The end of analysis is… liberal?

September 2, 2009

I just read the Apollon paper that I suggested for our next meeting.

One of the things that I found interesting in the case history he describes is that a major turning point in the analysis included the analysand taking control of their therapy, becoming more involved in making change happen. This in part took the form of gaining ‘knowledge’ about the deadlocks of their ‘enjoyment’ (i.e. “jouissance“). For me this resonates with Hegel’s comments on the relation of the rational to feeling in the preface to The Philosophy of Right: one should not make assertions based solely on one’s feelings as if they had some special purchase on truth. Hegel holds that it possible, however, for feelings to become rational. Zizek makes a comment about the ‘moral development’ of feelings that I think illustrates this logic: the instantaneous feelings of revolt and rage that come to many of us when hearing of rape are not ‘natural’ but a modern development that need be defended. The resonance that I see here is the dialectical reversal of feeling and rational knowledge: they are not opposed, but one half of the dialectic dominates in the final ‘sublated’ relationship: rational conclusions should not be made from feelings, but feelings can be made rational. The resonance becomes clearer when considering Lacan’s assertion in Seminar XX (On Feminine Sexuality) that knowledge, too, is a form of jouissance. At the end of analysis, then, it is not that enjoyment goes away, but that it takes on a new form – one that is separated from the big Other.

Another point of interest in this paper is that Apollon seems to acknowledge the historical specificity of femininity: “This fact of the father, the phallic fact par excellence, is to a certain extent a problem for us in North America, as a required passage for feminine jouissance” (134). He acknowledges that certain things are particular to North America, but doesn’t do much to explain what these are. The problem is that it is unclear to what extent this is a problem. Is it a problem that need be changed, or merely one that need be taken into account? Further still, does this mean that the analysand need be made to fit this model just because it is in North America that we find ourselves? Apparently it does, as suggested in final words of the paper. Here Apollon rails against ‘conformist’ ego psychology, but ends on a telling note:

In time, after the subject’s encounters with whatever is the anguishing knot of the real in the unconscious, the desire to be cured yields to the ethical requirement of a truth that is incommensurable with the knowledge of science or psychology.The false need of belonging within which the stakes of ego identifications justify themselves, disappears with the return and recognition of a desire bearing its own markers with no other regard for the demands of the Other than the symbolic limits of social or citizen coexistence (140).

Opposed to the sense of belonging (i.e. conformity) that Apollon sees ego-psychology aiming for, he suggests that the end of analysis produces a liberal subject (or at least Apollon makes it sound like it does), which is of course the dominant political framework of North America. Which is to say that the ends of analysis are political and in no way neutral, which will of course have effects on how the analyst directs the analysis and the self-direction of the analysand.

It also, of course, opens up the possibility of alternatives. Where the end of analysis is ‘knowledge’ and the death of the big Other, this need not simply imply Liberalism. It could well include political outcomes that include these two elements but go further than the liberal subject.

Reference: Willy Apollon. (2002) “From Symptom to Fantasy” in After Lacan: Clinical Practice and the Subject of the Unconscious by Apollon, Bergeron and Cantin. Hughs and Malone, eds. New York: State University of New York Press


9 Responses to “The end of analysis is… liberal?”

  1. sonnyburnett said

    I don’t think there is anything ‘instantaneous’ about the feelings that arise in us (men) when we hear of a rape. There is definately a certain distance we take in that moment & it is THAT to which we are reacting to.

    The highest violence has actually taken place BEFORE the stupid reality of the rape. It is the distance taken to THAT violence which our reactions are directed toward, since it’screens out’ that highest violence.

    Any violence is measured by a presupposition of a non-violent normality and THAT presupposing activity that imposes a normal, non-violent standard is the highest form of violence.

    So when confronted with the image of rape, we are reacting to the (double) distance we have already taken from it. In Kantian terms, not only is our imagination stretched to the limit to comprehend the situation, but the very failure of it doing so acts as screen for the pre-synthetic activity of the imagination. Failure covers over a more primal failure – this double distance generates our enjoyment/jouissance that acts as a support for our so-called ‘instantanseous horrified reaction’ when hearing of a rape.

    So I think it is very misleading to emphasize ‘modern development’ or speaking of historical context, in explaining this, since the logic here has everything to do with the fact that we dwell in language. Even to speak of the historical as ‘overdetermining’ our presuppositions leads us away from the truth which has everything to do with jouissance.

    If Zacan has taught us anything about ethical activity, doesn’t it have to do with the preservation of this place of jouissance, a place radically subtracted from the positive historical realm?

  2. battleofthegiants said

    I need you to clarify what the violence is that you’re referring to…

    To say that jouissance is subtracted from the positive historical realm doesn’t mean much to me. It’s like saying that humans need to eat. The question is how either of these is organized. What are the elements and relations to make a jouissance possible? In Plaque of Fantasies Zizek writes that jouissance is ahistorical in that it’s the same experience felt in religious extasy and Beatle-mania. The question then becomes why this is so – i.e. how did so many people come to act this way about the Beatles? Why does jouissance exist in Religious form? And this is a substantial part of Zizek’s ‘project’ – talking about the ways J is organized under capitalism, and how we might come to ‘not-enjoy.’

  3. sonnyburnett said

    “…THAT presupposing activity that imposes a normal, non-violent standard is the highest form of violence”

  4. The Universal Singular said

    where’s that quote from?

    • sonnyburnett said

      From my response above, which was generated in my head. THough I suppose if you want a Z citation:

      check out, for instance,
      “Language, Violence and Non-Violence” in IJZS, V2. N.3, second page, second paragraph….

      I think Battle was the one who originally posted this article on the blog.

  5. battleofthegiants said

    The realted question here is then why do we react the way we do to the founding violence (even if we don’t want to call it ‘instantaneous’ – though I’m not sure why the psychical-distance we have can’t be felt instantaneously)? Why not react pro-rape, or say “dems the facts of war”? I don’t think your comments on rape are incompatible with an historical development of one’s reaction to it… Would you not say the moral disgust at rape could be directed at this distance?

  6. sonnyburnett said

    Why not react pro-rape?

  7. battleofthegiants said

    Why react pro-rape?

  8. The Universal Singular said

    I’m scared!

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