The Three Reals

September 12, 2008

From our discussion yesterday, this is how I conceive the three Reals:

real Real – an inherent impossibility; fundamental fantasy staging the primordial scene of jouissance.  Society doesn’t exist (class struggle).

imaginary Real – externalized obstacle that prevents the subject from realizing her fundamental fantasy; objet petit a; the inherent impossibiity is displaced onto this externalized obstacle. Capital (the limit of capital is capital), the Jew in Nazi Germany.

symbolic Real – the remainder of the lost Thing; the shell that contains the Void; vase in the museum; two faces about to kiss (not the vase).

What does ‘the signifier reduced to senseless formula’ mean, and why is that Real?  Does this mean something like the self-reflexivity of language? or the minimal distance towards literal meaning?  that ‘something’ (what the French call a certain ‘I don’t know what’) in between “natural reality and the properly human symbolic universe of normative commitments” (FTKNWTD:  xii)?  The idea that language is ‘not all’.  The gap between literal meaning and underlying intention.  In other words, the “impossibility inscribed into the very heart of language:  its failure to grasp the Real” (xiv).

Is the symbolic order, the big Other, Real in this sense?  The idea that I don’t know what the big Other wants from me?  I don’t see how the big Other could be the symbolic Symbolic (meaningful language) or the imaginary Symbolic (Jungian symbols).  I would say that the big Other is the symbolic Real, or the real Symbolic, and that this senseless formula is S1 – the Hegelian One – the Master-Signifier, quilting point, point de caption – which fills in the place of the Void?  Or is it the subject that fills in the void?.

My question is:  does the big Other emerge as the remainder that gives consistency to the externalized obstacle that guarantees my Being?  that turns me into a desiring subject?  In other words, does it give consistency to meaningful language?

And does ‘the big Other doesn’t exist’ mean realizing the inherent impossibility; realizing the fundamental fantasy?  Untying the gordian knot of the sinthome?

And is this why the superego is Real, telling me to Enjoy! my fundamental fantasy?  And the less I obey, the more I feel guilty?

Basically, I’m wondering how you guys understand the relationship between Real, Symbolic, Master-Signifier and big Other.


3 Responses to “The Three Reals”

  1. sonnyburnett said

    The Real is the Symbolic in the mode of the feminine not-all.

    The gesture of the Master-Signifier changes that not-all set into the All set of the big Other. This same gesture is what distorts the Symbolic in the ‘first place.’

    IE, the Master-Signifier is transcendental.

  2. The Universal Singular said

    Could you say, then, that the symbolic Real is the Master-Signifier (the phallus) and that the symbolic Symbolic is the big Other?
    Does the self-relating negativity of the Master-Signifier (the Hegelian One) show that the Symbolic is not-all?

  3. sonnyburnett said

    I’d say that the Master-Signifier should definately be conceived as Symbolic.

    So the modifying adjective (I, R, or S?) is….

    I guess it’s where you want to place the emphasis in whatever you want to demonstrate?

    I’d say yes on that 2nd question, as long as you emphasize the ‘self-relating negativity’ part. Else, we just have a constituting Master-Signifier which just gets us the All of the Symbolic.

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