Tuesday, July 03, 2007

symptômas



a new survey asserts! a new survey asserts!

Walter Benjamin writes somewhere that the philosopher lives under the sign of the intellect, as the prostitute lives under the sign of sex. The popularity of books such as those by Slavoj Žižek suggests that the bourgeois consumer often feels he lives under the sign of his mysterious pathology.

The consumer base in this country consists predominantly of a single class of petty functionaries, who, though they do not own the means of production, are permitted to call themselves bourgeois, or, if they are not permitted to speak, may feel ashamed in the name of the bourgeoisie. Their leaders have followed their gods in ceasing to speak to them directly. Their society is dominated topographically by capitalism and culturally by hearsay.

The vogue for a repackaged psychoanalysis, a psychanalysis cut into bits and redistributed through magazines, surely derives from the bourgeois consumer's horror and fascination with his own image as it appears distorted in the commodity spectacle. Ceaseless pronouncements on the abstract necessity of every aspect of his life, along with the miserable condition of this life, undoubtedly suggests to him that it is his own psyche, the centre of his universe, that is in really riddled with neuroses.

Capitalist mass culture, though hegemonic, is nearly always presented as something subsidiary, or marginal, as if some alternative existed. This ersatz marginality derives from its reproduction through the commodity system. Life is seen to circulate around an absent dominant. The counterpart of this discourse in topography is airport architecture: transit without destination. The reproduction of social roles tends also to the reproduction of marginality. There is no reason for these roles to be consistant with a conscious totality of life. Society takes on the character of the workplace. The psychoneurotic imagination serves to compliment and otherwise explain life as an endless series of preludes to living.

(intertitles for a silent film)

44 comments:

dejan said...

The vogue for a repackaged psychoanalysis, a psychanalysis cut into bits and redistributed through magazines, surely derives from the bourgeois consumer's horror and fascination with his own image as it appears distorted in the commodity spectacle.

This, surely, is true; but where I part with Marxism is in its assumption that the Unconscious is historically produced, and a class item. Example - back in Communism, the working class ALSO went to the psychoanalyst. I've spoken before about the migration of analysis from the clinic to pop crit; that's where the problem started, and that's where you can indeed apply a Marxist criticism. Insofar as the pop culture serves to propagate and maintain the belief systems of the burgeoisie, pop crit analysis is in the service of the burgeoisie. Otherwise the attempt to marry Lacan with Marxism was uberhaupt, always, a misfire - the parallels drawn between surplus value and surplus jouissance don't hold water.

catmint said...

"This, surely, is true; but where I part with Marxism is in its assumption that the Unconscious is historically produced, and a class item"

thanks Dejan

I agree with this actually, I think habits of thought do depend on relative wealth and whether you give or take orders, but not the way the unconscious works.

"a class item" yeah, that's not Marxism, that's Gramsci.

"criticism. Insofar as the pop culture serves to propagate and maintain the belief systems of the burgeoisie, pop crit analysis is in the service of the burgeoisie"

What I think's interesting about our society is that it's not set up by the capitalist class as an impregnable fortress, basically the class of consumers, who own mortgaged property not means of production, by their unconscious economic power have set up a machine for their own stupefication, and accidently, as it were, crushed the culture of the bourgeoisie. The ruling class only have a relatively small surplus to use to defend their ownership of this society, but they hardly need that because there isn't much dissent.

"I've spoken before about the migration of analysis from the clinic to pop crit; that's where the problem started"

quite right!

catmint said...

"from the bourgeois consumer's horror and fascination with his own image as it appears distorted in the commodity spectacle."

essentially I'm interested in is whether the middle class can acheive any kind of political consciousness - it's possible they can only feel frightened by a politics they don't understand. On average, I mean, there's obviously exceptions.

dejan said...

but they hardly need that because there isn't much dissent.

that's of course the crucial question. why is there no dissent. since i don't believe in the dekline of simbolik efikasy, and im suspicious as well about the oncoming Apocalypse... what are your theories?

what do you mean by their unconscious economic power ?

dejan said...

essentially I'm interested in is whether the middle class can acheive any kind of political consciousness

trust me i've seen (and felt) a country fall down. they only achieved a political consciousness when things became so bad, mere survival was the issue.

ktismatics said...

"the bourgeois consumer often feels he lives under the sign of his mysterious pathology."

I think the void takes on the guise of a mirror, forcing you to see the vagueness that keeps anyone else from seeing you. You say something into the world and in the silence you hear your own echo bouncing back the lameness of your own discourse. The only escape from self-loathing is immersion in the imaginary -- which is a fun place to be if somebody will pay you to play. Everything else, as you say, is hearsay.

catmint said...

"where I part with Marxism is in its assumption that the Unconscious is historically produced, and a class item"

There's a tendency in some types of reactionary discourse to reamigine an unequal class relation as a different kind of relation - an educational relation for instance. You find this in some of the ideas that Edward Saïd looks at in Orientalism - the British Empire has a tutelary role over the Egyptians etc. It's sort of unacceptable now. But I think there's a sequel to this in some strands of socialist discourse - of wanting to depersonalise the bourgeois as individuals. Moscow basically decreed that "Bourgeois" was synonymous with "Incorrect" - and you find an (admittedly ore nuanced) version of this in Gramsci. Or the bourgeois are imagined as diabolical with an infinitely perfected repressive apparatus, as in Foucault, Bourdieu.

I don't think the left wing version takes part in the same cynicism but I do think it's incorrect, and as such pernicious.

catmint said...

"I think the void takes on the guise of a mirror, forcing you to see the vagueness that keeps anyone else from seeing you. You say something into the world and in the silence you hear your own echo bouncing back the lameness of your own discourse. The only escape from self-loathing is immersion in the imaginary -- which is a fun place to be if somebody will pay you to play. Everything else, as you say, is hearsay."

thanks ktismatics

that seems credible actually, I don't really despise the middle classes as individuals - I had this idea of captioning the Bosch picture as a comment on some people I know - but I'm maybe closer to satirising advertising.

catmint said...

"what do you mean by their unconscious economic power?"

I mean the decicive weight of the middle class in the economy - the economy is literally unconscious, ie it's not conscious - that sort of thing

dejan said...

I mean the decicive weight of the middle class in the economy - the economy is literally unconscious, ie it's not conscious - that sort of thing

This statement contains an unconscious adumbration, you see; for it is in the old-fashioned, hydraulic model of personality, exercised by Dr. Freud, that one spoke of the Unconscious as if it were ''under'' the Conscious (hidden, stashed away, repressed). Following Lacan's crucial revision, the Unconscious - in a new, topographic model - is parallel/simultaneous to the conscious.

But if this was a metaphor, meaning to say that the middle classes are no longer aware of the economic mechanisms pulling the strings of their Unconscious desires, then I understand what you mean.

(Although please let's not exaggerate; it would be silly Baudrillardian pessimism to claim such an-omnipotency for the new media, which apart from being imperfect, so that the technology breaks, are also frequently too DUMB even for a half-conscious consumer; to see in them such a threat, is to ascribe them the power I don't believe they have!)

dejan said...

I mean the decicive weight of the middle class in the economy - the economy is literally unconscious, ie it's not conscious - that sort of thing

This statement contains an unconscious adumbration, you see; for it is in the old-fashioned, hydraulic model of personality, exercised by Dr. Freud, that one spoke of the Unconscious as if it were ''under'' the Conscious (hidden, stashed away, repressed). Following Lacan's crucial revision, the Unconscious - in a new, topographic model - is parallel/simultaneous to the conscious.

But if this was a metaphor, meaning to say that the middle classes are no longer aware of the economic mechanisms pulling the strings of their Unconscious desires, then I understand what you mean.

(Although please let's not exaggerate; it would be silly Baudrillardian pessimism to claim such an-omnipotency for the new media, which apart from being imperfect, so that the technology breaks, are also frequently too DUMB even for a half-conscious consumer; to see in them such a threat, is to ascribe them the power I don't believe they have!)

dejan said...

I mean the decicive weight of the middle class in the economy - the economy is literally unconscious, ie it's not conscious - that sort of thing

This statement contains an unconscious adumbration, you see; for it is in the old-fashioned, hydraulic model of personality, exercised by Dr. Freud, that one spoke of the Unconscious as if it were ''under'' the Conscious (hidden, stashed away, repressed). Following Lacan's crucial revision, the Unconscious - in a new, topographic model - is parallel/simultaneous to the conscious.

But if this was a metaphor, meaning to say that the middle classes are no longer aware of the economic mechanisms pulling the strings of their Unconscious desires, then I understand what you mean.

(Although please let's not exaggerate; it would be silly Baudrillardian pessimism to claim such an-omnipotency for the new media, which apart from being imperfect, so that the technology breaks, are also frequently too DUMB even for a half-conscious consumer; to see in them such a threat, is to ascribe them the power I don't believe they have!)

DEJAN said...

example - the PC was dumb enough to publish my comment 3 times!

dejan said...

The only escape from self-loathing is immersion in the imaginary -- which is a fun place to be if somebody will pay you to play.

but on the other hand, what if this immersion is necessary? what would we do without the middle classes, even deluded?

catmint said...

"This statement contains an unconscious adumbration, you see; for it is in the old-fashioned, hydraulic model of personality"

yeah, I'm thinking of early Freud where "the unconscious" just means a part of the nervous system that isn't conscious.

"What I think's interesting about our society is that it's not set up by the capitalist class as an impregnable fortress"

what happens with environmental planning: the set up of shops, factories, housing - is that a lot of this is left to the market - ie the aggregate of many decisions - by all classes weighted by the amount of money spent. This is a simplified heuristic model that's common to economists from Smith onwards, including Marx. Then there's complications to consider: the role of the state, monopoly, market failure, illegality etc

catmint said...

"but on the other hand, what if this immersion is necessary? what would we do without the middle classes, even deluded?"

I've drifted along way from orthodox marxism here - I wrote this yesterday because I was listening to a monologue by someone at work - and their demeanor sort of suggested to me - because I'd lost interest in the text proper - that they thought their face was disfigured by their bourgeois neuroses - it's a sort of parody

I don't know, I'm not sure I feel that sorry for the bourgeois consumer - should we do something to help him out of his bourgeois situation? pay for the bourgeois consumer to swim with dolphins? what are the pros & cons?

Le Colonel Chabert said...

" Moscow basically decreed that "Bourgeois" was synonymous with "Incorrect" - and you find an (admittedly more nuanced) version of this in Gramsci."

I think this unfair to Gramsci:

Romantic conception of the innovator. According to this concept the innovator is someone who wants to destroy everything that exists, without worrying about what will happen afterwards since one already knows that in a metaphysical sense every destruction is creation, indeed one only destroys what is then replaced by a new creation. Alongside this romantic idea goes a 'rational' or 'enlightenment' idea, the belief that everything which exists is a 'trap' set by the strong for the weak, by the cunning for the poor in spirit. The danger comes from the fact that in an 'enlightenment'way the words are taken literally, materially. The philosophy of praxis versus this way of seeing things. The truth of the matter is that everything which exists is 'rational', it has had or has a useful function. The fact that what exists has existed, has been justified, because it 'conforms'to the way of living, thinking and acting of the ruling class, does not mean that it has become 'irrational' because the dominant class has been stripped of its power and its strength of influence over the whole of society. A truth which is forgotten is that what exists has had its justification, it has been useful, rational and has 'facilitated' historical development and life. It is true that at a certain point this stops being the case, that certain forms of life change from being means of progress into a stumbling block, an obstacle. But it is not true 'over the whole area'. It is true where it is true, namely in the highest forms of life, the decisive ones, those that mark the peak of the progress, etc.. But life does not develop uniformly; it develops by partial advances, by peaks, by a 'pyramidal growth' so to speak. Hence it is necessary to study the history of each way of life, its original 'rationality' and, once this has been recognized, to ask whether this rationality still exists in each individual case, insofar as the conditions on which it is based are still present. What one tends to forget is that these ways of life appear to the people who live them as absolute, as something 'natural,' as they put it, and to indicate their 'historicity' is of itself a formidable step, to show that they are justified so long as certain conditions exist, but when these conditions change they are no longer justified and become 'írrational.' Hence the argument against certain ways of living and acting takes on an odious, persecutory character, it becomes a question of 'intelligence' or 'stupidity' etc.. Intellectualism, pure enlightenment thinking, against which one must struggle relentlessly. We can deduce 1) that every fact has been 'rational,' 2) that it should be opposed when it is no longer rational, no longer in conformity with its ends, but is dragging itself along with the sluggishness of habit, 3) that it is wrong to suppose that just because a way of living, acting or thinking has become 'irrational' in a given environment it has thereby become irrational everywhere and for everyone and is only kept alive by malice or stupidity; 4) that it is nonetheless true that when a way of thinking, living and acting has become irrational somewhere, this is of the very greatest importance and should be clarified in every possible way. Thus one starts by modifying habits, which will facilitate substantial changes once conditions have changed; it will make habitual behaviour less 'sluggish.' Another point to establish is this: the fact that a whole way of living, acting and feeling has been introduced into the whole of society because it is that of the ruling class does not of itself mean that it is irrational and should be rejected, On close inspection one can see that there are two aspects of every fact: one which is 'rational', i.e. economical or in conformity with its ends, and one which is 'fashionable,' a particular expression of the former, rational aspect. It is rational to wear shoes, but the particular style of of one's shoes will be determined by fashion. ...One can see, in other words, that when the ruling class invents a new utility which is more economical and more suitable to given conditions or given ends, it has at the same time stamped 'its own' particular form on this invention, this new utility. One has to be stubborn and blind to confuse permanent utility (when it is permanent) with fashion, By contrast, the task of the moralist, the creator of ways of behaving, is to analyse ways of being and living and to criticize them, shearing off what is permanent, useful, rational, in conformity with a desired end (so long as that end lasts) from what is accidental, snobbish, apish, etc.. It can be useful to create an original 'fashion' on the basis of the 'rational,' a new form which can arouse interest.

The error of the way of thinking we have mentioned can be seen from the fact that it has limitations. For instance no one (unless they are mad) is going to advocate that people should no longer be taught to read and write because reading and writing were undeniably introduced by the ruling class, because writing serves to spread certain kinds of literature or to write blackmail letters or the memoranda of spies.

dejan said...

For instance no one (unless they are mad) is going to advocate that people should no longer be taught to read and write because reading and writing

Ah Colonel! Il fait long que j tái vu!

So why are you going around advocating that just because someone burgeois discovered the Unconscious, now that Unconscious is a construct instead of a reality?

dejan said...

I don't know, I'm not sure I feel that sorry for the bourgeois consumer - should we do something to help him out of his bourgeois situation? pay for the bourgeois consumer to swim with dolphins? what are the pros & cons?

Let me rephrase my question: if you get rid of the middle classes,what do you replace them with? The middle classes guarantee a level of democracy next to being the guarantors (of the survival of) the capitalist order.

ktismatics said...

"I'm not sure I feel that sorry for the bourgeois consumer."

Do I feel sorry for the bourgeois creator? Through expertise, imagination and effort the creator brings something different into the world. But the innovation will be commodified, handed over to the marketing department, and turned into a fetish, its value as a creation replaced by its market value.

The quote from Gramsci supports the notion that true innovations (not mere fashion) may have lasting value even if they become perverted or rendered useless by the socioeconomic context in which they're embedded. But what if the innovator knows in advance that the corruption is inevitable, and that the marketplace no longer distinguishes between innovation and fashion? One option is to embrace the marketplace as a compromise: at least I get my innovations out there; it's better than nothing. Another is to quit innovating. A third is to repress one's awareness of the inevitable corruption, or perhaps never to allow oneself to become aware of it in the first place.

Now the meaning of one's innovativeness, the glory and perversion and complicity of it all, becomes part of the unconscious. This unconscious isn't beneath consciousness; consciousness is immersed in it. The creator becomes immersed in a neurotic, or a neurogenic, environment. Now the psychoanalysis of the individual bourgeois unconscious turns into an investigation of the marketplace from the viewpoint of the individual worker.

dejan said...

But what if the innovator knows in advance that the corruption is inevitable, and that the marketplace no longer distinguishes between innovation and fashion?

There are other options besides the ones you named. The innovator can work around, or work through the codes and demands of the market - as Lynch did when he turned Twin Peaks from a conventional soap opera into a sublime piece of poetical metaphysics. An innovation is not ONLY the sum of its material parts!

catmint said...

"Let me rephrase my question: if you get rid of the middle classes,what do you replace them with? The middle classes guarantee a level of democracy next to being the guarantors (of the survival of) the capitalist order."

no I don't think they are guaranteurs of the capitalist order, or democracy by conscious action. I think it's more realistic to say competition between capitalists, market failure and technological expansion are the guaranteurs of democracy.

I'm absolutely NOT trying to racialise the middle class here - nor am I objecting to middle class standards of life - only pointing out a correlation between politcal organisation in and outside the workplace.

catmint said...

Chabert! You've returned!

Yes, I probably have been unfair to Gramsci - though I think I could find what I describe in his pre-prison writings and in glosses by other people of his later work.

"the fact that a whole way of living, acting and feeling has been introduced into the whole of society because it is that of the ruling class does not of itself mean that it is irrational and should be rejected"

I agree with his line of argument here. One thing I thought was really good in Malcolm Bull's article on Farewell to an Idea was that he stresses that the ruling class didn't dominate culture in the same way in Italy as in England. I'll try to flesh out this argument later...

ktismatics thanks too - I'm afraid I now have to head off to create in bourgeois society

catmint said...

I think there's a real difference in approach between Gramsci here:

"the fact that a whole way of living, acting and feeling has been introduced into the whole of society because it is that of the ruling class does not of itself mean that it is irrational and should be rejected"

"when the ruling class invents a new utility which is more economical and more suitable to given conditions or given ends, it has at the same time stamped 'its own' particular form on this invention, this new utility"

and Marx here:

"One fine morning, in the year 1836, Nassau W. Senior, who may be called the bel-esprit of English economists, well known, alike for his economical "science," and for his beautiful style, was summoned from Oxford to Manchester, to learn in the latter place the political economy that he taught in the former. The manufacturers elected him as their champion, not only against the newly passed Factory Act, but against the still more menacing Ten-hours' agitation. With their usual practical acuteness, they had found out that the learned Professor "wanted a good deal of finishing;" it was this discovery that caused them to write for him. On his side the Professor has embodied the lecture he received from the Manchester manufacturers, in a pamphlet, entitled: "Letters on the Factory Act, as it affects the cotton manufacture." London, 1837. Here we find, amongst others, the following edifying passage: "Under the present law, no mill in which persons under 18 years of age are employed,...can be worked more than 11½ hours a day, that is 12 hours for 5 days in the week, and nine on Saturday. "

for instance. A different way of theorising the ruling class.

catmint said...

"its assumption that the Unconscious is historically produced"

wasn't Le Colonel's argument not that the unconscious is historically conditioned (in the medium term) but that Lacan's theory of the unconscious is historically conditioned?

Le Colonel Chabert said...

"I think there's a real difference in approach between Gramsci here:"

yers, AG was partial to reading, writing, shoes and, most emphatically, detachable shirt collars, which he found very convenient and cleanly. He was not for wage slavery, tiresome italian plays about bourgeois infidelity, war, private ownership of the means of production. Our task is to discover if it is possible to have detachable shirt collars and dante in paperback without massive bloodbaths, propertylessness and exploitation. Now, no one has yet succeeded in convincing me that these things come attached inextricably and that their association is not merely coincidence. Though it is of course the job of bourgeois clerks to insist that all this is a package forever, and that indeed not only literature but food, sunlight and kanoodling are impossible without capitalist private property and frequent massive violence and destruction.

dejan said...

wasn't Le Colonel's argument not that the unconscious is historically conditioned (in the medium term) but that Lacan's theory of the unconscious is historically conditioned?

but if Lacan's theory of the unconscious is historically conditioned, then that unconscious is, as well, for then Lacan theorized the unconscious under the influence of a certain historic context.

The first logical complaint against this is that if we stay within Lacan's system and accept that the unconscious is structured by language, and language is just as much of the burgeoisie as it is of the working classes, ... you catch my drift!

Now of course you can NOT accept Lacan's idea of the linguistic structuring of the Unconscious, but then you have to come up with something better than Le Colonel's idealized and virtuous ''working classes'', ''the oppressed'', or ''battered women of the holy black femidom sinod'', to prove that some OTHER kind of psychology is applicable to humanity.

And I have not heard of such a proposal from Marxists, save for those 1960s Erich Fromm spinoffs which ended up commodified in capitalism.

catmint said...

"but if Lacan's theory of the unconscious is historically conditioned, then that unconscious is, as well, for then Lacan theorized the unconscious under the influence of a certain historic context."

Economics is similar to psychology here in that it's a complex field where it's necessary to simplify. So writers at different times emphasise different things. You can say that the ideas of any period are historically conditioned without implying a change in the object of inquiry. ie the mercantilist ideas of the 17th century have a pronounced difference from the free trade ideas of the 19th century - without the relation being that (or that wholly) of a primitive science refining itself.

That Lacan described adequately a trans-historical unconscious: an unconscious presumably applicable from the mesolithic onwards, without his theory being dependant on advances in technology, eg in mathematics, biology - such a scenario raises the question of why no-one else thought of this.

"The first logical complaint against this is that if we stay within Lacan's system and accept that the unconscious is structured by language, and language is just as much of the burgeoisie as it is of the working classes, ... you catch my drift!"

yes, I agree, language is universal in this sense.

"Now of course you can NOT accept Lacan's idea of the linguistic structuring of the Unconscious, but then you have to come up with something better than Le Colonel's idealized and virtuous ''working classes'', ''the oppressed'', or ''battered women of the holy black femidom sinod'', to prove that some OTHER kind of psychology is applicable to humanity."

I don't believe Lacan's theory is the default option. I don't think Lacan's very influential, with social workers, academic psychologists, teachers, ordinary workers and bourgeoisie. Lacan has influenced people who write continental philosophy, but this isn't an important field as far as the economy goes. It isn't the case that ideas are generated in Continental Philosophy and emanate out into the general sphere of life, at least that's not my impression.

"And I have not heard of such a proposal from Marxists, save for those 1960s Erich Fromm spinoffs which ended up commodified in capitalism."

What was the default in Tito's Yugoslavia? some kind of materialist psychology surely? just as it is in Britain and America where the romantic tradition was relegated to literature very early on.

catmint said...

"yers, AG was partial to reading, writing, shoes and, most emphatically, detachable shirt collars, which he found very convenient and cleanly. He was not for wage slavery, tiresome italian plays about bourgeois infidelity, war, private ownership of the means of production. Our task is to discover if it is possible to have detachable shirt collars and dante in paperback without massive bloodbaths, propertylessness and exploitation. Now, no one has yet succeeded in convincing me that these things come attached inextricably and that their association is not merely coincidence. Though it is of course the job of bourgeois clerks to insist that all this is a package forever, and that indeed not only literature but food, sunlight and kanoodling are impossible without capitalist private property and frequent massive violence and destruction."

thanks Chabert, yes, I agree in this AG is quite correct

"dante in paperback"

This morning I read the first chapter of William Empson's Some Versions of Pastoral - he promises to explain how Alice in Wonderland is built around the elision of unequal class relations

ktismatics said...

"such a scenario raises the question of why no-one else thought of this."

Dejan has forbidden me to speak about Lacan until I've read Fink's book. Hypothetically, then, one must wonder what sort of sociohistoric context might spawn the idea of the unconscious as (a) an intrapsychic entity or force (b) comprised of signifiers without signifieds and (c) structured like a language. On each of these three dimensions alternative notions can be, and have been, imagined. Which is fine with me: the more metapsychologies the better.

What I find more problematic is that so many ideas that could be thought aren't, and so many already-thought ideas never get communicated to anyone else. Surely there are intrinsic limitations in the human imagination, but sociocultural conditions also impose limits on the kinds of thoughts that are going to arise and be disseminated. These limits are unconscious almost tautologically.

There was a time when the detachable collar seemed like a good idea; so too the idea of a really long poem about the afterlife. What good ideas are we not able to think up by ourselves or grasp when others think them up because the socioeconomic situation either cannot or will not allow these thoughts to take shape in consciousness? And what limitations must we consciously or unconsciously impose on ourselves in order to think up ideas that our contemporaries might find valuable? Massive violence and destruction aren't necessary to keep good ideas from arising and spreading. Indifference and distraction work plenty well enough.

dejan said...

I don't believe Lacan's theory is the default option. I don't think Lacan's very influential, with social workers, academic psychologists, teachers, ordinary workers and bourgeoisie.

Psychoanalysis has been, and continues to be subversive. That's why it's not popular. It has been equally subversive of the burgeois, and of the socialist. Quite simply because it tells you that your Unconscious means something else than what you say. It's no accident that researchers in structuralist psycholinguistics used to be the targets of Stalinist chistki (cleansing programs), just as nowadays capitalism doesn't like the psychoanalytic ''pessimism''.

On the other hand, with the increasing popularity of nonlinear models (in physics, and I assume also in economy) I think Lacan is much more popular than in the xx century.

In Yugoslavia (and this still strikes me as an oddity because in Western Europe, pompous academic asses think they're the top of the world) the academia and the clinic used both the Anglo-Saxonic behavioral model and the Franco-Russian psychoanalytic one. In this way you were always able to choose. In the US, for example, there's an overbearing bias towards empirical psychology. Here's one evidence for the fact that ''free choice'' is not the exclusive privilege of capitalism - in fact, far from it!

I was shocked repeatedly to attend international conferences in Slovenia where it would turn out that the Brits didn't have a clue about Piaget or Vigotsky - this was somewhere in the late 1980s.

ktismatics said...

"Psychoanalysis has been, and continues to be subversive. That's why it's not popular."

So does Lacanian psychoanalysis itself operate as the sociocultural unconscious, generating linguistically-structured material that is experienced not as communication but as symptom?

catmint said...

"just as nowadays capitalism doesn't like the psychoanalytic pessimism"

I think there's huge potential for pop-psych, but then the question is whether this can be a useful resource for the consumer, or if it's necessarily going to be simplified to the point of being just *affective* - just a feeling you tap into.

You're probably going to struggle to get funding for work that's too complex and depressing. I don't think it's a fiat though. Just a reasoned appraisal of the market.

dejan said...

So does Lacanian psychoanalysis itself operate as the sociocultural unconscious, generating linguistically-structured material that is experienced not as communication but as symptom?

I do not understand the question. Of course a verbal process will generate linguistically structured material. Experienced as a symptom of what?

dejan said...

I think there's huge potential for pop-psych, but then the question is whether this can be a useful resource for the consumer, or if it's necessarily going to be simplified to the point of being just *affective* - just a feeling you tap into.

Lacan is already almost de rigeur in Hollywood film, starting from around ''The Sixth Sense'' but also contained in the way current Hollywood films deploy Lacanese strategies that used to be the exclusive territory of the avant garde: all those non-linear plots, ambiguous endings and multiple personality disorders.

I don't think this is very interesting for Marxism - the difference is that despite using psychoanalysis, Hollywood films reproduce the ruling burgeois ideology, but we've discussed this one to death with Chabert. (and we have also put huge question marks on the idea that avant garde films still actually undermine the burgeois ideology)

You're probably going to struggle to get funding for work that's too complex and depressing. I don't think it's a fiat though. Just a reasoned appraisal of the market.

Last year, worried about the consequences of commercialization and Americanization of every single culture branche in Holland, the Minister of culture introduced an extra 5 million exclusively for arthouse animation / cinema. So it should be possible now to get money for making something personal, poetic, original etc. I have no idea how it is in England, where the animation market is much wider than here. I know that in France, where David Lynch often tops the charts, you can still get money for ''complex and pessimistic'' stuff, although that stuff as far as I can see has become just as formulaic as Hollywodo cinema - always a perverse or kinky trio, existential angst, splitting, doubling and ''provocative'' sex with the aging Isabelle Huppert or Charlotte Rampling in Ozon's gay movies. I did however see a truly magnificient personal movie - INNOCENCE by Lucille Handzililovic - coming last year or so from France.

dejan said...

Luke what I don't understand in this whole dicussion (and moving away from Lacan, who isn't really pertinent here) is:

what does modern Marxism envisage as the way to deal with the burgeoisie?

ktismatics said...

"I do not understand the question."

Never mind. Of the comments I've put up on this post, this is the only one that doesn't mean much to me, and it's a distraction from the topic at hand to pursue it further.

dejan said...

Ktismatics you are now expressly FORBIDDEN by the Parody Cenrter to discuss one WORD of Lacan without having first read Bruce Fink's book and provided wrientten evidence in the form of a short essay summary!!!

ktismatics said...

Though I may not speak, I can still think...

dejan said...

Though I may not speak, I can still think...

Only after I have destituted you subjectively!

Catmint, will you please extend the Marxist argument so that Le Cobra can finally get over her grumpiness and return to the endless debate (tm) series. Obviously it's not the same without her!

catmint said...

"what does modern Marxism envisage as the way to deal with the burgeoisie?"

the short answer is that individuals acting on an individual basis can do hardly anything

I've muddied the issue a bit by using "the bourgeois consumer" to mean the middle class as interpellated by the media, for my own amusement

but concretely, what can the general population in developed countries do to restrain the owners of capital from acting against the common good?

I think the situation now in many ways parallels the situation in Europe before the first world war - before the effects of the setting up of a war economy and the Russian Revolution, along with effective action by unions, changed the historical process from that envisaged by Marx.

I think Lenins Tomb is excellent, as a counter to the newspapers, but I think the language of the SWP still reaches out toward a Trade Union movement that hardly exists, and a Marxism that hardly exists. Society in Europe now is basically Liberal accross all classes, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. So rather than fetishising Marx I think it's more important to stress how a materialist conception of society coincides with the analysis of Marx etc.

catmint said...

"what does modern Marxism envisage as the way to deal with the burgeoisie?"

I can't really speak for Marxism - in the way the ventriloquist speaks for the dummy. I think the analysis in Capital is directly relevant to the Europe of the past fifteen years or so.

the question really is whether the working class can find anything useable in the writings of Marx (or Gramsci or whoever)

dejan said...

I think Lenins Tomb is excellent, as a counter to the newspapers, but I think the language of the SWP still reaches out toward a Trade Union movement that hardly exists, and a Marxism that hardly exists. Society in Europe now is basically Liberal accross all classes, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

That's what I think as well, but I find it doubly pathetic because in talking to a spectral dummy like that, they serve the lords quite wonderfully.

My idea on this issue is that indeed Marxism will evolve into something that doesn't necessarily operate on the burgeois-worker binary, in any case it will evolve...

catmint said...

"will you please extend the Marxist argument so that Le Cobra can finally get over her grumpiness and return to the endless debate (tm) series"

I ought to say, the extent to which we feel that a story about a gay hamster, however brilliant, conformss to savoir faire, while a concrete analysis of the political situation in Haiti is hopelessly eccentric, is the extent to which we identify our interests with the perpetuation of the status quo.