TIDBITS – Violaine Clément – Towards the NLS Congress 2019

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¡Point of Urgency!1

Violaine Clément
Despite the equivocal sound with -urgie, found in "surgery," which led to Werk in German and work in English, the origin of the word “urgency” does not seem to be linked to the group of words relating to “work”. Urgere, in Latin, means to push, to press. However, it is amusing that this term in Latin also means to press in the sense of leaving an impression. Sisyphus pushing the rock was said to urget saxum, and waves push against the shore, press against the shore. Old age is also called urgens, in the sense that it pushes us, inexorably, towards death. The urgency is what does not cease to be written; it is the symptom.
In this word there is a notion of strength and turmoil. It is a pressure against which we can do nothing, linked to time, to obstinacy, to the swiftness of the act, and associated with the risk of death. In its everyday sense, urgency, which is intimately linked to crisis, is not subjective: it urges for someone, but it is the professional who will determine the existence, or the degree. In two-thirds of the cases, urgency is not recognized. The point of urgency? ¡A question of punctuation! Because it is linked to time, urgency is the point from where a subject, in his traumatic encounter with a real, tips over, and authorizes himself to write a demand. Sometimes it can be written by a simple comma, a semicolon, or a dash as an outline. But sometimes urgency is purely swept away, crossed-out, denied. The subject is not even supposed, but erased like the trace on the shore, swept away by the wave.
Lacan wondered “how someone can devote himself to satisfying these urgent cases. […] I write, however, insofar as I believe I must, in order to be on par with these cases, to be a good pair for them.”[2]
Far from summoning the father, Lacan indictes the position of the psychoanalyst, who is a good pair, in order to be on par with these cases.

Translated by Jane Hodgson-McCrohan



1 The inverted exclamation point, such is the name of this sign which was formerly called, “sign of admiration or exclamation” or “note of admiration” or “detestation” (Cotgrave), before becoming the exclamation mark [in British English, or exclamation point in American English. See also “Punctuations I” by Florencia Shanahan here.]

2 Lacan, J., “Preface to the English Edition of Seminar XI”, The Lacanian Review 6, “¡Urgent!”, NLS, Paris, 2018, pp. 25, 27.


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