1. 2020:
    1. 03/21
    2. 06/06
  2. 2021:
    1. 01/16
    2. 02/06

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.↩︎








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?



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





  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。