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Chapter Seventeen - Grimaces of the Real or the Marks of Repetition

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

The real decamps

In Television, Lacan uses the expression “grimaces of the real.” What does this expression refer to and what does it explain? Lacan evokes it in relation to a question he takes from Kant—“What should I do?”—a question we often meet with in analyses. It appears particularly at the outset of the analytic experience, when the subject, once the reason for his question is revealed, asks: “Tell me, what should I do?” We can evoke here the way Freud responded to Dora's question. Dora stops talking once she has revealed what does not work for her because of what does not work in the Other. This interruption in her discourse constitutes an implicit question addressed to Freud: “What should I do?” To which Freud replies: “What is your part in the disorder about which you complain?” This is what allows Dora to go on talking.

The analyst therefore does not respond to “What should I do?” but nor does he abstain from responding. More precisely, he does not respond as a master who knows what must be done. For the analyst is alert to the fact that the question of what to do appears systematically each time there is a failure of desire in the subject. In each analysis, it is always fundamental to explore these moments when desire proves to be unstable; it allows one to approach the real of the subject before the analysis. Lacan refers to this just before answering the question: “What should I do?” when he speaks of the real as “sense-less by nature”. What is this “sense-less by nature”? It is exactly what eludes the Kantian maxim, that is, a universal regulating each person's conduct within the perspective of a conduct common to everyone. It is here that Lacan uses the formulation: “the grimace by which the real decamps, by being taken from only one side”, and he adds: “thumbing your nose in response to the non-relation to the Other” (1990 [1974], p. 42).

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Chapter Nineteen - The True Journey

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

The subject's choice

After his medical thesis, it took Lacan forty years and an exhaustive reading of Freud's work to conclude, in his text “L'étourdit”, that all of Freud's words (dits) were organised by an unsayable (indicible), a saying (dire) that nevertheless determined them. That Lacan expresses Freud's saying in the formulation, “There is no sexual relation,” is now well known (2001 [1973], p. 455), and the consequences that follow from it for the analysand, the analyst, and even for the future of psychoanalysis are crucial.

Lacan reworked his theory throughout his teaching, but there is one unchanging idea about the effects of an analysis and it is this: nothing is possible in psychoanalysis without the subject taking up a position. This explains the emphasis given to what follows from analysis, and also shows that Lacan was developing questions left by Freud. The reference to what follows from an analysis in terms of the position taken by the subject implies a radical distinction between analytic practice and a technique where the effects can be anticipated in advance. That the term “position” involves the unconscious is suggested by the title of Lacan's paper “Position of the Unconscious” in the Écrits (2006 [1964]). So even though the importance of taking a position is maintained, we must consider Lacan's theoretical reworking of the position of the subject in relation to the unconscious.

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Chapter Twenty - The Marks of Interpretation

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

The conditions for analytic interpretation

The title of this section comes from Lacan's formulation at the beginning of his teaching, one that I referred to earlier. It is taken from the text “The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power”: “Whoever cannot carry his training analyses to this turning point” where all demands, even that of being an analyst, were only transference, “such a person knows nothing of what must be obtained from the subject if he is to be able to ensure the direction of an analysis, or merely offer a well-advised interpretation of it” (2006 [1958a], p. 531). We can see how Lacan thinks that the analyst's aptitude for interpretation, that is to say, to operate with discernment, depends on the end of his own analysis. This is a crucial position for Lacan. It indicates that without the mark of the turning point at the end of analysis, it is impossible for the one who decides to occupy the place of analyst to make a correct interpretation.

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Chapter Three - Haste and Exit

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

The politics of time

If the unconscious does not know time, then the orientation of an analysis cannot be restricted to that of deciphering the unconscious. Lacan stated this clearly in 1972 in his “…ou pire, compte-rendu du séminaire 1971–1972” (Lacan, 2001 [1975a]). There, Lacan reminds us of the essence of the Freudian discovery of the unconscious, that it is structured like a language. But rather than putting the emphasis on Freud's discovery, he places it on the creation of the analytic instrument. Lacan speaks of an upper storey, of another zone “where the real touches the real”, and adds that this is what he has elaborated as the analytic discourse.

Accordingly, the analytic perspective is not only supported by the fact that the symbolic enables the real of the subject to be circumscribed, it also considers the way in which the analysand-analyst couple in analysis is gripped by the real. “The real touches the real” not only indicates the possibility of an analytic effect not limited to that of revealing the repressed signifier, but also that the analysand's real can be modified without passing through the symbolic.

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Chapter One - Time and the Unconscious

Izcovich, Luis Karnac Books ePub

Time and the Freudian unconscious

The Freudian thesis states that the unconscious does not recognise time. This raises some fundamental questions: How does the subject represent time? How does psychoanalytic doctrine resolve the absence of time? What are the implications for praxis? And can the practice of psychoanalysis even be envisaged without reference to time in the unconscious?

It is important to note that if the Freudian unconscious does not include the measurement of time, it does, nevertheless, constitute the source of the subject's representation of time. How does the unconscious determine time? In his paper “Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning” (1911b), Freud postulates that the psychic apparatus cannot be reduced to the pleasure-unpleasure principle, suggesting the necessity of a certain kind of adaptation. This involves the establishment of the reality principle; it blocks continuous satisfaction by introducing a delay that limits satisfaction to certain moments only. Freud then puts forward the idea of periodicity, but without indicating that it depends on the unconscious. The sense organs that are turned towards the external world establish a periodic activity of consciousness, which introduces a system of marks that provide the psychic apparatus with a rhythm.

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