Un réel pour le XXI sciècle
IXth Congress of the WAP • 14-18 april 2014 • Paris • Palais des Congrès • www.wapol.org

Program of the Congress
To register for the PARTY
Registration FULL
What's up ! NEWS
Action Committee of the School One - Papers
Orientation texts
Affinities VIDEO
5 minutes on the AIR
Affinities TO READ
Bits of Real WAP WEB
Clinical Day
Press release
Practical information
Previous Congresses
Search the website
@scilitwitt !
Savoir y faire
by Mauricio Tarrab

Mauricio TarrabMatériel-ne-ment [1] and the function of the semblant
What type of knowing and what type of doing are implied in Lacan's formula: savoir y faire? It is not the know-how of the craftsman, of a trade, a know-how that could be transmitted from a master to a pupil as a 'mastery' of the matter that would be the material on which one works. Nor is it a question of prattein, of the Greek 'making', which in the dialectic of theory and practice supposes a 'doing' that would imprint the ideal form on the material reality in the mode of a forcing. And finally, neither is it a question of the modelling characteristic of the functioning of science: "The metaphor that is used for what is called access to the real is the model. Lord Kelvin, for example, considered that science was something in which a model functioned, allowing us to foresee what would be the results of the functioning of the real."[2]

Even though it is distinguished from these three modalities of combination between knowing and doing, savoir y faire nevertheless retains a link with them in regard to the fundamental question of how to access the real. This is Lacan's concern when he proposes that the end of analysis lies in savoir y faire with the sinthome. His concern is none other than that of the swindle of the semblant, of how one can access the real in an analysis given that the real and the semblant are radically disjunct, and that, as Lacan says, "all that is not based in the matter is a swindle – matériel-ne-ment."[3]

Like other developments of the epoch, and like the sinthome itself, the savoir y faire is a way of building bridges between meaning and the real, a way of obtaining, by way of the semblant, what would be at least fragments of this real: "The approximation to the real is narrow. And it is in prowling around it that psychoanalysis takes shape."[4]

At the end of Lacan's teaching we are far from the scientific aspirations of the Italian Note, where it would be a case of operating on a knowledge in the real in order to determine this real in a new way, as science does.[5] At the end what remains is not of the order of a knowledge in the real that could be manipulated but rather the sinthome, which preserves a certain meaning in the real. Savoir y faire with the sinthome, it does not go very far, Lacan says, but it is nevertheless practicable at the end of analysis. In the measure that it has more to do with doing than with thinking, notes Xavier Esqué, the functioning of the symptom at the end of analysis, the practicable of the symptom, is a mode of exit from the debility of thought, a mode of pass, a way of making do with the void.[6]

The debility of knowledge
In Seminar 16 Lacan puts in series savoir-y-faire, savoir-faire and savoir-y-être: "What the Freudian discovery advances, is that one can be there [y être] without knowing that one is there and also, that in being sure of being safe from this being there, in believing one is somewhere else, in another knowledge, one is entirely there. This is what psychoanalysis tells us, one is there without knowing it.''[7] And he immediately goes on to question the sufficiency of unconscious knowledge in relation to the real.

P. Monribot highlights it in this way, "unconscious knowledge, even though it is extracted from ignorance in analysis, is nevertheless weak [débil] since, as Miller says, it is a not knowing how to do with [ne pas savoir y faire avec], in particular with the failure of sex".[8] Unconscious knowledge is weak with respect to the real. The dead end of this debility requires the forced passage from the unconscious to the symptom as the only practicable way out.

One can thus indicate a movement from knowing-how-to-be-there in the unconscious, that is, knowing how to be a dupe of the unconscious, to knowing how to get by with the symptom [savoir y faire avec le symptôm]. If the orientation of the analytic experience is "reducing all invention to the symptom"[9], then what is left is savoir-y-faire with what remains at the end of analysis.

Making do with the incurable
The recent translation of savoir-y-faire into Spanish as saber arreglárselas con allows us to situate at least two of its aspects. The first is that of the use of the symptom, it indicates what someone who has been analysed can do with his symptom, how he can now make use of that which was always on the side of difficulty and obstacle, but which in the end has become a possible instrument of a practice. Making use of the symptom where one has always been the instrument of its pathos. The second aspect is that of the incurable, given that the symptom, even reduced to a sign, continues to write itself, and one has to make do with this and its return. Knowing how to make do with the symptom that one is - here and now, not in some other place but there - and making use of it, these are the two axes of savoir y faire. It is also a way of putting a certain distance with respect to the sinthome. "How does one practice it?" Lacan asks, even though he has already provided two indications: in the manner of knowing how to get by with the sexual partner and also of knowing how to get by with one's own image.[10] No mastery or genius, simply making do with it.

One could also conceive of this savoir y faire as the reverse of what the neurotic does with castration, following the formula that the neurotic makes the castration of the Other into his own castration, extracting meaning and suffering from it. On the contrary one could take for savoir y faire that which Lacan makes Ecclesiastes say about "the old king who did not see any contradiction between being the king of wisdom and possessing a harem: without doubt all is vanity, enjoy the woman you love. That is, make a ring of this hole, of this void that is in the centre of your being. There is no neighbour except for this hole that is in you, the void that you yourself are."[11] There is always going to be something to do in order to come to terms with the incurable, with this void there where the symptom has not ceased to inscribe its pathos and where the sinthome arises as knot. Much better to know it...

Translated from the Spanish by Roger Litten

  1. TN, matériel-ne-ment, literally, the matter does not lie.
  2. Lacan, J. Seminar XXIV, L'insu que sait de l'une-bévue s'aile a mourre, lesson of 16th November 1976, Ornicar?, no 12/13, décembre 1977, p.7.
  3. Ibid., lessons of 16th November and 14th December 1976.
  4. Lacan, J., « Radiophonie », Autres écrits, Paris, Seuil, 2001, p.431.
  5. Lacan, J., « Note italienne », Autres écrits, Paris, Seuil, 2001, p.307.
  6. Esqué, X., « El síntoma al final del análisis se hace practicable », Freudiana, Barcelona, no 39, 2004, p. 75-88.
  7. Lacan, J., Le Séminaire, livre xvi, D'un Autre à l'autre, Paris, Seuil, 2006, p.208.
  8. Monribot, P., « La passe et le symptôme », La Cause freudienne, n° 50, février 2002, p.60.
  9. Lacan, J., Le Séminaire, livre xxiii, Le sinthome, Paris, Seuil, 2005, p.132.
  10. Lacan, J., Le Séminaire, livre xxiv, « L'insu… », loc. cit., Ornicar?, op. cit., p. 6-7.
  11. Lacan, J., Le Séminaire, livre xvi, D'un Autre à l'autre, op. cit., p.25.