WORKSHOP ON LACAN’S L’ÉTOURDIT

Lacan’s notoriously difficult, perhaps unreadable, late text L’Étourdit was a condensed answer to some of the questions that haunt the publication of the Écrits, including the problem of Lacan’s fame and its role in establishing his school. In this paper, Lacan seems to want to reestablish the place of the dire, the saying, as if it has slipped away from psychoanalysis— this saying being that which remains forgotten behind what is said in what is heard. While he says this appears as an assertion, it is in fact modal, or existential, something that a patient testifies to. Psychoanalysis, like logic or mathematics, is constantly renewed by taking its subject from this elusive ‘saying’ rather than from any here-and-now reality, any said, including whatever Lacan said.

The pursuit of this, he seems to promise, will bring us face to face with the impossible, which, for Lacan, is a necessity not only for psychoanalytic practice but the institution of psychoanalysis itself:

“If I had recourse this year to the first, namely, to set theory, it was to refer to it the marvelous efflorescence which by isolating the incomplete from the inconsistent in logic, the indemonstrable from the refutable, and even adding to it the undecidable, by not managing to exclude itself from demonstrability, puts us face to face with the impossible so that there could be ejected the ‘that’s not it’ which the wail of an appeal to the real” (Lacan 2009, p. 40).

The incomplete, the inconsistent, and the undecidable— something Lacan also likens to scraps, lability, and joy in L’Étourdit— are what the analytic discourse brings to light in searching for this saying. Lacan renders these figures in several turns, including condensed and fascinating presentations of his topological structures— the torus, the Klein bottle, and the disappearing point.

He distinguishes this structural logic from what he calls ‘the wail of an appeal to the real,’ namely something about the fascination of the hysteric with the impossible— her ‘that’s not it.’ This torsion of the analyst away from the hysteric’s abjection is important in this work because, for Lacan, her abjection is implicated in whatever has failed in the psychoanalytic institution, and the failure to retain the saying of Freud from which every analyst must take their formation— something he says that “would have held them.” As for the failure of so-called Lacanians: Lacan, towards the very end of this paper, retorts, “I am neither consoled nor desolated by it.”

During a day long workshop with Marcus Coelen, Patricia Gherovici, Jamieson Webster, Fernando Castrillón, Benjamin Davidson and Raul Moncayo we will read this text closely in order to ask questions about the resistance or irresistibility of Lacan’s text, the place and function of topology in it, as well as its ‘style’ or ‘aesthetics.’ We will concern ourselves with how clinical questions can be derived from L´Étourdit, including a series of clinical vignettes. Finally, we will orient ourselves towards questions surrounding the institution, transmission, and conditions for psychoanalytic theory.

Date: Saturday, March 25, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM-4:00 PM
Location: California Institute for Integral Studies, 1453 Mission St., San Francisco
Fee: $40