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The Adventures of a Partial Analysis

Internationale Situationniste #10 (March 1966)

Translated by Reuben Keehan

THE DISCOVERIES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS, like the thought of Freud, are at the end of the day unacceptable to the dominant social order — for any society founded on a repressive hierarchy. But Freud's "centrist" position, stemming from his absolute and supra-temporal identification of "civilization" with repression through the exploitation of labor, and therefore his handling of a partial critical truth inside a total non-critical system, led psychoanalysis to be officially "recognized" across all the degraded variants that it would inspire, without, however, being accepted in its truth: its potential critical usage. Of course, this failure is not exactly attributable to Freud, but rather to the collapse of the revolutionary movement of the 1920s, the only force that could have brought the critical data of psychoanalysis to its realization. The period of extreme reaction that followed in Europe drove off even the partisans of psychoanalytic "centrism." The psychoanalytic debris that are, in the West at least, currently fashionable, all developed out of this initial resignation, which made acceptable as verbiage that which could not be accepted in its critical authenticity. By agreeing to give up its revolutionary edge, psychoanalysis was gave itself up for use by all the guardians of the existing sleep, and, at the same time, opened itself up to rebuke for its insufficiency by ordinary psychiatrists and moralists.

Thus Professor Baruk, who has been known to boast of working nearly half a century of wonders as the head doctor at Charendon, attracted a lot of attention in the very first session of the Bichat symposium, when he assailed psychoanalysis — thinking he'd found something much better — by reproaching Freud for having sought no other solution than "the satisfaction of the individual to the detriment of society." But at the same time, other defenders of society have for five years conducted experiments, which the Council finds particularly moving, with a systematic psychoanalysis of every Benedictine in a monastery in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Under the volcano,1 the collected rabble of the asylums and neo-Roman Teilhardism2 strive to recuperate the memories of one of the most redoubtable explosions yet to have begun making the moral order tremble. And for the admiration of idiots in the salons of Paris, Lacan reprises Heidegger's formula (which has been so successful lately that even the finest spirits refuse to admit that such a profound thinker could really have been a Nazi). Between them, and with no other motive than that of dazzling the gallery, Heidegger and Lacan carry out the obscure dispersal of language that they discovered in the final phase of modern poetic writing (this is where this dispersal had a deeper meaning). They take on this style at the height of their literary talent, but within their "discipline." It is thus the supposed seriousness of the philosopher or the psychoanalyst that validates the obscurity of recent poetry, which was criticized so much as a gratuitous game detrimental to the comfort of the reader. But the return to obscurity, now truly hollow and pompous, covers the emptiness of their words, and allows both to mount the cultural show of the continuation of those old philosophical forms of separate thought, which have for a long time been separated from thought, petrified, dead. Modernism's new clothes were sewn in Pompeii.

1. The title of the 1947 novel by Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957), set in Cuernavaca, especially popular with the Lettrist International.
2. Theories of Pierre Tailhard de Chardin (1881-1955), a French Jesuit who attempted to blend science and Christianity.