Lacanian Press Agency
París, Thursday 15 November, 2001

- FOR PSYCHIATRY, by Sophie Bialek
- CINEMA REVIEW, by Anne-Sophie Janus
- REPORT FROM NEW YORK, by Julia Richards

Paris, Nov. 15 (LPA) – Agency correspondence . Opening session of the CNS Congress centred on the « Lacan years », on November 13. Mr Andre Green introduced himself as « His Majesty’s opponent ». He also voiced his refusal to "mouthfeed the lacanians".

This summoning of the oral object at the end of his exposition was consistent with its content : a series of judgements on taste. The audience was thus informed that Mr Green was fond of tete-a-tete breakfasts with Lacan in the sixties, that he did not like the tone in which Lacan used to ask Serge Leclaire to erase the board, etc. The general mood of this exposition may be described as morose.

The speaker faithfully admitted that his taste was not shared, and that Jacques Lacan was increasingly read and appreciated in the member Societies of the International psychoanalytic association. He added: "Success means nothing." He showed his colleagues indulging in the mistake of too much reading of Lacan thus: "Latin America is a great consumer of psychoanalytic systems. I have seen psychoanalytic societies move on from Freud to Klein, then to Bion, then Kohut, then to Lacan as reference systems".

The LPA will acquiesce to give Mr Green the right to reply if he should wish to amend or complete our report.

Translated by Liliana Mauas-Singer


Paris, Nov. 15 (LPA) – Sophie Bialek, member of the ECF, sent us a copy of the letter she addressed to « La Lettre de Psychiatrie Francaise » » « In his editorial of September 2001, Christian Vasseur rightly calls for « a true, in-depth, a reorganisation of psychiatry and mental health ». For this purpose, he seeks for a renewed link with the spirit of debate and elaboration for which French psychiatry is known in the course of its scientific history. » The following comments are definitely made in the light of this perspective.

I believe, indeed, that the difficulties that arose lately in connection with public authorities and regularly reported in your publication, originate essentially in a point of wrongful acknowledgment embedded at the heart of French institutional psychiatry. Christian Vasseur remarks that "psychiatry, supporting itself from the beginning on a psycho-dynamic approach of mental phenomena, imposed itself as an autonomous medical specialty. This took shape in the 1968 separation between neurology and psychiatry. Not even the discovery of psychotropic agents in 1952 had questioned this evolution: there was only a change in the direction of advances in institutional psychotherapy at the time to include these new tools. » I admit that I cannot entirely agree with this conception, and I will give the reasons.

Couldn’t we consider, for instance, that the reintegration of psychiatry to the heart of scientific medicine and under the leadership of neuroscience that occurred in the eighties (suppression of the competition for admission to internship at psychiatric hospitals, integration of psychiatry in the medical school syllabus as just another additional specialty) rather indicated, on the contrary, the disappearance of this "autonomous specialty" status conquered in ’68? This is at least my point of view.

I am not at all unaware of what constitutes, in my opinion, the historical context of these reforms in the eighties ; namely, the promotion of the DSMIII, parallel to the empowerment of biological psychiatry at the expense of psychoanalysis. French psychiatrists, sustained by their clinical tradition and their loyalty to the founding fathers of the specialty policy – for some of them loyalty to someone called J. Lacan – could for some time (and perhaps even today) believe they were safe from the consequences of this mutation. This belief originates in a form of blindness, in my opinion. We are all able to see the full consequences today. What is happening, particularly since the beginning of the nineties, if not a powerful rise of a unified clinic of depression correlated to accelerated systematisation of antidepressant prescriptions as verified in all practice areas of our discipline.

France is the number one world consumer of psychotropic agents; Prozac is the third most prescribed drug in France –all specialties altogether – closely followed by Paxil. Quite a gloomy balance.

The supporters of institutional psychotherapy have certainly « integrated » psychotropic agents as a new tool, yet the question is : where exactly ? The thing remains to this day, amazingly veiled. No knowledge has ever been elaborated by them on this subject. Hospital psychiatry has thus left in the hands of biological psychiatry the sole responsibility to establish and dictate the use of psychotropic agents and to impose a clinic of drugs of which Major Depressive Disorder is presently the inept misadventure. In a field induced by uncontrolled pharmaceutical dynamics, institutional psychiatry is limited to function as social work.

Who is today in better capacity than psychiatrist in the field to appreciate the damage wrought by mental health policies dictated by the contemporary imperative of wellbeing ? Who could better testify on the future of this psychotic subject in his charge at times justly qualified by one of my colleagues as cosmetic psychiatry? "He is doing better, he smiles", this is what a psychiatrist in the field recently announced to the dazzled family of a psychotic patient on antidepressants for eight days… How does the psychiatrist conceive the future of his mission? As an agent of mood lifting?

French psychiatry will not enter the third millennium unless it restores a differential clinic of psychoses, even one running against present trends, that will promote reasoned use of psychotropics. The prime condition for the establishment of this differential clinic is that depressive mood be relocated in the right place. This will not happen without involving a recalculation of the place of hospitalization in the health care system. The duration of hospitalization seems to be increasingly determined by the lag time of antidepressants. The wife of a paranoid patient readmitted after a suicide attempt three days after release from the general hospital at the end of three weeks of antidepressant medication asked the following question : « I am told he is given a treatment that takes three weeks to produce effects. Why don’t they wait to see what happens?" This is just one testimony among others in my daily practice.

.In the absence of a clinically founded approach to our practices, psychotherapy included, psychiatry will be left at the mercy of the accounting logic of the modern master, with no other objection than some not far-reaching humanistic protest. It is essentially the psychiatrists’ responsibility to cope with this problem.

Translated by Liliana Mauas-Singer


Paris, Nov. 11 (ALP) — The idea that the human subject and his mind can be reduced to an apparatus of adaptation to the world is a doctrine which supposes a good many false facts. It makes it difficult to situate what can be attributed to the rejection of the world or to mental reservation. It implies the presupposition that the human subject, confronted with his own interests, a puritan variant of the good, will adapt spontaneously to it. It is enough that this presupposition be secularly emancipated from the idea of evil, that the problems the "akratia" reserved for Aristotle be forgotten, that finally we want to account "scientifically" for the contents of the subject’s conscience for the inanity to be complete.

This is what renders ridiculous the essays of psychology about the "sleeping" terrorist or spy, a term admitted into English in the 1950’s, as William Safire notes in his November 12th column. The French prefer the metaphor of the "mole", of a more dreamy tradition. The CIA, which shares the psychological university presuppositions of behaviourism under its cognitivist form, trusts lie detectors to sound the hearts and the souls of its agents. This is why the presence within its ranks of high-level moles such as Aldrich Ames was only revealed by the collapse of the Russian bureaucracy. A complete surprise! The disarray that the commentaries following the revelation attest to augur today’s problems.

By escaping detection despite the technical refinements of satellites and phone-taps, the case of Mohamed Atta and his friends poses serious problems for this "scientific" psychology. How could Egyptian families become acquainted with the West, its customs and its practices for three generations, find their place in the society of technology, and then end up by rejecting it? Why did their sons, supported by the most outspoken familial ambition, choose to cut themselves off from this society with such determination, choosing to die, without letting anything show?

Everyone should reread, with Freud, who so much appreciated him, Dostoievski, who added to the catalogue of Shakespearean passions the description of the great nihilist passion. The readers of the ALP have already read Jacques-Alain Miller’s letter dated September 19, 2001, entitled "The Tenderness of Terrorists". A distinction must certainly be made between the nihilist suicide and the mystical suicides of those who are annihilated by their belief in intoxicating paradises. It is no less true that the mental reserve of those who prepare for it effectively deserves to be studied. How can we not consider with Freud and Lacan that the truth of the subject is manifested above all in the lie. The psychoanalytic discipline is not a continuation of the confessional, as Michel Foucault once thought. If we wish to relate it to a religious framework of Catholic origin, it would be better to put it in the place reserved for the "mental restriction characteristic of Christian humanism and for which the admirable moralists the Jesuits were so long criticised for having codified its use." (Lacan)

What then can we learn from the cognitive approach of the lie and how can it orient us within the mystery of our "fellow-beings"? Daniel Dennett, an eminent professor of "cognitive studies" is in Paris this week to give the "Jean Nicod Lectures". It is the occasion to listen to him and recall what he wrote ten years ago in his book "Conscience explained", very well translated by Pascal Engel: "My smug optimism pushes me to suppose that the answers we must bring, in the domain of ontology, concerning the results of fiction, do not pose the slightest profound philosophical problem: fiction is fiction; there is no Sherlock Holmes". [translated into English from the French translation] During our troubled times where smug optimism is no longer in style, it might be that it is conscience that poses no profound problem and the fictions named Ames, Atta or Romand (cf the film "L’Emploi du temps" which has just come out) lead us to ask vital questions about the belief in the Other that sustains the subject in his world.

Translated by Thelma Sowley


Paris, 21 October. (LPA). Nothing seen in Hiroshima? "H Story", of Nobuhiro Suwa. In our days, a movie making team directed by the Japanese film director (Nobuhiro Suwa, playing himself) work in vain to remake "Hiroshima mon amour". The shooting finished prematurely, and this project will not see the light of day. By this inability to say and to show Hiroshima – birthplace city of the film director – "H Story" is born, "work in progress" out of the ruins of a film which was never finished. "H Story" is an articulation of two moments, the "making of" of the interrupted shootings and the saving outcome.

The first part of "H Story" takes the form of a rudimentary pre-montage, by juxtaposing the rushes of the remake. Long flat-sequences follow one another, limited by mute outlines, variations of light, cameras ready to shoot, clap-boards and announcements. These blocks –units of action, of place and of time – are knotted together impassively and then are, from time to time, introduced by photographs in black and white extracted from the film of Alain Resnais. Beatrice (Beatrice Mow) holds the role of Emmanuelle Riva. Engaged in a dangerous body to body with the text (the original text of Marguerite Duras), she multiplies confusions and lapses of memory. As she confesses, she does not know what she is saying. By force of the repetitions, she becomes deaf to the words of the text, insensitive to their sense. Already isolated linguistically she is threatened to become a foreigner to her own tongue.

At the half way mark, "H Story" swings. A linking sequence raises the question of the oversight and brings the film to a dead end. At the end of a long night of filming, Beatrice is destroyed, physically and morally; she knows no more, she is not able to say the first line of its text: "It is horrible, I am beginning to not remember you".

"Hiroshima mon amour" is therefore, forgotten, the weight of the memory of this film drains. Thus, it can begin a true dialogue with the city. Beatrice, who usually never leaves the hotel, ventures to the street. Up till now, the camera only filmed very close planes, extracting the faces and the bodies from the environment. Now it goes backwards, and shows us the young woman, reconciled with herself, to discover and to live Hiroshima.

"H Story", an experimental and hybrid film, is carried out with the driving force of oblivion.

Paris, 5 of November , (LPA) – Of Water and of Fire: "The Deep End", of David Siegel and Scott McGhee.

Margaret deplores the bad companions of her son. She hopes to withdraw him from the ill fated charm of Reese, lover of the adolescent and wastrel owner of a night club. The film is opened with the confrontation between the mother and the seducer. Taken to the anteroom of the "Deep End", Margaret expects to find Reese. A door is opened, and the light of the day streams in. Overexposed and blinded, Margaret carries her hand to her eyes. This sudden flaring up of the image sets the wick of the narrative on fire and initiates a chain reaction for an hour forty minutes.

Devout and peaceful mother of the family, disturbed by the events that she fails to grasp, Margaret is shaken. She submerges in the turbulent waters of crime and risks shattering in the reefs to protect her son. Roused by maternal love, she rediscovers a steel-like strength. Carried along by powerful currents, she rebounds in each dramatic episode, slipping on each incident to the epilogue.

A metallic look with a coldness and a corrosive roughness; blue iced pupils, burning braziers from which a blind determination arises; and a face as pale as a spectre which makes her red hair blaze: in Margaret the opposites fuse. Limpid and opaque, reflexive and dynamic, she is water and fire. She oscillates from time to time between an asexual mother with a serious air to a fatal seductress all dressed in red.

Water is a predominant element: the film of Siegel and McGhee has a backdrop of Lake Tahoe. Filmed at dawn, its cold and smooth surface is reflected. Filmed at night, the blue reflections of its water undulate upon the bodies and the faces. Symbol of the symbiosis between man and nature, it offers to the corpse of Reese a magnificent aquatic burial: rocks perfectly polished by the erosion emerge from the depths as stone tombs supported one against the other. Fire is also present. It is above all the apparition of the sun beyond the mountains and the sudden lighting of the landscape, of the extension of water and of Margaret. It is the fire of the action that encourages the story and its people, to its self-consumption, its resolution.

Some impossible tears to retain and a loving spark painfully suffocated. In this way is closed this parenthesis, an episode of the life of a woman desperately isolated in the bosom of an indifferent family, of an absent husband, of a son who does not want to know, of a father-in-law who pretends not to understand.

Translated by Susana Tillet

Report from New York

Paris, Oct. 28 (ALP) – Travelling in the northeast of the United States during the second week of October for personal reasons, I was impressed by the effects September 11th had on the American people.

At Charles De Gaulle-Roissy airport on September 11th, while waiting for the boarding call for my flight to Washington, I was talking on the phone. While listening with one ear to the phone, with my other ear I could hear the loudspeaker. The announcement in French was not at all usual. I was sure not to have heard right. "The American government has suspended all flights to the United States". I hear the translation into English. It’s worse. I’m sure I’ve understood, but I can’t assimilate it. At the counter, information will be given. Passengers rush towards the airline staff. Reactions vary: "Was there a nuclear bomb" a woman asks placidly, "Do you think we’ll be able to take off in two hours?" asks a man. In response to which I permit myself to say "But you’re dreaming, Sir!" I change my ticket and, in anguish, leave the airport as quickly as possible to go to those I love.

Roissy-Charles De Gaulle, October 5: the same airline staff at the same posts do the same work; there’s something reassuring about that. On my arrival in Dallas, I am attentive to the changes produced by this encounter with the real. There is already one, personal: I accepted the offer of a member of my family to make a three hour detour to come get me, thus avoiding taking a domestic flight.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag

Everywhere the American flag is hanging, waving, quivering. It is more than ever present: large-sized on the buildings, and various sized on the houses and apartment windows, agitated banners on car antennas, discrete on lapels, printed on t-shirts and caps. It is sold in kiosks by Americans of all ethnic groups, at every street corner in Manhattan, from Mid-Town to Ground Zero. These flags are both sad and proud: flags like Band-Aids, one for each wounded American.

…of the United States of America

In the streets of Manhattan-the-ferocious, a crushing and inhuman city, the people are courteous, with an unusual and spontaneous confidence, marked by genuineness. The police officers in the city are patient with the crowds who gather around the site. The women walk down the streets without clutching on to their handbags. Everyone lets others go by, no one pushes any more. They seem to be tied together, united, by shared pain.

…and to the country for which it stands

A "country" is not necessarily described as a "political entity", present in the French (post-revolutionary) sense of a nation. One is a land, determined by its geography, its people; the other depends on the laws which constitute it. For Americans, September 11th was not at all a symbolic act (that the attack against the Pentagon would have constituted in itself). Americans suffer from a wound inflicted on its country.

Do these Americans talk about September 11th? Of course, the radio and the television are constantly developing theories. But do the people give their version of September 11th? Yes, but with the same modesty, the same reserve as someone who is brought to talk to a stranger of the serious illness of someone close to him. It is delivered sparingly, because this real is intimate: a subject to be brought up with tact. The journalist who called the Towers "the lungs of America" seems closer to the reality of the American people, but I prefer "the breasts of America". Source of their insouciance, their optimism, of the paradox of their generosity and their egoism; the Stock market, Mother Wall Street, was touched and, with her, her children

…one nation

At Ground Zero, there are five floors of ruins which resemble one of Arman’s enormous compressed sculptures. But above, there is a hole in the sky. This hole does have a symbolic value for the country. It is that of the object. But while historians are still debating to determine if the United States is a country or not, if the notion of nation itself conserves its functional pertinence in face of the mondialisation, will America be able to grasp onto this hole to symbolise its nation?

…under God, indivisible

This is where things haven’t gotten any better. The invocations to this god, supposed to bless America, are still very much present. What will be the extent of the effects in a country, the only one I know of, which engraves "In God we trust" on its banknotes, in which "God bless America" is sung at the opening of the Stock-market? I feel like saying that this country has never symbolised its relation to money. Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked for the creation of the economic rights of man in 1937. There has not (yet) been any follow up on this proposal. Perhaps it would be a means of tying this country into a nation: the law in place of economic caprice.

For the moment and for these reasons, in the eyes of a Ben Laden, the United States occupies this provoking place of the child suspended at the breast Saint Augustine speaks of. Has Ben Laden not, through terrorism, succeeded in posing the terms necessary for a "holy", let’s say "mad" war against his foster-brother, in which each is interpellated by a small other "terrorist", the war of Allah vs. dallah? ("dollar" pronounced with a New York accent), waged by and against peoples deprived of the politics of nations, at a time when the notion of nation is questioned by the effects of mondialization?

…with liberty and justice for all."

In the taxi, I see the noon flow of pedestrians walking towards Mid-Town. The gaze of each one passing falls, kiosk after kiosk, on the flags. What are they thinking of? How can I know? As for myself, I am thinking about this pledge of allegiance, repeated day after day, all through my childhood.

Translated by Thelma Sowley


Paris, 15 of November (LPA) – Christian Jambet, Professor of Philosophy in the Lyceum J. Ferry and responsible for the conference in the EPHE in religious sciences, on October 18 gave a conference on "The Islam and the Jihad". This it is a summary of the thesis developed by the conferencist, edited by Anaelle Lebovits.

The LPA is the unique body responsible for the eventual errors that could have slipped into this dispatch.

Does the Koran prescribe the Jihad just as Bin Laden has spoken it? Before responding to this question they should return to the Book itself. The Koran is a reference for all the Moslems. However this book recognises all the revealed books as the source of truth. Certainly, the Moslems do not accept the Bible just as it is edited and read by the Jews and the Christians, suspicious of falsified Books revealed to them. Still Mosses is the most cited prophet in the Koran, that is to say that all good Muslims should have present in their minds that Jews and Christians have the gift of a revealed religion.

For the Muslims, the Revelation has in this way a history that begins with Adam and finishes with Muhammad. This history is oriented and conducts to a term (sura 42, ayat 51), which explains the permanent relation of Islam with the previous books, the text of the Koran goes back to the starting point and end of this history. On the other hand, the Koran is a demonstration of the divine word, of a Hidden God.

The Muslims can only affirm one thing of God: "There is no other divinity than God" (S.112, A.1), in other words, God is one. As a book, the Koran has therefore, a letter, but being the expression of the infinite word of God, has especially a hidden sense that corresponds to the supersensible reality of its enunciator. Therefore it calls for hermeneutics. We note in this regard that there is no Muslim orthodoxy. The only point upon which all the Muslims agree is that no reading could be neutral. This fundamental principle to all the religions is known as the Book, is therefore rejected and denied by the Sunnites Wahhabites integrists, of which Bin Laden the young man was made a knight. Rejecting every principle of exegesis, they reject every reading of the Koran. By doing it they set the text in a "letter" that no longer can be deciphered, but that has the value of a universal law.

The Wahhabite School, as we have seen , advocates the rarefaction of speech and suspends the right to intelligence. But the call to the Jihad, is it or is it not a call to hatred and to the destruction of the Other? According to the letter, there is no commandment that indicates in an obvious way what is obligatory with regard to the Jihad and what it is not. The Sura 42 (A. 36-39) enunciates however the major commandments (which will permit the believers the access to Paradise), in which the call to the Jihad is not found. But this one is present as a legal obligation (S.9, A. 29), and it is enunciated in these terms: "Fight against those who do not believe in God to the last day". But, in what sense must this exhortation be understood? The root of the term Jihad signifies "to make an effort against, to apply oneself". However, the Koran enunciates on the other hand this: "He who will make the effort will only make it for himself". In this way we can understand that this battle is a fight against the incredulity which allows each one to withdraw from the unreality which threatens us`. The Jihad can be understood then as a "battle" against itself, and the historic battle becomes then smaller with respect to the effort to persevere in its islamic-self that which the Koran prescribes. On the other hand, it is in the measurement in which the "battle" against itself is carried out –and is never completely won– that the battle against the other is justified.

In the Wahhabites, this moral sense of the Jihad has disappeared, it only keeps its warlike sense. This obedience to the letter, is insufficient for the Shiites, while for the Sunnites it constitutes the lowest degree of the faith, the highest degree is equivalent to effective reality.

On the other hand, the Jihad, in any way that it can be understood, supposes the presence of a teacher appointed by the legitimate authority, that is to say by the successor of the last prophet. However, for the diodecimain Shiites, the Jihad could not be given direction because they do not have an Imam any more, and concerning the Sunnites, the same thing occurs as there is no longer a Caliph. The only legitimate authority that would be able today to call the bellicose Jihad is the Agha Khan, the spiritual leader of the Islamites; but he resigned to the Charria. Thus, since the 13th century , the Jihad was suspended and the Muslim wars are wars among the people, that are not able to assume the title of Jihad. It is consequently manifest that the Wahhabites and Bin Laden himself assume a right that they do not have. The use of the term Jihad, removed of every reference of legitimate authority, supposes for them the thesis that: every Muslim derives his authorisation only from himself, he should be mujahid, an actor of the Jihad. But, deriving authorisation from oneself is nothing if it is not God's. Finally, he only derives authorisation from God.

Translated by Susana Tillet


Paris, 2 November (LPA)- Seminar by Jean-Jacques Moscovitz, every second Wednesday of the month. Bibliothèque Room, 4 place Saint Germain, 75006 Paris, "Feminine and masculine. Violence Mirror Filiation History : a current approach to sexuality from the psychoanalytic point of view in Freud's , Lacan's, texts and from texts and words of some of us and of some others. Co-discussant: Nabile Fares, Michele Dolin, Tierry Perles.

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