Jacques Lacan parle

Jacques Lacan parle

In September 1972, Jacques Lacan was invited to give a lecture to students at the Catholic University of Louvain. As much as the content of his remarks, what impresses here is the way Lacan stages his speech. His thought slowly gets under way from silence, suddenly accelerates and finds its rhythm, until the intervention of a young Situationist interrupts the show. The second part of the film is an interview between Françoise Wolff and Jacques Lacan.


“In France, Lacan’s rock star status owed much to his popular public seminars. The charismatic iconoclast had been giving free public lectures for decades, and those lectures were usually packed with students, colleagues, skeptics, young radicals… and fans. The video gives you an idea of what the fuss was all about. Even at 70, Lacan still owns the room, and he has the presence of a stage actor, complete with dramatic pauses, ironic self-reflection, and pitch-perfect storms of emotion. [Suddenly,] a politically inspired heckler tries to ambush him. It’s a moment right out of a comedy show, if the comedy show were chic and grainy and edited by Jean-Luc Godard. Note the grace with which Lacan neutralizes the poor guy, lights his cigar and then concludes the lecture, even though the fallout from their encounter is still stuck in his hair.”

Sheerly Avni1


“On October 13, 1972, the charismatic and controversial French theorist and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan is giving a lecture at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, when a young man with long hair and a chip on his shoulder walks up to the front of the lecture hall and begins making trouble. He spills water and what appears to be flour all over Lacan’s lecture notes and then stammers his way into a strange speech that sounds as if it were taken straight out of Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle. The 71-year-old Lacan never loses his composure. (His cigar appears bent out of shape, but it was that way from the beginning.) The audience, too, retains a certain Gallic nonchalance.”

Mike Springer2


“A few minutes in, we see a young (somewhat unsteady) kid approach Lacan’s desk, dunk his hands into a pitcher of… something, pour that something all over Lacan’s materials and then start making grand proclamations in the idiom of The Situationist International. Not content to simply soapbox on Guy Debord, the Situationist wackadude flings the formerly pitcher-bound residue on his hands directly into the face of the much smaller Lacan, apparently in an effort to prove his “authenticity”. Over 70 years old at this time, Lacan continues talking. And Lacan continues smoking.”

Amber Frost3


“Perhaps it’s because the young student knows how difficult a target Lacan will be that the student crosses the line from intellectual argument to a gesture of physical confrontation, a gesture of touch. The act of physical protest is also a perfectly valid form of communication, as any fashionable semiotician must know, and Lacan coolly accepts it as such. He says, ‘I understand’. A few others in the room jump to Lacan’s aid, and the young man wishfully asks if he is going to be “roughed up”. He’ll have no such luck.

In fact, the young protestor’s nervous demeanor as he explains the purpose of his protest makes him so easy a target for the 71-year-old master that Lacan’s attempt to respond calmly and without rebuke begins to appear condescending. He asks, ‘Shall I carry on from here?’, inviting the young man to sit down, and the audience laughs.

The young man, realizing that he is in danger of becoming a comic figure of inarticulate youthful intensity, refuses to play along, and soon attacks Lacan a second time. Unlike the first act of physical confrontation, which Jacques Lacan tried to gently laugh off, the second seems to make him angry, perhaps against his will. As the mood in the room intensifies, the intellectual coherence of the confrontation between Lacan and the young protester begins to dissipate. Nothing has been decided or debated, but perhaps something has transpired.”

Marc Eliot Stein4

UPDATED ON 05.06.2024
IMDB: tt0335241