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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

Michel Fou­cault: Free Lec­tures on Truth, Dis­course & The Self

John Sear­le on Fou­cault and the Obscu­ran­tism in French Phi­los­o­phy

Phi­los­o­phy with a South­ern Drawl: Rick Rod­er­ick Teach­es Der­ri­da, Fou­cault, Sartre and Oth­ers

Der­ri­da: A 2002 Doc­u­men­tary on the Abstract Philoso­pher and the Every­day Man

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