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The effect of the Name-of-the-Father & the Law

Lacan points out that the crux of desire is essentially found in impossibly.” He goes on to say

But Freud reveals to us that it is thanks to the Name-of-the-Father that man does not remain bound attaché to the sexual service of his mother, that aggression towards the Father is at the very heart of the Law, and that the Law is at the service of the desire that Law institutes through the prohibition of incest.1

I’m going to try to riff on this a bit.

What I think this shows is that the father figure (what Lacan calls the Father with a capital F) is seen as a representative of the Law. The father figure introduces the law as a boundary and this boundary then produces a desire in those who are subject to it. 2

What Lacan’s text makes me think about is how the Father and the Law set up a boundary, and how when there is a boundary people will often derive jouissance (satisfaction) from transgressing it.

Sometimes transgressing never happens in reality, but the subject will build up a fantasy of crossing the boundary. Other times the subject will cross the boundary vicariously by watching hist films and identifying with the film’s anti-hero criminals.

How much of our social fabric is contingent on the desire to transgress the Law that the Father brings into our lives?

  1. Jacques Lacan, On Freud’s Trieb” and the Psychoanalyst’s Desire,” in Écrits, Bruce Fink translation, New York, Norton, 2006, p. 722-723.

  2. It’s important to note that the father figure is not necessarily a person’s father, nor even a male. A father figure is one who is experienced as one who brings the Law —what Freud called the reality principle”— into the life of a subject. The father figure also enforces the Law by making child-subject start to behave in accordance with the demands of the social order.

Up next Desire comes from… The Great Truth (insult?) of Psychoanalysis
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