TOWARDS GENEVA 9
In this series of preparatory texts to the Congress, we publish two texts written by two members of the NLS, Beatriz Premazzi and Despina Andropoulou. These are two papers presented this year, during an activity of "preparation": on the one hand, the "NLS Seminar Towards the Congress in Geneva”, which was held from September to May in Geneva, led by Pierre-Gilles Guéguen and Anne Lysy, and devoted to the comment of Lacan’s text, "Guiding Remarks for a Convention on Female Sexuality” (Ecrits); on the other hand, the study day of preparation for the Congress of the AMP in Athens in January, organized by the Hellenic Society and by Nassia Linardou in particular.
Beatriz Premazzi presents a major reference of Lacan in Chapter VI of the "Guiding Remarks", entitled "The Imaginary Complex and Questions of Development": it's one of the three articles of Ernest Jones on female sexuality, "Early female sexuality" of 1935. Lacan responds point by point in his text. He reanimates here the famous debate on the ‘phallic phase in women’; he indicates a ‘conceptual slippage’ and offers a solution to the impasses of theories of development: the phallus as a signifier, the castration complex as a ‘fundamental synchrony’.
Despina Andropoulou writes about "God as semblant and his Other face", a title which echoes the title of Chapter VI of Lacan’s seminar "Encore". Her paper reminds us that the theme of the Congress of the NLS has been chosen in the thread of the WAP Congress on “Semblants and Sinthome”. One point which particularly concerns us for Geneva is this: "Lacan never stopped pointing out the two faces of feminine jouissance right from the start of his teaching.” She briefly outlines his trajectory.
Commentary on Ernest Jones’ paper on "Early Female Sexuality”
The aim of Ernest Jones’ 1935 lecture is to highlight the difference between the Viennese school and the English school. These differences reside in the “early development of sexuality, especially in the female, the genesis of the super-ego and its relation to the Oedipus complex, the technique of child analysis and the conception of a death instinct”. In this paper, he will expand on the question of feminine sexuality. Jones aims to demonstrate that there are not two different tendencies, hence not two schools: Vienna and London. He thinks that these differences are in fact a problem of communication: exchanges and translations, while affirming that the new English ideas remain insufficiently studied in Vienna. We will later see that in fact the divergences are important.
His working hypothesis is that “there is more femininity in the young girl than analysts generally admit, and that the masculine phase through which she may pass is more complex in its motivation than is commonly thought”. In relation to Freud, the differences stem from the phallic stage of the little girl that Jones calls masculine. For him, this stage answers to a fear of femininity as well as a fear of “something primary”. It seems that for Jones “primary” refers to what was already there, originally, what is “natural”; something that Lacan calls “the prejudice of the dominance of the natural” in Jones.
Jones claims that, for Freud, there is primarily an attachment to the mother and that it is a masculine attitude. Further in the course of her development, the girl will have to change “her sexual attitude” (clitoritic masturbation?) and the sex of her love object.
He disagrees with the Freudian theory for which he substitutes Melanie Klein’s idea instead, whose analyses of young children “have given us a glimpse of a totally different idea of this early stage”.
For Jones, the girl is from the start more feminine because she follows a tendency to “receive” and to “retain”. In turn, Lacan points out that the representation of feminine sexuality (repressed or not) is a condition for being put into play; obviously the doctrine of the therapist is included in this representation.
Let’s follow Jones following Klein. The mother fulfils the desires of the little girl but not totally, because the object (the maternal breast) is inadequate; this is where aggression starts to manifest itself. Jones claims that penis envy and the dissatisfaction regarding the clitoris have an origin in the inadequacy of the maternal object: a more adequate object would take the shape of the penis. Oral frustration thus provokes the first desire for the penis. The penis that she desires has been introjected by the mother through the oral coitus (according to an infantile fantasy), a penis belonging to the maternal body, even if the father is the source of this partial object. Since the girl imagines that the coitus happens by “mammalingus” or by fellatio, the father is a rival in obtaining the maternal milk. The phallic phase of the girl (Freud) is reduced (pushed back says Lacan) to oral aggression.
Jones continues saying that the girl, at the end of the first year, at the same time that she desires the sexual organ develops a true “feminine” love for the father. The Oedipus complex starts around the second year but is repressed and unconscious. It is the composite figure of the parents (“combined parent imago”) that is important. Lacan wonders if this “hybrid” figure is constituted as an image or a symbol.
The girl’s sadism towards the content of the mother’s body increases, along with oral and urethral sadism, a sadism that will end up turned back on her own body because she does not possess an organ like the boy. The anxiety provoked by sadism will be appeased later by the satisfaction obtained from the exterior of her body and from her clothes.
The little boy finds another outlet than his organ for his sadism and his hatred in the shape of the father’s figure, whereas the girl has only got the mother for rival. Since the mother fulfils the satisfaction of primary needs, the girl cannot exteriorise her sadism and turns it back internally. This explains the girl’s attachment to her mother and the repression at this stage of development.
In short, the girl’s phallic phase is for Jones a defence against her oral aggression towards her mother and the anxiety it provokes. Femininity will be repressed because of the hatred for the mother and the subsequent fear.
It is from this first stage onwards that the Kleinian ideas diverge from Freud and, as Jones put it, mark all the differences of opinions regarding the subsequent development of the woman. Jones opposes the Kleinian idea of a“ bad object of a fantastic phallophagy”, to use Lacan’s terms, to the girl’s phallic phase and the presence of the father as a third party. We don’t really know if this object extracted from the mother’s body belongs to the father or not. This fantastic phallophagy is Jones’ explanation for the desire or the envy of the penis: for him, desire and envy are equivalent: the little girl wants to devour the penis she thinks is located in the mother’s body. This stage is part of the Oedipus complex too and the anxiety will appear as a return of this sadism on the body.
Time and again Jones reverts to something that would be natural and primary in the girl. The desire for the penis is not a masculine tendency but the normal feminine desire to incorporate the penis of a man, first orally then with the vagina. The desire for a baby will not arise as a substitute for the phallus, related to the penis-clitoris of the phallic phase, but as a substitute of the original penis incorporated orally.
For Jones (Kleinism) the object is not the lost Freudian object; it is not only divided in two (the good and the bad penis for instance) but it can also be retrieved and given as a kind of compensation. The penis “can be used to effect restitution to the castrated father by first identifying herself with him and then developing an intact penis by way of compensation.”
Regarding the subsequent development of femininity, Jones continues to disagree with Freud. The passing of the defensive phallic phase takes place because the girl recognises that it is a fantasy and renounces to it in favour of a reinforcement of the ego.
In the last paragraph, Jones unfolds his idea of femininity. For him, there is an “instinctual constitution” towards which femininity evolves. Between “being born a woman” and “becoming one”, he clearly leans towards the former.
Translated by Betty Bertrand
God as Semblant and his Other Face
In principle, God in Lacan's teaching is the god of truth, of language, which as presupposed Other is based on the signifying chain. It is the Other as locus of speech, of the “Instance of the Letter,” the one that Lacan tried to exorcise if not secularise, “the good, old God,” as he put it in Encore, and which he called the "subject supposed to know." As such, it is the object of a faith that is only the faith that we have in language. Hence his identification with the act of saying and his sententious phrase: "For a nothing the act of saying constitutes God. [Pour un rien, le dire ça fait Dieu.] And as long as things are said, the God hypothesis will persist."
With the paternal metaphor, Lacan approached the father of creation, of the name, of the law, of the interdiction, of the castration complex, which highlights the relationship of the subject with his lack. The Name-of-the-Father "brings out the meaning of enigmatic jouissance" and is the quilting point that guarantees the relationship between signifiers and signified. From this perspective, the father is a metaphor of a hidden truth that the subject inherits without knowing it and represses. This legacy emerges in the form of a symptom, the deciphering of which we once hoped would lead to its lifting.
However, in 1957, the year of Seminar IV, Lacan introduces us to the limits of the paternal metaphor in the clinic of phobia. If Hans is no longer afraid of the horse, "the black stain around the mouth remains an insoluble point - a remainder - which continues to disturb him, the metaphor is not without a remainder and the symbolic not without a hole; we see here a foreshadowing of what Lacan would later develop with his object a.”
The other issue that the paternal metaphor leaves open concerns female sexuality as such. D. Laurent notes that the writing of the paternal metaphor can solve the difficult problem of fundamental passage of the woman from the mother as primary object to the father as love object. The metaphor allows us to say that the first identification is a phallic identification, from the moment when the maternal desire is precisely captured in the phallic register. In this way, the Freudian premise is displaced from “having or not having” to “being,” through identification with the father.
On the other hand, the paternal metaphor does not account for the difference between the sexes, for the position of the father with regard to the phallus, and in general for the cause of his desire, the eternalisation of the daughter’s demand for love in regard to the father, a demand that appears in the clinic as a slipping from the mother towards the father and the sexual partner.
Beyond the Oedipus complex, the idealized father is replaced by the father as partner of a woman; by the one who, as Lacan says in RSI in 1975, "is only entitled to respect, if not love, if this love, this respect, is pere-versely oriented, that is to say, makes of a woman an object a that causes his desire."
God as Semblant
Through the development of the objet petit a, Lacan went from the Name-of-the-Father to the Names-of-Father, making the father a semblant, whereas the jouissance obtained through the fantasy, the jouissance of castration, the only one possible is that which does not refer to another. "Jouissance,” Lacan says in Encore, “is questioned, evoked, tracked, and elaborated only on the basis of a semblant.”
In his course “On the Nature of Semblants,” on February 26, 1992, J.-A. Miller designates the Name-of-Father, the phallus and the object a as three names of jouissance, three semblants. For the first, he tells us that it is a matter of a name that substitutes for an unnameable jouissance for the purpose of identifying it and at the same time absorbing it, for a precise reason: making us believe that the father confiscated it. The father pretends to have appropriated it and the subject complains to him so he gives it back. The phallus is the name of the jouissance that gives signification to its loss, whereas the object a is its remainder, a myth concerning the way in which the subject lost it for ever. The object a is the name that opens towards the real, supporting being in naming jouissance through loss and castration. Unlike the paternal metaphor as semblant which made jouissance impossible, the metonymy of the drive is real and makes it that a) the subject is always happy, because the father and society cannot completely eliminate jouissance, and b) jouissance is immortal – which, as J.-A. Miller taught us, perhaps gave birth to the belief in the immortality of the soul.
The God of the signifier and that of phallic jouissance make up the figure of God and make jouissance forbidden for Freud and impossible for Lacan. If Freud saves God the Father, Lacan transforms him into a garment that veils the gap that is part of jouissance, and is translated into the absence of the sexual relation. The father is a name that responds to the analytic question: "Why is there nothing rather than something?” This is the question that, since Freud, the subject poses when he is faced with the trauma of sexuality. It is in this sense that the father functions as a semblant, as S1, even the semblant of choice, that one might do without, under the condition that one makes use of him, as Lacan says in RSI, namely, having accepted its consequences : the power of pure loss and the response to this as support of our being.
The gap of jouissance has an additional consequence for the subject in analysis. It includes a hole and "that hole is called the Other [. . . ] as locus in which speech, being desposited—pay attention to the resonances here—founds truth and, with it, the pact that makes up for the non-existence of the sexual relationship [. . . ] and that discourse would not be reduced to beginning solely from the semblant.”
J.-A. Miller, December 4, 1991, designated the subject supposed to know as a pseudonym of the unconscious that is placed there where there is a hole in knowledge. The unconscious is nothing other than the prerogative of a subject, he said.
Beyond the love for knowledge, there is the real, "the mystery of the unconscious." “The analyst [. . .] is the one who, by putting object a in the place of the semblant, is in the best position to do what should rightfully be done, namely, to investigate the status of truth as knowledge.”
Feminine Jouissance: Bifaced Janus
The woman is Other in relation to the jouissance of the One, because she maintains a special relationship with the signifier of the lack in the Other, the signifier that is missing and that would allow her to say what is the Woman. "When the signifier is lacking,” says D. Laurent, “there is a surplus jouissance," which has affinities with the unlimited, opposing itself to the phallic limitation. Castration does not function as a limit, namely jouissance is not localized in the organ, but concerns the jouissance of the body, which proves that the passage of the daughter to the father is never entirely successful. Therefore, her relation to her mother remains an open issue, often ravaging.
The sentence of D. Laurent, "the drive and love designate a register of the libido for Freud and a register of unlimited jouissance for Lacan,” ties together again the two destinies of feminine jouissance, which tend towards infinity; and at the same time, J.-A. Miller, in his Course, remarks that "ravage is the other side of love."
The Lacanian version of phallus envy, the claim for the phallus as signifier of desire that is opposed to the Freudian penis envy, is expressed in the incessant demand for the words of the partner. If love according to Lacan is to give what one does not have, the paradigm of its claim can be found in feminine homosexual love, in the way in which Lacan comments on it in Chapter VI of Seminar IV, "The primacy of the phallus and the young homosexual woman.” Lacan ascribes great features to it: sacred love, courtly love, Schwärmerei [exaltation] according to Freud. What is particular to this love is this: what is desired is beyond the loved woman, it is precisely what she lacks.
On the other hand, there is the version according to which "libido becomes the destiny of a woman." This is mostly in feminine subjects who have a special relation with the object – such as in the case of anorexia, bulimia, addictions, etc.
In these two faces of the unlimited, feminine jouissance exceeds the limits which would be imposed on it if jouissance was only phallic.
Lacan never stopped pointing out the two faces of feminine jouissance right from the start of his teaching.
In Seminar IV, in 1956, he introduced the public to the diplopia of the woman in her relationship with her child: "Far from being harmonic, the relation of the mother to the child is double; on the one hand, because of the need for a certain imaginary saturation, and the other, because of what may be, in effect, efficient real relations with the child at a primordial level, instinctual, which ultimately remain mythical.”
"The child as real takes for his mother the symbolic function of his imaginary needs," while "the mother is at the limit of the symbolic and the real." But also "at the time of her encounter with the man, the feminine subject is always called to inscribe herself in a sort of reunion, which immediately places her in a position characterized by ambiguity of the natural and symbolic relations. This ambiguity is precisely where the analytic dimension resides.”
Subsequently, in 1958, in the chapter "Feminine homosexuality and ideal love" in “Remarks for a conference on female sexuality,” Lacan emphasizes, "female sexuality appears, instead, as the effort of a jouissance enveloped in its own continguity (of which any circumcision perhaps indicates the symbolic break) in order to be realized in competition with the desire that castration liberates in the male in giving him the phallus as its signifier.”
In the first part of the single session of his seminar on The Names of the Father in 1963, Lacan speaks of the untouched beyond of feminine jouissance, encouraging "psychoanalysts to take a closer look to see what there is of a fundamental alibi in these moments: a phallic alibi. Women sublimate themselves in a way through their function as sheath , they resolve something that goes further and remains infinitely outside. So we should indicate,” Lacan tells us, “what we see of the traces of this untouched beyond of feminine jouissance in the masculine myth of her supposed masochism.”
In 1973, we can say that Lacan responds to this untouched beyond via the jouissance of the mystics in noting: "Doesn’t this jouissance one experiences and yet knows nothing about put us on the path of ex-istence? And why not interpret one face of the Other, the God face, as based on feminine jouissance?
“As all of that is produced thanks to the being of signifierness, and as that being has no other locus than the locus of the Other [Autre] that I designate with a capital A, one sees the ‘cross-sightedness’ that results. And as that is also where the father function is inscribed, insofar as castration is related to the father function, we see that that doesn’t make two Gods, but that it deosn’t make just one either.”
However, this supplementary jouissance, which makes the feminine jouissance cross-eyed, realizing itself in emulation of the phallus, untouched, allows women to have a great freedom with regards to the semblant, to succeed in lending weight even to a man who does not have any and who makes her the moment of Truth for him, by preparing her place as semblant. "With regard to sexual jouissance, the woman is in the position to punctuate the equivalance of jouissance and the semblant. […] No one other than the woman, because it is in that that she is the Other, knows better that which is disjunctive between jouissance and the semblant.”
The feminine position as such is the radical questioning of the semblants of the Names of the Father in civilization. Lacan says in Éncore that he believes in God, in the enjoyment of the woman in so far as it is a surplus . From this angle God exists only as one of the names of the real and in the sexual relation has the scent of a/one woman: the number is singular as is the sinthome as well.
Translated by Thomas Svolos
6] Borie Jacques, «Introduction à la lecture du Séminaire IV», La relation d’objet, at www.causefreudienne.net
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