Dr. Dufourmantelle projected Antonello da Messina’s “Saint Jerome in His Study” in her 2012 EGS seminar.
Let’s not assume love is not opposition, a moment of longing…to embrace or to kill. We will try to practice – to hold onto ambivalence, hold onto the tension, the unreadability of a situation…––Avital Ronell, 2012
In order to change, recognize your desire and then something will happen. If you consent to where you are, then you begin to change. ––Anne Dufourmantelle, 2012
“This is about desire” ––Chris Kraus, 2012
3.1. The Conversion Process
The Dufourmantelle conversion process is in four stages: 1) the dream 2) the Visitor 3) the Witness 4) Kairos.
These four stages will be examined with components from the pioneering academic breakthroughs of Avital Ronell (addiction) and Laurence Rickels (the haunting) and the paradigm shattering (M)Other Matrix model of Bracha Ettinger.
Examining the Pholus myth in regards to the Saas-Fee language of the conversion, we come to the monstrosity that centered the language of “entanglement”. The monster represents something that leaves us speechless, without language, helpless in the very power of its presence. We are the hapless host––giving the monster everything, because nothing that we possess, even our own life, matters within the irreversible process of the conversion. (The term “monster” traveled around the mountain in entanglement fashion, with teachers and students alike recalling the monsters activated through their conversion experience).
With so many psychoanalysts contributing from different directions to the core of a new collaborative philosophy, the necessity of the inward shift to a new holistic perspective was externalized in language as an indistinguishable subjective and object. Without this internal shift, Dr. Dufourmantelle warned, “there has to be another catastrophe or event to bring back this difference…a pushing beyond the known realm of the body to the unknown realm of death. We have to be confronted with fear, to embrace fear itself, as a means of moving forward. To turn from our fear means a turning backward.”
The 1992 discovery of the asteroid named Pholus was marked by numerous panics of spreading viruses. That year, a new term, apoptosis, began appearing in the literature:
Apoptosis is a term you may not have heard of, unless you work in the medical or biological fields. It is, simply, a form of programmed cell death, and is referred to prolifically in scientific literature nowadays. However, cell biology textbooks with copyrights prior to 1992 did not contain the term in their indexes, and before 1992, the National Institutes of Health did not list apoptosis as an area of research interest….In 1993 grant funding for projects whose title mentioned the word nearly doubled over the 1992 figure, and in 1994 grant funding doubled again. (Stein, “Pholus”)
While this phenomenology of a quantum entanglement (scientifically identified through subject as “Alice & Bob”) reveals the connection between the outer (astronomical) discoveries and inner (cellular) discoveries, “intentional cell death” actually reflects the circumstances, as well as the ethical issues surrounding Pholus’ death. If he let in the visitor and surrendered to his demands to open the holiday wine, was that not a form of intentional death?
In this scenario, the unconditional surrender of the ego amounts to death, not only of ego but the physical body:
The myth is reflected in the functions of a protein called Ubiquitin, which seems to start the process of cell-death; but it was not until Pholus’ discovery that the term Apoptosis burst into the medical lexicon. The arrow that killed Pholus was poisoned and yet was responsible for his transformation as the shadow “cloak” of humanity. Pholus’ “Gift” is a mythical reflection of nitric oxide, the first toxic gas discovered to be an essential neurotransmitter, a biochemical messenger that enables nerve cells to communicate with each other (Stein).
The scientific discovery was concurrent with the astronomical discovery. This reflected the inner/outer dichotomy/integration of the Mobius strip. Moreover, these chemical examples of conversion were prescient to the 2014 scientific breakthrough of the quibit speaking to one another across a distance.
Fear is the border between the known and unknown, the horizon where Venus rises and sets as the brightest star. This place of the in-between, the erotic connection between the opposites of conscious/unconscious is where life is, for there is nothing like primal fear to be fully engaged in the body. The space of uncertainty is where we can be free from neurosis, and yet this state of grace is what neurosis hates the most. Dufourmantelle identified neurosis as compensation between libido (urge) and the necessity of the real.
The process of dealing and compromising has secondary benefits; the subject cannot relate to past experience inequity, this makes the middle point of the erotic tension between the opposites of past/future, forward/backward as the zone of the Real. Ronell’s understanding of the language of addiction as a repetition in search of the traces in-between means the subject would prefer to pay a very high price to remain on known grounds: “Even a bad experience, would be preferred unknown” (Ronell 2012).
“You say, the price is too high, but it isn’t in regards to what is unexpected; seen by the unconscious as worse, not recognized,” Dufourmantelle said. “Lacan puts it in another way–– that I put in empirical terms––the signifiers of the Big Other, as we embody the language, are like Marx on a page that could not be erased. Everything that you wanted to say every minute would have to do with those fixed signifiers. What he calls the master signifiers – that is what calls for repetition.”
Lacan’s Other as language makes sense because of the grammatical linearity of object following the subject (as in the female as object of the male gaze). Yet Dufourmantelle’s working through this new philosophy of conversion in her 2012 seminar tore back the deconstructive methods of her mentor to reveal the long-repressed feminine. Her penetration into the subject had uncovered an opening for the Kundalini to enter that Ronell would seize with her warrior instinct for a spontaneous overthrow of her master by classical means.
The serpent power, or the dark feminine, is an energy we can feel, but can’t see. This is what the French theorists described as: Other coming into You and You coming into the Other. She summed up the dangers that created obstacles to previous transgressors: “There is no trespassing, because there is no frontier.”
Ultimately, in trespassing the ancestral boundaries, as Pholus did with the fatal popping of the cork, the conversion has to be so radical, to compel NOT TO GO BACK. It has to the be the point of no return, an embarrassment to the ego that forces one forward, because looking back is too difficult.
The metaphor that carries through in the conversion narrative introduced by this study (APPENDIX B) is the rocket lift-off. This also has three stages: jet fuel injection, ignition and blast-off. The force is so great as to spin out, energetically, those close to you, who would want to hold you back from the crucial self-generated action leading to ultimate change.
The image of a rocket blast scorching the earth is an apt one for the sudden Kundalini awakening. Internal energy is being transformed, as in a chemical conversion. For this reason, conversion dreams frequently have to do with elevators (symbolizing the spinal chord where the Kundalini rises). From the heights, one looks down at the scorched earth left behind, strewn with discarded people and lost objects.
We have gotten a view into Rocket Woman as a depiction of a new cultural ontology. We shall see how this alluring figure transforms, complete with doppelganger, from Berlin avant-garde filmmaker Robert Bramkamp’s archeology of the rocket, inspired by Ronell, into an uber modernist protagonist of a transmedia narrative epic of the eternal return.
3.1. The Dream
The dream is not something fantastic hovering above and additional to the reality of being awake; on the contrary, that reality of the waking state is gained by limitation, by concentration and by tension of a diffuse psychical life, which is the dream-life. In a sense, the perception and memory we exercise in the dream-state are more natural than those in the waking state: there does consciousness disport itself, perceiving just to perceive, remembering just to remember, with no care for life, that is, for the action to be accomplished. But the waking state consists in eliminating, in choosing, in concentrating unceasingly the totality of the diffuse dream-life at the point where a practical problem is presented. To be awake means to will. Cease to will, detach yourself from life, disinterest yourself, and by that mere abstention you pass from the awake-self to the dream-self — less tense but more extended. The mechanism of the awake-state is, then, the more complex, more delicate and more positive of the two, and it is the awake-state, rather than the dream-state, which requires explanation.
––Bergson (Memory of the Present)
Conversion begins with a dream, the vehicle carrying the signs and symbols of our personal and collective mythology unfolding into an objective ontology of Being. By reading these signs and symbols effectively, we can bring their meaning into our “artificial life” construction. This is the process of the conversion. The art-I-facts we create along the way serve a new definition of art, as the residue of increasing our light through our personal narrative evolving from homo-generated actions.
The dream is the fuel for the rocket ship transforming desire into reality. As it propels us into outer space, or rather cyber-space, we begin to construct our identities through the weaving of flashing of insight from the flight of Kundalini.
The dream is the connection to the Real, the collective unconscious. Our bodies are the vehicle transmitters to the “artificial life” we construct with our hands, and our success is reflected by the degree to which we can aim our arrows through the tension of our body bow (my father’s metaphor for the Ubermensch gestalt).
In this manner, we have the power to direct our own life narratives, to create with real materials as a form of waking dream. Every action informed by “intuition requiring no thought” (Schirmacher 1994) means living the Schirmacher ideal of being completely aware of every action as it is lived, where every experience, in fact, is to be celebrated as an authentic reflection of the movement of the stars.
With this embodied understanding, we are on our way to discovering just how Nietzsche’s conversion process made his leap into the poet/prophet of a new modernism as the eternal return of the life/death/rebirth of the ever-present icon, the sacred marriage. Just because he was doomed to the eternal return of the same, doesn’t mean that his inner prophet, Zarathustra, wasn’t privileged to experience the difference, as a model for the collective evolution in the 21th century.
The conversion process beginning with a dream served as the opening for the two forms of transmedia depicting a 21st century epic narrative: a female creatrix who’s rocket blast of Kundalini drastically transforms her mind to create a self-reflecting philosophy of quantum uncertainty’s sourcing “arrow of time” into entanglement.
The narrative contained in the creative “excess” provides insight into the conversion process working through the projections of an idealized partnership. The art-I-facts are cast off from the grounding process of the Kundalini rooted in the median (the base of the spine) between the head and the feet. The projection of the alchemical elixir of life extracted from the Great Work onto the text, this text for example, provides a new definition for modernism: a journey of Conversion into the Aquarian archetype. In alchemy, the Elixir augmentation is known as the Multiplicatio:
Augmentation it is of the Elixer indeed,
In goodness and quantitee both for white and red
Multiplication is therefore as they doe write,
That thing that doth augment medicines in each degree,
In colour, in odour, in vertue and also in quantitee. (Ripley)
Excerpted from Hermeneutics of New Modernism by Lisa Paul Streitfeld, Atropos Press, 2015