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Losing Psychoanalysis in Translation

The Letter, Issue 37, Summer 2006, Pages 72 - 92


Ian Parker

Buíochas daoibh as ucht an cuireadh a thabhairt sibh dom. Tá bron orm nach bhfuil mé in ann an toirbhairt a dheanamh as gaeilge.[2]

I have chosen this title 'Losing psychoanalysis in translation' partly to evoke the title of a film, Lost in Translation,[3] which was ostensibly about outsiders (played by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson) coping with being in a place, Japan, which they could not decipher. Actually, the film was not really about being in Japan at all, except insofar as the narrative required that they were somewhere strange; that it was Japan did not figure save as a setting for some jokes about that culture. Instead, the lack of 'translation' in which the characters were lost was the impossible relation between the man and the woman.

I also wanted, by way of this title, to acknowledge the presence here of Shingu Kazushige, who I was so glad to meet during a visit to Japan in 2004;[4] and I cannot help but recall an embarrassing moment there. Shingu said to me, as we were walking along, that, in his view, if we wanted to understand Lacan it was crucially important that we read him in the original French. I cannot remember exactly what I muttered to cover over or to betray the fact that my Lacan is the one translated into English, that try as I might I often feel myself lost enough in those texts, and the prospect of being lost in the French texts filled me with anxiety.

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