Report on the ICLO-NLS Seminar with Laure Naveau
Dublin, 8th February 2014
The final clinical conversation of the ICLO-NLS calendar 2013-14 with members of the WAP entitled “The Names of the Real in the 21st Century” took place in St.Vincent’s Hospital Fairview on February 8th on the topic ‘A Clinic of Love Disorder’ with Laure Naveau, AME of the ECF, and WAP. Laure Naveau is a psychoanalyst in Paris where she teaches at the Clinical Section of Paris- Ile de France.
The theme of Laure’s presentation concerned the impact that the discourses of capitalism and of science exert upon subjectivity - upon us as lovers. Laure put forward the question of whether there is a kind of capitalistic way of loving which has invaded the way in which people love today. This question is not sentimental one. It neither harks back to a former time of loving, nor does it long for an idealised future for loving. Psychoanalysis is discourse which formalises the fact we can speak about love in order to say that it doesn’t work out.
Citing the work of the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman in his book Liquid Love: On the frailty of Human Bonds 1 Laure commented on how Bauman interprets the sexes’ new modes of partnership in terms of consumerism and the market. Continuing from Freud, Bauman speaks of a complex interrelationship between Eros and Thanatos in the era of the capitalist’s discourse. This speaks of what is at stake in love. Love relations have become liquid in the sense that the number of love relations one has and their rapid obsolescence has taken centre stage in the market place of love. We live in a culture of consumption, a buy now discard later model in which everything has become disposable, including people. This is marked, Bauman suggests, by a morbid - suicidal - inclination, and according to the current model of consumerism (ingestion-digestion, excretion), desire has become identical to consumption, processing, and waste. Laure asks if love “has now become an act of political resistance, a social struggle against capitalism’s incitement to selfishness, with its push to solitary enjoyment, and immediate satisfaction?” In this way we could say that the modern era is one of disposability - especially when it comes to partners.
A consumerist way of loving is characterised by an attempt to insure against risk at all cost, in a sense to get the ‘best’ deal, to ‘be in love’ without ‘falling in love’. This risk-free sales pitch is seductive, but in love there is always a risk which cannot be insured against.
Analytic discourse, as J-A Miller states, “flatly refutes this mass subjective rectification, for it gets its power – precisely – from being demassifying”. In this view, Jacques-Alain Miller contends that “psychoanalysis accompanies the subject in his protests against the discontents of civilisation,” 2in his solitude, there where only the One all alone exists. And though analytic discourse promises nothing of happiness for the subject Lacan indicates that the analytic discourse does in fact promise something new in love, a “novelty”. This signifies that, since we are speaking beings, speaking beings affected by a language, which puts a lack to work, and since the always risky encounter between words and bodies constitutes our real without law, harmony does not exist in the human world. The “something new in love” that the analytic discourse promises is something made with what we call transference. The love encounter which demonstrates “a certain courage with respect to this fatal destiny” 3, that of the non-relation between the sexes, comes to answer the real of this impasse.
When one begins to speak about love there is always a real in play and the real that comes from the experience of psychoanalysis sets itself against globalisation and human fascination for things that do not speak. It is a real which escapes the universal of the modern discourse of the master, which, combined with that of capitalism, does not want to know about the affairs of love. In opposition to this, the real of the analyst’s discourse, is a real which allows subjects to assume their absolute difference, their incomparability, and assume the mark that makes us what we are and with which we may each face up to our destinies as speaking beings by subverting it, by introducing the dimension of contingency into it, contingency which is precisely the property of love. Lacan, in his seminar Encore put forward that courage in love has to do with what he called the contingency of the encounter - an encounter, with their symptoms, their solitude and everything that constitutes their own exile from the relation that, between the sexes, does not exist.
For Lacan, he does not say that love is a disguise for sexual relationships, but the well know aphorism ‘Il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel’, that the sexual rapport does not exist but love can be what comes to replace that non-relationship. Love is thus not a contract between two narcissists, but something more. It’s a construction that compels the participants to go beyond narcissism. In love the other tries to approach “the being of the other’, beyond narcissism. Love is what makes up for a failure of the relation between the sexes, but it is also a sign that one is changing in discourses and that one has the courage to discover.
Laure expresses that “consenting to this inexpressible real that does not change, that escapes the symbolic and that repeats, ceasing to ignore it, and having subverted the dimension of pathos attached to it, is a pass in the sense in which Lacan understands the pass in one’s analysis as the resolution of an impasse.” It is a question of chancing this real beyond the text of the fantasy. For Laure, the process involved in chancing the real, [in making a chance of the real - faire du reel hasard], is not disillusionment, but responsibility. “It is thus not a question of leaving the table of love and chance”, says Eric Laurent, “but of knowing if one loves or if one hates, and of being consistent with the decision one makes to continue playing with the Other (to continue to bet [parier] with the Other), expending one’s energy [se depenser] without keeping count. And so, love will be able to meet you there”.4
Laure concluded her seminar by sharing a fragment of a clinical case. The case was of a woman who has entered analysis in order to untangle the knots of her love life and the misunderstanding that has been established with the man of her life. Via the case Laure brought to life some of the elements that she spoke about in her seminar. On behalf of ICLO-NLS we would like to thank Laure for returning to Dublin to be with us and for her captivating and enriching transmission.
1 Bauman, Z., Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds, Polity Press, 2003, p. 10.
2 Miller, J.-A., “Parler avec son corp”, Mental, n° 27-28, p. 129-131.
3 Lacan, J., “Television” trans. Hollier, Krauss, Michelson, Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment, Norton, 1990, p. 304 Laurent E., Faire du destin hasard, Tresses, n° 3, Bulletin de l’ACF-Aquitania, September 1999.