Colette Soler’s Course of January 6th 1999

(For private use only)

The Lacanian Option
The Cut

I now begin the new course of the College Clinique, and I’m going, first of all, to emphasize the rupture.

Psychoanalysis follows the regime of discontinuity. When I use the word, ‘psychoanalysis’, I’m referring both to analytic treatment and the analytic movement of doctrinal elaboration, on the one hand, and on the other, to the petty histories of analytic communities. Someone who wanted to object to this affirmation of discontinuity could recall that the libido is elastic and plastic, and that the ‘jouissance substance’, as Lacan calls it, suggests, instead, images of discontinuity, of flux. This, indeed, can also be said. It isn’t false. But whatever may be said, it is the cut that, in the field of the libido, produces the differences in potential that animates the parlêtre, differences without which the latter would not have even the semblance of life.

The repetition of the cut does not produce an eternal return, or an eternal new beginning. Repetition produces difference. This is the fundamental thesis that Lacan came to, and according to it, paradoxically, only repetition produces something new. Our analysis of History –of our own history–often amuses me–when I notice the point to which this fundamental thesis has been forgotten, and that it is, nevertheless, repeated, without being applied. One hears it said of recent events: ‘they’re a repetition; it’s always the same thing.’ Our colleagues on the other side tell us that the crisis of 1998 reproduces that of 1980! Well, it’s neither one or the other: either it is a repetition or it is always the same thing. With this thesis, Lacan connects, as you doubtless know, with Soren Kierkegaard’s absolutely remarkable intuitions, which he cites very often, and which, moreover, I commented during the year that I gave a course on repetition in the analytic experience. When it is the same thing, there is no repetition, in the analytic sense of the term; there is only the reiteration of boredom.

Then, on this date– January 1999– beginning this course, the best that I could hope for–I am putting this in the modal, rather than the indicative– would be to contribute to a true repetition, in the analytic sense of the term.

I’m going to introduce the hiatus of our institutional and analytic history today by two signifiers that seem pertinent for indicating the cut in question and for introducing this year’s theme of the transference symptoms.

The example of Lacan

The first signifier is that of the Lacanian option. This expression isn’t new for me. I introduced it– already a long time ago– in my course of 1991. That was the year following the crisis of 1990, and it happens, doubtless not by chance, that for the second consecutive year, I had given my course the title, ‘What Psychoanalysis?’ Viewed today, this title shows me that I had begun to suspect– confusedly, to tell the truth– that a return to the analysis inspired by Lacan could well prove to be necessary.

This expression, the ‘Lacanian option’, was taken up by our Brazilian colleagues, who borrowed it from me, and who made it the title of what became the journal of the B.S.P., the Brazilian School of Psychoanalysis– Optçaõ lacaniana. Its first issue, which was the number 1 of the year 0, included an editorial that referred to this signifier, the Lacanian option, and to the course in which I introduced it.

Obviously, ‘Lacanian Option’ is a signifier that is addressed to another signifier. The other, as I think that you will have guessed, is ‘Lacanian orientation’, which I do not reject at all. The two terms are different but not contradictory, and they can even be articulated with each other, as I will show.

‘Orientation’, in its semantic resonances, is a term that evokes direction and the vector; when it is applied to a teaching, it implies that, in the latter, there is a secret logic, which is not completely apparent, but present. There is an order that it is possible to extract and bring to light. More generally, to orient oneself, whether it is a matter of being oriented in an experience, in life in general, in one’s own life, or in a text, always consists in getting one’s bearings. The opposite terms, which would express a sense of disorientation, would be bewildered, led astray, lost. To get one’s bearings, there must be a latent architecture, or, if you prefer, some cardinal structural points that allow what I could call an ‘order of reasons’ [ordre des raisons] to be reconstituted. In employing this expression, I am borrowing from Martial Guroult, a remarkable commentator on Descartes and other philosophers, who wrote ‘Descartes according to the order of reasons’.

The option is something different. The term’s semantic evokes a choice, and therefore multiple possibilities, whereas orientation evokes the constraints of a logic. Option does not refer to the vector of a deductive order, but on the contrary, to the empty point in the structure of language. This empty point, where the structuring Other is missing, is the place of insertion of what, very early in his teaching, Lacan described beautifully as the obscure decision of being. As you know, he applies this expression to psychosis, in order to evoke the dimension of freedom inherent in it. But this obscure decision of being can be generalized and applied to everyone and every decision. This empty structural point is also what he writes, later in his teaching, as the S(A barre). This point is precisely what is found at the basis of any choice, and, let us say, of any act, any saying [dire]– in the sense in which the saying is an act. It is at the basis of any act, precisely inasmuch as any genuine act is as impossible to deduce as it is to anticipate. You see that we are in a register quite opposed to the deductive constraints of orientation; the register of the option has no less of a relation to truth, but to a special type of truth, which is neither proven nor demonstrated– I will return to this point shortly.

Then I think that from these remarks, it can be grasped that to follow the orientation– the Lacanian orientation, for example– and to take over an option– for example– can be very different. To follow the order of reasons is not the same act as to try to locate oneself on the act that founds the order of reasons. I don’t mean at all that one excludes the other. It is not a case of either/or; instead, the commitment is not the same in the two cases.

It must be said, however, that the two terms have something in common. What they have in common, at the very least, is an opposition to a third term. Which one? Several may be possible, but the one that I will adopt is that of orthodoxy.

There’s a mountain of literature on orthodoxy and the heresies that respond to it. I won’t go into this. I am adopting a definition that is simple, but which will suffice here. Orthodoxy is a fidelity to statements. I believe that it could be said that all heresy trials– both the ancient and the new ones, the ‘hard’ and the ‘soft’ ones, because there are all kinds of them– make war on statements that are forbidden because they are too new and different from the text that founds the orthodoxy. You can note, moreover, that Lacan’s return to Freud supposed that he had liberated himself from the orthodox reiteration of Freudian statements. I will return to this shortly. Thus I say that orientation and option are both opposed to orthodoxy. Orientation, however, is very much a sort of fidelity: not to the statements but to their problematic and the solutions they offer. It’s a fidelity, therefore, to what I called the logical order of reasons. This fidelity is always in question, moreover, because psychoanalysis is not logic, and on is always dealing here with a set of pseudo-axioms and pseudo-demonstrations, which are never quite constraining, and which therefore always remain hypothetical. Nevertheless, it can be said that orientation is an attempt to be faithful to the consistency of a text.

And option? Can one be faithful to an option? The underlying question, as I think you will grasp, is ‘What does it mean to be Lacanian?’ How to be faithful to an option is a question, to the extent that the option is an act, and the act is inimitable. We therefore have a little sentence, which is as seductive as it is treacherous, that Lacan addressed to his students: ‘Do as I do; don’t imitate me’. No pastiche of the act, of the option, is possible. This is not the case with the text: a pastiche can be made of a text, as I have recently had an occasion to discuss elsewhere. How, then, can we be faithful to the option-act, which ‘ex-sists’– a term that can be written as Lacan writes it– from the consistency of the elaboration of the text, which ex-sists from this consistency and also presides over it? Perhaps we could, without excess, speak of a fidelity to the example, for we can be inspired by an example, which does not mean that we can reproduce it in an obvious fashion. Yet this fidelity to the example leaves to anyone who would take it upon him/herself, the whole responsibility for realizing the task. That is, the whole responsibility for what must be reinvented to relaunch the option: to renew the act of inauguration.

The return to Freud

This has led me to reflect anew on Lacan’s return to Freud. I think that it could be interesting to refer you to Michel Foucault’s text, ‘What is an author?’ As some of you may know, he comments there on the ‘return to’, which had a certain currency in the 1970’s. This lecture is from 1969, and was published in the Bulletin de la Société Française de philosophie, it can be found in French today in volume 1 of Foucault’s Dits et écrits, a collection, published by Gallimard, of various texts produced between 1954 an 1988 1

Our colleague Jairo Gerbaz of Salvador de Bahia reminded me of this text. This is all the more interesting since Lacan was present at this lecture, and the report of the discussion mentions the speech that he made during it, one that deals with three points. The first was to say to Foucault that Lacan himself, who had made a slogan of the return to Freud, could only approve completely of the analysis. This is a supplementary reason for me to be interested in what Foucault says about it.

I’m not going to summarize the entire article; I only want to go to the point that interests me. This article takes as its theme, ‘What is an author?’ and is thus concerned with the relation between the author and the text. He distinguishes what he calls the instituting acts of science, of scientificity– for which he chooses, as paradigmatic names, Galileo and Saussure– and the acts instituting discursivity. He designates Freud and Marx as the founders of discursivity. In other words, they are much more than the authors of books! They are subjects who are not only the authors of their works, but are, also, the origin of a larger effect; they have produced other texts and contributions which can occasionally, indeed, be in opposition to them.

The ‘return to’ exists only at the level of the constituting acts of discursivity, and not at that of the instituting acts of scientificity. In the latter, it is possible to rediscover or reactualize, but to ‘return to’, according to Foucault, is quite a different operation.

See p. 807: we ‘rediscover’ through subsequent elaborations of knowledge, which permit what he calls a retrospective coding. In other words, the new knowledge makes aspects and elements, which had not been valorized, and which suddenly take on a new interest, appear in an old work. To reactualize is something else. It consists in reinserting an old discourse into a new field of application and generalization. It is to perceive that an old discourse retains a usage in subsequent developments of knowledge.

The return is quite different. There is a return only when the source is lost. The condition of a return is that ‘there has been a forgetting’, but one that is not contingent, not accidental, for in the field of the inaugurations of discursivity, ‘the act of inauguration is such, in its very essence, that it cannot be forgotten’, and is in proportion to the new discursivity’s success (p. 808) 2 You can see why I am especially interested in the act of inauguration, because it is precisely what I call the option. The return, when it is produced, in not an ornament or an addition; it is not a brushing-up of a painting that has faded. The return, Foucault says, is ‘an effective and necessary task of transforming the discursive practice itself’ 3 His two examples are Lacan’s return to Freud and Althusser’s to Marx. He cites Lacan and does not cite Althusser, but does refer to Marx, and therefore at the time, everyone understood where the return was taking place. The return to Freud is neither a simple revitalization of the Freudian text nor a mere faithfulness to Freud’s text; it modifies psychoanalysis itself. Likewise, the return to Marx modifies Marxism itself.

Therefore, the first very important point, the return supposes a non contingent forgetting, which could be said to be constitutive of the very act of inauguration. But Foucault adds another very important feature on p. 809; the return cannot do less than to target what he nicely calls ‘an enigmatic seam between the work and the author’. Doesn’t this, indeed, seek to designate the point of option, from which the work proceeds?

In this sense, then, Lacan’s return to Freud was a return to the Freudian option, to Freud’s instituting act, inasmuch as precisely the option comes at the very point from which the text proceeds– a strange, enigmatic point. Indeed, it is always enigmatic to know why a Freud found the entrance into psychoanalysis, and why whenever Freud wrote a new text, the discursivity specific to psychoanalysis moved and progressed. Then, of course, it is quite clear that in Lacan, this return to the option supposed a labor of complete transformation: of notions, vocabulary, and, as it were, of the entire analytic doctrine.

The best that we can do, therefore, is to return to the option. Obviously, the Lacanian option cannot, for the moment, be completely circumscribed. Until now, in this opposition between option and orientation, I have limited myself to the two terms’ semantic resonances. A more logical and topological, and also a more complicated, approach can be taken. I am not going to develop this, but I will give some indications for those who would like to work on it, and who are in a position to do so. I will give some relatively brief indications that go a bit beyond the semantics of the two terms. As I have said, orientation and option are articulated with each other; they are articulated in the way that, in logic, consistency, incompleteness, and the undecidable are articulated.

If one talks about consistency, incompleteness, and the undecidable, there is obviously an implicit reference to Godel’s theorem. For those who would like to delve into these issues without having the complicated mathematical means, I will refer you to a little book that was published already ten years ago, in 1989, and which is called Le Théorème de Godel, in the collection, ‘Source du Savoir’. In that book, there are two texts by Godel on the famous theorem, and there are also texts by other mathematical logicians such as Ernst Nagel, James Newman, and Jean-Yves Girard. This little book has the advantage of not requiring a highly developed mathematical knowledge. It is not an easy read; I warn you that it must be read quite attentively and with a pencil in your hand, but finally, it gives you an idea of the field of problems opened up by Godel’s theorem.

What, in summary, does that say? It says that a system is consistent when, for a proposition, one can decide between the true and the false. Such a system is consistent only on the condition of being incomplete, i.e., that one cannot decide between the true and the false for all the propositions within it. They can only be demonstrated elsewhere, by means of another system. Thus, despite the wishes of certain mathematicians, there is no total consistency, for a consistent system includes some unprovable statements. But there is more. What can be demonstrated concerning this unprovable is that the system is consistent only on the condition of being incomplete; the undecidable, on the other hand, is something else. The undecidable is articulated from the fact that the unprovable itself is not assured. It cannot be demonstrated that there are unprovable propositions.

I will return now to the orientation and option. Orientation stalks consistency. The consistency of the text is its object– to follow it in its constraints, i.e., in its deductive order, as it were, which necessarily suffers the consequences of an irreducible incompleteness. Orientation, which tracks consistency, falls under the effect of the limits of establishing all consistency, even mathematical consistency. The option in psychoanalysis would instead be at the place of the undecidable: an unprovable that cannot even be proven to be unprovable. That is the undecidable. The point of undecidability produced by unprovable statements makes the consistency of the orientation incomplete. Put another way, from this point of undecidability, all the statements are produced. The set of all the statements divides into two: there are all the statements ordered according to the order of reasons, but there are also all the unprovable statements that render incomplete the consistency of the orientation.

Lacan tried to give a topological matheme of this logical articulation between consistency, the unprovable, and the undecidable. I will give you a second reference, which I will also not develop, so that you can keep it in reserve, in order to work on it. It is in ‘L’étourdit’, between pages 37, 38, and 39. There Lacan develops what he calls the ‘doxa point’. ‘Doxa’ is the Greek term that designates opinion.

The ‘doxa point’ is another way of naming what Plato, in the ‘Meno’, calls ‘true opinion’. ‘True opinion’ is a strange notion, but it is interesting in relation to what I have just said, since it designates truth that is not demonstrated: truth that is not imposed by the path of deduction. Lacan, of course, is interested in the ‘doxa point’ as the point of option. The ‘doxa point’ is homologous, he says, to the Saying. It is even homologous to the saying of number in mathematics.

It is Lacan’s thesis that mathematics is a discourse, not only a language. This means that it rests, if this can be said, on the Saying of number. Obviously, where it appears most easily is in connection with Cantor, and of what is called his discovery– one could practically say invention– or to take up again a term that Lacan employs concerning the unconscious– his ‘position’ of transfinite numbers. His idea, to Lacan, is that in mathematics, the act of saying the numbers is homologous to the ‘doxa point’ of all discourse. It is a topological reference. If you look at this text, you will see that he uses the distinction of the line, the line of cutting, and the point not contained by the line, to represent the relation or, rather, the articulation between the demonstrable, which is taught and then the point from which everything that is stated of the provable or the unprovable proceeds; this is the point that is not taught.

I know quite well that this is very summary, and demands being worked on. But, in any case, the opposition between orientation and option can, it seems to me, be sustained, logically and topologically, beyond its semantic resonances. I hope, all the same, that I have given you the idea that introducing the theme of the Lacanian option did not come to me as a caprice, one fine day in November 1991; this theme is, on the contrary, inscribed throughout Lacan’s teaching.

Now, I will leave this first concept, which is not a concept, this first signifier, the Lacanian option, and I will introduce the second signifier, in terms of which, as I said at the beginning, I situate the current cut. You already know this second signifier, for it is already circulating: it is the Lacanian Field.

The Lacanian Field

The Lacanian Field is less well know than the Freudian Field, but, if you believe me, deserves to be just as famous. It is Lacan’s own expression, and can be found in his seminar, L’envers de la psychanalyse, especially in chapter V, and on p.93 in particular. I have already had the opportunity to develop this in Barcelona and Rio. Obviously, if he introduces the theme of the Lacanian Field, it is not in order to say that the latter is the Freudian Field. The Lacanian Field differs from the Freudian Field, and it is necessary to say how they are related.

Let’s see, first of all, how he introduces his Lacanian Field. It is very simple: he introduces it almost as a program that has not yet been fulfilled. He says that ‘something remains to be done in psychoanalysis; it is to institute this other energetic field, which would necessitate other structures than those of physics: the field of jouissance’. Four lines later, he specifies, ‘for what is of the field of jouissance– Alas! It will never be called this– the Lacanian Field– for I would surely not have time even to sketch its bases, but I wanted to–’. In other words, this idea is that the field of jouissance should, however little he elaborated it, be named the Lacanian Field. Obviously, this expression, the ‘field of jouissance’ immediately becomes connected for us, as readers of Lacan, with the field of language, which he introduced in 1953, with his ‘Function and Field of Speech and Language’, and which he introduced in the context of the return to Freud. The fact that he qualifies it as energetic indicates something of the sense in which it must be taken. He says elsewhere in the text that ‘jouissance goes from the tickle to the grill’. You see that he is evoking a jouissance that exceeds by far what is called the specifically sexual jouissance. He truly takes jouissance in the whole extension of the living body’s sensory modalities. To this very broad definition, add what he affirms just as categorically on p. 90 of the same seminar: ‘there is discourse only from jouissance, and not only the analytic discourse’. This means that all the discourses, including the analytic, are discourses of jouissance. Jouissance is the general reference, for it is what each discourse seeks to master and order; this is one of Lacan’s formulas.

Thus it follows from these two notations– ‘extension of the open field of jouissance’ and ‘every discourse is a discourse of jouissance’– that the Lacanian Field of jouissance includes the set of the discourses, inasmuch as each discourse is a machine, if you will permit me this expression: a machine to regulate jouissance. There is even more; to use a spatial metaphor, one can say that the Lacanian Field is a patchwork of the four discourses: the master, the university, the hysteric and the analytic. A patchwork, but on condition of including in it the interstices where extra-discursive jouissance circulates, for there is also an extra-discursive jouissance.

Thus the Lacanian Field is not the Freudian Field. The Lacanian Field includes the Freudian Field. What the Freudian Field is, is very clear. It is defined by analytic practice: by analytic discourse and by the ordering of jouissance that prevails in this discourse, for the latter is also an ordering of jouissance.

The Freudian Field is thus the field defined by analytic practice, to which it is necessary to add everything that this practice supposes as its condition, namely Freud’s texts: a return to the author, a return to the instituting act, to the texts themselves of Freud, and the necessity of their diffusion. As Lacan says on p. 22 of the ‘Proposal on the Psychoanalyst of the School’, psychoanalysis has the consistency of the texts of Freud. One can develop this immediately with what I have said about consistency. Thanks to Freud’s texts and not without them– in no case without them– we can say whether or not a practice is analytic; we can settle the question of whether it is true or false that it is analytic. The Lacanian Field, then, is wider than the Freudian Field; it includes the set of the jouissances that stem from the social bonds. I would add, however, that the Freudian Field is perhaps more basic for us, to the extent that, through analytic discourse, light can be thrown on what Freud calls the jouissance caught in psychic reality, and which Lacan would rechristen afterwards as the symptom.

In any case, it is not doubtful that the Lacanian Field is larger than the Freudian Field. Moreover, it is quite true that Lacan, after having introduced his Lacanian Field, never had the time to construct it; he then said that, all the same, he will make a little remark. What does he talk about in order to introduce the field of jouissance as the Lacanian Field? He does not speak of love, the transference, or sexuality; he speaks… of the rich! You see it on p.94, just at the end of the chapter; he begins to make some remarks that, if he had developed them, would have led us towards the question of the jouissance of the rich. What is to be said about the rich? Always the same thing: ‘the rich person does not pay’. Lacan says elsewhere that the rich person cannot be analyzed since he does not pay, and is, in any case, to rich to pay. Only the poor– or those who are not rich– can pay. The latter can pay, but it is very difficult to make a genuinely rich person pay so much that he will have the sense of paying. This is a remark about the jouissance of the rich.

Therefore we introduce the Lacanian Field as a sort of program: to try and give a place to the study of the ordering of jouissance, of the various discourses, not only the analytic, as psychoanalysis permits them to be seen by refraction. It is thus a program that coincides exactly with the political impact of psychoanalysis.

This, then, is the program: the option of Lacan in the field of jouissance. This program is opened up by the cut constituted by our crisis. To choose this program is to choose to return to what Lacan called analytic subversion. This is a term that is no longer used. It must be said that no one believes much in it any more. Not only does one not believe in the revolution, but one also no longer believes in subversion, which is not at all the same thing. Perhaps our new situation could breathe new life into analytic subversion. It is not certain that we can succeed in doing so, but we can try. It seems to me that this would be rather necessary today, for I believe that one of the things that the crisis has brought to light is that the community’s policy has been, and is, that of anti-subversion. One can choose anti-subversion. It is the most frequent choice, and the easiest, but it is certain that it is quite different from that of the analytic subversion. The latter, indeed, is rare. Are there cases in history of a policy that is both conquering and subversive? I don’t have the answer to this historical question; it would be necessary to ask historians, and I will not fail to do so.

In any case, the policy of WAP– and I don’t think that I’m defaming it– is one the conquering assimilation. It is an assimilation to the discourse of the time, and this policy of assimilation profits, fundamentally, from the transference to psychoanalysis that Lacan succeeded in restarting in history. Thus, as I’ve had the occasion to say, the WAP is now a version of the IPA. I have thought of an analogy: ego psychology under the impetus of the famous trio, Hartmann, Kris, and Lowenstein. Ego psychology, along with its reinforcement from London, Anna Freud, sold its soul– its psychoanalytic soul– to adapt to the American way of life, and to survive in American culture. It sold its soul for that, and it lost the thread of the Freudian subversion. I don’t believe that this assertion can really be contested today.

I have the impression that there is no longer any need to go the New York to encounter the fixed idea of the twenty-first century, which is now globally Americanized. The twenty-first century’s monomania is perhaps on the way to producing an analogous effect on the WAP, and is inducing psychoanalysts to become wolves in sheep’s clothing. In the fable, it is the big bad wolf who disguises himself as something respectable. Isn’t psychoanalysis, in its WAP version, donning sheep’s clothing in order to seduce the Americanized twenty-first century? I ask myself that. Fortunately, perhaps the WAP’s arrogance, which always strikes me, toward the very culture it wants to seduce, will limit its chances of assimilation. That would be a good thing.

The symptoms of transference

In any case, here is the program: subversion instead of assimilation. I am coming now to my main theme for this year, and I will situate it in relation to these remarks. Transference is a phenomenon of the Lacanian Field, and not only of the Freudian Field.

Transference is not localized in analytic discourse. Transference exceeds, precedes, and– allow me to say it– will survive psychoanalysis. Transference is omnipresent and eternal, and this is what allowed Lacan to illustrate the transference relation through a Platonic dialogue that, by definition, was unaware of psychoanalysis.

Transference, in relation to psychoanalysis, is at the beginning, and I can reread for you a passage from the ‘Proposal on the Psychoanalyst of the School’, one that you know well, but which there is still an interest in meditating upon anew. Lacan says: ‘At the beginning of psychoanalysis is transference. It is by the grace of the one whom we will call, at the edge of this talk: the psychoanalysand. We do not have to account for what conditions it. At least not here. It is at the beginning’.

But what is this? The transference is already there, but what conditions it? What conditions it is language. Lacan does not respond to the question, ‘what conditions it?’ in this proposal, but we find a response formulated in the ‘Account of the Seminar on the Analytic Act’, which is from 1967-1968, and which appears in Ornicar? 29, p. 21. There he says that ‘the transference is motivated sufficiently by the primacy of the unary trait’. Therefore, it is enough that there be a signifier 1 in order for the transference, the transferential impulse towards S2, and the conditions for the impulse to be there. The transference is, in short, coextensive with the field of language. This coextensive quality obviously obliges us, if we emphasize it, to specify the character of the analytic transference, but the transference, in its general formula, is, beyond the Freudian Field, the Lacanian Field.

If the unary trait, the signifier one, is enough for the conditions of the transference to be installed, then why does Lacan say that ‘it is there by the grace of the analysand’? I would like to comment a bit on this expression. First, it is not at all the same as if he had said, ‘thanks to the analysand’ [grâce à l’analysant]. The transference is there at the beginning… by the grace… this is an expression that obviously evokes others, especially ‘by the Grace of God’. The expression, ‘by the grace of God’ opens laterally the immense field of discussions of the problem of necessary and sufficient Grace, which took place in the church during the Counter-reformation, and culminated with Jansenism. The phrase ‘by the grace’, in fact, evokes contingency. Just as the unary trait is the necessary and sufficient condition, so also ‘by the grace of the Analysand’ evokes contingency. This contingency is not that of the divine other, who, according to his good caprice, saves or does not save the sinner; instead, it is that of the Analysand, who presents to you the signifier of his suffering, the unary trait of her suffering. This is a contingency: the reverse of the ‘by the grace’, which evokes the gift. It is ‘to be at the mercy of’. The analyst is ‘at the mercy of’. This is what is in the gracefully expressed phrase of ‘by the grace’. ‘At the mercy of’– just as the sinner is at the mercy of the salvation that God grants him/her, so it must also be said that the analyst is at the mercy of the analysand’s address, which is already something more than transference, than the transferential base. It is thus that psychoanalysis can, conceivably, one day, lay down its arms before the growing impasses of civilization. This is an expression of Lacan’s. It is conceivable that psychoanalysis will lay down its arms, although we know that the transference, because it is bound up with the structure of language, will never lay down its own arms.

This already gives you a small program: the transference symptoms will have to be distinguished according to whether they are inside or outside analytic discourse. In or outside the analytic treatment, in other discourses; there we find once again the problem of the analytic institution and transference in the analytic institution which is not governed by analytic discourse, and which belongs to the… Lacanian Field.

On the board, I am arranging the four discourses in the order that Lacan writes them at the end of ‘Radiophonie’: the discourse of the Master, its variant, that of the University, and then the discourse of the Hysteric and the analytic discourse. Outside the treatment, transference can be ordered in one way or another, according to the three discourses in question. As is quite clear, the analytic institution is not directed by analytic discourse, and is not a relation between an analyst and his/her analysand; here, three discourses, those of the master, the hysteric, and the university are in play. It will be necessary to differentiate the transference symptoms in the treatment and in the institution, where the other discourses, not only that of the master, but also two others, reign.

Why speak of transference symptoms? This is my second development in introducing this year’s course. To my knowledge, the expression is not in common use. We speak, instead, of transference love, and even now, we go on and on about the word ‘love’. Indeed, many texts by Freud also use the expression ‘transference neurosis’. Transference neurosis does not mean transference love. Instead, transference neurosis evokes symptoms, and not just any of them, but symptoms of the sexed relation, which are going to be constructed in analysis. To say ‘transference symptom’, rather than ‘transference love’, introduces the reference to the drive, to the dimension of satisfaction– befriedigung– to the dimension of the jouissance of transference.

Freud perceived this dimension very early, as early as the papers on technique. Lacan accented it later, during what I have called the ‘second return to Freud’. I used the expression in 1986 in Vigo. The first return to Freud brought to light the unconscious structured like a language; the second return to Freud was the accent on the unconscious as vehicle of jouissance. The latter dates from 1964, the year of Seminar XI and ‘Position of the Unconscious’, and includes all the subsequent texts. In Seminar XI, he says that the ‘transference is the enactment of the reality of the unconscious’, and this reality is sexual reality; it is the drive. There is thus, all the same, and astonishing coincidence. What he introduced in 1964 had, of course, been prepared by all his previous elaborations, but by a strange coincidence, its date corresponds to that of the rupture with the IPA. The seminar of 1964 begins in January 1964. How many years ago is that exactly? Thirty-five years. The IPA had voted to exclude him in October-November 1963, and the decision became effective in December 1963. It is rather impressive to see this coincidence, which is a kind of a mysterious little sign.

To signpost the program, we will have to study the transference symptoms that border analysis, at the entrance and the exit. This already makes two chapters. Then there is the analytic transference itself as a symptom in analysis. Then it will be necessary to put the analyst in the hot seat. We must certainly develop the symptom-psychoanalyst, which is a thesis of Lacan’s. We must also deal with something that is not a thesis of Lacan’s: the analyst’s symptoms. I suggest that we should be interested in the analyst’s illnesses. Then it will be necessary to investigate the symptom-institution, or if you prefer, the transference symptoms in the institution, which are not the same things. We therefore have a vast program ahead of us.


  1.  An English translation of this text can be found in the collection, Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, Volume Two: Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology, ed. James D. Faubion, trans. Josua Harari (New York: The New Press, 1988), 205-222. Since the version published in Dits et Ecrits differs significantly from the one available in English, page references and citations from the Gallimard version will appear in the text itself, and references to the translation will be given in the footnotes.
  2. This passage is omitted from the English version.
  3.  ‘What is an Author’, in Essential Works of Foucault, p. 219.
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