Zizek invitation








LACANIAN INK 27 – Spring

The Names-of-the-Father

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK – DANISH PASTRY, OR THE EUTHANASIA OF TOLERANT REASON
Jack Tilton Gallery,
May 1/2006

I am Josefina Ayerza, the editor of Lacanian Ink. Let me thank you all for being here tonight, and a very special thanks to Jack Tilton for his genuine enthusiasm with hosting our events. For 16 years now, Lacanian Ink has been publishing writers, painters, poets, musicians, novelists, from very different latitudes. To the point that we have a dialogue going on, this dialogue is open enough as to not belong in a place; it happens however in New York City, and this is how it includes everyone of us, how it is us....

Lacanian Ink 27 is taking up on "The-Names-of-the-Father" - it is not ready from the printer so we made a dummy for you to look through the pages. "The-Names-of-the-Father is Jacques Lacan's very succint seminar which lasted a day. It consists of the one lesson. It doesn't have a number. As you know we go from Seminar 10: Anxiety to Seminar 11: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis.

Lacan didn't want to number it.

Jacques-Alain Miller says "this Seminar does not exist..." do we want to say that from then on and forever there is a hole in Lacan's teaching? in the series of his seminars..." Lacan liked to interpret it, provoke his audience, "It wasn't by chance that I couldn't give my seminar on The Names-of-the-Father..." as if to give that seminar would have been in some way impossible, as if the issue were destined to remain under a veil, as if there existed a curse...

Or he would claim, "I never will tell them what I could tell them about 'the names-of-the father' because they don't deserve it! They will never know it." For Lacan there is a correspondence between the seminar "The Names-of-the-Father" and what was happing to him at the moment, that is his famous excommunication; it is as if the anecdote of his life responded to the structure of the analytic movement, to its Oedipal structure...; as if the bar placed on his name would necessarily be followed by another on the seminar "The Names-of-the-Father."

The Name of the Father is given a function... if we refer to what Lacan denominated the paternal metaphor, it is the function of metaphorizing the desire of the mother - of barring it.

Personally I think this is one of Lacan's genius discoveries, specially in the endeavor with psychosis.


The name of the father is divided into the theory of the father and the theory of the name. We had to wait until Kripke's invention in 1972, soon pointed out by Lacan, for the function of a pure signifier of the proper name to emerge in mathematical logic itself; meaning that the proper name is not the abbreviation of a list of properties. Here the "possible," to which Lacan refers in "L'etourdit," allows us to understand that, if Slavoj Žižek had not written The Parallax View, nothing stops us from conceiving a possible world in which he did, and in which Slavoj Žižek would exist as a proper name. The proper name Slavoj Žižek does not depend on the list of properties assigned to Slavoj Žižek. The proper name lives independently and passes immutably through these possible worlds which are perhaps so many errors which we make. Kripke called it a "rigid designator" in order to indicate that it doesn't always depend on aleatory references or on flexible significations. If tomorrow one found that The Parallax View was written by a student of Slavoj Žižek, Slavoj Žižek as proper name would continue being equally operative. So that, thanks to this focus, a function of the pure signifier which doesn't signify anything emerges, whose signification is nothing other than its own enunciation.


Again, it doesn't make a difference whether he is alive or dead - although there are things that one would not say if he were alive..

While he examines the proper name, Lacan introduces thematically for the first time in his writing the concept of pleasure. At that time he was wondering how to designate the being of the subject without doing the same for the proper name. "Lacan says" for all eternity! And here is the lacking name which must be discovered, that is, the name of pleasure, the name of my being as a being of pleasure. We can't call it my objet a, it is not a proper name, but in spite of everything... In the diagnostic a subject is not designated, rather a clinical structure more or less elaborated is classified, and one speaks then of an obsessive, an hysteric, a phobic. However, the true proper names in the clinic include the surplus of pleasure of a subject, its objet a. When we refer to the "Rat Man," or to the "Wolf Man," we give them proper names which have nothing to do with the Name-of-the-Father.

And there is Little Hans, the Little Horse Man. It isn't by chance that in this name, there is an animal, since this is, according to Freud, is what escapes the lack-in-being. The objet a is perhaps a name which is not a metaphor, a name in which father and pleasure are included together. What better to prove that the Name-of-the-Father is semblance than psychosis, where we see a real father operate, in a most brutal manner? The foreclosure of the Name-of-the-Father supposes that there is no semblance of the Name-of-the-Father, that there is no semblance of the father. Inasmuch as the father is impossible for a subject, there can be the real of the father, and he can be found.

Ultimately this is the only thing that interests me. This examination will be based on the following conceptual triplet: truth, knowledge (savoir), Real. My argument is that "l'Étourdit" is a proposition that creates a disjuncture between analytic discourse and philosophical discourse, based on their two entirely different ways of joining together this grouping of truth-knowledge-Real, a triplet which in truth could be said, assuming we keep it in the right order, to be in itself common to the discourses of both the philosopher and the analyst. This triplet is indeed the borderline between two discourses.

In "l'Étourdit" the Real is clearly definable based on the absence of sense. The result of this is that the truth-knowledge-Real triplet must be juggled around a bit with respect to the question of sense, if we are to be able to think it through completely. In her brilliant commentary on "Book Gamma" of Aristotle's Metaphysics, Barbara Cassin speaks of a "decision of sense," and it could be said that l'Étourdit is another kind of sense decision, different from the Aristotelian one. With respect to this decision, the Real may be defined as a sense which is ab-sense. The Real is ab-sense, and therefore an absence of sense, but which absence of course implies that sense does exist.

The point that needs to be understood, as concerns the complex decision Lacan is formulating here, is that ab-sense must be held absolutely distinct from nonsense. Lacan's argument is not absurdist or in a general sense existentialist. He is not asserting that the Real is nonsense. He is asserting that an opening onto the Real cannot be breached save through the presupposition that it is an absence in sense, an ab-sense, or a subtracting of something from, or out of, sense. Everything depends on this distinction between ab-sense and non-sense.

Religion-especially Christianity-gladly speaks of God as of a father, as of Father par excellence; and the Name-of-the-Father figures in the triad together with the Son and the Holy Spirit. That's why Lacan always reminds us that he borrows this concept from the tradition (in "L'etourdit," you find, regarding Schreber's psychosis, that the Name-of-the-Father "indicates that it is the responsible one according to tradition").

With you slavoj Žižek on "Danish Pastry, or the Euthanasia of Tolerant Reason"