How are we to understand Lacanian action today? When does a practice oriented analytically become Lacanian action? In the first place, we should situate the contrast between the term “action” and the term “act”, two terms that Lacan distinguished very well in the clinic. This distinction is at the root of the term “Lacanian action,” coined by Jacques-Alain Miller more than a decade ago in his course from 2003 on “An Effort of Poetry”[1].

We find there the logical and ethical necessity of situating the place of the analyst in the society of our times in a position of exteriority, of “extimacy” even, in relation to the master signifiers of the era, whether they are those that orient the control of the social bond, those that govern group identifications or those that order distributive justice. On the one hand, in his practice, the psychoanalyst is necessarily subtracted as subject from the habitual social bond. This is on account of the very nature of the analytic discourse, which always puts in question the master signifier in position of agent. In the analytical act proper to his practice, the analyst does not occupy the place of subject, but rather that of object, of “the semblant of the object” as we tend to say. In reality, as Lacan indicates, there is properly no subject agent of the act, the subject is always an a posteriori effect of the act that modifies it. The true agent of the act is the object cause of desire that divides the subject, the analysand, the only subject that properly has a place in the analytic bond.

But it is then absolutely necessary to situate the ethical consequences of this position in the discourse and in the social environment with the question in which Jacques-Alain Miller underlined the meaning of the term: “The question arises of knowing what can take place, on the side of the psychoanalytic act, as psychoanalytic action or even, I dare say, as Lacanian action, which gives this psychoanalytic act the consequences it can have in society.”

The term action, which Lacan distinguished in the first place from any idea of motor activity, comes here to be placed on the other side of the balance of the analytic act. Lacanian action is the consequence of the analytic act in the register of the social bond, it is the necessary consequence of the position that the analyst holds in the analytic act, a position that we could almost define as a-social, highlighting the a of the object. If in the analytic act, in the privacy of the bond of the transference, the analyst holds the place of object a, then in social action he undoubtedly holds the place of the subject, I would even say the place of the analysand, of the most experienced analysand possible. The AS, the Analyst of the School, must in social action be an Experienced Analyzand[2], so to speak, knowing how to extract in each case the ultimate consequences of what has been his own analytic experience in which he has occupied the place of the analytical subject.

Lacanian action must thus draw the practical consequences, in each conjuncture and social problematic, of what the psychoanalytic act puts into play in analytic practice. It is not therefore an action directed by an ethic of intentions, more or less good, more or less founded on the ideal of social welfare, but rather an ethic of consequences, not always easy or pleasant to extract, of the function that the object cause of desire has for each subject.

Translated by Roger Litten

Excerpt translated from the original article, published in Spanish here:

[1]Miller, J.-A., Cours, Orientation lacanienne III, 2002-2003, Un effort de poésie.

[2]TN. Play in Spanish on relation between AE (Analista de la Escuela) and AE (Analizante Experimentado).