« GOP Pundits Call Palin Choice Cynical | Main | Palin as continuation of Bush: Guest post by Lori Marso »

September 07, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bob Allen

"neoliberalism wants to replace this subject with an acritical psychotic subject " , a subject that can be plugged into a commodity like Sarah Palin, maybe, her being a construct of not hard work but intention (I mean her sudden rise was not due to decades of national level service, etc, but instead she was "activated" seemingly out of nothing for a specific intent).. this is a fascinating post, and one that clarifies some murkier, for me, concepts having to do with Lacan etc, much appreciated...


hi jodi, i agree with bob, this is a great post. It seems like a book i should probably read. I can certainly see my self in the description of the postmodern subject.

Does Dufour discuss questions of generationalism? The body as a material process of habits has durations or rhythms that 'plug' into various situations, and if a new form of subjectivity exists that are useful (neoliberal) or appropriate (modernist), then it needs to be produced through youth and/or through the biopolitical reconfiguration of adults.

Perhaps this is why the popular discourse of 'kiddults' has emerged when describing narcissitic workplace cultures and infantalising advertising refrains as it seems all the various qualities described above also describe children.

Joe Clement

I wonder if Dufour relates "a border-line neurotic-psychotic state" to Jacques-Alain Miller's notion of "ordinary psychosis."


This is definitely a book I need to check out this month though.

parody center

--an egalitarian drive that negates hard work and celebrates intention as what really matters (thus supporting the illusion that we are all really creative and that are lives are works of art)

this rings true. in my horrid last job experience the official mantra that everybody had to receive in the form of proselytism was that we're all equal and that our equality matters more than the result of the work (which was mediocre by default). in fact true creative excellence is frowned upon, because it disturbs the ''egalitarianism''.

And neoliberalism wants to replace this subject with an acritical psychotic subject that will be receptive to commodities and communicative flows.

well that's what happens when you invaginate men and let wymin take over with their diffuse power and uncontrollable flow. i'm not arguing for a return to fuckwad patriarchalism, but the rule of the Vagina Monologues isn't fun either.

Joe Clement

This Alter-Net article connects well with the book:


Joe Clement

I'm glad I just got through the section on hysterology. The comment I quote below appeared today under Alter-Net's main article, "Amid a Painful Economic Meltdown, Will Obama Be Bold Enough to Win":

"No matter who wins, live as if the candidate whose changes you want to see ALREADY affected those changes!"


I am surprised that Dufour did not bring up Gandhi in the section on hysterology. "Be the change you would like to see in the world" is a perfect example of the self-foundational trope as political maxim for the last few decades.


I've just now reached the hysterology section of the book, but there's an issue preceding it that perplexes me. Dufour argues that throughout premodern and modern history there's always been a third party that mediates relationships and against which one defines oneself. Examples include God, the soil of the homeland, the blood of racial purity, the proletariat, nature. Dufour contends that the marketplace doesn't operate like these other Big Others, largely because there is nothing tangible around which its structure is organized (no more gold standard). Consequently, human selves have nothing to push against, no externally-imposed expectations to get neurotic about. People must define themselves by themselves, leaving them vulnerable to something akin to psychosis.

On the other hand, Dufour already acknowledged, as does Lacan, that the old-fashioned Others aren't Real either: they derive their power entirely within the Symbolic order. The marketplace is like this too. Market value isn't "real," as we've just seen in the collapse of housing values; it's symbolic. Still, people act as if the marketplace were a sentient entity wielding an invisible hand in human affairs. People define their interactions relative to the marketplace: buyer-seller, employer-employee, etc. And people define themselves relative to the marketplace: my job, my pay, my stuff. Certainly people become neurotic in trying to keep up with the market's demands for success, job satisfaction, wealth, etc.

In short, it seems to me that, in Lacanian terms, the market is as efficient and powerful an Other as God, nation, etc. ever were. Its demands may differ, but it serves a similar function within the Symbolic order. No?


Thanks for the tip, Jodi. I read this book recently. I found it deeply engaging. Since reading, I have had a couple of second thoughts about some of his interpretations and examples. I do wonder if this is at least in part due to his heavy usage of French examples. Down here in Australia, some of the education stuff didn't wholly ring true. Much of it did, but not all....

I would be interested to read some further thoughts of yours about this book and the thesis.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo