“There are thus good reasons why a child sucking at his mother’s breast has become the prototype of every relation of love” .
In his Three Essays Freud gives a definition of love which places it beyond time, since he finds its prototype in the child at the breast. Such a figure is timeless because it is ab aeterno, either eternal or even structural. Far from depending on the chance of encounters, on some little story, it lies in a place that knows no real event since it is based on an it is written . The child at the breast is not inscribed in the surprises of the passing of time but rather in eternity, where it joins Christ on the cross in the same adoration. Christian paintings have brought together both figures in the same iconography, repeated over and over again for many centuries. This model, a true indelible image, also illustrates a definition of love, which J.-A. Miller describes as stunning, since it is a love addressed to no one, but to an object .
This object is strange in more than one way. Lacan first places it as belonging to the body of the child itself, the cut passing between this object and the mother. He bases this remark on what he calls the mammal organisation, where the child is a sort of parasite. Since the foetus first develops inside an egg, which then becomes the placenta, it logically follows that child and placenta together form an initial unit. During childbirth, therefore, the child will not separate so much from its mother’s body as from its envelopes and weaning, namely the loss of the object, which begins at birth. Since the relationship of the child with the breast is homologous to its relationship with the placenta, the logical consequence is that the breast is an amboceptor organ plastered onto the mother’s body, a sort of intermediary between mother and child. On the mother’s side, the cut passes elsewhere, not between her and the child, but between her and this obsolete object that is the placenta. In other words, the object in question between her and the child does not belong to either of them. This anatomical development made by Lacan in the last two parts of his Seminar Anxiety, unusual though it may be in his teaching, is nevertheless situated under the aegis of the signifier, its logic, in fact its topology .
The strangeness of this object is also due to the fact that one can no longer touch or stroke it as, due to castration, it has disappeared. Freud qualifies it a lost object, and logically remarks that the object is never found, but refound. It will then have changed in nature since in order to replace the lost object it can only be a fetish. And it is only of value to remind us of the one we have lost, especially through speaking – breastfeeding or speaking, one has to choose. It therefore stands out against a background of castration and comes to the place previously drawn by -phi. This object, which therefore has more to do with eroticism than with food, thus gives love a depth of perversion in the sense that one never loves in the Other but a small part of oneself. This is clearly shown by Philip Roth in his short novel The Breast, where the narrator much adored, if not exclusively, this attribute of his partner that he turned into this very object. It was obviously a breast of a particular status since it was also a penis, the narrator constantly asking his partner to use it as if it were the same thing. If she did not like oral sex before his metamorphosis, it was however what he asked her more than ever afterwards when the gland was replaced by a gigantic nipple: «I want her to do it all the time, that she devotes herself to this every minute that she spends with me. I don’t want to talk to her anymore. I don’t want her to read to me anymore … All I want is for her to squeeze, suck and lick me. I can’t stand it if she stops» . Therefore, in this case the fetish was the phallus which was itself the penis which does not exist!
André Gide developed the same kind of passion as Roth’s narrator even if the fetish had a completely different aspect. If their marriage was a white one, Madeleine being struck for him by a radical noli tangere, and if he never ceased to be satisfied with boys with brown skin who neither think nor write, their couple was not lacking in libido. The latter was condensed mainly into a special object which were the letters he kept writing to her since he fell in love with her as a teenager. In them he recognized nothing less than his child, the finest correspondence ever written to a woman, and remained inconsolable at its destruction by Madeleine when she realized that he loved elsewhere. He devoted many pages to his love for her, but what he loved most was the object he addressed to her whenever she was away. It was an object with which he blocked the hole of desireless love, but an object that no longer existed when he spoke of it in pathetic terms after its destruction. It was with this object that he engaged in love in order to make it something stronger than time, aiming therefore at eternity: «No one can suspect what the love of a uranist (homosexual) is. … something embalmed against time» . It was a definition of love that was well worth another because it was commensurate with what love, maternal or not, implies, namely a challenge against time – «A love that is not believed to be eternal is odious» .
Translation : Polina Agapaki
Proof-read: Ivana Maffrand
Picture : ©Jean Fouquet
 Freud S., Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, volume VII, (London, Vintage 2001), p. 222.
 Miller, J.-A., « Introduction à l’érotique du temps », La Cause Freudienne, Paris, Navarin, mars 2004, n°56, p. 78.
 Miller, J.-A., « L’orientation lacanienne. Les divins détails. »(1989), enseignement prononcé dans le cadre du département de psychanalyse de l’université Paris 8. Leçon du 8 mars 1989. Inédit.
 Lacan, J., Le Séminaire, livre X, L’Angoisse (1962-1963), texte établi par J.-A. Miller, Paris, Seuil, p. 194-198 et 269-270.
 Roth, Ph., Le sein, Paris, Gallimard, Folio, 1972, p. 59-60.
 Schlumberger, J., Madeleine et André Gide, Paris, Gallimard, 1956, p. 193. Cité par Lacan, J., « Jeunesse de Gide », Ecrits, Paris, Seuil 1966, p. 754.
 Stendhal cité par J.-A. Miller, « Introduction à l’érotique du temps », op. cit, p. 72.