This issue of THE LETTER concentrates on Lacan’s 1972 test L’étourdit, first published in Scilicet in 1973. While Charles Melman had originally advised against it’s publication, and Christian Fierens has asked “is it readable?”, one of the cartels of the Irish School for Lacanian Psychoanalysis has worked on it for a year and found it to be one of the later Lacan’s great écrits. This cartel was joined by another one – and by Fierens – for a study-day on this enigmatic text in May 2009. This issue contains the papers from that day. The “first turn” of L’étourdit has been painstakingly translated by Cormac Gallagher and it is published here in English for the first time. This will be an invaluable resource for anyone courageous enough to follow Lacan’s “saying” in it.
As an introduction to L ‘étourdit, Cormac Gallagher examines the places where Lacan taught, St. Anne, the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Sorbonne. He associates these with the role of “place” in Lacan’s four discourses and four formulae of sexuation, and he draws on Fierens’ reading of the text to resolve its numerous enigmas. Hence our including his translation of the introduction to Fierens’ Lecture de L’étourdit. Lacan 1972 as a further key to our bilingual version of the original text.
Patricia McCarthy’s paper focuses on the neologism “Vas” in L ’étourdit and it employs an illustrated vase to relate the text back to Lacan’s optical schema and to explore what he is now saying about the phallic function, the formulae of sexuation and the discourse of the analyst. Tony Hughes’ article examines Lacan’s distinction between meaning and sense as the key to understanding the “two morsels” in L ‘étourdit. And my own contribution discusses Lacan’s interpretation of Schreber in L ’étourdit in terms of his “not all” and it contends that Lacan did not equate the questioning of the exception in femininity with its foreclosure in psychosis. Christian Fierens’ reply makes the case for not reading L’étourdit from the perspective of a Freudian phallo-centrism. And, finally, we present a review of Fierens’ Reading L ‘étourdit by Charles Melman.