The outraged traveller, the disappointed gourmet, the lazy tweeter, the postoffice grouser: there are as many complainer genres as there are varieties of neurosis or flavors of potato chips. Everyone’s a critic, but what possible theory can unite these diverse types? What could carping and griping, lamenting and whining, tell us about subjectivity itself?
InterCcECT welcomes Aaron Schuster to lead a mini-seminar on the art, science, and pleasure of the complaint. We’ll read selections from his book The Trouble with Pleasure: Deleuze and Psychoanalysis, and his recent essay “Primal Scream, or Why Do Babies Cry? A Theory of Trump,” along with an excerpt from InterCcECTer Adam Kotsko’s book Awkwardness.
Join us Tuesday 18 April, 4:30-6:30pm at Volumes BookCafe 1474 N Milwaukee Ave (Blue Line: Damen). Coffee, booze, and snacks available amid the great indie book selection.
To request the readings, contact us.
Also on our calendar:
11 April “Designing Infrastructure”
13 April Jared Hickman, “Black Prometheus”
21 April Rodolphe Gasche
As always, get in touch to propose events, and follow us on facebook for frequent links and updates.
Summer is ending – time to cram in big ideas!
Join InterCcECT for a session on Lacan’s Seminar X: Anxiety, with special guest Chris Breu, Thursday 11 August, 5pm, at Volumes Bookcafe, 1414 N Milwaukee Ave. Contact interccect at gmail for the readings (chapters 1-6).
Join the V21 Collective for a session on scale in contemporary literary and aesthetic theory, Thursday 18 August, 3pm, DePaul Richardson Library Rosati Room. Reading excerpts from Kant, Franco Moretti, Mark McGurl, Julie Orlemanski, all available by request to v21collective at gmail.
Readers of the blog may be interested in a philosophy symposium this summer that I have a hand in organizing. I’ve pasted the full information below the fold, but please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. Continue reading “Call for Applications – Pittsburgh Summer School in Contemporary Philosophy – Formalism and the Real: Ontology, Politics, and the Subject”
One of the most striking scenes in Melancholia comes when Justine and Claire step outside the mansion to see the sky lit up by two large heavenly bodies: the moon and the planet Melancholia. Claire suddenly notices that Justine is missing, and when she finds her, Justine is splayed out nude, basking in the uncanny light. This is a striking contrast to Justine’s previous behavior — during the wedding sequence, she can muster up no desire for her new husband, and when she takes aside a young man and has sex with him, it is more an expression of dominance and spite than lust. In the second half of the movie, she has difficulty sustaining any kind of affect whatsoever, recoiling from a warm bath and declaring that a favorite meal tastes like ashes. Yet here she is, responding to the prospect of the world’s annihilation with unmistakable erotism.
This scene serves, for me at least, as a kind of “quilting point” tying Melancholia to the story of Antigone. Continue reading “Antigone and Abraham in Melancholia“
As a psychologist/psychotherapist, I have always found it fascinating the ways in which strangers react whenever I inform them that I’m a psychologist. To avoid awkwardness, I know many psychologists lie about their profession to total strangers. It is interesting to note the ways in which strangers respond to my disclosure. I also think it opens up a window into the ways in which Americans thinks about psychotherapy.
One of the major responses I hear from people is “well, we’re all a little crazy, right?” Cue the nervous laughter. In these moments, the stranger is often dreading some sort of mini psychological evaluation and attempting to avoid my (fantasized) all-seeing eye by demanding that I give him/her a clean bill of health. Here I am being placed in the position of the subject supposed to know. Continue reading “On Being a Psychologist”
(Note this is an updated post that I wrote years ago on my personal blog. I’ve expanded the original post and it is worth the re-read.)
In Seminar XI, Lacan argued that whenever the subject who is supposed to know (SSK) exists then so will transference. The typical neurotic patient will grant the analyst his trust, and thus allow him to assume this position of knowledge. Furthermore, as soon as the analyst is the positioned as the SSK, “he is also supposed to set in search of unconscious desire” (Four Fundamental Concepts, p. 235). The patient comes into analysis assuming that the analyst has some sort of understanding of his symptoms. Of course, this is untrue. Psychoanalysts are not mediums and have no special intuitive capacities. This belief of the patient is the very thing that often motivates him to enter analysis. The patient interprets the analyst’s interventions as information from the SSK, sometimes granting the analyst omniscient powers.
I’ve been thinking more about Lacan and the way we sometimes attribute certain characteristics to different people (e.g the analyst as the SSK). In social groups, especially group therapy, it is very common that a scapegoat emerges. Generally, this person sticks out in the group as being different and thus worthy of hate. The group tends to project their hatred onto this individual and treats this contaminated group member as a “leper” who must be kept at a distance. Inevitably, the group turns against this one person and alienates the person from the group. Scapegoating is a universal phenomena and it can take many forms. Continue reading “The Subject-Supposed-to-be-Awkward and Group Dynamics”
Which comes first, balance or imbalance? Which is more primordial? Many would have it that balance comes first, that there is a preestablished harmony that is then disturbed, often by human willfulness. In our contemporary world, for instance, many would hold that the market is inherently balanced and is only thrown off by extraneous human interventions — a modern-day notion of the inexplicable intrusion of original sin into God’s perfect creation.
Yet there can be no such thing as a permanent, inherent balance, because balance always presupposes at least two things. If we see something that looks like a balance and is permanent and inherent, then it is only a balance by analogy — really, we are just looking at parts of one thing and noting how they go together. Balancing always means balancing things that are not the same, that are not inherently compatible, that don’t automatically fit together. Balance is always an achievement, and one that must be continually renewed.
This provides us with one way of interpreting Zizek’s claim, based in his reading of Hegel and Lacan, that the gap is primordial, that difference actually generates what seem to be its positive terms. Continue reading “Balance and imbalance”