May 1st, 1998, the New Museum in New York City organized a presentation of the journal lacanian ink at the museum's recently refurbished Bookstore. Readings from recent works included those by writers: Josefina Ayerza, Joan Copjec, Gary Dauphin, Richard Foreman, Peggy Phelan and Raphael Rubinstein.
What follows is my own introductory text to the event:
When I prepared this little talk for you, it was early in the morning. I could see Baltimore through the window and it was a very interesting moment because it was not quite daylight and a neon sign indicated to me every minute the change of time, and naturally there was heavy traffic and I remarked to myself that exactly all that I could see, except for some trees in the distance, was the result of thoughts actively thinking thoughts, where the function played by the subjects was not completely obvious. In any case the so-called Dasein as a definition of the subject, was there in this rather intermittent or fading spectator. The best image to sum up the unconscious is Baltimore in the early morning.
For Lacan, the neon that glitters over Baltimore may well portray the eventuality of a subject - now lapsing, now in error, now a slip of the tongue - for the case arising in the Other through the agency of a window pane. Let the metaphor allow for the jouissance of this subject, inmixing traffic, heavy construction...on behalf of an Otherness that could convey America itself. Lacan's subject comes up against the Ego. Lacan's opponent is that distinctly American phenomenon: Ego-Psychology...So even if we don't want to go as far as to say that America "is" Ego-Psychology - in the sense of Ego-Psychology not being Coke, nor McDonald's - the Ego in the US is far from being the disease that it is with Lacan. The original idea for lacanian ink coincided with the rise and fall of the Paris-New York Workshop. Co-directed by Stuart Schneiderman and Jacques-Alain Miller, the Workshop accounted for the Seminar at Barnard College and yearly meetings. The topic for the 1989 Fourth Annual Meeting at the Alliance Francaise was "Gender and Perversion," the corollary "diversification" - of Paris and New York. Perhaps the point here is not to hint at this event as characteristic of lacanian ink's discourse, but to identify the strategy which animates the emulation of a specific loss. We started translating from the French, from the Spaniards...the subject emerging, if it were triggered by personality - a quality wherein master discourses are just those of a master - it was soon to wane in favor of a different formulation. lacanian ink is Lacan in the US: which doesn't mean we are up to question the theory nor the orientation of authors in the look of Jacques-Alain Miller, Eric Laurent, German Garcia... If the framework is the challenge, its re-evaluation was to further engage consonance with Slavoj Zizek, with Joan Copjec, with Bruce Fink... When psychoanalysis attains by such means a proper rhetoric, it shares the ground of literature. The literature that provides theory with analogies can itself be constructed as theoretical - this is happening in the present discourse of lacanian ink. The duality of the subjective in every day life - in the words of Raphael Rubinstein, Adrian Dannatt, Gary Dauphin - and fiction - by Richard Foreman, Peggy Phelan, John Yau - comes increasingly into play. Poetry - poetry of experimental nature - could be the impasse. The trace of art in lacanian ink operates within another opposition, as writing is supported by images reproduced alongside but not within it. An inferred contiguity, an even conjectural way, as it turns out, the works of art speak for themselves. Images within the text will illustrate while telling stories - as in Alejandro Cassin interviewing Butch Morris. Art criticism brings in an exciting alternative as it picks up on Lacan's discourses - Jan Avgikos and Barry Schwabsky on the theory of the gaze, art history with Paolo Berdini. lacanian ink continued the interrogation of itself and focused on its own name, specially as regards the word Ink. In the second issue I included a paragraph from the book Dictée written by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. I quote:
Something of the Ink that resembles the stain from the interior emptied into emptied upon this boundary this surface. More. Other. When possible ever possible to puncture to scratch to imprint. Ne te cache pas. Revèle toi. Sang. Encre. Of it's body extension of its containment.
If we said that lacanian ink creates a stain in the US cultural landscape, we would be calling on Lacan himself - you know the story - a rare object in the picture, seeing himself seen, in the gaze of a sardine can. Not everyone knows the story...said a friend of mine. Lacan was on vacation at a little port in Brittany. Every day he would go sailing on a very tiny boat with a family of fishermen - and this implied a certain danger. One day, as they were waiting to pull in the nets, one of the men reacted to a small can floating on the surface of the waves, glittering in the sun, by saying: You see that can? Do you see it? Well, it doesn't see you! The claim disquieted Lacan because he could account for the angle from which it was untrue. I quote:
It was looking at me at the level of the point of light, the point at which everything that looks at me is located...
Lacan's remark is not about sensorial perception. It marks the irruption of articulation in the visual field, as it accounts for the "here" and "there," for the "this" and the "that" - for the "I" & and the "It." It looks - in the depths of your eye the picture is painted, but you're not in the picture. You see - means you've stopped looking. What you see is not light but lucent form, the rays of light caught in a network of meanings...like flotsam is caught in the nets of the fishermen, like Baltimore is caught in the window pane. If Lacan was told such a thing, it was because at that moment - as he appeared to those fishermen who were earning their living - he was rather out of place. You see - with Lacan, certain facts can be articulated only in the dimension of the overview by which you situate yourself in the picture as stain; a stain that is a screen - discourses mediate the retina and the world as Lacan's equivocal little stories come afloat in people's words of ambush. (lacanian ink is certainly in this picture if only through Richard Foreman's and David Hayman's hilarious anecdotes in issue 12). Miguel Abreu, handed me the unpublished memoirs of Jean Alvarez de Toledo. In the following passage, the French shipping magnate & art collector tells us of his encounter with Lacan at an art patron's house near Marseilles, where writers and artists often met during the war. I translate and quote:
We were staying at the Pavilion, and on at least three occasions around 11 pm, when you could see a ray of light under my door, Lacan opened it with a violent push, without allowing his quiet footsteps to warn me of his approach. And there he stood in front of me for a few seconds, as to make sure I guess, that I wasn't busy with something other than reading or dreaming.
And this seems to be the French way to say he wasn't masturbating. He adds, "A dangerous loony that would have gotten - from a person other than a 14 year old kid - a pair of slaps or a punch on the face." Lacan says, "If I am anything in the picture it is always in the form of a screen." This screen casts a shadow, sometimes Lacan calls it a scotoma - as in medicine - sometimes a stain, or a spot. Perhaps lacanian ink wants to be to American culture a disquieting object in the form of a stain. Having set out to cause perplexity and desire, lacanian ink should be akin to the function of silence as regards the analyst. The subject divides: the desire to be seen goes together with the desire to see More. The subject divided, between perseverance when the cause is a good one, and obstinancy when the cause is bad, I hope lacanian ink is a blend of perseverance and obstinancy.
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