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Lecture on Huxley contra Freud 4/1/13; ACLA Paper on Guattari

On April 1st of this year at 11:30 I will be giving a talk on my paper concerning Huxley and Freud. For those of you in the area, it’d be great to see you at Emory. For those of you outside of that area, I’ll try to see if we can get a recording of the event. Joe that could be something you can handle :). This lecture is a PSP luncheon meeting, and it finishes out my requirements for the PSP certificate (psychoanalytical studies).

Also, on April 8th at Toronto for the ACLA I will be giving a paper on Guattari and components of passage. I am already contemplating reflecting on Huxley or Proust for Guattari’s examples. Brave New World would have everything one would need to trace most of the transformations of the schizoanalytic fields Guattari envisions in Machinic Unconscious.

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Constant’s Seductive Education, or Adolphe’s Astonishment (with translations)

[Update: I have taken the liberty of translating, by my own limited and critically biased means, the French citations of Constant in this essay. I hope that this makes for a more enjoyable and comprehensible experience! :)].

Benjamin Constant’s Adolphe presents the reader with the guiding inspiration behind its genesis, which is that what is at stake here is a narrative that would feature only two main characters. In his preface to the third edition of the novel, Constant himself broaches this idea in relation to his attempt to thwart the counterfeit versions of his novel by writing that the work concerns “la possibilité de donner une sorte d’intérêt à un roman dont les personnages se réduisaient à deux, et dont la situation serait toujours la meme” [the possibility of giving a sort of interest to a novel that would be reduced to two characters and whose situation would always be the same] (32). If we take this claim seriously, it is a question of what emphasis is to be given to the notion of “sameness” in the situation of the novel. According to the third preface, what seems to be the “same” in the narrative is also coincidentally indicated by how often Constant himself is approached by his readers with testaments of how they identify with the narrator and titular character Adolphe: “ce qui me ferait croire au moins à un certain mérite de vérité, c’est que presque tous ceux de mes lecteurs que j’ai rencontrés m’ont parlé d’eux-mêmes comme ayant été dans la position de mon héros” [what made me believe at least in a certain merit of truth {for Adolphe} is that almost all of my readers whom I’ve encountered have spoken about themselves to me as having been in my protagonist’s position] (33). Furthermore, at this point one should also ask: which situation is the same, which situation is the model for the sameness of the text, and to which two personages is the narrative reduced? In other words, what is the general situation of the novel that leads to such a universal identification on behalf of its readers? Although in a first reading of the novel the answer appears to be quite obvious that the two characters in question are Adolphe and Ellénore, perhaps “le moule universel” [the universal mold] of these two personages is more abstract and not necessarily easy to identify with proper names.  In order to shed more light on this subject, we will investigate what it means for the reader or anyone to claim to be—or more specifically and crucially “to have been”—in the position of Constant’s “protagonist”.  The guiding thread for this reevaluation of Constant’s famous claims in his third preface will be the extent to which the generalized theory of seduction regarding the “allogenetic” conception of the unconscious put forth by Jean Laplanche in his reading of and with Freud can be put to good use in rereading and resituating the orientation of Adolphe’s narrative thrust.

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To Read or Love as She Pleased: Dream-Reading ‘Dora’ through Dora’s Reading-Dream

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They do it in fear and trembling, with an uneasy look over their shoulder to see if some one may not be coming.—Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, Touchstone: New York, 1997, p. 92.

How are we to approach the singular genre of the case history that Freud develops early on in his psychoanalytic and writing career? This genre is all the more striking in his first case history Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria precisely because it remains in fragmentary form for several reasons. Although the text is divided into five parts—which might spark in the literary critic the desire to see the structure of a Shakespearean play—the plot and subplot of the work is not necessarily easy to locate, for the action seems to encroach on the divisions and overflow on all sides. Perhaps this is another consequence of the fragmentary nature of this first case history or an indication that Freud has not mastered the genre with his first attempt, but it is necessary to remember that there is a multiplicity of narratives at play simultaneously throughout the work whose compositeness requires careful analysis before suggesting any unproblematic theoretical wholeness or unity.  But it is also the fragmentary status of Dora’s desire indicated by the fragments of her memory that sustains and also complicates the narration of this case history.

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Notes on ‘Introduction aux sciences génériques’

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The following are notes typed up fairly summarily and quickly from Laruelle’s Introduction aux sciences génériques [Introduction to the Generic Sciences], Paris: Editions Petra, 2008. Since this work hasn’t yet been translated, I have tried to stick closely to Laruelle’s verbiage. Any lack of clarity is definitely on my part. One thing not included in these notes is a little dig that Laruelle makes at Badiou and Deleuze (p. 21). Since I am mentioning it now, I will go ahead and preface it here…two reasons being: why not highlight some minor polemic spectacle? but, more generally and importantly, because chapter three on non-epistemology has a lot to do with distinguishing ‘ensemblism’ from ‘en-semblism’…bringing in Lacan’s notion of the ‘semblant’ and really ‘riffing’ on it extensively…But that’s not in these notes–yet!

Here’s the Badiou/Deleuze thing, just for a taste!

The distinction between the ontological fundamental and the applied would correspond in classical philosophy with a broad distinction between two possible descriptions: one speculative, of the whole/all, the other of objects and of the empirical manifold. The ontological fundamental would involve tight relations with fundamental research, and the regional of the philosophies [would involve tight relations] with the distribution of the theoretical domains of objects. A philosopher like Badiou leans on the text of Set Theory, rather than on the fact that there are millions of theorems produced annually. Must one then lean solely on the interesting, the striking, the singular (Deleuze) rather than on the fundamental or the foundational? Philosophy supposes that there is a topology of the sciences, a cartography of disciplines and continents, an archeology of knowledges [savoirs]: this is an immense effort to lay the sciences on this Procrustean bed that philosophy is and into the coffin of history, to reduce knowledges [savoirs] to quite distinct disciplines that they consequently exceed. [This quote continues in the notes, cf. pirating on the high seas!].

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Internetics and Conviviality

Tierney Gearon

So I thoroughly enjoyed reading through two books this weekend: Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum and Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon. The first book focuses on the geographically grounded physicality of the internet and is quite fascinating insofar as it brings it back down into the mud of things in flesh and blood away from the heavenly realm of Platonic Ideas–even though the ‘blood’ of the internet is pure light, something Blum is really insistent to point out all throughout the book.

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New Translation(s) of Laruelle on Univocal Press

Brett Amory, "Waiting"

Brett Amory, “Waiting”

Over at Univocal Publishing there is a new translation of Laruelle’s essay on non-ethics available on their blog. Be sure to go over and check this out here: http://univocalpublishing.com/blog/108-the-concept-of-an-ordinary-ethics-or-ethics-founded-in-man.

Hopefully this translation will help bring attention to the great work they are doing already. Be sure to check out the titles they have already published, and expect to see more Laruelle in the future (I’ll be publishing two of Laruelle’s translations with them next spring. You can find these in their book section). Also check out their two most recent translation on Struggle and Utopia and Photo-fiction!

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Odysseus, the Stranger-subject

Death Mask of Agamemnon

If we look at the first 111 lines of the Odyssey, we are given a few key elements that paint the scene; the invocation of the muse leads directly to the distress of Odysseus’ situation in his journey home—this includes a) the slaughter and feasting of the cattle of Lord Helios, the Sun, by Odysseus’ men (10-16); b) a second invocation of the muse (17) indicating that he is now alone, held by the goddess Kalypso (20-22) who wants him “for her own” (25); c) but Odysseus was actually saved by Kalypso (cf. book 5), after he was punished by Poseidon, the only god who does not “pit[y]” Odysseus (31-32); d) yet Poseidon at the moment when the Odyssey begins is currently away (we could say ‘suspended’), enjoying sacrifices on the other side of the world (35-42), and so we hear Athena and Zeus plotting to save Odysseus; e) we are shown that Poseidon is angry because of the blinding of his son, Polyphemous (92-92), which will occupy the first event that Odysseus recounts in book 9 in Phaiacia; f) but Poseidon does not kill him, he merely keeps him adrift at sea, as though to torment him (98-99)…nevertheless, since Poseidon is only “one god” (104), Athena and Zeus decide to send the messenger god to tell Kalypso to “let the steadfast man [Odysseus] depart for home” (111).

But this merely sets the stage in medias res.  The action in ‘real time’ instead begins with Telemachus (his name literally means “far-away fighter”, perhaps an ironic nod to his absent father who left for Troy before Telemachus was born). Athena decides to intervene and tell Telemachus to seek out news of his father. Therefore, Telemachus will be the central character throughout books 1-4.  A perhaps overly simple question at this point presents itself: why does the narrative start with Odysseus’ son, rather than with Odysseus?

It is important to note that Telemachus in a sense is acting as the representative of Odysseus, since, for example, Helen almost immediately recognizes him due to his physiological features when he visits Menelaus’ palace, and this gives her a chance to tell a story about Odysseus disguised in rags, along with the first mention of the Trojan horse (book 4). So the drama of the Odyssey begins with Telemachus because he is caught in an awkward situation—he is held suspended, just like his father, and this suspension is in fact the suspension of sovereignty. Furthermore, for Telemachus, Odysseus is primarily suspended as a father. The suitors are brutally feeding off of his family livelihood, and they are all intent upon taking his father’s place. When Telemachus says to Athena, who is in disguise, “My mother says I am his son; I know not / surely. Who has known his own engendering?” (259-260), he is referring to the fact that for him Odysseus is only a name, a name that does not fill the lack of fatherhood or sovereignty. He has never known his father and has only had to go on faith, fiction and fantasy that the great Odysseus is his father; of course, the other side of the suspension is the fact that he does not know whether or not Odysseus is alive or dead, and it is this search that sends him on his journey. If Odysseus is dead, then supposedly Telemachus will be sovereign—the line will continue, and Telemachus will be formally called something like “Odysseides” or “Odysseidon”, the formal title of “son of Odysseus”, retaining the name of his father.

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