New Spring Semester for the Lacan Guided Reading Group

It is time for a new semester at the Lacan Guided Reading Group. Our spring semester will begin on the 5th of March (19:15) and, as was festively announced last week, will involve the reading of two chapters in Lacan’s Seminar XX: On Feminine Sexuality, the Limits of Love and Knowledge (Encore)  (1972-1973).

(Collage: Jorge Chamorro)

“The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’” (Freud)

Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) was a French psychiatrist who has been dubbed the most controversial psychoanalyst since Freud. Calling for a “return to Freud” in mid 20th century Europe, Lacan had re-conceptualized psychoanalysis in such ways that deeply impacted psychotherapy and philosophy up until this day. One of the major topics Lacan chose to penetrate in his teaching is the notion of sexual difference. Freud, in his account of sexual difference, argued that the whole range of human sexuality is solely determined on the basis of the phallus. Accordingly, he inferred that there is only one form of libido—masculine libido. Going beyond Freud’s rendition of feminine libido in his notion of “penis envy,” Lacan provided a subversive account of a singular form of feminine enjoyment in his teaching. He argued that, while masculine subjects only have access to phallic enjoyment (“enjoyment of the Idiot”), feminine subjects are “not-all” (pas-tout) subsumed by the phallus and have access to another form of enjoyment “beyond the phallus.” Lacan’s Seminar XX is devoted to the exploration of such an evasive mode of enjoyment that Freud found it impossible to know anything about. 

In the Lacan Guided Reading Group, we will trace Lacan’s train of thought concerning masculine and feminine enjoyment by reading two chapters from this seminar entitled: “God and Woman’s Jouissance” and “A Love Letter.” What is an enjoyment beyond the phallus? What is so mystifying about feminine enjoyment? And what is knowledge of sexual difference? 

Join us for the reading of Jacques Lacan’s Seminar XX: On Feminine Sexuality, the Limits of Love and Knowledge (Encore) (1972-1973).

Format:

The reading of Lacan is done together as a group and is facilitated by Leon Brenner. No prior reading is required before our gatherings. We read the text slowly, trying to delve into each paragraph, deciphering Lacan’s unique style and extracting very straightforward and non-metaphorical ideas. Other than learning about the psychoanalysis of Lacan, we will also be learning how to read Lacan—a challenge in itself. Make sure to come with a receptive and light-hearted mood—the goal is to enjoy this reading together (if we want to). Reading material will be distributed in each session.

Group sessions will be held every Tuesday, 19:00 – 20:30 (March 3, 12, 19 & 26; April 2, 9, 16 & 30; May 7, 14, 21 & 28; More to be announced).

Facilitator:

Leon Brenner is a teacher and a scholar specializing in the fields of Lacanian psychoanalysis, contemporary French philosophy and autism theory. Brenner has graduated with the highest honor a B.A and M.A in Psychology and Philosophy. His doctoral dissertation concerns the subject of autism in philosophy and is entitled, The Autistic Subject: On the Threshold of Language. Brenner has received two excellence awards as a junior university teacher: the University Rector excellence award, and the Deanship excellence award. He is currently engaged in several scholarly and artistic projects in Berlin and is a resident instructor at Stillpoint Spaces Berlin.

Address: 

The entrance to The Lab of Stillpoint Spaces Berlin is directly from the street Hobrechtstraße 66 – front building, ground floor (Vorderhaus, EG). We kindly ask you to arrive at least 15 minutes before the official beginning of the reading group. Please, do not ring on any of the doorbells, as our colleagues might be having counseling sessions.

I hope to see you all in our new semester.

Leon Brenner

 

October Lecture Series in Stillpoint Spaces, Berlin

Dear readers,

I am happy to invite you to a lecture series I will be conducting at Stillpoint Spaces, Berlin, this October. The series revolves the conception of the subject in Freud’s and Lacan’s work. The lectures will take place every Tuesday, starting at 19:00, at Hobrechtstrasse 66, 12047 Berlin. You are all very much invited.

Please see a brief introduction to the materials deliberated in the lectures:

Many times in our lives we want to do or have something so bad, but something inside of ourselves seems to stop us. But who is it that stops us from, “finishing a degree”, “finding love”, “parting with our lovers”, or “finding a job”? Jacques Lacan offers us an intriguing answer to these questions – it is the subject of the unconscious. In this lecture series, we will try and understand who is the subject of the unconscious in psychoanalysis. Through the mechanism of repression, and the initial split between conscious and unconscious, through ego and libido development, the mirror stage, and the differentiation between neurosis and psychosis, we will try and see what Lacan says about the subject.

A learning module with Leon Brenner

Tuesdays (October 10, 17, 24, 31), 19:00 – 20:30

Lecture I: Repression and the subject of the unconscious
Tuesday, October 10, 19:00 – 20:30

Repression might be the most fundamental mechanism in the history of psychoanalysis. More than defining it as a defense mechanism, it is considered to constitute the structure of our subjectivity by marking a division between the conscious and unconscious. In this lecture, we will try and understand the progression of the concept of repression in psychoanalysis. From Freud’s initial definition of repression as a neurotic defense to Lacan’s analysis of repression in the constitution of the subject of the unconscious. How can the subject be split between the conscious and the unconscious and yet not be divided? What is repressed in repression? Does every subject repress? What is the “return of the repressed”? We will try and see the function of repression in everything that is human experience.

Lecture II: Ego, Libido, and the Sexuated Subject
Tuesday, October 17, 19:00 – 20:30

The theory of the subject in psychoanalysis is accompanied by the theory of ego and libidinal development. Freud has described several stages in this development of the ego, and attributed them to several stages in the development of the sexual drive. In this lecture, we will try and understand the theory of ego and libidinal development and its relation to the constitution of the subject in psychoanalysis. From auto-eroticism to narcissism and object love, we will try and understand the ways in which the subject is situated in the world as a sexuated being. We will demonstrate how a fixation on a specific stage of ego and libidinal development can foreshadow the subject’s unique mental structure, and define its personality and capacity for love.

Lecture III: The Mirror Stage
Tuesday, October 24, 19:00 – 20:30

The mirror stage is Lacan’s most famous conception in the English speaking world. Based on a subversive lecture given at the Fourteenth International Psychoanalytical Congress in 1936, the mirror stage has developed along Lacan’s teaching up to his latest seminars. The mirror stage conveys Lacan’s attempt to reconceptualize a large portion of the Freudian theory, especially in relation to the initial constitution of the subject and the stages of ego and libidinal development. It incorporates Lacan’s unique elaboration of the three registers of the symbolic, real and imaginary, and emphasizes the role of the symbolic Other in every person’s initial subjective structure. In this lecture we will try and understand the intricacies of this conception, emphasizing its explanatory strength in our understanding of the subject in psychoanalysis.

Lecture IV: The Subject in Neurosis and Psychosis
Tuesday, October 31, 19:00 – 20:30

Lacan’s theory of the subject does not only deal with the constitution of the subject, it also offers several structures through which the subject can be related to clinically. Taking root in Freud, Lacan offers three such subjective structure in the clinic of the 20th century – the neurotic, perverse and psychotic subject. In this lecture, we will try and elaborate on two of these structures – the neurotic and psychotic structures. Branching from the theory of repression and the understanding of ego and libidinal development, we will try and differentiate the two, providing a clearer picture as to their way of being. Through their relation to language, to the Other, and the mirror, we will mark a structural distinction that will put the many symptoms – neurotic and psychotic – in a new perspective.

All the best,

Leon