This is a study of the relationship between sublimation and verticality in architecture – specifically Gothic architecture – and in psychoanalysis – more precisely, the Lacanian formula that sublimation “raises an object to the dignity of the Thing” (Lacan, 1986 [1959-1960]: 133). We begin the analysis of this relationship from Freud’s assertion in Civilization and Its Discontents that the “verticality” of man (“die Aufrichtung des Menschen“) is “the beginning of the inevitable process of civilization” (Freud, 1930a ). We will then study the logic of dissatisfaction, as a producer of the big push towards the Top, whilst demonstrating that the circle established between the building of civilization and the operation of sublimation is not just a beneficial, but also a dissolute, circle. This circle shows the link between sublimation and the death drive (Freud, 1923b), thus implying the danger of the operation (Lacan, 1994 [1956-1957]; Lacan, 1986 [1959-1960]). We will also try to show that Freud’s thesis about verticality is related to sublimation, working to change the order of the drive whilst making it higher, “höheres Ziel” (Freud, 1908a). The “höheres Ziel” of Freudian psychoanalysis is connected to the “quanto altius” of architecture, the latter having been pioneered by Suger, abbot of Saint-Denis. We will conclude our study by showing what post-Freudians did with the verticality of Freudian sublimation, and what the art historian Worringer (1967 ), did with Gothic verticality.
Human sexuality manifests itself in the unfolding of an opposition between universal procreation and individual enjoyment. In this opposition the author detects the knotting of two drives in an apparent juxtaposition: Eros and death drive. On the basis of the three tragedies of the Theban cycle of Sophocles, he investigates how the (un)knotting of this drive culminates in a (death)desire in its purest form. The themes that follow (subjective death wish, blinding ignorance, unconscious transgression of the Law, lethal enjoyment, impossible femininity, impotent masculinity, unbreakable blood ties,…) are linked to the management of this desire within the ethics of contemporary psychoanalysis, more specifically with regards to the end of the cure. From the impasse that comes with this end, the author traces the shift in answers to the questions regarding the end of analysis in the work of Jacques Lacan, from subjective death in the cure, through the traversing of the phantasm, to the last approach to the passe and the creation of the sinthome. In these times of the pluralisation of the Names-of-the-Father he demonstrates how the tragedy in Greek Antiquity still delivers us a solid mythical foothold, now that the object a is climbing into the zenith.