This paper looks at how the concepts of repetition and temporality were being conceptualised at the early stage of Lacan’s work in terms of his interest in cybernetics, and explores how repetition and temporality were being brought together within the overarching framework presented in the postface to the seminar on The Purloined Letter. Consideration is given to how Lacan theorises the automatic, autonomous nature of unconscious contents, their timeless indestructible character, and the distinction between conscious and unconscious memory. Adding to this Freud’s concept of Nachträglichkeit, the author looks at the difficulties in conceptualising a psychoanalytic notion of time within the context of repetition compulsion.
To speak of fleeing presupposes an active choice: the subject driven by a survival instinct to make strategic use of its defence mechanisms. But what of the case where flight is une carte forcée driven by real danger forcing the subject faced with death to choose life? An already fragile refugee, the author argues, then faces a poor reception by Western society upon arrival. The pressure uncertain legal status can shatter the identity of a refugee waiting to receive permanent recognition. The external threat which forced the subject to flee his/her own country can be magnified by the threats to which he is exposed on arrival. On a phenomenological level, the effect of the fragmentation of the immigrant’s identity is similar clinically in symptoms to a trauma patient. A clinical illustration of a psychotherapy with a Chechen patient supports this hypothesis. In this context psychotherapy concerns making connections between inside and outside, between the inner and outer world, between one’s own country and Western society. The objective is to safeguard the existence of the subject: in reality as well as in a fantasmatic construction.
This paper explores how the influence of cybernetics within structuralism contributed to Lacan’s theory of the signifier as (functioning within a) structure. By examining his Freudian exploration within the broader scheme of American and French thought, the author extrapolates the link between these two theoretical paradigms and the implications that this had for his work. It is argued that in contrast to the apparent ease with which the structuralist paradigm was incorporated into Lacan’s theory, the surprise of his Seminar attendees when presented with cybernetics in 1954 was not altogether warranted. By exploring the close interaction between Jakobson and Lévi-Strauss during the 1940s, the author shows that the structuralist paradigm was already quite heavily invested by cybernetics. In commenting on two slightly different translations of an intervention that Lacan makes during the Bonneval Colloquium with Jean Hyppolite, the author pinpoints a likely turning point within Lacan’s work, within the context of his thesis on the temporality of the signifier and its relationship to the Freudian notion of repetition.
The theme of this paper is the filmic representation of psychoanalysis in Hitchcock’s 1945 blockbuster Spellbound. This movie has been received with mixed feelings by psychoanalysts as portraying the psychoanalytic cure in an idealised and simplified way. This matches the cineaste view that Spellbound is “just another manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis” (Truffaut, 1985). In contrast, the author argues that Hitchcock’s filmic translation of Freud’s conception of the timelessness of the unconscious is adequate. More specific, it is argued that the visual representation of the Freudian ideas of i) the dream as via regia to the “other scene”; ii) the etiological development of traumatic neurosis (“Nachträglichkeit”) and iii) the association of past and present via the signifier “kill”, are pertinent. In addition, special attention is paid to the function of the returning visual motif of the parallel lines.