The Real Lacan
Presented by Russell Grigg
This seminar concluded on 21 May 2022
Lacan once observed that Freud’s texts are necessary reading for any prospective analyst as they expose one to a register without which even one’s own analysis is insufficient. And now, for us, Lacan’s teaching is part of this necessary study for prospective analysts. Moreover, if we study the work of Freud and Lacan, it is not for their value as historical or literary documents, but in order to find therein responses to questions – questions that their work poses for us as analytic practitioners.
Outline of the seminar
It is in this vein that this semester we will explore the Lacanian concept of the real. We will select moments from Lacan’s teaching, with a focus on clinical issues and clinical questions for practicing analysts and trainee analysts of the Lacan Circle in particular. We also welcome the participation of students and scholars of analysis and anyone with an interest in the Lacanian orientation.
The concept of the real is a way to orient our work for the semester in the following way. We will suppose that one hidden thread running through Lacan’s seminars, from beginning to end, is that the real Lacan is the Lacan of the real. We will also suppose that the praxis of analysis aims to affect something of this real, which is the real of the speaking body, this body that speaks and is spoken. Our inquiry will, then, not be just about the late Lacan, though it will be that, but also and more particularly about the real, this obscure real, that – and this is our wager – is everywhere in Lacan, provided we know where to look.
One of the discoveries of psychoanalysis was that the speaking subject knows without knowing that it knows. This knowledge is knowledge of which the ego is unaware; it is an articulated knowledge that we get glimpses of in the slips and errors, the omissions and commissions, that reveal our unconscious intentions. Hence, Lacan’s famous maxim: the unconscious, structured like a language, is the discourse of the Other. Classic Lacan, in which the symbolic and the signifier are front and centre. However, in his late work (take the date of 8 March 1977 in Seminar XXIV as an example), he declares his intention “to introduce something that goes further than the unconscious”, where this “further than” is to be understood as aiming to approach the real. The novelty and challenge of this seminar will be to elucidate those traces of approaches to the real all throughout Lacan’s teaching, which are there all through his work. And we’ll start with the opening sentence of his very first seminar: the [Zen] master breaks the silence with whatever – a sarcastic remark, even a kick up the backside.
Russell Grigg PhD studied and lectured in the Department of Psychoanalysis at the University of Paris VIII. He is a member of the Lacan Circle of Australia, the École de la Cause freudienne, the New Lacanian School, and the World Association of Psychoanalysis.