News – November 2013
NLS Congress in Athens in May, which welcomed over 400 attendees, a ‘Conversation’ was organised on the future of the Schools of the Freudian Field. Ahead of this, a document entitled Etat des lieux (‘State of Play’) was circulated and at the end of November a transcript of the ensuing Conversation was released to the wider Lacanian community under the title The Future of the NLS.
At present, it is only available in French (it’s 34-pages long so a translation will likely follow in time), but it is worth making a few remarks on it by way of a summary as it says a lot about how leading Lacanians see the Lacanian community.
In his opening comments, NLS President Dominique Holvoet writes that the purpose of the document is to question what it is that holds the NLS together, what is it that provides its consistency, in spite of its heteroclite nature. Holvoet suggests that this is a “veritable bet on the real”: the School is not just a working group, but a “community of symptoms”. The ‘Conversation’, he goes on, “is an invitation to start to read these symptoms which constitute our community, which constitute the NLS”.
In his comments that follow, Jacques-Alain Miller states that he believes the question of what the NLS is, and what each group is, to be settled; but that nonetheless, we should see two futures: that of the NLS as such and that of each of its groups. Whilst the NLS has existed for 10 years, the groups that compose it are sometimes older. The ideas that the NLS explores need not be general or generally-held ideas, and indeed these are often the worst. But elsewhere in the document he gives some examples of interventions from other Lacanians that present questions which he considers to be of interest as possible avenues for advancement: is the NLS characterised by the same clinical conversations as the wider Freudian field? Is there a difference between ‘applied’ psychoanalysis of the clinic and ‘pure’ psychoanalysis of becoming a psychoanalyst? Should the NLS be a School, and if so, what institutional structure should it have?
A number of potentially problematic areas are then raised. That dialogue and discussion within the NLS does not often result in action is a recurrent theme. That the NLS does not attract to its congresses people external to the NLS is another. As a response to the latter, it is suggested that a space for activities that are neither ‘in’ nor ‘out’ of the NLS, that display their openness and the fact that one can participate without being a part of the NLS, should be considered.
Questions around other themes pertinent outside the NLS such as autism, classification, criminality, links to the state and the justice system and so forth were also then raised. Inevitably, the question of the resistance to psychoanalysis in certain institutions came up, and Penny Georgiou of the London Society of the NLS made the good point that Lacan situated resistance always on the side of the analyst. Naturally, some local difficulties were discussed concerning the status of particular groups at national level. In more practical terms, the format of the Congresses, with quite long presentations given by members, was also questioned both from the angle of encouraging thinking and that of attracting newcomers. A suggestion to combat this perceived problem was to centre such texts and presentations more closely on a single topic, or make them even shorter, as is the case at many scientific conferences.
The text of the discussion will hopefully be circulated in English very shortly. Meanwhile, preparation for the next New Lacanian School (NLS) Congress in Ghent, Belgium in May 2014 continues in the Lacanian community. The theme, as previously reported, is ‘What cannot be said: desire, fantasy, real’ (more information and how to register is here). ‘Knottings’ seminars are being held by the different national affiliates of the NLS, with Athens and Geneva already holding theirs in September. Write-ups of those, and Knottings seminars on previous topics, can be read here. Next year, the schedule will continue in London, Bruges and Tel Aviv taking their turns to explore the topic in anticipation of the Congress. Twelve cartels have also been registered which are focused on the topic of the Congress (a full list is here).
One of the more interesting publications of recent years which offered a new perspective on Lacan’s work was a collected edition from 2010 in which a number of organisational and management studies scholars look at the applicability of Lacan’s work to their own field. Lacan and Organisation is nowadays hard to find on Amazon or other online stockists but what appears to be a full version online has now been uploaded to the site of its publisher, Mayfly Books. If the topic piques your interest, take a look at this video from the recent ‘Re-working Lacan at work’ conference in Paris earlier this year, referenced in last month’s news update.
The organisation Latigo which promotes research in the Lacanian field across the Atlantic (from South America to Europe) published an English-language version of the first volume of its new journal, Latigazo, last month. It included a translation of the first part of Jacques-Alain Miller’s presentation on Seminar VI, a French edition of which was released a few months ago under his editorship – http://www.latigolacaniano.com/ingles.html. Keep an eye out for future issues which will include the second and final parts of this presentation, as well as a translation of Eric Laurent’s ‘After the DSM’ from a conference organised by the Franco-Argentinean Association of Psychiarty, ‘Who’s afraid of the DSM-V?’, a video of which you can find here.
The podcast of former Lacan translator John Forrester’s talk at the Freud Museum on Freud’s connections with the Bloomsbury set is now up on their site. His talk looks at the role played by the early British Freudians circulating in the literary world of Bloomsbury, London. These figures included James Strachey (translator of Freud into English for the Standard Edition, and who, as Forrester notes, had a homosexual relationship with the doomed Everest mountineer, George Mallory, a fact which is not referenced in the latter’s biography); Stratchey’s wife, Alix; and Virginia Woolf’s sister-in-law, Karin Stephen.
Here’s a great post which went up last month about what 30 years of much-vaunted neuroimaging research has been able to tell us about mental disorders (hint: not a great deal). This matters because ahead of the publication of the DSM-V this year a Task Force was established to try to identify mental disorders according to biological markers. This aspiration was however abandoned when it became clear that techniques of neuroimaging were failing to find any. This hasn’t stopped the National Institute for Mental Health in the US attempting to do so instead with the Research Domain Criteria project (RDoC). Meanwhile, there are many distinguished academics in the field that attempt to point out the folly in this venture.
A Call for Papers for an upcoming conference in Nottingham, UK, in September 2014 under the heading ‘The Subject of Addiction: Culture and Clinic’. Some Lacanians may recognise this title as also belonging to Rik Loose’s 2002 book (which, it should also be noted, has a marvelously apt subtitle). Loose has agreed to be keynote speaker at the event.
Ivan Ruiz’s film Other Voices will receive a UK screening on Saturday 14th December in London. It was previously shown in France and Belgium before being translated into English and premiered in Dublin a few months ago. An English-language trailer can be found here. More details on the screening are here.
The seventh edition of Lacanian Compass’s newsletter, LC Express, was released in November. Its focus is a paper by Jorge Assef, ‘The Zombie Epidemic’, looking at the ‘hypermodern’ zombie and its ‘non-body’. Two commentaries on the paper follow. Visit the group’s site http://lacaniancompass.com/ for more on its activities.
The latest volume of the Journal of Psycho-social Studies, published in November, has an interview with the founders of the group Psychoanalysis and Politics group, Lene Auestad and Jonathan Davidoff. Check out the group’s site or their page on Facebook.
Lastly, some sadder news. The death of Sibylle Lacan – the second daughter from Lacan and his first wife, Marie Louise Blondin’s marriage – was announced at the start of November. As well as being an English, Spanish and Russian translator, Sibylle Lacan published her own short book about her father, Un Père, in 1994. An obituary in Le Monde (in French) is here.
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