Jonathan’s body wavered in the air, shimmering, and began to go transparent. ‘Don’t let them spread silly rumours about me, or make me a god. O.K., Fletch? I’m a seagull. I like to fly, maybe ..’
– Jonathan Livingstone Seagull
I thought the above quote from Richard Bach’s story would make a colorful introduction to the third and final part of what Lacan considered the psychic structure — a dimension he called, “The Imaginary.” The imaginary develops from a child’s recognition of herself in a mirror. The still uncoordinated child contrasts this self-experience with the apparently whole self in a mirror, and the resulting tension is resolved by identifying with the image. “[T]his primary identification with the counterpart is what forms the Ego. … This identification also involves the ideal ego which functions as a promise of future wholeness sustaining the Ego in anticipation.”
Such a sense of wholeness can be very comforting in times of stress, and a difficult illusion to dispel if not counteracted by proper socialization early in the child’s development. (Western culture, especially in the past half-century, has tended to feed these illusions with such stories as Bach’s — “I am a perfect, unlimited gull!”)
Unfortunately, the world is paying dearly to sustain these illusions, as photographer Chris Jordan in his new film Midway demonstrates.