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Jacques-Alain Miller (1944–)

The driving force behind the Cahiers pour l’Analyse from its inception, Jacques-Alain Miller is today the director of the department of psychoanalysis at the Université de Paris-VIII. He is widely recognized as the most prominent Lacanian psychoanalyst in France, as a public intellectual, a practicing analyst, and as the head of ‘L’École de la Cause Freudienne’, the institutional base for Jacques Lacan’s legacy founded by Miller shortly after Lacan’s death in 1981. A controversial figure both within and beyond the psychoanalytic community, Miller was personally appointed by Lacan to oversee the continued posthumous publication of his seminar, a venture which remains ongoing.

Miller’s first publication was an interview with Jean-Paul Sartre conducted when Miller was 16 years old. Miller entered the École Normale Supérieure in 1962 and was introduced to Lacanian psychoanalysis shortly thereafter when Louis Althusser suggested that he consult Lacan’s published essays and begin to follow his teaching. As a participant in Althusser’s ‘Reading Capital’ seminar, he was credited with coining the concept of ‘metonymic causality’. During the course of Lacan’s 11th Seminar, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (1964), Miller’s questions concerning the ontology subtending Lacan’s concept of lack impressed Lacan, and initiated a relationship between Miller and Lacan that would be professional as well as personal; Miller married Lacan’s daughter Judith Miller in 1966.

Following the May events of 1968, Miller, along with Jean-Claude Milner, Alain Grosrichard, and other editors of the Cahiers, undertook a series of political engagements under the aegis of the Maoist group, the Gauche Prolétarienne; Miller worked and organised in the factories in Besançon for a spell. Over the course of the 1970s, however, he all but abandoned political engagement for an exclusive focus on Lacan’s teaching of psychoanalysis. In 1975, he launched the journal Ornicar? and virtually ceased to produce new works in his own name, devoting himself to the promotion of Lacan’s ideas. Miller’s seminars are regularly published in Spanish in Argentina, where he has a large audience. In 2001, he re-emerged as a public figure in France in response to government attempts to regulate the teaching and training of psychoanalysts. Since then he has maintained a consistent record of publication and intellectual intervention, both in France and the Anglophone context, primarily through the journal lacanian ink.

Apart from his essential editorial role, Miller’s two contributions to the Cahiers are among the most important articles of the enterprise, forming the basis of critical engagements in the journal by Alain Badiou, François Regnault, and Jean-Claude Milner. In ‘La Suture: Éléments d’une logique du signifiant’, published in volume 1, Miller introduced the argument that subjectivity is produced by a suture that establishes the chain of his discourse through the very act of covering over a primordial lack (of self-identity). In ‘Action de la structure’, written prior to ‘La Suture’ but published only in volume 9, Miller (along with his collaborators Milner and Yves Duroux) proposed a minimal theory of the subject, a sort of ‘vanishing subject’, designed to be compatible with an Althusserian account of structural causality on the one hand and a Lacanian theory of science and language on the other. Miller’s approach to these questions anticipates some of the work subsequently undertaken by his student Slavoj Žižek. Miller recently collected his early theoretical work, including other Cahiers-related pieces such as ‘U ou “Il n’y a pas de méta-langage”’ (1967) and ‘Matrice’ (1968) in Un Début dans la vie (2002).

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse:

Jacques-Alain Miller, ‘Avertissement’, CpA 1.Introduction [HTML] [PDF] [SYN] [TRANS]
Jacques-Alain Miller, ‘La Suture (Éléments de la logique du signifiant)’, CpA 1.3 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN] [TRANS]
Jacques-Alain Miller, ‘Supplement: Les graphes de Jacques Lacan’, CpA 2.7 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Jaques-Alain Miller, ‘Avertissement: Concept de la ponctuation’, CpA 5.Introduction [HTML] [PDF] [SYN] [TRANS]
Jacques-Alain Miller & François Regnault, ‘Avertissement, L’Orientation du roman’, CpA 7.Introduction [HTML] [PDF] [SYN] [TRANS]
Jacques-Alain Miller & Jean-Claude Milner, ‘Avertissement, Nature de l’impensée’, CpA 8.Introduction [HTML] [PDF] [SYN] [TRANS]
Jacques-Alain Miller, ‘Action de la structure’, CpA 9.6 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN] [TRANS]

Select bibliography

  • ‘Entretien avec Jean-Paul Sartre’. Cahiers libres de la jeunesse 1 (January 1960). Reprinted in Un Début dans la vie. Paris: Gallimard, 2002.
  • ‘Entretien avec Serge Reggiani’. Cahiers libres de la jeunesse 1 (January 1960). Reprinted in Un Début dans la vie.
  • ‘Réflexions intempestives’. Cahiers libres de la jeunesse 2 (March 1960). Reprinted in Un Début dans la vie.
  • ‘Hamlet, ou Le désespoir et la liberté’. Intended for Cahiers libres de la jeunesse 3 (May 1960), but the text was unpublished, and remained at the proof stage. Reprinted in Un Début dans la vie.
  • ‘Portrait du passionné’. Intended for Cahiers libres de la jeunesse 3 (May 1960), but the text was unpublished, and remained at the proof stage. Reprinted in Un Début dans la vie.
  • ‘Fonction de la formation théorique’. Cahiers marxistes-léninistes 1 (1965). Reprinted in Un Début dans la vie.
  • ‘Les Pouvoirs de la littérature’, Cahiers marxistes-léninistes 8 (1966). Reprinted in Un Début dans la vie.
  • ‘Jeremy Bentham’s Panoptic Device’ [1973], October 41 (Summer 1987).
  • ‘Matrice’, Ornicar? 4 (1975). ‘Matrix’, trans. Daniel Collins. lacanian ink 12 (Fall 1997). [Written in 1968]. Reprinted in Un Début dans la vie.
  • ‘U ou “Il n’y a pas de méta-langage”’. Ornicar? 5 (1975/76). [Written in 1967]. Reprinted in Un Début dans la vie.
  • Politique lacanienne: 1997-1998. Paris: École de la cause freudienne, 2001.
  • Lettres à l’opinion éclairée. Paris. Seuil, 2002.
  • Un Début dans la vie. Paris: Gallimard, 2002.
  • Le Neveu de Lacan: satire. Paris: Verdier, 2003.
  • Voulez-vous être évalué? (with Jean-Claude Milner). Paris: Grasset, 2004.
  • Le Secret des dieux. Paris: Navarin, 2005.
  • A complete hyperlinked bibliography of Miller’s writings translated into English can be found at: