Batman Begins is a story of an hysteric.. Batman must never be satisfied. He must be and remain the cause of the other’s desire, unable as he is, to come to terms with the other’s desire.
As a child, Bruce wants the arrowhead from the girl. The mother has the maternal phallus, but Bruce wants it back. He wants to be the cause of her desire. What he sees after realizing she has no penis are the bats, which then become the fetish object. The bats, reminding him of that first trauma of finding the mother without a phallus, foster a love/hate relationship. He is tormented with guilt of feeling complicit in the murder of the primal father, and with disgust at having discovered his penis-less mother.
When Alfred insists that Bruce must maintain his “father’s house”, he is attempting to reinforce the already stern name-of-the-father. Bruce bristles at this, referring to the house as a “mausoleum.”
Batman is tormented endlessly with the guilt of believing to be the cause of his father’s death. The underlying desire to kill the primal father, which never physically manifested itself, (as it usually doesn’t) still festers in his psyche as an authoritarian superego. Because of the guilt of wanting to kill his father, he hysterically and paradoxically identifies with both the criminal and the victim. When Bruce and his female partner argue over what constitutes “justice” and “revenge,” we see that “justice” is the symbolic, and “revenge” is the real. The symbolic order functions, as it does for us all, as a useful lie for Bruce. Justice is a social construct whose motor force is the revenge of the repressed (not in the Lacanian sense). Aside from being a primal quest for revenge, there is a thinly veiled desire for the other’s desire. Batman loves to be chased by cops, who desire him. Alas, he identifies with both the criminal and the victim.
Batman tells the hobo with the money to “be careful who sees you with that.” The hobo asks who he is referring to, to which Batman replies, “everyone.” Through transference, he narcissistically perceives the hobo as a hysteric, assuming that he, like Batman, wants to be the cause of the other’s desire. Money functions as desire-qua-pure-representation, being that it functions as a signified with no signifier.
When Batman enters the League of Shadows, he experiences a dangerous encounter with the real. By refusing to kill the convicted murderer they have, he is restrained by the-name-of-the-father. He is just barely able to repress his desire, the real. Of course, he pays a hefty price for this bravery. He ends up wrecking havoc in the warehouse, igniting an explosion within the realm of the imaginary. This gives rise to his neurotic symptom, his hysteria. He purposely makes new enemies, becomes the cause of their desire, all in the name of the father, which instituted the symbolic order which sustains the construct of “justice,” to which Batman desperately clings.
The blue flower is an objet petit. Bruce desires it, brings it to the real, to the place wherein the League of Shadows resides. It belongs to the real. Now its hallucinogenic properties will be used to manifest the real in the city. The real is threatening to destroy Gotham, which is the symbolic. The objet petit has been granted too much clout.
Batman comes face to face with the real when he swordfights his opponent on the ice. He tangles with it, trying to control it, and trying to satisfy his desire. He eventually conquers it, satisfies his desire; or so he thinks: “you’ve sacrificed your footing for a killing stroke.” There is quite, literally slippage, a slippage of metonymy, and Batman falls through the ice. Desire will not be satisfied.
His status as a hysteric is solidified when he sees the bat in the corner of the ceiling. He comes to fully identify with the fetish object, and becomes firmly hystericized.
The older criminal, the kingpin, assumes the position of the oppressive father. He shows Batman “reality.” He has Batman’s ass kicked for desiring the way he does.
The woman of Batman’s desire (insofar as he desires her and is desired by her) is infused with The Thing, when she is exposed to the hallucinogen. Batman must administer the antidote, and re-route her desire into him. He suddenly becomes very solicitous to her, as her desire is directed elsewhere.
Batman’s desire takes flight when the SWAT team becomes chasing him. He repels them, as they get too close. His usage of bats to get rid of them points to the fetishization of his desire: He cathects onto the bats and shuns them. He runs from them, the manifestation of his neurosis bordering on rape fantasy.
Batman mentions that he “doesn’t have the luxury of friends,” and yet, goes to great lengths to keep the water supply from being poisoned. He doesn’t want the populace appropriated by The Thing, as their desire would be directed elsewhere. He doesn’t have the luxury of friends, because he doesn’t want friends, but courters.
The man who trains Batman points out that it was his father’s own fault that he died. He was the primal father, and simply desired too much. He incurred the wrath of his subjects, and the [des]ire of Batman.
Ironically, when the populace is poisoned with the hallucinogen, Batman has to fend them off. They come to desire him too much, they get too close to the hysterical Batman. He must stabilize them, have them admire/desire him from a distance.
“I won’t kill you but I don’t have to save you.” Here once again is manifested Batman’s desire for an unsatisfied desire, his marriage with metonymy. This time, however, Batman comes to terms with the other’s desire. Batman gets rid of his guilt of wanting to kill the primal father. He doesn’t kill him, but instead, ignores him. The austerity of the paternal metaphor is attenuated to the extent that his neurosis is cured. He comes to term with his own irrational guilt and with the other’s desire. The old villain, who assumes the position of the tyrannical father, is ousted in the end. Batman “bought all the shares” of the company: He has appropriated the formerly oppressive symbolic order and properly socialized his libidinal economy, allocating his desire in such a way that he can come to terms with the other’s desire.
A pivotal point in coming to terms with the other's desire is when his female friend gives him back the arrowhead. "Happy birthday." Bruce relives the trauma of having to provide the maternal phallus, but it is given back to him just as it was first taken from him on his birth-day (the day of his birth). His earlier attempt to desire, thwarted by symbolic castration and the hysterical mother, now finds itself situated in a more stable position.
Bruce covers the well, the hole in the real. He has done away with his symptom, strengthened the symbolic, and kisses the girl. He patches up the hole in the real which has perpetuated his desire for an unsatisfied desire. He is finally able to get close to her. He has come to terms with the other’s desire. When his female partner points out that his real face is the mask, she is indicating that his ego-ideal, entrenched as it is in the symbolic, is the delusion. It is the lie, the façade of justice to which Batman panders. In the real, there is no justice, only desire, only revenge.
As of Monday, I need not be so stressed.