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.)

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