Transference in the Time of Transparency, by Anne Béraud

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Transparency has gradually invaded all areas – economic, administrative, right up to sexual life and love. We must not hide anything at the risk of being flushed out by social networks. Transparency has become the cardinal virtue in our democracies and concealment the absolute evil of the postmodern era. What does transparency hide? Censors, inquisition, self-censorship? Freud taught us about the ruses of the unconscious and its insolubility with primary repression, and Lacan taught us about the opacity of jouissance, and the impossible. Isn’t the desire for transparency the symptom of the denial of the unconscious? Or, again, the absolute success of psychoanalysis under the sign of a deadly logic, without limit, of the illusion that everything can be said without censorship? As J.-A. Miller has been able to show about pornography, which would be one of the effects of psychoanalytic discourse.
The use of new technologies “is changing the status of privacy and secrecy”1, and evaluation in all areas is an insidious form of transparency. Of Little Hans – it was said that he was allowed to watch horses – Lacan noted that “just as in totalitarian systems that are defined by the fact that all that is permitted is compulsory, he feels now commanded to do so. Consequently, he feels obliged to look at them.”2 Voracious transparency arises from a fierce push-to-jouir.
In the age of the proliferation of the imaginary and mistrust of the symbolic, how does the transference still work? The subjectivity of our times goes against the belief in the subject supposed to know. Nevertheless, as Lacan announced about the “Triumph of Religion”,3 the call to the Other in the form of an authority is the corollary of the absence of meaning that flows from the imaginary surge.
The imperative of transparency requires more places where the intimate will be able to be spoken in speech that has value. Isn’t the symbolic aspect of the transference, which is undermined by the deflation of the belief in the figure of the Other, compensated for by another linkage? That of the flesh and bone presence of the analyst, which is lacking in the virtual world. Can we hypothesise that the transference is engaged, in the encounter with the real presence of the analyst, rather than on the basis of the object a, which also dominates these times? And that according to the manoeuvre of the analyst, a subject supposed to know is deduced from it.

Montreal, 17 February 2018

1 Clotilde Leguil, “Nous vivons à l’ère d’une hypertrophie du moi”, Le Monde, 27/07/2017.
2 Jacques Lacan, Le Séminaire, livre IV, La relation d’objet, Paris, Seuil, 1994, p. 281.
3 Jacques Lacan, The Triumph of Religion, Polity, Cambridge, 2013.

Translated by Janet Haney