THE LETTER 21 (Spring 2001) pages 1-27
Contemporary discourses on the subject
Despite its 700 pages of typescript and the fact that it was delivered at yet another major turning point in Lacan’s teaching career, From an Other to the other remains unpublished and is rarely referred to in the Lacanian literature. Coming between the intriguing Psychoanalytic Act and the landmark presentation of the four discourses, it was the last of the seminars to be delivered at the Ecole Normale Superieur, and also the last to be held on a weekly basis. In terms of the sheer physical effort involved, the twenty-five sessions may well have been designed to demonstrate to the young Maoists – including his son-in-law – circling round him, as well as to his traditional opponents, that the old man was not finished yet.
Lacan seems to feel that he has to engage with an array of contemporary discourses that relate to his own central concern regarding the structure of the subject. But he opens up so many different fronts that it is often hard to know where the key battles are being fought or where the important advances are being made.
A heady brew
The first session opens with the claim that the ‘The essence of psychoanalytic theory is a discourse without words’. This might seem a strange proposition coming from the author of The Rome Discourse but in ‘an epoch dominated by the genius of Samuel Beckett’, as he puts it, he too seems to be inclining to the Irishman’s radical suspicion of language, especially when…