The Other that Does Not Exist and Its Scientific Committees : 23rd March 2020 : Éric Laurent

by Julia Evans on March 23, 2020

Originally published in Lacan Quotidien 874, 19th March 2020, available here.   

Translated by Philip Dravers

Published at Lacanian Review Online LRO : See

Available here    

Also circulated From: NLS-Messager (New Lacanian School/Messager  Subject: [nls-messager] 3380.en/ Lacanian Review Online: The Other that Does Not Exist and Its Scientific Committees   Date: 27 March 2020 at 17:49:46 GMT : See

Available with Julia Evans’ notes at   /éric laurent  or  authors by date

Other texts by Éric Laurent    here 

Notes on Footnote vi, vii, viii & ix by Julia Evans

Footnote [vi] Miller J.-A., « L’orientation lacanienne. L’Autre qui n’existe pas et ses comités d’éthique » (1996-1997), lesson of 20 November 1996, unpublished.  Seeés-déthique-JA-Miller.pdf  

Footnote [vii] Ibid.

Footnote viii,  

We live in the empire of semblants.[viii] With this word, Lacan gave new life to the title of Roland Barthes’ essay, Empire of Signs

See  Lituraterre: 12th May 1971: Jacques Lacan  or here  : p8 of Jack W. Stone’s translation : Quote

The letter is however promoted from there as a referent as essential as anything, and this changes the status of the subject. That the subject is supported by a constellated heaven, and not only by the trait unaire, for its fundamental identification, explains that it can only take support from the Tu, which is to say, under all the grammatical forms by which the least statement varies itself from the relations of politesse it implies in its signified. 

The truth reinforces there the structure of fiction I denote in it, in that this fiction is submitted to the laws of politeness. 

Singularly this seems to bring the result that there is nothing to defend of a repressed, since the repressed itself finds its lodging by reference to the letter. 

In other terms the subject is divided as everywhere by language (langage), but one of its registers can be satisfied by reference to writing and the other by speech.

This is without doubt what has given Roland Barthes the giddy feeling (sentiment enivré) that of all its manners the Japanese subject makes an envelope for nothing. The empire of signs, he titles his essay, meaning: empire of semblants. [Footnote 13 – see below] 

The Japanese, I have been told, find it bad. For nothing is more distinct from the void hollowed by writing than the semblant. The former is a bucket always ready to receive jouissance, or at least to invoke it by its artifice. 

In keeping with our customs, nothing communicates less of itself than such a subject that in the final analysis hides nothing. It has only to manipulate you: you are an element among others of a ceremonial where the subject composes itself precisely in being able to decompose itself. The bunraki, theatre of marionettes, reveals the structure quite ordinary for those to whom it gives their manners themselves. 

Moreover, as in the bunraki, all that is said might be read by a narrator. This might have comforted Barthes. Japan is the place where it is most natural to be sustained by an (d’un ou d’une) interpreter, precisely in that it does not necessitate interpretation. 

It is perpetual translation made language.  (quote continued below)

Footnote 13 p11 : 13. In The Empire of Signs (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), trans. Richard Howard, Barthes argues that, in Japanese, the proliferation of functional prefixes and the complexity of enclitics suppose that the subject advances into utterance through certain precautions, delays, and insistences whose final volume (we can no longer speak of a simple line of words) turns the subject, precisely, into a great envelope empty of speech, and not that dense kernel which is supposed to direct our sentences,

from outside and from above, so that what seems to us an excess of subjectivity (Japanese, it is said, articulates impressions not affidavits) is much more a way of diluting, of hemorrhaging the subject in a fragmented, particled language diffracted to emptiness (7).

Barthes, in effect, reduces the envelope constituted by Japanese manners, linguistic and otherwise, to the temporality of the preparation of tempura, the product or content of which is a virtual nothing whose “real name would be the interstice without specific edges, or again: the empty sign” (26).


Footnote ix

Quote from text : … thoroughly imbued with the civilization of science “the only communication that occurred there for me […] is also the only kind that over there as elsewhere can be communication, in not being dialogue: namely, scientific discourse.”[ix] The empire of semblants is not just one of the names of Japan, it is also one of the names of our civilization that is revealed.

See  Lituraterre: 12th May 1971: Jacques Lacan  or here : p8-9 of Jack W. Stone’s translation : Quote :

It is perpetual translation made language.

What I like, is that the only communication I might have had there (other than with Europeans with whom I know how to handle our cultural misunderstanding), is also the only one that there as elsewhere might be communication, in not being dialogue: to wit, scientific communication.

It impelled an eminent biologist to demonstrate to me his labours, on a blackboard naturally.

The fact that, for lack of information, I understood nothing of it, did not prevent what remained written there from being valuable. Valuable for the molecules of which my descendants will make themselves subjects, without my ever having had to know how I transmitted to them what rendered it plausible that I class them with me, from pure logic, among the living beings.

An asceticism of writing seems to me only able to succeed by rejoining an “it is written” by which would be installed the sexual rapport.


Lituraterre: 12th May 1971: Jacques Lacan,  the French & 4 English translations, i) Freudian School of Melbourne ii) Jack W. Stone iii) Dany Nobus iv) Beatrice Khiara-Foxton & Adrian Price, Published at, available here 

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Case studies  here   


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Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst


Further texts

Of the clinic here 

Lacanian Transmission here 

Some Lacanian History here 

Topology here 

From LW working groups here

By Éric Laurent 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