Fatherhood sometimes encounters a burning question echoed by Daniel Mendelsohn’s work The Elusive Embrace . What does a man realize with the arrival of his child into the world? What enigma is lodged at the heart of the family that welcomes the child? “Famil” stated Lacan as early as 1969, indicating by this subtraction of two letters that something misses in the Other. If the signifier “famille” engenders for centuries the idea of a natural order, the epoch wakes our eyes, the Other is incomplete, inconsistent, ceaselessly slipping away. This is not what we are witnessing on the world scenario, when new family organization are available in an almost infinite variety (home recomposed, single-parenthood, homo-parenthood…)? Therefore the family unit is retained, however it is structured, around the child above all, as it indexes a jouissance. As Eric Laurent highlights, “the child is the object a liberated”, that is, the child “is […] the object a, comes in place of an object a” . D. Mendelsohn will experience this fundamental positivity embodied by a new-born, in a singular way. He will draw the consequences by inventing a new version of the father, not The one that makes a woman the cause of his desire, but The one who puts a child in this place, a new constellation polarizing the trajectory of his life.
Over the pages, Daniel illustrates the singular family portray he forms with Rose, Nicholas’ mother. Daniel is homosexual. Although Rose is not his mistress and the child is not his, he agrees to represent “a male role model” for the latter.
Beyond the imaginary figure to which he is supposed to play, Daniel will be committed, primarily because he sees in Rose “a great mother”, a woman who “knows how things work […] whether it is herbs for cooking, flowers or friendship”.  She is a mathematician and has traits of her own father, a father whose quest and memory taunt her.  Rose immediately occupies a particular place, knowing how to deal with the world and its fictions.
If Daniel prepares for birth, looking, with Rose, for the name of the future baby, which he is certain will be a boy, it is after the birth that everything rushes: “about thirty minutes elapsed since this child had been literally cut off from his mother’s body, and a few minutes less since I had cut the traces of his anatomical bond with her, but I could already say that everything was going to be different”.  The event cuts off establishing a radical flaw in his life: “Once they are in your world, they alter it imperiously, they make you drift in the order of things […]. Oddly enough, the only thing I could think, while walking next to this baby is that he would be alive when I would no longer be”. 
The experience of a fatherhood that knots the real of an encounter with the child, the anchoring in the succession of generations and the image of a father, gives him access to an identity that reveals him One in what is most singular to him: “The narration of the Elusive Embrace is the story of how I finally decided, I could see a trail of myself, solve these elements, these fragments of my life, the Jewish side, the gay side, the specialist side of classical letters”.  The “Jewish side” is linked to the matter of his filiation and the vanishing of his family, taken by the horror of the Shoah, of which he sought the trace to the point of being more familiarized with the face of the deads than with the silhouette of the inhabitants of his building, he says. Regarding the “gay side”, it refers to a dimension of double of which the revelation he had very early on. Daniel, indeed, makes vibrate, with a sharp pen, his “desire for men” to oust “the repetition”: “this is how it goes with boys who desire other boys. The mirror placed in front of the other mirror, the infinite passage of the same reproduced so many times creating the illusion of multiplicity and choice and ultimately, of difference”.  The knot that binds him to his son tightens, on the contrary, a real. And there, there is the mystery of an existence, of an alterity that cannot be reduced to the image of this existence: “to confirm, […] to recover traits that remind us of something; from Nicholas, I learned that this is not possible with children. They themselves are irreducibly supreme in their difference”. 
It is at this point, where the child is limited to what, from the death drive, can be unleashed in a destiny, that the desire to be a father is lodged. This is a singular desire that objects to a norm that would apply to all and would be fulfilled under the authority of the Name of the Father. 
Translation: Bogdan Wolf
Proff: Marcel Pereira
Photography : © Von Thau Philip : https://www.facebook.com/philip.vonthau.7
 Mendelsohn D., Elusive Embrace, Paris, J’ai Lu, 2018 (first edition, 1999), p. 140.
 Laurent. É., “L’enfant, objet a libéré” in La Lettre mensuellle Nr 251, p. 6; for the phrase “The object a as liberated” cf. Lacan J., The Seminar, Book XVI, “From an Other to the other”, text established by J.-A. Miller, Paris, Seuil, Champ Freudien, 2006, 293.
 Mendelsohn, D., Elusive Embrace, op. cit., p. 140 & p. 161.
 See on this point, Mendelsohn D., An Odyssey – A Father, a Son, An Epic, Paris, I’ai Lu, 2017.
 Mendelsohn, D., Elusive Embrace, op. cit., p. 157.
 Mendelsohn D., Elusive Embrace, op. cit., p. 101.
 Ibid., p. 190.
 See on this point the text of Hélène Bonnaud, whose careful reading allowed me to clarify my point, “Does the desire for a child pass through the Name of the Father or can it do without it?”, Blog Pipol 10,.