Lacan at the Scene
256 pp., 7 x 9 in, 79 b&w photos
- Published: September 14, 2012
- Published: October 2, 2009
A Lacanian approach to murder scene investigation.
What if Jacques Lacan—the brilliant and eccentric Parisian psychoanalyst—had worked as a police detective, applying his theories to solve crimes? This may conjure up a mental film clip starring Peter Sellers in a trench coat, but in Lacan at the Scene, Henry Bond makes a serious and provocative claim: that apparently impenetrable events of violent death can be more effectively unraveled with Lacan's theory of psychoanalysis than with elaborate, technologically advanced forensic tools. Bond's exposition on murder expands and develops a resolutely Žižekian approach. Seeking out radical and unexpected readings, Bond unpacks his material utilizing Lacan's neurosis-psychosis-perversion grid.
Bond places Lacan at the crime scene and builds his argument through a series of archival crime scene photographs from the 1950s—the period when Lacan was developing his influential theories. It is not the horror of the ravished and mutilated corpses that draws his attention; instead, he interrogates seemingly minor details from the everyday, isolating and rephotographing what at first seems insignificant: a single high heeled shoe on a kitchen table, for example, or carefully folded clothes placed over a chair. From these mundane details he carefully builds a robust and comprehensive manual for Lacanian crime investigation that can stand beside the FBI's standard-issue Crime Classification Manual.
As a student of Lacan, Henry Bond shows it is only a step from The Purloined Letter to Murders on the Rue Morgue. Bond leads us to terrain we might prefer not to visit, but those scandalized by his images might recall that ordinary mass culture feeds on them.
Victor Burgin, European Graduate School for Media and Communication
Lacan at the Scene is a brilliant, ground-breaking work that will appeal to cultural practitioners and theorists, and to everybody interested in the dialogue between psychoanalysis and visual studies.