Logic of Phantasy 98 Jacques Lacan

Logic of Phantasy 98
Jacques Lacan
雅克 拉康

Lacan Seminar 14:
The Logic of Fantasy 21

Seminar 21: Wednesday, May 31, 1967

This is not the whole story, once we know that the unconscious is the discourse of the Other. From that moment on, it is clear that everything that brings into play the order of sexuality in the unconscious, only penetrates into it around the putting in question of: is the sexual act possible? Is there this knot, definable as an act, in which the subject grounds himself as sexed, that is, as male or female, being in itself, or, if not, proceeding in this act to something which can – even if only at its term – culminate at the pure essence of male or female? I mean, at the disentangling, at the distribution, in a polar form of what is
male and what is female, precisely in the conjunction that unites them in something – whose term I am not
introducing here, at this hour, nor for the first time – in something that I named as jouissance. I mean introduced a long time ago and, specifically, in my seminar on Ethics.


It is in effect required that this term jouissance should be put forward, and properly so, as distinct from pleasure, as constituting its beyond.


What indicates it to us, in psychoanalytic theory, is a series of converging terms, in the first rank of which is libido, which represents a certain articulation of it. And we must point out – at the end of these talks this year – point out how its use can be so slippery as not to sustain, but make slip away, the essential articulations that we are going to try to introduce today.


Jouissance, namely, this something that has a certain relation to the subject, as this confrontation with the hole left in a certain questionable register of act, that of the sexual act. This subject is suspended by a series of modes or states of dissatisfaction. This is what, just by itself, justifies the introduction of the term jouissance, which, moreover, is what, just by itself, justifies the introduction of the term jouissance, which, moreover, is what at every instant, and specifically in the symptom, is proposed to us as being indistinguishable from this register of satisfaction, since at every moment the problem for us is to know how a knot, which is only sustained by discontent and suffering, is precisely that through which there is manifested the agency of suspended satisfaction, the one, properly speaking, to which the subject keeps in so far as he tends towards this satisfaction.


Here the law of the pleasure principle, namely, of least tension, only indicates the necessity of detours from the path by which the subject is sustained along the path of his search – search for jouissance – but does not give us its end, which is this proper end, an end nevertheless entirely masked for him in its final form, in as much as one can also say that its completion, its completion is so questionable, that one can just as well start from this foundation that there is no sexual act, just as much as the fact that it is only the sexual act which motivates this whole articulation.


This is why I wanted to bring in the reference – which everyone knows I have used for a long time – the reference to Hegel, in as much as this process -this process of the dialectic of different levels of the certainty of oneself, of the Phenomenology of the Spirit, as he said – is suspended on a movement which he calls “dialectical” (and which undoubtedly, in his perspective, can be held to be only dialectical) of a relation that he articulates from the presence of this consciousness, in so far as its truth, its truth escapes it as regards what constitutes the operation of the relation of a self-consciousness to another self-consciousness in the relation of intersubjectivity.


Now it is clear, it has been proved for a long time – if only by the revelation of this social gap, in so far as it does not allows us to assimilate to a confrontation of one consciousness to another consciousness, what is presented as a struggle, specifically, (4) of the master and the slave – it is not even for us to criticise what is left open … what is left open by the Hegelian development. This has been done by others and specifically by one other, by Marx, to name him, and keeps the question of its outcome and of its modes in suspense.


The way in which Freud comes and takes things up at a point that is only analogical to the Hegelian position, is inscribed, is already sufficiently inscribed in this term, in this term of jouissance, in so far as Hegel introduced it.


The starting point, he tells us, is in the fight to the death between the master and the slave. After which there is established the fact that the one who had not been willing to risk, risk the stake of death, falls into a state of dependency with respect to the other, which for all that is not without containing the whole future of the dialectic in question.


The term jouissance comes into it. Jouissance, after the end of this fight to the death, of pure prestige, we are told, is going to be the privilege of the master, and for the slave the path then traced out will be that of work.


Let us look at things more closely and at this jouissance that is at stake. Let us see in Hegel’s text … (that, after all, I cannot produce here and still less with the shortening that we are constrained by today) … what the master enjoys?


The matter is very adequately seen in Hegel. The relation established by the articulation of the work of the slave means that if, perhaps, the master enjoys, it is not at all absolutely. At the limit and to force things a little, which is to our cost as you are going to see, we might say that he enjoys only his leisure. Which means, the disposition of his body.


In fact this is very far from being the case. We will indicate it again later, but let us admit that from everything that he has to enjoy as things, he is separated by the one who is charged to put them at his mercy, namely, the slave, of whom one can then say – and I do not have to defend it, I mean this crucial point, since already in Hegel it is sufficiently indicated – that for the slave there is already a certain jouissance of the thing, in so far as he not only brings it to the master, but he has to transform it in order to make it acceptable to him.



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