Covid-19 and the impossibility of floating freely in our undisturbed balance

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.

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