I start with an observation in order to formulate a hypothesis: there is a red thread running from end to end through a series of texts, courses and interventions by Jacques-Alain Miller, a thread that can be traced from at least 1982, with Clinic Under Transference, up to May 2017 with Freudian Field Year Zero and the Quilting Point Seminar. It is by following this red thread that we can locate the founding moments of the work of the Schools of the World Association of Psychoanalysis and of the Institute of the Freudian Field.
The year 2017 was, in effect, a quilting point that has re-signified this red thread and which, I have to suppose, has not left anyone indifferent. In fact, at stake is the destiny of the work that we have been doing for all these years and, I dare say without pretension, the destiny of psychoanalysis of the Lacanian orientation in our country as well. It is a red thread that follows the logic of transference in the analytic group, but it is a logic that is deduced from the transference at work in the analytic experience itself. The transference in the analytic group is, so to speak, an “extension” of the transference as we conceive it in the analytic experience. So my hypothesis is simple: you have to follow the logic of this red thread in order to understand the moment in which we are, and to take a position on what is at stake today in the transmission of the experience of the School. This is where the expression “transference of work” takes on its full meaning.
The idea of “transference of work” as the true orientation of the Freudian Field, of the Lacanian orientation, is the beginning of this red thread. It is presented at a very precise moment in its history. Jacques-Alain Miller, in 1998, at a time of turmoil, malaise and institutional division, refers to this notion in a Conversation that was published as Conversation about the Master Signifier. This passage is worth reproducing at length in order to bear it in mind:
“To what does the École de la Cause owe its success? To its legitimacy? To its genius? To its industry (production)? To providence? No: to a powerful transference of work. […] This can also have other names. For example, the name of orientation. I think the orientation makes all the difference [with other groups or institutions]. A School, an international organization like the AMP, is not obliged to have an orientation. You can be content with having a bureaucracy, and grouping together a number of autonomous masters, each in his own corner […] leaving each other alone, meeting periodically for conferences, holding conclaves, dividing the pie. This is one possible model, the democracy of peers, the democracy of masters. Lacan used to say: “Democracy is always the democracy of masters.” We can have a democracy of masters, each one independent, each having discovered his exceptionality, masters who would dialogue [conféreraient] together from time to time. They could refrain from the notion of orientation [and thus of transference of work]. It is totally conceivable. The Nebula has something of that. The ECF, since its inception, is something else. From the beginning it is an orientation. It is not my orientation […] it is an argued, disputed orientation which has been upheld from the start by more than one [but at least one!] And that constitutes the strength of the ECF. One last point. An orientation means: not leaving each one happily in his corner”.
The orientation is thus the reciprocal transference. It is a transference founded on a reciprocal criticism. The orientation is not only or fundamentally the common reference to certain texts, to someone with whom each one also maintains a transference. It is an argued, disputed orientation, without tacit agreements and always beyond the identifications supposed in the other. Otherwise, the analytic community inevitably becomes a democracy of masters, each in his own corner, without disturbing one another too much.
The hypothesis can also be formulated like this then: there is an extension of the work of transference in the analytic experience to a transference of work in the analytic group. This implies that there is in fact no difference in structure between one and the other, although their phenomenology appears to us in a different way. There is a torsion of the one into the other, but their structural points are maintained, if it is true, since Freud, that “group psychology” is an extension of “individual psychology.” The interpretation that bears the name of Zadig, which is an interpretation directed to the Schools of the AMP from the extension of psychoanalysis to politics, follows the same logic. It is essential to understand this by following the experience of the School today. It is not a supplementary and tangential fact. It is what Jacques Alain Miller himself has called “the pass of the School-subject”, at the end of the Quilting Point Seminar. And we have yet to draw the consequences of this interpretation.
Following this orientation, what difference can we find between a professional group and the School-subject? A professional group always tends to put professional interests first, giving priority to the survival of the practice at the expense of the transmission of the experience. “We safeguard the practice, giving up the experience to professional interests.” That is the voice of the group. Let us not give up the experience to the inertia of professional practice; that is the voice of the School-subject. In a professional group, a true transference of work is thus not necessary, there is no need for the orientation of a reciprocal transference that allows an elaboration of knowledge. It only requires promotion to places of prestige in which the knowledge of each one is promoted to the place of agent of discourse. The structure of the group is based on this promotion, never exempt from the infatuation of knowledge itself. In place of a reciprocal criticism, the inertia of the group leads to that structure of “Sufficiencies” and “Beatitudes”, as Lacan called them in his 1956 text, supported by the figure of the “Little Shoes”. As Lacan underlined in the logical analysis of this structure, in the group there is reciprocity of recognition between peers, but not a transference of reciprocal work.
The notion of “transference of work” necessarily implies reciprocity, including rigorous criticism. However, transference is never reciprocal in the analytic experience. This is the criticism that Lacan made of himself in his Proposition of 1967, having assumed that the transference is intersubjective, between two subjects. We know what havoc the trap of countertransference – the “conceptual impropriety” of this false reciprocity – gave rise to in the analytic community of the IPA, not unrelated to the deviation of the analytic experience itself. There is no intersubjectivity, there is no reciprocity in the transference. And this means that there is only one subject in the analytic experience. The transference can only be reciprocal in the experience of the School, between members, but also with only a single subject, the School-Subject. There is also no intersubjectivity there, but rather the existence of the collective as the “subject of the individual.” This means in the first place: no contempt for the production of each one, but also reciprocal criticism as seriously as possible of the production of each one, beyond the identifications supposed in the one or the other.
Translated by Roger Litten
This article was originally published in El Psicoanalisis. Revista de la Escuela Lacaniana de Psicoanalisis. [Journal of the ELP] No. 36, November 2020.