Why Psychonalysis?

Dany Nobus’ session on psychoanalytic method was extraordinary.

I have been toying with the idea of using psychoanalysis as the core logic underpinning my research but couldn’t really articulate why I had unconsciously made this choice. My explanation was a shallow one: Lacan’s objet petit a is related to seduction and desire in a way I haven’t yet understood.

Dany’s comparison between the artist and the analyst, however, opened a new avenue in my thoughts. Psychoanalysis is one of the few methods available that conscious and unconsciously works with an unknown object and/or patient, contradicts itself, and makes a clean slate each time it faces a new problem (ie is not a method for accumulating knowledge).

Adopting a method is a adopting a type of reasoning and psychoanalysis, through free association, facilitates unpredictability. This and the search for what Dany called the Divine Detail (what defies explanation, challenges and resists being fitted to any given model) seemed to fit my research better than the strict and systematic aims and objectives I set out for myself. Method also predicts the results. As my work stood before Tuesday, reliability, validity and objectivity were at its centre and I wonder if that approach was at all realistic when dealing with such unknown quantities as seduction and art objects.

According to Dany, the analyst’s attitude, like that of the artist, should be a mixture of:

The Socratic position: or position of ignorance
‘I only know I know nothing’. The Socratic philosopher would never use the knowledge of the object to confirm his own knowledge. Instead, he starts from this atopia, this paradoxical position where knowledge is mysterious.

The Zen Master: or paradoxical position
The zen master produces enigmatic statements, rather than masterful, to facilitate dynamics (ie of the object). It neither gratifies nor frustrates the demands but brings the process further denying rationality and challenging knowledge.

The Detective: or the inquisitive and fallible position
When confronted with Divine Details, the detective formulates a hypothesis. He is not scared of discarding it if the Divine Detail can’t verify it. Instead, he formulates a new one, even if it contradicts the first one.

Not only the psychoanalytic method seemed to fit in with the subject of my investigation, this position (between Socratic, zen and detestivesque) gave a new dimension to what I thought a researcher should do and what its relationship to knowledge should be. Since I started this process, my reasoning had become more and more institutionalised: a perfect method designed to answer the hypothesis I formulated aimed at giving clear answers. What I forgot was the nature of the artist’s intuition and experimentation, the key to my discipline.

Related to the detective position is also Charles s Peirce’s Adbuction (as a process of reasoning distinct of induction and deduction), as it puts that Divine Detail at the centre stage of thought. He only mentioned it, passing by, and I wonder how many wonderfully useful and interesting concepts, unknown to me, are out there.

The session’s Divine Detail was the mention of Duchamp’s Large Glass was mentioned. This work is one of my potential case studies and what was said didn’t seem to fit what I was writing about it. The concepts ‘working through’ and ‘traversal of the fantasy’ as a new crystallised form of mental organisation negotiating meaning and non-meaning were mentioned, leaving me puzzled and wanting more.

Further Reading:
Ed Pluth on Freud and the drive (in Journal of Lacanian Studies)
Jean Suquet on The Large Glass (in Thierry De Duve’s The Definitely Unfinished Marcel Duchamp
‘Remembering, repeating and working through‚Äô by Freud (in Paper‚Äôs on technique)