The Two Faces of Urgency

The Two Faces of Urgency
Alexandre Stevens

At the beginning of Lacan’s teaching, urgency is divided into two concepts: haste and the urgency of life.

Haste is the form that urgency takes in the act. In “Logical Time,”[1] Lacan presents three modalities of time that correspond in each instance to a particular mode of the subject. At the instant of the glance, the subject is impersonal; during the time for comprehending, the subject is taken up in the imaginary of intersubjectivity; and at the moment of concluding, the subject fades away in the haste of the act. This moment is a mode of urgency where the certainty of the act anticipates its subjective verification.

The urgency of life[2] – this is how Lacan translates the Freudian expression, die Not des Lebens.[3] It is the requirement of the drive. This “urgency of life” refers to das Ding, the object in so far as it differs from all the versions of the objects of reality (die Sache), which are only versions of the signifier. Das Ding is the most intimate object of the subject, in as much as it is foreign to the subject; it is the Freudian lost object, the part lost forever in the heart of being. What returns to the subject in this form of Thing is an impossible enjoyment, because it is totally outside the signifier and can only be attained in transgression.[4] The subject can only try to defend himself against this drive urgency.

The subjective urgency is seized in this double movement.

Translated by Janet Haney



1 Lacan, J., “Logical Time and the Assertion of Anticipated Certainty” [1945], Écrits, W.W. Norton, New York/London, 2006, p. 161.

2 Lacan, J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, Routledge, London, 1992, p. 46.

3 Freud, Sigmund, “Project for a Scientific Psychology” [1895], SE1, p. 297.

4 As developed by Jacques-Alain Miller in the third of the six “Paradigms of Jouissance”, Lacanian Ink, No. 17, 2000.