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«A Lacanian Answer to Alenka Zupančič’s article Sexual Difference and Ontology A Lacanian Answer to Alenka Zupančič’s article Sexual ...»

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Erörterung desjenigen Ortes, der Sein und Nichts in ihr Wesen versammelt » [ topology :

topologing that place which collects Being and Nothing into their essence ] (Zur Seinsfrage, in Gesamtausgabe, Band 9, p.412).

That is, the topology that comes into question in the fundamental ontology consists in topologing Being : to say the locality or the place of Truth of subject’s Being in the phenomenological structure of Truth of subject’s Being, so that Being ex-sists in the place

–  –  –

of Truth. This horizon is bounded by an edge. In his Séminaire about identification Lacan proposes us to formalize the edge of the place of the ex-sistent Being with edge of Möbius strip. Identification of edge of Möbius strip φ and edge of disc a forms a closed surface

–  –  –

Those figures of cross-cap are quoted from Wolfram Math World. Cross-cap is one of possible ways of immersion of real projective plane into three dimensional Euclidian space. What we must notice in those figures is this : if we remove from cross-cap the points constituting what appears as intersectional line, the resting surface can be reduced to a disc. That is, we can see in cross-cap how Being represented by Möbius strip φ is completely hidden by Being represented by disc a.

Such is the ontological topology of cross-cap Lacan proposed in his Séminaire of 1961to formalize the phenomenological structure of Truth of subject’s Being. We don’t need such confused metaphors as « the curving of the symbolic space of being » or « a singularly curved topological space which is named the Real » borrowed from Einstein’s

–  –  –

theory of gravitation.

3. Sexuality as desire Now let us discuss problem of sexuality.

Lacan says in his Séminaire XI what Freud calls sexual instinct is something like a montage or an artificial and arbitrary assembly of heterogeneous elements. That is, we cannot suppose any entity under Freud’s term of sexual instinct.

So let us try a demontage of the concept of sexuality : on one hand, sexuality as desire, and on the other hand, sexuality as sexualization.

In his Séminaire XI Lacan says : « le transfer est la mise en acte de la réalité de l’inconscient, en tant qu’elle est sexualité » [ transference is actualization of reality of the unconscious, as far as the reality of the unconscious is sexuality ] (pp.133 et 159). We add another quotation from Lacan’s article Position de l’inconscient written in 1964 at the same moment as his Séminaire XI : « L’attente de l’avènement de cette être [ qui réside en deça du bord möbiussien ] dans son rapport avec (...) le désir de l’analyste (...), voilà le ressort vrai et dernier de ce qui constitue le transfert » [ to wait for advent of the Being (remaining within edge of Möbius strip) in its relation with analyst’s desire is the true and

–  –  –

ultimate spring of what constitutes transference ] (Écrits, p.844).

The mathema of the structure of transference is that of the discourse of analyst :

–  –  –

in which supposition of knowledge S2 in the place of Truth of subject’s Being constitutes sujet supposé savoir [ subject supposed to know ] as condition of possibility of transference. This structure can be called discourse of analyst as far as a psychoanalyst can embody signifier a representing the place of Being.

What Lacan calls « la réalité de l’inconscient » [ reality of the unconscious ] is Being ex-sisting in the place of Truth. As the real is defined as ex-sistence, Being is the real that gives reality to formations of the unconscious, among which objects of passions are counted.

Thus sexuality defined as reality of the unconscious is Being itself.

–  –  –

a. Lacan calls such gliding of Being metonymia. And metonymia of Being is Lacan’s definition of unconscious desire : « le désir est la métonymie du manque à être » [ desire is metonymia of missing Being ] (La direction de la cure, in Écrits, p.623).

Thus sexuality as unconscious desire constitutes, in itself, the order of the real, and so far the problem of sexual difference has not yet come into question.

–  –  –

4. Sexuality as sexualization Now finally let’s examine Lacan’s formulae of sexualization. We could say they form ontological foundations of feminism.

I’d like to write them as follows :

Man : (x) (x)  (x) (x) Woman : (x) (x)  (x) (x) where the symbole “” is that of negation.

Those formulae can be integrated into the structure of four discourses, for to be a man and to be a woman are two modes to refuse the truth that there is no sexual relation (cf.

Séminaire XVIII, p. 176, where Lacan says « le refus de la castration » ). In other words, to be a man and to be a woman are two modes to answer to the demand of the Being [Anspruch des Seyns] in phenomenological structure of Truth of Subject’s Being.

The idea is besed on these remarks of Lacan in his Séminaire XVIII : on one hand, « si nous définissons l’hystérique par ceci – ça ne lui est pas particulier –, [ si nous définissons ] le névrosé [ en général ] par l’évitement de la castration, il y a plusieurs façons de l’éviter. L’hystérique a ce procédé simple, c'est qu’elle l’unilatéralise de l’autre côté, du côté du partenaire. Disons qu’à l'hystérique, il faut le partenaire châtré » [ if we

–  –  –

define hysterica by this – it’s not particular to her –, if we define neurotics in general by avoidance of castration, there are several ways to avoid it. A hysterica has this simple way, that is, she unilateralizes castration on the other side, i.e. on the side of her partner. I would say hysterica needs a castrated partner castrated ] (pp.174-175), and on the other hand, « le Totem et tabu, à savoir, ce qui met du côté du père la jouissance originelle, est quelque chose à quoi ne répond pas moins un évitement strictement équivalent de la castration.

Ce en quoi se marque bien ceci que l’obsessionnel, pour répondre à la formule (x) (x)... Comment l’obsessionnel se dérobe. Il se dérobe simplement de ne pas exister. (...) l’obsessionnel en tant qu’il est dans la dette de ne pas exister au regard de ce père non moins mythique qui est celui de Totem et tabou » [ to the way of Totem and Tabu – that is, to the way in which the original jouissance is put on the side of the Father – corresponds an avoidance of castration that is strictly equivalent to the hysterical one. In that way we can remark that an obsessional, to answer to the formula (x) (x)... How an obsessional escapes. He escapes simply by means of not existing. Obsessional is in debt of non-existence in regard to a no less mythical Father than that of Totem and Tabu ] (p.

177, quotations modified on the basis of a non-Millerian version).

We must notice that the formulae of sexualization presented in Séminaire XVIII are not exactly same as the definitive ones presented in Séminaires XIX, XX and some other articles of Lacan. In the passage quoted above, the formula (x) (x) of the masculin side formalizes negation of existence of the original Father in his sexual jouissance of all

–  –  –

the women (cf. Séminaire XVIII, p. 147). So we can say that the formula (x) (x) corresponds to that of the universal (x) (x) by which the paternal function (x) (x) is denied (Verleugnung), or that the formula (x) (x) corresponds to that of (x) (x) itself which formalizes the dead Father situated in his place of ex-sistence.

By the way I’d like to point out that on the page 177 of the Millerian version of Séminaire XVIII, we read : « l’obsessionnel se dérobe à la formule – il n’y a pas de x qui existe qui puisse s’inscrire dans la variable Φ de x » [ obsessional escapes from the formula (x) (x) ]. But, in fact, Lacan says : « l’obsessionnel, pour répondre à la formule (x) (x)... » [ an obsessional, to answer to the formula (x) (x)... ].

Because Lacan talks of avoidance of castration there, what an obsessional escapes is castration. And he escapes it by means of not existing, that is, by means of existing in the ex-sistent place of Being to play dead. So whether the formula (x) (x) of Séminaire XVIII may correspond to (x) (x) or to (x) (x) of the definitive formulae of sexualization, obsessional doesn’t escape from it, but he answers to it in order to defend himself by means of it.

Now I’d like to present these formulae :

Man :

Woman :

–  –  –

At first, so called pregenital phases are common to both of two sexes. They have same partial objects and same satisfactions of same partial instincts. Such pregenital jouissance

can be situated in the structure of discourse of analyst as pregenital discourse :

where plus-jouissance a as pregenital partial object is in the dominant place of agent.

If we think in an


way of symptom formations only, we could say that in order to terminate pregenital phases the master signifier S1 intervenes in the place of agent as symbolic father to repress plus-jouissance a to the place of production. So we are in the

structure of discourse of master :

And then happens what Freud calls return of the repressed. That is, plus-jouissance a repressed in the place of production comes back to the place of agent. That is what is called regression. So we are again in discourse of analyst that is now discourse of

–  –  –

But in this way we cannot think of sexualization problem. We must see how two ways of sexualization diverge starting from the same discourse of analyst as pregenital discourse : one of the two ways passes through discourse of master as discourse of father to get to discourse of university as discourse of obsessional we regard as discourse of Man [ le discours de L’Homme ], and the other way passes directly to discourse of hysterica we regard as discourse of Woman [ le discours de La Femme ].

–  –  –

4.1. On the side of Man Let’s begin with the side of Man.

Lacan says that « c’est au témoignage que l'obsessionnel apporte de sa structure, à ce qui du rapport sexuel s'avère comme impossible à formuler dans le discours, que nous devons le mythe [ freudien du Totem et tabou ] » [ we owe Freud’s myth of Totem and Tabu to witness obsessionals bear of their structure, to what turns out as impossible to formulate in discourse on the subject of sexual relation ] (Séminaire XVIII, p. 161). Lacan says also that « le meurtre du père est le substitut de la castration refusée » [ father killing is substitute of refused castration ] (Séminaire XVIII, p. 176) and that the signification of father killing is Bedeutung of phallus φ (cf. ibid., p. 177).

–  –  –

In the myth of killing the original father we can see that sons-slaves S2, all united, kill the father-master S1 to usurp his souvraine place, so that the father S1 is repressed to the ex-sistent place of Being that is also the place of death. Now the dead father exists in the ex-sistent place of Truth of subject’s Being φ.

Thus from discourse of analyst as pregenital discourse they pass through discourse of master as discourse of father to get to discourse of university. Here university means universitas, that is, totality of sons-slaves S2.

We have now in the place of agent-master the universal (x) (x). As far as it can be posed, we have a set such as { x | (x) }, so that the proposition « x is a man » is defined as this : x  { x | (x) }.

However what is the explicit form of the predicate (x) ? And if we pose a more elementary question, what is phallus ?

Lacan says : « la turgescence vitale, ce quelque chose d’énigmatique, d’universel, plus mâle que femelle, et dont la femelle elle-même peut pourtant devenir le symbole, voilà ce dont il s’agit dans le phallus » [ vital turgescence, something enigmatic, universal, more male than female, and of which a woman can nevertheless become symbol, that is what phallus is ] (Séminaire VI, p. 355).

Primo, phallus would be what realizes sexual relation. But this phallus φ is the signifier lacking in Other which is treasury of signifier and place of this lack at the same time (cf.

–  –  –

Séminaire VI, p. 34 and Écrits, p. 627). So it can not be written without being erased : φ.

This phallus φ, impossible signifier that doesn’t cease not to be written, is of the order of the real.

Secundo, ( − φ ), phallus defined by Lacan as « imaginary function of castration »

(Subversion du sujet et dialectique du désir, in Écrits, p.825), i.e. phallus as negatived

–  –  –

object a including phallus ( − φ ) (cf. Séminaire VIII, p.289) formalizes « l’ἄγαλμα, le trésor inestimable qu’Alcibiade proclame être enfermé dans la boîte rustique qui lui forme la figure de Socrate » [ ἄγαλμα, inestimable treasure Alcibiade proclaims to be included in the rustic box which formes Socrates’ figure for him ] (Écrits, p.825), or « telle est la femme derrière son voile : c’est l’absence du pénis qui la fait phallus, objet du désir »

[such is woman behind her veil : absence of penis makes her phallus, object of desire ] (ibid.).

Finally, Φ, « le phallus symbolique impossible à négativer, signifiant de la jouissance »

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