Sitegeist - A Journal of Psychoanalysis and Philosophy
Sitegeist is a biennial peer-reviewed journal. It has an editorial collective consisting of Kirsty Hall, Stephen Gee, Philip Derbyshire and Nic Bayley, and an advisory panel drawn from established figures in the fields of psychoanalysis and philosophy and members and non-members of the Site. Sitegeist has international ambitions both in this regard and in terms of its readership.
Issue 7 of Sitegeist is concerned with psychoanalysis and the environment. Its appearance will be timed to coincide with the Conference at the Eden Centre in March 2012.
Call for papers:
One client sometimes quotes Eliot to convey a complex mood. (‘I have measured out my life in coffee spoons’, ‘The horror, the horror.’) Another speaks in enigmatic phrases that have a post-modern, metonymic quality rather like John Ashbery. Is the discourse of the consulting room a form of poetry? How do analysts use the poetic form while approaching the Other? To what extent are poems a part of sessions?
When ‘poetry’ and ‘psychoanalysis’ are searched in a library database hundreds of titles come up of books using psychoanalysis to inform the study of poetry, but hardly any the other way round. After the years of appropriation of Freud, Lacan and psychoanalysis in general by the cultural and literary academy, we feel it’s time to look at how psychoanalysis might be seen to import or to be penetrated by poetry.
If language is ‘the house of being’ and poetics is ‘that supreme pinnacle of the aesthetics of language’ then maybe it is the poets who can help analysts to approach, in the language of the clinic, the dwelling of our patient’s being. To what extent has Lacan’s call in his seminar of 1953 been answered in the training establishments and in the personal development of analysts? It has become a commonplace for literary theorists to provide a psychoanalytic reading of literature, but what would a poetic reading of the psychoanalytic encounter sound like? What can be learned from the poetics of neurosis when it is in the finished form of a poem rather than the evanescent utterance of a suffering subject on the couch?
We hope for poems and for writing by poets as well as for reports from the consulting room, maybe about the current state of the ‘Delusions and Dreams’ there. We hope for writing in ‘full speech’ as well as writing about it.
Sitegeist - An overview
We are impressed with the perennial potential of an engagement with psychoanalysis that is reflective. Our writing will be alive and usable both intellectually and clinically without necessarily having to mention the details of a particular clinical case. An engagement with philosophy can only enrich this further. It seems that there is a space for a new journal. Existing journals such as the British Journal of Psychotherapy are not on the cultural radar.
The current psychoanalytic scene displays every sign of crisis: whilst psychoanalysis itself has probably never had more impact, both as a therapeutic intervention and as a cultural vade mecum, its own concepts and self-understanding have been subject to rigorous criticism from within and without. In many cases this has led to outright rejection as newer therapies have made extravagant claims for efficacy and insight. In a parallel way, the explosion of philosophical production after the middle of the twentieth century and the caravan of isms inaugurated by the structuralist revolution in France have left the theory of the subject in a state of radical uncertainty. Yet, such crises, which themselves reflect a period of astonishing change in the possibilities of being human and in the understanding of what it is to be human at all, have every potential for productive and creative responses learning from the traditions that have become unstable and yet moving beyond them.
To facilitate such creative responses, there needs to be an intellectual space where the plurality of traditions of thinking about the subject might engage in a productive colloquy. Once, the institutional loci for such an encounter might have been the university or the lay intelligentsia informed by the emergence of new disciplines, but these have suffered the closure and routinisation associated with professionalisation and the enforcement of canonical understandings of thought: a ceaseless production of party lines or disciplinary stasis. One solution to this professional territorialisation is the creation of a journal that is committed to the encouragement, exploration and light-handed orchestration of the polyphony of current thinking about the subject and its vicissitudes.
Sitegeist will enable dialogue and conceptual engagement without falling into a diffuse eclecticism or seeking to establish new orthodoxies; it will seek to explore the aporias and contradictions of contemporary psychoanalytic theory and practice while opening up to the potentially fruitful consequences of dissonant intersections between superficially antagonistic models; it will provide a space for thinking about experience – in life or the clinic – in ways that might creatively develop the resources and capacities of psychoanalysis broadly conceived; and its main aim would be to hold open the frontiers between psychoanalysis and philosophy such that a productive regeneration of both might emerge.
A journal for Site members
As well as well-worked peer reviewed articles there will be space for a more spontaneous type of writing – perhaps more experimentally inclined and also reviews.
And for the world beyond...
Notwithstanding its peer-reviewed credentials (which we see as an essential feature) our journal will make every effort to be inclusive. This will mean that it will, on the one hand, publish those with an established reputation, experience and expertise whilst, on the other, help to develop those who are new to the game. By doing this we will be achieving several things:
• Promoting the field and function of the Site.
• Clarifying the Site’s project in the field of psychoanalysis.
• Developing talent in the Site and reminding its members that the journal is not just for the Site’s members, but by the Site’s members too.
• Contributing to the psychoanalytical debate in a way that reflects our own values.
A ‘clinical’ example
Adam Phillips, in his talk with Chris Oakley, made a very valuable point. The field of psychoanalytical writing is dogged by a kind of narcissism. Writing has become constipated and lacks creative flair. There is an institutional inhibition (brought about by the hierarchies, transferences and deference of trainings) against writing and even speaking. How do you desubjectivise yourself? - train as a psychotherapist! Jo Swift questioned this - why is there so much fear about speaking about what we do? Indeed there is the issue of confidentiality - but is not this rather a kind of shame about engaging in a practice which is overlaid with incestuous resonances? We are not saying that most will want to write or feel they have the talent but Sitegeist will endeavour to lift the pressure and make it possible for more voices to be heard. High standards should not only be academic ones.
The next step
Sitegeist needs contributors. From the beginning the editorial collective needs writing of the highest quality. We will put forward themes and ideas but we seek writing of the highest quality from others - wherever it can be found. Over to you.