Catherine Millot is a writer and psychoanalyst who teaches at the University of Paris-VIII.

Extract from La logique et l’amour by Catherine Millot, Éditions Léo Scheer, 2019

Translated by Bogdan Wolf, Checked by Nicolas Duchenne, Psychoanalytical Notebooks – Love Event, PN 40, Spring 2023

Available at /Other Authors A-Z (Millot)

Note : ‘rapport’ is usually translated as ‘relationship’, though ‘rapport’ is possible, and it can also be the mathematical term, ‘ratio’.


P11-12 … even when he claimed that he was talking to brick walls … They were not just any brick walls, but those of the asylum, on an evening when he spoke about the knowledge of the psychoanalyst in the chapel of Sainte-Anne. He added that talking to brick walls made him enjoy himself [jouir), and that we, his audience, also enjoyed it by participation.

6th January 1971 part of Seminar XIXa The Savoir of the Psychoanalyst or The Psychoanalyst’s Knowledge (1971-1972) : from 4th November 1971 : Jacques Lacan, see this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19711104 or Index of Lacan’s texts) or /Lacan

Extracts from 6.1.72 pIII 6-III 8 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

p6 Did you hear that? I am speaking in the chapel! That is the answer. I am speaking in the chapel, that means to the wall!

This parapraxis is more and more successful! I know now who I have come to speak to: to what I was always talking to in Sainte Anne, to the wall! I have no need to come back to it, it was some time ago. From time to time I came back with some title of a lecture, about what I am teaching, for example, and then some others, I am not going to give a list. I was always talking to the wall. …

P6-7 Now I am going to give a commentary on the fact that talking to the wall interests some people. That was why I was asking just now who spoke. It is certain that the walls, in what is called-on what was called in the time when people were honest, an asylum, a clinical asylum, as was said-walls all the same are not nothing.

I will say more: this chapel appears to me as a place that is extremely well made for us to touch on what is involved when I talk about walls. This kind of concession of the layman for those interned, a chapel with its furnishings from well meaning people, of course. Not that it is extraordinary, huh, from the architectural point of view, but anyway it is a chapel with the arrangements that one can expect of it. People forget too often that architecture, whatever effort is made to avoid it, is designed for that: to construct walls. And that walls, faith…it is all the same very striking that since what I was speaking about earlier, namely, Christianity, leans perhaps through it a little bit too much towards Hegelianism it is designed to circumscribe a void. …

P7-8 On the contrary as regards the void we have a very good idea, because everything that has been bequeathed to us, bequeathed by a tradition that is called philosophical, puts the void in a very special place. There is even someone called Plato who made his whole idea of the world pivot around that, make no mistake, he is the one who invented the cave. He made a dark room of it. There was something happening outside, and all of this, passing through a little hole, created all the shadows. It is curious, it is here perhaps that we might have a little thread, some little trace. It is obviously a theory that allows us to put our finger on what is involved in the o[a]-object.

Just suppose that Plato’s cave is the wall where my voice makes itself heard. It is obvious that the walls make me enjoy! And that is why you all enjoy, each and every one of you, by participation. Seeing me talk to the wall is something that cannot leave you indifferent. And think about it: if you suppose that Plato was a structuralist, he would have noticed what was really involved in the cave, namely, that it is no doubt there, that their language was born. Matters have to be turned upside down, because, of course, man has been crying for a long time, like any other one of those little animals who mew for their mother’s milk. But to notice that he is capable of doing something, which of course, he understands for a long time – because in the babbling, in the confusion, everything happens – but in order to choose, he must have noticed that Ks resonate better from the back, the back of the cave, from the back wall, and that Bs and Ps come out better at the entrance, this is where he heard their resonance.

I am letting myself go this evening, because I am talking to the wall. You must not believe that what I am saying to you here, means that I got nothing other from Sainte Anne. I only managed to speak at Sainte Anne very late on. …


P12 They forever have a name for me: the year of ‘…or Worse’, the year of ‘Encore’, the year of the ‘Non-dupes errent’, and the year of ‘Joyce the Sinthome’

See Seminar XIX (1971-72) …Ou pire …Or worse : from 8th December 1971 : Jacques Lacan. See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19711208 or Index of Jacques Lacan’s texts)


Seminar XX Encore (1972–1973) : From 21st November 1972 : Jacques Lacan. See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19721121 or Index of Jacques Lacan’s texts)


Seminar XXI Les non-dupes errant (1973-1974) : from 13th November 1973 : Jacques Lacan. See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19731113 or Index of Jacques Lacan’s texts)


Seminar XXIII The Sinthome or Joyce and the Sinthome (1975-1976) : beginning on 18th November 1975 : Jacques Lacan. See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19751118 or Index of Jacques Lacan’s texts)


p12 . This is where we touch, said Lacan, on “what love should be, if it had any sense at all”. These points were like a siphon through which meaning was evacuated. Through these holes, holes of establishing any kind of relation between men and women also disappeared.

This has not been traced… Could be Seminar XX or let me know, please. JE


P14 …seminars where he developed the “formulas of sexuation.” A bilingual compilation exists, edited by Giacomo Contri, entitled ‘Lacan in ltalia’, in which are transcribed a series of lectures and discussions that Lacan held during this period.

See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19780101 Lacan en Italia 1953-1978. En Italie Lacan)


p14 It is a rather strange proposition: “a woman is being loved” [on aime une femme], constructed like a famous fantasy analysed by Freud: ‘A child is being beaten,” which allows us to understand that this proposition is a fantasy. [JE : a better translation might be ‘one loves a woman’]

‘A child is being beaten’ a contribution to the study of the origin of sexual perversions : 1919 : Sigmund Freud

Trans. J. Strachey, SE XVII p175-204, PFL Vol 10. Published bilingual at /Homepage /‘A Child is Being Beaten’ (‘Ein Kind wird geschlagen’)

Information see /1. A Lacanian Clinic / C Cartel or group work / d) e A Child is being Beaten.

Related text : The Relation of Beating-Phantasies to a Day-Dream : 31st May 1922 (Wien) : Anna Freud, Information /5. Authors A-Z (Freud Anna or Index of Authors) Published bilingual by /Homepage (Anna Freud’s Beating Fantasies & Daydreams) OR /Authors A-z (Freud Anna)


P15 . Of course, loving a woman is not without evoking some of Lacan’s statements, in particular in “L’Étourdit”: “heterosexual is the one who loves a woman whatever one’s sex.” This means that a woman is something of the order of the Other (heteros).

See L’Étourdit : 14th July 1972 : Jacques Lacan. See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19720714 or Index of Jacques Lacan’s texts) or Also Autres Écrits : 2001: Jacques Lacan. See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (20010101 or Index of Jacques Lacan’s texts)

P52-53 of, translation by Cormac Gallagher : What is called sex (or even the second, when it is a by a ninny [Note ; Allusion to Simone de Beauvoir’s popular Le Deuxième sexe.] is properly, being supported by notall (pastoute), the Heteros which cannot be slaked by a universe.

Let us call heterosexual by definition, one who loves women, whatever may be his/her own sex. This will be clearer.


P16 We each have our own way of being exiled from the sexual relation. A few years

later, Lacan will take up this idea of exile again elsewhere, with respect to Joyce and his play

The Exiles, saying that it is about exile from the sexual relation.

13th January 1976, from Seminar XXIII The Sinthome or Joyce and the Sinthome (1975-1976) : from 18th November 1975 : Jacques Lacan, see this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19751118 or Index of Lacan’s texts), 13.1.76 pIV 12 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, Ulysses, bears witness to the way in which Joyce remains rooted in his father even as he disowns him; and it is this indeed that is, that is his symptom.

I said that he was the symptom. His whole oeuvre is one long testimony of it.

Exiles, is truly the approach of something which is, for him, in short, the symptom. The central symptom in which, of course, what is at stake is the symptom constituted by the deficiency proper to the sexual relationship, but this deficiency does not take on just any old form. This deficiency must indeed take on a form. And this form, is the one that knots him to his wife, to the aforesaid Nora, to the aforesaid Nora during whose reign he lucubrates Exiles, Les Excilès, as it has been translated, even though this may just as well mean Exils. Exils, there could be no better term to express non-relationship. And it is indeed around this non-relationship that everything in Exiles turns. Non-relationship is indeed the following, it is that there is truly no reason why he should hold One woman among others to be his woman, that One woman among others is moreover one who has a relationship with any other man whatsoever. And it is indeed this any other man whatsoever that is at stake in the character that he imagines, and for whom at this date of his life, he knows how to open up, to open up the choice of the One woman in question, who is none other, on this occasion, than Nora.

Also 20.1.76 pV 30 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : All of this obviously does not go without grounding what, what I am trying to give consistency to, and a consistency in the knot.

What is it that in this sliding of Joyce, to which I have realised I referred in my seminar Encore. I am stupefied at that. I asked Jacques Aubert if this were a starting point for his invitation to speak about Joyce. He affirmed to me that at that time the seminar Encore had not yet appeared, so that it could not have been that that invited him to present me with this hole into which I risk myself through, no doubt, through some prudence; prudence as he has defined it. But the hole of the knot nonetheless remains a question for me.


P16 Lacan says this at the end of the Seminar Encore: “Love is born from the encounter between the traces, in the one and in the other, of the exile from the sexual relation.”

26th June 1973, Seminar XX Encore (1972-1973) : from 21st November 1972 : Jacques Lacan, see this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19721121 or Index of Lacan’s texts), 26.6.1973 pXIII 13-15 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Is it indeed courage that is at stake, or the paths of a recognition, of a (13) recognition whose characteristic can be nothing other than the following: that this relationship described as sexual become here a subject to subject relationship, namely, of the subject in so far as he is only the effect of unconscious knowledge, of the way in which this subject to subject relationship ceases not to be written?

This to cease not to be written, as you see, is not a formula that I put forward by chance. If I took pleasure in the necessary as what does not cease not to be written on this occasion, I beg your pardon: which does not cease, does not cease to be written on this occasion – the necessary is not the real, it is what does not cease to be written. The displacement of this negation which in passing asks us the question of what is involved in negation, when it comes to take the place of an inexistence, if the sexual relationship [this needs checking to see if it is ‘rapport-relationship/ratio’ or ‘relation-relation which is being translated] corresponds to something of which I say that, not only does it not cease not to be written – it is indeed with that and with it that we are dealing on this occasion – that it does not cease not to be written, that there is here impossibility, it is moreover that something cannot say it either, namely, that there is no ex-sistence in the saying of this relationship [this needs checking to see if it is ‘rapport-relationship/ratio’ or ‘relation-relation which is being translated].

But what does it mean to deny it? Is there any kind of legitimacy in substituting a negation for the experienced apprehension of inexistence? This is also a question that it is a matter of us opening up.

Does the word interdiction mean any more? Is it permitted any more? This is something which cannot be immediately settled either.

But the apprehension of contingency as I already incarnated it by this ceases not to be written, namely, by this something which, by the encounter, the encounter, it must indeed be said, of symptoms, of affects, of that which in each individual marks the trace of his exile, not as subject, but as speaking, of his exile from this relationship; is this not to say that it is simply by the affect that results from this gap, that something in every case where love occurs, that something that can vary infinitely as regards the level of this knowledge, that something is encountered which for an instant, can give the illusion of ceasing not to be written? Namely, that (14) something is not only articulated but is inscribed, is inscribed in the destiny of each one through which, for a time, a time of suspension, this something which would be the relationship, this something finds in the being who speaks, this something finds its mirage-like trace and path.

What would allow us, to strengthen (conforter) this implication? Assuredly something that the displacement of this negation, namely the passage to what earlier I missed so well by a slip that in itself is quite significant, namely the passage from negation to does not cease to be written, to the necessity substituted for this contingency, here indeed is the suspension point to which all love is attached. All love which only subsists by ceasing not to be written, tends to make this negation pass to does not cease, does not cease, will not cease, to be written.


P16 . What love dreams about is to pass from the contingent to the necessary, to what “does not cease to be written.” 26th June 1976 Seminar XX – see above quote.


P16 But that is not the only relation between logic and love. In an intervention made in Milan, Lacan takes up this question again, which brings into play the relation of love to the Other (heteros), not necessarily as a sexuated other, but as Other in so far as the question of its will, its desire , its jouissance is posed.

Probably Psychoanalysis in its reference to THE Sexual Relationship [rapport] : 3rd February 1973 (Milan) : Jacques Lacan, see this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19730203 or Index of Lacan’s texts), though there are others… probably p15-17 of Anthony Chadwick’s translation : There is this to be added – since I’ve just given you four of those partial drives – there is this to be added, that there is another, which takes place at the borders of that through which jouissance is something which concerns the body and its limits. It’s called: pain.

(71) To enjoy the body as such is something which is, it seems, the property of the speaking being… he enjoys… let’s say: he plays – because I don’t see why I would not use these equivocations which are precious in my language. I’m sure you will find its equivalent, but in other points, in the Italian which is yours.

That way of… which plays between the played and the enjoyed, between bodies, is something also which comes to be substituted, to provide the parallel, the equivalent, of the practice of what is called in the same being… in the speaking being, sexual jouissance.

So, it’s like that, finally, that the question of reference is introduced.

The reference is qualified by reference to the sexual relationship.

It’s killing, isn’t it? To tell you that, like that, in such a short time, but I want to try to clear, to cut, to shape in order… to show you the aim of what is in question.

The reference, it’s a whole world, you see: because the reference does not mean signification.

…Reference, it’s the term one employs apropos of that which I have not even made the slightest reference, that’s the word for it, to what one calls, to what one distinguishes in linguistics under the term of signifier.

The signifier has effects; that is called the signified.

That’s what it is used for apparently: to signify.

But it’s not that, precisely: the signified is of the order of what we have called, in speech, the dimension of enjoying.

And, in order for it to be useful for something, it’s necessary that there be somewhere something to which it refers.

That by which language, as one says, does not only connote, but denotes, in order to designate something… something real, a stone against which I bump.

At the level of jouissance, of sexual jouissance, is reference that for which it is useful, the said jouissance, that is to say, precisely, for the sexual relationship?

So, what does the term “sexual relationship” mean, there where I am putting it forward?

So, there is first of all the current, common usage: when you fuck you call that, generally, a sexual relationship.

Except, that is precisely to cut across the question: it is not clear that what one currently calls a sexual relationship, that means that it is no way sexual. [8]

If speech is jouissance – it’s jouissance which has a certain relationship with sexual jouissance – there is a thing that on the contrary analytical experience shows us quite well: it’s that sexual jouissance rarely establishes a relationship.

There would not be so many people coming to see us to talk precisely about this relationship which of course does not exist.

At the level… at the level of the high aspirations of the heart, at the level of what is chatted about, at the level precisely of that which surges up as a demand for an agreement which would not be

contravened by speech, if there is one thing which is not clear, that the analytical experience reveals, it’s that – whatever is the case with animals who are so-called, so-called, so-called… there are stories about which one cannot even know from which lobe of the biologist’s brain that idea of tropism could have come… a nostalgia… – that with the missus (madame) it doesn’t happen that way, that it’s not tropism which directs her, neither her nor him.

So, for the animal that must work.

In effect, that seems to work… salmon climb very, very far in rivers, and all that to make love, don’t they? It’s captivating, no?

What on earth would it be like if it were like that for men? /Lacan


P16 The question is to know if love can free itself from narcissism in this relation to

the Other. In this lecture entitled Excursus, of 3 February 1973, Lacan referred to Medieval theories of love, where love is taken by its divine face, which is a serious way of putting things.

P11 of Anthony Chadwick’s translation, see Excursus – Intervention in a meeting organized by the Scuola freudiana : 4th February 1973 (Milan) : Jacques Lacan on this site /Lacan (19730204), I heard talk of Thomism as I was entering adolescence, and God knows the fuss that was being made about it at that time, but when I was still a baby there were already some people who spoke very well about Thomism, and could see very well what that meant: namely that there is no theory of love which can be founded, which makes sense, which has a logical coherence, which was not founded, that theory of love, on love of self, that is to say what is generally called egoism.

Abbé Rousselot wanted it not to be so sad, but he is forced to recognize that one cannot say anything coherent about love except on the basis of an extension of love of self: that is to say that in sum, Saint Thomas was not an absolute idiot, except that he was probably a little hypogenital. Well Saint Thomas realized all the same, for well‐founded reasons, articulating himself on Aristotle, didn’t he, that the velle bonum alicui*, that is to say wanting some good for someone, that means in sum taking his affairs in hand, that is to say submitting oneself to him. And after all it is all the same a quite tangible dimension of the demands of love, that it ends up with this: that that can only converge with the love that the supreme being deserves, since he is the sovereign good. *[Note from /Lacan : Thomas Aquinas (1225‐1274) was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. His best‐known works are the Disputed Questions on Truth (1256–1259), the Summa contra Gentiles (1259–1265), and the unfinished but massively influential Summa Theologica a.k.a. Summa Theologiae (1265–1274), from which the above quote originates, (amare est) velle bonum alicui (To love is to will the good of the other). I, 59, 4; 27 and II‐II, 26, 6; 12.]

Related Texts

-See 30th May 1956 Seminar III, in Seminar III The Psychoses (1955-1956) : from 16th November 1955 : Jacques Lacan at this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19551116), p231-232 of Russell Grigg’s translation : In the Middle Ages a distinction was drawn between what was called the physical theory and the ecstatic theory of love. This is the way the question of the subject’s relation to the absolute Other was raised. Let’s say that in order to understand the psychoses we have to make the love relation with the Other qua radically Other, and the mirror situation, everything of the order of the imaginary, animus and anima, which is located according to the sexes at one or other of the places, overlap in our little schema.

Where does the difference between someone who is psychotic and someone who isn’t come from? It comes from the fact that for the psychotic a love relation that abolishes him as subject is possible insofar as it allows a radical heterogeneity of the Other. But this love is also a dead love.

It may seem to you that it’s a curious and unusual detour to resort to a medieval theory of love in order to introduce the question of psychosis. It is, however, impossible to conceive the nature of madness otherwise.

– Comment on the translation of ‘il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel’ – there is not a sexual relationship/ratio in Patrick Monribot : “There is no sexual relation” What does it mean? Clinical Consequences of Lacan’s Formulae of Sexuation : 28th September 2013 (Dublin). See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Monribot).

-Seminar VII 10th February 1960, Comment on courtly love & translation of ‘rapport’ : 21st October 2013 : Bruno de Florence. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (de Florence)

-The Allegory of Love, Courtly Love (Ch 1) & Allegory (Ch 2) : 1936 : C. S. Lewis. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Lewis)

Other texts with Catherine Millot

-Improvisation – Death Wish, Dream & Wakefulness : 1974 : Jacques Lacan answering a question from Catherine Millot. See this site /4 Jacques Lacan (19740101).