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Jacques Lacan: The Death of an Intellectual Hero Paperback – September, 1984


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (September 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674471164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674471160
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,536,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mike VINE VOICE on January 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've read Lacan. Unlike a lot of the post-structuralists who are pure gibberish (e.g. Derrida), he has his moments - notably the mirror stage, notions of Hegelian Other applied to analysis, and his conception of the language of the unconscious. Good luck finding them, though. He was one of the worst writers in all of human history. I've read Hegel's Phenomenology and Heidegger, so I'm not exactly inexperienced with dense writing of the Continental variety, either.

It doesn't end there either - to boot, several of his lectures and writings are either nonsensical (including my favorite explanation of all time in "the signification of the phallus" - the phallus passes over the signifier, whatever that means) or demonstrate a very poor knowledge of geometry or other things outside his field (which famously led to caricature in the whole Sokal affair). The Borromean knot and later use of the torus are particularly egregious examples of that. The author of this book, apart from a demonstrated ignorance of set theory, doesn't write like Lacan or other acolytes like Judy Butler, et al, though. He is fairly even handed and mentions criticism of the excessive theory surrounding this concept that many Lacanians deem sacrosanct.

This review isn't about Lacan though, it's about this book. The author manages to mention all the most interesting aspects of the drama in the French academy during Lacan's life and summarize the salient points Lacan makes in his often obscure works. He also talks about the short session and something I thought was very interesting called "the pass" - the training exam for Lacanian analysts. He writes in a lively, energetic style and I honestly couldn't put the book down.
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Format: Paperback
At the time this book was published in 1983, Stuart Schneiderman "has taught English at SUNY (Buffalo) and psychoanalysis at the University of Paris (Vicennes), practices Lacanian analysis in New York." He has also written Returning to Freud: Clinical Psychoanalysis in the School of Lacan, Rat Man, Saving Face: America and the Politics of Shame, etc.

He admits, "Lacan's writings are so difficult of access that readers generally can't get enough of a grip on the material to formulate their own judgments. The responsibility for this is necessarily Lacan's. He seems to have gone to great lengths to prevent people from finding out what he had to say... Yet nothing obliges us to follow Lacan through the realm of the abstruse. If his theory has validity, one should be able to articulate it with clarity and precision. This is a task I have set myself." (Pg. vi-vii)

He notes, "Lacan always insisted on being thought of as a Freudian psychoanalyst." (Pg. 3) He adds, "it is a waste of time to attempt to categorize him within the system of psychiatric classification. We know that this system has its faults and that, fine-tune it as we may, there are certain things that must fall outside of the realm of the psychopathological ... From a Lacanian perspective, normality is the apotheosis of psychopathology, since it is basically incurable." (Pg. 16)

He observes, "The original rationale for Lacan's seminar was to teach psychoanalysts how to read Freud.
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