In the opening session of his seminar – Encore – Lacan remarks to his audience that he is always amazed about his being there again, to address his audience again, and that they, his audience, are there… again. While I cannot compare the ‘laborious journeying’ which takes him again and again to that particular place of address, to my own efforts in bringing you
– encore – to this location, I can admit to being somewhat amazed that yet again I have the privilege of bringing to you a manifold of ideas, thoughts and theses, in the collection of articles which comprise this issue of The Letter. All of these articles were presented at the eleventh annual congress of the Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland, held on 12th and 13th November 2004. The congress was entitled On Feminine Sexuality: The Limits of Love and Knowledge, and indeed, many of those who presented their work at the congress made use of Lacan’s Seminar XX in order to furnish their discursions. In this issue we present to you a number of those presentations. We can look forward to further contributions from the congress in later issues.
This issue opens then with Cormac Gallagher’s presentation to the congress. In Re-Englishing Encore, Cormac points up the consequences of things (and people) getting ‘lost in translation’. One of these consequences is that for most of the English-speaking readership of the ‘authentic versions’ of Lacan’s work, aspects of his discourse are simply not permitted, .or worse, misrepresented. In his paper, Cormac highlights a range of such omissions and inexplicable translation decisions that have (mis)guided large numbers of readers.
In her article, Pauline O’ Callaghan examines the significance of theories of courtly love for our understanding of love, desire, limits and feminine jouissance. Referring to Lacan’s comments on courtly love in his Ethics seminar of 1959-1960 as well as in Encore, Pauline traces the function of the Lady and the mobilization of feminine jouissance in works of art, and the lyrical comments of modem day rock stars.
Patricia McCarthy writes on Lacan’s concept of hainamoration in the context of a wide-ranging discussion about love between men and women. In her usual broad register, Patricia manages to marshal together Joan Riviere’s work on Womanliness as Masquerade, Claude-Noéle Pickmann’s comments on the ‘not-all’, Freud on Dora, Dean Martin on Amore and the Joyces on each other!
In her article, Aisling Campbell examines three movies – The Sixth Sense, The Others, and The Village – with a ‘twist in the tale’. Taking each movie in turn, Aisling emphasizes the twist which retroactively structures the subject, where the ending casts a radically different hue to the subjective discourse of the main characters, thereby showing up their inconsistencies.
Next we step away from Nicole Kidman in the direction of Marilyn Monroe, as Eve Watson charts the twin trajectories of the vamp and the vampire in the terms of ‘an-other’ jouissance. This jouissance is examined in the context of Mina Harker in Stoker’s Dracula, and the ‘whole different sex’, which Marilyn embodies in Some Like it Hot is examined for its proximity to a kind of dangerous knowledge about the masquerade.
My own contribution to this issue focuses upon two discourses where I find a relationship ‘ethics’ at work. Drawing on Lacan’s comments on courtly love, and Winnicott’s artefact of the ‘good-enough mother’, I argue that men and women seek out the sexual partner as signifiers in discourses, in very precise ways. As such coupled-subjects legitimate as well as prohibit activities which may be carried out within love relationships in order to mobilise a ‘work-ethic’.
Florencia Fernández Coria Shanahan’s article takes us back to the clinic with a discussion of the case of a man called Mario. Florencia asks: what are the particular forms in which love emerges when we are talking about the clinic of psychosis? One form that emerges in her discussion of this case is a ‘crazy love’, an excess of jouissance, and another involves writing about love as a kind of solution for the failure of the metaphor of love.
Bernard Kennedy in his article, looks at the mystical position of Teresa of Avila and the texts of Bernard of Clairvaux. Drawing on Lacan’s remarks about feminine jouissance in the context of the mystic, Bernard considers the mystical experience of Teresa together with the mystical writings of Bernard of Clairvaux in order to situate an understanding of sexual desire as that which ‘can be approached through its agalma within the discourse of the mystic’.
In the last article appearing in this issue, Michael Murphy introduces us to Jean Genet and his ‘inquiry into language’. In his examination of Our Lady of the Flowers, Michael maintains that Genet’s work, and the fundamental question that structures his work, provides a model that facilitates new configurations of understanding to arise that can help our psychoanalytic practice.
A final comment from the editorial board before you settle down to read: after eleven years Cormac Gallagher has decided to step down from the editorial board of The Letter. He will continue to serve the readership in his new capacity as member of the advisory board. We take this opportunity to thank him warmly for his enthusiasm and energy on the editorial board and look forward to receiving lots of ‘advice’ from now on!