The upcoming (Re)-Turn #7

Ellie Ragland and I have just finished the introduction to the journal and proceeded towards the final stage; hopefully it will be out in the beginning of 2014. This issue is fantastic, Ellie (again, as always) did a great job selecting contributions. The archives of (Re)-Turn can be accessed online by logging in as a member (user name Editors & password is Lacan5851). Below I am posting my reading notes with the quotes from all essays of the upcoming Issue #7:

Cover by Leonor Jurado

Cover by Leonor Jurado

The Responses of the Real: Lesson of November 16, 1983
Jacques-Alain Miller

“…the real lies,” Miller opens his lesson by which we continue publication of his course The Responses of the Real (1983-1984). It is, in his own words, “a scandalous proposition.” One way of understanding it, Miller suggests, is related to the fact that “the subject is, for psychoanalysis, a response of the real and it is first in this form that the real lies because it gives itself in psychoanalysis as response of the subject.” In this lesson, Miller investigates such a lie in relation to the truth. The ambiguity of both – a lie and the truth – is again at play here: it is precisely in dreams, slips of tongue, missed acts, witticisms, the subject of in the analytic experience comes to be.

When a Body Event Is Produced
Pierre Naveau

An event of the body is produced relative to the contingency of a saying (dit), that is to say, at the instant when a saying attains its target, has an impact on the real.

In his novel Stendhal  insistently evokes the paleness and blushing at the time of the meeting of Lucien Leuwen and Mme de Chasteller during a dance. This encounter shows the intensity with which living bodies have a story, made up of events, at each instant, the surprising to the most intimate join of the sentiment of life, of its very pulsation even.  It suffices to say a word in order that faces go from being pale to being red or, inversely, from red to pale.  Bodies themselves, if I can say it, can do nothing about it.  In any case, they feel disturbed.

How Psychoanalysis Functions
David Hafner

Proclamations of anxiety by the analysand, on the other hand, oblige a response by the analyst. This is because anxiety acts as a signal of the presence of objet a where only its real image should appear. To quote Lacan, “We can already say that this Etwas before which anxiety operates as a signal is of the order of the irreducibility of the real. It is in this sense that I dared before you to formulate that anxiety, of all the signals, is that which does not deceive.”[i] Not being of semblance, but rather testifying to the presence of the real – of the appearance of the desire of the Other – a real that concerns, the most intimate aspects of the subject; anxiety warrants the speech of the analyst, so rarely used elsewhere.

In its fundamentality, the chain of signifiers is polyphonic; the subject does not cease to modify his subjective position at each enunciation. This constant modulation – the subject of the unconscious situated between the signifiers, in the interval – is the target of psychoanalysis.

If the analyst finds him/herself in the location of the divided subject, dreaming of the patient a redressage of roles is essential for the advance of treatment for the patient and requires a modification for analysis to be successful. Seeing as the analyst directs the cure purely through his presence, his being, without descending to the level of the imaginary and entering in reciprocity with the patient, hysterical and obsessive patients tend to react quite differently.

Unruly Hysterics: ‘Bordeline’ as Post-Modern Hysteria
Eve Watson

[The] lack of border consistency leaves the subject both dependent on and terrified of the Other. This means that an all-powerful Other can be extremely difficult for this subject to handle, who may react be trying to project the unbearable drive onto the Other. Hence, for her, her image in too much, while her relationships with the Other and with the others in her life are characterized by imaginary battles. As Campbell puts it, the ‘bar of the subject is constantly shifting within the borderline psyche’. With a lack of balance between the real, symbolic and imaginary and with a tipping over into one or the other, the borderline is left either feeling full of tension or emptiness and is driven to force her division in order to solve the tension.[1] Affects swing up and down and apparently at random and are often projected onto others and it is as though she is missing a symptomatic solution to the problem of existence. The drive remains partially unregulated which at best, is experienced as anxiety and at worst, indefinable tension, often leading to substance-abuse and self-harm attempts to regulate it. This is an attempt by an unsuccessfully divided subject to introduce a border between herself and her jouissance.

Repression is what gives reality a life-like density and the conclusion of the complex is also the moment of sublimation which opens the door beyond self-interest. [2] What helps to create the illusion of the completeness of the ego and brings together the partial drives under the auspices of the body image is the phantasy which places the divided subject in an imaginary relationship with the lost object which does not really exist at all. The phantasy produces an Other who dissatisfies in place of the horror of disappearing into or being anialated by the Other’s enjoyment. A problem for the borderline is the relation to the phantasy object, the defect or hole or a in the body image which is normally experienced as a wound, and which in neurosis has to be mourned, is lacking in depth, abstraction and distance, being what Moncayo refers to as the ‘absence of an absence.’

It is crucial to get the borderline speaking rather than acting, acting which is often cutting on the body that is an attempt to install a border.

The Hysteric and the Question of Desire
Leander Pasqual

Pasqual elaborates on Lacan’s formula of hysteric’s desire – “desire is the desire of the Other” – and focuses on the question of how the subject comes to be installed starting from a dialectic with the Other.  His essay “The Hysteric and the Question of Desire” explores the process of formation of desire discussed in Lacan’s Seminar V. Pasqual reads the graph of desire to demonstrate the crucial role of the phallus as a result of the paternal metaphor for the articulation of the hysteric’s desire. He notes that hysteric’s very existence as a subject is possible due to her ability to attains the lack in the Other; while at the same time, her dependence of a semblance, her the fantasmatic relation to it, allows her to sustain the question of desire, of which Freudian case of Dora is a representative example.

The Place of Demand in the Transference: A Lacanian Perspective
Joyce Bacelar Oliveira

…the subject sees himself in his relationship with others, but the subject should not confuse himself with the place of what is reflected. This is possible owing to the withdrawal of the analyst’s ego from the dyadic relationship through his act of silence. In other words, the analyst makes himself invisible for the subject in a sense that his feelings are not part of the analytic setting.

Transference is essentially resistant, in a sense that the communication of the unconscious is interrupted by the emergence of transferential feelings. Thus, transference is seen as an obstacle for the automatic repetition and results in the closure of the unconscious.

…the concept of the automatic repetition concerns the definition of the unconscious insofar as the subject manifests himself as a stumbling, a fading away, a discontinuity, a vacillation in this repetition through the signifiers.

The Child and Its Mother
Pierre-Gilles Gueguen

[The essay] invites us to imagine the status of the infant in a world where, given the fact of the “progress” of technology (biotechnologies and communications, notably), the child can appear as a product of consumption, made to the exact measure, calibrated, but also standardized from the wishes of his parents to become the interchangeable object of parental fantasies.  This is, basically, what is suggested in the cases where the child has been “programmed” by an attentive contraception, or either is born from an artificial insemination, has been medically followed all the way throughout its pregnancy, that is, has been made the object of a scientific intervention so that his or her sex corresponds to the demand of the parents, to the progress of biotechnologies which let one think the child requested will soon be possible.

Gays and Culture: Foucault and “Constructionism”
Jorge Alemán

The essay addresses criticisms of Lacan and psychoanalysis expressed by theorists of feminist, gay, queer and lesbian studies, especially those who build their critic drawing on Foucault’s thought. Alemán examines the major arguments of such critique to demonstrate that most of the points brought up by the critics, are as much Foucauldian as they are Lacanian. He suggests that because Lacan’s work preceded Foucault’s many of themes commonly associate with the latter come directly from Lacan’s oeuvre: “the examination of the subject of the cogito, of the ethical aporias of Kantian law, of the alibis and impasses of Absolute Knowledge; the Lacanian teachings on the diverse modes of the historicizing function of speech, his critique of biologism, of evolutionary development, and of naturalism as a primary given of psychoanalysis,” along with Lacan’s “references to the presence of madness in the cogito, of Eros in the Greek symposium, and to the way the law is libidinized in the imperative; his attack on the foundations of various utopias of accomplishment, his references to Borges and to Las Meñinas, and his radical distinction of the psychoanalysis of Freud from any kind of humanism.” And still, Alemán challenges Foucault’s model of “ceaselessly modifiable function” of subjectivity that Foucault’s sees as separate from the experience of the real. Despite its ethical desirability and noble character, as Alemán demonstrates, the Capitalist discourse arrests and exploits what can be called Foucault’s emancipatory ‘constructivism.’ Drawing on later Lacan, Alemán argues that instead of Foucault’s constructivist model that envisions multiple identities and genders, the deconstruction of phallocentrism consists in exploring the logic of not-all developed in Lacan’s Seminar XX and his further teaching.

Are we to understand Foucault’s quarrel with psychoanalysis in the light of the unfortunate treatment the IPA has given to homosexuality, in treating it exclusively as a perverse pathology, which must exclude the practitioners of this choice?  Regarding this, we should remember that Lacan’s teaching works a progressive deconstruction (démontage) of “neurocentrism,” of the attempt to think of neurosis as a center of assignation of meaning for other clinical structures of the “speakingbeing” (“parlêtre”).  Likewise, heterosexuality as “norme-mâle” no longer constitutes, in Lacan’s teaching, the ultimate starting place for explaining the other sexual practices, thematized in pre-Lacanian teachings as deviations or fixations in development.  The fixation to a jouissance is never resolved in an evolutionary development to be re-established or in a maturation of the personality, and not all of the fixed jouissance disappears even in the construction and traversal of the fantasy.  In this regard, heterosexual, homosexual, and lesbian are always responses to the impossibility of the sexual rapport.  They constitute the symptomatic response of desire’s existence [ii] to duty.  Any attempt to stratify, to hierarchialize, to give priority to one practice over the others is an operation always inscribed in the discourse of the master.  It might have been desirable to preserve the word “perversion” –– which, no doubt, as the constructionists insist, has a negative semantic tradition –– not so much to qualify such and such a sexual practice, but rather to evaluate the position of the subject in the framework of what Lacan designates with the operation of “Kant with Sade,” [iii] this space where the subject makes itself the instrument of the obscene law and exploits the subjective division of the other as a function of its certainty of jouissance –– heterosexuals, like homosexuals, may or may not come under the jurisdiction of this operation.

The problems of politics in the era of globalization also evoke this dilemma in several ways.  How do the numerous subjectivations not end up becoming, despite their multiplicity and incessant renewal, identities, perfectly delimited lifestyles, absolutely compatible with the One of world capitalism?  Lacan himself thematized this question in his now celebrated hypothesis on the discourse of the Capitalist, in which the capitalist subject rejects castration in a way such that this Lacanian conjecture invites us to think that capitalism itself will end up by destroying its foundations through the limitless “surplus enjoyment” (“plus-de-jouir”) of  the “laugh of the capitalist.”  We are far from possessing the keys of this debate, but we can assure ourselves that it will not, in any case, be resolved in seeking a subjectivity crafted by itself––this is what Rorty discerns about Foucault when he calls him a “knight of autonomy.”

When nothing more is left than to await what comes from the real and not from sense, the only courage will perhaps consist in knowing that emancipation, as desirable as it may be ethically, is structurally arrested by the circular movement of the discourse of the Capitalist.

What is a Picture?
Henry Krips

Krips observes, Lacan approaches paintings rather selectively in terms of their time period or style, or, as Krips also points out, he sometimes simply classifies certain paintings as trompe l’oeil for the sake of his argument (for example, Parrhasius’ work), which does not allow him to articulate an important difference between paintings and trompe l’oeil, in addition to their similarity. Krips puts this distinction in Zizekian terms: “trompe l’oeil charms the spectator by telling a lie in the form of the truth, whereas the paintings in question disrupt the spectator’s sensibility by telling the truth in the form of a lie.” This distinction, he argues, “opens up the possibility of pictures leading subject-spectators into a disruptive confrontation with the Real,” which Lacan’s further work suggests. Such confrontation with the Real by means of a painting, as Lacan argues in Seminar XI, has an effect of psychoanalysis as it reveals the structure as a split between the gaze and vision; the structure separate from the visible itself; the structure “on which the entire installation of the subject is founded” (Seminar XIII, L’object de la psychanalyse).

Lacan’s Perspective on the drei schwere Kränkungen and Copernicus’ Circle
David Hafner

Hafner’s very good essay, which I also included in Lacan and the Posthuman collection that I co-edit with Judith Roof, parallels Lacan’s critique of Copernicus’ heliocentric model as a structurally centric model and the critique of the model by the historians of science and philosophers from Alexandre Koyre to Otto Neugebauer. Lacan, as we know from his different texts and seminars, opposed the Copernicus’ spheric model to Kepler’s elliptical model of planetary motion: “Copernicus’model involved an idealized static symbolic order. By continuing to refer to the orbs as avenues for the planets, he remained in the ancient perspective. There was no destabilizing intrusion of the gravitational real,” Hafner writes.

To conclude, we suggest that there is an intimate relation between a given subject’s fantasy and the discoveries, scientific or otherwise, that he is ready to witness. In the case of Copernicus, the perfection of the circle played an essential role in his dissatisfaction with the inconsistencies of the Ptolemaic model and it was also in the foreground of his heliocentric reworking. From the writings of Blaise Pascal and Albert Einstein we find further data. Pascal, when faced with the incapacity of contemporary glass working technology, followed his intuition and postulated the potential existence of a vacuum and the weight of air due to fluid dynamics. Pascal is also famous for the quotation, “La silence éternel de ces espaces infini m’effrai.” [iv] One wonders if the void held special importance for Pascal and allowed him to predict its presence in spite of overwhelming prejudice of the scientific community that followed from Aristotle’s Horror vacui. Finally we refer to Einstein, who, having imagined the effects of the relative perception of time caused be limitations on the velocity of electromagnetic radiation, refused to accept the extrapolation to the existence of black holes. “Today we call them black holes, but back then no one – particularly Einstein – believed they could be real. Yet the Schwarwschild solution clearly demonstrated that the end result of a gravitational collapse must be the formation of a singularity- a point of infinite density – that creates a closed pocket of space and time forever disconnected from the outside world.” [v] Einstein thought of singularities as aberrations of nature and defended his position from a philosophical standpoint, “It seems hard to sneak a look at God’s cards. But that He plays dice… is something that I cannot believe for a single moment.” [vi] The argument between Bohr and Einstein’s interpretations summarized there. Subjectivity, understood as a person’s symptom thus seems to tint the entirety of his outlook on the world, scientific objectivity included. 

[1] Ibid., 70.

[2] Lacan, Jacques, The Family Complexes in the Formation of the Individual, (1938), Private Trans. C. Gallagher, 35.

[i] Lacan, Jacques,Séminaire 10 L’Angoisse, Seuil: Paris, 188.

[ii]  In his later teachings, Lacan often etymologizes “existence” (which he sometimes hyphenates as ex-sistence) so as to restore its original meaning of “standing outside of.”  Desire “exists to duty” inasmuch as it stands outside, and yet sists or insists, in relation to duty.  This relationship could be termed “extimate” [translator].

[iii]  Lacan, Jacques, “Kant avec Sade.” Écrits, Paris: Seuil,; Lacan, Jacques, Bruce Fink, Héloïse Fink, and Russell Grigg. 2006. Écrits. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

[iv] Pascal, Blaise, Pensées. 1669. Gallimard: Paris, 1978, 58-60.

[v] Melia, Fulvio, Breaking The Einstein Code: Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole Physics, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 2009, 3.

[vi] Hermanns, William, Einstein and the Poet, Branden Press: Brookline Village, 1983, 58.