What follows is an edited version of a talk delivered on July 12, 2014, at the annual CFAR Conference. The theme this year was: “Sexuality: Phantasy, Discourse and Practice”. I participated in a panel on the general subject of “Sexuality and Phantasy”. My presentation was not prepared beforehand. This here is an edited transcription of a recording. As such, it tries, but fails in many ways, to capture the spontaneity and informality of what was said. But then, that’s the best I could do.
There you go.
I was wondering how to start today. I was considering the title of the panel, “Sexuality and Phantasy”, and struggled to think. What, if anything, could I add to the subject?
I realised this. I realised that whenever I find myself thinking about Sexuality, I find myself thinking of Descartes --you know, René Descartes, the philosopher.
Of course Descartes did not, as far as I know, write about sexuality as such --or about phantasy for that matter. But he did write about the mind-body problem.
This will be my starting point today.
It has been some time since I last posted something to this blog, but I guess you know how it is. Time --or rather, lack thereof-- has taken the upper hand recently.
I hope I will be able to post something soon, but in the meantime, this is just a short note about two lectures I will be giving in October and November, as part of Autumn 2012 Public Lectures Programme of CFAR.
There was a very interesting article on the New Scientist website, about the question of consciousness. The author, Ray Tallis, argues that we have failed to explain how consciousness equates to neural activity inside the skull because the task is self-contradictory.
Tallis, a Professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester, and Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, challenges the "orthodoxy", held by most neuroscientists and philosophers of the mind, that very soon scientists will be able to explain the mystery of human consciousness in terms of the activity of the brain. He stresses, however, that his argument is not about technical limitations; rather it is about the deep philosophical confusion embedded in the assumption that if you can correlate neural activity with consciousness, then you have demonstrated they are one and the same thing, and that a physical science such as neurophysiology is able to show what consciousness truly is.
This is the sort of things you see in films or read in novels –"Johnny Took his Gun" by Dalton Trumbo or "The Patient" by Georges Simenon are but two of the examples that spring to mind– but the report that circulates all media since yesterday is very real. A paralysed Belgian man who doctors thought was in coma for 23 years was conscious all along. It was only recently that a scan showed that his brain was "almost entirely" functioning. You can read the BBC report here.
I cannot begin to grasp what it must have been this experience for this poor man, but I can very vaguely imagine. A recent book and film used the metaphor of a diving bell. You are inside your body as if you are inside a diving bell. It's alright when you can control your diving bell. You swim around and interact with all other beings in diving bells you encounter. Suddenly something happens and you loose control of the diving bell. Your life as such is not threatened; but you can't communicate any more, you can't interact. You are trapped inside.
This is the blog of
a psychoanalyst practising
in North West London.
For more information,
please click here.
For a list of all posts,
please click here.