Re: Freud & Foucault (was: post-isms)

On Sat, 15 Jul 1995, Penelope Ironstone-Catterall wrote:

> To the best of my knowledge, this is the only time that F. takes on Freud
> directly, but this is not to say that this is it in terms of the
> psychoanalystt's influence. But I don't like to think in terms of influnces,
> as I am a renagade comparatist that prefers to think of these things a being
> much more complex, especially when in comes to Freud. In the long quote
> above, Foucault does point to Freud as initiating an epistemic shift in the
> means and ends of psychiatry through the introduction of the psychoanalytic
> situation. But this nod, as it were, in Freud's direction is immediately met
> with a faily stern criticism.
> Is it fair to say that this is the manner in which Freud's work is addressed
> by Foucault, despite his infrequent mention of him? I think it is fair to say
> that Freud is handled by Foucault with a grain of salt, that he is troubled
> by the domain d'objet that psychoanalysis forges and/or maps out for itself.
> Then we might ask the question: What does Foucault take from psychoanalysis?
> (We could ask similar questions of Nietzsche, Marx, Durkheim and Mauss,
> Hegel, Sade, Blanchot, Bataille, Klossowski, and Peirce.) What status does
> Foucault give, or not, to the unconscious? What about desire? The drives?
> Mapping out direct relationships, I think, would be next to impossible given
> the veritable melange that Foucault presents to us and had at his disposal.
> But I would be interested to see what can be made of, particularly, the last
> three questions.
> Penelope Ironstone-Catterall

I wouldn't go so far as to say that Foucault handles Freud with a grain
of salt, rhater when Freud does make an appearance its as a signpost for
a broader effect in which he paticipates without constituting this effect
in its clarity or at it most dynamic point. I'm not sure that either of
these examples will fit with what you were driving at because Foucault
doesn' take Freud on directly but Freud does come up in "Nietzsche,
Freud, Marx" and in _Dream Imagination and Existence_. In both cases
Freud is used to demarcate the beginnings of a epistemic cleavage, but in
the first case he's quickly left behind and even ignored in favor of
Nietzsche and in the second he's set in opposition to Husserl. As an
interesting side note some of the ambiguity surrounding the sense of
modernity/post-modernity is a result of Foucault locating the beginning
of the episteme in which we ourselves participate in the nineteenth
century with Nietzsche, Marx and Freud, for this at one and the same time
determines a modernity which is necessarily distinct from high modernism
and this is accomplished according to a "post-modern" maneuver wherein
tradition, which had been placed in suspence by the the enlightenment
and high modernism, is recuperated and transformed. For instance in NFM
Cartesian semiology has been overcome by the reconstitution of the
interpretive techniques of the sixteenth century, though these
techniques have been transformed so as to constitute an open
rather than a closed space.

Actually, I spoke too soon before because in _Dream Imagination and
Existence_ Freud isn't placed at the beginning of the rupture but at the
end of the old episteme. There are even a couple of points where
Freudian analysis comes off as almost mechanistic and definitly all too
Cartesian in its methodology: "The image is exhausted in the
multiplicity of meanings. Its morphological structure, the space in
which it deploys itself, its temporal rythm of development, in short, the
world which it bears with it, all these count for nothing if they are not
allusions to these meanings. In other words, the language of the dream
is analysed only in its semantic function. Freudian analysis leaves its
morphological and syntactic structure in the dark. The distance between
meaning and image is closed, in the analytic interpretation, only by an
excess of meaning; the image in its fullness is determined by
over-determination. The peculiarly imaginative dimension of the
meaningful expression is completely omitted." And then a bit latter:
"Freudian analysis retrieves only one meaning among the many possible
meanings by the shortcut of divination or the longer route of
probablity. The expressive act itself is never reconstituted in its
necessity." Against the Freudian symbol as an "objective index" or a
"global signification" Foucault situates Husserl and the symbol as a
suppliment and remainder: "One and the same feature characterizesa
symbol (such as a mathematical sign), a word, or an image, whether the
word or the symbol be uttered or written, whether we abandon oursleves to
the train of discourse or to the imagination's dreaming; something new
arises outside us, a little different from what we expected, by virtue of
the reistance offered by imaginary matterial, verbal or symbolic, and
also by implicaitons offered by the thing now constituted as
significant..." Very quickly Foucault will abandon Husserl in turn, for
while Freud constitutes the symbol/dream image as a strictly exterior
function, an objective index to which the analysist has privalged access
but not the person in which this experience occures, Husserl is incapable
of doing more than reversing this state of affairs such that the symbol
becomes and exhausted interior space. "To understand something or
someone is thus definable in phenomenology only as a new grasp in the
mode of interiority, a way of inhabiting the expressive act, a method for
reinstating oneself within it, never an attempt to situate it in its own

In passing by Freud and Husserl Foucault is making way for Binswanger, or
he's attempting to address the possibilities of a phenomenological
anthopology. Though this essay is called an introduction to Binswanger's
_Dream and Existence_ Foucault points out that he's not writing an
introduction in the traditional sense but rahter he's "writing in the
margins" of Binswanger's essay in an attempt address the issue that B was
responding to. While Freud was able to restore a psychological dimension
to the dream he was unable to understand the dream as an experience, and
the dream as a determinate experience is precisely what Binswanger was
responding to (This at least is Foucault's account, I haven't yet read
enough Binswanger to make the call either way). To a certain extent
Foucault sidesteps Binswanger on this in the same manner that he took up
and then left behind both Freud and Husserl, for its not so much that
Binswanger has discovered something previously unknown about dreams,
rather he opens again the space in which the dream can be understood not
as an indication of consciousness but as a form of experience itself.

If you're still with me through my stuttering meanderings I think I can
offr at least a possible answer to the question of the status of the
unconscious. When viewed from the perspective of a psychological end the
dream becomes exhaustively limited, the unconscious acts only as an index
for the conscious referent, and the final analysis of over-detrminationis
the sepage to the surface of that which was hidden. But the dream, the
unconscious (?) is like a mountain range with wide open vistas, shear
cliffs and hidden valleys. Or, to play the Heideggarian card, the dream
and its meanings are concealed in their revelations and any
interpretation that would arrest the dream into a known and determinate
quantity must necessarily miss the point. "One cannot apply the
classical dichotomies of immanence and transcendance, of subjectivity and
objectivity. The transcendance of the dream world of which we spoke
earlier cannot be defined in terms of objectivity, and it would be futile
to reduce it, in the name of 'subjectivity,' to a mystifying form of
immanence. In and by its transcendance the dream discloses the original
movement by which existence, in its irreducible solitude, projects itself
toward a world which constitutes itself as the setting of its history."

One more little aside here and I'll be done. I started rereading dream
Imagination and Existence last week in responce to the thread about
writing to become someone else. I'm still kind of flailing with this but
there's definitly something here between the "experience book" and the
dream as a form of experience. In the dream the conscious and the
unconscious mix and mingle such that they are no longer the same
irrevocably. From the perspective of dreaming the relation between the
dream and the imagination goes from the unconscious to consciousness. But
what would happen if we reveresed this, if we went from consciousness to
unconsciousness, from imagination to the dream? Though here its not in
relation to writing Foucault seems to offermaybe not an answer but a
direction in which such a question could be followed an: "Through what
it imagines...consciousness aims at the original movement which discloses
itself in dreams. Thus, dreaming is not a singularly powerful and vivid
form of imagining. On the contrary, imagining is to take aim at oneself
in the moment of dreaming; it is to dream oneself dreaming." Could
writing then be the act of dreaming oneself dreaming?


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