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— page 69 —

‘If we choose being, the subject disappears, it eludes us, it falls into non-meaning. If we choose meaning, the meaning survives only deprived of that part of the non-meaning that is, strictly speaking, that which constitutes in the realization of the subject, the unconscious. In other words, it is of the nature of this meaning, as it emerges in the field of the Other, to be in a large part of its field, eclipsed by the disappearance of being, induced by the very function of the signifier... One of the consequences is that interpretation is not limited to providing us with the significations [meanings] of the way taken by the psyche that we have before us. This implication is no more than a prelude. Interpretation is directed not so much at the meaning as towards the non-meaning of the signifiers, so that we may rediscover the determinants of the subject’s entire behaviour.’41

The subject, which Lacan algebraically represents by $, cannot but find itself immersed in the Other, the chain of signifiers represented here by S2 which make up the language it speaks and within whose system of differences meaning stands. This chain has a missing signifier, represented by S1, which if found would complete the system and grant the subject full access to the final Meaning (of its being). Yet the lack of this signifier is a condition for the differential signifying system itself and thus cannot be found. This is why Lacan characterizes this vel as alienation, as it condemns the subject to the field of the Other which will provide meaning to the loss of its being.42 But unlike Heidegger who calls for a deep hermeneutic to reestablish a connection to this being, Lacan calls for a further separation of the subject from this entire scenario, as in Figure 3.2.

Figure 3.2, Lacanian Separation diagram: 1 Venn diagram with word 'nonesense' and accompanying mathemes $, a, S1 and S2

Separation occurs not when the subject realizes how there is a missing signifier which prevents grasping the full meaning of being; such an insight is readily known in structuralism. Rather, separation is the further experience of how the missing S1 is primordially lost, how there is a lack which precedes that secondary lack manifesting itself at the structural level to which one may or may not hold out hope of filling in with a final signifier. Graphically this movement away from vacillating between the hope of finding the missing signifier and the recognition

41 Ibid.
42 This is implied throughout Lacan’s talk. See, for example, ibid., 218, 221.

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