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Author : Zenon Kelper

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Before further details, and the presentation of formulas - here follows an abstract for a convening about Textualisation & Virtual Reality (10-13 May 1995)


William Theaux intends to present his conception of the relationship between cybernetics (in particular Virtual Reality) and psyche on the one hand - and cybernetics and ecology on the other hand, as they are linked by sociology. These relationships are elucidated by his understanding of Psychoanalysis.

This understanding drawn from a Lacanian training, in its turn, was developed in Lyon, France, over a period of 10 years in the context of an association of Psychoanalysis-users and members of an analytic movement applicable to collective behavior.


In 1950 the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan compared cybernetic patterns to Freudian metapsychology. In so doing he showed that when digitalization or numerization is subjected to a selection rule (that he called the Significant) a phenomenon results - which turns out to be comparable with the Freudian Unconscious.

This could have two implications: first that Freudian theory, as early as the begining of the present century, was in fact the intuition of a science of cybernetics which was at that time in an embryonic, or merely latent state. Secondly, as this theory continues to progress without ever losing its awareness of its root in this incipent science, it will come to integrate Cybernetic functions explicitly into its formulae. At this point in the development of Psychoanalysis, Cybernetics will have extended its field of operational competence from that of machine-to-machine interactions to that of machine-to-biology interactions, making the encounter between these two sciences both inevitable, if not of promise.


Starting from the raw material of a digital series, the operation of the Significant produces a stochastic system in four dimensions - as formulated in the schema "L" of Jacques Lacan. In this ontological diagram, the Significant brings out a fourfold distribution of the original series. One of these states is the symbolic background of the binarization; another is the speechless quality of the binarization (to be identified as the subject in the ecstatic condition of "drive-silence").

The other two dimensions represent the fundamental alternative of binarism - a plane of objectivity from which there emerges an ego and an object which stands for the intriguing object of the Freudian Drive, which is to be identified with the enticing object of Cybernetics, and finally with the object of desire - or of consumerism and science - as described by Lacan.

He gradually formulated, from the relationship between two apparatuses, various practical algorithms to describe the relationships between first three apparatuses and more and so on up to the level of a "collective logic". At this point of his formulation, he is able to bring into play a theory of Time such that this otherwise structuralist pattern emerges as human subjectivity and hence as a true sociology.

Thus Lacan was able to locate the place of the cybernetic object in the Crowd Model of Sigmund Freud.

Hence, according to Psychoanalysis, digitalization, technology and cybernetics are all in fact one and the same thing.

In 1960 Lacan developed the representation of this model into what is known as the Optical Model; in which we can recognize a political schema very much in the same way as Plato's Cave had represented the schema of the Republic 2500 years before.

That is to say that what Psychoanalysis finally supplies is a schema of a Democracy fully equipped with its information technology. This is a point which raises a final question as to whether the cybernetic arsenal may not turn out to be the sine-qua-non of Democracy as such.


As a sociological model:

According to the lacanian "extension", the sociological model of Psychoanalysis incorporates the object of Cybernetics. Given that a sociological model underlies any possible ecological action, it can be shown that Psychoanalysis effectively indicates that digitalization must contribute to the solution of any complex ecological situation. And it must not be forgotten that such a contribution requires a guidance system that could be Psychoanalysis itself.

As a psychological model:

Lacan's integration of technology into the factors composing mind, allows Virtual Reality to take on a role as a manifestation of his concept of l'Autre (that is, of "the Unconscious as the other"). It is therefore possible to draw up a semiology of relations to Virtual Reality by comparison with L'Autre. As l'Autre structures the subject in the Oedipus Complex, Virtual Reality opens possibilities of practical regression - wherein may lie therapy and its egression.

As an anthropological model:

Psychoanalysis has the added advantage of incorporating the present experience of digitalization and cybernetics into a historical continuum, in this way linking it up with the intuitions, and perhaps the ambitions, of the hermeticians of the past as described by such historians as Frances Yates.




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