Winter 2010- Introduction to Topology and Psychoanalysis

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Topology and Psychoanalysis: The Problem of Presentation

Starting Date-Ending Date: Saturday, Feb.27, 2010 to May. 30, 2010.
Time: 12:00 noon on the last Saturday of every month.
Duration: 2-3 hours
Place: Santa Monica
Session/Year: Winter 2010
Instructor(s): Robert Groome and Guest Speakers
Course Length: 20 weeks
Contact Hours: 15 hours
Texts: Selected texts of Freud and Lacan (precise texts to be announced)
Course Prerequisites: Application Form/ Interview

Course Description

Since Lacan's return to Freud it is no longer possible to assume an analytic practice and theory in the same way. Rather than claiming to go beyond Freud in a neo- or post-Freudian therapy, or rejecting analysis altogether as 'non-science', it is necessary to isolate what analysis comes to bear upon. Yet, what is perilous is to read Freud today speculatively: that is to say, to remain within the transfers of analysis, its commerce, and institutionalization without acknowledging the insufficiency of such a position. For if the motor of analysis is the transfer, this is not to say that being in a transfer guarantees that analysis has effectively taken place. Indeed, one may remain a very long time in an analytic transfer without the least bit of analysis (see Freud's Analysis Terminable and Interminable). What our course and intervention aims to account for is how and why Lacan introduced topology as a way to effectively isolate the taking place of analysis.

As an initial probe, in proclaiming, "Analysis here" – there is already a crucial difference between an identity and its presentation. This difference is crucial: the difference between the presence of an analytic act and its absence makes room for a fantasy, or more extensively, the fantasy object of analysis. One way to deny the fantasy of analysis and the problem it poses, is to suppose that the theory of analysis is already present in the institute, in the library, and in the mind of the analyst. It is not a question of de-supposing such knowledge – this would be to deny the transfer – but of determining a just mode of working with it. Indeed, should the problem of presentation be taken for granted, then the naive idea that all one need do is apply a psychoanalytic knowledge is met with predictable obstacles. For neither the absence nor the unreality of the fantasy will have effectively been given a place in the construction of a theory. What is perilous in such a detour is that the fantasy of analysis will have been replaced by the idea of analysis: a dis-incarnate Geist or Spirit of Freud that an institute and its disciples propagate as a heritage. Paradoxically, it is precisely in such a 'spiritualization' that one may read psychoanalysis counter Freud in order to assimilate it into being just one more sub-discipline of psychology and psychotherapy – and not as implicating a fantasy and real that is both anti-psychological and beyond a concept of Man. Here one may also read psychoanalysis counter Lacan by claiming him "too intellectual" or "too theoretical", and thus not amenable to the technician's dream of 'applied psychoanalysis'. Yet, to attempt to practice analytic theory at the 'applied' level, is to remain within the transfer – not to construct it – and to adopt the position of ritual: a neutralization and acting out of the fantasy of analysis as both self-knowledge and an access to the secret power of a commercial and educative filation. Within such a 'practical' framework the formation of a psychoanalytic theory, if there still is one, is reduced to a general set of codes and conventions that either works absolutely – in the charm and discourse of a Master – or does not work at all. For in such a discourse, there is no need to introduce the anxiety of a subjective position that the presentation of an analytic theory implies. On the contrary, for a psycho-technician locked in the transfer, the presentation of a theory may be by-passed, or rather theory is only re-presented and read objectively, while the analytic session itself is reduced to the expression of emotions having more to do with acting lessons than the analytic act. The word 'theory' in such cases means nothing more than the philosopher's 'idea' – a dis-incarnate and contemplative idea of theory that does not isolate the fantasy as implying an absence, a body, language, or imaginary necessary to its presentation and practice. By confusing a psychoanalytic theory with a psychoanalytic philosophy, by assimilating the presentation of an analytic theory to a discussion or expression of ideas, the modern day technician can only practice analysis by re-incarnating its 'spirit' in the guise of 'others' – as patients and clients. We will call this dominant idea of analysis an ideology, while adopting the position of Lacan that "what the ideology of psychoanalysis suffers from today is the lack of an adequate topology".

Our course aims to introduce an adequate topology for the practice of an analytic theory. The extent of the course will cover three main theories: 1) Graphs, 2) Surfaces, and 3) Knots. Although these three theories correspond to periods of the analytic work of Lacan, our emphasis is not of a historical or erudite level. Rather we will show how each of these theories correspond to a psychoanalytic notion, respectively, 1)' Symptom, 2)' Libido-Fantasy, and 3)' Drive. We will supplement the classes with readings from Lacan and Freud.

Weekly Outline (to follow)

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This course allows guest users to enter  This course requires an enrolment key