From No Subject - Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis
Jump to: navigation, search

Spectral Supplement

Žižek's argument is that it is this spectral supplement that constitutes the basis of all ideologies. Furthermore, he avers that reality itself depends on this supplement. This concept relies on our understanding the distinction between reality and the Real. We have no access to the Real because our world is always mediated by the Symbolic. Reality, as we know it, therefore, is always Symbolic. However, the Symbolization of the Real is, and cannot be, complete. The Symbolic can never saturate the Real and so, consequently, there is always some part of the Real which remains unsymbolized. What cannot be accommodated in the Symbolic produces a fundamental antagonism. It is this part of the Real that returns to haunt reality in the guise of the spectral supplement.

The spectre conceals the piece of the Real which has to be forsaken if reality (in the guise of the Symbolic) is to exist. And it is here, in the spectral supplement, that Žižek locates the foundation or kernel of all ideologies. All of which is another way of saying that reality and ideology are mutually implicated in each other.

One cannot exist without the other.[1]