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bar (barre) The term 'bar' first appears in Lacan's work in 1957, where it

is introduced in the context of a discussion of Saussure's concept of the SIGN

(E, 149). In this context, the bar is the line that separates the signifier from the

signified in the Saussurean algorithm (see Figure 18), and stands for the

resistance inherent in signification which is only crossed in metaphor. Lacan

takes pleasure in the fact that, in French, barre is an anagram of arbre (tree),

since it is precisely with a tree that Saussure illustrates his own concept of the

sign (E, 154).

Not long after the 1957 paper in which the term first appears, in the seminar

of 1957-8, Lacan goes on to use the bar to strike through his algebraic symbols

S and A in a manner reminiscent of Heidegger's practice of crossing out the

word 'being' (see Heidegger, 1956). The bar is used to strike through the S to

produce, S, the 'barred subject'. The bar here represents the division of the

subject by language, the SPLIT. Thus whereas before 1957 S designates the

subject (e.g. in schema L), from 1957 on S designates the signifier and S

designates the (divided) subject. The bar is also used to strike through the A

(the big Other) to produce the algebraic notation for the 'barred Other', A .

However, Lacan continues to use both signs in his algebra (e.g. in the graph of

desire). The barred Other is the Other insofar as it is castrated, incomplete,

marked by a lack, as opposed to the complete, consistent, uncastrated Other, an

un-barred A, which does not exist.

In 1973 the bar is used to strike through the definite article la whenever it

precedes the noun femme (woman), as in Lacan's famous phrase kffemme

n existe pas ('woman does not exist'). The definite article in French indicates

universality, and by crossing it out Lacan illustrates his thesis that femininity is

resistant to all forms of generalisation (see S20, 68).

In addition to these functions, the bar can also be interpreted as the symbolic

phallus (which itself is never barred), as the symbol of negation in the

formulae of sexuation (see SEXUAL DIFFERENCE), and as the trait unaire (see


== References ==

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