ABSTRACT

In this article I propose to explore psychoanalysis, philosophy, and other erotic practices as inevitably inclusive of experiments in self-interruption. Indeed, these practices are often such experiments more than anything else. I draw here not only upon Adam Phillips but also on Stanley Cavell, Joan Acocella, and James Snead. The function of experiments in self-interruption is, for at least some practitioners, to turn the qualities of experience upon themselves for the sake of intensifying, deepening, extending, and in other respects enhancing these qualities. In the process of doing so, pleasure can be made so intense as to be practically indistinguishable from pain, and pain or, more precisely, its overcoming, so integral to the execution of an activity as to be an integral part of an intrinsically pleasurable pursuit. Good and evil as well as pleasure and pain have their experiential meaning only in reference to the somatic (hence, erotic) practices of social actors, human or otherwise. “The old phrase ‘stop and think’ is,” Dewey insists, “sound psychology.” It is also critical for pedagogy, philosophy, politics, friendship, and much else. The art of stopping ourselves is, however, a more subtle and difficult one than we might appreciate.

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