Fantastic Politics: Subversion, Symbolic Order, and Exit Strategy

I feel this in my visual art.. I reject “realism,” and am equally unsatisfied with pure abstraction. I find I’m always searching for something else, something between, something lost and becoming in the fragments of this broken world.

This speaks to my preference for the city in my art. The natural world untouched by humans has no need of me. It’s the cage we have made of our symbolic order, of the political, social and economic machines it supports,  that I feel impelled to shatter and reassemble. The beauty I see in the wilderness, I can enjoy and leave as it is. There’s no need for me to “make art” of it. But I can’t so much as open the door to the street where I live, but that I want to take it apart–to re-imagine it, to find what is hidden there and yet to be.

“The fantastic is not an escape from reality, but an opening up of new realities, of new forms of social, political, and visionary modes of being toward reality. Reality is not a cage for thought and feeling, not a prison house within which the rich and powerful can command and control the feedback loops of some industrial mediatainment complex and thereby the vast populations of the world. No. The fantastic is about subverting these vast systems of power and control that seek to keep us ignorant and asleep in a world of consumption, slaves to our desires for more and more and more. ”

 

alien ecologies

Building on Lacan and others Rosemary Jackson in Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion will express the underlying truths of our fractured age of anxiety and dissolution. She’ll read in the fantastic works of literature the strange paths taken by singular individuals seeking a way out of the straight-jacket of our false symbolic order, our civilization’s global hell:

Literary fantasies from Sade onwards are driven by precisely this kind of restless dissatisfaction. They express a desire for the imaginary, for that which has not yet been caught and confined by a symbolic order, yet the self-mutilation, cruelty, horror and violence which they have to employ to re-turn to the imaginary suggests its inaccessibility. Their awareness of the problem of representing the ‘real’ draws attention to the relation of signifying practices to that order and its constitution, for with the removal of a fixed notion of ‘character’, the problem of fictional representation is…

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