With our jouissance going off track, only the Other is able to mark its position, but only
in so far as we are separated from this Other. Whence certain fantasies – unheard of
before the melting pot… Even if god, thus newly strengthened, should end up ex-sisting,
this bodes nothing better than a return of his baneful past.4
Lacan thus posits a separation, a minimal distance as the necessary condition for the other to provide, through his radical difference, a norm of jouissance. Through his very exclusion, he acts as a foil in defining the semblance of man and woman and the sexual relation. Lacan warns that his proximity, however, is not without destabilizing effects. Especially in light of the actual decentralization of symbolic authority, which before offered a triangulating effect in the subject’s relation with the out-group party. With the faltering of this triangulation, a rise in racism would be one manner to maintain the semblance of norms despite the others proximity.
From the perspective the inculcation of ideals, Freud described how, in the absence of the application of punishment for grave transgressions of civilized morality, and the fall of states and leaders from an illusion of impeccability to a base truth, members of society cease to feel externally obliged to maintain a certain artificial level of civilization. This effect is particularly clear for certain subjects, for whom morality modulates with certain fluidity; in Freudian terms, in a certain lack of internalization of the superego. To this effect, the case of Landru is paradigmatic. Pre-World War I, Landru initially concentrated on his invention of the motorcycle. “He was the first to invent the rational motorcycle. It can be verified, the patent is at the Arts et Métiers. He also created a model of a motor car that he patented in 1899.”5 After an employer defrauded Landru of 1600 francs, Landru abandoned his inventions and began to scam others professionally. Then, once Europe entered into the First World War, Landru seems to have observed that the decree ‘thou shalt not kill’ was no longer valid, and began assassinating widows. This is of course a simplification of the events, but the dates for new criminal activity do correspond with the acts of others, indicating an atrocious causality.
At first glance, the most evident ideals of the rapidly growing narcocultura might seem capitalist in nature: wealth, power, social mobility. Cartel membership offers access to money and power, in a society where for many, the very entry into society – employment, property, protection from abuse – is otherwise closed off. However, this idealization of wealth continues beyond the grave, and in this extension of the idealization beyond death, the death drive appears in a particularly naked manner. At the Gardens of Humaya Cemetery in the city of Culiacán, one finds the mausoleums of many young drug-dealers. Their tombs are elaborately constructed, ornately decorated, and larger than the houses of the majority Mexican citizens. These young men, as the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, choose to be buried with their most prized possessions; there are graves with air-conditioning and cable television. “There are people here who wanted to be buried along with their pickup trucks… There are other tombs with bulletproof glass… Last year they found the head and body of a person, separated. They said it was a gift. A small gift for the dead.”6 So not only material gifts, but human sacrifices as well. In the words of the witness, they are sacrifices to the dead, to peers; yet, one can not help but think the true purpose of these sacrifices is to sway the obscure desire of Mictlantecuhtli7, or perhaps that of the Santa Muerte8. Though worship of the Santa Muerte was relatively hidden until the last century, and despite the Catholic Church’s non-recognition of the folk saint, the number of adherents is skyrocketing in correlation with the soaring number of murders. The obscure god of the dead who demands sacrifices reappears clothed in Mexican culture.
The rise of Jihadi tourism, the US epidemic of mass shootings, as well as Mexico’s multi-front gang war add significant credibility to Eric Laurent’s thesis on the privatization of violence in the 21st century. Moreover, the 2014 Ayotzinapa massacre, specifically the infernal fate of young Julio César Mondragón, resonates horror. Mondragón escaped the police slaughter by assault rifle, only to the only to be found the next day. Only identifiable by his scarf, his eyes had been gouged out and his face flayed. Such an absolute manifestation of hatred was seen in ‘30s France in the Crime of the Sœurs Papin. At that time, Lacan wrote of the apparently motiveless paranoid passage-to-the-act in his 1933 Motives of Paranoiac Crime, “a deed unheard of, so they say, in the annals of crime… Such is the crime of the Papin sisters, through the emotion that it excites and that exceeds its horror and through its value as an atrocious but symbolic image, even in its most hideous details: the most commonplace metaphors of hatred – “I’ll tear her eyes out” – receive their literal execution.”9 Lacan continues, asserting that such events are at or beyond the limits of understanding, or any imagined understanding the other.
Rarely do such metaphors truly come to life. Yet, just as Julio César Mondragon was tortured, half a year later so was Cristopher Raymundo Martinez. A group of teenagers between 11 and 15 invited him to play, then pretended to kidnap him and hold him hostage. They beat and stabbed him to death, and then removed his eyes and part of his face. It is as though, in their passage-to-the-act, they emulated the violence that had been visited on the young normalista by the narcogobierno of Iguala. One might conclude that our jouissance is going off track; that the Other is no longer able to triangulate its position. Despite the shift towards asymmetrical warfare and privatized violence, Freud’s First World War observations on fragility of morality prove frighteningly contemporary. “Whenever the community suspends its reproach the suppression of evil desire also ceases, and men commit acts of cruelty, treason, deception, and brutality, the very possibility of which would have been considered incompatible with their level of culture.”10
1 Edgar Quintero. Buknas de Culiacan. “Sanguinarios del M1”.
With an AK and a bazooka taking aim
blowing off the heads of whoever gets in the way
We are bloodthirsty, crazy on coke
2 Lacan, Seminar XI, , p. 275.
3 Laurent, E. (2014). ‘Racism 2.0’. Lacan Quotidien. tr. by A. Price, 371, 26 January, pp. 1-6.
4 Lacan, J. (1973). ‘Television’, tr. D. Hollier, R. Krauss, & A. Michelson, in Television/A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment, Norton & Co., New York, p. 32.
5 Biagi-Chai, F. (2012). Serial Killer: Psychiatry, Criminology, Responsibility. Routledge : New York. pp. 31.
6 Schwarz, S. Narcocultura. 2013.
7 “Lord of the underworld”, the Aztec god of the dead.
8 Nuestra señora de la Santa Muerte, Spanish for ‘Our Mother the Holy Death’, is a female folk saint representing death. This personification is thought to provide protection and safe-passage to the afterlife. Fragoso, P. (2011). “De la ‘calavera domada’ a la subversión santificada. La Santa Muerte, un nuevo imaginario religioso en México”. El Cotidiano. UAM Azcapotzalco. 169. pp. 5-16. http://www.sinembargo.mx
9 Lacan, J. (1933). “Motifs du crime paranoïaque : le crime des soeurs Papin”. Minotaure. n°3/4.
10 Freud, S. (1915). “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death.” New York: Moffat, Yard & Co.