THE LETTER 24 (Spring 2002) pages 84-88
Lacan’s phrase can be translated thus: ‘The woman gives to puissance to dare the mask of repetition’. However, this morning during the congress, Jacqueline Rose proposed another more easily understood translation: ‘The woman issues to puissance the challenge of wearing the mask of repetition’. You will find this quotation from Lacan in Seminar XVII, Venvers de la psychanalyse, in the session of 11th February 1970.
In French, it is indeed a very poetic and beautiful phrase since it carries with it the promise of a gift, the gift that the woman should bring to puissance in daring to make use of the semblant as a way to jouir. Of course, the Lacanian woman, as you know, is a woman who is not lacking puissance. This could even oppose her to the Freudian woman. The Freudian woman is riveted to the missing phallus and to the dissatisfaction that this missing phallus leaves her with, unless she finds its equivalence in maternity. The Lacanian woman offers another point of view on feminine sexuality insofar as Lacan is able to make ‘The Woman’ (the one who doesn’t exist) equivalent to puissance. For Lacan, not only is woman fully in phallic puissance, but she also has access to a supplementary puissance. This supplementary puissance is beyond the one she obtains when consenting to refer herself to the phallus.
In rendering homage to Lacan here in Dublin, and given what we inherit from him as psychoanalysts, I have chosen this sentence from L’Envers de la Psychanalyse as an epigraph for my paper because it seems to pay witness to the extraordinary audacity of Lacan. His audacity consists here in a discourse on puissance which, in laying the groundwork, places…