Lectures on Lacan
Lectures on Lacan Podcast
Often Overlooked Essays in Écrits: "On the Subject Who is Finally in Question," Part 1

Often Overlooked Essays in Écrits: "On the Subject Who is Finally in Question," Part 1

For years, my go-to essay in Écrits was “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis.” I studied it, taught it, and even structured part of The Chattering Mind atop it. And don’t get me wrong: I still think this essay is fire. If ever there was a manifesto of Lacan’s return to Freud, “The Function and the Field” is it. But whenever I’ve flipped to this iconic essay in Écrits, I’ve often flitted past another fiery piece in the collection: “On the Subject Who is Finally in Question.” So this week, it’s all about latter!

The first few minutes of this episode focus on mirages of completeness in common assumptions about pre-Oedipal life and clinical confusions about the end of analysis, suggesting that both fantasies of completeness are just that — fantasies. Then comes a classic but often misconstrued theme in Lacanian thought: the unconscious truth that psychoanalysis finds vs. the representational knowledge that philosophy seeks. Key phrase here: philosophy as truth’s detour into knowledge. Which brings this episode to another important theme: signs with referents vs. signifiers with . . . other signifiers. At stake in this versus is a properly Lacanian approach to language — not as a correspondent network of signs but, instead, as a differential system of signifiers. To illustrate this, we end in a series of velvet shirts — some soaked in blood, others ready for purchase, and all significantly repulsive.

Stay tuned for more “On the Subject Who is Finally in Question” later this week!