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Reading L’Étourdit: The Second Turn

The Letter, Issue 43, Spring 2010, Pages 17 - 51

Reading L’Étourdit: The Second Turn[1]

Christian Fierens

Lacan’s L'étourdit eschews diagrams and other imaginary supports but refers to the “already articulated” developments of his earlier teaching, notably in the seminars on Identification and The Object of Psychoanalysis. While these articulations form the basis of Christian Fierens’ commentary, he adds explanatory figures and tables which open the way to a reading of Lacan’s highly condensed pages.

Keywords: Aristotle; Moebius strip; cross-cap; formulae of sexuation (171) The second turn, a re-presentation of the first, is going to show how the notall was already implied from the beginning of the journey, from the first pages of L’étourdit, from the philosophical search for sense. The riddle of the Sphynx (or the notall) determines the course of phallic logic from its first steps; it confers on it a dimension which, left in the shadows in the first turn, will appear only during this second turn.

The Notall touched on by the Philosopher (25d; 469)

Aristotle himself seems to have respected the logic of the notall: “the only universal formula that he does not seem to have allowed himself to pronounce is all women” (Of a Discourse which might not be a Semblance, 9 June 1971). This said, Lacan has followed a different path to Aristotle: instead of proceeding by philosophical deduction, he was inspired by a “different amusement”, namely by the entertainment of sex (in old French, déduire means to amuse, to entertain, but also to make love). Starting from the absence of sexual relationship, he initiated his phallic logic, deduced sexuation from it and discovered a feminine enjoyment – notall – beyond masculine enjoyment.

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This issue of The Letter concentrates on Lacan's heterogeneous topology in L’étourdit (1972) as an application of his “there is no sexual...


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