Who knows why the University of South Carolina president, addressing a proud contingent of students and parents on an important day, referred to the students as lucky graduates of the University of California? Who knows why he for the third time (reportedly) recycled in this speech a plagiarized paragraph from a speech by a famous Navy Seal? Who knows why (according to some observers) he slurred his words throughout?

I don’t know why. But let me speculate about Bob Caslen, who has now resigned. Let me begin with the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips:

These are parts of ourselves – that don’t want to live, that hate our children, that want ourselves to fail. Freud is saying there is something strange about humans: they are recalcitrant to what is supposed to be their project.

I think anyone reviewing Caslen’s odd behaviors (which, according to some, predate this speech) would want to entertain the possibility that he hates his job (the university bestowed it unwillingly; he has been an unpopular president) and wants out; but rather than grasp that fact forthrightly (a military man, he has always done his duty) he has at it were allowed his unconscious to have its way with his situation. He has allowed his recalcitrance to what is supposed to be his project to emerge, and USC got the message.


For a wee bit more insight into the whole “unconscious” thing, consider the fact that in Donald Trump the USA experienced its first president with no apparent unconscious. He lost an election and this made him mad; to get the election back he sent a mob to the Capitol to kill his vice president (who made him mad), take out the Congress, destroy democracy, and get back what he wanted. When desperate allies called him from the besieged building, he blew them off and went back to enjoying the riot’s tv footage. Now THAT’S having no unconscious. Recalcitrant to his project? Just like Ubu the King, Trump was happily blowing up the world to achieve his project.

But this is very rare. Outside of select psychopaths, most everyone has an unconscious.

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