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J.A.Miller : An open lettre to Peter Hallward

Paris, Feb. 26th 2013

Dear Peter Hallward,

Thanks you for sending me your two beautifully-edited volumes on Cahiers pour l'Analyse.

I received them as I was deeply invoved in a public-opinion campaign, trying to free an Iranian collegue, Dr Mitra Kadivar, interned in a psychiatric hospital in Tehran.

Nevertheless, I did manage to read Volume II bit by bit. I finished it 2 days ago. I smiled a lot. Then less.

I could have clarified some minor episodes. The quarrel about "Causalité métonymique" is passionately discussed half a century later. And "Suture". Amazing !

Sometimes, it looks like I am dead, and everyone may say what he wants of my poor dead self, defenseless as he lays down ad dead as a dead mouse (un rat mort). But I am not with my body. « On entre dans un mort comme dans un moulin », famously said Sartre in his Flaubert. Reading Volume II, I felt I was this mill. Don't forget, dear Peter, my name is Miller. Mills and winds were always important to me. A wind deity by Albrecht Dürer is the symbol I gave to the World Association of Psychoanalysis. If I tell you on the spot from where it comes from, and nobody can, you'll know I choose it, and nobody else. It is Africanus, from the Weltkarte of Johannes Stabius, the Austrian humanist and catographer Durer illustrated. See ?

Same thing with « Causalté métonymique ». No, it was not common knowledge among us, it wasn't collective invention, and delirious appropriation by a vain young guy. As that time, preparing for the agrégation of philosophy, I lived in the countryside, in a village named Clairefontaine, near Rambouillet, immersed in my philosophy books, and learning Greek. My father had wanted me to learn Spanish beside English, instead of Greek (in the French system at that time, you couldn't learn Greek if you learned Latin and two living languages). I had desisted from being part of Lire le Capital, for various reasons, one of them being I intended to concentrate on preparing agrégation, which the others had passed already, my being the youngest of the lot by three years or more.

So that year, I saw precious little of my friends. I went to Paris once in a week, on Wednesday, to attend Lacan's Seminaire and Derrida's preparation for agreg, and to fuck my young mistress – that very same girl Althusser speaks about the one time he came to visit me that year in Clairefontaine, with poor, unhappy Hélène. He took seriously what I told him in jest of this very beautiful child who was picking flowers in the garden : « She invents a concept a day. ». He was sheer mad, as shows his comment of this sentence in his book, L'Avenir dure longtemps. I was a pig.

I still love you, dear A*. Your sister told me you hate me since I married Judith a year later, in haste, as she was pregnant with Eve. You are my remorse. I still remember the red stain in my bed rue d'Ulm.

There is very lettle sex in your interviews with the normaliens'bunch. Let us make it hotter. Our existentialist predecesors were less prude. Some of us were monks. Badiou wasn't. neither I. I just felt that, in order to be a serious thinker, you haad to remain single and childless. Then I married when I was 22 years old – Nov. 12, 1966 - and was a father at 23 – May 29th 1967. And that's why I never grew into a serious thonker, but remained a playful normalien enjoying « canulars », as a preparation for praticing psychoanalysis.

If at the time Althusser wrote a special aknowlegment concerning « causalité métonymique » at the very beginning of Lire le Capital – that piece disappeared in subsequent editions - it is because, at that time, everyone admitted my claim. But nevertheles it wasn't a theft either. I never told the whole story publicly at the time. Fifty years later, the episode is still incredibly hot. You make it so with Vomlume II. Will the main culpit stands from among my friends, and tell the story ? Or must I do it myself ?

I remember very well you invited me repeatedly to answer your questions and you invited me to your Colloquium. I didn't even bother to turn you away. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. I feared the coming of History. I felt I wasn't one of the past, but one of the future. Next-year-generation. Laissez les morts enterrer les morts. Pourquoi rappeler à la vie ces ombres poudreuses, moi à 20 ans, slim and slender, lots of hair, and nearly « traînant tous les cours après soi ». Roland Barthes was in love with me. So disappointed he was when I told him I loved girls. « And since when are you like that, Jacques-Alain ? » Gloria told me the first time I went to rue de Lille with one of my best friends from Ulm, she announced us to Lacan saying : « The two fags (pédés) are here. »

No, I didn't want to confess publicly in Middlesex and tell my story. It doen't befit an analyst. But I cannot turn my back on young Miller either, when I see him misrepresented. Most of the time, my old friends of 50 years ago do it because of ignorance, because they didn't know how the trick was done. A few times only there is malice. But one word stands out: renegade.

My good friend Badiou, whose interview closes the second volume counts me among "renegades". This, I shall not tolerate.

You find the word in the first line of the very last page of Volume II, p. 290. It's the parting shot, "la flèche du Parthe" , the "point de capiton" of the whole enterprise.

"I object, your Honour !" Is there honour in Alain Badiou ? This, we shall see. This, we shall test. This is going to be the crucial test of Badiou's life and deeds and misdeeds.

Some years ago, when Badiou hated Milner and Milner hated Badiou, I asked both to contribute to a small book on Lacan I wanted to publish. Milner said yes. Badiou - and Zizek, my ex-analysand - said no. Badiou reproached me with trying to be « l'ami de tout le monde ». Yes. I tryed to be the link between them, in spite of themselves. No more. I feel defiled and betrayed. I won't take it no more. As Peter Finch, « the mad prophet of the airwaves » chants in Network,

« I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore. »

Good day, Badiou ! You won't escape my grip. My intellectual grip. Bas les masques ! Drop the pretence !

Yesterday afternoon, Monday Feb. 25th, as Regnault did not received – how comes? - the 2 books, I gave him a photocopy of his and Badiou's interviews. Plus another photocopy of another interview Badiou gave to a French author, Eric Hazan, where the renegade thing shows its head : JAM is a turncoat. JAM and his brother Gérard are Rastignac. They just seekeed power.

« Tose people » (ces gens) were dishonest. Etc.

Who are you, Badiou, to speak of me and my family – Gérard is the only family I have from infant time- in those terms ? Do words mean anything to you ? I remeber you saying once :

« I write as I brush my teeth. » I was so impressed at the time. That was a true statement. But it shows, badiou, it shows that you write as one's brush his teeth. But to brush your teeth, you need teeth, right ? Duel is an old aristocartic tradition. If I could send you my witnesses, I would do it. I do it, intellectually, as we're both intellectuals.

This is going to be an intellectual fight to the death. Either you recant, ot I'll set the record straight myself, with all due details.

The mail I sent Regnault yesternight is now circling the Net, through Freudian Field networks. Dear Peter Hallward, I am willing to sit with you for an extended interview on Cahiers pour l'Analyse. Navarin/Le Champ freudien éditeur will finance our meeting, and publish it in French. If interested, Verso could publish it in English. This book would have spanish, italian, portuguese, russian, translations.

Are you still interested in Cahiers pour l'Analyse and the part I played in it ? If the answer is yes, I'm your man.

Yours with esteem and expectation.

Jacques-Alain Miller