An uncanny feeling takes hold, while reading the first pages of lesson 18 of Lacan’s Ethics Seminar , entitled “The function of the beautiful”. Am I in a time warp? Is this about today, the 24th of February 2022? How is this possible?
Lacan asks: “Have we crossed the line […] in what is happening out there in the world in which we live?” where “[…] you can hear outside the awful language of power.”
And he answers. The worst is possible “because the possible is what can answer man’s demand, and because man doesn’t know what he is setting in motion with his demand. The frightening unknown on the other side of the line is that which in man we call the unconscious, that is the memory of those things he forgets […] i.e. stench and corruption …”
What is the possible? It is that which is met with the words ‘it’s not possible, this can’t be possible’ – at the moment where it stops not writing itself. But the possible is also what the perverse desire can achieve.
“The possibility of a second destruction has suddenly become a tangible reality for us…That is why, when we ask what is beyond the barrier erected by the structure of the world of the good – where is the point on which this world of the good turns, as we wait for it to drag us to our destruction – our question has a meaning that you would do well to remember has a terrifying relevance.”
“It is nevertheless the case that Sade’s extraordinary catalogue of horrors […] is nothing at all compared to what will be seen on a collective scale, if the great and very real explosion occurs that threatens us all.”
“Not perverts but bureaucrats will set things off […] Things will go off by command…”
Today, on the 24th of February 2022, we may ask: Has the erstwhile cold war, the memory forgotten, just been placed in the microwave? It’s possible.
1. Lacan, J. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII (1959-1960). Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translated by Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992, 231-233.