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Nessa Breen – Lacan in Barthes


THE LETTER 07 (Summer 1996) pages 40-57


The radical heteronomy that Freud’s discovery shows gaping within man, can never again be covered over without whatever is used to hide it being profoundly dishonest.


When we speak … of a divided subject, it is never to acknowledge his simple contradictions … it is a diffraction which is intended, a dispersion of energy in which there remains neither a central core nor a structure of meaning: I am not contradictory, I am dispersed.


Over twenty years separate Jacques Lacan’s Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis and Roland Barthes’ anti-autobiography Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes. The conditions of production of the Lacanian and the Barthesian texts are quite different. Function and Field had been delivered to the Rome Congress in September 1953 at a moment of significant political import for psychoanalysis. In his Discours de Rome Lacan attempts to return psychoanalysis to its true parameters, that is, to speech and language. The Discours immediately assumed the status of a manifesto for the new movement in psychoanalysis. Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes was published in 1975 as a kind of serious joke, when Barthes was asked to do his par lui-même for the Ecrivains de toujours series. Its credibility was further called into question following Barthes’ own review of his autobiography in the Quinzaine litteraire, entitled Barthes puissance trois – Barthes par Barthes, by Barthes.


Autobiography and psychoanalysis have an important factor in common: each issues a warrant to the subject to tell his or her story. How does a subject who is aware of himself or herself as pluralised, as la…

Lacan in Barthes

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