Put Things into Play (and, after later theoretical reflection, vice versa)


Why do I dwell on “meanings,” maps, charts, links, words, linguistic nuance, even when what we are about in performance are actions?

The Lacanian turn in psychoanalysis was to assert that this activity on the Other stage obeys not the laws of biology but language. It’s a bold, non-intuitive claim, and one that is hard to “prove” without giving, also, a taste of the psychoanalytic experience as a referent. That’s very difficult.

What I would say is this. What do symbol systems allow us to do? Very simply, they allow us to PUT THINGS INTO PLAY. And because of the nature of such systems, some of the play is autonomous. We have conscious influence, but the system also runs on its own, employing an integral system of movement, transformation, “energy” (Freud had no other way to think about it at the time). Let’s use the old fashioned term libido just because it is very evocative and has a useful condensing aspect. Our libido relies on symbolic operations to…function. It is not purely “cellular” or “instinctive.” In fact, to the extent that we can acknowledge the workings or vicissitudes of a libido, we are acknowledging something that is defined by the reality of symbolic activity, of things PUT INTO PLAY.

So when we explore and then review and re-express, we are using “meanings” to portray the very simple truth of our drives and desires AT PLAY. We are attempting to discern some of those hidden, autonomous, symbolic exchanges that allow us (as libido, if you will) to be.

Obviously, I am not talking about the propositions of medical science, but neither am I poo-pooing them. I am not talking about a more traditional “psychological” approach, but I don’t dismiss that either.  But I digress at this point.

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