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Going beyond Castration in the Graph of Desire

The Letter, Issue 58, Spring 2015, Pages 31 - 58


Magdalena Romanowicz and Raul Moncayo

This paper explores the various meanings attached to Lacan’s famous graph of desire. The graph represents the relations between desire and the law, the signifier, the subject and the code. In addition, the relations between desire and the desire of the Other and among desire, jouissance, and the drive are examined. It is proposed that the graph is constructed as an ascending and descending structure of facilitations, punctuations and limitations, of circular repetitions and lines that escape them. Beyond the drive, the subject asks ‘What do I want from the Other and what does the Other want from me?’ These questions are anything but rhetorical, as no matter what we do, we will never find complete answers to them, mainly because the answers are hidden in the questions. In other words, desire is essentially related to the loop between desire and the desire of the Other. We learn from Lacan that desire is unconscious and inseparable from the law. He also claims that, although impossible to fully capture — the Other lacks the signifiers to represent desire — desire can be represented with the help of mathematical graph theory. Graph theory allows the placing of many Lacanian concepts in one picture, such as phantasy, the ideal ego, the ego ideal, the formula for the drive, the signifier of a lack in the Other, the signifying chain, the treasury of signifiers. The most difficult part of the graph to represent is the ‘beyond’ of castration, the nonexistence of the phallus and the unthinkable Being of the subject (of the Real and the Other jouissance) that is missing within the Other and the battery of signifiers.

Keywords: desire; graph of desire; topology; castration; jouissance

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