Florencia F. C. Shanahan – Erring Fathers

THE LETTER 36 (Spring 2006) pages 28-34

Lacan’s Twenty-First Seminar is not easy to follow. Not only because of Lacan’s style in the transmission of psychoanalysis, but also because – it seems to me – it is placed, as a hinge, at the very heart of a decisive turning-point of the clinic in which this transmission is based.

What kind of subject do we operate with? The Lacanian subject can be defined as ‘the effect that permanently displaces the individual from the species, the effect that separates the particular from the universal, the case from the rule’. It is not then the universal subject of language that the analytic action is addressed to, but the singular product of the encounter between language and a certain body.

I will consider one paragraph that caught my attention while reading Seminar XXI, aimed at teasing out what sort of clinical problem Lacan is trying to posit, and the consequences this may have in relation to the position of the analyst within the psychoanalytic treatment.

Lacan states there:

But knowledge is not the same thing. Knowledge is the consequence of the fact that there is another. And so in appearance that gives two. For this second holds its status precisely from the fact that it has no relationship with the first, that they do not form a chain even if I said, somewhere, in my scribblings, the very first ones (…) in Function and Field, I perhaps slipped in that they formed a chain. This is an error (…) When one deciphers, one confuses things (…) to decipher. It is to substitute the signifier I (One) for…


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