Subject Supposed to Know to Read Otherwise by Esthela Solano-Suarez


The subject supposed to know, as pivot of the analytic experience, is according to Lacan that on which “everything to do with the transference is hinged”. The subject is not supposed by another subject, but by a signifier that represents it for another signifier, Lacan specifies, aiming to “wipe away the subjective from this subject”. The analytic experience taken to its end leads towards subjective destitution where “what is inessential of the subject supposed to know is unveiled”.

What remains of the transference when Lacan, in his last teaching, as Jacques-Alain Miller indicates, positions psychoanalysis in the register of the One all alone, and rethinks its practice from what is absolute in the sinthome of the One? This perspective of the sinthome, as Éric Laurent following J.-A. Miller has brought out, is of the Ones separated, unarticulated, without Other, whereas transference supposes the big Other. It can be deduced that “transference is indeed what is absent from the last teaching, at least from the seminars of The Sinthome and L’Une-bévue.” At the same time, in Lacan’s last teaching we witness a radicalisation of the borromean real, conceived of as being “without law” and which “doesn’t tie on to anything”. Thus, a real that is disjointed from knowledge, and which is characterised by the non-relation to meaning.

It is only in Seminar XXV, Moment to Conclude, that Lacan returns to transference to open out onto a new perspective. He asks himself what this “supposed to know” could mean, and replies: “the supposed to know to read otherwise” but on condition of also linking this “to read otherwise” to the big S of barred A, which designates a lack, a hole, a loss. As J.-A. Miller indicates, to read otherwise has something arbitrary, random, about it. In fact, Lacan had already stated, that “the signifier is posited only insofar as it has no relation to the signified”, as the signifier comes from what one hears in the auditory dimension, which “bears no relation whatsoever to what it signifies.”

The analysand speaks, Lacan reminds us, and the analyst cuts. By the cut he equivocates on the spelling and by this, his act takes part in writing, making resonate, in another way than writing, something other than what is said with the intention of saying. This entails that to read otherwise needs the support of writing.

Lacan will state that what is at stake in analytic discourse is to “give a different reading to the signifiers that are enunciated than what they signify.”

This perspective makes of the cut the model of the analytic act, as we find it at the heart of its practice. In this way he wanted to put in practice a dimension of the analytic act that “would not be mentally feeble”, in the sense that it would not be made through the intermediary of thinking, which “confines to mental debility”. This is why he proposes to “lift psychoanalysis up to the dignity of surgery”, scooping out meaning in order to touch the jouissance outside meaning, which does not tie on to anything. Knowledge, in this new perspective, arises from the readable of the letter, stumbling on the unreadable that makes a hole.

Translated by Natalie Wülfing

1 Lacan J., Proposition of the 9th October 1967 on the Psychoanalyst of the School, transl. R. Grigg, online:
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Miller J-A., “L’orientation lacanienne, Le tout dernier Lacan”, course delivered at the Department of Psychoanalysis, University of Paris 8, lesson of 14 March 2007, unpublished.
5 Laurent Éric, “Disruption de la jouissance dans les folies sous transfert”, speech delivered at the 11th Congress of the WAP, Barcelona, published in French in Hebdo-Blog n° 133, 15 April 2018.
6 Miller J-A., “L’orientation lacanienne, Le tout dernier Lacan”, op. cit.
7 Lacan J., Seminar XXIII, The Sinthome, transl. A. Price, Cambridge, 2016, p. 118
8 Ibid., p. 104
9 Lacan J., Le Séminaire Livre XXV, Le moment de conclure, lesson of 10 January 1978, unpublished.
10 Miller J.-A., “L’orientation lacanienne, Le tout dernier Lacan”, op. cit., lesson of 2 mai 2007.
11 Lacan J., Seminar XX, Encore, transl. B. Fink, Norton, London/New York, 1998, p. 29
12 Lacan J., Le Séminaire Livre XXV, Le moment de conclure, op. cit., leçon du 20 décembre 1977.
13 Miller J.-A., « L’orientation lacanienne, Le tout dernier Lacan », op. cit.
14 Op. cit., Lacan J., The Seminar, Book XX, Encore, transl. B. Fink, Norton 1998, p. 37