Report on the Knottings Seminar of the NLS, KRING voorPsychoanalyse, Bruges

des Sociétés et Groupes de la NLS
Activities of the
Societies and Groups of the NLS

Report on The KNOTTINGS Seminar

Organised by ‘de KRING voor Psychoanalyse van de NLS’



Bruges, 13th of
December 2014




“In Flanders Fields …” is the title of a work of art by
Berlinde De Bruycker (one of Belgium’s most renowned contemporary artists) of
which a picture was put on the poster of the yearly Knots-seminar in Bruges,
last year in December. Not only the title refers to a war scene. The horses
that De Bruycker constructed make us almost forget that what we are looking at
are actually statues, spread over the floor in awkward, frozen poses, lying
down or put upon a shaky support. Those big dead horses could refer to the
horror, the suffering and death that every war drags along.


Not only
the subjective crisis was highlighted during this seminar. Thanks to the
lecture of Geert
Hoornaert (Kring-NLS)
a veil was
lifted from a particular social and collective form of crisis: war. The lecture
given by Florencia
F.C. Shanahan (ICLO-NLS, NLS EC)
as well as
the three case studies, presented by Bart Duron (Kring-NLS), Joanne Conway (ICLO-NLS) and Galia Weinstein (GIEP-NLS) focused on the
subjective aspects of crisis that possibly lead somebody to go see a



In Flanders fields …


As a title
for his conference Geert Hoornaert chose the same one Berlinde De Bruycker used
for her work of art. Starting with a look at the WW I, the last of the classic
ones and the first to become a modern war, Hoornaert underlined the specific
influence of science and technique on the concept of war. It was
pointed out that ‘classic’ war was won or lost after the body-to-body battles
were fought under a flag that referred to a clear-cut nation and army. Both
armies suffered losses and these – according to the logic of castration – were
bent into a new symbolical pact in which the laws of the winning party
restrained the previously fighting forces. With the technique to come the
soldier as well as the conclusion of war, together with the battlefield, became
more fluid and unclear. Fire and steel replaced the formerly important bravery
and courage. The soldier became a working man executing the task of making the
machine work. Hoornaert showed us how war
equalled work from now on.


This new,
modern way of fighting a war – it was Freud who wrote this in his prophetic
writing on the subject in 1915 – would lead us to ‘a legacy of embitterment’.
The bayonet didn’t defeat the enemy any more, it was technique that from now on
stabbed the enemy in the back. The technical ‘total war’ that was brought about
by the Germans in the forties was described by Hoornaert as the consequence of “the foreclosure of the symbolical
limitations of war”
. The unresolved resentment would bring about WW II, which
ended due to Hiroshima but then again the Cold War witnessed of this legacy
Freud was writing about. If final chords were brought about by technique
symbolic pacts seemed more difficult to be constructed. The so called ‘peace
processes’ and tense diplomatic affairs tried to respond to the lack of a
certain ending.


raised the question what, after all, did drive the technological approach to
killing? Freud pointed out that a certain relationship to death must have been
one of the causes. This relationship to death was described as the consequence
of an approach to life in which death was excluded from the calculations. Which
resembles a symptom of modernity: the difficult relationship to castration and
one of its possible consequences, namely life losing its interest. This remark
lead in the discussion to the hot topic of young men leaving for Syria. What
could be the motivations for this? Hoornaert referred to the particular
enjoyment fighting a war brings about, more then to the ideological, religious
background against which this war is being fought. Also Freud in his writings
on war pointed out that life without a certain risk – or better: without a
perspective on death – was doomed to end up in dullness. Hoornaert stated that
IS promises something stronger then enjoying Coca-Cola.



Moments of crisis and
function of the analyst


In her
introduction to the Knots Seminar Florencia
F. C. Shanahan
worked through the question what Lacanian psychoanalysis
specifically offers when confronted with a subject that goes through crisis. Let
us quote her central hypothesis:
“The idea that the analyst is a
friend of the crisis leads us to consider that perhaps there is something of a
homologous structure between a moment of crisis and the function we call
properly analytic”.


reminded us of another quote: never let a
good crisis go to waste!
Embrace the crisis? The crisis as a chance?
Shanahan brought in some nuances to make clear that it’s not the analyst’s job
to wildly provoke crises but that part of his job is to use crisis in a way
that the analysis can continue, that the real at stake could get the treatment
it deserves. When faced with crisis “something of the psychoanalyst” should be
capable to produce a response to shortcut the path that would lead the subject
to acting-out or passage-à-l’acte.


referred to the structure of Lacanian interpretation that is oriented by the
real. We could say that the real is what is coming up through interpretation,
what has been produced, separated from the imaginary and symbolic mastery that
was holding it. The object is what shines through images and echoes through stories
that are there to frame that object. Interpretation does not have to aim at
linking signifiers to each other; it aims at going against the unconscious in a
way that through an ongoing analysis something of the intersection in between
the symbolic and the real could be experienced. At this crucial point Shanahan
referred to the notion of crisis. Analysis, as an ongoing movement of
convulsions and restorations, makes it possible to catch a glimpse of the
movement that underlies, evocates and ends a moment of crisis. Shanahan made a
bridge between the concept of the function of the analyst and the notion of
‘moments of crisis’.


We are
used, Shanahan pointed out, to understand transference within the conception of
the subject supposed to know. The
difficulty that comes along with this is that in current times clinical
patterns witness of an abundance of enjoyment whereas repression turned to the
background. Which position to assume in transference regarding the fact that we
are confronted with problems characterized by excessive jouissance that was not treated by the unconscious?


The Knottings
seminar gave as a chance to work out this question put forward by Shanahan in
the three case studies presented by Bart Duron, Joan Conway and Galia
Weinstein. Especially the cases of kleptomania and melancholia illustrated how
transference consisted of a peculiar response to a particular subjective point
in a way analysis was brought about and the question of how to stop something
of the destructive jouissance could
be worked out during therapy.


Through the
lecture of Shanahan another question was raised: are we confronted with a
crisis in transference? Shanahan referred to the rather rare moments Lacan
referred to what he called the function
of the analyst,
starting from Seminar X. He speaks about this function
three times, regarding 1. interpretation
and the analytical act, 2. transference in the light of the twists
the post-Freudians gave it and 3. the object
and the importance of it within the analytic experience. Lacan doesn’t
speak about this function regarding the process of entering the analytical
experience. He does refer to it regarding the difficulties occurring during analysis, when transference meets
an impasse. At this point the function of the analyst meets a crisis in
transference. As a conclusion to her lecture Shanahan made a remark on what
threatens the function of the analyst, namely “the filling up of the gap” – the
gap that exists between body, jouissance
and discourse, semblant – “with
everything except that what it should be filled up with: interpretation.” It is
this way that should lead the analysis to a point where the subject chooses, makes
a decision regarding his object that condensed a part of the lost jouissance.  



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