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Ideology, the unconscious and dialectics

phils[conversation/interview with Jennifer Izaakson, 21 April 2014]

JI: I can’t believe how much I’m going to have to read. All of the Althusser, all of the Badiou. I wish these people had written less.

AB: Skip Althusser, he’s interesting only in terms of intellectual history not for his work. With Heideggerand Deleuze, skip their own work and read their books and lectures on others. Badiou: just read the maths.

JI: Ha. It’s just to examine Butler and whether ideology is unconscious in the psychoanalytic sense. No, but it isn’t conscious either.

AB: Ideology straddles conscious/unconscious divide. “I’m not racist but” = I know that I am racist but I don’t know that I know.

JI: I’m not sure they do know, because they don’t know what racism is. You explain what racism is, defences kick in and they either pretend to not follow or deny that history means what it does. So I agree racism conscious and non-conscious and does use ego defences. But it’s important to not use the word “unconscious”, because the person’s racism hasn’t been realised or experienced by them and then repressed. Willpower is the real battle ground.

AB: Hallward‘s the screaming voluntarist: he’s the guy on will. My tl;dr is: Fichte, yay! Schopenhauer, boo! See my Fichte dissertation. Osborne’s How To Read Marx is good, ignore the depoliticising introduction tho, ditto Balibar’s Philosophy of Marx. I’m writing 10,000 words on the dialectic for isreview.org [fingers crossed, deep breath].

JI: I’ll do a book on dialectics and psychoanalysis. I’m not sure there’s much of a relationship or anything dialectical about the unconscious.

AB: Il n’y a pas de rapport… I agree. That’s Badiou’s point too, the radical non-relationship between subject and object of desire, between unconscious process and dialectical stage.

JI: I don’t have the rapport…? I don’t do French! I got 0 in my French oral. ZERO. I said my friend’s sister was black when she was white!

AB: “il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel” = there is no sexual relationship, Lacan‘s great dictum, often shortened to “il n’y a pas de rapport” ie there is no relationship ie anti-dialectics. [My French is rubbish too, by the way, and I got a B in my French O-level oral, blotting my copybook. Not good at languages me.]

JI: Hm, I would’ve thought Lacan would’ve loved idea of dialectics in the unconscious.

AB: No, Žižek and Badiou represent opposites on this question. Žižek takes Lacan back to Hegel while Badiou takes Lacan forward by replacing dialectics with mathematics: “formalisation is our goal, our ideal” as Lacan put it.

● conversation with Ian Birchall about Sartre v Freud
● previous conversation with Jennifer on Descartes, Husserl, Derrida

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This entry was posted on 23 April 2014 by in Philosophy, Psychoanalysis and tagged , , , .
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