A Logic of Being Against?

By: Bernard Lamarche | 2004

Parachute, Canada

Dissection, 1998

Resistance is born of one force’s thwarted affections for an-other…. It does not confront the enemy in order to inflictdefeat upon it, but struggles with adversity, for which theadversary is only a stand-in, in order to weaken it and makeit give in…. Resistance forces the enemy to shift ground andalter its game plan.1– Françoise ProustA few years ago, in 1996, an issue of the publica-tion Rue Descarteswas published, entitled simplyDe la Résistance(“On Resistance”). The openinglines of the introductory essay, by Dolorès Djidzek-Lyotard, proposed a few accepted uses of the word“resistance.” She noted that the term is used in theart of war, in politics, in physics and economics,but also in psychoanalysis and theology. In eachcase, Djidzek-Lyotard remarked, the word suggestsa power relationship and is consistently associatedwith strategy. With the social disturbances of recentyears featuring prominently in the news, taken upwith war and the concerns about and demonstrationsagainst the savage advance of globalization, onemight conclude that being “against” something is in-creasingly a part of the semantics of resistance – that a logic of adversity is being branded on this term,which moreover is becoming increasingly difficultto discuss beyond arguments for social order. In light of this, one might ask a two-fold ques-tion. First, is it possible, in an era as encumberedby short-sighted utilitarianism as our own, to thinkabout resistance precisely in terms beyond the per-ception – itself associated with a kind of Romanti-cism– that it is the work of the corsairs of militantgroups? Second, in a different vein but one in theend not that far removed from the first, is it possi-ble to imagine a kind of resistance which would bedistinct from the very idea of being “against”? Insodoing, by ridding resistance of a militancy whosegenuineness must, nevertheless, be acknowledged,it might be possible to lay claim to a resistancewhichwould be willingly out-of-sync with the times– although it would not, for all that, take pleasure inresigning itself to the brutal march of the oppres-sive forces of dominant institutions. It would thusbe a question of thinking about resistance beyondthe crenels of partisan quarrels or political activismand, at the same time, of loosening the grip of thepeculiar economy of impulse mechanisms, forwhich psychoanalysis has provided valuable ana-lytical tools.


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