My discourse proceeds in the following way: each term is sustained only in its topological relation with the others.

Jacques Lacan | Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis

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LX:55 | Sublimation

Note that no correct evaluation of sublimation in art is possible if we overlook the fact that all artistic production, including especially that of the fine arts, is historically situated. You don't paint in Picasso's time as you painted in Velazquez's; you don't write a novel in 1930 as you did in Stendhal's time. This is an absolutely essential fact that does not for the time being need to be located under the rubric of the collectivity or the individual - let's place it under the rubric of culture. What does society find there that is so satisfying? That's the question we need to answer.

The problem of sublimation is there, of sublimation insofar as it creates a certain number of forms, among which art is not alone - and we will concentrate on one art in particular, literary art, which is so close to the domain of ethics. It is after all as a function of the problem of ethics that we have to judge sublimation; it creates socially recognized values. (107)


Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-1960.  Trans. Dennis Porter.  Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller.  W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1992. 

See Also

Lexicon Entries

A Fundamental Quality of an Act; Introduction to the Thing; Of Beyond the Pleasure Principle; The Shamans and Sorcerers. The Psychoanalysts. The Artists.; White

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