Lacan and Girard: sex and non-violence

This paper brings together the work of Jacques Lacan, the great Christianizer of psychoanalysis, and René Girard, the speculative anthropologist whose study of sacrifice and myth led not only to his rejection of Freud and Lacan but a dramatic conversion to Catholicism and growing conviction as to the revelatory power of the Gospels to expose the myth upon which psychoanalysis is built. Despite their antipathy I bring a psychoanalytic perspective to bear on Girard’s theory, interrogating the modalities of sacrifice according Lacan’s three registers of the psyche: the imaginary, symbolic, and real. I then explore Girard’s distinction between myth and Gospel in light of Lacan’s claim regarding the impossibility of the sexual relation. I argue that the difference between sacrifice in the register of the symbolic, and sacrifice in the register of the real not only restages the impossibility of the sexual relation, it conforms to Girard’s distinction between myth and Gospel. In this way I pave the way for a more mutual reading of their enterprises, and theology and psychoanalysis more generally.

Violence and Discourse

Using Lacan’s notion of capitalist discourse, the author provides support for the comprehension of actual discontent in our civilisation, for the “new symptoms” and for new forms of violence. Capitalist discourse substitutes the normative function of the law with the ideology of liberty. But the liberated man is isolated and his freedom is deceptive: he is increasingly dependant on the consumption of objects that provide him with a plus-de-jouir. A purely capitalist discourse is nothing but an ultraliberal utopia and its crises can only provoke the return of the master discourse, or worse, of the totalitarian discourse. Psychoanalytic discourse is considered as an alternative, albeit that it requires passage via the hysterical discourse.

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