Archive for the ‘Lacan on Desire’ Category

Desire 84 Jacques Lacan

June 3, 2011

Desire 84

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

28.1.59 149
Seminar 10; Wednesday 28 January 1959

And is this something that we can subscribe to right away? Once again I would simply ask you here to notice that the least that can be said is that there is perhaps some confusion in saying that it is a matter of an omnipotence that is wished for, or more or less secretly assumed by the subject, even though it seems that this subject, if we keep to the first approach of the dream, its manifest content in this case is rather on the contrary to reduce, to minimise. And the analyst herself underlines it on another occasion about the hood. The analyst is in fact so much further on than her own interpretation under the influence of a certain apprehension of that, of this reduced aspect of the subject in his whole presence in this phantasy, that she always says that he saw or perceived that when he was a tiny child.


(23) In fact what do we see? We see rather the subject making himself small. In the presence of this kind of vaguely testicular appendix which at the very most he dares approach with a finger which he should perhaps cap, cover, protect, in any case
distancing from himself and from the proper exercise of his potency, in any case sexual potency, this signifying object, it is perhaps going a little far, and it is always the same confusion, to confuse the omnipotence imputed to the subject as even more or less denied, with what is on the contrary quite clear on this occasion, the omnipotence of the word.


But the fact is that there is a world between the two because it is precisely in contact with the word that the subject is in difficulty. He is a lawyer, he is very talented, he is seized by the most severe phobias every time he has to appear, to speak. We are told at the beginning that his father died when he was three years old, that the subject had the greatest trouble in bringing him to life a little bit in his memories; but what is the only memory which remains absolutely clear for him: there has been transmitted to him in the family that the last word of his father had been: “Robert must take my place” (127) In what sense is the death of the father dreaded? Is it in so far as the father is dead or in so far as the dying father spoke, said, “He must take my place. Namely be where I am, where I am dying?”


The difficulty of the subject with respect to the word, this distance which means that he uses the word precisely to be (24) elsewhere, and that inversely there is nothing harder for him than not just speaking, but making his father speak – that was only recently reached and it was a startling moment for him the analyst tell us to think that his father spoke – it is not something which at least ought to encourage us to accentuate for him more than for someone else this division between the other qua speaking and the other qua imaginary. Because to be honest, is there not a certain prudence required at this level.


The analyst finds a confirmation of the omnipotence of the subject in the immense character of the dream. The immense character of the dream we can only know about it from the subject. It is he who tells us that he has had a tremendous dream, that there was a huge story beforehand, that there was a whole tour around the world, a hundred thousand adventures which would take an enormous time to tell, that he not going to bore the analyst with. But when all is said and done the mountain gives birth to a little story, to a mouse. If there is here also a notion of something which is indicated as a horizon of omnipotence, it is a narrative but a narrative which is not told.


The omnipotence is always on the side of the other, on the side of the world of the word as such. Should we right away see the subject in this case as in terms of what is supposed, and what will immediately be implied in the thinking of the analyst, as
being the structure of the subject, not alone this phantasy as omnipotent, but with the aggressivity that this involves?


(25) It is at this that we should first of all stop to situate precisely what I am in the process of trying to get you to notice, namely the partiality that sometimes appears to occur in the interpretations in the measure that there is ignored a difference of plane which, when it is sufficiently accentuated in the structure itself, must be respected. It is on this condition alone that we know that this difference of plane exists.


What is the question that is posed immediately afterwards, says the analyst : it is “why this phantasy of extreme power?” The answer is given in the dream. He is going around the world. I would put as commensurate with this idea the actual memory that
came to him when he was describing the hood in the dream which was so strange, for it brought out not only the fact that he was describing a projection, a fold of a hood, but that the hood was also overhanging like the lip of a cave. So that we get
directly the hood and lips of the vulva compared with the great cave on the hillside to which he went with his mother. Hence the masturbation phantasy is one associated with immense potency because he is dreaming of compassing mother earth, of being
adequate to the huge cave beneath the protruding lips. That is the second thing of importance” (139)


You see how the analyst’s thinking proceeds on this occasion. (26) Incontestably you cannot avoid sensing a leap here. That there is a relationship because of the association, this is demonstrated, between this memory of the child where he himself
was covered, as they say, and the one that is in question, mainly the signifying value of the phantasy that I would call the prolapse phantasy, this of course is not to be excluded.



Desire 83 Jacques Lacan

May 30, 2011

Desire 83

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

28.1.59 149
Seminar 10; Wednesday 28 January 1959

And what am I saying there if not expressing in a more articulated fashion what our experience is when we are seeking to focus what the desire of the subject is. It is that, something which is a certain position of the subject face to face with a certain object in so far as he puts it in an intermediary position between a pure and simple signification, a thing assumed, clear, transparent for him, and something else which is
not a phantasy at all, which is not a need, which is not a (19) pressure, a rope (filin), but something which is always of the order of the signifier qua signifier, something closed, enigmatic. Between the two there is a thing which appears here in the form of a representation which is tangible, extremely precise, imaged. And the subject, warns us by his very associations: this is what is significant.


What am I going to do now? Am I going to go into the way in which the analyst interprets? I must therefore let you know all the material that we have.


What does this analyst say at that moment as she continues: “What else do you think of … ” She replies to the fact that the subject takes up after having coughed, comes back to the hood.


“I’m still thinking of the hood.” “Yes, how now?”, says the analyst. “A funny man” he says, “at one of the earliest golf courses I remember. He said he could get me a golf bag cheaply and the material would be motor hood cloth’.” At this point he gives an imitation after having said: “It was the accent I remember. Imitating him like that reminds me of a friend who broadcasts impersonations which are very clever,” (“broadcast” is the important word), “but it sounds swank, to tell you as swanky
as telling you what a marvellous wireless set I have. It picks up all stations with no difficulty.” “My friend has a splendid memory,” he says. “She remembers her childhood too, but mine is (20) so bad below eleven years. I do remember, however, one of the earliest songs we heard at the theatre and she imitated the man afterwards.”


It is a typical English music hall song which goes as follows: “Where did you get that hat, where did you get that tile?” The tile designates more particularly what is called
in this case a topper, a top hat. It can also signify simply lid, or galurin.


“My mind,” he continues, “has gone to the hood again and I am remembering the first car I was ever in,” but at that time of course it was not called a car but a motor, because the subject is fairly old.


“Well! The hood of this motor was one of its most obvious features. It was strapped back when not in use. The inside of it was lined with scarlet.” And he continues: “The peak of speed for that car was about sixty,” he speaks about this car as if he were speaking about the life of a car, as if it were human. “I remember I was sick in that car, and that reminds me of the time I had to urinate into a paper bag when I was in a railway train as a child. Still I think of the hood.” (134-135)


We are going to stop here in the associations. They do not go very far yet, but I want all the same to counterpoint what I am bringing you here with the way in which the analyst begins to interpret this. “The first thing of importance” she says, “is to find the cardinal clue to the significance of the dream.” (21) She says quite rightly: “We can do that by noting just the moment when it came to the patient’s mind.” (138) And then she begins to speak about the dog which masturbated against his leg, about the moment when just before he spoke about the dog to say that he himself imitated this dog, then the cough, then the dream from which he awoke perspiring.


“The deduction,” she says, “concerning the significance of the whole dream is that it is a masturbation phantasy.” (138) I am in complete agreement with this.

That is of first importance, we agree with her completely. “The next thing to notice,” she says, “in connection with this masturbation phantasy is the theme of potency.” She does not understand it in the sense of sexual potency, but in the sense of potency in the most universal meaning of the term, as she would say further on, of omnipotence.


“He is travelling round the world. It is the longest dream he has ever had.” (This is what the subject says). “It would take a whole hour to relate. Correlate with that his deprecation of ‘swank’ regarding his friend’s impersonations which are broadcast for the whole world”, the analyst adds, “and his own wireless which picks up every station. Note his own imitation of the man whose accent had attracted him, a strong colloquial accent, and incidentally he said with regard to this man he had once been a butcher’.”


“Impersonation here, whether via friend or himself, has the (22) significance of imitating a stronger or better known person.” Is she wrong here? “This is again a further clue to the meaning of the masturbation phantasy, that is, a phantasy in
which he is impersonating another person, one of immense power and potency.” (139)


Here therefore is what is held by the analyst to be self-evident. Namely that the simple fact of these mimed incarnations intervening more or less in connection with – the masturbation phantasy being supposed to be at the root of what happens – the very fact that the subject excused himself for swanking, for boasting, for pushing himself too much, signifies that we have a phantasy of omnipotence which should be put in the foreground.



Desire 82 Jacques Lacan

May 28, 2011

Desire 82

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

28.1.59 149
Seminar 10; Wednesday 28 January 1959

This is possible, but why hurry one’s self. All the more because she also underlines at this moment that it is difficult to make of this projection something linked to the presence of the vagina. It is sufficiently accentuated in the dream, and by the very manoeuver to which the subject lends himself, I would say substitutes for himself by putting his finger there and not his penis.


How could one not see that very precisely this something is localised as one might say in this phantasy which is in effect, as the subject articulates it, something which has the closest relationship with the front and back walls of the vagina; that in a word for a doctor whose profession it is to practice medicine – which was not the case of Ella Sharpe who was a teacher of literature, and this gave her great openings into
psychology – it is a prolapse, something which happens in the wall of the vagina in which there occurs this projection of the front wall more or less followed by projections of the back wall and which at a still further stage makes the tip of the cervix appear at the genital orifice. It is something extremely frequent which poses all sorts of problems for a surgeon.

我們怎可能看不出,確實地,這個某件東西,我們可以說,在幻見中被找到。這個幻見,事實上,如生命主體所表達的,是某將跟陰戶的前後壁,有最密切的關係。總之,就職業是從事醫學的醫生而言。可是,阿拉 夏普的情況並不是這樣。她是教授文學,這使她有機會探討心理學。這是一種脫出,陰戶的壁牆經常發生的事情。在裏面,前壁的投射,會跟隨著後壁的投射。更深入的階段,會使子宮頸的尖端出現在外陰部的洞口。這是經常發生的事情,對於外科醫生會形成各種問題。

This is not what is in question. Naturally there is here something which brings into play immediately the question and the phantasy of the phallic woman, it is so true that I remembered (16) for your benefit – I was not able to verify the passage (it is a fact that is well enough known for it not to be new for some of you) that Queen Christina of Sweden, the friend of Descartes, who was a tough woman like all the women of that epoch – one could not insist too much on the influence on history of the women of that marvellous half of the eighteenth century. Queen Christina herself one day saw appearing at the orifice of the vulva the tip of a uterus which, without us knowing the reasons for it, happened at that moment of her existence to gape open in a quite characteristic case of uterine collapse (or prolapse).


It was then that giving way to a gross flattery her doctor fell at her feet saying: “It is a miracle, Jupiter has finally rendered to you your true sex”. Which proves that the phantasy of the phallic woman does not date from yesterday even in the history of medicine or of philosophy.


This is not what is in the dream, nor should it be understood – the analyst remarks on it later in the observation – that the subject’s mother for example had a prolapse.


Although why not because in the articulation of her understanding of what is
happening the analyst remarks that the subject very probably saw all sorts of things from underneath, that some of his imaginings make us think that there could have been, that there even must have been, in order that her interpretation should be coherent, something analogous, namely a certain apprehension from underneath
(17) the skirt of the genital organ (and of that of his mother).


But why not go in this direction? But that is not it. We will be much more entitled to do it in this sense than the analyst herself, in so far as in a little while she is going to pass necessarily by way of this supposition. For our part we have not yet got there. I point out simply that once there is question of references to images of the body – they are going to be brought into play in the interpretation – one would not be precise, why would one not distinguish the haunting memory, or the desire, or the fear of returning into the maternal womb, and the relationship very especially with the vagina which after all is not something of which, as can be seen clearly in this simple explanation, the subject could not have some direct or indirect apprehension.


What I simply wish to underline here, after having marked the special accent of this image of the dream, is that in any case something retains us. It is the fact that the subject associates it right away with something of a quite different order, with this poetic or verbal game which I gave you an example of and not simply to amuse myself – it is to give an idea of the extremely rigorous literary style; it is a genre which has the strictest of laws – and it does not matter whether it is a joke or a limerick, bearing on a story defined literally, and itself bearing on a game concerning writing.


Because what we (18) have not found in the limerick that we dug up, is something
that the subject affirms that he has heard: it was in referring to the different direction of lines of writing in our way of writing and the Chinese that he evokes at that moment something which is not all that obvious in this association: namely
precisely something which puts him on the track of a link between the orifice of the genital lips and the lips of the mouth.


Let us take it that this link as such belongs to this symbolic order. What are more symbolic are the lines of Chinese characters, because it is something which is there, which designates to us that in any case this element here in the dream is an element which has a signifying value, that in this sort of adaptation, of assimilation, of accommodation of desire in so far as it constructs itself somewhere in relation to a phantasy which is between the signifier of the other and the signified of the
other – because that is the definition of phantasy – in so far as desire has to accommodate itself to it.



Desire 81 Jacques Lacan

May 26, 2011

Desire 81

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

28.1.59 149
Seminar 10; Wednesday 28 January 1959

These jokes, which in English are a sort of part of the cultural heritage, are well known, they are generally in the form of limericks. The limerick is something which is very important and revealing. I am only mentioning that. I searched in a fairly large collection of some three thousand limericks. This limerick certainly exists, I saw others which were close to it.


I do not even know why the theme of China seems precisely to be considered – there was this sort of inversion of the written line – evoked, every time something comes close to a certain assimilation, and at the same time an opposition between the line (12) of the genital slit and that of the mouth, which is transversal, with also what is supposed to be behind the line of the genital slit in terms of the transversality of the vagina.


This goes to show that all of this is very very ambiguous. The closest thing to it, and something which is amusing because of the fact that one cannot see why especially China should come into this association, is the following, limerick 1381 of a work
on limericks (English quotation):


“There was a young woman from China who thought her mouth was her vagina
She covered her enormous clitoris with rouge And put lipstick on her labia minora” (?) This loses its spice in translation, but it is pretty remarkable that it is in any case something which is extremely close to what we are dealing with, and its author underlines for us that the superpositioning of two images, one which is here an
image of the mouth, the other which is a genital image, is very essential

What am I going to call attention to here? It is in connection with something with regard to which analytic thought slips right away towards imaginary elements, namely the assimilation of the mouth to the vagina, the mother’s womb considered as the
primitive element of engulfing or of devouring – and we have all sorts of different testimonies from ethnology, folklore, psychology which show this primitive relationship, as being that of container to contained, that the child may have with respect to what one can call the maternal image.


(13) Does it not seem to you that at this level something deserves to be retained of which I would say that it has quite the same accent as the point that I stopped you at the other time when it was a question of the big and the small giraffe. It was not simply the element between the small and the big, between the mother and the phallus; these elements were what little Hans made of them; one could sit on them, crumple them up; they were symbols, they were already in phantasy things transformed into


One could say in a fashion that is more nuanced, more interrogative, more subject to confirmation, but let us say to punctuate what we are dealing with that this is not nothing, that it is not invalid to introduce there something concerning this very remarkable represented imaginary element which is in the dream and which was depicted for us as something very precisely described, “the fold on a hood”. This is not nothing.


It is something which already has a certain structure, which covers, which caps, which is also dreaded; and the finger introduced – “to close round” – into this element, this sudden fright is also something which gives us something quite precise as an image, something which should not be lost in a simple general structure of envelopment or of devouring or of swallowing up.


It is already put into a certain relationship, precisely with the subject’s finger. And I would even say that this is the whole question. Does he or does he not put his finger there? It is (14) certain that he puts his finger there and that he does not put anything else, in particular that he does not put there his penis, which is there present; that this relationship with what has enveloped, gloved the hand is something which is here quite prevalent, put forward, pushed forward at the outcome of the representativity as Freud says to designate the third element active in the dream-work (Traumarbeit).


It is a question of knowing what we should make of this. Whether we should immediately resolve it into a series of readymade, preformed significations, namely everything that one is going to be able to put under that heading, ourselves introduce into this kind of conjurer’s hat everything that we are used to finding in it, or whether we should dwell on this, respect it as something which has here a specific value.


You must see, when I say specific value, provided you have a little bit more than book-knowledge about what a phantasy-life like this can be, that after all that it is quite appropriate that we should not lose this in the very general notion for
example of the interior of the mother’s stomach of which there is so much talk in phantasies.


Something which is so well developed in the dream deserves to be dwelt on. What we have here before us, is certainly not the interior of a uterus, it is overhanging, this edge which is projecting. And moreover, because she is extremely subtle, Ella
Sharpe underlines further on, in a passage which we may (15) subsequently have to encounter, that we are before something remarkable. It is a projection, she says, and immediately afterwards in the passage she announces it is equivalent to a penis. (144)



Desire 80 Jacques Lacan

May 25, 2011

Desire 80

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

28.1.59 149
Seminar 10; Wednesday 28 January 1959

(8) At the very moment that my last lecture ended, the subject, the analyst tells us, coughs again, he gives a little cough, as if he were punctuating. (132) After this little cough he tells the dream which I already read.


What I want to tell you is what, starting from this, and in this dream, in connection with this dream, our aim is going to be. I told you that what is manifested in the dream about the relationship of desire to phantasy is manifested with an accentuation which is exactly the opposite of the one which was given in the phantasy which came in the associations.


There what was accentuated was that the subject himself barks. He barks, it is a message, an announcement. He announces himself as essentially other. It is on the plane of a relationship which disguises him in so far as he barks like a dog that he does not understand why he proceeds in this way, that he should put himself in the position either of not being there, or if he is there of announcing himself as an other, and in such a way that the others at that moment, namely what is there to be seen,
separate, disappear, no longer show what is there to be shown.


The enigma, is obviously what he imagines. The enigmatic character being well underlined by the fact that in effect what can he have to announce, desire to announce for him to give this cough at the moment that he enters his analyst’s office? What
is veiled is that aspect of the relationship with this object x who is on this occasion I would not say his analyst, but what is in the room.


(9) In the dream what we are going to see being put completely in the foreground, is something which is here. It is an imaginary element as we are going to see, which is not an indifferent one.


And as you might expect, being in a dream it is marked by a certain function. What I have taught you about dreams would have no meaning if this function were not a signifier-function.


We know well that what belongs to this aspect of the relationship in the phantasy of the subject, is also something which must have a complex function, not be just an image, but something signifying. But this remains veiled, enigmatic for us. We
cannot articulate it as such.


All that we know, is that from the other side of the relationship, the subject has announced himself as other.


Namely as a subject marked by the signifier, as a barred subject. In the dream, it is the image that we have, and what we do not know, is what is on the other side, namely: what is he, in this dream, namely what Ella Sharpe, in her interpretation of the
dream, is going to try to articulate for him.


We now take the associations connected with the dream. Immediately after the subject has made this remark which concludes the dream, about the usage of the verb “to masturbate” which he had used in a transitive sense, and regarding which he
points out that he should have used it intransitively in order to use it in a correct fashion, that having said: “She was so (10) disappointed I thought that I would masturbate her.”


It is obviously something else that is in question, either it is a question of the subject masturbating himself – this indeed is what the analyst thinks, and this is what she is going to suggest to him immediately by underlining what the subject himself has
remarked, namely that the verb should have been used intransitively. In this connection the subject remarks that in effect that it was very rare for him to masturbate anybody. He only did it once with another boy. “That is the only time I can
remember.” And he continues: “The dream is in my mind vividly. There was no orgasm. I see the front of her genitals, the end of the vulva.”


And he describes something large and projecting hanging downwards like a fold on a hood. “Hood like it was, and it was this that the woman made use of in manoeuvring” (it is the term that he had used in the dream). “The vagina seemed to close around my finger. The hood seemed strange.” (133)


The analyst replies: “What else do you think of – let the look of it be in your mind.” The patient replies: “I think of a cave. There is a cave on the hillside where I lived as a child. I often went there with my mother. It is visible from the road along which one walks. It’s most remarkable feature is that it has an (11) overhanging top to it which looks very much like a huge lip.” (134) Something like the grotto of the cyclops at Capri where the coast is littered with things like that. A cave with a part of it projecting forward.


In this connection he makes a very remarkable association. “There is some joke about the labia running crosswise and not longitudinally, but I don’t remember how the joke was arranged, some comparison between Chinese writing and our own, starting
from different sides, or from bottom to top. Of course the labia are side by side, and the vagina walls are back and front, that is one longitudinal and the other crosswise. I’m still thinking of the hood”, he says.



Desire 79 Jacques Lacan

May 24, 2011

Desire 79

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

28.1.59 149
Seminar 10; Wednesday 28 January 1959

The phantasy is something which cuts, a certain vanishing, a certain signifying fainting of the subject in the presence of an object. The phantasy satisfies a certain accommodation, a certain fixation of the subject, something which has an elective value. The electivity of this value, is what I am trying to show you this year with the help of a certain number of examples.


In this opposition of the subject to a certain object there is something which is implicit in the phantasy, in as much as it is the preface, the prelude to the dream enunciated by the subject.


I think I already gave you a sense of it the last time. The subject arrives and begins to speak about his cough, a message about a message, about this cough which is given as a mysterious warning before going into a room where two others might be, two others who might be making love, to warn them that it is time (5) to separate. On the other hand, in the associations, we see that this cough is something which is very close to a phantasy which he gives right away. Namely that he imagined in an old phantasy that if he were somewhere, and did not want to be found there because he ought not to be in this somewhere, he could bark like a dog, and everyone would say, oh, it’s a dog.


The barking reveals itself, as being the signal by which the subject profoundly absents himself from the place where he is, signals himself as being other. And the correlation of the cough with the fact that a couple of others among whom a third association shows us that the subject is also included – because this dog whom he has been in order to bark, namely to make himself other than he is, we see now that in a third memory, this time of a real event, he tells us that this dog is a dog which came to masturbate against his leg: and what would have happened if the two of them had been surprised? In short we see being outlined something which, from the structural order, is essential.


When the two who are within a certain enclosure are confronted there face to face with one another in a properly imaginary relationship which means that what is in question is fairly well marked by the fact that this dog masturbates against his leg,
this dog on this occasion, by the very phantasy in connection with which he is introduced, is himself also imaginary, the one who shows himself masturbating, so that he is not absent from the couple of lovers.


(6) But what is essential is not simply to describe that the subject’s identification, as one might expect, is everywhere. It is just as much with the subject who is outside, and who announces himself, as with the subject who is inside and who is caught up in the relationships of the couple with what it involves in terms of common imaginary fascination. Either the two elements of the imaginary, dual couple remain joined in the
common fascination here of the act, between embracing, intercourse and the specular fascination; either they remain joined and the other should not be there, or the other shows himself and then the others separate and break up.


It is the structure which it is important to highlight. It is what alters the problem, because when all is said and done what does the subject tell us: that he gave a little cough before going into his analyst even though it is clear that if he has been asked to come up it is because there was nobody else there, because she is all alone; that besides these are not the things, he says, which I would allow myself to think about in connection with you. However this indeed is the problem.


The subject by coughing, namely on the one hand by carrying out this act whose signification he himself does not know because he poses the question of its signification, in making himself by this cough like the dog with its bark other than he is he does not himself know what is this message, and nevertheless he announces himself by this cough.


And in announcing himself what does he imagine? What does he imagine there is inside the room (7) for this cough that he signals for us as being in this case
an impulse, a compulsion, something which annoys him because it overcame him – it is he himself who signals it, and I highlighted in this connection how striking it is that Ella Sharpe thought that in this connection she should not speak about it, that the
subject was not conscious of it and that he should not be made conscious of it, even though it is he himself who introduces these questions, who says that it is a message, about what I do not know, but it is very clear – what does he imagine there is inside, what is the object that is there while he is outside, and announces himself in this fashion which alienates him, by this message which he does not understand?


By this message whose association with the dog’s bark is there to show that it is to announce himself as another, as someone other than himself that this condition manifests itself.


And notice that after making this loop, a first circuit in which he speaks to us first of all about his cough as a message, then of this phantasy in which he imagined himself to be a dog, we have pointed out in reality the linking of himself with a dog in
a room, having in a way traced this passage in an indefinite, ambiguous fashion because he passes consecutively through something which reflects his desire, then embodies his phantasy, he comes back after having completed the loop somewhere.


Because from that moment he is going to change register.



Desire 78 Jacques Lacan

May 23, 2011

Desire 78

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

28.1.59 149
Seminar 10; Wednesday 28 January 1959

This research, this exercise which we are carrying out is to show you how in the use that we already make in our experience, practically, of the notion of desire, we presuppose without knowing it a certain number of relationships, of coordinates
which are the ones that I am trying to situate by showing you that they are always the same, that it is therefore important to recognise them, because by failing to recognise them thinking always slips a little more to the right, a little more to the left, gets attached to coordinates that are badly defined, and that this is not without giving rise to problems in the way interpretation is practised.


Today I am going to continue the analysis of the dream that I chose in Ella Sharpe precisely for its exceptionally well elucidated character. And we are going to see things from these two aspects: the degree to which what she says, and the sharp,
subtle, remarkable things that she says in this observation of the session in which the dream is analysed and the two sessions which follow – what is most remarkable in it is that it is something which is so well inscribed in the categories whose usage I am trying to teach you, that it is thanks to this that one can give to these elements all their value – and the degree to which by failing precisely to distinguish the originality of
these elements, she manages to reduce in some way their importance, allows their colour and their features to fade a little, by mixing them, by reducing them to more impoverished, more summary notions which prevent her from getting everything
that she could from what she has in her hands.


(2) But here and now, to fix if you wish in your minds something which is destined to take shape always more precisely and a little better, I think that you are beginning to glimpse what the two stories of the graph mean. In sum this route of analytic
enuntiating which returns on itself in so far as it is I would say liberated by the principle, the rule of free association, tends towards what? To highlight as far as possible what is included in every discourse, a signifying chain of everything
that each one knows qua fragmented, namely of interpretable elements.


And these interpretable elements, qua fragmented, appear precisely in the measure that the subject tries to reconquer himself in his originality, to be beyond what demand has fixed. has imprisoned in him in terms of his needs. And in so far as
the subject, in the expression of his needs, primitively finds himself caught up, moulded in the necessities which are proper to the demand, and which are essentially founded on the fact that already the form of the demand is altered, alienated by the fact that we must think in this form of language, it is already in the register of the other as such, in the code of the other that it must be inscribed.


It is at that level that there is produced the primitive separation, the primitive distance of the subject with respect to something which in its roots is his need, but which cannot, when it arrives, be the same thing, because it is going to be reconquered at the arrival, but only conquered beyond the demand, only in something realised by language, in the form of the subject who speaks, and that this something which is called what (3) the subject wants is something which is referred to the fact
that the subject is going to constitute himself as being in a relationship that is no longer in a way immanent, completely included in his living participation, but on the contrary as declaring, as being, and therefore in a certain relationship to being.


In this interval – it is between language which is purely and simply questioning (guesitif), and language which is articulated, in which the subject responds to the question of what he wants, in which the subject constitutes himself with respect to what he is – it is in this interval that there is going to be produced this something which is going to be called specifically desire.


And this desire, in this double inscription of the graph, is something which has some homology with this desire in so far as it is situated somewhere in the upper part of its coordinates, and the function that the ego has in so far as this discourse of the other corrects itself, and that the appeal to the other for the satisfaction of a need is constituted with respect to the other in what I sometimes called the full word, the committed word, in a relationship such as the following in which the subject constitutes himself with respect to the other, when he says to the other, “You are my master, you are my wife”, this relationship which takes the ego and which establishes it with respect to an object in order to return here in the form of a message.


There is some homology between this relationship in which the ego is captured in the discourse of the other and the simple fact that someone speaks about me as me, about himself as himself; there is something articulated in a fragmentary way, which requires a (4) deciphering of a special order of desire. Just as the ego is constituted in a certain imaginary relationship to the other, so also desire is established, is fixed somewhere in the discourse of the other, halfway to this discourse, in which the
subject by his whole life tends to complete himself in something in which his being halfway declares itself.


Desire is a reflection, a return in this effort by which the subject situates himself somewhere before what I designate for you as phantasy – namely the relationship of the subject qua evanescent, in so far as he vanishes in a certain relationship to
an elective object, the phantasy always has this structure; it is never simply an object relation.



Desire 77 Jacques Lacan

May 22, 2011

Desire 77

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

21.1.59 132
Seminar 9: 21 January 1959

And what we see here in this associative line that has been travelled, is precisely first of all the fact that we have got there in the form: it is a question of the signifier of the
other who is in me. That is the question.


And what the subject in this connection begins to unwind here is nothing less than to pass by this point here to which we will come back subsequently, then here at d, at the level where there is the question of his desire.


What is he doing by giving this little cough, namely at the moment he enters a place where there is something that he does not know anything about; a sexual fantasy (fantaisie) involving the analyst…


What shows itself by pushing his own phantasy, namely he himself there, if he were at the place of the other he would first of all think of not being there. Or more exactly of
being taken for someone other than himself. And now we arrive at what? Very exactly at what happens.


The scene here is all of a sudden exposed, developed by the patient. What happens is
what: this dog in so far as it is himself he is not there. Here this dog is no longer phantastical, but well and truly this time in reality it is an other, no longer a signifier in any way, but an image, a companion in this room, and a companion all the
more obviously close to him, assimilated to him, that it is against his own leg, to the patient that the dog comes to masturbate.


(30) What is the schema of what happens at this moment? It is essentially founded on the fact that the other, here the animal qua real, and which we know to have a relationship to the subject because the subject took care previously to inform us of it, he could imaginarily be this animal on condition that he takes on the signifier barking. This other who was present is masturbating.


He shows him something, very precisely by masturbating. Is the situation determined here? No, as the patient himself tells us, there is the possibility that someone might enter, and then what shame, the situation would no longer be sustainable. The subject would literally disappear with shame before this other witness of what is happening.


In other words, what is articulated here: show me what I must do, on condition that the other in so far as he is the big Other, the third, is not there. I look at the other who I am, this dog, on condition that the other does not come in, otherwise I would disappear with shame.


But on the contrary this other that I am, namely this dog, I look on him as an ego-ideal, as doing what I am not doing, as an ideal of potency as Ella Sharpe will later say, but undoubtedly not in the sense that she intends because precisely that has nothing to do with the words.


Here it is to the degree precisely that the dog is not himself a speaking animal that he can here be the model and the image, and that the subject can see in him what he desires to see, namely that he is shown what he should do, what he can do, and this in
so far as he is out of sight of the other, the someone who might come in, and of the one who speaks.


(31) And in other words, it is in so far as I have not yet gone to my analyst that I can imagine her, namely Ella Sharpe the poor woman, showing me by masturbating, and I cough in order to warn her that she has to take up a normal position.


It is in this game between the two others, the one who does not speak that one imagines, and the one to whom one is going to speak, that he is asked to be careful lest the confrontation should happen too quickly, lest the subject should begin to
disappear. This is the point, the level. Where all of a sudden the memory of the dream is going to emerge. Well we will take up the dream the next time so that we can see that the interest of what the dream and the phantasy is going to show us is very
precisely that it is the contrary of this phantasy that is forged in the waking state whose features we have today been circumscribing.



Desire 76 Jacques Lacan

May 22, 2011

Desire 76

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

21.1.59 132
Seminar 9: 21 January 1959

You know that it is not just yesterday that these things have been seen. Darwin had already dealt with them, except that for lack of the linguistic apparatus things remained very problematic for him. But it is a phenomenon that is so general, so
essential, so functionally dominant in the development of the child that even Darwin who was inclined rather towards naturalist explanations did not fail all the same to be struck by the following: it was quite funny all the same that a child whose
intelligence was already so remarkable that he could isolate the quack from the duck – this is how it is in Darwin’s text, the cry of the duck that the child takes up is put in phonetic form – (26) that this quack is referred by him to a whole series of objects whose generic homogeneity is sufficiently noted by the fact that if I remember properly there were among these objects wine and a sous. I am not too sure what this sous designates, whether it designates a penny or something else. I have not verified what that meant in Darwin’s day, but it was a coin because Darwin in his embarrassment does not fail to remark that this coin had the stamp of an eagle in the corner.


It may appear that the explanation which would unify the relationship of the quack to a general species of flying creatures on the pretext that an image as ambiguous as that of an eagle with open wings on a coin is something which we could consider as having to be homogenised by the child to his perception of the duck. Obviously that of wine, of liquid, would still create a problem. Perhaps we could simply think to
ourselves there is some relationship between wine, something which would be let us say the liquid element in so far as the duck paddles in it.


We see in any case that what is once again in question is much more designated as marked by the passage of the signifying element as such; here let us admit it in the contiguity of perception if we want to admit in effect that the liquid quality is what is in question when the child applies to it the quack of the duck. You can see that it is in any case in the register of the signifying chain that we are able to grasp the fundamental thing that is established in the child in his grasp of the world as a world structured by the word.


(27) He is not one either to look for the meaning or the essence of birds, of fluid or of sous. The fact is that he finds them literally by the use of nonsense. Because when all is said and done if we have the time we will pose ourselves questions about what nonsense is technically. I mean non-sense. In the English tongue it is a specific genre.


The English tongue has two outstanding example of nonsense, specifically Edward Lear a writer of nonsense which he defined as such, and Lewis Carroll among whose works you at least know I think The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland.


I must say if I had to recommend a book as an introduction to someone who was going to be a child psychiatrist or a child analyst, rather than any one of the books of Mr. Piaget, I would advise him to begin by reading Alice in Wonderland, because he
would grasp effectively something which I have the best of reasons for thinking, given everything that we know about Lewis Carroll, to be something which is based on a profound experience of children’s jokes, and which effectively shows us the value, the incidence, the dimension of the operation of nonsense as such.


Here I can only begin this indication. I began it in parenthesis, and in connection with the: “It is a dog” of our subject. I mean, from the formulated, signifying fashion in
which one should interpret the phantasy that is outlined here and title you will easily note here I think in the term phantasy; I mean that in this phantasy: It is a dog, only a dog.


You will rediscover what I gave you as being the formula of the phantasy, namely that what the subject appears to elide is not (28) himself in so far as there is another one there. An imaginary other, o. A first indication of the suitability of this schema for helping you locate the validity of the phantasy as such.


I come to the fourth associative element which Ella Sharpe gives us in this case. Dog again brought the memory of a dog masturbating – the intransitive use naturally (cf 136). It is a question of a dog who is masturbating, as the patient told it, namely that as immediately after the schema a dog …… “That reminds me of a dog rubbing himself against my leg, really masturbating himself. I’m ashamed to tell you because I did not stop him. I let him go on and someone might have come in.” (132)


Is the connotation of this as an element to be put in the sequence of the chain by the analyst, namely: the memory of a dog who is masturbating, something which should completely satisfy us here? I do not believe so. Because this element allows us to
advance again a little further into what is in question in this message bringing the dream.


And to show you the first loop which was gone through by the associations of the patient, and to show you the place that it is, I would say that nothing is more
obvious on this occasion than the associative line. It is precisely what I am drawing here for you in dots. (29) in so far as it is in the enunciating of the subject; these
broken signifying elements are going to pass into ordinary and normal speech by these two points that have been mapped out of the message and the code, and the message and the code being here something of a quite different nature than the partner who speaks the same tongue who is in question in the term of the other 0.



Desire 75

May 21, 2011

Desire 75

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

21.1.59 132
Seminar 9: 21 January 1959

Other people who may on occasion talk to me in a way that I would not say is directly
illuminated by the projects for investigation that I give them, but solely because of my teaching, have pointed out to me something else that not only does the child limit to the designation of the dog this “bow-wow” which is something which is primitively chosen in the dog among all his characteristics – and how could we be surprised at it, because the child is obviously (22) going to begin already by qualifying his dog, but indeed before being able to handle any kind of attribute, he begins by bringing into play what he can say about him, namely that by which the animal presents itself as itself producing a sign which is not a signifier.


But notice that here it is by the approach, by the chance that is presented to him by what there is in what is manifested, precisely the presence of an animal, something which is isolated enough to furnish its material, something which is an emission of the larynx, that the child lays hold of this element.


As what? As something which, because it replaces the “dog” which he has already perfectly understood and heard to the point of being able both to direct his regard towards the dog when one names the dog, and towards an image of this dog when one
says dog, and replaces it by a “bow-wow”, which is to construct the first metaphor. So that it is here that we see beginning, and in a fashion which is in the closest conformity to the true genesis of language, the operation of predication.


It has been remarked that in the primitive form of language what plays the function of adjective are metaphors. This is confirmed here in the subject, except that we do not find ourselves here before some mysterious primitive operation of the spirit, but before a structural necessity of language which requires that in order that something should be engendered in the order of the signified, there must be the substitution of a
signifier for another signifier.


You will say to me: what do you know about it? I mean why do you affirm that the essential is the substitution of “bow-wow” (23) for dog. First of all I would say to you that it is a common observation – and it was brought to me not too long ago – that from the moment that the child has been able to call a dog “bow-wow”, he will call “bow-wow” a whole lot of things which have absolutely nothing to do with a dog, therefore immediately showing by this that what is in question is indeed effectively
the transformation of the sign into a signifier which one puts to the test of all sorts of substitutions with respect to that which at that moment has no further importance whether it is other signifiers or units of the real. Because what is in question is
to put the power of the signifier to the test.


The high point of this is marked in this decisive moment at which the child – it was about this that I made the remark at the end of the scientific communication that I was speaking about – declares with the greatest authority and the greatest insistence: the dog goes “miaow”, or the cat goes “bow-wow”. An absolutely decisive point because it is at this moment that the primitive metaphor, which is constituted purely and simply by signifying substitution, by the exercise of signifying substitution,
engenders the category of qualification.


You should understand what I am saying, we can in this case formalize that if you wish, and say that the step, the progress that is accomplished consists in the fact that first of all a monolinear chain is established which says: “Dog” = “bow-wow”,
that what is in question and what is demonstrated in the clearest fashion by the fact that the child superimposes, combines one chain with another, is that he has managed to make cross over with respect to the chain, the dog goes “bow-wow”, the chain, the
cat goes “miaow”; that in substituting the “miaow” for the “bow-wow” he is going to bring into play the possibility of the crossing over of one chain with another, namely of a redivision of each one of the chains in two parts, what will provisionally be fixed and what no less provisionally will be mobile, namely of something of the chain which will remain, around which will turn what can change in it.


In other words it is only from the moment at which there is associated the S’ of the cat, in so far as it is signified by this sign with the S, the “bow-wow” signifier of the dog. And that this supposes that underneath – and to begin with there is no underneath – the child links the two lines, namely that the signified of “bow-wow”, the dog, produces S’ the “miaow” signifier of the cat. Only from the moment that this exercise has been accomplished, and the importance that the child gives to this exercise is quite evident and demonstrated by the fact that if the parents are tactless enough to intervene, to correct him, to reprimand him, or to chide him for saying such stupid things, the child has very lively emotional reactions, in a word he cries because he knows well what he is in the process of doing, as against the adults who think that he is being stupid.

換句話說,從貓的能指S‘被聯想到這個時刻開始,它被S的這個符號所意符化,狗的「旺旺」能指。這件事情假定:在底下,(首先,底下並不存在,)小孩連接兩條線索,也就是「旺旺」的所指,狗,產生貓的「喵叫」的能指S’ 。只有從這個運作被完成的時刻開始,小孩重視這個運作的重要性才完全顯現,並且被這個事實證明:假如父母親,不講究技巧地介入,改正他,譴責他,或是斥責他,因為說了如此愚笨的事情,小孩會有激烈的情緒反應。總之,他哭叫起來,因為他心知肚明,在做的過程,他是什麼樣子。他是在對抗成年人認為他是愚笨。

Because it is only from that moment on, and in accordance with the formula which I already gave of the metaphor which consists very essentially in the following: it is that something at the level of the upper line is displaced, is elided, with respect to
(25) something which in the lower line of the signified is also displaced. In other words, it is to the degree that from the point of view of the graph (scaf) from the moment that this game has been introduced, the “bow-wow” can be elided, that there
comes in the underpinnings of the enunciating about the dog – that this enunciating becomes properly a signifying enunciating, and not a simple imitative connection with respect to reality.


Whether the dog is indicated or named amounts to the same thing. But literally the fact that when the qualification, the attribution of a quality to the dog is given to him, that is not on the same line, it is on the one of quality as such: there are those who go “bow-wow”, there are those who go “miaow”, and all those who make other noises are implicated here in the verticality, in height, in order that there should begin to be
born from the metaphor the dimension of adjective.