Issue #64 August 2023


Freud never stopped theorizing about why it was that mere talking could have such profound effects through the psychoanalytic cure. The process, as Freud conceived it, was of a patient basically talking themselves better. The analyst was there to gently guide the stream of language towards its own glitches and inconsistencies, its gaps and jumps, to bring what was left unsaid into connection with the streams of the said. Once the field of language, its network, gained a consistency, and there were no longer strange attractors or singularities contorting its flows, then there was no longer a problem for psychoanalysis to solve.

The image that emerges here is a deep affinity for the subject with both a web of language, and a kind of reflex, or vital imperative, to spin a something into language, expanding and repairing its web. This something can’t merely be the unexpressed, as this wouldn’t justify the imperative. Instead it needs to be the unexpressible. The repressed, the sensory je ne sais quoi, the overly intense, the paradoxical.

The expressed and the unexpressible. A nice dualism. A dualism is philosophy’s natural repose. It often seems first necessary to establish one, rest, then undertake the real work of dissolving it.

The easy part of this work is the making of the problem of dualism itself. A problem so frequently useful it forms a swiss army knife (insofar as dualism is philosophy’s, that is thought’s, natural repose). Applied in the present case: if language has the imperative to express the unexpressible, it is obviously doomed by definition. There can be no spinning into language of that by definition is what is unspinable. But the imperative stands, and we rise to it, we cure ourselves via it. New things are said at every moment, some of them vital and interesting and critical. This must mean that the unexpressible is a category not anterior to language, limiting it, but internal to it. Unexpressible only in a ‘manner of speaking’.

Problem stating phase complete, now how to get a handle on that internal limit in language (which, after all, is the promise of all knowledge, of science advancing, of resolution and negotiation, and even our overcoming trauma)? Well, philosophers deal in problems much more happily than solutions. But, happily, this internal limit, beyond the problem of how to understand it, can appear in no other way than a problem itself; a cultural, psychological, scientific, ethical, speculative, and so on, problem that forms a horizon of potential novelty, enticing the reflexive imperative to keep on spinning language.

Cover illustration: Johan Christian Dahl, “An Eruption of Vesuvius”, (1824), [Detail].


August 2023


On The Validity of Normative Life: Habermas’ Discourse Ethics

by Rowan Anderson

Between Historical Reduction & Metaphysical Construction: Critiques of Representation in Foucault and Deleuze

by Turner Roth

Kant on the Problem of the Organism

by John C. Brady

Popular and Generational Shifts in Cultural Capital

by Diego Galán