This week several of my friends have asked me why I seriously don’t consider changing lanes. All of these friends, who posed this question – and incidentally almost simultaneously – have benefited from some of my special skills, such as performing old fashioned Freudian/Lacanian psychoanalysis on them or teaching them Iyengar yoga. My best friend can testify. He’s been through the whole machinery and on both accounts came out the other side successfully.

It occurred to me, however, that I’m not sure he has ever understood any of it. But the good news is that he knows that understanding as such is one of my least priorities. Where these matters are concerned I prefer the process of getting there – or pretending to get there – to arriving at some ‘concrete’ self-knowledge. In fact, I’m more interested in observing how knowledge, more often than not, eludes us. On the other hand, I don’t worry too much. Since I don’t have the papers to prove that I’m a bona fide practitioner of either psychoanalysis (for some 10 years) or yoga (for some 20 years), I like to reserve myself the right to justify through that why I failed, should I fail. So, why not changing lanes in spite of missing diplomas, or perhaps because of everything else? While pondering this question, I’ve decided to ask my friends why they trust me to take them places they’ve never experienced before. Here’s what they said, almost in unison, about what they found fascinating and worth the while in my ‘teachings’.

Relating to psychoanalysis:

1. The fact that I rarely fall for bullshit.
2. The fact that I always allow the other to know where I’m at.
3. The fact that I always allow the other to know where he or she is at in relation to statement 2.
4. The fact that I always know why people articulate stupidities even when they are not stupid.
5. The fact that I always see a projection even when it’s not transparent – this is often related to statement 4.
6. The fact that, relating to 4 & 5, I always say, “cut the crap”. The result is remarkably efficient, every time.
7. The fact that I can always identify the situation when the statement, “if it’s not about your mother, then it’s certainly not about me, but yourself” is true.
8. The fact that I always play free agent, even when I’m not – having or not having diplomas or being in some other such constraints doesn't bother me.

Relating to yoga:

1. The fact that I only need to say it once in order for it to work: “stretch it mentally – the physics of it comes later.”

Lists. Yes, they always have the potential to turn into mission statements. Thus I say this to you – special friends – you know who you are – that if I go professional, next time I ask you: “the couch or the mat?”, I’ll follow with this: “we can talk about the price later”.


Anonymous said…
Two (almost symmetrically related) quotes for you, doc...

"Nevertheless, there are a lot of people here who are sincerely in love with life and think they are on to something, and they may well be right. Even the dogs seem to know about it - you can tell by the way they stick their noses out of the car windows sometimes to whiff the air as it goes by. Old ladies know about and like it too. In fact, the older an American citizen gets the more he or she seems to get a kick out of life. Look at all the retirement communities and people who mow their own lawns and play golf. They surely have more pep than their counterparts in Asia or Europe, and one mustn't be in too much of a hurry to make fun of such pursuits. They stand for something broader and darker than at first seems to be the case. The silver-painted flagpole in its concrete base surrounded by portulacas, the flag itself straining in the incredibly strong breeze, are signposts toward an infinity of wavering susceptible variables, if one but knew how to read them aright. The horny grocery boy may be the god Pan in disguise. Even a television antenna may be something else. Example: bearded young driver of pickup truck notes vinyl swimming pool cover is coming undone and stops to ask owner if he can be of assistance. Second example: groups of business people stranded in stalled elevator sing Cole Porter songs to keep their spirits up, helping each other recall the lyrics. Third example: a nursing home director convicted of a major swindle goes to the federal penetentiary for a period of not less than five years. Fourth example: you are looking down into a bottomless well or some kind of deep pool that is very dark with the reflected light so far in the distance it seems like a distant planet, and you see only your own face".
From John Ashbery, The Vermont Notebook (1975)

"The amateur renews his pleasure (amator: one who loves again and again); he is anything but a hero (of creation, of performance); he established himself graciously [last word in italics, shb] (for nothing) in the signifier; his praxis usually involves no rubato [last word in italics, shb] (that theft of the object for the sake of attribute); he is - he will be perhaps - the counter-bourgeois artist".
From Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes (1975)
Camelia said…
Søren, good choice of fragments, as ususal. I'm tempted to respond with another one. Ah, well, so I'll do it, especially since it's our friend Benjamin talking, and we all know what his position regarding fragments was. His text made me think about what makes us good psychoanalysts. Søren, we're godamned good literary critics. That in addition to the other thing, which we're not going to disclose here. Our professional secret. So here it is, from the Metaphysics of Youth.

Conversation strives toward silence, and the listener is really the silent partner. The speaker receives meaning from him; the silent one is the unappropriated source of meaning. The conversation raises words to his lips as do vessels, jugs. The speaker immerses the memory of his strength in words and seeks forms in which the listener can reveal himself. For the speaker speaks in order to let himself be converted. He understands the listener despite the flow of his own speech; he realizes that he is addressing someone whose features are inexhaustibly earnest and good, whereas he, the speaker, blasphemes against language.

But even if he revives an empty past through orgiastic excitement, the listener hears not words but the silence of the present. For despite the flight of spirit and the emptiness of words, the speaker is present; his face is open to the listener, and the efforts made by his lips are visible. The listener holds true language in readiness; the words enter him, and at the same time he sees the speaker.

Whoever speaks enters the listener. Silence, then, is born from the conversation. Every great man has only one conversation, at whose margins a silent greatness waits. In the silence, energy was renewed; the listener led the conversation to the edge of language, and the speaker creates the silence of a new language, he, its first auditor.

Silence is the internal frontier of conversation.............

The Metaphysics of Youth
Walter Benjamin
Selected Writings Vol.1, 1913-1926 Ed. Marcus Bullock, Michael W. Jennings

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