A Dream by Violaine Clément


In the course of analysis, I have a dream that orients me still: I dream that I invite Jacques Lacan to give a conference in my home in the township of Fribourg. Although he had been dead for a long time, he accepts, and this does not surprise me. Eager to show him the verdant Gruyère region, I drive him through the very green foothills of the Alps, where, as a young girl, I had gone with a lover. After a while he spoke to me in a very local French dialect: It’s not all that, but I must take some notes for my conference: would you have a paper?
Certain that I’ll have one in my car that conceals many treasures, I search in the pile of my daughter’s school papes that she had left in my car, having just taken the Bacalaureat exam… Nothing. Not the smallest empty square. Everything was already written out, filled with useless writings that no one would ever read, but which one does not throw out right away.

I like this dream, which made me feel ashamed, and which awoke me in a burst of laughter!

This dream rubbed out the sensation that the verse of Mallarmé translates so well: The flesh is sorrowful, alas! And I have read all the books.1 With Lacan, it is not sorrow at the controls, nor the quest for the absolute that holds you back, but the transference, so powerful, since we must dare everything πᾶν τόλματον (…), as Sappho said in her marvellous poem to a woman she loved.2 Because in poetry just as in dreams, no one ages, no one dies…
Yes, reading Lacan’s seminar, or his Écrits, is impossible without the unconscious.

(1) “Brise Marine”, line 1 (1887), as translated in Mallarmé : The Poet and his Circle ((1999) 2005) by Rosemary Lloyd, p. 70.

(2) Translator Note: Reference to Sappho poem Fragment 31, also known as phainetai moi (φαίνεταί μοι), Poem of Jealousy. In describing her situation in terms of her beloved, Sappho comments,  “alla pan tolmaton”, “all may be ventured”.
Translated from the French by Joanne Conway