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Sample text

But also in that it is the question assumed by the subject to be addressed to him – what do you want? what is it that you desire? The ‘answer’ to this question is provided in the form of fantasy (S/᭛a). As we have seen, the subject is necessarily constituted as incomplete. The subject, in its coming to ‘be’ through the mediating effects of the Other can only come to ‘be’ as lacking in itself. Conjoined with this notion, the Other itself is also seen to be lacking insofar as the desire which the subject does experience is, in all its complexity, the desire of the Other, thus indicating that both sides in this relation – the subject and the Other – are necessarily incomplete.

For Lacan this results in the subject’s inability to represent itself comprehensively with a notion such as the cogito or, phrased otherwise, it helps us to understand why it is that the cogito does not go far enough in explaining the subject. The (–I) implied in S(A /) is that which is ‘unthinkable’ (Lacan, 1977a(viii): 317) for the subject. This suggests that the subject is radically incapable of surmising the aetiology of his own existence and thus short-circuits any attempt to prove its own existence in any way comparable to the attempt made by Descartes.

At the other end of the parabola we find castration and it is, thus, only through the mediating effects of this castration that the jouissance that might be taken to have preceded it, the jouissance which might be assumed to be that which is lost in the process of castration, can be posited at all. That is to say, in a manner similar to the mythical intentionality, Δ, which could only be imagined to have been after the advent of the subject for which it is the retroactive starting point, jouissance can only be posited retroactively as the mythic starting point of completion or wholeness which is assumed to have been annulled as an effect of castration.

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