Jacques Lacan’s sayings excavated

by Julia Evans on October 17, 2020

These emerged during a meeting of a cartel on ‘Being a body & having a body’ on 17th October 2020.  This cartel is working towards the May 2021 New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis’ congress on ‘The Bodily Effects of Language’. It is registered with the NLS – see here    

Its members and their topics are:

Ganesh Anantharaman  – Jouissance & body event? 

Julia Evans   – Cutting as interpretation on a/the body 

Lorena Rivero de Beer – Zazen & the embodiment of emptiness – symptom/body event. 

Marcin Zaremba – Treating anorexia as a body event. 



Never give up on your desire

The analyst’s desire is to obtain absolute difference

There, where it speaks, it enjoys.    

Statement [le dire] of the real & real of the statement………..

One has a body; one is not it.

Passion for ignorance

Related texts


Never give up on your desire

See Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: begins 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here 

Seminar VII : 3rd February 1960 : p129 Denis Porter’s translation : When I give you a formula such as “The desire of man is the desire of the Other,” it is a gnomic formula, although Freud didn’t seek to present it as such.

Seminar VII : 6th July 1960 : p321 of Denis Porter’s translation :    Once one has crossed that boundary where I combined in a single term contempt for the other and for oneself, there is no way back. It might be possible to do some repair work, but not to undo it. Isn’t that a fact of experience that demonstrates how psychoanalysis is capable of supplying a useful compass in the field of ethical guidance?

I have, therefore, articulated three propositions.

First, the only thing one can be guilty of is giving ground relative to one’s desire.

Second, the definition of a hero: someone who may be betrayed with impunity.

Third, this is something that not everyone can achieve; it constitutes the difference between an ordinary man and a hero, and it is, therefore, more mysterious than one might think. For the ordinary man the betrayal that almost always occurs sends him back to the service of goods, but with the proviso that he will never again find that factor which restores a sense of direction to that service. 


The analyst’s desire is to obtain absolute difference

See   Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts: 1963-1964 : beginning 15th January 1964 : Jacques Lacan or here  

Seminar XI, 24th June 1964, p276 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : The analyst’s desire is not a pure desire. It is a desire to obtain absolute difference, a desire which intervenes when, confronted with the primary signifier, the subject is, for the first time, in a position to subject himself to it. There only may the signification of a limitless love emerge, because it is outside the limits of the law, where alone it may live.


There, where it speaks, it enjoys.    

Quoted in Interpretation : From Truth to Event : 2nd June 2019 (Tel Aviv) : Éric Laurent  or  here  

See Seminar XX: Encore: 1972 – 1973: From 21st November 1972: Jacques Lacan         or here      

Seminar XX : 8th May 1973 : pXI 2 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : (2) The unconscious – I begin with my difficult formulae that I suppose must be so – the unconscious, everything that I will develop today to make it more accessible to you, but here I am giving here my formulae – the unconscious is not that being thinks, as is nevertheless implied by what is said about it in traditional science. The unconscious is – after having said what it is not, I am saying what it is – is that being in speaking – when it is a being that speaks – is that being in speaking, enjoys and, I add, wants to know nothing more about it. I add that that means to know nothing at all.


Statement [le dire] of the real & real of the  statement………..

From  The Real Presence and Slipperiness of the Body  By Catherine Lacaze-Paule| October 11th, 2020  |LRO 248 | See here : Quote from p53 of Russell Grigg’s translation : “It is the opposition between what I will call the speaking present [le dire du présent] and the present speaking [le présent du dire]. This looks like a play on words. It’s nothing of the sort.”  : 

See Seminar V : The Formations of the Unconscious : 1957-1958 : begins 6th November 1957 : Jacques Lacan or here 

Seminar V : 20th November 1957 : p40-41 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Let us come back once again to our witticism, and to what we must make of it. I would like to introduce you to another sort of distinction that brings us back in a way to that with which we began, namely the question of the subject.

The question of the subject, what does that mean? If what I told you a little while ago is true, if it is in so far as thought always tends to make of the subject the one who designates himself as such in the discourse, I would like you to notice that what distinguishes, what isolates, what opposes it, is something that we can define as the opposition between what I can call the Statement of the present and the present of the statement.

This looks like a play on words, it is not at all a play on words. 

Note : ‘Symbolically real’ & Real-ly symbolic’ are explored in

On the origin of the Other and the post-traumatic object : 6th November 2004 (Lyon) : Éric Laurent or here  

Trauma in Reverse : 27th April 2002 (New York) : Éric Laurent or here 

The Seminar of Barcelona on ‘Die Wege der Symptombildung’ : probably Autumn 1996 : Jacques-Alain Miller or here   


One has a body; one is not it.

Alexandre Stevens quotes this in the Argument towards the May 2021 NLS Congress ’The Bodily Effects of Language’,  NLS Messager 3611.en,  17th August 2020  : Seminar II & XXIII 

See Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here : Seminar II : 12th January 1955 :    p72 Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation : It is very odd to say, there’s a truly strange incoherence in saying – man has a body. For us it makes sense, it is even probable that it has always made sense, but it makes more sense for us than for anybody else, since, with Hegel and without knowing it, in so far as everybody is Hegelian without knowing it. we have pushed to ) an extreme degree the identification of man with his knowledge. which is an accumulated knowledge. It is very strange to be localised in a body, and this strangeness can’t be minimised, despite the fact that a great deal of time is spent puffing ourselves up and boasting about having reinvented human unity, which that idiot Descartes had cut in two. It is completely useless to make great declarations about returning to the unity of the human being, to the soul as the body’s form, with large dosages of Thomism and Aristotelianism. The division is here to stay. And that is why physicians of our day and age aren’t the physicians of other times, except those who spend their time convinced that there are temperaments. constitutions, and other things of that sort. The physician has with respect to the body the attitude o fthe man who dismantles a machine. All statements of principles notwithstanding, this attitude is.a radical one. That’s the point whereFreud started. and that was his ideal – to do pathological anatomy, anatomical physiology. to discover what this little-complicated apparatus embodied there in the nervous system is for.

This perspective, which splits the unity of the living, certainly does have something of a disturbing, scandalous aspect, and one entire line of thought tries to counter it – I’m thinking of gestaltism and other well intentioned theoretical elaborations, which hope to return to the benevolence of nature and to a pre-established harmony. Of course, nothing proves that the body is a machine, and in fact there’s every chance that it isn’t. But that isn’t the problem. The important thing is that this is the way in which one has tackled the question. I named him just now, the one in question. It’s Descartes. He wasn’t the only one. for it took quite a bit for him to begin to think of the body as a machine. What in particular it took was for there to be one which not only worked by itself. but which could embody in a quite striking way something essentially human. 

See  Seminar XXIII: The Sinthome or Joyce and the Sinthome: 1975-1976: beginning on November 18th 1975 : Jacques Lacan or here  :  

Seminar XXIII, 11th May 1976   ; pXI 11  Cormac Gallagher’s translation  :  And this disgust concerns his [Joyce’s] own body in short. It is like someone who puts in parenthesis, who drives away the bad memory. This is what is at stake. This is altogether left as a possibility; as a possibility of the relationship to his own body as foreign.

And this indeed is what is expressed by the fact of using the verb ‘to have’. One has one’s body, one is not it to any degree. And this is what leads to belief in the soul. As a consequence of which there is no reason to stop there. And one also believes that one has a soul, which crowns it all. This form of letting drop, of letting drop the relationship to one’s own body, is very suspect for an analyst. This idea of self, of self as body has something weighty about it. This is what is called the ego. If the ego is said to be narcissistic, it is indeed because there is something at a certain level which supports the body as image. But in the case of Joyce is the fact that this image, on this occasion is not involved, is this not what marks that on this occasion the ego has a quite particular function. How can that be written in, in my noeud bo


– Passion for ignorance

See Seminar XX : Encore 1972 – 1973 (from 21st November 1972) : Jacques Lacan or here 

Seminar XX : 15th May 1973 : pXII 5-6 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : I must nevertheless say what there is quametalanguage and how it is confused with the trace left by language. This is how it returns to the revelation of the correlate of the tongue, this additional knowledge (savoir en plus) of being, its slight chance of going to the Other, which I nevertheless pointed out the last time, this is the other essential point – is, this additional knowledge, a passion for ignorance; that precisely this is what it wants to know nothing about. About the being of the Other it wants to know nothing. This indeed is why the two other passions are those called love which has nothing to do, contrary to what philosophy has lucubrated, with knowledge, and hatred which is what has most relationship with being, what comes closest to it, what I call the ‘to ex-sist’ (l’exister). Nothing concentrates more this hatred than this expression [elsewhere translated as saying or statement] (dire) where there is situated what I call ex-sistence. 

Quoted in The European space: its articulation, its passions : 7th  January 2019 : Marco Focchi :   Information  here

Quote : 2) ‘Let us not forget that the third passion mentioned by Lacan, that of ignorance, is part of the transference. It puts us in the disposition of wanting to know, or not wanting to know, and turns out to be fundamental in the movements of the other two passions: I seek you out because I want absorb your mystery (but how much will I tolerate it?); I reject you because I do not know who you are (but while rejecting you my being reaches out towards you, even though I’m afraid of knowing you).’ : Marco Focchi

The following develop this theme:

See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here :  

Seminar IV : 9th January 1957 : Para 5 of Earl’s Court Collectives’ provisional translation : I will specify the thought:. This is founded, for one sex as for the other both sexes, on a misdeal [maldonne]., And this misdeal is founded on the ignorance – it is not a matter of misrecognition, but of ignorance – of the fertilising role of the man’s semen and, on the other hand, of the existence of the female organ as such. Note : misdeal may be a reference to ‘poker’


p282 of Alan Sheridan’s translation of The Meaning (or Signification) of the Phallus (Munich): 9th May 1958 : Jacques Lacan  or here :

This ignorance is suspiciously like méconnaissance in the technical sense of the term – all the more so in that it is sometimes quite false.


if anyone can find a closer quote from Jacques Lacan, I would be interested in knowing of it


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

p525 of Bruce Fink’s translation, p263 of Alan Sheridan’s translation, p49-51 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, which follows :

9. Let us nevertheless articulate what structures desire.

Desire is what manifests itself in the interval that demand hollows out on this side of itself, inasmuch as the subject in articulating the signifying chain, brings to light the lack of being with an appeal to receive its complement from the Other, since the Other, the locus of the word, is also the locus of this lack.

What is thus given to the Other to fill, and what strictly he does not have, since he too lacks being, is what is called love, but it is also hate and ignorance.

It is also, as passions of being, what is evoked by any demand beyond the need that is articulated in it, and it is certainly what the subject remains all the more deprived of to the extent that the need articulated in the demand is satisfied.

What is more, the satisfaction of need appears here only as the lure in which the demand for love is crushed, by sending the subject back to sleep, where he haunts the limbo of being, by letting it speak in him. For the being of language is the non-being of objects, and the fact that desire was discovered by Freud in its place in the dream, from all time a scandal for all the efforts of thinking to situate itself in reality, should be lesson enough for us.

To be or not to be, to sleep, perchance to dream, even the so-called simplest dreams of the child (as “simple” as the analytic situation, no doubt) show simply miraculous or forbidden objects.

10. But the child does not always fall asleep in this way in the bosom of being, especially if the Other, who has her own ideas about his needs, interferes, and in place of what she does not have, stuffs him with the choking pap of what she has, namely, confuses her caring with the gift of her love.

It is the child who is fed with most love who refuses and plays with his refusal as with a desire (anorexia nervosa). A dimension where one grasps as nowhere else that hate pays love back in its own coin but where it is ignorance that is not forgiven.

When all is said and done, by refusing to satisfy the mother‘s demand, is not the child insisting that the mother should have a desire outside him, because this is the path that he lacks towards desire?


See Seminar XX: Encore: 1972 – 1973: From 21st November 1972: Jacques Lacan or here   

Seminar XX : 21st November 1972 : pI 5 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : I put that forward very gently in saying that feelings are always reciprocal. It was so that it should come back to me, huh!

– So then, so then, and love, and love, is it always reciprocal?

– But yes, but yes!

This is even why the unconscious was invented. It is so that we might see that the desire of man is the desire of the Other. And that love is a passion which may be the ignorance of this desire [Footnote 14], but which nonetheless leaves it its full import. When it is looked at more closely we see its ravages. [Footnote 14, p4 of Bruce Fink’s translation, Ignorance is, according to Lacan (and others, including Plato), the strongest of the three passions : ignorance, love, and hate. On the three passions, see, for example, “Direction of the Treatment, An alternative reading of ‘le désir de l’homme, c’est le désir de l’autre’ earlier in the sentence would be “man’s desire is for the Other’s desire.”


Related texts to this cartel’s work

The Real Presence and Slipperiness of the Body (LRO 248) : 11th October 2020 : Catherine Lacaze-Paule  or   here    

Lacanian Psychoanalysis Not Without the Body : 18th January 2020 (Dublin) : Bernard Seynhaeve (audio)  or   here   

Interpretation : From Truth to Event : 2nd June 2019 (Tel Aviv) : Éric Laurent  or  here  

Announcement of title for the 2020 NLS Congress, Interpretation, From Truth to Event : 18th June 2019 : Bernard Seynhaeve or  here   

On the origin of the Other and the post-traumatic object : 6th November 2004 (Lyon) : Éric Laurent or here  

Trauma in Reverse : 27th April 2002 (New York) : Éric Laurent or here 

Interpretation and Truth : 1st July 1994 : Éric Laurent or here  


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


Julia Evans    

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst,  Kent & London


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