Talk:Lacan Builds a Circuit

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from vayespm neg matrix

Bateson would pursue the “epistemological problem of consciousness” throughout his career, it would thread through the ongoing discussion on aesthetics, communication and ecology, oscillating at the centre of his work. In Bateson’s later writing, Sacred Unity (1991) and in Angels Fear (1980) for instance, his proclamations become more axiomatic and his language more poetic. Bateson describes the emergent self variously as a “smoke ring”, “screen of consciousness” and a “necessary fiction”.[1]

In a 1977 text published in Sacred Unity Bateson presents two extremes of identity: solipsism and non existence. Somewhere between the two, “is a region where you are partly blown by the winds of reality and partly an artist creating composites out of inner and outer events”. Bateson then introduces the figure of the smoke ring which occupies the space between self-determined identity and non-existence:

“A smoke ring is, literally and etymologically, introverted. It is endlessly turning upon itself, a torus, a doughnut spinning on the axis of the circular cylinder which is the doughnut. And this turning upon its own in-turned axis is what gives to the smoke ring separable existence. It is, after all, made up of nothing but air marked with a little smoke. It is of the same substance with its environment. But it has duration and location and a certain degree of separation by virtue of its own in-turned motion. In a sense, the smoke ring stands as a very primitive, oversimplified paradigm for all recursive systems which contain the beginning of self-reference or shall we say selfhood”. [2]

  1. In Sacred Unity and StEM. The “possibly illusory” sense of free will is in line with Lacan, in relation to the subject encoding information; the subject cannot conceive of itself as a subject as such until a circuitry of unconscious activity has been established and a sense of “free will” or volition can be introduced. In Lacanian parlance this “subject” finds equivalence in Lacan’s “dis-centred subject” which emerges from the symbolic order which is exterior to the subject.
  2. Bateson Sacred Unity, 223