BLUNDERING AROUND, PONDERING ALOUD
On Becoming A Lacanian Analyst
by Albert Herter
“What is realized in my history is…the future anterior of what I shall have been for what I am in the process of becoming.” –Jacques Lacan
I am still in the beginning. The beginning is very genteel, friendly, civilized. A theoretical discussion, nothing on the line really. Nothing I couldn’t step back from. I have put concepts on the table which are worthless. The first time I saw my analyst I was walking behind her into a lecture hall, and she suddenly turned around and said hello, smiling. I said hello and smiled and she turned around and we continued walking in. A pleasurable and surprising first encounter. The next contact I had with her was three years later when I emailed her about entering analysis. In her email back she mistook me for a mutual friend of ours I had mentioned as way of introduction. I don’t think I responded to that email. Before our first session I was struck by a long wait that imposed some feelings of anxiety. Later I would learn to love this long wait. We talked about her situation for a while, some troubles, and then she said “That’s my story. What’s yours?” The first words that came out were “I’m an artist.” A few sessions later she mentioned that in many countries people don’t say “I am an artist.” That it’s an adjective. I think we continued to speak about art and various shows and one in particular at the New Museum. I said I thought conceptual art had a tendency to be too cute. I asked her if this particular show was old. She said it’s older than JESUS. I bare some resemblance to Jesus (I’m tall and had long brown hair at the time, maybe even a bit of beard) and so I thought this was some sort of message. I thought about it for a while. Later I found out that was the actual name of the art show we had been speaking about. Many misrecognitions. I remember her opening her legs a bit which I also thought was some sort of maneuver. It sounds a bit adversarial. I thought of it later as being called to an appointment, not knowing why, and knowing that one had made the appointment oneself. I referenced Lacan’s statement on beginning from a point of not understanding. And then the session was over, a friendly introduction. We had faced each other.
The next session continued in the same vein, art, aspects of Lacanian analysis and it’s present developments. I began to feel frustrated that we weren’t talking about what I had come here to talk about. Towards the end I said I would like to speak about my “personal problems”. Josefina asked if I would like to start now or next time. I said we could start now. I said “I tear the skin around my fingernails. My cuticles. I tear them till they bleed. I lie in bed and read my book and play with my penis or tear my cuticles.” She stopped the session there and said I had named it and said it well, that often it could be hard for men.
I enjoyed my own bewilderment when friends asked me about my analysis. I recounted things I’d said and my analyst’s responses, letting the words hang without any anchoring points. My most intimate formulas delivered to a stranger. I felt like analysis accentuated the absurdity of all other intersubjective contact.
I missed one session, out of absent mindedness.
I recounted a dream of driving a Porsche into a giant pile of laundry. She said it reminded her of my sculptures and cut the session.
She asked me what the mandate was and I said “Economic and to sleep with lots of women.” She said “But it’s a mandate so you know you don’t have to do it.”
Everything was infused with meaning. It’s a realm I invested with power and knowledge.
“You’ll find some way to tell me.”
She said something about a “Narcissistic world where there is no desire.”
“I don’t know what words mean. I need to understand my words before I say them.”
“You postpone yourself.”
Sometimes I noticed her perfume.
“Look at you” she said.
I said “I say ‘You know, I don’t know.”
She said “You say that?”
I said “That’s something I say.”
You can see I simply dictate words I heard while in analysis. I haven’t yet threaded them into any larger fabric.
At one point I said “This isn’t exactly a doctor’s office.” Defending myself against any power she might have over me.
At first I moved her chair closer to the couch before she arrived, it couldn’t really be close enough, preferably in my ear. I couldn’t hear her words properly. Now I hear her well enough, though there are still some mumbles and slurs I don’t have the courage to ask her to repeat. I just smile and nod.
She said “There’s something regal about you.” I smiled, embarrassed. She shook her head, “Not in a stupid way.” There’s nothing more stupid than an angel’s smile.
Once I lay on the couch, mind racing for some talking points, coming up empty. I began to panic. She entered- began in our usual way- “How are you?”- “Good”- “So?”- “So.”
I said “I don’t know…I feel…I don’t know…I feel…”
“Wow,” she said “and twice!”
That was the first time I had sat in my uncertainty, without hypotheses.
I entered analysis with the ulterior motive of combining Lacanian theory with the physics of Roger Penrose, specifically two books he had written on the impossibility of artificial intelligence due to the non-algorithmic, non-deterministic nature of consciousness. He postulated a theory of consciousness based on some subtle quantum mechanical procedure, which would necessarily take advantage of some physics yet to be unveiled. Penrose does not take the neuron as the atom of consciousness, discretely either firing or not, but rather the empty space within microtubules. This stance seemed to have an affinity to that of psychoanalysis. Cognitive scientists, brain science, and string theorists to one side. Penrose and Lacanians to the other. But as Josefina said quoting her analyst “Psychoanalysis is not Kabbalah.” Nor is it physics. Though there may be phystricks or
I named a symptom, right off the bat. Josefina said Miller says “One can’t read Lacan and tear at one’s fingers.”
I wasn’t sure why I was there. I was worried I wasn’t crazy enough.
She said “You make me the analyst.”
I am only a few months into my first analysis, and so there is no clarity of hindsight. But like, from a speeding train, I can try to name some discernable landmarks. What I shall have been for what I am in the process of becoming.
We only had two sessions face-en-face before she said I was “beginning to go.” I was ready for the couch. She laughed upon entering the next time because I was already lying down. I took to the couch.
She said for Lacan, Don Juan was great. That night I went to a club and across the street was a neon sign in red and white pulsating “Don Juan”. I went home and took Byron’s Don Juan off the shelf. This really made her laugh.
Every week I would come in with a new diagnosis or thesis. “My father is my father and my mother. My mother didn’t want me. Why do women read mystery novels? I tear my cuticles and play with my penis while I read. My father plays with his penis when he speaks to me and plays with his nipples when he speaks to my girlfriend. I want a woman like my father. I play with my penis so I know it’s there.”
I made an art video in which tearing my cuticles till my fingers are bloody and a baby infinitely reflected in two mirrors figure prominently. At one point I wondered aloud whether I was the viewer looking at the fingers and babies or if I was the finger and babies exposing myself to the viewer. That was a cut.
She asked me to name the part of me that had made that video and I said “Albert the pervert.”
One would have to finish an analysis to know how long the beginning lasted. I’m not sure the beginning has begun.
In the midst of an analysis, one doesn’t see the forest for the trees. I have one side of a formula and hope she can provide the other.
I am beginning to remember dreams, and to linger in bed, gathering evidence.
Of her I know very little. I want to sustain the illusion.
Once I tried to slip her a note, a list of all my sins and character flaws.
I was willing to say anything, confess to any crime in order to be successfully finished.
In the beginning, I am desperate for activity, concrete signs of improvement, or at least change. A lever, to move a weight.
I prepared the sessions, formulating.
I try to dig deep into my sentences and find the hottest stone I can and throw it up into the air.
Lying on the couch, head cocked to the side, staring out the window, grimacing, arms crossed over my head, then across my chest, never in my pockets, fingers laced across my belly, squirming.
I was completely caught up in the images and words.
I thought most people had elaborate personas they constructed for the outside world, to get the job done and as a sexual lure.