As an element of the real, the letter is meaningless in itself. Lacan illustrates this by referring to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, which were indecipherable to Europeans for so long. Until Champollion was able to decipher them on the basis of the Rosetta Stone, no one knew how to understand these enigmatic inscriptions, but it was nevertheless clear that they were organized into a signifying system. In the same way, the signifier persists as a meaningless letter which makes the destiny of the subject and which he must decipher.
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p. 244-5; Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 160