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Postmodern Village
est. 1999
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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.

Works Cited

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.