I’ve become less self-conscious about walking out of films: second to get the chop this year was Jacques Lacan’s Psychoanalysis: Part One, after 45 of its threatened 60 minutes. The film, probably made for TV, was shot in 1974 by Benoit Jacquot, the director of ‘Sade’ who counts Perry Anderson as a fan. I say ‘shot’ rather than ‘directed’ because there wasn’t much to this: given that Lacan’s most famous metaphor, in the precincts of film theory at least, is the ‘mirror stage’ of language-learning (coined in about 1937), you might think that film held out some possibilities for elucidating his fearsomely difficult ideas. But no, ‘I write for non-idiots’, says Lacan, and he says there should be no difference between giving a seminar (itself illuminating: a seminar is not a lecture) and making a TV show. Which makes him the French AJP Taylor. Only at least AJP Taylor was comprehensible.
Given the chance to give his ideas an audience, Lacan passes. Through writers like Laura Mulvey and Slavoj Zizek I feel I have some grasp of Lacan’s concepts, but somehow the man himself managed to muddy what sense of them I have. The ICA conspired in this by providing no programme notes; upshot: I feel thick and have a grudge against Lacan. Incidentally, one of the books I’ve ‘walked out on’ this year was by JL’s old mucker Georges Bataille. Analyse this indeed!