Sunday, 28 September 2008

Dr. Lacan's Being of Shame

It does have to be said that it is unusual to die of shame.

This visiting card never arrives at the right destination, the reason being that for it to bear the address of death, the card has to be torn up. “It’s a shame [une honte],” as they say, which should produce a (h)ontology [hontologie] spelled properly at last.

Being ashamed of not dying from this would perhaps introduce another tone to it, that with which the real is concerned. I said the real and not the truth for, as I already explained to you last time, it’s a temptation to suck the milk of truth, but it’s toxic. It will put you to sleep, and that’s all that’s expected of you.

for if you want your remarks to be subversive, you must take great care that they don’t get too bogged down on the path to truth.

The S1, the master signifier which holds the secret to knowledge in the university situation, is very tempting to stick to. You remain caught up in it.

Today I have brought you the dimension of shame. It is not a comfortable thing to put forward. It is not one of the easiest things to speak about. This is perhaps what it really is, the hole from which the master signifier arises. If it were, it might perhaps not be useless for measuring how close one has to get to it if one wants to have anything to do with the subversion, or even just the rotation, of the master’s discourse.

Lacan's Seminars, Book XVII, 17th June 1970

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