The “not-all” man (comic series) is interesting in that, while it brings up important issues, seems to miss something that is indicated in their name: the logic of the “non-all.”
“A second misreading consists in rendering obtuse the sting of the formulas of sexuation by way of introducing a semantic distinction between the two meanings of the quantifier “all”: according to this misreading, in the case of the universal function, “all” (or “not-all”) refers to a singular subject (x), and signals whether “all of it” is caught in the phallic function; whereas the particular exception “there is one…” refers to the set of subjects and signals, whether within this set “there is one” who is (or is not) entirely exempted from the phallic function. The feminine side of the formulas of sexuation thus allegedly bears witness to a cut that splits each woman from within: no woman is entirely exempted from the phallic function, and for that very reason, no woman is entirely submitted to it, i.e., there is something in each woman that resists the phallic function. In a symmetric way, on the masculine side, the asserted universality refers to a singular subject (each male subject is entirely submitted to the phallic function) and the exemption to the set of male subjects (‘there is one’ who is entirely exempted from the phallic function). In short, since one man is entirely exempted from the phallic function, all others are wholly submitted to it, and since no woman is entirely exempted from the phallic function, none of them is also wholly submitted to it. In the one case, the splitting is externalized: it stands for the line of separation that, within the set of “all men”, distinguishes those who are caught in the phallic function from the ‘one’ who is exempted from it; in the other case, it is internalized: every singular woman is split from within, part of her is submitted to the phallic function and part of her exempted from it.
However, if we are to assume fully the true paradox of Lacan’s formulas of sexuation, one has to read them far more literally: woman undermines the universality of the phallic function by the very fact that there is no exception in her, nothing that resists it. […]
Suffice to recall a political leader-what is the ultimate support of his charisma? The domain of politics is by definition incalculable, unpredictable; a person stirs up passionate reactions without knowing why; the logic of transference cannot be mastered, so one usually refers to the magic touch, to an unfathomable je ne sais quoi which cannot be reduced to any of the leader’s actual features-it seems as if the charismatic leader dominates this (x), as if he pulls the strings where the Other of the symbolic order is incapacitated. The situation is here homologous to the common notion of God as a person criticized by Spinoza: in their endeavour to understand the world around them by way of formulating the network of causal connections between events and objects, people sooner or later arrive at the point at which their understanding fails, encounter a limit, and God (conceived as an old bearded wiseman, etc.) merely gives body to this limit-we project into the personalized notion of God the hidden, unfathomable cause of all that cannot be understood and explained via a clear causal connection.
The first operation of the critique of ideology is therefore to recognize in the fascinating presence of God the filler of the gaps in the structure of our knowledge, i.e., the element in the guise of which the lack in our positive knowledge acquires positive presence. And our point is that it is somewhat homologous with the feminine “not-all”: this not-all does not mean that woman is not entirely submitted to the Phallus; it rather signals that she sees through the fascinating presence of the Phallus, that she is able to discern in it the filler of the inconsistency of the Other. […]
One can see now, how the logic of the formulas of sexuation ultimately coincides with that of public power and its inherent transgression: In both cases, the crucial feature is that the subject is effectively ‘in’ (caught in the phallic function, in the web of power) only and precisely insofar as he does not fully identify with it but maintains a kind of distance towards it (posits an exception to the universal phallic function; indulges in the inherent transgression of the public Law), and, on the other side, the system (of public Law, of phallic economy) is effectively undermined by the very unreserved identification with it. Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption tackles with all stringency this problem apropos of the paradoxes of prison life. The commonplace about prison life is that I am effectively integrated into it, ruined by it, when my accommodation to it is so overwhelming that I can no longer stand or even imagine freedom, life outside prison; so that my release brings about a total psychic breakdown, or at least gives rise to a longing for the lost safety of prison life. The actual dialectic of prison life, however, is somewhat more refined. Prison effectively destroys me, attains a total hold over me, precisely when I do not fully consent to the fact that I am in prison but maintain a kind of inner distance towards it, stick to the illusion that real life is elsewhere, and all the time indulge in daydreaming about life outside, about nice things that are waiting for me after my release or escape. I thereby get caught in the vicious cycle of fantasy, so that when eventually I am released, the grotesque discord between fantasy and reality breaks me down. The only true solution is therefore fully to accept the rules of prison life and then, within the universe governed by these rules, to work on a way to beat them. In short, inner distance and daydreaming about life elsewhere effectively enchains me to prison, whereas full acceptance of the fact that I am really there, bound by the prison rules, opens up a space for true hope.” – Slavoj Zizek