The true utopia is the belief that the existing global system can reproduce itself indefinitely; the only way to be truly “realistic” is to think what, within the coordinates of this system, cannot but appear as impossible (363).
The “Beautiful Souls” are the enemy. They are the ones who constantly bemoan their own fate and the fallen state of humanity. All the while though, they remove themselves from the vision of discord. Their hearts are pure—it is the world that is corrupt. We know, however, that these “Beautiful Souls” are the true problem: they are the ones who “really believe” that no matter how bad the system is or will become, it will continue to survive. Its survival is dependent upon this disavowal and divestment of negativity from the Beautiful Soul onto the corrupt world at large. It is through the deliberate erasure of their own participation in “corruption” that the “Beautiful Souls” spur on the current system. Their innocence is not radical: it is ironic.
How are we to think, think through, count, and locate the “impossibilities” of the current system? Here are four axioms:
- The impossible is thinkable.
The unthinkable is possible.
That which is thought is either Impossible or Possible.
What is either Impossible or Possible only comes to be so in the (de)termination of the Act.
The meaning of the word “possible” here means to be actual, to have a positive existence, not just in thought, but in “reality.” Any phenomena that we label “possible” appears (i.e. is counted) on a line of positive values. Thus the “impossible” is that which the system places on a line of negative values. The easiest way to visualize this is a simple line that counts -1, 0, 1: all that is “impossible” will be plotted somewhere between -1 and 0 and all that is “possible” will be plotted somewhere between 0 and 1.
The “unthinkable” is of a different order: it does not rest on phenomenal possibility. For something to be “unthinkable” means that it has no representation in language: it is what escapes symbolization. What is unthinkable is also traumatic,
“not in some vague, trendy way (a whiff of melancholy here, some blurry photos there) but in a technical Freudian sense—trauma defined essentially as the slippage or non-synchronicity of experience: the belatedness or Nachträglichkeit [literally: “deferred action”] which turns the event into a missed event and time itself into a chronic process of self-overreaching” (Comay).
Indeed, all of the actions we might take to improve life for everybody are also seemingly impossible from within the system in which we currently live: we could all stop driving cars, or buying plastic water bottles, or paying bankers and politicians—these are exactly the kind of events that would result in an unprecedented “trauma” (one only needs to see how governments worldwide rushed to aid the failing automobile and financial sectors, while “climate change” took a backseat …).
The thought alone is not enough. It never has been. We must, as Lacan says and Zizek has repeated, not only fantasize the “impossible,” we must also “traverse the fantasy.” Traversing the fantasy is analogous to the notion of “fidelity to the event.” By following the fantasy through to the end we arrive at a place where we can see whether the world that was imagined belongs to the order of the Impossible or the Possible.
Traversing the fantasy, or, determining an idea’s level of “possibility,” is the thing that the Beautiful Souls will never attempt. It would shatter their comfort, their superiority over the corrupt world they do not deign to contaminate themselves with. Even if our ideas fail, success will come in the form of having experienced, first-hand, the unthought and impossible potential of something that could have been.