unrepentant scanvenger, Schwitters would return from his excursions with pockets
and bags crammed with paper litter and other varieties of refuse. Once in
the studio, these lose their status as waste and become the raw material of
art. Now it is that the typical collecting activities of searching, gathering
and ordering give rise to bricolages or new artistic amalgamations.
Collecting and Collage-making: The Case of Kurt Schwitters. 1994
masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder"s gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start,
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.
The Circus Animals Desertion
poets mind is in fact a receptacle for seizing and storing up numberless
feelings, phrases, images, which remain there until all the particles can
unite to form a new compound are present together.
Tradition and the Individual Talent, 1919
I believed that the country to which [my painter friend] André, through
his work, had given me access, was magnificent. I was learning the importance
of composition, mass and materials, above all. I had seen him in the streets
or in the fields pick up bits of wood, paper, or metal, pebbles, cherry stones,
string, corks, closely guarding such scraps which for me were merely garbage.
He used them to decorate his studio or incorporated them into paintings. Barbara,
his wife, would cry out in admiration when he brought in his finds. She was
a Slav, and rolled her rs: André how beautiful! She
would call in her children to admire them too. Under my very eyes the trash
would turn into treasure. It was treasure. But when I had left their home
it turned back into trash. On my own I was not capable of abandoning good
taste or conformity which set the tone for people of my background.
The Words to Say It, 1975
objects, like psychic keys, open doors to unconsciously intense
and rich experience in which we articulate the self that we
are through the elaborating character of our response. This selection constitutes
the jouissance of the true self, a bliss released through the finding of specific
objects that free idiom to its articulation. As I see it, such releasings
are the erotics of being: these object both serve the instinctual need for
representation and provide the subject with the pleasures of the objects
Those objects and experiences, keys to the releasing of our idiom, free us to experience the depth of our being and of the interplay between the movement of our idiom, driven by the force of our instincts, and the unconscious system of care provided by our mother and father. We are forever finding objects that disperse the objectifying self into elaborating subjectivities, where the many parts of the self momentarily express discrete sexual urges, ideas, momories, and feelings in unconscious actions, before condensing into a transcendental dialectic, occasioned by a force of dissemination that moves us to places beyond thinking.
A day is a space for the potential articulation of my idiom. Do I select objects that disseminate my idiom or not? For example, do ipick up a nove with I dont like b;ut think I should read but through which I shall not come into my being or do I select a novel which I like, into which I can fall, losing myself to multiple experiences of self and other? Do I have a sense of this difference of choice? What if I dont? What if I do not intuitively know which object serves me? If I dont know then my day is likely to be a fraught or empty occasion. Neuroitic conflict eradicates, at least for a time, potential objects. Or I may choose an object because it is meant to resolve a state of anxiety or to recontact a split-off part of myself housed there. In other words, pathology of mind biases the subject toward the sleection of objects that are congruent with unconscious illness.
The ego chooses not only what aspect of an object to use but also what subjective mode to employ in the use.
We can learn much about about any persons self experienceing by obseriving his selection of objects, not only because object choice is lexical and therefore features in the speech of character syntax, but also because it may suggest a variation in the intensity of psychic experience that each person chooses. If we live an active life, then we will create a subjectified material world of psychic significance that both contains evocative units of prior work and offers us new objects that bring our idiom into being by playing us into our reality.
On Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self Experience, 1992
some obscure train of thought, it made me think back to when we were very
smallno more than four or five years old. Fanshawes parents had
bought some new appliance, a television perhaps, and for several months Fanshawe
kept the cardboard box in his room. He had always been generous in sharing
his toys, but this box was off limits to me, and he never let me go in it.
It was his secret place, he told me, and when he sat inside and closed it
up around him, he could go wherever he wanted to go, could be wherever he
wanted to be. But if another person ever entered his box, then its magic would
be lost for good. I believed this story and did not press him for a turn,
although it nearly broke my heart. We would be playing in his room, quietly
setting hp soldiers or drawing pictures, and then, out of the blue, Fanshawe
would announce tht he was going into his box. I would try to go on with what
I had been doing, but it was never any use. Nothing interested me so much
as what was happening to Fanshawe inside the box, and I would spend those
minutes desperately trying to imagine the adventures he was having. But I
never learned what they were, since it was also against the rules for Fanshawe
to talk about them after he climbed out.
The Locked Room, 1986
The New York Trilogy, 1990 (p. 259)
It is not just pleasure or relaxation that Temple gets from the [holding/hugging] machine but, she maintains, a feeling for others. As she lies in the machine, she says, her thoughts often turn to her mother, her favorite aunt, her teachers. She feels their love for her, and hers for them. She feels that the machine opens a door into an otherwise closed emotional world and allows her, almost teaches her, to feel empathy for others.
minutes or so, she emerged, visibly calmer, emotionally less rigid (she says
a cat can easily sense the difference in her at these times), and asked me
if I would care to try the machine.
An Anthropolgist on Mars, 1994,
The New Yorker, Dec. 27, 1993/Jan. 3 1994, (p. 114)
symbolic actualization of the holding environment occurs in every patient;
it is this that permits the patient to entrust himself to the analytic processto
free associateand to allow the unfolding of the transference neurosis.
"Interpretation and Symbolic Actualizations of Developmental Arrests," Psychoanalysis in a New Context, 1984
those accumulating photographs my past would have vanished, year after year.
Instead, it accumulated, loose in a set of shoeboxes, in no order, and because
of its randomness ever fresh, ever stunning: shuffled windows into a sunlit
Self-Consciousness: Memoirs, 1989
In giving silent presence to vanished generations and in diffusing this presence throughout the whole culture, photogaphy has played a part in bringing the problem of personal identity to the centre of cultural concern. The awareness that we must create ourselves and find our own belonging was once the privilege of an educated elite and is now a generalized cultural condition. For in helping to constitute identity in time, photography also poses the problem of the freedom of the self to make its own present. To look at an old photograph and to discover that one has inherited the shape of ones eyes, to hear from ones parents that one has also inherited a temperment, is both to feel a new location in time but also a dawning sense of imprisonment. The passion for roots " the mass pastime of family history " represses the sense of suffocation that family photographs can engender. That is one reason why the old photographs get consigned to the old shoe box at the bottom of the drawer. We need them but we do not want to be claimed by them. Because they bring us face to face with an inheritance that cannot be altered, photographs pose the problem of freedom: they seem to set the limits within which the self can be created.
in a family album bring us closer to the past and yet their acute physical
tactility reminds us of all the distance that still remains uncrossed.
The Russian Album, 1987
the museum entrance, a man asked me if Id like to check my bag. I said
no. I never checked my bag. I needed my things too much.
The Lost Father, 1992
But the voyage isnt over. And at the end of my allotted time I will appear at another gate. And I will have a cheap American suitcase in my hand. And I will hear: What have you brought with you?
And Ill also say, Theres a reason that every book, even one that isnt very serious, is shaped like a suitcase.
The Suitcase, 1986/1990
"How about trying the opposite approach for a change: Instead of carrying the discards of daily behavior to the exhibition rooms of art, how about looking for art around us and within us?
Artists have become alarmed about art having to subsist in a diving bell. They are expected to breathe art in their studios, and their public has tried to do the same in the museums. But outside the studio and the museum there is no art. The state of affairs cannot continue because art has never grown from anything but the poetical overtones of all daily living.
What is needed
is a revival of that pervasive symbolism so common in unimpaired cultures.
Not long ago in Grand Central Station I noticed an elderly woman lugging a
suitcase. "Heavy, isn"t it?" I said. And she, with an Old World
accent, "The whole of life is heavy!""
This is Conceptual Art,
The New York Times, July 13, 1974
make a start,
out of particulars
and make them general, rolling
up the sum by defective means
Patterson, Book I, 1946
have definite forms, which become progressively articulated. Their development
is effected through their interplay with the other aspects of experience:
but the nature of that interplay is not specified. Yet is is here, I think,
that cogency for the whole thesis must be sought. What character of feeling
is "an index of the mind"s grasp of its object," and by what
tokens is it so? If feeling has articulate forms, what are they like? For
what they are like determines by what symbolism we might understand them.
Everybody knows that language is a very poor medium for expressing our emotional
nature. It merely names certain vaguely and crudely conceived states, but
fails miserably in any attempt to convey the ever-moving patterns, the ambivalences
and intricatices of inner experience, the interplay of feelings with thoughts
and impressions, memories and echoes of memories, transient fantasy, or its
mere runic traces, all turned into nameless, emotional stuff. If we say that
we understand someone else"s feeling in a certain matter, we mean that
we understand why he should be sad or happy, excited or indifferent, in a
general way; that we can see due cause for his attitude. We do not mean that
we have insight into the actual flow and balance of his feelings, into that
character which may be taken as an index of the minds
grasp of its object. Language is quite inadequate to articulate such
a conception. Probably we would not impart our actual, inmost feelings even
if they could be spoken. We rarely speak in detail of entirely personal things.
Philosophy in a New Key, 1942/71, pp.100-10
Say it, no ideas but in things.
Patterson, Book I, 1946
ideas but in things, said William Carlos Williams, and though he was
speaking of poetry it is true of fiction, too. Fictions power to sway
us comes about not through directed meditations and conclusions but thrrough
depicted realities to which meaning clings, and which transfer this meaning,
unmediated and otherwise inexpressible, to our consciousness, dust to dust.
Vagueness on Wheels, Dust on a Skirt,
The New Yorker, Sept. 2, 1991
Worst regret: that I was not given a chance to see [my father] after he died. Ignorantly, I had assumed the coffin would be open during the funeral service, and then, when it wasnt, it was too late to do anything about it.
Never to have
seen him dead deprives me of an anguish I would have welcomed. It is not that
his death has been made any less real, but now, each time I want to see it,
each time I want to touch its reality, I must engage in an act of imagination.
There is nothing to remember. Nothing but a kind of emptiness.
The Invention of Solitude, 1982
are things worth more than money, all money, valueless things. The box. I
thought of it with its secrets. To sit on the floor in my old clothes and
have its contents spread out between my legs, wuld be almost more than meeting
The Lost Father, 1992 (p. 242)
"Many wonder how I could find my own language of expression so fast, but this is really the language I have carried with me all my life. The camera only became the tool which opened the box and let it all out."
Interview in Dagens Nyheter TV, February 14, 1988
"If I could do it, I'd do no writing at all here. It would be photographs; the rest would be fragments of cloth, bits of cotton, lumps of earth, records of speech, pieces of wood and iron, phials of odors,plates of food and of excrement. Booksellers would consider it quite a novelty; critics would murmur, yes, but is it art; and I could trust a majority of you to use it as you would a parlor game. A piece of the body torn out by the roots might be more to the point."
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, 1946
"I must work from the formlessness of my own life, speak in my own voice, however faltering and unsure" What I seek is not to be found in my past, is not to be found at all but achieved, if at all, from the debris and clutter of a flawed and limping life. I admonish myself: Give up this longing for a past of brave adventure from which to work. Heroic experience is hearsay, is not your own. Don"t just stand there in lamentation before the hunk heap of memory, the fears and evasions, the missed opportunities, the cautious advcances. Wade in. Pick up the pieces. Don"t expect to find anything of value. This is ore, not metal. Expect only to come upon sometyhingslingshot, love letter, rusted foil, ancient condom, broken knight from a chess setfrom which with effort and courage something of beauty might be made."
On Not Knowing How to Live, 1975
another form of autobiography, the unballing of paperwads. Nothing in the
universe is ever lost.
I Had a Father:
A Post-Modern Autobiography, 1993, p. 122
not allow public issues as they are officially formulated, or troubles as
they are privately felt, to determine the problems you take up for study."
Know that many personal troubles cannot be solved merely as troubles, but
must be understood in terms of public issues " and in terms of the problems
of history-making. Know that the human meaning of public issues must be revealed
by relating them to personal troubles " and to the problems of individual
life. Know that the problems of social science, when adwquately formulated,
must include both troubles and issues, both biography and history, and the
range of their intricate relations. Within that range the life of the individual
and the making of societies occur; and within that range the sociological
imagination has its chance to make a difference in the quality of human life
in our time."
"On Intellectual Craftsmanship,"
The Sociological Imagination, 1959
good deal of my own junk and rubbishand I discover that this is true
for other people as wellfalls under the general heading of mementos
or souvenirs: college term papers, postcards, brochures and leaflets from
trips, old conference programs, photographs and clippings, old letters. "There
is, at least, a feeling that if we throw out this junk we are being disrespectful
to the past it memorializes
for what constitutes the past as notable
and significant are the markers that mark it as the original."
"Rubbish Theory," 1988
logic derives from logos, it derives, even more radically
from legein. The latter, claims Heidegger, does not signify a discursive,
sequential saying, but an ingathering, a harvesting, a collecting and re-collecting
(re-membering) of the dispersed vestiges of Being.
life develops in spirals; it passes again and again by the same points but
at different levels of integration and complexity.
"The Progressive-Regressive Method,"
Search for a Method, 1960 / 63
my father died, I discovered a trunk that had once belonged to his mother
in the cellar of his house. It was locked, and I decided to force it open
with a hammer and screwdriver, thinking it might contain some buried secret,
some long lost treasure. As the hasp fell down and I raised the lid, there
it was, all over againthat smell, wafting up towards me, immediate,
palpable, as if it had been my grandmother herself. I felt as though I had
just opened her coffin."
The Invention of Solitude, 1982
and they only, originally made us aware of the wholeness and over-all form
of entities, acts and facts in the world; and little though we may know it,
only an image can hold us to a conception of a total phenomenon, against which
we can measure the adequacy of the scientific terms wherewith we describe
it. We are actually suffering today from the lack of suitable images of the
phenomena that are currently receivieng our most ardent scientific attention""
Mind: An Essay on Human Feeling, Vol. 1, 1967, pp. xviii, xix
my childhood was one-of-a-kind, not at all for its fecklessness " on
this restless, errant continent I set not records " but for its lack
of coherence. I was a rat in the maze, getting shocked, getting sweets, dark/light,
cold/hot, prodded/cuddled, making my way to some eventual light, but no one
was taking notes. The researcher had fallen asleep. My life has been pointless,
one long search for meaning, which in a life means identity. Sometimes I feel
the technicians had forgotten to exterminate me when the experiment
was over; I was released back to the general rat population and allowed to
contaminate as many people as I could. Whatever lesson my life might impart
to others, unless I write about it and can do justice to it, has been lost.
Whatever I might have learned is still locked away. I haven"t strayed
from the shape and contents of my life because Im still trying to discover
what I left behind."
I Had a Father: A Post-Modern Autobiography, 1993
Riding in a cart,
he looked back to retain as much as possible.
Which means he knew what was needed for some ultimate moment
When he would compose from fragments a world perfect at last.
The Witness of Poetry, 1983
novelist Donald Barthelme"s statement that Fragments are the only
form I trust has ramifications far beyond the literary. However severe
the problems posed by such a principle for social and especially political
revolution, we deceive ourselves unless we learn to focus upon these shifting
formsto recognize new styles of life and new relations to institutions
and to ideas. Indeed, we require a little revolutionizing of our psychological
assumptions, so that both the young and the old can be understood, not as
bound by static behavioral categories, but as in continuous historical motion.
Robert Jay Lifton
History and Human Survival: Essays on the Young and the Old, Survivors and the Dead, Peace and War, and on Contemporary Psychohistory, 1970
are familiar with all that was written about the true outline
of [Pascal"s] Pensés, until a structuralist analyst showed not
only that the fragmment as a literary form was necessary to Pascal but that
" and this is far more important " he used it intentionally and
that it was a Cartesian perspective that had prevented considering fragments
as ends in themselves." For Pascal"s message is that Man is great
in that he searches for absolute values but small in that, without ever ceasing
to search, he knows that he can never approach these values. The only form
to express this content is one which does not prove the contrary: which doesn"t
show either a man who has abandoned the search or one who has approached the
goal. The fragment is such a form.
"Structure: Human Reality and Methodologicial Concept," 1972
the easy will to discover and value objects and bits and things because of
some more than ordinary pull on us, there is the stronger will to hold on
to them, to give them safety in one"s keeping " to save them out
of one time and into others" [At] some stage, I find myself looking at
one object or at a group of particular objects which hold my attention in
such ways as tend to heighten a mood of anticipation in me. I turn these objects
in my hands.
"The Collage as Model," 1969
"There are a few further points which we ought to note. In the first place, we must remember that we live our childhood as our future. Our childhood determines gestures and roles in the perspective of what is to come. This is not a question of the mechanical reappearance of montages"
gestures and roles are inseparable from the project which transforms them"
For this reason a life develops in spirals; it passes again and again by the
same points but at different levels of integration and complexity."
"The Progressive-Regressive Method,"
Search for a Method, 1960/63
to his background a patient will describe various objects as containers, such
as his mind, the unconscious, the nation; others as contained. such as his
money, his ideas. The objects are many but the relationships are not."
"Container and Contained Transformed,"
Attention and Interpretation, 1970 / 84
two major approaches [to consciousness as a subject of inquiry], the explanatory-psychological
and the phenomeno-logical, go their separate ways, contributing nothing to
"Symbol, Consciousness, and Intersubjectivity,"
The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man Is, How Queer Language Is, and What One Has to Do with the Other, 1975
Clearly, a structure of realilty with neither subjects nor objects provides only one possible linkactionbetween what will later become differentiated into a subject and objects.
In other words,
the parallel development of interiorization and exteriorization, active since
birth, underlies this paradoxical accord between thought, which at last frees
itself from physical action and the universe, which contains this latter and
yet suppasses it in all respects.
The Principles of Genetic Epistemology, 1970 / 1972
While projection is always in Lacans conception the displacement of an image from the "inside" to the "outside," that is, a displacement of any one given object with respect to the ego, introjection is not simply the symmetrical displacement of an object from the outside to the inside, but a movement from the outside to the inside of an object"s name, that is, the assumption by the ego of a relation between a named object and a system of named objects. Introjection, says Lacan, is always a linguistic introjection, in that it is always the introjection of a relation.
This is why projection
is imaginary, dual
(here equals there, inside equals outside),
whereas introjection is symbolic, triangular (the relation between
inside, outside, and myself).
Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight, 1987
Lacan, the Oedipus complex is not a signified but a signifier, not a meaning
but a structure. What Freud discovered in the Oedipus myth is not an answer
but the structure of a question, not any given knowledge but a structuring
position of the analysts own ignorance of the patient"s unconscious.
Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight, 1987