NLS Seminar – with Sophie Marret-Maleval
Saturday, 19th May 2018 – 2-5pm
"Transference Reveals the Truth of Love"
Report on Sophie Marret-Maleval's presentation at the London Society of the New Lacanian School, on Saturday 19th May, 2018.
On 19th May, the day which coincided with the Royal wedding, Sophie Marret-Maleval came to London to speak to us about love. She gave us a very rich conceptual paper which, as she said, reflected her love for reading Lacan and chose a phrase from Lacan's last teaching, "transference reveals the truth of love" to take us through his work and explore what becomes of the notion of transference and love.
So starting from "Presentation on Transference", a text which exposes the impasses that are reached by the overwhelming presence of the analytic couple, we moved to symbolic articulations of transference, whereby love is equated with a lack in the subject insofar as he is a speaking being. Thus in Seminar VIII, the desiring subject tries to reach the object of desire in the Other, by making himself desirable: the substitution of the desired one for the desiring one is crucial insofar as what is desired is a desiring Other. This is echoed in Seminar V, where Lacan makes it clear that desire is the desire for a desire, a desire to be desired, hence the supposition of a desire within the Other. This condition is what makes love always reciprocal yet in that respect transference differs from love insofar as the analyst does not answer the demand for love and therefore leads the analysand to the recognition of the impossibility of her completion, of her lack, of the true nature of the object at stake.
With the advent of Seminar XX and the paradigm of the non-rapport, speech is no longer understood as communication but as jouissance. Meaning becomes secondary in comparison to S1a, the mark of the signifier on the body, and thus Lacan will privilege the notion of the sign over the signifier and claim that the signifier is the cause of jouissance. In Seminar XX Lacan says that love is a sign that one is changing discourses. He thus connects love to the sign, conceives of love as a sign, not included in the structure of discourses. The sign is linked to the letter, a displacement of the notion of writing which has to be situated with regard to what does not cease not to be written, the non-rapport. Following Lacan, Sophie Marret-Maleval told us that in love what appears is but the sign. As Lacan puts in Encore, Smoke is the sign of the smoker, hence the sign links subject and object; it brings together two dimensions that have nothing in common (the signifier and the object). After all, she reminded us, common experience testifies to the fact that love is a matter of signs, signs of love.
Under the logic of the non-rapport, Sophie Marret-Maleval noted the transformation of previously primordial givens such as the Name of the Father, the Other, the phallus into derivatives, fictions, mere semblants, which, situated between the symbolic and the real, operate as "connectors", holding together elements that are fundamentally disconnected. Jacques-Alain Miller writes that the non-rapport is a concept to be situated against structure, against articulation (S1-S2). He defines structure as "the formulation of a plurality of rapports reckoned as real under the species of the necessary – of what doesn't cease to be written". In stark contrast, the non-rapport in Encore restricts the privilege of the structure and points to the role of what does not stop not being written, upsetting the paradigmatic relations of the previous years, in particular the link between S1 and S2.
Sophie Marret-Maleval then spoke to us in detail about the formulas of sexuation by drawing on set theory, to indicate that the arrow between S barred and a, points to the supplementary function of love, which crosses the frontiers between men and women on the chart and thus makes up for the non-relation.
Staying with Encore, Sophie Marret-Maleval noted that the imaginary identification derived from the narcissistic component of love, related to the image of the self as developed by Freud, does not touch the fundamental identification of the One, the identification between a and S1. Lacan moves to an idea of love which aims at being, at being One, not being two. "We are but one", he concludes, in the unary sense, One all alone. The foundation of identity is not being, but the signifier of the One, S1 and the object a. While previously, the demand to be loved aimed at being, at getting the supplement of being we lacked, in the last teaching of Lacan love is closely linked to the inexistence of the sexual relation.
Lacan also points to the function of love as a letter whereby love links the One and the Other by means of object a. It links S1 and a, which is also the function of the letter: it makes a certain use of the symbolic that borders on the real. As the subject is displaced from S barred to S1, from the subject between signifiers to the subject considered from the identification between a and S1 (real and signifier), love becomes more closely linked to the effect of language and to transference. Love consists of writing a letter and transference consists of reading it. Thus Lacan speaks about reading and interpretations based on reading, which aim at the extraction of object a, the roots of one's jouissance beyond meaning. This is done by isolating the S1s connected to the subject's jouissance. Thus, like love, analytic experience aims at accessing a by relying on S1s.
Knowledge is being revisited. While earlier one loves the person they assume to have knowledge, analytic experience aims at desupposition so that the subject can start reading for himself. Analytic experience puts into play the incompleteness of the Other, its inexistence. What escapes the Other is the object hence the path toward the sexual non-rapport is established as a consequence of the fact that there is One, but the Other does not exist: "what [man] approaches is the cause of his desire that I have designated as object a. That is the act of love." Sophie Marret-Maleval then returned to the link with the sign to say that love is a practice of signs, putting enigma into play rather than meaning, with the object of love in view, its signs revolving around the hole of the Other and the object a, implying jouissance more than representing anything. Love also makes up for the non-rapport by creating a link between S barred, S1 and a and moving towards a, beyond meaning and towards jouissance. After all, the love letter is written not only through the use of pen and paper but by speaking of love, which is more about jouissance than meaning. And as there is no sexual relation, love can only be a supplementary device, suppléeance, which implies a fragility and requires repeated attempts, again and again, encore, at writing an ephemeral link.
Lastly, Sophie Marret-Maleval drew on seminar XXI, to say that truth is an effect of speech and of the analytical experience. In that seminar Lacan says that transference is not a means, but the effect of analytical experience, a result inasmuch as speech reveals truth, the dimension of the real and of the object. The emphasis is on saying which reveals the object as it contains jouissance. Enunciation, the function of S1 contains jouissance. Transference is an effect of saying, no longer equated with love, but a means by which its truth is revealed, something that constitutes truth, the object a and as a result the in existence of the sexual relation.
Sophie Marret-Maleval's presentation was followed by a lively discussion in which she was able to touch upon many themes. To name but a few: the destiny of transference and love at the end of analysis; the act of saying, the S1, and its knotting function which replaces the function of the father; the difference in the knotting in clinical structures and the difficulties encountered therein; and Lacan's statement "love is a sign that one is changing discourses". What I found particularly striking was the nature of love as an almost transitional word, which points to a discursive shift: if Love is conceived of as between discourses, while a remains discursive and circulates within, we can understand why the purpose of psychoanalysis – at least at the level of its engagement with the social – is to support the circulation of discourses. Circulation thus "goes against the turning in circles of a single discourse".
We thank our guest for her transmission and her generosity…
Sophie Marret-Maleval's text will be published in one of the forthcoming issues of the Psychoanalytical Notebooks of the London Society of the NLS.