Behind our computer screens we are all cyborgs: through fantasy we can understand our involvement in virtual worlds.
Cyberspace is first and foremost a mental space. Therefore we need to take a psychological approach to understand our experiences in it. In Interface Fantasy, Andre Nusselder uses the core psychoanalytic notion of fantasy to examine our relationship to computers and digital technology. Lacanian psychoanalysis considers fantasy to be an indispensable "screen" for our interaction with the outside world; Nusselder argues that, at the mental level, computer screens and other human-computer interfaces incorporate this function of fantasy: they mediate the real and the virtual. Interface Fantasy illuminates our attachment to new media: why we love our devices; why we are fascinated by the images on their screens; and how it is possible that virtual images can provide physical pleasure. Nusselder puts such phenomena as avatars, role playing, cybersex, computer psychotherapy, and Internet addiction in the context of established psychoanalytic theory. The virtual identities we assume in virtual worlds, exemplified best by avatars consisting of both realistic and symbolic self-representations, illustrate the three orders that Lacan uses to analyze human reality: the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real. Nusselder analyzes our most intimate involvement with information technology-the almost invisible, affective aspects of technology that have the greatest impact on our lives. Interface Fantasy lays the foundation for a new way of thinking that acknowledges the pivotal role of the screen in the current world of information. And it gives an intelligible overview of basic Lacanian principles (including fantasy, language, the virtual, the real, embodiment, and enjoyment) that shows their enormous relevance for understanding the current state of media technology.
Andre Nusselder is a Dutch philosophical writer and lecturer. Mladen Dolar taught for 20 years in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he now works as a Senior Research Fellow. He is the author of a number of books, most recently (with Slavoj Zizek) Opera's Second Death. Alenka Zupancic, a Slovenian psychoanalytic theorist and philosopher, teaches at the European Graduate School and is a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and the Arts. She is the author of The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Two and The Odd One In: On Comedy, both in the Short Circuits series, published by the MIT Press. Slavoj Zizek, a philosopher and cultural critic, is Senior Researcher in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University, and International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at the University of London. He is the author of more than thirty books, including Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture, The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity, The Parallax View, The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic (with John Milbank), and Zizek's Jokes (Did you hear the one about Hegel and negation?), these five published by the MIT Press.