Plaing Games with Oneself

Svetlana Gusarova. What makes consciousness create the double? 
Viktor Mazin. The double is a projection of the self. There can be no self without the double. Freud used this fundamental tenet for introducing narcissism as a normal aspect of the human psyche. As distinct from the common notion of narcissism, in Freud’s view it is not something bad, pathologic or abnormal but rather a necessary and imminent phase of human development. It is narcissism that is a source for the formation of our self-conception. 

SG. In the relationships between a subject and his or her double, who depends on whom and to what extent?
VM. If the double does not influence its subject, it is not a double at all. It just does not exist. All narcissistic stories end in tragedy. The relationships between a person and his or her double are paranoiac in nature. And that is the problem. The two main symptoms of paranoia include the rec- ognition of oneself as a unique individual and, paradoxically, the discovery of one’s double, which undermines one’s unique- ness. An eerie double can deal the subject a deathblow. One can think of the Chapman brothers’ work “Black Nazissus” (1997). The other, by accumulating my “self” outside myself, supersedes me and becomes my pursuer. Now we approach the second symptom of paranoia – the mania of persecution. 

SG. At times artists deliberately create their doubles.
VM. When we are talking about the double an encounter with it is always something uncanny, unconscious and unexpected. If an artist deliberately creates his or her double then it relates to a totally different phenomenon. I even doubt that it can be referred to as the double. It is worth mentioning that each person contains multiple potential selves which allow a variety of identity formation paths. For example, Vladik Mamyshev-Monroe ventured into different formation scenarios through impersonation. From the psychoanalytic perspective his performances were not doubles but each of them to a certain extent reflected the artist’s self. 

SG. Is it a desire to conceal or, on the contrary, reveal something, that lies behind the creation of the double?
VM. Both. One tries to dispose of one’s double but at the same time brings it out, thus hiding oneself away. This is how one plays games with oneself. 

DI #6-2017


January 18, 2018