CONTINGENCIES OF BEGINNINGS
Members Meeting Argument 2023
Here we are at the beginning of 2023, considering the contingencies of beginnings. The contingencies that could take someone to begin an analysis but also the contingencies that could take someone to that thing we call the “School.” But… How do we begin? From where?
At least right now, we will start with a story. An old story, from the first century, about a Rabbi named Akiva, born approximately 50 CE in the Roman-occupied city of Jerusalem. This was a time and place that was violent and dangerous. The Jewish population saw the Romans as occupiers and oppressors, and there had been many attempts to liberate themselves from the oppressive occupation through armed resistance. Many of the leaders of the uprisings had been rabbis, and the organization of the uprisings had taken place when people gathered together under the cover of collective religious ceremonies. The Romans responded to this by outlawing rabbis and large gatherings. The thought was if people didn’t get together, they couldn’t organize any more uprisings. In addition to this, the Romans instituted a strict curfew. No one could be out after dark.
It was under these conditions that Akiva got up, left his home, and went to the Temple Mount, where he studied the Torah. Akiva got really into what he was doing, and he lost track of time. Eventually, it got dark, meaning Akiva was now in violation of the curfew. Akiva decided to take a risk and tried to get home in the dark.
As he walked, Akiva’s thoughts kept returning to what he had been reading before it got too dark to read. He got lost in his thoughts, took a wrong turn, and walked right up to a group of Roman centurions who were guarding the road.
A young centurion saw Akiva and yelled, “Hey! Who are you? Where are you going?”
This was not a good situation for Akiva! Things could go bad very quickly if he said the wrong thing.
“I’m sorry,” Akiva said. “I was thinking about something, and I’m afraid I did not hear you. What did you say?”
The centurion was not expecting this reply. “Who are you? And where are you going?” He yells.
Akiva thought about this for a moment. Then he asked, “How much are they paying you to do this?”
Again, not what the centurion was expecting. Taken back a bit, he says, “Uhm. They pay me thirty denarii to guard the road.”
“Thirty denarii,” said Akira. “You know, that’s not bad. But let me offer you this. I’ll double that if you can come and find me every day and surprise me with those questions.”
Having in mind that our gathering is caused by the desire to open up space for the Lacanian Orientation in the US: Can we let these questions resonate for us, and can we let them put us to work?
Who are you? Who are we?
Where are you going? Where are we going?
Considering the time and place we are at, right here, right now, what is the position we should take up relative to the community that we form when we get together to elaborate on these issues? What do we aim at? How the transferences among us are also working or not? What contingency brought us here, understanding the “us” as one by one, since the core of the School remains empty.
What is the ethics that guide this journey ? What do we aim at? What are we trying to transmit?
There are many ‘preliminary’ questions to be addressed as the contingency that accompanies beginning of analysis, or the beginning of a school, or a person entering a school requires a particular position… How do we kindle this position? Could one say that the story of Akiva offers us something about what is at stake regarding the analytic position? Not just in the privacy of the office but as well as another element of the set that might create a School?
Let’s assume that the analysand who makes the demand of an analysis is like the Roman centurion, without the spear, but with a demand for knowledge. “Give me the knowledge I lack!” A demand that is often addressed to the School as well.
If the analyst were to take up the same sort of position that Akiva did, they would not take up the position of the master, the professor, or the hysteric. Rather they would take up the position of the other side of the master’s discourse; the position of the analyst, that responds to the demand not by providing knowledge but by returning the questions (a lack of knowledge) to the subject.
How to get the Roman centurion over the threshold of the analytic discourse? In 1975 addressing the Yale students Lacan states that there is a wager, an element of chance in getting someone through the door, and over the threshold of analysis. There has to be something that ‘pushes’ them, and it can’t be to know oneself better; ‘when someone asks that of me, I turn them away.’
Lacan tries to ensure that there is a real demand, one that forces them to make an effort. But it is implicit from his statement that the analytic position is at stake in this wager of bringing the subject over the threshold. The position and the act of the analyst is at play. How do we get someone over the threshold of analysis in the cultural context in which we are working in the US?
In Psychoanalysis Has a Structure of Fiction Jacques Alain Miller invites us to think about the different positions that are required of the analyst depending on the modality of analysis.
“An analysis that starts and an analysis that lasts, they are not at all the same. An analysis that starts, an analysis that lasts and an analysis that finishes —or let us say that stops […] these are three modalities of analysis that do not at all present themselves the same way. They require from the analyst a position and a way of handling them that are distinct (p. 129).”
We can add: How do we position ourselves during the preliminary sessions so analysis becomes possible and is not precluded?
To seriously elaborate these questions about the analytic experience and the school is what Lacanian psychoanalysis does —meeting the subjectivity of our time and place. By doing this we aim to keep alive the Lacanian Orientation. Killing them with dogma would mean that we are killing the desire for psychoanalysis and the possibility of its ex-sistence.
This year, we will be dividing our presentations into two sections. The first group of presentations will focus on questions with respect to the beginning of the psychoanalytic experience as such, in which we invite our members to present their points of view from their analytic perspective (not a personal testimony, rather an elaboration about it), to prepare and present vignettes and use texts just as references as opposed to using clinical vignettes to demonstrate an understanding of the text. The second section will focus on the School and its implications. Again, we invite members to present their questions about the difficulties and effects of participating in the School, especially in the US.
From the topics displayed below you will also find a set of questions intended to give an orientation to our elaborations regarding these issues, feel free to add or propose any question that you may have, taking into account that this presentation is not an invitation to make personal testimony but to elaborate about the contingencies that have brought us to this point regarding the Lacanian orientation as such. We are also proposing a Recommended Bibliography, but again this is just a “recommendation” you could use any reference that orients your presentation.
CONTINGENCIES OF BEGINNINGS
2 REF. PER THEME (TO MEMBERS FOR THEM TO PREPARE)
5′ PER PRESENTATION (OFFER YOUR QUESTIONS NOT YOUR ANSWERS)
I.PART: MAJOR FOCUS ON CLINICAL VIGNETTES
03/29 PRELIMINARIES INTERVIEWS & BEGINNING ANALYSIS — (Maurine, Ellyn, Ellie, Leticia, Alicia A.)
When we speak about ‘entering analysis’ or ‘entering the school’ we have to differentiate it from the ‘beginning’ that we speak about in ‘preliminary sessions.’ Lacan states that the preliminary sessions are the sine qua non of analysis – without them there is no entering in analysis possible. What is distinctive about these sessions? How do we operate on the demand? What about the analytic act?
What changes when someone goes from the preliminary interviews (i.e., the “waiting room”) to begin an analysis?
Is there a difference regarding the position of the analyst in the preliminary sessions or the beginning of analysis?
04/26 PURE & APPLIED PSYCHOANALYSIS — (Juan-Felipe, Cristina G., Cristina L., Alicia F.)
In Psychoanalysis applied (children, psychoses, autism, institutions, addictions, etc.) can we talk about the same movement; from the preliminary interviews to beginning analysis?
Why when working with children we say that is a “psychoanalysis applied with children”?
In what sense “psychoanalysis is applied” to treat psychosis and autism?
Is there a change in the orientation depending if there is a pure psychoanalysis or applied? Or the orientation remains the same?
05/31 – Hystory → from Truth to Real — (Cyrus, Renata)
“The unconscious is the chapter of my history that is marked by a blank or occupied by a lie: it is the censored chapter. But the truth can be refound; most often it has already been written elsewhere.” (Lacan, The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis, p. 215).
1- What changes when someone passes from an analysis that starts to an analysis that lasts?
2- In what sense has the relationship with “own history” changed nowadays?
II. PART: MAJOR FOCUS ON OUR INSTITUTION
06/28 FROM THE COUCH TO… THE SCHOOL? — (Jeff, Sergio, Neil )
What does it mean to belong to a Lacanian School? How the School relates to other entities within the Lacanian Orientation (WAP, Freudian Field, etc.).
Difficulties that we might find in the US due to the structure of our institution.
From transference to work transference… What implications does this movement have? (Having in mind the contemporary resistance towards “figures of authorities”).
08/30 INTENTION & EXTENSION — (Neil, Jared)
What would be the difference (if any) between Intention and Extention?
How open should the School be to make the extension work possible?
What could be said about Extension related to other psychoanalytic groups or orientations in the US?
09/27 REJECTION OF THE UCC — (Lorena, Anna D.F.)
Lack of curiosity about the unconscious and its relation with the School in the US.
How does the bond with the School put the unconscious to work within the Lacanian Compass?
10/25 DISCOURSES — (Robert, Jose Armando, Nancy)
From which discourse are we relating to the School?
Having in mind the discourses proposed by Lacan (including the non-discurse, the capitalistic one), one could say that nowadays there are new social bonds?
Internet, virtuality and the fall of the NoF has produced new injunctions (i.e.: NoF: “Be good”) while now we are more confronted with another imperative (“Be Happy”)… what would be the implications of these movements to our institution?
11/22 DIFFERENCE SCHOOL // ASSOCIATION // CLUB // RELIGION — (Isolda, JFA, Tom)
What differentiate the School from an association, a club or a religious group?
In what sense we are not a “training institute”?
What is the nature of the ties among us?
12/13 LAST MEETING: MM Committee — (Isolda, An, Mercedes, Neil)
Non- closing remarks… WHERE ARE WE AT?
– Freud, S., On beginning the treatment (1913)
– Freud, S., The dynamics of transference (1912)
– Freud, S., Recommendations to physicians… (1912)
– Freud, S., Observations on transference (1915)
– Lacan, J., Presentation on transference, Ecrits
– Lacan, J., Variations on standard treatment
– Lacan, J., Direction of the treatment…
– Lacan, J., Geneva Lecture on the Symptom
– Miller, J.-A., CUT (Clinic Under Transference)
– Miller, J.-A., Contraindications to psychoanalytic treatment
– Miller, J.-A., Pure Psychoanalysis, Applied Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (2001)
– Miller, J.-A., The Seminar of Barcelona. On Symptom Formation (1996)
– Laurent, E., Guiding Principles for Any Psychoanalytic Act (2004)