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January 28, 2007


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"--ultimately, the 9/11 truth phenomena indicate what happens to credibility under the conditions of the lack of symbolic efficiency: there isn't a signifier strong enough to hold together a discourse within which credibility might emerge."

You mean it's often difficult to determine the veracity of statements made by an extremely powerful and ruthless ruling class and its omnipresent mass media. But is this news? And are you making the task of opposition any easier by denoting as
"hysterical discourse" any attempt to do so?

"--I think that these tensions, their overwhelming and irreconciliable nature, are what enable the hysterical discourse to shift into something else, a paranoid or psychotic one."

Perhaps you're overwhelmed; but are you saying that Thompson and the Jersey Girls are overwhelmed too? If so, why? And in what way (precisely) is their "discourse" "hysterical"? When and how (examples, please) does this "discourse" "shift into something else, a paranoid or psychotic one"?

Finally, why are you so determined to pathologise these people? And what qualfies you to diagnose their alleged illness?


W--I've answered you time and again on these matters. The terms are not pathologizations--they are terms of art taken from Lacanian psychoanalysis; I'm discussing discourses. In Lacanian terminology, democracy as such is hysterical because it challenges the Master (again, this is not a pathologization). The shift toward paranoia/psychosis appears when an emphasis on certainty displaces questioning and looking for answers. As I've mentioned before, you can read my book Publicity's Secret for more elaboration. For discussion of the discourses, look at my book Zizek's Politics.


"The terms are not pathologizations--they are terms of art taken from Lacanian psychoanalysis"

Does that include "psychosis" and "paranoia"? I don't think so. Like "university" and "hysterical", these terms are part of everyday language - and at least three of them have undeniably, unshiftably, severely negative connotations, precisely because they are pathologisations - in Freudian discourse, in Lacanian discourse, in legal discourse, in political discourse, in everday speech.

So: are Thompson and the Jersey Widows hysterical, paranoid or psychotic? Which is it? You elide the distinction, suggesting that the first condition "drifts" into one or both of the latter, though you don't say how, or when, or in which particular case. The defactualisation of analysis goes hand-in-hand with the pathologisation of the questioners. In any case: under no circumstances whatsoever - not even in Lacanian discourse - do any of these three terms indicate a good way to be, a condition worth striving towards; on the contrary. So none of these words (epithets) can used as "terms of art" by Lacan or by you without continuing to carry some very heavy baggage indeed. And to describe a discourse as hysterical, paranoid, psychotic - or therapeutic, or indeed academic - is of course to engage in a value judgment. Of course it is.

"; I'm discussing discourses"

Well, you are not merely discussing them; you are *engaging in* one particular type of discourse, a Lacanian discourse. You are venturing a diagnosis from a "university" standpoint (and a self-appointed "therapeutic" one). No one is obliged to accept that diagnosis or to leave that discourse uncontested. Other discourses and types of discourse are possible, and indeed necessary, unless the statements of the powerful are to remain uncontested.

"The shift toward paranoia/psychosis appears when an emphasis on certainty displaces questioning and looking for answers."

None of the people you mention - neither Paul Thompson nor any of the Jersey Girls - "emphasises certainty", whatever exactly that might mean. They are, precisely, questioning and looking for answers - certainly no less than you or Lacan. And there is little sense in looking for answers unless you are expecting to find them, or some of them, eventually. (The difficulty of eliciting the truth about 9/11 is not an epistemological issue - or do you think it is?) But then, you suggest that "questioning and looking for answers" is itself "hysterical", because it "follows the discourse of the hysteric, a democratic discourse, in trying to reveal secrets and uncover the truth". By this definition, the police were also following "the discourse of the hysteric" when they investigated Enron, and Congress was also following "the discourse of the hysteric" when it investigated Iran/Contra.

Question: In approaching the issue of 9/11, what should Paul Thompson and the Jersey Girls be doing instead? (I know your answer will not be "marching", so I'm really curious to know what it is.)

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