Our brain is almost entirely blind to itself, and it is this interval between ‘almost’ and ‘entirely’ wherein our experience of consciousness resides.
– R. Scott Bakker, The Last Magic Show
…philosophy as such is defined by its blindness to this place: it cannot take it into consideration without dissolving itself; without losing its consistency.
– Slavoj Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology
Zizek like the Laughing Buddha, Budai, enlightens us through laughter and paradox, jokes and juxtapositions of high and low culture. And, at times, he surprises even himself, as in his first book The Sublime Object of Ideology where he uncovers the very form of philosophical blindness:
Philosophical reflection is thus subjected to an uncanny experience similar to the one summarized by the old oriental formula ‘thou art that’ [‘Tat Tvam Asi’]: there, in the external effectivity of the exchange process, is your proper place; there is the theatre in which your truth was performed before you took cognizance of it (11).1
Instead of a Freudian ‘scene of instruction’ this site or place is more of a confusion, a misrecognition scene in which individuals caught up in their own private solipsism exchange relations blind to the actual staging of thought itself (11). Thought and its reasons are blind to each other in the movement of the act. This misrecognition brings about a fissure in consciousness into ‘practical’ and ‘theoretical’ domains in which the ongoing active exchange between agents is carried on in complete non-knowledge, ‘practical solipsism’. And if these agents were to know too much, to awaken out of their solipsistic awareness, to ‘pierce the true functioning of social reality, this reality would dissolve itself (12).
This is probably the fundamental dimension of ‘ideology’: ideology is not simply a ‘false consciousness’, an illusory representation of reality, it is rather this reality itself which is already to be conceived as ‘ideological’ – ‘ideological’ is a social reality whose very existence implies the non-knowledge of its participants as to its essence – that is, the social effectivity, the very reproduction of which implies that the individuals ‘do not know what they are doing’ (15-16).
It is the ideological reality itself as ‘false consciousness’ that supports the sociality of this agent (being). We enter these ideological bubbles or spheres as children and are immersed in the effectivity of sociality long before we understand the dilemma of our blindness into its impact and strange control over our lives. The symptoms of this ideological world’s logic escapes us until the moment that knowledge after the fact awakens in us that ‘mise en scene’ of self-knowledge. In the moment of this antagonistic duel between knowledge and non-knowledge the kernel of self-reflecting negativity that is the transcendental field forms in the place of blindness.
1. Slavoj Zizek. The Sublime Object of Ideology. (Verson, 2008)