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Lacan’s Use of Topology – A Chronology: Part 1

The Letter, Issue 59/60, Summer/Autumn 2015, Pages 91 - 105


Tony Hughes

Lacan’s use of topology seems to have begun with the Rome Discourse in September 1953. From that time on until the end of his life he used it extensively throughout his seminars, and perhaps in other areas of his work. This paper sets out chronologically the occasions from 1953 to 1955 where he referred to topology either directly or indirectly. It also attempts to give some insights into how space is conceived in topology. That Lacan’s work is mostly done by reference to types of space that are different to that of Euclid is essential to our reading of Lacan. Some aspects of this space are discussed, as well as the link between the work of Lévi- Strauss and topology.

Keywords: topology; Moebian space; the projective plane; Granon-Lafont; bosons and fermions; the cross-cap; the Moebius strip.


It is hard to define the precise point at which I got hooked by Lacan’s work on topology. It is possible to highlight a certain moment in L’Etourdit, where, at the start of the Second Turn, Lacan describes some aspects of his topology. These sections on topology are hard to follow, because Lacan deliberately avoids the use of diagrams. However, this lack was compensated for to some extent, by virtue of Fieren’s Reading L’Etourdit (2002). [2] His use of diagrams of the torus, Moebius strip, Klein bottle and the cross-cap, provided some clarification. As I began to delve more deeply into the topic, I became aware of a question – when did topology begin in Lacan’s work? Consequently I consulted Krutzen’s Index[3] which details many of the various topics in Lacan’s seminars.

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