I don’t love Lacan.
Derrida wrote an essay entitled For Love of Lacan. It was a reconciling essay, one of his frequent gestures of tendresse that are so in contrast with the guerrilla essays, like Limited Inc. Or a certain famous consideration of the postman of truth, starring Shem the Pissman and Shaun the post-postman. A folly and a frolic, that one. Derrida always had a surprisingly strong sense of solidarity with the community he wrote in, which is why his ethics exists under the sign of friendship. Which is one of the many reasons that I do love Derrida.
But I don’t love Lacan. And, in fact, I have rather despaired about a certain Lacanian vocabulary that has taken the place of a philosophical anthropology among left-leaning theorists. I know where it comes from, and I recognize that there was a historical and rhetorical necessity for some way of speaking of, say, the subject and the Other – but I feel in my bones that this moment has passed. Instead, the Lacanian vocabulary has become mechanical, ill motivated, unexamined, from the petit objet a to the notion that the unconscious is structured like a language – which I have a strong desire, a death wish, to bring down, as Samson brought down the temple of the Philistines.
As I am trying to interpret Baudelaire – and so release a certain image of the poet, let it unfold a destiny in my gnostic history of happiness – my thoughts keep turning to the other ‘addict’ – his semblable, his frere, E.A. Poe. Whose story, The facts in the case of M. Valdemar, is, according to an interview Derrida once gave, the silent third that accompanied the themes in Derrida’s first major text, on Husserl’s Essay on Geometry.
Poe is another transatlantic figure, a bi-locator born. And he figures in the story of Derrida and Lacan, who met for the first time in Baltimore:
“Thus, setting out again [je repars], when I met Lacan in Baltimore for the first time, in 1966, and when we were presented to each other by René Girard, his first word was, with a friendly smile: “So, we had to wait until we came here, in a foreign country, in order to meet!” And I remark here perhaps because of the problem of destiny-errance which awaits us and perhaps because of the name of death of Baltimore [bal de mort] (Baltimore, dance or trance and terror), Baltimore is also the city of Poe of whose grave I searched in vain in those days, but could in any case visit his house (I went to Poe’s place [chez Poe] in 1966, I remark here perhaps because of the name of death of Baltimore that the two unique times we met and we had spoken a little one with the other, it was a question of death between us and firstly in the mouth of Lacan. In Baltimore, for instance, he spoke to me of the way he thought he would be read after his death, and in particular, by me.”
PS- I am putting this post here, not at Limited Inc, where it belongs. I think I'll redo it for LI.
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