Letter from the Editor

The Existential Psychoanalytic (& Phenomenological) Institute started eight years ago in coffee shops and free spaces in downtown Seattle.  At that time it was barely more than a reading group and a vision.  Since then, a small number of dedicated individuals have labored night and day to build a community of individuals who desire to make a positive impact on the world through the methods of phenomenology, psychoanalysis, Critical Theory, and all related reflective discourses.  We now have offices in San Francisco, Boulder, Minneapolis, and Missoula, and an intention to build new ones in other U.S. and foreign cities.  Our membership is now regional, national, and international, and we have integrated ourselves with a number of sister-institutes and organizations in cooperative collaboration.

Our activities have increased greatly: We now have a weekly radio show, several post-graduate diploma programs in advanced psychoanalysis and phenomenology, rigorous quarterly seminars, an academic press—and this journal.  In 2012, we published our very first issue.  This issue here is our second, and it tracks most of the presentations from the August 1-3, 2013, conference.  We have scheduled the 2014 conference, which will focus on eco-phenomenology and culture, as well as the 2015 conference, which will focus on literature.  I am delighted to have the privilege of writing this short letter to our readers, and hope that it conveys, motivation, and commitment of our institute members and conference participants.

At this year’s congress, we were pleased to listen to such valuable new ideas regarding the current state of matters in phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and Critical Theory.  The difficulty in the creation of useful and understandable dialectic in diverse discourses regarding subjectivity is evident but we must press on in our pluralist community.  Alienation between clinicians and theoreticians can be bridged, we believe, but only through artful structuralization of empathic discourse in a rigorous format. Even between members of the academy who operate in disparate fields, we perceive difficulty in the creation of a meta-textual account of the creation, operation, and development of subjectivization—that critical source of meaning that creates a world of dialogue, polemic, and praxis.  In some cases it is as if we are speaking foreign languages to one another, both literally and metaphorically.  There is, therefore, the related problem of jargon. Some of us believe that we ought to be able to express complex, technical ideas through the metaphors of natural, ordinary language; others believe that this is not possible, that we must construct refined, sophisticated languages that capture recondite concepts through them.  It remains to see how this discussion develops.

There is also the value question.  At the Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society we are always on guard against theory and practice that has little value for the betterment of the human condition.  We strive toward application and praxis that goes beyond the gamesmanship and scuttling about that is often endemic in academic conversation–parole–concerning the progression and development of theory.  Together in solidarity, most of us believe that phenomenology and psychoanalysis, their methods and expressions, can legitimately seek a home in application.  For example, psychoanalysis can be utilized outside of the clinic for cultural criticism, education, and mediation; Analogously, phenomenology can be useful for interior and environmental design, applied art, and natural science.  This is not say that we do not value clinical experience, as many of us are experienced and dedicated clinicians who defend anti-corporate/pharmaceutical methods with the help of our theoretical and trans-theoretical work.  In short, we are always vigilant about striving toward the Good in actions we undertake at the institute, which permeates all activities, including the journal.

Our mission is to develop and elevate the academic and intellectual standards of this journal. With each succeeding issue we hope to encourage, push, entice, and cajole our author-thinkers to transcend their limits.  In the future, we will contemplate issues that cluster around various themes or one of the various discourses that we practice. For example, in the future we may highlight applied phenomenology or classical psychoanalysis, Critical Theory or deconstruction/semiology.  We may revisit the ancient Greeks or Medieval Europe.  We may focus on clinical practice.  We will also expect more students, both undergraduate and graduate to participate; after all, they are the future; should I say l’avenir rather than le futur?  We owe great debt to our editorial team for their assiduousness and indefatigable commitment to aiding in the perfection of the work we publish.  They are not responsible for any mistakes, lacunae, or nonsense:  As Executive Editor, it is my privilege to take full responsibility for all errors and omissions.

Kevin Boileau
Writing in Missoula, Montana USA
Late summer, 2013