Presentation of Jacques Lacan’s Seminar VI (2nd part): in Paris : 26th May 2013 : Jacques-Alain Miller

by Julia Evans on May 26, 2013

Translated by Adrian Price

Published by Latigazo :

Available here

Circulated by New Lacanian School: as [nls-messager] 947.en/ Bulletin Latigazo Nº 2 in English : 6th February 2014 18:41 : Available here or at  /authors a-z or authors by date


Note : information about English translation and availability of references is given below. All of Jacques-Alain Miller’s references have been found – see below.

The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here

Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan : Availability given here

The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacanor here

Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here.

a)  Seminar VI, p372 : he acknowledges the object as the ‘structural element of the perversions’, which on page 373 :

Translated by Cormac Gallagher : Seminar VI, 15th April 1959, p218 :

What is important in this properly structural element of the imaginary phantasy in so far as it is situated at the level of o, is in part this opaque character, the one which specifies it in its most accentuated form as the pole of perverse desire, in other words what makes of it the structural element of perversions, and shows us then that perversion is characterised by the fact that the whole accent of the phantasy is put on the aspect of the properly imaginary correlative of the other, o, or of the parenthesis in which something which is o plus p plus q etc. – it is the whole combination of ……. ; the most elaborated find themselves reunited here according to the adventure; the sequelae, the residues in which there has comes to be crystallised the function of a phantasy in a perverse desire.

Nevertheless what is essential, and is this element of phenomenology to which I alluded above, is that you should recall that no matter how strange, how bizarre the phantasy of perverse desire may be in appearance, desire is always in some fashion involved in it. Involved in a relationship which is always linked to the pathetic, to the pain of existing as such, of purely existing, or of existing as a sexual term. It is obviously in the measure that the one who suffers injury in the sadistic phantasy is something which involves the subject in so far as he himself can be open to this injury that the sadistic phantasy subsists. And one can only say one thing about this dimension, which is that one cannot but be surprised that it has been thought possible to elude it for a single instant by making of the sadistic tendency something which in any way could be referred to a pure and simple primitive aggression.

I am dwelling a good deal on this subject. If I do so, it is only to properly accentuate something which is that towards which we must now articulate the veritable opposition between perversion and neurosis.

If perversion is then something well and truly articulated, and exactly at the same level, as you are going to see, as neurosis, something interpretable, analysable, in so far as in the imaginary elements something is discovered of an essential relationship of the subject to his being, in an essentially localised, fixed form as has always been said – neurosis is situated by putting an accent on the other term of the phantasy, namely at the level of the $.

I told you that this phantasy as such is situated at the extreme, at the tip, at the level of the abutment of the reflection of subjective interrogation in so far as the subject attempts to grasp himself there in this beyond of the demand, in the very dimension of the discourse of the Other in which he has to rediscover what was lost by this entry into the discourse of the Other. I told you that in the final analysis it is not the level of truth, but the moment of truth that is in question.

This in effect essentially is what shows us, what allows us to designate what most profoundly distinguishes the phantasy of neurosis from the phantasy of perversion.

b)  Seminar VI, p373 : underpinned by the subject’s relation to time. In this case ‘the object takes charge of the signification […] of the hour of truth’: From Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Seminar VI, 15th April 1959, p218 : The phantasy of perversion I told you, can be named, it is in space, it suspends some essential relationship or other. It is not properly speaking atemporal, it is outside time. The relationship of the subject to time in neurosis, is precisely something of which little is said, and which is nevertheless the very basis of the relations of the subject to his object at the level of phantasy.

In neurosis the object is charged with this signification which is sought for in what I call the moment of truth. The object here is always at the moment before, or at the moment after. If hysteria is characterised by the foundation of a desire qua unsatisfied, the obsessional is characterised by the function of an impossible desire. But what is beyond these two terms is something which is a double and inverse relationship in one case and the other with this phenomenon which blossoms, which emerges, which manifests itself in a permanent fashion in this procrastination of the obsessional for example, founded on the fact moreover that he always anticipates too late. Just as for the hysteric there is the fact that he always repeats what there was initially in his traumas, namely a certain too soon, a fundamental immaturity.

It is here because of this fact that the foundation of a neurotic behaviour, in its most general form, is that the subject always tries to read his moment in his object, and even as one might say that he learns to tell the time, it is at this point that we rediscover our Hamlet.

c)  Seminar VI : In other words, you have to re-read these seven lessons on Hamlet which are framed by these two quintessential points of emergence of the fantasy. : From 4th March 1959 (p162 Cormac Gallagher’s translation) : 11th March 1959 : 18th March 1959 : 8th April 1959 : 15th April 1959 : 22nd April 1959 : 29th April 1959 : 27th May 1959 : 3rd June 1959 (p290) ; 10th June 1959 (p304)

d)  Seminar VI : last section, which is made up of eight chapters, allows us to grasp what Lacan has brought to us here : From Session 19, 29th April 1959

e)  Seminar VI : in chapter XX, the first of this final section, on ‘The Fundamental Fantasy’, he explains that this is a limit to interpretation such as he himself had set it out in the conclusion to his article on ‘The Direction of the Treatment…’, namely: ‘any exercise of interpretation possesses a character of cross- referencing from wish to wish’. :

From Cormac Gallagher’s translation : 13th May 1959, p251 :  Namely that the history of desire is organised in a discourse which develops in senselessness – this is what the unconscious is – in a discourse whose displacements, whose condensations are without any doubt the displacements and condensations to be recognised in discourse, namely metonymies and metaphors. But metaphors which as opposed to metaphor do not engender any meaning. Displacements which do not carry any being, and in which the subject does not recognise something which is being displaced. It is around the exploration of this discourse of the unconscious that the experience of analysis has developed.

It is therefore around something whose radical dimension we can call the diachrony of discourse. What constitutes the essence of our research, the place where there is situated what we are trying to grasp again in terms of what this desire is, is our effort to situate it in synchrony. We are introduced to this by something which makes itself heard every time we approach our experience. We cannot help seeing, help grasping – whether we read the account, the textbook of the most original experience of analysis, namely Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams (Availability given The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here), or whether we refer to any session whatsoever, to a succession of interpretations – the character of indefinite deferment (renvoi) that there is in every exercise of an interpretation which never presents desire to us except in an articulated form, but which supposes in principle something which requires this mechanism of deferment from wish to wish in which the movement of the subject is inscribed, and also the distance that he finds himself from his own wishes.

This is why it seems to me that we can legitimately formulate the hope that the reference to structure, a linguistic reference as such, in so far as it reminds us that there cannot be a symbolic formation if alongside, and fundamentally, primordially in every exercise of the word which is called discourse there is not necessarily a synchrony, a structure of language as a synchronic system. This is where we are trying to detect what the function of desire is.

f) such as he himself had set it out in the conclusion to his article on ‘The Direction of the Treatment…’ : Availability given The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacanor here : p277 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : A man of desire, of a desire that he followed against his will into ways in which he saw himself reflected in feeling, domination and knowledge, but of which he, unaided, succeeded in unveiling, like an initiate at the defunct mysteries, the unparalleled signifier: that phallus of which the receiving and the giving are equally impossible for the neurotic, whether he knows that the Other does not have it, or knows that he does have it, because in either case his desire is elsewhere; it belongs to being, and man, whether male or female, must accept having it and not having it, on the basis of the discovery that he isn’t it.

It is here that is inscribed that final Spaltung by which the subject articulates himself in the Logos, and on which Freud was beginning to write [12], giving us, at the ultimate point of an oeuvre that has the dimensions of being, the solution of the ‘infinite’ analysis, when his death applied to it the word Nothing.

[12} Freud (Sigmund), ‘Die Ich-spaltung im Abwehrvorgang’, G.W. XVII, ‘Schriften aus dem Nachlass’: p58-62. Manuscript dated 2nd January 1938 (unfinished); ‘Splitting of the Ego in the Defensive Process’, Collected Papers, V, 32: p372-5

g) Seminar VI : for example the dream of the butcher’s beautiful wife, and so on, it is precisely the effect of an indefinite cross-referencing of desire. : 10th June 1959, p301 – 302 (Probably the reference) of Cormac Gallagher’s translation of Seminar VI : The object of the phantasy, in so far as it ends up at this desire of the other, it is a question of not approaching it, and for that obviously there are several solutions. We have seen the one which is linked to the promotion of the phobic object, to the object of prohibition. Prohibition of what? When all is said and done of a jouissance because it opens up before the subject the abyss of desire as such.

There are other solutions. I already indicated them to you in these two schematic forms in the Royaumont report. (see below probably p264 of Alan Sheridan’s translation) The desire of the subject can be sustained by the subject before the desire of the other. He sustains it in two ways, as unsatisfied desire, this is the case of hysterics. I remind you of the example of the butcher’s beautiful wife where this structure appears in such a clear fashion, this dream in whose associations there appears as it were the avowed form of the operation of the hysteric.

The butcher’s beautiful wife desires to eat caviar, but she does not want her husband to buy it for her, because it is necessary that this desire should remain unsatisfied. This structure which is pictured there in a little manoeuvre which forms moreover the warp and woof of the daily life of these subjects, goes much further in fact. This story gives the meaning of the whole function that the hysteric gives herself. It is she who is the obstacle. It is she who does not want. Namely that in this relationship of the subject to the object in the phantasy she comes to occupy this same third position which above was devolved on to the phobic signifier, but in another fashion.

It is she who is the obstacle, it is she who is at stake in reality. And here jouissance is precisely to prevent desire in situations that she herself constructs. This is one of the fundamental functions of the hysterical subject; in the situations that she constructs her function is to prevent desire coming to term in order that she herself will remain what is at stake.

She takes the place of what we could call using an English term a ……., namely something like a manikin. ….. has a broader, more general sense. It is a false likeness. The hysteric, in so far as in a situation so frequently observed that it is really clearly recognisable in the observations – it is enough to have the key which is that of her position between a shadow which is her double, a woman who is in this hidden fashion this point precisely where there is situated or inserted her desire in so far as she must not see it – the hysteric establishes, presents herself in this case, as the mainspring of the machine, the one who suspends and situates them with respect to one another like kinds of puppets for she has to sustain herself in this sort of reduplicated relationship which is that of $ ◊ o.

The hysteric is nevertheless in the game herself in the form of the one who when all is said and done is the stake.

See p264  Availability given The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacanor here  : Quote from Seminar VI : I already indicated them to you in these two schematic forms in the Royaumont report. : p264 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : One of the principles that follow from this is that:

– if desire is an effect in the subject of the condition that is imposed on him by the existence of the discourse, to make his need pass through the defiles of the signifier;

– if, on the other hand, as I have intimated above, by opening up the dialectic of the transference, we must establish the notion of the Other with a capital O as being the locus of the deployment of speech (the other scene, ein andere Schauplatz, of which Freud speaks in ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ – Availability given The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here;

– it must be posited that, produced as it is by an animal at the mercy of language, man’s desire is the desire of the Other.

h) This desire, such as it features in ‘The Direction of the Treatment…’, such as it makes up the fifth and final part of this article, is defined, I quote, as ‘the metonymy of the want-of-Being.’3 : Maybe p258 – 259 of Alan Sheridan’s translation. Please note: the reference to smoked salmon is from Sigmund Freud’s patient, the Butcher’s Wife.

The desire of the hysteric’s dream, and indeed any other snippet in this text of Freud summarizes what the whole book explains about the so-called unconscious mechanisms ,condensation, sliding (glissement), etc., by bearing witness to their common structure: that is, the relation of desire to that mark of language that specifies the Freudian unconscious and decentres our conception of the subject.

I think my pupils will appreciate the access that I provide here to the fundamental opposition between the signifier and the signified, in which, as I show them, the powers of language begin, though in conceiving the exercise of these powers I leave them plenty of rope to twist.

Let me recall to your attention the automatism of the laws by which are articulated in the signifying chain:

G) the substitution of one term for another to produce the effect of metaphor;

(b) the combination of one term with another to produce the effect of metonymy I17]. (See below for quote)

If we apply them here, we see that whereas in our patient’s dream the smoked salmon, the object of her friend’s desire, is all that she has to offer, Freud, by suggesting that the smoked salmon is substituted here for caviar, which, indeed, he considers to be the signifier of the patient’s desire, is presenting the dream as a metaphor of desire,

But what is metaphor if not an effect of positive meaning, that is, a certain passage from the subject to the meaning of the desire?

Since the subject’s desire is presented here as that which is implied by her (conscious) discourse, that is to say as preconscious – which is obvious enough since her husband is willing to satisfy her desire, but the patient, who persuaded him of the existence of this desire, insists that he should do nothing about it, and it has to be Freud again who articulates it as the desire for an unsatisfied desire – one must go further if one is to learn what such a desire means in the unconscious.

Now the dream is not the unconscious itself, but, as Freud points out, the royal way to it. This confirms me in the belief that it proceeds by means of metaphor. It is this metaphorical effect that the dream uncovers. But for whom? We shall return to this later.

Let us observe for the moment that if the desire is signified as unsatisfied, it does so through the signifier : caviar, qua signifier, symbolizes the desire as inaccessible, but, as soon as it slips as desire into the caviar, the desire for caviar becomes its metonymy – rendered necessary by the want-to-be in which it is situated.

Metonymy is, as I have shown you, the effect made possible by the fact that there is no signification that does not refer to another signification, and in which their common denominator is produced, namely the little meaning (frequently confused with the insignificant), the little meaning, I say, that proves to lie at the basis of the desire, and lends it that element of perversion that it would be tempting to find in this case of hysteria.

The truth of this appearance is that the desire is the metonymy of the want-to-be.

Footnote : [17] Lacan (Jacques),’L’instance de la lettre dans l’inconscient ou la raison depuis Freud’, Écrits, Seuil, Paris; p493. Cf.p.146 of Alan Sheridan translation availability given Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here : See The Agency (Insistence or Instance) of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason since Freud (Sorbonne, Paris) : 9th May 1957 : Jacques Lacan or here  : p156 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : By which we see that the connection between ship and sail is nowhere but in the signifier, and that it is in the word-to-word connection that metonymy is based.

I shall designate metonymy, then, the one side (versant) of the effective field constituted by the signifier, so that meaning can emerge there.

The other side is metaphor. …

P157 : The creative spark of the metaphor does not spring from the presentation of two images, that is, of two signifiers one of which has taken the place of the other in the signifying chain, the occulted signifier remaining present through its (metanymic) connection with the rest of the chain.

One word for another: that is the formula for the metaphor and if you are a poet you will produce for your delight a continuous stream, a dazzling tissue of metaphors.

Or p265 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : Desire is produced in the beyond of the demand, in that, in articulating the life of the subject according to its conditions, demand cuts off the need from that life. But desire is also hollowed within the demand, in that, as an unconditional demand of presence and absence, demand evokes the want-to-be under the three figures of the nothing that constitutes the basis of the demand for love, of the hate that even denies the other’s being, and of the unspeakable element in that which is ignored in its request. In this embodied aporia, of which one might say that it borrows, as it were, its heavy soul from the hardy shoots of the wounded drive, and its subtle body from the death actualized in the signifying sequence, desire is affirmed as the absolute condition.

Even less than the nothing that passes into the round of significations that act upon men, desire is the furrow inscribed in the course; it is, as it were, the mark of the iron of the signifier on the shoulder of the speaking subiect. It is not so much a pure passion of the signified as a pure action
of the signifier that stops at the moment when the living being becomes sign, rendering it insignificant.

i) Direction of the Treatment : Prior to Seminar VI, desire was laid out precisely as something that is utterly insubstantial, whilst being the repercussion of a lack. This is why Lacan had insisted on Leonardo’s oft-cited image of Saint John, with his finger raised pointing upwards to an elsewhere.4 p276  of Alan Sheridan’s translation :

One is aware here of the terrible temptation that must face the analyst to respond however little to demand.

Furthermore, how can the analyst prevent the subject from attributing this response to him, in the form of the demand to cure, and in accordance with the horizon of a discourse that the subject imputes to him with all the more reason in that our authority, for no good reason, assumed it.

Who will now disencumber us of this tunic of Nessus that we have spun for ourselves: does analysis respond to all the desiderata of demand, and by diffused norms? Who will sweep away this pile of dung from the the Augean stables of the psychoanalytic literature?

What silence must the analyst now impose upon himself if he is to make out, rising above this bog, the raised finger of Leonardo’s St John, if interpretation is to rediscover the disinhabited horizon of being in which its allusive virtue must be deployed?

19. Since it is a question of taking desire, and it can only be taken literally, since it is the nets of the letter that determine, overdetermine, its place as a bird of paradise, how can we fail to demand that the birdcatcher be first of all literate?

j) refer you to page 446, you will find there the logic of the fantasy such as it is unpacked and articulated in this seminar.  : Probably p264, 20th May 1959, of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : It is therefore in the measure that before the other as subject of the word, in so far as it is primordially articulated, it is with respect to this other that the subject himself is constituted as subject who speaks. Not at all as primitive subject of knowledge, not at all the subject of philosophers, but the subject in so far as he poses himself as regarded by the other, as being able to respond to him in the name of a common tragedy, as a subject who can interpret everything that the other articulates, designates, about her most profound intention, her good or bad faith.

Essentially at this level, if you will allow me a play on words, the S is really posed not alone as the S which is inscribed as a letter, but also at this level as the Es of the topographical formula that Freud gives of the subject, ça. Ça in an interrogative form, in the form also that if you put here a question mark the S is articulated. S, this is all that at this level the subject still formulates of himself. He is at the state of being born in the presence of the articulation of the other in so far as it responds to him, but as it responds to him beyond what he formulated in his demand.

S, it is at this level that the subject is suspended, and that at the following stage, namely in so far as he is going to take this step in which he wants to grasp himself in the beyond of the word, and himself as marked by something which primordially divides him from himself qua subject of the word; it is at this level qua barred subject that he can, that he must, that he intends to find the response, that that also he does not find it in so far as he encounters in the other at this level this hollow, this emptiness which I articulated for you by saying that there is no other of the other, that no possible signifier guarantees the authenticity of the sequence of signifiers, that he depends essentially for that on the good will of the other, that there is nothing at the level of the signifier which guarantees, authenticates in any way the signifying chain and word.

And it is here that there is produced on the part of the subject this something which he draws from elsewhere, that he brings from elsewhere, that he brings in from the imaginary register, that he brings in from a part of himself in so far as he is engaged in the imaginary relationship to the other. And this ……. which comes here, which emerges at the place at which there is brought to bear, in which there is posed the interrogation of the …. about what he really is, about what he really wants. It is there that there is produced the emergence of this something which we call o, o in so far as it is the object, the object no doubt of desire, and not in so far as this object of desire might be directly coadapted with respect to desire, but in so far as this object comes into play in a complex which we call the phantasy; the phantasy as such; namely in so far as this object is the support around which, at the moment when the subject faints before the lack of the signifier which corresponds to his place at the level of the other, finds his support in this object.

Namely that at this level the operation is division. The subject tries to reconstitute himself, to authenticate himself, to rejoin himself in the demand directed towards the other. The operation stops. It is in so far that here the quotient (conscient) that the subject tries to attain, in so far as he has to grasp himself, reconstitute and authenticate himself as subject of the word, remains here suspended in the presence, at the level of the other, of the appearance of this remainder through which he himself, the subject, supplies, pays the ransom, manages to replace the lack at the level of the other, of the signifier which corresponds to him.

It is in so far as this quotient (conscient), and this remainder, remain here in the presence of one another, and as one might say are sustained one by the other, that the phantasy is nothing other than the perpetual affronting of this S; of this S in so far as it marks this moment of fatigue of the subject in which the subject finds nothing in the other which guarantees him in a fashion that is sure and certain, which authenticates him, which allows him to situate himself and to name himself at the level of the discourse of the other, namely qua subject of the unconscious. It is responding to this moment that there emerges, as supplying for the signifier which is lacking, this imaginary element which we call in the most general form, as a correlative term of the structure of the phantasy, of support for S as such at the moment that he tries to indicate himself as subject of the unconscious discourse.

Or p292, 3rd June 1959, of Cormac Gallagher’ translation : I will now clearly specify what I am trying to get you to sense about the relationships of $ and o. I will first of all give you a model which is only a model, the Fort! Da!, namely something which I need make no further commentary on, namely this moment which we can consider as being theoretically the first in the introduction of the subject into the symbolic in so far as it is in the alternation of a signifying couple that there resides this introduction in relation to a little object whatever it may be, let us say a ball, or just as easily a little piece of cord, something frayed at the end of the bed, provided it holds up, and that it can be rejected and brought back. Here therefore is the element in question, and in which that which is expressed is something which is just before the appearance of S, namely the moment at which the S questions himself with respect to the other qua present or absent.

It is therefore the locus through which the subject enters at this level into the symbolic, and makes emerge at the beginning this something for which Mr. Winnicott, because of the requirements of a thought completely oriented towards primary experiences of frustration, introduced the term which is necessary for him in the possible genesis of any human development as such, the transitional object. The transitional object is the little ball of the Fort! Da!

k)  Seminar V : p464 : This refutes a category that had been created in Seminar V : See Seminar V : The Formations of the Unconscious : 1957-1958 : begins 6th November 1957 : Jacques Lacan or here  : Seminar V (26) : 18th June 1958 : p344 to p345 of Cormac Galagher’s translation : Only the other is not that. It is precisely not purely and simply the locus which is this something perfectly organised, fixed, rigid. It is an other which is itself symbolised. This is what gives it its appearance of liberty. It is a fact that it is symbolised, and that what happens at this level of the other of the other, namely of the father in this instance, of the locus where the law is articulated from the point of the perspective of (ou) him, who depends on an other; this other is itself subjected to signifying articulation, more than subjected to signifying articulation, marked by something which is the denaturing effect – let us strongly underline it – of our thinking, of this presence of the signifier which is still far from having arrived at this state of perfect articulation that we take here as a sort of starting hypothesis, simply to illustrate our thought, of this effect of the signifier on the other as such, of this mark of it that it was subjected to at this level.

It is this mark that represents castration as such.

If we have formerly, in the castration-frustration-privation triad, clearly marked in castration that the action is symbolic, that the agent is real, that one needs a real father, that castration exists, that castration, is a symbolic action, and that it bears on something imaginary. We find here the necessity for this: it is in so far as something passes from the real to the level of the law, a more or less inadequate father, it does not matter, or something which replaces him, but something which holds his place, that this is produced: the fact is that there is reflected in the system of demand, in the system of demand where the subject establishes himself, this something which is its background, namely which marks in this system of demand, far from being articulated, far from being perfect, but far from being fully productive or fully used, which marks in its background, this something which is called the effect of the signifier on the subject, the marking of the subject by the signifier, the lack, the dimension of lack introduced into the subject by this signifier.

This lack which is introduced, is symbolised as such in the system of the signifier as being the effect of the signifier on the subject. The signified properly speaking, the signified which does not come as one might say so much from the depths, as if life abounded in significations, but which comes from elsewhere, from language and from the signifier as such, in order to imprint on it this sort of effect which is called signified.

This is symbolised primitively as is indicated by what we have put forward about castration. The fact that what emerges as a support for the symbolic action properly speaking, which is called castration, is an image, an image chosen as one might say in the imaginary system to be its support, this something in which the symbolic action of castration chooses its sign. It is borrowed from the imaginary domain, something in the image of the other is chosen to carry the mark of a lack which is this very lack through which the living being perceives himself, because he is human, namely because he is in relationship with language, perceives himself as excluded from the totality of desires, as something limited, local, as a creature, in this instance as a link in the chain of life, as only being one of those through whom life passes, unlike the animal, who is only effectively one of those who realises the type who in this sense can be considered by us as in relationship to the type, each individual as already dead.

We ourselves are also already that for them. We are already dead with regard to the movement itself, this movement itself of life, which because of language we are capable of projecting in its totality, and even more, in its totality as having arrived at its end.

It is exactly what Freud articulates in the notion of death instinct. He means that for man, life here and now is projected as having arrived at its term, namely at the point at which it returns to death.

l) p451 : Seminar VI : ‘the subject brings in […] from the imaginary register, something of a part of himself in so far as it is engaged in the imaginary relation to the other’, in the specular relation with the little other. Third, this object has a ‘stand-in’ function : Possibly 20th May 1959, p268 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : There are three kinds of references to it in analytic experience, well and truly identified up to now as such.

The first kind is the one which we habitually call, rightly or wrongly, the pregenital object. The second kind is this sort of object which is involved in what is called the castration complex. And you know that in its most general form it is the phallus. The third kind, is perhaps the only term which will surprise you as being a novelty, but in truth I think that those of you who have been able to study carefully enough what I wrote about psychoses will not find themselves all the same essentially upset by it, since the third kind of object fulfils exactly the same function with respect to the subject at his point of failing, of fatigue, is nothing other, and neither more nor less, than what is commonly called a delusion, and is very precisely the reason why Freud, from almost the beginning of his first apprehensions, was able to write: ‘These people love their delusion as they love themselves’ (Sie lieben also den Wahn wie sich selbst) [Draft H 24.1.1895 – Availability given Letter of 24th January 1895 and Draft H, Paranoia (The Emma Eckstein episode) : 24th January 1895 : Sigmund Freud or here].

We are going to take up these three forms of the object in so far as they allow us to grasp something in their form which allows them to fulfill this function, to become the signifiers which the subject draws from his own substance to sustain before himself precisely this hole, this absence of the signifier at the level of the unconscious chain.

m) Seminar VI :  chapter XXII, when Lacan is questioning anew the nature of the object man that corresponds to a subject-cut, he brings in the pre-genital object : Probably 27th May 1959, p278 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : There is nothing in significance which is the guarantee of truth. There is no other guarantee of the truth than the goodwill of the other, namely something which is always posed for the subject in a problematic form.

Does that means that the subject remains stuck with his question, of this entire ……. regarding what for him gives rise to the kingdom of the word? It is precisely here that we arrive at our phantasy. Already the last time, I showed you that the phantasy in so far as it is the concrete abutment by which we tackle at the limits of consciousness, how this phantasy plays, for the subject, this role of imaginary support, precisely of this point at which the subject finds nothing which is able to articulate him qua subject of his unconscious discourse.

It is to this then that we must return today, to question more closely what this phenomenon is about. I remind you of what I said the last time about the object, as if the object played here the same role of mirage as at the lower stage the image of the specular other plays with respect to the ego. Therefore then, over against the point where the subject is going to situate himself to accede to the level of the unconscious chain here there is proposed the phantasy as such. This relationship to the object as it is in the phantasy leads us to what, to a phenomenology of the cutting from the object in so far as it can support, on the imaginary plane, this relationship of cutting which is the one at which at this level the subject has to support himself.

We have seen this object qua imaginary support of this relationship of cutting at the three levels of pregenital object, of castrating mutilation and also of the hallucinatory voice as such, that is to say less in so far as it is an embodied voice than discourse qua interrupted, qua cut off from the interior monologue, qua cut off in the text of the interior monologue.

Let us see today whether a whole lot more does not remain to be said if we come back to the meaning of what is expressed there, because also what is in question, with respect to something which I already introduced the last time, namely from the point of view of the real, from the point of view of knowledge. At what level are we here since we are introduced to the level of an esse? Is this esse something other than an ambiguity, which is open to being filled up with any meaning whatsoever. Where are we going to stop, in its verbal belonging by conjugation, to the verb to be. Something was already contributed to this the last time. It is a question in effect of knowing at what level we are here as regards the subject in so far as the subject does not locate himself simply in terms of discourse, but also indeed in terms of some realities.

n)  chapter XXII the real making a return – ‘what are these here objects of the fantasy, if not real objects? : Seminar VI : 27th May 1959 (22) : p278 to 279 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : I am saying the following: if something is presented, is articulated which we might, in a coherent fashion, entitle reality, I mean the reality that we take into account in our analytic discourse, I would situate its field on this schema here in the field which is beneath the concrete discourse, in so far as this discourse en-globes it and encloses it, is a reserve of a knowledge, of a knowledge which we can extend as far as everything that can speak for man. I mean that he is not for all that obliged, at every instant, to recognise what he has already included of his reality, of his history in his discourse, that everything that is presented, for example, in the Marxist dialectic, as alienation can here be grasped and articulated in a coherent fashion.

I would go further. The cut, let us not forget – and this is already indicated to us in the type of the first object of the phantasy, the pregenital object. What am I alluding to as objects which can here support phantasies, if not to real objects in a close relationship with the vital drive of the subject, in so far as they are separated from him. It is only too obvious that the real is not an opaque continuum, that the real is of course made up of cuts, just as much and well beyond the cuts of language and it is not today or yesterday that the philosopher Aristotle spoke to us about the ‘good philosopher’, which means, as I understand it, just as much someone who knows in all its generality, who can be compared to the good cook, he is the one who knows how to insert the knife in the right place, cutting at the articulations, knowing how to penetrate without injuring them.

The relationship of the cutting of the real to the cutting of language is something therefore which, up to a certain point, appears to satisfy the thing in which the philosophical tradition has always been installed, namely that it is only a question of the overlapping of a system of cutting by another system of cutting.

o) p492-7 : Seminar VI : the perverse fantasy in the passage à l’acte of the exhibitionist and voyeur, : Seminar VI : 3rd June 1959 : Chapter 23 : p293 –  295 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : This is why I will not go directly to the neurotic, because this may appear to you too easily as a simple reduplication: I desire myself desiring, and desire myself desiring as desired etc. This is not at all what is in question, and this is why it is useful to spell out again the perverse phantasy. And if today I can not go any further I will try to do so by taking one of the most accessible phantasies, and one which is moreover closely related to what I alluded to above in the observation that I evoked, namely the phantasy of the exhibitionist; of the voyeur also, because you are going perhaps to see that it would be well not to be satisfied with the fashion in which the structure in question is usually reported.

We are usually told, it is very simple, this perverse phantasy is very nice, the impulse. Of course one likes to look, or one likes to be looked at, these charming vital drives as Paul Eluard said somewhere. In short there is something there, the drive, which takes pleasure in what Eluard’s poem expresses very prettily in the formula Donner à voir, a manifestation of the form offering itself spontaneously to the other.

And in sum, I would point out to you, that it is not nothing to say this. This no longer seems so simple to us. It implies, because this is the level that we were at last evening, namely the implicit subjectivity there can be in an animal life, it implies all the same a certain subjectivity. It is scarcely possible even to conceive of this giving a look at (donner à voir), without giving to the word ‘to give’ the fullness of the virtues of the gift, all the same a reference, an innocent, unawakened one no doubt, of this form to its own richness.

And we also have quite concrete indications of it in the ostentation demonstrated by these animals in the manifestations of the captivating parade, principally of sexual parade. I am not going to start wriggling the stickleback in front of you again, I think that I have spoken to you about it at enough length to give a meaning to what I am in the process of telling you. It is simply to say that in the sweep of a certain behaviour, however instinctual we may suppose it to be, something may be implied which is this little movement of return, and at the same time of anticipation which is there in the sweep of the word. I mean a temporal projection of this something which is in the exuberance of the drive to show oneself, as we can rediscover it at the natural level.

Here I can only incidentally, and for those who were at the scientific session last night, urge the person who intervened on this subject to see that it would be appropriate precisely in this temporal anticipation to modulate what is perhaps expectation no doubt in the case of the animal in certain circumstances, with this something which allows us to articulate the disappointment of this expectation as a deception. And the medium I would say, at least until I am convinced of the contrary, seems to me to be constituted by a promise.

Whether the animal promises himself the success of one or other of his behaviours, this is the whole question for us to be able to speak about deception instead of a disappointment of expectation.

Let us come back now to our exhibitionist. Is he inscribed in any way in this dialectic of what is shown, even in so far as this shown is linked to the pathways of the other? I can here simply point out to you all the same that in the exhibitionistic relationship to the other – I am going to employ rough and ready terms to make myself understood; they are certainly not the best, the most literary ones – that the other must be struck at the level of his complicitous desire – and God knows the other is so at times – by what is happening here, and by what is happening as what: as a breach (rupture).

Notice that this breach is not an indifferent one. It is essential that this breach should thus be the trap for desire. It is that it is a breach which passes unnoticed for what we can call on this occasion the most part. And it is perceived by the one that it is addressed to qua unnoticed elsewhere. So that everyone knows that there is no real exhibitionism, except of course for some supplementary refinement, in privacy. In order precisely that it should be, that there should be pleasure in it, it must happen in a public place.

And then we come to this structure in our big boots and we say to him: my friend if you show yourself at such a distance it is because you are afraid to approach your object: come closer, come closer. I ask you what sort of a joke is this. Do you think that exhibitionists do not copulate? Clinical experience is completely against this. They are sometimes very good husbands to their wives except that the desire which is in question is elsewhere. They require of course other conditions; these are conditions which it would be well to dwell on here.

One can clearly see that this manifestation, this elective communication which is produced here with the other, satisfies a certain desire only in so far as there are put into a certain relationship a certain manifestation of being and of the real in so far as it involves a symbolic framework as such. This moreover is what makes a public place necessary: one has to be quite sure that one is in a symbolic framework. Namely: I point this out for the people who reproach me with not daring to approach the object, of giving way to some fear or other – that I put as a condition for the satisfaction of their desire precisely the maximum of danger. Here again people will go in the opposite direction, without worrying about the contradiction, and they will say that it is danger that they are looking for. It is not impossible.

Before going that far let us try all the same to notice a structure: the fact is that on the side of what here plays the part of object, namely those who are involved, one or several little girls for whom we should in passing shed a tear to show our good intentions, it can happen that the little girls, especially if there are several of them, enjoy themselves a lot while this is going on. This even forms part of the pleasure of the exhibitionist; it is a variant.

The desire of the other is there then as an essential element in so far as it is surprised, as it is involved beyond modesty, that on occasion it is complicitous. The variations are possible.

On the other hand what do we have here? We have here something whose structure I have already pointed out to you sufficiently just now. There is no doubt what he shows, you will tell me. But for my part I would say to you that what he shows on this occasion is rather variable; what he shows is more or less magnificent; but what he shows is something redundant which hides rather than unveils what is in question. One must not be deceived by believing that what he shows testifies only to the erection of his desire, the difference there is between that and the apparatus of his desire. The apparatus is essentially constituted by what I underlined as what is glimpsed in the unnoticed, which I called quite crudely a trousers which is opened and closed, and to speak plainly is constituted by what we can call the split (fente) in the desire.

This is what is essential. And there is no erection however successful one may suppose it to be, which supplies here for what is the essential element in the structure of the situation, namely this split as such. It is here also that the subject as such designates himself. This is what you must hold onto to see what is in question. And very probably what it is a question of making good. We will come back to it later because I want to check this against the correlative phenomenology of the voyeur.

p) p497 & Chapter XXIV : he compares it with what constitutes the fantasy in the neurotic : Seminar VI : 10th June 1959 (24) : p298 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Today, as I announced, I am going to try to situate for you the position of desire in what we can call the different nosological structures, those drawn from experience, at the first level of neurotic structure.

Ibid. p301 : The symptom at the deepest level in the neurosis, namely in so far as it involves in the most general fashion the position of the subject. This is what deserves to be articulated here.

If you do not mind we will proceed in this order: to be articulated first of all, then to ask ourselves if this structure of the phantasy is so fatal, how something which is on the brink of this point of being lost, of this point of disappearance indicated in the structure of the phantasy, as this something which is on the brink, which is sustained at the entrance to the vortex of the phantasy, how this something is possible. Because it is quite clear that it is possible.

The neurotic has access to the phantasy. He has access to it in certain privileged moments of the satisfaction of his desire. But we all know that this is only a functional utilisation of the phantasy that its relationship on the contrary to his whole world, and especially his relationship to others, to the real others – this is where we are getting to now – is profoundly marked by what? It has always been said, by a repressed drive.

This repressed drive, it is its relationship that we are trying to articulate a little better, in a more rigorous fashion, in a fashion also that is clinically more evident. We are simply going to see how this is possible.

We are going all the same to indicate how this presents itself. Let us take the obsessional, if you wish, and the hysteric. Let us take them together since in a certain number of features we are going to see one being illuminated by the other.

The object of the phantasy, in so far as it ends up at this desire of the other, it is a question of not approaching it, and for that obviously there are several solutions. We have seen the one which is linked to the promotion of the phobic object, to the object of prohibition. Prohibition of what? When all is said and done of a jouissance because it opens up before the subject the abyss of desire as such.

q) p572 : cut that would be, so says Lacan, ‘the most effective mode of analytic interpretation’, provided it is not ‘mechanical’ : Seminar VI : 1st July 1959 (27) : p346 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : The problem of analysis is precisely this that the desire which the subject has to encounter, which is this desire of the other, our desire, this desire which is only all too present in what the subject supposes we are demanding of him, this desire finds itself in this paradoxical situation that we must guide this desire of the other which for us is the desire of the subject not towards our desire, but towards an other. We mature the desire of the subject for someone other than ourselves, we find ourselves in this paradoxical situation of being procurers, midwives, those who preside at the advent of desire.

How can this position be held? It can undoubtedly only be held by maintaining an artifice which is that of the whole analytic rule. But the final mainspring of this artifice, does it not contain something which allows us to grasp where there can take place in the analysis this openness onto the cut which is the one without which we cannot conceive of the situation of desire? As always it is undoubtedly both the most trivial and the most hidden truth. The essential thing in the analysis of this situation in which we find ourselves, of being the one who offers himself as a support for every demand, and who responds to none of them; is it only in this non-responding which is far from being an absolute non-responding that there is found the principle of our presence? Should we not give some essential share to what happens at the end of each session, but which is imminent in the whole situation itself in so far as our desire should limit itself to this aim, to this place that we leave to desire in order that it may situate itself there, to the cut? To the cut which is no doubt the most efficacious mode of analytic intervention and interpretation.

And that is why it is one of the things on which we should most insist, this cut which we turn into something mechanical, which we understand as limited by a prefabricated time. It is quite elsewhere not alone that we effectively put it. It is one of the most efficacious methods by which we can intervene; it is also one of those to which we should most apply ourselves. But in this cut there is something, this same thing that we have learned to recognise in the form of this phallic object latent to every relationship of demand as signifier of desire.

r) Seminar II, p284 & 291 : seminar dedicated to ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ and the structure of the signifying chain, in which it was already apparent that the symbolic meets its foundation in the cut : Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan : Availability given here : Seminar II : 15th June 1955 : p283-285 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation : In any case, what concerns us is to know the difference.

M. RIGUET : May I put two or three things on the blackboard? I would simply like to try in a few minutes to explain first, what mathematicians understand by language. Consider the set of all the words which can be formed by using these letters – ab, ac, ca, ad. and abdd. bb. etc. I place the letters one after another in any kind of order, repetitions being permitted. I can form all these words indefinitely. Amongst these words, take a sub-set WF – well-formed (English in the original.) – words formed with the help of these symbols. And a mathematical theory consists in the data of a certain sub-set, these are called axioms, and a set of rules of deduction, which will for instance be of a syntactic

kind. If, inside one word, I find the symbol abo I will have for instance the option of replacing it by p. Thus, starting off with the word, abcd, I will be able to form the word (p284) pcd. These are theorems, that is, the set of all the words which I can form on the basis of the axioms with the aid of the productions of syntax. This, WF, is called a language.

The choice of symbols, a, b, c, d, is of course arbitrary. I could have chosen others,

u, v, x, y, and thus have generated a theory isomorphic with the first. In actual fact, for mathematicians, the notion of language is pretty nearly defined by an isomorphism. What’s more – it is pretty nearly defined by a coding, for if one considers the set of symbols constituted by 0 and 1, I can let a = 00, b = 01, c = 10, d = 11, and translate all the syntactic products and the axioms as functions of the symbols 0 and 1 . But I will have to be careful when I want to retrieve the old theory by decoding the new one, for if I code a certain word 00010111001, the decoding will sometimes yield an ambiguity. If e = 000, I won’t know if this word begins with a or with e, etc.

It seems to me that your definition of symbols is not the same as this. For you, symbols are tied to another language. You have a kind of basic language of communication, a kind of universal language, and the symbols you speak of are always coded in function of this basic language.

LACAN: What strikes me in what you have just said, if I’ve properly understood it – I think I’ve understood it – is this – when one illustrates the phenomenon of language with something as formally purified as mathematical symbols – and that is one of the reasons for putting cybernetics on the agenda – when one gives a mathematical notation of the verbum, one demonstrates in the simplest possible way that language exists completely independently of us. Numbers have properties which are absolute. They are, whether we’re here or not. 1729 will always be the sum of two cubes, the smallest number which is the sum of two different pairs of cubes.

All this can circulate in all manner of ways in the universal machine, which is more universal than anything you could imagine. One can imagine an indefinite number of levels, where all this turns around and circulates. The world of signs functions, and it has no signification whatsoever.

What gives it its signification is the moment when we stop the machine. These are the temporal breaks which we make in it. If they are faulty, we will see ambiguities emerge, which are sometimes difficult to resolve, but which one will always end up giving a signification to.

M. RIGUET: I don’t think so, for these cuts may be made by another machine, and there’s nothing to say that a man will be able to decipher what will come out of this new machine.

LACAN: That is perfectly true. Nonetheless, it is the temporal element, the intervention of a scansion permitting the insertion of something which can take on meaning for a subject.

M. RIGUET: Yes, but it seems to me that in addition there’s this universe of symbols, belonging to mankind in common. (p285)

LACAN: What we have just said is that it doesn’t in any way belong specifically to it.

M. RIGUET: Precisely, machines don’t have a common universe of symbols.

LACAN: That’s very delicate, because we build these machines. In fact, that doesn’t matter. It is enough to note that by means of your 0 and your 1, that is, the connotation of presence-absence, we are capable of representing everything which presents itself, everything which has been brought about by a determinate historical process, everything which has been developed in mathematics. We are in perfect agreement. All the properties of numbers are there, in these numbers written with binary numbers. Of course, that isn’t how one discovers them. It took the invention of symbols, for instance, which made us take a giant step forward the day it was simply inscribed on a bit of paper. We were left for centuries with our mouths open when faced with equations of the second degree without being able to get it out, and it is through writing it down thatan advance was made.

We thus find ourselves confronted with the problematic situation, that there is in fact a reality of signs within which there exists a world of truth entirely deprived of subjectivity, and that, on the other hand, there has been a historical development of subjectivity manifestly directed towards the rediscovery of truth, which lies in the order of symbols.

Who doesn’t understand a word of this? ,

M. MARCHANT: I don’t agree. You defined language, and I think that it is the best definition, as a world of signs to which we are strangers.

LACAN: This language here.

M. MARCHANT: I think that it is true of language in general.

LACAN: Not so. For language is completely burdened with our history, it is as contingent as this sign, and what is more it is ambiguous.

M. MARCHANT: I think the notion of error cannot be applied to language when it is conceived like that.

LACAN: There is no error in the world of zeros.

Seminar II : 15th June 1955 : p290 to 291 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation : I am not giving you this as a model of logical reasoning, but as a sophism, (p291) designed to draw out the distinction between language applied to the imaginary – for the two other subjects are perfectly imaginary for the third, he imagines them, they are quite simply the reciprocal structure as such – and the symbolic moment of language, that is to say the moment of the affirmation. Here, you see, there’s something which isn’t completely identifiable with the temporal break you were talking about earlier on.

M . RIGUET: I agree entirely.

LACAN: That is where the power revealed by the originality of the machines we have at our disposal falls short. There is a third dimension of time which they undeniably are not party to, which I’m trying to get you to picture via this element which is neither belatedness, nor being in advance, but haste, the relation ·to time peculiar to the human being, this relation to the chariot of time, which is there, close on our heels. That is where speech is to be found, and where language, which has all the time in the world, is not. That is why, furthermore, one gets nowhere with language.

DR LECLAIRE: There is something which troubles me in all this. Earlier on you translated in the beginning was language, and that is the first time I’ve heard that. What are you referring to? Is this your translation?

LACAN: ‘In principio erat verbum’, that is undeniably language, it isn’t speech.

DR LECLAIRE: So there is no beginning.

LACAN: I didn’t write the Gospel according to St John.

DR LECLAIRE: That’s the first time I’ve ever seen this. One always writes speech, or the word [verbe], and never language.

LACAN: I have already written the distich up twice on the blackboard and nobody has asked me. for the explanation.

Indem er alles schaft, was schaftet der Höchste? – Sich.

Was schaft er aber vor er alles schaftet? – Mich.

What was the Almighty doing when he made the creation? – Sich, himself.

And what was he before he made anything at all? Mich, myself.

It is obviously a risky affirmation.

DR LECLAIRE: I don’t understand why you translate in the beginning, and not before the beginning.

LACAN: I’m not at all engaged in telling you that St John wrote things correctly. I am saying that, in St John, there’s in ‘principio erat verbum’, in Latin. Now, as you saw when we translated the De significatione, verbum means word, the signifier, and not speech. (p292)

MISS X : Verbum is the translation for the Hebrew word dabar which does mean speech, and not language.

LACAN: We will have to take another look at this bit of Hebrew. As long as the faculty of sciences hasn’t been landed with a chair of theology, this will never get sorted out, neither for theology, nor for the sciences. But the question isn’t at this point to know whether we should put the word or speech in the beginning. In the perspective we have taken on today and which I just illustrated by Daniel von Chepko’s distich; there’s a mirage whereby language, namely all your little Os and Is. is there from all eternity, independently of us. You may well ask me ­ Where? I would be really hard pressed finding an answer. But what is certain, as Mannoni was saying earlier on, is that within a certain perspective, we can only see them as being there since the beginning of time.

Note : this is the beginning of the developments which are noted in Tracking Jacques Lacan’s use of ‘logos’ in Seminar VI & VII & in Rome : 29th October 1974 or here by Julia Evans on October 30, 2013

s)  Seminar VI, p569 : If there is one experience that ought to teach us just how problematic these social norms are, to what extent they need to be questioned, to what extent they are determined elsewhere than in their adaptive function, then it is precisely the analyst’s experience. : Seminar VI : 1st July 1959 (27) : p344 to 345 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation  : If you will allow me to end on something which introduces the place in which we analysts, in this relationship to desire, should situate ourselves, this is undoubtedly something which is not going to work out, if we do not construct for ourselves a certain coherent conception of what precisely our function is in relation to social norms – these social norms, if there is an experience which should teach us the degree to which they are problematic, the degree to which they ought to be questioned, the degree to which their determination is situated somewhere other than in their function of adaptation, it appears to be that of the analyst.

If in this experience of ours of the logical subject we discover this dimension which is always latent, but also always present, which is sustained beneath every intersubjective relationship, and which is found therefore in the relationship of interaction, of exchange with everything which because of that is crystallized in the social structure, we must arrive more or less at the following conception.

It is that we will call something culture – I do not like that word, in fact I do not like it at all; what I mean by it are certain stories of the subject in his relationship to the logos whose agency no doubt was able to remain masked for a long time in the course of history, and it is difficult not to see in our own day – this is why Freudianism exists in it – the gap, the distance it represents compared to a certain social inertia.

The relationship of what happens between culture and society we can provisionally define as something which would be well enough expressed in a relationship of entropy. In so far as something of what is happening in culture is produced in society which always includes some function of disaggregation, which is presented in society as culture, in other words in so far as it has entered under different headings into a certain number of stable conditions, themselves also latent, which are what one cancel conditions of exchange within the flock – and something which sets up a movement, a dialectic, leaving open the same gap within which we try to situate the function of desire; it is in this sense that we can qualify what is produced as perversion as being the reflection, the protest at the level of the logical subject of what the subject undergoes at the level of identification, in so far as identification is the relationship which organises, which establishes the norms of the social stabilisation of different functions.

In this sense we cannot fail to make the rapprochement that exists between every structure similar to that of perversion and that which Freud somewhere, specifically in the article ‘Neurosis and Psychosis’, articulates in the following fashion ‘it will be possible for the ego to avoid a rupture in any direction by deforming itself, by submitting to encroachments on its own unity and even perhaps by affecting a cleavage or division of itself. ‘In this way,’ says Freud, in one of these glimpses by which his texts are always illuminated, compared to the texts that we usually have to deal with in the literature of analysis, ‘in this way the inconsistencies, eccentricities and follies of men would appear in a similar light to their sexual perversions, through the acceptance of which they spare themselves repressions.’ (SE 19 152-3) – Damit rückten die Inkonsequenzen Verschrobenheiten und Narrheiten der Menschen in ein ahnliches Licht wie ihre sexuellen Perversionen, durch deren Annahme sie sich ja Verdrängungen ersparen. (GW 13, 391) [Neurosis and psychosis :1924b : Sigmund Freud : SE Vol 19, p149]

He pinpoints in the clearest fashion, precisely, everything which in the social context presents itself as paradox, inconsistencies, confusional forms, and the form of madness – the Nar is the madman – in what constitutes the most ordinary and the most common text of social life. So that we could say something like a turning circuit is established between what we can call conformity, or a socially conforming form, so-called cultural activity – here the expression becomes an excellent one to define everything which from culture is exchanged and alienated in society – …

t)  Seminar VI, following on : What I denote with the word culture – a word which I don’t particularly value, if at all – is a certain history of the subject in his relationship with the logos. This instance, the relationship to the logos, has most certainly remained masked in the course of time, and, in our day, it is hard not to see the gap it represents, the distance which separates it from a certain social inertia. : Seminar VI : 1st July 1959 (27) : p345 to 346 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

Sublimation as such, namely at the level of the logical subject, is where there is unfolded, established, instituted all this work which is properly speaking creative work in the order of the logos. And it is here that there comes more or less to be inserted, more of less to find its place at the social level, what is called cultural activity, and all the incidence and the risks that it involves, up to and including the remodelling, even the explosion of previously established conformisms.

And it is in the closed circuit which these four terms constitute that we can at least provisionally indicate something which should for us leave on its proper plane, on its animating plane what is involved concerning desire. Here we come to the problem which is the same, on which I left you last year in connection with the congress at Royaumont. ( The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan : Available here)

This desire of the subject, qua desire of desire, opens onto the cut, onto pure being, here manifested in the form of lack. This desire of the desire of the other, is when all is said and done what desire is he going to confront in analysis, if not the desire of the analyst? It is precisely the reason why it is so necessary for us to maintain ourselves in front of this dimension on the function of desire. Analysis is not a simple reconstitution of the past, nor is analysis a reduction to preformed norms, analysis is not an epos, analysis is not an ethos, if I were to compare it to something, it is a narrative which would be such that the narrative itself is the locus of the encounter that is in question in the narrative.

u)  Lacan promises to speak later about sublimation. This will be in the seminar on The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. : See Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan or here : The Problem of Sublimation : the references for 13th January 1960 & 20th January 1960 & 3rd February 1960

v)  Jacques Lacan concludes on p571 with : Note, : JE cannot match this concluding paragraph with the Cormac Gallagher translation. The following two paragraphs follow on from the quote in section q, and conclude Seminar VI : 1st July 1959 : p346 to end of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : I would like to end my lesson for this year, and to recall in some way or other what will inaugurate my lessons next year in the form of a praelectio, conclude with a sentence that I will offer to you as an enigma, and from which it will be seen whether you are any better at deciphering spoonerisms than I have found to be the case in the course of experiments carried out with some people who visited me. A poet Désiré Viardot in a Brussels’ review, in 51 or 52, proposed under the title of Pantomas this little inscrutable enigma – we will see if a shout from the audience is going to give us the key to it right away -: the woman has in her skin a grain of phantasy, this grain of phantasy which is undoubtedly what is in question when all is said and done in what modulates and models, the relationships of the subject to the one from whom she demands – whoever she may be, and no doubt it is not nothing that at the horizon we have found the subject who contains everything, the universal mother, and that we can on occasion make a mistake about this relationship of the subject to the tower which is supposed to be what you are given by analytic archetypes.

But it is indeed something different that is in question. It is the opening, it is the gap onto this radically new thing that every cut of the word introduces. Here it is not only from the woman that we have to wish this grain of phantasy or this grain of poetry, but from analysis itself.

Further information:

Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here

Guiding Remarks for a Congress on Feminine Sexuality : 1958 [Presented in Amsterdam, 5th September 1960] : Jacques Lacan or here

On Seminar VI : towards NLS in Ghent, 2014 : Available here


Note : If links to any required text do not work, check If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London


Further texts

Some Lacanian history here

Lacanian Transmission here 

Of the clinic here 

Translation Working Group here

 From LW working groups here

Use of power here 

By Jacques-Alain Miller  here    

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here     

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

By Julia Evans here