This issue of The Letter concentrates on Lacan’s heterogeneous topology in L’étourdit (1972) as an application of his ‘there is no sexual rapport’ to saying, and on Frank Wedekind’s play Spring Awakening, which anticipated both Freud’s theory of sexuality and Lacan’s thinking on this real of sex.
While the first part of L’étourdit’s ‘second turn’, translated here by Cormac Gallagher, ranges from the topology of surfaces to the matheme, it understands the second of Lacan’s feminine formulae of sexuation as an a- sphere which sheds light on the impossibility of the universal. And if Lacan’s mathematisation of subjectivity increasingly moves away from imaginary supports, Christian Fierens’ commentary provides useful figures and tables to help the reader make sense of a difficult text.
Since L’étourdit seeks to demonstrate the ‘heteros’ topologically, we include a paper on topology by Jean-Pierre Georgin and Erik Porge which traces the transition in Lacan’s theorisation of subjectivity from a reliance on perspective geometry to the Moebius strip and cross-cap. And Tony Hughes focuses on the torus and reproduces Lacan’s diagrams from Seminar. Identification (1962) to explain that, for Lacan, the torus is not a metaphor for the structure of the subject.
In his introduction (1983) to Wedekind’s once scandalous play, Lacan suggests that the playwright had anticipated his ‘there is no sexual rapport’. A masked man appears in the play and Lacan contends that the mask exsists at the place of the void where he puts ‘The woman’, a logical impossibility after the discovery of his not-all. Helen Sheehan’s paper returns to Freud’s assessment of Wedekind’s play and to Lacan’s preface. She argues that the masked man, one of Lacan’s names of the father, is a mediator between life and death, and she asks why the function of this masked man does not seem to be effective in Irish society.
Issue 43 (Spring 2010) Pages – 1-15
The notall touched on by the philosopher (25d; 469)
I took pleasure in pointing out that Aristotle tends this way, curiously by providing us with terms that I am taking up again in a different amusement. Would it not have been interesting all the same if he had steered his World from the notall to deny its universal? With that existence would no longer have etiolated from particularity, and for Alexander his master the warning might have been worthwhile: if it is from an ab-sense like-no-other by which the universe seemed to be denied that the notall shies away, there is a case for saying that he would have been the very first to laugh at his plan to “empire” over the universe…..
Issue 43 (Spring 2010) Pages – 17-51
Lacan’s L‟étourdit eschews diagrams and other imaginary supports but refers to the “already articulated” developments of his earlier teaching, notably in the seminars on Identification and The Object of Psychoanalysis. While these articulations form the basis of Christian Fierens’ commentary, he adds explanatory figures and tables which open the way to a reading of Lacan’s highly condensed pages.
(171) The second turn, a re-presentation of the first, is going to show how the notall was already implied from the beginning of the journey, from the first pages of L’étourdit, from the philosophical search for sense…..
Issue 43 (Spring 2010) Pages – 53-77
This paper takes one of Lacan’s “o objects” – the look – as its starting point. Lacan developed his thinking on the implications of perspective geometry for painting in 1966 in his seminar on The Object of Psychoanalysis where he showed its importance in Velasquez’s Las Meninas. Georgin and Porge develop the linkages between projective geometry and topology in order to show the gap which exists between the look and the gaze – the look being on the side of the subject and the gaze being on the side of the object, hence opening up a gap which is one of the avatars of the cross-cap.
As Lacan recalls on the occasion of the anniversary of the twenty-third centenary of the death of Aristotle, the o is “complex in the extreme”…..
Issue 43 (Spring 2010) Pages – 79-105
Lacan used topology to theorise in a scientific way the structure of the subject. The topological field is a central part of his thinking and the first indications of this took place in the Rome Discourse in 1953 and continued up to the end of his life by which time topology had, perhaps, inspired his theory of the Borromean knot which led to his exposition of the sinthome. Lacan initially focused on four main areas of topology – the torus, the Moebius strip, the Klein Bottle and the cross-cap. This paper is an introduction to the torus with particular emphasis on three sessions of the seminar on Identification, namely 28 February, 7 March and 14 March 1962. Lacan’s use of a multitude of diagrams is seen to be helpful when following the development of this complex aspect of his theoretical analysis of the structure of the subject…..
Issue 43 (Spring 2010) Pages – 107-110
In this introduction to a play by Frank Wedekind (1864-1918) which deals with the awakening of sexuality in three adolescents: Moritz, Melchior and Wendla, Lacan argues that it anticipates Freud’s and even his own – “There is no sexual relationship” – treatment of the real of sex. Is the Father who appears here as a masked Man merely another name for the white Goddess, lost in the night of time? The non-dupes err.
So then we have a dramatist tackling in 1891 the business of what is involved for boys is in making love with girls, stressing that they would never dream of it without the awakening of their dreams…..
Issue 43 (Spring 2010) Pages – 111-119
This paper situates Frank Wedekind’s play, Spring Awakening, in a Freudian-Lacanian framework. The masked man who makes his appearance towards the end of the play is said to be a mediator between life and death for the adolescents, just as the preface written by J. Lacan suggests that the masked man serves as one of the names of the father.
I am basing my talk today on a play by the German, Frank Wedekind (1864-1918), called Spring Awakening.1
Written in 1891, it created a scandal for the twenty-six year old playwright and it took sixteen years for German censorship on the drama to be lifted and then with crucial concessions…..