You are on page 1of 8

The Second Pass

Jacques-Alain Miller
translated by Barbara P. Fulks
Parasites of Solitude
The real unconscious, an idea to be handled with precaution, casts a large
shadow in psychoanalysis. One doesnt define the real unconscious except
through its costs.
In order to situate this notion in an oppositional pairthe transferential
unconscious and the real unconsciousI have seized on what Lacan has
carefully veiled in a phrase from that piece in which he invites us to follow
along in his definition of what is the unconscious as real. [1] This is a hole in
his teaching, a hole into which even all his teaching is susceptible of being
emptied. He did not leave anyone else the task of delving into this hole, since
he rather carefully concealed it.
This definition is taken on the basis of a solitude of the subject. It is stated
rapidly and carries, moreover, some profound echoes when one tries to define
The subject in which Lacan stresses solitude is Freud: a solitary man,
incontestable theoretician of the unconscious. [2] Incontestable does not
mean that he was not contested, far from it. He is still debated fiercely, and
not always favorably, in the beginning of the 21st century. Incontestable
means that one must at least take care in contesting him. It is a matter of
making a point, taking a position in which the other positions do not count.
There is an illustrative example of a solitary man other than Freud, who even
had some cohorts following him in psychoanalysis. Lacan, too, introduced
himself thus at a particular time, believing in what he called so nicely a school:
I have always been so alone in my relation to the psychoanalytic cause. [3]
He obviously coated himself with glue in order to have some company. The
analyststhe Freudians, the Lacaniansare thus put in the position, which
history will always verify, of parasites, parasites of solitude.
The Other Side of the Pass
A third term, the pass, is added to the transferential unconscious and the real

unconscious. Adding it has the effect of making sense, of orienting the

transferential unconscious to the real unconscious.
the pass >
from the transferential unconscious to the real unconscious
Lacan called the exit from the transferential unconscious pass, a moment
when the relationship to the companion analyst, the self-styled good
samaritan, is transformed radically. Liquidation, as it is called, and as Lacan
repeats, although in quotations. [4] As inadequate as it is, this word
liquidation says something. Liquidation of transference for. Understood as
for the analyst, with his cortege of effects in which, as one quickly finds out,
hatred as well as love is inscribed. Blessed be the effect when it is indifference!
The function of lesp dun lapswhen the slip of the tongue, formation of the
unconscious, no longer has any impact of meaning (or interpretation) [5] is
inscribed, in the clearest way, at that moment. Then one can speak of the exit
of the transferential unconscious.
We thought, with Freud and after Freud, that once this parenthesis was
closed, one nevertheless had to continue to be analyzed, without the analyst,
in solitude. One would go back to it, occasionallyregularly, Freud wished
for a period of time. To taste again a little of the tranferential unconscious.
The other solitary one, Lacan, imagined another route, that of establishing a
relationship to the analytic cause. Designed as the second pass, oriented in the
opposite sense. Attention! Not a new transference for the analyst. The
transference to analysis.
the pass >
from the transferential unconscious to the real unconscious
the second pass >
from the real unconscious to the transferential to the transferential
This is in any case the value that Lacan gave to what he called the
relationship to the analytic cause. [6] He wanted to define, for each one, the
path of solitude that had been his own, according to his declarations,

inventing then the superimposition of the pass, the second pass, in order to
lighten the weight that the real unconscious entails. [7]
The second pass is the other side of the pass. It assumes a passing over to a
point of retracing, to state it in topological terms. It is not, in Lacans idea, a
return to a previous status quo.
Mirage of the Truth
Has history verified this? We shall see. The second pass was only brought in
where Lacan was carefully followed. It is thus not at all sure that it allows for
doing without a transference for an analyst, since Lacan was one. And again,
all those for whom Lacans proposals happened in their lives and in their
practice have not followed it in this retracing. That is to say that we evoke a
limited experience, always precarious, when we speak of it.
It is perhaps in the brief text Lesp dun laps that Lacan said the most about
it. There is a word to characterize the operation of the second pass:
hystorisation, a hysterisized history. [8] A history that is a process of
intersubjective historization. If I may say so.
The second pass would be the hystorization of your analysis. Not only to
unblock a logic that would be the metalanguage of your analysis. If Lacan says
hystorization with a y, it is because it is not a matter of objectification It is
also theatre. It is a matter of elaborating how, in my analysis, I could make
sense of the real, and thus, on occasion, necessarily fill the holes that separate
the pieces, so that in the end applause is elicited.
If the second pass is situated at this point of retracing, it is elaborated in
solitude, the piercing solitude of the formula the analyst is only authorized by
himself. [9] Each one is invited to rejoin Freud and Lacan in their solitude.
Hysterization is supported by this solitude, even if it is carried out by
parasites: the passers, two in the end, who come as ambassadors for the
applicant and who transmit the information to a standing jury in the famous
School. This is the theatre of the pass. The passers, the ambassadors, are going
to transmit, but it is essential that this transmission be indirect; that is to say
that these passers are functioning also as a screen. The jury, in back, is not
expected to see or to understand what the passee declares all alone, what he
declares to the passers who are spectators. They are theatre critics and also

sensitive sensors, whom the jury interrogates about what this experience has
done for them, having understood one who has arrived at the real
The second pass can only be called a proof of truth cum grano salis. The proof
of truth is the analysis, in which one tries to speak the truth, the
accompanying analyst being there to inspire you with a certain passion for the
truth. If the second pass is a proof of truth, the difference is having attained
the real unconscious: one is supposed to know that the truth is a mirage that,
from the truth, only the lie is to be expected. [10] The lie is not an objection
to the truth; the lie only has meaning in the dimension of truth.
The sense of the truth and the lie is what is extinguished in the term real
unconscious. One does not expect in the second pass a testimony of the truth
of truth. That would be a mirage.
Error, Lapse and Sinthome
Nothing tells us that this mirage did not take place in the history of the pass.
The expected testimony is how someone in his analysis knew how to do it with
the lying truth, how it was abandoned there, unglued and, one hopes,
extracted, cleaned up. In any case, the mirage of the truth has a term, that
of the real unconscious that is seen, that is appreciated as the satisfaction
that marks the end of analysis. [11]
There is no more sober, more delicate way of saying it. There is an end to
analysis when there is satisfaction. This of course implies a transformation of
symptom such that from discomfort, pain, is delivered the satisfaction that
has always inhabited it, animated it. The criterion is to know how to do it with
its symptom in order to draw satisfaction from it.
Thus the thesis that Lacan formulated according to which the analysis
presides over an urgency. [12] This goes further than coordinating the
analysis to a demand. What one calls demand, from the point of view of the
symbolic, is in fact the request of an urgency. [13] It is what is gauged by
preliminary discussions. Is there or is there not an urgency of satisfaction? Is
the subject at the point of no longer knowing what to do with his symptom
except to suffer? Joyce, to whom Lacan dedicated a years enigmatic Seminar,
had refused analysis. Which didnt keep Lacan from bestowing on him the

best one might expect from an analysis and its end, that is to say having
known how to do it with his symptom in such a fashion that he drew
satisfaction from it and had the perspective of immortalizing his proper name.
Let us add this precaution, which Lacan repeated enigmatically, that there is
no eternity; [14] we remember the temporal structure that governs the
unconscious and does not permit sinking into a combinational contemplation
suspending time.
Lacan evokes in Le sinthome the error of structure present with Joyce, which
needs a correction, a joining, which is its symptom itself, and which passes
through writing. [15] On the concept of the error, which has nothing to do
here with culpability, he indicates that behind any lapse there is a signifying
finality, which is the law of all interpretation. If there is an unconscious, the
error tends to want to express something, something that the subject does
not know and which presses to reveal itself. [16]
Measure of the Truth in the Real
Lacan went back to this point precisely in Lesp dun laps. The signifying
finality is what is put into question, being what gives the thrust of meaning or
interpretation to the formations of the unconscious, and it supposes that there
is an underlying truth which is trying to be understood, to pierce through. It is
by putting into question the notion itself of the signifying finality of the
formations of the unconscious that Lacan isolates the real unconscious, which
is an unconscious without repression. On this point, the following year, with a
necessarily tottering approach, Lacan proposed, in Lune-bvue, elaborating
something that goes further than the unconscious. Which he will retain until
his last breath.
One must elaborate what, for Lacan, was the hiatus, the break between the
dream and the real. He said, The truth is what one believes as such, and
what radiates from the other side is the idea of real as unraveled from all
belief. [18]
How can we define this belief? I would say: a lie in action, which has effects.
Faith, and even religious faith, this is the true, which has nothing to do with
the real. [19] Lacan goes so far as to formulate psychoanalysis as the modern
form of religious faith, [20] which must be restored with this phrase is in its

place, that is at the level of the transferential unconscious, the transferential

unconscious which is attached through Freud to nothing other than the Name
of the Father. The truth, this truth, this truth of belief is, Lacan says, adrift
when it is a matter of the real. [21]

the pass >

from the tranferential unconscious to the real unconscious
the second pass >
from the real unconscious to the transferential unconscious
We can assign to this adrift, which is not without echo on the side of the
drive, its connection to the second pass, which implies making the distinction
between the truth and the real, elaborating the drift of the true, measuring
what has the function of truth, in your analysis, in regard to the real, which
one uses incessantly to extinguish or to veil. To measure the true in the real.
[1] Lacan, Jacques, Prface ldition anglaise du Sminaire XI, Autres
crits, Paris: Seuil, 2001, p. 571. Miller J.-A, Lorientation lacanienne III, 9
[2] Ibid
[3] Lacan J., Acte de fondation de lcole freudienne de Paris (1964), Autres
crits, Paris, Seuil, 2001, p. 229.
[4] Lacan, J., Proposition du 9 octobre 1967 sur le psychanalyste de lcole
(1967), Autres crits, op.cit., p. 254.
[5] Lacan, J., Prface ldition anglaise du Sminaire XI, op. cit., p. 571.

[6] Lacan, J., Acte de fondation de lcole freudienne de Paris, op. cit., p.
[7] Lacan, J., Proposition du 9 octobre 1967 op. cit.
[8] Lacan, J., Prface ldition anglaise du Sminaire XI, op. cit., p. 573.
[9] Lacan, J. Proposition du 9 octobre 1967 op. cit., p. 243; J.-A. Miller,
Lorientation lacanienne II, 9 Le banquet des analystes (1989-90), where
this formulation is discussed in length.
[10] Ibid, p. 572.
[11] Ibid
[12] Ibid, p. 148.
[13] Ibid, p. 573.
[14] Lacan, J., Le Sminaire, livre XXIII, Le sinthome (1975-76), Paris: Seuil,
2005, p. 148.
[15] Ibid, p. 153.
[16] Ibid, p. 148.
[17] Lacan J., Le Sminaire, livre XXIV, Linsu que sait de lune-bvue saile
mourre (1976-77), Paris: Seuil, 2007.
[18] Ibid, lesson from 14 December 1976.
[19] Ibid
[20] Ibid
[21] Ibid
Lorientation lacanienne, Paris, Winter 2007text and notes in French edited
by Catherine Bonningue and published in la Cause freudienne 66.