“The Sign of the Other… Not Understanding the Certainty of the Signified”

“All writing begins with a panic” (Hecq, 2005, online no pages). For the first sentence to form itself some leap of faith into the uncertainty must be taken. The panic triggers the instinct to inscribe? Inscription initiates a trust into the pathway of the unknown meaning waiting to be created. “As Picasso once said to the shocked surprise of those around him, I I do not seek, I find.” (Lacan, 1981, p.3).  As I begin this first entry of the blog, I am wondering what the initial anchoring point might be to launch a wandering into the immense field of making signs about the signs, and their imaginary originary existence.

Is the process of writing, any type of writing (academic, “creative,” visual, multimodal), a quest for an anchoring point that might relinquish us from the angst of dwelling in the state of the unknown, and does this writing, at the same time, allow us to swim in the freedom of non-fixity? A liberation from the “self”? Is this the art or purpose of writing? Should there be a purpose or an art? A balancing act of two opposing logics of fantasy? Or is it a delusion of fixity of answers, a fantasmatic control of the Real inscribed onto the Symbolic? Here we are wondering about writing using a frame, Lacanian symbols to ground us onto a ground, a place where meaning may rest and be certain. The fantasy of pouring water into a placeholder begins and never ends. This blog will be about the psychoanalytic and psychosocial frames that have been experimented with so as to consider the process, act and pedagogies of writing. Here, this sentence is the right sentence to introduce a topic, right?

Who is the Other that will receive my Sign? I am tempted to begin a review of bibliography of all those who have wondered into the realm of writing and psychoanalysis, because this is how my “academic” sign might be received or understood by the Others (I imagine) who will read “me.” And what of the sign I want to make? The poetic thrust of my logos? I imagine a matrix (Ettinger, 2006).

The complexity of the sources within discourses suddenly loom in these first three paragraphs. Simple and Terrifying Questions:

  1. How is my writing formed by my Imaginary understanding of the Other?
  2. How are my “choices” of signifiers (Lacanian or other) defending against the terrifying Otherness of my quest to fix my “self”?
  3. Is there such a space, peripheral to discourse, a “reflexivity” that might go beyond the words or between the words for the poeisis of words?
  4. Am I a poem? (Lacan, 1981, viii)

Here, I will argue for the productivity of a Lacanian attachment or detachment. In this moment, in this sentence, I have decided this will be the body “up for question” of this first entry. I did not know in the beginning. Nor shall I pretend in the first sentence that I did. Not understanding is crucial to the act of writing says my instinct and the sedimentation arising from reading (Bracher 1999, Hecq 2013, Fink 2014, Lacan 2010, Lapping 2011, 2013). Any type of writing? I don’t know.

To play with the texture and the conventions of what the writing, or entering or swirling into this body is supposed to “be” or un-become I will quote myself quoting an Other, further condensing the questions posed in this entry. (What about the narcissism of desiring to be read to be understood –  to be recognised – to be misrecognised?):

“Fink (2014) quotes Lacan and explains:

‘…when it sometimes seems that two are already too many, since he runs headlong into the fundamental misunderstanding brought on by the relationship of understanding? I repeatedly tell my students: “Don’t try to understand!” […] May one of your ears become as deaf as the other one must be acute. And that is the one that you should lend to listen for sounds, phonemes, cuts, periods, and parallelisms, for it is in these that the word-for-word transcription can be prepared, without which analytic intuition has no basis or object.’ (Lacan, 2006a, p. 471)

Listening for these allows us to localize analysands’ jouissance and ultimately have an effect on it, an effect on the Real (namely, their libidinal economy. Listening for meaning alone confines us to the Imaginary level, the level of understanding; listening at the Symbolic level for what makes speech go awry – whether making it lapse into silence when a thought is too disturbing to be given voice is not completed, or forge a compromise formation when multiple and at times opposing wishes or points of view vie for expression simultaneously – helps grant us access to the Real for which understanding (the Imaginary with its semblance of explanation) serves as little more than a cover and a rationalization. [my italics] (Fink 2014, vol1, p. 21)

What Lacan and Fink propose then is that we should not assume to understand, as this is our own Imaginary processing of the information that we hear [or read]. Instead, we should focus on the materiality of the language rather than the always assumed signified of what is communicated.”(Charalambous 2014, p.129)


In the space of listening to the Symbolic, to use a Lacanian psychoanalytic frame to situate this register of “symbolising” a periphery of writing and the process of inscription, this is where these entries desire to dwell now. Entries?

I feel that (Am I allowed to write ‘I feel’? But now I wonder what does it mean to “feel” to write?) writing is about entering, creating a pathway, a way into one space where signs might ground themselves. Does the art of writing allow them to take off too? What does this metaphor of taking off and landing say about my understanding of signification? If signs do take off, what is the element that permits the exit from confinement whilst securing a space to rest our words too? Are there Really opposing logics within the logic of the process of writing?

Are you losing your attention and skimming through some of the sentences above? Is there too much jouissance permitted in this waning wandering?

This entry has decided to be a nebula of symbolic formations.

I will translate my point of departure in this blog and simplify only to hopefully produce a readership with the impulse to repeat your/their patient non-understanding of these musings, (to use another metaphor for the writing of this blog). This entry has decided to be a nebula of symbolic formations, only to embody the multiplicity, synchronicity and potentiality of writing as an act of transferring Others into the unknown or becoming Other momentarily. These entries will not be nebulas only.

In the next few entries, pulling myself and you out of the ocean of feeling the immensity of questions arising about wondering about writing, I hope to create momentary THINGS [an empty reference here to The Thing (Ettinger, 2006) and Sublimation (Lacan, 1992)] considering different frames used for thinking about writing and psychoanalysis. I begin next time with a review as one should.  A return of the repressed, sort of…

And now I officially invite you to this “unsafe” space to wonder about the unknown into the act of writing. And isn’t this, I wonder, one of the aims of psychoanalysis, the unknown in the making and what we make of it?



Bracher, M.(1999). The Writing Cure: Psychoanalysis, Composition and the Aims of Education. US: Southern Illinois University Press.

Charalambous, Z. (2014).  The Effects of Creative Writing Exercises on One’s Subjectivity: writing fantasies and the constitution of writer subjectivity. (PhD thesis). Institute of Education, University of London, London.

Ettinger, Bracha L.(2006). The Matrixial Borderspace. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.

Fink, B.

-(1997). The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

-(2004). Lacan to the Letter: Reading Ecrits Closely. Minneapolis, London: The University of Minessota Press

-(2007). Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Technique: A Lacanian Approach for Practitioners. New York: Norton.

-(2014). Against Understanding: Commentary and Critique in a Lacanian key. (Vol 1.), Against Understanding: Case and Commentary in a Lacanian Key. Vol. 2. New York: Routledge.


Hecq, D.

-(2005) ‘Uncanny Encounters: On Writing, Anxiety and Jouissance’, Double Dialogues 6: Anatomy and poetics.  [online no pages]. Available at: http://www.doubledialogues.com

-(2013). ‘Creative Writing and Theory: Theory without Credentials’ in Kroll, J. & Harper, G. (Eds.) Research Methods in Creative Writing. London: Palgrave MacMillan.


Lacan, J.

-(1981). (Trans.) Sheridan, A. ‘The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis’. Miller, J.A. Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

-(1992). (Trans.) Porter, D. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis: 1959-1960, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book VII. London, New York: Routledge.

-(2006). (Trans.) Fink, B. Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, (Copyright 1966, 1970, 1971, 1999 by editions due Seuil).

-(2010). (Trans). Gallagher, C. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book Vi: ‘Desire and Its Interpretation.’ 1958-59. Available at: http://www.lacaninireland.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Book-06-Desire-and-its-interpretation.pdf


Lapping, C.

-(2011). Psychoanalysis in Social Research. USA and Canada: Routledge.

-(2013). ‘Which subject, whose desire? The constitution of subjectivity and the articulation of desire in the practice of research.’ Psychoanalysis Culture and Society, 18, 368–385.











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