What is a Calling?

Within Christianity, and, more specifically, Lutheran faiths, what exactly is a calling? I am not convinced that it is purely and simply a vocation. The problem is that in America the vocation became synonymous often with “the grind,” the “9 to 5,” or, rather, with the uncritical pursuit of capitalist exploitation.

What Martin Luther teaches, it seems to me, is that a Calling has something to do with work. Luther emphasized perseverance in the face of difficult work. But what is this work? And what does this work have to do with a Calling?

I am increasingly convinced that a Calling involves the pursuit of a question, and the hard work of coming to answer that question.

Today, for example, I was writing a lecture on Sigmund Freud for an introductory undergraduate class. I was struck by the fact that Freud gave up at one time the opportunity to continue lecturing on neuropathology in order to focus on his personal researches. This, to me, is the definition of a Calling. A Calling is a persistent question that interrupts the functioning of the capitalist work ethic, it is a pesky question for which you are willing to do the long and difficult work of risking an answer that has hitherto been without formulation in the world.

For a Calling — a vocation — you are willing to risk it all. It is not necessary that you risk it all, but you are more than willing to do so.

In my book Lacanian Realism, I argued that the human animal is defined essentially and fundamentally by his or her question. There is the question of hysteria: “what am I to you?” And there is the question also of obsession: “can I master death?” These are the minimal questions which open up an epistemic limit in the world as it exists.

These are the questions for which we will labour endlessly.


No Sex Please, We are Queer!

The title of this blog post is meant to be provocative. There is something strange going on in America, and this is especially so within Grand Valley State University. What I notice is the following: the word “Queer” has been reduced to an identity — to the Ego — alongside a range of other identities. Thus, sexual orientation and and sexual identity are being used as an attempt to cork the Real of sex.

I understand Sex as Real, that is, as impossible. Queer, which once was an attack on homogeneous identity-based thinking (see, for example, American intersectionality, which, in its historical formation, was an attack on the homogenous identity of “female”; it was the universalist pretensions of the liberal, middle class, feminist movement). Today “Queer” is a signifier that is quite accepted on American campuses, in American culture. Yet, it is also, at the same time, a site of profound struggle against an anti-Queer culture.

Yet, I maintain that there is a secret solidarity between Queer activists in America and anti-Queer bigots. And, if Queer activists are going to have the upper hand in this battle against their oppressors they will have to rethink, fundamentally, the concept of sex.

At the university library last week there were signs celebrating Queer sexuality. Yet, on the third and fourth floors there were also condemnations of “Sex.” For example, there was an interactive display, with whiteboard markers. The question asked to the public was: “What uplifts you?” My wonderful wife wrote “Sex” with a black whiteboard marker. While all of the other responses remained on the window, “Sex” was erased within a few hours. And Why? My wife was puzzled, and so was I.

We want to know nothing about “Sex.” All the other responses: “talking with friends,” “watching television,” “shopping,” are all sexual activities. Remember, Alenka Zupancic made this point very well in the introduction to her brilliant new book What is Sex?: talking is sexual activity. Sublimation is itself sexual activity.

We are happy to conduct ourselves sexually in conversation, in shopping, and so on, so long as we know nothing about the impossibility of sex. We do not want to confront sex itself as a topic because it would be too direct, too traumatic.

So, in American, we erase the impossibility of sex and replace it with the commodity form.

ibn Khaldun – Notes from Forward

ibn Khaldun is beginning to discuss the problem with the history of Tradition. We can not be sure of its truth. History is better understood as a branch of philosophy. If we want to get at truth then we need to be prepared to not blindly repeat Traditional accounts/narratives of history (pg. 5).

But the truth persists: “no one can stand up against the authority of truth, …”

There are reporters and there are critical thinkers. Reporters merely repeat the truth and pass it on. Critical thinkers have insight that can sort out the hidden truth; “it takes knowledge to lay truth bare and polish it…”

Critical thinkers are capable of replacing all of what was written down in Traditional historical narratives with “their own works.”

ibn Khaldun – Lacanian/Badiouian Notes 1

I am reading through the Muqaddimah (Rosenthan) again, but this time with more attention to the topic of discourse as social bond. I am going to actively compile notes. This will not be of any interest to anybody other than me. So please ignore.

Bruce B. Lawrence writes in hs introduction to the 2005 edition with Columbia University Press that:

  • khaldun incessantly marked himself as different. he did this because he was born already in movement. he was always travelling, literally and metaphorically. Relate to Simmel – the “stranger” on the periphery of the social bond. Social Geometry. Like the stranger, khaldun expressed difference/distance always “within limits” (ix).
  • khaldun distinguished himself also in his clothing. For example, while he was a judge in Cairo, he continued, nonetheless to wear Maghribi robes (North African) instead of the lighter robes of Egyptian Judges. This was presumably something that set uncomfortably with most, but it nonetheless demonstrated faithful Islamic roots, though not necessarily that he was submissive to Egyptian rule.
  • His thesis was “that civilization is always and everywhere marked by the fundamental difference between urban and primitive, producing a tension that is also an interplay between noman and merchant, desert and city, orality and literacy” (x).
  • ibn Khaldun was oriented in “adab,” which is literature but it also means urbanity, letters, good manners. Incidentally, Lawrence chooses to retain the original arabic, but in a footnote observes that it is equal to a french word, perhaps, “litterateur,” a person who is knowledgable and interested in literature. Lawrence writes: “I litterateur is attentive to words [and ibn Khaldun was an “adib”], to their expression in both speech and writing but above all, to their polyvalence. Words can mean many things in different times, places, and contexts. Though this may seem like a truism today, it was far from acceptable knowledge or the dominant outlook, even among the notables whom ibn Khaldun knew and whom he engaged in dsicussion or debate” (xi).
  • ibn Khaldun was especially concerned with poetry and prose. He wanted himself to become a poet.
  • “ibn Khaldun write as he taught” “he propounded novel ideas that he both documented and qualified.” (xiii).
  • Much later in the Muqaddimah, ibn Khaldun finally gets to naming a logic that pervades his book: a distinction between “khabar” (Event) and “hadith” (Tradition). Lawrence — and Rosenthan, the translator of the Muqaddimah — choose to capitalize the first letter of each throughout the whole book to give each word the status/dignity of a concept. [Badiou link, Tuche link]
  • Rosenthan translates `asabiyah as “group feeling.” However, others argue that it is the social bond as well as that which breaks the social bond. Does this not imply that it is discourse? Since discourse establishes itself only as semblance, that is, on the lack of a relation. (xv) In any case, Lawrence does use the word “glue” or “binding” element.
    • This is a case of “ambivalent” (not “ambiguous”) language that characterizes ibn Khaldun.
  • movement from orality/primitivism (badawah) to writing/civilization (hadarah). Movement from speech and habit to writing and craft.
  • Lawrence claims that ibn Khaldun made “stipulative definitions” the hallmark of his work (xvii). For example, ibn Khaldun writes: “It should not be thought that the establishment of word meanings falls under the category of word definitions. A definition indicates (the meaning of) a given idea by showing that the meaning of an unknown and obscure word is identical with the meaning of a clear and well-known word. [word-to-word relationship; imaginary axis transmission] Lexicography, on the other hand, affirms that such-and-such a word is used to express such-and-such an idea. The difference here is very clear.” What is the difference? It is that the latter is the introduction of a new meaning, in some sense, the invention of a meaning. It seems almost metaphorical, while the other is metonymical in logic.
    • judgment, use of the intellect, occurs when one attests to a meaning in the latter way. “Knowledge of the conventional meanings in general is not sufficient …” writes ibn Khaldun. Conventional meanings is without judgment, it is not the sort of thing a “judge” does. Recall also Simmel’s claim that the stranger makes the perfect judge.
  • Major lexical term is khabar, Event. (xviii) Event versus Tradition. Both are important for khaldun. Event can be “proven or disproven by independent inquiry” (xviii).
  • Event also takes on a sense of being “outcome” or “consequence” or “sequal” (xix).
    • Event occurs in the “first instance” or social organization, within badawah or “desert civilization”. This “sets the stage for what follows” : the emergence of “world civilization” (`umran) “through sedentary or urban civilization.”
  • The interplay is also between “Arab” and “non-Arab” in the making of “world civilization.”
  • Tradition is a report that comes out of persons of integrity … a model of civilization is produced as a consequence.
    • where does the “normative” tradition come from? Abdallah Laroui writes: “the normative draws its sense solely from itself, while the account, which is indicative, draws its sense both from itself and from an external fact which corresponds to it.” This is fascinating – Badiou’s event doesn’t quite work like this, does it? His event leaves a trace from within itself. Here the trace must be a touch from the world — meeting the real. This is much more Lacanian — since, as Miller puts it somewhere, it is a miracle that we respond to the real but also a miracle that the real responds to us!
      • Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi:
        • “There is no way for us to obtain knowledge of the divine laws … except through the report of the Prophet …There is also no way for us to have knowledge of the sayings of the prophet …, except by receiving reports which go back to him by successive links and transmissions, whether they are in his words; or they are interrupted Traditions whose transmission was verified by a group of the Companions and the Successors … and in our time there is no way to receive these reports except to follow the literature written in the science of Tradition.” (xxi-xxii).
  • Event as an ancillary part of Tradition scholarship (xxiii)
    • indicating the “surplus of meaning that he wanted to impart to the study of human social organization or the history of world civilization.”
  • affirms both Tradition and Event.

From Margin to Centre

From bell hooks, on the sexual relation, and on feminist movement more generally, there is the push: “from margin to centre.” Indeed, this was the subtitle of one of her most important books.

This social geometry is found in numerous other thinkers, such as, for example ibn Khaldun (from the desert/nomadic society toward the sedentary/civilization) and Georg Simmel (from the stranger and into the social group).

Yet, when it comes to the social relation, it seems to me, it is better to take the Lacanian position: “from center to absence.” It is indeed between the phallic function and the real that woman finds herself within sexuation.

The margin is therefore better understood as “objet petit a.”

Thus, hooks logic, transposed into the Lacanian system, implies a movement toward the phallus. It denotes perfectly the movement from ~La to Phi of the sexuation.

Hypertranslation: LACAN SEMINAR XIX, 8 March 1972

Lacan begins by reminding us of our focus: it is a discussion of the “One,” and so, for some reason he says that we must discuss the “Other.” Is the “One” therefore on the side of the “Other”?

Lacan recalls a conversation with a Marxist —  no doubt one of those staunch atheistic Marxists who, instead of examining the structure of power begins with the moral posturing of an atheist — whereby the Other can *only* be understood as God. This implies for Lacan that the Other is not necessarily God, although, God may be Other.


The Other is always also the Other of sexuation. This is why the signifier of the Other is barred, written with a line through the capital “A”: s(~A).

Jouissance always comes from the Other. It can come from no other place.

The existence of God is ineffable, within signification.

Jouissance does not come from the Other, sexually. In other words, we do not get sexual enjoyment from the Other (because there is no sexual relation).

Lalingua (the language, all as one word) is resistant to sexual enjoyment from the Other.

We derive enjoyment, jouissance, from the Other mentally (and not sexually).

S(~A) – it is the negation of the Other through the signifier: it is the same as saying that we derive jouissance from the Other mentally. This is also a way of writing something about the Other. It is because the Other vanishes — because the Other does not exist — that there can be a relationship written. One of the ways that we write the relationship is through the formal writing of the four discourses.

It is because the Other has to be emptied for it to be written mentally that it is not an idealism that Lacan is putting forward. It is quite different from the following position from George Berkeley: nothing of what is thought is thought unless by someone.

Jouissance comes from the Other, but not sexually. It comes mentally. But then Lacan says that jouissance comes only from your fantasies. Does this imply that the Other is in fact nothing but fantasy? Or is it that jouissance comes mentally to be written as fantasy because of the inexistence of the Other?

And then Lacan makes this even more difficult: “what is important is that your fantasies derive jouissance from you.” I’m not sure what this means: perhaps it means that the ideas — the signifiers — gather credibility because they are absorbed in your jouissance as an Other.


Lacan claims that Idealism asserts that there are nothing but thoughts (mentally). lalingua involves a queue — a series — of thoughts. This is why we should perhaps take lalingua seriously.

So what is involved in lalingua:

  • not that I think thoughts (Idealist position);
  • not that one thinks thoughts and therefore exists (I think therefore I am);
  • for lalingua: it is importnat that these thoughts think themselves.

Now we return to the point which Lacan used to close section 1 of the class. The thoughts — perhaps this is the symbolic order of signifiers, the serial numbers of Frege’s arithmetic system — think themselves. And how? Most likely they do so unconsciously.

It is because of this finally point about lalingua that Lacan claims he is not an idealist but rather a “realist.”

But here Lacan counts himself a realist psychoanalytically, rather than philosophically. Lacan is a realist in psychoanalytic discourse, and, as if to imply a relation to philosophical discourse, reminds us that a discourse takes its reference always from another discourse.

Lacan begins to make some really provocative statements about the “S,” which is, without a doubt, the letter for “Signifier.” The “S” — which is also the Master Signifier — is the shape of a chair, and Lacan said that it couldn’t have been otherwise because we sit on that chair, or, rather, we sit on it because there is no Other sitting on that chair. And then he points also to Hogarth to described the S as a “line of beauty.”

So this imply, then, that the “S” — as signifier — is also an aesthetic, a mark of beauty — that there is something about it as semblance, as art?

The series of thoughts — of signifiers — is also a “tail,” which means that something REAL “produces this comet effect that I have called the queue de pensees …” This is implies, doesn’t it, that the agency of the real produces the signifier, pushes the signifier out, like a flame attached to a comet moving in space.

For psychoanalysis, says Lacan, if you can’t follow him in the claim that the repetition of the signifying chain is what grounds psychoanalysis then there is no psychoanalysis.

Lacan revisits some of his earlier claims about Descartes and about the Freudian thing. You can’t speak about das Ding, the Freudian thing. The thing itself speaks. And, moreover, I make the thing itself speak. The thing states: “I, truth, speak.” So, it speaks the truth and yet we only catch glimpses of the thing speaking, of its truth, in “conundrums.” So – when one writes the thing it is not me who is writing but the thing that writes.

There exists an x that is no submitted to the phallic function, means that there is one who is not expressible in language.


Man needs the existence of something that negates him for him to exist at All. This is clearly expressed in the formula for masculine sexuation:

Ex ~Phi(x) <–there exists an x that negates the phallic function
Ax Phi(x) <–all men are submitted to phallic function

Lacan makes some very clever expressions here about those who “sit” (a reference, I think, to the master signifier, S) in the psychoanalytic associations.  And then he finally quites blabbering to get to the point that “the sexual relation cannot be written.”

The One has two faces. And we know this because of woman. Woman is “between centre and absence.” This “between centre and absence” is a “second bar” that Lacan writes “not-all.”

Does this second bar imply that for man, the first bar, is between “all men are submitted to castration” and “there exists one who has access to jouissance” ? So, it is a bar between himself and the jouissance of the Other? Whereas, for woman, it is between herself — “not all woman are submitted to castration” (or, rather, women are not entirely submitted to castration) — and “there does not exist a woman who is not submited to castration” (i.e., she is, nonetheless, castrated).

The “center” then is the phallic function, and she is between the phallic function of castration and its radical absence.

“jouissabsence” = there where the jouissance is in the “absence” (without the phallic function of the Other, the at-least-one).


ibn Khaldun and sexuation

I had a brief telephone conversation with a friend today and, spontaneously, I came to the conclusion that ibn Khaldun’s work demonstrated a sophisticated awareness of the lack of sexual relation, or, moreover, of sexuation. Moreover, ibn  Khaldun (~1300) — always ahead of his time — was able to  demonstrate the structural logic of sexuation within the social bond.

I want to plot some reference points here only:

(ibn Khaldun)`asabiyyahh = the social bond
(Lacan) Discourse = the social bond

(ibn Khaldun) strong asabiyahh = sedentary population (moral order); center of social bond
(Lacan) masculine sexuation = phallus; symbolic castration

(ibn Khaldun)weak asabiyahh = nomadic population; periphery of social bond
(Lacan) feminine sexuation = the woman

(ibn Khaldun) distance separates sedentary population from periphery population
(Lacan) the real / lack of sexual relation between feminine and masculine positions

For ibn Khaldun the sedentary phallic position falls always into moral decline. Lacan called this “knavery,” because there is no hold on truth. The periphery population, more hysterical in structure, is on the side of truth – however foolish.

I don’t have time right now to develop this because of other work, so I’m just plotting some reference points here.



Hypertranslation: LACAN SEMINAR XIX, 3 March 1972

Lacan opens with a discussion of what I have elsewhere named the property of “borromean dependence:” the borromean knot/chain is such that if one ring is detached the other two will also, by necessity, become detached, and the whole thing will fall apart.

The question that Lacan is pursuing seems to be the relationship of language and logic to topology. Indeed, this is what I tried to show in a recent paper published (kindly and with a great amount of risk, no doubt) by PsychoanalysisLacan, titled “A Portrait of Baudelaire as a ‘Man of Genius’: Ordinary Psychosis within the Age of Modernity” (here). In that article I tried to show that the logical formulations of the oedipal metaphor indicate a borromean knot already – they already point toward a topological understanding. Minimally, this is discovered by noticing the way in which the parentheses are nested within the formula.

In any case, Lacan says: “Should language be broached in its grammer? — in which case, this is certain, it hinges on a topology.”

Topology, as defined by Lacan, is mathematical but it does not deal with “units.” This is a curious statement given the focus on Frege in previous classes, and, indeed, Frege’s focus on “units” in his Foundations of Arithmetic. Thus, topology insists that “it can be pulled out of shape.”

And then Lacan claims that the tetrahedrons from the previous class were actually links, circles, rings even. “Each of them was a closed and flexible circle that only holds fast when linked to the others.” What does this mean? The pentagram from the previous class probably makes this very clear: these are two interlocking tetrahedrons.

But we can see the topology of the rings most clearly by imagining the ternary structure of the initial triangle, and each vector or vertex as an interlocking ring.


There are a few paragraphs on taking language “on the basis of signifying combinatorics” or “semantics,” which I can not understand whatsoever. And then there is something important that I am missing about the problem of being compelled to take very different types of action under the heading of “verbs.” I hope that somebody can make this comprehensible for me.

In any case, Lacan is putting forward something original and inventive: language having its origin in a topological structure. And he finds this only by pursuing the discovery of the impossible sexual relation.

And then we get those two modalities of the “real” define so easily by Fink in his book The Lacanian Subject: there is the “first order” real and the “second order” real. Lacan rather asks the question of a new real. For so long the real was that which limited the symbolic. Now, we have the following question: “does the speaking being speak because of this something that happened to sexuality, or did this something happen to sexuality because he is a speaking being?” It seems to me that the question might also be phrase in the following way: “does the speaking being speak because of the impossible real of sexual relations, or does the impossible real of sexual relations occur because he is a speaking being?”

On the one hand, there is a question of the real arises as a consequence of the symbolic (the imposition of the name-of-the-father, if you like). On the other hand, there is a question of the symbolic (signifier, name of the father, etc) arising as a consequence of the real itself. I believe that both are correct, but the latter is probably more correct because it accounts for the origin of the name of the father as signifier.

And then Lacan makes his famous statement about Simone de Beauviour’s work in The Second Sex. He says:

She called me by phone to tell me that she would certainly need my advice in order to enlighten her as to what the psychoanalytic contribution to her book would be. As I remarked to her that it would take at least a good five or six months for me to unravel the question for her — which is a minimum because I’ve been speaking about it now for twenty-years, and this is not by chance — she announced that of course it was out of the question for a book that was already being finalized to have to wait so long, the laws of literary production being such that it seemed to her that having more than three or four consultations with me was impossible. Following which, I declined the honour.

The fundament of what I’ve been coming out with for a while now, since last year, is very precisely that there is no second sex.

This final statement is fascinating: it is that the woman does not exist. He continues, returning to the function of language, to state that it is from the moment that language begins to function that the second sex ceases to exist.

Lacan introduces his infamous formulae of sexuation:

Ex! Phi(x) [whereby ! indicates a negation]

Ax Phi(x)


!Ex !Phi(x)
!Ax Phi(x)

Lacan makes a clever statement about the biblical meaning of “know,” which, it seems to me, means “to have sexual intercourse with” (a verb, then, from genesis in the old testament).

This is an ontology, then, for Lacan, since he believes it states something fundamental about Being. He points to the Chinese who have “long called upon two fundamental essences that are respectively the feminine essence, which they call Yin, in opposition to the Yang, […] underneath.”


There is a sense in which the feminine and masculine essences have a “one to one” relationship which corresponds with number. It seems that there is a one to one form of coupling among the senses — the “soul to soul” encounter, which, Lacan derives from the animistic model.

Lacan goes on to call this model a “fantasy.” And it is this fantasy that repeats, and it repeats the unique encounter of the speaking being. And what does the fantasy do? It tries to conceal the function of language, which sexuates the beings: “the fantasy is there to say language does not exist.” The fantasy is also that there is a sexual relation, which, it seems, amounts to the same thing as saying that language does not exist. 

Thus, that language does not exist implies also that there is a sexual relation. Yet, these are both fundamental to the fantasy.

Lacan claims that when it comes to the sexual relation … the Other is “an emptiness.” But he qualifies this: “by means of something extra.” Thus, the Other is an emptiness by means of something extra. This “something extra” relates to the homophone Lacan next produces: “the Hun,” which sounds like “the One” in French.

Lacan claims that Socrates is a hysteric! Lacan simply points to the reports of his “cataleptic manifestations.” Which is an embodied symptom. And then Socrates is also responsible for sustaining a discourse that gave way to the discourse of science. And how? It was by bringing “the subject to the place of semblance.” I am not sure what this means … I presume it means that the subject, instead of being located in the real, comes to the imaginary. Thus, he places the subject in the position of phallic signifier who stands in the way of enjoyment. This would explain Lacan’s point that “he had to adjure her kindly to withdraw so as to allow his death to take on its full political signification.”

It is the analytic discourse — not the hysteric’s discourse — that is able to claim, finally, that there is no such thing as sexual relation. This implies, does it not, that Lacan believes himself to be beyond Socrates (the hysteric) in some way. And perhaps he was! Thus, when my friend asks me: “what is socrates to the capitalist discourse?” My answer, here, might be: “a capitalist!, and what is the analyst within capitalist discourse?” Socrates seems no longer to be the hero that he may have once been for Lacan.

The analyst discourse observes that there is no sexual relation but also that there is a “phallic function,” phi(x,y). And it is the phallic function that spells out clearly the point of exception: there is “one” of the two terms that is not typified by sexual relation. What does this mean? He links this expression also to the homophonic “hun,” there is one, hun, that is not typified by sexual relation: and it is the woman. The hun is not Male or Yin/Yang. It is an organ — but only through its function.

Lacan makes a claim in passing that helps us to understand the discourse of science. First, as I wrote above, Socrates gave way to the discourse of science by bringing the subject to the place of semblance. Second, the discourse of science inserts “language onto the mathematical real.” Does this not imply, at some level, that there was no foreclosure? When foreclosure is absent then the symbolic — language — returns in the real. This, at least, was the position Lacan spelled out decades earlier in his psychosis seminar (sem. 3).

Although it is true that we continue, within language, to spell out the relation of the sexes through the materials of language — signifiers — as “man” and “woman,” in their “one-to-one” relation, this is a “mirage” of language. It does not accurately refer to the being of man and woman. Analytic discourse therefore rejects the ancient writing of man and woman. Lacan remarks that even he too is writing these down, in a way, but only, finally, with recourse to topology. And this is different! His writing moves from logic toward topology – and this is crucial. There is a difference, then, in logic and in topology. Topology gives us something that logic keeps only as mirage, fantasy.

It is topology that allows us to focus on the “empty place” and to see it as operative already within logic(al discourse). Moreover, topology permits us to see how the “empty place” determines the argument itself. It was, once again, the “empty place” of zero as the non-identity with 1 that determined the logic of succession for Frege.

It is not the phallic function that makes the sexes different, since both men and women are subject to the phallic function.

There are within propositional logic four fundamental relationships: negation, conjunction, disjunction, and implication. But Lacan points to a limitation in propositional logic: the relationship of “negation” can not be sustained: negation is not only falsehood, it is not only all that is not true. Why? Because truth is what is not written (which is different from that which is falsely written, or, rather written falsely). It is what is not written that challenges the supremacy of the phallic function.

In the relationship of man to woman, one always stands as an obstacle to the other — to the relationship as such.

A woman cannot be castrated, thus !Ax Phi(x) (Not All x are submitted to castration).

Lacan has gone through negation a bit, but turns to conjunction. Conjunction is grounded upon the bringing together of two true propositions. But this, claims Lacan, is not what is permitted by his formulae: there can be no conjunction of sexuation, of sexual relation. Or, perhaps, sexual relation is the mirage of conjunction.

Similarly, disjunction can not be operative in his formulae either. Disjunction occurs when it is impossible for two propositions are false at the same time. Disjunction can not allow for two propositions to be false at the same time.  Lacan goes on to give proof that disjunction is not operative in his formulae – I have opted not to think too hard about this stuff.

We return for a moment to the relation of 1 to 0. It is the relation of the phallus to the not-all, and this is also the “at least one.” “There is at least one x, …” and “there does not exist an x” … is this correct?

There is feminine jouissance and phallic jouissance; feminine jouissance does not concern the phallic function, and this is how Lacan chooses, at this time, to define it. And Lacan claims that Tiresias disclosed feminine jouissance when he came back Theresa. Tiresias was a blind prophet of Apollo who transformed into a woman for seven years.

When !E(x) (top level of the feminine formulae of sexuation), there is the possibility of sexual relation. But here, when there is sexual relation the Other ceases to exist: the Other is absent. Why? Because the Other would be the obstacle to the sexual relation? Because the Other would be the barred signifier of the Phallus?

0 and 1 makes 2, but on the symbolic plane. And this is where existence takes root: in the symbol.

The speaking being is ungraspable — and all the more so because he requires the symbol to support himself: Phi.

Existence is not Being, then. This is the statement Lacan returns to …

-to exist depends upon the Other.

-but Being does not depend upon the Other.

What does this mean: “All of you here, from some angle or other, do indeed exist,  but when it comes to your Being, you’re not so tranquil.” It means, I think, that existence does not guarantee Being. 

Aristotle maintains that existence can in no way be established except outside the universal, Ax. So existence is particular, rather than universal. This particular, which is associated with existence, is related to the use of the word some. 

“Some x …” implies “there exists some x…” and this is a particular proposition.

Lacan informs us that this is formalized as a quantifier. Apuleius argued that whenever Aristotle used all and some, we are dealing with quantifiers, with issues of quantity. But Lacan contends that all and some are not actually quantifiers. Rather, they are “two modes of […] the incarnation of the symbol.” Thus, you can incarnate the symbol all of the time, or you may incarnate the symbol some of the time. Or, rather: some symbols or all symbols. 

Every language uses “alls” and “somes.” This is fascinating. It is for this reason that Lacan believes that all languages have a “common root.” I wonder if his is lalangue? It is possible since lalangue is the babbling of language. This makes all the more sense for me since Lacan says that the common root has to be “related to something that is not language.” The real seems to be the common root, in some way.

There is a gap between the 0 and the 1 within Frege’s system, and that is the non-relation, which is also, one might say, non-identity (as a principle). Lacan likens this to the ternary structure … but this time for mathematics.


On the “at least one,” it is the “name of the father.” But here Lacan makes a really nice move by saying that the name of the father is “supported by” the “at least one.” Thus, the name of the father does have the primacy of place that it used to have for Lacan.

AxPhix indicates that “every male is serf to the phallic function.” We see here a way of transposing the formulae of sexuation into Marxian analyses, or economic analysis. However, it is not so simple: it is not that only men are “serfs,” clearly. But women are “serfs” too, perhaps, but in their own way.


Global Warming & Lacan

I remember during my days as an undergraduate anarchist that I could get on board with accepting that most forms of oppression and exploitation do indeed exist: racial, gender, capitalist, and so on. I was at that time aware of the supposed issues of intersectionality. However, there was always one political agenda of the new social movements that I couldn’t get behind: nature.

I recall a former professor of mine, Gary Bowden, to give him his name, asking me, during a protest on campus, why I wasn’t an environmental activist. I remember saying to him that I could make the case that identities are socially constructed, the social construction of race, and so on, but I could not get behind the realist pretensions of the environmental movement.

Today, increasingly, I am beginning to find a way to navigate this terrain,

The Lacanian concept of the “real” helps to make sense of the current predicament. There are concerns, according to an article released today, that by 2030 there will be food shortages, droughts, etc.

And how did we get to this point?

We are living in a time when the symbolic returns, increasingly, within the real. The real of nature is actively being amputated in the same way that Lacan’s transsexual amputates the real organ, mistaking it for the symbolic organ. The symbolic — as Lacan once called it, the fabrications of human industry — has, because of a lack of political regulation, quilted by the state apparatus, returned with vengeance into the real of nature.

And it is castrating.

What is, then, the solution?

It is not to return to the state form (this can not be done anymore) as an appropriate quilting point. We must invent something new, invent a new solution to stabilize the chaotic real of nature.

Badiou’s name for that is “communism.”

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