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.

Lacanian Sublimation and Verticality

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 [1929]). 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 [1927]), did with Gothic verticality.

Mè Funai : like father, like daughter? Tragic footnotes to the mythic desire of death.

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.