[The Montana Professor 1.2, Spring 1991 <http://mtprof.msun.edu>]

Transformation/Trance/In-Formation: Rubik's Cube and Transformer Toy

Michel Valentin
Foreign Language & Literature
University of Montana

[A version of this article was given at the first North American Conference devoted to the work of Jean Baudrillard, which took place at the University of Montana (Missoula, 12-14 May 1989). Present were Jean Baudrillard, Sylvere Lotringer, Arthur and Marielouise Kroker, plus forty participants.]

Travel to the end of the word

Women, foreign countries, and toys are not what they used to be. In flat earth stories, loving and travel, as well as playing, used to be a flirt with the infinite. Now this infinite runs through everyday life.

A semiology of forces and intensities which play in/on intelligible signs, allows us to charter the new change of things, as Marx suggested when he wrote that the change of forms mediates the material change of society. Marx here was anticipating the structuralist idea of a system in which all the elements are interrelated and are, therefore, mutually inferable from any significant sample taken as token.

For instance, the Rubik's Cube and the Transformer are games of change, or objects which change. As such, they are part of this immense movement and enterprise, this continuous text of the change of forms. The use here of the word "form" parallels the use of form made by the German sociologist G. Simmel, which is itself near to the notion of form as described by Weber (concept of ideal-type). It takes into account a certain frame of analysis which aims at outlining the minute situations of social life while respecting their own dynamics. In a certain way, formism (and not formalism) can be considered as a technique of the study of the banality in everyday life./1/

Both toys are not chance games. As suggested in The Social Life of Things by Arjun Appadurai (1986) and The Cultural Biography of Things by Igor Kopytoff, as merchandise crosses diachronically different social situations, it receives successively different statuses. The same thing can be said of toys. The Rubik's Cube and the Transformer, though, do not reverse the principle inherent in the Occidental and Puritan work ethic as the lottery does, for instance, scoffing at the morals of work (to win everything without hardship) as if "a throw of the dice could eliminate chance"/2/ which rules and orders games and playing with toys in general/3/ although they partake, at the same time, of all the ingredients characteristic of the nature of games and toys through the appeal to ludism. In other words, they no longer pretend to deal with humanist metaphysics or ground their representation in reality (i.e., as representation of the real, actual world) but unabashedly anticipate and represent, through a discourse of scientific procession, the play (dance) of elementary particles in modern physics (for the Rubik's Cube) or mirror the figures of video fantasy/4/ which were yet to come on the market when the Transformer first came out. These toys are artifacts of a new order of things, a new status of the gadget, which indexes towards a new connectionism between mind and matter, based on a meta-mathematics or meta-epistemology which abolishes the traditionally established frontiers between the subject and the object.

These toys occupy an intermediate position between the gadget and the toy proper, the technical object and a mental construct (like a ready-made). They no longer function as vehicle of/for functional values. As such they belong to the category of gadgets. They are effectual objects typical of post-modern and post-industrial society and megapolis culture. As Jean Baudrillard analyzes it in La Société de Consommation, the object of consumption is characterized by the relative disappearance of its "objective function" (utilitarian and useful; i.e., the use-value) to the benefit of its sign-function. If the machine-toy (Meccano, Marklin, Dinky toy, etc.) is the emblem of the English or German industrial society, aiming at duplicating didactically and pedagogically, the toy-gadget (Rubik's Cube, Transformer, video games) is the emblem of the post-industrial society and wants to inscribe its effects in a prolongation of the basic ludism of consumption society. Although they still can be used for tinkerism (what Levi-Strauss calls bricolage as typical of any cultural activity) and the development of the experimentally cognitive, these are not their prime function. They are perfect examples of strange attractors and social operators./5/ One does not actually "use" them but consumes them for something else than their usefulness. It is no longer a question of hidden revolt or a quest for a social consensus (a jeu de société--society game--as the French call table games involving many players, such as Monopoly), with their correlatives such as catharsis, willing suspension of disbelief, identification and sublimation.

The Rubik's Cube and the Transformer are games for "loners" and "introverts" (contrary to the way sports operate, requiring a minimal social bond) like video games (although, new "tribal type of bonds"/6/ are created along what Deleuze and Guattari call molar lines). They are oriented towards the vertigo of pure simulation, to use Jean Baudrillard's image/7/ and the fascination of the moment (games of the "now and then") as mere activity of self-absorption in the moment, like a "self-contemplating shadow in petty labors occupied," to repeat the words of the bard.

The Transformer only repeats the games of mimetic transformation where the figures of alterity can be summed up into one: the one of transformation itself identified with the one of the object, as if the status of the object had become the mere law of transformation itself. The Transformer does not operate any fundamental alterations on the manipulator, as for instance in the act of reading itself, which implies different periods of time, the assumption of various perspectives, eras, localities, etc. The Transformer repeats itself, establishing no "equal communion and identity, no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity."/8/ There is no transformation of one form of energy into another (as in transduction), whereas the Rubik's Cube implies long periods of search and experimentation, followed by or following instantaneousness, immediate mental presence and concentration or flash-like insights. Both the Transformer and the Rubik's Cube indicate and are the product, at once, of a social paralysis and of volatile social conditions. The symbolic function works as social operator and strange attractor/9/ (as, for instance, the video game, the TV set, the VCR, the computer, the CD player, the walkman--or as the popular and populist success of the Minitel in France). They possess a closed, compact, definitive, looped character, an ultimate alterity which positions them in the realm of toys and/or images of toys without originals. This is characteristic of the imaginary object which repeats itself, identical to itself and which traps consciousness into the loop of obsessive compulsion and engulfs it in the automatism of repetition. As such, it parallels the function of the mathematical tensor as recurring mechanism or "skeleton schema" (schématismes) of the dead past./10/

They objectify this all-powerful coalition of simulacrum and vertigo which aims at trance and hypnosis. They are the visual analogues of the spinning society in the post-Newtonian age.

Joseph N. Riddel said of "writing" as characteristic of modernism and of what he calls "Poeism" that it is "an eccentricity in the order of things; it is aberrational, non-teleological, a stylistic machine. An interest of cryptograms, cyphers, puzzles, labyrinths--they are the obsessions of the child and the pure intellect, and will lead symptomatically to what Roland Barthes has called 'semio-clastics' or the incoherence of writing."/11/ This could also be safely said to describe post-modernism and, in fact, any period witnessing an accelerated accretion of the play of signifiers, typical of the Baroque era in art, for instance.

The Rubik's Cube was invented simultaneously in Hungary, behind what used to be called the Iron Curtain/12/--the "traditional Other" of the U.S.--and also, in the feudal, postmodern Archipelago, Japan--the "new Other" of America. Japan is already a satellite of earth, as Baudrillard suggests: "Japan, which to a certain extent has pulled off this trick better than the U.S. itself, managing, in what seems to us an intelligible paradox, to transform the power of territoriality and feudalism into that of deterritorialtiy and weightlessness."/13/ The Transformer was invented in the U.S.

The Rubik's Cube

The Rubik's Cube shares with chess, the Chinese game of Go, or the Japanese game of No (as used metaphorically in the now "classic" modernist movie, Alain Resnais' Last Year in Marienbad) the attributes of intellectuality, i.e., a topos where the contingencies and the chance dimension inherent to all games and human things are minimized thanks to the masterful play of the mind. It is the post-modern version of numerology, the ancient Chinese art of geomancy, the geometric rendition of mantics and meditation. Theseus navigated the labyrinth of the Minotaur with the aid of a ball of twine. The Incas had devised a rope game and computing device called the quipu, which allowed them to keep tab and accounts of history and time, of the "order of things." Everything which was to be counted was counted with the help of knotted cords of different thickness and color. By the same token, the computer allows the individual a certain centralized, mnemonic control over the data explosion of modernity, which saturates the splintering and more and more segmented social organization that is still geared to handling information at a much slower rate and not processing it at the increasingly accelerating rate imposed by the nexus of tele-information. These modern toys play at manipulating the sur-reality yielded by modernism, technological capitalism, vulgarization and modern physics, as if iconically establishing what is being researched in computer engineering laboratories, i.e., a correspondence between neural nets and artificial intelligence.

They are all symptoms of possible and different answers (as machines, systems, simulating devices, abacuses, etc.) to the same fascination for the possible permutations (sequential and directional) of progressions of numbers and their arrangements underpinning the multiplicity of reality, from the permutational mathematics of the DNA to the I Ching and the Mayan Calendar Harmonics. For instance, a fractal is a proportion that remains constant beyond and through heterogeneity. A fractal underlies the holographic nature of things./14/ A correspondence can be established between knots (or perhaps even strings), the play of hypothetical/hypostatized particles and the positions of the faces of the cubes. In the same paradoxical way there are links between private and mass catastrophes. The tessellation in cubes and squares of the larger volume of the Cube corresponds to a tessellation of squares into space, its mental representation in four non-linear dimensions. And the self-referential game becomes mimetic of problems of infinity as alluded to in the painting The 3 Spheres by Escher (where any part of the world seems to contain and be contained in every other part) or in the fantastic Baroque stories of Jorge Luis Borges such as El Aleph. Paradoxes and private metaphysics, baroque science and contemporary economics, modern physics and oriental philosophy, ancient numerology and computer science, all spin around the same black hole.

The Rubik's Cube becomes interesting and hair-raising (akin for that matter to the devilish complexity of modern problems) in its unscrambled state when the whole game-problem and simulation is to restore the scrambled, colored facelets of this 3x3x3 cube to their proper positions. There was a Rubik's Cube of the Industrial Age. It was Sam Lyod's "15" puzzle which, with its two dimensional, labyrinthine quality was considered to be the epitome of insanity in the 19th century. The Rubik's Cube itself, as the epitome of the postmodern gadget, the scrambler-puzzle, is characteristic of the hyper-dimensionality of contemporary simulation where work and play mix together. It is the abstracted reproduction of abstraction elevated to the nth power, where the mere intellectualized symbolical powers of man/woman's brain (i.e., its computing, abstracting abilities) have been satellized, out there, at the fingertips. For, in order to unscramble the Cube, one must step backward: to go ahead, one must partially and temporarily destroy and undo seemingly precious progress time and time again, following a precise, hyperreal pattern of changes. It is the evolutionary and seemingly contradictory structure of a feedback loop which does not obey the principles of linear logic. Like most natural systems, the Rubik's Cube laws of re-ordering cannot be transcribed in a simple straight line from cause to effect but obey cycles (represented by non-linear equations), marked by ruptures and abrupt transitions with the effect (sometimes out of all expected proportion) feeding back on the cause and even amplifying it.

The appearance of the polyurethans, sculptural Cube itself, with its uptight, hollow cubes, reminds one of the repetitive geometric forms of Minimalist art in the early seventies, with a Mondrian-like display of geometrically patterned colors, but with a feel that invites one to touch its apparent alienating shape and simplicity, like a plastic skin or plastic-skinned form waiting to be touched, manipulated, provoking and later irritating.

As to the Rubik's Cube configurations, a full eight-cycle turn of a cubie (facelet) means that each facelet has made a Moebius strip course. The mere trial and error of the relatively limited field of applied physics in the 19th century does not work here any longer. As Douglas Hofstadter notes,/15/ the Rubik's Cube offers a metaphor for the political state of affairs in which the globe is in a mess. To fix it, the leaders of the various countries must relinquish any tiny bit of order they have achieved--instead they cling to old, useless achievements because they are too fearful and ignorant of letting go and temporarily abandoning what partial order they do have to achieve greater future order or harmony. Their intelligence lacks a global, quasi-cosmic perspective and a willingness to make sacrifices in the short run to secure greater gains in the long run. The Rubik's Cube also mirrors the positioning of fundamental particles such as quarks, anti-quarks, mesons, baryons, and antibaryons through the mathematical definition of a twist; for instance, a clockwise quarter twist of one of the corners of the Cube would correspond to a quark. The opposite would correspond to an antiquark, etc./16/

The Transformer toy

More than meets the eye!
Robots in disguise!
Autobots use their missiles
To destroy the evil forces
Of the deceptakons. --(lyrics of a TV ad)

According to the Webster's Dictionary, a transformer is (1) one that transforms; (2) a device for changing electrical energy to a different voltage (output and input reversible); (3) a toy which can change forms and shapes. Generally, the starting figure is one of a robot.

The Transformer exemplifies the metamorphosis of hidden configurations which pre-program the return of the same according to a hidden path which is quickly determined, becoming more and more obtrusive the more one repeats the path. The path is but the preordained ordering of the different paths positioned along the transformative path. In that respect, it is very different from the Rubik's Cube. The body of the toy is but a huge contraption of transformation, the only purpose of which is to be. The function of the toy is already coded by its name, as if the latter encapsulated the magical power of the toy's performance: active, transitive, meaning as conveyed by the prefix trans- (to pass through) and stabilized by the paradigm of male-gender nominalization -er (as in the doer; to be also compared with the proliferation of pulp novel titles such as the terminator, the extractor, the equalizer, the liquidator, etc.) and describing at the same time the process and the result of the action, which is another toy-figure. It has been transformed into something else, which happens to be another toy; it is the same yet not totally the same, but not another. Both registers, the nominative and the participial, the generic and the personalized, the active and the passive, the child performing the operation and the toy giving him/her the illusion of the operation, have been mixed and conflated. The toy assumes a systematic completeness where it does not exist (in fact none actually exists), linking object and self through an oppositional barrier/suture akin to the functioning of the metaphor in language. In this sense, the Transformer is a postmodern toy. There is no transformation of one form of energy into another, as in a transduction.

The toy is its own agent and lawmaker; it is the doer of the process and the recipient of the process; as such, it indexes towards what the modern citizen-consumer of postmodern capital, as child, must become. As such, it is no longer a sign but a type of semeiotic functioning (iconic representamen).

Classical philosophy and metaphysics are based on the metaphor as key-operational functional concept. Aristotle's Poetics defines metaphora (derived from the Greek verb "to transport") as "the application of the name of a thing to something else, working either from genus to species, or from species to genus, or from species to species, or on grounds of analogy."

Here the Transformer as doer produces and establishes an equation which is an adequation (homoiosis) between two terms the identity of which are artificially and mechanistically (although smoothly as if lubricated by the teflon-like plastic of the object) forced together, co-joined and bound. The "er" of the noun as operator takes on the ambiguity best illustrated by the French homology between copula and conjunction (et/est--and/is).

In fact, the Transformer renders the concept of action itself passive, since the Transformer, mutatis mutandis, can but reduplicate its own movement as the pendular repetition between two states, two objects, two figures, two boundaries. This transformation is a fixation and a simulation of freedom and creativity. This transfixation indexes towards the essential qualities of a mass marketed product. The object must appear sexually sleek (generic of "sexiness") evoking a quasi oxymoronic kind of "sexiness" based on a limp and pliable hardness and stiffness, like a skin which would invite massage.

But in the case of the Transformer, the "ultra-phallic" connotation of the toy representing heavy machinery/vehicles or heavily armed robots has been rendered operative under an aggressive type of functionalism which is reminiscent of the "armoring" of the knights of the Middle Ages, which Wilhelm Reich would undoubtedly call "libidinal armoring." The plastic, brilliant, psychedelic colors of those "hard toys" are reminiscent of the psychedelic colors of Japanese TV monsters and space robots in the late '60s. The toy then becomes a micro-Lilliputian reduction--simulation of a man's world, a "doer's world" or more directly a mock-up version of a mean-spirited, macho cowboy or robot or knight-football player: in short, a typecast rendition of a mercenary of technology allied to the space cowboy as envisioned by Gerald K. O'Neill and Duck Pearson in The High Frontier in the late sixties.

The transformational capacity mollifies the extremely hard, unrelenting "virile" connotation pointing towards an overly "phallic" denotation of the android-robot-engine-alien, a "red-neckism" of effects, aspects, and values. In its high-brow bashing or ironic deculturation process (kitsch), the mercantile pop culture has a very frank and direct approach. Generally, the object into which the robot transforms is a symbol of low-brow W.A.S.P. status, the powerful swift vehicle of transport (truck, car, motorbike, plane, ship, submarine, etc.) connoting rugged independence, the adventurous and exploratory mood of war, self-reliance, power, and the neo-romantic, quasi-nihilistic cult of the "machine of transportation." Through a series of operations, twists, turns, and revolutions (which certainly are more concrete applications of the abstract trend set by the Rubik's Cube, which is much less static than the Transformer), one reaches the point of transformation, i.e., the same-machine or auto-bot.

The message is only the law of transformation itself. It is apparently neither true nor false. The assignment of a truth value has become meaningless. And like kitsch, which is according to Milan Kundera,/17/ the stopover between being and oblivion, the postmodern gadget-toy is situated between the toy and the tool, use-value and enjoyment-value, indexing towards the law of transformation as the ultimate and primary, essential pleasure (compare with the Freudian fort/da). Linear dynamics typical of the traditional, rotational game of cards based on a linear distributivity, have been set aside to leave room for nonlinear dynamics, fractals, chaos theory, and theory of catastrophes (radical changes and sudden transformations opposed to evolutionary, smooth transformations), typical of complex systems and complexity theory. The behavior of phenomena is more aptly characterized by cyclical movements, feedback and amplification of effects upon causes, abrupt transitions, and asymmetry.

The Transformer toy reenacts the transformational avatars of the cultural icons of ancient myths from gods and goddesses, dungeons and dragons, monsters and gargoyles to futuristic myths such as robots, super vehicles of all sorts and space ships (not as metaphors but as phosphorescent matrices which work as iconic representamen). The power of transformation, of transubstantiation and translation (to be of, like, but not the same) has become the intrinsic trance.

The ultimate transformer toy as exemplified by the last Michael Jackson movie (Moonwalker, directed by Jerry Kramer and Colin Chilvers, 1989) uniting together the image of the racial and sexual mutant (part androgyne, part transsexual, to use Baudrillard's expression) and the potentialities of the bionic, prosthetic individual (as pictured in Robocop), would be the man-as-transforming-robot, as post-human beyond the primal, feudal, and industrial ages. In Moonwalker, Michael Jackson is incarnated as a transforming robot.

The transformer is also a good exemplification of the work performed by the toy at the level of the signifier and the signified, within the context of a postmodern consumer society. Mobile functionalism and cross-cultural synergistic innovation, the credo of modern management and consumption, operate on the exaltation of an expandable realm of signs of the "real" and the reality of things themselves. The object of the transformation is not the formation of objects any longer. Still, the Transformer toy capitalizes on the pleasure principle in order to channel its energy (the transformation is the pleasure of the formation) into an endless circular strip of a monotonous false-exchange (more pointless than ever), swapping G.I. Joe for Jeep, or Barbie Doll for Dune Buggy. The deconstruction is but a reconstruction of the ready-made construct.

The Transformer is a metonymy which hides itself, which wants to pass as a metaphor, a mechanism of the Big Boy/18/ as the epitome of the celibatory machine (to be with the paintings of oversized people by the Colombian Fernando Botero) with a rigid, linear, quasi-Oedipal structure overriding the interplay of possibilities of construction-deconstruction (as in Meccano, for instance) which pushes the child to constantly find the desired results rather than engage in real experimentation. The toy reduces all multiplicity and opening of the ludic activity of the game to a back and forth repetition between the One and the Same as Other, indexed by a ternary movement between the positions 1 and 2, and the term 3 as child and/or toy. The Transformer traverses the child, transversing its desire, since the object of pleasure is always mirrored in the ego, according to Jacques Lacan. It assumes a systematic completeness where none exists, linking the object to the self. At its core, it represents a complete, self-regulating, machine-like entity which adapts to new conditions by transforming its features while retaining its systematic structure and its intentionality of survival; in the same way the pupa passes to the chrysalid and to the adult insect./19/ The Transformer is an induced metamorphosis accompanied by speed, to borrow from Paul Virilio's thematic study on speed as the primary driving force of modernity. This conjunction at the level of representation between speed (or immediacy, quick and easy), modernity, transforming gadget-artifact, and a will to life, borrows many of its "techno-biological" functioning metaphors of survival of the "fittest" from the world of insects and reptiles and has become a constant obsession with Hollywood and Madison Avenue, best exemplified by the Alien and Robocop series of movies and toy-gadgets. From the seventies on, a whole series of plastic-metal object clones of the same matrix were produced, of which the Transformer is the epitome.

From the Japanese Godzilla replicants to the Star Wars figures, figures issued from U.S. cartoons such as the Super-Heroes series: Spiderman, Spiderwoman, the Incredible Hulk, Aquaman, Iceman, Muscleman, Batman, Superman, He-Man, She-Man, The Masks, Ninja Fighters, Ninja Turtle Fighters, etc.: a concatenation of identity, a polymerization of the same took shape, mirroring the same concatenation of tools, toys, and commodities in the adult world. Plastic crackers of a dislocated identity, of a pulverization of the One, transformers are also bits and pieces of disguised actants in a new narrative, assemblers of a disconnected person, but aiming towards self-regulation and completeness./20/ This new narrative as constituting these returns of the storied nature is itself the tracing of a postmodern return of the subject which is in need of a new, plural mythology. The capitalism of consumption, of post-industrial and neo-liberal society operates a generalized, grand decoding of value-systems which does not appeal to any other beliefs, dogma, or sacred values but itself, i.e., those it generates itself for itself.

The Transformer as figure of/in disguise (hiding its own laws of operation-transformation like the metaphor in language and like ideology and/or the functioning of capital) is symbolically bent on destroying evil. The deceptakons, machines of deceit which expose or do not know or cannot hide their laws, perhaps through lack of technological know-how (one might read here the place occupied by the Reaganian expression "Evil Empire" borrowed from the Star Wars films)--are a crude exemplification of the process establishing connection through rupture that effects partial objects and brings out the reproduction of these processes. It is the very metaphor of the metaphor (the economy as system and the system as economy) or better, metonymic with/of the whole apparatus-machine-ideology-economy-system totally identical to its parts as tools-objects-gadgets of enjoyment-functioning. Freud tells us that auto-eroticism is the functioning of objects solely in relation to pleasure.

The child is then both the targeted consumer (a consumer is a narcissistic actant and not actor) of the play of its own desire, as well as the future manipulator-manipulee, an individual with a "variable configuration" (géometrie variable). The dream of consumption capitalism is to mold the citizen into a complete, self-regulating (and -regulated) being/object that adapts to new conditions by transforming (as quickly as possible) its features while retaining its systematic structure.

The next step would be the biological transformational cube-boy and -girl as the intrinsic trance of sociobiology.


  1. As an example, see the use made of "formism" by the French sociologist Michel Maffesoli in L'Ombre de Dionysos: contribution á une sociologie de l'orgie (Paris: Librarie des Meridiens, 1985; translation pending in the U.S.).[Back]

  2. Compare with Stephane Mallarmé's "Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard" 'a throw of dice will never eliminate chance' (1842-1898).[Back]

  3. Symbolic function of the toy for the child as indicated, for instance, by Freud with its fort/da example, safety valve and catharsis role from affects to effects (linearity of causes and effects) mimetic function and communication status, etc. Consult also The Body as Medium of Expression (New York: Dutton, 1977), and John Huizinga's Homo Ludens (Boston: Beacon Press, 1950).[Back]

  4. Mechanical precession of an electronic ceremony indexing towards the cyborg-like quality of the brain-mind.[Back]

  5. Terms respectively defined by Jean Baudrillard in La Transparence du Mal (Paris: Galilée, 1990); The Transparency of Evil (London: Verso Press, 1990); and Michel Maffesoli in Le Temps des Tribus (Paris, 1987).[Back]

  6. The new tribalism as defined by the sociologist, Michel Maffesoli.[Back]

  7. Jean Baudrillard, Le Simulacre (Paris: Minuit, 1978).[Back]

  8. Sermons, XXVI, John Donne.[Back]

  9. Jean Baudrillard, La Transparence du Mal.[Back]

  10. "Tel qu'en lui-même enfin l'èternité le change...." Le Tombeau d'Edgar Poe, Stephane Mallarmé.[Back]

  11. Boundary 2, A Journal of Postmodern Literature, State University of Binghamton (1979).[Back]

  12. It is said that an earlier version of the Rubik's Cube, made of wood, had been seen in the '30s in Istanbul and in Marseilles (see Douglas R. Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas, New York: Bantam Books, 1986).[Back]

  13. Jean Baudrillard, America (trans. Chris Turner, New York: Verso, 1980).[Back]

  14. Consider the Banach and Tarski paradox of the small gold sphere.[Back]

  15. Douglas R. Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas (New York: Bantam Books, 1986).[Back]

  16. Idem, 344.[Back]

  17. The Unbearable Lightness of Being.[Back]

  18. See the celibatory machine concept as explained in Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (preface by Michel Foucault), trans. from French (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983); and as illustrated in Michel Carrouges' Les Machines Célibataires (Paris: Editions du Chêne, 1976).[Back]

  19. Automaton, to use the word of Lacan who expanded on Freud's fort/da of the child conjuring up the disappearance of the mother.[Back]

  20. "The mirror-stage is a drama whose internal thrust is precipitated from insufficiency to anticipation--and which manufactures for the subject, caught up in the lure of spatial identification, the succession of phantasies that extends from a fragmented body-image to a form of its totality that I shall call orthopaedic--and lastly, to the assumption of the armour of an alienating identity, which will mark with its rigid structure the subject's entire mental development. This fragmented body...usually manifests itself in dreams when the movement of the analysis encounters a certain level of aggressive disintegration in the individual. It then appears in the form of disjointed limbs, or of those organs represented in exoscopy, growing wings and taking up arms for intestinal persecutions--the very same that the visionary Hieronymus Bosch has fixed, for all time, in painting, in their ascent from the fifteenth century to the imaginary zenith of modern man" (Jacques Lacan, Ecrits, translation (New York: Norton, 1977), 4 & 5.[Back]

[The Montana Professor 1.2, Spring 1991 <http://mtprof.msun.edu>]

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