Ten years ago, the first issue of THE LETTER was published. As you begin to read this, the thirtieth issue of the journal, perhaps you will share some of the excitement and enthusiasm which I feel about this truly wonderful journal that we have here. As a reader of THE LETTER during the last five years I have always been struck by the high standard of the contributions as well as its consistently sophisticated packaging and appearance. THE LETTER has functioned as a hugely valuable resource for me over the years and I know that for my fellow students during my time as a student at the School of Psychotherapy, this experience was shared by them. Moreover, in speaking to our colleagues both at home and abroad who wait eagerly for the next issue to appear, what comes across is a real sense of appreciation and respect for the journal.
THE LETTER needs hardly any introduction, it is known and (unlike a great many other psychoanalytic journals) it is enjoyed. In terms of enjoyment, as a contributor to the journal, I have experienced a real delight in seeing my own work published therein. It is indeed a privilege for me to take up this position as editor of THE LETTER, and I feel honoured to be involved with this project. I intend to do my best to ensure that the high standard and quality to which you have become accustomed, continues. Speaking of high standards: there is no adequate way to speak highly enough of the talent, skill, scholarship, and passion of the ten-year editorship of Helena Texier. So perhaps in this, the tenth anniversary issue of THE LETTER, you might accept our gratitude to you, Helena, for bringing your passion and commitment, your scholarship and skillful editorship to the production of this excellent journal.
Issue 30, being the third and final issue of the current volume, brings to the readership a selection of papers from those presented at the 10th annual congress of the Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland, held on 15th November 2003. The focus of much of the morning’s work was upon Lacan’s 1971-72 Seminar IXX …Ou Pire and the accompanying series of talks called The Knowledge of the Psychoanalyst. This issue opens with Cormac Gallagher’s commentary on that seminar. Situated between the seminars on Semblance and Encore, Cormac marks out …Ou Pire as the location in which Lacan substantially develops his treatment of the formulae of sexuation, as well as introducing some new terms – such as the matheme, and lalangue – which had been implicit in his teaching up until then, and the Borromean Knot. Cormac’s piece weaves a commentary around Lacan’s own mobilisation of these terms.
Next, we present the paper delivered by our invited speaker, Claude-Noele Pickmann, a regular contributor to the journal. Claude- Noele draws on her readings of Seminars IXX and XX, as well as on her clinical observations to examine what she calls a clinic of the not-all. Her critical examination of the Lacanian ‘not-all’ leads her to suggest that the not-all affords a gain for the subject such that the feminine finds a way/voice (voie/voix) through which it ceases to be mute.
In …Ou Pire and The Knowledge of the Psychoanalyst, Lacan draws on Plato’s dialogue called Parmenides because he insists that it will inform our attempts to grasp what he means by the Real. In his article, Barry O’Donnell provides us with an overview of the Parmenides, and proposes a relation between a reading of ‘the One’ of Parmenides, and the Real of Lacan: ‘both defy representation and signification and by so doing are instrumental in the functioning of signification.’
Patricia McCarthy in her article takes us from Plato, through Lacan, to Joni Mitchell in her examination of the formulae of sexuation. As such, her paper explores the ‘possibilities around the terms of castration and sexual enjoyment and their place in the formulae.’ She will conclude by inviting us to theorise about love in a meaningful way that takes account of ‘how it comes about that in having the phallus the woman restores it to the man.’
The remainder of the articles published in this issue reflect the broad range of research interests and clinical experience of contributors which have increasingly come to form an important feature of our annual congress. Dolores Tunnecliffe in her article poses and addresses crucial questions concerning psychoanalytic work with children in the school setting. She asks: “What can psychoanalysis offer to children when their actions speak louder than their words? How is it possible to work psychoanalytically with children when the analytic discourse takes place in the school clinic? What is the position of the analyst in this educational institution? When does a child become an analysand, a speaking subject? And what constitutes the speech of this subject?”
In her article, Helena Texier mobilises a reading of the childhood game ‘The Farmer Wants A Wife’, as an ‘example of what the children can teach the analyst of what they understand perfectly well without, for all that, knowing anything at all about it.’ Helena takes the candy (Lacan-dit) from the baby in a series of moves in order to demonstrate how the game ‘represents the processes at play in and the triumph of the neuroses.’
Rob Weatherill’s article is an extended version of the paper he presented at the congress. Drawing on Zizek, Levinas and Baudrillard as well as on his own clinical and cultural observations, Rob critiques Lacanian psychoanalytic theory as a refusal to engage appropriately with questions of reality. Where Lacan ‘plays off against the Real’, Klein ‘gets Real’. He concludes that ‘psychoanalysis without Klein is like fighting with one, perhaps both, hands tied behind your back – all the Real issues are foreclosed.’
Marcus Pound reads Kierkegaard through Lacan, and frames Lacan’s reference to Kierkegaard as a humourist against an examination of the function of humour in Freud, Lacan, and Kierkegaard. Marcus suggests that Kierkegaard’s use of humour in his attack on Hegel – his indirect approach – ‘throws valuable light on the pedagogic function of humour in Lacanian analysis.’
In my own contribution to this issue, I argue that ‘the Mother’ as a specific and unique subject-positioning has been inadequately conceptualised in psychoanalytic theory. To address this inadequacy, I suggest in my article that we begin to separate out our notions of a monolithic perception of mothering as it figures in most psychoanalytic theorising from the unique, case-by-case analysis of structure, desire, and jouissance which attends the specifically real order of giving birth to an¬other human being.
Finally, Martin Daly’s article on the nightmare presents two accounts of nightmare from his clinical practice which could have been taken directly from the book on the subject by Jones. Martin following Lacan who speaks of Jones’ book as one of ‘incomparable riches’, finds in picking up Jones’ book that ‘it opened up a world of experience that I had never encountered before in my practice.’
From mathemes to Plato, from Joni Mitchell to Zizek, from childhood games to nightmares, I leave you for the time being so that you can peruse the ‘incomparable riches’ of issue 30 for yourself!