Yes, it is true. I write for myself, or at least, it seems as though I do. I write to understand. I tell myself I do this because I desire understanding. I am beginning to think there is another force–something external from my self–which compels me to proceed.
To me, the activity of writing–whether it be analytical, like the posts that populate this feed, or symbolic, like the novel I am crafting–is akin to the process of undergoing psychoanalysis. In the psychoanalytic structure, there are two participants: the analyst and the analysand. In the creative framework, there is the audience and the writer. In psychoanalysis, the work of analysis involves the content of the unconscious. Likewise, in writing, the work of interpretation and symbolization involves the content of the unconscious. I believe that you readers, my audience, serve the function of analyst to my role of analysand.
“In therapy, Lacan says, the analysand’s basic position is one of a refusal of knowledge, a will not to know…it is only the analyst’s desire that allows the analysand through the painful process of formulating some kind of new knowledge.Bruce Fink, A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Theory and Technique, page 7
With that said, no one wants to relinquish their symptoms. We all want to remain homeostatic through the perpetuation of psychological symptoms that, while they may threaten relationships and life satisfaction, conceal dark, grotesque truths about ourselves, which we would rather never know. According to Bruce Fink, in the book cited above, most “people go into therapy at moments of crisis, at times when their usual modus operandi is breaking down. If, as Freud says, symptoms provide substitute satisfactions, these substitutes do not always work forever.” He goes on to explain scenarios that lead to the break down in proficiency of symptoms: they “come into conflict with society at large, with the tolerance of an individual’s loved ones, with an employer’s temper, or with the individual’s own expectations.” Usually, when this happens, one is wont to seek therapy in the hopes that the therapist can “fix it, patch things up, make the symptom work the way it used to.” It is for this reason that in order to truly subdue a psychological symptom, a person–an analysand–must experience a relationship of transference with an other, or a stand in for the Big Other (God/society/parents, etc…)
In the transferential relationship, the analysand (or writer) assumes the other has some insight into her psyche that she cannot, alone, access. Since this other is a stand in for some larger, more powerful (imaginary) Big Other, it follows that the analysand (or writer) wishes to please–fulfill the desire of–this other. Fink advises therapists to act as though they desire the analysand to continue therapy (even if, in truth, they do not) because in so doing, the analysand will persevere, with the goal of pleasing the therapist/fulfilling the therapist’s desire to continue the analysis. Without the other’s desire to help the analysand or to see her improve, there is little motivation to carry on dredging through the cavernous recesses of repressed trauma and humbling illusion.
As I persist through this journey to finish my novel manuscript, I find myself tapping into those uncharted places of my own subconscious. Without fully comprehending the links between the two, I am engaged in the process of writing into life these allegories for heretofore un-symbolized trauma and pain from my personal history. An unfortunate consequence is that I sometimes resist the process–put it off–procrastinate–with regard to certain scenes or the development of specific characters. What keeps me writing? What enables me to tread through the murk to grasp the ledge ahead?
Somehow, without knowing one way or another if you truly are out there, I believe you are–reading, nodding in agreement, cheering me on, and shouting “Eureka!” when I land on some enlightened clarity. It is because of your desire–for me to write and to illuminate some unforeseen, clandestine truth–that I labor over this blog and that novel.
For some time now, I have bullied myself about desiring an audience. I tell myself it shouldn’t matter whether or not the words I write are read and understood; I should write for myself. Today, I choose to think differently. Today, I choose to embrace my desire to be desired. That is ultimately the crux of why I do the things I do. I write because writing is that which I have to offer to those I wish to please and fulfill. Please accept my gift, and thank you for playing the role of my analyst (clearing throat) audience.
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