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Desire Unto Death: Childsplay

The Letter, Issue 30, Spring 2004, Pages 77 - 86


DESIRE UNTO DEATH: CHILDSPLAY*

Helena Texier


Earlier on the week I noticed that in the course of Seminar II Lacan says the following: You can disprove Hegel but not the Song of Sixpence.[1] And I was delighted because I knew my presentation today would derive much more from what I owe to the likes of Sing-a-Song-of-Sixpence than to what the field of philosophy had to offer.

My contribution to today's proceedings certainly - undeniably - owes a great deal to my memory of the many revolutions in our field in the mid-60's. This field - Our field - is not that of psychoanalysis. It is rather the Our-field-that-was-opposite-our-house, and which was the venue for childsplay, a staging of all of the local children's productions. The revolutions then are not those of the streets of Paris May '68, nor are they those revolutions in thinking attributed to Lacan's seminars. Rather, the revolutions refer to the endless circuits of our field (the one opposite our house) executed by myself and my childhood comrades; revolutions in the field of enjoyment then.[2]

In this field of enjoyment there was played, amongst many others, one children's game, which is probably well known to you all, and which I think well represents the processes at play in and the triumph of the neuroses. In addition, the game manages to cover both the strategy of hysteria and that of obsessional neurosis. Remarkably, the game at one point also manages to include the enactment of the phantasy to which Freud devoted his famous paper, - A Child is Being Beaten,[3] (a paper which, you'll remember, while it aims to add to the theory of perversion, does so via a phantasy which Freud notes occurs regularly in the analysis of obsessionals, and particularly in the case of women).

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