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Journal of Continental Philosophy

Volume 1, Issue 2, 2020

Justin ClemensOrcid-ID
Pages 232-243

Contraversy in the Nursery; or, A Brace of Basterds

The controversies unleashed by psychoanalysis never seem to stop repeating themselves. If what psychoanalysis has to say is true, then, by its own lights, it has to be controversial. Controversies are thus a privileged place to see this truth and this resistance in violent and lurid action. Take infant experience and bastardry. Every kid is a bit of a bastard, and the establishment of this infantile bastardry conditions subsequent repetitions of the organism: that breast is persecuting me, these are not my real parents, I did not borrow your kettle. Just how much of a bastard is this baby? The answers psychoanalysis comes up with depend on how it formulates the vicissitudes of differential repetitions, formations of the unconscious. Yet there remains something puzzling about repetition: if eros is constantly getting itself into nasty situations as a matter of course, are there still other factors (perhaps even more sinister) at work? Because of his refusal to dismiss his own puzzlement, Jacques Lacan persistently returned to the relation between desire and drive, reformulating his own theory as he went. At one moment, as we shall see, he comes to discriminate between a surprising number of (at least 3!) kinds of death.

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