Luis Solano: Yesterday, at the last study days (journées) of the ECF, you announced the publication of Seminar XXIII, Le sinthome, for next year. Can you confirm this information?
Jacques-Alain Miller: The manuscript is with the publishers, Seuil. The book will be available in bookshops in March, the publication of the next Seminar is planned for October. Further, the editorial program established with Seuil organises the release of the next publications on the same rhythm.
LS: What accounts for such a program?
JAM: Lacan's centenary took place in April 2001, and I always thought that it would be a cut.
LS: What cut?
JAM: I thought that it would be time to historicise Lacan, as I said at the time in my discussions with Seuil. By that I meant to acknowledge the historical distance that separates us from him, to situate him in his time, which is now further removed from ours, to release the manuscripts and even to collect memories, as we already started to do in Qui sont vos psychanalystes? (Who are your psychoanalysts?) You may recall that at the time of the centenary, in an intervention which is reproduced in my Lettres à l'opinion éclairée (Clear Like Day Letter), I even proposed to all of Lacan's students, and especially to those that are not in our School, to collaborate with me in this task.
LS: Does this still hold?
JAM: It holds.
LS: And yet you have not been very successful on this point! There is still some resentment towards you in these quarters!
JAM: For sure, but...
LS: It was made apparent yet again in Le Figaro littéraire in September.
JAM: Listen, let us not be hasty. For example, a long time ago I had conceived the project of "companion-books" concomitant with Lacan's Seminar, on the model of English Companion-books . Well, you would never believe who has just reminded me of this project. One would like to do this with me. It is not necessarily being asked with the most exquisite politeness, but the demand is there.
LS: Who is this person?
JAM: Let us leave this aside for the time being. During the year of the centenary, I had evoked, with Seuil, the creation of "Cahiers Jacques Lacan," and some of our "separated brothers," if I may, were willing to contribute. A prototype was even designed by Seuil.
LS: These Cahiers never came out.
JAM: The Lindenberg affair, then the Accoyer affair, delayed the realisation of all these projects, but everything is in place to take them up again.
LS: And the Seminar?
JAM: Concerning the Seminar, I always thought that at sixty, if I wanted to finsih the task, I would have to increase the rhythm of publication. I have reached this age last February, and since then I accept that I am no longer a young man. It so happens that this moment coincides with the desire of the new management at Seuil to reassert its engagement with Lacan's oeuvre after a number of disturbances encountered by the publishing house. Hence the programme of the Seminar. There are other ongoing projects.
LS: Which are they?
JAM: The new publishing manager will announce them soon.
LS: Who is he?
JAM: Olivier Cohen. He is a well-known publisher, he created the éditions de l'Olivier. He is a philosophy graduate, and was a student of Desanti's. Psychoanalysis played a part in his life. I have just met him, it seems that everything is in place for us to have a good relation. There is also Monique Labrune, who is a philosophy gradute too. She arrived last year to co-ordinate the domain in which the Freudian Field (Champ freudien) collection inscribes itself, and we get on very well. Evelyne Cazade, whom I have known for ever, remains in place, with her precious competence in the edition of Lacan. Isabelle Creusot, a friend, is with the press relations department. Finally, the design is in the hands of Valérie Gautier, to whom I owe, for example, the covers of the last two Ornicar?
LS: They are great!
JAM: Well, she also beautifully designed a new series of small volumes of Lacan, the first two of which will be published in January. I presented them this morning to the representatives of Seuil.
LS: What is it?
JAM: I don't want to be secretive, but I cannot say everything either. Olivier Cohen has planned to communicate in the near future on this topic.
LS: Since you have been talking about the publishing house, I am sure you know that the take-over of Seuil by La Martinière gave rise to some concern in our world.
JAM: It is evident that 'Daddy's edition', to speak like the général de Gaulle, is over. Great capitalistic changes are under way everywhere. I got to know Seuil nearly forty years ago. I don't find it difficult to be nostalgic of the time of Paul Flamand and Jean Bardet, a time which was also the time of the first François Wahl, with whom I discussed the publication of Cahiers pour l'analyse, then the publication of the Four Fundamental Concepts and that of the Seminar. I can think that it was the nec plus ultra of the publishing world, and that the level has been constantly dropping, like at school. But what do you think those that saw Bernard Grasset introduce advertisement in publishing, and launch his authors, the "four M.", as one would soap, think? Let us not talk of the Gutenberg disaster. To write in stone looked a little bit better. The truth of modern times, to paraphrase Baudelaire, is that everything changes faster than a mortal's heart. So there is always the same choice to be made: either to go with the movement without further ado, go further even, or lock oneself up in one's sadness, or persevere by sailing as close to the wind as possible.
LS: So, as for the present situation...
JAM: In the present case, though I deplore the hasty departure of Claude Cherki and the retirement of Françoise Peyrot, I see that a number of features of the identity of Seuil are preserved. The managing director of Seuil is the son of Paul Flamand, Pascal, whom Judith Miller has know for ages, Isabelle, the daughter of Jean Bardet, remains, and Olivier Cohen seems to be a man of substance. What is decisive is that a good portion of Lacan's work is there, including all his writing, and that I want to stay close to this work in order to make this tumultuous work exist in the forms which are those of the contemporary publishing existence, and which condition access to the public.
LS: You are not saying anything of monsieur de La Martinière himself?
JAM: He has not sought to meet me, nor have I sought to meet him. As far as I can tell, concerning my field of action, editorial decisions are taken at the level of Seuil, and it is the interlocutors I have named that take them. If the shareholders were to come and hinder the good progression of things, it would be another matter.
LS: What would you do?
JAM: I would act in consequence.
LS: Would you like to say something about Le Monde this evening?
JAM: About the form, the smallest common denominator of style in the French press is decidedly "consumer protection". About the content: when the legislator has kicked the ball into touch and the Government is at half time, will the minister want to draw up problematical decrees with urgency ? I believe Mr. Doust-Blasy to be too fine a politician to make that mistake.
LS: Since the diffusion of the first interview, I have received some questions and propositions for you.
JAM: As have I. I will answer them.
LS: In one of them there is a question about Lacan's unpublished letters.
LS: Some ask how to collaborate on the Notebooks you mentioned. They also want to know what "companion-books" are.
JAM: Lacan didn't want a critical edition of the Seminar, so I thought of separate volumes that would bring together the material an interested reader might turn to.
LS: What material?
JAM: References, hard to access texts, translations, a few clarifications, and indexes. In short, scholarly works, modest, "unobtrusive" as one says in English, sober and precise.
LS: Like for example, the papers on the counter transference that Lacan quotes in the seminar L'Angoisse and that were translated about ten years ago by Navarin editions?
JAM: For example.
LS: Now I would like to ask you a question about a word you used Saturday night at the School's General Assembly: "satellization".
JAM: What did I say? That the Accoyer affair had incited certain groups to consult with the SPP, and that some would ultimately become its satellites.
LS: Why "ultimately"? Isn't that already the case? Someone mentioned the rampant IPAsation of the minds.
JAM: There remains a contradiction all the same between the standard and the short session.
LS: But there are also contradictions between them and us. And there are Lacanians that work using the standard session, not only in Argentina, but now in France.
JAM: That's true, there is some of everything. But there are a lot of Lacanians outside the School who find the perspective of becoming satellites repugnant.
LS: Above all when they will read the editorial in the IPA's last newsletter. They invite to "better answer the needs of mental health", followed by three sentences that all begin with the same phrase: "There is no dishonor in". In particular: "There is no dishonor in bending to quantitative methods while adapting them to the particular conditions of our clinic."
JAM: Yes, that's the CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) line. That's not the only one. There's also the CPP "clinical psychopathology" line. There is already a dispute between the two, the future "students of psychotherapy" that one imagines. There are IPAists on either side. They'll end up striking an accord.
LS: What is the SPP?
JAM: More on the CPP side. It will drag in its wake a few satellites that will distribute a sterilized Lacan, in CPP format. Its traditional policy is to take up places.
LS: And us?
JAM: We could lay claim to those places of course, but it is more conform to our own vocation to contest the order, to plow our own furrows, and to make an entirely different offer.
LS: And the psychotherapists?
JAM: They really do defend themselves quite well. We will be meeting soon, I hope.
LS: And the Forum of February 5th?
JAM: Too soon to talk about it.
Translated by Veronique Voruz and Julia Richards.