Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Déjà Vu and Lacan...

When I think of déjà vu, the Real concept by Jacques Lacan comes to mind. The psychological term means to have the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time. The only word that needs further defining to understand this definition is 'illusion'; something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality. When we experience a misleading impression of reality that presents itself as an experience we have already lived, although we are experiencing it for the first time, we are experiencing déjà vu.

I pulled this definition of the Real concept by Jacques Lacan from the CLA Purdue website;
"The state of nature from which we have been forever severed by our entrance into language. Only as neo-natal children were we close to this state of nature, a state in which there is nothing but need. A baby needs and seeks to satisfy those needs with no sense for any separation between itself and the external world or the world of others. For this reason, Lacan sometimes represents this state of nature as a time of fullness or completeness that is subsequently lost through the entrance into language. The primordial animal need for copulation (for example, when animals are in heat) similarly corresponds to this state of nature. There is a need followed by a search for satisfaction. As far as humans are concerned, however, "the real is impossible," as Lacan was fond of saying. It is impossible in so far as we cannot express it in language because the very entrance into language marks our irrevocable separation from the real. Still, the real continues to exert its influence throughout our adult lives since it is the rock against which all our fantasies and linguistic structures ultimately fail. The real for example continues to erupt whenever we are made to acknowledge the materiality of our existence, an acknowledgement that is usually perceived as traumatic (since it threatens our very "reality"), although it also drives Lacan's sense of jouissance. The Real works in tension with the imaginary order and the symbolic order."
I experience a moment of déjà vu every once and a while. My moments of déjà vu are always similar to a dream I have had previously, though I don’t know that I have dreamed of it until it happens. When I wake up, I often cannot remember the concept of the dream, but I can remember that I have dreamed. I am usually speaking when it happens, and as I speak, I get this tingling feeling in the back of my head. I begin to think of a dream that I have had. As the situation unfolds before me, I am no longer speaking. I have finished what I have said, and my moment of déjà vu is always when someone else is talking, or when nothing is happening. I can feel it coming. The tingling grows as the fast-lived scene happens and I can remember the dream and it is exactly like the moment I am seeing.

The part about this that makes me think of Lacan, is the fact that I am never speaking when déjà vu happens to me. I cannot speak; I am dumb struck as I sit and watch. I feel almost as though I am watching the scene outside of my own body. It feels unreal. I sometimes can't even speak after the fact for a few moments because what I have experienced is so unnerving. I am expressionless. I am speechless. 

I learned of Lacan’s concept in a literary analysis class where we connected our texts to different theories. I understood Lacan’s concept of the Real as that we do not live in the Real. We spend a very minute amount of time in the Real. We spent a great deal of our time in two different stages; the Imaginary and the Symbolic. Those two stages are not important here, though these are the stages we primarily live in.

I digress. We do not spend much time in the Real, and the Real is understood to be moments separate from words. It is understood that we cannot equate words to our experience of the Real. The Real moments are when we experience extreme pain, or pleasure, or shock. When we burn our hand or we experience extreme bodily pleasure, we do not form coherent words. Lacan’s concept says that “we cannot express it in language, because the very entrance into language marks our irrevocable separation from the [R]eal.” I understand that déjà vu is a moment that we experience in the Real, and these moments of the Real are not regularly attainable. We cannot force these moments. 

Do you ever experience déjà vu? Do you realize you are experiencing it? What are some experiences you have had with the Real? 

As always, thank you for reading. Leave your thoughts and responses in the comments. Happy blogging my friends. 

<http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/psychoanalysis/definitions/real.html> (Here is the link to the full definition of the Real.)

Why I use this approach...

When people are trying to get an idea out of their head, whether they be writers, readers or students, they try many different things. Some do free writing. I find that when I am writing fictional pieces, this is the most beneficial. Others do listing or mapping and neither of these have ever really worked for me.  

Today, I had to write another critical engagement essay for my film class. I knew I was going to do my essay on Band of Outsiders, but I had no idea on what. I was stuck. I watched the movie, twice, but sitting there, watching this movie that didn't make any sense to me, I couldn't think of the slightest thing to write this paper on. 

When I am stuck, I don't use free writing or mapping. I go to the dictionary; I define words. Whether I am writing a paper for school, writing a post for this blog or trying to find the right word to use in everyday conversation, I consult the dictionary. The dictionary is my very best friend. 

Even if I know what the words I am trying to use mean, I look them up in the dictionary. When I think I know what a word means, it's usually because I've used it so many times and I can just remember the context in which I've used it in before. I go, "Oh yea, I used it like that so it will work here." I fear this is what a lot of people do, and no one looks back at the first meaning. 

It reminds me of a game of telephone. When I was a kid, I went to a summer camp. One of the games we played often was telephone. Everyone sat around in a circle. Sometimes there were fifteen of us who sat around, criss-cross applesauce and waited for our turn. One person started by whispering a phrase or a sentence into the ear of the person next to them. Then, that person would listen and try to figure out what the previous person had whispered, and you only had one chance to hear what they said. Then, that person would try to whisper the sentence into the next person's ear. Sure, at first the sentence still sounded like what the first person had said. Though, as one person tried to repeat what one person thought they had heard, eventually the sentence got back to the first person, and it sounded nothing like what the sentence was. 

This is exactly what happens with words today. One person says a word and uses it in a sentence. Then, someone else who hears that person use it uses it in a sentence and they sort of get it right. Then the next person tries and eventually, the context that surrounds this word sounds nothing like what the first person said! 

No one sits around and reads the dictionary anymore. A small portion of people pride themselves on knowing definitions and using words properly. Too many times I've argued with a friend or a partner about the use of a word. They argue me to the death, because they have used this word so many times and they remember what it means. Too many more times I have pulled up the definition of the word and showed them that they are using it wrong. 

While it's nice to have the ability to commit the definitions and the contextual surroundings of words to memory, sometimes it's better to get back to the basics. I don't seem to have very many good examples, but I hope you understand what I mean when I talk about the true meaning of a word. Anyone can go to the dictionary and look up the definition of a word, but do we understand what that means? 

Sometimes, when we define a word, there are more words that we need to define. The definition holds more words that we think we know the definitions of. This, right here, is the part that I absolutely love about words. I love that you can look up one word and it will lead you to another one. You can look up words all day and each one will lead back to the first one that you looked at. This is what I love to do and it is what I want to do in this blog. I want to share with you, my readers and audience, and hopefully friends, the words that I find. I want to share the chemical reaction that goes off when we look up one word. 

The 'popcorn' effect that happens when looking up a word is almost like mapping when you think of it. One word is in the middle of all of your other words and they all lead back to the main word. They all lead back to the initial explosion that occurred. 

In reality, there aren't people walking around with their noses in a dictionary, yelling at people who don't know the "by-the-book" definition of a word. Though there are a lot of people who do, and I strive to find those people. Those like minded people who sit around with their nose in the dictionary are the people I want to connect with, along with anyone who shares the common interest of words! 

When was the last time you looked up a word in the dictionary that you think you already knew the definition to? 

I do this a lot. I do it almost everyday. Technology has made it so simple for us to grab our phone and look up anything with a couple of clicks on our mobile keypads. I have the Dictionary.com application on my phone. I have an iPhone, so when I'm texting I can just highlight a word and bring up the definition of the word I'm using with a single touch. 

How do we come to learn the definitions of so many words? 

We house a vast majority of words in our small brains. We memorize so many definitions. We remember the context in which a word was once used and use our brain power to decipher what that word actually, supposedly means. Our brain is a beautiful piece of machinery. 

I have some homework for my readers. The next time you go to use a word that you think you know the meaning of, look it up. Google it, Yahoo it, pull out the good ol' hard-cover dictionary; however you want to find it. When you do, go ahead and comment below with your word and the definition. I am so curious to see what you find! 

Until next time, and happy blogging! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The True Meaning...

You will often see me refer to the true meaning of words. You will see me ask if we know what the true meaning is of a word. I will ask, time and again, what was the true meaning of a word. What was this word meant for or to be? This is what I strive for, mainly, in this blog; the true meaning of words. 

What do I mean when I say true meaning? 

When I refer to the true meaning of a word or words, I mean to ponder what a word was intended to mean when it was first used. The true definition of the word 'meaning' is what is intended to be expressed or indicated. To intend, is to design or mean for a particular purpose or use. Thus, the meaning is to be designed for a particular purpose to be expressed or indicated, indicating mean to be assigned. 

The word 'true' means being in accordance with the actual state or conditions, or conforming to fact. I want to focus on the word 'fact' first, which means something that actually exists- fair enough. The word 'conform' means to make similar in form; having a likeness or resemblance (similar), which then means to be like or similar (resemblance), and then 'like' means to be of the same form. Form means a particular condition in which something appears. 

I could go on like this all day, because each word in a definition can be defined further. The domino effect is incredible when defining words. It's almost like a piece of glass exploding into a million pieces, and each one is another word with another definition. It's beautiful, really.

Anyways, we can establish that the word 'true' means being in agreement (accord) and having a resemblance (similar) to the condition in which the word actually exists (fact, form).

Thus, when I want the true meaning of a word, I want exactly what the word was designed for and I want it to be in agreement with how the word actually exists, or rather existed. Usually, we do not use words, or know, how words were intended to be used. There are all of the connotations (associated or secondary meanings of a word or expression, in addition to its explicit meaning) that go along with words today; connotations that are not similar to how the word exists.

The word 'purpose' was in the definition of the word intend. It comes to mind now; the reason for which something exists. To exist means to continue to be, and to be means to continue or remain as before.

For example, the word 'pretty' is not usually used in accordance with the reason for which the word exists. The reason that the word 'pretty' was created, was to express cunning or gallant. It means, first and foremost, that something is pleasing or attractive to the eye, as by delicacy or gracefulness. Sometimes, pretty is meant to describe the state of something, such as "my wound is pretty big." Well, a wound is not pretty. It is not pleasing to the eye. It is not graceful. It is repulsive and rough.

How often do you hear someone use the word 'pretty' to express someone's beauty? 

My thoughts often ponder why this happens. I find myself wondering how the meaning of words became what they are today. What happened that changed the meaning of the word 'gay'? Or rather, what changed the knowledge of this word? What has occurred that has made people think first of this word's secondary meaning, rather than it's first meaning? Did we even have knowledge of this word's true meaning when we began using it? Is there anyway to know? As I think of words that are similar to this situation, I ask myself all of these questions.

I digress. In this blog, I plan to pursue the true meaning of words, and I hope you will follow me on this journey that I take. I hope it inspires you to pursue the journey, as well! If throughout this post, you thought of a word that you would like me to provide the true meaning of, please comment below and let me know. I would be happy to engage with my readers, and I look forward to the possibilities. I want to hear your thoughts!

As always, thank you for reading and happy blogging.