Why Not Sublimation?

Why Not Sublimation?
Malka Shein

Miller referred to Lacan's introduction to Seminar XI:  “What he calls 'satisfaction' therefore orients the entire course of an analysis. Since analysis essentially unfolds in malaise, ill-being and discomfort, it is possible to isolate and accredit what emerges as testimony to satisfaction.”

In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud says, “The feeling of happiness derived from the satisfaction of a wild instinctual impulse untamed by the ego is incomparably more intense than that derived from sating an instinct that has been tamed. [...] The task here is that of shifting the instinctual aims in such a way that they cannot come up against frustration from the external world. In this, sublimation of the instincts lends its assistance. One gain's the most if one can sufficiently heighten the yield of pleasure from the sources of psychical and intellectual work." [2] Why, then, is the concept of sublimation absent from the rich bibliography and from the conversations towards the congress?

I found an answer in Miller's lesson of 21 January 2009: “I prefer to make use of this word 'urgency' with its reference to something that thrusts, because that moves us away from the idea that one returns because of the transference. This indicates that there is a causality operating at a deeper level than the transference, one that Lacan characterizes as a level of satisfaction insofar as it is urgent and analysis is its means.”

The level of satisfaction spoken in the urgent cases, the urgency for satisfaction of the speaking being, the parlêtre, is at a deeper level than that of the transference. Lacan's last teaching directed at the real unconscious, to the bien-dire and savoir y faire, is the antinomy of the concept of sublimation supported by the ego, the reality principle, and the symbolic.

1 Miller, J.-A., “The Speaking Being and the Pass”, tr. R. Grigg, The Lacanian Review 6, “¡Urgent!”, NLS, Paris, 2018, p. 137.

2 Freud, S., Civilization and Its Discontents, W.W. Norton New York/London, 1989, p. 29.

3 Miller, J.-A., “The Speaking Being and the Pass”, op. cit., pp. 137-9.