Sunday, 27 November 2011 13:05

Beyond the Anguish of Impossibility

It is impossible to communicate the anguish of impossibility, even though—or because—it is the central axis of what we quaintly, if unaquaintedly, refer to as reality. Coming to understand the nature of impossibility is the essence of education. This is no doubt why Freud said that education is one of the three impossible professions. The other two are governing and conducting a psychoanalysis. Freud’s successor Lacan went further, and recognized that the anguish that brings someone to psychoanalysis is nothing but the impossibility of love, for which there is no cure. He affirmed that impossibility in his famous apothegm, “il n'y a pas de rapport sexuel” (there is no sexual relation).

But such assertions of the existence of specific dimensions of impossibility evade the radical ubiquity of impossibility as the hallmark of existence tout court. Impossibility is always and everywhere. There is no relation of any kind—not just sexual. Even friendships are based on illusion. No colleagues are really in the same league. Our words are riddled with ambiguities, our desires with unconscious conflicts and counter-desires. Our identities are inauthentic. We are imitations of imitations. Finding oneself is impossible. Discovering truth is impossible. There is no credible knowledge. No scientific theory lasts for very long (although its lifespan can be prolonged by being turned into an ideological given; in other words, a religious belief, as has happened with Darwinism—which cannot explain a long list of scientific observations, ranging from the Cambrian explosion to the fact of eco-systems to the irreducible complexity of even the most apparently simple microbiological structure). The impossibility of understanding the world or each other or oneself is at least useful in deflating the arrogance and grandiosity of the narcissistic ego. Unfortunately, narcissists can easily remain in denial of their own impossibility for a long time, until karma catches up with them.
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