translated by Josefina Ayerza
THE EXILED SUBJECT AS TO THE OTHER SEX
From relation to failure is how I summarized the path I covered, and hope to have made you cover as well.
For the proposition "from relation to failure" to make sense, the concept of relation at work in Lacan had to be isolated. All-present, multiform, the actual concept abides to a degree that is not even explicit, nor authenticated, till it meets with a sort of breakdown at the level of the sexual proper. Again, once Lacan discerned it he still needed time to understand, to turn the breakdown itself into a new departure in his deduction.
I say the sexual proper is to be understood inversely with regard to what Freud inferred from sexuality, thus his argument is, so to speak, broad. Once discovered it is what made for utmost scandal, sexuality exceeding the domain it had been confined to, ahead of him.
In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality,1 Freud exposes the sexuality already present, discernible in the child's behavior for instance, and pervading the discourses, deeds, art, culture. It becomes evermore dilated.
As Lacan applies himself to reformulate it, lays it out in a new way, he gives a restrained concept of what is properly sexual. Thus it concerns the rapport to the Other sex, to the Other body as sexed, and specially as sexed differently - body to body, sexed body to sexed body. In so constricting the range of sexuality, in focusing the sexual on the body to body, the sexed body to sexed body he demonstrates - as well in retrieving Freud on this angle - that again the dominating relation, in parole and in language, in communication as in articulation, is here undone or not constituted. At the time of sexual jouissance, the rapport you count upon, the rapport that should be there is replaced by failure, or takes the form of failure.
To state "there is sexual failure," is to say the object is never the one, more precisely in the sense that the subject, insofar as it is incarnated, never accedes in turn to the Other sex. And this is a translation of the proposition "there is no such thing as sexual rapport" that seems rightful to me. There is here a sort of exile, a barrier. With jouissance, on first approach - it is a kind of starting point - the Other does not exist.
1Lacan had already beheld and formalized it - at least as a proposition - in the Freudian language of the theory of drives. In The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis,2 while addressing the Freudian concept, he stresses that drive is but partial drive.
This premise is already an outline of what finds its imprint in the axiom "there is no such thing as sexual rapport." Therefore if drive - provided it represents sexuality in the unconscious - is but partial drive, access to the Other of the opposite sex does not occur in any unifying, global way, which is nonexistent at the level of drive. The access is only plausible through recourse to partial drives.
That is to say, in Freudian terms, crossbreeds of Lacan, that drive won't allow access to the Other as such. It will only reach it to turn it into the object of a partial drive. Thus it's always an excerpt.
Somewhere Lacan uses the expression "corporeal excerpt" to qualify what he calls the objet a. It entails a debasement of the Other, having it demeaned from the status of Other as such to the rank of the objet a of drive. And this is the path Lacan follows when entitling his Seminar D'un autre à l'Autre.3 Here, based on the modified Freudian theory of drives, he already says that there is no such thing as sexual rapport, that is reducing drives to be but partial drives. There is no rapport to the Other, but always only rapport to the object.
So is, moreover - this "moreover" connects the articulation to another approach - the Lacanian sense of castration. Much of what Lacan has brought about along theses themes has a hold on an audacious combination of the Freudian castration complex and the theory of drives.
Before going further into the obscure zone you circle and come across with precaution, Lacan achieved in an entire part of his teaching an immixture between the castration complex and the theory of drives.
This is what the upper line in his graph summarizes, where he draws a big vector going from jouissance to castration.
Yet the difficult zone through which you are moving forward supposes that you pull out, that you let go of the conceptual inveigling that Lacan has accomplished, and that always articulates jouissance with castration, that is a phallic function, which in any case gives this articulation a very different value.
Let's take on a level where there is rapport.
With Lacan there is rapport in what you commonly call the mother-child relation. He demonstrates it in his own way in La relation d'objet. 4 This Seminar, which devotes numerous developments to the mother-child relation, recalls the mother is a woman, that in this she suffers as a result of her castration. Thus she has an imaginary nostalgia for the phallus, and this nostalgia she deludes through her son, who so finds himself - as Freud indicates as the phallus' substitute. In this, the woman, the mother, is subject to the sign of castration.
Lacan varies, at the mercy of his elaboration, on what would be for him allowed under the sign of castration, as satisfactions.
In "The signification of the phallus" 5 for instance, he stresses she finds her satisfaction in looking for the phallus as signifier of her desire in the body of the man - of the man she loves. In Seminar IV, with no doubt, she rather makes up for her lack through the body of her son. At the beginning of Encore,6 Lacan still says, in accordance with the outline developed in Seminar IV, that in the sexual rapport the woman is the mother. In Seminar IV, he further accentuates the mother as a woman, yet at the start of Encore he emphasizes a woman as always the mother, and that she has an essential rapport to the object in the figure of the child. The child is verily the cork that suits what is named after a term evidently displacing something, a "not-all" of her jouissance.
I here put aside the vacillation, which in a sense, emphasizes the assertion that a woman has a rapport to the phallus. And she has a rapport to the child, but you will not find that she has this kind of rapport to the man. It is all but the man. Truly, the man, the male, in the sexual rapport, has a privileged rapport to the phallus - what I've labeled his fundamental stupidity. The reminder appears in Encore, "In the sexual rapport, man comes in only quoad castrationem, insofar as he has a rapport to phallic jouissance."7
In place of the sexual rapport, there is rapport to the phallus. Lacan wrote the existence of this rapport making the phallus a function in which the subject is inscribed as variable.
It is the writing, in the form of function and variable, of what Lacan calls rapport. As you know, in "L'Étourdit," 8 he demonstrates how, on their own, each one of the sexes is in rapport to the phallic function, and in a hedged rapport on one and the other side, in both cases marked by castration.
This is what castration means; the sexual is forever marked by a structural negativity. The structural negativity comes out in the fact that a rapport is posited, gets established, from a subject of one sex to the phallus, and does not get inscribed by a rapport to the partner sexed differently. This is the value Lacan bestows on the universal allotted to the castration complex. Thus the Old Testament conjectures that Sodom will suit the man and Gomorrah the woman. In Lacan, after Freud, you read that the man will have the phallus, and then the woman will also have it. In both cases, as embarrassment, as lack, a substitute to be looked for, yet essentially, what you call their sexuality will be there conditioned, determined. To have it - the organ - is to be afraid of losing it; to not have it is to be in search of it. To have it or not to have it, anyway it is not the being. Thus everywhere you find structural negativities. The notation which is to not be it - to be the phallus - indicates that each time you get interested in desire, you meet with identifications. Desire is as such embarrassed with identifications.
Lacan certainly turned identification into an imaginary phenomenon. He was able to retrieve it in a symbolic structure, but it affects desire in all cases. When you make the effort to tackle jouissance directly you discover a completely other thing. This is what Lacan attempts in Seminar XX. Rather than being absent from its references the phallus is here taken into account as it enters the scene qua phallic jouissance. The fact changes many things since it defines the phallus through phallic jouissance.
Take "The signification of the phallus" as reference. "The signification of the phallus" essentially implies to find out, to posit the phallus as a signifier, and by the same token an identification vehicle. The signifying phallus is au fond phallic identification.
When you read what Lacan conveys in Encore, from this perspective, with this reference, the essential is not that the phallus is a signifier, but that it is a jouissance, and even the model of jouissance. The phallus is the model of jouissance. For, seized in the idiocy of the practice that attests to it, it incarnates the non-rapport in the Other - the non-rapport in the Other that I have stressed by drawing a curled vector, indicating that the vector of this jouissance doesn't go further, does not relate to the Other.
Inasmuch as jouissance is sexual it is phallic. Yet the first statute of jouissance is not sexual. It's status is phallic, that is "it is not in rapport to the Other as such."
And this is why Lacan, in Seminar XX, brings straightaway, next to jouissance, his Other, that is to say love - represented by a vector going from one point to the other. In the returning vector you find a fundamental cell from Lacan's graph.
The whole graph is constructed over this coming and going. It is altogether in its place with regard to love. You know le Witz of Lacan that says, "love is always reciprocal," a proposition to be taken with a grain of salt.
Lacan doesn't stretch the paradox to the point of saying, "If I love you, you love me," as this would be denied by the facts. As he was content along thirty years of teaching with saying "love is always reciprocal" without ever explaining it, you are compelled to do it, that is to say attempt it. I think it most likely means - in that it is reciprocal, yet not inevitably crowned with success - "If I love you; it's that you are lovable." At this level it is indisputable. Evidently - "If you are lovable, you are a bit responsible that I love you, you may be owing me something." But this bearing is hardly convincing.
See why you have, at the beginning of Encore, this couple that may appear preposterous, of jouissance and of love.
To say jouissance is phallic is fundamentally to state it is the jouissance of the idiot, that is to say - as it has always been labeled - solitary. The base of this perspective is the solitary status of jouissance. That is why the emphasis there, this proposition itself, implies or is implied in the axiom "There is no such thing as sexual rapport." At the point of jouissance, as for it being basically solitary, in that it seizes its model in the phallic jouissance of the idiot, there is no sexual rapport. Again this would imply a jouissance that wouldn't be solitary but rather, if I may say so, solidary.
It would do for a good slogan - jouissance's solidarity.
Besides, in every occasion you look for that. There are subjects that search for it with passion, as they believe simultaneity assures solidarity. It's pushing too far, toughening what you already know, that the demand of jouissance creates difficulties in the rapport to the Other.
It is noticeable, for instance, in the protests which the Other confined to a sexual object brings about. It was a bringing-in of contemporary feminism which emphasized that "Women are against being confined to the sexual object." It's an ideal, which makes for even more difficulty when the fantasme is not in perfect consonance, or is even contradictory.
Someone, a woman, avowed this week that "between what I say and what I jouis, there are two." She avowed herself partaking of the contemporary ideal I evoked earlier, yet found that in her fantasmes she needed, on the other hand, to further imagine herself mistreated as to attain jouissance.
The actual jouissance then, takes on some difficulty as to the rapport to the Other, and in the assumption of the statute that you imagine should prevail in the intersubjective relation, between two subjects.
The mark of the difficulty entailing jouissance as to the rapport to the Other is already at the onset of Lacan's teaching.
In Lacan's first definition of libido, the one that helped to construct "The mirror stage..."9 for him, there is a relation. The imaginary relation a-a', where the libido circulates, presents - based on Freud's "On Narcissism: An Introduction"10 - a relation perfectly established at the level of jouissance, at the level of the libidinal. Yet at the same time, the relation intervenes in a noxious way, it darkens the very intersubjective relation. You can see here the elements I take, not all, from Lacan's four corners scheme.
The axis where the libido is inscribed comes to interfere with the symbolic relation - of the subject and the Other, and even interrupts it. There is already here a sort of outline over the difficulty jouissance raises in the genuine true relation to the Other. Yet it comes as a difficulty. In the analytical experience you have to surmount the jouissance relation, the libidinal relation, to make way for the true relation to the Other.
Except that, with extraordinary optimism, Lacan sustains that if the direction of the cure is well orientated, in the end it won't count; it obeys in the very existence of the subject. For sure imaginary jouissance is always being dragged; it is slow, loaded, relatively inert, but at the end of the day the direction will keep going.
The first page of "Le séminaire sur La Lettre volée," starts up the Écrits. 11 It fixes the orientation in the reading of Lacan. "You know the importance of imaginary impregnations in the symbolic alternative setting the pace for the signifying chain." Thus you recognize the imaginary libidinal impregnations are important, but you posit the law proper to these signifying chains, the symbolic relation S-A rules over the determinant psychoanalytic effects, leaving the others in the situation of being determined. These psychoanalytic determinant effects, as negation, repression, foreclosure, etc., follow the displacement of the signifier with utmost fidelity, that is they obey the logic of the symbolic relation to the Other. Thus, despite their inertia, imaginary factors - in the first rank the libido, which is for Lacan at this time imaginary -"appear here only as shadows and reflections."
I translated it saying that here jouissance, at the end of the day doesn't count, yet it obeys. And even if it is in tow, it will follow the symbolic displacement that intervenes in the authentic relation to the Other. But I see here, in what I emphasize of this scheme, the outline of what is developed in Encore, namely that between man and woman there is a wall, and that wall is phallic jouissance.
Here, it is not in tow, it doesn't obey at all, and at times, the blablabla that steps in is but shadows and reflections. In an acute manner, between Écrits and Seminar XX, there is a kind of inversion which translates precisely the reduction of the word to the blablabla.
What at the start gets posited by Lacan as shadows and reflections, are the imaginary libidinal factors, it's the fixation of jouissance, etc. And of course the perspective is the total opposite, to the point where you may reduce the symbolic relation to the Other to the blablabla, with regard to the lock of jouissance, closed over itself, between brackets, "autoerotic."
There is an American novel called The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It is a good title, meaning, "You look for the Other, and you look for it all by yourself." Here, in this zone you explore, you could come up with the opposite formula "jouissance is a solitary prey." Yet here you don't hunt, it's simply there, and together the solitude is not healed by a hunting party.
2What is striking is that Lacan, proceeding into the dark zone, however, abandons the Freudian language of drives. From The Freudian drive he extracts jouissance.
Why does he abandon the Freudian language of drives? To me, he abandons it, because he has elaborated on the drive as demand. And this you find in the most classic texts of Lacan, to which you refer first and foremost, indeed, as "The direction of the treatment...,"12 or "The subversion of the subject and the dialectic of desire..."13 where there is Lacan's grand graph of desire.
The grand graph you use as a reference, what is it along the stages of its construction? It's a deduction - Lacan uses this word in the actual text - which parts from the unconscious, defined as a signifier chain, which repeats itself and insists past the veneers, the desiderata, so to say, of the subject. In the frame of this deduction Lacan strains things so as to define drive as a demand, certainly an utmost form of the demand.
What he proposes as an algorithm, a matheme of drive, is a certain rapport between the subject of the signifier and demand (S<>D). He yet specifies "It is not a demand like the others." It is a demand where the subject disappears, where demand disappears as well, where all that remains is the signifying cut - the cut you find in the Freudian concept of the erogenous zone as well as in the concept of the partial object. Certainly it is a modified demand, though the most important, I would say, is that it remains envisaged from the demand and as a form of demand. And it's conditioned by the style of its deduction proper.
Starting from the unconscious and from the unconscious as discourse, the central question animating the grand graph and its astute machinery is "who is talking?" - precisely who is talking when you talk of unconscious. Lacan's reply, with which he sweeps away all of the Freudian conception, is that the subject talks in diverse modes, there are different modes as to its message.
Essentially it could be the Other that talks, and the subject is but the way back to the Other's parole, etc. I'm not going into what, from the gazebo where you are, appears as details, yet leads to that; in this vein also drive is parole. Lacan, without releasing this proposition which is my own invention - drive is parole - leads you into it.
How to deduce the concept of drive in this frame? The deduction, I say is made up from "who is talking?"
Who talks when you talk of unconscious? It is the subject of the unconscious who talks. Only that the subject of the unconscious cannot be addressed at the level of the uttered, you cannot say it's there in the uttered as the subject that talks. After Lacan's deduction, the subject of the unconscious you address from an organic location, from the oral, anal, etc. I quote it often, now somehow in a more cavalier fashion. And he says, "That is drive." It is the designation of the subject of the unconscious. When you can no longer discern who is talking, well! now then! you call on drive to say - It talks, it continues to talk.
In other words, bestowing the privilege to the communication scheme, making way for the symbolic relation to the Other, drive finds itself defined - I barely stress his terms - as the unconscious uttering. How he expresses it - it is not clear if it's the location or the concept of drive - "it is all the more far from talking the more it talks." This proposition somehow entangled in the phrase, I simplify, I think faithfully, saying, all in all, the lesson is that drive is word.
See what he's done with the Freudian language of drives, with the Freudian theory of drives, he brought it back to be parole. And I say it is because of that, he further puts aside the actual concept of drive and extracts jouissance.
See how far Lacan stretches things. It is not simply an outline. He strictly casts off drive as a signifying chain.
There is here the place of vocabulary, of glossary, there is the signifying chain, with its comeback, there is even its signified, that runs underneath, and that he calls desire. And to achieve completeness, for it to be a well constituted signifying chain, he even adds a point de capiton, here in its place.
In other words, he assimilates drive to the communication scheme, to the point of having a sort of second big Other - the big Other of drive with its supply of drive signifiers. However being utterly precise, he doesn't develop it enough because it's very extreme to measure up the objects of drive to signifiers. He calls it the superior signifying chain of the graph, with the constitutive signifiers being the terms of drive. He says, "it gets done in terms of drive and, precisely, unconscious desire becomes the signified of the signifying drive chain."
I don't see another possible reading of the graph. Lacan outlined that, something in the facts, something resists the radicality, and he'll perceive it later.
Question and answer he contemplates at the level of drive, a question directed to the Other as treasure of the signifiers, a question over the signifier's value, and a reply which would be the drive reply, S(A). I will not linger on the details. I'm trying to evince the degree of the total assimilation of drive to a signifying chain. There is the chain, the treasure of the signifiers, the point de capiton, and the signified. It is all there, a full service. Drive is altogether equipped as an unconscious message.
You can ask the question at a well located point, a crossroad in Lacan's teaching - need, demand, desire. Where is drive? This construal of Lacan certainly makes of desire the vector of the signifier, and all that is signifier is as well demand.
Lacan highlights many types of demand. Three at least. There is the demand for need. Hitherto the quest of the object of need has to go through the apparatus of language. It's developed in Seminar IV, for example, and there, as a derived effect, you have the vector of desire.
Secondly, there is the demand for love, and already there love is the function introducing the Other as such. Not only the object it may give, but also the love sign. And in Lacan's Écrits he inscribes desire between those two forms of demand. As he says, "desire hollows between one side and the other." You see the desire between the demand for need and the demand for love.
But there is a third one. There is the demand for jouissance, which is drive, which likewise Lacan doesn't cease to assimilate to a form of demand.
For a long time I've been interrogating myself with regard to "The subversion of the subject...," over the marked gap between the construction of the graph and the final development. You don't get to fit the little pegs into the little holes. Another perspective is inscribed in the next five or six pages. It's done from a development which contradicts it enough, a development on jouissance as such.
Drive once cast off, drive in the scheme of communication, so scarcely satisfies the exigency of disclosing what it's about, that the extraction of the concept of jouissance becomes a must. And Lacan adds regarding jouissance as such, jouissance as completely different than what it is in the concept of drive. He doesn't talk at all of jouissance as a message that has its treasure of signifiers, its point de capiton. You have a development on jouissance as such. For sure, Lacan found the way specially connecting it over that S(A), that point de capiton.
3The whole graph is constructed over the question of desire: "What do you want?" - besides it's called the graph of desire. And Lacan articulates the end of his text on the question of jouissance which is, "What am I?," and which is not the same.
What is jouissance in "The subversion of the subject...?" It is the text which announces the constructions of Encore.
You already find a reflection about jouissance centered on the phallus, and a certain outline of the concept of phallic jouissance, certainly confusing since it still deals with the phallus as signifier. Yet you see develop, as if aside - with extremely audacious efforts to articulate both - a reflection on phallic jouissance as such, as predestined to shape jouissance. The actual sentence announces already the notion that the model of jouissance is phallic jouissance. And this brings in source elements within the Seminars.
In doing this Lacan opposes two kinds of libido: a circulating libido that goes from the ego to the exterior world in terms of narcissism - the libido that is transfusable - and a fixed libido, stagnant - the libido of phallic autoeroticism. I quote, "The imaginary function is that which Freud formulated to govern the investment of the object as narcissistic object." 14 It is the classical reference to "On Narcissism: An Introduction" that Lacan renders libido as being actually at the imaginary level, at the level of the mirror stage. "It was to this point that I returned myself when I showed that the specular image is the channel taken by the transfusion of the body's libido towards the object." But he adds, "...a part of it remains preserved from this immersion, concentrating within it the most intimate aspect of autoeroticism..." etc. The preserved part in this circulation is the phallic part proper. In opposing these two forms of libido - the libido that gets transfused and the one that stays fixed - there is already the outline of what he will later develop stating: "the model of jouissance is this stagnant and phallic part of the libido."
Here you understand what remains quite enigmatic without it - I somehow bypassed it for want of seeing where to exactly place it - that is, Lacan's placement of a development on the interdiction of jouissance. He privileges this approach, jouissance as forbidden, as guilty. And this is not its prevalent value in Encore where jouissance is first introduced as useless.
What does that respond to?
Actually, from this point of view, you grasp what this approach responds to. "You won't jouis like an idiot" is the canonical formula imposing the exigency of going toward the Other to jouir. The approach of the paradox allows for you not to have to stay - it's taken in the imperative mode, injunctive - at the level of phallic jouissance. Thus, in dealing with interdiction and guilt, the case is the opposition between the solitary status of phallic jouissance and hereafter the relation to the Other, which Lacan will treat as such in Encore while laying it bare of its faded finery of guilt and interdictions. Yet, starting to deal with phallic jouissance as such, he approaches it through interdiction and guilt, that is through the opposition between jouissance's autoerotic status and the relation to the Other. At this stage it translates as phallic jouissance's necessary castration; what leads him to write the higher vector between jouissance and castration.
The vector from jouissance to castration is the expression that, in Encore, vests the phallic jouissance in its opposition to love, that is in the rapport to the Other. At this time though it is not grasped by the aspect that you may think of as lovable or love; it's grasped as castration.
Here you surmise the text's last phrase, which sounds like a great saying of Lacan, worthy of Salomon - to whom he moreover compares himself in Encore while saying he's a type of his kind, a senti-maître. That is verily a phrase of senti-master you may recall. It has puzzled me for a long time, and I've given it in different versions. "Castration," he says, "means that jouissance must be refused in order to be attained on the inverse scale of the Law of desire." 15
How does this translate? - not in French, the French is excellent, but schematically. This says that castration is the refusal of phallic jouissance. It would have helped if he had said it. Phallic jouissance has to be refused - it's castration - to attain the jouissance of the Other.
The Law of desire - the law of desire is the law of the desire of the Other - compels you to renounce solitary jouissance, so that in the relation to the Other you recapture another sort of jouissance, and for you to capture what could be sexual jouissance, much as it opposes phallic jouissance - the jouissance of the sexed Other.
That introduces a core problem as to what happens at the extreme of the vector - hanging on whether you emphasize the jouissance of the Other, or whether you emphasize what needs to happen for it to take place, namely the subject's castration.
In other words, from this scheme, two clinical figures are in essence deducible.
First you can put the emphasis on the jouissance of the Other, assuming the Other wants to jouir. Lacan develops it as the perverse version of the renouncement of phallic jouissance - assuming the Other wants to jouir - thereby I assist the jouissance of the Other, I make myself the instrument of the jouissance of the Other.
The second version is the neurotic version, the one to emphasize castration of the subject proper. At that moment it is not straight away "the Other wants to jouir," it is "the Other demands my castration." That is to say, for the neurotic the Law is but a demand coming from the Other. From here his pretence may be questioned. Lacan translates it saying that the neurotic "imagines that the Other demands his castration." Where the perverse recognizes, admits the jouissance of the Other, the neurotic, above all - if I may say so - sensible, is led into what from the side of the Other would be his demand of castration, which reduces the law of desire to a castration demand.
This is why Lacan can develop what is at stake at the end of analysis as the refusal of the neurotic subject to sacrifice his castration on behalf of the jouissance of the Other. This also explains his paradoxical assertion: "To him the Other doesn't exist." It is not understandable. That means - to him the Other does not exist, insofar as only phallic jouissance has full value. In this instance he refuses the sacrifice required for the Other to exist. He does not want it to exist. Lacan argues "If he existed he would jouir my castration."
The scheme I am laying out here, confirms, for those who have racked their brain on these texts, most of these propositions. And for the others, it may clarify their first reading, provided they want to do it.
"Beyond the Other's demand you have to bear with the will of the Other." Here Lacan deals with different modes of submission to castration, with different modes of refusal to phallic jouissance and distinguishes two paths which carry on in the following way: calling upon Buddhism on one side, and upon the lost Cause on the other - the struggle for narcissism of the lost Cause.
On the one hand he opposes the will of an almighty Other impelling the suppression of phallic jouissance and confining the subject to be but what the Other jouis - thus to a masochistic position, except that it isn't a masquerade, except that in this Other you believe. It is the object's position, and the position of objet a. The second version - the one of the lost Cause - is the one to admit, to know that the Other is a counterfeit jewel, that the Other is doomed, does not exist and is nevertheless glorified till death by attachment to its own image.
Here Lacan sets up the question as whether to incarnate the ethics of psychoanalysis into the narcissism of Antigone. There is an echo of this in Encore where Lacan, years later, again calls upon Buddhism and the rapport between jouissance and knowledge.
Throughout the hasty yet concatenated distance covered, you discern an articulation between phallic jouissance and the jouissance of the Other. The end of "The subversion of the subject..." is already founded over a dialectic between phallic jouissance and the jouissance of the Other by the bias of castration. Yet you are not completely there, because what you're being presented with is, in fact, the figure of an Other particularly present, heavy, whose intentions in any case aren't good. From whatever bias you approach this scheme, the law of desire goes through a refusal, a tearing apart, a sacrifice you can happily consent to, or refuse yourself to, but that draws up the image of an Other particularly horrible, exigent, not to say cruel.
The figure is completely absent from Encore. You are not dealing with the actual pathology anymore, with the romanticism of the Other displayed there to articulate the phallic jouissance and the jouissance of the Other.
If there is what I call romanticism it's because of castration being the pivot of articulation between phallic jouissance and jouissance of the Other. When Lacan takes up this articulation he's far enough from the communication affair. There, a completely different functioning is added to the context. Yet from the moment it gets centered around castration, a horrifying discourse of jouissance ensues, a terrifying discourse, and there are the big organs to make themselves heard. It contrasts a lot with the spontaneous side of Encore, where the terrifying figure has no place at all. On the contrary, the matter in Encore is God, a God in rapport to the jouissance of Woman, that rather is the God next to whom Dante's Beatrice is present, and then you have the evocation of the baroque oeuvre. All these dramatics completely disappear, and the articulation of phallic jouissance and of the jouissance of the Other happens in a very different tone.
It should be said that in the meantime Lacan generalizes castration to a point where it looses all dramatic character. Conversely, it is restated at the level where there is a loss of jouissance due to the incidence as such of language over the body. Thus, there, you don't need to awaken the semblance of the agent of castration ready to take it all from you. Present in these last pages of "The subversion of the subject..." there still is some of the dramatic sense that can be experienced by the subject. Yet with the theory, you are not obliged to immediately echo all the horrible phenomenology that it imports, and that is eventually legitimated at the level of the analysand. But in Encore you don't need the figure of the agent of castration, it is rendered to the status of semblance. The case is a waste, a loss of jouissance, castration being but the dramatic figure, as if there was the need of the figure of an Other to attain it, even when that is attained in the real and with no more dramatics than the universal laws of gravity. At that moment you don't talk of castration, you say, "There is no such thing as sexual rapport," a formula that says the same thing, yet in a sober and tranquil way, and that eventually tries to adopt a scientific pace so as to treat it. Love is as well a figure, certainly more smiling, which Lacan brings about to embody the rapport to the Other.
Who, in a much more grounded way represents the rapport to the Other, which you cannot of course do without? You are not a population of idiots. You organize, you do things together. What implements the actual relation to the Other, the very moment Lacan serenely takes phallic jouissance and re-centers things over it? In my view it's quite simply the concept of discourse that becomes for him essential. He's challenged by the fact of isolating the autoerotic - the lock level. And there is no sexual rapport - that lets you separate from the Other at the sexual level - but instead there are discourses, and in those discourses well-organized relations to the Other. It's all the more essential that there be discourses. This is why Lacan brings up this concept there, at the same time that he further isolates the subject in its jouissance. While he isolates it, the concept of discourse compensates it. It's even more essential that, in the destruction of the relation, the break down in the relation - as I quickly indicated - gets to disarticulate the signifier and the signified.
When Lacan says "there is no such thing as sexual rapport," he's not saying only that, he gives the boot to his communication scheme. He says, "There is no such thing as dialogue," thus there is some difficulty listening to each other
There is no such thing as dialogue means, based on there not being such thing as sexual rapport, that there is no such thing as rapport signifier-signified. Contrariwise, all Lacan demonstrated before, was to try and find a rapport signifier-signified. He so much thought there was one, he had isolated the two principal forms, tuned them with the rapport signifier-signified, metaphor and metonymy. Thus he wrote - always in the form of function - that the signified is a function of the signifier. It is a certain articulation of signifiers in a certain signified.
And yet Encore, on the contrary, erects between signifier and signified the famous wall I drew earlier.
It's not only the sign's arbitrariness - as Saussure says - it's verily a kind of independence of the signified in rapport to the signifier.
This is how Lacan can say in Encore, that "the signified has nothing to do with the ears - it has nothing to do with the signifier you hear - but only with reading." Close beside the non-rapport he posits a non-semantic rapport. There is no such thing as semantic rapport. He furthers from there that conception of reading, which is a radical form of interpretation - it can mean anything whatever. The only thing that can limit the reading you give the signifier is the discourse which you make reference to. Depending on the relation to the Other you are in, and that is established, you direct yourself towards one reading or an other.
It's very radical if you are cooped up between signifier and signified. It means that a signifier may mean whatever, what Lacan occasionally develops.
The only thing that regains order in this absolute semantic solitude, which is akin to the solitude of jouissance, is to be taken in a discourse - as Lacan says, in a social bind.
If he extracts the social link, it is non other but the relation to the typical Other, typified. And, at that moment, the relation of the signifier and the signified - that by no means can be founded on the mechanical level of the metaphor and metonymy - can only be established in reference to this relation to the Other as typical relation; Lacan calls it discourse. That is how the isolation of jouissance, the actual independence from the signifier, turns out to be contemporary. It only hardens the social bind exigency, that is the typical forms of the relation to the Other. And this is how Lacan can sharply state in Encore that "There is nothing but that, the social link." You have no chance of finding yourselves without the social link. This is why the brilliant developments that some of his students would make on the non-identification, on the summit of analysis as non-identification, appeared rather dangerous in this perspective, insofar as it is only through a typical social bind that you have the chance of reading, of interpreting, of putting a limit to the non-dialogue. Actually, it's through the social bind that the signifier is susceptible of keeping to the same sense. Language signifies by virtue of a routine.
* "L'orientation lacanienne," Paris, 1995-1996.
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2. Lacan, Jacques, The Seminar, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, NY: Norton, 1981.
3. Lacan, J., Le séminaire, Livre XVI: D'un autre à l'Autre, unpublished.
4. Lacan, J., Le séminaire, Livre IV: La relation d'objet, Paris: Seuil, 1994.
5. Lacan, J., "The signification of the phallus" in Écrits: A Selection, NY: Norton, 1977.
6. Lacan, J., The Seminar, Book XX: On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge: Encore, NY: Norton, 1998.
8. Lacan, J., "L'Étourdit," in Scilicet 4, Paris, 1973.
9. Lacan, J., "The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I," in Écrits: A Selection, NY: Norton, 1977.
10. Freud, S., "On Narcissism: An Introduction," S.E. XIV, London: The Hogarth Press, 1986.
11. Lacan, J., "Le séminaire sur La Lettre volée," in Écrits, Paris: Seuil, 1966.
12. Lacan, J., "The direction of the treatment and the principles of its power," in Écrits: A Selection, NY: Norton, 1977.
13. Lacan, J., "The subversion of the subject and the dialectic of desire in the Freudian unconscious," in Écrits: A Selection, NY: Norton, 1977.