Monday, January 24, 2011

Jacques Lacan, My Teaching

Bruce Fink, Lacanian Technique in “The Direction of the Treatment”
In the first chapter of Lacan to the Letter: Reading Ecrits Closely, Bruce fink tries to shed light on Lacan’s technical writing by laying out Lacan’s thesis of the ego as imagery and his warnings against misinterpreting transference and countertransference

Jacques Lacan, My Teaching

My Teaching is a collection of three lectures (Place, Origin and End of My Teaching, It’s Nature and Its End, So, you will Have Heard Lacan) that sketch Lacan’s theory of subjectivity which finds its essence in the Freudian discovery of the operations of the unconscious and the structure of language.

“So when I talk about a hole in truth, it is not, naturally, a crude metaphor“ (My Teaching, 22)

This sentence is the beginning of a short paragraph comprised of three sentences that conclude Lacan’s analysis of the place of sexuality in psychoanalysis. The sentence begins with the coordinating conjunction “so” which connects Lacan’s observation on the previous page that “sexuality makes a whole in the truth” with his qualification of that metaphor. The clause “so when I talk about a hole in truth” seems to be independent, but it is dependent on the previous paragraph as it sums up Lacan’s strategy of dislocating and relocating sexuality in psychoanalysis. The coordinator “so” does not only enable Lacan to reposition his statement about sexuality as “a hole in the truth,” but it also produces the effect of a whiff. The latter enables Lacan to determine with authority the role and place of sexuality in psychoanalytic theory. Though Lacan has already told the reader “the hole in truth is the domain where no one (…) knows what to do about what is true” (21) he insists that “a whole in truth” is not any metaphor. Therefore, the sentence implies the key concept of being able to talk about the metaphor, “a hole in truth”/sexuality in a symbolic/metaphoric way. As a result, in Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory, sexuality is an element in the structure of language that might be a word or part of a word that refers to a network of other elements (or words) within it. As an element of language, sexuality, and “a hole in truth” constitute the microscopic glass through which psychoanalysis deciphers and interprets the truth about the subject as it is produced in language.

At different moments in Place, Origin and End of My Teaching, Lacan juxtaposes language with truth. While discussing the origin of his teaching, he states: “It is because there is language there is truth (…) truth begins to be established only once language exists” (29). Lacan has observed that he task of a psychoanalyst becomes not so much to get his patients to lie on the couch and reveal their secrets, which to a greater or lesser extent, the analyst will seek to divine, but rather to allow them to produce signifying material (truth) through speaking freely. This procedure will reveal a meaning or signification that might be surprising, new or alien to them. Lacan’s theory avoids the performative contradiction that the content of his theory conflicts with the position of the subject of theory because it takes the signifier as the starting point that generates meaning, and therefore it reverses the relation between the signifier and the signified. What constitutes the person and its identity can now be read as a text, and the author is not the subject, but the trajectory of the signifiers that represent the desire of those who occupy the place of the Other for the subject.

1 comment:

  1. What if the "hole in truth" aligns sexuality with language? Is sexuality a hole in language? I ask this based on your observation (one worth following up more rigorously) that Lacan juxtaposes "language" and "truth". I'd caution against the view that psychoanalysis reveals a truth about one's sexuality--this is not what Lacan means. He's positing that truth is derivative of or an effect of language, but he does so in order to move us away from a depth metaphor (revealing something inside) or depth phenomenology (a subject with psychical interiority). If it's not a crude metaphor, is it a refined metaphor? why "crude"? if not a metaphor, then some other figure of speech? And why do you shift from "hole" (as Lacan writes it) to "whole"? what are you trying to say?