lacanian review online psychoanalysis

2.10.2015 - Archive

  • Mad Men Isn’t Over Yet
    By Jorge Assef

    For 7 years, Mad Men (AMC: 2007) was the most profound and artistic American TV series with the greatest popular success. Even Barak Obama cited it as a reference in his State of the Union address in 20141...

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    • ...The story takes place in the 1960s, at the peak of modern advertising’s rise to glory2, when marketing, the empire of images, and consumer capitalism began to transform human life. The characters are organized around an advertising agency and the fictional events are intertwined with the historical and social events of the decade.
      One of Mad Men’s interesting traits is, precisely, that it takes the romantic memory of the sixties and deconstructs it, thus reflecting that, if counterculture did actually exist, it was the effect of a sexist, racist, religious and imperialist American ideology. This was clearly represented by the advertising agencies on Madison Ave., and by their mostly Republican clients , an exchange which led to the consecration of the American way of life as the hegemonic cultural model of the late 20th century.
      Therefore, Mad Men’s spectators are invited to discover that behind flower power, the sexual revolution, the beatnik poets, and Woodstock, in the system’s hard core, the most powerful tool of cultural domination was being honed: modern advertising. Fed by the spread of mass media, Hollywood’s star system, and the transnationalization of the economy, advertising would give birth to a new world.
      This is precisely what Lacan noted in 1970 when he announced that we would all soon be Lacanian: “The ascent to the social zenith of the object I have called small ‘a’ would suffice (…) because, when one doesn’t know what saint to commend oneself to, (…) one buys anything”4.
      In March 2015, the launch of Mad Men’s final season was announced, and it was promoted as “the” cultural event of the year”. The streets in the cities with greater visibility on the planet became screens replicating the slogan of the grand finale: Mad Men, the End of an Era.
      In the series’ final episode, Don Draper, the protagonist, ends up in a hippie therapeutic community in California after a personal crisis. He cries on the phone as he speaks to one of his colleagues, who says “I know you get sick of things and you run, but you can come home. Don’t you want to work on Coke?” Later in the episode we see Don meditating under the sun. The spiritual leader declares “The new day brings new hope, (…) a new day, new ideas, a new you.” Don and the rest of the group respond with a ommm; the camera closes up on a smiling Don. His eyes are shut. Immediately after that, the Coca-Cola “Hilltop” (1971) commercial is featured: an interracial crowd of long-haired teenagers wearing batik shirts sing: “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. What the world wants today: Coca-Cola.” The end!
      During a seminar on Mad Men held at the New York Public Library, its creator, Matthew Weiner, avoided a definition about this controversial finale; in other words, it isn’t clear whether the Coca-Cola ad taken from real life as documentary material to crown the end of the series means that Don actually returned to New York and turned the Age of Aquarius into a commercial to sell soda. However, Weiner did say “…but it was nice to sort of have your cake and eat it too in terms of, like, what is advertising?”5

      In 1966, Jacques Lacan travelled to the United States. In his conference in Baltimore on October 21, he said “When I came here this evening I saw on the little neon sign the motto ‘Enjoy Coca-Cola’. It reminded me that in English, I think, there is no term to designate precisely this enormous weight of meaning which is in the French word jouissance, (…) If the living being is something at all thinkable, it will be above all as subject of jouissance.”
      Lacan could have mentioned any social American reference in order to speak about jouissance, but he chose, precisely, a Coca-Cola billboard. I see that choice as an interpretation; in it we can find the key which — starting from his latest teaching — gives us tools to understand the contemporary subject under the influence of the push to jouir.
      Mad Men doesn’t tell us about the end of an era: it only narrates the beginning…



      1 “It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.” These were the words with which Barak Obama mentioned the series during his State of the Union address in Congress, referring to equal pay for women, on January 28, 2014.
      Congress, referring to equal pay for women, on January 28, 2014.

      2 “Mad Men” was a slang term coined in the early 60s to refer to advertising executives working on Madison Avenue, New York.
      3 Carrión, Jorge. Teleshakespeare. Las series en serio. Buenos Aires: Interzona, 2014.
      4 Lacan, Jacques. “Radiofonía”. Otros Escritos, p.436. Buenos Aires: Paidós, 2012.
      5 www.avclub.com, 2015

  • Another kind of DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors)
    By Juan F. Arango & Isolda Alvarez

    The Obama Administration has been notable in the media because of the number of deportations that have occurred during this presidency. However, from 2014 to 2015 the deportation numbers dropped. ...

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    • ...“According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data, the Department of Homeland Security deported 414,481 people in fiscal year 2014, down from 438,421 the year before.”1 This drop in numbers may be due in part to the deferments by the Dream Act.

      In June 2012 President Obama initiated the well-known Dream Act, officially named Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This law doesn't represent an all-encompassing solution to the complicated U.S. immigration issues, but since its implementation it has had a great impact on the lives of millions of young immigrants who have lived in the United States since they were children, many of which immigrated while they were still babies and many of which only speak English. “Approximately 1.4 million immigrants living in the United States could qualify for the deferred action initiative, either now or when they are older.”2 This means that at least for the next two years they can get permission to work legally in the United States, have a right to receive college tuition benefits, and be allowed to remain in this country, rather than being deported to countries they don’t know much about and which have traditions that they don’t identify with.

      Many families have been separated because of the immigration policies adopted in the United States in recent years. However last year President Obama announced The Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), another law which also defers the deportation of “3.7 million unauthorized immigrants parents of children with US citizenship or green cards”.3

      This is a topic that provides the Lacanian psychoanalytic field a chance to study the effects on the subjectivity of someone who identifies with the U.S. culture and has to deal with a country that does not recognize him/her as a member of its society.

      Within the Lacanian psychoanalytic approach, identification is formed by the incorporation of an Other. This Other –in this case the State- acts as a guarantor of the development of this person by providing services such as a mandatory education for a child to start at five years old; this same state that makes education mandatory including these “illegal aliens” in the system is the same one that's letting down these individuals. What would be the effects of this rejection on the subjectivity of these people?

      Meanwhile this Other also has configured certain ways of jouissance particular to this society, such as the way of forming social bonds, the life dynamic, possible projects and desires, and so on. How could someone change a way of jouissance just because the State policies mandate it?

      The Dreamers have found a solution via the Act (and their acts, psychoanalytically speaking). They have created organizations and have become activists that not only dream about the legalization and basic rights they are claiming, but who raise their voices to demand a basic inclusion that allows them to stay where they were placed by the same State that now is trying to take them out.

      The latest policies created by the current Administration open up interesting opportunities for this population allowing them to be more included than excluded. Lacanian psychoanalysis has clinical evidence that shows the havoc that someone suffers when the ground of her/his identifications are staggered.

      (Edited by Silvia Guzman)

      1 Retrieved from: blogs.reuters.com
      2 Retrieved from: immigrationpolicy.org
      3 Retrieved from: immigrationimpact.com

lacanian review online psychoanalysis

lacanian review online psychoanalysis