The Sublime Object of College Admissions

This year will probably be the most stressful year of my school life. I am applying to University this November. There are still 3 months but I am frankly already worn out. I really just want to do what I love (reading Literature, writing, doing contemporary continental stuff), but instead I have to do what is needed to get into a good college. But that is just what everyone has to go through. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain.

What I have to be careful, however, is to formalize my pragmatic decision of getting-into-a-good-college-so-it’ll-be-easier-for-me-to-make-a-living-in-the-future: to turn it into a “sublime object” that has a phantasmic value in the symbolic order. To pursue it not for its content but because of its form (the form of the “good college”. as the epitome of success).

But it is easier to say than to do. Fetishistic disavowal precisely has the structure of: “I know very well, but nevertheless…”; knowledge is not a sufficient guard against ideological attachment to the “sublime object”. And the longer I act as if I value something as if I desire something for the sake of itself, the more likely will I fall into the trap. This can be seen in both the militant anti-Capitalists and the mega-Capitalists, in their obsession with capital (either positively or negatively defined) and is what we call “cognitive dissonance.” Fantasy from the Big Other can encroach upon your identity. It can become you.

Of course, we can never escape fantasy. There is no continuous reality that “makes sense” behind fantasy. At most beyond the fantasy of everyday life is the crazy world of the Wonderland. When we “traverse our fantasy” we do not arrive at something beyond. We are merely able to choose our fantasy, choose that which we wish to desire (though it has to be already a structural possibility within us before we choose). This is why “there is no sexual relationship.”

I would be painting too bleak a picture if I don’t mention that there may be moments in which we can seize the Real, to love the other qua otherness (and the world and fate—amor mundi&fati—for that matter, too). To love them unmediated by fantasy. That is beyond most of our reach (though perhaps that is what we have to strive for).

But the Real is always, nevertheless, within the coordinates of fantasy.

Warren looking back on this post on Dec. 16, 2022: I think the past me was super right. And I also think that this mindset is the only thing that I really have going for me in college, when I don’t have crushing advantages in terms of intelligence or diligence.

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