The Letter, Issue 25/26, Summer/Autumn 2002, Pages i - iii
The present publication brings you both issue 25 and issue 26 of THE LETTER, offering the reader a selection of work from twelve authors, many of whom will be already familiar names to regular followers of the journal's progress. We also present the work of authors writing here for the first time and look forward to a continuing relation with their works as these evolve. We have as always aimed to bring you a selection of articles which constantly challenge the theory as it impacts on and is drawn from clinical practice; each of the contributors deserves due credit for the inimitable style each brings to the task.
None of them will object if we leave it to the reader to discover in those articles the individual applications to the psychoanalytic field, to focus instead for a moment on just one contribution in particular. The work with which we open is based on a publication and is an extract from a book which really deserves to be noted since it marks the arrival of the first major work (and again hopefully the first of many more) in the English language by someone who has contributed in no small measure to Lacanian psychoanalysis in Ireland. It represents a session in the 1994-95 teaching seminar of Charles Melman, which went by the overall title Returning to Schreber. This one session reproduced here, of the 15th December 1994, was devoted to following up on the consequences of the development of Lacan's formulae according to which 'the unconscious is the social' and 'the subject $ is what is supported between two signifiers'. One of the immediate consequences of taking seriously these statements is to undermine the position whereby psychoanalysts remain within the field circumscribed by the family, consider 'that the field of their responsibility comes to a halt at the boundary of family organisation' and act as though 'they do not have to make any pronouncement, to become engaged, when they are challenged by the social field'.
The least one can say is that such a charge could not be pressed against the other contributions to what constitutes this rather hefty edition of THE LETTER. Happily, neither could it be levied at those who will be participating in the ninth Annual Congress of APPI which will be in full swing as this present issue sees the light of day. A quick look at the programme for the day sees, alongside sections on Lacan's seminar, Freud's work and theoretical and clinical issues, also issues such as racism in Ireland, questions of pedagogy, on addiction, homosexuality, and for the first time, on the birth of the Irish hero.
Melman's 'Return to Schreber' then, is there to be read in two ways at least: a return to an examination of Schreber's text most definitely, but to support the view that there is just such a return to the Sckreberesque also evident nowadays at the level of the social and that the psychoanalysts should have something to say on the subject. Indeed it was while preoccupied with reading Melman's seminar earlier last year that I could write in an earlier editorial that it is remarkable really that Lacan's comments made in the early Sixties are not more readily taken on board today in a world in which we are more than ever the prey of the various networks ... the networks of radio, television, internet and mobile phone, a mad world in which we are uneasy whenever unaccompanied by the little voices. We are the ever-willing and always available victims to the incarceration in the Other's signifiers - and so, the Cell-phone. We are ever more uneasy with our limping gait - and so, the Walk-man.
In another sense also this Return could be seen to have a more serious implication for psychoanalytic groups themselves, not unlike the force and weight of Lacan's Return to Freud. While it can be reduced to providing simply a more useful reference in orientating our practice, in itself a laudable point to bring home, it perhaps also serves here to remind us of and underline the danger inherent to any discourse closed onto itself, one which only makes its ever-ready ears available to its own 'little voices', restricting its discourse to its own little family. Melman points us to Antigone: there is something that the analyst (cor)responds to that does not belong to the group. In this sense, although there may be psychoanalytic groups, it becomes doubtful whether there can ever be such a thing as a group of psychoanalysts.
The work is also to be noted for another reason; in addition, this work 'in the English language' was made possible by someone about whom one could equally say 'who has contributed in no small measure to Lacanian psychoanalysis in Ireland', a tireless translator of Lacan, the hallmark of whose works is reduced to the small-print of an all too familiar phrase in the footnotes.
Belated congratulations to all concerned.