Publication Date

April 2019


Jonathan Cutler




English (United States)


No framework is neutral; each has a strategic way of seeing that poses its own problems, determining what answers are possible. Psychoanalysis is no exception—and its problems and answers are always problems and answers of desire. I will be posing the problems of psychoanalytic depth and Jouissance differently so as to generate different possibilities, ones that do not take for granted a transhistorical psychology nor the essential truth of desire. By expanding Bersani’s account of subjectivity using other theorists, most notably Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser, I will frame the problem of depth and the Jouissance it seems to contain as the historical effect and instrument of larger knowledge/power structures, or in Althusser’s sense, of material ideological subjectivation. This, in my opinion, allows for more generative modes of conceptualizing who we are and how we might try not to be. In making this argument, I demonstrate that psychoanalysis’s way of seeing (or, at least a strategic adoption of it) in facts works towards reinforcing the configuration of deep and desiring subjectivity Foucault and Bersani are both interested in leaving behind. However, as Foucault writes in The History of Sexuality, “we must make allowance for the complex and unstable process whereby discourse can be both an instrument and an effect of power, but also a hindrance, a stumbling block, a point of resistance and a starting point for an opposing strategy.” (101). I see psychoanalysis as one such possible starting point.



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