how to say, “Yes, yes”. To negate this threat, the yes must constantly be recontextualized and replaced through new systems of differences and metaphors (love). In order for the second, third, and fourth yes to remain authentic, it must be haunted by its own ghost where it gets reinvented in ways never imagined. The yes cannot be a simple repetition of the past.

When Derrida talks about “Yes” as a form of promise, he is implying that whenever we make a promise, or when we declare our love for someone, it must always maintain the authenticity of the very first declaration from history as its absolute origin. Such as during a wedding, when two people says, “Yes, I will” for the first time (just like a baby’s first words), they are making a promise towards a future, which often consists of obstacles ruptured through spacetime that they must overcome. And that everyday, such promise must be kept and reinvented in a new way. This new yes, while maintaining its original inauguration, becomes a difference through the production of new meanings. A new yes, a new love that is kept as alive and authentic as it were on the first day. Thus, for example, when we encounter an event where the human heart says yes, this very condition of yes must repeat until death in order to keep its promise. Everyday, the yes must be reborn. Just like memories. Just like love.

* * *

On Writing…

Perhaps after reading my last random thought post, you might be surprised by how much of myself are inscribed into some of my writings. Truth is, my writings are meaningless to me if I did not pour my heart and soul into it. There is so much more to my words than what most people see. You just have to learn how to see it.

Certainly, I think this is part of what a photographer does—to learn how to see. This is one of the most important things photography had taught me during my undergraduate days. To capture a photograph is to see the possible meanings that the world may unravel before our eyes. When done correctly, a photograph becomes visual poetry—a visual essay. In turn, a photographer becomes mediators and translators of light. To capture a photograph is to translate light into writing with our eyes.

After all, photography is a word that means “Light writing”, which is to say that, seeing is writing. In many ways, I am still a photographer. I still write with light. Only that, I no longer simply write with the light that blinds the eye. I also learned to write with the light that blinds the heart and soul. It might be as Nietzsche once said:

“Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood. Write with blood, and thou wilt find that blood is spirit.”

Commentaries, Contemplation, Popular Posts

On Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Death Drive, Reality, and Beyond

Last Edited, Feb 03, 2023: I removed some redundant sentences. 💩

* * *

“We are what we are because we have been what we have been.” —Sigmund Freud

Today, I will introduce one of the most famous and influential Freudian concept known as the “Death Drive”, or what many people refer as “repetition compulsion”. I will talk about reality, memories, dreams, and give you a glimpse at what the Lacanian “Real” entails. I will revisit major themes from my previous posts on desire, love, along with insights on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, art, poetry, jokes, and why some people are attracted to the “bad boy” or “bad girl” persona. I will offer insights on the unconscious mind and the laws of society with how it drives human conflicts in world history. I will also show you how Lacanian / Freudian psychoanalysis crosses paths with a few other major field of studies such as Immanuel Kant’s transcendental metaphysics, Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction, Jean Baudrillard’s ideas on simulation, and Freudo-Marxism.

This post was written with the assumption that you read my other psychoanalytic writings (Part I, Part II, and Part III hyperlinked). While I don’t think it is as stylish as Part III which talks about love, a decent chunk of this post are outtakes from it. So don’t be surprised if you see themes in here that are reminiscent to Part III.

Please fasten your seatbelts, as Bobby is about to take you from love and desire, all the way to the darkest side of humanity.💀

* * *

Reality and Real

“Whoever loves becomes humble. Those who love have, so to speak, pawned parts of their narcissism”.

—Sigmund Freud

In Part I, I introduced the relationship between the split subject who perceives everything in the world like a mirror as they get mediated through the symbolic Other. Subjects and objects functions as mirror reflection to parts of who they are as human beings. For Freud, everyone is a narcissist where we are self-obsessed as we try to satisfy our pleasures (sometimes known as the ego-libido). To love is to become humble and pawn parts of our narcssisism for our beloved. In Lacanian terms, to love someone is to become the split subject where we establish a relationship with our beloved through the mediation of the Other. The act of loving someone is to unconsciously locate our wound or lack (castration; split subjectivity) in the other person where love is not about sameness (our narcssisism and projections), but difference.

Freud once famously asserted that there were three instances in human history which highlighted the humility of humanity, where humans dealt a significant blow to their narcissisms and defeated humanity’s significance in the universe. The first instance was Nicholai Copernicus who, during a time where everyone believed the Earth was at the center of the universe, discovered that it was just a planet orbiting around the Sun which happens to be one star among trillions more. The existence of Earth is insignificant in our cosmos. The second instance was Charles Darwin, who showed us how we are not even that special on Earth, but are simply evolved animals. The third instance was Freud himself (talk about narcissism). Not only are we not special on a planet that is not at the center of the universe, we are not the masters of our conscious mind. As sentient beings, we are controlled by the unconscious mind where we are driven by the pleasure principle and death drive which gives us the urge to compulsively repeat certain behaviors over the course of our lives. Civilization, as Freud said, began when “an angry person cast a word instead of a rock”, where the unconscious mind was born.

In my previous posts, I mentioned how the split subject is always trying to capture something from the Real that always escape their conscious grasp (object a). Such as the man who repeatedly treated his girlfriends in the same way was trying to recapture the way his father treated his mother when he was a child. The effects of being unconscious to what one tries to recapture through transference is due to the influence of the symbolic Other and how it imposes laws onto the split subject. The way speaking subjects are mediated through the discourse of the Other conceals the Real through misrecognitions, censorships, errors, and wishful projections that consciously reveals as our desires which warps our perceptions of reality.

To psychoanalyze is to besiege a fortified castle where one attempts to discover what lies behind the walls that are erected by the Other and our mind’s defensive mechanisms which conceals the Real. The goal is to figure out what the subject unconsciously desires versus what the Other desires from them. It is to figure out the Real of their desires; or the truth of their desires. Ultimately, one can say that psychoanalysis attempts to resolve the analysand’s problems that are found in their unconscious transference(s) that gets mediated through the Other because one must always experience the world through the language of the Other (we must conform to laws of society, etc.). As split subjects, one is always mediated through language where the Real is the point where no symbolic or imagination can represent. While we can use symbolic language to describe the Real or imagine what the Real consists of, the absoluteness of the Real resists both symbolic and imaginary. Lacan once described the Real as “the absence of absence”: the absence of the symbolic and imagination of the word “absence”.

Thus, the first rule of the Real is that you cannot talk about or imagine the Real. The Real is also not the same as our everyday experience of reality. Many people tend to think that reality always appear as they see it. Just as our interpretation of reality and other people can be influenced by our bias, history, and other contextual and temporal frameworks, in psychoanalysis, reality is constructed through the symbolic and imaginary which gets influenced by the Real (i.e. our unconscious desires). No matter how “real” someone thinks they can be (“Get real!”), or how real they think they perceive reality, it is always filtered through the split subject’s symbolic and imaginary relations. And what produces the shapes of the symbolic and imaginary—such as the different narratives which shapes our reality and who we are—is the Real, where object a causes our desires to produce various censored meanings and interpretations of reality. This is why touching the Real can affect how we perceive reality. It is by re-establishing our relationship with the Real which changes the shapes of the symbolic and imaginary (the fantasies, narratives and stories that we use to narrate reality and ourselves). Since the split subject is always mediated through symbolic language and the laws of the Other, reality is never quite Real.

One can perhaps, think of those who believes that the news are fabricated and prefers a reality that they think is more real. While no news are accurate in representing reality, it is often much more comforting for people to stay in their symbolic representation of reality than having it shattered by knowledge that might not always fit their narratives and perspectives. Perhaps those who sees all news as inaccurate news are not much different to those who believes that all news are real. In both cases, the Real is concealed by the symbolic narratives of the individual or the information of the news which produces and influences their perceptions of reality as such. Not only is this where we see interdisciplinary relationships with Jean Baudrillard’s famous ideas on simulation, where reality becomes more real than real, it is also where we see how contemporary media, internet, and other forms of digital mediums becomes a simulation of reality where such mediums functions as the Other that usurps and controls the fantasies of the subject and their perceptions (I wrote about Baudrillard here).

I would like to digress for a moment to offer some contextual background on this Lacanian point of view of the Real (I spoke about this in some of my other posts). The idea that reality is never Real was influenced by the history of philosophy, particularly 18th century German idealist philosopher Immanuel Kant, who was renown for the idea that humans can never know anything in itself. Kant argues that humans can only experience the phenomenon of objects via intuitions of space and time, but never the object in it-self (noumenon). We can only experience the world from our first person perspective where we can never experience from the perspective of water, or the perspective of the other person that we are talking to. While one cannot know anything in-itself, it is through this limit which allow humans to manipulate objects. If I know water is made up of H2O, I can manipulate its properties and produce something else from it. To claim that water consists of H2O is to, in some sense, idealize the properties of water. This procedure is famously known as “transcendental idealism”. In such case, the transcendental subject sets the limits to all human knowledge within various branches of metaphysics and phenomenology for the last two centuries. What I presented here, is one of the most powerful and influential argument found in German idealism where such experience of human subjectivity became one of the greatest mysteries of the mind that even neuroscientists struggle to explain. Human experience is fundamentally finite in that two people may subjectively experience the color of the blue sky differently, even if they both objectively agree that the sky is blue. We can’t know for sure because we can never know anything in itself.

In many ways, the Real and object a resembles the Kantian thing-in-itself where one’s conscious mind can never fully grasp. Such impossibility of knowing anything in-itself is reminiscent to how I introduced the Lacanian mirror stage where everything in the world is a reflection of who we are. The other (person that we talk and relate to) is a reflection of our ego and desires where we often transfer and project past emotions, experiences and meanings onto them (a form of misrecognition). Reality is never quite real in the sense that humans are sometimes caught in their Imaginary (narcissism) where they might, for example, mistake someone’s friendliness as romantic interest as they project their desires onto them.

Finally, Lacan famously points out that, “There is no sexual relationship” partly because we can never know anything in-itself. We are never the other person. This is a more philosophical way where we can talk about why love is about difference which involves our attempts at traversing our own finitude of always getting caught in our own perspective. Another way we can interpret this Lacanian passage is to recognize how sexual difference represents the impossibility of representing the Real. As a result, this produces what our cultures refer as “masculine” and “feminine” identities as symptoms; or as whatever gender people identify as. In psychoanalysis, sexuality is the wound on how the subject gets split. Whereas to love, is to unconsciously locate this split/wound (castration) in the other person.

Metaphor and Metonymy

“To try to write love is to confront the muck of language; that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little, excessive and impoverished.”

“The text you write must prove to me that it desires me. This proof exists: it is writing. Writing is the science of the various blisses of language, its Kama Sutra.”

—Roland Barthes

Since the split subject always unconsciously conceals the Real through their symbolic, its effects can be witnessed through the subject’s relationship with language which takes position as their perceptive experiences of everything in the world (i.e. we think, interpret, and perceive the world through language where we use words to describe our perceptions and emotions). As a result, it produces the movements of metaphor and metonymy which relates to the ways reality and dreams are experienced by the split subject. Let us together, slowly move through a few small passages by Lacan:

“What is at issue is to refind—in the laws that govern this other scene, which Freud, on the subject of dreams, designates as the scene of the unconscious—the effects that are discovered at the level of the chain of materially unstable elements that constitutes language: effects that are determined by the double play of combination and substitution in the signifier, according to the two axes for generating the signified, metonymy and metaphor; effects that are determinant in instituting the subject.”

To paraphrase, the goal for Lacan, is to find the “other scene” which Freud discovers in the split subject who dreams. Lacan assigns the effects of the unconscious mind within the instabilities of language which mediates the split subject. This instability is witnessed by what Lacan refers as metaphor and metonymy which institutes the split subject (the two terms respectively translates to Freud’s concepts of condensation and displacement). In regards to desire, Lacan writes:

“And the enigmas that desire—with its frenzy mimicking the gulf of infinite and the secret collusion whereby it envelops the pleasure of knowing and of dominating in jouissance—poses for any sort of “natural philosophy” are based on no other derangement of instinct than the fact that it is caught in the rails of metonymy, eternally extending toward the desire for something else. Hence its “perverse” fixation at the very point of suspension of the signifying chain at which the screen-memory is immobilized and the fascinating image of the fetish becomes frozen”.

Here, Lacan points out how desire is constantly deferred through the extension for something else where words and meanings gets displaced (this is similar to my first post where I spoke about the +1 and -1 where lack is always concealed by next words in sentences). These displaced meanings are unconscious to the speaking subject, but is something that the Lacanian analyst tries to identify in the analysand. Our desire for certain things or people in our lives is actually a desire for something/someone else that is unconscious to us who are displaced, warped, and censored by the Other.

Meanwhile, Lacan points out how perversion arises when the split subject fixates on certain objects or signifiers through their screened memories (will get to this later). The idea of perversion relates back to Freud who thinks sexuality is perverse in that parts of it is fetishistic in nature. This is most prominently seen in masculine desire, where men tend to fixate on certain signifiers and objects—such as specific parts of a woman’s body. One part of masculine desire is characterized by fetishism in that they get sexually aroused through symbolic language and signifiers (body parts, pieces of clothing, tattoos, etc.). In order for a man or anyone to declare their love for someone, they must in a certain sense, give up parts of their desires and become feminine. They must pawn parts of their narcissistic object relations (ego-libido) for the person they love. Before we move on, let us take a look at what Lacan writes about metaphor:

Metaphor’s two-stage mechanism is the very mechanism by which symptoms in the analytic sense, are determined. Between the enigmatic signifier of sexual trauma and the term it comes to replace in a current signifying chain, a spark flies that fixes in a symptom—a metaphor in which flesh or function is taken as a signifying element—the signification, that is inaccessible to the conscious subject, by which the symptom may be dissolved”.

Where metonymy and desire displaces meanings and words or objects, metaphor replaces various signifiers for other signifiers; or the replacement of objects for other objects in real life (i.e. the mother for the wife, ex-boyfriend for new boyfriend, etc.). The metaphorical signifier conceals the trauma (Real) which functions as the truth of the split subject’s symptoms (desires) and has the ability to dissolve it. This may sound familiar to Part III on how I pointed out that love has the ability to dissolve our symptoms and halt our repetitive symptoms. This occurance often takes place without the subject realizing it where love gradually changes people. 

All of this comes down to the idea that love is metaphor and desire is metonymy. But while love and desire are two sides of the same coin, it is very common for people to mistake desire as love (lust). We can see this when men sometimes seek for women who appears to have the “bad girl” persona. This happens when the woman is unconsciously displaced from the man’s mother, siblings, past lovers, or someone who took care of them during their early life. In such case, the woman will often signify to the man as pure desire who is ready to “break the rules”, even if it may not be the case on the other end. Such woman may unintentionally arouse and provoke the man’s drives where they might actively mistake their desires as love. In fact, it is also common to have both people who mistakes their desires as love. If Lacan is correct that love is always mutual and that love has nothing to do with sex, perhaps when someone declares their love to the other where they happen to not love them back (or “love” them in the same way), then they have mistaken their desires as love. This is another way we can interpret Lacan that is different from my approach in Part III.

Meanwhile, feminine desire can also function similarly which can be recognized through displacing the image of the woman’s father. This is why some women are attracted to the bad boy—a man who treats the woman opposite to their father (with love and care—hopefully). Just like the bad girl, the bad boy often signifies excitement, fun, and lust, who are adventurous and ready to break the rules. In order for anyone to desire, they must always be with the wrong person where they unconsciously displace their family figures or someone from the past who loved them. If they encounter a person who unconsciously resembles to these figures, it would cause them to not simply desire, but produce the effects of love. Desire must always consist of a certain structure of impossibility that the Other prohibits where the subject can only be partially satisfied which produces its effects—just like people who listens to their favourite songs on repeat (from Part II). Yet, there are many instances where people will have a tendency to satisfy their desires by transgressing the law (i.e. neurotics, which we all are in some ways). Hence the appeal of bad girl or bad boy who appears to be ready to break laws.

This brings up interesting thoughts on how we live in a culture that is obsessed with pornography which often consists of scenes and fantasies that breaks the rules of everyday life. Similar things can be seen in films, video games, literature, all the way to your favourite “reality” TV shows (as Baudrillard might say, the characteristics of pornography is everywhere in our digital world). Reality TV is never real because they perpetuate an ideological fantasy that may usurp and control the viewers where they impose such fantasies onto their own lives (in this sense, reality TV is more real than real; it is a simulation of reality). All of these can be seen as examples of different forms of sublimations where the split subject attempts to turn an inappropriate fantasy, idea, or impulse into something that is socially acceptable so to conform to the laws of the Other. Furthermore, one can also think of dark jokes, sex jokes, racist jokes (any jokes) as common examples of sublimation. When done correctly, sublimations are considered as a healthy way to deal with repressed desires, impulses and trauma. We can think of doctors and nurses who sometimes likes to make dark jokes as a way to relieve their stress from their jobs, where they regularly witness people die.

Nevertheless, we begin to understand what Freud meant when he famously thought how excessive love kills desire, and excessive desire kills love. In the former case, the other person unconsciously resembles to the lover as someone they cannot desire due to love transference and the effects of the Other who prohibits them via laws. In other words, their partner unconsciously resembles too closely to their family figures, or someone who they used to love (where they can no longer be together). This is also one of the reasons why Lacan refers to love as a form of suicide because it diminishes our desires. In some cases, it may even be the case where one person declares their love for the other, where the other person stops desiring them altogether. It is also why love is not about our desires (the ego-libido; Imaginary), but the other person (which relates to the Symbolic Other). Love often arrives when we least expect it; whereas our desires will lead us to look for love in the wrong places.

In the latter case where excessive desire kills love, the split subject’s desire displaces the family figures or whoever loved them in the past onto their partner who may come to represent the movement of pure desire which produces the effects of lust. In such case, love is not suicidal, but gets caught in the subject’s own narcssisism (the Imaginary relationship with their ego-libido). This is where we see things in dating cultures where people “hook-up”, have “flings”, or where they have relationships where they keep things at the level of light fun where they serve their own desires and pleasures. In summary, one either loves the other that unconsciously resembles someone from their past, or one loves someone as they love themselves (narcissism).

The way the split subject relates to the other person is always unconsciously influenced by past relationships due to transference. Yet, since the subject must always pass through the symbolic Other, real love must overcome the individual’s narcissistic tendencies and their desire to satisfy their ego-libido. The conscious recognition of love appears to the split subject as difference (a surprise) due to the effects of their desires and wishful projection that warps, censors, and distance their views of the other person when they first meet them—just like the relationship between reality and Real. Love is not a relationship between two narcissists serving their own pleasures. Love is a form of care and support for the other person. It is about who cleans the toilet and does the dishes. Regardless, in all cases, most relationships is about finding the right balance between the two—which is to love and desire in a healthy way.

Unless the person went through a successful analysis, unconscious transferences that the split subject projects onto their partner are often traumatic and unresolved. Most people will encounter obstacles in their relationships due to transferences from their past relationships with their parents and old partners. The problems between two lovers is the problem of transference on how each individual repeatedly transfers unresolved past experiences and traumas onto the other. It is similar to a person who is in an abusive relationship where their partner repeatedly treats them in the same way over and over again. To be sure, the psychoanalyst’s job does not involve solving the analysand’s relationship issues because they are not a couples therapist. Instead, their job is to dissolve the symptoms of the analysand and resolve their unconscious transferences that they repeatedly and unconsciously project onto their partner. At the end of a successful analysis, the analysand does not need to be told how they should treat their partner correctly (whereas your average therapist will help you set up a plan and tells you to do this or that). Once their unconscious transferences are resolved, the split subject will automatically treat their partner correctly.

Above all else, the metaphorical movement of love is the source for poetic effect (art, poetry, music, etc.). Love is creativity in the making where new metaphors and meanings are produced through the experience of lack or nonmeaning that we locate in the other. Love gives rise to foreignness (otherness) and new possibilities—just like the event of an apple that fell on Newton’s head, or the random encounter of someone who shakes your world. Love is a construction of something new that is original and innovative. It is not a simple reproduction or simulation of the past. We can also conceive of this creativity as how people resolve their differences in a relationship, or how they compromise for each other which produces new ways to live (hence, love is what makes relationships work). Over time, love between two people becomes a work of art where they produce a new life and truth together.

In my last post, you may notice how I intentionally used metaphorical examples through replacement of different examples. I also metaphorically replaced love for infinity which happens to be the theme of the entire piece. Such movement of love is also recognized when Lacan famously proclaimed his “return to Freud” who ended up producing a new school of psychoanalytic thought. Love marks the excess or impossibility of symbolic language which is represented through the experience of lack. As Lacan would say, love is a pebble laughing in the sun!

Dreams, Memories, and Reality

“We never wake up; desire sustain dreams”
—Jacques Lacan

What I’ve been trying to show you is how transference consists of movements between metaphors (love) and metonymy (desire). This weave between metaphor and metonymy is produced by the mediation of the split subject through the Other who imposes laws, prohibition, and censorship. As a result, metaphor and metonymy are symptom formations that is found through the split subject’s articulation of the Other’s language. Such symptoms does not simply affect how we desire, love, and perceive reality, it also affects our dreams. Just as the one who loves experiences the Real of their desires without the tragic dimension, dreamers also at certain points of their dreams, closes in on the Real.

When one dreams, the split subject attempts to satisfy their unconscious desires where its contents are presented as metaphors and metonymy. A good example that some people might relate to is when they have strange dream scenarios that has to do with washrooms, toilets, and water, only for them to wake up realizing that they have to use the washroom. Dreams will often present and conceal our unconscious desires through metaphors and metonymy because our mind is always censored by the symbolic Other. Our mind naturally protects and resists the symbolization and imagination of the Real by concealing it through language. Hence, it is important for Freud that one must interpret dreams during the subject’s waking state and besiege the fortified castle. The Lacanian Real is concealed behind all the nonsensical symbolic metaphors and metonymic movements found within the dream and in our everyday lives because once again, the Other prohibits, filters and censors the split subject who dreams. This is why the things we dream about are not what they appear to be.

Perhaps many of us can recall a time where we woke up from our dreams due to something weird or horror that happened in it—something that you cannot comprehend, interpret, and produce meaning out of in a waking state. It is almost as if your mind runs into a brick wall that resists symbolization and imagination. Well! It is the moment when we jolt awake where we briefly experience the effects of the Real. It represents the traumatic point where your consciousness can no longer comprehend what is happening through the imaginary and symbolic. Your mind’s defensive mechanism kicks in and wakes you up before you experience the Real at full force. As a result, you may sometimes wake up with anxiety due to some horror that happened in the dream (you experience anxiety when you get too close to the Real or object a). The Real resists symbolization and imagination which snaps you awake. And it is because we can longer process the Real in our dreams where we wake up to face “reality”—a reality that is always mediated by the Other via metaphor and metonymy. Simply put, humans face reality because we always fail to confront the Real(ity) of our dreams. We wake up from our dreams just so we can continue dreaming in reality.

Something similar occurs through the way humans recall their childhood memories. In a famous essay called “Screened Memories”, Freud talks about how our childhood memories are often distorted due to defensive mechanisms and the condition of denial. Freud believes that no one really forgets anything in their lives. Our unconscious mind records and stores every living moment as one is always thinking where they do not think they are thinking. Through the discourse of the Other, certain memories and thoughts are permitted to surface into the subject’s consciousness which allows them to recall such memories and articulate it in various ways (the subject gets filtered through the Other). It turns out that memories are also always concealed and distorted through metaphor and metonymy.

Freud uses the mystic writing pad as an example on how memories between our consciousness and unconscious mind works. The mystic writing pad is a children’s toy where a piece of plastic covers a large piece of wax underneath. The child can inscribe markings on the top layer, and once it gets replaced, the writing pad becomes cleared, yet its previous writings are indented in the wax underneath. Over time, more inscriptions (memories) are written and overwritten on this piece of wax (unconscious), yet cannot be accessed by the top layer (consciousness).

The mystic writing pad is important if you are interested in deconstruction because this is where Jacques Derrida talks about the relationship between writing and the unconscious mind in a famous book called Writing and Difference (found in the essay, “Freud and the Scene of Writing”). In it, Derrida argues that writing takes position as our perception before perception can take position as itself where we perceive reality through writing (or language; symbolic). In other words, writing supplements our natural perceptions (like culture supplementing nature which I spoke about in a post found here). There is always a system of knowledge that is written over our perceptions which determines how we interpret reality through—in Lacanian terms—the symbolic and imaginary. This is where we arrive at one of the major intersections between deconstruction and psychoanalysis where the two disciplines are often considered as opposition to each other while also having many striking similarities. One can for example, think of the relationship between how signifiers are constantly displaced and replaced versus how meaning is always produced through the movement of spacetime and differance within the discourse of deconstruction (I introduced Derrida’s major ideas here).

Death Drive and Repetition Compulsion

“The goal of all life is death.”
—Sigmund Freud

In a famous and controversial essay called, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud discovers the death drive through one of his patient who repeatedly dreams about their traumatic experiences from the past (PTSD). As mentioned earlier, it is thought that dreams are a way for the subject to unconsciously satisfy their unattainable and repressed desires so to achieve pleasure (precisely, “the pleasure principle”). Due to our mind’s defensive mechanisms and the discourse of the Other, the contents of the dreams are never what they appear to be. We don’t exactly know what desires we are satisfying because the repressed material is concealed underneath the contents of the dream through metaphor and metonymy—just like how lack is concealed underneath our everyday spoken language (I spoke about this in Part I). But if dreams are a way for the subject to satisfy their repressed desires, why would people dream of their traumatic experiences if it caused them so much pain and suffering? If the contents of our dream is never what they appear to be, could there be an even deeper point of trauma that the split subject cannot perceive (i.e. the Real)? Or could their dreams happen to be much closer to the Real than others? This is where Freud discovers that pain and suffering, in some ways, satisfies our desire for pleasure. It is where we get into sadism and masochism.

Most people associate S&M with kinky things where people enjoy giving and receiving pain in some sexual way. In reality, the themes of S&M is much more broad that can be found at the fundamental level of both sex and death drive. Not only do humans live according to the pleasure principle (i.e. happiness, etc.), Freud thinks humans also unconsciously desire to self-destruct and inflict pain on themselves through their unconscious urge to repeat certain behaviors. Think of our example of the man who unknowingly treats all his girlfriends in the exact same way from my last post (Part III). Did it occur to him that, while he may not consciously enjoy breaking up and treating his girlfriends in whatever way he did, does he unconsciously achieve satisfaction by inflicting pain onto himself by breaking up with them? Is this why he repeats such behaviors? We can also see this in people who are prone to uncontrollable negative thought patterns, where they continuously inflict pain on themselves (often found in people with depression where they don’t have control over them). While modern treatments of such experience involves things like Cognitive Behavior Therapy that attempts to halt these thought patterns, in psychoanalysis, these thoughts are sometimes related to sadism and masochism and the unconscious attempts to satisfy the split subject’s pleasure drives through pain and suffering. 

There was a real patient of a woman who enjoyed sleeping with many men only when she got really drunk (if I remember correctly, this patient was from Bruce Fink, a Lacanian analyst). Through psychoanalysis, she discovered that her symptoms was an attempt at recapturing her childhood experience where her father sexually abused her every time he was drunk. Why would anyone want to unconsciously recapture such traumatic experience in their adult life? While most people do not wish to repeat such harmful symptoms during their conscious state and would seek for help, perhaps the reason why they cannot control these repetitive symptoms is because they are not the masters of their conscious mind—just like the person with uncontrollable negative thoughts. In other words, and as disturbing as this may sound, they unconsciously enjoy repeating these symptoms because it causes them suffering which partially satisfies the pleasure principle.

While we may unconsciously repeat many things in our lives, we often enjoy our symptoms even if it causes us pain and may lead to our deaths. Moreover, these examples also shows us how love transference can involve unpleasant traumatic experiences from the past which causes people to experience pain and suffering over and over again. The analyst’s job is to interrupt these repetitive symptoms and create healthier patterns and transferences between their conscious and unconscious mind. We can also put this in context with my last post: why do we take risks to be in love when it may lead to suffering either through overcoming differences or separation? As Freud once famously said, “we are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, never so helplessly unhappy as when we have lost our loved object or its love”. Yet, many of us will often choose to love, even if it may end up hurting us badly.

Think of people who smokes knowing that it might give them cancer and kill them, or people who excessively drinks knowing how bad it is for their body. Or someone who knowingly increases his sugar intake despite their diabetes. Think of the players in Squid Game who willingly joins the game while knowing that they will likely die. Or the person who commits infidelity knowing that they will lose the person they love most. In order to desire, there must always be a form of impossibility that is produced by the symbolic law. What difference is there between the Squid Game players, the person who buys lottery tickets, and the social climber who wishes to achieve the American dream? All of their desires carries a certain form of impossibility of breaking the laws of normalcy and becoming obscenely rich, achieving infinite pleasures and having high social status (it consists of the same fundamental principles to people who desires the “bad boy” or “bad girl”). There is always a certain form of impossibility which produces their desires that they want to transgress. The desire for overcoming the Other is one of the symptoms of an obsessional neurotic where they produce healthy or unhealthy unconscious sublimations and transferences. 

An interesting way to understand the symptoms of an obsessional neurotic is to think of a man who cheats on their wife. While the neurotic man may think they are consciously in love with the woman who they are having an affair with, they may actually be unconsciously obsessed with overcoming the structure of symbolic law and censorship so to have infinite pleasures or desires with many women (this example is also applicable in reverse).

Essentially, neuroticism involves human attempts to stay in control and keep themselves above the law and the Other at bay—even if the latter is always already here at full force. As a result, the subject produces a fantasy that sustains their desires and conscious beliefs that they are above the law who are in conscious control. It can sometimes be seen in people who tries to hide parts of themselves from the Other due to their insecurities or low-self esteem. One can even think of people who can never stop making inappropriate jokes as part of their unconscious attempts at remaining above the Other’s impositions. While everyone is a neurotic, the goal is to find healthier ways to sublimate these symptoms and desires of the split subject and turn them into something that is socially acceptable, so to speak.

Kant once famously spoke of a scenario where if a man was given a chance to satisfy his desires with the woman of his dreams at the expense of his life, the man would turn it down. After all, if one dies, their desires would end forever. It would make no logical sense that the man would choose to satisfy his desires which leads to his death over following the law which seeks to regulate it—the law which castrates and splits him, producing repression, denials, sublimations and deferral of his desires. Following this scenario, Lacan famously propose the opposite: if a man was given an opportunity to sleep with the woman of his dreams, he will take up on the offer despite his death. Is this what happens with the players who takes part in the squid games? Or the person who has diabetes but continues to have excessive sugar intake? 

These are some pedagogical examples of the dialectics of desire and how humans always, in some ways, attempts to override the law due to their repetition compulsions, even if it leads to unhealthy habits, suffering, and their death. Ultimately, it is through these repetitions where we see the death drive in action.

The Libidinal Economy, Desire, and its Radical Overcoming

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” —Sigmund Freud

The term “Libidinal economy” was most famously used by a French philosopher named Francois Lyotard who published a book with the same name. Such term however, is often thought to be derived from Freud. In general, the term refers to the incorporations of psychoanalytic thought with contemporary economics. The libidinal economy suggests how every economic exchange of consumer goods is an exchange and satisfaction of our pleasures, fetishes, and desires (this is where we get into ideas such as “micro-politics of desire” that Giles Deleuze is famous for). Yet, humans satisfy their desires without reaching its goal because the laws of society (Other) prohibits us from fully being satisfied. As a result, it leads to endless consumerism and content consumption (think of events like Christmas where people go on a consumer frenzy). Our society’s establishment of laws is to regulate our desires while human frustrations might make them transgress these regulations so to satisfy themselves.

Freud believed that deep down, humans don’t really want freedom. The moment humans establish laws so to produce equality and liberty in society (whatever this implies), human unconscious arises which creates all sorts of necrotic tendencies, compulsions, violence, and mental illnesses where they are forced to repress some of their personal desires that the law may prohibit. Freud takes on the position where humans are constantly at war between the laws that they produce in society, versus their animal instincts and desires that they unknowingly repress into their unconscious mind.

Despite all the idealizations of freedom that people fight for in the political arena, our society is perhaps, not as free as what most people think—even if we consciously perceive that we are free to do what we want. The question of freedom isn’t so much about people who can desire what they want in society. Rather, it is about why we desire for the things that we do in society and what makes us desire for such things (this is where we get into things like social control). For one must not forget that, our desire is the Other’s desire. The imposition of the Other is always already unconsciously at work in our minds through language, laws, and censorship which are reinforced by society and other people around us. In this sense, freedom becomes an impossible task and oppression had already existed since the beginning of human civilization, when an angry person casted a word instead of a rock.

This leads to ideas that we can see within the discourse of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the (in)famous inventors of communism and socialism who were well known for their critique on capitalism (a four volume book called, Capital; or Das Kapital in German). Marx saw how, while capitalism appears to be a free market economy, it is actually authoritarianism in disguise where the world is controlled by rich corporations, oligarchs and governments that has the power to influence other countries (known as globalization), manipulate and control people through media, politics, and exploitation of workers. And that ultimately, these corporations has the ability to avoid and take advantage of labour laws from their country by outsourcing production in poorer and less restricted countries. After all, contemporary capitalism is about making as much profit as possible in the most efficient and cost effective way—even if it may involve marketing manipulation, dishonesty, replacing workers with machines, slipping between the laws and exploiting / killing others so to maintain their power and control over them.

Recall when I spoke of how masculine desire often consists of a fetishistic dimension where people would fetishize various body parts. This idea is also used similarly under the context of “Fetish commodity”, a well known Marxist idea where people buy and consume products while fetishizing various social dimensions of it—such as its relationships with certain ideologies; like how a Louis Vuitton purse signifies wealth and social status (in sociology, this is called conspicuous consumption). In other instances, one buys an iPhone or MacBook while forgetting how many of these products are produced by exploiting poor labour wages from other countries. I won’t talk too much about fetish commodity today, but what I wish to point out is how society forces us into a structure (Other) where it teaches us how and what to desire, where everything is about self-interest—even in relationships. Everything is about myself and my happiness and pleasure. One can even say that society teaches us how to be narcissists, selfish, and ego-centric, which leads people into all sorts of mental illnesses.

Adam Smith who pioneered modern economics once famously wrote about the “invisible hand” and how a free market economy prevails when every individual within its system are serving themselves. By doing so, they would “invisibly” benefit society via generating and stimulating the economy. But is this always the case? Does serving ourselves result in serving others and benefit them? It wasn’t until centuries later where Lacanians and Freudo-Marxists took to humorously recoin the term as the “invisible hand job”—a way to criticize our hedonistic and self-serving, self-obsessed world where people think they are serving others, even when they are serving their self interests, political gains, and pleasures. Perhaps serving ourselves in society might not always benefit others around us after all. Yet, we are always caught in a society where we are forced to serve ourselves where we may exploit its structures and transgress the law and harm other people—just like the person who cheats on their partner; or the person who desires someone who is ready to break the laws.

Due to human desire who may inevitably transgress the laws in all sorts of ways, is it possible to establish a utopian society where everyone is equal? Was Freud right that humans always have a tendency to break laws and self destruct through their repetition compulsions? Is there such thing as perpetual peace? Perhaps the reason why communism had always failed was because Marx never considered the problem of human desire (or human nature). And it is for this reason which led Freud to allude to how communism will never work, as he recites the famous Latin phrase, “Homo homini lupus”: a man is a wolf to another man (from his famous book called, Civilization and its Discontents). Freud believed that humans always had a tendency to exploit laws and do all sorts of evil things to their neighbors for the sake of their desires and pleasures when they are given the opportunity. This can be seen during the darkest times in human history, where the madness of humanity and their neuroticisms are revealed in some of the most violent and grotesque ways (i.e. genocide, colonialism, slavery, war crimes, murder, mass rape, etc.).

Perhaps one of the things that Freud also tried to suggest is how there can never be a communist society where people would “live according to their needs” as Marx would say. There is always something left to desire, something left to transgress where our desires may one day get the best of us. Yet, while in this post, we have explored many negative ways humans transgresses the law, Lacan also saw how certain forms of transgressions are necessary in society and within the individual in order for real changes to occur (the ethical question is how these transgressions are achieved). One can perhaps, think of such transgressions as some of humanity’s greatest revolutions and protests where they tried to produce real changes in society. It is reminiscent to the function of love, where one discovers new possibilities and produces a truth as they attempt to assign new symbolic meanings that takes the place of what was previously there (precisely, the function of metaphor).

Last time, I spoke of how love can turn selfish into selfless. If love can dissolve our symptoms where we pawn or give up parts of our narcissisms for the other person which makes us humble, could love be the antidote to the problems we have in our world today? At its height, love shows us that it has the ability to traverse across some of the greatest differences between people and halt their repetitive symptoms. For where there is love, there is less desire; and where there is pure desire, there is less love. If society teaches us how to desire, love will not only interrupt our repetition compulsions, it may allow us to produce something new in our lives, where we discover new ways to desire and love like never before. Thus perhaps, what we need most is a revolution of love that surprises the world. 

At the fundamental level, we can begin to see the significance on how repetition and desire takes over our lives without us realizing. We can perhaps, start to see how someone who enjoys listening to their favourite songs repeatedly can resemble so closely to major events in human history. Just as Freud and Lacan saw how humans have a tendency to repeat certain behaviors who transfers past experiences onto the present, Marx, while referencing G.W.F. Hegel, once famously pointed out how “world historical facts and personages always happen twice”. This famous passage originates from a book called Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, where Marx compares Napoleon III who failed to imitate his uncle, the Napoleon that everyone knows from the French Revolution. One way we can interpret this passage is Marx’s suggestion that those who are involved in revolutionary changes and transgressions of society are often trapped and haunted by ideologies and events from their past (i.e. Napoleon III haunted by his uncle). In this sense, history always had a tendency to repeat in various ways, as people gets haunted by their past memories and transferences. It is just like the man who treated his girlfriends in the same ways due his transference from how his father treated his mother during his early life. It also resembles to all the failures of communism in different countries that took place in the last century.

In the same way that love has the ability to interrupt our repetition compulsions, perhaps the idea of communism was Marx’s attempt at halting the repetition of history and people’s tendency to get haunted by their past. Perhaps Marx invented communism out of love in hopes for a better world, even if it failed miserably every time humans tried it (i.e. Soviet Union, China, and North Korea). To be sure, communism failed not because its system is flawed (unlike what most people think, government does not exist in textbook communism, hence the absence of totalitarianism). Communism repeatedly failed because it is too perfect. Whereas humans are imperfect who are always subject to their neuroticisms, desires, anxieties, and frustrations, where they may break the law in all sorts of unhealthy and harmful ways. This is where we get into renown dialogues that took place between Maurice Blanchot and Jean-Luc Nancy on what it means to be part of a community, or to truly be “communal”—as in communism.

Above all, historical repetition can be found through the countless rise and fall of empires and the endless cycles of peace and war. This can be witnessed at grand scales through the events of World War I and World War II, where the latter was haunted by the former. Agreeing with Hegel’s thoughts that history would reoccur in different ways, Marx famously adds onto his words:

“…History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

And the possibility of its overcoming?
Precisely, through love itself.


An Accumulation of Random Thoughts Upon Random Thoughts #5

This post talks about politics, equality, MBTI (socionics theory), among other random things. You might also like this post if you were one of the lucky few who read the story called “The Lightning Bolt” from the first version of #4; and got bummed out that I ended up removing it for the final version.

See you all in 2023 (for real this time),

P.S. When I wrote #4, I really thought it would be my last post of the year. But I decided to publish another one because I ended up writing too much random stuff on my days off work LOL. And besides, I can’t end this year’s posts without sharing the most important story in my world. The best is always for last—even if it is a bittersweet story. 🙂

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“I would like to write you so simply, so simply, so simply. Without having anything ever catch the eye excepting yours alone… So that above all the language remains self-evidently secret, as if it were invented at every step, as if it was burning immediately”.

—Jacques Derrida, The Post Card.

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Thoughts on Freedom Convoy in Canada

I remembered at the beginning, the movement was about trucker mandates and the travel restrictions that are imposed on the drivers who crosses borders. There are things that I can genuinely sympathize and share concerns for in these initial stages of the protest, such as vaccine mandates, government restrictions, and their concerns for “freedom”. I agree that people should have the right to express their views and opinions which means that I am fine with the convoy protest as long as it is not harming anyone.

However, the protest eventually transformed into something else entirely—something much worse. When you start seeing Nazi flags waving around and white supremacists joining and funding the movement where it is no longer about vaccine mandates, but about taking down governments or certain groups of people; harassing (terrorizing) other people who wears masks, disrupting other people’s lives, stealing food from homeless shelters, and some guy throwing poo at people (lmao), then it might be a good time to ask if the protest is still fighting for the cause that you initially had in mind. Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are people who are fighting for what the freedom convoy was supposed to be about where I, once again, share a lot of their concerns for—even if I think their views on freedom are naïve and short sighted.

That is all I have to say about it.

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Why is philosophy so difficult?

It trains and teaches you to think in ways that most people never considered and thought was possible. Philosophy is basically the pinnacle of critical thinking that pushes the limits and conditions of what allows for the very act of thinking. To philosophize isn’t just about thinking—it is to think about thinking, or to think outside of the box of thinking. It can even consist of thinking about our feelings and emotions, all the way to our existence in relationship with our world. In my opinion, philosophy is one of the most profound and influential discipline in human history. A lot of disciplines in universities used to be part of philosophy, such as math, science, economics, etc. “Thought” is a gift given to humanity. It is part of what makes us human—and sometimes, all too human.

Another reason why philosophy is difficult is due to how they are often a response to other philosophers in history. So in order to understand a philosophy, you have to understand a very long strand of philosophies where you might basically end up studying the entire history of philosophy which takes years and decades. Thus, those who have little experience in philosophy will often have trouble getting past the first few pages of certain major texts due to their lack of historical knowledge in the discipline.

Philosophy will teach you why just because someone is logically correct does not always mean it is the truth. This is because philosophy and critical thinking isn’t just about thinking objectively or being logical. A lot of people can be logical while fail to think outside of it (tbh, critical thinking is a skill that I think 80% of the general population lacks). To critically think is to, in some sense, argue against your own thoughts and logic so to be skeptical about it (skepticism is a form of philosophy). Only in this way will we start to think about why we think the way we do and what led us to think in such ways. When you spend all your life in a system that teaches you how to be logical or to only do this or that, philosophy may offer you a breath of fresh air by challenging you to think outside of everything that you have learned in your life.

Philosophy is a Greek word that literally translates as “love of wisdom”.

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Regarding my last post where I spoke about equality…

Let us consider another one my sister’s boyfriend’s examples on people who supports equality.

Consider his other proposition where he used to question and challenge those who supports equality. Mr. Boyfriend presents a video where the interviewer questioned people on whether women basketball players should get paid the same as men. While many of them supported equal pay, none of them watched women basketball. While he didn’t say it out loud, perhaps the problem for him is that: how can there be equal pay when people who supports equality in women basketball also didn’t watch any of it to support it? And if no one watches it, how can the the sport earn enough money to pay a salary that is equal to men when no money is going into it? In this sense, perhaps the solution for equality is simple: get more people to support and watch women basketball (or whatever other solutions there are). In this sense, he is absolutely correct. However, this further brings up a question: why don’t people watch women basketball more than men to begin with? On the surface, it is easy for us to say something like, “Men basketball is better because they are more athletic, etc.”. While there are obvious differences between men and women biologically, I think part of the answer to this question goes back to what I said last time on gender essentialism (it can be found hyperlinked here) among other things. But let us not go there this time because I already covered it. What I wish to point out here is that, even if economic equality is established in basketball, the problem of equality remains unsolved.

This question on basketball salary differs from his previous question where equality is about women laying bricks equal to men. The main difference lies in that it considers the problem of economic equality which therefore emphasizes on the structure of capitalism. Since economically, no one in capitalism is ever paid the same due the fundamental design of its system, no one is ever economically equal. Even if women got paid the same as men in basketball, both of these leagues will get out paid by other people outside of it from not just other sports, but from people with other occupations. Therefore, women and men basketball players were never economically equal in contrast to other people outside of it—even if they get paid equally within it.

The problem of equality seems simple when you strictly look at basketball by itself, but once you put this problem into the big picture, it becomes a problem that cannot be solved because the system does not allow for it to be solved. Thus, when you see feminists who seeks for equal pay to their male counterparts in our capitalist world, some of them also falls into this same trap. For it is indeed, very difficult to achieve economic equality when the structure of capitalism is designed to segregate people into different social classes with different levels of income. In this sense, we can say that much of contemporary left / liberalism is incompetent in seeing this problem through. Therefore, one can say that liberalism is actually right wing conservatism in disguise when it comes to economic equality. In order for equality to take place, significant changes in our economic structure needs to occur. This is why people like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are so influential because it is here where we get into things like socialism where everyone in the system gets paid the same regardless if they are a neurosurgeon, basketball player, a service worker, or a janitor (this is real economic equality that comes with its own set of problems). We may even get into things like communism where money (capital) does not even exist. But it is also here, where we are introduced to the debates on whether these are a good ideas or not.

Many people are only good at looking at things within the system (which has its uses), but they have no idea how to think outside of it and consider the larger and deeper scopes of the problem that is fundamentally at work. Even if Mr. Boyfriend agrees that it is important for both men and women to have equal pay in basketball and that we can make it happen in capitalism, it still does not solve anything about equality since it is only a band-aid solution. In the same way that a doctor doesn’t cure cancer by removing the tumor, economic equality cannot be achieved by making men and women with equal pay only within a certain category. You solve these problems by finding its root causes and removing them once and for all, so that the things that comes after it will forever be liberated from such problems. In cancer, this is DNA mutation. In equality, it is the structure of society.

To be sure, what I presented here is just one small dimension of the problem on economic equality. In many ways, I think Mr. Boyfriend actually asked a very good question. But just like the people in the video, he failed to properly inquire about it. Perhaps what we can learn from this is that, learning how to ask questions is just as important as learning how to answer it. This is also a good example of what I meant when I said that just because you are right does not always mean it is the truth.

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Socionics and thoughts on ENFP and ESFP

As an INTJ (4w5), I had always been fascinated by ENFP and ESFPs. Both of these types are very similar on the outside where they are charming, spontaneous, bubbly social butterflies who are really friendly. In fact, they can be so friendly that people will often mistake their friendliness as romantic interest. ExFPs are sometimes the type of people who will give out their numbers just because they are friendly and enjoy connecting with others. They often assume the best in people (whereas I assume the worst). Both ESFP and ENFPs are really good at making people like them due to how friendly and fun (or flirty) they are. They can be friends with those who nobody wants to be friends with. Both of these types are also really good people promoters when they like you because they may talk to others about you.

On the surface, both ESFP and ENFP appears like they are outgoing with a large social circle, even when they are both loners at heart. They are social in a lone wolf type of way where they won’t always fall into group mentality (due to Fi). This is something that I respect and admire from both of these types. While they may seem like they have a lot of friends and are open to sharing stories about themselves, they are usually only emotionally open to a very small group of people. Just like INTJs, if you try to force your way into their inner world, you will run into a brick wall due to their Fi. ENFPs are usually slightly more random than ESFPs due to their Ne who enjoys talking about abstract theories a little more than ESFP. Whereas ESFPs are more about light hearted fun, who are unapologetically themselves. While both ENFP and ESFPs are really outgoing and social, they are actually secretly judging you with their Fi. And if you violate some of their core values and beliefs, they will keep you at bay or flip out at you. I also think ENFPs have higher introverted tendencies than ESFP. But this might also have to do with their enneagram.

In the past, I’ve had great conversations with both of these types. My presence seem to balance their energy out where I tame their extravagant behaviors. A few of them liked to talk about psychoanalysis with me and analyze other people. I’ve had one or two ESFPs in the past who told me that they wish they were like me and think like me. This is not surprising since ESFP and INTJs are inverted types of each other. Meanwhile, a lot of ENFPs are actually quite smart, but can be too all over the place with their Ne. They are just about the only type who can walk right through all my armors and see who I really am as a person with relative ease.

Several ESFPs in the past had admitted that they really liked me. In socionics theory, INTJ and ESFP are considered as the perfect romantic match because they use the same cognitive functions in reverse order where they cover each other’s weaknesses. In reality, INTJ/ESFP match up is very rare due to the scarcity of INTJs. And when they encounter each other, it’s either they are obsessed or hate each other to death. Due to the unpredictability of inverted types, it appears that INTJ/ESFP relationships has a semi-high potential to fail. Such failure however, also significantly decreases as both types establish mutual understanding, communication and as they mature and develop their weaker functions. I noticed I get along really well with developed (usually older) ESFPs where I am often surprised by how similar they are to me in terms of intellectual orientations and world views despite being so “different” (the same goes for ENFPs). They have potential to be quite deep, despite their reputation for being high energy outgoing extroverts who are often perceived as shallow.

On the other hand, undeveloped (or immature—often young) ESFPs can sometimes strike others as text book narcissists who are attention seekers, impulsive, obsessed with vanity, lack boundaries, dramatic, and likes superficial things such as fame and social status. Until ESFPs are able to tame their Se by developing their Te and Ni (which gives them depth), I think a lot of INTJs will have trouble with ESFPs in a relationship due to the things above (but it really depends on the person). Some ESFPs are also really flirty without much boundaries, even when they are actually just being friendly and playful. They may also do things without thinking about its future consequences. At the end, I think ESFPs are good people with good hearts who just needs to slow down. And to be fair, every undeveloped / immature type can be really hard to deal with. For example, an immature INTJ will strike most people as an insensitive, controlling, blunt, arrogant asshole who needs to get humbled (INTJs are intelligent and they know it).

I think the INTJ/ESFP combo is either a natural disaster, or they work really well together once they can see past and accept each other’s differences and become mindful of them (it takes maturity and love). And when they work, they have a lot of potential to grow and learn from each other which turns them into a power couple (the most famous INTJ/ESFP couple is probably Jay Z and Beyoncé Knowles). The INTJ will become better at the things they suck at, such as learning how to express their emotions and feelings, be considerate, social, live in the moment like ESFPs (not everything in life needs a plan). While the ESFP will learn how to make plans and slow down. They will also learn how to think strategically, intuitively, deeply, and profoundly like an INTJ.

In socionics, the INTJ/ESFP pairing is known as “duality” which is an example of what many people refer as “opposites attract” (even when they are not true opposites; the opposite of INTJ is ESFJ where they have no functions in common). Duality consists of all inverted pairings such as the ENFP/ISTJ and ESTP/INFJ, etc. Whereas INTJ/ENFP is often known as “the golden pair” in MBTI theory by David Keirsey. This is due to how well they compliment each other with their intuitions while simultaneously having enough difference to attract and learn from each other (similar to ENTP/INFJ or INTP/INFJ). Usually, one does not find ENFP and ESFPs to date. When these two types like you, they will find you. Both of them are proactive people who will go after what they want (and when they like you, you will know it). At the end, I think relationship pairings has less to do with typology, but more to do with each individual person and their maturity levels; along many other factors that MBTI consistently fails to account for—such as the power of love that can triumph over differences between two people. In short, I think any pairings can work as long as both types love each other and are willing to put in the work.

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On universities

I think it is unfortunate how people goes to school these days not for self-enlightenment, but for the sake of making money which would lead to all the false paths that our world has now become. I understand this is the reality of life and I don’t blame anyone for wanting to do something that is practical. I once met someone who told me that if he had the courage to be homeless, he wouldn’t be doing what he did for work. He was a pretty funny dude LOL.

* * *


I listen to all genres of music. But right now, I am listening to the Italian piano composer, Ludovico Einaudi. I think this man writes incredibly beautiful music. The track called “The Earth Prelude”, “Oltremare”, and “Tu Sei” are probably some of my all time favourites from him. I am also a pretty big fan of piano music from the classical and romantic eras as well. So people like Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. I think piano is the greatest instrument ever invented (I also like violins and cellos). Piano music is soul touching, intelligent, elegant, and serene, with many layers of complexities tied to its musical compositions which allows our minds and hearts to transcend beyond space and time. It’s brilliant.

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Climate protestors throwing soups at art works…

I share your concerns, but you won’t convince people to join your cause when they don’t like you for doing things like this. Ironically, I think there is a bit of cleverness in throwing soups at paintings because it’s kind of like an art on it’s own—even if I think it is very disrespectful. I understand that their goal is to make people ask if art is more important than life that has been increasingly put at risk due to climate change. But little do they understand that life is actually an art in itself. Not to mention that Impressionism and Post-Impressionism are some of my favourite art movements (so people like Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet; Impression, soleil levant is a beautiful piece of painting), so throwing stuff at them is obviously a bad idea.

I found it hilarious how the protestors glue themselves onto the wall at the museum after. It’s comedy because of how dumb it looks LOL. I think they should take it a step further and glue themselves with cement like they are an art piece that is part of the museum. That would be performance art at its finest.

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The One Who Waits

“Sometimes, I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game. Whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.”

—Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments

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When you love someone…

Personally, I am not someone who goes around telling people that I love them. And if you are one of the few ladies who I said this to, then they should know that these words never come out of my mouth casually. Right now, I can only think of two people who I’ve said it to in my life (outside of family; I’m 32 btw).

I think that if you truly love someone, you should always let them know. Often times, I think people make things a lot harder and complicated than it really needs to be (myself included). Yes, it makes us vulnerable. It might even hurt. And it might be awkward. But having the strength to be emotionally vulnerable is also what makes us strong and allow others to connect with us (and this is coming from someone who is very private about their feelings). Of course, there is always the right and wrong time to say something. But I think there are times where it is always better to produce the right time and take the risk to say it instead of living with regrets without them ever knowing. After all, love is one of the signature traits of human intelligence. I think Wolfgang Mozart said it best:

“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

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Wealth and Intelligence

Just because you know how to make money doesn’t always make you intelligent. At best, you are someone who is smart at making money. There are a lot of intelligent people in this world who dies in the gutter because the things that they are good at aren’t valued by society. Most importantly, you can be wealthy in your heart and mind without actually being rich.

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“I learn a lot from you!”

I actually hear this line quite a bit. I also get random emails from people contacting me on this blog thanking me for my work (you’re welcome, I learn just as much!). But I also sometimes hear really funny things from people. One time, a distant acquaintance told me, “Bobby, you are one of the weirdest, but also one of the sweetest person I know”. Honestly, I don’t know if it was a compliment or not. 😂


An Accumulation of Random Thoughts Upon Random Thoughts #4

I’ve been so busy with work that I don’t have much time to read and write. Luckily, I took a few weeks off in the hopes that I get to plan some future projects where I might revive a few old posts on German philosophy from 2019. But unfortunately, I will be spending a chunk of my time laying low because I haven’t been feeling very well lately. I got sick and my dog recently passed away. Watching them go to sleep forever is really depressing.

This will likely be my last post of 2022. I am aware that some of you read the first version of this post that I deleted a couple days after I published it (near the end of October; I remember I got a like or two). The reason I deleted it was because I wanted to think over some of the sections again. As a result, I took some out and added new ones  in. To make up for the changes, I added new thoughts on French feminism, essentialism, post-humanism, along with more insights on psychoanalytic topics such as depression, anxiety, and jealousy. I will also show you some of the influences of deconstruction in fields like feminism.

You might notice how some of these sections builds off of my previous posts. This is because my writings can sometimes get too long where I take paragraphs out and throw them into a future post. For example, the section on German philosophy from my last post (#3) was actually written before I wrote about the Korean-German philosopher Byun-Chul Han from #2.

As usual, these can be read in any order at your own pace. 🙂

See you in 2023,

* * *

A friendly reminder

“To be harmful with what is best in us. —At times, our strengths propel us so far forward that we can no longer endure our weaknesses and perish from them. We may even foresee this outcome without wishing to have it otherwise. Thus, we become hard against everything in us that desires consideration, and our greatness is also our lack of compassion.

Such an experience, for which we must pay in the end with our lives, is a parable for the whole effect of great human beings on others and on their age: precisely with what is best in them, with what only they can do, they destroy many who are weak, unsure, still in the process of becoming, of striving; and thus they are harmful. It can even happen that, everything considered they are only harmful because what is best in them is accepted and absorbed by those alone whom it affects like a drink that is too strong: they lose their understanding and their selfishness and become so intoxicated that they are bound to break their limbs on all the false paths on which their intoxication leads them astray.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Aph. 28

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When you don’t try…

A long time ago, a friend of mine told me that I was way more attractive when I don’t try. Thinking about it now, I think she was right. When I try, I tend to try too hard because I think too hard. But when I don’t try, my natural confidence kicks in which often attracts other people to me.

I remember I once gave a presentation in front of a class of 30 or more people. When I was giving the lecture, I looked at her every once awhile where I saw her looking at me with these really big shiny eyes as she kept smiling to herself. I asked her what that was about afterwards and she was like, “Your confidence is really hot”. We were just friends, but it was pretty funny LOL. I think she eventually ended up liking me—or maybe she liked me all along. I wouldn’t know back then. I wasn’t very good at these things. I’m still not very good at it now.

I have quite a few of these stories from back in my early 20s where I was friends with some girl only for me to discover that they liked me years down the road when it was way too late. It’s really stupid. There was one girl who got really mad at me for not asking her out because I literally thought we were just friends. I remember I got her contact info from helping her at an art show. I wasn’t actually trying to hit on her or anything. I was trying to be nice because she was having trouble setting up her art where I just thought we could be friends. After a few months of talking, she ended up indirectly ranting about me on her Facebook statuses and eventually removed me as friends. I even wondered who she was ranting about and why she removed me. And it wasn’t until two years later where I found out she was ranting about me LOL whoops. It was totally not funny for her. She definitely thought I was an asshole, which I was honestly. But here is the thing: if she opened up, I would’ve dated her.

Back then, I was too focused on my intellectual endeavors to think about girls which ironically attracted a lot of them to me. It was funny because some people thought I was gay because they could tell girls liked me where I seem to take no interest in them and only treated them as friends. While I got much better at picking up these signals with age, I still suffer from these problems in a different way. If people don’t tell me, I will almost always figure it out way too late.

While it is nice when someone is honest and up front with their feelings, I also understand that I often don’t give them the proper space, assurances, and build enough trust and comfort for them to open up (I’m working on it as a person). I have laser beam focus where I often miss these signals from people because I am too focused on other things (I live in my head who can be really forgetful). At times, I can be so focused on my work that people would be talking to me and I won’t hear a thing from them.

So what we can conclude is this: when I don’t try, I literally don’t care whether or not someone likes me because I am too focused on other things (and it doesn’t matter how attractive they are; or who they are). But when I put my mind to it, I become an overthinker where I would endlessly ruminate about them and try too hard. So it’s a matter of balance to try, but not try too hard; and learn to give people space and focus on your own things so to let things happen naturally. Yes, yes—that is what I learned over the years. 🙂

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The most common logical fallacies

The most common logical fallacies are probably confirmation bias or strawman. Basically, confirmation bias is sort of like when you meet someone new where you don’t like them without any real reason. So everything they do will confirm your bias that you don’t like them. Simply put, you are confirming your own bias through false evidence where you are selectively seeing what you only want to see. Whereas strawman argument is when you twist someone’s argument and make it seem like it is the argument that the other person is making, even when it isn’t. Then you go on to make a counter-argument against this new distorted argument that you just made up. These two fallacies are so common that not many people pick up on it when they make it.

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Psychoanalysis, Depression, and Anxiety

There are three basic psychoanalytic structures: neurosis, psychosis and perversion. Neurosis consists of obsessional and hysteria (and fetishism?). Psychosis consists of paranoia, schizophrenia and melancholia (or manic-depressive psychosis). In psychoanalysis, depression can be associated with any of these clinical structures and is often related to anxiety—something that everyone experiences in all sorts of ways.

This is particularly true for Jacques Lacan, who was well known as the master of anxiety, and for his clinical ability in reducing anxiety in his patients. Unlike Freud who saw that external circumstances in the world would induce anxiety into individuals. Lacan saw how, anxiety is actually embedded into the heart of human consciousness and split subjectivity through the way they experience language and meaning (Symbolic). While your everyday individual’s desire is caused by lack through a object (a) that is unconsciously missing, a depressed individual is when this lack is sometimes lacking. Anxiety is produced when the subject is caught within this lack of the lack who encounters the horrors of the Real where no symbolic language can represent.

As mentioned in my other posts, another way anxiety is produced is when the subject gets too close to object a. It’s kind of like running into someone you really like where they make your heart race as your face turns red and your mind goes blank (or what people refer as “butterflies”). Sometimes, this happens to the point where one may go into denial so to avoid such anxiety. They may counter this anxiety by denying these feelings and using unhealthy methods such as aggression, ignoring them, etc. (note: denial is not always conscious by the person who is doing it). So the bottom line is that, anxiety occurs when we get too close to object a (object cause of desire); or when the Real is laid bare where there is a lack of object a.

Often times, the symptoms of a depressed person consists of persistent sadness, loss of appetite, loss of interests in the things that they used to enjoy (desire), and suicidal thoughts. In short, a depressed person is someone who no longer properly desires (the subject’s relationship with object a has been lost). In other instances, it could be where certain individuals are caught into a downward spiral of the desire for negative thought patterns. This is why in some modern treatments of depression, one of the ways to stop this is learning to identify these negative patterns. These techniques are often found in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In psychoanalysis, this idea is often associated with masochism and sadism where the depressed individual unconsciously enjoys repeatedly inflicting pain on themselves, leading them to self destruction (Freud believed that this tendency for self-destruction is caused by the death drive). There are many ways the split subject can experience depression through anxiety via different clinical structures. No one is the same.

I sometimes like to use the analogy of a river to introduce people to psychoanalysis, where the water in the river represents our desires and drive for enjoyment. When the big Other imposes too many laws onto this river, such as building too many walls (dams) and blocking off the flow of water, the river will flood and overflow, causing all sorts of mental illnesses. Psychoanalysis is about clearing up these obstacles that blocks the flow of water (your unconscious desires). This is another reason why the analyst sits behind you during a session because no one is watching, imposing laws and judging you! The analyst attempts to give the analysand the needed space to produce their own desires through sublimation, either by removing some of these obstacles or give them an opportunity to find a new way to desire around these obstacles. Their job is to help them desire in a healthy way again.

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I sometimes think I am an INFJ and not INTJ. But when I think more about it, I fall closer to an INTJ. Regardless, I am definitely an Ni-dom. I have an intense type of focus that people can observe through the way I look at them or at other things. Friends in the past had told me that they see my intensity as a form of passion which I find much more comforting. Being mindful of it is still something that I am working on. My nephew used to be scared of me as well. But we’re pretty chill now where we sometimes play video games together because I am secretly 10 years old.

This reminds me of my post on the INTJ (here). Keep in mind that it was written in third person perspective which tried to include other INTJs. People vary and no one is the same (AKA don’t put everyone in a box). Some of the stuff I wrote on there is not always true for others—even for myself (unless I pointed out that it was true for me). I am probably one of the more stereotype defying INTJs out there. While I dislike MBTI stereotypes, there are some that are true for a lot of INTJs, such as minimal facial expressions, hard to read, experts at dispensing abstract knowledge, sarcastic, insightful, smart, honest, and efficient. They are independent thinkers who won’t easily fall into herd mentalities. Also, they are usually one of the types who are least active on social media. INTJs are basically a human cat who likes to be left alone, but really appreciates attention from their loved ones every once awhile.

I think both INTJ and INFJs are some of the most misunderstood types in MBTI. Many of them also tends to struggle in a sensor dominated world because they value all the things that most people don’t care about. Both types often feel like they don’t belong which may induce the feeling of loneliness. They have what some people refer as an “onion personality” with many layers to them that may endlessly fascinate others (they are usually really deep). I always found it weird how some people wants to be an INTJ or INFJ. Trust me, you don’t want to. Being misunderstood by people you care about is one of the worst feelings on the planet.

Personally, I am used to people misunderstanding me since I was born. On the surface, I tell others that I don’t really care and even make jokes about it. Yet deep down, I want people who I value to understand me. As I got older, I realized that all I really ever wanted in my life was for someone to get me. Making assumptions about me is the biggest mistake most people make when they are trying to know me because 90% of them are usually wrong.

INxJs are hard people to find. They require a lot of patience to understand. This is why it is better to go slow with these types and not jump to any conclusions, since they tend to be unpredictable walking paradoxes. Romantically, meeting the “right” INxJ is more rare than what most people think because it is difficult for any type to run into an INxJ that fits their books. For example, while the odds of running into a male INTJ is around 1 in 60 (give or take). Once you factor in other qualities like mutual attractions, language barrier, age difference, and other things, the odds of running into the right INTJ will quickly jump to something stupid like 1 in 20 000. Double this if you are looking for female INTJs which makes up 0.5% of the world. INFJ men are also somewhere along this percentage.

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One thing I learned growing up

Most people are not as smart as they think they are. Myself included. This is why it is best to always assume that you are wrong and give benefit of doubt. If you think about it, there is so much we don’t know about everything that there is always something we can learn from everyone. Thus, never settle for a conclusion until you are absolutely certain that it is correct and have sufficient reason and knowledge to believe so. As I said before, jumping to conclusions is the culprit of humanity—just like those who jumps to conclusions about me from reading this blog.


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What happens when you ask a stupid person for advice?

Everyone is good at certain things and stupid at others. The problem happens when people give advice on things that they are incompetent in answering—precisely because they think they know best, even when they know nothing. Other times, people genuinely give good advice where the other person doesn’t listen. So you just have to watch them learn things the hard way.

Personally, I don’t give advice. But I can tell you what I think is true—if you ask nicely. 🙂

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The Best BBQ Experience

My friends and I did an outdoor BBQ for the first time at a local park in the city. We don’t have much experience on how to heat up charcoal grill (my friends planned it). Eventually, we ran out of wood to start a fire and started looking for leaves and small twigs on the ground to burn. We failed to start a fire to heat the charcoal and ended up eating pre-cooked sausages that we bought from the grocery store. We laughed so hard going like, “Okay, nobody needs to know about this” LOLLL.

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Human as Machine; Human as Human

One way we can look at the differences between modern psychology and psychoanalysis is how the former often involves studying people as if they are like a biological machine. This includes how scientists and doctors studies the underlying causalities on how human behavior reacts to their environments which triggers various hormonal responses in their bodies. The idea that humans are becoming increasingly like machines and should be seen as a machine is subject for debate.

This idea takes us to disciplines like post-humanism where people argue how human animal and machines should become as one. Donna Haraway is your woman in this department—particularly her famous essay called “A Cyborg Manifesto”. Although I don’t completely agree with her positions on how Western dualisms are placed against each other (i.e. self vs. other; man vs. woman, etc.), I think it’s a really interesting essay. Honestly, the last time I read this piece was almost 10 years ago, so I don’t remember that much from it.

Meanwhile, Jacques Lacan mostly rejected scientific approaches to modern psychiatry where scientists studies humans as a biological machine. Unlike your post-humanist thinkers where they attempt to conceive of humans as cyborgs and machines, Lacan thought that psychoanalysis could become a discipline that represents humanism. He sought to develop a psychoanalytic framework that acknowledges the importance of the dialectical relationships between conscious and unconscious mind where things like madness and insanity are part of human intelligence. This theme of madness is not far off from Lacan himself, who was quite a weirdo in real life. Lacan was a man who never liked naming any of his works. I think there was a TV series on him back then where it was simply called “Television”. His one and only book published with all his essays on psychoanalysis is called “Ecrits” which means “Writings” in English (Lacan speaks croissant).

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Last year, a detective called me about some homicide that happened in my neighbour community. I missed the call, but he texted me and told me to call him back. So I called him and apparently, some dude got shot on their own driveway, but it wasn’t anyone I knew (I don’t know any shady people lol). So I said to him, “You got the wrong number, but I think I found your suspect”. I wonder what happened after LOL. I think it was a mistake.

One of my uncle was a detective in Hong Kong who used to tell me all these creepy stories of crimes that they couldn’t solve. There was one case I remember vaguely about a man who hung himself in a skyscraper that was still under construction. The police received a call from a man of unknown identity who reported the discovery the dead person in the building. After initial autopsy, the police discovered that the man died something like 13 years ago. They contacted the victim’s family who said he went missing a long time ago. At the time, there was still one piece of puzzle missing where the police could not find the man who reported the discovery of the body. The popo let the family members listen to the phone recording where they got spooked out saying that the man who reported the dead body sounds like the man who hung himself. Apparently, my uncle said a lot of people who were involved in that case had to go see psychologists, thinking that maybe they heard wrong (it might be someone else who sounded like the man who hung himself). At the end, the mysteries of the case were never solved and the man who called the police was never found. Spoooooooky.

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Academic Journals

Critical Inquiry from the University of Chicago is probably one of the most well known and prestigious journals on contemporary theory. They basically only publish ground breaking ideas. Many well known scholars had their works published on there before. There is an interdisciplinary journal from Johns Hopkins University that is also really good, but I forget the name. In general, I think journals that are dedicated to certain influential thinkers are usually pretty good. For example, there is the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, and the International Journal of Zizek Studies. There is also Derrida Today from University of Edinburgh which is peer reviewed by a lot of renown Derridean scholars like Catherine Malabou, Michael Naas, Leonard Lawlor, John D. Caputo, and Christopher Norris (most journals are reviewed by experts in their field). Unfortunately, most of the works from them are also locked behind paywalls, which sucks.

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The Other’s Desire

An interesting example on how our desire is the Other’s desire is when you notice how some people rely too much on the opinions of their friends and family when they like someone. The question becomes: is it your friends and family dating them, or you? In a psychoanalytic context, this makes a lot of sense because our desires is the Other’s desire. So for example, if all of your friends hates your crush due their erroneous judgements (or they are being manipulative), then there is a good chance that you might end up hating your crush as well. This sounds stupid, but it happens quite often where the person will end up repressing or deny these desires for the other person. Unexpressed emotions and desires will always return to haunt us in our lives, causing all sorts of new symptoms. While I am oversimplifying here, what we can learn from this is simple: it is important we learn how to think for ourselves.

You see something similar with advertisements where companies make you desire to buy something because your desire is the Other’s desire (the advertisement). And this is why big companies spends so much money on marketing because it works. Apple is a good example of this.

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On Jealousy

Sometimes, you see people play games by trying to make the person they like jealous. And if they get jealous, said person will think they love them. This is false—it’s really just their ego speaking. Jealousy is not love. Not to mention that this is a risky tactic because the last thing you want to do when you like someone is to make them think you don’t like them (pretty much the definition of self-sabotage Lol; but it is also situational).

In psychoanalysis, jealousy is often considered pathological and is sometimes confused with envy (the former is derived from the latter). While it is normal to feel jealous at times, certain forms of jealousy is actually a protruding symptom of paranoia which is occasionally associated with schizophrenia (both of these are often diagnosed as a structure of psychosis). For example, consider a couple who divorced because of the husband’s jealousy who keeps making him think that his wife is cheating on him. Regardless of whether or not this is true, after their divorce, the man’s symptom of jealousy remains intact where he continues to be suspicious of others and their intentions (other times, paranoia will manifest as the consistent feeling that someone is watching, stalking, or following you). In some cases, the underlying cause of this is not due to their symptom of being jealous—even if he may consciously perceive it as such during his psychotherapy sessions. His jealousy is unconsciously structured by something else—namely, the structure of psychotic paranoia. This is why a person’s symptoms may not be what they consciously perceive. Hence, it is best to not diagnose yourself. Psychoanalytic diagnosis can be really tricky and difficult, even for skilled clinical analysts.

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Future Emergencies

On my way home one evening, I drove by a construction road sign with the word “emergency” written on it. Out of boredom, I asked myself: what is an emergency? What does it mean to emerge? The word “emergency” is derived from the Latin term “emergo”, which means “to come out” or “rise”. To emerge is to come out or rise from an unexpected event in the future; it is to merge or collide with a certain form of danger or injury. An emergency is thus, a wound; it is an open invitation to a risk unforeseeable and incalculable by the human eye. It can even be said that, to emerge is to be surprised by a future that demands for our utmost attention, love, care, and hospitality. What does it mean to care for the emergencies that erupts from the future? What does it mean for humans to emerge with the future as they traverse from life to death? Is the possibility of our future death an invitation for us to reflect about our lives and the natures of humanity—and of love and knowledge?

I often think that the future is predictable because human nature is predictable. But I would rather have a future that is radically anterior, unknown, and unpredictable. I would rather have a future that is always to come—always to emerge, that invites us to collide with the greatest passions known to the human soul. I would prefer a future that constantly surprises me—just like that of love. Just like forgiveness.

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On Debates, Feminism and Essentialism

The other day when I was having dinner with the family and my sister’s boyfriend brought up Jordan Peterson on how awesome he is at speaking up against feminism. He spoke about how a lot of men does all the hard labour types of jobs and yet feminists want equality. So does this mean that all the women wants to equally lay bricks like men do as well? I mean yeah, if they want to lay bricks, they could and I won’t judge them at all. But this is an oversimplification of the problem and it is not what equality is really about—at least not from an economical, lawful, and critical-sociological standpoint (i.e. woman should have the right to vote, have control over their bodies, fair wages, etc.; which are things that I support). It is also probably one of the most short sighted and strawman argument I’ve heard anyone make against equality.

I think this makes for a good case to talk a little about essentialism. Such idea has a long history that stems from Platonic metaphysics on how every object consists of an essential and immutable form or idea about it that are necessary to making up that object. While this might strike us as true in various contexts such as science, where every object has essential aspects to them that constitutes them (molecules, etc.), it is not always true in other discourses and contexts. The best everyday example in our case is gender essentialism. Consider the statement that, all men likes to lay bricks and play sports while all women likes to cook and watch TV (in everyday language, we refer these things as discrimination, sexism, stereotypes and gender roles, etc.). On the surface, these statements may reveal an essential aspect of the identity for all men and women that are unchangeable—even when they are hardly essential to both of them (because this argument is naïve, weak, and lacks critical depth). While this is an over simplification, many of us can already see the problems of this statement because it is simply not true. Yet, Mr. boyfriend makes an assumption that these essentialisms are true and measures it against “equality”. While in some cases, essentialism can be seen as a valid position, there are many instances where people will argue against it in all sorts of ways, where essentialism becomes a paradox for a non-essentialist position. Let me quickly show you some of them.

In a way, one can say that Jacques Derrida was an anti-essentialist or non-essentialist thinker. Within the structure of language and interpretation, there are no essential meanings that constitutes a word’s specific meaning as such (there is no fundamental “essence” in the meaning of a word other than alternative meanings that constitutes its perceived meaning). This is due to the influences in our experiences of spacetime, difference, play on words, contexts, and mental states; where meaning and intentionality can change due to these constant shifting conditions. Yet paradoxically, Derrida’s deconstruction sets up a sort of non-essentialist-essentialist position where he shows us how it is precisely these essential conditions which produces the fundamental building blocks for essentialisms that are always inherently unstable and non-essential. In other words, the essential essences and definitions that determines a man and woman are unstable. Therefore, not every man likes to play hockey and lay bricks; and not every woman likes to cook and watch television. While I am oversimplifying here, this is what makes deconstruction incredibly influential in gender theory and feminism. In many ways, deconstruction allowed feminists to see how society is actually built upon privileging these essentialisms of man and woman, where it would define them and unconsciously control them so that every man who grows up within said society would only like to play hockey and lay bricks; and every woman would only like to cook and watch television. By doing so, society would endlessly reinforce and perpetuate these essentialisms as a form of social control (this goes back to my last post where I spoke about Foucault, who was also really influential among feminists; hyperlinked here). As we can see, this is one way feminist scholars will utilize deconstruction so to deconstruct gender essentialisms. Yet little do some of these feminists understand that deconstruction is not a method or a political tool. Deconstruction cannot be essentialized as a stable method because deconstruction deconstructs itself 💀.

Something similar can be found in Alain Badiou’s ontology, where he uses Georg Cantor’s set theory to talk about how the multiplicity of truths are born into existence through events that are produced through pure chance (set theory is a mathematical theory that tries to explain the concept of infinity and how each set of integer/number or objects have an infinite amount of sets within it). Chance becomes this non-essential, yet essential condition in producing truths in our world. It is just like the chance that an apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head which allowed him to discover gravity; or the encounter of the love of your life where two people produces a new truth together (this opposes to say, the simulations of chance found in dating apps; even when there is nothing left to chance in date matching algorithms). You can also see this type of position in Slavoj Zizek’s interpretation of Lacanian psychoanalysis on how gender differences lies at the heart of the Real where gender identities are produced to cover up the traumatic experiences of the Real. In this context, psychoanalysis becomes the essential building block for gender theories in a non-essential type of way. For it is either there is sexual difference, or there is no sex at all.

Finally, we see this non-essentialist stance in Lacan when he infamously pointed out that “Woman does not exist”. Contrary to people thinking that Lacan was a misogynist trying to erase woman from history, he was provocatively pointing out how woman cannot be essentialized by the symbolic dimensions that are defined by patriarchy (and that above all, women can take position as the symbolic and redefine woman in ways never imagined). In other words, the essential definition of woman does not exist and cannot be defined in a masculine dominated society. According to Elisabeth Roudinesco, a leading French historian of Lacan and a practicing psychoanalyst, this infamous and controversial saying was Lacan’s belated response to the renown feminist existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, who once asked Lacan for advice on her book called, The Second Sex before it got published in 1949. While Lacan never responded on time, this ground breaking book would later become the driving force behind third wave feminism in the 90s. In it, de Beauvoir famously said, “one is not born a woman, but becomes one”. And if you think about it, such phrase really echoes to Lacan’s infamous “woman does not exist”, since no one is born a woman.

Anyways, after Mr. boyfriend told me about Peterson, I smiled and told him how I think Peterson is a bad reader of Derrida and Nietzsche. Then he was like, “I don’t know who they are, *continues talking*”; and I was thinking to myself, “Well you really should Lol”. The funniest part was that the other day, he sent me a video of the famous speech by Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globe where Gervais spoke up against actors who likes to give their acceptance speeches about politics while they have less education than Greta Thunberg. Honestly, I’m beginning to think he was using the video to talk about himself. But I don’t blame him for not knowing because he never studied these things the way I did (and I think he has a good heart; it’s just that he is a bit misguided and lack critical judgement and insight).

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind people disagreeing with any ideas. What I sometimes have a problem with are people who disagrees with something by nitpicking arguments, make erroneous assumptions and think they are right. This shows me that they can’t even properly understand the fundamentals of other people’s arguments before making a counter-argument (at least try). You can’t disagree with something that you never studied or don’t understand.

If I spoke up during dinner about his arguments, it might’ve escalated very quickly into a debate. The older I get, the more I don’t like to debate people because it can put me at a disadvantage in interpersonal relationships (it depends on who, but it is usually not good for me in the long run). I’m also too lazy because it sometimes ends up with me talking too much about ideas that they never considered or thought about. And by that point, people will start to think I am patronizing them which is never my intention. If people are interested and I genuinely like you, I am willing to explain and talk for hours about topics that I’ve spent years studying in an open minded and nice way—even if you disagree with me. It really depends on the person. But more often than not, I’d rather save my energy. I just learn to choose my battles and when I should keep one eye closed. It is much better to have discussions rather than pointless debates that goes no where. Other times, it is nice to turn your brain off and have fun.

Nowadays, I just live and let live.


An Accumulation of Random Thoughts Upon Random Thoughts #3

Here are some more brain dump where I offer my thoughts on German philosophy, law, justice, forgiveness, passion, love, photography, along with other stories. I kind of like writing these due to how casual they are. They can be read in any order at your own pace.

Have a nice day 🙂

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The Influences of 19th-20th Century German Philosophy

German philosophy had always been dominant and influential throughout 19th and 20th century continental European philosophy. Much of German phil continues to influence many scholars today in unimaginable ways. Let me quickly show you why and how they all came into being.

In 18th century, Immanuel Kant was really influential in founding what most scholars refer as “German Idealism” and Kant’s own school of thought known as “Transcendental idealism”. Following Kant (also known as “Post-Kantian philosophy”), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel wrote one of the world’s most influential book called the Phenomenology of Spirit. Despite that this text is consistently ranked as one of the most difficult books to read in the world, Hegel is a key thinker that anyone interested in European philosophy must understand (I’ve only read three chapters of this book—it is extremely hard to read). Hegel was famous for inventing a type of dialectical-idealist thinking that occurs between the conscious subject and the world around them and how knowledge is produced through their dialectical relationships.

It wasn’t until later where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would invert Hegel’s ideas into a socio-political framework towards a materialist philosophy (the opposite of idealism is materialism). As a result, this led to the (in)famous political ideas known as “communism” and “socialism” (unlike what most people think, contemporary China is not communist; economically, they fall closer to state capitalism; though one can argue that China has communist values). Marx and Engels were really influenced by Hegel’s famous writings called “Master-Slave dialectics”. In today’s world, we can roughly translate its title as proletariat and bourgeoise AKA the poor (slave) and the rich (master); the latter who controls and exploits labour (“Let me pay you minimum wage while I make bank!”). Marx and Engels founded a new type of thinking known as “dialectical materialism”. They were also famous for their super influential critique on capitalist economy from a four volume book called, Capital, where they provided the foundations for labour theory (edit: I misremembered and realized it is actually a four volume book).

Existentialism also began to take form in 19th century by German (and Danish) thinkers—largely as complete or partial rejection to Kantian and Post-Kantian philosophies. There was Arthur Schopenhauer who was incredibly influential and renown for his nihilism and pessimism (a great writer, who wasn’t exactly an existentialist, but was sometimes at the brink of being seen as one). Then there is the legendary Friedrich Nietzsche who was famously influential for his aphoristic writings and his philosophy on perspectivism (he was influenced by Schopenhauer among others; and Chinese philosophy). If I remember correctly, Nietzsche was one of the first to conceive of the idea that humans are thinking when they do not think they are thinking. In late 19th – early 20th century, this idea influenced the renown Austrian neurologist and inventor of psychoanalysis named Sigmund Freud, who discovered the unconscious mind.

Phenomenology (the study of phenomena, intuition, temporality, intentionality, and experience) also came into existence in mid-late 19th century by a bunch of mathematicians turned philosophers (mostly from Germany and Italy if I remember correctly). Two famous figures came into play: Gottlob Frege and Edmund Husserl; the latter who formed a school of phenomenology that laid out the intellectual landscape of 20th century German, French, and a good chunk of other European philosophies. I believe Husserl did not write his most influential work until he was in his 70s—a book called Logical Investigations (it is hard to read; I recommend Cartesian Meditations where Husserl introduces phenomenology through his inspirations of the French-Dutch philosopher, Rene Descartes). Husserl was Jewish and lived under the Nazi regime that banned him from publishing. They also tried to burn his books. During World War II, his works were saved by a philosopher named Herman van Breda who smuggled his manuscripts into a Catholic library in Belgium which later became a university. One of Husserl’s students at the time was Martin Heidegger, who ended up dominating 20th century thought. Heidegger—influenced by Husserl and Nietzsche—combined phenomenology and existentialism together which in turn, influenced a ton of French philosophers in 20th century such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Giles Deleuze and many more (tragic fact: Deleuze jumped out the window of his apartment and killed himself due to his respiratory health problems).

In early 20th century, Freud’s work on the unconscious mind and human nature also took center stage (there was also Carl Jung who was Freud’s student that Freud disagreed with; unfortunately, Jung wasn’t as influential in the philosophy circle as Freud). Freud was also well known for his encounter of Albert Einstein where they exchanged letters and spoke about war and human conflicts.

In France, a Russian-Hegelian philosopher named Alexandre Kojeve taught a very small class of students on Hegel where most of them became renown intellectuals: Jacques Lacan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Georges Bataille, Maurice-Merleau Ponty, and a few others. Like Marx and Engels, Lacanian psychoanalysis was influenced by Hegel’s “Master-Slave dialectics” (and Freud). One can perhaps, think of the relationship between the unconscious mind (master) that controls our conscious thoughts (slave) as a dialectical relationship. This is why Lacan’s writings—especially his lectures—are full of Hegelian allusions which makes him really hard to understand. Then there is German philosopher Hannah Arendt (a student of Heidegger and also his lover) who was renown for her political philosophy on totalitarianism. There was also the novelist and short story writer Franz Kafka who was influential among the philosophy circle (I think he was Czech or Bohemian). Kafka was also famous for his love letters that he wrote to a woman named Jesenka Milena that he only met once or twice (now published as epistolary literature called Letters to Milena).

Influenced by Hegel, Marx, along with other thinkers like Freud, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, and Georg Lukacs, 20th century Germany developed a famous school of thought known as the “Frankfurt school” (part of the Goethe University Frankfurt). It remains incredibly influential in its social theories on linguistic subjectivity, social communication, modernity, advanced/late capitalism, and other branches of critical theory. In it, there was Theodor Adorno who was famous for his philosophy on aesthetics. Walter Benjamin known for literary and art criticism (another tragic fact: Benjamin killed himself to avoid getting captured by Nazis; there is a really cool memorial art made for him where he took his life at the border of Spain and France). There is Hans-Georg Gadamer (a student of Heidegger) who is well known for his works on hermeneutics (the study of interpretation). There is Erich Fromm who is known for psychoanalysis and social theory; Max Horkheimer known for his works in authoritarianism; and Herbert Marcuse known for his criticism of technology and Freudo-Marxism. Marcuse was one of the first few thinkers to conceive of technology as a form of social control. Then there is Juergen Habermas (who is still alive?) renown for his works on communication and rationalism. Habermas and Derrida had really famous heated debates in the past where they eventually became friends later on.

Ultimately, Frankfurt school formed what some people today refer as “Cultural Marxism”. The term “Freudo Marxism” also came into existence via Frankfurt school, where scholars use Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis to analyze modern society. The most famous contemporary thinkers to do this are the Slovenian scholars Slavoj Zizek, Alenka Zupancic, and Mladen Dolar. Together, they formed a new school of psychoanalysis that is now known as the Ljubljana school of psychoanalysis.

I missed some stuff here and there, but this covers a good chunk of the influences of German philosophy.

Gute Nacht

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Those who reads this blog…

Probably learns a lot about me. Truth is, I am stuck in my head 80% of the time when I am alone. It’s nice to have a random stranger or friend to come up and say hi when I am in public because it shakes my mind up a bit. But I think some people are intimidated when they talk to me where I have to be extra nice so they know I mean no harm Lol. My brain is always buzzing through a billion thoughts at once. It moves so fast that I can’t even tell you what I am thinking about if you ask me in person. It is only after a certain amount of time where these ideas and thoughts slowly gather where they start to appear on here in fragmented form. This usually happens at night when my brain explodes where I go on a writing spree.

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“There is something really different about you”

When I first officially met my MA supervisor back in 2019 at his office, the first thing he said to me was, “There is something really different about you from all the other students I taught”. I looked at him in shock going, “Huh? Really? Lol” (that’s a lot of students). I honestly didn’t know whether it was a good thing or not, but it was something that I always remembered him saying. I also remember how he used to read my blog and told me how he likes the way I explain things in my posts on deconstruction and psychoanalysis. And if he reads this, Hi. 🙂

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On reading philosophy and mental health

Reading these big difficult texts that continuously throw hard truths at you about how messed up our world is can take on a mental toll. Sometimes, it is better to stay away or take a break from certain books because ignorance truly is bliss LOL. I think the truth about our world can be really scary the deeper we dive into it. Knowing and thinking too much can be a curse.

When I was in my mid-twenties, philosophy destroyed me. I realized our world runs on taking advantage of others and making a profit off of them. The most depressing thing is that there is not much I can do other than sharing with you the things I’ve learned (I don’t advertise this blog—only those who knows where to find it will know). I still remember when I was 25 where I cried to my dad telling him that I really wanted to change this world and make it a better place, but there is nothing I can do. In order to make this world better, we actually have to reinvent the entire structure of society and the ways we think. And it wasn’t until I got older where I made peace with it and tried to focus on smaller things.

On bad days, this still gets to me because my current job is not very meaningful to me. Work can be grindy, but I think that’s just life in general Lol. It’s true that I often find myself disappointed in humanity and society (my dad sometimes tells me that I was born in the wrong time Lol). When my social energy is topped off, I can be happy and chill with most people. Yet deep down, I have this otherworldly, hyper gravitational core inside me where I have a tendency to ruminate very deeply about life, humanity, love, knowledge, space, and time. As I got older, I learned how to think less about these things because ignorance is bliss Lol. Nowadays, I am reluctant to tell people about the things I know because they would likely get intimidated or think I am crazy.

Just like love, where it is much better to have failed and lost than to never have loved. I think it is better to know the truths about our world than to not know—even if it hurts. It is much better for us have passion for something (or someone) than to feel nothing at all. In a way, it can be liberating to understand and see the world for what it really is. Being human is not always fun. It often involves suffering, struggling, and fighting (and of course there are good things as well, such as joy, etc.). Whether this battle is something personal, a social cause or for someone you love, it is these battles that makes us who we are, giving us our unique character.

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Disc golf is peaceful…but it is also ghetto

I was solo disc golfing some weekend ago and joined some random girl who was also playing solo. She was new to the sport and told me how peaceful disc golf makes her feel. I totally agreed with her. So we played a few holes together peacefully where I taught her how to putt and parted ways.

But disc golf can also be pretty ghetto. There is this course located in this high crime rate community that my friend and I abbreviate as “FL”. The course is quite popular due to how beginner friendly it is. Every time my friend and I go there, we would always hear police sirens every 10 minutes. The course obstacles are different every time because homeless people always sets up their camps in different places. The most FL energy thing I’ve seen was a woman snorting what I assumed to be cocaine on a picnic table. She even cheered for our drives as we tried not to dome her with our discs while we teed off. Getting hit by a moving disc at full speed can send you to the emergency.

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I got a brand new Facebook after permanently deleting my old one 2 years ago. I got it so I can go on local disc golf groups and keep myself updated with the news that goes on in my area. The platform changed quite a bit since the last time I used it. I don’t even scroll through my Facebook feed. But it’s not like I scroll through my other social media feeds either LOL. I will look at the first few posts at most and get off.

Facebook is kind of like feudalism. The king gives you some land (your FB profile) and tells you that it is yours and you are free to do whatever you want (communicate with others, post stupid stuff, etc.). But at the end, they have the authority to take all of it from you, collect all your data, spy on you, and make money off you. The same can be said for most social platforms these days. Luckily my Facebook is just a wasteland of nothingness. It’s blank. I don’t post and use it for anything outside of disc golf and maybe talk to a few old friends every now and then.

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Why does capitalism strive for perpetual growth and endless consumerism?
I am no expert, but I would explain it like this:

Imagine a society with only 10 people in it and no money has been injected into its system. If each person wanted to buy a house and apply for a loan, the bank or government would have to conjure money out of thin air and lend it to them (or they print them). So lets say that it costs 10 dollars to buy a house. Each person borrows 10 dollars from the lender which pays for the house (the 10 dollars pays for the cost of building the house, workers, etc. which are money that gets injected into the economy). In return, the bank or government asks you to pay them back 11 dollars total which includes a 1 dollar interest rate. How would anyone be able to pay back that extra dollar when the system only has 100 dollars injected into it? The system would need an extra 10 dollars in order for the ten people to pay back their interest rate. So the -10 becomes debt and people would end up trying to earn it from each other with never ending debt (this is why almost every country is in debt). Essentially, everyone ends up trying to pay back 1 dollar that does not exist in the system.

To “solve” this problem, the system would need to rely on producing “future money” or loans (credit) from people who joins the society in order to inject more money into the system which would produce more debt. In this sense, we can say that interest rate is money that does not (yet) exist in the system until more money is injected into the economy. And this is not accounting for things like greed, labour exploitation, third-world wage, and people lending their borrowed money to others and asking for even more interest in return. Then there are also people who defaults on their debt which forces interest rates to rise. All of this is one of the reasons why when inflation rises, countries will increase interest rates and lend out less (future money) so to level out exchange rates, control inflation, and try to not turn your 100 dollars into 1 dollar.

Meanwhile people pay their taxes or invest in some government retirement plan where they take all your money and spend it all on infrastructure or something much worse like killing people in other countries. As a result, the money generates even more debt (the government owes the person who gave them money to spend). This mounting debt that countries have will continue to grow until no one can pay anything back where the system resets through some miracle or by going to war (just kidding, governments can pay you back by producing more debt of course! Duhhhh). Meanwhile, politicians accuses each other going like “This monkey is spending too much money, vote for me instead!”. The bottom line is that in order for capitalism to thrive, people must constantly work (or volunteer to be slaves; whichever you prefer), consume, borrow money, and produce so to generate capital and pay back interests that never really existed in the first place.

Damn, this sounds dumber than I thought LOL.

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Law, Justice, and Forgiveness

Saying this kind of makes me sound like a criminal, but it is true that I am often critical of authority and laws. Obviously, I am not saying that we should walk around harming, murdering or kidnapping people. What I am trying to get at is how many of our written and unwritten laws today functions as a form of social control. This idea was famously presented in Michel Foucault’s book called Discipline and Punish where he traces how modern prisons came into existence. He argues that prisons are essentially everywhere, from schools, factories, hospitals, military, and even psychological institutions that seeks to liberate other people (it’s true that I like to make dirty jokes with the title of this book LOL). These prisons seek to discipline us and create controlled bodies and minds. For those who studied psychoanalysis, this sounds really similar to the function of the Other who imposes laws on the conscious subject that makes them obey.

When one speaks of laws, we also imply some form of justice. Does the law bring justice to our world? Is justice what we need—especially after generations of conflict, colonialism, war, and other forms of violence? Can justice be served by punishing someone or a group of people? Could there really be peace by serving justice?

What if justice is just another word for revenge? If so, history is a never ending cycle of generational revenge and violence. Such theme can even be witnessed as a norm in films where some protagonist wants revenge for their loss of something or someone (or the loss of their dog). Is it possible to talk about justice without revenge and punishment? What if the origins of justice is not founded on such terms but by something that radically exist beyond all laws? What if justice is founded on forgiveness?

I think forgiveness is a very important theme that must be addressed and considered in our world today. It is something that isn’t talked much about because people are too indoctrinated to think outside of their ideologies. This reminds me of Jacques Derrida’s famous public lectures on forgiveness (called, On Forgiveness). In it, he points out how real forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetfulness, juridical law, amnesty (government pardon), and any forms of authorities. Forgiveness is a “madness of the impossible” because it exceeds all the conditions established by law and justice. It is madness of the impossible because true forgiveness is nearly impossible to achieve. Can we for example, forgive someone who killed one of our loved ones? To truly forgive is to forgive the unforgivable.

Near the end of his lectures, Derrida points out how—quite the contrary to the juridical which punish others either out of revenge or discipline—forgiveness is what lies at the origins of laws and justice. Similar to the ways I spoke about love in the past, Derrida asserts how forgiveness is like an event that arrives before us like a surprise or an unexpected revolution that challenges all institutions, laws, and authorities. He writes some really beautiful and humane passages on forgiveness:

“Must one not maintain that an act of forgiveness is worthy of its name, if there ever is such a thing, must forgive the unforgivable and without condition? And that such unconditionality is also inscribed, like its contrary, namely the condition of repentance, in ‘our’ heritage? Even if this radical purity can seem excessive, hyperbolic, mad? Because if I say, as I think, that forgiveness is mad, and that it must remain a madness of the impossible, this is certainly not to exclude or disqualify it. It is even perhaps the only thing that arrives, that surprises, like a revolution, the ordinary course of history, politics, and law. Because that means that it remains heterogeneous to the order of politics or of the juridical as they are ordinarily understood. […]

Yet, despite all the confusions which reduce forgiveness to amnesty or to amnesia, to acquittal or prescription of the work of mourning or some political therapy of reconciliation, in short to some historical ecology, it must never be forgotten, nevertheless, that all of that refers to a certain idea of pure and unconditional forgiveness, without which this discourse would not have the least meaning. What complicates the question of ‘meaning’ is again what I suggested a moment ago: pure and unconditional forgiveness, in order to have its own meaning, must have no ‘meaning’, no finality, even no intelligibility. It is a madness of the impossible. […]

Must we not accept that, in the heart or in reason, above all when it is a question of ‘forgiveness’, something arrives which exceeds all institution, all power, all juridical-political authority? We can imagine that someone, a victim of the worst, himself, a member of his family, in his generation of the preceding, demands that justice to be done, that the criminals appear before a court, be judged and condemned by a court—and yet in his heart, forgives.”

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When people talk about you

A friend brought up this topic awhile ago. Honestly, I’m probably the last person people come to for people stuff unless they want some deep philosophical and psychoanalytic insights LOL. I am quite good at analyzing people, but most everyday person don’t really concern me. If you hang out with me, you may notice that I don’t talk about other people very much. I almost never gossip. But I understand this is how some people bond and have conversations, so I usually don’t mind when it is brought up. In general, I think people likes to talk about others without any underlying reason—so it doesn’t always mean anything. There is also not much you can do when others talk about you.

It’s weird because I am someone who often tries to avoid attention from others. Despite the fact that I am pretty good at being invisible, I sometimes draw unwanted attention. I was kind of famous back in my undergraduate days where people who met me would openly tell me how they talk about me with others. Thinking about it, I also got a sense that people talked about me in grad school. I remember I once met with a prof for the first time because I couldn’t take her course (but really wanted to). I told her I came from a design background where she gasped and gave me this surprised look as if she discovered who I really was (I assume someone told her about me). My supervisor told me how profs who were on the grad school admission committee kept asking him who I was (he wrote one of my reference letters). I am Bobby…I guess. Hah!

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Fashion photography and art

When I was in my early to mid 20s, I was very much a fashion photography guru. Not only that, I also understood the economical, sociological, historical, and art theories that surrounded the discipline. Back then, I was really into photographers like Guy Bourdin, Helmet Newton, Corrine Day, Juergen Teller, Tim Walker, Nick Knight, Steven Meisel, and a few others that I can’t immediately recall. My main fascination lies in its intersection between fashion as a capitalist product and anti-consumerist art.

There are photographers and artists in fashion industry who took up to the challenge of critiquing consumerist and elitist aspect of fashion. Many of their works weren’t simply pictures of some pretty lady in some beautiful dress, they were photographs that made you think. Through their works, they became challengers of the system that reflected varies states and aspects of society—something that I really liked. In many ways, they were pretty rebellious, just like me Lol.

At the time, I realized that being a photographer was about learning how to see the world. This way of seeing lead to studying big difficult disciplines like philosophy which eventually took me to graduate school (i.e. my studies of deconstruction and psychoanalysis). During my undergrad, I had a reputation where people knew me as a guru in all sorts of art theories. It is true that my interest in philosophy and cultural theory outgrew my interest in fashion and photography—even if I maintain the thought that it was photography and art which taught me how to see the world differently. Even when in reality, it was my passion and love for these things that took me beyond them in all sorts of ways (to have infinite thoughts about them, precisely).

That was when I met a teacher (and later became a mentor) who showed me the intersections between philosophy, art, and fashion. She recommended me a book called All for Nothing by Rachel K. Ward, who was a student of the renown thinker Jean Baudrillard from the European Graduate School. The book was Ward’s PhD dissertation that talks about the ethics of desire and how it leads to decadence. It was the very first book that introduced me to other French and German thinkers. I spent the entire summer close reading Ward’s book where she changed my life. I should write about her one day. I think she is brilliant.

With all this said, I still have a ton of fashion magazines and books sitting around. I have a huge collection of the French fashion magazine called Numero that I got shipped directly to me in Canada from France. I also have various small collections of different Vogue magazines (Italia, Germany, and others).

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What is passion?

Just like love, passion is difficult to describe with words because it involves really intense emotions and feelings. It is important we understand that passion is not a description of feelings. Passion is a form of tension that is produced beneath the surface of our words, thoughts, and actions. You can for example, experience passion being produced through the narrations of a great novel, poem, art, film, or the melody/lyrics of a great song (passion is a manifestation of love). You can experience it being produced by someone who knows how to make use of the flow of their words, tone, and punctuation. Passion is always produced underneath the surface of everyday experiences that requires a certain form of concealment. Passion is an intense and powerful movement of the human heart. And for some people, it can be a frightening experience that they actively avoid.

As a result, and as paradoxical it may seem, it is much easier to turn passion into something simple and consumable like happiness and light hearted fun. I sometimes think people intentionally dilute their most intense passions that they have for someone (or something). As such, people will try to hide passion which ironically makes it naturally play itself out like an unescapable destiny. People hide their passion without realizing that passion is always made to be seen. To hide our passion from someone is to say, “I want you to know that I am hiding something from you”. Passion can be seen because the act of hiding can be seen. For here lies the secret to the greatest passions of humanity: the more someone tries to hide their passion, the more you can see its tensions tucked beneath its surface. For passion is always there where you are not where it triumphs over all our attempts at neutralizing it. —This is seduction at its highest order.

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On love, commitment, and infinity

It is very hard to talk about love while also be original without reciting clichés. This was one of the things that made my writings on psychoanalysis and love really difficult (you can find it hyperlinked here). I think the underlying reason why some people are commitment phobes is because society offers too many distractions and choices for them (there is this handsome guy, that pretty gal etc.). Perhaps this might be a protruding symptom of our consumer society that unconsciously made us this way. For is it not society that teaches us to maximize our options in life like we are running our own business? Are we not made to choose and pick the person who can best satisfy our desires? In turn, love becomes some commercial exchange of satisfying our own desires which is—in my view—very degrading in the name of love. And if there is a desire that love makes us want to satisfy, it would be the other’s desire; i.e. to want them to be safe and happy (I will get to this).

You can sometimes see this in the dating world where some people likes to casually date 10 people at once or those who likes to bounce around for casual sex (but it is as Lacan would say: when one loves, it has nothing to do with sex). On the surface, they will often say they just want to figure out what they like or don’t like, even when this is their desires talking (a wishful projection). But doesn’t this also sound similar to your average consumer who wants to purchase the right product that best suits their own desires and needs?

Regardless of whether love has anything to do with the nurtures of consumer society, love often arrives when we least expect it. This is to say that, love has nothing to do with our desires and needs. And love is certainly not a product or commodity to be consumed. Just ask parents who I hope loves their children, and they will all say the same thing: it is about their children’s needs. They want their children to grow up to be happy and healthy. Love that is catered to our needs (or desires) is narcissism (I simplified it here). And the funny thing is that I often see “self-help” posts like this all the time on social media where people tell others that everything should be about themselves. Don’t get me wrong, it is important that we take care of ourselves and love ourselves to a certain extent. But I think there are boundaries that must be understood.

Perhaps some of you are familiar with the famous Greek mythology of Narcissus who looked into the fount of water and fell in love with himself—sort of like people’s obsessions with looking at themselves in the mirror or their own photographs (many mythologies and religions are symptoms of the human psyche). Quite the contrary, love is not about the reflection of ourselves. It is about the reflection of the other person. Real love is not a contract between two narcissists who loves themselves more than they love the other person. Love is not simply feelings of euphoria or sadness that we consume. Love is not a mutual exchange of selfish desires (money, objects, sex, fun, etc.). When love is produced through the declaration of our words (“I love you”), it is no longer about these words alone. Love transforms into selfless acts for the other where we love them more than we love ourselves; where we care for them, protect them, fight for them, and die for them. To love someone is to put their needs above our own—to love them more than we love ourselves in the reflection. Therefore, love often involves struggling, compromise, and sacrifice. Or to put it light heartedly, love is about who cleans the toilet and does the dishes. Thus, we can say that, love is determination, commitment and faith, where it has the ability to overcome some of the greatest differences and obstacles between two people. And it is only through this faithful commitment to the other where love can become eternal and infinite.

“To love is to struggle, beyond solitude, with everything in the world that can animate existence. This world where I see for myself the fount of happiness my being with someone else brings. ‘I love you’ becomes: in this world there is the fount you are for my life. In the water from this fount, I see our bliss, yours first. As in Mallarme’s poem, I see:

In the wave you become
Your naked ecstasy.”

—Alain Badiou, In Praise of Love.