(1) On Jacques Lacan (2) Meaning (3) Mind (4) Feminine Sexuality (5) Excerpt from On Feminine Sexuality ... Notes
(1) On Jacques Lacan (1901-1981): born in France to middle class French catholic parents; exemption from military service pointed him to medical and psychiatric training, which, in turn, pointed him to psychoanalysis. Although he published almost nothing in his lifetime, he gave regular lectures (often considered incomprehensible to those attending). While he was trained under Freud’s psychoanalysis, Lacan rebelled in many ways against Freud, in both theoretical and practical directions—on former, cf. below; on practical divergence, e.g., “variable length” clinic sessions with patients could last from five minutes to two hours, this, in particular, led to his dismissal from the International Psychoanalytical Association in 1953, which then led him to form his own school of psychoanalytical thought.
Lacan’s own thought is comprised of a conglomeration of ideas from Freudian psychoanalysis, psychology, psychiatry, medicine, science, literature, and philosophy. He borrows ideas incessantly, often alters them to fit his context, and reiterates them with new terminology that often disguises true origins and meanings. Below, merely a brief, shallow introduction to his ideas for background to Deleuze’s essay:
(2) MEANING: theories of fixed meaning vs. theories of relative meaning: Fixed:
Plato—re: Forms: absolute, universal meanings, e.g., “goodness in itself,” “beauty in itself,” etc. These provide universal models from which all other types of goodness or beauty can be measured. Now, conceive of the forms as purely language, not a form of ‘goodness,’ but ‘The Good’ as having a fixed nature.
Jung—(diverged from Freud in a different direction than Lacan; interested in diagnosing mental conditions through analysis of dreams) he believed that the symbols in dreams, he called them ‘Archetypes,’ were universal—thus, regardless of what cultural or linguistic differences between people exist, for each, certain dream images will be representative of the same underlying condition, desire, etc.
Melanie Klein—(child psychoanalyst, built off Freud’s work, applied it to youth) believed there were Forms (re: Plato), but that they were not abstractions like Good, but, rather, fixed objects carrying evaluations like “good breast,” “bad penis” as observed through highly aggressive acts, words, and fantasy play of children.
Hegel and Nietzsche’s lordship/master and bondsman/slave theories—creation of meaning is evolution of meaning—meaning, just like being, is always a becoming.
Lacan—all meaning, all language is relative, except for “proper names.” Proper names (James, Suzy, etc.), are not absolutely fixed (can be 15 James or 35 Suzys in a place) but are more fixed than other words (e.g., “gay” meant “happy,” now “homosexual”; “disc” meant “record,” now “CD”); this greater level of fixity of Proper Names helps us to hold together our world, gives us something that retains a higher level of continuity of meaning through time and change. This level of fixity is important because it helps us to avoid psychosis because the individual is entangled in collective meaning and is determined by language. In his terminology, “person” is synonymous with “subject,” while “word” is synonymous with “signifier;” thus, the signifier represents the subject (speaking it) for another subject (i.e., the word represents a person to another person). We are always mediated through language—it is ONLY through signifiers that we can represent ourselves; however, we really do not represent ourselves … representation is on a signifier-to-signifier basis via the medium of the subject, NOT on a subject-to-subject basis via signifiers. In our entanglement in a language that is not ours alone, and barred of any direct representation or even existence outside of the language that structures us, we find that we are simultaneously joined and alienated by language.
While Lacan was influenced early on by Surrealism, and likewise believed that if one stripped away the meanings and language we have been molded and raised in, one would reveal only images, and NOT logical or rational propositions, at the same time he held that there is no subject outside of the structures of language, and, even further, that the dominate part of our minds (the unconscious) itself was actually structured like a language. This unconscious that is structured like a language reveals itself, not in images per se, but in glimpses—through symptoms, slips of the tongue, jokes, and dreams.
(3) MIND: There is an unconscious, but psyche’s composition for Lacan is not Freud’s; rather, Lacan’s mind is a tripartite composition of “The Imaginary,” “The Symbolic,” and “The Real:”
The Imaginary: the domain of images (cf. explanation above in final ¶ in “meaning” section).
The Symbolic: the domain of signifiers and our structuring by language (cf. explanation above in “meaning”).
The Real: is not “reality.” Rather, the Real is a return of impossibility; this impossibility is that which is impossible to imagine or say. Engagement in the Real is continuous, even when we do not acknowledge or reflect upon it; e.g., man is always confronted by an impossibility of being a woman (where these “genders” are not necessarily genders, a man can be a man biologically or psychically, therefore, some men can biologically—to some degree—acquire the anatomy of a woman, but not become woman, or some men can psychically—to some degree—acquire the mental disposition of woman, but not become woman). A clearer example is to look at the less common occurrence of trauma—in trauma, the person is confronted by horror or pain that s/he cannot imagine or speak; we call this traumatic shock. In time, the person may overcome this impossibility to some degree, but often will never fully reconcile the “Real” with the actual reality.
Along with this tripartite model of the mind, there are three acts of mind that we develop in our human development from infancy and thereafter constantly live in:
Need: is for a satisfaction of power over sensations.
Demand: is for what does not exist.
Desire: is a property of language; he follows Hegel in proposing the first desire humans have is the desire for recognition, and since recognition is of a subject by a subject, and the subject, for Lacan, is represented only by signifiers, desire, then, is expressed symbolically. Desire is a property of signifiers, and since signifiers are necessarily public, desire is not a private act. Thus, the two formulations are that desire is always desire for another’s desire and that desire is always desire for difference. The former can be conceived following Hegel’s desire for recognition; the latter is expressing the intersection of desire and demand: we desire otherness, but desire that otherness to be mine, thus, not otherness properly, therefore the object of our demand (the other) is impossible (because demands are always for the impossible and the other cannot be other and be me at the same time). The maintenance of this impossibility of desire is fantasy (e.g., separated lovers fantasizing they are together so as to keep desire strong; or stagnant lovers, together too long, fantasizing that the partner is really someone else, so as to keep desire strong).
The imbalance of any of these acts of the psyche can cause an explosion of neurosis, psychosis, or perversion. These three mental “disorders,” for Lacan and unlike Freud, are not properly speaking disorders in that he considers life itself to be pathological, a disease. There is no healthiness; we are ALL either neurotic, psychotic, perverse, or a combination of neuroses and perversions to varying degrees; only psychosis is a condition that cannot be in degrees, you are or you are not, there is no in between. Lacan often calls perversion “Père version” (play on French “father”) because he sees most perversion as a transgression against the Symbolic Father (not biological father, but a person/thing that comes between mother and baby, so baby sees s/he/it as stealing away its mother’s desire). Perversion seeks to eliminate a mediation of the other or the outside and self-satisfy/self-gratify its “desires” (in non-Lacanian sense). Perversion is often concerning a mother and child, therefore leading Lacan to propose women’s tendencies to use perversions as power over and against men; be it by woman’s obsession on sexy shoes (not to self-arouse, but other who cannot ‘enjoy’ wearing/owning shoes, or a woman’s creation/heightening of duplicitous nature (librarian by day, wild woman by night, or the mother by day, hooker by night stereotypes)).
(4) FEMININE SEXUALITY: According to Lacan, there are two types of sexuality: Phallic and Non-Phallic. Masculine sexuality is Phallic, where as Feminine sexuality can be EITHER Phallic or Non-Phallic; religious mystics share the sexuality type of the Feminine. Two important notes:
First, Phallic does not mean penis; a penis is a phallus, but Phallus is not only a penis; rather, it is anything with power that can move or generate change or growth; thus the female reproductive organs can be a phallus, the baby is a phallus for the mother, and men often consider women to have or be the phallus. The phallus is often conceived of, despite being a motive force or power, as also being a lack—therefore man vaguely identifies a lack he feels, seeks to satisfy his lack by having a woman, thinking she will make him whole, thinking she is the phallus or the lack he has; yet she cannot make him whole because, for Lacan, we can NEVER really be whole, even if we experience fleeting moments of wholeness in jouissance. Jouissance is very important to understand: it is the French word for “enjoyment,” but with a sexual connotation our language does not convey; BUT, for Lacan, it is a technical term: conceive of jouissance as enjoyment that does NOT equal pleasure (although maintains a sexual connotation); in Lacan’s theory, jouissance is the compensation between demand and desire as a way of living with the Real.
Second, Masculine does not only mean biological men just as Feminine does not only mean biological women. Masculine and Feminine refer to psychical types, not biological or physical genders, therefore a woman can by Masculine and a man can be Feminine. Essentially, gender is psychic, not physical.
So, if Masculine sexuality is always Phallic, yet Feminine sexuality is not always Non-Phallic, rather, it can be EITHER Phallic or Non-Phallic, how are we to understand Feminine sexuality? Essentially, for Lacan, we do not and cannot understand Feminine sexuality. All that he determines, by examining religious mystics who share the duplicitous sexual nature with Woman, is that the mystics and Woman have some special relation to the Infinite, the Limitless (keeping in mind that Lacan was an atheist, therefore the relation can be to God, but the Infinite is not limited to God). Woman, he says, can produce feminine jouissance without limit because they stand outside of the rules that govern and limit Phallic jouissance (i.e. ‘rise and fall’; castration).
Similar to Kierkegaard and Pseudo-Dionysius, he believed the limitless and that participates in the limitless exceeds all rational comprehension, thus concludes “‘Woman’ does not exist.” Since we can fully articulate the essence of Man by describing his sexuality, we know him, thus, he exists; since we cannot articulate the Woman’s essence, because her sexuality exceeds comprehension, we cannot know her, thus, she does not exist.
Thus, the concrete, biological or physical men and women, who participate in the ideal Man and Woman (who are only as they are through and by language), are forever incompatible (see footnote eight). Likewise, homosexual partners are incompatible because either there will be an ideal Man and Woman in the two men or two women, or, by fact of their concrete existence coming from a man and a woman, they too are ‘tainted’ by eternal incompatibility. Further, Lacan argues, “there is no such thing as a sexual relationship.” This does not mean that no one engages in sexual intercourse, but that there cannot be a real, concrete relation between that which has existence and that which does not have existence. Further, no sexual relation can exist in concrete terms because the woman always wants one ideal man, and men always want an infinitude of worthless women. In essence, women desire the ideality that nullifies them just as men desire the opposite to be real for them. Women, Lacan believes, often find their “ideal man” in their baby, viewing the baby as the Phallus, they desire the impossible object of incest; men, on the other hand, desire many worthless women because they believe women to be the Phallus, thus, wish to satisify their own lack of the Phallus.
(5) Jacques Lacan, an excerpt from his: On Feminine Sexuality: The Limits of Love and Knowledge … Assuredly, what appears on bodies in the enigmatic form of sexual characteristics—which are merely secondary—makes sexed beings (êtres sexués). No doubt. But being is the jouissance of the body as such, that is, as asexual (asexué), because what is known as sexual jouissance is marked and dominated by the impossibility of establishing as such, anywhere in the enunciable, the sole One that interests us, the One of the relation “sexual relationship” (rapport sexuel). That is what analytic discourse demonstrates in that, to one of these beings qua sexed, to man insofar as he is endowed with the organ said to be phallic—I said, “said to be”—the corporeal sex (sexe corporel) or sexual organ (sexe) of woman—I said, “of woman,” whereas in fact woman does not exist, woman is not whole (pas toute)—woman’s sexual organ is of no interest (ne lui dit rien) except via the body’s jouissance. Analytic discourse demonstrates—allow me to put it this way—that the phallus is the conscientious objection made by one or more of the two sexed beings to the service to be rendered to the other. Don’t talk to me about women’s secondary sexual characteristics because, barring some sort of radical change, it is those of the mother that take precedence in her. Nothing distinguishes woman as a sexed being other than her sexual organs (sexe). Analytic experience attests precisely to the fact that everything revolves around phallic jouissance, in that woman is defined by a position that I have indicated as “not whole” (pas-tout) with respect to phallic jouissance. I will go a little further. Phallic jouissance is the obstacle owing to which man does not come (n’arrive pas), I would say, to enjoy woman’s body, precisely because what he enjoys is the jouissance of the organ. That is why the superego, which I qualified earlier as based on the (imperative) “Enjoy!”, is a correlate of castration, the latter being the sign with which an avowal dresses itself up (se pare), the avowal that jouissance of the Other, of the body of the Other, is promoted only on the basis of infinity (de l’infinitude). I will say which infinity—that, no more and no less, based on Zeno’s paradox. Achilles and the tortoise, such is the schema of coming (le schème du jouir) for one pole (côté) of sexed beings. When Achilles has taken his step, gotten it on with Briseis, the latter, like the tortoise, has advanced a bit, because she is “not whole,” not wholly his. Some remains. And Achilles must take a second step, and so on and so forth. It is thus that, in our time, but only in our time, we have managed to define numbers—true or, better still, real numbers. Because what Zeno hadn’t seen is that the tortoise does not escape the destiny that weighs upon Achilles—its step too gets shorter and shorter and it never arrives at the limit either. It is on that basis that a number, any number whatsoever, can be defined, if it is real. A number has a limit and it is to that extent that it is infinite. It is quite clear that Achilles can only pass the tortoise—he cannot catch up with it. He only catches up with it at infinity (infinitude). Here then is the statement (le dit) of the status of jouissance insofar as it is sexual. For one pole, jouissance is marked by the hole that leaves it no other path than that of phallic jouissance. For the other pole, can something be attained that would tell us how that which up until now has only been a fault (faille) or gap in jouissance could be realized? Oddly enough, that is what can only be suggested by very strange glimpses. “Strange” is a word that can be broken down in French--étrange, être-ange—and that is something that the alternative of being as dumb as the parakeet I mentioned earlier should keep us from falling into. Nevertheless, let us examine more closely what inspires in us the idea that, in the jouissance of bodies, sexual jouissance has the privilege of being specified by an impasse. In this space of jouissance, to take something that is limited or closed constituted a locus, and to speak of it constitutes a topology. In a text soon to be published that is at the cutting edge of my discourse last year, I believe I demonstrate the strict equivalence between topology and structure. In we take that as our guide, what distinguishes anonymity from what we talk about as jouissance—namely, what is regulated by law—is a geometry. A geometry implies the heterogeneity of locus, namely that there is a locus of the Other. Regarding this locus of the Other, of one sex as Other, as absolute Other, what does the most recent development in topology allow us to posit? I will posit here the term “compactness.” Nothing is more compact than a fault, assuming that the intersection of everything that is enclosed therein is accepted as existing over an infinite number of sets, the result being that the intersection implies this infinite number. That is the very definition of compactness. The intersection I am talking about is the same one I put forward earlier as being that which covers or poses an obstacle to the supposed sexual relationship. Only “supposed,” since I state that analytic discourse is premised solely on the statement that there is no such thing, that it is impossible to found (poser) a sexual relationship. Therein lies analytic discourse’s step forward and it is thereby that it determines the real status of all the other discourses. Named here is the point that covers the impossibility of the sexual relationship as such. Jouissance, qua sexual, is phallic—in other words, it is not related to the Other as such. …
... N O T E S :  Note similarity to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.
 This idea is not original to Lacan; he was deeply influenced by Ferdinand de Saussure, 1857-1913, Swiss linguist, main influence behind “Structuralism:” a European movement in the social/human sciences, 1950s-70s, founded by Claude Levi-Strauss, who was deeply indebted to Saussure’s linguistics. Structuralism believes society is organized per a form of significant communication and exchange (of information, knowledge, myth, members, etc). These structures show a deep social rationality. They are revealed not by observation but by inference and deduction. Structuralism is less concerned with subjectivity, history, or relativism because language (field’s basis) is essentially a rule governed social system of signs, and effective communication depends on the speaker’s resources within the codes of language itself. Notable structuralists include Noam Chomsky, Umberto Eco, and Edmund Leach.
 Note the similarity to Kierkegaard’s description of Abraham’s necessary silence.
 The Real, influenced by/influences vast literature: strong parallels to Platonic images, e.g., truly truthful existence is of Forms, whereas all here around us that seems to be real is only imitations of Forms’ reality. Another parallel: Guy Debord, father of Situationist movement, whose Society of the Spectacle examined mediation inherent in all social relationships, not just by language, meaning, and image, but combination of these in that they wove a social cloak of irreal reality. These themes are expanded in more contemporary thinkers like Jean Baudrillard (whose work The Precession of Simulacra proposes the existence of reality or life as Simulacra, or an unreal representation; he says: “Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.... It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real”) and Fredric Jameson (who likewise conceives of modernity as living in a hyperreality that is not properly speaking real, explaining this by saying that the simulacrum’s “peculiar function lies in what Sartre would have called the derealization of the whole surrounding world of everyday reality.”
 Note the similarities to Hegel (desire and recognition) and the Kierkegaard (the impossibility believed in anyway).
 Lacan claims that all complaint about one’s neuroses, psychoses, and perversions are relaying both true suffering and a level of jouissance (cf. Feminine Sexuality section, below)—Essentially, we a natural-but-sick thrill due our infirmities—connects to desiring recognition from others--e.g. child plays being sick to get love and doting from concerned parents, but more unconscious, deluded.
 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book XX: On Feminine Sexuality: The Limits of Love and Knowledge.
 Yet another indebtedness—this theory was proposed by the rather obscure Otto Weininger, a very curious figure, who borrowed a great deal from Kant and Nietzsche and synthesized their ideas with science (both respectable and not) to “answer” the question of sexual difference that led to an ethics of absolute nihilism which coaxed the end of humanity. He cam up with mathematical formulas to determine the ratio of maleness to femaleness in each individual, supposing each to be at some degree of bisexuation; this formula proposed woman as the null point and man as one, but ran into trouble when his ideal conception was then translated in the latter half of the book to a concrete conception, and he declared Woman, the null point, zero, nothing, as fickle, seductive, and dangerous albeit vacuous. Thus, she both existed and did not exist. But anyway, Lacan is using Masculine and Feminine as Ideal types, like Weininger, and may be accused of running into trouble when next discussing concrete men and women using the same theoretical crutch.
 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book XX: On Feminine Sexuality: The Limits of Love and Knowledge, 7.
 Notice the locution here, “woman’s sexual organ is of no interest,” “…ne lui dit rien,”—the idiom here for “of no interest” employs dit, a term that occurs over and over again in this lecture--dire as a verb is “to say,” thus, le dire is translated as “saying [it],” “speaking [it],” “enunciating [it],” “reading [it];” Le dit is translated variously as “what is said,” “the said,” “the statement,” “the spoken;” rien means “nothing,” and rien á dire means having “nothing to say [about…];” thus, literally, the idiom points out that woman’s sexual organ says nothing about itself…for a thinker as concerned with the structuring of the body and identity by language, funny he is not picking up on the silence of woman’s sexual organs—Nietzsche does not remain silent on this idea.
 …Lacan is asserting here that Woman with a capitol W, Woman as singular in essence, does not exist; Woman as an all-encompassing idea (a Platonic form) is an illusion. There is a multiplicity of women, but no essence of “Womanhood” or “Womanliness.”…[translator’s note]. See my footnote eight above, concerning Otto Weininger to fill out this idea [my note].
 While the ostensible meaning here is that “man does not manage to enjoy woman’s body,” arriver is a slang term for “to come” in the sexual sense [translator’s note].
 It should be kept in mind here that, in French, the noun tortue (“turtle” or “tortoise”) is feminine. Regarding Briseis, Achilles’ captive mistress, see Homer’s Iliad, Book I, verse 184 and Book XIX, verses 282-300 [translator’s note].
 “Fault” is not moral here, it is as a fault in the earth, a canyon, etc. [my note].
 “Être-ange”—Lacan is playing with the verb “être,” “to be,” and the masculine noun, “ange,” “angel” in relation to the adjective and adverb “étrange,” strange; “étranger,” which he does not use, means “stranger” or “foreigner,” and perhaps would have made his word play more interesting, as the adjective strange relates more directly to being through “stranger,” and the synonymous “foreigner” relates to Woman as Other, which he will soon propose [my note].
 Lacan is referring to a tale that Picasso had a parakeet who was quite in love with him, nibbled on his clothing, and thus, according to Lacan, was in love with the clothed Picasso—take this as you will, either that the parakeet is in love with something that is not essential to the being of Picasso, in love with the façade he wears, or is supposed to be representative of feminine love; there is no clear explanation in Lacan as to how we are to understand this [my note].
 Topology: a mathematical study adopted by contemporary European philosophy; for the mathematician, topology asks qualitative questions about geometrical objects or structures. One example is to imagine the NYC subway maps, or the Pittsburgh bus route maps…these maps are qualitatively different than street/driving maps. How do they differ? The subway/bus maps will give different information than a reality-based map, i.e., the top of the subway/bus map may not be north, the bottom may not be south, the entire map may not employ the same mileage or proportion scale, they may include some roads in part and exclude other main roads, etc. Continental philosophy adopts this idea for many reasons, but a few include questions like the following: a text may have a topology just as a subway map does, the text may not be an example of non-fictional or fictional realism, but be just as valid and comprehensible view of a reality, then does the ir-real reality exist or not? We cannot find in necessarily in the real world, but if we understand it, does it not mean its rational, existent? Also, think of Nietzsche’s Genealogy or Hegel’s Phenomenology, sketch out the books in your imagination, can we not view the text like a subway map? If we think of self-consciousness as the stop after consciousness, does this give us any insight into the meaning of self-consciousness and consciousness? Does it allow us a way to read the text, as if following or drawing as we go a map of it? Does it reveal that all of our thinking/writing is inherently spatial and temporal? Beyond texts, think of the body as a map; here we can ask about the markings of civilization on a body, or ask about whether the body is the subway version or the street version of a map, i.e. is the body then an abstraction from empirical reality, or is it a literal depiction of the reality? Etc. etc. etc. LACAN is suggesting that jouissance is like a place, a space, that can be charted or studied through topology, and this topology would give us insight or reveal the structure of the space of jouissance [my note].
 In Continental philosophy, “Absolute Other” typically refers to God, but Lacan employs it for humans or the ideas of humans alone, thus, it is woman (in her gender) as absolute other [my note].