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Published on Nov 19, 2006
In light of how we view this video, I'd like to point out that , no great insight here but Lacan is dead. So, obviously, we are not directing our criticism towards him as a living man, long deceased; such criticism would be futile. But neither are we criticising his ideas as in a vaccum. If it were just the ideas, why all the vitriol, symptomatic of rivaly and competitiveness between living people? Because, it might be said, of the damage these ideas have caused, or perhaps because they are absolutely impossible to understand? But in both cases, of course, its not the ideas themselves which cause damage or confuse - it is what health workers, educators and the like do with them. It's our response to their interpretation and implementation which kick-starts our reaction, their processing in the Symbolic by others with whom we compete, and not simply the content of his work.
And there's another side to our reaction. What sort of associations are typically made with Lacan? If, as Noam Chomsky once said after meeting him, he really was a charlatan, then how do we feel about psychoanalysis in general. If it lacks value, perhaps it's only in its lack of curatve efficacy. And maybe Lacan is a case of, too much talk, not enough action, or something like that. But, without over-egging it, by making cures the be-all-and-end-all of psychoanalysis, don't we provide a kind of cold comfort to the afflicted. If a cure isnt already known, but the model is right, then the specialist can say they are at least working towards a result. And, as always, in the background of this kind of wait-and-see mentality is the sense that, whatever the underlying causes of suffering, its at the social level that change has to occur. You might say that this kind of reaction has its feet firmly planted in the Real.
I doubt anyone would say that Lacan is easy to get into. His declarations are often vague, and he is easily seen as pretentious, as putting on a kind of show. Implicit in such a view is that the speech of the professional should be as clear as possible, with little or no affectation, treating its subject in as linear a way as possible out of a concern for those in need of help. Lacan emerges here as detached, arrogant and exploitative. But this is not the man - it is the product of a value system, a question of ethics. That straw man, visible in this video, exists only in the Imaginary.
* Our issues are with the work of those who seek to advance or detract from the status of Lacan's work today. This places our reaction in the sphere of the symbolic.
* The belief that psychoanalysis exists solely to remove symptoms and transform behaviour into a socially acceptable form, underlies a dismissal on the basis of clinical outcome. This belief structures criticism in the field of the Real.
*The Lacan that is rejected for his obscurantism and theatrics exists in the sphere of the Imaginary insofar as it is a byproduct of the assumption that work of this kind should be dry and detached in form.