VISR: Hilda Fernandez
Will a Cyborg Steal My Jouissance? Unconscious Labour and the Enjoying Body of the Virtual

March 19, 2018

Jouissance, understood as a sort of pleasurable pain, expressing an excessive tension of psychical nature, coded in the body, consumptive, and inaccessible to the symbolic order, is a universal characteristic of the human subject as bestowed by psychoanalysis. Based on the premise that jouissance and the body share interrelated yet separate spaces, as the latter is always displaced in an imagined other, in this talk I approach the virtual enjoyment dominating our current times to inquire the interrelation between the body, the unconscious labour and jouissance.


I will engage with Alfie Bown’s report on videogames The Playstation Dreamworld (2017), Jon Raffman’s recent work Dream Journal (2017) and some examples from HBO TV Series Western World (2016) and Netflix’s Black Mirror (2011-2017) to read the unconscious labour, firstly, as an investment in the virtual space, via our dreams, fantasies and even symptoms (techno-addiction). And secondly, this same unconscious labour it is the subject’s jouissance-ingrained production, and as such, it involves an undecidable and paradoxical loss and a gain (surplus jouissance), which I aim to locate it with regards to the body (individual and social).


With the concept of surplus enjoyment, which Lacan assumes to be parallel to surplus value, I argue that the enjoyment of the subject, via its disembodiment in the virtual space, has resulted in a larger social disembodiment which Tomsic explains as a “self fetishisation” of capitalism. I try to articulate it as a radical shift in subjectivity, where the temporal spatial conditions of embodiment are ever more reliant on mediation and where the lack is unbearable, unless the proliferating world of virtual images mediates it.


At the dawn of artificial intelligence and the consolidation of virtual spaces, what relation can be thought between our bodies, the unconscious labour power and our enjoyment? Will our enjoying bodies, the last frontier of our imaginary property, turn out to be stolen goods by a cyborg in servitude of wealth accumulation of big data corporations who have algorithmically manufactured our desires?


Spring 2018 Semester: The Body, Movement, Technology, Apparatus

Movement, gesture, protocol, and choreography of specific bodies are continuous in language, politics, technology and other structures that signify and organize material. This semester of the Vancouver Institute of Social Research seeks to discuss ways in which the body and systems co-articulate each other and the inertias of power that attempt to frame them and the disruptions to various sovereignties that emerge. These discussions will take place also as a way to gesture towards the morphing forms of capture that are developing within the everyday hand-to-hand combat with apparatuses.