Have you considered the lobster?
Last night, while walking home (2 in the morning), a man in a wheel-chair yelled out to me for help. He kept rolling himself in and out of traffic, intentionally trying to end his life. We talked for about an hour and he told me that he was homeless and that his depression pills were not helping him anymore. He came here months ago from Flint, Michigan, to pay some court fees, and still can not afford a way back to home.
His story struck me as sincere. He eventually asked me to call him an ambulance, which I did.
It was heart-breaking.
I entered into analysis through a state of urgency.
I woke up one morning and my wife disappeared. This was not the first time I was thrown without warning into the panic of separation. Suddenly, she was gone. I called her, my analyst, crying. I demanded saving, first from Jacques-Alain Miller, and then from her. I believed that there was only-one who could save me. These only-ones were first my wife, and then Jacques-Alain Miller, and then I found them sprinkled throughout the entirety of my personal biography.
My wife was simultaneously cruel and loving. I hated her, absolutely. And yet at the same time I loved her. I always said that she was a horrible and cruel human being and yet at the same time I couldn’t let her go. This became the mark of a certain ambivalence in my object relations.
I discovered the void, though I still can not place it.
I want to get married, and now. And yet with the thousands of women who knock on my door I find nobody who can be my only-one. And when I find the only-one, she is nonetheless cruel and unforgiving again. I separate, and yet return. I can not separate, and yet I return. I separate and yet I return. I return.
The depression hits.
I remember that I hated being with my wife. She was among the worst creatures on this planet, and I knew that the entire time I was with her. I name her Jinn-Ann to emphasize the fact that she is inhuman, cold, and demanding (Jinn is from the Quran). It was terrible to be with her, … yet, I repeated, the alternative was ‘even worse.’
I was quickly taken back to a childhood memory. I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old, having difficulty falling asleep at night. These sleeping problems continue today. My mother would sit there and keep me company, perhaps with a touch. And then just as I would fall asleep I would notice that she left. She left, and then I would wake up in urgency: I would be alert. She would have to sit back down and the cycle would start again, until, finally, I might sleep. Today I realize that I can only sleep when I have a woman beside me. This is the symbolic unconscious.
I take myself back to an unresolved conflict: an infant, I was in the crib. I held myself up onto the bar of the crib and cried for my mother without any response. The panic was embodied. Endlessly I cried for her, and she did not come. And then, in stepped a stranger – a substitute woman, a babysitter. And the babysitter informed me that my mother went out.
Today I cry endlessly for the woman-god. I will not sleep until I can believe in her again. Against this, there is the void, which interrupts the urgency, and introduces the spectre of death and loneliness.
From symbolic unconscious to real unconscious. A real urgency presents itself. Twice I stop speaking. If at once I can never stop speaking, in my everyday life, then, finally, twice I reached the end of language. The first time was during an analysis in Toronto. I traveled for three hours to my analyst’s couch that day and then had nothing to say. I apologized as she cut the session early. I felt confused, embarrassed.
Second was yesterday, as I struggled to find the words. There was only the void. It was nothing. No prayers, no words could offer an escape: I must confront it. The urgency of the void presents itself as an interruption to the quick solution of another woman, another word, another swipe in a dating app, another temporary and make-shift solution.
Poetry is like punk music.
It doesn’t require technique.
It requires truth.
Before the solitude of poetry,
there was speech.
Each word a prison bar.
The poet bends the bars,
chooses his prison.
choose our own caves.
so that we can dream again.
It is astonishing how everybody in America thinks they know Freud without ever having read anything he has written. I have heard people say, this week, the following: Freud was a homosexual, Freud was addicted to drugs, Freud thought that everything was sexual, etc.
On the one hand, as a Freudian I am tempted to correct the misconception. However, this, in of itself, is a profoundly non-Freudian strategy: it begins with the presumption that interpretation will always hit its mark. Yet, what we learn from Freud is precisely the opposite: we must always stand on guard when it comes to the cut of an interpretation.
On the other hand, there is a temptation to allow people to have their distorted views, while I, on the other hand, can secretly remain firm in my enlightened reading. This is equally problematic because it puts too much faith in the American to sort out their own problems.
Instead, I think it is productive to imagine that the misreading as a symptom. As a symptom of what?
I’ll share with you a story.
When I taught in Toronto, Canada, I found that students were entirely disoriented and they sought from their teachers a point of conviction. The challenge as a professor was to invite the students to risk a dogma, pursue a hypothesis, and establish, provisionally, a point of view.
When I taught in rural Canada, I found that students were too much fixed in their own opinions. Their point of view overwhelmed the professor: the professor’s task was to encourage the students to sustain a time for confusion, to see the world with fresh eyes and to reevaluate their taken-for-granted assumptions.
But when I first arrived in America (the mid-west), I found that students appeared to be very intelligent. I would overhear them make short concise statements about politics, about their chosen field of study, and so on. It seemed to me to be an enlightened opinion. It was humbling. Yet, when I engaged the students in conversation, in dialogue, I realized that what the students were demonstrating was the ability to produce “sound-bite” forms of knowledge. These little chunks of knowledge (what I elsewhere call “American Wisdoms”) can not be circulated or turned around through dialogue with another person. When dialogue is established the superficiality is exposed: it was all a ruse.
This is how epistemes function within the American context. And we would expect the same for those who read Freud: they haven’t actually read anything by Freud, but they latch on, nonetheless, to a little piece of wisdom concerning Freud. These are prepackaged wisdoms handed down to them from their culture.
It is better to understand the culture than to assert one’s superiority in the form of a correction. American’s reject Freud because Freud did not pursue the capitalist discourse, and because, moreover, his work does not lend itself to capitalist discourse.
Today I began working on a new book, provisional title: “Gender Theory on the Mobius Strip: Psychoanalytic Sociology & Meta-Theory”
She sits drinking coffee,
A book beside a cortado – the perfect photograph;
Oh you who I could have loved – and you who knew it!
We shared business cards, and then stayed up all night sharing our pain.
Orgasmic, infinite jouissance – the pain of an entire night of sex.
Was it the triumph of depression or did we fail
in our duty to speak well?
It is the pagan-women who appear before me with their demands
they are ready-made objects to exchange for the jouissance
of the void.
And I, for them.
Like my last marriage: ‘in and out.’
My new book – now with the dedication section changed!