Class Form

My project these days is to develop a practice of language education based in psychoanalysis. This has the dual goal of strengthening language proficiency while pushing students towards the psychoanalytic cure. It opens a new value-added dimension in teaching, which has deeply problematic implications. The psychoanalyst is suppose to take the role of the miser, so there can’t be any gift from the teacher to the student. So basically, I think of this as a forceful political appropriation, where an illusion of consumerist added-value works as a lure. At stake is the forced internalization of symbolic structures, along with a political appropriation that steals the amalga of the students as a luxury product for the enjoyment of the teacher.

In psychoanalytic terms, the basis of this theory is the topology of jouissance. Everything concerns the schematics of the circulation of affect, and especially its personalization and depersonalization. This is the illocution of attention, perception, movement, speech, reading, writing, etc. All the difficulty in running classes is in relating the timing of these events is to affects. Appearances and actions are timed according to speeds and delays, which in turn depend on dispositions or moods. The romantic notion of Stimmung is the affective attitude towards death. So the value in question here is authenticity. This is the true vulnerability of finitude, which is the basis for all pragmatic context.

The primary task is to facilitate the internalization of class time as a pragmatic context. This internalization proceeds through the echoing between finite and infinite, which is called prayer. The impossible task of teaching is split between capability and incapability, and so it requires discerning the sites for abandonment to the infinite. Prayer is firstly for a form of life that is authentic to its limits, and this authentic limitation is the basis for primary thresholds of sleep, wake, work, eat, play etc.

Oh Lord, let us be true to the time that remains.

This primary truth concerns the abysmal ordeal of framing. There is a primary affliction which is frame fixation. This is a fear of erotic difference, which is called perversion, which causes us to cling to rudely simplistic and impoverished frames. The clinging to empty presence out of fear of erotic difference. The question is not whether to frame or not to frame, but to ensure that frames are authentically complex, or that the complexity of frames authentically reflects the uncertainty of time. The frames must have fidelity to the truth of finitude. The bad frame is the psychosis of castration, the negative fantasy of the tormenting end that disturbs too directly, the day terror of the frayed end that burdens our innermost intimacy. Truth alone can attain the power of representation over the limit.

Authentic time is uncertain, and the first problem is the internalization of uncertainty. There is disjunction in my time, because it doesn’t neatly separate from the time of the others. Neither does it seperate neatly from the material time of no one. Authenticity begins with the offsetting of differential time frames. This means that authenticity must begin from the inauthentic. The authentic is always founded in the inauthentic. This is the separation of the same from itself, or the misrecognition of the same by the same. The forgery of authenticity implies the alienation of the same from itself.

Oh Lord, may your secret knots bind the same with the other.

Inauthenticity arises from all corners in the negative beginning. The source is not the denial of death, but the fraying of representation on the non-coincidence of the same and the other. These are dizzying non-coincidences, such as between the singular personal and universal language, or between natural matter and historical community. The representation of time does not find a stable anchor in the self, and so it requires regular rebinding. The vertiginous question of “whose time?” must be left open until the true end. We require a form of life that is vigilante toward this breach, always vigorously rebinding the historical community back to the material abgrund of the cosmos. Inauthenticity is the pressing need for the community’s reincarnation in the singularity of personal speech. This form of life is always ready to abandon the old same in order to forge a new authenticity.

Oh Lord, may the community eternally incarnate anew.

Frenzy signifies the breach in embodiment, the dangerous unravelling of finitude. Inauthenticity is the frenzy for which we remain vigilante. Students must be always rebound anew for the class time. The question of binding frenzy is a question of “disciplinary” recourse, but this is a question of control and not of discipline properly speaking. Control is the truth of the technological condition known as the postmodern. There must be a well established algorithm that proceeds through levels of punishment: 1) standing for five minutes 2) extra homework 3) rearrange seating 4) send to the discipline office. It’s crucial to always be prepared to execute the entire algorithm of punishment. One always must carry extra homework sheets. The consistency of the procedure for disciplinary recourse is critical – that consistency eliminates the danger of the worst which is getting angry, and sliding into a personal power struggle.

Anger remains a key variable in the theory of binding. My anger is spillage of jouissance which causes the spillage of students’ jouissance, and ensuing cycles of mythical violence. Having the sobriety of precise symbolic recourse ensures the dominion of divine bloodless violence. This ensures that ours is a comedic society of control, and not a tragic society of discipline. We have evolved.

Frenzy must be sublimated instantaneously into the living schematics of class time, which is an image of fuzzy complexity and supple borders. This is the ultimate value of teaching, which is capture into the form of study.

Grading is the essence of the control society, and much more important than punishments. The teacher cannot wield the power to punish on a whim, but may have the power to grade on a whim. Any significant behaviour the teacher witnesses should be graded. Behaviour is significant when it indicates a positive or negative value of frenzy. A positive value is where frenzy is sublimated into the symbolic order and pedagogical regime of class time, and a negative value is where frenzy is damaging that order of class form. Lethargy is the inverse of frenzy, and these must be grasped in their speculative identity. All values are accorded to the proceeding of sublimation.

The form of study is never static, and always in variation. In each context (each class, each student, each day…) it is necessary to reconsider which forms of study are preferable, and to devise original strategies of coercion. The form of study must be internalized as the schematics of the class habitus, or system of expectations. This is the sense in which monks wear their habits. The schema is a constructed form with grades of consistency and rates of variation.

There is an esoteric speculative side to class form development, and also a more concrete immediate side. The teacher’s attention is always shifting between those two sides, and the mastery of teaching involves graceful transitions between the virtual and the actual. On the speculative side, we consider deep motivational factors which are reconsidered for each unit. The deeper motivation for learning is always to become someone else. The teacher bears the maps for the directions of these transformations, which are individuations at both group and personal levels. Deep pedagogy is only possible where the students have confidence in the teacher’s ability to guide them on this mystical path, and that ontological authority is maintained through the tests of discipline. This abstract direction is drawn by images of superior people and civilizations. These images comedically combine values which are aristocratic, bourgeois, religious, militaristic, agrarian, artisanal, or proletarian.

The sense of civilization must remain profoundly dialectical, and always responsive to the uncodified disaster of ontological difference. If civilization is not to be a fetish, then it must be grounded in primary ontological breaches, and this is why the speculative identity of sense and non-sense is primary. Our moody model for cognizing that ground is always the symbolic deadlock, or the failure of the material finitude of the signifier. The deadlock itself is a dynamic power of contact with the infinite. The deadlock is never determined, because it depends on how we proceed – our paths of development determine which deadlocks we reach, or how we run up against the conflicted finitude of the material signifier. The deadlock only actualizes when we absolutely positivize the sense of civilization in prayer.

The deepest problem is our uncertainty regarding the scale of our finitude, which is ideological uncertainty. Are we individuals? Families? Races? Civilizations? Life form? As an individual my life has a finitude, but my life-form has some completely other finitude. In which finitude is the positivity of my subjective action grounded? Changing this contextual frame shifts all my pragmatic variables, and all the the terms for the calculations of my sacrifices. And this is further complicated by the uncertain prospect of afterlives. Our deepest deadlocks carry us towards this oceanic uncertainty which is the abgrund for all our apparent day-to-day deadlocks.

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