Archive for July, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 17

July 25, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 17

Thus we see, in this more than exemplary example, what the objet a of phantasy represents for Lacan: an “embodiment” of the non-objective object of desire, an “image” of the unimaginable castrated phallus, a “reflection” of the non-existent vacuity of the subject—in short, an impossible image, a sort of ultimate limit of identification, a self-portrait in which the subject will see himself as he cannot see himself, a vision of horror in which his own nullity appears to him. What am I for you? Shit; refuse. Who are you for me? That in which I mutilate you (1977b, 268/241)—which is to say that, in the imaginary, the objet a plays a role exactly analogous to the one played by the phallic signifier in the domain of the symbolic: that of embodying the absence of the subject. In reality, the same logic is at work in both realms, with just a slight difference of register. Just as the symbolic phallus was the object of the desire of the Other with which the subject must “not identify,” so at present the objet a of phantasy is the lost object of the Other with which the subject identifies, without being able to identify himself in it. Just as the phallus was the signifier of the enigma of what I am (not) for the desire of the Other, so at present the objet a is its image.


Does this mean that Lacan, late in life, finally reworked the rigid opposition between the symbolic and the imaginary, recognizing in the latter the capacity to “reveal” the truth of the subject in its abyssal non-being? In a sense, yes, since Lacan reached the point of making the objet a the ultimate identification of the subject, beyond which there is simply nothing: a pure identification with the unidentifiable, a pure Being- there of an enigmatic void. And yet this profound reworking did not challenge the aim that had been supporting the distinction between the symbolic and the imaginary: the ever more stubbornly renewed aim of a total disidentification of the subject, tending toward the apocalyptic revelation of his nothingness. From this point of view, the objective of analysis did not change, for it was always a question, as far as Lacan was concerned, of bringing the subject to this point of disappearance, where it is revealed to him that he is nothing—nothing of what is, nothing but the pure desire of the pure desire of the Other. But how to reach this infinitely vanished point, if not by dropping the final screen: the objet a}

这难道是意味著,拉康在他晚年时,最后重新建构象征界与想像界的对立,从想像界体认出这个能力:「启蒙主体的真理,在它的深渊般的非-存在里」?是的,从某个意义言,拉康到达这个时刻:让小客体成为主体的最后的认同。超越这个主体的最后认同之外,仅是空无:这是一种对于无法被认同的东西的纯粹认同,在那里,是谜图的空无的一种纯粹的生命实存。可是,这个深刻的重新建构,并没有挑战这个目标,一直在支撑象征界与想像界之前的差别的目标。主体的完全无法认同的这个目标,越来越固执地被更新,倾向于朝向末日的启示,对于他的空无。从这个观点,精神分析的目标并没有改变,因为就拉康而言,将主体带到消失的那个时刻,总是一个问题。在消失时,主体受到启示:他是空无。生命实存的空无,仅是大他者的纯粹欲望的纯粹欲望。但是,如何到达这个无限的消失的时刻,难道不就是凭借将最后的帘幕垂下: 这个小客体。

Thus was Lacan’s incessantly separative project pursued, this time operating on the objet a itself. The analyst, Lacan finally acknowledged, cannot be content with being a pure symbolic Other, a silent answering machine perpetually returning to the patient the question of his desire: “It is not enough that the analyst should support the function of Tiresias. He must also, as Apollinaire tells us, have breasts” (1977b, 270/243)—which should be understood as meaning that he must, in the transference, embody the objet a of the phantasy. But this is only so that he can break this last identification, in which the subject fascinates himself—hypnotizes himself, Lacan says significantly (1977b, 273/245)—in and as the object that fulfills the desire of the Other. How does the analyst go about this? By separating the objet a from the identification, by literally making it jump, fall, drop from the self-image. So the subject has hypnotized himself in that mysterious “crystal-stopper,” the analyst’s gaze? Well, then, the analyst will throw away (lose) that stopper, to finally reveal the void that the mouth of the bottle had so lovingly embraced:


As everyone knows, it was by distinguishing itself from hypnosis that analysis became established. For the fundamental mainspring of the analytic operation is the maintenance of the distance between the I [the “idealizing capital I of identification”] and the a, . .. [The analyst] isolates the a, places it at the greatest possible distance from the I that he, the analyst, is called upon by the subject to embody. It is from this idealization that the analyst has to fall in order to be the support of the separating a [1977b, 273/245]-

众所周知,精神分析的建立,是凭借区别它自己,跟催眠的不同。精神分析运作的基本动力,就是维持这个距离,在这个「我」(将认同的大写字母 I「我「理想化),与这个小客体之间的距离。精神分析家孤立这个小客体,将它放置在跟这个「我」,保持尽可能大的距离,他,精神分析家被主体召唤来具体表现的「我」。精神分析家必须从这个理想化掉落,为了能够成为这个分开的小客体的支持(1977b,273/245)。

We thought we understood that the objet a was the ultimate identificatory object, what we identify with on the verge (au bord) of no longer being anything, in order to sustain ourselves awhile longer in our desire. But we were wrong. We still had to learn not to be that object, to tear ourselves away from it, to lose it definitively. We were nothing but a hole in the image; and now, our eyes gouged out, we must plunge into that hole.


Better never to have been born, for how can we ever separate from ourselves to the point of becoming, not even the lost object of the Other but, his lost object—not even his blank, impenetrable eyes, but the empty, bleeding sockets of his desire to see where there is no longer anything to see? How, we ask, can we survive this experience, which even Oedipus himself could not bear? “How can a subject who has traversed the radical phantasy live the drive?” (1977b, 273/246; my emphasis; translation modified). Let us listen one last time to Lacan’s response, oracular words, words of truth: “This crossing of the plane of identification is possible. Anyone who has lived through the analytic experience with me to the end of the training analysis knows that what I am saying is true” (1977b, 273/246).


Actaeon, chasing the Goddess, found her at last. His dogs devoured him eagerly. “Some say that his specter long haunted the countryside; he would stone those who ventured out into the night, and who knows what other devilries he caused; since it was impossible to find his remains, the oracles decreed that a statue be erected to him on the hillside, its gaze fixed afar; thus he lies in wait for her still, as if fixed in that vision forever; he who refused the simulacrum had his love of truth immortalized in a simulacrum.”61



捉住欲望尾巴 16

July 25, 2014

捉住欲望尾巴 16

In the gaze, on the contrary, I do not recognize myself. Why not? Because that eye, as Lacan says, returning to Sartre’s expression, “gazes at me” {me regarde57; 1977b, 95-96/89), in both senses of that expression.58 Indeed, that eye is no longer the visible object at which I gaze, it is the eye of another subject who gazes at (who concerns) me. This is a reversal of the perspective in which Sartre, as we know, situates the upsetting encounter with the other (as another “for-itself”) and in which Lacan sees instead the singular (and anxiety-producing) manifestation of the desire of the Other.


If the gaze “gazes at me,” it is also in the sense in which it “concerns me” as a subject. In it, as Sartre insists, I certainly become the object of the gaze of the other, as soon as he poses me as the “in-itself” that he himself is not: under the nihilating gaze of the other, Sartre asserts, I suddenly become a transcendent ego, I freeze myself in the identity of “voyeur” that I henceforth am for him, in the most total shame.59 But, Lacan adds, this is only the better to become the non-object, the “lost” and annihilated object of the desire of the Other.


Indeed, the Other gazes at (concerns) me beyond the visible eye (the object) that I am for him, as (according to Lacan) the very example of the “voyeur surprised” chosen by Sartre demonstrates: “Is it not clear that… it is not the nihilating subject, correlative of the world of objectivity, who feels himself surprised, but the subject sustaining himself in a function of desire?” (1977b, 84-85/80; translation modified); “the other surprises him, the subject, as entirely hidden gaze” (1977b, 182/166). What the other looks for in my voyeur’s eye, glued to the keyhole, is in fact my gaze—that is, precisely that “object” in which he cannot see himself: the enigma of what he himself is for my desire, which is the reason for his. In short, he seeks “himself” in it, as a non-object— that is (let us in turn object to Lacan), as a “nihilating subject.”


The result is that I can no more see (identify, recognize) myself in the gaze of the Other than he can see himself in mine: “You never gaze at me from the place from which I see you” (1977b, 103/95). The gaze is an opaque mirror (an “underside of consciousness”; 1977b, 83/79) in which I can identify myself only as the closed, definitively enigmatic, lost “object” of the desire of the Other, and which nevertheless is seen, causing the disappearance that I “am” (as the subject of desire) to appear.


Lacan clearly objects on these grounds to Sartre, who asserts, “The Other’s gaze is the disappearance of the Other’s eyes as objects which manifest the gaze.”60 Lacan replies, “Is this a correct phenomenological analysis? No. . . . The gaze is seen” (1977b, 84/79; translation modified), that “underside of consciousness” is phenomenalized. How? As an incongruous stain (1977b, 74/71) in the painting-mirror of the visible—not, therefore, as an eye in which I see myself see or see myself seen, but as an eye that gazes at (concerns) me all the more in that it does not see me, in that it stains the mirror: the pupils of a blind man, or a beauty mark that comes to disturb the perceptual “good form” (SX, 22 May 1963); the eye of an octopus, or the ocelli of animals (1977b, 73-74/70); brush strokes as they stain the canvas (1977b, 114-115/104-105).


Witness, deploying itself before Holbein’s Ambassadors, “this strange, suspended oblique [phallic] object” that bars the painting (1977b, 88/82). You see it, and yet you see nothing. You see nothing, and yet it gazes at (concerns) you in proportion to your not seeing a thing: “What do you want from me?” You are there, yourself, “in the picture” (in the phantasy), “out of place in the picture” (faisant “tache dans le tableau” \ 1977b, 96/89): the pure enigma that you are for the desire (of the painter? of the ambassadors?) that gazes at (concerns) you by giving you this painting to see (1977b, 101/93).


Then you “begin by walking out of the room in which no doubt it [the painting] has long captivated you. It is then that, turning round as you leave—as the author of the Anamorphoses [Jiirgen Baltru-saitis] describes it—you apprehend in this form . .. what? A skull” (1977b, 88/83; translation modified). It was an anamorphosis, a refined variation of trompe Voeil. Seeing the painting before you, you could not see what you were in it. But now, no longer seeing it, seeing it from the side, you can finally see in it what you are— nothing, a hollow in the visible, an empty vanitas: “Holbein makes visible for us here something that is simply the subject as nihilated— nihilated in the form that is, strictly speaking, the imaged embodiment of the minus-phi [(-<p)] of castration. … It reflects our own nothingness, in the figure of the death's head" (1977b, 88—89, 92/83, 86; my emphasis; translation modified).



捉住欲望的尾巴 15

July 24, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 15

In other words, the corporeal gaps “mirror” the unimaginable cut of castration, and it is from these “erogenous zones” that the drive goes out to “drive round” (1977b, 168, 177-179/153, 161-163)” the lost objet a—that is, the hole: a rim conjunct with another rim, a disjunctive conjunction that is therefore “figured” in the Lacanian algorithm by the lozenge of fantasy that a-joins #, the castrated subject of the symbolic, and a> the real lost object (1977b, 209/190). Let us imagine this lozenge as a kiss embracing absence, like a mouth-to-mouth conjoining of two wounds: a rapport of non-rapport, a sexual (non-)rapport ([non-] rapport sexuel). As Lacan says, “Two lacks overlap here” (1977b, 204/186): in the lost organ, the subject will represent his very own loss, the “fundamentally lost object” that he is for the desire of the Other.


More precisely, in the lost organ he will make himself what he is not, by identifying himself with what the Other lacks and desiring himself in it as what the Other lacks. Fantasy, insofar as the subject identifies himself in it with the lost object of the Other (breast, feces, phallus, gaze, voice), puts the disappearance of the subject, his eclipse of/ from the scene, on stage (SX, 8 May 1963). The subject, always in the scene of the fantasy, is at the same time always excluded, elided, divided (beaten, sectioned, defecated, and so on) “in his relation to the object, which usually does not show its true face” (1977b, 185/168).


Therefore, according to Lacan, fantasy functions less as an image or painting of the subject than as a frame (SX, 12 June 1963): a window, a bull’s-eye surrounding the objet a, a slit cutting the rim of his enigmatic appearance/disappearance, a keyhole serving as a prop to the fading of the subject in the scene where he sees himself. In a word, the objet a of the fantasy causes to appear/ disappear in(to) the imaginary the subject’s unimaginable appearance/disappearance into the signifier, the fading of the object that he is not for the desire of the Other: “The objet a … serves as a symbol of the lack, that is to say, of the phallus (1977b, 103/95)— that is to say, of the subject. The objet a of phantasy portrays the subject on the verge (au bord; literally, “on the rim”) of disappearing, suspended (and thus “propping up”his desire) on the verge of castration: “the enclosure of the teeth” nibbling the nipple, lips encircling the glans, the anal sphincter severing the fecal or penile column, the eye glued to the keyhole, an anorexic mouth closed on nothing. Let us imagine this (1977b, 178/163):


Lacan illustrates this structure of drive and fantasy in many (often obscure) ways, but the example to which he most often returns is that of the scopic objet a: the gaze, by which the subject wishes to be seen. This is obviously no accident. The phantasy (Lacan, at least, does not doubt this) is indeed essentially spatial and visual (SX, 12 June 1963), and vision is in turn the true domain of the imaginary. In space, as Lacan emphasizes, nothing is ever separated, and this is why the body always appears in it as total, as a “good form,” one and identical (SX, 22 May 1963). Under these conditions, we can see that the scopic phantasy is the phantasy par excellence, under the aspect of the “stopgap” (bouche-trou), of the filling in of loss and castration: “The scopic drive . . . most completely eludes . . . castration” (1977b, 78/74). How, then, does the subject appear there in his disappearance, as the lost object of the desire of the Other?

拉康用很多方式(往往是模糊的方式),说明冲动与幻见到结构,但是他经常回转的一个例子,是视觉小客体的例子:主体希望凭借 凝视被看见。这显然并非意味。幻见基本上确实是空间与视觉(拉康至少不怀疑这点),(1963,7,12,SV)。反过来,视觉上想像界的真实的领域。拉康强调,在空间,没有一样东西永远被分开。这就是为什么身体总是在空间里,作为整体性,作为一个「美好的形态」,一个认同的形态(1063,5,22,SX)。在这些情况下,我们能够看见,视觉的幻见是最佳的幻见,在失落与阉割的填补的「阻塞」的这个层面:「视觉的冲动、、、非常完整地逃避、、、阉割」(1077b,78/74)。因此,主体如何以消失的姿态出现那里,作为大他者的欲望的失落的客体呢?

As a gaze—a gaze, not an eye. Lacan strongly insists on this point, taking up a distinction already made by Sartre:53 the gaze, as the gaze of the Other (of “autrui” as Sartre prefers to say),54 cannot be seen as the eye, the organ of vision. More precisely, it cannot “see itself”55: “What one looks at [the gaze of the Other, who “gazes at you”] cannot be seen [cannot see itself]” (1977b, 182/166). There is a “split” between eye and gaze (1977b, 73/70). Indeed, the eye is always an eye-object in that I see the eyes of another person or see my own eyes in a mirror. I cannot ever see myself from the place where I gaze (1977b, 144/132), since I could do so only on condition of seeing myself “before” myself. In this sense, the eye actually is a separated organ—namely, my own lost, objectivized gaze. And yet it is also the object in which, by virtue of the very structure of vision, I appear fully to find myself: the specular illusion of Valery’s “I saw myself seeing myself,” which Lacan rigorously equates with the illusion of the cogito (understood as self-consciousness; 1977b, 80-81/76-77) and, more generally, with the primacy of vision in the philosophic tradition (1977a, 71/68).5′ The eye is the imaginary object par excellence, the objet “petit autre” in which I separate myself from myself the better to recognize myself.



捉住欲望的尾巴 14

July 23, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 14

Now, it is quite obviously this ambiguity, this drifting between imaginary continuity and real separation, that primarily interests Lacan. On the one hand, in fact, these “parts” or “organs” are eminently suitable for representing the subject himself, insofar as they arise from an autopartition. Hence Lacan makes them objectiviza-tions of the subject, “small other” objects in which the subject images, embodies, and identifies himself. On the other hand, these objects are really lost (the objet a, says Lacan, is “what represents the S[ubject] in his irreducible reality”; SX, 6 March 1963); their loss is not only irrecuperable but also constitutive of the subject as such (here, Lacan cites the maternal breast, or the placenta, which “certainly represents that part of himself that the individual loses at birth”; 1977b, 198/180).


The subject is therefore not at liberty to identify with it, since he can engender himself (se parere) as an individual totality only on condition of separating himself from it (separare): “It is from his partition that the subject proceeds to his parturition” (1966, 843)—with the result that the objet a, a part without a whole, does not enter into the specular image (1977a, 316/818), since, on the contrary, it is from its “cut” that the total image of the body is engendered. The subject can see “himself” in it only as a heterogeneous, odd part or, again, as a hole of which he himself is the rim (a structure that, as we know, Lacan illustrated with a great many paradoxical topological figures, such as the Moebius strip and the Klein bottle). Hence “the phallus, that is, the image of the penis, is negativated {negative) in its place in the specular image … as a part lacking in the desired image” (1977a, 319-320/822; translation modified): (—

Lacan tells us, is analogous to the loss (the disappearance) of himself that the subject submits to by virtue of the signifier, and that is why it holds such importance in the strictly libidinal economy of the drives. The lost organ, a part of the real body, non-sexual in itself, comes to portray that “hole in the real,” the subject of the signifier, the subject of desire:


I have been able to articulate the unconscious for you as being situated in the gaps that the distribution of the signifying investments sets up in the subject, and which figure in the algorithm in the form of a lozenge [0], which I place at the center of any relation of the unconscious between reality and the subject. Well! It is insofar as something in the apparatus of the body is structured in the same way, it is because of the topological unity of the gaps in play, that the drive assumes its role in the functioning of the unconscious [1977b, 181/165; my emphasis].



捉住欲望的尾巴 13

July 22, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 13

Moreover, Lacan asserts this quite clearly in his seminar on anxiety: the objet a “is what resists that assimilation to the function of signifier,… what, in the sphere of the signifier,.. . always presents itself as lost…. Now, it is just this scrap (dechet), this off-cut (chute), this thing that resists ‘significantization,’ that comes to find itself constituting, as such, the foundation of the desiring subject” (SX, 13 March 1963). In short, the objet a is the object of phantasy—namely, that stopgap object (objet bouche-trou; 1977b, 269-270/242) that the subject “substitutes for the 0” (1977a, 320/823) by identifying with what the Other lacks (with the “lost object,” as Freud said—to which Lacan adds, “[The] a, the object of identification … is what one no longer has” [ce qu’on n’a plus]; SX, 23 January 1963).


In this fascinating and opaque object, the subject becomes the turd, the breast, or the “phallus (imaginary object)” (1977a, 315/817) lost by the other by virtue of the signifier— that is, the “object that cannot be swallowed . . . which remains stuck in the gullet of the signifier” (1977b, 270/243) because no signifier can (or should, in the case of the phallus) signify it definitively: “indices of an absolute signification,” Lacan writes (1977a, 314/816). In phantasy, in other words, the subject imagines himself as the object that could fulfill the desire of the Other, as that infinitely precious and absolutely unique object that would finally respond to the enigma of desire: “Che vuoiV* “What do you want from me?” “Who am I for you?”


And yet we must be very exacting here, for to read the foregoing may give the impression that the objet a is really a new rehashing of the imaginary object—namely, the very one that the “object” (or, what amounts to the same thing, the subject) of desire cannot be in any case. And indeed, in the evolution of Lacan’s thought, the symbol a actually does refer to the imaginary “small other” (“petit autre”) regularly denounced by Lacan as the cause of the meconnaissance of desire (cf. the “schema L” of the 1950’$).

可是,我们在此必须要求精确,因为阅读以上的东西,可能产生这个印象:小客体确实是想像的客体的重温—换句话说,无论如何,欲望的「客体」无法成为的这个客体,或相当等于是欲望的主体无法成为的客体。的确,在拉康思想的进程,a 这个符号实际上提到想像界的「小它者」。拉康经常抨击它,作为是欲望的错误认识的原因(1950年代的「L基模」)。

Therefore, it is all the more urgent to emphasize that the objet a> although actually remaining imaginary in Lacan, is not altogether imaginary. More precisely, let us say that it is only partially imaginary, in its capacity as “part-object,” unintegrable into the total image of the body; and, as such, it “cannot be grasped in the mirror” (1977a, 315-316/817-818). Far from being merely the imaginary object that “fills the gap constituted by the inaugural division of the subject” (1977b, 270/243), the objet a is just as much what manifests that gap at the very moment when it seals it. It is, Lacan says, the “presence of a hollow” (1977b, 180/164); and this does not mean that, as signifier, it represents the absent subject to another signifier, but rather that it embodies and ultimately images the division of the subject, the break in the image, the cut of castration: Oedipus’s bloody eyes rolling on the ground, the severed breasts of Saint Agatha of Zurbaran, phallic vanitas floating before Holbein’s Ambassadors.


The objet <z, by Lacan's habitual definition, is a "morsel of the body" (SX, 30 January 1963), a detachable/detached "pound of flesh": "The objet a is something from which the subject, in order to constitute itself, has separated itself off as organ" (1977a,

Desire Caught by the Tail 231 103/95). Let us understand this first in the most literal sense: the living being, as Lacan recalls, never stops separating himself from "parts" of himself (placenta, feces, urine, sperm, and so on). But he also separates himself from the breast "superimposed" on the body of the mother that he himself is (1977b, 195/178), from the erectile organ at the moment of detumescence following orgasm (SX, 15 May 1963), from the eye (which sees without seeing itself; SX, 15 May 1963), and even from the voice (which can hear itself only on condition of being externally emitted; SX, zz May 1963).


As we can see, these "separations" are extremely diverse, but they have in common that they are separations from oneself, "internal" separations (SX, 15 May 1963). In them, the body sacrifices parts of itself, so to speak, by "cutting" itself along "a margin or border—lips, 'the enclosure of the teeth,' the rim of the anus, the tip of the penis, the vagina, the slit formed by the eyelids, even the horn-shaped aperture of the ear" (1977a, 314—315/817). Hence the ambiguity of the "parts" thus separated from the body, since in relation to it they are both the same and other, both similar and dissimilar.



捉住欲望的尾巴 13

July 21, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 13

The Crystal Stopper

A few more words on the theory of the “objet a”49—indeed, the exposition of Lacanian doctrine would be incomplete if we did not mention, at least briefly, that ultimate avatar of the “object” of desire. Not that the theory of the objet a actually modifies the doctrine of castration; as we shall see, it really only furnishes that doctrine with a clothing, in the sense in which Lacan says, for example, “It is only the clothing of the self-image that comes to envelop the object cause of desire, which most often supports… the objectal relation. The affinity of a with its envelope is one of the major articulations to have been advanced by psychoanalysis” (1975c, 85). But the fact that Lacan felt the need thus to “clothe” the hole of castration is not in itself a matter for indifference. In reality, this imaginary clothing corresponds, in Lacan, to a question that is difficult to avoid, one that the doctrine of castration left entirely open—gaping, we could even say: the question, once again, of the “object” of desire.


The phallus, as we have already confirmed, is precisely no object, no self-image, since it is, properly speaking, the negation of object and self-image under the condition of “the Law.” But the problem is that desire nevertheless must have an object; otherwise, it would desire nothing at all. As Alain Juranville quite justly notes, “There must, all the same, be some object.


Not the object of desire, since its failing is radical. But an object that is tied to desire, let us say, an object ‘for desire.'”50 Human desire, being a finite desire (1977b, 31/32)—a finite transcendence—necessarily embodies itself, appears to itself in an ob-ject, if only to negate it immediately. This, again, is Actaeon’s problem: Actaeon would not desire the Goddess if she did not take on body in his gaze, if she did not throw him the infinitely deceptive simulacrum of her buttocks and her breasts, in which she herself sees and desires herself. In other words, the phantasy (the simulacrum, the image) is necessary to the perpetuation of desire, even from Lacan’s point of view (we could say, from the point of view, period). Indeed, the subject must identify in some way with the object of the desire of the Other in order to desire himself in it, failing which he would be nothing but a pure desire of the pure desire of the Other-that is, nothing: an absolute void in “the purity of Non-Being.”


In a certain way, it was this very difficulty that the doctrine of castration was initially supposed to resolve, since the phallus was precisely that object of the desire of the Other with which the subject must simultaneously identify and not identify. But it is also this same doctrine that Lacan, in the early 1960’s, felt the need to complete with his theory of the objet a> as if he were not totally satisfied with it.


Why? Essentially, it seems, because the phallus had been so well defined as a signifier that it no longer allowed the slightest identification on the subject’s part: a much too “iconoclastic” theory, as Klossowski would have said, and which must therefore necessarily find its limit, or even its punishment. In fact, as Lacan often explains, the phallus, 4>, “signifier of signifier,” is never anything but the “signifier of a lack in the Other” (1977a, 316/818), in the sense of its being the signifier of the lack of every signifier that could signify to me what the Other desires and, by the same token, what I am for him. To the question “What does he want?”—which is, identically, a “What does he want from me?” (1977a, 312/815), understood as a “How does he want me?” (SX, 14 November 1962)—there is no response from the Other except perhaps a signifier that represents me in my absence for another signifier, and so forth. Nothing, in other words, permits me to identify myself in the signifiers furnished by the Other, and that is what the phallus signifies. It is the S(0), the signifier of the barred Other that, in return, signifies to me my own ek-sistence as barred subject, divided and separated from myself: #(0), vanished subject, in aphanisi$y perpetually “fading” (1977b, 207-208/189) in the signifiers that manifest me as what I am not.

为什么?似乎,基本上因为阳具曾经如此清楚被定义,作为一个能指,以致于它不再容许对于主体的部分,有丝毫的认同:一个过于「毁灭偶像」的理论,如同克罗索斯基本来会这样说,这个理论必然会发现它的极限,或甚至它的惩罚。事实上,如同拉康经常解释的,阳具φ,「能指的能指」,它仅仅就是「大他者的欠缺的能指」。(1977a,316,818)。这意味着,它是每个能指的欠缺的能指,能够跟我意指著大他者欲望的东西的每个能指。同样地,能够跟我意指著对他而言,我的生命本质的能指。对于「他想要什么」的这个问题,等同于是「他从我这里想要什么?」(1977a,312/815), 它被理解作为「他如何想要我?」(1962,11,14,SX)。从大他者并没有回应,除了或许是一个代表我的能指,对于另外一个能指,等等。换句话说,没有一样东西让我能够认同我自己,在由大他者供应的能指里。这就是,阳具意指的东西。就是这个S(φ),被划杠的大他者的能指,轮过来,跟我意指著我自己的「生命实存」,作为一个跟我被划杠,被分裂,被分开的主体:S(0),这个消失的主体,在主体消失里,永远地「隐退」(1977b,207-208/189),在那些展示我,作为我并不存在的能指里。

It is easy to see how Lacan, under these conditions, would have felt the need to lend a bit of “stuff” (1977a, 314, 315/816, 818) to that ungraspable subject of the signifier and, by the same token, a bit of body and objectivity to his desire. In the end, do human beings copulate with signifiers? Do they seek only symbols of their desire (and that of the other) in their partners? As Lacan ends up conceding, rather brusquely, desire, “in the final analysis, always remains the desire of the body, desire of the body of the other and nothing but desire of his body” (SX, 8 May 1963). Besides, how can we explain the singular fixity of the phantasy, which securely fastens the subject’s desire onto this particular object, this particular imaginary scenario in which he plays, for example, the part of an object that is beaten, sucked, defecated, gazed at by the other? Isn’t this a sort of ultimate identification of the subject, irreducible to the perpetual vicariance of signifiers? “This subject… is no more than such an object. Ask the writer about the anxiety that he experiences when faced by the blank sheet of paper, and he will tell you who is the turd of his phantasy” (1977a, 315/818).



捉住欲望的尾巴 12

July 21, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 12

If we now ask how this symbolic identification is a non-identification, how this phallus-signifier is so different from the imaginary phallus that it metaphorizes (for, after all, according to Lacan’s own admission, the boy must identify himself with it in order “not to be it”), the only answer we get is Zazie’s:47 because “zatzeewayitiz” (cekotnqa), because the symbolic phallus must not be the imaginary phallus that it nevertheless really is, and such is the fundamental Law of the Oedipus, enjoining Man (homo, but especially vir) “»o*-to-identify with,” “nof-to-be,” the phallus. Lacan, unlike Freud, never questions the origin or the genesis of that universal prohibition of identification, for he knows only too well that it would then be necessary for him to seek the “solution” on the side of that same identification (the identification with the father and/or phallus with whom one must not identify, and so on).


The result is that the difference between these two types of identification is purely and simply postulated as “the Law,” without our even being allowed to ask why the phallus of symbolic identification is not the phallus of imaginary identification, or why that symbolic identification is not an identification. That question is literally forbidden, for what would become of us if we doubted the Law and the Word of the Father? Psychosis, neurosis, and perversion would await us at every turn. Thus the whole Lacanian system encloses and barricades itself in the a priori of the “no,” interpreted as the universal Law of humanity: “Do not identify”; “Do not be what you are”; “Desire yourself beyond every object”; “Be nothing.”


Obviously, Lacan’s whole complex reformulation of the Oedipus complex ultimately rests on the rigid “dualist ontology” of Kojeve: man is what he is (a desiring subject, an ek-static transcendence) only by not being what he is (a transcendent object, a given identity). If the phallus, in Lacan, is posed as the universal “object” of desire, this is because it eminently embodies the identical-and-objective-being of the imaginary ego—that is, what the human subject, if he wishes to live up to his vocation, must perpetually negate, overcome, transcend, and desire. In it, the subject desires himself as the object he is not, as the non-object he has to be. As for the recourse to the Levi-Straussian theory of the “elementary structures of kinship,” in sum, it only dresses up that profound ontological appeal by furnishing it with a sort of “scientific” guarantee.


If the symbolic father enjoins the mother “not to reintegrate her product” (much more than he forbids the child to possess the mother, as in Freud), this is first of all because it is necessary for the child not to identify with the object-phallus that he is, so as to desire himself beyond himself. In this sense, the Law is an ontological law (or a “mis-ontological” one, since it is a matter of negative ontology): it does not forbid one’s having an object of pleasure or enjoyment (jouissance), it forbids one’s being that object.


In short, it forbids identification in all its forms, by prescribing that the subject conform to nothing: “Act in conformity with your desire” (1986, 362,). It is not a question here of a description of the Oedipus, but rather of a prescription that constitutes the stakes of what Lacan calls the “ethics of psychoanalysis”: “Desire!” “Do not give in to your desire!” (1986, 368). As far as the reality of the modern Oedipus (the Freudian Oedipus) is concerned, Lacan was the first to know that it hardly conforms to that sort of symbolic initiation to desire. On the contrary, the crisis of the symbolic is spread all over: the “deficiency” of the paternal function, the “foreclosure” of the Name-of-the-Father, the perpetual calling into question of the “Law” and the symbolic “pact,” the confusion of lineages and the generalized competition of the generations, the battle of the sexes, the loss of familial landmarks. In other words, the crisis of symbolic identification is everywhere, and it becomes impossible to separate it, as Lacan would have liked to do, from so-called imaginary identification.


Thus, the call to a “symbolic Law,” so obviously obsolete, must be understood in Lacan as a sort of analytic myth intended to serve as a prop for an onto-ethics of human desire. The Lacanian Oedipus is not the Oedipus as it is; it is the Oedipus as it must be. It is the anti-mimetic Oedipus, the identificatory anti-model to which the analyst, through his silence, enjoins the analy-sand to conform: “Identify with my desire”; “(Do not) be like me”; “Imitate the inimitable.” Besides, this is why Lacan’s “model” was not Oedipus Rex, the neurotic Oedipus who “submit[s] to the interdiction” (1986, 354) while simultaneously rivalizing with it, but rather Oedipus at Colonus, the Oedipus who “incur[s] castration” (1986, 854), who voluntarily tears out his eyes and rails, unreconciled, against the curse of existence: “The last speech of Oedipus, as you know, was . . . fir) . . . . firj (pvvai means—rather, not to be. This is the preference on which a human life must end … the triumph of being-toward-death, formulated in the fxr) <pvvat of Oedipus, in which we find the nrj9 the negation identical to the entry of the subject, in the support of the signifier" (1986, 353, 361-362).4*


As for the analysis (or the "pass") that leads the subject to that absolute "disbeing" (1968, 26), "nuptials with destruction, considered as the culmination of his vow" (1986, 357), Lacan may very well assert, while implicitly criticizing Freud, that analysis "is not the rite of the Oedipus" (1977a, 316/818). But this is because he had made it the rite of symbolic castration: the harsh initiation of the "harsh desire of.. . desiring" (1986, 357), the tragic schooling of the tearing away from self and total disidentification, the infinitely painful access to that "place from which a voice is heard clamoring 'the universe is a defect in the purity of Non-Being*" (1977a, 317, 819).



捉住欲望的尾巴 11

July 20, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 11

How, then, can the boy get out of the double bind that simultaneously enjoins him to be and not to be the phallus, to identify and not to identify with the phallic father? We recognize here the problem that Lacan had already stumbled on in his article on the family complexes:45 if the Oedipal father simultaneously says, “Be like me” (a man) and “Do not be like me” (in regard to the mother), how is it possible henceforth to prevent the normative (“secondary”) identification with the father from being confused with the
rivalrous (“primary”) identification with this same father? Therefore, we are not surprised to see Lacan returning to a solution analogous to the one he advocated in that article, in 1938. Just as he proposed then to distinguish between rivalrous identification with the “superegoic” father and normalizing identification with the function of the “ego-ideal,” here he proposes to distinguish between identification with the imaginary phallus and identification with the symbolic phallus—that is, with the same imaginary phallus, insofar as one must not identify oneself with it.

那么,男孩如何挣脱双重者的约束?这个约束同时指令他成为或不成为阳具, 认同或不认同那个父亲?我们在此体认出这个问题,拉康在他探讨家庭情结的文章已经遇到的难题。假如伊狄浦斯的父亲同时说,「要像我这样当个男子汉」,以及「不要像我这样碰触母亲」,因此如何可能阻止这个正常化(次级)的认同父亲,不要混淆,跟敌意的(初级)的认同相同的父亲?因此,我们并不感惊奇,当我们看见拉康回答这个解决,类同于他在1938年那篇文章主张的这个解决。正如他当时建议,为了区别敌意的认同这位「超我」的父亲,并且正常化「自我-理想」的功能的认同。在此,他建议区别跟想像的阳具认同,与跟象征的阳具的认同。换句话说,区别认同于相同的想像的阳具,因为我们一定不要认同于它。

Indeed, this is the third phase of the Oedipus, according to Lacan. The child (or, more precisely, the boy) must realize that the father has the phallus, not inasmuch as he is the phallus of the mother (that is, a “rival object”) but inasmuch as he possesses it legitimately, and that the mother, by the same token, cannot have it in any case: “Inasmuch as he [the father] intervenes as the one who has the phallus, and not as the one who is the phallus, something can happen to reinstate the agency of the phallus as the object desired by the mother” (SV, 22 January 1958; my emphasis). This will happen only if the mother, instead of making the child her little phallic double, returns him to the father as to the one who legally possesses the phallus. In short, it is necessary that she play the game of the symbolic pact/exchange, by referring to the word and the law of the father as to her own law, as to a “given word” that she intends to respect (when this is not the case, we get the whole gamut of neuroses, psychoses, and perversions). The pivotal moment of the Oedipus is not, as in Freud, the threat of castration by the rival-father; it is the castration of the mother insofar as she recognizes it symbolically: “I do not have (the right to have) the phallus, and therefore you cannot be it, unless you yourself become a father, by receiving/giving in your turn the symbolic phallus that you are not.”


What happens then, according to Lacan, is that the child (more precisely, the boy)y instead of identifying with the father who is the imaginary phallus of the mother, identifies with the father who has the phallus symbolically (which the girl, as we have seen, does not need to do): “The identification with the father occurs at this third phase, the phase in which he intervenes as him who ‘has* it. This identification is called the ego-ideal (SV, 22 January 1958). Lacan expresses this once again by saying that the boy “metaphorically” identifies with the father, by identifying with his symbolic phallus (as a “title of virility”) instead of identifying with the imaginary phallus of the mother: he becomes “his own metaphor” (SV, 22 January 1958). The Oedipus is resolved, Lacan assures us, through a “paternal metaphor” that substitutes the signifier of the “Name of the Father” for the signifier of the “Desire of the Mother.” Hence the following formula (1977a, 200/557):


Name-of-the-Father Desire of the Mother
Desire of the Mother Signified to the subject
—» Name-of-the-Father 0/█(phallus@)

It is read in this way: the metaphorical function of the Name-of-the-Father is to put an Other in the place of the phallus.


It can be reformulated, perhaps slightly less “algorithmically,” by saying that the child (the boy) becomes a virile man (at least potentially) by identifying with the phallus with which he must not identify. Lacan, in fact, is speaking of the substitution of one signifier for another, but in reality it is a question (from the point of view of the child himself) of a sort of transmutation of the identification, which mysteriously passes from positive to negative. From this perspective, we are irresistibly drawn back to the mechanism of the Umwendung of identification already cited by Freud to explain the “exit” from the Oedipus complex.


46 The child (the boy) really does continue to be the phallus insofar as he identifies with the one who has it. The only difference is that now he is it “by not being it,” insofar as he identifies not with the object but with the signifier of the desire of the mother—namely, with the object negated by the paternal “no” (SV, 29 January 1958). In short, he is a “no”-object; in other words, a subject: he desires himself beyond himself, such as he is not. At present, the phallus is the signifier of his desire—that is, of the non-object that he is (or, what amounts to the same thing, of the object that he is not) for the desire of the other. Or, again, the phallus is the signifier of the subject, insofar as the subject identifies himself in it (“represents his identity” in it) under erasure, in the mode of a forbidden, barred, repressed identification: the subject is the phallus insofar as he is not it, insofar as he “metaphorizes” himself in it and defers his own identity in it.



捉住欲望的尾巴 10

July 20, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 10

But from all of this (which, as we shall see, is the operation of the “paternal metaphor”), “the child catches only the result” (SV, 22 January 1958)—namely, the “signified.” The x that the mother’s whole conduct signifies to him (since she obviously desires “something”) is what he will wish to be, in order to be what the mother desires. In short, he will fall into the inevitable and disastrous error of confusing the signifier with the signified, the symbolic phallus with the imaginary phallus. Confronted with the alternative to be or not to be the “object” of the desire of the other, he will imagine himself to be just that object (that ego, that phallic double) of the mother that he is not (since he is only its signifier). This is the first stage of the Lacanian Oedipus, its strictly identificatory stage:


What the child seeks is. .. “to be or not to be” [English in the original] the object of the desire of the mother… the point that corresponds with what is ego and what, here, is his other ego, that with which he identifies, the “something other” that he will seek to be. . .. As if in a mirror, the subject identifies with the object of desire of the mother…. To please the mother … it is necessary and sufficient to be the phallus [SV, 22 January 1958].


The child’s first identificatory model, then, is not, as Freud thought, the father of “the early history of the Oedipus complex”42 or even the breast of the oral phase. It is the imaginary phallus, in which the ego freezes himself into an object (and, by the same token, “fixes” himself to the all-powerful mother, of whom he becomes, so to speak, the “first weapon”).


According to Lacan, it is only in a second phase that the Oedipus takes on the form we know in Freud: that of a rivalrous identification with the father. Realizing that the mother does not have the phallus (and that he himself, by the same token, is not it), the child begins by interpreting that castration, which by rights is a symbolic and legal castration, as a real privation: the father is the one who has the phallus, since he violently deprives the mother (and hence also the child) of it. There follows a no less violent rivalry with the depriving father, which Lacan presents as a rivalry for an object (“to have or not to have the phallus”), but which is obviously a purely identificatory rivalry, since it is once more a question of “to be or not to be” the phallus of the mother. As in Freud, Oedipal hostility toward the father is conflated with identification with the father, except that the stakes in this rivalry are not the maternal object that the child would like to have, but rather the phallic “object” that he would like to be, in his capacity as ego. Here, the Oedipal conflict is very clearly (much more clearly than in Freud, anyway) a “struggle for pure prestige.”


The result is that the problem of the Oedipus in Lacan (even more than in Freud) becomes that of the “decline” of the identificatory rivalry for the phallus, especially in the boy. The girl, in reality, does not have the phallus (she “is without having it? says Lacan43), and she is thus much more naturally inclined to leave it to the father who has it, in order to receive it from him as a woman (in coitus) and/or as a mother (in the form of a child): “For her, it is
much simpler: she does not have to make this identification [with the legal father, as we shall see], nor does she need to keep it as a title to virility: she knows where it is, . . . where she must go to get it; it is on the father’s side, [she must go] toward him who has it” (SV, 22 January 1958; my emphasis). In other words, the fact of not having a real penis makes her access to symbolic castration, which enjoins her not to be the imaginary phallus, almost natural. (This solution may actually be found to be a little too “simple,” even from Lacan’s own point of view, for isn’t this a surreptitious resurgence of the reference to the reality of the difference between the sexes, to the reality of the “hole” that the girl hastens to fill through an imaginary identification with the phallus?)


The boy, on the contrary, must actually identify with the father who has the phallus, in order to come to a virile position; and this, as Lacan remarks, is the cause of the weakness, with respect to perversion, of the male sex (1977a, 320/823): the boy must simultaneously identify with the father (so as to have the phallus and to become masculine) and not identify with him (so as not to be his rival, so as not to be the phallus of the mother). As Lacan says once again, he “is not without having” the phallus,44 so that it will be very difficult for him not to confuse the symbolic phallus that he must have without being it, and the imaginary phallus that he is by the fact of having it. Hence it is only too easy for him to remain “fixed” in rivalrous identification with the phallus of the mother, violently refusing its privation by the father: a transvestite identifying with the phallus hidden beneath the clothing of the mother, a homosexual identifying with the mother who has the masculine phallus “at hand,” a fetishist who identifies with the mother insofar as she gives herself the phallus in the form of equivalents (boots, corsets, and so on) (SV, 22 and 29 January 1958).



捉住欲望的尾巴 9

July 19, 2014

捉住欲望的尾巴 9

Oedipus Revisited


It remains for us to understand what predestines the phallus to its promotion to major signifier of human desire. In truth, we can ask why it is the erected form of the phallus that furnishes the signifier with “its first weapons,” as Lacan enigmatically asserts, just as we may ask what authorizes Lacan to conflate so nimbly the predominance of the phallic image with that of a symbol. Who, after all—apart from Lacan—says that “the first signifier is the notch” (1977b, 141/129), the “single stroke” (trait unaire) of the “1,” the “vertical stick” (SIX, 6 December 1961) that resembles the phallus? Why must the signifier be a scepter, a “bar which . . . strikes the signified” (1977a, 288/692) and which “petrifies the subject” (1966, 840), or a whip (SV, 5 February 1958)? Nothing in the theory of the signifier seems to authorize this surreptitious analogism, which, however, is habitual in Lacan. If the signifier is “arbitrary”-diacritical, there is no reason for its form to have the least “attachment,” as Saussure said, to any content whatsoever, even if this content were an ideal and prevalent form of the imaginary body.


Thus we really must understand that the privilege of the imaginary phallus is an entirely negative one. In a word, the signifier in Lacan is all the more phallic in that it must not be phallic. If the imaginary phallus constitutes the symbolized par excellence (if it is what is “borrowed” from the signified by the signifier), it is because it is this very thing that must be annulled/raised—we could almost say extirpated, exterminated, castigated—in the symbol. In fact, the imaginary phallus is what embodies the identity of man, and therefore it is precisely what man, if he is truly human, can only desire, by negating it. The phallus is certainly what man wants to be (an ego of bronze, an object without lack or “hole,” a beautiful totality closed on itself); but it is also, and by the same token, what man wants to be, in the very precise sense of his not being it, of his not being any object “in-itself,” no transcendent ego. Man, as subject, cannot be the phallus except by transcending it and transcending himself in it. And this, in the Lacanian system, is why he must not be the phallus. The law of castration, which enjoins every human to lose the phallus by annulling/raising it to the function of signifier, only expresses that ontological prescription inherited from Kojeve and Sartre: the human being is not what he is and he is what he is not, and therefore he cannot conform to what he is except through nonconformity. In short, he cannot (and must not) identify with himself except through non-identification.

因此,我们确实必须理解,想像的阳具的特权是一个完全是负面的特权。总之,在拉康,能指更加是阳具的能指,因为它一定不要是阳具。假如想像界的阳具组成这个象征化的最佳阳具(假如那是能指从所指那里「借用」过来的东西),那是因为就是这个东西必须被宣告无效/ 被提升—我们几乎要说是被彻底毁灭,被消灭,被严厉谴责—在象征里。事实上,想像界的阳具就是具体代表人的认同,因此,它确实是人仅是凭借否定它,才能够欲望的东西,假如他确实是人的话。阳具确实是人想要成为的东西,(铜像的自我,没有欠缺或空洞的客体,一个自我封闭的美丽的整体性);但是同样地,阳具也是人想要成为的东西,确实的意义就是,他并等于是它,他并不是任何的客体「本身」,并不是超验的自我。人,作为主体,无法是阳具,除了凭借超验它,并且在它里面超验他自己。在拉康的系统,这就是为什么他一定不要就是那个阳具。阉割的法则,指示每个人丧失这个阳具,凭借宣告它无效/提升它到能指的功能。阉割的法则仅是表达,从科耶夫与萨特那里遗传过来的本体论的指令:人并不是他现在的样子,人的生命实存,并不是他现在的样子。因此,人不能够跟他现在的样子保持一致,除了通过非一致性。总之,人无法(也一定不要)认同他自己,除了通过非-认同。

This can be translated as follows: the human being (man or woman) must identify with the phallus, but as a signifier—that is, as that with which he or she cannot and must not identify. “Identify without identifying”; “Be the phallus without being it.” The law of symbolic castration enjoins us to substitute for the imaginary phallus the symbolic phallus—namely, the imaginary phallus negated: “In fact, what must be recognized is the function of the phallus, not as object, but as signifier of desire…. The solution to the problem of castration does not arise from the dilemma to have or not to have it; the subject must first recognize that he is not it.”41


Let us see, then, how this ontological prescription/prohibition is tested in empirical description—that is, in the description of the Oedipus; and to do this, let us return to the point where we left the infant not long ago, when he wanted “to be the phallus” of the mother. Why “to be”? Because human desire, as we know, is fundamentally a desire to be a subject, not a desire to have an object. As a result, the mother, contrary to the official version of the Freudian Oedipus, is not desired in her capacity as object of love (as object chosen according to the “anaclitic” type) but in her capacity as desiring subject. The child demands to be loved—that is, he demands, beyond all the gratifications that reduce him to the status of “object of love,” to be desired as a subject: “The child’s desire asserts itself … in that it is the desire of the desire of the mother” (SV, 22 January 1958). Even more simply, he desires to be.


But the desire of the mother—such is the a priori of the Lacanian Oedipus—”is the phallus.” Why? Because the mother bathes in the symbolic, and because that “third”—the father—forbids her to desire herself in her child by making it her little phallic “double.” “Thou shalt not reintegrate thy product” (SV, 29 January 1958): the father enjoins the mother to desire “something other than” the child—namely, the imaginary phallus that she herself had to give up, in order to receive it in the form of its symbolic equivalent, the child-phallus. Therefore, the child is the phallus of the mother only insofar as he is not it: he is her symbolic phallus—that is, the sig-nifier of her desire, the substitute for the x that she desires (in which she desires herself) “beyond” him.

但是母亲的欲望就是「阳具」–这就是拉康的伊狄浦斯的演绎。为什么?因为母亲沐浴在象征界,因为那个「第三者」–父亲—禁止她在她的小孩欲望她自己,凭借让它成为她的小阳具的「双重者」。「汝不可重新合并汝产品」(1958,1,29,SV):父亲指令母亲欲望除了小孩以为的某件东西—换句话说,欲望她自己必须放弃的想像界的阳具,为了接收它,以它的象征界的相等物的形式,小孩的阳具。因此,小孩就是母亲的阳具,因为因为他并不是阳具。他的她的象征界的阳具。换句话说,她的欲望的能指,她欲望的这个未知的东西x 的替代品(在那里,她欲望她自己)「超越」他。