A Personal View – the Killings in Orlando and Birstall

by Julia Evans on June 19, 2016

How to teach what cannot be taught? That is what Freud has crystallised [found a way?]. He considered that everything is but a dream, and everyone (if one uses an equivalent expression), everyone is mad that is to say delusional.[i]

From Transfert à Saint Denis? : Lacan pour Vincennes ! : Il y a quatre discours. (There are four discourses) : 22nd October 1978 : Jacques Lacan


Éric Laurent states : … a passage where Lacan says that Antigone was a martyr, and that the time of martyrs was a conflagration in the discourse of civilisation. It is a conflagration, an epidemic. And in fact, this comes after a long reflection on the epidemics of the martyrs of Islam, and it also recalled that Christianity has known this kind of epidemic too.

From The Unconscious and the Body Event (Paris) : July 2015 : An interview with Éric Laurent[ii] : p187


Only the martyrs know neither pity nor fear. Believe me, the day when the martyrs are victorious will be the day of universal conflagration. The play[iii] is calculated to demonstrate that fact.

From p267 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Seminar VII : 8th June 1960[iv] : Jacques Lacan


The Beginning

I have noted two changes to the way I see my world since Ms Jo Cox MP was murdered three days ago (Thursday 16th June 2016).

– I am now questioning the normality of clearing junk messages from my web-site, www.LacanianWorks.net, before allowing my computer to receive in-coming emails. Today, after an 18 hour absence, there were 23 though the ones wanting to be my fuck-buddy appear to be temporally discouraged. I do not believe these are targeting me, as a woman, they are just one of the downsides of having a web-site and email account. I do not do social media, Facebook, twitter, tweets, and so on, and understand that normality includes targeted abuse because you are a woman.

– I am now questioning whether it is ‘safe’ for me to receive subjects for our first meeting, when I know the other two practice rooms will not be occupied. I may revert to closing doors to give the impression of occupancy.

The Middle

When news of the attack on Jo Cox, reached me via email, I became speechless. I have now moved to trying, imperfectly, to make sense of this. There seems to be two interrelated layers to this:

– Thomas Mair, 52, of Birstall, who has been charged with killing Jo Cox, and his world which appears to have authorised him to plan and execute a murder.

– the world around the EU referendum and immigration into the UK. Before Jo Cox’s murder, the tone of the debate and in particular the attacks on our institutions of governance, had been criticised in the press. There is almost a feeling of surprise that Jo Cox was actively involved in campaigning on so many issues, as if the greater number of mps are not involved in community and other issues.

The Case Study

In the Lacanian world, it is not possible to get very far without examining one or several cases.

In Seminar VII : 8th June 1960, Jacques Lacan examines Sophocles’ play, Antigone. I began with one quote. In Seminar XXIII[v], he analyses how James Joyce produced his written work. These two analyses refer to the two worlds outlined above.

Éric Laurent (July 2015, P187) answers this question : But in all cases, there has to be someone who watches.

EL – There is always someone looking. How can this be undone? That is the question posed for us by Seminar XXIII.

So there is a question of what sort of someone is looking & are you certain they are looking & from what position, inside or outside, are they looking.

Antigone, the martyr, had no doubt or fear: in the conflagration of a war, she had absolute certainty.

Initial accounts indicate that Thomas Mair had a similar certainty. When charged in court with Jo Cox’s murder, he tells court his name is ‘death to traitors, freedom for Britain’[vi]. So what held him together, his name, has been replaced. He has been invaded.

A Diversion

Although it appears clear that Thomas Mair’s mental state has contributed, I do not think his mental state is an excuse. As in my first quote, we are all mad, and fortunately very few of us human beings commit violent crimes. This is similar to the position which Thomas Szasz takes. However, there appears to be two Thomas Mairs being presented in the press. The man who lives alone, since his grandmother died, and does the neighbourhood’s gardening. The man who I have heard referred to as deranged who is accused of murdering a female, campaigning mp who does not support right-wing causes. There has probably been a triggering. Now just what has upset Thomas Mair, will be individual to him. It will make no sense outside his world. In discussing the Orlando killings with Bruno de Florence (See [vii] for his comment on Orlando), on the day before Jo Cox’s murder, the trigger would appear to be two men kissing in public. In Orlando, this would not be the only opportunity for witnessing a same sex, embrace. And for Omar Mateen, this tipped him into what his wife described as madness.

The Other Case

I propose to examine an event which was written down about 2,000 years ago. Obviously to me, this has to be reinterpreted into our current ways of thinking. The case is from St Luke’s Gospel, Ch 8, v26-39.[viii] From my reading, this case includes both worlds, the individual’s world and the community around him.

The man is clearly deranged, though whether this has been caused by being tethered in a graveyard, naked, or was in place before, is not known.

He is isolated and counted as good as dead. He does not register or have a place within the community.

Jesus stabilises him. The skills for recognising this condition and stabilising the subjects concerned, have nearly been stripped out of the NHS, including local mental health teams and medical practices. It is a complex operation and is not without risk for the practitioner and subject alike.

The pigs, unclean in Jewish tradition, receive the madness and drive themselves to their death.

The community, having ostracised the man, become afraid and ostracise the curer, Jesus, as they were so frightened.

Some Provisional Conclusions

Being afraid, death, fear and exclusion are all present in this cauldron. They mix together so potently that people start believing the myths. The observers in this case cannot move, from the certainty of their right to exclude this deranged man, to include him as a fellow human being.

Quite how Thomas Mair’s world moved from gardener to deranged is not clear, and it seems that the form of political campaigning, putting the blame for our ills on immigrants, the establishment, the media, and so on, contributed strongly. The receipt of these messages via a computer screen, rather than say down the pub, almost certainly exacerbated the situation.

Further Discussion

The symptom in the perspective of the speaking body in civilisation (audio) : 19th May 2016 (London) : Éric Laurent : Information here

An audio tape available here


[i] The second paragraph:

Comment faire pour enseigner ce qui ne s’enseigne pas ? Voilà ce dans quoi Freud a cheminé [Cheminer?]. Il a considéré que rien n’est que rêve, et que tout le monde (si l’on peut dire une pareille expression), tout le monde est fou c’est-à-dire délirant.

Roughly translated:

How to teach what cannot be taught? That is what Freud has crystallised [found a way?]. He considered that everything is but a dream, and everyone (if one uses an equivalent expression), everyone is mad that is to say delusional.

Transfert à Saint Denis? : Lacan pour Vincennes ! : Il y a quatre discours. (There are four discourses) : 22nd October 1978 : Jacques Lacan : References and links here

[ii] The Unconscious and the Body Event : the full interview : July 2015 : Éric Laurent : Notes & references here

[iii] [Antigone – a tragedy by Sophocles written in or before 441 BC.]

[iv] Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan : Notes & availability here

[v] Seminar XXIII: The Sinthome or Joyce and the Sinthome: 1975-1976: beginning on November 18th 1975 : Jacques Lacan : Availability & notes given here

[vi] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/18/thomas-mair-charged-with-of-mp-jo-cox

[vii] Criculated on The-Letter group


Subject: Orlando

Date: 16 June 2016 at 14:22:53 BST

This passage to the act does not appear to me to be motivated by religion or homophobia or some other external factor. In Sem 3 (The Psychoses), Lacan reaffirms throughout, following Freud, that the only reality which matters is the psychical one (for Freud, responsibility starts in dreams). The 14 March 1956 session seems to throw some light onto this sorry affair, with respect to symbolic identification.

Returning from the vigil organised in London (13 June 2016), I quickly composed a lament, as a way to keep pacify my own anxieties:


Bruno de Florence


[viii] Luke 8:26-39

26Jesus and his disciples arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’ – 29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

32Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Further texts:

Contemporary Clinic here

From life here