Lacan’s Seminar of 1975-1976, entitled The Sinthome, is entirely devoted to James Joyce, Irish writer of the 20th Century. In this Seminar, on numerous occasions, Lacan affirms that what brought Joyce to his desire of being an artist, to produce his art, was the paternal abdication. At the heart of his work, Joyce attempted to remediate the paternal lack, never ceasing to bring alive his own relationship to his father. Joyce believes in his father’s indignity, he remains rooted in it, and this is what makes it his symptom. Let us quote Lacan: “Joyce has a symptom that starts off from the fact that his father was a failing father, a radically failing father. He speaks of nothing but that. I centred everything around the proper noun, and I thought – make what you like of this thought – that it was in wanting a name for himself that Joyce came up with a compensation for the paternal failing.” In his course “Spare Parts”, Jacques-Alain Miller specifies that “Joyce […] felt called to something else than to identify himself like the others. [He] worked on enhancing his name, his proper name, but at the expense of the father, namely, to enhance himself in his singularity”.
The singularity of Joyce lies in his writing and more precisely in the way he deconstructed language [langage], making language [la langue] rustle with echoes, thus revealing that behind the order of language there is the pure jouissance of the letter. When we immerse ourselves in his work, we realize that meaning is becoming more and more reduced. This reduction starts from Ulysses and it reaches its peak in Finnegans Wake. What counts for Joyce, is the sound of language and not the meaning. Joyce said that if someone did not understand him, he should just read him out loud. Moreover, he hoped that academics would study him for more than three hundred years. Therefore, writing allowed Joyce to free himself from the lyricist parasite [parasite parolier] and to let himself be invaded by the polyphony of speech [parole]. Thus, writing constitutes the royal road towards the real. The freedom Joyce encounters regarding speech makes Lacan say that Joyce “cancelled his subscription to the unconscious”. Indeed, the Joycean sinthome is, for Lacan, what is most individual about this writer, to the extent that it grasps nothing of our unconscious, that it is so difficult to be read, and that the only thing we can catch is its jouissance. Thus, his sinthome is his proper name, that is, what is most singular in him, or as Lacan puts it, what allows him to identify himself to the individual. A neologism that sums up the structure of LOM for Lacan, namely the singular of the jouissance of each One-dividual [Un-dividu].
The Seminar The Sinthome remains an indispensable compass for today’s analyst, in his praxis but also in his reading of today’s era ruled by the evaporation of the father. Writing, through the intermediary of equivocation, allows to reach the jouissance One of each speaking body, to go from the transferential unconscious to the real unconscious. “Joyce the symptom” is also paradigmatic of the modern individual who, confronted to this pulverization of the father, tries to enhance his name, his singularity. The human being of the 21st century firmly believes in the decline of patriarchy; he speaks of nothing but that. This explains the pluralization of names and the proliferation of increasingly scattered new nominations. Multiplication of S1 for lack of the paternal routine: S1-S2. The rise of the Ego witnessed in contemporary mass individualism would be, if we follow Joyce once again, the modern generalized suppletion. In Joyce’s image, this Seminar XXIII, we are not yet finished studying it, making use of it.
 Lacan, J., The Sinthome. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XXIII, Established by J.-A. Miller, Transl. A.R. Price, London, Polity Press, 2016.
 Ibid., p. 77.
 Cf. Miller J.-A., The Lacanian Orientation. Spare Parts [Pièces détachées], Teaching delivered at the Department of Psychoanalysis of the University of Paris 8, Course of February 9, 2005. Unpublished.
 Joyce J., Ulysses, Read & Co. Classics, London, 2016.
 Joyce J., Finnegans Wake, Wordsworth Editions; UK ed. Edition, 2012.
 Lacan J., “Joyce the symptom”, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XXIII, The Sinthome, op. cit., p. 144.
 Ibid., p. 147.
 Lacan J., “Joyce the symptom”, in The Lacanian Review.Hurly-Burly, Issue 5, Summer 2018, p. 13.
 Cf. Lacan., …or Worse. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XIX, Established by J.-A. Miller, Transl. A.R. Price, London, Polity Press, 2018. Back cover.
 Lacan J., The Sinthome. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XXIII, op.cit., p. 141-148.
Translation: Tracy Hoijer-Favre
Proofreading: Florencia Shanahan
Picture: © Fred Treffel