Cahiers Confrontation, Les

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Under the editorial direction of René Major, Les Cahiers Confrontation was the eponymous publication that broadened the audience for the discussions and debates that constituted the well-known series of seminars, Confrontation. In articles that asked probing and provocative questions outside the usual bounds of various disciplines, each issue of the biannual publication (1979-1989), which featured original cover art with drawings by Valério Adami, helped to extend psychoanalytic investigation into the broader realms of culture and contemporary thought.

Indeed, Les Cahiers played a precursor role in creating what became known as the "Confrontation effect" that impacted a number of associations and publications of analysts, who appealed to related disciplines in pursuing and developing psychoanalytic research.

Some themes addressed in Les Cahiers directly related to issues in psychoanalytic practice, theory, or institutions. Examples include L 'Etat cellulaire (The cellular state), Les machines analytiques (Analytic machines), La sexualité masculine (Male sexuality), Les fantômes de la psychanalyse (The ghosts of psychoanalysis), Télépathie (Telepathy), L 'Etat freudien (The Freudian state], L 'Interprétation (Interpretation), and La logique freudienne (Freudian logic).

Les Cahiers also examined aspects of art and literature, in articles such as Art et désordre (Art and disorder), America Latina (Latin America), Correspondances (Correspondences), Palimpsestes (Palimpsests), and Déchiffrement (Deciphering). Philosophical issues included Derrida and Aprés le sujet Qui vient (After the subject, who?); religion was the focus of Conversion (Conversion) and La religion en effet (The impact of religion). Articles from these issues were frequently cited in numerous works both in France and abroad, by among others, Alain Badiou, Etienne Balibar, Alan Bass, Jean Baudrillard, Antoine Berman, Maurice Blanchot, Michel de Certeau, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, Jean-François Lyotard, Charles Malamoud, Guy Rosolato, René Thom, Maria Torok, Marc-Alain Ouaknin, Serge Viderman, Paul Virilio, Samuel Weber, and influenced the texts of famous writers Julio Cortazar, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Octavio Paz.

The publication of Les Cahiers Confrontation marked a fruitful period, during which psychoanalysis opened up to and participated in the important cultural debates of the times. Issues included feminism and phallocentrism, the role of psychoanalytic institutions with their inherent contradictions and aporias, and politics and the putative end of ideology. A variety of issues anticipated questions that would subsequently gather currency, including the return of religion and the contribution of Lacanian thought to rethinking Freudian orthopraxis.

Editions Confrontation represented a publishing outcome of Les Cahiers that enabled major communications from the seminars to find their way rapidly into print. Numerous works published under these auspices are still in demand. L 'Inanalysé (Un-analyzed) discussed analytic theory in terms of a sort of coded residue of what is unthought and unthought-out in established psychoanalysis; contributions to Le corps et le politique (The body and politics) played a role in dissolution of the Ecole freudienne de Paris. Le lien social (Social cohesion) raised issues as to the social nature of analysis. Géopsychanalyse remains famous today for questioning why analysts at an International Psychoanalytical Association congress in New York failed to take a principled stand regarding the role of analysis in human rights violations during the Argentinean military dictatorship (1976-1984).

Other publications included Affranchissement (Franking/emancipation) in which, regarding the publication of La carte postale, the fundamental question of the divisibility (or its opposite) of the letter is discussed, as well as Derridian reading of Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle. The texts that comprise Psychanalyse et apocalypse (Psychoanalysis and apocalypse) appeared in the context of the dissolution of the Ecole Freudienne de Paris and the disintegration of the Lacanian movement. In Les Années brunes (The dark years), German analysts discussed the compromises made in the name of psychoanalysis under the Third Reich.

Chantal Talagrand


Les Cahiers Confrontation 1-20 (1979-1989).