Prelude 15, Beatriz Zuluaga

Ethics of desire

In the dream it was evident that the girl had been many years in front of that infinite window trying to finish the bunch, and that she was in no rush because she knew that death was in the last grape
 Of love and other demons
Gabriel García Márquez


Continuing this sequence of Preludes that precedes our Meeting in July, it is a fact that in reflecting on the theme that will bring us together for the VIII Meeting of the SPFLF, several paths have been opened up, different ruptures in the horizon of desire that are articulated to that “undecidable” which constitutes the very core of psychoanalysis: the analytic act, the end of analysis, jouissance, love, the relation between the sexes, and of course the object cause, just to name a few. The Preludes, like Saint John’s finger, point to a beyond, invite us to push “against”, to avoid the “doxa”, betting on that which seems of no interest to humanity. Regarding this, Freud tries, from his Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1915-17), Part II, “Wish-fulfilment”, about the dream, to transmit to his listeners the novelty of his discovery. But if the nightmare and the anxiety dream exist, where is the wish fulfillment Dr. Freud? Lay critics, Freud tells us, are keen to show him that displeasure is constantly knotted to oneiric activities, rather than the pleasure obtained from a desire denied in wakefulness. But behind the manifest content there is distortion and censorship; this is the novelty, Freud insists. Yet, what Freud showed the world, the novelty of his discovery that pointed to unsatisfied or impossible desire, heir of a mythical and unforgettable satisfaction, is of no interest to humanity. “Human beings, as you know, have an instinctive tendency to defend themselves from intellectual novelty.[1] There is no interest in the new, and even less is there a desire to know about what the real entails, Lacan will say later.

But in spite of this, the “paradoxes of desire have already reached a first elaboration in this sequence of Preludes; they foretell of a desire to say, or rather to half-say something about that real, product of our experience of knowledge. The real stalks our formation; not to take it into account could loosen the ties that allow this experience to be “distinguished from therapeutics, which is not only a distortion of psychoanalysis through relaxing its rigor.[2]

Lacan always warned us, “Knowledge is not made for humanity, for [humanity] does not desire it”.[3] Hence it is expected of the psychoanalyst to subtract himself, to know how to be that remainder of humanity. Concluding then: our true paradox is that of sustaining a desire which is neither articulable, nor nameable, for it only emerges in the paradoxes of the analytic act itself, in that space where we will gather together to make the bond of the School. Let us then hope for “satisfaction at the end” in the possible elaborations that will follow these Preludes, satisfaction that Lacan knots to the end of the experience for this “is no more than to have encountered that limit in which the problematic of desire is raised”.[4] This problematic is linked to our human condition, to a fundamental relation with death, for it confronts us with a tragic freedom, that of Oedipus, the one of having to face the consequences of having “known [sabido] about desire”.

The RV awaits us in Paris. We still have time to develop, to a-pproach, the theme that calls us. A RV that makes a new paradox, for in The Ethics of Psychoanalysis Lacan raises the question:what happens each time that the bell of desire rings for us? Well one does not approach it and for the best reasons”. Let us then go “against”, let us get closer to it, for we count on the desire that up to now has brought us together, despite the paradox implied in sustaining and speaking about the “undecidable”.

Translation by Gabriela Zorzutti


[1] Sigmund Freud, “Wish-Fulfilment”, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Lecture XIV, SE XV: 214.

[2] Jacques Lacan, “Proposition of 9 October 1967 on the Psychoanalyst of the School”, trans. R. Grigg, Analysis 6, 1995, 1-13.

[3] Jacques Lacan, “Note italienne”, Autres Écrits, Paris, Seuil, 2001, 308.

[4] Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-60, trans. D. Potter, London, Routledge, 1992, 300.