Hugh Jarrett – Is Topology Meaningless? Yes and No

THE LETTER 63 Autumn 2016 pages 59 – 68

Is Topology Meaningles?

Yes and No

Hugh Jarrett

This paper developed out of the work of our cartel on the first part of the second turn of L’Étourdit1 , and in particular the questions that developed from reading Lacan’s text and the commentary on the second turn written by Christian

Fierens2: What is the role of topology in L’Étourdit and why is it of value to psychoanalytic practice? The answer is not an easy one largely because of the nature of metaphor or ‘meaning’ and the problems inherent in it. This paper will attempt to draw out the train of Lacan’s thoughts on topology in this particular écrit and to briefly apply his thinking to one of Freud’s cases.

Keywords: Topology; L’Étourdit; Moebius strip; meaning/metaphor; mathemecase of the young homosexual woman


The topology of L’Étourdit begins with the torus, the ‘neurotic torus’as Fierens calls it in his analysis of the text, that undergoes a number of manipulations due to the effect of the phallic function and the psychoanalytic discourse. The first step in his ‘table of transformations’ is that the torus is emptied, ‘deflated’ but this does not involve any break in continuity, topologically the structure remains the same. The emptying of the torus prepares it for ‘a succession of operations’ cuts and sutures, that will alter the torus and ‘tear [it] from the grasp of spherical topology…..

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