The two laws, limits and position: a new post

by Julia Evans on July 10, 2011


This commentary, see below, revolutionised how I construct the workings of Absolute Power.  This form of power motors the Privy Council, Health Professions Council – HPC, Skills for Health – SfH – competencies and National Institute for Clinical Excellence – NICE – clinical guidelines.  Pierre Naveau presented this to the London Society of the New Lacanian School’s 2003-2004 seminars on Jacques Lacan’s ‘Kant avec Sade’.

My exploration started with:  ‘Moment of Truth: the Newman reference‘ by Philip Boxer, November 26, 1995.  This commentary, now available on was presented to a group working on Lacan’s ‘Science and Truth’ and it provoked me into an exploration of the different positions involved with relations to the two types of knowledge.  My current position towards the Government’s use of ‘scientific knowledge’ owes much to Philip’s work.

Pierre Naveau explores how two forms of law are established: ‘This means there are two laws:  ‘Law with a capital ‘L’ and law with a small ‘l’.  My (Pierre Naveau’s) thesis is that the Sadean philosopher tries to find a solution to the problem of the difference between these two laws.’

There are consequences to taking the Sadean position:  the beyond or crossing of limits, their removal of their victim’s subjectivity, and their rage when their certainties fail.  There are comments on all of these in Pierre Naveau’s commentary.

Why is this important?  In order to challenge the use of this absolute power being applied to practices based in relationships of trust and love, it is necessary to construct what is going on.  Philip Boxer in a conversation last Wednesday stated two propeties of what is going on:

The systematic use of Absolute Power always fails eventually – hence the Sadean philosopher’s rage.

Those in power are enjoying themselves so much, they will protect their positions and undermine anyone who challenges them.

I have, through regx2 circulations, explored many examples of how this is being played out.  The current one is the Murdoch empire.  Murdoch is still protecting Rebekkah Brooks and has probably made Andy Coulson the fall guy.  He thought he was in complete control of the UK Government and was paying to corrupt the Police.  Other examples:

the HPC ‘fitness-to-practice, kangaroo, courts’

the disgraceful way the HPC stuffed poison into Denis Postle – I will recirculate the references eventually

Outcomes measurements especially when applied to IAPT – this treats both sufferers and practitioners as objects

The control of therapeutic provision  to the market by the British Psychoanalytic Council, UKCP, BACP, HPC, CHRE and others.

Use of NICE clinical guidelines to create taint

And so on.

In the discussion section, there is an explanation of why the psychoanalytic practitioner position is very easily taken over by the Sadean position.

And what is an ethical position when you are practicing?  Or do you care, providing the mortgage is covered?  I will be returning to this anon.

Time for the post Sunday lunch nap…….

I hope to be posting two other of the interventions into these Kant avec Sade series.

With best wishes



Lacanian Works

Fantasy and the Limits of Enjoyment: ‘The Mother-Daughter Relationship’: Thread and Needle

by Pierre Naveau on January 8, 2004

I will speak about the last page of Lacan’s text ‘Kant with Sade’, where Lacan writes:

Of what Sade is lacking here, we have forbidden ourselves to say a word [on that point].  One may sense it in the gradation of the Philosophy [the Philosophy in the Boudoir] towards the fact that it is the curved needle […] which is finally called upon to resolve a girl’s Penisneid, and quite a big one.

Be that as it may, it appears that there is nothing to be gained by replacing Diotima with Dolmancé, someone whom the ordinary path seems to frighten more than is fitting and who […] closes the affair with a Noli tangere matrem.  Violated and sewn up, the mother remains forbidden.  Our verdict upon the submission of Sade to the Law is confirmed. (‘Kant with Sade’ p75 – see note 1)

My objective is to comment on these lines of the text.

Sadism is, in this text, an affair between a mother and her daughter.  That is a very paradoxical point.

Lacan underlies that Sade is not psychotic – he is submitted to the law.  Why?  Because, for him, the mother remains forbidden.  The title of my presentation is ‘Thread and Needle’. You will see why.

The limit between pleasure and jouissance

Jouissance is forbidden.  Lacan says precisely:

“Jouissance is forbidden to he who speaks as such”.

(from ‘Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire’ see note 4)

But, it is not the law itself that bars the subject’s access to jouissance.  It is pleasure that sets the limit on jouissance.  This means there are two laws:

Law with a capital ‘L’ and law with a small ‘l’.

My thesis is that the Sadean philosopher tries to find a solution to the problem of the difference between these two laws.  On the one side, there is the Law of prohibition of jouissance, and we can add, of prohibition of the jouissance, and we can add, of prohibition of the jouissance the mother, and, on the other side, there is the law of pleasure, or rather the law of permission of pleasure.  We could speak of an antinomy between pleasure and jouissance, a natural and a cultural barrier.