University at Buffalo

The Center

for the Study of

Psychoanalysis and Culture


IN STOCK     Umbr(a) 2013

The Object

Eyers, le gaufey, harman, johnston, mcgowan, riha, rousselle, šumič

IN STOCK     Umbr(a) 2012


assoun, badiou, bryant, chiesa, de kesel, grigg, harman, stiegler, timofeeva,tomšič

IN STOCK     Umbr(a) 2011

The Worst

benslama, johnston, kordela, malabou, ophir, tarby, weizman, ŽIŽEK

IN STOCK     Umbr(a) 2010


cantin, jöttkandt, klossowski, malabou, mcnulty, miller, millot, rabate, zupanČiČ

IN STOCK     Umbr(a) 2009


benslama, copjec, jambet, massad, pandolfo, safouan, toscano.

Umbr(a) 2008


balibar, bergeron, ensslin, jenkins, johnston, karatani, maccannell, ŽIŽEK

IN STOCK     Umbr(a) 2007


baas, corbin, feltham, grigg, karatani, malabou, šumič, wajcman

Umbr(a) 2006


andré, apollon, canguilhem, david-ménard, dolar, morel, salecl, soler, visker,

Umbr(a) 2005

The Dark God

andré, chiesa, de kesel, hoens, jambet, lacoue-labarthe, mcnulty, reinhard, toscano

IN STOCK     Umbr(a) 2004


andijar, azoulay, gillespie, jöttkandt, laclau, miller, ramadanovic, rubenstein, ŽiŽek

Umbr(a) 2003

Ignorance of the Law

badiou, balibar, de carneri, miller, seshadri-crooks, stavrakakis, vogler, ŽIŽEK

Umbr(a) 2002


bersani, dean, hammill, lane, penney, phelan, rifkin, roof, tuhkanen

Umbr(a) 2001


cheng, dean, de kesel, dolar, gillespie, grosz, hyldgaard, laclau, maccannell, ophir and azoulay

Umbr(a) 2000

Science and Truth

badiou, bozovic, groome, milner, morel, ŽIŽEK

Umbr(a) 1999

Aesthetics & Sublimation

copjec, david-ménard, de duve, groome, rapaport, shepherdson, zupanČiČ

Umbr(a) 1998


de carneri, dor, grigg, hyldgaard, lewis, metzger, ŽIŽEK,

Umbr(a) 1997

On the Drive

copjec, collins, derrida, fink, glogowski, grigg, lyotard, malmo, mccannell, metzger, miller, moncayo, ragland, salecl, samuels, schneiderman, shepherdson, ŽIŽEK

Umbr(a) 1996


badiou, clemens, fink, gillespie, miller, verhaeghe, zlotsky


The question “why a journal?” is perhaps not so difficult to answer. As Mao Tse-Toung said, “if you have an idea, it’s necessary to divide it in two.” Thinking and political action are alike in that they both divide consciousness – between instances of enunciation and instances of reception. To think, then, is to enter a public space; or: true thoughts are only those that return to us in an alienated and thus invigorated form. In embracing this collective project, we mean to stave off a certain trend toward archival terrorism – we might even say, archival racism – that would short-circuit any address to the other in favor of some misguided notion of “mental privacy.”

Our commitment to psychoanalysis goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to this division in two. We will make ourselves the champions not simply of diversity – which is always more or less visibly in cahoots with what the Feks (in Russia, during the teens) call the “factory of kisses and doves;” that is, the machinery of consensual servitude – but of that subjective division which makes dissension inevitable. Our pages will be open not to any idea that happens to come along, but to rigorous debate.

This openness to debate extends to the issue of psychoanalysis itself. We intend to be as contentious on this score as Freud himself always was. Recall, for example, his quarrel with Jung, whose modification of psychoanalysis, Freud argues, produced the equivalent of the famous Lichtenberg knife: “he has change the hilt, and he has put a new blade into the instrument as the original one.” Not every approach that calls itself psychoanalytic is so. The correctness of this reproach to Jung is deceptively easy to grasp, given its phrasing. For what the father of psychoanalysis really meant to say was: “sometimes a knife is still the same knife, even if you change the hilt and put a new blade on it.” That is, it is what is in psychoanalysis more than its terms, more than its vocabulary, that is worthy of being preserved. It’s not for nothing that we call ourselves UMBR(a); we seek in the shadows the object of psychoanalysis and we will try to remain faithful to Freud not by parroting his words but by looking after his desire. This makes the question of fidelity much more difficult and much more essential.

Brecht said: if it’s not funny, it’s not true, and Lacan: communication makes you laugh. Obviously, neither was interested in academic discourse and its humdrum pursuit of knowledge and failure: knowledge as/through failure. They prized instead the surprise encounters with truths beyond knowledge. In order to avoid, as far as possible, the inevitable misfires of academic publications, we have conceived of UMBR(a) not as a periodical, but as an unpredictable. It has no schedule of publication, no regular format, and no set columns. Since the journal will also have no staff writers, we ask all of you who are interested in psychoanalysis to become our sites of “floating attention,” and to contribute to future issues of UMBR(a) whatever and whenever you can. We would like, in the manner of this inaugural issue, to publish long and short essays, translations, film and book reviews, conference reports, photos, photograms, jokes – any evidence of the unconscious. We also invite your responses to issues and articles.

-joan copjec
Editorial Introduction, Umbr(a): One (1996)


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