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Žižek at Tilton Gallery


Le sinthome

Jack Tilton Gallery,
New York City, April 23/2009

I am Josefina Ayerza, the editor of lacanian ink.

Let me thank you all for coming… and let us all thank Jacques Tilton for his unyielding desire with hosting
this event. Again, we want to thank Janine Cirincione for her thoughtful help with putting it all together.

This is lacanian ink's 19 year of existence - we are launching issue 33 - the general subject is the symptom.

What is the symptom? How is that Lacan gets to articulate it as the sinthome? What are its clinical implications?

In line with the necessary, with the obsessive or "what doesn't stop writing itself…" Jacques Lacan proceeds to make of the symptom a sinthome.

Actually relevant to the direction of the cure, Jacques-Alain Miller, in his "Logic of the Cure of Little Hans," analyses how the phobic symptom may have the role of Name-of-the-Father, and that, he says, "is but a step to understanding and formulating the Name-of-the-Father is only a symptom - one prone to replace the other… Lacan's stand is that "little Hans elaborated a little Name-of-the-Father."

Says Miller "… it is a matter of a process of symbolization on an essential element: the phallus." Thus you can summarize the cure of Little Hans going from the imaginary phallus to the symbolic phallus; and you can situate the moment of the malady of Little Hans - his symptom - in the apparition of the phallus as real… be it in Little Hans's phallic jouissance or in the apparition of the little sister, both destabilizing elements... Little Hans's cure is almost the cure par excellence - there is a perfectly discernable symptom and this symptom disappears. There is a cure. The phobic symptom disappears, however the logic of the cure is confused with the elaboration of the paternal metaphor; in this case, the case of a childhood analysis, the logic of the cure is identical to the paternal metaphor.

Alain Badiou brings up the Lacan very question… "Is not the Wagnerian project to show that what takes place at a given moment is not all, precisely in that it can be transformed? Should not the infinite melody be understood in the sense of transformation, endless and infinite, such that at no moment is what-is everything, what-is is not all… […]" And it is here, precisely at the site of de-totalization… […] that all his power to captivate the subjective must be situated.

Says Gérard Wajcman in "The Animals that Treat Us Badly," "We record whales singing their whale songs capable of transmitting messages to other whales thousands of kilometers away, but in truth, brandishing our microphones, we only aspire to one thing–that those whales would sing us a song."

François Regnault confers sainthood on the subject supposed to know, who is the analyst, again the symptom, and eventually the sinthome. "A saint's business, to put it clearly, is not caritas. Rather, he acts as trash (déchet); his business being trashitas (il décharite)."

In Jean-Luc Nancy "Self from Absence to Self," the sinthome enters sleep "he slept every night and he still sleeps upon all those nights that separate all the days he continues to make, or that continue to make themselves without him…"

Josefina Ayerza& Slavoj Zizek

Richard Kostelanetz offers an update to his 2003 book SoHo: The Rise and Fall of an Artists' Colony.

Cathy Lebowitz and I talk about Ridley Howard.

Cathy asks, "I am curious about "her way," and it being maybe happiness. And this being dependent on her maintaining the "macho" image. Can you tell me more about this?"

JA: We know how "woman does not exist," and how Lacan will go as far as to say "Woman does not exist as an entity with full ontological consistency, but only as a symptom of man." If however we conceive the symptom as it was articulated in Joyce le sinthome – a particular signifying formation which confers on the subject consistency, enabling it to structure its basic, constitutive bearing to jouissance – the entire relationship is reversed. The subject dissolved – it loses the ground under its feet, disintegrates – "woman is a symptom of man," meaning that man himself exists only through woman qua his symptom – is externalized in his symptom. In other words, man literally exists: his entire being lies "out there," in woman. Woman on the other hand, does not exist, she insists… has "her way," it being maybe happiness. But not her coming to be. She does not come to be through man. Something in her escapes the relation to man… excess. Lacan tried to capture this excess through the notion of "not all"–"not all" feminine jouissance.

For Slavoj Žižek the sinthome has a name: Josephine. And "Josephine le sinthome" is together "the Singer, or the Mouse Folk," in Franz Kafka's story. Žižek's writing takes you through strange corridors of identification, where you could be writing your testament while knowing you are dying… If Josephine is the allegory of the fate of Kafka-the-artist himself: he had already lost his voice because of his inflamed throat, at the story's end Josephine disappears/ Kafka himself WANTED to disappear, to have all the traces erased after his death, the totally unwarranted dimension to get introduced is Kafka himself as a mice-singer and his relation to mice people.issue33

With you Slavoj Žižek.