Issue 61 (Spring 2016)


We continue our undertaking to publish over six issues back to back, the
full text of Christian Fierens’ Second Reading of Lacan’s L’Etourdit (2012).
This project we began in 2014 with Issue 57. Four issues later, we bring you
Chapter 4 The Stuff of the Psychoanalytic Discourse and its Cut. This issue
has an additional international feel with contributions from Marc Darmon and
Michael Plastow who participated in work-exchanges in Dublin during 2015.
Issue 61 also carries contributions from two of our colleagues Helen Sheehan
and Marion Deane in addition to an essay on Joyce, addressed through the
prism of three of Lacan’s seminars, from Daniel Bristow.
Fierens reminds us that the philosophical discourse and the psychoanalytic
discourse come of the same stuff – these we name saids, which, at this stage
of our engagement with L’Etourdit and Fierens’ two Readings, we, at a minimum,
understand to be distinct from saying. The philosopher ‘will always
remain at the dit-mensions of the said, the truth does not get away from the
said and does not touch saying.’ It’s not enough (then) for the ‘haughty analyst’
to want to have nothing to do with the philosopher, as both, we have to
admit, when speaking about psychoanalysis ‘side by side, situate themselves
perfectly in the arena of the (half-)said’. Hence, when we (psychoanalysts)
talk about our subject, we remain firmly in the domain of saids – having ‘not
left the philosophical discourse by a sliver’ – and the philosopher, like us, can
‘very well explain the theoretical corpus of psychoanalysis’. Where does that
leave us? Surely with an urgency to speak about how to differentiate the master
discourse qua philosophical from the psychoanalytic discourse in action.
The emphasis in this chapter is on topology, on how the torus, that ever circling
‘dynamo’ of saids, is transformed by means of a cut-stitch. Fierens’
metaphor of the torus as a giant digestive tract with an input and output of
saids and demands that we repeat, synthesise and interweave around the axis
of desire is helpful. ‘By actively refusing to remain with the satisfaction of the
said’, the breakdown of the system, sex-absens, must be produced, not simply
to bring about a disorder of the viscera or to pause the movement of the gut in
order simply to get things going again. The cut is not enough. There… Continue Reading

Click here to order hard copy

Articles in this Issue:

THE LETTER 61 Spring 2016, pages 1-22



The philosopher can say the truth. He can speak about everything on condition
of taking into account that he is speaking about it (Kojève). It’s his trade.
He knows that it is doable, on condition of clearly knowing that the truth will
remain a half-said. Not only will all never be said, the said will be never
complete. But much more, even if he takes his own speech into account,
the philosopher will always remain at the dit-mensions of the said, the truth
does not get away from the said and does not touch saying; even if it [truth]
takes it into account, saying remains outside. The said is constitutive of the
approach of the philosopher. To be sure, the philosopher confronts chaos, the
radical real, absence, the question of the void. He does so by fitting the saids
together into a coherent discourse creating concepts and organised on a plane
of immanence which acts as locus for these concepts (Deleuze, Qu’est-ce que
la philosophie?). The chaos only appears under the species of dit-mensions.

At this level, the psychoanalytic discourse is perfectly well inscribed into
the discourse of the philosopher, it organises chaos under the species of ditmensions
named imaginary, symbolic and real.
Provided that the one and the other do not go beyond the domain of the said
always half-said, or more precisely that they do not imagine themselves to be
able to go further than the always partial and partialising experience of ditmensions.
The truth of saids nevertheless inevitably pushes to transgress its
own limits because it is always universalising.
The concept, the concept of concepts, the universal of universals push towards
imagining the totality, at one single time (semel in Latin) and to organising,
always logically, appearances. Speaking always aims at a certain
generality and this universalising aim is the sole (semelle) of the progress of
the saids. Psychoanalysis like philosophy practices dit-mensions and each
one of them pushes towards being organised: the imaginary, …

THE LETTER 61 Spring 2016, pages 23-31

This paper explores what is at stake when speaking about the Psychoanalytic
Act – this with reference to Lacan’s ‘67-’68 seminar of the same name. The
central place of Freud’s repetition compulsion as a given of discourse is emphasized.
Questions related to what it means to practice as a psychoanalyst,
including the interrogation of Being, the end of analysis and the function of
psychoanalytic societies, are also raised.

Keywords: Metaphysics, repetition, discourse, the analyst as instrument, the
end of analysis, Carl Rogers, psychotherapy
To arrive at a preliminary definition of the Psychoanalytic Act as described
by Lacan in his seminar of 1967-1968 we have to begin by coming to
terms with endings, with all their equivocations. There are four such endings
that underline this seminar. I will briefly mention three and then say something
about the ending appropriate for our psychoanalytic purpose – that
which Freud calls Analysis Terminable and Interminable. The other endings
are: the end of Metaphysics, the end of Theology and the end of Science.

With regard to the first one, Lacan warns us not to jump too hastily into
the metaphysical question because after all, philosophy has tried over the
centuries to recuperate our original being there (in the world) and its ensuing
loss. There are many examples of pretending to deal with this loss ‘there is
for example, looking elsewhere and specifically turning one’s gaze towards
meaning and to make of the subject this entity that is called the human
spirit, to put it before discourse.’

THE LETTER 61 Spring 2016, pages 31-34

This overview of Lacan’s Seminar XXIV from 1976-77 addresses the many
layers of meaning discernible in its title L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile
à mourre. Lacan’s remarkable return to the topology of the torus, his subtle
musings on the unconscious, love, poetry and the real convey a sense of the
urgency regarding the task that, even in these final years of his teaching, he
regarded as unfinished.
Keywords: l’une-bévue, torus, poetry, Dante, Didier-Weill, game of la
mourre/game of Morra
The equivocal title of the seminar calls out for interpretation. Written in lalangue
or rather in l’élangues, the central element commanding our attention
in the title is the word l’une-bévue. This translates into English as the
a-blunder. Lacan is using a method he came across in Joyce the year before
the seminar in fashioning this word. In its enigmatic grammar, it is readable in
French as une-bévue and can be partly understood in German as Unbewusst.
The translation of Unbewusst by l’une-bévue is in itself a witticism, that is
to say, an attempt on Lacan’s part to invoke a formation of the unconscious
such as the parapraxis, the lapsus, the dream, or the symptom. What is a
parapraxis or a lapsus if not a blunder, une bévue? But such a translation
almost gives credence to the phrase cited by Dante, who, when speaking of
the word ‘love’ evokes the perfect fit between the word and the thing: nomina
sunt consequentia rerum (names are the consequence of things). L’une-bévue
does not possess the defect of being a negative word like ‘the unconscious’
and it does not run the risk, like it, of being confused with unconsciousness. …

THE LETTER 61 Spring 2016, pages 35-43

Oedipus was the only one to successfully answer the question posed by the
Theban Sphinx. His answer saved his life, but it was also a turning away from
the enigma of sexuality by reducing the riddle to a developmental schema.
From Oedipus’ response, it is evident that the developmental conception is
age-old, not a recent scientific invention. But the child does not permit of any
clear definition established by ages and stages. Our modern notion of childhood
has come about through the repression of sex and death in the child. I
propose that the child first exists in-fancy, in the fancy or fantasm of each
parent, leaving an indelible mark upon the soul of each child.

Keywords: infancy, child, development, infanticide, mother love, fantasy,
Our modern notion of the child emerged in the decline of the Middle Ages
and the privileged place that the child occupies in the family is quite recent.
It is my thesis that the modern ‘sentiment of childhood’ described by the historian
Philippe Ariès has come about through the repression of both infantile
sexuality and mortality: sex and death being the two great enigmas according
to Freud. By examining this ‘silent history’ of the child, we might endeavour
to locate the lost discourses of childhood.
In Apollodorus’ account, the riddle of the Theban Sphinx was the following:
‘What is it that has one name that is four-footed, two-footed, and three-footed?’
No Theban had been able to find the answer and, in despair, the regent
Creon offered both the throne and his sister Jocasta to anyone who could do
so. Oedipus was the only one to successfully answer the question. His reply
was, ‘Man is the answer: for as an infant he goes upon four feet; in his prime
upon two; and in old age he takes a stick as a third foot.’ …


THE LETTER 61 Spring 2016, pages 45-75

This essay attempts to elucidate a new way in which to envisage Joycean discourse,
which has so often been yoked to that of the university discourse outlined
by Lacan in a fourfold schema in Seminar XVII, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis.
To reach this goal it puts the aforementioned Seminar into relief
against Seminars XVIII, On a Discourse that Might not be a Semblance and
XXIII, Le sinthome, as well as against work of a third interlocutor, Jacques
Derrida. To move towards a conceptualisation of Joycean discourse, it takes
into consideration multiform Lacanian themes, such as ‘enverity’, the sinthome,
the Name-of-the-Father, enjoyment and semblance, and reads them
against the work of Joyce, particularly Finnegans Wake.
Keywords: Jacques Lacan; James Joyce; Jacques Derrida; university discourse;
Seminar XVII; Seminar XVIII; Seminar XXIII
No Name of the Father is tenable without thunder, and everyone
knows very well that we do not even know what thunder is the sign
of. It is the very figure of the semblance.
— Jacques Lacan, Seminar XVIII

— James Joyce, Finnegans Wake


My desire with this essay is to situate Lacan’s seventeenth Seminar The Other
Side of Psychoanalysis in relation to certain other moments in the later Lacan,
particularly to the following year’s Seminar On a Discourse that Might not be
a Semblance as well as to other work that his work has generated – amongst
which I will count my own. It is also to bring it into relation with occasional…


THE LETTER 61 Spring 2016, pages 77-81

Barbara Taylor is a much-acclaimed academic historian. The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Times is a meditation on her own experience with mental illness. Taylor was a patient at Friern— otherwise known as the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum— in North London during a period of transition within the field of psychiatric health care. It is from this unique perspective that she chronicles both her own emotional breakdown and the demise of the Victorian Asylum system in general.  However, the main purpose of her memoir is, as she puts it, to serve as ‘a work of gratitude’ to those friends, family, doctors and nurses who helped her along the way and, in particular, to the ‘psychoanalytical process and the analyst who practised it with [her]’.

The original conception of the Asylum structure, formulated in the 19th century provides a yardstick against which she measures the emergence and decay of an ideal system.  She traces the process whereby ‘the institutions, which had begun on a tide of conformist optimism, floundered in a flood of anti-institutional anti-welfarist sentiment’.  Asylums were originally dedicated to mitigate human suffering. Friern was exemplary in this respect. It had a reputation across Europe as ‘a prestige institution to comfort and heal the human mind’.  The centuries-long prevalence of patient maltreatment was replaced by a new kind of therapy known as ‘moral treatment’. This operated on the principle that through exhibiting benevolence and sympathy during treatment, human suffering could be reduced. Accordingly, prior methods of restraint —straitjacketing and physical punishment, for example —were banned. As a result, patients were not only freed from corporal suffering but from the enforced isolation and mental anguish that such practices entailed. Moreover, the benefit of this new therapy with its emphasis on care and com-passion proved to be more effective when administered in an environment shared with others. Taylor gives a brief snapshot of how these principles were put into practice. Patients worked, mixed and conversed with each other and with the staff in the gardens and in various other work places within the …


Comments are closed.