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   "C'est en tant qu'il est là ou qu'il n'est là que s'instaure
la différenciation symbolique des sexes, autrement que
spécialement pour la femme, ce phallus elle n'a pas
symboliquement, c'est participer à titre d'absence."
(Seminaire IV)

This test-site erects itself over the split subject, the abysmal lack of completion and closure, the desire to be observed, perceived, desired - as well as over the frustration with the texts of Jacques Lacan which have remained unavailable, untranslatable, unreadable, indigestible, and perhaps incomprehensible. The test: to represent concepts by themselves. The experiment: to set up an environment online where that idea, the request for comment (rfc) which led to the institution of the internet as an electronic medium, might serve the interests of reading Jacques Lacan.

The terms are overdetermined. The set-up is one that is destined for failure. But if, in these short segments, we present quotations and questions which might serve to get commentary going, not aiming for conclusive evidence, but for those shadows of doubt, then the Lacan testsite can hope to achieve its own achievement, can aim to become that site, with the help of those who are stimulated to contribute: "J'ai donné à mes auditeurs des modèles antiques, et nommément dans le champ de Platon, mais je n'ai fait que leur donner l'appareil à creuser ce champ." (Sem. XI) As it stands, the testsite consists only of stimuli that endeavour the sketching out of a field - the field which is to be worked upon.

This is the scene of old: The ego re-presents its own disfiguration, as set apart from id and superego, and as trying to reappropriate a wholeness untouched by differentiation. It strives to maintain the ubiquity of the phallus as its own capacity to repeat every difference as identity. That narcissistic stance towards any alterity comes to perceive the anatomical difference of the female genitals as a lack - and a danger to the self, a threat which imperils the integrity of the narcissistic self. This neurotic anxiety of castration (which is not the fear of real violation) becomes known as the phallus: "Ce qui est mis en jeu dans cette symbolique instituée par la castration c'est un objet imaginaire, c'est le phallus comme tel."(Sem. IV) Castration, then, is the lack of lack as a symbolic debt: "La castration est quelque chose qui ne peut que se classer dans la catégorie de la dette symbolique." This debt, however, is not equivalent with privation: "La privation, c'est essentiellement quelque chose qui dans sa nature de manque est un manque réel, un trou." And Lacan continues to elucidate: "Il est bien claire que l'objet de la privation, lui, n'est jamais qu'un objet symbolique." Rather than mingling these categories, it helps to keep in mind that on the one hand, one must not be the phallus in order to enjoy it - "Pour avoir le phallus, pour pouvoir s'en servir, il faut justement ne pas l'être" (Sem. X) - and on the other hand, one wants to become the phallus to satisfy - "Si le désir de la mère est le phallus, l'enfant veut être le phallus pour le satisfaire." (Écrits) In short, it is the signifier of the effects of the signifier, as it were, and erects itself, as phallus, out of the web of a dream, for instance... "Il s'agit que l'enfant assume ce phallus en tant que signifiant, et d'une façon qui le fasse instrument de l'ordre symbolique des échanges, qui président à la constitution des lignées." (Sem. IV) Assuming the phallus as 'instrument' of the symbolic order of exchange will consitute, we trust, a web of intersecting lines.


"Compared with the thallus, Lacan's signification du phallus appears to be child's play: manque d'un manque, béance, signifier of the effects of the signifier - all such formulae move easily within the stable, homogeneous spatial continuum that the thallus distorts and distends, dislocates and disfigures."
       (Samuel Weber, The Legend of Freud, 82)

The Lacanian guide, purportedly returning to Freud in no uncertain terms, tends to end, in the final analysis, by stopping the movement of thought, halting the weaving of the enmeshed concepts, in the abyss, in abeyance. This repetition of the determination to arrest the interminable proliferation is often criticized by commentators - Needless to say, the testsite will not attempt to locate the spot, the root of this radicalization of Freud, in order to pin-point it or even point to it; Samuel Weber has pointed out that Freud's word "Knäuel" is perhaps more aptly rendered not as béance, but as 'thallus', that is a mycelious structure which does not differentiate between stem and leaves. Although this metaphor is seductively apt also for what the internet may (re)present, suffice it, then, to mention the continuing, mushrooming efforts (see the references).

This, therefore, is the space given to the reader: please consider yourselves invited to contribute - whether it be a comment, a comment upon a comment, a citation or a question - the lines are open. We know the anxiety of going public ("L'angoisse, vous ai-je dit, y est liée à ceci que je ne sais pas quel objet (a) je suis pour le desir de l'Autre." Sem. X) - but the again, there is nothing that could really be inappropriate here, is there?





Created by Peter Krapp on Friday, June 26, 1998. - For information, please send mail to write.