Lacan and the Jews

MELMAN Charles
Date publication : 03/02/2021
Dossier : Traduction éditoriaux
Sous dossier : En anglais


Lacan and the Jews


One has to be innocent to not hear in the choice of Rome for the inauguration of a teaching founded on the primacy of the Word, a reaction to the prevalence of Jerusalem in the field of psychoanalysis, particularly post-war psychoanalysis. And despite the fact that it was the Opus Dei and Action Française who brought in their inspectors in order to control a “Germanic influence upon the beautiful French youth”. This is openly written in the 1938 editions of Revue Française de Psychanalyse regarding which only a little while earlier had there been a discussion regarding the choice of the President of Honour, Freud or perhaps Prof. Claude, an obliging child psychiatrist who had agreed to take in psychoanalysts, including those sent to Paris by Vienna.

Lacan’s Roman engagement was also determined at once by the necessity to take account of social reality (the Communist Party was at that time violently hostile to this individualistic and “bourgeois science”) as well as a familiarity with the Jewish idea of an enigmatic divine knowledge that was always to be questioned, ordered the world and its creations. The search for such a directive knowledge in the unconscious was in this way homogenous with the historical repression of Judaism by Christianity and included the postulate that the important discovery was the seat of a presence capable of curing the faults of one’s presence in the world.

For Lacan it was clear (for Jung it was different) that such a postulate put a limit to the major cutting edge of Freud’s discovery, in other words that the subject was occupied by a nonsensical order with which it struggled to its great discomfort, that of language. The revelation, the true one, was that its determining material element was not the Word, which the kindly speaker postulated incidentally, but the letter of which no one can say that it owes nothing to nobody, but that it is tied, by separation, to some One, one that is completely blind, deaf and indifferent. Precisely the one that the hysteric tries to move to pity before sacrificing herself completely in order to attempt to substitute it with the figure of a generous and distributive profusion.

This discovery—it deserves its name, that of the determining role of the letter in the destiny of a subject—made Lacan believe that it would be of some interest from those who, from Jerusalem, honour this creative power of God who has no other body or means than that of the letter.

The fact that this is in no way the case could only add to its sentiment that neurosis and stupidity would be the winners.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Charles Melman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            27 January 2021


  Traduction faite par Michael Plastow

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