Thursday, June 28, 2007

Orwell & Adorno

IS BAD WRITING NECESSARY?

George Orwell, Theodor Adorno, and the Politics of Literature

BY JAMES MILLER

These are trying times for the left in America, which may be one reason why a bitter debate has erupted among avowedly left-wing academics and intellectuals over a venerable topic--"Politics and the English Language," to borrow the title of George Orwell's famous 1946 essay. Must one write clearly, as Orwell argued, or are thinkers who are truly radical and subversive compelled to write radically and subversively--or even opaquely, as if through a glass darkly? That is the question.
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-- via wood s lot

29 comments:

Le Colonel Chabert said...

I'd known Judith Butler was given that bad writing award years ago, but hadn't seen the actual sentence she was "honoured" for until recently. There's nothing wrong with it actually - it makes sense, and it is moreover worth understanding:

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Perhaps for a newspaper, an editor woudl break this into two sentences, with the description of the structuralist tendency standing alone, and its alternative in a second sentence. But it would be wrong to deny something of the emphasis would be lost. What would improve it is proper punctuation - that is, the commas which are missing around the appositive phrase:


The move from a structuralist account, in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways, to a view of hegemony, in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation, brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

If one really want to nitpick, one could change vague terms like "bound up with" for more specific terms, preferably also active. But the vagueness is probably not due to "bad writing" so much as to Butler not really being able to specify what hegemony has to do with contingency.

I think the problem is; there is some very good reason for some difficult writing, or writing that some people find difficult. There is now a prejudice, arising from the domination of images and video-consumption, against long and complicated sentences which contain multiple clauses and phrases. Shorter attention spans combined with demands for frequent pay off - the premature ejaculation style of writing that magazines and advertising favour (basketball as opposed to - yerupeen - football). But there is also a tremendous amount of fraudulent product, produced by mediocre clerks, 'rote learners' who just try to imitate the style of some fashionable difficult writing without really understanding it themselves or, more importantly, having anything to say. There are authors who seem to pass their entire careers as if taking an endless exam, forced to write about topics to which they have nothing to add. The inability to distinguish difficult writing with content from difficult writing without content is widespread in the receiving audience, and indicates the scope of general confusion and zombification in the niche concerned.

Then there is the professional requirement of style that tends to encourage a certain goofy imitation of technical language in writing in the humanities. Richard Dienst's interesting 1995 book Still Life in Real Time contains this: "Far from delivering viewers outside the system (as implied in statements like 'video recorders are agents of popular power'), the VCR allows the semantics of televisual signification to persist outside the restricting temporalities of syntax." It has content, but is just edging into the terrain where a certain style dominates and renders the content vaguer than it ought to be, while giving the illusion of a greater clarity due to the use of words that have the flavour of technical jargon but are here in fact quite ambiguous. (the plural of temporality, the uncertain implications of the otherwise attractively active verb "persist", etc).

Spivak is often unfairly targeted about her prose; she's really not that major an offender. What shows up in much of her writing is the pressure to write or to lecture when you have nothing but vague questions to convey. When you write that some rhetoric "participates" in some list of "discourses" what you are saying is you notice this correllation and connection but don't know how it works. So you don't have anything to say yet, just an intuition. But as there is professional pressure to publish, you make half a book out of such vague intuitions, and phrase them in such a way as to give them an air of assertions. Thus the sudden appearance of a new commodity - the "insight". Which is an intuition which is still vague. In the 80s really there was a shift in posture among people producing criticims from solving problems to "problematizing". This is a good thing, as Butler notes - but she refuses to treat this in any context or with a sense of proportion. At some point a threshold was crossed in the industry of "critique" from a critical reflexivity to the dominance of bewilderment. The profession launched a total war on the obvious, taking up obfuscation as the primary task. This is a case of real economic pressures (to publish, in an increasingly stressed, competitive and insecure profession) combining with cultural conditions (declining traditional erudition among professionals, the success of anticommunism, the rewards for everything serviceable to capital, the punishment for all product that is not serviceable) to encourage a trend in culture production that a significant segment of professionals in the industry concerned could not help but recognise as determined, indeed "vulgarly" determined, and amenable to debunking as a fashion.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

In her letter to the London Review, before quoting Minima Moralia, Butler praises Spivak in terms Adorno would recognize--as a brave voice in the cultural wilderness. But in the same letter, she marvels at the sheer size of Spivak's readership and even claims that the "wide-ranging audience for Spivak's work proves that spoon-feeding is less appreciated than forms of activist thinking and writing."

While Butler may hope by endorsing Adorno's position to justify her style of writing, and that of countless other left academics, she cannot have it both ways. Either a key criterion of a truly radical theory is its austere indifference to being widely "appreciated," or it is not. If the criterion of a truly radical theory is its inaccessibility and consequent evasion of the cash nexus (Adorno's basic position in Minima Moralia), then a theory advertised as radical that nevertheless reaches a "wide-ranging audience" under conditions of commodity production must, ipso facto, not be truly radical.


this is a good point but misses that the style is not the sole factor determining the (political) radicalism of a text. The style of historical materialist criticism of culture can be very similar to Butler's idealist bourgeois product. I think there is a greater tendency in Marxists to clarity of language, specificity of terms (and consistent use of terms), than in the "Marxian" or liberal or reactionary post-structuralist stuff, but naturally there are features and characteristics shared by members of a single profession and producers in a single cultural niche across the lines of political commitments and persuasion. Deleuze's writing is more ambiguous than Lefebvre's. The fallacy of form (a text about boredom should be boring; a text about "becoming" should use words in such a way as to suggest they are becoming other words) dogs a lot of idealist product. But one cannot really say the aim of dislodging the image which is increasingly ensconced in language - the cliché, the reification, the received idea - which often requires "convoluted" language and recusive rhetoric, is itself reactionary or obfuscatory. It really depends. And not only on the text in question, in isolation, but on its context, when and where it appears, by whom it was written and by whom read, to what it replies, etc.. The isolation of text for evaluation of its clarity in no context might be the more reactionary gesture than the resort to pseudo-technical jargon and/or the deployment of vaguely poetic effects. As fairy construction wildly proliferates due to television, it is natural that certain producers of ancillary product will take up the task of dismantling these fairies, but it's not easy. It is harder every year. Look at this debate at idelete and weblog. People love "generalisations", that is, television, the simulacrum of understanding, this kind of barbie playhouse "thought" and "politics", they imbibe from television made for kidsndummies. Wresting one's own utterances from the machine of cliché manufacture, the set menu of childish pseudo-thoughts, this densely packed images supplied by corporations to replace languaged human thought and which encloses new words everyday, rendering them useless (you can't use "parallax" intelligibly anymore for example; you have to first fight to disengage it from Zizek's control and ownership and redefinition/production into commodity-image), drives plenty of writers into tactics that lack elegance. But it is often unavoidable. The only "easy" strategy for evading translation of your text into prefab pseudo-content capsules from the Menu of Received Commodity-Thoughts is satire, but it too is losing its efficacy as audiences lose their rationality, upon which satire depends.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

One of the reasons this debate drags on and on for half a century with no sign of slowing is nobody in the profession can accept that the only important question was answered before they were born. The underlying question is "what is this for?" (What is the industry's purpose?) Only if you can decide what this product is for can you decide whether obscure or clear language is better (and can you perpetuate the notion that one or the other is better, and refuse to entertain the possibility that both, and the competition and struggle between them, is actually best for the industry.) The answer is that this is an industry of commodity production which is, apart from its role in the training of managers, principally part of circulation stimulation - advertising, marketing and promotion - for other commodities. Judith Butler produces commodities which encourage the consumption of other commodities. That's the purpose of this industry. A certain portion of professionals in this industry find this simply impossible to accept so continue to debate various propositions which are all based on not knowing this or not accepting this. Because the underlying premise of all these debates is wrong, the debates can never be resolved. This is convenient for the industry - the debates are among its major commodity product lines - and so is encouraged and contributions to it rewarded.

Qlipoth said...

Thanks, Colonel. I've never read by a word by Spivak, but the examples cited by Eagleton are gruesome. Otherwise I agree with nearly everything you say. To take the Richard Dienst quote:

"Far from delivering viewers outside the system (as implied in statements like 'video recorders are agents of popular power'), the VCR allows the semantics of televisual signification to persist outside the restricting temporalities of syntax."

Is anything important really lost by translating it as follows?

"Far from freeing viewers from the system (as implied in statements such 'video recorders are agents of popular power'), the VCR makes mass-media productions potentially omnipresent, day and night, and thus even more powerfully insidious than hitherto."

(I can see that the latter version looks considerably weedier, both in form and content, but at least it's not pumped up with steroids.)

Clearly, or rather opaquely, he's trying to say something about the language (or "language") of TV here, and about language generally, but I can't see that he's managing to say it. -- "X allows the semantics of Y signification to persist outside the restricting temporalities of syntax." What can this possibly mean? How could such a feat possibly be achieved, by any medium, or by any piece of technology? Even if we grant that the sentence is not strictly meaningless (and I'm not sure that it isn't), it is surely just demonstrably wrong about what VCRs actually allow.

http://www.pedestrian.tv/images/musclemen.jpg

(In a rush, the shops are about to close here.)

Qlipoth said...

"statements such" = "statements such as"

Qlipoth said...

"nobody in the profession can accept that the only important question was answered before they were born. The underlying question is "what is this for?" (What is the industry's purpose?)"

Exactly. And I'd just mention in passing that there is an equally visible inflation of language in marketing and business, a real linguistic arms race apparently. I recently helped a German guy with his incredibly pretentious and overblown job application for a higher-management post in a multinational firm with subsidiaries in both germany and britain. He was fine with me tidying up the syntax and grammar and removing the germanisms, but he wanted all the unspeakably pretentious marketing and "psychology" verbiage left in. I said "OK, on your own head be it, but don't blame me if you don't get the job." He got the job. And I was paid very well for helping him.

- Eggs, fruit, olive oil, RIESLING...

Le Colonel Chabert said...

thanks Q; I chose the Dienst because it's actually a pretty good book which only occasionally exhibits this kind of thing, so that one can look at this sentence in its context and see precisely how the jargon and style is interfering with the analysis the text undertakes. When you have a whole text written like this, it's different, there is a dominant operation of obfuscation and nothing really competing with it; when you have a text with little elements like this, which are legible (retrievable) in their context, you can sort of see the functioning of this style more clearly because in this case it fails (the context clarifies what the style obscures). That sentence comes in the middle of an account of raymond williams' remarks on television, and Dienst is discussing the development of television, as opposed to cinema, and the importance of instantaneousness and "real time" to the conception of television as a medium: initially televsion did not require recording, any more than telephones did. It was initially unlike cinema in this respect. Then he goes on to speak of the introduction of recording in various ways into television, finally suggesting that the implications - the ideological suggestion - of the instantaneous "distant seeing" of the medium of television continue to dominate how recorded images are perceived when consumed in this medium and through its apparatus. An impression of "real time" (producing an illusion of distant seeing of a world, of watching history unfolding in your living room) associated with the medium itself (with the image of the medium) and its technology somehow persists even when one is watching recorded programmes out of broadcast schedule. This may or may not be an accurate observation regarding how people perceive videotape viewed on tv screens; it may be more true sometimes and someplaces than others; but at least it is an intelligible proposition. What the invasion of that style there does is give an aura of metaphysical mystery, of a certain ineffability - piling up ambiguities, visibly vainly struggling for words - to a suggestion that is perhaps not just obvious and banal, requiring one to engage in abstraction, but not in the least mystical. In this way it protects the proposition from critique but at the price of the persuasiveness of the proposition itself, and generally encourages a sense of wonder and befuddlement befogging the inquiry underway. (In this book that's not a huge factor, actually, but this is why the effect is so obvious here, while in many others it is dominant and really does succeed in fending off critique and sort of deactivating rationality). This jargon and style may entice some readers and writers because it seems to offer a short way to defamiliarising and thus deactivating clichés, but it is very convenient for the transformation of conceptual abstractions into fairy production or mysticism, that is, to the ultimate abolition of conceptual abstraction and its replacement by fetishism.

Qlipoth said...

Thanks for the summary of Dienst's book, colonel. It does sound interesting, maybe I'll order it. (Who was it who said, "The cinema is your host, but the TV is your guest"? A strange guest that hypnotises you and then colonises your house.)

"...the pressure to write or to lecture when you have nothing but vague questions to convey. When you write that some rhetoric "participates" in some list of "discourses" what you are saying is you notice this correllation and connection but don't know how it works. So you don't have anything to say yet, just an intuition. But as there is professional pressure to publish,..."

Exactly again. Maybe in parallel, you have (in the theatre) the professional pressure to direct or to act when you have nothing but vague questions to convey, plus a gap to fill, and a subsidy to justify, and rent to pay. I've heard many thoughtful German actors and directors talk regretfully, and exhaustedly, about "der Betrieb", the factory or business character of the theatre (even and especially in its state-sponsored form): the demand for a certain amount of product, to be supplied dependably every day, every month, every year. Feeding Moloch. A couple of years after the Wall, and a couple of years before his death, Heiner Müller said that the only defensible theatre in the 1990s would be a theatre that nobody wanted to see. He actually came close to achieving that with a couple of productions, including a Brecht fragment, stretched to infinity, which regularly played to 20% capacity (and half of even that audience left before the end). It was actually quite brilliant and simultaneously very boring. So questions began to be asked in newspapers and other high places, and inevitably he was forced to produce a hit, immediately after which he died. And though he's currently pretty much out of fashion, he did have countless very poor imitators, who seemd to intuit very vaguely what he was at but could do nothing with it. ("a tremendous amount of fraudulent product")- Much the same applies to Einar Schleef.

Now here's a Jump Cut (I have learned from Dejan how to camouflage ATD): it was strange for me to see that this businessman I mentioned earlier was apparently required to have mastered the language of contemporary marketing, and to show that he had mastered it, to show willing. It wasn't enough to be eager and capable and forceful and reliable and competent and good with money and able to work under pressure and all that; no, no, he could have been Henry Ford and it wouldn't have mattered: he was to be a (big shiny) corporate cog, so mastery of this language was absolutely required of him. It was as if he had to go through a (long, expensive) apprenticeship and do a test before he was permitted to join the illustrious ranks of the sorcerors. He had to demonstrate that he could obfuscate and mystify his own activity while pretending that he was actually elucidating it. "To justify the ways of God to men."

- Sorry, all this is a really rambling, eh, "associative" response to your excellent posts, which are both complex and lucid , thus proving that it can in fact be done. (The problem is not the length of a sentence or the number of sub-clauses or the complexity of the syntax.) And it's probably no accident that you're outside the academy, which has a lot in common with both the theatre and the corporation, and which is increasingly required to hide what it has become.

Qlipoth said...

The show must go on, and on and on and on.

dejan said...

In the three unneccessarily long comments you wrote here, I hope you realize, the main thought you stated is something like this:

since EVERYTHING is the result of the capitalist commodity-industry, all thought and writing is pointless

from this you derived another implication:

it's best that we return to the 18th century, for there writing was thorough and with content

and another:

ALL visual culture is shit, because it destroys the quality of writing

there are two current strands of thought that directly correlate with your thinking:

(a) the dekline of simbolik efikasy - as dr. Zizek postulates drawing on Lacan, the current crisis of capitalism is caused by humanity's increasing inability to use language (the signifier divorced from the Master signifier)

(b) Baudrillard's simulacrum - the all-enveloping commodity industry envelops everything, and as a result, no change is possible

What remains to be done is kvetching David Lynch fans and complaining endlessly, for that is indeed Colonel Chabert's main task!

dejan said...

...naturally, all this quetching barely disguises the fact that orthopaedic Marxism isn't CAPABLE of doing anything against capitalism, or else it wouldn't be complaining as much!

I do appreciate its value as criticism, as something that puts limits on the proliferation of post-modern readings that end in sollipsism, in a total denial of the human agent, but that's it for me. Apart from that the whole thing just isn't very exciting intellekshually.

dejan said...

The show must go on, and on and on and on.

Indeed, it's one big endless LAMENT - ''there's no time for us, it's all decided for us; this world has only one sweet moment set aside for us... who wants to live forever?"

dejan said...

(The problem is not the length of a sentence or the number of sub-clauses or the complexity of the syntax.)

It's not a problem per se, but it's a problem when like Le Colonel Sherbert you only have ONE thing to say...

Warszawa are you involved in the theater world? Now I understand your affections for Reichianism better!

dejan said...

declining traditional erudition among professionals, the success of anticommunism, the rewards for everything serviceable to capital, the punishment for all product that is not serviceable)\

kvetch, kvetch, kvetch. why don't you just write a book that does it PROPERLY?

Qlipoth said...

"kvetch, kvetch, kvetch"

Dejan, have you reached the Mirror Stage yet?

"why don't you just write a book that does it PROPERLY? "

Oh, this is great. "Your posts are too lengthy and don't interest me anyway, therefore I advise you to write a book-length study (which I wouldn't read, but just mischaracterise and then snigger at)."

"the main thought you stated is something like this"

The main thought the colonel stated was in fact absolutely nothing like that. This is not Cultural Parody but Asinine Misrepresentation.

"Warszawa are you involved in the theater world? Now I understand your affections for Reichianism better! "

I've noticed that many actors are interested in Reich, and not for no reason. If you work in the theatre, it's impossible to forget that you have a body, that you are in fact your body, as is everyone else. For people employed in the academy, or as appendages of Steve Jobs products, it is possible to forget this quite easily. Then lacan starts to look like an interesting student of the human condition.

dejan said...

I've noticed that many actors are interested in Reich, and not for no reason. If you work in the theatre, it's impossible to forget that you have a body, that you are in fact your body, as is everyone else.

I believe it was around 1,000.000 times that I repeated the answer to this to psychodramatists and theatre actors with amateur psychologist aspirations: a Lacanian client is neither PROHIBITED nor PREVENTED from using his body in analysis. Lacan sees the body language, as any other language. The complaint against prohibition comes from the client's other repressed prohibitions - from his parents, namely. There is no prescribed way of expressing yourself in Lacanian analysis, though. And is Lacan to blame that certain of his disciples have transformed his intentions into verbal masturbation?

Your posts are too lengthy and don't interest me anyway,

Why is the Oriental Beauty not responding herself? Evasion tactics! Well ok, I'll just crank up the level of parody. Anyway they DO interest me, or I wouldn't be reading them. WHat doesn't interest me is the surgical Marxist incision which moulds all of Le Sherbert's creative thought in accordance with the Party Line.

Qlipoth said...

"Why is the Oriental Beauty not responding herself? "

Why do people not respond when Jehovah's Witnesses come knocking at the door? It's an unfathomable mystery.

"And is Lacan to blame that certain of his disciples have transformed his intentions into verbal masturbation?"

Not for nothing was Onan called an onanist.

dejan said...

I think there is a greater tendency in Marxists to clarity of language, specificity of terms (and consistent use of terms), than in the "Marxian" or liberal or reactionary post-structuralist stuff...

Here, Warszawa, this is where the Sherbert's intellect encounters its own eclipse. Even the convolutedness of Poetix's thought pales in comparison to the literary output of self-managers in 1970s Yugoslavia. There is no parallel in capitalism to the level of absurdist rhetorics combined with malignant circularity that infested the doublespeak of socialist politicians and cultural theorists. Tony Blair? Don't make me laugh. His speeches sound like poetry in comparison. But the Currency Trader is no longer operating on common sense when she makes such a statement...it is her reactionary Orthodoxic Marxianism that speaks.

dejan said...

Not for nothing was Onan called an onanist.

That's indeed opportune coming from a man who can overflow an airplane with cum!

Qlipoth said...

"a Lacanian client is neither PROHIBITED nor PREVENTED from using his body in analysis."

('Using'?) I am relieved to hear that The Absolute Master did not actually recommend chaining 'the client' to the couch.

"Lacan sees the body language, as any other language."

Then he ignores it and tells the 'client' that his problem actually lies in his faulty relationship to a disembodied Big Other, aka Cthulhu. This faulty relationship can only be corrected by reciting certain complicated magic spells known only to the Absolute Master; and it may take years (if not a lifetime) of solemn recitation before 'the client' finally achieves liberation from Cthulhu's awful tentacles. No one knows how, exactly. (It just kind of happens, eventually, or else it doesn't.) And in the face of such unspeakable mysteries, it would be unspeakably vulgar to ask who's paying whom, and why.

"The complaint against prohibition comes from the client's other repressed prohibitions - from his parents, namely."

Well, somebody should have caled the Nobel Prize Committee. It's a pity Reich and indeed Freud weren't around to experience the benefits of such a stunningly original theoretical Insight. One small step for Lacan, one giant leap for mankind.

dejan said...

('Using'?) I am relieved to hear that The Absolute Master did not actually recommend chaining 'the client' to the couch.

Warszawa you ignoramus, how many times did I tell you that the goal of analysis is to dispel the illusion that ther exists a grand Master pulling the strings? That this is instead what the client erroneously expects to get at the beginning of analysis.

Then he ignores it and tells the 'client' that his problem actually lies in his faulty relationship to a disembodied Big Other, aka Cthulhu.

He does NOT ignore it. He sees the body functioning together with the mind. It is humanist critics like you who actually separate the body from the mind, privileging the body in the name of ''creative expression''.

(It just kind of happens, eventually, or else it doesn't.)

Whereas your cum recipe works under all circumstances for EVERYBODY - like Communism, I guess.Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

dejan said...

And it's probably no accident that you're outside the academy, which has a lot in common with both the theatre and the corporation, and which is increasingly required to hide what it has become.

It's no accident I can tell you that for sure. Her profession - currency peddling - dispenses with the theatre and embraces the corporation fully! She fled the reactionariness and ambiguity of the academia to embrace the directness and concreteness of DIRTY CASH:

money talks! money walks!
dirty cash I want you,
dirty cash I need you all !

Qlipoth said...

No thank you, I have no interest in buying The Watchtower. No really, I'm an atheist. Look, I'm sorry, but I really have to be going...

[Struggles to close door]

Qlipoth said...

"Warszawa you ignoramus, how many times did I tell you that the goal of analysis is to dispel the illusion that ther exists a grand Master pulling the strings? "

I am sorry, sir, please don't cane me, I shall try harder in future. [Sniffles, shuffles, glares at floor, thinks: "But if the master's right, then why do Lacanians write books entitled 'Lacan: The Absolute Master'...?" http://www.amazon.com/Lacan-Absolute-Master-Mikkel-Borch-Jacobsen/dp/0804717281 ]

(Mr. Borch-Jacobsen must have undergone a very effective Lacanian analysis.)

Anyway, repeatedly bellowing "How many times did I tell you!" is not exactly the most persuasive method of dispelling "the illusion that there exists a grand Master pulling the strings". It reminds me of an old poem by Tom Leonard, entitled 'Scots Education', which I here reproduce in full:

Ah telt ye.

Ah telt ye.

dejan said...

I am sorry, sir, please don't cane me, I shall try harder in future.

Call your Sherbertian mistress! Surely she can help you out of this ghastly oppression.

[Sniffles, shuffles, glares at floor, thinks: "But if the master's right, then why do Lacanians write books entitled 'Lacan: The Absolute Master'...?"

There are lots of ignorami in the world who cash in on other people's original contributions (e.g. Slovenly Zizek)...

Anyway, repeatedly bellowing "How many times did I tell you!" is not exactly the most persuasive method of dispelling "the illusion that there exists a grand Master pulling the strings".

The client enters analysis with the expectation of there existing a magical Big Other who possesses the key to his problems, the answer to his questions. As analysis progresses, the client learns that the answer to his questions will be given by his own Unconscious, as he translates its misinterpreted language to the conscious. In the end, ideally, the client will realize that there exists no such thing as a ready-made answer, because desire is by its very nature unquenchable, looping, always reconstructing itself, and your ''identity'' being a construct, you are what you MAKE OF YOURSELF; you now have the freedom to DO something with your life (Here I strongly object to the misinterpretations of Zizekians and Lenininians such as Code Inconnu Poetics or Owen, that the goal of Lacanian therapy is to ''subjectively destitute'' you, face you with nihil ad absurdum, sollipsism, and leave it at that, leave you hanging in the air as one big zero; no, the idea is more to help you realize that you can build yourself into something, realize your dreams, make the impossible possible, unimpeded by fantasmatic fears and neurotic symptoms.

Precisely the opposite of soap opera humanist therapies that teach you to get in touch with your positive inner being, resting on the authority of the therapist, the coach, the guru, the Big Other, and in this way perpetuate your symptomatology (the erroneous belief that there is a positive ''inner core'', whether in yourself or projected into a therapist).

dejan said...

In other words the encounter with the hole inside does not necessarily imply either nihilism or pessimism, rather the thought that this blankness may be filled with what YOU want (instead of doing what other people want you to do).

dejan said...

The nihillation and absurdization procedure was perpetrated post-Lacan, by Derrida most notably, who said that language really means nothing, but Lacan being a clinician didn't take that crucial step beyond the subject, which philosophers and writers can do much more easily because they're not dealing with living human beings in a clinical setting.

Lacan felt the subject was decentered, lacking a center, but he did not entirely dismiss the subject or turn him into a hallucination, as your money-laundering boss likes to miscegenate in order to hurt David Lynch = and all out of sheer intellekshual laziness, for neither you nor your Sherbert have actually READ any Lacan.

dejan said...

I mean you kvetch me about the attention-deficit disorder and Sherbert whines about fragmented language, but I guess reading Lacan would be TOO MUCH OF AN EFFORT wouldn't it now?

dejan said...

and you know my dear warszawa, there's this famous psychoanalytic research you learn about in undergrad school, where it was tested whether people who had neurotic problems prior to going to war, would have them after the war; humanist therapists though they wouldn't, because facing REAL and SERIOUS problems in REALITY would somehow render the problems null and void. And indeed in combat they proved themselves unusually agile, sharp and resourceful. But as it turns out, after they returned from war, the symptoms returned as well.

This is what irritates me, Sherbert, about your Marxian affection for people with serious problems (as opposed to the burgeois comfortable petty boring ones) - the amount and quality of suffering is an entirely subjective and personal issue - like all symptoms!

This doesn't mean I want to excuse the burgeoisie from being preoccupied with their problems while exploiting the exploited, just that your humanist line of reasoning is too sweet!