Trigger Warning!

I am reminded by a facebook friend and colleague that a trigger warning is often itself a trigger, and that a trigger, in the end, is the brutality of the signifier.

What is a trigger, ultimately? A trigger is what represents one traumatic subject for another trigger. It has become increasingly obvious to me that trigger warning culture attempts to fill the lack of a trigger through the demand for a trigger warning – and this, finally, functions as a means to represent trauma which anyway avoids ever being represented adequately.

What is a trigger warning? A trigger warning is a demand or else it is a response to a demand. The trigger warning is a signifier of the Other’s awareness, knowledge, or sensitivity, and it stands in place of the trauma of lack. Thus, a professor adequately demonstrates his profound awareness of the subject when he prefaces discussions with trigger warnings.

The trigger warning triggers inversely through the safeguarding of the authority of the Other. Consequently, the subject relapses against subjectivation precisely by renewing the contract between him or herself and the Other.

The problem is not with trigger warnings but with the demand. Is it any wonder that trigger warnings tend to be demanded toward those who are most often the closest allies: Marxist professors, gender studies professors, anarchists, activists, and so on. The demand is seldom waged to medical doctors, presidents, politicians, police officers, and so on. To put it in rather traditional Lacanian terms: the demand for a trigger warning is a demand to those from whom we desire to be loved.

This is not to suggest that we should or should not do away with trigger warnings. This is simply an analysis – and a limited one at that.


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