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A Forgotten Manuscript? M. Duras’ La Douleur

“J’ai retrouvé ce journal dans deux cahiers des armoires bleues de Neauphle-le-Château. Je n’ai aucun souvenir de l’avoir écrit. Je sais que je l’ai fait, que c’est moi qui l’ai écrit, je reconnais mon écriture et le détail de ce que je raconte, […], mais je ne me vois pas écrivant ce Journal. […] Je ne sais plus rien” (Duras, 1985a: 12). With these words, Duras ensnares the reader. With remarkable clarity, she describes waiting for Robert Antelme. How are we to understand her forgetting of this manuscript? Are we dealing with a Freudian forgetting? Has Duras really forgotten that she wrote her pain? Is it a simple lapsus or can we learn something new about forgetfulness here? Does something like a true forgetting exist, and if so, how should we characterize Duras’ manuscript, forgotten, but nonetheless recognizable? With these questions as signposts, the author moves from Duras’ book La douleur (1985a) to Laure Adler’s biography of Duras.

Violence and Discourse

Using Lacan’s notion of capitalist discourse, the author provides support for the comprehension of actual discontent in our civilisation, for the “new symptoms” and for new forms of violence. Capitalist discourse substitutes the normative function of the law with the ideology of liberty. But the liberated man is isolated and his freedom is deceptive: he is increasingly dependant on the consumption of objects that provide him with a plus-de-jouir. A purely capitalist discourse is nothing but an ultraliberal utopia and its crises can only provoke the return of the master discourse, or worse, of the totalitarian discourse. Psychoanalytic discourse is considered as an alternative, albeit that it requires passage via the hysterical discourse.

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The Mastering of the Drive in African Art and its Collecting: An Interview with Julien Quackelbeen, March, 2006

This interview explores the origins of the African art collection of the psychoanalyst Julien Quackelbeen. A small Ikoko mask of the Pende tribe was the first object in his collection. This was given to him when he was just five years old and was then stolen. In this way it was to become the mythical first object of the collection he has been cultivating for more than seventy years. His fascination for Congolese art lies in what he calls “the mastering of the drive” which this art witnesses so strongly. This mastering of the drive is also implied in collecting in general. Several of its aspects are highlighted: the urge to possess, the financial aspect, fetishism, the viewing pleasure.


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The Psychopathology of Collectors. Some General Remarks on Psychoanalysis and Collecting

In Freudian and post-Freudian theory we find elements for a clinic of the collector. For instance, Karl Abraham’s notion of the “anal character” has been used as a basis for the psychological profile of people who accumulate. But although most collectors do not present with these clinical symptoms, the idea of considering collecting as a pathological profile loses all meaning in a modern world so oriented towards materialism. In our society the collector is almost a prototype for what is considered normal. Therefore, it is not in a psychological sense that we need to look for his singularity, but rather within the context of a specific economy, which we can understand through George Bataille’s definition of a “general economy”. The collector is not a normal consumer because the basic idea of his own economy is not to accumulate but to spend. The problem of the collectors’ economy – that of the true collector – is that it is not based on usefulness or profit but rather on pure loss. In contrast to the behaviour of the miser, the collector’s behaviour could even be considered desirable, highly prized as indeed it was during the Renaissance. It is the extravagance of the person who spends on himself and others with flair and without calculation. But however civilised in our modern world, this virtue is always associated with scandals or even subversion.


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Arnulf Rainer and Outsider Art

The Austrian artist Arnulf Rainer has been collecting outsider art for half a century already. In the Vienna of the 1950s he himself was regarded as a mad outsider. In 1994 Rainer worked with psychotic artists at the mental hospital in Gugging. His interest is not so much in the visual aspect of outsider art, but rather in the way madness moves the hand across the page.