You Gotta Keep 'em Separated: On the Avoidance of Alienation in Language or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Find Desire within the Discourse of the Other
Kirk Turner (Deakin University)

March 5, 2019, 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Department of Philosophy, PHI research group, Deakin University

c2.05
221 Burwood Highway
Burwood, Melbourne 3125
Australia

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Deakin University

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If language is a virus from outer space, as William S. Burroughs famously held, then it is no wonder that we are 'condemned,' as Lacan put it, to either side with its meanings or face our own fading (or indeed, lethally, disappearance) as subjects. But are we ever fully at either end of this spectrum: succumbing to the sickness of the word (at the mercy of the Other) or lost in the ostensible aphasia or immunity of Being? Lacan posits in Seminar XI that the subject can find a return way from the forced choice of the vel of alienation via its weak point: through separation. What precisely does this entail in the child's individuating differentiations and in which ways does the unconscious possess an intermediary function? How does the objet a, the 'alien' object, arise from this operation and how do we enjoy it? Moreover, how does the subject ultimately come to be represented – as a signifier for other signifiers – through the early processes of language acquisition involving, as Lacan argues, primary repression and identification with a unary trait? If, as Burroughs states, the word is a parasitic organism and that modern mankind has hence lost the option of silence then what can the 'plague' of the talking cure brought to Clark University by Freud offer when faced with the irrepressible, infectious agent of language? Lacan wagers, namely, on the 'offspring' of a new subject: one which has experienced its own inconsistencies as well as those of the Other.

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Leslie Allan
La Trobe University

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