Examples to fit the title.
I begin again with explanations and complaints.
Explanations and complaints are exactly not promises and excuses, which are structural performatives, whose uttering is their performance. In a certain sense a promise can never quite be kept or broken (although this does not concern the performance of the promise, its utterance), even as, mutatis mutandis, an excuse can never quite be false or true. Explanations and complaints inevitably arise in the rifts and fault lines of this structural non-necessity of and in promises and excuses. They invoke a future present, and they invariably evoke a past present in order to dissimulate the fact that a performative is structurally (though not necessarily "in fact") free of the burden of the future.
The performative, dependent as it is upon social convention, has something like a relationship with the explaints and complanations - absolution by accusing knowledge - that a "multicultural subject"(1) is obliged to utter on the occasion of psychoanalysis as ethico-cultural practice. And the compulsion to offer ethno-cultural complanations or explaints is produced both by the demand for them as well as the absence of such demands in different ways.
Let me give you in a few words the nature of these explaints and complanations, banal alas, but "true," easy to mouth or even to know, but hard to learn. Ex-colonials cannot protect the contemporary performatives because for them the performatives are always infelicitous, always more and less than a citation or iteration (making other in quoting).(2) Many of us assiduously deny this in the performance even as we are vigorous in its constatation. But the fact is that even this is no special privilege, simply a more embarrassingly visible or noticeable example of the nature of all performatives. When we make promises or excuses, for curing or not wanting to be cured - to give a vulgar example recognizable at least by someone who has been a client if not a practitioner or psychoanalysis - can we perform conventions laid down according to Hebraic and Hellenic stories? No, but nor can the jewgreek or greekjew, fully, felicitously, for intention must inhabit pre- and post-existing conventions to utter the performative; and intention - what knows this better than transference - is always differentially contaminated, never identical with itself, always almost catching up. Yet can we not claim a special privilege by the fact of serving as the embarrassingly visible; for the difference in degree, in the name of a difference in kind? Probably not, except probably by tearing a hole in theory, and uttering the embarrassing, the easy to say but hard to learn responsibility, to utter which we were invited in the first place: because you tried to cast us in your mold, because your special task was to be universal and to universalize, and we did not come out quite like you, your universalizing conventions will not produce promises and excuses for us; our decrepitude is not that we have broken promises and offered false excuses, but that we cannot get an intention-convention fit in that language. We know no-one can. But since we are teaching the best of you this lesson by being abundantly noticeable, how about letting us off the hook of having to? (Institutional psychoanalysis, for all its subtleties, is one of these languages producing performatives.) Do we offer this explaint? Can we? Should we? The answer is an uneasy "no." How about those to whom these universalizing idioms have been available only notionally, only as guarantees unimaginable by them, established by extremely remote controlling apparatuses? What will they have if not this? Museumized or pre-capitalist shamanism? In the context of the construction of a rational subject for academic freedom within the university, I have suggested an (ab)use of the Enlightenment. Can one propose the same thing about psychoanalysis? I cannot imagine a world without the University. Can I imagine one without psychoanalysis? How could I, an outsider to any gathering of psychoanalysts and philosophers of psychoanalysis, on the ethno-cultural agenda, have any appropriate word to offer, on behalf of "multiculturalism," that would not be trivial?
The traffic in "Cultural Studies" between the United States and various parts of Asia now has a strong "made in America" flavor. The earlier Birmingham model drew its strength from the British style's inimical intimacy and its real first source of strength seems to us outsiders to have been Black Britain. The impulse for the somewhat mercurial US "Culture Studies," with its uneasy comradeship with liberal multiculturalism, as I have argued elsewhere, comes from the New Immigrants who began entering the United States when Lyndon Johnson changed the Immigration Laws in 1965 (Jones 1992, 266-67). This is, of course, to create a simple narrative out of immense complexity.(3) But it may be said with some justice that this style of "Culture Studies" makes of the various Asias and Africas a colorful cluster of "national origins" where a rhetorical version of psychoanalysis - with its anthropological origin," and "religious origin," and its story of "subject-construction" - can find a field. (In the post-Soviet era, the field will expand with a more complicated politics, haunted by the politically computed difference between refugee and migrant.) It is as if the autistic "nationalism" of the U.S. should now want to transform "the rest of the world" to its own rules by rewriting it as "national origin." I have often quoted Gramsci to describe this, and now I quote myself quoting Gramsci (1994):
Necessarily without a detailed awareness of the rich history of African-American struggle, Gramsci was somewhat off the mark when he presented the following "hypothesis" for "verification": "1. that American expansionism should use American negroes as its agents in the conquest of the African market and the extension of American civilisation." If, however, these words are applied to new immigrant intellectuals and their countries of national origin, the words seem particularly apposite today. The partners are, of course, "Cultural Studies," liberal multiculturalism, and post-fordist transnational capitalism.(4)
The work or play of psychoanalysis is, just in this way, on another register of long- and short-term responsibility than its use as political or cultural figure, although the two uses cannot always be conveniently polarized. The so-called figurative uses are also, of course, working games, and we sometimes call them cultural politics rather than "Culture Studies," which is itself a game of academic work of varying cultural politics. And so on, indefinitely.
This said, it is still true that for academics (rather than psychoanalytic practitioners) whose desire is to keep the scandal of the real North-South wound or cut open, the "metapsychological" is not only "philosophical" and "anthropo-religious" in addition to dynamic/topological/economic but also "ethico-political," waiting to be "set to work," in another way.(5) This exigency is not necessarily removed by insisting that "Psychoanalysis is really materialist" or "Psychoanalysis is really historical," and straining for evidence from within some narrative of selective Northwestern-European philosophy or history. The dazzling results produced by some of my friends by these efforts are indeed so utterly absorbed in their own system that they are quite out of touch with the decoupage or contextual cut that makes it work, a massive begging of the question, proving it works by assuming first that it does.
What draws "Americans" like me to the action in a more errant space is a bit more complicated. Let us dare to err there. Errant, I will first consider a few far-flung examples in terms of an analogy which I have edited out of this version of the essay (see note 1). I will let you draw the conclusions. On the way to my own conclusion, I will construct a counter-point of moves, haphazardly, as hazard happens, following chance by choice: explaints, therefore, and complanations.
Let me, then, propose this question about my "nation of origin": Given radical iterability, how have institutional psycho-analysts in India dealt with what they perceived to be the scientific dominant discourse of psychoanalysis?
The majority of practicing psychoanalysts (and, mutatis mutandis, psychologists, and clinical psychiatrists) in India who accept "psychoanalysis" as a science, learn its practice professionally (still as a version of abyssal responsibility, responses being drawn from both sides, the main effort being to keep the volley going as long as necessary, permitted, or possible), and publish accordingly. Their offerings are to be found, say, in the pages of Samiksa (the journal of the Indian Psychoanalytic Institute) or The Journal of the Indian Psychological Association. They are, strictly speaking, fielders out in left field without a clue, playing psychoanalysis like cricket, where knowledge of the rules of the (wrong) game produces the inability to perceive the depth of the play.(6) For this reader, one of the most telling examples of this phenomenon is a Research Note such as "Adaptation of Kundu's Neurotic Personality Inventory in Bengali," supplied by a conscientious woman psychologist, "the work done under the guidance of Dr. S. Chatterjee, Head, Psychometry Unit (RTS) & Dr. (Miss) M. Mukherjee, Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta" (Mitra 1970, 369-71).
There is also a fairly large number of attempts, through the anthropologico-religious connections of psychoanalysis, to interpret "Hindu psychology," mythology, and epic in terms of a general psychoanalytic lexicon. One of the most interesting examples is no doubt Sudhir Kakar's "Tantra and Tantric Healing," which acknowledges the Tantra system as an instrument for psychoanalyzing (albeit not for Psychoanalysis) rather than a cultural oddity.(7) Since, however, this instrument is clearly "unscientific" and assumes a credulous clientele, the cultural-political problem of blocking access to modernity that anthropological benevolence merely compounds has not been avoided even by such a conscientious effort.
Most of the efforts are less bold. What does strike one is the absence of a noticeable feminist impulse in this particular line of work.(8) When considering the Mahabharata, for example, Indian psychologist/psychoanalysts do not notice that, in the recited table of contents in the first episode of the epic (put there as an oral mnemonic of the great narrative for the singer, pace Lyotard's appropriation of the short tale for postmodern legitimation), it is obsessively repeated that the male transgression for which the devastating defeat - the mythos of the epic - atones was to have brought Princess Draupadi into the Royal Assembly in her bloodied garment, when, in menstruation, she was in her "female nature" or stridharma. If regulative psychobiographies are historical rather than (or as well as) archetypal, should one consider this as significantly different from the Moses-Totem-(narcissus-) Oedipus story rather than consider "Indians" as persistent deviations from the ideal subject of the admittedly impossible psychoanalytic narrative? Should feminist psychoanalysts in "India" intervene on a different ground? Should that ground include the detail that, in the earliest version of the story, it is Nature that intervenes to lament the transgression rather than man intervening to protect her honor? Should it include the fact that tradition has suppressed her unanswerable question of/as woman as property, posed precisely to the deliberately unreproductive patriarch? How far should one intervene inductively? Was Freud ultimately deductive or did he, at a certain point, also start begging the question? Remember those curious statements in "Narcissism" and "Femininity" about unavoidable assumptions and idees fixes? (Freud 1914, 76-77; and 1933, 132). Can rules of a game be true?" and so on.
When considering the Ramayana, Indian psychologist/pyschoanalysts do not seem to have noticed that, like the historically pre-Oedipal male Cadmeans re-memorated at the opening of Oedipus the King (a male martial collectivity, for which, there is, incidentally, an episodic parallel in Indic epic), the future Queen Sita is found in the plough's furrow, in a chthonic representation of the primal scene under her (foster)-father's control. Her (foster)-father's name is simply "Father" (Janaka): etymologically, "he who engenders." One of Sita's epithet/proper names is, therefore Janaki ("of the Father" or, of course, Janaka's daughter). The feminine gender of janaka as a common noun in Sanskrit - janani (mother) -is by-passed in this birth, these namings. Janaki is not a common noun. At the end of the epic, when asked to undergo the trial by fire to test her faithfulness, Sita refuses, calls upon the earth, which splits and takes her back. If regulative psychobiographies are also historical, how should feminists intervene, in that the culturally sanctioned feminine role-model fixes on Sita's devotion to her husband rather than on her arche-teleological a-partness from the circuit of marriage and, indeed, monogamy? (It is her husband's brother who succeeds to the throne, her own twin sons play almost no role in the story.) How can such interventions hope to undo the perennial possibility of political mobilization in the name of "Hinduism" in post-coloniality? Should we forget that the blind Oedipus's final speech (which breaks the decorum of Greek tragedy by taking place on stage) is addressed to marriage, as the institution that coded his life as transgression? And, of course, all those other questions as well. Can it be that we are looking here at a different (rather than deviant) game, open still to intervention and the carving out of a practice that is responsible by volleying responses rather than imposing an alien "science?"
Freud has foreclosed this by situating matriarchal polytheisms in the pre-history of mankind, even as he dismisses the rationalistic element in Eastern religions as ancestorworship. By this he is able to claim the parricide story as the beginning of human history (Freud 1939, 83, 93). But do feminists have time to inter-vene on this level, to make the repressed return? Only insofar as this presupposition is shared by the colonized culture, it would seem. Or, to be more precise, as it enters the presuppositional baggage of the educators. I will later make some suggestions about the constitution of the "masses" whose mobilization defeats decolonization. In this context, it is well to remember that the polytheist description is vigorously contested, in different ways, by both "fundamentalist" and enlightened Hindus.
In "Figures for the "Unconscious,'" Kumkum Sangari points out that, in two novels written by two Indians thirty years apart, an Indian culture unconscious seems to be situated in the figure of the tribal (aboriginal or indigenous) woman.(9) The politics of this configuration emerges in the economy, in both cases, of two women: a tamed and a wild. The wild one is, of course, the tribal. The tamed is the modern Indian woman, emancipated Hindu rather than tribal; measuring the distance between an imitative modern ego and a rich historico-cultural unconscious. Denial of access to modernity as woman's virtue is played out here by Indian men. Criticizing both male writers, Sangari warns against dehistoricizing, romanticizing, and thus disempowering the autochthonous tribal.
Sangari herself points out, in agreement with some of the discussants of the paper, that she is not really engaging with the rich Freudian concept-metaphor of the Unconscious. If I understand her right (and I am not sure of this, since she is highly critical of my way of thinking), she is engaging with the implicit conflation of the Unconscious with a primitivist golden-ageist view of history, often advanced in colonial and postcolonial societies in the interest of patriarchal consolidation. She most astutely notices that the author of the second book has taken a degree in anthropology in the US. If Dutt internalizes the spirit of Kipling and Rider Haggard, Joshi is into the new US liberal multiculturalism. He, the intellectual finished in the US (as in a finishing-school) - an ally of the well-placed New Immigrant, pitches to the apostle of the New Culture Studies stateside. Way back up against the wall of the former colony, such writers produced more documentation of a merely pre-modern cultural wealth, thus securing national origin, producing the new multicultural America, where Indian is a prefix with a past and an Amer-ican future, to produce, on cue, complanations and explaints. America is, ideologically and by the logic of cultural relativism, in favor of Hindu fundamentalism.(10) Thus by a move of the Joshi type, the chasm of contradiction between the Women's Movement, indeed all resistance, in the former colonies and the substance of Culture Studies widens further. If one wants to pick up this lack of play, between resistance in the South and "knowledge" in the North, the focus will have to shift; from the staging of Culture to the staging of Development. And the pertinent discipline is not psychoanalytic cultural critique, but, perhaps, a wild psychoanalysis of International Affairs.
As I have pointed out, Sangari's excellent piece is not, strictly speaking, psychoanalytic. But perhaps it does not seem relevant to engage in feminist psychoanalytic intervention in the theatre I have described. The more important field of intervention seems outside this theatre: to dehegemonize and re-inscribe the secular Enlightenment. My own concentration on psychoanalysis has thinned of late for this very reason, although I am slowly inching back through Melanie Klein.
Psychoanalysis even at its stodgiest - in the offices of "awful American shrinks" who are clearly not up to the Lacanian analysts' offer of nothingness by being nothing - gives us a self-contained system that seems to be, paradoxically, a general form of equivalence. I think about that other supposedly universal game - Capital - and I move by sheer inertia into that dreary argument, trivially yet murderously true, that, if psychoanalysis is part of "modernization" in its special sense of making accessible to Eurocentric subject-constitution by default, it has quietly displaced itself into the project of "development." (One of the demands of Bhopal activists must needs be, and is, money for psychiatric rehabilitation of the survivors).
Psychoanalytic formalism of the subject, with an informed exchange of cultural currency, can be used to evaluate everyone. There seems to be no reason why it cannot produce a greater and greater range of cultural descriptives. Nobody ever worries any more about the status of the implicit validity claims in these exercises. Why should we assume human beings are this way singly or collectively when we are ostensibly proving that they are? This move in the game, the prime move in the biggest game in town, is called (once again) begging the question. Who calls the emperor's new clothes? Who would be so unsporting and so embarrassingly boring as to suggest that there is no adequate and intrinsic virtue in hitting the ball with the bat and pursuing the consequences? What is hors jeu, outside the game? How can we trace the game back within a boundary inside the diamond in the clinic? We are moving toward the second half of my title: "and field-working." But not yet.
However brilliant its discourse, this particular unacknowledged supposition is to us as irritating as is that question-begging that I mentioned earlier. It clearly makes no difference to the players. At best they'll say, "But you have nothing better to offer." If you take away the general form, are we to legitimize ourselves by local barter and basket-weaving? I retreat: It's all true. And yet ridiculously imitating now the sublime final Foucault, I whine. "I am not looking for an alternative." Friendly Americans universalizing Foucault tried to push him into saying that he was offering "an attractive and plausible alternative . . . for [r]ecent liberation movements." "I am not looking for an alternative," said Foucault (1983, 231; sentence order re-arranged).
Because we are served by the extreme substitutability of psychoanalytic discourse in many mental theatres, we must acknowledge the usefulness of psychoanalysis in its own house, in the analytic situation. I cannot imagine a world without psychoanalysis; though I know many who can.
How does the new multiculturalist, culture-working American deal with that latter group? At the Conference where the original version of this paper was given, Professor Alphonso Lingis, a man of impeccable politics, gave us an example that was all the more instructive because of his obvious personal goodwill. Although the passage was not included in the published proceedings, I should like to refer to it briefly.
In that original talk Professor Lingis gave an account of transvestite theatre for the American in the Asia-Pacific,, and a subsequent encounter with a bi-sexual boy. Under neo-colonialism, the liberal American who talks about the wonder of the pagan world soul but wants to get in touch with the boy from the hills still universalizes from a particular case. Of course, the relationship between the US and the rim is still somewhat different from that with the other Asias, so this too is situation-specific, and would not fit, for example, a West Asian trip.
The first thing to remember, is that, in this sort of account, the American is on holiday. Professor Lingis knew enough not to say "we." That would have been the old style. "It is a muggy tropical evening," his account began, "one gets horny." It is not just that the "one" is male, but it is also that "one" does not live there. It is not a "muggy tropical evening for the normal person in that society. It is a "muggy evening." And if you live and work there, then in fact you might (I am not even talking about you as a woman yet) toward evening be returning home by bus. I am not even talking about the people dying on the streets, but just people of our kind going to work returning by bus. You might feel you want perhaps to snooze a bit. And if you are indeed a woman who has been working in the telephone exchange, let's say, you come back by bus, and you groan that you have to put the meal on the table. It is not "a muggy tropical evening when one gets horny." A tiny set of changes, but much more crucial than any talk of cultural difference.
At the Conference, Dr. James Hillman offered us post-analysis in the place of post-modernism. As such he trivializingly constructed deconstruction as something that has done some mischief that can be corrected by his modernist post-analysis. He is in the broadly Habermasian tradition, vividly staged in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (Habermas 1987). Is a deconstructive conference necessarily different?
A Colloquium entitled Entre psychanalyse et Islam took place at the College international de philosophie in Paris in 1989, in the heart of deconstruction country. There are many interesting papers to be found in its Proceedings. I will begin with the lead piece by Abdelkebir Khatibi (1990, 13-22).
The most moving thing about "Frontieres" is Khatibi's deconstructive embrace of Freud. According to Khatibi, Freud tried to desacralize the notion of the Jews as a "chosen people" by putting it at the door of the personality of Moses the Man. It caught on because it spoke to the "archaic heritage" of the Jewish people that followed the path of a group pathology. Moses was an Egyptian, and Christ a murderer in this retelling, says Khatibi. Islam, lacking a murder, gets one sentence in this long re-telling. It is no more than an "abbreviated repetition of the Jewish" religion (Freud 1939, 92). Freud exiles the error, argues Khatibi. In a brilliant move, Khatibi describes the double revelation of Mohammed, the first intelligible only to Khadija, his senior wife, as (therefore?) from the start "lettered." Since the revelation is illegible to Mohammed, the holder of the proper name, no Father's son, but his grandfather's ward, a Bedouin's nurseling, - Mohammed "sacrifices his signature." This is the lettered version of the murder (even as circumcision is a lettered version of castration (Freud 1939, 122) in the historically youngest religion of the Book, "the lost Book" (Khatibi 1990, 14). Khatibi transforms the historical pathology of Islam to a negative cryptonymy - the encrypting of the sacrificed signature as something that cannot be avowed. Thus Islam consolidates the difference at the origin of monotheisms: "The unicity of Allah and of the Arabic language marks this frontier, in the Islamic imaginary, [as] the founding signature, the emblem" (Khatibi 1990, 17). This is in the spirit of Freud's inquiry into his own religion, but against Freud's history-bound dismissal of Islam. When Khatibi himself breaks the transparency of the Prophet's proper name by reading his elder brother's name under it as a hypogram, one cannot help thinking that the Prophet of psychoanalysis figures there somewhere. The Franco-Maghrebin male cultural worker produces rather a robust and affirmative case of the explaint, the complanation. If you want to move this into the playing fields, it is like two teams that have had ups and downs in the history of the game and in the current configuration are no longer in the same league. It's the same game; they are peoples of the Book. There have been misunderstandings. It's time to play ball. In spite of the real differences, it's more in-house than universal.
Khatibi is not himself a practicing analyst, of course. Yet in the end he gives us a good generalization: "It is not a question of psychoanalysing Islam or of Islamizing psychoanalysis and even less of Judaizing or Hinduizing it, but rather exercising it as a frontier position in the language and exercise of a profession" (Khatibi 1990, 22). Do we have an example of the exercise of this frontier position? Let us briefly consider two other players in the volume - both, in a certain way, outsiders to the topic of the issue, but both insiders in that they are practitioners: Daniel Sibony, a Jewish Franco-Maghrebin, and Martine Medejel, a Gauloise married to a Moroccan. Here the lines of negotiation between major and minor league can be plotted more easily.
These practicing analysts have shifted the lines from two Peoples of the Book to an opposition which reflects the vicissitudes of the long losing streak of the by now lesser team: Arab against French. And indeed they both speak of problems of migrancy. They are both what outsiders recognize as "French" Freudians to the extent that they take it for granted that all origins are a play of traces, that "to have one's origin as lost is still to have it (Sibony 1990, 82). Both want to draw a lesson for psychiatric responsibility from this paradoxical conviction. Sibony offers the narrative of an Arab migrant boy's aphonia and his "cure," as a case where Sibony, on the abyssal see-saw of transference/responsibility - in this case with a child who would not respond - was witness to the emergence of French speech parasitically to a conversation between Sibony and the boy's mother about, among other things, the lack of coverage for circumcision by French Social Security:
Perhaps that is the essential thing in certain therapeutic acts: to make a graft of the origin to liberate the subject, so that he [sic] may, like a swimmer touch bottom, not to remain there but to make a fresh start [donner l'impulsion makes a good pun in French] to get back up to the surface . . . in other languages. (Sibony 1990, 84)
This, for Sibony, is the "original |circumcision."' "The boy says, in French, "c'est fini" (83).
From her loss of control over the proper naming of her son, Medejel (1990) draws her lesson from/of differance as a weaving lesson:
Having many first names may open the work of the letter, undo and redo [dejouer et rejouer] the point of division in the name. Divide and tie [lier gives a wonderful pun with kinship inscription in French]. Retie if necessary. This possible slippage of the conflict of signatures is then the opening of a space for the emergence of the subject, of which Lacan speaks when he says "it cannot do anything but always name itself unknowingly, and not knowing by which name." (66)
As I have already suggested, we are here on the register of adjusting the record between two teams, even perhaps renegotiating rules. Within such intimacy, we can notice certain differentiations in the larger focus of global left-field play. Let us tabulate:
Sibony is the well-placed male migrant helping cure the problems of underclass migrants. His hold on the Frenchness of French society may be minimally more secure because of his Jewishness, although there are plenty of historical ironies behind this claim. Medejel's problems with choosing an Arabic first name if she converts and of the different status of the first name of her Moroccan son from the first name (marking mother-love) for a French son is not a typical one. Yet in both cases what is secure is French, as a language or a "culture." Sibony seems not to care that the so-called culture of origin has a different mode of existence today, elsewhere. It is not simply his past and the past of his patients. He seems to ignore that the cutting of the graft is also the death of the host, the loss of a language, that if the "country of origin" is considered as alibi but not in illo tempore, circumcision is not sublating a pre-historic castration in these cases. Because of the history of imperialism, there is no likelihood that Medejel's re-tying of the mother-son knot will result in a loss of French for the Morrocan son. (That loss is more likely with an Anglophone marriage for a Frenchwoman, but the other problem, between psychoanalysis and Islam - is not likely to arise there.) Indeed, the problem here is not just Islam but the apparent subordination of a woman from a dominant culture. If Sibony's graft kills the host, Medejel's position as the subject of re-tying the knot in the division between first and last names might be absurdly enviable or simply absurd for a North African woman living in France. But psychoanalysis at work is like Ernesto Cardenal's God, who must save Marilyn Monroe with the same Grace that abounds for the destroyed children of Latin America, winning games when apparently it is only form that matters.(11)
A student of cultural politics can, however, lodge an explaint and at once advance a complanation. Why does a too-quick graft of the origin in the Eurocentric migration kill the host-culture? When the notion of the origin as a field of the play of traces becomes too much of a received idea, such questions cannot be asked. Let us go slower here.
As many have pointed out, Freud thought of himself, among many other things, as re-writing Kant. One of the marks of this Freudian auto-bio-graphy shows in the name "sublimation."
In Kant's "Analytic of the Sublime," the ungraspable grandeur of awesome natural phenomena is sublim-ated (named "sublime") in order, in fact, to validate the sublimity of the moral will. This surreptitious validation is a two-step: pain at not being able to grasp grand Nature, followed by pleasure at reassurance of being human, not only natural, in other words, having a moral will (Kant 1951, 89-106).
The philosophical connection between this and Freud's thinking of "sublimation" can easily be seen. Es kommt darauf an, to keep it alive in the responsibility-work of psychoanalysis.(12)
Here is the philosophical connection, spelled out by a non-specialist; fine-tune it, you who know:
Until Beyond the Pleasure Principle put a frame around the mythos of psycho-analysis, the conflict which was seen to constitute the subject's history was the discrepancy between the ungraspable natural necessity of the instincts and the contingent grasping reach of the drives, themselves unevenly appropriate for coupling with "the external world" (Freud 1920, 7-64). The validation of the sublimity of the moral will comes through the deflection of these by sublimation, which connects the conflict to responsibilities relating to the cultural universal.
In the philosophical field, Derrida (1982) long ago offered a supplement to this two-step of validation. When in the throes of philosophical sublimation (so to speak), the philosopher wishes to universalize (entailing always a causeless cause), she should "trace" it, inscribe it in the textuality within which the particular subliming moment arose: "I have indicated a way out of the closure of this framework via the trace,' which is no more an effect than it has a cause [although we must |rationalize' each |(con)text' thus, the Kantian Sublime being a possible theorization from this which is offered as a universal model], but which in and of itself [since it is this situation, this trace, this rationally computed effect of that rationally established cause, all impossible localizations stopping the train of the differentiating present], outside its text [commonly subordinated as con-text], is not sufficient to operate the transgression necessary [for universalization]" (12; translation modified).
A few pages later, the young philosopher (this was written twenty five years ago, today the Derridean discourse of responsibility is rather more complicated, but then we are putting Beyond the Pleasure Principle out of court for this discussion), gives us a rule: "The practice of a language or of a code supposing" - observe the precise distinction between theoretical presupposition and practical supposition here - "a play of forms without a determined and invariable substance, and also supposing an the practice of this play" - not free play, this play is indistinguishable from work, as in the hinges of a tool having play - "a retention and protention of differences" - not presupposing an undifferentiated origin (retention) or end (protection - "must be . . . the regular [regle in French the implication of a |rule of thumb,' an invariable practical situation(trace)-specific rule rather than a universal law] erasure" - crossing out by invoking the situation, yet keeping visible the generalizable element - "of the archi-, . . . this latter executing a critical labor on everything . . . that maintained metaphysical presuppositions incompatible with the motif of differance" (1982, 15; emphasis mine).(13)
When "origin-as-play-of-traces" becomes a formula, then the persistence of this effortful rule, whenever the "metaphysical" urge to validate the moral will takes over, is lost. In spite of the error in David B. Allison's earlier translation, Derrida is not here offering a "system" but a "rule."(14) We are speaking of a game at play, a practice at work. However complicated the maneuver, the persistence of this double gesture remains the abyssal responsibility of deconstruction, its "setting-to-work."
Let us now return to the moment when its formulaic citation becomes most evident in Daniel Sibony's account. Speaking of the problem of migrants, Sibony (1990) is able to make a nice distinction between structure (division-at-the-origin) and case - Law and trace: "But things start going wrong because that origin [necessarily lost, but still an origin], is handed down (the object of desire is nothing but the object of transmission . . .) by beings of flesh and blood who are themselves entangled in and with it" (82). Let us consider the limit of this capacity to distinguish.
As the Franco-Jewish analyst, Sibony can share a sense of exile with the Austro-Jewish father of psychoanalysis and tell comparable stories of his schoolroom experiences (Freud 1925, 7-70). The little analysand in his Franco-Arab mother's arms, tied to him by the authoritative event and male bond of circumcision, is thus distanced from him not only by class, but also by "race" (that inaccurate term). Sibony may be North African but he is not "Arab" (that inaccurate term) quite like the little boy.
That distance asserts itself in the suspension of Sibony's capacity to distinguish between chronological priority - belonging to situation or trace"-and the graphic of origin - belonging to the motif of differance, here travestied into something like a logical presupposition. He conflates "historical" time and the impossible temporality of origins. When he recalls his own school days in the Maghreb, he "remembers" that the Muslim "scholar seemed not to know that the sacrifice of Ismael, which he read as a |radical' event, was an interesting modulation of its original version, called the sacrifice of Isaac and written fifteen centuries earlier . . . (Sibony 1990, 88). Unable to use or set-to-work the best of his "theory," Sibony is unable to cross out yet keep visible his tie with the universalizing Father who is the Subject of Science. He falls through this gap as the migrant boy learns to speak French.(15)
Let us recall a similar invocation of "fifteen hundred years" in Freud (1939), lamenting the historical loss of Judaism:
The triumph of Christianity was a fresh victory for the priests of Amun over Akhenaten's god after an interval of fifteen hundred years and on a wider stage. And yet in the history of religion - that is, as regards the return of the repressed - Christianity was an advance and from that time on the Jewish religion was to some extent a fossil. (88)
Christianity is here linked to the neurotic development of an originally repressed "unrestricted polytheism" (19). And the best of Judaism, its sense of being "chosen," ostensibly related to the Man Moses, is now linked back to the understandable self-concept of a great Imperialism, for the first time conceiving "the sublime abstraction" of monotheism in Aten, the sun worshipped not "as a material object" but as a "symbol" (19, 22): "In Egypt, so far as we can understand, monotheism grew up as a by-product of imperialism: . . . . Where did [the] tiny and powerless [Jewish] nation [sic] find the arrogance to declare itself the favourite child of the great Lord?" (65). It is because Moses was an imperial Egyptian, worshipper of Aten, who, after
the death of Akhenaten and the abolition of his religion . . . could remain in Egypt only as an outlaw. . . . Perhaps as governor of the frontier province he had come in contact with a Semitic tribe which had immigrated into it a few generations earlier. . . . He chose them as his people and tried to realize his ideals in them. (60)
Arrived at Mount Sinai, and obliged to worship the violent Yahweh, god among many rival gods, the Jews remembered Egypt, and their good governor, and constructed the myth of "the chosen people" from the culture of that remembered imperialism. Freud the dispassionate and unbelieving analyst helps them to remember further:
It may encourage us to enquire whether the religion of Moses brought the people nothing else besides an enhancement of their self-esteem owing to their consciousness of having been chosen. . . . That religion also brought the Jews a far grander conception of God, or, as we might put it more modestly, the conception of a grander God. . . . [F]or an unbeliever this is not entirely self-evident; but we may perhaps make it easier to understand if we point to the sense of superiority felt by a Briton in a foreign country which has been made insecure owing to an insurrection - a feeling that is completely absent in a citizen of any small continental state. For the Briton counts on the fact that his Government will send along a warship if a hair of his head is hurt, and that the rebels understand that very well - whereas the small state possesses no warship at all. Thus, pride in the greatness of the British Empire has a root as well in the consciousness of the greater security - the protection - enjoyed by the individual Briton. This may resemble the conception of a grand God. And, since one can scarcely claim to assist God in the administration of the world, the pride in God's greatness fuses with the pride in being chosen by him.(16)
Persecuted by the Nazis, arrived at last in "lovely, free, magnanimous England, . . . a welcome guest at last" in the last year of his life, Freud (1939) "trace[s]" Judaism (57). But at least in the "dispassionate," over-arching argument he offers the history of individual psychopathology as an analogy for the history of religion. In the spirit of that argument, it may be asked, where has that itinerary arrived in 1989? I will let the reader conclude. But I may, I hope, be forgiven if I find Sibony's conscientious ecumenicism less convincing than Khatibi's anguish.
I am not altogether uninterested in alternatives, after all, for it makes of necessity a virtue, of iterability a strength. In search of alternatives, then, I spot a major player of renown, Assia Djebar of Algeria.(17) In her "Forbidden Gaze, Severed Sound" (1992), she outlines the scenario:
[T]hroughout the nineteenth century, the battles were lost one after the other, further and further to the south of the Algerian territories. The heroes have not yet stopped biting the dust. In that geste, women's looks and voices continue to be perceived from a distance, from the other side of the frontier [no longer only between the two teams of Psychoanalysis and Islam, as in Intersignes] that should separate us from death, if not from victory. [Colonial discourse:] But for those born in the age of submission, feudals or proletarians, sons or lovers, the scene remains, the watching women haven't moved, and it is with a retrospective fear that men began to dream that look.
This does not congeal into a project of restoring history or giving voice, neither of which is to be relinquished, of course. This particular striving articulates itself in a desire necessarily for an unsatisfied desire:
[Post-coloniality:] Thus, while outside an entire society partitions itself into the duality of the vanquished and the victorious, the autochthons and the invaders, in the harem, reduced to a shack or a cave, the dialogue has become almost definitively blocked. If only one could cathect [investir] that single spectator body that remains, encircle it more and more tightly in order to forget the defeat! (140-41)
Far from universalizing, here the reader of history - the author of the book - is, as in most cases of reading narrative for ethical instantiation, in the "analysand"-position, her ability to "do the right thing" on her own, her propriety, crossed out, although of course visible. If only one could . . . is the mode.
Within this stricture, she re-occupies the graphic that was narrativized by Freud, from the male perspective, as "castration." (To borrow Melanie Klein's  word, this was the narrative that was "permissible" for Freud (317 and passim). And no amount of penis-phallus finessing will allow us to escape the narrative. For every element in a narrative, as we literary critics well know - and indeed all readers "know" - does not have to be "real." A narrative is made up of signifiers. To borrow Derrida's phrase (1987), even if we read phallus for penis, there is no escaping the "transcendental signified" (465).
And indeed, in terms of my running argument, we can ask, what have women been permitted to know?
Men have always known (in this special way [via the "archaic heritage"]) that they once possessed a primal father and killed him . . . . There must have been something present in the ignorant masses, too, which was akin to the knowledge of the few and went half way to meet it when it was uttered. . . . The genesis of monotheism could not do without these occurrences. (Freud 1939, 101, 94; sentence order re-arranged)
This is the permitted narrative of castration sublated into circumcision that still seems to work for the migrant boy. For women only the unsubstantiated memory of mut(ilat)ing.
Djebar narrativizes that graphic as "severed sound." The oral-historical songs of Kabyle-Jewish-Muslim women, keeping track of the North African history of the region, has been lost to women through the "Arabization" of Algeria to construct a binary opposition to French Imperialism.(18)
This situational or textual "tracing" of the graphic of being cut-off, colonized women being cut off from women as agents of historical narrative, is of course precisely that, a "trace," not a bid to take over the universalizing narrative of castration, not because the latter is correct, but because universalizing is a symptom. Yet it is still the graphic of the cut.
In that it is a "trace," it must be taken to be the mark of an absent presence, even if mistakenly. That supposed presence - a lost object - produces a feminism that is rather different from the project of winning back the "forbidden gaze" from men's "scopic exclusivity" (Djebar 1992, 139; translation modified).
That battle is fought on a different terrain, making dangerous alliances with white men - Delacroix, Picasso - in order to rewrite their text:
These women of Algiers - who have remained motionless in Delacroix's painting since 1832 - if it was possible yesterday to see in their fixity the nostalgic expression of happiness or of the softness of submission, today their desperate bitterness is what must strike our most sensitive nerve. (Djebar 1992, 140)
In quite another context, the defensive assertion - "[p]sychoanalytic theory is thus appropriated here as a political weapon" - shows up women's solidarity on this difficult terrrain.(19) As Djebar points out, given that entry on that terrain presupposes all kinds of alliances with the master-system, every victory is a warning there.(20)
Here is another alternative, from the early work of another renowned woman, Doris Lessing, "Rhodesian" transplanted in England. Let us consider how she re-occupies "the uncanny."
Freud (1919) describes the layman's attitude to psychoanalysis in this way:
The uncanny effect of epilepsy and of madness has the same origin. The layman sees in them the expression [Ausserung] of forces hitherto unsuspected in his fellowmen, but at the same time he senses their trace [spuren] in remote corners of his own being . . . . Indeed, I should not be surprised to hear that psychoanalysis, which is concerned with laying bare these hidden forces, has itself become uncanny to many people for that very reason. (243; translation modified)
Here is "layman" Martha, the central character of The Four-Gated City (a well-known Jungian archetype), after a protracted session of "responsible" analysis, with Lynda, the madwoman in the book, out on a walk on the familiar street outside her residence. (In this already too-long essay, I cannot burden the reader with the textual analyses these passages demand):
The day was fresh and the world newly painted . . . . She stood facing up, up, until her eyes seemed absorbed in the crystalline substance of the sky with blocks of clouds like snowbanks, she seemed to be streaming out through her eyes into the skies, but then sounds came into her, they were vibrations of feet on pavement, and she looked down again at an extraordinarily hideous creature who stood watching her, . . . . (Lessing 1970, 504)
After a long description of this experience of the uncanny, - the the familiar rendered strange - Martha is made to feel pain, "in a way she had never known pain, an affliction of shameful grief:"
What an extraordinary race, or near-race of half, uncompleted creatures. There they were, all soft like pale slugs, or dark slugs, with their limp flabby flesh, with hair sprouting from it, and the things like hooves on their feet, and wads or fells of hair on the tops of their heads. There they were all around her, with their roundish bony faces that had flaps of flesh sticking out on either side, then the protuberance in the middle, with the air vents in it, and the eyes, tinted-jelly eyes which had a swivelling movement that gave them a life of their own, so that they were like creatures on their own account, minuscule twin animals living in the flesh of the face, but these organs, the eyes, had a look which contradicted their function, which was to see, to observe, for as she passed pair after pair of eyes, they looked half drugged, or half asleep, dull, as if the creatures had been hypnotised or poisoned, for these people walked their fouled and disgusting streets full of ordure and bits of refuse and paper as if they were not conscious of their existence here, were somewhere else: and they were somewhere else, for only one in a hundred of these semi-animals could have said, "I am here, now, noticing what is around me[.]"(21)
I include Lessing because this is a consideration of the metropolis, of the master race at home. This dystopia (indeed the uncanny may be the secret of dystopias) is re-written at the end of the narrative in a mode that can lead to utopias, a sanctioning of the "present" that is counter to the compulsion to repeat a longing for when-I-was-not-yet and when-I-will-be-no-longer of which Freud's narrative (1919) makes the uncanny a sign, a reminder, even a trace if we attend to the German verb translated as "perceive": "whatever reminds us of this inner |compulsion to repeat' [probably inherent in the very nature of instincts - . . . powerful enough to overrule the pleasure principle] is perceived [verspuren wir] as uncanny" (238). Freud refers us to Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and we realize that the compulsion is to repeat the trace of the stasis of death that surrounds our little island of pleasure.
Lessing's main narrative (1970) ends with a re-inscription of that ocean of death as a "present" space that exceeds the subject, precisely as attention to a repetition:
She thought, with the dove's voices of her solitude: Where? But where. How? Who? No, but where, where . . . . Then silence and the birth of a repetition: Where? Here. Here? Here, where else, you fool, where else has it been, ever . . . . (591)
The rememoration of the "present" as space is the possibility of the utopian imperative of no-(particular)-place, the metropolitan project that can supplement the postcolonial attempt at the impossible cathexis of place-bound history as the lost time of the spectator.
This, too, is an alternative strategy, not a theoretical substitute. The same motif of a repressed longing, the compulsion to repeat, but modified into a Quest for the common space of globality as utopia. One does not want to be too systematic - where is my grammatological cross-how and eraser? - but certainly for the white, ex-"Rhodesian," post-marxist there is a greater "permission" to offer a universal narrative. And Lessing does cross out. By now Martha Quest [spuren] has her husband's name, Hesse. And the utopia in Four-Gate City, the only un-epigraphed section in the book, is in the "science fiction" (that splendid oxymoron) mode, and its title is "Appendix," at least as a reminder that an attempt is being made here to "trace" the universal. Does it work? We must learn to read. These alternatives are pretty desperately dependent upon the here and now and that is its only link with the "responsible" part of psychoanalysis, not its filing-cabinet know-it-all repository of rules.
The language of this analysis is nothing but bricolage, bits and pieces from many healing practices. As per the robust model of responsibility, both learn. Can real people do this? How could one know: literature merely figures the impossibility of a perfect psychoanalysis.(22) The Martha-Lynda thing begins to work when telepathy is released between them. Is it real telepathy? The authorial voice gives us no guarantee. It is only Martha who thinks she can hear Lynda's mind inside her own and feels sure hers is going over. Does that mean Martha is mad too? Yet, is it not a truism to say that "terminable" analyses, se-curing people within "permissible" narratives, in principle (though of course not always in fact) decides situationally what it is not to be made? And is not telepathy the perfect model of successful transference, responsibility flowing both ways, both sides responding and accountable? Was Freud mad when he speculated on telepathy? Is that why Ernest Jones suppressed those speculations?(23)
By herself, battered Lynda knows only the compulsion to repeat and the attendant fear of the uncanny. The two women together push the compulsion over into the openness of utopia. The utopian appendix - strictly the future anterior - is about a widely dispersed idiot-savant group of telepathic children already being diagnosed and organized by system-bound benefactors trying to put back together a world devastated by nuclear holocaust by the public use of reason.
What is being re-occupied by these two players is the graphic of the uncanny and castration; the uncanny as "the entrance to the old Heim [home] of all human beings [Menschenkindes - literally human children], to the place where each one of us lived once upon a time and in the beginning" (Freud 1919, 245; translation modified). Upon exiting this home, only half of us inscribed that home in terms of a constitutive error - misrecognition of sexual difference as castration - that is underived because a recognition at that stage cannot be theorized within the male model: to misrecognize sexual difference as "a particular and quite special penis that had a great significance [eine grosse Bedeutung] in early childhood but had later been lost ... the woman's (the mother's) phallus [Phallus] that the little boy once believed in and - we know why [wir wissen warum] - does not want to give up" (Freud 1920, 152-53; translation modified). If this is the narrative that is permissible in gendering, it will engender spectacular complications in figuring out the woman as anything thing but reactive in her agency.(24)
But suppose we assumed sexual difference at the origin, and the womb not as a place where we all once lived but a place where we all came from with nothing but a potential for articulating differences and nothing but one "thing to be charged with signification" to work with - one primary object that gives us plus (desire and need) as well as minus (loss and refusal). Even as a program of artificial intelligence begins to construct a system of differences with nothing but a binary, the ego (nothing but a differente Beziehung) begins to construct a system of qualities that will bear all the quantities that will be permissible in the graphing of a life upon the socius.(25) Nothing of Freud's best - the theory of the unconscious, of the drives and their strategies - is disturbed here. But, for the sexually differentiated subject, biology is inscribed as the already differentiated field (rather than the condition of possibility) of the emergence of the signifier, rather than the taboo of anti-essentialism. That part of psychoanalysis that, even in its ruins, still has the intention of taking seriously the sub-individual zone of sense-making, playing by the rules of sub-jecting to restore social agency, and that part of deconstruction, which must work at the bond between intentional subjectivity and responsibility, find a haven here.(26) This is Melanie Klein, another major player in my field of alternatives, read against the grain, particularly (though not only) against the grain of her readers, who fetishize the object rather than the relationship, fetishize the mother rather than the human child as assigned and sign-making.
In the grip of his narrative, Freud is foiled again and again by his most valuable player, the ferocious, two-fisted, red-blooded Phallus. Lacan could not exit the game, for he had not quit the application - based on that originary underived error of cognizance, of sexual difference.
The lost object still focusses us, but strategic alternatives put trace-quotes around lost, freshly each time, or some times. Where the field of agency is considered, the stricture of responsibility to the trace of the other is called Reparation to the Primary (or lost?) object. We cannot all be men, but we have all had a primary object which we could not but recognize as our only chance of a signifier, in sexual difference, plus as well as minus.
Institutional psychoanalysis establishes the originary error of the boy as formula. It becomes a fetish for the originary fetish, a rationalized substitute that will keep that narrative dominant.
Gramsci (1971) remarked that we are all intellectuals, small i: the head is a part of the body (9). Some of us cannot and some of us do not want to be (the line is blurred) institutional intellectuals. In the same way some of us cannot (the line is blurred) and some of us do not want to be mothers, but insofar as the primary object is only permitted to be narrativized as something like a breast, we are all mothers' children. As such, we re-occupy the place of the agent in analysis, even as for tracking the subject we turn, again and again, to the science-fiction of the unconscious, held by the analyst as the institutional Mother or Father. Entry into the other side of sexual difference by masquerade is another aspect of agency. In the text of the subject, masquerade is indistinguishable from its impossible antonym. I cannot imagine a world without psychoanalysis, at least as an item on the roll of techniques for reading narrative as ethical instantiation. Yet how much I have to assume Europe in order to understand the brilliance of that exposition! But yet again, if we are going to assume Europe, we must remember that, in the broader global context nothing can be gained from analytical philosophy in the area of ethics because it assumes the mental theatre of the subject as given.
Because of this general character of psychoanalysis, there will be attempts to use the unconscious as another name for ideology (Althusser), as repository of the narrative of reference (Jameson), as an analogue for the flow of capital (the early Lyotard), as model for the value-form (Goux).(27) I, too, must put in my two bits. I began by suggesting that Imperialism was cricket and Capitalism baseball. Psychoanalysis in its institutional practice, in its baseball mode, must incorporate the marxian critique of capital and thus secure its own understanding of its game with more than just the sexual-difference application. (The mixing of the taxonomy [worse yet, the nosology] of psychoanalysis in an amateur way to the vaguest possible conception of the revolutionary agent seems to me to be an act of folly.) One might even add a word here about radical metropolitan multicultural psychotherapy. As follows:
In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon speaks of the psychological effect of "brainwashing" on cricketers and future aspirants to baseball, well-placed colonial subjects and contemporary underclass economic migrants.(28) The first group - male. Algerian "intellectuals" in the Franco-Maghreb mind-set (epistemically enabled/violated by psych-ing out the culture of imperialism) - fall into the see-saw (aporia) of enablement/ violation: "The impossibility of explaining and defending any given position. Thought unfolds itself [se deroule] by antithetic couplings. Everything that is affirmed can, at the same instant, be denied with the same force." For the non-intellectuals," the future aspirants to the baseball club, the hordes of migrants who will crowd the low-income housing projects of French towns in the decades following Independence, Fanon has this comment: "Here the disorders met with are not serious. It is the painful, suffering body that calls for rest and calm [apaisement]."
This is the origin of the gap between post-coloniality (via pre-Independence nationalisms) and (post-Independence) migrancy that many of us are busy foreclosing these days. In this gap, political mobilization for "fundamentalisms," the undoing of decolonization, festers and blooms.
What lesson does this tough group (all male, of course) with non-serious disorders lay in reserve for the history of the present? Let us consider the nature of the brainwashing:
a) You must declare that you do not belong to the FLN. You must shout this out in groups. You must repeat it for hours on end. b) After that, you must recognize that you were once in the FLN and that you have come to realize that it was a bad thing. Thus, down with the FLN. After this stage, we come to another: the future of Algeria is French; it can be nothing other than French. Without France, Algeria will go back to the Middle Ages. Finally, you are French. Long live France.
In the spirit, always, of French cricket, I offer a code phrase - "reaction-formation" - small r, small f. Here is a dictionary entry:
Psychological attitude or habitus diametrically opposed to a repressed wish, and constituted as a reaction against it . . . . In economic terms, reaction-formation is the countercathexis of a conscious element; equal in strength to the unconscious cathexis, it works in the contrary direction. (Laplanche and Pontalis 1973, 376)
Eurocentric economic migration cannot live with the recognition that it offers proof of the enemy's brainwashing, that it agrees with the enemy. When in migrancy, the compromise of the exodus, the deep-seated want and need "to be French," to avoid the Middle Ages at home, cruelly denied by the Gaul (the racist self-description [gaulois] of the "real" French), formulates itself as a longing for the lost dynamic cultural base and an ambiguous and violent reaction to the metropolis, the gravity of the disorder is visible at last. Then the rules must be infiltrated, and the interventionist analyst must compute a multicultural psychoanalysis. Here that incorporated Marxist analysis-another universal scenario - will come, one hopes, to her aid. Psychoanalysis must begin to work the left field, not only empathize "cultural difference." For the demand for cultural difference and the foreclosure of post-coloniality that is permitted to the typical well-placed migrant intellectual is a different hybridity, from above. What we need here is the "setting-to-work" of an ethico-political metapsychology, learning responsibility, but also savvy of global systems. The ressentiment of the typical post-colonial elite in the "mother-country" does not help much here either. I know whereof I speak, for I am a member of both groups. I search for the a-typical women, therefore, each with her own situational strategies - a Mahasweta Devi, an Assia Djebar, a Doris Lessing, a Melanie Klein. Cut then to Assia Djebar again.
The two groups Fanon discusses are male. (Since females are the exception in these cases, they are always conscientiously mentioned as such by Fanon). Here are two moments from Djebar's novella Women of Algiers in Their Apartments, which will figure the differences foreclosed by theories of hybridity.
If in her essay "Forbidden Gaze," Djebar longs for the impossible singular cathexis that will restore the cut-off lost history, in her novella she figures forth its necessary impossibility. The single spectator is a water-carrier in a women's public bath, daughter of a rural Algerian soldier of the Foreign Legion, devastated by the cruel usual marriage, flight, prostitution, and the backbreaking work for women of a lower class. Attempting to describe her from the "inside" as she is carried off in the ambulance after an accident at the baths, Djebar (1992) produces a figured "example" of severed sound in her identity-delirium (37-43). This sound is of course necessarily cut off when the water-carrier is "treated," by the only Algerian woman surgeon in the city. This is how the moment is staged: "|I am - who am I? - I am the excluded one . . . ' In front of Fatma's prostrate body the surgeon is concentrated in action [se concerne en pleine action] (43)." Here is Fanon's intellectual and non-intellectual in post-colonial womanspace. The one has no contact with the interiority of the other; it is only the body that longs for help. But the a-typical author attempts to cathect the singular mental theater of that beaten body, the only possible hope against the ravages of mobilizing political cannon fodder.
By contrast now, at the end of the story, let us look at the pied-noir white woman, with her own (sympathetically given) "psychological problems," deciding to forfeit her return-ticket (after a projected short visit) to France, and to stay on in Algiers.(29)
The plane Anne was supposed to take at dawn the next day was delayed for over an hour .... The two women waited among a group of migrant workers who had just spent their one month's paid vacation in their mountain village. Two or three of them, their faces tanned and more serene, were accompanied by their wives in long peasant dresses, a few with babies in their arms and their foreheads tattooed in minute detail. The loveliest one - Anne heard this from Sarah who exchanged a few basic words with her - had only that morning abandoned her veil. Young, her eyes blackened with kohl but her whole face sharp with hope, she maintained a stiff posture of expectation until the moment of boarding. "I'm not leaving!" Anne suddenly cried out. She stared intensely at the young woman traveler, smiled at her (that way the unknown woman would carry with her this sign of gratitude, as the others would take along their baskets and their pottery, all the way to the shantytown north of Paris that was waiting for them). (Fanon 1968, 51)
We will meet this woman next with her baby, in conversation with Daniel Sibony. And "the sharp hope" is the colonizer's brainwashing, long live France! By pretending that the migrant has no history, by disavowing that in migrancy the nightmare of the civilizing mission of imperialism becomes a dream only to become a nightmare again, we become part of the problem. And the question remains, what is the white woman's gratitude to the migrant? The French word is reconnaissance, gratitude to be sure, but also recognition, acknowledgment. What relay is passing on here, what exchange of places, woman to woman, colonizer to colonized? Is this what passes between Lynda/Martha using unorthodox healing procedures and the credulous clientele of Tantrism (see note 71)? A simple ethno-cultural agenda will solve nothing.
Should we remember Freud's analysis (1914) of "fausse reconnaissance" and analogize with "group psychology?" (201-207).
Is this glance a sign of "you make visible what I have been"? I am back to my opening argument. Is that what we provide for you? But remember, we belong to the team that cannot imagine a world without psychoanalysis. And the reconnaissance is fausse.(30)
(1.) A fuller version of this essay, entitled "Psychoanalysis in Left Field, and Fieldworking," will appear in Sonu Shamdasani and Michael Munchow, eds., Speculations After Freud (London: Routledge, 1994). (2.) I refer to Jacques Derrida's discussion of iterability in "Signature Event Context," in Gerald Graff, ed., Limited Inc. (Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1988, 2nd ed.): 17-19. (3.) The work of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York with older immigrant groups in the New York metropolitan area bears comparison with the Birmingham School, for example. (4.) Gramsci, 1971, 21. The framing passage is from my Preface to Mahasweta Devi, Imaginary Maps (New York: Routledge, 1994). 1 apologize for a self-citation, but since the Gramscian passage alone may be read wrongly as a negative remark about Afro-Americans, I find it necessary to quote my comment together with the passage. (5.) For setting-into-work," see Derrida, 1983, 19. ("Mise-en-oeuvre," is translated enactment" in the published version). "The decision of thought" - Derrida continues - "cannot be an intra-institutional event, an academic moment." The idea of the "setting-into-work-of-truth" in art is to be found in Heidegger's "The Origin of the Work of Art" and elsewhere. Derrida's (1989) meticulously-detailed critique of the itinerary of "the setting-into-work-of-truth" can be drawn from his Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question. It should be contrasted to Gianni Vattimo's (1991) superficial and literalist account of this notion so that Derrida's elaboration of responsibility to the outside is not mistaken for a version of the particular Heideggerian enterprise. (6.) The longer version (see note one) develops an analogy between cricket as colonialism and baseball as capitalism. Old colonies psych out cricket; new, global subjects play ball. (7.) Kakar, 1982, 151-90. This leads us into postmodern appropriations of the premodern. It is beyond the scope of this essay to ponder the problem that it is modernity that is not ceded without modernization," entailing a(n economic) re-structuring, part of the furniture of which can be the constitution of the appropriate analysand. (8.) The feminist impulse is certainly present in Gananath Obeyesekere's work. Professor Obeyesekere, long domiciled in the United States and a professional anthropologist, is from the so-called Indian subcontinent, of Sri Lankan origin. Most interesting from this point of view is Medusas Hair: An Essay On Personal Symbols and Religious Experience. (9.) Kumkum Sangari, "Figures for the Unconscious,"' Journal of Arts and Ideas 20-21 (1991): 67-84. The two novels are R. C. Dutt, Pratap Singh, the Last of the Rajputs: A Tale of Rajput Courage and Chivalry (Allahabad: Kitabistan, 1943) and Arun Joshi, The Strange Case of Billy Biswas (New York: Asia Pub. House, 1971). 1 am grateful to Susie Tharu for bringing this piece to my attention. (10.) "[T]he growth of militant Islamic fundamentalism in areas adjacent to India underlines the possibility that New Delhi and Washington will share common security concerns." India & America after the Cold War: Report of the Carnegie Endowment Study Group on U.S.-Indian Relations in a Changing International Environment (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1993), "Summary," n.p. My thanks to V. Siddharth for making this available to me. (11.) Ernesto Cardenal, 1975. "Prayer for Marilyn Monroe." In Marilyn Monroe and Other Poems. Translated by Robert Pring-Mill. London: Search Press. I am referring to the interpretation of the poem by the film of the same name produced by ICEAC. (12.) I use this idiomatic conjunctive expression from Marx's Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach whenever I want to indicate the setting-to-work of interpretation. Karl Marx. 1949. "Theses on Feuerbach." In Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Selected Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House. Vol. 2, 367. (13.) Please forgive the running commentary. It reflects nothing more than the irascibility of a middle-aged academic, daily faced with tendentious misreadings dependent upon quick readings unable or unwilling to familiarize themselves with a dauntingly precise and admittedly somewhat cryptic language, but not therefore unable or unwilling to pose as sufficiently informed accusations. (14.) For this earlier version, see Derrida, 1973. Speech and Phenomena: And Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs. Translated by David B. Allison. Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 146. (15.) These transgressions are bound to happen because we are in "history." They are not only marks of failure, but signposts for readers to go to work, to re-narrativize, to re-channel. That is deconstruction, if there is any. Incidentally, Jacqueline Rose's analysis of Freud's "failure" with Dora is precisely such a call to feminists to set Freud to work, thus to deconstruct him affirmatively. Jacqueline Rose, 1986. "Dora-Fragment of An Analysis." In Sexuality in the Field of Vision. London: Verso, 34, 47, and passim. (16.) This is not an argument for a similarity between the British and the Jews. (The two are not, of course, mutually exclusive.) It is an analogy between the enduring spirit of Imperialism of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, carried forward by the Jews' contact with the culture of that imperialism through Moses' governorship, and the spirit of the British Empire. As we will see in the case of Fanon, it is an argument for cricketers. (17.) This section owes much to class discussion. I thank the members of my graduate and undergraduate seminars, on "Feminist Psychoanalysis" and "Literature and Feminist Psychoanalysis" respectively, at Columbia University in the Spring of 1993. (18.) Notice, for example, the tacit weighing with signification of the word "tradition" in the following passage about the universally acclaimed first Algerian anti-imperialist hero: "Deriving prestige from belonging to a family with a religious position connected with the Qadiri order, (|Abd al-Qadir [1808-83]) became the point around which local forces could gather . . . . The symbols of his resistance to the French were traditional ones-his war was a jihad, he justified his authority by the choice of the |ulama and respect for the shari's - but there were modern aspects of his organization of government." Albert Hourani, 1991. A History of the Arab Peoples. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 270, emphasis mine. For the restoration of the North African history of the region, see Mohammed Arkoun, 1990. Actualite d'une culture mediterraneenne. Tampere: TAPRI. (19.) Laura Mulvey, 1989. "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema." In Visual and Other Pleasures. London: Macmillan, 14. 1 believe it is a sense of this precariousness that makes Mulvey date the piece in a footnote to the title, 'trace" it within the fast-moving narrative of feminist inter-vention in the metropolis, in the anthology publication: "Written in 1973 and published in 1975 in Screen." (20.) For the moment, it must suffice to quote her footnote in an endnote: "Veiled women are, in the first place, women who are free to circulate, therefore more advantaged than the women who are completely secluded, the latter usually being the wives of the most wealthy .... In the town where I was born, in the thirties, the women used to go to the baths veiled, but they would go at night. The veiled woman who circulated during the day in the city streets is, therefore, a woman in the first stage of so-called progressive behavior. Since, furthermore, the veil signifies oppression of the body, I have known young women who, when they reached adolescence, refused the principle of having to be veiled when circulating. The result was that they had to remain cloistered behind windows and bars, and so see the exterior world only from afar . . . . A half measure among the men of the new middle class: as much as possible, they let their women circulate in individual cars (which the women themselves drive), thus to shelter the body (steel playing the role of the ancestral fabric) and to circulate in a way that 'exposes' them as little as possible." Djebar, 1992, 153, note 2. For a detailed analysis of unveiling that resonates with feminist psychoanalysis, the text of the essay must be read carefully. (21.) The passage begins with eyes drawn into the sky and then focuses on eyes as signs of being cut-off from the present. Is anything to be gained by remembering Freud's (1919) recommendation that no "opponent of the psycho-analytic point of view [should] select this particular story of the Sandman with which to support his argument that anxiety about the eyes has nothing to do with the castration complex" (230) when we are trying precisely to suggest that the narrative of castration may be the only explanatory narrative permitted by dominant gendering for the instantiation of being cut-off? (22.) Freud (1919) puts it by way of a more conservative theory of fiction: ". . . it [Fiktion] contains the whole of the latter [experience - Erlebnis] and something more besides, something that cannot come forth under the conditions of experience [unter den Bedingungen des Erlebnis nicht vorkommt]" (249, translation modified). In other words, fiction makes visible the restrictions of "experience." (23.) "As regards Jones, who no doubt wasn't so |hard'-headed about this as he said, why, in your opinion, does he compare, in 1926, the dangers of telepathy for psychoanalysis to the |wolves' who |would not be far from the sheepfold'?" Derrida, 1988. "Telepathy." Oxford Literary Review. 10:1-2. (24.) The late essay "Femininity" is an example of such complications. It is instructive to read Freud's (1920) description of the "scientific" securing of analytic procedural exigencies in the development of the libido theory in "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" (50-51). (25.) Derrida (1982) offers differance as a "translation" of this Hegelian description of "[t]he limit or moment of the present (der Gegen-wart), the absolute 'this' of time, or the now" (13-14). (26.) For the connection between the intentional subject and responsibility, see Derrida, 1993. "Mochlos: or the Conflict of the Faculties" In Logomachia: The Conflict of the Faculties. Translated by Richard Rand and Amy Wygant. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 11. (27.) Louis Althusser, 1971. "Freud and Lacan." In Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. Translated by Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review Press, 189-219; Frederic Jameson, 1981. The Political Unconscious: Narrative As A Socially Symbolic Act. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press; Jean-Francois Lyotard, 1993. Libidinal Economy. Translated by Iain Hamilton Grant. London: Athlone Press; and Jean-Joseph Goux, 1990, Symbolic Economies: After Marx and Freud. Translated by Jennifer Curtis Gage. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. (28.) Frantz Fanon, 1968, 285-89. All the quoted passages are from this section. For an explanation of cricket and baseball, see note 6. (29.) Fanon (1968) has the account of a psychologically afflicted Frenchwoman as well (275-77). (30.) Conclusion. Here, then, is my bid for a title. Situational or strategic alternatives on the one side, and the field-work of the left field on the other. The institution as a necessary disadvantage, a clamp on responsibility that we cannot do without, rather than a claim to science. I had used the figure of polytheism at the Conference to describe the multitudinous situational strategies of what I have called French cricket in the longer printed version, and situational or strategic alternatives here. Given the mobilization of Hinduism (as "orthodoxized" in dystopic nationalism as Islam was "arabized" in its utopian nationalist moment) in India today, - festering and blooming in the gap (between, for example, Freud's Jews returned to Sinai and the Mosaic few) that Fanon and other nationalist leaders did not work at "seriously" - I have deleted that figure.
Derrida, Jacques. 1982. "Differance." Margins of Philosophy. Translated by Alan Bass. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. _____. 1983. "The Principle of Reason: the University in the Eyes of its Pupils." Diacritics, (Fall). _____. 1987. "Le Facteur de la Verite." The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. Translated by Alan Bass. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. _____. 1988. "Signature Event Context." Limited Inc. Edited by Gerald Graff. Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 2nd ed. _____. 1989. Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question. Translated by Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. Djebar, Assia. 1992. "Forbidden Gaze, Severed Sound." In Women of Algiers in Their Apartments. Translated by Marjolijn de Jager. Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press. _____. 1992. "Women of Algiers." In Women of Algiers in Their Apartments. Translated by Marjolijn de Jager. Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press. Fanon, Frantz. 1968. The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Constance Farrington. New York: Grove Press. Freud, Sigmund. 1914. "Fausse Reconnaissance (Deja Raconte) in Psychoanalytic Treatment." S.E. 13. _____. 1914. "On Narcissism." S.E. 14. _____. 1919. "The Uncanny." S.E. 17. _____. 1920. "Beyond the Pleasure Principle." S.E. 18. _____. 1925. "An Autobiographical Study." S.E. 20. _____. 1927. "Fetishism." S.E. 21. _____. 1933. New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. S.E. 22. _____. 1939. Moses and Monotheism. S.E. 23. Foucault, Michel. 1983. "On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress." In Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Edited by Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2nd ed. Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. "The Intellectuals." In Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Translated by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. New York: International Publishers. Habermas, Jurgen. 1987. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Translated by Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge: MIT Press. Heidegger, Martin. 1975. "The Origin of the Work of Art." In Poetry, Language, Thought. Translated by Albert Hofstadter. New York: Harper Colophon, 15-87. Jones, Maldwyn Allen. 1992. American Immigration. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2nd ed. Kakar, Sudhir. 1982. Shamans, Mystics and Doctors: A Psychological Inquiry Into India and Its Healing Traditions. Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press. Kant, Immanuel. 1951. Critique of Judgment. Translated by J. H. Bernard. New York: Hafner Press. Khatibi, Abdelkebir. 1990. "Frontieres." In "Entre psychanalyse et Islam." Cahiers intersignes, 1 (Spring), 13-22. Klein, Melanie. 1984. "Love, Guilt, and Reparation." In Works. New York: Free Press, vol. 1. Laplanche, J. and Pontalis, J. B. 1973. The Language of Psychoanalysis. Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. New York: Norton. Lessing, Doris. 1970. The Four-Gated City. New York: Bantam Books. Medejel, Martine. 1990. "L'exile d'un prenom etranger." Intersignes. Cahiers intersignes, 1 (Spring), 13-22. Mitra, Sadhna. 1970. "Adaptation of Kundu's Neurotic Personality Inventory in Bengali." Indian Journal of Psychology, 45:4, 369-71. Obeyesekere, Gananath. 1981. Medusa's Hair: An Essay On Personal Symbols and Religious Experience. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. Sibony, Daniel. 1990. "Effets d'entre-deux-langues et exils d'origine." Intersignes. Cahiers intersignes, 1 (Spring), 13-22. Vattimo, Gianni. 1991. The End of Modernity: Nihilism and Hermeneutics in Postmodern Culture. Translated by Jon R. Snyder. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||issue title: 'Psychoanalysis in Left Field'|
|Author:||Spivak, Gayatri Chavravorty|
|Article Type:||Cover Story|
|Date:||Jun 22, 1994|
|Previous Article:||Homoeroticism and the Father God: an unthought in Freud's 'Moses and Monotheism.'|
|Next Article:||The Hitlerian superego - an introduction.|