Patricia McCarthy – The Reverse of Psychoanalysis – How Far – A commentary on Discourse, Knowledge and Enjoyment

THE LETTER 24 (Spring 2002) pages 111-126

Introduction In this brief article, my questions – to paraphrase Lacan – are preliminary to any possible theory of discourse! In that sense, I’m departing from the usual meaning given in English to VEnvers de la Psychanalyse, The Reverse of Psychoanalysis, Lacan’s seminar of 1969-70. I am taking ‘reverse’ in its sense as a verb. To reverse is to return to where you’ve come from, to pick up something that you have left behind or to get a better look at something you’ve passed by too quickly. It’s in that spirit that I’m reversing here. In fact I’m reversing to take a better look at discourse, knowledge and enjoyment, terms that are the main concerns of this seminar. The seminar itself which deals with the four discourses, the master’s discourse, the university discourse, the hysteric’s discourse and the analytic discourse is often quoted as representing the essence of a Lacanian teaching that goes beyond Freud. My effort here is to understand that position and judge its validity for myself. Also by way of introduction, I should explain that, for my part, working on this seminar is part of a continuing engagement with Lacan’s seminars which has spanned the past thirteen years, where as a member of the Monday Night reading group here in St Camillus, we manage to seriously read one seminar a year. So my reading of Lacan’s seminars began with The Formations of the Unconscious in 1988. Thirteen seminars later, it’s hard to discern this current seminar as more exceptional than another, except to…

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