Alienation is a pivotal concept in critical theory, going back to Rousseau, Hegel and Marx. In his theory on the becoming of the subject, Lacan gave the concept an even more radical and original meaning (there is no original essence whatsoever) and doubled it with a second process: separation. The central argument of this paper is that separation is a key concept for understanding how we can handle our contemporary alienation induced by neoliberalism.
“We have a situation here!” The implication of this phrase is that we have a bad situation. This essay discusses the often quoted but rarely studied, Lacan’s “The Situation of Psychoanalysis and the Training of Psychoanalysts in 1956”. Over six decades later, his dense and playful text is still relevant to the situation of psychoanalysis and psychoanalysts. It concerns the survival of psychoanalysis and the ethics of the practice, denouncing the pitfalls of psychoanalytic training while offering a scathing appraisal of the state of psychoanalysis.
Lacan’s text, “Guiding Remarks for a Congress on Female Sexuality” (1958), is an important text in exploring Lacan’s conceptualisation of female sexuality in the fifties. The text however goes much further than this and discusses castration and the phallic function as well as Freud’s three lines of feminine development: normative femininity, frigidity and female homosexuality. The richness and complexity of the text presents the sexuality of women as a vast field that has been misapprehended by the psychoanalytic establishment. Lacan indicates that women are not reducible to the phallic equivalency to men and in fact this misunderstanding has significantly undermined and devalued the analysis of women. With the aid of a clinical vignette, this paper explores two of the three lines of female development, normative femininity and frigidity, in light of Lacan’s substantial elaborations in the text.
It is well known that Lacan was interested in topology, especially in the 1960s. Yet for all the work he did with topology in his Seminar, it is curious that he never produced a writing dedicated solely to the topic. This paper tries to imagine what an “écrit” on topology by Lacan might have looked like, and what its main points might have been, based on what Lacan says in his Seminar. It then considers why such an écrit was never produced. The answer involves Lacan’s shifting views on psychoanalysis and its relationship to the history of science.
This essay is intended as a scholarly contribution to the construction of a detailed biography of Lacan’s 1966 Écrits, which is conceived here as a living entity whose influence continues to radiate around the world, within as well as outside psychoanalytic circles. Documenting and re-evaluating the historical circumstances presiding over the book’s gestation, birth and coming of age, the essay first argues that, despite the multiplicity inscribed in its title, Lacan’s volume constitutes an integrated unity rather than a mere collection of disparate papers written over a period of thirty-odd years, albeit a unity that is fundamentally incomplete. Subsequent to this, it is proposed that Lacan’s choice of title (Écrits, writings) occasioned the crystallisation of his own theory of the letter, writing and (knowledge) transmission. Even though this theory was already contained in statu nascendi in two of the papers collected in Écrits, it was only through a process of deferred action that Lacan came to appreciate its significance. Aligning writing with the object a, as cause of desire, Lacan’s theory both underpinned his opposition to Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction of logocentrism (and his concurrent promotion of writing as a primordial trace), and informed his own protracted consideration of the transmission of psychoanalytic knowledge during the 1970s via a series of (mathematical and topological) writings.