Prelude 20, Sol Aparicio

To die, to sleep; to sleep, perchance to dream… (Hamlet)

A fundamental desire inhabits sleep and is satisfied in the dream: the desire to sleep. A well-known doctrinal point established in The Interpretation of Dreams, becomes suddenly for Lacan the greatest enigma of the dream mechanism.[1] Why didn’t Freud speak of a need to sleep, rather than of a desire? And why is it only Lacan who is surprised by that?

The body and its jouissance arrive on the scene at that point: “the essence of sleep is the suspension of the body’s relation to jouissance.”[2] When the body is enjoying, we no longer sleep. However, when we are sleeping, we dream. The body that sleeps is certainly unplugged from language which “fits out” jouissance,[3] but not completely; the dream’s knitting remains possible.

The need to sleep? Yes, but… “the needs of speaking beings are contaminated by the fact of being involved in an other satisfaction.”[4] Sleep is involved in the satisfaction that the dream provides. Now, isn’t it “incredible that the power of the dream has gone as far as making a corporeal function of sleep and desire”?[5]

Here, Lacan follows Freud very closely. 1. To dream is an activity that aims at a Lustgewinne, a surplus enjoyment. 2. The dream only functions to protect sleep. 3. “What is it about the dream dependent as it is on the unconscious, that is, on the structure of desire, that would be able to disturb sleep”? This is a question credited to Freud.

In reply, Lacan advances this hypothesis: jouissance is in the very ciphering that the dream work brings into play. The more it ciphers, the more it enjoys and the more it disturbs sleep. However, this does not take us very far. We stop dreaming when we fall into a deep sleep. “Sleep remains protected from jouissance.” It may continue, with the dream’s complicity, which stops just at the appointed time.

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos,” said Goya. Namely, “the dream of reason…”; but also, “the sleep of reason…” El sueño: the Spanish tongue speaks thus of the dream’s complicity with sleep. El sueño is the signifier of the desire to sleep, the one that says: “we only wake so as to go on sleeping”!

Sleep is thus extended for the parlêtre. It is “not that his body needs more sleep than others,” but that “the imaginary sleeps;” there is in the imaginary “something which requires that the subject sleep.” The imaginary, besides, is that: “the prevalence given over to a need of the body to sleep.”[6]

When, then, will there be an exit from sleep?

The analytic discourse was born from its break from the sleep of hypnosis. Psychoanalysis, born from an awakening! The awakening that implies a desire other than the one to sleep has appeared. A desire that lets itself be questioned by the jouissance that disturbs.

Translated by Esther Faye

[1] Seminar XVII, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, p. 57.

[2] Séminaire XIX, … ou pire, Seuil, p. 234.

[3] Seminar XX, Encore, p. 55.

[4] Ibid, p. 51.

[5] Séminaire XX1, Les non-dupes errent, 20 November 1973, unpublished.

[6] Ibid., 19 March 1974.

Prelude 19, Celeste Soranna

Strange stars stare at the Earth,
They are the colour of iron and wander in desire,
Searching for love with incandescent arms,
And reaching the cold of the air.

Élise Lasker Schüler

Of desire in spite of everything

No matter on what level we are in the graph, no one can declare desire, and all consideration or conceptual articulation can easily resound as a predicate. “What is desire if desire is the desire of the Other?” [1]

Lacan returns to this point on several occasions in the course of his work, and he interrogates this point each time as if it were the first. As if each time he were on the point of inventing something different, of elaborating new formulae, in order to subtract what does not come from the desire of the analyst (or what does not come every time): neither by the door of sexuation, nor by the exit door already paradoxically open. Let’s think about the “quantum formulae of sexuation” [“les formules quantiques de la sexuation”][2].

For the poetry of the third millennium, as for the desire of the analyst, a “system of anti-fragility” [“système d’anti-fragilité”] should be invented in order to safeguard the paradox. If the poetry of the third millennium is defined as a “fragile enigma” [“énigme fragile”][3], to the extent that it escapes the grasp of the saying, desire is sustained from paradoxes.

Let’s see what Henri Meschonnie says on the subject of poetry in Celebration of Poetry [Célébration de la poésie][4]: “For a poem, it is necessary to learn to refuse, to work on a whole list of refusals. Poetry changes only if we refuse it. As the world only changes through those who refuse it”.
Saying no in order to consent to what?

If desire does not coincide with what is true either, as Demosthenes shows us in one of his maxims, then, paradoxically, to say no to misleading love – love as semblant of knowledge – can signify consent in order that psychoanalysis continue to exist through a different love, a love that emerges from the discourse of the analyst.

Perhaps, but there is no love that is new, different. Let’s also remove the perhaps – we say there is nothing to do with the “wanting to know nothing about it” particular to each of us in relation to the horror, but… Yes there is a but. We mustn’t forget desire as objection (to jouissance, to impotence, to imposture…), but, again, psychoanalysis aims at a love that really points beyond the lure… Until proven otherwise.

Translated from Italian to French by Nathalie Dollez
Translated from French to English by Susan Schwartz

[1] Jacques Lacan, Le Séminaire, Livre XXI, Les non-dupes-errent, Lesson of April 9, 1974.

[2]Ibid.: “…In Rome … I was asked questions, namely if the quantum formulae – because there are four of them – could well be situated in a way that had some points of correspondence with the formulae of the four discourses. This is … this is not necessarily unproductive, since what I evoke, finally, is that the little a comes to the place of the x of the formulae that I call: the quantum formulae of sexuation”.
« …A Rome… on m’a posé des questions, à savoir, si les formules quantiques, parce que elles son quatre, pourraient bien se situer quelque parte d’une façon qui aurait des correspondances avec les formules des quatre discours. C’est… c’est pas forcément infécond, puisque ce que j’évoque, enfin, c’est que le petit a vienne à la place de x des formules que j’appelle: formules quantiques de la sexuation.»

[3]Giovanni Dotoli, La poésie française au début du 3eme millénaire ou l’énigme fragile, Schena Editore, Presses de l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne, Brindisi, 2002.

[4]Henri Meschonnie, Célébration de la poésie, pp. 252-254. “Pour un poem, il faut apprendre à refuser, à travailler à toute une liste de refus. La poésie ne change que si on la refuse. Comme le monde ne change que par ceux qui le refusent”

New development 6, Thierry Lévy

“The Boxer”

Opposed to the privation of liberty, hostile to all judgment, Thierry Lévy is a singular lawyer, at odds with the prevailing discourse in the judiciary system. He is referred to as a “boxer” because of the power of his speeches for the defense!

When psychoanalysis affirms and reveals the indefensible in each one of us, Thierry Lévy radically refuses the notion of “monster” and affirms, loud and clear, the duty of defending all the accused, sometimes against himself.

We invite you to listen to this fascinating interview that he kindly granted to Cathy Barnier and Marc Strauss