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:19 | Act

It is curious enough that neither Freud, nor any of his epigones, ever attempted to remember what is nevertheless within the grasp of everybody concerning the act - let us say, human act, if you like, since to our knowledge there is no other act but the human one. Why is an act not mere behaviour? Let us concentrate, for example, on an act that is unambiguous, the act of cutting open one’s belly in certain conditions - incidentally, it’s not called hara-kiri, but seppuku. Why do people do that? Because they think it annoys others, because, in the structure, it is an act that is done in honour of something. But wait. Let us not be precipitate until we know, and let us take note of this, that an act, a true act, always has an element of structure, by the fact of concerning a real that is not self-evidently caught up in it. (50)


Source

Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis .  Trans. Alan Sheridan.  Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller.  W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1998.


See Also

Lexicon Entries

Situated Freedom
This Permanent Dissonance
Apologia
A Fundamental Quality of an Act 

Works and Days

It's Hard To Say

Documents

 


Notes

 


LX:2 | The Place I Have Come To

In the beginning, there was not the origin. There was the place.

There are perhaps two or three people here who have some idea about this same old story of mine. Place is a term I often use, because there are often references to place in the field that my discourses - or my discourse, if you prefer - deal with. If you want to know where you are in that field, it is advisable to have what other and more self-assured domains call a topology, and to have some idea of how the support on which what is at stake is inscribed was constructed.

I certainly will not get that far this evening because I absolutely refuse to give you my teaching in the form of a little pill. 'Place' means something very different here from what it means in topology, in the sense of structure, where it is just a question of knowing whether a surface is a sphere or a ring, because what can be done with it is not at all the same. But that is not what this is about. 'Place' can have a very different meaning. It simply means the place I have come to, and which puts me in a position to teach, given that there is such a thing as teaching.

Well, that place has to be inscribed in the register of what is our common fate. You occupy the place where an act pushes you, just like that, from the right or the left, any old way. It so happens that circumstances where such that, truth to tell, I really did not think it was my destiny, and ... well ... I just had to grab hold of the thread.

It all revolves around the fact that the function of the psychoanalyst is not self-evident, that, when it comes to giving him his status, his habits, his reference, and even his place in the world, nothing is obvious, nothing is self-evident at all.

There are the places I talked about first: topological places, places that have to do with essence, and then there is your place in the world. You usually get to that place by pushing and shoving. In short, it leaves you some hope. No matter how many of you there are, you will always end up in a certain place, with a bit of luck. It goes no further than that.  (4-5)


Source

Lacan, Jacques. My Teaching.  Trans. David Macey.  Verso 2008. 


See Also

Lexicon Entries

Hupomnēmata
The Red Ink
White

Works and Days

It's Hard To Say

Documents

 


Notes

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LX:20 | Socratic Midwifery

But my art of midwifery, though it has in other respects the same conditions as theirs, differs in these points, that I attend men, not women, and that I inspect the labour of their souls, not of their bodies. The most important skill in our art is, the being able to test in every way whether the sound man’s mind is bringing forth an idol and an unreality, or a genuine and true progeny. For to me as well as to the midwives belongs the following condition. I am incapable of producing wisdom, and the reproach which many ere now have cast on me, that, while I question others, I myself give no answer about anything, because I have no wisdom in me, is a just reproach. The reason of it is this: the god compels me to act the midwife, but hindered me from engendering. I then am not indeed perfectly wise myself, nor have I brought to birth any discovery of that kind, as the outcome of my own soul. But of those who resort to me, some indeed appear in the outset utterly ignorant, but all, as the intercourse proceeds, and the god gives opportunity, make wonderful progress, in their own opinion and in that of others.  And it is evident that they do so not by any learning they have gained from me, but because they have of themselves discovered many excellent things, which they retain. (113-4)


Source

Plato. Theaetetus.  Trans. Benjamin Hall Kennedy.  Cambridge University Press 1881. 


See Also

Lexicon Entries

Reflective Understanding
Fertility of the Didactic Action
The Red Ink
A Fundamental Quality of an Act
The Trap of Life and Experience 

Works and Days

 

Documents

  pdf The Socratic Method: What it is and how to use it in the Classroom (22 KB)  


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LX:21 | This Permanent Dissonance

There is no act, no particular experience which exactly fills my consciousness and imprisons my freedom, ‘there is no thought which abolishes the power to think and brings it to a conclusion— no definite position of the bolt that finally closes the lock. No, there is no thought which is a resolution born of its own very development and, as it were, the final chord of this permanent dissonance.’ No particular thought reaches through to the core of our thought in general, nor is any thought conceivable without another possible thought as a witness to it. And this is no imperfection from which we may imagine consciousness freed. If there must be consciousness, if something must appear to someone, it is necessary that behind all our particular thoughts there should lie a retreat of not-being, a Self. I must avoid equating myself with a series of ‘consciousnesses’, for each of these, with its load of sedimentary history and sensible implications, must present itself to a perpetual absentee. Our situation, then, is as follows: in order to know that we think, it is necessary in the first place that we actually should think. Yet this commitment does not dispel all doubts, for my thoughts do not deprive me of my power to question; a word or an idea, considered as events in my history, have meaning for me only if I take up this meaning from within. I know that I think through such and such particular thoughts that I have, and I know that I have these thoughts because I carry them forward, that is, because I know that I think in general. (465-6)


Source

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception.  Trans. Colin Smith.  Routledge 2005. 


See Also

Lexicon Entries

Act; The Lesson Reduction Teaches; La Mort; The Red Ink; A Fundamental Quality of an Act; Get Off the BusTraining of the Self By Oneself

Works and Days

 

Documents

 


Notes

 


LX:22 | Quest for the Invariant

Probably there is something deep in my own mind, which makes it likely that I always was what is now being called a structuralist. My mother told me that, when I was about two years old and still unable to read, of course, I claimed that actually I was able to read. And when I was asked why, I said that when I looked at the signboards on shops - for instance, boulanger (baker) or boucher (butcher) - I was able to read something because what was obviously similar, from a graphic point of view, in the writing could not mean anything other than ‘bou,’ the same first syllable of boucher and boulanger. Probably there is nothing more than that in the structuralist approach; it is the quest for the invariant, or for the invariant elements among superficial differences.

Throughout my life, this search was probably a predominant interest of mine. When I was a child, for a while my main interest was geology. The problem in geology is also to try to understand what is invariant in the tremendous diversity of landscapes, that is, to be able to reduce a landscape to a finite number of geological layers and of geological operations. Later as an adolescent, I spent a great part of my leisure time drawing costumes and sets for opera. The problem there is exactly the same - to try to express in one language, that is, the language of graphic arts and painting, something which also exists in music and in the libretto; that is, to try to reach the invariant property of a very complex set of codes (the musical code, the literary code, the artistic code). The problem is to find what is common to all of them. It’s a problem, one might say, of translation, of translating what is expressed in one language - or one code, if you prefer, but language is sufficient - into expression in a different language. (8-9)


Source

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Myth and Meaning: Cracking the Code of Culture.  Schocken Books, 1995. 


See Also

Lexicon Entries

The Red Ink
A Fundamental Quality of an Act
Training of the Self By Oneself

Works and Days

It's Hard To Say

Documents

 


Notes

 


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