Après-Coup Psychoanalytic Association

2015-2016 Program: Psychoanalysis, Savoir-faire and the Social Link

Freud and Lacan on Nachträglichkeit

Lillian Ferrari, Reading Group first meeting
Thursday, September 24, 2015
8:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION: Please contact Lillian Ferrari for the location


The True Imaginary: Constructing the Phantasm

Paula Hochman Vappereau, Foundations of Psychoanalysis
Friday, September 25, 2015
6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION: School of Visual Arts
136 West 21st Street
Ask for the Room Number at the Front Desk


Joyce Historical/Hysterical: The Know-how of Lalangue

Jean-Michel Vappereau, Workshop
Saturday, September 26, 2015
10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

LOCATION: School of Visual Arts
136 West 21st Street
Ask for the Room Number at the Front Desk


The Infinite Judgment

Daniel Heller-Roazen, Foundations of Psychoanalysis
Friday, October 9, 2015
6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION: School of Visual Arts
136 West 21st Street
Ask for the Room Number at the Front Desk


Savoir-faire and the Frame of the Cure, Part III

Paola Mieli, Seminar
Friday, October 16, 2015
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION: School of Visual Arts
136 West 21st Street
Ask for the Room Number at the Front Desk


Savoir-faire and the Frame of the Cure, Part III

Paola Mieli, Seminar
Friday, November 13, 2015
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION: School of Visual Arts
136 West 21st Street
Ask for the Room Number at the Front Desk


Psychosis and the Social Link

Patrick Landman, Workshop
Saturday, December 5, 2015
10:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

LOCATION: School of Visual Arts
136 West 21st Street
Ask for the Room Number at the Front Desk


Savoir-faire and the Frame of the Cure, Part III

Paola Mieli, Seminar
Friday, December 11, 2015
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION: School of Visual Arts
136 West 21st Street
Ask for the Room Number at the Front Desk


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The Angelic Body of Post-Modernism - Pommier, Gérard

In my proposed title, I have coupled the body with the concept of
post-modernism. I shall attempt to place today's body, that is to
say, the matter of this conference, in the context of the specific
point of view of post-modern society.

The body and the ideal concern two different registers and as such
are heterogeneous. The body concerns an organic plenitude, a real,
but on the other hand the ideal concerns an idea, or a thought or a
construction at the level of fantasy. Their relation, however, is
closer than it might seem at first, because our bodies exist for us
only as an Idea in the Platonic sense of the term. We are not our
bodies, we only have them. And we try to recover the jouissance of
this unknown body by way of the mirror, by way of love, by way of the
other's sight.

This relation to our organism proceeds from the first
signification our bodies had for our mothers, that is the
signification of the phallus, that is to say. the child is identified
with the phallus insofar as he takes the place of his mother's desire
for a penis. This signification is repressed (what we call primary
repression) precisely because the mother doesn't have the phallus and
our first identification is with a hole &endash; with the lack of
penis of our mothers'. We identify with the hole that is the enigma
to the demand of her love. Moreover, it is starting from this hole
that we ignore what our body is, that what enigma we are, for
ourselves and that is why we can have only an Idea of our body.

The initial phallic investment of the body has been repressed
because if we had been identified with the lack of the maternal
phallus, we should have to die; this is why maternal castration is
horrific. Nihilism concerning the question of being is a direct
result of this first rendez-vous that gives love to human beings and
seals their pact with the death drive.

Confronted to the exigency of love, speech seeks to assure an
existence beyond the image of this problematic body. And by way of
speech, or at least while speaking, the phallic investment of the
body is repressed thanks to the ideals : the ideals keep the imminent
destruction of our bodies at a distance. It is in so far as humans
speak of their dreams beyond their bodies, that they can exist.
Moreover, their stories and the narration of their histories sustain
this originary repression. We can call those stories necessary in
order to forget the nothingness of the body, we can call them
fictions, myth, religion. There is no such thing as a collective
unconscious, there are rather collective fictions, thanks to which
each individual unconscious reiterates its own repression.

We can take one example of this relation between fiction and
repression considering the passage from endogamy to exogamy. When
growing up, what do neurotics look for, if not to realize their
repressed oedipal childhood fantasy?

The grown up child try to obtain outside of his family, what he
has not obtain inside. Yet at the same time, he will ignore that he
is doing so, because the fantasy that is constructed as a consequence
of repression will present itself in a reversed form.

Instead of looking for a woman who will be like his mother, he
will look for a woman such as he would have wished her to be, that is
to say, he will look for a virgin; virginity is the sign that this
woman never belonged to his father before she belonged to him. His
mother is not a virgin of course, and it is precisely this reversal
fiction that signals the repression. And this reversal is
reconducted, set into motion with an added boost from cultural ideals
such as the Virgin Mary, around whom western fictions on the purity
of love proliferate. It is precisely incestuous desire that this
religious myth helps to repress.

Thus, the body and its symptoms (which are symptoms of the
repressed) depend on the cultural myths that support them. The
symptom varies according to changing cultural beliefs. We can take
for example, the French sixteenth century mystic, Louise du Neant,
(Louise of the Nothingness). A contemporary psychiatric study of her
life would classify her as a delirious melancolia. In the name of her
belief, she endured excessive self-inflicted pain, yet she was well
integrated into the social life of the time thanks to her religious
belief. Today, one couldn't inflict such pain on oneself without
being committed to a mental hospital very quickly.

This example lets us consider the difference between a society in
which the body functions with an ideal, and another society in which
the body subsists without an ideal. Or at least, one which likes to
think it subsists without an ideal.

With this in mind, we can inquire now about the myths of our own
time; what are the sustaining myths of the body in the post-modern
era?

Post-modern human beings announce now that they are beyond
naïve fictions and ideals, whether they have been promised to
them during their life time, or after death. From the point of view
of post-modernism, we cannot continue to act and to think with the
naïve hope of the accomplishment of a human history. Such is the
difference between a "modern" sense of history that conceived life
with regard to a sense of emancipation, and our post-modern state.

The enlightenment, and the nineteenth century secular view of
progress return to earlier Christian myths of human redemption.
Modern progress is the secular Idea of religious redemption. In the
modernist notion, we find the enlightenment notion of the
emancipation from ignorance by way of education, we find the marxist
notion of class struggle or we find market competition in high
capitalism as a means to defeat poverty. In short, the modernist
notion of history "promises" its subjects a future of happiness and
freedom.

The respective position of the body and of the ideal should change
at the moment we pass from modernism which still holds a declared and
conscious, even political ideal, to post-modernism that claims to be
"over" all ideals. What does the body become in a society that claims
to have no ideals?

Perhaps we should first try to understand how modern ideals have
lost their efficiency in post-modernism. Attentive to speech, we
psychoanalysts should notice that religions, fictions, present a very
important characteristic &endash; their grammatical mode is that of
the conditional. A myth thus supposes that a certain number of
conditions are gathered. "If this thing had happenedäonce upon a
time... then...." and the rest of the story as consequence of "If".
The subject finds his dream transfigured in the fiction by way of the
conditional modality. We can thereby deduce a certain subjective
temporality. The term "If" is the time of the subject, who exchange
reality for his dream he can't live without. We can try to translate
this grammatical mode into the corresponding basis, on the same way
we can calculate in basis two, basis three, and so on, our decimal
system is on basis ten for example. So, in this case, we shall say
that the conditional expands to basis three. Firstly it puts at stake
the subject, secondly, it puts at stake the predicate of the said
subject, and thirdly, it puts at stake the subject as he would liked
to be. Thus in relation to his own particular history, the subject is
divided in two; the subject is divided between the reality and his
dream, (that is what we have seen in the passage from endogamy to
exogamy.)

Further, three non-aristotelian terms are at stake because the
conditional proposition is contradictory, non-reflective and does not
exclude the third term --

Now we can examine, on the other hand, the scientific logic
&endash; it develops itself in basis two and it conforms to
aristotelian logic: that is reflexivity, non-contradiction and the
exclusion of the third term. In basis two, the formal model of the
assertion is the equation. And we can consider now that if science is
the Ideal of the post-modern Era, it is a very special one: while all
the ideals developed in basis three, this new one is developing in
basis two.

In the passage from three to two the subject itself is eliminated.
At the moment when the discourse of science, in basis two, reduces
the importance of myths, in basis three, the subject is erased,
rubbed out by scientific Ideology : there is no subject in an
equation. And with the subject, science rejects narrative knowledge,
fictions of this subject and deprives them of their "symbolic
efficiency." This "symbolic efficiency" means only power of
repression, of forgetfulness, power of dream as the reverse of
fantasy. Of course, the way of the scientific discovery itself
doesn't use the basis two; the result only is in basis two. A
researcher, mathematician or physician first uses basis three: he
makes hypothesis and that means fictions! The scientific hypothesis
itself involves a conditional mode. The scientist begins with a basis
three &endash; but only in order to cancel it out &endash; his
objective is to produce a certainty. The hypothesis cancels itself
when it produces a thesis: and the subject disappears in its own
operation!

Increasingly, science destroys its own meta-discourse of
legitimation and scientists themselves do not believe anymore in what
they are doing. We are led to the collapse of ideals and
meta-narratives such as described by Lyotard and Rorty.

So we have seen what is happening to the Ideals but these ideals,
however, do not form a homogeneous set. Freud always added the word
"Ego" to the word "Ideal." He distinguished the Ideal Ego &endash;
that to which the subject is enjoined to identify itself by way of
maternal demand and which is pulling him backside towards the past --
and he distinguished it from the Ego Ideal &endash; that to which the
subject will try to satisfy in the future, to pay his debt to his
father, because this father saves him from the maternal demand, but
as this saving father is a rival, he kills him as well. This subject
is guilty and try to be forgiven with the great ideals of liberation,
which belong to the modern category we have seen, wherein the subject
is released from debt. We can represent the subject between these two
Ideals &endash; one which pulls him back and one which pushes him
forward.

The Ideal Ego and the Ego Ideal constitute two sets and the second
one contradicts and counterbalances the first one. At the
intersection of these two sets we find the body marked by the
symptom, that is, by the manifestation of the contradiction between
the two, but also a point of anchoring between the past and the
future, between the jouissance of the body and the social tie. The
body is suspended between these two ideals. The first, the Ideal Ego,
constitutes a fixed point, an intangible origin, and the second one
pushes the subject forward, trying to escape from the first one.

This spatial disposition is useful to understand some political
characteristics of our century. Indeed, in our post-modern era, it is
not all the ideals which collapse &endash; but only those with regard
to the future the set of the Ego Ideal. Thus there is no longer an
Ideal that serves as a counterbalance to regression. Thus, when the
post-modern body finds no more ideals to propel it towards a future,
beyond the image, it regresses down to the field of incestuous
maternal demand.

What is this way of regression if not the one that this demand has
taken, the one of the partial drives: seeing, eating, smelling etcä
The result of the regression on the Ego Ideal is an identificatory
regression in which the drives serve as the "reference points." And
the human world will be divided by means of taste and distaste,
following the lines of smell, of the color of the skin, of the shape
of the nose and so on. All the visible elements of "drives" will be
used to elect good or bad human beings (and it is precisely these
that are taken up in racist and xenophobic discourses).

The purpose of the pure materiality of the drives is to make a
whole of the body, an "everything" of the body, and thus, at the very
same time, it makes a "nothingness" of it, in the same way as the
phallus functions: the phallus is a "being" and a "nothingness". This
is why the post-modern regressed bodies are floating, incestuously
angelic. They look for something to fasten themselves to and does not
find it: if they remain as angels, the bodies rejoin the nothingness
of the phallus. Each body is in the time a "being", and a
"nothingness". It is divided between "to be" or "not to be". It is
thus necessary to reject the part of nothingness, of "not to be" on
somebody, onto the other. In the absence of the ideal, the regression
of the drives will lead to an identification with the perfection of
being, "to be" and to reach this perfection the nothingness the "not
to be" will be rejected onto the stranger. The stranger is a stranger
because he is wearing our own nothingness, that we hate. The stranger
is the last recourse to this rejection of the nothingness in order to
reach the angel's purity (that of race, of hygiene in the medical
discourse, or of ecology in the political realm).

The lines of demarcation between good and evil are the
consequences of the maternal demand. And the instrument is the drive.
Furthermore, if there is a retraction towards an identification with
the object of the maternal jouissance, that is to say the phallus, it
is because the mother is castrated and she demands something as a
consequence of this castration. And by whom can she be castrated if
not by a father? Thus we find here this figure of a violent, raping,
castrating father, a sodomite, the one that we meet over and over
again in the totalitarianism of our century. And, as we have seen,
the raping father is suspected too in the democratic power.

Even without recourse to the political story of totalitarianism,
we can nevertheless see that this violent father &endash;whose death
is not symbolized &endash; sheds some light on the contemporary
idealization of perversion. In our post-modern society, neurotics
imagine that perverts have all the jouissance and can enjoy more than
the neurotic. Thus perversion makes headlines daily; crimes, drugs
and pedophilia are front page news. Similarly, homosexuality is
center stage in the theater of regressive ideals, progressive ideals
being out-moded and no longer having such an audience.

Now, we can see another point of the future of the angelic bodies
: in so far as the meta-discourse of science becomes hegemonic,
scientific discourse integrates various religious themes, including
the idea of progress itself which was initially a religious one.

Science further assimilates the huge weight of neurotic guilt that
religion was trying to make pay and regulate. The reduction of guilt
by science is very simple: as in the meta-discourse of science,
everything is determined, the result is that the subject is no longer
responsible, rather he is finally innocent. As there is a cause to
everything that happens, says science, so family and society will be
responsible. The subject will blame his problems on family and on
society that surrounds him.

But guilt cannot disappear so easily, and the angel will look for
further purifications. Here once again, the stranger will bear the
burden of the fault and a segregationist ideology will prosper. Here
again the world will be divided in rich, poor, black, white, smoker,
non-smoker and so on.

But this is not enough for the body to reach the angelic purity.
When the ideology of science marginalizes modern ideals, this will
let bodie floats unanchored, reduced to their organic functions.
There is not only a division by the drive outside, but also the body
itself will be divided in feed back by the same drive.

We have seen it, in the lack of Ideals, the pure angelic body can
regress to the past in the forms of nationalism, racism and
xenophobia. But what the ideology of science removes of the ideals on
the one hand, it returns on the other by way of a medicalization of
the organs. The organs are separated, doubly removed from the body:
first the biologic is reduced to the physico-mathematical and then,
separated from the subject. In the post-modern mythology, this
separation of the body and of the subject is the object of medecine.

In the discourse of medecine, all that is calculable, that is to
say, the diverse chemical and physical functions of the organism,
situate the body on the side of determinism that concerns the body
alone, stripped of its humanity, separate from unconscious
overdeterminism. The main effort of the mathematicization of the body
is to find the causes of suffering inside of the body without caring
if they are outside. And as there is a relationship between the
various parts of the body, it's always possible to find something
inside that looks like a cause. For example, impotence has a certain
connection with hormones and so this hormone is given as a cause even
though it is not a cause of impotenceäand so onä

The fantasy of science is that if we can find the physical
mediator of some pain and if it is possible to act on these organic
intermadiary with success, then we can think that we have treated the
true cause of the pain. The mediator is taken for the cause.
Naturally, as the psychic body recovers exactly the physiological
organism, it is always possible to find these mediators which product
effects that produce further effects (for example, insomnia seems
"caused" by certain type of molecules although its cause may in fact
be, for example, financial concerns or love problems, and so on.)

The causality is thus folded up upon itself in the internal
structure of the organism which sends back each one of its terms to
one another in a closed system. The symptom is ignored in its
unconscious overdetermination. And it is quite surprising that
serious researchers propose to resolve the problems of psychic life
by way of studying neurons. How is it that they don't perceive, for
example, that a mourning suffering is due to the loss of a dear
person and not to some cellular disfunctioning? It is thus quite
common that depression (which is a type of mourning) is explained by
nervous physiology. Neurophysiology replaces the psychic symptom for
another, the drugs, which are doubly silent - they hide both speech
and they hide the guilt of that hiding itself. The neurosciences are
thus the occasion for a religious belief. They are dreaming of an
autistic body that will not respond to emotional links with others.
It is in fact a religious belief to dream that we have an autistic
body without moral or psychical pain such as for example a
love-sorrow or a humiliation that cannot be reduced to a synapse
disfunctioning. And this dream results from a folding of the Ego
Ideal on the organic, as racism. Doing so, the Ideology of science
represses and occludes the psychic life of the subject, while it is
precisely this psychic life that is in the position of causality.

As a consequence the physician's authority stands on a knowledge
that has no relation to the suffering that it treats (impotence, for
example, is not a physiological problem.) Doctors thus increasingly
and without knowing it are taking a religious role. Like priests,
before they are delimitating the interdictions of a well-ordered
sexuality at the same time that they are regulating the norms of
regimes and hygiene.

Sexually transmitted diseases function as a powerful organizer of
sexuality in the same sense that religion functioned at an earlier
period. The fear of AIDS for example functions regularly in the
fantasies of ordinary subjects, who don't even have sexual relations,
or those who have a perfectly ordered life.

As you may have noticed in this paper, I am not particularly
pessimistic. The fact that humanity is at the border of a catastrophe
is nothing new and so there is no reason for being particularly more
pessimistic right now than when I started this speech thirteen
minutes ago. The Freudian discovery however, helps us to think the
problems and thus psychoanalysis has a particular responsibility that
allows us to be reasonably optimistic. There are always good reasons
to trust in evident madness.

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