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February 23, 2006

The dialectics of Alyson Hannigan


The other day I claimed that to Marilyn Manson, Dita VonTeese was a better approximation of Rose McGowan than Rose McGowan herself. "How postmodern", I said. I was joking about the postmodern bit, of course. It would be a mistake to think of VonTeese only as one of Philip K. Dick's replicants; a copy with no original, its makers so devoid of empathy they are not up to the work of authenticity. Such is only to beg the question: how is it that a gynoid replicant is fascinating in a way that "the real thing" cannot be. The ontological status of McGowan is not at issue but rather Manson's capacity to cathect the same object of desire though that desire is embodied in different persons. The movement of Manson's interest from one placeholder to another suggests an attachment to particular quirks of appearance - dark hair, bustiness and a porcelain complexion - and in an analytical context these idiosyncracies would be important to note. For my purposes, however, it is the structure of these sliding attachments and not their particularity that speaks to why I can't get a date. Hence, my focus. This movement of desire is strictly dialectical and nothing could be more Modern than that; replicants or no replicants.

I am using the term "dialectic" in its Hegelian and not its classical sense. Here thesis A becomes antithesis B which in turn becomes a synthetic AB. This synthesis of AB is not a denial of A or B but a fuller realization of the two; not a mere adding of B to A but a synergy that becomes more than the sum of its anticedents. AB is the sublation of B or, in proper Hegelese, its Aufhebung. While B is the denial of A - its contradiction - that was always already implicit in A, AB in turn is the "lifting up" of B as it has run the course of expressing this contradiction.

Take the case of Marilyn Manson:

A = a desiring attachment to Rose McGowan embodied in "not Rose McGowan";

B = the seeming attainment of Rose McGowan herself who, from the first moment she farts in bed, can no longer act as a placeholder for Manson's phantasy attachment (realized instead as an excremental monster who has taken the place of the "real" McGowan of Manson's imaginary), and;

AB = the McGowan-beyond-McGowan embodied in Dita VonTeese, whose pin-up simulation (now that's postmodern) has been sufficiently elusive to sustain Manson's desire thusfar.

VonTeese performs a femininity that is so over-the-top it may only typically be found in beards for closeted celebrities though this is not the case with Marilyn Manson as his neurosis lies elsewhere ("Gay? I wish! If I were gay there'd be no problem!"). Again, understanding Manson's particular neurosis does not help me get a date so uncovering its ontogenesis is not at issue. Suffice to say that in an analytical setting the first question would be along the lines of: Brian, describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about... your mother.

The point is Freudian: desire exists as a lack and its fulfillment is necessarily its negation. Think of a dream where you are chasing after someone, trying to get somewhere or to reach for something. The chase is often frustrated by delays or side-tracks or distractions which give the appearance of keeping you from your goal while in fact carrying out their work of maintaining desire itself. Remember those instances where the process failed and you attained your goal. It immediately transformed into something or somewhere else or, worse yet, could be recognized for the piece of crap it was. We experience a similar phenomenon in buyer's remorse, after high school graduation and in the difference between Christmas gifts under the tree and the same gifts once the wrapping paper has to be tidied up. The actually existing object is never equal to its opposite number in the imagination. Unless, that is, some means of sustaining the phantasy can be found which prevents the object from ever being fully grasped. A cheating partner, say, may inspire greater obsession than a faithful one. A distant, cold lover may provoke more protestations of, and entreaties for, love.

All of which is to say that I can (and indeed must) continue to fantasize about Alyson Hannigan and to date women who in some way resemble Alyson Hannigan to me. But this is only possible in so far as I never date Alyson Hannigan herself. To do so would be to destroy her for me and I would end up in the precise predicament that befuddled Marilyn Manson. So props to Alexis Denisof for saving me from myself. Still, there is always Winona Ryder.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at February 23, 2006 08:23 AM

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Ah yes, the dizzying catapult into the stratosphere of the sublime, followed by the precipitous crash back to the mundane by the final line... that's why I read the Flea!

Posted by: Varenius [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2006 03:53 PM