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On the real in a psychoanalysis
by Éric Laurent

Éric LaurentSince his presentation in Athens of the NLS Congress to be held in Ghent in 2014, Jacques-Alain Miller's presentations of Seminar VI have allowed him to develop on what the psychoanalytical practice becomes when it aims at getting past the function of the Other of the Other.

This function of the guarantee was held in Lacan's teaching by the Name-of-the-Father. Once S(A) was marked with a bar, this guarantee appeared for nothing more than a symptom. This shift allowed to get at the place of the enjoying substance as such, place where the guarantee of the symbolic has no hold.

The interstices of the symbolic then become the specific places where the enjoying substance can slip into the small recipients [godet] that can receive and localize it. These places are articulated in the drive circuit and in the fundamental fantasy. From this angle, the fundamental fantasy presents itself as the proper apparatus to organize enjoyment. It begs the question: to what extent does the fantasy, in it's fundamental use, succeed at effectively organizing enjoyment?

In Seminar VI, Lacan uses the focus of the fantasy of the young girl in Nabakov's Lolita as an example to illustrate the regulating function of the construction of the phallic object in the fantasy. The part where Humpert Humpert constructs his fantasy of Dolores before their flight. He insists on how much H.H.'s wild imagining brings him to erect an inaccessible, forbidden idol. We could also compare this focus of the fantasy as a regulating function, which has a forbidden object at it's center, to the construction of the fantasy of the young girl for Lewis Carroll and his idol Alice, just as inaccessible as Lolita. The metaphor of the « focus » is of course re-enforced by the Abbot Dodgson's use of photography. We could also add the technique of Courtly love that erects an object at its center allowing for the regulation of the circuits of enjoyment. Fundamental fantasy and courtly love organize and bring to light the field of enjoyment by tying together the inaccessible and the salvaged enjoyment. These are erotic techniques that situate the forbidden elsewhere than in the dependencies of the Name-of-the-Father.

Lacan will regroup these diverse constructions around the belief that can be expressed as believing in the woman. In this respect, the fantasy is two faced. On the one hand it builds the phallic object, and on the other it allows to salvage the potency that itself is not phallic, but that of the object (a).

In this double perspective, the fantasy writes (−j⁄a). It's a different usage from the one in play when the fantasy manages to aim at a woman while forgoing on belief in the woman. The experience of the pass allows us to question very precisely in the testimonies of the psychoanalytical experience, today, the way the masculine subject has ceased to believe in the guarantee of the Name-of-the-Father and in the guarantee that believing in the woman would give. On the feminine side of sexuation, the belief in the woman can take on the form of being the only woman for a man. The only, often means the only woman in his love life, but that's not all. Beyond the demand of unicity of feminine jealousy, being the only can also take on the form of being the only one who understands him, who knows what he wants and who is capable of giving it to him. The slip between the only and the unique is always possible. Lacan denounces these mirages of knowledge founded on the fantasy: « as, despite all my trying, it is a fact that I am not a woman, I don't know what it really is about that a woman knows of a man. It's quite possible that that go a very long way […].[1] » This solution gives to one woman a solution that we could call the status of a false exception. The true experience of the singularity of the subjective position, without a guarantee, comes with traversing that fantasy to get to the position of realizing and accepting one's solitude.

The testimonies of women Analysts of the School allow us to discern this swing, this change of regime. On the man's side and on the woman's side, beyond the point of regulation, of guarantee, we encounter a beyond all regulation that the program for the regime of enjoyment can provide. There is no more a cosmos of enjoyment than there is a universe of the fault. This formless, outside-of-any-guarantee enjoyment, is the same that is put to question by the question on interpretation that Jacques-Alain Miller isolates: the one that remains beyond the linear causal relationship that would account for its effect. We must distinguish a few regimes of interpretation that are not mutually exclusive. There is the interpretation according to the meaning or according to the multiplicity of the dimension of meaning. But that doesn't make it open to all meanings for as much. Interpretation according to meaning must not forget the object (a) that circulates between the lines and that opposes the notion of a totality of meanings.

In the interpretation that aims at the object (a) between the lines, we still have to distinguish the zone where we can account for an interpretation and for its « reason » in the subjective space, from the zone where it is not possible to account for this point. In this dimension, interpretation is really found to be outside of meaning. The fantasy shows itself for a montage, an apparatus that can be situated as a defense against the remaining enjoyment that escapes every montage to be maintained in iteration.

To approach the psychoanalytical practice from the dimension of the non-guarantee in its radical dimension brings us to take into account that which, in the enjoying substance, is articulated neither in the circuit of the drives nor in the apparatus of the fantasy. It is that of enjoyment that remains non-negatable and no longer behaves like a quasi-letter in its iteration. This is how we can approach what would be the consistence of the real in the psychoanalytical experience. What's important for the real is that the same be materially the same, « the notion of material is fundamental in that it founds the same[2] ».

The « dismantling of the defense » is not only a dismantling of the idol invested in the stead of phallic lack, but also of the circuit of the object (a) so as to encounter the edge of enjoyment that these circuits delimit. The consistances are knotted around this edge. « I deal with the same material as everybody, with this material that occupies us. [3]» Material is taken in the sense of the real of enjoyment. Lacan proposes here an other version of the unconscious that is not composed of the effects of the signifier on an imaginary body, but one that includes the real that is the pure repetition of the same. This is what, in his last Class, Jacques-Alain Miller isolated as the dimension of the One-all-alone that repeats. There, is truly the zone out side of meaning, and out side of any guarantee.

Translated by Julia Richards

  1. Lacan J., The Seminar, book xxiv, L'insu que sait de l'une-bévue s'aile à mourre. Lesson of November 16 1976, in : Ornicar ?, December 1977, n° 12-13, p. 6.
  2. Ibid, Lesson of December 14, 1976, p. 10.
  3. Ibid. lesson of January 11, 1977, in: Ornicar ?, Easter 1978, n° 14, p. 5.