Jacques Lacan’s Confrontation with a Young Rebel: Classic Moment, 1972

This is fascinating to watch.

On October 13, 1972, the charismatic and controversial French theorist and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan is giving a lecture at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, when a young man with long hair and a chip on his shoulder walks up to the front of the lecture hall and begins making trouble. He spills water and what appears to be flour all over Lacan’s lecture notes and then stammers his way into a strange speech that sounds as if it were taken straight out of Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle:

“The composite body which up to fifty years ago could be called ‘culture’– that is, people expressing in fragmented ways what they feel — is now a lie, and can only be called a ‘spectacle,’ the backdrop of which is tied to, and serves as, a link between all alienated individual activities. If all the people here now were to join together and, freely and authentically, wanted to communicate, it’d be on a different basis, with a different perspective. Of course this can’t be expected of students who by definition will one day become the managers of our system, with their justifications, and who are also the public who with a guilty conscience will pick up the remains of the avant-garde and the decaying ‘spectacle.'”

The 71-year-old Lacan never loses his composure. (His cigar appears bent out of shape, but it was that way from the beginning.) The audience, too, retains a certain Gallic nonchalance. Dangerous Minds sums it up in the headline “The Single Most ‘French’ Moment in all of 1972: Jacques Lacan Accosted, But No One Stops Smoking.” The scene is from Jacques Lacan Speaks, a one-hour documentary by Belgian filmmaker Françoise Wolff. You can watch the complete film, which includes Lacan’s extended and rather cryptic response to the incident and other excerpts from the lecture, followed by Wolff’s interview with Lacan the following day, in our post: “Charismatic Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan Gives Public Lecture (1972).”

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via Literary Kicks

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