Beyond the Alien Will

After reading some early texts of Reza Negarestani on dark aspects of corruption, decay, and trauma that I found interesting, I thought it curious that he very suddenly shifted his focus to reason, rationalism, and cognition. Not one to speculate too highly in a wild analysis – unless it be taken as an invitation – for me it became one of many examples of certain “accelerationist” thinkers who had followed the trajectory of deconstruction (outlined by a lineage of thought that is essentially Nietzschean yet reaching a plateau in Deleuze and Guattari) to its limits and encountered trauma itself – most likely in the form of relativism, nihilism, and subjective destitution, or “desetre.” I had seen these figures one after another reach this crisis point in their work – and life – and turn to various aspects of structure and meaning. From an advanced analytic context this would be considered filling the void opened up by the the castration of the phallus, loss of index, undoing of the quilting point, or collapse of the Other. But can this place really be resolved by reaching for an external form of knowledge or procedure assumed without question. Rather is it only possible for each subject – individual at first, finally collective – to (re)construct this place from scratch in a form of DIY or bricolage. The key here would be that the subject would have to own up fully to the contingent nature and method of construction revealing the steps along the way so as not to fall into one more ideological apparatus or hidden foundation of the law.

I was pleased to see recently that Negarestani had returned to some of his earlier speculation on trauma by means of Ferenczi’s concept of the “alien will.” In contradistinction to Laplanche’s defense of Freud’s “general” theory of sexual trauma in the enigma of the encounter with the parent in contrast to the “special” theory of trauma in cases of specifically obvious abduction or seduction from the outside that Freud supposedly neglected, we could take Ferenczi’s alien will as a “general” theory of trauma by means of the “Alien” or “Other” in all its forms – the socio-cultural symbolic structure of institutional oppression, intrusion, and abuse perpetrated by the family, school, media and otherwise. It appears that this finally makes sense of Negarestani’s turn from trauma to reason: for him now critical reason would be the means by which we question this ubiquitous abuse of alien will that we have (mis)taken for normal and which even psychoanalysis has overlooked and collaborated in.

Now the question we are confronted with is that then why should we even think about our human misery, to even mention that we might have been abducted and molested by some alien will? Wouldn’t be better, less painful to just ignore these issues and live the life we thought was ours, the set of our conscious and examined choices and thoughts even if they weren’t? I don’t think Freud ever manages to answer this question coherently. His Schopenhaurian cosmic pessimism which is borderline a mystical whitewash over the conditions of the possibility of trauma does not allow him to even think about this question in earnest. In failing to answer this central question, Freud’s vision of psychoanalysis fails miserably. As long as, we do not justify why life should be lived exploitation-free, we have no justification for how we cure or console those who are living. Absent the former, the latter i.e. the psychoanalytical investigation can indeed be another form of exploitation and trauma, another method of becoming unwilled corpses.

I could not agree more with this sentiment which I have been critiquing within the field of medicine, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis during thirty years of research, teaching, and clinical practice. What I would like to make clear however is that the work of this approach already exists within the true lineage of Analysis – not just in Ferenczi but most especially in Reich, Lacan, and Guattari. The answer they have offered has been exactly the one Negarestani brings up in the name of critical reason: the triumph of the organizing life force – or libidinal economy of Orgone, Jouissance, and Desiring Production to name a few of this group’s central concepts concerning this revolution in psychic politics. The problem of course is that the majority of the field of psychoanalysis – not to mention psychology and psychiatry – has neglected this trajectory in the service of a conservative simplification and justification of ongoing trauma as business as usual. So I welcome Negarestani for joining the cause of critical reason to the true work of the Future Analyst – which is one reason why we have chosen to move further away from the “psy”professions to the term Analysis in our School+Clinic Analytica: to join the philosophical and scientific analysis initiated by the Western turn of modernity as far back as the Greeks to its completion in a revelation of the subject’s construction from his desire and commitment by means of a psycho- or auto- analysis of singularity.