The Ends of Analysis

“The symbolically real isn’t the really symbolic. The really symbolic is the symbolic included in the real, which very well has a name – it’s called lying. The symbolically real, being that part of the real that’s implied in the interior of the symbolic, is anxiety. The symptom is real. It’s even the only truly real thing, that is, the only thing that holds onto a meaning in the real. That’s why psychoanalysis can, if given the chance, intervene symbolically to dissolve it in the real.” (Lacan)

The symbolic in the real or symbolically real is the symptom. But the symptom is that which is defined by the Other. Whereas Lacan says that anxiety is the only real emotion or only true symptom. I would add that depression is but the mirror of anxiety and the pair anxiety-depression reflect the true confrontation with the real (which Melanie Klein made the reality of the initial ground of the subject in her schizoid and depressive phases.) When not symbolized in the mirror of the Other this encounter leads no longer to the symptom but to subjective destitution. Where anxiety – or the schizoid – is the confrontation with the infinite multiple – the oceanic fusion of too-much – depression is the ultimate castration, aphanisis, or fading of the subject before the empty void of too-little which underlies the real, and which Lacan called subjective destitution. This is one end of analysis.

But there is another end of analysis. The real in the symbolic or really symbolic as Lacan calls it is “lying.” This is what is meant by the statement that analysis is not a falsifiable or verificationist science. It does not intend to prove anything. Rather it shows that what is false can nevertheless be said, acted, and lived. To consciously lie already leads us to this fact, but the liar still believes in the truth of the Other as the pervert believes in the law. Analysis leads us to will this fact – to poetics and mathematics which consciously take up this practice of writing the impossible – that which does not stop not writing itself – the real. What Lacan calls the sinthome is none other than the symptom purified from being defined by the field of the Other and rather becoming the invention of the really symbolic. This shift in Lacan’s thinking is illustrated in the subtle change in his late seminars from his famous statement that a signifier represents the subject for (pour) another signifier – which connotes the subject of meaning and the Other – to the statement that a signifier represents the subject “in contrast to” (aupres de) another signifier – which connotes the immanent meaninglessness of the sovereign subject of pure difference of one sign from another.

The idea of the sinthome or sovereign subject was already suggested by Nietzsche and taken up by Klossowski in his concept of the simulacrum – that which does not stop willing itself as the invention of the new (meaning) from the insistence of the real impulse or drive. The key is not to let these simulacra become mistaken for the Truth – not to allow the Other to efface the creative subject. For Klossowski the artist of simulacra did not make this mistake. What Baudrillard calls symbolic exchange or poetic reversibility – a process akin to Joyce’s poetic practice – liquidates the signified and signifier alike – it sacrifices the referent by carving up the sign.

“Normal lying is different from performative creation both because for it to remain undetected, it merely has to maintain consistency, and because it maintains the belief in a preexistent referent; while for performative creation the test of success is not the absence of logical contradictions between the different versions – these contradictions can certainly be accommodated more or less easily by the one who keeps performatively creating himself – but the ability not to believe in and get sucked by the referent it secretes….To be the artist of one’s life is a matter of being connected by some means with the diagram and managing not to succumb to the temptation to consider what it reveals as belonging to a world. (Jalal Toufic)

The artist’s stroke of paint on the canvas, the poet’s line of ink on the page, the dancer’s gesture, and the mathematician’s arrows and letters are all diagrams of the simulacra of poeticscience in which the sovereign subject of nothingness performatively creates worlds which disappear without a sign.