[Reader-list] Excerpts from an Interview with Jacques Alain Miller

abir bazaz abirbazaz at rediffmail.com
Wed Oct 10 22:10:54 IST 2001

Lacanian Press Agency
Paris, Monday, September 24 2001, 15:00

What is your opinion ?

I don't know yet! I am slower. I am also handicapped by the fact that I don't watch TV, and lately I don't have the time to read the press. I know only what I am told, particularly by my patients. There I notice a positive therapeutic reaction, obviously short-lived: "What are my little miseries compared to Š ,etc." This effect was already noticed by Freud: at times of war or catastrophe, neurotics improve. Conversely, these same events are likely to cause delusions, even to trigger psychoses, but only in subjects affected by this clinical structure: "wanting to be crazy is not enough", used to say Lacan. As to perverts, the event is likely to satisfy sadism of the strictest observance. There is, if I may say so, blood, voluptuousness, and death (a title of Maurice Barres that Montherlant laughed at). But at the level of the drive, we are all sadists. The great statements about horror usually volunteered at times of catastrophe are a rite made to hide the unconscious, illicit, morally inadmissible, satisfaction that the event elicits in the subject. Furthermore, we are all survivors, so we are all happy.

You will be blamed for that sentence!

What is the need for psychoanalysts, as Heidegger and Jean-Francois Revel almost say, at these times of distress, if they say what everybody says so well? The unconscious, the fact that there is the unconscious, means that everybody lies. Psychoanalysts should do that a bit less. "We are happy", unconsciously, no doubt, means also, as Abel Fainstein pointed, that even thousands of kilometres away, we are all victims of the New York and Washington attacks. The media, by spreading them, spread terror. They make it fleetingly eternal in a suspended time, that of the phantasm. This what Lacan called "between-two-deaths": physical death has taken place, but before memory fades away and the event becomes reabsorbed in the immutable order of nature where nothing ever happened, in tha
al we extract from the event which we consciously condemn, its unconscious surplus jouissance.

September 11 made the Universal definitely present, effective, wirklich. The whole world (almost, because TV does not reach everywhere, the depths of Africa or my home, for example) spoke of the same thing at the same time. There it is, the Global Show Society, brilliantly anticipated in the sixties by Guy Debord following the thought of his teacher Henri Lefebvre, an original kind of marxist. This is the planetary Puppet Theatre, echoed by the compelling wailing of the tragic chorus : Horror ! Desolation ! Dismay ! Television, in particular, installs hypnosis in homes, as Eric Laurent notes.

After having summoned a crusade of good against evil which indicated an identification with the aggressor, the President of the grand nation mourning made a fortunate appearance at a mosque. Bravo! In the U.S. there is a powerful movement of enlightened opinion opposing obscure, war mongering sectors. Their obscene sadism often finds open expression : they discuss the vitrifaction of Afghanistan. This will remind members of my generation of General Curtis Le May vowing "to bomb Vietnam back to the Stone Age". We know the end of the story. We also know, from his Memories, the subjective drama of Robert Mc Namara, maddened by the body-count.

The ways of reason must be explored beyond hate, horror and dismay. The sons of Freud will not be intimidated by the good consciences of all observations proclaiming their abjectness. The nervous system of the masses, as Nietzsche put it, is today disintegrated by what he called "the collective delusion of those raving mad with death", whose atrocious call "Evviva la morte" he stigmatised, and in whom he saw the result of "training in penitence and redemption" (Genealogy of Morals, III, 21, p. 331 of the NRF edition, 1971). Public welfare, I weigh my words, requires today the revolt of intellectuals. I call "intellectuals" those who make an effort "to think by themselves" (Kant), and wil
 manipulated by opposing cliques of "ascetic priests" working hard to assemble the masses and lead them to carnage in order to satisfy by their sacrifice the jouissance of some obscure Moloch. Remember the Iran-Irak war. Basic "anti-death" Committees are needed.

And you, what will you do ?

At the beginning, little, because I am starting from nil. I am thinking of a monthly journal, which would be one of the organs of this necessary revolt I am talking about, the clarifier of the New Enlightenment. I shall proceed further on if this initiative should find an echo in the enlightened opinion to which I address myself in priority. I will mobilise my friends, and also those who are not. I count on the aid of the editorial house editing Lacan since 1966, Editions du Seuil. Lacan is not being edited so faithfully for such a long time without a feeling of emergency. American intellectuals are manifesting. We read in Le Monde Susan Sontag, the great Barthes scholar beyond the Atlantic. That is good. Long live America! 


More information about the reader-list mailing list