Notes on Seminar VII : 11th May 1960 : p227 : the fable of Adam and Eve

by Julia Evans on April 10, 2014

In preparation for the meeting on 12th April, the Adam & Eve story is available here  in the King James Authorised Version : Book of Genesis, Ch2 v7 to Ch 3 v24 : from, here

Note : Chapter 2 Verse 19 is quoted in Seminar VII : 11th May 1960 : p227 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Availability given Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan or here

Quote from Seminar VII : 11th May 1960 : p226 : … on the symbolism of clothes in which you will find the same impasses I pointed to, in the last issue of our journal[i], in Jones’s own articulation of symbolism[ii], but in an even more striking and almost caricatural form.

[Jacques Lacan is repeating that which he stated on Seminar VII : 9th March 1960 : bottom page 163. For comment see Seminar VII : 9th March 1960 : p164 : Missing intervention by Mme Hubert : Reading Group of 19th October 2013 or here by Julia Evans on October 19, 2013.]

In any case the absurd things that have been said about symbolism do nevertheess lead us somewhere. There is something hidden there, and it is always, we are told, that damned phallus. We are brought back to something that one might have expected would have been thought of right off, that is to say, to the relationship of the cloth to the missing hair – but it’s not missing everywhere on our body. At this point we do find a psychoanalytic writer who tells us that all the cloth we are concerned with is nothing more than the extrapolation or development of woman’s fleece, the famous fleece that hides the fact that she doesn’t have what it takes. These apparent revelations of the unconscious always have their comic side. But it’s not completely screwy; I even think that it’s a nice little fable.

Perhaps it might even contain an element of phenomenology relative to the function of nudity. Is nudity purely and simply a natural phenomenon? The whole of psychoanalytic thought is designed to prove it isn’t. The thing that is particularly exalting about it and significant in its own right is that there is a beyond of nudity that nudity hides. But we don’t need to engage in phenomenology; I prefer fables.

The fable on this occasion concerns Adam & Eve, [Adam & Eve story is available here] with the proviso that the dimension of the signifier also be present, the signifier as introduced by the father in the benevolent directions he gives: “Adam, you must give names to everything around you.”[iii] Here is Adam, then, and here is the famous hair of an Eve that we hope is worthy of the beauty that this first gesture evokes. Adam pulls out one of her hairs. Everything I am trying to show you here turns on a hair, a frog’s hair. [Footnote: The pun in the French – “poil de grenouille” – turns on the fact that as well as connoting something that does not exist, the phrase also reminds the listener of the slang meaning of “grenouille” as a pejorative term for a woman, e.g., “grenouille de bénitier”] (JE: Eve as ‘fallen woman’?)  Adam pulls out a hair from the woman who is given to him as his wife, who has been expected for the whole of eternity (JE: Chapter 2, Verse 21 of here), and the next day she comes back with a mink coat over her shoulders (JE: See Chapter 3, Verse 21 of here).

Therein lies the power of the nature of cloth. It’s not because man has less hair than other animals that we have to check out everything that down the ages will burst forth from his industry. If we are to believe the linguists, the problem of different goods is raised within a structure (JE: Chapter 2, Verse 8 of here). At the beginning everything is structured as a signifier, even if only a chain of hairs is involved.

[i] The text is In Memory of Ernest Jones, On His Theory of Symbolism : January to March 1959 : published Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan : available here.  The text was written in Guitrancourt, January to March 1959, but Jacques Lacan was editing it for publication in La Psychanalyse, Vol V, 1960, p1 – 20 during the early part of Seminar VII.

[ii] The article on which it is based : The Theory of Symbolism : 1916 : Ernest Jones : Published 1) British Journal of Psychology : Vol 9 : no 2 : Oct 1916 & 2) Ernest Jones : Papers on Psycho-Analysis : Fifth edition : 1948 : p87-144 : Available here

[iii] Chapter 2, Verse 19 : 19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Further Information

Posts for the “A. Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis”’ category or here

Posts for the “Lacan Jacques” category : Available here

Posts for the “Freud Sigmund” category : Available here

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan or here