Doing Zoom

I want to deeply thank the Council for making this night possible amidst this colossal horror named Covid19.

Re-taking the floor in the School, traversed by this planetarium pandemic and affected by the encounter with a perturbing real, is for me revitalizing. Right in the instant of Daniel’s phone call I felt my soul returning to my body, jouissance does not lie!

I confess I had imagined myself speaking as an AS at a Congress… but this… never.

The virus we first saw on TV began to have familiar faces and names.

In this transit I transformed anxiety into a productive anxiety.

The first session in quarantine with M, who is 6 years old, was by video-call. She makes appear, on my screen, her head in the place of her feet and her feet in the place of her head. I tell her: The world is upside down! She exclaims: “Turbulence!”, scattered on her bed.

In the phrase “doing zoom” my sinthomatic response to today’s invitation is condensed, alongside an ongoing experience, one that is of course very different from that of my analysis.

“Zoom” is an English word which refers to a special telephoto lens that has an adjustable focal length. In other words, this element allows zooming in or out, keeping it focused based on its moving forward of backwards. It is not in the dictionary.[1]

For instance, the zoom of a photo camera allows taking images at different distances without moving, enlarging or shrinking them. I found out that there is 2x zoom, superzoom, power zoom, and there is even a song by Soda Stereo[2] called like that. Finally, Zoom is also this virtual platform that allows us to talk today. “We are zooming”, a friend said to me yesterday. Being apart, without displacing our bodies, it brings us closer with the image… and also with the voice. In this experience there is no material encounter of the bodies in the flesh, but it nevertheless involves a “being” that captures us. In this expression “Doing Zoom” I locate a doing linked to an “experience” that is at once and also of each one. It is a response to the real which is not necessarily linked to a maniac or superegoic doing.

Also, for me, it is inscribed in a “focusing”, something that has been difficult for me to achieve during these times. The “out of focus” invaded me when sitting down to write or to think about the fuzzy and uncertain future.

I want to highlight that this experience is adjustable, variable, and is articulated to an erotics of time and space. Lacan teaches us that space implies time, and time is perhaps nothing else but a “succession of instants that stretch.”[3] A time that stretches the object a out.

The pandemic has imposed a stop on us. A parenthesis in the presses, the acceleration we are used to live in. And it imposed on us forced confinement. Time seems to have another dimension, without cuts, it disorients our perception, a month is suddenly 80 days long.

The rupture of our habits and routines and the feeling of anxiety alter the relationship between our body and jouissance. Being locked up generates a new order-disorder at that level. The protecting confinement becomes, for some people, unbearable. We do not displace our bodies, we do not travel, but the threatening virus does migrate and travel, as does the jouissance which seeks where to lodge itself.

And moreover, our bodies are dressed up now with an aesthetics linked to health: “face masks”. It took me so many years to be able to speak and now I have to cover my mouth with that! I zoom in on what I have already transmitted in several testimonies, the pregnancy that orality and the voice had in my case.

A hyper-clear childhood memory connects me to an old face mask, the anesthetic mask that the surgeon put over my mouth and nose when having my tonsils removed.

As an analysand, I never had the experience of virtual sessions or sessions by phone, but in one of my dreams bordering on the real, the analyst appears with a recorder to obtain a “voice test”. The unconscious demands going further, cutting and operating as a surgeon to achieve its extraction.

As Lacan said: “To raise psychoanalysis to the dignity of surgery.”[4]

The unconscious taught me that to in order to capture the dimension of the voice, a recorder is not enough. In my case, the encounter at the end with the surprising absence of the analyst’s body in her office and then with an embodied thunder-like voice that resonates in my body.

The analyst’s “presence” summons the drive in the experience, the sexual reality of the unconscious, and embodies the non-symbolizable element of the analysand’s jouissance. It even puts her own jouissance into play, it carries her body.

If we zoom in on our practice we will find today an unprecedented reconfiguration in which certain gadgets are turned into tools to support the analyses. I share with others the question about the body and the analyst’s presence in this experience. It is not about an absence of the body but about the absence of its materiality. It implies another status of presence that is manifested via the voice or the gaze mediated through the phone or the screen.

This presence is supported, in each case, from a particular place. In this contingency, it is convenient to give full importance to this question. Miller orients us by saying “place and bond.” “The analyst is a place and in that place a bond is established.”[5]

The discourse of the analyst places the analyst in the place of semblant of the object, the analyst as an instrument that lets himself be used in the transference in order to become the analysand’s partner, to cut, to suture. And it is from that place, in any case, that we may think about how to maintain a certain void to make resonate in the body something other than meaning. There is not standard, just some principles. In short, it is about enacting a discourse in which semblants try to catch a real.

We will have to investigate what consequences does it have, in practice, to consider the  analyst’s desire as an embodied and living desire, with each one’s marks of jouissance, beyond the material presence of the bodies and crossed by this new place and bond with technology. Luckily, there is also room for surprise. The forgetting of the clinic, of what is already known, is what founds the analytical operation and allows me to invent how to sustain the analytic act in the best possible way in this new scenario. The problem is that I have the sensation of a ghost member in my ear and the little headphones become part of it. Even once I take them off I still feel their presence for a long time afterwards.

For an instant, I shall focus on an experience linked to the hospital -where I have been working for years- because it confronts me with a very different use of the voice. At the same time that it was necessary to “remove the body” and maintain the famous “social distance” I found the paradox of having to “put the body”. The problem was not meeting  patients in a virtual way, but responding to the state bureaucracy that decided to send mental health professionals to hotels where potentially infected people were self-isolating.

Putting the body involved answering the call of the one who wanted to speak to a “psy professional”, but -following the protocol- through a phone located in the lobby. We know that good intentions can, sometimes, become the worst.

Health policies show their failures, the medical discourse absorbs even the particular aspects of mental health, which did not manage to differentiate itself. In the urgency to respond, the speech of those who disagreed with this measure was foreclosed. Did the voice on the phone have to be located in the lobby? The analysts who work in public institutions encountered an impossible that came with the control executed by the master of “public order” in a moment of absolute lack of control. A master who protected the population while at the same time left health professionals sunk in their vulnerability and paradoxically, without voice.

Doing School

Today, we also find the “unknown” of the Pandemic and its subjective effects. It is unknown when is it going to end, and if the bond between us will change. The effects of our interventions mediated by gadgets are unknown, and also how technology will affect the social bond. We add these to our central hole of the unknown relative to what an analyst is.

We are in a time for understanding, a time for waiting, uncertain, a tie for taking into account the movement of others. A cornered time, a stolen time.[6]

How to inhabit the School without our habits? We must not forget we are troumains. As much as we seek recovery, there is loss, even for the wounded School. The time of today produces and empty space and it is from this absence that we generate other presences. Let’s not quickly fill in these holes, let’s practice incompleteness to make it productive. Doing School is turning it into a barred subject and making the experience of bordering the hole.

The School is based on the analytic discourse, it is supported on the physical presence of the bodies but also on what is beyond; we witness this in the experience of the School One. The transference work takes up the place of cause to inhabit the School and it allows us knot our “scattered, ill-assorted condition”. We go on alone, but not lonely, there is the dignity of what we do together.

In a moment of acute pessimism, while his School suspended the pass procedure, Lacan prophesies that the day would come when psychoanalysis would surrender to the impasses of civilization. That is what Miller reminded us of with the wager of the Lacanian politics and the title: “How does one become a psychoanalyst at the beginning of the 21st Century”[7] in 2008. Becoming an analyst… different from being. I add, different also from being one with the screen.

To refuse identification and mass responses to this pandemic, “both in panic or enthusiasm, in routine or in surprise,” can open a void where to lodge the new. As analysts we operate in the path of the singular and we aim for psychoanalysis to be a therapeutics unlike others. We desire a living School that houses contingency.

Lapse. Silence. Prudence. But words too. I welcome the excellent texts and words of many colleagues. I don’t imagine a School of ghost members. The unconscious is there to be read, let’s keep dreaming, still!

In my last testimony I referred to the fact that “the analyst’s desire is supported, in my case, by the new arrangement between the body and the voice… and this new way of speaking is knotted… also to the desire for the School.”[8]

This new real [the pandemic] reconnected me with anxiety but also with my sinthome. “Speaking with a loose voice” continues the treatment of the real and allows me to keep working on my sinthomatic dimension in the bond to the School.

I am aware of when I want to speak, but also of when I want to shut up; and I encounter other silences, carrying scary or doubtful voices, or the deafening silence of the empty city. I decided to respect these silences.

Consenting to the contingent enables the know-how, and it is the voice of desire that pushes towards invention, without guarantee.

It is up to each one to reinvent psychoanalysis, without dogmatisms.

Perhaps there will be novel encounters among the scattered, ill-assorted individuals that inhabit our School in solitude, over Zoom, Jitsi, Smartphones… or over the good old landline phone.

Perhaps we will make a School not-all, and invent bonds that keep producing School events without being sucked in by the new global virtual market.

Doing School and knowing how to do with this new Real.

Let us focus on the orientation of jouissance and the real, let us not lose focus on the politics of the symptom.

To conclude, Zoom is written with a Z. I have already added it to my list of three Z/Z/Z/ of the final dream. The tireless Z keeps writing the silence of my voice, sustained today by the crowned lively desire with which I return to inhabit the School.



Translated by Ana Inés Bertón


[1] In Spanish, there is no translation for “Zoom”.

[2] An Argentinian music band.

[3] Lacan, J., Seminar 21. Les non dupes-errent. Lessos of 11th December 1973. Unpublished.

[4] Lacan, J., Seminar 25. The moment to conclude. Lesson of 11th April 1978. Unpublished.

[5] Miller, J.-A., El lugar y el lazo, Ed. Paidos, Buenos Aires, 2013, p. 15.

[6] Miller, J.-A., Los usos del lapso, Ed. Paidos, Buenos Aires, p. 346.

[7] Miller, J.-A., Intervention published in La lettre mensuelle, issue 279, June 2009. Newsletter of the ECF.

[8] Kuperwajs, I., “Traces”, Testimony presented at the EOL Study-Days 2019.


* Presented at the Evening of the Council of the EOL – Escuela de la Orientacion Lacaniana – Argentina. This event took place on 14th May 2020.