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Summary: This essay aims to revisit and reframe the question that Freud saw as the starting point of Moses and Monotheism, a question posed to Arnold Zweig in 1934: “how [have] the Jews … come to be what they are[?]” While diverging from Freud in many ways, the essay ventures a new answer in the context in which he sought his own: not just the enduring mystery of “the origin of monotheism among the Jews” (the ostensible subject of Freud’s study) but more particularly how that origin and the historical path emanating from it can only be grasped through the lens provided by psychoanalytically- informed inquiry. That said, even as the essay’s central argument is premised on reaffirming the notion that a cultural trauma stands at the origin of Jewish monotheism, it rejects Freud’s specific claim that the traumatic event was the murder of Moses. Thus, although it retains Freud’s foundational position that Judaic-monotheistic faith must be understood not simply in terms of a body of doctrines and practices but more fundamentally in terms of powerful unconscious elements, it explicitly shifts away from the idea that made it conceptually possible for Freud to complete and publish Moses and Monotheism – Ernst Sellin’s reconstruction of a biblical tradition that Moses had been murdered sometime during the period of the people’s wandering in the desert after their exodus from Egypt. In so challenging the very premise of Freud’s psychoanalytically- grounded argument about the origins of Jewish monotheism, the essay also attempts to realign his concept of an originary cultural trauma with something other than his historically unsubstantiated reconstructions of the Mosaic-Exodus period. In short, the essay aims to show that the originary trauma has a verifiable time and place in documented Jewish history: the Babylonian Exile. Just as important, this time and place (and their aftermath) are directly related to how monotheism has come to be understood in Judaism and beyond, a tradition that is inextricably linked to the final emergence of Torah sometime in the mid- to late-fifth century BCE.


Summary: The first section of this paper traces, in brief, a conceptual evolution of psychoanalysis from its Freudian foundation in 19th century empirical science to Lacan’s reformulation of psychoanalytic method, based in part on mid-20th century structural linguistics, as one that is not, strictly speaking, scientific. Throughout this movement, the therapeutic aim and the medium of speech remain at the center of psychoanalytic praxis. The author, therefore, explores the questions: what is speech and what is at stake for human subjects in speaking? In part two, parallels are drawn between four (ana)logical pairings of conceptual moments in Freudo-Lacanian and Hegelian theory in order to elucidate dynamic and topological intricacies in each. The Oedipus complex is described as a dialectical unfolding, wherein Hegelian and Freudian theorizing and Lacanian mythmaking are, similarly, creative retorts to contradiction and ambivalence. These subjective responses effect the Aufhebung or Verdrängung (in neurosis) of the conflictual impasse, and institute a vehicle for the transgenerational transmission of Kultur—what Hegel called Geist and Freud rendered Unbewusst.

Lacan’s analytic goal: Le sinthome or the feminine way

This article focuses both on Lacan’s elaborations of the etiology of symptoms and the related question of the end of analysis. Starting in the 70’s, Lacan concentrates on a further elaboration concerning Freud’s notion of the fixation of the partial drives as the “causa” of symptoms and the end of analysis. In doing so, he supplements his earlier concept of the object a, that formalizes the four partial objects, with the notions of the “letter” and the “sinthome”. The end of the analysis and the definite disappearance of symptoms are situated by Lacan in the relation of the analysand with respect to his object. This relation is singular, hence only possible if it is no longer encumbered by the Other. After all, the sinthome is a knotting of the real, the symbolic and the imaginary that, following the example of Joyce, – operates entirely without the Other.

Silently self evident: on memory and fantasy

The author argues that there is a self evident relation between memory and fantasy. In the first part of the paper some fantasies about memory are brought to the fore. Also several factors that play a part in the availability of memories are discussed. Special consideration is given to conscious and unconscious repression. The second part concerns the inseparable interrelation of memory and fantasy, at which point the author explains the statement that every act of memory is also an act of imagination. Finally the vicissitudes of certain fantasies and their significance for implicit relational patterns are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the possible transition of a fantasy from the explicit to the implicit memory system.

On bilingualism and the language of the unconscious

In psychoanalysis, as the talking cure, language asserts itself pre-eminently as the mode of treatment. Formations of the unconscious, like symptoms, dreams and slips of the tongue, can be interpreted on the basis of their underlying linguistic structure. Bilingual analysands, however, possess more than one language code by means of which they can put such manifestations of the unconscious into words.. This raises the question of how the ‘language of the unconscious’ finds its expression through the discourse of the bilingual subject. Starting with Freud’s conceptualisation of the psyche based on word- and thing-representations, the author examines the status of the mother tongue and a second, later-learned language in the bilingual analysand‘s communication, on the basis of the following questions: (i) Are there any differences in transference, depending on the language in which the analysand expresses himself?; (ii) To what extent are the mother tongue and a language learned later in life interrelated and what does this tell us about verbal processes like repression?; (iii) What value should be attached to the initial choice of language and the language switch, if any, in relation to the process of transference?; and (iv) What conclusions can be drawn with regard to the required language competency of the psychoanalyst conducting an analysis in more than one language?