Kunsttheorie: Jelica Šumič Riha

Lacan‘s Passion for the Real

What is the peculiar evocative force of the notion of the real? According to Badiou, the “passion for the real” animated all the subversive inventions of the 20th century – from psychoanalysis to revolutionary politics.
Rather than succumbing to the temptation of forcing appearance in order to accede to the real suppsed to be lurking behind it – an endeavour which can only engender devastating consequences – for Lacanian psychoanalysis the access to the real is that of the semblance.

While one of my aims in this lecture is to briefly outline the development of Lacan’s rather peculiar “realism” and to draw attention to some difficulties that highlight the ambiguity that the notion of “realism” has in psychoanalysis, I would also wish to emphasise the relation between the real and the semblance as being the crux of Lacan’s later teaching. Indeed, for psychoanalysis, the question of the real is inseparable from the interrogation of the semblance, a term forged by Lacan in the last period of his teaching in order to rework the relation between the symbolic and the real. As I will try to elaborate in this lecture, the relationship between the real and the semblance is relevant to numerous contemporary discourses, but it is only in psychoanalysis that this problem is raised to the level of one of the central theoretical and practical issues. There is indeed a special problem with the relationship between the real and the semblance in psychoanalysis.
Omnipresent, unsettling, yet unresolved, this problem comes to the fore at critical moments in the history of psychoanalysis, thereby marking turning points at which the orientation of psychoanalysis is at stake.

Jelica Šumič Riha