Zizek's Jokes 8.5分
读书笔记 第45页


In an old Slovene joke, a young schoolboy has to write a short composition with a title “There is only one mother!,” in which he is expected to illustrate, apropos a singular experience, the love that links him to his mother; here is what he writes: “One day I returned home earlier than expected, because the teacher was ill; I looked for my mother and found her naked in her bed with a man who was not my father. My mother angrily shouted at me: “What are you staring at like an idiot? Why don’t you run to the refrigerator and get us two cold beers!” I ran to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, looked into it, and shouted back to the bedroom: “There is only one, mother!”
Is this not a supreme case of interpretation that just adds a punctuation mark that changes everything, as in the parody of the first words of Moby-Dick: “Call me, Ishmael!”? One can discern the same operation in Heidegger (the way he reads “Nothing is without reason (nihil est sine ratione),” by shifting the accent to “Nothing[ness] IS without reason”), or in the superego displacement of the prohibitive injunction of the symbolic law (from “Don’t kill!” to “Don’t!” … “Kill!”). However, one should risk a more detailed interpretation. The joke stages a Hamlet-like confrontation of the son with the enigma of mother’s excessive desire; in order to escape this deadlock, the mother as it were takes refuge in /the desire for/ an external partial object, the bottle of beer, destined to divert the son’s attention from the obscene Thing of her being caught naked in bed with a man—the message of this demand is: “You see, even if I am in bed with a man, my desire is for something else that you can bring me. I am not excluding you by getting completely caught in the circle of passion with this man!” The two bottles of beer / also/ stand for the elementary signifying dyad, like Lacan’s famous two restroom doors observed by two children from the train window in his “Instance of the letter in the unconscious”; from this perspective, the child’s repartee is to be read as rendering to the mother the elementary Lacanian lesson: “Sorry, mother, but there is ONLY ONE SIGNIFIER, for the man only, there is no binary signifier (for the woman), this signifier is ur-verdraengt, primordially repressed!” In short: you are caught naked, you are not covered by the signifier. And what of this is the fundamental message of monotheism? Not the reduction of the Other to the One, but, on the contrary, the acceptance of the fact that the binary signifier always-already lacks. This imbalance between the One and its “primordially repressed” counterpart is the radical difference, in contrast to the big cosmological couples (yin and yang, etc.) that can emerge only within the horizon of the undifferentiated One (tao, etc.). And are not even the attempts to introduce a balanced duality into the minor spheres of consummation, like the couple of small blue and red bags of artificial sweetener available everywhere in cafés, yet another desperate attempt to provide a symmetrical signifying couple for the sexual difference (blue “masculine” bags versus red “feminine” bags)? The point is not that sexual difference is the ultimate signified of all such couples, but rather that the proliferation of such couples displays an attempt to supplement the LACK of the founding binary signifying couple that would directly stand for sexual difference.1

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