Three Points: Philosophical, Psychoanalytical, and Mystical

Today I find a shared truth among four traditions of thinking: Lacanian, Badiouan, Masonic, and Islamic. More broadly, I would say that this is a truth shared among psychoanalysis, philosophy, and mysticism.

I begin with Lacan.

Lacan claimed that the real can only be taken in in ‘bits,’ that is, point by point. The symbol “<>,” which finds itself between each of the two terms of many Lacanian mathemes, is named a “punch” (from the French “poincon”). The original French word has some relation to the word “point” in English. This makes sense given the context of the Borromean knot: there where two rings are brought together, at the point of intersection, is what Lacan names a “point.” Thus, in the twenty-second seminar, Lacan said: “There is nonetheless a way to defne what is named a ‘point’, namely, that it is something strange, which Euclidean geometry has not defned […] A point within Euclidean geometry has no dimension at all, zero dimensions. It is contrary to the line […] [which has] one, two, three dimensions. Is it not, in the defnition given to us of a point from Euclidean geometry, that which intersects two straight lines?”

Interestingly, if we separate the French root word for “point” from “poincon” we are left with “con,” which means any number of things, including: “cunt,” “asshole,” “shit,” “prick,” and even “bloody.” We are here dealing with the rims of the erogenous zones (e.g., asshole), as well as objects of those zones (e.g., shit). I can not provide a full account of the punch within Lacanian mathemes. In a sense, I am using it in a fairly restricted way to imply ‘is in some relation with’ (e.g.,‘Object is put in some relation with Object’). However, I do want to point out that a punch represents the possibility of at least four relations for Lacan, including envelopment (‘>’), development (‘<’), disjunction (‘∧’), and conjunction (‘∨’).

A point must be that which from within infnity folds back upon itself, as if by two strings overlapping one another, or as if by one string overlapping itself, so as to produce a buckle within the plane of infnity itself, and so as to establish, in the case of Euclid, an entire system of transcendental geometry. Recall that the frst defnition in Euclid’s Elements, which, it should be mentioned, was preceded by absolutely nothing, was the following: “a point is that which has no part.” An entire system of philosophy, of mathematical geometry, was founded upon a single point. Here we could even claim that the Euclidean concept of a point is not altogether different from Badiou’s notion of a point. Badiou has claimed that:

A point in a world is something like a crucial decision in existence: you have to choose between two possibilities [and only two possibilities]. The first one is completely negative, and will destroy the whole process of a truth […] The second one is completely affirmative, and will […] clarify the truth […] But we have no certainty concerning the choice. It is a bet. A point is the moment where a truth have to pass without guarantee.

If the entire Euclidean geometry was built off of the notion of a point, a concept which has no ground, finds itself to be dimensionless, and serves as the symbolic foundation (S1) of everything which followed it, then, with Badiou, we could think that it was a wager, a choice, a bet, which secured for thousands of years a ground for philosophical and mathematical thought. With the point we have to make a decision: to remain ignorant of the geometric laws which were so important to the craftsman and philosophers of the time, or to take a leap to faith and assume the point as foundation. Thus, a point has at least two defnitions: frst, it is represented topologically as the intersection of one string over itself, or of one string over another, and; second, it is understood as a decision to remain true to something which has yet no proper existence in the world of thought.

yod-in-a-triangle

Within Masonic thought we often refer to “yod,” in fact it is one of the principal logos on our Scottish Rite rings. Mackey claims:

[Yod is] initial letter of the word Jehovah, the Tetragrammaton, and hence [it] was peculiarly sacred among the Talmudists. Basnage, while treating of the mysteries of the name of Jehovah among the Jews, says of this letter: the yod in Jehovah is one of those things which eye hath not seen, but which has been concealed from all mankind. Its essence and matter are incomprehensible; it is not lawful so much as to meditate upon it.

Man may lawfully revolve his thoughts from one end of the heavens to the other, but he cannot approach that inaccessible light, that primitive existence, contained in the letter Yod and indeed the masters call the letter thought or idea, and prescribe no bounds to its efficacy. It was this letter which, flowing from the primitive light, gave being to emanations. It wearied itself by the way, but assumed a new vigor by the sense of the letter t which makes the second letter of the Ineffable Name.

In Symbolic Freemasonry, the god has been replaced by the letter G. But in the advanced Degrees it is retained, and within a triangle, as in the illustration, constitutes the symbol of the Deity.

Here we have an approach toward a profound truth, once again. The Yod, which is a point with a bit of a tapered off tail attached to it, is the beginning of the symbolic word.

alif-letter-chart

Similarly, in the Sufi tradition there has been extensive thought put into the ‘mystery letters’ of the Qur’an. These are frequently referred to as “Muqatta`at” or the “disconnected” or “disjoined” letters. The significance of the letters are unknown to readers of the Qur’an, and we are not permitted to have a dogmatic attitude when we speculative about them. However, we may speculate. The founder of the Baha’i Faith wrote a commentary on those letters, in which he stated that Allah cried: “O Pen! Set down the mysteries of pre-existence upon the Perspicuous, Snow-White Tablet.” The pen then weeps tears and stands up “between the hands of G-d,” and “there appear[s] within its tears a black hue.” This black hue forms a drop and falls onto the Tablet. He continues, “whereupon the Point [is] made manifest in the world of origination.”

What happens next is rather incredible. After the point, there formed the Alif – the Alif is, if you look at it closely, remarkably similar in form to the Hebrew Yod. You might even claim that they are essentially the same character.

Thus, through three traditions, or four bodies of thought, a shared truth exists. The question I find myself asking is the following: is it possible to work through these traditions to reveal the way in which they share fundamental understandings of the process of a truth? My belief is that only philosophy can articulate this, only psychoanalysis can produce this, and only mysticism can experience this.

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One thought on “Three Points: Philosophical, Psychoanalytical, and Mystical

  1. see also ‘it for bit’ by john wheeler (one of the founders of the atomic bomb, and I saw him speak when he was like 92—great lecture, but politically reactionary) or ‘laws of form’ g spencer brown (a sort of wack book but has some good ideas and a few real mathematicians take the wheat from the chaff).

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