2014-04-24

Narcissistic Civilization


"The religious eye projects earthly images into heaven" (Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, 1983). One needs only turn the myth of Narcissus upside-down to understand how it illustrates the condition of the Judeo-Christian world. Thus, once the man had deprived the pagan nature of its divine breath, he remained alone and deceived himself by recreating in the mirror of the cosmos an idealized image of himself, disguised as one ethereal god. Bewitched under the gaze of this unique, false god, Judeo-Christian civilization still believe today to be the favorite, the chosen people, in such a way that it doesn't understand that the distant Echo, the call of the others, is nothing but desire.

But this structure is also at the basis of psychoanalysis, as Jean Baudrillard showed: "A 'transferential' desire (that is non- or irreferential), a desire fuelled by lack, by the vacan place, a 'liberated' desire, desire caught in its own vertiginous image, a desire to desire thereby also abyssal [en abyme]: a hyperreal desire. Stripped of symbolic substance, desire flows ever more intensely into its double, drawing its energy from its own reflection and from its own disillusionment" (Symbolic Exchange and Death, 1976).

Image after Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's Narcissus (1597-99) [pd] and Étienne-Louis Boullée's Newton's Cenotaph (1780-93) [pd].