EUROPEAN FORUM – Philippe Hellebois- Only take part in history as deportees

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Only take part in history as deportees

Philippe Hellebois

Lacan wrote this famous and terrible phrase in one of his last texts. He specified that this same story tells nothing if not the exodus. (1) This remark has a structural scope which does not limit itself to a given era but is as valid for the past, the present as it is for the future. It simply posits that exile is our real as speaking beings. These days moreover, Lacan’s words uttered at a time when racism and the phenomenon of migration seemed far from us, are so relevant that they become premonitory.

 Lacan based his assurance on the lucid consideration of the powers of the symbolic that displaces the jouissance of the speaking being by prohibiting it where it appears. More precisely, it must be refused on one plane, that of the real, to be reached on another, that of the symbolic. Think of the masturbatory jouissance that can thus metaphorise, or more modestly metamorphose in desire or even in love. This small, elementary example shows not only that exile begins early, but occurs even while remaining in place. In addition, one might even add that it is highly desirable unless one prefers the masturbation to a partner whom we do not know from the outset.

That the speaking being is a foreigner in his own country is a fact even less tragic as it is inevitable. This is what Seneca thought, who as a good Stoic, advised to settle for it. Seeking to console his mother from his exile by order of Nero in Corsica, a place then considered to be appalling, he explained in detail that the characteristic of the human condition is to be always  travelling: the human soul is moving, unstable in the image of the spirit reigning in the celestial heights; nothing has ever remained where it was born; the comings and goings of the human race are incessant , or “You will find it hard to find a single land that has been inhabited until now by its original population“. (2)

The discourse of science, whose appearance is relatively recent, has added its grain of salt to the structure by helping to make it unbearable. Pushing the powers of the symbolic to the limit, it accentuates things by setting all the populations in motion at the same time. As a result, the world has become such a global and uniform village. This could have no other impact than tourism if the real did not come to disturb the party. Indeed, the various modes of jouissance do not globalize, do not mix and communicate even less. Their prevailing trend is to exclude each other and if they talk to each other, it is to hear each other screaming.

This made Lacan say that racist fantasies proliferate to the very extent of the contemporary mixture of populations and bodies. In the same thread, he made Nazis nothing less than precursors that would arouse many vocations in the future. (3) Obviously this time has arrived. We have not returned to the green uniforms and swastikas, even if some take them out of the closet on occasion. Followers are more discreet, even ordinary and do the worst in their image. It is to them that Hanna Arendt’s expression, ‘the banality of evil’ is applied. They say they are democrats, but act as perfect scoundrels by exploiting to elect the racist fantasy that walks in the depths of taste.   

Undoubtedly, it is on this question of the fantasy that we can contribute to as analysts. It’s not only about condemning it, but of showing it for what it is thus contributing to the fact that the ambient madness of racism and segregation do not crystallize. To do this, there is no other way than conversation and debate with enlightened opinion. Our best weapon and at the same time the only one, will be as always, the word. For us, the forum is second nature.

(1) Lacan, J., ” Joyce the symptom,”   Autres écrits , Paris, Seuil, 2001, p. 568. See also Miller, J.-A., “Violent Children,”   After Childhood, Paris, Navarin, 2017, p. 198-199.

(2) Seneca, “Consolation to Helvia, my mother,” Consolations, Paris, Rivages Pouch, 1992, p. 51-125.

(3) Lacan, J., ” Proposition of 9 October 1967 on the Psychoanalyst of the School,” Autres écrits , op. cit. p. 257.

Translation by Lorena Hojman Davis



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