Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Japan and Lacan

This just in from Sally Suzuki:
Beholdmyswarthyface,
I thought you might be interested in these two articles on Lacan and Japan:
1. Shingu Kazushige, "Freud, Lacan and Japan" (2005)
2. Ogasawara Shin'ya's rather opaque "The Instance of the Letter in the Japanese Unconscious" (1996, translated from French).
Lacan’s argument, I think, goes like this:
a. Without repression, there is no need for psychoanalysis.
b. The Japanese language, because it is split into two "modes of satisfaction," i.e. onyomi (text) and kunyomi (speech), "frustrates the process of true repression" (Kazushige, 53).
c. The subject is always torn between these "duplicities of register," ensuring that “whoever speaks Japanese speaks another language [i.e., Chinese] without even knowing it.”
d. Forever poised between these two readings, the Japanese are “the limit of analyzability.”
I’m still not quite sure how he gets from “c” to “d.” Shingu then elaborates on the social dimension of this split in subject:
Divided not only in speech and writing, the Japanese subject is fragmented in the formality system of the Japanese language, in which a variety of modal expressions indicate social situation, and grammar requires different declensions according to these modalities; there are also multiple terms for the first-, second-, and third-person pronouns. Notwithstanding this fragmentation, or more correctly, owing to it, the Japanese subject maintains unity through a principle of constellation: the Japanese see themselves reflected in the social-institutional hierarchy, which they perceive as being as eternal as the celestial bodies. Thus, the Japanese seem to be exempt from the anxiety of aphanisis that arises at certain times in life. For such people, psychoanalysis is neither necessary nor possible (Shingu, 53).
I'm still not very well versed in Lacanian terminology, so let me spend some time with this and get back to you in a few days. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at this.
Yours,
Sally Suzuki, Beholdmyswarthyface Media Director

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sally Suzuki's certainly doing her fair share for this blog.

Beholdmyswarthyface, when are you going to start doing yours!? I haven't seen an original post from you in ages!

-Ian Hogarth