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Resistances of Psychoanalysis. (Book Reviews).

Jacques Derrida. Resistances of Psychoanalysis. Trans. Peggy Kamuf and Michael Nass. Stanford University Press. 1998. 200 pages. Cloth $42.00. Paper $15.95.

Resistances of Psychoanalysis is a collection of three lectures delivered by Derrida, putting together re-readings of Freud, Lacan and Foucault. The term rereading" is important as Derrida engages not only in reading some major texts by the three "masters" but also in rereading his own prior engagement with them. This dialogue is based from the outset on their absence. With Lacan and Foucault, the dialogue takes multiple forms: Derrida provides details for some anecdotal interaction between them, either in the form of an exchange or as a direct debate, as in the record of a meeting between Lacan and Derrida in Baltimore.

The three essays have something in common: they are all somewhat easier to follow, given the structure of presence -- Derrida is here 'speaking' to such authors, and given this illusion of presence, there is the illusion that one might ask questions, and thus be more likely to address the author directly. Second, Derrida's style is sometimes more prone to direct assertions of his love relationship with Lacan -- a startling relationship perhaps but one that should be taken rather in the sense of the relationship between thinkers posited in The Post Card.

The first essay accurately replicates the name of the book in suggesting that the main concept is to reread psychoanalysis and its masters. The word "resistance" becomes a locus of doubleness, defined as a moment of war-like interaction, reminiscent of a historical discourse in France. This is also one of the moments when Derrida acknowledges the source of his concepts in the world outside his text. The concept or anti-concept of resistance is based on the logic of excess, of that which denies limits, in a similar way to the "navel of the dream", a phrase Derrida lifts from Freudian discourse and appropriates for his list of undecidables. In fact, the whole collection stands under the shadow of Freud, in the need to find him in the gaps of other discourses, directly mentioned or not, especially when he is present but not named, as Derrida will find to be the case in the analysis of Foucault. Derrida discovers a process of resistance in psychoanalysis as invented and mythologized by Freud, in an endless patter n based on excess, which resists interpretation: patients (and in the cases he looks at, female patients) resist analysis, texts resist sense, dreams resist interpretation, secrets resist disclosure.

The issue of the feminine used as a source of analysis comes up in the proposition of a new term in the series of undecidables. Freud defined the unanalyzable as the "navel of a dream." Derrida takes up the moment of indecision, of that which resists meaning and interpretation, and transforms it into a liminal space. The navel is understood as a knot, which unlike Lacan, does not concentrate on the gap, although it presupposes it, but on the knot as that which ties together. Thus, analysis is seen as the process of weaving involved in tying the knot of threads. A further succinct analysis of Studies of Hysteria identifies women as resisting analysis, and forcing the analyst to devise "counter-resistances, other antagonistic forces." In other words, psychoanalysis is seen as a practice of finding counter-resistances; and from here, Derrida's next step is to equal the two: "If there is not one resistance, there is no la psychanalyse." Derrida goes on to distinguish between various types of resistances and count er-resistances, always tracing Freud's own weaving, and concluding with a permanent deferral of analysis, which "drives deconstruction to a hyperbolicism of analysis that takes sometimes, in certain people's eyes, the form of a hyperdiabolicism. In this sense, deconstruction is also the interminable dream of analysis."

The second lecture is a rereading of Lacan, trying to infer, "what Lacan would have said", that is tease out the implications of the Lacanian theory that were not necessarily acknowledged. This chapter of the book is striking in its interlocutory structure: Derrida follows the written dialogue between Lacan and himself, when Lacan quotes him, as in "what I call literally the instance of the letter prior to any grammatology." Derrida reads Lacan's texts under the sign of the chiasmus, as a criss-cross between philosophy and psychoanalysis, looking also for the exchange between the texts. Thus, Derrida follows some instances in which Lacan changed his own discourse according to the distinction between speech and writing, observing that "this kind of substitution of writing for speech around 1970 deserves its own history and is not limited to Lacan."

The third lecture tries to identify the figure of Freud in Foucault' s work, starting with his influence on the possibility of even writing a discourse of madness in the first place. Although Foucault writes of the history of madness without referring directly to Freud, Derrida argues that his discourse is predetermined by the language provided by Freud. Such language establishes the difference between the patient's and the doctor's discourse and between madness and the authority which claims reason as a means of empowering itself. In the formulation of the language of psychoanalysis, Derrida claims that The History of Madness is set within the limits of psychoanalysis, where the boundaries between ages and concepts are blurred. Derrida contemporizes this issue in a rare moment of elucidation. He argues that the distinctions between concepts such as 'madness, reason, history and age" are similar to viruses: "it would be as if a virus were introduced into the matrix of language, the way such things are today i ntroduced into computer software." The difference between the two terms of comparison is that in the case of language there is no means to remedy the fact, which Derrida takes as a positive aspect of the ambiguity of discourse.

The lecture on Foucault concludes with an analysis of The History of Sexuality, in which Derrida defines deconstruction as the process of looking back for traces: "The point is to analyze not simply behaviours, ideas, ideologies but, above all, the problematizations in which a thought of being intersects 'practices' and 'practices of the self, a 'genealogy of the self through which these problematizations are formed."

Derrida proposes an endless "problematization of its own problematization", playing with the norms of discourse, and ultimately, teasing the limits of reading, where deconstruction is defined as "the experience of the impossible." On the whole, Derrida' s new collection is characterized by the concept of repetition seen in its relationship with resistance. Derrida proves that the common points between deconstruction and psychoanalysis have to do with "the repetition compulsion," which means that the masters' discourse is always waiting for numerous re-readings.
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Author:Cherciu, Lucia
Publication:Studies in the Humanities
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2000
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