This extract from Zizek’s The Ticklish Subject pg 451 left me reflecting on the edginess which pervades public spaces at the moment, with practical co-existence in a situation of implicit (invisible) threat clearly taking a psychological toll on many of us:
This disintegration of paternal authority has two facets. On the one hand, symbolic prohibitive norms are increasingly replaced by imaginary ideals (of social success, of bodily fitness); on the other, the lack of symbolic prohibition is supplemented by the reemergence of ferocious superego figures. So we have a subject who is extremely narcissistic – who perceives everything as a potential threat to his precarious imaginary balance (take the universalisation of the logic o victim; every contact with another human being is experienced as a potential threat: if the other person smokes, if he casts a covetous glance at me, he is already hurting me); far from allowing him to float freely in his undisturbed balance, however, this narcissistic self-enclosure leaves the subject to the (not so) tender mercies of the superego injunction to enjoy.
The nagging feeling in the back of my mind longing for a return to normality, in spite of the fact I intellectually recognise this is impossible, could be characterised as a desire to return to ‘floating freely in my undisturbed balance’. But I also understand I never was floating freely in an undisturbed way. This sense of enclosure, living life within a micro-climate, was a product of a particular time and place which has now passed. If the lockdown represents the ‘new normal’ then our psychic structures will be forced to adapt to it.