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Bacon, R. (1995). Paranoid knowledge. Free Associations, 5(1):10-46.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(1):10-46


Paranoid knowledge

Roger Bacon

His pursuit was a form of evasion

The more he tried to uncover

the more there was to conceal

the less he understood.

If he kept it up

he would lose everything.

He knew this

and remembered what he could—

always at a distance,

on the other side of the lake,

or across the lawn,

always vanishing, always there.

(Mark Strand, “The Untelling”)


I want to start with a story. Some time ago a group of us were organising a series of seminars to be called “Attitudes to Analysis”. Our aim was to invite a selection of people involved with psychoanalysis, either as therapists, critics or academics, to come and talk about how they situated themselves in relation to analytic thought and practice—what they made of it and what it had made of them. One of those we invited was a well-known psychoanalyst. None of us knew her personally, but a mutual friend had assured us of her interest and good wishes. So we wrote a letter and received back a refusal that was curt to the point of rudeness.

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