Writings

Beyond The Alien Will

After reading some early texts of Reza Negarestani on dark aspects of corruption, decay, and trauma that I found interesting, I thought it curious that he very suddenly shifted his focus to reason, rationalism, and cognition. Not one to speculate too highly in a wild analysis – unless it be taken as an invitation – for me it became one of many examples of certain “accelerationist” thinkers who had followed the trajectory of deconstruction (outlined by a lineage of thought that is essentially Nietzschean yet reaching a plateau in Deleuze and Guattari) to its limits and encountered trauma itself – most likely in the form of relativism, nihilism, and subjective destitution, or “desetre.” I had seen these figures one after another reach this crisis point in their work – and life – and turn to various aspects of structure and meaning. From an advanced analytic context this would be considered filling the void opened up by the the castration of the phallus, loss of index, undoing of the quilting point, or collapse of the Other. But can this place really be resolved by reaching for an external form of knowledge or procedure assumed without question. Rather is it only possible for each subject – individual at first, finally collective – to (re)construct this place from scratch in a form of DIY or bricolage. The key here would be that the subject would have to own up fully to the contingent nature and method of construction revealing the steps along the way so as not to fall into one more ideological apparatus or hidden foundation of the law.

I was pleased to see recently that Negarestani had returned to some of his earlier speculation on trauma by means of Ferenczi’s concept of the “alien will.” In contradistinction to Laplanche’s defense of Freud’s “general” theory of sexual trauma in the enigma of the encounter with the parent in contrast to the “special” theory of trauma in cases of specifically obvious abduction or seduction from the outside that Freud supposedly neglected, we could take Ferenczi’s alien will as a “general” theory of trauma by means of the “Alien” or “Other” in all its forms – the socio-cultural symbolic structure of institutional oppression, intrusion, and abuse perpetrated by the family, school, media and otherwise. It appears that this finally makes sense of Negarestani’s turn from trauma to reason: for him now critical reason would be the means by which we question this ubiquitous abuse of alien will that we have (mis)taken for normal and which even psychoanalysis has overlooked and collaborated in.

Now the question we are confronted with is that then why should we even think about our human misery, to even mention that we might have been abducted and molested by some alien will? Wouldn’t be better, less painful to just ignore these issues and live the life we thought was ours, the set of our conscious and examined choices and thoughts even if they weren’t? I don’t think Freud ever manages to answer this question coherently. His Schopenhaurian cosmic pessimism which is borderline a mystical whitewash over the conditions of the possibility of trauma does not allow him to even think about this question in earnest. In failing to answer this central question, Freud’s vision of psychoanalysis fails miserably. As long as, we do not justify why life should be lived exploitation-free, we have no justification for how we cure or console those who are living. Absent the former, the latter i.e. the psychoanalytical investigation can indeed be another form of exploitation and trauma, another method of becoming unwilled corpses.

I could not agree more with this sentiment which I have been critiquing within the field of medicine, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis during thirty years of research, teaching, and clinical practice. What I would like to make clear however is that the work of this approach already exists within the true lineage of Analysis – not just in Ferenczi but most especially in Reich, Lacan, and Guattari. The answer they have offered has been exactly the one Negarestani brings up in the name of critical reason: the triumph of the organizing life force – or libidinal economy of Orgone, Jouissance, and Desiring Production to name a few of this group’s central concepts concerning this revolution in psychic politics. The problem of course is that the majority of the field of psychoanalysis – not to mention psychology and psychiatry – has neglected this trajectory in the service of a conservative simplification and justification of ongoing trauma as business as usual. So I welcome Negarestani for joining the cause of critical reason to the true work of the Future Analyst – which is one reason why we have chosen to move further away from the “psy”professions to the term Analysis in our School+Clinic Analytica: to join the philosophical and scientific analysis initiated by the Western turn of modernity as far back as the Greeks to its completion in a revelation of the subject’s construction from his desire and commitment by means of a psycho- or auto- analysis of singularity.

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What Is Libidinal Economy

Libidinal Economy was the product of a key moment in history – where many of us believe humanity took a wrong turn – toward post-modernism rather than trans-modernism or hyper-modernism. Along with Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Symbolic Exchange and Death, Living Currency, and a few other manuals for the new world, this pathway was mapped out. Paradoxically Lyotard would write the primary diagnosis of the Postmodern Condition a few years later and proceed to apologize for Libidinal Economy. Thus the contraction began.

As part of the historical record, this was definitely a – if not the – major influence on myself, John Cussans, Simon Thompson, Nick Land, and others in the 80s and 90s in London when we were developing Proto-Accelerationist theory and practice around such institutes and events as Analytica, CCRU, Orphan Drift, Cabinet Gallery, Virtual Futures, Bughouse, Cyberfeminism, Afrofuturism and related. The focus was – and is – on pragmatic machines of life rather than texts and archives: libidinal machines. DIY pragmatics and bricolage bridged punk to the internet for a moment. Read Semiotexte USA. (Who also published Lyotard’s first translation.) Most of us left the academy and dispersed around the world to become practicing artists, engineers, doctors, analysts, activists, teachers – in the liminal spaces of the free market outside institutional capitalism and communism.

It would seem that in the wake of the total stasis of culture, the time is ripe for a return to this moment. Certain millennial analysands confirm this. The key factor being Libido – or “lust for life.” Just as Lacan had recognized the impasse of Desire – Desire as lack, castration, compromise – and returned to the Drive. Heralded by the penultimate little text of Ecrits, On Freud’s Drive and the Desire of the Analyst, the 70s would be spent on the recovery of Drive and celebration of Jouissance not as symptom but as art of life, through a series of obscure seminars and institutional practices contributing to this lost moment. As I was told by one of Lacan’s last analysands, in the later days of his clinic Lacan was interested not in symptom or signification but in “how the analysand organizes his jouissance – with regard to work, play, family, sex, etc.” Sounds simple. But it resonates with Libidinal Economy and its aim.

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Shattering The Mirror Stage

Usually we conflate the Other and the other. There are two moments in the formation of the psyche. The most foundational and important is with the other – usually accomplished in relation to the mother. This is the moment of primary narcissism and libidinal incorporation I have spoken of – and Lacan’s mirror stage. One thing we have to remember is that this all takes place in the first two or three years of life and so the paradox or cruel joke is that all that is most important about who we really are takes place before we are conscious. What I have come to discover in my work is that the mirror state is shattered for most – and increasingly in our times as I will elaborate in the future. The point is that Drive or Spirit which precedes and exceeds the embodied subject of life (and which Jung wanted to call the one Libido) must come to be incorporated in some way by the embodied subject as its “I.” Various losses and traumas regarding the child’s relation to the mother affect how well this can happen. In its absence phantasy is forged in all kinds of multiple and dissociated ways channeling the disembodied drives of primal psychic and atavistic information – and leading to aspects of schizophrenia, multiple personality, mania, melancholy, sociopathy, pathological narcissism and other coping strategies.

What is “shattering the mirror stage”: separation from the Mother makes room for God – divine and mad – and it pre-empts the Father in his cut: in-sanity, un-sanity, hyper-sanity circumventing the mother-as-object and father-as-phallus.

It now falls upon secondary narcissism or the ego to shore up this place. For me the ego is not the I. Rather the I is what might ideally be forged in the primary encounter with the other – though usually instead there remain a multiplicity of delusions – shards of the shattered mirror. The ego is the false self that get’s constructed for the demand of the Other in order to live with this confusing if not terrifying multiplicity – to receive a secondary love to shore up the absence of unconditional primary love. If the I has been formed as a first person singular place from which to steer amongst the flux of the real in the primary phase or can be later on, then the secondary phase can also be optimized as not the ego but rather a series of masks by which to perform and enjoy from the other to the Other. Nietzsche spoke of this and attempted to achieve it himself. To revisit his primordial libidinal drives proximal to Drive itself and forge this I at the center of chaos such that he could then perform the world as a series of masks. In the end he went mad but showed the way before hand. The one that really understood this and elaborated a theory and method of it was Pierre Klossowski – philosopher, artist, priest – in his work Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle among other others.

The difficulty of this achievement is too great for most, so they accept the Other’s judgement, castration, and punishment even if they complain about it. Victims seeking an index or identity today continue to decry the patriarchy more and more even as it exists less and less. In the case of the Other of child development – the proper function of the father is not so much the demand but the cut. This is why the cut of punishment if it is not unnecessary or vindictive is usually met with love by the child for setting boundary and containment where the libido remains dispersed and overwhelming. And yet there are forms of cut and containment much more refined than punishment. This is also the place where the sacred and profane can be refined by positive forms of ritual often inevitably “violent” in that they structure or destucure us in ways we do not expect. If we do not practice these actively then they will take place unconsciously as Bataille warns. The subject can be aided in his construction by a familial circle that has its own conscious logic like that of an ancient tribe. Here we still have much to learn from Levi-Strauss and other anthropologists regarding the psyche on earth – not to mention the thousands of tribes disappearing as we scramble to document them all. This is also the project Deleuze and Guattari began in extending their work of schizoanalysis. In this future each community, each family, each subject becomes a culture of their own.

So what am I saying – about anyone. Maybe something obvious and simple. Our mother could not love us enough and our father could not be strong enough. But I say “could not” because of their own history. Blame does not help here but an insight that leads to an act does. This is why it is necessary to go back in the kinship in order to map the story of understanding. Of course it is not easy to change the ever unconscious foundation. But for what ever inexplicable reason sometimes when we talk and listen in a certain way something deep happens. There is a moment when all feels different and something new can happen. These feelings of hope and excitement are often shut down by addictions or set back by everyday life and the old programs so hard to change. But that’s all we have. There is no miracle cure. Not even in psychoanalysis.

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On Suicide (For Tony)

Anthony Bourdain lays on a couch and speaks to an Argentinian woman on his TV show. This is not his analyst but a stage prop. It could be that the over-eager desire to solve the problem and confirm the need to compromise on one’s desire in most therapists and analysts is what wisely kept him away from them but ultimately deprived him of the possibility of living on. Not that living on is necessary. This man already lived more life than most people ever will. Why pathologize him. Most people (whether analysands, friends, or colleagues) I talk to admired him as one of the few in the media with integrity.

Bourdain belongs in the casebook of confounding suicides: those who do not compromise on their desire and construct their symptom to the point of great success in the Symbolic. So why no satisfaction. David Foster Wallace, Mike Kelley, Robin Williams…. I believe these cases point out the failure of the identification with the sinthome – or symptom – prescribed by Zizek and many Lacanians. These great sinthomes, or “saint men,” Joyce, Dali, and Klossowski for example, retained their fantasmatic object in the form of a woman – Nora, Gala, and Roberte to be exact. Would their symbolic construction have been enough without this? Did they know something about love?

Bourdain and Kelley killed themselves at the moment of crisis with a woman. What is Asia Argento’s place in this knot? Or Bourdain’s previous wives? “We should be ashamed to pretend we know what we are talking about when we talk about love,” said Raymond Carver. And the way this dilemma plays out in the film “Birdman” reveals what happened to Bourdain. The choice of the “Desire for Recognition over the Recognition of Desire,” as I have called it, that haunts contemporary life. In the time of Facebook everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes – and then hang themselves. This is not narcissism but failed narcissism: the attempt to shore up the primary narcissism of incorporation with the secondary narcissism of ego identity. Hence the relevance of Bourdain and Spade’s relation to food and fashion.

If one can reach the point of (re)movability of the sinthome then a subject can be “unsubscribed from the unconscious” – free from the Other and the other – which means free to relate other-wise. In this case of truly writing one’s symptom in the arena of the Symbolic there is an eradication of the Other and repeated loss of the object fantasy. But this analytic path is still strewn with dangers of subjective destitution and moments of madness, for which drugs and suicide appear to be quick solutions. Every time there is a true writing another piece of the fantasy disappears.

This is not a public health crisis of untreated depression, but the further realization of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Durkheim, and Freud’s diagnosis of the cultural and technological production of malaise, and the impasse of humanity at a certain point of evolution.

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From Savoir-Faire To Savoir-Vivre: Work Group-Play Group

All that has gone before us leads us to this point: Play.

Between the drive of the Id (It) and the Demand of the Superego (Over-I), we must form a desire. But as this desire is unconscious we know not who we are. We can agree to discover this. To join the special group of Analyst-Analysand in order to refine and sublime this desire by revisiting Id and Superego. What is left: an Ego. Better if we call it by its true name: the I. Where It was there I will be.

But if the analytic project is to go any further it must analyze itself. How will man change if we cannot count beyond 2 or 3. Surprisingly no groups – not even psychoanalytic groups – avail themselves of this practice. Freud and Jung built there work on the suspicion of the mass psychology of the group. Psychoanalysis is a theory and practice based on the unfinished individuation of the group. But very little has been achieved or written about the analytic group. Analysis in extension is a crucial idea but so far has accomplished little.

In order to make sense of this we will turn to the work of Wilfred Bion who undertook to develop a group analysis laboratory free from imposing previous theories. What he discovered was that underneath the overt goal of the “Work Group” was always an unconscious “Basic Assumption” Group. Those which he identified included the “Dependency” Group, the “Fight-Flight” Group, and the “Pairing” Group.

?. Group> Mode> Temporality> Relation> Awareness

E. Play> Desire> Timeless> Creativity> Free Associative

D. Work> Reason> Duration> Productivity> Cs

C. Pairing> Love> Future> Support> Unc

B. Fight> Hate> Present> Rebellion> Unc

A. Dependency> Fear> Past> Submission> Unc

It is my contention that these forms of group modalities follow a progressive individual and cultural development beginning with the infantile dependency group, following with the childish fight group and adolescent support group and finally finishing the adult work group which dominates modern neurotic society. What I am interested in is what is not in Bion’s findings: what lies beyond this: I call this the Analytic Group or the Play Group.

The Analytic Group

Whlie the basic assumption groups are dominated by the emotions of fear, hate, and love and the work group by reason, the analytic group operates through desire. While the basic assumption groups relate by submission, rebellion, and support and the work group by productivity, the analytic group relates through creativity, art, play. In terms of the experience of time the dependency group is conservatively stuck in the past, the fight group arrested in the eternal present emergency, and the pairing group always waiting for the future salvation. While the work group replaces this temporality with the experience of duration itself through work. Where however will this lead: to the timeless eternal of the analytic group. And here we can see where all of this is heading: toward Hegel’s unfolding of the Geist or Psyche through man. Yes just as Lacan had intuited, Psychoanalysis was the capstone practice of an ascent of man running from Plato to Hegel. The history of the West is the history of analysis. This is why Lacan calls Socrates the first analyst and why he framed his psychoanalysis as a non-dual dialectical enterprise which leads to three and beyond.

But the analytic group itself has not been able to move beyond two or three. Two in the practice of analysis between analyst and analysand. Three if you count the symbolic father or superego of the institution: schools, associations, licensures. This brings us to Sixties experiments of RD Laing at the Philadelphia Association, Felix Guattari at La Borde Clinic, and Fritz Perls at Esalen Institute, attempts to create group analytic spaces based on Freudian, Lacanian, Reichian and Existential Analysis.

D. Lacanian: Work Group = cartel work groups and production/invention

C. Jungian Pairing Group = messianic mystical mysterium coniunctionis

B. Reichian Fight Group = paranoia andrebellion

A. Freudian Dependent Group = conservative IPA structure

However the “Lacanian work group” points the way forward as the positions of Master, University, and Hysteric are exchanged for the position of the Analysand in passage to the position of Analyst. At which point the position of analyst and analysand are continued indefinitely in a new ethical and political group relation among sovereign beings. This takes analysis beyond the intention of the clinic into the extension of social transformation. This is in fact a “structureless group” in which there is no “tyranny” of master (or university or hysteric) for the existence of sovereignty which must remain is enfolded into each individual being and even more so into each encounter among beings, the relation between “sinthomes” forming a new political amorous group. This group has its foundations in Sade’s Society of Libertines, Fourier’s Phallanxes, Klossowski’s Living Currency, Bataille’s Headless Order, and Blanchot’s Unavowable Community. This is not a “commons” in which tyranny is smuggled in through the back door but a community with nothing in common.

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Nietzschean Psychoanalysis Redux

The recent Nietzschean Psychoanalysis symposium at Analytica October 8 2016 continued a unique method of analysis in extension for the one hundred in person and online participants. There was no conference of papers in the university discourse of standard routine. Neither was there a master discourse with obligatory hysterical response from the audience. What’s left but an attempt at the discourse of the analyst – which includes of course first of all the position of the analysand. That is that each participant is invited to speak from the position of the analysand as Lacan practiced in his Seminar: association from one’s symptom – by way of psychic reality as Freud called it – to one’s sinthome: an attempt to transmit it to an audience of the Other by means of the symbolic. Collective exchange of position between analysand and analyst then ensues – first in the panel and then through further extension to the audience. This is called a “de-monstration,” and incorporates fragmented aspects of Lacan’s “Pass” procedure.

Regarding the recent symposium on Nietzschean Psychoanalysis  several presenters introduced a new concept: Nietzsche’s overcoming and transvaluation of all values was the first heroic psychoanalysis. Nietzsche’s analysis differs from Freud in that his posited analyst is not a doppleganger friend but a true alien or other – a future reader that will come to be as a result of his having done the analysis in the void by means of a kind of temporal moebius band. This is related to what Scott Von called the “Clinic of the Abyss” in the symposium. Pierre Klossowski tracks this process in Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle when he shows that Nietzsche’s “madness” was the willed or accepted result of having forged a new path from the drives to the symbolic without compromise from the therapeutic – from pulsion to phantasm to simulacrum. This “clinic of the abyss” is finally articulated from within the psychoanalytic tradition by Lacan’s late work when he speaks of the ends of analysis as a “desetre” or subjective destitution – something that goes beyond Freud’s “castration” and “everyday unhappiness.”

What Robert Hockett revealed in his stunning presentation of “Father Holes and Superman Wholes” through his own personal analysis was the concept of the doppleganger as a mode of “name of the father.” That is the discovery and use of a best friend during an (extended) adolescent period as “analyst” or “co-analyst.” Not only does this model of co-analyst which can be found in Lacan’s late work and Guattari’s extension of it replace the outdated and transferentially problematic model of the “subject supposed to know” but it actually was the original mode of Freud in his own analysis and that of his only real analysands – his colleagues rather than his patients.

Daniel Coffeen in “Turning Analysis Inside Out” (another topology) similarly presented his own analysis beginning with an unofficial schizoanalysis by means of adolescent intellectual community and ending in the void of the father in the form of an existential analyst who refuses to accept the role of subject supposed to know but rather only accompanies him on the end of the journey he had always been on echoing back the truth of his absolute nihilism to the point of a joyful complexity in a flat universe. Fortuitously Irving Yalom, one of the last of the existential analysts and author of When Nietzsche Wept, was with us for this moment.

Michael Vannoy Adams spoke of “Niezsche, Jung and Jungian Analysis” in that Jungian analysis is in some sense the closest to a version of NIetzschean analysis that we have. This is true especially in that Jung himself went through a private journey of madness and self analysis after his split from Freud by means of a hidden occult writing and painting, rather than to appeal to another “Name of the Father” (after all who after Freud) and knowing what he would have received from his colleagues. Let us not forget the co-analysis that Jung engaged in with Otto Gross, Sabina Spielrein, and Freud himself (so well dramatized in The Dangerous Method) and the fact that he devoted 5 years of his private seminar with his students to Nietzsche and Zarathustra.

In Jared Russel’s “Nietzsche and the Clinic” he made the case that Nietzsche’s clinic of the drives gives us a model for psychoanalysis that escapes the orthodoxy of ego psychology and adaptation as well as the overdetermined form of “relational” analysis that currently prevails. For the drives are inherently relational long before the inter-subjective or inter-personal is posited as a set of communicating egos. This echoes Lacan’s idea of the subject: there is no inter-subjectivity because the subject is already an inner experience of division and multiplicity and structural positions not an isolated and self-contained person.

Finally Yunus Tuncel reminded us that at the core of Nietzschean analysis is aggressivity: that which links him to Lacan, Hegel, Adler, and the Greeks. Nietzsche was above all influenced by the Greek philosophers – the first psychoanalysts according to Lacan – who used the agon: the contest of difference and struggle as a method of becoming precedes Hegel’s dialectical method by millennia. Perhaps it is a sinthomatic art of war which replaces the symptom of the master-slave dialectic of man’s psychic relations including its modern bourgeois neurotic form. In this case it is worth reading the foreclosed Adler and his predecessor Nietzsche to understand how to use aggressivity lest its continual re-emergence as death drive within a culture that hides and fears conflict, will, and aggression of any kind.

 

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Race(Ism) And Psychoanalysis

Synopsis of a contribution to the Unbehagen conference of October 15 2016 by Dr Scott Von:

If you examine the philology of “race” you find that the concept was only created in the 17th century as a way of categorizing or creating a taxonomy of humans with an uncritical mixture of genetic and socio-cultural traits. It is and has remained a social construction since then used for various purposes. It is not only metaphorically but actually parallel to the creation of medical and psychiatric categories at a similar moment in time. We could refer to Foucault on this topic. The emergence of enlightenment science and knowledge came to replace the moral and religious paradigms of taxonomy that had preceded it. In terms of race, the accelerating juxtaposition of diverse cultures through travel inspired this knowledge inseparable from the politics of power involved in colonization. We could say that medical-psychiatric colonization provided the concomitant “internal colonization” of the bodies and minds of people from the same nation, culture, or tribe.

What is it that psychoanalysis offers to this complex of social and psychiatric biopower and psychopower? The move to the singularity of the subject. Freud’s science of the soul, psychic reality, inner experience. The political project of psychoanalysis in extension is a move to replace identification with the discourse of analysis: that is a desire for absolute difference beyond the categories of identity. As long as categorical identities – racial, sexual, psychiatric, medical, or other wise – remain the focus of oppression and liberation, the very problem of such taxonomy, colonization, and judgement risk being solidified. Artaud declared the project: “to have done with the judgement of God.” To speak psychoanalytically this means that despite the death of God and fall of patriarchy, the function of the father or phallic indexing of meaning remains propped up by an endless series of invisibly repressed founding acts of judgement, exclusion, and hierarchy. Taking responsibility for one’s symptomatic condition and enacting it as a form of desire and expression supersedes the question of identity which is a form of ego-superego mirroring. To echo Lacan’s late declaration, identity is paranoid defense as relation to the Other.

Rather than debate over definitions and judge others’ actions, I would hope to listen to the experiences of those who have experienced the negative and limiting effects of prejudice. Rather than race-ism or “implicit bias,” we would do better tospeak of an “ethics of prejudice.” To go from the singular to the general and develop a map of understanding based on a series of cases or experiences is scientific. To go from the general to the specific by applying this science or map to a singular case is prejudice. Nevertheless there is no way for a human or any animal for that matter to avoid a continual assimilation of experiential knowledge by which it comes to interpret and “pre-judge” the external other. This fact is clearly elucidated from ancient Buddhist psychology to Husserl’s phenomenology to Freud’s original “Project” and recent research in neuropsychology. What we can do is strive to continue to hold this previous experience in abeyance through an “evenly suspended attention” as Freud’s method attempts and remain open to surprise, difference, the new, the other at each moment. Not only does this allow the subject to practice an ethics of (non)prejudice as non-judgement but it makes life full of rich complexity and enjoyment – provided one is willing to let go of fear. I hope to see this project practiced at this conference and into the future of humanity.

 

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The Cartel

The cartel is a small group that works together individually on a common theme in order to discover, create, teach, and learn something new. The “cartel” is a special analytic group that exists somewhere between a “work group” and a “play group.” Jacques Lacan started the use of this practice in his Freudian School of Paris in order to further the process of psychoanalysis in extension beyond the intensive consulting room into the social relation. It is an attempt to found an analytic group.

 

A predecessor to the cartel is Bion’s creation of the work group beyond the neurotic social forms of the “dependency, fight, and pairing groups” that compose the developmental stages of the individual, family, and society of bourgeois modernity marked by the Freudian “Oedipus Complex” in its broadest sense and the Hegelian “master-slave” relation.  A method developed in parallel with the cartel was Guattari’s schizoanalytic group – which we now call an “assemblage” – in which the place of analysand and analyst circulate with the larger group.

 

While intensive analysis works on the question of 1 and 2 in subjectivity, the cartel works on the question of 3 and 4 – even if the cartel is expanded to 5 and 6 or more. Thus it works on the odd and the even and the addition of the +1 that alters all small groups and relations subject to countable numbers. The schizoanalytic assemblage on the other hand works with the large group which is beyond countability and moves toward the transfinite. The cartel is countable and the subjectivity of the cartel is accountable.

 

The various Lacanian schools following this lineage have practiced and experimented in different ways with this method. A simple method is to find subjects who desire to come together to work on a common theme in singular ways for a set amount of time to create something. 3+1=4 may be considered an ideal number but 5+1=6 or perhaps higher is an extended form. The function of the +1 who occasional attends the group from outside may serve to understand aspects of odd and even number in groups, as well as adding a forced position of the analyst into the group to assist with the operation and dynamics of the cartel. This function of the +1 may however become an internal operator especially after having been understood from the forced method.

 

The group may meet in person or in some combination of other methods including remote audio phone, video Skype, or written email formats. The group may meet weekly, monthly, or on a schedule suiting the group. The group may produce writings, lectures, performances, or other creations – either internally or to be transmitted to the school or public at large.

 

In a broad sense the cartel acts as crucial bridge from psychoanalysis in intension to psychoanalysis in extension, from the subject of self analysis to the infinite generic subject. It also extends Bion’s analytic “work group” beyond the limited economy of production and reason to play, desire, and creativity – passing through the object, the phantasy, the symptom, and the void of subjective destitution, en route to a new relation other than that imagined by relational psychoanalysis.

 

The cartel may also be created by means of “vectorization.” A vector has magnitude and direction and thus experiments with both aspects of desire in the group. Individuals may send in a number of topics they wish to work on in a cartel, and then a blind other may assemble the individuals into cartels of common themes occurring in the entires. Individuals can then add and subtract themselves from this assemblage. In this case desire is more “blind” and not subject to the mimesis of “desire as the desire of the other.” This and other methods help to prevent the cartel from becoming a technical reading group subject to the discourse of the university, a hierarchical group dominated by the discourse of the master, or a hysterical group of hearsay, relativism, and chaos. Rather the circulation of the discourse of the analyst is the aim. In its highest form the cartel aims even beyond the discourse of the analyst to the position of the analysand in which each takes responsibility for his desire in constructing, demonstrating, and transmitting it to the other.

 

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Ordinary Psychosis And Universal Madness

Ordinary Psychosis

 

There is a wise joke: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

 

Those who are psychically vulnerable can be most triggered or used by the symbolic effects of social reality.

 

In fact it was in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, a novel about war at the end of history, that this joke appeared.

 

And so if history is over and thus classical war then we need to find another war: cold war, spies, terrorist liberation armies, cointelpro (a portmanteau word worthy of the “psychotic”), and finally pure war.

 

As a case of psychoanalysis in extension I suggest a reading of Paul Virilio:

 

Pure War, Speed and Politics, Bunker Archeology, Insecurity of Territory, Popular Defense and Ecological Struggles, Information Bomb….

 

And then perhaps we can return to Lacan’s “On a Question Prior to Any Possible Treatment of Psychosis:”

 

“What I am asserting here is that, in relation to the drama of madness, reason is doing what it likes best, sua res agitur, because it is in man’s relation to the signifier that this drama is situated. The danger people mention of becoming as mad as the patient no more intimidates me than it did Freud. Like Freud, I hold that we must listen to the speaker, when what is at stake is a message that does not come from a subject beyond language, but from a speech beyond the subject.”

 

What is this question prior: to listen seriously to the message before or without diagnosing or naming the subject. Not only for the sake of actually helping a patient but for the sake of one’s own existence in the world to come, I suggest seriously listening to the messages of these “murderers, activists, racists, terrorists, ordinary psychotics, targeted individuals….”

 

Perhaps we are seeing here something like the emergence of Clerambault’s research: A subject foreclosed from “normal” social symbolic reality falls back on bio-cultural phylogenetic “automatisms” which then become secondarily interpreted as “delusions” of sense by the subject in relation to the Other.

 

Universal Madness

 

Jacques-Alain Miller states that “ordinary psychosis” is a malleable category that he invents and/or borrows from Lacan for others to make something out of: a kind of Rorschach. Thus one meaning that has been taken over by the Millerians is this desire to map the psychiatric categories onto psychoanalysis and make sense of the disappearance of good old fashioned neurosis – a desperate attempt by these fellows to somehow create a new diagnostic schema and treatment method that does any better than the psychiatric one. Lacan would have rolled over.

 

In contradistinction to this I would say that it is in Lacan’s infinitely important “Preliminary Question on any Possible Treatment of Psychosis” that ordinary psychosis appears in its true state:

 

“The danger people mention of becoming as mad as the patient no more intimidates me than it did Freud.

 

Like Freud, I hold that we must listen to the speaker, when what is at stake is a message that does not come from a subject beyond language, but from speech beyond the subject. For it is then that we will hear this speech, which Schreber picked up in the Other, when from Ahriman to Ormuzd, from the evil God to the absent God, it carries the summons in which the very law of signifiers is articulated: All nonsense cancels itself out!

 

Here we encounter anew (leaving to those who will concern themselves with me later the task of figuring out why I have left it in abeyance for ten years) what I said in my dialogue with Henri Ey: ‘not only can man’s being not be understood without madness, but it would not be man’s being if it did not bear madness within itself as the limit of this freedom.’”

 

This idea of listening to the beyond of madness which in itself validates the “psychotic subject” beyond any other methodology is echoed in Bataille’s work to which Lacan refers at the end of the essay, comparing it to Schreber’s message. This is a project of Lacan’s. An investigation. This is the preliminary question Lacan refers to.

 

To be fair Miller himself offers this reading too of Lacan’s project of ordinary psychosis as the truth of being human, but I would say that he slightly misunderstands the message of Lacan’s final work, which regards the writing of the Sinthome. In other words, is there a science of madness or just a cult?

 

“It’s a perspective in accordance with ‘everyone is mad’, with ‘everyone is delusional in his own way’, and Lacan wrote this in 1978 – I commented this sentence in the last lessons of my Cours this year, ‘tout le monde est fou, c’est-à-dire, délirant’, ‘everyone is mad, that is to say, delusional’. It’s not the only point of view, but some level of the clinic is like this. You may not function as a psychoanalyst if you are not aware that what you know, your own world, is delusional – phantasmal we say, but phantasmal means delusional. To be an analyst is to know that your own world, your own phantasm, your own way of making sense, is delusional. That’s why you try to abandon it, just to perceive the proper delusion of your patient, the way he makes sense.”

 

To add to this I would say – partially for comical purposes – that we have three groups of Lacanians at present. The neurotics who emerged from Lacan’s first circle of psychiatrists and psychologists in his 50s teaching. The psychotics who took up Lacan’s militant cause in the 60s teaching as political philosophers. And those who followed his final teaching from the 70s: the topologists who see where poetics and mathematics converge in a general semiotics of the void. Ordinary Madness.