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Sunday, December 11, 2011

PhiloShrink: "Trauma & Event"

PhiloShrink: "Trauma & Event": Soon, I will start a blog to share my daily work on my doctoral dissertation at the European Graduate School - "Trauma & Event." Here is a ...


  1. Ok I think blogger might have accidentally deleted one of my comments on your previous post but here's the highlights of that comment because I think it contained some pieces of advice that are important to your work. I will re-highlight those things here:

    1. I am glad you are hosting a blog during your dissertation writing process. I believe that doing this serves up an invitation, an opening, for dialogic interaction with your friends and the anonymous people of the internet that in itself will (potentially) be an event in a more Deleuzian sense of the term. I will post here often as I feel a strong connection to your topic and I encourage you to do the same on my blog - please continue to challenge me to think differently as you have done in the past.

    2. I think you would be mistaken not to include Guattari's work at La Borde in your theorizations of evental psychiatry. I particularly think it is relevant, regardless of your view of D and G's "anti-psychiatry" as it has been called, in terms of thinking trauma in relation to the event. Trauma often occurs to a group of people and Guattari's group psychiatry and theories on multiplicities/schizophrenia might be useful.

    3. When discussing liminality and trauma, I think you should discuss the liminal space of being human (becoming inhuman); in particular, I think there is something relevant to this discussion in terms of the human-animal/nature/environment relationship. I believe there is a foundational trauma we all experience in this regard that is covered up in the disguise of wholeness. I may just be thinking this because I have been obsessed with the human-animal relationship recently and because I recently had one of my dogs die in my arms due to a freak gastro-intestinal inflammation. It was particularly traumatic for me.

    That is all for always, in friendship...

  2. Ryan, in fact, your other post on Deleuze and Guattari is there, above. I appreciate your critical reflections a lot and welcome them always. I believe that our blogs are a continuation of our seminars and other communications and could arguably be considered a form-of-life in themselves, which I touch on in my latest post. I accept critical reflections in the spirit of the old academic joke about two philosophical behaviourists meeting on the street in Oxford. One says to the other, "You're obviously fine, how am I?" Judging from your blog, you are fine indeed. So how am I doing?

    I offered a paragraph on evental psychiatry and liminality only as a taste of what I am working on now. I really don't know yet where it will take me. But let me reassure you that I am not allergic to the term "anti-psychiatry." I simply prefer other terms to describe those activities, such as "critical psychiatry" as a parallel or analogue to critical theory. My mentor and therapist in London eschewed this term attributed to him via one of his collaborators. I am not avoiding Guattari's work and have begun a dialogue with French colleagues who visited Guattari at La Borde. Yet sometimes, we have to accept limits to maintain coherence. One of the tasks in my research has been to do a philosophical archaeology of key words, notably trauma and event. I have been asking the question what is the event in Freud, Binswanger (and Husserl and Dilthey before him), Foucault, Heidegger, Derrida, Lacan, Nietzsche, and of course Badiou (in my own reading). I asked Thomas Zummer about the event in Foucault and had a very interesting dialogue with him about that. And yes, much has been written about the event in Deleuze in contrast to Badiou. Finally, I asked Giorgio Agamben what is the event in Foucault and in his own thought. (Stay tuned!)

    A related project I have been working on concerns how psychiatry was radicalized in the twentieth century. My working title is "Psychiatry Against Itself" and I examine 4 psychiatrists--Franco Basaglia, the Italian psychiatric reformer; Jacques Lacan, the French reader/readical revisionist of Freud; RD Laing, the Scottish orthodox radical; and Frantz Fanon, the revolutionary Caribbean in Algeria. Only Fanon proposed a new theory of consciousness and put it into action. What intrigues me is the reciprocal invention of an orthodoxy by the radicals and a radicalization of the innovators by the psychiatric academy and the psychoanalytical institutes. Nobelist Eric Kandel calls this tension "disciplines and antidisciplines," reminiscent of what Alain Badiou calls philosophy and antiphilosophy (he puts Lacan, Wittgenstein and Rousseau in this group).

    Hope this stimulates some "eventive thought."

    Good night,