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Issue 41: Editorial

The Letter, Issue 41, Summer 2009, Pages v - vi


This issue of The Letter concentrates on Lacan's L'Etourdit from 1972, published in Scilicet in 1973. While Charles Melman had originally advised against its publication and Christian Fierens has asked “is it readable?”, one of our cartels has worked on it for a year and found it to be one of the later Lacan's great écrits. This cartel was joined by another - and by Christian Fierens from Brussels - for a study-day on this enigmatic text in May 2009. This issue contains the papers and exchanges from that day. L'Etourdit itself has been painstakingly translated by Cormac Gallagher and it is published here in English for the first time. This will be an invaluable resource for other cartels whose members are courageous enough to follow Lacan's “saying” in it.

As an introduction to L'Etourdit, Cormac Gallagher examines the places where Lacan taught, St. Anne, the Ecole Normale Supérieur and the Sorbonne. He associates these with the role of “place” in Lacan's four discourses and four formulae of sexuation and he demonstrates that Christian Fierens' reading of the text is an invaluable aid to resolving its enigmas. Hence our including his translation of the introduction to Fierens book, Lecture de L'Etourdit. Lacan 1972, as a further key to our bi-lingual version of the original text. We are grateful to Cormac and to Tony Hughes for inserting Fierens' helpful subheadings as well as references to the later - Autres écrits (2001) - version. Part two of Cormac's translation of L'Etourdit will appear here in the near future.

Patricia McCarthy's paper focuses on the neologism “Vas” in L'Etourdit and it employs an illustrated vase to relate the text back to Lacan's optical schema and to explore what he is now saying about the phallic function, the formulae of sexuation and the discourse of the analyst. Tony Hughes' article - which includes interventions and exchanges from the study-day - discusses the distinctions in L'Etourdit between “saying and the said” and “signification and sense” and it indicates their relevance for interpretation in the clinic. And my own contribution examines Lacan's reading of Schreberin terms of the “not all” of the formulae of sexuation. It examines the substitution in L'Etourdit of the excluded exception and masculine universal for what Lacan thought was absent in psychosis in 1958 and the light this sheds on Schreber's “push-to-the-woman” and lack of phallic sense. But it also contends that Lacan did not equate the questioning of the exception in femininity with its foreclosure in psychosis. Christian Fierens replies to this argument and makes the case for not reading L'Etourdit from the perspective of a Freudian phallocentrism. And, finally, we present a review of Fierens' book by Charles Melman which was read during a two-day conference on its themes in 2003.

Tom Dalzell

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