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23 Chunks of Being:

Gregory Grieve’s Experiments in Transmitting Pure actuality

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13. Refraktion (2014)

Mixed Media & Photocollage 

"I began with the Imaginary, I then had to chew on the story of the Symbolic ... and I finished by putting out for you this famous Real."

          — Jacques Lacan

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Grieve thought it would be amusing to create a bell jar with nothing in it as physical proof of the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger’s, conception of being-in-the-world (In-der-Welt-sein). For Heidegger, each of us is not the Cartesian “thing that thinks.” We are not a mind that is capable only of representing the world to itself and whose linkage with its body is merely contingent. According to Heidegger, we should instead be conceived as Dasein, a common German word usually translated in English as “existence,” but which literally means “being there.” By using it as a replacement for “consciousness” and “mind,” Heidegger intended to suggest that we dwell in the world in a mode of “uncovering.” Dasein is, in other words, the “there”—or the locus—of being and thus the metaphorical place where we “show ourselves” as what we are to ourselves. Instead of being sealed off within a specially designed compartment within a human being, the functions that have been misdescribed as “mental” now become the defining characteristics of human existence.


Grieve imagined: if you could use a moment of reality as a prism, refract human existence (being-in-the-world) through it, and project it like a split beam of light onto a flat surface what would the dispersion of Dasein look like (यज्ञेन यज्ञमयजन्त देवास्तानि धर्माणि प्रथमान्यासन्)? Grieve hypothesized that it would be divided into three major Lacanian psychic structures that control our lives and our desires—the Imaginary, Symbolic Order, and the Real.  The Imaginary (“I”) corresponds to the mirror developmental stage, when we recognize our reflected image, and it marks the movement when we move from primal needs to what Lacan terms “demand.”  It reflects the ego development and the fundamental narcissism by which each of us creates fantasy images of both ourselves and our ideal objects of desire (“a”). It is the space between the ego and its images. The Symbolic (“S”) is all about equations and identifications, about language and narrative, and occurs when we enter into language’s rules and the dictates of culture and society. The acceptance of the grammar of a language is aligned with the Oedipus complex, according to Lacan. The Symbolic is made possible because of your acceptance of the Name-of-the-Father, those laws, and restrictions that control both your desire and the rules of communication by which your reality field is constituted. The Real (“*”) marks the actual reality from which we have been forever severed by our entrance into any communication system and the culture and society it constitutes. Because * lies outside of language “the real is impossible,” in so far as we cannot represent it.  The very entrance into language marks our irrevocable separation from the real, from *.  Still, we can communicate *, because it continues to exert its influence throughout our lives since it is the rock against which all our fantasies and linguistic structures ultimately fail, and what ultimately drives our jouissance(“J”).

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