What real is at stake in psychoanalysis today?
This is the question that is orienting the work that the Lacanian Compass (which I am a member of) is working on now. The work will culminate in the Clinical Study Days 14, but before that event, there are many different presentations by analysts from all over the world that attempt to say something in response to the question: What real is at stake in psychoanalysis today?
The reading notes below come from a presentation by Gerado Aranas, titled All My Reals. (I was present when Aranas read this text, and I was thrilled when the Lacanian Compass published it as a text in their journal Lacanian Compass Express!)
Why this (what is the real at stake in psychoanalysis today?) is even a question:
To start with, the text makes it clear that when Lacan spoke about the real he was not always talking about the same thing. Therefore, when Lacan says "the real" the reader should not assume they know what Lacan is referring to. Aranas says,
Lacan said The real is x, giving x so many values that the entire list would bore you. Did he change his conception of the real, or was he speaking of different things? [...] [I]s there any common genus between the real in Seminar II and the real in Seminar XXIII, or between the real in mathematics and the real of trauma?
The text goes on to claim,
Analysis would not be a way of accessing the real (which would not exist), but reals [plural].
Next, the text proposes a very interesting way of representing all of the different reals that we could potentially be referring to when we use the signifier "the real." In his representation, a 3x4 grid is created. I've tried to represent Aranas's thoughts in the summary and diagram below.
3 Modes of being:
- The universal, since it belongs to more-than-one (even if it does not hold for all). – The universal holds for more-than-one (2, 3, 4, etcetera).
- The singular, which belongs to just-one – which holds for just-one.
- The empty, belonging to no-one, whose function is that of the one-to-boot (un-en-plus), that holds for no-one (a 0 that counts as 1 more).
Now imagine each extension (universal, singular, empty) as a thread, as three parallel threads, while each modality (possible, necessary, impossible, contingent) is represented by another thread, four modalities as four parallel threads that may cross over the threads of extension. If you tie an imaginary knot at each crossing, as if you were making a fishing net, how many knots would you have? It should result in a network composed of twelve knots in total (three extensions crossed by four modalities: 3 · 4 = 12 knots). These are all my reals. And the network they constitute provides, if it is correctly used, the lines of force which could guide us like a compass for the real.
4 Modes of truth:
- A possible truth
- A necessary truth
- An impossible truth
- A contingent truth
After laying out the above matrix Aranas makes the claim that the psychoanalytic experience is concerned with two reals. The first is at the intersection of impossible truth and the universal mode of being, and the second being the intersection of a contingent truth and a singular mode of being. .
[T]he analyst’s desire, which [comes into the psychoanalytic experience] through the signifier directs the treatment so that the subject can reach their singularity. [...] this action leads the subject from the impossible to the contingent. [...] psychoanalytic experience puts at least two reals into play: one is impossible and universal, while the other is contingent and singular.
- The first [impossible-universal-real] characterizes both the barred subject ($) and the sexual non-relation.
- The second [contingent-singular-real] corresponds to the core of our being, but also to the sinthome.
So, what I think Aranas is suggesting is that an experience of psychoanalysis moves an analysand (i.e., patient) from an understanding of (1) their own way of experiencing their castration, (2) that there is no non-castrated Other, no Other of the Other, and (3) that a harmonious relationship with jouissance (i.e., what satisfies us) only exists as a fantasy, to an experience of the core of their symptom, their sinthome, which they will never be cured of, but can learn to live with.
Or, to put it slightly differently:
- The first part of the psychoanalytic experience is aimed at getting over the fantasy of achieving the impossible exemption to the universal that obscures the universal traumatic real. I think this could be along the lines of deciphering the repressed real-true-desire of the subject.
- The second part of the psychoanalytic experience is about an encounter with one's own real singular and contingent relationship to jouissance (i.e., what satisfies/frustrates them). This is what makes Lacanian psychoanalysis different from other forms of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, it aims to reduce things to this singular sinthome that can't be escaped, but can be lived with.