I am delighted to have been asked to write the editorial for this special tribute to Bill Richardson S.J.
I wish to thank the contributors each of whom demonstrates a varied and particular reading of Freud and Lacan. I am reminded of Lacan’s comments at the 1960 Colloquium at Bonneval where he stated that it was interesting to note that ‘remarks made at a Colloquium such as this, inviting philosophers, psychiatrists, psychologists and psychoanalysts on the basis of their respective expertise, show how they fail to agree on the level of truth of Freud’s texts’.
Nevertheless what unites all these contributors is not only their fondness and admiration for Bill but above all what he transmitted to them and to others through his teaching. He was a dedicated and great teacher. It is known that in his desire to share his knowledge and love of philosophy, especially with the younger generation, he spent many hours listening to Bob Dylan and then lectured on the ontology of Bob Dylan!
It was Cormac Gallagher who introduced Bill to the work of psychoanalysis in Ireland. Bill assisted us greatly. He not only took part in Conferences but also served as a board member of The Letter since its inception in 1994 to his death last year. It is therefore fitting to note the paper Cormac chose for this tribute ‘A Stranger to Myself” because in so doing he chose a subject close to Bill’s heart namely, the formation of Religious, especially Jesuits. Bill would have appreciated so much Cormac’s daring questioning of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and his plea for an engagement with Freud and Lacan by those involved in religious formation. That said, we remind ourselves that Freud emphasised that psychoanalysis is not a Weltanschauung. Cormac would be the first to agree with this. Neither is psychoanalysis a religion. As Lacan pointedly remarks in Écrits: “we are neither for nor against any particular religion”.
The final tribute to Bill comes from Pope Francis who recently acknowledged his own personal engagement with psychoanalysis. Sadly, we are unable to include the Pope’s contribution in this edition of The Letter!