In recent years we have discussed the drift of the displacement of the signifiers Ladies’ bathroom and Gentlemen’s bathroom to the signifier Mixed bathroom. As early as 1957, in his Écrits, “The Instance of the Letter…”, Lacan replaces the illustration of the concept of the Saussurean algorithm – signifier, bar, signified (S/s) – with the twin doors symbolising the imperative of the laws of urinary segregation. A writing that has been used and successively changed to construct the symmetrical formula of metaphor and metonymy. The way in which the materiality of the signifier raises the question of its place, in reality, leads him to predict that if the resistance of the bar is not read from a perspective other than that of completed significations, it will bring about the unmeasured dissension of ideological wars.
If the subject is a servant of the language whose structure pre-exists him, he is more a servant of a discourse in the universal movement. Gentlemen and ladies as signifiers are revealed as the structure of articulated language. Lacan values the linguistic analysis of phonemes, mobile characters reduced to ultimate differential units according to the laws of a closed order, which serve the discernment of the words of a language, in which no phonetic constancy is to be sought, but the synchronic system of differential couplings. Essential elements of speech which, for Lacan, stuck in the boxes, validly presentify what we call the letter, the essentially localised structure of the signifier as the material support that discourse takes from language. So, if meaning insists on the signifying chain, the elements of the chain do not consist of a completed signification.
What the structure of the signifying chain reveals is the possibility of using it to signify something quite different from what it says. And no one will fail if he deviates from the place from where language interrogates us. Ladies and Gentlemen will be two homelands on which it will be all the more impossible to agree because, being in truth the same, neither could give way without infringing on the glory of the other. This is the function that the word discovers, that of disguising thought, almost always indefinable, to indicate the place of the subject in the search for the true. The name of this properly signifying function of language is metonymy. It is a word-to-word connection and the first aspect of the effective field that constitutes the signifier so that meaning can take its place there. But Lacan points out that what is articulated in it depends on a bar, a sign of the dichotomy between metaphor and flash which brings forth from among the singular signifiers ‟that slow change of being in the “Εν Πάντα” of language”. It is surprising to find at the bottom of the page, what should have been in the place of poetry, literally Heraclitus’ ‟One (is) All”, which García Bacca translates “If you listen not to me, but to Account and Reason (=Logos), you will have to agree, as if in reason, that all things are one” and which Lacan translates from a quotation by Heidegger “If it is not I, but Meaning, that you have heard, then you can say in the same sense: All is one”.
This is the Lacanian heresy: he says No! to the categorical contrast of particularism. He liberates the thing – from the concept – by proposing a bar in the “double divergent radius of the cause in which it has taken refuge in our language and of the nothingness (rien) to which it has abandoned its Latin garb (rem, thing) in French”. Which is nothing other than to free lalangue from its envelope of language.
Thus, beyond singular enunciations, Lacan gives fundamental importance to the subject’s ties to a certain number of statements of universal discourse. What in Seminar XVII The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, he is going to produce by means of four discourses that are inscribed in what functions as the reality of a discourse that is already in the world and sustains it. The constant relations between; the discourse in its status as a statement (S1), which intervenes in a signifying battery and that we have no right to consider as dispersed, as not already forming a network of what is called knowledge (S2), suggest from the outset that (S1) comes to represent something through its intervention, in the previously structured field of knowledge, its supposition being the subject (S/), which must be distinguished from the living individual – place of the mark –, but what the subject produces by means of the status of knowledge is of a different order. Around the word knowledge, Lacan introduces the point of ambiguity which, at the level of the signifying structure, we must know how it operates, for by not limiting itself to the so-called Z-schema, it will allow the writing of an algorithm that results in something more than a pure accident of imaginary representation. From the systematic operation of a quarter turn in the succession of the letters of this algebra, Lacan manages to turn psychoanalysis upside down, according to the laws of discourse and their displacements that structure the world.
The difficulty he will encounter in Seminar XIX, …or worse, will precisely be that the function of the object a is displacement. This indicates that beyond the importance of specifying an initial demarcation of the symptomatic meaning at stake, this will produce random displacements at every moment, which will be what shakes the psychoanalyst’s position of semblant in his practice. To try to apprehend, on the basis of which something beyond meaning could be situated, maintaining that we are interested in its being anchored to the real. Concluding that as far as the foundation of the difference between the sexes is concerned, Φ x “it’s a function that bears no relation to anything that fonde d’eux, that from eux, from them, founds One”. Lacan plays here with the homophony in French between d’eux (“with them”, “of them”) and deux (“two”) to say “D’eux has not founded into One, nor is One founded by d’eux”.
So, the fact that psychoanalysis, as a social bond, accounts for the way in which discourse in its universal movement structures the real world, is sustained by the Lacanian idea that hysterical discourse exists, whether or not there is psychoanalysis. An idea in solidarity with hystericizing discourses as a solution to the deliquescence of the symbolic order and to the wager of reading the signifier to the letter.
References from the author:
* Part of the title taken from a passage in an article by J.-A. Miller, “Docile to the trans”, taken from https://uqbarwapol.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/JAM-DOCILE-AU-TRANS-ES.pdf. “What is happening? The S2K finds himself cast off with the dregs, discredited, lacerated, wrung out, tortured, down on his knees, with a dunce’s cap upon his head, dragged through the streets amid jeering, thrown out of the window”. [TN. S3 (sujet supposé savoir), S 2K (subject supposed to know)] Published in: Lacan Quotidien, nº928 – 2021 Année Trans.
 Cf. J. Lacan, Écrits: “The instance of the letter in the unconscious”, New York, Norton & Co., 2006. p. 416.
 Cf. J.-A. Miller and Antonio Di Ciaccia, L’orientamento lacaniano: “L’Uno-Tutto-Solo”, Roma, Astrolabio – Ubaldini Editore, 2018. p. 108.
 Cf. Jacques Lacan, Écrits: “The instance of the letter in the unconscious”, New York, Norton & Co., 2006. p. 420.
 Lacan takes here the translation he makes of Heidegger’s commentary on Heraclitus (fragment 50) in his article “Logos” (The Pre-Socratics, FCE, Mexico, 1978, p. 243), for the first issue of the journal Psychanalyse. Ibidem, p. 484. [TN] Our translation: “Si se escucha no a mí, sino a Cuenta y Razón (=Logos), habrá que convenir, como puesto en razón, en que todas las cosas son una”. “Si no soy yo, sino el Sentido, lo que habéis oído, es sabido entonces decir en el mismo sentido: Todo es uno”.
 “The instance of the letter in the unconscious”, Op. Cit., p. 415.
 E. Solano-Suárez, “Tres segundos con Lacan”, Barcelona, RBA Libros y Publicaciones, S.L.U., 2001, p. 21.
 Cf. J. Lacan, Seminar XVII, “The Other Side of Psychoanalysis”, New York, Norton, 2007, p. 13.
 Cf. “The Other Side of Psychoanalysis”, Ibid. p. 12.
 Cf. Jacques Lacan, Seminar XIX, “…or worse”, p. 158.
 “…or worse”, Ibid. p. 158.
 Cf. “The Other Side…”, Op. Cit., p. 33.
 Cf. G. Briole, Catalonia: Preparatory Space Towards PIPOL 11. “The patriarchal order and psychoanalysis”, Escuela Lacaniana del Campo Freudiano de la Comunitat de Catalunya, 3 February 2023.
Translation: Linda Clarke
Review: Ana Inés Bertón
Picture : © Nathalie Plisnier