Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Three Levels x 2

When I find myself inhabiting a 3-story building, I cannot resist mapping the building’s stories onto Freud’s triad as well as Lacan’s.

In this case, Valders Hall of Science has three stories. In the basement, where Id is constructed and hangs out, there are the physics labs, closed and locked doors assigned to individual professors who push around fundamental particles.

On the main floor, classrooms and study areas, the physics department proper, and cabinets of taxidermied nonhumans, the preservative chemicals of which whisper gently to the olfactory organ when you pass by them and their glass eyeballs. In Hitchcock’s Psycho, the taxidermied animals were aside from the home structure, in the office of the motel—here the Biology department is in the attached new building. When I walk past the cases of dead nonhumans, I consider why they are installed at the level of the Ego. This is largely how we move as objects through the world of objects, imagining those other objects as not quite so privileged as we are, yet we are compelled to observe them—they dazzle us gradually as Emily Dickinson, the em-dash mistress—put it. The world is a group of specimens behind a glass screen. This is the balanced ego alive.

Upstairs: Psychology and Environmental Studies. My office is here at the level of Superego. Ecology making its meaningless demands and the psyche striving to make meaning of the meaningless and meaninglessness.

In the Lacanian register, I suppose the particle physics basement is the Imaginary, the main floor of class rooms and communal study areas is the Symbolic where we socially transform the Imaginary into the Symbolic. And up here in Psych and Environmental Studies, we wrestle with the Real, that unrepresentable remainder.

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