Shinlog

Index

  1. 2020:
    1. 03/21
    2. 06/06
  2. 2021:
    1. 01/16
    2. 02/06
    3. 05/07
    4. 05/15
    5. 06/23

What is expected from an application? Shall it be one’s closeness to psychological insights in their life? My confusion while composing this application is whether, in the position of analysand or analyst, I am expected to write this quasi self-introduction appliance, whether I should “speak more about myself” or approach my life in a more theoretical, analytical fashion. The following article is written in the latter position, the analyst one, for I believe it presents the closeness and potentials better.

At the end of last semester, I have been seeing professor Patrice weekly. Since I am primarily interested in philosophy, in our conversations he commented on philosophy, or a common motive to study philosophy to be precise: that philosophy is, after all, an attempt to make sense of one’s suffering. This comment was a shock for me. What this comment implies, in my interpretation, is a renunciation of truth and philosophy. The universality and truthfulness of philosophy are subverted to a mere defense mechanism. However, everyone’s suffering varies in its forms and quantities, which indicates truth, transcendental values, never possesses its self-assumed universal power. There always are people whose primordial trauma doesn’t make them form the need to justify their life by philosophy, whom Law doesn’t regulate to the same extent. Isn’t this also what Freud says about superego in The Ego and the id, that who acts most ethically receives the most punishment. When people argue and one may wonder why others just don’t understand what is “right,” it may be because they simply don’t need to.

But why was this terrifying exactly? Why wouldn’t I be satisfied with putting aside what philosophy may mean to others and pursuing “truth” by myself and for myself? Why is there the attribution of universality in the definition of truth and philosophy, the study of truth?1 After all, what does philosophy need the Other for? This leads to another interpretation: what hides behind philosophy is the impotence to accept life as what it is. And the achievement of philosophy is the withdrawal from life in all its painful vitality, from life’s “particular” to “universal,” to repackage a profound defeat as a triumph, but as a fake triumph.

God who forbids, truth which falsifies other understandings, and the Name-of-Father (also as father’s no, which is the same pronunciation in French) in Oedipal structure which prevents the child’s attempts in obtaining mother’s full attention and introduces castration, aren’t they different names of the same thing? They are the absolute Negativity that people serve and sacrifice for, as if a child tries to satisfy her/his father. We need the Other to recognize us, to tell us that the castration we have made is good and enough. Freud understands a child’s “education” as a loss of sexual pleasure. The immediate gratification of the need to eat and excrete is withheld or punished, and autoerotic behavior (thumb sucking, touching one’s genitals) is progressively discouraged. Children give up their pleasure in exchange for their parents’ love and esteem. This is why an Other is always presupposed in philosophy, the Other who desires our sacrifices and rewards us for them afterward.

But can we ever serve him (God, Father, or the Other) well? Are our sacrifices what the Other really wants, or what we fantasize the Other wants so that we can be rewarded? “Philosophy is an attempt to make sense of one’s suffering.” There is always a subjective stance behind a universal truth. We can never reach the harmony and wholesomeness that people fantasize about. Philosophy is a long way of pursuing unobtainable satisfaction. Therefore, in my opinion, the practice of studying philosophy (and gaining a kind of identity from it) is closely related to what Freud hypothesizes about the death drive. A drive that gains satisfaction from its very incapability of satisfaction, by repeating a trauma, attempts to retroactively undo the nefarious effects of a traumatic event.

Life is meaningless. The true sublimation lies in, in my current understanding, fully identifying oneself with that negativity of life. Life itself is imbalanced, incomplete, and traumatic. And we shall give up the need to justify life in any way. It is like when a child becomes her/his father, when we become God. I yet have enough vocabulary of how this sublimation works. But in psychoanalysis, in my perception, lies the key to this transformation.

According to the standard medical model, psychopathology consists of a deviation from normal mental functioning produced by a damaged development. Freud broke decisively with this model by positing a continuity between normality and pathology, as the title of one of his books, “The Psychopathology of Everyday Life”, indicates. The same mechanisms at work in mental illnesses also manifest themselves in the slips, bungled actions, and witticisms (his book on jokes) of daily existence. Even more audaciously, Freud pointed out the affinities of civilization’s highest achievements with different pathological phenomena ⸺ religion with the compulsive rituals of the obsessional neurotic, philosophical theories with paranoiac systems, art with infantile sexual fantasies. Just as Arthur Schopenhauer once offered the suitably Beckettian definition of walking as “a continuously arrested falling”, so psychoanalysis invites us to conceive of sanity as not the antipode of but a more or less well-regulated madness.

Imagine a situation in which a psychotic who is living in constant fear of having a breakdown, only to be reassured by his doctor, “Don’t worry, the breakdown has already happened, you are mad.” We are already dead/castrated. Search no more for reasons and justifications for life…


  1. Here I am referring to a narrow definition of philosophy. Instead of bidding farewell to philosophy, this writing opened my path to philosophy proper⸺it emptied the pathological.↩︎

早上被告知叶修离世了。最初还以为他遭遇了意外亦或病逝,读了读相关的文字,知道了是他选择的自杀,其实也并没有伤心。死亡是美丽的,我对叶修可以想好这一切感到羡慕。

为了一门日语presentation课,我执意花大量的精力写了一篇关于性差与创伤的文章作为展示的内容。对于这门课,显然没人会太在意具体内容的好坏,可是我真的很在乎。写到今天下午终于写出了成稿。

晚上和我母亲视频,又再一次地把所有时间都用在了听周围所有人认为学哲学没出路。


可能就是这三者的化学反应吧。刚刚去超市买晚饭时,站在货架前就突然被击垮了。细小的情绪被激化而不再能掩盖,被悲伤淹没,溃不成军地哭了起来。伸手拿食物的一瞬间,意识到我的身体一直都蒙骗着我,让我自然而然地活着。

被家长质疑我做的事情的意义时,我相信(甚至都不是「告诉我自己」,多么地自然)哲学、精神分析、总之这各种各样的事情真的是我必须做的。

饿的感受只是身体的可悲,是「我」的里面人类的那部分的狼狈。叶修的离开好像将这部分和我的连结轻轻地剥开了:每一次小小地选择活着,我都必须承担这个重量,都需要为其找个理由。我不能说我要找个意义,意义不过是无法直面真实而找出的借口。

如果说「我」可以分为人类的和非人类的两部分,那我只希望非人类的那部分运作。遵循着我所在的结构,像机械一般去完成我的命运,然后结束这段偶发,这样就够好了。像是完全忽视所有人的劝阻,执意要完成她哥哥的安葬的安提戈涅一样。按尼采的话说,生命只是疾病。


而正好,我今天完成了篇文章。写得如何呢?我是否找到了那个可以承担一切重量的理由?我根本写不出什么新的东西。我根本…… 如果不能创造,那为什么又要可悲地拖着一具肉体?为什么不欣然接受死亡命运?

人类的那部分的可恶之处就在于⸺进食、睡眠、还有各种小伎俩⸺所有的东西都甜言蜜语又暴力地让我活下去。我想能一直直面这个重量,它不让我…

每次看到人们把这些感受归结为情绪化的「他没想明白…」「谁都会对自己写的东西不满意」,只能感到有些无奈。我坚定地拒绝将这些如此理解。是的,它们是我的感受、我的情绪,但它们同时也是超出我的。是不可以逃避的,是不可以诋毁的。


Act without judging whether the action is right or wrong.
Love without caring whether what you love is good or bad.
Nathaniel, I will teach you fervour.

There is profit in desires and profit in the satisfaction of desires—for so they are increased. And indeed, Nathaniel, each one of my desires has enriched me more than the always deceitful possession of the object of my desire.

Nathaniel, I should like to bestow on you a joy no-one else has ever bestowed. I do not know how to bestow it and yet that joy is mine. I should like to speak to you more intimately than anyone has ever yet spoken to you. I should like to come to you at that hour of the night when you have opened, one after the other and then shut a great many books—after looking in each one of them for something more than it has ever told you; when you are still expectant; when your fervour is about to turn into sadness for want of sustenance. I write only for you, and for you only in those hours. I should like to write a book from which every thought, every emotion of my own would seem to you absent, in which you would see nothing but the projection of your own fervour. I should like to draw near you and make you love me.

Long only for what you have. Understand that at every moment of the day God in His entirety may be yours. Let your longing be love and your possession a lover’s. For what is a longing that is not effectual?

⸺ André Gide, The Fruits of the Earth

今日是哲学研究会的毕业发表。听完毕业生们的发表之后,连着开了虚拟联欢会。笑着听着要毕业的学长讲他每天凌晨去公园里联系滑板的事情,没钱买车所以要靠摩托驾照的事情,最近迷上了露营的事情……对于要毕业的学长,自然就会谈到之后要做什么。其中,学长A是在研究会中少数几个真的在研究哲学的人,毕业论文是关于阿甘本对于COVID所展开的一系列论述,以及其他当代哲学家对于阿甘本的回应和批判。这样的学长A,对我们说他马上要搬到伊豆,在一家旅馆中工作,说我们去那边玩的话会给我们优惠。来到日本之后,已经对于大家做和自己的专业无关的事情渐渐习惯。但是搬到一个只有自然的山区,要在旅馆工作还是着实让我吃惊了一下。我忍住没问为什么。去做自己想做的事情是理所应当的,不想特意问出来好像这是什么不自然的事情。但聊着聊着,学长就自然地说起了他想去那工作的缘由。他说他一直都在学习茶道,更远的梦想是当一个茶道老师。所以他想去了解如何招待(おもてなし)客人,觉得旅馆或许是一个好的起点。啊…

另一位学长M说他或许要去俄罗斯,说俄罗斯政府有一个项目,每年会招上万的外国人公费来俄罗斯学习,而在日本还没什么人了解这个项目。他应该还不会俄语,但据说政府会安排学习俄语的学校,也会有一些学习项目是英语进行。他又谈起他的初高中,貌似也是日本的精英私立,是会让人怀疑「这种学校日本也有」的程度地和国内的高中相似的地方。他也是一位让我觉得是真的在读哲学的学长(是的,尽管是哲学研究会,但大部分人的研究主题和哲学没什么关系),这学期的研究主题是德里达关于「原谅」的概念。看起来有些不善交谈,说话时有些缓慢,又让人感觉有他的韧性。看着他我总会不禁想起高中参加竞赛时的学长。他说这项目唯一的缺点就是政府会随机安排你去哪里,说不定他就被发配到西伯利亚去了。屏幕中的日本学长,光滑的下巴,适当有型的头发,简单有气质的衣服,是常见的日本男生。最近读陀思妥耶夫斯基,所以不禁想象了这位学长去俄罗斯丰富了人生的经历,感受了那边的寒冷,或许留起了胡子,或许某刻在火炉旁读书。

这些对话都发生在这次虚拟联欢会的末尾,一次祝贺学长们毕业的联欢会。是真正意义的尾声,连回响都不一定来得及的尾声。但又确实地激起了人生的质感,让我一晚上都有些难以平静。说实话,自由一直以来并不是我的所属。对生活中的绝大部分都有种分离感的我来说,并不常会冒出「我想要自由」的想法。作为追求目标的自由,或许或多或少都是从什么什么(的约束、压迫中解放)的自由。我有路过过这样的种种自由,从国内教育系统的自由,从信息管控的自由,从资本社会的自由……但一直都只是路过,没有停留。今晚的谈话是第一次让我感到我向往自由。我想学长们做出那些选择时或许根本没把自由当作什么目标吧。并非是为了离开人烟才去旅馆工作,也并非受够了日本才想去俄罗斯。他们做出那些选择的时候就已经是自由的,自由只是作为结论而后显现。自由的概念只有当不再需要通过否定什么而证明自己,而是在偶发的生活中已然显现,才真的是自由的。


后日谈:

  1. 他们在我看来是自由的,正是因为他们所做的仍是我做不到的。他们的自然反衬了我的不自然。话虽如此,我也没什么把「从社会常规中解放的自由」当作我努力的意向,此文只是对于那刻他们在我眼中所呈现的自由的感慨的记录。改变会自然发生。Wo Es war, soll Ich werden. (“Where it was, shall I be.” — Freud)将反叛当作口号无非是另一种束缚。
  2. 文中对于两位学长都强调了他们读哲学的身份。或许对于他者来说,这点或许并非什么关键信息,最多也就是将他们的形象具体了一点。但是这点却对我来说是必要的,是让我感受到他们的自由的核心信息。或多或少我还假设着一种与「哲学」相关联的激情,一种与「哲学」相关的生活方式;或多或少我被「哲学」的身份束缚着。但当我意识到这点时,其实这个束缚也就要消失了吧。

[Dream] It began with some fantasy story. I was on a secret mission with one partner, which is all I can recall. Then I was happily chatting with that partner in a public bath, which is also common in China. The partner disappeared and my father entered the view. He was searching for me. He wanted me to report to him where I go, but I was happy having my own time.1 He walked towards me through the bath. I was embarrassed by his somehow muscular attitude. (Blaming his child, me, in the public. However, in reality, my father is rather restrained in the public.)

Right afterward, I was in my home in China. My father was lecturing me. I argued back. He took a stick and later a knife, threatening to beat me. I fought back and yelled at him: (also where I woke up)

“You are basically saying two things: I do not own anything in this house. (And I cannot earn any money by myself. You just want me to die!)”

In parentheses is what I haven’t said yet in the dream, where I woke up. The first point is a general feeling I always have and I think there were times when my father was lecturing me, he had said this kind of words. (Nothing in this home belongs to me.) Interestingly, I can’t make sense of the second point. It does not make sense why I can’t earn money by myself, and how my father is related to this.

On a later note, it occurs to me, as misleading as this might be, that if I have to localize these two unnatural elements in my dream (embarrassment and “you can’t earn money”), it would be from my mother. It is my mother who used to lecture me in the public, and always talks about my major and potential occupations. (“Can you find a job studying philosophy?”, etc.) That is to say, the sense of weirdness derives from the displacement of my mother with my father as if the aggressiveness towards my mother should be repressed.

I have questioned myself since long before why I barely see my mother showing up in my dreams. My father is rather that old totalitarian figure (“Go visit your grandpa no matter what!”). The rule is clear. No abyss of other’s desire. It leaves my private sphere of desire and subjectivity untouched. I am actually doing well with my father recently. It is rather my mother who I think I should be angry with, but I can’t feel the anger.


  1. The pressure to report my location appeared also in another dream I had last year, in which I pretended to have gone nowhere because it felt troublesome to me to explain to my father. In my hometown, my family went out mostly by car. My experiences of going somewhere alone have been quite limited, resulting in an unofficial forbiddance of me to go outside alone.↩︎

[Dream] I was traveling with my high school classmates in Japan. It was a school trip. We were packing and going to fly back to China. Somehow I had a lot of baggage, to the extent that there is no way I can carry it all by myself. I felt anxious about whether I could pack everything in time while walking around the entrance of the hotel we lived in and observing what everyone else was doing at the time. Some were already taking buses that go to the airport; some seemed to have already packed everything, playing together and waiting to leave. I didn’t know what I should do, what is the schedule. I felt left alone.1

“There is no time to wonder,” it occurred to me, “I have to pack right now.” I entered the hotel. It was a tall building, gorgeous and complex, like a maze. The only clue preventing me from getting lost is my room number. It felt like even though we all lived in the same building, we were separated, forced to shelter ourselves in our own rooms, and forbidden from visiting each other in the hotel. I entered the elevator, accompanied by two male peers. Although I felt a little annoyed by their masculine attitudes, I chose to play along with their phantasm.2 Occupied by the conversation, I missed my stop. I got out as soon as I could. Somehow the elevator turned into a minibus, and the outside was not a floor in the hotel, but the east side of Shonandai station. (It felt natural to me in the dream.)3

I wanted to go to the west side of the station. The road was not the asphalt road, but a mud ground full of little rocks and glass flakes. Bare feet, I was nervous if I would hurt myself. However, I managed to run towards the station without hurting myself. Once I got over this obstacle of how to go to the other side of the station, I started thinking aimlessly (like in shower time). I felt like I want to try new things, to be flexible, yet there is a limit. Myself appeared transparent to my gaze, allowing me to see what I am consisted of. I saw three cloud-like clusters of energies: to eat, to sleep, to think (There is no word that appeared in my dream to represent the last one. It is neither “to read books” nor “to study philosophy”, no signifier to engender identification. It is a sense of urgency without an aim.) There is no extra part of me which I can alter. I wanted to turn to Niina for help, but immediately I gave up this thought. Maybe there is no answer. Reflecting as I am writing down this dream, I don’t think I felt helpless.


  1. This impotent gaze is a common element in my dream. I was wandering around, having no interaction with others. Why did I not simply ask others what I should do? Am I confronted with the fact that there is in the Other no signifier that can answer for (répondre de) what I am? It is the pure cogito designating the very point at which I lose my symbolic identity. Suffice to recall Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life in which the hero witnesses how things might have turned out in the case of his nonexistence, or Hitchcock’s Rear Window in which the hero is immobilized only to observe from the window what is happening.↩︎
  2. Masculinity for me refers to a very specific definition, irrelevant to the actual gender. It may be understood as “behind the name of the Father, am impostor who does not have the encourage to claim responsibilities for his own desires.”↩︎
  3. It might be due to the expression “miss my stop” that the signifier shifts to “bus” for its automatic mechanism.↩︎

[Dream] I was looking down at a black chip I hold at hand, a chip like what people use in gambling houses. Everything sank into pure blackness except my arms and the chip I was holding. It was like a candle lighting up in darkness. The chip has some sort of symbol on it, which renders it of vitality. Someone was speaking to me. It was a man, but I don’t recall any details of him further. Even his voice is uncharacteristic insofar as it left no imprint in my memory. But I guess it means I was comfortable with his voice.

That person said, “Life is only fun if you take a risk and play at the edge. But be careful that if you play too hard, you can lose your life.” I tossed the chip, wanted to express “got it” by complying with what he said, but failed to catch my chip. I felt calm even though the chip has fallen into the dark. I made no attempt to find my chip. (Up to now, it was me who held the chip and failed to catch it. Suddenly, however, I started to recognize myself as another person.) I realized that in “that man’s” efforts to live, that man happened to lose his life.

I woke up first crying and then laughing. The emotion that drove me to cry was sympathy. I found that person’s life ironic and tragic. He was innocently following the word and yet he lost his life. Then I started laughing hard because of the paradoxical core of the message. To be noted, there were no definitive words but only images for the message. I summarized the images into the sentence aforementioned. There were mainly two images going on parallel in my mind: 1) you have to use your chips until there is only one left. But once you lose the only chip you have, you would have none (in other words, you would die). 2) you have to play on the edge. But this also makes it easier to push oneself over the edge. As I woke up, I tried to take a note of the dream and delineate why I found the dream so funny, ending up feeling confused since it barely makes sense as a joke.