Event date and location: 28 April 2022, Online (Zoom)

This Lacan in Scotland seminar ‘Leaky Jars of Jouissance’ took place on Zoom on Thursday 28 April 2022. Hilda Fernandez Alvarez explores the Lacanian psychoanalytic concept of jouissance through the Greek myth of the Danaides. It is chaired by Dr Amanda Diserholt, Secretary of Lacan in Scotland, and the presentation is followed by a discussion with the audience.


0:00 – Intro
02:28 – Presentation
44:42 – Discussion
01:18:29 – Closing Remarks

Description of the event:

Lacan first introduces the phrase ‘surplus jouissance’ in Seminar 17, invoking Marx’s notion of surplus value. In the context of this same seminar, Lacan connects jouissance to the Greek myth of the Danaides, the daughters of King Danaus, who, after committing mariticide, are condemned to a quasi-Sisyphean fate of having to eternally replenish a leaking jar.

Drawing on this myth, Hilda Fernandez-Alvarez will explore the notion of surplus jouissance, seeking to add clarity to this often confounding concept and how it relates to both the individual subject and wider social discourse. Following a review of how the term has been treated in the Lacanian literature, Hilda will move on to consider how it operates as mechanism of the Anthropocene, one which has heralded unhinged consumerism, waste and planetary devastation. In conclusion, Hilda will consider how analysis itself might function as a corrective to this tendency, allowing us to subvert our eternal repetition, our unceasing Danaidean trap.

HILDA FERNANDEZ-ALVAREZis a Lacanian psychoanalyst based in Vancouver, Canada who has vast clinical experience with diverse populations in both a public and private setting. She has an MA in Clinical Psychology and Literature and has just finished her PhD at Simon Fraser University, entitled “Mapping the discursive spaces of trauma and healing in mental health: The institutional unconscious”. She co-founded the Lacan Salon in 2007 and currently serves as its Clinical Director.


On the Danaides

The suppliants (1850). Blackie, John Stuart; Aeschylus . The Lyrical Dramas Of Æschylus . 2 v. London: J. W. Parker, 1850.

Les Danaïdes. Antonio Saglieri, 1784.Soprano: Judith van Wanroij. Par les larmes dont votre fille. Conductor: Christoper Rousset. Les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles 2016

Aloni, G. (2001) “A Curious Error?: Geoffrey Chaucer’s Legend of Hypermnestra”. The Chaucer Review, Volume 36, Number 1, pp. 73-86

Fulkerson, L. (2005). Benefits of communal writing: Canace and Hypermestra. In The Ovidian Heroine as Author: Reading, Writing, and Community in the Heroides (pp. 67-86). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

On surplus jouissance (logic of fantasy):

Dulsster, D & Vanheule, S. (2019) “On Lacan and supervision: a matter of super-audition” British Journal of Psychotherapy 35, 1. 54–70.

George, S. (2016) Trauma and race: A Lacanian study of African American racial identity. Texas: Baylor University Press.

Greenshields W. (2017) “The Topology of the Psychoanalytic Subject.” In: Writing the Structures of the Subject. London: The Palgrave Lacan Series.

Libidinal economy

Fernandez-Alvarez, H. (2020). “So, you want a Master?: Psychoanalytic reflections on the intellectual’s responsibility in light of traumatic repetition.” In S. Gandesha. Ed., Spectres of Fascism. Pluto Press.

Fernandez-Alvarez, H. (2021) “Aokigahara Forest: An Aesthetic Space of Residual Surplus” In Lacan and the Environment. Eds. Clint Burnham and Paul Kingsbury. Palgrave

Tomsič, S. (2015) The Capitalist Unconscious: Marx and Lacan. London: Verso.

Tomsič, S. (2019) The Labour of Enjoyment: Towards a Critique of Libidinal Economy. London: Verlag.

Žižek, S. (2017) Incontinence of the void. London: MIT.

Žižek, S. (2017b) “The Varieties of Surplus” Problemi International. Vol. 1. No, 1. 7-32.

Lacan on surplus jouissance

Lacan, J. (1966-1967). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book XIV The Logic of the Fantasy.

Lacan, J. (1968/1969). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book XVI, From an Other to the other. (Trans C. Gallagher).

Lacan, J. (1969-70/2007). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis. (R. Grigg, Trans.) NYC: Norton.

Lacan, J. (1970) Radiophonie. Trans. J. W. Stone.

Lacan, J. (1970-1971). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XVIII Of a discourse that might not be a semblance. (C. Gallagher, Trans.)

Lacan, J. (1973-74). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XXI: Les Non Dupes Errent Part-1.

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