Freud, Rilke and Transience

Summary: In his 1915 essay ‘On Transience’, Freud begins by describing a conversation with a poet (Rilke) and a taciturn friend (Lou Andreas-Salomé). Around that time Freud and Rilke shared a concern with the problem of transience: Freud being preoccupied with the survival of psychoanalysis and Rilke with his aging and the decrease in creativity that ensued. In the midst of the First Wo…

Elvio Fachinelli
Freud, the Aim and the End

The author comments on some of Freud’s essays – ‘The Theme of the Three Caskets’, ‘Transience’, ‘Thoughts for the Times on War and Death’ and part of ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ – which address ‘the end’, understood both as conclusion and death, and as having goals or aims. He shows how the Freudian reflection on the ‘end’ as the final moment, and on the ‘end’ as an aim or goal, are, in a dialectical way, intricately intertwined. According to the author, this double face of the ‘end’ explains Freud’s later elaborations on Eros and Thanatos, which in turn lay out the metaphysical presupposition starting from which Freud constructed his entire doctrine (and clinical practice): that the essence, the quid, of a human being (and of living beings) is die Lust, that is, desire and/or pleasure. Lust appears ambiguously as the ‘end’ of human beings, given that their aim is pleasure, but also as the annihilation of desire. It is against the background of this dialectic between end and aim that we can thus finally grasp, in the ambit of Freudian doctrine, what the author calls a ‘contact with the Real’.

Sergio Benvenuto
On the Question of the Future of Psychoanalysis: Some Reflections on Jacques Lacan

Psychoanalysis seems to have become increasingly concerned with the question of its future. What does it mean to speculate about the future, to be anxious about it, to assess the present on the basis of anticipation of it? Jacques Lacan was someone for whom the future was a critical psychoanalytic concept. Perhaps most famously, his retranslation of Freud’s ‘wo Es war, soll Ich werden’ as ‘Where it was, there shall I become’, gives a sense of Lacan’s desire to effect a certain kind of displacement forward. In this paper I’d like to situate Lacan’s theory of desire in relation to the question of the future of psychoanalysis. Further, Lacan’s critique of the notion of progress is crucial to understanding this anxiety about the future. I will also give a reading of how Freud dealt with these themes, contrasting his 1910 paper, ‘The Future Prospects of Psychoanalytic Therapy’, and his 1919 paper, ‘Lines of Advance in Psychoanalytic Therapy’. My hope is that this will provide an opening in an apprehension that, above all else, burdens the next generation of psychoanalysts.

Jamieson Webster
Machiavelli, Strauss, and the Beginning of the Human World

Leo Strauss’s political philosophy is an attempt to alleviate the anxiety about the end of the world, which arose during World War I and increased with World War II. The core of his political philosophy is the critic of Machiavelli which he proposes in his 1958 book Thoughts on Machiavelli. He maintains that Machiavelli shared with Classical and Judeo-Christian culture the idea that at the beginning of the human world there was terror and that the permanence of that world is assured by beliefs founded on terror. He maintains also that Classical and Judeo-Christian culture was aware of the illusiveness of those beliefs, but kept silent about it, and that the novelty of Machiavelli’s thought consists exclusively in his betrayal of its silence: according to Strauss, Machiavelli’s revelation of that illusiveness initiated modernity and lead to nihilism, relativism and to the end of the human world.

Luigi Antonello Armando
Termination in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: An Attachment Perspective

Attachment and separation are inseparable. To become attached is to suffer the possibility of loss. In this brief, rather discursive, and personal paper I consider different patterns and styles of termination in relation to the characteristic ways in which the secure and insecurely attached make, and therefore break their relationships, and how understanding those patterns can be put to therapeutic use. The avoidantly insecure deny the affective aspects of stopping therapy, and need to be helped to see how anger, fear and sadness are denied but still influence their behaviour; the ambivalently attached cling to therapy and have to be prized away, building a sense of autonomy and confidence that, via ‘reinstatement of the lost object’, they can survive termination secure in the comfort of an inner therapist to turn to at times of need. For the disorganisedly attached, termination is a major threat, and attenuated endings are probably the best arrangement. These themes are discussed with clinical, personal and cinematic examples.

Jeremy Holmes
Kant and the Idea of the End

This essay aims at analyzing the different meanings in which the relationship between ‘end’ and ‘time’ could be interpreted in Kantian philosophy. In the phenomenal context, the end marks a shift from one temporal series to another, which, remaining within the continuous horizon of time, implies a relative end in the context of a continuous un-ended succession. The concept of the end in time, which we could call ‘phenomenal’, entails the idea of an endless length of time which develops towards the future. The perspective of a future infinity opens the idea of a noumenal end, an end of time as the end of the horizon of experience. This noumenal end, related to the synthetic unit of experience, is the idea of an absolute end which marks out a total discontinuity with everything that precedes it. Therefore it is not an endless duration in temporal terms, but a measureless duration: a paradoxical notion. Hence, given that the aporia of the discontinuity between time and eternity holds good for the theoretical reason, the bridge that tries to go over this abyss cannot be crossed according to the point of view of critical reason. Therefore, after the checkmate of the noumenal end, Kant seizes the Archimedean point where the thought of the end turns to the thought of the aim: in this way the idea of the end acquires a sense only if connected to the idea of an ultimate aim. Proposing himself as the creation of an ultimate aim, man finds in culture the only means by which he can emancipate himself from nature: man as moral being is the noumenal man who exerts liberty on an oversensitive faculty. Nevertheless, it seems that idea of the progress of the human race, owing to its intrinsic coherence with a concept of open and endless temporality, clashes with the moral idea of a final aim, which entails the notion of perfection and completion. It is here that the poetic notion of an end of all things qua an end of time, that is to say, as a sense of narrative closure, seems to comply with these requirements. In fact, according to Kant, it is possible, through imaginative action, to replace the cognitive abyss of the border instant between time and eternity with a symbolic space of continuity and accomplished duration, which lies within the limits where the human being is no longer subject to time but is its producer and builder.

Andrea Tagliapietra
Islamism Revisited: A Lacanian Discourse Critique

The aim of this article is to highlight the relevance of Lacanian psychoanalysis for an understanding of Islamism, unfolding its discursive-ideological complexity. In an attempt to reply to Fethi Benslama’s recent exploration of the function of the father in Islam, I suggest that Benslama’s argument about the ‘delusional’ character of Islamism and the link he envisages between the emergence of Islamism and the crisis of ‘traditional’ authoritative systems, should be further investigated so as to avoid potential risks of essentialism. A different reading of Islamism is proposed, which valorizes ‘creative’ attempts by Islamist groups to re-organize the social imaginary within the realm of a symbolic economy, thereby positivising the desedimenting effects of the real in different ways. Notions such as capitonage, fantasy, desire, and jouissance are essential for us to understand how Islamist trajectories diversify as distinct discursive formations, thereby revealing the psychoanalytical significance of Islam as a master signifier.

Andrea Mura
Spinoza with Luther? Desire and the Problem of Evil in Lacan’s Seminar on the Ethics of Psychoanalysis

In this article Lacan’s seminar VII is portrayed as a text on desire and the problem of evil that combines Spinozian with Lutheran insights. Spinozian are: desire as the essence of man; ethics without a moralizing message; the disenchantment of anthropocentricism; the rejection of a possible natural knowledge of the proper distinction between good and evil; and the recognition of immanent causality. Luther is presented by Lacan as the first theologian to articulate the modern crisis in ethics: the problem of evil in his concept of sin as the desire for those objects that make one suffer; the emphasis on the fundamentally bad character of man’s relationships; the recognition of hatred being the fundamental human passion and the foundation of the Law. Reading this seminar from this perspective not only draws attention to the fundamental problems psychoanalysis addresses, but also contributes to clarifying the relation between psychoanalysis and Judeo-Christian tradition.

Herman Westerink
Book Review Essay: “Waiting for the Barbarians” by J. M. Coetzee

Since its inception political theory, insofar as it has been concerned with the subject in democracy, has treated the subject as citizen. The subject of citizenship in democracy is an abstraction: the legal identity conferred by belonging to a political community ascribing rights and status, a symbolic fiction. Citizenship coincides with belonging to a nation governed by state institutions, the nation itself a symbolic fiction. Yet even as a symbolic inscription that occludes the body that is its ground, citizenship is bolstered by imaginary fantasies and real dynamics: by identification with race, tribe, or ethnicity and with speakers of a common language and believers in a common religion; by being born in a territory and by inheriting a history. Participation in “the body politic” implicates an extra-political, extra-symbolic content to citizenship.

Janet Thormann
On the Aim and End of Analysis in the Lacanian School

This paper explores the connection between identification, the end of analyses, and the question of the analysis of resistance, not only from the point of view of the well-known Lacanian concept of the resistance of the analyst, but also from the concept of the analysis of the repressive unconscious that I derive from the work of both Freud and Lacan. Within Lacanian psychoanalysis, the final aim of the analysis of identifications is the end of the identification with the analyst. When identifications are abandoned, the subject finds his or her identity (which is no-identity) in the larger symbolic structure and the wondrous emptiness of unbeing (désêtre). I examine whether the aim of analysis is to analyze/strengthen ego defenses and weaken/’master’ the drives, or to weaken the ego and produce transformations within jouissance. The resistance of the analyst as the analyst’s wish to be recognized as a ‘master’ or a ‘subject supposed to know’ keeps the treatment in the imaginary dimension of the ego ideal rather than carrying the analysis further in the direction of the subject and subjective destitution. The support given to ego defenses in the early phase of the treatment is only a strategy within the transference. ‘The termination of analysis occurs when one has gone around a circle twice; that is to say, to rediscover that which holds one captive’ Lacan (1977–1978).

Raul Moncayo
European Journal of Psychoanalysis