In the following lines, you can find the texts of the symposium titled as “What does Lacan say about desire?” which held in Istanbul, on March 2, 2019. The first is written by Idan Oren that is the text of the speech of him. The second one is the text I wrote in reply to his article. And the third and last one is Idan’s response to my text.
Thus said the desirer: “It’s not it”
March 2nd, 2019, İstanbul, Conference: What does Lacan say about desire?
So “What does Lacan say about desire?” That’s our title today. Surely he says many things about desire, not all of them are consistent, and not all of them offer themselves to understanding. I singled out *a moment* that I will present as my own little answer to this question.
I have quite a few of justifications for this – both for choosing this moment in particular and for choosing a moment, in speaking about desire – because choosing to speak of a moment is in itself part of my answer. But if I present you with the justifications I will not have time to present the moment, so I will offer you this moment, and if this will seem relevant for you, as patients, as clinicians and as desiring subjects, perhaps you will take it on yourselves to justify it. This is a clinical matter because sometimes patients spend years in treatment justifying themselves before they get to say what they really have to say.
In seminar III Lacan says:
“To be a psychoanalyst is simply to open your eyes to the evident fact that nothing malfunctions more than human reality… Psychoanalysis… shows you that nothing is more stupid than human destiny, that is, that one is always being fooled. Even when one does do something successfully, it is precisely not what one wanted to do. There is nothing more disappointed than a gentleman who is supposed to have attained the pinnacle of his wishes. One only need speak with him for three minutes, frankly, as perhaps only the artifice of the psychoanalytic couch permits, to know that in the end, all that stuff is just the sort of thing he could not care less about and, furthermore, that he is particularly troubled by all sorts of things. Analysis is about becoming aware of this and taking it into account. ”
I constructed from Seminar VI, Desire and its Interpretation, three such moments, which may be called moments of “malfunction in reality”. And Lacan’s text suggests that the reality malfunctions because what is at stake for the subject is not to be successful and happy as he claims. Whenever a new patient comes to speak to me I do everything I can to find out what malfunctions in his or her reality that makes her come to speak now. Often, it is to be found elsewhere than what the patient presents as his reason for coming. This clinical direction that I am offering here is the initial point of departure for a clinic of desire if I can call Lacanian psychoanalysis by this name.
Just last week a young lady came to speak to me because of what she called depression, loss of meaning to life, and she associated it with sexual tendencies that she acted upon for the first time in her life. Now she faces some decisions. In a psychotherapeutic framework, we could help her arrange her life in the neatest way possible, taking into account these sexual tendencies. But I had some indications that she could do very well with arranging her life (all too well, in fact) and that the sexual tendencies have nothing to do with her depression. After picking on some of her statements it became clear that acting as she did disturb her relationship with what we may call here God, a relationship that stabilized her life, and that it is this new anger towards God that brought this depression like loss of meaning.
Now three moments:
Lacan speaks in Seminar VI of a scene from some film in which the protagonist, a music box collector, presents to an audience a highly cherished object for him – a particularly beautiful music box. And at the moment he unveils it, reveals it to his audience, something happens to him that Lacan puts like this:
“At that moment the character is literally in this position… of shame: he blushes, he effaces himself, he disappears, he is very embarrassed. He has shown what he has shown, but how could those present understand that we find ourselves here at this level, at this point of oscillation that we grasp, which shows itself in its extreme form in this passion of the collector for the object. It is one of the forms of the object of desire. What the subject shows is nothing other than the most important, most intimate point of himself. What is supported by this object, is precisely what he cannot unveil, even to himself, it is this something which is at the very edge of the greatest secret.” (59)
Second point – “The hippopotamus… maps out what one can call his territory delimiting it by a series of relays, of points which should sufficiently mark for those who ought to recognize it, namely his fellows, that this is his… in short the hippopotamus is found to protect his pasturage with his excrement.” (74)
Then Lacan goes on to say that because man’s relation to his object is mediated by language his relation to this object is problematized in the following manner:
“For man, it is not his pasturage that he protects with shit;… it is his shit that he protects as a pledge of the essential pasturage, of the pasturage which is essential to be determined.”
So the hippo promises himself a territory by marking it with shit, while a man makes a big deal of his shit, and in this making a big deal of his shit that he becomes human, this is to say, he establishes for himself a human world.
The reason I called this second point “a moment” is that it anticipates a moment in which the shit that we make a big deal about is put to some question or to some trial, or worse yet – is exposed as being nothing but a piece of shit.
In both these moments, Lacan identifies an object– music box and shit – that a lot, and perhaps everything is at stake for the subject in this object. In fact, his reality is at stake in this object. And there are many more such objects scattered all across the seminar. Why this focus on objects on a seminar on desire?
Here I will offer a basic, formal, definition of desire – first, I will say what desire is not. It is not an affect, an emotion. This goes against our basic intuition concerning the term of desire. Because we can naturally say – I feel a strong desire. But Lacanian desire, strictly speaking, is not an affect – it is an effect. An effect of what? Of a particular kind of relationship to an object. How does Lacan characterize this relationship? Here Lacan becomes Lacanian. I quote from seminar VI:
“The object is found to be… this something which supports the subject precisely at the moment at which he has to confront as one might say his own existence, which supports the subject in his existence, in his existence in the most radical sense, namely precisely in this that he exists in language, namely that he consists in something that is outside himself, in something that he can only grasp in its proper nature as language at the precise moment when he, as subject, must efface himself, vanish, disappear behind a signifier, which is precisely what one might call the panic point around which he must attach himself to something, it is precise to the object qua object of desire that he attaches himself.” (59)
I promise you that by the end of my presentation this paragraph will make sense to you, I will read it again at the end.
So at this moment, we can grasp two major things about the subject’s relation to the object: 1. The object supports the subject’s existence; 2. In the privileged moments of confronting the object, the subject must “efface himself, vanish, disappear” (as did the music box collector).
And when speaking about humans making a big deal of their shit Lacan says that the shit serves as “as a pledge of the essential pasturage”. What is a pledge [garde en gage]?
It is a legal term that means a thing that is given as security for the fulfillment of a contract or the payment of a debt, that will be taken away as payment in case of a failure. To put it simply, it is something that acts as a guarantee. So the shit here, as an object, serves as a guarantee for the existence of human reality, that’s how I translate the “essential pasturage” when speaking about subjects. This may sound delusional, but I hope to show you that this is very accurate, that this object – which may as well be shit – is what supports the subject as such.
As for the third moment, it’s in fact a list of names I collected from seminar VI, names that Lacan gives to this moment which is at stake in desire (at least, this is how I read it):
Lack of validation
Lack of security
I choose one of them for my explanation of this moment: Hilfolsigkeit. It appears in German because while this is a term Freud uses in very important junctions, it is only Lacan that made it into a concept, a meaningful concept.
Lacan says, almost in passing, in Seminar VI:
“Desire must be produced at the same place where at first helplessness [Hilflosigkeit, détresse] originates, is experienced.”
So if we want to know something about where desire is produced and it must be produced where first helplessness originates, we must know something about the origin of helplessness.
In Seminar VI Lacan gives a wonderful definition of helplessness: the position of being without recourse [“c’est cette position d’être sans recours”]. This is a very accurate definition from the point of view of what is the mandate of psychoanalysis in its interventions. Because helplessness is defined, in other discourses, as being unable to protect yourself against some danger, for example. So what is so accurate in this definition?
Recourse suggests a turning to someone or something for help or protection. For example, they settled the matter without recourse to law.
More specifically – if I take a mortgage from the bank and then the house loses its value and I sell it for a lower price – if I took the mortgage with recourse, it means that it is the bank that will have to suffer the loss. This is to have recourse.
And not to have recourse: If I have a few Turkish Liras, and possessions that are assessed in Turkish Liras, and in one moment the Turkish lira’s losses a lot of its worth, and I have these liras without recourse, then I have no one to turn to – no instance to turn to, I believe the word for “instance” in Turkish is “merci” – to account for my loss.
Another example – where we must start getting more structural (which, in this case, also means poetic), to get close to Lacan’s idea of desire: I have some document, a bill, a word, a promise – and it is not honored or met, or it seems to me that it is not. Or the conditions for it being met are not clear to me. The question of recourse, if I have recourse or not – is a question of who do I turn to, either to demand that it is met or to explain to me what why it wasn’t met or what was meant by it (because maybe I didn’t understand it).
So we have something very valuable in our hands, that at some point was very valuable, that seems very valuable, that we rely on it having value, even who we are relies on it having value– a promise we got, from our parents, from our lover, from our boss, from the government, from God, and we are sufficiently naïve, or dupes, as Lacan would call it many years after seminar VI, that this value is guaranteed. And then something happens and we are left with it and it seems to be worthless, meaningless.
Let’s say, some character trait or quality or attribute that we have that was admired and cherished at home, something that the other attributed to us and valued in us – and then we go out to the world, and we find out that this thing that was found beautiful, endearing, wonderful – is worthless in the world. This thing which was a gold coin in some market, that could buy a lot in that market, is completely worthless in other markets.
We had beauty that dazzled the other, and we lost our beauty; we had a skill that was highly appreciated and now the market changed and our skill is useless; we had a high position in some group – work, family, social group – and we lost it – and I will add, we never had certainty that we really have it, we had only our belief to rely on; we constantly were seeking for more and more validation of our worth – ok, this and this and that think I am beautiful, but that one thinks I’m ugly; I have this great skill, but at any moment I may encounter a situation in which this skill will be useless, I think I am smart and knowledgeable, but there is some ticklish or scratching suspicion that all this knowledge is an elucubration, do you know this term by Lacan? That it is all falan filan, blah blah – it can be our religion, our profession in which we are professionals – it can be any discourse what so ever, that while it supports us, it can seem blah blah to us in some points.
And this is just as true from the other direction, from us to the Other – there was something or someone that we cherished, interested in, that we aspired to, wanted to penetrate, to conquer, and something changed and we lost interest in it.
So then – to be a subject is to be determined in the market of the Other, not to have any “objective” value, but rather be valued in a market of desiring others – we have many objects in us, in who we are and in what we possess (this touches on Lacan’s distinction between being and having), and we put all our faith in it, we trust in it, but we are never absolutely sure that we will always be able to redeem our objects, to cash them, to affect the other with them, to do something in the world with them, but this is nonetheless all that we have.
When I was a young child my parents were selling the apartment we were living in and potential buyers came to see the apartment. At one of these visits the door opened and a man was standing there and he winked at me, and I thought to myself, what a nice funny guy, and I winked back at him. A few seconds later I noticed that he continues winking to the walls. He had an involuntary tick in his eye. I was ashamed at that moment. I think this is a very small, but accurately isolated moment of helplessness as having no recourse. Because something that I thought was coming from a place that was inhabited by someone, by some authority, merci, place that could register my existence, that could acknowledge me, recognize me as a human being, as a fellow human being, is in fact an empty place, a place completely indifferent to me, a place that doesn’t take me, in my little presence on my parents’ orange sofa, into account. At that moment I was left absolutely alone with my own wink with no one to turn it to, with no one to address it to, with no one to accept it, to cherish it, to validate it. This is why I was for a moment exactly effaced, vanished, disappeared, collapsed, faded – all of Lacan’s terms that I mentioned are applicable here.
There is knowledge there: what we thought had value in itself, in fact had a value that was guaranteed of being valuable, of having worth – so here an essential step is made– that this had worth for the Other, this is to say, it’s worth depends of the guarantee of the Other. This moment, I suggest is to be called a moment of having no recourse. So in one moment, the world can become a dead place for us, a place with nothing to offer us. Here we are getting closer to desire, because what another name can we give this losing interest in the world, a value in things in the world, than a clogging, plugging, blocking of desire?
I believe that it is at least good to hold the idea that whenever someone asks to speak to us as a patient, something of this order has happened, or almost happened, something happened that gave some glimpse or a hint of glimpse at this space in which there is no recourse, where there is a merci lacking.
I will say it more sharply – our ethics is such that guides us to assume this. Because we may as well take the positions of those who know that missing knowledge for the subject (we know what depression is, why it is caused and how to treat it), or those who can give him the guarantee he is lacking. But our position is different – for us, this is exactly the point when it is our desire as analysts that must function in the direction of the treatment. This deserves a longer elaboration that cannot be completed here.
In any case, the cure offered by psychoanalysis is dependent upon a knowledge of our helplessness. And the subject, as such, doesn’t want to know anything about his helplessness. This is a structural “doesn’t want to know”, because this is a knowledge that can only be gained when the subject is effaced.
So this is the last step I must take now – of the necessary link between this knowledge and the rectification of the position of the subject as desiring.
I want to lay another stress on this “no recourse” – what in fact do we encounter at this moment that I am trying to circumscribe? This is a moment in which all that we are and all that we possess finds no court, no instance, no arena, no judge, no father, no man of science, no imam, no leader – no master – to acknowledge, guarantee, validate, assure. What we are and what we have is torn there from all its links, links that give it meaning.
And it is here that the status of the object may change for us. This is one possible way to understand the “traversing” and “crossing” in Lacan’s famous “traversing the phantasm” or “crossing the plane of identification”, but in a very specific way – of repositioning ourselves in respect to the object. And I remind you that desire is an effect of a certain relation to the object.
Until this crossing, our relation to the object may be described as such: the objects are all either in front of us or in us, this is to say, in front of the other as we stand in front of him. So we have ideals, which serve as a compass, among all these objects that we either want to be or we want to have, guiding our way, and we follow them, and this keeps us walking, keep us in the game.
The moment I am situating is a moment in which these objects collapse for us, and with them, the subject itself collapses too. And now I want to read again the difficult-to-understand paragraph I presented before:
“The object is found to be… this something which supports the subject precisely at the moment at which he has to confront as one might say his own existence, which supports the subject in his existence, in his existence in the most radical sense [and here I add now, in his “stupid ineffable existence”, and Lacan would later put it], namely precisely in this that he exists in language, namely that he consists in something that is outside himself, in something that he can only grasp in its proper nature as language at the precise moment when he, as subject, must efface himself, vanish, disappear behind a signifier, which is precisely what one might call the panic point around which he must attach himself to something, it is precise to the object qua object of desire that he attaches himself.” (59)
Language here, and this disappearance behind a signifier – refers to the moment when it becomes clear that we were dupes, naïve, to think that all the attributes we have are real things with real value in itself, like gold, turn out to be owing their existence only to language, they turn out to be signifiers – that our subjectivity is held in them, suspended by them, that is why we experience this feeling of disappearing, being effaced, being helpless – because the place that seemed to guarantee language, to guarantee that these signifiers have a referent, that they are not just empty blah blah, at that moment we glimpse behind it and see that it is empty. This is one way to understand what Lacan calls in seminar 6 “there is no Other to the Other”. And not only does he say this, but he also says that this is “the great secret of psychoanalysis.”
But, there is a next step necessary here –otherwise, this moment could just as well lead to depression or madness or nihilism – here there is also a reconnecting to the object, qua object of desire. Back to the paragraph, to the last sentence: “which is precisely what one might call the panic point around which he must attach himself to something, it is precise to the object qua object of desire that he attaches himself.”
So I suggested that when all the objects in front of us collapse, here arises the option that the object changes its position in respect to us – or us in respect to it – and it is then situated behind us, as what pushes us, motivates us, this is to say, as CAUSE of our desire. So from being the aim or goal, what we want to possess or to be, it becomes now the cause. This is to say, it becomes the thing which causes us to chase objects in the first place, this is to say, that it determines us as desiring.
Lacan ends Seminar 11 with this direction exactly. There he puts it in these words:
“The analyst’s desire… isolates the a [the object as the cause of desire], places it at the greatest possible distance from the I [Ideal] that he, the analyst, is called upon by the subject to embody [what I called, “to be in front”]. It is from this idealization that the analyst has to fall in order to be the support of the separating a.”
In one of his essays, Montaigne writes that philosophy teaches us how to die. I would say that the experience of analysis is the experience of losing. But losing without falling to depression, bitterness or hatred –pain, disappointment, and sadness, of course – but to pain or to be sad is not to live without desire; analysis allows us a glimpse at the comic aspect of losing. To put it simpler yet, to lose objects without losing our desire together with the object.
A loved one dies prematurely, the house is burnt, money is lost, we become sick – there are two different sufferings here that must be distinguished. The pain and trouble that are related to the loss are not one with the question that opens up – why did this happen? There is this almost mythological image, which is perhaps trans-cultural, of a person in a state of helplessness raising his head and hands to the sky screaming why, why, why. And the real question here is actually “why me?”
I stress again – helplessness is not the experience of something terrible and irreversible in itself; rather, it has to do with the turning to the sky with a WHY that gets no answer.
This is the adult version of what every parent knows of the phase when children ask “why” about every little thing, and about every answer, they get until the parent eventually yells at the child –go eat your simit!
This is exactly why Lacan defines helplessness in a very specific manner: “Having no recourse before… the desire of the other.” That’s how helplessness is accepted by the psychoanalyst. This “Why” [hands to the sky] has a resonance of – what do you want from me? I did almost everything you asked for. Yes, I committed some crimes, but they were not terrible ones, and god knows I suffered heavy guilt for them – what do you want from me?! (this could be a 4th moment)
I think that reaching this ending of analysis has to do with this WHY resonating in the empty space in the Other, in the hole in the Other. In desiring, we are determined by this unique object, invented by Lacan, rather than by any object of demand, by any object that is articulated and therefore guaranteed in the field of the Other – and the response, I mean here response in a non-epistemic way, not an articulated answer, the response to this hole, lack of recourse, fall of our object – is desire. This one of the ways to speak of what analysis strives at.
I said before that the subject makes a big deal of his shit, refers to it as a big treasure. This also means that he guards it, doesn’t want to use it, play with it with the other – He fetishizes the object, that’s another way to say it. And that’s exactly because when he will do it, at one point or another something will necessarily happen to him of the nature of what I called today “moment”.
The thing which is not evident, displayed, or caused, by any object of the objects of the world, which are objects of demand – is desire. Because desire is conditioned by a different object, one that may not be displayed, and that when all is said and done the only proof for its existence is the fact that desire is possible.
This is why at the end of analysis there is a product that is put in both terms – 1) an object – at the end of analysis the analysand is a psychoanalyst because he is, in principle, in a position that he can be the object to any subject – this is because he was destitute in analysis, lost everything, was left with nothing; 2) but we also have a desire – because the analyst is not just an object, he\she is also a desire – there is no analysis without the desire of analyst.
So there we have it.
Desire and Love in Lacan
Some remarks on Idan Oren’s text
March 2, 2019, İstanbul, Conference: What does Lacan say about desire?
Just at the beginning of the text of Idan Oren, he says, “choosing to speak of a moment is in itself part of” his answer. The first sentence of his text is “What does Lacan say about desire?” “Moment”, what is the meaning of a moment in psychoanalysis? Could we say psychoanalysis is composed of singular moments that the subject transforms after passing over them? Lacan talks about “moment” in Seminar XI when he has introduced his notion of the drive. To be specific, we need to point out where Lacan uses the word “moment”: in the chapter of The deconstruction of the drive. French people in their Frenchness (I know this word doesn’t exist), Lacan says, they were mocking German chancellor Bismarck’s psychologische Moment, they also had a habit correcting use of the words. The moment is the opposite of constancy this is a shock force. I quote Lacan: “I think that this Stosskraft, or shock force, is simply a reference to the life force, to kinetic energy. In the drive, there is no question of kinetic energy; it is not a question of something that will be regulated with movement.” (Lacan, 1981, Four fundamental…). This is quite paradoxical because in the drive exist some constant forces, not a movement. Movement and moment are opposite pairs of each other.
Ok, well, if we returning to the example that Idan gave, “the wink example”, could we find there is a partial gaze object in this scene? Not the gaze of the man who is winking of course. But the gaze of the Other that Idan sees himself exists in the scene. This is a moment of course but on the other hand, the effect of the scopic drive pacifies the subject of Idan, one little moment. I think the shame; the important affect that affects the subject is one of the consequences of the confrontation of the Other’s gaze. Of course, we know very well, “There is no Other of the Other” and also Lacan claims “There is no Other.” But how we could apprehend this passivity inscribed itself into the scene? I think the shame is at stake here has the secondary status like a screen, in order to hide there is a hole, gap, abyss behind of the shame. Shame is something, on the other hand, hole-gap-abyss is nothing. So, “choosing a moment” is a wonderful option in that giving us an opportunity to grasp there is no consistency in the Other. Idan, over and over again -in the text presents today and also in the preliminary text-, points out there is no guarantee, there is no recourse, there is no compensation. In this point I ask myself, when Lacan talks about the status of the Other under the title of its absence quality, maybe he underlining another opportunity? In order to understand this, for an instant, we can think about if what happened the Other absolutely no exist? Only just the imaginary and the Lacanian real we have, after that, we have problems. An alternative explanation I propose, even though I’m not sure, thinking that Lacan offers us two modalities of the Other that allows absence and presence simultaneously exist. These are moments. As for the drive, there is permanence, because with the drive we are in the real, there is no gap, no void. But, the real itself is the gap, is the void. As we know the lack is the property of the symbolic, from this point we can say, the wink-experience of the Idan, for one little moment, the real glimpses. This point is important, because certain time after, Lacan argues the object of the desire is not just an object, is also a cause, and more importantly, this object-cause of desire is in the real, not an ordinary object we can find in reality. Idan also emphasizes this characteristic of the object in Lacan. “Cause” and “object-cause”, they are different things. I think, the gap, which apart from two of them this is, the border that we can say the border is between the real and the reality that the fantasy is located in. In this manner, the function of fantasy and the function of the affect I mentioned above are similar: Block the road is going to the real, the unnamable, the unsymbolizable. Additionally, there is one of the important affect: anguish. The affect doesn’t mislead, the affect of the real. Lacan, in his seminar Anxiety, made some connections between the object a and anguish. I find it very important that Idan mentions the names that Lacan gives to the moment that is at stake in desire: collapse, fainting, effacing, embarrassment, shame, and Hilflosigkeit… All of them had had already carried on certain references to the lack, to the impossibility, to the incompleteness. Well, if the subject confronts with her or his object-cause of desire, what about then?
Something malfunctions, something stumbled, something it is not easy to grasp. In the love life of the subject, when the subject sees him or her that is the right person, then, this is too much are or too less. Malfunction in love life is fundamental because there is no object, in reality; the value of the partner is exaggerated or disdained. This is a measure that we compare ourselves with the measure, we are too much or we are not enough to him or her. Via scrutinizing ourselves we try to assume this lacking of “true partner.” “Malfunction in reality”, no doubt, is the main characteristic of reality itself. In order to understand what is not properly functioning, in reality, it has to understand the reality is innately connected with fantasy. “Too much” and “too little” are malfunctioning in order to prevent the desire to exhaust and also, we can see the proof of these situations in love life. When we love we couldn’t desire when we desire we couldn’t love, of course, this is not necessarily repeating itself in all possible conditions. But complaints about love and desire always exist since the beginning of human history. The very fantasy itself is the proof of this “malfunction in reality”, Idan’s text gives us another proof when he quotes Lacan that “Desire must be produced at the same place where at first helplessness [Hilflosigkeit, détresse] originates, is experienced.” Helplessness and malfunction are not the same things but it can be seen a connection between two of them. The subject desires where he is in helplessness, where he is experienced his lacking in being. All of the words Idan finds out in Lacan’s VI. Seminar, are they witnesses of this lacking? I believe, we put the glimpse of the real in here using the real here is kind of impossibility, kind of incompleteness. We have two options deals with the helplessness, first, we can choose to believe in it or not believe in it. So, someone believes in his symptom, this is the first step, he believes his symptom carries on hidden meaning, and then, he could choose to go to the psychoanalysis. Idan mentions something important, I think, to convince and to believe are different concepts. Someone convinces something is not the same thing believing to something. For example, one convinces psychoanalysis is the best method to cure but not to believe to go to psychoanalysis, he spends many years to decide to go, to see a psychoanalyst. I think, convincing has symbolic quality, even though belief has real, we don’t choose something after we are completely convinced. Lacan also mentions in Seminar XI, Picasso’s statement, I do not seek, I find. Belief is an act, not just an idea that is one of the products of cognitive processes. Desire and helplessness and belief are interconnected because of the helplessness is emerged from the subject’s body, from a living being. He believes thus he moves, but of course, obsessional subject as a neurotic he tries to prevent himself from his desire, he is in limbo. No one says he is not in a helpless situation; he wants to escape any possible confrontation with his desire because of this the way of maintaining his desire impossible. It can be seen easily in his love life when he desires a partner which is impossible, unattainable, where his desire he is not there, where he loves he is not there.
Let’s turn to the first moment that Idan gives as an example: A music box collector. When he shows to the audience the most valuable thing in his life “he blushes, he effaces himself, he disappears, he is very embarrassed.” What is important in this scene? The music box or something else? I propose something slightly different, the music box is not important, sure, important for him but not the audience. I believe, he reveals something else. He put himself to the scene as a person shows most cherished object for him and so, he puts himself in a position he shows to the audience his most cherished object wanting to be seen. Namely, he is on the scene a person shows a thing that other people are looking at him in this position -he and his most valuable object together for people’s gaze. His desire is wanting to be seen as a position someone has a valuable thing. Of course, the audience, on that occasion, sees him, look at him. But with a little problem, his accomplished desire’s burden is effacing himself. He reduced nothing, I think, as he is a neurotic, he is experienced strong shame. Here, shame is the veil which veils the veil, veils the nothingness of him. I want to ask you, what is the meaning of a man has something extremely valuable and he wants to show him to the people? Through the unveiling of his object-cause of desire, he makes a scene he is disappeared, but the shame lends a helping hand to him. Yes, thus he shows his disappearance but the shame veils the most radical nothingness behind his subject; in this way he is just becoming a shameful man on the scene. As you can see, having something is not the whole story; we need recourse for giving us certain guarantees in order to be sure of having something. I am sorry, there is nothing like a guaranteeing agency. Therefore, our subjectivity is divided into two parts in this context: to show our lack or not. This is a decision, on the other hand, to show is an act inasmuch as it means to open our lacking in being, in another saying, open our castration to others. This is quite important. This is the main condition of love. Giving our lack is a request for love, you know the famous formula of Lacan: “Love is giving what you don’t have”. To being loveable is to giving our insufficiencies, our clumsiness, our inability; we give it in return we expect our partners admit it. In love, we have an expectation that we want to see the flame of the love burn our loved with our love, in fact, our desire goes in its way without this reciprocity, it can take care of itself. Actually, this is the question for me, desire can do without approval, without recognition of other/Other, without any third parties mediation?
Let’s turn again to the case of the music box collector. Isn’t this scene resemble a photograph? Let’s look at the elements of the scene: music box, collector, audience. This is a fixated scene, everything has its own position. Could we say this scene is the manifestation of the fantasy of the collector? What is the status of accomplished fantasy being other than horror? If we remember Lacan’s formula of the fantasy, $◇a, this is a fixed formula, this is a fixité. When the collector finds himself is in the accomplished fantasy, he doesn’t desire anymore, the scene threats him with aphanisis. There is no mercy, no recourse, no guaranteeing Other. In this fixated scene, the only thing he has his effacement and his shame. I think this is the “love point” for him if he stands his lacking and transmits it to a potential lover. And also, this “love point” might be emerging of his psychoanalytic demand. So, this point gives him an opportunity to count someone in his castration. Hope and expectation together might be asymptotically getting close to lacking. If we get a belief we are lacking we could potentially have a hope one day we would be in an ideal position, thus, we have an expectation. But, on the other hand, hope and expectation are not being completed with this kind of narcissistic-imaginary wholeness, they also indicate another reference point is assuming our lack, we have already been lacking.
I think you know very well one of Lacan’s statement, “Desire is always the Other’s desire.” Idan has remarked this and he added a different idea: “…to be a subject is to be determined in the market of the Other, not to have any ‘objective’ value, but rather be valued in a market of desiring others.” Strictly speaking, if I understand him correctly, he gives importance to our being as an object, namely, we are not mere subjects for others, we are also objects (of course “objet a”) for other/Other. I’d like to emphasize this point because there is dialectic in here, certain contexts we are subject and vice versa. This is the mutual recognition between human subjects. However, in turn, losing our value in the level of other’s/Other’s perspective I think it has to mention our phallic worth which is faith is always falling in nature. Idan rightfully reminds to us well-known phallic modality between being and having. When we get a phallic position in someone else’s eye we come to be in a suspicious position, because we know at least one option we could fall from there to the ground. This is the quite reversal of hope-expectation, on the other hand, these are similar inasmuch as we move along an axis like a stock certificate. “In the market of the Other” everything is solid could be evaporated. Each man has a claim he is phallus necessarily meet a hysteric she makes him castrated; each woman says she is The Woman she absolutely loses her phallic organ. For the very reason, the field of love and desire is the risking field. We are not sure whatever we believe what we are.
In the field of love and desire, subjects in order to protect themselves from these troubles they wear some protective shields. For example, if they feel they are too close to their object-cause of desire they want to run away or their objects would lose favor, fall into disfavor. And they might say, “This is not it!” I’ll give you two clinical examples:
One analysand, in his thirties, obsessional. He had a series of dreams that includes some beautiful woman. His wish in the dream getting closer to the woman but some obstacles between two of them, side of the woman: Woman has AIDS, a woman is crazy, a woman is distrustful. He had never ever attained a woman in his dreams. And besides, he projected the impossibility on to women. They are impossible women, no one -includes he of course- could touch them, no one loves them, and no one is becoming their lover. I think you could grasp easily, his desire is impossible and alive, one woman to another his desire is living in his dreams. This is the typical obsessional desire.
Another patient; in her late thirties; a woman; hysterical. She had a series of dreams that includes her husband and another man. Her husband in these dreams is portrayed as a passive, insufficient, coward figure. Once she is in bed with another man, but she feels nothing, sexual tone of the dream can’t reveal itself in the level of manifest dream content. Men in her dreams touch her but these touching means nothing. She is always unsatisfied. In the course of the analysis, her position is gradually changed. Her new position is she is wanting, she is wanting-being sexual satisfaction in her dreams. But, even now, she maintains her position as a nothing-want-to-know, she refuses to assume unconscious knowledge of this unsatisfaction. Why she is in unsatisfied position? But she talks. She also projects her castration onto men. You see, via this style, this effect of the object she is protected from castration and her desire maintains itself as a desire. Desire’s aim is maintaining itself is a desire, not satisfaction, not to transform impossible to possible.
Everything I said up to now is the part and parcel of Lacanian psychoanalysis, we owe all of these conceptualizations to Lacan. Without Lacan, we couldn’t think about love and desire in that manner. Without Lacan, we couldn’t make a connection between love, desire, helplessness, and lack. So, when we ask “What does Lacan say about desire?” I am sure so many concepts, terms, discussions out of this conference’s scope. Nevertheless, we know the Lacanian field is very open if someone asks himself/herself why I don’t love differently.
For conclusion, I have a question primarily for Idan and Ceren and of course, the people in this room: At the end of the Lacanian analysis, what we expect from psychoanalysis for our desire and love? What is the fate of the desire and love after a Lacanian analysis?
Response to Özgür’s commentary
I reread your commentary now, a few months later, and it pushed me to intense thinking. There are many beautiful ideas there, worth developing and taken further.
I want to share with you what my many thoughts converged to.
You made a distinction, delicate and beautiful, between “cause” and “object cause”, and in this distinction, you, in fact, raised the question – What is the cause in psychoanalysis? In Seminar XI (I’m pretty sure it’s there, I’m relying on my memory) Lacan says that cause may be found only in something that doesn’t work (we can adopt Lacan’s term from seminar III, which I mentioned in my presentation, malfunction), and he adds there that cause is to be distinguished from what is determined by a chain, this is to say, law. So Lacan defines there cause as a malfunction in a chain\law. Or at least, that is there that we will find the cause, in the malfunction.
You concluded with the question, what can be expected from psychoanalysis in terms of love and desire.
Let’s apply “cause” to “love” and see where it takes us – the lover always wants to know the cause of the love of his partner. And to find this out he is constrained to this question: why do you love me? And the partner can answer – you are smart, good, you make me feel good. This can easily be answered by the lover like this – what am I, a tranquilizer, if I don’t make you feel good, will you still love me? I think that, when all is said and done, the only answer that could convince the lover, or at least make him let go of his question, is that: you annoy me, your presence is sometimes hard for me to bear, but somehow, despite all of this, I can’t stop loving you.
So love is in the register of faith – I believe that you love me, but I am not certain. To my understanding analysis is an achievement of certainty and not of faith (the neurotic is the one who believes too much in the Other); exactly to the extent that analysis is an achievement of desire and not an achievement of love. This is already insinuated in Freud – transference (love) is necessary for analysis but it is also what doesn’t allow it to follow through. So analysis must go beyond love (transference must be liquidated).
You made another valuable distinction, Ozgur, between movement and moment. Here I am thinking of Galileo Galilei’s famous “And yet it moves” (or “Albeit it does move”). The cause of movement is an “and yet”. I will put it like this: there are all the reasons for it not to move (even the church says so!), and yet it moves. Just as I suggested the certainty concerning love can only be put this way: “and yet I love you.”
So cause has to do with certainty, and both have to do with that which doesn’t work. This also reminds me of something that Lacan says in seminar X (Anguish) – that the act receives its certainty from anxiety (because it is an affect that doesn’t mislead, this is to say, which signals something certain). The lack you emphasized in several points in your text is the cause (of movement, of desire). And not of love. Lacan adopted from Freud the principle that desire is indestructible. This surely may not be said about love. We all know that love may be destroyed. It is madness, and potentially horrific, to think of love as indestructible. I think that the indestructibility of desire goes beyond what you called the “too much or too little always present in love” (which I think is accurate and very well put).
What can be expected from psychoanalysis in terms of love and desire then? I think that this series of distinctions may offer a direction to an answer. If desire is that which has a cause (“cause of desire”); perhaps it is worth considering the following formula, which just now, in writing, comes to my mind: if before analysis desire wishes to be a parasite on love (this is to say, it wishes to be reciprocal, you insinuated this in your text), then at the end of analysis love is a parasite on desire (given that it is desire that has a cause, and which is indestructible).