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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Divergent Reveiw: Reading Beatrice/Tris Through Lacan's Mirror Stage

Beatrice at mirror in Abnegation gif
Beatrice gets her hair trimmed the second day of every third month. At that time she may look in the mirror for a minute or so. That's FOUR times a year she gets to see her image in a mirror, from the chest up.
Beatrice at Mirror at Abnegation

Beatrice entering aptitude test room sneaking a look at herself
Tori: What's with Abnegation and mirrors.
Beatrice: We reject vanity.
Tori: Yes, I know. Sit down.

Here's a clip of that scene with commentary by director 
Neil Burger

So now you have seen that she lies in the chair and looks to her left that is a mirror, seeing herself. She gets up, walks over and sees herself standing for the first time - that is 
her entire physical body for the first time, not just from her chest up for a few seconds.
She gestures by raising her right hand as her image mirrors her in the mirror.

Reading through Lacan's Mirror Stage:
This EVENT takes place at six months usually. The mother plays with her baby in front of the mirror as the baby experiences an image that also waves its arms, jiggles its legs, moves in the excitement of its image, before words, before walking, before experiencing any SELF. 
Jacques Lacan
Beatrice - and Tobias and Caleb - have never experienced the Mirror Stage in the development of the SELF - the ego.

Beatrice has experienced herself as not selfless enough for Abnegation. She doesn't fit in. She doesn't belong.

How is it possible to feel or be selfless if you don't have a self.

Caleb fakes it by assuming a false self.
Tobias constructs a self at Dauntless.

A ZEN story:

A student goes to the zen master wanting to lose his ego.
ZEN master: First bring me an ego to lose.


"This jubilant assumption of his specular image by the child at the infans stage, still sunk in his motor incapacity and nursling dependence would seem to exhibit in an exemplary situation the symbolic matrix in which the I is precipitated in a primordial form, before it is objectified in the dialectic of identification with the other, and before language restores to it, in the universal, its function as subject." (Lacan ECRITS)

Lacan likens the EVENT to Kohler's Aha! of the ape grasping the stick to get the banana, the beginning moment of intelligence.
The moment as GESTALT!

Beatrice has just experienced herself completely in the mirror then looks to her left, where she is multiplied into infinity.
This is an EVENT!

For Beatrice it has never occurred until the Aptitude Test when she experiences the 
EVENT of the Mirror Stage,
which sheds its light on the formation of the I  the Imago that ancient term - as experienced in psychoanalysis. (p.118 Ecrits)

We have only to understand the MIRROR STAGE as an identification, in the full sense that analysis gives to the term: 

namely the transformation that takes place in the subject when s/he assumes an image   

Turning to the left she sees herself multiplied into infinity and turning around again multiplied.
And there are multitudes of images of Beatrice. 
To echo the Walt Whitman quote, "I am multitudes." 
That there is no one person you are. There are changes and they can be made.
Turning around behind her to respond to the command "Choose"
Choose (Now we have had 3 Beatrices)

Beatrice says, "Tell me." She doesn't understand. Choose what as she looks at the luscious raw steak and shiny knife on the pedestal surface.
"Choose before it's too late."
And then it is too late as the growling ferocious dog comes at her and she looks at the now empty pedestal tables. She has missed her chance by refusing to choose.

But how can one choose between options if there is no SELF to do the choosing?

Now she must respond to the simulation - aptitude test - with her instincts, responding to what occurs. Trusting herself to choose now since she is alone with the situation in the simulation. Only now does she experience a self that responds instinctively, rather than complying obediently to demands.

As the multiple ferocious dogs get ready to attack multitple Beatrices, Beatrice assumes the position of satyagraha - passivity in the face of violence. At this moment all the multiples disappear and there is just one Beatrice who now responds in multiple ways to the problems in the Simulation. At this moment Beatrice experiences a SELF who chooses, and who chooses instinctively. 
In a few moments Beatrice has embraced the entire Mirror Stage.
In other words we have TWO egos (at least), if you will. Or rather an unexplainable, pre-linguistic core of a bodily and mental and emotional self that has no words to define it. Just a GESTALT. Identity is irrelevant here. And on this "self" is built the social self, our many identifications, our tweaking of it to present ourselves to our world, our presented and performative self to others.

Exiting from the simulation Tori tells her she must trust herself. The test didn't work on her, she is divergent.

She leaves the building and on the way home sees some "factionless" outside rummaging through the dumpsters. A woman is there that she looks at. For the first time Beatrice sees the Other as a person, not a nameless outcast. And the factionless woman turns, knowing that she is not only being looked at, but that Beatrice SEES her, and she feels shame, quietly walking away from her gaze.

At home she will reflect Caleb's questioning of her result in the test by inverting his question,
"What were your results?"
And Caleb smiles.
Beatrice has felt her SELF and its will to know/power
She will continue questioning at the dinner table.

The infant repeats the Mirror Stage up until 18 months and then tires of it. The chimp tires of it almost immediately as the mirror is empty.
Beatrice repeats it during dinner at home as she turns her spoon over and regards her face in the curved reflection of her spoon. 

Lacan discusses the non-verbal, pre-verbal imago as the unalterable core of the self before all social identifications are piled on top of it, obscuring it to our knowing, enabling us to forget it.
And this is where Lacan brings in the concept, that again ancient concept, of
THE DOUBLE. THE SHADOW. The reflection in the mirror

Reading through Baudrillard-LINK Beatrice will encounter her DOUBLE as Tris, when in a life threatening situation, during her fearscape. She is not alienated, as we are, from her DOUBLE, but converses with it as primitive cultures do.
This isn't real.

Returning to Lacan, the SELF in The Mirror Stage begins to repeat and to imitate others, building up with social identifications a social or second self. Beatrice after entering Dauntless begins by observing how others are running down the stairs, climbing to the platform, getting on the train, jumping off onto the roof.
Copying the others.

And then comes the moment, the EVENT for Beatrice. 

Eric: Who's it gonna be?
Beatrice: Me.

And Beatrice climbs clumsily up on the ledge, gathers her courage, and she jumps first.
Upon landing in the net, Four lifting her out and suggesting a new name, she becomes 

She has condensed the Mirror Stage into 2 days.
She now begins the journey of building a social self in Dauntless where she will meet her Double a number of times.
First in warning in fearscapes, then in joy as she "flies" down the zipline and sees herself reflected in the windows of the buildings, 

lastly when expecting to be shot, in acquiescence, at her moment of impending death. The Double appears at the moment of Death. Her Double is silent as she looks at her reflection in a puddle of water as Narcissus did.

We have only to understand the MIRROR STAGE as an identificationin the full sense that psychoanalysis gives to the term: 

namely the transformation that takes place in the subject when s/he assumes an image   

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