1 EXPRESS December 2017 Volume 3 - Issue 10 An irreducible misunderstanding Sophie Marret-MalEvAl lacaniancompass.com The LC EXPRESS delivers the Lacanian Compass in a new format. Its aim is to deliver relevant texts in a dynamic timeframe for use in the clinic and in advance of study days and conference meetings. The LC EXPRESS publishes works of theory and clinical practice and emphasizes both longstanding concepts of the Lacanian tradition as well as new cutting edge formulations.
2 PrÉcis In this tour de force on the non-sexual-rapport (NSR), Sophie Marret-Maleval traces Lacan s assertion that there is no sexual rapport throughout his work and Freud s work before him, showing that this stumbling block to relations is one of the bedrocks of psychoanalysis. As she says, we could consider that the Œdipal theme is a first way to approach the non-sexual-rapport, by placing at the heart of the relations between men and woman the forbidden jouissance and castration. However, as she points out there is a tension in the last teaching of Lacan between his assertion that there is no sexual rapport and his claim in Seminar XX: Encore that love can make up for the lack of a sexual relation. As she explains, Lacan s consideration that love can be a suppléance to the non-sexual-rapport, leads Lacan to bet on a link between irreconcilable parties, which analysis makes possible when ideals are made lighter, without creating a new dogma, but only marking the way speaking beings (parlêtres) find solutions to their fundamental solitude. Working with Jacques-Alain Miller s Six Paradigms of Jouissance, she also suggests that we can see the NSR as the limit of the grasp of structure upon the real, and when Lacan moves into the sixth paradigm of jouissance he is looking beyond his initial structural stance. Nevertheless the NSR is still a reality in our hypermodern culture, and Marret-Maleval points out the contemporary link between the unveiling of the NSR with Jacques-Alain Miller s revelation in A Fantasy that the object a has risen to the social zenith. Master signifiers, which may have made up for the lack of rapport before, are not holding anymore, and there is a loss of trust in the discourse of science. The result of this loss of trust has caused a rise in science in an attempt to re-veil this loss, however. So the NSR can be an answer to there is knowledge in the real of scientific discourse. Psychoanalysis works with it fails and makes use of it rather than the it works of science, which cannot deal with the death drive and the NSR. And as Marret- Maleval points out, by disregarding jouissance, which is the distinctive feature of man, it opens the way for a massive return of the death drive, which we are arguably seeing today. Lacan s response to the NSR in Seminar XX, and further in Litturaterre, is useful in analysis, however. As Marret-Maleval explains the letter has a littoral function, it acts as an edge, it is the connecting line between two elements that have no common measure. Thus by transforming his earlier concept of the letter into a mathematical letter, a littoral letter, and a love letter that aims at the real, aims to write the real, Lacan proposes a way to link one to the other and S 1 to object a. The letter, as Marret-Maleval points out, does not write sense, but does write a rapport. The love letter displaces the negation from the stops not being written to the doesn t stop being written, doesn t stop, won t stop. Nancy Gillespie
3 An irreducible misunderstanding At the heart of Lacan s last teaching lies the tension between two sentences. The first one is: there is no sexual rapport. I am not sure about the first occurrence, but the first time he develops its logical implications is in Seminar XVI: From the Other to an other. 1 He makes its bearings clear in Radiophony when he departs from a structural approach: the signifier is not proper to give body to a formula that would be of the sexual rapport. Whence my enunciation: there is no sexual rapport, to be understood: formulable in structure. 2 Facing this assertion, he claims, in Seminar XX: Encore, what makes up for the sexual relationship [rapport, which does not exist] is, quite precisely, love. 3 Lacan goes against a platonician conception of love seen as the recovery of one s lost half, which takes the Other sex as the complement of the first, in an ideal of fusion (although Lacan already notes in Seminar VIII : Transferance, that Plato leaves this perspective to Aristophanes, the comic character of the Banquet). However, Lacan is not cynical for all that. His position is not that of a radical disillusion such as Chateaubriant s hermite in Atala who believes that no earthly redemption is possible: Without doubt, my daughter, the most beautiful love was that of the man and woman first formed by the hand of the Creator. Paradise had been created for them, they were innocent and immortal. Perfect in soul and body, they were completely suited: Eve was created for Adam and Adam for Eve. If they could not preserve that state of happiness, how should any couple after them? Not to speak of marriages between the first-born of men of these ineffable unions, where the sister was the brother s wife, where love and fraternal affection mingled in the same heart, and the purity of the one increased the delight of the other. All these unions were troubled; jealousy crept to the altar, made of turf, on which goats were sacrificed; it reigned in Abraham s tent; and in these same beds where the patriarchs tasted so much joy that they were consoled for the deaths of their mothers. 4 To consider love as a suppléance to the non-sexualrapport, leads Lacan to bet on a link between irreconcilable parties, which analysis makes possible, when ideals are made lighter, without creating a new dogma, but only marking the way speaking beings (parlêtres) find solutions to their fundamental solitude. The Lacanian version of love stands closer to that of Baudelaire in My Heart laid Bare, which inspired the title of this paper. The world works only by Misunderstanding. It is by universal Misunderstanding that everybody gets along. Because if, by misfortune, people understood one another, they could never get along. An intelligent man, one who will never get along with anybody, must make the effort of loving the conversation of imbeciles and the reading of bad books. They will give him bitter pleasures that will largely compensate his fatigue. 5 1.The English title of the unofficial published version understands the title in the wrong way (From an other to the Other, translated by Cormac Gallagher, from unedited French manuscripts, private publication). Thus this is my translation of the title from Lacan, J. Le séminaire, livre XVI, D un Autre à l autre ( ), Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller (Paris : Seuil, 2006). 2. Lacan, J. Radiophony, Trans. Jack W. Stone, edu/~stonej/radiophonie.pdf, p Lacan, J. Seminar XX: Encore, On Feminine Sexuality, The limits of Love and Knowledge ( ), Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, Trans. Bruce Fink (London: Norton, 1998) p Chateaubriand, F-R. Atala (1801), Trans. A. S. Kline, poetryintranslation.com/pitbr/chateaubriand/chateaubriandatala. htm, Beaudelaire,C. My Heart Laid Bare, Trans. Markos Maras, Kindle books, pp
4 The Grounds of Lacanian Practice We must first try to understand the reach of the first assertion there is no sexual rapport. In Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation, Lacan had gone a step beyond the belief in the supremacy of the signifier which led him towards the invention of the object a in Seminar X: Anxiety when he makes clear that what lacks within the Other is not a signifier, the phallus, as he had claimed until then, but a real object, i.e. something radically heterogeneous to the dimension of language, of the Other. The power of language upon the real is thus set into question, since the Other has no hold on the real. Jacques-Alain Miller notes, however, in The Six Paradigms of Jouissance, how, up to the last teaching, jouissance remains discursive. It circulates within the signifying chain, falls into a system, as the four discourses testify, since the object a functions within a set of logical relations. Lacan goes as far as the posing of a primal relationship between [the] signifier and jouissance 6 considering that the signifier represents jouissance, between S 1 and S 2, rather than the subject (the subject was primarily defined by Lacan as what the signifier represents for another signifier). Seminar XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, is the turning point of this conception. With Seminar XX: Encore, there is an inversion as regards the whole development of Lacan s previous teaching. According to Miller, Lacan, truly, cuts the branch on which all his teaching was sitting, and there will be, in the final part of his teaching, an attempt to build another conceptual apparatus out of the debris of the preceding one. 7 Miller further points out that this new paradigm is that of the non-rapport. Where the function of language and of the structure was to capture the living being, the organism, 8 the non-rapport appears as the limit of the grasp of the structure upon the real. Speech is no longer understood as communication but as jouissance. Whilst jouissance was, in his teaching, always secondary by comparison with the signifier, as Jacques-Alain Miller underlines, [ ] language and structure hitherto treated as primordial givens must now, in this sixth paradigm, appear as secondary and derivative. 9 The articulation S 1 -S 2, i.e. meaning, becomes secondary by comparison with S 1 a, i.e. the mark of the signifier upon the body, so that Lacan will ultimately give privilege to the notion of sign upon the signifier and claim that the signifier is the cause of jouissance. Jacques-Alain Miller also notes that In this paradigm, the concept of language, the old concept of speech as communication and, as well, the concept of the big Other, the Name-of-the-Father, and the phallic symbol are all pushed to the point of collapse into semblants, 10 which means that they are no longer primary, structuring, but secondary, fictions. The notion of semblant also means, however, that these terms are situated between the symbolic and the real, hence their reduction to a function of stapling together elements that are fundamentally disconnected. 11 The Name-of-the-Father, for example, knots the three elements of the borromean knot, it is reduced to the connection S 1 a, to a function of nomination, that of naming the real, it works as a letter and it is this primary function as a connector that enables the knotting of the Symbolic, the Real and the Imaginary. In the same way, the Phallus names the jouissance of the Mother, and acts as a connector between the sexes. All the terms that, in Lacan, provide connection the Other, the Nameof-the-Father, the phallus, which used to appear as primordial terms, even as transcendental terms since they influence all experience, are reduced to being connectors, 12 notes Jacques-Alain Miller. 6. Miller, J-A. The Six Paradigms of Jouissance, trans. Phil Oldman, unpublished, pdf p Ibid. 8.Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p
5 He makes clear that this paradigm is based essentially on the non-[rapport], on the disjunction the disjunction of signifier and signified, the disjunction of jouissance and the big Other, the disjunction of man and woman under the title There is no sexual [rapport]. This is truly the Seminar of [the nonrapport]. 13 He explains that whilst the notion of structure implied that these terms had a transcendental function, coming from an autonomous dimension, and prior to experience and conditioning, 14 with the last teaching we have the primacy of practice. Where there was transcendental structure, we have pragmatism, and even a social pragmatism. 15 The non-rapport is therefore a concept to be put against that of structure. He defines structure as the formulation of relationships in the plural to which, without more thought, we give the quality of being real on the grounds of necessity, that is to say, that which never stops [being written]. 16 This Seminar Encore opens up a new kind of relation that limits the structural empire, 17 that of the non-rapport, shaking the series of constituent rapports of the previous paradigms (notably the link between S1 and S2, the paternal metaphor). The starting point for this perspective is not There is no sexual relation but on the contrary There is. There is jouissance, as the property of a living body, 18 as Jacques-Alain Miller points out. Lacan s last teaching points out the fundamental part played by what does not stop not being written, i.e. the sexual rapport, as Lacan formulates it. The non-rapport is therefore what definitely leads psychoanalysis apart from science. Science relies on the perspective that it works, whereas the horizon of psychoanalysis is that it fails, as Jacques-Alain Miller points out in A Fantasy : The Lacanian practice, if it is to be distinct from the others, can have no other principle than: it fails....the Lacanian practice, it fails. You will even recognize in this failing, a leitmotif of the later Lacan. He did everything to place himself in the position of failing his knots, and evidently, this failure is not a contingent one. This failure is a manifestation of an impossible. 19 Jacques-Alain Miller shows how the rising to the social zenith of the object a, 20 is contemporary to an unveiling of the sexual non-rapport. And one must note that, today, the master signifier, the master signifiers, do not succeed any longer in making the sexual rapport exist, 21 at the very time when hypermodern civilization has lost trust in scientific knowledge and that the perspective that it fails is being generalized. Genetically modified organisms, the nuclear bomb, those no longer generate confidence in the good functioning of the knowledge in the real, from the moment when, of course, it is we who are beginning to traffic in it. 22 However, the discourse of science maintains the illusion that it can compensate for failure (and it is so much the better to a certain extent), for dysfunctions, that it can put things into good working order. But it means going on to remain blind to the work of the death drive, as Freud pointed out at the end of his Civilization and its Discontents: The fateful question of the human species seems to me to be whether and to what extent the cultural process developed in it will succeed in mastering the derangements of communal life caused by the human instinct of aggression and selfdestruction. In this connection, perhaps the phase through which we are at this moment passing deserves special interest. Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature to such a pitch that by using them they could now 13. Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p 22. I replaced that which never stops writing itself in the original translation with that which never stops being written which stands closer to the original meaning in French. 17. Ibid. p Ibid. p Miller, J-A. A Fantasy, presented at the IV Congress of the WAP Comandatuba - Bahia. Brasil, Trans. Rivka Warshawsky with the help of Franck Rollier, php?file=textos/conferencia-de-jacques-alain-miller-en-comandatuba.html 20. Lacan, J. Radiophony, Op Cit. p Miller, J-A. A Fantasy Op. Cit. 22. Ibid.
6 very easily exterminate one another to the last man. They know this. hence arises a great part of their current unrest, their dejection, their mood of apprehension. And now it may be expected that the other of the two heavenly forces, eternal Eros, will put forth his strength so as to maintain himself alongside of his equally immortal adversary. 23 As Jacques-Alain Miller points out, man tampers with the real, which opens the way for the death drive, the impact of jouissance, which science, however, needs to disregard to operate, which it excludes from its formulae (Lacan points out that to operate, science needs to rely on objective factors and exclude the impact of the subject). The death drive then manifests itself blindly. The present rise of scientism has the function of counterbalancing, veiling, the lost trust, by feeding the hope to rationalize human behaviour. But by disregarding jouissance, which is the distinctive feature of man, it opens the way for a massive return of the death drive. The compass of Lacanian ethics is jouissance, that it fails, which is the only way of thwarting a little the work of the death drive by ceasing to disregard it. It is the "there is no sexual rapport" that grounds the Lacanian practice, since this is to be understood in regard to the statement "there is a knowledge in the real," and the "there is no sexual rapport" is what provides the balance with the "there is a knowledge in the real." It is the sexual rapport that makes an objection to the total power of the discourse of science, 24 Jacques-Alain Miller, points out as he concludes his conference on the promotion of love in Lacan s last teaching. Woody Allen gives a striking illustration of this in his film Magic in the Moonlight, in which the hero, a rationally minded magician lets himself be persuaded of the existence of spirits by a young woman who claims to be a medium. All the while, he denies his feelings for her. Discovering the hoax, he must however accept that he is in love with the one who fooled him and how irrational it is. Sophie is not as intelligent as Olivia, his partner, with whom he is perfectly matched, but near whom he has become dull, he is barely alive. Sophie s smile wins, against reason, and unmasks his cynicism, his self-importance and his blindness on his own share of humanity. A Truly Lacanian Freud Thus, the issue of sexual rapport reaches largely beyond a simple matter of the couple. The sexual has lain at the heart of psychoanalysis ever since the Freudian invention. The ethics of psychoanalysis is at stake with the sexual rapport, since it is that which gives psychoanalysis its power of interpretation of civilization, as Freud proceeds in Civilization and its Discontents. In his commentary of Freud s Contributions to the Psychology of Erotic Life, 25 Jacques-Alain Miller unveils a truly Lacanian Freud, making an effort to think out the sexual rapport, in so far as he approaches the sexual through its dead ends. 26 Indeed, in the first contribution: Concerning a Particular type of Object-choice in Men, 27 Freud announces that he wants to distinguish himself from the poets, who, in spite of their sensitivity and intuition as regards the human mind, change reality to the benefit of the production of feelings and aesthetic effects: they are obliged to isolate fragments of it, dissolve obstructive connections, soften the whole and fill any gaps. 28 He aims to subject the investigation of erotic life to a strictly scientific treatment. 29 We can infer that he wants to highlight the gaps. If he himself means to fill the gaps by establishing the convenient connections that would explain the impasses of erotic life, he nevertheless approaches love through these gaps. 23. Freud, S. Civilization and its Discontents, 1929, Aylesbury: Chrysoma Associates Limited, Publications Division - Electronic Books Library, , pdf, p Miller, J-A. A fantasy Op. Cit. 25. Freud, S. Contributions to the Psychology of Erotic Life (1910), The psychology of Love (1931), Ed Adam Philips, Trans. Shaun Whiteside (New York: Penguin 2006) Kindle Books. 26. Miller, J-A. causerie sur l amour, Cahiers n 10, publication de l ACF-VLB Printemps (1998): p 11. My translation. 27. Freud, S. Concerning a Particular type of Object-choice in Men, first of the three Contributions to the Psychology of Erotic Life, in The Psychology of Love. Op. Cit. 28. Ibid. 29. Ibid.
7 This is where he is truly Lacanian. In some way, psychoanalysis already aimed at getting at, at taking into account what does not stop not to be written, where Freud finds the poets limited by what is written (and strangely so since, usually, he considers that they go further than Science, but we can think that here, writing constitutes a limit). Freud proceeds to describe different types of object choice in neurosis, enabling him to grasp the conditions that determine love. He isolates the damaged third, its contents lead the person concerned never to choose as a love object a woman who is free, the condition according to which the modest and unimpeachable woman never exerts the charm that raises her to become a love object but that charm will only be exerted by a woman who has somehow acquired a bad sexual reputation, the condition of debasement which he develops in the second contribution, and finally the tendency to save the loved woman, 30 so many conditions, which he brings back to mother fixation. The second contribution Concerning the Most Universal Debasement in the Erotic Life, 31 bears upon psychical impotence, a type of inhibition which he understands to be dependent on the specific trait of the sexual object, on incestuous fixation on the mother or the sister, at the origin of the disjunction between love and desire. The third contribution The Virginity Taboo, 32 bears upon virginity as a requirement in civilization. He claims that monogamy relies upon sexual bondage as guarantee for a peaceful married life a perspective which needs a logical, Lacanian translation, stripped of its imaginary garb, by making clear that the male s partner is the object a. The last contribution leads Freud to tackle above all, with the taboo of femininity. In spite of the disparate and rather surprising nature of the subjects of these three contributions, which I will not develop, but also in spite of the Œdipian interpretation of love which links them together, Jacques-Alain Miller notes that the three texts converge on the question of the male s embarrassment with sexual jouissance as regards woman. He notes that Freud precisely does not make Woman exist, but types of women, that he dwells at length on the dead ends of relations between men and women, which are marked by an impossibility, which goes together with the stress upon the disjunction between love and jouissance. Love implies that a substitution is possible, but on the level of jouissance there is no substitution possible. In the second contribution, Freud makes clear that there is something in the nature of the sexual drive that is unfavourable to the achievement of complete satisfaction, 33 when the Œdipal interpretation is called upon to point that the definitive object of sexual drive, is no longer the original one, which has been lost through repression, but merely a surrogate for it. Somehow, the Œdipal theme is a first way to approach the non-sexual rapport, by placing at the heart of the relations between men and woman the forbidden jouissance and castration. Freud also provides the first approach to the dissymmetry between the sexes convergent with Lacan s formulae of sexuation when a woman is both a narcissistic object for a man, and an enigmatic one: it supports identification, on the basis of sameness, of the phallus, and it is a mysterious other. Freud states: Women appear different from men, eternally incomprehensible and mysterious, strange and therefore hostile, 34 we feel like translating that they are not-all in the phallic function, because of the inexistence of the signifier for Woman, as Jacques- Alain Miller also points out. He notes that with psychoanalysis and transference, Freud invents a new kind of love, a new type of Other to whom love can be addressed: a new Other who gives new answers to love. 35 However this love remains linked to ignorance in so far as it aims to 30. Ibid. p. 240, p Freud, S. Concerning the Most Universal Debasement in the Erotic Life, second of the three Contributions to the Psychology of Erotic Life, The psychology of Love. Op. Cit. 32. Freud, S. The Virginity Taboo, third of the three Contributions to the Psychology of Erotic Life, The psychology of Love. Op. Cit. 33. Freud, S. Concerning the Most Universal Debasement in the Erotic Life, Op. Cit. p Freud, S. The Virginity Taboo, Op. Cit. p Miller, J-A."causerie sur l amour " p 820.
8 veil the status of the object a as waste. The orientation of Lacanian analysis on the contrary leads to unveil it, but by making known the conditions of love, while it aims to find a new articulation of love and jouissance, taking into account that there is no sexual rapport and that this is impossible to overcome. This is how Lacan s assertion that what makes up for the sexual relationship [rapport, which does not exist] is, quite precisely, love 36 can be understood. There Is No Sexual Rapport Freud had already set a structural impossibility at the heart of psychoanalysis, in the sense that the Œdipal complex structures and founds human relations. But this impossible remains relative to the need for civilization. Lacan will give logical grounds to this impossible at the time when he moves away from the imperialism of the structure, to lay the stress on the ethical dimension of the orientation towards the real: it would be well not to confuse what is involved in the rapport, this term being taken in its logical sense, with the relation that grounds the conjoined function of the two sexes, 37 he maintained in Seminar XVI: From the Other to an other when he started examining the coordinates of this issue. He approached it successively from different angles. If he dismisses the idea that biology might define a necessary rapport between men and women, he rather points out the chromosomal dissymmetry between males and females, and objects to an interpretation of the relation between the sexes in terms of polarity, as in the case of magnetic fields. He soon notes that men and women are language effects, pointing out that Freud limits himself to speaking of a feminine or masculine position, since clinical experience prove that we do not necessarily identify to our biological sex. Lacan also notes that the issue of sex is closely associated to the number 2 for us. Thus, the fact that there are two sexes not only constitutes fundamental bases of reality, 38 but it is the starting point of a logical, mathematical relation. He underlines however that on the level of the universal proposition, this couple is no longer effective, that it does not let us conceive of a logical complementarity. Can one say all males, can this even be stated in a naïve manipulation of adjectives? Why should an Aristotelian proposition not be dressed up as follows: all males in Creation, for example? It is a question that would involve the following: does all the non-males, mean the females? The abysses opened up by such a confident recourse to the principle of contradiction might perhaps also be taken in the other sense and make us question ourselves, as in the approach I earlier announced, about what recourse to the principle of contradiction may itself contain in terms of sexual implications. 39 All the non-males is not equivalent to all the females. but it opens up on the infinite space. There, Lacan approaches one of the factors that will lead him to make clear, referring to the theory of sets, the impossible rapport between the sexes. There isn t the slightest prediscursive reality, for the very fine reason that what constitutes a collectivity what I called men, women, and children means nothing qua prediscursive reality. Men, women and children are but signifiers. 40 Lacan says again in Seminar XX: Encore. He dismisses any idea of a natural relation between the sexes by underlining that sexuation is a matter of identification, therefore of language. However, he underlines the dissymmetry between the terms man and woman on that point of view: A man is nothing but a signifier. A woman seeks out a man qua signifier. A man seeks 36. Lacan, J. Seminar XX: Encore, Op. Cit. p Lacan, J. Seminar XVI: From an other to the Other, My translation, adapted from Cormac Ghallagher s translation of unedited French manuscripts, private publication, (Karnac books), Chapter XIV, p 7, with Lacan, J.Le séminaire, livre XVI, D un Autre à l autre ( ), Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller (Paris : Seuil, 2006): p Ibid. Chapter XIV p Ibid. Chapter. XIV p Lacan, J. Seminar XX: Encore Op. Cit. p 33.
9 out a woman qua and this will strike you as odd that which can only be situated through discourse, since, if what I claim is true namely, that woman is not-whole there is always something in her that escapes discourse. 41 In other words, he corrects the previous assertion by reminding us that the Phallus is the only signifier of sexual difference. Its mark is what makes of someone a man. The terms of common discourse, man and woman, that are S 2 s, i.e. signifiers belonging to common language, have to be distinguished from the dimension of the signifier as a mark, as an S 1, or even as a letter (we will come back to it), such as the Phallus. It is only from that point of view that there is no signifier for Woman, as he will further make clear. There is only one signifier for sexual difference, the feminine position being primarily defined by the negative, as not having the phallus. In From the Other to an other, Lacan notes: Freudian logic puts us precisely at the sharp end of the fact that it cannot function in polar terms. Everything that it has introduced as a logic of sex comes under the jurisdiction of a single term which is truly its original term, namely, the connotation of a lack, an essential minus that is called castration. Without this, nothing would be able to function at its level in so far as its level is of a logical order. All normativity is organised for the man as for the woman around the transfer [ passing ] of a lack. 42 The term that connotes and passes the lack is the Phallus. By reminding us that the phallus is the signifier of castration, that which names what the maternal Other lacks and therefore the lack within the Other, he highlights its specific function in sexuality, since it is a pivot, an irreplaceable and essential term, the only one that operates as regards sexuation. As early as this seminar, Lacan makes it clear: So then, of course, this is indeed the moment to remind you that if there is a point where what I said to you there is no sexual rapport is affirmed, quite calmly in analysis, it is that one does not know what Woman is. Unknown in the box, except, thank God, through representations, because of course from all time she has never been known, except like that. If psychoanalysis highlights something, precisely, it is that it is [known only] by one or several representatives of representation. 43 He takes that up in Encore when he distinguishes the signifier on the men s side and the knowledge we have of women by the way of discourse. Already in From the Other to an other, he approached the issue of feminine sexuation by the way of a lack of signifier relative to the fact that the Phallus is the only signifier for sexual difference: If the Woman in her essence is something, and we know nothing about it, she is just as repressed [for] women as [for] men, and she is doubly so. First of all by the fact the representative of her representation is lost, we do not know what the woman is. And then, that the representative, if it is recuperated, is the object of a Verneinung because what else can be attributed to her as a characteristic - and it is a denegation - except that of not having what precisely there was never any question of her having? Nevertheless, it is only from this angle that, in Freudian logic, the woman appears: an inadequate representative, alongside the phallus and then the negation that she has it. Namely, the reaffirmation of the solidarity with this thing that is perhaps indeed her representative but that has no relationship with her. So then, this ought to give us just by itself a little lesson in logic and let us see that what is lacking to the whole of this logic, is precisely the sexual signifier. 44 Thus he observes that prehistoric statuettes represented women as sorts of bladders, already pointing to a lack in terms of form, of representation. He will unceasingly come back upon the specificity of the phallic signifier as the cause of the inexistence of the sexual rapport: The function said to be that of the phallus [he says in On a discourse that might not be a semblance] which is, to tell the truth very awkwardly handled, but which is there, and which functions in what is involved, not simply in an experience, linked to something or other that would be considered as deviant, as pathological, but which is essential as such for the establishment of analytic discourse. This function of the phallus renders henceforth untenable this sexual bipolarity, and untenable in a way that literally makes vanish into thin air anything involved about what can be written about this rapport Ibid. 42. Lacan, J. Seminar XVI : From an other to the Other, Op. Cit, Chapter XIV p Ibid. Chapter XIV p Ibid., Chapter XIV p Lacan, J. Seminar XVIII: On a discourse that might not be a semblance, ( ), My translation, adapted from Cormac Gahallagher, XVIII_d_un_discours.pdf, p 83
10 In Ou pire Lacan specifies that It is with ö (the symbolic phallus) [ ] that everyone has rapport. 46 There is no natural rapport between man and woman because sexuation and sexuality are only relative to the signifier, and more specifically to the phallus, as an intermediate between the sexes. It is that which vectorizes sexual jouissance, from which it stems, as Lacan puts it in Seminar XX: Encore (it stems from traces upon the body, the phallus as a mark) although the jouissance of the Other does not depend upon it (it depends on the object a, which causes it). 47 He adds: Phallic jouissance is the obstacle owing to which man does not come (n arrive pas), I would say to enjoy woman s body, precisely because what he enjoys is the jouissance of the organ. 48 For example, on the one hand, man only approaches the Other sex by means of the phallic signifier (the signifier of sexual difference, which Lacan relates to the sexual characteristics (caractères sexuels secondaires) which he considers as traces upon the body while making clear that [n]othing distinguishes woman as a sexed being other than her sexual organ (sexe), (in the sense that the phallus signifier is the organ). 49 He further notes that jouissance is fitted out (appareillée) by language and that [r]eality is [only] approached with apparatuses of jouissance (les appareils) 50. In other words, the phallus in one of the apparatuses of jouissance, the use of which is to approach the Other sex. However, he also makes clear, in On a discourse that might not be a semblance, that the phallus in not a medium for all that, because on the side of women there remains something unknown, that cannot be named. On the other hand, men only approach the Other sex by putting the phallus at stake, as that which makes a man of him, therefore that which he enjoys. Jouissance, qua sexual, is phallic in other words, it is not related to the Other as such, 51 he adds. Besides, Lacan prolongs the logical construction of his assertion there is no sexual rapport by determining the consequences of the specificity of the phallus as the only signifier of sexual difference as well as those of the lack of a signifier for Woman, by specifying the relation of the notion of rapport to the dimension of logical writing. He explores the paradoxes of negation, by first showing that non x is equal to the infinite space. Starting from this statement, he will rely on the theory of sets to underline the dissymmetry between men and women. If man and woman can only be defined by the intermediary of the phallic signifier, so there is no signifier for Woman, no specific signifier, equal to the phallus, for women. But Lacan will not be content with a definition by the negative. Women are not non-men, and precisely, the negation opens up on the infinite space, i.e. on the absence of a nomination for non-men, on the absence of a closed set defining a universal of the type all women. Lacan rather points out that women are not all within the phallic function, that a part of their jouissance is not correlated to the phallus, but to the lack of a signifier to name their being. He postulates that woman enjoy a supplementary jouissance, which is linked to this specific lack of being, a jouissance of a lack of being, of a lack of name. He makes this point clear with the theory of sets by distinguishing the One of the element from the One of the set. 52 To close a set, a collection must be formed, that can be gathered under the same signifier. However, it is the One of the set that lacks for women, which makes it impossible to close the set of women. It is therefore the reason why the set of women is an open one, it cannot be closed; it is infinite. The phallic signifier cannot be that One that would constitute the set as a closed one, that would name it, define its borders. Thus women are not-all subordinated to the phallus. Lacan rather defines the feminine position in relation to the lack of a signifier to name her being. 46. Jacques Lacan, Le séminaire, livre XIX Ou pire ( ), Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, (Paris : Seuil, 2011) p 71. My translation. 47. Lacan, J. Seminar XX : Encore Op. Cit. pp Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Lacan J., Le séminaire, livre XIX ou pire ( ), p 143.
11 With the not-all, Lacan also introduces a kind of infinite that somehow makes a hole in the all. Jacques-Alain Miller in le partenaire symptôme (The Partner Symptom) 53 represents the not-all by a hachured square inside the set of the all, on the border of this set, designing a limit within the all, and underlining the specificity of the not-all which consists in subverting the all. Thus the not-all becomes generalized with Lacan s last teaching when Lacan lays the stress on a not-all phallic jouissance, a non Œdipian jouissance, at the level of the sinthome, when he definitely breaks apart from an Œdipan perspective. Thus the jouissance of women is divided between phallic jouissance and feminine jouissance. On the one hand, a woman expects a supplement of being from a man, a nomination. Her jouissance aims towards the phallus, understood as the signifier that the Other lacks. Hence the fact that women want men to talk to them, to name them as exceptions, to give them a nomination within language. On the other hand, women enjoy this very lack of a signifier to name them, i.e. S(A), the signifier of A insofar as the latter is barred, they enjoy the lack of a signifier within the Other which is a properly feminine jouissance. As to the set of men, it is closed. The phallus is the signifier which provides the One of that set, which makes it possible to say all men, to define a universal. However Lacan also relies upon Logic to define the phallus as a function and he makes clear that this logical function finds its limit with the postulate that there is one element that contravenes the function: the paternal signifier (which Lacan notes xöx). E The formulae of sexuation delineate a fundamental dissymmetry between the masculine and the feminine positions, which are but logical positions, so that men and women can put themselves on either side (or both) of the chart. Besides, there is no logical rapport between the two sides of the chart. In terms of jouissance, Lacan writes, on the feminine side, the division between phallic jouissance and feminine jouissance, on the men s side, the division between love and jouissance. On the one hand, there is phallic jouissance, as the jouissance of the organ (the phallus is placed on the man s side); on the other hand, he writes S Ca: a is placed on the women s side, as the object that puts itself in the place of what cannot be glimpsed of the Other, in the place of the missing partner. 54 It should be noted that both men and women, insofar as this is a matter of logical position, are concerned by both sides of the chart. However, the dissymmetry of the latter interprets the inexistence of the sexual rapport. Woody Allen s film You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, illustrates how the inexistence of the sexual rapport can be expressed. No social, intellectual or family affinity (such as having children together) is enough to ensure the perenniality of couples, unless the parts are linked by a touch of madness. Thus, only the couple formed by Elena, the mother who puts her life in the hands of a voyante (seer) and Jonathan who runs an occult bookshop, believes in communication with the dead, and asks permission from his deceased wife to be matched with Elena, seems destined to have a future. Elena s daughter, married to a writer longing for success expects of him that he might consent to give her a child and is getting impatient because of his editorial failures, while the manager of the Art Gallery for whom she works and which she strives to satisfy, becomes more brilliant in her eyes. She is moved by his attentions (he takes her to the Opera because his wife is not free, and speaks of himself to her), by his words, by the position of exception which he seems to confer upon her in her work and beyond. This character illustrates the feminine side 53. Miller, J-A. Le partenaire symptôme, séminaire inédit, cours n 13 du 25 mars Lacan, J. Seminar XX: Encore Op. Cit. p 63.
12 of the phallic quest: she is longing for words of love that would make an exception of her, that would name her. But the jouissance of the boss lies elsewhere, it is turned towards the artist who only offers him a short-lived affair, the one who puts forward her own enigma, becoming the object that causes his desire. The writer who lacks self-esteem and whose wife resists his advances if he does not promise a child to her, will try to polish his phallic image with the young and mysterious musician who lives in the opposite building and who will be lured by the writer s imposture (he publishes the manuscript of a friend whom he believes to be dead, under his name). The embodiment of masculine phallic jouissance, he enjoys being a brilliant man on her side and chooses the one who consents to his sexual desire. Lacan finally explains what he means by the word rapport. A rapport is what can be written, notably in the form of a mathematical formula, a ratio, establishing a logical relationship between two terms. To approach the inexistence of the sexual rapport, he first has recourse to the logic of relations: [The formula there is no such thing as sexual rapport ] is based only on the written in the sense that the sexual relationship cannot be written. Everything that is written stems from the fact that it will forever be impossible to write, as such, the sexual relationship [rapport]. It is on that basis that there is a certain effect of discourse, which is called writing. One could, at a pinch, write x R y, and say x is a man, y is a woman, and R the sexual relationship [rapport]. Why not? The only problem is that it s stupid, because what is based on the signifier function (la fonction de signifiant) of man and woman are mere signifiers that are altogether related to the current (courcourant) use of language. 55 We cannot write x R y, because there is no y, there is no signifier for Woman, so we cannot write any logical rapport between man and woman. This will lead Lacan to assert that the sexual rapport is what does not stop not to be written. Love He then explains the distinction between what is being written and what does not stop not to be written with reference to the writing of a logical rapport, in the form of a bar that separates and links two elements. The bar is precisely the point at which, in every use of language, writing (l écrit) may be produced. 56 This bar is also the one that separates the signifier from the signified in Saussure s algorithm (and which Lacan writes in the reverse S/s), the one that comes between signifier and signified as another effect of language (than that of signifying). The function of writing, of the letter, is thus added to the function of signifying. But what is written, he says, is not to be understood. He takes the mathematical letter as an example, it has no sense but is the medium to get at a real. It is what, of the language effects, can be articulated. It reveals 57 grammar (the essential, operative mathematical letters, are the letters of the logical functions, which the variables highlight, which they fulfil). The mathematical letter does not aim for sense but this articulation occurs in what results from language regardless of what we do namely, a presumed shy of and beyond (en deça et au-delà). 58 In other words, it points towards the real, it aims to write the real. The letter forms a rapport between two terms and more precisely as he defines it in Litturaterre, between the Symbolic and the Real, the unary trait and the object a, S 1 and a. The letter has a littoral function, it acts as an edge, it is the connecting line between two elements that have no common measure, that constitute an edge the one for the other. Writing is an effect that is added to language, beyond significance, beyond the link between signifier and signified, and which aims at the real. 55. Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p 44.
13 So then, the sexual rapport cannot be written because the signifiers man and woman are only S 2 s, belonging to common discourse, and they can only be linked on the level above the bar, the level of the signifier. Because of the lack of a signifier for Woman, there cannot be any logical link between two distinct elements, but also there cannot be any relation akin to that of the letter that would link two radically heterogeneous elements, because, if the signifier for Woman existed, it would still be a signifier, the link would be between two elements of the same kind. On the other hand, the chart of the sexual formulae reveals the function of the letter on the level of love, which is written S Ca. It can be noted that the arrow connects the male side of the chart to the female side of the chart, it crosses over an edge. A few times in this seminar, Lacan situates love on the side of the function of the letter. The only thing one can write that is a bit serious a love letter, 59 he says, playing on the ambiguity of the word letter, but also pointing how writing love letters is not a simple matter of chance. Love is always reciprocal, he says, because the desire of man is the desire of the Other, as he had put it in Seminar V, making clear that desire is the desire for a desire, a desire to be desired, the desire is contingent to the supposition of a desire within the Other, but henceforth of its flaw, its lack. In his Seminar VIII: Transference, Lacan explained that love is correlated to a lack and therefore to the signifier, that its metaphor relies on the substitution of the desiring one, who sets his partner in the place of the desired object, to that of the desired one because what is desired is the desiring one in the other, and [t] his cannot happen unless the subject himself is situated [colloqué] qué desirable. 60 The demand for love stems from the gap in the Other. 61 It is a demand to be loved, but its aim is being, it aims at getting the supplement of being which we lack, namely what slips away most in language. 62 Language imposes being upon us, Lacan says, and obliges us, as such, to admit that we never have anything by way of being (de l être). 63 In his partner, the subject is looking for the semblance of being supposed to the object a, he also explains in this seminar. Doesn t the extreme of love, true love, reside in the approach to being? he asks. Thus love aims towards an object that is a substitute for the Other, 64 and from which jouissance depends, which causes it. As opposed to what Freud maintains, he says, it is man I mean he who happens to be male without knowing what to do with it, all the while being a speaking being who approaches woman, or who can believe that he approaches her, [ ]. But what he approaches is the cause of his desire that I have designated as object a. That is the act of love. 65 The French word for approaching is aborder and I believe it is here not by chance because he precisely underlines that love is the constitution of an edge (a bord), between S barred and a, S which he relates a little before to the S 1. Later on, he says: "On the side of man I have inscribed S [ ] and the ö that props him up as signifier and is also incarnated in S 1, pointing out that this S never deals with anything by way of a partner but object a inscribed on the other side of the bar. 66 It is the reason why Lacan can claim that what makes up for the sexual relationship [rapport] is, quite precisely, love. 67 He points again to the dimension of love as a letter when he makes clear that love links the One to the Other by the intermediary of the object a, it links S 1 to a, which is also the function of the letter. It thus writes a rapport. The edging function of the letter is relative to the dimension of the object a as semblance, as he will also make clear in this seminar, i.e. the object a 59. Ibid. p Lacan, J. Seminar VIII : Transference Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, Trans. Bruce Fink (Cambridge: Polity, 2015) p Lacan, J. Seminar XX: Encore Op. Cit. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid. p 45.
14 stands between the symbolic and the real insofar as it is something cut from the Real, a piece of real, a scrap of real, as Jacques-Alain Miller puts it after Lacan (un bout de réel). This is what enables the object a to be conjoined to the S 1. With love it stops not being written, 68 or, more precisely, as Lacan puts it, love is what displaces the negation from the stops not being written to the doesn t stop being written, doesn t stop, won t stop, 69 an echo of the beginning of the seminar when he claimed that love demands love. It never stops demanding it. it demands it encore, 70 pointing to the insatiable, unsatisfactory nature of love, which is always to be written again. Lacan does not adopt any idealistic point of view. Nevertheless, Jacques-Alain Miller notes that the question of love from Seminar XX: Encore onwards receives an altogether special promotion, because love is what can mediate between the one(s)-allalone. 71 It is another effect of the writing it produces, love links, it goes against the fundamental solitude in contemporary civilization based on the promotion of a solitary jouissance. Let s turn again towards the disturbance caused by the arrival of Sophie in the life of the Magician in Magic in the Moonlight, as he is ousted out of his solitary research in his lonely office. Conclusion: from Yann Andrea to Woody Allen To conclude, let s try to illustrate by the negative what could mean the existence of the sexual rapport as sometimes happens in psychosis. The link that united Yann Andrea to Marguerite Duras is exemplary. He was her last companion, and testified, in a book called that very love, (cet amour là), 72 to the specificity of his link to her. A blank page, the one who said of himself after the death of Marguerite Duras that he was a dustbin, unable to manage by himself, defined himself as such: I am not held by anything. I have an extraordinary capacity not to do anything, absolutely nothing, it is not worth it. 73 His existence came down to watching, to being there. He lets his identification to the object a clearly be heard. The object for him is not extracted, not placed into the Other, it does not impulse any desire (which is the case when the object is extracted). He is identified to the gaze. He dreamt of being a writer and hung on, thanks to an unlikely meeting, to Marguerite Duras, placing himself at her service by transcribing what she dictated to him. She named him, literally (she changed his name to one which became his author s name). She takes the place of God, naming, knotting the voice with the word I say this: at the heart of the wonder of our encounter, during the now famous summer in 1980, lies the voice, her voice. Her way of uttering the words entirely, her way of going in search of the words, of finding the right word, of letting the word reach the mouth by going through the silence of thought. 74 when she speaks, she seems to invent the word, and I hear the word for the first time, as if it had never been uttered before, she is the author of words and author of her voice. 75 On her side was the S 1, she was the Woman, as Lacan says that Woman is the other Name-of-the- Father, on his side was the object a. The conditions were there for the possibility that it should be written between them, at least sometimes, temporarily, notably when they collaborated in her writing. This is what he says of these moments: and at that moment, there is, as I would say, a third person with us. We no longer exist. There is no author s name, there is only writing, being produced. It is such an emotion [ ] the emotion of truth. 76 She became his 68. Ibid. p Ibid. p Ibid, p Miller J-A A Fantasy Op. Cit. 72. Yann A, Cet amour-là, Genève: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, Ibid. p 122. My translation. 74. Ibid. p 41. My translation. 75. Ibid. p 42. My translation. 76. Ibid. p 38. My translation.
15 own name: I can say she invents, she believes in it, she invents me, she gives me a name, she gives me an image, she calls me, no one ever called me as much as her, night and day, she gives me words, words, her own words, she gives everything, and I am there, I am there to that purpose. I don t ask questions, I don t ask for anything. 77 An ultimate and paroxystic version of love, Yann Andrea illustrates a condition for the possibility of a love that truly writes a rapport, at the cost of his own inexistence. At the same time, he points out how such a rapport is impossible: of unbearable grace, so we have to disregard it, to love each other, to love the world even more and it is back, it is there, the truth of the word. 79 Woody Allen and Yann Andrea are complete opposites. For the latter, a pure but unbearable and inhuman version of love, which however propped him up at the cost of his collapse with the death of Marguerite Duras. He seems to have let himself die in the end. For Woody Allen, the humour and lightness of a generalized failure, a reflection of our humaneness, let s choose. She took everything. I gave everything, entirely. Except that there was nothing to take. I was there. Entirely. Not for her, no. It happens that she was there, so I was there for her, but above all I was close to her, there, as close as could be, without ever stopping to be separated from her. She wants everything from me, up to love, up to destruction, up to death included, she wants to believe with all her might in this magnificent illusion, she believes in it, she devotes all the means she can gather to achieve some kind of complete love, an unremitting love, she knows that it is not possible, that I am not pregnable, that I resist, that I cannot do more, yet she insists, she wants more, as a sort of heroic and vain challenge. For her, for me. She wants everything, she wants the whole, and she does not want anything. Nothing at all. And up to the end of life, this very attempt. That me and her should be as One, although it is not possible, no, in any case, it always fails, she knows, she knows that, she knows that me and her rather makes three. That the provisional resolution, to be tempted, always to be done again, goes through a third element that is writing. 78 Who would not conclude that failure is preferable? Can there be a more striking illustration of the way the sexual rapports is related to writing. So Yann Andrea further claims: No I don t expect anything. No money. Nothing [in English in the original text]. Only you. Yourself bound to me and myself bound to you. In a sort idiotic, absurd link deprived of sense, that comes to nothing, as you say. Of course it comes to nothing, and yet it is there. What? What would be there and that would exist as a proof of the existence of God? An impossible proof, always to be checked, still to be proved, although we know there is no proof, yes we know that, there would only be words, truth that always tries to creep between us, that exists sometimes, it is there, in a sort 77. Ibid. p 50. My translation. 78. Ibid. p 67. My translation. 79. Ibid. pp My translation.
16 EXP RESS The LC EXPRESS is produced and distributed by Maria-Cristina Aguirre, Editor Nancy Gillespie, Co-Editor Pierre-Gilles Guéguen, Advisor Cyrus Saint Amand Poliakoff, Designer Robert Buck, Art Editor The Lacanian Compass is a group dedicated to the development and promotion of the Lacanian Orientation of Psychoanalysis in the United States, psychoanalysis as first described by Sigmund Freud and further elaborated by Jacques Lacan and Jacques-Alain Miller. To subscribe to Lacanian Compass, fill out the subscription form on the 'contact' page of lacaniancompass.com For more information and to access the archive, visit lacaniancompass.com
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