Jamieson Webster: Attack of the Difficult Ecrits – Class I – Variations on the Standard Treatment

A poetic rendition by Cecilia Wu

If we follow Jamieson’s lead and focus on the writing itself, considering the fact that Lacan’s writings are unsweetened, condensed transcripts of his speech acts, it’s hard to dismiss his mode of attack as a pain in the ass, or as unruly hunks of raw hide to be adorned with the transferential ornaments of infantile hate. Lacan himself counsels against merely reproducing the crossfire of attack and counterattack, serially recapitulating a civil war of transference that exiles the enemy while clinging to the hope that it will all come out in the wash. The clash of minor differences runs through an opinionator equalizer akin to the trifling ‘intermediary discourse’ Lacan wishes to silence, the chatter that enforces homeostasis as a fog of war in which bears become bullish and bulls become bearish in a pit of indistinction.  The ‘intermediary discourse’ sits like a cap on a man hole trapping the collective steam of aggravation over petty theft. No singular man can arise from this camouflaged safety of ego syntonic leveling. Intermediary discourse forms a false bridge between a ‘true speech’ which addresses subjects, and a ‘true discourse’ which addresses objects. As if hugging a tree in the now time of embodied sentiment would give you instant access to Das Ding! Lacan refers to this false fix as the ‘bad faith’ that keeps the ego at the helm of the sinking ship. He warns:

“If the analyst is thus subjected to the ideal condition that the mirages of his narcissism must have become transparent to him, it is in order that he be permeable to the other’s authentic speech; we must now try to understand how he can recognize the latter through the other’s discourse (Ecrits, 292).”

By interlacing the risk of care with the settlement of cure, Lacan channels Heideggarian care as that which ‘temporalizes the temporal.’ Time is not the brutality of the poker faced clock, which is an artifice like any other surrogate head. Time is untimely. Our place in it is unheimlich. We have a say in it. We are folded into the unfolding of this saying. The mouth may have run away from the spoon that fed it, but it is still irremediably embedded in discourse. Lacan insists that it is foolish to attempt to isolate the resistance as if it were a physical obstruction outside of discourse, a boulder of defensive structure, the target of the search and destroy mission of a conscientious analyst.

Jamieson reminds us that the direction of the cure points beyond the standard treatment by introducing a new state that is not merely an interruption of a former state. Yet in spite of new directions the ‘real man’ of psychoanalysis insists on making it a round trip, returning to rejoin the resistance movement. Unwilling to heed the speech of the analysand, he perpetuates what Evan calls a ‘paranoid confrontation apparatus,’ characterized by a vicious cycle of confronting resistance, creating further resistance, and confronting the newly minted resistance as if it were a buried treasure. Yes, Evan, he is indeed the ‘dark night of psychoanalytic decline.’

Meanwhile the real man’s assistant, the superegoic task master, tries to terrorize us into complicity: Don’t forget to renew your fight club membership!  Thankfully, Evan is never shy about taking on the contempo casuals superego who organizes your closet while you sleep. He pushes up against The Source of the machismo.

Severing the coattails of this veritable musketeer, beyond the murmur of middling compromise, Lacan seems to hold out hope that the buttocks might penultimately discover a way to communicate directly with the empty center of the ass hole, through the miraculous ‘interpolation’ of a ‘revelatory interpretation’. Yet Lacan is less concerned with unveiling the purity of discovered truth than he is with the weave and haptics of the veil itself. Lacan’s sardonic employment of the term revelation does not afford the positive fruit of the tree of knowledge, bypassing god by assuming the permission to juice it without mercy. Rather than the furnishing of a blossoming, it is the migratory vanishing point in the midst of an eden. An unfixed subjective position from which to witness the peep show of an unconscious that opens and closes of its own accord, like a clam seeking a lost faux pearl. Lacan’s revelatory yield is excretory and ejective. He insists upon an ethics of ignorance as the scaffolding of a truth half said:

The positive fruit of the revelation of ignorance is non-knowledge, which is not a negation of knowledge, but rather its most elaborate form. The candidate’s training cannot be completed without some action on the part of the master or masters who train him in this nonknowledge— failing which he will never be anything more than a robotic analyst (Ecrits, 297).”

Nestled in the paradoxically expansive bower of ‘elaborate non-knowledge,’ mushrooming forth from the point blank of an attack, the fadeout of abjection gives way to the unfolding of a structure that is as subjectively recalcitrant as it is extraterritorially disseminated. The symptom, as a falling together of the tenses, past present and future, serves as both the cryptogram and herald of the ongoing attack of the attack. As both recording device and data stream, tablet and inscription, it is both the constituted and constituting material of the analysis, mixing fossil fuel with humectant flesh, and taunting us with the secrecy of its code. We have had enough of the costly tortures of a lifetime of perpetually spasmodic pinball machine innards. We will send love letters via chain mail before we call in the national guard to serve as both fall guy and prime witness for our resistance formations. Instead of dying for the sake of life, and thereby fashioning the ready-to-die Freudian ego we sake for the stake itself, having shirked the silent night of intermediary discourse.

Giving ourselves permission to relish the sustain, acrobatically spanning the interval between post-revelatory attack and pre-apocalyptic decay, we might defer programmed cell death, graced with temporary immunity in the seance of an undead session. This lapse in morbid reason hesitates to interlock itself in a braid of means and ends, interlaced in the service of conspiracy and its shadow, fait accompli. Lacan instead emphasizes a ‘purity of means and ends’ that would reflect the desire of the analyst whose coordinates of truth can only be known through a rigorous personal analysis. Anonymity is not an option.

This is the time of a writing that takes on the force of an attack, measuring the strain from the gaping mouth to the supine page, stretching from the astonishment of inspiration to the doom of expiration. It is a time that is interminably self terminating. It passes Freudian bedrock, collects 200 dollars, and makes off with the Pennsylvania railroad. Jamieson reminded us of the precise historical interval during which Lacan composed the difficult Ecrits in question, Variations of the Standard Treatment (1953) and The Situation of Psychoanalysis (1956). In 1954, Lacan split off from his mother institute in an acronymic slide from the SPP to the SFP, inadvertently exhibiting the absolute difference of a single letter. He had yet to be excommunicated from the IPA which finally sent him to the imaginary guillotine in 1963. In abiding with the letter F, perhaps Lacan remained faithful to Freud the Father, refusing to allow Psychoanalysis to be hollowed out and stuffed with the quality controlled patented filler of ego psychologists. Notably, post excommunication Lacan ceased to inscribe his speech in the condensed form of a difficult writing. He abruptly transitioned from compulsory hypergraphia to default hypographia. Or perhaps his hypographia wasn’t so much a lackluster default as it was a lack ridden fiercely contingent desire for a non-writing, marking a shift in ethics from the necessary immortality of a letter that ‘doesn’t stop writing itself’ to the unbidden contingency of a writing that unabashedly ‘stops not writing.’ This harks back to Gertrude Stein’s distinction between the autocorrected sterilized mirage of high fidelity repetition, and the libidinally charged aberrations of insistence. This marks the trajectory from the necessity of repetition compulsion to the contingency of an event to come. The shape of a lone stone separates me from you.

How can we trace this singular contour from the position of the analyst, as if it were the sweat halo of a lovestruck dancer? Jamieson approaches the fruit of this non knowledge when, in the guilty wake of a positive transference, ‘double take’ falls out of her mouth. It is a partial extract from her patient’s dream of the song ‘Take Me Home.’ Do we ever get to the charm of the third time? A representative from Homunculi United cautions: Be careful what you wish for!

Loitering recklessly in the fitting room of a second hand store, we notice that this second seeing of the double take effects a surprising reorientation from the simulacrum of so called objectivity, pieced together like a seamless web of accumulated transference interpretations, to the discursive vanishing point of the speaking subject who can now encounter the chains of speech from the ‘subject point of interpretation.’ From there we catch a glimpse ‘feet on a ledge’ out of the corner of an eye feigning sleep. And yet the double take is again doubled, making it a quad. It recapitulates Jamieson’s personal analysis in which she dealt with her repulsion toward transference interpretation. She knew she could do something to get her analyst to tell her something in return. Jamieson kleptomaniacally double took the transference interpretation.

Going back for seconds, from Marx we recall, ‘first as comedy, then as farce.’ And from Badiou we recall: “Love what you will never believe twice,” an ethic of a truth, absolutely opposed to opinion, and to ethics in general, which is itself ‘nothing but a schema of opinion.’ So by contrast, Badiou’s maxim of opinion is: ‘Love only that which you have always believed’ (Ethics, 52). Following Marx and Badiou, we might dare to dream baroquely of an ethics of particularity, to supplant democratic individualism with the farce of a truth twice told.

Ultimately it is only by analyzing the signifying armor that we can prosthetically effect a new body. If we begin by targeting ‘character armor’ a la Reich, we might lose the signifying handlebars that let us work the symptom. The path of greatest resistance milks the he goat. The path of least resistance believes the milk comes directly from the grocer. And so we handle with care the handlebar from Jamieson’s dreamt ‘homestick’ to her students’ proclaimed ‘homesick’. From take me home to double take. From take me on to take on me. From a stone’s throw to a thrown stone. The letter stops dead in its tracks as the non-action of an event. Poet Fred Moten’s motif of fugitivity leaves us echoing this predicament of immanent free wheeling, “I ran from it, but I was still in it!”

To the extent that the text itself seems prone to fulfilling an autolytic, self dissolving destiny, are we justified in claiming to be the castrated victims of its merciless transference hate, left to pitifully renegotiate our forced inheritance of stillborn egos, clamoring for the most charitable slice of commiseration pie? Alternatively one could enlist the superego to take great pains to mitigate the chopping block of shared pain, such that confident shareholders, friending the trend, may rejoice in a softer, salutary side of Lacan. Are these the only options? A grid of dead ringer egos, a cauldron of unsustainably ravenous ids, or a heaven of immortally anesthetized superegos? Somehow none of these formulations escapes the blandly petulant purgatory of a wildlife conservatory, probably because they mistake the tree of knowledge for the tree of life. This willed mistake is a cover up job, an attempt to suture what Hegel refers to as the basic fault of man. Jamieson reminded us that we are rent, we aren’t going to catch up with ourselves anytime soon. We shouldn’t dare to mark the task complete. We’re destined to be seismically uncertain and tectonically groundless. So long as the unconscious is constituting and not constituted, we’re in for a wild ride. The letter’s destination was only ever a fault line in the San Fernando valley. For Lacan it is imperative that we break the spell of fascination with knowledge. Fascination is at the heart of fascism. It bundles up where it might be better off spelling out. Still, somehow the textile survives the attack to relish the sonic decay that ensues as a quasi democracy of partial ear lobe undertow and semicircular clamor.

Why did Lacan, who was as charismatic as he was controversial, write most fervently in the interval immediately preceding his excommunication from the IPA. Are we most prone to write on the verge of an excommunication? Post excommunication, are we incommunicado? In or out of communication, alienated or separated from the maws of the big Other, the writing does seem to continue of its own accord as a self fulfilling obstinacy, even if it only endures as the winged carry-on of carrion speech. In the meantime we loiter unabashedly between the lines in the no standing zone. Patricia reminded us that Freud inaugurated psychoanalysis by restoring dignity to the suffering of the hysteric, admitting the truth of the lie of her symptom, taking her complaint seriously, and exploring the modes by which it might be conjured by way of suggestion and constructed by way of fantasy. Are we somehow post hysteric now, having stopped writing? How else might a symptom express itself, beyond the wonder block of liftings and pressings, pitting ephemeral transparency against inveterate grey matter, in the wunderkammer where unrecognized substitutes of repressed ideas reconvene to hobnob? A block doubles as a cabinet, an obstruction smuggles in a curiosity.

Who is it for, this fancy feast lurking in a ramshackle tin can? Who reads and speaks this writing, this runaway stonehenge of a pornography to come? Jamieson needs to know, “Who does he think he is talking to in this way?!” What is the organ that receives a writing? In response we enlist Freud, who precociously surmises it is the technology of a telephone, though he seems to confuse microphone with loudspeaker. Perhaps he foresaw the cravat donning Lacan speaking the truth of the friendly phallic mic. Or perhaps he produced a sound so grand it fed back to him:

“To put it in a formula: he must turn his own unconscious like a receptive organ towards the transmitting unconscious of the patient. He must adjust himself to the patient as a telephone receiver is adjusted to the transmitting microphone. Just as the receiver converts back into sound waves the electric oscillations in the telephone line which were set up by sound waves, so the doctor’s unconscious is able, from the derivatives of the unconscious which are communicated to him, to reconstruct that unconscious, which has determined the patient’s free associations (Freud, Recommendations to Physicians Practising Psycho-Analysis, 1912).”

Evan has remarked that the cord of the traditional telephone bears analogical relation to the wireless cybernetics of free association. Perhaps Freud’s insight that persons tend to behave like things could be extended to consider the relation of the wireless to the wired. Might the ether of the unconscious tend to behave like the material of its symptom?

A difficult text might need you to want something from it. It might want something from you too. In deed more so than in speech, Lacan is notoriously difficult, in fact he prefers it that way. Jamieson, in the spirit of a properly surreal funeral, dutifully marked and remarked his last words: ‘I am obstinate, I am dying.’  And yet as he himself predicted, ten years after strutting his writing stuff, talking the walk that walks itself notwithstanding abandon or ado, suddenly the Ecrits became coffee table literature.

At the end of the long hard day, difficulty is gorgeous food, and alchemy is a prestidigitation that feeds. Be sure to approach the yoga studio of suspended attack and dilated difficulty on an empty stomach, and break yourself along the path of the contagion with the addictive care of a know how to do with time. The savoir faire of care timing itself in a space of play.

While we bemoaned the unpleasant side effects of transference interpretation, we couldn’t help but find ourselves in the midst of transference microbes of the most virulent sort. The emperor’s old clothes cling to him like saran wrap on a muggy day.

In the heat of the transference moment, I eagerly anticipate the forthcoming six volume annotated Ecrits, to include Jamieson and Patricia’s contributions. It promises to lay bare the circuitry of Lacan’s batshit crazy nervous system with bible worthy diligence. Word by flyaway word, letter by sticky letter. And yet oddly I am finding that annotation gives way to a flirtation with the periphery which sublets itself as a rent space to hallucination, effluvia, and creative tendrils fondling the new. If Lacan’s Ecrits ever has a bad effect on me it’s usually not worse than a bad massage, or a ceiling when i needed a floor.

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