The Letter, Issue 15, Spring 1999, Pages 1 - 50
ACCORDING TO MARCEL DUCHAMP
La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même and the ready-made
From psychoanalysis to Duchamp ... and back
When he found himself in a clinical deadlock, Freud often turned to art. Being a Freudian, like Lacan, I will try to tackle the problem of the fundamental sexual fantasy at the end of the analytic cure, by turning to an artist you all know, namely Marcel Duchamp. Indeed, I think Duchamp can teach something to a psychoanalyst about the fantasy - the means of finding a way out of it.
The fantasy according to psychoanalysis
But first of all, what is the fundamental fantasy, according to Freud and Lacan? For the time being I will define it in the most classical way: as a kind of play, a scene, or scenario - permanently produced on what Freud calls the Other Stage, in the unconscious. This scene deals with a specific situation, in which we ourselves are not involved in a direct or active manner; we only witness it, as a passenger - as if seeing something in a window display. Mostly this view can be summarised in one single sentence, this sentence being the only thing we can tell about our fantasy, be it with much feelings of shame. You may know the Freudian paradigm
of such a fundamental fantasy, 'A child is being beaten', to be completed as 'A child is being beaten - and that's all I know'.