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

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A real that changes (us)
by Ana Vigano

Ana ViganoThe modification in the title for the next Congress involves a subtlety that has not passed unnoticed. Its coordinates provide a blow, a chisel, even a challenge that points in two directions that I wish to dwell on:

  • A real separates out that of the real that would be valid for all, highlighting that the encounter with A real is contingent and for that reason singular, each time it occurs. A real, each time. One real, a one that does not add up.
  • For the 21st Century evokes an offer that is somewhat uncertain. The 21st Century is not only a temporal reference: it is a here and now that conjugates very diverse modalities of inhabiting it. It is also, for the descendants of the 20th Century, a way of naming what is to come even though we are already living in it. The change in the preposition transforms an affirmation into an open proposition; a presence, in the future.

This Congress, the third of a series that has opened its doors to non-members of the WAP, is inscribed in a process that has included the creation of other instances which, although they do not belong to the WAP or to the School One, nevertheless presumably have a close articulation with them, but whose form still requires elucidation and invention[1].

The 21st Century as notion, is multiplied in the for that is prepositional of A real:

  • For the analysts and their formation, an essential question and an effort of the School;
  • For the analysands whose analyses are conducted by these analysts;
  • For those who, even without necessarily becoming analysands, can benefit from an experience with an analyst;
  • For the civilisation in which the analysts are inserted and in which their act and/or action – Lacanian – can have a certain incidence.


One real not unreal [2]

I will follow the path chosen by our colleagues of the NEL for their preparatory bulletin, as it allows me to put these questions into play. OneReal [UnReal], all in one word, with the distribution of capitals and small letters, is the choice of name for this bulletin. "We say OneReal to bring us closer to a rigid signifier one that inscribes a jouissance opaque to meaning." [3] How can we not evoke – in order to oppose it – the sentiment of unreality of the epoch, whose paradigm is to lull us to sleep in the entertainment industry, although this property is not exclusive to it?

Unreal is the name of a first person shooter video game, whose appearance at the end of the past century signified an intrepid advance owing to the quality of the artificial intelligence of the enemies and to the graphics that they boasted of. A few weeks ago we took part in a public debate and the alarmed voices – especially concerning the access of children and adolescents to certain video games and their harmful effects on the construction, for example, of the sense of reality – in relation to the launch of Grand Theft Auto V, an open-plan action-adventure game whose quality was praised in the reviews for providing a realistic sensation of a living world. Only it is not here simply a question of shooting: drugs, torture, elements of necrophilia, prostitution, narco-trafficking, electroshock weapons and the possibility of a renewed amorality as a game option accompany the return of this captivating interactive entertainment in which the players are criminals in action, without choice, but with a paradoxical freedom.

Nothing is more human than crime[4], Miller astutely reminds us, bringing into relief the limit of the humanisms in tension with the inhuman and the desire of the analyst. The creators of video games appear to know this and the advertisers have transformed this knowledge into a marketing strategy. If psychoanalysis survives, it is very probable that the analysands but also the analysts of the 21st century to come are at this very moment playing these games.

Games, chance, determinism, choice, freedom are objects of reiterated analysis by Lacan throughout his work and there are good reasons for this, given that they are ways to approach that which repeats, which returns, which insists, which resists, that which changes and that which it is not possible to change; ways to refine their difference, between resistance and defence, exposed by Miller's indication that "in order to enter into the 21st Century our clinic will have to center on disturbing the defence against the real." [5] The cause-effect relation is not valid for the Lacanian real except as rupture. New open worlds are taking shape, not only in video games.

How to offer something that in itself is contingent? What margin of freedom, of intervention, does a programme allow – whether this be the programme of a videogame, of planning, of evaluation, of jouissance...?


Let's change places

"Perhaps there is a memory?" [6] Miller picks up this question from Seminar XXIII in as much as memory implies a knowledge that is already present, which is an instance of knowledge and in this sense has to be located on the side of the Other. The Freud event renewed this instance of knowledge on the basis of the unconscious, but this perspective does not necessarily suppose the real; the vector goes from the unconscious to the real.

Lacan questioned memory time and time again because he is thinking of the relation with the place of the Other and common language, but also with any idea of return and of cause. Miller follows him, refining his questions: Does our memory precede us? Is it possible to speak without memory? And he replies – following Lacan – that speaking has absolutely nothing to do with any type of memory. By speaking, he says, one creates language [langue]. "Each one only speaks their own language and recreates it by little touches [...] that is, it is invented by way of a forcing [forçage]." [7]

Experiments with memory are not innocent. The aim of recording everything, archiving everything, saving everything, or pharmacological intervention to clear the fixation of memories, the pill of forgetting – these are attempts to control reproduction that annul the possibility of recreation. Both indicate the avoidance of trauma by an effort to exclude the bodies affected.


A proper name that forces

The game is a hard one.

Lacan who was not so often defeated – Miller says in this text – wrote the real and called it his symptom. At times we ourselves are defeated in trying to follow him. Not to allow oneself to be defeated is not the same as triumphing. To be defeated in our epoch is to have a programmed date of expiry: this is the complaint of bodies submitted to the imperative of health, beauty, self-determination, entertainment. Not to expire, not to become classified, a museum piece.

A Real for the 21st Century is a recreation with proper name of the language spoken by the analysts of the Lacanian orientation; between our Made in Germany and that which we hope for from speaking: little touches. It is the invention of a writing with the aspiration for it to be useful, if we take up the challenge. A forcing towards work, like every subtlety that is… analytic.

Translated by Roger Litten
Reviewed by Florencia Fernandez Coria Shanahan

  1. Jacques Lacan Institute and Popular University Jacques Lacan.
  2. Word play with the English homonym.
  3. UnReal Nº 0. Bulletin of the NEL towards the WAP Congress www.nel-amp.org
  4. MILLER, J.-A., Nada es más humano que el crimen. Virtualia 18 www.eol.org
  5. MILLER, J.-A., The Real in the 21st Century, In Hurly-Burly, Issue 9, p 202.
  6. MILLER, J.-A., El ultimísimo Lacan. Bs. As: Paidós, 2013
  7. MILLER, J.-A., Op. cit., p 86