For the past two weeks, I’ve wanted to follow up on my post regarding the ending of Spamland #1 (the only one I’ve as yet seen.) My argument was to have identified the retroactive constitution of subjectivity through the chain of signification, something Slavoj Žižek details (through the four phases of Lacan’s graph of desire) in The Sublime Object of Ideology (100-114).
My concern, now, is neither the suturing of subjectivity in Spamland #1 nor the formal structure of suture in narrative. What captures me is the experience of perfect clarity after subjectivity is sutured through the mechanism of desire. About this Žižek explains
A crucial feature at this elementary level of the graph is the fact that the vector of the subjective intention quilts the vector of the signifier’s chain backwards, in a retroactive direction: it steps out of the chain at a point preceding the point at which it has pierced it. Lacan’s emphasis is precisely on this retroactive character of the effect of signification with respect to the signifier, on this staying behind of the signified with respect to the progression of the signifier’s chain: the effect of meaning is always produced backwards, après coup.
Over half a year ago and apropos of nothing, Catherine forbade me from becoming erotically involved with her (different from Catherine): a true non sequitur. Amy did the same: that is, non sequitur and the same her (different from Amy, of course).1 The same prohibition at different times and, I’m guessing, each issued without knowledge of the other prohibition. Why?
Tom said they probably knew something I don’t, had access to a piece of information that pointed toward likelihood, potential, or intention. While the content of the letter remains unknown, its hallmark is reduplication by women connected to my desire. Still, why?
In her analysis of Charles Vidor’s Gilda (1946) Mary Ann Doane explains that Ballin’s “exclusion of the feminine” in the phrase “[g]ambling and women don’t mix” is an ideological product (7).
Within a capitalist patriarchy, gambling and women do not mix because both demand full concentration (they “use up” energy), both are risky, and both entail high stakes. The gambler’s desire for money and his desire for a woman are incompatible precisely because the money and the woman are substitutable objects within essentially the same system and logic of exchange. (7)
The film, of course, ends up being nothing more than cinematic wish fulfillment, unconvincingly rehabilitating the femme fatale and producing a narrative that annihilates itself by barring “the elaborate and prolonged construction of a threatening, explosive image of female sexuality and the devastating effect of that image upon Johnny” (Doane 15).
How perfect is the experience of clarity once subjective intention punctures, in backwards fashion, the signifying chain. How perfect “the cell of elementary desire” (Žižek 100). The letters Catherine and Amy sent were motivated by no reason, no produceable structure, no psychological remnant, no emotional vestige.