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The Unconscious and the Speaking Body

Presentation of the theme for the Xth Congress of the WAP in Rio de Janeiro in 2016
Rather than the icing on the cake, I'd prefer to think in terms of a beverage that I'm about to serve you as an after-dinner liqueur, to wash down the nourishment that this Congress[1] has given you and to whet your appetites with a thought for the next Congress two years from now. So, the expectation is that I shall set the theme for the next Congress and provide an introduction to it.

I was just thinking how this has lasted for over thirty years, if we suppose that this series of WAP Congresses took over from what were known as the International Encounters of the Freudian Field that began in 1980. So here we are again, up against the same wall. Mur, the French word for "wall", is the word that has occurred to me, and this is evocative of the neologism that pokes fun at amour: is it to amur[2] that I owe the invariable honour that has been bestowed upon me of setting the tone of the symphony, the symphony that the members of the WAP, whom we are, will have to compose over the next two years before we meet again? Is this the doing of transference, a transference that is brought back to the one to whom fell the onus of founding our association so long ago? But as I've just reminded you, the onus of setting a title, a name, or at least a theme, was something that I had assumed before, at the time of the first International Encounter that was held in Caracas, in Lacan's presence[3]. If there is amur, I would not refer it to the function of the founder, which nothing in our statutes sanctions, I would rather it were referred to the function of a guide, which is a function that I ascribed to myself by giving my Course the title Lacanian Orientation.

Amur means above all that the wall of language has to be pierced through anew each time in order to try to grasp more tightly, let's not say the real, but rather what we do in our analytic practice. In the end, though, to orient myself in Lacan's thought has been my concern, and I know that this is something we share. In fact, the World Association of Psychoanalysis has no other cohesion but this. At least, this concern is the fundamental principle behind the gathering that we form, above and beyond the statutes and the insurance systems, and even beyond the ties of friendship and sympathy that have grown between us over the years.

Lacan demanded dignity for his thought. He said that it sought to get off the beaten track. And indeed, it is a thought that throws you off track. It is up to us to follow this thought down these unprecedented trails. These trails are often obscure, and all the more so when Lacan pushed deeper into his late teaching. We could have left it there and abandoned it, but we took it upon ourselves to follow this thought, and the last two Congresses bear witness to this.

Why did we take it upon ourselves to follow it down this difficult late branch of his teaching? The taste for deciphering counted for something in this. I have this taste, and we all have it, in that we are analysts. And we are sufficiently so to notice that with certain lightning bolts that come shooting through the dark clouds of Lacan's remarks, he manages to indicate a depth that instructs us as to what psychoanalysis is becoming, and which no longer entirely conforms to what one reckoned it to be. At the extreme edge, though we shan't be staying at this level, he even let slip that analytic practice seemed to him to be a delusional practice.

Psychoanalysis is changing. This is not a desire, but a fact. It is changing in our analytic consulting rooms, and this change is so obvious, at least for us, that the 2012 Congress on the symbolic order, like this year's Congress on the real, have each carried in their title the same temporal mention: "in the twenty-first century". How can we say any better that we have the sense of something new and, with it, the perception of the urgency of the necessity of getting up to date?

For example, we cannot fail to see that there has been a break, when Freud invented psychoanalysis under the aegis, as it were, of the reign of Queen Victoria, a paragon of the suppression of sexuality, whereas the twenty-first century is seeing the vast spread of what is called "porno", which amounts to coitus on show in a spectacle that is accessible to anyone on the web by means of a simple click of the mouse. From Victoria to porno, we have not only passed from prohibition to permission, but to incitation, intrusion, provocation, and forcing. What is pornography but a fantasy that has been filmed with enough variety to satisfy perverse appetites in all their diversity? There is no better indicator of the absence of sexual relation in the real than the imaginary profusion of the body as it devotes itself to being given and being taken.

This is something new in sexuality, in its social regime, in its learning patterns, among young people, the young who are just starting out on this path. Masturbators are now spared the task of having to produce their own waking dreams by themselves because they find them readymade, ready dreamt for them. When it comes to pornography, the weaker sex is the male, who gives into it more readily. How often do we hear men in analysis complaining of their compulsions to follow these pornographic frolics, even to stock them up on their hard drives. On the other side, on the side of their wives and mistresses, women practice less than they keep themselves informed of their partner's practices. And then, it depends: she might think of them as a betrayal, but she might think of them as an inconsequential amusement. This clinic of pornography belongs to the twenty-first century. I'm mentioning it, but it would deserve to be looked at in detail because it is insistent and, for the last fifteen years or so, it has become extremely present in analyses.

But how can we not mention in regard to this very contemporary practice what was pointed out by Lacan as the upsurge of the effects of Christianity in art, effects that were carried to their height by the Baroque? Just back from Italy and a tour of its churches, which Lacan referred to rather nicely as an "orgy", he noted in his Seminar Encore that all that amounts to an exhibition of the body that evokes jouissance.[4] This is where we've got to with pornography. Nevertheless, the religious exhibition of swooning bodies always leaves copulation itself "off-screen", just as it is out of bounds in human reality, as Lacan observes.[5]

This is a curious re-emergence of the expression "human reality". Réalité humaine is the expression that the first translator of Heidegger into French used to express Dasein. But it's been a long while now since we cut off the path of allowing any Being to this Dasein. In the technological age, copulation is no longer confined to the private domain, feeding the fantasies of each of us, now it has been integrated into the field of representation and has passed onto to a mass scale.

There is a second difference that needs to be underlined between pornography and the Baroque. In the way that Lacan defines it, the Baroque aimed to regulate the soul by means of viewing bodies, through bodily scopy[6]. There is nothing of the like in pornography. There is no regulation, but rather a constant infraction. The body-scopy in pornography functions as a nudge towards a jouissance that is designed to be gratified following the pattern of "surplus jouissance", a mode that transgresses the precarious homeostatic regulation in its silent and solitary realisation. The ceremony ordinarily fills the screen with its wordless achievement, save the faked sighs and gasps of pleasure. The adoration of the phallus, the erstwhile secret of the mysteries, remains a central episode – except in lesbian pornography – but is now something quite banal.

The global spread of pornography by means of the electronic net has without any doubt produced effects that are being vouched for in psychoanalysis. What does the omnipresence of pornography at the start of this century represent, what does it say? Well, nothing more than that sexual relation doesn't exist. This is what is echoed, and in some sense chanted, by this incessant and ever-available spectacle, because only this absence is likely to account for this infatuation whose consequences we are already having to follow in the mores of the younger generation in their style of sexual behaviour: disenchantment, brutalisation, and banalisation. The fury of copulation in pornography reaches a degree zero of meaning that reminds readers of the Phänomenologie des Geistes of what Hegel said of the kind of death that was inflicted by "universal liberty" in the face of the Reign of Terror, namely that it is "the coldest and meanest of all deaths, with no more significance than cutting off a head of cabbage or swallowing a mouthful of water."[7] Pornographic copulation possesses the same semantic vacuity.

Sexual relation doesn't exist. Should we hear this sentence with the accent that Plutarch adds when he reports (the only one to do so in Antiquity) the fatal words that resound across the ocean: Great Pan is dead! The episode features in the dialogue that bears the title "The Obsolescence of Oracles", which I once referred to in my Course.[8] And the words resound as the last oracle, announcing that after him there shall be no more. He is the oracle who announces that the oracles have disappeared. In fact, at that time, under Tiberius, across the entire territory of the Roman Empire, the sanctuaries where formerly the crowds would rush to call upon the oracles and heed their portents were seeing a growing disaffection. An invisible mutation that wended its way through the depths of taste closed the mouths of the oracles inspired by the mantic demons – I'm saying "demons" not because they were evil, but because "demon" was the term for intermediary beings between gods and men, and most certainly the figure of Pan represented them.

We cannot help but be sensitive to the fate of the oracles, and to the fact that, indeed, one day they were wiped out in a zone where hitherto they had been sought out voraciously, in so far as our practice of interpretation is (as we are accustomed to say) oracular. But our specific oracle is precisely what Lacan said about sexual relation. Lacan voiced this long before the first appearance of the electronic pornography that I'm speaking about, but what he said enables us to put the fact of pornography in its rightful place. The fact of pornography is on no account a solution to the dead ends of sexuality, though who would even dream that it could be? It is a symptom of the empire of technology that now extends its reign over the most diverse civilizations across the globe, even the most restive ones. We should not surrender our arms faced with this symptom, or others from the same source. They require interpretation from psychoanalysis.

Could it be that this excursus on pornography will provide an inroad to the title for our next congress? Leonardo Gorostiza has reminded us that during one of these congresses I intimated the discipline that dictates my choice of theme for the WAP. I said that they come in groups of three[9], and each in turn give precedence to one of Lacan's three categories whose initials are: R. S. I. After "The Symbolic Order…", and after "A Real…", we can now expect, as Leonardo Gorostiza and others have quite rightly deduced, that the imaginary should come to the fore. Surely there is no better way for it to do so than under the heading of "the body", since we find in Lacan the following equivalence: the imaginary is the body. This is not an isolated formula, his teaching as a whole bears out this equivalence.

First, the body is initially introduced as an image, an image in the mirror, whereby it gives to the ego a status that is singularly distinct from the status that Freud gave it in his second topography. Second, it is still by means of an interplay of images that Lacan illustrates the prevalent articulation between the Ego Ideal and the ideal ego; terms which he borrows from Freud, but to formalise them in an unprecedented way. [Third,] this affinity between the body and the imaginary is still being affirmed in his teaching on the knots. The Borromean construction accentuates how it is through the intermediary of one's image that one's body first participates in the economy of jouissance. Fourth, beyond this, the body conditions everything that the imaginary register accommodates by way of the signified, meaning and signification, and the image of the world itself. It is within the imaginary body that the words of a language bring in representations, which constitute an illusory world for us on the model of the body's unity. So, here we have a number of reasons to give some variety to the theme of the body in the dimension of the imaginary for the next congress.

I was almost won over to this idea when it occurred to me that the body changes register as a speaking body. What is the speaking body? Ah, that's a "mystery", said Lacan.[10] What Lacan said that day is especially to be borne in mind because mystery is not matheme. They are even opposites. In Descartes, what forms a mystery, but nevertheless remains indubitable, is the union between the soul and the body. The "Sixth Meditation" is devoted to this, and this meditation alone mobilised the ingenuity of its most eminent commentator as much as did the five mediations that precede it. In so far as it concerns my body, meum corpus, this union is valid as a third substance between res cogitans and res extensa. In the famous passage, Descartes says that: "I am not only lodged in my body as a pilot in a vessel, […] I am very closely united to it, and so to speak so intermingled with it that I seem to compose with it one whole".[11] We know that the so-called "hyperbolic doubt" that features in the hypothesis of the "evil genius"[12] spares the cogito and delivers up its certainty as a remainder that resists against doubt, even the most pervasive doubt that can possibly be entertained. What is less known is that, retroactively, in this sixth meditation, it is discovered that doubt would thus spare the union between I think and the body[13], the same body that stands out from all the rest on account of being the body of this I think.

To see this, one doubtless has to extend the arc of this retroaction right up to Edmund Husserl and his Cartesian Meditations. There he singles out by means of a precious word: on one hand, the physical bodies which include those of my fellow creatures; and on the other, my body. For my body, he introduces a special term. He writes: "I find my flesh as uniquely singled out"[14]. This meinen Leib is that which alone is not a mere body, but indeed a flesh, the only object within my abstract layer of experience to which I can assign a field of sensation that matches experience. The precious word is "flesh", which is distinct from what physical bodies are. By "flesh", he understands that which appeared to Descartes in the guise of the union between soul and body.

This flesh was certainly erased from Heidegger's Dasein, but it fed Merleau-Ponty's reflection in his unfinished work, The Visible and the Invisible[15], to which Lacan dedicated some of his attention in his Seminar The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. There, Lacan doesn't express any particular interest in this word, but he will nevertheless repeat the word "flesh" when he speaks about the flesh that bears the imprint of the sign: the sign slices up the flesh, devitalising and cadaverising it, and then the body becomes separate from it.[16] In this distinction between body and flesh, the body shows itself to be something that is able to flesh out the locus of the Other of the signifier as a surface of inscription. For us, the Cartesian mystery of psychosomatic union is displaced. What is mysterious, but which remains indubitable, is what results from the symbolic's purchase on the body. To put it in Cartesian terms, the mystery is rather that of union between speech and the body. By dint of this fact of experience, one can say that it belongs to the register of the real.

This is where one should give rightful place to the fact that Lacan's late teaching puts forward a new name for the unconscious. There is a word for it. We can't use the word for the congress title, because it's a neologism. It can't be translated. If you go to the text titled "Television", you will see that I question Lacan on the word "unconscious". I tell him simply, "The unconscious – what a strange word!"[17], because it seemed to me, as far as I was concerned, that the term didn't really match very well the point he's reached in his doctrine. He replied, as you will see – well, you've read it, you already know – by turning it down flat: "Freud didn't find a better one, and there's no need to go back on it." So, he admits that it's imperfect, but he refrains from any attempt to change it. Two years later, however, he'd changed his mind, if we are to go by his written text, "Joyce le Symptôme", where he puts forwards the neologism I just mentioned, which he prophesises will replace the Freudian word "unconscious": the parlętre.[18]

This is the operation which I suggest can provide us with our compass for the next congress. This metaphor – the substitution of the Lacanian parlętre for the Freudian unconscious – fixes down a scintillation. I propose that we take it as an index of what is changing in psychoanalysis in the twenty-first century, when it has to take into account an other symbolic order and an other real besides those upon which it was established.

Psychoanalysis is changing and that's a fact. Lacan remarks rather mischievously that it has changed because first it was practiced on a solitary basis by Freud, and then it came to be practiced in couples. But it underwent many other changes which we can take stock of when we read Freud, and even when we re-read early Lacan. It changes factually, in spite of our attachment to the old words and schemas. It is an ongoing effort to stay as close as possible to the experience in order to say it, without crashing into the wall of language. To help us to get over this wall, we need an (a)mur, I mean an agalmatic word that will pierce through the wall. I find this word with parlętre.

This word will not feature on the poster for the next congress. Amongst ourselves we will know that the parlętre is at issue in so far as it has replaced the unconscious, in so far as analysing the parlętre is no longer quite the same thing as analysing the unconscious in Freud's sense, nor even the unconscious structured like a language. I would even say that we can bet that we are already analysing the parlętre, and it is up to us to find out how to say so.

We're learning how to say so. For example, when we speak about the symptom as a sinthome. This is a word, a concept, that comes from the era of the parlętre. It translates a shift from the concept of the symptom of the unconscious to the parlętre. As you know, the symptom as a formation of the unconscious structured as a language is a metaphor, it's an effect of meaning, induced by the substitution of one signifier for another. On the other hand, the sinthome of a parlętre is an "event of the body"[19], an emergence of jouissance. Moreover, there's nothing to say that the body in question is your body. You can be "another body's symptom", should you be a woman.[20] And then, there is hysteria when there is a symptom of the symptom, when you form a symptom from "someone else's symptom", that is to say, a symptom raised to the second power. The symptom of the parlętre certainly stands in need of further clarification in its relationship with the clinical types. I'm just mentioning, following Lacan's indications[21], how it applies to hysteria.

We shall not manage this by forgetting the structure of the symptom of the unconscious, just as Freud's second topography does not cancel out the first, but rather is composed with it. Likewise, Lacan has not come to efface Freud, but to extend him. The modifications in his teaching are made without any tearing, using the resources of a conceptual topology that ensures continuity without forbidding renewal. Thus, from Freud to Lacan, we shall say that the mechanism of repression is made explicit for us by means of metaphor, just as from the unconscious to the parlętre, metaphor gives us the formal envelope of the body-event. Repression made explicit by metaphor is a ciphering, and the operation of this ciphering labours away for the jouissance that affects the body. Our reflection is woven from this kind of cobbling together of various pieces from different eras, borrowed from Freud and from Lacan, and we should not shrink back from this kind of patchwork in order to move ahead in tightening our grasp on psychoanalysis in the twenty-first century.

Here I would point out another word, after sinthome, which is from the era of the parlętre and which I would place alongside the sinthome. It is a word that forces us to proceed to a new classification of notions that are familiar to us. The word that I shall place alongside the word sinthome is the word escabeau, which again I'm taking from "Joyce le Symptôme".[22] In Spanish, it is escabel. The escabeau is not a ladder, it's smaller than a ladder, but it's got steps. What is the escabeau? I mean the psychoanalytic escabeau, and not just the one that you use to reach books in a library. Generally speaking, it is what the parlętre hoists himself onto, hauls himself onto in order to make himself beau. It is his pedestal, which allows him to raise himself to the dignity of the thing. This, for example (pointing at the dais), is a little escabeau for me.

The escabeau is a transversal concept. It provides a colourful translation for Freudian sublimation, but in its intersection with narcissism. And this is a connection that is specific to the era of the parlętre. The escabeau is sublimation, but in so far as it is grounded on the first I'm not thinking of the parlętre. What is this, I'm not thinking? It is the negation of the unconscious by which the parlętre believes he is the master of his Being. And with his escabeau, to this he adds the fact that he believes himself to be a maître beau, a fine master. What we call culture is nothing but the escabeaus "in reserve"[23] that one can draw on to brag and flout one's vanity.

To give an example of these categories that seem to be cropping up, and which we need, I told myself that I would try to draw a parallel between the sinthome and the escabeau. What is it that foments the escabeau? It is the parlętre from its angle of the jouissance of speech. It is this jouissance of speech that gives rise to the grand ideals of the Good, the True and the Beautiful.[24] The sinthome, on the other hand, as the parlętre's sinthome, holds to the body of the parlętre. The symptom arises from the mark that speech hollows out when it takes the figure of saying and it forms an event in the body. The escabeau stands on the side of the jouissance of speech that includes meaning. On the other hand, the specific jouissance of the sinthome "excludes meaning"[25].

If Lacan was gripped by James Joyce, and especially by his work Finnegans Wake, it was because of the tour de force – or the tour de farce[26]– that it represents on account of having managed to make the symptom and the escabeau converge. Exactly, Joyce turned the symptom itself – in so far as it lies outside meaning, in so far as it is unintelligible – into the escabeau of his art. He created a literature whose jouissance is just as opaque as that of the symptom, and which none the less remains an art object, raised onto the escabeau of the dignity of the Thing. One can ask the question as to whether music, painting, the fine arts, have their Joyce. Perhaps what corresponds to Joyce in the register of music is atonal composition, which was inaugurated by Schoenberg, whom we heard about earlier[27]. And as for what are known as the fine arts, the initiator was perhaps a certain Marcel Duchamp. Joyce, Schoenberg and Duchamp are creators of escabeaus that are designed to make art with the symptom, with the opaque jouissance of the symptom. We would be hard pushed to judge the nature of the escabeau-symptom according to the clinic. Rather, we should let it be an example to us.

But, you tell me, isn't turning one's symptom into an escabeau precisely what is at issue in the Pass, where one plays with one's symptom and one's opaque jouissance? To do an analysis is to practice "the castration of the escabeau"[28] in order to bring to light the opaque jouissance of the symptom, but to do the Pass is to play on the symptom that has been uncluttered so at to turn it into an escabeau, to the applause of the analytic group. To put it in Freudian terms, this is clearly a fact of sublimation, and the applause is not in the least bit adventitious. The moment at which the audience is satisfied is part of the Pass. One may even say that this is when the Pass is achieved. Delivering accounts of the Pass in public is something that was never done in Lacan's time. The operation remained buried in the depths of the institution, and there were only a small number of initiates. The Pass involved just barely ten people. To be frank, I invented a public monstration of the Passes because I knew, I thought, and I believed, that this was the very essence of the Pass. The escabeaus are there to produce beauty, because beauty is the last defence against the real. But once the escabeaus have been overturned and burned, it still falls to the analysed parlętre to demonstrate his savoir-faire with the real, to demonstrate how he knew how to make an art object, and how he knew how to say it, to say it well. This is what is offered by the first purchase, in the invitation to speak up. The event of the Pass is not the nomination, the decision of a collective of experts. The event of the Pass is the act of saying on the part of one sole person, the Analyst of the School, when he puts his experience into order, when he interprets it to the benefit of anybody who happens to come along to a congress whom it's a matter of seducing and filling with enthusiasm. This is what has been put to the test, on a large scale, during this last Congress.

An act of saying is a mode of speech that is distinguished on account of producing an event. Freud differentiated between the modes of consciousness: consciousness, the pre-conscious and the unconscious. For us, if there are modes to be set apart, it is not at the level of consciousness, but at the level of modes of speech. In rhetorical terms, there is metaphor and metonymy; in logical terms, the modal and the apophantic, the affirmative, even the imperative; and in the stylistic perspective, there is cliché, proverb, ritornello, and then writing depends on speech. Well, the unconscious, when it is conceptualised starting off from speech and no longer from consciousness, carries a new name: the parlętre. The ętre, the Being at issue, does not come from speech. On the contrary, speech attributes Being to this animal through a retroactive effect, and from that point forth the body separates off from this Being in order to pass over to the register of having. The parlętre has his body, rather than being it.[29] The parlętre is grappling with his body as something imaginary, just as he is grappling with the symbolic. The third term, the real, is the complex or the implex of the two others. With the speaking body, with its two types of jouissance – the jouissance of speech and the jouissance of the body – one leading to the escabeau, the other sustaining the sinthome, there is in the parlętre both jouissance of the body and a jouissance that drifts outside the body. Audaciously and logically, Lacan identifies the jouissance of speech with phallic jouissance, in as much as it is in disharmony with the body. The speaking body receives its jouissance, therefore, from two different registers: on the one hand, it enjoys all by itself, it affects itself with jouissance, il se jouit, it "enjoys itself"[30] – this being the reflexive form of the verb – on the other hand, an organ of this body distinguishes itself by dint of enjoying for itself: it condenses and isolates a jouissance that stands apart and which is shared out across the objects a. It is in this regard that the speaking body is divided with respect to its jouissance. It is not unitary in the way that the imaginary makes one believe it to be. This is why phallic jouissance has to be separated off in the imaginary in the operation that is known as castration. The speaking body speaks in terms of drives. This is what authorised Lacan to present the drive on the model of a signifying chain.[31] He carried on down the path of this duplication [of the signifying chain] in his logic of the fantasy, where he uncouples the Id from the unconscious.[32] On the other hand, the concept of the speaking body is the join between the Id and the unconscious. He calls to mind how the signifying chains that we decipher in a Freudian manner are plugged into the body, and they are made up of an "enjoying substance".[33] Freud said that the Id was a great reservoir of libido, and this moves over to the speaking body which, as such, is enjoying substance. The objects a are taken from the body; the jouissance for which the unconscious labours is drawn from within the body.

Freud said that the theory of the drives is a mythology. What is not a myth, however, is jouissance. In the seventh chapter of Die Traumdeutung, Freud calls the psychical apparatus a fiction. What is not a fiction is the speaking body. Freud found the principle of his fiction of the psychical apparatus in the body. It was constructed as a reflex arc, as a process that was regulated in such a way as to maintain excitation at its lowest possible level. Lacan replaced this psychical apparatus structured by the reflex arc with the unconscious structured as a language. Not stimulus-response, but signifier-signified. Only – and this is an expression of Lacan's that I have underlined and explicated – this language is "a flight of fancy of knowledge about lalangue"[34], the lalangue of the speaking body. It follows that the unconscious is itself a flight of fancy of knowledge about the speaking body, about the parlętre. What is a flight of fancy of knowledge? It is an articulation of semblants that detach themselves from the real at the same time as they clasp it. The main mutation that has touched the symbolic order in the twenty-first century is that it is now very widely thought of as an articulation of semblants. The traditional categories that organise existence have passed over to the rank of mere social constructions that are destined to come apart. It is not only that the semblants are vacillating, they are being recognised as semblants. Moreover, by a curious intersection, it is psychoanalysis that, through Lacan, is restoring the other term of the conceptual polarity: not everything is semblance, there is a real. The real of the social bond is the inexistence of sexual relation. The real of the unconscious is the speaking body. So long as the symbolic order was thought of as a knowledge that regulates the real and imposes its law upon it, the clinic was dominated by the opposition between neurosis and psychosis. The symbolic order is now recognised as a system of semblants that do not govern the real, but rather are subordinate to the real. It is a system that responds to the real of the non-existent sexual relation. The consequence is what I might call a declaration of fundamental clinical equality between parlętres. The parlętres are condemned to feeble-mindedness by the mental itself, precisely on account of the imaginary, as the imaginary of the body and the imaginary of meaning. The symbolic will print semantic representations onto the imaginary body, which the speaking body then weaves and unweaves. It is in this respect that one's debility destines the speaking body as such to delusion. You wonder how someone who has done an analysis can still imagine themselves to be normal. In the economy of jouissance, one master-signifier has the same value as any other. From debility to delusion, the consequence is a good one. The only path that opens up beyond is for the parlętre to make himself the dupe of a real, that is, to assemble a discourse in which the semblants clasp a real, a real in which one can believe with adhering to it, a real that does not carry any meaning, that is indifferent to meaning, and which cannot be any different from how it is. Debility is, on the contrary, the dupery of the possible. To be the dupe of a real – which is what I'm extolling – is the sole lucidity that is open to the speaking being by which he may orient himself. Debility, delusion, dupery, this is the cast-iron trilogy that echoes the knot of the imaginary, the symbolic and the real.

People used to speak about indications for analysis. One would evaluate whether such and such a structure lent itself to analysis and one would indicate how to refuse analysis to someone requesting it, due to a lack of indications. At the time of the parlętre, let's be truthful, we analyse anyone and everyone. Analysing the parlętre requires one to play one's way between delusion, debility and dupery. It is about directing delusion in such a way that its debility gives ground to the dupery of the real. Freud was still grappling with what he called repression. We have been able to observe in the accounts of the Pass the extent to which this category is seldom used nowadays. Certainly, there are memories that come back to the surface, but nothing attests to the authenticity of any of them. None of them are final. What is called the "return of the repressed" is always dragged into the flow of the parlętre where truth turns out to be incessantly mendacious. In place of repression, the analysis of the parlętre installs mendacious truth, which stems from what Freud recognised as primary repression. This means that truth is intrinsically of the same essence as the lie. The proton pseudos is also the ultimate falsehood. What doesn't lie is jouissance, the jouissance of the speaking body.

An interpretation is not a fragment of construction bearing on an isolated element of repression, as Freud thought it was. It is not the flight of fancy of a knowledge. Nor is it a truth-effect that is immediately absorbed back into the succession of lies. An interpretation is an act of saying that targets the speaking body and does so in order to produce an event, in order to provoke a gut-reaction, said Lacan[35]. This is something that can't be anticipated, but which is verified retroactively, for the jouissance-effect is incalculable. All that analysis can do is to accord to the pulsation of the speaking body in order to insinuate itself into the symptom. When one analyses the unconscious, the meaning of interpretation is the truth. When one analyses the speaking body, the meaning of interpretation is jouissance. This displacement from truth to jouissance sets the measure of what analytic practice is becoming in the era of the parlêtre.

This is why I suggest that for the next congress we meet under the banner of "The Unconscious and the Speaking Body". Here we have a mystery, as Lacan said. We shall try to make some inroads into this mystery and to clarify it. What city could by more favourable than Rio de Janeiro? With its "Sugarloaf mountain", it has the most magnificent escabeau for its emblem.

I thank you.

[Translated from the French by A. R. Price – Text established by Anne-Charlotte Gauthier, Čve Miller-Rose and Guy Briole, not reviewed by the author]


Original language version: L'inconscient et le corps parlant (French)

1- This presentation was delivered by Jacques-Alain Miller in conclusion to the 9th Congress of the World Association of Psychoanalysis (WAP) on 17 April 2014 in Paris.
2- Lacan's neologism amur combines mur and amour. See Lacan, J., Je parle aux murs, Paris: Seuil, 2011, pp. 103-104, where he indicates that it should be written: (a)mur.
3- See Lacan, J., "Overture to the First International Encounter of the Freudian Field" translated by A. R. Price in Hurly-Burly, Issue 6, September 2011, pp. 17-20.
4- Lacan, J., The Seminar Book XX, Encore, 1972-1973, translated by B. Fink, New York: Norton, 1998, p. 113.
5- Ibid.
6- [Lacan says: régulation de l'âme par la scopie corporelle (p. 105 of the Seuil edition). Scopie is an unusual word in French (when used alone and not as a suffix), generally used as an aphaeresis of radioscopie. The English translation gives: "corporeal radioscopy", ibid., p. 115. However, it is more likely being used here as a simple gallicisation of the Greek skopéo: "examine" "inspect". (Tr.)]
7- Hegel, G. W. F., The Phenomenology of Spirit, translated by A. V. Miller, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977, para 590, p. 360.
8- Plutarch, "De Defectu Oraculorum" translated by F. Cole Babbitt as "The Obsolescence of Oracles" in Moralia Vol. V, Loeb Classical Library, 1936, §17.1 (419c), quoted by J.-A. Miller in the session of 13 November 2002 from L'orientation lacanienne III, 5, Un effort de poésie (2002-2003), unpublished. See also Lacan, J., "The death of God" in The Seminar Book VII, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, translated by D. Porter, London: Routledge, 1992, p. 178.
9- Miller, J.-A., "Semblants and Sinthomes; Presentation of the Theme of the Seventh Congress of the WAP", translated by J. Richards, in Hurly-Burly, Issue 1, May 2009, pp. 89-91.
10- Lacan, J., The Seminar Book XX, Encore, op. cit., p. 131.
11- Descartes, R., "Meditation VI, Of the Existence of Material Things, and of the real Distinction between the Soul and Body of Man"(§ 13) in The Philosophical Works of Descartes: Vol. 1, translated by E. S. Haldane & G. R. T. Ross, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1911, p. 192.
12- "Meditation I, Of the Things which may be brought within the Sphere of the Doubtful" (§ 12), ibid., p. 147.
13- "Meditation VI", ibid., p. 195.
14- Husserl, E., Cartesian Mediations: An Introduction to Phenomenology, translated by D. Cairnes, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1999, V. (§ 44), p. 97.
15- Merleau-Ponty, M., "The Intertwining – The Chiasm", from The Visible and the Invisible, translated by A. Lingis, Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968, pp. 130-55; retranslated in Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Basic Writings, ed. T. Baldwin, London: Routledge, 2004.
16- Lacan, J., "Radiophonie", in Autres écrits, Paris: Seuil, 2001, p. 409.
17- Lacan, J., "Television" translated by D. Hollier, R. Krauss, & A. Michelson in Television/A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment, New York: Norton, 1990, p. 5.
18- Lacan, J., "Joyce le Symptôme (II)" in Autres écrits, op. cit., p. 568. See too: Lacan, J., Le séminaire livre XXIII, Le sinthome, (1975-1976), Paris: Seuil, 2005, p. 56: "the subject who is sustained by the parlêtre, which is what I denote as the unconscious".
19- Ibid., p. 569.
20- Ibid.
21- Ibid.
22- Ibid., pp. 565-569.
23- Ibid., p. 568.
24- An allusion to Victor Cousin's lectures on the True, the Beautiful and the Good. Cf. Ibid., p. 566: "…Victor Cousin's preference for triplicity…".
25- Ibid., p. 570.
26- Ibid., p. 569.
27- Masson, D., "Impromptu. Les chemins du réel en musique", paper delivered at the 9th Congress of the WAP, Paris, 17 April 2014, unpublished. An audio recording is available on the website:
28- Lacan, J., "Joyce le Symptôme (II)", op. cit., p. 567.
29- Ibid., p. 565, p. 567. See too Lacan, J., Le séminaire livre XXIII, Le sinthome, op. cit., p. 154.
30- Lacan, J., The Seminar Book XX, Encore, op. cit., p. 23.
31- Lacan, J., "The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire in the Freudian Unconscious", in Écrits, the First Complete Edition in English, translated by B. Fink, R. Grigg, and H. Fink, New York: Norton, 2006, pp. 692-3.
32- Lacan, J., "Lesson of 11 January 1967" in Le séminaire XIV, La logique du fantasme (1966-1967), unpublished.
33- Lacan, J., The Seminar Book XX, Encore, op. cit., p. 23.
34- Ibid., p. 139 [where the translation gives: "knowledge's hare-brained lucubration about llanguage".]
35- Lacan, J., Lesson of 19 February 1974, Le séminaire XXI, Les non-dupes errent, 1973-1974, unpublished.
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