News – September 2022
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Beginning with the latest books, Reading Architecture with Freud and Lacan: Shadowing the Public Realm by Lorens Holm is an intriguing work newly-released by Routledge. Modern and post-modern architects are engaged from a Lacanian perspective for the purposes of “putting the unconscious in a dialectic relation to space.” Starting from our attachment to places, Holm develops a critique of contemporary approaches to architecture, highlighting the environmental damage done by what he argues is an inability to recognise the death drive. “The text is an extended thesis”, Holm writes, “that the field of the Other is the common grammar that organises subjects into civilisations, which has consequences for how we treat the public realm in architecture, politics, and the city.”
Rob Weatherill’s Lacan in the End Times: In the Name of the Absent Father has also just been published by Routledge. Theorising psychoanalytically the role and function of the father in contemporary society, Weatherill notes the effect of its absence in “the ferocity of the internal object and exposure to the Real.” A wide-ranging commentary on the paternal function, his book crosses the ethics of Levinas and the Gnostic assertion of an evil world with the death drive in the contemporary Lacanian clinic.
Gisèle Chaboudez’s What Can We Know About Sex? will be published in late October by Routledge. Instead of starting with a reassertion of the importance of sexuality in psychical causality, Chamboudez uses Lacan’s work to explore the biological factors that determine sexuality. In this sense, she follows Freud’s conclusion of a biological bedrock as the point on which sexuality is founded, but questions the forms of jouissance that have emerged in contemporary society. Chaboudez trained with Lacan until his death in 1981, and is now a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Paris.
Movement, Velocity, and Rhythm from a Psychoanalytic Perspective is a new collection out at the end of October, edited by Jessica Datema and Angie Voela. It examines how rituals of the body – varied in speed and rhythm – produce effects on the experience of subjectivity more widely. Rather than focus solely on the clinical, this collection combines psychoanalysis with art, philosophy, and popular culture to consider the place of ritualistic, embodied alternatives to the frenetic pace of modern life.
Due out next month is Freud/Lynch: Behind the Curtain, edited by Jamie Ruers and Stefan Marianski. Drawn from a major Freud Museum London conference, Freud/Lynch goes against the dubious cliché of finding Freudian solutions to Lynchian mysteries. Rather than presuming to fill in what Lynch leaves open by positing some forbidden psychosexual reality lurking behind his trademark red curtains, this book instead maintains a fidelity to the mysteries of his wonderful and strange filmic worlds, finding in them productive spaces where thought and imagination can be set to work. The book features Lacanian contributions from Olga Cox Cameron, Tamara Dellutri, Todd McGowan, Carol Owens and Jamie Ruers.
Due to be released before the end of November is Robert Samuels’ (Mis)Understanding Freud with Lacan, Zizek, and Neuroscience, part of the Palgrave Lacan Series. Returning to five core Freudian concepts – the pleasure principle, the primary processes, the unconscious, transference, and the reality principle – Samuels looks at how the paradigms of the post-Freudian world have informed neurospsychoanalysis, Lacan, Zizek and object relations. He argues for the relevance of Freud’s unpublished ‘Project for Scientific Psychology’ from 1895 in offering a vital challenge to the brain sciences, and a return to what has been distorted in Freud’s original system.
Looking ahead, several titles newly-announced in the past month are now available to pre-order. At the start of next year Slovenian philosopher and Lacanian theorist Alenka Zupančič’s Let Them Rot: Antigone’s Parallax promises to examine the themes of violence, funerary rites, and defiance in Sophocles’ play. Gabriel Renggli will release his study of Joyce in Joyce as Theory: Hermeneutic Ethics in Derrida, Lacan, and Finnegans Wake in February next year, arguing for how the Irish writer can be read as a theorist in his own right. And James Penney’s Genet, Lacan and the Ontology of Incompletion will bring the novelist and psychoanalyst into dialogue around their shared interest in the fragility of being and the enigmatic nature of representation.
Turning to new event announcements, a two-day seminar devoted to a close reading of Lacan’s ‘Science and Truth’ will take place between 12-13 January 2023 at the University of Gent, Belgium. Led by Prof Ed Pluth, it will focus on two questions: firstly, who, or what, is the subject of science? And secondly, what is the function of Lacan’s critique of humanism and the human sciences in this essay? Full details, including how to register, are available here.
The Lacanian Learning Collective is a newly-formed group in South Africa open to anyone who wishes to systematically engage with Lacanian and Freudian Psychoanalytic concepts. It has issued an invitation to a learning cartel based on Lacan’s Seminar II, which will meet weekly for 1 hour for approximately 24 weeks. More details in the flyer linked to above, and you can read more about the Lacan Learning Collective here.
The École de la Cause Freudienne (ECF) will host its 52nd Study Days of the ECF in Paris between 19-20 November under the title ‘I AM what I SAY: Contemporary Denials of the Unconscious.’ Two explanatory Arguments, by Éric Zuliani and Anaëlle Lebovits-Quenehen respectively, give context and rationale for this choice of title. Beginning with Jacques-Alain Miller’s claim that today the Cartesian cogito’s “I think, therefore I am” has been replaced by “I say, therefore I am”, the Study Days seeks to interrogate whether it suffices to say what one is to be what one says. In so doing, the topic trenches on the ground of so-called ‘identity politics’, an area which has preoccupied many Lacanians – especially in France – recently. Are proclamations of one’s identity an act of liberating self-determination, or “new forms of the autonomous ego”, as Zuliani argues? His claim – developing Miller’s – is that the subject of the unconscious is being negated in such assertions. This results – as Zuliani goes on to argue – in a “self-determination is substituted for interlocution, from which the mainspring of speech is increasingly absent…. The Other is reduced to listening and brought back to the level of the counterpart [semblable], hence relational choices based on the criterion of the same.” As Lacan had put it in ‘The Instance of the Letter’, “The point is not to know whether I speak of myself in a way that conforms to what I am, but rather to know whether, when I speak of myself, I am the same as the self of whom I speak.”
The NLS Congress 2023, which will take place in Paris in May next year, will be on the theme ‘Discontent & Anxiety in the Clinic and in Civilisation.’ The presentation of the theme, given by NLS President Daniel Roy is now on YouTube (with English subtitles – click the subtitle box below the video).
The London Society of the NLS has announced a seminar series on ‘Delusions’ which will run during the 2022-2023 academic year, starting in December, and will work towards the 2024 WAP Congress and its theme ‘Everyone is mad.’ The London Workshop of the Freudian Field, under the direction of Jacques-Alain Miller, will begin its programme on 17 December, and the workshops will take place in-person in London or via Zoom for those only able to join remotely. See this flyer for more details.
From last month’s events, Darian Leader’s talk ‘What is sex?’ is now available on YouTube, courtesy of Derek Hook and his excellent YouTube channel. This was the first in a series of pre-conference talks ahead of the Lacan: Clinic and Culture Conference which took place in Pittsburgh earlier this month. Leader’s talk explores questions of sexual practice, and how these are shaped by childhood interests and anxieties. After the early work of second wave feminist thought challenged many popular psychoanalytic dogmas, have we made much progress today in thinking about sexuality, apart from endlessly repeating a few cliches and fetishising some loopy mathemes?
Finally, the ECF has launched Miller TV on YouTube, dedicated to videos of the presentations given by Jacques-Alain Miller. A total of 66 videos have been collected so far, with a handful currently uploaded at time of writing. Among them is Miller’s presentation of his new publication, ‘How Analyses Happen’ (subtitles in English). Watch the announcement of the channel’s launch by ECF President Eric Zuliani (with English subtitles) here. Pascale Fari, Director of Miller TV, also discusses the project with Laurent Dupont who himself runs Lacan Web Television on YouTube. The ECF’s other YouTube project, Studio Lacan, continues to produce interviews with psychoanalysts and contributors about issues in contemporary society more widely.
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