[T]he sexual relationship cannot be written (ne peut pas s’écrire). Everything that is written stems from the fact that it will forever be impossible to write, as such, the sexual relationship. It is on that basis that there is a certain eVect of discourse, which is called writing

Lacan, Encore

  • Graham Greene’s late modernist novel The End of the AVair (1951) is a Lacanian text par excellence, a literary avatar of Lacan’s Encore: On Feminine Sexuality/The Limits of Love and Knowledge
  • This “inhuman love” would seem to be what Saint Teresa, as represented by Bernini’s statue in Rome, experiences but does not know
  • Lacan’s reasoning behind his notion of the impossibility of human Love will be laid out: Ž rst, in terms of his three orders of Love and in particular the gap between the love object and the objet a, or cause of desire, that dwells deceptively in the love object; and second, in terms of his idea of sexuation and the gap between the man and /the Woman.
  • Tying the unfeasibility of Love to the collapse of the sexual relation, which by no means detracts from desire, Lacan asserts that “love is impossible and the sexual relationship drops into the abyss of nonsense, which doesn’t in any way diminish the interest we must take in the Other”

  • What is even more engaging to me is that the two of them – Greene and Lacan – approach a conception of God through /the Woman, through her jouissance, which in a Lacanian sense guarantees the failure of the sexual relation, which itself in a sense guarantees Greene’s exquisite writing as it is tortured by Love’s impossibility.
  • Lacan’s idea of love begins to emerge, albeit obliquely, in his eleventh seminar, The Four Fundamental Concepts, where he states that Freud’s work on transference “led Freud to take the question of what is called true love . . . further perhaps than it had ever been taken” -> Lacan later draws his own parallel between love and transference – through deception
  • Transference, he proposes, gives us the opportunity of depicting the fundamental structure of love, which is that in love we persuade “the other that he has that which may complement us,” in an effort “to continue to misunderstand precisely what we lack”
  • transferance generates the tought of love – [t]ransference is what manifests in experience the enacting of the reality of the unconscious, in so far as that reality is sexuality
  • love enables the presence of sexuality
  • love – as the foundation of the striving of the sexual – is affiliated with the drive and in turn appears interchangeable with desire
  • Drive – or what pursues overwhelming or excessive satisfaction – upsets the pleasure principle; the love object thereby emerges
  • While the “man in the street” tends simply to polarize desire and love (mistresses and wives), here Lacan seems to be theorizing that love fuels desire, that desire is based on love, that the object of desire evolves from the “object of love.”
  • the object of desire is sewn together with the object of the drive – which serves as a basis for one’s love pursuit.
  • Drive, love, desire: that would seem to be the trajectory.
  • He eventually splits love into two forms:  fiŽrst-order love is played out in the “narcissistic Žfield,” and so it would seem to overlap with Freud’s notion.
  • “there is a radical distinction between loving oneself through the other – which, in the narcissistic Ž field of the object, allows no transcendence to the object included – and [love produced via] the circularity of the drive, in which the heterogeneity of the movement out and back shows a gap in its interval.
  • love operates in the Ž field of the drive joined with the Ž eld of the Other
  • What I take Lacan to be insinuating is that while we see desire as “agitated in the drive,” we link love to “a good object” (Lacan, 1981, 243). But Lacan would seem to be linking love to “bad objects” that give the subject a devilish job.
  • Perhaps so long as love operates as “a specular mirage,” where the beloved is set up to re ect the lover in the form in which s/he likes to be seen (Lacan, 1981, 268), the object is “good.” But when the beloved houses the objet a (rather than the ego of the lover), the “object” becomes “a bad object” – because s/he really isn’t the object. The “object” is “bad” insofar as it is separate from what actually lures the lover. ->  when I love you, I “inexplicably . . . love in you something more than you – the objet petit a – [and so] I mutilate you”. The object becomes “bad” insofar as a gap exists between it and the cause of desire.
  • the gaze is “the most characteristic term for apprehending the proper function of the objet a”
  • the constitutive absent love object – the gaze.
  • The gaze looks at us from the place at which we are not.
  • a third-order Love – as more than dangerous, as potentially annihilating – as is the gaze
  • We can even say that love is placed between desire and drive as an impossible mediator between the two
  • limitless Love: the achievement of Love; To be in love in this sense is to head toward dissolution, the loss of sanity, for it is to cross into the “beyond,” to defy the limit of the law, exceeding the desire such law produces – and so it gives one a devil of a job.
  • Lacan describes two forms of jouissance – phallic jouissance and Other jouissance – that situate “man” on the side of desire (or phallic jouissance) and “Woman” on the side of Love (or Other jouissance).
  • Desire (or phallic jouissance) leads the subject to aim at the gap between himself and the Other, while Love is at the place of being, adhering to what slips away in language. Love itself therefore cannot be articulated.
  • For the “man,” the act of love entails approaching the cause of his desire, objet a. But the “Woman” goes beyond the phallic function; she is something more, acting on a jouissance of the body surpassing the phallus. Hers is a jouissance that belongs to the Woman, that is, to the Woman who doesn’t exist.
  • two dominant forms of masochism operating in Lacan, one we might align with “man,” in the form of perversion, and the other with “Woman,” in the form of desubjectivation
  • Perversion offers “a kind of mimetic caricature of feminine jouissance.”
  • masochistic pervert (male) <-> suffering mystic (female)
  • Can Woman’s jouissance or a Wom/an in Love be represented?
  • to write is to avoid fulŽllment but to maintain desire, Bendrix makes a parallel between spending the entire night with Sarah and writing the last word of a book, implying in a Lacanian vein that to consummate love/desire is to complete or stop writing
  • The End of the AVair is an exquisite work of art that exceeds the mere presentation of the skewed relation of the Lacanian “man” with the Lacanian “Wom/an,” although it clearly does accomplish that. Greene’s novel attempts to represent the encounter of Love, an encounter with “something . . . which momentarily gives the illusion that the sexual relationship stops not being written . . . that something is . . . inscribed by which . . . what would constitute the sexual relationship Ž ends its trace and its mirage-like path in the being who speaks”


Restuccia, FL 2003, ‘GRAHAM GREENE’S LACANIAN ENCORE: THE END OF THE AFFAIR’, Religion & The Arts, 7, 4, pp. 369-387, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 15 November 2016.


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