Formations of the Unconscious, Lacan’s Seminar V, is out in English. This is a seminar that gives us a Lacan at a uniquely productive moment of his teaching. It is a beautiful, richly detailed seminar in which we encounter the Lacan of the instance of the letter, of the question prior to any possible treatment of psychosis, the Lacan of the phallus and its “signification”, and the Lacan of the direction of the treatment. When I read this seminar I “hear” Lacan – read it out loud and you will hear him too – speaking of the sadness of Gide, this “ci-Gide”, this André the undertaker; of the outrageously marvellous Balcony of Jean Genet; and of the finesse of Molière whose École des femmes prompts Lacan to declare that we are all cuckolded by the signifier. Witticisms as the face of the Freudian unconscious, the phallus as the signifier of desire, and one of the finest clinical discussions of obsessional neurosis anywhere in Lacan – these are the three grand themes by which Lacan reaches the limits of his ground-breaking thesis that the unconscious has the structure of language.
The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book V, Formations of the Unconscious, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Russell Grigg, Polity Books, Cambridge, will be available in the UK 9 May, 30 June in the USA.
New Lacanian School
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