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Reading L’Etourdit

The Letter, Issue 41, Summer 2009, Pages 19 - 29

Introduction to L'Etourdit

Christian Fierens

The following is an extract from Christian Fierens' 2002 book, Lecture de L'Etourdit. Lacan 1972 (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2002), translated here into English by Cormac Gallagher.

Keywords: Lacan; L'Etourdit; saying; meaning; formulae of sexuation


Is it readable?

As a writer Lacan's whole life could be summarised by the wish “in the end to be properly read” (Lituraterre, Autres écrits, p. 13). Far from being material for a simple reading, the Ecrits of 1966 and a fortiori the Autres ecrits, published in 2001, should be deciphered as rebuses. In that, they fall into step with what is reserved for the dream in the Freudian Traumdeutung. There each fragment - obscure or not - is supposed to be subjected to the work of speech, of association and of the saying, in the belief that a sense might appear. But in decrypting the Ecrits, is one reading them properly?

In the course of a six year long seminar aimed at interpreting Lacan's writing from A to Z, one text appeared particularly obscure and enigmatic to me: L'Etourdit resisted decipherment. I promised myself to make an index of the obscurities of the text and to work on them one by one. In the course of this explanatory unpacking, the index expanded with new obscurities unperceived or minimised during the first reading: obscurity slipped into the texture of the illumination. Was I going to be plunged paradoxically into the darkness of a text closing in on itself in a terminal hermeticism?

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Issue 41: Editorial

This issue of The Letter concentrates on Lacan's L'Etourdit from 1972, published in Scilicet in 1973. While Charles Melman had originally...


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