Program “Une vie, Une oeuvre, Jacques Lacan 1901-1981”
Saturday the 3rd of September at 14:00 on Radio France Culture
The program begins with the voice of Lacan, at the Louvain Conference, of the 13th of October 1972. Lacan is speaking about communication, about laughter. He laughs, the public laughs. Three other extracts of this conference will punctuate the 58 minutes of the program, as well as another extract taken from Lacan’s conference at Rome, of the 1st of November 1974.
Three psychoanalysts are invited: two men and a woman, Patrick Gyomard, an analysand of Lacan; Michel Plon and Monique David-Ménard, who studied his texts and attended his Seminars.
-The analysand describes the meeting place, rue de Lille, then speaks of the person who was Lacan and of his short sessions.
-The other two, whilst not having been analysands of Lacan, evoke also the length of the sessions.
All make a specificity of Lacan, or more so a trait that had something to do with his personality, but do nothing more than what had already been debated at the IPA, when this term was, amongst others, the subject of Lacan’s excommunication in 1963. Cf Ecrits, p. 315.
“Lacan is a particular case, states one of them. And he says how much the short session doesn’t suit him, “If you doing it, you’re playing the clown”. He adds that “it is necessary to remain within the truth.”
Ah! What is true! The truth! An incantation that introduces all sorts of considerations on the person who was Lacan. Where is the analyst of whom the ex-analysand is saying he cannot be distinguished from the person, and who finishes up by saying that he was an “extraordinary presence”?
Indeed! But we know how much Lacan refutes this notion of presence which “plays the role of making up for the theoretical lack”.
I wasn’t expecting a major course, but besides the transfer that the analysand testifies of, when it comes to Lacan’s extraordinary presence, what he said of it was rather ordinary. So much so that the journalist asked the woman of the three, Monique David-Ménard, who had not been an analysand of Lacan, what were, according to her, the effects of Lacan on his patients?
This person spoke of his frequenting the EFP in the seventies up until its dissolution. She was wondering why she had not gone to see Lacan. “Was she afraid?”, “a phobic reaction?” or was it a “wise carefulness”? she asks herself, in order to slide towards the “strange things” which were happening at the EFP, via an anecdote concerning an exchange with her librarian.
I underline here the consistency of her argumentation. Towards the end of the program, when the journalist questions her again on the echoes that she had received on Lacan’s sessions, she evokes “what was going wrong”, a “trangressive aspect” between Lacan and his analysands – briefly, that it was a party at the EFP, when she spoke of the Pré Catelan Ball, and that “it was very good”.
When we effectively have nothing to say, the anecdote or the cancans are a necessary last resort in order to fill up the empty thought.
Coming back to the transference, this is reduced to it’s imaginary form: Lacan created a “very strong transference”, Lacan was unique, in the way he dressed, for example, and in his capacity to be present, … and, in consequence, “your own speech could appear to be unique”. This so-called transference has thus become the equivalent of identification.
Lacan would have also held back some of those he worked with in 1968, “by more direct actions”, specifies P Guymard, while adding that “Lacan did not protect us from himself”. This relation that he establishes between “us” and “him”, underlining the insistence on the imaginary dimension which alternates between a fascination for ourselves and the violence of the other, and this, up until the “traumatic effects, in the sense of a choc” that some would have been subjected to from Lacan.
All of this is delivered crudely, without depth. Nobody asks the question of the subject, foundation for the analytic theory. As such, when the librarian says to you “You must send this text to Lacan, since it is your desire”, there is nothing to get on your high horse about. Instead, it would be necessary to envisage the desire of he who enunciates this.
Finally, what punctuates the program is the voice of Lacan speaking about death. An intense moment, where he does not uniquely refer to his own death: he speaks of the “impossible to bear” in existence, even if it is marked by an end.
Here, I prefer to come back to the writings of Jacques-Alain Miller, in La Vie de Lacan, and to another viewpoint. Jacques-Alain Miller reminds us that, for Lacan, it was “a life spent wanting to be the Other despite the law”, and delivers an illuminating interpretation of this phrase, beyond explanation, such as illness and other weaknesses of an old man.
What is important, in effect, is the man of desire that was Lacan, as much in life as in his work. Nothing of this was articulated in the program. And if the Lacan seminars, rue de l’Ulm, were mentioned by the protagonists of the radio program, there was a dead silence, and this is rightly saying so, on the transcription of the seminars. Jacques-Alain Miller’s name was at no moment mentioned.
I will finish on an observation that seems like nothing. It is not the Lacan Seminar that recently came out that mentions the presentation of the program on Internet. It’s an old thing which is entitled: “Jacques Lacan, Esquisse d’une vie, histoire d’un système de pensée”. It would be necessary all the same that somebody takes a closer look at it one day.
translated by Frances Coates-Ruet