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c h a p t e r 2 Of Debts, Dreams, and Jokes: or, Weberian Theatricality Simon Morgan Wortham It might be said that Samuel Weber made his name by writing on psychoanalysis rather than deconstruction. Early texts published in MLN and Glyph in the 1970s, although by no means devoid of reference to Derrida’s work, were to devote attention to various aspects of Freud’s writing in particular. Subsequently, it was his two books on psychoanalysis which brought Weber critical acclaim. Return to Freud: Jacques Lacan’s Dislocation of Psychoanalysis was originally written and published in German in 1978, while The Legend of Freud first appeared in 1982. Indeed, Weber’s next book, Institution and Interpretation, which explores issues of interpretive conflict and their relationship to processes of institutionalization, includes complex and influential writings that draw extensively on readings of psychoanalytic texts. Here, essays such as ‘‘Reading and Writing—chez Derrida’’ and ‘‘The Debts of Deconstruction and Other, Related Assumptions ’’ offer critical readings of deconstruction by way of a return to Freud and, indeed, an exploration of Derrida’s engagement with him, most notably in The Post Card. Of the different texts included in La Carte postale, it is perhaps ‘‘Spéculer—sur ‘Freud’’’ which is of the most interest, since here Derrida retraces the strategy or scenario of ‘‘making a name’’ for oneself: in the case of psychoanalysis, a ‘‘pseudonymic’’ name which Freud makes for himself, one which confuses species and genre. In various ways, PAGE 44 44 ................. 16645$ $CH2 10-10-07 15:00:56 PS 45 Of Debts, Dreams, and Jokes; or, Weberian Theatricality across the body of his writing, Weber shows the importance the name of Freud holds for both psychoanalysis and deconstruction—indicating perhaps the irony that Weber’s name has itself been made by virtue of writings which frequently dwell on the operations, implications and effects of this other name: Freud. How this ‘‘debt’’ is to be assumed or repaid, just how it is ‘‘owed’’ and whether indeed it is ‘‘owned,’’ poses itself as a question which remains closely tied, of course, to the kinds of readings of psychoanalytic texts, and indeed of ‘‘deconstructive’’ ones, undertaken by Weber. Since it would be difficult, to say the least, to dispense with them easily, any reader of Weber or Derrida will have occasion to return to these texts on the name and indebtedness of Freud and of psychoanalysis. In brief terms, however, they allow Weber, via Derrida, to ponder the notion that, ‘‘in contrast to more traditional sciences and disciplines, psychoanalysis is bound up with the name of its founder’’ since ‘‘its specificity is indissolubly linked to a fundamental indebtedness’’ (‘‘Borrowing is the law,’’ as Derrida puts it: the law of psychoanalysis, in the multiple sense of such a phrase), so that ‘‘something like a proper name is required to hold it together’’ (this line of enquiry opens up most especially in Weber’s essay ‘‘The Debts of Deconstruction and Other, Related Assumptions’’).1 ‘‘But for this very reason,’’ writes Weber, ‘‘the ‘property’ of that name will be even more fragile than is ordinarily the case in regard to the sciences’’ (108). Indeed, Weber suggests an affinity between, on the one hand, the necessarily fragile reduction of the entire discursive practice of psychoanalysis to the proper name of ‘‘Freud’’ and, on the other, the ‘‘noncontingent limitation at work in the Oedipus complex’’ described by Derrida in La Carte postale, whereby the latter—the Oedipus complex—constitutes itself as a ‘‘reductive , regulative fiction, a part masquerading as the whole’’ of what Derrida describes as the ‘‘nebulous matrix’’ of the fort-da (106–7). As Derrida points out, what goes under the name of ‘‘Oedipus’’ might be said to distinguish only one of the ‘‘threads’’ or ‘‘sons’’ of this ‘‘nebulous matrix, with its chains of fusions or fissions, its permutations and commutations without end, its disseminations without return’’ (106).2 Nevertheless, as Weber notes, it becomes extremely difficult to account for such apparently unavoidable or ‘‘noncontingent’’ reduction, when just such reduction would seem to be ‘‘the condition of the possibility of accounting in general’’ (107). This aporetical situation surrounds the oedipal reduction being discussed here, but also presumably envelops the circumstances in which the complexly and unstably interwoven matrices of ‘‘psychoanalysis’’ are reduced to the name of Freud. From this point onward, then, the ‘‘noncontingency ’’ under discussion means that one cannot dispense with an PAGE 45 ................. 16645$ $CH2 10-10...


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