Cormac Gallagher – Despair, Despair, Despair… Spare

THE LETTER 11 (Autumn 1997) pages 108-129


On my first visit to Canterbury I came uninvited as one of Henry II’s Barons in Jean Anouilh’s Beckett, to murder the saintly archbishop of that name. I am very happy to be here again, this time at your invitation, and I want to assure you that my mission on this occasion is not to do a hatchet job on affect in the name of some intellectualist overlord who might wish to treat it as a troublesome priest that the analytic kingdom would be well rid of. What I do hope to be able to do is to say something about what the teaching and practice of Jacques Lacan has to contribute to the subject of our discussions at this conference.

I am going to present to you a sort of preliminary collage of view­points drawn from a thirty-year period of his work because to the best of my knowledge no-one has yet mapped out the different positions taken by Lacan on affect at different stages of his life and it would be premature for me to pretend that an overall synthesis could be presented at this time. But first to my title.

I chose it, or rather accepted it when it came to me, because it seemed to echo the notions that immediately occurred to me when I was asked to speak to you about affect and in particular about what the work of Jacques Lacan can contribute to our theoretical formulation and to our practical handling of something so central in our personal experience and our analytic work. …

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