Subjective Urgency and Object Little a : 15th February 2019 : Frank Rollier

by Julia Evans on February 15, 2019

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Subjective Urgency and Object Little a by Frank Rollier


Lacan, J., “Logical Time and the Assertion of Anticipated Certainty,” Écrits, Norton, New York/London, 2006, p. 168.
Lacan, J., The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII, Norton, New York/London, 1992, p 46.
Lacan, J., “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis,” Écritsopcit., p. 201.
Lacan, J., The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XVII, Norton, New York/London, 2007, p. 19.
Lacan, J., “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis,” Écritsopcit.

References to Jacques Lacan

Footnote 1: In his paper on “Logical Time,” Lacan talks about “the urgency of the moment of concluding.”

Notes & references : Logical Time and the Assertion of Anticipated Certainty: A New Sophism : March 1945 : Jacques Lacan or here

P12 of Bruce Fink & Marc Silver’s translation, published Letter of the Freudian Field :….with the second phase of the logical movement, the way is opened which leads to the following evidence :

III) I hasten to declare myself white, so that these whites, whom I consider in this way, do not precede me in recognizing themselves for what they are.

We have here the assertion about oneself through which the subject concludes the logical movement in the making of a judgement. The very return of the movement of comprehending, before [sous] which the temporal instance that objectively sustains it has vacillated, continues on in the subject in reflection. This instance reemerges for him therein in the subjective mode of a time of lagging behind the others [un temps de retard sur les autres] in that very movement, logically presenting itself as the urgency of the moment of concluding. More strictly speaking, its evidence is revealed in a subjective penumbra as the growing illumination of a fringe at the edge of the eclipse that the objectivity of the time for comprehending undergoes in reflection.

Footnote 4 :this is what Lacan highlights when he translates Freud’s words, die Not des Lebens by “life’s urgency.”

Related text:

Not des Lebens by Bernard Seynhaeve on 29th January 2019.  See

Seminar VII : 16th December 1959 : Notes & References – Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: begins 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here

p46 of Denis Porter’s translation : I have digressed too much, since today I only want to restrict myself to the remark that Freud speaks of Sachvorstellung and not Dingvorstellung. More- over, it is no accident if the Sachvorstellungenare linked to Wortvorstellungen,since it tells us that there is a relationship between thing and word. The straw of words only appears to us as straw insofar as we have separated it from the grain of things, and it was first the straw which bore that grain.

I don’t want to begin developing a theory of knowledge here, but it is obvious that the things of the human world are things in a universe structured by words, that language, symbolic processes, dominate and govern all. When we seek to explore the frontier between the animal and the human world, it is apparent to what extent the symbolic process as such doesn’t function in the animal world – a phenomenon that can only be a matter of astonishment for us. A difference in the intelligence, the flexibility, and the complexity of the apparatuses involved cannot be the only means of explaining that absence. That man is caught up in symbolic processes of a kind to which no animal has access cannot be resolved in psychological terms, since it implies that we first have a complete and precise knowledge of what this symbolic process means.

The Sache is clearly the thing, a product of industry and of human action as governed by language. However implicit they may first be in the genesis of that action, things are always on the surface, always within range of an explanation. To the extent that it is subjacent to and implicit in every human action, that activity of which things are the fruit belongs to the preconscious order, that is to say, something that our interest can bring to consciousness, on condition that we pay enough attention to it, that we take notice of it. The word is there in a reciprocal position to the extent that it articulates itself, that it comes to explain itself beside the thing, to the extent also that an action – which is itself dominated by language, indeed by command – will have separated out this object and given it birth.

Sache and Wort are, therefore, closely linked; they form a couple. Das Ding is found somewhere else.

I would like today to show you this Ding in life and in the reality principle that Freud introduces at the beginning of his thought and that persists to the end. I will point out the reference to it in a given passage of the Entwurfon the reality principle and in the article entitled “Die Verneinung” or “Dénégation” in which it is an essential point.

This Ding is not in the relationship – which is to some extent a calculated one insofar as it is explicable – that causes man to question his words as referring to things which they have moreover created. There is something different in das Ding.

What one finds in das Ding is the true secret. For the reality principle has a secret that, as Lefèvre-Pontalis pointed out last time, is paradoxical. If Freud speaks of the reality principle, it is in order to reveal to us that from a certain point of view it is always defeated; it only manages to affirm itself at the margin. And this is so by reason of a kind of pressure that one might say, if things didn’t, in fact, go much further, Freud calls not “the vital needs” – as is often said in order to emphasize the secondary process – but die Not des Lebens in the German text. An infinitely stronger phrase. Something that wishes. “Need” and not “needs.” Pressure, urgency. The state of Not is the state of emergency in life.

This Not des Lebens intervenes at the level of the secondary process, but in a deeper way than through that corrective activity; it intervenes so as to deter- mine the QTJ level – the quantity of energy conserved by the organism in proportion to the response – which is necessary for the conservation of life. Take note that it is at the level of secondary process that the level of this necessary determination is exercised.

Let us return to the reality principle that is thus invoked from the point of view of its necessity effect. This remark puts us on the track of what I call its secret, namely, the following: As soon as we try to articulate the reality principle so as to make it depend on the physical world to which Freud’s purpose seems to require us to relate it, it is clear that it functions, in fact, to isolate the subject from reality.

We find in it nothing more than that which biology, in effect, teaches us, namely, that the structure of a living being is dominated by a process of homeostasis, of isolation from reality. Is that all Freud has to tell us when he speaks of the functioning of the reality principle? Apparently, yes. And he shows us that neither the quantitative element nor the qualitative element in reality enters the realm – the term he uses is Räch – of the secondary process.

Exterior quantity enters into contact with the apparatus called the <psys- tem, that is to say, that part of the whole neuronic apparatus which is directly turned to the exterior or, roughly speaking, the nerve ends at the level of the skin, the tendons, and even the muscles and the bones, deep sensitivity. Everything is done so that Q quantity is definitely blocked, stopped in relation to that which is supported by another quantity, the Qrj quantity – the latter determines the level that distinguishes the ^ apparatus within the neuronic whole. For the Entwurf is, in fact, the theory of a neuronic apparatus in relation to which the organism remains exterior, just as much as the outside world.

Footnote 5: He also points out that “nothing created appears without urgency.”5 “Life’s urgency” first brings colour to subjective urgency, then to the treatment itself.

Notes & References : The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan  or here

P34 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : However, in referring to the circumstance surrounding this speech, I am not trying to blame its all too obvious inadequacies on the haste with which it was composed, since its meaning, as well as its form, derives from that same haste.

Moreover,  I have shown, in an exemplary sophism of intersubjective time, the function of haste in logical precipitation, where truth finds its unsupersedable condition.

Nothing is created without a sense of urgency; urgency always produces its supersession in speech.

But nor is there anything that does not become contingent when the moment for it comes to man, when he can identify in a single reason the course he chooses and the disorder he denounces, in order to understand its coherence in the real and anticipate by his certainty the action that weighs them against one another.

Footnote 6 : However, this status of object little also indicates a loss.6

P19 of Russell Grigg’s translation : Seminar XVII :  26thNovember 1969

Publication details, notes and references :  Seminar XVII: Psychoanalysis upside down/The reverse side of psychoanalysis: 1969-1970 : from 26th November 1969: Jacques Lacan or here

pI 9-11 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Freud goes that far . But what constitutes, he says, the subsistence of this bubble – really this image is required when you read these pages – is the fact that life only returns there along paths that are always the same, and which it has once traced out. What is it, if not the true sense of what we find in the notion of instinct in terms of the involvement of knowledge. This track, this pathway, is known to us, it is ancestral knowledge. And what is this knowledge, if we do not forget that Freud introduces what he himself calls beyond the pleasure principle, which is not for all that overthrown. The proof is that knowledge is what causes life to stop at a certain limit on the way to enjoyment. For the path towards death – this is what is in question is a discourse on masochism – the path towards death is nothing other than what is called enjoyment. There is a primitive relationship between knowledge and enjoyment, and it is here that there is inserted what emerges when the apparatus of the signifier appears. From now on it is conceivable that we are linking up with the function of this emergence of the signifier.

This is enough, you will say, what need do we have to explain everything? And the origin of language, why not? Everyone knows that in order to structure a knowledge correctly you have to abandon the question of origins and that what we are doing in articulating this is superfluous with respect to what we have to develop this year, which is situated at the level of structures. It is useless search for meaning. But as I have already said, let us take note of what we are.

I will go on then. It is at the joint of an enjoyment – and just any one, it must undoubtedly remain opaque – it is at the joint of one enjoyment privileged above all others, not because it is sexual enjoyment, since what this enjoyment designates as being at the joint is, as I have just said, the loss of sexual enjoyment, it is castration, it is in relation to this joint with sexual enjoyment that there emerges, in the Freudian fable of repetition, the engendering of something radical that gives body to a literally articulated schemas. And this is what S1,having emerged, first moment, repeats itself for S2.  From this entering into a relationship the subject emerges, the subject which something represents, a certain loss, and it is worthwhile to have made this effort towards meaning in order to understand its ambiguity. Because it is not for nothing that last year I called this same object, that I had designated [pI 11] moreover as the one around which the entire dialectic of frustration organises itself in analysis, surplus enjoying (plus-de-jouir). This means that the loss of the object is also the gap, the hole, opened up to something which one does not know whether it is the representation of the lack in enjoying, which situates itself with respect to the progress of knowledge, in so far as it takes on these a completely different accent through being henceforth knowledge punctuated by the signifier. Is it even the same?

Footnote 7: In a state of urgency, the subject separates himself from the anxiety and perplexity caused by a traumatic break in the signifying chain. Subjective urgency has the character of an act, which is an opening towards the Other: “nothing in urgency fails to surpass itself in speech.”

Notes & References : The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan  or here

See note in Footnote 5 : There is a difference of translation between Bruce Fink’s translation, which is given in this footnote, & Alan Sheridan’s translation – Footnote 5. Though more awkward, I prefer the Alan Sheridan translation : Nothing is created without a sense of urgency; urgency always produces its supersession in speech.

Internet dictionary definition :  supersession – act of replacing one person or thing by another especially one held to be superior.

December 2018 : To request a copy of any text whose weblink does not work, contact Julia Evans:  : For fuller details, see Notice : Availability of texts from LacanianWorks by Julia Evans on 7th December 2018 or here

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in Earl’s Court, London

Further posts:

Lacanian Transmission here

Some Lacanian history here

Of the clinic here

Topology here

By Frank Rollier  here

By Bernard Seynhaeve here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Jacques Lacan in English or here

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here