The Other is Not Enough: Becoming Afraid, Being Anxious, and Antiphilosophy in Book X of the Seminar of Jacques Lacan

Authors: David B. Clarke*, Swansea University, Marcus Doel*, University of Wales, Swansea
Topics: Geographic Thought, Geographic Theory
Keywords: Anxiety, Freud, Lacan, Unconscious, Geopsychoanalysis
Session Type: Paper

Working from a close reading of Book X of Jacques Lacan’s Seminar (1962–63) – on Anxiety (anguish or dread) – this paper offers a detailed exegesis with an eye towards space and spatiality. Specifically, it draws out notions of distancing and displacement in Lacan’s conception of the impossible object of anxiety as ‘too close for comfort.’ The paper focuses on two key dimensions that have been taken up in the secondary literature on Lacan’s Seminar X, most notably by Colette Soler and Brian Robertson. The first is Lacan’s conceptualization, vis-à-vis Freud’s, of affect (Affekt), representation (Vorstellung), and the difficult-to-translate Vorstellungsrepräsentanz – the ‘representative of the representation’ or ‘non-representative representative’ by means of which something that bypasses consciousness is relegated to the unconscious (forming its nucleus) in Freud’s primal repression (Urverdrängung). It is by way of the unconscious that Lacan distinguishes his conception of anxiety from the positions adopted by Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The second dimension relates to the sense in which Lacan’s seminar on anxiety might be seen as performing an antiphilosophy. Here we will aim to draw out the significance of the act (as opposed to meaning: e.g. ‘acting out’) in distinction to the event – particularly in relation to the category of truth and the work of Alain Badiou. The paper will thereby offer a new assessment of the relations between the cartographical and topological imaginations of geography and psychoanalysis, and reflect on the pertinence of Jacques Derrida’s notion of geopsychoanalysis.

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