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When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender
This I could not do

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)

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26th June 2021




February 4-6, 2022 / Miami, USA / In person


“The real invented by Lacan is not the real of science,
it is a contingent real, random,
in as much as the natural law of the relation
between the sexes is lacking.
It is a hole in the knowledge included in the real.” 

Jacques-Alain Miller
“A Real for the 21st Century”

Here we are again!  Preparing ourselves for the next Clinical Study Days 14, this time the invitation is to work on that Lacanian notion that we call the Real . . . but which one?

We used to have the reference to truth as a counterpart to the real.  Later in his work, however, Lacan oriented us in a direction in which we no longer need the notion of truth as a counterpart to make the real exist.  The real ex-sists on its own, and—as Clotilde Leguil indicates—Lacan called it “the real of psychoanalysis, which is not that of science or history, but that of trauma and the drive.” [1]

The pluralization and fall of the Name-of-the-Father compelled us to rethink our own clinic, our principles and our ethics.  Jacques-Alain Miller invited us to explore another dimension of psychoanalysis in “A Real for the 21st Century,” and our proposal is to keep that invitation open.  This time we have been forced, by another real, to reinvent our practice and do reinvent our way to make a School.

What language reveals once and again is its impossibility regarding the real.  Even though the real at stake will depend on the singular coordinates of each subject, we do know that the real is expressed by what is not absorbed into discourse, falling under the modality of the impossible. The real is always unbearable, but how does it present itself?

That is the question that we invite you to work on. When someone knocks at our door and asks for analysis, it is not because they have everything in order, or they are in the happiest moment of their lives, usually it is quite the opposite.  In some singular way for each subject presenting to a psychoanalyst, the real has come up in its own way to the speaking being:

  • Is it about a trou-matic event?
  • Is it a real related to the experience of the body, or something at the level of lalangue?
  • Is it a real coming from the Other that doesn’t exist?
  • Is it about the particularity of a moment in which something was touched, disorganized or fractured at the level of the symptom, or the fundamental fantasy, or even at the level of jouissance?
  • What about the real in psychoanalysis with children?
  • What could be said about the real of science expressed in the effects of technology versus the real in nature, and how the speaking being is affected by it in one way or another?
  • During the contingency of COVID-19 or any other circumstances in which a psychoanalytic session takes place through a device: How do you manage to touch the real, when the session is conducted with a technological device and not in person? What inventions and maneuvers must the analyst make in order to maintain the analytic experience as psychoanalytic, and not just on the therapeutic level?

We, psychoanalysts, are aware of the real, aware of its lawless condition, as the real “implies the absence of any law. The real has no order.”[2]  One could say it has a meaningless core, always un-grasped by language, as Lacan points out when he says “language is not itself a message, but rather is only sustained by the function of what I’ve called the hole in the real.”[3]

Jacques-Alain Miller states that “The real, understood in this way, is neither a cosmos nor a world, it is also not an order: it is a piece, an a-systematic fragment, separated from the fictional knowledge that was produced from this encounter.  And this encounter of lalangue and the body does not respond to any prior law, it is contingent and always appears perverse.”[4]

These are some of the questions that will guide our work over the next year in preparation for our Clinical Study Days.  We invite you to hold these questions to orient the case presentations, as well as other submissions related to these issues, and the following discussions that we will have during the Clinical Study Days 14.  These coordinates will be our guideline and will help to orient our work when trying to distinguish: What Real at Stake?

By Isolda Alvarez, CSD14 Chair
& Council of the Lacanian Compass

[1] Leguil, C. (2019) “Truth, Post-Truth, Real” The Lacanian Review, Issue 7/Spring. New Lacanian School, Paris, p. 52.

[2] Miller, J-A. (2014) “A Real for the 21st Century” Scilicet. New Lacanian School, Paris, p. 33.

[3] Lacan, J. (1975-1976) “On What Makes A Hole in the Real” Section I: The Spirit of the knots. Seminar XXIII, The Sinthome. Ed. Polity, USA. 2016, p. 22.

[4] Miller, J-A. (2014) “A Real for the 21st Century” Scilicet. New Lacanian School, Paris, p. 33.

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