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The Desire of Psychoanalysis: Exercises in Lacanian Thinking
 0810142813, 9780810142817

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T H E D E S I R E O F P S Y C H O A N A LY S I S

Series Editors Slavoj Žižek Adrian Johnston Todd McGowan

diaeresis

THE DESIRE OF P S Y C H O A N A LY S I S Exercises in Lacanian Thinking

Gabriel Tupinambá

Northwestern University Press Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern University Press www.nupress.northwestern.edu Copyright © 2021 by Northwestern University Press. Published 2021. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America 10

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Tupinambá, Gabriel, author. | Žižek, Slavoj, writer of foreword. Title: The desire of psychoanalysis : exercises in Lacanian thinking / Gabriel Tupinambá ; [foreword by Slavoj Žižek]. Other titles: Diaeresis. Description: Evanston, Illinois : Northwestern University Press, 2021. | Series: Diaeresis | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2020036848 | ISBN 9780810142817 (paperback) |  ISBN 9780810142824 (cloth) | ISBN 9780810142831 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Lacan, Jacques, 1901– 1981. | Psychoanalysis. Classification: LCC BF173 .T843 2021 | DDC 150.195— dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020036848

To Luisa: “. . . only there may the signification of an infinite love emerge”

Contents

Acknowledgments

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Foreword For Lacan, against Lacanian Ideology, by Slavoj Žižek

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Introduction

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Psychoanalysis and Politics after 2017

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The Basis of Lacanian Ideology

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The History of an Impasse in Lacanian Thinking

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The Generic Perspective in Psychoanalysis

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The Political Economy of Clinical Practice

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The Form of the Other and Its Institutional Enclosure

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Groundwork for a Metapsychology of Ideas

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The Idea of the Passe

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Conclusion

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Notes

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Works Cited

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Index

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Acknowledgments

I cannot say that the ideas in this book are really mine: they gradually formed and sedimented while I was entertained having long discussions with friends, usually about other things. To thank all of these generous interlocutors would be impossible, so I would like to name just a few of them, in the hope that everyone else with whom I share similar bonds might feel equally recognized: Clara Tupinambá, Yuan Yao, Srdjan Cvjeticanin, Agon Hamza, Cindy Zeiher, Daniel Tutt, Jeniffer Bello, Rodrigo Gonsalves, Jean-Pierre Caron, and Reza Naderi. At the same time, I would never have realized the importance of what emerged in our conversations if it were not for some insistent problems that troubled me for years, and which endowed these ideas with their relevance. These are impasses that I learned to face and endure, rather than merely avoid, only because I was not alone. For this, I would like to thank those who sought analysis with me—and those with whom I sought my own analysis—as well as my comrades in the Circle of Studies of Idea and Ideology—among them, my dear and departed friend Fernando Fagundes Ribeiro. I would also like to thank Slavoj Žižek and Alenka Zupančič, both of whom paved the way for much of what is written here. Finally, without the support of my family—and, especially, without Luisa in my life—I would never have had the courage to engage with this ambitious project, much less the serenity to recognize how little of it I can actually take credit for.

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Foreword

For Lacan, against Lacanian Ideology Slavoj Žižek

Gabriel Tupinambá’s The Desire of Psychoanalysis is a pathbreaking masterpiece: it is a surprise, but the effect of surprise comes from the fact that it brings out things which have been hanging in the air for a long time. With it, the ideological game that predominated in Lacanian circles is spoiled, a certain innocence is forever lost. The book affected me profoundly at two levels which are interlinked but nonetheless different. One is its precise analysis of the inconsistencies of what Tupinambá calls “Lacanian ideology”: a whole series of limitations which prevented Lacan from fully deploying the potentials of his own theoretical breakthroughs. The other is a whole bundle of rather nightmarish specters from my own past involvement in the Lacanian movement that it brought out in me. While Tupinambá’s conceptual analyses deserve a detailed elaboration for which there is no place here, I’ll limit myself to a brief evocation of specters that still haunt me. The source of the difficulties the Lacanian movement got caught in is “Lacanian ideology”: a double move, described by Tupinambá, of (1) conferring on the analysts a radical epistemological privilege: due to its roots in a unique clinical constellation, psychoanalysis can see the “constitutive lack” or blindness of science (which forecloses the subject), of philosophy (which is ultimately a Weltanschauung covering up the crack of impossibility), and politics (which remains constrained to the domain of imaginary and symbolic identifications and group formations); and simultaneously of (2) silently cutting off psychoanalytic theory from its specific roots in the clinical setting, and ideologically elevating it to a universal status that is by definition wiser than all other discourses (the logic of the signifier or the theory of discourses de facto became a new ontology). The exemplary case of this double move is Jacques-Alain Miller’s politicization of psychoanalysis in his political movement Zadig, where a liberal-democratic choice is directly legitimized in Lacanian terms. Tupinambá mercilessly explores the roots of this ideology in Lacan himself. xi

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Does not Tupinambá do for Lacan what, at the end of his book, he so admirably describes as the concluding moments of the analytic treatment: traversing the fantasy, plus naming and narrating in the testimony the non-symbolizable obstacle which sustained the transference? He enables us to get rid of our transference on Lacan by way of nominating Lacan’s fatal limitation: we are no longer caught in the endless process of grasping the ultimate mystery of Lacan, and we get the formula of how Lacan constructed the very space in which this elusive excess emerges. As a counterpoint to these deviations, Tupinambá deploys the idea of the analytic community as a trans-clinical space in which the goal is not just to cure individuals but to expand the frame of analytic theory itself, up to questioning its basic presuppositions. While fully endorsing this goal, I think it brings traps of its own (of which Tupinambá is well aware). Sympathetically “democratic” though it may appear, the practice of Sandor Ferenczi (who, according to some witness reports, sometimes interrupted his patient in the middle of the latter’s flow of free associations, took his place on the divan, and began to pour out his own associations) confronts us with the transferential subordination of analysands to analysts which remains in full force in Lacanian societies. In these bodies, we have not only those who are only analysts and those who are only analysands but also a crucial third category, something like foot soldier analysts: analysts (receiving patients of their own) who are simultaneously in analysis with the “higher” analysts (who are themselves no longer in analysis). I even knew a couple of cases of analysts who found themselves in a really difficult predicament: they were in an endless analysis with a “pure” analyst (quite often for the simple reason of safeguarding their status in the analytic community, since ending their analysis could entail the rage of the “pure” analyst who was their de facto master), and they sometimes worked themselves as analysts just to earn money to pay for their own analysis. To paraphrase Lacan’s famous statement that a madman is not only a beggar who thinks he is a king, but also a king who thinks he is a king: a madman is also an analyst who thinks he is an analyst—and this is how analysts tend to act outside the strict clinical setting, in their organization. One should go to the end in this direction: are there analysts at all? Is not an analyst a subject/analysand who, within the analytic clinical setting, acts as if he is an analyst or even plays to be an analyst? The moment we substantialize the analyst, the moment we conceive him as a subject who is an analyst in himself, outside of the clinical setting, analysts become a new group of people of a special mold, made of a special stuff (as Stalin put it apropos Bolsheviks), and all the deadlocks of how to deal with a Master reappear.

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In the short text that announced his dissolution, Lacan addresses himself to “those who love me” (“a ceux qui m’aiment”), which unambiguously implies that in his school, the transference of his presence remains in full force—there is no “fall of the subject supposed to know” here . . . The topology is here that of the Möbius strip: in the work of analysis, you gradually progress toward its concluding moment, the traversing of identifications, but at that very point when you are finally recognized as belonging to the group of analysts, you find yourself back in a rather primitive form of group identification. There is one particular feature which demonstrates how Lacan remains a subject supposed to know: in the Millerian regime of his school, all new discoveries have to be presented as insights into what Lacan himself discovered and articulated, although in a murky way in his last years: in short, as insights into Lacan’s last secret, what he saw before he died. What we get here is a new version of Althusser’s struggle to locate Marx’s “epistemological break”: first he firmly located it in The German Ideology, but at the end of his career as a philosopher, he claimed that Marx really saw the contours of his discovery only in a passage from his critical notes on Adolph Wagner . . . In a similar way, Catherine Millot, Lacan’s last “official” mistress, was present when he was dying, and there was a rumor in Millerian circles that just before his last breath, Lacan whispered to her some words which contain his ultimate insight into the mystery of our world . . . There is another aspect of this persisting transferential relationship with Lacan: when one formulates a small critical point about Lacan, the critique is not only rejected as based on a misunderstanding of Lacan, but is (or, at least, was when I moved in Lacanian circles) often directly clinicized, and treated as a symptom to be interpreted analytically. The same happened to me when I formulated some small critical remarks about Miller: the reaction of his followers was: “What’s your problem with Miller? Why do you resist him? Do you have some unresolved traumas?” Things get even more complicated here when we take into account Lacan’s claim that, in his seminars, he is in the position of the analysand and the public is his analyst: it is as if the split between analysand and analyst cuts across Lacan’s own work, so that in his spoken seminars he is the analysand, freely associating on theoretical topics, returning to the same points and changing course, while in his opaque writings he is the analyst supposed to know, uttering obscure formulas destined to provoke our (the analysand-readers’) interpretation. One should also mention a feature which shocked me (for the simple reason that my desire was to publish a book): when, three decades or so ago, Miller was not writing a lot but just made many spoken

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interventions, an unspoken prohibition became operative in his school: you don’t write books proper; the most that you are allowed to do is to collect transcriptions of written interventions in a slim volume. Many of his followers were brought close to despair in this way since they wanted to publish their theses, and to publish outside the Millerian circle is a very risky move . . . The transferential group dynamics that characterizes the Lacanian schools leads to what cannot but be designated as a true ethical fiasco: when a conflict between different groups (or, rather, factions) explodes, the analysts who head one group regularly mobilize their analysands to publicly support them and attack the other analysts, thus violating what I see as the basic ethical rule by way of exploiting the attachment to themselves grounded in transference, that is, the dependence of the analysands on them, for the political purpose of power struggles in the analytical community. Can one even imagine the personal crises that such a combination of clinics and politics can unleash? This does not mean that one should deny the extraordinarily productive power of the transferential relationship to a Master figure in the field of theory. The basic function of a Master is not to serve as a model of rational reasoning, providing the ultimate arguments for adopting a certain position, but, on the contrary, to surprise us by uttering statements which run against our (and the Master’s own) hitherto doxa; that is, by performing gestures which cannot but appear as willful arbitrariness. I remember how, at a congress of the school decades ago, Miller improvised on how, with regard to the opposition between S1 (master-signifier) and S2 (the chain of knowledge), the superego is not on the side of the master but on the side of the chain of knowledge. All of us present there were shocked by this claim, since we accepted as an obvious fact that the superego injunction is precisely a master’s gesture at its purest, an arbitrary imposition not grounded in a chain of reasoning. However, after some thinking, I not only endorsed Miller’s claim but found it extraordinarily productive: it served as the basis for my entire theorization of Stalinism as the exemplary case of the university discourse, as well as of my reading of the role of bureaucracy in Kafka’s universe. We should thus abandon the view that a Master as the figure of authority just enforces old wisdoms and the established views while change comes “from below,” from those who doubt the Master’s wisdom. We theorists are hysterics and, as such, we need such a Master. There is no democracy in theoretical development: something new does not emerge through better reasoning, and so on, but mostly through desperate attempts to discover the meaning of a Master’s “arbitrary” statements which reverse the shared theoretical doxa. Such “arbitrary” statements are, of

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course, not without risks of their own: they can misfire, and not set in motion new theoretical inventions but simply remain irrelevant arbitrary claims—but it is crucial to bear in mind that the effects of a Master’s interventions hinge on us, his hysterical pupils. A Master does not exhibit genius in himself, he only becomes a genius through our hard work. In political matters, however, Miller did not display these features of a true Master, but all too often regressed to liberal banalities. For example, in the last decades, he interpreted Lacan’s critical remarks about the ’68 student rebellion as a liberal critique of the Left (not to mention how he shocked the public at his seminar with his high appraisal of Sarkozy). The quite vulgar roots of this unfortunate turn became obvious in the patent absurdity of the Millerian argumentation against any radical political upheaval—the syllogism that sustains it is the following one: (1) the psychoanalytic clinic can only thrive in a stable civic order with no public unrests; (2) left-wing radicals by definition want to unsettle the stable social order; (3) therefore, psychoanalysts should oppose leftist radicals because they pose a threat to the stability of the social order. (There is also a Zionist version of this argument: in times of instability anti-Semitism grows, and since the radical Left causes instability, one should oppose it.) Tupinambá is fully justified here to point out the obscene falsity of the Millerian mobilization against the threat of Marine le Pen in the last French presidential elections. Although the official reason for the mobilization organized by Miller (whose first electoral choice was Sarkozy!) was to prevent the victory of the racist-populist Right, it immediately became clear that its true target was the part of the Left which did not succumb to the blackmail “if you don’t vote for Macron, you objectively support le Pen”—Miller even coined the term “Lepeno-Trotskyists” for those who refused to support Macron. Tupinambá hits the target when he points out that Miller’s mobilization against le Pen conceals the fact that the psychoanalytic business would have gone on unperturbed in the case of her victory: his mobilization was an act against the Left masked as anti-Fascist resistance. I witnessed a similar incident at a Lacanian congress in Paris a year or so before the Falklands War (early 1980s), that is, when Argentina was still a military dictatorship. To the consternation of many of those present, Miller proposed that the next congress be held in Buenos Aires, and his proposal was supported by those Argentinians who came from Argentina and who claimed that, if the congress were not held in Buenos Aires, they (the representatives of the strongest national analytic community) would de facto be kept in a subordinated place—why should they travel to another country to attend it? The numerous exiled Argentinians (most of whom had had to flee Argentina to save their lives)

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immediately pointed out that those who continued to live in Argentina at least could go to another country to attend the congress, while they themselves were de facto excluded from attending it (they would be arrested). But Miller didn’t budge and imposed his decision. (Happily, a year later the military dictatorship collapsed and democracy was restored.) Obviously, military rule was fine for Miller as long as it was capable of tolerating analytic business . . . Unfortunately, the same sad choice was made in 1934 in Austria by the analytic community when Dolfuss dissolved the country’s democratic institutions and imposed a “soft” Fascist dictatorship: when Social Democrats resisted and street fights exploded in Vienna, the psychoanalytic organization ordered its members to abstain from every engagement in the struggle and went on with business as usual—exactly the same business as usual—even if it meant silently accepting a Fascist dictatorship. Obviously, the thing that matters is not democratic politics but business as usual. Tupinambá is right to point out that, although psychoanalytic treatment is in principle open to everyone, economy enters in a most brutal way: there is a vast group of people who simply do not have the money to afford not only the full treatment (which ends up in the transformation of the analysand into the analyst), but any treatment at all. When Lacanians deal with the problem of money, they as a rule limit themselves to the role played by the payment for the sessions in the treatment: by way of paying the analyst, the analysand makes sure that the analyst maintains a proper distance toward the analysand, and this means that the analyst remains outside the circle of symbolic debt and exchanges. The first big example that imposes itself here is Freud’s treatment of the Wolf Man. When the Wolf Man’s family lost its wealth after the October Revolution, and the Wolf Man was no longer able to pay Freud for his treatment, Freud not only decided to pursue the treatment for free but even financially supported the Wolf Man, with an easily predictable result—the Wolf Man reacted to this “goodness” of Freud with paranoiac symptoms. He began to ask himself: why is Freud doing this, what obscure plans does the analyst have; does he, the analyst, want to marry the Wolf Man to his daughter? Only the later continuation of the Wolf Man’s analysis with Muriel Gardiner set things straight and enabled the Wolf Man to lead a more or less normal life. A similar thing happened to me too. At a certain point in my analysis, I could no longer avoid the fact that I was simply unable to afford the continuation of my analysis since I had to support my unemployed wife and a son, and continuing my analysis would have resulted in seriously depriving them of a very basic standard of living, which I found

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unacceptable. When I proposed to my analyst to stop treatment, he immediately interpreted this proposal of mine “immanently,” as a form of resistance to the progress of my analysis. He told me that we could continue the analysis: I would not pay him now, but my payments for each session would be accumulated into a debt which I would pay later, when I had earned enough money. I rather stupidly accepted this proposal and, luckily, an unexpected big honorarium enabled me to repay my debt . . . What I failed to do in reading this situation at the time was to take a further step and acknowledge that an analysand’s lack of money is often a feature that is external to the immanent logic of the analytic treatment; that is, money is a piece of meaningless social real which should not be simply and directly integrated into the immanent logic of the analytic process. The standard answer of “socially conscious” analysts (which, when I moved in their circles, I heard again and again) was first to admit the problem, and then to propose (and practice) a “humanitarian” solution: I knew quite a few wealthy and successful analysts who proudly boasted that, once or twice a week, they reserved their afternoons to receive patients from the lower classes and treat them for free . . . Tupinambá is right to point out that, with this “humanitarian” solution, the class distinction reemerges in a brutal and direct way, in the guise of the distinction between two types of analysands: the “full” analysands who are able to regularly pay the analyst and can thus continue their analysis to its “logical” conclusion, to the point at which they become analysts, and the nonpaying analysands who are given only a short-term treatment, with no chance to bring it to the point of becoming analysts . . . in short, class struggle returns here with a vengeance. The Desire of Psychoanalysis is a profoundly Lacanian book, much more Lacanian than the books of those who just faithfully follow the predominant Lacanian doxa. It is predestined to transform the entire field—but will it achieve this goal? This depends on a series of contingencies, and mostly on the reactions to it of the Lacanian community. So we can only repeat the materialist version of predestination: if the book will change the entire field, then this will happen necessarily. That’s why Tupinambá’s book should be read by everybody who . . . well, by just about everybody I know!

T H E D E S I R E O F P S Y C H O A N A LY S I S

Introduction

This is not an introductory book on psychoanalysis. It addresses those who are already engaged with the legacy of Jacques Lacan and who recognize, within it, the emergence of deadlocks and unresolved problems. It is, nevertheless, a book which seeks to introduce a new perspective on Lacanian thinking, a way of approaching dispersed and punctual impasses which might help us to recognize some common features and elevate them to indexes of the current historical limits of our discipline. In this sense, even though the book offers itself first and foremost to the Lacanian community, it also seeks to consolidate, within this field, a different interlocutor, a new addressee. Out of the set of those who are somehow engaged with Lacanian psychoanalysis—as analysts, analysands, or general defenders of its validity and consequences—this book aims at delineating the contours of a perhaps smaller, more elusive subset: those who, having already encountered some of its practical, organizational, and conceptual impasses, feel concerned enough about them to contribute to their institution as legitimate objects of psychoanalytic thinking. Even if the conceptual constructions proposed in this volume fall short of accounting for the complex problems raised in these pages, their main purpose will have been achieved if the debate they spark helps attest to the existence of others who are equally interested in the further development of Lacanian psychoanalysis; that is, if the ideas presented here attest to the existence of a desire of psychoanalysis. This expression, which serves as the title of the present project, condenses most of the conceptual difficulties and challenges to be faced throughout this book. After all, Lacan’s doctrine has situated the clinical setting in the seesaw of two desires: the desire of the Other—which marks the emergence of an absent partner within the analysand’s speech— and the desire of the analyst—which locates the fragile position the analyst must come to occupy in order to intervene upon the consistency of this symptomatic partnership. There is simply no place—and, apparently, no need—to include a third vector in the constitution of the clinical space, one that would link the efficacy of analysis to a desire which takes the historical existence of psychoanalysis itself for its cause. The 3

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first objection being, of course, that such a reference would be indistinguishable from that of an ideal or an identification: the desire to be an analyst, as much as the attempt to please one’s analyst by trying to confirm the validity of psychoanalysis through our elaborations and insights, are both well-known moments of clinical practice, and are both reducible to the handling—and mishandling—of transference. To complicate things further, the expression “desire of psychoanalysis” equivocates as to who desires psychoanalysis to exist; in fact, it seems to equally apply to both analysands and analysts. And this, too, would be in contradiction to the practice and theory of Lacanian psychoanalysis, which warns us against the mirage of establishing any common ground between patient and clinician. None of this will be questioned here. In fact, the hypothesis of a desire of psychoanalysis does not aim at shedding light on what takes place within the clinical setting so much as rendering intelligible its outer bounds and underlying engine: the entry into analysis, the maintenance of the clinical space, the end of an analytic process, and the institutional dynamic which sustains these moments in an integral procedure. The hypothesis does so in order to situate and conceptualize, within this extended view of the interiority of psychoanalysis, the possibility of transformations which are not only novel for a given analysand, but for psychoanalysis itself. These are transformations which would be capable of shifting the boundaries of the clinical space and the very division between what counts and what does not count in speech. The desire of psychoanalysis refers, then, not to what analysands and analysts have in common, or to some ideal that analysts should strive to apply in their practice, but to that in psychoanalysis which remains other to the current state of psychoanalytic thinking. This is a desire that is caught in the dialectical interplay between what is already known of the object of psychoanalysis and that which exceeds it, a movement which not only articulates the historicity of psychoanalytic thinking, but also weaves together, in a complex circuit, the results of clinical practice, the current limits of metapsychology, and the institutional mechanisms of recognition among analysts. Such a desire could only be attested to—like any desire—through the existence of the problematic object it orbits around. By presenting Lacanian psychoanalysis as a procedure, within which clinical, metapsychological, and institutional components interact, and one which contains the means to formulate its own impasses and to produce its own historical scansions, this book hopes to demonstrate that this procedural quality has always been at play in our engagements with psychoanalysis— in the form of a constitutive tension between the unconscious as an underivable hypothesis and the clinic as an experimental practice—and

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has conditioned the very efficacy and reach of transference and analytic interventions. However, even though the main thesis presented here is that the desire of psychoanalysis is a constitutive dimension of the analytic procedure, it took me many years to recognize the need to further conceptualize it. This is because the place of this unthought supplement—which, as I will argue here, is essentially institutional—is easily covered up by two fantasies: one of a clinical and the other of an ideological nature. As with most people, my own analytic trajectory involved the construction of fantasies concerning what was real or exceptional about me, something which would supposedly resist signification due to its precious or essential status, and would therefore remain beyond the confines of the clinical setting and silently shape how and what I spoke in analysis. The affirmation that psychoanalysis as a procedure is not only porous to further transformations and innovations, but that this possibility plays a role in regular clinical practice overlaps, then, with the routine experience of analysis, where analysands—myself included—are constantly pointing to some exception which supposedly lies beyond the grasp of psychoanalysis, or even of language itself. It is not easy to distinguish between the phantasmatic construction that something crucial about a speaking being remains outside of the limits of analytic practice and the intuition that something of psychoanalytic thinking remains beyond its own current models. Ultimately, nothing prevents the reader from interpreting the impulse behind this project as a rather time-consuming “acting out” of its author, a possibility which inhibited my engagement with this project for some time. But there is still another type of fantasy which overlaps and obscures the proper site of this investigation. If, in analysis, we are already constantly positing the existence of something crucial, but ultimately unknowable, at the outer bounds of the analytic experience, then within the theoretical realm we are usually guided—as I, for some time, most certainly was—by the ideological fantasy that we already know what it is that exceeds the immediate stakes of analysis: it is the political import of psychoanalysis itself. By this I mean the assumption that Lacan’s conceptual dialogue with other fields, such as politics, art, and mathematical logic, does not point to a lack in the analytic theoretical corpus, but rather to a “surplus knowledge” which intrinsically endows psychoanalysis with the critical task of evaluating the consistency of other fields of thought, bringing our subversive “plague” to other areas of human activity. Under this supposition, it becomes very difficult to distinguish the ideological statement that psychoanalysis, such as it currently stands, will always represent a novelty for others from the proposition that it is capable of modeling something

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new for itself. This is why some readers will likely dismiss this project as a “revisionist” corruption of what was truly new in Lacan’s teachings. My personal fantasies concerning what lay beyond the grasp of analysis were slowly emptied out and reduced to a smaller number of key coordinates through my—still ongoing—analytic trajectory. And while the libidinal fantasies we concoct usually revolve around an unknown distinction—harmoniously tying our singular enjoyment to some impossible gaze—the perspective introduced by this book seeks to conceptualize an already known indistinction. What we call the desire of psychoanalysis does not single out any one person or position within the analytic setting, or any particular group or school in opposition to another. It is rather the recognition that, when we approach psychoanalysis as a long and patient experimental investigation into what is passive of variation in human subjectivity—that is, when seen from the standpoint of the historical development of the idea of psychoanalysis—we are incapable of meaningfully distinguishing analysts, analysands, and sympathizers with the so-called “analytic cause” as the actual agents of this movement. However, even if my own personal analysis had an important role to play in separating my fantasies of exception from the intuition of a still unexplored take on psychoanalysis, the ideological fantasy which interpreted the traces of this additional domain as signs of psychoanalysis’s special position with regard to other disciplines remained untouched by clinical work. This is because the very process through which analysis empties out our attachments to ideals can very well fuel the impression that only the analytic clinic can do so. In finding space within my understanding of psychoanalysis for questions about its own historical limitations, I was aided not so much by my own analysis as by my political militancy. That is, the more it became clear, throughout the years of militant work, that politics is capable of formulating its own problems and inventing its own provisional and experimental solutions, the more I realized that the critique of ideals is the collateral effect of any consistent form of thinking—political, analytical, or otherwise—and it dawned on me that it was psychoanalysis itself which could not truly conceptually affirm its own autonomy today. This realization did not entail dismissing any psychoanalytic contributions to politics, but it did show me that these contributions were most useful when treated as material to be shaped and evaluated by the form of the political process I was engaged in, rather than as something which could direct it in any way. Furthermore, it showed me that this same strategy could be explored in the inverse direction: insights from the practice of collective organization, from the Marxist critique of political economy and its theory of ideology, could all serve as useful tools for

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psychoanalysis on condition that psychoanalysis itself had any use for them. In this way, I came to see the importance of probing into the autonomy of psychoanalytic thinking itself, momentarily suspending the question of its political import, and trying to locate within its own interiority the sites where new problems might remain hidden until insights from other fields are allowed to shed new light on our own discipline, or until improper conceptual loans are finally removed, revealing what they had provisionally disguised. Still, even if it was necessary to work through these fantasies in order to separate the object of this research, the actual turning point in this project—indeed, the reason why I am publishing the partial results of my investigation now, rather than after further study and experimentation— was in fact a sense of opportunity prompted by the latest developments in the Lacanian community. In a few words, the sudden institutional politicization of Lacanian psychoanalysis in the last years, supposedly motivated by the dangers of right-wing populism throughout the globe, had the direct effect, on the one hand, of intensifying the ideological response of Lacanians to our own internal impasses, and, on the other, of further exposing how this problematic position relied on a circuit binding all dimensions of the analytic procedure. In Marxist politics, situations in which the fundamental ideological presuppositions of a historical system are brought to view, while nonetheless remaining operative, are usually called “crises,” and yet our particular conjuncture has not produced much turbulence in the daily practice of analysts, and this otherwise critical moment for psychoanalytic institutions was met, overall, with a resounding silence. Among the troubling tactical positions recently taken by renowned Lacanian organizations, two were particularly relevant for me. One of the effects of the immediate politicization of psychoanalysis was the active condemnation of theoretical attempts to articulate Lacanian psychoanalysis and Marxist thinking, which led to smear campaigns and other attempts to delegitimize creative uses of Lacan’s work by philosophers and political thinkers who were discredited not because they tried to bridge the gap between psychoanalysis and politics, but because this bridge would have already been crossed within psychoanalysis itself. At the same time—and, to me, most importantly—the uncritical reproduction within psychoanalytic discourse of political catchwords such as “fascism,” “democracy,” and “free speech” also helped to further divert our attention away from the economic practices of analysis; namely, the domain in which class struggle truly intervenes within the analytic procedure, dividing analysands between those who have the financial means to possibly carry an analysis to its termination, thus becoming new analysts, and those who

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can only consume psychoanalysis, but never participate in the integral movement of its thinking. This double movement of theoretical and economic alienation, while perfectly in harmony with the generally silent response to this critical moment, marked for me the point where the hypothesis of a saturation of contemporary Lacanian psychoanalysis could perhaps intervene to produce a new and consistent response. This book was written, then, not only out of a sense of despair—though I do believe the future of Lacanian thinking might not look so bright today—but also in the spirit of a wager that others might also encounter, within the current conjuncture, a proof that Lacanian thinking is still open to—and in need of—further development. This brings us, finally, to the structure of the present work. The general strategy of the project can be divided into three large steps. Chapters 1 to 3 take a more critical stance and aim to discern some of the underlying problems in the current state of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Chapters 4 to 6, on the other hand, approach these same problems from a different angle, as signs which justify the introduction of a supplementary perspective on the psychoanalytic procedure, reconfiguring already existing elements of its clinical and metapsychological domains in view of its institutional aspect. Finally, the last two chapters—certainly the most ambitious ones—adopt a more exploratory tone and probe into possibly new theoretical territory opened by this research. The concluding remarks of the book interrupt our investigation by providing a short summary of its itinerary, some additional clarifications concerning its preliminary results, and suggesting some possible paths for further development.

1

Psychoanalysis and Politics after 2017

Lacan’s answer to the political militants who interpellated him during his seminar in Vincennes, in December 1969, is well known: “The revolutionary aspiration has only one possible way of ending, only one: always with the discourse of the Master, as experience has already shown. What you aspire to as revolutionaries is a Master. You shall have one!”1 Years later, in Television, Lacan would further ratify the intensity of his original reproach: “They got on my back, which was the fashion at the time. I had to take a stand” and extract from the effects of his intervention the correctness of his stance: “A stand whose truth was so clear that they’ve been crowding into my seminar ever since. Preferring my cool, after all, to the crack of the whip.”2 It is quite remarkable that, three years prior to the famous “incident” at Vincennes, Lacan had been adopting a rather different position with regard to the “revolutionary aspiration.” In his “Response to Philosophy Students,” from 1966, he declared: “in order to avoid any misunderstanding, take note that I consider that psychoanalysis has no right to interpret the revolutionary practice.”3 But if it was not psychoanalysis which had the right to interpret revolutionary practice, who was it that interpreted the desire of revolutionaries, three years later, at Vincennes? A man called Jacques Lacan, of course. In fact, it is quite easy to place ourselves in Lacan’s shoes, losing his temper, trying to captivate the interest of a young audience in his complex theories, but being constantly interrupted and made fun of. It does not take much, and certainly no psychoanalyst, to call a group of disorderly young students a bunch of hysterics searching for a leader. What should grab our attention here is rather how Lacan did not interpret the situation: how could he not realize that, by “crowding” into his seminar, these students had already chosen their master—precisely the one who had ascribed some meaning to their desire? In this situation psychoanalysis is effectively at stake, but not as a clinical praxis so much as an ideological resource which allows us, psychoanalysts, to distinguish the “delirious” desire of revolutionaries, supposedly trapped in an

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“imaginary” circuit, from the purported truth-effects of an out-of-place analytic intervention: “a stand whose truth was so clear” that it led revolutionaries to abandon their aspirations for a master and come crowd Lacan’s seminar!

1. Lacanian Revolutions If it is true that “wild interpretations” outside of a clinical setting usually say more about the interpreter than about the one being interpreted, then it might be useful to utilize this preamble as a point of inflection, leaving aside the question of a Lacanian theory of political revolution in order to focus a bit more on the revolutionary cycles of Lacanian psychoanalysis itself. The term “revolutionary cycle” is used here not without some of Lacan’s own irony when comparing political transformations and astral orbits,4 but it is the Marxist concept of “cyclical crises” or the “economic cycles” of Kondratieff and Kuznets, corresponding to more or less determinate temporal sequences of productivity and subsequent economic stagnation, that one should have in mind. In fact, the history of Lacanian psychoanalysis displays a cycle of more or less eighteen years, and which now undergoes the closure of its fourth turn: 1963, 1981, 1998, and—as we will argue here—2017. Lacanian psychoanalysis undergoes institutional crises approximately every eighteen years,5 followed by a new debate on the articulation between politics and psychoanalysis and, curiously enough, by a new reference to Marxism, and especially to the figure of Louis Althusser. The tensions at stake in Lacan’s so-called “excommunication” from the Société Française de Psychanalyse (SFP) in 1963 are well known,6 and even at the time, the political dimension of his conflict with the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) did not escape Althusser. Besides the several pages he dedicated to the problem of constructing a theory for clinical practice,7 the Marxist philosopher also helped Lacan to reestablish his teaching in a new academic setting and with a new audience. It should not come as a surprise, then, that Althusser was sufficiently implicated in Lacan’s institutional trajectory to intervene, almost twenty years later, at the time of the dissolution of the École Freudienne de Paris (EFP). In 1980, during a gathering at which the dissolution of the school was to be voted by its members, Althusser asked to speak in order to denounce something strange in the way the vote was being dealt with. It seemed to him that the analysts of the school were behaving as if Lacan had performed an “analytic act” by proposing its dissolution, an

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act which should then be “worked through” by the remaining members of the institution, when in fact there was a political and juridical process already underway, one in which the founder of the organization did not have any more power than anyone else. What should surprise us, perhaps, is how easily Althusser’s old students, as well as Lacan himself, disregarded his intervention, even interpreting it as a sign of his poorly resolved transferential relation with Lacan.8 What makes this eighteen-year interval between the foundation and the dissolution of the EFP so significant is, of course, its repetition: in 1998, the World Association of Psychoanalysis (WAP), founded by Jacques-Alain Miller in 1992, reached a critical point and split into two fields: the WAP, still led by Miller, and the International Forum of the Lacanian Field, under the guidance of Colette Soler. The irony of finding, within psychoanalysis, the same dramatic scissions, the same accusations of revisionism, and the same mixture of personal and theoretical disputes which are so easily recognized in leftist political organizations— problems which psychoanalysts in fact commonly evoke as justification to keep away from the “neuroses” of political militancy—might have been so evident that no one bothered to reflect upon them. Nevertheless, it is again in Althusser’s work that we find a theoretical anticipation of this tragicomic solidarity between Marxism and psychoanalysis. Already in 1978, in a text called “On Marx and Freud,”9 he described how the tendency in Marxist and psychoanalytic institutions to undergo a movement of “truth-revision-scission” was in fact an effect of the constitutive and paradoxical structure of each field, an effect of their status as “conflictual sciences” in which the theoretical object and the theorizing subject were impossible to fully disentangle.10 While Althusser was no longer with us by 1998, there was still—and perhaps more actively than ever—a movement, initiated at the time of the EFP’s foundation in 1963, which remained faithful to his project of never accepting psychoanalysis or Marxism such as they currently present themselves, and constantly forcing them to be rethought in the light of their interactions. Even Jacques-Alain Miller himself had belonged to this movement for a certain time—as attested by his prominent role in the Cercle d’Épistemologie and their journal Cahiers pour l’Analyse11—as have many others, who continued on this path long after the Cahiers and Miller himself had moved in another direction. This is the movement to which names such as Alain Badiou, Michel Pecheaux, Chantal Mouffe, Luce Irigaray, Ernesto Laclau, Jorge Alemán, Judith Butler, David-Pavan Cuellar, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupančič, and many others belong: a heterogeneous group of philosophers, psychoanalysts, and political militants who have maintained a theoretical basis in both Lacan

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and Marx, and who have further investigated the project of extracting lessons from psychoanalysis for emancipatory politics, while always reassessing, through philosophy and psychoanalysis, the political legacy of the twentieth century. It is thus not a coincidence that, at the same time that the crisis of the WAP came to the fore in 1998—and without this split demanding any reevaluation of the political dimension of psychoanalysis on the part of Lacanians—the popularity of this movement of thinkers of Lacanian inspiration reached its peak.12 The missed encounter between politics and psychoanalysis was staged at this new scansion point once again: Lacanian institutions, which were ever more worried about protecting their clinical orientations—but to protect them from whom? it should be asked—observed with outright disdain and distrust the popularization of Lacan’s ideas and their absorption by the Left, as if nothing useful for psychoanalysis could come from this process. This brings us, finally, to the present. In 2017, the École de la Cause Freudienne (ECF) decided to position itself publicly—not as a group of public intellectuals, but as an institution—against the candidacy of Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections. Several activities were planned and an “Anti-Le Pen Front”13 was created by the ECF, which also promoted the circulation of a petition against the reactionary candidate.14 But the concern with her possible election did not only justify the mobilization of the school’s institutional apparatus, it was also used as a way to delimit, within the political field, the idea of a certain transitivity between the defense of psychoanalysis and the defense of the neoliberal candidate Emmanuel Macron: to criticize Le Pen was not enough; it was also necessary not to support Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the center-left candidate, and, most of all, to avoid the nostalgic universe of the radical Left.15 And besides the abundant use of psychoanalytic-inspired interpretations in the critique of the political positions of other leftists—such as the already famous diagnosis of the “narcissism of the lost causes”—a dangerous syllogism was proposed: (1) psychoanalysis depends on freedom of speech, (2) only the State of Law guarantees this freedom, (3) both the radical Right and the radical Left are willing to suspend the State of Law, hence (4) to defend the practice of psychoanalysis is to fight against both of these political fields.16 The institutional mobilization by the ECF around the affirmation that there is only one political position that is coherent with the “discourse of the analyst” marks a new sequence in the history of Lacanian psychoanalysis. It is surely undeniable that the last two decades have been filled with a myriad of public polemics involving prominent figures from the WAP and other Lacanian schools, but their positions were

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as debatable as those of any other public figure, coming down, in most cases, to provincial quarrels. However, even if we are not short of examples of situations in which the institutional apparatus of the Lacanian schools was put to an ambiguous use as a means of giving further visibility to a personal political position—only to repeat the problem of mixing personal and institutional dimensions which has accompanied both psychoanalysis and political organizations for ages—this had never led, until now, to a concrete politics of reorientation of the WAP as a whole. In early 2017, the WAP created an international forum to internally debate the political orientation of Lacanian analysts around the world.17 In the submission form to partake in this forum, one can find an explicit clause claiming that analysts who are affiliated with a political party or movement are not allowed to participate.18 At the same time, psychoanalysts who have been engaging with party politics at their own risk have been “denounced” by the WAP as perverting the truly “coherent” form of political participation by analysts; this has led, for example, to the circulation of a petition against the presence of a famous Italian Lacanian psychoanalyst in a school for the formation of political militants within the Democratic Party in Italy.19 Analysts in Spain and Argentina who have directly or indirectly participated in leftist populist movements were accused of “unconsciously” desiring the suspension of the State of Law and, therefore, of also desiring the consequences that this suspension has historically led to, such as the persecution of Jews.20 In Slovenia an absurd and slanderous campaign, explicitly supported by the WAP and its publications, is currently in place against Slavoj Žižek and the School of Theoretical Psychoanalysis, accusing them of having hindered the development of “true” clinical psychoanalysis in the region, due to their political and theoretical commitments to socialism,21 a claim which, read together with the attacks on Latin American analysts, reeks of Eurocentrism against “less civilized” appropriations of psychoanalysis in the context of former socialist and populist states. While these and other actions are being promoted, the WAP has also created new media platforms for debating the political orientation of Lacanian psychoanalysis, staging this discussion within the confines of the institution itself, filtering who gets to participate, and ultimately shutting off any actual public interlocution. In one of these publications, we find the following interview with Jacques-Alain Miller: Pandora’s box has been opened for too long! We now have Žižek, who “Žižekianizes” Lacan, using the rudiments of a doctrine that I have taught him in my seminar. We have Badiou, who “Badiouanizes” Lacan,

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which is not good at all. It is time once again to close Pandora’s box. Now that the analysts of the ECF have been convoked to take to the streets and position themselves as psychoanalysts in the political debate, carrying the flag of the State of Law against the heirs of the CounterRevolution, those who amuse themselves with Lacan’s toys, for the pleasure of mesmerized audiences and who tour American universities with pseudo-communist threats, need to drop it, or change their tune. Laughs are over! As Lacan would say.22

This was the year 2017 for psychoanalysis: the end of the cycle, initiated in 1998, of a more or less stable disarticulation between psychoanalysis and its political interpreters, but also the beginning of a new phase in its history, one in which we can no longer laugh at the missed encounters between Lacanian psychoanalysis and politics. The possibility is now undeniable that a Lacanian institution might make use of its theoretical framework as means to reject, slander, segregate, and delegitimize— the irony!—precisely those intellectuals and militants who have found, usually outside of the small province of Europe, the need and means to continue the program of the Cahiers pour l’Analyse, in search of a new articulation of psychoanalysis and Marxism. Most of these political militants, in fact, directly associate themselves with the post-Althusserian legacy, which returns once more as the ghost of a challenge still to be met. And the recognition that this new use of Lacanian psychoanalysis is possible is further reinforced by the silence with which this situation was met among Lacanian intellectuals and analysts: some are quite satisfied to participate in the vacuity of the polemics, some are indifferent to it, while others still reserve their critiques for the private sphere, having already become accustomed to the idea that psychoanalytic thinking is impervious to these impasses.23 It remains to be seen how many of us—who are sufficiently distant from the seductive episode at Vincennes so as not to forget Lacan’s previous position regarding revolutionary practice—will feel motivated by this new historical scansion to question what underlying deadlocks in Lacanian theory might have led to, or at least allowed for, this sort of dangerous political appropriation. It remains to be investigated what kind of new alliance between psychoanalysis and revolutionary politics would be necessary today in order to meet the challenges of this new conjuncture. However, even if we depart from the recognition of this historical break and from the need to extract some of its consequences in order to spark a new theoretical debate, conditioned by our current constraints, this in no way entails simply reigniting the old call for a stricter articulation

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between psychoanalysis and politics, be it legitimately sustained by textual references to Lacan or not. Our wager, rather, is that there are structural reasons for the contemporary predicament of Lacanian psychoanalysis: among them, paradoxically, is psychoanalysis’s own excessive and immediate claims to politics. This is why we maintain, instead, that a preliminary process of disarticulation between the two fields of politics and psychoanalysis is necessary if we ever want to break out of the repetitive cycle sketched above. As we intend to show, this process of disentanglement in no way implies that we are no longer allowed to conceive of a political dimension to psychoanalysis: rather, it prepares the ground for us to recognize the absolutely ordinary status that psychoanalysis acquires when considered politically. Despite all the specificities of the analytic clinical practice, and all the important consequences that the existence of psychoanalysis entails for other fields of thought, one of the crucial insights we can extract from the current crisis of Lacanian institutions is that the time has come for us to see psychoanalysis under a new light, one which combines the affirmation that psychoanalysis is not in itself political with the recognition that, from the political standpoint, psychoanalysis is subjected to all the regular ideological, geopolitical, and economic constraints that organize our contemporary social world. If it becomes impossible to simply derive from psychoanalytic theory the basis for its political positions, we are then invited to uphold the autonomy of political thinking itself and to confront, within psychoanalysis, all the same challenges that engage us all when deciding how to orient ourselves and our institutions within the sociopolitical world. It is in the wake of this immediate decoupling of psychoanalysis from other fields of thought that we have opened the space for what we have called a desire of psychoanalysis—the desire to partake in the historical inscription of psychoanalysis into the world, a desire which is, consequently, subtracted from the superegoic injunction to structurally inscribe the whole world into psychoanalysis. Hence this project’s underlying wager that, by theoretically restricting ourselves to a new approach to Lacanian psychoanalysis, we are not abandoning politics, but rather trying to open up the space for politics to appear in its own terms. As we will see, the admission of politics’ own autonomy with regard to psychoanalysis is precisely what would qualify political thinking to become of concrete service to some of psychoanalysis’s current impasses, as we currently face irreducibly political challenges, as well as what would allow psychoanalysis to emerge as a field which, limited in its scope, remains historically open to interior transformations and novelty.

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2. Lacanian Ideology It is rather ironic that both Althusser and Lacan stood for a new paradigm in the articulations between Freud and Marx,24 a sequence characterized, paradoxically, by the non-relation between analysis and politics. For Althusser, this lack of articulation opened a number of epistemological questions, given that the theoretical reformulation of each field relied on a total separation of their objects, while requiring them to recognize the immanent contradictions to their theoretical and practical apparatuses.25 For Lacan, this “non-relation” had an eminently ontological status, so that the only admissible conceptual solidarity between Freud and Marx concerned the very “topology” of the representational space,26 a feature both of libidinal and political economies which led Lacan to theorize an asymmetric treatment of the “ontological impasse” in each field. This asymmetry, we might add, is also what justified the psychoanalyst’s underlying distrust of revolutionary aspirations.27 It is therefore crucial to distinguish the paradigm of the “non-relation” between psychoanalysis and politics inaugurated by these thinkers and the project being proposed here, of a mutual autonomization of each field. The best way to make this differentiation clear is to highlight the paradoxical effect of this previous paradigm, that is, how Lacan’s prudence with regard to revolutionary aspirations—so emblematically displayed in the famous Vincennes incident—is connected to the current limitations of the Lacanian field when dealing with its own social, economic, and political existence. In fact, if, on the one hand, Lacan sought to preserve the structural dimension of the “sexual non-relation,” such as conceived by Freud, and thereby use the “realist” severity of psychoanalysis to counter the utopian and delirious aspirations of non-psychoanalysts—that is, if he identified psychoanalysis as the discourse which is capable of abstaining from this mirage—it is then perfectly understandable that the identification process within the Lacanian field takes place in opposition to the dramas of group formations, mastery, and institutionalization in general. The very ways in which Lacan named his formulas for discursive structures—the discourse of the “analyst,” of the “master,” of the “university,” and of the “hysteric”—all suggest that within psychoanalysis there is no threat of imaginarization or identificatory sutures: when these effects emerge, we are already in another discourse, which supposedly describes not psychoanalysis, but its “others.” The structures we consider to be more “productive,” such as the discourse of the analyst or the hysteric, take on names that refer them back to the analytic framework, while “unproductive” or outright demonized discourses such as the master and the university take on the name of political or academic instances. But none of this alters

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the fact that this theory of the four discourses was elaborated by psychoanalysis itself, and that the objects and situations it legitimately refers to all take place within the clinical, institutional, and conceptual universe of psychoanalysis. Nor does it prevent us from realizing that it remains perfectly possible for one to identify with a discourse that is critical of identifications, as the rituals of seduction among Lacanians attest to every day. In other words, it is part of the very paradigm of Lacanian thinking, and is certainly due to the collateral effects of its mission to recuperate the subversive edge of Freud against later revisions, to treat all strategies of defense against the real as intromissions coming from outside of “proper psychoanalytic” practice. At the same time that Lacanian theory expanded in unheard- of ways the clinical and theoretical reach of psychoanalysis, it also debased and questioned the existence of the identificatory and hierarchical structures without which it would have been impossible for Lacan to found a school, much less to internationalize it. The very act of dissolving the École Freudienne de Paris, for example, can be read in this same key: what most likely perplexed Althusser, after all, was the way that Lacan reduced the organizational problem of an institution—whose social network extended not only to the main “cadres” and the remaining analysts, but also to the analysands and their families—to a narcissistic decision, as if the “ossification” of his teaching was an offensive and unexpected process, the product of tendencies external to psychoanalysis itself.28 Rather than demonstrate the capacity of the analytic position to remove itself from identifications, the dissolution of the EFP would then serve as a good example of how the process of dis-identification can function perfectly as just another social identity, precisely when the “real” of a situation required psychoanalysts to respond like any other collective organization and to engage with organizational challenges as anyone would—that is, politically.29 And it is precisely this other face of the real—not as the cause of desire, but as its consistent support—which remains beyond the theoretical limits of Lacanian psychoanalysis, insofar as “consistency”30 has been reduced within its theoretical framework to an imaginary effect and therefore has no place within the “analytic discourse.” This brings us to the second crucial observation concerning the ideological consequences of Lacan’s position, which also stems from the effort of situating, within the paradigm of “non-relation,” the new moment of the World Association of Psychoanalysis since 2017—which can be defined by the institutional proposition of a transitivity between the analytic and the political positions. However, it is not a matter of contrasting the paradigm of a non-relation between psychoanalysis and politics with this new, more immediate identity between clinical practice and the

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defense of the State of Law, currently upheld by the WAP, but rather of recognizing that the latter is only possible under the auspices of the former. In other words, it is perfectly coherent with the Lacanian paradigm to maintain the fantasy that, if psychoanalysis alone is capable of dealing with the constitutive dimension of our discontent—which is why not even the analytic method is shared by psychoanalysis and political thinking— then only psychoanalysis can truly guide contemporary politics. This realization helps to clarify, in fact, the symptomatic dimension of the justification so commonly presented by psychoanalysts as to why one should keep a distance from the tradition of emancipatory politics, as well as from collective organizations: on the one hand, they argue, “clinical work is already politics,” a statement that recognizes the importance of politics and social transformation, while, on the other hand, it is said that all other forms of political work should be avoided because politics itself cannot but try to suture, harmonize, or overcome our constitutive discontent. In other words, once the asymmetry between the analytic procedure and concrete political practices is established, given that only the former “touches on the real,” while the latter covers it up with idealizations, the autonomy of psychoanalytic thinking becomes no longer regionally defined—that is, it no longer needs to respect the limits of its legitimate application—and becomes generalized, as if it could set the criteria of validity for any other field of thought, politics especially. In light of this interpretation, in which the supposed monopoly of “the real” by psychoanalysis leads it to simultaneously reject and identify with political practice, it also becomes quite clear why the French presidential election of 2017 ended up prompting the political campaign of the WAP. Let us imagine a victory of Le Pen, the right-wing candidate: the very fact that nothing would have changed for psychoanalytic practice would argue against the fantasy that clinical work is, by itself, committed to some subversive political effect. It was necessary, therefore, to fight against her candidacy not due to what it would change for France, but because of what it would leave exactly in place. Lacanian psychoanalysis would have survived unharmed if her government had gained power; what could not have survived was the fantasy concerning the immanent political effects of the psychoanalytic clinic. It is no surprise, therefore, that instead of a grand institutional “act,” what we witnessed was a massive staging of this very fantasy: the time had come for psychoanalysts to position themselves politically as psychoanalysts. It is up to us now to inscribe this new moment in the history of the relations between psychoanalysis and politics, just as other historical events led us to rethink this articulation and to recognize new scansions

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within this process. It is up to us to inscribe this moment as a historical failure, perhaps the first one which Lacanians have no “other” to blame.

3. The Space of Compossible Thoughts What, then, does it mean to think Lacanian psychoanalysis once again? That is, how could we abdicate, as psychoanalysts, from this privileged standpoint offered to us by Lacanian psychoanalysis such as it exists today, without thereby leaving our own field? To remain within the schematic considerations we have sketched thus far, let us consider the different ways in which psychoanalysis can position itself with regard to other fields. Let us begin by considering the four general orientations through which psychoanalysis might articulate itself to other practices and fields of thought. A. Unilateral contribution. A first possible strategy is to claim that the psychoanalytic field has access to a certain dimension of life which, despite only being intelligible from within the analytic frame, has consequences that are relevant for other fields and practices. For example, one might claim that psychoanalysis alone is capable of considering the libidinal dimension of group identifications, while politics, which would be attached to an underlying commitment to ideals, cannot articulate by itself a critique of ideals, hence psychoanalysis would have something to add to the political field. In this scenario, politics is thought from the standpoint of psychoanalysis: there is nothing of the analytic practice or theory at stake in this contribution; the object of intervention—political practice—is localized outside of the analytic domain. B. Correlation. It is also possible to propose a less asymmetrical articulation between psychoanalysis and politics. One might recognize, for example, some similarities between specific aspects of both fields, allowing the psychoanalyst to orient herself by these shared traits when taking a political stance. The paradigmatic case here is that of democracy: insofar as Lacanian psychoanalysis claims to orient itself clinically by the singular and radical alterity of each subject’s mode of enjoyment, and insofar as democracy is associated with the construction of a heterogeneous social space in which divergent and even contradictory positions coexist, there

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would be a certain correlation between the analytical orientation and the fight for democracy. To defend democracy is a compatible commitment for psychoanalysts, just as psychoanalysis is a practice that is in dialogue with the challenges of democracy, preparing individual subjects to deal with the alterity of others, with the empty center of power, or with the arbitrariness of social representations. C. Separation. There are also strategies which invest in the negative articulation between psychoanalysis and its others. One might argue, for instance, that psychoanalysis simply has nothing to do with politics, a position which can be defended in at least two ways: one might argue it out of principle—claiming that each field has its own object, its own practice and purpose, and therefore they have no effective intersections—or because we identify some inherent deficiency in the other; claiming, as we have seen, that politics is so caught up in certain commitments that it would be impossible for politics to absorb any serious psychoanalytic input. Here, the only legitimate form of relation that remains is therefore a critical or negative one: to constantly revise the different idealized links that we create from time to time among different fields, forcing a proximity that is not truly capable of preserving what is essential to each discipline—if the disarticulation has been argued out of principle—or what is essential to psychoanalysis in particular—if it has been argued through the depreciation of another field. However, what is at issue is not the necessity to choose between one of these three positions—even if we might formalize the current crisis of the WAP as displaying a closed circuit between these three alternatives. It is, after all, perfectly possible to maintain, simultaneously, that psychoanalysis can contribute to the reformulation of non-psychoanalytic questions; that the analytic field has affinities with nontrivial positions in other spheres of life and thought; and that it is also necessary to criticize impostures and imaginary articulations between psychoanalysis and other theories. What should be noted, however, is that in none of these three positions does psychoanalysis appear as one of the terms under scrutiny: whether it is the field which contributes to another practice, is the field which provides our orientation within other discourses, or is what should be preserved from the intromission of others, psychoanalysis is always present as the place from which one thinks, never as what is given to be thought. This observation brings us to the fourth possible articulation between psychoanalysis and other fields of thinking.

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D. Compossibility. This fourth case would be the one in which the affirmation of a commitment that is extrinsic to psychoanalysis also implies that we reconsider psychoanalysis’s own intrinsic limits or foundations. This is the strategy at stake in claims such as “what must psychoanalysis be if I affirm that X or Y is possible for politics?” For example: if there is such a thing as a consistent thinking of real social equality in the realm of the material conditions of social existence, then what are the consequences of this for our understanding of the idea of singularity in the clinic? Or further: what is it that singularity cannot mean for psychoanalysis if it must respect the possibility of a thinking of social equality in politics? It is crucial to note that this fourth position is not simply an inversion of the first, in which psychoanalysis appeared as that which questions and supplements other fields from its own established position. There is an essential distinction between taking the current state of political or militant thinking as a safe harbor from which we can evaluate the limits of psychoanalysis—a position which would just mean a return to the first form of articulation proposed above—and questioning the limits of a discipline from the standpoint of the exigency that it remain compossible with the challenges of another. After all, who today would maintain that revolutionary politics was ever capable of articulating a complete doctrine of social equality? At the same time, what other field of thought is truly in the condition of interdicting the claim that the development of this political doctrine is a legitimate challenge, and is even the limit-point out of which politics constructs for itself the renewal of its thinking? Compossibility is, therefore, neither an asymmetrical relation between different fields, nor a correlation, nor is it a pure effort of separation between them. It is a matter, instead, of affirming that the task of formulating the interiority of a practice or theory should not entail legislation over the limits of the possible within other fields of thought, hence the conditional form: “if X and Y are possible . . .” If it is part of the interiority of politics to maintain the possibility of thinking equality in its own terms—which does not imply that “real equality” should be a concept with any pertinence for psychoanalysis as such—then the operation of compossibility forces us to ask what would psychoanalysis have to be so that both forms of thinking are possible within the same world. The relation of compossibility most certainly does not replace other possible forms of articulation between these two fields; it rather introduces an indispensable operator in the search for a new paradigm in the history of articulations between psychoanalysis and politics: a form of partnership which would allow us to find support in the autonomy of

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other fields of thought in order to better think the autonomy of our own practice. If the third type of articulation we introduced—the operation of separating politics from psychoanalysis in order to better protect the second from possible deformations—postulates an absence of relation, then we could define the paradigm of compossibility as the proposition of a positive “non-relation,” that is, as a solution that allows us to orient ourselves by the common conviction that both politics and psychoanalysis have the tools to formulate and solve their own problems. This is a productive separation, rather than a restrictive one, because it imposes as a condition for the development of thought—to both critical and constructive efforts of a given field—the imperative that it not rely on the extrinsic interdiction of a similar movement within the interiority of other fields. From the standpoint of compossibility, psychoanalysis and politics do not think the same thing, nor do they think within similar conceptual frameworks, but this does not entail that either of them should thereby lose its status as a legitimate form of thought. On the contrary, it implies that both should remain equally capable of finding, formulating, and overcoming their own historical limits. The most explicit formulation of such an operator can be found in the work of the philosopher Alain Badiou, one of the main proponents of a new paradigm for the relation between psychoanalysis, politics, and philosophy today. For Badiou, both psychoanalysis and politics are autonomous forms of thinking; they are fields capable of formulating their questions in terms of their own vocabularies, and of disposing of the immanent means to overcome their practical and theoretical obstacles, or what the philosopher calls “generic procedures.”31 It is under the emblem of compossibility that Badiou then reconstructs out of the historical existence of these generic procedures, the role of philosophy. For him, philosophy does not produce new truth-statements, nor does it legislate over what is and what is not possible; it can only make an effort to know the historical singularity of the different nonphilosophical procedures such as art, science, love, and politics of its time. Philosophy aims to systematize, in a creative and provisory fashion, a certain common horizon of what has become thinkable and possible within given historical periods. However, even if the term “compossibility” is itself a Badiouian one, it is not hard to recognize the same impetus of overcoming the limits of the paradigm of “non-relation” within the work of other great contemporary thinkers. Slavoj Žižek, for example, has elaborated a “Borromean” theory of how to relate psychoanalysis, politics, and philosophy, one which—through a different strategy than Badiou’s proposal—also respects the autonomy of each field at the same time that it requires each of them to be aware of developments in the other ones.32 The Borromean

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structure, just like the operator of compossibility, helps us think both the interiority as well as the relations between the fields it articulates. On the one hand, such a structure implies that there are no complementary relations between any two fields: philosophy and psychoanalysis, politics and philosophy, psychoanalysis and politics, are all unstable constructions which can only become stabilized through the—silent or explicit—mediation of a third field. Philosophy and psychoanalysis can only articulate through political decisions, and the relation between politics and psychoanalysis depends on philosophical commitments. On the other hand, if this regime imposes a generalized “non-relation” between these fields, it also imposes another clause, namely, that every interiority is inconsistent: psychoanalysis, just like philosophy or politics, when taken far enough, poses problems that do not belong to its own field—questions that require a shift in our perspective, away from the original field of inquiry, in order to be made consistent. It is the combination of these two clauses—the first of “non-complementarity” and the second of an “immanent transition”— which justifies calling this operator “Borromean.” Another philosopher who proposes a similar form of articulation is the Japanese Marxist philosopher Kojin Karatani, who elaborated a sophisticated theory of the “parallax,”33 one that Žižek himself has discussed at length.34 Through an innovative reading of the theme of “transcendental reduction” from Kant to Husserl, Karatani devises a way of thinking the articulation of fields which are incommensurate precisely because of their almost absolute superposition. Here, the central operator is that of “abstraction,” which Karatani defines as a suspensive practice: for example, in Kant, so that the object of scientific investigation might constitute itself— the object of statements concerning truth/falsity—we must first abstract, suspend, or “bracket” all questions concerning aesthetics—is it pleasing/ displeasing?—and ethics—is it right/wrong? This suspension of aesthetic and moral domains is what operates the transcendental reduction of the “thing” into the object of science. But this does not entail an absolute exclusion of what has been abstracted, given that what has been bracketed can be recuperated, and other objects can be constituted in a new process of abstraction: the suspension of both the scientific and the moral domains lead to the constitution of the object of aesthetics, and so on.35 The consistency of science, ethics, and aesthetics—very much like the consistency of psychoanalysis, politics, or any other form of thought—is thus a relative one, insofar as it depends on the way each field abstracts or counts as one 36 its objects out of the irreducible multiplicity of reality. This, however, does not mean that any of these fields touches less on the absolute of its own domain, or that they do not cover the totality of the objects of their interest. In fact, it is precisely because each bracketing constitutes

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a different totality over the same underlying multiple that the fields are ultimately incommensurate with regard to one another. As these theoretical models show, in order to think the compossibility between psychoanalysis and politics we must investigate, simultaneously, the separation and the solidarity between incommunicable regions of thought. Ultimately, these models lead us to conceive of a method which relies on the autonomy of other fields of thought in order to better determine and conceptualize our own. As we have tried to show, despite the evident gains brought about by Althusser and Lacan in their mutual, albeit distinct development of the paradigm of a non-relation between psychoanalysis and politics, we still lack the means to think this space of compossibility and the operations which would allow us to rigorously move within it. While the event of 2017 indicates that we are currently witnessing the pernicious effects of insisting on an asymmetrical separation between the two fields, this position silently places psychoanalysis in a privileged place among other fields of thought and further reinforces the static closure of our capacity for thinking. Strangely enough, one consequence of the historical saturation of the current paradigm is that it is no longer sufficient for anyone interested in the advancement of “pure” psychoanalysis today to simply remain within psychoanalysis. The very interiority of contemporary psychoanalytic practice is epistemologically dependent on several extrinsic “crochets” or ties that only make themselves legible once they are mobilized by our sense of superiority concerning other fields of thought. To truly gauge the current state of Lacanian psychoanalysis, and the actual shape of its interior development, we must therefore begin by severing these silent ties, by criticizing the means through which we have achieved the closure of our theoretical space, before being able to recognize the open questions and problems that lurk in our conceptual and practical edifice.

2

The Basis of Lacanian Ideology

One of the starting points of this research project was the realization that there are psychoanalytic problems which only become intelligible if one considers the clinical, the metapsychological, and the institutional domains of psychoanalysis all at once. The condition of considering these domains at the same time is important because it is possible, and usually the case, that one of these registers does away with problems that manifest themselves as impasses within the other ones. For example, difficulties in the clinic can always be dissolved either by reference to the faltering of our desire as analysts—a point that current theory already accounts for and which our peers are typically very happy to remind us of—or as the encounter with the “sinthome” of the patient. Theoretical problems can also be elided by remembering that each case is “singular,” by recalling that psychoanalysis is not a “worldview,” or by gladly celebrating the fact that there is not “too much consistency” in psychoanalytic theory, since if there were, this would lead to strong identifications and spurious group formations. Just as our institutional practices can be excused if we bring up metapsychological concepts such as “enjoyment” or regard our unwillingness to engage in institutional transformations as emblematic of our commitment to the “discourse of the analyst.” Most of the problems that will concern us throughout this investigation only emerge when we start to pay attention to these displacements and try to consider them as part of a single dynamic that shines a light on the current historical limits of psychoanalytic thinking. The deadlocks which simultaneously concern the clinic, metapsychology, and Lacanian institutions deserve the name of “limits” because they constitute a certain boundary within which psychoanalysis nevertheless does work. Yet these deadlocks also deserve to be called problems of Lacanian “thinking” because they do not concern any particular domain of psychoanalysis, but the procedure as a whole, even if they make themselves felt more clearly in one situation or another. We follow Alain Badiou here in calling “thinking” that which circulates indistinctively between practice and theory within a given field.1 So what are these impasses? Let us mention just a few and divide them by the site of their manifestation. Clinically, it is worth mentioning two of them: one concerns the relation between the clinic and theory, 25

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and the other concerns the articulation of the clinic and the institutional domain. First of all, it is quite striking that the ample promotion of all sorts of new diagnoses concerning both the social transformations of the last decades as well as the correlate rise in “new clinical structures”2 has been kept apart from any reevaluation of the transformations in the situation of psychoanalysts themselves. Evidently, discussions and investigations around possible transformations in psychopathology and clinical structures are all crucial for the development of psychoanalysis—the issue is rather how these proposals are presented.3 These propositions are usually backed up by a broader social diagnosis concerning changes in the role of the father and of paternal function in modern culture, or the role of images and technology in our subjectivity. However, these broad social diagnoses are never broad enough to imply that psychoanalysts themselves are caught up in what they so easily recognize everywhere else: our analyses, groups, and theoretical productions are treated as impervious to the social maladies which supposedly affect our analysands and their life-worlds. The same intransitive separation between the world of analysands and that of psychoanalysis is also at stake in another sort of clinical problem, which affects not our capacity to theoretically include ourselves in our claims about the world, but the possibility of including the world in our psychoanalytic institutions. This impasse emerges with special clarity when one tries to become a psychoanalyst in a poor country, an impasse that concerns the supposed “democratization” of psychoanalysis. In Brazil, as elsewhere, this challenge has been interpreted in mostly two ways: as the inclusion of psychoanalytically trained psychologists in public health units4—hence, as democratization achieved through the State— and as the creation of programs within the Lacanian schools to bring analysts “to the city,” so they can listen, at cheaper fees or gratuitously, to patients in peripheral areas of the main cities.5 Both these solutions, however, exclude one thing: the possibility that new analysands might become new analysts, since both solutions lead to short-term treatments with no direct ties to the psychoanalytic institutions to which these psychoanalysts belong. In short, no one who uses these services can expect to ever become an analyst. The consumption of psychoanalysis is democratized at the expense of its production, so to speak. Theoretically, the problems that interest us here are perhaps the easiest to dismiss, given that we Lacanians have already developed efficacious tools to dispel their relevance. For example, we could ask why psychoanalysis has not produced new original authors, in the way Marxism has, for instance. Even if “Freud is our Marx and Lacan our Lenin,”6

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the history of Marxism is filled with other figures who adapted and transformed the basic doctrine based on the novelties of conjuncture and the elaboration of underdeveloped aspects of the theory, all the while remaining in constant dialogue with these original thinkers. For all its many faults, Marxism has produced new theses concerning both the interpretation of Marx and the intervention in social reality, while we seem to only produce new theoretical propositions at the expense of not making any claims to transform our clinical praxis; nor can we transform our clinical scope, given the condition of pretending that everything was already spelled out in the Freudian and Lacanian texts. Still, it is easy to dismiss the overall difficulty in producing new propositions in Lacanian psychoanalysis by first interpreting this necessity as a narcissistic issue, and then evoking once more a “return to Lacan” and finding in between the lines of his work the germ of all new contributions. But is all desire for novelty in Lacanian psychoanalysis really a betrayal of Lacan? Our difficult engagement with novelty is also mirrored in our tense relations to other fields of thought like philosophy, politics, and science. We are accustomed to inviting representatives of these fields, especially if they are also analysts, to our conferences and publications, but why is the inverse so rare? Why is it so hard for us to speak to other thinkers in their own language? Lacanian psychoanalysis sits comfortably today in the position of judge of the validity of many other fields of thought: we have our own theory of how science forecloses the subject,7 how politics always requires infantile ideals,8 how poets anticipate the unconscious,9 but, at the same time, we dismiss the capacity of scientists, artists, and militants to teach us anything new due to the paradoxical fact that we have already incorporated some of their insights into our own field! Furthermore, adding another dimension to this issue, it should be noted how much more accustomed we are to dealing with the philosophies of art, science, or politics rather than with their actual procedural existence. This only intensifies the paradoxical and caricatural image we have adopted of philosophy, which we constantly accuse of trying to “patch” holes in knowledge by providing a theory of “everything.”10 Finally, in not managing to learn anything new from other fields, and having already dismissed the critical power of philosophy as a tool to disentangle us from this predicament, we are left to continuously deal with the same perennial questions, eternally reconceptualizing “feminine enjoyment,” the “real,” the relation between neurosis and psychosis, and so on.11 Still, all of this would be quite meaningless, or at least harmless, if it simply represented a passing moment in the history of Lacanian psychoanalysis. After all, we are not obliged to progress or develop anything:

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preserving the very existence of Lacan’s ideas is not an easy task, and things are complicated enough as they are. But there is a serious institutional counterpart to all of this, as the current crisis of the World Association of Psychoanalysis clearly attests to. We have already addressed the novelty of this institutional crisis in the first chapter, so it suffices to recall that the largest Lacanian institution in the world has unleashed a defamatory campaign against left-wing philosophers and psychoanalysts, especially in developing countries, and has proposed an “official” view on what the correct way to think politics is for analysts around the globe! The implications of this intervention cannot be downplayed, especially for all of us who once recognized the WAP as an ally in the project of using psychoanalysis as a tool in letting go of the worst of political practices in the twentieth century. It also goes to show that—as in politics—the choice is never one between the “corruption” of ideas and their “preservation”: the choice to preserve a theory from its appropriation by strangers is exactly how one ends up destroying an idea from within—and with great consequences not only for intellectuals and for psychoanalysts everywhere, but, above all—for analysands. This grim panorama we have sketched serves the purpose of giving some context to the approach adopted in this research. First of all, in order to address these impasses we must learn to see psychoanalysis as a thinking, that is, as a procedure that includes a clinical, a metapsychological, and an institutional dimension, while remaining irreducible to any of them, and to any given state of their conjunction. Second, we cannot keep insisting on the same strategy when trying to move forward: at some point, a “return to Lacan” will no longer be a sufficient motto to allow us to remain Lacanians in the essential sense of the word, that is, to remain psychoanalysts. When faced with these impasses, we must start asking what was wrong or incomplete in the source material itself, in Lacan’s own ideas, that allowed us to arrive at these current deadlocks. And finally, this research must be approached from the standpoint that, when we seek to grasp these different domains of psychoanalysis in their common dynamic, it is impossible to distinguish whether we are thinking as analysts or analysands. What was Dora’s position when she named psychoanalysis the “talking cure”? What was Freud’s position when he exchanged letters with Fliess? One might prefer to dismiss the pertinence of this investigation to psychoanalysis by calling it an effort at “philosophy”— which is, after all, not a bad name for a work oriented by an underlying indistinction—but this is ultimately symptomatic of our own predicament, of our current incapacity to conceive the desire for psychoanalysis as a constitutive part of the analytic procedure.

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1. A Polemic in the 1960s The first consequence, then, of the particular approach to psychoanalytic thinking we are developing is that we must learn to include the institutional context in which Lacan developed his teaching into our interpretative framework. When seen from this perspective, as we will argue in more detail in the next chapter, there is a specific moment in the history of Lacanian thinking which should be highlighted as perhaps the most crucial break in the development of his thought, since the process that led to the foundation of the École Freudienne de Paris in 1963 was a distinctive rupture which intervened simultaneously in all dimensions of the psychoanalytic procedure. As Erik Porge has argued,12 the so-called “excommunication” and subsequent foundation of the EFP introduced a profound contradiction into Lacan’s position. Until then, being faithful to Freud meant criticizing the corruption of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) from within; in short, it allowed Lacan to adopt an essentially critical position against those who had invented new, but ultimately revisionist supplements to the Freudian doctrine. His clinical experiments and theoretical innovations were thus only negatively tied to an institution. However, after 1963 Lacan had to remain faithful to Freud while explicitly distancing himself from his legacy: he had to do more than criticize the wrongs of others, and develop a full theoretical model for his own technical innovations, together with his own didactic method and a new vision of how a psychoanalytic institution should be configured. This was a complete, qualitative break in Lacan’s trajectory, tying together his reformulations on all fronts of analytic thinking—and it was also a determinate sequence, since it met its limit-point in the dissolution of the EFP, in 1981. Let us take the rupture in the 1960s as an entry point for our assessment of what might be called the birth of a “Lacanian ideology.” This is an apt starting point because this break was accompanied by an important theoretical polemics, one which, in fact, did not directly involve Lacan, but his students—in particular, Jacques-Alain Miller and Alain Badiou— and the previously mentioned Cercle d’Épistemologie, a group formed around the idea of integrating psychoanalysis into a larger theoretical project. However, we should not approach this polemics as a debate concerning the reception of Lacan’s work. Young as he was, Miller was already a great reader of Lacan—as Lacan himself recognized13—and it is clear that his formalization of the basic tenets of Lacanian psychoanalysis was not only a good representation of Lacan’s own position, but it also had an influence on Lacan himself in the following years.14 Still, the Cercle’s

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project did not coincide with Lacan’s own thinking, since the Cercle were concerned with the inclusion of psychoanalysis into a larger system of disciplines, like science and politics—and this is precisely what interests us here. One of the main ways to turn science into ideology, as Bachelard and Althusser reminded us time and time again,15 is to generalize a thesis outside of its proper domain—which is how, for example, the concept of energy in thermodynamics became the basis for a whole worldview at the end of the nineteenth century. Indeed, this is a privileged site to evaluate how Lacan and Lacanian psychoanalysis perform when exposed to the challenges of generalization. 1.1 The Birth of Lacanian Ideology Out of the Spirit of Logicism We can introduce the polemical debate at stake in the Cercle d’Épistemologie by recalling the way Miller stated its project in the first issue of their journal, the excellent Cahiers pour l’Analyse. There he writes: We know of two discourses of overdetermination: the Marxist discourse and the Freudian discourse. Since the first has today been liberated by Louis Althusser of the obstacle that burdened it with a conception of society as historical subject, just as the second has been liberated by Jacques Lacan from the interpretation of the individual as psychological subject—we think that it is now possible to join these two discourses. We maintain that the discourses of Marx and Freud might communicate with each other via regulated transformations, and might reflect one another in a unitary theoretical discourse.16

First of all, it is noteworthy—especially in light of our previous chapter— that the Cercle took Louis Althusser as Lacan’s main interlocutor and that the main field with which psychoanalysis was expected to “communicate” was politics, and specifically Marxist politics. Furthermore, these two discourses—placed here in a relation of analogy, with Althusser freeing Marx just as Lacan freed Freud—should relate to each other via “regulated transformations.” This raises the question of what organizes these regulations, and what precisely allows for a “unitary theoretical discourse.” The first clue to an answer is already included in this expression, since we are looking at psychoanalysis and politics as “discourses,” and therefore whatever comes to mediate between them would have to be a sort of general theory of discursivity. In Miller’s second text in the Cahiers, entitled “Suture (Elements to the Logic of the Signifier),” this original idea is developed further and we finally get our answer:

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What I am aiming to restore, piecing together indications dispersed through the work of Jacques Lacan, is to be designated the logic of the signifier—it is a general logic in that its functioning is formal in relation to all fields of knowledge, including that of psychoanalysis, which, in acquiring a specificity there, it governs; it is a minimal logic in that within it are given only those pieces which are necessary to assure it a progression reduced to a linear movement, uniformly generated at each point of its necessary sequence.17

This is how the “logic of the signifier” was born: as part of a project to connect psychoanalysis with other domains and practices, not as an intrinsically psychoanalytic contribution. It plays the role here of the “unitary theoretical discourse” that Miller and the Cercle d’Épistemologie were looking for, as a means to regulate how different discourses should relate to each other. But a closer look already allows us to recognize yet another property of this logic: it is supposed to mediate the relation between Freud and Marx, but it does so in an asymmetrical way, since it was conceived by “piecing together indications dispersed through the work of Jacques Lacan,” that is, it was developed out of psychoanalysis with the aim of regulating the latter’s relations with non-psychoanalytic fields of thought. In itself, this is not a problem: there are many aspects of psychoanalysis which survive their rigorous generalization out of their original domains. The issue here is how this generalization takes place. The texts from the Cahiers pour l’Analyse—and especially Miller’s dispute with Alain Badiou—have become the object of renewed academic attention in the last couple of years, when they were finally published in English by Knox Peden and Peter Hallward.18 It is therefore not necessary to reconstruct their arguments in detail here.19 For our purposes, it suffices to recall Miller’s ingenious strategy: what he needs to prove is that the logic of the signifier is a broad and potent enough discourse to stand “above” both psychoanalysis and Marxism, discourses which are already quite broad discursive forms, given the status of their particular objects. How can we show that the logic of the signifier offers us an even broader general model that could orient the “regulated transformations” we are seeking? Miller’s strategy can be divided into five steps. He begins by leaning on the French epistemological tradition in order to claim that (1) mathematics is a very broad form of discursivity, with no commitments to particular objects, only to relations and relations between relations, as Robert Blanché puts it.20 But this is not enough: Miller goes on to support the logicist thesis, defended by Gottlob Frege, that (2) the most basic concepts of mathematics, those of arithmetic and number theory, are

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founded upon the purely logical laws of thinking.21 So Frege’s famous attempt to found mathematics on logic offers us a way to think the underlying basis of this already vast empire of mathematical discursivity. This sets up the idea that Frege’s predicate calculus could be the theoretical discourse we are looking for, a general matrix based on the very structure of thinking as such. But it is here that Miller shows his genius. He then analyzes Frege’s construction in the Foundations of Arithmetic and recognizes that (3) Frege had to mobilize a contradiction—an element which is not identical to itself—in order to sustain his concept of zero, even though this nonidentical element cannot appear within the discourse it founded.22 In a few words, Frege defined “zero” as the concept under which no object falls—the concept correlated to the set of “things that are not identical to themselves.” But this impossible object must then be rejected from the discourse it founded: it has no place in pure logics. Having recognized this contradiction in the very origin of Frege’s logical foundation of number theory, Miller then claims that (4) the logic of the signifier, as developed by Lacan, is capable of thinking the contradiction that was “sutured” under Frege’s construction. Finally, if mathematics is a broad discourse, if Frege’s logic gives us its foundation, and if the logic of the signifier is capable of formalizing that self-contradictory element which not even logic can account for,23 then (5) the logic of the signifier is the most general discursive form we know of—which Miller bombastically translates into the claim that the logic of the signifier is the “logic of the origin of logic.”24 What is crucial for us here is to realize that this is essentially a strategy which substitutes associations between different fields of thought for expansions of a single theoretical space. It could not be any other way, since Miller did not seek a third source as the mediating discourse between psychoanalysis and Marxism, but rather tried to find within psychoanalysis all of its necessary resources—which is equivalent to claiming, ultimately, that clinical psychoanalysis is a sub-region of psychoanalysis, while the general logic at play in psychoanalysis is in fact so broad as to encompass propositional calculus and the foundation of Marxist discourse as well.25 Of course, Miller did not invent this basic strategy: we find it in Frege himself, who interpreted his own findings in this way.26 Frege thought that number theory stood on very weak grounds in his day: though Peano had just proposed his famous axiomatization of arithmetic, we still had no clue what it was we were speaking about when we said “number,” “zero,” or “successor.” The project of grounding these concepts on purely logical terms—with no recourse to conventionalist

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or psychologized explanations—was an important struggle, for it also freed mathematics from some externally imposed constraints, such as the ones that Kronecker suggested when he qualitatively distinguished natural numbers—which were “God-given”—from the other classes of numbers, which we had invented ourselves.27 So the claim that the foundations of arithmetic can be found in the “pure laws of thought” had, on the one hand, a critical effect, showing that we can move laterally within formal domains—number theory and logic—rather than towards some external, nonformal field in order to account for mathematical ideas: the concept of number was now connected to a rigorous theory of cardinality, the concept of zero to the necessary existence of an empty set, and the idea of succession to the much firmer idea of logical consequence.28 But, on the other hand, this relation between mathematics and logic was covered up by Frege’s own philosophical position which claims that this is not really a lateral movement, but a backwards one, toward a foundation.29 This philosophical thesis—for it is not derivable from Frege’s actual formal development30—is Frege’s personal interpretation of a logicomathematical result, which means that it is perfectly dismissible or external to his actual work. Other pioneers of mathematical logic around the same time, such as George Boole, who was responsible for the initial development of algebraic logic, proposed much more flexible articulations between the formal systems he sought to relate:31 if logic could help us formalize aspects of arithmetic that remain cloudy within its own functioning, nothing prevented other areas of mathematics, such as algebra or set theory, from equally clarifying what we mean by “logical consequence.”32 Frege’s logicism is, however, essential for Miller’s own proposal, even if psychoanalysis is presented as a critique of Frege’s project. Without supposing that logicism is a necessary corollary of Frege’s construction, we cannot claim to have reached a broader discourse than mathematics by moving to its logical grounds, nor can we say that, by thinking what logic cannot think, we have reached the “logic of the origin of logic.” The connection between mathematical logic and pure thinking was presented only in Frege’s philosophical account of his own theoretical innovations. However, by espousing Frege’s position, and therefore defending the argument constructed in “Suture,” at least two crucial consequences follow: first, we are allowed to conclude that psychoanalysis provides us with the basis for a “unitary theoretical discourse,” but, equally as important, by generalizing its own functioning out of its domain, we also arrive at the general principle that we always move to the most real or fundamental when we encounter an inconsistency in a discourse. This last statement is in fact often true within a clinical setting: the

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consistency of a patient’s speech who reads off a shopping list or who perfectly recounts the events of his day should be read against the backdrop of an effort to exclude significant self-contradictions from his discourse. The problem concerns the generalization of this principle for every discursive formation as an ontological constraint as such. Are we really prepared to claim that the consistency of a political organization always detracts from the real of subjectivity? Or that the consistency of scientific deduction is unconsciously committed to effacing singularity? When this equation “more consistency = less desire” is carried outside of its proper analytic domain into an unrestricted ontological matrix, this process of generalization should be called by its actual name: it is ideology. Another consequence of Miller’s proposal, already implied by the first, is that it requires us to impute a necessary logicism to any philosophy of science. Regardless of what is truly going on with mathematical logic today—and since the development of category theory, a lot has changed33—the adoption of the logic of the signifier as a general matrix requires us to also treat logic as the foundation of mathematics. Consequently, psychoanalysts look with suspicion at mathematical and scientific developments, since the expansion of consistent rational thinking will always carry, for us, at least, an unconscious tendency to do away with the subject of the unconscious. 1.2 Elements for a Critique of Improper Generalizations Miller’s “Suture” was published in 1966, and it was rightly considered by many the first great Lacanian text not written by Lacan.34 Lacan himself was surely influenced by Miller’s formulation, even if his commentaries display a certain ambivalence toward his disciple’s most forceful conclusions.35 Still, Lacan’s later attempt to distance himself from Miller’s early formalizations does not mean that they were not an adequate summary of his master’s trajectory up until then—or that Lacan was able to produce a new, equally consistent answer to these themes after that. In 1969 the Cahiers pour l’Analyse published its last volume, and Badiou’s text “Mark and Lack” was featured there. First of all, as previously mentioned, we should not understand Badiou’s critique as a polemic directed solely at Miller’s previous text, but rather at the Lacanian doctrine itself. But it is also very important to note that the very form of his critique was also not one of dismissal or total rejection. Most literature around this debate treats the two interventions as a “this or that” scenario, as if both authors tried to provide competing visions for the notion of a “unitary theoretical discourse” which the Cercle was so keenly investigating.36 But in fact, Badiou’s text only criticizes the validity of Miller’s solution, it does

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not propose an alternative one. It would take Badiou another twenty years to come up with his own fully developed theory of the relation between psychoanalysis and politics, which he would later term two “generic procedures.”37 But in 1969, Badiou only presents an argument against the improper generalization of the logic of the signifier into non-psychoanalytic domains. That is why his text begins with the following remark: In our view, both Frege’s ideological representation of his own enterprise and the recapture of this representation in the lexicon of Signifier, lack and the place-of-lack, mask the pure productive essence, the positional process through which logic, as machine, lacks nothing it does not produce elsewhere. The logic of the Signifier is a metaphysics: a representation of representation, an intra-ideological process and progression.38

That is, Badiou first attacks the validity of a strategy which relies on Frege’s “ideological representation of his own enterprise,” claiming that this strategy ultimately turns the logic of the signifier into a “metaphysics”— which is to say, it turns psychoanalysis into a field that is allowed to judge and evaluate what logic is and is not capable of accomplishing, on account of its “repressed” underside, which is only recognizable from our privileged standpoint. The strategy becomes an ideological project of its own because it ends up masking the “pure productive essence”—their autonomy as legitimate forms of thinking—of logic and mathematics. What is crucial for us here is that by attacking this recourse to Frege, Badiou is not trying to delegitimize psychoanalysis or even Miller’s formalization of its logical inner workings, but rather Miller’s problematic claim that this could be rigorously generalized into a broader account of discourses and practices outside of psychoanalysis. Badiou asks: Must we therefore renounce [annuler] the concept of suture? It is, on the contrary, a matter of prescribing its function by assigning to it its proper domain. . . . We should take the measure of what is at stake here, the possibility of articulating Historical Materialism and Psychoanalysis: the former producing the Schema [Topique] of particular signifying orders (ideologies), the latter producing the structures of their efficacy, the laws of entry [entrée] and connection through which the places allocated by ideology are ultimately occupied. . . . Accordingly, to claim that the science/ideology difference could be effaced through a logic of oscillating iteration, and to nominate [nommer] a subject of science, is to preclude the possibility of conjoining, through their very disjunction, Marx and Freud.39

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So, on the one hand, Badiou claims that we do not need to abdicate the gains of formalizing the logic of the signifier as an intra-psychoanalytic formalism. The problem has to do with “assigning it [the logic of the signifier] to its proper domain”—that is, recognizing its proper limits. On the other hand, he suggests that we should not look for a “theoretical discourse” that would positively unite psychoanalysis and Marxism, thereby expressing a conviction which he maintains to this day, and which we have already addressed in our previous chapter. Badiou rather defends the claim that the compossibility of these two discourses is more important than their conjunction. For Badiou, to veritably unite the two means to preserve their respective interiorities, that is, to recognize that they lack nothing which they do not produce elsewhere. Politics is a thinking because it is not only a theory and a practice, but also a procedure with the means to immanently formulate and overcome its own theoretical and practical problems. Politics does not need other fields and disciplines to extrinsically limit it or teach it what it does not know40—a status which Badiou generously extends to psychoanalysis as well, though we are still struggling to find out if this is truly the case. Let us briefly reconstruct Badiou’s argument. His counterattack centers around the production of a counter-example to Miller, which is just enough to undo a universal claim. We can summarize his strategy in a small number of argumentative steps. He begins by positing, as we mentioned, that (1) we must distinguish between the practice of logic and its discursive representation. From this initial distinction, Badiou moves on to describe the internal differentiation between the moments of logical practice, describing three intrinsic mechanisms of logical theory. Building on Alonzo Church’s work on mathematical logic,41 Badiou distinguishes (2) the three immanent processes at stake in logic’s intrinsic mechanism: (2a) the process of concatenation—which organizes the “preprocessed” elements, the “graphemes,” into finite sequences; (2b) the process of formation, which distinguishes these sequences between wellformed and ill-formed expressions; and (2c) the process of derivation, which takes the set of these well-formed expressions and divides them into two new sets: derivable propositions, or theses, and non-derivable propositions, non-theses, while also assigning an operator to relate the two, since the negation of a non-thesis should give us a derivable thesis.42 The reason for this precision becomes clear in the next and final step of the argument—which is in fact much more humble and simple than Miller’s—namely, that (3) the possibility of inconsistencies at the level of derivation is conditioned by the absolute consistency of the underlying process of formation. In other words, the very possibility of producing contradictions at the level of the “content” of a formal theory is conditioned by

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the fact that we have previously made an absolutely consistent distinction between well-formed and ill-formed statements.43 It is true that contradictions can arise in a logical discourse: for example, we can produce in formal language the statement that “there is a set of things which are not identical to themselves,” a statement which no object will satisfy. However, these inconsistencies are dependent on the previous formal closure of the theory, which is guaranteed by the possibility of deciding, without any ambivalence, which expressions belong and which do not belong to the space of possible statements in a theory. Hence, the general claim that inconsistency always points to an “extimate” point in a symbolic space cannot truly have such a universal reach. If Badiou’s “Mark and Lack” already requires us to revise the structure of Miller’s main argument in “Suture,” it nonetheless leaves untouched the underlying problem here, which we already encountered when talking about logicism and Frege’s articulation of logic and number theory. This is why a complete critique of the logic of the signifier requires us to consider another text published by Badiou around the same time: the short book, based on a seminar he administered in 1968, called The Concept of Model.44 In it, Badiou distinguishes between three ways the idea of model and modeling can work in a discourse: first as a notion—for example, when structuralists claim that formal systems are “about” some concrete real phenomena, as if models represented the inner structure of some particular situation. Second, as a category, as when logical positivists claim we can evaluate the correctness of concrete situations by the formalisms which they instantiate. And third, as a proper concept,45 which is how models work within mathematics itself. What Badiou wants to emphasize with this distinction is that it is only within its proper conceptual domain that all the features of modeling can be grasped—particularly the fact that modeling is an anti-foundational practice at its heart.46 At the center of Badiou’s book is the claim that both the notion and the category of the model—unlike its proper concept—imply that we take the distinction between the model and what is modeled, between a formal system and what it is “about,” and decouple them—ultimately essentializing the distinction between “syntax” and “semantics” and treating it as if one of them was the domain of representations and the other of things being represented.47 For example, structuralism tends to treat formalisms as if they were “about” something outside their formal domain: the structures of certain group theory schemas are said to be what partnership rules in a given society are “about.” Formal models are a pure semantic structure for a syntax that we suppose to organize reality as such: the rules which are “out there,” in natura. On the other hand, positivism tends to treat reality itself as the semantic content of formal systems, as

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if logic and mathematics were purely syntactic games which we can use to regulate proper or improper instantiations in real-life situations; that is, the correct or the wrong way of using concepts in philosophy, and so on. Both, however, miss the point that, in mathematics, models relate different regions of the same general field: one area of mathematics models another—algebra can model parts of logic, just as geometry can model parts of algebra, and so on. As the great philosopher Albert Lautman had already pointed out,48 there is a strange dialectics within mathematical practice itself which allows it to be, at the same time, absolutely homogeneous—since all of its inner domains are equally formal systems—and partially heterogeneous, since the modeling of two regions of mathematics turns out to be a creative, arduous, and open-ended process, through which we learn a great deal. It is worth remembering that when physics seeks to model some situation with mathematical tools, it never just maps reality onto formalisms: it rather constructs experimental apparatuses which allow us to first “conform” reality into a formal system itself—for example, by producing quantified lists of measurements expressed as numbers, thus preserving the intra-mathematical quality of model relations.49 The concept of model is the missing piece in the argument against Frege’s logicism, which can be understood as an attempt to syntactically ground mathematics in one sole formal system, mathematical logic, thereby treating all other regions of mathematics as structures that remain ultimately “about” this one ground. This concept of modeling as a way for a practice to think itself, that is, to represent its own concepts to itself, in a totally immanent way, plays directly into Badiou’s earlier comment about the autonomy and “purely productive” dimension of logic. It also helps us to move from a critique of Miller to a critique of Lacan himself.

2. Lacan before the Signifier The crucial motivation for discussing a circumscribed polemic concerning a small group of young French intellectuals and their positions with regard to the philosophy of science is that, as anticipated, the present research is carried out under two main hypotheses: first of all, Miller’s proposal aptly formalizes Lacan’s own position; and, second, even if it did not, Miller’s contribution nevertheless remains the basis for our own spontaneous ideology as Lacanians, thereby influencing most of the problems which we listed in the beginning of this chapter. Thus,

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the most important question we need to ask is the following: if Miller reconstructed the logic of the signifier out of Lacan’s own work, how then did the concept of the signifier already include, or allow for, such a development? It is difficult to address this question head-on, since the most important literature around Lacan’s concept of the signifier begins from it. For example, Jean-Claude Milner defines, in his essential book L’Oeuvre claire, the “first Lacanian classicism” as the period which started in 1953, with Lacan’s first official seminar and the presentation of his famous “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis.”50 Several authors maintain a similar position, equating the birth of Lacan’s thinking psychoanalysis with his interlocution with structural linguistics.51 But this is not enough for us: we are interested, above all, in finding out what it was about psychoanalysis that Lacan could only account for by referring to Saussurean linguistics. After all, this is what the signifier ultimately is: a model for something which happens within psychoanalytic experience. When seen from this perspective, the narrative almost starts going backwards: the phase in which Lacan can be said to be actually thinking psychoanalysis—that is, holding a problem in his hands which he considers a legitimate analytical issue, and searching for its proper formulation and overcoming—is rather the period which predates the seminars and his main texts. Those were the years when he was at his most experimental, both clinically—after all, he had invented variable-time sessions during this period—and theoretically. In fact, when we read Lacan’s early texts, written between 1930 and 1953, it is astounding how many different candidates he was considering for the role of models of the analytic experience: the Hegelian dialectic of Master and Slave,52 Guilbaud’s theory of collective action,53 Wiener’s cybernetics,54 and even Saint Augustine’s theory of language.55 In each of these cases, these conceptual loans were quite flexible and were often abandoned after a couple of years of experimentation, and many of these theoretical systems were even mixed together in weird and pragmatic ways.56 At this early point in Lacan’s thinking, no one had any difficulty discerning the model and the modeled components of analysis: on one side, we had the analytic experience, with its basic technical and theoretical dimensions, and, on the other side, we had all these different models, each being evaluated for its capacity to endow the analytic procedure with useful conceptual tools to continue its own development. Consider, instead, how hard it is for us today to distinguish these two components,57 or how hard it is to even distinguish between “the subject of the signifier” and the “subject of the unconscious.” This is because the adoption of structural linguistics blurred the relation between psychoanalysis and

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this external domain, making it seem as if we are not really borrowing a concept so much as—as in Miller’s strategy—absorbing the domain of linguistics into a broader theory of speech. The inauguration of what Milner calls “Lacan’s first classicism” was not only a relevant turning point in Lacan’s teaching; it also marked the adoption of a certain attitude toward the modeling of analytic experience after which we could no longer distinguish between psychoanalytic theory and the conceptual borrowings it took from other disciplines. This was a transformation with vast consequences, as we will see, but this is not to say that there were not exceptional gains for psychoanalytic thinking involved in it. However, to properly take stock of these gains, it is important that we consider what concrete analytic problems the concept of the signifier—or better, the notion of the signifier—was answering: what immanently psychoanalytic impasses does it actually help us to solve? 3.1 The Experimental Dimension of Psychoanalysis Like few other texts by Lacan, the title of his 1936 essay “Beyond the Reality Principle”58 truly sums up one of his greatest contributions to psychoanalysis. Instead of focusing on the metapsychological “vicissitudes” of the drive—how satisfaction can split off from itself, turning into its opposite and so on—the reversal in this title points rather to a technical and practical dimension of the clinical experience, one which takes place prior to any metapsychological theorization. This is the fact that the clinical setting is a real space that is split off from reality. In short, the clinical space is an artificial construction. This insight, which is no small matter, is operative in some of the most crucial formulations we find in this early writing, for example: The first sign of Freud’s attitude of submitting to the real was the recognition that, given that most psychic phenomena of men are related, apparently, to a function of social relations, we should not exclude the path which, for that same reason, opens up the most common access to them: that is, the subject’s own testimony of these phenomena . . . for the sick, just as for the doctor, psychology was the field of the “imaginary,” in the sense of the illusory: hence, what has real signification, the symptom, could only be psychological in its appearance, and it should distinguish itself from the common register of psychic life by some discordant trace where its grave character would display itself. Freud understood that this was the very choice that rendered valueless the patient’s testimony. If we want to recognize the characteristic reality of psychic reactions, we should not begin by choosing what it is: it is

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rather necessary to begin by not choosing. To gauge its efficiency, we must respect its succession. Surely it is not a matter of reconstructing its enchainment through the reporting, but that the very moment of this testimony can constitute a significant fragment of it, so long as the entirety of the text is requested and that one frees it from the shackles of a report.59

Though our habits would surely lead us to highlight the anticipation of the theory of the signifier here, it is important to engage with this passage in its original freshness, that is, to recognize Lacan’s veritably militant defense of a position which he upheld while having no recourse to a robust intellectual model that could account for it. This is a defense of speech as the true site of psychoanalysis that counts with no definition of what speech really is—a proposition with no definition: we could call it a veritable axiomatic affirmation. Lacan’s basic strategy in this passage is to claim that Freud “submitted to the real” by recognizing, first of all, that social relations are the primary means of expression of psychic phenomena, and thus the relation between analysand and analyst could be a legitimate means of expression for psychic reality, and the “very moment of [the patient’s] testimony can constitute a significant fragment” of this reality. So speech emerges here not as an obstacle for a doctor who has already chosen some other, underlying domain as the real site of medical intervention, relegating the patient’s testimony to the status of an illusory surface; rather, it emerges as the very thing we are seeking to uncover behind appearances: the means of expression of psychic reality constitutes a part of this reality itself. Reality itself is split from within. But how is this split achieved? That is, under what conditions does speech constitute itself as this “significant fragment” of the very thing it is supposed to speak about? This is the heart of the question, for even if Lacan already opposes the doctor’s supposition of some underlying determining reality—one removed from speech—to the Freudian position of not choosing to predetermine what is significant in speech, this suspension is not presented as an ethical act on the part of the analyst in the sense that one should simply “get out of the way” and let the patient freely speak. Instead, Lacan concludes the passage with this important proviso: “the very moment of this testimony can constitute a significant fragment of it, so long as the entirety of the text is requested and that one frees it from the shackles of a report.” The first of these clauses concerns the interiority of the clinical setting—the analyst should not pick and choose what he thinks is relevant from the patient’s testimony, speech should rather be considered in its totality—but the second statement has

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a slightly different status: “to free the testimony from the shackles of a report” means, above all, to sever its ties to the rest of reality, to suspend any claim to know to which actual state of affairs words refer. The fact that Lacan refers to this cut negatively at the level of the analyst’s position— as an act of not choosing beforehand what is significant and what is not in speech—already points to the fact that its positive enforcement takes place at another register: one frees the analysand’s speech from the function of reporting about the world by closing off the clinical setting from the rest of reality. As the title of the text suggests, we accomplish this by splitting reality from itself and going beyond the “reality-testing” of speech against facts. In very simple terms: we must actively erase any domain other than the concrete speech within the analytic session itself as a valid referent for that speech. Evidently, we all hear the echoes of the logic of the signifier in this severance of speech from the function of report, but what is crucial here is that the concept of the signifier is not what introduced the idea of a “report-less speech” into Lacan’s work. The signifier was rather the model which he later found to help him work through its consequences in a rigorous fashion. Without a doubt much was to be gained from its adoption, but was nothing lost or downplayed by it? What is particularly useful about Lacan’s formulations in this text is that he comes the closest he ever came to recognizing the artificial and formal closure of the clinical setting as a condition for speech to constitute a “significant fragment” of psychic reality. This position is in fact much closer to Badiou’s argument in “Mark and Lack” than to Miller’s “Suture.” As we previously discussed, Badiou sought to present logic as an autonomous thinking conditioned by a process of formation of expressions, a process which is absolutely consistent—it leaves nothing in the air, shutting off all ill-formed expressions—and which conditions the very legibility of inconsistencies within the theory’s productions—the process of “derivation,” which only operates on a subset of all possible expressions—just like the clinical space is able to render inconsistencies in speech significant by only operating on the subset of a state of affairs first produced as concrete speech within that space. But not only this: to take Lacan’s statement seriously is to consider the fact that the clinical space is an artificial space, the product of an active and practical split in reality, which then conditions the properties that speech acquires under such constraints. In science, the name of this process of constructing artificial concrete spaces, in which phenomena can be isolated and their inner workings probed, is experimentation.60 It should not surprise us that Lacan continues his text to state that these two conditions—the consideration of the integrality of the text of speech

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and its shutting away from outer spaces—“constitute what we could call the analytic experience,” which is precisely what lacked any rigorous theoretical formulation up to that point. 2.2 The Outer Boundary of the Clinic What we find here, in Lacan’s early attempts to account for his own clinical experiments, at a time when the question of analytic “technique” abounded in his writings, is a crucial distinction—which will get completely marginalized by the late 1950s—between speech in general and speech in analysis, or what Lacan referred to in this text as “the analytic experience.” Through his play on words with Freud’s famous metapsychological study on the drives, Lacan was actually recognizing—though we might question if he actually realized this—that something must be done to reality for speech to acquire the traits it presents within the psychoanalytic procedure. We could schematize this idea as depicted in figure 2.1. In short: there is speech in general, which functions in multiple ways, within multiple situations, most of them totally impervious to any analytic modeling, and there is the speech that is conformed by some conditions—among them the “golden rule of psychoanalysis,” free association. Within the artificial space reliant on these conditions, speech is freed from its reporting function and analytic technique comes into play: the function of analytic listening and the suspension of extrinsic significations of the patient’s testimony, the handling of the dynamics

Figure 2.1

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of transference, the question of interpretation, and so on. But free association, just like Marx’s ironic description of the worker’s freedom in capitalism, is actually a “freedom in a double sense”:61 we are free to enter into contractual relations with an employer and we are freed, that is, deprived of, the means to employ our own labor by ourselves. And so it is with “free” association: we are free to associate as we please, but we are also deprived of the access to an external reference point as the ground for what we say. The concrete historical force which accomplished this process of dispossession of workers from their means of production was the enclosure of land—the process of “primitive accumulation”—and in a sense, the clinical experience of free association also relies on an enclosure of the space of possible references. The recognition of the artificial nature of the clinic does not mean that the establishment of the clinical setting is an alienating force imposing mindless restrictions on speech, although Lacanians are very often very suspicious of any attempt to show that the entities which exist within the analytic experience are produced rather than merely “revealed” by analysis.62 Coming to terms with the artificial character of the clinical space, and its conditioning role on speech in analysis, allows us to see that Badiou’s position concerning the practice of logic, as well as his polemical statement that “it lacks nothing that it does not produce elsewhere,” in fact perfectly fit the actual, concrete practice of psychoanalysis—the “analytic experience”—when we approach it without confusing it with its models. What the schema in figure 2.2 proposes is a mapping of the three processes discerned by Badiou when describing the “mechanism” of logical practice onto the clinical practice of analysis. Speech in its multiple forms is concatenated: it contains all sorts of finite sequences of speech acts, regulated by complex social games and contexts—and in most of them, although not all, the function of reporting about the state of affairs of the world is essential and cannot be decoupled from what speaking is. But the enclosure of the clinical space, the “freeing” of associative speech, is a process of formation, it divides this infinitely long list of speech acts into two sets: those which take place within the clinical session and those which do not. This is an absolutely consistent distinction—as classical a negation as it can get: either a speech act belongs to the analytic session or it does not; there is no third option and no remainder. But it is within one of these two sets, the one that contains speech acts that take place within the clinical setting, that the logic of derivation of new speech acts out of the existing ones comes into play. This is the proper domain of what Lacan and Miller would later call the logic of the signifier.

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Figure 2.2

We have, thus far, tried to arrive at the concept of the signifier as a rightfully privileged model for the analytic experience, rather than merely suppose its necessity due to some general ontology. And we have now reached the situation in which, having defended the severance of speech from its reporting function, Lacan would have to address a series of challenging questions—which are summarized in figure 2.3. For example: what is speech that is not taken as referring to an external domain? Or, once this closure is achieved and the patient’s testimony is allowed to run free: what laws—if any—guide speech under these conditions? After all, if free association does allow us to pick up relevant information about the patient’s psychic reality, it must display some sort of regularity or structure. And if it does, what counts as a relevant transformation in this logical space? That is, how can we discern this structure and whether it has changed due to an intervention? Finally, how are we as analysts positioned there, that is, what does it mean to be the interlocutor of a speech with no external reference? Note that these are not questions about what speech is, nor are they questions about the origin of subjectivity, or even metapsychological questions in the usual sense of the term: they are technical matters of a specific practice. And it would make no sense to pose them were it not for the formal closure which splits the reality of the clinic from the reality of the rest of the world.

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Figure 2.3

2.3 The Function and Field—of a Model— of Speech and Language This is not the place to dwell on the reasons why all of the conceptual borrowings from surrealism, philosophy, religion, and science—which Lacan tried out in the 1930s and ’40s—were ultimately unsatisfactory and were eventually dropped to a large extent. Though some of them helped him to defend the centrality of speech in the clinic and to sketch answers to some of the questions we posed, none of them provided answers to all of them in a coherent way. We can thus imagine Lacan’s relief when he realized that structural linguistics could offer an ample and consistent model with which to address the problems that his militancy for the centrality of speech in psychoanalysis had brought to the fore. The fundamental equation is simple enough: speech freed from reporting is like the signifier decoupled from the signified. This statement “encodes” the psychoanalytic experience into another field, that of Saussurean linguistics. Everything else follows from there, including the famous Lacanian slogan that “the unconscious is structured like a language,” in which the marks of a modeling relation are still legible. What we can see now is that this second proposition is in fact a derivation from the first, not the other way around: just as “the unconscious” names a certain underlying logic of how speech is organized under certain artificial constraints, “language” is also a more general abstraction of rules

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and properties out of the reality of speech, which we can only equate if we can first code parts of the psychoanalytic system into specific parts of the linguistic model to begin with.63 There are, then, two movements at play here. First, a proposition concerning speech: the affirmation that we are authorized to uncouple the patient’s testimony from its reporting function due to the fact that we can rationally think the articulation of signifiers without presupposing a necessary articulation to their signified. But this is not enough on its own, since we want to handle speech under these conditions: how should we listen to this severed discourse, how can we evaluate it, intervene upon it, and so on? And this is where we move beyond analogical thinking and into a proper model, for Lacan ventures into the following schema, represented in figure 2.4: if the signifier codes into linguistics the essential trait of speech in analysis, then the results of the research on the structure of signification in language should “decode” back into psychoanalysis useful propositions for the technique, propositions whose adequate formulation we might not be able to properly derive directly from our experience in the clinic. Evidently, this modeling strategy sounds nothing like Lacan. But if we now take a look at his classic “Function and Field of Speech and Language,” this underlying transit between propositions in psychoanalysis and linguistics can be seen at work more clearly:

Figure 2.4

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All I have tried to do is remind you of the neglected a, b, c structure of language, and to teach you to spell once again the forgotten ABC’s of speech. For what recipe would guide you in a technique that is composed of the first and derives its effects from the second, if you did not recognize the field of the one and the function of the other? Psychoanalytic experience has rediscovered in man the imperative of the Word as the law that has shaped him in its image. It exploits the poetic function of language to give his desire its symbolic mediation. May this experience finally enable you to understand that the whole reality of its effects lies in the gift of speech; for it is through this gift that all reality has come to man and through its ongoing action that he sustains reality.64

Even though, for the sake of this study, we have extensively downplayed the ambiguities in Lacan’s position, this particular passage is a good example of how he tended to adopt the same strategy as both Frege and Miller: not speaking of the modeling relation as the forcing of two systems together, but as a discovery that the foundation of one lies in the other. We have not modeled one field on another, we have “rediscovered in man the imperative of the Word as the law that has shaped him in its image.” In a similar vein, the “gift of speech” is no longer connected to the reality of the analytic experience—this split of reality inside of itself—“for it is through this gift that all reality has come to man.” Up to this point, our line of inquiry—investigating how the practical enclosure of the clinical space conditions the very constitution of speech in analysis—could lead someone to think that, if this particular form of speech is really produced under such specific conditions, then all metapsychological concepts should only be valid within that same clinical space. Though it is true that the recognition of this conditioning process does affect the way we generalize ideas out of the findings of the clinic, it nonetheless does not prevent us from doing so, if we just take into consideration how we got to them.65 Most scientific experiments face this same problem:66 we create artificial conditions in which we can isolate a certain variable or a set of variables, which we can then measure or interact with in certain ways. The correlation between certain changes within that artificial space leads us to propose some invariance—the hypothesis that, for example, some variable changes in inverse proportion to another one—but we cannot, from this, conclude that this law will be immediately applicable to reality as such, since we only made this law intelligible by first making changes in reality: enclosing a space, shutting off interferences, and so on. So we need to factor all those suspended interferences back into our analysis. Otherwise we could conclude, from Galileo’s mental experiment with the

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two simultaneously falling bodies, that this is the way things work in the world—but they do not: air resistance will affect the fall of the two bodies differently based on the surface area that is in contact with the air, making them hit the ground at different times. Was Galileo therefore wrong in concluding that acceleration was acting on bodies independently of the objects’ masses? No, but we cannot generalize out of a result produced in artificial conditions without taking into consideration the artificial constraints that allowed us to arrive at such a result in the first place. With this in mind, we can now formulate one of the principal and most consequential collateral effects of the basic equation “speech = signifier”: if, on the one hand, it opens up the possibility, for the first time in psychoanalytic thinking, of a unified theoretical framework which includes an understanding of speech, of how to listen to it and how to intervene upon it; then on the other hand, it imports back into psychoanalysis the presupposition—perfectly acceptable for linguistics—that we are dealing with speech in general and not with a speech that is artificially constrained. In other words, the concept of the signifier, in psychoanalysis, carries within it a generalizing assumption, one which might sometimes contradict the fact that we only adopted this model because we first artificially created a space which “mimicked” some of its properties. The unrestricted adoption of this model leads to the erasure of its own material conditions of possibility. In later chapters we will provide a more detailed analysis of this collateral effect—which fully deserves to be called a “fetishism of the signifier”—but let us now probe further into the consolidation of Lacan’s modeling strategy. In the previous passage, from “Function and Field of Speech and Language,” Lacan was quite explicit in claiming that without recognizing the centrality of speech in analysis, and realizing that the laws of its functioning are the laws of language’s structure, the technique for navigating and consolidating the analytical experience would be lost: “For what recipe would guide you in a technique that is composed of the first and derives its effects from the second, if you did not recognize the field of the one and the function of the other?” In our previous schema, this is what the three arrows were supposed to designate: the “coding” of speech as signifier grounds the idea that the analytic experience is “composed” of a speech that is severed from its reporting function; the arrow within the linguistic model gives us the inner connections between speech and the structure from which it “derives its effects”; and the third arrow extracts the consequences back for analytic technique for dealing with this linguistic space and answering the questions that this experience poses to us. What is speech that is not taken as referring to an external domain? It is like a signifier which precedes and

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determines the signified.67 What laws—if any—guide speech under these conditions? The differential laws of the synchronic and diachronic displacement and substitution of signifiers.68 What constitutes a relevant transformation in this logical space? Transformations which attest to the dislodging of fixed or univocal signifieds.69 What does it mean to be the interlocutor of a speech with no external reference? It means to suspend any claim to know what speech means, and to listen to the concrete enchainment of signifiers as they are woven in speech.70 These are all basic tenets of a consistent analytical theory, now derived from within a single unified model, and which truly help us navigate the technicalities of a concrete analytical experience. What interests us above all, however, is how the modeling strategy underlying this new partnership with linguistics ultimately hides its own operation, presenting itself as if Lacan did nothing but “discover” the linguistic structure of the unconscious, as foretold by Freud. It is true that he could not have proposed such a model had he not argued that speech in analysis acquires very specific and special properties, but his militancy for the centrality of the patient’s testimony is irreducible to the model he used to give it consistency. In other words, this militant affirmation is an absolutely psychoanalytic conviction, extracted from a psychoanalytic experience, which no other discourse could have guaranteed for him. To suggest that it could have been derived from the very being of speech in general is to erase the “militant” dimension of psychoanalytic thinking under the model we have chosen to adopt for its intelligibility. This movement of erasure is clearly discernible in the following passage, taken from Lacan’s 1957 text “The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious, or Reason after Freud,” where he writes: And how could a contemporary psychoanalyst not sense, in coming upon speech, that he had reached this domain, when it is from speech that analytic experience receives its instrument, its frame, its material, and even the background noise of its uncertainties? . . . Beyond this speech, it is the whole structure of language that psychoanalytic experience discovers in the unconscious. This is to alert prejudiced minds from the outset that the idea that the unconscious is merely the set of the instincts may have to be reconsidered. . . . For my part, I will put my faith only in those premises whose value has already been proven, in that they have allowed language to attain the status in experience of a scientific object.71

Lacan begins by affirming that speech is the domain from which “analytic experience receives its instrument, its frame, its material, and even the background noise of its uncertainties.” But when he takes the next

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step—the one “beyond this speech”—we are no longer strictly within psychoanalysis, for the unconscious is now discovered to have “the whole structure of language.” That is, rather than claiming that we model the unconscious in terms of the structure of language due to our previous adoption of the signifier as a privileged structure, he claims that we adopt structural linguistics as our theory because we have discovered its object within ours. The first inversion is thus: concrete speech in analysis is what authorizes the expansion of psychoanalytic theory to include parts of linguistics. Our object becomes “linguistics plus a subject,” marking a broader framework than the one we had borrowed from initially. If anyone has difficulty recognizing the effects of this process in the model relations of psychoanalysis and other fields, it suffices to recall that, until a certain moment, the signifier was the concept which clarified something about psychoanalysis, but, after a certain point, Lacan started to refer to other models, such as topological structures, and used them to clarify the logic of the signifier itself, hence placing it within the theory in need of modeling itself, as shown in figure 2.5. Theoretically, this “expansion” has exactly the same effect as the one later proposed by Miller: just as, for him, the logic of the signifier was in position to explain the “origin of logic,” so too with Lacan’s new metapsychological theory, as “the signifier plus the unconscious” emerges as the field capable of accounting for the origin of signification in general. The field we brought in to help us figure out our own practice turns out to depend on psychoanalysis to know what its object “truly is.” Still, the distinction between speech in general and within the analytic setting is only completely erased with Lacan’s last claim: “I will put my faith only in those premises whose value has already been proven, in that they have allowed language to attain the status in experience of a scientific object.” This is the statement which truly ends the experimental period in Lacan’s thinking: the scientific status of linguistics comes to replace the intra-psychoanalytic conviction of a possible type of speech and speech relation, as if this basic fact of the clinical space was a consequence of the “already proven” structure of language and not the concrete effect of a desire to experiment what the psychoanalytic experience could be.

3. The Lacanian Foreclosure We began this investigation by listing some problems which cannot be totally dissociated from the historical limits of Lacanian thinking today. We

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Figure 2.5

called the mechanism which reproduces these limits the “Lacanian ideology,” and we approached them as we would all ideological stances: by seeking to understand what regional property of a singular situation is being generalized out of its proper domain. This led us to study the famous polemic between Jacques-Alain Miller and Alain Badiou in the 1960s, which revolved precisely around a very intelligent proposal for how to generalize aspects of psychoanalysis into a “unitary theoretical discourse” through a “logic of the signifier”—a project whose fragilities and inconsistencies were already pointed out by Badiou’s surgical critique back then. This critique was not taken, however, to mean that Miller had “read Lacan wrong,” but rather that Badiou had exposed a flaw in Lacan’s own approach to modeling relations within psychoanalysis. This was the motivation behind the subsequent step in our research: to inquire as to when the concept of the signifier emerged in Lacan’s trajectory, to probe

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what it was meant to do, and finally to determine the price we paid for its unrestricted adoption. It is worth stressing, before moving on, that this investigation in no way entails that we are joining the ranks of the many critics of Lacanian psychoanalysis. To struggle against the historical limits of our current practice and theory is the very opposite of disqualifying it “structurally.” To criticize the collateral effects of our use of the signifier as a general model for speech is not the same as criticizing the adoption of this model altogether. Rather than leading us to dismiss psychoanalysis or to expose it as a “disciplinary apparatus,” the approach we aim to take requires that we seriously face two questions: first, what are the intra-psychoanalytic problems that this model has helped us address? And second, what other models could preserve the gains of the previous model while addressing the problematic issues it is incapable of formulating? There is no turning back from the novelty introduced into psychoanalytic thinking by Lacan, but in order to recognize the full extent of these possibilities, we must distinguish what this novelty authorizes us to investigate from the interdictions which its contingent means of expression impose upon us due to the impotence—within this model—of articulating its own limits.72 If the signifier is not a regional concept, but a general one, applicable to every spoken interaction and every situation where there are speaking beings, regardless of any artificial constraints, then the object of psychoanalysis is supposedly at stake everywhere—and we are then in a position to claim that if a field of thought does not directly address the subject of the psychoanalytic experience, this is not because it does not produce the preconditions for its constitution; it is rather because it has actively foreclosed it, “unconsciously” negating this ubiquitous dimension of human life. When Miller claims that the logic of the signifier developed by Lacan is capable of recognizing the unthought kernel of the laws of thought at work at even the most abstract and pure logical levels of discourse, he is just taking this strategy to its “logical” conclusion. Undoubtedly, most Lacanians will respond to this line of investigation by evoking the periodization of Lacan’s teaching and emphasizing the increasingly central role that the concept of enjoyment acquired in his later thinking.73 The basic argument runs as follows: yes, Lacan’s “first classicism” was marked by an overestimation of the signifier and of science, but a crucial turn took place in his teaching in the early 1960s with the invention of the “object a,” At that point, Lacan was led to realize that speech exceeds the signifier, and that speaking is a means of enjoying this outer fringe of signification, the enjoyment of “lalangue.” Lacan no

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Figure 2.6

doubt continued to develop his theory in the 1960s and beyond—and his ambivalent reaction to Miller’s formalization of the logic of the signifier might in fact have played a part in this—and it is not under dispute that much changed theoretically in the subsequent twenty years of Lacan’s thought. The question we should rather ask is: were these developments aimed at a modeling of psychoanalysis similar to what he had previously done, dropping unsatisfactory models in favor of a new one, or at supplementing the limits of his previous modeling strategy?74 In order to answer this question, we must first complete the reconstruction of the consequences that the establishment of the doctrine of the signifier for psychoanalysis has had more generally, and then evaluate if later developments left these consequences in place or shifted them in some fundamental way. Our current results can be summarized as the schema in figure 2.6. As a result of the process of erasure sketched above, we arrive at a view that perfectly fits what Badiou called the use of models as a notion: a formalism—the logic of the signifier—is now taken as a structure that describes reality as such—that is, speaking subjects, as well as the technical handling of analysis. As a consequence, the distinction between speech in general and speech in analysis disappears and, in its place, our metapsychological framework is suddenly tasked with accounting for two fundamental consequences of this erasure. First, we must deal with the fact that, if the signifier is a linguistic unit, then to probe into its origin or conditions becomes the same as probing into the origin of language. At the

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same time, our theoretical apparatus must now also account for the synchronous ubiquity of language: if speech in analysis is formalizable by the signifier, then it should share all of its properties with speech and language in all of their manifestations—a condition which requires, as we have seen, that this dialogue with other fields be conceived quite asymmetrically, since there is no longer any reason why other fields of thought should have insights into the structure and function of language which we as psychoanalysts do not have direct access to. By now it should be clear that these two conditions placed on metapsychology follow directly from the disappearance of the question of the artificial dimension of clinical speech under an improper generalization of the signifier as a model. This is an important realization, for it gives us resources to return to the previous question concerning Lacan’s later development: did he move beyond the fundamental ideas established in 1953 and formalized by Miller in the early 1960s or not? A good way to evaluate this is to check whether these two conditions remained in place or not: did the continuation of his teaching lead him to undo these two iatrogenic effects of his particular use of structural linguistics, these almost metaphysical inquiries into language and being, or did it lead him to seek answers for them, as if they were properly formulated psychoanalytic problems? As complex and mixed as Lacan’s actual trajectory might have been, the weight of the second approach in his later teaching—as well as his frustration over the failures to account for it—clearly outdo his attempts to establish new relations between psychoanalysis and its models. We are now very close to the center of our polemic, and it bears repeating: none of this implies that Lacan’s theories are “wrong” or useless—we are merely probing into the unnecessary commitments that he might have carried over while developing perfectly useful and otherwise brilliant ideas. The current results of our investigation do in fact imply that Lacan’s teaching was at least partially overdetermined by a sort of impossible demand, one which did not stem from the requirements of the psychoanalytic experience, but from the erasure of one of its specific traits. But uncoupling, for instance, the theory of enjoyment from the demands imposed by this erasure does not mean that we must do away with those aspects of the theory which do in fact help us navigate and listen to the always shifting terrain of what is significant and what is not in a patient’s testimony. It should rather free us from having to formulate and deal with our clinical, conceptual, and institutional problems in terms that must simultaneously account for the analytic experience and for other theoretical imperatives which we cannot adequately account for within the limits of psychoanalytic thinking.

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A preliminary consideration of how the reintroduction of the conditions of speech in the clinic affects both the metapsychological understanding of enjoyment and its consequences for other fields suggests that most corrections to Lacan’s schema concern the modal status of this dimension of subjectivity: rather than affirming that it is structurally necessary that speech be articulated in such and such a way for the subject, we would have to extract the consequences of the fact that it falls within the realm of the possible that a given relation between speech and satisfaction takes place. After all, it is an undeniable aspect of clinical experience that speaking beings can enjoy the substance of absent signifieds as well as the very “tickling” of spoken words, in all their immediate equivocity—and the very possibility of these strange phenomena has huge consequences for how we approach all sorts of other situations, inside and outside of clinical experience. However, if we first recognize that this dimension of pulsional satisfaction only emerges in such purity within the clinic because we first severed speech’s ties to its referents, then the path from clinical experience to more general claims about the being of sex, the foreclosure of the subject in science, and so on, would require additional tweaking. Just as we might come to encounter open problems that we previously ignored within our own theory. This research is guided by the premise that the problems of psychoanalytic thinking should be approached as pertaining, simultaneously, to the clinical, metapsychological, and institutional dimensions of psychoanalysis. Thus far, our critique has apparently only been focused on the relation between clinical experience and theoretical models. This impression is quickly dispelled, however, when one considers the following: the very structure of how the problem of enjoyment is posed within our metapsychological framework repeats the central elements of how the clinical setting is instituted as a space of free association—with the difference that the latter materially precedes and conditions the former. The topological relation of “extimacy,” the idea of a difference that remains irreducible to signification, the maintenance of an “other scene” through meaningless practices—the fact is that, in psychoanalysis, before these questions appear at the metapsychological level in all their generality, such as in the context of a theory of the drives, they already appear, whether we want it or not, at the level of the concrete institution of the clinical space. Is the status of this “artifice” which severs the ties of speech to its reporting function not “extimate” to the space it founds? Is the difference between speech in general and speech in analysis not a difference without a signifier, a difference that survives transference and can only be assumed by the passage of the analysand into the position of analyst, as Lacan himself recognized? And is not the psychoanalytic experience, in this sense, a practice

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whose very concrete activity sustains a division between incommunicable spaces, where an artificial space comes to determine the field of our lived experience? These are institutional questions which precede and determine the clinical and metapsychological domains of psychoanalysis, for that is exactly what is at stake in the enclosure of speech in analysis: an irreducibly institutional component of the efficacy of the analytic clinic.

3

The History of an Impasse in Lacanian Thinking

The previous chapter introduced some of the themes with which we will continuously engage throughout this investigation: the critique of a “Lacanian ideology” supported by an improper generalization of the signifier out of its regional bounds, the consideration of the clinical setting as an experimental site within the psychoanalytic procedure, and the history of inventions within Lacanian thinking. However, the starting point leading to all these different threads was the definition of Lacanian thinking as the articulation of metapsychological, clinical, and institutional dimensions of psychoanalysis. Without the affirmation of psychoanalysis as a historically dynamic procedure composed of these irreducible parts, the very problems that interest us here could not be made intelligible, since we could simply displace them in order to avoid facing certain impasses: questions concerning the relation between the clinic and metapsychology can be hidden by institutional deformations, those concerning the schools and their theoretical basis can be neutralized by distorting aspects of the clinic, and so on. It was with this underlying premise in mind that we previously proposed, rather polemically, that there would only be one proper, integral break dividing Lacan’s teaching, namely the rupture with the IPA in 1962–63, which led to the foundation of the EFP and to a new articulation between these three dimensions of the analytic procedure. However, even though we did engage with the debate between Jacques-Alain Miller and Alain Badiou, which also took place around the same time as this crucial break, the previous chapter was mostly concerned with questions of theoretical modeling in the “pre-history” of the so-called Lacanian “classicisms”—covering, in particular, the movement between Lacan’s early “Beyond the Reality Principle” of 1936 and his famous “Function and Field of Speech and Language” of 1953. At this point, we intend to shift our emphasis toward the relation between Lacanian theory and the institutional realm of psychoanalysis. Having discussed some of the ideological effects that accompanied the consolidation of the signifier as an unrestricted model of speech, we now seek to follow the historical thread binding theoretical and institutional 58

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impasses that ultimately led Lacan to call upon a new signifier. It is our wager that this later development cannot be fully grasped without our first being able to recognize the problems which irreducibly pertain to psychoanalytic thinking as such, concerning all its different components at once, and connecting the discussion of our previous chapter to the contemporary situation of Lacanian psychoanalysis.

1. Institution, Clinic, and Concept: Their Knotting before and after 1964 Lacan’s writings must be understood, in a manner similar to political writings, as localized interventions. Rather than providing us with schematic systematizations of his teaching—whose constant reelaborations were in fact tracked throughout his yearly seminars—his scripta served above all as combative answers to specific problems posed by the conjuncture of the psychoanalytic milieu of the time. This is why, in the postface to the French edition of his eleventh seminar, Lacan warns us that his writings were made “not to be read” (“pas-à-lire”): 1 they were meant to intervene, dislodge, or divide, rather than describe, summarize, or condense. Two consequences follow from this realization. First of all, in order to think with Lacan—and not merely to read him—we must consider his writings together with the “context of struggle” in which they were produced. This is, in fact, Lacan’s own advice to those who follow him: There is something quite astounding, which is that those who do quite well the work of transmission, [by doing it] without actually naming me, regularly lose the opportunity, which is quite visible in the text, of contributing with the little idea that they could have presented there! Little or even quite big. . . . Why is it that they would produce a small innovation? It is because, in citing me, in the very fact of citing me, they would presentify . . . the context of struggle [contexte de bagarre] in which I produced all of this. From the sole fact of stating it within the context of struggle, this would put me in my place, and would allow them to produce then a small innovation.2

This implies, for instance, an attention to the challenges faced by psychoanalysis at the time of each of Lacan’s interventions and the capacity to distinguish, with this reference in mind, between conditional and unconditional preferences, between alliances and conceptual connections which had to be made, sometimes forcefully, merely for tactical reasons,

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and those which are more intrinsic to psychoanalysis as such, and which might only reveal themselves retroactively. Moreover, the concern with the different battles fought by Lacan—battles sometimes waged against his own previous positions—must be supplemented by a refined attention to an important shift which took place around 1963 in his relation with the French psychoanalytic situation. Before his rupture with the Société Française de Psychanalyse (SFP), Lacan’s constant engagement with the decrepit state of psychoanalysis in France, both in its clinical inefficacy and its conceptual deviations, mostly took the form of critical accusations, ironic retorts, and a relentless concern with the return to the basic insights of Freud’s discoveries. However, once Lacan lost his place within the International Psychoanalytic Association,3 and his teaching was suddenly in danger, he was faced with a new and fundamentally different task: that of creating an alternative institution, the École Freudienne de Paris (EFP), organized according to his own ideas, and capable of positively inscribing in the world a position which, until then, had only been articulated as a critical one. The relevance of this second consequence cannot be underestimated; in fact, it constitutes perhaps the only periodization of Lacan’s work which truly distinguishes two separate moments in his teaching. There are, of course, some convincing and useful ways to divide Lacan’s seminars into discernible conceptual sequences, but Milner’s distinction between two Lacanian “classicisms,”4 and Miller’s “six paradigms of enjoyment,”5 do not account for the heterogeneous problems which resisted the previous conceptual sequence and demanded subsequent reformulations. Only the break which distinguishes a before and after of the founding of Lacan’s own school, in 1964, can adequately refer to institutional, conceptual, and clinical changes simultaneously. The institutional break is somewhat evident: Lacan was suddenly faced with the difficult task of combining his relentless critique of the psychoanalytic establishment with a formative project that did not succumb to any of these same deviations. The conceptual break, if we consider solely the rupture of Lacan’s “founding act,” was equally profound. It suffices to point out that, after the famous “interrupted seminar” of 1962, Lacan focused for years on the problem of rigor in psychoanalysis, namely, the problem of how to distinguish between conceptual markers developed in order to rectify the metapsychological and clinical import of psychoanalysis and their use as identificatory traits by his disciples and followers. Concerning the clinic, the break is even clearer: Lacan became quite infamous in the French psychoanalytic scene precisely because of his clinical inventions, such as the variable-length session, and his clinical experiments were brought up as reasons for his expulsion from the SFP.

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It follows, then, that these technical procedures would finally find their place in his own school, which so openly invited psychoanalysts to reinvent the Freudian practice in accordance with their own time. But the crystallization of Lacan’s theory of logical time into a general principle of analytic practice was not the most evident of the changes which followed from the break of 1964: the most important clinical development was surely the mechanism of the pass (la passe),6 an invention which was not only clinical, as it concerned the analytic cure, but which also confirmed that the founding of Lacan’s school addressed simultaneously all of the three registers we have just outlined. The theory of the the pass was meant to be the marker of the end of analysis (clinic), an organizational and formative procedure (institution), and a source of theoretical developments and new problems for psychoanalysis (concept). Our proposition is thus the following: the actual break in Lacan’s teaching is the one that distinguishes between a first moment when the relation between the clinic, the concept, and the institution was held together by the psychoanalytic situation established by the IPA, when Lacan could benefit from maintaining critical distance towards it; and a later one when it fell upon a singular site, Lacan’s newfound École Freudienne de Paris, to immanently knot these three dimensions of psychoanalysis together, as shown in figure 3.1. Moreover, this rupture does not merely divide Lacan’s work into two equally consistent sequences, it rather divides it into two distinct notions of fidelity: one in contradiction with the psychoanalytic situation of the time, and another in contradiction with itself. As Erik Porge writes:

Figure 3.1

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It is known, in effect, that the originality of Lacan’s reading of Freud resides in the affirmation of his Freudian orthodoxy and in his refusal of all post-Freudian “detours.” According to this perspective, his entry into dissidence was not possible if not as a renewal of the Freudian rupture, and only as such. Well, by creating a school of his own, Lacan found himself constrained, if not to confess himself a Lacanian, at least to validate the political existence of a “Lacanism.” Through this selfrecognition, his movement entered into a contradiction with the very doctrine which sustained it and which defines itself as “Freudian.”7

However, this important break cannot be understood as a clean or punctual cut; that is, it cannot be read, as it is sometimes suggested, even by Lacan himself, as a cut marked exclusively by the “interrupted seminar” of 1962, on the names of the father.8 When the first signs of an irresolvable difference between his teaching and the general orientation of the SFP began to appear, Lacan did everything in his power to remain within the French branch of the Freudian society, and these disputes took many years before culminating in the actual break. Accordingly, during these difficult years we find Lacan already working through the first necessary elements to eventually develop a theory of the immanent linkage of the Freudian clinic, metapsychology, and community. The most telling of these elements is a short but critical mention of Freud’s text Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, found in the class session of May 31, 1961: It could be said of what I am trying to do here, with all the reservations that this implies, that it constitutes an effort of analysis in the proper sense of the term, concerning the analytic community as a mass organized by the analytic ego-ideal, such as it has effectively developed itself under the form of a certain number of mirages, in the forefront of which is that of the “strong ego,” which is usually erroneously imputed there where one believes to recognize it. To invert the pair of terms which constitute the title of Freud’s article to which I have referred before, one of the aspects of my seminar could be called Ich-Psychologie und Massenanalyse. Moreover, the Ich-Psychologie, which was promoted to the forefront of analytic theory, constitutes the jam, constitutes the dam, constitutes the inertia, for more than a decade, which prevents the re-start of any analytic efficacy. And it is insofar as things have gotten to this point that it is convenient to interpellate as such the analytic community, allowing some light to be shed on this matter, on what comes to alter the purity of the position of the analyst regarding the one to whom he responds, his analysand, insofar as the analyst himself inscribes himself and determines himself through the effects which result from the analytic mass,

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namely, the mass of analysts, in the current state of its constitution and discourse.9

Lacan’s reasoning in this dense passage, in which he proposed an inversion of Freud’s theory of the masses, can be roughly divided into three steps: (1) the analytic mass has organized itself—despite “knowing better”—in the very way that Freud had described the formation of groups through the “introjection” of a trait into a shared ego-ideal;10 (2) given that the group of analysts is the set of those who position themselves in a certain way within the clinical space—in a distant resonance with the scientific community—the trait which binds the analytic mass cannot be located inside the psychoanalytic societies in the figure of a leader, but must rather appear as an ideal for the clinic; and (3) this trait, whose function was mainly to organize the analytic society, nevertheless plays a technical and theoretical role within the clinic itself: behaving in a certain way within the clinical space was both a matter of the handling of transference and an index which verified one’s belonging to the group of analysts. Accordingly, the sense of permanence and the clear division between inside and outside, both of which are proper to relations of group membership, returned in the clinic as the ground for a particular metapsychological deviation—namely, the “strong ego”—and the series of technical restrictions associated with the direction of treatment which assumes such a “muscular” egoic force of defense and control as its guideline. The structure of Lacan’s argument binds together, therefore, institutional, clinical, and conceptual dimensions around a problem that is irreducible to any one of these three domains, but which is constantly displaced from one register onto another,11 namely, how to identify and group together the set of those whose only shared property is to dissolve group identifications. But why would such a construction require Lacan to invert Freud’s terms? In order to understand this shift—which so clearly reflects the change in Lacan’s position before and after the foundation of his school—we need only take notice of the rather unorthodox presupposition implied in his argument: that the overlap which binds the clinic to the analytic community should not be a positive and recognizable conduct as practitioner, but the capacity to simultaneously escape the circuit of identification in transference and within the analytic community. However, there is no such negative link in Freud’s theory of groups, that is to say, there is no theory in psychoanalysis of what it means to belong to a set without a shared ideal.12 This is why Lacan stresses that he is engaging in “an effort of analysis in the proper sense of the term” even though he is dealing first and foremost with an institutional problem: the proper diagnosis of the impasse which would ultimately lead him to found the EFP required a commitment with a new hypothesis, one which could not

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be found in Freud’s doctrine, even if the express purpose was to remain faithful to Freud himself. Before we move on to analyze the stakes of Lacan’s effort at “Massenanalyse,” it is worth noting that the supplementary problem, concerning the theoretical gap in Freud’s theory of groups, would later become a central issue in Lacan’s teaching. The prominence of this conceptual deficit is most clearly discernible in his seminars from the late 1960s that dealt with the relation between knowledge and enjoyment. Without going too much into this difficult matter, it suffices to state that Lacan’s investigations concerning knowledge as a means for enjoyment13 added an extra clause to the problem already sketched in 1961: how to group together the community of those who do not belong to any groups without thereby constituting the equally “revisionist” group of those who identify themselves as “without identity.” That is, how do we avoid the equally dangerous social link based on the knowledge of a lack of identity? If we mobilize our triadic model, it appears that the final threat to Lacan’s teaching after the founding of his school was none other than Lacan’s work itself—which, as Porge suggests, was inherently contradictory with regard to its fidelity to Freud. In other words, one could disavow the task faced by the EFP precisely by sticking too closely to Lacan’s own elaborations, and thereby considering its increasingly hermetic body of knowledge as a substitutive guarantee of the “strong ego,” whose vicious function in the organization of the Freudian societies of his time Lacan had previously denounced. The question then becomes: did Lacan ever resolve the new impasse which delimited this second period in his teaching? The answer is clearly negative: not only was the problem of how to tie conceptual, clinical, and institutional matters in psychoanalysis never properly resolved, but the problem was never properly thematized as such by Lacan. Undoubtedly, the theory of the end of analysis as the passage from analysand to analyst, from its very first formulation in 1967,14 provides us with all the necessary materials to construct the problem in a rigorous fashion,15 and we can easily recognize how the mechanism of the passe would itself come to name the most consistent answer to this impasse. But it remains a fact that Lacan’s school dissolved in 1980 and that the theory of the passe, as early as 1978, was considered by Lacan himself to be “a complete failure.”16

2. Desire, Act, and Discourse: Three Names for an Impasse We have proposed a basic model—reproduced as figure 3.2—for the break which truly distinguishes two separate moments in Lacan’s psychoanalytic

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Figure 3.2

trajectory. We have also seen how this new impasse, according to Lacan’s own “analysis of the analytic mass,” ties together, in an immanent way, the form of organization of the analytic community, the direction of treatment in the clinic, and the conceptual apparatus of psychoanalysis. The problem itself, however, is neither entirely institutional—since it also concerns problems of how to handle transference and the conceptual grasp of subjectivity—nor is it purely clinical—since the different clinical positions in this matter inform the constitution of the analytic community as well as the place of transmission of knowledge in its consistency. Nor is the problem exclusively conceptual, given that different “ontological commitments” regarding the place of negativity and desire restrict in different ways the scope of analytic practice and the social link. Moreover, the excessive character of this impasse ultimately redoubles the problem: after all, does a question which cannot be assigned to any one of the domains of psychoanalysis remain strictly psychoanalytical? No matter how we respond to this enigma, it is nevertheless clear that we are dealing with a problem of impurity, both in the sense that each register is tainted with concerns belonging to the other two, and in the sense that it brings into psychoanalysis itself a question which seems slightly outside of its own scope. This problem is most clearly discernible in a comparison of Lacan’s two conceptualizations of the “desire of the analyst,” first in the seminar on ethics (1960) and, after the break with the SFP, in his eleventh

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seminar (1973). As we have already seen, the question of how to find an alternative ground for the position of the analyst, sheltered from the circuit of counter-transference, group formations, and conceptual laxity, was very much on Lacan’s mind by the end of the 1950s. In 1958 he wrote one of his most important texts, “The Direction of Treatment and the Principles of Its Power,” in which we find the first clear articulation of the need to distinguish between the desire of the analyst and the desire to be an analyst,17 the latter being the conceptual form of the position which would bind together the different psychoanalytic instances in a positive, permanent, and recognizable point.18 Around the same time, Lacan began his study of Kantian moral philosophy, and we can now understand why: Kant’s problem of how to ground moral conduct on an unconditional point without any need for a transcendental content, was also the problem Lacan was facing within the psychoanalytic field (see figure 3.3).19 Between 1958 and 1960, Lacan began to develop an elaborated critique of Kant’s position, looking for an intra-psychoanalytic instance which would serve as a ground for the ethical rectitude needed of an analyst. An analyst would have to be capable of doubting, not only the pitfalls of counter-transference, but also her recognition as an analyst by her peers and the convenience of her own conceptual elaborations. In short, the analyst’s position would be one that orients itself by maintaining a degree of distance from its own pathological attachments.20 At this

Figure 3.3

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point, Lacan elaborated a conception of the desire of the analyst as a pure desire, as if the way to solve the impasse of immanently knotting the institutional, clinical, and conceptual dimensions of psychoanalysis could be achieved through a reference to a special kind of moral rectitude, oriented by the empty form of desire, a movement akin to the role of the empty “fact of Reason” in Kant’s second Critique. However, by 1963, after the rupture with the SFP had taken place, Lacan concluded his famous seminar on the Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis with the following affirmation: The analyst’s desire is not a pure desire. It is a desire to obtain absolute difference, a desire which intervenes when, confronted with the primary signifier, the subject is, for the first time, in a position to subject himself to it. There only may the signification of a limitless love emerge, because it is outside the limits of the law, where alone it may live.21

The theme of ethics would almost completely disappear from his teaching from then on,22 and the reference to the quasi-transcendental dimension of desire would be replaced by Lacan’s lasting investigation of the Freudian theory of the drives, with distinct Hegelian overtones.23 However, this shift should not be understood as a development prompted by clinical or conceptual matters alone: in fact, the claim that the desire of the analyst is not “pure”—in the sense of being grounded in an empty form removed from pathological interests—has the fundamental consequence of blurring the limits between analyst and analysand in the analytic procedure. In the quote above, it already becomes somewhat clear that the kernel of the analyst’s desire, and the pivot of its distinction from the “desire to be an analyst,” is paradoxically on the side of the analysand. In short, by bringing the theory of the drives—specifically the theory of the objectal dimension of the subject—to the center of psychoanalytic consideration, Lacan also shifted his concept of the desire of the analyst toward the practical capacity of anyone to sustain herself at the point of an “absolute difference” in relation to the analysand’s speech, rather than in relation to her own pathological interests (see figure 3.4). This transformation is nothing short of unprecedented. To be succinct, it allows us to conceive the institutional space of psychoanalysis in a completely new way: just as the clinic would have to be reformulated, after 1963, in accordance with the principle that “the unconscious is outside,”24 the analytic community would have to come to terms with the idea that it is a community composed only of its own exterior. That is, it is a community whose esoteric center coincides with its most exoteric material: the speech of those who seek analysis on account of their suffering. But how

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Figure 3.4

do we conceptualize this inconsistent relation between clinical practice and the psychoanalytic school without offering its own theoretical apprehension as its point of fixation? Lacan’s new account of the desire of the analyst introduced a certain indiscernibility or vacillation into the heart of the analytic procedure, bringing the institutional level into closer relation to the two instances which are in “absolute difference” within the clinical scene. This indiscernibility, we believe, is the motor behind a crucial conceptual thread which cuts across Lacan’s teaching in the 1960s: the investigation which takes him, in quick succession, from the notion of the analyst’s desire to that of the analytical act and to the analyst’s discourse—as summarized in figure 3.5. These three concepts all have one point in common: they are each different attempts to grasp the point which holds together the psychoanalytic procedure in all its dimensions simultaneously. However, the main point of distinction between them, even at a superficial level, is the extension upon which each conceptualization ties together analysts and analysands at this impossible intersection of the clinic and the analytic community. The passage from the analyst’s desire as an “impure” category to the notion of the analytic act is itself connected, once more, with the two other dimensions of psychoanalysis: Lacan’s elaborations concerning

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Figure 3.5

the object of psychoanalysis25—that is, the point at which the incidence of analytic interpretation occurs—and the initial steps of the École Freudienne de Paris, which was faced with its first real challenges, such as the establishing of its processes of admission, formation, and study.26 This concept must be distinguished from that of the desire of the analyst in at least two fundamental ways: first, it seeks to ground the position of the analyst on its consequences—that is, there is an analyst only insofar as there are analytical consequences of an interpretation—and, second, it introduces an ambiguity regarding the one who acts; i.e., is the analytic act the act of interpreting a symptom, or the act of subjective destitution which falls on the analysand? In both cases, the idea of an analytic act shifts the axis away from the figure of the analyst and more toward an indiscernible point within the analytical setting itself, which is treated as the crucial dimension of the analytic procedure.27 It was within this framework that Lacan developed his theory of the passe, which articulated the analytic act with the traversal of fantasy at the end of analysis, thereby proposing the productive unbinding of the objectal dimension of the subject, the maintenance of a third instance capable of locating it at a representational level, and the passage from analysand to psychoanalyst.28 However, already in 1969, Lacan would claim that he had failed to formalize the concept of the act,29 and he proceeded to construct his theory of the four discourses. This shift is usually perceived as a change

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in focus, as an outward turn, away from psychoanalysis’s own problems, to the political upheavals of May ’68. We should nevertheless doubt such a worn-out explanation for at least three reasons: first, other political events had already stirred the intellectual scene in France since Lacan had begun his teaching, and never before—with the understandable exception of the Second World War—had he turned away from strictly psychoanalytic issues in order to extensively comment on them, as was supposedly the case with the seminars dedicated to the four discourses; second, Lacan is quite clear in stating that the discourse of the analyst, the singular form of social link introduced by psychoanalysis, was the kernel of this new conceptual moment, and it alone allowed him to formalize the three other discursive structures which were so aptly used for certain political and historical analyses;30 and, finally, in light of our own triadic model, which brings certain institutional problems of psychoanalysis to the foreground, the question of a theory of social links which would be distinct from Freud’s theory of group formations reveals itself to be central for psychoanalysis itself. Accordingly, we have no difficulty in grasping that the discourse of the analyst was developed as a new answer to the original “impurity” of the desire of the analyst, first presented in 1964, and which had become, in the notion of the analytic act, an indiscernible point between analyst and analysand. The theory of the analytic discourse replaced the ambiguity at the heart of the analytical act with a clear formalization, binding the partial object of the drive—of which the analyst makes a semblance—to the production of a new signifier on the side of the subject of speech. This structure, which ties together what Lacan calls “the knowledge of the analyst,” also locates the meaningless signifier produced by the analytic act, the position of the analyst, and the subject of the unconscious,31 all of which are now articulated as a social link; rendering apparent how the metapsychological and clinical dimensions of psychoanalysis must be thought together with their social or institutional counterpart. This brief overview allows us, at least superficially, to trace Lacan’s insistent attempts to locate, each time at a slightly different register, through different formal procedures, the impurity which decenters the position of the analyst, making it conditional on an instance: the subject’s division, which paradoxically only exists as such within analysis. He would soon stop referring to the analyst’s discourse as well, and what is known by exegetes as “Lacan’s last teaching” would supposedly begin from that point on.32 It is quite interesting to consider the fact that the figure of the Borromean knot became central in Lacan’s investigations precisely at the moment that the impasse we have been tracking lost any explicit

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reference in his teaching. It was also during this new conceptual moment that the École Freudienne de Paris slowly disintegrated. Still, at the very moment when Lacan’s original institutional project began to falter, we find a very significant event occur which should serve as an indelible reminder of the need to return to the challenge which had haunted Lacan at least since 1964. We are indebted, once more, to none other than Louis Althusser for this. Althusser had already played a crucial role in 1963, when he offered Lacan and his students a new place where the seminars could continue. He additionally offered a renewed reading of Marx that clearly influenced Lacan’s subsequent elaborations on surplus enjoyment. On March 15, 1980, at the last meeting of the EFP, Althusser showed up—uninvited—in order to confront the psychoanalysts with the impurity at the core of their own procedure. This is how Althusser summarized the affair: I intervened to say that the affair of dissolving of the EFP was not my business, but from listening to you, there is a juridical procedure that Lacan has clearly started, whether he wants it or not, and he must know it, for he knows the law, and the whole business is simple: knowing whether one should vote yes or no tomorrow on the subject of dissolution. On that I have no opinion, but it is a political act, and such an act is not taken alone, as Lacan did, but should be reflected on and discussed democratically by all the interested parties, in the first rank of which are your “masses,” who are the analysands, your “masses” and your “real teachers” which the analysands are, and not by a single individual in the secrecy of 5 rue de Lille; otherwise, it’s despotism, even if it’s enlightened.33

Althusser’s intervention touches on two sides of the impurity we have previously discerned. First, it points to the role of analysands in the constitution of the analytical procedure, that is, the institutional dependence of analysts on their “real teachers.” Second, it highlights how the analytic act—very much like the “strong ego” in Lacan’s example from 1961—had become an ideal of what it means to belong to the analytic community: faced with a juridical and political matter, the members of the École were incapable of approaching the matter institutionally, treating it rather as if Lacan had introduced a “cut” in an identificatory relation within an analytic session. The criteria of what it meant to belong to the analytic community had once more been displaced onto an ideal for the clinic. But, Althusser continued, since this displacement concerned not only the analysts who were members of the EFP, but all analysands who sought

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them, whose analyses were therefore contaminated by the silent function of also reassuring their analysts of their ideal allegiance to Lacan: Whatever the case, I told them, in point of fact, you are doing politics and nothing else; you are in the process of doing politics and nothing else, . . . In any event, when one does politics, as Lacan and you are doing, it is never without consequences. If you think you are not doing any, wait a little; it will come crashing down on your heads or rather, and alas, it won’t come crashing down on your heads, since you are well protected and know how to lie low. In fact, it will come crashing down on the unfortunates who come to stretch out on your couch and on all their intimates and the intimates of their intimates and on to infinity.34

3. Toward a New Signifier By questioning the psychoanalysts’ interpretation of Lacan’s dissolution of the École as an “analytic act,” Althusser brought to the fore the displaced and mystified articulation between the clinical, conceptual, and institutional dimensions of the association of analysts and analysands—as well as the limits of psychoanalysis itself, which at that moment was also facing the purely political problem of dissolving a collective organization. He also shone a light on the ideological dynamic which allowed an open psychoanalytic problem—the question of how to think analysands and analysts together—to disappear under the faulty generalization of Lacan’s theory of the act, which was supposed to include all the political implications of the dissolution of the École. Through his intervention, Althusser was able—even if, until now, inconsequentially—to distinguish between the rather ordinary political problem facing analysts at that meeting and the incomplete character of their own analytic theory, and thus restituted the autonomy of psychoanalytic thinking through the affirmation of politics’ own autonomous perspective. This rather emblematic situation, which brings into play several of our initial intuitions, also helps us to propose an alternative interpretation to Slavoj Žižek’s own reading of Lacan’s underlying impasse. In his seminal work Parallax View,35 Žižek summarizes the challenge faced by Lacanians today in the following way: When Lacan introduces the term “desire of the analyst,” it is in order to undermine the notion that the climax of the analytic treatment is a momentous insight into the abyss of the Real, the “traversing of the fan-

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tasy,” from which, the morning after, we have to return to sober social reality, resuming our usual social roles—psychoanalysis is not an insight which can be shared only in the precious initiatic moments. Lacan’s aim is to establish the possibility of a collective of analysts, of discerning the contours of a possible social link between analysts. . . . Of course, the outcome of this struggle was a dismal failure in the entire history of psychoanalysis, from Freud to Lacan’s later work and his École—but the fight is worth pursuing. This is the properly Leninist moment of Lacan—recall how, in his late writings, he is endlessly struggling with the organizational questions of the School. The psychoanalytic collective is, of course, a collective of (and in) an emergency state.36

On the one hand, Žižek clearly sides with Althusser in recognizing Lacan’s “dismal failure” in accounting for the “organizational questions” that bind together the school and psychoanalytic theory. The theory of social links was supposed to help us derive a new structure for Lacanian organizations, but, as Althusser already noted, it ultimately led us to hide an open analytic challenge under the supposition that the Lacanian theory of discourses is a set of conditions meant to redefine the open problems of politics. However, on the other hand, Žižek seems to stop short of recognizing that grappling with this forgotten challenge will not require us to push further “the properly Leninist moment of Lacan”—an association Lacan himself was proud to maintain37—but rather to use Lenin and the Leninist standpoint to dissolve the ideological mirage which leads us psychoanalysts to believe that we are excused from certain commonplace collective impasses simply because of our supposed partisanship toward analytic subversion. Only this preliminary separation between politics and psychoanalysis can bring into view the fact that the psychoanalytic failure at the heart of the theory of social links does not concern the creation of a “collective of (and in) an emergency state”—a problem that remains open for political militants everywhere. Rather, it points to our current incapacity to think the non-transferential association of analysts and analysands, and the strange solidarity underlying the institutional dimension of psychoanalysis. While the development of such a thinking might be of further service to politics, no new development of psychoanalysis will emerge if it only poses questions for itself which it is in no condition to solve concretely. Žižek goes on, in Parallax View, to present his hypothesis on how we should approach the current historical limits of psychoanalysis: So what if, in the constellation in which the Unconscious itself, in its strict Freudian sense, is disappearing, the task of the analyst should no

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longer be to undermine the hold of the Master-Signifier, but, on the contrary, to construct/propose/install new Master-Signifiers? Is this not how we should (or, at least, can) read Lacan’s “vers un signifiant nouveau”?38

Žižek proposes that we read Lacan’s vague direction “towards a new signifier” with an emphasis on the word “new.” Surely picking up on one of the most glaring effects of Lacanian ideology today—the fact that we Lacanians take a critical stance toward any form of consistent organization, as if this safeguarded us against imposture—the Slovene philosopher affirms that the time has come for Lacanians to learn how to institute new emblems, simultaneously transforming their own collectives and the place of psychoanalysis in culture. Though this is surely a desirable effect, it is simply not true that Lacanian psychoanalysis has the theoretical resources to uphold this wager, at least not without maintaining some form of reliance on its current and silent politics, and therefore perpetuating its underlying ideological position. This is why we are invited to change the stress of Lacan’s expression— from the search for a new signifier to the search for a new signifier: a new theory of the signifier as the model of speech in analysis; that is, a theory which recognizes the social and material conditions for the enclosure of the space of free association—conditions which are put in place not only by the analyst’s desire, but also by a desire of psychoanalysis, sustained by analysts and analysands alike. As we have seen, the lack of such an extension of the theory of the signifier led Lacan to struggle throughout his teaching with the proper formulation of this strange form of indistinction that binds analysts and analysands together at the very point where psychoanalysis challenges transferential relations. A point of indistinction which, within the history of the Lacanian community, was only brought to the fore once, in a meeting, by a stranger, when it was already too late.

4

The Generic Perspective in Psychoanalysis

Freud’s famous text “On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love,”1 from 1922, is divided into two sections. The first one seeks to explain the problem of “psychical impotence,” specifically in men, through a reference to the subjective drama of articulating love and desire—or, as Freud puts it, “the failure of the affectionate and the sensuous currents of love to combine”2 —a conflict which he refers back to the structural interdiction on incest and its consequences for the choice of an object of love. The second section, however, begins by highlighting a methodological problem with Freud’s first approach: he realizes that the shift from the symptom of some men to the structure of all love relations seems to entail that we are justified “in expecting psychical impotence to be a universal affliction under civilization and not a disorder confined to some individuals.”3 After all, if the underlying problem concerns the very organization of familial ties and their implications for the psychic constitution of individuals in our society, why should impotence emerge as a particular dysfunction of certain people, rather than as a feature of all sexuality? As Freud recognizes, his theory “does too much.” But even if Freud admits that he cannot make the quantitative leap from the particular cases of impotence to everyone else—since empirical evidence contradicts this—he nonetheless completes the move from the particular to the universal by a qualitative transformation: It would be easy to escape from this conclusion by pointing to the quantitative factor in the causation of illness—to the greater or lesser extent of the contribution made by the various elements which determine whether a recognizable illness results or not. But although I accept this answer as correct, it is not my intention to make it a reason for rejecting the conclusion itself. On the contrary, I shall put forward the view that psychical impotence is much more widespread than is supposed, and that a certain amount of this behaviour does in fact characterize the love of civilized man.4

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That is, Freud chooses to take this particular dysfunction—psychic impotence—as a key to reading the universe of all possible positions in the sphere of the “love of civilized man,” a standpoint which allows him to recognize an underlying commonality between the “failure to perform the act of coitus” and “men who never fail in the act but who carry it out without getting any particular pleasure from it.” Both of these situations present phenomena that Freud can now place side by side with “the immense number of frigid women”5 if these phenomena are seen as particular solutions to a common structural impasse. For him, “the behaviour in love of men in the civilized world today bears the stamp altogether of psychical impotence.”6 This is a “stamp” whose universality is not arrived at by direct induction from the particular cases—which are themselves quite distinct in their presentation—but from a necessary transformation in the set of traits considered to be universal or invariable in love relations. What is crucial is that, when one generalizes the necessity of a certain property, one sole counter-example already suffices to question its legitimacy: if it is possible that the desire for an object and our satisfaction in it diverge in such a way as shown by the case of male psychical impotence, then we cannot maintain, when listening to other libidinal strategies in love relations, the presupposition that desire and satisfaction are always structurally harmonious. This change in the backdrop of what is considered invariant in the space of love relations is a change in the very idea of love—a change in what we conceive love must invariably be—which, in turn, transforms and expands the space of the possible individual responses to it. What interests us in this text is the movement of Freud’s thinking. He has gone from the analysis of a particular dysfunction, to a theory capable of accounting for this seeming abnormality without any moral or transcendental presuppositions. Then, through the recognition of the claim to universality of this theoretical construction, he derives a conclusion which maintains that despite the diversity of particulars, he has learned how to listen to other particular presentations of our love lives, shedding his prejudices as to what strategies in the world of love are pathological and which are not. What is crucial for us in this movement, which goes from clinical practice toward the metapsychological framework, and then back to the clinical space, is that Freud makes a crucial stop along the way, right between the two sections of the text, when he acknowledges the need to decide upon the extension of his claim. Is the scope of his theory of psychic impotence defined by the adoption of a criterion for distinguishing between what is normal and what is not—that is, a certain “quantitative factor in the causation of illness . . . which determines whether a recognizable illness results or not”—or by its capacity to operate a qualitative

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shift in our idea of love in the West, teaching us about underlying challenges that any love relation must meet? The capacity for psychoanalysis to “propose new Master Signifiers,”7 as Žižek defends it in Parallax View, thus depends on its capacity to uphold this complete cycle of invention, which binds the clinic not only to metapsychology, but also to the institution of new ideas in the sphere of love. Taking up one of the main themes connecting our two previous chapters—the point of indistinction which silently binds analysts and analysands—we shall now investigate what could be called a debasement of the universal in psychoanalysis: the deflation of this intermediate moment, neither properly clinical nor purely metapsychological, in which psychoanalysis forces changes to the very concept of love, allowing singular cases to participate in the transformation of the backdrop which informs how clinical listening will be carried forward from then on. What is crucial for us is to realize that these transformations might very well operate through recourse to structural impossibilities—the impossible harmony between desire and drive, in the case of psychical impotence—but they also produce a historical modification in the space of clinical possibilities. Considered only in its structural aspect, Freud’s investigation could simply seem like a negation of positive universals—a movement that unproblematically binds clinical practice and metapsychological theory—and therefore appears as a rather static process, concerning solely the analyst and her subversive position, and constantly reaffirming the underlying impasses of subjectivity. But what this picture is missing is the essential dynamism through which the contradiction of previously held universal claims enriches our understanding of how to listen to new patients: a transformation of what is considered invariant in the space of the possible, and therefore an affirmation of negative universals—since the deepening of the structural impasse of sexuation correlates with an expansion of the space of individual subjective solutions we are capable of listening to. The point, then, is not to dissolve, through some unconditioned historicism, the structural invariants that organize the clinical and metapsychological state of psychoanalysis. Instead, we want to supplement this structural view with a historical account of its sedimentation, a more dynamic view of the analytic process that not only includes the mediation through the universality of our metapsychological constructions, but also allows us to localize the role of analysands as a crucial part of analytic thinking, given that the process begins and ends with them. Our brief discussion of Althusser’s intervention at the time of the dissolution of Lacan’s École Freudienne de Paris has already hinted at the connection between the ideological dimension of Lacan’s critical distance toward universal claims and the prevailing silence concerning the

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need to further theorize—in a manner immanent to psychoanalysis—the interplay between the clinical enclosure and the consistency of the psychoanalytic community. Continuing this investigation, we will see how this “debasement” is profoundly related to a number of open challenges: from counting analysts and analysands together within psychoanalysis, to the difficulty of considering the institutional dimension of the analytic procedure, and finally, to the difficulty of producing new ideas in psychoanalytic thinking.

1. The Antinomy The hypothesis of the unconscious can be seen as a prism which refracts two equally deformed conceptions of psychoanalysis, depending on how we engage with it. The first deformed conception arises if we admit this hypothesis in its singular or concrete form, as a premise informing how to listen to another person then and there.8 Reduced to its localized form, psychoanalysis appears as an essentially clinical procedure, localized by the analytic setting and composed of sequences of cases. The unconscious emerges here as a technical—rather than a theoretical—paradox, which orients our practices and our desire as analysts: because there is something like the unconscious, one is authorized to listen to and interpret the repetitions and slips of tongue which emerge in the patient’s speech, but for this very same reason, one cannot know beforehand what is being intervened upon. This “technical” paradox—since the unconscious constitutes the clinical space, but at the same time suspends our knowledge as clinicians—defines the two main functions of psychoanalytic theory from the standpoint of the clinical procedure. On the one hand, analytic theory becomes responsible for drawing a line of demarcation between psychoanalysis and medicine: it must demonstrate that the lack of an encyclopedic resource from which the practitioner could draw the meaning of the patient’s symptoms does in fact distinguish psychoanalysis from psychiatry, psychology, and other medical treatments—without leading to the conclusion that psychoanalysis therefore lacks any rigor. On the other hand, analytic theory is also called upon to intervene in the clinician’s identity as an analyst—that is, it has the collateral function of alleviating the anguish of the analyst. If the clinical reduction of the hypothesis of the unconscious suspends the a priori signification of the patient’s speech, then there is no secure way to anticipate or evaluate the consequences of one’s clinical intervention: the moment we act as psychoanalysts is also

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the moment when we lose any clear grip on our identities as analysts. And since one cannot look for a stable reference within the clinical setting to guarantee if we are doing our jobs right—all the clinic offers as criteria of verification are the consequences of the act, which one cannot fully control or anticipate—and since the community of analysts is based upon the premise that there is no “identity” for psychoanalysts apart from a desire to analyze, it therefore falls upon psychoanalytic theory to conciliate the technical impasse of the clinic with the cohesion of a collective organization, an impasse that absorbs some of the anguish of not knowing whether we are truly acting as analysts through a theoretical praise of the limits of knowledge and the singularity of the discourse of the analyst. It is clear at this point that the different roles assumed by analytic theory within the “clinical refraction” of the hypothesis of the unconscious end up functioning as constraints on theoretical innovation. Conceptual novelty is only welcomed or recognized when it further reinforces the distinction between psychoanalysis and other clinical apparatuses, or when it offers indirect resources for psychoanalysts to bear the identificatory deficit in our daily practices. Any interlocution with the natural sciences is therefore met with deep suspicion, since this is seen as adopting the stance of our clinical adversaries, just as any critical engagement with the basic tenets and conditions of psychoanalysis incites aggressive sectarianism; as if criticizing Freud or Lacan—even if to further their own investigations—meant shaking the core of our very identities as psychoanalysts. We summarize this “reduction” of the unconscious in figure 4.1. But the hypothesis of the unconscious can also open up a different

Figure 4.1

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understanding of psychoanalysis if we reduce that hypothesis to its universal or abstract aspect. If, instead of grasping it as a hypothesis that situates a precise clinical position, we privilege what this premise entails for situations in general, then psychoanalysis emerges as an essentially critical procedure; a new metapsychological perspective on desire and subjectivity which potentially affects every field of human thinking and practice.9 This is not to say that, from this critical standpoint, the psychoanalytic clinic does not exist. It remains a perfectly legitimate practice, but its specificity and the very need to uphold it against other clinical procedures is irrelevant, given the fact that we simply cannot guarantee beforehand where the logic of the unconscious will make itself legible and where it will not. And since we do not know which natural and cultural formations will be transformed by our adoption of an analytic perspective, the practical existence of psychoanalysis cannot take the form of cases; it exists rather as a constellation of examples: clinical, ideological, artistic, or ontological settings which attest to the existence and effects of the logic of the unconscious. From this ensues a properly theoretical paradox: because the unconscious has no proper location, one is authorized to look for its effects in every situation, but if this is the case, one must include among these situations our own intellectual efforts and theorizations. This theoretical impasse in turn informs the role assumed by psychoanalytic technique in the critical reduction of the unconscious. On the one hand, the technical aspect of analysis is evoked as the main distinctive trait of psychoanalysis against the only other critical procedure of equally universal reach, namely, philosophy. This demarcation is sometimes made with reference to the “therapeutic” dimension of psychoanalysis—which would be absent in philosophy—but it fundamentally means transposing the technical constraints of clinical practice into the general critical method itself, which not only endows analytic theory with its own distinguishable argumentative style, but also allows psychoanalysis to interpret philosophy itself as an essentially phantasmatic project in need of analytic treatment. If the “clinical” reduction of the unconscious drives psychoanalysis to demarcate its frontiers against medicine and psychiatry, the “critical” approach inserts it into the tense dialectics between philosophy and anti-philosophy. On the other hand, the analytic technique also furnishes critical theory with concepts and strategies to be laterally displaced in accordance with the different domains in which the logic of the unconscious might make itself legible: the analytic act, for example, might be generalized in such a way that it is able to modulate itself and resonate with the immanent impasses of artistic and political practices. These lateral

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Figure 4.2

displacements reinvigorate debates in the philosophies of art, politics, and science, producing new lines of investigation and proposing psychoanalysis as a “silent partner” of every subversive critical endeavor—as summarized in figure 4.2. However, the way this critical project immerses clinical practice into a series of other situations, which are all equally capable of exemplifying the effects of the unconscious, also produces constraints on what sorts of innovation can be accepted within psychoanalytic thinking. For example, assessments of clinical import are only admitted as relevant if they serve as an index for distinguishing the critical powers of psychoanalysis from those of philosophy, or if they can immediately be generalized and applied in other domains. The lack of any central reference to concrete clinical practice leads, ultimately, to an idealization of analytic experience, which in turn discourages both the production of new ideas with possible clinical import—since no further developments seem to be needed in analytic practice—and the examination of the problems and historical limits of contemporary psychoanalysis.

2. The Parallax We can thus see that depending on how we take the hypothesis of the unconscious—privileging its singular or its universal aspect—two equally consistent, but mutually exclusive conceptions of psychoanalysis emerge.

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It is worth noting that these two perspectives do not map onto a division between theory and practice, since psychoanalysis taken as an essentially clinical procedure situates the function of theory quite clearly. While in its critical reduction, the practical dimension of analysis also plays a fundamental role. It is precisely because both of these approaches map the totality of psychoanalysis that they appear as utterly incompossible. We can, nonetheless, track the mutually exclusive quality of these two perspectives to the point from which they have been refracted: the antinomic character of the hypothesis of the unconscious itself. “Antinomic,” because the unconscious suspends our knowledge of the subject at the same time that it authorizes our knowledge of the subject—requiring us to maintain these two antithetical propositions at the same time. But why is it that we cannot affirm, simultaneously, the singular and the universal aspects of this hypothesis? This is where the true problem lies. Drawing from Kant’s theory of transcendental reduction, Kojin Karatani coined the concept of parallax10 to describe the formal shift operated by “bracketing” different aspects of an irreducible antinomy. As depicted in figure 4.3, if we bracket one aspect of the antinomy, its inconsistency disappears and gives rise to a consistent domain, organized and defined by a certain object, while if we bracket the other aspect, another consistent domain emerges with a different object endowing it with its own specificity. What is crucial is noting that the intelligibility of an object and its domain is constituted by the abstraction from other considerations; even though these other aspects of it do not simply disappear from view, their inclusion is rather overdetermined by the constitution of the theoretical object. In the introduction to this book, we mentioned how Karatani uses this concept to explain the relation between aesthetical, scientific, and moral judgments in Kant’s philosophy. However, Karatani’s

Figure 4.3

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original interest was deploying the concept of parallax in order to clarify Marx’s theory of value, offering a new and pathbreaking analysis of the genesis of surplus value. Interpreting Marx’s famous statement that surplus value both is and is not created in the sphere of circulation as a Kantian antinomy, Karatani suggests that the spheres of production and circulation in capitalism are bound together in a parallaxian way: they both cover the totality of commodity production, but precisely because of this, we can never directly recognize their actual articulation. For him, commodity fetishism is not a subjective mystification of reality: it is rather the objective need for us to “bracket” the concrete features of persons and things in order to actually see what is happening in a given social situation—a transcendental reduction required by the commodity form of value to appear as what it is.11 And the contrary is also true: the standpoint of production is not merely the return to an “unbracketed” state, but rather another transcendental reduction, one which suspends the inscription of all commodities used in the production process in circulation in order to constitute them in their concrete use—a perspective that is necessary for the exploitation of the labor force. It is crucial to note that Karatani’s theory of the parallax shift does not suggest that, due to their partial and deformed status, these different standpoints are therefore irrational or invalid. Instead of rejecting these perspectives in the name of some epistemological relativism, the philosopher proposes an inventive solution, which he calls the adoption of a “transcritical” position: he suggests that the incompatibility between these different perspectives should rather be taken as a sign of the real contradiction—or antinomy—of the thing itself, which is captured not despite, but through, the deformations it imprints on the different partial views we can take on it. From a transcritical standpoint, the task is not to devalue the practical and theoretical space opened by these different bracketings—for they do effectively capture parts of the thing which they nonetheless abstract—but is rather to avoid the sedimentation of any particular reduction: first, by providing a critique of the deformations produced by every particular bracketing, and second, by making explicit the general logic of this process; of how one might move “in between” the fields constituted by these incompatible objects, and thereby laterally conceive the multidimensional antinomy in its being. If we return now to psychoanalysis, and to what we have called the “antinomic” character of the hypothesis of the unconscious, the two conceptions of psychoanalytic thinking previously presented here emerge precisely through such a parallax shift (see figure 4.4). Psychoanalysis constitutes itself as an essentially clinical procedure—which has the singularity of enjoyment as its object—only if we “bracket” the conceptual

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Figure 4.4

struggle to include the consideration of the unconscious in different theoretical domains as something that is ultimately irrelevant for “pure” psychoanalysis. The unconscious emerges as an essentially critical procedure, which has the universal inconsistency of the drives as its object, only if we “bracket” the specific conditions of clinical treatment, presenting these constraints as tactically irrelevant in the cultural war against psychologism and ideology in general.

3. Transcritique With the conceptual tools we have developed thus far, we have reached the point where a different view of psychoanalysis is gradually emerging. While there is no way to unproblematically unify the concept of the unconscious as it appears in its clinical reduction with its concept in the critical “bracketing” of psychoanalysis, we must nonetheless affirm that if we uncouple these two contradictory conceptions, we risk losing psychoanalysis altogether. What is at stake here is the need to rationally uphold that, even though the engagement with the idea of psychoanalysis is rightfully irrelevant from the standpoint of clinical work, the very efficacy of analytic interventions is conditioned by the effort to inscribe psychoanalysis into our cultural world. Just as, inversely, the broader theoretical consequences of psychoanalysis for philosophy and culture will not have been properly extracted from the analytic framework unless certain material

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conditions of the clinic are taken into account—even though it is also true that the clinic is not ontologically or culturally special in any sense. What precisely does psychoanalysis look like when considered “transcritically”? The first thing we can say is that this alternative approach cannot imply an external “overview” of psychoanalysis, since this structural closure is precisely what the Lacanian ideology accomplishes. With this impossibility in mind, the only possible third position, capable of supplementing the clinical and the critical ones, is one that proposes yet another “transcendental reduction,” one capable of turning the very conceptless tension between these two other perspectives into a consistent object: the position which therefore inhabits the historical limits of psychoanalysis. As Karatani suggests, the point is not to move above but to move in-between, sideways. To inhabit the tension between the clinical and the critical perspectives of psychoanalysis entails recognizing that we are dealing with two contradictory placing systems at the same time. From the clinical standpoint, the unconscious is, first of all, what takes place between a professional and her patient. From the critical standpoint, it takes place at the very existential level of our sexed beings. Evidently, the clinic deals extensively with the troubles of sexuation, but transference only puts into play the real of the patient’s sexual impasses, not the psychoanalyst’s. The moment the analyst’s own tribulations as a sexed being emerge in the analytic scene, he is no longer acting as a psychoanalyst—which is why the analysis of clinicians is just like any other analytic process, and clinical supervision is not really considered properly analytical work. We would be wrong to state that psychoanalysis as a broader critical procedure does not take the difference between analysts and analysands into account. But this distinction is brought up as a strategic marker: we only ask, “where is the analyst?” after the critical analysis of a situation has brought its unconscious impasses into view. It is only then that the question of analytic intervention becomes meaningful. These incommensurate perspectives are even more contrasted if we keep track of one sole concept while moving between them. For example, the only idea of love operative in the clinic is that of transferential love, that is, love as it takes place within the analytic setting, while “amorous” love appears only as a signified, as the referent of something which has been reported to take place (or most often, not to have taken place) outside the clinical space. On the other hand, from the critical standpoint, psychoanalysis only recognizes the conceptual dignity of what we could call existential love: love as an intense and meaningful experience that takes place between any two sexed beings. Here, transference appears as another mirage of idealization and identification which critical work

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Figure 4.5

seeks to pierce through, especially in the clinic itself. Finally, this “parallax shift” between two concepts of love allows us to recognize an important fact, namely, that all clinical thinking about love is done by analysts—by those responsible for handling transferential love—while all critical thinking about love is accomplished by analysands—since it is an essential condition for the critical thinker to also count herself among those haunted by the problems of being sexed. Of course, we might very well be speaking of one and the same person; the point is rather to determine how all of us are potentially localized within psychoanalysis, depending on the particular “bracketing” of the unconscious which authorizes us to think of love (see figure 4.5). The reason why this parallax shift between incommensurate concepts of love is of crucial importance to our current investigation is that it points to an immanent deficit of contemporary psychoanalysis, which eludes both its clinical and critical reductions: neither within the clinical nor the critical perspectives does the question of how to count analysands and analysts together ever acquire a conceptual form. In the clinical view, which thinks the unconscious in its singular form, transferential love comes to supplement the non-relation between analysts and analysands, and the only point when it becomes possible to consider a clinician and her patient as part of the same process—outside of the transferential relation—is when the analysand becomes an analyst, as proposed by Lacan’s theory of the passe. Even if it is possible to find a non-transferential way to count analysands and analysts together; that is,

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a way less affected by the asymmetry of analysts who handle transference and analysands who are in transference with their analysts, this would still be conditioned by a previous homogenization of the two, that is, by the passage of the analysand to the position of analyst. And this is particularly clear in the psychoanalytic schools: even though most of the people who attend the meetings, seminars, and projects of psychoanalytic schools are still undergoing their own analysis, it is only as training analysts that they have a place there. On the other hand, the critical standpoint also presupposes a process of homogenization before analysts and analysands can be counted as one.12 Just as in the clinical perspective, here too, it is the end of analysis which is seen as the turning point which undoes the distinction between analysts and analysands, though the accent is now placed on the analysand’s side. The “traversal of fantasy” is usually presented as the frontier beyond which the illusion of the subject supposed to know the relation between the sexes is undone, and with it, the very “substance” of the place of the analyst. From the standpoint of sexual difference, no one is fully counted—for analysis has revealed just that: there is no “one” of the sexed beings—but no one is left out either. This “socialization of discontent” in the critical reception of psychoanalysis is also an important result for the psychoanalytic-inspired project of recuperating a political universalism today, for it serves as a general model of how to think a new sort of community, one that is not based on a positive identity or commitment, but rather on a common problem or negativity. Either we are all analysts, beyond transferential love, dwelling in the psychoanalytic schools, or we are all analysands, within existential love, wandering in the community of sexed beings. But neither of these options counts analysts and analysands together, and neither of them renders the very idea of love dynamic, linking the singularity of the clinic to the universality of critique while making it porous to further historical transformations.

4. The Borromean Knotting We are, at first, confronted with the possibility that the pairing of analysts and analysands is in fact as abstruse as trying to consider, in Karatani’s example of Kant’s transcendental reduction, scientific and aesthetic judgments under the same theoretical domain. Would we not be going against the philosopher’s own transcritical approach by trying to force these positions together?

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Two remarks are in order here. The first concerns Karatani’s own critical model. The Japanese philosopher first developed his concept of parallax in the book Transcritique,13 in the context of a Marxist analysis of political economy. However, in his later work The Structure of World History,14 Karatani turned this essentially dyadic presentation into a more complex model, which he describes as a Borromean knotting of three inconsistent domains.15 What is crucial for us here is that Karatani did not abandon his previous proposal, but rather developed it even further, embedding the logic of the parallax in a greater Borromean logic. The term “Borromean” is used because this model presents the same properties that also define Slavoj Žižek’s theory of the articulation between psychoanalysis, politics, and philosophy, which we previously discussed. First, this model does not allow us to prescribe a mediating role to any specific component, since all of them serve as mediators for the other two; second, it does not allow for stable or complementary relations between any two given domains; and third, in it, the consistency of the whole arrangement is dependent upon the inconsistent relations of any components taken two by two. In short, as both Žižek and Karatani demonstrate, the Borromean operator is a further development of the theory of the parallax (see figure 4.6). The second remark concerns the way we have developed the psychoanalytic parallax until now. It was previously proposed that there is a psychoanalytic view defined by the pairing of psychoanalysts and their patients—the clinical procedure—and another view defined by the existential mismatch of sexed beings, which we called the critical perspective of analysis. Since it was then argued that transferential love can only be thought by analysts, while existential love concerns only analysands, one might conclude that the question of how to think analysts and analysands together is overdetermined by the clinical procedure, which is where this pair evidently appears, even if asymmetrically. However, in order to truly understand the stakes of our current task, it is important to first realize that the clinical procedure does not begin with the pairing of analysts and analysands. It is true: the clinical space is populated, in its initial moment, by someone suffering and by a professional who deals with mental health in some way, by someone who demands her suffering to cease and someone who preliminarily accepts this demand. After all, transference is not where the clinic really begins, even though that is where it takes place. Even if transferential love is an essential part of the treatment, it is possible (and very common) that the patient who arrives does not establish any form of transference with the analyst right away and that the suffering which made her seek professional help is not so quickly turned into a

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Figure 4.6

subjectivizable question. Still, this realization does not change any of the properties we have established for the clinical perspective of psychoanalysis, with its singular treatment of unconscious formations, its technical paradoxes, and the roles it assigns to theory. This clarification is important so that we can abide by the first property of the Borromean knotting proposed above, namely, that we do not privilege any of its components as the one which overdetermines the model as a whole. In order for us to think psychoanalysis in a properly transcritical sense, a third domain is needed, a point of view which nonetheless adheres to certain precise conditions: first, it must allow us to present analysts and analysands side by side, in a relation that is neither transferential nor an existential partnership. Second, this presentation needs to be immanent to the psychoanalytic space; it cannot be an abstract or transcendental perspective, since the Borromean model which expands

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Karatani’s theory of the parallax maintains that every domain functions as the mediator of the other two. Finally, it must unfold out of the bracketing of certain aspects of the antinomic quality of the unconscious, giving rise to a new and consistent way of approaching it. Let us now propose a solution that, it seems, meets all these requirements. Let us approach psychoanalysis neither from the clinical nor the critical reductions, but rather as a generic procedure.

5. The Generic The term “generic procedure” should be taken in the very precise sense given to it by Alain Badiou, in his famous book Being and Event.16 Simplifying this idea to the utmost, in Badiou’s ontology a process will be said to be generic if it establishes a very unique relation between its “strategic” and “tactical” dimensions such that, for every determinate view of the general strategy of this process, defining at a given moment what next tactical steps would be in conformity to it, there is an actual tactical step taken, at a next moment, whose determination contradicts this general rule. Just as importantly, this new supplementary tactical investigation must lead to the transformation of the universal rule, which must become a new strategic vision, to be once more put to the tactical test of also including what still does not belong to it, and so on to infinity. As a rather simplified example, imagine a situation composed of an infinite number of people: we might begin by choosing someone who is a white heterosexual man—there are thus several predicates which determine the subset we construct by selecting him—and this choice now informs our rule of who else to choose, by telling us who not to choose: more white heterosexual men. So instead of choosing another white male, we might choose a woman, or a black man. Again, this new subset will still fall under certain discernible predicates: if we opted to select a woman, for example, perhaps this subset still shares the common property that they are both white, or that both speak the same language. Our general rule is once more informed by this choice, and is thereby transformed, so that we are now inclined to include a third person who contradicts at least one of the predicates which discerned the commonalities of our previous selected subset, and so on, indefinitely. Such a ruled procedure can be understood as “generic” in two interrelated senses. Considered diachronically, it is a generative process, since new versions of the general rule are repeatedly produced through their very application, which lead us to look for particular cases that

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contradict the applied rule’s universal predicates, thus giving rise to always new general formulations. Considered synchronically, the procedure is also generic in the sense of being indifferent and common, given that, locally, it is composed of as many partial predicates as possible, thus constructing a “sample” of the available determinants. For this very reason, at the global level, it remains irreducible to any one of them, and is therefore impossible to be singled out by the existing determinations.17 What we would like to suggest is that there exists a third psychoanalytic domain which gains consistency as a theoretical object only once we “reduce” the antinomic being of the unconscious to the tense equivalence between analysts and analysands. This reduction, in turn, entails situating the paradox of the unconscious not at the technical, or at the theoretical level, but rather at the institutional dimension of psychoanalysis: people seek analysis because they believe the unconscious exists, but the proofs of this existence are the result of what happens in analysis. When approached from the institutional perspective, the hypothesis of the unconscious appears as just that: as an idea that informs what is possible to be heard as significant in speech. Neither as an exclusive property of the concrete situation of the clinic, nor as a property of situations in general, the unconscious emerges as the question of the connection between situations. It is not so much a matter of how each individual subject is constituted as an “answer from the real of a non-relation,” as in a clinical case, nor is it a question of what other presuppositions must be critically abandoned once we admit the existence of something like a “non-relation.” The question becomes, here, the means for the very institution of this non-relation—the historical establishment and transformation of the determinations of the idea of the unconscious. Which is why the historical form of the idea of the unconscious is not given in a sequence of cases or examples, but rather in the form of declarations: what has been declared to be possible in the name of an idea of the unconscious (see figure 4.7). It is not hard to see that this perspective delineates a complex institutional tapestry, composed of psychoanalytic schools, with their different forms of organization, their scissions and dissolutions, alliances and commitments, but also of university departments, book publications, journals, seminars, collective supervision groups, and so on. In short, the perspective opened up by the unconscious taken as an idea is not one which absolutely transcends the clinical and the critical positions; it posits only a relative transcendence. The other two perspectives are not capable of considering the idea of the unconscious as a consistent theoretical object without doing away with their own essential “bracketings.” Whereas the institutional perspective—indifferently bracketing both the absolute

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Figure 4.7

singularity of caseworks and the universal necessity of the structural impasse of sexuation—is capable of taking the tension between particulars and universals to be its very object. This is the perspective that is capable of properly posing the question of the regionality of psychoanalysis’s claims and models, and which concerns itself with strategies to rigorously generalize and transpose its results and ideas across disciplines. This is the dimension of psychoanalysis which has a name for its autonomy as a thinking. But what is “generic” about this view of the unconscious as an idea, composed of declarations responsible for instituting a divide between what is variable and what is invariant in the space of our unconscious libidinal attachments? And furthermore, why would the institutional standpoint be able to address that first theoretical deficit we have indicated, the lack of a concept which pairs analysts and analysands together? The answers to these two questions are in fact deeply related. As a starting point, consider the following problem: who investigates the productive and unproductive consequences of these declarations? It is quite telling that a very common question: “what is the orientation of your psychoanalyst?” says just as much about the analyst as it does about the person who consults with her. Somehow, we know that we are implicated in our analyst’s theoretical orientation, in a way that we would not be when seeing a psychiatrist formed in a particular school of medicine. This is because, in psychoanalysis, as Freud, Lacan, and others remind us, the analysand is also at work—it is she, in fact, who must follow the “golden rule” of psychoanalysis, which is to speak freely. However, what

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is not clear—at least from the clinical and critical perspectives—is that the analysand is not only partaking in the labor of working through her own subjective troubles, but, in doing so, she is also offering her life as the “testing ground” for the instituted declaration that the unconscious exists. In other words, it is not only her singular desire that is at stake in the clinic, it is also the singular desire of both the analysand and the analyst to participate in the idea of the unconscious. This is what we have called the desire of psychoanalysis. This shared engagement is invisible from within the clinical procedure, and rightly so. Any attempt to act in the knowledge that there is a common fidelity to the idea of the unconscious framing the clinical setting would risk a collapse into counter-transference and disrupt the treatment. Just as it would lead us to “over-historicize” the rightful ontological grounding of psychoanalytic critique, dismissing the truly structural reach of certain psychoanalytic insights. However, when seen from the standpoint of the institution of psychoanalysis, which renders this strange love for the idea of psychoanalysis consistent and thinkable, it becomes possible to grasp the generic dimension which binds the analysts who are informed by the idea of the unconscious as it already exists and the analysands who inform what this idea can become. When considered diachronically, the institutional existence of psychoanalysis is essentially generative: metapsychological theory is put to the test in analytical practice, in investigations conducted by both analysts and analysands, which in turn produce challenges and obstacles for the current state of the theory, producing counter-examples which transform what was considered invariant in the structure of love relations, thereby leading to its perpetual historical reformulation. Equally, when seen synchronically, this process reveals an indifferent and common quality: to partake in these investigations which happen every time two people organize a space for speech under free association is to put all the varied and conflicting local determinations of each patient’s life at the service of a common and global affirmation that something without any knowable determination exists. Finally, the “generic” perspective of psychoanalysis does not only transcend the parallaxian space of the other two approaches, turning some of their inherent limits into consistent objects of thought; it is also mediated by each one of them, since the parallax between the institution and the clinic is only made legible from a critical standpoint, just as the parallax between the critical perspective and the institutional one is only thinkable from the point of view of the clinic (see figure 4.8). What we are presenting here is admittedly a rather experimental view of psychoanalysis, one which not only supplements the clinical and the critical perspectives, but also has an important claim to make concerning

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Figure 4.8

what we call the “cure.” This is because, taken only in their parallaxian exclusion, these two views are incapable of upholding a psychoanalytic concept of health—since the first must suspend any normative theory of what it means to be cured, considering it only on a case-by-case basis, and the latter must affirm from the very beginning an ontological exposure to what is beyond the normative confines of the world. It is only the institutional perspective which can present these two commitments side-byside and recognize that the right to participate in the generic creation of the idea of the unconscious is part of the effectivity of psychoanalysis. This polemical suggestion that the analysand’s participation in the transformation of the idea of love should be considered an integral part of the psychoanalytic procedure will not only lead us to a new understanding of the passe—to be taken up in subsequent chapters—it also sheds light on

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the strange vision of psychopathology which Alain Badiou puts forward in his (equally polemical) rewrite of Plato’s Republic, when Socrates says: And anyone whose symbolic organization is being poisoned by a primal conflict that’s getting in the way of his becoming-Subject is of course right to lie down on an analyst’s couch. But very often, if you take a closer look at it, it’s really a matter of our laziness, of a sort of gluttony concealing our lack of appetite for any truth, a depressive melancholy occasioned by our political cowardice, the neurotic helplessness into which we’re plunged by our revolting acceptance of the world as it is. It’s all this that obliges the ingenious descendants of Charcot, Freud and Lacan to use the science of complicated names to classify our miasmic moods, the vapours of our sleepless nights: manic-depressive, psychosis, anxiety neurosis, paranoia, hysteria, phobia, obsessional neurosis, abandonment syndrome, clinical depression, psychaesthenia, and so on. Isn’t that a scientific panorama of modern shame?18

Perhaps this could help us understand why it is that Freud’s sometimes messy and suggestive interpretations could be so effective and transformative, while our own “clinic of the real,” so eager to suspend all possible normative commitments—even of thinking itself—leaves us with only nebulous and cynical effects. Perhaps Freud was able to produce subjective transformations where we often fail because interpretation did not only produce something new for the analysand, but because, in doing so, the analysand was also participating in producing something that was new to the world.

5

The Political Economy of Clinical Practice

The battle between psychoanalysis and its customary critics—those who are, above all, suspicious of the power relations established by transference in analysis—does not seem to really bother many psychoanalysts. This is because, while the confrontation takes place at the level of power relations within an analysis, there will always be a certain underlying solidarity between ourselves and our critics: we both agree that all social ties imply relations of power, transference included. What gives analysts some reassurance in facing this accusation is that while our critics insist on the obvious, they do not yet realize that we analysts are very much invested in the dissolution of the transferential bond, this social link that ties analysands not to the power of the analyst, but to the power of their own phantasms. Allowing us to intervene in these phantasmatic power-relations is, after all, the very purpose of the fundamental rule of psychoanalytic practice: the rule of free association. This rule in fact produces something of a paradox. At first, it mandates the suspension of any determination over what should and should not be said in analysis. However, once we suspend these extrinsic constraints on the analysand’s speech, what is left is not a freed discourse, fully submitted to the analysand’s intents, but a speech filled with repetitions, inevitable obstacles, and out-of-place affectations. In sum, what appears once we free speech from external rules is a rule that remains foreign to the speaker’s intentions, a speech freed from the speaker, but whose constraints are now intrinsic to that speech. Hence the paradox: the rule of free association (1) is a rule imposed by the analyst (2) which suspends extrinsically imposed rules (3) to reveal other rules, “intrinsically imposed.” Of course, this in no way prevents the analysand from saying what he thinks the analyst wants to hear, but within the enclosed space established by free association, even the attempt to please the analyst becomes interpretable—it can be referred back to the fact that the analysand could be acting otherwise and that, therefore, he is somehow implicated in the maintenance of the imposed constraints over what is to be said there. In other words, psychoanalysis interprets transferential relations from the standpoint of an underlying “non-relation,” 96

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from the perspective of this space of variable speech, with no external constraints, which is promoted by the rule of free association. The reason why a certain complicity between psychoanalysts and our critics seems to reassure us, then, is that, while we entertain ourselves with this debate, a much thornier problem passes by in silence: the one which concerns not so much the transferential relation, but the social relation which conditions the analytic work and the frame of free association, namely, the payment for the session. Underneath the “non-relation” produced with the rule of free association, there lies a social relation which produces it.

1. Unfree Association Here the tacit agreement between psychoanalysts and their critics disappears and gives rise to different defensive strategies. The first line of defense, which is also the most common, is the one which seeks to remedy the situation by arguing that the payment is reducible to its part in the transferential relation.1 Thus, the financial constraints of an analysis would not only be perfectly compatible with the suspension of all external constraints on speech, but would themselves be like any other consistent symbolic relation formed between analyst and analysand; something which, being subjected to contingency, can be interpreted as anything else. This is not to say that there are no situations in which money functions as just another signifier in analysis, but what makes this a defensive approach is that it implies that monetary constraints are more akin to the symbolic constraints we regularly listen for in the clinic than to “natural” constraints which are equally present as the insignificant backdrop of an analytic session—and which horrify us for their utter indifference to subjectivity, their utter necessity. The need for us to claim that psychoanalysis already has the tools to account for the effects of its own economic conditions ultimately leads us analysts to treat political economy—our “second nature” in capitalist societies—as a mere set of normative customs directly supported by our own beliefs and desires, rather than as the indifferent and abstract social logic that it is. But this tacit theoretical commitment to a subjectivist economic theory can also be made explicit when, rather than just practically interpreting the act of payment as a signifying formation, we instead present a psychoanalytic interpretation of capitalist economy as a whole. Those more inclined toward a Freudian framework base themselves on the analogy between money and the “phallus”;2 that is, between the general

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equivalent of commodities and the general equivalent of signification. Those of a more Lacanian inclination tend to prefer the analogy between surplus value and surplus enjoyment,3 between what the worker loses in the process of production and what the speaker loses by speaking. Either by dissolving the question of money into our daily clinical practice, or by absorbing it into our metapsychological theory, the general strategy is to substitute the political economy of psychoanalysis for the “psychoanalysis of political economy,” treating as part of the analytic space that which, following its own set of determinate constraints, is in fact one of its material conditions. Taking up the distinction proposed in our previous chapter, we must recognize that the question of the monetary relation between analyst and analysand cannot be consistently posed either as a “clinical” or as a “critical” problem, since both perspectives—although legitimate dimensions of psychoanalytic thinking—are incapable of counting analysts and analysands as one, and hence end up reducing the problem either to a question of the analyst’s handling of the transference or of psychoanalysis’s own contribution to critical theory. This common deficiency is no small matter: even though both clinicians and psychoanalytic-inspired critical theorists can very well do without this problem, from a generic perspective, which is committed to the historicity of the hypothesis of the unconscious, the constraints on who has access to psychoanalysis—not only to a couple of analytic sessions, but, more importantly, to a complete analytic process and therefore to the possibility of becoming an analyst— are also constraints on the generative and the “impredicative” aspects of psychoanalytic thinking. If psychoanalysis can only treat people of a certain social class, or of a certain culture, then we are abdicating from the examination of cases, passes, and clinical examples which might come to contradict aspects of our clinical listening which we currently consider as invariant parts of the backdrop of free association—contradictions which could thereby enrich and transform the limits of clinical listening. The generic perspective—in psychoanalysis, as much as in politics—is always the one which asks who is allowed to participate in the infinite process of reinventing what it means to be human.4 Still, we cannot even begin to discuss the specificity of the monetary relation supporting the clinical space if we do not have the theoretical means to address the social constraints of the analytic setting. And, as we have seen, the only aspects of the social world which are today recognized as relevant for psychoanalysis are the ones which can first be translated into the Lacanian theoretical framework—which might explain why Elisabeth Roudinesco’s theory of the “symbolic” conditions for the exercise of psychoanalysis, such as an institutional right to free speech,

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supposedly found only in democratic states,5 has suddenly gained such prominence in the political discourse of Lacanians.6 This is not the place to address the ideological nature of reducing real democracy to its formal and political existence, but Marxism has repeatedly shown how political democracy must be considered together with the underlying economic conditions which add a whole other layer of determinations to the experience of free speech and freedom in general.7 The current trend among Lacanians of defending the “democratic State of Law” as a necessary social condition for psychoanalytic practice, which is supposedly inaugurating a new era of political engagement for psychoanalysis,8 constitutes a rather obscene and Eurocentric ideology which bypasses, among other things, the very basic fact that, especially in peripheral countries, the State of Law does not cover evenly the whole territory over which it rules.9 Still, while Marxism and other critical traditions of political thinking could teach us many different ways to think the relation between democracy and political economy, between formal freedom and real social constraints, we Lacanians remain mostly committed to an ideological defense that there is nothing to be learned from these traditions, since psychoanalysis alone can speak of “the real” of sociality. The importance of a detailed investigation of the economic practices that sustain the analytic clinic is undeniable. However, it is only by introducing into psychoanalytic thinking a theory capable of supplementing the “symbolic” conditions of psychoanalysis with the study, produced by other fields of thought, of its socioeconomic conditions, will we be capable of (1) conceptually discerning the underlying process of selecting which psychopathological phenomena will be allowed to participate in the historical transformation of analytic thinking, (2) clinically discerning when our dealings with money are interpretable and when they are not, and (3) institutionally experimenting with other adequate substitutes for the monetary relation, which is in no way so easily reducible to other forms of symbolic exchange. Thus, the investigation of the economic substrate of the analytic practice—the study of the social relation which sustains the symbolic non-relation—is not without consequences for psychoanalytic thinking itself, and can possibly promote meaningful transformations in the scope of analytic interventions and allow us to propose more rigorous exchanges between psychoanalysis and other fields of thought. This is also a study which requires us to engage more directly with a hypothesis that we originally presented in our first chapter, namely, that one of the effects of seeking to think the compossibility between psychoanalysis and politics is that we should fully exploit the benefits of “bracketing” the singularity of psychoanalysis when considering its

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political insertion. Just as in the case of Althusser’s intervention at the time of the dissolution of the EFP, we should not confuse the adoption of another theoretical approach to psychoanalysis—in the case of the present chapter, that of the Marxist critique of political economy—with a threat to the interiority and autonomy of psychoanalytic thinking. In fact, the opposite has been shown to be true: it is precisely by restituting to politics what belongs to its own thinking that psychoanalysis is freed to confront, and overcome, its own historical limits. Our wager is that this hypothesis can be put to work by momentarily bracketing the libidinal dimension of the analysand’s demand and acknowledging that the fact that this demand is connected to a monetary exchange introduces us to a totally different sort of problem, namely, the question of the commercial status of analysis: is psychoanalysis, after all, a service?

2. Money Is Insignificant The exchange of a service or good for money is not a symmetrical trade, even if it is in fact equivalent. As Marx already demonstrated, the apparently straightforward equation of the “simple form of value,” in which a certain quantity “x” of commodity A is exchanged for a quantity “y” of commodity B—written as “xA = yB”—actually contains two distinct poles, and two distinct logics, forced together.10 It conjoins a mathematical equivalence between commensurable quantities and a propositional equivalence between a subject and a predicate. If we take the equal sign in its mathematical use, the formula expresses the balance between two quantities, where A and B are nothing but unknown variables whose actual values transform the numeric differences between “x” and “y” to make them even. A certain quantity of any given commodity—no matter how large or infinitesimal it needs to be—is always equivalent to another proportionate quantity of whatever other commodity we compare it with; their different qualities are no obstacle here. But the value form also reads “x amount of A is worth y amount of B,” that is, the equation of value between two commodities in fact carries an underlying grammar which distinguishes the subject (xA), the copula (“is worth”), and the predicate (yB) of the formula: the value of a certain amount of A is expressed as the quantity of commodity B. In other words, the only value expressed in this statement is the value of A, which is presented in the guise of the use value of whatever it is equated with. The value of xA is therefore the “relative

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form” of the equation—its “essence” requires the presence of an other in order to appear—while yB is featured here not as value—nothing of its value is expressed—but as the “equivalent form,” the thing whose very concreteness serves as the means of expression of the value of xA.11 Through a series of transformations, Marx shows how this “simple value form,” relating two given commodities, underlies and informs the moneyform, in which the value of any commodity—let us write it as “xC”—is expressed in the material existence of one single commodity, money (M): “xC = yM,” in which a certain quantity of money (yM) is defined as the “general equivalent” for any other commodity’s value (xC).12 There is a fundamental asymmetry, therefore, between buying and selling, insofar as exchanging a service for money (C−M) is not the same as exchanging money for a service (M−C). The one who, at the end of the exchange, holds money in his hand in fact has obtained something which is always already fungible, and which can be exchanged for anything else of the same value right away. The one who has received the service or good, on the other hand, has a singular concrete thing which he can now either consume, if its particular determinations agree with his appetites, or try to resell, but only on the condition that someone else wants that particular thing. Inversely, when buyers and sellers meet at the market, they are in utterly distinct positions, defined by the different ways in which commodities and the money-commodity circulate in the market:13 the one who has money can do business with anyone—for everyone wants money—while the one who has a good to sell can only do business with someone who wants what he has—so the plurality of the market appears to the money-bearer as multiple opportunities, and to the commodityseller as competition. The effects of this asymmetry on the selling of one’s labor power are well known.14 Kojin Karatani interprets the structural asymmetry at stake in the money-form as having the structure of a social contract between things:15 just like Hobbes describes the social pact through which subjects abdicate their individual freedoms—their power to assert their will over others— in the name of a sovereign, who now expresses the freedom of society as a whole, so too commodities abdicate their right to express the value of other commodities to function as the “equivalent form” of the value equation so that money can come to serve as the representative of the value of any commodity whatsoever. Just as, when we look at a king, we are seeing the reflection of every one of his subjects, when we look at money we see an infinity of possible commodities embodied in that one general equivalent—in money, the finite is an accidental or physical limitation, for the proper quality of the money-commodity is its claim to infinity:

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Qualitatively or formally considered, money is independent of all limits, that is, it is the universal representative of material wealth because it is directly convertible into any other commodity. But at the same time every actual sum of money is limited in amount, and therefore has only a limited efficacy as a means of purchase.16

The demand for almost anything can be split between two questions, concerning the aim and the goal of our wants. When we want something, we rarely just want its immediate fruition; there is also the dimension of what we get by wanting it; this can be social status, the reinforcement of a personal identity, the satisfaction of a supposed third party, and so on. It is by considering these two dimensions of a demand that psychoanalysis is able to recognize the fulfillment of a desire even when a certain demand is not directly met, since we might get what we desire by not getting what we want. Now, there are two demands which seem to potentially bypass this difference, namely, the demands for power and for money. Simply put, while most answers to the question “what do you want?” are still interpretable, insofar as we can probe into the division between aim and goal, between what we demand and what we desire, the answer “I want money” is already inherently split between money as an equivalent and all other commodities which are exchangeable for it. While the exchange of two goods implicates the desire of the two parties—one can ask of both what makes some object interesting to that person so that they might be willing to exchange it for some other possession—the exchange of commodities for money is not an intersubjective exchange, since one party alone leaves the trade with an object that is supposed to directly satisfy some need,17 while the other has in his hands an object which is only valuable insofar as it can be further exchanged for something else, something which remains indeterminate. The process of buying is therefore utterly distinct from the process of selling; unlike a power-relation, where one imposes his desire onto another, the monetary exchange is actually less than a relation; it is only a half-relation, waiting for a further exchange in order to complete its cycle. As Marx’s famous formula for simple commodity circulation18 states: we sell our commodities (C) for money (M), but we now take that money and buy another commodity (C∙) from someone else; this third party now uses that money (M) to buy yet another commodity (C∙), so that a tapestry of incomplete transactions is in fact responsible for the “metamorphosis” of value.19 This circuit is depicted in figure 5.1. Liberal microeconomics usually focuses on the relation between commodities and their consumers, reducing money to its function as the mediator between the demand for goods and services, on the one

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Figure 5.1

hand, and the supply of commodities on the other.20 The reason for this approach can be derived from the way microeconomics leans on a certain model of the consumer in order to solve the enigma of the commodityform: why can qualitatively distinct things be equated and compared with each other in the market? For Marx, the answer was an objective one: it is due to the way “socially necessary labor time” is abstracted out of laboring activities by their being bought, priced, and consumed in the production process, defining an abstract attractor called “value” around which the proportions of different products of labor can be compared and evaluated for exchange.21 But the marginalist tradition proposed a different answer: different goods can all be exchanged for each other because, while they remain qualitatively distinct, the different demands people have for them are qualitatively homogeneous. This implies an ontological commitment we could state as: while A and B are objects and are therefore heterogeneous, the lack of A and the lack of B, being both lacks, are homogeneous to each other. Goods are exchangeable because desires are all of the same underlying consistency. This answer, though pragmatically useful when modeling the complex dynamics of markets, falls short of explaining what truly interested Marx, the logic of capital, in which the end goal of the exchange and consumption process is not a service or good of consumable qualities, but money itself. Rather than selling what one has in order to buy what one needs with the money, we use our money to buy (and sometimes make) what others need, so that by selling it we can make more money, a process encapsulated in the inversion of our previous formula: M−C−M∙.

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The difference between the aim and goal of this process thus collapses into this “sublime object,”22 “M,” whose presence stands in for the absence of any other goods we might actually want, including more money (M∙). Here, the question “what do you want?” in fact comes to a halt in its equivocation, not because money stands in for something else that remains absent, but because, paradoxically, this inherently divided thing incarnates in its material body the common potency of every consumable. This is why Lacan defines money as “the signifier that most thoroughly annihilates every signification”:23 when something is exchanged for money, the famous question of desire—“Che vuoi?”—is suspended, rather than opened up. But this is where most Lacanians’ analysis of money falters, since they are typically only concerned with what money means for the analysand. And it is true, within the clinical space, that the appearance of the signifier “money” truly can operate, more often than not, as a “signifier without a signified,” as a stand-in for an enjoyment which we posit to be out of reach, or which supposedly transcends some precarious limitation the analysand might face. But this is not where the function of money appears in the clinic: at the beginning or end of each session, more money is actually found in the pocket of the analyst—this is where the actual circuit of exchange which defines it as money is truly effective. Someone came to our office demanding a service, which is now being offered to them in exchange for a certain fee. And, as we all know, with regard to the analyst, the question “Che vuoi?” has actually been suspended24—the disjunction between buying and selling guarantees that what the analyst will do with that money is not the analysand’s concern, it is enclosed out of the clinical space. Kojin Karatani is one of the few thinkers to have realized that the commercial status of psychoanalysis provides one of its essential distinctive traits in comparison to the erotic logic of maieutics: Money is not just another part of therapy. Psychoanalysts earn their living by their labor: it is not because doctors charge that patients are cured, but rather that patients are cured so that doctors can profit. It is strange that this aspect of money is overlooked. Moreover, Freud took the same position towards his disciples as Socrates took toward his: he did not charge them for his educational analysis, and this charge-free relationship ultimately formed an esoteric cluster of erotic identification. What ground is created in this exchange between therapy as labor and money? As Marx held, the exchange is ungrounded. “They do this without being aware of it.” This sort of “unconsciousness” exists outside the domain of psychoanalysis. For this reason, Marx’s theory of

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the “form of value” should not be interpreted as it is by the Lacanian school of psychoanalysis.25

It is only when we adopt the Marxist perspective, which recognizes that money is a social relation between things—and is therefore the voiding of social relations between people—that we are able to realize that Lacan’s previous definition of money as the signifier which annihilates signification must be distinguished from the definition of a “master-signifier” or a “phallic signifier” as the signifier without signification. Were the money in the pocket of the analyst to function within the analytic session as a master-signifier, which stands in for the enigma of the analyst’s desire, there would be no way out of counter-transference, and no space for the “desire of the analyst”—a “desire to obtain absolute difference”26—since the suppositions displaced onto the analyst would actually implicate her desire in the analytic setting. Most explanations of the role of money in the clinic focus on what the analysand loses by paying for the session— equating money with castration and sometimes leading to rather obscene dealings with the analysand’s economic constraints. Karatani’s critique, on the other hand, argues that it is rather what the analyst gains that truly informs the enclosure of the clinical setting, and functions as a condition for the analyst to occupy an indeterminate place, from which she can then operate analytically.27 This position, however, cannot be maintained without inverting the theoretical vector and interpreting the limits of the logic of the signifier from the standpoint of the theory of the value-form. It is this same standpoint which allows us to side with Žižek’s polemical statement that, against Foucault’s History of Sexuality and its analysis of “the birth of psychoanalysis out of the spirit of [Christian] confession,” we should rather assert “the birth of psychoanalysis out of the spirit of thrift”28—that is, the constitution of the space for the desire of the analyst out of its reliance on the infinite quality of the money-commodity.

3. The Demand for Analysis Marx’s theory of value allowed us to recognize the specificity of the monetary exchange which frames the outer bounds of the clinic. Much like in the case of any other commercial activity, the question of what the seller of a good or service desires is annihilated by the presence of money. This is not a specificity of psychoanalysis, but is rather what it has in common with any other service—its ignored reliance on its very ordinary status as

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a marketable service. What is rather unusual, as we will see now, is the destiny of the demand which is “supplied” by the service of the psychoanalyst. And since the Marxist theory of value helped us to realize that money also has the function of disassociating people via the association of things, thereby making the enclosure of the analyst’s private desire clear, we now continue to approach the circuit of the analysand’s demand from this same critical and economic perspective. Here, just as in the case of the structure of monetary exchange, Marxism is more useful to us than the liberal view of economics. This is because, from the standpoint of the model of the consumer at stake in liberal theories—which, as we explained, has the ontological function of grounding the commensurability between marketable goods—demands are univocal, they are defined by the object they demand. This is problematic for us for one simple reason: the job of the analyst is not to answer to the patient’s demand. Both in the case of psychiatry and psychology, it does not seem problematic to affirm that a person seeks their services because she needs, for some reason or other, something that these professionals offer. Accordingly, we group these activities under the field of “mental health” because this is what we are looking for when we demand their services: to return to some state of normalcy that we can personally or socially evaluate and expect to get in exchange for our money. If we remain sick, or if we are not at least submitted to some recognizable form of treatment, we are perfectly entitled to want our money back. However, the case of psychoanalysis offers a curious obstacle when we try to think this activity in terms of a useful service: what does the psychoanalyst offer to those who bring their suffering to the couch? The paradox is that analysis only properly begins when the analysand ceases to demand solely the elimination of the symptom and the return to a healthy state, but rather becomes invested in that which, within that strange and unrecognizable psychic formation, seems to indicate something hidden or enigmatic about herself. This is in fact a perplexing inversion, when we consider it from the standpoint of labor: at first, when we seek an analysis, we suppose that the utility of the psychoanalyst’s labor would be to help us to get rid of the useless symptom, but analysis only really begins when a demand concerning the unconscious use that the symptom might have for us comes into play—a supposition which contradicts the very demand which first qualified the labor of the analyst and which led us to seek his service. Finally, authorized by this supposition of an unconscious use of the symptom, we as analysands begin to work29—that is, to work through, “durcharbeiten.” When we approach psychoanalysis with no prior commitment to its singular status as a practice, a different sort of specificity comes to the fore,

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recognizable in the inversion, somehow operated by the clinical setting, of the vector binding demand and labor: we seek analysis because we want to buy someone’s work, but in acquiring this, we are ourselves put to work, producing something which we definitely did not ask for when we first got there. Lacan summarized this paradoxical point with his usual cheekiness: In short, I have succeeded in doing what in the field of ordinary commerce one would like to be able to do with such ease: with the supply I have created demand.30

We are now on the other side of the monetary exchange, since money has already been exchanged for some labor, which is itself supposed to satisfy some demand. From the standpoint of liberal economics, which is content with defining goods and demands on subjective grounds, the activity which takes place within an analytic session simply cannot be formalized. The two closest analogies we could make, and which are perfectly acceptable from this perspective, are to a variant of masochistic practices—when someone pays someone else to inflict upon them a harm, something they do want but which is not directly pleasurable— and to a “coaching” activity—when someone pays someone else to guide and change their decision patterns. But both fall short of accounting for the fact that analysis is an activity which does not meet our expectations of being disappointed or deprived, as in the case of masochism, nor does it primarily transform our desire for other things, as in the case of coaching services. It is more structural than that: whatever it is that we demand of an analysis, that is what will be challenged by the analytic session; that is what the working-through of transferential relations is all about. Furthermore, it is not only the content of the demand—the alleviation of suffering—which is deviated from its aim by analysis, but even its form: the very addressee of the demand is questioned by analytic interpretations, which separate the other who is supposed to know the meaning of our unconscious formations from the person of the analyst, who in fact does not know very much. What we demand, and who we demand it from, are both transformed after the analytic “contract” has been established. But we could even go a step further, because, as both Freud and Lacan maintained, doing analysis is the primary condition for becoming an analyst— that is, the analytic process also possibly involves turning the demand into a supply, the buyer of this service into its provider. This inversion gives a humorous twist to the expression “liquidation of transference,”31 since it also implies that the transference gains “liquidity,” that is, it acquires a value that we can later sell as analysts.

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4. The Labor of Analysis In which sense, then, can an activity which serves no previously defined purpose be considered work? Here, once more, the analytic categories of Marxist value theory can help us, even though we might perhaps end up stretching them beyond their actual validity. We have already mentioned how Marx sought to answer the question concerning the morphogenesis of the value form—the enigma of the value-equivalence between absolutely heterogeneous things—from a materialist point of view. Most economic theories are satisfied with modeling prices, and therefore establish themselves at the register where prices are set, which is at the level of the decisions of buyers and sellers, who have limited access to information about markets, who maintain a certain level of arbitrariness concerning the actual price they set for a commodity and take advantage of small fluctuations in demand, for example. Even if Marx did not dismiss the relative arbitrariness of price settings and the complex interactions between supply and demand, his main interest lay elsewhere, in the underlying attractor around which price fluctuates—we are able, after all, to recognize when the value of something and its price diverge—so what is this abstract invariance which is also legible when two commodities are compared, and how is it determined? For Marx, the answer was not simply “labor,” as most classical economics of his time maintained, like Adam Smith or Ricardo. Rather, he derived from the dual status of commodities—as use-value, with concrete determinations, and as value, as it is inscribed in the network of proportionate relations with other commodities—the dual status of labor itself in capitalism: concrete labor, labor as a determinate activity, responsible for transforming the concrete properties of objects; and abstract labor, labor as the “mere congelation of homogeneous human labor, of labor power expended without regard to the mode of its expenditure.”32 Marx realized that abstract labor was a necessary condition if we were to simultaneously explain the equivalence between commodities in market circulation and the reason why capitalists would be interested in putting their money into production, rather than just buying cheap commodities somewhere and selling them for more money elsewhere—in other words, explaining the existence of industrial capital. It is because labor is doubly inscribed in the market—as a consumable and as value, as concrete and abstract labor—that it is possible to buy labor for a certain price and use it in the production of commodities that will be worth more than what we put into the production process.33 The distinction between concrete and abstract labor can serve as an entry point for us to discuss the work that takes place in an analytic

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session. It is remarkable that words like “work” and “labor” are employed by Freud and Lacan when discussing the position of the analysand, but the one who gets paid is the analyst, which means that we have two distinct questions to address: is the analyst working if the use-value of this activity does not satisfy the analysand’s needs? And is the analysand working if she is not paid for her efforts, if her activity has no use-value for others? Our hypothesis is that these two problems cannot be answered separately, and that no theory of analytic work has been developed thus far because, as we have seen, we still lack the resources to consider the non-transferential association of analysts and analysands. To anticipate our conclusion, our hypothesis is that, in the clinical setting, the analysand’s elaborations present the properties of what Marx has defined as “concrete labor,” that is, the actual transformation of concrete determinations of some material—but these elaborations lack the property of having “use-value for others,”34 without which products of labor cannot become commodities. The “liquidation” of the subject supposed to know, a process which is mediated by the analyst’s activity, is then what slowly imbues the analysand’s elaborations with a social otherness, rather than a phantasmatic one: to paraphrase Freud, it turns “hysterical misery” into social unhappiness.35 This is not an easy position to maintain, for several reasons. First of all, concrete and abstract labor are, for Marx, aspects of one and the same activity within capitalist social production, a split produced by the inclusion of labor into the commodity-form, rather than two “types” of work that could be distinguished or separated. It makes no sense to claim that one person “does” the concrete work while the other “does” the abstract. However, as most theories on the crisis of value in contemporary capitalism demonstrate, the increased focus on relative surplus-value extraction, which entails the automation of most activities in the production process, brings with it a tendency to reduce the need for the employment of great quantities of living labor, while still requiring labor to remain the social basis of production.36 In this context, productive labor—which is directly connected to the concrete fabrication of commodities—might be less abundant than labor employed in laboring functions that connect commodities to the consumers for whom they have use-values; that is, in the transfer of already existing wealth.37 One way to restate our thesis is by claiming, then, that analysts do unproductive concrete work, while still doing some valuable work—such as scheduling sessions, setting some time aside for the analysand to speak, and keeping in check certain subjective tendencies to speak or to dispel the analysand’s imputations while she is addressing us. All of this could be considered work, and its value could be properly assessed by a comparison with the price of other

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activities in the market, such as the cost of renting an office, and so on. This analytic work, on the other hand, has the effect of turning the useless outcome of the analysand’s elaborations into something which might be of social use. At the same time, there is an important research project within Marxist feminism which argues that the very category “wage worker” is in fact a composite unit that includes not only the worker who performs the concrete labor in the production process, but all the network of care and social reproduction which underlies it.38 This idea that the “wage worker” in fact comprises an aggregate, or familial unit with an internal structure of power-relations and a sexual division of labor, allows us to recognize that while commodified labor might be fully performed within the confines of the work space, the abstraction of socially necessary labor time in fact relies on other people—mostly women—who make it possible for the worker to survive with that low wage, thus keeping labor costs near the limit-point established by competition in the market. From the perspective of the feminist critique of value-form, we see that it is not absurd to treat “work” in capitalism as a property not of a person’s activity, but of a “mass of two,”39 to paraphrase Freud. On the other hand, claiming that the analysand’s elaborations should be counted as work, in an economic and not merely physical sense,40 is not that easy, since the speech produced by the analytic session does not have use-value for others—and we do arrive at the clinic with the expectation that it is the psychoanalyst who will be effecting some desired transformation on us. One of the most paradoxical aspects of psychoanalysis, which we have already touched upon, is that analysts act by “getting out of the way” of the analysand’s speech. Not only when he remains silent, but also when actively intervening, the main orientation for the analyst is to act so that the speaker confronts her own position of enunciation, which means that even affirmative interventions in the clinic are acts of listening, of including into the scene determinations and repetitions which previously went unnoticed by the analysand. However, insofar as listening is a matter of recognizing determinations, rather than changing them, the activity of the analyst is one that does not leave a trace,41 and not only through avoidances and silences: whatever the form the analytic act takes—if the analyst interjects, ends a session, or anything else—it does not seek to give meaning (thereby transforming how a certain signifier is associated with others) or to cause an action (by assuming the role of master). It rather makes legible the constraints which were already at play in the analysand’s associative speech. This is why there is no better way to know if someone is not doing analysis than by spotting the mark of someone else’s work on their elaborations, if one were able

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to say (as we sometimes can . . .) “that person clearly is being analyzed by so-and-so”; this statement itself contradicts that analysis had taken place. So it could be argued that, even though it is the analyst who is supposed to produce something of use-value for others—namely, a precondition for commodity-producing labor—she is not really acting in the clinic in a way that fits our definition of concrete labor as the determinate transformation of some material into another. Instead, her silences, interventions, and the way she handles the session length are all oriented by the idea that the analysand is the one who needs to work through the consequences of his own previous statements (hence the analyst’s silence), of his own position of enunciation (hence the analyst’s interventions), and of the history of his elaborations (hence the variable time-length). The task of transforming discourse falls therefore on the analysand, who works through resistances and repetitions, and who truly transforms the active absence of the analyst—the very basis of analytic listening—into a consequential act. But even if we do accept that concrete transformations are carried out in the clinic by the analysand’s speech and associations, we are still one step away from the concept of work in capitalist societies, since the product of these associations remains useless for others. So much of our private lives involves finding improvised solutions to problems by transforming and repurposing objects and ideas, but most of this could not be called “work” because the symbolic or practical utility of these actions cannot be reproduced and consumed by others. To summarize: on the one side, we have analysts, whose activity is to not cease not producing determinations onto the analysand’s discourse and who therefore do not do “work” in an economic sense, or who at best do it only minimally, insofar as the logistics of this suspended activity does require some work. On the other hand, we have analysands, whose activity is a constant production of new associations, transforming an epic-length concrete discourse session after session, a discourse which, at the end of the day, is of no value. This seems to be the end of the line for our economic analysis of clinical practice—and it is, we should note, typically the point at which commentators have praised psychoanalysis as a heroic “impossible profession.” The problem is that this praise is also what most analysts use in order to justify two problematic positions: first, a lack of any serious consideration of the economic constraints of analysands and young analystsin-formation, for whom questions of payment and work conditions are no small matter; and second, the conceptual difficulty of treating psychoanalysis as just another service in the market. These positions are sometimes transformed into a sign of psychoanalysis’s inherent political import and its subversive status, thereby substituting for any actual political

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engagement and, even worse, justifying obscene financial practices, such as not paying any taxes or overcharging patients.42

5. The Fetishism of the Signifier We have seen, in previous chapters, that the reduction of psychoanalytic thinking to the antinomy between a “clinical” and a “critical” perspective—neither of which is capable of addressing the institutional dimension of psychoanalysis as a constitutive part of its procedure—also reinforces the ideological trope that psychoanalysis is already political, that it is somehow exempt from the ordinary problems of organization and political economy which other forms of thought would be more equipped to address and work through. We have also suggested that it is only by also constructing, within psychoanalytic thinking, the perspective from which analysands and analysts are counted as one that psychoanalysis can emerge as a historical and generic procedure. What we can now demonstrate is that this same perspective, which we are forcing into the picture by attempting an economic analysis of clinical practice, is also the only one in which analysis can truly be seen as a form of work. This is because when we introduce the idea of a “desire of psychoanalysis” into our investigation—that is, the idea that analysis involves a commitment to the hypothesis of the unconscious which is held, indistinctively, by analysands and analysts alike—not only is the structure of labor in analysis clarified, for we now have the means to think the clinical setting as a “productive unit” in some sense, but we can also clarify the reason why the institutional solidarity between analysts and analysands is not usually recognized. The generic dimension of psychoanalysis requires us to recognize one fundamental fact, which we already briefly touched upon when we mentioned that analysis does not only deviate the content and address of demands, but also their very status as demands, since doing analysis is also taking a step toward becoming an analyst oneself. In fact, to become an analyst is also to retain something of one’s own analysis. While the analysand’s elaborations have no use-value for others when we consider each personal analysis as a private process, when considered as part of the analytic procedure, the results of an analytic process do not lack value; they are in fact invaluable—as both case studies and passe testimonies attest to. In other words, considered only as a finite process—which begins and ends with the demand for analysis—the analysand’s activity truly cannot be seen as work, but when considered in its infinity, that is, as an investigation

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which informs and participates in the reformulation of the general orientation of what psychoanalysis is, this same activity and its results acquire a different aspect. It becomes the very stuff of analytic thinking, and might come to transform our metapsychological theory via the mediation of an institutional inscription. On the other hand, while the analyst’s clinical activity is mostly restrictive and lacks the concrete import of a laboring activity or marketable service, when considered together with the analysand’s elaborations, as part of the same indistinct institutive force, it can be seen as the work of transforming not the analysand’s concrete discourse, but the other to whom it is supposed to have a use. An analyst is not only a private person who is paid to listen to us, but a person who, through an engagement with the hypothesis of the unconscious, also carries an institutional insignia, the mark of another other within which our personal elaborations can find a place. The famous Lacanian theme of the analytic shift from “impotence to impossibility”—from the privation of some enjoyment by a phantasmatic other to the wager that this impossible form of enjoyment can be captured by a formalism and transmitted to others—can be understood, in this sense, as the formal work of endowing the analysand’s trajectory with what Marx called its “social validation” (Geltungsverhältnis),43 inscribing it not in the phantasmatic and inconsistent other of culture, but in the very institutional space of psychoanalysis. A brief remark should be made here concerning the fact that the generic dimension of psychoanalysis is also at play in the very simple fact that analysands recognize that analysts should—despite everything—be remunerated for their time. The self-evidence that this should be the case is only attestable if we depart from the idea that analysands do in fact get what they demand from analysts and therefore continue to pay for sessions because of what analysts supply them.44 But if we accept our previous argument—that the demand for the service of psychoanalysis is a rather paradoxical one, which is structurally frustrated by analysts once analysis starts—then we should also recognize that, by accepting to pay for a service that serves no purpose from the standpoint of a culture with no idea of the unconscious, analysands are materially engaged in the inscription of the hypothesis of the unconscious into the world when they agree to finance psychoanalysts and their practices. Our wager, then, is that psychoanalysis can only be considered work if we also recognize its institutional dimension, a standpoint which includes the analysand in the “clinical unit” that actually performs the complete function of transforming some material—“hysteric misery”—into something of use for others, which Freud calls our “ordinary unhappiness.” At the same time, this perspective brings to light that, while the

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analyst frustrates the analysand’s demand for a quick fix or cure, in doing so she is also lending the analysand’s elaborations the form of a work, by emptying out the phantasmatic other supposed to enjoy at our expense, as we redirect the analysand’s working-through to a concrete social bond composed of people who might actually make use of it in their collective reformulation of the limits of metapsychological theory. Our investigation into the economic practices of psychoanalysis has shown us at least one thing: there is a glaring connection between our ignorance concerning the role of money in the institution of clinical practice and our unrestricted adoption of the logic of the signifier as a general ontology. We began this chapter by highlighting the problem of treating money as just another signifier—or even as a special stand-in for the phallus—while totally ignoring the fact that the monetary exchange in analysis concerns not the analysand’s position but above all the conformation of the analyst’s desire. When no distinction is made between the signifier that “annihilates signification” and the signifiers such as they appear in speech during analysis—that is, when no distinction is made between analysis and its social and material conditions of existence—we do away with our first objection to the expansion of the logic of the signifier into a sort of general theory of discursivity. In short, the fetishism of the commodity is premised on the disappearance of any question concerning the conditions of possibility of the value-form, and this feeds the fetishism of the signifier. The fetishism of the commodity results in the disappearance of the very question of what conditions the space in which free association is possible.

6. Impossible Profession We have suggested that psychoanalysis can only be seen as labor if we consider the “analytic unit” of analysand and analyst together in the same way that the “wage laborer” is most often the composite labor of a family unit, in which, more often than not, women do an invisible reproductive work of care that is indispensable for the labor-commodity to acquire social value. The “mistaking of the subject supposed to know,” from this perspective, could be seen as the fact that analysands come to the clinic expecting the analyst to work, but instead end up paying someone to inform their own activity with the markers of a labor. We have also come to the conclusion that this way of approaching the economics of the clinic has been mostly interdicted by a feedback loop between Lacanian and capitalist ideologies, between the fetishism of the signifier

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and the fetishism of money. The mystification of the morphogenesis of money further reinforces the idea that the Lacanian theory of discursivity has no bounds, which contributes to the notion that the analysis of the commodity form can already be carried out in psychoanalytic terms, and so on. This vicious circle is also responsible, we believe, for the way most psychoanalysts and critical theorists read Freud’s famous characterization of psychoanalysis as an “impossible profession.” In most accounts, this epithet is supposed, first, to concern analysts alone and, secondly, psychoanalysis as a singular practice. However, both of these interpretations are clearly mistaken. Let us return to this famous passage from “Analysis Terminable and Interminable,” from 1937: Here let us pause for a moment to assure the analyst that he has our sincere sympathy in the very exacting requirements of his practice. It almost looks as if analysis were the third of those “impossible” professions in which one can be sure only of unsatisfying results. The other two, as has long been agreed, are the bringing-up of children and the government of nations. Obviously we cannot demand that the prospective analyst should be a perfect human being before he takes up analysis, so that only persons of this rare and exalted perfection should enter the profession. But where and how is even the most inadequate of individuals to acquire the ideal qualifications for his work? The answer is: in his own analysis, with which he begins his training. For practical reasons this analysis can be only short and incomplete: the main object of it is to enable the training-analyst to form an opinion whether the candidate should be accepted for further training. The training-analysis has accomplished its purpose if it imparts to the novice a sincere conviction of the existence of the unconscious, enables him through the emergence of repressed material in his own mind to perceive in himself processes which otherwise he would have regarded as incredible, and gives him a first sample of the technique which has proved to be the only correct method in conducting analyses. This in itself would not constitute an adequate training, but we hope and believe that the stimuli received in the candidate’s own analysis will not cease to act upon him when that analysis ends, that the processes of ego-transformation will go on of their own accord and that he will bring his new insight to bear upon all his subsequent experience.45

A common reading of this passage among Lacanians focuses on the use of the term “impossible,” simply equating it with Lacan’s own theory of the real and therefore concluding that Freud is pointing here to the fact

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that psychoanalysis deals with the impossible real, the point where signification falters, totalizations are unmade, and fantasies are traversed. The fact that “one can be sure only of unsatisfying results” in analysis is therefore interpreted as a sign that psychoanalysis is “non-all,” and the analyst is committed to the dismantling of the phantasmatic strategies set up by analysands. Furthermore, the fact that Freud was including psychoanalysis in a series—therefore treating it as an ordinary thing—by siding it with other professions “long agreed” to be impossible, is commonly transformed, through a superposition of this quote and Lacan’s theory of the four discourses, into a claim about psychoanalysis’s singular status among them, as if only psychoanalysis could think this impossible status and deal with the impossible head-on. But what is Freud actually thinking? What is the problem he is trying to work through in this passage? Rather than start from what we already know of psychoanalysis, we should rather begin by inquiring into this common aspect of “the bringing-up of children and the government of nations” that Freud also extends to our understanding of analysis. And here, once more, the broader understanding of psychoanalysis that we have been proposing also shows its merits, for a much less contorted reading of this common trait is possible if we first recognize that both parenting and governing are practices plagued by the impasse of orienting others without having recourse to a transcendental orientation ourselves. That is, these other activities, like psychoanalysis, are haunted by a point of indistinction between two sides of an asymmetrical relation. To raise kids is a generational problem because parents are children—and, inversely, as Wordsworth added, “the child is the father of the man” as well. To govern, on the other hand, is a problem of general will, due to the fact that sovereigns in a nation-state are subjects or regular citizens, while subjects are the actual seat of the power that is exercised upon them through the government’s mediation. In a previous chapter, we summarized Alain Badiou’s theory of the generic procedures by considering two senses of the word “generic”: the diachronic sense of generation—processes that rewrite their rules as they go—and the synchronic sense of commonality—processes that progressively include more and more heterogeneous elements into their organization. The generational problem of raising children, the fact that parenting is also a process by which we inform what the parenting of others will be like, attests to this diachronic sense. Lacan in fact recognized this perspective when he claimed that we must always look at three generations of a family to render a subject’s desire intelligible.46 The problem of the general will, on the other hand, displays the synchronic sense described above, for the general will is known, since Rousseau, to be

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closer to the will of no one in particular than to the rule of the majority. To include psychoanalysis in this series is to also recognize, within it, a generic impasse; namely, the fact that for someone to be analyzed, there must be an analyst, but for there to be an analyst, someone must have already been analyzed.47 This impasse presents both the diachronic sense of generation—since the one who analyzes is also susceptible to analysis, and the one under analysis will later come to listen to new analysands in the future—as well as the synchronous sense—since the very thing which qualifies someone to become an analyst is to have undergone analysis, which implies that becoming an analyst is a path that is, in principle, open to anyone. Psychoanalytic thinking is generic because it is terminable and interminable, a set of finite processes that stitch together an infinite procedure. This generic impasse at the heart of the analytic profession led Freud to the conclusion that personal analysis must then play a double role in psychoanalysis, since it is indistinguishable from the training process of new analysts. It is also highly significant, and coherent with our own premises, that Freud considers the turning point which authorizes the analysand-in-training to start practicing as an analyst to be the moment when “the training analysis . . . imparts to the novice a sincere conviction of the existence of the unconscious,” allowing the analysand to use the “emergence of repressed material in his own mind” as the “first sample of the technique.” What is crucial for us here is that this turning point is not the end of analysis, as the rest of the quote makes clear, but the emergence of a new function for the “repressed material,” a function that is irreducible to one’s own analysis. This means that most of one’s analytic trajectory is carried out under a common conviction concerning the “existence of the unconscious” and a common commitment to the “only correct method in conducting analyses,” aspects of a practice which therefore do not belong to practicing analysts alone, since they also participate in the generation of future analysts. Freud misleadingly frames the question of the genericity of analysis in terms of “ideal qualifications” versus the “real” or “inadequate” individuals who, lacking sufficient analysis, nonetheless start practicing as analysts. This opposition overdetermines the meaning of the “unsatisfying results” analysis can achieve, suggesting that there is an ahistorical and static “type” of analyst—which, from Freud, remains a regulative ideal and, for Lacan, becomes a dangerous mirage to be avoided. As we discussed in chapter 3, for Lacan, this ideal is not frustrated by the “real” of each analyst’s “sinthome,” but rather gets in the way of the analyst’s desire. Still, for both of them, this “rare and exalted perfection” remains an ahistorical reference point. Lacanian ideology, after all, is happy to

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accommodate transhistorical ideals as long as they can be disguised as critiques of the ideals of others. But here, once more, the operation of compossibility can come to our aid, helping us to distinguish Freud’s own metapsychological understanding of society and group formations, which underpins his view of what it means to “govern a nation,” from actual political practice. The long tradition of modern political thinking, and Marxism in particular, teaches us that the political kernel of the nation-state is not a stable, unchanging “void,” which is then filled with less than ideal representatives. The political ground of the State is rather a historical and ever-shifting contradiction which overdetermines the stability of this empty place of power, and there are times when representative democracy appears to be the ideal point that organizes and rules over the destiny of a State, while at other times this center can collapse under popular pressure, leading to new “superstructures” of power. Furthermore, it is highly debatable if an ideal society should really be governed by a “perfect human being.” For true democrats, a much better thermometer for the health of a society’s institutions is the capacity of a society to be governed by anyone, even by the “most inadequate of individuals.” Not to speak of communists, for whom the ideal of a unified government, ruled by whoever, is itself put into question. That is to say, political thinking, taken in its autonomy, can help us realize that we do not need to think dissatisfaction with less than ideal results only in structural terms—as the comparison between the idealized process and its real instantiation; we can also approach it historically, as the very proof of a practice’s open status, the point where its infinity contaminates its current determinations. Finally, taking all of this into consideration, we are now in a position to stress a rather self-evident aspect of Freud’s text: in his famous quote, Freud did not qualify psychoanalysis as impossible, at least not in the structural sense of Lacan’s theory of the real, but rather analysis as a profession. And, again, this is made clear by our generic perspective: both governing and parenting are activities which lose their “being” if we do not consider their actual “form”—they are procedural processes, in which the thing being worked on is only intelligible when we adopt the point of view which partially in-distinguishes the actor and the one acted upon. When we try to conform them to usual private services, unilaterally taking the actor to be the worker, we fall into the same contradictions which we have examined here concerning psychoanalysis: both parenting and governing are practices that seek to preserve the autonomy of others, and hence to avoid “concrete laboring” over other beings, while at the same time taking time and effort, which seems to entitle them to remuneration. It is impossible to fit psychoanalysis into the status of a profession

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because of its dependence on this larger scope, which is irreducible to a finite clinical instance, just as the reduction of parenting to its finite existence turns it into babysitting, or the reduction of politics to one’s place in office reduces it to management. Psychoanalysis as a procedure is actually generic—considering it as a profession is what remains, for now, economically impossible.

6

The Form of the Other and Its Institutional Enclosure

We began this investigation into the historical limits of psychoanalysis with an attempt to define what we have called a “Lacanian ideology.” Our study of the modeling strategies employed by Jacques-Alain Miller and Lacan helped us to demonstrate how the unlimited adoption of the logic of the signifier as a general ontology can lead us to undermine the autonomy of other fields of thought, as well as close the space for further research and invention within psychoanalysis itself. In contraposition to this ideology, we have proposed a different view of psychoanalytic thinking, one which is committed to the intricate articulation between its clinical, metapsychological, and institutional dimensions and to the productive use of psychoanalysis’s compossibility with other practices and disciplines. By supplementing the “clinical” and the “critical” reductions of the hypothesis of the unconscious—both of them absolutely necessary, but ultimately insufficient on their own—with the generic one, which concerns itself with the historical inscription of this hypothesis into the world, we were able to reconsider some old dead ends of psychoanalytic theory. We have reconsidered and proposed new theories of the periodization of Lacan’s teaching, the questions of payment and labor in analytic practice, and we have proposed new fields of inquiry like the role of the institutive dimension of psychoanalysis in the efficacy of the clinic, and the question of the artificial and experimental status of the clinical setting. One of the collateral results of this proposal is that we have more than once returned to the conclusion that the current impossibility of considering psychoanalysis from the perspective of other fields of thought—such as model theory, as in our first chapter, or the value-form theory, in our previous one—has consistently led us to hide productive and open problems beneath the conviction that there is nothing the Lacanian logic of the signifier cannot account for. We have come to call this ideological closure of Lacanian thinking the fetishism of the signifier, because it hides the fertile inquiry into the conditions of possibility of an artificial analytic space beneath the retroactive “naturalization” of its effects once it has already been established. We tried to better understand these conditions in our study of the 120

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political economy of the clinical practice by allowing psychoanalysis to be approached from a Marxist perspective and from the standpoint of questions of value and labor, a parallax shift which helped us to see that there is a fundamental difference between monetary exchange and the symbolic exchanges which take place inside the analytic setting. By considering this difference, we were able to hypothesize that money does not only mediate the exchange between the demand for analysis and the analyst’s service, but rather helps to conform the space in which the analyst can assume a desire of pure withdrawal, a desire for the autonomy of another’s desire. But not only this: by treating the demand that brings the analysand to the couch as a commercial demand like any other, we were also able to reconstruct something like an infrastructure for the analytic process, one in which different forms of otherness can be distinguished. Since the theory of value is not concerned with enjoyment but with consumption, we were able to track the movement from the phantasmatic other who is supposed to “use” our symptoms to the institution of psychoanalysis as a concrete organization within which the truth of these unconscious formations also finds a real use.

1. The Dialectics of Generalization and Regionalization Our preliminary investigations form, then, the first clues for a theory of the institutional dimension of psychoanalysis: somehow, the clinical setting, both at its entry and exit points, is surrounded by forms of social otherness which it cannot directly think or intervene upon. Indeed, the clinical setting is “bracketed” out in the practical process of abstracting the object of psychoanalysis, to use Karatani’s terms. The clinical space relies on a certain enclosure that money can help produce, but the clinic cannot do anything to transform the way monetary relations work, as “symbolic” as they might be. The task at hand, now, is to understand how this regionalization of psychoanalysis—the recognition of the limits and conditions of clinical efficacy—can both lead us to a renewed understanding of what happens within this enclosed space and to a more informed general theory of what currently remains outside of it. Even though our research is in constant dialogue with politics and philosophy, we are not interested here in proposing a “philosophy of psychoanalysis,” irresponsibly stating that whatever currently exists of its practical and theoretical procedures exists because it is an ontological necessity for it to be so. Even though there is a perfectly legitimate

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philosophical project to be carried out by asking what ontology needs to allow for if psychoanalysis exists—a project which, we believe, philosophers like the Slovene Lacanians, Alain Badiou, and Kojin Karatani have already amply explored—our interest here is in the opposite vector. Moving from the general to the regional, we ask: what sort of ontological specificity must be ascribed to psychoanalysis once we have determined the general ontology to which it could belong? In other words, what are the invariances which intrinsically determine the specific discipline called “psychoanalysis”? Even though this second question might look just as philosophical as the first one—and, in fact, it does presuppose a dialogue with philosophy and other fields of thought—this is not the case. When one learns what is invariant in a given field, and what must logically remain the same in all possible cases, one also learns what could vary; that is, what the determinations are which have been mistakenly taken to be the necessary pillars of this field’s consistency or rigor. The intelligibility of variances is a valuable tool when one needs—as is definitely the case with the psychoanalytic discourse today—to separate transformative practices from the limitations which unknowingly tie them to their current predicaments, thereby opening them to invention and consequential experimentation. The practical import of an investigation into the regional constraints of psychoanalysis could be condensed in the following question: where to experiment? In the next few pages, we will attempt to locate such a hidden variable within the analytic theory of transference. We have decided to focus on the concept of the transferential relation for two reasons. First of all, the most concrete aspects of the clinical procedure, the entry into analysis, the analytic working-through, and the end of analysis are all articulated around the handling of transference, while the three other “fundamental concepts” of psychoanalysis—drive, repetition, and the unconscious—all appear to carry some sort of independent metapsychological consistency, operative as such before, during, and after an analysis. In other words, only the limits of transference seem to vaguely superimpose with the limits of an analysis, the beginning and end of an analytic process. And second, by allowing us to reconstruct the basic conceptual framework of an analysis from the standpoint of the concrete analytic sequence, the concept of transference also allows us to formulate the problem which will interest us most, namely the specificity of the transferential Other in psychoanalysis. This problem reveals the specific social form of otherness that is “acted out” in the space opened up by the non-relation between analysand and analyst. As we anticipated, this problem only gains its proper intelligibility when we also adopt an institutional point of view with regard to

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psychoanalysis, and are thus led to recognize that there are social forms which escape the efficacy of the clinical setting. If we have called this broad approach to the clinic and metapsychology the “generic” dimension of psychoanalysis, perhaps we could propose this reconstitution of the transferential relation from the standpoint of its conditions of possibility a study on transferential materialism, since it is concerned with the morphogenesis of transference from a situated, historical, and contingent perspective.

2. Existence and Expression in the Transferential Relation Transference names the operation through which a “knowledge that does not know itself” can be handled, displaced, and pierced through once it circulates through a “subject supposed to know.”1 But what makes this detour necessary? In order to understand the role of the transferential relation in the efficacy of the psychoanalytic clinic, we should return to the concluding lines of Freud’s “The Dynamics of Transference”: It is undeniable that the control of the transferential phenomena offers the greatest difficulties to the psychoanalyst, but one should not forget that it is precisely these phenomena which pay us the invaluable service of rendering actual and manifest the patient’s hidden and forgotten love impulses—after all, it is impossible to liquidate someone in absentia or in effigie.2

The crucial addendum—that it is impossible to intervene upon something that is either absent or present only as the referent of an index— brings us straight to the heart of the matter. It is quite comprehensible that the staging of a past form of libidinal investment could manifest itself within the analytic setting. Dora, for example, behaved towards Freud “as if” he was Herr K and she was his maid.3 This expressive aspect of transference could have an important informative role, letting the analyst know how the patient unknowingly relates to other people, and providing information which could then be referred back to the analysand in the guise of interpretations of varying degrees of subtlety, from directly pointing it out to maieutic allusions. Freud himself did just this in his treatment of Dora, “connecting the dots” between her past and present conduct and letting her know that, when she told him that she had decided “a fortnight ago” to stop coming to analysis, she was reproducing the behavior of Herr K’s

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governess, who, after his sensual advances, was told by her family to give him a “fortnight’s notice” and leave. The consequence of this interpretation, corroborating the unconscious identification between Dora and the governess, was that Dora never came back—a failure which subsequently led Freud to add, alongside the impossibility of intervening upon something “in absentia,” the impossibility to intervene upon something “in effigie,” as when one treats the unconscious as the referent of a discourse. But it is not that simple to propose that transference does more than manifest something which remains essentially removed from the scene, like a script that remains unchanged by the actor’s dramatization. To suggest this would require that we consider this operation not merely from the standpoint of its expressive power, which is limited to the revelation of unconscious meaning, but also from the standpoint of its ontological consequences, its effects on the being of the unconscious. Lacan famously condensed Freud’s definition of transference into the affirmation that it is “the actualization [mise en acte] of the reality of the unconscious.”4 This statement, however, cannot be properly understood without another remark, which further qualifies the “potency” that is actualized in the clinical setting: “the unconscious is neither being nor non-being, but something of the un-realized [non-realisé].”5 That is to say, yes, transference is the “rendering actual and manifest of the patient’s hidden and forgotten love impulses,” as Freud puts it, but Lacan crucially adds that this artificial reality is not the precarious substitute for a more consistent, albeit hidden reality, some deep psychological typification of our satisfaction. Instead, the actualization of the unconscious is substituting for something which never had any full consistent reality to begin with: something which exists in the clinic, under its artificial conditions, but which cannot be generalized out of that space, as if it had an independent being. It would be wrong to say the unconscious has no being—for it is actualized in transference—and it would be wrong to claim that it has being—for it cannot be directly ontologized or transposed out of certain limits. Another way to approach Lacan’s remark would be to claim that the ontological status of the unconscious-form is not that of another being—something which is taking place at a remove from the clinical setting—it is rather that of an other to being, something which functions as a “negative supplement” of what is said: speech within the clinical setting reveals some inherent invariances, a kind of virtual supplement, which, although legible within those artificial constraints, does not attest to an underlying causal determination, independent from the space in which it actualizes itself.6 This can be considered as one of the founding axioms of our materialist view on transference: there are inconsistent beings which require

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the addition of something other to them in order to consistently express themselves. Or put another way: there are things whose form of expression is part of the ontological consistency. This axiom seems to be at stake in another of Lacan’s formulations: What have I taught about the unconscious? The unconscious is constituted by the effects of speech on the subject, it is the dimension in which the subject is determined in the development of the effects of speech, consequentially the unconscious is structured like a language. Such a direction seems well fitted to snatch any apprehension of the unconscious from an orientation to reality, other than that of the constitution of the subject. And yet this teaching has had, in its approach, an end that I have called transferential. . . . We are all such that we, the teacher included, are in a relation to the reality of the unconscious, which my intervention not only elucidates, but, to a certain point engenders.7

First of all, this passage helps us understand the status of the unconscious’s “unreality.” Rather than present it as the cause of those formations in which my speech exceeds what I mean to say, the unconscious is “constituted by the effects of speech on the subject,” that is, by the contingent associations made within the artificial confines of free association. It is precisely because the unconscious formations are first and foremost effects without independent causes that Lacan defines the status of the unconscious as “unreal”: not the unreality of its effects—its manifestations are after all insistently legible—but the cause of these effects, whose absence in the clinical setting should not be mistaken for an external causal principle. The relation between the unreality of the unconscious and the confines of the transferential relation leads us to the second part of the fragment, where Lacan affirms that transference does not simply elucidate the reality of the unconscious, but engenders it. If we return to the case of Dora, Lacan’s proposition on transference implies that the scene reconstructed from the standpoint of her transference with Freud—the identification with Herr K’s governess, repeated in the guise of her “fortnight’s notice”—should not be seen as the reproduction of a previous and hidden “love impulse” so much as a transferential dramatization whose enactment ontologically completes what it expresses: she produces the (past) cause for a (present) effect in the guise of reproducing the consequences that would follow if this virtual supplement had in fact been the real external cause of her symptom—her identification with Herr K’s governess. The being of the unconscious includes the transferential relation: its

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ontological consistency (i.e., its consistency as a realm of corresponding causes and effects) is not independent of the social form through which it expresses itself. In this sense, the interpretation of unconscious formations is conditioned by our underlying awareness that the unconscious is not an independent being. In fact, outside of the clinical constraints which engender and actualize it, the unconscious is nothing more than an unprovable hypothesis.

3. The Mediated Thinking of Impossible Objects Even though our reading of the logic of transference picks up on Lacan’s early insights from 1936, where he located the analytic experience “beyond the reality principle,” highlighting the split in reality—rather than the drives—as a condition of psychoanalysis, by the time of his eleventh seminar Lacan no longer conceived this unreality as an effect of the situated and artificial constraints of analysis. Due to his commitment to the signifier as a general model for speech, Lacan sutured speech within analysis to speech in general. It is therefore understandable that the only way left to remain prudent when others sought to generalize and improperly ontologize the unconscious was to highlight its suspended and nonindependent status, when addressing its general properties, and then focus on the constitutive role of the analyst when addressing its clinical reality. Still, this paradoxical intermixing of form of expression and existential consistency is precisely what Lacan’s theory of the “subject supposed to know” seeks to address. In “The Mistaking of the Subject Supposed to Know,” Lacan defines this elusive figure in the following way: That there might be a saying there that is said without one knowing who says it, it is from this that thought shies away: this is a “one-tic” resistance. (I am playing on the word “on” in French, which I make, not without justification, a support of being, an ὃν, a being [an étant], and not the figure of omnitude: in brief, the subject supposed to know.)8

Everything hinges here on the wordplay with “one-tic” [on-tique], which seeks to bind together the regular use of the word “on” in French—similar to the English use of the impersonal “one” in statements such as “one doesn’t do that”—with a reference to ontology, to the “support of being” of this saying “that is said without one knowing who says it.” The subject supposed to know emerges here as what gives ontological consistency to

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that which exceeds speech in analysis, turning these strange determinations which impose themselves on us into the sign of an other who determines us. What is less clear is why this mediation is further qualified by a resistance—a “one-tic resistance”—at the level of thought. Why would the unconscious dimension of speech be unthinkable for the speaking subject if the unconscious is itself the “effects of speech on the subject”? Here too, the problem of over-substantializing the unconscious comes into play. On the one hand, we do think about what exceeds what we meant to say when we freely associate; in fact, we almost exclusively think about it! But, precisely, to think about it is to treat it as an external reference, a cause at once removed from the clinical setting and independent from it. What “thought shies away from,” what cannot be directly grasped by the speaker, is a certain virtual determination which, exceeding what we meant to say, does not itself constitute another meaning—it is more than one, but less than two senses.9 If we must count something “as one” in order to conceive it in thought, then we cannot consciously apprehend this incomplete excess that is inherent in what we say: to grasp it means to treat this excess over the univocity of the saying as another fully constituted determination—that is, as “another one,” which is already too much, for it in fact lacks this consistent reality. While to stick to the immediate or literal surface of what is said amounts to too little, for something still equivocates, stumbles, in speech. This is where Lacan’s idea of the subject supposed to know, which operates through this “onetic resistance,” comes into play, since it is able to propose a theory of mediations in which the detour through another thinker comes to inform the space of what is thinkable. Our preliminary investigation into the logic of transference has shown us that, rather than repeat a previous libidinal attachment, transference “completes” the unconscious by giving it a specific form—the form of a supposition of knowledge—through which the unreality of the libido can not only manifest itself in the analytic scene, but become actual, effective as a reality: “[the effect of transference] is repetition of that which passed for such only because it possesses the same form.”10 What we have not yet discussed, however, is the libidinal status of what has come to consistently actualize itself through this formal supplement, that is, through the enactment of a supposed other. From a materialist perspective—that is, from the standpoint committed to not erasing the morphogenetic conditions of the clinical space—it is this strange logic of suppositions and displacements in transference which most clearly exemplifies what Lacan called “enjoyment” (jouissance). But rather than explain what “enjoyment” refers to in psychoanalysis through the use of other psychoanalytic concepts, let

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us instead consider what the term usually means, so that we can better understand why Lacan decided to adopt it. Enjoyment must, first of all, be distinguished from “possession,” because we cannot possess what we enjoy, and it must be distinguished from “consumption,” because we cannot directly use, consume, or savor what we enjoy. To enjoy something— even in arid legal jargon, where the term abounds—means to be granted access to use without thereby having what you are using or being allowed to consume it. We enjoy rights, but we do not own rights (they cannot be changed as we please), nor can we consume our rights (deplete them so they are no longer valid). There are many such objects which refer to a “potency” that cannot be actually depleted, or realized, and which therefore can only be enjoyed. Now, back to psychoanalysis, we might have less trouble understanding why the term “enjoyment” is an adequate name for the sort of satisfaction that one can find in impossible objects. Consider a thing whose lack of reality is part of its being—something which, if we were to find an example of it in reality, this real version would not be what it is because it is part of the being of this thing to be unreal, and so the real version would lack its lack of reality. Saul Kripke’s theory of the being of unicorns discusses such impossible objects:11 it is not the case that we cannot think what a unicorn is—it is not impossible to think an impossible object—but, were we to find such an animal in the world, it would not be a unicorn, because among the properties which define the unicorn—looking like a horse, having a horn on its head, and so on— there is also the property of being mythical. In order to have access to a unicorn, in its full (or rather, half-empty) being, we must preserve its form, the form which attaches an otherness to its consistency, an otherness-toreality. Due to this “unreal” condition, we cannot posses a unicorn, nor directly play with one. We might, however, enjoy the unicorn: that is what bedtime stories are for. Now, what about an impossible object whose being is formally dependent on an otherness-to-me? Something which only is what it is insofar as I do not think it? Consider, for example, myself as an object for someone else: myself as an object-cause of desire. Such an object would, insofar as it is an object from the standpoint of someone other than me, not include the standpoint of my own consciousness. Another way to put this is that, for me to be completely in a picture taken by someone else, to be the object of their picture, I cannot be the one taking it; it cannot include, therefore, the standpoint from which I would see and take pictures. The object that I am for the other, therefore, is precisely such an impossible object with the added complication that, even though it is as thinkable an object as a unicorn, I, particularly, cannot think it. If I think myself as an object for the other, then I have not thought this object,

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because it is part of its being to exclude the standpoint of my thinking: there where I think, I am not; there where I am, I think not.12 How could such an object be accessed and enjoyed? If I conceive it for myself, if it is made expressible, then it loses its ontological consistency, for it stops lacking my consciousness, a lack that is part of its being. If it is made consistent, if I do not think it, then I cannot express it or directly handle it, hence the “untenable truth” of the unconscious sexual reality,13 the impossible consistency of a sexed being: myself as the cause of desire and myself as desiring cannot meet in reality. How, then, could Dora simultaneously be and know the object that she was for Herr K, if the consistency of such an object is tied to its disjunction from the knower? It is crucial to recall that we are only speaking of a formal otherness. We are not implying that the object she is for Herr K is a substantial thing, something analysis could unmask or reveal, by getting through this slight “bump” in thought’s capacity to apprehend it. Dora-as-an-object that causes the Other’s desire is an impossible object because it is formally other-to-Dora, not because we cannot “get into Herr K’s head.” With that being said, the operation of the subject supposed to know can now be comprehended in the following terms: Dora cannot directly think the object that she is for some Other, but she could delegate this thought to another. Transference does not simply render manifest the reality of the unconscious: its dramatization of an “other who knows what I am for the Other” renders reality itself formally compossible with the unconscious— like a bedtime story acted out in the world, so that unicorns might briefly inhabit it. And, insofar as the other—Freud, in the case of Dora—is supposed to know what object-for-the-other she is, this object can be indirectly enjoyed. I cannot “have” or “be” the object that I am for the Other, but I can suppose an other who could at least make this object consistent and, through this supposition, my own consistency as an object can be enjoyed—just not by “me.” Now that we have a firm grasp on the indirect character of enjoyment and on the formal role of the subject supposed to know, we can finally understand why Lacan’s text is called “the mistaking [méprise] of the subject supposed to know.” The mistaking of the subject supposed to know is connected to the very quality of the transferential drama: if there is no substantial, consistent object to Dora’s unconscious “love impulse”—for this substance is produced, rather than uncovered, in analysis—then we must conclude that what is truly being “transferred” in analysis is nothing but the necessary form of otherness required for her truly indeterminate question—“what am I for the other?”—to become a consistent inquiry. The transferential relation is the operation of sculpting an other

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thinker for whom the impossible object that I am would be compossible within the field of knowledge, a construction which is only possible from the side of the analysand: through biographical details that we keep from the analyst, through thoughtful attempts to “clarify” what we mean so that the analyst does not get “the wrong picture,” and so on. Through these manouvers, we give reality to the other subject we suppose in the analyst. The subject supposed to know is instituted and the form of its otherness is “sculpted” by the indirect production of suppositions by the analysand: her concern with not misleading the analyst, followed by the subsequent misdirection or omission (usually due to one’s purported “embarrassment” to speak): “it is around this being mistaken [ce se tromper] that the balance lies of that subtle, infinitesimal point,”14 the point of an other that is an unreal point of view and which, for that very reason, becomes compossible with the unreality of the unconscious. This shaping or in-forming of the Other with regard to an impossible object is precisely what seems to be at stake in Lacan’s passing but crucial statement, in his sixteenth seminar, that “this field of the Other is, as I might say, in the form of a.”15

4. The Form of the Other In our investigation into the technical and practical commitments of the theory of transference in psychoanalysis, we have seen that the clinical practice conforms, through artificial means, to the principle that “something that is formally other-to-thought can only be thought by another of a certain form.” This was a first attempt to theoretically highlight a principle of “ontological homogeneity” that conditions which sort of social relation might serve as an effective model for some phantasmatic scene: traumas which concern the subject as an object of desire for her father, as in the case of Dora, have the “shape” of a dual setting in which the personhood of the analyst is enough for it to be transitive with the otherness of this impossible love encounter; even though Dora cannot think the object she is for the Other without ceasing to be that object, through the otherness of the analyst this thought can be “dramatized” and indirectly enjoyed in situ. One cannot intervene upon someone’s libidinal attachments in effigie. We also briefly discussed how Lacan developed the concept of the “subject supposed to know” to account for the inner structure of transference in the analytic clinic, the process through which there comes to be a “knowledge that only delivers itself to the mistaking of the subject.”16

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The concept of the subject supposed to know helps us to grasp the dynamics of transference and the role of the analyst in the production of knowledge without the need to assume that the analyst knows anything about what is “truly” going on with the analysand—that is, it highlights the purely formal role of his position in the circuit of speech in analysis, with no reference to any state of affairs outside the clinical setting or hidden “inside” the analysand’s head. Even though this was not Lacan’s approach to the matter, the clearest way to locate the function of the subject supposed to know in analysis is to consider it as a consequence of the paradoxical status of psychoanalysis’s “golden rule,” the rule of free association. As we have discussed in our previous chapter, this rule seeks to suspend any extrinsic normative commitments of the patient’s speech: there is no one topic, situation, or crazy thought which is by default excluded from pertinence. The rule to follow no extrinsic rules in the choice of what to say therefore creates an impossible situation: whatever regularities appear in speech can now no longer be explained away by an explicit pact to keep to that topic, or to preserve some level of politeness or morality. One is implicated in the rules that end up being followed in analysis: even the strategy of doing “exactly” what the free association rule asks us to do—to speak about anything—attaches itself to the speaker as something which implicates her in what is said. In other words, the rule of free association suspends extrinsic constraints in order to make intrinsic constraints legible, that is, it makes speech interpretable. If the patient speaks in an almost aleatory form, or speaks about past traumas, or avoids saying certain things or repeats a certain expression in vastly different contexts—all of this becomes significant, that is, it all points to the subject of enunciation that disappears under the implicit normativity guiding what is being said. The concept of the subject supposed to know makes intelligible the role of the analyst in all of this, accounting for the way the inherent otherness of these constraints in speech can appear to the speaker by taking the form of a constraint that is other to the speaker. To use a simplified example, when faced with the impossible rule to freely associate, one might suppose that, underneath that vague injunction, the analyst really wants to hear about our sexual history, and we therefore start describing our sexual encounters or preferences. The supposition of what the analyst knows—that some hidden meaning is locked in the sphere of sexuality— becomes the means through which the normativity we are following (for no extrinsic reason) can make itself legible. The very mistaking of the subject—which many times appears as an attempt to avoid “duping” the analyst, to speak what is “truly” important—is what effectively engenders the knowledge which can then be returned to the subject in an inverted

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form. Even though she was not in control, the subject ends up implicated in the sovereign power over this rule: no one asked her to speak of sex, and, more importantly, to speak of it in the way she did. The subject supposed to know, as the instance mobilized by the speaker as a mediator between speech and the intrinsic rules of speech, participates in the dialectics that produces some information about the speaker—not about the external referents of what has been said, but about the constraints which shaped this signification process. This is a knowledge not about what speech refers to as having taken place, but about what is taking place while we speak in the clinic. In this way, Lacan demonstrates the need for the analyst in the clinical setting—a position without which this mistaking would never take place—without this implying that the analyst should try to read into what is being said by the analysand: the mistaking is the source of the knowledge about the subject of that speech, a knowledge that is constituted by speaking, rather than communicated through it. The concept of the subject supposed to know therefore locates the empty but necessary role of the analyst in mediating the passage from an otherness within speech to an Other to the speaker. It does so by highlighting the way the analyst helps to shape the space of free association, adding an “ideal point” into this space, a point of obscurity regarding what is being heard, which turns any trajectory of signification into an attempt to signify the desire of one’s interlocutor. This is why analytic interpretation is a second-order intervention: the effort of making sense of an impossibility actually falls upon the analysand—everything said in analysis acquires this hermeneutic quality due to the free association rule— and the analyst rather intervenes to display the intrinsic constraints of this signification process, to question the “meaning of meaning” in the analysand’s speech. What is usually not mentioned here, however, is that Lacan’s formal treatment of the subject supposed to know allows us to see how transference comes to acquire the same form as that of love. In Freud’s “The Dynamic of Transference,” the reason why transference in analysis has the structure of an idealized love relationship—where one seeks to find out what sort of object of desire one is for the Other—is explained genetically: transference takes this form of suppositions and love attachments to the analyst because our libidinal history is only composed of such relationships, and therefore this is what emerges when we suspend other constraints. But with Lacan’s formal treatment of the structure of transference, no metapsychological commitment to the general form of fantasy is needed: if transference is conditioned by the formal structure of the clinical setting, then we can accept the thesis that analysis is capable

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of intervening upon the phantasmatic suppositions which emerge under these conditions without supposing that every fantasy can acquire actuality through this clinical setting. A dual setting, in which the private person of the analyst “absorbs” the obscure effects of the rule of free association by making herself, the analyst, its guarantor, is commensurate with a circuit that expresses “love-type relations,” because otherness in love splits the loved one in this same way—between their private being and their intimate, unfathomable kernel. To render the otherness of love thinkable, we require an other that could be loved.

5. The Institutional Unconscious of Psychoanalysis One of Slavoj Žižek’s greatest achievements—already clear in the very first pages of The Sublime Object of Ideology (1989)—is to have found an alternative generalization of the ontological presuppositions of the transferential process, a way to extract broader consequences from the existence of transference in psychoanalysis without carrying over into this general theoretical space the additional clause that every space shaped by such supposed subjects is structured around the impossible sexual being. There might very well be a variety of objects that are other-toreality and which therefore can only be thought by an other in order to simultaneously be and exist in reality—a thesis about what is possible rather than about the structure of every situation. It is in this context that Žižek has proposed, for example, the formal variant of the “subject supposed to believe”: The two notions, that of the subject supposed to believe and that of the subject supposed to know, are not symmetrical since belief and knowledge themselves are not symmetrical: . . . due to the inherent reflectivity of belief, when another believes in my place, I myself believe through him; knowledge is not reflective in the same way, i.e. when the other is supposed to know, I do not know through him.17

What is at stake here is a precise formal asymmetry between knowledge and belief, since the former does not carry the reflective transitivity of the latter: when we believe that someone else believes “x,” we ourselves maintain “x” as a belief, while the fact that we know someone else knows “y” does not guarantee a relation of knowledge between ourselves and “y.” In short, the grammar of belief articulates a different figure of otherness

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to that of knowledge: the belief of the other does not exist only for the other; that is, if the other believes, then the belief exists for us as a possible belief. The knowledge of an other, however, is in itself exclusive: we might also “possess” it, but it does not exist for us by the simple fact of existing for the other knower. Due to the transitive character of belief, we don’t need to ever directly assume what we assign to the other in order for it to become an existing and consistent belief. A knowledge that is supposed on the side of the other, however, remains a virtual unknowable spectre—in order to become a really existing knowledge, it is paramount that it be conformed into the knowledge of the other,18 but what this knowledge is remains to be substantiated through my own efforts as a knower. Insofar as this last movement of the circuit is not required by the grammar of belief, the subject supposed to believe is, in fact, a form of otherness much more fitted to the transference of ideas which no one thinks—ideas whose inconsistent character should not be situated as a contradiction with our consciousness, but with the conscious self-apprehension of any one in a given group. While the subject supposed to know renders the unconscious compossible with our elaborations of it, the subject supposed to believe allows us to conceptualize fantasies structured by the logic of belief which can lead to equally distinct spaces of supposition, that is, to alternative forms of dramatization and enactment of a transferential relation. For example, in the case of commodity fetishism, it can lead to the enactment of transferential relations between things: Beneath the apparently humanist-ideological opposition of “human beings” and “things,” there lurks another, much more productive notion, which is that of the mystery of substitution and/or displacement: how is it ontologically possible that the innermost “relations between people” can be displaced onto (or replaced by) “relations between things”? In other words, is it not a basic feature of the Marxian notion of commodity fetishism that “things believe instead of us, in place of us”? The point worth repeating again and again is that, in Marx’s notion of fetishism, the fetishist inversion lies not in what people think they are doing, but in their social activity itself 19

The crucial strategy here is that Žižek recognizes that commodity fetishism brings into play the same “mystery of substitution” that psychoanalytic transference does, but without assuming an ontology which only allows—as in the case of the analytic setting—for “relations between people” to be displaced onto new relations between people. The enigma of how relations between people can be displaced onto relations between

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things therefore invites analytic consideration, but rejects the ontological limitations imposed by the form of transference theorized by Freud and Lacan. On the one hand, Žižek maintains that this displacement, as in the case of transference, is not the posterior displacement onto others of something we previously knew or directly assumed. The mistaking that occurs here participates—similarly to the way it does in transference—in the constitution of the phenomena under consideration, since “there is no immediate, self-present living subjectivity to whom the belief embodied in ‘social things’ can be attributed and who is then dispossessed of it.” However, if commodity fetishism does make use of a supposition onto others that is not merely derivative, but constitutive, Žižek nonetheless affirms that this process is essentially distinct from that of clinical transference. We suggested that the fantasies which are actualized in the clinical space have the form of an interrogation of the Other’s desire not because this is the structure of all fantasies, but because this is the “shape” of the Other in the private clinical space—that is, the intransitive structure of knowledge, where supposing a knowledge is not knowing it ourselves, but participates in the process of turning the otherness of desire into the supposition of another’s knowledge and then, through interpretation, into a knowledge about the lack of knowledge. The structure of belief, on the other hand, informs a different space of displacements: the fact that a belief supposed in the other does not need to ever be directly assumed in order to become what it is. This allows the substitution process to involve passive others—for example, by displacing beliefs onto objects—in positions that are incommensurate not only with our individual identifications, as in the case of the libidinal unconscious, but in positions incommensurate with individuality as such. This same structure is at stake in the belief displaced onto commodity fetishism, in the case of the social contract that exists between commodities wherein all commodities abdicate the right to function as the “relative form” of value in the name of one single representative, the money-form. The money-form is objectively vaster in scope than any social contract binding a given community, since money circulates across the boundaries of different symbolic spaces, languages, and value systems.20 No individual can vouch for this sovereign pact, not because we act as if we aren’t governed by it, but because this belief in the sovereign status of the money-form is indifferent to the scale of individual decisions. It is a belief that would not be the belief that it is were it to be directly assumed—the exchange of money for commodities is not guaranteed by the fact that the actors involved in the exchange believe in money as a general equivalent—but is based rather on our belief that others, no matter in which shared system of value, take it to function as such.

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To displace the relation between (millions of) people to the relation between (two) things is thus formally commensurate with the otherness of the belief: there is an underlying homogeneity which makes use of the transitive status of the structure of belief so that, in believing that others believe in the social contract binding the “equivalent” and “relative” sides of the form of value, we are closer to the actual belief we have than if we were to directly assume it. We have seen that the belief at stake in the money-form is formally “other” to the subject in the sense that it is a belief about the belief of the receiver of our money, specifically about his trust that a third party will accept this paper as payment for another commodity. What is delegated to the other here is not only a belief that is not effective when assumed in the first person, it is also a belief about the consistency of the other’s social relation to others. In other words, this belief does not participate in the consistency of myself as an individual, but in the consistency of commodity exchange itself—the very possibility of there being an infinite enchainment of use and exchange-values in a symbolic system. To suspend this belief is not to expose the inconsistency of the Other for a subject— that is, it is not a matter of revealing that the big Other does not exist as a guarantor for the meaning of our desires—it is rather to threaten the consistency of the Other for the Other. In fact, when we accept our previous hypothesis that clinical transference renders actual only the fantasies commensurate with the interpersonal relation between analysand and analyst, it is not hard to see that this form is essentially commensurate with personal and familial relations, which, in our contemporary social world, form a subclass of the social relations we are actually engaged in. The reason why other incommensurate relations—to avoid the specificity of the term “unconscious”— are not expressed in the analytic clinic except “in effigie,” that is, as signifieds, is because the clinic is structured in such a way as to only render actual those relations in which otherness is “informed” by the impersonal dimension of personality itself. In our previous chapter, we investigated how the monetary exchange conditions the constitution of the clinical space: on the one hand, the infinite quality of the money-commodity informs the quality of the analyst’s desire, while, on the other, it masks the stakes on infinity of the psychoanalytic procedure itself—just as capital, as a “self-valorizing value,” both realizes and obscures the human claim to genericity, for Marx. Our current study into the different shapes that spaces of supposition can have—depending on the form of otherness they actualize— supplements this line of inquiry, allowing us to better locate the displaced destiny of psychoanalysis’s claim to infinity, which is necessarily absent

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from clinical space, but is still an underlying necessary commitment for the efficacy of psychoanalysis. As we have seen, psychoanalysis can only be considered a labor if the “work unit” of the clinical setting is capable of turning the useless dimension of the analysand’s symptoms into something of use-value for others. The status of this “other,” we hope to have demonstrated by now, is not that of the transferential other (our partner in “hysterical misery”) but the otherness of the psychoanalytic community as such to whom we address our “ordinary unhappiness.” In a certain sense, Lacan’s late theory of the passe as the end of analysis is nothing but the claim that the products of analysis can be addressed to an instance that is neither the “small” nor the “big” Other, but the psychoanalytic institution itself: an other Other which is capable of rendering consistent and transmissible what neither transference nor our culture are capable of properly naming. Considering our previous discussion of Karatani and Žižek, and the logic of parallax, we could say that this problem takes the form of an antinomy of transference. While the institution of psychoanalysis is a necessary condition for the clinic, it simultaneously cannot condition it, otherwise there would be no transferential space, a space sustained by the specific impasses of a dual (non-)relation. On the one hand, the clinical space is constituted by the bracketing of the infinite dimension of psychoanalysis as a procedure: both money and the interpersonal form constrain the dynamic of transferential relations so that the institutional dimension of psychoanalysis, our engagement with its inscription in the world, can only appear “in effigie” within analysis. On the other, an alternative “bracketing” of the psychoanalytic procedure, from the clinical to the generic standpoint, allows us to turn the engagement with the idea of the unconscious into a consistent and consequential object of inquiry; at the cost of making it impossible to tell who engages with it, the analyst or the analysand. This is the standpoint we sketched in chapter 4, and which we rendered operative in our investigation of the structure of labor in the analytic clinic in chapter 5. It stands to reason that this engagement with the idea of psychoanalysis, having no place in the clinic, but being a necessary complement of the analytic procedure, is precisely the content of a belief that both analysts and analysands displace onto a supposed other during clinical work, namely the subject supposed to believe in psychoanalysis. The antagonism between those who dogmatically espouse the “clinical” perspective and those who adopt the “critical” perspective takes the usual form of a battle over who believes too much in psychoanalysis. This split can be characterized as one between those who supposedly lack the theoretical subtlety to recognize that the idea of the unconscious has more

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conceptual applications than just clinical practice, and those who lack the practical awareness that maintaining a conscious commitment to the idea of the unconscious actually gets in the way of analytic work. In both cases, the adversary is supposed to want psychoanalysis to be true, thereby missing the “real” that it brings forth.21 The passage from the logic of parallax between incommensurate perspectives to the Borromean knotting of the clinical, the conceptual, and the institutional (first articulated in chapter 3, but properly presented in the next chapter) finally allows us to move beyond these two untenable positions to adopt an adequate standpoint by which we can evaluate the role of our commitment to the idea of the unconscious in the historical existence of psychoanalysis. This shift in perspective does not entail stepping outside of strictly psychoanalytic matters; rather, it qualifies us to ask questions concerning psychoanalytic thinking proper. To begin with: what exactly is the status of an idea in psychoanalysis?

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Groundwork for a Metapsychology of Ideas

From Freud to Lacan, psychoanalysis has never properly elaborated a concept of “idea,” one that could be thoroughly distinguished from that of an “ideal,” thereby differentiating the use of representations as a means to orient us toward something new or something already known. While ideals have acquired full metapsychological dignity, ideas remain, even within Lacanian theory, the index of a signifying formation of rather trivial properties.1 As we have insistently argued throughout this investigation, we also lack, within this same psychoanalytic tradition, a clear understanding of how psychoanalysis as an institution—that is, as the fragile existence of the hypothesis of the unconscious in our world—conditions the clinical efficacy of interpretation under transference. Though the production of truth-effects in the clinic certainly attests to both the perplexing existence of one’s own unconscious and of the unconscious in general, the relation and difference between these two levels remains poorly understood. Our wager is that these two lacks are, in fact, linked together. Investigating this connection entails proposing an expansion of psychoanalytic theory that is similar to the one presented in our previous chapter. Just as we sought to demonstrate that transference relies on the artificial in-forming of a certain clinical space, so too we must now investigate whether the modeling of metapsychology by the signifier leads to an improper generalization out of its adequate confines, covering up constraints that actually determine the conceptual space of Lacanian metapsychology. Even if we come to the conclusion that “ideas” do not play a role in clinical practice, the possibility of constructing a consistent metapsychological operator that might be efficacious within other moments of psychoanalytic practice—for example, as part of the entry into analysis, or within the theory of the passe—would suffice to put into question this theoretical restriction and open the space for us to think anew the compossibility between the different dimensions of the analytic procedure.

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1. The Idea of Another Psychoanalysis The generic dimension of the analytic procedure concerns, above all, the transformation of clinical listening and the ensuing metapsychological theorization through the very practice of analysis, which historically shifts the frontier between what is significant and what is not, what is considered invariant and what is passive of variation, within the underlying constraints of free association. To find a place for the generic within a metapsychological model is, therefore, to find a historical way to knot together the analytic space and that which exceeds it—a way that is displaceable, passive of transformations, and not only for a given analysand, but for the analytic space as such. In other words, it is not enough for us to think the place of novelty in metapsychology in terms of the subject coming to terms with the otherness of her trajectory only in structural terms. We must avoid the reification of analytic theory into a transcendental standard of what psychoanalysis is capable of by recognizing that novelty in clinical practice must also have a historical character. In other words, metapsychology must not only recognize that the Other is a constitutive part of symptomatic formations, but, given that this Other is partially constituted by psychoanalysis’s own artificial constraints, novelty can also emerge at the outer bounds of transference—an insight that exceeds psychoanalysis’s own means to grasp it and therefore demand from it a new effort of thought. The form of novelty we are thinking here is also other to the current limits of psychoanalytic thinking itself. To take up a quip from Alain Badiou, in order to address the historicity of psychoanalysis from the metapsychological standpoint, not only as a genealogy2 but as a commitment to its inventiveness, we must find a way to treat the real in Lacanian theory not only as cause—an irreducible alterity—but also as consistency:3 as a generative opening that allows for new practical and theoretical developments. As before, our strategy here is not to critique Freud or Lacan, but to denounce the effects of taking the historical limits of existing analytic theory and practice for positive restrictions on any further analytic and non-psychoanalytic claims. At stake in this investigation are the underlying limitations that modeling metapsychology through the concept of the signifier imposes on our conceptual apparatus, not the critique of all the undeniable benefits that this model has brought about. Many of Lacan’s developments were prompted by his critique of Freud’s models— the latter’s reliance on energetics, mythology, anthropology, and so on are all models which compose a certain conceptual grammar for thinking that leads Freudian theory to maintain some underlying philosophical commitments which overdetermined the space of what was thinkable

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within metapsychology.4 Lacan’s teaching can be seen as a painstakingly detailed attempt to reconstruct Freud’s fundamental insights within a theoretical framework that is no longer restricted by its previous grammar, allowing Lacan to expand the reach of psychoanalytic theory and practice. If the model of the signifier helped Lacan to accomplish exactly that, it nonetheless remains a limited model since, as all models are, it carries with it its own set of silent commitments (as we have discussed in our analysis of Lacanian ideology in chapter 2). We previously addressed how these theoretical commitments cover up important questions concerning the constitution of the clinical setting and its institutional constraints, but our focus now is on psychoanalytic theory itself. Let us call “structural dialectics” the set of presuppositions that accompany the unrestricted adoption of the signifier as a metapsychological model. This name, proposed by Badiou a long time ago,5 is useful for our purposes because it condenses the main consequences of bringing together structural linguistics and Hegelian dialectics into a general theoretical framework: the transformation of the concept of the other into a primitive term, undecomposable into anything else. Within structural dialectics—which is nothing but the consequence of the logic of the signifier and its generalization—the dialectics of the One and the Other is turned into the basic matrix of thinking6 and alterity is given ontological dignity over both the “multiple” and the “one.”7 Our investigation must thus move between two different, but interrelated registers. On the one hand, we want to find a place within metapsychology for an alterity that is neither that of the transferential Other nor the radical alterity of the real of desire—the institutional alterity of another psychoanalysis, the possibility of which is required if psychoanalysis is to be considered a generic procedure. On the other hand, rendering this development compatible with metapsychology requires us to challenge its theoretical grammar and the limits imposed on analytic thinking by structural dialectics. Our first hint of how to approach this comes precisely from this underlying register, and more specifically, from a comparison between how Freud first articulated his theory of ideals and how Lacan later reformulated it, and expanded its reach, with his theory of the unary trait. Even if Freud’s theory, presented in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego,8 from 1921, exemplifies all the restrictions that his silent commitments impose on analytic thought, its flaws in fact help us to localize a distinction which, in Lacan’s sophisticated reworking, undertaken within a richer model, cannot itself be conceptualized—the distinction between the real of desire and the “external” real. As we intend to show, structural dialectics, with its primacy of otherness over unity or sameness, gets into trouble when it comes to introducing divisions into the concept of the

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real,9 and Lacan’s theory of the object a, which remains a product of this paradigm, for all its incredible creativity and importance at the clinical level, in fact consolidates the closure of further metapsychological developments to be extracted from the fringes of our current theory. Finally, we will focus on the Lacanian formulas of sexuation and, more specially, on the underlying commitments at stake in the logic of the “non-all.” Following Badiou’s insightful critique, we will argue that the theory of feminine enjoyment is what best exemplifies the tension between Lacanian thinking and the limits of Lacanian ideology—an impasse which revolves around the conceptual necessity, in order to properly think the infinitude of enjoyment, of admitting into our metapsychological model the concept of idea as a consistent operator.

2. From the Ideal. . . At the end of the eighth chapter of Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, which is dedicated to the identificatory mechanisms of love and hypnosis, Freud presents “the formula for the libidinal constitution of a group,”10 and offers us a graphic representation of this schema, depicted in figure 7.1. This formula concerns a specific sort of group or crowd, the one which “has a leader and could not secondarily acquire, through excessive organization, the characteristics of an individual,”11 these latter being the “artificial masses” such as the army or the church. Freud further proposes that this primary mass is also the model of the “primal” mass, so to speak; the one which is based on the relation between the primal father and the

Figure 7.1

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Figure 7.2

herd, a mythical invariant structure which allows us to analyze other actually existing group formations and their own variations. This is Freud’s definition of the primary mass: A primary group of this kind is a number of individuals who have put one and the same object in the place of their ego ideal and have consequentially identified themselves with each other in their egos.12

Let us now connect this formula back to Freud’s graphic schema, adding in figure 7.2 the components of this definition as a sort of syntactical subtitle to the diagram. We have divided the Freudian formula into a circuit with seven “steps,” but what interests us the most here are the differences between the formula and the graph, the two components at the extremities of this superposition: the “x,” in Freud’s original schema, and the empty circle, which we added by following the conceptual definition that Freud provides. On the one hand, there is a notable disparity between the graphic representation and the description that Freud gives of it, since the drawing contains one component that is not conceptually articulated with the other ones.13 Freud writes of “a certain quantity of individuals who have placed one sole object” (Objekt) “in the place of their ego ideals,”14 making it ambiguous if “object” refers here to the representation of the object or to the represented object itself.15 On the other hand, Freud includes an element in his formula which is not evident in his graphical schema: for it is quite different to talk about individuals “who transformed the same object into their ego ideal” than it is to talk about those “who put the same object in the place of their ego ideal.” In this second case we have three, rather than two, terms: object, place (Stelle)—and the ideal. The mismatches between the definition and the graph are quite

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important to us. Not only will they help us to understand Lacan’s later reworking of Freud’s theory—his materialist reading of subjectivity and subjective division based on a radically new treatment of otherness—but by tracking these two disjunctions, we also manage to follow the conceptual movement through which the gap between place and representation in psychism became indistinguishable from the gap between the unary trait and the non-psychic real of the “external object.” But what is, for Freud, the status of this “external object x” that remains outside of the circuit of representations? He does not speak much of this “Thing,”16 and furthermore, it seems that this question may even disturb the epistemological limits of psychoanalysis: how could we represent or speak of something which is defined as being beyond or outside of representations? We could only speak of the representation of what lacks representation, but which remains a representation nonetheless. At the same time, Freud presupposes a gap, an empty place which can be occupied, sutured, by the representation of this external object in the process of identification; in other words, a place which is not itself a representation. Here, the epistemological boundaries are not so sensitive, given that this emptiness, this lack of representation, is understood as part of the psychic apparatus. It is not only given an ontological status, but we can also indirectly approach it through its effects on representations themselves, that is, through unconscious formations.17 So, on the side of the “x,” the lack of representation takes on the quality of a limit for thought, but we simply cannot know what the “external object” is all about, and any questioning here is bound to be caught up in fantasy.18 While, on the side of the “empty circle,” this lack is treated as a perfectly thinkable structural feature of the psychic apparatus. We will return to the reasons behind psychoanalysis’s qualitatively distinct treatments of these two limits to representation—the lack of representation within the subject’s desire could be further investigated, while the nonsubjective lack of representation in reality remains interdicted to thought—a difference which remains operative in both Freud and Lacan, though in different ways. However, our aim for now is not to challenge this, but to understand how Lacan was able to recompose the Freudian theory of ideals and identification by adopting different philosophical commitments which allowed him to take a step back and construct rather than merely define some of the elements of Freud’s schema, including the infrastructure of ideals. The first thing to note is that Lacan began his reconstruction by tightening the knot between three instances at stake in Freud’s schema: the subject’s inherent otherness, and her relation to other people as subjects and to external reality. It is well known that Group Psychology was

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not written as a clinical text: in a debate with Le Bon and Kelsen, Freud rather tried to derive, out of clinical experience, a theory of how crowds, masses, and more organized collectives such as the army could affect our behaviors and desires.19 One of the most noteworthy transformations of Lacan’s reading of Freud’s theory of identifications is that he re-situated its operations within a clinical context, focusing on the “mass of two” that composes the analytic setting.20 Rather than address what takes place when multiple individuals place “a sole object in the place of their ego ideal,” Lacan distinguished these different relations structurally, rather than socially: that is, he shifted the emphasis from the peers with whom we identify to the intrinsic properties of these relations of lateral identification themselves, which allowed him to analyze imaginary attachments in a context where these relations are not prompted by the presence of some other subject.21 “Imaginary” and “symbolic” identifications thus became clinical tools, rather than only sociological ones; that is, they are relevant precisely where the enclosure of the clinical setting interrupts the effective dynamics of group formations. This is also why Lacan joked about turning the title of Freud’s essay around to Ich-Psychologie und Massenanalyse.22 While Freud tried to move from the clinic to the analysis of the ego in group formations, Lacan brought Freud’s theory of ideals back into the clinical context. But this movement also has consequences for the concept of the “thing” in Freud’s schema: if symbolic and imaginary relations are re-conceptualized here as legible registers of speech within analysis, the same could be said of the resistance to representation that the external object implies. If Lacan reinterprets Freud’s theory of ideals within the limits of the analytic “mass of two,” then the status of the “x” in this schema is also transformed. Rather than point toward that which is external to the psychic apparatus—in an analogy to the Kantian realm of the noumenal—we can interpret the “x” as that which remains outside the severed limits of the clinical setting. Once more, the distinction between the enclosure of speech in analysis and the general field of speech helps us to clarify the otherwise paradoxical status of the “real” in Lacan, which is simultaneously more accessible to us than the Kantian “Thing”—for it is not substantially removed from the speaking subject—at the same time that it is less accessible to thought than that Thing—since, due to this artificial condition, it has no positive ontological status, being only an effect of the loss of being produced by the enclosure of the clinical setting.23 This loss, it must be stressed, cannot be recuperated because of the simple fact that the cut which institutes the clinic is not ontological: there is no qualitative distinction between the inside and the outside of analysis; there is only a momentary reduction of what counts as part of the domain of speech.24

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At the same time, Lacan’s shift of focus from the positive others present in a group to the otherness that is built into the very quality of these identificatory relations was only possible because of the adoption of a new conceptual grammar, one capable of giving the other an absolute rather than a relative character, while attaching this dialectics to the materiality of speech itself. This is precisely what the logic of the signifier allows us to accomplish: by treating speech as a system of differences in which each signifier counts only for its distinctive alterity to another signifier, while the real is constrained by the suspension of any necessary link to what is signified, leaving signification to function only with regard to a subject supposed to know what we mean, the experience conditioned by free association and the suspension of the reporting function can finally be formalized. However, as we have repeatedly suggested, the very model which allowed for this development also blocked its explicit formulation: once the model which formalizes speech in analysis is generalized into what we called a “structural dialectical” philosophy and turned into a theory of speech in general, we inevitably cover up the fact that the real has also been artificially produced as the “impossible” by the very enclosure of the clinical space. This “foreclosure” is of considerable consequence for Lacanian thinking, especially when we deal with the formulas of sexuation. However, before we can evaluate the metapsychological consequences of this erasure, let us get back to the metapsychological theory of ideals and see how Lacan first translated Freud’s schema in this expanded grammar. To summarize, we could say that the point where Freud’s formula exceeds the graphic representation—the point where we first added an empty circle—was later highlighted by Lacan as the constitutive lack of desire,25 while the point at which Freud’s graphic representation exceeds the conceptual formula—which Freud himself marked with an “x”—became, with Lacan, the theory of the unary trait.26 Furthermore, as shown in figure 7.3, the two crucial moments of the operation of idealization—one which connects the “object” to the “ego ideal,” and another which links an “ideal ego” to another—became, in Lacan’s work, the dimensions of symbolic and imaginary identifications, respectively. Here, the distinction between the “place” and the ego ideal, which was already implied by Freud, is finally properly conceptualized: it becomes a noncoincidence or gap that is inherent to desire as such. As Lacan famously puts it, “desire is always the desire of the Other”:27 desire is that which, in me, is other to me, both in the sense that it preserves this gap between what one desires and what is desired by it, and that it marks the place in psychism of a determination which one cannot directly assimilate as one’s own. In “structural dialectical” terms, we could say

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Figure 7.3

that the lack in desire marks the place of that which is not simply other to the one that I am—that is, something external to the continence of the speaking being—but the place of what is other in the one: an alterity which simultaneously cripples and constitutes the demand for the “I” to have continence or a defined “perimeter.” Lacan’s reliance on the dialectics of the One and the Other allowed him to radically clarify the relation between the empty place and the ego ideal in Freud’s schema. If the lack is what is “other in me,” and if the ego is a unity that is constructed in opposition to an other, then this distinction must be operated—it is not a given—and the ego ideal is precisely the name of this operation of partition which, perpetually disturbed by what is irreducibly other in me, continually leads to the distinction between myself (what is “one-in-the-one”) and what emerges as other to me (what is the “one-of-the-other”),28 thereby mediating the relation between desire and the representation of objects of desire. Furthermore, if the unity of the ego is the result of a continuous partition between what is me (the ideal ego) and what is other to me (the ideal other), then if something which was supposed to belong to the ideal ego suddenly appears outside of me—what Freud called the experience of the uncanny29—then what is suddenly under threat is not only the constitution of the ideal other, but the ego itself and its own bodily limits. When the ego ideal—the “otherof-the one” that rules over this partition—vacillates and the lack cannot be taken for the lack of an object that belongs to the “one-of-the-other,” that is, when the “lack comes to lack,” we witness the emergence of anxiety and, with it, the force of the superego is felt. This produces a demand devoid of content, for it does not aim at any particular object;30 the superego rather emerges as a blind demand or as an “injunction to enjoy,”31 insofar as it is a relentless imperative which aims at the reestablishment

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of the boundaries of one’s self-identity, in the face of an alterity that we cannot erase. However, Lacan’s dependence on structural dialectics served not only as a means of reconstructing the basis of Freudian metapsychology. In the case of the other pole of Freud’s schema, the “x” of the external object, it was Lacan’s merit to recover a passing expression used in Group Psychology and turn it into a key metapsychological concept. The concept of the “unary trait”—the einzige zug—is the Lacanian solution to an implicit problem which we pointed out before, namely the relation between the external object and the space of representations, and it presents a solution which leads to a veritable expansion of psychoanalytic theory and practice. The brilliant intuition behind the Lacanian concept of the unary trait is that it is not a matter of unity or unification—Einheit—but of “unicity,” Einzigkeit.32 The unary trait is “one” insofar as it is unique— different from others—and insofar as it demarcates the specificity of a set, making that multiple itself discernible, not because it is “unifying” the multiplicity, as we would say of a property that is common to a series of elements and whose discernment replaces the discernment of the elements themselves.33 The great advantage of this perspective is that Lacan provided a new articulation of the relation between the representational space and what remained outside of it. The limitation we previously faced was that, committed to an energetic conception of the psychic apparatus, we could only think of this schema in terms of representations which were more or less libidinally invested. But these representations were themselves always positively linked into associations, and as such, we could not account for how a positive association between representations could ever represent something that is lacking, that is, represent an absence of representation. The Freudian answer was articulated through the reference to an energetic factor, an excessive discharge of excitation which underpins a substantial approach to what exceeds representations.34 The Lacanian proposal reformulates and reconstructs this same logic, but without the need to presuppose a substance that is unequally distributed throughout the representational space. Instead, the theory of the unary trait allows us to distinguish between two ways in which a representational association can be constituted: either in an intelligible way, that is, when it is positively articulated with other representations, producing signification (which we could call the “one-of-the-other”), or in a legible way, as with a hieroglyph or a scribble, when a representation does not articulate itself with the others, but it still has “significance,”35 i.e., it is nonetheless separable from the insignificance of the world. This second form, in which the trait has unicity—that is, it is

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distinguishing—but it does not unify anything, is a sort of vestige which “contains” something of otherness at the same time that it separates itself from the general alterity of the world—a scribble, for example, is not the same as aleatory markings—it preserves something of it—just as the scribble remains impenetrable to signification. A trace that is only a difference, which only represents “something other” which itself remains unrepresentable, is precisely a trace which could stand in for something which is not a representation; it could represent a lack.36 For Freud, this “something other” was an excessive libidinal investment, and this excessive dimension is preserved in the Lacanian approach; what is new is that instead of a theory of the libidinal substance—with all the problems that this dualism entails—we get a theory in which libido and representation are always articulated as formal aspects of signification, a theory of the space of representation that does not require any reference to external states of affairs.37 To make use of the dialectical grammar we have employed above, we could summarize this development in the following way: the unary trait is that which is one-in-the-other—the emergence of a distinction which does not eliminate the otherness it distinguishes—and this is what enables it to stand in for what is other-in-the-one. The expression “one-in-the-other”—a unicity that remains other to us—seems like a reasonable translation of the different expressions Lacan employs when speaking of the unary trait, such as “distinctive unity” and “actual multiplicity.” Now, it is very important to realize that one of the reasons why Lacan was able to push metapsychology beyond the limits of Freud’s theory of representation was his recognition that mathematical thinking had already demonstrated, especially with the work of George Cantor, that it is possible—even if it is not intuitive—to grasp multiples without obliterating their multiplicity.38 In set theory, the “set-form” is perfectly capable of presenting a multiple without presupposing that there is anything in common between what belongs to that set: a set composed of the first ten natural numbers is just as thinkable as a set composed of an apple, a unicorn, and a differential equation. The existence of an underlying property, common to all elements and unifying them, is not a requirement in order to distinguish the elements of the set, nor is it necessary to consider these elements as being substantially unified themselves. On the contrary, in the axiomatic set theorical system known as “ZermeloFraenkel,” the elements of sets are all themselves sets, since those are the only variables accepted by the axioms.39 In other words, the mathematical treatment of sets shows that there is no imposture in the effort to “come a little closer” to heterogeneity through thinking. It does not state that we must do so in all cases, but it provides one counter-example which already

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invalidates the general principle that thought simply cannot, under any circumstances, distinguish a multiple while preserving some otherness among its elements. The autonomy of this mathematical result—its validity for mathematics— helped Lacan to further push the boundaries of psychoanalysis’s own autonomy, by turning an apparently general claim that we must always intentionally define what sets separate into a restricted and regional claim, a fundamental insight that opens the space for further investigations. If the purely extensional construction of sets is possible within certain axiomatic restrictions in mathematics, then we are authorized to at least ask if this disjunction between sets and common properties could not play a part in other fields of thought, under their own conceptual restrictions. The accusation that thinking cannot not apprehend anything of being because thinking is an essentially unifying operation while being is essentially multiple and disseminated, is thus partially overcome the moment we correct our theory of thinking—something which mathematics has obliged us to do time and time again, at least since the Greeks. Drawing from Cantor and set theory, Lacan affirmed that we do not need to explain the passage from the external object to the ego ideal either in terms of pure contingency or in terms of energetic discharges, because we are allowed to conceive of a distinctive operator which does not unify that which it distinguishes. This is an operator which, although itself immanently psychoanalytic, found its space within analytic thinking by first recognizing what other fields of thought had rendered thinkable in their own terms. Finally, authorized by what the extensional theory of sets rendered thinkable, Lacan was able to propose the concept of the unary trait as that which would be capable of modeling what is “other in me” because of its being-other, like the lack in desire, but also because of its being-unique, like the “I” it seeks to support.40 Let us now return, once more, to the Freudian schema of the ideal, this time including in it all the dialectical articulations we derived from Lacan’s work on the unary trait, as seen in figure 7.4. By recognizing certain advances in modern mathematics, Lacan was able to conceive a structural function of signifiers which exceeds representation, that is, the possibility of unicity without unification, a form of determination which preserves something of the indeterminate. Armed with this concept, Lacan was then capable of formulating the process of symbolic identification as an articulation through alterity: the production of an identification between the alterity “contained” in/by the distinctive trait and the alterity that insists within desire, allowing for a criterion of partition between ourselves and the world. The theory of the unary trait thus leads us to a possible definition of the metapsychological operator

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Figure 7.4

of the ideal in “structural dialectical” terms: an ideal is an operation through which the one-in-the-other (trait) transforms the other-in-theone (drives) into the other-of-the-one (Other)—thereby distinguishing the one-in-the-one (ego) from the one-of-the-other (others). However, this concept does more than define the metapsychological operator; it also allows us to conceive a new field of clinical interventions: the metapsychological theory of the unary trait authorizes us to intervene upon the consolidation of the ego ideal, which can now be understood as a contingent and historically determinate attempt to make sense of the enigma of desire, rather than a transcendental a priori structure which we can only “fortify” but never call into question. In other words, by adopting new philosophical commitments Lacan did not only decompose the ideal into more primitive terms—which could only emerge as such within a model that could think otherness without presupposing a positivity—but this decomposition also revealed a more ample space of operations, and therefore of transformations to what was previously deemed clinically possible.

3. . . . to the Object a We have already seen that it was the Cantorian theory of “actual multiplicities” which authorized Lacan to localize the unary trait within the field of the other—as the “one-in-the-other”—thereby extending the reach of analytic thinking. In order to think the metapsychological definition of “idea” we must now investigate what remains radically other about the other—that is, we must interrogate alterity in its insignificance—and assess if such an investigation might also serve as the basis for a consistent

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operation, rather than just a disruption, of the psychic apparatus. But this is where we usually encounter a dead end, and not because this path of inquiry is directly blocked; in fact, we cannot move ahead because it is taken as common sense among Lacanians that this road has already been traveled. After all, wasn’t Lacan’s most famous contribution to psychoanalysis a theory of the dimension of the subjective constitution of speaking beings which is opposed to that of ideals—the theory of the “object a”? When we discussed the Lacanian theory of the unary trait, we made note of how the use of certain dialectical modulations—which we termed “one-of-the-other,” “one-in-the-other,” and so on—helped Lacan to expand our understanding of the structural conditions which allow for a representation to stand in for the lack in a subject’s desire. If the theory of the unary trait conceptualizes a form of identification which binds the otherness of desire to the otherness of a trace, the theory of the object a, on the other hand, seeks to think the other-in-the-other, or that which resists symbolic integration, even in the guise of a representation of lack, and remains an alterity that perturbs all consistent figures of otherness—hence the famous Lacanian expression of the object a as that which “in you [is] more than yourself.”41 Here, it is not a question of the movement of identification through which the alterity of desire (the other-in-the-one) is displaced onto something external to us (the other-of-the-one), but rather the problem of conceiving the underlying tension of this movement, the presence of an otherness in perpetual want of form. We have already seen that the ideal allows the “other-in-the-one” to gain some containment—to become the “other-of-the-one”—via the mediation of a trace, the “one-in-the-other,” but we still lack a theory of what is responsible for the indetermination in desire to begin with; that is, why is there the presence of this insistent alterity that causes desire’s movement toward an impossible enjoyment of itself as “one”? Lacan’s theory of the object a provided metapsychology with the means to address this “absolute difference,”42 a difference that does not differentiate between any two things: a form of radical otherness which cannot be properly localized either inside or outside of the psychic apparatus, but rather remains its constitutive stumbling block and absent cause. Besides its effect of further situating the subject’s constitution, by departing from an undifferentiated state that is even more radical than the one at stake in the theory of the unary trait, the inclusion of the object a into metapsychological theory also allowed for crucial transformations in the scope and quality of clinical interventions. If we include in our picture of psychism the function of an “other-in-the-other”—some irreducible alterity—then it is no longer necessary to take the emergence of the enigma of desire, the “other-in-the-one,” as the end-point of analysis,

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which Freud once called the “rock of castration.” Instead, it becomes possible to further question the way we have subjectivized the lack of desire to begin with, making a nonsubjective alterity adhere and participate in the individuation process of a given subject. The theory of the object a allows us to consider the very history of how we learned to desire, inviting analysts to listen to the patient’s speech not only from the standpoint of his symptoms—that which gets in the way of the consistency of the “I,” revealing the more profound interplay between the One and the Other in our constitution—but also from the standpoint of fantasy, that is, of the very constitution of the alterity of desire as the solution to an even more radical inconsistency in the process of subjective individuation and in our ongoing separation from the world around us. What is truly brilliant about Lacan’s theory of the object a—and the reason why we place it here in a series with the Freudian theory of ideals and the concept of the unary trait—is that, by introducing it, Lacan found a way to simultaneously address the two “loose ends” of Freud’s original schema. Lacan’s genius was to tie together the problem of the “origin” of the otherness of desire with the problem of the “external object” which remained vague in Freud and only partially addressed by his own theory of the trace; an articulation which, once more, substitutes the interaction between two substantially different domains for the effects of a single formal torsion. That is, Lacan proposes the coincidence between the points of impasse of the One. We can schematize this as represented in figure 7.5. In this way, what is most intimate and what is most external coincide at a point that is equally excluded from the interior and from the exterior. The radical externality of the world-without-us and the radical interiority of the stumbling block in our desire turn out to be made of the same “stuff.” This is a solution which is at once dialectical, given that it rests on a previous tension, and materialist, since it grounds subjectivity in the

Figure 7.5

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Figure 7.6

nonsubjective. It is also structural, since it is accomplished by further expanding the reach of an already established model based on a differential system. This is the torsion that Lacan’s use of the “Möbius strip” seeks to exemplify, as shown in figure 7.6. But if the object a finally adds a third underlying layer of complexity to the theory of desire and identification—helping us to think the cause of desire without recourse to any transcendental means—it also sedimented a certain structural limit within Lacanian metapsychology which is not derived from clinical experience or from analytic theory as such, but rather from the saturation of the expressive resources of the dialectics of the One and the Other.43 The problem here is that thinking alterity without recourse to unity—the “other in the other”—is no small theoretical feat. It brings into question the limits of our underlying model and overall conceptual grammar. There are many dichotomies which can lead us to a similar difficulty: difference/sameness, multiplicity/oneness, part/whole, and so on. In all these cases, the problem appears in similar form: how to think what is different/multiple/partial without presupposing the same/one/whole. For example: we can negate unity for the sake of the multiple, but what are we then calling a “multiple”? A quick examination of our commonsensical understanding of multiplicity will reveal that what we mean by multiple is . . . the sum of many unities. And thus we are back at our starting point. The attempt to negate one term and intrinsically determine its opposite ultimately reveals the dependence of the latter on the

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former.44 If we accept this limitation as a proof that thinking is intrinsically conditioned by the categories of identity, unity, and totalization—in such a way that we can only conceive of their opposites through the very presupposition of these same concepts—then difference, multiplicity, and partiality as such can only be thought, in the best of cases, as empty categories which delimit a critical operator. This leaves us with a methodological principle of prudence regarding the categories which positively organize thinking in general. This grammatical limitation is also present in the dialectics of the One and the Other, and it introduces a dangerous ambiguity into our theoretical framework, one that short-circuits metapsychological thinking and its conceptual model. This is because, in structural dialectical terms, the “other-in-the-other” of desire and the “other-in-the-other” of the external object could not but coincide: alterity without unity cannot be distinguished from another radical alterity, for this would mean that we are rather operating with the “one-of-the-other.” Nor can it be other to pure otherness, that is, it cannot be the “other-of-the-other,” because that would only produce a chimera which was previously refuted by Lacan as implying a phantasmatically removed position.45 This means that we have, in fact, two arguments running on top of each other in Lacan’s theory of the object a, guaranteeing its formal torsion of psychic space. On the one hand, this torsion is an affirmative new result for metapsychology—and by extension, for the clinic—derived from a wager on the power of thought to conceive a nonsubjective basis for subjectivity and desire. On the other hand, Lacanian metapsychology is capable of formalizing this result only via a restriction of thinking in general, one that is not derived from psychoanalytic experience, but from the very grammar of structural dialectics and the conceptual precedence it gives to otherness as a primitive term. At the same time that Lacan’s philosophical commitments were paramount for him to maintain that we can further explore the desubjective constitution of the subject, they also constrained his theory to rely on what we will call a “proof by impotence.” Because a certain conceptual model cannot think the distinction between two instances of radical alterity—for this would entail within this model that they are not radically other to each other to begin with—we conclude that this distinction cannot be made. The impotence of the model counts as the potency of the proof. What this entails is that the same movement that led Lacan to propose an amazing expansion of the space of clinical interventions also carries over into our metapsychological theory an unforeseen conceptual limit: if the object a is irreducibly other, and if thinking can only grasp what is radically other as a break or interruption of identifications,

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totalities, and unities, then the object a can only remain a negative concept in metapsychology. This is, in the last instance, the reason why, for Lacan, the unconscious must be conceived of as an “ethical” instance,46 and not as an epistemological concept: if thinking is incapable of grasping the inner determinations of the “other-in-the-other,” then all that is left is for us to turn this conceptual impotence into a property of the object a itself and to adopt a critical position toward any thinking that disavows it. In other words, that which is irreducibly other in alterity only has an ontological status in the clinic—where the status of the real as impossible does in fact widen the reach of analytic listening, allowing us to treat as contingent and singular what could be seen as “normal” solutions for the impasses of desire. At the level of psychoanalytic theory, this alterity remains privative, functioning as an epistemological limit that cannot be further developed, lest we run the risk of “suturing the real” under too much theoretical consistency. The limitations of this theory are further revealed by the poverty of the inner structure of its formal models. Though there is definitely a didactic value in Lacan’s attempts to formalize the object a with the help of topology—for example, through references to topological structures such as the Möbius strip, the torus, or the cross-cap—the fact is, all these models only formalize the object a as a missing point, that is, they are all encoded into different formalisms not as part of their mathematical structures, but as what is absent in them. The problem is that the status of this “erasure” is not itself mathematical, for there is nothing “missing” in the structure of a non-orientable one-sided surface or in the infinite point included in a projective plane. Even if a Möbius strip defies our intuitions about Euclidean space, it is only when this structure is embedded in a three-dimensional space, and visualized as an image, that we could perhaps say that something has been “left out” of it. We can recognize here a different strategy than the one Lacan adopted in the case of the unary trait, when he first derived from the set theoretical treatment of multiples an authorization to expand the reach of analytic metapsychology, and later tried to inquire into the set theoretical basis of number theory in order to further develop his intuitions.47 In contradistinction, we must rather observe that the choice to “encode” the object a into these topological models as a nonmathematical inconsistency parasitizing their formal consistency, rather than trusting mathematics’ capacity to consistently write the inconsistent,48 leads us to a theoretical closure rather than an opening, since we cannot learn anything new about the metapsychological function of the object a from the rigorous mathematical manipulation of these topological surfaces.

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4. From Feminine Enjoyment . . . Most Lacanians would retort at this point that Lacan most certainly did not remain committed to “structural dialectics” and that Lacanian thinking does not find a halting point at the vicissitudes of the “other-in-theother.” And there are good reasons to argue in this direction, since we do find in Lacan’s late teaching a theory which seeks to formalize a partition with this radical alterity, while exploring the limits of the signifier as a model: Lacan’s theory of sexuation. The theory of the “non-all” can be seen as a more affirmative counterpart to the theory of the object a. Not only does it seem like undeniable proof of Lacan’s break with the logic of the signifier,49—insofar as it privileges the sexed body and a new characterization of enjoyment—but it also constitutes an attempt to think the formal indistinction between two instances of the “other-in-the-other,” turning the impossibility of consistently writing this partition into the defining feature of sexual difference.50 Lacan’s theory of sexuation introduced a crucial development in the practice of psychoanalysis, because it expanded our comprehension of the ways in which something might escape or elude signification within analysis. Taking up his previous concept of the “phallic signifier” as the “signifier of enjoyment”51 —the signifier which points to an enjoyment interdicted by language—Lacan formalized two different ways in which the “outside” of signification might emerge within the signifying process. The “phallic function” basically writes the fact that, given a certain element “x,” this transformation outputs a new element “Φ(x),” which is itself a possible value for the function, in indefinite iteration. There is no signifier which would lead us “outside” of this transformative space: the domain of speech acts is closed under the phallic function,52 a closure we call castration. It is crucial to note that, quite early on in his conceptualization of these formulas, Lacan was already very clear about the fact that “functions are determined from the standpoint of a given discourse”53—that is, the phallic function has a specific domain, the field composed of possible values for the variable “x.” This is an important proviso, because the relation between “function” and “field” is not only an inaugural theme of Lacan’s early teaching—just consider “Function and Field of Speech and Language,” from 1953—it will later on play a major part in our discussion of these late results of Lacanian theory. Here, the discourse that delimits the domain of this function is the analyst’s discourse54—that is, the “mass of two” in which the “reporting function”55 has been suspended: the values of “x” are, therefore, speech acts within an analytic setting—speech

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Figure 7.7

Figure 7.8

which, trapped under free association, can be modeled by the logic of the signifier. Once the domain of the phallic function is determined, the theory of sexuation defines two different ways that this loss remains articulated—in fact, produced—as an impossible enjoyment, within the transformative operations of signification. The so-called “masculine” side of the formulas (figure 7.7) combines two apparently contradictory statements: there is an “x” for which the phallic function does not obtain, and the phallic function obtains for every “x.” The “feminine” side of the formulas (figure 7.8) introduces a logical novelty—the negation of a quantifier—in order to state the following: there is no “x” for which the phallic function does not obtain, and the phallic function does not obtain for every “x.” The formulas of sexuation are arguably the first psychoanalytic theory to consider sexual difference within the constrained space of speech in analysis, with no reference to external states of affairs. They introduce a distinction into the otherwise indiscernible realm of the “otherin-the-other,” a partition which cannot relate what it differentiates, since we cannot take recourse here to the “one-in-the-other” when dealing with inherent determinations of radical alterity. All that it remains possible to formalize, while accepting the limits of the dialectics of the One and the Other, are the different articulations between this dialectics itself and its limit point. We are now beginning to delimit an uncharted territory by defining the reach of our capacity to map it. And, as we will see, the strategy to differentiate between the two sides of the formulas actually requires Lacan to indirectly recuperate the original distinction, at play in Freud’s theory of ideals, between the real of the enclosed psychic space and the real of the “external” world. The first two formulas define what Lacan calls “phallic enjoyment”56— the usual way that enjoyment parasitizes the signifying function of speech: no speech act in analysis escapes the function of signification, but what is articulated within this space is that there is something outside of it. This

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is similar to the famous painting of a veil that writes into the visible space the presence of something that is not visible. The contradiction in the two statements delimiting this logical space helps to make the status of this exception more precise, for it is not the case that something is left out, positively lost to the signifier, or interdicted by it, but rather that something is signified as lost. Hence the need to simultaneously write the closure of the domain—Φ(x) obtains for every “x,”—as well as determine the “internal exclusion” of the exception—there is an “x” for which it does not obtain. This additional statement determines that the restriction of the function’s extension is itself a statement to which the function applies: it is something expressible within the phallic space. The logic of phallic enjoyment had already been fully developed by Lacan in previous years; it was his theory of “surplus enjoyment,” developed in his sixteenth and seventeenth seminars, which had already formalized this intricate relation between signification, what is structurally lost to speech, and how some indirect satisfaction can be achieved through this very loss.57 Lacan’s earlier reference to the Fibonacci sequence attested to this, wherein the “logical genesis of surplus enjoyment”58 was to be modeled by the fact that, even though the function which rules over this number sequence always results in an integer, the longer we run this series, the more the ratio between the current number and the previous one approaches an “absent” real number constant, namely the golden ratio. While this real number is inaccessible to the Fibonacci function—we will never arrive at it as the result of applying the function to a previous number—its determinate value is indirectly implicated in the sequence’s transformative space; there is no number in the Fibonacci sequence which is not part of its domain of application, but there is a number that, although implicated and produced by the function, remains inaccessible to it. However, if the logic of the “extimate” point had already been developed by Lacan at that point, the great novelty introduced here was the reformulation of this result within an expanded model that also allowed for another logic of enjoyment to be formalized. The famous logic of the “non-all,” or “feminine enjoyment,” was a new contribution, with no clear basis in Freud’s work, and, above all else, it testifies to the importance of Lacan’s theory of sexuation. Whereas the phallic logic locates the “otherin-the-other” in an “internal exclusion” to the clinic setting—very much in line with the theories of the phantasm and of the object a—the logic of “non-all” makes an inventive use of logical quantifiers in order to affirm that it is thinkable that otherness might emerge, not as the interdiction of an exceptional enjoyment, but as an otherness inherent to the domain of the function to itself. This idea is captured by the contradiction between

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the two formulas we saw before: the first one claims that there is no “x” for which the function Φ(x) does not obtain, while the second one states that it is not for every “x” that the function obtains. No specific “x” is singled out, no exception; it is the very reach of a universal statement (“there is no x . . .”) which is restricted. It is important to note that the role of the second clause in both pairs of formulas is to counteract the uncontrolled inferences that we could derive from the first statement of each. In the first case, of masculine or phallic enjoyment, the statement that “there is an exception to castration” could lead us to infer that some determinate “x” positively falls outside of it, which the second clause prevents from being the case, circumscribing this otherness to a paradoxical point within the space of the phallic function. In the case of the logic of the “non-all,” the first statement should allow us to infer the absolute coverage of the function, but the second statement restricts this universality in a novel way: not by affirming the existence of an exceptional “x” to castration, but by negating the verification of its complete reach.59 The difference between these two logics is clarified when we realize that Lacan silently reintroduces here the difference between the real of psychic space—the “other-in-the-other” that functions as a cause of desire’s structural dissatisfaction—and the real that Freud marked with an “x” in his theory of ideals—the radical alterity of the “thing” beyond its representational apprehension. This is a difference which the grammar of “structural dialectics” had a hard time maintaining without implying a “pre-symbolic” referent. Even though the materialist stakes of Lacan’s theory depend on the coincidence of these two gaps, the question of which of the two gaps overdetermines this superposition still remained unaddressed. For example, we can now see that the logic of phallic enjoyment effects this coincidence by generalizing the properties of the psychic real over those of indifferent otherness: “what is not the signifier” exists only insofar as it remains marked within the signifying chain as a stumbling block that is then displaced to a phantasmatic exception with no actual existence. On the other hand, the logic of the non-all gives precedence to the “external x” of Freud’s schema, submerging the enclosed space of signification itself into the world’s exteriority to signification. In this schema we are always already on the outside: there is no place to deposit an exception to signification, but there is also no way to affirm the consistent closure of the space under this function. The theory of sexuation recuperates, then, something of Freud’s original separation between two “reals,” but it does so without giving ground on the realization that, if the other remains the primitive term in the dialectics of signification, then we cannot distinguish between these

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two logical articulations of radical alterity—in other words, the partition of the “other-in-the-other” cannot produce a relation between what it partitions. In short, we have a set partitioned between A and B, but we cannot arrive at B by negating A: B is not the complement of A, it is not the same as not-A, and vice versa. We saw that the second clause of each pair of formulas limits the inferential reach of the former: (1.1) we posit that there is an exception, (1.2) in a field with no outside; then (2.1) we posit there is no exception, (2.2) in a field with no consistent closure. But the second pair of formulas (1.2 and 2.2) also functions as an impediment to the inference of a complementarity between the two logics of enjoyment, as if the “non-all” was the complementary negation of the phallic logic. Even if it remains present only as a virtual or indirect exception, the “x” that negates Φ(x) could be seen as the inscription, within phallic enjoyment, of what non-phallic enjoyment would be: considered from within phallic logic, feminine enjoyment would be an exception to castration; it would have access to a satisfaction that bypasses the mediation of the signifier. It is precisely by being able to affirmatively write down the logic of feminine enjoyment as one which undermines the very marker of an exception to castration that Lacan guarantees the noncomplementarity of the two logics, hence making this formalism compatible with his previous results concerning the “other-in-the-other”; that is, any partition beyond the indiscernibility of two radical forms of otherness would not be able to determinately distinguish them.

5. . . . to the Existence of the Infinite What is most striking here is that even though Lacan was clearly breaking with the constraints of structural dialectics, pushing psychoanalytic thinking further beyond the logic of the signifier, the theory of sexuation is also where the grip of these ideological commitments underpinning metapsychology remains most palpable. We have already seen how these constraints become legible, for example, when we distinguish the theory of the object a from the model in which it was developed. At the level of metapsychological thinking, Lacan pointed to a materialist reading of subjectivity, challenging what were until then transcendental limitations on clinical intervention. However, at the level of the model through which this thinking articulates itself, the theory of the object a relies on a “proof by impotence” in order to guarantee the negative coincidence between the outside and the inside of psychic space, stopping short of consistently formalizing what it nonetheless strives to think. By

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short-circuiting these two registers, Lacan opened up analytic experience to contingency and variation in the same measure that he impeded psychoanalytic theory from extracting further conceptual insights from this development. Now, the theory of sexuation should also be read in these two registers—distinguishing the theory from its model—and what is surprising is that, at the farthest reaches of Lacan’s late thinking, we suddenly reencounter that same impasse which had already been at stake in the early polemic between Jacques-Alain Miller and Alain Badiou concerning the relation between the logic of the signifier and mathematical logic. That is, we can pinpoint a place where Lacan prevents us from regionalizing certain analytic claims, as well as from extracting their consequences, by adopting a philosophical approach to mathematical logic that is motivated by those same ontological commitments which he supposedly had already surpassed by this point in his thinking. We owe, once again, to Alain Badiou the explicit formulation of this impasse. In a text published in 1992 called “Subject and Infinity,” but originally titled “The Position of Infinity in the Splitting of the Subject,”60 Badiou returns to the same themes of his earlier debate with Miller— addressing the difference between mathematical practice and its philosophical apprehension, the importance of proper modeling strategies, and the issue of the appropriate domain of psychoanalytic claims—in a direct confrontation with Lacan and his formulas of sexuation. However, rather than merely proposing a critical counter-example to the unrestricted adoption of the logic of the signifier as a general matrix for discursivity—as in his critique of “Suture”—Badiou actually recognizes a fruitful and unexplored opening in Lacan’s metapsychology. This is a point of passage which, as we intend to show, accomplishes two things: first, it invites us to retain the merits of structural dialectics within an even broader framework, one which privileges infinity over otherness; and, second, it allows us to locate, within this expanded model, a place and function for the institution of new ideas within Lacanian thinking. The kernel of Badiou’s argument in “Subject and Infinity” revolves around Lacan’s inability to follow modern mathematics on its own terms. When we previously discussed the Lacanian theory of the unary trait, we showed how Lacan recognized in the extensional treatment of multiplicities in modern set theory a proof that, at the least, it is thinkable to posit, within psychoanalysis itself, the existence of an operator which distinguishes a certain heterogeneous bundle without thereby unifying it under a common representation. His strategy was to open up metapsychology to a new operator by recognizing the power of mathematical thinking to challenge our previous philosophical preconceptions over

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how multiplicities can be conceptualized. Now, when it comes to axiomatic set theory’s claim to transfinite sets, Lacan takes a step back and adopts a nonmathematical approach to these mathematical results, interpreting them through a philosophical perspective that restricts our capacity to derive new operators for psychoanalysis. The problem here is that the recourse to infinity is a necessary condition for the formulas of sexuation—for the logic of the “non-all”—to model what Lacan was interested in. As Lacan puts it in Encore: In that logic, on the basis of the fact that one can write “not every x is inscribed in Φ(x)” one deduces by way of implication that there is an x that contradicts it. But that is true on one sole condition, which is that, in the whole or the not-whole in question, we are dealing with the finite. Regarding that which is finite, there is not simply an implication, but a strict equivalence. . . . But we could, on the contrary, be dealing with the infinite. Then it is no longer from the perspective of extension that we must take up the not-whole. When I say that woman is notwhole and that this is why I cannot say “Woman,” it is precisely because I raise the question of an enjoyment that, with respect to everything that can be used in the function Φ(x), is in the realm of the infinite. Now, as soon as you are dealing with an infinite set, you cannot posit that the not-whole implies the existence of something that is produced on the basis of a negation or contradiction. You can, at a pinch, posit it as an indeterminate existence. But as we know from the extension of mathematical logic which is qualified as intuitionist, to posit a “there exists” one must be able to construct it, that is, know how to find where that existence is.61

Let us move through this passage slowly, so that we can also follow Badiou’s subtle critique. First of all, Lacan defends that it is because we are “dealing with the infinite” that, in his formulas, we cannot deduce from the statement “it is not for every x that Φ(x) obtains” the complement that some “x” is in exception to it. And this is true: for example, given the set of all natural numbers—an infinite set—it does not follow from the construction of a finite partition of it, say the set of the first ten numbers, that we are any closer to constructing the set containing a complement of that partition, since it remains indeterminate. This is why Lacan says that, if the phallic function operates on an infinite set, then “you cannot posit that the non-whole implies the existence of something that is produced on the basis of a negation.” The negation of a partition of this set, the part in which Φ(x) obtains, does not give us a measure of its counterpart. This first use of infinite sets is, in fact, perfectly consistent with

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Lacan’s earlier use of Cantor when defining the concept of the unary trait. But this is where the problem arises, for Lacan wants to draw from Cantor’s concept of actual infinity—from infinity taken as a determined set—its logical consequences without abiding by its ontological ones: yes, we cannot determine feminine enjoyment from a negative relation to phallic enjoyment—we have therefore found the means to write their non-relation—but Lacan then has recourse to a philosophical debate over the validity of a really existing mathematical result—since transfinite sets are perfectly consistent and operational within contemporary set theory62 —in order to prevent psychoanalysis from espousing the existence of this infinite realm and extracting consequences from its inner structure. This is where Lacan evokes “intuitionism” and its restriction of mathematical existence to that which is directly constructible through finite means. Since transfinite numbers are not constructible out of the finite—they are axiomatically included in set theory—Lacan assigns to the infinite counterpart of the phallic function’s space the status of an “indeterminate existence,” rather than accepting, with Cantor, the special determinations and formal consequences that accompany the full admission of an actually infinite set. Lacan’s recourse to intuitionism is in fact very similar to Miller’s early dependence on logicism when discussing Frege’s foundations of arithmetic. As Badiou had already pointed out back then, what we find is a confusion between mathematical practice and the “ideological representation of its own enterprise”;63 there is a willingness to define mathematical concepts not through their internal consistency, but by first selecting which extra-mathematical representation of their validity best fits the limits of the ideological representation of psychoanalysis itself. This is why intuitionism has a purely restrictive utility for Lacan in this passage, while, as a mathematical research program, intuitionism in fact produced several highly inventive proof strategies, plus complex logical spaces that leave nothing to the “indeterminate.”64 But none of that is useful for Lacan, nor have Lacanians mobilized these ideas in order to continue thinking the “nonall.”65 All that is maintained is intuitionism’s disapproval of transfinite mathematics based on the fact that, from the standpoint of an intuitionist philosophy, mathematics is a mental activity founded in our experience of the passage of time and, as a concrete mental procedure, it cannot legitimately make claims about the existence of the infinite through finite means, or adopt proof strategies that rely on reasoning via the absurd, determining the universality of a claim by proving that contradictions follow from the assumption of its negation. These two restrictions—on actual infinities and the law of noncontradiction—are therefore motivated by a foundational claim concerning the nature of mathematics, rather than by

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mathematical thinking itself. Similar to Miller’s theory of suture, Lacan seems to provisionally adopt a foundational standpoint that prevents the possibility that his own model might lead his thinking beyond the confines of what he is prepared to accept. But what would the consequences be for metapsychology if we followed the Cantorian thread to the end? Badiou interprets Lacan’s reticence to warrant actuality to infinity in the following way: When Lacan tells us that the infinity of the field of enjoyment presents an objection to negation, he means, I think, this: there is phallic enjoyment insofar as it is determined in an always finite fashion by the ineluctable effect of the function Φ(x). This enjoyment is somewhere, which also means that it is topologically determined as circumscribed, cut out, which is another way of naming its finitude. And then there is the other enjoyment, through which the woman position is inferred from the not-all. But, as this alterity is of the order of the infinite, it cannot be supposed to an existence that would repudiate castration. It is, as Lacan stated, too indeterminate to do that. Phallic enjoyment, finite and circumscribed, is predicated on the for-all, its for-all has a perimeter. But the feminine supplement is not finite; it does not complement the first enjoyment as would a determinate set. It is without perimeter: there is no perimeter of the non-all. And this is why it includes no existence that would be a product of the negation of the first enjoyment.66

This is, for Badiou, the underlying reason why Lacan needs to restrict the existence of actual infinity: stating the existence of something which does not fall under the phallic function would supposedly entail accepting the existence of a point outside of castration. After all, within structural dialectics the existence of something outside of the “function” of speech is also the existence of something outside of the “field” of language in general. It is here that the question of the enclosure of the clinical space acquires a central role for Lacanian metapsychology: Lacan has just found a way to articulate the effects of the psychic apparatus’s embedding in the radical otherness of the world, which is, as we have seen, precisely what the logic of the “non-all” allows us to formulate: a space with no exception, but a space with no consistent closure as well. Yet since Lacan does not define the domain of speech as the enclosure of the clinical space, but rather as the domain of language as such, when the existence of this indeterminate supplement is called into question, it is the existence of a non-mediated enjoyment that is at stake for him, rather than the indetermination of the clinical domain itself. If the “field” of which phallicism is the “function” is language as

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such, then this infinite supplement, which cannot be arrived at by Φ or by its negation, could only be located outside of language itself—which would entail a serious contradiction of the very principles of psychoanalysis. If, however, the field at stake here concerns only speech in analysis, as we have repeatedly argued throughout this investigation, then to posit the existence of an indeterminate extension—which we cannot arrive at by simply running the course of free association—does not need to point to something that is structurally inaccessible. This could also mean that it is currently outside of our reach, but it could become accessible to clinical work through an axiomatic institution. In short, by recognizing the regional status of speech in analysis, we would be able to equally recognize the articulation between “feminine enjoyment” and the axiomatic transformation of the domain of psychoanalysis itself—an articulation that is, in fact, more than documented in the history of psychoanalytic thinking. This aspect of the logic of feminine enjoyment is also where the primacy of the other in structural dialectics truly runs up against a wall. There is a long philosophical and theological tradition which defines infinity from the standpoint of otherness, so that the infinite is understood as “the other of the finite,” while the finite is “other to itself.”67 An integer is other to the number that precedes it and to the one that follows it, while the set of all integers is other to this finite series itself, which is why we cannot arrive at it by iteration, or by passing from one integer to the next, indefinitely. It remains inaccessible to the domain of operations over finite quantities. Within the realm of the finite, then, we would have operators—that we can add, multiply, and so on—which create a controlled space where a number “x” can be said to be other to a number “y,” but the infinite would be an untamed realm without determinations of its own—the unlimited, the apeiron, as the Greeks called it.68 Or, in Lacan’s case, a signifier “x” can be said to be other to its transformation into Φ(x), while a supplement which cannot be constructed by either the application or negation of Φ would be equally unlimited and untamed. If the domain of the finite is the domain of signifiers, then the inaccessible point of infinity would be beyond the signifier as such, and even if Lacan does want to introduce the inaccessible as an indeterminate and virtual reference within the phallic space, he rightfully does not want to give this beyond any unmediated or direct access, as we have seen. The issue is that this view equates the existence of infinite sets, or sets that are not accessible via the Φ function, with the existence of something absolutely excessive, namely an enjoyment that does not pass through the alterity of language—an equation which is a consequence of not thinking the infinite in its own terms, that is, of not accepting that actual infinity is more than the limit-point of the finite, but the opening to a whole group

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of functions other than Φ which delimit possible transformations over both countable and uncountable infinite sets.69 In fact, the very idea of sets was not developed by Cantor and others in order to address the “distinctive multiplicities” which Lacan had productively employed in his theory of the unary trait; rather, the whole point of set theory, from its earliest developments, was to use the set-based approach to quantities in order to probe into the determinations of infinite series without the need for an intuitive or geometrical support.70 This led to a set of investigations by Cantor that proved, for example, that not only can we think the inner determinations of the infinite by providing a proper demonstration of the fact that the set of all natural numbers is of the same cardinality as the set of all rational numbers, but we can actually think the distinction between different infinities, such as the countable cardinality of the natural numbers and the uncountable one of the real numbers. As Cantor showed, we can think and operate with an infinite series of transfinite numbers, and—as others further demonstrated—with a whole class of new inaccessible cardinal numbers above those.71 In short, the mathematical theory of infinity does not imply that, by accepting the existence of actual infinity, we are accepting the existence of an unconstrained domain. The transfinite numbers are themselves subjected to other functions (such as the power-set operation) and have their own limit-points (such as the large cardinal numbers that are inaccessible through exponentiation, etc.). Lacan, however, dismissed the transfinite number as “an object I would unhesitatingly qualify as mythical.”72 Our hypothesis is that Lacan’s rejection of actual infinities and their consequence for our metapsychological model—a rejection which led him to arbitrarily evoke an intuitionist philosophy as justification—stems from the early ideological presuppositions that were still active in his late thinking. Paramount among these presuppositions was the wider assumption that psychoanalysis deals with speech in general, and not with a restricted and artificial sort of speech, which only exists as such within the constraints of the analytic setting. This is the reason why the function of speech was conceived by Lacan, since very early in his teaching, as operating in the “field of language”; it is also the reason why, even if the analytic experience required him to push metapsychology toward a theory of multiple forms of otherness—as we have seen, with the passage from the object a to the logic of the “non-all”—he still avoided formal models which decomposed radical alterity such as inaccessibility for a given transformational space into more primitive terms. Here, as in the case of the adoption of actual infinite sets, and the decomposition of the “other-in-the-other” into the incommensurability between the finite and the infinite, we find two perfectly consistent and determinate concepts

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within set theory. To accept a model in which actual infinity is thinkable would require us to let go of structural dialectics once and for all and engage in the task of recomposing the entirety of metapsychology in a new grammar. Such a move would no doubt open the space for many new problems. For instance, the previous “proof by impotence,” which underlies the topological treatment of the object a, would have to be thoroughly revised, since we would simply not be able to state that we do not have the means to differentiate between what is inaccessible from a finite standpoint and the infinity of the external world. However, for our current purposes, the most crucial transformation that follows from this recomposition of metapsychology under the grammar of infinity concerns the possibility of finally distinguishing ideals from ideas.

6. Finite and Transfinite Psychoanalysis We have seen that, from within structural dialectics, the infinite can only be thought as the inaccessible, as being absolutely other to the finite, and therefore present only virtually, as an indirect supplement. Lacan indeed treats inaccessibility as an absolute rather than a relative property. For example, he explicitly states that, given that there is no 2 that can be engendered by means of operations over 1 and 0, that is, by adding or exponentiating them, we do not need to accept actual infinity, for the same inaccessibility is already at stake at the finite level!73 The strangeness of this claim is palpable. While it is true that, if we define the domain under certain constraints (here, the elements 0 and 1 and just these two operations), then some other number will be inaccessible to it, in this case, 2. But mathematical inaccessibility is a relative property74—it concerns the enclosure of an original domain and what operations we allow within it—it is not an absolute relation between a discernible domain and an absolutely removed and indeterminate term. To claim, as Lacan does, that the number 2 is inaccessible to a domain composed of {0,1} just as actual infinity is removed from the domain of the finite is simply not true. While we could easily construct an operator which would make it possible to move from this restricted domain onto its “other” by adding the operation of the power-set to our resources; there is no operation on the finite that would lead us to the transfinite. In order to move from the finite to the infinite we need a new axiom. The set of countable infinity—the first transfinite number—is not a result that set theory arrived at by the manipulation of other sets: it is rather instituted, introduced into the theory by an axiom that states:

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“there is a set to which the null set and every set that results from applying the successor function to any previously existing set belong.” In many ways, this additional axiom radically transforms set theory: for one, it gives a name to the very closure of the space of operations determined by the rest of set theory’s fundamental propositions—that is, it relativizes the enclosure of finite sets and all possible operations within this domain, since we can now name the set in which these transformations occur, rather than simply allow the limits of this space to coincide with the limits of our theoretical powers. But not only this: once we have access to the set of countable infinity, we can transpose operations that are perfectly determinate and constructible at a finite level onto the domain of the infinite; an extension which introduces an important errancy into set theory. Within the finite, for example, the operation of the power-set—the construction of a set containing all the parts of a previous one—gives us a determinate transformation. If we have a set A with 2 elements, such as {a, b}, then its power set P(A) will have 4 parts: [{ø}, {a}, {b}, {a, b}]: a set with n elements will have a power set with 2n elements. Within the infinite, however, even if we can still get two distinct sets, with determinate cardinalities, when we construct the power-set of the countable infinite—the denumerable infinite set “w” has a power-set P(w) of cardinality 2w, which is a different and uncountable infinite—we leave open a “gap.” Could there be other infinities between the set of the countable infinite and its power-set? This is what has become known as the “continuum hypothesis”75 and, today, we know that a very special sort of operation can be produced in this interstice. In the 1930s, the mathematician Kurt Gödel proved that it is possible to admit that there is no other cardinality hiding in between “w” and P(w). He did this not by deducing, as a theorem, a result, but through what is known as a “consistency proof”:76 he added to set theory a new axiom, the “constructibility axiom.”77 This axiom states that we will only accept new sets if we can construct them by defining their predicates. Since the power-set is the set of all possible parts of an original set—that is, the set of all parts we could distinguish in the original set by picking them out through predicates—this new axiom amounted to the direct addition, into set theory, of the very thing he was trying to show, that there is no set in between “w” and its power-set “P(w).” Having added this result as a new axiom, he then proved that the ensuing system is consistent and that no contradictions follow from this adoption. In short, Gödel did not derive the truth of Cantor’s hypothesis from the formal system such as it stood: he added a new hypothesis and experimented with its consequences. Finding no contradiction, he proved it to be consistent with the other axioms of set theory.

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What is truly remarkable is that, about thirty years later, the mathematician Paul Cohen managed to show, through a different consistency proof, that we can also negate the continuum hypothesis and still yield a consistent theory. By developing a revolutionary new technique called “forcing,”78 Cohen was able to show that, if we add an axiom to set theory that there are unconstructible sets, or sets that we cannot arrive at through fully determinable predicates and functions, we can still provide it with a model. In other words, we can create what he called generic subsets that increment the countable infinite without already being included in its power-set which contains all subsets produced by predicates over the original set. While this is not the place to go into the absolutely inventive mathematics needed to construct an unconstructible subset,79 what interests us above all is the fact that, by proving that the continuum hypothesis can also be negated and that non-predicative supplements to countable infinity can be produced—in fact, William Easton and others would show that there are an infinity of such supplements—Cohen showed that Cantor’s original hypothesis was an independent proposition to the formal system of set theory. The idea of an independent proposition—one that can be affirmed or negated, without compromising the consistency of the formal system at stake—is not exclusive to set theory, but it has profound relations to infinity. The most famous of such propositions, in fact, is the well-known “postulate of the parallels” in Euclidean geometry. For centuries, mathematicians tried to show that the statement that two straight lines “meet at infinity” was a necessary proposition of classical geometry, to be deduced from the other, more self-evident, axioms and postulates. However, in the nineteenth century, great mathematicians such as Lobachevsky, Bolyai, and others realized that we could suspend this postulate and still retain the inner consistency of geometrical space, producing a series of different non-Euclidean geometries, depending on which alternative proposition we added in its place. Formal systems that include infinity—itself a proposition which one could not derive from the “self-evidence” of any empirical source—often introduce an opening within mathematical formalisms through which other equally unmotivated propositions might be adopted and tested out, without anyone being able to assert beforehand the reach of its effects. The history of the continuum hypothesis also helps us to establish an important distinction when trying to expand the space of possibilities within a certain domain—a difference between two ways of transforming a theoretical framework: we can extend a certain theory’s reach by affirming a new necessary proposition (“x must be the case”)—or by negating the necessity of some already known restriction such as “we cannot say that y is

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always the case.” While the former proposition further determines what is invariant within that domain, the latter rather relativizes these invariances, showing that other arrangements are possible, even if they are not derivable from what we already deem as necessary. The independence of the continuum hypothesis in set theory, established by Gödel and Cohen, does exactly that: it shows that the constructibility axiom can consistently define a restriction over the models of set theory, one that cannot be proved wrong by finding a contradiction or exception to its rule. This does not imply that other additional axioms—which are indiscernible from within the constructible universe—could not lead to equally consistent set theoretical universes. Now, the strategy of independence proofs carries a striking similarity to the Lacanian logic of the non-all. As we have seen, the formulas which define feminine enjoyment state that there is no “x” for which the phallic function does not obtain and the phallic function does not obtain for every “x.” If we suspend Lacan’s extrinsic constraint over their interpretation—his appeal to intuitionism—and fully assume that these formulas presuppose an actually infinite set, we are then authorized to model the phallic function in terms of a commitment to the consistent, but not necessary, axiom of constructibility. Nothing requires us to maintain some other function that would produce a subset of “w” that is not already included in P(w), but nothing can prevent us from instituting the conditions for a function. In a very strict and consistent sense, we could say that actual infinity makes set theory “non-all”: it leaves undecidable the possibility that we supplement the space of possible subsets of “w” with still unknown ones. It neither determines what these new infinite subsets would be, nor does it guarantee the closure of the system under the power-set operation on “w.” If we were to model the formulas of sexuation without the restriction imposed by Lacan’s commitment to the primacy of otherness and to philosophical intuitionism over infinity, we would be able to maintain all the gains of the logic of the signifier without some of the limitations we have encountered thus far. First of all, by admitting the existence of actual infinity in our formal model, we are able to formally think the enclosure of our practice’s domain, since we would be able to think the countable infinity as the determinate domain in which the phallic function operates, while still noting that this domain is a restricted one. Accordingly, we would also be able to define inaccessibility as a relative rather than an absolute concept, since we can now show that some results which cannot be arrived at through finite means are nonetheless accessible through axiomatic affirmations. The axiom of infinity, by opening up thinking to the complex problems of the continuum hypothesis, also helps us do away with the notion that if something is beyond the reach of the finite it

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is, by consequence, untamed, unmediated, or beyond ruled constraints; it is the ideological commitments of structural dialectics which require us to think the infinite as being “outside” castration as a consequence of its being other to the finite, and therefore only externally determinable. Furthermore, the admission of actual infinity—and the subsequent break with the idea of otherness as a primitive term in our model—also leads us to extract new consequences from the logic of the “non-all.” The same movement that allows us to operate on the very enclosure of the space of finite and constructible sets—the axiom of infinity—is also the condition for us to think the possibility of functions that are incommensurate with the phallic function. For example, if we formalize Φ(x) as the power-set P(x), rather than as the successor function or the Fibonacci rule, as Lacan proposed, we could state that while no x in “w” is not counted by P(w)—for, as Gödel has shown, it is perfectly consistent to maintain that no subsets have been left out of our set-universe by adopting constructibility as an axiom—we cannot maintain that P(w) counts all possible “x” in “w”—for, as Cohen has shown, we could also create generic subsets that combine the infinite elements in “w” in ways that are “subtracted” or indiscernible from the constructible universe.80 Logically, this alternative works exactly like Lacan’s original formulation, but ontologically it allows for novelties to emerge from within the weakness of the phallic function to count all subsets out of its original domain. We do not assert that there are necessarily other ways for speech to be signified in analysis, but we also do not structurally interdict these either. Lacan, as well as many Lacanians, have treated Cantor’s invention of transfinite numbers as the invention of a “name,”81 suggesting that the end of analysis could be formalized as the moment when the analysand— until then trapped in the successive metonymic displacement of the “other-in-the-other,” always eluding signification—manages to reduce this displacement to its operative function that determines something of the Φ that rules over his enjoyment. At this point, the analysand can now give a name to the space in which these displacements happen. This process of naming is thought to function like the invention of the transfinite, since the axiom of infinity names the set of natural numbers—the space in which the successor function operates—by simply claiming that there exists a set N such that any natural number and its successor belong to it. Nowhere in the entire Lacanian corpus is the limitation of structural dialectics clearer than in our inability to distinguish the institution of a new axiom from the process of naming. A new name—a novel signifier— is a creation which remains strictly within the confines of operations which we already know. If Cantor had simply named the transfinite, it

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could have remained in a purely virtual or “mythical” status, for proper names can capture something indeterminate, but they cannot prompt us to start operating under the determinations of what they have named. The axiom of infinity does more than that: as a name, the infinite was already known in mathematics before Cantor, but it only became a mathematical concept because he was able to show that a series of new rules, problems, and structures follow from the novelties that follow from applying unions, exponentiations, correspondences, and other operations, to infinite sets. This is a “new signifier” that in fact also operates within a new logic. We are now able to arrive at new mathematical entities through this process, as well as new information about what we previously considered invariable or absolute about our set-universe, and which now reveals itself to be the effect of specific constraints on the power of set theory. If we transpose this distinction back into psychoanalysis, we could say that, while a name acts upon a particular analytic process, while leaving the function of signification untouched, the institution of a new axiom possibly transforms the very metapsychological domain itself, adding new determinations into the space it now organizes. It can prove that what was previously deemed necessary is only a possible restriction, or that other functions can be needed to formalize the movement of free association for some patients. The possibility of new axioms being formulated in an analysis—a possibility that is currently hidden within the theory of feminine enjoyment—is, therefore, the historical possibility of new psychoanalytic ideas. We have not done much more in this long reconstruction of the history of Lacanian metapsychology than to suggest a possible research project. Recomposing the main operators of Lacanian thinking within a new formal model is an exciting project that far exceeds the constraints of this investigation. But we hope to have shown that there are restrictions currently organizing Lacanian metapsychology which derive not from the bounds of clinical experience, but from the ideological presuppositions that accompany the a-critical adoption of the signifier as a model for speech in general. Our very tentative argument in favor of a Cantorian model for metapsychology has some benefits: first, it allows us to consistently talk about the space in which certain operations work, thus opening the possibility for thinking the role of the enclosure of the clinical space in the efficacy of free association. This also allows us to treat the “real” in historical as well as structural terms, since thinking the domain of a given operation is also to relativize the concept of the inaccessible—it can function as a limit-point—but this does not require us to maintain it as an ahistorical “impasse of formalization.” Finally, by formalizing the

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domain in which operations take place, as well as the relative status of what lies beyond this domain, we also find the resources to propose a metapsychological distinction between ideals and ideas. For both Freud and Lacan, an ideal was an operation which turned around the unary trait—the “one-in-the-other”—allowing us to give contours to the lack in desire (the “other-in-the-one”) and to more or less consistently partition the representations of the ideal ego (the one-inthe-one) and the ideal other (the one-of-the-other). Within our set theoretical model—which Lacan flirted with when developing the concept of the unary trait—we can now further qualify the unary trait: this “distinctive multiplicity” is a finite subset of the still inaccessible “external x,” the “other-in-the-other.” An ideal is the interpretation of the lack in desire from the standpoint of finitude, that is, from the standpoint of the universality of the phallic function. An idea, on the other hand, is the extraction of an infinite subset of “x”—an axiomatic and indiscernible split of a “portion” of radical alterity from within the “other-in-the-other”—which then interprets the lack in desire from the standpoint of a new unconstructible principle, relativizing the reach of the Φ function, and allowing for a consistency in the desiring subject that does not stem from the partitioning of the world between the ideal ego and the ideal other, but from the partition of metapsychology itself between the known and the new. These are not competing operators, evidently: they rather operate at different levels, since the logic of ideals is effective at the level of the individuating process of our psychic reality, in the maintenance of its boundaries against our restless embedding in the world. The logic of ideas refers to the maintenance of the boundaries of the clinical space itself, what we called the domain of the phallic function, which rules over the limits of what is significant and what is not under free association. The first is operative—following Freud’s own use of the terms—within the finite or terminable dimension of analysis: in the clinic we only deal in ideals and their underlying composition because we are firmly installed within the logic of a finite clinical session. The second, the idea, is only intelligible when analysis is considered historically, as a sequence that does not end at the end of a session or of an analytic process, but which has a wager to make on the future of psychoanalytic thinking as such. It is, thus, only at the level of the metapsychological model adopted by Lacan that these two operations seem to challenge each other. This is due to the underlying commitment of “structural dialectics” to the primitive status of otherness and its reduction of the historical dimension of analysis to its structural one, of its infinite and generic unfolding into the paradoxes of the virtual and indeterminate “ek-sistence” of what is not closed under phallicism. If we now lift the restriction on actual infinity that the logic of the

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signifier implies—due to its incapacity to conceive of the infinite as more than the unlimited—and accept that actual infinity marks, in our new metapsychological model, the place of still unknown ways that castration might operate, we could also point to a possible development within the theory of enjoyment. The still fragile notion of “feminine enjoyment” might have hidden within it the concept of a generic enjoyment, one that takes the limits of psychoanalysis itself for its object. It is there, perhaps, that “the signification of an infinite love may emerge.”82

8

The Idea of the Passe

A lot has been said about the intricacies of the end of analysis, but could a theory of the limit-point of an analytic sequence be complete if it does not also account for its first emergence, the first crossing of this transferential boundary, which is the very entry into analysis? If the status of desire at the point of “subjective destitution”1 has been amply discussed in psychoanalytic and philosophical literature, the same cannot be said about the equally enigmatic issue of how one passes from the so-called “interview process”2 to the establishment of a transferential bond. This is not to say that we do not understand the logic of transference, the role of the subject supposed to know, and the structural effects of free association of speech in analysis. Rather, the question concerns the passage from a speech informed by some state of affairs in the world—our ailments and suffering, our aspirations to become analysts ourselves or to abide by the cultural customs of some intellectual class, or whatever else that has prompted us to seek analysis—to a speech which suddenly has only its own associative thread to fall back on, even if it continues to speak of the same things. How is such a rupture between speech and its referents operated? Is there not, after all, a certain subjective destitution at play in the very engagement with the practice of analysis? It is quite interesting that Lacan decided to present a minimal formalization of the entry into analysis in the same text in which the theory of the passe was introduced, the “Proposition of 9 October 1967 on the Analyst of the School.” It is noteworthy that the very moment Lacan was concerned with developing a new vision of the end of analysis—one which is ready to wager so much on the proposition that the passage from analysand to analyst is at the center of the most rational form of guarantee a psychoanalytic institution can offer—was also the only time when he proposed a matheme for the establishment of transference (figure 8.1). In this chapter, we will attempt to show that there is a profound reason why this formalism—whose precise status is far from clear—was introduced together with Lacan’s theory of the school and the passe. Against the common understanding that Lacan’s “Proposition” constitutes an extra step in his thinking about the end of analysis, derivable and compatible with what came before—much like a new “theorem”—we will instead propose that it entails a thorough recomposition of the whole 176

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Figure 8.1

analytic process. This recomposition is approached from an entirely new proposition—in a process much more akin to the introduction of a new “axiom” into a theoretical space—whose overall consequences for the theory are still to be fully spelled out. Following this hypothesis, we will attempt to extract something like the idea of the passe out of the historical and theoretical constraints surrounding its original formulation.

1. The Impasses of the School-Form The “Proposition” states, right away, that it will introduce a solution to a structural problem in the psychoanalytic societies by proposing a transformation in their functioning, a change that would allow us to conceive of a “gradus” that is distinct from a “hierarchy.”3 Lacan’s concern with proposing a new form of guarantee for the practice of analysis might seem, at first, antithetical to his famous principle—in fact mentioned a few lines later—that “the psychoanalyst derives his authorization only from himself.”4 Why would Lacan claim that a new form of guarantee for the psychoanalyst is necessary if he simultaneously asserts—not only as an ideal principle, but as a matter of fact 5—that the authorization to practice analysis does not come from any external institutional mediator? There is, in fact, no contradiction here. Lacan distinguishes this authorization, which is already the “existing” situation, whether most institutions explicitly recognize it or not, from the “want [vouloir] to become responsible for the progress of the School, to become a psychoanalyst of its own experience [psychanalyste de son expérience même].”6 The theory of the gradus, then, supplements the existing situation of psychoanalysis by adding a different axis than that of the authorization to practice psychoanalysis: it connects the private practice—which an analyst already begins at his own risk—with the institutional development of psychoanalysis. This implies the possibility of registering, disseminating, and transmitting something new across several clinical settings. In other words, the gradus is offered as a means, for those who seek it, to articulate the finite sequence of clinical sessions and cases of any given analyst to the infinite continuation of analytic thinking, an articulation which, in return, informs clinical practice itself, for an analyst then becomes “a

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psychoanalyst of [the school’s] own experience,” that is, a psychoanalyst at least partially determined by the experience that has been gathered and formalized through his institution. This important supplement— condensed within the ambivalence of the genitive—articulates the movement from clinical work to the “progress of the School” back to the clinical level, framing the very practice of psychoanalysis. Lacan intervenes, therefore, in a scenario where both the formal guarantee—based on a hierarchy within psychoanalytic societies—and the real authorization to practice analysis, which is not derived from others, were already in place and interacted in often paradoxical ways. For example, in most psychoanalytic societies, in order to be recognized as an analyst one had to undergo a certain number of hours of clinical supervision, but in order to have cases in need of supervision, one already had to practice psychoanalysis! It was by first recognizing that “there is a real at stake in the training of analysts,” namely, that analysands must already authorize themselves as analysts in order to undergo the formal process of becoming analysts and that “existing societies are founded on this real,” even if “this real produces its own misrecognition,” that Lacan could then propose a new way to connect the clinical and institutional dimensions of actually existing psychoanalytic practice. The first marker of this new knotting is, however, not the passe, as a specific form of guarantee of an analysis’s termination, but Lacan’s initial decision to found a school rather than another psychoanalytic society; that is, the decision to give a more active role to research and theoretical innovation in didactic psychoanalysis. Though this decision already points to the intuition that the historical advancement of metapsychological theory is part of the very circuit which also binds clinical practice and the analytic institution, it is also here that we see both Lacanian ideology and Lacan’s own personal stake in the history of psychoanalysis cloud what was truly essential about this insight. First of all, what were the grounds for Lacan to claim that, due to the fact that “the only interests a society has are scientific ones,”7 no such association could have an interest in a nonhierarchical form of guarantee? The school-form does suggest a more direct connection with knowledge and training than a “society,” but it also implies a very specific relation to knowledge, filled with hierarchical presuppositions—a clear distinction between who is learning and who is learned, who is “catching up” with knowledge and who is in condition to evaluate this development. A school is precisely the place where the “gradus” is submitted to a preestablished hierarchy—teachers evaluate students, who can never become equal to their teachers, but only replace them over time.8 Scientific communities, on the other hand, for all their complicated preconditions

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and impasses—from constraints imposed by funding, through highereducation access and inner power struggles9 —do strive, in their very logic, to submit hierarchies to the contingent outcomes of the pursuit of knowledge, to a “gradus” that is achieved only through research and contributions to thought. A scientific community is one which not only (ideally) submits the hierarchy to the logic of discoveries, but one in which the logic of experimental confirmation—requiring the possibility of repeating results by different scientists—is itself informed and conditioned by the collective: what cannot be repeated by others cannot be said to be truly known.10 In this sense, even if Lacan opted to found a school in order to highlight that participating in the transformation of the very idea of psychoanalysis is a constitutive aspect of the formation of analysts, the divide between necessarily hierarchical scientific societies, on the one side, and the school as an institution, on the other, is highly arbitrary. It rather points to certain prejudices embedded in the Lacanian theory of science, where actually existing scientific activity is portrayed as a formalist practice incapable of dealing with its own “real” and is indelibly seduced by the pursuit of a “total knowledge”11—a theory of science which therefore says very little about the actual structure and problems of scientific communities. But the founding of a school also brings another issue to the fore, something that is quite evident in the “Proposition,” namely, that when Lacan tries to account for the allegiance of others to his project, he speaks indistinctively of his own teaching—which he (rightfully) qualifies as being “without rival” in that it alone “speaks of what is psychoanalysis”—and of psychoanalytic thinking itself.12 While it is certainly true that, at that time, Lacan’s teaching constituted perhaps the only site in France where one dared to call into question what psychoanalysis actually is, thus piercing a hole in the stale orthodoxy, there are important consequences to treating his teaching and psychoanalytic theory as such as somehow indefinitely interchangeable. The most crucial consequence is that one might mistake the reason why so many people considered his teaching “valuable enough, even essential enough”13 to prefer to stick with Lacan in his new adventure rather than accepting the benefits of remaining with the International Psychoanalytic Association. While Lacan seemed content with the idea that his work was positively recognized by this group as being the great contribution to psychoanalysis that it most certainly is, we should not dismiss the possibility that what attracted everyone was that through this contribution psychoanalysis was once again open to thought. The first interpretation places the emphasis on what we came to know through Lacan’s new conceptualizations, and justifies that, against the

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ossified “societies,” an institution driven by the dissemination of this newfound knowledge should be formed—a “school,” subsuming the continuation of psychoanalytic thinking under the auspices of a teaching, one in which a gradus is, ultimately, a form of verification of the student’s knowledge of Lacan’s theory. The second interpretation, however, inverts this vector, treating Lacan’s genius as a proof of the historical openness of analytic theory and placing future analysts on a potentially “equal footing” with Lacan himself, since the idea of a gradus organizes the relation of belonging to the institution in terms of the repetition—on whatever scale—of Lacan’s own gesture: to have made himself responsible for the progress of psychoanalysis. It should also be said that this alternative reading also has the benefit of allowing us to openly recognize that most of us still fail to grasp, as so many of his students did at the time, exactly what it is that Lacan was teaching, something which never prevented anyone— on the contrary!—from desiring to engage with his thinking and with the Lacanian community. There is, then, a certain underlying tension between the concept of the school, which binds the clinical, the institutional, and the conceptual dimensions of psychoanalysis around Lacan’s teaching—that is, around a knowledge that the training analyst should acquire—and the idea of the passe, which binds these three domains around the participation in psychoanalytic thinking—around a knowledge that the community of analysts might learn from the practice of analysis. Evidently, these two contradictory vectors are not mutually exclusive—since teaching can leave a space for new contributions and new metapsychological insights which do require institutional dissemination—but rather place Lacan’s “Proposition” in line with the productive contradictions that troubled Freud in “Terminable and Interminable Analysis.” However, lacking the means to articulate a consistent standpoint from which analysts and analysands could be counted together without the corollary of counter-transference, that is, lacking the means to think the generic dimension of the analytic institution, we cannot but locate this tension through the deformations it produced in Lacan’s conceptualizations.

2. The Infinite Supposition of a Subject After claiming that the current state of analytic societies has prevented the proper articulation of “the termination, the object, and the aim”14 of psychoanalytic practice, Lacan begins to reconstruct the connection between these three terms through a description of the “two moments

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of their linking-up”: psychoanalysis in extension—defined as “everything that is summed up by the function of our School in so far as it presents psychoanalysis to the world,” and psychoanalysis in intension, which concerns didactic psychoanalysis, defined as what “prepares the operators” for its extensional counterpart. First of all, this distinction should not be mixed up with another one proposed by Lacan in the “Acte de Foundation,” the founding text of his school. Here, Lacan makes a distinction between “pure” and “applied” psychoanalysis, between “the praxis and doctrine of psychoanalysis proper,” on the one hand, and “therapeutics and medical clinic,” on the other.15 The distinction between extension and intension does not necessarily refer to different areas of psychoanalytic intervention—the clinical and the academic, for example—but to two “moments” of the psychoanalytic practice; two distinct emphases on the expression “psychoanalyst of the School.” This latter distinction helps us clarify the articulation between “the termination, the object, and the aim” of psychoanalysis. After all, the school presents psychoanalysis to the world first and foremost through the maintenance of a clinical practice oriented by the desire of the analyst, which allows the “the object” of psychoanalysis to concretely emerge in the world. But the results of the clinic, oriented by the emergence of this same desire on the side of the analysand—which, in the “Proposition,” becomes an index of the “termination” of analysis—condition the form and reach of this novelty. Therefore, the intensive and the extensive moments locate the clinical process within a larger dynamic, helping us understand what is at stake in the additional axis of a “gradus” to that of the analyst’s “authorization” of himself.16 Lacan treats the extensive and the intensive moments of psychoanalysis as referring to the outer bounds of analytic practice itself, rather than to different regions of psychoanalytic activity. In evoking this distinction, he defines the two “points of linking-up, in which our organs of guarantee are to function . . . the beginning and the end of psychoanalysis, as in chess.”17 The crossing-points where extension becomes intension and vice versa are thus defined as the two boundaries of transference: its establishment and its dissolution or “liquidation.” We know that the theory of the passe introduces a new approach to the second of these limit-points, proposing a procedure to verify and connect the end of training analysis (intension) to the presentation and dissemination of psychoanalysis (extension). But before Lacan addresses this point of “linking up,” he turns to the establishment of transference: “In the beginning of psychoanalysis is the transference”—but what brings this about? Lacan is satisfied to claim that it “is there by the grace of him . . . we shall call the psychoanalysand” and that “we do not

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have to account for what conditions it. At least not here.”18 It is rather remarkable to observe the asymmetrical qualities of these two limit-points. Very much like the two limits we addressed at the beginning of the last chapter—that between the real of desire and the real of the “external object” in Freud’s schema—Lacan seems content in the “Proposition” to address the entry into analysis only from the standpoint of its inner structure, from transference as a given, whereas the exit-point is examined and detailed from both sides. As we will see, the theory of the passe is able to bind, in a remarkable way, the last moves of an analysis with the institutional and nonclinical domains that link up to it. The “grace” with which the analysand begets psychoanalysis with its beginning is therefore not unlike the explicitly theological “grace” which, for Lacan, introduces the signifier into the world.19 But even if Lacan does not want to discuss the conditions of transference in the “Proposition,” he goes as far as saying what does not condition it: intersubjectivity. The establishment of transference does not take place through the mutual encounter of two subjects: recuperating his theory of the subject supposed to know, Lacan calls on us to “wipe away the subjective from this subject”; that is, there is no process of mutual recognition between subjects at the beginning of analysis, no scene where analyst and analysand “recognize each other” in their respective positions, because the subject at stake in transference “supposes nothing, he is supposed.” The subject supposed to know is “the pivot on which everything to do with the transference is hinged” and it emerges as an “objection to intersubjectivity”;20 a cut in the process of mutual recognition between two subjective standpoints that puts a blind spot into circulation within the clinical setting, an otherness which the speaker can only address and signify through the supposition that it is visible and thinkable from the standpoint of the other. This “objection to intersubjectivity” frames a non-relation between analysand and analyst which then functions as the background against which it becomes possible to interpret the transferential relations that emerge in its place. In chapter 5 we examined how the fetishism of the commodity, which is responsible for the “annihilation of signification” brought about by the monetary exchange, participates in the consistency of this nonrelation at the very basis of the clinical setting. Our purpose then was not to argue that psychoanalysis always requires payment, as if the only way for the analyst’s desire to be constituted is by being initially removed from circulation by money’s infinite fungibility. Our argument was rather that, when we analyze the structure of the monetary relation, it becomes clear that it is not the economic exchange per se, but its recourse to the infinite which plays an important part in the establishment of this cut between

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the intersubjective and the clinical framework, between speech in general and speech in analysis. In chapter 6, we left the reference to the infinite aside and focused on demonstrating that there is a correlation between the ways in which such a cut away from the intersubjective is produced and the form and constraints of the transferential space thus constituted. By examining, from a materialist perspective, the practice which sustains the analyst in the position of an “other thinker” that is compatible with the “other thought” that parasitizes free association, we were able to show that different transferential spaces are possible. It was only in chapter 7, after a long discussion on the limits of the very grammar of Lacanian metapsychology, that we reintroduced the infinite and its relation to the boundaries of the clinical space. At the end of the chapter, we ventured the hypothesis that, once we lift the restriction on formally adopting actual infinity into our metapsychological model, the formulas of sexuation can be reinterpreted as two forms of articulating signification and the limits of psychoanalysis. The first, defined by the phallic function, wanders within the clinical space and constructs, within it, the signification of its exception: there is nothing that cannot be signified, hence all values of the phallic function are constructible, but one of these values states that something has been left out, something remains inaccessible to it. The second logic, which Lacan calls “feminine,” never constructs the statement of an exception, never marks the outer boundary of signification, but rather accepts infinite subsets within the domain of its function, thus expanding the “size” of the clinical space itself and thereby challenging its boundary. Because this so-called “feminine enjoyment” is what attests, within the clinic, to the relative limits of signification under transference—in opposition to the absolute limit of the phallic logic—we proposed that it should rather be called the generic function. We are now in a position to bring together the results of chapters 5 through 7 in our investigation of Lacan’s discussion of the entry-point of analysis in the “Proposition.” In the conclusion to his reconstruction of the theory of the subject supposed to know, and right before he moves on to discuss the end game of analysis, Lacan proposes to “write the supposed of this subject.” In other words, Lacan sought to probe into the black box of the concept which has been situated at the very first moment of the transferential framework.21 This construction, repeated as figure 8.2, seems simple enough. The “subject supposed” is written as a small “s” under the bar. Above it, “S”—the “signifier of transference”—which operates this supposition, by implying another signifier which Lacan calls “Sq,” or “any signifier.” In producing the implication of a signifier (Sq) by another (S), a subject

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Figure 8.2

is supposed (s). But not any subject, but a subject supposed to know, and Lacan writes this supposed knowledge in a very telling way, as “(S1, S2, S3 . . . Sn)” that is, as an indefinite series of signifiers. Lacan adds that this “signifier whatsoever” Sq does not need to be part of the knowledge that is supposed, though it might appear there, which suggests that the list of Sn below the bar are not qualitatively distinct from regular signifiers. Even though most psychoanalytic literature treats this small formalism as a regular matheme, there is nothing usual about it. Jean Allouch, with his usual courage, was one of the few to point out that “this configuration, as well as all the terms in it, are all tampered”: First, the S, the signifier of transference. It is only designated as a signifier by anticipation. Precisely, it does not represent a subject (the only subject at stake in an analysis) to another signifier. If it did, there would no longer be a matheme of transference, no longer anything to place below this signifier but an “$.” Hence, it is a signifier that awaits its symbolization. It can only be a sign. There is no other choice: either it is a signifier or a sign, and since it remains non-symbolized, it can only be a sign. So we must apply Lacan’s definition of the sign: S represents the “signifier of transference” to Jacques Lacan. And this is why he calls the other signifier, Sq, as “any” signifier. It is not “any whatsoever,” as such, but because we are interdicted from writing it any other way, since, in every transference, it is not “any,” but singular. . . . The small “s” also sounds phony. This is not the subject properly speaking—if it were, that would imply that two subjects are at stake in analysis (the subject properly speaking and the one that is implicated in the signifier of transference), but Lacan already claimed in his “Proposition” that transference “objects to intersubjectivity.” Thus, this “s” is the mark of a scarecrow of the subject, waiting for its own delinquency. As for the set of unconscious signifiers, they are also not symbolised, they will only be so when an interpretation, an event, comes to connect them.22

We can retain everything from Allouch’s critique of the matheme of transference—everything, with the exception of his conclusion. The point where we diverge from Allouch is condensed in the statement: “there is no other choice: either it is a signifier or a sign,” which we can only

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accept with the proviso “. . . within the bounds of the logic of the signifier.” Outside of the limits of structural dialectics, however, we have another name for the production of a formula (S) that supposes an indefinite knowledge (S1, S2, S3 . . . Sn) that we cannot directly arrive at, but whose adoption informs the consistency of any entity within the produced domain (Sq) while also producing immediate consequences (S → Sq) in the formalism. This formula requires the introduction of a subject that exists only as supposed (s) and which in no way can be confused with the subject at stake in the operational space transformed by the adoption of this new proposition ($). Furthermore, as in Lacan’s mathemes, this formula also connects the subject to the closure of a domain composed of indefinitely many signifiers. This is an apt description of the axiom of infinity: “there is a set S such that the empty set belongs to it, plus, for any element s that belongs to S, its successor also belongs to S∙—formally written as: ∃S, ∙ ∈ S ⋀ {sn ∈ S → [sn ∪ (sn)] ∈ S}

The axiom of infinity can only be instituted, that is, it affirms the existence of an infinite set which we could not have directly “symbolized,” that is, it could never have been arrived at by successive applications of operators we already have at the finite level. This axiom states: whatever it is that you choose as an element, this element (Sn) plus the set that contains it (Sn + 1 = Sn ∪ {Sn}), will also belong to S. What scandalized philosophers and mathematicians—and, it seems, Lacan as well—was that, since it is impossible for us to count up to infinity, such a set requires the supposition of a nonsubjective subject that can think and operate with it,23 a subject that can only be instituted but never identified with. The logic of the axiom of infinity models a crucial feature of the logic of the subject supposed to know as presented in chapter 6: a thought that is other to a thinker (here, a set that is other to what is finitely constructible) can only be made thinkable—inscribed in the formal system—through the instituted mediation of an other of a certain form—a proposition that repeats, as an operation, the cut that separates the finite from the infinite, that is, an axiom. The axiom of infinity is polemical precisely because it produces a cut distinguishing the mathematician from the subject of mathematics,24 adding an underivable statement into our formal system (S1, S2, S3 . . . Sn), which nonetheless expands and transforms its provable consequences (S → Sq). From the point of view of our hypothesis, the “matheme of transference” turns out to be an index that the finite trajectory (S → Sq) is framed by the institution of an infinite domain that no particular thinker but the institution can think (s(S1, S2, S3 . . . Sn)).25 It writes, finally, that a decision

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concerning the infinite domain of signifiers precedes the production of “any signifier”: the infinite does, after all, precede and determine the other. But infinity cannot be thought by the “other thinker” that emerges within the domain of the signifier, or by the other within transference. The infinite in psychoanalysis is instituted, and thus is institutionally thought. This allows us to correct Allouch’s bold reading of the “Proposition” on another point: it is not that S represents the indefinite reach of transference “to Jacques Lacan,” but rather that it represents the clinical space to psychoanalytic thinking. The singular symbolization of the bounds of transference—the passage from the supposed series of signifiers (S1, S2, S3 . . . Sn) to the actual collection of signifiers of an analysis (S1, S2, S3 . . . Sn)—happens at the end of analysis, and this is precisely the moment when an analytic trajectory is represented to the school and the analytic community. In this reading, rather than functioning as a sign that implicates Lacan’s personal desire—as Allouch suggests in his book—the “axiom” of transference inscribes, at the beginning of transference, the possibility that an analytic process might come to contribute to the transformation of psychoanalysis itself: that every finite clinical procedure take place within the infinite open history of analytic thinking. In fact, our approach allows us to better understand why Lacan is compelled—after introducing this strange formula—to make an ambivalent reference to Cantor and transfinite numbers. After claiming that “it is clear that of the supposed knowledge [the analyst] knows nothing” but that “this in no way authorizes the psychoanalyst to be satisfied in the knowledge that he knows nothing, for what is at issue is what he has come to know,” Lacan tries to account for the relation between this indeterminate supposition—“the unknown” that is “arranged as the framework of knowledge”—and the clinical trajectory through a direct mention of the invention of transfinite numbers: What is astonishing is that with this one finds something—the transfinite numbers, for example. What were they, before? I indicate here their relationship to the desire that gave them their consistency. It is worth thinking about the experience of a Cantor, an experience that was not entirely cost-free, in order to suggest the order, even if it is not transfinite, in which the desire of the psychoanalyst is situated.26

Do we not find here, once more, Lacan’s impasse when it comes to accepting the nonsubjective subject of mathematics? The “desire that gave [transfinite numbers] their consistency” is in no way determining of their consistency as new mathematical entities. It is true that Cantor had a hard time sustaining the philosophical consequences that he personally

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extracted from the admittance of the transfinite into mathematics and that they presented implications which do not directly follow from their mathematical consequences. But the subject immanently implicated in mathematical activity, specifically in transfinite set theory, is spread throughout the pages which circulate within the mathematical community that sought to extract its consequences: Dedekind, Kronecker, Russell, Zermelo, Gödel, Cohen, and so on. Lacan seeks a metaphor in Cantor’s desire as a mathematician for the desire of the psychoanalyst that is verifiable at the end of analysis. This is a desire that would emerge at the point where the finite crosses into the infinite; an impossible crossing point, underivable, and which would only be supported by the process of “naming.” The reference to transfinite numbers does capture something important concerning the way the indeterminate wager on unconscious knowledge frames the clinical setting. However, the lack of conceptual resources that would enable Lacan to distinguish between the mathematician’s desire and the desire of mathematics—the desire for the “maximality of thinking”27 striving toward the consistency of as many mathematical structures as a formalism can uphold—prevents him from distinguishing the desire of the analyst, which only concerns a finite analytic sequence, from the desire which participates in the institution of the idea of psychoanalysis. Hence, Lacan recognizes in the transfinite “the order . . . in which the desire of the analyst is situated,” but he cannot accept that it requires a support that is irreducible to a speaking being’s individual desire.

3. What Is a Clinic? We have proposed that the clinical setting is framed by an infinite stake, something that only psychoanalysis as an institution can propose and think, informing the entry and end-point of analysis. We can now advance the claim that this institutional cut conditioning the establishment of transference is not static but historical, and by extension, that the production of new analysts transforms the frame of clinical work. To accept this wager, however, is to accept that the intensive and the extensive dimensions of psychoanalysis are rather inverted in Lacan’s schema: actual training in psychoanalysis is extensive, since every new analytic trajectory has the opportunity of contributing to the transformation of what psychoanalysis is, whereas the intensive moment happens at the very entry point of analysis, as the institution of a wager on the infinite consequences of the unconscious.

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Still, it is not enough to suggest this abstractly—that is, by reducing clinical work to a homogeneous trajectory, or simply as the in-between of entry and exit points—and to claim that, somehow, the clinical space is informed by this institutional wager. Our hypothesis, it must be stressed, is not simply that we can think the clinic from a different perspective. It is rather that, when seen from a different perspective, clinical practice itself is this thinking. All our different attempts at rendering the conditions of the clinical space intelligible depend, finally, on the possibility of demonstrating that what happens on the points of “linking-up” of transference effectively informs the constraints of what can take place within the transference. This challenge requires us to investigate the possible transit between the structure of the clinical space and the structure of its outer bounds, a task which requires us to address a rather complicated question: what, after all, is a psychoanalytic clinic? The articulation between an indefinite or indeterminate wager— such as the one we located in the supposed underside of the “matheme” of transference—and the consistency of clinical experience is not, in fact, something which escaped Freud. Already in his “pre-psychoanalytic” text “Psychic (or Animic) Treatment,” we find intuitions concerning this strange condition of therapeutic work: An intelligible dissatisfaction with the frequent inadequacy of the help afforded by medical skill, and perhaps, too, an internal rebellion against the duress of scientific thought, which reflects the remorselessness of nature, have in all periods (and in our own once more) imposed a strange condition on the therapeutic powers alike of persons and of procedures. The necessary faith only emerges if the practitioner is not a doctor, if he can boast of having no knowledge of the scientific basis of therapeutics, if the procedure has not been subjected to accurate testing but is recommended by some popular prejudice. Hence it is that we find a swarm of “nature cures” and “nature healers,” who compete with physicians in the exercise of their profession and of whom we can at least say with some degree of certainty that they do far more harm than good. If this gives us grounds for blaming the patients’ faith, we must yet not be so ungrateful as to forget that the same force is constantly at work in support of our own medical efforts.28

At the origin of psychoanalysis, there was an insight into the productive dimension of an engagement with the indeterminate, an engagement which Freud recognized in others because he himself wasn’t excluded from it. And Freud’s claim that his scientific project would set about “restoring to words a part at least of their former magical power”29 further

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reinforces the need to consider psychoanalysis not only as a critical process, but also as an affirmative procedure, concerned with the inscription of a novelty in the world. In other words, perhaps the proper approach to the criticism—proposed by Foucault, Deleuze, and others—that psychoanalysis produces the subject that it simultaneously intends to treat, should be not to resist it, but to take it even further: psychoanalysis has discovered that one’s engagement with the yet-unknown has therapeutic effects. Following Christian Dunker’s seminal work, The Constitution of the Psychoanalytic Clinic,30 we would like to propose that the category of the clinic is one which articulates together four components: a semiology— a procedure for reading signs; a diagnostics—a procedure for interpreting signs ; an aetiology—that is, a theory of causation and determination; and, finally, a therapeutics—which is both a method of intervention and a theory of what it means to have succeeded in doing so, that is, a theory of what constitutes a cure. But perhaps even more importantly, the category of the clinic organizes these four components according to two fundamental rules: the principles of covariance and homogeneity.31 These two rules allow us to relate the four components as an abstract group, as depicted in figure 8.3. First of all, this means that a change in any one of the four clinical dimensions will lead to changes in the remaining ones. For example, in the medical clinic, if we start to consider certain new traits of the patient as significant indicators, this will affect our diagnosis, as well as how we

Figure 8.3

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intend to intervene in the causes of the disease and what consequences can be considered a sign of a successful treatment. This is the covariance condition. The second rule, that of homogeneity, is equally important; it states that there must be a material homogeneity between the site of intervention and the intervening principle. That is, if our aetiology singles out chemical imbalances as the cause of a certain condition, then our therapeutic principle of treatment will also be of a chemical nature. In other words, the homogeneity rule dictates that the treatment must have the same ontological consistency as what it treats. This is a principle we already encountered before when proposing “transferential materialism” in chapter 6. We will not go into the precise differences distinguishing the medical and the psychoanalytic clinics here. The premises of the modern medical clinic are well known and are clearly stated in Foucault’s The Birth of the Clinic32 and revised in Dunker’s work.33 In order to succinctly define the analytic subversion of these principles, however, it suffices to say that, by turning its attention from the visible physical body toward a specific sort of speech, psychoanalysis found that, as far as psychic suffering is concerned, the subject who is supposed to know—who is supposed to recognize the signs, supposed to tell the patient “you have such-and-such disease,” supposed to include the suffering into a causal chain connecting an early trauma to a current symptom, and supposed to expect the patient to adequate herself to a certain normative criterion of happiness or health—this subject is part of the pathology. In a certain sense, the frame of the medical clinic falls into what it is supposed to frame, just as the so-called “imaginary body”34—the speaking subject’s body as it is supposedly signified through one’s speech—becomes a localized construction.35 Still, throughout this subversive operation, the covariance rule is respected, given that the analyst must listen carefully to the invariances which characterize the otherness implicated in the patient’s speech in order to discern between radically different subjective structures, which, in turn, leads to very different approaches to the treatment, and so on. Moreover, the homogeneity rule is equally maintained: the hypothesis of the unconscious is, first and foremost, a hypothesis about the form of certain psychopathologies; pathologies which are made of an otherness inherent to speech itself, which Lacan termed “enjoyment.” The analytic punctuations, scansions, and interpretations must, therefore, be of the same form as what they treat. This is why Lacanian analysis privileges equivocity, non-sense, allusive figures, and silences: these are some of the recourses of language which have the same form of otherness as enjoyment and which are, therefore, capable of “dislodging” its fixation. This is what we must keep in mind as we proceed: first, the role of

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the Other as inherent to the structure of the analytic clinic; that is, the idea that the Other—which serves as the fixed point for correlations of signification, at the semiological level; for correlations of identification, at the diagnostic level; for processes of entailment, at the etiological level; and for the criteria for what “normal” means—is now included in the clinic. And second, we must keep in mind the shared consistency between the cause of pathologies associated with desire and the psychoanalytic act, the “Wagnerian” principle that “only the spear that inflicted the wound can heal it.”36 These two principles will later help us to evaluate in which ways the “termination” of analysis can possibly inform the constitution of its “object,” namely, the wager underlying the entry into analysis. Let us turn, now, to the theory of the passe as it is presented by Lacan in the “Proposition of 9 October 1967.” We come to it, nonetheless, with some partial results at hand: we are already aware of the inner tensions in Lacan’s proposal because we have seen that it falls short of clarifying the effect of this novel institutional step on further clinical practice. We have seen that both of these impasses bear relation to Lacan’s broader difficulty in working through the generic dimension of analytic thinking due to the limitations of his metapsychological model. This is, in fact, the core of the challenge ahead of us: to identify a dynamic that thinks as it is worked through in the complete circuit binding the clinic, the passe, and the possible transformations of our metapsychology. The invariants which organize this circuit compose what we will call the idea of the passe.

4. The Idea of the Passe An analysand crosses a certain threshold in his analysis after which “what is inessential in the supposed subject of knowledge is unveiled,” a destitution—a “desétre”—he is “ready to pay for . . . through reducing himself, himself and his name, to any given signifier.”37 This readiness to reject “the being that didn’t know the cause of its fantasy”—the subject supposed to know—also marks the moment at which the analysand “has finally become this supposed subject of knowledge.”38 Here, “the being of desire reunites with the being of knowledge,” as the analysand is in a position to communicate the desire to verify such supposed knowledge through the analytic school, formalizing the wish to undergo the procedure of the passe. Let us begin, then, by quoting extensively the famous and dense passage from the “Proposition” in which the mechanism of the passe is first described:

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Thus the end of psychoanalysis harbors naivete, which raises the question whether it must be taken as a guarantee in the passage to the desire to be a psychoanalyst. From where, then, could an accurate testimony on whoever crosses this pass be expected, if not from an other who, like him, is still this pass, namely in whom at this moment is present the désêtre where his psychoanalyst harbors the essence of what has been passed on to him like a bereavement, knowing thereby, like any other in the function of training analyst, that it will pass onto them, too. Who would be better able than this psychoanalysand in the pass to authenticate therein what it contains of the depressive position? We air there nothing about which, if one is not in it, one can take on airs. This is what I will shortly propose to you as the function to be conferred, for the demand to become an analyst of the School, upon certain people whom we will therein call “passers.” Each of them will have been chosen by an analyst of the School, he who can answer for what they are in that pass or for what they have become there—in short, still bound to the outcome of their personal experience. It is to them that a psychoanalysand, in order to have himself authorized as an analyst of the School, will speak about his analysis, and the testimony that they will be able to receive from the very heart of their own pass will be of a kind that no jury of agreement will ever collect. The decision of such a jury would therefore be enlightened by this, these witnesses of course not being judges. There is no need to point out that this proposition implies a cumulation of experience, its compilation and elaboration, an ordering of its varieties, a notation of its degrees. That liberties can emerge from the closing of an experience is due to the nature of deferred action in significance. In any case, this experience cannot be evaded. Its results must be communicated: to the School initially for criticism, and correlatively placed within reach of those societies which, as excluded as we have been by them, remain our concern nonetheless. Any functioning jury therefore cannot abstain from working on the doctrine, over and above its function of selection.39

Having crossed a crucial threshold of his analysis—which became widely known as the traversal of fantasy40—the analysand assumes the position of the passant. The passant must then give a testimony concerning the trajectory of his analysis to two other analysts who will listen to him and constitute themselves as passers of this testimony. Finally, the passers transmit this testimony to a jury, composed of three analysts of the school, that is, three

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Figure 8.4

members of the school who have already made themselves “responsible for the progress of the School” and are, therefore, in a position to turn the testimony into conceptually productive problems for psychoanalysis. It falls to this jury to authenticate the passe, nominating—or not—the passant as a psychoanalyst of the school himself. We could schematize this as shown in figure 8.4. The trajectory of the passe involves, therefore, one passant, two passers, and three jurors. This circuit further binds together different dimensions of psychoanalytic thinking: because it functions as the entry point to the community of analysts of the school, the passe is an institutional mechanism. But because this mechanism also functions as a verifiable point in the analytic trajectory of an analysand, it also endows the emergence of the desire of the analyst with a clinical import. Finally, because these two functions—the institutional guarantee and the end of analysis—are bound together through the process of purifying and transmitting an analytic testimony, the passe also functions as an input into metapsychology. It proposes, after all, a practical articulation of “the aim, object, and termination” of analysis. In figure 8.5 we shift the presentation of this diagram—from the positions to the transformations that bind them—in order to bring to light the four different logics which together compose this procedure. We have, therefore, four logical moments: the logic of the transference, of traversal, of the testimony, and of transmission. Before we analyze each of these moments in some detail—an investigation which should provide us with important new information regarding the idea of the passe as such—we can already discern some interesting properties of this general schema.

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Figure 8.5

The first aspect of this construction worth mentioning is that we have, quite clearly, a division in the diagram between the instances articulated around an impasse (the first two) and those around the passe, the last ones. The repetition of the deadlock of enjoyment, which is characteristic of the symptomatic repetition under transference, and the assumption of a constitutive impasse of sexuation, which is at stake in the traversal of fantasy, are the two markers of a transformation which takes place between the analysand and the analyst, within the transference and at its limit-point. What the theory of the passe introduces—given that the first two moments already had ample theorization in Lacan’s teaching—is a new form of connection between what precedes and what follows from the traversal of fantasy: conditioning the assumption of an impasse by what passes through it. The testimony—which challenges the ineffability of the act through narration from passant to passers, and the transmission—which tests if the effectivity of the act survives beyond the singular position of enunciation of the subject at stake, through the transmission between passers and jury—both “filter” the end of analysis by exposing it to artificial and controlled mediations that exceed the bounds of the clinical space. The most immediate consequence of this articulation is the special status that the logic of traversal and the end of analysis come to acquire through the passe. It is common in Lacanian literature to think of the traversal of fantasy, or the end of analysis in general, as a rupture point, which distinguishes a before and after; the inside and the outside of the transference. This reading not only has ample support among psychoanalysts, especially those who reject the theory of the passe, but also among political philosophers of Lacanian inclinations, who find in the logic of

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traversal a good analogy for the breaking-away from ideological fantasies.41 However, within the mechanism of the passe, the place of the logic of traversal becomes rather ambivalent. As we will see in what follows, the limit-point of analysis is both a moment of passage—after it, we are invited to address the school and to testify to our own analytic trajectory—and a suspended moment, for the meaning of what has taken place there is conditioned by the capacity of our testimony to outlive our enunciation of it, by being transmissible from passers to jury. The nomination, after all, does not take place at the point of traversal. If that were the case, the testimony and the transmission would merely report on a previous accomplishment. Both of these supplementary logical moments rather constitute the process of nomination, that is, they participate in the consistency of what has taken place at the end-point of one’s analytic experience. How this is possible, and what it says about the analytic experience as a whole, is something we will address once we have discussed each of these logics in more detail. A quick look at this schema already reveals a certain torsion or connection between its segments, since the passage from transference to traversal is the passage from a sequential logic to that of a limit-point, while the movement from the testimony to the transmission goes in the inverse direction: a “totalizing” moment first, followed by a sequential one. As we investigate each logic in more detail, this inversion will reveal itself to be quite rich in consequences, suggesting interrelations between the two sides of the schema, as well as an important result concerning the two principles of the clinic: covariance and homogeneity, which we introduced with the help of Dunker’s work. Ultimately, the complete presentation of the idea of the passe—which links up not only the traversal with the testimony, but the transmission back with transference—should clarify why it is that the constructive practices of the passe also condition the efficacy of the critical practices of the impasse. 4.1 Logic of Transference The logic of transference is, at its core, a sequential logic, a serial process constituted by a repetitive displacement whose rule eludes it. This is why it has been modeled by Lacan and others as an iterative succession of numerical progressions, such as Peano’s axiomatic of arithmetic, where, departing from a given element, we construct the following one by reapplying a certain function. Under transference, each significant fragment of speech acquires its signification from what is said next, so that signification takes for its next input what it itself previously produced. To take up the terms we used in our previous chapter, we can call this

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function the “phallic function.” The phallus is defined by Lacan as the “signifier of enjoyment,” and we can notate its domain as “E.” For every x in E, the function Φ obtains a value Φ(x), which itself falls within the possible new inputs for the function, so that Φ(Φ(x)) is an equally derivable value. Let us call S the subset of E that is the image of the function Φ. If E is infinite, that is, if there are infinite possible inputs for Φ, S is also infinite, even if there are possible inputs of the function which are never produced by it, and therefore do not belong to S. Let us call “a” the elements which are only discernible, at this point, as belonging to the complement set A of S: a ∈ A, A = E \ S. The elements a—which do not belong to S—remain forever removed from the iteration of Φ: Φ(x) → Φ(Φ(x)) → Φ(Φ(Φ(x))) → . . . a

We could write this in the following way: ∀x ∈ E, Φ(x) ∈ E ⋏ S : Φ(E) ∃a ∈ E, a ⊂ E \ S

Lacan’s proposal to think the logic of the signifier in terms of the Fibonacci sequence,42 or Miller’s use of Frege and Peano,43 all capture the relation between repetition, excess, and iteration in this schema. As we previously mentioned, the Fibonacci sequence—1 1 2 3 5 8 13 . . . and so on—is defined by the recursive function Fn(x) = Fn–1(x) + Fn–2(x), which separates a subset S from the set of natural numbers. The set S is potentially infinite, so even if we always apply the same rule, we cannot substitute it for its complete extension. Plus, its iterative application also produces, as a ratio between Fn(x) and Fn–1(x), a constant that is infinitely approximated, but never fully determined, which is a number that does not belong to S (or to the set of natural numbers, in fact), the famous “golden ratio.” The logic of transference seems to derive its basic structure, then, from the process of failed signification, that is, different attempts to grasp and signify a certain repeating elusive point that is stitched together out of the analysand’s speech in analysis. Our domain, the transferential scene, is fundamentally woven through that in speech which resists the speaker, namely the relation between Φ(x) and a—and an iterative rule which, although immanent to speech, cannot emerge as such in what is said, but only through the mediation of the analyst’s interventions and scansions, which negatively demarcate the contours of S. However, as we have stressed many times throughout our research, the crucial determination of this logic stems from its underlying

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indetermination:44 the negative rule which conditions it, the rule of free association, which suspends any extrinsic characterization of what should be said in analysis. The rule of free association is called “the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis” because it has the effect of promoting the emergence of another rule, one immanent to the analysand’s speech. Whatever repeats in analysis, given that it cannot be credited to a preestablished criterion of what should be said, becomes interpretable.45 As we have also seen, this interplay between the underlying indeterminate frame and the variables and invariants of speech also allows us to define the function of the subject supposed to know and the reality of transference as follows: the suspension of a clear rule of what is analytically significant transfers to the speaker the responsibility over the constants of her discourse, while, from within this indetermination, the speaker orients herself by supposing in the analyst a listener who would retain, in his silence, the true criteria of what is a significant speech. “Transferential interpretation” is precisely the name of an intervention that brings this other criterion into play, including it into the setting which was supposed to be framed by it, and thereby distinguishing the analytic clinic from psychological or medical settings. It is also here that the Lacanian logic of the signifier is most at home. Like no other metapsychological model before or after it, Lacan’s inventive use of structural linguistics and Hegelian philosophy—brought together in what we previously called “structural dialectics”—allowed him to propose a unified framework in which the constitution of the analytic experience, the centrality of speech, and our technical means of intervention were more strictly interrelated. As we have seen early on in our research, Lacan’s first profound intervention into analytic thinking was to stress that the analytic experience founded by Freud revolved around the patient’s testimony and that its main practical and theoretical resources derived from this, from the needs of understanding a “speech freed from the shackles of report.” The concept of the signifier, and the logic which Lacan derived from it, allowed him to model the analytic experience in such a way that the analyst was always already considered as part of the constitution of the signifier through the figure of otherness which mediates signification. Thus, the analyst could affect the signifying formations in the analysand’s speech through technical interventions (see figure 8.6). For our purposes, however, it is important to demonstrate that we can reconstruct the basic moments of this logic from the effects that the rule of free association produces within the space it frames. The “golden rule of psychoanalysis” can be decomposed into two main functions: its framing and legibility functions. By imposing an artificial rule “to speak

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Figure 8.6

freely,” free association frames an artificial domain, in which explicit normative commitments are momentarily suspended and speech becomes formalizable in the sense that it can only refer to itself. By imposing that something be said, that speech constitute a concrete discourse, free association renders legible both what varies and what remains invariant in speech. A “signifier” can be defined as an effect of these two functions: that which does not vary—when, against the background of normative suspension, it could vary—or that which varies too much—when, informed by the opportunity to speak exactly as we please, it could remain invariant. These stand out, and become relevant and legible, even if we do not know what they mean. But a signifier is not merely a hieroglyph, a “letter”;46 because it is “significant,”47 it demands signification. At first, this is a demand to the analyst, who is interpellated as someone who should know the meaning of what is said, but, as an effect of the analyst’s continuous silence, it becomes a demand to the analysand himself, who must make do with the otherness that stands out in what was spoken. In this sense, the signifier is always in relation,48 and its relevance or strangeness is constantly covered up by the continuation of speech; a continuation that is mediated, however, by the silence of the analyst. As shown in figure 8.7, to isolate a signifier, the analyst can either end a session—mobilizing the framing function of free association in order to mark the artificial or arbitrary character of a fragment of speech—or she can interpret it—trying to render legible the enigma of repetition which underlies the significance of that speech. Even though this seems like a strange way to reconstruct the logic of transference, it is notable that it provides us with a technical or productive interpretation of the logic of the signifier, as shown in figure 8.8.

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Figure 8.7

Figure 8.8

The connection between the signifier and free association— between determination and indetermination within the transference— will be of service to us later on, especially since this articulation allows us to locate the clinical function of the infinite series of supposed signifiers at the lower left of the matheme of transference. For now, it suffices to note that the logic of transference is (1) defined by the process of signification immanent to speech in analysis, (2) that this iterative process continuously specifies a certain repeated failure to signify its own rules and its excess, (3) that what remains other to signification, and is indeed the motor of its iterative demand for signification, supposes an other

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Figure 8.9

space from which its determinations would be knowable, and (4) it is a logic in which scansions demarcate the existence of these intrinsic, but inaccessible, symbolic rules, which we call “transferential interpretation” (see figure 8.9). 4.2 Logic of Traversal The logic of the transference, as we have already seen, is operative from the moment that, through the establishment of the rule of free association, an absence starts to count within the clinical setting. At this moment we suspend any positive determination of what is necessarily significant in the analysand’s speech, and in this absence the contours of another significance start to appear. The rule of free association introduces an absence into our speech, an absence which renders legible certain surprising regularities in what we say and the way we say it, regularities which are themselves the product of the analysand’s attempt to answer to a demand

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that she supposes in the analyst. Lacan conceptualized the conclusive moment of an analysis as the moment when the analysand would be able to let go of this absence as a consistent referent point, an ideal point which organizes a “plane of identification”49 —the moment when “desire has resolved who it was that sustained the psychoanalysand in his operation.” At this point, the analysand “no longer wants to take up the option, that is, the remainder which as determining his division brings about his fall from fantasy and makes him destitute as a subject.” The traversal of the plane of identification is the traversal of this absence as a frame for the significance of one’s speech, and the traversal is articulated as a logical limit-point.50 The whole problem in this formulation is the following: how can one transform one’s position regarding an absence? A quick example of this difficulty should suffice. Consider the statement “there is no big Other.”51 If there is no big Other, then why are we negating it? To position oneself as being “outside” or “without” the big Other still requires us to indicate it as a point of reference. Furthermore, it is quite common in analysis to have the experience of being “suddenly” struck by the inexistence of the big Other, by some groundless opening—and this might very well be a way to remain identified with what we suppose an analyst wants from us (that is, to conclude that the big Other does not exist). Cynicism is born of nothing else.52 This is why the traversal of fantasy is not simply a process of negation, but a process of naming at the point of negation—it is the sudden positivity it acquires that functions as the emptying-out of its regular negative role. That is, the traversal of the plane of identification through the Other—of identifications sustained by the interplay between signification and its remainder—can only be attested to by a singular formula which codes into its formalism that very otherness or absence which was functional but inaccessible from within the analytic domain. In this way, it is not the speaker who finds himself outside the realm of the Other, but this otherness itself which is suddenly “measured,” given a perimeter and a situated determination. These two properties of the traversal—that it must inscribe in a formalism what was functional, but inexpressible from within it, and that this inscription is essentially an inventive construction rather than a mere deduction—led Jacques-Alain Miller, following Lacan’s remark on the transfinite in the “Proposition,” to suggest that this naming is analogous to the passage from the potential infinity of natural numbers to the first transfinite number.53 Just as the first transfinite ordinal would name the set of all natural numbers, so would the naming produced at the end of analysis formulate that constant which binds together all the possible values of Φ(x), determining its operational space by capturing something

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of its outer-margin, a.54 To follow this analogy a bit further, we could schematize it as such: {Φ(x) → (Φ(x)) → (Φ(Φ(x))) → . . . a} → N

This is a limit we can establish, without supposing the signification of a—that is, its inclusion into S—by assuming that we have established a measure for the partition A of S—the subset of all values of Φ—which is smaller than the set of all possible x in E itself. We notate N the “name,” which gives us this restriction on the space of elements that elude the Φ function: ∃N ⊂ E,S ⊂ N ⋏ a ⊂ N → a ∈ N \ S

In this way, the phallic function is limited not because we have determined its complete extension, but because we have named the closure of its operational domain. The impasse of signification is not overcome, but its very logic falls within what it frames: N does not capture a, but gives contours to the rule through which Φ(x) repeatedly misses it, and by missing it, constitutes it as a partition \ S of E, a partial object. This is what the “construction of fantasy”55 stands for: the reduction of the repeating failure to signify, which spans the sequential trajectory of analysis, into a formula which associates this failure—that is, the agalma or “it” which remains enigmatic or lost in our speech—with the absent or “other” rule which constantly revolved around it: In this change of tack where the subject sees the assurance he gets from this fantasy, in which each person’s window onto the real is constituted, capsize, what can be perceived is that the foothold of desire is nothing but that of a désêtre, disbeing. In this désêtre, what is inessential in the supposed subject of knowledge is unveiled, from which the psychoanalyst-to-come dedicates himself—or herself—to the agalma of the essence of desire, ready to pay for it through reducing himself, himself and his name, to any given signifier. For he has rejected the being that did not know the cause of its fantasy, at the very moment at which he has finally become this supposed subject of knowledge.56

If the rule of free association ties an absent Other to the rule of signification, the traversal of fantasy is a process in which a formula coined out of the concrete results of the associative process comes to substitute, and

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thereby destitute, the Other as the consistent guarantor of its effectivity. While it is true that something of the repetitions of speech do exceed the speaker, as there is otherness to this inherent rule, this otherness is shown to be distinct from an underlying guarantee or a limitless power. At this point, reduced to what resists identification—paying the price of being reduced to “any signifier”—the analysand has effectively (and immanently) demarcated the outer bounds of the transferential domain and, thereby, the bounds of a certain determining function of his subjective position. Two remarks are essential here. First of all, we do not need to assume that the production of such a formula capable of grasping something about the space of phallic determination of the subject is equivalent to the revelation of something which was always already predetermined from the outset of analysis. Much has been written on the question of whether Freud discovered or invented the unconscious, and the issue of the traversal of fantasy is the most concrete instance of this debate. What emerges at the end of analysis: is it the subject’s assumption of what always already determined him—a revelation—or is it the invention of some independent and novel means to organize and even consolidate possibly disparate determining factors into a coherent structure? This issue goes back to our previous comment on the ambivalence of the moment of traversal itself. Is it a point of passage or a suspended moment? Interpretations which approach the clinical procedure as being independent from the institution of psychoanalysis tend to conceive of the traversal as a unilateral movement, a breakthrough, after which we are already in a condition to formulate that which previously determined us. In this reading, the act of naming is conceived as a reduction that is immanent to the clinical procedure: analysis would come to an end when a certain iterative function meets its halting point, an obstacle that it discovers, rather than constructs. The alternative interpretation, however, maintains an ambivalent status of the traversal because it reads it as still depending on the testimony and the transmission stages of the procedure—both of which introduce a certain fictional or creative aspect to this reductive construction, suggesting that the operation which leads us from transference to the traversal is qualitatively distinct from the one ruling over the sequential logic of signification. Since this new operation—which Lacan tentatively called “the analytic act”57—interrupts the entailment logic of signification within transference, it also requires a different sort of space where its consequences could be evaluated, hence the qualitatively new space composed of passers, a jury, and the school. Furthermore, it is important to note that the naming of the underlying subset S, which “measures” the possible values for Φ(x), does not

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necessarily entail that we have entered the space of transfinite operations. Again, this naming hinges on the meaning of the passage from the space S to the name N. As we have repeatedly stated, to name and to propose a new axiom are not equivalent operations: the first might refer to a point that is inaccessible to a given formal space, writing its very otherness to that system into it, without thereby producing other operators. The second implies more than this, since its adoption brings out the otherness within otherwise primitive terms, introducing new, unforeseeable variations and possible new operators into the original formalism. Analogously, naming an inaccessible real number that is produced as a constant by the ratio of two natural numbers in the Fibonacci sequence does not entail developing means to calculate and operate within the real number line: between the naming of the golden ratio and the institution of the operational space of irrational numbers there is an unbridgeable gap.58 We have opted to highlight the traversal as a moment in a larger and more complex circuit, thereby preserving its ambivalent status as a limitpoint whose consistency depends on what follows from it. This means that certain aspects of the traversal can only be properly addressed by a contemplation of the idea of the passe as a whole. For now, let us then define the logic of traversal by its minimal determinations. This logical moment is defined (1) by the proposal of a formula which establishes a singular relation, constructed out of a particular analytic trajectory, between the phallic function and its remainder, a formula which allows us (2) to approach the failure of signification not only as an always displaced obstacle, but also as an object, as a certain non-constructible element a of E, inaccessible from Φ. The logic of traversal is also defined (3) by the liquidation of the transference, since the immanent rules of speech are now sustained without the maintenance of the subject supposed to know, and (4) by a process of subjective destitution, which Lacan called the “désêtre” of the being of the analyst by the analysand, to the point that he is “ready to pay for it through reducing himself, himself and his name, to any given signifier.” This is summarized in figure 8.10. At this point, the consistency of the Other—as the space of signification closed under Φ—has been challenged: the set N is able to account for something which is structurally other to S, while being indirectly implicated by it, namely a. But the status of this challenge is far from established: is the admission of this inconsistency, of an “extimate” point implicated, yet underivable within a certain formal system, the content of the passe or its condition? In other words, is the passe the process through which psychoanalysis leads us to the structural inconsistency of the Other, a point which, being structural, might be flexible in its presentations, but always essentially the same, or is it the process which weaves

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Figure 8.10

the historical consistency of psychoanalysis out of that which the Other is too weak to interdict? 4.3 The Logic of Testimony How can the testimony participate in the consistency of the process of traversal? The best way to introduce the logic of the testimony is to realize the strange inversion—or better, the coincidence—that it proposes between inconsistency and consistency. To put it quite bluntly, the testimony requires us to place ourselves precisely at the spot which the traversal has emptied out or destituted: if there is no big Other, then nothing prevents us from producing a consistent fiction of one’s analysis, tying the sequence to its limit-point. The consistency of the testimony does not contradict the point of inconsistency in signification, crossed at the end of analysis, but rather functions as its very proof. Strange as this may seem at first, this is exactly the logic at stake in Žižek’s theory of the “self-erasing Event”:59 an event which marks such a radical suspension of causation that its only effective vestige is the establishment of a self-causation by the subject in the guise of an external causation.

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But then, how could we distinguish the construction of the testimony from another attempt at signification under the constraints of the transferential logic? The first distinctive trait of the testimony is institutional; rather than addressing ourselves to the analyst as the subject supposed to be able to verify the meaning of our narrative, the testimony is a process that takes place between the analyst-to-be and the passers. With the aid of the conceptual resources we developed in chapter 6, we should be able to recognize that this scene is formally incongruous with the analytic setting. This is first of all due to its size-structure: in the testimony, we are addressing two people instead of one, which already entails that only a different form of otherness could actualize itself there, one that is not based on the supposition of a true knowledge, since the presence of two passers already introduces a variability at the level of what each could interpret in what is said. And second, the situation is unlike that of transference due to the position of the passers, who are not present in the condition of others capable of judging the testimony, and function rather as mediators between the passant and the jury to which the passers will later transmit what has been said. Neither is it a matter of signifying what has taken place—as in transference—nor of effecting a point of passage—as in the traversal: the logic of the testimony is essentially defined by a recomposition of these two previous moments under a new form of consistency, to be evaluated later through its transmissibility. Returning to our provisory formalism, we can say that the testimony constructs a selection out of N, a new subset—let us call it T—whose rule of construction cuts across the distinction between S and a. This means, first, that it cannot be governed by the phallic function—otherwise all of its values would fall within S—and, second, that we can no longer equate the part of N that eluded signification a with the inexpressible. To testify to the end of one’s analysis is not merely to “glue” the transferential sequence to the limit-point of traversal in a narrative, but to weave a new form of entailment connecting fragments of analysis, to present a new consistency woven from the inconsistent. Let us call 𝕿 the function which selects elements of N into T such that for every element x in S—the subset of phallic values—it associates an element of N not in S, that is, an element y in N \ S, which until now we notated as “a,” following Lacan, but which we are now in condition to decompose into a whole set of specific elements. ∃T ⊂ E, x ⊂ S ⋏ y ⊂ \ S → 𝕿(x, y) ∈ T

The function 𝕿(x, y) operates a torsion, an articulation of the transferential sequence and the limit-point of traversal into a selection which wagers on the completion of the potentially infinite sequence that preceded it, and

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which it now accounts for together with its indefinite limit-point. This is a process which in fact places the testimony as a substitute for something which does not exist: an Other capable of discerning the immanent rule of the analysand’s speech—an Other we previously indicated in the form of the corollary, which follows from the fact that a is not in S, that the set A = E \ S itself. This is what Lacan means when he says that, at the point of traversal, the analysand “becomes this supposed subject of knowledge”: we have seen that the subject supposed to know was written by Lacan, in the matheme of transference, as s(S1, S2, S3 . . . Sn)—as the subject supposed to count an infinity of signifiers, and hence knowing the full determination of the unconscious—and the testimony places the passant in precisely the position of this “s,” as someone able to account for a set T that includes elements which were inaccessible to the phallic function, since the y in 𝕿(x, y) comes from outside of S. The subject of the testimony is therefore not the subject of the signifier—the subject implicated and sutured by signifiers—but the formalization of the analysis itself, very much like the subject of mathematics which exceeds the mathematician. In a certain sense, the supposition that the analyst would be capable of judging our trajectory in analysis is now confirmed, but the analysand himself is the one who occupies that place, both as the one determined by a certain formula and as the one who alone guarantees its consistency. Lacan calls this the “hystorization”—a hysteric history—of analysis:60 a sort of return to transference, if that term can still be maintained here, without an analyst as reference or mediator; instead, the institution of psychoanalysis as such fills the role.61 The testimony attests to the analysand’s unconscious determinations by providing the passers, to whom this narration is addressed, with a selection of symptoms, dreams, and scenes that are shown to be tied together by a certain reduced formula: 𝕿(x, y). However, at the same time, the testimony may also contribute to the determinations of the unconscious itself, since the function constructed out of the selections from analysis explores the space of possible non-phallic functions, namely the space of possible models of the unconscious. If the testimony of the passe is possible, then psychoanalysis does not only attest to the inconsistency of the Other—the fact that, structurally, the phallic function implies what it cannot account for—but also participates in the consistency of an other “other”—that is, it participates in the historical development of psychoanalytic thinking itself. Such an other “other” is after all formally capable of recognizing the existence of not-all-phallic functions which are thinkable, and therefore listenable, in speech. The logic of the testimony (see figure 8.11) thus (1) returns to the

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Figure 8.11

inconsistency of the Other through a recourse to formal consistency, but this process is distinctive from signification because (2) it recuperates the analytic trajectory from the standpoint of its actual infinity, binding the potentially infinite iteration of signification and its remainder; (3) it addresses itself not to the analyst, but to the passers, who both numerically and as mediators, conform a new form of otherness that places the psychoanalytic institution as the testimony’s address; and (4) it substitutes the suture of the subject (transference) and the subjective destitution (traversal) for the nonsubjective subject of the analytic formalism itself. Finally, by considering that the testimony places the function 𝕿 where Φ first operated, we can also add to our schema an additional relation: let the mapping 𝓒 between T and S—the co-domains of 𝕿 and Φ, respectively—stand for the possibility that, before the end of an analysis, a fragment of clinical practice might come to function as a case study. This mapping consists of a partial totalization of the logic of transference which does not constitute a limit-point, but which, by addressing itself to the community of psychoanalysts, operates as if such a point has already been crossed.

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4.4 Logic of Transmission Let us quickly recapitulate, in figure 8.12, the three previous moments in our schema through a recourse to the formalism we have developed thus far. It is important to note in this composite schema that each partial step has introduced new formal resources—new sets, new mappings— building on top of what has already been established by coding into the formalism, at every further step of the passe, those elements which previously resisted formalization. This is not to say that the “real” of enjoyment is suddenly symbolized: within the clinical space, defined by the logics of transference and traversal, the complementary set E \ S, to which a belongs, remains inaccessible to the operation of signification. Rather, what happens in this broader process is that this inaccessibility is regionalized: being inaccessible becomes the property of a given domain under specific operations, not an absolute property or resistance to any formalism: not E \ S, but N \ S. From the alternative standpoint of the institution of psychoanalysis, to which the testimony is addressed, what could not be

Figure 8.12

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reached by the phallic function can be reintroduced via a different operator, under a new domain, very much like the axiom of infinity, whose institution suddenly allows us to think and operate on the inner structure of transfinite numbers. Another way to grasp this cumulative effect is to consider its retroactive implications: there will have been transference if the unconscious reality enacted in clinical space can be traversed just as there will have been a traversal if one can address a testimony of one’s analytic trajectory to analysts in a non-transferential setting. Now, the logic of the testimony also relies on what follows from it. As we just saw, the passers who receive the testimony are not there in the role of its judges, but as intermediaries: their function is not to evaluate the analysand’s narrative, but to collect it in order to pass it along, severing the ties between the outcome of an analysis and the position of enunciation of the analysand. Up to this point, every new logical moment was supported by the analysand’s own speech, but the moment of transmission takes place in the absence of the passant. This new development inverts the relation between speech and absence which determined the analytic procedure thus far: just as the absent Other made itself felt in the distortions of the analysand’s speech within transference, so should the singularity of the passant’s trajectory make itself legible in her absence, as the testimony is passed around. The severing of the ties between the analyst-to-be and her testimony means, first of all, that the jury is in no condition to evaluate the relation between the enunciated and the enunciation of the testimony—it is not the speaker’s position that is under scrutiny at this point. Having already filtered what remains of an analytic trajectory outside of transference— through the address of a testimony to passers—the logic of transmission now places the testimony under a different test: to evaluate if something remains invariant in the testimony under different enunciations—in other words, to verify if the end of analysis has produced a thought. In fact, not only the nomination of a given analyst of the school, but the very institution of a nonhierarchical gradus also hinges on the possibility of a new invariance forcing itself through testimony’s subsequent transmission. The hierarchical dynamic of psychoanalytic societies functions by conditioning someone’s inclusion into the analytic community on the judgment of well-established analysts who already belong to it. Besides the evident facilitation of power struggles and personal preferences, such an organizational model favors the increasing homogenization of the analytic institution, since the evaluation process requires the comparison of each candidate’s didactic analysis with some previously established parameter. The standard choice for a time-based criterion, that is, a certain amount of hours spent under analysis, or under supervision, only reflects the difficulty of finding any positive common ground among analysts,

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even if more orthodox approaches to Freudian psychoanalysis posit the universality of certain subjective structures, such as the Oedipal complex, and therefore might propose to evaluate the outcome of each candidate’s personal analysis more qualitatively. We have already seen that the gradus was supposed to introduce a new functioning into Lacan’s school, effecting a more immanent articulation between the termination of analysis and the nomination of new analysts, one that is mediated by a testimony from the analysand himself. As such, the gradus shifts the basis of the institutional guarantee from extrinsic and formal parameters—such as a clinical “mileage”—to an evaluation centered on the actual outcome of each training analysis. The potential for democratization contained in this proposal is far-reaching, and it makes itself clearly felt in the complaints that were addressed to Lacan by those analysts who would lose a certain distinctive ascendance over others if the school were to institute the passe as its guarantee mechanism.62 However, since the beginning of our investigation of Lacan’s “Proposition of 9 October,” we have highlighted an underlying tension between the idea of the passe and Lacan’s actual theorization of it. This same tension reemerges here, in a concrete and formalizable way, within the logic of transmission. The central question is this: is the possibility of passing the testimony along, between passers and jury, dependent on their recognition of a certain underlying structure within it? The traversal of a certain plane of identifications has taken place, a testimony of this destitution has been composed and passed along, but there are still two possible foundations for the logic of its transmission. The first one remains hierarchical, since it takes Lacan’s teaching for the parameter of what must be found in the testimony: a testimony can be transmitted from passers to jury because it is a particular case of the universal description of the deposition of the Other’s consistency found in Lacanian metapsychology. It might be an impersonal hierarchy, one which already shakes the classic structures of power in analytic societies—since young analysands might turn out to be more capable of producing such a testimony than well-established and well-known psychoanalysts—but this does not make it any less fixed and hierarchical. In short, there is nothing to be learned from new testimonies, only new ways in which the already known can emerge from each analysand’s clinical trajectories. This is the “intensional” gradus, something that is similar to a graduation process where the candidate is judged not by the whims of a teacher, but by the institutional recognition that a certain amount of knowledge has been acquired by the graduate. The predicates of what there is to be learned must therefore be known beforehand, otherwise no recognition would be possible. There is, however, another possibility, namely, that the invariance

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attested and transmitted in the testimony take the form not of a knowledge, but of an idea—something which challenges the current limits of knowledge. Of course, Lacanian psychoanalysis already has structural names for the impossible to know: the real, the sinthome, and so on. But ideas, as we proposed in chapter 7, are rather defined by the historicity of the unknown—not by the recognition of a structural impasse, but by the proposition of a new problem. After all, the product of the testimony is not only a narrative composed of selected scenes of the sequential and limitpoints of analysis. What turns the report of one’s analysis into something more than the convenient confirmation that the universal categories previously elaborated by psychoanalysis also apply to this particular case— a confirmation which would justify the Foucaultian critique of psychoanalysis as a control-apparatus—is that the testimony is also the testimony of something that, having no place in the Other, could possibly have a place in psychoanalytic thinking. This is what characterizes the testimony with its exemplary dimension: The way to overcome an idea is to exemplify it, but an example never simply exemplifies a notion; it usually tells you what is wrong with this notion. This is what Hegel does again and again in Phenomenology of Spirit. He takes a certain existential stance like aestheticism or stoicism. Then how does he criticize it? By simply stating it as a certain life practice, by showing how the very staging actualization of this attitude produces something more which undermines it. In this way, the example always minimally undermines what it is an example of.63

The Žižekian logic of the example is helpful because it allows us to distinguish the hierarchical gradus from the generic one. The transmission of the testimony, as we have said, can be verified in two ways: either by the jury’s recognition within it of an invariant knowledge or of an invariance which, though witnessed, is not yet known. Let us then call P the set of verified testimonies and, therefore, the set which defines the nomination of new analysts. Let D be the set of predicates that the current testimonies within P have in common. We will say that the passe nominates analysts of the school based on a hierarchical principle if the belonging to P is based on the new testimony T being reducible to already known predicates in D: ∀x, y ∈ E, 𝕿(x, y) ⊆ D → T ∈ P

And we will say that the passe institutes new analysts of the school based on a generic principle if what must be verified is rather the irreducibility of 𝕿 to D:

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∃x, y ∈ E, 𝕿(x, y) ⊄ D → T ∈ P

We call this second form of transmission “generic” because, in it, the extensional precedence of elements over preestablished definitions allowed certain infinite collections to produce impredicative multiplicities, subsets which could not be gathered under any known predicates of a situation. The set P, within our reconstruction of the idea of the passe, is one which only includes testimonies which contradict at least one point of the previous list of predicates, which up to that point had defined what it means to have finished one’s analysis. The question then becomes: how could the jury distinguish between something which contradicts the current definition of psychoanalysis and something which contradicts psychoanalysis altogether? The answer is already partially contained in our very simple formalism: the verification of the impredicative effect of 𝕿 on P is not a matter of the recognition of a new psychoanalyst by the jury, but a matter of the sudden lack of recognition of the jurors themselves as analysts. If it is a new testimony of analysis, if it expands the reach of what was deemed possible as a traversal, then it is not the identification of the new analyst that has been confirmed, but the identification of the other analysts—the completeness of the set of definitions D—which has been put into question. The effect of such a break with the instituted definition of psychoanalysis was theorized by Lacan under the term “transference of work”: The teaching of psychoanalysis can only be transmitted from a subject to another through the path of a transference of work . . . No doctrinal apparatus, most notably our own, as useful as it might be in orienting our work, can preconceive or determine the conclusions which will be its remainder.64

The tension between the transmission—the issue of whether it belongs to P or not—and the set of definitions D of what belongs to P is perfectly thematized here, since Lacan bluntly states that “no doctrinal apparatus, most notably our own,” can determine beforehand what will be worked through at the point where the testimony introduces a new undeveloped idea into psychoanalysis. The transference of work is thus the welcomed admittance into the school of a problem that invites psychoanalysis to rethink itself. Testimonies can therefore be evaluated as not belonging to P in two senses, a weak and a strong one. The weak sense is that of the mere iteration of D: a testimony comes to confirm what was already known of psychoanalysis, and its admittance into P both reinforces the validity of previous analyses and fortifies the inscription of the idea of the

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unconscious into the world by providing another connection between its structure and the lives of patients. The admittance of such a testimony is questionable, but it is not unreasonable that concrete situations dictate that the passer be nominated in this case. If anything, such a situation might also contribute to shaking up the heroic sense of engagement with novelty, which can easily consolidate an equally problematic ideal for an analytic community. The strong sense in which a testimony cannot belong to P would be if it is a blatant negation of already established aspects of psychoanalytic thinking—its contradiction with D at every point—in which case it does not belong to P because it does not force a new predicate into it, but rather reaffirms the predicates of D by composing their negative image, −D. Now, the transference of work, the introduction into the psychoanalytic community of an extension without predicate, does not have as its main output a new metapsychological concept, or a new theory. It is possible that the verification of new functions binding fragments of an analytic trajectory might require the revision of preestablished notions, the production of texts, and so on. But, as we have repeatedly stressed throughout our investigation, psychoanalytic thinking is the circuit which binds the clinical, the metapsychological, and the institutional. Thus, it is not enough to think of the idea of the passe as a mechanism meant to accumulate theoretical knowledge about clinical practice. It is also necessary to at least sketch the reverse movement: that of how the transformation of the predicates D of the set P by new subsets defined by 𝕿 might come to affect the clinical setting and the logic of transference itself. We have mentioned here two properties of the testimony function 𝕿. First, it takes for its domain the analytic sequence as it has been totalized by the name N, that is, both S and part of E that was inaccessible for Φ namely, a. This entails that the domain of 𝕿 is infinite. Second, 𝕿(x, y) maps N onto a testimony T so that for every x in S we also have a y in a, so that the inaccessible remainder of S is woven into the singular process of signification of that particular analytic trajectory. This means that the set P of testimonies is comprised of multiple forms in which something can escape signification; that is, a space of possible trajectories within the realm of enjoyment. Our hypothesis is that the underside of the matheme of transference, with its strange implication of actual infinity, and the inscription of an indefinite series of signifiers which could be known by a subject, is a stand-in for the concrete and historically determined set P, which contains the determinate space of unconscious variations that psychoanalysis institutionally affirms to be possible. In short, through the idea of the passe, the thought implicated in the analysand’s speech can become an idea that might inform a new way of listening. This is a passage that is

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impossible to be impartially attested to or verified, but it can nevertheless be verified by anyone engaged with the hypothesis of the unconscious. It completes a process that, beginning with the exceptional point—the work of transference—ends with the construction of a common indetermination, what Lacan once called “the transference of work.” In this sense, the nomination of an analyst by the jury, instead of being directly tributary to the traversal of fantasy itself, is an enrichment of the “determinate indetermination” proper of the desire of the analyst—a proof that, even if the desire of the analyst within the clinical setting is not “of the order of the transfinite,” as Lacan claimed, it is nonetheless conditioned by the institutional commitment to an infinity of ways in which speakers can lose themselves in free association. The entry into analysis shows itself, after all, to be one of the points of “linking up” of the passe, and the need to introduce the “tampered” matheme of transference in the “Proposition” is now clarified. The logic of transmission (see figure 8.13) which we have proposed has shown itself to be (1) the reduction of the speaker into an absent invariance in his testimony, (2) the reintroduction of a sequential

Figure 8.13

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dimension into the passe, as the transference of work puts new problems into circulation within psychoanalysis, (3) a new transformation in the address: here speech is no longer addressed to a subject supposed to know (analyst), or to intermediaries (passers), but to a jury whose own identification as analysts will be placed in revision; the transmission therefore introduces a scission between psychoanalysts and psychoanalysis itself. Furthermore, (4) the sequential dimension of transmission includes the potential sequences of new analytical trajectories. Finally, we are also in position to add two new relations to our schema: the relation of nomination 𝕹, which directly follows from the verification that the new testimony function 𝕿 belongs to P, that is, the belonging of the passer who provided the testimony into the set of psychoanalysts of the school; and, most notably, the mapping 𝕴, the further determination of what has been demonstrated to be variable—and therefore passive of being listened to—within the analytic setting.

5. The Role of Psychoanalytic Thinking in the Clinical Treatment We began our analytic of the passe by following the three shifts in the number of people involved: two (analysand and analyst), then three (passant and two passers), and then five (two passers and three jurors). These shifts led us to discern four different logics which compose the trajectory of one’s analysis: from analysand (transferential logic), to “potential” analyst (traversal), to passant (testimony), and to “actual” analyst (transmission). In the description of this circuit, we discerned certain internal relations between its moments, of two kinds: the supplementary relations 𝒞 and 𝕹 and the generic relation 𝕴. The supplementary relations bind together the suspension of extrinsic rules, at the level of the impasse, with the construction of new rules, at the level of the passe. 𝒞 establishes a relation between the negative determination of the transferential logic (the rule of free association, which suspends extrinsic entailments) and the affirmative determination of the testimony (the narrative which forces an entailment because there is none), while 𝕹 relates the negative determination of traversal (there is no big Other to serve as the addressee of one’s singularity) with the affirmative dimension of transmission (the School can be the addressee of these novelties because there is no big Other). The additional relation 𝕴 is the one that appears as the completion of the circuit, and expresses, to adopt the Hegelian jargon, a speculative

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judgment: “the analyst is the analysand.” Throughout the circuit of the passe, which conditions the separative act that constitutes the position of the analyst on the separation from the ineffable (testimony) and the separation from the speaking body (transmission), the form of the desire of the analyst is enriched with new determinations. Thus, the analyst who partakes in this process, either as passer, jury, or as part of its instituting apparatus, and who now permits a new analysand to speak under the rule of free association, is not the same as the analyst who first allowed the analysand to turn his suffering into a question. The local shift from analysand to analyst, if it goes through the complete circuit of the passe, brings with it a minimal difference into the position of the analyst itself. The consideration of the speculative relation which binds the suffering of an analysand with the desire of the analyst is the nodal point of this whole apparatus. First, from the standpoint of the challenges posed by one’s suffering—in its sociohistorical dimension and at the level of the imponderable indetermination of any given subject—the speculative relation is responsible for the porosity of psychoanalysis to its time. By conditioning the analytic act on its capacity to produce new transmissible determinations for the analytic technique or new problems for the theory, the mechanism of the passe attests to the fact that the global orientation of psychoanalysis is locally conditioned by its “real teachers”—the analytic masses, as Althusser would have it. We could say that the circuit of the passe constantly reinvents psychoanalysis not by adding determinations to the unconscious (as if the unconscious was the product of a given culture), that is, not by teaching psychoanalysis what to listen to, but rather how to listen, by transforming the scope of what an analyst can do in order to locate the effects of the subject and to produce subjectivization. To reintroduce our previous discussion on the structure of clinical practice, we could call this the covariant dimension of the passe. Secondly, the closure of the circuit of the passe is also the process in charge of the constant production of a homogeneity between the dimension of transference, of the site of analytic interventions and of the desire of the analyst, the intervening principle. The logics of traversal, testimony, and transmission, as we have seen, condition the consistency of the act on certain practices, introducing different levels of otherness into it such as the otherness of the passers, of the jury, and of the school. Our hypothesis is that this is precisely the process which qualifies the desire of the analyst, sustained at the impasse of the Other by the school, to be of the same consistency as the otherness of enjoyment. In other words, it is not simply the silence, the punctuation, or the short session which is responsible for analytic effects: it is the position of the analyst, forced into existence by the institutional circuit which gives body to the hypothesis of the unconscious, which infuses

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Figure 8.14

such technical strategies of interpretation with their efficacious dimension. Furthermore, the consequences of an interpretation—not only the effects it has produced on the space of the analysand’s speech, but also the capacity of the analyst to deal with the anguish and the “horror” of the analytic act—should also be conceived as a consequence whose weight is not really the psychoanalyst’s sole responsibility to carry, but rather something distributed across the entire analytic field. The efficacy of interpretation would therefore be conditioned on the institutional practice of the passe, the critical powers of psychoanalysis conditioned by its constructive capacity. The superposition of our first group schema, in our preliminary considerations of the clinic, with our diagram of the passe, presented here as figure 8.14, can reveal an important resonance not only at the level of the two basic principles we have established (covariance and homogeneity), but also at the level of each logic we have already discerned. What becomes clear when the structure of clinical practice is compared with the structure of the passe is that they are rather isomorphous: clinical semiology is challenged in psychoanalysis by the immanence of signification within the transferential relation, diagnostics is subverted by the singularity of the formula that emerges at the traversal, and the causal reconstruction of the testimony transforms the etiological domain, while the verification of transmissibility and the work it entails for the analytic community turn deviations from normal sexuality into an exploration of that norm’s own deviant existence. The idea of the passe turns out to be nothing but the idea that our libidinal attachments are not only thinkable, but infinitely so.

Conclusion

As stated in the introduction, this book constitutes an attempt to present a different perspective on the psychoanalytic procedure. It seeks to render this supplementary approach intelligible by showing well-known objects of Lacanian psychoanalytic thinking in such a light that the novel place from which they are being seen can be grasped by the reader. One of the main operations mobilized to this end was that of regionalization, delimiting the frontiers of efficacy of certain technical, institutional, and conceptual aspects of psychoanalysis. To regionalize a certain procedure is not merely to constrain its functions: instead, it opens the space for the synchronous and autonomous existence of other forms of thinking, as well as demonstrating the historical flexibility of those same borders. It is a critical as well as a constructive operation, and the engagement with these plastic frontiers, which therefore define the interiority of psychoanalysis at a given moment, is what we have named the desire of psychoanalysis.

1. Questions of Reception I anticipate that a likely misreading of what has been proposed here is one that takes this new perspective to be a substitute for our regular way of approaching metapsychology or clinical practice. This is a legitimate concern, since any attempt to render the “desire of psychoanalysis” into a consistent clinical orientation, with immediate or direct consequences for the handling of transference, is bound to fall into well-known traps of counter-transference and imaginarization, as many other attempts to “politically” direct clinical work have done in the past. This is why it has been repeatedly stated throughout this study that the “generic” perspective of psychoanalysis is not legible or consistently thinkable from the position of the analyst. What is less clear is whether the conceptual machinery deployed here was robust enough to demonstrate that such a point of view becomes nevertheless a consistent and consequential one when another 219

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perspective is adopted—most notably, the one that takes into consideration the institutional enclosure of the clinical space. The problem here is twofold: on the one hand, the very possibility of such a standpoint is barred by the current state of Lacanian theory, which, as I have argued, struggles when it comes to accepting that not all forms of consistency imply the suturing of desire. But at the same time, the onus of affirming this possibility falls on whoever seeks to defend it, and this task has placed enormous demands on this project, which had to provide a polemical interpretation of Lacan’s teaching while circulating between discussions on value theory, contemporary philosophy, the history of post-Cantorian mathematics, and even a formalization exercise extending Lacan’s use of set theory and composite mappings. While I am more versed in some of these topics than others, I still felt authorized to venture into these complex territories because my attempts were all carried out under the principle that the autonomy of other fields of thought can teach us something new about psychoanalysis. And so, while specialists might find faults with the arguments and constructions proposed in the book—though I certainly hope not!—the project will nonetheless have been successful if these issues lead to a more productive and inventive discussion on how to tackle the underlying problems which have been raised throughout this investigation. Another potential misunderstanding that is worth addressing concerns the position of this work with regard to the Lacanian community and its most emblematic figures. If the jargon of “regionalization” of concepts and practices and of the “supplementation” of perspectives suggests a rather benign relation to the current state of Lacanian psychoanalysis, the recurring motif of a critique of “Lacanian ideology,” as well as the fact that it has been carried out mostly as a critique of Lacan, Jacques-Alain Miller, and the World Association of Psychoanalysis, point to a more distanced and confrontational approach. This could lead the reader to conclude that the present project places itself in one of two already established positions with regard to Lacanian psychoanalysis: if I have criticized some of the most significant results of Lacan’s teaching, then I must advocate a non-Lacanian orientation—as so many of his critics have—or instead, if I have criticized Miller’s classic texts on the logic of the signifier, or the WAP’s current political stance, then I must be siding with those who consider him a problematic reader of Lacan, and I favor those who criticize that particular international institution in favor of another, or even in the name of a non-institutional approach altogether. It is important to state that neither of these positions is the case, as far as I am concerned.

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First of all, I do believe that this book deserves its subtitle: it is an exercise in Lacanian thinking. Slavoj Žižek has made the distinction between repeating what a thinker has previously stated—and thereby transmitting a knowledge—and repeating the gesture of his or her thinking as a way to think through their own limits, while continuing their projects. And even though Lacan interpreted his own gesture of thought in terms of a “return” to Freud, I find that he gives us a more useful suggestion of how to produce our own interpretations of it when he talks about a repetition which includes the “context of struggle” of an original formulation: There is something quite astounding, which is that those who do quite well the work of transmission, [by doing it] without actually naming me, regularly lose the opportunity, which is quite visible in the text, of contributing with the little idea that they could have presented there! Little or even quite big. . . . Why is it that they would produce a small innovation? It is because, in citing me, in the very fact of citing me, they would presentify . . . the context of struggle [contexte de bagarre] in which I produced all of this. From the sole fact of stating it within the context of struggle, this would put me in my place, and would allow them to produce then a small innovation.1

This is precisely why this project remains a “Lacanian” one, even if it proposes ideas which are absent or even sometimes in conflict with Lacan’s own teaching. Hypotheses concerning the need to regionalize concepts, or to integrate the institutional domain into psychoanalysis, or to construct a generic perspective of its procedure—these are all ways to do more than “name” the author of a statement; they are ways to name the “context of struggle” within which that very thinking was produced. Ultimately, these ideas do have severe consequences for how we construct our metapsychological models and even for clinical practice, but they are no less committed to the preservation of the kernel of an experience of thinking which has accompanied psychoanalysis from its first emergence. It is likely, however, that the effort to historically situate Lacan’s teaching, even with the aim of extracting further consequences from it, will upset some readers more than if we had engaged in dismissive criticism. As for the critiques of Miller and the WAP, I also believe that the consequences of this project do not fall in line with any of the usual splittings of the Lacanian community. Both the WAP and Miller himself are involved in many polemics and disputes among Lacanians, who criticize one or both of them as a means to locate their different allegiances in the political landscape of the analytic community. Having chosen to focus

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this project on a very small number of authors and purposefully ignoring many—highly interesting and important—commentators and debates for the sake of concentrating as much as possible on constructing an affirmative model of psychoanalytic thinking, I am aware that my work could be seen as partaking in the same usual dynamic of sectarian polemics. However, it should be stressed that I have chosen to focus on Miller and the WAP because they represent what is, to me, the forefront of what we as psychoanalysts can do today with our available conceptual means. Very few people have had to face the task of internationalizing an incredibly fragile new subjective experience, such as the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan, with all that such a complex organizational process entails: extracting a transmissible doctrine out of Lacan’s writings, conceiving of transcultural displacements of concepts and practices, building an organization that is capable of sustaining such a project, and so on. If I were to find fault with anything specific about Miller’s position, it would be with the fact that, even though he occupied an unprecedented place in this huge endeavor, no serious effort on his part was made to acknowledge or conceptualize this experience as part of psychoanalytic thinking. He brings forth an invaluable institutional experience without which the very theory of Lacan, with its claims to the potential universality of the hypothesis of the unconscious, would not be tested for its consistency. But even in this case, this critique would be nothing more than a metonymy: the problem is surely not only this or that organizer of the Lacanian field, but rather the ideological backdrop which has allowed so many of us to benefit from this silent work of organization while ignoring the “context of struggle” within which psychoanalysis is being inscribed in the world. A series of ideological commitments underpin the current crisis in Lacanian thinking, and some of these commitments did find their most polished versions in Miller’s work. Still, if we were to “return” to anything today, perhaps we should return to Miller’s original gesture, to his confrontation with Lacan’s teaching from a position implicated with the organization of the Lacanian field, and thus close our neurotic debt to this important thinker.

2. Summary and Further Research Even though I have tried to anticipate some possible misunderstandings which might get in the way of a productive discussion around the results presented in this book, it is undeniable that some of my theses are quite polemical in their own right. I would like to very briefly highlight and

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comment upon some of these propositions, even if I cannot but leave to the reader, and to further study, their rigorous investigation. 2.1. Experimentation One of the first important claims of this book was that, when the analytic experience is considered as an artificial one, whose institution is mediated by an underlying and irreducible theoretical commitment that informed Lacan’s clinical practice and inventions—such as the variable-length session, the recentering of analysis on the patient’s concrete discourse, and so on—the clinical setting acquires a striking resemblance to the structure of an experiment. The experimental character of analytic practice is visible when one considers the artificial status of speech in analysis and the enclosure which institutes such an artificial space. This accounts for the process of isolation of certain invariances and variables within speech. It does not, however, suffice to explain how new information could be extracted from clinical practice: this was the task of the last chapter, with its schematic reconstruction of the passe. Critically, the hypothesis of the clinic as an experimental site accomplishes two things. First of all, it obliges us to ask of any models of the psychoanalytic experience that they consider the institutional condition of possibility of the logic of speech in analysis, and a new critical reading of both Freud and Lacan is thereby made possible. Second, it proposes a new and paradoxical answer to the—mostly fruitless—debate over the scientific status of psychoanalysis. On the one hand, we can now locate the repeatable character of any analysis—we can in fact predict that, under certain isolated conditions, speech will always stumble on free association, even if it makes no sense to predict what structures will emerge within this associative space—but, on the other hand, the same movement through which we can finally answer to this demand for an “ideal of science” tends to sever the very legitimacy of this demand. Psychoanalysis is neither scientific nor unscientific; it rather contains its own concept of experimentation—and its own methods of generalization and evaluation—to be placed side by side with scientific experiments. Through analytic experiments we learn nothing of the immutable laws of reality, but rather probe into the extension of the variability of human subjectivity in its libidinal dimension. This statement, of course, requires that we revise the ways in which we locate sex and love in our conceptual framework, changing the modal status of sexual difference within our metapsychology from a necessary and general fact of structure to a possible—but highly transformative—constraint imposed by the structure of psychoanalysis itself.

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At the same time, constructively, the hypothesis of clinical experimentation clarifies the separation between the theory that informs clinical space, the experimentation that is pursued under these theoretical principles, and the model which seeks to spell out the structure of the theoretical approach in question. The main consequence of this distinction is that we are then capable of speaking about a class of possible clinical settings, defined by the different ways their enclosure is maintained, and speech in analysis is sustained, as a class of possible experiments. The commitment to free association, to the investigation of what emerges from the immanence of the analysand’s concrete speech, remains invariant throughout this whole unknown class of possible innovations. It therefore remains a valid criterion to evaluate whether a given innovation falls within or outside of the psychoanalytic purview. For example, the handling of money, which plays an important, but contingent, role today in the enclosure of the clinical space, becomes then a variable in the constitution of that space. This is not to say that one should charge more or less, or nothing, but it allows us to recognize that money is not merely a signifier that emerges within the analysand’s enchainment, since the monetary exchange serves a purpose in the consolidation of the space in which the desire of the analyst is severed from its object. And we are now in position to produce a psychoanalytic rather than pseudo-political study of the different economic practices adopted by analysts. This, in turn, frees political analysis to assess these same economic practices in properly political terms. In this sense, we have claimed that one of the truly political problems that psychoanalysis faces—one in which class struggle really comes into the picture—concerns the partition between those who can afford analysis for long enough to become analysts and transform clinical listening from within, and those who can only afford to consume clinical services for a relatively brief period of time. This is a political issue precisely because it is irreducible to psychoanalysis, and it emerges only when we filter money through the categories which allow its actual economic function to appear. It also becomes possible to investigate the connection between the different set of theoretical principles underlying the clinical space and the scope of what makes itself legible therein. Different clinical enclosures might produce different “others”: a dual clinical setting might only actualize transferential relations of a dual character such as repeating love relations, insofar as these are reduced in scale. But in principle, other settings could—this is left to experimentation—actualize other types of fantasy, which are not centered around the supposition of an other who knows. I venture here two examples: the Clinic of the Testimony, which treats patients whose traumas were inflicted by state violence

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in Brazil, and which mobilizes a series of nonstandard strategies in order to render itself commensurate with the impersonal institutional causes of the violent personal effects of state intervention; and the Circle of Studies of Idea and Ideology, which takes up a Lacanian-inspired revision of Bion’s therapeutic groups in order to treat the ideological fantasies of militants that sometimes get in the way of collective political organization. Both of these procedures could be legitimately investigated under the proposed model. But this could be extended to the Lacanian clinic as well and, as we have stated, one of the aims of our research was to show that psychoanalysis depends on structures it is in no condition to transform on its own. The introduction of a new perspective into psychoanalysis ultimately produces this strange short-circuit: if the institutional realm is part of the analytic procedure, then psychoanalysis can be thought of as an autonomous thinking, but once this dimension is considered part of its field, we are at the same time faced with the fact that we cannot model the whole of analytic experience at once. We are faced with an opening which points both to future analytic developments and to a new humility when dealing with what other fields of thought might have to say of our own unthought underground. 2.2. Formalization From the hypothesis of clinical experimentation there follows a critique of the limits of the logic of the signifier as a model—which is, in fact, a double reproach: spatially, it is critiqued for proposing a general rather than a constrained or conditioned understanding of the logic of speech, while, temporally, it is denounced for not being powerful enough to allow for still unknown, but nevertheless possible, transformations in clinical listening, prompted not by the extrinsic interpretation “of the times” by already existing psychoanalysts, but rather by the actual results of new analytic trajectories. In an attempt to account for these two types of constraint which define the interiority of psychoanalytic thinking, we have proposed an alternative model, and its building blocks can be laid out one by one. If the signifier is conditioned by a consistent and well-partitioned enclosure between the outside and the inside of the clinic, then the theory of the “suture” and of the “internal exclusion” of the subject in any consistent discourse must be dropped or at least relativized. In fact, we are then authorized to adopt a model that is able to probe into the articulation between the consistency of this enclosure and the subject of the unconscious itself. Our first claim, then, is that there is a consistency

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to the subject of psychoanalysis, even if it is methodologically useless to consider it from within the space it informs. The need to include this broader consistency into the model which thinks local inconsistencies in speech is formally analogous to the need to axiomatize our formalization of metapsychology. The institution of a new determination of the hypothesis of the unconscious—a proposal concerning the variability or the invariances in the space of signification under free association—is best modeled as the introduction of a new axiom within an already established formal system. Axioms introduce new constraints into a formal space, and the consequences of their introduction are experimentally verified, by evaluating their contradictory or consistent effects, rather than through extrinsic or dogmatic decisions. The axiomatization of the formal model of metapsychology is therefore perfectly compatible with the recognition of the experimental character of clinical practice. We have also argued that it is not enough to defend an experimental approach to the clinic or a revision of the formal basis of our metapsychological models. We can still fall short of accounting for the kernel of analytic experience if all of this merely amounted to a determinate procedure, in which axiomatically defined determinations are just “checked” in practice, with no place for the singularity and the capacity for novelty that psychoanalysis affirms with regard to subjectivity. This is why the “trade-off” proposed in this project is that, on the one hand, we regionalize the logic of the signifier—which, theoretically, requires us to ascribe a more restricted domain to the phallic function—but, on the other, we situate that logic within a broader set theoretical formalism which accepts the axiom of infinity as a necessary constraint. The axiom of infinity allows us to operate with the transformational space that affects the frontier between what falls within and outside of the clinical domain, while also introducing a very productive weakness into our formalism. Rather than positively affirming that “there is no Other of the Other,” and preemptively interdicting any consistent articulation of what escapes proper symbolic articulation, we interpret the results of the model theory of Gödel and Cohen, both of which are dependent on the axiom of infinity in ZFC set theory, as implying the negative statement that we cannot prevent or predict the production of new axioms which point toward consistent spaces subtracted from the space of signification. Two of the most polemical moments of the book follow from the wager that a consistent theoretical presentation of psychoanalysis as a procedure depends on the precedence of the grammar of infinity over that of alterity. The first of these moments concerned the critique of Lacan’s theory of the object a, which is said to only arrive at the torsion which identifies

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the radical alterity of the real of desire and the alterity of the a-subjective real of being in general through a “proof by impotence,” which relies on taking the limits of the logic of the signifier as the model for a positive indication of what is theoretically acceptable. The second one addressed Lacan’s formulas of sexuation and the treatment of feminine enjoyment, which follows from the interdiction to treat actual infinity as an acceptable background for the deployment of the logic of the “non-all.” Taken together, these two critical developments suggest that the logic of the “non-all” could formalize the difference between analytic trajectories in which the trajectory within the space of signification remains within the constructible limits that verify the existence of the phallic function, and those which challenge its universality as an operator to define what can and what cannot be made significant. In short, we have proposed analytic processes which shift the frontiers of what belongs to the domain of clinical practice. This leads us to the last development in the reformulation of a formalism for Lacanian psychoanalysis, presented in this book as a new reading of the theory of the passe. It is one of the merits of this investigation— which is still to be put to the test of further study and discussion, nonetheless—to propose a unified formalism in which the clinical and nonclinical aspects of the analytic procedure can be thought together, in a homogenous formalism that nevertheless preserves their heterogeneity. The formal articulation between the entry into analysis and the logics of transference, traversal, testimony, and transmission—plus the definition of operations binding the institutional and theoretical back to the clinical—are all attempts to show that very little is lost from the logic of the signifier when this broader model is constructed. Instead, the key insights are preserved, while new territory becomes equally consistent. Several consequences follow from the realization that the passe is not a mechanism which exclusively evaluates the stakes of the end of analysis, but is rather a point of view from which the complete analytic procedure can be consistently grasped as inherently open to transformation. To focus on one of these consequences, of more direct practical import, we could say that such an approach transforms the status of the reporting on clinical cases, since we now have the means to distinguish between an extrinsic representation—one which is extracted by the analyst and bears no relation to the development of the singular case, or to the expansion of psychoanalytic space—and an intrinsic presentation, which is informed by the circuit of the passe. This implies, first of all, that the capacity to present one’s own case is the actual psychoanalytic measure of that case’s development, not the analyst’s external attempt to account for it in terms

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of already existing analytic theory. The adoption of this alternative criterion suggests that both clinical studies and testimonies should be evaluated for the extrinsic or intrinsic quality of their report. Testimonies at the end of analysis might turn out to be purely external attempts to fit one’s analysis into a theory, while partial fragments of one’s trajectory might already contribute to the development of psychoanalytic thinking. After all, if the structure of the passe coincides with the structure of the psychoanalytic procedure as a whole, rather than with its ultimate moment, then small fragments of the passe—the possibility to formalize restricted trajectories of analysis—are also possible, which is a hypothesis that could make analytic institutions more porous to the analyses of those who have no means to pay for sessions for years and years.

Notes

Chapter 1 1. Lacan 2007a, 207. 2. Lacan 2001a, 534. 3. Lacan 2001a, 208. 4. Lacan 2001a, 419. 5. In the following analysis, we will focus on the trajectory that connects the SFP, the EFP, the ECF, the Forum of Lacanian Schools, and the WAP, even if the actual ecosystem of the Lacanian school is rather vast and pulverized. One might have a glimpse of this dispersed institutional landscape—comparable only to that of Trotskyite organizations!—in the partial cartography offered in Diener 2006. 6. Roudinesco 1999; Attal 2010. 7. Althusser 1999, 151. 8. Althusser reports that his intervention was met with a blunt interpretation by one of those present: “One may wonder on which couch you are on in order to speak as you do,” Althusser 1999, 182. 9. Althusser 1999. 10. Althusser 1999, 19. 11. The best document on the Cercle and the Cahiers surely remains Concept and Form, vols. 1 and 2, Hallward and Peden 2012. 12. Works such as Keucheyan 2013, Therborn 2008, and Irwin 2014 are helpful in highlighting, through a cartography of the different strands of political thinking today, the profound influence that psychoanalysis had on the consolidation, especially in the late 1990s, of what has been dubbed “post-Marxism” or “Lacano-Marxism.” It is worth noting that the book Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left, cowritten by Žižek, Laclau, and Butler (2000), was an important marker in the consolidation of this new and heterogeneous field of political thought. 13. ECF, “Forum contre L’Abstention” – webpage for the Forum Against Marine Le Pen, hosted by ECF: http://www.causefreudienne.net/event/forum -anti-le-pen/. 14. “Appel des psychanalystes contre Marine Le Pen,” Lacan Quotidien no. 632, https://www.lacanquotidien.fr/blog/2017/03/lacan- quotidien-n- 632/. 15. Miller 2017a. 16. Miller 2017a.

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17. Material on the “La movida Zadig” Forum can be found at http:// lacaniannet.weebly.com/. 18. The submission form can be read at http://lacaniannet .weebly.com /sinscrire.html. 19. Focchi 2017 20. Miller 2017b 21. Nina Krajnik—the main spokeswoman for the campaign—has an illustrative interview at http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/nina-krajnik-the- dream- of -uncle-zizek/, but we can also find other articles, with sensationalist titles such as “The Truth about Žižek” or “Žižek, the Fraud,” in the WAP’s official publication, Lacan Quotidien, https://www.lacanquotidien.fr/blog/2017/06/lacan- quotidien -n-720/. 22. Miller-Rose and Roy 2017, 10. 23. One of the few serious public responses of intellectuals who were not directly cited by Miller in this polemic (as was the case with Jorge Alemán) came from David Pavón-Cuellar—who chose, however, to focus on “Millerian” politics, rather than on the underlying structural problem which determines it: https:// davidpavoncuellar.wordpress .com /2017/05/21/notas - para - una - critica - de - la -politica-milleriana/. 24. A beautiful work of reconstruction of the nuances of this long history can be found in Pavón-Cuéllar 2017. 25. Althusser 1991. 26. See the class of November 13, 1968, in Lacan 2006. 27. See the class of December 17, 1969, in Lacan 2007a. 28. Lacan’s position is particularly clear in his text “Monsieur Aa,” written just after Althusser’s intervention, where Lacan talks about the transformation of psychoanalysts into “jurists” and negatively compares the school to a trade union—as well as making some dismissive remarks about Althusser. The text is available at http://espace.freud.pagesperso - orange.fr/topos/psycha/psysem /dissolu9.htm#monsieur%20A. 29. Yuan Yao and I have analyzed the details of this dialectics between identification and disidentification in the case of the EFP’s dissolution in “The Political Surplus of Psychoanalysis,” in Tupinambá and Yao 2013. 30. Already in 1979, Alain Badiou warned us that the philosophical and epistemological presuppositions of psychoanalysis could lead to unsurpassable obstacles for the Lacanian theory of the real, whose effects could be minimal in clinical practice, but were palpable when psychoanalysis sought to think political processes within its own framework. See Badiou 2009. 31. Badiou 2006. 32. See the introduction to Žižek 1989. 33. Karatani 2003. 34. Žižek 2006a. 35. Karatani 2003, 1–3. 36. We use the expression “count as one” as a conceptual operation throughout this book. It should be taken in the strict sense proposed by Alain Badiou, as the operation which determines in which sense an inconsistent multi-

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plicity will be taken up in a situation according to a specific criteria of belonging. See Badiou 2006.

Chapter 2 1. “I call thinking the non-dialectical or inseparable unity of a theory and a practice. To understand such a unity the simplest case is that of science; in physics there arc theories, concepts and mathematical formulas and there are also technical apparatuses and experiments. But Physics as a thinking does not separate the two. A text by Galileo or Einstein circulates between concepts, mathematics and experiments, and this circulation is the movement of a unique thinking.” Badiou 2004a, 79. 2. Besides Miller, Henry, Jolibois (ed.) 1997—in which rare and unclassifiable cases of the psychoanalytical clinic are presented, we would also like to refer to Latusa—a Brazilian psychoanalytical magazine, both in printed and digital form—and its publications nos.7, 16, 17, 25, 26, 27, 35, 36 especially, and no. 38, all of which can be found at http://www.latusa.com.br/ indice.htm. For two opposing overviews of the “new pathologies,” we suggest Lebrun 2009; and Maleval 2000. 3. “The essential point of our critique of the so-called new pathologies is the method, or better, the lack of method, with which they themselves establish, present, interpret and transmit the clinical facts,” Porge 2007, 9. 4. Alberti and Figueredo 2006; see also Miller 1999, 20–21. 5. There are currently several different groups of mostly Lacanian psychoanalysts offering free sessions in public spaces throughout the main cities of Brazil. We mention just a few: the Clínica Pública de Psicanálise and Clínica Aberta de Psicanálise, both in São Paulo; and Psicanálise na Rua, in Cuiabá, Brasília, Belo Horizonte, and Rio de Janeiro. 6. Lacan 1998b, 89–90. 7. Lacan 2007b; See also Glynos and Stavrakakis 2002. 8. See the class of December 17, 1969, in Lacan 2007a. See also Stavrakakis 1999. 9. See the class of November 17, 1954, in Lacan 1991b. See also Regnault 2001. 10. See the class of December 2, 1964, in Lacan 1964–65. A good overview of Lacan’s claims on the status of philosophy is provided by Macey 1988. For a critique of the equation between philosophy and the “patching up” of holes in knowledge, see Dolar 2012. 11. We invite the reader to compare the table of contents of Lacanian journals published twenty or thirty years apart. With notable exceptions, the themes and approaches to concepts remain incredibly similar throughout the decades, with deviations being mostly motivated by the political climate of the day. 12. See the chapter “La Crise de 1963 et la fondation de l’EFP” in Porge 2013a. 13. A good summary of the deep impression the young Miller had on Lacan

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can be found in Roudinesco 1999. Miller’s writing also recognizes that he was the one to whom Lacan dedicates the epigraph of Television: “He who interrogates me also knows how to read me,” in Lacan 2001a. 14. Lacan uses the expression “logic of the signifier” after Miller, in his sixteenth seminar, in 1968. In fact, the whole section of the seminar on the “logical genesis of surplus-enjoyment” can be read as a response to Miller’s work in the Cahiers. A reading which supports this can be found in Eyers 2013. 15. Bachelard 2002, 64–81; Althusser 1965, 161–219. 16. Hallward and Peden 2012, 80. 17. Hallward and Peden 2012, 92. 18. Besides the commentaries and interviews gathered in the two volumes of the already mentioned Concept and Form, we could also mention as valuable contributions to the contemporary reception of these texts Eyers 2013 and Frazer’s preface to Badiou 2007. 19. No other source reconstructs with the same level of detail and insight the fundamental structure of this debate as does Naderi 2020. See also Naderi 2018. 20. Blanché 1965. 21. Beaney 1997, 84–94, see also “Begriffsschrift: A Formula Language, Modeled upon That of Arithmetic, for Pure Thought,” in Heijenoort 1996. 22. Hallward and Peden 2012, 94–95. 23. “The impossible object, which the discourse of logic summons as the not-identical with itself and then rejects as the pure negative, which it summons and rejects in order to constitute itself as that which it is, which it summons and rejects wanting to know nothing of it, we name this object, insofar as it functions as the excess which operates in the series of numbers, the subject. Its exclusion from the discourse which internally it intimates is suture. If we now determine the trait as the signifier, and ascribe to the number the position of signified, the relation of lack to the trait should be considered as the logic of the signifier.” Hallward and Peden 2012, 99. 24. Hallward and Peden 2012, 92. 25. Hallward and Peden 2012, 101. 26. See MacFarlane 2002; Snapper 1979; Carnap 1983, 41–52. 27. See Ferreirós 2007, 3–39 and 232–39; Boniface 2005. 28. Beaney 1997, 4–94. 29. A good summary of the foundationalist debate can be found in Gilles 1982. 30. The view that Frege’s work can be separated from his own philosophical interpretation of it can be seen, for example, in Millán 2018 and in Panza 2018. 31. Grattan-Guinness and Bornet 1997. 32. Boole 1952, 125–40. A good summary of the difference between “logification” (Frege) and the mathematization of logic (Boole) can be found in Pinto 2019. 33. Specifically on the role of category theory in the foundationalist debate, and with regard to mathematical logic, see Bell 1981, 349–58; Shapiro 2005; and

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Marquis and Reyes 2012, 689–800. For a broad overview of contemporary mathematics, see Zalamea 2009. 34. “The first great Lacanian text not to be written by Lacan himself,” Badiou 2008a, 25. 35. Not only was Lacan’s famous “Science and Truth” written for the Cahiers, but we can find several comments—both of praise and of critical distance— on Miller and the Cahiers in Lacan’s seminars. His comments made during the year of 1965 (especially in the classes of March 24 and May 26 of his twelfth seminar) should be contrasted to his remarks in the class of March 11, 1970, during his Seminar XVII (Lacan 2007a, 105–6), where he points out a contradiction in the Cahiers’ relation to the subejct of science, relating it to the “university discourse.” 36. See Hallward and Peden 2012; and Eyers 2013. 37. Badiou 2005. 38. Hallward and Peden 2012, 160. 39. Hallward and Peden 2012, 171–73. 40. As per Badiou’s own admission, Sylvain Lazarus’s theory of political thinking is the main influence on Badiou’s own concept of the autonomy of the political procedure. See Lazarus 2015 and “Politics as Thought: The Work of Sylvain Lazarus” in Badiou 2005. For a reconstruction of politics as an autonomous discipline, see Naderi 2020. 41. Church 1956, 164. 42. Hallward and Peden 2012, 160–64. 43. “Let us note straightaway that if, as Gödel’s celebrated theorem indicates, the final dichotomy (that of the third mechanism) cannot, for a ‘strong’ machine, be effectuated without remainder—since there are always undecidable statements—the very possibility of this result presupposes the existence of a dichotomic mechanism that leaves no remainder: the one which supplies the demonstrative mechanism with its raw material, the well-formed expressions. Only on the condition of a perfect syntax can we summon derivation’s aporiae.” Hallward and Peden, 161–62. 44. Badiou 2007. 45. Badiou 2007, 9. 46. “The problem is not, and cannot be, that of the representational relations between the model and the concrete, or between the formal and the models. The problem is that of the history of formalization,” Badiou 2007, 54. 47. Badiou 2007, 14–23. 48. Lautman 2011, 27–30; see also Zalamea’s preface to the same book; and Petiot 1987. 49. Great insights into the theory of models in mathematics can be found in Rosen 1991. 50. Milner 2020. 51. Besides Milner’s famous distinction between two Lacanian classicisms, Miller has produced several alternative periodizations, most notably the one presented in Miller 2000a. See also the discussion of the periodization of Lacan’s teaching that will be taken up again in our next chapter.

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52. Already in 1948, in his “Agressiveness in Psychoanalysis,” Lacan would claim that “before Darwin, however, Hegel had provided the definitive theory of the specific function of aggressiveness in human ontology, seeming to prophesy the iron law of our own time.” Lacan 2007b, 98. 53. It is known that Georges-Théodule Guilbaud, author of “Les Théories de l’intérêt général et le problème logique de l’agrégation” and other texts on collective logic, greatly influenced Lacan’s early texts “Logical Time and the Assertion of Anticipated Certainty” (Lacan 2007b) and “The Logical Form of Suspicion” (Lacan 2001a). 54. See “Function and Field of Speech and Language” and the “Seminar on ‘The Purloined Letter’” (Lacan 2007a), but also Svitlana Matviyenko’s great monograph reconstructing Lacan’s relation to Wiener and the cybernetic project in Matviyenko 2015. 55. Lacan 1991b. 56. A great account of Lacan’s formative years can be found in Lucchelli 2017. See also Roudinesco’s classic biography of Lacan, Roudinesco 1999. 57. The only comprehensive account of the misuses of the concept of model in Lacanian theory remains, unfortunately mostly unknown (and untranslated), Paulo Marcos Rona’s O significante, o conjunto e o número, Rona 2012, 64–80. 58. Lacan 2007a, 58–74. 59. Our translation from the French, from Lacan 1966. The published English translation proposes to translate “à condition qu’on exige l’intégralité de son texte et qu’on le libère des chaînes du récit” as “on condition that we demand that the patient provide the entire text and that we free him from the chains of the narrative.” 60. A good summary of the contemporary debate over the concept of scientific experimentation can be found in Radder 2003. 61. “If, then, the owner of money is to transform his money into capital, he must find in the commodity market a free worker, free in a double sense. The worker must be able to dispose of his labour power as his own commodity; and, on the other hand he must have no other commodities for sale, must be ‘free’ from everything that is essential for the realisation of his labour power.” Marx 1992. 62. A good critique of the metaphysical commitment of certain Lacanian approaches to subjectivity is Bianchi 2013. 63. Again, we refer the reader to Robert Rosen’s account of the different components of a modeling relation in the second chapter of Rosen 1991. 64. Lacan 2007a, 264–65. 65. This classical problem of scientific practice is summarized and examined, for example, in Pearl 2009. 66. See Hacking 1988; Kelly 1996. 67. Lacan 2007a, 415. 68. Lacan 2007a, 345. 69. Lacan 2007a, 487. 70. Lacan 2007a, 397. 71. Lacan 2007a, 414.

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72. We are reminded here of Slavoj Žižek’s famous joke: “A German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by censors, he tells his friends: ‘Let’s establish a code: if a letter you get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it is true; if it is written in red ink, it is false.’ After a month, his friends get the first letter, written in blue ink: ‘Everything is wonderful here: stores are full, food is abundant, apartments are large and properly heated, movie theaters show films from the West, there are many beautiful girls ready for an affair—the only thing unavailable is red ink.’” 73. See Miller 2000a. 74. See the difference between “Ptolemization” and a properly Copernican revolution as two models of theoretical development, as present in the new preface for Žižek 1989, ix–xx.

Chapter 3 1. Lacan 1973. 2. Lacan 1979, 66. 3. The SFP was a French “branch” of the IPA. A very useful diagram of the psychoanalytic institutions from Freud’s time up to the present can be found as an appendix in Roudinesco’s biography of Lacan, Roudinesco 1999. 4. Milner 2020. 5. Miller 2000a. 6. See “Proposition of 9 October 1967 on the Psychoanalyst of the School,” in Lacan 2001a. 7. See Porge 1998, 71–72. 8. In his study The Names of the Father in Jacques Lacan (1998), Erik Porge tracks the astonishing recurrent juxtapositions, throughout Lacan’s teaching, of mentions to the interrupted seminar of 1962, the “excommunication” from the IPA, and the concept of the names-of-the-father. 9. Lacan 1991a, 316. 10. Freud 1990. 11. We should also take note that Lacan’s description of the compromise solution found by the analytic institutions of his time—the erasure of an institutional issue under a distortion of the metapsychology orienting the clinic—has striking resemblances to the problem we addressed at the end of the previous chapter, concerning the enclosure of clinical space and the overdetermination of the theory of enjoyment. 12. We will return to a discussion of the Freudian theory of ideals in chapter 7. 13. Lacan 2007a, 39. 14. “Proposition of 9 October 1967 on the Psychoanalyst of the School,” in Lacan 2001a. 15. This challenge will be the main topic of our eighth chapter. 16. See Lacan’s concluding remarks in Lacan 1978, 181.

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17. The distinction between the “desire of the analyst” and the “desire to be an analyst” is nicely articulated by Laurance Bataille in the first chapter of Bataille 1987. 18. Lacan 2006, 512. 19. Lacan speaks, in “Kant with Sade,” of a “critique of Reason [based] on the linchpin of impurity,” Lacan 2006, 654. 20. Lacan 1992, 300–301. 21. Lacan 1998b, 276. 22. There were 39 classes discussing ethics between the years 1959 and 1962, and only 25 between 1963 and 1974. See Krutzen 2009. 23. See “Lacan as a Reader of Hegel,” Žižek 2012b. 24. “Lacan as a Reader of Hegel,” Žižek 2012b, 123. 25. Lacan, 1964–65. 26. Lacan 2001a, 22–92. 27. See the class of November 15, 1967, in Lacan’s unpublished seminar on the psychoanalytic act. 28. Lacan 2001a, 243–60. 29. Lacan 2006b, 296. 30. Lacan 2007a, 78. 31. Lacan 2007b, 38. 32. Milner 2020. 33. Althusser 1999, 132. 34. Althusser 1999, 133. 35. Žižek 2006a. 36. Žižek 2006a, 305–6. 37. Lacan 1998a, 89–90. 38. Žižek 2006a, 306.

Chapter 4 1. Freud 1957, 177–90. 2. Freud 1957, 181. 3. Freud 1957, 182. 4. Freud 1957, 182–83. 5. Freud 1957, 184. 6. Freud 1957, 184. 7. Žižek 2006a, 306. 8. Lacan 2007b, 197–268. 9. Žižek 2012a, 739–803. 10. Karatani 2003, 47–48. See also Žižek 2006a, 15–66. 11. Karatani 2003, 9. 12. “Count as one” is a crucial operator in Badiouan ontology: “This is the most general definition of a structure; it is what prescribes, for a presented multiple, the regime of its count-as-one. When anything is counted as one in a situation, all this means is that it belongs to the situation in the mode particular

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to the effects of the situation’s structure.” Badiou 2006, 24. To count analysts and analysands as one is, therefore, less a matter of establishing their unity or relation, than to conceive of a structured situation from the perspective of their common belonging. 13. Karatani 2003. 14. Karatani 2014. 15. Karatani 2014, 220. 16. Badiou 2006, 327–42. 17. Badiou 1999, 102–9. 18. Badiou 2013, 311.

Chapter 5 1. For examples of this approach, see the collections Gorin 1989 and Persée 2017. 2. One of the classic studies that takes this approach is Martin 1984. 3. One of the most sophisticated and elaborated accounts of the “homology” between surplus enjoyment and surplus value can be found in Tomšič 2015. Unlike most attempts to think capitalism in psychoanalytic terms, Tomšič makes an apt critique of “psychoanalytic generalizations,” Tomšič 2015, 149–56. 4. “‘Generic,’ for Marx, names the becoming of the universality of human being, and the historical function of the proletariat is to deliver us this generic form of the human being. So in Marx the political truth is situated on the side of genericity, and never on the side of particularity. Formally, it is a question of desire, creation, or invention, and not a matter of law, necessity, or conversation . . . So for Cohen—as well as for Marx—the pure universality of multiplicity, of sets, is not to be sought on the side of correct definition or clear description but on the side of nonconstructibility. The truth of sets is generic.” Badiou 2015, 54. 5. See Roudinesco 1994 and Roudinesco 2000. 6. Especially since Jacques-Alain Miller and Elisabeth Roudinesco have become notoriously hostile toward each other, it is quite striking that we now see the former repeating her claims concerning how formal democracy and the right to free speech are conditions for the practice of psychoanalysis. See Miller 2017b. 7. For an account of formal freedom versus real freedom in Marx, see Elster 1985, 204–11. See also “synthetic freedom” in Snircek and Williams 2015, 78–83. 8. A good overview of the WAP’s current campaign concerning the need to “defend democracy” from the radical Left and Right alike, for the sake of the discourse of psychoanalysis, can be found in Wolf 2018. 9. See, for example, Mbembe 2001 and Gago 2017. The classical philosophical references here are, of course, Agamben 2005 and Agamben 1998. 10. Marx 1976, 138–63. 11. Marx 1976, 139–40. 12. Marx 1976, 161–62. 13. Marx 1976, 198–209. 14. Marx 1976, 270–80.

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15. Karatani 2014, 87–90. 16. Marx 1976, 220–31. 17. “Need” should not be confused here with “basic needs”—commodities satisfy needs that arise “from the stomach, or the imagination”: a need is defined merely as the lack of something, with no regard to the quality of the lacking thing. See Marx 1976, 125. 18. Marx 1976, 198. Even though some take the distinction between simple circulation (C-M-C’) and capital circulation (M-C-M’) to represent two stages of the market and capitalist economy, it is clear that the two forms overlap in capitalist social formations, even if the latter is the one which provides the organizing principle for the social production of commodities. 19. Marx 1976, 198–209. 20. A general overview of the development and difference between schools of economic thinking from 1790 to the early twentieth century can be found in Schumpeter 1986; see also Fine 2016, especially 21–45. 21. We are not concerned here with the existence or not of a necessary transitive determination between the actual time spent by labor and the determination of the magnitude of value—a point which would define how much of the classical “labor theory of value” Marx in fact absorbed into his theory. Our focus is rather on the supposition of a determining principle that is irreducible to the interplay between consumers’ demands for commodities. Two good resources here are Elson 1979 and Heinrich 2004. 22. Žižek 1989. 23. Lacan 2006, 27: “And is it not the responsibility their transference entails that we neutralize by equating it with the signifier that most thoroughly annihilates every signification—namely, money?” 24. See the class of May 9, 1962, in Lacan’s seminar on identification. 25. Karatani 1997, 161–62. 26. Lacan 1998b, 276. 27. A notable exception to the rule of ignoring the role of payment in the consolidation of the position of the analyst is Bruce Fink’s “Analysand and Analyst in the Global Economy; or, Why Anyone in Their Right Mind Would Pay for Analysis”: “We pay so that we can assign the analyst to whatever role we want, knowing that the analyst will accept to serve as a placeholder. The analyst comes to occupy the place of the cause of our desire, Lacan says, and we use and abuse that cause as it seduces us or drives us to distraction. (That cause is the lever that can move and remove symptoms.) The money we give analysts means that they are not playing this role as a favour for which we must be eternally grateful, as we often feel we must be to our parents, whom we can never adequately thank for having brought us into this world. Payment means they are not doing it out of charity, because they love us, or because they think we are good-looking or charming or might turn out to be useful to them in some way. Payment means they are doing it because it is their job to do so.” Fink 2011, 32. 28. Žižek 2006a, 305. 29. “In comparison with most forms of psychotherapy, where the therapist works by providing knowledge and advice, psychoanalysis emphasises the work

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involved on the analysand’s part. The analyst’s work is mentioned too at times, but markedly less so. Psychoanalysts require analysands to work, but instead of paying them for their work, we make them pay for the privilege of working. (Personal trainers do much the same: people pay such trainers to make them sweat.) Not only is their labour unpaid, but they are obliged to pay someone who often seems to them not to be working nearly as hard as they are.” Fink 2011, 31. 30. Lacan 2006, 515. 31. “One constantly has on one’s lips, without quite knowing what one means, the term the liquidation of the transference. What, in fact, does the term mean? Exactly what assets are being liquidated? Or is it a question of some kind of operation in an alembic? Is it a question of—it must go somewhere and empty itself somewhere? If the transference is the enaction of the unconscious, does one mean that the transference might be a means of liquidating the unconscious? Do we no longer have any unconscious after an analysis? Or is it, to take up what I said before, the subject who is supposed to know who must be liquidated as such?” Lacan 1998b, 267. 32. Marx 1976, 128. 33. Marx 1976, 270–81. 34. Marx 1976, 131: “He who satisfies his own need with the product of his own labour admittedly creates use-values, not commodities. In order to produce the latter, he must not only produce use-values, but use-values for others, social use-values.” 35. “I do not doubt that it would be easier for fate to take away your suffering than it would for me. But you will see for yourself that much has been gained if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into common unhappiness. With a mental life that has been restored to health, you will be better armed against that unhappiness.” Freud and Breuer 1955, 305. 36. A good overview of the debate around the crisis of value can be found in Larsen 2014. 37. Watanabe 1991, 25–36. 38. A good overview of this theme can be found in Bhattacharya 2017. See also Elson 2002, 26–38. 39. Freud 1990, 100. 40. Lacan seems to suggest this at points, for example in his discussion of language and entropy in the class of January 14, 1970, in Lacan 2007a. 41. Hence Lacan’s difficulty with theorizing the analytic act, ultimately connecting it to an impossible structure, defined as that which “does not cease not to write itself.” See Lacan 1998a, 59. Compare the status of the impossible with Marx’s remarks on the relation between value and commodity: “The taste of porridge does not tell us who grew the oats, and the process we have presented does not reveal the conditions under which it takes place, whether it is happening under the slave-owner’s brutal lash or the anxious eye of the capitalist.” Marx 1976, 290. For a discussion of the impossible within the value-form structure, see Tupinambá 2014a. 42. Consider this almost whimsical passage by Charles Melman , in Goldenberg (ed) 1997: “All of this allows me to say something regarding the issue of

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VAT [the value-added tax] insofar as its nonapplicability in the psychoanalytical session is concerned. Each one of us will quickly understand the reason for this. In the psychoanalytical operation, it is not about adding value to whatever it is, nor to any one. Does this mean, then, that it is a matter, on the contrary, of removing it? One shouldn’t exaggerate. What can be said is that the psychoanalytical operation, it is a matter of exonerating, it is to have a clear idea regarding what creates value. Can one maintain that psychoanalysis is then a service that is delivered? It is much harder to advance in the matter when the one who works is the analysand. I believe that these few references, these reflections concerning precisely the manner in which the psychoanalytical operation doesn’t produce anything that would be of the order of value in the course of its process, show that psychoanalysis stands in the face of what creates value, which is at the same time what essentially disqualifies its figuration as a service delivery. If anything should be brought into the discussion, with regard to the fiscal administration that dedicates itself today to enforce that certain categories of psychoanalysts pay the VAT, it is this point which could be a background argument of the greatest interest for our practice to recognize and to ratify as such, and which would allow, at the same time, to effectively distinguish us from all the other goods and services.” 43. Marx 1976, 159. 44. This is what Bruce Fink argues in Fink 2011. 45. Freud 1964, 244. 46. See the class of May 10, 1961, in Lacan’s seminar on transference. 47. The famous impasse of who analyzed Freud stems from this paradox— which is in fact reworkable once we include the role of the desire of psychoanalysis into the analytic procedure. Althusser had an interesting take on this, which would deserve further attention—see Althusser 1993.

Chapter 6 1. Lacan 2001a, 329. 2. Freud 2010, 146 (translation adapted). 3. Freud 1996, 93. 4. Lacan 1978, 146. 5. Lacan 1978, 30. 6. See Pearl 2009; and Hacking 1999, 63–99. 7. Lacan 1978, 149. 8. Lacan 2001a, 334. 9. Žižek 2012a, 770–71. 10. Lacan 1978, 254. 11. Kripke 1980, 24. 12. Lacan 1984, 13. 13. Lacan 1978, 150. 14. Lacan 1978, 234. 15. See the class of May 7, 1969, in Lacan 2006. 16. Lacan 2001a, 335.

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17. Žižek 1998. 18. See the class of November 15, 1961, in the Lacan seminar on identification. 19. Žižek 1998; see also Žižek 1989. However, the most complete discussion of the concept of the subject supposed to believe, and the logic of “interpassivity,” is Pfaller 2014. 20. Karatani 2014, 87–90. See also Marx’s discussion of world-money in Marx 1976. 21. And does not the structure of displaced belief also help to clarify the position of the members of the École Freudienne de Paris at the moment of its dissolution? By behaving as if the dissolution was in fact an act of analytic interpretation, both Lacan and the remaining analysts did not have to adopt the perspective from which analysts, analysands, and Lacan himself would all be indistinctively counted together. A perspective which Louis Althusser—who was in fact accused of identifying too much with psychoanalysis!—tried nevertheless to point out, as we previously discussed.

Chapter 7 1. The term “idea” is listed a total of four times in Krutzen’s conceptual index for all of Lacan’s seminars. See Krutzen 2009, 297. 2. For a brilliant and ambitious genealogical approach to the constitution of the psychoanalytic clinic, see Dunker 2012. 3. “From the real as cause to the real as consistency one can read a trajectory of integral materialism. Once the numerical succession is engendered in the efficacy of the vanishing term, we must still know what it is that makes all these numbers hold together. Once it is understood that one succeeds the other, in the causality marked by the zero, and that they all belong to the domain of number, we must know which is the One-of-numbers, the general adherence in which the succession consists. The algebraic linkage of atoms of the denumerable cannot in and of itself ground the continuity of their common maintenance.” Badiou 2009, 228. 4. The most radical of Lacan’s critiques of Freud, and also the most exemplary, concerns Freud’s anthropological commitments underlying his theory of castration and the place of the father in the Oedipal complex, which Lacan interprets as an unnecessary invariant trace binding enjoyment and the dead father. See the class of March 18, 1970, in Lacan 2007a. 5. Badiou 2009, 54. 6. Kojin Karatani has provided an interesting account of what he calls the “textual turn” in French philosophy—which supplanted the “architectural metaphor” that had oriented most of Western thought until the Second World War. In Architecture as Metaphor, he analyzes both the gains and problems which arise from the centrality of the textual metaphor in critical thought, and especially from the new centrality of the “other” as a crucial category. See Karatani 1997. 7. Badiou reconstructs the ontological option for alterity as a primitive in

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the face of the impossibility to think the “heteros” as such in the first meditations in Being and Event. His own position can be summarized as the shift from otherness to the void and the infinite as primitives. See meditations 1 to 3 in Badiou 2006. See also his statement “My aim is to subtract Eros from every dialectic of the Eteros,” in Badiou 2008b, 182. 8. Freud 1990. 9. The most comprehensive account of the different conceptions of the real in Lacanian psychoanalysis is Eyers 2012. 10. Freud 1990, 79–80. 11. Freud 1990, 80. 12. Adapted translation—the original German reads: “Durch die bisherigen Erörterungen sind wir aber voll darauf vorbereitet, die Formel für die libidinöse Konstitution einer Masse anzugeben. Wenigstens einer solchen Masse, wie wir sie bisher betrachtet haben, die also einen Führer hat und nicht durch allzuviel ‘Organisation’ sekundär die Eigenschaften eines Individuums erwerben konnte. Eine solche primäre Masse ist eine Anzahl von Individuen, die ein und dasselbe Objekt an die Stelle ihres Ichideals gesetzt und sich infolgedessen in ihrem Ich miteinander identifiziert haben.” Freud 1940. 13. It is worth mentioning that Freud’s diagrams often implied connections that were not explicitly stated in his prose descriptions of them. The most notable example is the case of the “Project for a Scientific Psychology,” where the famous diagram for the case of Emma—in the chapter on the hysteric’s “proton pseudos”—marks an empty place (later associated by commentators with the real dimension of the trauma) that was not part of the explicit development or formalization of the case. Freud and Kris 1954, 410–14. 14. At another point, the English translation clarifies the separate reference to the place of the ego ideal: “The object has taken the place of the ego ideal.” Freud 1990, 75. 15. The question of the status of “external reality” in Freud’s thinking is a thorny one. A good summary of Freud’s ambivalent remarks concerning what is outside the psychic apparatus can be found in Casey 1972, 659–90. Boothby’s Freud as Philosopher also provides an insightful discussion of the role of “external constraints” and their mode of inscription into psychic reality; see Boothby 2001, especially 191–240. Given the Kantian overtones of Freud’s use of the “Thing,” Beatrice Longuenesse’s discussion of Freud and Kant in her recent I, Me, Mine can also be of use here. See Longuenesse 2017, especially part 3. 16. Freud directly refers to the famous “Das Ding” (not to be confused with “die Sache”) only a few times: in the “Project for a Scientific Psychology” of 1895, and in the fundamental “On Negation” of 1925. See also Lacan 1992, 19–71. One of the most insightful and engaging discussions on Lacan and Freud with regard to the status of the Thing can be found in Adrian Johnston’s line-by-line reading of Lacan’s “The Freudian Thing”: Johnston 2017. 17. A great critique of the misreading of Lacan which posits the real as a pre-symbolic—and therefore unattainable—outside can be found in Žižek’s work. See Žižek 1996. 18. On the consequences of treating “external reality” in a way that does

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not consider the real of desire as such, see Zupančič’s critique of the “speculative realism” movement in Zupančič 2018, 73–83. 19. See Balibar 2011, 383. Lacan also points out Freud’s effort at extrapolating out of clinical matters in the last class of his seminar on transference. 20. See the whole last section of Lacan 2015, 329−98. 21. “I am astounded that no one has ever thought of objecting to me, given certain of the terms in my doctrine, that the transference alone is an objection to intersubjectivity,” Lacan 2001a. 22. Lacan 1991a, 316. 23. The bibliography on the relations between the Lacanian real and ontology is quite vast. We refer the reader to a small but brilliant sample: Zupančič 2018; Balmès 1999; and Eyers 2012. 24. A new position in the debate between Lacanians, who rightly recognize the singularity of the concept of the real in psychoanalysis, and “speculative realists,” who are not wrong in worrying about the real viewed from nowhere, could be constructed by taking into consideration this materialist theory of the clinical space and how it might help us to regionalize the different and incommensurable concepts of the real. 25. “This desire of the subject, qua desire of desire, opens onto the cut, onto pure being, here manifested in the form of lack”; class of July 1, 1959, in Lacan 2019. 26. See the class of December 13, 1961, in Lacan 1961. 27. Lacan 2008, 38. 28. See Freud’s discussion of the “complexes” of the I and the other in his “Project for a Scientific Psychology” of 1895, and his theory of judgment in “On Negation”—both texts where the problematic of the Thing are dealt with by him. 29. Freud 1919, 217–56. 30. “Let us consider the paradox that it is at the very moment at which the subject no longer has any object before him that he encounters a law that has no other phenomenon than something that is already signifying; the latter is obtained from a voice in conscience, which, articulating in the form of a maxim in conscience, proposes the order of a purely practical reason or will there.” Lacan 2006, 647. 31. Lacan 1998b, 3. 32. See the class of February 21, 1962, in Lacan 1961. 33. “But then if the signifier, in its function of difference, is something which presents itself thus in the mode of the paradox of being precisely different because of this difference which would be based or not on similarity, of being something other which is distinct . . . what distinguishes it is not at all an identity of resemblance, it is something else”; class of December 6, 1961, in Lacan 1961. 34. Lacan analyzes the limits of this grammar—which he adequately calls a “metaphysics”—in his second seminar. See Lacan 1991b, 53–63. See also his later remarks on the metaphorical status of Freud’s energetics in Lacan 2016, 110. 35. For the distinction between the signification and the “significance” of the signifier, see Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe 1992, 61–85. 36. “Couldn’t the earliest signifier of negation have been the elision of a

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signifier?” in Lacan 2006, 577. See also “The Signification of the Phallus,” also in Lacan 2006. 37. Žižek summarizes this transformation with an analogy with the theory of relativity in modern physics: “Apropos the notion of the Real as the substantial Thing, Lacan accomplishes a reversal which is ultimately the same as the passage from the special to the general theory of relativity in Einstein. While the special theory already introduces the notion of the curved space, it conceives of this curvature as the effect of matter: it is the presence of matter which curves the space, i.e. only an empty space would have been non-curved. With the passage to the general theory, the causality is reversed: far from causing the curvature of the space, matter is its effect, i.e., the presence of matter signals that the space is curved. What can all this have to do with psychoanalysis? Much more than it may appear: in the way exactly homologous to Einstein, for Lacan, the Real—the Thing—is not so much the inert presence which curves the symbolic space (introducing gaps and inconsistencies in it), but, rather, an effect of these gaps and inconsistencies.” Žižek 2006b, 63. 38. See the class of December 6, 1961, in Lacan 1961. 39. For a historical account of the consolidation of axiomatic set theory, see Ferreirós 2007. The main documents in this process can be accessed in Heijenoort 1996. 40. See Lacan’s introductory remarks on the unary trait in the last class of his seminar on transference. 41. Lacan 1998b, 263. 42. Lacan 1998b, 276. 43. Hegel, who thought dialectically, but had no reason to treat the interplay of One and Other as the primitive articulation in his logic, found ways around this impediment in his Science of Logic by treating every dialectical movement as, simultaneously, the morphogenesis of another, so that concepts are always both primitive with regard to some movement and a result with regard to another. 44. For a detailed reconstruction of the paradoxes of the One and the Multiple, especially in reference to Plato’s Parmenides—one of Lacan’s main references—see meditations 1 to 3 in Badiou 2006. 45. Lacan 1998a, 81. 46. Lacan 1998a, 34. 47. See the class of December 4, 1968, in Lacan 2006. 48. Tho 2008. 49. Miller 2000a. 50. The most complete study of Lacan’s formulas of sexuation remains Le Gaufey 2006. 51. Lacan 2006, 697. 52. A set is said to be “closed” under an operation if the performance of that operation on members of the set always produces a member of that set. For example, the positive integers are closed under addition, but not under subtraction: 1−2 is not a positive integer even though both 1 and 2 are positive integers. 53. Lacan 2007c, 120.

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54. Lacan 2007a, 121. 55. See “Beyond the Reality Principle,” in Lacan 2006. 56. Lacan 1998a, 9–13. 57. A great summary of this specific moment of Lacan’s teaching can be found in Zupančič 2006. 58. See the class of June 11, 1969, in Lacan 2006. 59. Lacan 1998a, 102. 60. Badiou 2008b. 61. Lacan 1998, 102–3. 62. A good overview of the history and basic problems of contemporary set theory can be found in Stillwell 2010. 63. Hallward and Peden 2012, 160. 64. The intuitionist research project in mathematics was never an essentially critical endeavor, but it has spun some of the most creative mathematics in the twentieth century. For a good reference, see Brouwer 1981; Kripke 1980; Martin-Löf 1975. 65. For a defense of Lacan’s formulas against Badiou’s critique—one of the few serious Lacanian attempts to deal with it—see Grigg 2005, 53–65. Ultimately, Grigg’s reproach to Badiou concerns Lacan’s pragmatism: Lacan had to do what was needed, in terms of patching up different philosophical positions with regard to mathematics, in order to model the theory of sexuation. Badiou is then charged with importing a philosophical debate—between realism and constructivism in mathematics—into psychoanalysis. Note that our reading here goes the other way: for us, Badiou is the one who is pointing out the intrusion of a philosophical, and therefore extrinsic, commitment in Lacan’s model, leading him to restrict its proper formalization due to an informal intuition of certain concepts. Curiously enough, it was Badiou himself who, in his Logiques des mondes, made a more consistent recourse to Heyting algebras and intuitionist logic in order to continue developing a Lacanian-inspired theory of the subject. 66. Badiou 2008b, 218. 67. The paradigmatic example of how to define the infinite through the concept of radical otherness is, of course, Levinas. See Levinas 1999, 53–76. 68. Moore 2001. 69. See Hallett 1984. 70. Ferreirós 2007. 71. Woodin and Heller 2011. 72. Lacan 2018, 97. 73. Lacan 2018, 80. 74. Badiou 2008b, 220. See also Gödel 1947, 515–25. It is worth noting that Gödel clearly refers to the relative quality of inacessibility in this text, which is also Lacan’s direct reference on the theme. 75. See also Gödel 1947, 515–25. 76. Kreisel 1958, 155–82. 77. For a general introduction to Gödel’s strategy, see Hallett 1984. See also Gödel 1938, 220–24.

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78. A step-by-step discussion of both Gödel and Cohen can be found in Baki 2015. Cohen’s original contribution can be found in Cohen 1963, 1143–48. See also Cohen 2002. 79. Baki 2015, 215. 80. We rely heavily, although simplifying it to the extreme, on the reconstruction provided by Baki. 81. See especially the classes XIX, XX, XXI, and XXII in Miller 2000b. See also Lacan’s remarks on Cantor in the “Proposition of 9 October 1967” in Lacan 2001a. 82. Lacan 1998, 263.

Chapter 8 1. Lacan 2001a, 252. 2. Manonni 1962. 3. Lacan 2001a, 243. 4. Lacan 2001a, 243. 5. A good overview of the actual situation of psychoanalytic practice in France during the time of Lacan’s intervention can be found in Quinet 2009. 6. Lacan 2001a, 2. 7. Lacan 2001a, 2. 8. For a general critique of the logic of teaching, see Rancière 1991. 9. Latour’s work on the practices of the sciences can be instructive here, as can Lee Smolin’s specific study of the financial conditions surrounding the hegemony of string theory in academia. See Latour 1986; Smolin 2006. 10. For a varied literature on the topic, see Bridgman 1927; Feyerabend 1978; Knorr-Cetina 1981; and Popper 2002. 11. For Lacan’s doctrine of the “foreclosure of the subject” in science, see “Science and Truth” in Lacan 2006; and Milner 2020. See also Glynos and Stavrakakis 2002; and Leupin 1991. 12. Jean-Claude Milner and Alain Badiou entered into a remarkably instructive polemic in 1995 on the location of thinking in psychoanalysis: should one state, with Milner, that there is thinking in Lacan [chez Lacan] or that there is psychoanalytic thinking [dans la psychanalyse], as Badiou proposes? See Badiou 2018. 13. Lacan 2001a, 245. 14. Lacan 2001a, 245. 15. Lacan 2001a, 230–31. 16. Perhaps one of the reasons why the distinction between “intension” and “extension” has been mostly taken up in terms of an opposition between clinical practice and other forms of psychoanalytic activity can be found in the problematic way in which these terms are employed by Lacan himself, by equating the “extensional”—the moment in which cases precede their concept—with the transmission of psychoanalysis—and equating the “intensional”—when definitions come before what they define—with didactic analysis, a movement which deprives it of conceptually productive status.

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17. Lacan 2001a, 246. 18. Lacan 2001a, 246. 19. See the class of December 5, 1956, in Lacan 1994. 20. Lacan 2001a, 247. 21. Lacan 2001a, 2. 22. Allouch 2009, 29–31. 23. Brian Rotman, in his deconstructionist take on infinity, manages to expose quite clearly the problem which plagues most philosophies of mathematics with regard to actual infinity: its challenge to the “materialist” approach which interprets mathematical operations as performed by a concrete agent of counting. “In relation to the infinite, to the possibility of a never-ending counting, the resemblance between Subject [of mathematical commands] and Agent [who performs them] becomes pivotal. And the decisive characteristic is that of physicality. Is the mathematical Agent, the imago who is to count endlessly for us, imagined to have a body—however idealized and ethereal—or is it a wholly disembodied, immaterial phantom?” Rotman 1993, 9. 24. Lacanians have interpreted this disjunction—as one could anticipate— as a foreclosure of the subject. See Charraud 1994. For a different perspective, also in dialogue with psychoanalysis, on mathematical thinking and its noncoincidence with the mathematician, see Guitart 2000 and Guitart 2008. 25. It is worth remarking that there have been attempts to show that the institution of the symbolic Other requires the passage through an infinite set—see, for example, Lasry 1982, 84. 26. Lacan 2001a, 249. 27. See Badiou’s justification for rejecting philosophical positions toward mathematics which reject practical mathematical results out of principle: Badiou 2004b, 54. 28. Freud 1990, 285. 29. Freud 1990, 283. 30. Dunker 2012. 31. Dunker 2012, 210. 32. Foucault 1973. 33. Dunker 2012, 245–94. 34. Lacan 1998b, 54. 35. Lacan 1998b, 96. 36. Žižek and Milbank 2009, 71. 37. Lacan 2001a, 254. 38. Lacan 2001a, 255. 39. Lacan 2001a, 255–56. 40. Lacan 1998b, 273. 41. For an analysis of the transformations in Žižek’s thinking regarding the traversal of fantasy, see Tupinambá 2014b. 42. See the class of January 22, 1969, in Lacan 2006. 43. “Suture” in Hallward and Peden 2012. 44. See our previous elaborations on free association in chapters 2, 5, and 6.

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45. “Only repetition is interpretable in analysis, and this is what we call transference,” Lacan 2006, 335. 46. Lacan 2006, 412. 47. Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe 1992, 61–85. 48. Tom Eyers developed the distinction between the “signifier in relation” and the “signifier in isolation” in Eyers 2012. 49. Lacan 2001a, 252. 50. See Miller 1983. See also Laurent 2003, 67–73. 51. A good philosophical overview of the concept of the Other can be found in Chiesa 2007. For a more clinical approach, see Lefort and Lefort 1994. 52. “The École Freudienne cannot fall into the humourless tough-guy attitude of a psychoanalyst whom I met on my most recent trip to the D.S.A. ‘The reason I will never attack the established forms,’ he told me, ‘is that they provide me with a routine with no problems, and this makes me comfortable.’” Lacan 2001a, 259. 53. Miller 2000b. 54. See Miller 1983. See also Laurent 2003. 55. For the origin of the concept in Freud, see his “A Child Is Being Beaten,” in Freud 1964. A Lacanian take on Freud’s theory of constructions can be found in Miller 1998. 56. Lacan 2001a, 254. 57. Lacan 2001b. 58. A beautiful study of the metaphorical uses of irrational numbers can be found in Granger 1998. 59. Žižek 2007. 60. See the preface to the English edition of The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, available in Lacan 2001a. 61. “We thought, with Freud and after Freud, that once this parenthesis was closed, one nevertheless had to continue to be analyzed, without the analyst, in solitude. One would go back to it, occasionally—regularly, Freud wished—for a period of time. To taste again a little of the transferential unconscious. The other solitary one, Lacan, imagined another route, that of establishing a relationship to the analytic cause. Designed as the second pass, oriented in the opposite sense. Attention! Not a new transference for the analyst. The transference to analysis.” Miller 2007. 62. See the “Discourse at the École Freudienne de Paris,” in Lacan 2001a, 262. 63. Žižek and Daly 2004, 44. 64. Lacan 2001a, 236.

Conclusion 1. Lacan 1979, 66.

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Index

Allouch, Jean, 184, 186, 247, 249 Althusser, Louis, xiii, 10–11, 16–17, 24, 30, 71–73, 77, 100, 217, 229–30, 232, 236, 240–41, 249 antinomy, 78, 82–83, 90–91, 112, 137 artificial setting, 40, 42–44, 46, 48–49, 53, 55, 57, 120, 124–26, 130, 139–40, 142, 145, 167, 194, 197–98, 223 axioms, 32, 41, 124–25, 149–50, 168–73, 177, 185–86, 195, 204, 210, 226 Badiou, Alain, 11, 13, 22, 25, 29, 31, 34–38, 42, 44, 52, 54, 58, 90, 95, 116, 122, 140–42, 162–65, 230–33, 237, 241–42, 244–47, 249 beliefs, 8, 68, 73, 91, 115, 122, 133–37, 221, 240–41 Blanché, Robert, 31, 232 Boole, George, 33, 232 Borromean knot, 22–23, 70, 87–89, 138 bracketing, 23, 82–84, 86, 90–91, 99–100, 121, 137 Cantor, Georg, 149–51, 164, 167, 169–70, 172–73, 186–87, 246 capitalism, 44, 83, 97 108–11, 114, 237 Cohen, Paul, 170–72, 187, 226, 237, 246 commodity-form, 83, 98, 100–103, 108– 9, 135, 234, 238–39; commodity exchange, 99–107, 114, 121, 135–36, 182, 224 compossibility, 21–24, 36, 99, 118, 120, 139 constructability, 169, 171–72 Dedekind, Richard, 187 Deleuze, Gilles, 189 desire: of the analyst, 3, 65–72, 105, 181,

187, 193, 215, 217, 224; of the Other, 3, 146; of psychoanalysis, 3–6, 15, 74, 93, 112, 219, 240 dialectics, 38–39, 80; of the One and the Other 141–60; of regionalization, 121 drives, 40, 43, 56, 67, 70, 77, 122, 126, 151, 238 Dunker, Christian, 189–90, 195, 241, 247 École de la Cause Freudienne (ECF), 12, 14, 62 École Freudienne de Paris (EFP), 10–11, 17, 29, 58, 60, 63–64, 71, 100, 229, 230–31 enclosures, 44, 48, 57, 74, 78, 105–6, 121, 145–46, 165, 168–69, 171–73, 220, 223–25, 235 enjoyment, 6, 19, 25, 27, 53, 55–56, 60, 64, 71, 83, 98, 104, 113, 121, 127–29, 142, 152, 157–61, 163–66, 171–73, 175, 183, 190, 194, 196, 209, 214, 217, 227, 235, 237, 241. See also feminine enjoyment; phallic enjoyment epistemology, xi, xiii, 16, 24, 31, 83, 144, 156, 230 experiments, 4–7, 38–40, 42, 48, 51, 58, 93, 120–22, 223 feminine enjoyment, 27, 142, 158–59, 161, 164–66, 171, 173, 175, 183, 227. See also enjoyment feminism, 110 Ferenczi, Sandor, xii fetishism, 49, 83, 112–15, 120, 134–35, 182 Fibonacci sequence, 159, 172, 196, 204 fidelity, 61, 64, 93

259

260 I N DE x

forcing, 11, 20, 48, 112, 170, 210 formalism, 29, 35–36, 54, 70, 113, 161, 176, 184–85, 187, 201, 204, 206, 208–9, 213, 226–27 Foucault, Michel, 105, 189–90, 247 free association, xii, 43–45, 56, 74, 93, 96– 98, 114, 125, 131–33, 140, 146, 158, 166, 173–74, 176, 183, 197–202, 215– 17, 223–26 Frege, Gottlob, 31–33, 35, 37–38, 48, 164, 196, 232 Freud, Sigmund, xvi, 11, 16–17, 26, 28–31, 35, 40–41, 43, 50, 60, 62–64, 70, 73, 75–77, 79, 92, 95, 104, 107, 109–10, 113, 115–18, 123–25, 129, 132, 135, 139–49, 153, 158–60, 174, 180, 182, 188, 197, 203, 221, 223, 235–36, 239– 43; Analysis Terminable and Interminable, 115, 180; The Dynamics of Transference 123–126; Psychic (or Animic) Treatment 188; Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love, 75 Galileo, 48–49 generalization, 30–31, 34–35, 55, 58, 72, 121,133, 139, 141, 223 generic, vii, 22, 35, 90–94, 98, 112–13, 116–20, 123, 137, 140–41, 170, 172, 174–75, 180, 183, 191, 212–13, 216, 219, 221, 237 Gödel, Kurt, 169, 171–72, 187, 226, 233, 245–46 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 39, 67, 141, 197, 212, 216, 234, 236, 244 historicization, 3–4, 6–7, 14–15, 18–19, 22, 24–25, 30, 44, 51, 53, 58, 70, 73, 77, 81, 85, 87, 91, 93, 99–100, 112, 118, 120, 123, 138, 140, 173–74, 177–78, 180, 187, 205, 207, 219, 237, 244 hypothesis, 4, 8, 48, 63, 73, 78–83, 91, 98– 100, 109, 112–13, 120, 126, 136, 139, 167, 169–71, 177, 183, 185, 188, 190, 214–15, 217, 222–26, 228 idealization, 81, 85, 146 ideals, 4, 62–63, 71–72, 115, 117–18, 132, 139, 143, 145–47, 150–52, 174, 177, 201, 214, 223, 242

ideas, xii, 3, 6, 12, 14, 21, 28–30, 32–33, 37, 42–43, 49–50, 56, 59, 67, 69, 76–77, 84–85, 87, 90–94, 110–13, 115, 127, 137–39, 142, 151, 159, 167, 170, 172, 174, 177, 179–80, 187, 191, 193, 195, 204, 211–14, 218, 221, 240–41; idea of psychoanalysis, 6, 84, 93, 137, 179 identification, xi–xiii, 4, 16, 63, 85, 104, 124–25, 144–45, 150–55, 191, 201, 203, 213, 216, 230, 238, 241 impossibility, xi, 6, 11, 15, 17, 20, 28, 32, 55, 68, 77, 85, 113, 120, 124, 128–33, 152–58, 185, 187, 212, 215, 232, 242 inaccessibility, 159, 166–68, 173–74, 183, 200–201, 204, 207, 209, 214, 245 incommensurability, 23–24, 85–86, 135– 136, 138, 167, 172 independent propositions, 102, 122, 124– 27, 170, 203 infinity, v,72, 90, 98, 101, 105, 117, 136–37, 156, 163–75, 177, 182–83, 185–87, 196, 199, 206, 208, 213–14, 242, 245, 247 institutions, 3–5, 7–8, 10–14, 17–18, 25– 26, 28–29, 55–58, 60, 63–65, 67–68, 70–73, 78, 91–94, 98, 112–13, 120–22, 137–38, 141, 177–78, 180, 182, 187– 88, 191, 193, 206, 211, 214–15, 217– 23, 225, 227, 229, 235 International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), 10, 29, 58, 61, 235 interpretation, xiii, 18, 27, 30, 33, 44, 69, 72, 95, 97, 124, 126, 132, 135, 139, 171, 174, 179–80, 184, 197–98, 200, 203, 218, 220, 225, 229, 232, 241 intuitionism, 163–164, 167, 245 invention, xv, 53, 60–61, 77, 83, 120, 122, 172, 186, 203, 237 Karatani, Kojin, 23, 82–83, 85, 87–88, 90, 101, 104–5, 121–22, 137, 230, 236–38, 241 Lacan, Jacques, iv, vii, xi–xiii, xv, 3, 5–7, 9–17, 24, 26–32, 34, 38–56, 58–74, 77, 79, 86, 92, 95, 104–5, 107, 109, 115– 18, 120, 124–32, 135, 137, 139–42, 144–68, 171–72, 174, 176–87, 190–91, 194–97, 201, 203–4, 206–7, 211, 213, 215, 220–23, 226–27, 229–36, 238;

261 I N DE x

Beyond the Reality Principle, 40, 50, 58, 245; The Direction of Treatment and the Principle of its Power, 66; Function and Field of Speech and Language, 39, 46–47, 49, 58, 157, 234; Mistaking of the Subject Supposed to Know, 126; Proposition of 9 October 1967, 191–215; Seminar XX: Encore, 163; Television 9, 232 Lacanian classicisms, 58, 60, 233 Lacanian ideology, xi, 16, 29–30, 34–35, 38, 52, 58, 74, 84–85, 99, 117, 120, 141–42, 178, 220 Lautman, Albert, 38 Lenin, Vladimir, 26, 73 linguistics, 39–40, 46–47, 49–51, 55, 141, 197 liquidation of transference, 107, 109, 123 181, 204, 239 logicism, 31, 33–34, 37–38, 164 love, v, xiii, 22, 67, 75–77, 85–88, 93–94, 123–25, 129–30, 132–33, 142, 175, 223–24, 238 Marx, Karl, xiii, 11–12, 16, 26–27, 30–31, 35, 44, 71, 83, 100–105, 108–9, 113, 134, 136, 234, 237–41, 249 Marxism, 6–7, 10–11, 14, 26–27, 31–32, 36, 99, 106, 118, 229 mathematician, 169–170, 185, 187, 207, 247 mathematics, 5, 31–35, 36–38, 38, 100, 149–50, 156, 162–65, 167–68, 170, 173, 186–87, 231–32, 247 metapsychology, 4, 8, 25, 28, 40, 43, 45, 48, 51, 54, 56–58, 60, 63, 70, 76–77, 80, 93, 98, 113–14, 118, 120, 122, 132, 139–42, 146, 148, 150–52, 155–56, 161, 167, 173–75, 178, 180, 183, 191, 197, 214, 221, 226 Miller, Jacques-Alain, xi, xiii–xvi, 11, 13, 29–40, 42, 44, 48, 51–55, 58, 60, 120, 162, 164–65, 196, 201, 220–22, 229– 33, 235, 237, 244, 246, 248 Milner, Jean-Claude, 39–40, 60, 233, 235– 36, 246 model, xiv, 5, 29, 31, 37–39, 41–42, 45–47, 49–51, 53, 55, 58, 64, 70, 74, 87–89, 103, 106, 120, 126, 130, 140–42, 146, 151, 154–55, 157, 159, 161–63, 165,

167–68, 170–75, 183, 191, 197, 210, 222, 224–27, 233–34, 245 modeling, 37–38, 40, 43, 46–52, 54, 58, 103, 108, 120, 139–40, 150, 162, 234 multiplicities, 23, 148–49, 151–55, 162–63, 167, 213 naming, xii, 59, 137, 165, 172, 187, 201, 203–4, 221 number, 6, 16, 31–33, 36–38, 62, 76, 78, 90, 143, 156, 159, 166–68, 172, 178, 196, 201, 204, 216, 222, 232, 241 ontological consistency, 3, 5, 17, 23, 25, 34, 36, 50, 65, 78, 88, 91, 103, 122, 125– 26, 128–29, 136, 140, 153, 156, 164, 169–70, 174, 182, 185–88, 190–91, 195, 204–8, 211, 217, 220, 222, 225– 26, 241 ontological homogeneity, 130, 136, 189– 90, 195, 217–18 parallax, 23, 72–73, 77, 82–83, 86, 88, 90, 93, 121, 137–38 passe, vii, 61, 64, 69, 86, 94, 112, 137, 139, 176–78, 180–82, 191, 193–95, 204, 207, 209, 211–18, 223, 227–28; logic of testimony, 203, 205–18, 227; logic of transference, 193–200, 203–4, 206– 10, 213–17, 219, 227, 238–40, 243–44, 248; logic of transmission, 59, 65, 193– 95, 203, 210–13, 215–17, 221, 227, 246; logic of traversal, 69, 87, 192–95, 201–11, 213, 215–18, 227, 247; payment, xvi, 97, 111, 120, 136, 182, 238 phallic enjoyment, 105, 157–61, 163–66, 171–72, 174, 183, 196, 202–4, 206–7, 210, 226–27. See also enjoyment political economy, vii, xvi, 6–8, 10, 15–16, 88, 96–100, 105–6, 108, 112, 121, 238 Porge, Erik, 29, 61, 64, 231, 235 proof by impotence, 155, 161–62, 168, 227 psychoanalysands, xii–xiii, xvi–xvii, 3–4, 41–42, 56, 62, 64, 67, 69–70, 86–87, 92–98, 100, 104–6, 109–14, 117, 121– 123, 130–32, 136–37, 140, 172, 176, 181–82, 191–94, 196–98, 200–201, 203–4, 207, 210–11, 214, 216–18, 224, 239–40

262 I N DE x

psychoanalysis, ix, xi–xiii, xvi–xvii, 3–7, 16, 39, 43–44, 47–51, 54–57, 61–65, 67, 69–70, 74, 76, 80, 82–83, 85, 87–88, 91, 96–97, 100, 104–7, 110–18, 121– 23, 126–27, 129, 131–32, 137, 139–41, 145–46, 152, 157–58, 166, 172–74, 176–78, 180–84, 186–87, 190–97, 199, 201–3, 205–8, 210–13, 215–16, 223– 24, 227–29, 239, 246–48 psychoanalysts, xii–xiii, xvi–xvii, 3–4, 12, 16, 25–26, 41–42, 56, 62, 64–70, 72–74, 77–79, 85–88, 92–93, 95–98, 104–7, 109–17, 121–23, 126, 130–33, 136–37, 157, 176–78, 180–83, 186–87, 190, 192–94, 196–98, 201, 204, 206–8, 210, 213, 215–19, 224, 227, 236, 238– 39, 248 psychoanalytic clinic, xv, 4, 6, 18, 21, 25– 26, 44–48, 56–58, 60–63, 65, 67–68, 71, 77, 79–80, 85–88, 91, 93, 95, 97, 99, 104–5, 110–11, 114, 120–21, 123– 24, 130, 132, 136–37, 139, 145, 155– 56, 159, 174, 181, 183, 188–91, 195, 197, 218, 223, 225–26, 231, 235, 241 psychoanalytic listening, 26, 43, 47, 49–50, 55, 76–78, 97, 110–13, 117, 153, 190, 192, 217 psychoanalytic thinking, iv, xiv, 3–8, 14–15, 17–18, 20–25, 28–30, 32–36, 39–40, 42, 47, 49–51, 53, 55–56, 58–59, 72– 73, 76–78, 80–81, 83, 86, 92, 95, 98– 100, 112–13, 116–18, 120, 129, 138, 140–42, 146, 149–51, 154–57, 161–62, 164–67, 171, 173–74, 176–77, 179–80, 186–88, 191, 193, 197, 207, 212, 214, 219, 221–22, 225, 228–29, 231, 233, 238, 242, 246–47 psychoanalytic training, 87, 115, 117, 178, 180–81, 187, 192, 211 sexuation, 16, 85, 87, 110, 129, 131, 133, 142, 146, 157–63, 171, 183, 194, 227, 244–45 signifier, xi, 31–32, 34–37, 39–42, 44–47, 49, 51–56, 58–59, 67, 70, 74, 97, 104– 5, 110, 114, 120, 126, 139–41, 146, 157–62, 166, 171–73, 175, 182–86, 191, 196–99, 202–4, 207, 220, 224–27, 232, 238, 243–44, 248

sinthome, 25, 117, 212 Societé Française de Psychanalyse (SFP), 10, 60, 62, 65, 67, 229, 235 Soler, Colette, 11 speech in analysis, 43–44, 47–57, 74, 127, 131, 145–46, 158, 166, 176, 183, 196, 199, 223–24 structural dialectics, 141, 148, 155, 157, 160–74, 185, 197, subject: supposed to believe, 133–37; supposed to know, xiii, 87, 109, 114, 123, 126–34, 146, 176, 182–85, 191, 197, 204, 207, 216 suture, 18, 30, 33–35, 165, 208, 225, 232 symptom, xiii, 40, 69, 75, 106, 125, 153,190, 207, 238 testimony, xii, 40–43, 45, 47, 50, 55, 192– 95, 197 therapeutics, 80, 181, 188–90, 225 transcritique, 83–89 transference, xii–xiv, 4–5, 44, 56, 63, 65–66, 85, 87–88, 93, 96, 98, 105, 107, 122–27, 130–37, 139–40, 176, 180–88 transfinite, 163–64, 167–68, 172, 186–87, 201, 204, 210, 215 unconscious, 4, 27, 34, 39, 46, 50–51, 67, 70, 78–86, 89–94, 98, 106–7, 112–13, 115, 117, 120–22, 124–27, 129–30, 134–39, 144, 156, 184, 187, 190, 203, 207, 210, 214–15, 217, 222, 225–226, 239, 248 universality, 76–77, 87, 160, 164, 174, 211, 222, 227, 237 value-form, 50–51, 83, 98, 100–103, 105– 12, 114, 120–21, 135–37, 156–57, 159, 196, 220, 237–40 World Association Psychoanalysis (WAP), 11–13, 18, 20, 28, 220–22, 229–30, 237 Žižek, Slavoj, ii, iv, vii, ix, xi, 11, 13, 22–23, 72–74, 77, 88, 105, 133–35, 137, 205, 221, 229–30, 235–36, 238, 240–42, 244, 247–48 Zupančič, Alenka, ix, 11, 243, 245