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Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 141–159 | Cite as

The Lacanian What in the Beckettian Where: Samuel Beckett’s What Where and the impossible structure of mastery

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Abstract

This article examines the structure of Samuel Beckett’s What Where (1983) from a Lacanian point of view to show how Beckett deploys a logical framework and follows it to its own wreckage with telling political underpinnings. The play’s auto-deconstructive structure locates a point of impossibility for its own operations that I approach through Lacanian discourse theory in which the Real is posited as the impossible qua discursive formalization. As a play on the vicious cycles of torture, What Where inscribes a critique of torture as a master’s discourse. The structural impasse of the Real in What Where leads us to a comment on structural mastery in a discursive context, applicable specifically to Beckett’s text and more generally to Lacan’s discursive machine as advanced in his 17th seminar, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis (1969–1970). As will be seen, the “master’s discourse” in Beckett’s play can only operate by hiding the impossible Real of its inoperativity. Beckett’s unveiling of this occlusive dimension in the master’s discourse highlights a resistant aspect of the Lacanian discursive arrangement.

Keywords

Beckett lacan impossible discourse the real mastery 

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KolkataIndia

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