The Seminar as a soap opera
What in the end is real?
I have spoken about the life of Lacan. To entertain you, I will now talk about Lacan’s work. Life and work—the binary is well known. In fact, does Lacan’s work really exist? If there is a word that is absent, a word he never utters or writes, a word he never attached to his work, it is the word “oeuvre.” Rather, he was always careful to present to the public des hors d’oeuvres, indefinitely heralding the main course and intending to whet the appetite for the future. Lacan never proposed a menu except in the form of a series‚ that of his Séminaire. See for example the popular American television series, every year the same characters start off on new adventures—well, Lacan’s Séminaire is a soap opera!
Lacan never spoke of “my work,” he never stated “my theory,” he used to say “my teaching.” He did not want to be an author but only an educator (un enseignant), and as the term is overused, let’s say that he employed for himself the word “teacher.” This nevertheless does not mean that his Master Work is only oral. What distinguishes an author from a teacher? It is first that the author has readers while the teacher has students, the former speaks potentially for all, the latter speaks for a few—which evokes the “happy few” from Shakespeare to Stendhal. Those few who formed the address of Lacan—a constant address beyond the crossroads that renewed his audience—were psychoanalysts. Lacan chose to limit his address to psychoanalysts, and precisely to those who came to listen to him, got around and brought their bodies as in a session of psychoanalysis.