Archive for February, 2010


February 28, 2010


The slave•
The ego ideal and the petit a

But I would not like to leave you today without introducing, for next time, two remarks, two remarks that are grounded in the mapping that Freud made of the function of identification.


There are enigmas in identification, even for Freud himself. He seems to be surprised that the regression of love should take place so easily in terms of identification—even when, in texts written about the same time, he demonstrates that love and identification have an equivalence in a certain register and that narcissism and over-estimation of the object, Verliebtheit, is exactly the same thing in love.


At this point, Freud pauses—I would ask you to find for yourselves in the text the various clues, as the English say, the traces, the marks left on the trail. I think this is because he had not sufficiently distinguished something. In the chapter of Massenpsjchologie und Ich-Analyse devoted to
identification, I stressed the second form of identification, in order to map in it, and to detach from it, the einziger the single stroke, the foundation, the kernel of the ego ideal. What is this single stroke? Is it a privileged object in the field of Lust? No.

在這一點,佛洛伊德遲疑了一下。我要求你們自己到文章中尋找各種線索,如英國人常說,尋找他遲疑的蛛絲馬跡。我想這是因為他並沒有充份地區別它們。在專注於討論認同的「群眾心理學」及「自我分析」文章,為了找到它的位置,並保持距離觀察,我強調認同的第二種形式,「孤注一擲」是基礎,是自我理想的核心, 這孤注一擲是什麼!在欲望的領域,那是具有特權的客體嗎?顯然不是。

The single stroke is not in the first field of narcissistic identification, to which Freud relates the first form of identification —which, very curiously indeed, he embodies in a sort of function, a sort of primal model which the father assumes, anterior even to the libidinous investment on the mother —a mythical stage, certainly. The single stroke, in so far as the subject clings to it, is in the field of desire, which cannot in any sense be constituted other than in the reign of the signifier, other than at the level in which there is a relation of the subject to the Other. It is the field of the Other that determines the
function of the single stroke, in so far as it is from it that a major stage of identification is established in the topography then developed by Freud—namely, idealization, the ego ideal. I showed you the traces of this first signifier on the primitive bone on which the hunter makes a notch and counts the number of
times he gets his target.


It is in the intersection by which the single signifier functions here in the field of Lust, that is to say, in the field of primary narcissistic identification, that is to be found the essential mainspring of the effects of the ego ideal. I have described elsewhere the sight in the mirror of the ego ideal, of that being that he first saw appearing in the form of the parent holding him up before the mirror. By clinging to the reference-point of him who looks at him in a mirror, the subject sees appearing, not his ego ideal, but his ideal ego, that point at which he desires to gratify himself in himself.


This is the function, the mainspring, the effective instrument constituted by the ego ideal. Not so long ago, a little girl said to me sweetly that it was about time somebody began to look after her so that she might seem lovable to herself. In saying this, she provided the innocent admission of the mainspring
that comes into play in the first stage of the transference. The subject has a relation with his analyst the centre of which is at the level of the privileged signifier known as the ego ideal, in so far as from there he will feel himself both satisfactory and loved. But there is another function, which institutes an identification of a strangely different kind, and which is introduced by the process of separation.


It is a question of this privileged object, discovered by analysis, of that object whose very reality is purely topological, of that object around which the drive moves, of that object that rises in a bump, like the wooden darning egg in the material which, in analysis, you are darning—the objet a. This object supports that which, in the drive, is defined and specified by the fact that the coming into play of the signifier in the life of man enables him to bring out the meaning of sex. Namely, that for man, because he knows the signifiers, sex and its significations are always capable of making present the presence of death.


The distinction between the life drive and the death drive is true in as much as it manifests two aspects of the drive. But this is so only on condition that one sees all the sexual drives as articulated at the level of significations in the unconscious, in as much as what they bring out is death—death as signifier and
nothing but signifier, for can it be said that there is a being-for death?


In what conditions, in what determinism, can death, the signifier, spring fully armed into treatment? This can be understood only by our way of articulating the relations. Through the function of the objet a, the subject separates himself off, ceases to be linked to the vacillation of being, in the sense that it forms the essence of alienation. This function has been sufficiently indicated to us, for long enough, by enough traces. I have shown at one time or another that it is impossible to conceive of the phenomenology of verbal hallucination if we do not understand what the very term that we use to designate it means—that is to say, voices.


It is in so far as the object of the voice is present in it that the percipiens is present in it. Verbal hallucination is not a false perceptum, it is a deviated percipiens. The subject is immanent in
his verbal hallucination. This possibility is there, which should make us ask the question as to what we are going to achieve in analysis, concerning the accommodations of the percipiuns.


Up till the advent of psycho-analysis, the path of knowledge was always traced in that of a purification of the subject, of the percipiens. Well! We would now say that we base the assurance of the subject in his encounter with the filth that may support him, with the petit a of which it would not be untrue to say that its presence is necessary.


Take Socrates. The inflexible purity of Socrates and his atopia are correlative. Intervening, at every moment, there is the demonic voice. Could one maintain that the voice that guides Socrates is not
Socrates himself? The relation between Socrates and his voice is no doubt an enigma, which indeed, tempted psychographers on several occasions in the early nineteenth century, and it is already a great merit on their part that they dared to broach the matter since nowadays one daren’t touch it with a bargepole.


It is a new trace to be interrogated in order to know what w mean when we speak of the subject of perception. Don’t make me out to say what I’m not saying—the analyst must not hear voices. All the same, read a book by an analyst of good vintage, a Theodor Reik, a direct pupil and familiar of Freud, Listening with the Third-Ear—in actual fact, I do not approve of the formula, as if two were not enough to be deaf with. But he maintains that this third ear helps him to hear some voice of the
other that speaks to him in order to warn him of deception’* —he belongs to the good old days, the heroic days, when one was able to hear what was being said behind the deception of the patient.


Certainly, we have learnt a lot since then, because we know how to recognize in these circumventions, these cleavages, the objet a, which certainly has still scarcely emerged.




February 26, 2010


Indetermination and determination of the subject.
Love, transference, desire•

However, we must move on to what is our main topic, namely, the transference. How can we take up the thread again? The transference is unthinkable unless one sets out from the subject who is supposed to know.


You will now have a better idea of what he is supposed to know. He is supposed to know that from which no one can escape, as soon as he formulates it—quite simply, signification. Signification implies, of course—and that is why I first brought out the dimension of his desire—that he cannot refuse it.


This privileged point is the only one by which we can recognize the character of an absolute point with no knowledge. It is absolute precisely by virtue of being in no way knowledge, but the point of attachment that links his very desire to the resolution of that which is to be revealed.


The subject comes into play on the basis of this fundamental support—the subject is supposed to know, simply by virtue of being a subject of desire. Now what actually happens? What happens is what is called in its most common appearance the transference effect. This effect is love. It is clear that, like all love, it can be mapped, as Freud shows, only in the field of narcissism. To love is, essentially, to wish to be loved.


What emerges in the transference effect is opposed to revelation. Love intervenes in its function, revealed here as essential, in its function as deception. Love, no doubt, is a transference effect, but it is its resistance side. We are linked together in awaiting this transference effect in order to be able to interpret, and at the same time, we know that it closes the subject off from the effect of our interpretation. The alienation effect, in which is articulated, in the relation of the subject to the Other,
the effect that we are, is here absolutely manifest.


We should point out here, then, something that is always avoided, which Freud articulates, and which is not an excuse, but the reason of the transference, namely, that nothing can be attained in absentia, in eftigie. This means that the transference is not, of its nature, the shadow of something that was once
alive. On the contrary, the subject, in so far as he is subjected to the desire of the analyst, desires to betray him for this subjection, by making the analyst love him, by offering of himself that essential duplicity that is love. The transference effect is that effect of deception in so far as it is repeated in the
present here and now.


It is repetition of that which passed for such only because it possesses the same form. It is not ectopia. It is not a shadow of the former deceptions of love. It is isolation in the actuality of its pure functioning as deception.


That is why we can say that what is there, behind the love known as transference, is the affirmation of the link between the desire of the analyst and the desire of the patient. This is what Freud expressed in a kind of rapid sleight of hand when he said—after all, it is only the desire of the patient—this should
reassure one’s colleagues. It is the patient’s desire, yes, but in its meeting with the analyst’s desire. I will not say that I have not yet named the analyst’s desire, for how can one name a desire? One circumscribes a desire. There are many things in history that provide us with tracks and traces here.


Is it not strange, that echo that we found—though, of course, we are not going to stick our noses into this for long—between the ethic of analysis and the Stoic ethic? What does the Stoic ethic really amount to other than the recognition of the absolute authority of the desire of the Other, that Thy will
be done! that is taken up again in the Christian register? But will I ever have the time to show you this?


We are solicited by a more radical articulation. The problem may be posed of the relation between the master’s desire and the slave. Hegel declares it to be solved —this is not so at all. Since I am ready to take my leave of you for this year —next time will be my last lecture—may I throw out a few
points that may give you some idea of the direction in which we will travel later.


If it is true that the master situates himself only in an original relation to the assumption of death, I think that it is very difficult to attribute to him an apprehensible relation to desire. I’m speaking of the master in Hegel, not of the master of antiquity, of which we have one portrait, for example, in that
of Alcibiades, whose relation to desire is visible enough. He asks Socrates for something, without knowing what it is, but which he calls agalma. Some of you will know the use that I made of this term some time ago. I will go back to this agalma, this mystery, which, in the mist that clouds Alcibiades’ vision, represents something beyond all good.


How can one see anything other than a first adumbration of the technique of the mapping of the transference in the fact that Socrates replies to him, not what he said to him when he was young, Look to your soul, but something more suited to the florid, hardened man he now is, Look to your desire, look to your onions. As it happens, it is the height of irony on Plato’s part to have embodied these onions in a man who is so futile and absurd, almost a buffoon. I think I was the first to remark that
the lines Plato puts in his mouth concerning the nature of love are an indication of just such futility, verging on buffoonery, which makes of Agathon perhaps the least likely object to attract the desire of a master. Furthermore, the fact that he is called Agathon, that is to say, the name to which Plato gave
the supreme value, adds an extra, perhaps involuntary, but incontestable, note of irony.


Thus, as soon as it comes into play in the story, the desire of the master seems, of its very nature, to be the most inappropriate term. On the other hand, when Socrates wishes to obtain his own answer, it is to the slave, who has no right to declare his own desire, that he turns. He can always be sure of obtaining
the right reply from him. The voice of reason is low, Freud says somewhere, but it always says the same thing. I don’t wish to draw a false parallel to the effect that Freud says exactly the same thing about unconscious desire. Its voice, too, is low, but its insistence is indestructible. Perhaps there is a relation between the two. It is in the direction of some kind of kinship that we should turn our eyes to the slave, when it is a question of mapping what the analyst’s desire is.




February 18, 2010



Interpretation is not open to all meanings

Let us move on. In an article, to which I have already referred in order to correct what seemed to me its dangers, an attempt has been made, in an effort that is not without merit, to give form to certain notions I have introduced concerning the structure of language inherent in the unconscious. What emerged was a formula that consists, in short, in translating the formula that I gave of the metaphor. This formula was essential and usable, since it manifests the dimension in which the unconscious appears, in as much as the operation of signifying condensation is fundamental to it.


Of course, signifying condensation, with its metaphorical effect, can be observed quite openly in any poetic metaphor. That is why I took my example from Booze Endormi. Go back to my article, L’Instance de Ia Iettre dans I’inconscient, published in La Psychoanalyze. Of all poems, I have taken the one that, in French, may be said to echo in more people’s memories than any other. Who did not learn when a child to recite endormi! It isn’t a bad example to be used by analysts, especially at the point I introduced it, that is to say, when introducing at the same time the paternal metaphor.


I won’t go over again what I said, but my reason for introducing it now is obviously to show you what is contributed to the creation of meaning by the fact of designating the character who is in question, Booz —in that position both of divine father and instrument of God—by the metaphor—Sa gerbe
n’était pas avare ni haineuse (‘His sheaf was neither miserly nor spiteful’). The dimension of meaning opened up by this metaphor is nothing less than what appears to us in the final image, that of the golden sickle carelessly thrown into the field of stars. It is the very dimension hidden in this poem. More hidden than you think, because it is not enough to refer to the sickle which Jupiter used to flood the world with the blood of Chronos.


The dimension of castration that is involved here is, in the Biblical perspective, of a quite different order, and is at work there, present with all the echoes of history, including Booz’s invocations to the Lord—Comment surgira-t-il de moi, vieil homme, une descendance? (How will there ever be offspring for such an old man as I.)


I don’t know whether you have noticed—you would have been much more capable of doing so if this year I had done the seminar I intended doing on the Names-of-the-Father—but the Lord with the unpronounceable name is precisely he who sends children to barren women and old men. The fundamentally transbiological character of paternity, introduced by the tradition of the destiny of the chosen people, has something that is originally repressed there, and which always re-emerges in the ambiguity of lameness, the impediment and the symptom, of non-encounter, dustuchia, with the meaning that remains hidden.


This is a dimension that we find again and again and which, if we wish to formalize it, as the author I referred to just now tried to do, deserves to be handled with more prudence than is in fact the case—relying, in a way, on the formalism of fraction that results from marking the link that exists between the signifier and the signified by an intermediary bar. It is not absolutely illegitimate to consider that, at certain moments, this bar marks, in the relation of the signifier to the signified,
the indication of a value that is strictly what is expressed in its use as fraction in the mathematical sense of the term. But, of course, it is not the only use.


There is between the signifier and the signified, another relation which is that of the effect of meaning. Precisely at the point at which it is a question, in metaphor, of marking the effect of meaning, one can absolutely not, therefore, without taking certain precautions, and in as bold a way as has been done, manipulate this bar in a fractional transformation— which one could do if it were a question of a relation of proportion.


When it is a question of fractions, one may transform the product X into a four-storeyed formula, as in the following: It was thought to be very clever to do this with metaphor, arguing from the following— to that which carries the weight, in the unconscious, of an articulation of the last signifier to embody the metaphor with the new meaning created by its use, should correspond some kind of pinning out, from one to the other, of two sigriifiers in the unconscious.


Such a formula is quite definitely unsatisfactory. First, because one ought to know that there can be no relations between the signifier and itself; the peculiarity of the signifier being the fact that it is unable to itself; without producing some error in logic.



To be convinced of this, one has only to refer to the antinomies that have intervened as soon as an attempt has been made to produce an exhaustive logical formulation of mathematics. The catalogue of catalogues that do not contain themselves is obviously not the same catalogue that does not contain
itself—when it is the one that is introduced in the definition and when it is the one that will be inscribed in the catalogue.


It is so much easier to realize that what is happening is that a substitutive signifier has been put in the place of another signifier to constitute the effect of metaphor. It refers the signifier that it has usurped elsewhere. If, in fact, one wished to preserve the possibility of a handling of a fractional type, one
would place the signifier that has disappeared, the repressed signifier, below the principal bar, in the denominator, unterdrllckt.


Consequently, it is false to say, as has been said, that interpretation is open to all meanings under the pretext that it is a question only of the connection of a signifier to a signifier, and consequently of an uncontrollable connection. Interpretation is not open to any meaning. This would be to concede to those who rise up against the character of uncertainty in analytic interpretation that, in effect, all interpretations are possible, which is patently absurd. The fact that I have said that the effect of interpretation is to isolate in the subject a kernel, a kern, to use Freud’s own term, of non-sense, does not mean that interpretation is in itself nonsense.


Interpretation is a signification that is not just any signification. It comes here in the place of the s and reverses the relation by which the signifier has the effect, in language, of the signified. It has the effect of bringing out an irreducible signifier. One must interpret at the level of the s, which is not open to all
meanings, which cannot be just anything, which is a signification, though no doubt only an approximate one.


What is there is rich and complex, when it is a question of the unconscious of the subject, and intended to bring out irreducible, nonsensical— composed of non-meanings— signifying elements. In this same article, Leclaire’s work illustrates particularly well the crossing of significant interpretation towards signifying non-sense, when he proposes, on the subject of his obsessional neurotic patient, the so-called Poordjeli formula, which links the two syllables of the word licorne (unicorn), thus enabling him to introduce into his sequence a whole chain in which his desire is animated. Indeed, you will see in what he will publish later that things go much further still.


Interpretation is not open to all meanings. It is not just any interpretation. It is a significant interpretation, one that must not be missed. This does not mean that it is not this signification that is essential to the advent of the subject. What is essential is that he should see, beyond this signification, to what signifier —to what irreducible, traumatic, non-meaning—he is, as a subject, subjected.


This enables us to conceive what is materialized in the experience. I would ask you to take up one of Freud’s great psycho-analytic cases, the greatest of all, the most sensational —because one sees in it, more clearly than anywhere else, where the problem of the conversion of phantasy and reality
converge, namely, in something irreducible, non-sensical, that functions as an originally repressed signifier—I mean the case of the Wolf Man. In The Wolf Man, I would say, to give you the thread that will guide you through your reading, that the sudden appearance of the wolves in the window in the dream plays the function of the s, as representative of the loss of the subject.


It is not only that the subject is fascinated by the sight of these wolves, which number seven, and which, in fact, in his drawing of them perched on the tree number only five. It is that their fascinated gaze is the subject


What does the whole case show? It shows that at each stage in the life of the subject, something always arrived to reshape the value of the determining index represented by this original signifier. Thus the dialectic of the subject’s desire as constituting itself from the desire of the Other is correctly grasped.
Remember the adventure of the father, the sister, the mother and the servant-woman Groucha. So many different stages that enrich the unconscious desire of the subject with something that is to be put, as signification constituted in the relation to the desire of the Other, in the numerator.


Note what happens then. I would ask you to consider the logical necessity of that moment in which the subject as X can be constituted only from the Urverdrdngung, from the necessary fall of this first signifier. He is constituted around the UrverdrJngung, but he cannot substitute anything for it as such— since this would require the representation of one signifier for another, whereas here there is only one, the first. In this X, we must consider two sides—that constituent moment that sees the collapse of significance, which we articulate in a place in its function at the level of the unconscious, but also the return effect, which operates from this relation that may be conceived on the basis of the fraction. It must be introduced only with prudence, but it is well indicated for us by the effects of language.


Everyone knows that if zero appears in the denominator, the value of the fraction no longer has meaning, but assumes by convention what mathematicians call an infinite value. In a way, this is one of the stages in the constitution of the subject.


In so far as the primary signifier is pure non-sense, it becomes the bearer of the infinitization of the value of the subject, not open to all meanings, but abolishing them all, which is different. This explains why I have been unable to deal with the relation of alienation without introducing the word freedom. What, in effect, grounds, in the meaning and radical non-meaning of the subject, the function of freedom, is strictly speaking this signifier that kills all meanings.


This is why it is untrue to say that the signifier in the unconscious is open to all meanings. It constitutes the subject in his freedom in relation to all meanings, but this does not mean that it is not determined in it. For, in the numerator, in the place of the zero, the things that are inscribed are significations, dialectized significations in the relation of the desire of the Other, and they give a particular value to the relation of the subject to the unconscious.


It will be important, in what will follow in my seminar next year, to show how the experience of analysis forces us to seek a kind of formalization such that the mediation of this infinity of the subject with the finiteness of desire may occur only through the intervention of what Kant, on his entry into the gravitation of what is called philosophical thinking, introduced with so much freshness in the term negative quantities.


The freshness is important here, of course, because there is a difference between forcing philosophers to reflect on the fact that minus one ( — i) is not zero and the fact that people soon lose interest in such talk and cease to listen. Nevertheless—and this is the only use of the reference to philosophical articulation —men survive only by being at each moment so forgetful of all their conquests, I am speaking of their subjective conquests.


Of course, from the moment they forget them, they are nevertheless conquered, but it is rather they who are conquered by the effects of these conquests. And the fact of being conquered by something that one does not know sometimes has formidable consequences, the first of which is confusion.
Negative quantity, then, is the term that we shall find to designate one of the supports of what is called the castration complex, namely, the negative effect in which the phallus object enters into it. This is no more than a foretaste, but I thought it worth saying.




February 11, 2010


Field of the ego and field of the Other

As far as vocabulary is concerned, what I am going to introduce today will, unfortunately, not be very familiar to you. We shall be dealing with the most ordinary terms, such as identification, idealization, projection, introjection. These are not easy terms to handle and it is not made any easier by the fact that they already have meanings.


What could be more ordinary than to identify? It even seems like the essential operation of thought. To idealize, that too might prove useful when the psychologistic position becomes more experimental. To project and to introject are seen by some people as reciprocal terms. Yet I pointed out long ago — perhaps this fact should be realized—that one of these terms refers to a field in which the symbolic is dominant, the other to a field in which the imaginary is dominant, which must mean that, in a certain dimension at least, they never meet.


The intuitive use of these terms, on the basis of the feeling that one has of understanding them, and of understanding them in an isolated way as revealing their dimension in the common understanding, is obviously at the source of all the misapprehensions and confusions. It is the common fate of anything to do with discourse. In common discourse, he who speaks, at least in his native language, expresses himself with such ease, with such evident familiarity, that it is to the most common user of a language, to the uneducated man, that one has recourse if one wishes to know the correct usage of a term.


As soon as he wishes to speak, man is orientated in the fundamental topology of language, which is very different from the simplistic realism in which he who thinks that he is at ease in the domain of science all too often confines himself: The natural use of such expressions—let us select some at random—as in one’s own heart (a part soi),for good or ill (bon gre mal gre), a business (une afaire), which is different from a thing to be done (une chose âfaire), implies the enveloping topology in which the subject recognizes himself when he speaks spontaneously.


If I can speak to psycho-analysts and try to locate to which implicit topology they are referring when using each of the terms I have just listed, it is obviously because, on the whole—however incapable they may often be, for lack of teaching, of articulating them—they frequently make adequate use of
them, with the same spontaneity as the ordinary man uses ordinary speech. Of course, if they are determined to force the results of a case, and to understand where they do not understand, they will inevitably make a forced use of these results.


In such instances, there will be few people to develop them. Today, then, I’m referring to this fact in the psycho-analytic use of certain words, in order to be able to harmonize them with the evidence of a topology that I have already introduced here and which is, for example, embodied on the blackboard in the schema which shows you the field of the original Ich, the objectifiable Ich, in the last resort, in the nervous system, the Ich of the homeostatic field, in relation to which the field of Lust, of pleasure, is distinguished from the field of Unlust.


I have already pointed out that Freud distinguishes clearly between the level of the Ich, for example in the article on the Triebe, when stressing both that it is manifested as organized, which is a narcissistic sign, and that it is precisely to this extent that it is strictly articulated in the field of the real. In the real, it distinguishes, it privileges only that which is reflected in its field by an effect of Lust, as return to homeostasis.


But that which does not favor homeostasis and is maintained at all costs as Unlust bites still more into its field. Thus, what is of the order of Unlust is inscribed in the ego as non-ego, negation, splitting-off of the ego. The non-ego is not to be confused with what surrounds it, the vastness of the real. Non-ego is distinguished as a foreign body, fremde Objekt. It is there, situated in the lunula constituted by the two small Euler-type circles.


Look at the blackboard. In the register of pleasure, then, we can make for ourselves an objectifiable foundation, just as the scientist is foreign to the object whose functioning he observes. But we are not simply that, and even if we were, we would also have to be the subject who thinks. And in so far as we are the subject who thinks, we are implicated in a quite different way, in as much as we depend on the field of the Other, which was there long before we came into the world, and whose circulating structures determine us as subjects.


It is a question, then, of knowing in what field the different things with which we deal in the field of analysis occur. Some occur at the level of the first field, of the Ich, and others—which should be distinguished from the first, because if one confuses them, one is lost—in the other field, the field of the Other. I have already shown you the essential articulations of this other field in the two functions that I have defined and articulated as alienation and separation.


The rest of my discourse today presupposes that you have thought about these two functions since I introduced them to you—in other words, that you have tried to make them function at different levels, to put them to the test.


I have already tried to embody certain consequences of the very particular vel that constitutes alienation—the placing in suspense of the subject, its vacillation, the collapse of meaning— in such familiar forms as your money or your or freedom or death, which are reproduced from a being or meaning—terms that I do not propose without some reluctance. I would ask you not to be too hasty in overloading them with meanings, for if you do you will only succeed in sinking them. So I feel that it is incumbent upon me to warn you of this at the outset.


Nevertheless, I am introducing here what my discourse will try to articulate, if possible, next year. It is a question of something that ought to be entitled the subjective positions. For all this preparation, concerning the fundamentals of analysis, should normally serve to show—since nothing can be properly centred except the position of the subject—what the articulation of analysis, on the basis of desire, makes it possible to illustrate about these fundamentals.


Subjective positions, then, of what? If I relied on what is available, I would say —the subjective positions of existence, with all the advantages that this term may possess from being already much in the air. Unfortunately, this term would allow us a rigorous application only at the level of the neurotic — which, indeed, would be no small matter. That is why I will say the subjective positions of being. I am not committing myself in advance to my title, I may find a better one, but, in any case,
that’s what it’s about.




February 9, 2010

The Subject who is supposed to know

Alienation in pleasure

As usual, I must break off a train of thought in order to keep things within certain limits. However, I wish to say something, however briefly, about what I hope to discuss next time. I have illustrated the essential difference on the blackboard, in the form of two schemata.


In his text on the Triebe and the Triebschicksale, the drives and the vicissitudes of the drive, Freud places love at once at the level of the real, at the level of narcissism, at the level of the pleasure principle in its correlation with the reality principle, and deduces from this that the function of ambivalence is absolutely different from what occurs in the Verkehrung, in the circular movement. At the level at which love is in question, we have a schema, which, Freud tells us, is spread over two


First there is an Ich, an Ich defined objectively by the combined functioning of the apparatus of the central nervous system and the condition of homeostasis, to preserve the tensions at the lowest possible level.


We can conceive that what there is outside this, if one can speak of an outside, is merely indifference. And, at this level, since it is a question of tension, indifference simply means non-existence. Freud tells us however that the rule of autoeroticism is not the non-existence of objects, but the functioning of objects solely in relation to pleasure. In the zone of indifference a distinction is made between that which brings Lust and that which brings Unlust, pleasure or displeasure. In any case, did not the ambiguity of the term Lustprinzip become obvious to everyone long ago ?—since some people also write it Unlustprinzip.


The next problem, then, is how this stage is to be represented— how are homeostasis and pleasure to be articulated? For, the fact that something brings pleasure is still too much for the equilibrium. What is the closest and most accurate schema that can be given of this hypothetical Ich, in which is motivated the first construction of an apparatus functioning as a psyche? I propose the following.


You see, indicated by the capital letters ICH, the Ich as apparatus tending to a certain homeostasis— which cannot be the lowest because that would be death and, indeed, this was envisaged by Freud in a second stage. As for Lust, this is not a field strictly speaking, it is always an object, an object of
pleasure, which, as such, is mirrored in the ego. This mirror-image, this bi-univocal correlate of the object, is here the purified Lust-Ich of which Freud speaks, namely, that which, in the Ich, is satisfied with the object qua Lust.


Unlust, on the other hand, is what remains unassimilable, irreducible to the pleasure principle. It is out of this, Freud tells us, that the non-ego will be constituted. It is situated—note well—within the circle of the original ego, it bites into it, without the homeostatic functioning ever managing to reabsorb it. You see here the origin of what we shall find again later in the so-called functioning of the bad object.
You will notice especially that what structures the level of pleasure already gives the beginning of a possible articulation of alienation.


In the external zone, Lust says to itself, more or less—Ah! the Ich is really something I must concern myself with. And as soon as it does concern itself with it, the perfect tranquillity of the Ich disappears. The Lust-Ich stands out and, by the same token, Unlust, the foundation of the non-ego, falls back. This does not imply the disappearance of the apparatus, quite the contrary. You simply see being produced at a primitive level that breaking-off, that splitting-off, which I indicated in the dialectic of the subject with the Other, but here in the opposite direction.


This is expressed in the expression, No good without evil, no good without pain, which preserves in this good and in this evil a character of alternation, of a possible calibration, in which the articulation that I gave earlier of a dyad of signifiers will be reduced, and incorrectly. For, to return things at the level of good and evil, everyone knows that hedonism is unable to explain the mechanism of desire. This is because in passing over to the other register, to the alienating articulation, it is expressed quite differently. I almost blush to repeat here such catchphrases as beyond good and evil, which idiots have been playing around with for so long without knowing exactly what they were doing. Nevertheless, we must articulate what occurs at the level of the alienating articulation thus—no evil without there
resulting some good from it, and when the good is there, there is no good that holds with evil.


That is why, by situating itself purely and simply in the register of pleasure, ethics fails and why, quite legitimately, Kant objects to it that the sovereign good can in no way be conceived as some small good carried to infinity. For there is no possible law to be given of what might be the good in objects.

The sovereign good, if this confusing term must be retained, can be found again only at the level of the law, and in Kant avec Sade’ I showed that this means that, at the level of desire, passivity, narcissism and ambivalence are the characteristics that govern the dialectic of pleasure at the level of the table on
the left. Its term is, strictly speaking, what is called identification.


It is the recognition of the drive that enables us to construct, with the greatest certainty, the functioning that I call the functioning of the division of the subject, or alienation. And how has the drive itself been recognized? It has been recognized in this that, far from the dialectic of what occurs in the subject’s
unconscious being able to be limited to the reference to the field of Lust, to the images of beneficent, favourable objects, we have found a certain type of objects which, in the final resort, can serve no function. These are the objets a—the breasts, the faeces, the gaze, the voice. It is in this new term that resides the point that introduces the dialectic of the subject qua subject of the unconscious.


Next time, I shall continue to develop the theme of the subject of the transference.




February 8, 2010









February 6, 2010


The subject who is supposed to know


Alienation apprehended in the fort-da

I will now re-articulate a number of formulae to be preserved as link points, without which thought will stumble and slip.


Alienation is linked in an essential way to the function of the dyad of signifiers. It is, indeed, essentially different, whether there are two or three of them. If we wish to grasp where the function of the subject resides in this signifying articulation, we must operate with two, because it is only with two that he can be cornered in alienation.


As soon as there are three, the sliding becomes circular. When passed from the second to the third, it comes back to the first—but not from the second. The effect of aphanisis that is produced under one of the two signifiers is linked to the definition—let us say, to use the language of modem mathematics—
of a set of signifiers. It is a set of elements such that, if there exist—as one says in the theory, with a capital E inverted for notation—only two, the phenomenon of alienation is produced, in other words, the signifier is that which represents the subject for the other signifier. Hence there results that, at
the level of the other signifier, the subject fades away.


This is also why I pointed out to you the mistake that occurs in a certain translation of this Vorstellungsrepr&entanz, which is, as I told you, the signifying S2 of the dyad.


I must articulate here what is involved and what, in the text of one of my pupils of whom I have spoken, was sensed, but expressed in a way that misses the point, and which may lead to error, because it specifically omits the fundamental character of the function of the subject. There is constant reference to the relation of the signifier and the signified, which has to do with what I will call the a,b,c, of the question. Of course, it had to happen that one day I would put on the blackboard something that had already been formulated at the roots of the Saussurian development, in order to show my starting point.


But I immediately showed that it was effective and manageable only to include in it the function of the subject at the original stage. It is not a question of reducing the function of the subject to nomination,
namely, to a label stuck on something. This would be to miss the whole essence of language. I must say that this text, which I described last time as providing proof of infatuation, also provides proof of crass ignorance, in letting it be understood that this is what is involved at the level of the Pavlovian experiment.


If there is something that is situated at the level of the experiment of the conditioned reflex, it is certainly not the association of a sign with a thing.


Whether or not Pavlov recognizes this, the characteristic of every experimental condition is strictly to associate a signjfier, in so far as the experiment is instituted with the cut that may be made in the organic organization of a need—which is designated by a manifestation at the level of a cycle of interrupted needs, and which we find here again, at the level of the Pavlovian experiment, as being the cut of desire.


And—rather as one says, that’s why your daughter is dumb —that is why the animal will never learn to speak. At least in this way. Because, obviously, the animal is one step behind. The experiment may cause in him all sorts of disorders, all sorts of disturbances, but, not yet being a speaking creature, he is not called to put in question the desire of the experimenter, who, indeed, if one interrogated him, would be hard put to reply.


Nevertheless, when articulated in this way, this experiment is interesting, indeed is essential, in enabling us to situate our conception of the psycho-somatic effect. I will go so far as to formulate that, when there is no interval between S1 and S2, when the first dyad of signiflers become solidified, holophrased, we have the model for a whole series of cases—even though, in each case, the subject does not occupy the same place.


In as much, for example, as the child, the mentally-deficient child, takes the place, on the blackboard, at the bottom right, of this S, with regard to this something to which the mother reduces him, in being no more than the support of her desire in an obscure term, which is introduced into the education of
the mentally-deficient child by the psychotic dimension. It is precisely what our colleague Maud Mannoni, in a book that has just come out and which I would recommend you to read, tries to indicate to those who, in one way or another, may be entrusted with the task of releasing its hold.’


It is certainly something of the same order that is involved in psychosis. This solidity, this mass seizure of the primitive signifying chain, is what forbids the dialectical opening that is manifested in the phenomenon of belief.


At the basis of paranoia itself, which nevertheless seems to us to be animated by belief, there reigns the phenomenon of
X ◇ S1
0. s, s’, s”, s”,… S (i (a, a’, a”, a”,…))
0. s, s’, s”, s”,… : series of meanings.
i (a, a’, a”, a”,…) : series of identifications.
the Unglauben. This is not the not believing in it, but the absence of one of the terms of belief, of the term in which is designated the division of the subject. If, indeed, there is no belief that is full and entire, it is because there is no belief that does not presuppose in its basis that the ultimate dimension that it has to reveal is strictly correlative with the moment when its meaning is about to fade away.

X ◇ S1
0. s, s’, s”, s”,… S (i (a, a’, a”, a”,…))
0. s, s’, s”, s”,… : 意義系列
i (a, a’, a”, a”,…) : 認同系列

There are all kinds of experiences that bear this out. One of them, concerning one of Casanova’s misadventures, was told me in a very humorous way by Mannoni, who is with us today, and whose commentary on it is most amusing and revealing.


At the end of a practical joke that succeeded to the point of moving the celestial forces and unleashing around him a storm which, in actual fact, terrified him, Casanova—who had been pursuing a cynical adventure with some silly goose of a girl, who was the object of the prank, which gathered round him a whole circle of idiots— Casanova, seeing his practical joke begin to work, become real, was so deeply affected—in a surprisingly comic way for a Casanova who defied earth and heaven at the level of his desire—that he was struck with impotence, as if he had really been stopped at the sight of God’s face.


Take another look at the text I was talking about earlier. In this text, for example, the fort-da is presented as something rather old hat—it is almost as if this individual were apologizing for mentioning once again this fort-da, which everyone had wiped his feet on. It is treated as an example of primal symbolization, while apologizing for mentioning it as if it were something that had now passed into the public domain. Well!


This is just as big a mistake, for it is not from a simple opposition of the fort and the da that it derives the inaugural force that its repetitive essence explains. To say that it is simply a question for the subject of instituting himself in a function of mastery is idiotic. In the two phonemes are embodied the very mechanisms of alienation—which are expressed, paradoxical as it may seem, at the level of the fort.


There can be no fort without da and, one might say, without Dasein. But, contrary to the whole tendency of the phenomenology of Daseinanalyse, there is no Dasein with the fort. That is to say, there is no choice. If the young subject can practice this game of fort-da, it is precisely because he does not practice it at all, for no subject can grasp this radical articulation. He practices it with the help of a small bobbin, that is to say, with the objet a. The function of the exercise with this object refers to an alienation, and not to some supposed mastery, which is difficult to imagine being increased in an endless repetition, whereas the endless repetition that is in question reveals the radical vacillation of the subject.




February 2, 2010







汽車駛進鯉魚潭時,A 用手機跟先行到達的C夫妻聯繫,得知「餐廳是在服務中心的對面。」於是A將汽車開到湖的對岸,繞了一陣子,才發現對岸沒有什麼餐廳,而且環湖道路也不容許汽車通行。於是再用手機聯繫,準備回轉。我於是有感而發:「你們瞧!如此實際的語言溝通,都會產生表達者跟聽話者之間的誤差,文學、哲學、心理學、牽涉到的層面更廣,人與人之間所謂的瞭解,其實正是拉岡所謂的誤識及自我幻見!我們的一生都處於自我幻見,而不自覺!」




February 2, 2010



The trust placed in the analyst
Science itself•
As soon as there is a subject who is supposed to know, there is transference

The aim of my teaching has been and still is the training of analysts. The training of analysts is a subject that is well to the forefront of analytic research. Nevertheless—I have already given you evidence of this—in the analytic literature, its principles are lost sight of.


It is clear, in the experience of all those who have passed through this training, that in the absence of adequate criteria, something that is of the order of ceremony is put in their place and—since for the psycho-analyst there is no beyond, no-substantial beyond, by which to justify his conviction that he is
qualified to exercise his function—the substitution, in this instance, can be interpreted in only one way—as simulation.


Yet what he obtains is of incalculable value—the trust of a subject as such, and the results that this involves by virtue of a certain technique. Now, he does not present himself as a god, he is not God for his patient. So what does this trust signify? Around what does it turn?


For him who places the trust, and who receives its reward, the question can no doubt be ignored. It cannot be for the psycho-analyst. The training of the psycho-analyst requires that he should know, in the process through which he guides his patient, what it is around which the movement turns. He must
know, to him must be transmitted, through actual experience, what it is all about. This pivotal point is what I designate—in a way, which, I think, will seem to you sufficiently justified, but which, I hope, as we progress, will appear more and more clear to you, more and more necessary—it is what I designate
under the term the desire of the psycho-analyst.


Last time, I showed you the point of application of the Cartesian approach, which, in its origin and in its end, is directed essentially not towards science, but towards its own certainty. It is at the heart of something that is not science in the sense in which, since Plato and before him, it has been the object of the meditation of philosophers, but Science itself.’


The science in which we are caught up, which forms the context of the action of all of us in the time in which we are living, and which the psycho-analyst himself cannot escape, because it forms part of his conditions too, is Science itself.


It is in relation to this second science, Science itself, that we must situate psycho-analysis. We can do so only by articulating upon the phenomenon of the unconscious the revision that we have made of the foundation of the Cartesian subject. First, today, I shall say something about the phenomenology of the


The transference is a phenomenon in which subject and psycho-analyst are both included. To divide it in terms of transference and counter-transference—however bold, however confident what is said on this theme may be—is never more than a way of avoiding the essence of the matter.


The transference is an essential phenomenon, bound up with desire as the nodal phenomenon of the human being—and it was discovered long before Freud. It was perfectly articulated—I took up a large part of a year devoted to the transference to showing this—with the most extreme rigor, in a text in which the subject of love is discussed, namely, Plato’s Symposium.


It is possible that this text was written for the character of Socrates, who, nevertheless, is depicted in it in a particularly discreet way. The essential, initial moment that is of particular relevance to the question we must ask ourselves about the action of the analyst, is that in which it is said that Socrates never claimed to know anything, except on the subject of Eros, that is to say, desire. By this fact alone, and because, in the Symposium, he goes further than anywhere else in showing us the signification of comedy in his dialogues, carrying it even to the point of farce, Plato could not fail to show us, in the most precise way, the place of the transference.


As soon as the subject who is supposed to know exists somewhere— I have abbreviated it for you today at the top of the blackboard as S.s.S. (sujet suppose savoir) there is transference.

一但應該知道的主體存在於某處,移情就存在。今天我在黑板的上方,用縮寫字母給你們顯示:S s S (主體預設歡樂)。

What does an organization of psycho-analysts mean when it confers certificates of ability, if not that it indicates to whom one may apply to represent this subject who is supposed to know?


Now, it is quite certain, as everyone knows, that no psychoanalyst can claim to represent, in however slight a way, a corpus of absolute knowledge. That is why, in a sense, it can be said that if there is someone to whom one can apply there can be only one such person. This one was Freud, while he was alive.


The fact that Freud, on the subject of the unconscious, was legitimately the subject that one could presume to know, sets aside anything that had to do with the analytic relation, when it was initiated, by his patients, with him.


He was not only the subject who was supposed to know. He did know, and he gave us this knowledge in terms that may be said to be indestructible, in as much as, since they were first communicated, they support an interrogation which, up to the present day, has never been exhausted. No progress has been made, however small, that has not deviated whenever one of the terms around which Freud ordered the ways that he traced, and the paths of the unconscious, has been neglected. This shows us clearly enough what the function of the subject who is supposed to know is all about.


The function, and by the same token, the consequence, the prestige, I would say, of Freud are on the horizon of every position of the analyst. They constitute the drama of the social, communal organization of psycho-analysts.


Who can feel himself fully invested by this subject who is supposed to know? This is not the question. The question is first, for each subject, where he takes his bearings from when applying to the subject who is supposed to know. Whenever this function may be, for the subject, embodied in some individual, whether or not an analyst, the transference, according to the definition I have given you of it, is established. If things reach the point that this is already, on the part of the patient, determined for someone nameable, for a figure accessible to him, there will result from this, for whoever assumes responsibility for him in analysis, a quite special difficulty, concerning the enacting of the transference.


And it can happen that even the most stupid analyst—I don’t know whether this extreme term exists, it is a function that I designate here only in the way one designates that sort of mythical number in logic which is, for example, the greatest number that may be expressed in so many words—even the most stupid analyst realizes it, recognizes it and directs the analysis towards what remains for him the subject who is supposed to know. This is a mere detail, and almost an anecdote. Let us now begin the
examination of what is really at issue.


The analyst, I said, occupies this place in as much as he is the object of the transference. Experience shows us that when the subject enters analysis, he is far from giving the analyst this place.


For the moment let us leave the Cartesian hypothesis that the psycho-analyst is a deceiver. This hypothesis is not to be excluded absolutely from the phenomenological context of certain entries into analysis. But psycho-analysis shows us that what, above all in the initial phase, most limits the confidence of the patient, his abandonment to the analytic rule, is the threat that the psycho-analyst may be deceived by him.


How often in our experience does it happen that we discover only very late some important biographical detail? Suppose, for example, that at a particular moment in his life, the subject contracted a venereal disease. But why didn’t you tell me earlier? one might ask, if one is still naive enough. Because, the analysand may reply, I had told you earlier, you might have regarded it as responsible, in part at least, perhaps even wholly, for my disorders and I am not here for you to find an organic cause for them.


This is an example that is unlimited in its implications, and which may be understood in a number of different ways—from the angle of social prejudice, of scientific discussion, of the confusion that remains around the very principle of analysis. I quote it here only as an illustration of the fact that the patient may think that the analyst may be misled if he gives him certain facts. He holds back certain facts so that the analyst may not go too quickly. I could give you other, better examples of this.
Should not he who may be misled (être trompé) be afortiori under suspicion of being capable, quite simply, of being mistaken (se tromper)?


Now, that certainly is the limit. It is around this being mistaken (Ce SC tromper) that the balance lies of that subtle, infinitesimal point that I wish to mark.


Given that analysis may, on the part of certain subjects, be put in question at its very outset, and suspected of being a lure —how is it that around this being mistaken something stops? Even the psycho-analyst put in question is credited at some point with a certain infallibility, which means that certain intentions, betrayed, perhaps, by some chance gesture, will sometimes be attributed even to the analyst put in question, You did that to test me!


The Socratic discussion introduced the following theme—that the recognition of the conditions for the good in itself would have something irresistible for man. This is the paradox of the teaching, if not of Socrates himself—what do we know about him other than through the Platonic comedy ?—I will not even say Plato’s comedy—for Plato develops in the terrain of the comic dialogue and leaves all the questions open—but of a certain exploitation of Platonism, which may be said to perpetuate itself in general derision. For, as we all know, the most perfect recognition of the conditions of the good will never prevent anyone from dashing into its opposite. So what is it all about, this trust placed in the analyst? How are we to know that he wishes this good, let alone for another?


Let me explain. Who does not know from experience that it is possible not to want to ejaculate? Who does not know from experience, knowing the recoil imposed on everyone, in so far as it involves
terrible promises, by the approach of jouissance as such? Who does not know that one may not wish to think?—the entire universal college of professors is there as evidence.


But what does not wanting to desire mean? The whole of analytic experience—which merely gives form to what is for each individual at the very root of his experience—shows us that not to want to desire and to desire are the same thing.


To desire involves a defensive phase that makes it identical with not wanting to desire. Not wanting to desire is wanting not to desire. This discipline which, in order to find a way out of the impasse of the Socratic interrogation, was practiced by people who were not only specifically philosophers, but,
in their own way, some kind of practitioners of religion—the Stoics and the Epicureans. The subject knows that not to want to desire has in itself something as irrefutable as that Moebius strip that has no underside, that is to say, that in following it, one will come back mathematically to the surface that is supposed to be its other side.


It is at this point of meeting that the analyst is awaited. In so far as the analyst is supposed to know, he is also supposed to set out in search of unconscious desire. This is why I say—I will illustrate it for you next time with a small topological drawing that has already been on the blackboard—that desire is the
axis, the pivot, the handle, the hammer, by which is applied the force-element, the inertia, that lies behind what is formulated at first, in the discourse of the patient, as demand, namely, the transference. The axis, the common point of this two-edged axe, is the desire of the analyst, which I designate here as an essential function. And let no one tell me that I do not name this desire, for it is precisely this point that can be articulated only in the relation of desire to desire.


This relation is internal. Man’s desire is the desire of the Other. Is there not, reproduced here, the element of alienation that I designated for you in the foundation of the subject as such? If it is merely at the level of the desire of the Other that man can recognize his desire, as desire of the Other, is there not something here that must appear to him to be an obstacle to his fading, which is a point at which his desire can never be recognized? This obstacle is never lifted, nor ever to be lifted, for analytic experience shows us that it is in seeing a whole chain come into play at the level of the desire of the Other that the subject’s desire is constituted.


In the relation of desire to desire, something of alienation is preserved, not with the same elements— not with the S1 and S2 of the first dyad of signifiers, from which I deduced the formula of the alienation of the subject in my last but one lecture—but with, on the one hand, what has been constituted on the basis of primal repression, of the fall, of the Unterdruckung, of the binary signifier, and, on the other hand, what appears first as lack in what is signified by the dyad of signifiers,
in the interval that links them, namely, the desire of the Other.