Will Greenshields An Approach to Lacans XXVIth Seminar Topology and Time

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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