In “Never Any End to Paris”, Enrique Vila-Matas relates that he always admired Hemingway and wanted to be like him.

It does not matter if it is truth or fiction – very Lacanian – he says that all this is true because it was invented.

There are two ways of “being like him” in the book: “the right to believe that I look like him” and being “identical, even in a really stupid way.”[1]

There is a distance between believing in the similarity of looking alike and the stupidity of being identical.

Vila-Matas perceives that there is a dark side to identification.

Identification writes in the key of the Other the answer to the identity vacuum in the speaking being. This is ironic, it is the ironic side of identification.

Would this be why Lacan could say that “the infernal irony of the schizophrenic […] goes to the root of any social relation?”[2]

Identification is, then, an ironic treatment of the real. It inscribes the subject in the field of an Other that does not exist, starting from a vacuum. Only the identified subject – if he is lucky enough to be so – does not know it.

To make the ironic side of the identification appear is an offer psychoanalysis makes to anyone who is willing to bear it. The expected effect would be the “fall of identifications”, never total, but rather is an ironic revision of them, which would allow a rereading of the fictions with which each one wove his or her own destiny.

It is not obligatory to want that, but it is the only way, apart from art, not to become identical to the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, without any distance, without any space for the creative response in the face of contingency.



Translated by Florencia F.C. Shanahan

[1] Vila-Matas, E., Never Any End to Paris, New Directions, 2011.

[2] Miller, J.-A., “Ironic Clinic”, Psychoanalytical Notebooks 7, 2002. Available on-line: