Psychoanalysis

Six Theses on Anxiety & the Prevention of Militancy

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Today’s public secret is that everyone is anxious. Anxiety has spread from its pre­vious loc­al­ised loc­a­tions (such as sexu­ality) to the whole of the so­cial field. All forms of in­tensity, self-​expression, emo­tional con­nec­tion, im­me­diacy, and en­joy­ment are now laced with anxiety. It has be­come the linchpin of sub­or­din­a­tion. One major part of the so­cial un­der­pin­ning of anxiety is the multi-​faceted om­ni­present web of sur­veil­lance. The NSA, CCTV, per­form­ance man­age­ment re­views, the Job Centre, the priv­ileges system in the prisons, the con­stant ex­am­in­a­tion and clas­si­fic­a­tion of the youngest school­chil­dren. But this ob­vious web is only the outer car­a­pace. We need to think about the ways in which a neo­lib­eral idea of suc­cess in­cul­cates these sur­veil­lance mech­an­isms in­side the sub­jectiv­ities and life-​stories of most of the population.

The Dreadful Dr Freud

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Macedonian writer and Gender Studies de­votee, Goce Smilevski, draws in his latest novel on an al­leged episode from the life of Sigmund Freud to show that the founder of psy­cho­ana­lysis was a miso­gyn­istic per­vert, fas­cin­ated by Nazism, and ob­sessed with money and mas­turb­a­tion: in short, a re­pulsive char­acter. To do so, he has con­structed a novel written in…

Immigration Manhunts and British Post-​Colonial Identity

No I will not show you my papers

Last week the British government’s Border Agency (UKBA) pushed its new and con­tro­ver­sial “go home” cam­paign into full ef­fect along with an ac­com­pa­nying, and highly cri­ti­cized im­mig­ra­tion stop and search at sev­eral London tube sta­tions. The vast ma­jority of the cri­ti­cism to UKBA’s cam­paign has been largely fo­cused on the basic premises that the Tories are…

Law and The Senses: Symposium, Performance, Phenomenon?

Pietro Paolini - Allegory of the Five Senses

The an­nounce­ment of the event ‘Law and the Senses’ at the University of Westminster sounded in­triguing. The call for pa­pers asked: What is Law’s re­la­tion­ship to senses? In a sense, Law, the an­aes­thetic par ex­cel­lence, is con­stantly en­gaged in numbing the sense into common sense; ma­nip­u­lating, chan­nel­ling and con­trolling the sens­ible; in­serting prop­er­ties and for­bid­ding con­tacts; dis­sim­u­lating vi­ol­ence, reg­u­lating sounds…

Seven Theses on Human Rights: (6) Desire

Portrait

Liberal the­ories from Immanuel Kant to John Rawls present the self as a sol­itary and ra­tional en­tity en­dowed with nat­ural char­ac­ter­istics and rights and in full con­trol of him­self. Rights to life, liberty, and prop­erty are presented as in­tegral to humanity’s well-​being. The so­cial con­tract (or its heur­istic re­state­ment through the “ori­ginal po­s­i­tion”) cre­ates so­ciety and…

The Lacanian Trials

Jacques Lacan

The 30th an­niversary of Lacan’s death in September 2011 was marked by an “in­tel­lec­tual dis­pute,” one which was not settled in the sphere of ideas or public aca­demic de­bate, but in a de­fam­a­tion trial in the French crim­inal courts. While a still on-​going war of pe­ti­tions and law­suits is partly in­formed by in­di­vidual rival­ries, the jur­idical scope…

Lincoln Unchained: Is Obama the Global Uncle Tom?

Samuel Jackon as Stephen in Django Unchained

Beware. This art­icle con­tains spoilers. Let’s start with a self-​evident af­firm­a­tion. Movies, or more pre­cisely Hollywood, is the ul­ti­mate con­trap­tion of he­ge­monic ideo­lo­gical dif­fu­sion. The proph­etic dysto­pias in which secret po­lice would place the mech­an­isms of con­trol in­side the private realm of people, fall way short of the in­trusive vi­ol­ence of today’s reality. Now we pay…

Coughing out the Law: Perversity and Sociality around an Eating Table

Ham Sandwich

It was lunch­time at Sydney’s David Jones, Australia’s up-​market de­part­ment store chain. So I headed down to the ‘food floor’. Whenever I have to shop at DJs I try to make sure I go there around midday, pre­cisely so I can go down to the food floor and order the ex­cep­tion­ally suc­cu­lent off the bone ham sand­wich at the roast…

Compliance: The Uncomfortable Reality of Docile Bodies

Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (1736–1806), Coup d’oeil du Théâtre de Besançon, 1804

The movie ‘Compliance’ is dis­turbing on many dif­ferent levels, and left me with a feeling of ex­treme dis­com­fort, and even dis­or­i­ent­a­tion, long after the credits rolled, no less be­cause it is based on true events, re­ferred to by the American media as the “strip search prank call scam’. As the story un­folds in the movie in the same se­quence as it did in reality, Sandra, the man­ager of an Ohio “Chickwich” fast-​food outlet, re­ceives a call from a man falsely claiming to be a po­lice de­tective. Referring to him­self as “Officer Daniels” or “Sir”, he ac­cuses a young fe­male cashier, Becky, of stealing money from a cus­tomer. He then en­lists Sandra’s as­sist­ance in phys­ic­ally de­taining Becky in the store room of the outlet and strip-​searching her. Sandra and two other em­ployees are caught up in events that be­come in­creas­ingly un­set­tling, es­calate throughout, and ul­ti­mately cul­minate in the de­grading sexual abuse and hu­mi­li­ation of Becky by Sandra’s boy­friend, Van.

Ireland, Suicide and the Virtual Reality of a Political Elite

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It has been ap­parent to many people in Ireland, across Europe and much fur­ther afield that the pro­fes­sional polit­ical class are living in a sort of vir­tual reality. [In Ireland] we have a polit­ical system that has been de­scribed as cor­rupt in all areas of public life in the Mahon re­port [a re­port on cor­rup­tion of senior…

Capturing The Social Sciences: An Experiment in Political Epistemology

Bee Orchid

According to the title that iden­ti­fies this panel, we are here to enter into a dis­cus­sion around the pro­ductive powers of some­thing called “crit­ical theory”. At first sight, cri­tique and pro­ductivity might strike anyone as being op­posite terms. Isn’t cri­tique re­lated to a cer­tain form of neg­at­ivity? To saying “no” to power? And isn’t the de­mands for cap­it­al­istic “pro­ductivity” what some of us cri­ti­cise, or at least at­tempt to do so?

The title of this panel, how­ever, seems to put such a taken-​for-​granted re­la­tion­ship at risk. “The Productive power of crit­ical theory”– can we think of a pro­ductive crit­ic­ality? or a crit­ical pro­ductivity? What might it mean to en­gage in a form of critical-​productive thought and how might such en­gage­ments con­tribute to chal­len­ging and trans­forming our knowledge-​practices within the so­cial sci­ences and the hu­man­ities? These are some of the ques­tions with which I will at­tempt to ex­per­i­ment in what follows.

To be sure, these ques­tions are not new, and many re­searchers and thinkers in the so­cial sci­ences and the hu­man­ities are be­coming in­creas­ingly in­ter­ested in them, to the ex­tent that ar­gu­ably none of the latest so-​called turns within these fields, be it the “on­to­lo­gical turn”, the “prac­tice turn”, the “af­fective turn” and so on, leave the ques­tion of the re­la­tion between cri­tique and pro­ductivity untouched.

War Crimes after the War Ended

Many ethnic German refugees in the east were herded onto freight trains bound.

The his­tory of war crimes is one of the sites of the politics of memory par ex­cel­lence. The ar­range­ments of world politics today still seat on the con­sequences of the Second World War –the per­manent mem­bers of the UN Security Council being one of the more vis­ible. The le­git­imacy of the con­tem­porary world order de­pends to…

To Finn Finn Finn-​Again with Finnegans Wake: Julian Assange’s Radio Interview of 21st December 2010

Julian Assange

The book ends (Fin), only to begin once more (again); James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is the eternal re­turn of its hero, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. This time around, the book may read dif­fer­ently, as it al­ways does, but the basic plot re­mains the same. Whether we’re talking about Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (as Joyce does), Charles Stewart…

Towards a Radical Anti-​Capitalist Schizophrenia?

Francis Bacon second version of triptych 1944–3

Internet shop­ping has entered main­stream cul­ture. Every major cor­por­a­tion in the world has a web site of­fering product in­form­a­tion, in­ter­active ad­vert­ise­ments, and, in­creas­ingly, the ability to buy products on-​line. Discount books, pizza de­livery, stocks, and just about any­thing else you can ima­gine are avail­able for pur­chase in cy­ber­space. Internet based com­merce ex­em­pli­fies and ex­tends the trends…