The aim of this seminar is to bring Lacan’s thought out of the warren where it has been confined for many decades. Unearthing it should not be seen as a kind of ‘Lacan for Idiots’, but a way of bringing into play what Manuel Asensi calls its heuristic paradoxes, At the point where the social impulse of those who believe in a future radical democracy meets the Lacan who shouted at students in May 1968 that what they really wanted was a Master, Lacan’s theory is a key means for achieving emancipatory objectives. Asensi’s re-reading challenges interpretations that see Lacan as a metaphysician (Derrida), a paranoiac (Deleuze and Guattari), an advocate of the discourse of the Master (Zizek) or a patriarchalist (Mulvey). Nobody can be impervious to the profound subversion of the subject carried out first by Freud, and continued intensely and radically by Lacan. This subversion went hand in hand with an overhaul of the political subject and of the subject of angst, with Lacanian therapy being one of the ultimate tools for revolutionising our position in the world. The seminar will introduce the basic Lacanian concepts and then bring the entire field into play, opening up concepts such as sexuality, the clinic, politics, and the central issue of desire.


3, 4, 7 AND 8 JULY, FROM 6 TO 9 pm

Venue: Meier Auditorium.
Seating: 160 places available.
Fee: Free admission. Advance registration required.
Booking: From 19 June.

Session 1
Thursday 3 July

’Linguisterics’ as an introduction to the Lacan’s basic concepts.

The first session will explain why the inversion of the communication model – upheld by modernity and by contemporary linguistics – provides a point of entry into the profound subversion of the traditional subject. Graph I (on the relationship between subject and signifier) and Graph II (the one in the joke) will be used as a means to understand the basic Lacanian concepts. Lacanian narrative and the process by which identity is formed. From the imaginary phallus to the symbolic phallus. What do metaphor and metonymy mean in Lacan?

Session 2
Friday 4 July

The notion of the unconscious in the contract between Freud and Lacan.

In this session we will look at Lacan’s famous claim that ‘the unconscious is structured like a language’ and show how it has been profoundly misinterpreted. The questions that we will explore through Graph III (the graph of the unconscious) are: Why is there an unconscious? How does the existence of the unconscious affect the action of a subject? When Lacan talks of the ‘Other’, what is he referring to? Can we make a distinction between an Other and an other? Is the Other a Master? What is it with the Master? What can we do with him or with it?

Session 3
Monday 7 July

Need, demand, and desire. A critique of therapy

In this session we will focus on the distinction between the psychological self (moi) and the self emptied of desire (je) and introduce Graph IV, which deals with the discourse of the Other. We will look at the three ‘times’ of Oedipus and the meaning of the three orders of Lacanian theory: the real, the imaginary and the symbolic. Lacan’s resignification of Freud’s theory of narcissism introduces a political dimension with regard to the split identity of the subject. During the session we will explore Lacanian therapy compared to Freudian and Deluzian-Guattarian approaches, and try to explain its profoundly liberating sense.

Session 4
Tuesday 8 July

Drives and sexuality in Lacan.

Starting from the Lacanian notion of ‘the ghost’, we will explore what Lacan himself called ‘the deconstruction of the (Freudian) drive’, in order to highlight his conception of sexuality and its roles. This will allow us to introduce the difference between joissance and pleasure, and to understand the virtues of sadomasochism. What is the relationship between love and sex? Why does Lacan represent the most radical atheist position in 20th and 21st century philosophy? And, lastly, to finish up for the time being, we will analyse the notions of the scopic function and of perversions.

General biography
Participants are encouraged to avoid reading anything ‘about’ Lacan, and to read only the texts ‘written’ by him, even if they are difficult to understand. This incomprehension form part of Lacanian theory and practice. As such, the suggested reading list will only contain works by Lacan. Participants will be given a dossier containing the Lacanian graphs that will be discussed during the seminar.

- Lacan, Jacques (1966). Escritos. Mexio: Siglo XXI. From volume 1, read (or don’t): «El estadio del espejo como formador de la función del yo tal y como se nos revela en la experiencia psicoanalítica», «Función y campo de la palabra y del lenguaje en psicoanálisis», «La instancia de la letra en el inconsciente freudiano o la razón desde Freud», and «Subversión del sujeto y dialéctica del deseo en el inconsciente freudiano». From volume 2, «El seminario sobre “la carta robada”».

- LACAN, Jacques (1975). Los escritos técnicos de Freud 1953-1954. Buenos Aires-Barcelona, 1981. El seminario de Jacques Lacan, Libro 1.

- LACAN, Jacques (1964). Los cuatro conceptos fundamentales del psicoanálisis. Buenos Aires-Barcelona: Paidós, 1987. El seminario de Jacques Lacan, Libro 11.

- LACAN, Jacques (1998). Las formaciones del inconsciente. Buenos Aires-Barcelona: Paidós, 1987. El seminario de Jacques Lacan, Libro 5, 1999.

MACBA Public Programs
Tel. 93 481 33 58
pei [at] macba [dot] cat



Lacan in performance


Lacan for Multitudes: ’Linguisterics’ as an introduction to the Lacan’s basic concepts
Lacan for Multitudes: The notion of the unconscious in the contract between Freud and Lacan.
Lacan for Multitudes: Need, demand, and desire. A critique of therapy
Lacan for Multitudes: Drives and sexuality in Lacan