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Not Enough And Never Too Much

The Letter, Issue 6, Spring 1996, Pages 110 - 117


Dany Nobus

The last time I experienced anxiety was around two o'clock this afternoon when Cormac Gallagher asked me to formulate the closing remarks of this Second Annual Congress of the Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland (APPI). At that particular moment, I was suddenly- confronted with the mysterious desire of the Other. However, the first question I asked myself was not 'What is going to happen next?', but rather 'what have I done to deserve this?’ A possible answer to this question suggested itself, along the lines that I had come quite a long way to attend this congress, after having met and heard some Irish people at a conference in Belgium, after having read some excellent pieces in an Irish Lacanian journal and after having been stimulated by the strong working alliance between the Department of Psychoanalysis of Ghent University on the one hand and what I dare to call the psychoanalytic circle of Dublin on the other hand. Indeed, this could be exactly what I had done to deserve this. Of course I do not have any proof that this was precisely what provoked either the Other's desire or my anxiety, that is, I cannot be certain that it was not another figment of my neurotic mind and as such something completely alien to the whole situation. As a matter of fact, perhaps I only deserved the anxiety of being asked to present the closing remarks because I had not done anything really. In this respect, I would like to remind you of the joke of the Russian farmer who is sent to a Gulag for twenty-five years because of alleged anti-communist practices. At the entrance of the camp, the janitor asks the poor man: 'What have you done to deserve this?’And the Russian farmer responds: To be honest, I have not done anything really!' Whereupon the janitor exclaims: 'You can count yourself lucky, since for doing nothing they usually give you a life- sentence'.

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