Revolt! Act III

How to convey the lexical and temporal paradoxes of psychoanalytic practice—their proper potencies and potentialities, their urgent stakes—in plague times?

Benjamin Davidson
Welcome Jean-Luc Nancy

Summary: The author describes his personal relationship with the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy (who died in August 2021), based essentially on interviews, conversations and correspondence. And it is one of these published conversations that the author uses to illustrate Nancy’s philosophical relationship to those authors cited by Nancy himself as essential to philosophical modernit…

Sergio Benvenuto
A Nightmare to Man: Poetry, Psychoanalysis, and Dreams

Summary: This is a transcript of a talk that was supposed to be delivered to the “Toronto Cultural Hub” Afghan community on September 5th, 2021. Dr. Mir Mahdavi’s invitation for this talk came just two weeks before the North Atlantic Alliance withdrew from Afghanistan, effectively clearing a path for a return to Taliban rule. Thus, this presentation was originally meant to discuss psych…

Duane Rousselle
A Night (of the World) at the Opera: History and Excess in Opera’s Second Death

This essay revisits Mladen Dolar and Slavoj Žižek’s book Opera’s Second Death, exploring the figure of history that arises from their joint intent to, as Adorno once put it apropos of Wagner, realize the fractures that traverse the opera-form. In particular, the essay homes in on the conceptual manoeuvres whereby Dolar and Žižek’s limn opera’s elective affinities with a psychoanalytic theory of the subject, paying special attention to the ways in which operatic incarnations of voice and femininity stage a thinking of excess with striking political overtones.[1] Dolar’s contribution to this co-authored work explores a fracture within history – revealing Mozart’s operas as the dramatic site for the antinomies of Enlightenment subjectivity in its sexual and political dimensions, as they emerge in the revolutionary transition between two epochs. Žižek’s study of Wagner, in a complementary, which is to say dialectical way, lays bare the fracture of subjectivity itself – in the guise of the asymmetrical difference between sexual positions, but above all in the feminine figure of excess that is so central to opera. It is from this double fracture that this essay tries to reconstruct a psychoanalytic interrogation of how history cuts through the subject and resonates in the voice.

Alberto Toscano
The Pleasure Principle: The Epistemological Symptom of Psychoanalysis

The epistemology of psychoanalysis suffers from an irreconcilability between the formulations of the functioning of the psyche in terms of the courses of the excitation and of subjective wishes and sensations. Freud postulates a pseudo-linear correlation between these levels, stating that qualitative sensations are simultaneously effects of the courses of the quantity and irreducible to them. The unspecified nature of this covariation opens up an epistemological no man’s land between them, accompanied by a conflict over which perspective will occupy it. Freud effectuated a metonymical substitution of “wish” for “accretions of excitations”, displacing the status of cause from the quantitative to the qualitative, resulting in the latter’s occupation of the in-between zone. It is argued that this enables the pleasure principle to act as a compromise formation serving to keep the fundament together, hence functioning as an “epistemological symptom”. It is also argued that this symptom is linked to a constitutive “primal repression” of the principle of constancy, and that “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” might be grasped as the lifting of this repression and the partial dissolution of its symptom.

Pablo Lerner
The Join and Distinction-Union: A Resonant and Complex Oneness

Integrating Spotnitz’s joining technique and Eigen’s distinction-union structure deepens clinical understanding of preverbal communication. This assimilated formulation helps to organize and work with defensive expressions configured around the early catastrophic experience of the infant. Taking the narcissistic transference as a starting point for the clinical work, Spotnitz’s and Eigen’s constructs are explored and combined in order to augment each approach and shed light on intervening. The join and the distinction-union structure both point to a therapeutic process that is beyond the binary of self-other, and are shown to mutually function by the nature of their structural association.

Adam Shechter
Psychoanalytic Introspection, between Descartes, Dewey, and Mead

Although multitudes of contemporaries use psychoanalysis to explain their actions to one another, we hardly manage to discern a social phenomenon in the widespread recourse to this analytical idiom. For we have grown accustomed to the asocial image of psychoanalysis articulated by S. Freud: it would be born in a radical self-observation, by an individual who discovers her repressed desires by freeing herself from the expectations of others. This image ultimately has its roots in a Cartesian conception of the relationship to oneself, according to which it precedes any relationship to others. However, this hypothesis has been the subject of sharp criticism by J. Dewey and G. H. Mead, who argue that the relationship with oneself develops through interactions with social partners. The confrontation of their “emergent” theory of the mind with the one implicit in the asocial theory of psychoanalysis enables us, by placing the analytical soliloquy in the context of the interaction in which it emerges, to replace this asocial conception (which in the end is nothing but a hypostasis of this soliloquy) with a more realistic approach of psychoanalysis.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarche
Psychoanalysis, Corporeality and Haptics in Covid-19 Times

The article examines the haptic dimension of the relation between the Subject and the Other. It speculates about the complex affective dynamic in the wake of Covid-19 (especially the first wave in 2020) that hovers between fear and anxiety as the scansion of a broken ‘social bond’ of inter-subjectivity. From Lacan and Anzieu, I build psychoanalytic notions of the skin and the touch that hold on to the slip-bridge between the unconscious subject and the Other. This Other is not asocial and as the article argues, the status of the Other undergoes notional shifts from the animate to the inanimate and assumes political implications for social hierarchies.

Arka Chattopadhyay
The Other Side of Abyssal Psychoanalysis

This essay offers a critique of Freudo-Lacanian psychoanalysis, which is read not only as a modern field but also as a colonial project. The attempt is not to reject psychoanalysis altogether, for it contains within itself the potential for its own liberation. Rather, the aim of the critique is expanding psychoanalysis beyond its comfort zone within modern epistemology by way of the decolonial theorizing of Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

Robert Beshara
Book Review Essay: “The Writing Cure” by Emma Lieber

Review of Lieber, Emma. The Writing Cure. Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. Pp. 160.

Calum Neil
A Response to Calum Neill’s Review of “The Writing Cure”

Dear Calum Neill,   Thank you for reading my book, even though, as you point out, you don’t know me, or know why I wrote it. Given that premise of non-knowledge, what we have at our disposal is writing, and reading. And so I would like to respond to your review as a reader, to attempt to point to some of the assumptions and ideologies undergirding your writing (and reading), and as…

Emma Lieber
Book Review Essay: “Conversations with Lacan: Seven Lectures for Understanding Lacan” by Sergio Benvenuto

Conversations with Lacan: Seven Lectures for Understanding Lacan. New York: Routledge, 2020. Pp. 198

Emma Lieber
Book Review Essay: “Discourse Ontology: Body and the Construction of a World, from Heidegger through Lacan” by Christos Tombras

Review of Tombras, Christos. Discourse Ontology: Body and the Construction of a World, from Heidegger through Lacan. Palgrave, 2021. Pp. 232.

Ed Pluth
Response to Ed Pluth’s Review of “Discourse Ontology: Body and the Construction of a World from Heidegger”

Dear Sir,   I was honoured to see my Discourse Ontology (2019) reviewed in the pages of your Journal (Pluth, 2021). As Pluth notes, Lacan was keen to avoid any kind of idealinguisterie, and I would find it very difficult to disagree on this. In fact, I also say so myself, for instance when I speak of Lacan’s “increasingly intense polemic against traditional metaphysics and ontology…

Christos Tombras
Book Review Essay: “A Search for Clarity: Science and Philosophy in Lacan’s Oeuvre” by Jean-Claude Milner

Review of Milner, Jean-Claude. A Search for Clarity: Science and Philosophy in Lacan’s Oeuvre (Translated by Ed Pluth). Northwestern University Press, 2020. Pp. 160

Frank Ruda
European Journal of Psychoanalysis