Violent Silence: Psychoanalysis and the Sacred

Fordham University – Violence and Psychoanalysis – May 1-3 2015

“Paradoxically, intimacy is violence, and it is destruction, because it is not compatible with the positing of the separate individual.” (Georges Bataille)

If there is today an indulgence in external and objective violence it is because there is something of the subject missing in our world.The “violent silence” of which Georges Bataille speaks is the inner sanctum of psychoanalysis: the invention of an intimacy and inner experience which survive the overexposure of contemporary existence. Bataille’s comrade Jacques Lacan understood the importance of the sacred and its disappearance and so incorporated such concepts into the Freudian method.

The practice of psychoanalysis opposes the “violence of interpretation” imposed by the other that is cause of neurosis and psychosis in modern society – a violence repeated in most medicine and psychiatry. But if psychoanalysis rejects the violence of being subjected to the judgement of the other, it initiates a violence of subjectivity – a dissolution of ego, defense, and objective rationale. In this sense it participates along with art and poetry in a contemporary sacred or a-theological mysticism for our times that offers more than just the enjoyment of production and consumption.