In the field of analysis and in the field of love one is dealing with something lebendig. This German word is ambiguous. On the one hand, it refers to a living organism in contrast to death. On the other hand, lebendig also describes something that is different from a life in the sense of merely vegetating. This lebendig is connected to a kind of movement, to a difference. Lacan says in Seminar XX[1], “the fact that one says remains forgotten behind what is said in what is heard.” The movement, and therefore something of lebendig, is in this “that one says.”

Lebendig is not a psychoanalytic term, and yet it can help us capture something of what is at stake in analysis.

Lacan writes in Seminar VII[2] that the analyst pays with the fact that something in what he does remains enigmatic to him. He does not take responsibility for a reservoir of knowledge, no, the exact opposite!  Responsibility is taken precisely where he does not know, for the enigmatic. This enigmatic rest, is this where the lebendig can be situated?

Freud writes in Analysis Terminable and Interminable[3], “It almost looks as if analysis were the third of those ‘impossible’ professions in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results.” Working with a structural impossibility operates on the side of lebendig. The desire of the analyst is therefore lebendig in several ways: there is something lebendig inscribed in desire per se, because it is never reachable and at the moment of its ‘fulfillment’, already elsewhere. Moreover, the desire of the analyst is oriented towards the lebendig in the subject – a work one by one [un par un; 4], an invention every time, in the clinic with patients and in the ‘life of the school’. Therefore, it is impossible for psychoanalysis to stand still – for example the work in cartels – temporary and every time new – testifies to this.

The emergence of something new, a contingent surprise, goes more in the direction of waking up. Lacan puts it this way, “I have every right, like Freud, to share my dreams with you. Unlike Freud’s dreams, they are not inspired by the desire to sleep, it’s rather the desire to wake up that stirs me.”[5] In order for something new to emerge, an interpretation, more in the direction of a waking up is needed. In this context, Lacan adds to the semantic interpretation – that is to say, an interpretation focused on deciphering and translating – the a-semantic interpretation, “which aims only at the opacity of jouissance.”[6] This kind of interpretation has a link to the poetic function. Laurent writes, “The poetic function reveals that language is not information but resonance, and emphasizes the materiality that links sound and meaning. It reveals what Lacan called moterialism, which encloses a void at its center.”[7] Poetry is meant to introduce something new into the practice of interpretation, it should “kindle a fire” as Jacques-Alain Miller’s puts it in Un effort de poésie[8].

Perhaps it can be said that interpretation in the sense of a deciphering practice places a ‘?’, while a-semantic interpretation introduces a [ ].

Between these brackets, in this gap, there is the possibility of the lebendig. And there is also the place where I would locate the real, more dignified love.

[1] Lacan, J. ‘Encore, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX.’ New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1972, p. 15.

[2] Lacan, J. ‘The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII.’ New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1959, p. 291

[3] Freud, S. ‘Analysis Terminable and Interminable.’ Standard Edition, London: Hogwarth Press, 23, p. 211f.

[4] op. cit., Encore, p.

[5] Lacan, J. ‘The Third’ The Lacanian Review, No. 7, May 2017, p. 99.

[6] Laurent, É. (2019). ‘Interpretation: From Truth to Event.’

[7] ibid.

[8] Miller J.-A. Un effort de poésie. Orientation lacanienne III 4, leçon du 13 novembre 2002.