VIII Congress of the World Association of Psychoanalysis WAP
World Association of Psychoanalysis

23rd to 27th April 2012
Hilton Hotel

Macacha Güemes 351, Puerto Madero
Buenos Aires City, Argentina

Conference of Jacques-Alain Miller in Comandatuba
by Jacques-Alain Miller

Jacques-Alain MillerIV Congress of the WAP - 2004 - Comandatuba - Bahia. Brasil

A fantasy
I will begin with a fantasy. It is an idea that came up while listening to my colleagues yesterday morning; our colleagues tell us, in short, the same thing: people today, the post – or even hyper- modern subjects are disinhibited, neo-disinhibited, defenseless, distressed, confused, disoriented, lacking direction. In listening to them, I said to myself: Oh, yes! Oh, yes, yes! And how! And how disoriented we are! How true that is! And how rare it is to conceive a sequence of four colleagues who are all in agreement, and then to agree with them oneself, and to feel that the entire world is in agreement, that there is a consensus on this point. Well now, in listening to them, I asked myself: since when has it been so, since when have we all become disoriented? And I answered myself: undoubtedly, ever since civilized morality – as Freud said, it is an expression of Freud’s – was shaken up, ever since it disintegrated. And psychoanalysis is not without involvement in this dissolution of civilized morality.

We here, not all of us, not the youngest [1], male or female, of the audience over there, but we, we keep the memory of what this civilized morality was. We still have the meaning of it. We have it at least enough to understand and even experience our present civilization as immoral, as going toward immorality. In effect, civilized morality, in its Freudian sense, provided a compass. It provided a support to those in distress, undoubtedly because it was inhibiting. We could, all the same, ask ourselves: why is it that this civilized morality, at its epoch, at the end, let us say, of the 19th century, became so cruel [2]? It could very well be that this cruel morality was already responding to a crack, to a flaw, which was already growing wider in civilization. It could be that this civilized morality, in as much as it was present in full force in the hearts, it is possible that it was already a reaction-formation, reactionary to a process that had begun from a much earlier time than that [3].

And thus, I was dreaming: perhaps, we became "de-compassed" from the time we obtained compasses. I mean: perhaps we have been de-compassed ever since the practice of agriculture, which is not our own practice, which is obviously not in our foreground, ever since agriculture began to cede, step by step, the dominant place to industry. We do not think enough about that, about agriculture. It is from there, perhaps, that all evil stems: the metaphor of agriculture by industry. The agricultural civilization, a great thing!

To be serious, I see that I could take you as a Council. A meeting of the AMP, perhaps Graciela has changed all that, but in my time, it was not a Council.

Thus, the agricultural civilization finds its bearings in Nature, in the invariable cycle of seasons. Of course, there is a history of climates. Some good souls are reconstructing the history of climatic changes, This does not alter the invariable cycle of seasons that set the pace for agricultural civilization, in such a way that, in effect, it takes its bearings, its symbols, from the seasons and from the sky. The agricultural real is celestial; it is a friend of nature. With industry, with what we call the industrial revolution, all that was slowly swept away.  The artifices multiplied, and at this very moment, we can certify that the real is devouring up nature, that it is substitutes itself for nature, and that it is proliferating. There you have a second metaphor, the metaphor of nature by the real.

I also thought that this is where the charm of the Seminar on Anxiety, which I was rereading after editing it, lies. Because the Seminar on Anxiety presents us with an object little a in a state of nature, if I could put it thus. The object little a thatbecomes detached the body, which is a morsel of the body, whether it concerns a sensitive morsel or not. In the Seminar on Anxiety, object little a is as though in a natural state, it is taken up in that way. But when it concerns the industrial production of the plus-de-jouir, if one had to describe that, one would undoubtedly place it under a whole new angle.

So, my fantasy continued in this way through a question: to be compass-less, is it to be without discourse? Is it, as Deleuze and Guattari, who were generously commented on this afternoon, have said, is it to be chaotic, schizophrenic? And for the first part, are we completely without any compass at all? Perhaps what we have is a different one.

There is a phrase of Lacan’s, which was quoted twice yesterday, and which has served as my own compass, during my course with Eric Laurent of "The Other which does not exist and its ethical committees", a phrase that reports the rise of the object little a to the social zenith. There is the zenith, the highest point, and there is the nadir, the lowest one; both can be located in the heavens. This phrase served me as a compass, since it signaled that we had touched the heaven. We had touched this ancient and unmoving heaven, the unchanging agricultural heaven, the one that is referred to by immobile or slow-changing societies, societies that are cold or lukewarm. What was indicated by this phrase of Lacan’s was that a new star had risen in the social heaven, in the sociel, socielo in Spanish. And this new socio-skyal star, if I may say put it that way, is what Lacan had noted about the object little a, as resulting from a forceful action, from a crossing of the limits, which Freud discovered in his way, precisely in a beyond. An intensive element, which outdates any notion of measure, which goes toward the measureless, following a cycle that is not the cycle of seasons, but a cycle of accelerated renewal, of frenetic innovation. Thus, all of a sudden, I asked myself the question: is not the little object a – how should I put it – the compass of civilization today? And why not?  Let us try to see, through it, the principle of the hypermodern discourse of civilization. So now, let us see if we can construct this discourse.

We are going to provide for this object– it is a debatable denomination for Lacan himself – to name that which concerns an object correlative to a subject, and furthermore, to put it in brackets, to be sure in remains in place. That is a designation that did not seem, if I may say, completely satisfying to Lacan himself. After all, let us use this. Let us give the dominant place to this object in the eventual discourse of civilization;

Our hypothesis is that this object imposes itself on the disoriented subject, inviting him to go beyond his inhibitions. I am going to write, very simply, with the symbol that serves us in common, $.

a -> $

We recently isolated the term of evaluation. "We isolated" – that is putting it too strongly. It was imposed on us, we were overwhelmed by this term, and all of Europe was overwhelmed with the term of evaluation, which in the United States of America, has already, I believe, entered current practice. Now, it ends up taking on a tyrannical turn here in Europe.

Let us consider that the disoriented subject is invited to carry out an evaluation. And here, I write: S1

a -> $

What I am writing as S1 is the "one" which is accountable through the evaluation, the evaluation to be produced. It seems to me all for the better that more at this place it is substituted for the S1 of the master signifier, which is, itself, doomed to fall. I will be able to find yet other meanings of this S1 and to see in it, for example, the signifier of what, in the United States, they call self-help. I have seen it said as autoayuda in Spanish. I don’t even know how it is said in French; I don’t have the impression that it is a current term. We do speak of personal development, but we have shrunk so far from translating self-help into French, one does not yet dare to.

I believe you see where I am coming to with my fantasy: I want to arrive at writing the S2 as well, in the fourth place:

a -> $
--     --
S2    S1

Here is what I propose as fantasy, as structure of the hypermodern discourse of civilization: S2, knowledge, at the place of lie/truth, does not seem to me badly placed today, in civilization. The notion that knowledge is only semblance has acquired many followers and serves to put pressure on us. This is not, properly speaking, a matter of skepticism, nor of a nihilism, but let us say, of a relativism or even, as one frequently puts it among philosophers, a perspectivism, regarding which someone from Argentina told me to what extent he found solace by adhering to a perspectivist philosophy.

There you have what my fantasy leads up to. I cannot do otherwise but follow it, which makes me think that the hypermodern discourse has the structure of the analyst’s discourse! It is an extremely surprising result. For myself, first of all, it is a result that could appear absurd. Basically, it is a challenge, if we wish, that of  justifying this when it appears.

For a start, if one reflects well, without emotion, Lacan did not hesitate to maintain that the master’s discourse has the same structure as the discourse of the unconscious, that the two have the same structure. Well, if we want, the master’s discourse is the social discourse; it is the discourse of a civilization that has prevailed since Antiquity. He had the ability to say: it has the same structure as the discourse of the unconscious. Therefore, it is not absurd, a priori, that the discourse of civilization today should have the same structure as the analyst’s discourse, it is not inconceivable if we consider the bases, related eventually to desire, from which we work.

Thus, if we accept that, we see the difficulty: in former days, the analyst’s discourse was the analyzer of the discourse of the unconscious, which was its inverse, was it not? What Lacan calls the inverse of psychoanalysis, that’s the master’s discourse. The analyst’s discourse could analyze the discourse of the unconscious and its interpretive and subversive power was found, at the same time, thereby to apply to civilization and to the phenomena of societies with which it was involved and with which we were involved, as I have tried to demonstrate, ever since the greatest Antiquity. 

Today, if this is true, if my fantasy leads somewhere – that remains to be seen – if this fantasy is true, the discourse of civilization is no longer the inverse of psychoanalysis, it is the success of psychoanalysis. Bravo! Well played! However, straight away, this puts into question both the means of psychoanalysis, that is to say, interpretation, and its end, and even, its beginning. One could say – if one starts out from the premise that the relation between civilization and psychoanalysis is no longer a relation of the inverse side to the correct one – that it is more of the order of a convergence, that is to say, that each of these four terms remains disjoint to the others in civilization, that, on one hand, the plus-de-jouir commands, the subject works, the identifications fall, and are replaced by the homogenous evaluation of capacities, while the knowledge is activated toward lying and toward progressing just as well, no doubt. One could say that in civilization, these different elements are scattered, and it is only within psychoanalysis, in pure psychoanalysis, that these elements are ordered in a discourse.

In fact, there is, without doubt, a call for us from that side, the side of withdrawal back to the master’s discourse. At least in France, there is no lack of psychoanalysts – they are probably more numerous than we are – who dream about, and occupy themselves with, the idea of restoring the order of the master’s discourse to its place. Restoring the master to its place in order to still be subversive: "Frenchmen, one more effort to be reactionary, otherwise you will not be revolutionaries!"

One sees what this is, given the discomfort that its success has produced for psychoanalysis. I did not bring the text, a very recent one, written about two or three months ago. One sees that it is the notion of a revolutionary practice of psychoanalysis, where psychoanalysis, from now on, consists of passing the master signifiers of tradition over to the famous disoriented subjects. There is a text where one explains today that psychoanalysts who are concerned with these disoriented ones must really give up their ancient subversion in order to begin palm off onto these patients, to put into their hands, into their heads, the signifiers of tradition [4], without which nothing could possibly take place.

I am far from having read that very much in the domain of psychoanalysis today, but I have the impression, for the moment that this has not yet taken on a massive form but it is being sketched out.  And perhaps tomorrow we would have a psychoanalysis that would have the reconstitution of Papa’s unconscious for its objective. Moreover, in principle the psychoanalytic reaction is not different to the ascent of the fundamentalisms. It is the same notion. We are going to see the psychoanalysts reconstituting the unconscious of Papa, yesterday’s unconscious, as one sees the madmen of God appearing on the stage of the world and changing our daily life, our voyages, and finally our entertainments.  It is the same thing: the Freudian fundamentalists …

A second position is decided in psychoanalysis, a position that one could call antiquarian and which consists in saying:  nothing happens, nothing takes place. The unconscious is eternal; the eternal is your God, if I may say.

The third position that is being outlined – if the first is turned toward the past, if the second resides in an eternal present – one could say that the third is progressivist. That is the position that Agnes Aflalo and Eric Laurent exposed yesterday, who obviously do not assume it as their position. They have avoided having to read the books which they studied. This progressivist position consists in putting, in trying to put psychoanalysis into step with the progress of the sciences and of the false sciences, to register a psychoanalysis according to the progress of the sciences and of the false sciences.

I speak while thinking of the valiant translators. I thank them all the more as they do not have my written text.

So, it is not absurd, this attempt. Besides, it was not presented to us under that title. It is also not completely new. The entire Freudian metapsychology was showing signs of weakness toward the middle of the twentieth century. Once could say that Lacan proceeded to a logical-linguistic translation of this metaphysics. He himself realised that he had to take that way in order to give a new breath back to psychoanalysis. Therefore, in effect, it is not absurd, a priori, to try to give a neuro-cognitivistic translation to metapsychology. One could say : it will be judged by the results.

Jorge Forbes finds that I am exaggerating. It is quite possible, I thus show an open spirit …  finally.

I mean to say : one should not insult the future. We ourselves, we have put some time into accounting for the fact that there has been an enormous industry of reflection for – what ? – ten, fifteen, twenty years, as Agnes Aflalo tells us. For twenty years now we have some industrious bees producing honey : translating the metapsychology into neuro-cognitivistic terms and, all the same, we did not seen anything there till the moment when it appeared frontstage, when it began here and there, to create disorder. I am all for those who can become interested in this and bring us news of what is going on there.

Well !  on various grounds, I am going, at this point,  to close a little the opening I made just now – those three positions which I have distinguished that appear to me to verge upon practices of suggestion.

The first, the reactionary practice of psychoanalysis, will proceed by the exaltation of the symbolic as conveyed by tradition. Even further, we will witness some sensational alliances with all forms of tradtionnalism, which emphasise a  striking convergence between the Bible and the « Interpretation of dreams », unquestionnable. 

The second practice that I have called antiquarian, will proceed through the consolidation of an imaginary refuge.

As to the third, which is, no doubt,  already the most advanced, it is dedicated, devoteed to a rallying, it is rallying to the real of science, or so it believes.

I distributed in this way three terms : symbolic, imaginary and real, between the three practices. What these three practices have in common, I think, is what we abbreviate when we write S1   ® S2, which is to say the relation between command and execution or stimulus and response. What these practices aim at, as different as they are, could be stated in these terms – in every case, it works.

Then, there is the Lacanian practice or more precisely there will be the Lacanian practice, since it must be invented. Certainly, that does not mean inventing it ex nihilo. It must be invented in the way that was opened up, in particular, by the later Lacan. And, no doubt, this Lacanian practice allows itself to be felt in what drives us, ourselves.

Thus, the first thing for this fourth practice, that is, the Lacanian practice of the future, in order to distinguish it from the forms which I have staked out, is to clearly perceive the principle which characterizes the three (other) practices, the principle of: "it works". 

Well! In the Lacanian practice we must let ourselves be conducted, even if we baulk at it, by the words we say. The Lacanian practice, if it is to be distinct from the others, can have no other principle than: "it fails".  The Lacanian practice, it fails. You will even recognize in this failing, a leitmotif of the later Lacan. He did everything to place himself in the position of failing his knots, and evidently, this failure is not a contingent one. This failure is a manifestation of an impossible. Moreover, Lacan was led to this by Freud’s own indications, was he not? Psychoanalysis, the impossible profession. In effect, these notions of failure and of the impossible invaded us, his listeners and his readers. He inoculated us with these terms, precisely the terms that protect us, that have protected us, which have been like the antibodies to the discourse of "it works" and the new practices of psychoanalysis which all have the latter as their principle. The Lacanian practice excludes the notion of success. I come to saying this.

I see grimaces, displeasure … not at all so. The objection will obviously be: but then, it has no value, the Lacanian practice. I would like you to note that Lacan never shrank from that. He even concluded one of his last lessons in an enigmatic manner by saying: "it means that psychoanalysis should be a practice without any value".

Furthermore, you have observed, at least in France and in Europe, that in all the therapeutic trials, psychoanalysis comes rather last. Therefore, a feeling of guilt is engendered in psychoanalysts like us and in the others. We too, certainly, of course, have our successes. But perhaps we should not be all that proud either because they partake of such a contingency that they do not invalidate the law of failure but rather demonstrate it. Of course, there is the Pass. Certain subjects succeed at it. Just that they are so few that it is clearly to persuade the others that they have failed. Evidently, it is a rather special kind of logic, concerning which Lacan once gave an indication that I took up, some time ago. It is a logic where the contingency proves, or at least attests to, the impossible. Basically, the fact that it has some contingency means that we cannot even say that failure is the law of the real, according to Lacan’s enigmatic formulation: the real is without law. If there had been a contingence that refutes the impossible, we would have a law in the real. We do not have even that.

So, let us come back to our discourse of civilization. How should we understand what is on the first line of the matheme: the discourse of the hypermodern civilization? What sense to give to this matheme which is so familiar to us, what sense to give it, when, contrary to appearances, it is not about the analytic discourse, but about the discourse of civilization?

I am acting like Pierre Menard in the "Quixote", am I not?

The plus-de-jouir has ascended to the dominant place. Well, the plus-de-jouir is correlative to what, to speak like Damazio – I am cultivating myself – I will call a state of the body itself, and as such, the plus-de-jouir is asexuated. It commands, but what is it that it commands? It does not command an "it works", but an "it fails" which we write, precisely, as $. When one bars a letter, is it not, in general, because one has made a mistake? Here, the plus-de-jouir commands an "it fails" and precisely an "it fails" in the sexual register. I cannot see what prevents us from considering the $ as inscribing:  there is no sexual rapport, especially as its first letter "S", is the same as that in "Sex". This leads us to state that the inexistence of the sexual rapport has become evident, capable of being explicit, written, and that happened from the moment the object little a climbed up to the social.  While within the regime of the master’s discourse, it was a truth repressed by the master signifier. And one must note that, today, the master signifier, the master signifiers, do not succeed any longer in making the sexual rapport exist. Moreover, that is the despair of the religious, except of those who precisely keep their distance from hypermodern civilization and who defend, with talent and vigour, a more ancient form, a more traditional form than today’s, a commendable resistance to the object little a, which is exercised by the Islamic side of civilizations. And if, from the side of hypermodern societies, religion is in despair around this point – sex is a despair for religion, it is nonetheless the sexual question that is slowing down the ascent, the renewed ascent of religion, as it was explained by a Christian sociologist whom I read -, if, from the side of the hypermodern societies religion is in despair, it is because our kind of religion is propped up by the notion of a nature which the real has outdated, which the ascent of the object little a has rendered obsolete.

Evidently, what makes one laugh out loud, or cry, is that a large number of psychoanalysts have no other idea than coming in as a back up. They will swear to you on their experience that the education of the little man necessitates that he would be able to have his identifications with Papa and Mama. I consider that as an abuse. An abuse that their experience cannot absolutely prove. It was already ridiculous when the psychoanalysts made themselves the guardians of a collective reality.But well, it was all right. Even more so when the collective reality they wish to make themselves guardians of, is yesterday’s reality.

Saying that does not imply any enthusiasm at all for the current revisions. As most of you here, I was educated in an older, more traditional manner. I am merely being attentive to what is being published.

Psychoanalysis was invented as a response to a discontent in civilization, a discontent of the subject plunged into a civilization that we could express in the following manner: to make the sexual rapport exist, one must check, inhibit, repress jouissance.

The Freudian practice opened the way to what has manifested itself as a liberation of jouissance, (with all the inverted commas you could wish for).  The Freudian practice anticipated the ascent of the object little a to the social zenith and it contributed to its installation. By the way, it is not a star; it is a Sputnik, an artificial product.

The Lacanian practice, it too, is involved with the consequences of this sensational success. Consequences that are experienced in the nature of a catastrophe. The dictatorship of the plus-de-jouir devastates nature, it breaks up marriage, disperses families and revises the body, not only under the aspects of cosmetic surgery or of dieting – of the anorexic style of life, as Dominique Laurent has put it – not simply that. It could go as far as surgery and bodily intervention which are much more profound. Now that one has deciphered, decoded the genome, one is truly going to be able to go the way which certain people call a post-humanity.

Now, the Lacanian practice, does it play its part in relation to the practice of the IPA and its standards? Undoubtedly, but above all, it plays its part in relation to the new Reals that are testified to by the discourse of hypermodern civilization.

It plays its part in the dimension of a Real that fails, fails in such a way that the relation between the two sexes is going to become more and more impossible, so that a one-all-alone, if I may put it like that, will be the post-human standard, the one-all-alone filling in the questionnaires in order to receive his evaluation, and the one-all-alone commanded by a plus-de-jouir which presents itself under its most anxiety arousing aspect.

The lacking is the principle of all substitution and it is even what allows us, at certain moments, to say: Bingo! The Lacanian practice, on the contrary, operates in the dimension of a missing. We, in the Lacanian practice, also say: Bingo! It is a miracle, a grace. It must be well recognized, as Lacan himself did, that it is not calculable.

That analytic interpretation of which one understands how it proceeds is not an analytic interpretation. This is how I understand that Lacan was taking us by the hand, in order to finally reassure us about this: there are only different ways to fail, of which some are more satisfying than the rest. Those are not simply witty words; it is not simply a Witz. It is the condition for holding on in the discourse of hypermodern civilization. Therefore, this Lacanian practice will be the form, the deformation, the transformation, in a topological sense, which will permit psychoanalysis to overcome the real consequences that are being produced by the fact of its exercise for a century long, by its insertion into a civilization, and that are now converging on the structure of the analytic discourse. And these consequences are returning upon psychoanalysis itself. The consequences of psychoanalysis are returning on psychoanalysis and on its causeways. One could even say that what was its condition of possibility became like a condition of impossibility. I said possibility, however, it is more of the contingence of the event Freud, and it could be that the impossibility that was already expressed by Freud and that was articulated by Lacan, would be the very condition itself for the exercise of psychoanalysis. In any case, it is what we discover, not through the intellect, but within the practice, namely, that it exists on a basis of impossible. Besides, we can observe that we have lost the taste for telling each other our therapeutic successes. It is more when we testify to a stumbling block that we feel it is true. Maurizio Mazarotti, yesterday, who brought a testimony of an offside interpretation, a mishap of the practice that suited him much more than would have a euphoric narration of: "I pressed this button, which gave this result and the veils came tumbling down".

And it is precisely because one does not understand how it functions, because it does not succeed by pushing buttons, whatever may be the perfection of the diagnostics or the clinical experience etc., that is precisely why we pass our time in explaining to each other, trying to explain to each other what happened and testifying to it.

Psychoanalysis, which has shaken up the semblances on which the discourses and the practices are based, psychoanalysis, which has unveiled in that way what Lacan called the economy of jouissance, psychoanalysis, which is, if I may say, a Socratism crossed with cynicism, well, now the derision and the cynicism have passed into the social, with just enough of the humanitarian to conceal what it means. This propagation of derision has not spared psychoanalysis itself. Psychoanalysis observes today that it is the victim of psychoanalysis. And even the psychoanalysts, eventually, they themselves are victims of psychoanalysis, victims of the suspicion that psychoanalysis instills and distills when they do not manage to believe in the unconscious. The semblances that psychoanalysis is produced in – the father, the Oedipus, castration, the drive, etc. – are also shaken up. That is why for twenty years now, we have seen this recourse to the discourse of science, from which one hopes it will provide us with the real that it involves, and from which one hopes to receive the plus-de-jouir, that is to say, to cross the barrier that separates S2 from the little a in the discourse of hysteria.

Now at this point, we must recall the condition of contingency under which psychoanalysis appeared, that is, Freud’s discovery of the hysterical symptom, a discovery that was made in the context of the scientific discourse and that had bearing on a scientific real, a Galilean-like real, an accommodating real, inclusive of a knowledge. Freud’s discovery was made in the context of the psycho-physiological materialism of the end of the 19th century. And in the context of this psycho-physiological materialism, thus in the context of a real one, of a Galilean type, that is, inclusive of a knowledge, he discovered that there is sense in the real. It must be said that this created a scandal. Psychoanalysis appeared like a corruption of scientific knowledge. Because scientific knowledge may very well be in the real, but not for saying anything. That there is a sense in the real implies that it wants to say something. And for psychoanalysis, that there is a sense in the real was the condition of its possibility. Sense in the real is the support of the being of the symptom, in the analytic sense. Nevertheless, they let it be, they let Freud be. We could ask ourselves why? They let him be, he and his disciples who set themselves to proliferating. They left them to trade the symptom with the mental symptom; they left them to trade that with some sense. They even let psychiatry be won over by that. Probably, it was because they never had the knowledge in the real that could respond to symptoms of this nature, apart from a rather rough version: they had lobotomy, sleeping cure – in short, rough. So, they let it be, they let Freud trade with his intention of sense in the real. They allowed the treatment of symptoms through the manipulation of sense. Besides, at least from the time of Pinel, one was already utilizing the imperative sense, the S1, for treating the symptom - it was already a tradition. Basically, they accepted the Freudian S2, that is, the associative sense, alongside the imperative sense, right until the present time. Until the present time, when, if I may say so, to the discontent of psychoanalysis, a split has been produced in the being of the symptom. Precisely a split of the real and the sense, but which has been expected, expected logically. It results in the pulverization of the symptom, which is testified to by the successive editions of the DSM, after the first one, which was psychodynamic. What was holding the symptom together was the saying. The symptom had something to say; it was, definitively, the unconscious intentionality that was holding the symptom together. Well now, in the word symptom, the "sym" has gone and there is nothing left but the "ptom". The symptom is henceforth reduced to the trouble. And English says it even better when it speaks of disorder, a word that takes its reference from the order of the real.

Indeed, as far as science is concerned, the real works. And that is what the knowledge in the real provides. That is why we can say that science has some affinities with the discourse of the master, besides, Lacan pointed it out a thousand times. It must be said that, in civilization, it is no longer believed in. On the contrary, now, in the hypermodern civilization, one has the idea that scientific knowledge in the real fails, is going to fail. Genetically modified organisms, the nuclear bomb, those no longer generate confidence in the good functioning of the knowledge in the real, from the moment when, of course, it is we who are beginning to traffic in it. What used to be the symptom ad is now no more than trouble is from this moment divided into two, redoubled. From the point of view of the real, it is treated out of sense by biochemistry, by medications that are more and more targeted. The side of the sense continues to exist under the form of a residue. The side of the sense is made the object of a extra treatment that, essentially, takes on two forms, I believe: on one hand, a listening of pure semblance – "come so I will listen to you" – which has the value of an accompaniment and frequently, even of a supervision of the operation which is carried out on the real by the means of medication. Indeed, the biochemists are the first to say: "but not at all, it is necessary that our patients should also be listened to".

The second form taken by the listening of pure semblance is the practice of the authoritarian and programmed language of the cognitive-behavioral therapies. We thus have the symptom divided into two. On the side of the real, one aims at the more or less suppression of the trouble, and on the side of the sense, it is a reception of the sense, a flowing of the sense, and at the same time, a leveling of the sense. It must be said that it is especially on the part of the cognitive-behavioral therapies that one sees a refusal, a refutation of the symptom. Well now, within psychoanalysis the symptom has the value of truth, it represents truth under a mask, thus as a lie, and it is necessary to take the time to verify the symptom, in the sense of making true.

Today, we have seen in France that it is precisely this time that cannot be taken for granted. How to respond to this?

Well, on the one hand, we have a psychoanalytic protest, sympathetic but vain, which consists in challenging the knowledge in the real. Secondly, we have what I have called a rallying to the knowledge in the real. Thirdly, we have the attempt to renew the sense of the symptom, which Lacan applied himself to. It is what he introduced by modifying the spelling itself of the word, under the name of sinthome. At thispoint one must return to Freud and his discontent in civilization, which was not simply a diagnostic but the support of psychoanalysis, its very promise of success. I take as reference mostly the project that he wrote in 1908, under the title " ‘Civilized’ sexual morality and modern nervous illness" [5]. It is an amusing text to reread, it is not long. All the observers of the epoch, at the turn of the century, between the 19th and the 20th centuries were noting the new symptoms that had marked the turn, and Freud quotes them. The most famous is the one that has remained as Beard’s neurasthenia. All the observers noticed the increase, the propagation of nervous illness, as a social phenomenon. I brought the text here, I will not read it. It is a very amusing passage, really good stuff, which gives a description of modern life, the fatigue involved, the over stimulation. One could truly think it was about nowadays. What is striking, is that Freud quotes all that at the beginning to subsequently put it all aside and extract, on the contrary, a unique factor, an essential determinant, monogamy, the monogamous exigencies. It is thus that he outlines in less than no time a theory of the sexual enjoyment in civilization. You are not going to lose anything in these fantasies. First stage: the free access to jouissance. It is truly as Jean-Jacques Rousseau said: "Let us begin by dismissing all the facts". Secondly: the restriction of jouissance that is permitted only for aims of reproduction. Third, today, jouissance is not allowed except in the framework of monogamous marriage. It is amusing to follow in detail. Freud isolated what brings on neurosis, what makes neurotic, that is: the effort to make the sexual relation exist and the sacrifice of jouissance that it involves. One could say that here we have the finger pointed at what Lacan will bring in, which does not consist at all in rejecting the scientific real and the knowledge in the real. Because rejecting the scientific real, rejecting the discourse of science is a course of perdition, which opens the way to all the psy maneuvers. Maneuver is not an offensive term. Not rejecting this knowledge, admitting that there is knowledge in the real, but at the same time, stating that in this knowledge there is a hole, that sexuality makes a hole in this knowledge. Thus, it is, without doubt, a transformation of Freud, and a new alliance between science and psychoanalysis has taken place, if I may dare to say so, that rests on the non-rapport. Therefore, it is not the "there is no sexual rapport" that grounds the Lacanian practice, since this is to be understood in regard to the statement "there is a knowledge in the real", and the "there is no sexual rapport" is what provides the balance with the "there is a knowledge in the real". It is the sexual rapport that makes an objection to the total power of the discourse of science. Besides, at the moment, they leave the matrimonial agencies in the hands of grannies that have the experience. The have not yet installed evaluators in the matrimonial agencies. That will not take long to happen!

However, for the moment, it is nonetheless striking that it makes a hole in the real and in the knowledge in the real. One can represent it simply as: the software is lacking at this point. It is the principle of a practice or a clinic where the symptoms are not troubles; they are not disorders since at this point there is no order. That is to say that the knowledge in the real does not dictate its law. One cannot intervene at this point from the direction of the knowledge in the real. It is a negative statement, which calls up positive statements. I must choose those now because I am close to the end.

First of all, the symptoms are symptoms of non-rapport. That means: of course they are articulated in signifiers, but that is secondary. These are not essentially messages. They are articulated in signifiers, but that, that is the chatting of symptoms. Symptoms are, above all, signs of the sexual non-rapport, and eventually, signs of punctuation. Yesterday, I heard a patient speak of the anxiety, which for her, is like a comma connected to her body, like a pause in her breathing. So, symptoms are signs. This is a different access to the access by message.

On the other hand, symptoms are necessary. They do not stop being written and that is the basis for their equivalence with the etcetera (the real). They are real at some point where they could be perfectly confused with the real that works. That is the paradox. That is the reason why Lacan says that the symptom is real, he says: one must believe in it, precisely, they are so real that it is arbitrary to detach them as such. Rather it is necessary that someone wants to get it.  Would you like an example? Take homosexuality. It is presented as a trouble of a natural order. Today, whenever one imputes to a trouble that it is a trouble of a natural order to a trouble, there is only one thing to do: one must create a lobby. And if you create a lobby, you manage to put a stop to its being a trouble of the natural order.  As you know, it is as a consequence of pressure, of a relation of political force that homosexuality stopped being a disorder, itis no longer classified as a disorder.

So, we see at what point, here, we join up again with the consequences of psychoanalysis, of psychoanalysis: perverse jouissance is permitted. What is left is to know what to do with it.

Yet another positive statement: symptoms are symptoms-jouissance, if I may put it thus, they express the fact that jouissance is not in the place where it should be, where people thought it was, that is to say in the sexual rapport, whose caricature Freud gives, under the species of monogamy. It is never the good jouissance, that which it should be. From there we accede to a certain number of point-knots of this clinic, of putting into question, which I am not going to tell you about today. They pass through questions such as: is the unconscious corporal?

The poetics of the interpretation is not for beautifying, it is not some kitsch. The poetics of interpretation, it is a materialism of interpretation. Someone who has been seeing a patient for nine years now told me yesterday, or the day before, in supervision, that she had obtained a completely new effect by saying "Basta!", in a tone whose virulence broke with the sweet voice that she had the rest of the time. One must put one’s body there to carry the interpretation to the power of the symptom[6].

I am looking for a point to suspend this, not to conclude.

The Freudian unconscious works till it drops. Marco Focchi, brought along a list of references where we see the unconscious exhaust itself in work, while the Lacanian parletre, not in the least. The Lacanian parletre with which Lacan wanted to replace the Freudian unconscious. It seems to me that he wanted to replace it in order to respond to the problem that I posed on the blackboard, namely, that psychoanalysis has to be moved into high gear, to move along quickly. The Lacanian parletre, it does not work. The Lacanian parletre, it rather crawls, simmers, infects. It belongs more to the parasitic style.

Therefore, the considerations that I had to skip over led to an inversion of what we traditionally say: the subject supposed to know is the pivot of the transference. It seems to me that the later Lacan says something different, he says rather: the transference is the pivot of the subject supposed to know. To put it differently, he says rather that what makes the unconscious exist as knowledge, is love. Furthermore, the question of love from Seminar Encore onwards receives an altogether special promotion, because love is what can mediate between the ones-all-alone. Thus, saying that it is imaginary, in fact creates a difficulty. It is to say that the unconscious does not exist. The primary unconscious does not exist as knowledge. For it to become knowledge, to make it exist as knowledge, there must be love. And that is why Lacan could say at the end of his Seminar The Names of the Father: a psychoanalysis, it demands that you love your unconscious. It is the only means of establishing a relation between S1 and S2. Because in the primary state, there are only disjoint "ones", there are only scattered "ones". Therefore, a psychoanalysis demands that you love your unconscious in order to make something exist, not the sexual rapport, but the symbolic relation. But a psychoanalyst, he is not required to love the unconscious. He is not required to love the effects of truth of the unconscious. Oh but that, that is difficult, because an analyst is also an analysand, or an ex-analysand. And nevertheless, for what could be a Lacanian practice, one should not love the true any more than the beautiful and the good. That’s it, thank you.



Translated by Rivka Warshawsky with the kind help of Franck Rollier


  1. We? They? Old? Young? Moral?
  2. Psychoanalysis questions excessive cruelty
  3. Yes, the flaw was clearly there from long before
  4. Yes, one should always educate the "young" to become older.
  5. It seems that Freud, or Strachey, at least put civilization in inverted commas, it was not to be left any moral high ground
  6. How masterly, the analytic act, except that some symptoms do not cooperate with force, how surprising!