THE LETTER 51 Autumn 2012, pages 75-80.
Lacan’s introduction to the seminar on the Purloined Letter is couched in a mathematical language which can be a little intimidating. This paper attempts to sift through some of the outer layers of his ‘matheme’ so that the treasure of its kernel is not ignored.
Keywords: Repetition automatism, memory, symbolic order, language, law, signifying chain, unconscious
In 1966, when Lacan had been persuaded, rather reluctantly, to publish some of his writings, he presented the works in chronological order, spanning over thirty years from a comment on his thesis of 1932 to an extract from Seminar XIII, dated December 1st 1965. The exception to this order, which Lacan placed as a prologue to the Écrits, is an extract from the Seminar of 1954-1955. During that year he chose The Purloined Letter to reiterate his teaching that it is ‘the symbolic order that is constitutive for the subject’ and to demonstrate ‘the major determination the subject receives from the itinerary of a signifie’. …