||To resume again...
A Reading of the Seminar From an Other to the other
J - A
Towards a New Concept of Existence
35 Propositions from Logiques des mondes
The Element of Sacrifice in Romantic Love
Lacanian Psychoanalysis and Revolutionary Marxism
Materialism, or the Inexistence of the Big Other
Toril Goksøyr and Camilla Martens
This is to say that I would like simply to introduce a historic factor into the debate on psychoanalysis and art. In truth, Lacan already envisaged it. In this regard, a remark in Seminar VII seems to me to be somewhat unrecognized. Lacan said at this time: "There is no correct evaluation possible of sublimation in art if we do not think that every production of art, especially of the Beaux-Arts, is historically dated. One does not paint in Picasso's epoch as one painted in Velasquez's epoch, one does not write a novel any more in 1930 like one wrote in the time of Stendhal." I have the strange impression that psychoanalysts have remained blind and deaf to this remark and this dimension, and that one generally treats the concept of sublimation as a transcendental concept, eternal, universal and intangible, entirely unconnected in any case from the history of art and of the historicity of works of art. Sublimation seems more often approached by psychoanalysts as a "psychological" structural mechanism, which is found thereby, in essence, to be entirely disconnected from art and from any object, and a fortiori from any historicity of art and of objects of art. From prehistoric man painting the walls of his cave to the young graffiti artist of the banlieue covering the walls of his street to Leonardo da Vinci painting a fresco, the psychoanalyst lets fly his unique arrow: sublimation. One can on occasion denounce a certain lack of power in the concept to capture a real, or vituperate against its abusive usages; it seems, however, not to be something that should be incessantly reworked, remodeled according to the epoch, commensurate with the variability itself of what one calls Art in every epoch. One must say that the notion itself of Art has this grievous effect of characterizing a supposedly circumscribed domain, an apparently homogeneous ensemble, of constituting a One Art, when it is in truth an inconsistent One. One should, moreover, emphasize strongly that the notion of Art does not truly have relevancy for Lacan, for whom there exists works and artists, but for whom "Art" as such does not exist. Art, suggests Jacques-Alain Miller, is only what one calls art. Whatever it may be, for psychoanalysts the notions of art and of artists seem most often treated like fixed entities, as if they were definite categories and concepts, immobile and trans-historical. I include in this idea that, even if psychoanalysts admit that the concept of sublimation-for which, as we know, Freud did not accept all the attendant developments-should be re-examined, they think all the same, contrary to Lacan, that Picasso, Velasquez, Bruce Nauman and Damien Hirst come from the same reformed sublimation.
Art: Janine Antoni
Tangent - C-print, 2003
courtesy Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York City.
Subscribe to Lacanian Ink click here.
Purchase Lacanian Ink click here.