Lacanian Review Online 250: The Covid-19 DoesNot Exist

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When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender
This I could not do

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)

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LRO 250
21st October 2020

 




The Covid-19 Does Not Exist
Leigh Tennant

Science is in the process of substituting itself for religion, and it is still more despotic, obtuse and obscurantist. There is an atom God, a space God, etc. If science or religion wins, psychoanalysis is finished. 

Not at all! I am not pessimistic. Nothing will happen, for the simple reason that man is a good-for-nothing. He is not even capable of destroying himself. Personally, the idea of an all-encompassing plague, created by man strikes me as marvellous. It would prove that man had finally succeeded in achieving something with his own hands, his own head, without divine, natural or any other kind of intervention. 

Jacques Lacan Freud Forever: An Interview with Panorama, trans P. Dravers, published in Hurly Burly, No. 12, 2015, p. 18-19, journal of the NLS and Freudian Field.

It is impossible to uphold our favourite master’s ‘health’ and ‘economics’ at the same time. If we are forced to act through ‘natural necessity’ we are still living under the foot of divine will. Science is our religion, but all the more despotic as there is no place for doubt. We don’t want modern sciences to deal with limits. We don’t want scientists to know and admit the limits of their discourse, because we want god. Paradoxically, we need more science, not less, we need or, rather, I desire atheistic science that refuses to suture the gap. I’m with Lacan, if we were able to do something on our own accord because we chose it, or at least, chose not this, we could usher in new ways of relating to the various forms of ‘necessity’ that we begrudgingly accept in our social-economic structure because there is no apparent other way. We would cease being the passive victims of necessity (be it natural or divine), and do something with our own hands and head.

Covid-19 ideology denies the existence of social antagonisms and is quick to claim we are all in this together – but there is no together! Stop plugging rainbows into the painful holes of social trauma! Day to day, we generally accept that our society is built on the open exploitation of one another and that the preservation of private property is upheld over all other forms of meaning. The body is the object of our private property, and we love the heroic scientists who protect it from all ‘alterity’. We have willingly closed our bodies’ borders to the Other, in the name of our love … for the Other? 

Uncontextualized death counts and case numbers become a trump card of fear and power mongering. Any real critique of the government protocols and the ideological use of data lacks legitimacy because the ‘right’ lacks legitimacy within the leftist and liberal ideological spheres. Extremist and wacky oppositions have popped up because only the insane, with their novel paranoias, are capable of standing up to this regime of the absolute good and the media’s tautological hold on reality.

Fear. When things happen to them, even things that they wanted to happen, things they don’t understand, people get frightened. They suffer from not understanding, and they gradually fall into a state of panic. That is neurosis. In hysterical neurosis, the body becomes ill through the fear of being ill, and without being ill in reality. In obsessional neurosis, fear puts bizarre things in people’s heads, thoughts they cannot control, phobias in which forms and objects acquire various meanings and make them afraid. Ibid. p. 15

Wacky opposition takes the form of anti-maskers, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, and anyone who denies Covid-19’s existence, but content is not the point. This is not about masks, no one planned this, and the categories of freedom and liberty are as empty as they always were. But these resistances, minus their content, point to the infantilization that occurs when we aren’t involved in any of the decisions that govern life. It is, to me, an obscure response to the denial of death. We are denying death in exchange for a life that is unliveable! The promise of absolute security driving the western world has been rendering life increasingly impossible beyond the private sphere and screen for a long time, and look where we are – the symptom is literal. 

My question to the alethosphere is this: why are we willing to pause our lives – indefinitely, I will add – in response to an event where we don’t experience anything of its real? The only real the majority will experience (despite their clear unconscious desire for the opposite – a desire for death they must defend themselves against, which is why they were so anxious) is the non-sense of house arrest, screens and boredom. I am all too familiar with this real, no-thing. This lack of ‘real-experience’ runs through all of western life, and I refuse to be a spectator. I refuse to enjoy this. However, as a model middle-class spectator I am supposed to just accept what the Other says. The experts have been given free rein to live out their wish for total social administration and the eradication of all otherness, and this should make me feel safe. And we, the perverts who don’t have any subjective protection from discourse, act as their agents. I’d rather die than accept this as Truth!

It seems that the moment of anxiety has arrived for scientists. In their sterilised laboratories, in their starched white coats, these overgrown children who play with unknown things, manipulate ever more complex apparatuses and invert ever more abstruse formulae, are starting to ask themselves what might happen tomorrow and what their always new research might bring. At long last, I say. And what if it’s already too late? Biologists, physicists or chemists, they call them. I call them lunatics! Though they are already in the process of wrecking the universe, only now does it occur to them to ask if it might actually be dangerous. And what would happen if it all blew up in their faces? If the bacteria, cultivated so lovingly in their white laboratories, were to turn into a deadly foe? If the world were to be swept away by a plague of such bacteria along with all the crap in it, beginning with these scientists in their laboratories? Ibid p. 19.

The wacky anti-lockdowners don’t have a legitimate discourse regarding what remains ‘unbearable’ about living under the hyper-securitized insecurity of the ‘new normal’ and so the tribes hit the streets with their unique interpretations and jouissance. There is no language coming from the left or the right that would complexify what is happening right now, and so we are left at the mercy of inventive paranoia. The wacky stand in for the lack of heterogeneity in Covid-19 discourses, and they might be empirically wrong, but at least we aren’t apologists for the status quo. What worries me isn’t these wacky oppositions, it is the quiet majority who only care about what can be measured.

We are demonstrating the power of our new father, ‘the victim,’ and in the absence of a moderating limit the Other’s demand invades every aspect of life. Some might say this is a limit on the unlimited. I would say it is an unlimited limit, on the limit, death! We are feigning global unification in order to eradicate death! I don’t count myself in the ranks of those who would aspire towards the unlimited application of the good anymore, but I do hope for a real form of democracy. If the subject is an effect of structure, and the structure is increasingly homogenous, democracy is defeated in advance. The only hope for democracy is to harness our symptom-al singularity. To harness the traumatic residue that each of us is, that thing resistant to ideology, that thing we would prefer to normalize and avoid. To speak our criminal thoughts.

Our current destruction will hopefully lead to a novel creation, but I am like Lacan, a bit pessimistic. The only leftist position I can make out, despite a complete reluctance to take a position, is a desire for the government to implement even stricter rules and for there to be even less democratic process. All in order to protect our new master, the ‘victim’. This false opposition between ‘health’ and ‘economics’ will lead to destruction unless we can exceed the empirical and start talking at the level of the existential. The only opposition to these empirical masters becomes wacky and extremist because there isn’t any available language to subjectively transcend the ‘iron order’ of our nihilism. All we have is the quiet absurdity of living like this, the absurdity of banishing both ‘life’ and ‘death’ in exchange for ‘health’ and ‘economics’.

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