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Can I Say Who I Am

The Letter, Issue 54, Autumn 2013, Pages 82 - 91


Olivia Fox

‘That one might be saying this second, remains forgotten behind what is said’ is a phrase emphasised andrepeated in L’Etourdit. This paper suggests that, although the above quote is written in 1972 and late in Lacan’s career, he may have laid down the fundamentals for it in a much earlier paper ‘The Function and Field of Speech and Language’, written in 1953. Lacan’s writings tell us that the speaking subject who uses language to convey a meaning or sentiment, reveals itself as a subject not equivalent to the one speaking as I, but as a subject which can be detected in the very words or signifiers themselves. An examination of the intricacies of 'full speech' and ‘empty speech’ in Lacan’s 1953 paper was thought necessary by the author to establish if it is possible ‘to say who I am’.

Keywords; L’Etourdit, subject, saying, said, full speech, empty speech

The title of this paper Can I say who I am, is a question without a question mark and deliberately so. This was a question for me as a trainee psychotherapist, however the question mark is no longer there as my study of psychoanalysis has revealed to me that ‘to say’ anything has a dimension beyond what is said. This understanding was the reason for my engagement with the first turn of Lacan’s L’Etourdit[2] as part of a cartel group in 2013 for The Irish School for Lacanian Psychoanalysis, ISLP. As Christian Fierens says in his Reading L’Etourdit ‘L’Etourdit is the primary form that diverts us from our conscious semantics, it is the apparition of the unconscious in its dimension of non-sense, and it opens up a beyond of commonmeaning’[3]. L’Etourdit is on the same level as the unconscious and that it may be a matter of recalling the implication of the subject inhis stating’. This question therefore ‘can only be turned saying again and again what you have already said’.

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