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  • Report on Miquel Bassols seminar 'The Disparate Sexes'
    On Saturday, 9 March 2024, Miquel Bassols presented a seminar entitled ‘The Disparate Sexes’. Miquel began by commenting on the translation of the title of his talk, with reference to the current issue of the difference between the sexes, of the radical difference that sex introduces into the speaking being. Once language enters the body, there is no longer anything ‘natural’ about sex. That is, there is no natural sexual identity, (genetic or otherwise), and it is not enough to say that the aspect of identity called gender is a cultural construct, a move which founds a cultural relativism. It is not easy to separate gender and sex, for example. The discourse of transgenderism and sexual identity complicates things: besides the question of ‘Am I a man or a woman?’, this discourse, more and more frequently, introduces the question, ‘Am I trans or queer?’. Miquel spoke of the difference introduced into the body when it experiences sexual jouissance. Translating ‘jouissance’ is a barbarism, he says—and jouissance is already barbarism as such. This is demonstrated in the concept of extimacy—sex is the presentification of this βᾰ́ρβᾰρος in the body. Today we face a Babel of sexes: there is the question of the infinitude of sexual and gender identities (Cf. Seminar XX, ‘Encore’). What kind of disparity are we talking about? The OED defines disparity as something made up of parts or people that are very different than each other. One can even speak of a ‘disparate couple’. Miquel therefore proposed to speak of sex in the same way that one can speak of a ‘disparate pair of socks’. Lacan’s ‘there is no sexual relation’ points to this disparity. Miquel pointed out that in Spanish one speaks of ‘mi pareja’, ‘my couple’, in contrast to the English phrase ‘my relationship’. ‘Mi pareja’ therefore seems to suggest that one is always in a third position with regards to their relationship. Lacan says that when it comes to the sexual relation, we are always four: I enter the relation with my fantasy, and they enter with their fantasy. It is not so easy to count when it comes to sex(es). Miquel made reference here to Anne Fausto-Sterling’s paper proposing ‘five sexes’, from a genetic point of view: male, female, herm, merm, and ferm.[1] Lacan, for his part, says there are two sexes and no more. Miquel added that perhaps there are less than two. Lacan articulates in his term ‘Yad’lun’ that sex is the one jouissance that makes a pair of socks: Yad’lun is a correlative of ‘There is no sexual relation’. ‘Disparate’, then, is a good term to evoke Lacan’s aphorism, which in itself is difficult to translate into English: the ‘there is’ of ‘there is no sexual relation’ already suggests that there is something that is there, when there is not. ‘Trans’ covers a wide range of subjective positions concerning gender. It is an umbrella term. It is a signifier which goes far beyond what ‘transexual’ originally covered by David Oliver Caldwell and Harry Benjamin, who employed the term to describe a pathology, a ‘false mental orientation’ requiring treatment and adjustment. Thus the movement for ‘depathologisation’, one more shift between normal and pathological. The supposed mismatch of body and mind remains the basis of understanding for trans identity: a mind-body dualism. This assumption is shared even among critics of biopower. Miquel advised, however, that there are three terms in Cartesianism—res cogitans, res extensa, and God—and referred to Lacan’s comments in Seminar XX, that God is another face of feminine sexuality, another path into feminine jouissance. The third term we must introduce, then, is jouissance: the body, the mind, and jouissance linking them together. There is nothing in the Freudian unconscious, nor in its formations, that assures us that the difference between male and female beings is inscribed. The unconscious behaves as if there were only one sex, and the problem is to recognise which one it is. The Other is impossible to count, and there is no certainty that the Other exists: this is the basis of the question of translating between one sex and another—and this problem cannot be resolved by saying gender is a social construct. Reference was made here to Robert Stoller’s introduction of sex and gender discourse in the 1960s. There are many binarisms inscribed in the unconscious, many oppositions between two terms: active and passive, present and absent, phallus and castration. Lacan began his teaching with these binarisms: the axiom that the unconscious is structured like a language assumes that the unconscious works with binarist distinctions. However, attempts to resolve sexuality with these binarisms are defeated. Negation is not the way out of a binary system. For example, the contemporary term ‘non-binary’ reproduces the very binary that it opposes. ‘LGBT’ identities also operate on a binarism—on combinatories of binaries. This is to be expected, as the signifier knows no other law. Binarism only explains part of sexuality, the identifications and orientations of our jouissance. It can only explain the representable part of our sexuality, what we know as gender. At this point we must enter a different logic, not relativistic or binary, but the logic of the One without the Other, each with his own fantasies and symptoms. Seminar XIX (‘…ou pire’) introduces this new logic. It is not possible to introduce objet a into a binary: it is the ‘queer object’. In the end, of what use is this binarism? Miquel drew a comparison here with the binary system used in computing, where the only two terms are one and zero—there is no ‘two’. The difference between one and zero is absolute, not relative. The binarism of the unconscious only counts one and zero, then. Lacan says that to count beyond two is very difficult. We can propose that in autism, the autistic subject is in the field of a one without a zero. Lacan proposes that God loves odd numbers: God loves being ‘numerically odd’, and even points to the ability of the English word ‘odd’ to signify both a number that is not divisible by two and the quality of being strange or alien. Here is a way, then, to understand the irreducible disparity of the sexes: ‘two rejoices in being odd’. Lacan’s ‘two sexes’ as an ‘odd’ two: a binary only to be considered from a third place. In children, boys and girls, it is not they who distinguish themselves, the difference can only be introduced from elsewhere. It is a relative difference that does not count: the difference is an Other difference. Miquel contrasted this with the absolute difference that Lacan introduces in Seminar XI. In the case of Little Hans, Hans develops a phobia at five years old, not only after the birth of his little sister and his perception of a relative anatomical difference with her—but also after experiencing an erection of the phallic organ, a jouissance in a part of his organism that can no longer be re-introduced into the unity of the body—this is an absolute difference, located in Little Hans’s own body. This calls into question the sexual identity of the subject. Florencia Shanahan commented here that this is a question beyond ‘Am I a girl or a boy?’. Miquel replied that this question cannot settle the problem. The problem is that Little Hans can no longer sustain the fantasy of being the mother’s phallus: it expels him from this place. There are many options for Little Hans here: he could develop a homosexual identity, seeking the phallus in another body; ultimately, the option that he takes up is a phobia: to locate in the Other what he felt he had rejected from the unity of his own body. There was another possibility, that of emasculation, a ‘real transexualism’, that Miquel says appears only among a few subjects in the trans experience. ‘Trans’ therefore stands as a signifier that resolves a difficulty with jouissance inherent in human sexuality. It is redolent of the distinction that Lacan makes between a frontier and a littoral: the frontier suggests the one with the other, while the littoral suggests a one without an other. ‘There is no Other of the Other’, as Lacan says, which he restates as ‘The Other does not exist’: the Other, in other words, is always a supposition. There is one exception: the feminine position, which involves being Other for oneself. This presents a logical problem, but it is foundational for Lacan’s view. The feminine position can be described as ‘Otherness’ as such: that is, the feminine in each human being, the position most alien to oneself. Freud claims that every human being is structurally bisexual. This was undoubtedly concession to binarism. Miquel then discussed the work of Catalonian sociologist and trans activist Miquel Missé, who is very critical of the trans discourse, including in his book The Myth of the Wrong Body (2022). Missé points out that gender transition is easier today, but observes that the narrative about the body remains the same: the discourse has stolen his body for the promise of an improved one given by society. Missé proposes transitioning not as a journey from A to B but a process of finding one’s place in the line between two points. This framing suggests Zeno’s paradox, since it could be said that there are an infinity of points between two points on a line. ‘All bodies are wrong’: none can arrive at B, and therefore a new logic is needed to articulate this. Missé makes the claim that ‘There is no such thing as sex change’, that the most we can do is change the secondary characteristics of our bodies, and even then, as Miquel commented, we will not know how the subject experiences sex as Otherness. In the afternoon session for members, Lilli Klint and Ros McCarthy presented two clinical cases. Miles Link (ICLO) References [1] Fausto-Sterling, Anne. (1993). The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female are not Enough. Science. 33. [2] Missé, Miquel. (2022). The Myth of the Wrong Body. Polity.
  • Report on the Knottings Seminar -January 2020
    This Knottings Seminar was the first of its kind in Dublin after it had already been established some time ago by the School of the NLS. The Knot, or the Borromean knot, is a clinical tool that was given by Lacan for practitioners to find their way of working in the clinic. What was demonstrated throughout the seminar, was how this clinical tool is used in the means of interpretation and more specifically as the title(s) demonstrate ‘Interpretation form truth to event’ or ‘The other side of interpretation. Reasonances of the body in Psychoanalysis’. As Florencia Shanahan spoke about, the title has an echo to Lacans seminar XVII “The Other Side of Psychoanalysis” so, there is already a topology introduced where things don’t simply only have two sides but rather are more complex. The word reasonance implicates the materiality of language and introduces a hole in meaning rather than following reason and absolute meaning. The conference by NLS President Bernard Seynhaeve, followed by three clinical case studies, contribute to the questions of interpretation and reasonance of the body and have given me some clarity or at least depth into the topics. Seynhaeve begins with some questions in relation to the means of internet and the place it has in analytic practice. This question has been circulating for some time now and I believe Seynhaeve, together with the clinical papers, demonstrated something of a response to these ideas that are intimately connected to interpretation and the body. What was made clear was that in order to carry out the analytic work, and bring it beyond, both the body of the analyst and that of the analysand must be present. In connection to this point what came alive for me was the questions around the later Lacanian teachings of disturbing the defence. Freud spoke about defence in his 1894[1] paper, where he states that defence is acquired by one as a kind of forgetting. For Lacan defence is precisely this point of knotting between the body and language: the sinthome. In an analysis what is aimed at is for the analysand to arrive as close as possible to the knotting between language and his body, which is how the signifier has marked the body. This is where this tool of the knot works as navigation for the analyst to act with his body to interpret and respond, in order to touch the defence and shake it, disturb it. This means that interpretation must touch the real of the body which enjoys itself – the moment before the body was hooked into a discourse. Seynhaeve gave an example taken by Jacques-Alain Miller of writer Michel Leiris. Seynhaeve illustrates the story where Leiris before he could read or write created his own word. This word gave him absolute enjoyment, of course it was not the correct word and his mother corrected him with the right word. This moment illustrated a crucial point. Leiris in that moment enjoyed his own word, it was a moment of jouissance where the knotting between language and the body was produced. It is important to note that this example also made clear that this was a moment of unfathomable decision of being. This is where the subject decides if he will let that creation go and follow everyone else as well as the intervention of the Other. It is the moment of consent to the Other as well as to its structure. Near the end of the presentation Bernard Seynhaeve concludes with the position of the analyst and the tool of interpretation. He states, following Miller’s Course, that analytic interpretation is no longer a deciphering of knowledge but rather something that can give clarity to the nature of the defence the subject has constructed. The analyst is a sinthome – he is supported by the non-sense. What the analyst does is to play the part of the body event and to play the role of making semblant of the trauma. In other words, with his body and in the present moment, the analyst can make an interpretation through a dramatized act that can touch something of the real for the analysand that can produce a sublimation to that body event. And to bring it back to Bernard Seynhaeve’s original question, analysis through Skype cannot allow for this body event to happen. Following Seynhaeve presentation, clinical papers by guest Marina Frangiadaki and ICLO members Linda Clarke and Caroline Heanue,also brought to life the unique work that analysts do in the School and how there is something that they give up in order to have an effect with their interpretations. I believe this seminar was unique and one really had to be there to experience what was transmitted as a contribution to the psychoanalytic orientation. By Nefeli Papadaki [1] Freud., S., The neuro-psychoses of defence, SE, Vol. II
  • Report on the ICLO-NLS Special Interest Group Screening of Like an Open SkyDublin, September 2016"
    Saturday the 17th of September marked the opening of the calendar year 2016/2017of ICLO-NLS activities with a well-attended screening and Irish Premiere of the film Like an Open Sky, followed by a Clinical Conversation in the afternoon attended by two invited guests, Marie Brémond and Bruno de Halleux, both of whom have worked in Le Courtil and feature in the film. Mariana Otero's film Like an Open Sky follows with great tact and sensitivity the singular work undertaken by the staff and residents at Le Courtil in Belgium. Le Courtil is an institution that receives children and adolescents, some of whom have been diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, present with symptoms of psychosis or other forms of mental and emotional suffering. The event was hosted by the ICLO-NLS Special Interest Group (SIG) for Child and Adolescent Lacanian Psychoanalysis that has been working on the question of autism and psychoanalysis. An original closed screening of the film instilled in the SIG a desire to disseminate this film and its message of invention and optimism within a psychoanalytic institution to a specifically Irish audience. The event was opened by Florencia Shanahan, Chair of ICLO-NLS, who welcomed all of the guests, especially Marie and Bruno for travelling to be with us on such an important day. Florencia spoke about the SIG and the work that has been carried out over the previous three years having culminated in important moments for ICLO-NLS and its members, and that showing Mariana Otero's film was an important addition to this conversation. The film itself follows a question that Mariana Otero had while researching the documentary, what is madness? This question is stripped of its patronising connotations, as Mariana herself describes in the book that accompanies the film, Like an Open Sky: Invention from day to day, in an attempt to transmit something of the unknowable: what is it like for these children to live and how do they find solutions to their suffering with the interventions of the staff. Throughout the film we meet children who are attending Le Courtil and see how they grow and achieve through invention and discovery, i.e. without 'specialized education' or 'behavioural training'. In Le Courtil there is no standard treatment or an ideal of conformity; in short there is no 'normalilty', so why should a child be measured against an ideal or norm ? In a short questions and answers section that took place after the film screening Marie Brémond spoke about the importance of scansion, the cut within analysis, which is highlighted in the film. She noted how important things like counting can be for a child who is overwhelmed by their body and who has no other means of dealing with the jouissance that invades them. By introducing the cut through a break or changing the activity, a gap is introduced. A question was asked about how the children reacted to being filmed and Marie Brémond noted that it was a very singular experience. Some of the children enjoyed playing with the camera and this idea of being seen and some other children could not stand to be around it and would leave as soon as Mariana entered. Some of the children called Mariana 'Robocop' because of the camera harness she wore while filming. A number of other important questions were raised, including how the 'practice amongst many' [pratique à plusieurs] works within the institution, the role of semblance or make believe within treatment, and the difficulties encountered by practitioners within this work. The afternoon’s clinical conversation consisted of three case presentations that were discussed first by Marie Brémond and Bruno de Halleux and then opened to the floor for discussion. All of the cases were fascinating and spoke to elements of the film that we had all just seen. Stephen Mc Coy presented the case of a boy with whom he had worked for a number of years. The discussion seemed to gravitate towards a question about his relation to the father. Donna Redmond presented a particularly difficult and demanding case of psychosis. Donna highlighted the different stages of the treatment and the development of the transferential relationship. The case also spoke significantly about the body as an object of terror in its excess and how this subject found a way to live in their body. Cecilia Savotti presented a case that left us all leaving in good spirits and demonstrated something of the singular invention as presented in the film Like an Open Sky. Her case was of a child with whom she had worked for a number of years and elaborated a number of phases in the treatment that marked transitions in the position of the practitioner and the forms of work that could take place within the gap introduced by Cecilia. Joanne Conway, co-ordinator of the SIG closed the day by thanking all who had attended the day, especially Marie Brémond and Bruno de Halleux, and those who presented cases who had opened up their clinic to say something of the Lacanian psychoanalytic work with children being done in Ireland. Hugh Jarret (SIG)
  • HOWCATHCHEM: The Detection of Discreet Signs in Ordinary Psychoses
    John Burton Wallace V NEW YORK — July 2-3, 2016, delegates of the New Lacanian School (NLS) traveled to Dublin, Ireland to the Printworks at the Dublin Castle where they were called by the XIVth Congress of the NLS and its call for the detection of discreet signs in ordinary psychoses. The detection of these discreet signs — presented over the course of five clinical sessions, two round-tables, multiple interventions, and a day of clinical conversation — brought to mind the world of the detective story. As Jacques-Alain Miller made reference in his direction of the Clinical Conversation, through this detective work, one may realize the patient is not who we thought they were. If the detection of discreet signs in the clinic of ordinary psychosis can be associated to the world of the detective story then what we are dealing with is not the genre of the “whodunit” à la Raymond Chandler, but rather that of the “howcatchem,” a signifier fittingly Joycean in its conception, à la Columbo.[1] By extension, Lacan’s work on Joyce can be read as paradigmatic in this regard. If the “whodunit” is linked to the what’s missing, the logic of the “howcatchem” is motivated by a how does it work, a necessity indicated by the generalization, pluralization, and ordinarization of the clinic of psychosis echoed by Florencia F.C. Shanahan and Yves Vanderveken in the overture to the Congress. Discreet Signs The term discreet, even before being set in relation to the sign, posed an enigma to the participants of the Congress. In her remarks prior to the first clinical session, Marie-Hélène Brousse cited the linguistic discrepancy in the use of the term, highlighting the equivocation of discreet taken as difficult to perceive, and/or as easily identifiable. Turning to the sign, the distinction was made between the signifier as that which represents the subject to another signifier, and the sign as that which represents something for someone. In the relation of the discreet to its function as sign in the detection of discreet signs, multiple cases attested to the moment in which a signifier becomes a sign for the subject. These moments included those reminiscent of the meaning of the red car made famous by Lacan in Seminar III, and instances where the subject experienced themselves as excluded or made exception by the universal, while in other cases a form of auto-segregation was evident. [2] These discreet signs, as Miquel Bassols identified in his intervention “Psychosis, Ordered Under Transference,” appear as the unheimlich, the uncanny, where the strangest inhabits the most familiar in the encounter of the clinical trait in its singular detail. Here, Bassols posed ordinary psychosis as a version of Russell’s paradox in the signifier’s inclusion of categories that do not include themselves i.e. it looks like hysteria, but it does not include the traits of hysteria. This paradox gave way to numerous debates including differentiating between the elementary phenomena as such and the detection of discreet signs. The necessity to detect a before and after of a triggering or unplugging (débranchement) was also contested. In this way, during a round-table discussion, François Ansermet posed the paradox of the discreet sign in its instance as a not-so-discreet solution. Ansermet noted the stakes of the contemporary clinic in his comments regarding the clinic’s preference of singularity to radicalization, a preference which can act to modify a subject’s destiny by re-directing the subject away from the passage(s) to the act that dominate our times. Here, Jacques Borie raised the question of how each subject can make language useful for the body in a way that focuses on anchoring against dispersion. Indeed, multiple cases presented throughout the weekend evidenced forms of subjective organization and disorganization appearing as exile, inclusion, or the invention of singular practices and uses of language. Le Saint Homme and the Saints of the School (AEs) Eric Laurent’s lecture “Les signes discrets et le Saint Homme” proceeded from Lacan’s reference to Joyce in his singularity as Joyce Le Sinthome, the title for Seminar XXIII, which reads as a pun. If Joyce was indeed a saint, Laurent asked, what were the discreet signs that allowed for Lacan to consider him as such? In a lecture after the Seminar, Lacan in fact suggested that Joyce is not a saint, citing the pride Joyce could be drunk with, a discreet reference to Joyce’s alcoholism and his belief that he could say anything. Indeed, in some ways he could, as Laurent made reference to Samuel Beckett’s essay on Ulysses: “Here form is content, content is form…. When the sense is sleep, the words go to sleep… When the sense is dancing, the words dance."[3] Alas, Joyce was not a saint, at least not a simple one. As Laurent underlined, Lacan likened Joyce’s art to his drinking to show that his sublimation could not deliver him from addiction. But then again, Laurent demonstrated how in a certain way Joyce was a saint, in the measure that Joyce did not expect to be made wealthy by his art and lived at the behest of patrons, namely Harriet Weaver. So what is a simple saint for Lacan? Laurent, citing Lacan, answered, “all those who want to occupy the place of object a incarnate.” The analyst occupies the place of object a, but does not become a semblant of object a. As Laurent underlines, object a is a semblant that the analyst makes present. The analyst, not a saint, is only a desire to occupy that place. Lacan underlined that there is no canonical way to make a saint, in contrast to the bureaucracy of the Church’s nomination of saints, which Laurent identified as an attempt to re-canonize the church itself. As Laurent put it, there is no canonical way to become an analyst of the School, just as there is no standard or ideal path to the singular incarnation of object a whose position it is for the analyst to occupy and not enjoy (jouir). Those who define themselves as products of the analytic experience, the AEs, are our saints. Indeed, the testimonies of three AE’s: Laurent Dupont, Dominque Holvoet and Véronique Voruz, each as different from the one before and the one to follow, bear witness to the production of their singularities by way of the analytic experience. To conclude his conference, Laurent commented on the analyst’s relationship to Joyce, who like Joyce takes a small tax, a litter, as the mark of the operation of jouissance. However, the analyst cannot be Joycean because Joyce’s art was without reference to lalangue as he plugged his symptom directly into the English language thus breaking it through equivocation. The analyst must link the symptom with a peculiar language, the lalangue of the analysand, in reverse of the Joycean experience, to then rid it of the meanings established by the common discourse in a manner as intimate as the construction of the Book of Kells. As Laurent concluded, “don’t forget to see the Book of Kells.” [1] In the American television series Columbo (1971-2003), the protagonist Detective Columbo, portrayed by Peter Falk, was notoriously and serially perplexed in his detection of the discreet sign in its simultaneity as difficult to perceive, easily identifiable, and the signature of the crime itself. [2] Lacan, J., The Seminar Book III, The Psychoses, op. cit., pg. 9. [3] Beckett, S., “Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce,” in Finnegans Wake: A Symposium - Exagmination Round His Incamination of Work in Progress [... &c.] (Paris: Shakespeare & Co. 1929; facs. rep. edn. NY: New Directions 1972), op. cit., pg. 13.
  • "The Paradoxes of the Body" with Lieve Billiet"
    Yes! Users can add video from YouTube or Vimeo with ease: On Saturday the 7th of November Lieve Billiet gave a seminar under the following title: The Paradoxes of the Body. She began by saying that the effects of digitalization and the virtualization of contacts have become more and more sensible in the psy-world. Indeed, all kinds of virtual and online tools are being promoted and some would argue that their use might be a way of dealing more efficiently with waiting-lists. However , crucial here is that the encounter with an analyst implies something that is by-passed here and that is that the analyst embodies, incarnates, something. This embodied presence is crucial for analysis; for the kind of analysis that seeks to have an effect on the real and jouissance of the body. Lieve then argued that the body in analysis is paradoxical. Analysis operates on the basis of speech but it is embodied speech. Moreover, the body is alive and yet inhabited by death. She moved on the say that with Descartes body and mind became separated which implied that the former was bereft of animation and as such the way was paved for a scientific approach to it. Subsequently, various attempts were made in modern philosophy to restore the original unity between mind and body but, in a way, these attempts were little more than a new version of the ancient “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. That the body cannot be reduced to an object of science was demonstrated very clearly by the clinical field of hysteria. The body of psychoanalysis is an animated body; a body marked and traumatized by speech. Via a consideration of Freud’s theory of the drives, Lieve arrives at a detailed exploration of four stages in Lacan’s thinking on the drives and the body: the body as narcissistically invested image; the body as signified by language and captivated by the truth of desire; the body as a surface with holes – the erogenous zones – around which the drives circulate and, lastly, the body as “jouissance substance”. In the first stage, forces of unification and fragmentation, life and death, interact with each other and get knotted. In the second stage, the signifier mortifies the body but paradoxically animates the subject with desire as the result of castration. Indeed, the body is marked by castration and if that does not happen jouissance will not be phallicized and the body will thus be experienced as perplexing as exemplified by Schreber. In the third stage, Lacan revises Freud’s theory of the drives and Lieve demonstrates that the loss around which the drives turn, and which animates them, is a natural loss. She shows that this is a crucial moment in Lacan’s work because castration here is disconnected from Oedipus and becomes generalized (separation). This necessitates a new reading of the mirror-stage in which the “beautiful form” veils something, namely, the fact that there are the holes of the erogenous zones (and not fragmentation). It is clear that the subject cannot live in harmony with his or her body and this is further explored by Lieve in the last stage of Lacan’s work. Now the body as real comes into the foreground. The real of jouissance disturbs the body and the question is how to treat this body and its jouisssance. Lacan introduces the notion of the body as “jouissance substance” and with this notion he manages to knot the living body with jouissance and the signifier as such paving the way for a treatment of the body and jouissance with the signifier. This is a signifier that is new in that it is not connected to other signifies but a signifier that targets jouissance directly by by-passing meaning. This jouissance is on the side of the One; of the One-all-alone as an effect of the signifier. The effect of this kind of signifier (again, of the One-all-alone) causes the event of the body as something that is present in every symptom. What is at stake in analysis is not a matter of getting rid of it but rather a “knowing how to do with it”. In a closed session in the afternoon two ICLO members presented a case and a clinical conversation ensued that was extraordinarily stimulating and which included some crucial contributions from Lieve, ICLO members and Luc Vandervennet. ICLO would like to thanks Lieve for her enormous tour “de force” and both herself and Luc for the generous giving of their time. A brief afterword. This report was written two days after the horrific events in Paris on the 13th of November. This shows that the ideas put forward here by Lieve on the late Lacan and the jouissance of the body have become not only more relevant than ever but have in fact become an acute necessity. The effect of today’s kind of signifier can in some cases be so ruinous that the annihilation of bodies tends to become a more frequent occurrence. It is really important that psychoanalysts should not remain silent here. Rik Loose (ICLO-NLS)
  • Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar “The Knotting of Language and the Body in Adolescence" with Neus Carbonell"
    It was to an unseasonably windy Saturday morning that the Special Interest Group of Child and Adolescent Lacanian Psychoanalysis (SIG)[1] of ICLO-NLS welcomed Neus Carbonell on this her second visit to Dublin at the invitation of the SIG. The event, which was open to the public and very well attended, was a continuation from last year which spoke to the title of “The Knotting of Language and the Body in Childhood.”[2] Joanne Conway welcomed Carbonell and situated the work of the SIG as we prepare to embark on our third year of working together. She spoke of Carbonell’s invaluable transmission last year and how it had informed the direction and the focus of the SIG. Conway proceeded to present some of the challenges specific to the construction of adolescence and the process of re-knotting the speaking body with the jouissance of the drives. Simultaneously, the adolescent experiences impasses and disorientations resulting from the changing symbolic order, the impact of which presents a different kind of teenage rebellion today. It is one which no longer or at the least, very rarely resembles yesteryear’s iconic semblant poster boys of Marlon Bando and James Dean. Carbonell began by stating that the knot in childhood between language and body may be insufficient to hold in adolescence requiring the subject to retie this knot but under new conditions. These new conditions are the impact of the symbolic and the real of sexuality. The young subject must search for and find his own knowledge regarding the treatment of the real of sex but crucially, this is at a very particular moment. Adolescence as a construction requires the subject to ‘redo the threads of his past’ to become an adult but this is precisely where the difficulty and its precariousness lies because it is at this moment that the knot may be undone. In following the path of Freud in how we can learn from poets, Carbonell made use of a reading of “The Young Man’s Song” by W.B. Yeats to serve as both a reference and illustration throughout the morning. For those unfamiliar with the poem, it is of a young man, but one old enough and he wonders if a young woman will love him - but there is nobody wise enough to tell him, so he must take a chance - by throwing a penney. This young man’s love and desire, doubts and anxiety are set against the absence of a knowledge of how to court this young woman. He can merely rely on the contingency of throwing a penney and leave it to chance. This beautiful scenario covers over his encounter with the real, a jouissance of which he has no way of dealing with. What he will make of this contingency will mark his life hereafter. It is exactly these contingent encounters in adolescence which are of extreme importance. Carbonell concluded this introduction by saying that this is what adolescence is about, no more or less than this. Carbonell identified two characteristics of adolescence: the “awakening” and the “exile.” To elaborate on the “awakening” Carbonell referenced Frank Wedekind’s play “The Awakening of Spring.” The adolescent must awaken from those dreams of childhood and give up on the dream of marrying his mother. He cannot make use of the phallus unless first he renounces being it. He must find a way to turn the drive jouissance of childhood into a phallic jouissance and learn how to make do with his symptom of puberty. This symptomatic form is the only way of re-knotting the body and language. This is also the moment that the knot can become undone with serious consequences leading to passages to the act. He must find a way of dealing with these bodily changes which signal the entrance into the possibility of the real of procreation. He can no longer rely at the level of the signifier on the function of stereotypes which sufficed as a child. This passage from childhood to adolescence used to be frequently marked in the form of cultural rites. This is becoming less evidenced today and instead what our experience demonstrates is a prolonged and sustained period of adolescence. A clinical vignette pointed to such a marking of a prolonged adolescence whereby the subject’s symptom in response to his encounter with the real revolved around the impossibility of love and his subsequent refusal to consent to the possibility of rejection by the love object. The second characteristic of adolescence is exile both from childhood and from language. This painful process of exile is absolutely necessary as it enacts separation and marks the passage from object of desire to subject of desire. In childhood the love object is present but in adolescence one must search for it elsewhere, without any know-how to accomplish it. An oft cited adolescent complaint of being misunderstood is placed in the other of adults. Carbonell stressed the importance for the analyst also to not appear to understand too much or too well and instead point towards the necessary process of lack and therefore desire. Feeling alone and different from the adolescent others needs to lead to new identifications with the forming of new communities and ties beyond the family. This new community of friends, who remain misunderstood by adults, enables a shift in position from one of exception to one amongst many. Carbonell stressed that the treatment orientation of the adolescent clinic lies in Lacan’s Schema R regarding the tension between the ego ideal and ideal ego. The subject of the narcissistic image is drive jouissance, one which will ultimately lead to the death drive. It is therefore imperative not to reinforce the narcissistic image. The demand for enjoyment without limit makes confrontation with desire impossible. Contemporary society privileges consumerism which in turn encourages narcissism – the promise of enjoyment is not another subject through which one finds identification but a proliferation of objects. The drive satisfaction is not only authorised today but is ubiquitous and almost presented as mandatory which stymies the passage from childhood to adolescence. It is no longer Yeats’ contingency of throwing a penney in the face of not knowing when there was no-one wise enough. Now knowledge is eroticised with it firmly in ones’ pocket (or at the end of a couple of clicks on a keyboard) and not in the field of the Other. The afternoon was a closed session with three clinical cases presented by Cecilia Saviotti, Stephen McCoy and Hugh Jaret. As a matter of pure contingency, each case provided an elaboration of key concepts worked on in the morning. The first case by Saviotti was of a little hysteria representing the particularity of feminine phobia. The desiring subject is awakening but experiencing difficulty in redoing the thread of history. McCoy presented a subject invaded by jouissance with little recourse to use language in defence of the real. The knotting of body and language is tenuous with little resources to find a place in the Other to which he could hold himself. The final case of the day by Jaret was of a subject who found a solution in the narcissistic image of a body that could not stop. We would very much like to reiterate our appreciation to Neus Carbonell for her generous and continued contribution to members of ICLO-NLS and the SIG. Carbonell’s inimitable transmission of psychoanalysis is with a particular ease and grace which consents to a space of learning and after today, a renewed appreciation of Yeats! Caroline Heanue (ICLO) [1] The Special Interest Group of Child and Adolescent Lacanian Psychoanalysis (SIG) is a group comprising practitioners with backgrounds in psychoanalysis, clinical psychology, psychiatry and psychotherapy with a committed interest in therapeutic work with children and adolescents. [2] This paper is published in the latest edition (Issue 10 May 2015) of Lacunae, the APPI (Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland) International Journal for Lacanian Psychoanalysis.
  • Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar “Women's Bodies in the Analytic Experience” with Marie-Hélène Brousse
    The fourth and final Seminar of the Lacanian Orientation with Members of the World Association of Psychoanalysis in the series for 2014-2015 entitled “Language and the Body” took place on 18th of April in The Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square, Dublin. Marie-Hélène Brousse, AME of the ECF, NLS and WAP, Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris 8, spoke on the theme ‘Women’s bodies in the analytic experience’. Rik Loose, Chair ICLO-NLS in his opening address, welcomed all attendees and introduced our guest, who is a familiar visitor to Dublin Marie-Hélène opened the seminar by asking what the analytic experience teaches us about a woman’s body, suggesting in response that there are two orientations possible. One orientation sees a woman’s body as spare parts, a fragmented body, and this fragmentation is manifested in objects, for example, hair, shoes etc., and have both imaginary and symbolic dimensions. This orientation is also expressed at a global level in the discourse of the social link, in the way that women act as social links in the social bond. The second orientation is based on the clinic: what a woman says about her body in the analytic experience, for example, in pregnancy a woman can be surprised by her body. While pregnancy is desired, there are many contradictory and subjective reactions to this unique experience. However, psychoanalysis is not a body practice and the only entrance we have to the unconscious is through discourse, through speech by saying something. After referring to the vanishing influence of the Name of the Father after Freud’s Victorian times Marie-Hélène highlighted one particular sentence in a text from the Ecrits referring to Dora. Lacan wrote ‘Frau K is not an individual, but a mystery, the mystery of Dora’s own femininity, by which I mean her bodily femininity-...’ [1]. This mystery poses a question; for each woman, one by one. Freud implies a homosexuality in heterosexuality and Lacan posits this in another way in Seminar XX by saying there is only one libido, which is always essentially phallic, regardless of the person’s sex. However, for woman there is also something else; something non-phallic. The nucleus of the symbolic order is the family structure which happens to be culturally organised from the key points of naming, especially the Name of the Father, which Lacan developed in the formulae of sexuation on the masculine side. A woman is defined in the place she occupies in this social, symbolic, structure, for example, by being identified as mother, sister and daughter. If she is neither wife nor mother then a woman is a ‘spinster’. Each time a woman is defined as outside the family function she is ‘fragilized’. For example, she is identified as whore, witch or saint. Motherhood was thought to be the primary function of woman in society. Contemporary society is experiencing a separation between woman and motherhood; there is a difference between motherhood and femininity which is surprising in the master’s discourse but not in psychoanalysis. Gender defines male and female and is related to the social link, the structure of language, and the structure of the family. The Oedipus Complex produces in each subject identification on one side and object choice on the other. The question of the limit of gender is to be found there, which is not necessarily an indication of the jouissance that is at stake. For example, a male says he’s a man – but what do we know about his mode of jouissance or the historic fetishistic construction in relation to his fantasy and jouissance? Feminism was strong in the 1960s and was successful in obtaining equality in society: the question is why at the moment of success did feminism disappear and why now is it a moment where it starts again? The re-appearance of contemporary feminism corresponds to the progress of society: biology changed definitively elements of the discourse of the master about the difference between man and woman. At the level of the real, sex is only cells, no longer a body, image or signifiers. Psychoanalysis looks at that level to account for changes in contemporary society, that is, progress at the level of the real: the real in charge of the symbolic and imaginary. Scientific discourse is going from strength to strength; this can be seen in the area of reproduction, where for example, in ultrasound scans a woman can see her baby in the womb via the Other. The real has effects on the symbolic and imaginary and is becoming more powerful. Gender cannot be taken into account without this dimension of the real. It’s related to a mathematical type of language, it’s not a common language: what organises our structure is common language but what organises our world more and more is mathematical algorithms. Returning to the topic of gender, Marie-Hélène says that the question is to identify what could be determined by ‘gender free’ and asks is fantasy ‘gender free’? Fantasy concerns object a which is the lost object: it’s not material, it is more like a place, an empty place that one can put things into - fantasy is organised around that and is ‘gender free’. Fantasy is a very efficient device because fantasy is not burdened by the limits of reality - jouissance is linked to this as Freud demonstrated in ‘A child is being beaten’ (Freud 1919). Nevertheless, in reality, the subject has to its place here. Lacan tells us that fantasy satisfaction comes from moving from one place to another. Fantasy is ‘gender free’ in the meaning of feminine gender and masculine gender. Fantasy is ‘gender free’ without the heavy process it would entail in reality. Marie-Helene turned to the question of what exactly Lacan means by ‘her own body femininity’, and asks what this mystery is? She elaborated on this by speaking about topology where something is both external and intimate at the same time and uses Lacan’s word extimacy to define this. What is most intimate is alien – that is femininity for woman: Dora ascribed femininity to the Other, in the form of Frau K. Lacan suggests the word extimity as a response to the question of defining what femininity is for a woman. This is similar to the Mobius strip where the same point at different times can be out or in. The feminine side of sexuation is organised in the same way: in order to bar the masculine side, the not-all, one never knows which part is in and which is out. Lacan uses the word ‘incompleteness’ to signify what of the feminine body does not obey to the ‘in’ and the ‘out’, does not submit to the principle of metaphorisation, is not susceptible to functioning under the principle of substitution and tends to escape representation. Marie-Hélène thus concluded the morning part of the seminar by commenting that perhaps the mystery of femininity is taboo and outside metaphoric representation. In the afternoon session (for members), Susan Mc Feely and Florencia F.C. Shanahan presented two clinical cases. On behalf of ICLO-NLS we thank Marie-Hélène for returning to Dublin to be with us, for her enriching transmission and on-going contribution to the work of ICLO-NLS members for which we are very appreciative. Claire Hawkes (ICLO) [1] Lacan, J. (2006). Presentation on Transference. In crits, the first complete edition in English (B. Fink, Trans.), (p.180). New York & London: Norton & Co.
  • Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar with Members of the WAP with Marco Focchi
    The third Seminar of the Lacanian Orientation with Members of the World Association of Psychoanalysis in the series for 2014-2015 entitled “Language and the Body” took place on the 7th of December in St Vincent’s Hospital Fairview in Dublin. In the morning, which was open to the public, Marco Focchi (WAP, AME, former President of the Scuola Lacaniana di Psicoanalisi, Director of the Freudian Institute in Milan) spoke to the title of “What is the Unconscious made of?” He began by emphasizing that language is the condition for the subject of the unconscious. Lacan’s conception of the subject does not relate the latter to consciousness. In saying that the subject is an effect of language Lacan gave a positive definition of the unconscious which indeed qua signifier is negatively articulated. In the 1960’s Lacan developed his notion of the subject of science. By saying that the subject is not just an effect of language but also an effect of science Lacan brought the subject to the level of the universal considering that science the universal of objective knowledge. In other words, Marco suggested here that Lacan problematized science’s orientation towards the universal in its movement of excluding the subject. Freud’s andere schauplatz of the unconscious consisted, at least partially, of representations. What is a representation in the Freudian sense? Marco said that the term representation came from one of Freud’s teachers who had an enormous influence on him, namely, Franz Brentano. However, for Brentano representations are what we are conscious of, whilst Freud argued that conscious representations can be repressed such that they continue to exist in the unconscious. Marco then said that for Lacan we do not need to rely on consciousness to justify the unconscious. Indeed, in fact, the unconscious is the discourse of the Other. Lacan’s notion of the letter, which in the earlier part of Lacan formed the material basis of the signifier, in the 1970’s becomes connected to a writing on the body. The body then became the place where writing is posed. He said that Lacan brought out the erotic function of tattooing. The Lacanian conception of the unconscious around this time in his work is related to the body via writing. Here the body is the other stage for the unconscious and here we see emerge a clearer articulated connection between language and the drive. This already began in Seminar XI in which the drive is a fundamental concept. When Lacan proposes thereafter his notion of the speaking-being implied in this is that the symptom of the subject is ultimately related to the body. Here we leave a clinic of the interpretation of sense. Marco said that the Freudian concept of repetition (a symptom) has to be related back to an origin; a mythical origin is needed (Nirvana). For Lacan this original “effect” is not needed; the lost object is something that was never possessed by the subject. For example, a screen memory does not screen off a real effect or other memory but is a screen of the nothing. Marco said that infancy is like a past that never has been a present and when the story (of the subject) begins it is already too late. That is why we often feel that where we are in life feels as if it is too late; we are always already late. Repetition for Lacan has no origin, no beginning, like it does in Freud. Marco finished by saying that language is not an ergon (a product) but that it is energeic, that is to say, that it always makes itself. In the afternoon members of ICLO-NLS discussed with Marco some clinical material presented by Joanne Conway and Rik Loose. The day formed a major contribution to the formation of the members of ICLO-NLS. ICLO-NLS is grateful for Marco’s enormous generosity. Rik Loose (ICLO-NLS)
  • Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar “A Speaking Body in Analysis” with Anne Lysy
    It was to an audience at full capacity that Anne Lysy spoke about “A Speaking Body in Analysis”. Anne Lysy explained that her presentation was drawn from the theme of the next congress of the WAP, entitled “The Speaking Body - On The Unconscious in the 21st Century” and her own particular questions in respect to what is it that occurs at the end of analysis and the moment of the Pass. Anne Lysy was the first person to present a testimony of the Pass in Dublin in 2011 as an AE (Analyst of the School). The AE is nominated by the School for 3 years to speak and write testifying to their experience. Anne Lysy stated that the three to five years after the Pass is not the same as the moment of concluding an analysis. Each testimony selects certain points to transmit whilst leaving others aside. What, she asks, has been the change? What does one make with what has been discovered or obtained as a product of analysis and how does one put a logic in it? She shared with the participants some of the changes that were effected at the end of her own analysis, and emphasised that not only does one articulate and extract unconscious knowledge via language, but that these effects are also realised in the body. Anne Lysy points to two particular aspects of the body that preoccupy her in the context of psychoanalysis, namely, what is the speaking body and moreover, what is this speaking body at the end of analysis? There is a difficulty inherent in trying to explain what this is from the outside – that is via another’s account of it in a testimony. But the testimonies are nevertheless precious and crucial accounts of the unique inventions that each create and by what means they came to do so. Of particular relevance to her presentation was J.-A. Miller’s paper introducing the theme of the 10th Congress of the WAP, entitled “The Unconscious and the Speaking Body”.[1] What is this speaking body? In Seminar XX Lacan specifies it as a mystery. Miller attempts to find a road into this mystery via Lacan’s later teaching. He states in this paper that “the body shows itself as something that is able to flesh out the locus of the Other of the signifier as a surface of inscription. [..] What is mysterious [...] is what results from the symbolic’s purchase on the body. [...] the mystery is rather that of the union between speech and the body”. [2] Anne Lysy emphasised that Miller stresses the new elements encountered in the later teaching of Lacan – namely the distinctions between the unconscious and the parlêtre, symptom and sinthome, and the “escabeau”. She also referred to Television, and Miller’s remark to Lacan – that the “unconscious” is a strange word. Lacan’s reply at that time was that while it was imperfect, Freud did not find a better one for it.[3] However, some two years later in the Seminar Joyce the sinthome, Lacan changed his mind. Psychoanalysis has to go farther than Freud’s unconscious –and there is a word for it, for this new unconscious– it is a neologism that cannot be translated. Lacan introduces parlêtre as a new word for the unconscious wrought from parle and être. This word shows that psychoanalysis had changed. And this is precisely the point – the speaking subject of Freud’s oeuvre and indeed in Lacan’s early work is not that of Lacan’s late teaching Anne Lysy spoke of the two sides of language and the drive, jouissance and sexuality. All Lacan’s teaching is, she says, an effort to give account to both sides, even if to say it as impossibility. Per Miller, the axiomatic change of Lacan theory is the devaluation of language in favour of lalangue –which is part of the mystery of the speaking body. Language for Lacan, is a construction established by linguists whereas lalangue is an elucubration. Why is lalangue one word? To show that what is at stake is a state of language where the aim is not one of communication – it is before grammar and structure, before the separation between words. Lacan speaks about this in the Geneva conference on the symptom where he refers to the babble of the baby. The child receives language from the outside, he is impregnated by language. Language is spoken around the child by others that leave traces – as though the body of the child itself is touched by language – it is the shock of language on the body. Lalangue demonstrates that in the signifier there are elements of jouissance in the first place – that are not of meaning. There are important shifts in theory in the same period in terms of the unconscious, the subject and the symptom. One of these shifts is that of the signifier as producing jouissance. What Lacan’s late teaching distils is the place of the real – in the opposition between meaning and jouissance. It is a complete inversion of what the signifier once represented for Lacan. Anne Lysy underlined this inversion via two deftly drawn quotes from Lacan; for the classic Lacan “Jouissance is prohibited to him who speaks”[4] whereas for later Lacan “there where it speaks it enjoys”. In this later teaching the signifier no longer mortifies but rather has an effect of jouissance. The first effect of language therefore is one of jouissance, there is no jouissance without a body – but what kind of body? In the preface to the last Écrits Lacan speaks of the end of analysis as a revelation of truth, a revelation of the ‘mendacious truth’. The speaking body is not solely jouissance or not only “telling”. An analyst, Anne Lysy states, “needs your body”. One must go to an analysis with a body. It is not possible via the internet. “The couch, she remarked, “is a kind of bed, making the sexual relation both present and absent. One must bring one’s body, but in lying (on the couch) you cast the body aside, you leave it outside and you keep another kind of body, the waste you cannot get rid of – this poor body parasitized by language”. In closing Anne Lysy referred to the testimonies of the Pass and what they attest to, namely that psychoanalysis must go beyond the construction and crossing of the phantasy – analysis must encounter a zone where there is no construction– where one is ultimately confronted with remainders. These remainders come to isolate something to do with the body – the link between language and the body that continues to exist and eventually disturb – but at a moment they can detach from the suffering part of the symptom once linked to the Other who demanded this suffering. This isolates a mode of jouissance, a mode of enjoyment. What kind of interpretation then is possible in this “zone” beyond meaning? What can touch this body event? To the participant’s surprise Anne Lysy replied that these interpretations can include the body of the analyst herself and for which she gave illuminating examples from her own and other’s testimonies. The parlêtre is, she said, the function of the unconscious as completed by the body and interpretation has to mobilise something of the body invested by the analyst herself via tone, stress, gesture or gaze. The end of analysis therefore can be conceived of as the way to make a border where language touches the body and to do something with it. It is a remainder, but one that is active. Joanne Conway (ICLO) [1] Available in issue 12 of Hurly-Burly. Also Available online at: [2] Op. Cit, p. 125. [3] Lacan, J. Television/A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment (Hollier, Krauss & Michelson, Trans.). New York, Norton, 1990, p. 5. [4] Here the signifier is conceived as emptying the body of jouissance – that “word is the murder of the thing”.
  • Report on Knottings Seminar - January 2022
    IClO’s first in-person meeting in Dublin in almost two years on the 22nd January 2022 coincided with what became known colloquially as ‘Freedom Day’, the day when Covid restrictions were lifted for the first time in two years in Ireland. Freedom may have a certain resonance for psychoanalysis with this Knottings Seminar, Fixation and Repetition, the theme of this years NLS Congress in Lausanne on the 2nd and 3rd July 22. The screen allowed for the presence of Bruno De Halleux (ECF, NLS and WAP), the keynote speaker and Roger Litten (LS-NLS, NLS and WAP). Both Roger and Sheila Power (ICLO-NLS) presented Clinical material in session two of today’s Seminar. Taking Lacan’s Seminar X1,‘The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis’, as his reference point, Bruno wove a tapestry of his own through Fixation and Repetition, a tapestry which was as rich as the word itself implies, where threads are hidden in the completed work and where tapestries are usually designed as single panels or sets. Noting the precious advances by Lacan on the concept of repetition in Seminar X1, Bruno’s design involved five intersections. As a starting point, he spoke to the Transferential unconscious. Lacan first defines this as that which is proper to the effects of the signifiers.[1] This definition is close to the first Lacan. It reduces the subject to the signifying articulation alone, to the Other, to that of meaning. That which belongs to jouissance is missing. In Seminar X1, the Unconscious is transformed. He includes the object of the drive in the unconscious, the pulsional body, the objet a, a function of cause. “There is cause only in something that doesn’t work”. [2] What fails is of the order of the Real. This is the domain of the Real unconscious. This Real unconscious correlates with sexual reality, that is the joint between the unconscious and the field of the drives. This nodal point is called desire. “Desire is situated in dependence on demand-which by being articulated in signifiers, leaves a metonymic remainder that runs under it”.[3] This remainder is the object cause, objet a. In an elaboration of his third coordinate of Fixation and Repetition, Bruno following Lacan, distinguishes transference from repetition. It is not repetition in conduct of a non-occurred remembering. Transference as imaginary on the side of affect, is a non-dialectical stagnation and represents a closure of the unconscious.[4] Whereas in Seminar X1 Lacan writes of Transference as the enactment of the reality of the unconscious, that is an unbearable truth, which is sexual reality. It is this unbearable truth which hinders the opening up of the unconscious, not imaginary phenomena. Repetition cannot be reduced to automaton. The automaton is the network of meanings, this is where the symbolic order is embodied. However a Real lies behind the automaton. This is what Lacan termed tuché, a term he borrowed from Aristotle who uses it in his search for cause. “We have translated it, as an encounter with the Real. The Real is beyond the automaton…..”.[5] Bruno noted that when Lacan introduces repetition as adjoining the Real he brings the concept of trauma. Trauma is linked to the concept of fixation where the Real is not absorbed into the signifying chain. Repetition goes to meet a Real that it misses. On the other hand, Fixierung, according to Freud is a fixation of the impulse, a fixing at a certain point. In Miller’s Seminar series of ‘Being and The One’ of the 30/3/2011 he extracts from Freud this term fixation and connects it with the One of jouissance, the One alone, in the last Lacan, where jouissance is no longer taken up in the dialectic of desire “What a point of fixation means is that there is a One of enjoyment that always comes back to the same place, and it is for this reason that we call it Real”.[6] Bruno concluded his presentation with a clinical vignette in which he elaborated the function of a dream. Lacan teaches us that it is beyond the dream that we have to look for the Real. In this instance it is not the associative link which is deciphered but that of the sound and the letter that is retained, which is beyond sound and meaning and which allows a space for a new signifier to emerge which does not belong to the Other. The clinical material in the afternoon session presented by Roger and Sheila was rich and varied and gave life to the conceptual ideas of the morning’s session. Ros McCarthy [1] Lacan, J., The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Penguin ed p.126 [2] Ibid., p. 22 [3] Ibid., p.154 [4] Ibid., p.132 [5] Ibid., p. 52 [6] Miller. J-A., Being and the One, 30th March 2011
  • Report on ICLO-NLS Opening Event 2022, "The Claims of Psychoanalysis"
    EVENT REPORT “The Claims of Psychoanalysis” held in person in Dublin, 17 September 2022 ICLO Society of the NLS held its Opening Event titled “The Claims of Psychoanalysis,” which drew its inspiration from Freud’s paper The Claims of Psychoanalysis to Scientific Interest. Therein Freud states: “psychoanalysis can also claim to be of interest to others […], since it touches upon various other spheres of knowledge and reveals unexpected relations between them and the pathology of mental life.” For this event we chose to trace the thread of the unconscious within the discourse of art and literature, anthropology and psychoanalysis. As the unconscious speaks more than one dialect, what better way than to engage with other discourses if we are to trace our path around it, always with the question: what is the unconscious? Caroline Heanue, ICLO Chair opened the event by launching ICLO’s Programme of activities and events for the academic year 2022-2023. Closely following the NLS Congress 2023 title “Discontent and Anxiety in the Clinic and in Civilisation,” ICLO’s current work axis “Anxiety as Compass in Discourse” was introduced. She invited the audience to momentarily focus on the signifiers anxiety, compass and discourse, one by one. Concerning anxiety, how to speak of this thing not without an object? Psychoanalysis of the Lacanian Orientation is always oriented by one compass - by the real and not towards it. Referring to discourse, she highlighted that in current discourse, subjectivity often means that individuals increasingly “believe in their identity, leaving little space to acknowledge, never mind consent, to not-knowing” something which echoes the title of the ECF Journées “Je suis ce que je dis” (I am what I say). What are the implications for psychoanalysis “if the subject does not consent to not-knowing who is spoken?” Caroline informed the audience that Daniel Roy, President of the NLS has oriented the work of the School this year towards “School-Making.” This will be the focus of ICLO’s NLS Knottings Seminar in March 2023 and, further, grounds ICLO’s Programme this year within a sort of moebius movement in relation to the question of the School. How to find a “right” way into the work axis “Anxiety as Compass in Discourse,” one which may determine the possibilities for what may be produced thereafter? Perhaps by walking some of the footsteps of Freud and Lacan, and of how they put their extensive and varied personal interests – of anthropology, art and literature, religion, mathematics, linguistics, topology and more – at the service of their true passion of psychoanalysis. Taking what they discovered elsewhere as their own, in order to elucidate, articulate something not fully captured in language. Interpreting their era without conforming to the ideals of contemporary discourse, theirs was a continuous work of articulation and refinement of the logic of the unconscious. It may happen that with this event we are provoked, echoes are produced - or something of one possible approach to the work this year opens up for us. Our guests were Miles Link PhD English Literature, Diana Gouveia PhD Anthropology and ICLO-NLS members Joanne Conway, and Rik Loose who punctuated each presentation with precision. Diana Gouveia opened with a paper titled “The Terms of Exchange & Who Might Take the Spoils - Anthropology in dialogue with Psychoanalysis.” She spoke about social interchange in diverse cultural contexts and reflected on the practice of ethnology as a shared lived experience with the people studied. She compared ethnographic research with the analytic encounter, where being with the other produces the logic of an “anamorphic image.” The inside and outside become interchangeable: “this is both the tragedy of the ethnographer and the people studied, one is always both in the inside and the outside, and it is by virtue of this position that something might be said.” Diana illustrated transactions via a Fijian tale, where the tribal chief deplored that the former currency of “raw women” or “cooked men” had been “spoiled by Christianism.” Rather than being morally dismayed by cannibalism, she invited the audience to ask, “what makes objects […] so special that their payment must be inscribed in the consuming of flesh?” Referring to Marcel Mauss’ reciprocal transactions (transactions that give symbolic value to an object), she underlined that reciprocal exchanges constitute the relationship as meaningful, where the exchange may be an exchange of gifts or of words. In it, a “surplus value” will always remain, and is what confers the object its symbolic quality. Diana cited Lacan in saying that psychoanalysis as a discipline “can only perpetuate itself by remaining at the level of complete experience.” As a consequence, she stressed the necessity of a perpetual dialogue between the myth and its practice, i.e., at a performative level: “ethnographic accounts must consider structure and history because […] what cannot be determined in anticipation is how these events will shape new practices.” She concluded by asking that if psychoanalysis works by punctuating something for the subject, what feast psychoanalysis might be spoiling. Rik Loose provided a punctuation on this text by commenting on the parallels between psychoanalysis and ethnography and its relation to science. He recalled Lacan saying that science began by calculating and measuring the stars in the sky as elements that would always be at the same place, further elucidating by saying that the stars in the sky do not know parapraxes. Of course, what is not written in the stars is the non-rapport of the sexual relationship, the real of psychoanalysis, whose dupe we are. Inspired by Diana’s presentation, Rik said that he found the real in ethnography closer to the real of the erroneous speaking being than the real of science. Referring to the excess, he stressed that Lévi-Strauss had no room for a hole in the structure for the real, hence no room for surplus value. He concluded by pointing out the parallels in Diana’s paper to the Lacanian topology of extimacy. Miles Link spoke to the title “Reading with Freud.” His interest lay in exploring Freud as a writer and reader as well as the limits of texts. He posited that in its aesthetic dimension, there is no difference between Freud’s reading of literature, such as Shakespeare, and Freud’s seminal text “A Child is Being Beaten.” He attributed the effect of an “aesthetic totality” in “A Child is Being Beaten” to “a thought that at no point ever aspires to completeness.” Miles spoke of the subject as text, stressing that writing always creates a split between what is said and what escapes, and that this division has to be remembered in any act of reading. He demonstrated this with a quote from the renowned musician Miles Davis – “don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” He defined sublimation as inscribed within a socio-historic context, which - qua its social existence - can transform the subject. He concluded by contrasting the pre-modern experience of aesthetics with the contemporary anaesthetic experience. Rik Loose pointed out that “the singularity of the artist can only be (de)monstrated”. He compared the singularity of the artist and the analysand, specifying that this singularity can be transmitted in a psychoanalytic discourse, so that it does not become mortifying. He stressed that via the demonstration of this art object, the artist’s singularity can enter public discourse where its traces can cause effects. Both modern art as well as Lacanian psychoanalysis bring singularity to the fore, where what is of interest is less the decorative and beautiful aspects but rather the holes. He referred to the quoted example of Miles Davis to emphasise that Miles Davis’ music touches upon the letter, that which is relevant to the sinthome, thereby to something singular and real. Joanne Conway’s paper was titled “Of Gods and Monsters”. She cited from Freud’s paper “The Moses of Michelangelo:” “I may say at once that I am no connoisseur in art, but simply a layman… Nevertheless, works of art do exercise a powerful effect on me.” She explained that the juxtaposition between “connoisseur” and “powerful effect” resonated for her, that there is a difference between what Freud says about art and what he experiences. Referring to Freud’s collection of objects, (“I must always have an object to love,”) she recalled Freud’s extensive collection of antiquities, which began in 1896, the year of his father’s death. Joanne explained that with Freud’s growing experience in the practice and theory of psychoanalysis, he understood himself also as an analyst of art, of literature and civilisation. She proposed that Freud could not free himself from the powerful effect of art, and wanted to understand why he was so moved by it. Captured specifically by Michelangelo’s Moses, so much so that he repeatedly travelled to Rome to study the sculpture, to measure and to draw it. She pointed out that Freud’s paper on Michelangelo was published anonymously and that Freud only dared to claim ownership years later. Freud’s repeated encounters with Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses culminated in Freud submitting himself to the sculpture’s gaze. It was a gaze that he experienced as scornful, as split between being both spectator as well as an object to be looked at. Rik Loose agreed that Freud is being interpreted by Moses. He saw this as the reason why Michelangelo’s Moses had a powerful, uncanny and anxiety-provoking effect on Freud. He reminded the audience that all presentations showed that art is “the outsider-inside.” He suggested perceiving Freud’s response to Michelangelo’s Moses as a reaction to the fact “that there is a hole in language, a stain, if you wish, that gazes at you.” He specified that this referred to a notion of art that is not beautiful art, mirroring our own bodies. Rather, as he explained, art can act as a “stain that trespasses us as outsider, that intrudes into the beautiful shape.” Eva-Sophie Reinhofer October 2022
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