Index of this Post
Index of Pictures on the Slider
Connection to Sigmund Freud or Jacques Lacan
Index of Pictures on the Slider
Note : The pictures are not necessarily displayed in this order
The Treachery of Images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) by René Magritte (1928–1929)
St John with Right Finger Pointing by Leonardo Da Vinci (1513-1516)
Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali (1937)
Les Meninas by Diego Velázquez (1656)
The Sistine Madonna by Raphael [Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino] (1513-1514)
Derby Day by William Powell Frith (1858)
The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein (1553)
A Pair of Boots – A Pair of Shoes by Vincent van Gogh (1886)
Statue of St Teresa d’Avila by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1647-1652)
The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even) by Marcel Duchamp (1915-1923)
The Human Condition by René Magritte (1933) & (1935)
The Looking Glass by René Magritte (1963)
Key to Fields by René Magritte (1936)
The Street by Balthus by Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (1933–35))
The Bird Man Collage by Max Ernst (1934), from Une semaine de bonté (“A Week of Kindness”)
The Klein Bottle (1882)
Botanical Monograph of Cyclamen (2 pictures)
Three not on display, as yet:
Bacchus by Caravaggio (1596)
San Giorgio degli Schiavone (Saint George baptizes the Selenites) by Vittore Carpaccio (July 1506)
L’Origine du Monde by Gustave Courbet (1866)
Connection to Sigmund Freud or Jacques Lacan
The Treachery of Images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) by René Magritte (1928–1929),
Seminar VII[i] 3rd February 1960 : p136 of Dennis Porter’s translation : At issue, in an analogical or anamorphic form, is the effort to point once again to the fact that what we seek in the illusion is something in which the illusion as such in some way transcends itself, destroys itself, by demonstrating that it is only there as a signifier.
And it is this which lends primacy to the domain of language above all, since with language we only ever have to do with the signifier in all cases. That is why in raising the problems of the relationship of art to sublimation, …
Seminar IX[ii] 30th May 1962 : pXXII 242 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : This singular ambiguity of an art about what appears in its nature to be able to attach itself to depths and to volumes, to some completeness or other which, in fact, is always revealed as essentially subject to the interplay of planes and of surfaces is something just as important, interesting, as to see also what is absent from it.
St John with Right Finger Pointing by Leonardo Da Vinci (1513-1516)
The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power[iii] : 10th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan, P276 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : …does analysis respond to all the desiderata of demand, and by diffused norms? Who will sweep away this pile of dung from the Augean stables of the psychoanalytic literature?
What silence must the analyst now impose upon himself if he is to make out, rising above this bog, the raised finger of Leonardo’s St John, if interpretation is to rediscover the disinhibited horizon of being in which its allusive virtue must be deployed?
Since it is a question of taking desire, and it can only be taken literally, since it is the nets of the letter that determine, overdetermine, its place as a bird of paradise, how can we fail to demand that the bird-catcher be first of all literate?
The Agency (Insistence or Instance) of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason since Freud[iv] : 9th May 1957 (Sorbonne, Paris) : Jacques Lacan, p150 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : All this, of course, is quite contrary to the appearances suggested by the importance often imputed to the role of the index finger pointing to an object in the learning process of the infant subject learning his mother tongue, or the use in foreign language teaching of so-called ‘concrete’ methods.
Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali (1937)
In 1938 Salvador Dalí met Sigmund Freud in London, bringing with him his painting Metamorphosis of Narcissus.
Seminar IX[v] 13th December 1961 : Jacques Lacan, pV 41 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Why have the imagos discovered by us been in a way banalized?
Is it only through a sort of effect of familiarity? We have learned to live with these ghosts, we are shoulder to shoulder with the vampire, the octopus, we live and breathe in the space of the maternal womb at least metaphorically. The comics for their part also with a certain style, the funny drawing, make these images live for us in a way that was never seen in other ages, carrying with them even the most primordial images of analytic revelation and making of them a day-to-day object of amusement: on the horizon the spineless display and the function of the Great Masturbator preserved in the images of Dali.
Is it because of that alone that our mastery seems to weaken in the instrumental use of these images as revelatory? It is surely not that alone, for projected – as I might say – here into the creations of art, they still preserve what I would call not only their striking but their critical force, they preserve something of their character of derision or alarm but this is not what is in question in our relationship to the person who designates them for us in the actuality of the treatment.
Les Meninas by Diego Velázquez (1656)
Seminar XIII[vi] 11th May 1966, pXVII 200 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : I am speaking about Michel Foucault and this picture by Velazquez which is called Las Meninas.
Seminar XIII 11th May 1966, pXVII 201 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : which represents to us, you see here one leg of the easel, a picture seen back-to-front (à l’envers).
It is on this canvas. He is working on this picture and the picture is turned round (retourné). What do you have to say?
This is the essential plane from which we must start. And what in my opinion Michel Foucault, whom I asked you all to read, in his very remarkable text, has eluded. It is in effect the point around which one has to make turn the whole value, the whole function of this picture.
I would say that this picture is a sort of face down card and we cannot fail to take into account that it is like a face down card, that it takes on its value by belonging to the module and the model of other cards.
This face down card is really constructed there to make you lay down your own. For in effect there was, I cannot fail to mention it, discussion, debate about what is involved in the fact that the painter, Velasquez in this case, is here at a certain distance from the picture, from this picture that is being painted.
The way in which you respond to this question, in which you will lay down your cards, is in effect absolutely essential for the effect of this picture.
This implies this dimension that this picture subjugates.
Seminar XIII 11th May 1966, pXVII 203-204 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : And that this is why it is highlighted for us that, precisely, what constitutes the picture in its essence is not representation, for what is the effect of this picture in the picture: Vorstellungsrepresentanz. It is precisely all these personages that you see precisely in so far as they are not at all representations but that they are showing off (en représentation), that all these personages, whoever they may be, in their status, as they are here effectively in reality, although long dead but they are still there, are personages who are sustained as showing off and with complete conviction, which means, precisely, that none of them represents anything of what they represent. And this is the effect of this something which introduces into the space of the picture, binds them together, crystallises them in this position of being personages on show, personages of the court.
Starting from there, that Velasquez, the painter, should put himself in the middle of them takes on all its sense. But, of course, this goes much further that this simple touch of what one could call social relativism.
The structure of the picture allows us to go well beyond to the truth, to go beyond, it (28) would have been necessary to start from a question, not from a question but from a completely different movement than this movement of the question, which I told you cancelled itself out from the simple fact of the presence of the work itself, but starting from what the work imposes as we see it here, namely, that the same childhood mouth (bouche d’enfance) which is suggested to us by the central character, by this little Infanta who is the second daughter of the royal couple: Philip IV and Dona Marianne of Austria, the little Dona Margherita who was painted fifty times, I would say, by Velasquez, that we should allow ourselves to be guided by this personage who comes, in a way, before us in this space which is for us the question mark as for all of those who have seen this picture, who have spoken about this picture, who have written about this picture, the question mark that it poses us, it is the cries emitted from her mouth, I would say, that it would be well to start from in order to make what I would call the second circuit of the picture and it is the one, it seems to me that is missing in [p204] the analysis of the work of which I spoke earlier: “let me see” (fais voir) what is behind the canvas as we see it from the back, it is a “let me see” which summons him
and that we are more or less ready to pronounce.
… But we do not see only that. We see the structure of the painting, its perspective montage.
… It is at a point more or less situated according to the lines that are traced out between the figure of this personage – for there are slight fluctuations of intersection which are produced – and his elbow that there is situated the vanishing point, and it is not by chance if through this vanishing point, it is precisely this personage and a personage who is leaving.
This personage is not someone indifferent. He is also called Velasquez. Nieto instead of being called Diego-Rodrigues. This Nieto is the person who had some say in the vote which allowed Velasquez to accede to the position of Aposentador of the King, namely, something like a chamberlain or grand marshal. He is, in brief, a sort of personage who reduplicates him and this personage, here, is designated to us because of this since we do not see and of whom we say “let me see”, not alone does he see it from where he is, but that he has, as I might say, seen too much, he is leaving. Is there (30) a better means of designating this high-point as regards what opens out as regards the subject in terms of the function of the eye than something which is expressed by a “seen that” (vu) that is, in a way, definitive.
Henceforth, the presence of Velasquez himself in this position where you have seen him earlier and the second photo being no better than the first, you have not been able to see what you could see on better reproductions and what a thousand authors who have spoken about it have born witness to, namely, that this personage who is looking, people underline, towards us spectators – God knows the amount of speculation that has gone on about the orientation of the look – this person has precisely the look that is least turned towards the outside.
Seminar XIII 11th May 1966, pXVII 205 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Well then, it is something quite striking whose value cannot, in my opinion, be
mapped out except from what I introduced to you in this topological structure.
Two features are to be highlighted: that this look is looking and with respect to it everyone says, it is us, we the spectator. Why believe so much in ourselves? No doubt it summons us to something since we respond in the way that I told you. But what this look implies, just like the presence of the turned picture in the picture, just like this space which strikes all those who look at the picture as being in a way unique and singular, is that this picture extends into the dimensions of what I called the window and designates it as such.
This ensures that, in a corner of the picture, through the picture itself, that is in a way turned onto itself in order to be represented in it, there is created this space in front of the picture which we are properly designated as inhabiting as such, this presentifying (32) of the window in the look of the one who has put himself, not by chance, or in any random fashion in the place that he occupies, Velasquez, this is the point of capture and the specific action this picture exercises on us.
Seminar XIII 11th May 1966, pXVII 206-207 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : with respect to all I evoke for you (36) as regards the relativity of the subject to the other, except that when you want, it is around such an experience that I would highlight for you the strict difference there is between a mirror and the window; two terms precisely which structurally have no relationship.
But let us stick to the picture. The painter is supposed to have painted himself having seen the whole scene of people around him in a mirror. I only see one objection to it: it is that nothing indicates to us from the testimony of history – and God knows this is the sort of news that history charges itself with transmitting – nothing indicates to us that Velasquez was left-handed. Now, this indeed is how we ought to see him appearing if we are to take seriously the fact that, in a painting supposedly made with the help of a mirror, he represents himself as he indeed was in effect, namely, holding his paintbrush in his right hand.
This may appear to you to be a very slight reason. It nevertheless remains that, if this is how things are, this theory would be completely incompatible with the presence here of the King and the Queen. Either it is a mirror that is here, or it is the King and the Queen. If it is the King and the Queen, this cannot be the painter, if the painter is elsewhere, if the King and the Queen are there, it cannot be the painter who is there, as I suppose he effectively was.
Seminar XIII 11th May 1966, pXVII 207-208 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Lacan: In the hypothesis that the King and the Queen, reflected back there in the mirror, were here to have themselves painted by the painter, since I have eliminated the hypothesis that the painter was there otherwise than through the art of his brush, it is necessary that the painter be either here or elsewhere. The requirement that the painter should be there and not on the other side of a mirror, which would be ourselves, lies in the fact of supposing that the King and Queen are in the mirror.
In other words, we cannot put at the same place any two personages whatsoever of this trio which are: a supposed mirror, the King and the Queen, or the painter. We are always forced, in order that this should hold up, to put two of them at the same time, and there cannot be two at the same time.
… If the King and the Queen are there in this hypothesis, then, the painter is here and we find ourselves before the position put forward by tellers of anecdotes, by Madam de Motteville, for example, namely, that the King and the Queen were here – and what is more they are supposed to be standing – in the process of being, of posing and are supposed to have before them the array of all these people whose natural function, you can see, would be if really at this time Velasquez was in the process of painting something quite different to them and, what is more, something that they do not see because they see all of these personages in a position that surround him.
I put forward, in opposition to this obvious impossibility, that what is the essential in what is indicated by this picture is this function of the window. That the fact that the trace is, in a way, marked by that through which the painter can return to it, is really here what shows us how it is there the empty place.
… [p208] that there is here something which in a way gives us the parallel for the “I think, therefore I am” of Descartes; that Velasquez says “I paint, therefore I am”, and I am the one who is leaving you here with what I have done for your eternal interrogation. And I am also in this place from which I can return to the place that I leave you which is really the one where there is realised this effect from the fact that there is a fall (chute) and disarray of something which is at the heart of the subject.
The very multiplicity of interpretations, one might even say their embarrassment, their awkwardness is there sufficiently designed to underline it. But at the other point what do we have? This presence of the royal couple, playing exactly the same role as the God of Descartes, namely, that in everything that we see, nothing deceives on the single condition that the omnipresent God, for his part, is deceived by it. And it is there, the presence of these beings that you see in the so confused and singular (40) atmosphere of the mirror. And this mirror is there, in a way, the equivalent of something which is going to vanish at the level of the subject O who is there, as a pendant of this small (o) of the window in the foreground, would this not deserve our dwelling a little more on it?
Seminar XIII 18th May 1966, pXVIII 212 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :
André Green: In fact what was effaced on that occasion was the person of Velasquez himself, the painter, and the couple…. Today, one can see it better, but the last time, precisely, what was effaced was the personage of the painter and this couple, this couple which appeared to be totally effaced.
I questioned myself about this effacing and I asked myself whether, instead of considering it as a simple inadequacy, we might not consider that this effacement itself signified something, like one of these productions of the unconscious, like a bungled (8) action, like forgetting, and whether there was not here a key, a key which strangely unites the painter and this couple who found themselves in the penumbra, who seemed, moreover, to be uninterested in the scene and to be whispering together.
And it was starting from this reflection that I asked myself whether there was not here something to be explored in connection with this effacing, and the effacing of the trace in the picture, where the planes of light are distinguished in a very precise fashion, by Lacan as well as by Foucault with, notably, the plane of light at the back, of the other Velasquez, the Velasquez at the back, and the plane of light which comes to him from the window.
It is therefore in this between-the-two, in this between the two lights that, perhaps, there would be something to be explored as regards the meaning of this picture.
Seminar XIII 18th May 1966, pXVIII 220 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : is to mark something which escapes, it seems to me, from what I would call the trait of inconsistency of the reciprocal mode of representations in the different fields that you describe to us in order to give an account of the seventeenth and of the eighteenth centuries.
In other words, Velasquez‟ picture is not the representation of, I would say, all the modes of representation, it is, in accordance with a term which of course is only going to be there as a dessert, which is the term on which I insist when I borrow it from Freud, namely, the representative of representation.
Seminar XIII 18th May 1966, pXVIII 224 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : In the world of which the picture was supposed to be the representative, at the time of these so-called primitives, the painter was in his place in the picture.
At the time of Velasquez, he gives the impression of putting himself into it, but you only have to look at him to see – you have underlined it very clearly – the point to which he is in it in a state of absence. He is in it at a certain point that I precisely describe in the fact that one touches the trace of the point from which it comes, from this point for you, for you alone, for I have already said enough for the others, this point that I have not up to the present qualified, which is the other point of presence, the other subject point in the field of the picture, which is this point which is determined, not in the way you were told earlier, but in taking into account precisely the fact that there is a point and a single parallel to the plane of the picture which can in no way be inscribed in the picture. And this indeed is what makes leap to our eyes the degree to which the first presence of the point S on the line at the horizon in the form of any point whatsoever is problematic.
… On the contrary, in taking into account the fact that this line that we determine as the line of intersection of the plane which passes through the point S supposed at the beginning, the intersection with the ground plane, that this line on the figure plane has a translation that is easy to grasp, because it is enough simply to invert (renverser), which appeared to us to be quite natural to admit as regards the relationship of the horizon with the infinite line on the ground plane here in the other arrangement, it appears immediately that this, if you wish, constitutes a horizon line with respect to which the line to infinity of the figure plane will play the inverse function and that, henceforth, it is at the intersection of the fundamental line, namely, of the point where the picture cuts the figure plane, at the intersection of this fundamental line with this line to infinity, namely, at a point at infinity, that there is placed the second pole of the subject.
It is from this pole that Velasquez returns after having split his little group and the line of cleavage which marks there by its passage, you agree, in a way by what forms his model group, sufficiently indicates to us that it is from somewhere, outside the picture, that it has arisen here.
Seminar XIII 18th May 1966, pXVIII 226 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : that the painter is painting in front of a mirror which is supposed to be where we are. It is an elegant solution, unfortunately, it goes completely against this story of the King and the Queen who are at the back because in that case, it would also be necessary for them to be at the place of the mirror. You have to choose.
In short, all sorts of difficulties present themselves, if simply we can maintain that the picture is in the picture as a representation of the love object. Now, this problematic of the distance between the point S and the plane of the picture is properly at the base of the captivating effect of the work.
It is in the measure that it is not a work with a usual perspective, it is a kind of mad attempt which, moreover, is not limited to Velasquez, thanks be to God I know enough painters and, in particular, the one whom I am going to show you something of, like that, to give you a little treat, at the end of this presentation in which I regret (46) that I am always forced to return to the same planes which are too arid, a painter, one of whose works I am going to show you here, as I leave you, one that you can all go to see, moreover, where it is on display, that it is indeed the problem of the painter, and this, consult my first dialectics on this when I introduced the scopic drive, namely, that the picture is a trap for the look, that it is a matter of trapping the one who is there in front and what better way of trapping him than to extend the field of limits of the picture, of the perspective, to the level of what is there at the level of this point S, and what I am calling, properly speaking, what always vanishes, which is the element of fall (chute), the only fall in this representation, where this representative of the representation which is the picture in itself, is this o-object, and the o-object is what we can never grasp and especially not in the mirror, for the reason that it is the window that we ourselves constitute by simply opening our eyes. This effort of the picture to catch this vanishing plane which is properly what we have contributed, all of us, loafers that we are, there at the exhibition, believing that nothing is happening to us when we are in front of a picture, we are caught like a fly in glue; we lower our look as one lowers one’s pants, and for the painter it is a matter, as I might say, of making us enter into the picture.
Seminar XIII 18th May 1966, pXVIII 227 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : And that this interval, this interval between the two planes, the picture plane and (48) the plane of the point S, that this interval which cuts the ground plane into two parallels and by that which in [Georges] Desargues’ vocabulary is called the axle (essieu).
For, what is more, as a way of making himself more unpopular, a vocabulary which was not the same as that of everyone else.
In the axle of the earth what is happening? Certainly not what we will say today and that the picture is made to make us sense this interval, is what is doubly indicated in our relationship to being nabbed by this picture on the one hand, and in the fact that in the picture Velasquez is manifestly so much there in order to mark for us the importance of this distance, that he is not, notice, you must have noticed it but you did not say it – he is not within range, even with his elongated brush, of being able to touch the picture.
Naturally, people say he stood back to see better. Yes. Of course. But after all, the fact that obviously he is not within reach of the picture is here the capital point, in short, that the two key points of this picture are not simply the one who for his part is also escaping …………. towards a window, towards a gap, towards the outside, posed there as if in parallel to the gap in front, and on the other hand Velasquez whose (49) knowledge, what he tells us there is the essential point. I will make him speak in order to end, not to end because I still want you to see Balthus‟ picture all the same, to say things in a Lacanian language since I speak in his place, why not?
Seminar XIII 25th May 1966, pXIX 232-233 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : That is why, when I introduced the question of this picture with the “show me” (fais voir), put in the mouth of the personage to whom we are going to return today, the central personage of the Infanta, Dona Margarita Maria of Austria, “show me”, my reply was first, the one that, in my terms, I gave to the figure of Velasquez, present in (10) the picture: “You do not see me from where I am looking at you”.
What does that mean? As I already put forward, the presence in the picture of what, simply in the picture, is representation, that of the picture itself which, for its part, is there as representative of the representation, has the same function in the picture as a crystal in a super-saturated solution, the fact is, everything in the picture is manifested as no longer being representation but representative of representation.
As it appears, in seeing – do I have to produce this image again – that all the personages who are there, properly speaking, represent nothing to themselves, and precisely not the fact that they represent. Here, the figure of the dog that you see on the right, takes on all its value. None of the other figures, any more than him, does anything other than show off (être en representation), be court figures who mimic an ideal scene where everyone is in his function of showing off, while hardly being aware of it. Again, that here lies the ambiguity which allows us to remark that, as you see on the stage when an animal is brought onto it, the dog, also, is for his part also a very good actor.
“You do not see me from where I am looking at you”: since it is a formula minted in my style that is in question, I will allow myself to point out to you that in my style I did (11) not say: “you do not see me, there, from where I am looking at you” (tu ne me vois pas, là, d’ou je te regarde), that the “there” is elided, this “there” on which modern thinking has put so much accent in the form of the dasein, as if everything were resolved about the function of being open to the fact that there is a being there. There is no “there” that Velasquez, if I make him speak, invokes, in this “you do not see me from where I am looking at you”. In this gaping place, in this unmarked interval, there is precisely this “there”, where there is produced the fall of what is in suspense under the name of o-object. There is no other “there” involved in the picture, than this interval that I showed you in it, expressly drawn, between what I could trace out but that you can, I think, imagine as well as I can of two grooves which would outline the trajectory in this picture, like on a stage in the theatre, of the way in which there arrive these stays or practicables, of which the first is the picture in the foreground, in this slightly oblique line that you see being easily prolonged by seeing simply from the figure of this large object on the left, and the other, traced across the group – I taught you to recognise its furrow – which is the one through which the painter introduced himself as one of the phantasmagoria personages which are made in (12) the great theatrical machinery by having himself placed at the right distance from this picture, namely, a little bit too far for us to be in any ignorance about his intention.
These two parallel grooves, this interval, this axle that this interval constitutes, to take up again the term from the baroque terminology of George Desargues, there and there alone, is the dasein.
That is why one can say that Velasquez the painter, because he is a real painter, is therefore not there to traffic with his dasein, as I might say. The difference between good and bad painting, between the good and the bad conception of the world, is that, just as bad painters never do anything but their own portrait, whatever portrait they do, and that the bad conception of the world sees in the world the macrocosm of the microcosm that we are supposed to be, Velasquez, even when he introduces himself into the picture in a self-portrait, does not paint himself in a mirror, any more than this is done in any good self-portrait.
The painting, whatever it may be, and even the self-portrait, is not a mirage of the painter but a trap for the look. It is therefore the presence of the picture in the picture (13) which allows the remainder of what is in the picture to be freed from this function of representation. And this is why this painting seizes us and strikes us. If this world that Velasquez gave rise to in this painting – and we will see what his project was – if this world is indeed what I am telling you, there is nothing excessive in recognising in it what it manifests, and what it is enough to say for it to be recognised.
What is this strange scene which has had for centuries this problematic function, if not something equivalent to what we know well in the practice of what are called parlour games and what is other than a parlour game, namely a tableau vivant.
These individuals who are here, no doubt, because of the very necessities of the painting projected before us, what are they doing, if not representing to us exactly this sort of group which is produced in this game of the tableau vivant. What is this almost gourmet attitude of the little princess, of the maid on her knees who is presenting to her this strange useless little pot on which she is beginning to put her hand, these others who do not know where to place these looks, which people persist in telling us are there to intersect when it is manifest that none of them meet, these two (14) personages of whom Mr Green made something the other day and among whom, let this be said in passing, he would be wrong to think that the female personage is a religious, she is what is called a guarda damas, as everyone knows, and even that her name is Dona Marcella de Ulora.
Seminar XIII 25th May 1966, pXIX 237-238 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : To whom does it belong in this schema? To the battery of what concerns the subject here in so far as it is involved in the formation of this ideal ego, incarnated here in the vase, of the specular identification on which the ego is based, or indeed to something else, of course, this model is not exhaustive. There is the field of the Other, this field (23) of the Other that you can incarnate in the child’s game, that you see being incarnated in the first references that he makes as soon as he discovers his own image in the mirror, he turns around, to have it, in a way, authenticated by the one who, at that moment, is holding him, is supporting him, or is in the neighbourhood.
The problematic of the o-object remains entire, therefore, at this level. I mean, that of this schema. Well then, do I need to insist very much in order to allow you to recognise, in this picture from the brush of Velasquez, an image that is almost identical to the one that I have presented to you here.
What resembles more this sort of secret object, in a brilliant garment (vêture) which is on the one hand, here, represented in the bouquet of flowers hidden, veiled, taken, encompassed, around this enormous dress of the vase, which is both a real image and a real image seized in the virtual due to the mirror, than the clothes of this little Infanta, the illuminated personage, the central personage, the preferred model of Velasquez who painted her seven or eight times, and you have only to go to the Louvre to see her painted the same year. And God knows that she is beautiful and captivating!
(24) For us analysts, what is this strange object of the little girl that we know well. No doubt, she is already there, in accordance with the good tradition which would have it that the queen of Spain has no legs. But is this a reason for us to ignore it: in the centre of this picture is the hidden object, and it is not because of having the deviant mind of an analyst – I am not here to push you towards a certain easy thematic – but to call it by its name, because this name remains valid in our structural register, and is called the slit (fente).
There are many slits in this picture, it seems, …………….. and we could set about counting them on our fingers beginning with Dona Maria Agostina de Sarniente, who is the one on her knees, the Infanta, the other who is called Isabelle de Velasquez, the idiot, the monster Maria Barbola, Dona Marcella de Ulora also, and then I do not know, I do not find that the other personages are of any other kind than that of being personages to remain in a gyneceum in complete security for those who protect them. The quaint guarda damas, who is on the extreme right, and why not the pooch too, who however much of an actor he may be, seems to me to be a rather tranquil individual. It is really curious that Velasquez should have put himself there, in the middle. He really must have meant it.
(25) But going beyond this anecdote, what is important is the contrast of the fact that this whole scene, which is only supported by being caught in a vision and seen by the personages who, I have just underlined for you, see nothing because of their position. [p238] Everyone turns their back on them and only presents to them in any case what is not to be seen there.
Now, everything is also only sustained by the supposition of their looks. In this gap there lies, properly speaking, a certain function of the Other, which is precisely that in which the soul of a monarchical vision at the moment that it empties itself, just as on several occasions, as regards the conception of the classical, omnipresent, omniscient, all-seeing God, I ask you the question: “Is this God able to believe in God, or does this God know that he is God?”.
In the same way, what is inscribed here in the structure, is this vision of an other who is this empty other, pure vision, pure reflection, what is seen, properly speaking, at the mirror-like surface of this other void, of this other complementary to the “I think” of Descartes, as I underlined it, of the other in so far as it is necessary that he should be there to support what does not need him in order to be supported, namely, the truth which is there, in the picture, as I have described it for you.
(26) This other void, this God of an abstract theology, pure articulation of a mirage, the God of Fenelon’s theology, linking the existence of God to the existence of the ego, is here the point of inscription, the surface upon which Velasquez represents for us what he has to represent for us.
But as I told you, in order for this to hold together, it remains that it is necessary that there should also be the look. This is what is forgotten in this theology, and this theology still lasts in so far as modern philosophy believes that a step forward has been taken with Nietzsche’s formula which says that God is dead. So what?
Has this changed anything? God is dead, everything is allowed, says this old imbecile called Karamazov père or indeed Nietzsche, we all know well that ever since God is dead, everything is as always in the same position, namely, that nothing is lost, for the simple reason that the question at stake is, not the vision of God and his omniscience, but the place and the function of the look. Here, the status of what has become of God’s look has not been volatilised. That is why since I was able to speak to you as I did about Pascal’s wager since, as Pascal says, “we are all committed”, and the story of this wager still holds up.
(27) And that we are still playing ball between our look, God’s look, and some other tiny objects like the one that the Infanta presents us with, in this picture.
Seminar XIII 1st June 1966 : pXX 249 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : I am going, to end today, and in order simply to provide a point of scansion, to evoke in a form which will have the advantage of showing you the polyvalence of recourses that one has at the level of structure, evoke for you another just as topological a shape which will crosscheck with the paradigm, the exemplification that I gave you of this scopic structure at the level of Las Meninas.
I am going to end my lecture today, in order to find a finishing point, on what I presented to you as the amusing joke of the King sticking the Cross of Santiago on the chest of the painter in the picture Las Meninas, whether or not it was, as legend says, by putting his own hand to the brush.
This little feature, if I am to believe the echoes, has moved some good souls in the gathering here, who see in it a secret allusion to what I myself have to carry around. Let these good souls be consoled, I do not feel myself to be crucified, and for a simple reason, which is that the cross from which I began, that of the two lines which divide the picture of Las Meninas, the one which goes from the horizon point which loses itself, passing through the door, the person who is leaving, to the foreground at the foot of the big picture, the representative of the representation, and the other line, the one which starts from Velasquez’s eye in order to go towards the extreme left, where it connects up with its natural locus where I situated it, namely at the line to infinity of the picture, are two lines which, quite simply, and however crossed they may appear, do not cross one another for the good reason that they are on different planes. So that, if it is a cross that I have to deal with in my relationship with the analysts, namely, it has been represented to you like that in an interrupted fashion.
We have therefore two lines which are not on the same plane. Well then, you should know, it is a little discovery, made a very long time ago by people who are occupied [p250] with what are called conics, that one takes as an axis any third line whatsoever between these two preceding ones, which are thus like that, and one turns the shole lot like a top, what is produced?
… I would ask you to picture to yourselves what is called a diabolus. In other words a surface modelled in this way except for the fact that, of course, since it is a straight line, it goes off to infinity.
Seminar XIII 25th May 1966 : pXIX 239 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : In place of his object, the painter, in this work, in this object that he produces for us, has placed something which is made up of the Other, of this blind vision which is that of the Other, in so far as it supports this other object.
(28) This central object, the split, the little girl, the girl = phallus, which is what, moreover, I earlier designated for you as the slit.
What is involved in this object? Is it the object of the painter or in this royal couple whose dramatic configuration we know, the widower king who marries his niece, everyone is amazed (s’esbaudit), twenty-five years in the difference. It is a good gap in age but perhaps not when the husband is around forty years old. We have to wait a little.
And, between the two of this couple where we know that this impotent king preserved the status of this monarchy which, like his own image, is no longer but a ghost and a shadow, and this woman, jealous, as we also know from contemporary testimony, when we see that in this picture which is called The King’s Family, even though there is another one, who is twenty years older, called Marie-Thérèse and who will marry Louis XIV. Why is she not there if it is the family of the King? It is perhaps because the family means something different. It is well known that etymologically, family comes from famulus, namely, all the servants, the whole household. It is a household well centred, here on something. on something which is the little Infanta, the o-object, (29) and we are going here to remain on the question in which it is brought into play, in a perspective on subjectification as dominant as that of a Velasquez, of whom I can only say one thing, which is that I regret having abandoned its field in the Meninas this year, since moreover, you see clearly that I also wanted to talk to you about something else.
When there is produced this something which is not of course the psychoanalysis of the King since, first of all, it is the function of the King that is in question and not the King himself.
When there appears, in this perfect shot, this central object where there come to join together, as in Michel Foucault’s description, these two crossed lines which divide up the picture in order to isolate for us, in the centre, this brilliant image.
Is this not done so that we analysts, who know that here is the meeting point of the end of an analysis, should ask ourselves how, for us, there is transferred this dialectic of the o-object, if it is to this o-object that there is given the term and the rendezvous in which the subject must recognise himself. Who ought to provide it? Him or us?
(30) Do we not have as much to do as Velasquez did in his construction? These two points, these two lines which cross one another, bearing in the very image of the picture, this frame of the setting, the two up-rights (montants) which cross one another.
This is where I want to leave suspended the rest of what I will have to tell you, but not without adding to it this little feature. It is curious that if I end on the figure of the cross, you might tell me that Velasquez is wearing it on this kind of blouse with slashed sleeves in which you see him dressed.
[p240] Well then, you are going to learn something that I thought was very good. Velasquez had demonstrated (demontré) for the King the setting of this world which depends entirely on phantasy. Well then, in what he first painted, he did not have a cross on his chest and for a simple reason which is that he was not yet a chevalier of the order of Santiago. He was named about a year and a half later and one could only wear it eight months after that. In any case that brings us, all of that brings us to 1659. He died in 1660 and the legend says that after his death, it was the King himself who came, through some subtle revenge, to paint this cross on his chest.
Seminar XIII 15th June 1966 : pXXII 275 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : … where we find ourselves, with the subject, in this position in respect to the field of the Other, that everything that concerns his relationship to jouissance, has to come to him through the mediation of what is linked to the Other, and which is presented in this way as linked to a certain function which is not without being the ……………. since, moreover, what the apparatus illustrated, for example, by Las Menenas, from the structure which was produced by Velasquez, demonstrates to us. Let us say that in the apparatus of perspective and of the look, we can conceive, make coexist, not just the reason why this narcissistic register coexists.
My whole first effort of teaching was to detach it from the articulation it has, that not only how they can coexist but how at the level of a certain object, the look, one can provide the key for the other and the look as the effect of ……….. …. to be the true principle, the true secret of narcissistic capture.
Seminar XIII 15th June 1966 : pXXII 282 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : The position of the analyst in the session with respect to his patient is certainly not to be this disturbing pole linked to what you call the reality principle. I believe that it is necessary all the same to come back to this thing which is really constitutive, which is that his position demands nothing, and because one knows where the subject is coming from, especially when he is neurotic, one gives him what he does not demand. Now, what is to be given is one single thing and one single o-object. There is a single o-object which is in relationship with this demand which is specified as being the demand of the other, this object that for its part one also finds in the heavens, in the between-the-two where the look has also fallen, the eyes of Oedipus and ours before the picture by Velasquez when we see nothing in it, in this same space, it rains shit (il pleut de la merde). The object of the dreams of the Other, we know it by the structure and the history, after the demand to the Other, the demand for the breast, the demand which comes from the Other, and which establishes discipline and which is a stage in the formation of the subject, it is to do that, to do that in time and in the proper form. It rains shit, the expression is not all the same going to surprise psychoanalysts who know something about it. People speak about nothing but that, after all. But, after all, it is not because people speak only about that, that one everywhere perceives where it is.
The Sistine Madonna by Raphael [Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino] (1513-1514)
Fragment of an analysis of a case of hysteria : 1901  : Sigmund Freud, SE VII p96 : A painting by Raphael Sanzio, located in Dresden from 1754-1945. In ‘Part III: The Second Dream’ of his case study, Freud describes Dora’s response to the painting: “She remained two hours in front of the Sistine Madonna, rapt in silent admiration. When I asked her what had pleased her so much about the picture she could find no clear answer to make. At last she said: ‘The Madonna.’” Available bilingual, from www.Freud2Lacan.com /homepage (FRAGMENTS OF AN ANALYSIS OF A CASE OF HYSTERIA, 1905 (Bruchstűck einer Hysterie-Analyse) (Dora))
Seminar IV[vii] 23rd January 1957, p9-10 of Alma Buholzer, Ganesh Anantharaman, Greg Hynds, Jesse Cohn & Julia Evans’ translation : Through an interest in her own question, Dora views Mr. K to be someone who participates in what symbolises, in the case, the dimension of the question in Mrs. K’s presence. That is, again, this adoration expressed by a quite obvious symbolic association, given in the case study – namely, the Sistine Madonna.
Derby Day by William Powell Frith (1858)
Note : On Saturday 5th April 1997, in London, during his seminar, Vincente Palomera posed the following question : Does anyone know of a picture, possibly at a racecourse, which includes the three card trick? Subsequently, I suggested that this is the picture. Julia Evans
The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power[viii] : 10th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan, p265-266 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : To arrive at this stage, he was shown how at every moment he manipulated the situation so as to protect the Other, by exhausting in the working-through (Durcharbeitung) all the artifices of a verbalization that distinguishes the other from the Other (with a small o and a capital O), and which, from the box reserved for the boredom of the Other (capital O) makes it arrange the circus acts between the two others (the petit a and the ego, its shadow). …
And so our subject has come to the end of his tether, to the point at which he can play a rather special three-card trick on us, in that it partially reveals a structure of desire.
The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein (1553)
Seminar VII[ix] 3rd February 1960 : p135 of Dennis Porter’s translation : It is an object that embodies an anamorphosis. I assume that many of you know what that is. It is any kind of construction that is made in such a way that by means of an optical transposition a certain form that wasn’t visible at first sight transforms itself into a readable image. The pleasure is found in seeing its emergence from an indecipherable form.
Such a thing is extremely widespread in the history of art. Just go to the Louvre; you will see Holbein’s painting of The Ambassadors and at the feet of one of the two men, who is just as well built as you or I, you will see an enigmatic form stretched out on the ground. It looks roughly like fried eggs. If you place yourself at a certain angle from which the painting itself disappears in all its relief by reason of the converging lines of its perspective, you will see a death’s head appear, the sign of the classic theme of vanitas. And this is found in a proper painting, a painting commissioned by the ambassadors in England, who must have been very pleased with his work; and what was at the bottom must have amused them a lot, too.
This phenomenon is datable. It was in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that things reached this point of heightened interest and even of fascination.
Seminar VII 10th February 1960 : p151 of Dennis Porter’s translation : You are aware that the mirror function, which I thought it necessary to present as exemplary of the imaginary structure, is defined in the narcissistic relation. And the element of idealizing exaltation that is expressly sought out in the ideology of courtly love has certainly been demonstrated; it is fundamentally narcissistic in character. Well now, the little image represented for us by this anamorphosis permits me to show you which mirror function is involved.
It is only by chance that beyond the mirror in question the subject’s ideal is projected. The mirror may on occasion imply the mechanisms of narcissism, and especially the diminution of destruction or aggression that we will encounter subsequently. But it also fulfills another role, a role as limit. It is that which cannot be crossed. And the only organization in which it participates is that of the inaccessibility of the object. But it’s not the only thing to participate in that.
Seminar IX[x] 30th May 1962 : pXXII 242 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : I already remarked that there is apparently only signifier, every surface where it is inscribed being supposed to it. But this fact is in a way imaged by the whole system of the Beaux-Arts which illuminates something which introduces you to questioning the architecture, for example on this ticket which makes it appear to you why the perspective is so reducibly trompe-l’oeil. And it is not for nothing that I also put the accent in a year whose preoccupations seemed to me to be very distant from properly aesthetic pre-occupations, on the anamorphose, that is to say for those who have not been here before – the use of the flight of a surface to make appear an image which is unrecognisable when unfolded, but which, from a certain point of view is gathered together and imposes itself.
Seminar XI 26th February 1964 : p88 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : Now, in The Ambassadors—I hope everyone has had time now to look at the reproduction—what do you see? What is this strange, suspended, oblique object in the foreground in front of these two figures?
The two figures are frozen, stiffened in their showy adornments. Between them is a series of objects that represent in the painting of the period the symbols of vanitas. … [P89] This picture is simply what any picture is, a trap for the gaze. In any picture, it is precisely in seeking the gaze in each of its points that you will see it disappear. I shall try to develop this further next time.
Seminar XI[xi] 4th March 1964 : p92 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : For us, the geometral dimension enables us to glimpse how the subject who concerns us is caught, manipulated, captured, in the field of vision.
In Holbein’s picture I showed you at once—without hiding any more than usual—the singular object floating in the foreground, which is there to be looked at, in order to catch, I would almost say, to catch in its trap, the observer, that is to say, us. It is, in short, an obvious way, no doubt an exceptional one, and one due to some moment of reflection on the part of the painter, of showing us that, as subjects, we are literally called into the picture, and represented here as caught. For the secret of this picture, whose implications I have pointed out to you, the kinships with the vanitas, the way this fascinating picture presents, between the two splendidly dressed and immobile figures, everything that recalls, in the perspective of the period, the vanity of the arts and sciences—the secret of this picture is given at the moment when, moving slightly away, little by little, to the left, then turning around, we see what the magical floating object signifies. It reflects our own nothingness, in the figure of the death’s head. It is a use, therefore, of the geometral dimension of vision in order to capture the subject, an obvious relation with desire which, nevertheless, remains enigmatic.
What is the desire which is caught, fixed in the picture, but which also urges the artist to put something into operation? And what is that something?
A Pair of Shoes by Vincent van Gogh (1886)
Seminar VII[xii] 22nd June 1960 : p297 of Dennis Porter’s translation : You must imagine Professor D . . .’s clodhoppers ohne Begriff, with no thought of the academic, without any connection to his endearing personality, if you are to begin to see Van Gogh’s own clodhoppers come alive with their own incommensurable quality of beauty.
They are simply there; they communicate a sign of understanding that is situated precisely at equal distance from the power of the imagination and that of the signifier. This signifier is not even a signifier of walking, of fatigue, or of anything else, such as passion or human warmth. It is just a signifier of that which is signified by a pair of abandoned clodhoppers, namely, both a presence and a pure absence – something that is, if one likes, inert, available to everyone, but something that seen from certain sides, in spite of its dumbness, speaks. It is an impression that appears as a function of the organic or, in a word, of waste, since it evokes the beginning of spontaneous generation.
That factor which magically transforms these clodhoppers into a kind of reverse side and analogue of two buds proves that it is not a question of imitation – something that has always taken in those who have written on the topic – but of the capture, by virtue of their situation in a certain temporal relationship, of that quality through which they are themselves the visible manifestation of beauty.
Statue of St Teresa d’Avila by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1647-1652)
Seminar XX[xiii] 20th February 1973 : PVII 19-20 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : it is all the same a bit funny, this must all the same form part of perverse enjoyment. But for the Hadewijch in question, for Saint Theresa! Anyway, let us say the word all the same, and then what’s more you only have to go to look, in a certain church in Rome, at the statue by Bernini to understand immediately, in short what! That she is having an orgasm (qu’elle jouit), there is no doubt about it! And what is she enjoying? It is clear that the essential testimony of the mystic, is precisely to say that: that they experience it but that they do not know anything about it.
The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even) by Marcel Duchamp (1915-1923)
– is an artwork over 9 feet tall and almost 6 feet wide. Duchamp worked on the piece from 1915 to 1923 in New York City, creating two panes of glass with materials such as lead foil, fuse wire, and dust.
Chapter VI : The Dream-Work, (G) Intellectual Activity in Dreams of The Interpretation of Dreams[xiv], SEIV p458 : This, then, was the origin of my attempted explanation to the effect that I had changed carriages while I was in an un conscious state; it had been carried over ready-made into the dream from the material of the dream-thoughts, and was evidently intended in the dream to serve the purpose of identifying me with the figure of this patient.
(I) Secondary Revision, SEIV p498 : … emphasizes the fact that dreams with an accelerated passage of ideas have the common characteristic of seeming specially coherent, quite unlike other dreams, and that the recollection of them is summary far more than detailed. This would indeed be a characteristic which ready-made phantasies of this kind, touched upon by the dream-work, would be bound to possess, though this is a conclusion which the writers in question fail to draw. I do not assert, however, that all arousal dreams admit of this explanation, or that the problem of the accelerated passage of ideas in dreams can be entirely dismissed in this fashion.
Seminar II[xv] 11 May 1955, p215 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation : In most cases, these are ready–made thoughts. And to …
Seminar VII[xvi] 27th January 1960 : p118 of Dennis Porter’s translation : You cannot fail to see that in the celebrated expression of Picasso, “I do not seek, I find,” that it is the finding (trouver), the trobar of the Provençal troubadours and the trouvères, and of all the schools of rhetoric, that takes precedence over the seeking.
Seminar XIII[xvii] 25th May 1966, pXIX 231 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : It is the representative of the representation in the mirror. It is not, in its essence as being, the representation. And modern art illustrates this for you: a picture, a canvas, with a simple piece of shit (7) on it, a real piece of shit, for after all what else is a big splash of colour? And this is manifested in a provocative fashion, in a way, by certain extremes of artistic creation. Duchamp’s ready made is as much a picture as it is a work of art, namely, moreover, the presentation before you of a portmanteau hanging on a rod.
It is structure different to any representation. It is in this connection that I insist on the essential difference constituted by this term of representative of the representation, Vorstellungsrepresentanz, borrowed from Freud.
The Third[xviii] 1st November 1974, p66 of Yolande Szczech’s translation : the ready- made, Marcel Duchamp, of which you understand at least something—the main thing is wordplay, that’s where you should aim your interpretation at, in order not to be the one that nurtures the symptom with meaning.
Seminar XVII[xix] 17th June 1970 : pXV 46 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : What is generated by the fact that one fine day a psychoanalysand commits himself to be a psychoanalyst?
This is what I tried to articulate when I spoke about The Psychoanalytic Act. My seminar that year, it was 1968, I interrupted before the end, in order, like that, to show my sympathy with the disturbances that were taking place and which continue in a moderate way. Contestation makes me think of something that was invented one day, if I recall correctly by my good and now dead friend Marcel Duchamp: “The bachelor makes his own chocolate”. Take care that the agitator is not making his own chocolate [is not being swindled?]. In short, this Psychoanalytic Act remained at a sticking point, if I can put it like that. And I have not had the time to come back to it, especially as examples of what it leads to are breaking out all around me.
The Human Condition by René Magritte (1933) & (1935)
The Looking Glass by René Magritte (1963)
Key to Fields by René Magritte (1936)
Jacques Lacan references all three paintings in ‘Journées Provinciales, Annuale 1962-1963 – Introduction to the Seminar on Anguish (l’Angoisse not Anxiety) : 21st October 1962 : Jacques Lacan[xx]’ according to Serge Leclaire, (Psicoanalizar, Siglo Veintiuno Editores, México, 1970, p. 13).
Ricardo E. Rodríguez Ponte notes Leclaire’s reference to the paintings by Magritte. He writes in Footnote 4,
Serge Leclaire reports that in these Days on the Fantasy of October 21, 1962, and through the example of paintings by Magritte of the type of The Telescope, The Human Condition, The Key to the Fields, etc., “in which a window, open or closed, is inscribed in the painting”, Lacan illustrated at one point the structure of fantasy c.f. Serge Leclaire, Psicoanalizar, Siglo Veintiuno Editores, México, 1970, p. 13.
Jacques Lacan attached great importance to this lecture, referring to it on three occasions in Seminar X 1962-63.
Seminar X[xxi] 19th December 1962 : pVI 49 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Those who heard my intervention at the Journées provinciales on phantasy, the text of which intervention I am still waiting for after two months and a week, may recall that I used as a metaphor a painting which is placed in a window frame, an absurd technique no doubt, if it is a matter of better seeing what is on the painting, but as I also explained to you, it is not exactly this that is involved, it is, whatever may be the charm of what is painted on the canvas, not to see what can be seen through the window.
The Street by Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski de Rola) (1933–35)
Seminar XIII[xxii] 18th May 1966 : pXVIII 227-228 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Velasquez is manifestly so much there in order to mark for us the importance of this distance, that he is not, notice, you must have noticed it but you did not say it – he is not within range, even with his elongated brush, of being able to touch the picture.
Naturally, people say he stood back to see better. Yes. Of course. But after all, the fact that obviously he is not within reach of the picture is here the capital point, in short, that the two key points of this picture are not simply the one who for his part is also escaping …………. towards a window, towards a gap, towards the outside, posed there as if in parallel to the gap in front, and on the other hand Velasquez whose (49) knowledge, what he tells us there is the essential point. I will make him speak in order to end, not to end because I still want you to see Balthus’s picture all the same, to say things in a Lacanian language since I speak in his place, why not?
In reply to “Let me see”: “You do not see me from where I am looking at you” (tu ne me vois pas d’ou je te regarde). It is a fundamental formula to explicate what interests us in every relationship of looking, it is a matter of the scopic drive and very precisely in exhibitionism as well in voyeurism, but we are not here to see whether, in the picture, people are tickled nor whether something is happening.
We are here to see how this picture inscribes for us the perspective of the relationships of the look in what is called phantasy is so far as it is constitutive. There is great ambiguity about this word phantasy. Unconscious phantasy, all right, that is an object. First of all it is an object in which we always lose one of the three pieces that are in it, namely, two subjects and one (o). Because do not believe that I have the illusion that I am going to bring you the unconscious phantasy as an object. Without that, the drive of the phantasy would spring up elsewhere. But what is disturbing, is that every time (50) people speak about unconscious phantasy, they also speak implicitly about the phantasy of seeing it. Namely, that the hope, from the fact that people are chasing it, and this introduces a lot of confusion into the matter. I, for the moment, I am trying to give you, properly speaking, what is called a frame (bati), and a frame which is not a metaphor, because unconscious phantasy depends on a frame, and it is this frame that I do not despair, not only of making familiar to those who listen to me but of making it get under their skin. This is my goal and this is an absolutely risky exercise which, for some people, appears to be derisory, that I am pursuing here, and that you only hear distant echoes of.
I am now going to pass around among you, thanks to Gloria, Monsieur Balthus’s image. There is a Balthus exhibition on at the moment. It is at the Pavillon de Marsan, I am giving you the information free. For a modest sum, you can all go and admire this painting.
Well then, it is a little homework that I am giving to some people. I am giving them the whole vacation for it. Let us see. Look at this picture. I hope to get some reproductions of it but it is not very easy. I owe this one to Madam Henriette Gomez who happened, it was moreover for her astonishing, who found that she had it in her (51) filing index. There you are, there is a slight difference in the picture that you will see, you see, contrary to what happens in Velasquez because obviously there are questions of epoch.
Here, in this picture, people are being tickled a little and to ensure the tranquillity of the present owner this hand has been slightly raised by the author.
I showed it to him again last evening, I must say that he told me that, all the same, it was very much better composed like that. He was sorry for having made a concession that he thought he ought to ……….., it was a sort of counter-concession. He said : “After all, perhaps I am doing that to annoy people, so why not drop it”, but it is not true. He had put it there because it ought to be there. In any case, all the other things which are there ought also to be there and, when all is said and done, when I saw this picture, I had seen it once previously and I no longer remembered it, but when I saw it this time, in this context, you will attribute this to what I do not know, to my lucidity or to my delusion, you have to decide, I said: ”That is Las Meninas”. Why is this picture Las Meninas? This is the little piece of holiday homework then that I am leaving to the best of you.
The Bird Man Collage Max Ernst (1934)
The Bird Man Collage is from Une semaine de bonté (“A Week of Kindness”) is a collage novel and artist’s book by Max Ernst, first published in 1934. It comprises 182 images created by cutting up and re-organizing illustrations from Victorian encyclopaedia and novels.
Seminar XI[xxiii] 6th May 1964, p169 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : … the montage of the drive is a montage which, first, is presented as having neither head nor tail—in the sense in which one speaks of montage in a surrealist collage. If we bring together the paradoxes that we just defined at the level of Drang, at that of the object, at that of the aim of the drive, I think that the resulting image would show the working of a dynamo connected up to a gas-tap, a peacock’s feather emerges, and tickles the belly of a pretty woman, who is just lying there looking beautiful. Indeed, the thing begins to become interesting from this very fact, that the drive defines, according to Freud, all the forms of which one may reverse such a mechanism. This does not mean that one turns the dynamo upside-down—one unrolls its wires, it is they that become the peacock’s feather, the gas-tap goes into the lady’s mouth, and the bird’s rump emerges in the middle.
Seminar XIII 11th May 1966, pXVII 203-204 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : … But we do not see only that. We see the structure of the painting, its perspective montage.
Seminar XX[xxiv] 21st November 1972 : pI 25 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : What then is at stake in love?
As psychoanalysis puts forward with an audacity that is all the more unbelievable as its whole experience goes against it, that what it demonstrates is the contrary, love is to make One. It is true that people talk about nothing but that for a long time, about the One. Fusion, Eros, is supposed to be a tension towards the One.
There is something of the One. It is on this that I supported my discourse last year, and certainly not to contribute to this original confusion, that of desire which only leads to aiming at the gap in (6) which it can be shown that the One only stems from the essence of the signifier.
If I examined Frege at the start, it was to try to show the gap there is between this One and something which depends on being, and behind being, on enjoyment.
Love. I can all the same tell you through a little example, the example of a parakeet that was in love with Picasso. Well then, that could be seen from the way he nibbled on the collar of his shirt and the flaps of his jacket. This parakeet was in effect in love with what is essential to man, namely, his attire. This parakeet was like Descartes for whom men were clothes walking about (en proménade), if you will allow me. Naturally, it is pro, that promises the maenad, namely, when you take them off. But it is only a myth, a myth that has converged with the bed mentioned earlier. To enjoy a body when there are no more clothes is something that leaves intact the question of what constitutes the One, namely, of identification. The parakeet identified with the clothed Picasso.
[p26] It is the same for everything involved in love. In other words, the habit loves the monk because it is through it that they are all one. In other words, what is under the habit and what we call the body, is perhaps only in the whole affair this remainder that I call the little o- object. What holds the image together is a remainder. And what analysis shows is that love in its essence is narcissistic, that the yarns about the objectal is something whose substance it knows how to expose precisely in what is the remainder in desire, namely its cause, and what sustains it, in its dissatisfaction, indeed its impossibility.
The Klein bottle (1882)
The concept of a Klein bottle was first described in 1882 by the German mathematician Felix Klein.
Seminar XIII[xxv] : 15th December 1965 : pIII 15, 24-25 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation
Seminar XIII : 19th January 1966 : pVII 96 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation
In the development that I shall have to pursue on the subject of structure, the one that I shall bring in again, after having introduced it last year in the shape that it has for the moment, it is a fact, that is what it is called, it is the Klein bottle, will allow there to be structured in a decisive fashion what I mean here about the relationship of the subject to the other.
Seminar XIII : 9th March 1966 : pX 134 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation
Seminar XIII : 23rd March 1966 : pXII 148 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation
Seminar XIII : 20th April 1966 : pXIV 155 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation
Seminar XIII : 27th April 1966 : pXV 175-176 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : We will retain then, in this function, only the character of jouissance and jouissance which is not yet defined or justified. But this will allow us to comprehend, provided we notice the analogy between the shape of the Klein bottle, as I might say, if in fact one can speak about the shape, but after all, since I draw it, it has a shape, if I represent it in a shape that is inverted with respect to what you normally see, in the drawing that I called its opening, its circle of reversion, the Klein bottle appears above as the point made earlier. This circle of reversion, where I already taught you to find the nodal point of these two aspects of the subject as they can be joined together from the affronting of the stitching of the being of knowledge to the being of truth, I also told you that this was the place where we ought to inscribe, precisely, as a conjunction between one and the other, what we call the symptom, and it is one of the most essential foundations
not to be forgotten about what Freud always said about the function of the symptom, the fact is that, in itself, the symptom is jouissance.
Seminar XIII : 1st June 1966 : pXX 241 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Above all, I spoke about topological elements, and topological elements in which in short, I have not, up to the present, in an explicit fashion, completely highlighted where to put this o-object. Naturally, those who listen carefully to me were able, more than once, to gather that the o-object is a topological structure, the one that I imaged for you by the figures of the torus, the cross-cap, the mitre, even the Klein bottle, one can detach it from them with a pair of scissors.
Cyclamen Botanical Drawing 1 & Cyclamen Botanical Drawing 2
Two illustrations included in the slider. The first illustration is a coloured botanical drawing, as in Freud’s dream. The second is an Art Nouveau design element for decoration, in black and white, Cyclamen Flower Drawing (1898) Monatsheft, published by Velhagen, 1898. It is included as showing the substrata hidden under the first illustration.
-Chapter V, The Material and Sources of Dreams, (A) Recent & Indifferent Material in Dreams of The Interpretation of Dreams[i], SEIV p165 : But in order to show the regularity with which such a connection can be traced, I will go through the records of my own dreams and give some instances. I shall only quote enough of the dream to indicate the source we are
(1) I was visiting a house into which I had difficulty in gaining admittance . . .; in the meantime I kept a lady WAITING.
Source: I had had a conversation with a female relative the evening before in which I had told her that she would have to wait for a purchase she wanted to make till . . etc.
(2) I had written a MONOGRAPH on a certain (indistinct) species of plant.
Source: That morning I had seen a monograph on the genus Cyclamen in the window of a book-shop. [See below,p. 169 ff.]
(3) I saw two women in the street, A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER, the latter of whom was a patient of mine.
Source: One of my patients had explained to me the previous evening the difficulties her mother was putting in the way of her continuing her treatment.
[p166] (4) I look out a subscription in S. and R.’s bookshop for a periodical
costing TWENTY FLORINS a year.
Source: My wife had reminded me the day before that I still owed her twenty florins for the weekly household expenses.
(5) I received A COMMUNICATION from the Social Democratic COMMITTEE, treating me as though I were a MEMBER.
Source: I had received communications simultaneously from the Liberal Election Committee and from the Council of the Humanitarian League, of which latter body I was in fact a member.
(6) A man standing on A CLIFF IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEA, IN THE STYLE OF BÖCKLIN.
Source: Dreyfus on the Île du Diable; I had had news at the same time from my relatives in England, etc.
-SEIV p169 : But why this preference for recent impressions? We shall form some notion on this point, if we submit one of the dreams in the series I have just quoted [p. 165] to a fuller analysis. For this purpose I shall choose the
DREAM OF THE BOTANICAL MONOGRAPH
I had written a monograph on a certain plant. The book lay before me and I was at the moment turning over a folded coloured plate. Bound up in each copy there was a dried specimen of the plant, as though it had been taken from a herbarium.
That morning I had seen a new book in the window of a book-shop, bearing the title The Genus Cyclamen–evidently a monograph on that plant.
Cyclamens, I reflected, were my wife’s favourite flowers and I reproached myself for so rarely remembering to bring her flowers, which was what she liked. The subject of ‘bringing flowers‘ recalled an anecdote which I had recently repeated to a circle of friends and which I had used as evidence in favour of my [p170] theory that forgetting is very often determined by an unconscious purpose and that it always enables one to deduce the secret intentions of the person who forgets.
-Chapter VI – The Dream-Work, A The Work of Condensation : SE IV p281-282 : In order to get some light on this question we must turn our attention to those elements of the dream-content which must have fulfilled these conditions. And the most favourable material for such an investigation will be a dream to the construction of which a particularly intense process of condensation has contributed. I shall accordingly begin by choosing for the purpose the dream which I have already recorded on p. 169 ff.
THE DREAM OF THE BOTANICAL MONOGRAPH
CONTENT OF THE DREAM. – I had written a monograph on an (unspecified) genus of plants. The book lay before me and I was at the moment turning over a folded coloured plate. Bound up in the copy there was a dried specimen of the plant.
The element in this dream which stood out most was the botanical monograph. This arose from the impressions of the dream-day: I had in fact seen a monograph on the genus Cyclamen in the window of a bookshop. There was no mention of this genus in the content of the dream; all that was left in it was the monograph and its relation to botany. The ‘botanical monograph’ immediately revealed its connection with the work upon cocaine which I had once written. From ‘cocaine’ the chains of thought led on the one hand to the Festschrift and to certain events in a University laboratory, and on the other hand to my friend Dr. Königstein, the eye surgeon, who had had a share in the introduction of cocaine. The figure of Dr. Königstein further reminded me of the interrupted conversation which I had had with him the evening before and of my various reflections upon the payment for medical services among colleagues. This conversation was the actual currently active instigator of the dream; the monograph on the Cyclamen was also a currently active impression, but one of an indifferent nature. As I perceived, the ‘botanical monograph’ in the dream turned out to be an ‘intermediate common entity’ between the two experiences of the previous day: it was taken over unaltered from the indifferent impression and was linked with the psychically significant event by copious associative connections.
Not only the compound idea, ‘botanical monograph’, however, but each of its components, ‘botanical’ and ‘monograph’ separately, led by numerous connecting paths deeper and deeper into the tangle of dream-thoughts. …
Seminar I[ii] 7th February 1954, p152 of John Forrester’s translation : Between anerkennen and agnoszieren, there’s all the difference between what we understand and what we know, a difference which nonetheless bears the mark of a fundamental ambiguity. See how Freud himself analyses for us the celebrated dream of the botanical monograph in the Traumdeutung. The further we get the more we see how inspired these initial approaches towards the meaning of the dream and its scenario actually were.
Seminar I 30th June 1954, p269 of John Forrester’s translation : Take the first dream which Freud discusses in the chapter on condensation, the dream of the botanical monograph, already summarised in the chapter on the material and sources of dreams. It is a wonderful demonstration of everything I am telling you. No doubt, with his own dreams, Freud never gets us to the heart of the matter, but it is not very difficult to guess at it.
THE FOLLOWING THREE PAINTINGS ARE NOT INCLUDED ON THE SLIDER
Bacchus by Caravaggio (1596)
Seminar XI[iii] 11th March 1964 : p111 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : If the birds rushed to the surface on which Zeuxis had deposited his dabs of colour, taking the picture for edible grapes, let us observe that the success of such an undertaking does not imply in the least that the grapes were admirably reproduced, like those we can see in the basket held by Caravagio’s Bachus in the Uffizi. If the grapes had been painted in this way, it is not very likely that the birds would have been deceived, for why should the birds see grapes portrayed with such extraordinary verisimilitude? There would have to be something more reduced, something closer to the sign, in something representing grapes for the birds. But the opposite example of Parhasios makes it clear that if one wishes to deceive a man, what one presents to him is the painting of a veil, that is to say, something that incites him to ask what is behind it.
It is here that this little story becomes useful in showing us why Plato protests against the illusion of painting.
San Giorgio degli Schiavone (Saint George baptizes the Selenites) by Vittore Carpaccio (July 1506)
Seminar VII[iv] 30th March 1960 : p202 of Dennis Porter’s translation : But when the notion of part object is articulated in that way, we imply that this part object only wants to be reintegrated into the object, into the already valorised object, the object of our love and tenderness, the object that brings together within it all the virtues of the so-called genital stage. Yet we should consider the problem a little differently; we should notice that this object is necessarily in a state of independence in a field that we take to be central as if by convention. The total object, our neighbour, is silhouetted there, separate from us and rising up, if I may say so, like the image of Carpaccio’s San Giorgio degli Schiavone in Venice, in the midst of a charnel house figure.
L’Origine du Monde by Gustave Courbet (1866)
This painting was owned by Jacques Lacan and used to hang behind a wooden sliding door in his country house in Guitrancourt. Silvia Macklès, Lacan’s wife, charged her brother in law, André Mason, with the task of hiding such a potentially troublesome work-of-art. The carved picture on the wooden door is André Masson’s draft of the painting behind the actual sliding door.
[Note : When I started to look, I did so with the confidence that Direction & Seminar VII contain the word ‘cunt’. I thus thought they had relevance to this painting which I do not think will ever be elevated into the slider. When I started to put these references together below, the word ‘cunt’ disappeared. The following are the nearest I can find, and this disappearance is niggling me. JE ]
The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power[v] : 10th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan : p266 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : In fact, the redistributions of the libido are not brought about without certain objects losing their function, even if they are non-detachable.
In short, he is impotent with his mistress, and, having taken it into his head to use his discoveries about the function of the potential third person in the couple, he suggests that she sleeps with another man to see.
But if she remains in the place given her by the neurosis and if the analysis effects her in that position it is because of the agreement that no doubt she long ago made with the patient’s desires, but still more with the unconscious postulates that were maintained by those desires.
And it will come as no surprise to learn that without stopping, even at night, she has this dream, which, freshly minted, she brings to our unfortunate patient.
She has a phallus, she feels its shape under her clothes, which does not [p267] prevent her from having a vagina as well, nor, of course, from wanting this phallus to enter it.
Seminar VII[vi] 10th February 1960, p141 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Thus, as I say, the interest of anamorphosis is described as a turning point when the artist completely reverses the use of that illusion of space, when he forces it to enter into the original goal, that is to transform it into the support of the hidden reality – it being understood that, to a certain extent, a work of art always involves encircling the Thing.
This also allows us to approach a little closer to the unanswered question on the ends of art: is the end of art imitation or non-imitation? Does art imitate what it represents? If you begin by posing the question in those terms, you are already caught in the trap, and there is no way out of remaining in the impasse in which we find ourselves between figurative and so-called abstract art.
We can only sense the aberration that is articulated in the unyielding position of the philosopher; Plato places art at the lowest level among human works, since for him everything that exists only exists in relation to the idea, which is the real. Everything that exists is already no more than an imitation of a more-than-real, of a surreal. If art imitates, it is shadow of a shadow, imitation of an imitation. You can, therefore, see the vanity of the work of art, of the work of the brush.
That’s a trap one must not enter. Of course, works of art imitate the objects they represent, but their end is certainly not to represent them. In offering the imitation of an object, they make something different out of that object. Thus they only pretend to imitate. The object is established in a certain relationship to the Thing and is intended to encircle and to render both present and absent.
Everybody knows this.
Seminar VII 9th March 1960, p161-162 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Arnaud Daniel wrote a poem on the oddest of those relations of service that I told you about between the lover and his Lady; it is a whole poem that is distinguished by the fact that, much to the delight of a number of startled writers, it breaches the boundaries of pornography to the point of scatology. … [Poem p162] :
… You should praise God, against whomsoever seeks to dissuade you, that he helped you escape from that.
Yes, he escaped from a great peril with which his son also would have been reproached and all those from Cornil. He would have done better to go into exile than to have blown in that funnel between spine and mount pubic, there where rust coloured substances proceed. He could never have been certain that she would not piss all over his snout and eyebrows.
Lady, may Bernart never venture to blow that trumpet without a large bung to stop up the penile hole; then only could he blow without peril.
This quite extraordinary document opens a strange perspective on the deep ambiguity of the sublimating imagination. One should first note that all the poetic works of the trouvères and troubadours have not come down to us, and that we only find some of Arnaud Daniel’s poems in two or three manu-[p263]scripts. Yet this poem, whose literary merit goes far beyond what a translation is able to reveal, not only was not lost but is to be found in some twenty manuscripts. We have other texts which show that two other trouvères, Trumalec and Raymond de Durfort, participated in this debate, arguing on the other side, but I won’t go into that.
We find ourselves here faced with a sudden reversal, a strange reaction. Heaven knows that Arnaud Daniel went a long way in the direction of lending the greatest subtlety to the pact between lovers. Doesn’t he push desire to the extreme point of offering himself in a sacrifice that involves his own annihilation? Well, he is the very same one who turns out to have written a poem, however reluctantly, on a subject that must have concerned him in some way for him to have taken so much trouble with it.
The idealized woman, the Lady, who is in the position of the Other and of the object, finds herself suddenly and brutally positing, in a place knowingly constructed out of the most refined of signifiers, the emptiness of a thing in all its crudity, a thing that reveals itself in its nudity to be the thing, her thing, the one that is to be found at her very heart in its cruel emptiness. That Thing, whose function certain of you perceived in the relation to sublimation, is in a way unveiled with a cruel and insistent power.
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