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The Big Other, Its Paradox And The Ruse Of Knowledge

The Letter, Issue 52, Spring 2013, Pages 57 - 77


It is really the messenger of the gods who speaks through the lips of this innocent. Lacan 13.11.1957

Patricia McCarthy

The fact of repression is that a thought or knowledge solution is launched. Freud’s hysterics showed him that they suffered from reminiscences where things did not add up. A knowledge solution is the means by which we live our lives – of necessity, a fictional or lying means that masks/speaks the truth. This knowledge solution launches agency in the Other – again a fiction. Lacan’s radical formulation of the real makes for a very disconcerting disconnect between an agent Other eg God, mother, father, superego and a knowledge without a subject. And yet and yet… psychoanalysis takes place in the presence of a flesh and blood other, who refuses the demand of the analyser, grounded as this demand is on an acceptance by him or her of this very refusal – a ‘thy will be done’. For those who are committed to psychoanalysis, the question remains, what conditions such acceptance?

Keywords: the hole in the big Other; paradox; lack-of-sense (ab-sens); the drives; the real of sex; knowledge solution; the pervert; the mystic

Unwittingly, I realise, that for the past three years of my work in three separate cartels within ISLP, I have been preoccupied with the conceptual challenge posed by the big Other[2] - particularly as Lacan speaks about it in the Seminar for 1968–69, Seminar XVI From an Other to the other. This preoccupation was given an unexpected boost by a teaching exercise in the academic session of 2011–12 where I had the opportunity to re-read Seminar V The Formations of the Unconscious delivered by Lacan some eleven years earlier in 1957–58.

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