I had been hoping to translate Dalila Arpin’s piece published by our colleagues in the ELP,[1] for I had been touched by how well she had put some of the impasses we encounter during this pandemic. Here’s the excerpt on which I had been left pondering after reading it: “This allows us to distinguish the singularities that are observed in these times of confinement. […] A whole clinic emerges from the way each one experiences his mode of jouissance. Certain modes of jouissance are trickier to be allowed between four walls. […] If the unconscious does not know time, as Freud put it, on the other hand, jouissance, as well as desire and love, do know it.[2] And, once confined, what is thrown out the door, returns through the window: jouissance soon manifests itself in every possible way. We heard from the French Prime Minister’s mouth […] a certain giving out to us when he said “We have seen you in cafes.” But, once cafes and bars were closed, we went to the parks… which was then banned the same night. You can enjoy following the rules, or breaking them; fighting with others more than before or getting along; bonding despite physical distance or isolating yourself to indulge in solitary pleasures. If a certain number of “non-essential” businesses closed, online sales exploded in sectors related to a way of dealing with this excess of jouissance in the body, which must be urgently accommodated! However, as we have said, the disagreement between the speaking being and satisfaction is structural, in such a way that being free to ourselves and having time to accommodate our symptom can become a difficult experience.”

It’s the 6th of May 2020. The anniversary of Freud’s birth. I woke up late. I didn’t read any news last night. These days numbers tell me nothing other than how manipulation works. But a piece on an Irish daily through which I sometimes flick online caught my attention. Apparently there were two stories dominating the newspapers in the UK this morning. “The first is the tragic news that the UK now has the highest Covid-19 death toll across all of Europe, 32,37 dead as per yesterday’s total. The second is the significant but far less consequential news that one of the academics who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has resigned. Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, was the lead author of a report which warned that 250,000 people could die if the government did not introduce social distancing. Ferguson broke lockdown rules by allowing a woman from another household into his home. The woman in question is married and the newspapers are therefore full of speculation about their relationship.”

Beyond the obscenity of the media, sex and death, inextricably linked as Freud discovered, constitute the holes to which the unconscious responds. That for which there is no possible lockdown.



[1] Dalila Arpin, “CORONAVIRUS: Confined …1×1”, Zadig Espana, 1st May 2020. Available online.

[2] Cf. Jacques-Alain Miller, The Erotics of Time, Unpublished.