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Looking Awry at Georgian Caricature

Lacan and the Satirists

David Morgan

This article investigates the applicability of certain aspects of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to the study of visual satire and/or caricature. Lacan’s treatment of the phenomenon of visual anamorphosis can provide a fruitful new way of thinking about the art of caricature. The visual exaggerations and distortions central to the art of caricature function as they do, as works of social or political satire, by virtue of the extent to which they expose the psychological emptiness or hollowness (castration) which inheres in all human social or symbolic activity. This argument is then applied to the political circumstances prevailing in late Georgian England: in particular, the visual satirical treatment devoted to the nature and status of the monarchy during this period is examined in the light of foregoing arguments.

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Hamlet’s Catch-22

A Psychoanalytic Reading of Hamlet and Catch-22

Bahareh Azad and Pyeaam Abbasi

The double-bind dilemma that Hamlet is engulfed in places him in a catch-22 situation from which there seems to be no way out. Locked in a psychological impasse exacerbated by a deficient Oedipal process due to the father’s death and mother’s remarriage, he is driven into (feigning) insanity, a situation that brings him close to Yossarian, Heller’s paranoid antihero who is as much inept in the face of the paternalistic ordeal he is subjected to as an army fighter. Evading the fear of castration on the one hand and becoming consumed with guilt for the incompetence to face the trial on the other give rise to problematic identities of both protagonists and numerous evasive strategies they plot. Nevertheless, through mainly linguistic/textual acts of defiance, these initially victimized subjects to the law of the father turn into rebels, mastering and thus making the Symbolic order backfire on itself.

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David Detmer and John Ireland

This issue of Sartre Studies International contains articles and book reviews covering an extraordinarily wide range of topics. The first two articles focus on Sartre’s thought in relation to psychoanalysis, and more specifically, on his conflicted relationship with the brilliant, controversial psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, Sartre’s Parisian contemporary. Blake Scott argues that despite fundamentally different conceptions of subjectivity and agency, Lacan does develop a sense of subjective responsibility that Scott engages effectively with Sartre’s later thought. Betty Cannon, replying directly to Scott (who had brought her own work into the discussion), offers from a clinical point of view a current critical assessment of the relations among Sartre, Freud, and Lacan. She also provides an invaluable update of her own work and practice in relation to Sartre’s existential psychoanalysis (her groundbreaking book, Sartre and Psychoanalysis, was published in 1991), as well as assessing the influence of his thought on many other schools of psychoanalytic thought and related therapies today.

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Sartre, Lacan, and the Ethics of Psychoanalysis

A Defense of Lacanian Responsibility

Blake Scott

In this article, I reconsider the philosophical significance of Jacques Lacan’s reading of Freud in light of Jean-Paul Sartre’s early critique of Freudian psychoanalysis. Since direct comparisons between the work of Sartre and Lacan are sparse in the English literature, Betty Cannon’s comprehensive treatment proves to be an invaluable resource in opening up this line of inquiry. I claim that one reason for the limited attention given to comparisons of their work is the continued strength of the polemics between humanism and structuralism. Lacan’s structuralism is regularly indicted by humanists for failing to provide a conception of subjective responsibility in the way that Sartre’s humanism does. Taking Cannon’s critique of Lacanian psychoanalysis on this issue as a point of departure, I argue that a conception of subjective responsibility can be found throughout Lacan’s work, serving as a point of common ground upon which further inquiry—particularly of Sartre’s later work—might begin.

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Facing the Thing

The Green Man, Psychoanalysis and Kingsley Amis

Robin Sims

A range of texts published since the late nineteenth century take for their theme the forest, presented as an ambiguous and ‘uncivilised’ space, as deadly as it is seductive, and as frightening as it is bursting with life; they portray the wooded realm as the habitat of shadowy supernatural presences which embody these contradictory qualities. The work of the anthropologist Sir James George Frazer suggested every wood to be teeming with imagined vegetation spirits; the eerie fin-de-siècle fictions of Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood presented sylvan settings as the garden of the Arcadian Pan, reborn as a creature of ecstasy and terror. Latterly, such imagery has often centred on a supposed British wood-god, the ‘Green Man’. It is my contention that this marginal, though persistent, tradition can be understood in the terms of a theory that the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan set forth, in a wholly different context, in 1959–1960: that of the Thing, the life-giving yet deathly object of the drive to escape the ‘original curse’ of language. This article aims to elucidate Lacan’s theory, and its relevance to ambivalent visions of the mythic forest, in a reading of Kingsley Amis’s novel of death, desire and the supernatural, The Green Man, published in 1969.