Seminar: Dr. Mavis Himes

Title: Desire and its Interpretation

Desire begins to take shape in the margin in which demand rips away from need, this margin being the one that demand – whose appeal can be unconditional only with repect to the Other – opens up in the guise of the possible gap need may give rise to here, because it has not satisfaction. A margin which, as linear as it may be, allows its vertiginous character to appear, provided it is not trampled by the elephantine feet of the Other’s whimsy.

Lacan,  Ecrits (814)

What desire has to confront, is this fear that it will not maintain itself under its present form, that as an artefact (artifex), if I may thus express myself, it will perish. But of course this artefact which is the desire that man feels, experiences as such, this artefact can only perish with regard to the artifice of his own speech

Lacan, Seminar VI, 17.12.58.

Le desir, (Freud’s wunsch) translated into English as desire, is one of the central concepts in Lacan’s elaborations. Unlike Freud’s wish, whether conscious or unconscious, desire, according to Lacan, is always unconscious and is determined by the fact that as a speaking being, man is forever separated by language from his desire. And further, the desire of the speaking subject is always the desire of the Other. 

In his seminar Desire and its Interpretation, Lacan elaborates his conception of desire which is also developed in his paper “Subversion of the Subject.“ In the seminar, Lacan engages with a dream by Ella Sharpe and Shakepeare’s Hamlet in order to more fully develop his ideas about desire and its relation to both the mother and the phallus. Moving away from Freud’s notion of desire for the mother, Lacan will turn towards a reading which turns Hamlet’s desire into desire of the mother, that is desire for another man, demonstrating how desire becomes intertwined with the other from the beginning.

In our reading, we will explore such questions as: How is desire recognized, interpreted and maintained? What is the relation between drive and desire? How does unconscious desire differ from conscious desire? We will also attempt to articulate desire and its relation to a number of other key concepts: need, demand, fantasy, castration and the phallus.

Suggested Readings

Lacan, J. “The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire in the Freudian Unconscious,” in Ecrits. 

Lacan, J.  Selected handouts from Seminar VI, Desire and its Interpretation

Time & Location

Date: Saturday, May 7, 2011

Time: 9:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m.

Place: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (O.I.S.E.), 252 Bloor St. W. (at St. George St.)

Room: 8-200

Fees: $20.00 per session  (students - $10.00)

Please RSVP by e-mail or call 416-969-8706
Payment and receipt at the door

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