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Philosophy and Psychoanalysis: The Spelling of Marilyn Monroe

The Letter, Issue 48, Autumn 2011, Pages 9 - 30


William J. Richardson

This is the text of a memorial lecture given by Dr. Richardson in honour of Professor Thomas A. Blakely (1933 - 1989). The lecture was sponsored by the Boston College Graduate School of Arts and Science to celebrate the conferring of the University’s one hundredth doctoral degree in Philosophy, on March 29, 1990.

Keywords: Marilyn Monroe, cut, Woman, dead father, the Real, imaginary transference, jouissance.

Ladies and gentlemen: We are here this evening to celebrate - to enjoy a common satisfaction in an achievement that belongs to us all. I would have thought myself that if we wished to symbolize it formally, it would have been appropriate to invite some eminent scholar from outside the University to address us, say, on how we ought to face our responsibilities as academics in the turbulent world around us as it moves into the twenty-first century. Surely there is something important to be said that could have impressed us and inspired us. But when we ask someone from our own University family to be the designated driver of the evening, we are inclined to be much less tolerant. We don’t take kindly to someone trying to edify us. ‘never mind the high talk,’ we would say, ‘just do it for us, show us! We want to see you bleed.’ Anyone who would accept an invitation to do something of the kind would have to be either a madman or a masochist.

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