Saturday, September 11, 2004

anecdote, revisited

Reluctant to post yet another block quote, but because this is a theme that especially intrigues me:

{"...another anecdote of disencounter, told by Derrida himself. Lacan is quoted as saying to René Girard, in Baltimore: "Yes, yes, but the difference between him (Derrida) and myself is that he has nothing to do with the people who suffer". Derrida considers this as an extremely imprudent expression, something Lacan could not say since he had no way of knowing about it, about the suffering of the people he, Derrida, dealt with. Lacan could not even guess what happened to Derrida in transference, denying him a place as a sujet supposé savoir.

Derrida is right, whoever deals with writing must also deal with suffering, because writing is a confrontation with death, and must also answer for the transferences he supports from his place... And, nonetheless, Lacan is also right: because what represents a hiatus in our understanding, a radical difference in their respective practices, is that the psychoanalyst must deal with the problem of psychosis.

If in the literary field, the endless reading that repeats itself as a mirror reflecting in another mirror, opens up to infinity the possibility of new readings. What happens when in the subject the cork that can clog the endless sliding of the signifiers is lacking, that situation that is the experience of madness itself?.

Such is the role played by the father's name that must, in Lacan's work, replace the mother's desire in the paternal metaphor. And when this function fails and delirium unleashes itself, it is the delusional metaphor the one that must clog the void, to stop the sliding of the signifier and to allow a process of restoration of a reality, as personal as it may be.

In this sense, it may be fitting to point out that Lacan, even in his early work, since the 11th Seminar, where he proposed the model of the fish trap, where the object a places itself in the hole that enables its opening and closing, that is, the temporary pulsation of the unconscious. And when, later on, we find the formula of the fantasy $ a, remain of the operation of the constitution of the subject where the Real is present, the object a produces the threshold of what is able to be represented and so stops the signifier's sliding.

So, I would like to conclude this presentation with an hypothesis, that the main difference that remains in the field cultivated by Lacan and Derrida, is Lacan's elaboration of the object a, a necessary loss for the existence of the subject.

The relationship between Lacan and Derrida deserves, in its complexity, a careful study of what here is barely sketched.

Many questions remain: Is it that deconstruction and the appeal to différance can free philosophy from metaphysics? or, as is the case with Heidegger, whom, according to Derrida, remains in the field of ontology, a field he attempts to surpass, Derrida himself is trapped in the same disjunction? In a recent interview Derrida affirms that the deconstruction is the experience of the impossible. It is the definition of psychoanalysis itself, given by both, Freud and Lacan

Derrida psychoanalyst? A Lacanian Derrida?"}

full article, by Frida Saal

The final sentence is misleading, perhaps (and when is it not?). Might not deconstruction and psychoanalysis differ most significantly over conceptions of the subject? Does psychoanalysis, in the end, insist upon a certain unity - even if one that remains on the level of a "necessary fiction"? But then Derrida has of course insisted, again and again, that deconstruction is anything but a pure relativism, and that "the deconstruction of the subject in no way amounts to the dissolution of the subject."

"Freud had his ghosts, he confesses it on occasion" (Archive Fever, 89).


Matt said...

Of course not everyone fawns. For the sake of balance:

The deconstructionist wrinkle on New Criticism was the denial that a coherent meaning could ever be had. On the contrary, every reading was a misreading since language is always self-contradictory, unbound by any unified voice; hence, all efforts to pin down a meaning are doomed from the start. From such premises flows the practice of deconstruction — which amounts to teasing out secondary and tertiary senses of individual lines, words, or even syllables to show how a text contradicts what it seems clearly to mean.

For example, if I assert that my first name is Mark, the deconstructionist would call into question that claim. He might point out that, on the day I was born, before I was ever "Mark," I was "Baby Goldblatt" — thus the claim that my first name is Mark, in a temporal sense, is false. He might also note that, in terms of social priority, "Goldblatt" is the name by which I'm known at the payroll department at my college, and the name by which my students address me. The deconstructionist might then mention that the word "Mark," if stripped of its nominative sense, connotes a sign by which ownership is claimed — i.e., to make one's mark. It is thus a territorial signifier, perhaps intended by me to carve out a political space in which I can conduct my relationships on a familiar basis; claiming it as my "first" name is thus inevitably a political act.

If this strikes you as "rigorous" thinking, then you, too, can be a humanities professor. Still, such foolishness has a decided upside in academia. When your goal is to deconstruct rather than read — that is, to hunt down internal contradictions rather than to reconstruct what a text means — then you can set aside the logic of observation and inference and take up word play to show how every previous critic has been wrong . . .

Matt said...

That was a joke, of course.