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.

Kant with Sade, Sade with Kant

During the 60s, at a time when many leading philosophers were showing an interest in Sade, the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan also wrote an essay on the literary works of the libertine aristocrat D.A.F. de Sade, often called “The Divine Marquis”. That essay, entitled “Kant avec Sade”, is regularly cited but rarely discussed in any depth by philosophers and psychoanalysts, partly as a result of Lacan’s baroque style of writing, his sloppy formulations, and his suggestive language. However, in spite of this, Lacan’s text is worthwhile reading. The central idea is that Sade’s oeuvre reveals the truth of Kant’s moral philosophy. In his article, the author shows that this remarkable thesis can be understood in at least two ways. Moreover, it is also argued that Lacan’s thesis can be read in a reverse direction, although Lacan himself never says that explicitly. It will be shown in the third section that according to Lacan, Kant is the truth of Sade.

Contemporary Subjectivity: A Psychoanalytical Analysis of Postmodernity and its Symptoms

In this article the author explores the possibility of a structural link between several cultural changes in contemporary society, better known as the very idea of a postmodern culture, and a significant change in clinical practice. Since the crisis of 1968, which was in essence a revolt against paternal authority, and since Lyotard wrote his La condition postmoderne (Lyotard, 1979) it is incontestable that western culture has been marked by a structural shift. As post-political, liberal subjects we are perceived as being free, detached from the obstacles of our primal identifications with our parents, country or socio-economic class. Nowadays, we are free-floating subjects in a decentralised universe trying to transgress the symbolic law and to achieve the ultimate object of desire. But it is quite paradoxical that this extreme liberalism finds its counterpart in both the explosive violence of the real and the massive pressure of the imaginary order. The main aim of this article is a psychoanalytical exploration of a possible structural connection between those two orders.

Deleuze reads Sade and Sacher-Masoch

Many psychoanalysts argue that clinicians have a lot to learn from literature. They share the deep-rooted conviction that artists are sensitive to clinical phenomena and that they make visible what is often overlooked by clinicians. Freud, for example, relies on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Half a century later, the assumption of Freud’s literary clinic has been taken up by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze in his study Présentation de Sacher-Masoch. Deleuze reads Sade’s and Sacher-Masoch’s literary novels from the same perspective as Freud. Sade and Sacher-Masoch, Deleuze argues, are first of all great symptomatologists. Their novels explore the sadistic and masochistic universe thoroughly. In his essay, the author discusses Deleuze’s reading of Sade and Sacher-Masoch. Deleuze argues that his study, whilst sharing Freud’s basic assumptions, is a critique of his conception of sadism and masochism.