To begin with...

Jacques-Alain Miller's Perversion

The Uses of FantasyERIC LAURENT

The Weight of WordsYASMINE GRASSER


Psychoanalysis and LiteratureGERMÁN GARCÍA


Interview with

Interview with


To begin with...


Josefina Ayerza

By a window overlooking Baltimore in the not-quite-daylight, while preparing a "little talk" for Johns Hopkins, Jacques Lacan notices haunting constructions, heavy traffic, a neon light flashing... In everything he sees — except in the trees — he traces the results of thoughts, active thoughts, "where the function played by the subjects is not obvious. In any case the so-called Dasein, as a definition of the subject, was there in this intermittent or fading spectator. The best image to sum up the unconscious is Baltimore in the early morning."1

The neon that flashes over Baltimore, offering less than full light, nevertheless silhouetting things, may characterize the circumstance of a subject thrown into fitful disclosure — now equivocal, now lapsing, now witty, now a slip of the tongue. In Position of the Unconscious,2 Lacan defines an effective priority of the signifier, which plays against the subject and wins the game. A flash of wit surprises the subject the way the neon light over Baltimore illuminates Lacan — his onlooking figure barely apparent, already fading, before it was even spoken.
This rendering of the subject proceeds from nowhere other than the game itself: a signifier in conjunction with another signifier follows not in the sign but in a subject. Thus, we behold the dual structure of dreams, lapses, puns, flashes of wit, in the origin of the subject's division from itself — the child and his/her image in the mirror.
This subject — eventually the subject of the unconscious — is a retroactive effect of the act of speech called upon to determine it. What is an act of speech? Speech, we may say, a word free from the censorship of the ego, is directed to an Other. "Speech seeks a response of the Other. What constitutes me as subject is my question."
Who is the Other? The Other being a place
4 rather than a who — it definitely fits Baltimore that morning. Lacan says the Other is where the speaker and the listener go, and in this sense language may evoke rather than inform, as we share the notion of Baltimore without fully perceiving the thoughts that created it. The Other always responds even if its response is heavy traffic or the proverbial silence of an analyst.
Why do we assume it's a response? The Other is not whole. Lacan puts a bar across the Other creating the sign , meaning that the Other has a hole, a lack. Then, in relating to the subject, the Other is the one who desires. "Che vuoi ?" — which Stuart Schneiderman translates as "what does the Other want of me?"
5 — is the question that relates the subject to Otherness, the question through which the subject may assume this desire which is outside of himself as his own. And the question again will still frame peculiarity, make it into a fantasm — the window overlooking Baltimore — a way of coordinating this Other's desire, the way of concealing its gap.
At the closing moment of analysis we reach the point where we may see through the fantasm. The desire that we shall "not give way" as Lacan claims, is not the desire supported by the fantasm, but rather the desire of the Other beyond it.

...And now, why would I want to publish a Lacanian journal in the U.S.? — Jacques Lacan conceived his theories in French — not much of his work has been translated into English — Jacques Lacan's work in the U.S. has only been accepted in the fields of Literature, Theory and Art Criticism.

Some Years ago I saw a book "Jacques Lacan: The Death of an Intellectual Hero"6 by Stuart Schneiderman. I read it; I called him; I wanted an appointment. His answer — are you asking for a session? I said no; he insisted — what is this appointment about? — are we going to socialize? ...I admit that he intimidated me right away. Nevertheless, in this interview that wasn't a session I was able to inquire about my studies and about him.
He isn't a psychologist, or a doctor; I liked that. He underwent an analysis with Lacan. He refers to Lacan as his mentor. Bits and pieces of information — the analysand doesn't have to know about the analyst. But where was I to study? Some small groups kept gathering and ingathering... but participating in this early development could prove fruitful, but... but... and but.
The "buts" continued into my analysis. Why this need to be in the U.S. begging for knowledge? Not only did he not answer my questions but often he would end the session as well. How to seduce this man into listening to me?... I tried so hard! Irony was no use... Tears to no avail... Intelligence either... Transference was overpowering... too much... too soon: in less than two minutes I hated him as much as I loved him. What was left but to attack him? ...but how? I pointed at his computer wrapped in plastic — it looks like a corpse, I said; he made a sudden gesture, he clapped his hands — very good! And so the cut. It was over. I stood up and grumbled — I'm so unsatisfied! Days later his eyes were turning into glass, his arms and legs hanging flaccid from the chair. Was I going to please him, telling him that the corpse was himself? I heard myself saying — Stop it! This, one of his favorite performances, was going to come back on more than one occasion. But the limit was when I learned that he was conducting a seminar at Columbia University... without letting me know! The scene couldn't wait: I was going to leave my analysis, and go to study in Paris. Finally, the man was reacting!... He claimed to act on behalf of the analysis... its safekeeping... He said that I didn't accept the timing of its process... that I was breaking a contract! and he gesticulated his displeasure to such a point that I had to laugh. — This one, the 'last' session — was lasting over an hour, and I was going to take the liberty of ending it. This time he didn't laugh... although, confronted with the fait accompli, he threatened me with 'perhaps' not wanting to see me again.
I left; had I won? Just in case, I had to look around. Schneiderman's books had been published in French, in Spanish. His articles were all over the place. Was my analyst known that widely? Was I not his only patient?... The hysteric asks for knowledge, I heard one day. This question I carried with me.
Six months later I called Schneiderman on the phone. This time I wanted a session. — How long will it take you to come, he asked. I said an hour. — Come then in an hour. Next thing he invited me to his seminar at Barnard College. Someone raised a hand — "Do you consider all women to be hysterical?" — "I have not yet met an obsessional one."
A long journey had begun, and from there on one goes on and on. What you know is that there is an end, a very definite end, and at this point you are an analyst.


1. Jacques Lacan,
"Of Structure as an Inmixing of an Otherness Prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever." The Structuralist Controversy, Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins Press, 1970. back up
2. Lacan, Écrits, Paris: Seuil, 1966.
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3. Lacan, "Function and Field of Speech and Language." Écrits, A Selection, New York and London: Norton & Co., 1977.
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4. Place: "from the place of the Other," translated by Jacques Lacan in "Of Structure as an Inmixing..." p. 186.
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5. Stuart Schneiderman, Returning to Freud, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980.
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6. Stuart Schneiderman, The Death of an Intellectual Hero, Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1988.
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Illustrations on this page: Luis Felipe N "One Passion...", 1982

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