Pop Tarts: The M(0)ther Sucklering
of Snack Food
By Bijou Ubu
The name itself is suggestive of skankiness, a Britney Spears, now
that we really know her--or, before she became the Ironbody of Pop,
Madonna. The “Pop” implies, also, separation, (O)theredness,
the expulsion of the ego (leggo my ego!) From the warm matrix, the mirror-stage
finish of the toaster. Lacan writes:
I am led, therefore to regard the function of the mirror-stage as
a particular case of the function of the imago, which is
to establish a relation between the organism and its reality--or,
as they say, between the Innenwelt and the Umwelt.
("Mirror Stage" 736)
But from the imago of the Pop Tart the ejection of the pop--the popping
up--shines itself, mirror on mirror, in the formulaically 409ed surface,
producing in its turn a simulacrum of the fading M(0)ther-self unit.
According to Adwarno:
The separation of the up-startitude is fundamentally ecclesiastical:
a sending-out, an anti-Edenic cast-(away)ration to the epistemological
primitive of the unmothered, (442)
or rather the unM(0)thered. A Barthesian devagination takes over. Uploading
of sudden angst in a shower of crusted crumb and icing, not to mention
what happens to the icing. It’s just, as they say, the icing on
the tart, but here, something more, the Derridean supplementation of
the creation of self, that which reflects back on the shined superego
of the surface of the toaster/breast: the very weaning itself, in other
words, the “personality.” Writes deSaussage: “The
signified de-dignifies itself by its social constructivism” (992).
Sign is superego by definition, and the Pop Tart by its popation, by
its popitude even, always already was the signified signifier, the sickly-sweet
topping on the crust.
And Tart here comes back into play: the essence of the Pop Tart is
not the popping, though in that it is created, but the Tart, the fructified
filling, the anteriorized interior. If this is best seen in Britney
Spears, it becomes obvious that the gelling of the filling is signification
and sign as well as well--there is no escaping it: the ego is sutured
into the crust by its own fruit-filling its separation into the self,
the deep suffering of cast-(away)ration, the stage mirrored again in
the shiny surface of the toaster. And so it wasn’t substance at
all: there is no id, save the electricity coursing through the toaster’s
hot little wires, the kinesthetic urge upward when the Tart flings forth.
All else is ego and superego in play; the self itself just is jouissance
of the anterior/interior icing/crust/filling in the M(0)ther toaster’s
shined surface. It is, in (0)ther words, Spearsian: the reflected deflection
of substance into the surface of affectation: Pepsi, Timberlake, churning
sonic overproduced pap--the self as feedback.
The “pop” part, as in Pop Art, of the Pop Tart shows superego
as dis-played post-(0)thering, sign signed everywhere, a sign of the
very timeliness of the self. As the pop is the separation and the reflection
back, suturing and in-crustation, the weaning is also the keening, the
announcement of a new existence, or rather of non-existence, a new surface
reflection into being. From the recently discovered “Other”
Writings of Jacques Lacan:
But surely there is some source to the non-self self that is created
by the interference patterns between the mirrored and de-mystified
social creation we call “man”! And yet why should there
be? What man can he be other than Othered, than that alien from which
his mother is removed, the extraterrestrial expelled from the terra
cognita of the mother’s bosom? (789)
We can’t not help but see what’s not not there: the glare
from the shining surface of the toaster is too great, the coloration
of the sprinkles that (A)dorn(o) us is too gaudy. It’s a matter
of the M(0)thering we all get by definition, by the defining process
of becoming into being as selfed signs. So it is both the semiotic and
etymological as well as the ecclesiastical: a species birth as well
as an “individual” one: “Thus to break out of the
circle of the Innenwelt into the Umwelt generates
the inexhaustible quadrature of the ego’s verifications”
("Mirror Stage" 736). How else could it be? A totally shared
aloneness showing the impossibility of “man” as anything
other than social construction, other than tart with sweet fruit filling,
as, not surface over substance, but surface over surface, crosstalk
generated in the steam of the open toaster, weaned from the breast of
the all-encompassing langue. Again deSaussage: “It is there the
sign stops being, when it is seen to be a mere point in the matrix”
(92), a mere speck of sprinkle reflected in the surface of the mirrored
toaster, staged to erupt into the “light” of “day,”
the “air” into which the signed signifies itself for Spears’
career, fading, of course, as the iterations continue. She is a word
said over and over again, a sense cloyed with too much sweet filling,
a Pop Tart whose scent lingers on the air long after it has been consumed,
used up, digested. It is turned back into energy as the id or de-posited
as (ph)at on the wayside of sign. And multiple iterations there are.
The Spearsian paradigm disappears as soon as it appears, the sign-signifier
hegemony breaks down the more it is reflected, the light fades, and
the bosoms themselves disappear into the meta-matrix, the immortal utterance
of the langue.
In-crustation it appears, will not save us, but salvation
is perhaps chimeric: salivation knows us better, returning us to energy,
re-id-erating us, re-reflecting us from the mirrored “real”
to generation next.
Adworno, Teddie. Jesus and Genes: The Informatics of Species-Being.
Boston: Beantown Press, 1986.
deSaussage, Fermilab. An Essay Concerning the Semiotics of Cultural
Constructivism 1946. Trans. Hans-Peter Pumpkinesser. Purewater:
P-Water UP, 1997.
Lacan, Jacques. “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function
of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience.” Critical
Theory Since 1965. Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle eds. Tallahassee:
Florida State UP, 1986.
- - - The “Other” Writings of Jacques Lacan. Trans.
Douglas S. Windbagg. Muskogee: Purefancy Press, 2002.