PSYCHIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL APPARATUSES

When something comes to light, something which we are forced to consider as new, when another structural order emerges… it creates its own perspective within the past, and we say – This can never not have been there, this has existed from the beginning… isn’t that a property which our own experience demonstrates?
— Jacques Lacan (Seminar II, 5)

The ego is first and foremost a bodily ego; it is not merely a surface entity, but is itself the projection of a surface.
— Sigmund Freud, The Ego and the Id

This workgroup seeks to initiate a clinical philosophical thought of contemporary technological reason and its specific forms of mediation with regard to the question of free association. As all aspects of existence are increasingly coming into the fold of technological systematization, how do we begin to articulate the relation between the digital and the symbolic, and render ourselves sensitive to the problems techno-capitalism poses to psychic life today?

The proposal is to start by returning (and renewing) the question of technics and technological operation that stood at the foundation of psychoanalysis and the theory of a psychic apparatus from Freud’s Entwurf to Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Lacan himself utilized this as the conceptual framework, in conjunction with cybernetic information theory, to theorize the symbolic and reinvent the Freudian Ego. We will begin by discussing the work of the German media theorist Friedrich Kittler who has argued for just such a materialist origin of psychoanalysis, and read it alongside selected texts from Freud and Lacan.

Using Kittler’s work as a launchpad, we will move on to consider a tradition of the philosophy of technology that started with Ernst Kapp, whose theory of “organic projection,” while overlooked and widely misunderstood, provided the ground for many key subsequent reflections on modern technology, from Marx, Bergson, Canguilhem, to Leroi-Gourhan, Simondon and Steigler. A wager here is that, thought from this perspective, Freudian psychoanalytic concepts can better elucidate and also help to specify our present age of automation and universal computation.

In order to concretize our discussions, we may anchor them to two areas of clinical concern:
1) To what extent do we need to modify our idea of the Object given that objects of desire are increasingly today digital objects? Here the concern is twofold: a) What is a digital object? b) How do we conceive the kind of mediation the digital is with regard to the Other as a structuring function?
2) Relatedly, how can we understand the reality of networks “on the couch,” i.e. the lives of our patients as the mode of being of network.

Overall, the aim is to develop, out of our different clinical and theoretical resources, a working vocabulary for a psychoanalytically-grounded thought of technology that can contribute to the thought and practice of clinicians of the School.

As this is a workgroup, participation will be limited to 4 persons. Feel free to contact me by email about your interest.
A Provisional list of Texts we may read selections from:
The World of the Symbolic – A World of the Machine, Kittler
Project for a Scientific Psychology, Freud
Seminar II (The Ego in Freud’s Theory), Lacan
Seminar XIII (Object of Psychoanalysis), Lacan
The Information, Gleick
The Digital Age on the Couch, Lemma
Machine and Organism, Canguilhem
Elements of a Philosophy of Technology, Kapp
Logos and Techne, or Telegraphy, Lyotard
Technics and Time, Stiegler
On the Existence of Digital Objects, Hui
Arachnean and Other Texts, Deligny
The Technological System, Ellul
Technical Mentality, Simondon

Faculty: Jeremy Soh
Fee: a hefty charge of your cathexis
Date and Time: TBD, Monthly meetings, Saturday, beginning October 2019
Location: TBD, in person and/or online, depending on participant location and interest.
Contact: sjerem27@gmail.com