(Second session was held on Sunday, 7 December 08)
Taking off from the concept of subjectivity as discussed in the previous class, we came to analyze the elements of a Lacanian understanding/snapshot of the individual or in other words an understanding that an individual’s subjectivity would be made up of the complex web of textuality, history and experience. In discussing subjectivity, one cannot leave out its binary opposite which is objectivity. Social sciences try to imitate the natural sciences to gain a similar ‘status’ by trying to be objective in their mode of knowledge production and acquisition. For contemporary theorists/critics, the call today is for reinstating subjectivity as the primary mode of knowing the Other. Since even disciplines, like physics, are re-thinking their claim to objectivity.
To reintroduce subjectivity, there have to be shifts within the disciplines. One such shift would be the shift from
- Light → sound
A shift of knowledge acquisition from seeing to hearing.
- Objectivity → subjectivity
Which would include apparent understanding to deeper understanding, biological to psychic and linear understanding of time to knotted.
The given understanding of time, propagated by the West as universal can be represented in the form of a step ladder where progress is from the lower rung to higher rung, savage and primitive to capitalist and civilized. Movement has to be unidirectional and linear and is always necessary. Lacan offers a different understanding of time wherein he perceives time as knotted. He does not consider the past and present as distinct from one another but rather sees the past even within the present. For instance, the same kitchen will have a micro oven (invented in the 20C) and a grinder (which has survived from the Paleolithic age). This concept of time is also present in Stephen J. Gould understanding of the same. Instead of the conventional Christmas tree structure of evolution where man is at the top and is considered most important and most evolved, Gould uses the metaphor of a grass field to describe the process of evolution. According to his theory, all species evolved simultaneously, like grasses in a field, of which the insect was perhaps as complex as man. He showed that the simplistic notion of a linear evolution from primates to humans is problematic. In this light, developmental psychology is flawed because it is based on the linear development of infants to adults as opposed to the Lacanian or Freudian understanding of an adult who also has an infant within.
According to Lacan, we inhabit language and language inhabits us. Language is a structure and a constituent of the psyche. Those who have a common language share a relative language game. There are 3 Lacanian phases in human subjectivity: imaginary, symbolic and real. In his sessions, he would stop the analysis irrespective of the time when the client in his speech moving from imaginary and through symbolic hit upon the real, to let the person suffer the truth. The imaginary would be about relationships circumscribed by images that are nameless and has no tags. Symbolic would be named relation where naming the relation would set the do’s and don’ts and define the taboos that come with language.
Name of the father:
Physical father is not as important as the demise of the father which brings the law of the ‘father’ all the more.
We concluded the class by drawing upon 2 models of doing psychology, the conventional being the triad of normal, abnormal and cure. The second initiated by Lacan would be the binary of knowledge and non-knowledge where he deliberately chooses truth over cure. Although once the truth is arrived at one suffers whereas unless we come across the truth we remain cured.