‘And’ versus ‘Or’ – The Politics of Enjoyment

Two thoughts concerning recent events:

1. Today’s radical thinking seems to encourage us to have our cake and eat it too. « Qu’ils mangent de la brioche » exclaim the educated classes, most of whom seem to believe that authentic change occurs only after one has wished away political contradiction and overcome one’s own binarisms. But real political change requires one to take the difficult path, avoid temptation, avoid the pragmatism which soothes our immediate afflictions at the expense of a more global shift toward equality, liberty, and fraternity. As Badiou has put it: if you want the victory, you can have it in the end. This is the principle of perseverance.

2. In this continent today we seem to bring ourselves to the point of anxiety so that we can enjoy, and so that we can be seen enjoying. This has become a basic principle of life in America, a major political factor of recent times. If yesterday we were killed over Bread then today we are killed over skittles, coca-cola, popcorn, and so on. Today’s anxiety is whether or not we can have two cans of Coca-Cola while being black, or while being poor, or while being a woman, etc.

Is the Mentor supposed-to-know?

An unlikely series of proposals this week have me reflecting on the nature of mentorship.

In the first case, a young student who took a class with me began to meet me at the cafe often. She was interested in receiving scholarly advice from me and yet the discussion seldom strayed from her own personal (romantic and mental health) issues. Of course I was happy to oblige until the situation escalated and I was forced to inject some distance between us. I’m not sure to what degree this could be a case of transference.

In the second case, a woman from the other side of Canada asked me to be a mentor to her after she friended me on facebook. She refuses to reveal her identity and she speaks often of her struggle to socialize with others. She is concerned about the fact that she has no ‘spirit’ or ‘passion’. She is concerned about her own inabilities as a student and thinker, and yet she carefully crafts her sentences with expensive words. I have found some ‘spirit’ in her when I deliberately provoke her, when I confront her with her own words and plays on words.

In the third case, an older man, older than myself, who has been a facebook friend for quite some time has approached me for mentoring. He insists on paying me and on my imposing upon him a strict system of milestones. He further insists that he requires somebody to be very harsh on his writing. He wants somebody to impose a reading routine on him so that he can get his work done – he feels he needs lose something (money, time, etc) in order to progress in his work.

Here, I am prone to argue that the task of the mentor is resolutely not to impose knowledge or curricula. Neither is it to necessarily assist a student with their writing, their marketability, their know-how, and their professional development. Certainly, some degree of that is necessary, but far more important is it to regularly confront the student with their own desire.

Of the three students, I can feel, already, some ‘spirit’ coming out of the second student. This is a student I would have least suspected of change – indeed, she least suspects herself capable of change. I believe that the first student needs distance from mentors, for fear of deepening the transference beyond analytic intervention. Unfortunately, I responded to the lures much too soon and this is what accounted for the breaking of the relationship.

All of this is simply to suggest that the first responsibility of a mentor is not to be a subject supposed to know.

Suture (Elements of the Logic of the Signifier) – Unworked Notes

Presented on 24 February 1965, approximately one month after Yves Duroux’s introduction, “Psychology and Logic”.

Miller begins by noting that only those who have gone through personal analysis and gained the “precise conceptions of analysis” should concern themselves with “it”. He does not state what “it” is, but I presume that “it” is the “logic of the signifier”.

Miller asks himself a question from the perspective of the audience: if he does not have the credentials to speak about it, what is he doing here?

He then redirects the question: why are analysts here, listening to somebody without credentials, without practice. Miller seems quite amazed, almost dumb-founded, that he has an audience of analysts listening to him speak.

“The Freudian field is not representable as a closed surface” – this is what Miller claims gives him the authority to speak to an audience of analysts.

If you are situated on the inside, and Miller is outside, and the two are here speaking, then, this is because the two surfaces join up and the periphery or outer edge crosses over the circumscription.

Interested in the logic of the signifier. It is a general logic – it governs all fields of knowledge. It is a minimal logic – there is a movement, a progression, along a linear sequence.

The logic of the signifier is not only a logic for linguistic study. It can be imported into other discourses. And we should import it into psychoanalysis.

There is a relationship between the signifier’s logic and the “logician’s logic.” The signifier’s logic treats the emergence of the logician’s logic. The signifier’s logic is the logic of the origin of logic. This means that the signifier’s logic does not follow its own laws – it itself falls outside of the jurisdiction of its logic.

There is something similar being done in our method as Derrida did in his phenomenology [Edmund Husserl’s Origin of Geometry: An Introduction, by Derrida).

Miscognition finds its point of departure in the production of meaning. It is constituted on repression. To designate all of this Miller uses the name “suture”.

Suture names the relation of the subject to the chain of its discourse; it figures there as the element which is lacking, in the form of a stand-in [holding in place of, substitute]. Just because something is lacking doesn’t mean that it is purely and simply absent. Suture – which is a relation of lack to structure – is a taking the place of.

Suture is not named explicitly by Lacan, but it is there in his system.

Miller is not speaking as a philosopher, Freud, quoting Heinrich Heine, claimed that philosophers “with his nightcaps and the tatters of his dressing-gown, patching up the gaps in the structure of the universe.” Suturation is not peculiar to the philosopher. Philosophers suture universal structures. And the logician, like the linguist, also sutures at his particular level. And so does anybody who says “I”.

We must focus on the letter of a discourse and not its meaning. We are concerned with a dead letter – the meaning dies.

We are concerned with Gottlob Frege’s argument in The Foundations of Arithmetic (1953). Frege’s system puts into question natural numbers taken as primary, (1) zero, (2) number, and (3) succession.

What is it [a question of being] which functions in the series of whole natural numbers and to which we can assign their progression/succession?

Miller provides the answer up front. At this point we’ve already taken a step beyond Duroux’s short text: “in the process of the constitution of the [numeric] series, in the genesis of progression, the function of the subject, miscognized, is operative.”

Frege’s logical discourse begins with an exclusion which makes possible the passage of the thing to the unit and to the set/collection of units to the unit of number. Frege excludes the subject as the basis for this passage. The function of the subject is the support of the operations of abstraction and unification.

The unity of individual [unit?] and set only holds if we presume that the number functions as its name.

A subject – the other side of the subject is politics – is a faculty of memory necessary to close the set without any loss of any of the interchangable elements, and a faculty of repetition which operates inductively. Deciphering this: the subject is what makes possible the faculty of repetition, and the memory of that which preceded number, the passage from one number to another, for example.

But Frege excludes the subject from the start, excludes it from the field in which the concept of the number is to appear.

The subject is not reducible to the psychological – the exclusion of the subject from the field of number is assimilable to repetition.

Frege’s discourse begins with three concepts: the concept, the object, and the number. It also includes two relations: subsumption [relation of concept to object], and assignation [relation of concept to number]. A number is assigned to a concept which subsumes objects.


Subsumption [concept <> object]
Assignation [concept <> number]

Logic of Frege’s system: a concept is defined and exists solely through the relation which it maintains as subsumer with that which it subsumes [concept relation to object]. Also: object only exists insofar as it falls under a concept – the object takes its meaning from its difference to the thing integrated, to the real. Does this not imply a new concept, then? What is a thing? Miller does not say. Object is related to something which is not a concept and which is not a number – it is a thing, and it is in the real.

Miller picks this up immediately: the thing disappears from Frege’s system, it must disappear for the object to appear. The object then:

Object is thing insofar as it is One.

The thing is counted as One, it is elevated to the status of One.

So there is a redoubling: the concept is formed through the determination of subsumption [concept <> object]: the concept of identity to a concept. [concept <> object, 1 <> 1 is taken where there should be object <> thing, 1 <> 0].

So this redoubling, Miller seems to call “identity”. The concept is redoubled, induced in the concept by identity – and it effects the disappearance of the thing it gives rise to the emergence of the numerable. The thing, as 0, is erased, to give the 1.

Identity as a logic, is similar to what Duroux named equivalence – there is a correspondence, presumed, between thing and object, or, if not presumed, avoided or repressed, in favour of redoubling of the concept – in favour of the concept referring only to the concept.

Assignation of number [concept <> number]: ‘the number assigned to the concept F is the extension of the concept ‘identical to the concept F’”. All that is left to the Thing, in Frege’s system, is the support of its identity with itself. This is the support for the numerable.

Distinctive unit supports the number, unifying unit is assigned by the number.

A distinctive unit’s foundation is situated in the function of identity. The function of identity confers on each thing in the world the property of being One, whole – a unit. It also transforms the unit into an object of the logical concept. Miller therefore insists that we call this logic “identity” rather than “equality”.

Frege takes his definition from Leibniz: ‘Those things are identical of which one can be substituted for the other salva veritate, without loss of truth.’ Here is the emergence of the function of truth. What the function assumes is more important than what is expresses: that is, identity-with-itself.

A thing can not be substituted for itself – where does this therefore leave truth?

If a thing can not be substituted for itself then this subverts the field of truth, ruins it, abolishes it.

But identity-with-itself is essential if truth is to be saved – and identity-with-itself is what we connote when we pass from the thing to the object, according to Frege.

Truth is. Each thing is identical with itself.

Let: Thing, X, be in the world
Let: There is an empirical Concept of Thing X
But: Empirical Concept of Thing X is a redoubled Concept
Therefore: Concept of Thing X is identical with the Concept of Thing X.
Let: Object X fall under Concept X as a Unit.
Let: Number Assigned to Concept X be “1”

This means: The number 1, as function, is repetitive for all things of the world.

Thus: Number 1 is only the unit which constitutes the number as such, and not the 1 in its personal identity as a number with its own particular place and a proper name in a series of numbers.

The construction of the Number 1 demands that we call upon the thing in the world and yet this, according to Frege, can not be done. What is logical can therefore only be sustained through what is logical itself.

For Number 1 to pass from the repetition of 1 of the identical that of its ordered succession [eg., 2], in order for the number to gain autonomy definitively, without any reference to the real, the zero has to appear.

Zero is the number assigned to not-identical-with-itself.

So: there is a Concept, “Not identical with itself” This concept must subsume an Object – but it doesn’t, it does not subsume an Object.

Zero is supported by the proposition: truth is.
If no Object falls under the Concept “not identical with itself” then this is because truth must be saved.

The concept of not-identical-with-itself is assigned by the number zero, and it sutures logical discourse.

It has been necessary in Frege’s system, in order to exclude any reference to the real, to evoke on the level of the concept an object not-identical-with-itself which is subsequently rejected from the dimension of truth.

The zero assigned as number consummates the exclusion of this object. [an object is missing here]. The object is missing, it is lacking, and so nothing can be written there – if a 0 must be traced, it is merely in order to figure a blank, to render visible the lack.

“From the zero lack to the zero number, the non-conceptualizable is conceptualized.”

If through subsumption [concept <> object] we move from 0 to 1:

Thing = 0
Concept = Concept of 0
Object = Unit of Concept 0
Number = 1

Circulation: number 0 -> concept of 0 -> object of 0 -> number 1

The entire system is constituted with the 0 counting as 1.
The concept 0 subsumes nothing in the real but a blank. This is the support of the series of numbers – of succession.

Successor is obtained by obtaining the number following n by adding a unit to it, n’. Thus, n+1.

n … (n+1) … = n’

Frege opens n+1 to discover what is involved in the passage from n to its successor.

Successor, for Frege: the Number assigned to the Concept member of the series of natural numbers ending with n is what follows in the series of natural numbers ending after n.

For example: …member of a series ending with 3. The number assigned to this Concept is 4. The number here functions as a unifying name of a set.

The 3 subsumes 3 objects in the order of the real. In the order of number, which is that of discourse bound by truth, it is numbers which are counted: before the 3 there are 3 numbers, but with the 3 there is a fourth, the 0.

In the order of number there is the additional 0, and the 0 counts for 1.

That which in the real is pure is simple – finds itself in number noted as 0 and counted for 1.

Something is rejected by truth – an object not-identical with itself – and is sutured by discourse or annulled.

The emergence of a lack as 0, and of 0 as counted as 1, is what determines the successor.

Let: n be.
Let: 0 lack.
Let: 0 be fixed as 1
Let: n+1 absorb the 1

The 1 of n+1 counts the 0 as 1. Subsumption is this process.

The sign of “+” is somewhat unneeded then.

The 1 is the primary symbol of the emergence of lack in the field of truth. The sign “+” indicates the crossing, the transgression through which the 0 lack comes to be represented as 1 … and this allows for the name of a number to come into being, succession.

This opens up the new logic, the logic which comes before the logician’s logic.

The fact that zero is a number assures the logical dimension of its closure.

The zero is a number which sutures and stands-in for the lack.

The zero cancels out the meaning of each of the names caught up in the metonymic chain of successional progression.

0 (as lack of contradictory object) must be distinguished from that which sutures this absence in the series of numbers
1 (as the proper name of a number) must be distinguished from that which comes to fix in a trait the zero of the not-identical with itself sutured by the identity with itself. It is the law of discourse in the field of truth.

The paradox: the trait of the identical represents the non-identical, whence is deduced the impossibility of its redoubling, and from that impossibility the structure of repetition as the process of differentiation of the identical.

0 is represented and excluded in the chain of succession.

The 0 summons and rejects in order to constitute itself. The succession wants to know nothing of it, rejects it. We name this object which is rejected and which the chain wants to know nothing of, the subject.

It is excluded from the discourse is suture.

Number = signified
trait = signifier
logic of signifier = relation of lack to the trait.

relation of subject to the Other (the locus of truth) = relation the zero entertains with the identit6 of the unique as the support of truth.

Zero = not identical with itself.

The subject is excluded by the field of the Other and is represented in that field (Subject <> Other) in the form of the unit, the trait – the unit-trait. The exclusion is marked by Lacan as $<>A.

This exteriority of the subject to the Other institutes the unconscious.

Repetition is produced by the vanishing of the subject and its passage as lack. Only the unconscious can name the progression which constitutes the chain in the order of thought.

A definition of the subject: the possibility of one signifier more.

This explains the possibility of an enumerable infinity.

Lacan: sign is that which represents something for someone – signifier is that which represents the subject for another signifier. The insertion of the subject into the chain is representation. It is not necessarily an exclusion as a vanishing.

Once we have a signifier: the subject is both before and after the signifier. The subject is the effect of the signifier and the signifier is the representative of the subject.

Suture = 0
The subject flickers – a movement open and closes for the subject, in succession. It delivers up the lack in the form of 1 in order to abolish it in the successor itself.

Psychology and Logic (Yves Duroux) – Notes

This piece appears in the first volume of Form & Content. It is some variation on a presentation that Duroux gave on 27 January 1965 during Lacan’s seminar at the Ecole Normale Superieure. It was meant as an introduction to Jacques-Alain Miller’s paper on Frege’s logic, and, more specifically, The Foundations of Arithmetic (1884). In this work, we are told, Frege developed a definition of the number zero and of the whole of numbers – finally, he described something called a ‘successor function’. The ‘successor function’ deals with the question: ‘how is it that we can count from 1 to 2, and from 2 to 3, and so on. We’ve seen the same question examined by Alain Badiou in his work. We’ve seen that Badiou wants to first describe the logic of succession (of the ‘count’) and second the logic of the axiom of second infinity (which allows us to break with the logic of succession itself).

In any case, we are dealing with whole numbers. And, to repeat Duroux’s questions, we are asking: (1) what is a number (eg., what is the number 1, what is the number 2?), (2) what is zero?, and (3) what is the successor?

These are the key questions. And, really, once we come to understand the answers to these questions we begin to realize that it is all very basic. But not immediately.

First: if we assume that zero is not separate from the rest of whole numbers then the real question is: what is a number?, and how do we pass from one number to another number? Another way of stating the first question is: how do we move from a collection of real things to a numeric representation of that collection of real things?

The first is a question of “collection” and the second is a question of “addition”.

The “unit” is an undifferentiated and undetermined element of any given “set”. I’m going to diagram this:

Undifferentiated/Undetermined <– Collection

Unit <– Set

A unit can also be the name of One, the number One.

One <– 1

One, One <– 2

When we say that there is one horse and one horse and one horse – each one horse is a unit. Each is an element of a set of the three horses.

Horse, Horse, Horse <– 3 Horses

There is nothing intrinsic to the units – one horse, one horse, one horse – that allows us to use the number 3 to identify the collection. There is nothing inside the units that gives rise to the number three for the set. The only way to use the number three is to impose it on the units by force.

The following:

One Horse + One Horse + One Horse = 3 Horses

Can only be said if we make two modifications: (1) we must presume that the “one” is a number, and (2) we must transform the “and” of “one horse and one horse and one horse” into an operation, given the symbol of the plus “+”.

What we therefore discover is that by repeating “one horse” we give rise to something new. It is through the repetition that a new signification comes into existence. We get something new which is not itself a repetition. For example, one plus one plus one, are a series of ones which give us a new number not already there: three.

We must suppose a subject here, one capable of operating on the succession of numbers and giving name to them.

Frege separates the domain of representation into the psychological or subjective side and the objective side. But this separation by Frege effaces the subjective side in favor of the objective side of laws and logic. And this, as we shall see, gives rise to a strange logic, one that, it seems, Frege does not himself acknowledge.

Frege provides the example “venus has no moon” What does “no” signify here? We do not, in this sentence, according to Frege, attribute the “no” to the object moon. This is because there is no moon. A moon does not exist, so we can not negate it. But this leaves open the question of “zero”. Is zero a negation? Can it be if there was nothing there to begin with? We have a concept of a “venus moon”. And this concept is related to the object “moon”. But the relation is such that there is “no moon”. Number, for Frege, belongs to “concept”.

Object <– Concept

No Moon <– 0 Moons

This does not give us an individual number though. There is no “the” one, “the” two, “the” three. For Frege, there is only “one one”, “one two,” “one three”, and so on. The numbers are not unique – they are all only “one”.

One, One, One <– One “3”

Frege moves forward. He gives another example of planets and moons: “Jupiter has four moons.” Here the number “four” is equal to the number of moons. It is identical to the number of Jupiter’s moons. To the concept of Jupiter’s moons there is the number four.

Frege posits a primordial relation of equivalence or identity. It describes a logical relation that enables one to order objects or concepts in a one-to-one correspondence.

For example:

“Socrates” = Object
“is a philosopher” = Concept

Socrates <– a philosopher

The two are equivalent – Socrates already is a philosopher, and a philosopher already is socrates. There is nothing remaining here, the latter is a designation of what is right there – it is not imposed from the outside, it is a natural consequence of a correspondence with Socrates.

One we posit the relation of equivalence we can arrive at a second definition of number: the number that belongs to the concept f is the extension of the concept equivalent to the concept F.

For example:

“one horse, one horse, one horse” – Object (F)
“three horses” – Concept f (extension of F)

This means we have posited a determined concept F; we have determined through the relation of equivalence, all the equivalences of this concept F; we then define the number as the extension of this concept equivalent to the concept F (all the equivalences of the concept F).

So the concept, three horses, is determined by its object, in this understanding.

determination (object) <– determined (concept)

How do we obtain the number zero?

Frege thinks the idea of that which is not-identical-to-itself. Initially, Frege imagines that any contradictory statement refers to zero. For example: “Socrates is a horse” has an Object which is “Socrates” and a concept which is “Horse” and this just is not true. So the concept is zero in this case.

Socrates <– Horse = 0

Now the question of addition.

One number follows another in a series if “this number is attributed to a concept under which falls an object” So, 1 follows 0 because 1 as an object is attributed to the concept “equal to zero”.

So there is a contradiction here in the succession from 0 to 1.

0 = contradiction (Socrates <– Horse)


1 = 0


0 (Socrates <– Horse) = 1 [ = 0]

First: zero is defined as a contradiction. It is the concept for contradiction.

Second: the movement from 0 to 1 is a contradiction of contradiction.

Thus, the motor of Frege’s addition is a ‘negation of negation’.

Notes from Lecture 2: Levi Bryant’s Object that can not be Oriented


Anxiety as signal – as sign.

-signs represent something for someone

-where there is smoke there is fire, or a smoker (from pierce)

-a hole in the wall is an index of a gun shot

-tracks in snow, signs of the path persons took


-signifier on the other hand

-lacan says that the signifier represents a subject for another signifier.

-JUDITH: “i feel like im a loser” – loser is the first signifier. In the same session they’ll refer to some part of themselves as damaged. “Damaged is the signifier” .. neither is the person but we start listening to the next signifier that comes along in the chain.. it will eventually take us to something like “physically injured” … at the end of the chain.. they don’t know when they are starting out that “loser” and all the words have anything to do with any kind of early physical injury. When at age of 3 they knocked out two front teeth.

-Levi: grade represents the student. Status as a citizen, ex-con.. represented to the rest of the country that you live in.. etc.

-at the level of the subject, two constraints:

-biological constraints: in the mountains, I will have constraints because I am not used to it physically – I can not exert my body in certain ways. On Mars there will be different gravitational constraints.

-symbolic constraints as well: nature of signifier, not physical but organize our lives in all sorts of ways.

-JUDITH: patient says “Hello I am manic depressive” .. there is a subject in there. People refer to themselves as “Hello I am an ex-con..” or now it is even “Hello, I am a man..” the theory says: don’t stick there. These are only signifiers. The whole of Freudian theory is only a set of signifiers.


Axiom of signifier representing subject for another signifier:

S1 -> S2 (Master’s discourse)


Contrast between subject and ego. Subject: It is a kind of non-being, a kind of absence in the chain of signifiers. The subject rises up to say no to these signifiers.


It is like the signifier erasure the subject (not the person).


Why does the signifier have the effect of erasure on the subject?


  1. the signifier can not signify itself.

    (S1 points to S2, there always have to be a second for signification to take place)


The moment the subject is named, how its situated in the symbolic order, it’s already passing on to another signifier – this is the metonymy of desire. Another signifier is always needed, it’s always elsewhere, we never get to that final point.


  1. the signifier is the field of substitution and exchange.


Sem 1 or 2, night and day or the presence of a star, these can be signifiers. As long as we have a binary coding of absence/presence, this is a signifier. The symbolic colonizes these features of nature and transforms it into signifiers – traffic signals, on and off, 0 and 1.


Money is a commodity that can be substituted.


The word kills the thing. When I say the word elephant, the elephant has been destroyed. Something is always lost in this elephant.


Elementary structures of kinship – exchange between tribes, only possible if the person is reduced to the signifier.


Capitalism renders everything exchangable and substitutable for anything else.


(3) The features of absence


      1. signifier presupposes the absence of the object [b/c signifier/symbolic exists, it is possible for an object to be absent] [there is no lack within the real, this is the mythical real before the symbolic – before the lack to take place you need a symbolic system ... nothing is absent in a world without humans] – there is a lack at the heart of being produced by the symbolic – it can never be filled. It is the condition for all of our symbolic or significations existence. .. it is an absence which is topological, not something lost and can be refound.
      2. Presupposition of the absence of the speaker. Language presupposes the possibility of my death. A death that is already always taken place when we speak. I can be quoted in my own absence. My absence can be signified, I can be erased. I am never master of my speech.
      3. Presupposes the absence of the receiver. My speech can be addressed to somebody who isn’t there. I thought i was talking about my boss when in fact my speech is really addressed to a lost lover, transferred over to my boss for whatever reason.


Cecilia: we are also always saying less than the truth. Something always slips away, there is a remainder, less than 1 – excessive, and maybe this is objet a.


These are formal paradoxes.


Can not form a set of all sets = cantor. B/c the subsets are always going to be greater in number than the initial set we began with. Some there is a constitutive incompleteness. The body of signifiers is also a set – we can not totalize it. Russel’s paradox: can not form a set of all sets that are not members of themselves. The symbolic has its own constitutive incompleteness, it is built into it this way.


Early Lacan believed that the symptom could be resolved completely through interpretation without remainder, that it could be entirely put into words. That would be a cure. This presupposes a big Other who exists – a big Other as a set of all sets without gap or remainder. This is because he is circling around the real as the order…


cecilia: is the unconscious made out of signifiers. Levi: It activates signifiers but its structured like a language.



Table of long division


$ barred-A



[why does $ and a switch places after the early part and stick that way for the majority of the seminar?]


new innovation – a barred Other, incomplete Other.

The subject is constituted in the locus of the Other. The Symbolic Order is the locus of the Other. (A is in the Symbolic Order). Producing the remainder, objet a.


Ven diagram.


Either/Or, forced decision. Infant is forced with decision: money or your life. Forced vel of alienation.


Benjamin: no good answer to the question. Give up money, live life of lack. Give up life and you lose money anyway. So only way to live is with forced lack.


Being is on one side in ven diagram. No bar in S. Circle of jouissance (money).

Other side: circle of thinking, circle of the Other (no bar) or Symbolic or signifier.


This happens before the infant is even born. Already born as a member in the symbolic, with all of the constraints built in already.


Choose jouissance, enjoyment, or enter the field of the Other of the symbolic order. No you are going to be alienated in the signifier and undergo all those 3 features of absence. You will sacrifice your jouissance.


- Break -


the subject as such doesn’t appear within language. Lower left hand corner of the discourse of the master.


S1 -> S2



Something is always excluded from language, constitutively. The subject disappears in this discourse of the master. It is not an exclusion that occurs without residue. The signifier doesnt capture everything. There is always a left-over residue, something that is in excess of the signifiers. Objet a, the cause of desire.


We could call this seminar the seminar of the Lacanian object. A new theory of the object. The objet a. It is not the empirical object, not books, rocks, trees – experienced objects. It is not the object of epistemology – he says that this object can only be referred to metaphorically. We can not capture or hold the object.


This seminar is in a transitional point. Objet a is now a residue or remainder in a process of alienation, that can’t be symbolized.










Rahna: page 174, metaphor passage is there. Metaphor in relation to objet a.


Features of objet a:

-can not be symbolized (pg 174). It is at odds with signifiers, disrupts signifiers in a variety of ways.

-can not be specularized. It falls away in the visual field.


Toward the end of Freud’s career – he noticed that analysis goes on forever, there is no end. Longer and longer until they cum, it is sort of a life-time thing. This might be because the neurotic can never come to terms with something – the rock of castration. The neurotic can never integrate castration. It seems that Lacan is trying to think something beyond castration.


Two terms appearing in Lacan’s discourse:


desire -> jouissance



Desire and law are identical.

Desire is endless metonymy that never finds its objects or final terms. Desire pertains to dimension of symbolic.


Now Lacan is articulating another dimension, jouissance – which is not desire. This is counter-intuitive. Lacan seems to think that the symptom has a dual structure:


  1. symptom as signifier (can be resolved through interpretation). Once symptoms have been put into speech, the speech can replace the symptom. The symptom is something that was trying to speak. We have the speech we don’t need the symptom any longer.
  2. He is increasingly recognizing the other dimension of the symptom, jouissance. Freud always emphasized this. Symptom is a form of enjoyment.


Repression always comes with return of repressed.


Lacan increasingly comes to recognize that in addition to the SIGNIFYING dimension[desire] of the symptom, there is an enjoyment, jouissance, which is not of the order of the signifier, but is a remainder.


Gaze, voice, faeces, breast, phallus – which objet a? Objet a within the symptom, as jouissance.


It is not enough to resolve the symptom in the signifier. If we work at the level of the signifier the treatment/analysis becomes infinite. There is no final signifier, this is why, there is no final signifier in the order of the symbolic or the order of language.


AND SO: The subject’s relation – in the course of analysis – to objet a must be transformed during the course of analysis. The subject must enter into a new relationship with objet a over the course of analysis.


Benjamin: is this traversing the fantasy?


Levi: it could be. The end of analysis opens up along two paths: (1) is identify with the symptom – that which repeats endlessly, (2) believing in the symptom, the path to be avoided, belief that there will be a secret of being revealed – remaining at the level of the signifier.


Michael: Jouissance – is it lost? What jouissance is the subject defending against? Against his or her own? Against the jouissance of the Other?


Pleasure and Jouissance are two different things. Sem. 7, on the ethics, Lacan equated pleasure principle with symbolic order. Reduction in tension for Freud. Pleasure is what we experience when a build up of tension is reduced, when we no longer suffer from build up. Displacement of build up in the neuronal system. Jouissance by contrast is closer to death drive. It repeats itself, it asks for more. It is experienced as unpleasurable. It is polyvalent term in Lacan’s teaching. Difficult to pin down.


What Lacan says about hysteric – desire is a desire to sustain itself. Hysteric’s desire is desire for unsatisfied desire. Obsessional, impossible desire. Both positions are working to practically avoid jouissance. Jouissance is what they don’t want to take place.


Judith: desire could also be on the left with desire, on symbolic, in ven diagram. On the right could be the drive, so it tends to be drive that’s related to jouissance. My understanding, to answer Michael, the idea is that the baby as a physical being has a great deal of jouissance. Gradually that jouissance is extracted – jouissance is dropped in favor of language and desire. Which is working under the pleasure principle. By the time you are a teen or adult, all of jouissance is located in the genitals – jouissance in the body, whole body was excitable, is now localized in the genitals. Jouissance is – clinically – pleasure to the point of pain. Everybody wants excitement and passion – they get so much that they detroy their lives. If they seek too much jouissance it pulls their lives apart.




in jouissance, the subject fades or dissappears.


We need to distinguish between Joui of subject and Joui of Other (page 46, Polity). “What the neurotic shrinks from is not castration…” Castration can be a relief. Somewhere there is Joui and not necessarily in the subject.


Judith: when a mid-aged man and talks about the rel to his mother, whom he is avoiding but also seeking. Obliged to help her and keeps track of her. He can see that she is a worried state all the time. Controlling, manipulating him, demanding of him.. so on. He can see that he is giving her joui, she is the one with the joui and he comes to therapy and tries to get that experience into language and face her again. So intense when with her that he loses his language and gets caught up in joui.


Patient feels reduced to her joui.


Judith: psychotic is completed submitted to demand of Other but can’t describe it. Neurotic is somehow outside it.


Judith: He is her objet a. She wants to eat him up. His subjectivity is disappearing, trying never to get eaten up. He tries to retaliate.


Page fifty-three: “don’t you know that it’s not longing for the maternal breasts but its immanence..” Lacan seems to suggest that we don’t suffer from separation anxiety. But that separation is a kind of relief. “What promotes anxiety is everything that …”


Mother’s overwhelming presence. Lack of Lack. There needs to be a stopper that brings about distance.


Judith: Freud and mainstream analysis is about loss of the object, loss of love of object. Lacan’s insight is that we are worried about being eaten by or managed or looked at by the Other. The ways in which we are used as the objet a for the Other person. That is when anxiety comes. This contradicts Freud’s idea of loss as the main source of anxiety.


Pg fifty-four: Experience teaches that prohibition is temptation. Anxiety is not about loss of object but its presence. The objects are not missing. Lacan suggests that anxiety is not without an object. The presence of an object. Page 61: third paragraph. Lacan says – one wonders why analysts have taken little interest in it…


objet a = object cause of desire


Lot of confusion with object cause of desire – it is not agalma, object of desire.


Objet a is behind desire.


Zizek on the German Kinder Egg: it is the objet a. Well, that’s not objet a, it is agalma. It is not something that you desire, it is cause of desire.


The shine off of a woman’s nose. That wasn’t what he desired – it was what caused his desire. This shine is gaze in this instance, it evokes the gaze. The main desires is not the shine on the woman’s nose


objet a -> desire -> object desired [In that order!]


Judith: in clinical case, it could be the shine of the woman’s nose could end up with the breast. It could represent the objet a of the breast, and there is something about that shine on the nose that keeps him attracted to her …


It is not true that any time we get objet a we get anxiety. That’s not true. It is an instigator, a stain, a shine on a nose as breast or gaze, beauty mark.. that drives the person, not as a signifier, but drives as toward something. On other hand, we have this other thing. The presence of objet a – the notorious passage we’ve all been debating about: anxiety-point. When the objet a becomes present that is when the signal or anxiety-point manifests itself, that the lack is lacking. This is a surprising thesis.


Lack lacking passage is page 42. Why is lack lacking the point of anxiety. Reference to uncanny is illuminating as well. Vol. 17 of Freud’s standard edition, in a footnote, on page 248. He gives this example of a lack lacking. Doubles as instances of the uncanny, he describes his own experience. Face before him is his own … intruder was his own reflection in the looking glass. Freud thoroughly disliked his appearance. He failed to recognize himself.


He sees himself as somebody he doesn’t want to identify with – encounters himself as Other. Lack Lacking – what is lacking in this example from Freud? What has become present that should normally be absent?


Michael: The gaze?


Levi: the image we identify with. We encounter our double as our selves, we see ourselves through the gaze of the Other. Something normally off-stage, out of the picture, and this becomes anxiety-point with respect to gaze.


- discussion -


Lacan is carrying out a critique of Hegel. Hegelian desire of Other is at the level of the imaginary. Struggle between master and slave, I get double to desire and submit to me. Lacan’s desire of the Other refers not to the mirror image but to this symbolic system which usurps be in all sorts of ways and can never be totalized. Desire of big Other.






The Port of Access – and “lack of lack”

A S (Jouissance)
a Ø (anxiety)
$ (desire)


Within Lacan’s table of long division: he places anxiety between Jouissance and desire. If it is in the middle it is not because it mediates between desire and jouissance but rather because it must be passed through. One can not do otherwise but pass through the field of anxiety. This is why Lacan refers to it as the “port of access”. Here, anxiety seems to connect it with two lacks. There is a lack in the Other (the barred O) and a lack in the subject (objet a).

From the position of desire ($) we use the port of access to arrive at fantasy. Thus, the matheme of fantasy expresses: $<>a (the barred-subject faces objet petit a). At this point we can not admit the thesis that the objet a is that which we avoid. Rather, we must admit that it is that which we must deal with. And so fantasy is one way of facing it. Another is jumping off stage, passage a l’Acte.  It is for this reason that objet a, in seminar 10, seems to have two faces. It is the mobius strip. It is, that which we can not face, or, avoid, and yet that which we must deal with nonetheless. The objet a is a port of access and not solely that which we avoid.

A lot of seminar X seems to deal with obsessional neurosis. And what the obsessional neurotic can not bare is that he or the Other is lacking. The obsessional’s fundamental problem, we are told, has to do with the problem of the *is*: the obsessional is not. His question concerns being itself. And so imposture has to do with being where there is lack of being. It seems to me that it is only the pervert who confronts anxiety as a lack of lack – his attempt is to make lack appear. And he does this by bringing the Other (or himself) to the anxiety-point.

And so anxiety arises here in a confrontation with lack and not, as it were, with lack of lack. This is something I’m struggling with because I can not find any support for the thesis of lack of lack. For example, on page 234 of Seminar X, Lacan says: “The anxiety-point lies at the level of the mother. In the child, the anxiety of the mother’s lack is the anxiety of the breast drying up. The locus of the anxiety-point does not merge with the locus at which the relation to the object of desire is established.” So here it seems clear that it is not when there is a lack of lack, namely, an overburdening presence of the breast, but rather, when the child realizes that the breast could suddenly stop working/providing. This is not to claim that anxiety occurs from separation – but from the ambiguity of objet a itself. The same occurs in the case of the homosexual woman. It is not the over-presence of the father’s gaze which provokes a passage a l’acte but rather the very ambiguity of the gaze – no? On page 236 we see that Lacan claims that the anxiety-point “lies at the level of the Other.” So this gives more support to my thesis that anxiety resides in a privileged domain – the domain not of objet a specifically, but of the lack in the Other.