The Unconscious and the Body Event : the full interview : July 2015 : Éric Laurent

by Julia Evans on July 5, 2015

Translated by Philip Dravers

p178-187 of The Lacanian Review : Issue 01 : Spring 2016

Available at   /laurent

In French:

Probably L’inconscient et l’événement de corps, entretien avec Éric Laurent : Published in Cause Freudienne, CE CORPS QUI JOUIT,
 La Cause du désir n°91: Novembre 2015 :

References & their availability :

-[p178] … the start of the seminar R. S. I : availability & information Seminar XXII: R. S. I. : 1974-1975: from 19th November 1974 : Jacques Lacan or here

-[p178]1. Seminar XXIII: The Sinthome or Joyce and the Sinthome: 1975-1976: beginning on November 18th 1975 : Jacques Lacan : Availability & notes given here

p101-102 of French 2005 text :”How can we know if the unconscious is real or imaginary? That is the question. It presents characteristics that equivocate between the two.”

Note: It has not proved possible to find this quote in Cormac Gallagher’s translation. If the date of the session of p101-102 can be given, it is much easier to find it. The following are a selection of quotes related to this question.

Seminar XXIII : 13th April 1976 seems to be relevant to this quote:

pX 15 : Question: What can be the status of a response given to a lucubration from which it would be defined as a symptom?

Lacan: It is a matter, n what I pointed out just now, of a lucubration which is that of the Unconscious. And you can indeed, you have certainly noticed that I had to, I had to lower the symptom by a notch, to consider that it was homogenous to the lucubration of the Unconscious. I mean that it, that it is depicted as knotted to it.

… & diagram

So then, this third term can be, can be whatever you like. But if the sinthome is considered as being the equivalent of the Real, this third term on this occasion can only be the imaginary. And after all, one can construct Freud’s theory by making of this Imaginary, namely, of the body, everything that keeps, everything that keeps separated, the two, the totality of what I constituted here by the knot of the symptom and of the Symbolic.

Seminar XXIII : 11th May 1976 : pXI 15 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation uses equivocates.

pXI 8 : The question is the following. What happens, when in consequence of a fault, not uniquely conditioned by chance – because what psychoanalysis teaches us, is that a fault never happens by chance, that there is behind every slip (lapsus), to call it by its name, a signifying finality. Namely that, that the fault tends, if there is an Unconscious, to want to express something, not simply that the subject knows, sine the subject resides – this is what I expressed to you in its time by the relationship of a signifier to another signifier – the subject resides in this very division. That it is the life of language, life for language being something completely different to what is simply called life. That what signifies death for the somatic support has just as much place in the drives that stem from what I have just called life of language. The drives in question stem from a relationship to the body. And the relationship to the body is not, in any man, a simple relationship. Besides the fact that the body has holes, is even, according to what Freud says, what should have put man on the path, on the path of these abstract holes, because this is the abstract. Of these abstract holes that concern the stating of anything whatsoever.

pXI 17 : I must still say a few words, I had prepared them, some words about the epiphany. Joyce’s famous epiphany, that you will encounter at every turn. Because I would ask you to check this, it is that when he gives a list of them all his epiphanies are always characterised by the same thing and which is very precisely the following. The consequence that results from this error; namely, that the Unconscious is linked to the Real. A fantastic thing, Joyce, for his part, does not speak any other way about it. It is quite readable in Joyce that epiphany is there something that ensures that thanks to the mistake, the Unconscious and the Real are knotted together.

pXI 18 : You can easily see on this schema, you can easily see on this schema, that the rupture of the ego frees the imaginary relationship. It is easy, in effect, to imagine that the Imaginary will clear off, it will clear off along here, if the Unconscious as is the case, allows it. It incontestably does so.

Here are the few indications that I wanted to tell you for this last session. One thinks against a signifier. This is the meaning that I gave to the word l’appensée. Oe leans against a signifier to think.

There you are, I am setting you free.

– [p178] 2. Introduction and reply to Jean Hyppolite’s presentation of Freud’s ‘Verneinung’ & the commentary : 10th February 1954 : Jacques Lacan & Jean Hyppolite : Availability & information here : p308-317 of Bruce Fink’s translation

– [p179] Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts: 1963-1964 : beginning 15th January 1964 : Jacques Lacan : Availability & information here

– 3. Cf. Jean Hyppolite’s question p144-146 of John Forrester’s translation : Seminar I : 7th April 1954 : Availability and notes Seminar I: Freud’s papers on technique: 1953-1954 : begins on 13th January 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here

-4. The Unconscious and the Speaking Body : Paris : 17th April 2014 : Jacques-Alain Miller Information & availability here

– 5 Seminar XXII: R. S. I. : 1974-1975: from 19th November 1974 : Jacques Lacan : Information & availability here

– 6. Seminar XIV : 10th May 1967.
of Seminar XIV: The logic of phantasy: 1966-1967: begins 16th November 1966 : Jacques Lacan : Information and availabiity here

– 7. Seminar XXIII: The Sinthome or Joyce and the Sinthome: 1975-1976: beginning on November 18th 1975 : Jacques Lacan : Availability & notes given here

-[p180] 10. Seminar XXIII as above. P148 of 2005 French text.

Quote from Laurent : Here we can distinguish between the form of paternal failure at stake for Joyce and the foreclosure at work in the case of Lucia, Joyce’s daughter. Her split with Beckett provoked an actual triggering. Moreover, Lacan found a particular phenomenon, which could be grasped on the basis of his knot, the famous “body ready to slip away”.

17th February 1976 : pVII 6-7 refers to Joyce’s daughter

11th May 1976 : pXI 12 : What results from it? The Borromean knot has this aspect. Namely, as you will certainly not have imagined in taking things like that, naturally, imaginary. Namely, that as you see, the capital I here can simply clear off. It slips away exactly like, like what Joyce feels after having received his beating, it slips away. The imaginary relationship, well it has no place.

– [p181] 11. For availability and notes see Seminar XVII: Psychoanalysis upside down/The reverse side of psychoanalysis: 1969-1970 from 10th December 1969 : Jacques Lacan or here : page 94 of Russell Grigg’s translation : Seminar XVII, 18th February 1970 :

p VII 10 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, Quote: Only, the discourse of the Hysteric reveals the relation of the discourse of the Master to enjoyment, by the fact that in the discourse of the Hysteric knowledge goes to the place of enjoyment. The subject himself, the hysteric, is alienated from the master-signifier as being the one whom this signifier divides – the one (celui), in the masculine, represents the subject – the one who refuses to become its body. People talk about somatic compliance in hysterics. Even though the term is Freudian can we not see that it is very strange, and that what is at stake is rather a refusal of the body. Let us now give it the sexual gender in which this subject is most often incarnated. In her own way she is on a kind of strike. She does not surrender her knowledge.

– 12.  Availability and notes The Meaning (or Signification) of the Phallus (Munich): 9th May 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here : p583 of Bruce Fink’s translation :

p84 of Jacqueline Rose’s translation, quote: Paradoxical as this formulation might seem, I would say that it is in order to be the phallus, that is to say, the signifier of the desire of the Other, that the woman will reject an essential part of her femininity, notably all its attributes through masquerade. It is for what she is not that she expects to be desired as well as loved.

[p182] where Lacan says; “I am a perfect hysteric”

Remarks on Hysteria (Brussels): 26th February 1977: Jacques Lacan : Notes & availability here

: From Jack W. Stone’s translation : “…the perfect hysteric, that is, one without symptoms, aside from an occasional gender error.”

– 13. [Laurent p181-182] : If Lacan can say that God constantly intervenes in human affairs, the proof being that each time a woman intervenes in a man’s life, it is not on the basis of the universal. : Probably Yale University: 24th November 1975: Conversation with Students: Jacques Lacan : Notes & availability here : p32 of Scilicet n° 6/7, 1975 (French) :

From Jack W. Stone’s translations, this is the nearest quote :

A symptom is curable.

Religion is a symptom. Everyone is religious, even atheists. They believe sufficiently in God to believe that God is not there for nothing when they are sick.

Atheism is the sickness of the belief in God, the belief that God does not intervene in the world.

God intervenes all the time; for example, in the form of a woman.

The priests (curés) know that a woman and God are the same type of poison. They watch their step; they never stop slipping.

– [p182]14. “Linconscient, c’est la politique”, Éric Laurent, in Lacan Quotidien no518, June 2015
: See “The Unconscious is Politics”, today : LQ518 (Lacan Quotidien 518) : May 2015 : Éric Laurent or here for the English translation

-15. Intervention by Éric Laurent at PIPOL 7, Victime! 3rd European congress of psychoanalysis, Brussels, 4 and 5 July 2015, Jouissance et radicalisation par Éric Laurent, Lacan Quotidian, no528, 17th July 2015, Available in French

[p183]16. The Unconscious and the Speaking Body : Paris : 17th April 2014 : Jacques-Alain Miller : Notes & Availability here

[p184]18. The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan : Notes & availability here  : Quote p184, Laurent : Here what is at stake is the lack of memory, contrary to the start of his teaching when Lacan declared: “the unconscious is the chapter of my history that is marked by a blank or occupied by a lie: it is the censored chapter.” : p215 of Bruce Fink’s translation : p50 of Alan Sheridan’s translation.

[p185] 19. Religions and the Real (Paris) : 13th April 1975 : Jacques Lacan : Notes & availability here

– 20. Television: 1974: Jacques Lacan : Information and availability here :

p 15 of Denis Hollier, Rosalind Krauss, and Annette Michelson’s translation : quote: A saint’s business, to put it clearly, is not caritas. Rather, he acts as trash [déchet]; his business being trashitas [il décharite]. So as to embody what the structure entails, namely allowing the subject, the subject of the unconscious, to take him as the cause of the subject’s own desire.

In fact it is through the abjection of this cause that the subject in question has a chance to be aware of his position, at least within the structure.

-21. Laurent p185, “returning the subject to the question: “what is your desire, outside the system of goods [système de biens]” [TN: This expression carries multiple senses of the word ‘good’ that are difficult to get across in English- it is not only a question of material goods, but also the morally good, the good for you, etc. For example : Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan : Notes & availability here : Session of 11th May 1960 : pp. 218-230 of Dennis Porter’s translation.

-22. Seminar IX: Identification: 1961-1962: begins November 15th 1961: Jacques Lacan : Notes & availability here : It is suspected that this reference occurs in Seminar IX : 16th May 1962 : pXIII 126 – XIII 127 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation.

[P186] : Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan : Notes & availability here  : “do not give up on your desire” :

Seminar VII, 6th July 1960 : p314 of Dennis Porter’s translation : The phallus is nothing more than a signifier, the signifier of this flight. Life goes by, life triumphs, whatever happens. If the comic hero trips up and lands in the soup, the little fellow nevertheless survives.

The pathetic side of this dimension is, you see, exactly the opposite, the counterpart of tragedy. They are not incompatible, since tragi-comedy exists. That is where the experience of human action resides. And it is because we know better than those who went before how to recognize the nature of desire, which is at the heart of this experience, that a reconsideration of ethics is possible, that a form of ethical judgment is possible, of a kind that gives this question the force of a Last Judgment: Have you acted in conformity with the desire that is in you?

This is not an easy question to sustain. I, in fact, claim that it has never been posed with that purity elsewhere, and that it can only be posed in the analytical context.

-23. [p 187], Lacan says that Antigone was a martyr, and that the time of martyrs was a conflagration in the discourse of civilisation. It is a conflagration, an epidemic. : Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan : Notes & availability here :

p266-267 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Seminar VII : 8th June 1960 :

Creon arrives and makes a long speech justifying his actions. But in reality there is only a docile Chorus there to hear him, a collection of yes-men. There follows a dialogue between Creon and the Chorus. The Chorus itself hasn’t altogether given up the idea that there is something excessive in Creon’s statements, but at the very moment when it is about to express the thought, that is when the messenger arrives and narrates what has happened, it gets told off in no uncertain terms.

The character of the messenger in this tragedy is a formidable one. He turns up shuffling and mumbling, and he says, “You can’t imagine how much I have been thinking things over on my way here, and how many times I came close to taking off in a hurry. That’s how a short trip turns into a long one.” He’s an impressive talker. He even goes so far as to say, “I am sorry to see that you are of the opinion that it is your opinion that you believe in lies.”

In short, I am suspected of being suspicious. That style of δοκεî Ψευδň δοκεîν [Probably it is decreed : lying or a sham : it is decided by ] resonates with the discourse of the Sophists, since Creon answers him right away, “You are in the process of making points on the subject of the δòξα [Probably glory].”
In brief, throughout a whole ridiculous scene the messenger engages in idle speculations about what has happened, and in particular speculations about their safety, in the course of which the guards are in a state of panic, in which they nearly come to blows before they draw lots in order to decide which one of them will be chosen to go as messenger. After having got it all out, he is the object of a stream of threats from Creon, who is the person in power and who on this occasion is excessively limited; Creon lets him know that they can all expect the worst if the guilty person is not found in a hurry. “I’ve come out of this in quite good shape,” the messenger comments, “since I haven’t been strung up right away to the end of a branch. They won’t see me again in a hurry.”

This scene is a bit like the entrance of the clowns. But the messenger is quite subtle; he is very clever when he says to Creon, “What is offended just now? Is it your heart or your ears?” He makes Creon turn around in circles; Creon is forced to face the situation in spite of himself. The messenger then explains, “If it is your heart, then it is the one who did the deed that offends it; I only offend your ears.” We have already reached the height of cruelty but we’re having fun.

And what happens immediately afterwards? A hymn of praise to mankind. The Chorus sets out to praise mankind. I am constrained by the time, so I can’t go on, but I will take up this praise of mankind next time.

Then right after the extraordinary tall tale that is this hymn of praise to man, we see Antigone’s guard turn up without any concern for verisimilitude, temporal verisimilitude at least. The guard is delighted. He’s had a rare piece of luck; his responsibility in the case has been absolved once he has laid hands on the guilty party. Then the Chorus sings its song on mankind’s relation to Ate. I’ll come back to that, too, another time.

Next comes Hemon, who is Creon’s son and Antigone’s fiancé. He begins a dialogue with his father. The only confrontation between the father and son causes the dimension to appear that I began to discuss concerning the relations of man to his good; there is a moment of doubt, a hesitation. This point is extremely important if we want to be clear about Creon’s stature. We will see later what he is, that is, like all executioners and tyrants at bottom, a human character. Only the martyrs know neither pity nor fear. Believe me, the day when the martyrs are victorious will be the day of universal conflagration. The play is calculated to demonstrate that fact.


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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst,  London & Sandwich, Kent


Further texts

Of the clinic  here

Lacanian Transmission  here

Some Lacanian History  here

Topology  here

From LW working groups  here

By Éric Laurent  here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud  here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

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