Law: From Superego to Love
(This chapter focuses on the split in law, drawing out its repercussions for thinking about law more generally.)
Appearing in mutiple arrangements - the symbolic law of language and norms, the public law of states and regimes, the transgressive "nightly" law of superego, as well as the religious law of Judaism and the Pauline law of faith - law persists as a constituent element of human practical experience.
As a non-integrated, surplus,
Superego issues unconditional commands, telling us what to do, refusing to take no for an answer, refusing even to consider our specific circumstances, needs or desires.
The superego command is thus more than a simple prohibition. It is a prohibition compliance with which produces enjoyment. When we obey the superego, when we give up our own desire and comply or follow orders, a part of us, or, more precisely the Other within us, enjoys.
The superego injunction to enjoy accompanies a duty to be happy. Important for Zizek is the way that in today's more permissive societies, the superego injunction to enjoy accompanies a duty to be happy. He writes,
"The superego is thus the properly obscene reversal of the permissive 'You may!' into the prescriptive 'You must!', the point at which permitted enjoyment turns into ordained enjoyment." We must have great sex lives, fulfilling jobs, interesting hobbies, fantastic vacations. If we do not, we have somehow failed. We are guilty-inadequate. By attending to the superego supplement of law, Zizek thus enables us to grasp how it is the case that what might appear at law's retreat, as law's securing of a larger realm of personal choice and privacy, comes up against a crippling impasse of unfreedom-the command to enjoy that effectively prevents us from enjoying, entwining us in guilt and uncertainty.
Love With Law
The Object in Law: From Superego to Objet Petit a
Attachment to Law: From Enjoyment Through Duty to Enjoyment in Love
Conclusion: Hope in Law
- Žižek, Slavoj. The Parallax View. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006. p. 10.
- Žižek, Slavoj. "How Did Marx Invent the Symptom?" in Mapping Ideology. Ed. Slavoj Zizek. Verso: London, 1944. p. 318
- Žižek, Slavoj. "How Did Marx Invent the Symptom?" in Mapping Ideology. Ed. Slavoj Zizek. Verso: London, 1944. p. 319
- Žižek, Slavoj. The Fragile Absolute, or Why the Christian Legacy is Worth Fighting For. London; New York: Verso, 2000. Žižek, Slavoj. The Fragile Absolute, or Why the Christian Legacy is Worth Fighting For. London; New York: Verso, 2000. p. 133