Furrows in the alethosphere 3

Furrows in the alethosphere 3

From The Other Side of Psychoanalysis

By Jacques Lacan

This year I have given a large place to the text Hosea, with reference to what Freud extracts from it, according to Sellin. The greatest benefit of it is perhaps not, though it does exist on this level, calling the Oedipus complex into question, which I have called this “ residue of myth,” in psychoanalytic theory. Surely, if there were something necessary here to make present some ocean of mythical knowledge regulating the life of men—and how do we now whether it was harmonious or not? –the best reference could well be what Yahwch condemns, with what I called his ferocious ignorance, with the term” prostitution.”


This is enough of a foothold ( bias), to my mind, and surely a better one than the common reference to the fruits of ethnography. Ethnography conceals all kinds of confusion within itself, through adhering to what it gathers as if it were natural. And how is it gathered? It is gathered in writing, that is to say, detailed, extracted, distorted forever from the supposed terrain on which one is supposedly uncovering it.


This is certainly not to say that mythical knowledge could inform us at greater length, or inform us better, about the essence of the sexual relation.


If psychoanalysis makes sex and, as a dependency, death present for us—even though here nothing is certain, except a general apprehension of a link between sexual difference and death, it’s by demonstrating, in a way that I wouldn’t call lively but merely articulated, that concerning the capture of this being—whatever it may be, which is to say that it is not even a being—in discourse the articulation in which the sexual relation is expressed only ever appears in a complex manner. This complex manner is one that cannot even be said to be mediated, even though there are medii-media, if you prefer—one of which is this real effect that I am calling surplus pleasure, which is the little a.


What does experience indicate to us,, in point of fact? That it is only when this little a is substituted for woman that man desires her. That, inversely, what a woman has to deal with insofar as we are able to speak about this, is this jouissance that is her own and is represented somewhere by a man’s omnipotence, which is precisely where man, when he speaks, when he speaks as master, discover that he is a failure.


This is where one has to start from in analytic experience—what could be called man, that is to say that the male as speaking being, disappears, vanishes through the very effect of the master’s discourse—spell it as you will—through being inscribed solely in castration, which, by this very fact, is properly to be defined as being deprived of woman—woman insofar as she would be realized in a suitably congruent signifier.


Being deprived of woman—this, expressed in terms of the failure of discourse, is what castration means. It is indeed because this is not thinkable that the speaking order institutes this desire, constituted as impossible, as an intermediary and that makes the mother, insofar as she is prohibited, the privileged feminine object.


This is the wrapping established by the fundamental fact that in a mythical union between man and woman there is no possible place that could be defined as sexual.


This is, indeed, where what we grasp in the psychoanalytic discourse—the unifying One, the whole One—is not what is involved in identification. The pivotal identification, the major identification, is the unary trait. It is Being, marked one.


Prior to the promotion of any being, by virtue of a singular one, of what bears the mark from this moment forward, the effect of language arises, as does the first affect. This is what the formulas I wrote on the blackboard are saying.


Somewhere this something that the cogito only marks is isolated, also with the unary trait, that one can suppose the “ I am thinking” has in order to say, “ Therefore, I am.’ Here the effect of division is already marked by an “ I am” which elides the “ I am marked by the one”—for Descartes is, to be sure, inscribed in a scholastic tradition, which he wriggles out of acrobatically, which is not at all to be disdained as a means of escape.


Moreover, it is as a function of this initial position of the “ I am” that the ‘ I am thinking” can be even so much as written. You will recall how I have been writing it for a long time now—“ I am thinking, ‘Therefore I am.’” This ‘ Therefore I am” is a thought.


It supports itself infinitely better by carrying its characteristic of knowledge, which does not go beyond the “ I am marked by the one,” by the singular, by the unique, by what?—by this effect which is, ‘ I am thinking.”


But here again, there is an error in the punctuation, which a long time ago I expressed this—the “ ergo,” which is nothing other than the “ ego” in play, should be put alongside the “ cogito.” The “ I am thinking, therefore, ‘I am’ ” gives the formula its real significance. The cause, the “ ergo,” is thought. The point of departure to take is the effect of what is involved in the simplest order, from which the language effect comes into play at the level of the emergence of the unary trait.


To be sure, the unary trait is never alone. Therefore, the fact that it repeats itself—that it repeats itself in never being the same—is properly speaking the order itself, the order in question because language is present and already there, already efficacious.



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