Lacan Seminar

14 Pages
Unlock Document

Comparative Literature and Culture
Comparative Literature and Culture 2125A/B

XV The jouissanceof transgression THE BARRIER TO JOUISSANCE THE RESPECT OF THE IMAGE OF THE OTHER SADE, HIS FANTASM AND HIS DOCTRINE METIPSEMUS FRAGMENTED AND INDESTRUCTIBLE I announced that I would talk about Sade. It is not without some vexation that I take up the subject today because of the break for the vacation, which will be a long one. I would like at least during this lecture to clear up the misunderstanding that might occur because we are dealing with Sade, and it might be thought that that constitutes a wholly external way of looking upon ourselves as pioneers or militants embracing a radical position. Such a view implies that, as a result of our function or profession, we are destined to embrace extremes, so to speak, and that Sade in this respect is our progenitor or precursor, who sup- posedly opened up some impasse, aberration or aporia, in that domain of ethics we have chosen to explore thisyear, and that we would be well-advised to follow him. It is very important to clear up that misunderstanding, which is related to a number of others I am struggling against in order to make some progress here before you. The domain that we are exploring this year isn't interesting for us only in a purely external sense. I would even say that up to a certain point this field may involve a certain degree of boredom, even for such a faithful authence as you, and it's not to be neglected - it has its own significance. Naturally, since I am speaking to you, I try to interest you; that's part of the deal. But that mode of communication which binds us together isn't necessarily calcu- lated to avoid something that the art ofthe teacher normally proscribes. When I compare two authences, if I managed to interest the one in Brussels, so much the better, but it isn't at all in the same way that you here are interested in my teaching. If I adopt for a moment the point of view of what one finds in the situation, not so much of the young analyst, as of the analyst beginning his practice - and it's such a humanly sensitive and valid position - I would say that it is conceivable that what I am attempting to articulate under the title of the 191 192 The ethics of psychoanalysis ethics of psychoanalysis comes up against the domain of what might be called analysis's pastoral letter. Even then I am ascribing to what I am aiming at its noble name, its eternal name. A less flattering name would be the one invented by one of the most unpleasant aumors of our time, "intellectual comfort." The question of "How does one proceed?" may, in effect, lead to impatience and even disappoint- ment, when one is faced with the need to approach things at a level, that, it seems, is not that of our technique on the basis of which a great many things are to be resolved - or such at least is the promise. A great many things perhaps, but not everything. And we shouldn't necessarily rum our eyes away from those things that our technique warns us constitute an impasse or even a gap, even if all the consequences of our action are in question. As for this young person who is beginning his practice as an analyst, I would call what is involved here his skeleton; it will give his action a verte- brate solidarity, or the opposite of that movement toward a thousand forms which is always on the point of collapsing in on itself and of becoming caught up in a circle - something that a certain number of recent explorations give the image of. It is, therefore, not a bad idea to expose the fact that something may degen- erate from the expectation of assurance - which is doubtless of some use in the exercise of one's profession - into a form of sentimental assurance. It is as a result of this that those subjects whom I take to be at a crossroads in their existence turn into prisoners of aninfatuation that is the source of both an inner disappointment and a secret demand. And if we are to make any progress, this is what the perspective of the ethical ends of psychoanalysis, whose significance I am trying to demonstrate here, has to combat. It is something one encounters sooner rather than later. 1 Our path dius far has led us to a point that I will call the paradox ojfouissance. The paradox of jouissance introduces its problematic into that dialectic of happiness which we analysts have perhaps rashily set out to explore. We have grasped the paradox in more than one detail as somediing that emerges rou- tinely in our experience. But in order to lead you to it and relate it to the thread of our discussion, I have chosen this time the path of the enigma of its relation to the Law. And this is something that is marked by the strange- ness of the way the existence of thisLaw appears to us, as founded on the Other as I have long taught you. In this we have to follow Freud; not the individual with his atheistic profession of faith, but the Freud who was the first to acknowledge the value and relevance of a myth that constituted for us an answer to a certain fact Thejouusanceof transgression 193 that was formulated for no particular reason, but that has wide currency and is fully articulated in the consciousness of our time - though it went unno- ticed by the finest minds and even more so by the masses - I mean the fact we call the death of God. That's the problematic with which we begin. It is there the sign appears that I presented to you in my graph in the form of S (O). Situated as you know in the upper left section, it signifies the final response to the guarantee asked of the Other concerning the meaning of mat Law articulated in the depths of the unconscious. If there is nothing more than a lack, the Other is wanting, and the signifier is that of his death. It is as a function of this position, which is itself dependent on the paradox of the Law, that the paradox of jouissance emerges. This I will now try to explain. We should note that only Christianity, through the drama of the passion, gives a full content to the naturalness of the truth we have called the death of God. Indeed, with a naturalness beside which the approaches to it repre- sented by the bloody combats of the glathators pale. Christianity, in effect, offers a drama that literally incarnates that death of God. It is also Christian- ity that associates that death with what happened to the Law; namely, that without destroying that Law, we are told, but in substituting itself for it, in summarizing it, and raising it up in the very movement that abolishes it - thus offering the first weighty historical example of the German notion of Aufhebung, i.e., the conservation of something destroyed at a different level - the only commandment is henceforth "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The whole thing is articulated as such in the Gospel, and it is there that we will continue on our way. The two notions, the death of God and the love of one's neighbor, are historically linked; and one cannot overlook that fact unless one attributes to everything that occurred in history in the Judeo- Christian tradition as constitutionally just a matter of chance. I am aware of the fact that the message of the believers is that there is a resurrection in the afterlife, but that's simply a promise. That's the space through which we have to make our way. It is thus appropriate if we stop in this pass, in this narrow passage where Freud himself stops and retreats in understandable horror. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," is a com- mandment that seems inhuman to him. Everything he finds objectional is summed up in this phrase. As the examples he cites confirm, it is in the name of the most legitimate on all levels that he stops and rightly acknowledges, when he reflects on the com- mandment's meaning, the extent to which the historical spectacle of a humanity that chose it as its ideal is quite unconvincing, when that ideal is measured against actual accomplishments.
More Less

Related notes for Comparative Literature and Culture 2125A/B

Log In


Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.