That’s why I stress this sentence, which may be found in Écrits, when he says, “Not everything is signifying, even if everything is structure.” You have to understand that this sentence from the 60s is already a commentary on his future mathemes. There is a gap here, there is a discrepancy, because from the beginning we define structure from Saussure as an articulation of the signifier. And we are obliged from analytic experience, to operate with a structure which accepts, I would say, a nonsignifying element. And what Lacan calls small “a” is the non-signifiable part of structure, which is easy to say but more difficult to construct. The problem is the relationship of this small “a” to A as Symbolic order. And, is it exterior, purely exterior? Is it interior? The word “extimacy” tries to transcend this opposition. Beginning with the word “intimacy,” which refers to the most private, the center of privacy, this intimacy is at the same time a forbidden zone for the subject. And, in some way, it was known from Augustine’s time, for instance, that at the center of yourself, in the most intimate of your intimacies, as Augustine says in his Confessions, there’s God. There is not you yourself absolutely. In some way God exemplifies this extimacy that is, at the very center, intimacy. That is to say, to drive a wedge into the argument, the most cherished of your intimacies is at the same time the most alien. That’s why Lacan disagreed with Freud on this point. He said “there is no desire to know, there is no drive to know.” And he added: “the only thing I have ever discovered in a patient, and in myself, is the drive not to know.” In that sense we may say that what resists in analytical experience is this jouissance as the very principle of symptom formation. That’s how Lacan defined the symptom: “truth resisting knowledge of jouissance.” And, perhaps, I could give one idea of the drive from this problematic. First, that the small “a,” as surplus jouissance needs to be distinguished from the phallus. Phallus—supposed phallocentrism—is not a final word of Lacan, but one of the first, and on the contrary, one may write that the phallus is something other than small “a.” The phallus as signifier of jouissance is something other than small “a.” A mistake is made here because Lacan defines the phallus as signifier of jouissance. That’s true. But jouissance in Lacan, I would say, is made of two parts: a signifiable part, and a non-signifiable part. And that condition gives a place to the other jouissance, the other-than-phallic jouissance, and that’s why Lacan would give a place to feminine sexuality not by revealing a feminine signifier but by taking into account small “a” as surplus jouissance.


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