Terror, Negation, and Writing, Blanchot’s Reading of Sade

In the middle of the last century, numerous French thinkers were interested in the literary works of D.A.F. de Sade, among them Lacan and Blanchot. Blanchot saw Sade as the ideal writer and this author argues that Blanchot’s assertion was based on a conceptualisation of Sade’s literature as revealing both the materiality and the autonomy of language. According to Blanchot, Sade’s language balances on a border: between the things to which language refers on the one hand, and the content that is normally expressed by language on the other. It is further argued that this balancing act is also reflected in the regime of Terror in France, and the universe described by the Marquis in his writings.

Frege and Lacan: A Transcendental Line of Thought

This paper analyses the idea that Frege and Lacan can be connected through a transcendental line of thought. From this viewpoint Frege’s development of modern formal logic is considered as a moment in modernity that shows that the challenge of formalization or mathematization is in fact a challenge of identification of both subject and object. Lacan’s thinking is in accord with this endeavour, but it articulates more explicitly and symbolically the connection between formalization and identification. A crucial point in our argument is that a transcendental viewpoint is not necessarily incompatible with a lacanian viewpoint, to the extent, namely, that attention is paid to the idea that subject and object are first and foremost of the order of writing or the symbolic.

Care and Repetition: About good, truth and writing

This article deals with the formidable challenge of repetition for therapeutic or educational care. Two forms of repetition are differentiated: one driven by the Oedipal life drive, the other by the death drive. Through a close reading of the classic myth of Oedipus Rex, the encounter of these forms of repetition is demonstrated. This myth also offers three main perspectives from which this work may be grasped: good, truth and writing. Originating in a project for abandoned children in a school for special education (De Sassepoort), the possible benefits of assisting children through writing is supported.

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Working and the Death Drive: On Literature and Children with Behavior Disorder

With reference to Mannoni (1979), it is argued that the clinical practitioner must, based on his own experience, continuously “retranslate” his theoretical language into his mother tongue. As an example, this paper focusses on how the author retranslates the Freudian notion of the death drive and Lacan’s category of the real, based on his educational and therapeutic work with children with behavior disorder. It is argued that these theoretical conceptions cover something that is not there but that nevertheless is operative. What is one to do when confronted with something that is not there but nevertheless is operative? The answer proposed is that one has to inscribe the subject in the sexual relation through the act of writing. This directive is illustrated via clinical work with children suffering from a psychically “silent” mother and is argued through a revisiting of the work of Fernando Pessoa.

Approaching the Impossible

Working with psychic suffering one is often confronted with feelings of impotence. Yet this is not a necessary consequence of the impossibility proper to the professions of educating, analysing or governing. Throughout the essays of Imre Kertész, the impossibility – or the unthinkable – is conceived of as proper to the relation between experience and language. A specific example is encountered in what is called the negative experience. Speaking and writing are treated as two distinct possibilities in the encounter with the impossible.