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Moss, D. (1991). Introductory Note. Am. Imago, 48(2):177-180.

(1991). American Imago, 48(2):177-180

Introductory Note

Donald Moss

In spite of an explicit and even urgent interest in the set of problems and possibilities posed by the idea and ideal of free association, psychoanalysts have had little to say about the cognate set of problems and possibilities posed by the democratic ideal of free speech.

In part, our relative silence on the matter may be just an incidental consequence of the shifting and contingent determinations which segregate private discourses from public ones, clinical psychoanalysis from applied. But our silence may also represent a measured intention, a kind of prognostic judgment of gravity, however underformulated that judgment may be.

Perhaps the gist of that judgment, derived both from the grind of a century's worth of clinical experience, and from the much more brutal grind of a century's worth of catastrophes, would be that all speech, no matter its claims to the contrary, is necessarily unfree, necessarily obligated to a predecessor, and that the spoken word, regardless of its apparent audacity, authority, and authenticity, is in some crucial measure already spoken for.

Such a judgment would pass itself off as disinterested.

It might be presented as a simple elaboration on the idea that transference is a universal phenomenon which sets limits and gives shape both to clinical discourses and to socio-political ones.

The argument could be easily sketched. To speak transferentially is to have one's words already spoken for. Transference figures are those to whom our words are obliged. They are our creditors. Our indebtedness to them is structured by way of the Oedipus complex. Jeopardized by the spectre of castration, we come out of the Oedipal moment with bodies and minds extensively mortgaged.

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