In the autumn of 1978 Lacan set out with Pierre Soury to drive to
Guitrancourt. On the outskirts of Paris, the Mercedes swerved and went
off the road. Lacan wasn’t hurt, but to those around him he seemed to have
changed afterward, to have started to go downhill. He tired more easily; his
silences lasted longer. The subj ect of his twenty-sixth seminar was “topology
and time.” But at the opening session, on November 2 1 , he found himself
unable to speak. His audience was as silent and taken aback as he. They just
sat, somehow equal to the tragedy of the scene, and looked on as the weary
old man, incapable of summoning up the voice that had held generations of
psychoanalysts and intellectuals spellbound for a quarter of a century, slowly
drew his knots and braids on the blackboard and then got confused and
stopped. He turned to the public, referred briefly to his mistake, and then
left the room. ” It doesn’t matter,” someone was heard to murmur. “We love
you just the same.”

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