Subjective Urgency and Object Little a

Subjective Urgency and Object Little a
Frank Rollier

In his paper on “Logical Time,” Lacan talks about “the urgency of the moment of concluding.” [1] In Vulgar Latin, urgens means what cannot be delayed. This moment, proposes Jacques-Alain Miller, is a “sudden reversal” of expectation into urgency, which is “prescribed by the very signifier’s structure,” because then “there is some lack in the signifier.” This lack is going to be “supplemented” by the urgency to conclude, thus giving haste, or urgency, “the status of an object little a.”[2] What does that state?

Object little a is a concept which, says Miller, “inserts life into the mortified signifying chain,”[3] as it appears specifically in the fantasy’s mathem. Thus, urgency rhymes with life – this is what Lacan highlights when he translates Freud’s words, die Not des Lebens by “life’s urgency.”[4] He also points out that “nothing created appears without urgency.”[5] “Life’s urgency” first brings color to subjective urgency, then to the treatment itself.

However, this status of object little a also indicates a loss.[6] In a state of urgency, the subject separates himself from the anxiety and perplexity caused by a traumatic break in the signifying chain. Subjective urgency has the character of an act, which is an opening towards the Other: “nothing in urgency fails to surpass itself in speech.”[7] This move, which goes against the passion of ignorance and departs from a passage to the act, is an urgency to say. Then, the subject’s anxiety may start to calm down.



1 Lacan, J., “Logical Time and the Assertion of Anticipated Certainty,” Écrits, Norton, New York/London, 2006, p. 168.  

2 Miller, J.-A., “L’orientation lacanienne. Les us du laps,” class of 17 May 2000 ( not translated).

3 Miller, J.-A., “Biologie lacanienne,” La Cause freudienne, No. 44, p. 22 (not translated).

4 Lacan, J., The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII, Norton, New York/London, 1992, p 46.

5 Lacan, J., “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis,” Écrits, op. cit., p. 201.

6 Lacan, J., The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XVII, Norton, New York/London, 2007, p. 19.

7 Lacan, J., “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis,” Écrits, op. cit.