Language – By Marcelo Pakman

This post is also available in: Spanish


The surface of things: isn’t the role of science to transcend that surface?

Well, it’s the objective of science, of hermeneutics. But I am not starting a crusade against science or against method, Feyerabend style, but reminding people that things are still there, in the surface. And that we can find a way which breaks with the permanent taming of repeated interpretation, of repeated reading, of the way to live.

Does that imply going beyond the barrier of language?

No, no. Not of language in its totality. This is about transcending language as a signification system to speak about this and that or as if it was just a semiotic system where, if we are interpreters, we can entertain ourselves by finding many meanings. There is another dimension of language: what language is in its root for people that have thought about it, a dimension which is covered by semiotics, but which it is important to find again. Why is it so hard to find again? Because we are very socialized, above all when we are “psy” professionals, to not do it, to place ourselves immediately as interpreters of what has already been said. “That has already been said.” We are some kind of experts in doing an autopsy of language. It is not living language which is constantly being said, beating in new things. “That which has already been said,” all the language has been concentrated on that. People who go to psychological athenaeums to listen to case presentations will see that very often that presentation can be summarized as saying that the patient, who is x years old and is male or female, said so and so. And, once he or she said that, we can throw away the rest and deal with the autopsy of what they said. We can interpret, play with it. This and that. It’s a very limited vision of what human beings are.

So what you suggest is, going back to Althuser, assuming there are other ways of looking, that each individual’s is necessarily limited by social and biological aspects, unless we accept from the start the partial character of our observation.

Yes, even though Althusser was not interested in the infinite variability of the unique. He claimed to have a different perspective, but that perspective was highly univocal and scientific. Scientific in the sense that it had to be expressed in universal terms.

And you claim precisely the opposite, that each case is something more than the universal explanation.

It is interesting that you mentioned the word “case” because, when we think about the clinic in one case, we are already placed inside the micropolitics which distinguish the situations as clearly defined and determined objects.

What would be the appropriate world for “case”?

We need to come out of there entirely. There are no cases. There are conversations, people talking, situations which are happening. That’s all there is. It’s the world Deleuze made reference to, which he tried to recover, and he was so careful in his awareness that it was a difficult task that he kept changing the concepts in which he tried to talk about it. In this sense, one of the worst things that could happen with my book would be for my concept of poetics to turn into something solid: then we would be counting poetic moments and attending the research of how many poetic moments there were in the session.


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