October 22, 2008

Can psychoanalysis think biopolitics? A post I wrote a few years ago and forgot all about turned up in a search I did this am. I'm starting to look at biopolitics and psychoanalysis. Suggestions will be greatly appreciated: Long Sunday: Can psychoanalysis think biopolitics?. What might a psychoanalytic approach to biopolitics look like? In her contribution to Reading Seminar XX, Suzanne Barnard considers the way that an object missing from its proper position appears outs of place, as an enjoying substance or organ without boundaries, that is with no internal relation to its organism. This organ without a body, then, contrasts with the disciplined Oedipal body, the body produced through the inscription of proper zones for libidinal pleasure, the body capable of work and pleasure, the restricted, desiring body. In contemporary communicative capitalism, this bodiless organ can become a site of enjoyment, can take the form of objet petite a, circulating and swarming and providing little sites of enjoyment that take the place of and remind us of enjoyment's lack. Sure, they are fun! But, they aren't the Real Thing. At any rate, it is against this background of teaming organs, of excessive little a's floating around, that our efforts at community, alliance, and, yes, violence, segregation, and elimination take place. What psychoanalysis contributes, then, to biopolitics, is a sense of unproductive, undisciplined bodies spotted by enjoyment. It suggests a biopolitics counter to the productive, desiring biopolitical multitude of Hardt and Negri. The roving (Rove-ing) organs are opportunities of attachment to waste and spectacle,...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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