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House, J. (2013). About Unconscious in Translation. DIVISION/Rev., 8:37.

(2013). DIVISION/Review, 8:37


About Unconscious in Translation

Jonathan House

Sex is important. That was clear to me early on: important and different from other desires. I was, however, puzzled both by the importance and by the difference, but I expected all would become clear in my analytic training. It didn't play that way.

After reading and re-reading Freud and others, I was more confused than ever. The epiphany which answered some of my questions while allowing me—or forcing me—to frame more questions about sexuality (to problematize it) came when I was introduced to the work of Jean Laplanche. To help myself understand Laplanche's thinking I retranslated the classic 1965 essay he wrote with J.-B. Pontalis: “Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality” (Fantasme originaire. Fantasmes des origines, origines du fantasme). I sent Laplanche my efforts, he replied with encouragement, and so began the process which led to the creation of a new publishing house: Unconscious in Translation (UIT).

Outside of the Anglophone universe, Laplanche is widely recognized as providing perhaps the most important, certainly the most coherent, theory of the nature and genesis of infantile sexuality. Within our community, his work has been largely unknown, and even those who admire his work and who see the need to place their own theorizing in relation to his often understand Laplanche in terms of his early work rather than in terms of what he has written in the last 30 years. This is understandable as, until quite recently, almost nothing written after 1993 had been translated.

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