Human Development and Jacques Lacan’s Psychology of Human Encounter with the Laws of Verbal Communication

My originality is that I don’t make any distinction between men and women. It’s just like two kinds of animals. I put my direction and my lines in a man’s body and a man’s mouth or in a woman’s body and a woman’s mouth without worrying that because she is a woman she can, or because he’s a man he can’t, say it. Sometimes I put my philosophy in three different characters whereas most directors have their own character… People expect you to be for this character’s view or that character’s view. I say I’m for the picture.
JLG Colin McCabe, “Godard: Images, Sounds, Politics”, Indiana Univ. Pr., 1980, p.
102

As Nana takes her turn at the pinball machine, Paul recounts perhaps the most crucial of all the film’s stories…written by one of his father’s pupils: “A chicken is an animal with an inside and an outside. Remove the outside, there’s the inside. Remove the inside, and you see the soul.” Spiritual realization through death…This death means detachment, a signifier which implies the withdrawal of cathexis from the things that normally engross us most fully: the world and the self… It signifies something like the abandonment of desire and the abdication of the “me”. The soul can emerge only after the “outside” or demands of the body, and the “inside” or “me”, have been removed. This double eradication implies death as inexorably as being burned at the stake… Nana is an animal with an outside and an inside. Remove the outside, there’s the inside. Remove the inside, and you see her soul…spiritual realization through death.
Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki, “Speaking about Godard”, New York Univ. Pr, 1998, p. 6, 11, 26, 24, 30

Nana’s “pre-linguistic” dance for “the young man”

1) The enigma


“Lend yourself to others and keep yourself for yourself” – Montaigne

2) Life


To prevent the viewers’ impulsive identification with the character-star – not to let them make her a reservoir for the vain emotional projections, Godard introduces Nana-Karina by, as if, hiding her face – he wants us to establish a rapport, first of all with her personality. From Nana’s psychological perspective, it is an old unconscious strategy to turn away from the world in order to regain centralized position. Her reduced reflection in the mirror shows how she perceives her social situation – as lost and neglected among technological toy-tools and the indifferent manner with which the social world treats you.


Nana as a petty store-clerk (a sales-girl) in a giant system of selling pieces of the human soul trapped in the records of pop-singing. We see her as a robot moving in front of a musical wall with various categories of human emotions and musical tastes


The receptionist at the police station is registering Nana as a minor offender – but he can be a soldier behind a machinegun or a business person looking at possible future employees. Whoever he could be his personal humanity is emptied – this gaze doesn’t belong to a human being but to a system processing the humans according to its own logic which life cannot fully grasp.

3) Destiny?


We see Nana identifying with the “suffering of Jeanne D’ Arc” from Karl Theodore Dreyer’s film. What makes her, an exceptionally attractive woman and an extraordinary person to expect for herself a future comparable to that of the victim of Inquisition? – Her irrepressible spiritual individualism? – The stubbornness of her soul making her to take to herself all the brutality of the world?


The second still that seems identical with the previously viewed, as if, confirms that Nana’s Jeanne’s destiny will be realized in the post-WW2 France. What is the visual difference between the two stills? The first is the question, while the second – the answer. The first is full of agonizing life, but in the second Nana’s face is already iconic, as if her destiny is already written on it. Through what tools Godard reaches this effect?


Godard opposes Nana to people who take life as it is. He juxtaposes the scene of this touchingly naïve couple (accompanied by the chanson in the style of the epoch) with the scene of terrorist attack Nana is trying to escape from. The song poetically reflects the hopeful view of Parisian life where, tragically, there is no place for a person like Nana. We see that the guy expects an answer from the girl to his marriage proposal – he is already in a military uniform (war is rushing to come) – the situation was elaborated in a couple of years later in Jacques Demy’s film “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964).


Nana meets the anonymous gaze of the viewers – she is, as if, semi-consciously appealing to the public either to protect her from her still unknown ordeals or for us just to know that she exists, she – a unique, an incredible, a kind of existential philosopher, an impossible beautiful soul. She and Godard are, as if, looking for our participation in determining Nana’s future.

4) Survival


Nana meets her future boss.


Nana gives herself to Raul’s expertise and experience as we, Americans today, put ourselves at the mercy of corporate CEOs, Wall-Street financial schemers and military commanders.


Nana’s face disappears behind Raul’s business calculations.


Sociological lecture about organized prostitution in Paris


In advertising yourself – transforming yourself into an ad, there is nothing particular about prostitution. To advertize yourself is like to be put to the wall – there is nowhere to run but it is responsibility of the self-advertiser to look cool and independent. People want to be happy, and to achieve happiness it’s necessary to concentrate on the positive side of things and delete from the consciousness the negative one. Happiness is mainly a subjective condition. Every job description has despotic, commandment-like side. The application of the results of your work is always beyond our control. To be happy just forget about it.


You have to give yourself to the routine of your work as Nana learned to give herself to her clients.


You don’t need to lose your self-respect; you only need to reduce the level of your narcissism to a more basic level.


Life teaches us loyalty and obedience to the employer and how to mask your servility with artificial grace…


… and even to be innocently playful in winning little concessions from the “deciders”

5) Impersonalized cognition (in Nana’s case, “female subject’s linguistic inauguration” – Kaja Silverman, “The Subject of Semiotics”, Oxford, 1984, p. 189)


The tricky psychological structure of “la parole“


The philosopher treats Nana as Artaud’s character in Dreyer’s film treats Jeanne D’ Arc. He addresses the philosophical side of her questions and her confusions but not what in her life and personality could determine them.


By his professional honesty and impeccable objectivity the philosopher is partially responsible for Nana’s “defensive reaction” of falling in love in the most traditional way possible.

6) Love/death


Nana’s pre-linguistic, “pre-symbolic” dance in which mute body yearns for words and music becomes the first speech


Seduction produced by love is much more seductive (much more “sinful”?) than the one produced by sexual desire.


“The young man” hides behind the book about creative power of love. It is, as if, book doing the love talk instead of him.


After years of experiencing the wise meaninglessness of life, Nana surrenders to the maxims and rituals of the Lacanian symbolic (to the amorous magic of the domination of the “Name of the Father”).


Becoming “normal adult” becomes for Nana the overture to self-destruction because the modern money-power competes with traditional psycho-semiotic power ruling through language – the issue Nana never had time or the education to brood about. Money calculation is a new language fighting with the traditional human language(s) for domination.


Nana appears in a situation of being lower than the level of profit for both sides of the deal. It is like making profit on firing workers and selling the business instead of staying in business. Godard’s intuition already in early 60s predicted the style of profit making in the beginning of 21st century that is sacrificing not only workers but work itself.
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Is Nana’s death her failure or her victory? – Her heroism or her weakness? Is she a martyr of a great love or a victim of gangsters making money on women’s bodies and men’s lust? How could she put herself in a situation of extreme vulnerability in front of routines of the system’s dedication to making profit by any price? Pimps are not different from money-schemers. Nana’s historical disadvantage is that she is born in a system that has no time or interest in nourishing the human talent of existential extraordinariness she personifies in the film. This system – Western democracy, is the best in the world, but it’s not good enough for Nana and for those viewers who admire her. The most daring and the most unique point of Godard’s film is that it is not only about the terrifying destiny of the exceptional person, it is about the psycho-semiotic destiny of human beings (of human race) that looks like a horror story. Godard depicts Nana’s choices and circumstances of her decisions by using concepts of human psycho-semiotic behavior as elaborated by the French philosopher Jacques Lacan. He doesn’t make direct references to Lacan. But he makes Nana a spontaneous thinker interested in the relationships between human being and la parole (human verbal self-expression). Her dialogue with a specialist in philosophy about the role of speech acts in the life of individuals, and Godard’s mediation of her romantic involvement with “the young man” with his reference to Edgar Poe’s story about the authoritarian power of the male artist over woman’s heart and soul, make the symbolic aspects of our mental life (which we learned through our verbal function) the semantic spine of Nana’s destiny.

Seven types of discourses represented in the film are paradigmatic for today’s society. 1. A discourse of discord, from which we learn that Nana has left her husband and her baby to pursue her unusual path of finding meaning of her life. 2. A purely instrumental, question-answer communication like the one at the police station or during job interview. 3. A purely technical – sociological discourse about French prostitution as a briefing for Nana. 4. A simpleminded discourse of popular but not pop-culture (a chanson about personal love and its social context). 5. A discourse of self-reflection (Nana’s conversation with Yvette in which she expresses her position of graceful self-responsibility). 6. A philosophical discourse (Nana’s dialogue with a philosopher about the peculiarities of relations with language and thinking). 7. A discourse of love – about personal transformation in love (Godard reciting from Edgar Poe’s text, and Nana’s amorous talk with “the young man”). To this it’s necessary to add a kind of a pre-subjective pre-discourse – the soul’s pre-communication through the art of bodily self-expression (Nana’s dance for “the young man”).

Godard’s incredible juxtaposition of the heroine’s destiny as a martyr of civilization with Lacanian terminology analyzing Nana’s psychological evolution through the events described in the film makes this film a research into – how human specie is abused and psychologically traumatized by the very feature that makes it unique – by the possession of language. Godard examines the very process of a woman’s emancipation in today’s democratic society through the paradigm of the individual entering the world of the symbolic (the area of adult language) from the imaginary universe of pre-Oedipal perception of the world. In this sense, Nana’s fate represents not only the destiny of women who are trying to become independent members of society, but a destiny of any young person of any gender who enters the symbolic order and, therefore, unconsciously experiences a bifurcation in his/her personality into a “psychologically castrated” subject and idealized self-image projected into the system of language (organized around the transcendental signifier). As soon as we encounter language of human life we get the inferiority complex (because we are losing our pre-linguistic emotional plenitude of being the imaginary center of the world). And with inferiority complex comes the need to become aggrandized. Symbolic (sociomorphic) language is a traditional language of adults, the agency of patriarchal power, that transforms a person into a personage of a semiotico-theological drama, when any use of language for whatever purpose become our unconscious worship of the father/god/phallus, authoritarian wisdoms, social power and adaptation to a given society.

By idealizing “the young man” in the very act of her unconditional love for him Nana unconsciously transforms him into the personification of language in general, into an agent/angel of the very transcendental signifier. And, correspondingly, she transforms herself into a model of the language as a great priest, of a sculptor of her soul.For the subject of language is always an object of language’s forming power, a de-existentionalized creature with a reduced being, a worshiper, object of commandments of the language’s connotations and meanings. If “the young man” becomes for Nana her idealized mirror image as a signifier of perfection, she herself becomes a signifier of this very signifier, a personification of goddess in god’s universe. She is simultaneously psychologically enslaved and self-aggrandized. “Lacan conveys the extremity of the opposition between language and phenomenal realm when he describes it as a choice between meaning and life.” (Kaja Silverman, “The Acoustic Mirror”, Indiana Univ. Pr, 1988, p. 8). But instead of meaning, Nana in her falling in love found only her own image distorted by its fetishized mirror version as an image of her beloved, and her own death as a result. “When the subject appears somewhere as meaning, he is manifested elsewhere (in phenomenal reality) as ‘fading’, as disappearance… This fading or aphanisis (of the subject who just has entered the symbolic) represents the most extreme and permanent of the alienations by means of which the Lacanian subject is constituted. Not only is the subject thereby split off or partitioned from its own drives, but it is subordinated to a symbolic order which will henceforth entirely determine its identity and desires.” (Kaja Silverman, “The Subject of Semiotics”, Oxford Univ. Pr, 1984, p. 171 – 172) If “the young man” impersonalizes Nana by cherishing the idealized image of her worshipping him, Raul’s reaction (for him sexual body is not for love, it is for business) on her amorous involvement (with “the young man”) is another pole of the same – he “despises [her] and has jettisoned [her] as what is most abject, most culturally intolerable – as the representative of everything within male subjectivity which is incompatible with the phallic function.” (Kaja Silverman, “The Acoustic Mirror…”, ibid, p. 86) These two reactions are two poles of how a woman is treated by men in the context of being part of the symbolic realm. She is reduced into the direct personification of the abject or into the sublime model for the work of art as a golden cage.

Nana’s murder is simultaneously a signifier of her passage into symbolic – her castration as a subject of romantic love and subject of language, on a semantic level, and a signifier of the incompatibility between personal choice and an impersonal market system, on the level of the plot. “The young man’s” psychologically defensive operation towards Nana – disavowal (of her personality) and fetishism (of her love for him), and Raul’s equivalently defensive operation – voyeurism and sadism towards her, have semantically realized her “castration”. In the very moment she fell in love and became a dedicatedly “receptive to the male gaze and voice” – she became no more than extension of it and forgot Montaigne’s maxim about lending yourself to other and keeping yourself to yourself, to which she intuitively followed during her married life, search for job and work as a prostitute. She, by the fact of her loving “the young man”, has provided for him, to this incredibly, vacuumly ordinary person, identity, ontological status, and the position in the symbolic. Nana, impersonalized and dehumanized through her fetishization of him inside the very mechanism of her love, gave him chance to feel somebody, made it possible for him as a male subject the identification with the symbolic father. “Woman’s obligatory receptivity to the male gaze is what establishes its superiority, just as her obedience to the male voice is what ‘proves’ its power.” (Kaja Silverman, ibid, p. 32) Nana, with all her “phenomenal plenitude”, with all her “feminine potentiality for a jouissance denied to man”, will stay in plenitude to the death and will not be transformed to the “lack” as a woman who is happily in love.

It’s the absence of a social environment that could assimilate Nana’s personality and expressive potentials, of people who could enjoy nurturing her desire to be “special” (as Godard was for Anna Karina) – that forced Nana to surrender to a behavior that corresponded to the traditionalist ritual of participating in the cult of the symbolic language/consciousness without the ability to creatively criticize it. Nana desperately wanted to become a developed personality, but she is only able to use the traditionally feminine strategies of being a wife, mother, a prostitute and the beloved. But even in love woman is never man’s equal – she can elevate herself only through an even greater elevation of him, she can only become a glorious signifier of his superior glory. “What I seek in the Word is the response of the other… In order to be recognized by the other, I utter… In order to find him, I call him… I identify myself in language, but only by losing myself in it like an object.” (Jacques Lacan, “Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis”, John Hopkins Univ. Pr, 1984, p. 63) For Godard “romantic” – fetishistic love of woman for man becomes a metaphor of person’s linguistic inauguration into patriarchal culture. “…Misprision engendered within a subject by the fact of identifying with one’s consciousness… ‘I think’ reveals what it is: the being of a fall… the casual stroke divides inaugurally the ‘I am’ of existence from ‘I am’ of meaning… That rift or split is precisely that thereof psychoanalysis affords us a daily experience… Freud illustrates that split, reproduced at all levels of subjective structure… The subject is not wrong to identify with his consciousness… but in being compelled to miss the topology which makes a fool of him in that identification… The danger of a reduction of the subject to the ego… It is not to his consciousness, that the subject is condemned, but to his body.” (Jacques Lacan, “Responses to Students of Philosophy Concerning the Object of Psychoanalysis”, In – Jacques- Alan Miller, “Television”, W.W. Norton, 1990, 1990, p. 107 – 110.) The elimination of this condemned body through business deal between Raul and his “colleagues” is not only the result of Nana “betrayal” of “business” and Raul’s betrayal of Nana, but Nana’s betrayal of herself in the context of Montaigne’s motto. Nana is a person without social awareness, without a scientifically critical competence and as such too vulnerable to the repressive powers of the symbolic. Neither “the young man” nor Nana could have ever imagined – how much, with their amorous spontaneity they would be endangering her life. Nana obviously overestimated democracy, like most of the people do.

With “the young man” Nana, as if, found the goal of life that is a very patriarchal solution for female destiny. A discrepancy between the logic of Raul’s business and the patriarchal culture’s control over people’s behavior through the very semantic structure of language is Godard’s ironic comment about the difference between post-WWII “business oriented” democracy and a pre-democratic semantics of language. Nana always had a deal with peers – Paul, Raul, “the young man”. The peer trio (husband, pimp and beloved) is Godard’s bitter definition of democracy where political power is hidden behind the institutions of the family and business and behind the liberal encouragement of sex and consumption. But romantic love is a part of conservative universe, a reservoir of traditionalist style of thinking – it mixes identities and creates inside the amorous symbiosis unconscious fight for domination along the channels of object-aggrandizement and self-devaluation. In the universe of romantic love the subject of love is always self-aggrandizing through the very identification with even more aggrandized partner, and her feeling of a humiliating dependence on the object is not compensated enough. On the surface the logic of business (Nana’s ability to make money for Raul) contradicts the logic of romantic love (surrendering to the beloved as the symbol of patriarchal power), but the two kinds of logic (modern and pre-modern) are allied against the very autonomy of human personality. Nana’s budding personality is destroyed by this alliance of despotic powers – of “the young man’s” narcissistic love that neglects any understanding of the real situation Nana is in and has no interest in her individuality, and of the business of profit by any price. The point here is that the human being is trapped between the traditionalist (incarnated in Lacan’s psychoanalytical/semiotic categories) and modern and post-modern powers.

We come to the area of Lacanian symbolic in an imaginary manner when the symbolic is perceived as a second mirror phase, with a new psychological bifurcation on the subject and an ideal world of meaningfulness, when meaning is perceived through minimization of the being. “Desire is directed towards ideal representations which remain forever beyond the subject’s reach. The first of these representations is the mirror image in which the subject initially ‘finds’ its identity. The identifications which the subject is encouraged to make immediately upon its entry into symbolic order, and which exercise a kind of retroactive influence over the mirror stage, are calculated to induce in the subject an even more radical sense of inadequacy and lack. It’s as a consequence of these identifications – with maternal and paternal representations – that the subject discovers itself to be ‘castrated’…” (Kaja Silverman, “The Subject of Semiotics”, ibid, p. 176 – 177) When Nana gives herself to her beloved as to an artist in front of whom she stretches herself as a model she is transformed into a work of art, she is giving herself to culture/language in the ritual of her semiotic initiation into proper behavior! Godard-anthropologist and culturologist makes here critical points against modernity, tradition and the very fabric of human culture. Woman as a beloved, as “matter” for art and subject of consciousness/language becomes Godard’s representation of the human being involved in impersonalizing and dehumanizing experiences inside the very ennobling situations of love and cultural initiation. He questions cultural education impregnated by the patriarchal codes enslaving the person in the very moment it enlightens her.

“The young man” becomes for Nana a kind of her ego-ideal, and her amorous surrender to him seems to her as the best thing that ever happened in her life. He becomes Nana’s Lacanian object petit a, with the power to bind her forever. The content of the story by Edgar Poe serves as a humorous modification of fort-da game when the subject disappears in one place (reality) and reappears in another (love as art). In Godard’s film Nana is murdered, but she is perpetuated as a signifier of a destiny of a person caught in the crossroads of historically different strategies of enslavement of human being.

Lacan wasn’t the only philosopher who examined the repressive structures and authoritarian connotations of the very functioning of various cultural discourses and inside human emotions – they were motivated to help democratic culture to overcome cultural inertia and go out of control by psycho-symbolic violence. Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari were paying a scrupulous critical attention to the very construction of traditionalist language and thinking. Similar motivations inspired Immanuel Levinas and great poets of the 20th century. Godard himself dedicated his inspiration to creating a new cinematic language different from classic narration and commercial camera work based on creating a perceptional condition for unmediated identification of viewers with characters and ideas that is similar to identification as a basic mechanism of establishing authoritarian/totalitarian communities. Godard looks for a new way of cinematic expressiveness when traditional “castrating” and manipulative function of language/communicational style could be unmasked, neutralized, modified and dispelled for the sake of a new enlightening la parole with the viewers.

Nana, like almost everybody is a victim of universal initiation into language structures of domination. But it is exactly her non-conformism, the power of her character, vitality of her nature and the spontaneous intelligence of her mind that put her in an additional risk. She was able and willing to take initiatives – she was too passionate neophyte of the symbolic adulthood. She invested her own energy into her own spiritual enslavement – she surrendered her identity to the engulfing power of romantic love and to the rituals prescribed by traditionalist language. She surrendered to the rituals of love in the form of “the erotic experience of castration by virtue of language” (Julia Kristeva, “Crisis of the European Subject”, Other Pr, 2000, p. 143), to the semiotic identification with the law of the father through self-eliminatory giving in to her beloved. But what she came to is a much more radical gesture of self-repression than prostitution demands – it’s self-elimination inside love through being symbiotically glued to the beloved as a part of a new, mixed identity. She lost herself – she started to see in the mirror of her psychological self-perception only him, her beloved (herself in the eternity of their fused relations).

Symbiotic mixing of personalities is a primitive form of self-transcending – elementary form of spiritual experience. But before meeting “the young man”, while being involved in her work as a prostitute she kept her autonomy and refrained from identification with her social environment. She managed to reach a non-conformist position of transcending the status quo even without erudite analysis of life based on the possibility of rational improvement of society. Only personal transcendence is within her reach as what she could imagine as an alternative to reality. Nana’s spiritual development throughout the film (that is simultaneously her involution) can be traced at different levels – the socio-political, the psychological and the semiotic. In socio-political perspective Nana is motivated by the desire to liberate herself from traditional female role. Psychologically she is coming from dependency on archaic family structure into a financially and emotionally independent life only later to surrender to a much more radical dependency inherent in the archaic concept of love. And semiotically she moves from everyday common-sense language to a participation in the language of “competent adults” (language as a historical construction) and in becoming a subject in a semiotic sense. Nana’s developmental paradigm in the film is Godard’s “subversive” parody on the very concept of spiritual growth in our civilization. From family life to “responsible work” (Nana’s prostitution is Godard’s metaphor of selling human body and soul in the market), and then to the discourse of romantic love that coincides with coming to psychological and semiotic maturity of participating in the cult of worshiping god/phallus/ conservative authority as a transcendental signifier.

Nana reached the highest point of her psychological development when having agreed to lend herself to the world and to keep herself for herself she got feminine grace and personal independence which became the background for immanent artistry of her personality. It is a typical subversive Godardian paradox that her prostitution was a period when Nana reached the peak of her existential development comparing with family life or more conformist jobs – she was able to lend herself but to keep her autonomy, to keep a clean distance between herself and the world, without any mixing of identities or confusion of desires. Nana was able to keep the stressful but clear-cut balance between the market-based system, her nature and her personality (prostitution in the film signifies Lacanian symbolic). The next step (into the fetishistic love signifying Lacanian imaginary) was step back, and what pushed her there were the sirens of Western traditional culture. “The development of the ego consists in an estrangement from primary narcissism and gives rise to a vigorous attempt to recover that state. This departure is brought about by means of the displacement of libido to an ego-ideal imposed from without… So, the ego experiences a kind of estrangement, passing via a middle term, which is the ideal, and returns later to its primitive position. This movement seems to me to be the very image of development.” (Jacques Lacan, “The Seminar of Jacques Lacan”, Bk 1, Cambridge Univ. Pr, 1988, p. 135 – 136) After Nana reached a financial stability through prostitution, masochistic need to return to dependence could be one of her unconscious motivations. This motivation could be part of her not less unconscious self-sacrificial desire for martyrdom.

All the relationships shown in the film (including the personal ones) are characterized by the absence of emotional intimacy, of genuine interest in each other. Godard emphasizes a kind of anonymity between lovers, friends and acquaintances. Even Nana’s communications with Paul and “the young man”, or her conversation with Yvette are without the spirit of togetherness, of emotional concentration on one another. Even the dialogue with the philosopher although intellectually elaborated and reflecting her dedication to the topics discussed, and his empathy with Nana’s passionate curiosity, is limited by the intra-philosophical issues without the elder man’s interest in Nana as a younger person overwhelmed and burdened with life’s enigmas and dead ends. He is answering her questions but is not interested in how these questions are rooted in her personality and destiny. In other words, he understands what she is trying to say, but not why she is puzzled with her linguistic inquires. People’s communications in this film are always impersonal. Music of Michel Legrand as if, suggests the awakening of the soul but amidst sadness and grief – it never develops into melody.

The men are shown as almost identical, with the same emotionally reserved, impersonal manners. They are dressed and look similarly. They are like working bees during the business hours and like drones in their free time. They abuse women in three traditional ways: through marriage, then by transforming them into goods (prostitution), or by making them into objects of worship (an ontological murder transubstantiating women into a metaphysical signifier of men’s aggrandized self-image) in personal love. These three kinds of “assignment” can be generalized as locking women into conventional functioning, as seeing them as bodies and transforming them into signifiers of their beloveds’ glory.

When Nana discovers the language of cultural tradition and proper behavior for women through Poe’s story and love for “the young man” – she has lost not only her freedom but her soul, body and life. It’s, indeed, wiser to lend yourself to others but belong to yourself, if you cannot belong to (critically minded) culture and to a democratic community of dissimilar people with deep interest in each other. Love worshiping transformation of beloved into a signifier is a result of crushed existential space; it is loving instead of living. Godard shows “the young man” (in love with Nana) as literally hiding behind the book of Edgar Poe. The dead existential field we all live in is symbolized by the parable about an “outside”, an “inside” and a “soul”, when “outside” (social aspects of personality, social influences) is alienated from “inside” (person’s self), and the soul is separated from the body. You fake an outside, you possess an inside and you appropriate you own soul instead of creating a unity between your peripheral, internal and intimate – your social, psychological, physical and spiritual selves. If steps towards existentially spiritual growth are made in a socio-psychologically degraded atmosphere – the “external” is impossible without resistance, the “internal” – without silence/muteness, and the “soul” without martyrdom. Life then becomes life-denying, violent and monstrous, even when generous compensations are offered in a form of consumerism. New powers can repress humans even more despotically than the old ones. Here the traditional strategies of repression join forces with the post-modern ones against Nana and us all. Demons of the semiotics join the demons of economy, and demons of greed and lust – that of technology.

Nana is we today thrown from the Symbolic of more or less democratic economic system into the Imaginary (with convulsions of the Real) of post-democratic idolization of money/profit. Today our culture is regressing into traditional/pre-democratic (imaginary) rituals, and the main among them is idolization of money power (worshipping the Golden Calf). What is for Nana “romantic love”, for the 21st century West is “romantic love” with profit. Raul (the personification of the Lacanian real in the film) sells Nana as today’s Wall Street schemers sell people’s debts.

Posed on June/23/2014 –   “Vivre sa vie/My Life to Live” (1962) by Jean-Luc Godard  by Acting-Out Politics