The “omnipotence of thoughts” was in the first place, a legacy of the Ratman that Freud received and duly passed on the analytic community. From then on, ‘omnipotence’ has been considered only as a fantasy, useful when thinking about children, savages, psychotic people and serious obsessionals. Since the beginning of his teaching, Lacan broke with this reverent tradition. In “Subversion du sujet et dialectique du désir”, he wrote:
Desire begins to take shape in the margin in which demand rips away from need […] A margin which, as linear as it may be, allows its vertiginous character to appear, provided it is not trampled by the elephantine feet of the Other’s whim (caprice). Nevertheless, it is this whim that introduces the phantom of omnipotence – not of the subject, but of the Other in which the subject’s demand is instated (it’s about time this idiotic cliché was, once and for all parties, put in its place)– and with this phantom, the necessity that the Other be bridled by the Law.
Put back to the place of the Other, omnipotence finds a new foundation, and the very reason why it can be thought of as something different from a bubble of fantasy soap, inflated by narcissism. I propose a quick stroll through theology, politics and law (Job, Jean XXII, Jean Bodin, Schmitt/Benjamin) to perceive the necessity of this kind of omnipotence better, that has nothing to do with a super power, but that sheds some light on the unfathomable mystery of a will when it is required as free and sovereign.
With a subsidiary question: since, with Lacan, a bar falls on this Other, that it comes to be written A and therefore is cleaned up of any subjective dimension, isn’t it possible to sketch a new approach of atheism? Omnipotence, yes, of course (it is almost a definition of symbolic order); but omnipotent, no, thank you. We’d rather… not.
Guy Le Gaufey was a member of the École Freudienne de Paris from 1974 to its dissolution in 1980. He co-founded the Lacanian revue Littoral in 1981, and the École lacanienne de psychanalyse in 1985. He has written many papers (available at www.legaufey.fr), and published many books at epel (www.epel-edition.com). He is also translator from English to French of some books, most of them dealing with Gender Studies.
Saturday 24 October 2015 10.30–13.00, Carmelite Centre, Aungier Street, Dublin 2.
APPI members €20, non-members €25, students €10
Queries to Carol Owens: firstname.lastname@example.org