Sunday, July 15, 2007

Husserl's Epoche and the Unconscious

By phenomenological epoche I reduce my natural human Ego and my psychic life—the realm of my psychological self-experience—to my transcendental-phenomenological Ego, the realm of transcendental-phenomenological self-experience.[1]

Is the unconscious compatible with Husserl’s phenomenological system? In asking this question we must first outline Freud’s notion of the unconscious, primary process, and Husserl’s epoche, cogitations, or middle-stream of self-reflective thought. At first glance it would seem that the two (Husserl’s epoche and the Freudian unconscious) are incompatible, the one not allowing for or recognizing the other. In this essay, or expose, I hope to reconcile these differences, drawing attention to the compatibility between the two. I will be working principally with Freud’s Metapsychology and Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations, though I will be employing some secondary texts to help elaborate the arguments set forth.

I think it prudent that we start our meditations with the Freudian unconscious, then move on to Husserl’s transcendental-phenomenological ego. In so doing I hope to show that the unconscious is closer to the notion of the phenomenological ego than at first thought, and as a basis on which the arguments will hold forth, principally the similarities and dissimilarities between the two. If as Husserl maintains the epoche is the horizon or stream from which self-reflection is carried out by the transcendental-ego, and the unconscious is that area attainable only through translation or interpretation, a symptomology, both phenomena seem to have ubiquitous geographies, existing on a plane outside of conscious thought or perception.
They seem to have a reaching-back or away-from as characteristics of there systematic, to a plane or horizon not immediate or attainable from conscious mediation. Self-reflection would appear to involve a looking back-over or away from the immediateness of perception or conscious cogitation. Only by pulling away, or in Schopenhauerian terms, disinterestedness, can we be said to be truly self-reflecting. Husserl’s self-reflective transcendental-ego does just this, a Cartesian self-reflection that does not do away with the world, but accepts it as given, in existence always. But first let us go to the Freudian unconscious, the source of much perplexity and conjecture.

In an address to the Society for Psychical Research of London in 1912 entitled A note On The Unconscious in Psychoanalysis Freud says,
Now let us call ‘conscious’ the conception which is present to our consciousness and of which we are aware, and this be the only meaning of the term ‘conscious’. As for latent conceptions, if we have any reason to suppose that they exist in the mind—as we had in the case of memory—let them be denoted by the term ‘unconscious’. Thus an unconscious conception is one of which we are not aware, but the existence of which we are nevertheless ready to admit on account of other
proofs or signs
.
[2]

The unconscious is there if we look for and acknowledge these proofs and signs, which are to be found in symptoms, forgetfulness, i.e. repression, slips of the tongue, repetitions and so forth. The unconscious, or primary process, is that part of the psyche that is hidden, or concealed, until drawn out, be that through interpretation, translation or free-association. Ricoeur
[3], for example, conceived of the unconscious as a hermeneutics, a language of symbols and representations.
Lacan[4] defined the unconscious as a language, a structural assemblage of meaning found in the interpretation of unconscious patios. Whether the unconscious is a language or a hermeneutics, it still lies unaccounted for in work being done on consciousness and modes of conscious thought, or intentionality as in Daniel Dennett’s[5] work. Unconscious acts may seem to be lacking intentionality, but as Freud showed this is not the case: they represent the ongoing stream of thought that goes on beneath consciousness, the Lacanian patios that drives conscious activity. In this mode, or manner, they exist below the surface as an ongoing stream of activity that affects how one thinks, acts, reacts and feels. Freud writes in his 1915 essay entitled The Unconscious that,
We can go further and argue, in support of there being unconscious psychical state, that at any given moment consciousness includes only a small content, so that the greater part of what we call conscious knowledge must in any case be for very considerable periods of time in a state of latency, that is to say, of being psychically unconscious. When all our latent memories are taken into consideration it becomes totally incomprehensible how the existence of the unconscious can be denied. But here we encounter the objection that these latent recollections can no longer be described as psychical, but that they correspond to residues of somatic processes from which what is psychical can once more arise. The obvious answer to this is that a latent memory is, on the contrary, an unquestionable residuum of a psychical process.[6]

Freud goes on to argue that we are mistaken to believe that all psychical activity is conscious, and that when we take a less bias approach we discover that the very opposite is the case. The interesting line here is the last, where Freud refers to latent memory as ‘unquestionable residuum’. If memories leave traces, or residuum, behind in psychical processes, then it seems reasonable to suggest that they are part of psychical modes of thought. Of course, as Freud says, we can only get at the unconscious consciously, through interpretation and the translation of imagery and symbols.
The unconscious can be likened to a stream of psychical activity that goes on behind the scenes, so to speak; a storehouse of images, rebuses, memories and past experiences. As the unconscious is timeless, meaning neither in the now or the past, but a non-temporal process, it cannot be said to be have intentionality until the meaning is interpreted or drawn out into consciousness. This reinforces Freud’s notion of the repressed, which is the cornerstone on which the unconscious is founded. A repressed memory was first a conscious memory, an experience or happening; and as with many repressed memories, of a traumatic or unthinkable nature. These repressed memories often manifest themselves as unwanted or troubling behaviours or thoughts, which can be traced back to the original experience. The cathartic process in psychoanalysis allows for the release of these repressed memories, in turn allowing for a lessening of unwanted or troubling behaviours and thoughts. It is for this very reason that Freud believed that the unconscious existed, and was a predominant factor in psychical life, affecting our behaviours, thoughts and conscious processes. In Freud’s 1915 work called Repression he says the following,
One of the vicissitudes an instinctual impulse may undergo is to meet with resistances which seek to make it imperative. Under certain conditions, which we shall presently investigate more closely, the impulse then passes into the state of ‘repression’ [‘Verdrangung’]. If what was in question was the operation of an external stimulus, the appropriate method to adopt would be flight; with an instinct, flight is of no avail, for the ego cannot escape from itself. At some later period, rejection based on judgement (condemnation) will be found to be a good method to adopt against an instinctual impulse. Repression is a preliminary stage of condemnation, something between flight and condemnation; it is a concept which could not have been formulated before the time of psychoanalytic studies.[7]

The notion that the ego cannot escaping itself is of interest, as it implies the ego is in constant tension with the repressed, guarding against unwanted memories or thoughts gaining access to consciousness. Symptoms are signposts to repressed memories, and the repressed lies deep in the vicissitudes of the unconscious.

Husserl envisioned a philosophy that would make the disputes and petitions between philosophical systems vanish, allowing for a unified phenomenological philosophy based in the transcendental ego, a self-reflective mode of philosophical analysis. His reflective or phenomenological transcendental ego, which works as a mode of consciousness within or on the plane of the epoche, allows for a non-psychological self-reflection, a disinterested apprehension of the existent or world. Following the Cartesian self-reflective ego, Husserl suggests,
But perhaps with the Cartesian discovery of the transcendental ego, a new idea of the grounding of knowledge also becomes disclosed: the idea of it as a transcendental grounding. And indeed, instead of attempting to use ego cogito as an apodictically evident premise for arguments supposedly implying a transcendental subjectivity, we shall direct our attention to the fact that phenomenological epoche lays open (to me, the meditating philosopher) an infinite realm of being of a new kind, as the sphere of a new kind of experience: transcendental experience.[8]

And thus begins Husserl’s meditation on the phenomenological transcendental ego. As the term implies, a transcendental subjectivity is a mode of consciousness that reflects on itself, as the transcendental ego is the source of all knowledge, and for Husserl, apodictic evidence of the world, evidence based in the transcendental ego. The epoche, much like the Freudian unconscious, is mode of cogitation that goes on at a level in between, or on a psychical plane removed from everyday consciousness; it is here that self-reflection is carried out. Though not a psychological process or mode of cognition, it does carry traces and vestiges of sensual or sensate phenomena gathered from perceptual and sensate apprehension, otherwise the transcendent ego would have nothing to reflect upon. Much like Schopenhauer’s will-less-ness, the transcendental ego reflects upon the world from a disinterested position, whereby it can experience the phenomena of experience from the horizon or plane of the epoche. As Husserl explains in the Cartesian Meditations,
If I keep purely what comes into view—for me, the one who is meditating—by virtue of my free epoche with respect to the being of the experienced world, the momentous fact is that I, with my life, remain untouched in my existential status, regardless of whether or not the world exists and regardless of what my eventual decision concerning its being or non-being might be. This Ego, with his Ego-life, who necessarily remains for me, by virtue of such epoche, is not a piece of the world; and if he says, “I exist, ego cogito”, that no longer signifies, “I, this man, exist”. No longer am I the man who, in natural self-experience, finds himself as a man and who, with the abstractive restriction to the pure contents of “internal” or purely psychological self-experience, finds his pure “mens sive animus sive intellectus”; nor am I the separately considered psyche itself.[9]

The transcendental ego, by virtue of the fact that it is not a purely psychological ego, attains a level or meditation or self-reflection that is non-relational, independent of the existing world, but accepting the world as given just the same. If it were a psychological ego in the sense that we understand the ego as such, it would be impinged upon and affected by sensual and emotive phenomena, and therefore not phenomenological self-reflection. Husserl goes on the say that,
Consequently for me, the meditating Ego who, standing / and remaining in the attitude of epoche, posits exclusively himself as the acceptance-basis of all Objective acceptances and bases [als Geltungsgrund aller objektiven Geltungen und Grunde], there is no psychological Ego and there are no psychic phenomena in the sense proper to psychology, i.e. as components of psychophysical men.[10]

According to Husserl the natural attitude of the mind is not concerned with the critique of knowledge per say, but with things that are given to us through perception, thought and intuition.
[11] It is by this means that we engage in the world, both as psychological-beings and sensate or perceptual-beings. Much of what we do in the day-to-day is intuitive, meaning we attend to behaviours, attitudes, judgments and so forth without giving them much critical thought. Husserl’s transcendental ego, however, pulls away from this world, and in doing so reflects on the ego reflecting on the world. It is in this reflective-mode that the phenomenological transcendental ego uncovers, or un-conceals apodictic evidence, evidence found solely in the ego-self. Husserl contends that what we take for granted in natural thinking is the possibility of knowledge, apodictic evidence of the world and ourselves as being in the world. Apodictic evidence is my evidence of the world; and as such a subjective experience, though one that is shared through inter-subjectivity with others. Husserl makes this point clear in the Fifth Meditation where he says,
In any case then, within myself, within the limits of my transcendentally reduced pure conscious life, I experience the world (including others)—and, according to its experiential sense, not as (so to speak) my private synthetic formation but as other than mine alone [mir fremde], as an intersubjective world, actually there for everyone, accessible in respect of its Objects to everyone. And yet each has his experiences, his appearances and appearance-unities, his world-phenomenon; whereas the experienced world exists in itself, over against all experiencing subjects and their world-phenomena.[12]

Without the argument for inter-subjectivity, Husserl’s phenomenological system could be accused of idealism, a purely mental or solipsistic consciousness. The Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines the phenomenological epoche as such,
Husserl developed the method of epoché or “bracketing” around 1906. It may be regarded as a radicalization of the methodological constraint, already to be found in Logical Investigations, that any phenomenological description proper is to be performed from a first person point of view, so as to ensure that the respective item is described exactly as is experienced, or intended, by the subject.[13]

The epoche does not preclude inter-subjectivity, but is a “bracketing” that allows for a so called first person point of view. Epoche, from the Greek (εποχη), is the term Husserl employs to describe that moment where all belief in the existence of the real world is suspended, whereby a more critical grounding of the world is founded. As suggested previously, this shares similarities with Schopenhauer’s suspension of the will, or a cessation of desire-driven activity.

Now I will look at the similarities and dissimilarities between Freud’s unconscious and Husserl’s transcendental ego, or epoche. The most unambiguous way of doing this, I suggest, is to approach the unconscious as something interpretable, as a language in the Lacanian sense. By taking this line of inquiry we will not get bogged down with terminology and queries as to whether the unconscious exist at all, and save ourselves the trouble of defending Freud. If we acknowledge the unconscious as a topographical rather than a descriptive mechanism, we will be able to move quicker and with fewer impasses. Laplanche and Pontalis in
The Language of Psychoanalysis say the following about the unconscious,
The Freudian unconscious is primarily—and indissolubly—a topographical and dynamic notion formed on the basis of the experience of treatment. This experience showed that the psyche cannot be reduced to the conscious domain and that certain ‘contents’ only become accessible to consciousness once resistances have been overcome; it revealed that mental life is ‘full of active yet unconscious ideas’ and that ‘symptoms proceed from such ideas’ (1); and it led to the postulation of the existence of ’separate psychical groups’, and more generally to the recognition of the unconscious as a peculiar ‘psychical locality’ that must be pictured not as a second consciousness but as a system with its own contents, mechanisms and—perhaps—a specific ‘energy’.[14]

Husserl’s phenomenological transcendental ego, that mode of consciousness which is self-reflective, a purely philosophical cogitation rather than a psychological one, works on a plane or horizon referred to as the epoche. In Lecture 1 of The Idea of Phenomenology Husserl writes,
Phenomenology: this term designates a science, a complex of scientific disciplines; but it also designates at the same time and above all a method and an attitude of thought: the specifically philosophical attitude of thought, the specifically philosophical method.[15]

So what we have before us as philosophers, or phenomenologist’s as Husserl would say, is a philosophical discipline that seeks to secure apodictic evidence for and of the world, but evidence that is found in me as the transcendental ego. Freud’s discipline was one that wanted to explore, and subsequently identify, unconscious psychical activity through the psychoanalytic method of treatment and epistemology. Both theorists, appearing as they do to be at divergent poles of the epistemological scale, share in a common goal: the science of psychical activity. In Husserl’s case the transcendental ego allows for a purely philosophical reflection on the world, in turn allowing for epistemic evidence based in the self, the transcendental ego. In Freud’s case symptoms and there cathartic release allow for a better understanding of the self in relation to the world, be that ideas or phenomena.

The source of these symptoms, which are manifested in overt behaviours and undesirable thoughts, are stored in the unconscious, where repressed memories, thoughts and images remain inaccessible to consciousness. Husserl’s method requires a pulling-away from the world to a self-reflective mode of consciousness; Freud’s a seeking beyond or behind conscious phenomena to the source of repressed thoughts, images and memories. In both methods the end result is similar: evidence of behaviours or the world as phenomena.

Husserl’s epoche, which is an ongoing process, or systematic, running behind or between psychological consciousness and the world, or what exists as the world as given, is a stream, or horizon if you like, where self-reflectivity is carried out allowing for apodictic evidence based in the transcendental ego or self. Freud’s unconscious, which is interpretable from symptomology, thinking and behaviours, is also an ongoing process or systematic, but one that is accessible only through interpretation or translation. Both Freud and Husserl’s methods are linguistically-restrained, meaning bound by language and the expression of language. This hermeneutics of evidentiary consciousness carries with it the problem of interpretation and a shared language of experience. Even though Husserl’s concept of intersubjectivity serves to make this point moot, the problem still remains. It seems inconceivable, insurmountable at best, that a purely philosophical critique of knowledge is possible without taking into consideration the psychological ego, or at least the acceptances of psychological traces or vestiges in the phenomenological transcendental ego. Schopenhauer, it is true, envisioned a will-less state of apprehension that is both pure and desire-less, allowing for an annexing of things as they are in themselves’. But this sort of apprehension, though appealing, is one lacking in affect and emotional attachment, and as such a cold dispassionate experience of the world. If we accept, at least acknowledge that the unconscious exists, is there, like Husserl’s epoche, running behind or in between consciousness, perhaps we can conjoin the epoche and the unconscious, making them into one systematic with differently directed objectives: both methods seek evidence for the world, each from within a reflective stance or posture. In this manner the transcendental ego reflects upon the unconscious, which is then interpreted by the transcendental reflection. Of course there would be no sure way of knowing this other than through a changed or enhanced engagement with the unreflective world through the psychological ego. To reflect seems to also imply to interpret or translate, and if this is the case, then reflection is an interpretable method of consciousness, not one removed from psychological/anthropological extrapolations.

Now we will turn our attention to Ricoeur whose work, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation, is an inestimable contribution to Freudian scholarship. In the chapter, The Phenomenological Approach to the Psychoanalytic Field, Ricoeur says the following,
We are going to confront Freud’s concepts with the resources of Husserl’s phenomenology. No reflective philosophy has come as close to the Freudian unconscious as the phenomenology of Husserl and certain of his followers, especially Merleau-Ponty and De Waelhens. It is well to mention at the very start that this attempt is also bound to fail. But this failure does not have the same pattern as the proceeding one. [*Psychoanalysis is Not an Observational Science] It is not a question of a mistake or a misunderstanding, but rather of a true approximation, one that comes very close to the Freudian unconscious but misses it in the end, affording only an approximate understanding of it.[16]

Ricouer sees the phenomenological turn towards psychoanalysis with Husserl’s transcendental reduction, what he calls the off-centering or displacement of meaning with respect to consciousness.
The reduction, indeed, has some relation to the dispossession of immediate consciousness as an origin and place of meaning; the phenomenological bracketing or suspension is not concerned simply with the “self-evidence” (Selbstverstandlichkeit) of the appearance of things, which suddenly cease to appear as a brute presence, to be there, to be at hand, with a fixed meaning that one has only to find. To the extent that consciousness thinks it knows the being-there of the world, it also thinks it knows itself. Furthermore, to the so-called knowledge on the part of immediate consciousness there belongs a pseudo-knowledge on the part of the unconscious, a knowledge that Freud points to at the beginning of the paper ‘The Unconscious” and which we ordinarily connect with the experience of sleep or the state of unconsciousness, with the disappearance and reappearance of memories, or with the sudden violence of the passions. This immediate consciousness is deposed along with the natural attitude. Thus phenomenology begins with a humiliation or wounding of the knowledge belonging to immediate consciousness. Further, the arduous self-knowledge that phenomenology goes on to articulate clearly shows that the first truth is also the last truth known; through the Cogito is the starting point, there is no end to it; the whole of phenomenology is a movement toward the starting point. By thus dissociating the true beginning from the real beginning or natural attitude, phenomenology reveals the self-misunderstanding inherent in immediate consciousness.[17]

This misunderstanding, Ricouer says, was alluded to by Husserl in the Cartesian Meditations when he says that “Adequacy and apodicticity of evidence need not go hand in hand.”
[18] Ricouer goes on to say that a so-called nucleus of primordial experience is presupposed by phenomenology, which makes it a reflective discipline. “The ego’s living self-presence” (die lebendige Selbstgegenwart) is what differentiates phenomenology from psychoanalysis.[19]

Ricouer suggests that beyond this nucleus extends a horizon which he refers to as the “properly nonexperienced” (eigentlich nicht erfahren), a horizon of the “necessarily co-intended” (notwendigmitgemeint).
This implicit factor is what allows one to apply to the Cogito itself the critique of evidence previously applied to things: The Cogito, too, is a presumed certitude; it too can be deceived about itself; and no one knows to what extent. The resolute certitude of the I am involves the unresolved question of the possible extent of self-deception. Into this fissure, into this noncoincidence between the certitude of the I am and the possibility of self-deception, a certain problematic of the unconscious can be introduced.[20]

Ricouer then suggests that the first unconscious (unawareness) that phenomenology reveals has to do with the implicit or co-implicit. By its very nature the phenomenological position must take into consideration the possibility of self-deception, whereby the cogito deceives itself. In the Freudian dynamic this deception comes by way of symptomology and unconscious desires, both of which are concealed by conscious thought.

It is important to note that for Husserl all acts of consciousness are intentional acts regardless of the object. Intentional acts or intentional experiences always represent something as something. However there are non-intentional acts, such as pain, but they lack intentionality in Husserl’s sense of the term. Even objectless intentional experiences have content, an “as if of” content. Even if a proposition has no corresponding object it is still considered an intentional act or experience. This will prove crucial for the phenomenological experience of the Freudian unconscious.

Both Husserl and Freud were students of Franz Brentano, which in and of itself raises some interesting questions about the similarities between the two. Brentano defined intentionality as follows,
Every mental phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object, and what we might call, though not wholly unambiguously, reference to a content, direction toward an object (which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity. Every mental phenomenon includes something as object within itself...[21]

If all mental activity is directed towards an object, or thing, then the phenomenological transcendental ego, though in a mode of self-reflection, has some object to which and for which it reflects. In the Freudian sense this object can be a missing object, as in the Fort-da game, where the child learns that a missing or unavailable object, such as the mother, will again appear allowing for a lessening of anxiety and detachment from the object. In both the phenomenological mode of consciousness and the Freudian unconscious there exists an element of desire, or as Ricouer puts it the conditions of possibility of a semantics of desire.
[22] In the unconscious this desire can be represented as a competing desire for an object or person, which is the very systematic of the Oedipal Complex: the child’s desire for the mother and the competition for that desire with the father, and the triangulation of desire, competition and loss of object which that entails. Even in the epoche a desire is present, be that towards an object that is not immediate or an objectless “as if of” content.

We are confronted with the impossibility of total reflection, or as Ricouer says: Hegelian absolute knowledge. E. Fink
[23] and De Waelhens[24] propose that the finitude of reflection are written into the primacy of the unreflected over the reflected, the operative over the uttered, the actual over the thematic. Ricouer says,
This unawareness [inscience] proper to the unreflected marks a new step toward the Freudian unconscious; it means that the co-implicit or co-intended cannot completely attain to the transparency of consciousness precisely because of the texture of the act of consciousness, i.e. because of the invincible unawareness of the self that characterizes intentionality in act.[25]

Ricouer says that it is possible to give a direct definition of so-called psychism (the mere intending of something) as meaning without appealing to self-consciousness. In Freud this meaning is defined as dynamic and historical. Ricouer goes on to say that it is possible to dissociate the actual lived relation from its refraction in representation.
In a philosophy of immediate consciousness the subject is first of all a knowing subject, that is to say, ultimately, a look directed to a spectacle; in such a philosophy, the spectacle is at the same time the mirage of self in the mirror of things; the primacy of self-consciousness and the primacy of representation are interconnected; by becoming representation the relation to the world becomes self-knowing.[26]

In this manner the possibility that man is primarily “concerned for things”, “appetition”, desire and the satisfaction of desire raises issues for Husserl’s phenomenological approach to conscious self-reflection. Or as Ricouer puts is, “as soon as the psychical is no longer defined as consciousness, or the actual lived relation as representation”.
[27] This brings us back to the notion of symptomology, or the “goal-form” (Zielform) that is an essential element of the Freudian dynamic.
Ricouer sees this as a return to its genesis or founding, everything points back to an original becoming acquainted, or as Husserl puts it,
With good reason it is said that in infancy we had to learn to see physical things, and that such modes of consciousness of them had to precede all others genetically. In “early infancy”, then, the field of perception that gives beforehand does not as yet contain anything that, in a mere look, might be explicated as a physical thing. Yet, without putting ourselves back into the realm of passivity, to say nothing of using the external psychophysical point of view of psychology, / we can, the meditating ego can, penetrate into the intentional constituents of experiential phenomena themselves—thing-experiencing phenomena and all others—and thus find intentional references leading back to a “history” and accordingly making these phenomena knowable as formations subsequent to other, essentially antecedent formations (even if the latter cannot be related to precisely the same constituted object).[28]

If in thinking, reflecting and remembering we are making referential checks back to an original source or genesis, then the Freudian dynamic seems plausible; and to leave out a psychological element to reflection seems suspect. Ricouer sees a clear affinity between Husserl and Freud on this very point, as both systems require a regressive orientation. In both Husserl and Freud this regressive orientation has a behavioural element to it, one that requires a philosophical or psychological stance. In this sense what Ricouer refers to as a semantics of desire comes into play, a reaching towards or seeking, be that an object in Freudian terms, or an “as if of” in Husserl’s terms. This lived experience, or relationship with the world, is carried out on a plane of language, or as Ricouer says,
It must be rediscovered with Hegel that language is the being-there of the mind; for phenomenology, as for psychoanalysis, this “reality of language” is nothing other than meaning achieved by a behaviour.[29]

The difference between active and passive genesis is important here, as it allows for an associative link in consciousness. Active genesis forms cultural products and ideal objects, and passive genesis works by association, which is the principle for the formation of unified perceptual objects. In this way we are pre-given objects by unconscious passive synthesis, each with a history to them. In many ways this represents a storehouse, if you may, of pre-given objects to which I, the reflecting ego, can refer to.

If we accept the Freudian dynamic of the unconscious, then this passivity of reflection seems to have a historical or pre-given nature to it; and if this is the case, then perhaps the phenomenological-ego accesses the unconscious, or referential points enclosed in the epoche. If we in turn acknowledge the timelessness of the unconscious and the plane or horizon of the epoche, the stream, as would have it, that flows beneath, behind or in between consciousness per say, the notion of experiencing something anew, or for the first time seems plausible. Husserl’s pure-experience and Freud’s unconscious (repression) allow for this very activity; in Husserl as a reflecting upon the ego as it reflects, and in Freud in the timelessness of the unconscious. And if we accept the linguistic character of the unconscious, the Lacanian patios, and Husserl’s transcendental ego as a language-based phenomena, one that is expressible and reflected up in and through language, then phenomenology and psychoanalysis are limited by language, or what is expressible.
[1] Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1967, p.26
[2] Sigmund Freud, On Metapsychology, London: Penguin Books, 1991, pp.50-51
[3] Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay On Interpretation, London: Yale University Press, 1970
[4] Jacques lacan, Ecrits, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1977
[5] Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained, Boston: Little Brown, 1991
[6] Sigmund Freud, On Metapsychology, London: Penguin Books, 1991, pp.168-69
[7] Ibid. p.145
[8] Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1967, p.27
[9] Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1967, p.25
[10] Ibid. pp.25-26
[11] Edmund Husserl, The Idea of Phenomenology, Husserliana II, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999, p.15
[12] Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1967, p.91
[13] Christian Beyer, The Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, 2007
[14] J. Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanalysis, New York: W.W. Norton, 1973, p.475
[15] Edmund Husserl, The Idea of Phenomenology, Husserliana II, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999, p.19
[16] Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay On Interpretation, London: Yale University , 1970, p.376
[17] Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay On Interpretation, London: Yale University , 1970, p.377
[18] Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1967, p.22
[19] Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay On Interpretation, London: Yale University, 1970,
[20] Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay On Interpretation, London: Yale University, 1970, pp.377-78
[21] Franz Brentano, Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, transl. by A.C. Rancurello, D.B. Terrell, and L. McAlister, London: Routledge, 1973. (2nd ed., intr. by Peter Simons, 1995). P.88
[22] Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay On Interpretation, London: Yale University , 1970, p.375
[23] E. Fink, Husserliana, 6, The Hague: Nijhoff, 1954 (473-75)
[24] A. de Waelhens, Edmund Husserl, 1859-1959, The Hague: Nijhoff, 1959 (221-38)
[25] Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay On Interpretation, London: Yale University , 1970, p.379
[26] Ibid. p.379
[27] Ibid. p.380
[28] Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1967, p.79
[29] Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay On Interpretation, London: Yale University , 1970, p.384

Monday, July 09, 2007

Blood and Scrimshaw

flail-points rasped to burr-edges on a match striker
and a pull of yellow-sulfur air black with chamfer and junk-worry
skin anointed with grain alcohol and puddle tarn, and the hex of her arm
roughshod with brittle, lost in that corner where thoughts are devils
and children’s scabbed over knees are revenants of dog’s tongues, milk
teeth and whalebone, and church spires tracing blood and scrimshaw
on the boughs of moth-nettled arms

Ray begged for coppers and unused change with his left hand, the right one having been sheared off by a cog pin. He disliked cows’ tripe, moth collections and anything soaked in formaldehyde. His father drove for the Mercury Fish company and liked molasses candies, which he pilfered from the walk-in freezer behind the punch-in meter. Ray’s mother volunteered with the deaf and wore red taffeta dresses with beige stockings. She had rickets which she salved with desiccated goat’s milk and castor oil. Ray’s brother had spayed feet and a cowlick that formed a cone on the top of his head. He wore shoes with struts and a hat that keeled to one side, making him look off-centred and fat. On his twenty-first birthday Ray lost his mind two hours after dropping acid and drinking a Coke laced with Bufferin, which he stole from the Cantor’s Bakery behind the Mercury Fish company. That Wednesday Ray’s brother moved into his room and took down all his posters.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz