A few days ago, Sinthome from Larval Subjects wrote a beautiful reflection on the capacity to desire difference, which led Joseph Kugelmass to offer an intriguing response, which prompted both Sinthome and me to ask for more information. Joseph has now provided this, in a post over the Kugelmass Episodes – Sinthome has responded, and I’ve tossed in comments at both sites… I thought it might be time to post a pointer over here.
The original post in this conversation was Sinthome’s “I Think You’re All Lunatics”, which offers a series of meditations around the theme:
Of course I can say abstractly that I desire difference, that I aim for difference, that I would like to promote difference. But the simple fact that I, for the most part, encounter each and every person that I talk to as being mad reveals, I think, the truth. I confuse the symptoms of others– or better yet, the sinthomes of others, their unique way of getting jouissance –with insanity. I am confusing difference with madness.
Joseph’s response included a series of lines that piqued both Sinthome’s interest and my own:
I hope for a common project of sanity emerging from a common recognition of one’s own madness. A madness that lacks even the distinction of being individual, being one’s own possession.
Joseph elaborates on these comments in his post “We’re All Mad Here”, which reflects, among many other things, on the issue of guilt in critical discourse:
The problem of difference, and the desire for difference, and a feeling of guilt over not desiring difference enough, is not just a Lacanian problem. It is really the major source of guilt and anxiety fueling the majority of postmodern writing, which, taken together, constitutes a canon that has practically no other subject besides self-incriminating, self-ironizing anxiety.
Sinthome picks up on Joseph’s post in “An Episode of the Kugelmass Show”, and asks whether the breakdown of stability or order within our social context has caused a collapse of meaning at the individual level:
There has been a collapse of our sense of who we are as individuals, (the “selfness of our self” as Kierkegaard might say), the orderliness or lawfulness of the world, and of purposes and goals. Or maybe this is just me. I cannot seem to find any fixity for my identity. I am suspicious of any goals I set for myself, suspecting some hidden catch behind them. And the world appears chaotic to me. Where is the joy in schizophrenic processes of desiring-production promised to me by Deleuze and Guattari? Why do I experience this as so anxiety provoking?
I’ve responded at Larval Subjects with some reflections on the different ways in which conventional sociological theory, and critical theory, understands the connection between dynamic, differentiated and complex societies, and the generation of certain forms of dysfunction. And I’ve posted a quick additional thought over at the Kugelmass Episodes on whether the category of “difference” might be understood as normatively underdetermined.
Thought it was high time I posted a pointer to the conversation…