Vilma Coccoz – Thinking with your feet


I had always been surprised by the enigmatic excerpt from the The Third (1), when Lacan addresses the audience, “You think that thinking is in the brain, I see no reason to dissuade you. I, am sure– I am sure just because that’s my business, – that it is in the muscles of the forehead, in the speaking being the same as it is in the hedgehog.” He goes on at length about his preference for these peculiar creatures; specifically, he is particularly fascinated when they wrinkle their brow as a demonstration of their anger, he says the same happens to us.

Thanks to the internet we know a lot about hedgehogs, now prized pets. Nevertheless, the signs of their fury are not localized in their foreheads, but in the growls they emit and the unruly behaviour of sticking out their quills to form a ball.  But Lacan continues his reflection, “After all, if you can think with the muscles in your brow, you can also think with your feet. So, that is where I want you to go, since, after all, the imaginary, the symbolic and the real are made to open the way to analysis…”

The organic delocalization of thought to which Lacan incites us then reveals: first, by means of a Witz situating thought in the imaginary of the body where his conception of eternal duality is placed: what we call soul reunites, in reality, our thoughts about the body. If we think, worried, this “interior” activity may be seen in our wrinkled brows.

But the thinking that Lacan proposes, derived from the tying of the three registers is what sets the body in motion to bring it along the path to analysis, situating the analyst in the overlap of the three circles, causing the displacement of the speaking body. He says as much in his last consideration with regards to Hans´s phobia.

Hans´s problem is topological, concerning the place from which he moves

– what route to take to return? – and the bond with the other, – can he do it on his own or is he obliged to go with his mother? If the return home seems impossible

it is because he has not found the exit -the paternal exit from the only circuit that he knows, the maternal. For this reason, Hans cannot carry out his desired project and move his feet towards the ramp located in front of his house, play with the other children and return, peacefully. This fact is highlighted by Lacan, since it is not because the boy has no sense of reality or is scared of getting lost. Hans thinks and explains how he would manage to return home if this were to happen, there is no cognitive difficulty or problems with representation.

By means of the phobia of horses the boy manages to name his difficulty with movement and at the same time obtains a threshold, a signal, a route marked out by fear. What Hans fears is that, as he tries to escape the maternal circuit, the house will be dragged and his place will disappear as well. Because “the boy is not alone,” his desire is linked “to a certain father, a certain mother, his, and not his neighbor’s”

Thanks to the paternal help Hans can make his way to Freud’s office and find a real exit, the one the analytic discourse offers by favouring the a-thought that makes it possible to march in the direction of desire.

Translated by: Alejandro Betancur Vélez
Revision: Ivana Maffrand

  1. J.Lacan, La tercera.  “Actas de la Escuela Freudiana de París”. Petrel. Barcelona. 1980. Pág.163/4. En la traducción española figura “seso” en lugar de cerebro para traducir el término “cervelle”.
  2. J.Lacan, Conférences et entretiens, Scilicet 6/7, p.45.

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