Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Psychoanalyst's Goal?

Lacan's formula of the four discourses thus enables us to deploy the two faces of modernity (total administration and capitalist-individualist dynamics) as two ways to undermine the master's discourse: doubt about the efficiency of the master-figure (what Eric Santner called the "crisis of investiture") can be supplemented by the direct rule of the experts legitimized by their knowledge, or the excess of doubt, of permanent questioning, can be directly integrated into social reproduction. Finally, the analyst's discourse stands for the emergence of revolution-ary-emancipatory subjectivity that resolves the split of university and hysteria. In it, the revolutionary agent - a - addresses the subject from the position of knowledge that occupies the place of truth (i.e., which intervenes at the "symptomal torsion" of the subject's constellation), and the goal is to isolate, get rid of, the master signifier that structured the subject's (ideologico-political) unconscious.

Or does it? Jacques-Alain Miller has recently proposed that today the master's discourse is no longer the "obverse" of the analyst's discourse. [1] Today, on the contrary, our "civilization" itself-its hegemonic symbolic matrix, as it were-fits the formula of the analyst's discourse. The agent of the social link is today a, surplus enjoyment, the superego injunction to enjoy that permeates our discourse; this injunction addresses $ (the divided subject) who is put to work in order to live up to this injunction. The truth of this social link is S2, scientific-expert knowledge in its different guises, and the goal is to generate S1, the self-mastery of the subject, that is, to enable the subject to cope with the stress of the call to enjoyment (through self-help manuals, etc.). Provocative as this notion is, it raises a series of questions. If it is true, in what, then, resides the difference between the discursive functioning of civilization as such and the psychoanalytic social link? Miller resorts here to a suspicious solution: in our civilization, the four terms are kept apart, isolated; each operates on its own, while only in psychoanalysis are they brought together into a coherent link: "in civilization, each of the four terms remains disjoined... it is only in psychoanalysis, in pure psychoanalysis, that these elements are arranged into a discourse."
[1] Miller, Jacques-Alain, "La passe: Conférence de Jacques-Alain Miller." paper presented at the fourth Congrès de l'AMP, Comandatuba - Bahia, Brazil, August 9-12, 2004.
Slavoj Zizek, "Jacques Lacan's Four Discourses"

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