Fake interviews on Lacan: With Victor Mazin
One day in January 2020 I got a letter from a certain Matt Wolf. I felt that something was wrong, from the way it was written. I had questions: is this man who wrote me really a journalist? From The Guardian? A Literary critic? In the end I decided, perhaps it was my Soviet lack of trust in people making me suspicious. Perhaps this man really was a journalist, but with some kind of a Russian professional negligence. I decided to give spontaneous answers to the email without spending much time.
Fake Matt Wolf – What generated your interest in psychoanalysis and Lacan in particular?
Real Victor Mazin – My interest in psychoanalysis… In the end of the 1970s I was a young man deeply immersed in two domains (and I’m still in them) – music (from Black Sabbath to Throbbing Gristle and Stockhausen) & literature (Freud, Nietzsche, Kafka… everything which was not allowed, but not prohibited in the Soviet Union). In the end of the 1970s I had (and still have) a dear friend from London, Michael Molnar, who was bringing me Freud Penguin volumes; also I was reading Freud in Russian published in the beginning of XX c. In 1979 an incredible symposium took place in Tbilisi called “The Unconsciousness”. Four huge volumes were published on this occasion (recently I wrote a small book about this event in Russian). With the help of some friends I got a hold of these four volumes with the papers from the symposium. It just so happened that most of the participants in this symposium were Lacanians, including S. Leclaire, E. Roudinesco, C. Clement, R. Major and many others. Since the time of reading the texts in these four volumes my interest in Lacan increased. It is important to say that it wasn’t only French analysts talking about Lacan; two Russian papers were dedicated to his analysis, too. One paper on Lacan was written by a Moscow philosopher Natalia Avtonomova. In 1990 Derrida came to Moscow for the first time, and I met not only him, but also Avtonomova, with whom I continue to remain friends up to today. In the beginning of 1990s I was interested not only in psychoanalysis but also in psychiatry, and on several occasions I visited psychiatric hospitals in Crimea. Thanks to a friend, Viktor Samokhvalov, who was a head of the Crimean Psychiatric hospital Nr. 1, I was allowed to talk to doctors and patients. Once when I was working in the hospital for a month, I became especially interested in depression, and I was reading an American book about different approaches to depression. As far as I remember there were 12 different ways to understand depression, and among them I was fond of just one, the psychoanalytic approach. In the end of the 1990s, I was invited to teach psychoanalysis at the Psychoanalytic Institute in St. Petersburg (I work there up to today).
Fake Matt Wolf – Lacan deconstructed the analysand and analyst. Please explain these definitions according to Lacan in more detail.
Real Victor Mazin – I don’t know who said that Lacan “deconstructed the analysand and analyst”. Deconstruction is Derrida, not Lacan. Deconstruction is partly based on Freud, one could even speak about deconstructive psychoanalysis (for example in some respects I’m influenced quite a bit by a massive reading of Derrida along with Lacan, and my PhD thesis was on Freud and Derrida), but still I cannot support the idea of the deconstruction of the analysand and analyst. First because it brings us back to the idea of so-called two-bodies psychology as Lacan called it. Second, the positions of the analysand and analyst are not symmetrical, not binary, one is in the position of the subject supposed to know, of non-human partner, and the other one is in the hysterical position, the position of questioning. The transference relations between them are based also on the formula “les rapport sexuelle n’exister pas”. Deconstruction, on the other hand, might refer to the primacy of the very relations: the artificial transferencial relations, as Freud called them, in analysis create the positions of the analyst and analysand. At some more general level one could say about the deconstruction of the subject in criticizing two-body psychology, as far as the significant Freudian thesis is: there is no subject without an Other.
Fake Matt Wolf – The analyst, Freud says, must “recognize this counter-transference in himself and overcome it.” Jung, on the other hand, sees counter-transference as an inevitable component of the analytic process. What do you think?
Real Victor Mazin – Psychoanalytic praxis for me first of all is the praxis of ethical relations (based on the impossibility); we could call these relations transference, and as a practicing analyst I don’t see any room for the notion of counter-transference. If we consider humans as autonomous individuals, if to speak in terms of two-body psychology, then, yes, there are two oppositional vectors, but not in psychoanalysis.
Fake Matt Wolf – Lacan, like Freud before him, addressed the transference in a number of different ways through the development of his theoretical work. How Lacan defines transference, countertransference?
Real Victor Mazin – Hopefully I don’t see definitions in psychoanalysis, they belong to the university science. Lacan clears up the question of transference by reading Plato’s Symposium, where the discussion is on love. The idea of transference is strictly connected in Lacan with the idea of knowledge, and this knowledge belongs to an Other. The central notion for love-transference which Lacan derives from Plato is agalma. And according to Lacan, transference works as a desire to know (a truth about oneself). Agalma would be the name of analysand’s object-cause of desire alienated in an Other. The analytic process goes on due to this agalma which is topologically supposed to be in the analyst. The Lacanian name for the analyst therefore is a subject supposed to know.
Fake Matt Wolf – How did Freud define transference? and what is meant by positive and negative transference?
Real Victor Mazin – In Studies on Hysteria Freud describes (not defines) the phenomenon of transference as falsche Verknüpfung, a wrong association; that is love addressed to one person goes to another one. At first he considered transference to be a hindrance in analysis, but soon it became the principal instrument. Transference in Freud might be understood also in a topological sense: it gives the analysand this or that place (topos) in analysis. It is clear in the case of Dora, the case especially dedicated to the transference: the place of the analyst is prescribed by the analysand. In the case of Dora Freud was sure a priori that his place was a male one inherited by him both from Herr K., and Dora’s Father. But it so happened that he was in this set of transferencial relations with her governess, that is in this particular case he was literally a subject supposed to know, a subject who keeps the knowledge of sexuality. Transference, for Freud, is an artificial love. Of course, this love raises the issue of so-called real love – is it artificial, too, or not?
They say that positive transference is love, and negative transference is its other side, that is hate. For me these terms are rather senseless, in sofar as in analysis it is important which object causes love (hate) but not its + or – binarity. Transference is first of all about knowledge, it is love for knowledge but not the question of being positive or negative. These notions one could hardly inscribe in Freudian affect theory which is quantitative and not qualitative. More than that, transference for me – and in this respect I follow Felix Guattari – is always already multiple and fragmented, and by means of this approach one could hardly speak about positivity or negativity. And one more thing an analysand might tell you that she/he hates you and in five seconds that she/he loves you. One could say analysis is about lovehate but not about affective bipolarity.
Fake Matt Wolf – Why does Lacan name the analyst “a subject supposedly knows”?
Real Victor Mazin – The engine of psychoanalysis as praxis is the (hysterical) search for knowledge/truth about her/himself, and a psychoanalyst is someone who is supposed to know about the human psyche, its conditions, its problems, etc. The transference according to Lacan is based on this passionate search for knowledge/truth. At the same time the psychoanalyst if she or he should know something then she/he should know that she or he knows nothing. This is fundamental insofar as far as every subject in psychoanalysis is singular. Thus, an analysand thinks that a psychoanalyst has knowledge about her/him. The analyst in its turn knows that she/he knows nothing. If we dialectically combine these two vectors we have “a subject supposed to know”.
Fake Matt Wolf – To Lacan, both the analysand and the analyst are sick and need to be cured. Please explain.
Real Victor Mazin – Such notions as sickness, health, cure belong to the medical, university discourse; for me they have nothing to do with psychoanalytic discourse. One of the most interesting and sarcastic articles on this subject Lacan wrote in 1955, “Variations of the typical therapy”. In this article he demonstrates that the worst desire for the psychoanalyst would be the desire to cure. There is no need to cure someone, whether an analyst or an analysand. As Freud explains in the Schreber case, the paranoiac delirium is already an effort of the psyche to cope with psychotic disintegration.
Fake Matt Wolf – What is the name of the psychoanalytic term called when the analyst is having the same disease of his analysand (patient) after his treatment is over and why this happens? what do you think of Kleinian perspective maybe this process is a manifestation of the projective identification?
Real Victor Mazin – I have never heard about such a phenomenon. Disease? You mean something like cancer? Infection? Plague? I don’t know… Yes, I believe it might be some sort of an identification with a trait like a signifier, a symptom… but disease…
Fake Matt Wolf – What does Lacan mean by “subjective rectification”?
Real Victor Mazin – As far as I remember this phrase is connected to the dialectical turn in analysis, particularly of Dora and Freud, when Freud, after listening to Dora’s complaints about the unjust world around her, asks her a question about her complicity in this world, about her involvement and influence on the situation. For me it is already close to quantum mechanics in a sense that the (world) picture you see cannot be clear without your involvement. Subjective rectification of the picture is always already needed.
Fake Matt Wolf – One of the four of the fundamental concepts of Lacan is the discourse of analyst. Please summarize it briefly.
Real Victor Mazin – In Seminar XVII Lacan has formulated a theory of four discourses, that is of four possible relations between subjects in language. To my mind we could speak about two pairs: master & university discourses; hysteric & psychoanalytic discourses. Psychoanalysis has been born in the hysteric’s discourse historically, and it is dependent on it. The discourse of the analyst is an ethical one, in which the analyst takes the place of an object as object-cause of desire, takes place of a non-human partner, a partner who listens but doesn’ take the place of a master who knows what the analysand (hysteric) should do with her/his life.
Fake Matt Wolf – Let me give us an example regarding the previous question: Can you please read the synopsis below of McPherson’s play Shinning City.
How can you find the end of the play? I mean now the therapist has the same problem of the analysand. What Lacanian terms suit the end of the play? Or how can you see the play from a Lacanian perspective? The play is set in Ian’s office located in a “salubrious area in Dublin. It revolves around two main characters: Ian; “a man in his forties” having “struggled with many personal fears in his life”, is a newly practicing therapist who has recently left the priesthood, and John; a man in his fifties having “an air of confusion . . . because he has yet to accept that the world is not as orderly and predictable as he thought”. John, a widowed patient whose “wife passed away a few months ago” who “died in horrible circumstances”, is working as a representative for a catering supplier. The remaining three characters are: Laurence, a male prostitute who “has a dirty bandage on his right hand”, and who sleeps with Ian in the latter’s office. Neasa; Ian’s girlfriend in her thirties, is “rooted in a harder, less forgiving reality”, and Mari, the ghost of John’s wife who keeps coming to see him after she has died in a car crash.
Shining tells the story of Ian waiting in his office for his first patient, John. John informs him about his own desperate condition related to the death of his wife whose ghost appears to him continuously. As the play progresses, we become aware that John and Mari were not on speaking terms and always argued over menial things, later it is suggested that this may because they were unable to have children, resulting in John becoming “aggressive, insulting, and violent towards Mari”, leading him (John) to start a sexual relationship with Vivien, a beautiful woman. Ian himself has a girlfriend, Neasa, who cares for the couple’s baby while living in Ian brother’s home. Neasa claims this is where she could not “find anyone to speak to” leading her to sleep with another man, leaving Ian feeling desperate. We also know that Ian had a homosexual relationship in his office with Laurence, a homeless man. At the play’s conclusion, John no longer feels haunted by his wife’s ghost and brings Ian a gift for helping him overcome his trouble or to haul John from the lowest depths of depression. Ian is also about to quit his job and to move to Limerick and leave Dublin because he does not feel settled there. As John leaves Ian’s office, Ian sees Mari’s ghost “behind the door looking at him; just as John described her; she wears her red coat, which is filthy, her hair is wet. She looks beaten up. She looks terrifying”.
Real Victor Mazin – Dear Matt, I’ve read the synopsis, and I don’t know what to say. I believe it is a wonderful play, but to analyse the synopsis… What to say if a therapist sees a ghost of a woman described by his patient? A hysterical identification? A projective identification? Schizophrenia? Whatever I say it would be my fantasy. I have no idea what Lacan would say about an analyst seeing in hallucinations the ghost of a woman who was part of the stories told by a patient. The only thing I would say is that for the analyst it is better not to hallucinate/visualize stories about the patients. It’s weird. The specter of the dead woman comes to the therapist from the real but this real is not his. Perhaps it is a question (or suggestion) for David Lynch not for Lacan.
Fake Matt Wolf – One more question. What does Lacan mean by “there is no sexual relationship” and the “woman does not exist”?
Real Victor Mazin – Well, these two questions demand a detailed and long explanation. Usually, I would need several hours to clear them up. I’ll try to clarify the first phrase a bit. First of all, “there is no sexual relations” is a basic clinical formula, that is the psychoanalytic discourse is possible due to the impossibility of sexual relations, even in a very simple sense: either analysis or sex, no mixture of the two practices. The impossibility of sexual relations refers to their real aspect. Sexual relations between humans are impossible in some natural, animal way; they are impossible as far as humans are speaking beings. One could say, there are no sexual relations, inso far as there are let’s say two humans, and every human as a speaking being has its own fantasy, a sexual fantasy, or love formula. Two speaking beings cannot have sex in a strict – biological sense – because of the impossibility of direct relations, relations which aren’t mediated by phantasy, with an other speaking being. No direct relations, ‘cos they are intermediated with different love formulas.
Fake Matt Wolff – Two more question. 1- What does Freud mean by stating “If someone’s need for love is not entirely satisfied by reality [the external world to which they have contributed a portion of their erotic impulses] he is bound to approach every new person whom he meets with libidinal anticipatory ideas.” 2- Sex can be liberating, pleasurable but also dark and destructive”. Could you explain this in Lacan’s view about sex.
Thanks in anticipation.
Real Victor Mazin – [Silence].
Victor Mazin, practicing psychoanalyst. He is the founder of Freud’s Dreams Museum in St.Petersburg. He is the head of the department of theoretical psychoanalysis at the East-European Institute of Psychoanalysis (St. Petersburg), professor at Smolny Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (St. Petersburg) and Institute of Depth Psychology (Kiev). He is editor-in-chief of the Kabinet journal and member of the editorial boards of the journals: Psychoanalysis (Kiev), European Journal of Psychoanalysis (Rome), Transmission (Sheffield), Journal for Lacanian Studies (London). Author of numerous articles and books on psychoanalysis, deconstruction and visual arts. [email@example.com]
April 24, 2020