|J E P - Number 12-13 - Winter-Fall 2001|
Das unendliche ende der psychoanalyse (1)
Keywords: End of Psychoanalysis - Lacan - Thought of Finitude - Unconscious and Consciousness - Dissolution of Psychoanalysis|
Psychoanalysis came to its end (fin) (2) with Lacan. This could be considered as meaning its having achieved its ends. Naturally this singular manner of killing two birds with one stone is not the specific prerogative of psychoanalysis and Lacan as such, but we could say that any theory in general achieves its ends (objectives) by coming to an end. A remarkable coincidence, and evidently intended by Lacan: his end was also that of analysis itself. The desire to create this coincidence is exemplary of the theoretical will, and of the desire to realize the coincidence of theoretical will with supreme praxis. Aristotle called it sophia, and Lacan knew [sy connaîssait en] Aristotle well.
Psychoanalysis came to its end, first of all, in the simplest way: irregardless of the duration of its survival, psychoanalysis has ended. Whatever its uses and the needs for interventions from now on, such as the talking cure (3) strictly speaking, or as an element included in various "shrink" practices, psychoanalysis is finished. (Its survival, notwithstanding, will presumably be long, perhaps interminable, even leaving out of consideration all would-be "psychoanalyses". And here, our intention is not to state that "the time of psychoanalysis has passed", that it has become obsolete, as for example the time of hypnosis passed with Charcot and became obsolete with the advent of Freud. The end of psychoanalysis must be understood in a totally different way).
Psychoanalysis has ended in the first place because in it and by it the theoretical and practical scheme of therapy has been subverted, even though any psychoanalysis cannot be dissociated from that scheme. Psychoanalysis thus consumes the resources for its own existence.
Freud possibly suspected this; Lacan knew it. We will now say what his return to Freud perhaps consists of. Contrary to the usual reading of Freud as a therapist, the return to Freud means reading a Freud who was "in reality" a thinker and a writer, who, to further these ends, had discovered a resource in the material of the neurosis and the talking cure-as if through a ruse of reason (or of the unconscious?). Freud needed to listen to people talk in order to think, as Socrates (whether it be history or legend), in order to think, needed to interrogate his fellow citizens. (Doubtless, both men dealt with illness, or at least with illness as something listened to and not treated. Both dealt with "illness" as that which speaks-or writes-and has no connection with any standard of health. Should one attempt to substitute a "health" for that "illness", it would be the robust health of a perfectly idiotic (in every sense of the word) muteness.
Freud's invention was not to treat individuals by making them (or letting them: it makes no difference) talk; he invented a form of listening to singular voices in order to hear something quite different from singular speeches: that is, a thought, or rather thought itself, or something to do with the thought prevailing at the beginning of the 20th century. (Of course, there is some cure, there is purification and purging, there is catharsis, but not what one might think, not a purging of secretions, with psychoanalysis as a substitute for the classical blood-letting as logorrhea, but in conformance with the Aristotelian theory of tragedy as catharsis: a discharge of passions, that is of thought).
The invention of Freud was poetic and philosophic-in no way was it therapeutic, and indeed (and for the same reasons) not scientific. The talking cure was perhaps, basically, not even a method, but the access to a truth, which imposed itself on Freud rather than one which Freud made. That truth was neither a truth of man, nor a truth of history, nor was it a truth of society (it was above all not a "truth of the modern man"), but a truth of thought. This means, at least, that this truth states above all that truth is neither of man nor history, nor of society; truth is not the truth of any thing.
That truth was the unconscious. That elementary statement never ceases to regulate and beat out the entire discourse of Lacan. That truth was the unconscious: that is to say [cest-à-dire (si cest à dire; Lacan disait que ce nétait que dire…)], precisely and absolutely the contrary of "another consciousness", or of a subject hidden behind consciousness. The "unconscious" means the limit of consciousness-the unconscious means the end of consciousness. (One must not forget what that implies: "The unconscious means the end of signification". Freud knew this very well, and Lacan knew that Freud knew it). The "unconscious" means the nature (or the structure, which here is the same thing) in itself finite [finie] of consciousness. It is generally understood that the "discovery of the unconscious" meant the end of classical consciousness (of that, for example, usually attributed to the Cartesian subject). In truth, it did not mean its historical end, as though clear and present consciousness disappeared, or at least henceforth had to share its empire with the unconscious. It meant the eternal finitude of consciousness (the eternity of which is not at all at variance with the historical "discovery" of the unconscious. That historical and tardy nature of psychoanalysis is in itself both the hallmark and the status of eternal finitude).
It is moreover the reason why Freud's thought brutally and in its own way immobilized the philosophy of History: there will be no healing of humanity. The "pessimism" of Freud had little to do with this proposition. For it is a proposition apropos of finitude and not illness. Illness was doubtlessly for Freud a name for finitude.
However, insofar as that finitude is considered illness, it evokes the concept of healing and the vision-pessimist or optimist- of History ideally regulated by the process or by the progress of consciousness. Freuds statement, therefore, assuredly, testifies to his submission (which he was unaware of) to a metaphysics of History and Health. But in truth this statement signifies that there is no future for psychoanalysis. That is, the becoming [le devenir] of a therapeutic technique is not and has never been the future [lavenir] of the thought picked up by Freud. Now, whatever the restricted and prudent meaning with which an analyst might attribute to the word "therapeutic", he is an analyst, i.e. he occupies that position only by virtue of being a "therapeutic indication", which has a duration and which aims at a future, even though that same indication is asymptotically abolished by that other "indication" according to which, at the end (but what end… for analyst and analyzand?), the place of the analyst must remain empty. However, for the unconscious there is no future, nor a past: there is eternity. The psychoanalysis was finished from its outset and by its principle [dans son principe].
It was finished, therefore, thanks to a very peculiar "exclusion internal to itself": the treatment of neuroses had nothing to do with the thought which nevertheless nourished itself by neuroses and was inseparable from them. That is-presumably-also the lesson of that very singular establishment or institution of analysis constituted by what is called Freuds "self-analysis". And that perhaps is also the lesson of the final period of Freud's life, with his increasing detachment vis-à-vis psychoanalysis and in his inversely proportional attachment to something which his own term of "speculation" indicates only in an imprecise way. (We should follow Derrida in "the singular path of [Freudian] speculation". That path "has neither the form of the dialectical circle, nor of the hermeneutic one. That path perhaps makes these circles visible, but is extraneous to them [il les donne peut-être à voir mais il na rien à voir avec eux]. It constructs-deconstructs along an interminable detour (4), We might add: because it is not a circle, it is finite: it is the paths being finite which makes it interminable.)
The thought of finitude is not at all the exclusive prerogative of Freud (which by no means imputes less "merit", or "originality" to him: rather, it would confirm to what degree he had a fine and sensitive ear). The thought of finitude took form around Freud, with Heidegger, Benjamin and Bataille, at least. Among them, incomprehension, distrust and hostility proliferated-despite their common inheritance (even if in different ways) from Nietzsche and the Frühromantik culture, as though the thought of finitude could emerge only under the sign of a Heracletian Polemos… But the most remarkable and substantial thing is the distrust the three others harbored towards Freud. That distrust is so obscure in its substance; that hostility so dull or confused (and it was so also for Bataille, who was nevertheless much "closer" to Freud than the other two) because of the confused acknowledgement [reconnaissance] existing within that incomprehension [méconnaissance]. The others acknowledge in the thought of the unconscious the "same thought of finitude". At the same time, however, they strongly resist the entire therapeutic, positive (indeed positivist) setting of this thought, and also the fact that it appears to be obstinately fixed on a sexuality without eroticism and without love, without Du, in what seems a crudely biologically-dependent drive. It would therefore seem that their ear was not sufficiently good.
Lacan overcame this incomprehension [méconnaissance] and did what the others failed to do-this thanks to Heidegger and Bataille. He made a return, in fact, to Freuds thought and not to psychoanalysis. More to the point, and with an highly tortuous and complex process, he attempted to combine psychoanalysis and the thought of finitude. In other words, he demanded that psychoanalysis reach the same level as the thought it essentially is, and he demanded this because he realized that psychoanalysis was already finished. Psychoanalysis was lamentably finishing in the therapeutic "comforting of the Ego" and in that which could be called liberal-subjectivism, that retarded antidote for all forms of national-socialism. Lacan wished to put an end to that end-that is, basically to end psychoanalysis itself.
(1) French text in Bordures, No. 1, Montreal, December, 1982.
(2) Fin in French means both end and aim [Translators Note].
(3) In English in the original text [Editors Note].
(4) Jacques Derrida, La Carte postale (Paris: Flammarion, 1980), p. 287.
(5) In English in the original text [translators note].
(6) Cf. Georges Bataille, "Le Petit" in Oeuvres Complètes, t. III (Paris: Gallimard, 1971).
(7) Le Séminaire, Livre XI, Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanayse (Paris: Seuil, 1973), p. 116.
(8) Cf. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, Le titre de la Lettre (Paris: Galilée, 1973).
(9) Il nen eut rien means both he had nothing of it and it did not exist [Editors Note].
(10) Le Séminaire, Livre XX, Encore (Paris: Seuil, 1975), p. 69.
(11) Ibidem, p. 68.