‘The father function revisited. A knot-theoretical reading’ – presented by Stijn Vanheule:
Starting with his structural approach in the 1950s and ending with his knot-theoretical move in the 1970s Lacan elaborates different perspectives on the father function. His classic view originates in the 1950s, when he suggests that the father is a symbolic operator. Yet, by the 1970s his ideas on what the father function entails have changed profoundly. In this paper I will explore these later changes, and present – at the very end of my talk – a knot-theoretical interpretation of the father function, which, next to the Name-of-the-Father, also includes the concepts père-version and Father-of-the-Name. I will discuss both concepts in detail and relate them to Lacan’s ideas concerning lalangue – llanguage, which concerns a feminine strategy of dealing with the jouissance emanating from the sexual non-rapport.
It’s a fact that the unconscious has changed. And it is time to consider Lacan’s suggestion that Freud’s ‘unconscious’, be replaced by ‘parlêtre’, or, in J.-A. Miller’s proposal, ‘speaking body’. Miller proposes that ‘speaking body’ be taken as an indication of the change that psychoanalysis underwent in the 20th century when it had to take account of a symbolic order and a real that were different from those on the basis of which psychoanalysis was originally established. As Miller also states, the term ‘sinthome’ indicates a move away from the symptom understood as a formation of the unconscious structured like a language, as a metaphor, as an effect of meaning introduced by the substitution of one signifier for another. Rather, the sinthome of a speaking body is to be understood as a body event, as the emergence of jouissance of the body, partnered by this escabeau, this pedestal on which we elevate ourselves to the dignity of the Thing. (See J.-A. Miller (2016), ‘The Unconscious and the Speaking Body’)
Stijn Vanheule, Professor of Psychoanalysis, University of Ghent, member of the New Lacanian School, author of The Subject of Psychosis: A Lacanian Perspective (Palgrave, 2011), Diagnosis and the DSM (Palgrave, 2014) and Psychiatric Diagnosis Revisited (Palgrave, 2017).
‘The last era of Lacan’s work is intriguing, and certainly the most innovative era of his oeuvre. His reflections are more complex than ever before and he challenges viewpoints previously articulated without always offering a clear-cut alternative. One of the most significant changes I discern in his later work is the shift from what I called a dialectical logic to a triangular logic. Prior to the 1970s, Lacan’s work is dialectical to the extent that his focus on the three registers of R, S and I is based on the tension between the Symbolic and the two other registers. In line with Freud’s idea on the talking cure, language and speech are the angle via which clinical practice is studied. With Lacan’s introduction of knot theory this changes, bringing a triangular logic to the fore. Henceforth R, S and I are equivalent elements that are not inherently linked, but can be connected in a systemic way. Such a systemic connection always implies the creation of a fourth knot or ring, which functions to tie the others in a stable way. At the level of the Imaginary the creation of a systemic link between R, S and I creates an experience of consistency; in the Symbolic it enables the articulation of the subject; and at the level of the Real, jouissance is regulated. The concepts Lacan connects to this fourth ring are the symptom, the sinthome and psychical reality.’
— Stijn Vanheule (2011). The Subject of Psychosis: A Lacanian Perspective, p.169
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