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Enduring Love: From Urbane Objectivity To Panicked Object

The Letter, Issue 22, Summer 2001, Pages 75 - 96


In Lesson XXI of the seminar Anxiety,[1] Lacan observes of a particular type of anxiety that it is not possible to speak about it without provoking at least some echo of it. He was referring to his audience. For my part I can only say that it is certainly true for the speaker. The prospect of this talk has provided an excellent forum for an encounter with some of the most salient aspects emphasized by Lacan, notably the connection for the neurotic subject between anxiety and the expectation of the other. The fact that one is called upon, expected to produce something, obsesses the neurotic. In the seminar Identification,[2] Lacan suggests two ways out of this dilemma. Either one courageously refuses to feed oneself into the enigma of what the other might want, and fires ahead anyway, or else ...! What follows falls into the latter category.

What interests me most in this topic is a kind of double truth, which emerges about the subject as object. On the one hand there is the possibility of finding shelter from anxiety, of palliating its corrosive bite in becoming or remaining more object than subject. On the other hand it is precisely anxiety that dismantles all shelters, and what then stands revealed is a dramatically different and radically uncomforted version of the subject as object. It is because it exemplifies something of this double-ness that I have chosen the novel Enduring Love[3] as a point of entry into an exploration of this process.

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