text: “There is No Discourse of the Sinthome” (F Kruger)

from the Website of the Congress:

There is no Discourse of the Sinthome
Flory Kruger
I address my thanks for the invitation made by the ECF to the Council of the WAP. It permits me to share some questions with you today that have a bearing on the theme of the 7th Congress of the WAP proposed by Jacques-Alain Miller. The title of the Congress has a trait that characterises Jacques-Alain Miller’s mode of teaching. It is based on a couple, a binary, which evokes that of “the unconscious and the symptom”; but, this time, the choice of title brings a displacement towards the very last period of Lacan’s teaching, with a reference to the sinthome and its correlate [paire], which on this occasion is the make-believe [semblant]. Is it only about differentiating them? What is the possible relationship between these two concepts? What consequences does the presence of the sinthome have for the semblant?
Two Registers
In relation to the symptom, we can distinguish a first moment dominated by the relation between S1 and S2. The symptom is here defined as a formation of the unconscious. Later, when Lacan introduces the object a as a condenser of jouissance, the symptom acquires a certain independence to the point of becoming self-sufficient, since it is, by nature, jouissance and because it only knots itself to the unconscious by means of transference. This allows it to be placed on the side of the transferential unconscious. By contrast, in the last stage of Lacan’s teaching the sinthome appears as a mix between the symptom and fantasy. This period is characterised by the “there is (some) One” [Il y a de l’Un], by the S1 on its own, without the Other; the signifier is not reduced to its articulation with another signifier and this allows us to place it on the side of the real unconscious. In this parting of the waters, the make-believe [semblant] remains on the side of the transferential unconscious while the sinthome is placed on the side of the real. We see that our pair belong to two different registers: the sinthome to the register of the real, while the make-believe [semblant] is placed in the register of the imaginary and the symbolic, insofar as it is supported in discourse, as Lacan states: “there is no discourse that not be of the semblant.”[1] In this sense, the semblant as a category is opposed to the real. Another difference that we must draw attention to comes from the fact that when we are speaking about the semblant, we are speaking about language, while when we speak about the sinthome, we are speaking about lalangue, where the S1 is unlinked from the Other.
False semblants and true semblants
My concern is not really to indicate the differences between the two, but rather to question what the consequences would be for a subject’s semblants once the sinthome has been localised in an analysis. Is the ‘know how’ in relation to the sinthome a knowing how to deal with its consequences? And this while bearing in mind Jacques-Alain Miller’s warning at the end of the presentation of the theme at Buenos Aires: “It is not about erasing the semblant, but recuperating it.”[2] What would the effects on the semblants be after an analysis?
In order to pursue this question, I will include what I would call a double status of the semblant: on the one hand, we have what is understood by semblant in classical language, in other words what appears of what is; and on the other, the use, which still persists, of the expression: ‘faux-semblant’, the false appearance, something which functions to hide what is.
From this point of view, I distinguish between false semblants which tend towards the misrecognition of a real which determines them and true semblants which are oriented by the real and which regulate both the real and jouissance. The question that I want to ask concerns the place of the semblant in an analysis and what happens to false semblants at the end of an analysis. In order to respond to some of these questions, we must remember that for Lacan, the semblant is in nature,[3] which justifies his speaking about the nature of semblants – including in this category everything that is located outside the real: the phallus, the father, the subject-supposed-to-know, etc…
This thus allows us to state that, as far as relations to semblants are concerned, there are those that function to veil, to cause us to misrecognise, while others have the power that is given to them by their regulating function. What has been called ‘semblantisation’ in Lacan’s teaching must be understood in this sense, in other words, the efficacy of the semblant.
From this point of view, there are semblants like the Name-of-the-Father which have consequences in the direction of the treatment. Let’s recall Jacques-Alain Miller’s words in his presentation of the theme: ‘Semblants and sinthome’: ‘Analysis makes use of the father, a signifier One which allows this opacity to be read; it attempts to elucidate a part of it, but by using a semblant of a signifier One’.[4] Here we can see the use of the semblant, the Name-of-the-Father, employed by the analyst as an instrument in the treatment.
It is in relation to the use of the semblant in the treatment that one can make some progress on the question of false semblants insofar as they are dependent on demand and on the desire of the Other. When I say false semblants, I am thinking of symptoms which become semblants, which show themselves to be malleable to the desire of the Other, we find the paradigm of this in the structure of the hysteric.[5]
Beyond the semblant… provided that you make use of it
The true-semblants are those that are supported by the sinthome and that acquire the efficacy linked to the sinthome as a “knowing how to make do with it” [savoir-y-faire]. On the other hand, I would place the false semblants on the side of “know-how”. The “knowing how to make do” with the sinthome allows the analyst to go beyond the semblant provided that he makes use of it. In the analytic experience, the analyst makes believe to know [fait semblant du savoir],[6] but thismake believe of knowledge [faire semblant du savoir] is not linked to the vague sentiment of behaving as if one knows something while one is really waiting to learn something from the patient. The subject supposed to know is a semblant, but it is not fakery (a pure appearance which would thus be a false semblant); it is a natural phenomenon of the analytic experience which pertains to the structure of the act. On this point we distinguish between the false semblant, which is malleable to the desire of the Other, and the true semblant, which allows the desire of the analyst to achieve its transmission at the point where the analyst remains questioned [interpellé] by his own intervention.
1- Jacques Lacan, Seminar XVIII, D’un discourse qui ne searait pas du semblant, (Paris : Seuil, 2006).
2- Jacques-Alain Miller, “Semblant et sinthomes,” Presentation of the theme of the VII Congress of the WAP, La Cause freudienne No 69, (Paris: Seuil, September 2008), p.131.
3- Jacques Lacan, op. cit., p.16.
4- Jacques-Alain Miller op. cit. p.131.
5- Ibid., p.130.
6- Jacques-Alain Miller, De mujeres y semblantes, Buenos Aires : Cuadernos del pasador, 1993, p.12.
Translated by Philip Dravers

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