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Alain-Miller - Lacan Later Teaching

Alain-Miller - Lacan Later Teaching

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Published by: Patricio Andrés Bello on Sep 24, 2012
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10/29/2013

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Lacan's Later Teaching
 
 
translated byBarbara P. Fulks
 
I CUT AND CONTINUITY1. A STEP OUTSIDEThere is something called Lacan's later teaching, so called because Ihave isolated it with this signifier, giving it ex-sistence.Ex-sistence means it is held outside. Lacan's later teaching is heldoutside his teaching that is not the later.I've thus isolated a cut that individualizes his later teaching.Isolating it this way is a biographical construction.How can we describe this cut? It isn't obvious; it is bound up oncontinuity. We must construct it to describe it. Let us isolate theopposition of cut and continuity.Cut <> ContinuityCONTINUITY
 
We see continuity in Lacan's teaching. He never departed from logic,from his devotion to reason. When one is devoted to reason for thirtyyears, we might suspect that cuts are not significant. It is preciselythe continuity that gives his teaching its topological structure.Topology offers configurations of differing evidence, although withoutdiscontinuity. The topology allows for Lacan's theses to be reversedwithout rupture, without the solution of continuity, without lettingus perceive what, from another perspective, would be theirinconsistency. An example is the simplest of the topological figures,the strip invented by Mobius which allows passage in continuity to itsreverse side. It's a curious word, solution, which figures in theexpression, the solution of continuity. The word solution comes fromthe Latin
solvere
. We find the same root in dissolution. Lacan playedwith this equivocation between solution and dissolution when hedissolved his School.1DENOUEMENTProperly stated, a solution is the act of unraveling. Only in thefigurative sense does solution mean a resolution that produces aresult.In Lacan's later teaching he arrives at the result, and he uses thefigure of knots, of knotting, of an irreducible knotting as thestructure to communicate the result. But his knotting is a denouement,and if we want to individualize it, if we try to construct thesolution it represents in relationship to what he stated previously,it is when Lacan has no other issue than untangling himself fromFreud. He discreetly sounded out his audience, in whom he had formed,suggested or conditioned a faithfulness to Freud, whose student andmouthpiece he was. What attracts and orients Lacan in his laterteaching is this effort to unknot himself from Freud, to whom he had
 
tied his thought.I can even go so far as to say that Lacan untied himself frompsychoanalysis itself. He considered it from the outside, as one mightconsider psychoanalysis once it had been abolished.This could only be scandalous for those who think that psychoanalysisis eternal. The burden of proof is on them. It is much more likelythat psychoanalysis would become outdated by a certain juncture. Lacanconsidered psychoanalysis from the point of view one could take onceit had ceased to be an effective practice having meaning, such as weare steeped in now.Well considered, Lacan's teaching would be missing something if it hadnot gone that far, had not made a small step outside the bath we arein, in which for us psychoanalysis is a practice with a quotidianmeaning, a meaning in which we bathe without thinking much, if only tostructure it, to make it logical, to complexify it. Lacan's teachingwould be remiss if it hadn't taken this step outside psychoanalysis.SUPERSTITIONIt is not the cult of the knot that orients Lacan's later teaching,but rather the question of knowing what would be left ofpsychoanalysis once we stopped believing in it, believing in it enoughto devote oneself to it. What would be left of psychoanalysis, of whatit has made us perceive, of what it has given us access to, once itwas only a superstition?Let's imagine what it would mean to hold psychoanalysis as asuperstition. Superstition, as commonly understood, is the cult of afalse god. In the correct sense, it is reconstructed in etymology as
superstare
, what is held above. In the figurative sense, it is whatsurvives, what remains, what continues to exist after its progenitorshave ceased to be, it is something that describes what survives.We might introduce here the link between superstition and ex-istence.Once everything has sunk, everything is annulled, what remains of theshipwreck? This is how I myself view Lacan's later teaching. Thisteaching treats the existence of psychoanalysis as a superstition in acryptic way. A cleansing, a degradation of psychoanalysis is needed inorder to make it work.This is why the later teaching was kept at a distance, why it was onlyapproached through its technical side-making knots, designing knots,complicating the knot. This is the time period when Lacan came todescribe psychoanalysis as a fraud.He said this discreetly, away from his Seminar. Once it made headlinesin the press: "Lacan Says Psychoanalysis Is a Fraud."2One hadn'tescaped the hope of being nourished by it. To associate psychoanalysisand fraud, to have that thought, was a feat of cleansing, even ifLacan didn't report it to his Seminar except by veiling it, by sayingpsychoanalysis is a serious thing of which "it is not absurd to saythat it can slide into a fraud."3Here is an association that would be hard to find in his previousteaching and which surely indicates what was tormenting the laterLacan.BELIEFDuring this time Lacan would speak of the famous unconscious. What
 
does this adjective famous mean here? It means that the unconscioushas a reputation. During the 20th century the unconscious had a rathergood reputation. But to speak of reputation may just as well mean tohave a bad one. The famous unconscious, the unconscious of renown,could well slide into having a bad reputation. Which, we mustrecognize, has already begun.But these affairs of good and bad are not very important. To describethe unconscious as famous is to say that it is an affair ofreputation, that is to say, of belief. It is on the road leading Lacanto decide it was perhaps opportune to unravel the unconscious fromFreud, to unknot it from its inventor.I'm not inventing, I quote, "What Freud says of the unconscious isonly gibberish and shenanigans."4Lacan wasn't taken completelyseriously since he said it at the end of the '70s. Who said it?Someone who was the voice of Freud and who had encouraged hanging onFreud's every word to orient one's self in psychoanalysis. It wastaken as bad humor, as excess, as fatigue.If I let myself speak of Lacan's later teaching, it is not justbecause of the knots, which could be just one more episode in Lacan'sschemas, but rather because I think that this is where we can gainentry to his last pronouncements. It is a matter of drawing theunconscious away from Freud and of proposing another concept of theunconscious, another way of conceiving, of capturing the unconscious,and psychoanalysis as well.THE FREUD-EVENTWe can determine the cut that defines Lacan's later teaching from hisprevious one.Before, it was the return to Freud.Before, Lacan's teaching was a discourse professing that Freud was theobligatory guide to accessing the unconscious in an appropriatedirection for the psychoanalytic cure.Before, it was the notion that Freud himself had introduced somethingradically new, a breakthrough in relationship to everything that wasthought, said, and done previously.Before, it was the celebration of the Freud-event and the developmentof its unperceived consequences.What justifies Lacan's teaching as a return to Freud is the notionthat the Freud-event had been registered in common parlance, and inthat way he had been blocked, reduced, misunderstood, and he was dealtwith in traditional categories.Unique in Lacan's teaching, his motivation, was the effort to recastall these traditional categories, to put them in question: what is thesubject, the body, pleasure, etc.? To put all these categories inquestion and to invalidate them, successively, through the test of theFreud-event.2. PRELIMINARY QUESTION FOR ANY POSSIBLE PSYCHOANALYSISA REFORM OF UNDERSTANDINGLacan's teaching is thus proposed as a reform of understanding whichwould take Freud seriously and which would be especially capable of

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