Tag Archives: Pop


Buchloh’s notion that appropriation is confiscatory and re-enacts a devaluation the signifier has already suffered through commodification ignores the dimension of appropriation that connects it with speech. Speech is always an appropriation, since it relies on a language the speaker did not invent, and yet the subject is able to make use of it to gain recognition for its singularity.

The emptying out of the signifier that Buchloh claims appropriation repeats is actually the condition for the signifier’s “capture” by another discourse. Appropriation does not repeat this “depletion.” It takes advantage of it to direct the depleted signifier toward a different connotation. The anology here is to the use that dreams make of the day-residues. As Lacan, following Freud, tells us,

These [day-residues] are, within the dream, the stray forms which have become for the subject of minimal importance—and are emptied out of their meaning. … The signifying material … is constituted out of forms which have forfeited their own meaning and are taken up again within a new organization, thanks to which another meaning finds a means of gaining expression.

What is involved in this oneiric appropriation is a discourse that “takes hold of a discourse that is apparent” to gain recognition for otherwise inexpressible desires. This desiring dimension of appropriation is what Buchloh leaves out, or, more accurately, only considers when the desire he detects meets his political criteria.  Every other kind of desire eludes him. When he claims that Pop is a ritualized re-enactment of the devaluing of the signifier, all he is revealing is his devaluation of the desires that Pop delivers as contraband.