Lalangue, Sinthome, Jouissance, and Nomination: A Reading Companion and Commentary on Lacan's Seminar XXIII on the Sinthome

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This reading companion and commentary on Lacan Seminar XXIII provides detailed analyses of Lacan's seminar while maintaining an overall continuity and consistency. This book does not purport to provide an exhaustive and systematic line-by-line reading of a very complex and varied seminar. Rather it selects key themes of Lacanian theory that are found present throughout his work. In addition, the book does not try to simplify Lacan's ambiguous style, leaving the text open to different interpretations, while providing theory, commentary, and lines of analysis into some of Lacan's important insights. Finally, this book is not about Joyce the writer, but more about the use that Lacan makes of Joyce. Its purpose is not to apply psychoanalysis to a literary subject, but rather to use the literary text to illustrate and develop psychoanalytic theory, and Lacanian theory in particular. It is an analysis of topology and language, or a linguisterie, as Lacan called it, for clinicians. The references to neurosis and psychosis are always there. However, a Lacanian clinic can also be of service to those interested in literary theory and/or social studies to develop theory within their own respective fields of studies.

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Introduction: The Relationship between Lacan's Seminar III on Psychosis and his Seminar XXIII on the Sinthome

ePub

The relationship between Lacan's Seminar III on psychosis and his Seminar XXIII on the sinthome

The unconscious, foreclosure, the question of Being, the signifier in the Real, are all terms that in one way or another are present in both seminars although they are twenty years apart.

In Seminar III (1955–1956), according to Lacan, the psychotic subject does have an unconscious. This contrasts sharply with the usual psychoanalytic notion that for the psychotic subject there is no repression and the unconscious is all manifest or predominates. In this formulation, repression and the reality ego that make the secondary process and cohesive speech possible, are both missing in psychosis. In the neurotic the unconscious is created through repression, but in psychosis repression fails. But for Lacan although there is no primary repression, in psychosis there is still another defence at play. In psychosis the unconscious is created through foreclosure.

 

Commentary on Sessions 1 and 2 of Lacan's Seminar XXIII

ePub

Wednesday 18 November 1975 and Wednesday 9 December 1975

Lalangue and sinthome

In the session of Wednesday 18th November 1975 Lacan calls the French language his lalangue. Lalangue, of course, refers to the language of the unconscious based on homophony (words that sound the same), and to the alliterations and obliterations of language that circle around the objet a as object of the drive, and the object cause of desire. Lalangue is the language of the One, and how the Real appears within language and not only in mathematical formalisation or jouissance.

At this point a similar equivocation arises between language and lalangue as between symptom and sinthome; both terms sometimes are used as similar and duplicate and sometimes as different.

This is an example of the division of one into two apparently identical terms that differentiate: S1 and S2. “What is proper to the signifier, which I called by the name of S1, is that there is only one relationship that defines it, the relationship with S2: S1–S2.” (Lacan, session 1 of Seminar XXIII). S1 stands for lalangue and for sinthome while S2 stands for language and the symptom.

 

Lalangue and Sinthome

ePub

Wednesday 18 November 1975 and Wednesday 9 December 1975

Lalangue and sinthome

In the session of Wednesday 18th November 1975 Lacan calls the French language his lalangue. Lalangue, of course, refers to the language of the unconscious based on homophony (words that sound the same), and to the alliterations and obliterations of language that circle around the objet a as object of the drive, and the object cause of desire. Lalangue is the language of the One, and how the Real appears within language and not only in mathematical formalisation or jouissance.

At this point a similar equivocation arises between language and lalangue as between symptom and sinthome; both terms sometimes are used as similar and duplicate and sometimes as different.

This is an example of the division of one into two apparently identical terms that differentiate: S1 and S2. “What is proper to the signifier, which I called by the name of S1, is that there is only one relationship that defines it, the relationship with S2: S1–S2.” (Lacan, session 1 of Seminar XXIII). S1 stands for lalangue and for sinthome while S2 stands for language and the symptom.

 

Commentary on Sessions 3 and 4 of Lacan's Seminar XXIII

ePub

Wednesday 16 December 1975 and Wednesday 13 January 1976

The untying and tying functions of the Real The definition of jouissance and the different types of jouissance

Lacan starts out by talking about the seriousness needed for analytic experience whether in sessions or in his seminar. He refers to this seriousness as something “senti-mental” by which he means the feeling or sentiment of an absolute risk, which is one of the ways he will refer to the Real as an experience.

In RSI (1976–1977b) Lacan argues that the Real appears in traces, strokes, or pieces that threaten our imaginary or symbolic sensibilities, the sense or senses through which we understand the world. At the same time those Real points or tips of the Real present the possibility of an absolute consistency rather than the relative consistency represented by the Imaginary.

The consistency of the Real and the Imaginary are homogenous to one another except that ordinarily we only know the consistency of the Imaginary. In visual perception the world appears as a saturated consistent whole. Nevertheless, the consistency of the Real “ex-sists” outside meaning while that of the Imaginary only exists. This “ex-sistence” of the Real with respect to the Imaginary is what lends the Real appearing within the Imaginary the connotation of the uncanny that manifests as a shock, an impact, a knock, or a stroke.

 

The Untying and Tying functions of the Real

ePub

Wednesday 16 December 1975 and Wednesday 13 January 1976

The untying and tying functions of the Real The definition of jouissance and the different types of jouissance

Lacan starts out by talking about the seriousness needed for analytic experience whether in sessions or in his seminar. He refers to this seriousness as something “senti-mental” by which he means the feeling or sentiment of an absolute risk, which is one of the ways he will refer to the Real as an experience.

In RSI (1976–1977b) Lacan argues that the Real appears in traces, strokes, or pieces that threaten our imaginary or symbolic sensibilities, the sense or senses through which we understand the world. At the same time those Real points or tips of the Real present the possibility of an absolute consistency rather than the relative consistency represented by the Imaginary.

The consistency of the Real and the Imaginary are homogenous to one another except that ordinarily we only know the consistency of the Imaginary. In visual perception the world appears as a saturated consistent whole. Nevertheless, the consistency of the Real “ex-sists” outside meaning while that of the Imaginary only exists. This “ex-sistence” of the Real with respect to the Imaginary is what lends the Real appearing within the Imaginary the connotation of the uncanny that manifests as a shock, an impact, a knock, or a stroke.

 

The Definition of Jouissance and the Different Types of Jouissance

ePub

Wednesday 16 December 1975 and Wednesday 13 January 1976

The untying and tying functions of the Real The definition of jouissance and the different types of jouissance

Lacan starts out by talking about the seriousness needed for analytic experience whether in sessions or in his seminar. He refers to this seriousness as something “senti-mental” by which he means the feeling or sentiment of an absolute risk, which is one of the ways he will refer to the Real as an experience.

In RSI (1976–1977b) Lacan argues that the Real appears in traces, strokes, or pieces that threaten our imaginary or symbolic sensibilities, the sense or senses through which we understand the world. At the same time those Real points or tips of the Real present the possibility of an absolute consistency rather than the relative consistency represented by the Imaginary.

The consistency of the Real and the Imaginary are homogenous to one another except that ordinarily we only know the consistency of the Imaginary. In visual perception the world appears as a saturated consistent whole. Nevertheless, the consistency of the Real “ex-sists” outside meaning while that of the Imaginary only exists. This “ex-sistence” of the Real with respect to the Imaginary is what lends the Real appearing within the Imaginary the connotation of the uncanny that manifests as a shock, an impact, a knock, or a stroke.

 

Commentary on Sessions 5 and 6 of Lacan's Seminar XXIII

ePub

Wednesday 20 January 1976 and Wednesday 10 February 1976

The name and sexuation The topology of true and false holes

For session 5 Lacan invites Jacques Aubert to give a presentation at the beginning of the seminar. Aubert was considered an expert on Joyce.

Building on the etymology of the word person in terms of “personat” that means to echo and sound through, Aubert reflects on the relationship between person and sound and the sound of the subject: “That or This speaks…”

He comments that in Joyce's writing everything can be understood as a voice-effect through the means of the mask of the person.

He gives the example of the father–son relationship and quotes an exchange from Joyce's Ulysses between Bloom and Rudolph who is supposed to be his father and to have been dead for eighteen years.

Rudolph emerges primarily as a sage or elder of Zion. He has the semblance of a sage of Zion. He feels the semblance of his son with the trembling claws of an old vulture, and speaks like a Jewish elder to the voice within the mask: “What are you doing here, in this place? Have you no soul? Are you not my dear son Leopold, the grandson of Leopold? Are you not my dear son Leopold who left the house of his father and left the god of his fathers Abraham and Jacob?” (Joyce, 1922, p. 416).

 

The Name and Sexuation

ePub

Wednesday 20 January 1976 and Wednesday 10 February 1976

The name and sexuation The topology of true and false holes

For session 5 Lacan invites Jacques Aubert to give a presentation at the beginning of the seminar. Aubert was considered an expert on Joyce.

Building on the etymology of the word person in terms of “personat” that means to echo and sound through, Aubert reflects on the relationship between person and sound and the sound of the subject: “That or This speaks…”

He comments that in Joyce's writing everything can be understood as a voice-effect through the means of the mask of the person.

He gives the example of the father–son relationship and quotes an exchange from Joyce's Ulysses between Bloom and Rudolph who is supposed to be his father and to have been dead for eighteen years.

Rudolph emerges primarily as a sage or elder of Zion. He has the semblance of a sage of Zion. He feels the semblance of his son with the trembling claws of an old vulture, and speaks like a Jewish elder to the voice within the mask: “What are you doing here, in this place? Have you no soul? Are you not my dear son Leopold, the grandson of Leopold? Are you not my dear son Leopold who left the house of his father and left the god of his fathers Abraham and Jacob?” (Joyce, 1922, p. 416).

 

The Topology of True and False Holes

ePub

Wednesday 20 January 1976 and Wednesday 10 February 1976

The name and sexuation The topology of true and false holes

For session 5 Lacan invites Jacques Aubert to give a presentation at the beginning of the seminar. Aubert was considered an expert on Joyce.

Building on the etymology of the word person in terms of “personat” that means to echo and sound through, Aubert reflects on the relationship between person and sound and the sound of the subject: “That or This speaks…”

He comments that in Joyce's writing everything can be understood as a voice-effect through the means of the mask of the person.

He gives the example of the father–son relationship and quotes an exchange from Joyce's Ulysses between Bloom and Rudolph who is supposed to be his father and to have been dead for eighteen years.

Rudolph emerges primarily as a sage or elder of Zion. He has the semblance of a sage of Zion. He feels the semblance of his son with the trembling claws of an old vulture, and speaks like a Jewish elder to the voice within the mask: “What are you doing here, in this place? Have you no soul? Are you not my dear son Leopold, the grandson of Leopold? Are you not my dear son Leopold who left the house of his father and left the god of his fathers Abraham and Jacob?” (Joyce, 1922, p. 416).

 

Commentary on Sessions 7 and 8 of Lacan's Seminar XXIII

ePub

Wednesday 17 February 1976 and Wednesday 9 March 1976

The proper name and nomination Topology and the sexual relation

Joyce attributes significance to the proper name (last name) and its transformations. Lacan states that for Joyce a name “can only take place as a nickname”, referring to the name “Dedalus” in Joyce's work. Going beyond the S1 requires the S2, the nickname or the pen name.

Lacan uses the terms signifier and subject interchangeably. “The signifier is what represents a subject for another signifier” (Lacan, 1961–1962, Seminar IX). Mark Twain the writer, for example, is what represents a subject for another signifier (Samuel Clemens). The pen name Mark Twain for Samuel Clemens occupies the place of the Other (S2) for the subject (S1). But since Samuel Clemens is representing a subject and is not the subject “itself”, the actual subject falls to a Real place “ex-sisting”, or non-existing between signifiers.

 

The Proper Name and Nomination

ePub

Wednesday 17 February 1976 and Wednesday 9 March 1976

The proper name and nomination Topology and the sexual relation

Joyce attributes significance to the proper name (last name) and its transformations. Lacan states that for Joyce a name “can only take place as a nickname”, referring to the name “Dedalus” in Joyce's work. Going beyond the S1 requires the S2, the nickname or the pen name.

Lacan uses the terms signifier and subject interchangeably. “The signifier is what represents a subject for another signifier” (Lacan, 1961–1962, Seminar IX). Mark Twain the writer, for example, is what represents a subject for another signifier (Samuel Clemens). The pen name Mark Twain for Samuel Clemens occupies the place of the Other (S2) for the subject (S1). But since Samuel Clemens is representing a subject and is not the subject “itself”, the actual subject falls to a Real place “ex-sisting”, or non-existing between signifiers.

 

Topology and the Sexual Relation

ePub

Wednesday 17 February 1976 and Wednesday 9 March 1976

The proper name and nomination Topology and the sexual relation

Joyce attributes significance to the proper name (last name) and its transformations. Lacan states that for Joyce a name “can only take place as a nickname”, referring to the name “Dedalus” in Joyce's work. Going beyond the S1 requires the S2, the nickname or the pen name.

Lacan uses the terms signifier and subject interchangeably. “The signifier is what represents a subject for another signifier” (Lacan, 1961–1962, Seminar IX). Mark Twain the writer, for example, is what represents a subject for another signifier (Samuel Clemens). The pen name Mark Twain for Samuel Clemens occupies the place of the Other (S2) for the subject (S1). But since Samuel Clemens is representing a subject and is not the subject “itself”, the actual subject falls to a Real place “ex-sisting”, or non-existing between signifiers.

 

Commentary on Sessions 9 and 10 of Lacan's Seminar XXIII

ePub

Wednesday 16 March 1976 and Wednesday 13 April 1976

The bladder and the lantern The outside meaning and the foreclosed meaning

Lacan in this session is looking for an easy way to approach Joyce, an “a-Joyce”, and “a-Freud”, and we could say an “a-Lacan”. The a in this case represents the privative a or a negative or a negation/symbolic castration in the sense of not being able to approach and understand the work.

At first we read Lacan and we don't see an easy way into the seminar. We read the words but do not understand. But at some point this non-understanding produces what Lacan calls a Real cool heat lantern that turns our understanding.

What is the easy way?

A straight line, another or a second straight line, and a third straight line that is bent or becomes a circle, in other words a Borromean knot.

The Real comes in bits. A bit (bout) piece of the Real and an interval of short duration. An instance/instant in no-time, a nanosecond or a no-second, or a gap between two moments.

 

The Bladder and the Lantern

ePub

Wednesday 16 March 1976 and Wednesday 13 April 1976

The bladder and the lantern The outside meaning and the foreclosed meaning

Lacan in this session is looking for an easy way to approach Joyce, an “a-Joyce”, and “a-Freud”, and we could say an “a-Lacan”. The a in this case represents the privative a or a negative or a negation/symbolic castration in the sense of not being able to approach and understand the work.

At first we read Lacan and we don't see an easy way into the seminar. We read the words but do not understand. But at some point this non-understanding produces what Lacan calls a Real cool heat lantern that turns our understanding.

What is the easy way?

A straight line, another or a second straight line, and a third straight line that is bent or becomes a circle, in other words a Borromean knot.

The Real comes in bits. A bit (bout) piece of the Real and an interval of short duration. An instance/instant in no-time, a nanosecond or a no-second, or a gap between two moments.

 

The Outside Meaning and the Foreclosed Meaning

ePub

Wednesday 16 March 1976 and Wednesday 13 April 1976

The bladder and the lantern The outside meaning and the foreclosed meaning

Lacan in this session is looking for an easy way to approach Joyce, an “a-Joyce”, and “a-Freud”, and we could say an “a-Lacan”. The a in this case represents the privative a or a negative or a negation/symbolic castration in the sense of not being able to approach and understand the work.

At first we read Lacan and we don't see an easy way into the seminar. We read the words but do not understand. But at some point this non-understanding produces what Lacan calls a Real cool heat lantern that turns our understanding.

What is the easy way?

A straight line, another or a second straight line, and a third straight line that is bent or becomes a circle, in other words a Borromean knot.

The Real comes in bits. A bit (bout) piece of the Real and an interval of short duration. An instance/instant in no-time, a nanosecond or a no-second, or a gap between two moments.

 

Commentary on Session 11 of Lacan's Seminar XXIII

ePub

Wednesday 11 May 1976

Two types of writing and ego function The knot of four in neurosis and psychosis

The Borromean knot must be written. Why? Because the knot as well as the signifier is a support for thought or for non-thinking or appensee (the a as a privative a). Writing is a doing which gives support for and precipitates thinking.

The Bo (Borromean) knot must be written in order to get something from it.

Lacan describes two types of writing:

Writing with the signifier and writing degree zero or in a state of erasure. It does not cease from being written and does not cease from not being written.

This is the characteristic of the NoF emerging from the Real as a unary trace. On the one hand a trace is written, on the other hand, the trace is a unary form of negation because it negates and erases what it negates. It is an affirmation that negates the unmarked or the Real by marking it with a trace or mark. The unmarked refers to the outside meaning, but also to the generation of pure desire and the object cause of desire that is both signified and negated at the same time. The NoF as Signifier, the phallus/objet a, and the desire of the mother as signified are written but they also wind back to something Real beyond signification. This Real does not cease from not being written and yet the signifier never stops writing it. What I am calling writing degree zero (following Barthes’ (1953) title), is the writing of the Borromean knot, that incorporates the unsayable into its structure.

 

Two Types of Writing and Ego Function

ePub

Wednesday 11 May 1976

Two types of writing and ego function The knot of four in neurosis and psychosis

The Borromean knot must be written. Why? Because the knot as well as the signifier is a support for thought or for non-thinking or appensee (the a as a privative a). Writing is a doing which gives support for and precipitates thinking.

The Bo (Borromean) knot must be written in order to get something from it.

Lacan describes two types of writing:

Writing with the signifier and writing degree zero or in a state of erasure. It does not cease from being written and does not cease from not being written.

This is the characteristic of the NoF emerging from the Real as a unary trace. On the one hand a trace is written, on the other hand, the trace is a unary form of negation because it negates and erases what it negates. It is an affirmation that negates the unmarked or the Real by marking it with a trace or mark. The unmarked refers to the outside meaning, but also to the generation of pure desire and the object cause of desire that is both signified and negated at the same time. The NoF as Signifier, the phallus/objet a, and the desire of the mother as signified are written but they also wind back to something Real beyond signification. This Real does not cease from not being written and yet the signifier never stops writing it. What I am calling writing degree zero (following Barthes’ (1953) title), is the writing of the Borromean knot, that incorporates the unsayable into its structure.

 

The Knot of Four in Neurosis and Psychosis

ePub

Wednesday 11 May 1976

Two types of writing and ego function The knot of four in neurosis and psychosis

The Borromean knot must be written. Why? Because the knot as well as the signifier is a support for thought or for non-thinking or appensee (the a as a privative a). Writing is a doing which gives support for and precipitates thinking.

The Bo (Borromean) knot must be written in order to get something from it.

Lacan describes two types of writing:

Writing with the signifier and writing degree zero or in a state of erasure. It does not cease from being written and does not cease from not being written.

This is the characteristic of the NoF emerging from the Real as a unary trace. On the one hand a trace is written, on the other hand, the trace is a unary form of negation because it negates and erases what it negates. It is an affirmation that negates the unmarked or the Real by marking it with a trace or mark. The unmarked refers to the outside meaning, but also to the generation of pure desire and the object cause of desire that is both signified and negated at the same time. The NoF as Signifier, the phallus/objet a, and the desire of the mother as signified are written but they also wind back to something Real beyond signification. This Real does not cease from not being written and yet the signifier never stops writing it. What I am calling writing degree zero (following Barthes’ (1953) title), is the writing of the Borromean knot, that incorporates the unsayable into its structure.

 



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