Just a word to begin. I've
been told that Americans take offense when you don't read to them.
Well, I can't speak for all French people, but it's very unusual in
France, and it may even be considered, not rude, but lacking ability
to speak. So anyway, in the department of psychoanalysis, following
Lacan, who for 30 years of these seminars, never read one, we usually
don't read in a workshop. I may even say that, if you want to read
during the talk, please do so. Perhaps it will just save some
But, I don't mind if I'm interrupted when I'm doing this talk. But to give some kind of order to this talk, I will give numbers for the different parts so I will be sure everybody can follow the design.
0. "Here Comes Everybody"
So we begin with "0" the first point of a series. I could even give a title to every point and for this point I give the title: "Here Comes Everybody."
I would like to introduce my most recent Lacan preoccupation with psychoanalytic theory and practice, to concentrate on the essential problematic of my work this year at the Department of Psychoanalysis at Paris VIII. It's possible only through a short cut, and even, through many short cuts, which I will try to make as clear and demonstrative as I can. As you may know, clarity is supposed to be my style. I would say it is my tormenting goddess. It's not only a question of clarity, it's rather that it is not my style to reject questions and objections on the grounds of the supposedly insufficient learning of those who can't think. The most typical seminars of Lacan which are still read today were given in front of audiences, small ones and larger ones, but open to the general public. So, this matter of clarity makes for a certain relationship to this here-comes-everybody. It has as its intention the acceptance of everyone. It has a limitation because it supposes in everybody rationality, which is not at all opposed to our brand of psychoanalysis.
There's another intention to this "Here Comes Everybody." When someone thinks he is the somebody - maybe he is - sometimes it is difficult for him to accept being at the level of this clear cut evidence. And so, sometimes we have difficulty from this position. Just to add to an introductory point, I will say that my ambition, I may say is to "dejam" the understanding of Lacan - do you say that in English? "Dejam"? To dejam. To dejam the understanding of Lacan in spite of the fact that my own initials happen to be J. A. M.
"suture." I have learned that this concept of suture is used in the United States in film theory. I had found the word once, said by Lacan, and I tried with that to construct this concept. I would say that "suture" concerns the subject - the subject that Lacan writes, as you may know, with a bar. The new concept concerns, on the contrary, an object, the Lacanian object that Lacan wrote with a small (a), and wanted it to be kept like that, in all the different languages, as a proper name. Many of you were struck this morning to hear that proper names are not translated into languages, and Lacan insisted very much that the letters of these mathemes not be translated. For instance, the capital "A," the small "a" which are taken in French from the word l'autre, which means "other," are not to be translated as capital "O" or small "o."
The new concept has a name, and I must say it is a word which does not exist. It's a name that will perhaps exist in the language - in French, and perhaps in the English language. If many of us use it, the word will come to exist. And then, after some time, it will get into the dictionary. This word - I believe you can create it in English as it can be created in French - is "extimacy." I present this extimacy as a parallel concept to "suture." My chief aim today is to introduce to you this extimacy, insofar as this extimacy concerns the relationship between two Lacanian symbols: the capital "A" and the small "a." And to symbolize the relationship, we'll use as Lacan does, this symbol of the relationship without any more precision:
A > a
My secondary aims, the by-product of these efforts, is to answer three questions, two of which I have some reason to believe, are of some interest here . This I saw at the March meeting of the association of psychoanalysts. The first question is, and I must say Stuart has already done a great deal of the work, the famous objection directed to Lacan concerning the supposed neglect of affects. Those who were there in March certainly heard the only remark uttered by Dr. Otto Kernberg at this conference which was that affects are fifty per cent of analytic experience. At the time I refused to answer the question. The second question is the meaning of jouissance in Lacan's teaching. Dr. Arnold Cooper was kind enough to ask me to explain the meaning of jouissance in Lacan. And as well this time I refused to answer. I didn't want to. I had already done my part of the work, and I didn't want to give him the key to this. But with this audience, I will be glad to answer. And then perhaps the third question could be: the use of the category of the real, because I was told that usually the imaginary, and the symbolic are, I wouldn't say, well-known notions, but often used. And the real appears to be more mysterious. We heard something about it earlier this morning, but perhaps we can tackle it again.
Well, let's take point number one. And to this number one point we will give the title: "Suture." Suture had the function in its time of qualifying the relationship of the subject and the signifier Lacan. I believe it is best to begin immediately with writing on the blackboard. Just to have it here, and then to try to make sense of it. So I write it:
Sl > S2
I write it first of all as S1, S2 and S of the subject with a bar, and as I write it on the blackboard, I am sure you can reproduce it exactly on your paper. And so we all have it, the basis for future misunderstanding. It has already this virtue of mathemes, which is, the advantage of integral transmission. I'm not sure that what I say is transmitted integrally, but this piece of writing can be transmitted integrally apart from meaning. So what we have on the blackboard, S1 and S2, is proof of the way in which Lacan simplified theoretical questions. He is not very often given credit for that.
Sl, S2 is the minimal matrix of language. This is to say that the signifier is as such differential; Saussure called it "diacritical. That is, a signifier can be defined in opposition to another signifier. You can't define it alone because a signifier is an element which can only be structured as different from another one.
And Lacan took this definition of Saussure (which is the very essence of structural analysis), and from the early '60s he used this matrix as such. It is not only, he writes, that the one is not the other, but also that the one is related to the other. Different and connected. And in this you have the nexus of articulation, the nexus of an elementary connection. I would say then that with this barred subject which is under "Sl," you can make sense of it by saying that this subject ($) is represented by a signifier, a signifier 1, which is related to signifier 2. That is the formula given by Lacan. That this subject, the Lacanian subject, is represented by the signifier for another signifier. Some people here will already know that this definition is modeled on Peirce's definition of the sign. Charles Peirce, one of the first formal logicians in the world, an American, gave us this famous definition of the sign; he says that the sign is something that represents something for someone. This is a very simple operating definition for the sign. It works very well for the linguistic sign. Let us say it works very well for the word. It doesn't work very well up at the level of the letter, but up to the level of the word, it is fine. And it can also encompass other than linguistic signs. So, it is a perfect definition. The subject, this "someone," is truly the representation. That is to say, he is really representing himself, something through the sign. When you say to this someone, "tree," he will represent to himself a tree. Perhaps it is not the same tree you had in mind, but anyway, he will represent, he is supposed to represent to himself, the tree itself. So as a matter of fact, the definition of Peirce is not only a definition of the sign, but it is the definition of the someone as subject, the Lacanian subject, of representation, that is to say the represented subject. And it repeats the subject as conscious representation. You may understand immediately why this definition of the sign, definition of the someone as subject of the representation, doesn't fit very well when the matter is unconscious phenomena, because we speak of unconscious phenomena when the subject cannot represent anything to himself, when there is a kind of "blackout" of the subject as the subject of conscious representation. That anyway, is the theory of the unconscious. So perhaps from this point of view you can understand the function of the Lacanian inversion of the Peirce definition.
What is the Lacanian inversion? In Lacan's definition, surprisingly, I would say, the something is the someone. In some way it reduces the something to the someone. And at the same time we see that the signifier is not the sign. Because in Lacan's schema, you have two signifiers, they are a pair. What could the signifier represent for another signifier? I think we can go one step further and say that as a matter of fact, this barred subject is not someone. And that is perhaps the third thing to understand about Lacan. It is not a someone. And that is the sense, the meaning we give to this S with the bar, that it is not the someone, first because it is not one. You know that Lacan speaks of a divided subject, a subject which is not one.
And there is something in classical psychoanalytic theories, related to this extravalency, I would say. Because in Psychoanalysis we speak of identification. But, identification implies precisely, from the side of the subject, a lack of identity. If you had a principle of identity for the subject which is in question in analytic theory, you could write in analytic theory, as in Fichte "I is I" or "me is me" or "ego is ego," "ego equals ego." If we use the word "identification," and this word has a meaning for an analyst, it implies that there is a lack of identity in the element referred to by this identification. We know that clinically, when we relate to an hysterical subject, he eventually laments "his subjection to others," "his subjection to the influence of others", lamenting that he has to take identifying signifiers from others all the time. Eventually, you hear, from these subjects, this complaint. This can be a tremendous suffering, this supposed lack of fundamental identity. For months I had to listen to the complaint of such an hysteric. The woman, a doctor - had very important social functions, with a lot of responsibility. At the same time her fundamental complaint was "I'm nobody" and who, like a child, brought me as self-representation, this: a drawing of a head filled up with a lot of small marks in complete disorder. Rather impressive when you see a person with responsibility give you this kind of drawing which is very childish and at the same time, gives you a letter written backwards. The person was accustomed to write a bit like Leonardo da Vinci, writing mirror words. At the same time, she always had the same clothing on. After some time, she said that that was necessary for her to feel recognized. She couldn't be sure of being the same, unless she wore the same clothing all the time. I certainly would not say that it was a psychosis. For us Lacanians, she is a "hysteric." She had undergone some analysis before but I didn't utilize that, and I did not listen too much to her complaint. Well, one day she began to change clothing, she stopped writing backwards, and the analysis is still underway. I allude to her to give the feeling of the lack of identity in the hysterical subject when it is very manifest and extreme as it is in this case. I would say now that hysteria is a rejection of suture, if we call suture this relationship, which enables the subject to be represented by a signifier. What she manifested, in a very clear way, abundantly, and I did not know this capacity at that time, what she wanted to manifest, was that she was not subject to any primary identification, she was not subject to any master signifier, as Lacan eventually called this "S1." She manifested, floridly, that she was not fixed by any master signifier.
Well, when Lacan wrote S with a bar, it was to say that this subject is not one, and I would say is not a something, that it is not, as such, a substance. Nothing is more important at the outset between substance and subject.
Sub - stance; sub - ject
There is a journal, I believe, called Sub-stance which was a Lacanian term. Better to be called "subject," so long as you differentiate between these two terms: the subjected is not a substance. Here we have to distinguish different modes of "underness," of the way of being "under," that being the meaning of "sub-," to be under. This is always my first point, to lay the groundwork. As Lacan said, the subject in analytic experience is a supposition, nothing more. We may even say that it is an "hypostasis," if we remember that the Latin subjectum is a translation of the Greek word hypokeimenon, what lies under. But, subject, when Lacan uses this word, is not the individual, with an individual body and soul, with all its descriptive properties, including clothing. You know, for example, the importance Reich gave to the analysis of the demeanor and clothing and apparent character of the patient. This is not in any way Lacanian. It is not the individual, not the ego, but the pure function of the signifier, and this is perhaps, at the outset, the most difficult thing to get at. I would call it the discipline of the signifier in analytic practice. There you know nothing of the answer to the question: what is the subject? You don't know. On the level of pure analytic experience, we only have access to S1, S2. That is to say, to what is said by the patient.
To what does it refer? Commonsensically, we know to what it refers. But in the analytic experience, we don't know. That is the true meaning of interpretation. The true meaning of interpretation is that fundamentally when we function in analytic discourse, we presuppose. That is our responsibility as analysts, to know that what is said refers to something else. And that is why we suspend agreement, we suspend the "yes" which the patient may try to elicit from us. That is why we suspend the disapproving "no." That is why we don't answer questions, eventually. This very fact introduces the subject as such, as an "X" and nothing more. And you can read this S with a bar as an "X."
The fundamental meaning of the operation of interpretation is to convey to the patient that you are talking about something else. And I would say the most important thing is this "the else." So, perhaps I have managed to animate this structure for you, to legitimize Lacan's use of the problem of sequence. I don't know if you know the theory. The result of the sequence is this: what does it mean, the subject, as subject of speech? May we say that we relate to a speaking subject, to a talking subject? It is not certain. May we not say that however fascinating we find the speaking subject it is rather "the talk of the subject." The subject which is talked! We only have access to this exchange of signifiers, to speech. And we don't know to what is spoken about. So in the precise use of the word "subject" by Lacan, it is not a speaking subject, it is a spoken subject, and thereforeit is a difficult question: who is speaking? In our practice, I would say, if you are to follow Lacan, then you have to have some familiarity with the idea that the subject is primarily spoken.
The paranoiac subject wages his battle at the very foundation of the subject. Because what we meet in paranoia is precisely a subject who complains: I've always been talked of by the Other.
So, for the analyst, the Lacanian subject is an "X," a pure question mark, and I remember that before, in New York, in Washington Square, I developed precisely this point about hysteria. And I gave the example of a patient who maintained herself precisely as a question mark. For years, every time she began to speak (in front of me), she had a question or a gesture of interrogation. And that was her fundamental address to the other; that constituted her hysteria.
Why is hysteria so precious for the psychoanalyst? So precious that Freud was nothing more than a pupil of hysteria? Precisely for the reason that hysteria has always, in the history of mankind, been a challenge to science. With hysteria, a subject presents himself to a supposed master of knowledge as a question mark, and produces what I would call a blacking out of knowledge.
We know that truth is not knowledge. Truth is rather what makes knowledge stumble. At times truth has been incarnated in the history of mankind, by the child, by the woman; from their supposed ignorance comes a truth which disorganizes those who know. There I could say a lot about the metaphor Stuart gave this morning about the fly. Perhaps I could speak on behalf of the fly. At what point should one condemn the fly? In some way it is a disorganizing fly; it has its virtue. In the English language, "the fly" has many other forms. You know "Fear of Flying"? That's a truth. And perhaps in analytic experience, we flies always produce or are producing something. You could prove it to yourself by reading "The Flea" by John Donne, which is one of my favorite poems by him. It could be a symbol for the sexual relationship. You may exist, and yet you have to sacrifice something to have access to the sexual act. But, I won't digress.
Knowledge. I use the term knowledge. What is knowledge by definition? Knowledge is S2. Lacan defined not only the matrix of language but also the matrix of knowledge as articulation, and apparently consistency fixed by the master signifier. And truth! To speak the truth is always to accept inconsistency. And this is also, I would say, a rationale for not polishing everything we say. Not to free associate, but to allow for some inconsistency. And truth is not a matter of repeating, not even repeating Freud or Lacan; truth is always articulated knowledge. But that means that truth is dependent on knowledge. It does not exist independently as pure speaking-the-truth, even when the subject identifies himself as truth-speaking. You always see this kind of subject around the pools of knowledge, and even the hysterical rejection of knowledge needs knowledge, needs to confront the supposed master of the consistency of knowledge. So, psychoanalysis does its essential learning, this essential learning from hysteria, from hysteria as dissatisfaction with knowledge, as a question to knowledge in the name of desire. And this barred "S" is fundamentally the subject who does not keep to his place. A displaced person, and we know eventually the importance of the symptoms of travel for such a person. So, just to end this first point, let us remember that when we speak of a subject we speak of the reference of speech, which in analytic experience, is a lack of referents. We do not know what is talked about, or we may say either that, there is no return, or that the return is a lack.
Perhaps as a second point, I could say a word about clinical hysterization. And perhaps show or explain in what sense Sl and S2 are very close to Freud. And why, from Lacan's point of view, the hysterization of the subject is a subjective precondition to the enactment of the unconscious in analytic experience.
His remark defines hysteria from the idea of hysterical compromise, that is from the mode of expression of two in one. And obsession is the opposite of compromise. Constraint without compromise gives the very essence of Zwang, as the opposite of the condensation which is produced by the hysterical compromise. And I would say that this implicit formalization by Freud is precisely the formalization which Lacan teaches us where the structure of analytic experience derives from this couple of signifiers, S1 and S2, and where the problem is of the logical link between them. And, say that hysteria and obsession are two different modes of the subjective division; hysteria is internal divisiontwo in one, in Freud's terms; obsession is a division which is fission, separation, a split, a dividing - two in two. And that is why we can think about the hysterization of the subject in psychoanalysis. Because the obsessional subject tries to cover these divisions by connections. And on the contrary, the hysterical subject or the hystericized subject accepts its division, and even plays with its own lack of identity. And in some way, the precondition for analysis of a subject with obsessional symptoms, is to obtain a certain mode of hysterization in this subject. So we could define an obsession as the subject's attempt to attain a definitive suture of the division.
What Lacan called the hysterization of the subject goes exactly counter to the main orientation of American psychoanalysis, where the obsessionalization of the patient appears as a precondition to analysis, because the analytic experience itself is conceived as based on a contractual agreement. And, as I will develop further for the hysterical subject and the truth on his side, there is no such thing as pure contractual agreement.
The third point I will call infinitization. This is a remark that comes from the literary side of Lacan. What Lacan contributed to literary studies, in France, with Derrida, then in the United States, was the marvelous idea of the signifier as substitute, not as substitute for something, but the signifier as pure substitute, because in this matheme, the something doesn't exist. There's a lack at this place. What we have is only the signifier, a chain of them, continuing, apparently to infinity.
So, there was a tremendous feeling for academics: no substance, infinite substitution, and this turned into the infinitization of the signifier. It is truly a substitute (which) represents nothing, only a lack. We can go on like this indefinitely in a never-ending process of writing, referring always to the same lack, which we may call difference, the article of ontological difference, laughing at all those bold therapists, poor therapists, those analysts who believe that something like truth exists. So, we see in the United States, what I would call an academization of Lacan. We can do without reference to Lacan, or we can criticize Lacan, not understanding that the same man promoted the signifier and the signified as a chain of signifiers, and criticizing him for keeping with something like truth. And, academics can say there is no truth.
Lacan spoke of the phallus. How is it possible to speak of a privileged signifier when we have, on the contrary, an infinite substitution of signifiers? The phallus may be a signifier, but it's one among the others, like any other signifier. So, how can Lacan say that the purloined letter comes back to its place? For we know there is no absolute place, only an infinite substitution which Lacan discovered. So people are using Lacan against Lacan and not wondering why... well, Lacan, at the same time, constructs this schema of substitution, continues to speak of truth of the phallus, and believes that the purloined letter has a place.
I tell you this to prepare you for something that some people think. The Lacanian term of desire was well received, because desire, situated under this bar at the level of the subject, looks like function of infinite displacement.
Now I will take a fourth point: the stopper.
IV. The Stopper
The stop of this infinite displacement. In psychoanalysis it is true that there is a lack of reference at the outset, which is a condition of analytic experience itself. But we may say, that referent is progressively created. I write it like this:
$ > (a)
from the lack of reference to a small "a." And, this is the stop of the infinite process. There is a stopping in analytic experience; the being of the subject is not exhausted in the being of the lack. Only an academic may believe in the infinite process of writing.
But in psychoanalysis, something remains at the same place. First, the analyst himself. He has to remain in the same place, and this is different from academics in the U.S., who are always changing universities. So, in psychoanalysis, something keeps revolving and remaining at the same place in analytic experience. Freud discovered it too, because he thought for ten years, that when you interpret symptoms, they disappear. During the first days, during the first years of analysis, there was wonderful enthusiasm over that; every analyst had a story like that in his pocket: "I said two words, we strolled around in the park, I gave an interpretation, and well, something happened." Why not? Why not, at the beginning, when the unconscious was not yet spoiled? We should take seriously that the address of the unconscious, i.e., psychoanalytic experience, is part of the unconscious as discourse. Psychoanalysis is not without responsibility for this either. But, at the beginning, you had the feeling that interpretation, by itself, cures. And, people who know Freud's writing agree, that we have the feeling at a certain moment, that Freud and his pupils bumped up against symptoms which, in spite of being interpreted, remained. And that means that there is something more in the symptom, more than S1 and S2, more than articulation of signifiers. And Freud was not one to go back on this discovery. He was not followed by his pupils, but he considered precisely this resistance of the symptom. So, Freud developed a hypothesis, I believe it is not excessive to say, that it's new in the history of human thought, that, yes, a patient may have something, and love fundamentally, be fundamentally attracted to something that harms him. That is, his most precious good may be bad. Freud called it primary masochism and negative therapeutic reaction. It's a classy expression to say that they don't want to be cured! Not only because they are of bad faith, not only because they resist the action of the analyst, but because there is something beyond the pleasure principle. And this beyond the pleasure principle Freud elaborated as the death instinct, which was refused by almost all his pupils. And you know the affinity of Lacan for this highly disputed concept. He gave a place to this supposed death instinct, and I found in a speech of Lacan to an audience in the '30s, that already, he was defending this impossible concept. Impossible concept which is what? I would say death is what Lacan translated as Jouissance. Jouissance is the Lacanian name for what is beyond the pleasure principle. That's what I wouldn't deliver to Dr. Arnold Cooper.
V. Jouissance as Speech
Let's go on to point V, to jouissance as speech. You understand what I said about the stop, because here we also have a stop for analytic practice. Only Freud confronted this problem with a concept that was rejected by the analytic community. And, you have no idea of the isolation of Freud during his last years. He never went anymore to any meetings, and not only because he was old and tired and ill, but because he was lonely in maintaining this concept. And the Lacanian return to Freud is not only a return to the early Freud, neglected by ego-psychology, it's a return to the death instinct, to beyond the pleasure principle, a return to masochism and maybe a return to analytic action.
Jouissance is Lacan's name for what's beyond the pleasure principle. That is to say, what? Why a new name? Because, it is displeasure, it is pain, it is suffering. So, if we say there is an unknown pleasure in the suffering of the symptom, an unknown pleasure that presents itself as pain, this justifies giving it a new name. Jouissance in this sense, is enjoyment in breach of the pleasure principle, because it brings no pleasure, but discontrol, discontent, malaise. This could be the notable thing to introduce in the United States, the contrary of the pursuit of happiness, because the pursuit of jouissance is contrary to happiness, to the equilibrium, the harmony, the satisfaction one calls happiness. And, if we accept this name jouissance, well, we understand also that Freudian drives are not psychological functions, that psychology can never really accommodate the drive to instinct. Hunger and thirst are urges you can satisfy; the urge recedes when you satisfy it. What is incomprehensible in the Freudian drive, in the definition Freud himself gives of the drive, is that the satisfaction of the drive brings only the demand for more, for "again", as Lacan said, "for encore." Jouissance is the Lacanian name for the satisfaction of the drive, as distinct from instinct. And, this is also a short-cut to understand why Freud said that when you accept, when you defer to the command of the super-ago, you are always more and more subjected to its demands. So, what's difficult about jouissance is that while desire is connected to speech, and to signifiers, jouissance, on the contrary, is silence. And Freud spoke mysteriously of the silence of the drives.
Jouissance was Lacan's main preoccupation for perhaps twenty years, and it is an unknown part of Lacan I call "the other Lacan." Another Lacan than the one who talked about the play of signifiers, a Lacan who for twenty years kept asking, in effect, what do you do with jouissance? What's true of jouissance is that it concerns only the limit. We can't imagine the jouissance of anybody dead. We need a living body for jouissance. For you can imagine, and it is the source of a lot of fantasy, that after death there is jouissance. But, jouissance is connected to life in an irreducible manner. But the jouissance of a body, inhabited by a spoken subject is a specific jouissance, and the only one we have an idea of. What's the jouissance of somebody who has no speech? Can we say that this body lies in a pool of jouissance, when we are restricted to small bits of jouissance?
As Lacan once told his seminar: I always ask myself what is the jouissance of a tree? The meaning of the question was that we have no idea of jouissance without speech. What we know, from experience, is that speech kills jouissance. And, if we try to connect the spoken subject with jouissance, this lack of being we refer to as S with a bar, is not a living body. We may say that this subject is already dead; we have no way to distinguish him alive or dead. You have that in Freud as well, when he, in The Interpretation of Dreams shows a famous dream: he didn't know that he was dead. But, you could say of everyone as subject, we do not know that we are already dead.
The Symbolic order looks very animated with all its displacements, metaphors, metonymies, and so on. But, we know that this displacement has no life; the Symbolic order, I would say, is death itself. And what is the subject as subject of language? Is it the same after death? Lacan stresses that, when trying to reach defunct civilizations, we always go to graves. In some way, keeping something of the dead body as a memorial is the activity of a civilization. It says that something already dead in the individual maintains itself through the ages of history. For instance, the proper name subsists not only through language but through the ages of history. So, "A" is the name of the Symbolic order. Lacan once called it "the platform of the problematics of jouissance." We may speak of a standoff exchange; jouissance for speech, jouissance for the signifier. And what Lacan called small "a" is the remainder of the standoff exchange of jouissance for speech. And, that's why we can't say small "a" is jouissance; it is surplus jouissance. That's the question Lacan puts to the Marxist surplus value.
Freud presents the body as deserted by jouissance, and this jouissance remaining in the limits, the orifices, the holes of the body as pools of remaining jouissance after this desertion of the body. And this small "a" is a remainder. That was also the focus of Adler and Klein's discovery of the partial object. The object small "a" of Lacan, has a strong affinity with the partial object of Abraham and Melanie Klein, and also with the transitional object of Winnicott.
Now to point VI. We'll have to stop after this point. Point VI: Extimacy. Extimacy, well, simply that's a question of the relation of a small "a" with the Symbolic order, and we may complement the Lacan mathemes I gave you before:
S1 > S2
with a small "a" written as the fourth term here. But is the fourth term here homogenous with the three other terms? The other three terms are defined as elements, of speech and language. This term, you see that it introduces another element, which I call "light," that is a heterogenous element in the structure. That's why I stress this sentence, which may be found in Écrits, when he says, "Not everything is signifying, even if everything is structure." You have to understand that this sentence from the 60s is already a commentary on his future mathemes. There is a gap here, there is a discrepancy, because from the beginning we define structure from Saussure as an articulation of the signifier. And we are obliged from analytic experience, to operate with a structure which accepts, I would say, a non-signifying element. And what Lacan calls small "a" is the non-signifiable part of structure, which is easy to say but more difficult to construct. The problem is the relationship of this small "a" to A as Symbolic order. And, is it exterior, purely exterior? Is it interior? The word "extimacy" tries to transcend this opposition. Beginning with the word "intimacy," which refers to the most private, the center of privacy, this intimacy is at the same time a forbidden zone for the subject. And, in some way, it was known from Augustine's time, for instance, that at the center of yourself, in the most intimate of your intimacies, as Augustine says in his Confessions, there's God. There is not you yourself absolutely. In some way God exemplifies this extimacy that is, at the very center, intimacy. That is to say, to drive a wedge into the argument, the most cherished of your intimacies is at the same time the most alien. That's why Lacan disagreed with Freud on this point. He said "there is no desire to know, there is no drive to know." And he added: "the only thing I have ever discovered in a patient, and in myself, is the drive not to know." In that sense we may say that what resists in analytical experience is this jouissance as the very principle of symptom formation. That's how Lacan defined the symptom: "truth resisting knowledge of jouissance." And, perhaps, I could give one idea of the drive from this problematic. First, that the small "a," as surplus jouissance needs to be distinguished from the phallus. Phallussupposed phallocentrismis not a final word of Lacan, but one of the first, and on the contrary, one may write that the phallus is something other than small "a." The phallus as signifier of jouissance is something other than small "a." A mistake is made here because Lacan defines the phallus as signifier of jouissance. That's true. But jouissance in Lacan, I would say, is made of two parts: a signifiable part, and a non-signifiable part. And that condition gives a place to the other jouissance, the other-than-phallic jouissance, and that's why Lacan would give a place to feminine sexuality not by revealing a feminine signifier but by taking into account small "a" as surplus jouissance.
JAM: But to give an example of this way of positing the Other as master in order to dominate him. Once, it was a very strange time, I gave a lecture in a foreign country, Italy, and at the end, a young man came to say he would be coming to Paris, and that he wanted to see me. So one week later, he comes to tell me he doesn't recognize himself in the mirror. He was in a state of deep anxiety, and he was a psychiatrist. And, after some minutes, I began to ask myself whether he was delusional. And when you see that in the middle of your day, when you have patients to attend to, so, rather than interrupt other patients, I asked him to come back half an hour later, and again in half an hour. Finally, I was not persuaded that he was psychotic because even the symptom: "I don't recognize myself in the mirror," may relate to something else. At the third session, he brought me a bottle of whiskey, and this, the very fact of the gift was something, but more than the fact of the gift was the brand label. The brand of this whiskey was "Teacher's." And I would say for me that was a signature (in spite of the difficult state he was in). I would say he was very able to mimic something as a psychiatrist, he had some knowledge, but for me, fundamentally he was an hysteric. And now I have seen him for some years, and for me he was acutely in the very situation of the separation of the subject. And I was surprised that he was in analysis before, and as he told me, he had appeared to this analyst to be a true obsessional.
JAM: I would like to say a word here because it is very clear even now that Lacan elicited affects in a most intensive way. And, we even see now, we don' t see Lacan anymore, but we see now the intensity of those affects. I mean, around Lacan still, now, in his pupils and others, you see now love, hate, guilt, fear, and all that, much more than when he was around himself. So how does that happen?
On the plane from France, I read for the first time the correspondence between Freud and Putnam. And you know that Putnam was the first American interested in psychoanalysis. He was a very eccentric, rigid, idealistic Bostonian who always tried to discuss with Freud the ideals of civilization and the contributions Psychoanalysis made to those ideals. I can't say I find all of it so interesting, but one thing I find very interesting. In it we learn what Freud said when he first met Putnam in a kind of analytic setting. What he remembered was the interpretation that Freud gave him the very first time he met him. And what Freud said to this so idealistic personality, this so exquisite thinker was: "You are a murderer." And that is something other than analyzing affects; it is not saying that you're aggressive, sadistic in part. Rather it is naming, making a fundamental identification, underlying this expression of affect. And what Freud did at the very first session is in some way the kernel of Freud. This is not to disregard the feeling of guilt expressed by Putnam, but by naming this, and in some way freeing the subject, it's already, I don't say that he was cured by this one word, but it's already a freeing, giving him a distance from his affects and not revealing it to him. For me, in a way, it's a perfect interpretation.
JAM: I believe that Stuart made perfectly clear, that the Lacanian approach to the analytic experience elicits affects from the patient. I believe there can be no doubt about it. Even that those affects are, (if we listen to what the patient says during or after analysis) more intense than is usually reported from this experience. But we can leave that aside. It's surely a crucial question because some think that what we put under the word "affect" is a kind of direct access to truth, that when an affect is there, there is truth. It's a kind of proof of truth. If you're not moved, if you don't feel it in your body, it's not true. When you can bring your body as a testimony, the truth speaks. And people point out that I do that myself: to stress a point, I bring my body, I move my hand, I change my tone of voice. That is bringing the body, and bringing affects into play. And on this question of affects, the American way of delivering a paper is precisely affectless, rather bland, and rather dull. A seminar by Lacan, however, and eventually he was reproached for it, was demonstrative and even theatrical.
So we may say, the body itself is brought to give testimony of the affect of truth, and, I would say that this point of view is perfectly legitimate, and it has common sense.
But is it adequate to analytical experience, that is to say, from analytic experience can we consider affects as a testimony of truth? And for me there is no equivocation, and the answer is no. This is not only Lacan's answer, it's very precisely Freud's answer.
First, you can't deny that there is, generally speaking, or perhaps speaking from a psychological perspective, that there is a natural expressivity of affect. That is to say, in psychology, affect can be considered the natural, biological, physiological reaction to stresses coming from the context, from the environment, from the Umwelt. And it's perfectly legitimate to treat affect on this level, as a connection let's say between Innenwelt and Umwelt, between being in the world and what's going on in this world. And there you can analyze, psychologically, how to produce fear, for instance, in children, and then how those fears disappear. You can study what kind of factors elicit interest, elicit love, elicit fear. There is a psychology of affect which is perfectly legitimate here. And you may distinguish affects, between adequate and inadequate affects. For instance, when a fear is paralyzing, it may be considered inadequate to the demand of going on in the world because you're paralyzed and you can't respond, you can't confront the danger. But in another sense, fear can be a positive signal in relation to the survival of the individual, etc. Or you may considerthis is what Kant said in his anthropologythat crying is necessary for good health because it establishes the harmony of the body. All this is legitimate concerning affects: to judge affect from the point of view of wellbeing and harmony of the body, and of the harmony of the body with its context. But, does that mean that we can say that the body speaks? And that the body speaks the truth? Here we must consider this Lacanian formula: that there is no speech without a language; that is to say: it's not sufficient to say that there is speech to pinpoint these kinds of reactions. You also need a structure, an ordering, an underlying code. Now the question begins to become a bit more interesting, because, in spite of their apparent naturalness, affects are very strangely coded. And the proof of that is the historical invention of affects. We know that at the end of the 18th century, crying became a standardized reaction to beauty; it was evaluated as such, and sometimes, you find in the correspondence of that time, people distressed because everybody's crying, it's the fashion; when you hear a poem, you cry. In the 17th century, there was no crying from literary and aesthetic experience. We know that for us, death is surrounded by distress and lamentations, while in other civilizations, other cultures, on the contrary, a different manifestation of enjoyment, laughter, accompanies funeral rites. So, it's possible to show this coding of affect, and to say that, with human beings, you don't have any natural expressivity of affect. As a matter of fact, there is always some kind of make-believe present in the apparent, most authentic, most immediate affect; there is an element where, I would say, the other is already present. It's important to refer affects to the symbolic order, that is, to refer affects to language, and not to establish oneself in the distinction between what would be language, the verbal, intellectual, and on the other side, the body affects, life, etc. That is the point of view of Freud.
Let me remind you of those passages from Freud which, I have the text here: "Affective states have been introduced in psychic life as precipitated by a very old traumatic experience and all were revived in similar situations as demonic symbols." That is, precisely, to take affects as demonic symbols, and there is no better proof of the symbolization of affect in Freud. Therefore, an emotion is not an immediate reaction of the body as psychology would have us believe, but, a signal which is like hysteria lived in the human species, hysteria ingrained in the human species.
Let us refer, exactly, to Freud. Because I don't believe it's sufficient to say that affects are civilized or simple. And I don't believe you can say either affects or signifiers. And we have a very precise chapter of Freud in his article on "The Unconscious," chapter III, on unconscious emotions, where he treats of affects. And, his point of view is crystal clear, there are no unconscious emotions dealing with affects. The very use of the term, implies that the subject is conscious of affects in dealing with emotions. And, what is unconscious, on the contrary, is never conscious. Perhaps you know that he distinguishes two elements, the drive element and the affective element. The idea may be repressed, but the affects are never repressed. Only the idea associated with the affect may be repressed. Freud says idea, and Lacan will say signifier. The idea is repressed, the affect is not, and the affect attaches itself to another idea, which is not repressed. This is a very simple construction in Freud; when an idea is repressed, the affect, which was originally linked to this idea, is linked to another idea. Therefore, Lacan has very clearly 'maintained that in analytic experience, contrary to psychological experience, an affect is displaced. It's not a testimony to truth or authenticity. The affect as such is displaced, and it will link itself to another idea which is not the original one. So, the affect is always displaced, is always inverted, and what is repressed is the signifier which would give it its true place. There's only one exception, and that is anxiety. You have to notice that Freud himself gives a very special place to anxiety. And Lacan maintains this special place of anxiety when he says anxiety is that which does not deceive. And this formula takes its value from the fact that the other affects, on the contrary, deceive. But, for a reason I won't expand on now, because I have expanded a lot, anxiety is distinguished as the one affect which in analytic experience pinpoints the object small "a" and which has not been displaced.
And so, I believe that a source of the confusion around this question is that, usually, psychoanalysts continue to speak of affects as in psychology and do not consider that all this takes on another sense, another value, in the context of the analytic experience. And there, the subject's crying doesn't prove anything. You wait until it stops. Eventually, for other reasons, you provide a handkerchief and perhaps the crying was for that. But, it proves nothing. And distress is a proof of nothing. And, eventually, it's not a proof that it is in the right place. There must be a reason for crying, but not necessarily at the moment the subject was prompted to cry. Well, this may be a bit harsh as a position, when you consider it, but it goes with this curious way of listening to people.
* From: Acts of the Paris-New York Psychoanalytic Workshop, 1988
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