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P E N UM B R ( a )
Edited by Sigi Jöttkandt and Joan Copjec
Anamnesis means remembrance or reminiscence, the collection and recollection of what has been lost, forgotten, or effaced. It is therefore a
matter of the very old, of what has made us who we are. But anamnesis is
also a work that transforms its subject, always producing something new.
To recollect the old, to produce the new: that is the task of Anamnesis.
a re.press series
Sigi Jöttkandt and Joan Copjec, editors re.press Melbourne 2013 re.press PO Box 40, Prahran, 3181, Melbourne, Australia http://www.re-press.org © the individual contributors and re.press 2013 This work is ‘Open Access’, published under a creative commons license which means that you are free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work as long as you clearly attribute the work to the authors, that you do not use this work for any commercial gain in any form whatsoever and that you in no way alter, transform or build on the work outside of its use in normal academic scholarship without express permission of the author (or their executors) and the publisher of this volume. For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. For
more information see the details of the creative commons licence at this website:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication Data Title: Penumbra / Sigi Jöttkandt and Joan Copjec (eds.).
ISBN: 9780987268242 (paperback) 9780987268259 (eBook : PDF) Series: Anamnesis.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references.
Jöttkandt, Sigi, editor.
Copjec, Joan, editor.
Dewey Number: 150.195 Contents Preface: The Original Instrument 1 Joan Copjec Introduction: Counter-Memories of the Present 7 Sigi Jöttkandt Hegel Unsutured: An Addendum to Badiou 17 Sam Gillespie The Elements of the Drive 31 Charles Shepherdson On the Proper Name as the Signifier in its Pure State 45 Russell Grigg The Splendor of Creation: Kant, Nietzsche, Lacan 51 Alenka Zupančič Lacan between Cultural Studies and Cognitivism 61 Slavoj Žižek The Enjoying Machine 85 Mladen Dolar Pierre Loves Horranges Lévinas-Sartre-Nancy: An Approach to the Fantastic in Philosophy 103 Catherine Malabou Samenes
When Love is the Law: On The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein 155 Dominiek Hoens Antigone’s Kind: The Way of Blood in Psychoanalysis 169 Petar Ramadanovic
Signifier and Letter in Kierkegaard and Lacan 265 Sigi Jöttkandt (Marxian-Psychoanalytic) Biopolitics and Bioracism 279 A. Kiarina Kordela
The “first” issue of Umbr(a) was prefaced by a brief, manifesto-like editorial in which we cited Freud’s sarcastic dismissal of Jung’s “modification” of psychoanalysis: “He has changed the hilt, and he has put a new blade into it; yet because the same name is engraved on it we are expected to regard the instrument as the original one.”1 This pointed witticism (which cut to the quick; upon reading it, Jung immediately resigned from the Psychoanalytic Association and abandoned his association with Freud and psychoanalysis altogether) was itself a citation from Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s Sudelbücher [waste books], a collection of aphoristic observations and reflections that randomly but regularly flitted through the mind of the German scientist.2 In Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, Freud had already salvaged from this Sudelbücher numerous witticisms, including the handleless, bladeless Lichtenberg knife, for serious study and had thus rendered that nonsensical, self-annihilating instrument suitable for the critical Q.E.D. position it would occupy at the close of “On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement.”3 This is the way of psychoanalysis: always seizing upon “the bait of [nonsense] to catch a carp of truth,” always rummaging through everyone’s trash (dreams, jokes, slips of the tongue, the complaints of hysterics and ranting of madmen) to discover a “royal road” to some new-where. Descartes spoke for many serious thinkers when he championed “clear and distinct ideas”;
Freud was virtually alone in occupying himself seriously with thought’s rubbish. His “Copernican Revolution” entailed not only, as is usually claimed, a de-centering of man from his conscious self, but also a de-centering of our understanding of what really mattered most to man. It is necessary to pay attention to both if one wants to hold onto the radicality and singularity of the psychoanalytic intervention. Stripping the human subject of his ballast in animal lust, that is, in instinct which—while working behind his back— acts on his behalf by propelling him toward self-preservation and of the beacon of lofty ideals of the Good and True, Freud positioned the subject in a 2 Penumbra groundless middle ground, a between that wasted the extremes. Man, he insisted, is ruled by a principle of pleasure, a principle he neither celebrated nor condemned but elaborated unblinkingly. Pleasure had been given significant roles to play in the past, but never an independent logic of its own. Raised by Freud into a principle, pleasure dethroned even death, which was forced to renounce its title as “absolute master,” and reality, which was demoted to a principle for the prolongation of pleasure. The more Freud studied this principle, the less simple pleasure became. For it was beset by a constitutive excess that rendered it as abhorrent as it was desirable; thus pleasure kept piling up paradoxes, cropping up in the most unlikely places, and diverting Freud’s attention toward the ordinary overlooked, the everyday discarded, the obscene of what had until then been thought to be proper objects of thought. In the end, Freud seemed to many to talk too much about this specific nonsense— sexual pleasure—and to find it everywhere; he produced sex in and of itself as promiscuous, wanton.
For this reason he feared he might offend the sensibilities of polite society and the scientific community and thus weaken the chances that his new science would win their respect. He soon learned, however, that the real threat lay not in the likely rejection but in the facile acceptance of psychoanalysis.
Against this background, it is instructive to read Freud’s “On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement” side by side with Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, vol. 1. The latter could be said to be doing some of Freud’s work for him, to demonstrate how the rapid dispersion of psychoanalysis led to a betrayal and distortion of its concepts, were it not for the fact that Foucault does not recognize the betrayal. That Victorian society was not reticent about sex, but talked about it endlessly, as Foucault clearly establishes, does not mean that sex became suddenly ubiquitous— or, again, promiscuous—in Freud’s sense. For, all the talk of sex, the endless discoursing about it, was a way of putting it in its assigned place; the result was a narrowing and localization of sex to certain limited practices and to a matter of individual mental and physical hygiene. From Freud’s perspective all this sexual chatter was just so much damage control, a frenzied attempt to bury the discovery of the constitutive excess of sexual pleasure, its domain-less nature and hence its refusal of localization.
Freud’s “History” approached the betrayal-via-sanitization of psychoanalytic concepts not as it manifested itself among the high priests of Victorian society, who encouraged the confession of sex in minutely clinical terms (measured, categorized doses), but among his own priestly colleagues who— although they were reticent about pronouncing the words sex and pleasure, which they preferred to translate into other terms—were guilty of the same sort of crime evidenced in Foucault’s history. Freud picked out for particular censure two colleagues, Adler and Jung, whom he labeled the “neo-Zürich” secessionists and charged them with having carefully selected “a few cultural The Original Instrument overtones from the symphony of life and […] fail[ing] to hear the mighty and primordial melody of the instincts.”4 These colleagues were in his opinion major perpetrators of the cultural plot to concoct for psychoanalysis a “family romance” in which all its major ideas of “lowly”—that is to say, sexual—origin were assigned a “higher,” more elevated pedigree.
Freud focused his attack on Adler’s popular notion of “masculine protest”—that is, the idea the both sexes recoiled from the feminine position, renouncing the passivity it demanded—in order to expose it as the sorry distortion it was. Hopelessly confusing the “biological, social, and psychological meanings of ‘masculine’ and feminine,’” the idea of masculine protest reposed on the absurd claim that “a child, whether male or female, [c]ould found the plan of its life on an original depreciation of the female sex and take the wish to be a real man as its ‘guiding line’”; and this despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to wit: “children have, to begin with, no idea of the significance of the distinction between the sexes […] the social underestimation of women is completely foreign to them.”5 This sharp reprimand will strike many of us who were too quick to understand Freud’s contention that the little girl, upon noticing “the penis of a brother or playmate, strikingly visible and of large proportions, at once recognize[s] it as the superior counterpart of their own small and inconspicuous organ” as itself such a conflation.6 Without having to accept the notion of penis envy, we can still appreciate Freud’s crucial point: the various social significances assigned to sex do not precede—nor construct—sexual difference, but are, rather, attempts to efface or manage a more disturbing, primordial difference, a kind of torsion in the sexual field, that precedes social and cultural meaning. We can also begin to see how the notion of “masculine protest” came to function as the fulcrum from which the principle of pleasure was dislodged from psychic life, how it led to the complete “ejection of sexuality from its place in mental life.” The displacement of the principle of pleasure, in favor of a principle of power, dispensed precisely with the conflictual nature of pleasure (which is constitutively afflicted with its own excess, its own beyond). The notion of “masculine protest” installed at the center of the psyche a principle of power that took into account “only those instinctual impulses which [were] agreeable to the [individual] and [were] encouraged by it…all that [was] opposed to the [individual]…[lay] beyond [its] horizon.”7 Eschewing the antagonistic principles of sex and pleasure as trifles and reaching for a “grander” and more “virile” principle, Adler robbed himself of psychoanalysis’s considerable resources. Nothing was left for him after this initial move but to adopt an old stand-by for thinking the contestations of power; Adler accepted an abstract notion of opposition, which set the individual against all that opposed it. This divided the field without disturbing it, without providing any real conditions that might require the positive exertion of power.
4 Penumbra Jung fell prey to the same charges of family romancing. His manner of side-stepping the disfiguring force of sex and pleasure was to deny the conflictual nature of drive; he opted instead for a monistic, de-sexualized conception, one that transformed the archaic, inhuman, insistent pressure that characterized Freud’s notion into an infinitely flexible form of “interest.” If wherever Freud said sex, Adler said power, wherever Freud said libido, Jung substituted
ideas that remained “mystifying and incomprehensible to wise men and fools alike.”8 Mystical ideas that, once again, divided the world in an eternal struggle between opposing terms, but left each, individually, intact.
By now we are ready to synthesize and elevate Freud’s various criticisms of the neo-Zürich school into a principle: wherever two terms are found locked together in opposition, one can be sure that a third, exorbitant term is being actively obfuscated. This third term is for psychoanalysis pleasure, understood in the paradoxical, disruptive way Freud elaborated it. Lacan later rechristened it jouissance (or “enjoying substance”) in order to draw out some of the consequences of that elaboration as much as to prevent its being overlooked. Taken alone, the discovery of the unconscious risks being mistaken for the setting up of yet another opposition—conscious versus unconscious—in which the latter, newly privileged, term operates a re-centering of the world, this time beyond consciousness. Only when it is conceptually seized together with the pleasure principle can the unconscious escape this fate. Taken as part of a double discovery, the unconscious becomes visible no longer as a second but now as a third term, a term that performs a decentering of every center. First on the scene, the third permanently routs the second, disbands the duel of abstract opposition. Henceforth, the second will never arrive in a lonely last instance as a bare outside. The middle-ground created by the “thirdness” of psychoanalysis has not ceased being misunderstood in the century since Freud first railed against the foolishness of his colleagues, nor has its consequences for the conception of every battleground, every power struggle, community, and love affair been drawn out.