Mar 272007

Implicit in the Quadripod is a relationship between the what-is-going-on (wigo) of journeys across the railway network, and the what-is-Really-going-on (wiRgo) of the United Kingdom as a thing-in-itself.  This relationship between wigo and wiRgo is a relationship to a ‘more’ that is only indirectly knowable by the traveller through their experience of the journey across the railway network.  The the characteristics of this relationship is a metaphor for Freudian drive functioning [1], and is important because it gives us a different way of understanding what an ‘object’ is in psychoanalytic terms, enabling us to clarify the distinction between the Kleinian object and the Lacanian symptom.

Consider the following matrices, in which a traveller has chosen a particular itinerary to satisfy a demand of theirs for a particular journey, and this itinerary involves booking journeys along a number of train routes:

The matrix of all possible train routes describes each train route as a journey between stations.  The particular train routes relevant to the traveller’s journey are shown, for which some of the stations are unique, and some shared.  The shared stations are where it is possible for a traveller to change from one route to another.

The traveller’s drive for satisfaction[2] is expressed as a demand to see England, the aim[3] of this particular itinerary being to satisfy this drive by enabling the traveller to see England by train.  But reaching this aim is constrained by the available train routes, which can be understood as a structural ‘gap’ representing itineraries that are not possible, for example travelling directly from route F to route C.  The routes that cannot be taken represent a ‘hole’ in the set of all possible routes between stations, corresponding to ways of seeing England that are not possible. The ‘rim’[4] of this hole define a ‘gap’, and the itinerary constructed to bridge this gap in order to meet the traveller’s aim is an ‘object’[5] – an approximation to seeing England that supports the aim but that can never fully satisfy it.

The structural ‘gap’ is therefore a way of describing the particular way in which the experiencing of England itself is limited, the four terms describing how the particular relation to the object is constructed to approximate to an overcoming of this limitation [6], thus describing the way the traveller’s drive for satisfaction is structured. [7]

The particular formation of the ‘object’ in these terms is therefore symptomatic of the structural gaps in the underlying routes across the network, as well as saying something about what is satisfying for the traveller.

As a supplier of railway networks, I may therefore want to ensure that travellers stay on my network as long as possible by creating gaps.  As a regulator of railway networks interested in improving the quality of the traveller’s experience, I may want to minimise gaps in order to maximise the variety of travel experiences possible.

[1] The reference is to The Deconstruction of the Drive in Lacan’s Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis.
[2] Drang, thrust – the tendency to discharge
[3] Ziel, the aim
[4] Quelle, the source – the gap defined by a rim-like structure
[5] Objekt, the object
[6] i.e. sublimated
[7] We have already seen how three ‘asymmetries’ are implicit in this quadripod understanding of drive.