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Seminar XVII

From No Subject - Encyclopedia of Lacanian Psychoanalysis
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1969 - 1970 L'envers de la psychanalyse
The Reverse of Psychoanalysis

Lacan identifies four viables types of social bond which regulate intersubjective relations. Articulations of the symbolic network, the Four Discourses get structured throughout dramatic reflection: plus-de-jouir and jouissance; the master and the slave; Marx; knowledge, truth and jouissance; the Father of Totem and Taboo who is all love - or all jouissance - and whose murder generates the love of the Dead Father, a father to whom Lacan opposes both the Father presiding over the first idealization - the one deserving love - and the Father who enters the discourse of the Master and is thereby castrated ab initio. For Lacan "the death of the father is the key to supreme jouissance, later identified with the mother as aim of incest." Psychoanalysis "is not constructed on the proposition 'to sleep with the mother' but on the death of the father as primal jouissance." The real father is not the father of biological reality, be he who upholds "the Real as impossible." From the Oedipus complex Lacan only saves the paternal metaphor and the Name-of-the-Father which "is positioned where knowledge acts as truth. Psychoanalysis consolidates the law."

The novelty in this seminar is the return of the hysteric, with Dora and la Belle Bouche erre - the Beautiful Mouth wanders - an allusion to the dream of the beautiful butcher's wife analyzed by Freud and carried on in "The direction of the treatment and the principles of power" (Écrits: A Selection). Three questions: the rapport between jouissance and the desire for unfulfilled desire; the hysteric who makes man - fait l'homme or the Master - she constructs him as "a man prompted by the desire to know"; a new conception of the cure as a "hystericizaton of dicourse," which the analyst introduces at the structural level. This leaves untouched hysteria as attributed to woman - the only discourse where sexual difference comes openly into play. Castration is "the deprivation of woman," insofar as "she would fulfill herself in the smallest signifier." Woman is absent from the field of the signifier.
As to the mathemes "a fundamental starting relation" functions as a postulate:

S1 refers to "the marked circle of the field of the Other," it is the Master-Signifier. S2 is the "battery of signifiers, already there" at the place where "one wants to determine the status of a discourse as status of statement," that is knowledge - savoir. S1 comes into play in a signifying battery conforming the network of knowledge. <img src="lacansem1b1.gif" valign="bottom" height="11" width="12"> is the subject, marked by the unbroken line - trait unaire - which represents it and is different from the living individual who is not the locus of this subject. Add the objet a, the object-waste or the loss of the object that ocurred when the originary division of the subject took place - the object that is the cause of desire: the plus-de-jouir.</font>

Discourse of the Master:


It is the basic discourse from which the other three derive. The dominant position is occupied by the master signifier, S1, which represents the subject, S, for all other signifiers: S2. In this signifying operation there is a surplus: objet a. All attempts at totalisation are doomed to fail. This discourse masks the division of the subject, it illustrates the structure of the dialectic of the master and the slave. The master, S1, is the agent who puts the slave, S2, to work: the result is a surplus, objet a, that the master struggles to appropriate. Discourse of the University:


It is caused by a anticlockwise quarter turn of the previous discourse. The dominant position is occupied by knowledge - savoir. An attempt to mastery can be traced behind the endeavors to impart neutral knowledge: domination of the other to whom knowledge is transmitted. This hegemony is visible in modernity with science.

Discourse of the Hysteric:


It is effected by a clockwise quarter turn of the discourse of the master. It is not simply "that which is uttered by the hysteric," but a certain kind of articulation in which any subject may be inscribed. The divided subject, S, the symptom, is in the pole position. This discourse points toward knowledge. "The cure involves the structural introduction of the discourse of the hysteric by way of artificial conditions": the analyst hystericizes the analysand's discourse.

Discourse of the Analyst:


It is produced by a quarter turn of the discourse of the hysteric in the same way as Freud develops psychoanalysis by giving an interpretative turn to the discourse of his hysterical patients. The position of the agent - the analyst - is occipied by objet a: the analyst becomes the cause of the analysand's desire. This discourse being the reverse of the discourse of the master, does it make psychoanalysis an essentially subversive practice which undermines attempts at domination and mastery?

In any case, this algebra is concerned with the positions which are fixed:


A the end of the seminar Lacan adds the opposition between 'impossibility' and 'impotence' - impuissance: "the impossible is the real where speech, as objet a, functions like a carrion" and "impotence protects truth." He states in his new translation of Wo Es War, soll Ich werden, work is for the analyst and "plus-de-jouir is for you": "Where plus-de-jouir was, the plus-de-jouir of the other, me, insofar as I utter the psychoanalytic act, I must come."

There is the story of the three Congolese, analyzed by Lacan after WWII: "Their unconscious functioned according to the rules of the Oedipus complex, it was the unconscious that had been sold to them at the same time as the laws of colonization, an exotic form of the discourse of the Master, a regression before imperialist capitalism." Are the capitalistic or imperialistic discourses mentioned only metamorphoses of the discourse of the Master?
As to the envers of psychoanalysis, sometimes it is the discourse of the Master when it functions as a foil. Sometimes it is unconscious discourse as the knowledge located where wrong and right sides (analytic discourse) cannot be separated, following the Moebius strip. "The envers is assonant with truth; one moves to the envers, but the envers does not explain any right side."

"Radiophonie" (Autres écrits) is an interview recorded while L'envers... is taking place. In it Lacan declares that if "language is the condition of the unconscious, the unconscious is the condition of linguistics." Freud anticipates Saussure and the Prague Circle when he sticks to the patient's words, jokes, slips of the tongue, and brings to light the importance of condensation and displacement in the production of dreams. The unconscious is the fact "that the subject is not the one who knows what he says. Whoever articulates the unconscious says that it is either that or nothing." Linguistics has no hold on the unconscious since it leaves as a blank that which produces effects on the unconscious, the objet a, the focus of the analytic act - of any act. "Only the discourse that defines itself in terms given by psychoanalysis manifests the subject as other, whereas science, by making the subject a master, conceals him, so the desire that gives way to him bars the subject for me without remedy." There is only one myth in Lacan's discourse: the Freudian Oedipus complex. "In psychoanalysis, as well as in the unconscious, man knows nothing of woman, and woman nothing of man. The phallus epitomizes the point in myth where the sexual becomes the passion of the signifier." There is, however, no algebraic formula for the unconscious discourse: "...the unconscious is only the metaphorical term designating the knowledge only sustained when presented as impossible, so that it can conform by being real - real discourse."

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