Can the Monster Speak?
Report to an Academy of Psychoanalysts
Distributed for Semiotext(e)
Paul Preciado's controversial 2019 lecture at the École de la Cause Freudienne annual conference, published in a definitive translation for the first time.
November 2019, Paul Preciado was invited to speak in front of 3,500 psychoanalysts at the École de la Cause Freudienne's annual conference in Paris. Standing in front of the profession for whom he is a “mentally ill person” suffering from “gender dysphoria,” Preciado draws inspiration in his lecture from Kafka's “Report to an Academy,” in which a monkey tells an assembly of scientists that human subjectivity is a cage comparable to one made of metal bars.
Speaking from his own “mutant” cage, Preciado does not so much criticize the homophobia and transphobia of the founders of psychoanalysis as demonstrate the discipline's complicity with the ideology of sexual difference dating back to the colonial era—an ideology which is today rendered obsolete by technological advances allowing us to alter our bodies and procreate differently. Preciado calls for a radical transformation of psychological and psychoanalytic discourse and practices, arguing for a new epistemology capable of allowing for a multiplicity of living bodies without reducing the body to its sole heterosexual reproductive capability, and without legitimizing hetero-patriarchal and colonial violence.
Causing a veritable outcry among the assembly, Preciado was heckled and booed and unable to finish. The lecture, filmed on smartphones, was published online, where fragments were transcribed, translated ,and published with no regard for exactitude. With this volume, Can the Monster Speak? is published in a definitive translation for the first time.
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Read here the words of a monster, brought to you unedited and without embellishment! Yes, it is true—the monster speaks! But he does not speak the language of castration and penis envy, nor is he fluent in lack and misrecognition. This monster speaks in his own words, and he does not speak as a subject, as an individual, but rather as part of a constantly mutating “somatheque.” The monster announces the fall of the father, the end of Oedipus, the solidarity of the monsters. This short book is powerful, dangerous, important. Read it alone but share it with friends. Whisper its secrets and tell everyone its message—the monster of whom you speak has left his cage.
author of Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire and Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Guide to Gender Variation
Drawing on decades of radical trans theory, Preciado presents not just a searing critique of the psychoanalytic establishment, but also a bold challenge to it. Calling for a paradigm shift that will have an impact way beyond its intended field, Can the Monster Speak? demands its audience to think politically, granting new power to previously marginalized voices.
author of Variations