The Absoluteness of Not-Knowing

A panel presentation and discussion with the faculty of The New School for Analytical Psychology

October 24, 2015

Swedish Cultural Center

9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Our discipline as a whole is grossly unprepared to deal with the uncertainties and symbolic misery of our globalized times–an exhaustion that depletes our culture’s capacity to create a sense of a meaningful future. On another level, we as solitary practitioners struggle to bear and embrace the absoluteness of not-knowing in the face of shared suffering, anxiety and the many defenses erected against it, both within our patients and ourselves. The desperate chorus of the ‘need to know’ is deafening and deadening.

These brief vignettes by the New School faculty are our own unique and differing reflections on this vast and challenging problem. Each in their own way will touch upon the psychoanalytic ethos and how its relevance today may offer us a way forward in these precarious and uncertain times.

“We largely live like the inmates of Plato’s Cave. What simulacra of meaning enthrall us, making us willing prisoners who ignore our ignorance?”
Ladson Hinton

“I am interested in the subversive notion of psychoanalytic action amidst impossible global realities where there is no agency on which we can rely. Influenced by the work of Walter Benjamin and Slavoj Žižek, I will use the example of collective action that arose in a local mental health community when faced with the horror of the AIDS epidemic where each of us had to think radically on our feet in response to a terrifying and impossible demand.”
Robin McCoy Brooks

“I glimpse the un-knowable from what it is not–fierce denial and dread of death; the narcissistic currents that appropriate the uniqueness of the other, pervading both the culture and individual. Shattered by loss or tragedy, the shame of the  ‘objective gaze’ may unconceal within the subject that which he cannot see in himself.”
Kenneth Kimmel

“In the face of the Other, the psychoanalyst experiences a semiosis of nausea, vertigo, tenderness, and shame that we defensively try to capture in a coherent hermeneutical narrative. I will discuss how Laplanche’s anti-hermeneutics offers a support for ethical praxis while bearing the Other’s trauma”
Sharon R. Green

The Unknown

Our talk was of your God, I spoke
against him, I let the heart
I had
his highest, death-rattled, his
wrangling word—

Your eye looked at me, looked away,
your mouth
spoke toward the eye, I heard:

really don’t know, you know,
really don’t know

Excerpted from Zurich, At The Stork (for Nelly Sachs)
by Paul Celan, 1960

Excerpts from one of Celan’s most important poems, two survivors deal directly with the utter incomprehensibility of the Holocaust, the post-traumatic devastation it has wrought, and the question of God’s presence or absence in the face of such unspeakable horror. The two persons express an ambiguity that both hides and reveals.

Registration & Fees

$60 Pre-Registration
$65 General admission
$30 Candidate/Student

CEU Goals and Objectives

  1. Better understand our ignorance;
  2. Discuss the idea of action in the midst of psychoanalytic failure in modern times;
  3. To understand the defensive and violent mechanisms underlying ‘the need to know;’
  4. To understand the relationship between anti-hermeneutics, the transference, and ethical praxis.

Continuing Education

CEU hours provided for Licensed Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, and Social Workers
2.5 hour of Ethics

The panel’s presentations will include the use of cinema, poetry, and art,  and will be complemented by rich, extended group discussion, so that together, we may bring something new into being.

About the Presenters

Ladson Hinton

Ladson Hinton trained in psychiatry at Stanford, and is a graduate of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. He is a member of the Society of Jungian Analysts of Northern California, the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, and is a founding member of the New School for Analytical Psychology in Seattle. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Analytical Psychology and practices, consults, and teaches in Seattle. His recent publications are in the area of temporality and the philosophical and historical grounds of psychoanalysis.

Robin McCoy Brooks

Robin McCoy Brooks is a Jungian psychoanalyst and clinical consultant in private practice. She has written a progression of articles that attempt to clarify her interest in the phenomenology of subject formation and its traumas to include the wider contexts of a patient’s life. These include processes such as history, culture, technology, politics and economics.

Sharon R. Green

Sharon R. Green is a founding member of the New School for Analytical Psychology and the Seattle Lacan Study Group. She is a Jungian psychoanalyst who practices, teaches and consults in Seattle and is an analyst member of the International Association of Analytical Psychology. Sharon’s ongoing interests include the ethics of psychoanalysis and the intersection of art, literature, philosophy, and psychoanalytic praxis.  Her articles and reviews have appeared in the Journal of Analytical Psychology.

Kenneth Kimmel

Kenneth Kimmel is a Jungian psychoanalyst, author, and teacher. He is a member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and co-founder of the New School for Analytical Psychology. He has authored Eros and the Shattering Gaze—Transcending Narcissism, and a chapter entitled, “Dreaming the Face of the Earth—Myth, Culture & Dreams of the Mayan Shaman,” from the book, The Dream and Its Amplification, (Fisher King Press, 2011, 2013, respectively.) Ken has engaged in a twenty year-long study of the mystical tradition of Kabbalah and its interface with psychology and philosophy.

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