Issue 62 (Summer 2016)


We open issue 62 of The Letter with The Sense of the Psychoanalytic Discourse
the fifth chapter of Christian Fierens’ The Psychoanalytic Discourse.
A Second Reading of L’Etourdit (2012) translated by Cormac Gallagher in
2014. To whet your appetite I will highlight some themes in this next-to-final

We are immediately brought up short by the very first sentence ‘Each discourse
brings into play a social bond without which it would not be a discourse.’
What then of the nature of the social bond in the psychoanalytic discourse
or the social group where persons committed to psychoanalysis come
together for a common purpose? ‘Psychoanalysis and the question of the unconscious
give no place to persons as such’, so that any grouping is founded
on an ‘irreducible difference’ between the subject of the unconscious and the
person.’ Acknowledgement of this irreducible difference does not render the
situation of the psychoanalytic group – or any other type of group for that matter,
husband and wife, family, teacher and pupil, analyst and analyser – hopeless.
Rather, the very impossibility or the structural instability that governs
any group becomes the means ‘to make work all the better the impossibility
of the sexual relationship and the subject-effect which determines any group
formation.’ Work, that we in ISLP at the very least, surely mustn’t shirk.

What of the analyst in the group setting who might want to assume a role?
Caution is advised as he or she can only ‘lodge (one)self in the waste product
of effacement’, in the place of semblance of the o-object, a place that ‘can
only provoke aversion as opposed to the positive place accorded to the person
named in a classical group’. Is the lot of the analyst then solitude or solidarity?
It would appear that neither nor both suffice. For Fierens ‘It is being
ready to let go of the comfort of the classical group which situates us in the
lability or effacement of the psychoanalytic discourse and its renewal. A new
saying, a re-saying’

He goes on to remind us of Lacan’s optimism that the psychoanalytic discourse
will conquer – an optimism based not on the social but ‘on the impossible
in the structure itself. For it is the impossible in all its…Continue reading

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Articles in this issue:

THE LETTER 62 Summer 2016, pages 1-18

The Sense of the Psychoanalytic Discourse
The Comfort and Impossibility of the Psychoanalytic Group

Each discourse brings into play a social bond without which it would not be
a discourse.
What social bond for the psychoanalytic discourse?
It would be quite natural to define this social bond as a group, namely as a
set of persons (personnes) united around an object, an event or a project that
brings them together. The social bond proper to psychoanalysis would define
the place that the persons take up with respect to psychoanalysis and the question
of the unconscious. The psychoanalytic discourse would thus group all
the arrangements (arrangements for the treatment, for supervision, arrangements
for theory and practice, intra- and inter-associative arrangements, etc.)
which would give to each one his place in this group project.
A noble hope founded on the arrangement (dispositif) of the well established
discourses. But for the psychoanalytic discourse, nothing of the sort. Because
psychoanalysis and the question of the unconscious give no place for
persons as such. Much more rather they are there to make them lose face, to
efface them, and there only remain essentially schizophrenic saids (S1 separated
from S2) which do not have the help of any pre-established arrangement.
Naturally, persons form groups. But the grouping is done very precisely in
the measure that the psychoanalytic discourse is forgotten.
The task of founding the social bond of the psychoanalytic discourse as a
group therefore appears hopeless: it is impossible for the personages interested
by psychoanalysis to form a group; it is impossible for them to find
themselves stabilised in a discourse that would give them a well established
social place. The reason for this is not in the individualism imputed to ‘psychoanalysts’,
but in the irreducible difference between the subject of the unconscious
and the person. …

THE LETTER 62 Summer 2016, pages 19-35

This paper is a commentary on some intriguing facets to his teaching introduced  by Lacan in this final session of his seminar of ‘76 – ’77 I’Insu que sait de l’unebévue
s’aile à mourre. The appearance of the book Polylogue by Julia Kristeva
is the opportunity for Lacan to tackle the question of his position with respect
to linguistics. Essentially this is that no linguistics has value for Lacan other
than ‘linguisterie’, that is to say, a linguistics which takes psychoanalysis into
account. In addition, he distinguishes between metatongue and metalanguage
by articulating them together: because there is no metalanguage, metatongue
is nothing other than translation. In this context, he revisits Jeremy Bentham’s
ground-breaking work of the 18th century on the utility of fictions and the finely
balanced economy thereby wrought. An economy that regulates our pain and
our pleasure but that nonetheless leaves a gap – as ultimately discerned by
Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. It is in a revision of the problem of the
ethics of psychoanalysis that Lacan refers to Bentham in that this ethics hinges
on an orientation of man in relation to the real. Bentham’s effort is founded
upon a dialectic of the relation of language to the real in order to place the good
on the side of the real, which breaks from the Aristotelian ethic of the Beautiful,
the Well and the Good. Furthermore, Lacan relies on the distinction made
by Bentham between fictional entites and real entites to unlock the dialectic
between the real and the symbolic. A key phrase of Lacan’s thought ‘Truth is
the structure of fiction’ is thereby made clear. Lacan’s preoccupation with how
psychoanalysis functions remains paramount throughout the seminar. If he recalls
that psychoanalysis operates by ‘an effect of suggestion’ it is because man
is a parlêtre that he is receptive to suggestion. 

The psychoanalyst must make himself poète assez (enough of a poet) in interpretation,
relying on equivocation, in order to hollow out – like the poet
– one of the terms of the double meaning of the metaphor; and thus, identifying
as hole the real of the letter which arises as evidence. Will he succeeed in
inventing a new signifier, previously unheard of, which would from the outset
be outside sense, a pure real?
Keywords: suggestion, Jeremy Bentham, theory of fictions, utility of fictions,
pleasure principle, metalanguage, a new signifier, repetition compulsion,

THE LETTER 62 Summer 2016, pages 37-64

This essay offers a reading of three major Aristotelian works on language – the
Rhetoric, the Poetics, and the Sophistical Refutations – with the theorisations
of sexual difference in Freud’s essays on the castration and Oedipus complexes
and Lacan’s teaching from On a Discourse that might not be a Semblance to
Encore. Nuancing Lacan’s criticism in 1978 of Aristotle in Aristotle’s Dream
as believing in representation to the exclusion of the o-object, the essay
shows that Aristotle’s treatments of language are intricated with treatments of
sexual difference and feminine jouissance. This is manifest especially in the
theorisation of the difference between simile and metaphor in relation to the
difference between man and woman, and the treatment of poetic language that
is outside sense as ecstatic. Forms of elision, most notably the enthymeme,
whose theorisation Aristotle considers a major contribution of his Rhetoric,
function as forms of enstasis or exclusory inclusion of ecstatic jouissance
such as is forged in an analysis.
Keywords: Aristotle, Lacan, rhetoric, feminine jouissance, notall, castration,
sexual difference
In R.S.I., Lacan points to στοιχεια (stoikheia), a category used by Aristotle in
the Rhetoric to describe the various types of linguistic semiosis,1 as philosophy’s
only indication of the nature of ‘signifying material’ without which no
thought or knowledge can be supposed.2 Fundamental to Aristotle’s conception
of linguistic semiosis is that it effects παθος (pathos), that it gives rise to
passions such as fear, anger or pity, that is, that it elicits affect. Hence Lacan’s
comment at the beginning of the seminar on Anxiety – the one affect that does
not deceive – that it is not incidental that Aristotle discusses affect in a work
on language, the Rhetoric, whose very structure, a ‘net’ of linguistic references…

THE LETTER 62 Summer 2016, pages 65-69

As the last among a series of respondents, I am faced with a certain loneliness
that fosters the illusion of intellectual freedom, which does not necessarily
imply scientific ease. This position may have influenced my current response
to the lectures of conference’s organisers Prof. Ruth Ronen and Prof. Shirley
Sharon-Zisser, at the conclusion of this most serious and impressive event.
They have honoured me by expressing a desire, a desire that I respond to
each of their lectures, suggesting that the role of the desire-complex in the
academic field also be put up for inquiry (the desire-complex in this context
is to be understood as the never-ending manoeuvrings of academic scholars
with their pre-sonal desire, always logically preliminary to their scientific
work but constrained by their bureaucratic responsibilities). I first came to
know of this expectation after their works were sent to me as inscribed theses
a number of weeks ago.
It is my hope that the limited scope of my comments will not harm the impression
these impressive lectures have created for such a respectable audience.
You are an international audience, one that includes Americans, Australians
and English that accept the rhetoric and logic of neutral English – which is
equally strange to all non-English speakers and is thus democratic in cutting
pleasure. It may seem that the only exception to this situation are the speakers
among us today whose native tongue is indeed English, but – they are possibly
found to be in a state, which is the inverted mirror image of the Primal Father
(ur-papa), of the Exception-Subject in the Freudian-Lacanian formulation of…

THE LETTER 62 Summer 2016-pages 71-97

This paper outlines an approach to Lacan’s XXVIth seminar Topology and Time. It begins with an examination of Lacan’s substitution of the philosopher’s being and time for the psychoanalyst’s topology and time by looking at Lacan’s deployment of the Moebius strip in clarifying the paradoxical temporality of the subject and the signifer. It then introduces the Borromean knot as a writing of the Real and attempts to explain the distinction Lacan makes between three different accesses to the Real: modelling, demonstration and monstration. Following a delineation of the place of the symptom and the unconscious in a nodal topology, this paper concludes by raising some questions about the temporality of the Borromean knot and outlining two of the concepts that Lacan introduced in Topology and Time – namely, ‘the generalised Borromean’ and ‘homotopic inversion’.

Keywords: the Borromean knot, the generalised Borromean, the Moebius strip, the symptom, the Real, ex-sistence

Throughout Lacan’s teaching in the 1970s, the importance of topology grew. Where previously topology had been called upon to formalise and present the paradoxical structure of the psychoanalytic subject in a fashion unrealised by Freudian topography and made impossible by the tenets of Euclidean geometry, it now became an invaluable support for the development of new concepts. In moving from representation to creation, Lacan began to speak less and write more. This course reached its apotheosis in Topology and Time – the sessions of which are extremely brief and almost entirely devoted to an elaboration of the knots that Lacan writes. Neither the fnal synthesis of a project nor an entirely superfuous endnote, this seminar represents a work in progress. Just like The Logic of Phantasy or Encore, it has its own concerns, questions and novel developments – the only difference being that these concerns, questions and developments are primarily raised and worked upon through the writing of topology and not, for example, through the reading of a literary…

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