Monday, November 16, 2015

emancipatory interest as deconstruction

I spent the week trying to show a Heidegger scholar how he misreads (many emails between us). The result has been something that a psychotherapist would understand:

I don’t expect good arguments about another’s misreading (call him M) to be persuasive in the short run. There’s resistance (most easily in terms of discounting my endeavor to read carefully). There is displacement: Heidegger is at fault for being so complex; there must be something diabolical going on. And there is turning away (“I don’t have time for this”)—but not staying away long, I see.

The turn (the mirroring) that is likely disturbing to M is the one that shows how M is self-undermining, in terms of his own argumentation (e.g., M is treating my evidence dismissively, then disowning the logical effects of that, when it’s mirrored back to him.)

In reading, as in a psychotherapeutic alliance, a transference relationship may be unwittingly constructed by a reader, which is invisibly experienced by M, in this case, as the mere obviousness of Heidegger's self-betrayal; but, showing M his projective identification at a critical moment also highlights that a transference is ongoing between himself and "Heidegger" (M's fiction, written as mere reading).

Generally, a reader may find the other to be failing to deal with “their” (the other's) own difficulties, but which really shows the reader's way of reading that conceals difficulties of his own, in terms of the displacement.

For example: Heidegger is rendering an ideological stance commonly found in Germany, but M reads Heidegger to be confessing endorsement of that ideological stance. M's problem is understanding narrative as critical stance rather than as privatistic confession (the egoistic mind, imputed to Heidegger). M has trouble with both the notion of ideological framing (the critical interest) and discursive narrative as role-distanced by the author (i.e., the voice of the framer is not confessional). So, M finds Heidegger culpable for a stance that Heidegger in finding others culpable for, in Heidegger's effort to create a critique of ideology. And M—not familiar with developing ideological critique—blames me for making "excuses" about Heidegger.

Such dynamics are part of how psychoanalysis came to be employed in literary criticism.

Such is life. In conversation, another’s discovery that I think scenically like that can cause defensive withdrawal, as if I’m always judging others—which is not the case.

Sometimes, talking with a new acquaintance will go fine until they find I love philosophical reflections. Inhibition takes hold, as if I’m wanting to intimidate (even as I venture interpretation meekly).

Or "you" talk expansively to someone at a party, feeling delighted by how good a listener she is—until you learn that she’s a psychotherapist, and you suddenly feel nude.

A learning process ought to be fun. Finding something transformative of one’s self understanding is a release—even a re-leasing of one's possibilities for understanding. It’s good for individuation, for flexible perspectivity, and for horizon expansion.

It’s not only enlightening, but also may be emancipatory—like relief from congestion. Ways of learning better may be more valuable than learning more (because “better” enables the "more" more).

Disclosing, unconcealing, and releasing inhibited self efficacy enables one’s learning curve to gain higher slope.

One may thereby hear/read more receptively, flexibly, and insightfully.

But of course, peaking hills has to be done in one’s own good time.

[This is part of my project on Heidegger and political times.]