Monday, December 01, 2008

the two sorts of policework

There are two sorts of policework. In one you investigate crimes and try to establish who is responsible for them, in the other you identify suspicious characters and try to establish whether they have committed any crimes. So these two methods might appear to be represent the logic of induction used in contrary directions. Psychoanalysis is a heuristics of suspicion. It resembles the second kind of policework.

Sometimes an hour or so passes between me writing one sentence and writing the next sentence, such is the nature of working life. I find the fragmentary style this engenders quite appealing. It seems appropriate to the world of today. Don't be surprised if the police metaphor is suddenly dropped.

The argument in notes on Fourier is precisely psychoanalytical. The rhetotic of psychoanalysis has for a long time been unmoored from the domain of psychotherapy, which it no longer needs for support. Slavoj Zizek can sell his books psychoanalysing the products of complex social relations - films or historical events - precisely because the minimum requirement for the deployment of psychoanalytical rhetoric is a minimally paranoid spectator. Psychanalysis can proceed perfectly well without having to analyse the psyche.

Karl Marx thought Fourier deserved respect as a precursor of future proletarian literature and as a heterodox critic of bourgeois civilisation. Consequently aren't the notes on Fourier somewhat unfair?

Psychoanalysis has two aspects:

1. the multiplication of perspectives

2. the evaluation of these perspectives according to their degree of suspiciousness

the classic style of psychoanalytical explanation maintains a certain tension between disbelief and suspicion; that is, it plays on the discontinuity between the results of reasoning by two sorts of induction.

So, it can be assumed that we started off with a perfectly reasonable explanation for Fourier's utopian fantasies:

1. that Fourier really wanted to solve society's problems

we invented an alternative explanation:

2. that the problem Fourier is really trying to solve is the literary problem of the petit bourgeoisie

The first explanation is correct but falls short of a complete explanation. The heuristics of suspicion favour the second explanation - it makes Fourier's motives more suspicious. Psychoanalysis.