Body; Gaze, Shame and Counter Gaze

Image Source: The Lacanian Reviewa

The metaphysics of presence is also a metaphysic of gaze. The metaphysics of presence claims the original privilege of self-transparency and plunges into immediacy. As we circum ourselves to the metaphysics of presence, our being-in-the-world comes under its gaze and we become presence-centric in all our thinking and being. Perhaps, we might trace intertwined entangling space between Derrida, Foucault and Lacan. Indeed, the metaphysics of presence holds its sway over us by becoming a gaze in both Foucaultian as well as Lacanian sense. The Lacanian mirror stage can also open us to the process of how we become enslaved to the deception of the metaphysics of presence. The gaze into the mirror as well as the gaze of the mirror leads to the imaginary presence of the constitution of the Ego. The mirror multiplies into the infant’s voice as well as the voice of the caregivers, like the mOther (acoustic mirror). This means the image that a child views (gaze) in those mirrors becomes the umbilical cord that shapes much of the early fate of the child. The delusion of the metaphysic of presence influences humans in the very constructions of one’s core identity which is ultimately a lacking self. There is something in the self that cannot be presentified (the Real of Lacan). It is this that makes the self a lacking self. This lack in the self is the raison d’être of human dynamism as-beings-in-the-world. Yet even as a lacking self, we cannot get out of the metaphysic of presence because the subject, though the master signifier, still remains largely Phallogocentric. Hence, perhaps the Deleusian insight of riding of desire might open ways of allowing a counter gaze that might enable us to resist the power of logo-centric gaze.

This paper attempts to dismantle the power of the gaze (a form of metaphysic of presence) over us and propose to bring about a counter gaze that can help resist the crippling effects of gaze. We begin our journey are with a kind of genealogy of gaze and scrutinize the relational dynamism of the Gaze, self and its other,

The Birth of Gaze

The gaze cannot be simply subjectivized. It is not as if we are gazed upon by a big brother. In fact, we are dealing with an empty, apriori gaze. It is a point that ruptures our visual field. It is a point that returns the gaze. It is this object that returns our gaze that becomes the possibility of our seeing anything at all. Though Lacan did not use the word gaze in his mirror stage essay, we can try to anticipate his latter treatment of the same in our study because it allows us to link the gaze, ego and the body right from the time of our infancy. This approach can further assist us to understand how gaze triggers desire which paradoxically can never be fulfilled. This is because the subject cannot completely comprehend the gaze. Gaze is a lost object that the subject never really had. Hence, there is nothing to recover. This is why desire can never really be fulfilled. Besides, the gaze is not just visual. It is auditory and sensual. Hence, we shall consider the relation of gaze and voice.

The Gaze of the Mirror

Lacans’s essay on “the Mirror stage as formative of I function, as revealed in the Psycho-analytic experience” delivered in 1949.1 Lacan brings the close ties between the gaze and the body and the formation of ego in that essay. He argues that the first sense of ego emerges in an infant by looking into the mirror and relating it to its body between the sixth and eighteenth month. The child’s experience of rupture of having a fragmented body leads to a sense of mastery by way of the mirror. It is the mirror that disrupts the gaze of the child and returns it bestowing an illusionary sense of mastery over its fragmented body.2 It is an illusion or fantasy because wholeness of the body is felt in a way that is not experienced. This is certainly a misrecognition of the Image as real since it involves a sense of mastery over the body which the child does not enjoy.3 The sense of lack that child feels as a subject leads to the formation of the ego. In a way the return of the gaze via mirror dupes the child into not seeing into what is missing in it and its world experience. Thus, the mirror stage effectuates what Lacan has christened as the Imaginary. The imaginary is at once both visual and illusionary. Lacan teaches imaginary works to conceal the functioning of other categories that constitutes our experience that he calls Symbolic order and the Real. The imaginary belongs to the order of what we see (the world of Gaze), the symbolic order is the one that supports and regulates the visible world. This means the symbolic belongs to the realm of language and as such structures our experience and our identities. A person experiences being thrown in a symbolic order and becomes subjected to it but feels that h/she is reaching an actualization in the identities/ subject positions given by it. Though there is never a complete realization of the same, this gap is hidden by the sense of ego that he/she derives through the functioning of the imaginary. Thus, hiding the incompleteness of the symbolic order, the imaginary also hides what Lacan calls the real. We might understand how the minorities in our country are pushed by a sense of being not Indian enough to become (h)Indians by joining the symbolic order of the majority. The same is true about narrow exclusionary nationalism which is also a reactive response to the symbolic order of the colonizer. This is how the self/ ego covers its sense of lack and nullity and feels a self presence which remains within the logo-centric underpinnings of the metaphysic of presence indicated by Derrida.

The Gaze as a objet petit a (object cause of desire)

Lacan presents the gaze as a point of disruption, a lacuna in the field of vision. It is not the look of the seemingly omnipotent look of the subject at the object but the gap at which the desire manifests itself in what we see. The desire distorts the field of vision. Gaze is an object petit a4 of a scopic drive. It is the drive that motivates us to look. Petit object a in Lacan is always a lost object, an object from which the subject marks its distance and emerges as a desiring subject.5 It is the loss of the object that triggers the process of recovery that desires it. The loss becomes the basis of desire. This in turn reinforces the subject as a lacking self because it does not have the object and the object only exists so far it is missing. The object is the object cause of the desire and not the desired object. Thus, it induces a chain of actions that seek the object of desire that may indeed obtain some object of desire but the object petit a is lacking any substantial status and remains unattainable. This means it does not exist prior to it being lost. It is this object petit a that compels the subject to look because it offers h/her to see the unseen or to reverse the side of the visible. It promises to allow the subject to peep into the secret of the other but paradoxically the secret exists insofar it is remains hidden. Thus, the point of disruption that we have considered here becomes for Lacan the point at which the subject gets involved with the object of gaze and actively distorts the field of the visible in pursuit of the desire that is triggered there off indicating a complete loss of mastery on the part of the subject. Thus, gaze becomes a point where the subject losses his subjective privilege and becomes subjected to and embodied in the object. The imagination produces an illusionary sense of mastery in the subject but the gaze being an encounter with the real cannot offer anything resembling mastery. From our Indian experience, the gaze of the colonizer is still affecting us. The colonial gaze has disrupts the angle of our vision and we can trace how in the context of an apparent cultural, religious and political superiority of colonizer led us (continues to lead us) to become clones or mimic men of the colonizers. Hence, we have edited versions of colonizers who seek to assert a singularized version of culture and pose it as the pure Indian culture, the unification of various religious indic cults and sects under the banner of Hinduism in the 19th century, and even the singularization of one holy book the Bhagvad Gita in the 19th century from the number of other prospective books that can also be regarded as holy books. Hence, the real India and its culture and religions continue to be a lost object of desire.

Gaze and Voice

Besides the gaze, Lacan takes up voice and places it along Freud’s ‘partial objects’ like the breast, phallus and faeces. These partial objects are not on the side of the looking/hearing subject but are on the side of what the subject sees and hears. Lancan teaches that when we are talking of it, it is an answer to the primordial address by the other. It is as if we are already addressed but paradoxically the address is vacuous. We cannot locate the addresser. The addresser remains a blank, empty apriori , formal condition of possibility of speaking . Just like the object returning a gaze becomes the formal condition of seeing anything at all. Thus, in our every experience, we exclude what Lacan calls petit object a and enter into what we believe to be a normal way of living as humans. This means for a normal access to reality something must be primordially repressed and excluded.6 In some way we are condemned to be logo-centric. Like the object of gaze is a blind spot within the gaze so to the object of voice is silence within the field of the audible. We can only speak in a silent vacuum. But this silence has to be silentified in order that we speak and be heard. This does not mean that silence is a ground from where the voice emerges but on the contrary the reverberating sound itself renders visible the figure of silence. We can hear the voice with our eyes. When we look at the painting of the screaming women in distress, we seem to hear the scream .The figure of silence speaks. Lacan teaches that the moment we enter the symbolic order, there emerges an unbridgeable gap between the body and ‘its’ voice. He teaches that the voice acquires a spectral autonomy and never really belongs to it. It is as if the speaker’s own voice hollows h/er out and in a sense speaks by itself through h/er. Moreover, this points at the gap in the visible, towards the aspect of what eludes our gaze. That is why Zizek says, ‘ultimately we hear things because we cannot see everything.’7 We must further say that we hear what we cannot see as well as see what we cannot hear (as in the case of the picture of a screaming woman in distress). Hence, in the very hearing of oneself speaking and seeing oneself as looking, the gaze returns as a self mirroring reflection to the immediacy of the vocal self affection. Thus, the gaze makes us see in the mode of hearing.8 It is at this point the logo-centric metaphysics breaks down.9 This is so because the primacy of seeing is derailed but we are into the mediation of the voice, the age of phono-centrism and still another spiral of metaphysics of presence.

Gaze and Self and its Other

We have already considered how the subject’s imaginary identity lies literally outside of h/erself. The ego in this sense cannot be identified with the subject. The encounter with the other, particularly the primary caregivers like the mOther becomes the mirror that leads the infant to imagine a kind of a mastery over a fragmented experience of its body. This mirror experience continuously and indefinitely influences the subject due to the relationships of the self with its other.

The Intimate Other

Lacan teaches that ego is related to the subject but cannot be identified with the subject. It is a necessary function of the imagination of the subject. This means the subject’s imaginary identity lies literary outside of itself. The ego lies outside what is generally thought to be self-contained identity of the ego. The ego is eccentric. It is the subject’s imaginary identity. In fact ego emerges as a splitting and alienating identification of the image in the mirror which the self mistakes to be itself. This identification is not an imitative relationship of a pre-existing ego. In fact, the ego comes into being only because the image irremediably traps the subject. That is why the ego becomes the most intimate Other of the self. This means the ego is the primary Other in which the self identifies itself. We have already studied the original alienating (mis)identification when we discussed the mirror stage. The mirror stage establishes the basis for the psychic journey of the subject for its several successive imaginary identifications. Therefore, we might say that at any given point in time the ego is nothing but a sum total of the (mis)identifications. Hence, due to the alienating psychic dynamism, we might understand why Ashish Nandy calls it, the most intimate enemy.10 The subject jubilantly (mis)identifies itself in the otherness of the specular image. In doing so, the subject undergoes a redoubling. On one hand it objectifies itself in the mirror image and on the other hand identifies itself with the imaginary other without recognizing the Other as other. This means ego finds itself at the place of the other and fails to recognize its own alienation from the self. In some way ego lives what Descartes viewed as madness. That is, madness consists in believing oneself to be other than what one is.11 Thus, in some way, it builds a permanent rivalry of the narcissistic images created by the lure of the mirror with the subject. Within our country we can trace how a majority community was born through the mirror image under colonization and steadily Indians became what might be called (h)Indians. This migration of self into an imagined (h)india lays a demand on the minorities to join the new symbolic order of (h)india.

The Gaze of the Signifier

Words have great power over us. It is as if words condense the power of Gaze. Words have a performative power. They bring into being what they signify. Words affect the way of our being in the world. The symbolic horizon evoked by the words determines our life and being in the world. The world of words determines our inter-subjective roles. It pushes us to identify with the fore-closed symbolic order(s). It is this symbolic order(s) that embed the inter-subjective circuit. The signifier belongs to the body of images. But when the image acquires interlace of relations with other images, it produces semantic resonance which takes us into the symbolic register. Within the symbolic register, it is the speech itself that speaks in and through us. Hence, we become a speaking body and the one spoken to. The speaking and the spoken to dimensions of our body is based in the libidinal (Jouissance) drive. This means the empire of the signifier is grounded in the experience of Jouissance. The speaking body is also a spoken body. Lacan situated these dynamic roots of speaking and the spoken body in the unconscious. This takes us to gaze at the unconscious which interlaces and controls the life and being of the speaking and spoken body. In fact, Lacan views the body as an image that emerges at the mirror stage wherein jouissance is injected in the Body. It is this playful identification of the mirror image while the body is still trapped in its motor impotence that gives an impression of unity from outside. This image (signifier) acquires in the symbolic register the function of signifying. Hence, the body gets trapped and exists in the body of images that relates as a complex system of signification.12 In some ways we are born into the gaze of the signifiers. Our bodies are trapped into a body of images (signifiers) and their signifying dynamism. Lacan further teaches that signifying dynamism becomes the very stuff of symptom that torments us.13

Unconscious as the Discourse of the Other

With the death of the Cartesian subject, the subject with a substantively rational inner world was deconstructed. This opens us to think that the subject is not primarily what is within but what is without. This takes us not to the question ‘who I am’ but ‘where I am’. This means the subject or the self is de-centred and eccentric. The subject is elsewhere. Hence, it is not ‘I think therefore I am’ but it is that ‘it thinks there I am’. The subject is constantly displaced by thinking about it. Therefore, we have to agree ‘I think where I am not’ or ‘I am where I think not’.14 Hence, there is an It with respect to I. This is the unconscious. It is an occult I. Lacan teaches that this considered unconscious is structured like a language. It is said to come into existence with the person’s insertion into the symbolic order. It in some way impels and impacts the self. Lacan further, teaches that the unconscious is the discourse of the Other but the other does not exist. Lacan establishes the radical exteriority of the unconscious. It is produced as a gap that opens up between nature and culture. The subject occurs at the moment of non-recognition. When one stops to think, one loses hold over one’s being. Lacan places Cogito between thought and being. The cogito is the unconscious. Descartes had substantialized the cogito as res cogitans. Cogito thinks but it cannot be followed by an ‘I am’ of Descartes. Lacanian Cogito thinks but loses hold on the being. Cogito becomes a forced choice between thought and being. It is in the place of loss, the loss of being. The subject is then located in the gap. One cannot choose oneself as a subject. One can only remain a subject by holding on to something else, a positive element of sense which paradoxically entails the disappearance of the subject. The cogito is structured by the unconscious and the unconscious is structured as language. This means the unconscious is discursive. The unconscious thus can be viewed as the gaze of the discourse of the Other. Following Heideggerian view, Lacan posits that language is the house of being but is the torture house of being.15 The trauma comes from the fact that the Lacanian subject does not fit the language. Hence he says ‘the letter kills the body’. That is why he confronts us with the reality which resists language. Thus, he moves beyond the horizon of language which otherwise is thought to limit the horizon of being.

Gaze, Haunting and Self

Gaze has a haunting dimension. Often the signification systems particularly meaning embedded in a painful past slides, slips, and is distorted and digressed. Such a past can become part of the symbolic order that sometimes returns to haunt the self of another generation who has little or nothing to do with that past or the signification system. The capacity of the past or a signification system to be affected and affect us can be viewed as a gaze that operates on our embodied life.

The Gaze of Cryptonymy

Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok state that language is perceived as a system of expressive traces. These expressive traces can generate a catastrophe that can initiate a process of repression on words. This is called cryptonymy which inhibits the generation of meaning by concealing a segment of associative path that normally lets one to freely move from one element to another in a verbal chain.16 Thus crytonymy operated as a gaze that disinvests meaning (signifier) from a signified. This hollowing of the word is done through the process of encrypting. This brings us to Lancan’s notion of the subject which is marked by an indelible lack in being and as such is linguistically rendered as irreducible separation or barrier between a progressive chain of interlocking signifiers and stable meanings (signified).17 Crytonymy admits the progressive dynamism of the chain of signifiers but focuses on the obstruction or the barrier that serves to separate the chain of signifiers from their potential meanings (signified). What is obstructed in cryptonymy is not meaning but a situation whose interpretation precisely depends on its very resistance to meaning. As a situation or condition cryptonym provides hidden cohesiveness to the self. The crypt is a locked topographical space, with neither a dynamic unconscious nor ego of introjections. Indeed, it is an enclave between the two, a kind of artificial unconscious.18 That means, it allows us to understand how the gaze of obstruction operates and separates the chain of signifiers from the potential signified. That is, a disruption of significatory chain opens up the trauma that breaks the potential links with the signifier. This allows the self to slip into a mask and become faceless. Perhaps, ‘who’ in the word Hindu obstructs its inclusive embrace by all Indians can itself become a point to understand how a traumatic past suppresses and constrains its meaning, while at the same time, one can notice some of our people encrypt an identity into it. Hence, by genealogizing it, we can deconstruct it and manifest that it is not original. That is why Hindu as a subject will always remain haunted by the unhomeliness of the term Hindu because it is striving to reclaim a past that it does not own. Hence, the unspeakable secrets are already put into words that reveal, exorcise and expel.

Transgenerational Haunting Gaze

There is Gaze that operates in the summoning of the past. This Gaze of the past can live as a haunting presence in our present which seeks to possess the self. The spectral presence of this transgenerational haunting Gaze can be viewed with Lacanian notion of the unconscious as the discourse of the other. The spectral presence of the transgenerational haunting gaze becomes more intense when the historical mirror is viewed as cracked. Perhaps, Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok’s work might illuminate what is a transgenerational haunting gaze that is under our consideration over here. Abraham and Torok mark the distinctions between the psychoanalytical terms like introjections, incorporation to manifest transgenerational haunting. Introjections and incorporation is viewed by them in terms of psychodynamics of loss and its aftermath. They present introjections as a successful steady psychical assimilation of something lost and view incorporation is a form of swallowing whole of something lost. They caution us that it may appear to be assimilated but would burst through symptoms in language; this means in principle it can be carried from one generation to another, resulting in being haunted by a secret once incorporated. These incorporations of losses can irritate and disrupt our life when precipitating historical conditions that may provide a stimulus for their emergence.19 Thus, in the context of colonialism, we might trace how some colonial ideals apparently available but not actually unavailable to the colonized people are mourned as loss of an ideal. The trace of such incorporation is important for any understanding of the present and the future because of the present that haunts.20 The psychic effects of concealment and the unspoken past refuse to ossify in the past but remain ever-present to the presentness of the people haunting them. Haunting is a symptom of trauma whose cause cannot be represented by language in a linear temporal narratology. In fact the trauma of the past gets transmitted through the cultural embeddedness to which we are condemned. The haunting gaze instigates verbal stirrings of the secrets and burdens of the past just allowing a glimpse at them through the redeeming act of narration.

Gaze of Postmemory

The painful memories of the past come to haunt us in the present. Often the past that haunts us is not merely temporally represented to us but becomes spatially alive to us. The painful past registers itself through geographical and psychological touchstones. Painful past travels through disrupted geographies like break-down of the Babri Masjids or the temple in Goa. The landscape of the holocaust or Gujarat Carnage refuses to shed off its geographical trace. But there are complexities to these events. One side of the disruptive events of the past were attempts to erase rather than commemorate a particular traumatic past. Most of these traumatic geographies evoke complex memories of both triumph and loss. Hence, what becomes a memory of triumph for one becomes counter memory for the other. The painful traumatic memories migrate and multiply by registering themselves in writings of history, literature, building of monuments, photography, films, paintings etc. Somehow everyone has to deal with the after effects of traumatic past even if one is born into a later era. The complexity of the intergenerational transmission of trauma requires representations in narrative and images that are profoundly geographical and produce divergent iterations of our relationship with the past. Within this haunting of spatially laden memories, we have to understand what is described as postmemory Marrianne Hirsch. Hirsch christens the relationship that a generation after those who witnessed cultural or collective trauma bears to the experiences of those who came before that access, only by means of stories, images and behaviours among which they grew up. Hence, postmemories do afflict and affect us like a gaze that changes the angle of our vision and leads our thought, feeling and action.21

Gaze, Shame, Body and counter Gaze

The experience of our body is not merely physical. There is a profound phenomenological experience of the Body. Body can be experienced on different registers. We have an experience of the body as erotic, beautiful, casteiest, racial, and political besides the predominant biological one. Body therefore, pre-exists as well as created. Indeed, all these various dimensions interlace each other depending on the dominant gaze that is operative on ourselves. Hence, this interlocked experience can produce a self consciousness (internalized gaze) ranging from triumph on one hand to guilt and shame on the other. Bodily practices are diverse and embedded in the gaze of politico-socio-religious and economic-scientific cultures. We seem to be living in Schizo bodies.

Gaze, Shame and the Self

The frailty of our bodies makes us feel that our bodies are broken. Bodies seem to be emptied and imperfect. We seem to hollow the body and treat it as a body without organs. Thus, a masochist body cannot be populated by anything but intensities of waves of pain. This means a masochist is seeking a body that only pain can fill. Same is true of a drugged body which seeks to feel it with pleasure. Thus, we have diverse body practices that seek to experience a body without organs. But these Schizo practices paradoxically indeed of filling the bodies end up emptying them. The casteist body, the racialized bodies arise from schizolizes (body practices ) that wish for a body without organs. The body without organs is constructed in such a way that it can be occupied and populated by intensities, which are circulated and come to pass. These intensities circulate in spatium that does not have extension. Body without organs is the field of immanence of desire.22 The immanent field of desire is not internal to the self. The self is flowing in a schizophrenic process of desire that produces all that is egoic and heroic in humans. Schizolysis assist us to dismantle the gaze of the yoke of oedipus. It breaks the oedipalization of the body. It deterritorializes the body. The yoke of oedipus was a resolution of the original shame. Shame is scopic. It draws us to close our eyes as well as escape the gaze of society. The final self blinding of Odipus in shame also indicates the scopic nature of shame. But falling away from the symbolic order, the oedipal economy brings in a gaze of the law of father triggering shame and the need to run away from that gaze. Jean Paul Satre also construes the shaming dimension of Gaze. The voyeur looking through the keyhole disturbs the person objectified by the gaze and overwhelms him with the feeling of shame. Schizolysis becomes a counter gaze since it no longer views subject as a lacking subject and also does not construe desire as drive to acquire the lacking object. Desire thus, becomes a process of constant becoming as well as opening to infinite possibilities. This means desire flux that overcomes barriers and codes (symbolic orders). Desire is a name that does not designate any ego. Desire thus is liberated from the lacking subject and the object of lack. In this context therefore, desire never stops. It never territorialized. Thus, it de-odipalizes the self. , The self that does not have a closed, fixed or stable identity but one that stays metamorphosed in the flow of desire. This means the self stays in constant process of becoming.23

Desire for a Body Without Organs

Deleuze and Guttari’s view of desire as production becomes a great resource to develop a counter gaze. The Deleuzian body is often ordered according to the order of things (symbolic order) reigning in a particular society. The boundaries of our bodies are set by these orders of things. This means our bodies are bounded by the territorialisation emerging from the order of things in our society. Hence, the bodies are ordered as pure, impure, sattvic, tamasic or rajasic, based on the brahmanical order reigning in our society. This symbolic order has a rigid hierarchy inscribed in it and as such produces an effect of shame that afflicts those who are pushed to the lower side. Desire when viewed as production becomes unbound and cannot bind our bodies to the order of things. It can deterritorialized our bodies from the bondage of the order of things and thus operate as counter gaze. Hence, the desire to become a body without organs deconstructs the monoliths imposed by the specific symbolic orders embedded in different cultures.24 All bodies experience affects and have the power to affect. Hence, counter gaze flowing from this view can territoriale bodies in other symbolic orders and thus, become salubrious to our embodied existence. The counter gaze of desire frees us from being prisoners of the configuration of the oppressive symbolic orders of our society. Though desire somehow assembles (territorialism) into a dynamic stabilization. These stabilizations always remain in flux, always coming together and moving apart. It is these possibilities of deterritorialization and reterritorialization that allow us to ride our desire and deconstruct the waves of symbolic orders that constrict and restrain our embodied life. Thus, it is possible to contest and dismantle the symbolic order that racializes, outcasts and inferiorized our bodily existence.

Riding the Wave of Desire as a Counter Gaze

The Deleuzian and Guttarian notion of the subject that continuously becomes a radical counter gaze that can resist the gaze of the order of things/ symbolic orders that otherwise bring about a process of subjectivation. We are not merely tossed and structured by the (m)Other , our tradition and culture with which we share a dynamic relationship . We do not simply fit in the mould of our society. We are in the constant process of crossing our own spatio-temporal boundaries (deterritorialization). Deleuze teaches that this process can be psychologically put as becoming the other in the process of individuation. This means we do not have any stable pre-existent identity. Our identity is constructed in the dynamic process of individuation. The individuation is dialogical and is always populated by the order of things in our society. The process of individuation is in constant dialogue with the structure of the order of things in our society and is artistic and creative and may bring about a metaphoric death of the subject, which becomes the condition of possibility of becoming other than the present self. Deleuze and Guttari introduce their notion of the rizomatics as a process of forging multiple connective lines thereby constituting what he calls the immanent plane of consistency. This means that the Deleuzian subject is in a constant process of becoming-other. Hence, the anti-oedipus in the subject rises beyond the closed boundaries of the symbolic order and desires to become a body without organs.25 Thus, the notion of self comes very close to the dynamic notion of non-self in Buddhism. Allowing the subject to think through reason and affect can enable the self to resist the gaze of the symbolic order(s) and lead us to carve out transformative and liberative identities. This allows us to deterritorialized several symbolic order (s) and allow us to create self validating and egalitarian planes of consistencies that can challenge the caste, creed, gender and other fanatic identities.


No one can live without being under a gaze. The gaze in several ways shapes our embodied lives. Body is an object of gaze and is affected profoundly by it. But our bodies have the capacity to affect and return the gaze as a counter gaze. Gaze can bring us to shame and counter gaze can redeem us from oppression and exploitation. As Indian Christian thinkers, we are challenged to allow the counter gaze of Indian-ness and Christian-ness influence our thinking and being in our society.


  1. Jacques Lacan, Encrits , trans. Bruce Fink et al (New York: W. W Norton, 2006), pp. 75-81.
  2. Ibid, p. 76.
  3. Ibid, p. 80.
  4. ‘ a’ here stands for autre/ other that was developed by Freud and Lacan’s own exploration of the other. Petit object differentiates from the grandmother.
  5. Jacques Lacan, Erratum of the four fundamental concepts of Psychoanalysis, Ed. Jacques-Alian Miller. Trans. Alan Sheridhan ( New York: W.W Norton, 1998), p. 83.-90.
  6. See slavoj Zizek,” ‘I hear you with my eyes’ or the Invisible Master”, Renata Salael and Salvoj Zizek, eds., Gaze and Voice as Love Objects ( London: Duke University Press, 19 96) p. 91.
  7. See Ibid, p. 93.
  8. See Ibid, p. 95.
  9. See Ibid, p. 94.
  10. Ashish Nanady, Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonization (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983).
  11. Lorenzo Chiesa, subjectivity and otherness: A Philosophical reading of Lacan (London : the MIT Press, 2007), p. 16.
  12. Link accessed on 12/08/2015
  13. Darwin Leader and Judy Groves, Introducing Lacan, Graphic Guide( London: Icon Books, 1995), pp. 36-37.
  14. Link accessed on 3/ September/2016.
  15. The symbolic order houses the law that regulates desire ( Oedipus complex), and lack, conscience, morality, religion. Within this view, the unconscious also becomes unstable and non-substantive. Unconscious is not a place holder of repressions but a dynamic relation of the self to the social world (symbolic order) of law, morality, religion and conscious.
  16. Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok, The Wolf Man’s Magic Word: A Cryptonym, trans. Nicholas Rand, Theory and History of literature, Vol. 37 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota), p. Lix
  17. Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok, The Wolf Man’s Magic Word: A Cryptonym, p. Lx.
  18. Jacques Derrida, “Forward” in Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok, The Wolf Man’s Magic Word: A Cryptonym, trans. Nicholas Rand), p. Xiii.
  19. Link accessed on 3rd /Sept/ 2015.
  20. Ranajana Khana , Dark Continents: Psychoanalysis and Colonialism (Durham N C: Duke university press, 2004)p. 295
  21. Brett Ashley Kaplan, Landescapes of Holocaust PostMemory (New York : Rutledge, 2011), p. 5.
  22. Link accessed on 22/08/2015.
  23. Link accessed on 25/08/2015.
  24. Dani Cavallaro, The Body: For Beginners (Chennai: Orient Longman, 1998), pp. 162-164.
  25. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guttari, Ant-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Trans. Robert Hurley et al (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2000).

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao