classic_symptom (classic_symptom) wrote in sublimethinking,

I've heard a lot of commentary on the relationship between Deleuze and Lacan, and there are a few things I'm trying to get straight. Hopefully someone here will know enough about the two to help me out. I'm going to outline my understanding of their relationship to the best of knowledge with the hope of figuring if I'm in the wrong direction.

I've read in one place that Deleuze "critically incorporates the work of Lacan" and in another place that he "wipes the floor with psychoanalysis." He was clearly critical of psychoanalysis in general, but the Introduction (it might be the Preface) of Anti-Oedipus comments parenthetically that Deleuze was more ambivalent about Lacan than other psychoanalysts, which seems to cast some doubt on the position that he was solely hostile. I've heard elsewhere that Deleuze has a more "positive" epistemology in which subjectivity is an active, self-proliferating force, as opposed to Lacan's more "negative epistemology", in which the formation of subjectivity is the result of the instating of a lack in the nascent subject, and that the resultant, uniquely human subjectivity is simply the subject's attempt to retain a lost, primal enjoyment.

Lacan argues that the "master signifier", the Name of the Father or the "Phallic Signifier", needed to get the job done, is essential to the formation of subjectivity. Without this instating of desire-as-lack (i.e., "this is mine, you can't have it, find your own") the would-be subject is just autistic, catatonic, psychotic, etc. The lack, the realization by the subject that he or she is lacking in something, sets the wheels of desire into motion as the subject sets out to attain the lost object (never to attain it, lest subjectivity cease).

Deleuze seems to frame psychoanalysis as complicit with capitalism and oppressive, bureaucratic culture. He sees a schizophrenic (a psychotic) as someone who is able to resist the oppressive (and in his opinion, unnecessary as far as subjectivity is concerned) master signifier of the phallus, but who then has no foundation on which to stand, and thus crumbles into madness. Deleuze instead seems to suggest that the patient break from the shackles of an authoritarian culture, fully individuate himself, and embrace a newer, healthier life-philosophy (exactly how this subjectivity would look as opposed to the one proposed by Lacan, I'm not sure).

Didn't Lacan chastise the "American", "capitalist", "conformist" values of ego psychologists and argue that the analyst was supposed to help individuate the patient and help him find the "cause of his own desire?" Did Deleuze necessarily consider Lacanian psychoanalysis an "authoritarian" institution in in spite of Lacan's revolutionary, anti-conformist tone?

I see in the debate between them a parallel of the rationalist/empiricist debate. Lacan would be a rationalist (Dylan Evans associates him with such a position in A Introductory Dictionary to Lacanian Psychoanalysis) and Deleuze would be the radical empiricist (indeed, he self-identifies as such). My thought is that the notion of the phallic signifier as constitutive of subjectivity proceeds from an a priori, rationalist standpoint which Deleuze instead sees as arbitrarily imposed (it's hard to determine empirically whether or not the subject has been "barred" by the phallic signifier). That said, can the two positions be reconciled? Deleuze is (in)famous for his "bastard" readings of old thinkers, which seek to bring out their revolutionary potential (as he does, for example, with the arch-rationalists, Spinoza and Leibniz).
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