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Lacan And Dali - An Anamorphic Encounter?

The Letter, Issue 14, Autumn 1998, Pages 134 - 160


Olga Cox Cameron

'What fun I might have had Lacan's half-mocking, backward look at his early years from the vantage point of 1966, pinpoints his much publicised connection with Salvador Dali as a stopover, left long behind in his own intellectual odyssey. On the occasion of the publication of a first extract from Paul Duquenne's translation of Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, in the psychoanalytic journal Cahiers pour L'Analyse, Jacques Alain Miller invited Lacan to write an introduction. Lacan took advantage of this opportunity to review the trajectory of his own thought on psychotic structures and, typically, to flatten out the importance of 'connaissance paranoïaque', signalled as crucial in the article in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis of May 1951.

What a fine career as an essayist I could have made for myself using this theme which lends itself to all kinds of aesthetic variations! One has only to think of all that our friend Dali has done with it.

The doctoral thesis had theorised 'le cas Aimée as 'a developmental fixation at the level of the superego', but the slow working over of Aimée's story in the years immediately following 1932 offered Lacan a number of other salient elements which would reappear, metamorphosed, in the 1960's. Aimée's relationship with her elder sister, described in 1933 as haine amoureuse is a disturbed doubling which radically subverts the stability of the narcissistic image. Furthermore, this anomaly in subjective structure is identical to that found to be at the basis of certain homicidal attacks, which the psychiatrist Guiraud had described as unmotivated murders. These acts, frequently carried out in twilight states, and of which the perpetrator has no clear memory; 'reveal a specific anomaly identical to that found in psychosis'. Thirdly this anomaly is characterised by certain types of pre- logical conceptual structures, which account for 'the often remarkable aesthetic creations produced in psychotic states'.

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