Sinthome and feminisation

What is the thread, what is the string secretly linking these two terms of sinthome and feminsation?

We can only find the string at the cost of shifting to the other side of what makes the routine of our world. Of the world, indeed of this sphere that serves as our shell and which in itself is nothing more than an outgrowth of our own image in its conjunction with the representations that language introduces into the body. The homeostasis of the world [le monde] is sustained by the routine that associates the signifier with the signified.   

Lacan, in his last years of teaching, will produce a torsion leading psychoanalysis towards a zone that he characterises as the ek-sistence of the immonde [d’ek-sistence de l’immonde][1], of that which does not make up the world, a zone that is to be conceived in the register of the expelled from meaning, of the aversion of meaning, of anti-sense and of ante-sense. A zone of the impossible as such, or even of the real at all.

This ultimate orientation, put into action in his practice, will lead him to aim, in the analytic experience carried out to the end, at a beyond of the apparatus of jouissance that the phantasm articulates, at an emptying of the jouis-sense [sens-joui] with which the symptom is clothed, in order to identify the real of the jouissance of the sinthome outside of language, and consequently without law. During this crossing, Lacan walked hand in hand with Joyce. We, on the other hand, cannot enter it without being led by another hand, that of Jacques-Alain Miller.

His enlightened reading traces the formal French gardens, dismantling the statements of Lacan’s seminar in order to bring out the saying that makes them legible, the saying from which the bone of the matter is isolated.

We will try to summarise the complexity of Lacan’s journey in a few propositions. It goes without saying that this will be a drop of water in the middle of the ocean.

Let us propose as an entry point the step taken by Lacan when he says: Yad’lun. The One is the signifier One-all alone,disjointed from the articulation of the signifying Other, and for that reason real, outside of meaning [hors-sens]. This sheds light on Lacan’s proposal when he invites us to interrogate this One at the level of lalangue, which presupposes the distinction of the latter from language. Lalangue in its sonorous materiality is nothing more than the sum total of the equivocations that each person’s history has allowed to persist. It does not serve communication, it does not conceal fictions, it strikes the body, sifts it, perforates it, transforming it into an echo chamber, depositing traces from which it enjoys. The sinthome testifies to the consistency of the troumatism dug by the One in the body. A hole in the real that makes the writing of the sexual relation impossible.

Joyce was for Lacan the intercessor who, through his writing, brings the signifier to the fore as the cause of jouissance. Joyce’s operation in writing Finnegan’s Wake consists in triturating language, bringing to the fore the polyphony of sound from several languages outside of any intention of signification, of any syntactic or grammatical order pertaining to language, catching through a singular writing the murmurs of the élangues[2] that is enjoyed.

To have succeeded in this tour de force which results in the decomposition of language by breaking its dam in the face of the thrust of equivocations coming from the sound of several languages, is his way of making use of the symptom of which he was the prey, by making of it a work of art. The result is a text that does not move the reader’s unconscious, a text that does not summon anyone’s jouis-sense, but bears witness to his own jouissance, all alone, disabused of the unconscious.

Let us note that Joyce’s writing, by undermining the law of language and its order, mocks the male norm [la norme mâle[3] whose linguistic foundation is conducive to supporting the universal. Universal is to be understood here as that which, from the jouissance of the male side, is all caught up in castration as a function of language, not without taking its support from an existence which is an exception to it.

It is in this sense that Lacan distinguishes the symptom as a linguistic formation pegged to the unconscious and whose deciphering reveals effects of truth, from the sinthome, which says nothing to anyone and whose jouissance ex-sists in the exclusion of meaning. Undress the symptom in an analysis from the par-êtres that cover it and you will end up with the illegible, with the real that demonstrates itself as impossible: the opaque jouissance of excluding meaning. The end of deciphering. It is a hole.

Lacan indicates that this tightening resorts to the logical use of the symptom, calling upon the signifier as mathemeatic. In other words, it is a question of a use of the signifier ‘against the grain’, in its status as a letter outside of meaning, which presupposes that the rhetorical use of the signifier when it is set up in discourse is discarded.

It is by this procedure by the use of logic, that Lacan had opened up a way to extract women from the phallic whole, by arguing that a woman’s jouissance is not-all phallic. She has a jouissance of her own, a jouissance that she experiences, but of which she knows nothing. This additional jouissance, beyond the phallus, is located in the body unlike phallic jouissance which is outside the body. A part of this so-called feminine jouissance, which is not, moreover, the prerogative of women alone, is a real jouissance because it escapes the fragmentation, the annulment, the accounting operated by language as castration.

Jacques-Alain Miller indicates that once Lacan opens this path relating to feminine jouissance, he will go further in order to recognise the status of jouissance as such. By generalising the formula of not for all x, not Phi of x, he was able to release the perspective of the sinthome.

It is not possible for us to go any further here. We have found the string that links sinthome and feminisation by means of a jouissance that, being real, escapes language and castration. 

Being fulfilled as a sinthome feminises LOM who has a body, whatever its anatomy.  

Translation by Joanne Conway


[1] [TN] Ek-sistence de l’immonde is a taken from RSI, Lesson of the 18th of February 1975 which is published in “Ornicar ? 2-5, 1975. Lacan plays with the world/word  monde/immonde, the latter translated as filth or foul, a dimension beyond RSI as such. ‘Ek-sistence’ is a Heideggerian term from ‘Being & Time’. Ek-sistence is a condition of being outside of oneself, of not fully co-inciding with oneself or being reducible to one’s current properties. The ek-sistent, Heidegger explains is “set outside of itself,” “ex-posed” (ous-setzend); Human EXISTENCE, Heidegger argues, is ek-sistent in this sense.

[2] [TN] A neologism from Soller as referenced in Seminar XXIII. Homophonic with les langues, “evocative of the verb élanguer, ‘to remove the tongue’, and also élan, (momentum, impetus, surge or urge)”.  The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, The Sinthome, Book XXIII, A.R. Price, Trans., Polity Press, 2018, p. 4 & p. 222.

[3] [TN] Play on words and homophony: male norm – norm male/normale in French.