The Lacanian Review (TLR) offered us two fascinating interviews with internationally renowned researchers; the question of black holes was discussed[1]. Recently there was also an interview with a mathematician about singularities in mathematics[2]. I propose here to consider these two terms together: the singularity in black holes. We will see if there are any resonances with psychoanalysis.

Black holes and singularities

You can’t really imagine black holes, they are objects that you can’t get an idea of. We can certainly make similarities with elements of our world, but that only points to the unimaginable aspect of the thing. For example it is postulated by physics that there are black holes that are the size of a coin and the mass equivalent to that of the earth. There are also what are called super-massive black holes, like TON 618, more than 18 billion light years from the earth, with a mass 66 billion times that of the sun, its diameter can contain 11 solar systems side by side. These are unimaginable sizes, not very suitable to representation, but not to writing. Indeed it was with writing, long before we could observe them with our measuring instruments, that black holes were postulated from Einstein’s general theory of relativity in 1915.

It should also be noted that black holes cannot be seen directly, we can just infer their presence from the orbit of other objects, such as stars, around them, and more recently with the detection on earth of gravitational waves. If we look at the first image of a black hole in 2019 (which had to be modified by the false color technique to be visible to the naked eye), we just see what is around, the center being a dark surface that does not reflect anything.

Regarding the singularities, which are present as much in mathematics as in physics, we can consider them, following the interview in the last TLR[3], as discontinuities in continuity, an irregularity in regularity. A simple example in mathematics is dividing one by zero: writing it on my calculator, it appears “Math ERROR”, zero being the singularity of the function f(x)=1/x.

Black holes’ singularity

In the framework of general relativity it is postulated that at the “center” of a black hole there is a point where gravity is so intense that space-time collapses. It is difficult to describe this singularity because of the space-time collapse: we cannot really say where it is and when, it’s non-localizable, its density is infinite, it has zero volume and at the same time it contains all the mass of the black hole.

It is important to clarify that this singularity is a prediction from the theory of general relativity, it is not something that can be observed or measured. Let’s say that this is a pathological point in the theory, difficult to grasp, to conceive of, it remains undetermined and physicists are uncertain whether its prediction by the theory implies its actual existence. We can nevertheless advance that this singularity ex-ists to the imaginary (what there is inside the black hole remains inaccessible, as much at the level of the image as of the imaginary) and to the law of general relativity, i.e. to the symbolic: it is therefore a real that makes a hole in the imaginary and in the symbolic.

Finally, scientists predict that this singularity in the theory of general relativity could one day disappear if we manage to integrate it with that of quantum gravity, which would make a general theory without more discontinuities, singularities.

What resonance with psychoanalysis?

Marie-Hélène Brousse during the interview with Catherine Pépin, proposes to consider black holes as objects a[4]: in an analysis we never catch them directly, as for black holes we can only infer them from the effects in the speech and in the body that they produce in the subject. Nevertheless, as Anne Lysy reminds us, with the object a, we always remain in the domain of signifying logic: “(…) the object a, heterogeneous element certainly, but which is part of a signifying logic, which is logical consistency and which is therefore not at the same level as the sinthome ” [5].

If black holes, which remain within the framework of the theory, are correlative to objects a, could the singularity, this pathological discontinuity, not be located at the level of the sinthome, where the program, the software fails, where there can only be singular inventions?

In any case, our own theory, like our conversations, our working days of the School, must respect these singularities: feed them rather than resolve them, or even suture them into a general and unifying theory of signifying relativity and quantum enjoyment. Let us take the example of physics and not imitate it.

[1] Barsuglia, M., Brousse, M.-H., & Mabille, D. The Real and the Metaphoric in Physics, and Pépin, C., Brousse, M.-H., & De Georges, P. The Perfection of the Void, The Lacanian Review No. 7, pp. 14-50.

[2] Lions, P.-L. & Brousse, M.-H. Singularities, an Analytical Serial: First Episode, The Lacanian Review No. 11, pp. 51-60

[3] Cf. Ibid.

[4] Pépin, C., Brousse, M.-H., & De Georges, P. The Perfection of the Void, The Lacanian Review No. 7, pp. 45-46.

[5] Lysy, A. What Becomes of Jouissance at the End of Analysis: The Pass of the Fantasy / The Pass of the Sinthome, The Lacanian Review No. 11, p. 241.