Contemporary Urgencies

Contemporary Urgencies
Geert Hoornaert

In this original text, which directs our work towards Tel Aviv [1], Lacan affirms that “psychoanalysis […] is now practiced in couples”. This assertion may seem surprising. Had he not insisted for many decades on his essentially ternary, even quadripartite field?

Initially defined as a practice of access to the truth, it was based – something that the prisoner’s syllogism demonstrated beautifully – on what an intersubjective dialectic, pushed to its end, allowed for: an exit from confinement of the symptom, in a conclusive movement of haste. The truth of the place of subject could be deduced from a sequence regulated by a law that the Other guaranteed.

Our era of the Other that does not exist sees the emergence of large-scale phenomena that seem to respond to sequences without law. These are anxiety provoking, as nothing in them indicates where the conclusive moment can be reached. The market and those that it excludes, climate deterioration, migration flux or political attenuation – who will respond to these urgencies? And who can predict by which door we will get out of these impasses? The very movements that bring these emergencies up often refuse to inscribe themselves under a clear master-signifier, thus also engaging in lawless trajectories. Will the only thing left – after this fall of the Other, as much on the collective level as on the level of the subject – be a pure frenzy where the target of the urgency is at every shot missed by a missile which is too random?

What is certain as to the urgencies of today is that the truth, which is lying, will no longer answer. It is thus useless to want to reinstall it, supported by a strong father. But if this truth is a “sorting out of the smuddle”, it is not so as to replace it with any old thing, with a simple cynical debasing in the style of generalised fake news. For it to be “satisfying”, “there is a particular way of sorting out the smuddle”, notes Lacan. And this way, he continues, is attained only by usage, where the analyst makes “a pair” [2] with the analysand.

In November 1975, did not Lacan specify this particular way, in this lesson on Joyce to which Jacques-Alain Miller gave the title, “Of the Logical Use of the Sinthome”? “One has to choose the path by which to capture the truth […] The right way is the one that, when the nature of the sinthome has been recognized, doesn’t shrink from using it logically, that is, from using it to the point of reaching its real, at the end of which it is sated.” [3] This precise notation indicates to us that our practice, if it no longer has to refer to an abstract Other nor be beholden to “an enormous over-evaluation of the father,” [4] is not therefore condemned to an autism-of-two, nor to imaginary fusions that the term “pair” might suggest. Rather, does not the pair refer to the fundamental equality of all speaking beings in the face of the real of which Miller spoke? If the pair consents to make of itself the duped [s’en faire la dupe], a certain usage of semblants can result, which, there where the fall of the Other can also cause a push-to-the-worst, can put themselves at the service of what Freud called, “the elasticity of living things.” [5]

Where everywhere walls are erected, whether to separate the masses or to fix the subject in a closed autonomy, nothing is more urgent than the maintenance of this elasticity.

Translation: Raphael Montague

1 Lacan, J., “Preface to the English Edition of Seminar XI”, tr. R. Grigg, The Lacanian Review 6, “¡Urgent!”, NLS-Navarin, Paris, 2018, p. 23.

2 Ibid., p. 27.

3 Lacan, J., The Sinthome, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XXIII, tr. A.R. Price, Polity, Cambridge, 2016, p. 7.

4 Freud, S., Moses and Monotheism (1939), The Standard Edition Volume XXIII, London: Vintage, 2001, p. 12.

5 Freud, S., An Autobiographical Study (1925), The Standard Edition Volume XX, London: Vintage, 2001, p. 57.