Another break in my train of thought – another hiatus over the Christmas period that actually owes more to a death than to a birth.
2012 was a great year – it was the year I truly realised how much I am drawn to working across the disciplines in a creative web of theory and practice and how much that relates to why, and how much in itself, I love teaching. It was also the year in which, through my entry with eyes wide open into the world of human suffering and illness, I finally discovered the profundity of my lifetime obsession with identity, and the ‘other’, and the way the two collide. The philosophical and the scientific and the art in 2012 were so very alive, just as were my students who constantly surprised me and gave so much of themselves in their work just because I asked them to. I will miss the ‘life’ classes on the 5th floor because 2012 left me with its head down… my (d)alliance with the Cardiff School of Art came to an end and I was left wondering….
But life, having backflipped yet again, has made its usual recovery and has put me down in Broadway. Broadway in Cardiff that is, at The Broadway Drawing School. I am teaching, drawing, painting, writing and dreaming still, and this time in my own space, in my own time and most especially, on my own terms. Any level of security is now minimal, but strangely, shock brought me to a point where it felt fine to actually shed that blanket and the cold I now feel as a consequence is somehow not as debilitating as the weight of its presence, which became in the end, that of a shroud. I am lighter now.
I am writing – a paper – and I have been thinking….. Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic notion of the ‘mirror stage’ defines the infantile structuring of subjectivity through a fascination for the self-image reflected in a mirror, as an ‘imaginary order’, a deception, a field of images. The age at which this formation of the ego actually occurs disputed is the subject of some dispute but it is immaterial here since it is the ‘alienation’ that Lacan insists is caused by a conflict between our perceived visual experience and our emotional experience of self that is, for me, of interest. The mirror stage defines the understanding of the ‘self’ as essentially a process of objectification that marginalises a more subjective experience of a truer reality of the self in the world, and this resonates with the way that, in terms of human suffering, the very real yet subjective experience of illness is objectified by clinical necessity into a more exclusive focus on the particular disease. The ‘suffering-self’ is therefore again alienated or marginalised in favour of the specific agent of suffering, and in the construction and ‘interrogation’ of the ‘patient-self’, the mirror is one-way.
‘A life lived is what actually happens. A life experienced consists of the images, feelings, sentiments, desires, thoughts and meanings known to the person whose life it is’ Bruner E., M., Anthropology of Experience)