There is no sexual relationship: there is sign


In Lacan’s last teaching, the definition of sign moves away from the structure of the unconscious because of the need to place, outside the signifier and its logic, those hints of the real that strike and awaken the speaking being.

It is through the “being” and its “presence” that “someone” is concerned: the body knotted to the event becomes the protagonist in the face of a variety of symptom and the writing of its signs.

If there is a sign, then there is a presence of jouissance; that is to say, something that is precisely evidenced as a counterpoint of the structuralist reading from which the logic of the signifier allowed to deduce the lack in being and the subject effect arising from its articulations.

This leads to a question, the one Jacques Lacan asked himself in 1977 and which motivates the present issue of Lapso entitled «Being a sign». Here is the question: “What does sign mean?” With this, precisely, I break my head” (Lacan, 2006, p. 119-120).

The sign, an issue for a psychoanalyst! An issue that involves muddles, entanglements and knots. For this same reason, “breaking” in the face of the impossible to apprehend, places an analytical path on which to persevere. That is to say, in the face of a real which does not allow itself to be lulled —which does not deceive— it is “possible” to be made aware of its signs and its condiments by way of a lie (ment). Perhaps a paradox that we must sustain for now, since the difficult correspondence between sign and the “thing” that it marks, leads to permanent misunderstanding; to the sense, which is always mistaken, regarding the facts, echoes and resonances in the body.

Lacan addresses this point in his Seminar XXIII: “[…] “the real, which indeed lies, does not stop including the hole that remains in it […]” (Lacan, 1975-76 [2006], p. 38).

In the previous issue there was already something aimed to “crashing” into a new imaginary. But here, now, “breaking” takes center stage.

Perhaps it is in this sense that the definition of sign can shed light or allow us to sustain the above mentioned paradox, insofar as a real throws its insignia—“something” for “someone”— which does not represent the subject for Other as the signifier does (formations of the unconscious), but rather a subject knotted to its body and its jouissance (bodily event).

Lacan says that “our smoke is the sign, why not the smoker’s?” (Lacan, 1970 [2012], p. 437). Therefore: What real is at stake by way of the sign? What is its “weight” for the parlêtre? Would it be possible for the real to generate signs?

To cypher “something” of the event of the body and its senses (sens)[1] seems to be a direction or a privileged way of “knowing”, where the sinthome-sign can be “noticed” by someone in its most radical extimacy. The operations between real and symbolic, the effects of enjoyed meaning, the word and its limit, the production of jouissance linked to writing, seek to be addressed in this issue of Lapso.

The sign and its definition is what perhaps allows us to sustain the problem of the symbolic in the real, the side of the symptom whose greater “representativeness” will be put into play by questioning the relations between signifier and jouissance.

Will the sign be a better way of addressing what we pointed out earlier as the enjoyed meaning?

In this respect, Miller says that “it is possible to sustain that somehow the symptom realizes, in a wild way, that interference of the symbolic in the real […] for at the same time it is a signifying function and a function of jouissance” (Miller, 1987 [1998] p. 254).

Then, the problem of the real and the meaning will be more present than ever, because what One makes of the sign (repetition) cannot be extended to the Other. Unless, due to a mistake, through a regal way of analysis, we can apprehend something of the errant way of walking and stumbling, of the unspeakable.

It is necessary to be attentive to the signs of culture in our present, cyphered in a time where the possibility of the pathos implied by the unconscious (Real) seeks to be appeased and numbed in discourses of self-efficacy.

However —we know this well for our contingencies— the real returns ferociously, bursting in and showing all its weight in the bodies, discontinuing that which scientism thought it had mastered with fixed categories, with its reasons for which the exception is the subject itself.

Once again, the sign is a concern; a cutting fact that, following Miller, we should not expect in a contemplative way:

It is about waiting that which makes a sign. And there is nothing better for it than the bone and the spine. It’s about waiting for that which makes a sign, but not by sitting on your hands, not looking at your nails. It is about waiting —it is the example of Lacan working to provoke that which makes a sign, which is, as I pointed out, what the analysand does, who provokes even what makes insignia to him— in a single word.  (Miller, 1986 [1998], p. 15)

Bringing us closer to this subject is the interview to psychoanalyst Juan Carlos Indart, who develops with subtlety and in detail edges that go through the last teaching without losing references to other moments concerning the Lacanian orientation. The sign and the reference to Pierce, the smoke, the fire (and not only the fire but also who lit it). The signs for an analyst, but also for an analysand regarding his or her division and affected body. The relationship of the sign to the real and of the real to the symptom. Love and its signs, signs of enjoyment, signs of anguish.

The interview with Elian Chali is also presented as a setting, based on inscriptions which trace a journey knotted to key points in the city, leading to a valuable conversation with Lapso‘s editorial team.

For his part, David Le Breton is present in this issue with an attentive reading of the signs of times, prostheses, tattoos, technologies, as well as the marks or transformations on the bodies. A special section that the author develops can be read in the devaluation of silence in a context where hyper-consumption does not except the word.

Eugenia Molina points out the value of the tattoo, its uniqueness and its use in every parlêtre. Her journey includes different relevant moments, but it is not reduced to them. Her reading seeks to specify what the analytical discourse has to say, while tattoo as a mark is installed beyond what each culture proposes.

The traces that love leaves in its wake, the signs of love, its gestures, are addressed under examples that serve the analytical discourse, by way of cinema, in Gerardo Arenas’ text.

The theoretical references on the notion of sign and its use in the clinic of ordinary psychoses, as well as its shades, will be addressed by Candela Méndez.

Alejandro Góngora Briones places borders with a text that seeks to specify the letter linked to the writing outside every representation. He questions in a novel way the creation linked to Chinese poetry by François Cheng. Thus, he leads us into a dimension where the coordinates of a new signifier will be more than present. Letter, emptiness, writing, unary trait, trace and, in short, considerations about the end of analysis will be problematized here. In a similar line, Lucas Leserre makes precise passages and punctuations regarding the signifier, the sign, the letter and the cypher. As does Mariana Gómez in proposing a journey where the articulations of these concepts, linked to the last teaching of Jacques Lacan, seek to be clarified.

We also invite you to read Jean-Claude Maleval’s text “Attraction of the Sign for the Autistic”, where the author makes an invaluable clinical reading.

LAPSO’s forth issue, a forth issue which perhaps knots the three previous ones and allows a series that we wish to continue. In the reading of each one and in their writings.


 “jouissance-meaning [jouis-sens/jouissance]” (Lacan, 2012, p. 543).


  • Lacan, J. (1975-1976 [2006]). “El sinthome” en El Seminario de Jacques Lacan. Libro 23. Buenos Aires: Paidós.

  • Lacan. J. (1976-77 [2006]) “Hacia un significante nuevo” en Colofón, n. 23. Granada. Federación Internacional de Bibliotecas del Campo Freudiano.

  • Lacan, J. (1970 [2012]) “Radiofonía” en Otros escritos. Buenos Aires: Paidós.

  • Lacan, J. (1973 [2012]) “Televisión” en Otros escritos. Buenos Aires: Paidós.

  • Miller, J.-A. (1986-1987 [1998]). Los signos del goce. Buenos Aires: Paidós.