Editorial, Issue 62


We open issue 62 of The Letter with The Sense of the Psychoanalytic Discourse
the fifth chapter of Christian Fierens’ The Psychoanalytic Discourse.
A Second Reading of L’Etourdit (2012) translated by Cormac Gallagher in
2014. To whet your appetite I will highlight some themes in this next-to-final

We are immediately brought up short by the very first sentence ‘Each discourse
brings into play a social bond without which it would not be a discourse.’
What then of the nature of the social bond in the psychoanalytic discourse
or the social group where persons committed to psychoanalysis come
together for a common purpose? ‘Psychoanalysis and the question of the unconscious
give no place to persons as such’, so that any grouping is founded
on an ‘irreducible difference’ between the subject of the unconscious and the
person.’ Acknowledgement of this irreducible difference does not render the
situation of the psychoanalytic group – or any other type of group for that matter,
husband and wife, family, teacher and pupil, analyst and analyser – hopeless.
Rather, the very impossibility or the structural instability that governs
any group becomes the means ‘to make work all the better the impossibility
of the sexual relationship and the subject-effect which determines any group
formation.’ Work, that we in ISLP at the very least, surely mustn’t shirk.

What of the analyst in the group setting who might want to assume a role?
Caution is advised as he or she can only ‘lodge (one)self in the waste product
of effacement’, in the place of semblance of the o-object, a place that ‘can
only provoke aversion as opposed to the positive place accorded to the person
named in a classical group’. Is the lot of the analyst then solitude or solidarity?
It would appear that neither nor both suffice. For Fierens ‘It is being
ready to let go of the comfort of the classical group which situates us in the
lability or effacement of the psychoanalytic discourse and its renewal. A new
saying, a re-saying’

He goes on to remind us of Lacan’s optimism that the psychoanalytic discourse
will conquer – an optimism based not on the social but ‘on the impossible
in the structure itself. For it is the impossible in all its forms that sustains
the discourse from which there is created the new social bond.’

As we’ve spoken about aversion or hate, a word then on love. Love cannot be
insured or assured. ‘..to want to insure it, to force it, is always already incest.
The incest of the father or mother who force their daughter or son to love
them’ More importantly for us in the context of analysis, ‘incest is always
there, when it is a matter of forcing the the possible saying … to become a
said’. ‘Tell me you love me’ becomes ‘the insurance of the most radical hate
in general’. For the psychoanalytic group to rely on an insured love, the incest
of the saying and the said, is to keep silent about what is at stake.

And what of the work of analysis being sustained only by what ‘one expects
from a psychoanalyst’ and not by the role he or she assumes? In the face of
this precious state of expectation – what allows the transference surely – can
come only the ‘incongruity of any possible role’ for the analyst.

And finally, the ‘thread of the psychoanalytic discourse does not leave any directions
on how to construct some standard, to find a stabilised social bond’.
To not be surprised by such a statement is surely a good place for us to start.

There is much of interest in Flavia Goian’s fine paper A Commentary on the
Twelfth Session of Lacan’s XXIVth Seminar I’Insu que sait de l’une bévue
s’aille à mourre. Goian gives emphasis to several themes introduced by
Lacan in this his final session for the academic year ‘76 – ‘77, themes that are
not necessarily new in themselves but which are given a sparkle by Lacan, a
definitional twist that illuminates them anew.

Julia Kristeva was present in the audience for this session, perhaps prompting
Lacan’s incursion into linguistics – once again? – but on this occasion stating
unequivocally that given the fact of the unconscious, there can be no linguistics
other then linguisterie. He himself had passed by way of linguistics but
hadn’t remained there. His return to examining Jeremy Bentham’s calculus
of pleasure and pain and his theory of fictions is extremely well developed
by Goian. We, in Ireland, have a historical and tangential connection with
this English philosopher, often citing the correspondence in the early 1800s
between him and Daniel O’Connell, civil rights campaigner and champion
of Catholic Emancipation. The founder of Utilitarianism, Bentham’s thinking
appears extremely prescient for psychoanalysis, so much so that to have
anticipated the fictitious as a languaged thing – the symbolic in Lacan’s terms
– is remarkable. Fictitious entities rest on ‘a sort of verbal reality’, or as Goian puts it ‘Reality is, therefore linked to meaning and not the property of things

Metatongue, metalanguage – with repression we skid away from an embryo
of metalanguage which we can never then approach except via a metatongue,
itself only ever a translation or one of a series of metatongues.

Goian reminds us of Lacan’s embarrassment that there is no memoir (mémoire)
of a psychoanalysis. But what of the memory (also mémoire in French)
as repetition compulsion that shapes our lives –the only mémoire of importance
and the one that surely concerns psychoanalysis? And finally we are
introduced to how the ‘poetic’ works in analysis – where the analyst, by his
interpretation ‘saws through sense’ to produce a hole effect or to make sense

Shirley Sharon-Zisser, a psychoanalyst practising in Israel and Associate Professor
of English at Tel Aviv University, brings immense learning to a complex
and highly technical paper Calliope’s Sc(D)ream. Feminine Jouissance
in Aristotle’s Works on Language. Delivered originally in lecture form in November
2015 at a two-day conference entitled Lacan with Philosophy that
was held at Tel Aviv University, it is here accompanied by a paper entitled
Lacan and Philosophy from Itzhak Benyamini who was a respondent on that

Sharon-Zisser’s academic work focuses on the links between rhetorical theory
and psychoanalysis. In this paper she introduces us to three of Aristotle’s
key works on language Rhetoric, Sophistical Refutations and Poetics. And if
I were to further pin down its focus on language – we are introduced to the
domain not only of logic but of grammar. In its sweep it interweaves select
facets of the three works mentioned above with Freud’s theorisation from
the 1920s on castration and the difference between the sexes, along with key
references of Lacan’s to Aristotle’s work as these impinge on his theory of
sexuation during that most fertile period from ‘71 to ‘73. ‘If as Lacan claims
(…) Aristotle’s logic “the first great formal logic is essentially linked to the
idea Aristotle had of a woman” and hence implicitly, of sexuation upon the
relation to jouissance that that involves, his works on language … are no less
so’. In particular, Sharon-Zisser perhaps startlingly, makes the case for an
equivalence in how Aristotle treats the difference between simile and metaphor
and his views on the difference between the sexes.

One definition of rhetoric is that it is ‘language designed to have a persuasive
or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or
meaningful content.’ Its use in advertising coincides with this commonplace
understanding of the term. Aristotle refuted such a definition. What we would
consider central to rhetoric’s persuasive effect, the character of the orator and
the affect he elicits, Aristotle considered superfluous. While Sharon-Zisser
tells us that it is with a poetical character that Aristotle introduces his work on
rhetoric, his innovation for rhetoric was to foreground the enthymeme, ‘the
rhetorical antistrophe or responding song to the syllogism in logic’ which as
speech that is ‘stripped bare’ psilos logos effected ‘the one affect ultimately at
stake..’ pistis or conviction.’ Metaphor and enthymeme are marked by ‘a logic
of subtraction, of loss, of castration in speech.’ Hinting at absence and lack, to
better understand the logic and grammar of these rhetorical forms has to be
important for psychoanalysis and its interpretive function.

And what of the Calliopeic scream in the paper’s title? I will permit the reader
to judge its value for the author’s thesis which, at its simplest, is that psychoanalysis
can learn from Aristotle’s work on language, which has more going
for it than pure reason, as supported by his famous principle of non-contradiction.
For Sharon-Zisser, ‘between scream and signifier, the Calliopeic is
allowed a dwelling in Aristotle’s work on language under the sign of psilos,
subtraction, castration, (disturbing) the principle of non-contradiction’. And
while this disturbance ‘is never allowed to develop into the awakening to
the real’ we are informed that Aristotle cleared ‘a place from the very outset
for the poetic that in his texts on language is linked with what is foreign or
ecstatic to standard language and associated with the Callopeic as feminine
sound without sense.’ There is much to ponder in this interesting work.

Itzhak Benyamini teaches at the University of Haifa and at Bezalel in Jerusalem.
Here we reproduce a brief paper of his which packs a punch. Less a detailed
response to the foregoing, its message is more a lamentation at the cost
and struggle to the academic, aware of ‘psychoanalysis’s alternative form of
formalised-knowledge’, who has to ‘attempt to insert (this) into the pretense
of a reasoned formulation of the world’s Imaginary states and its Real surpluses,
a pretense that the university discourse urges us to be fascinated by.’

Benyamini further pronounces on how Reason once needed the supportive
concept of the Soul. His simile of the soul as the Sancho Panza to Reason’s
Don Quixote – ‘Reason’s miserable squire’ – who has too much ‘belly’ (panza the Spanish for belly) for Reason to stomach, is particularly effective. But
the demise of the Soul in the face of the advance of the subject of Science is
perhaps not as inevitable as the author seems to assert, as surely the psychoanalytic
discourse has a bearing on the soul? And to remind ourselves again,
the psychoanalytic discourse will conquer (cf Christian Fierens Chapter 5 The
Sense of the Psychoanalytic Discourse in this issue), a conquest, according to
Fierens, based not on the social but ‘on the impossible in the structure itself.’

Our final contributor, Will Greenshields, author of An Approach to Lacan’s
XXVIth Seminar: Topology and Time received his doctorate on Lacan and topology
from the University of Sussex. The approach that Greenshields takes
is to firstly put the title Topology and Time into context. A pun on Heidegger’s
Being and Time, Lacan’s effort in to this scant and final seminar was to try to
better link topology to practice by means of the novelty of the ‘generalised’
borromean. We’ve made mention of topology but what of time? Greenshields
reminds us of Lacan’s opening words to the seminar ‘There is a correspondence
between topology and practice. This correspondence consists in time
(les temps). Topology resists, it is in that that the correspondence exists’. Apropos
of time, we are then returned to a lesser appreciated aspect of Moebian
topology which can demonstrate how the single edge of the strip when producing
an interior eight, rather than buckling itself in a single circuit like a
belt, ‘misses its point of origin and makes an additional loop around a hole’.
The twist of the figure of eight, ‘unlocalisable and undentifiable’ ‘impossible
to integrate yet integral’, in its very movement has an undoubted temporal
aspect to it. Further, ‘while the twist does not exist…it is not non-existent: it
instead ex-sists’.

While he readily concedes that this work is an approach only where an end
point is not reached, Greenshields’ grasp of his subject in this interesting paper
is beyond doubt. While we are already familiar with many topological
concepts, particularly through the work of Tony Hughes, many of us continue
to struggle with its clinical relevance. However, how the current author treats
the differences between models, demonstrations and monstrations, the ‘new
Imaginary’, the downside of a static borromean knot versus the ‘dynamic’
moebius strip, its all-or-nothing nature when one ring is cut compared with
the necessity that it not unravel… is highly illuminating and worthwhile. In
1977, a year or so before this seminar, Lacan is still telling us that he is ‘still at
the stage of interrogating psychoanalysis about the way in which it functions.
What ensures that it holds up, that it constitutes a practice that is sometimes effective?’ This paper by Greenshields further kindles an appreciation of what
the working of topology meant to Lacan, providing him with a frontier where
the ‘knot offers … a silent monstration of ex-sistence (as opposed to a model
or “idea of the Real”)’. Effectively bypassing the ‘bad tool’ that it appears
mere speaking had become for him in trying to explicate the psychoanalytic
discourse, he was surely engaged with relaunching the saying until the end…

Patricia McCarthy

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