Seminar XIXa : The Psychoanalyst’s Knowledge (Savoir) – Seven Talks at St Anne’s Hospital : 1971-1972: Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on November 4, 1971



Publication & Availability

Dates, Page number & Notes in both translations

Quotes from this text & References

Further texts


Also known as ‘Seminar XIXa : The Savoir of the Psychoanalyst’

Jacques-Alain Miller, 2011 in ‘Talking to Brick Walls’, notes : Having been invited to deliver a series of monthly seminars for junior psychiatrists at the Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris, Lacan chose the title The Psychoanalyst’s Knowledge. Some of his pupils, perhaps inspired by reading Bataille, had at the time been waving the banner of ‘non-knowledge’.

While the first three of these ‘entretiens’, as Lacan called them, corresponded roughly to his initial idea, the next four revolved around questions that were being discussed in his main seminar held in the Law Faculty on the Place du Panthéon under the title …or Worse (…ou Pire).

I have respected this caesura by inserting these four sessions in their chronological position in Book XIX of the Seminar, where they would have beena conspicuous omission had they not been included. The first three talks, on the other hand, would be distracting there, and so I have grouped them together in this short book.

They were delivered in the hospital chapel on 4th November 1971, 2nd December 1971 and 6th January 1972. : pvii to viii of Talking to Brick Walls, A Series of Presentations in the Chapel at Sainte-Anne Hospital : Jacques Lacan : Translated by Adrian Price (AP/J-AM) : Polity Press 2017 : Originally published as Je parle aux murs, Entretiens de la chapelle de Sainte-Anne : Éditions du Seuil, 2011

Publication & Availability

– Translated by Denise Green

Seminar XIX: session of 3rd March 1972

Title: 3 March 1972, The Knowledge of the Psychoanalyst,

Published in Semiotext 10, vol. 4, 1, 1981.

If anyone has a copy of this translation, Julia Evans would be most interested to read it. Thank you.

– Translated by Jack W. Stone from Jacques Siboni’s transcription.

Seminar XIX: session of 4th June 1972

Title: The Savoir of the Psychoanalyst, Seminar of 4/6/72

[JE notes: I think this date should be the 1st June, as Thursday seems to be the day when these entretiens happened and the 4th June 1972 was a Monday]

Published by M.I.T.: University of Missouri: here

Available here  & also at /lacan

– Translated by Cormac Gallagher (CG)

Book 19a: The Knowledge of the Psychoanalyst, Seven Talks at Sainte-Anne: 1971-1972

This comprises 7 talks given by Jacques Lacan at Sainte-Anne Hospital.

Date of sessions: 4th November 1971; 2nd December 1971; 6th January 1972; 3rd February 1972; 3rd March 1972; 4th May 1972; 1st June 1972; (Jack Stone gives this date as 4th June 1972. It appears to be translated from the same source.)

Published at Lacan in Ireland here    Available here

Translated by Adrian Price (see below for detail of content)

Published as chapters

V. Topology of speech (a talk at Sainte-Anne) – probably 3rd February 1972 :

VII. The vanished partner (a talk at Sainte-Anne) probably 3rd March 1972 :

XI. An issue of Ones (a talk at Sainte-Anne) probably 4th May 1972 :

XIV. Theory of the four formulae (a talk at Sainte-Anne) probably 1st June 1972 :

in : …or Worse : The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XIX : by Jacques Lacan : Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller : August 2018 : Polity

First published in French as Le Séminaire, Livre XIX . . . . ou pire (1971-1972), Éditions du Seuil, 2011

Related texts

Seminar XIX : The Psychoanalyst’s Knowledge – Seven Talks at St Anne’s Hospital : 1971-1972: begins on 4th November 1971: Jacques Lacan or here

Seminar XIX: 1971-72: …Ou pire …Or worse : from 8th December 1971 : Jacques Lacan or here

Account (Summary) of Seminar XIX -… Or worse : July 1973 : Jacques Lacan or here

Published in French

In French : Jacques Lacan : Je parle aux murs, : Paris : Seuil, 2011. This book comprises the sessions Jacques Lacan gave at St Anne Hospital on 4th November 1971, 2nd December 1971 & 6th January 1972.

The 4th November 1971 session is probably available to download in French at

In English : Talking to Brick Walls, A Series of Presentations in the Chapel at Sainte-Anne Hospital : Jacques Lacan : Translated by Adrian Price (AP/J-AM) : Polity Press 2017

Dates, Page number & Links

Cormac Gallagher’s & Jack W. Stone’s translation :

Seminar XIX : 4th November 1971 : (CG) pI 1

(AP/J-AM) p1 : Knowledge, Ignorance, Truth and Jouissance


Seminar XIX : 2nd December 1971 : (CG) pII 1

(AP/J-AM) p35 : On Incomprehension and Other Themes


Seminar XIX : 6th January 1972 : (CG) pIII 1

(AP/J-AM) p71 : I’ve Been Talking to Brick Walls

Note: This session has Lacan’s neologism amur which combines mur and amour [see p103-104 of the Seuil edition where it is indicated that it should be written: (a)mur]

In Cormac Gallagher’s translation the use of a(mur) follows from Seminar XIXa : 6th January 1972 : pIII 6.   The sentence ‘It is obvious that the walls make me enjoy!’ is at the bottom of pIII 7. : See quotes below.

There are two references to Aimée in this session. (CG) pIII 9 & 11 : See below.


Seminar XIX : 3rd February 1972 : (CG) pIV 1


Seminar XIX : 3rd March 1972 : (CG) pV 1


Seminar XIX : 4th May 1972 : (CG) pVI 1


Seminar XIX : 1st June 1972 : (CG) pVII 1

Translated by Jack W. Stone from Jacques Siboni’s transcription.

Published by M.I.T.: University of Missouri here

Available here [The Savoir of the Psychoanalyst, Seminar of June 4, 1972.]

Now available at /lacan

Dates, chapter & page numbers & links to English translations & book cover

– Translated by Adrian Price

…or Worse: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XIX : by Jacques Lacan : Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller : August 2018 : Polity

The book cover

‘A chance meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella. The impossible face-off between a whale and a polar bear. One was devised by Lautréamont; the other punctuated by Freud. Both are memorable. Why so? They certainly tickle something in us. Lacan says what it is. It’s about man and woman.
There is neither accord nor harmony between man and woman. There’s no programme, nothing has been predetermined: every move is a shot in the dark, which in modal logic is called contingency. There’s no way out of it. Why is it so inexorable, that is, so necessary? It really has to be reckoned that this stems from an impossibility. Hence the theorem: “There is no sexual relation.” The formula has become famous.
In the place of what thereby punctures a hole in the real, there is a plethora of luring and enchanting images, and there are discourses that prescribe what this relation must be. These discourses are mere semblance, the artifice of which psychoanalysis has made apparent to all. In the twenty-first century, this is beyond dispute. Who still believes that marriage has a natural foundation? Since it’s a fact of culture, one devotes oneself to inventing. One cobbles together different constructions from whatever one can. It may be better … or worse.
“There is Oneness.” At the heart of the present Seminar, this aphorism, which hitherto went unnoticed, complements the “there is no” of sexual relation, stating what there is. It should be heard as One-all-alone. Alone in jouissance (which is fundamentally auto-erotic) and alone in significance (outside any semantics). Here begins Lacan’s late teaching. Everything he has already taught you is here, and yet everything is new, overhauled, topsy-turvy.
Lacan had taught the primacy of the Other in the order of truth and the order of desire. Here he teaches the primacy of the One in its real dimension. He rejects the Two of sexual relation and that of signifying articulation. He rejects the Big Other, the fulcrum of the dialectic of the subject, disputing its existence, which he consigns to fiction. He depreciates desire and promotes jouissance. He rejects Being, which is mere semblance. Henology, the doctrine of the One, here outclasses ontology, the theory of Being. What about the symbolic order? Nothing more than the reiteration of the One in the real. Hence the abandoning of graphs and topological surfaces in favour of knots made of rings of string, each of which is an unlinked One.
Recall that Seminar XVIII sighed for a discourse that would not be semblance. Well, with Seminar XIX, we have an attempt at a discourse that would take its point of departure in the real. The radical thought of modern Uni-dividualism.’
Jacques-Alain Miller

Table of Contents

[with subheadings, date of session, & page numbers in this edition & link to available translation]

The session’s titles have been given by the editor Jacques-Alain Miller

These have been grouped according to availability of English translation. Therefore, the Chapters are not in numerical order….

a)  See Seminar XIX: 1971-72: …Ou pire …Or worse : from 8th December 1971 : Jacques Lacan or here


I. The small difference – 8th December 1971 – p3-14 – See here

The empty place | Prosdiorismoi | Nature and discourse | Let them muddle through! | Modality and negation

II. The function  [?]x – 15th December 1971 – p15-26 – see here

The written: the return of the repressed | A matheme verging on doltishness | Aristotle, Being, and the One | Castration, and existence | The not-all

III. From anecdote to logic – 12thJanuary 1972 – p27-36 – see here

Favouring the real of logic | A disturbed relation to the body | Function and argument | The not-alland the at least one| The possible and the contingent

IV. From necessity to inexistence – 19th January 1972 – p37-48 – see here

The symptom, between truth and jouissance | Phallic jouissance | The emergence of the number 1 | Leibniz, Frege, Pascal | The two Ones


VI. I ask you to refuse me my offering – 9th February 1972 – p65-77 – see here

. . . because: this isn’t it | Linguistic analysis | Schematizing speech | Grammar and signification | The Borromean rings

VIII. What is involved in the Other – 8th March 1972 – p95-104 – See here

Your fantasies derive jouissance from you | The queueof thoughts | Ontology is a dishonour | There is no transgression of the impossible | Woman between centre and absence


IX. In the field of the Unian – 15th March 1972 – p107-117 – See here

Parmenides, the One speaking | Yad’lun| Association is not free | Plato, Lacanian and feeble-minded | Existence in Aristotle

X. Yad’lun – 19th April 1972 – p118-127 – See here

From Plato to Cantor | Set and element | Impossible to denumerate | The empty set | The nadand the One of lack

XII. Knowledge about truth – 10th May 1972 – p146-157 – See here

Wisdom is knowledge of jouissance | They peel away and go astray | The analyst does not affect a semblance | The poverty of the phenomenology of love | The inaccessible cardinals

XIII. The founding of sexual difference – 17th May 1972 – p158-168 – See here

The geniality of strike action | The ancillary position of truth and meaning | Wavering in the sharing-out of the sexes | Theory of hunting | Difference and attribute


XV. The desire to sleep – 14th June 1972 – p189-196 – See here

Creating the verb unigate| Dreams according to Freud | The body’s access to jouissance | Pollution represented in existence | The objection against argumentum ad absurdum

XVI. Bodies captured by discourse – 21st June 1972 – p197-211 : See here

The affable Umberto Eco | Self-cognizance is hygiene | The bodily support in analysis | Jurisprudence and fine sentiments | Racism and fraternity

b) See Seminar XIX : The Psychoanalyst’s Knowledge (Savoir) – Seven Talks at St Anne’s Hospital : 1971-1972: begins on 4th November 1971: Jacques Lacan or here


V. Topology of speech (a talk at Sainte-Anne) – 3rd February 1972 – p51-64 – see here

Where does meaning come from? | Speech between semblance and jouissance | Analysis started with the norm | Science behind the wall . . . | . . . and discourse in front of it

VII. The vanished partner (a talk at Sainte-Anne) – 3rd March 1972 – p78-94 – See here

The illusion of sexual relation | the Hunand the Hautre| Alland not-all| The duality of woman’s jouissance | The exorbitant emergence of the One

XI. An issue of Ones (a talk at Sainte-Anne) – 4th May 1972 – p128-145 – See here

The twain, the structure of real sex | The One, an effect of lack | Disputing the non-denumerable | Equivalence between the element and the empty set | The two levels of the One


XIV. Theory of the four formulae (a talk at Sainte-Anne) – 1st June 1972 – p169-186 – See here

The analyst’s relation to knowledge | Freethinkers in the Vatican | Thinking only by means of the One | The modalities of the formulae | The family wowed by the father is a thing of the past

c) See Account (Summary) of Seminar XIX -… Or worse : July 1973 : Jacques Lacan see here


Report on Seminar XIX, by Jacques Lacan– July 1973 – p216-220 – see here

Library of Seminar XIX, by Jacques-Alain Miller

Translator’s Notes  Published at,  Available here or at  /lacan


Quotes from this Text & References

Seminar XIXa : 4thNovember 1971

– pI 6 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

The unconscious, I have said, is structured like a language. Which one? And why did I say a language? Because as regard language, we are getting to know a little bit. People talk about object-language in logic, whether it is mathematical or not. People talk about metalanguage. People are even speaking about language, for some time, at the level of biology. People talk about language without rhyme or reason. To begin with, if I say that I am talking about language, it is because what is at stake are common features that can be encountered in lalangue. Lalanguebeing itself is subject to a very great variety but there are nevertheless constants. The language that is at stake, as I took the time, the care, the pain and the patience to articulate, is the language where one can distinguish the code from the message, among other things.

– pI 8 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

Fourth point: where does enjoyment lie? What does it need? A body. To enjoy, a body is necessary. Even those who promise us eternal beatitude can only do so by supposing that the body is conveyed there :glorious or not, it has to be there.  You need a body. Why? Because the dimension of enjoyment for the body, is the dimension of the descent towards death. It is moreover very precisely how the pleasure principle in Freud announces that he knew well from that moment on what he was saying. Because if you read him with care, you will see there that the pleasure principle has nothing to do with hedonism, even if it is bequeathed to us by the most ancient tradition, it is in truth the unpleasure principle. It is the unpleasure principle, to the degree that by stating it at every moment, Freud goes off the rails. In what does pleasure consist he tells us: it is to lower tension. As if it were not the very principle of everything that is called enjoyment, something to enjoy, that it produces a tension. This indeed is why, when Freud is on the path of Jenseits des Lustprinzips,[Beyond the Pleasure Principe: 1920]of the beyond of the pleasure principle, what does he state to us in Civilisation and its discontents, [1929, published 1930]if not that very probably well beyond the repression described as social, there ought to be – he writes it textually -an organic repression.

It is curious, it is a pity that one has to take so much trouble for things that are said so obviously, and get the following to be noticed: that the dimension by which the speaking being is distinguished from the animal, is assuredly that there is in him this gap through which he would be lost, through which he is permitted on the body or the bodies, whether it is his own or that of his fellows, or that of animals who surround him, to give rise in them, for their or his own gain, to what is properly speaking called enjoyment.

Seminar XIXa : 6th January 1972 :

– Seminar XIX : 6th January 1972 : pIII 9 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : 2nd paragraph: two references to Aimée. See ‘The Case of Aimée, or Self-punitive Paranoia’: Jacques Lacan: 1932 or here

In a word, and to pay tribute to her for something that she is not at all personally responsible for, it is as everyone knows, around this patient that I pinpointed by the name of Aimée – which was not her’s, of course – that I was drawn towards psychoanalysis.

– Seminar XIXa : 6th January 1972 : pIII 11 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : 2nd reference to Aimée

What I can say, is that it is from a certain angle which is that of a logic that I was able in a journeying which, to start from my patient Aimée, culminated at my second last year of seminar, to state under the title of four discourses towards which there converge the target of a certain actuality, that I was able, along this path to do what? To give at least the reason for walls.

– Seminar XIX : 6th January 1972 : pIII 17 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : a reference to a-mur.

Love, the love that this communicates, that it flows that it fuses, that it is love! Love, the good that the mother wants for her son, l’amur, it is enough to put in the (a) to rediscover what we put our finger on every day, it is that even between the mother mother and the son, the relationship that the mother has with castration, counts for something!

Perhaps, to have a healthy idea of what is involved in love, we should perhaps start from that which, when it is played out, seriously, between a mana and a woman, it is always castration at stake. This is what is castrating. And what passes by this defile of castration, is something that we will try to approach along paths that are a bit rigorous: they can only be logical, and even topological.

Here I am talking to the wall, indeed to (a)murs, and to (a)murs-sements. Elsewhere I am trying to account for it. And whatever may be the use of walls for keeping the voice in good shape, it is clear that the walls, no more than the rest, can have this intuitive support, even if we have all the resources of the art of architecture.

Seminar XIXa : Lecture of 4th May 1972

– Seminar XIXa : 4th May 1972 : PVI 4 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation is quoted in Quotes towards ‘Trauma : Les traumatismes dans la cure analytique’ : 9th April 2013 : Christiane Alberti & Marie-Hélène Brousse: See here


Note : If links to any text do not work, check If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London


Related texts

Account (Summary) of Seminar XIX -… Or worse : July 1973 : Jacques Lacan  see here

Seminar XIX: 1971-72: …Ou pire …Or worse : from 8th December 1971 : Jacques Lacan or here

Seminar XIX : The Psychoanalyst’s Knowledge – Seven Talks at St Anne’s Hospital : 1971-1972: begins on 4th November 1971: Jacques Lacan or here

Further posts:

Some Lacanian history : here

Lacanian Transmission : here

Of the clinic : here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

Or by Jacques Lacan : here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

By Julia Evans here