By a Window Overlooking Baltimore
Josefina Ayerza

translated by Barbara P. Fulks

I. Either Anxiety or the Concept

1. From One Book to the Other


We have dedicated some time to a work devoted to the evaluation of psychotherapies in order to review it, elucidate it, and dissect it, with perhaps what we might call a certain “Lacanian sadism.”1  Now I will present to you another book, even though you may be familiar with it in other forms.  The content of it has already been covered throughout this course and in numerous courses and articles.2  But something happens when this mass of notes takes the form of a book.  In any case, I can testify that it happens to me in the work itself of giving form to what I’ve gone through and meditated on, just like you.  I’m talking about the new tome, soon to appear, of Jacques Lacan’s Seminar, Anxiety, Book X.
I bring you the reflections of someone who is still, if not exactly in the middle of fording the stream, then between the first and second attempts at crossing.  He who speaks to you is inside, on the job, and not just for today, in a context you know to be very heated this year—a context which is perhaps not indifferent to the choices that I have made to bring this Seminar to publication.  In a context in which the regulation of psychotherapies was the talk of the town, a context which is largely marked by the passion of evaluation, the appearance of such a book could only be inopportune, at the wrong moment, out of tune, an appearance for which one can anticipate dissonance.

In a sense, one could dream of nothing better for this Seminar: that it come to light, that it arrive to the public, at a  moment when one can be assured that its strangeness will be a contrast.


Crossing Over

It would be quite comical—I restrain myself—to construct a parallel between one book and another, the rapport between INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de le recherche médicale) and the Seminar on Anxiety.  One must do it in the genre of deadpan.

What to say, then?  That one book is a product of teamwork which virtually embraces psychopathology, while the other is the work of an isolated researcher—self-proclaimed, moreover.  In the year which followed this Seminar, at the beginning of the subsequent one, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, it is true that this researcher questioned how he was authorized to express himself in such a way without being validated by collaboration, the surveillance of which seems today to be the indispensable instrument of such a work, that is, to be controlled by peers.

One perceives that, concerning psychoanalysis, some prejudices remain about solitary, genial intuition.  Where did he get it?  And why was it left up to him?  He dedicated himself, in a way which seems narrow, to a unique phenomenon drawn from the vast domain which today is called psychopathology.

While the first book that we dissected is supported by an enormous mass of other works, this one is content to refer to a very small number of authors and works, and is nourished by diverse contingencies, by voyages, by encounters, by pictorial expositions which are found along the route.  A very small number of works is mobilized here, contrary to what one can find in certain other seminars of Lacan.  And especially since the first “INSERM-ic” book never loses sight of the treatment of the illness and always tries to ameliorate it, while in the second, Lacan’s, one cannot say that anxiety is considered as an illness, a dysfunction.  He doesn’t appear to have found the indication, in this Seminar, of the anxiety with which he deals, let us call it Lacanian anxiety.  And in the attempt to find it, the author proceeds with an enormous excavation of multiple forms of anxiety and of the occasions of its appearance—not as a question of speaking of its cure, but rather at the most of crossing over it.  Thus when one considers this work in regard to the other, the author, the orator transformed into author, succeeds rather through his indifference to treatment, so occupied is he in showing what his passion is.  What is it?  It does not hide itself: following his discourse, articulating its terms, conjoining them, and giving to each its exact place.

This can serve as a thread to what characterizes this research, and one searches in vain for a clear answer as to what mobilized the works.  Everything on the order of psychotherapy, in a superb, arrogant fashion, is absent from the work.  In this respect, it is especially inopportune that we are required—and by whom?—to respond to the treatment and its efficacy at this moment.


A Conceptual Space

This Seminar should be read assuming that what concerns the direction of the cure, in regard to anxiety and what it brings with it, is left, entrusted, to those who listen.  Each one can take advantage of it, give it a practical translation.  And it is legitimate for a teaching to be deployed in its continuity, with a certain mystery whose elaborations have a context.  Summoning someone who speaks of curing anxiety is not the order of the day in this Seminar.  I have underlined its traits.  I will state here that the doctrine of the cure nevertheless figures in this Seminar, but in a secondary, lateral way, since one finds there careful but limited readings from a certain number of Anglo-American texts concerning counter-transference, of which Lacan announces that the question should be explored under the expertise of the desire of the analyst.  It is thus through this angle I call lateral, given the place it has in this Seminar and the fact that Lacan entrusts its presentation to others, that one finds there, whatever the cost of the remarks made, a preparatory enclave rather than central developments.

You see that, in beginning to compare the two books, which is a parallel farce, one easily slides into a privileging of the point of view of INSERM.  This point of view is not their privilege, it is what happens to us and we have been riveted for some time on this work.  Thus we have suffered the shock, the surprise, the event, and we have done well to emphasize it, to take hold of it.  Now we must, since there will soon be another book on treatments, peel ourselves away from these commandments: “You are there to cure.  You deal with illness, with dysfunctions.  How can you do good any other way?”

This is the evidence of today.  There it is.  But this book is also going to be there, demanding that one give up this demand, this desire for the Other, and that one enter into another dimension.  Is this difficult?  How can I lead you into this dimension?  How to retrieve what is perhaps our Lacanian bubble of discourse, since we have put all our efforts into speaking the language of the Other.  How do we construct the counter-argument?

Many among you here have a rapport with the practice of psychoanalysis: you are in analysis, you have been analyzed.  The dimension we must re-establish is that in which the question of evaluation, of therapy, is not instantaneous at each instant.  Perhaps it is occasionally there, in particular when anxiety resists, but there is always another dimension.

The vociferations of this desire for the Other, the “INSERM-ic” vociferations, are quiet, can no longer be heard.  Perhaps they can make themselves heard if they give themselves over to it, to this work of Lacan.  Will they do it?  I leave you the task of imagining how they will look at this work, how they will trace the trail of the meteorite, an incongruous object of this sort.  Doubtless they would experience a certain disquieting strangeness, that a book with the title of Anxiety could contain this type of purpose: a work in which anxiety, strictly speaking, is not an illness to be treated, but rather is given its conceptual place with reference to Kierkegaard’s concept of anxiety.3

From their point of view, it seems to me that the Seminar on Anxiety would be best classified as being on the order of literary creation.  Should we reject this classification?  I’m not so sure.  There is, in the Seminar on Anxiety, an elegy of literary fiction which echoes what Freud expressed in his work, The Uncanny.4  Lacan, following in Freud’s footsteps, pays tribute to literary fiction, and he takes it as a guide for giving stability to fugitive experiences, a stability which offers a better articulation.  Literary fiction supplies, says Lacan, “a sort of ideal point.”5


Perhaps we could here invert the perspective and ask ourselves how the rapport of INSERM is inscribed in the perspective of the Seminar on Anxiety.  This work shows an effort of quantification, of accounting, of assessing which has its dignity and even its necessity in the way in which it translates what is put into place, what is constructed in the Seminar on Anxiety: the inscription of the subject in the field of the Other as the place of the signifier.  The subject can only inscribe itself there as marked by recurrence, the repetition of the number 1.  This is what expresses the writing of the barred subject.  This passion for quantification, for evaluation, affects what is isolated in the Seminar on Anxiety as the original mark of the trait of subjective identification.  We find there Lacan’s construction of a schema which was never published, an elementary schema of division, which I have, once and for all, had photographed for this Seminar.


It could not be more elementary: a vertical line on which is found inscribed some of the letters which we have learned long ago to work with, and which are there in order to present what Lacan indicated as a division, a division of the Other by the subject.

Why this word “division”?  One understands it retroactively because it is what was isolated by Lacan in order to qualify it.  Division, because Lacan gave a value to the function of the remainder, and it is this notion of remainder which the construction of a division requires.  A division in which one takes as the first result the ciphering of the subject, its grip in the repetition of One, and one isolates, inscribes, in a supplementary fashion, the remainder with the famous small letter a.  This remainder is isolated so that the Other is not simply the One.  If the field of the Other were only made of Ones, it would be reducible, it would only be the ensemble of these Ones.  What directs the reading of the Seminar is not forgetting that the Other is Other because there is a remainder.

Other ≠ One

This elementary construct is already enough to support many objections that we could make in relationship to INSERM.  These objections rest on what we have acquired from this Seminar and what follows it; they rest on the remainder, on the notion of an unquantifiable remainder, a remainder which is not One.  Which means there is something in the Other which is not the signifier.  Lacan inscribes here what might be the response: the barred A as that which constitutes me as unconscious, the Other as what I do not attain, let us say the Other as desire.  I only inscribe this schema as the objection that the function of the remainder makes to the passion for evaluation.  We find, in a moment in the Seminar, another prescription in which petit a is written before barred S,6 and this correlates to a theoretical reversal which is susceptible of passing unperceived, since we must say that it rests here on the head of a pin.

This is an excerpt. Please see lacanian ink 26 for full article.




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Reflections on the Formal Envelope of the Symptom
Jacques-Alain Miller


by Pierre-Gilles Gueguen


The Desire of Norrie

The case of Norrie May-Welby (not her original name but one she changed through a legal procedure) has brought forth gender issues in their relationship not to the norm, but to the law.


Norrie is an unusual character who underwent MTF sex change surgery in 1989 at the age of 27 (she is today 52). This did not, as stated in the newspaper Liberation of April 2, 2014, “put  an end to the ambiguity she feels about her sexual identity.” She wanted to be recognized as gender neutral by the highest authorities of her country, a country of rights of Common Law, which finally ruled that the High Court recognizes that a person can be neither male nor female sex, and thus allowing the registration of a person as a “non-specific” gender. She is the first if not the only in the world to be recognized in this way. Note that this fact poses a slight legislative problem because in France, marriage is permitted only between a man and a woman.


Such legislation has spread in increasingly numerous countries, including Germany, Nepal, and  India as of last month, for various reasons and under pressure from various lobbies. In Germany, for example, as in Switzerland, it is the issue of intersex who are not transgender or queer but are biologically and anatomically neither male or female, which pushed forward legislation favorable to the inclusion in the registry office of a third reference, other than male or female. In India and Pakistan there are cultural traditions that provide a place for people who do not clearly meet the man / woman dichotomy. In the case of the Swiss, it is the question of medical intervention decisions that often operated with the doctor’s decision without the consent or opinion of the person or his parents, which pushed the country to acknowledge the possibility of a deferred choice, neither man nor woman.


Variety of Genders

Transgender—what we used to call transsexual—is now divided into two groups (post-op and pre-op), and yet another scenario that is based on a belief that the body is the opposite sex that one belongs to psychologically.


We distinguish again these variants from the “traditional” sexuality (a man who feels like a man and a woman who feels like a woman who are attracted exclusively to individuals of the opposite sex) from multiple forms of homosexuality, exclusive or not. It seems we are moving forward in the process of normalization.


It is all these palettes of sexual practices and possibilities of the meeting of bodies that the “Gender” movement came to interrogate and upset. It corresponded with a rise of feminist movements especially in the USA and also homosexual movements which began in the USA in the ‘60s.  These protests against the “Standard Male” in our Western societies were contemporaneous with the decline of the paternal function they crossed. At first  protesters attempted to theorize the avatars of desire in contemporary society. The French theory has often served as an intellectual support for these revolts experienced rightly as anti-segregationist but had often produced various communal groups that obviously had extreme difficulty in arriving at what they were trying to avoid to denounce, as it is impossible to achieve the utopia of a clear standard of any sexuality. Freedom is only limited by madness and a total socialization


Derrida and Foucault were French philosophers which scholars of gender have often referred–Lacan much less so. Judith Butler tried but despite her talent, did not address one philosopher. Let us say that Gender Studies have attempted to address the embarrassment of sex without wanting to know, according to the formula Lacan gave on Television, what fate was reserved for their unconscious without wanting to experience the real in and with analysis.



The back cover of a recent book that brings together texts by gender specialists of the University of Bordeaux, Judith Butler: Gender Troublesummarizes well the state of the question:


Challenging the stabilized order of genders is part of a renewed analysis of the influence of power relations on lives and forms of mental alienation that are related. The result is a disorder in the subject, marked both by the imminence of contentious rage and exposure to melancholy.


The analytical point of view


It is here that Gender Studies, which is at best a discourse of philosophers, separates from all that is original in psychoanalysis, and it should be recalled that psychoanalysis is first the singular experience of the unconscious, that is to say, the experience which is part of there being something at ill ease with human sexuality.

Recall also that, contrary to the discourse of gender studies, psychoanalysis is not interested only in individual cases. The Oedipal standard certainly could convey an entire period, but Lacan got out of this rut differently and before Deleuze and Guattari finally seem to do their work, Anti-Oedipus (1972), with which Lacan disagrees. Its trajectory is more resumable of the term “Beyond Oedipus” which means that in order to pass the father, one must, in analysis, not use a standard but a compass for an ethic that will turn each time to produce singular consequences for the subject.


In a sense, the hystericals were the first to point out that between the body and the signification given, there is in human beings a hiatus. The question had also been raised by Freud under the aegis of psychic bisexuality which he debated with his friend Fliess.


Lacan meanwhile renewed this perspective in his sexuation formulas, but in a very different way than gender studies, we will return to this. He even goes on to say that it is “an assumption, an assumption that there is a male or female subject, this is an assumption that makes the experience obviously untenable …” (les non dupes errent leçon du, 15 Jan 1974)


Now back to Norrie. To paraphrase Lacan, I would say Norrie “has a body and has only one.” She wanted to meet Tiresias and at least by some specular and biotechnological arrangements to arrange herself on the feminine side.


In Between

As for Norrie, she teaches us that she is still not more at ease with this arrangement nor changes made to her anatomy and her hormonal metabolism. She said she needed to see the words “non-specified” written on paper, because in the eyes of another, she thinks that her body has characteristics of both sexes. (Adam’s apple, but female voice etc …). She has managed to create more than just a standard or a law. She said on Youtube, specifically for the possible customs or police officer who saw her ID, she would visually correspond neither to a man nor a woman. And although she leans towards the identity of the female gender, she prefers to remain “in between.”


This already tells us that the Other is at stake in his narcissistic image and more precisely in the form of a critical view. The other sees this as having failed to form a satisfactory narcissistic image. [1] In addition, the solution she chose to somehow set the law in stone allows him to push to the extreme limit or to infinity having to declare oneself man or woman. This is to say, to have anything to do with the phallic meaning in the unconscious drives forced choice.


She realizes, taken to the extreme, because the speaking, the spoken does not find good sexual identification. She takes this literally in her case. Her being is neither male nor female, nonetheless it must be done using the common signifying pair male / female and the opposition it contains in order to deny its validity.


As Helen Bonnaud reported in her article in Lacan Quotidien 396: Norrie invents a solution. She also made a name, spokesman activist of a “movement” supported by lawyers and other activists could not bear to be stowed under the weight of a meaning to refuse to apply their body “this empty sack” (I am referring to the note leads to another JAM in Seminar XXIII P214). We can say that the language is based on the forced choice, as it would mark a reported lesser body (Lacan would have said the phallic significance in its classical period) is unbearable for Norrie (whether carrying the phallus or that it is private). This body outside body is not sustainable because it carries with it the castration. Hence the surprising solution: deny that there is a signifier of sexual difference that applies to her body. It takes a symbolic apparatus for her body, imagined without sex, to withstand a knot, which makes Sinthome. I refer to page 139 of the XXIII Seminar: Norrie makes the solution in an attempt to keep as a symptom rejection of the law of anatomy, and it is especially important that we as psychoanalysts, the law of articulation of language functioning in opposition. Something outside meaning, namely neither-nor, no law, no order. (See my paper ‘la part perdue” Freudian Cause 37) The real that belies anatomy and all the scientific reason as well as the nature and is based on a “choice” but she has no idea that it is a choice of jouissance. Her imaginary solution that excludes a symbolic term does keep the body.


It is a way to block the other, and this is not how the neurotic body with which the language brings with itself castration, i.e. lack. But it still makes use of the symbolic to put her castration “outside” with a device that makes the Other inconsistent instead of a registration of an absolute truth that could say: the lack in the Other does not exist but is designated still by a form of lacking.  See the “God of Schreber” which it is often said that he stops the Other but we must see that he is split. See also what Lacan called “The Woman does not exist.”


It is difficult to predict what the strength of the knot is, or if it will be as strong as that of Joyce. In this case we could say that with the Lacan of this page of Seminar 23 that the Unconscious of Norrie is real or even with older formulations of Lacan it is the open sky that house the truth of her certainty. By formally placing the body it is immune to gender differences. It is the origin of sexual ambiguity in the mind and thus may well call herself “intersex” (interview on You tube) then she was born male, but with an intersex mind!


She uses the theories of gender identity and a metonymic reference to neuroscience and biology to make a symbolic object out of words and yet is torn in different discourses.


Admire the feat. (Admirons le tour de force)



This quaint character highlights by contrast the weak point of gender theories that she uses in her own way by deconstructing and kneading them as Joyce does with literature (Ulysses).


She relies primarily on Queer discourse and seems in the YouTube interview, to makes her fate a voyage between the various subcultures of the LGBT world. “At first I was more at ease as gay then as a drag queen and then more feminine then after contacting transsexuals, I wanted to have surgery and I become even more feminine … but not entirely. ” She explains her journey as if it was a metonymic drift in the register of the appointment of a symptom rather than a choice of jouissance.


The solution that was eventually chosen, which is not to choose and invent an intersex mind should probably be fine in her case, especially since it makes use the terms used by Lacan in his Seminar on Joyce. This solution is elevated to the height of a sublimation, allowing it to support a cause in the media suddenly summoned to illustrate this “first”, with the added benefit of opening up the way for the rights of a “person.”


Certainly the idea of a third sex can register on identity papers will cause those backwards souls who linger to the idea that nature, as the divine law, prescribes the straight model, to complain. But also a good number of gay or trans who would like models of enjoyment for universal use (even if it is within a subculture) and say that like marriage between people of the same gender, it affects the revolutionary root of “sexual transgressions.” There was a time when the Chevalier d’Eon seemed to move in the world without raising many problems …


Norrie and Daniel Paul


Having said that, psychoanalysis has its great man who had invented an alternative for his own use: President Schreber. A man up to 50 years, non-operated, yet enjoying a fantasy of being a woman of God.


Maybe one day we’ll know more about the jouissance of Norrie.


How can this case, however, continue to teach us? Maybe by taking a few comparative clinical distinctions with the Schreber case.


Subject to other information, we do not know if Norrie knew such acute episodes as those in which Schreber describes the connection signifying chain as completely defeated and where the voice comes back in a terrifying form that Schreber called the miracle of howl. We do not know if she also had sufferings such as those Schreber spoke of and which are the current clinical extraordinary psychoses where exactly the body, its image and the language unravel. She however spoke on YouTube of a postoperative depression.


However, it is important to remember that psychoanalysis can comment, unlike gender theory, on the impact of the unconscious in humans and in particular warn of unconscious determinations of their own and which ones they should individually  “know and do .”


Helen Bonnaud rightly points out that for Lacan “to err on the male side or female side on the table of sexuation formulas is not about sex but about jouissance. The enjoyment of the body is a symptom for Norrie just as it is for everyone. For her there is no connection between her sexual jouissance and sexual identity. She does not find it because it can not exist outside these two signifiers that are somehow markers of sexual difference ….


Genevieve Morel said this in a different article in the Cause freudienne N°37:


Are identifications sufficient to establish the sexualization of a subject? This is what makes the proponents of gender theory advocate. Psychoanalysis objects clinically without disregarding their importance.


On the one hand, psychoanalysis of neurotics, when carried far enough, shows that options for jouissance are taken very early by the subject, indicating a sex selection. … Lacan’s teachings of the seventies propose a logic of gendering, for quantification of propositional functions of jouissance, which is not a logic of identification, which is the class and the attribute. The whole is the peak of this logic: it is in itself anti-identification par excellence. (It does not in effect include existence, the very least necessary for identification). This is what makes it inconvenient for the subject and growth, paradoxically, to take many identifications to deal with the discomfort of that choice. Hence the frequency of hysteria in women.


On the other hand, psychoanalysis of psychotics shows, in the study of certain triggers, a disruption of sexuation of the subject, with a collapse of identification which is then found to have effectively defined a hitherto sexuation, but labile. These identifications framed life, gave meaning to certain organs or body functions, and included sex. But when these identifications are let go, the subject must invent something else, sometimes relentlessly. Sometimes there has been a push to the feminine, but it may be the reverse. This shows the inadequacy of such identifications, prior to the outbreak, to firmly establish the sexuation of a subject, even though his “gender” was sometimes yet well defined by them.


However, there are identifications, which, by the classificatory logic they imply, have a real impact on the jouissance of the subject …”


I recall to strengthen this position but also to complete it on some points, what Jacques -Alain Miller stated in his course in January 1983 under the title, Du symptôme au fantasme et retour.

He warned us against misuse of the category of psychosis resulting from contamination of psychoanalysis by psychiatry. (Mainly by referencing Ecrits: Question préliminaire… Du trieb de Freud et Subversion)


About desire, for example, on p.852, Miller rectifies certain prejudices supporting the lecture of Lacan which tended to entrench the psychotic state in a segregated ghetto.


He first mentions that for Lacan desire is prior to the Act; even in cases of serious psychoses desire is there, it is the desire of the primordial other and it does not need to be standardized by the NDP. This is evident in the case of Norrie and her desire for her uniqueness to be recognized. Lacan goes so far as to say that the desire is autonomous in relation to the Act.


Not independent of the signifier but compared to the standard Act that the paternal metaphor imposes the desire of the mother in the most typical cases.



And as Miller points out if we stuck to the failure of the paternal metaphor that subordinates the desire of the act so then we could not speak of desire in the psychotic: if we can doubt whether there is desire in psychosiswe can not in any case doubt that there is the substance of desire he said, i.e. jouissance, specifically. And in the case of Schreber, Lacan called it jouissance transsexualiste. It is difficult to think when viewing images of Norrie there is no jouissance when we see a clip of her dressed for the cameras, as an attractive woman and not like a drag queen. Scopic jouissance that should probably take many forms without a doubt.


Echoing the same idea that was common at the time that there is no subject in psychosis due to the notation of the “death of the subject” that Lacan uses about Schreber, Miller takes the opposite of the traditional reading saying that the subject of psychosis is not the place of truth and there are no effects of truth that would be written S barred under minus-phi, but a knowledge and it is not for nothing that Lacan spoke of a successful paranoia about analysis itself. The knowledge of Norrie is a version of the Lacanian saying since Seminar 18: “There is no sexual relationship.” She translates as “neither male nor female,” is what we would call her psychotic certainty. The solution seems less complex than that of Scherber who must go through God and a complex anatomy of channels of jouissance but does not doubt whether he strengthens the jouissance  by wearing jewelry and woman’s undergarments. (note that like Norrie, Schreber manufactures an imaginary anatomy to ensure the enjoyment of his body).


Then, still commenting on the Schreber case, Miller indicates that this is an effect of identifying signification which replaces the effect of phallic sense when the operation of the NDP fails and it follows Lacan, who indicates that there is an identification whatever it may be by which the subject assumed the desire of his mother.


Here the whatever it may be is of fundamental importance. We identify, for example, who has  kept the desire of Schreber until his release.


Miller continues that the phrase whatever it may be does not mean it is just anything. We have an example for Schreber by the fact of his well-known fantasy: it would be nice to be a woman undergoing copulation. Norrie is more discreet to my knowledge but note that she is like Schreber and like Joyce in her own manner–they wanted to make known their special status publicly. Schreber in his memory, Norrie in her activism and media action, Joyce by his writing and his care for fame.


Lacan postulated that in the case of Schreber (but is it so generalized) that “Without a doubt the divination of the unconscious warned the subject early because they without being the phallus that misses the mother, there remains the solution to be the woman missing men.”


For Norrie we do not have the elements to decide, so we will refrain. However, her refusal to place herself under the signifier evokes Lacan’s phrase: “The woman who does not exist.” She would therefore be deeply Lacanian without knowing.


Besides Miller again gives an interesting idea by pointing out that what we call with Lacan the delirious metaphor of Schreber goes in the same direction, “Schreber is dedicated to creating the signifier of the woman, he wishes for inclusion in the field of the Other of the signifier of the woman. Whereas the common man in the Other Woman does not exist as Lacan would say later. Because the only signifier we have is the phallus against which the subject fits in different ways depending on whether he falls to the side of man or woman…


Norrie has not always devoted her life to this. Note her passage as Drag Queen exactly where the woman exists for the phallic show. It is possible that the crisis she calls Nervous Breakdown and has known as the result of the intervention has actually dropped the  low identification that allowed her to remain on the side of the men who are imitating the crazy woman of popular Australian style “Mad Priscilla of the desert.”


Here again the lesson of 1983 Miller raises the real issue: that concerning the libidinal investment of the body of a subject such as Schreber, how can the parlêtre fill the “empty bag” with a quantum of libido. How to resume the way Miller treated in cause freudienne N°44 extracted from his current “experience of the real” Biophore the object, bearing life can it animate those who are going through the experience itself called death subjective?


In other words we arrive there at the question of how Lacan invited us to consider the position of fantasy in psychoanalysis, particularly in psychosis. This is the most sensible point. Indeed, the fundamental fantasy, the one who organizes the jouissance of a subject contains both jouissance and its prohibition. (anna Freud: to be a boy and to be beaten for this at times). Miller recalls “The constant position of Lacan is that the fantasy contains minus-Phi and without the minus-Phi it impossible to give reason to the fantasy.”


So the fantasy vehicle therefore prohibited and impotence and Miller raises the question of psychotic fantasy in these words: The effect of phallic significance is also an effect of interdictive signification and this is what is raised in the psychotic fantasy: what is suddenly both denied this is the meaning of this phallic effect, indeed, what is denied is sexual non-connection since the fantasy is realized.


In the next lesson in the May 4, 1983 he explains that for Schreber it is by his fantasy of being the object of divine erotomania but of a god who, is himself instead divided instead of the subject. The subject in the fantasy has to satisfy his god, it’s the jouissance of his body, while in the case of the neurotic, the subject is caught between the temptation to fulfill the fantasy and the prohibition or rather the inability to be satisfied.


I will finish with these considerations we could identify with Seminar XX and XXIII.

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Kant as Theoretician of Vampirism
Slavoj Zizek

1. The principle of the insufficient ground

Love lets us view imperfections as tolerable, if not adorable. But it’s a choice. We can bristle at quirks, or we can cherish them. A friend who married a hot-shot lawyer remembers, “On the first date, I learned that he could ride out rough hours and stiff client demands. On the second, I learned that what he couldn’t ride was a bicycle. That’s when I decided to give him a chance.”

The lesson of the so-called “endearing foibles,” referred to in this quote from Reader’s Digest is that a choice is an act which “retroactively grounds its own reasons.” Between the causal chain of reasons provided by knowledge (S2 in Lacanian mathemes) and the act of choice, the decision which, by way of its unconditional character, concludes the chain (S1), there is always a gap, a leap which cannot be accounted for by the preceding chain.1 Recall what is perhaps the most sublime moment in a melodrama: a plotter or a well-meaning friend tries to convince the hero to leave (the sexual partner, leader) by way of enumerating the latter’s weak points. Yet, unknowingly, he thereby provides reasons for continued loyalty; his very counterarguments function as arguments: “for that very reason s/he needs me even more.”2 This gap between reasons and their effect is the foundation of transference, the transferential relation epitomized by love. Even our sense of common decency finds it repulsive to list the reasons for which one loves somebody. The moment one can say, “I love this individual for the following reasons…” it is clear that this is not love proper.3 In the case of true love, apropos of some feature which is in itself negative, which offers opposition, one may say “For this very reason I love this person even more!” Le trait unaire, which triggers love, is always such an index of an imperfection.

This circle which determines the subject but only through those reasons which one recognizes retroactively as such, is what Hegel has in mind with the “positing of presuppositions.” The same logic is at work in Kant’s philosophy. The Anglo-Saxon literature on Kant refers to the “Incorporation Thesis:”4 there is always an element of autonomous “spontaneity” pertaining to the subject, making it irreducible to a link in the causal chain. True, one can conceive of the subject as submitted to the chain of causes, which determine conduct in accordance with “pathological” interests; therein consists the wager of utilitarianism. Since the subject’s conduct is wholly determined by seeking the maximum of pleasure and the minimum of pain, it would be possible to govern one, and to predict the steps, by controlling the external conditions which influence decisions. What eludes utilitarianism is the very element of “spontaneity” in German Idealism’s sense—the very opposite of its everyday meaning: surrendering oneself to the immediacy of emotional impulses, for example. According to German Idealism, when one acts “spontaneously” one is not free, but a prisoner of one’s immediate nature, determined by the causal link which chains one to the external world. On the contrary, true spontaneity is characterized by the moment of reflexivity; reasons count only insofar as I “incorporate” them, “accept them as mine.” In other words determination of the subject by the other is always self-determination. Thus decision is simultaneously dependent on and independent from its conditions. In this sense the subject in German Idealism is always one of self-consciousness. Therefore any immediate reference to my nature “What can I do? I was made like this” is false. The relation to my impulses is always mediated; they determine me insofar as I recognize them, and that’s why I am fully responsible for them.5

Another instance of “positing the presuppositions” is the spontaneous ideological narration of experience and activity. Whatever one does, one always situates the action within a symbolic context, charged with conferring meaning. In the former Yugoslavia, a Serbian fighting the Albanian Muslims and the Bosnians conceives of the civil war as the last act in the century’s on-going defense of Christian Europe against Turkish infiltration. Bolsheviks conceived of the October Revolution as the continuation and successful conclusion of previous radical popular uprisings: from Spartacus in ancient Rome to Jacobins during the French Revolution. This narration is assumed tacitly even by some critics who, for example, speak of Stalinist Thermidor. Khmer Rouge in Cambodia or Sendero Luminoso in Peru understand their movement as a return to the glory of an ancient empire. The Hegelian point here is that this narration is a retroactive reconstruction for which one is responsible—never a given fact. One can never refer to it as a founding condition, the context or presupposition of activity. As presupposition it is always already “posited.” Tradition is tradition insofar as it gets constituted as such.
In his critical remarks on German Idealism, Lacan equates self-consciousness with self-transparency, dismissing it as the most blatant case of philosophical illusion, which consists in denying the subject’s constitutive decentrality. However, self-consciousness in German idealism not only has nothing to do with any kind of transparent self-identity of the subject, it is rather another name for what Lacan has in mind when he points out that every desire is the “desire of a desire.” The subject never finds a multitude of desires, only entertains towards them a reflected relationship. By way of actual desiring, one implicitly answers the question—which of your desires do you desire, have you chosen one? Concerning Kant, self-consciousness, thus conceived, is positively founded on the non-transparency of the subject to itself: the Kantian transcendental apperception (the self-consciousness of pure I) is possible insofar as I am unattainable to myself in my noumenal dimension, as “Thing which thinks.”6 There is, of course, a point at which this circular “positing of the presuppositions” reaches a deadlock; the key to this deadlock is provided by the Lacanian logic of non-all—pas-tout.7 Although “nothing is presupposed which was not previously posited,” every “particular” presupposition can be demonstrated to be posited, not natural but naturalized—it would be wrong to draw the seemingly obvious “universal” conclusion that “everything presupposed is posited.” The presupposed X, “nothing in particular,” totally substanceless, nevertheless resists being retroactively “posited.” Lacan calls this X the real, the unattainable, elusive je ne sais quoi.
In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler8 demonstrates how the difference of sex and gender is the difference between a biological fact and a cultural/symbolic formation which, a decade ago, was widely used by feminists in order to show that “anatomy is not destiny.” Woman as a cultural product, already posited, is not determined by her biological status, can never be unambiguously fixed, presupposed as a positive fact. The way one draws the line separating culture from nature is determined by a specific context. This cultural overdetermination of demarcation between gender/sex, however, should not precipitate one into accepting the Foucauldian notion of sex as the effect of “sexuality,” an heterogeneous texture of discursive practices. What gets lost thereby is the deadlock of the real. Thus arises the thin yet crucial line separating Lacan from the deconstructionists, from the opposition between nature/culture, which is culturally overdetermined—there is no particular element one can isolate as “pure nature.” One should not draw the conclusion that everything is culture. Nature as real remains the unfathomable X resisting cultural “gentrification.” Or, in another way: the Lacanian real is the gap separating the Particular from the Universal. It prevents one from accomplishing the gesture of universalization and jumps from the premise that every particular element is P, to the conclusion that all elements are P.
Consequently, there is no logic of prohibition involved in the notion of the real as impossible, non-symbolizable. In Lacan the real is not surreptitiously consecrated, organized as the domain of the inviolable. When Lacan defines the “rock of castration” as real, this in no way implies that castration is excepted from the discursive field as a kind of untouchable sacrifice. Every demarcation between the symbolic and the real, every exclusion of the real as prohibited/inviolable, is a symbolic act par excellence. Such an inversion of impossibility into prohibition/exclusion occults the inherent deadlock of the real. In other words, Lacan’s strategy is to prevent any tabooing of the real. One can “touch the real” only by applying oneself to its symbolization, up to the very failure of this endeavor. In Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, the only proof that there are things beyond phenomena are paralogisms, inconsistencies in which reason gets entangled the moment it extends the application of categories beyond the limits of experience. In the same way in Lacan on touche le réel—one touches the real of jouissance by the impasses of formalization.9 In short the status of the real is thoroughly non-substantial; it is a product of failed attempts to integrate into the symbolic.
The impasse of “presupposing,” of listing the presuppositions, the chain of external causes/conditions of some posited entity, is the reverse of these “troubles with the non-all.” An entity can easily be reduced to the totality of its presuppositions. What is missing from the series of presuppositions, however, is the performative act of formal conversion which retroactively posits these presuppositions, and makes them into what they are: the presuppositions of… (like the above mentioned example of the act which retroactively posits its reasons). This “dotting of the i” is the tautological gesture of the Master Signifier constituting the entity as One. Thus looms asymmetry: the positing of presuppositions chances upon its limit in the “feminine” non-all. What it eludes is the real, whereas the enumeration of the presuppositions of the posited content made into a closed series through the “masculine” performative.
Hegel tries to resolve this impasse of “positing reflection” and “external reflection” in his Logic of Essence—the second part of his Science of Logic. The aim of the following examination is to discover in Hegel’s solution the same pattern of an elementary ideological operation.

2. Ground versus conditions

The fundamental antagonism of Hegel’s Logic of Essence is the antagonism between “ground” and “conditions,” between the inner essence, the “true nature” of a thing, and the external circumstances which render possible the realization of this essence, i.e., the impossibility to reach a common measure between these two dimensions, to coordinate them in a “higher-order synthesis.” Only in the third part of Logic, the “subjective logic” of Notion, this incommensurability appears surpassed. Therein consists the alternative between “positing” and “external” reflection: do people create the world they live in from within themselves, autonomously, or does their activity result from external circumstances? Philosophical common sense would impose here the compromise of a “proper measure.” True, one has the possibility of choice, or one can realize our freely conceived projects. But the framework of tradition, of inherited circumstances delineates our field of choices… or, as Marx put it in his Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte:

Men make their own history; but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.

However, it is precisely such a “dialectical synthesis” that Hegel declines. There is no way to draw a line separating the two aspects: every inner potential can be translated—its form can be converted—into an external condition, and vice versa. In short what Hegel does here is very precise: undermining the usual notion of the relation between the inner potentials of a thing and the external conditions which render (im)possible the realization of these potentials, “he posits between these two sides the sign of equality.” The consequences of this are far more radical than they may seem; they concern above all the radically anti-evolutionary character of Hegel’s philosophy. To ascertain it, one has only to recall the notional couple “in itself/for itself.” This couple is usually taken as the supreme proof of Hegel’s trust in evolutionary progress—the development from “in-itself” into “for-itself,”—yet it suffices to look closely at it in order to dispel this phantom of Evolution. The “in-itself” in its opposition to “for-itself” means at one and the same time
—what exists only potentially, as an inner possibility, contrary to the actuality wherein a possibility has externalized and realized itself; and
—actuality itself in the sense of external, immediate, “raw” objectivity, which is still opposed to subjective mediation, which is not yet internalized, rendered conscious; in this sense, the “in-itself” is actuality in so far as it has not yet reached its concept.

The simultaneous reading of these two aspects undermines the usual idea of dialectical progress, a gradual realization of the object’s inner potentials as spontaneous self-development. Hegel is quite outspoken and explicit: the inner potentials of the self-development of an object and the pressure exerted on it by an external force “are strictly correlative.” They form two sides of the same conjunction. In other words, the potentiality of the object must in turn be present in its external actuality, under the form of heteronomous coercion. To use Hegel’s example, to say that a pupil at the beginning of his education potentially knows, that in the course of development he will realize creative potentials, equals saying that such inner potentials must be present from the very beginning in external actuality. Likewise, the authority of the Master exerts pressure upon his pupil. Nowadays one can add the sadly famous case of the working-class as revolutionary subject. To affirm that the working class is “in itself” a revolutionary subject, is to assert that this potentiality must already have been actualized in the Party which knows its mission in advance, and therefore exerts pressure upon the working class, guiding it towards realization. In this way, the “leading role” of the Party is legitimized—its right to “educate” the working class in accordance with its potentials, to “convey” it into its historical mission.

One can see, thus, why Hegel is as far as possible from the evolutionist’s notion of the progressive development of “In-itself” into “For-itself.” The category of “in itself” is strictly correlative to “for us”—for some consciousness external to the thing-in-itself. To say that a lump of clay is “in itself” a pot, equals saying that this pot is already present in the mind of the craftsman who will impose the form of pot onto the clay. The current way of saying “under the right conditions the pupil will realize his potentials,” is thus deceptive: when, in excuse of his “failure” to realize his potentials, one insists that “he would have realized them, if only the conditions had been right”—one approaches cynicism akin to Brecht’s famous statement from his Beggar’s Opera “We would be good instead of being so rude, if only the circumstances were not of this kind!”

For Hegel external circumstances are not an impediment to the realization of inner potentials, but on the contrary “the very arena in which the true nature of these inner potentials is to be tested.” Are they true potentials or just vain illusions about what might have happened? Or, to put it in Spinozian terms, “positing reflection,” observes things as they are in their eternal essence, sub specie aeternitatis, whereas “external reflection” observes them sub specie durationis, in their dependence on a series of contingent external circumstances. Here, everything hinges on “how” does Hegel overcome “external reflection.” If his aim were simply to reduce the externality of contingent conditions to the self-mediation of the inner essence-ground—the usual notion of Hegel’s idealism—then Hegel’s philosophy would truly be a mere “dynamized Spinozism.” What does Hegel actually do?

Recall the usual mode of explaining the outbursts of racism which makes use of the categorial couple of ground and conditions/circumstances: one conceives racism—the so-called outbursts of irrational mass sadism—as a latent psychic disposition, a kind of Jungian archetype, which comes forth under certain conditions like social instability and crisis. Within this lense the racist disposition is the “ground,” and current political struggles the “circumstances,” the conditions of its effectuation. However, what counts as ground and what counts as conditions is ultimately contingent and exchangeable. Therefore one can easily accomplish the Marxist reversal of the above mentioned psychologist’s perspective, and conceive the present political struggle as the only true determining ground.

In the present civil war in ex-Yugoslavia, the “ground” of the Serbian aggressivity is not to be sought in any primitive Balkan warrior archetype, but within the struggle for power in post-Communist Serbia (the survival of the old Communist state apparatus)—the status of eventual Serbian bellicose dispositions and other similar archetypes (the “Croatian genocidal character,” the “centennial tradition of ethnic hatreds in Balkan countries”) is precisely that of the conditions/circumstances in which the power struggle realizes itself. The “bellicose dispositions” are precisely latent conditions which are actualized, drawn from their shadowy half-existence, by the recent political struggle as their determining ground. One is thus fully justified in saying that “what is at stake in the Yugoslavian civil war are not archaic ethnic conflicts: these centennial hatreds are inflamed only on account of their function in the recent political struggle.”10

How, then, can one avoid this mess, this exchangeability of ground and circumstances? Consider another example: the renaissance is rediscovery (rebirth) of antiquity which exerted a crucial influence on the XVth century’s break with the mediaeval way of life. The first obvious explanation of that impact is that the newly discovered antique tradition brought about a dissolution of the mediaeval “paradigm”—here, however, a question pops up: why did antiquity begin to exert its influence at this very moment? A possible answer is: due to the dissolution of mediaeval social links, a new zeitgeist emerged which made for the response to antiquity.
Something must have changed so that people became able to perceive antiquity not as the pagan kingdom of sin but as the model to follow.

That is all very well, but one remains locked inside the vicious circle. This new zeitgeist took shape through the discovery of antique texts. In a way everything was already there, in the external circumstances; the new zeitgeist formed through the influence of antiquity enabling renaissance thought to shatter the mediaeval chains. Yet for this to take place, the new zeitgeist should already have been active. The only way out of this impasse is therefore the intervention at a certain point, of a tautological gesture; the new zeitgeist had to constitute itself by literally “presupposing itself in its exteriority.” In other words it was not sufficient for the new zeitgeist to posit retroactively these external conditions (the antique tradition) as “its own.” It had to (presup)pose itself as already present in them. The return to external conditions (to antiquity) had to coincide with the return to the foundation, to the “thing itself,” to the ground. The “renaissance” conceived of itself as the return to the Greek and Roman foundations of Western civilization. There is thus no inner ground where actualization depends on external circumstances. The external relation of presupposing (ground presupposes conditions and vice versa) is surpassed in a pure tautological gesture, by means of which the thing “presupposes itself.” This tautological gesture is “empty” in the sense that it does not contribute anything new; it only retroactively ascertains that
the thing in question “is already present in its conditions.” The totality of these conditions “is” the actuality of the thing. Such an empty gesture provides the most elementary definition of a “symbolic” act.

Thus one arrives at the fundamental paradox of “rediscovering tradition” at work in the constitution of national identity; a nation finds its sense of self-identity through such a tautological gesture, by way of discovering itself as already present in its tradition. Consequently, the mechanism of the “rediscovery of national tradition” cannot be reduced to the “positing of presuppositions,” in the sense of the retroactive positing of conditions as “ours.” Rather, the point is in the very act of returning to its external conditions, “the national thing returns to itself.” The return to conditions is experienced as the “return to one’s true roots.”

3. The tautological “return of the thing to itself”

Although “existing socialism” has already receded into a distance conferring upon it the nostalgic magic of a post-modern lost object, one may still recall a well-known joke on what socialism is. A social system dialectically synthesizes its entire previous history: from the prehistoric classless society it took primitivism, from antiquity slave labor, from medieval feudalism ruthless domination, from capitalism exploitation “and from socialism a name.” The Hegelian tautological gesture of the “return of the thing to itself” includes in the definition of the object its name. That is, after decomposing an object, one looks in vain for some specific feature holding together these parts and makes of them a unique, self-identical thing. As to its properties and ingredients, a thing is wholly “outside itself,” in its external conditions. Every positive feature is already present in the circumstances which are not yet this thing. The supplementary operation which makes from this bundle a unique, self-identical thing is the purely symbolic, tautological gesture of positing these external conditions as the conditions/components of the thing, while simultaneously presupposing the existence of ground which holds together the multitude of conditions.
To throw our Lacanian cards on the table, this tautological “return of the thing to itself” rendering the concrete structure of self-identity Lacan designates as the point de capiton, at which the signifier falls into the signified (as in the above joke on socialism, where the name functions as part of the designated thing). Recall an example from popular culture: the killer shark in Spielberg’s Jaws.11 It is wrong and misleading to search directly for its ideological meaning. Does it symbolize the threat of the Third World to America epitomized by the archetypal small town? Is it the symbol of the exploitative nature of capitalism itself (Fidel Castro’s interpretation)? Does it stand for the untamed nature which threatens to disrupt the routine of our daily lives? In order to avoid this lure, one should shift perspective: the daily life of common man is dominated by an inconsistent multitude of fears (he can become the victim of big business manipulations; Third World immigrants seem to intrude into his small orderly universe; unruly nature can destroy his home…), and the accomplishment of Jaws consists in an act of purely formal conversion, providing a common “container” for these free-floating, inconsistent fears by anchoring them, “reifying” them in the figure of the shark. Consequently, the function of the fascinating presence of the shark is precisely to block any further inquiry into the social meaning (social mediation) of the phenomena which arouse fear in common man. To say that the murderous shark symbolizes the above mentioned series of fears is to say too much and not enough at the same time. It does not symbolize them, since it literally annuls them by occupying the place of the object of fear. It is therefore more than a symbol: the feared “thing itself.” On the other hand, it is also less than a symbol, since it does not point towards the symbolized content, but rather blocks access to it, renders it invisible.
Moreover, the shark is homologous with the anti-Semitic figure of the Jew: “Jew” is the answer, the explanation offered by anti-Semitism, to the multitude of fears experienced by “common man” in an epoch of social dissolution (inflation, unemployment, corruption, moral degradation). Behind all these phenomena there is the invisible hand of the “Jewish plot.” Again, the crucial point, is that the designation “Jew” adds no new content: the entire content is already present in the external conditions (crisis, moral degeneration…). The name “Jew” is only the supplementary feature accomplishing a kind of transubstantiation and changing all these elements into many manifestations of the same “ground,” the “Jewish plot.” Paraphrasing the joke on socialism, one could say that anti-Semitism takes from the economy unemployment and inflation, from politics parliamentary corruption and intrigue, from morality degeneration, from art “incomprehensible” avant-gardism, “and from the Jew its name.” This name enables one to recognize behind the multitude of external conditions the activity of the same ground….
Therein consists another dialectic of contingency and necessity: as to their content, they fully coincide (in both cases, the only positive content is the series of conditions which form part of actual life-experience: economic crisis, political chaos, the dissolution of ethical links…). The passage of contingency into necessity is an act of purely formal conversion, the gesture of adding a “name” which confers upon the contingent series the mark of necessity, thereby transforming it into the expression of some hidden ground, the “Jewish plot.” So the “performativity” at work in this act of formal conversion in no way designates the power of freely “creating” the designated content—words mean what we want them to mean. “Quilting” only structures the found material, externally imposed. The act of naming is “performative” only and precisely insofar as “it is always-already part of the definition of the signified content.”12
Hegel resolves the deadlock of positing and external reflection (the vicious circle of positing the presuppositions and of enumerating the presuppositions of the posited content) by means of the tautological return-upon-itself of the thing, in its very external presuppositions. The same tautological gesture is already at work in Kant’s analytic of pure reason: the synthesis of the multitude of sensations in the representation of the object which belongs to “reality” implies an empty surplus. The positing of an X is the unknown substratum of the perceived phenomenal sensations. Suffice it to quote Findlay’s precise formulation:

…we always refer appearances to a Transcendental Object, an X, of which we, however, know nothing, but which is non-the-less the objective correlate of the synthetic acts inseparable from thinking self-consciousness. The Transcendental Object, thus conceived, can be called a Noumenon or thing of thought (Gedankending). But the reference to such a thing of thought does not, strictly speaking, use the categories, but is something like “an empty synthetic gesture” in which nothing objective is really put before us.13

The transcendental object is thus the very opposite of the Ding-an-sich: that is, empty insofar as it is devoid of any objective content. To obtain its notion, one has to abstract from the sensible object its entire sensible content, all sensations by means of which the subject is affected by Ding. The empty X which remains is “the pure objective correlate/effect of the subject’s autonomous/spontaneous synthetic activity.” To put it in a paradoxical way: the transcendental object is the “in-itself” insofar as it is for the subject, posited by it, pure “positedness” of an indeterminate X. This “empty synthetic gesture” adding nothing positive to the thing, and yet, in its very capacity of an empty gesture, constitutes it, makes it into an object, is the act of symbolization in its most elementary form. Findlay points out that the transcendental object:

is not for Kant different from the object or objects which appear to the senses and which we can judge about and know… but it is the “same” object or objects conceived in respect of certain intrinsically inapparent features, and which is in such respects incapable of being judged about or known.14

This X, this irrepresentable surplus which adds itself to the series of sensible features, is precisely the “thing-of-thought”/Gedankending: it bears witness to the fact that the object’s unity does not reside in it, but is the result of the subject’s synthetic activity—as with Hegel, where the act of formal conversion inverts the chain of conditions into the unconditional Thing, founded in itself.
Let’s briefly return to anti-Semitism, to the “synthetic act of apperception” which, out of the multitude of imagined features of Jews, constructs the anti-Semitic figure of “Jew.” To pass for a true anti-Semite, it is not enough to claim that one opposes Jews because they are exploitative, greedy intriguers, nor is it sufficient for the signifier “Jew” to designate this series of positive features. One must accomplish the crucial step further by saying “they are like that: exploitative, greedy…, because they are Jews.” The “transcendental object” of Jewishness is precisely that elusive X which makes a Jew into a “Jew” and for which one looks in vain among the positive properties. This act of pure formal conversion, the “synthetic act” of uniting the series of positive features in the signifier “Jew” and thereby transforming them into so many manifestations of the “Jewishness” as their hidden ground, “brings about the appearance of an objectal surplus,” of a mysterious X which is “in Jew more than Jew;” in other words: of the transcendental object.15

1. Of course there are good reasons to believe in Jesus Christ, “but these reasons are fully comprehensible only to those who already believe in Him.”
2. The same for Ronald Reagan: the more journalists enumerated his slips of tongue and other faux pas, the more they strengthened his popularity. As to Reagan’s “teflon presidency,” see Joan Copjec, “The unvermögender Other…” in New Formations 14, London: Routledge, 1991. On another level the gap separating S1 from S2, the act of decision from the chain of knowledge, is provided by the institution of jury in justice: the jury accomplishes the act of decision, a verdict of “guilt” or “innocence,” and it’s up to the judge to ground it in knowledge, translate it into punishment. Why can’t the judge himself pass the verdict? For Hegel, jury embodies the principle of free subjectivity: the crucial fact is that it’s composed of a group of peers of the accused selected by lottery—they stand for “anybody.” I can be judged only by my equals, not by a superior agency speaking in the name of some inaccessible Knowledge. Jury implies an aspect of contingency, suspending the principle of sufficient ground. By entrusting the jury with passing the verdict, the moment of uncertainty is preserved. Until the end one cannot be sure what will be; the judgement’s actual pronunciation is always a surprise.

3. The paradox is that there is “nothing” behind the series of positive, observable features: the status of that mysterious je ne sais quoi which makes me fall in love is ultimately that of a pure semblance. One can see how a “sincere” feeling is necessarily based upon illusion—I am “really,” “sincerely,” in love, only insofar as I believe in your secret agalma.
4. As for this “Incorporation Thesis,” cf., Henry E. Allison’s Kant’s Theory of Freedom, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

5. The adverse procedure is also false: the attribution of personal responsibility and guilt which relieves one of probing into the concrete circumstances. The moral-majority practice of the ethical qualification of the higher crime rate among African Americans—criminal dispositions, moral insensitivity…—
precludes the analysis of their social, economic and political conditions.

6. The ultimate proof of how this reflectiveness of desire that constitutes “self-consciousness” has nothing to do with the subject’s self-transparency. The very opposite, it involves the subject’s radical splitting in the paradoxes of love-hate. Hollywood described Erich von Stroheim who, in the 30s and 40s, regularly played sadistic German officers, as “a man you’ll love to hate:” to “love to hate” means that this somebody fits perfectly the scapegoat-role of attracting hatred. At the opposite end, the femme fatale in the noir universe is clearly a woman one “hates to love:” we know she means evil, so it’s against our will that we are forced to love her, and we hate ourselves and her for it. Tautological cases of this reflectivity of love-hate are no less paradoxical. Saying I “hate to hate you,” points towards a splitting: I really love you, but for certain reasons I am forced to hate you, and I hate myself for it.

7. As to this logic of the “non-all,” cf. Jacques Lacan, Le seminaire, livre XX: Encore, Paris: Editions du Seuil 1975; two key chapters are translated in Feminine Sexuality, New York: W.W. Norton, 1982.

8. Cf. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble, New York: Routledge, 1990.

9. Lacan’s statement that “there is no sexual relation” does not contain a hidden normativity. His point is “it is not possible to formulate any norm which should guide one with a legitimate claim to universal validity:” every attempt to formulate such a norm is a secondary endeavor to mend an “original” impasse. Lacan avoids the trap of the cruel superego: the subject cannot meet its demands, thereby branding its very being with a constitutive guilt. The relation of the subject to the symbolic law is not one that can never be fully satisfied. Like the God of the Old Testament or the Jansenist Dieu obscur, the Other “knows” what it wants from us; it is only we who cannot discern the Other’s inscrutable will. For Lacan however, “the Other of the law does not know what it wants.”

10. This exchangeability involves the ambiguity to the precise causal status of trauma. One is fully justified in isolating the “original trauma” as the ultimate ground triggering the chain-reaction, the final result being the symptom. Conversely, in order for event X to function as “traumatic” the subject’s symbolic universe should have already been structured in a certain way.
11. Cf. Fredric Jameson, Signatures of the Visible, New York: Routledge, 1991.
12. Lacan’s Master Signifier is an “empty” signifier without signified rearranging the previously given content. The signifier “Jew” does not add any new signified. To answer the question “Why were Jews picked out to play the scapegoat in anti-Semitism?” one might succumb to the very trap of anti-Semitism, finding some mysterious feature in them. That Jews were chosen for the role of the “Jew” ultimately is contingent, as shown by the well-known anti-anti-Semitic joke “Jews and cyclists are responsible for all our troubles.”
Why cyclists?—WHY JEWS?

13. J.N. Findlay, Kant and the Transcendental Object, Oxford: OUP, 1968, p. 187.


14. J.N. Findlay, op.cit., p. 1.

15. A simple symmetrical inversion brings about an asymmetrical, irreversible, non-specular result. When the statement “the Jew is exploitative, intriguing, dirty, lascivious…” is reversed into “he is exploitative, intriguing, dirty, lascivious… because he is Jewish,” one doesn’t state the same content another way. Something new, the objet a is produced: “in the Jew more than the Jew himself,” on account of which the Jew is what he phenomenally is. This is what the Hegelian “return of the thing to itself in its conditions” amounts to: the thing returns to itself when one recognizes in its conditions
the effects of a transcendent Ground.

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Love's Labyrinths
Jacques-Alain Miller


In my paper, I will introduce the basic concepts of Lacanian theory in regard to family therapy. I will show how Lacan’s theory on signification in 1950’s leads logically to his theory on four discourses in the end of 1960’s. From this perspective, I will claim that refusing children and adolescents have similar function and position in our contemporary Western culture as hysteric women had in Sigmund Freud’s Vienna. Contemporary adolescents who do not co-operate say no to master’s and university discourses in a similar way to hysteric women of Freud’s times.

The basic concepts introduced include signifier, signified, master’s discourse, university discourse, hysteric’s discourse, analyst’s discourse and subject supposed to know. With these basic concepts, I will show how Lacanian psychoanalytic tradition runs parallel directions with some classical family therapy schools some decades later. What is more, Lacanian basic concepts articulate well the contemporary everyday situations we encounter in our daily work with children and adolescents and their families.


In his short story, Bartleby, the Scrivener, Herman Melville (1819–1891) presents a disturbing figure, Bartleby. This figure embodies an absolute refusal of social interaction, crystallized in Bartleby’s famous phrase: “I would prefer not to.”

Bartleby’s figure has puzzled new and new generations of readers and interpreters, including philosophers like Gilles Deleuze and Slavoj Žižek. In this presentation, it is not this philosophical reception tradition of this piece of literature as such that I am interested in. What I am going to pay my attention to is the ethical and cultural dimension of this kind of absolute refusal in the clinic.

Namely, in our everyday work with today’s children and adolescents, we encounter these kinds of Bartlebies daily. Of course, the “I would prefer not to” of the end of the 19th century hears now “Fuck You!” or total absence of the child, but the phenomenon as such resembles in an amazing way Melville’s Bartleby. As if our adolescents had read Melville’s short story and then acted out the figure of Bartleby in their own context: I would prefer not to go to school, I would prefer not to go out away from my room, and, what is most disturbing to us professionals, I would prefer not to come to your clinic, I would prefer not to talk to you doctors, psychologists or therapists. I would prefer not to interact with the social world of adults around me at all.

What is at stage here, in this refusal to come together and to communicate? How should we understand these refusing children or their refusal to co-operate? It is these questions in my mind when I move to the obligatory theoretical part of my presentation. This theoretical part might sound boring and too foreign and abstract to our practical work, but the price stands in the end as the treasure in the end of a rainbow: by giving some time and effort to the conceptual framework we can gain some new insights to these often difficult and even irritating phenomena of our waiting for our Godots to arrive. Who would not have felt that there could be better things to do than wait the 15 years old Godot? Paradoxically maybe, I claim that this waiting has deeper importance, so far so, that I would call it the advent of the future.

In fact, facing a refusing adolescent is the ethical aporia of clinical child and adolescent psychiatry. It is through such aporias that clinical work develops into new dimensions and directions. I do not know what these dimensions and directions will look like, but it seems to me inevitable to articulate their openings in Lacanian theory.

Lacan’s theory on signification

Jacques Lacan’s theory on signification is built on Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory on signification. Thus, I will introduce de Saussure’s model of sign first and then juxtapose it with Lacan’s theory. This does not imply that they are models of the same thing, but this way of comparing the two models highlights the essentials in Lacan’s model.

In de Saussure’s model, we see a closed oval divided in two:


Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.58.26 AM

Picture 1: de Saussure’s model of a sign

In this model, we can see that a sign has two sides, signified and signifier, which are tightly connected. This tight connection is marked by the oval around these two sides and by two arrows on both sides of the sign. Signified and signifier are tied together, and there is no other without the other. They are like two sides of the same paper. What is more, the signified is on the upper position, marking the primary role of the signified, that is, of meaning. De Saussure’s model of sign presupposes the ruling position of meaning in communication: signs are used for transporting meanings.

We can juxtapose Lacan’s model of the relationship between signifier (S) and signified (s) with de Saussure’s model:

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 8.00.13 AM

Picture 2: Lacan’s model of the relationship between signifier (S) and signified (s

In Lacan’s model, there is a big S, for the signifier, on the top and small s, for the signified, under it:



Picture 3: Lacan’s model as written open

Here we see easily that the oval around the two dimensions of a sign has disappeared, as the arrows on the both sides of a sign have disappeared, too. This change is the kernel of my presentation and, on the practical level, it can be found in the radical refusal of Bartlebies at the clinic. This small change in the model of a sign has tremendous clinical meaning.

We can see also that the positions of signified and signifier have been exchanged: in de Saussure’s model the signified is on the top – meaning its primary position in de Saussure’s theory – whereas in Lacan’s model the primacy of signifier is central.

When the oval and the arrows disappear, as they do in Lacan’s model, what are left are the three elements of a sign: signifier, signified and the bar between them. For Lacan, it is this bar between signifier and signified that Freud has given us a lesson or two, namely, it, and nothing else, is the repression.

In its minimalistic way, Lacan’s model captures what is essential for speaking being: every act of signifying has its collective side (signifier) and its individual side (signified), and even if these sides affect on each other different ways, there is an abyss, impossibility, between them, and there is no straight bridge over this abyss. An individual will never be fused with the collective. In other words, the fusion between an individual and the collective is impossible. There have been societies which have tried this fusion with catastrophic consequences. The Bartlebies we encounter in our daily work should remind us about these catastrophes. What Hitler, Stalin and Kim Jong-un have not managed to do, we should not even try to do.

I elaborate this a bit. Namely, when the oval around signified and signifier has been taken away, a sign does not form anymore a solid whole. In Lacan’s model, signifier and signified are not the permanent same two sides of the same paper always tied together. On the contrary, signifier and signified can and will move in regard to each other. In the act of signification, they “touch” somehow on each other, but the bar between them keeps them separated all the time. No fusion of signifier and signified occurs for that is impossible.

This leads to the never-ending change within signification: the meaning of what is said and written is not and will never be fixed or secured. Fixing of meaning has been and will be tried again and again, but it is always a question of power and force. A fixed meaning is an illusion produced by power. In this way, Lacan’s theory on signification leads logically to his theory of discourses, for the discourse is exactly where the power of and on signification is realised.

Lacan’s theory on discourses

Lacan’s theory on discourses presents how the impossibility which separates signifiers from signifieds is dealt with within four different discourses. So, if we were stuck on a Saussurean theory on signification, Lacan’s theory on discourses would seem to us to be totally incomprehensible. This means that in order to grasp Lacan’s theory on discourses you have to have some basic idea on Lacan’s theory on signification. Logically, the theory on discourses is the further development of the theory on signification.

The basic discourse, a kind of starting point of human psyche, is formed by master’s discourse:

S1 → S2

$       a

Picture 4: Master’s discourse

Due to omnipresent lack of time and space, I can bring forth only the most important things in regard to our topic. In master’s discourse, the master signifier (S1) dictates all the other signifiers (S2). This is our psyches’ basic orientation in the world: it structures our world and makes it somehow liveable. Without this base, everyday life would be intolerable. In families without the basic structures of everyday life, children suffer – often, if not always – unexplainable anxiety. In these families, the master’s discourse has not been constructed well enough to support the children through their everyday life. “Well enough” implies here many dimensions and, thus, can be broken in many different ways.

As implied by its name, master’s discourse relies on power: behind or within the structured world, there is always power. We can easily see that master’s discourse and power are not, as such, good or bad. In fact, Lacan’s theory on discourses implies a different ethics than simple dichotomy between good and bad.

The result of master’s discourse can be found under the master signifier (S1): master’s discourse results in divided subject ($) and the lost object of desire (a). As such, this is how the “normal” neurotic subject is formed in Lacanian theory.

The information society of our times challenges every master’s discourse. This has been the case, at least, since the birth of written language: writing questions the discourses ruled by the present master. In our times of internet and individual media, master’s discourse is challenged more than ever. Thus, master’s discourse has been supported more and more by a kind of master’s servant discourse, namely, university discourse. The main task of university discourse is to support master’s discourse:


S1       $

Picture 5: University discourse

In university discourse, knowledge as a set of signifiers (S2) takes the ruling position (left upper level). Whereas in master’s discourse master’s word was enough, university discourse produces knowledge on knowledge basing is propositions on the knowledge it has about some knowledge. However, underneath knowledge there is always the master signifier (S1) whose only explanation and legalization is that and what it is. University discourse is built on master’s discourse which it is summoned to save and legalize it again and again. This is easy to see if you watch everyday news on TV: those who are interviewed and, especially, those whose words are taken as the factual interpretation of situations are rich people, politicians and university experts, masters and their academic servants.

Against this power constellation of masters and university, there stands the discourse of hysteric women:

$ → S1

a      S2

Picture 6: Hysteric’s discourse

Hysteric women brought out and into the open the divided subject ($) who challenges the master (→S1). It is this divided subject not reducible to anything which is the result of signifiers and which challenges the orders and knowledge of masters and academics: what does it got to do with me…?

In Lacan’s interpretation, it was this hysteric revolution that opened room for psychoanalysis: psychoanalysis was born as response to hysteric initiative. What is more, the task of psychoanalysis was not to silence this hysteric attack, but to maintain this hysteric movement within discourse. In psychoanalysis, the analyst takes the position of the obscure object of desire (a) supporting thus hysteric questioning to the very end (this is called, for example, “traversing the fantasy”):


S2  S1

Picture 7: Analyst’s discourse

In analyst’s discourse, the master and knowledge can be found underneath the bar, not in the ruling position. In analysis, the analyst as the not-defined object of desire addresses the divided subject (a$). This act keeps the hysteric movement going on long enough for the change to take place in the subject. The analyst does not take the place of the one who knows but the place of emptiness. It is in this way that the agency stays with the subject.

Thus, we can introduce one more Lacanian concept: the subject supposed to know. The subject supposed to know is, from the beginning to the end, in the client. In fact, this is what Freud’s concept of unconsciousness implied: there is somewhere within the patient the knowledge needed for the cure. When a client, no matter if the client is a family or an individual, walks into your consulting room, there is within the client a subject supposed to know. This supposition opens up the room for psychotherapeutic process.

Through this short view on Lacan’s theory on discourses, we can see that when signifier and signified do not form a solid unite but are separated from each other, the mode of discourse implies always the positions of power, knowledge and agency, and that these positions differ from one discourse to another. The uniqueness of psychoanalysis – and, from my point of view, of family therapy – is explained by the positions power, knowledge and agency take in it. Saying this makes it possible for us to formulate the challenge we have with Bartlebies: how can we – from our position as educated masters (doctors, psychologists, social workers etc.) – ensure Bartlebies that we offer them something totally different from master’s and university discourse. This is the challenge and, as you can see from my way of putting it, a contradiction: a master from a university discourse claims that she is not acting as a master or as an academic.

Discourse of Bartlebies

Now, it is time to draw some conclusions from the theoretical considerations above. The adolescent Bartlebies take a similar position in our society as hysteric women did in Freud’s Vienna: both the adolescent Bartlebies and hysteric women refused to be integrated into the society within which they did not find a place for themselves. In both cases, this refusal seems to be insane, if you estimate it from the point of view of society. However, from the point of view of the refusing subject, it seems to be the only way the subject can keep some kind of agency for itself.

There are some essential differences, however, between the adolescent Bartlebies and hysteric women. First of all, if hysteric women of Freud’s times brought forth the abyss between different genders, the refusing adolescents bring forth the abyss between different generations. Many thinkers have considered the gender difference to be the problem of all thinking, but, needless to say, I claim the generation difference to be the problem of our times.

Secondly, even if Freud’s hysteric patients had sometimes very intensive symptoms with some self-destructive phenomena, they can hardly be compared to the self-destructiveness we see in today’s adolescent Bartlebies. Theoretically, this may be only a small change in the emphasis of the symptoms, but what it comes to clinical practice it makes a big difference: with hysteric women, Freud had time for processing what is going on, but with adolescent Bartlebies every weekend can be the last weekend. Time for processing hardly exists. And for clinical work, time means everything. Thus, the challenge of adolescent Bartlebies requires us to work in totally different pace and ways as the challenge of hysteric women.

Thirdly, and partly because of these two differences mentioned above, it is often vain and totally impossible to approach an adolescent Bartleby alone: the refusal of an adolescent Bartleby is often so total that the only way to approach her is through her family and other people around her. This is the area of family therapy. And, to be frank, there are already some openings to this direction, but as such, these openings are certainly not enough.

In short, we need theory and practices which can articulate the age of Bartlebies and answer the problems of adolescent Bartlebies without neglecting the ethical and, even, political dimensions of Bartlebies’ challenge. Bartlebies challenge society, and often with good reasons. Even if the words they give to their challenge are often pretty childish, the actual message can be read between or beyond the words: the world you give to us is not for us; it is adults’ world for adults, not a world for the children to come. As such, the discourse of Bartlebies articulates new revolution for which Bartlebies do not have words. Revolution without words is always destructive.

This is where we therapist might be helpful: as Freud did with hysteric women, we might be able to help adolescent Bartlebies to find their words for their experiences. How to do it, that is the question of the future. However, some sketches of the future can be predicted by what we know now. Not so surprisingly, these sketches return us to the basics of family therapy.

Namely, the refusal of Bartlebies includes knowledge. For them, knowledge is synonymous to master’s and university discourses – and thus something to be refused. As such, Bartlebies function as mirrors of our times showing us how things stand today: today, knowledge is seen as the privilege of universities. If you want knowledge, you either go to university or interview somebody from a university.

This implies a radical difference in regard to many revolutionary movements in the history of human kind. Namely, natural sciences were born when the subject supposed to know was moved from the Bible to scientific discourses. Feminist movements, as well, are all based on the idea that there is the subject supposed to know within the female human beings. Queer movements imply a similar expectation of the subject supposed to know within sexual minorities. Again, Freud’s psychoanalysis supposes the subject supposed to know within the analysand. And before Freud, Marx articulated a theory in which the subject supposed to know lies in the proletariat – and it is this thought on which the so called Nordic welfare State was based. Again and again, the historically important changes imply the subject supposed to know, and in none of these cases knowledge belongs to universities. Even in the case of natural sciences, this was not the case, for universities were ruled by theology.

But the Bartlebies refuse knowledge and the subject supposed to know. Bartlebies do not act as subjects on the level of representations; they do not acknowledge knowledge nor representational agency. What is left to them is the acting out against master’s and university discourses. Thus, they have only a negative agency in regard to representations, but – because there is no representation for their negation of representation – they cannot represent this to themselves nor acknowledge their role in the “play”.

This leads to a situation where Bartlebies can see themselves only as victims – for they can only see agency outside of themselves. Somebody has to be blamed, but because Bartlebies cannot recognize themselves as agencies, somebody blamed has to be, always and categorically, outside themselves. And, from a certain point of view, they are right: they did not decide where and when to born, how to be treated and mistreated; they did decide hardly anything. But the representatives of society see it otherwise: Bartlebies drink alcohol and smoke cannabis, Bartlebies do not go to school nor to work, Bartlebies act violently and break the rules of society.

So, what is the position of family therapy in all this: does it stand as the representative of society or the representative of a Bartleby? Neither, of course. Here, again, the basic rule of classical family therapy schools shows its value: the position of family therapy is that of the uttermost neutrality. If a family therapy process loses its neutral position, it loses everything. Thus, the simple sounding “join and keep your neutrality” is, in the end, all you need. In practice, it names the direction, for nobody can be totally neutral in the situations in which we find ourselves.

However, what I have said above, gives as a third rule of thumb for family therapy, namely that we have to suppose that there is the subject supposed to know within the family we meet. It is only through acknowledging knowledge that Bartleby’s acting our can be turned into acts with representations. Bartlebies do not acknowledge your knowledge, for you are only a representative of master’s and university discourses, but they might recognize knowledge, not about, but within and from their family. Thus the simple, but always so difficult guide lines for Lacanian family therapist would be:

1) Join.

2) Keep your neutrality.

3) Suppose the subject supposed to know within the family.

In the end, what we are doing is not rocket science: in the complex situations in which we find ourselves, only simple principles work. The task is to recognize them in the chaos of everyday life.

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Jean-Guy Godin



Aunty Needle Heel 

Presented at Clinical Study Days, New York, March 2016


She complains

We will call this analysand by the name of Aunty – and this is not her real name. We’ll get into more about her multiple names as the story goes on.

Aunty came to me through a colleague. Very soon she tells me her boyfriend is undergoing analysis with this colleague… She wants to share the lacanian psychoanalytic experience with the boyfriend.

Tall, thin, pretty… she is 27 years old. The boyfriend works in a bookshop. They live together… they share the rent… One big problem is they have a roommate that consumes drugs – heavy drugs. So he’s eternally stoned — Aunty can’t take it anymore but cannot make up her mind with putting an end to the lease, because the boyfriend doesn’t make enough money to pay his part of the rent.

Then she tells me of her sister and nephews. Aunty doesn’t have babies, the sister does. Aunty loves babies. She enjoys her nephews so much, the only problem she has with them is that they are not her own. Therefore, Aunty.

Back to the money for the rent … She makes enough money, more than enough she tells me. The matter is how.


Perverse traits

She works in a dungeon—a bordello that specializes in sado-masochism. The work she does is sex work, but she wants to make it very clear that it is different from prostitution.

Because there are the certain rules…

—Men are not allowed to penetrate you…it is forbidden. Say they try something, all I need to do is yell and the madam will be there in no time, to stop them, throw them out.—

And there are the different games arising from the client’s sexual fantasms.

        Before saying more about them she acts out a scene mumbling, moaning and whimpering

—I want to die…

But soon she forgets about dying and full of enthusiasm, she proceeds

—I prefer to play the domineering one

At least in that outfit they don’t tie her up…

Aunty wears leather clothing, high thin stiletto shoes, a whip, and she excels at verbal abuse…

—She asks me, do you know where the needle heel goes, I mean what it is you do with it?

—You’ll tell me next time.


Sadistic traits

Aunty Lady takes pleasure in attempting to engage me over her acute information—things that you supposedly know, yet, you don’t know… why would you know of such a thing…?

But the problem is not whether I know it or not. Aunty Lady’s jouissance comes along with the verbal transmission of the different practices. Her jouissance is now in words, not in things, not in the bodily sexual activity itself, but in her verbal report to the boyfriend.

Last session cut, back up front, she’s again talking about her doings with her shoe

—Do you know where the needle heel goes, I mean what it is you do with it?


Slightly she raises her voice

—It’s not where you think it goes.

We’ll talk more about it next time






The Fetish

Men come in by the hour. They masturbate: scream “Mommy, mom,” while Aunty performs sadistic acts; they bring their own tutus to wear, their petticoats, now they pee in the bathtub… “Aunty I’ve been bad, I need to be raped with a dildo…”

And do you have a fetish…?

—My heel of course, and the practice you don’t care to hear about…

She’s leaving rather angry… I’ve yet to hear her story of the heel. Now she says —I don’t mind.

What is desired? Desire goes off to hook on wherever it can. The fetish causes desire. With Lacan it’s not the little item of footwear, nor any other little thing. She doesn’t need to be wearing the little shoe, it just has to be there, somewhere.


Aunty Needle Heel

Her ambivalence brought up the question of the detachment from herself, of the detachment from her body. Her shoe is the tool. And her words…

Like the exhibitionist Aunty Lady wants to make Woman exist; she wants to make the Dungeon Woman exist. Women—one by one—do not exist for the exhibitionist.

This and other pervert traits make for my early diagnosis. Aunty Needle Heel wantsto force in the Other the gaze…

She finally gets away with the description of the man organ tortured by the heel—and this is how she wants to make sure the erection is on this side, my side—which corresponds with the side of the female gaze. For the exhibitionist the true erection is on this side.

—So I have power over the beasts—she says

I count two for the game. Her and I—

From the place of the tamed beast,



Now she tells me again and again that the boyfriend likes her doing the work.

At home he asks—she tells.

She tells him, and tells him, what she dubs erotic stories, otherwise the erection, his erection may fail to appear…

Does Aunty play the domineering at home?

—Not with my boyfriend, with him it’s all about telling—

She’ll tell until she sees the erection

—dominance comes with the story I tell, since I am the one to know it. He is on the side of submission whether he likes it or not, he likes to listen, about me, about my practice, he loves details … And there is the problem that we need the money, and I am making a lot. He looks so happy when I walk into the room and lay the money on the table.

Too happy for Aunty Lady’s liking,

In the same way as the voyeur, the boyfriend brings in the gaze to obstruct the hole in the Other—he brings in the gaze to make the Other whole; the voyeur needs to make the Other exist to be an instrument of his jouissance.

Sublimation presupposes a non-existent object.

Lacan’s Woman as exception, in the guise of the Lady of courtly love-is a masculine fantasy, the masculine fantasy par excellence. As the exception that accounts for the phallic function we have the dark figure of the primordial father-jouisseur who was not encumbered by any prohibition and was as such able to fully enjoy all women.

Does the figure of the Lady of courtly love not fully fit these determinations of the primordial father? Is she not also a capricious Master who wants it all, meaning, she, herself is not bound by any Law…? Woman is one of the names-of-the-father.


samdmanThe dream

She tells me about a dream in which she was making her art, and this is how I get to know Aunty Lady is an artist—that draws, that paints… Again, if only she could sell her work—get hold of some money by means other than the dungeon.

—Can we conceive of the dungeon being artwork? I asked.

Extreme words spoken by the Other—the Other being me—Aunty Lady lies in silence, till she says—I wish.

She recognizes her desire in the Other, in the Other’s words about the dungeon art, and this is a change.







Washington, DC

Another facet of Aunty Lady’s work involves wealthy clients that ask her to travel to places, meet them at hotels This one she is telling me about wants her to travel to Washington, DC. She is excited with the proposition because of the extra money.

Aunty Lady is back from Washington. A mishap at the door of the hotel had turned her frantic with worry

—the doorman opened my bags, went through my leather clothes, my very high heel boots, my whip, my extreme underwear… What if he took me for a whore! Now screaming

—I am not a whore, you know…

—What are you?

—I am not…

I cut the session

We are dealing with the being, here. The actual lack-in-being which we bring to analysis… For the case of a fetishized one, becoming active with being the object it no longer knows what it is doing. Meaning is lost. The dimension where she is to be found lies in his taste for shoes…for shiny noses.

Again, in Washington had taken place the bondage issue that upsets her.

—I don’t like being tied-up, I am afraid of being so dependent, so fragile…what if the man becomes abusive? In Washington, DC there was no one outside the door to call for help—

Non-existent as Woman happens to be, Aunty Lady lies in tears, says that she wants to be rescued. Rescued from what?

—From the Dungeon, of course, from my life—she says.

I ask if she pleasures herself some way, in any way…

Aunty Lady goes on to tell how sometimes she would find the certain effect in her undergarments…only now and then.

A response of the real?

Her body as an Other to herself, it has a life of its own…

Because Aunty Lady is “very monogamous…” she’s particularly careful not to hurt the relationship with her boyfriend.

—I am not a whore — she insists

Again the lack of self representation, what, who is she?

The detachment from her body is plurality. We counted a third one:

* Aunty Lady the loving one

* Aunty Lady that lies on the analyst’s couch

*Aunty Needle Heel that works at the Dungeon

­—Aunty Needle Heel doesn’t count, she says.

*My supervisor tells me to find out about the father.






342b0831d0a34854c8f11cc77e727085gsThe family romance

She tells me of the family romance: at the age of 12 she was living with the mother, the husband of the mother and the sister, who was at this point 14. The cops came to the house, got the two girls into the police car, and took them to the station. She gets to know the mother’s boyfriend was forcing the sister into having sex. The police learned about it because the sister had told her teacher.

Aunty Lady comments on the weakness ofher own father, and now this one, a stepfather who gets her riding in a police car. And she speaks about the upset sister spilling her guts while they were stuck in traffic…

Now in school everybody knows what happened at home.

She begins questioning the ownership of her own body. I recognize the detachment mentioned when speaking of the misfortunes of the underwear…

Woman as Other…I quote JA Miller:She is central to perversion, not only the Other to the man, she is Other as such. And because she is Otherness … what is normal is always only non-male.”

—I want my boyfriend to ask me to stop working in a dungeon; I want to build a family—live together, have kids.

Like Psyche and Amor, she will hold the light over her boyfriend—he wants a dungeon girlfriend. The drop of oil that fell from the lamp burned Love—it flew away.


To conclude…the pervert makes himself be objet petit a… also de analyst. We want to distinguish the analyst as objet petit a from the pervert as objet petit a.

Would anybody like to guess what’s become of Aunty Lady’s love life?


Artworks by Christina Ramberg, 1970-73. 

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In Quest of the Oulipo
Harry Mathews

Still from “My Nightmare” by Richard Kern

A couple of directors have found success in American box offices over the past two years with films that portray unsimulated, penetrative sex. Lars Von Trier (Antichirst, Nymphomanic), and Gaspar Noe (Irreversible, Enter the Void) have transgressed any boundaries that previously existed for showing sex on the screen in mainstream American movie houses. These films led many film writers to ask questions like “What’s the difference between Nymphomaniac and Porn,” as Amy Nicholson did when she titled her January 2014 review of the film in the Village Voice.

Pornographic material is largely based on the subjective experience of the viewer, and therefore you’ll have to rely on experience to know whether or not the purpose of the film is to arouse the audience by the subject’s physiological reaction. When enough people are asking “is this pornography” we must assume that many viewers will at least see the potential to become sexually aroused during a screening of the film. Currently a simple search of any of the title of any of the von Trier or Noe films mentioned above + pornography in Google will return a video hosting site called X-Videos—which aggregates and host user generated pornographic movies—featuring sex clips from each of the four movies. So we can see that there are several internet porn consumers out there that are in fact watching these films as pornography.

The question in regards to judging a film’s quality should not be whether the film is pornographic, but whether or not the sexually stimulating material benefits the experience of viewing the film. Many filmmakers today will try to  elicit a physiological reaction from the viewer—be it fear, sexual arousal, laughter, etc.—and with filmmaking today the techniques used to such altering to a person’s body have become so readily available that it is rarely interesting to have it for anything more than the pure pleasure of a some sort of release of neurotransmitters like a shot of drugs, rather than access to the fantasm of individual viewers through narrative.

There is the issue of transgression—narrative requires a conflict and will therefore require a transgression of some kind to function. Sexual transgressions have been occurring on the screen since the silent era. By the Sun’s Rays (1914), depicted a thief  played by Lon Chaney, who attempted to rape a female character—the earliest surviving example of a precursor to the infamous scene in Noe’s Irreversible. These graphic scenes can potentially ameliorate a narrative, of course, much like they do in classic suspense films like The Birds or Psycho, sucking the viewer into the story by assaulting the senses with suspense in horror.

In 1934 the Hays Code was established in hollywood, restricting most depictions of sex on the screen, forcing filmmakers to come up with euphemisms when a love story would reach a climax. The well-known golden-era method for depicting sexual behavior in a way that would meet the approval of the censure board, was the lighting of a cigarette.


Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 14.26.39

“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.”

Although no graphic sex is depicted in the famous scenes where Humphrey Bogart first acted with his future wife, Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, the implication through gestures related to the mouth was enough to send audiences imaginations reeling for the two decades following, as pop-culture tabloids obsessed over the actors’ relationship until the end of Bogart’s life.

Smoking and other euphemisms for sexual activity symbolized intercourse in American cinema until the demise of the Hays Code, and depicting nudity became more normalized. Independent films that bordered on pornography, such as the early sexploitation films—which had a clear intent of sexually arousing the audience—influenced the ability to depict sexual acts on the screen in films like A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Last Tango in Paris (1972). The Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA), which replaced the Hays Code in 1966, has progressively become more liberal with their R rating.

Aide from the MPAA, International and Independent film has been depicting sex as part of the narrative for several decades. In the Lower East Side Cinema of Transgression movement of the early the 1970s through early 1992, filmmakers like Richard Kern and and Tina L’Hotsky used on screen sex and nudity for the purpose of incensing the mainstream mores. Films like My Nightmare (Richard Kern, 1993), a short film that depicts an explicit sexual fantasy of the director cut in with his realistic masturbation that occurs while the fantasy transpires. It’s attempt to create a meta fantasy for the viewer may or may not be lost on the sexual arousal that occurs while watching the explicit scenes, but nevertheless the film is transgressive in that it depicts sexual acts in a way that is not meant as pornography. After the Cinema of Transgression, sex depicted on film cannot alone be transgressive because these boundaries have already been broken. An attempt to depict sex alone in a rebellious matter would merely function as the commodification of the original rebellion.

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So if there’s is nothing rebellious of sex left to show in movies, what else are we gaining from the depiction of nudity in cinema? A 1977 film titled Barbie by New York director Tina L’Hotsky, displays full frontal female nudity aggressively, but manages to clearly achieve another emotional reaction besides sexual arousal. Barbie—played by an anonymous young, busty blond woman—comes back to her apartment nude after grocery shopping. She unpacks her bags, which contain a Barbie doll and spices, and she begins cooking the doll incarnation of herself in a fry pan—an impossible task if we are to consider that the live action actress is meant to be the animated film incarnation of the doll. The actress performs no sexual acts but the imagery is expected to already be highly sexualized before watching due to the cultural heritage of Barbie. The non-sexual nudity, coupled with a soundtrack that consists of a loud surf rock song and sirens blaring, created an usual level of anxiety in my viewing. Although there is little room for the viewer to develop a fantasy based on their own desires enabling a narrative to more closely relate to the viewers individual experience—as there is when sex is depicted with the lighting of a cigarette—the film manages to create sensation with merely a bombarding of the viewer’s senses. This is something easily achieved with horror or pornographic films, but this film has the ability to achieve an emotional response that is unique.

Here the film functions like Lacan’s lamella:

This lamella, this organ, whose characteristic is not to exist, but which is nevertheless an organ – I can give you more details as to its zoological place  – is the libido.

It is the libido, qua pure life instinct, that is to say, immortal life, irrepressible life, life that has need of no organ, simplified, indestructible life.  it is precisely what is subtracted from the living being by virtue of the fact that it is subject to the cycle of sexed reproduction.  And it is of this that all the forms of the objet a that can be enumerated are the representatives, the equivalents.

It is easy to recognize Lacan’s omlette monster, as Zizek does in a horrific monster such as Ridley Scott’s Alien, but here we see the film affected our own body without narrative, merely a sensational attack on the body. In fact the film is itself the horror—it’s like walking into a room with a monster. There’s no narrative required to develop the fantasy of horror—the sensation is immediately present. If we take away the suspense leading up to to the horror in Aliens, there’s going be far less complicated emotions—more like pornography except less likely to elicit a response as easily graphic sexual imagery does.

Depictions of sex such as the infamous rape scene in Irreversible function in a similar way, in that it allows little room for the desire of the other, but instead imparts a physiological reaction on to the viewer whether they like it or not. This is the filmmakers fantasm being imparted on to the viewers, unlike Bogart and Bacall where viewers sympathize with the characters and develop a relationship to their own lives through the narrative. We can perhaps relate this to another recent graphic sex scene in Michael Hanake’s the piano teacher, where the female lead, Erika (Issabelle Hupert) becomes lifeless during a sex scene that she has been fantasizing about.  In conversation with Issabelle Huppert, Slavoj Zizek questioned if the lifelessness was due to an absence of fantasy:

Slavoj Zizek: There is a very  brutal scene that struck me. A scene—and it hurts me to tell you this—that made me impotent. It’s the scene where the piano teacher you incarnate lets herself be taken sexually like a cadaver—with terrible coldness, by her twenty year-old student. Is it that, at that instant, the fantasmatic dimension is totally absent?

The cold lifeless reaction of Erika is perhaps a symbol of fantasm realized, much like occurs when we watch a graphic scene. As opposed to an implied onscreen sexual act, a graphic depictions will leave the fantasy lifeless. But as Isabelle Hupert points out in her response to Zizek’s questioning, if the fantasy is ever present—as a naked Barbie surely is—then we are already immersed in a narrative that occurs with that fantasy.

Isabelle Hupert: No, I think that the fantasy is totally present all along the film, which comes to play immensely over the fantasm, the imaginary. At the start, the pianist makes of the romantic feeling an extremely high idea! high to a point that it emulates Bach’s music.

When the material is without an immersive narrative—as Barbie, Nymphomaniac, Enter the Void arguably are—the viewers are going to be forced to develop fantasies from their own life experience and desires that preexisted the film. Lars von Trier posits that his method is “digressive,” which we can perhaps recognize in American Post-Modern literature such as the work of Thomas Pynchon or David Foster Wallace. That is a style that follows a central theme for the purpose of digressing into whatever the author feels like expounding upon, rather than offering a fantasy for the reader to fall into. Lars von Trier’s use of sex as the central theme in Nymphomaniac is obviously one that is going to keep the attention of most contemporary film viewers by bombarding their senses with stimulating material, but it doesn’t leave much room for an individual to relate that experience to their own personal life—just the information of the filmmakers choosing—so it is unlikely to have any lasting affect on the viewer.  “It is necessary for the other to lack something so that it could have something to desire.”  The viewer almost certainly don’t lack sexual fantasies in their life, and it’s doubtful lack trite ramblings about fly-fishing or religion—like the digressions by the characters of Nymphomaniac do. If the senses are to be bombarded for lasting effect filmmakers need to be aware that their sensationalism is merely causing a physiological reaction, that will need to accompany some narrative related to the viewer’s life, if not within the film, then one that already exists out in the world like Barbie.


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Angel Atrapado X
John Yau

by Jacques-Alain Miller

(Originally published in Newsletter of the Freudian Field: Volume 3, Numbers 1 & 2, Spring/Fall 1989)

My first point is entitled: Aetiologia. But first let me dispel any conception that my title, “To Interpret the Cause,” is a Lacanian catch-phrase. When Freud introduces the wolf dream in Chapter IV of his History of an Infantile Neurosis, he stresses this very point; that he was convinced – and he mentions that his patient accepted his conviction – that the cause of the infantile neurosis of the Wolf Man was hidden behind the dream. The text says precisely: “das hinter ihm die Verursachung seiner infantilen Neurose verborgen sei.”1

So, this farfetched interpretation, Freud’s augury about the dream, going from its explicit content to its concealed content, is an interpretation aiming at the cause, the hidden cause. And the very notion of the hidden cause is central to psychoanalytic practice and to psychoanalytic theory. At this preliminary point, which I have made to accustom you to the very idea of the cause, let us not forget that from the outset Freud’s investigation began as a tentative aetiology of the psychoneuroses. Aetiology means a discourse of causes. From the start, Freud was going in search of causes. And you re- member that at the beginning he was looking for actual causes of the psychoneuroses. For instance, he considered the practice of masturbation as a cause for deficiency of sexual potency and for the neuralgias. Then, Freud had to concede that psychoneuroses were present effects of past causes, and not actual causes. Moreover, he conceded that the real past causes were hidden to the consciousness of the patients. And, it is in this past that Freud was obliged to invent the very concept of repression. That is to say, he rein- vented the concept of a hidden cause with deferred effects, Nachträglich, a triggered après-coup, a posteriori, and by a second event. In the famous case of the Wolf Man, this concept of the Nachträglich is present on every page. It is the major text by Freud which presents


precisely this; that those effects are as a posteriors. In the Wolf Man case, the second event which triggers the effects of the hidden cause is the famous dream itself.

So, I believe that I am on a very solid ground when I propose that psychoanalysis has always been a discourse about the cause. And psychoanalytic practice has always been looking for the cause. Let us take a shortcut now. What is a cause? If we refer to the case of the Wolf Man, there is no ambiguity in Freud’s answer. The cause, broadly spea- king, is the sexual act between the father and the mother as absorbed by the one-and-a- half-year old child. In psychoanalysis, interpretation not only aims at the cause, we may even say, interpretation stumbles on the cause. For instance, the use of the myth of Oedi- pus in psychoanalytic practice, the Freudian Oedipus that is the symbolic frame of inter- pretation insofar as interpretation aims at the cause, conceived here as the sexual rela- tionship, the erotic relationship, which binds together father, mother, child – the family. And, we may even say, that the Freudian cause taken as pre-Oedipal cause is the key to the transference insofar as transference may appear to be a repetition of the fundamental relations of the patient to the parents.
Newsletter of the Freudian Field: Volume 3, Numbers 1 & 2, Spring/Fall 1989
And you know the consequences of this point of view. It paved the way for inter- pretations of transference construed as “paternal” or “maternal” transference. You know that some modern analysts say that Freud analyzed from the position of the father, that he accepted the position of the father in the transference, and they prefer that the maternal position now be more operative in analysis. In any case with this reference to the Oedipal cause, you also have a key to the various theories of transference. Transference and inter- pretation are, as you know, the classical pair of interrelated notions. I am not going to give the would-be classical presentation of this pair of notions, however, because I gave it in some sense four years ago in Amherst, Massachusetts, at the colloquium on trans- ference.2 At that time, I was preoccupied with giving the classical presentation of this pair of notions.

Today I am going to try, if I may say so, to break new ground by following Lacan in understanding what psychoanalysis is about; new ground in understanding, in articulat- ing as they say, the desire of psychoanalysis. And this talk falls in the same sequence as my course in Paris, whose title this year is “Cause and Consent” [1988]. I see Bruce Fink here who attends my course and participates in my weekly seminar. Well, perhaps, he would tell you, in effect, that what I have been saying here is precisely the point I was trying to


present fifteen days ago in Paris, and which I continue to come back to. And this point is also an effort to give a unified theory of the Freudian field or to see how Lacan has given such a unified theory of the Freudian field. I do not know if I will have time to get that far, but that is my aim.

Causes Versus Law

Now, let us take a second point, which I shall call “Causes Versus Law.” This is still pre- liminary. The first two notions of cause and law are easily confused I would say, one with the other. As a matter of fact, thinking in a scientific framework, we consider that there is a fixed relationship between cause and effect, a stable and fixed relationship. And so we may try. Eventually scientific investigation aims to formulate laws of the relationships between a given cause and a given effect. That is elementary epistemology – which is not our central topic today – so I shall skip a lot of the various concentrations I cover in my course. What is central in the idea of a law, from the scientific point of view, is – I would select two words – first, regularity. When there is a law, we anticipate the regularity of the manifestation of the effect once a cause is present. So, a law allows anticipation of what is going to take place. It allows predictions. When we have laws and no capacity for prediction, we always wonder if we truly have a law, if it is truly a science.

I do not know if it is a bad memory for some of you [reference to a recent stock- market plummet], but there are various phenomena in the economic field which cast a certain doubt on a scientific rationale, for instance, of the economy. Nevertheless, there are always prices in economy; such novelties are not for psychoanalysis. When you can
Newsletter of the Freudian Field: Volume 3, Numbers 1 & 2, Spring/Fall 1989
not even predict, and you have a whole lot of laws, you wonder what field you are in. So, regularity.

And, second, I would say, continuity. As a matter of fact. When a cause is in- scribed in a law such that you may say the same cause produces the same effect, you are faced with a continuous chain because you may ask of the cause itself, what is the cause that causes this cause? That is to say, a cause is at the same time the effect of another cause. So, when you inscribe the cause in laws, you are, as a matter of fact, faced with a chain of necessity, determinism, where you have not – it is very difficult to do – pin- pointed a cause. You have a chain of causes and effects, and when you think about that in a theoretical way, you wonder where this chain of


cause and effect begins. And you know that those who introduced the scientific discourse in our culture in the seventeenth century were inclined to have, had to have, a theory of God which – we are accustomed to making a separation between science and religion made a link between science and religion. From the start, scientific discourse was grounded precisely on this continuity of causes and effects.

The cause I am talking about, the cause in psychoanalysis – the word cause is in the very title of the École de la cause freudienne – the cause we are speaking of, the Freudian cause, is a cause with another content. It is a cause – not as inscribed in a law of regularity and continuity, but rather a cause which so preoccupied David Hume in the 18th century when he showed that the very term the “cause”, as separate, as primary, was non-conceptual. And, you know that the reasoning of Hume triggered the philosophical effort of Kant himself. I cannot take up again the argument of Hume. And you know, perhaps, that Karl Popper, in our century, has built all his schemology on Hume’s argu- ments about causality I cannot give you a resume of these arguments, but you may un- derstand that, if you have a continuity in this way, you may never be able to pinpoint the cause as separate. So, as a matter of fact, if you think of the relationship between cause and chain, you may understand that cause, the very notion of cause, involves a breaking up of the chain. That is to say, the question of the cause can only appear when there is a breaking up of the chain. So, you may ask, where is the cause at the very moment where there is this lack? I would say, in the concept of causality as distinct from legality, one finds a concept of cause as distinct from law. And it always implies the notion of a missing link. You direct yourself to the idea of cause precisely when there is this missing link. That is to say that discontinuity, and not regularity, is essential to the notion of causality. And, if you think – let me take a shortcut – of the chain as a chain of signifiers, precisely the famous chain of signifiers, well, you may understand that with the concept of cause, the chain of signifiers …. Well, I would put it like that:

S – S’ – S”- S”’- S””
You may understand that cause necessitates the removal of one signifier, as being the

missing link. And this removal of one link is precisely what

S – S’ –

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Believe It or Not
Michael Turnheim

The Knottings Seminar of the NLS: “Moments of Crisis” Saturday, 10 January 2015 at 2pm – 5pm

The London Society of the NLS Seminar: “Moments of Crisis” Towards the NLS Congress, Geneva, 9/10 May 2015

Going Through a Crisis: Times Before, During and After a Crisis in Analysis with Natalie Wulfing and Gabriela van den Hoven

    • Saturday, 29 November 2014
    • 2.30 pm – 5 pm
    •  Room 2E, ULU, Malet Street
    •   £10


Gil Caroz: Moments of Crisis 

‘There can be no crisis of psychoanalysis’ Jacques Lacan interviewed in 1974

J.A.M.: The Financial Crisis

Carlo Vigano: Jacques Lacan and the Crises of Identity 

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The Weight of Words
Yasmine Grasser

by Josefina Ayerza

They had just made love.  Kichi returns from the bathroom.  Sada takes him in her hand and says,

—As soon as you finish you are ready to start again—

Who is Sada talking to, her look certainly not directed toward Kichi but to “whom” she holds in her hand?  Kichi answers,

—It is as if he was yours—

Kichi’s part-body detaching, Sada finds the image of what she desires in the body of whom she loves.  Yet the part that gets detached is not just any part.  What gets detached, already an image, is the phallus—an image of the penis—still a signifier, a lack.  “The organ actually invested with this signifying function takes on the value of a fetish.”1  Says Sada,

—Yes, he’s mine… Tell me why that it always becomes so hard so quickly?—

She may want to deprive him of what he has, but what she really wants is that it be her own…again she wants it to be herself…she wants to be the phallus—a feminine one.  But that part also enjoys, much as the subjects resulting from the copulation of the signifiers enjoy.  “A kiss they call it,”2  Says Kichi,

—Because it is really you who desires it—

Who is you?  The desiring you, made out into a craving geisha, may well allude to Lacan’s supposed Other, Sada relating to the signifier of that Other when saying,

—I want it again—

The very dramatic issue in The Realm of the Senses3 is the fact that it is a true story.  Sada is a prostitute and now she works at an inn where Kichi is the owner, the headman and her boss.  They get involved in a love affair and have to run away from Kichi’s wife in order to live their passion.  A breathless passion, at the outmost point of infatuation Sada will strangle Kichi after his own instructions.  —If you start don’t stop in the middle, it hurts too much.  Once dead she will cut out his penis and testicles.  The movie ends with Sada wondering in a park, out of her mind, the parts still bleeding within her hands and fingers.

Lacan comments on the movie, this is 1977.  He walked out dumbfounded.  Pondering over the power of Japanese culture, he points to feminine eroticism pushed to such an extreme:  Woman in her fantasm wants to kill man.  And the case with Sada is that she didn’t get enough by doing so.  She kills Kichi and still wants more.  Now Lacan asks himself, why did she have to cut him up after killing him, how come she didn’t do it before?  Thus he will finally conclude about the incident in the movie that castration is not the fantasm.

What is castration in this context?  Contradictorily, what is the case with criminal fantasy when it comes to immolate woman?  Offense somehow assigned to the signifier, “…a woman can but be excluded by the nature of things, which is the nature of words;”4  let’s say that Willem de Kooning paints the ramble of her mutilation and Jacques Lacan will tell the story.

De Kooning’s series of paintings Woman 1, Woman 2… fairly depict the process by which Lacan’s woman is systematically dismembered as she gets deprived of yet another part.  So she reaches the point of annihilation.  Formerly the love object—obscure cause of the desire—a lost object, she’ll walk throughout seminar XX in a not-whole, nonexistent apparel.  Again she will at once be the symptom, and so will the analyst.

But what is it to be the symptom where it partakes of the cause of the desire?  If symptom is the single way each one happens to enjoy his/her unconscious framework, symptom is as well what you structure your life around.

Love and desire foregoing, the emergence of jouissance will spell.  Woman the symptom of man is a hole.  Let woman lend her body for the man to enjoy it, she will all along not be herself, only the very intrinsic attributes—mother, prostitute, wet-mother—she comes to embody.  A social bias to the symptom, the fact won’t prevent it from being distinguished throughout a particular lucubration—not in that it stands for an exception, but in that it comes from anyone.  Say the case is a boy inflamed by the baby sitter who happened to remove her hosiery while he pretended to be asleep; say that it is a president getting the intern to give him a blow job in the White House oval room; say that it is an anonymous King at the sado-masoquist Online Chateaux seducing women into becoming their slaves in writing. The far fetched memory in the fanciness of an outworn significance will return because it bears the mark.

When man enjoys, it’s the jouissance of his organ.  The phallus, an image of the sexual organ, moreover a representation of the certain image, is nevertheless a lack—of the organ itself.  The signifier will bring up the erotic, and in this sense it precedes ejaculation, male’s extrinsic jouissance, of the body… And phallic jouissance will also determine woman, her ex-sistence: the jouissance of the Other is off language, off the symbolic.  But the terms are not equal; man is not the given symptom of woman.  From this perspective the symptom of woman is also woman.  How so?

To answer with Lacan castration cannot be deduced from development alone, since it presupposes the subjectivity of the Other as the place of its law.  Still there are phallic women, and in this sense woman is prone to define herself in terms of man, in parity with the phallus, her place in the Other to remain ambiguous.  “Man here acts as the relay whereby the woman becomes this Other for herself as she is this Other for him.”5


…to play the part of the man (faire l’homme), as I have said, being thus hommosexuelle themselves…they love each other as the same (elles se mêment) in the Other.6


Woman conflates “man and homosexual: she loves men, she loves like a man, and her desire is structured in fantasy like his.”7

Should Greta Christina, Queen of Norway befit the personage, she may in turn evince the Spinozian rule in contemporary culture.  An this is Slavoj Zizek’s theory “You can get whatever you want but with the substance removed: coffee without caffeine, cigarettes without nicotine…” for the case, sex without penetration.


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Americans, still one more Effort...
Josefina Ayerza

Rose-Paul Vinciguerra—Daughter, Woman, Daughter 

Marie-Helene Brousse—A Difficulty in the Analysis of Women: The Ravage Effected by the Relation to the Mother

Dominique Holvoet—The Mother/Daughter Couple and its Destiny 

Dominique LaurentDeath Drive in the Feminine 

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Sacrifice and our Destiny
Armand Zaloszyc

The sudden appearance of something familiar—what you wanted most—surfaces within the frame of what appeared to be a larger more uncertain world. You thought you had struck out on your own, moved away, arrived in the big city or small town, the university, or the commune, that was to provide a fresh start, but the spectre of the too-close-to-home rises up. You unravel, thinking and forgetting, opening and shutting the cupboards of your mind over and over. And now you are on the kitchen floor, listening for the scurrying feet of mice behind the doors. It’s a relief, something to focus on, a problem to solve – but can you can stay down there, stopped in your tracks, listening, dreaming obsessively of pest control? How did this happen? Everything went too well. You were offered a chance, maybe one too many. You wreck, how will you survive this success? Call it the uncanny, the too familiar in the impossible place, where it should not belong. Too pretty dolls & beloved corpses come to life; your hands are stained with the blood of those you wished to their deaths; the mother is yours. That bigger world, mediated by rules and orders, dissolves into the grandiosity of infancy you crave so much that you cannot bear the trace of it.


She is the (m)other of anxiety, the one you want. In Mourning and Melancholia, Freud tells us that we can lose someone without knowing what we have lost in them. Anxiety is what we gain without knowing what we have gained in our triumph. The mother, our phantasm, is gained and lost over and over, fort & da. Like a B-novie femme fatale, whenever she shows up there’s trouble. Maybe she holds our hand as we look in the mirror that first time, and when we turn to her, the discovery of our newfound – and separate – image reflected in our eyes, does she lose too much at that moment? Does she hate us then as well?





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Why does a Letter always arrive at its Destination?
Slavoj Zizek

norb21151_seewhatimean norb18147_letters norb19149_female


norb12141_tabletalk norb9137_dick-blake norb8135_yoehoe norb3129_primapapier

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The Lesbian Session
Slavoj Zizek


Freud begins common.

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To Begin With
Josefina Ayerza


Freud begins common.

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To Resume...
Josefina Ayerza


Freud begins common.

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To Resume Again...
Josefina Ayerza


Freud begins common.

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