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Lacan TodayReview - Lacan Today
Psychoanalysis, Science, Religion
by Leupin Alexandre
Other Press, 2004
Review by Petar Jevremovic
Mar 8th 2006 (Volume 10, Issue 10)

Lacanian psychoanalysis is well known in our days as one of the most complicated traditions in the contemporary theory. Apart from its being so complicated and so hermetic, it is also very popular. There is absolute hyperproduction of Lacanian and (I believe this could be proper name for them) semilacanian books and articles all around us. And off course, one must admit that their quality is too often problematic. There is lot of empty mannerism, mystification’s, obscurantism...

Leupin's book is different. It is well written, clear minded and free from all possible mystifications. This book is much more than just introduction in Lacan's theory. Leupin's text could be seen as his (more or less) original attempt to give one possible and coherent interpretation of Lacan's discourse.  In other words, he is (between pages of his book) critically rethinking one of Lacan's most fundamental concepts and ideas. I will just mention some of them: the structure of subject, epistemology, dialectics, sexuality, even god... This book could be seen as Leupin's own contribution to Lacanian critique of the Western metaphysical tradition.

Leupin's model (his hermeneutic credo) for reading Lacan is none other than his own (Lacan's) reading of Freud. Beyond the now trivial return to Freud lies a paradigm for an interpretation of Lacan, if we turn on him the interpretation he applied to his master. First of all, for Lacan, the Freudian corpus is not a Bible... If we can extract an interpretative model for Lacan in his reading of Freud, then of course the way, Lacan maps out Freudian texts is most important. He reads Freud's texts through their structure, not, again, through their imagery or their historical evolution. It means that we have to insert concepts in something that could be called a coherence, and then work their definitions out through their oppositions and parallels. In other words, no glossary of formal definitions will do: they freeze and isolate what are dynamic concepts, whose force can be grasped only through their contextual mapping out; the concepts have to be considered from the point of view of their respective relations.

Lacan warned his students very early not to be idolaters, that is not to concede to the tendency to use expressions that were too full of imagery. On the same page, he warned about the idolatry of Freud, that is, Freud's confidence in the image as being able to render an accurate picture of the psyche. Lacan's aim was, Leupin concludes, to remove this idolatry from his disciples minds. Of course, to move away from the image not only has the effect of promoting a more rigorous and abstract discourse on the unconscious, but also ultimately offers one the chance to liberate oneself of the notion of a sacred text delivered by an all-knowing master. This was Lacan' hermeneutic credo. The same warning about idolatry applies of course to Leupin's reading of Lacan.

If we want to understand Lacan, we must do it with our own words. In particular, the only way to be faithful to Lacan's thought is to betray its expression. Lacan cannot be translated. He has to be rethought in English through, and through, and basically rewritten. To read Lacan is to betray him ć at last in regard to his style. Too often, Lacan has been translated by "biblical" exegetes who were loath to modify even a single comma from the original text. If Lacan smashed the idols, why shouldn't we be inspired by him, to the point where we will not idealize the letter of his work?

The theory is therefore constantly redrawn, modified, reformulated, but very rarely put in contradiction with itself; the movement of Lacan's thinking is more expansion and redirection than an outright rejection of his own antecedents. The doctrinal core is constantly redrawn, but its coherence is maintained. What permits this evolving coherence is an early choice by Lacan, a choice that is at the same time pedagogic and conceptual: the reference that will formalize psychoanalysis will be modern logic and mathematics. As early as 1953, in his Function and Field of Speech and Language, Lacan refers to a topological model ć and this in a nonmetaphorical way, contrary to what would be the habit among humanists. From then on, the mathematical model will never be far away in his works; it will give Lacan an unparalleled coherence when he explores the intersections between the humanities and science.

Starting from this basic Lacan's insights and ideas, Leupin has developed his own discourse. 



© 2006 Petar Jevremovic


Petar Jevremovic: Clinical psychologist and practicing psychotherapist, author of two books (Psychoanalysis and Ontology, Lacan and Psychoanalysis), translator of Aristotle and Maximus the Confessor, editor of the Serbian editions of selected works of Heintz Kohut, Jacques Lacan and Melanie Klein, author of various texts that are concerned with psychoanalysis, philosophy, literature and theology. He lives in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.


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