Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lambs of Desiring-Repression




The disagreement with Orla over whether the question of “desiring one’s own repression” is an interesting or useful one to pursue has led me to reconsider the circumstances under which we took up the question in the first place.

It seems to me that what Carl and I really want to get at in asking this question is the POWER to convince someone else that they, “desire their own repression.”

It’s a useless and well-nigh pathetic thing to say to someone, or some group, “Your problem is that you desire your own repression.” That statement is met with denial, disbelief, and contempt at the intellectual presumption of the utterer that they know what someone else desires, that what is desired is harmful, that what is desired is repression, and so on and so forth. It’s also useless to sit back and take these reactions of denial as further evidence that what’s being witnessed is the classic response of the repressed – unwillingness or inability to bring the repressed contents into conscious awareness.
In pressing on how to speak responsibly of " desiring one's own repression" we want to cut through this -- but without cutting... We want to be able to speak objectively about someone else's subjectivity and have them accept our objectivity...but without the taint of authority discoloring our objectivity or their acceptance of our objectivity.

At one point in time, the psychoanalyst had power and prestige and some confidence in the "objective" curative or therapeutic value of the psychoanalytic method which corresponded with some faith in the same by the general public. Then, the maneuver of telling people what they “secretly, really” wanted had found some acceptance, but the decision of what consisted of real desire and what consisted of illusory desire by a “professional” always had an authoritarian and reactionary edge to it… Its acceptance by the patient also seemed to depend at least in part to succumbing to authority. ( Or internalizing it.) I don’t care a hoot for the disclaimers and provisos issued by “professionals” that their patients are merely being helped or aided in the discovery of their own “real” desire rather than having these “real” desires foisted on them by the "professional."

I have my terrible, painful and ongoing problems with authority – is it because authority is a fucked up mess and it’d be stupid not to have terrible, painful and ongoing problems with it such as it is, or is it because I have a poorly-resolved Oedipus complex? Or a little of both? Whichever way it is, who says? I think that we all agree that whoever it is who says does not say from a position of neutrality, and as far as I can tell, a wealthy bourgeois psychoanalyst, no matter how “liberal,” is going to see “real” desire as the desire which ultimately fortifies the status quo, and will dictate desire accordingly.

Of course, such an analyst will register my resistance to therapy as a desiring of my own repression – it will appear that I want to perpetuate and cling to what I have already admitted is a terrible, painful and ongoing state of affairs. And I don’t want to have my explanations and denials that my resistance is in response to other considerations treated as a further symptom of repression.
I don’t want to be treated this way, and I don’t want to treat others that way.

I do, however, continue to take seriously some notion of repression, and some notion of desiring repression as a fundamental mechanism of the perpetuation of human suffering. Therefore, I seek a “responsible” way to work with the concept of “desiring one’s own repression.”

What that “responsible” way comes down to, though, is wanting a form of power which will not exert itself as power… It will “convince.” Convince, but how? What will distinguish the power I seek from the power of the analyst which I claim to reject?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another quick note, Yusef. Thanks for your productivity and for sticking with the refrain of "desiring one's suppression" - this will continue to inspire us to new insight.

There is, however, a strange disconnect in your post the way I read it - I may be wrong, though.

On the one hand you state,

I have my terrible, painful and ongoing problems with authority

(Thank God or whoever! for that)

Then you go on (ironically?) and lie down on the Freudian divan and rage about (secretly) wanting to be "suppressed" while asserting you won't be treated this way.

You seek a "responsible" way to work with the concept of "desiring one's own suppression". I'm with you there.

And THEN you morph into (no, really emerge as) a true Enlightened Man. You want to convince. Yes. Through rational, Socratic, enlightened discourse among intellectual equals - almost like the Parisian salons of the 1780's (with Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin as fascinated participants, by the way).

I'm getting carried away. You want a "form of power which will not exert itself as power". Isn't this a delusional way of "desiring your own suppression of your own rightful authority"?)

I suggest we go back to Nietzsche and accept difference, inequality, natural facts, and the existence of birds of prey and lambs.

When you know you are a bird of prey, why pretend to be a lamb?

Orla

PS: I apologize for not being too coherent here. Or maybe I don't. Anyway, I hope to return to this when I have more time. Thanks for your input, Yusef. It's much appreciated.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"You want a 'form of power which will not exert itself as power'. Isn't this a delusional way of "desiring your own suppression of your own rightful authority'?)"

You are exactly right. This is the point that I want to make...Proceeding as we have, it is as if Carl and I want eagle-power while at the same time remaining as innocent as lambs.

When I said that we want the POWER to convince, I recognized the similarity of that to the nebulous and troubling "authority of reason."

When we have spoken of an epistemology of "desiring one's own repression," I think we've betrayed a remarkable confusion. I want to hold on to that confusion for the time being, though. There's something here...

10:03 PM  
Blogger Orla Schantz said...

Your write, Yusef,

When we have spoken of an epistemology of "desiring one's own repression," I think we've betrayed a remarkable confusion. I want to hold on to that confusion for the time being, though. There's something here...

Yes, we have. And yes, there IS something there.

We are circling around several paradigms here: Authority, power, psychoanalysis, reason, critical theory, post-structuralism, the subject, masochism, individuation, and the plane of immanence.

It's a hard knot (to crack, as it were) - let's keep hammering away.

Orla

6:03 PM  

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