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Lazzarone

answer to l. and d.

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http://anotherheideggerblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/interview-with-levi-r-byrant.html

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AHB: You state on your blog that you used to be a Lacanian psychoanalyst and interest in Lacan has sky rocked in the past few years due to the work of Slavoj Zizek. Can you tell us a little about the potential benefits of psychoanalysis for philosophy, philosophers, and philosophical thinking? I am thinking primarily about your ability to give convincing reasons for why philosophers focus on certain areas and dismiss others as in the recent blog exchange between you and Ian Bogost.

 

Levi R. Bryant: I think it is always important to be cautious when giving a psychoanalytic account of the motives that lead one to hold a particular position because such approaches border on the ad hominem and ignore the arguments that might be in favour of that position. Freud, for example, gives all sorts of reasons pertaining to desire as to why people believe in God, but his analysis, in no way, undermines the existence of God. To do that you would need another sort of argument. In other words, it’s entirely possible that everything Freud says about why people are led to belief in God is true, and God nonetheless exists. I think those that practice psychoanalytic critical theory sometimes forget this.

 

Nonetheless, I do think that psychoanalysis can be of great value in helping philosophers to recognize blind spots in their discourse and philosophical practice. Indeed, Lacan argued that for any discourse to establish itself, it must repress or exclude some element so as to achieve internal consistency. With this repression, of course, there is always a return of the repressed that plagues the discourse in the form of a symptom. Lacan always claimed that philosophy is the discourse of the master, which is to say that it is a discourse that disavows the split in the subject and strives to achieve mastery by unifying the slaves knowledge under a master-signifier transforming it into a smooth conceptual system. We can certainly see this notion of a sovereign and transparent subject without split in Descartes and even Husserl, but I also think this conception of the subject is ubiquitous in the practice of many philosophers. Thus, while the contemporary thinker-- including the psychoanalytically inflected thinker --might give lip service to how the subject is split, going so far as to make it the center-point of their entire system of thought, they nonetheless proceed in practice as if they were sovereign masters. Really this is a variation of the famous Socratic thesis that the source of our tragedy lies in believing that we know when we do not.

 

Symptoms of this can be detected all over the place. Thus, those who have been influenced by Lacan often approach popular culture, political events, and various cultural artifacts as if they had the interpretive master-key that lays everything bare to the eye that wishes to know. In this way, texts no longer have the capacity to surprise them as readers as they’re already looking for mere exemplifications of their theory. I think, despite all its talk of free play, deconstruction has fallen into a similar cul-de-sac. Calls for a critical stance also strike me as suffering from a similar desire for mastery. They would like to know before they know, determining the conditions under which knowledge, for example, is possible, thereby saving themselves the trouble of going through the process of arriving at knowledge as a result. This can be seen as a defense against the aleatory nature of the world that resists our drive to represent it. Similarly, it is today seen as the height of naivete to actually advocate for a particular position. Rather, one is to be critical of all positions, showing how they are all secretly about something else. In many respects, this resembles the attitude of the obsessional that is perpetually preparing without ever doing anything. In this way, the obsessional is able to disguise his split or incompleteness by never engaging with the world. In my view, philosophical practice can be assisted by becoming more aware of these psychic structures and their role as defences.

_

 

so, first paragraph, the 'ad hominem'-fallacy, second and third paragraphs, the 'discourse of the master'-contradiction. this counter-kritik would potentially apply to theories derived from the work of both lacan and derrida, but should be supplemented with specific, in-round links. the implications are: fallacious reasoning, performative contradiction, intellectual stagnation, and obsessional rejectionism/inaction. those can all be independent voting issues in order to set standards against personal attack, contradictory advocacy, and anti-educational and/or disempowering discourse. the alternative is to strengthen the process of critical thinking by becoming aware of the implications just described, being open to surprise instead of just looking for examples of your pet theory, advancing pragmatic positions instead of just criticizing everything, and engaging with the world.

Edited by Lazzarone

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i understand how this would be effective against a lacanian psychoanalytic criticism, or even a derivative such as zizek, but could you elaborate on how this debate/articulation would play out in a derrida debate? i guess i just have a limited understanding of how the "derrida K" would be deployed in the first place, and although i've heard of his ties with psychoanalytic schools of thought, i'm assuming you mean something more specific in this context. my understanding of the typical derrida based K, honestly, is that file UT put out 4 or so years ago as an addendum to a levinas K--this thing if i remember correctly had to do with ethics and first philosophy and metaphysics and whatnot. how would this card interact with that kind of derrida K?

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well, bryant says above that "deconstruction has fallen into a similar cul-de-sac" and suffers "from a similar desire for mastery" - which means that the criticisms bryant applies to lacanian psychoanalysis also apply to derridean deconstruction: 'texts no longer have the capacity to surprise them as readers as they’re already looking for mere exemplifications of their theory' and 'they would like to know before they know, determining the conditions under which knowledge, for example, is possible, thereby saving themselves the trouble of going through the process of arriving at knowledge as a result'. the implications are then the 'defense against the aleatory nature of the world that resists our drive to represent it', 'the attitude of the obsessional that is perpetually preparing without ever doing anything', and 'never engaging with the world'. most especially, i find that the following statement applies to contemporary schools of deconstruction: "it is today seen as the height of naivete to actually advocate for a particular position. Rather, one is to be critical of all positions, showing how they are all secretly about something else."

 

for instance, an ardent deconstructist (if there is such a thing) like martin hagglund will say that 'deconstruction has no politics', that its claims are descriptive, not normative. martin and i had a brief exchange on this thread: http://www.cross-x.com/vb/showthread.php?p=1373417 - i sent him my posts (posts #5, 9 and 12), then forwarded his reply (post #22). {the original article in question is also reproduced in full - post #6.}

 

this implicit distinction between descriptive and normative claims, i'd argue, necessarily suggests that one can step back and provide a neutral account of a historical situation. i find this distinction untenable, and would suggest instead that every descriptive claim is also a normative claim, every factual judgment also a value judgment. if so, then there seems to me no way deconstruction can avoid having a politics and advancing a political agenda, since there's no way to rise above the fray of history and merely "be critical of all positions" without also always-already "advocat[ing] for a particular position", in the words of levy bryant. or in the more folksy slogan of howard zinn, 'you can't be neutral on a moving train'.

Edited by Lazzarone

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ohhhh ok i get it now. but i think i see another problem here: i can understand how this argument can be strategic in a debate round (if the aff can win a net benefit of their normative claims as their harms, and they can indict the alternative, they're probably winning the impact framework debate), but what kind of normative claims are good ones? its easy, if i'm understanding bryant correctly, to look for potential links to my derrida k in literally everything, but what are we supposed to do otherwise? how are we suppose to understand to and interpret surprise? it seems to me the only other alternative is to understand all surprise within a framework of Truth, which probably isn't the most strategic way of approaching reality, but i don't get how raising this dichotomy isn't at least just as paralyzing.

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to answer your questions in depth, one would have to dig a little deeper into deleuze's philosophy - his notion of 'the encounter', for example. here i highly recommend bryant's book on deleuze: 'difference and giveness'. as for, 'what kinds of normative claims are good ones?', i'm not sure there are many great universally applicable answers to so general a question. deleuze will say that ethics has no meaning or it means only this: to be worthy of what happens to us. that's about as abstract as we can get, but it still leaves us faced with the question of what is and is not worthwhile in a specific context. suffice it to say that bryant's criticisms of lacanian psychoanalysis and derridean deconstruction are specific and timely. for a fuller understanding of how we can approach truth without falling into the trap of dogmatism (or what deleuze refers to as 'the orthodox image of thought'), his books 'logic of sense' and 'difference and repetition' are without parallel. absent that, there's a sketch of a positive alternative implied in byrant's own criticism - i.e., we should refrain from anything approaching ad hominem, should be willing to take clear positions, and should encourage thought/speech that actively engages with the world.

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http://www.cross-x.com/vb/showpost.php?p=1329853&postcount=126

http://www.cross-x.com/vb/showpost.php?p=1336881&postcount=138

Edited by Lazzarone

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so, first paragraph, the 'ad hominem'-fallacy, second and third paragraphs, the 'discourse of the master'-contradiction. this counter-kritik would potentially apply to theories derived from the work of both lacan and derrida, but should be supplemented with specific, in-round links. the implications are: fallacious reasoning, performative contradiction, intellectual stagnation, and obsessional rejectionism/inaction. those can all be independent voting issues in order to set standards against personal attack, contradictory advocacy, and anti-educational and/or disempowering discourse. the alternative is to strengthen the process of critical thinking by becoming aware of the implications just described, being open to surprise instead of just looking for examples of your pet theory, advancing pragmatic positions instead of just criticizing everything, and engaging with the world.

 

I've been out of debate for a couple years exiting with Derrida and mass confusion. It seems to me that the implications you suggest would be perfect for debate rounds. In Derrida's world, though, performative contradiction, fallacious reasoning, intellectual stagnation, rejectioninsm/inaction all seem like things that would tickle his root and make him smile giddy.

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http://anotherheideggerblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/interview-with-levi-r-byrant.html

_

AHB: You state on your blog that you used to be a Lacanian psychoanalyst and interest in Lacan has sky rocked in the past few years due to the work of Slavoj Zizek. Can you tell us a little about the potential benefits of psychoanalysis for philosophy, philosophers, and philosophical thinking? I am thinking primarily about your ability to give convincing reasons for why philosophers focus on certain areas and dismiss others as in the recent blog exchange between you and Ian Bogost.

 

Levi R. Bryant: I think it is always important to be cautious when giving a psychoanalytic account of the motives that lead one to hold a particular position because such approaches border on the ad hominem and ignore the arguments that might be in favour of that position. Freud, for example, gives all sorts of reasons pertaining to desire as to why people believe in God, but his analysis, in no way, undermines the existence of God. To do that you would need another sort of argument. In other words, it’s entirely possible that everything Freud says about why people are led to belief in God is true, and God nonetheless exists. I think those that practice psychoanalytic critical theory sometimes forget this.

 

Nonetheless, I do think that psychoanalysis can be of great value in helping philosophers to recognize blind spots in their discourse and philosophical practice. Indeed, Lacan argued that for any discourse to establish itself, it must repress or exclude some element so as to achieve internal consistency. With this repression, of course, there is always a return of the repressed that plagues the discourse in the form of a symptom. Lacan always claimed that philosophy is the discourse of the master, which is to say that it is a discourse that disavows the split in the subject and strives to achieve mastery by unifying the slaves knowledge under a master-signifier transforming it into a smooth conceptual system. We can certainly see this notion of a sovereign and transparent subject without split in Descartes and even Husserl, but I also think this conception of the subject is ubiquitous in the practice of many philosophers. Thus, while the contemporary thinker-- including the psychoanalytically inflected thinker --might give lip service to how the subject is split, going so far as to make it the center-point of their entire system of thought, they nonetheless proceed in practice as if they were sovereign masters. Really this is a variation of the famous Socratic thesis that the source of our tragedy lies in believing that we know when we do not.

 

Symptoms of this can be detected all over the place. Thus, those who have been influenced by Lacan often approach popular culture, political events, and various cultural artifacts as if they had the interpretive master-key that lays everything bare to the eye that wishes to know. In this way, texts no longer have the capacity to surprise them as readers as they’re already looking for mere exemplifications of their theory. I think, despite all its talk of free play, deconstruction has fallen into a similar cul-de-sac. Calls for a critical stance also strike me as suffering from a similar desire for mastery. They would like to know before they know, determining the conditions under which knowledge, for example, is possible, thereby saving themselves the trouble of going through the process of arriving at knowledge as a result. This can be seen as a defense against the aleatory nature of the world that resists our drive to represent it. Similarly, it is today seen as the height of naivete to actually advocate for a particular position. Rather, one is to be critical of all positions, showing how they are all secretly about something else. In many respects, this resembles the attitude of the obsessional that is perpetually preparing without ever doing anything. In this way, the obsessional is able to disguise his split or incompleteness by never engaging with the world. In my view, philosophical practice can be assisted by becoming more aware of these psychic structures and their role as defences.

_

 

so, first paragraph, the 'ad hominem'-fallacy, second and third paragraphs, the 'discourse of the master'-contradiction. this counter-kritik would potentially apply to theories derived from the work of both lacan and derrida, but should be supplemented with specific, in-round links. the implications are: fallacious reasoning, performative contradiction, intellectual stagnation, and obsessional rejectionism/inaction. those can all be independent voting issues in order to set standards against personal attack, contradictory advocacy, and anti-educational and/or disempowering discourse. the alternative is to strengthen the process of critical thinking by becoming aware of the implications just described, being open to surprise instead of just looking for examples of your pet theory, advancing pragmatic positions instead of just criticizing everything, and engaging with the world.

 

when you think relationally one thing applies to many things. you can see an event in popular culture or even the way a person walking by glances at you to know the next turn of events. this is called natural intelligence, and its a feeling you get and has little to do with your precious, overused brain.

 

the other way is called linear, scholarly thinking. it lives in a closed box and sees what it wants to see and excludes what it thinks is not useful. its hilarious how the author above also thinks he is making some kind of awesomely intelligent statement but is really just saying some obvious things that anyone who just observes their own reality would know innately.

 

but hey, that's just my stupid opinion.

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are you sure you don't get some perverse pleasure out of condescending an activity that didn't care much for you now that you have new-age clarity (those hoity-toity philosophers using all of those big words to state something so obvious!)? doesn't it bother you that some of the people in those circles you defend are the same sort of violent pricks debate produces (wise shamans and priests or whatever hitting on younger girls looking to them for clarity, ultra-passive hippies, et cetera)?

 

don't get me wrong, i am of similar background and have always enjoyed you, but come on pal!

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are you sure you don't get some perverse pleasure out of condescending an activity that didn't care much for you now that you have new-age clarity (those hoity-toity philosophers using all of those big words to state something so obvious!)? doesn't it bother you that some of the people in those circles you defend are the same sort of violent pricks debate produces (wise shamans and priests or whatever hitting on younger girls looking to them for clarity, ultra-passive hippies, et cetera)?

 

don't get me wrong, i am of similar background and have always enjoyed you, but come on pal!

 

All people have a lower nature. I do not believe in new age spirituality whatsoever, and any correlations drawn about that I am willing to listen to and hear but honestly they aren't really what I'm getting at. I think there are just common human principles that are shared between everyone, that have been forced out of us by oppressive social control mechanisms. My hope is to give that back so a united wisdom of the mind and heart could exist.

 

In this regard, I feel as though debate could change and transform in many positive ways. My desire to come back here is based on genuinely wanting to assist people become better thinkers. And, especially, from the place of adopting sincerity and personal practice and refinement, someones argumentative movements and tactics become blatantly obvious and your debate skills would skyrocket. Or, on a physical level just having more blood and oxygen circulating through your system increases brain function so you can talk faster and respond quickly. These are things we could all continue to learn about.

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you can predict the future from the way "a person walking by glances at you"? ... i believe that's called supernatural intelligence. =P (...i know that isn't what you meant.)

 

although i can't speak for levi byrant, i'm pretty sure he doesn't think "he is making some kind of awesomely intelligent statement" and probably thinks he's speaking some "obvious" practical wisdoms. he's stating an opinion about a couple philosophical schools from which kritik authors in debate often draw, and his opinion is valuable because it's well-explained and because it comes from a scholar familiar with the relevant field of study. every opinion "excludes what it thinks is not useful", and every perspective is partial; but this is no criticism since some opinions still hit closer to the bull's eye than others.

 

surprisingly, bryant expresses a similar sentiment to that expressed by the gist of met4physica's posts, particularly the skepticism directed at "linear, scholarly thinking" which "lives in a closed box and sees what it wants to see". or put in bryant's terms,

 

the contemporary thinker - including the psychoanalytically inflected thinker - ... proceed in practice as if they were sovereign masters[,] as if they had the interpretive master-key that lays everything bare.

 

bryant considers this is a theoretical defense-mechanism against the irrepresentable, 'aleatory' nature of the world.

 

remember, us deleuzians want to dig into reality and experience it fully - a stance perhaps best summed up by e.e. cummings,

 

since feeling is first

who pays attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you

 

it's deleuze and guattari's embracing of schizophrenia, for example, that fuels their critique of neurotic, 'oedipalized' thinking. they also draw and redraw the distinction between what met4physica calls 'relational/natural'-intelligence and 'linear/scholarly'-intelligence in many key sections of their work - e.g., the distinction between 'problematics' and 'axiomatics' discussed here: http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2005-August/063053.html. recall too that these two authors referred to freud as an "overconscious idiot", so they're well aware of the danger of 'overusing' one's brain.

 

in short, met4physica mistakes a friendly question for a hostile one, and in fact, the first underlined sentence of the above card responds directly to papa smurf's post ("are you sure you don't get some perverse pleasure..."),

 

it is always important to be cautious when giving a psychoanalytic account of the motives that lead one to hold a particular position because such approaches border on the ad hominem and ignore the arguments that might be in favour of that position.

 

so, no, your opinion wasn't "stupid", but you can call your missing the opportunity to recognize that your perspective was shared by the author you apparently set about criticizing however you see it.

 

some critical remarks: the distinction between 'relational/natural'-intelligence and 'linear/scholarly'-intelligence often breaks down in the details. for d&g, there can be no question of a strict separation - there are speaking of abstract tendencies. similarly, in malcolm gladwell's book 'blink', he does not contend that judgments are necessarily better when made instantaneously/spontaneously, but that there are such phenomena as 'snap judgments' which can go unheeded because of the customary habit of over-analysis. nevertheless, (just) observing one's own reality is often anecdotal and misleading, and positing some innate intuitive sense often excuses our reluctance to deal with new information as it comes to light. the threat of dogmatism persists from both sides, and the danger of an "overused brain" sometimes pales in comparison to its opposite.

Edited by Lazzarone

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Bryant has a flawed misunderstanding of Lacan's brand of psychoanalysis. Identity lies between desire and fantasy; this is the space which the analyst/analysand seek to interrogate. Primarily, it is a reaction to the Cartesian cogito ergo sum, 'I think therefore I am, therefore what am I? A thinking thing.' This separates the subject (ego, the "thinking I") from the Other - and since desire cannot be symbolized, quantified, etc. it is relegated to the unconscious and replaced with fantasy. This is precisely the same premise that D&G posit in ATP, that desire is "captured, pointed, redirected" within language, except Lacan delineates between the 'desire that is always the desire of the Other' (the uncaptured, schizophrenic, productive desire) and the fantasy (the captured, immobilized, nonproductive/destructive, self-perpetuating desire).

 

The difference is, D&G believe this can be overcome, which I would argue is at best misplaced optimism, at worst, a critical failure to 'deterritorialize;' to fail to recognize the inherent fantasy of distinguishing language from desire.

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actually, one of the criticisms bryant directs at academic readers of deleuze is "they seem to implicitly suggest a sort of romantic belief in the possibility of achieving an unmediated state of being in which identity and the State would no longer intervene in our desire or will to power" ('difference and givenness', page 5). he's speaking of deleuze's work there, not deleuze with guattari, but i'd also point to plateau #6 in 'a thousand plateaus' to refute your characterization: "the BwO is always swinging between the surfaces that stratify it and the plane that sets it free. If you free it with too violent an action, if you blow apart the strata without taking precautions, then instead of drawing the plane you will be killed, plunged into a black hole, or even dragged toward catastrophe. Staying stratified - organized, signified, subjected - is not the worst that can happen; the worst the can happen is if you throw the strata into demented or suicidal collapse, which brings them back down on us heavier than ever" (page 161). and indeed they end that tome with a very unromantic sentence: "Never believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us." this more accurate attunement to their work doesn't seem to me like either "misplaced optimism" or "a critical failure to 'deterritorialize", but perhaps i'm wrong. i am curious where you read d&g misinterpreting lacan(?).

Edited by Lazzarone

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you can predict the future from the way "a person walking by glances at you"? ... i believe that's called supernatural intelligence. =P (...i know that isn't what you meant.)

 

although i can't speak for levi byrant, i'm pretty sure he doesn't think "he is making some kind of awesomely intelligent statement" and probably thinks he's speaking some "obvious" practical wisdoms. he's stating an opinion about a couple philosophical schools from which kritik authors in debate often draw, and his opinion is valuable because it's well-explained and because it comes from a scholar familiar with the relevant field of study. every opinion "excludes what it thinks is not useful", and every perspective is partial; but this is no criticism since some opinions still hit closer to the bull's eye than others.

 

surprisingly, bryant expresses a similar sentiment to that expressed by the gist of met4physica's posts, particularly the skepticism directed at "linear, scholarly thinking" which "lives in a closed box and sees what it wants to see". or put in bryant's terms,

 

 

 

bryant considers this is a theoretical defense-mechanism against the irrepresentable, 'aleatory' nature of the world.

 

remember, us deleuzians want to dig into reality and experience it fully - a stance perhaps best summed up by e.e. cummings,

 

 

 

it's deleuze and guattari's embracing of schizophrenia, for example, that fuels their critique of neurotic, 'oedipalized' thinking. they also draw and redraw the distinction between what met4physica calls 'relational/natural'-intelligence and 'linear/scholarly'-intelligence in many key sections of their work - e.g., the distinction between 'problematics' and 'axiomatics' discussed here: http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2005-August/063053.html. recall too that these two authors referred to freud as an "overconscious idiot", so they're well aware of the danger of 'overusing' one's brain.

 

in short, met4physica mistakes a friendly question for a hostile one, and in fact, the first underlined sentence of the above card responds directly to papa smurf's post ("are you sure you don't get some perverse pleasure..."),

 

 

 

so, no, your opinion wasn't "stupid", but you can call your missing the opportunity to recognize that your perspective was shared by the author you apparently set about criticizing however you see it.

 

some critical remarks: the distinction between 'relational/natural'-intelligence and 'linear/scholarly'-intelligence often breaks down in the details. for d&g, there can be no question of a strict separation - there are speaking of abstract tendencies. similarly, in malcolm gladwell's book 'blink', he does not contend that judgments are necessarily better when made instantaneously/spontaneously, but that there are such phenomena as 'snap judgments' which can go unheeded because of the customary habit of over-analysis. nevertheless, (just) observing one's own reality is often anecdotal and misleading, and positing some innate intuitive sense often excuses our reluctance to deal with new information as it comes to light. the threat of dogmatism persists from both sides, and the danger of an "overused brain" sometimes pales in comparison to its opposite.

 

There is a trapping in all levels of consciousness - its to think that because you figured out your current condition, that you "know something", whereas each new moment contains infinite perspectives and new information. To see this we have to let go of the past and let go of what was felt/thought/seen before, but at the same time, use it as a reference point. Its easier to do this when the ego has taken the back-burner.

 

I have posted before that D&G basically theorize and embody many Tai Chi principles. What they don't seem to express, however, is that a method of realizing the truth of their words is by being mindful of the body as it tries to balance through change, or living life on the "razors edge", constantly not-knowing and surrendering and giving up neurotic tendencies. This can only be achieved with the help of a teacher, and through devotion and discipline, something our society seems to have issue with. Its a simple method, whereas the scholarly approach, or reading through many books, is a lot of work and effort and basically just brings you to the same point, of inner-wisdom and internal-knowing, but doesn't seem to have the advantage of giving you a powerful body that can do things such as stay healthy in our increasingly polluted world. If Tai Chi mind can give you infinite options and can allow you to take and give ground without resistance, then its politically useful and capable of changing the dominant world perspective, by creating circles of influence that naturally expand and connect outward in ways invisible to people who have linear-thought-patterns. The entire premise of our government operates on us not seeing the oppressive mechanisms that we silently comply with. If we just decided to stop, then everything would change. But, we have to, you, i, everyone else, one person at a time.

 

Generally, Lazzarone, I agree with your interpretation of what D&G are getting at. Its crazy wisdom and its concealed knowledge that has to be unlocked through experience. When they say:

 

"the BwO is always swinging between the surfaces that stratify it and the plane that sets it free. If you free it with too violent an action, if you blow apart the strata without taking precautions, then instead of drawing the plane you will be killed, plunged into a black hole, or even dragged toward catastrophe. Staying stratified - organized, signified, subjected - is not the worst that can happen; the worst the can happen is if you throw the strata into demented or suicidal collapse, which brings them back down on us heavier than ever"

 

All they mean is you can't live in extremes, and that balance is essential. My criticism of their way of saying it is that its not very practical information, whereas when you have a physical practice its easy to see if you understand the BwO - can you move from place A to B without sliding into obsessive fantasies or without falling flat on your face. Can we move with grace and keep ourselves up to date on our inside/outside relationship.

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"What they don't seem to express, however, is that a method of realizing the truth of their words is by being mindful of the body as it tries to balance through change, or living life on the "razors edge", constantly not-knowing and surrendering and giving up neurotic tendencies."

 

this is the purpose of much of their work - the concept of 'planomenon', for instance, expresses something similar to your last post,

 

the plane of consistency retains just enough of the strata to extract from them variables that operate in the plane of consistency as its own functions. the plane of consistency, or planomenon, is in no way an undifferentiated aggregate of unformed matters, but neither is it a chaos of formed matters of every kind.

 

that extended passage from pages 69-71 of 'a thousand plateaus' combined with the 'how do you make yourself a body without organs?'-plateau ("you have to keep enough of the organism for it to reform each dawn") satisfies your possible objection for me. they speak of 'the art of dosages' and 'the craft of a surveyor'. still it's not solely a matter of avoiding extremes, achieving balance, but redrawing the balance by making rhizomes and living nomadically. i find their books very practical in this regard, but they admit their task is one of necessary failure: "We ourselves were unable to do it. We just used words that in turn function for us as plateaus" (page 22). words are just words, but sometimes they're also dynamite.

 

if you're saying that you can't read a book and engage in physical exercises at the same time, you may be right, and your implicit disapproval of "sitting addicts" (to use aldous huxley's phrase in 'island') is a point well taken, but there are many paths to truth. this is one.

 

i was really just trying to cut an example of a card that answers derridean deconstruction and lacanian psychoanalysis, however.

Edited by Lazzarone

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I basically understand *what* Bryant is saying, but (probably because of my shallow understanding of Lacan) his post seems ad hom riddled. On what basis does he get to make any of these claims?

 

When did Lacan/ do Lacanian authors ignore arguments that might be in favor of another position? What part of Lacan's argument is premised off of trying to "like to know before they know"? How is this responsive to a debate alternative? His post seems non falsifiable because he's just sort of asserting stuff (but I'm probably wrong).Thanks.

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well the first part of the argument can be made by anyone: it's that it's fallacious to assume that because you've correctly diagnosed the underlying psychological motives for someone claiming something that you've refuted what they're claiming. 'you're only saying Y because X', even if true, doesn't mean that Y is false. byrant applies this specifically to "psychoanalytic critical theory", so the card helps to prevent debaters who use such literature from getting away with this illegitimate leap. if lacanian authors aren't doing this, then there won't be a link.

 

the second part does require some quals, and what qualifies bryant to say what he says is that he's an academic who has studied the field in question. far from ad hominem, the un-underlined part of that quotation includes a very complimentary statement - "psychoanalysis can be of great value in helping philosophers to recognize blind spots in their discourse and philosophical practice". his criticisms extend on this; in fact, he's making a lacanian critique of the prevailing practices of lacanian critique by asking 'what repressed returns to them?', 'what are its symptoms?'. it's not that "part of lacan's argument is premised off of" 'looking for mere exemplifications of their theory', but that it's a blind spot - something they're doing although they're not aware of it. so debaters should scrutinize lacanian (and derridean) kritiks along these lines: are they replicating the discourse of the master?, are they justifying the obsessional avoidance of engagement with the world?, et cetera. moreover, you could also argue that debaters are accountable for propagating low-quality scholarship - e.g., 'it should be our standard-of-practice not to read cards from the heritage foundation crowd, or from followers of ayn rand, or from students of lacan; vote to discourage the use of fallacious, contradictory, uneducational, intellectually stagnant, rejectionist, and disempowering schools of thought'. this raises the question of the extent to which a debater is responsible for what they quote as a reputable source.

 

none of this is 'non-falsifiable'. one can refute byrant's characterization by quoting similarly qualified authors who successfully defend lacanian psychoanalysis and derridean deconstruction from these charges.

 

while the contemporary thinker-- including the psychoanalytically inflected thinker --might give lip service to how the subject is split, going so far as to make it the center-point of their entire system of thought, they nonetheless proceed in practice as if they were sovereign masters.

 

those who have been influenced by Lacan often approach popular culture, political events, and various cultural artifacts as if they had the interpretive master-key that lays everything bare to the eye that wishes to know.

 

despite all its talk of free play, deconstruction has fallen into a similar cul-de-sac.

 

it is today seen as the height of naivete to actually advocate for a particular position. Rather, one is to be critical of all positions, showing how they are all secretly about something else.

 

this resembles the attitude of the obsessional that is perpetually preparing without ever doing anything.
Edited by Lazzarone

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"What they don't seem to express, however, is that a method of realizing the truth of their words is by being mindful of the body as it tries to balance through change, or living life on the "razors edge", constantly not-knowing and surrendering and giving up neurotic tendencies."

 

this is the purpose of much of their work - the concept of 'planomenon', for instance, expresses something similar to your last post,

 

 

 

that extended passage from pages 69-71 of 'a thousand plateaus' combined with the 'how do you make yourself a body without organs?'-plateau ("you have to keep enough of the organism for it to reform each dawn") satisfies your possible objection for me. they speak of 'the art of dosages' and 'the craft of a surveyor'. still it's not solely a matter of avoiding extremes, achieving balance, but redrawing the balance by making rhizomes and living nomadically. i find their books very practical in this regard, but they admit their task is one of necessary failure: "We ourselves were unable to do it. We just used words that in turn function for us as plateaus" (page 22). words are just words, but sometimes they're also dynamite.

 

if you're saying that you can't read a book and engage in physical exercises at the same time, you may be right, and your implicit disapproval of "sitting addicts" (to use aldous huxley's phrase in 'island') is a point well taken, but there are many paths to truth. this is one.

 

i was really just trying to cut an example of a card that answers derridean deconstruction and lacanian psychoanalysis, however.

 

Thanks for your efforts in helping people understand the topic at hand, my thoughts were just a diversion. Anyhow, what is interesting is that the body perfectly embodies what we understand about openness towards changing environments. If we are constantly tense, or move in repetitious patterns, we have a stuck way of "seeing ourselves in the world". So, then, adjusting a movement or complex series of movements allows us to transform through time/space. Our whole body has to catch up with our mind - muscle memory and physical blockage can prevent us from using our theories in the world. I hope that a union of this nature will occur, to where we can be smart, and use our bodies in full ways, and then it will be increasingly hard to "pull one over on us".

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actually, one of the criticisms bryant directs at academic readers of deleuze is "they seem to implicitly suggest a sort of romantic belief in the possibility of achieving an unmediated state of being in which identity and the State would no longer intervene in our desire or will to power" ('difference and givenness', page 5). he's speaking of deleuze's work there, not deleuze with guattari, but i'd also point to plateau #6 in 'a thousand plateaus' to refute your characterization: "the BwO is always swinging between the surfaces that stratify it and the plane that sets it free. If you free it with too violent an action, if you blow apart the strata without taking precautions, then instead of drawing the plane you will be killed, plunged into a black hole, or even dragged toward catastrophe. Staying stratified - organized, signified, subjected - is not the worst that can happen; the worst the can happen is if you throw the strata into demented or suicidal collapse, which brings them back down on us heavier than ever" (page 161). and indeed they end that tome with a very unromantic sentence: "Never believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us." this more accurate attunement to their work doesn't seem to me like either "misplaced optimism" or "a critical failure to 'deterritorialize", but perhaps i'm wrong. i am curious where you read d&g misinterpreting lacan(?).

 

I don't think it's D&G who misinterpret Lacan as much as it is Bryant. I suppose it is far from my intention to show Lacan's model of undesrtanding as superior to D&G's, but that they come to the same conclusions, especially in regard to linguistics and identity. Consider the process of communication; I form an idea, then use language to approximate/territorialize the idea; then turn the idea into sound/text, which is then received and reterritorialized/reapproximated by the interlocutor, so that the text that I am reading or the words I am hearing are fundamentally different than the text you read or the words you hear, because my understanding relies on a (minimally) different understanding of the word based on my particular experiences and unconscious associations.

So back to Bryant's attack; he takes issue with what he perceives to be two features of Lacanian psychoanalysts.

a) The illusion of mastery

B) Failure to deal with the split subject

 

The former is an attempt to eliminate the paradox of "the only thing I know for sure is that I know nothing for sure." We are immediately torn on the statement, and can either rid ourselves entirely of such a self-negating premise, or tweak it a bit. "The only thing I know for sure is that I know nothing <except this statement> for sure." Although this is not a prima facie TRUE statement, it is now POSSIBLE. "This statement" is irreducible in such a context; it includes its own premises as well as its context. This is how we arrive at the concept of Universality within a Particularity, in which Universal truth of the statement is contingent upon its Particular truth.

 

I would never dare say that I hold the interpretive Master-Key; there is no way to say for sure exactly how someone is going to relate to anything without having a key to their particular unconscious. But I don't believe it is such a radical notion to say that in every metaphor, in every approximation, in every symbolic formulation, that SOMETHING will necessarily get left out. Psychoanalysis offers a fundamental critique of mastery; that a normative subject, no matter how experienced or open-minded, will never see the world through anything but squinted eyes.

 

The latter, I believe, is contingent upon the assertion of the former; the constancy of negativity in the critique is inverted, in Bryant's eyes, as an inversion of the playing field; "The only thing I know for sure is that I know nothing for sure" is the implication that I KNOW SOMETHING YOU DON'T KNOW, so the obsessional can take the position of the Master by critiquing the Master. Again, the reflexivity of "except this statement" turns the critique not into one of the Master as a particular, but the entire position of the Master. True psychoanalysts are not afraid of uncertainty, of the potential that they are wrong - and despite that, they make unabashed assertions, unafraid to be cast as a pariah, knowing that it is never them who will be the object of derision, but an image of them which defines them no more than their clothes, hair, or face could.

Edited by Jiggle Billy

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d&g seem much more drawn to the fact that, sometimes, the stars align - 'the idea', 'the approximation', 'the language', 'the comprehension', and so on. that is, more often than we recognize, they resonate together in an intensity, an event. theirs is said to be a fully positive ontology, one in which no negation or absence is necessary to explicate events. even in d&g's reading of lacan, they play down philosophical contemplations over 'what gets left out' and play up the brilliant realization that sometimes something that's 'in' (a singularity) becomes a stand-in for everything else (the universal). {in 'one or several wolves?', they'll call this the "instantaneous apprehension of a[n abstract] multiplicity". perhaps they'd even agree with badiou in referring to it as "the multiple in a pure state".} d&g write, 'we only believe in totalities that are on the periphery'. certainly every individual's perspective is partial, but merely recognizing this fact (the condition of finitude) does not bring us very much closer to the singular universal (the universal that arises out of a singularity). this is also why d&g are emphatic on the point of their not writing in metaphors; rhizomes hold the possibility to cross all these representational divides: the text i am reading and the text you are reading can both be caught up in one becoming, and their differences or non-unity can be said to be generated by an event that shapes the possible contours of our diverse experiences, and the identities ('you', 'me') may be understood as a mere after-effect, a stale residue from the sub- and pre-individual singularities below and before. ...the way to resolve the problem of 'squinting at the world' is not to accept it as a fact of life, but to open one's eyes to the tiny, insignificant aspects of existence we'd formerly written off. that's deleuzian optimism.

 

i take bryant to be saying that if lacanians truly held to the concept of a 'split subject' (which we're half-explaining as the partiality of every subject-position), then those same lacanians should be less willing to reduce complex social phenomenon to their arrogant determination of what our simple unconscious motivations are. so you're quite right to point out that psychoanalysts are not exempt from psychoanalysis.

Edited by Lazzarone

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