Trouble in River City, or Lacan's "The agency of the letter in the unconscious"

by Andrew M. Gordon

August 22, 1997


abstract

This article offers a reader's response to Lacan's essay "The agency of the letter in the unconscious" and a psychoanalytic critique of Lacan as he represents himself in his writings. Rather than interpret or evaluate his theories, I interpret the man behind the theories by analyzing his characteristic style of argument and try to account for his influence, given his sadistic stance toward his readers.
A close analysis of his language reveals that Lacan presents himself in his essay in various guises: the Literary Critic, the Sadist, the Scientist, the Genius, the Prophet, the Master, the Seeker after Truth, the Liberator, the Rebel, the Snob, the Warrior, and the image that may help to explain all the rest, the Pisser.
Lacan is usually on the attack. His stance toward existence is aggressive and adversarial. A number of images of urination and fire in the essay suggest that Lacan may be what is called a "projective" or "urethral" character. The urethral character is impulsive, perhaps sadistic or self-assertive, ambitious and antisocial. He is concerned with mastery, personal power over self and world, and symbolizes primarily through abstractions. In a fundamental sense, Lacan is pissed off at the world.
It may be that his "burning ambition" allows us to give vent to our own desires to command intellectual territory. We are willing to enter the labyrinth of his prose and submit to his sadistic mastery for the promise of entry into a revolutionary elite.

article

According to Freud, such phenomena as symptoms, dreams, daydreams, jokes, and slips of the tongue can lead us to unconscious material. So I'd like to begin my analysis of my response to Lacan with first a joke and then a daydream.

Some years ago, in the heyday of Polish jokes, a joke circulated: "What's the difference between an Italian-American Godfather and a Polish-American Godfather? The Italian Godfather makes you an offer you can't refuse; the Polish one makes you an offer you can't understand." Keep that notion in the back of your mind for the length of this essay: the Italian Godfather as Freud and the Polish one as Lacan.

So much for the joke. Now for the daydream. Let me confess that I have always seen Jacques Lacan as a song-and- dance man; I think he has a song in his heart. I envision him as the star of a Broadway musical comedy. A suitable role might be Professor Harold Hill, the Music Man, a glib city slicker traveling through small towns in the Midwest telling them they've got trouble, right here in River City, with a capital T, or maybe in his case, with an "objet petit a." And he's got the solution to their trouble; he sells them gleaning, expensive new band instruments and spiffy marching uniforms, promising he can turn their youngsters into fabulous musicians by Professor Hill's famous "think method." All they have to do is "think" what the notes signify, and voila, seventy-six trombones.

But the bunko squad is hard on his heels. They want to drum him out of the profession for giving a bad name to travelling salesmen; he's already pulled this same Lacan game in fifteen different towns. Only one citizen of River City can see through his act: Marian the Librarian, a professor herself, in charge of all those books, some of which she's actually read. And she teaches piano; she knows her music and suspects this fast-talking slicker from out of town.

So the silver-tongued Professor Hill woos Miss Marian with a barrage of words, swearing by The Name of the Father he's been falsely defamed. He's sure it's just a misunderstanding, "meconaissance." He pleads with her, "Just gaze deeply into my eyes as into a mirror and you'll see the truth." And then he whispers in her ear her secret desire; he's the man who's going to give her what's she's always yearned for: "jouissance" She can't resist a man who talks dirty and talks French.

They embrace, and in the glorious finale the entire town gathers for the big parade down Main Street, led by the Professor and Marian, and the youngsters march, sporting their gorgeous new band uniforms and toting seventy-six trombones, with a hundred-and-ten cornets right behind. And they start to play by the "think method," and the music comes out a glorious cacophony in three registers: some real, some symbolic, but mostly imaginary.

So much by way of introductory joke and daydream. And now for something completely different.

"Le style," say the French, "c'est l'homme." I am no expert on the works of Jacques Lacan and I am certainly no Lacanian. I am interested here, however, not in interpreting or evaluating the validity of his frequently baffling theories, his "think method," but in interpreting the man behind the theories by analyzing his characteristic style of argument. Lacan was a complex, elusive individual. Like Freud, he was the abrasive, charismatic leader of a movement that has lasted beyond his lifetime and a man who founded a branch of contemporary psychoanalysis that continues to influence the mode of intellectual understanding of our time in fields including film, women's studies, and literary criticism. Certainly it's important to attempt to understand the character and intellectual style of this brilliant individual who has so affected our own intellectual style.

My investigation is preliminary and my conclusions speculative. For purposes of brevity, I have chosen to focus on one key essay from Lacan's voluminous works, "The agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud," with occasional comparisons to The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. But I am a humanist. I ally myself with ego-psychology and its focus on the human. I assume, as Norman Holland does, that each of us has a characteristic identity theme, a style of apprehending and of living our lives which shapes our reading and writing, and that that style can be glimpsed even in a fragment of text. So perhaps a close analysis of more of Lacan's writings or of his biography might bear out some of my tentative conclusions. Or perhaps I am revealing only my own method of reading rather than Lacan's and projecting my own prejudices and fantasies onto his text.

I am working here with flawed translations by Alan Sheridan; one reviewer says Sheridan "has got Lacan's prose out of French but barely into English" (Wollheim 36). Nevertheless, most of Lacan's American readers know him only in this translation.

Lacan's style is daunting. He argues not through clinical evidence and close reasoning but through playful, gnomic remarks, poetic metaphor, tossing out provocative theses and often leaving the links between ideas obscure. This has created a field day for his adherents, who are forced to interpret his remarks not so much as intellectual discourse but rather as poetry; thus all the arguments between Lacanians as to what he truly meant. So I too will read Lacan's text as both intellectual discourse and poem, and look at some of his rhetorical devices and characteristic words and metaphors.

Lacan in print is a complex character, and in the single essay "The agency" there are many different Lacans to attract or repel us: Lacan the Literary Critic, the Sadist, the Scientist, the Genius, the Prophet, the Master, the Seeker after Truth, the Liberator, The Rebel, The Snob, The Warrior, and finally, perhaps most significant of all, Lacan the Pisser.

Why has Lacan, a French psychiatrist, succeeded so well in making inroads among contemporary American literary critics? Perhaps because of his style they take him as one of their own. In "The agency of the letter," we sense immediately that we are in the presence of a highly cultured, learned speaker: there are plays on words in several languages, quotations from Freud in German, references to the linguistics of Jakobson and Saussure, and allusions to a wide variety of world literature, including Leonardo da Vinci, Swift, Victor Hugo, Paul Valery, St. Augustine, the Bible, H"lderlin, and Kierkegaard, among others. The density of literary allusion and especially the difficulty of the style reassure contemporary literary critics.

In literature and language departments over the past twenty years, difficult style -- knotty syntax, a proliferation of newly minted jargon, and obscure allusions--has been taken as a guarantee of truth and brilliance. By contrast, a clear, straightforward style becomes suspect, associated with simplemindedness. Sometimes we mistake pretentiousness for profundity, perhaps forgetting that Freud's writing, while as learned as Lacan's, is not difficult to grasp and has communicated clearly to millions, even in translation. Granted, sometimes writing (such as philosophy or physics) must be difficult, and our efforts to struggle with it are eventually rewarded with understanding. But Lacan's ideas when summarized are not that difficult, so that his prose seems deliberately obscurantist, an attempt to baffle his audience.

Ellie Ragland-Sullivan, author of Jacques Lacan and the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis, told me that Lacan's prose at first nauseated her, and that it has taken her years to begin to understand him.<1> Other expert Lacanians such as Jane Gallop and Shoshana Felman admit that they still do not understand Lacan, but they go on to see this frustrated understanding as not a defect in his writing but a virtue.<2> Students to whom I have assigned Lacan have come away similarly frustrated. I would remind you of what Freud taught: trust your frustration. Pay attention to your feelings as you read Lacan.

Why does he establish such a sadistic relationship to his readers? What is the baffling screen of his rhetoric denying us? Dr. Ross McElroy, a psychiatrist at the University of Florida, once made a remark that stuck in my mind: "Remember that the patient frequently tries to do to you what was done to him." By establishing himself as elusive master and us as frustrated students, is Lacan trying to relive or rectify a past object relationship, to do to us what was done to him? How do we transact this? How do we incorporate or defend against him? I can only begin to speculate about that here.

Let me give you two examples from "The agency" of what I see as Lacan's perverse difficulty (all I noted in the margin for each passage was a series of question marks):

We can symbolize them by first:
f(s...S')S=S(-)s

that is to say, the metonymic structure, indicating that it is the connexion between signifier and signified that permits the elision in which the signifier installs the lack-of-being in the object relation, using the value of `reference back' possessed by signification in order to invest it with the desire aimed at the very lack it supports (164).
And second:
Of course this limits me to being there in my being only in so far as I think that I am in my thought; just how far I actually think this concerns only myself and if I say it, interests no one" (165).
I would be happy to be instructed in the possible meaning of these passages, but I simply want to note here the style.

First, the former passage is rendered opaque by both knotty syntax and a very high level of abstraction. Abstractions such as "the signifier" are busily doing things to people, "installing" like plumbers a "lack-of-being" (whatever that is) in "the object relation" (which one? whose?). The characteristic movement in Lacan is always a displacement onto the symbolic, onto the sign. Language gets obscured by more language, until we lose track of what he is really supposed to be talking about: human beings, bodies, sexuality, and feelings, all the messy stuff of psychology -- something we never lose sight of when reading Freud. In Lacan, people get turned into the bloodless "subject of a signifier."

Second, Lacan's mathematical formulas are guaranteed to snow most literary critics, who deal generally in vague, sloppy generalizations and are inordinately impressed with the appearance of scientific rigor. Well, two can play this game, so I hereby offer my own formulas (the footnote gives an explanation):<3>

T = P = P + O + O + L

T = P = PSI (L)


Lacan is one writer who makes no bones about his genius. He reveals his grandiose self-concept not so much in "The agency" as in his other writings. For example, in The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, he compares his expulsion from the International Psychoanalytic Association to the excommunication of Spinoza and he also likens himself to Picasso: "I have never regarded myself as a researcher. As Picasso once said, to the shocked surprise of those around him -- I do not seek, I find" (7).<4> Apart from Lacan's own desire to shock and surprise, the passage also reveals a strong streak of arrogance.

Despite his disregard for mere research, Lacan considers himself to know far more than others in his field, to his credit and their shame: "Our approach will provide a contrast to those who boldly venture into the terrain with incomplete and flimsy references" (Four Concepts 19). His disregard for authority extends to most of his fellow psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, with the notable exception of Freud, whose name he constantly invokes and links with his own.

Lacan presents grandiose claims that he is the one real disciple who has understood Freud and will return us to the truth of Freud's discovery: "Any technique that bases its claim on the mere psychological categorization of its object is not following this path, and this is the case of psychoanalysis today except in so far as we return to the Freudian discovery" ("The agency" 174). To paraphrase the Muslims: "There is no God but Freud, and Lacan is his prophet."

As prophet, Lacan sprinkles "The agency" with religious imagery. He mentions "the piety of a group of his [Saussure's] disciples" who transcribed Saussure's lectures and had them published (149), an obvious parallel to the piety of Lacan's own disciples. And he refers elsewhere in the essay to "the heresy," "the language of its devotees," (150), and "religious hypocrisy" (175).

As Prophet, Lacan is something of a Zen master, teaching via paradox: "I think where I am not, therefore I am where I do not think" and "I think of what I am where I do not think to think" (166). As with his mathematical formulas, this is an intimidating parlor game which is really quite easy to play. Let me supply a paradox of my own invention: "I am where I am not, which is why I am not here." Or this: "I was not where I had been, but I may now be." Or this: "Where the analyst is is where his supervisor was, but never again."

Thus far I have dealt briefly with Lacan the Literary Critic, the Sadist,<5> the Scientist, the Genius, and the Prophet. Perhaps underlying these disparate figures in "The agency" is Lacan the Master. The Master is the one who is going to reveal to us the Truth, and the Truth shall set us free. "True," "truth," and "truths" is repeated nineteen times in the essay, plus synonyms such as "veracity" (147) and "authentic" (171). In opposition to these words, "false" is repeated three times (147, 157, 173) and "error" three times (150, 153, 158), along with many related terms, including "m?connaissance," "misconstrued," "misunderstood," "confused," "confusing," "illusion," "deluded," "deceive," "dishonest," and "lie" (148, 150, 160, 162, 163, 164, 166, 172, 173, 174). As Seeker after Truth, Lacan seems to battle like Spenser's Knight against the Blatant Beast of Error, the thousand-headed monster. He says that his discourse is not intended for those of "false identity" (147)--whatever that means--and he dismisses "false" doctrines (157) and "the error of seeking the spirit in the letter" (158).

Lacan tries to win us over by persuading us that Freud is correct and sincere and that Lacan by association is equally correct and sincere; and furthermore, that Freud has been crucially misunderstood by all previous interpreters, who have strayed from "the truth" through self-delusion, errors, or deliberate deceit. If we grant Lacan his mastery, we do so because we suppose him alone to know the truth and all others to be confused or lying. Nevertheless, when anyone protests so much and so often that he alone is in possession of "the Truth," I begin to suspect that he is covering something up. I start to think of him as "Honest John Lacan," the used-car salesman, or the Reverend John Lacan telling us to send in those dollars if we believe in Jesus. And if you see a grandiose self-concept linked with conspiracy theories about the Band of Liars versus the Teller of Truth, you also begin to suspect something else: paranoia.

In his rhetorical stance in "The agency," only Lacan the Liberator can free us from the misunderstanding of Freud which has cast us into mental servitude. Thus he prefaces the essay with a quotation from Leonardo da Vinci's "Of Children in Swaddling Clothes," with its image of "Women as well as men tightly bound with stout bonds around their arms and legs" (146). This establishes one of the major motifs of Lacan's essay, since "The Agency" is filled with references to "slave" (148), "auction block" (153), "servitude" (158, 167), "oppressive" (153), "bow" (167, 168), "imprisoned" (155), and "trap" (172). Opposed to the images of bondage are those of freedom and mastery: "sovereign" (167, 175), "freed" (163), "liberation" (162), and, above all, "revolution" (149, 174). There is an ambivalence, however, in the rhetoric of Lacan the Liberator, so that I question whether he really means to free us or simply to replace our bondage with another kind of servitude under his tutelage. In the introduction to "The agency," he mentions "the kind of tightening up that I like in order to leave the reader no way out than the way in, which I prefer to be difficult" (146). Lacan's ambivalent imagery of slavery and freedom reminds me of a passage in Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man:

Then in my mind's eye I see the bronze statue of the college Founder, the cold Father symbol, his hands outstretched in the breathtaking gesture of lifting a veil that flutters in hard, metallic folds across the face of a kneeling slave; and I am standing puzzled, unable to decide whether the veil is really being lifted, or lowered more firmly into place; whether I am witnessing a revelation or a more efficient blinding"(36).
Lacan the Liberator is intimately connected to Lacan the Rebel, the guerilla warrior eager to enlist us in his revolutionary cadre fighting on the side of Truth and Freedom. Freudianism, says Lacan, "founded an intangible but radical revolution" (174), and linguistics too constitutes "a revolution in knowledge" (149). By linking the two, Lacan hopes to foment a new revolution. But has he rightly linked the two? Norman Holland, among others, argues convincly that he has not.

He urges us to join him in his revolution by promising us difficulty like Churchill offering blood, sweat, toil, and tears, or a Marine recruiter promising boot camp on Parris Island. Lacan as Snob flatters the reader by offering him or her entry into an elite intellectual fraternity. His discourse, he announces, is not intended for those of "false identity" but only for "the most subtle minds" or "informed minds" (147). Later he questions "whether I wish to be heard by the mob or the few" (156). Lacan disdains the mob and, by making his remarks deliberately difficult, addresses only the few. He often refers slightingly to popular art -- "burlesque" (156), "sheer buffoonery" (159), "comical legerdemain" (170), and "opera buffa" (173) -- as if eager to distinguish his higher form of art.

Lacan is usually on the attack. His language is constantly filled with violent imagery from boxing or combat, surprising for an intellectual essay with such an austere title as "The agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud." Lacan the Warrior uses in the one essay such terms as "ideological warfare" (152), "plan of battle" (172), "unequal battle" (175), "combat ritual" (172), "war is war" (165), "my little jab" (148), "low blow" (151), "fallen under the blow" (169), "Peter hits Paul" (154), "persecution" (158), "obscene, ferocious" (167), "kill" (158), "die" (167), "cutting" (161), "mutilate" (162), "demolished fragments" (168), "hacking to pieces" (172), and "annihilated" (157). One wonders whether one is reading Jacques Lacan or Conan the Barbarian. The aggression revealed in the language may help explain the emphasis in Lacan's theory on cutting, splits, lacks, and castration: His vision of people and of the world is not one of wholeness or integration but of mutilation.

Lacan's stance toward existence is aggressive and adversarial. In a fundamental sense, Lacan is pissed off at the world. This is the last Lacan I wish to speak of, Lacan the Pisser, the one who may help to explain all the others.

Perhaps the most revealing set of images in "The agency" on around two apparently unrelated concepts: urination and fire. He spends two pages early in the essay concerned with urination. First he gives us a drawing of two doors, one labeled "Ladies" and the other "Gentlemen." The effect wittily illustrates his point about the slippage of the signified. But Lacan does not leave the point there. He goes on to elaborate half-jokingly on "the laws of urinary segregation" (151) and imagines the reactions of a shortsighted person peering at the doors (presumably Lacan would congratulate himself on being the opposite of shortsighted). Then, significantly, he gives us the only personal association of the entire essay, another joke connected with bathrooms, more toilet humor. He mentions a childhood memory of "the person whose word I most trust" (could it be Lacan himself, disguising his own recollection so as to distance himself from all this toilet humor?) (151). The recollection is a childhood memory (really a joke) about a little boy and girl arguing, based on the signs in the train station, over whether the train has stopped at the town of "Ladies" or "Gentlemen" (152). He is actually writing about the discovery of sexual difference, but in a typical Lacanian strategy, he moves away from the sexual to the symbolic, to language.

The references to urination do not cease there. A few paragraphs later, he talks about "indignation and scorn" which come "hissing out below" (152). The disguised metaphor seems to suggest for Lacan (as for many others) an unconscious connection between pissing and expressing disgust and scorn. To urinate on someone is to demean or degrade them. Not surprising then that Lacan says later on that "if you are a poet" (and Lacan certainly considers himself one of that highest type of being, a poet) "you will produce for your own delight a continuous stream" (157). The stream is supposed to be one of "metaphors," but the concealed reference to urination seems to be there also,

Lacan's essay expresses both delight at his own metaphoric cleverness and disgust and scorn for his adversaries. Prodigious urination is a feat which both delights a child and can represent a release of his disgust and scorn. Here I am reminded of the notorious episode in Mailer's Armies of the Night in which he makes comic capital out of a "45-second piss."

What then is the connection with all Lacan's metaphors of fire? These metaphors he does not have to disguise since fire is not as taboo a subject as urine. Throughout the essay he keeps referring to "the creative spark" of the metaphor (155, 157, 158, 166); it is perhaps the central image of "The Agency." And when he approaches Freud, he writes, "But haven't we felt for some time now, that, having followed the ways of the letter in search of Freudian truth, we are getting very warm indeed, that is burning all about us?" (158) Such imagery of burning associated with Freud recurs in Lacan's writing. In The Four Fundamental Concepts, Lacan repeatedly cites Freud's dream, "Father can't you see I'm burning?": "This sentence is itself a firebrand--of itself it brings fire where it falls" (Four Concepts 59). These images of sparks and urine are perhaps connected, for he refers to the spark as "passing" ("The agency" 166) and quotes Valery's poem about a "shower of sparks" (155). The associations could be with passing water and golden showers.

But I need not strain so to make the connection. Freud provides it for us in his essay on "The Acquisition and Control of Fire," where he makes explicit the primitive connection between fire and urination and reinterprets the myth of Prometheus, the fire-bringer. According to Freud, "in order to gain control of fire, men had to renounce the homosexually-tinged desire to put it out with a stream of urine" (185), an odd idea which has since been corroborated by studies of the connection between bedwetting and pyromania (Holland 208). There may be some unconscious connection between the burning sensation associated with urination and the idea of an actual fire.

In The I, Norman Holland writes about the "projective" or "urethral character," who is impulsive, perhaps sadistic or self-assertive, ambitious and antisocial (207-08). The urethral character is concerned with mastery, personal power over self and world, and symbolizes primarily through abstractions. "Often they are charmers or manipulators, indifferent to the consequences for either the charmer or the charmed" (208). What do we have here except a sketch of Jacques Lacan the pied piper of the intellectuals? Where else is this malevolent charmer coming from who has so enraptured certain American literary critics? For me, the many aspects of Lacan suggested above--such as the Critic, the Sadist, the Genius, the Prophet, the Master, the Rebel, the Snob, and the Warrior--all cohere if we view him as a projective or urethral character: Lacan the firebrand.

To have said this is only a starting point. There must be millions of people with urethral tendencies as a strong component of their characters, and surely some of them must be authors, some even psychoanalysts. How do we account for the success of Lacan? I can only speculate. Perhaps it is that his "burning ambition" allows us to give vent to our own desires to command intellectual territory. We are willing to enter the labyrinth of his prose and submit to his sadistic mastery for the promise of entry into a revolutionary elite. The more difficult and tortuous his prose, the more obscure, the more we commend ourselves at the end for having survived the Lacanian boot camp. Perhaps the slogan of his disciples should be similar to that of the U.S. Marines: "The Few. The Proud. The Lacanians."

Although some may, through elaborate mental gymnastics, extract consolation from Lacan's bleak psychology and discover value in his intellectual system and his emphasis on The Word, I cannot understand a psychiatrist who seems anti-humanistic, who establishes a sadistic stance toward others, and who seems to have little use for people.5 I am sad and angry to see so many fellow critics falling for this Music Man, this Lacan Man. I do not think he has much to teach me, and I would not put myself as a patient in his hands.

In the final sentence of "The agency," Lacan announces that his purpose is "to rouse you to indignation" (175). He has certainly succeeded in my case, except that instead of directing my indignation against the targets he intended, I have turned it against the author. How do I feel about Lacan? You might say I'm pissed off.

Notes

<1> I would especially like to thank Ellie Ragland- Sullivan, Henry Sullivan, Robert Silhol, David Willbern, and Norman Holland for their writings, lectures, or remarks in conversation for helping me to clarify my ideas about Lacan.

<2> Jane Gallop writes, "I have come to believe Lacan's text impossible to understand fully, impossible to master--and thus a particularly good illustration of everyone's inevitable castration in language" (20). See also Shoshana Felman, 21- 44. William Kerrigan comments on Gallop and Felman, "It is defensible to say that `frustrated understanding. . .is the effect of reading Lacan.' The argument becomes an excuse and an occasion for praise when it is assumed. . .that this effect was the author's intention" (999).

<3> The first formula translates as: "Trouble (with a capital T) rhymes with P, which stands for POOL" (courtesy of Meredith Willson, The Music Man 30). The second formula means: "Trouble (with a capital T) rhymes with P, which stands for Psychoanalysis (according to Lacan)."

<4> See Crews on "Lacan's disdain for corroboration." Lacan never bothers to verify Freud's concepts or his own through "clinical trial and error" (169).

<5> See Kerrigan: "Few readers of Lacan doubt that whatever else may be said of the imperial expositor enthroned in his texts he is for sure, to put the language of the streets on it, a sonuvabitch" (998-99). "In Lacan, there are no people, just theory" (1002).

Works Cited

Crews, Frederick. Skeptical Engagements. NY: Oxford, 1986.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. 1952 New York: Vintage, 1981.

Felman, Shoshana. "Psychoanalysis and Education: Teaching Terminable and Interminable." Yale French Studies 63 (1982): 21-44.

Freud, Sigmund. "The Acquisitions and Control of Fire" (1932). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works. Trans. and ed. James Strachey. Vol. 22. London: Hogarth, 1974. 1953-74. 185-93.

Gallop, Jane. Reading Lacan. Ithaca: Cornell U, 1985.

Holland, Norman N. The I. New Haven: Yale, 1985. ______. "I-ing Lacan." Criticism and Lacan: Essays and Dialogue on Language, Structure, and the Unconscious. Ed. Patrick Colm Hogan and Lalita Pandit. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1990. 87-108.

Kerrigan, William. "Terminating Lacan." South Atlantic Quarterly 88: 4 (1989): 993-1008.

Lacan, Jacques. "The agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud." Ecrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton, 1977. 146-78.

_____. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton, 1978.

Mailer, Norman. The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, The Novel as History. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Ragland-Sullivan, Ellie. Jacques Lacan and the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1986.

Willson, Meredith. The Music Man. NY: Frank Music, 1958.

Wollheim, Richard. "The Cabinet of Dr. Lacan." New York Review of Books 25 January 1979: 36-45.
To cite this article, use this bibliographical entry: Andrew M. Gordon "Trouble in River City, or Lacan's "The agency of the letter in the unconscious"". PSYART: A Hyperlink Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts. December 15, 2009. Available http://www.psyartjournal.com/article/show/m_gordon-trouble_in_river_city_or_lacans_the_agen. August 22, 1997 [or whatever date you accessed the article].
Received: April 13, 1997, Published: August 22, 1997. Copyright © 1997 Andrew M. Gordon