The other side of the canvas: Lacan flips Foucault over Velázquez [Book Review]

Continental Philosophy Review 46 (2):271-290 (2013)
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This essay suggests that the minimal 1966 exchange between Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault in Lacan’s seminar actually stood in for a much fuller debate about modernity, psychoanalysis and art than its brevity would indicate. Using their contrasting interpretations of Velázquez’s painting, Las Meninas, as its fulcrum, “The Other Side of the Canvas” discovers a Lacanian critique of Foucault’s history of modernity, circa The Order of Things. The effort here is to insert the interpretation of Velázquez into the context of both Lacan’s “Science and Truth” (originally the first session of the 1966 seminar) and Foucault’s recently published book. Our interpretation develops above all from Lacan’s contrast between the definition of a painting as a “window” and Foucault’s implicit understanding of it as a kind of “mirror”—a distinction in which Lacan discovers his seminal concept of “object a.” Pursuing the understanding of object a as the “surface” of the perspectival window allows us to understand why Lacan expands the discussion of Velázquez both into an understanding of twentieth-century paintings (Magritte, Balthus) and an implicit interpretation of the difference between philosophical and psychoanalytic approaches to science and history



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Thomas Brockelman
Le Moyne College

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Les Mote et les Choses.Michel Foucault - 1969 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 74 (2):250-251.

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