Violence today seems not to address only our physical bodies and sense of safety: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, ISIS, but also our positions as subjects: the medicalized body, the surgically aesthetically improved body, civic subjectivity reduced to consumption, mental health reduced to pharmacology. Timothy McVeigh said, “the government is increasingly hostile,” and blowing up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was what he called “the just response.”
This conference asks questions about violence and its relationship to the Other. Freud famously showed how civilization brought discontent, a necessary consequence of repression. Today, with the command to enjoy as part of the social symbolic entreaty, perhaps we can say that we live in the age of blisscontent, a suffering from enjoyment and the command to enjoy particular to our moment.
How is violence tied to forms of cultural consumption and civic participation in an era where "enjoy" is a demand? How are new clinical symptoms part of the discontents of this social inscription? How has mental health “treatment” become the handmaiden of this system? Does psychoanalysis avoid this problem? How does the violence of surveillance, organizational management, evaluation, testing and even clinical “diagnosis” become manifest when the voice of the other -- ethnic, neighbor, monster, foreigner, enemy, or 99% -- or the 1% for that matter - is finally allowed to speak? How has global culture eviscerated the differences between bodies and information as we are increasingly induced to treat our neighbor as virtual matter?
Consider the convergence or complex relations between symbolic law and violent outbursts? When does symbolic law inspire “revolutionary” violence or awaken real and productive hopes and change in a people (The French Revolution, Hitler’s rise to power, The Arab Spring)? And how may we conceptualize all of the above in light of the various theories of the death drive?
This conference is interdisciplinary. We invite papers from the humanities, social sciences, clinical and theoretical psychoanalysis, health and related fields to submit paper proposals.