With the founding of The Undecidable Unconscious over a year ago by Eric Anders, our journal began its effort at effecting change in the relationship between the psychoanalytic community and those professional academics still oriented toward both deconstruction and psychoanalysis. On the surface, the project seemed modest: the production of a new journal. Yet underneath we promised something rather more ambitious: to create a rallying point for those working in traditional academic environments to consider the clinic as a more effective site for sustaining themselves while extending their efforts at intervening critically into contemporary life, and to offer an invitation to those clinicians interested in academic theory in general, and deconstruction in particular, to construct bridges between these two worlds that are too often disconnected. We believe that deconstruction itself provides such a bridge—one that can be more faithful to what is revolutionary about Freud’s vision, and therefore one that can be even more psychoanalytic than most institutionalized forms of psychoanalysis, as Derrida argues in “Let Us Not Forget—Psychoanalysis.”
With regard to academia, our vision has been that philosophy—no longer supported by the administrative frameworks of the university industry, as Simon Critchley described so well in our inaugural issue—could find renewed relevance in the context of the clinical practice of psychoanalysis. With regard to the clinical world, our vision has been that both the clinic and deconstruction have something to learn from the other, that deconstruction can [End Page vii] and should be a Derridean “friend” of psychoanalysis, and that deconstruction also needs psychoanalysis as such a “friend,” as Eric Anders argued in his introductory essay to our inaugural issue, “Let Us Not Forget the Clinic.”
The question of the relationship between psychoanalysis and deconstruction today concerns above all the power of both psychoanalysis and deconstruction with regard to what they can accomplish both within and without the politics of contemporary institutional culture, and in connection with one another. This is the fundamental question of and for our journal.
It is therefore fortuitously well timed that we have the opportunity to present as our first entry in this issue Derrida’s “Beyond the Power Principle,” here translated into English for the first time by Elizabeth Rottenberg. In her introduction to the essay, Rottenberg rehearses its history since it was first presented at a conference honoring Foucault at New York University in 1985. In it we find Derrida beginning the process of mourning not only Foucault’s death but also the time the two had wasted in not speaking to one another thanks to the destructive complications of academic politics. While speculating on what a more careful encounter between Foucault and psychoanalysis might have engendered, Derrida appropriates the great Foucauldian theme of power for deconstruction, by discovering traces of différance in Foucault’s late analyses of “spirals of power and pleasure” in his attempt at a history of sexuality. What this history consists in, what sexuality does to history by undermining the category of the historical object, and how this brings Foucault closer to psychoanalysis than he himself would ever have imagined all lead Derrida in the direction of envisioning a crucial role for Foucault’s project in thinking the demands of the world today. The reader thereby discovers that “Beyond the Power Principle” is a key text for understanding the origins of Derrida’s later turn toward an explicit thinking of deconstructive politics, as well as for understanding the central place that psychoanalysis held for him in that turn.
Accordingly, each of the essays that follow either implicitly or [End Page viii] explicitly concerns itself with questions of power, as if to indicate that this is a theme inherently driven to assert itself once deconstruction and psychoanalysis are put rigorously into dialogue.
Alan Bass’s “On the History of Fetishism: De Brosses and Comte” offers a history of the concept of fetishism beginning in the eighteenth century and leading up, through psychoanalysis, to the discourse of contemporary neurobiology. Bass locates in the work of Charles de Brosses and Auguste Comte decisive moments in the history of this concept for understanding how a generalized appreciation of the...