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philosophy and psychoanalysis
    ISSN 1751-8229 Volume Eleven, Number Two Lacan's Fantasy: The Birth of the Clinical Concept   Kirk Turner, Deakin University, Australia Abstract  The Lacanian concept of fantasy is an essential locus for the conception of subjectivity and reality in the work of Slavoj ! i ek, particularly in his initial English texts from 1989–2002 (roughly from his first major book, The Sublime Object of Ideology  , to Welcome to the Desert of the Real  ). Whilst looked at creatively in its various guises and extended beyond clinical applications in his vast oeuvre – e.g. toward the exploration of the social, in terms of ideological fantasy foremost, to fuller elaborations in The Plague of Fantasies  and beyond  – the conceptual heritage (from philosophical analogues to Freud's definitions and ruminations; to Freud's followers, particularly Klein; to the early works of Lacan, i.e. the scattered articles of the 1930s and 1940s as well as Family Complexes ; and to a strictly Lacanian definition of fantasy developed in the early seminars) is in need of fleshing out within contemporary scholarship. To this end, and as part of a larger project currently underway, in the following we will trace the somewhat staggered development of the concept of fantasy in Lacan's initial meetings held at le Centre hospitalier Sainte-Anne between 1953 and 1961 where 'fantasy' as subjective component (as opposed to fantasies, fantasizing as such, etc.) was truly born. Ultimately, the understanding of this trajectory and the changing significations involved in conceptual evolution can broaden our insight into Lacan's (and therefore ! i ek's) theoretical methodology as well as their insistence on retaining the category of subject in the philosophical tradition.    [N.B.: While the focus of the article is clearly (and almost solely) Lacan's work, emphasis has been placed on elements crucial to ! i ek's formulation of the subject: e.g. why is it that 'Reality' is a fantasy-construction ( ! i ek 1989: 45)?; how are we immersed in 'reality' (structured and supported by the fantasy) ( ! i ek 2002: 17)?; and how did the formula of fantasy (e.g. ! i ek 1989: 44, 128, 235; ! i ek 1991: 234; ! i ek 1997: 160) come into being?] Lacan's Return to Fantasy Within an announced retour to the personage of Freud, teased out in discussions for his students, concretized and condensed in written speeches and articles, how do we come to the level, announced at the end of the Transference  seminar of 1960–1961, that the notion of fantasy   developed by the man from Vienna and upheld yet altered by his early followers is for Lacan represented by, and indeed equated with, the algebraic elements of a formula (Lacan 1960–1961: 5/31/61)? And, moreover, how does it come, this growing, evolving concept, toward the end of the 1960s to be seen as providing/possessing a logical consistency? What is its role in the constitution of human subjectivity and the relation between 'man' and his 'reality' with which it interferes? Up to the beginning of the 1950s, 'fantasy' was a somewhat peripheral term in the Lacanian edifice, used sparingly in written articles and mostly in a Freudian or quasi-Kleinian manner (favourite fantasies; obsessive fantasies; fantasmatic fears, etc.). 1  By the time we reach what is considered the first seminar in 1953 (and one can only assume, due to the paucity of records, in the two previous years of student dialogues on Dora and the Wolf Man held privately in Paris, that the level of development consisted of a similar elaboration), a nuance will be provided wherein fantasy shifts from the Freudian register, is bounced off against the Kleinians, 'Anna Freudians' and other established analysts, and assumes the quality of a Lacanian concept proper. That is not to say that it is simply defined and remains unchanged, as any reader of Lacan's works from separate eras or even between separate texts must recognize. Lacan here already, in 1953, to an audience which is initially primarily students enrolled in his program (this will soon change of course, with an increase in infamy), however slowly and sparingly it may seem, problematizes the role of fantasy vis-à-vis reality, the 'real' (albeit not yet the real as order) and adjustment in the   # clinical setting. The overarching issue at this stage, it seems, is the body (and hence 'self') considered as ideal totality, reflected in the general relation of man to natura mater  , which itself is a great fantasy : akin to the supposed   fit in the animal world of species and environment (itself suspicious, ultimately), there is an assumed concordance between living being as whole and its surroundings which simply does not exists but which nevertheless plays a substantial role in human thought and the (re)construction of one's external world (Lacan 1988a: 149).  Against this view, Lacan maintains that the human is srcinally and inextricably dislodged   due, in a process from birth (which, however, also proceeds the subject, as can be inferred from his discussions of the symbolic 2 ), – defined as a state of helpless immaturity – to the role of an inherent specular dialectic with the other (Lacan 1988a: 148), i.e. subjection to/in the imaginary dimension (see Evans 2006: 84–85 for a basic overview) and the consequences of what he comes to define as the 'dual relation' [ relation duelle ], between ego and alter ego which disrupts the maturity of the libido in man, disrupts the smooth fitting together of reality and the imaginary (Lacan 1988a: 149). Thus man for Lacan is never, and can never be, conceivable as isolable or a totality and sexuality is moreover an 'unstuck' element in this problematic constitution (see Lacan 1988a: 146).   Thus, against a Weltbild   of nature as consistent, in Lacan's view, man emerges with an internal inadequacy or lack of being. This inherent un worldliness is experienced and expressed in multitudinous behaviours – the boundless, creative, expression of different symptoms attests to this (Lacan 1988a: 29). It is the neurotic (or indeed perverse or psychotic, albeit differently) subject who, in specifically constructing a barrier opposed to reality , is able to come up with a solution and produce a singular and specific recourse to fancy (Lacan 1988a: 116) which helps obviate the obligatory discomfort of being. 3  We see thus in the first seminar that fantasy is referred to in the context of the analysand, i.e. of what brings one to the therapist's couch, but also the stirrings of a generalized relation to the fantasmatic as such  brewing within the encounter that is Geworfenheit  . Ultimately, the assumption of (self-)consciousness and an attempt at mastery contain the seeds of the fantasy relation constitutive of subjectivity: within the experience of seeing himself, of reflecting on himself and conceiving of himself as other than he is (srcinally expressed in terms of the mirror stage) the fantasy frame begins to become a structured   fact of life (Lacan 1988a: 79).   $ In the first seminar Lacan will quote Freud's comments in 'On Narcissism' on fantasy and discuss the fantasy aspect of the Wolf Man case; he will treat Melanie Klein, in particular her theory of the child and the role fantasy plays in it (as well as the special case of Dick); he will note the central role of fantasy among the object relations theorists generally; and we find the first indications of fundamental fantasies which orient and direct the subject (Lacan 1988a: 17). Yet, it is the 'unsettling' stirrings of fantasy as delineated above (not the various fantas ies , but fantasy as such) which will evolve within the Lacanian  conception of the term, beginning as we saw in particular relation to the imaginary constitution of subjectivity, which of course changes ground in his later seminars as the symbolic gains ascendency and the real is (obscurely) delineated.  At issue for Lacan is the inadequacy of the (clinical, as always) goal of removing fantasy and the theory and proponents behind it, as he then saw it: something so innate cannot be suspended or overruled/ruled over and is in fact vital and unavoidable as a support. He notes in the first seminar: Certain authors maintain that analysis is a sort of homeopathic discharge by the subject of his fantasised understanding of the world. In their view, this fantasised understanding should, little by little, within the day-to-day experience taking place in the consulting-room, boil down, transform itself, and achieve a new equilibrium within a given relation to the real. What is emphasised here, as you see, in clear contrast to Freud, is the transformation of the fantasised relation in the course of a relation which one calls, without further ado, real  . (Lacan 1988a: 14)  Analysts since Freud have been tempted to revert to a simpler view of reality, and uphold a concomitant  Anpassung  , a fitting to norms that cannot help but be seen as ill, effectively negating the nuances of  psychic reality   – i.e. everything which takes place between perception and the motor consciousness of the ego (Lacan 1988a: 75) – he introduced. What here needs to be rejected for Lacan is a certain reorientation of the entire analytic dialectic which tends to make the imaginary economy of fantasy, the various fantasmatic reorganizations, disorganizations, restructurations, and destructurations, the hub of all comprehensive progress as well
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