Afternoon Discussion and Closing Remarks

The Letter Issue 66-67 (Autumn 2017/Spring 2018) Pages 107-109

Conference: ‘Why was psychoanalysis founded by an emigrant?’

9th December 2017 in Marino Institute, Dublin

Afternoon Discussion and Closing Remarks

Guy le Gaufey: Charles you mentioned the omnipotence of God, or of the Father, and there is a history of omnipotence. God hasn’t always been omnipotent. He only became so after Job. Job is the inventor of omnipotence when he recognises that he will never understand the reasons why God works this way and not another way. That is the invention of omnipotence; the ignorance of the reasons of God, instead of the principle of reason I commented on this morning.

I would like to comment on the invention of atheism. Lacan in the seminar on anxiety wants to give a new definition of atheism because he wants to think about the obsessional and he says that omnipotence is not the invention of the obsessional. In the Freudian world when we say omnipotence then, immediately, the Ratman comes to mind because Freud invented the expression the ‘omnipotence of ideas’. Lacan says, but of course, omnipotence does exist, it is the symbolic order – the name of omnipotence is in the symbolic order. The question is, is there any presence in this world? And the answer is, obviously, we have to think of omnipotence as the symbolic dimension without any kind of presence. My question is what about this definition of atheism? What do we think about it because there is a real conflict between this way of thinking about psychoanalysis and religion?

Charles Melman: I wanted to speak about Job but you can’t talk about everything. Now, I am going to give you a very simple and a very lay definition of omnipotence. In my way of thinking, the feeling that omnipotence exists, the idea of omnipotence comes when your signifying chain is interrupted by a single trait. It’s not that there is one moment that comes before the other, it’s a simultaneous thing. In other words, the isolation of the Real in speaking breaks up this chain of speech between the element One and the element Zero…

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