text: “From knowledge to the lathouse” (A Zaloszyc)

from the NLS-Messager:

TOWARDS THE VII CONGRESS OF THE WAP – ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY No. 5

From knowledge to the lathouse
Armand Zaloszyc

Beginning with two references taken from the Seminar XVI, Armand Zaloszyc questions with Lacan the function of haste in logic, thus opposing “the time it takes” to “rapidly obtained satisfaction.”  By putting two contradictory definitions of the real in tension with each other, he brings his question to bear on the desire to know in order to underline “the difficulty entailed in opposing and bringing together semblant et sinthome.”  Not forgetting “the part of opacity” that haste retains of its real, as well as the “mental traps” into which haste can fall.  M.-H. B.

A Platonic dialogue, a medieval interpretation of a bible verse, do we visit them these days like museum pieces, or can they be part of a living present for us?  If it is possible to treat such a question seriously, is it not immediately perceptible that we ask it urgently of a text such as that of Lacan?  We are also led to ask ourselves: On what condition does a text remain alive and contemporary?  I quickly reply: on the double condition of being read (studied) and of passing into a practice that has an effect on the number (that makes it into a “material force”).  But we easily see that these two conditions imply a third, which comes from the very practice of the text.  (Is it not for example the reason for Lacan’s having taken as a slogan, for a whole period, what he called a return to Freud, which was a return to Freud’s text?).  I will now focus only on this last condition, that is, on the modes of its actualisation.  I read in Chapter 13 of the Seminar D’un Autre à l’autre (page 209, session of 5 March, 1969): “One is, here as elsewhere, somewhat hurried.  Haste, I have already said, has its function in logic.  Again, did I not do so to show the mental traps, I would go as far as thus qualifying them, into which it rushes headlong.”
Random readings: I have seen over the last few days two analogous points that immediately echoed back to me.  In the inaugural lesson at the Collège de France, Anne Cheng made hereself, “by opposition to haste and the instantaneousness of information” – characteristics of the globalised context in which we are currently caught up – “the apologist, if not of slowness, at least of the time necessary for comprehension, for reflection and for maturation.”  I read elsewhere that an interpretation of Adam’s sin ascribes it to impatience: if only he had known how to wait he would have had the right to eat from the tree of knowledge anyway.  According to R. Joseph Gikatila, a Spanish Kabbalist who lived and studied at the turn of the XIIIth and XIVth centuries, the tree of knowledge was a young tree whose fruit was not allowed (according to the law) to be eaten during the first three years.
The time it takes is also present in the Platonic myth of the Cave: does it not describe at its exit a slow and difficult ascent (which corresponds well with what Pierre Hadot has taught us to take as “spiritual exercise”), not the coming of instantaneous information (which would correspond much more to the spectacle offered us by the persistence and arrogance of the doxa) ?
Each of these points concerns knowledge and the desire to know, and each one of them presents us with the temptation of the short-circuit that leads to the “mental trap.”  This, so it would seem, sets in motion principally the rapidly obtained satisfaction.  How is this to be characterised?
In the same session of the Seminar D’un Autre à l’autre, we read side by side two definitions of the real that do not easily conjoin (page 212): “Here the jouissance is an absolute, it is the real and, as I have defined it, is what always comes back to the same place” – these are two distinct points: the absolute, and what comes back to the same place.  The return to the Same is an absolute, but this absolute, precisely because it is an absolute, does not dissolve into a place (in fact, because it is always relative to a system of places; a place is contradictory with an absolute).
Lacan’s formulation therefore presents a difficulty.  This is close, furthermore, to the difficulty entailed in opposing and conjoining semblant and sinthome.  Here we have a new and enlightening opposition, an indication that guides you magnanimously.  But once it has been stated (once: this particular time that made a happening), once it has taken us over, and thus becoming a material force, if we return to the formula, let us not forget in haste the opaque part that it gets from its real, at the cost of falling into the mental trap of those against whom Lacan cautions us: let us not make a lathouse (I reply, with this term invented by Lacan, to the question set out at the end of the last paragraph).

Translated from the French by Heather Chamberlain

Original first circulated on ECF Debats
Consult the website of the VIIth Congress of the WAP: http://www.congresoamp.com

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