The Discourse of the Writer and that of the Intellectual. Problems for Literary Creation

Pérez Montaner, Jaume
Quaderns Divulgatius, 13 2000

One needs constantly to confront the questions of what is the role of the writer and of the intellectual, as a personal or collective contribution to the debate concerning the situation of literature, artistic creation and culture.
From the psychoanalitical point of view, Lacan wrote that the subject is the serf of a specific and determined discourse, based on and realised in language. A reading of Lacan's four discourses (that of the Master, that of the University, that of the Hysteric and that of the Analyst) reveals a great psychic complexity, with a structural basis of knowledge and truth which, from the perspective of psychoanalysis, can only be conceived as manifestations of the depths of the unconscious mind. The characteristics of each of these discourses are described below. The discourse of the Master, always the official discourse which, as discourse of the father and of the law, makes other discourses possible, is basically despotic, excluding fantasy and subjectivity. The discourse of the university which approaches that of the master, though reinforced by obscurantism, tends to be characterised by norms and discipline, subtly concealing the desire for power which always appears overtly in the master's discourse. The discourse of the hysteric, completely distinct from the other two, is that of complaint, denunciation, of obsessive demands and requirements, and focuses on the problem of subjectivity, violating all disciplinary and textual codes, rules and norms, technologies of knowledge and modes of production. It frequently confronts power and its posture is that of exclusion by a particular regime, discipline or dogma. Finally, the discourse of the analyst is that of knowing how to listen, ethically and patiently.
However, it would not be logical to attribute exclusively any discourse to a specific person, nor to situate it in a determinate physical space, but rather they are roles that the subjects adopt or may adopt according to the occasion and situation. We all emit our discourse as masters most of the time, as the university personality, ex catedra, quite often, or as hysterics in some cases. It rarely happens as analysts, or in other words, from that position of knowing how to be in the place where truth is, which is what really sustains the discourse.
The discourse of the creator approaches both that of the hysteric and of the analyst, inasmuch as these two discourses are structurally opposed to the discourse of the university and that of the master respectively. Can we speak of intellectuals as the generic group with a minimum of coherence and homogeneity? Perhaps yes, though when Joan Fuster wrote his 1956 essay titled "Intel.lectual" or "Erasme" he could imagine that his words and concerns were addressed to someone with similar doubts. As in the case of Erasmus, the significance of the Sueca writer, Fuster, has been not only representative but, in particular, highly exemplary. This is the exemplarity of an intellectually creative discourse which desires to be independent above all, with the necessary independence to intervene in anything that affects him not only as an intellectual but also, and especially, as a person and member of a society. Thus, in the Lacanian scheme of things, Fuster's discourse would be situated near the discourse of hysteria.
The intellectual becomes an intellectual in the very fact of intervening in the political domain on the basis of postulated specifics in the field of cultural production, amongst which the basic values of truth and justice should stand out above all others. In taking this step, the intellectual seems to escape from the sway of the master and begins to act from the place of truth, to bring into play the hysteric's discourse which is proper to writing with regard to creation, and to situate himself or herself in the privileged position which produces the meanings that structure discourse, in other words, in the position of the discourse of the analyst.
We might confirm that intellectuals linked with institutions generally remain passive with respect to anything referring to their direct relations with the system. Thus the independence of the intellectual, or a considerable degree of independence, is the essential requisite for the very existence of the intellectual.
Is the existence of the intellectual still possible, as this was understood until relatively recently, or is the intellectual already in the process of becoming an obsolete figure? As a public voice, his or her role has been manifestly usurped by politicians, mass media professionals and spurious celebrities. In spite of everything, justice and ethics must continue to make sense, the critical voice of the intellectual continues to be indispensable though it comes from the position of negation, from permanent opposition.
This is the need for the hysteric's discourse, that of complaint, demands, of writing in opposition to the closed, self-sufficient and thus impossible discourse of the new master. The need for dissidence, for boldness, for the writer, the reader and the intellectual-writer, the conjunction of art and intellect, the radical conception of art and of literature and for discourse from the position of truth.

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