The Haste to Act

The Haste to Act
Ruzanna Hakobyan

To the imperative Enjoy! we can add ¡Urgent!

The push to do is one of the facets of an urgency which one can situate in its link with the drive. The urgency to act, to satisfy immediately, short-circuits the Other as the locus of speech, thus of the unconscious. It’s an urgency which carries the mark of jouissance, which is singular for everyone.

A patient comes for consultations because of “irrepressible acts.” After each breakup, she rushes to tattoo her body in order to recover the lack produced in her body by the separation – or, more precisely, to inscribe it on her body.

Jacques-Alain Miller’s 1984 course, “1, 2, 3, 4” situates the unconscious as the opposite of the act. The unconscious is approached through remembering, not through acting. Doubt in the clinic of obsessional neurosis attests to this: in the unconscious work, it is not about the act but about the moment of “verification.”

There is, therefore, an antinomy between the unconscious and the act. Miller adds nonetheless that there is one act – only one – which is articulated with the unconscious: the missed act[1]. For it is in itself a formation of the unconscious. “At the level of the unconscious, there is no other presence of the act than the missed act.”[2]

In analytic work, the urgency of the drive is not treated by being cured.[3] It is a question of allowing the subject to articulate that which in his singularity urges the “signifiers that guarantee what it is about.”[4] So that without delay, “the subject should himself be in a position to answer for his choices.”[5]

Translated by Arunava Banerjee

1 [TN: Fehlleistung in German is translated into “acte manqué” in French by Freud’s translators and is usually translated as “Freudian slip” in English. In Lacan’s Écrits, it is translated as “bungled action.” Freud has also used the word “parapraxes” to describe Fehlleistung. In this text the author prefers “missed act.”]

2 Miller, J.-A., “L’orientation lacanienne. 1, 2, 3, 4”, lesson of 14 November 1984, unpublished.

3 Seldes, R., “Urgencias subjetivas”, online in Spanish:

4 Miller, J.-A., “L’orientation lacanienne. 1, 2, 3, 4”, op. cit.

5 Vanderveken, Y., “Moments of Crisis in the Analytic Cure. Work in Progress Two.”, online: