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Patricia McCarthy – In Praise of Incompleteness


Issue 39 (Autumn 2008)


In Todd Haynes 2007 movie on the life of Bob Dylan I’m Not There, one of the many Dylan semblances states ‘I ’m not there but the song goes on As parletres, we are subject to lalangue, expressed equally as, we are subject to the phallic function (p. Lacan’s unwavering stance is that the phallic function calls the shots and how it is ‘variabilised’ decides our existence and our sexuality. We exist as semblances which doesn’t allow a complementarity or ratio between a couple – man and woman being the exemplars. Making the phallic function its keystone, Lacan built his formulae o f sexuation – a version of Aristotle’s logical square – with the mathematical bricks of function and variable as fashioned by Frege (1848- 1925). His formulae show the limitation of a logic, cf. Aristotle’s, that masks rather than handles the fault or faille that structures us. Beginning with a detailed examination of the relationship between function and variable, this commentary recasts the concept o f the Primal Father, the at-least-one who is not subject to the phallic function as a necessary inexistent, by revisiting the paradigmatic case of Little Hans.

In Praise of Incompleteness

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