PsychoanalysisLacan Volume 1
Testimonies of the Pass
Bruno de Halleux
In his most recent seminar, “Being and the One,” Jacques-Alain Miller reorganises the end of an analysis by structuring it according to three stages with the ternary of the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real. Regarding the symptom, he gives it two axes: the first being faithful to the classical teaching of Lacan, namely that the symptom is a formation of the unconscious and as such it is decipherable, interpretable and consequently resolvable. The second concerns itself with understanding the symptom as that which remains permanently, as that which doesn’t change, as that which passes through the mill of the signifier and of its multiple significations, remaining as a mark, as an inscription, like a permanent letter on the body. It concerns that which of the symptom endures, which also forced Freud to theorise beyond the pleasure principle and the negative therapeutic reaction in 1920.
Speaking of the symptom as an iteration is to speak of the symptom as the One which repeats itself and which can never be erased.
I have to say that this is the most difficult part of the theory of the pass and of the beyond of the pass as Jacques-Alain Miller has developed it. How does one identify this S1, all alone, this mark left on the body by the percussion of the signifier, how to locate this S1 which doesn’t stop repeating without ever being dialectised with an S2? How to find the One all alone that commemorates an unforgettable irruption of jouissance? It isn’t as yet clear to me.
To speak of the end of an analysis from the perspective of the Imaginary register seems to me to make it more accessible. Jacques-Alain Miller, who takes into account texts upon which the classical teaching of Lacan is based as the point of reference — keeping in the register of the Imaginary, says of the end of analysis that it is predicated on the universalisation by man of his particularity. In addition, he links the Freudian notion of particularity to narcissism. The end of an analysis is therefore understood as ‘getting beyond’ narcissism, as a fundamental relation of the image of oneself reflected on the screen of the universal.
Now, I recall the context of my birth whereby I arrived as an unplanned twin, according to my family romance, as a child nearly still-born. How often have I heard this story — my own — of the child saved in extremis by a nurse, of the child that was cherished, that was loved, because it was a gift from God. I grew up in this position of phallicised child by a mother who brought me up with this persistent belief that I was a miracle. Put in the place of the mother’s phallic object, things got even more complicated, because, as a twin, I created a reduced world, a sort of bubble where my brother twin would come to join with my mother only to close off the universe in which I grew up. With twins, one knows how rivalry often gives an imaginary advantage to one of the twins. That is why I found myself very early on encumbered with an uncontrolled and crippling narcissism.
This narcissism was strongly revived when during my Baccalaureate year, in a boarding school attached to a Benedictine monastery. I had been appointed as captain of abbey school, the highest distinction possible for a collegian.
The counterpart of this narcissism was a profound conviction rooted in the feeling of uselessness which always accompanied me in my actions. A situation which carries alongside mortification since, like a balloon inflated by my narcissism, I was empty and flat when I was being myself. Ending the analysis in this first instance consisted in overcoming my narcissism and releasing me at the same time of this infinite ambivalence of thinking of myself as both successful and unsuccessful man.
I would like to point out a remark of Jacque-Alain Miller’s who reminds us that Lacan articulated the Freudian death drive to the Imaginary. If Death lurks behind narcissism, then there is something of death in order to negotiate narcissism. In the resolution of this first moment, a suicidal impulse which had for a long time accompanied me disappeared completely.
I have already elaborated on the end of the analysis through the lens of the Symbolic register, when I made my testimony in the last days of the School as well as during the first evening of the teaching of the AE. The dream which concludes my analysis is astonishing because it responds to my fear of the barons of psychoanalysis which I assumed in the School were propelling me before a Real which I never ceased to put a stop to and faced in violent ways including a loud NO. The signifier ‘Twingo’ which emerged in this dream, condenses a whole network of significations which touch on the Paternal function, on the Desire of the mother, on twins, on the Desire of the father that I have for my son, and so forth. Without repeating here my entire development, I will note that the passage in my analysis from Imaginary castration to Symbolic castration necessitated this long detour, which is specific to analysis, to therein proceed through the field of speech and language.
In passing from speech and language through to leading in fine to an impossible saying, to this, which was the title of an afternoon seminar in Belgium with Eric Laurent, ‘That there is not the last word’. The barred subject is the signifier that lacks, the signifier that is missing, the signifier the subject assumes under the form of nothingness or of the lack of being.
I now get to the third moment of my pass, that which takes account of the Real, through the symptom as it iterates ‘without rhyme or reason’ (Miller, 2011). This is the hardest part, because, like the memories of Sonia Chiriaco who quotes Jacques-Alain Miller, ‘if the Sinthome is so difficult to identify, this is because we don’t have any landmarks in the Imaginary, nor any in bodily sensation. […] One cannot say what it is, one can only say that it exists’ (Miller, 2011).
Last November, I had already called to mind the signifier ‘being nothing’ which has accompanied me for a long time in my relationships with others. The signifier finds its Imaginary double in the image of myself in the form of the other who is faultless. Perfect, slick, complete, successful, the man which the comic, Gad El Maleh, so judiciously caricatured by the name ‘blond concept’. That person who is successful in everything, who embodies all the current ideals of society, who never misses a step, and who never falters. Until late in my analysis, I clothed all others in this famous blond concept. I used to believe in the existence of this type of man. I used to think that every person I met in my field, including my colleagues in the Ecole de la Cause Freudienne, or specialists in Autism, smart patients, indeed, everyone I encountered I saw in the initial instance as embodying this ‘excellence’, with this incredible trait of not having submitted to castration. In language — and people all around me smiled — it happened to me too often to pin my last encounter on a ‘this is truly a remarkable person!’ I believed, I believed I was hard as iron, and I needed some years before that from time to time to fall off the pedestal which I had erected. Such was one of my symptoms which never ceased repeating itself. A symptom which I took little by little the measure of and which produced its ultimate offshoot during the day before my famous dream, during a supervision session, I expressed to the analyst my wish to present for the Pass and the brake which I experienced facing the immense knowledge of my colleagues of the École de la cause Freudienne.
With this logic, I was giving such consistency to the Other that I could only find myself crushed.
During a meal that followed a conference of the Freudian Field in Belgium, which took place after the Pass, surrounded by several friends and colleagues, one of them who had fine hearing, cried: “With Bruno, everyone is remarkable!” We all laughed.
Is this to say that something persists as before? That the ‘remarkable’ with which I pinned all new subjects hadn’t been reduced by the steamroller which is the analytic process? I don’t think so. On the contrary. Whereas for a number of years I found myself afflicted by the Imaginary and Symbolic relationship where the Other was ascribed the worth and weight which I procured for it, today, I take rather the ‘remarkable’ as a remainder which is no longer active, of which was the matrix of my relationship with the Other. I no longer believe this. It is inconsequential. Somehow, this ‘remarkable’ was no longer part of the universal order, not at all. It no longer applied to ‘all men’. There was no longer a universal paternal idealisation. It is like the foam of a wave, leaving a trace on the beach. I read in this remainder which make my friends laugh, the emergence of what is there, the indelible mark of what characterised my relationship with the Other.
If the remarkable is no longer of the universal register, its status is changed, it is pinned henceforth as the most singular. What was most surprising during my analysis was without doubt the clearing up of my confusion with respect to my father. This one has fallen, it has become contingent, it shines today by pere-version, by that which is singular, and an astonishing thing, as this father is today in the evening of his life, I have reconnected a thread with him who excluded me from the field of speech. An issue evaporated, he became someone in a series of men I am attached to. I have without doubt surveyed his ‘remarkable’, his version of jouissance, his impossible.
Today my work as an analyst is to find in each of those who knock on my door ‘the remarkable’, which is hidden underneath the trappings of their demand. I have myself become ‘remarkable’, in other words, the symptom, that which was there always and which I didn’t want to assume has become now a motor which energises me, it sustains me and spurs me on and — one could also say — a symptom which iterates.
Translated by David Westcombe
Miller, J.A. (2011). L’orientation Lacanienne, L’Etre et l’un, cours du 18 mai 2011, inedit
Miller, J.A. (2010-2011). L’Etre et l’Un.