To Preserve and Protect the Unconscious

We will be exploring the world through Freudian eyes as best we can here on this blog, as the mood strikes us and as an intervention is needed.  We are interested in the ways in which psychoanalytic thinking can be applied to the public sphere–hence our blog title links Freud with life, and with public life at that.  So, Freud, psychoanalysis, and perhaps a touch of the Habermasian (he being the one to make the term “public sphere” have a certain cachet) is what you can usually find here.

What inspired the creation of this blog is the idea that the ongoing cultural disdain often shown to psychoanalysis does not bode well for the future of human life.  We see in this disdain an example of the death drive at work as it were, doing its thing.  The attack on the unconscious so popular these days might be thought of as an attack on what makes us human; we are all participating in the world in the way that we do, as best we can, at the behest of our unconscious and its conflicts.

Most of us, by the time we turn 30 let’s say, can sense that we are repeating ourselves if we take a moment to notice.  We have the same fight with everyone we are close to.  We fail the same way under different circumstances.   We fall in love with the same sort of personality.  The list goes on and on.  We are our repetitions and we need them even as they ruin us.  Our horrible and wonderful repetitions: we repeat them because we are reservoirs of unconscious conflict.   If conflicts get worked through, we find that repetition is no longer ruling us.  When the cultural message is that the unconscious does not matter, what then?  Truly, what is our fate?  Where do we turn?  Or maybe the question is, on what do we turn under this kind of pressure?

When the unconscious is belittled and the conscious is exalted, we find ourselves subjectivized in a certain way.   When everything in life is encouraged to move faster, more efficiently, more perfectly, encouraging us to be better, so we can just do it, then can what fails or falters, what does not work overnight ever be valued?  The Slow Food Movement, that offers a new way of eating based on pleasure, wholesomeness, sustainability, and nutrition, comes to mind as an alternative model for thinking about what is often called “mental health.” The current model of humanity that lords the conscious over the unconscious, that says, “you can choose how you feel”, that urges us to not know how we do feel because our feelings don’t really matter but rather it is what we think that is important, is a model that contains an element of the barbaric n’est ce pas?   A fast-food model of the psyche is what we are encouraged to imbibe.  We have an unanalyzed and psychoanalytiphobic cadre running the show.  Take drugs and learn to think nice thoughts are offered to us as a panacea.  What forms of subjectivity grow under these conditions?  If you really think about it, do you like what you see?

So we will work here to bring the unconscious back and to question the marginalization and denigration of Freudiana.  What is Freudiana? It is a collection of things Freudian: the unconscious, the uncanny, the slips, the drives, the repetition compulsion, the dream work, the defenses, the resistances, the transference, the counter-transference, the oedipal and the preoedipal, the displacements and condensations, the couch, the silence of the interlocutor, the importance of that silence, and so much more.