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IXth Congress of the WAP • 14-18 april 2014 • Paris • Palais des Congrès • www.wapol.org

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Making Material from the Real
by Dominique Holvoet

Dominique HolvoetIf Freudian psychoanalysis emerged from the vestiges of the decadent paternalism of the 19th century, Lacan forges a path toward another consistency proper to the 21st century with the category of the real that underlies both the meaning that was garanteed by the Name-of-the-Father, and the fundamental fantasy that is the last resort when the Other does not respond. Lacan situates this other consistency in a place marked by the initial encounter of enjoyment [jouissance] and the body, branding it with an indelible mark that echos in the body as a pure repetition of the same, a bit of the real that is inexorable to all demands, outside of meaning, and with no relationship of cause and effect.

With this theme for the next Congress of the WAP, Jacques-Alain Miller introduces us to this inexorable as another name for the real that an analysis aims at without ever attaining, except bit by bit, as « asystemic fragments »[1].

The initial, contingent encounter, that does not correspond to any will-to-say, produces effects of enjoyment that are always perverse, twisted, and that are, as Miller writes, « what endures as dream »[2] allthesame; leaving us to understand that they are veiled in illusion, as elements of tradition, caught in the nets of meaning and intention, attached at the level of the fantasy. What an analysis aims at, when directed as Lacan taught it to be, is to unwrap the real from meaning; to take this bit of real as it is, without the screen of fantasy, without believing in any other remedy than just swallowing it raw: And so be it !

In his contribution to What's up #7, Éric Laurent, starting with this point of radical non garantee, invites us to take into account « that of the enjoying substance [substance jouissante] that is articulated neither to the circuit of the drive nor to the apparatus of the fantasy ». He then draws attention to a remainder that cannot be negated and « that behaves like a quasi-letter in its iteration »[3]. What's left then, when the analysis leads to this point of disalienation from the fictions of saying [du dire], is this mark outside of meaning, in its materiality of letter. This mark is what Lacan called the sinthome and what Graciela Brodsky, in What's up #8, isolates « as a manner of know-how [savoir y faire], of getting used to the real [s'y faire], of coping with the real, of 'making do with' [se faire à] the real like an artisan makes do with the material he works with »[4] – so that this real be less intollerable because it's put to use. The Real in use is no longer a « clinical » real, proposes Graciela. This allows us to arrive at the sinthome as a program of enjoyment whose repetition […] finally shows that it is, for the subject, the solution found to treat the real as the impossible to bear ». So then the the defense against the real is to be disturbed in a way that extracts a bit of the real that is your individual solution, undivided and unreserved, your program of enjoyment – this, within the regime of The One-all-alone that J-A Miller isolated in his class. As Sergio Laia suggests in What's up #5, there is the real that Lacanian psychoanalysis offers to the 21st century; not the cosmic real, but a bit of the real, « the subtlety, the finesse of a real, for a century that is incessantly mired down in the real »[5].

Is not this bit of the real, product of a completed analysis, already there in gestation in what Lacan says of sublimation in the last pages of Seminar VI, when he underscores perversion as a protestation, a resistance to any endured normalization? Sublimation in this respect differs, as he notes, from « the social valorization that will be given to it later. […] From there, come to be more or less integrated into society […] cultural activities with all the incidences and risks that they carry, up to and including the reforming of older and instored conformisms, even to the point of their explosion. »[6]

And that is when Lacan puts forward the analyst's desire as offering a support for all requests [demands] that answers none, insisting on the void to which the analyst's desire must be limited and inviting the practice of the cut in interpretation. Then only is there a place « left there for desire to lodge ». Will not what Lacan calls « desire » in his teaching finally become the bit of real, both irremediable and outside of meaning, product and solution of the end of analysis ?

Fundamentally, psychoanalysis is this practice that demonstrates that words do not suffice to say it all [7], even that « we're never better taught than by what we don't understand, than we are by nonsense »[8]. The 21st century will need some of this nonsense that comes from each analysis brought to its conclusion so that, out of the worst that the combined discourses of science and capitalism generate, can emerge something new, hitherto unseen, that is unprecidented but not acephalous, that is not desubjectified but carried by a speaking body, by a speaking-being who from its real makes material.

Translated by Julia Richards

  1. Miller J.-A, A Real for the Twenty-first Century, Presentation of the theme of the IXth Congress, Scilicet, Collection rue Huysmans, 2013, p. 25
  2. Ibid.Our emphasis.
  3. Laurent É, What's up #7,On the Real in Psychoanalysis.
  4. Brodsky G., What's up #8,The Clinical and the Real.
  5. Laia S., What's up #5, An offer for the 21st century from psychoanalysis of the Lacanian orientation
  6. Lacan J., The Seminar, book VI, Desire and its Interpretation, Paris, La Martinière – Le Champ freudien, 2013, p. 571.
  7. « What can't be spoken », theme of the next NLS Congress programmed for May 2014 in Ghent.
  8. Miller J.-A., « Psychoanalysis, its place among the sciences », Mental, #25, Seuil, 2011, p. 22.