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By Richard Boothby

Utilizing Jacques Lacan's paintings as a key, Boothby reassesses Freud's so much ambitious-and misunderstood-attempt at a basic conception of psychological functioning: metapsychology

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2 The haystacks themselves fünction, as Gustave Geffroy pointed 18 Freud as Philosepher out, as objets passagers, merely transitory objects, that serve to reflect the subtle effects of light and air that surround them. The comparison of the stacks to reflective screens is evoked by Monet's own commentary. "4 Monet's Grainstacks remind us that the objects of vision are always situated in a total environment of light. However, the light-sphere in which objects come to visibility is not in itself visible.

At the heart of the subject, ¡t is only a privileged symptom, the human symptom par excellence, the mental illness of man" (E:S, 16). In Lacan's view, it is the imaginary character of the 12 Freud as Phiissopher ego that is decisive. Although the elaboration of psychic structure must necessarily pass through the formation of an ego, the imaginary institution of the ego is stabilized only at the price of a profound alienation of the subject from its own desire. "17 Thus Lacan claims that "the ego, whose strength our theorists now define by its capacity to bear frustration, is frustration in its essence" (E:S, 42).

It could be said," writes Joachim Pissaro, "that Monet did not, in fact, paint the cathedral. "9 And with the Cathedrals we realize again how the enveloppe is less an image than a kind of sublime idea. By its very nature it cannot be conveyed in a single canvas but dawns on the viewer slowly, through comparison of a succession. Absolutely momentary, a fünction of what Monet called "instantaneity" the environing enveloppe becomes perceptible only by means of the contrasting of different times. " The necessity of serial treatment for the rendering of the enveloppe reveals an essential relativity that binds together the paintings in each of Monet's Series.

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