Flavia Goian – A Commentary on the Twelfth Session of Lacans’s XXIVth Seminar

THE LETTER 62 Summer 2016, pages 19-35

This paper is a commentary on some intriguing facets to his teaching introduced  by Lacan in this final session of his seminar of ‘76 – ’77 I’Insu que sait de l’unebévue
s’aile à mourre. The appearance of the book Polylogue by Julia Kristeva
is the opportunity for Lacan to tackle the question of his position with respect
to linguistics. Essentially this is that no linguistics has value for Lacan other
than ‘linguisterie’, that is to say, a linguistics which takes psychoanalysis into
account. In addition, he distinguishes between metatongue and metalanguage
by articulating them together: because there is no metalanguage, metatongue
is nothing other than translation. In this context, he revisits Jeremy Bentham’s
ground-breaking work of the 18th century on the utility of fictions and the finely
balanced economy thereby wrought. An economy that regulates our pain and
our pleasure but that nonetheless leaves a gap – as ultimately discerned by
Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. It is in a revision of the problem of the
ethics of psychoanalysis that Lacan refers to Bentham in that this ethics hinges
on an orientation of man in relation to the real. Bentham’s effort is founded
upon a dialectic of the relation of language to the real in order to place the good
on the side of the real, which breaks from the Aristotelian ethic of the Beautiful,
the Well and the Good. Furthermore, Lacan relies on the distinction made
by Bentham between fictional entites and real entites to unlock the dialectic
between the real and the symbolic. A key phrase of Lacan’s thought ‘Truth is
the structure of fiction’ is thereby made clear. Lacan’s preoccupation with how
psychoanalysis functions remains paramount throughout the seminar. If he recalls
that psychoanalysis operates by ‘an effect of suggestion’ it is because man
is a parlêtre that he is receptive to suggestion. 

The psychoanalyst must make himself poète assez (enough of a poet) in interpretation,
relying on equivocation, in order to hollow out – like the poet
– one of the terms of the double meaning of the metaphor; and thus, identifying
as hole the real of the letter which arises as evidence. Will he succeeed in
inventing a new signifier, previously unheard of, which would from the outset
be outside sense, a pure real?
Keywords: suggestion, Jeremy Bentham, theory of fictions, utility of fictions,
pleasure principle, metalanguage, a new signifier, repetition compulsion,
hole-effect

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