Logic of Sexuation

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In the seminar Encore, Lacan proposed what he called "formulas of sexuation" to set down the basic structures of male and female sexuality. In his book Totem and Taboo, Freud had argued that at the mythic origin of society lay a primal horde, in which a jealous and greedy father enjoyed all the women.

His sons were deprived of all intercourse with them. And so they rebelled and murdered their father to gain acess to the women. But then, in remorse, the sons forbade themselves the very women they had murdered for.

According to Freud, the first law of society was thus imposed by the sons on themselves as a result of their love and remorse for their murdered father.

If this law is understood as a prohibition of jouissance, it is based, at its origin, on a jouissance which is obsene, pervse and unregulated - that of the primal father.


Lacan argues that the law of prohibition always supposes at its horizon an exception, someone who escapes the law. If all men are subject to a law, one man escapes.

This structure of constitutive of male sexuality. If all males are subject to prohibition, there is at least one who escapes.

If Freud's story in Totem and Taboo was a myth, Lacan tries to extract a logical structure from it and he gives notation for the sexuality.

Supplementary Jouissance

As Lacan pointed out there is no myth in the anlytic literature like that contained in Totem and Taboo about female sexuality.

According to Lacan, women participate in a logic very different from that of the man.

Not all subjects are subject to castration, even if there does not exist a subject who is not subject to castration.

THe jouissance of a speaking being may be phallic or it may be "supplementary", an enjoyment born out of the castration complex but not linked to the organ and its limits.

The idea is that once the castration complex has established a lack in one's life, this lack itself can take on a libidinal value.

The subject does not try to fill this lack - which would be phallic jouissance - but to give it a new value as lack, to produce jouissance through this absence.

Not all

Men and women are both subject to the imposition of the symbolic order and the networks of signifiers.

We aimto immerse ourselves fullyin this symbolic order, to accept and absorb the signifier as much as possible. Women instead not only know there sis more to the world than the signifier, but they try, often with the gfreatest determination, to make this something a part of their lives.


Hence Lacan can say that women are "not-all" in the field of the symbolic castration, even if the whole dynamic in question only exists owing to the initial presence of this symbolic dimension.


References