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Lacan

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Bifocalcurious's picture
Bifocalcurious
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Dec 30 2011 13:26
Lacan

Can anyone sum up lacan theory in as simple terms as p[ossible and reccomend any intro reads.

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Dec 30 2011 16:25

"The unconscious is structured like a language"

"Desire is the desire of the Other"

For an introductory text read Bruce Fink's "A clinical introduction to Lacanian psychoanalysis". If anyone recommends anything else they are wrong. There are a number of "introductions" to Lacan that are interesting in their own right, but as an actual introduction to Lacan, Fink's book is the only one that serves as a good solid introduction. (Obviously I haven't read every introduction but I've read quite a few of them.)

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Dec 30 2011 18:20

cheers george you cunt (i desire you)

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Khawaga
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Dec 30 2011 18:50

Yeah, Fink is the guy to go to. He's written a series of intros/interprtations of Lacan's seminars as well.

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Dec 31 2011 03:42
Bifocalcurious wrote:
cheers george you cunt (i desire you)

oooooh matron

Sean68
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Jan 2 2012 07:12

George obviously fancies himself as a bit of a Lacanian guru around here. I suppose in the absence of Revol68 I will have to take him at his own word. The Fink you refer us to was a student of one of the disciples of Lacan though, George, so I find it hard to see what the point is of wading through the usual Koyevian Hegelian grind, to be honest, but I am prepared to stand corrected of course. After taking a quick look at Fink it seems to me that he manages to obfuscate the main and most important aspects of Lacan's thinking and is stuck in this nether world of 'Lacanian therapy' which is about as useful as having a dog that can whistle the Belgian national anthem

Obviously unfashionable for being too 'pop', if anyone does want to get a handle on Lacan, and recognises that Zizek's lifework for most of us cannot be easily comprehended overnight, the recent book by Darion Leader, called What is Madness? is excellent at condensing the Lacanian framework.

Leader is also excellent at debunking the berks who think mental illness is genetic. After spending some time with an incredibly bright but stupid scientist over the weekend, it is an important argument to comprehend and fight for.

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Jan 2 2012 07:34

You piss me off because I'm probably one of the few people in the UK who likes Postone and reads what Krisis and Exit publish in English and I found the first two issues of PD interesting. But you and principia dialectica generally not only act like complete dickheads but by doing so turn value theory in the UK into a joke in the eyes of most communists.

So given how much you irritate me I normally don't reply to your libcom posts. But this one is directed directly at me. And I have insomnia so here I am.

1. I don't consider myself a Lacanian guru. I read quite a lot of him and a lot about him around 2005-2007. I haven't paid that much attention since.

2. Lacan was first and foremost a practicing psychoanalyst and his work was largely in training psychoanalysts. He was not a political philosopher/sociologist/psychological philosopher. So I think saying "he manages to obfuscate the main and most important aspects of Lacan's thinking and is stuck in this nether world of 'Lacanian therapy' which is about as useful as having a dog that can whistle the Belgian national anthem" is a bit like saying "he manages to obfuscate the main and most important aspects of Marx's thinking and is stuck in this nether world of 'the Marxist critique of political economy' which is about as useful as having a dog that can whistle the Belgian national anthem".

3. There very little Hegel in Fink's book. So don't worry about the grind!

4. I have read good reviews of Darian Leader's recent book and would like to read it. However, I did read his "Introducing" book on Lacan, and I can say in all confidence that it is shite. So I have doubts over whether or not he is a good recommendation for an introduction. But maybe you are right.

5. This is my fifth point.

Sean68
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Jan 2 2012 08:09
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But you and principia dialectica act like complete dickheads

Happy new year to you too George!

Your fifth point is the most useful. So, thank you.

No I am willing to wage a small bet on this: you are wrong about the value of Fink's ideas. For the prime reason that you seem to state here in that he writes specifically for therapists.

So do say what is the value of Lacan as you see it, if you can be bovvered George

Sean68
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Jan 2 2012 08:45

oh yes, smart arse, and while i'm here maybe you can tell me who is producing good commentary on value and the rest of the shit because im damned if i can find anyone. Oh, except for those gnostic monks called Endnotes, who deliver their biannual sermon to the unwashed once a fucking decade.

posi
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Jan 2 2012 10:18

Psychoanalysis is a theoretical structure organised around the practice of psychoanalysis, that is, psychoanalytic therapy. Any 'psychoanalytic' theory that relates ineffectively to that practice is ungrounded and pointless.

All the 'Introducing...' books that I've come across are shit, but what I've read of Leader elsewhere has been good, and I would like to take a look at his Madness book as well as Fink's. [Have just ordered both, will report back...]

Angelus Novus
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Jan 2 2012 10:29
Sean68 wrote:
oh yes, smart arse, and while i'm here maybe you can tell me who is producing good commentary on value and the rest of the shit because im damned if i can find anyone. Oh, except for those gnostic monks called Endnotes, who deliver their biannual sermon to the unwashed once a fucking decade.

That one article in Endnotes was excellent and more valuable than the entire output of PD to date. Why? Because it gives a comprehensive introduction to the entire range of value-form discussion in Germany, rather than focusing on the output of a single propaganda sect in Nuremberg.

I've taken you to task on this before, though, and it never seems to make an impact.

Oh, and the U.S. journal Science and Society actually published a pretty good article by Kolja Lindner reviewing one of Jan Hoff's books, the review also doubling as a brief intro to the Backhaus-Reichelt-Heinrich lineage.

http://de.scientificcommons.org/57665194

LBird
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Jan 2 2012 10:46
posi wrote:
Psychoanalysis is a theoretical structure organised around the practice of psychoanalysis, that is, psychoanalytic therapy.

I think you're getting things the wrong way round here, posi.

We Communists insist in opposition that the 'Practice' of anything is always 'organised around a theoretical structure'. 'Practice' outside of 'theory' does not exist - well, it does for conservative thinkers, who always stress dealing with the 'real world' (ie. the one that already exists in their favour) - but Communists follow the modern scientific method, and place 'theory' before 'practice'. Conservatives always pretend to be 'untheoretical' and 'non-ideological' - they just 'use their eyes, and observe the truth' (sic).

posi wrote:
Any 'psychoanalytic' theory that relates ineffectively to that practice is ungrounded and pointless.

This seems, at least tangentally, to be referring to the (conservative) philosophy of 'grounded theory'. This so-called 'theory' is meaningless; indeed, laughable.

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Jan 2 2012 12:49

I'm sure psycho-anaysts would have something to say about this phallus waving. My blog is the best in the world!

I would suggest Fink over Zizek for an INTRODUCTION (what after all, the OP is asking for). I found Zizek's How to Read Lacan really difficult to follow (until i read some other introductory texts). There is also quite a concise introduction/overview here. It will also help if you have a rudimentary understanding of structuralism and Freud's work (it is not , of course, imperative one be an expert in Freud, but it will make Lacan a lot easier if you can navigate basic 'Freudianism').

I would say. Don't expect to 'get it' straight away. Lacan is really heavy going.

LBid. I don't think posi's post is even tangentially pointing to grounded theory, give him/her a break wink. That sentence is talking about theory which cannot be substantiated by empirical investigation. There is nothing offensive there... is there?

N.B. It is beyond a joke that a thread on Lacan gets twisted into a debate about who's got the best value form theory.

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Choccy
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Jan 2 2012 13:35

To be honest, it all sounds like a load of shite.
ps THE REAL

LBird
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Jan 2 2012 13:50
Arbeiten wrote:
LBid...

Hello, Abeiten, me ol' mate! The cut-backs affecting the 'r's here now, are they? Bougeois bastads! And they pinched the 'i' out of my 'tangentially'! Watch out, soon I'll be LBd, and you'll be Abeten!

Arbeiten wrote:
...I don't think posi's post is even tangentially pointing to grounded theory, give him/her a break . That sentence is talking about theory which cannot be substantiated by empirical investigation. There is nothing offensive there... is there?

Hmmmm... I'm yet to be convinced. To me, it still reads like posi sees 'practice' as existing prior to, and thus outside of, 'theory'. There is no practice to which theory must later relate. The theory is already there, it just appears unexamined.

On 'substantiation', of course I agree with you. Theory must be empirically tested.

Let's wait until posi clarifies - perhaps it's just a bit unclear, and I'm nitpicking.

posi
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Jan 2 2012 14:36

First of all, I've never heard of 'grounded theory' as a term of art.

Quote:
We Communists insist in opposition that the 'Practice' of anything is always 'organised around a theoretical structure'.

a) 'we communists', in general, insist no such thing. You might do, and some others might do, but to claim it as some native property of communism is nonsense.

b) the opposition, in any case, is false. The relationship between theory and practice (in any case in which there is a relationship between the two which persists over time) is generally dialectical. There is not always a relation, because some theories relate to no practice. e.g. much liberal anglo-american political theory.

c) in a real sense, the practice of psychoanalysis existed before the theory of psychoanalysis. Freud tells the story in the first of his 5 lectures on psychoanalysis here: http://www.rasch.org/over.htm - of course, he and Breuer made use of pre-existing theoretical structures, both professional (e.g. hysteria, hypnosis) and folk/lay theories about the mind. But these theories were not psychoanalytic theories. Psychoanalysis was the body of theory gradually developed by Freud and his circle out of clinical practice.

Quote:
His sympathetic observation soon found the means which made the first help possible. It had been noticed that the patient, in her states of "absence," of psychic alteration, usually mumbled over several words to herself. These seemed to spring from associations with which her thoughts were busy. The doctor, who was able to get these words, put her in a sort of hypnosis and repeated them to her over and over, in order to bring up any associations that they might have. The patient yielded to his suggestion and reproduced for him those psychic creations which controlled her thoughts during her "absences," and which betrayed themselves in these single spoken words.

So this is what became known as 'free association', which we now know as a psychoanalytic technique. Yet it could hardly be said, when Breuer used it, that it was grounded in psychoanalytic theory: there was no such theory.

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Jan 2 2012 14:49

Now now there LBird, my missing the i out of your username was a typo and, for the record, I didn't realize you have spelt tangentially wrong, i put it in italics to stress its spuriousness.

This whole theory first practice later, practice first theory later duality seems to be obfuscating more than it is attempting to explain. It doesn't fit neatly into posi's short history of psychoanalysis.

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Jan 2 2012 14:51

For a critical perspective, there's a chapter in Sokal & Bricmont's 'Intellectual Impostures' dealing with Lacan's use of maths. Some discussion on wikipedia here. I haven't read it myself, but the other stuff of Sokal's I've read has been pretty good at calling bullshit on some of the more pretentious nonsense that gets called philosophy.

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Jan 2 2012 14:56
Joseph Kay wrote:
For a critical perspective, there's a chapter in Sokal & Bricmont's 'Intellectual Impostures' dealing with Lacan's use of maths. Some discussion on wikipedia here. I haven't read it myself, but the other stuff of Sokal's I've read has been pretty good at calling bullshit on some of the more pretentious nonsense that gets called philosophy.

I haven't read the Lacan chapter from this book. The chapters on Virilio, Guattari and Baudrillard were pretty lulzy though. I think the math stuff is the later Lacan.

LBird
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Jan 2 2012 15:02
posi wrote:
First of all, I've never heard of 'grounded theory' as a term of art.

'Grounded theory' is supposed to be a scientific, inductive, evidence-driven, data-based method for producing 'theory'. I'm not sure what 'art' has to do with this discussion about a scientific approach to psychoanalysis, unless you mean 'art' in some wider sense I'm missing.

posi wrote:
in a real sense, the practice of psychoanalysis existed before the theory of psychoanalysis...it could hardly be said... that it was grounded in psychoanalytic theory: there was no such theory.

I have to disagree with you here, mate. Theory always exists before practice.

If you object to it being called 'psychoanalytical theory', just call it 'political ideology' - but some theory of some sort existed before the practice.

Unless we Communists attempt to uncover underlying ideological assumptions, we remain slaves to those unexamined assumptions.

Psychoanalysis is no dfferent from any other science in this respect.

posi wrote:
'we communists', in general, insist no such thing. You might do, and some others might do, but to claim it as some native property of communism is nonsense.

I'd be interested to hear a version of Communism that doesn't challenge, from the very start, the basis of our existing society, including its ideological assumptions regarding psychoanalysis.

Like, starting with the 'individual' mind, rather than with the 'social' production of mind.

'Free association'? Y'mean 'free' from societal influence? Hmmmm.... I smell an ideological, bourgeois underpinning...

posi
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Jan 2 2012 15:06

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/term_of_art

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_association_(psychology) <include the whole URL, including (psychology)

I can't be bothered with the rest, sorry.

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Jan 2 2012 15:09
LBird wrote:

'Free association'? Y'mean 'free' from societal influence? Hmmmm.... I smell an ideological, bourgeois underpinning...

Oh dear. LBird, you have really out done yourself here. An informed critique of psychoanalysis is always welcomed, but this just proves [sic] you are really trying to nitpick for the sake of nitpicking. Free association is a psycho-analytic practice, not a term posi has taken from the liberal theory of civil society. Jeez man....

LBird
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Jan 2 2012 15:10
Arbeiten wrote:
Now now there LBird, my missing the i out of your username was a typo and, for the record, I didn't realize you have spelt tangentially wrong, i put it in italics to stress its spuriousness.

Yeah, it was an attempt at a joke. I know you misspelt it, and misspelt earlier.

Arbeiten wrote:
This whole theory first practice later, practice first theory later duality seems to be obfuscating more than it is attempting to explain.

This is a worrying admission, given our current state of knowledge about epistemology.

Theory precedes practice. No obfuscation there, mate.

You show me someone using 'practice' without a theory, and I'll show you a conservative.

action_now
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Jan 2 2012 15:15
LBird wrote:
Like, starting with the 'individual' mind, rather than with the 'social' production of mind.

'Free association'? Y'mean 'free' from societal influence? Hmmmm.... I smell an ideological, bourgeois underpinning...

Admin: snip - play the ball and not the player.

LBird
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Jan 2 2012 15:21
posi wrote:
I can't be bothered with the rest, sorry.

.

wikipedia wrote:
'The importance of free association is that the patients spoke for themselves, rather than repeating the ideas of the analyst; they work through their own material, rather than parroting another's suggestions'.[1] James Strachey considered free association as 'the first instrument for the scientific examination of the human mind'

'spoke for themselves'? Oh dear. 'Free' individuals? Oh dear, oh dear.

Arbeiten wrote:
Free association is a psycho-analytic practice, not a term posi has taken from the liberal theory of civil society. Jeez man....

I'm starting to get really worried, now.

Why can't posi and Arbeiten answer my points, rather than either dismissing and ignoring them or implying that I'm asking 'wacky' or irrelevant questions?

'Jeez man...'?

How come I get told off about my tone?

Do you both really think that psychoanalysis is outside of considerations of political ideology? Jeeeez mahhhn...

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Arbeiten
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Jan 2 2012 15:23

The way you speak about epistemology and its relation to scientific practice is so cumbersome! As I said in my initial post, it doesn't really seem to fit reality [sic]. It is too linear, as a heuristic device which just doesn't really work. It is too simple (though, I don't disagree that in some way theory precedes practice it is much more complex and [maybe] dialectical than your presentation here and elsewhere seems to suggest).

Me showing you someone who is using practice without theory is just a bit of a strawman debate that I am not willing to engage in roll eyes .

N.B I do largely agree that saying one is not working with a theoretical framework is ideological bollocks. What I am trying to say is the theory/practice relation is much less linear than your heuristic device gives room for. Especially when it comes to looking at the development of a new area of study (I am not sure I want to call psycho-analysis a science. But that is a whole different discussion).

LBird
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Jan 2 2012 15:35
action_now wrote:
Admin: snip

Admin: snip. cut it out. don't respond to baiting, hit report.

Sorry. I'm trying to play nice with the other kids.

LBird
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Jan 2 2012 15:33
Arbeiten wrote:
...dialectical...

Mate, we did the 'dialectics' thing before xmas, and you dropped out, remember?

'Dialectics' is used when no clear argument can be put together. Now that is obfuscation!

Fuck, are we opening a can of worms, here!

Where does 'psychoanalysis' come from, if not society? 'Special' thinkers? And if it's social, why shouldn't it be affected by class considerations, both in its theorising and in its practice?

posi
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Jan 2 2012 15:36

Free association is not at all based on the idea that individuals are not socially constructed. Indeed, although Freud himself was a conservative, and much of psychoanalysis is conservative, it is all about how persons are constructed by their early environment. It is a conservative and parsimonious account of how that construction happens, but it is a theory of social construction. The point of free association is too discover some of the elements through which it has happened to each person. Freud's perspective was not that we are 'free', but that we are ever constrained by drives determined by the necessary basic structure of our early experiences.

There are also strands of psychoanalysis (Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, John Bowlby) which use more radical and extensive accounts of the social construction of persons - in the case of early Fromm, fully communistic. These are also fully consistent with the technique of free association.

You don't understand the ideas you're talking about, you think you're making good points (they're actually shit), and you're insistently bullish despite having absolutely no basis for it. In the past, I've engaged in at least one long debate with you in the hope that at some point you'd stop repeating yourself, show a bit of circumspection, and get a clue. If anyone else is tempted to take the bait, I can only relate my experience that it wasn't worth the effort.

To take the thread in a different direction, I'd like to ask if anyone can explain on what grounds Lacan's ideas are held to be particularly conducive to a radical/communist/marxist perspective. There is clearly such an association culturally - through Guattari and Zizek - but is there any real political basis for it?

I personally think that Erich Fromm and Karen Horney should get alot more attention. From the little I've read they're enjoyably readable, insightful, and bullshit free.

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Jan 2 2012 15:38

I don't have a problem with action_now. I think he/she often makes cogent points (sometimes a little short, and not very conducive to a wider debate, but good points nonetheless*).

Your clutching at straws. Clearly you didn't know what free association was in your original post, making yourself look like an absolute fool in the process. Now it looks like you are desperately searching the wiki article for something that is going to prove your initial assumptions (theory preceding practice indeed! laugh out loud).

It is pretty bad practice using wikipedia as a source to prove your absolute rightness. How do I know that that James Strachey quote isn't taken out of context? How do I know that in that Strachey book there is not a chapter on the individuals relation to the social. More importantly, how do you? To my knowledge Strachey is not the master voice of psychoanalysis, so i don't really give two hoots what a wikipedia quote shorn from its context (both from Strachey's work, and the wider psycho-analytic field) has to say to somebody that seems to have already made their mind up.

* sometimes wink

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Jan 2 2012 15:45
LBird wrote:
Where does 'psychoanalysis' come from, if not society? 'Special' thinkers? And if it's social, why shouldn't it be affected by class considerations, both in its theorising and in its practice?

Clearly unaware of any of the debates in and around psychoanalysis. Do you honestly think your the first person that has posed these questions? The idea that 'psychoanalysis' is abstract from society isn't even relevant to Freud's work, let alone the thousands of thinkers after him.

As posi has pointed out, Fromm might be a good place to start. Luce Irigaray has some stonking criticisms of psychoanalysis. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the essay I read. R . D . Laing also has some insightful critiques. Deleuze and Guattari (despite the bullshit verbiage) also make similar points.