By Rodney Needham
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To put it in somewhat simplified terms: fantasy does not mean that, when I desire a strawberry cake and cannot get it in reality, I fantasize about eating it; the problem is rather, how do I know that I desire a strawberry cake in the first place? This is what fantasy tells me. This role of fantasy hinges on the fact that, as Lacan would have it, there is no universal formula or matrix guaranteeing a harmonious sexual relationship with one’s partner: every subject has to invent a fantasy of his own, a ‘private’ formula for the sexual relationship.
At its most radical, technology does not designate a complex network of machines and activities, but the attitude towards reality which we assume when we are engaged in such activities: technology is the way reality discloses itself to us in contemporary times. The paradox of technology as the concluding moment of Western metaphysics is that it is a mode of enframing which poses a danger to enframing itself: the human being reduced to an object of technological manipulation is no longer properly human; it loses the very feature of being ecstatically open to reality.
This fact offers yet another example of the split between reality – the social universe of established customs and opinions in which we dwell – and the traumatic meaningless brutality of the Real: in the film, John is a ‘realist,’ fully immersed in ordinary reality, so when the co-ordinates of this reality dissolve, his entire world breaks down; Claire is an hysteric who starts to question everything in a panic, but nonetheless avoids complete psychotic breakdown; and the depressed Justine goes on as usual because she is already living in a melancholic withdrawal from reality.