Index Base Definitions

Characteristic is defined beginning with Euler's theorem as vertexes (sommets) - edges (aretes) + faces = X. This X is the characteristic of a surface. Obviously, to be able to calculate it, we must give to the surfaces a form provided with vertexes, edges, and faces. This presentation is called "rigidified in planes" ("en rigides par plaques"). Classification of surfaces There exist several fashions to classify topological surfaces, according to their genre or characteristic. There are two large families of surfaces: non-orientable surfaces and orientable surfaces. Two different surfaces can have the same characteristic. Here is the table for non-orientable surfaces: Characteristic: 1 projective plane 0 Klein bottle or 2-plane projective -1 3-projective -2 4-projective

and for orientable surfaces: 2 sphere or zero torus 0 torus -2 two-holed torus or 2-torus -4 3-torus

Between these two families, there is a sheath relation (relation de doublure), which means that orientable surface can envelop the corresponding non-orientable surface. Dual cuts or section couples These are two cuts made on a surface, which have only one point in common. Thus, on the torus there is a section couple. Dimensions Each of the sizes necessary for the evaluation of figures and solids. We often define time with the term fourth dimension.


Genre The maximum number of closed, disjoined lines that can be made on a surface without fragmenting it (or cut). This number permits a classification of surfaces. Immersion and plunging (plongement) Our space is three-dimensional. One can speak of an immersion of a surface as soon as one makes an abstraction of this space and makes such impossible phenomena as resectioning (recoupement) or the triple point intervene in our space . . . On the other hand, a surface is plunged when it does not make an abstraction of its space, of the environment (milieu) where it is. A sheet of paper constitutes an environment, just as does our everyday three-dimensional space. Intrinsic and Extrinsic A property is intrinsic to a surface when it is maintained whatever its space of plunging. A property is extrinsic when it depends on the plunging space of a surface. For mathematicians, the twist is an extrinsic property. (All that matters is knowing whether the number is even or odd.) Moebian, Moebian space A hasty denomination of the space proper to the projective plane. Its immersion known by the term "cross-cap," constructed on a Moebius strip with one half-twist, allows us to understand this usage. Thus, this adjective is often used as a synonym for non-orientable or unilateral. Orientable and Non-orientable As soon as we leave surfaces in two dimensions, the concept of unilateral no longer functions. Orientation then comes into play. To define it, we must return to the law discovered by Moebius (and which specifically permitted him to discover non-orientable surfaces). We begin with a tetrahedron (a polyhedron composed of four triangles). We define a direction of reading the vertexes of the triangles composing the polyhedron. When we turn the orientation of our reading in the same direction for all of the polyhedron's triangles, the edges are crossed in an opposed direction depending on whether consider them part of one face or the adjacent face. This quality is an invariant of a surface. (We should add that all polyhedrons are decomposable into triangles.) Let us also note that this direction is not the same for the observer placed at the exterior of the polyhedron.


On the other hand, a surface is called non-orientable when, in this decomposition into triangles of a polyhedron, two edges are found to be not oriented in the same direction (cf. the heptahedron of Reinhart). Envelopment of two thicknesses (Revetement á deux feuillets) A topological manipulation that consists in giving to a surface the form of an envelopment of two thicknesss from another surface. When the surface is in this position, on can, without violating the law of continuous transformation, make these two thicknesses stick together and transform the first surface, doubled, into the second. This procedure serves when one can produce a turning-inside-out of an orientable surface. This envelopment of two thicknesses is a symetrical point of the process. Continuous transformation This is the operation founding the equality of surfaces in topology. Two surfaces are said to be identical when one can transform one into the other by continuous transformations in the domain of plungings. It is defined by the existence, always possible, of a tangent on a curve that varies in a continuous fashion. Unilateral or Bilateral Said of a surface depending on whether it has a single edge or two edges. This is the concept Moebius brought to light in discovering the strip that bears his name. This ribbon of Moebius is unilateral; one can also say that it is non-orientable. 3

Concise Bibliography of Topological Resources Jacques Lacan, Published Texts and Seminars. "La Politique de l'ignorance," Recherche, no. 41 publications C.N.R.S., September 1980. Jean-Claude Pont, La topologie algéirque des origines á Poincaré, (Bibliotheque de philosophie contemporaine) PUF, 1974. C.P. Bruter, Topologie et Perception, (Recherches interdisciplinaires), Editions Maloine-Doin, Paris 1974. Payot, Les mathématique de l'imaninaire, Bibliothèque scientific, Paris 1970. Martin Gardiner, La magie of paradoxes, Bibliothèque "Pour la science," diffusion Belin, Paris 1980. Martin Gardiner, The Ambidextrous Universe, New York, 1964. "Des mathématiques avec un fil et une aiguille," in Pour la Science, a translation from Scientific American, no. 113, August 1980. Course of Pierre Soury, transcribed by Jeanne Lafont. Chaine, noueds, surfaces. Textes et travaux de l'ecole de la Cause freudienne, Paris 1981 (out of print). Jean-François Chabaud, Le noeud dit du fantasme, Weber 1984.


Stone *Orignally published as La topologie ordinaire de Jacques Lacan. Point Hors Ligne. 1 . 1986.The Ordinary Topology of Jacques Lacan* By Jeanne Lafont Translated by Jack W. Paris.

" The literal translation of this term. note 3 in "Architecture des mathématics. In the perspective of these labors. Felix Klein and Shläfly put forth the idea that the space of projective geometry is Moebian. . and would in one way or another devour. provoked arguments. 2 . and many mathematicians sought to define its limits.: he thereby proposes some new solutions to some very old geometrical problems. in 1861. However." an article in Les Grands Courants de la mathématique. Moebius discovered the figure that would pass his name on to posterity: the Moebius strip. the cube. "study of place. This theorem. Leibniz defined a new branch of mathematics under the rubric "analysis situs. In 1874. the first of its kind. whole branches of mathematics. topology is not truly given body until Euler develops his first theorem. subsume under their laws. Unilateral surfaces were created." It is a matter of studying the principal topological structures. the Platonic solids and the volumes of our everyday experience. newly formulates the ensemble of mathematical discoveries. like the pyramid. Paris 1962). ."1 The work that we propose here is situated at this "limit of the mathematical blueprint. or more precisely two. Albert Blanchard. no one will speak of functions without reference to topology . and the parallelepiped . for example. . . the structure of group. Thus. and the topological structures in reference to which they add in a note "that they escape the limits of the blueprint (épure). to which a third group will be added: the structure of order. in 1750. and edges of a convex solid. This theorem establishes a constant relation between the summits. in 1948. when Bourbaki. surfaces. presented by F. From here on." situates this new discipline at the origin of topology. they (il) will enumerate three. Le Lionnais (new edition.In 1679. beginning with the advances of Jacques Lacan in this domain 1 Bourbaki.

Chapter 1: Space.Full-twist of the little spoon." This paraphrase of both Saint John and Goethe puts the notion of space in relief. we will put it in the introduction of our study of Lacanian topology. Structure "In the beginning was space. 3 .

we notice that the ribbon no longer shows any trace of the turn. while taking the invariance of the object into account. always in relation to its immediate environment. The relations between the movements of revolution (the turns) and of translation structure and define this space. and consequently a front and a behind. then a triple one . but. to the metaphor of the ant. Take a small spoon and suspend it from a ribbon fixed at its top. It is a question of describing space itself. that there is a before and an after. . If we now give the spoon a turn. After two turns. has now taken on a helicoidal twist that reveals the effected operation. the famous third dimension. This depth is measured by the time that it will take for the ant to get to the point of the twist. and if. Topologists have classically taken recourse. and hints at its twist. the science. and it will never attain it. maintaining it rigorously parallel to itself. then three. depending on how its movements unfold in time. in the direction of a the hands on a watch for example. there are mathematicians who have spelled this out for us (l'avoir écrit en toutes lettres).A little experiment will help us to grasp this notion. This experiment shows us several things: to start with. a flat surface of two dimensions. If you take a book in which you have printed the same movements. in space. its movement alone has annulled the initial revolution (Cf. it allows us an effective approach to the notion of space. On the other hand. since. we make it pass over the vertical part of the ribbon and it is returned to its first position at the bottom of the ribbon. the horizonal point where the strip curves back on itself. The spoon is an invariant object plunged into space. the ribbon shows a double twist. you will not see space appear. or even in that of Lobetchevsky or Riemmann. another horizon will present itself. the photos at the beginning of the chapter). Thus. particularly that utilized by Lacan. Although the spoon has at no time changed its orientation. 3. Lacan could say. for manipulating this perception and its illusions. which is defined in this way in relation to its immediate environment. of these spaces and their properties. it will reassume its initial position. our experimental object. of producing a system of calculations and notations allowing us to situate an object and its movements in space. as a depth. in RSI: "all space is flat. published in Ornicar n. An ant that we find diabolically represented in some pictures on the cover of issues of Quarto (the revue of la cause freudienne in Belgium). and space is defined by the perception of depth.3 Imagine an ant offered the same system of perception as a man reduced to its size. as soon as it arrives there. It is not a question. We must indeed remain conscious of this change in perspective in approaching topology. initially flat. Séminaire du 14 janvier 1975. If we give the spoon one complete turn around a vertical axis. 4 . while the ribbon."2 How are we to understand this remark? Space in itself does not encompass the dimension of depth. space is misrecognized in usual manipulations of objects. is perceived as a depth. by glancing at the initially flat ribbon. Thus. It is only for an object plunged into space. The "flat" is defined by the surface of a picture enclosed by an edge. we can know the exact number of complete turns effected by the spoon. General topology is the study. as in classical Euclidean geometry. This ribbon will materialize the tie of the spoon. 2 3 Jacques Lacan. It is a question of a horizon that we know is not a limit. always as a third dimension. This animal walks along the surface of a Moebius strip. . The relation between the spoon and the ribbon is that of an object to its space.

To demonstrate this. Thus. in our experiment with the little spoon. as a surface. "There is a difference of an essential nature between the rotations involving an even number and those involving an odd number. applied to electrons. We are going to try to demonstrate what is." What is at stake in this experiment is not meager and. which. we must effect two (or four) complete turns. In truth. found finally in the unexpected difference in nature between a single and a double turn. one can say that it is not sufficient to give an object a complete turn of either three or five . according to us.topologically. and by simple parallel movements of the spoon. If we now recognize that the 'fermions' obey the 'Pauli' exclusion principle. it has a considerable importance in microscopic physics. Jean Claude Terrasson has published a quite illuminating text on this question in the revue Littoral n. To do this. the relations between the movements of revolution and translation structure this space which is ours. that has allowed us to go back to the source of their strange characteristics. and "fermions. the double turn is found to be the basal unity. this property. is the dimension of space considered as flat. it is precisely the experimental discovery. to my knowledge. 5 ." Jean-Marc Lévy-LeBlond continues: "There we have a fundamental property. and. of the time that it takes to get there." which require. in this argument. The error is situated at the level of the naming of the particularity of our ordinary space. 4 5 In L' Empire des lumières. which will bring us back to the little spoon already evoked.' described for mathematical beings by a single revolution left unchanged. . bringing it back exactly into the same conditions of relations with its spatial environment. . a double revolution to recover their initial description. it seems to involve a mistake. and define it. explains what is essential in the properties of ordinary matter. in other words. from the point of view of topology." If we redo this experiment again. of the space where we live. we see that it is no longer a question of simple academic curiosity. On the other hand. There exists. differences in structures. after an initial revolution of a single completed turn. to start with. at once extraordinarily simple and perfectly enigmatic. Without a supplementary revolution.5 Let us cite. June 1981. then the theoretical understanding of 'fermions' at the quite esoteric level of fundamental quantum physics. a fragment of his procedure: "the astonishing thing is the completely particular role played by the revolution of two turns. Time. moreover. At our level. it is possible to modify two by two the number of the complete turns exhibited by the twist in the ribbon. has no other manifestations than of permitting certain tricks to professional magicians. without a temporal dimension. this reality of our space is essential for conceiving of the state of the world experienced by the psychotic. an error of Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond. the Moebius strip is grossly misunderstood. 5. as it is presented. of which one says that it is without limit. Quantum theory founds the existence of two distinct classes of fundamental particles on this property: 'bosons. September 1978.4 Clinically. we are going to take an obligatory detour. in Traverses. we will quite clearly find the ribbon affected by a turn in the opposite direction from the first. a property of our ordinary space thus presented that leads to differences in space. Thus. on the contrary.

M.Half-twist of the little spoon. A turn of the little spoon gives a full-twist to the ribbon. that is. when it is. Lévy-Leblond speaks of the revolution of two turns. J. If we again take up our demonstration. in fact. a question of a half-twist. 6 . we must notice the difference between the fulltwist and the half-twist.

the study of its depths only puts in play questions of passages through space. to bring forth. This is the case in the study Lévi-Strauss conducts on the matrimonial system of the "Kasieras" (Who has the right to marry whom?). 7 . after the translation in space. This experiment makes appear with striking clarity the Moebian space." he says. in Anthropologie and Calcul. to one or more of the concepts of our discipline." The word "perpendicular" does not at all refer to a precise mathematical definition. substantified psychic object. Phllippe Courrèges has shown that the true mathematical concept that would be pertinent here would be that of "product. The general tendency of thought is to give body. One can demonstrate this by looping a Moebius strip through the little spoon.G. the space of the projective plane. 10/18. Moreover. but the unity is 1 for the translation. for the ribbon and for the materialization of space that it effects. 1971. a half-twist. or. and in the possibilities that allow them to describe a particular space. On the other hand. to a schema that would represent this structure on two perpendicular lines. It is in this measure that topology concerns psychoanalysis. at the end of the operation. and three translations. For the turn of the little spoon. the basal unity is a half. We see how these relations structure space. It is impossible. the basal unity would be the half-turn. always modifies the ribbon by two in two half-twists. Moreover. Paris.. to return to the first position of the ribbon. He defines the structure of this system starting with a division of the group of matrimonial classes into two patrilinear halves.E."6 We can also cite the work of Henri Pradelles on the kinship system of the Trobriands (a classic object of Malinowski's studies). the importance of which for the introduction of structuralism into the human sciences is well known. the ribbon takes on a complete twist. Three half-turns are fundamentally different. as will be demonstrated after the fact by the discoveries of Jacques Lacan. topologists have defined a notion of space that is identical with the structure utilized by the human sciences. The translation in space. If the space in which the ribbon is plunged were Moebian. a study of structure disencumbered of a singular. Thus it presents. They are only interested in their appearances. a translation would make a half-turn disappear. six visible half-twists. the subject or the unconscious. without entering into the details. from two or four half-turns. "to the division into two matrilinear halves. if we give the spoon a half-turn. The subject is not the object of psychoanalysis. The little spoon can make three complete turns: this gives three full-twists of the ribbon. He shows that the concept of a "duality of cuts" is the 6 Phillippe Courrèges. For translation also. while it most often escapes our perception. in ordinary space. a notion that serves as an exemplary representation of this tendency toward subjectivation: for the topologist. U. that is. We can show this by drawing on the ethnographic studies of Lévi-Strauss. Psychoanalysis is. as it is for the ribbon. above the place where the spoon is connected to the ribbon. Topology proves to be the study of the structure in play in these sciences.two half-twists. a division that is itself "perpendicular. So it goes for the soul. a half-twist in the opposite direction from that created by the first half-turn. in fact. but rather to an intuitive vision of space. by translation. subjectivity. more precisely. Coll. rendering it materializable. The specific object of topologists is this notion of space and the relations that structure it. just as the ant and the little spoon are not the objects of study of topologists. It is here alone that we find the radical difference between even and odd. their trajectories. for example.

but that it is also a putting to work of this confused perception of structures. too conscious of the distance that separated his work from mathematical formulations. the article of Charles-Henri Pradelles of Latour. We utilize them to designate large packets of relations of which we perceive confusedly that they have something in common. The psychoanalyst has a means for establishing what is at stake in psychic suffering by recourse to topological structures. he writes: "It better that no one scruple over the very loose acceptations that we give to terms such as symmetry. these examples show how. Treating of the notion of space. the aim of our work is not to know how mathematicians came to be interested in this study of space and spaces. which consisted in clearing up this confusion from a certain perspective. . On the contrary. "la Parenté trobiandaise reconsidérée. Topology clarifies the notions on which the psychoanalytic treatment reposes. isomorphy . . . homology. apropos of common themes like the Oedipus complex. 7 Cf. although renowned topologists like Poincaré speak with respect of the "geometrical intuition" that allows us to confusedly perceive these "large packets of relations" . equivalence. At its limit. not only that topology is confusedly present in the work of Lévi-Strauss. Topology is interested neither in the metrical nor in proportions. topology intervenes as an epistemological foundation to the knowledge (connaissances) brought forth by this schema. For instance. the topology of spaces. 11-12. from the origin of the work of the structuralists. we will take support. beginning with what is at stake in psychoanalysis. not from the requirements of mathematical discourse. Two figures are called identical if it is possible to pass from one to another by a continuous transformation. he did not seek exactitude in this domain. in fact. Paris. From this perspective. Littoral. equality is defined as the possible trajectory from one presentation to another. all of the work of approach to this particular ethnological structure. It is wholly to Lacan's credit to have sought to pinpoint (cerner) this specificity of topology and to have indicated what its usage could be in the human sciences. the conceptual necessity of bringing in topology comes to light. Saying that he does topology without knowing it is in no way impertinent. inversion. We must now approach this topology directly. if we consider. these objects are the same (we already grasp the importance of the drawing). but from the necessities internal to analytic discourse. as soon as a "schema" takes on an explanatory or even a didactic value. As for Lévi-Strauss. nos. Also." The allusion to a "confused" perception is appropriate: it appears to us. For this." 8 . it is a question of situating. in the preface of The Raw and the Cooked. February 1984. Based on this fact. .7 Without resorting to a forced analogy.

) 9 . passing from submersions to immersions. on this disk. We have thus created a line of intersection. (The twist has a quite distinct status that will be the object of a whole chapter. one part of the surface can pass beneath itself. This line of intersection signals the passage of the structure of a submerged surface to an immerged structure. The hole that we designate at point A can then be reduced to a point: this is equivalent to the phenomenon of the twist. and it is possible to make reappear the portion that has been slipped beneath.A surface like the disk can vary continually without modifying its structure. Thus. This transformation has only been possible by the slow. at a certain moment there is rupture and a passage is effected from one structure to another. This surface can be seen as a disk that can be twisted back on itself. However. continuous preparation of the surface. We have radically changed a domain.

We can then make the interior line evolve into this point A. 10 . of an act. Not until the end. of an operation. without modifying its structure. It allows us to understand what conditions the completely particular relationship to time and to the scansion that we know in the treatment.By this phenomenon of intersection and of disappearance of the hole. will we give the mathematical definitions (signaled in the text by an asterix) that serve in the elaboration of this presentation of the topology proper to Jacques Lacan. Often. of a changing of the structure of this surface or of its space of submersion. there is an obvious transformation of the structure." This example allows us to render easily sensible the game of transformations in topology. constructed as an interior eight. We will then see how the Borromean knot will formalize the recourse to surfaces. we can take on the study of topological spaces. This dialectic. in a supplement that will take the form of an index. This exercise clearly shows why topology has been called "rubber geometry. is essential to our approach to topology. an interpretation only has an effect after a long series of sessions that have done no more than make the presentation of the symptom evolve. Once we have set forth these preliminaries. It is intuitively perceptible that we have changed its space (we are already in the space of the projective plane). between the continuity of the identical to the identical and a structural rupture. There exists a whole dialectic between the preparation of a surface by continuous transformation of its drawing and the brusque appearance of an event. We thus obtain the immersed disk.

underside and topside. only reappears at the price of the intervention of a new dimension. The common usage of "head or tails" is subverted. The topside and the underside are continuous with one another. Only a temporal event differentiates the topside and the bottom side. nonetheless opposes in diverse ways our habitual experience of physical objects. It suffices to take a strip of paper and to stick its ends together while impressing in it the movement of a twist. If there are no longer two measures for the surface. and thickness). The dichotomy between the two notions. and without having been lifted. This operation brings to light a number of different paradoxes: After the sleight of hand we have just described. time imposes itself as accounting for the strip. as continuity. but only an edge. is a very simple sleight of hand. to see this design appear. let us insist. since one of the topological definitions of the Moebius strip is supported by this paradox. Time. that of time.Chapter 2: The Moebius Strip At issue is a physical object that can be easily constructed. A finger that follows the surface of the strip will be found. in reversing their orientation: The line AC of the original strip continues into BD. Lacan gives it the name "double-buckle." At the same time. held so easily in the hand. A little gentleman or an ant that walked along one of the sides of this surface would find himself upside down on the other side without even perceiving this incongruity. before joining it end to end. on the underside of its point of departure." From the drawing of the first figure that still evokes a three dimensional object represented in ordinary space (length. Effecting a half-turn on the strip that we started with. starting with an ordinary rectangular surface. a surface that presents several paradoxical phenomena. properly speaking. which. subverts. on the topside. with an illusion 11 . after a complete turn. makes the difference between the two faces. There is only one edge. It has only one edge: we have joined the two extremities of the original strip. we must perform an operation that topologists call a "putting flat. which are separated by the time it takes to make a supplementary turn. It traces a figure that resembles an eight that folds back on itself. We thus obtain. width. This object. without crossing the edge. The existence of a single edge is essential. the topside and underside of this strip of paper are found to be continuous. our everyday space of representation. After a second complete turn it will return to this point.

is only a surface. at a moment in its trajectory. to draw this Moebius strip. For example. an "above-beneath" (dessus-dessous). written on a sheet of paper. from the gaze of the reader by a surface: There is a problem: on a paper surface. This above-beneath is necessary for the illusion of depth to disappear. Thus the conventions of drawing give to the putting-flat the status of a writing. There remains. which. there has to be. Again. Depth is then marked by a crossing of the line over itself. hidden. The discontinuity of the line does not evoke its interruption. there is the necessity of writing a temporal moment. one passes to a two-dimensional drawing. a third dimension. it also.of depth. put flat. It is marked on the trajectory of the line. the dashes evoke the continuity of a line. as a trace of depth in this drawing of the putting flat. however. but the passage under the line. 12 . to represent depth. only this above-beneath. let us say.

which describes a double-buckle. are the condition for the Moebius strip to be representable on the surface of a sheet of paper. Let us make this paradox felt by drawing a pencil that passes through the Moebius strip. these dashes. encloses a surface with a single face. lateris: flank. Topologists have in this way obtained an entirely readable drawing. side). without bringing in the conventional evidences of perspective. It is indeed dimension that is put into question by the Moebius strip. 17-18. which multiplies the above-beneaths and makes them dashes. nos. that is.1 with straight lines. This paradox is insoluble. This single edge. we no longer establish on the drawing more than a single measurable dimension. Spring 1979. and latus. They are perfectly readable on this drawing: This is how Moebius draws it for the first time in a scientific publication. although it is a physical object that can be constructed by hand. he calls it a "unilateral surface" (from unus: one. la première bande. Topologists sometimes represent the Moebius strip in a drawing with a base of straight lines. 1 Ornicar. one that does not make a call to the imaginary. Miller." introductory text by J. It is a surface with only one face. A. 13 .These points of above-beneath. It straddles (est á cheval) 1 and 3 dimensions. Moreover. "Moebius.

there are two faces. Such a notion has its importance for establishing. Locally. Between the static and dynamic points of view there necessarily exists an element that disappears. manifestly. but the whole (l'ensemble) of the strip. The pencil allows us to define again. 14 . has only one face. as continuous. The whole. is not always equal to the sum of its parts . in relation to (par rapport) habitual conceptual space. The Moebius strip allows a subversion. This articulation between "part" and "whole" is entirely new. We are now going to show another essential paradox: the cutting of a Moebius strip. This cut does not produce two pieces detached from one another. of the rapport between the parts and the whole. however. know the Moebius strip. repetition and scansion. along its length. in the unrolling of the signifiers. but the strip still has only one face. the two faces of an ordinary surface that does not. at a given place on the strip. . Analysis makes appear in parts another dimension that does not enclose the whole. at the place of the pencil. produces a surprising effect that also has served for a definition of this famous strip. .It passes through the Moebius strip as it would any surface. it describes the path of an interior eight with a single turn and destroys the structure of the strip.

" allows us to discern how this type of intervention on the part of the analyst discovers the desire of the analysand. the three is already present. In Moebius's original notes. This pregnancy of the Moebius strip with three half-twists can be explained. in the course of his theoretical elaboration. we can see again in the void born of the cut a Moebian surface. The character of subversion of everyday space that the Moebian surface puts to work cannot. It is a bilateral surface with two edges." of an effort to evoke the spatial support of the Moebius strip. can appear a little unordered: the presented phenomena have not found their place in a formalized and complete theory. resembling an ordinary strip. The essential characteristics of the Moebius strip have disappeared. it is only a matter of a "monstration. thus we somehow displace into the movement of the scissors itself the characteristics of the Moebius strip. since one only makes a single turn with the scissors. or visa-versa. This disappearance of the Moebian structure by means of the cut. identical in any case: The presentation of the material. makes use more and more of the strip with three half-twists. introduces a final characteristic of the Moebius strip. The fact that the cutting of a Moebius strip makes a strip with four half-twists appear. Lacan gives a demonstration of it in L'Etourdit. it appears that the strip with one half-twist is drawn as a strip with three half-twists of which one is toward the left and two are toward the right.It remains a single strip. And Lacan. The axiom "interpretation is the cut. To create a Moebius strip the number of half-twists must be odd. two times longer and bearing four half-twists. Thus. Let us note before concluding that it is on this paradox that Lacan bases one the central notions of the analytic cure: that of interpretation. physical object that is the Moebius strip. in fact. Moreover. but it remains surprising. Here. It is not impossible that the problems posed will remain without a solution. at the moment of the putting-flat. 15 . has an underside and topside. allows us to reduce the Moebius strip to its cut. the first strip drawn is a strip with three half-twists. but which. in the drawing where one effects it with straight lines. we therefore prefer to draw a strip with three half-twists leftward or rightward. without destroying the physical object in its unity. be reduced insofar as it is a question of a real that precisely has not yet found its sense. In the drawing. which is not Moebian this time. masked in his own dire. if we pay attention to the discontinuous movement that edges the space of the cut. the cut defines a path which is that of the interioreight (in dashes in the drawing). this time. In fact.

the putting-flat of a Moebian surface. the interior of the circles is empty. In doing so. in a certain discursive context. it is another signifer. A contrario. in the sentence "a man is a man. by making use of another. A meaning (signification) of the sentence imposes itself. one finds. The temporal turn. he supports two laws of the signifier with the Moebius strip: "A signifier cannot signify itself" and another aspect of this law: "a signifier represents a subject for another signifier. the buckle closes on itself. Not only is there no join between signifier and signified. nor deprived of sense. We will begin with the following commentary: locally. RSI. a space. To this extent the signifier and the signified are opposed. for another signifier. the additional turn that we must make to the underside to return to our point of departure on the topside. or wishes to represent a certain type of relation between two notions. because of this. then. nonetheless arbitrary. if they still remain arbitrary. it is never anodine. but their relationship is constructed around a void.S. which is 2 3 Séminaire de Jacques Lacan du 17 dec. once a complete turn has been effected. a void. Let us take up again some different usages. Thus he is lead to consider the drawing itself of the Moebius strip as a writing that situates a real. at the center of these two circles. A drawing is a matheme in the sense that it is transmitted as it is. which. but one cannot give a signifier its signified at the same instant. Identification. there is always between the two circles the space of a Moebius strip. apropos of the Borromean knot. Thus. he supports a concept by one definition of the Moebius strip. he overturns our understanding of this concept. with the two sides of a sheet of paper. Lacan supports this difference with the line of the interior eight. there is no surface. 16 . Saussure had supported the dichotomy between signifier and signified and the force of their relations. This law is intuitively perceptible in the repetition of a signifier. in his seminar R. and. as in a relation "A=B. 2. Between the two is necessarily inscribed a difference. finally. that writes a matheme. depending on whether he wishes to reunify two separate concepts. The first "man" is not the same as the second. Lacan took up the same metaphor when. or an illusion of perspective. If the interior eight is seen in space. The word is repeated. A signifier only ever returns to another signifier. for example. This notion of a writing gives birth to a usage that Lacan expresses crudely. 1974. a signifier cannot signify itself. The Moebius strip in fact subverts this signifier-signified opposition inscribed on the two sides of a sheet of paper. Séminaire du 9 mai 1962."3 In question here is a symptomatic Lacanian topological practice. at each instant of our progress on the strip. Often. he give a logical leap to notions identical to the topological leap that consists in seeing in a drawing the path of an interior eight. since the topside and underside continue one into the other. but however small the space left."2 which is to say. The signifier never stops slipping to the underside and.I: "we must use it stupidly. somehow. in the seminar on Identification. are nonetheless marked by this paradox. published in Ornicar n." of mathematical or logical equivalence. A signifier signifies something at a given moment. allows us to redefine some relations between signifier and signified.On these multiple paradoxes Lacan suspends different notions. but in fact their difference is only supported by a temporal factor. two sides are distinguishable. it represents a subject. or whether it be a matter of differentiating apropos of the term "man" the general concept and the isolated individual. whether it be a matter of a tautology. we must not too much concern ourselves with the problem of topology's epistemological status. at the place that at this time defines the first. At this place. beyond the different effects of sense that it can produce. unpublished." it is felt that between the two words "man" there is a splitting (partage) of an identical signified.

4 Séminaire du 15 fev. although it remains ignored. thanks to a certain immersion."4 He uses it in this way to illustrate the trajectory of repetition." the "topology of the return of repetition" (2/15/67) is inscribed by Lacan on the line of the interior eight. To pose this utilization of the Moebius strip as metaphor. The retroaction of one buckle over the other still delimits a difference between the one and the other. This trace resembles the trace left by the line in its return over itself. this drawing reveals the ignored space of the surface of the strip. and the meaning (signification) is always marked by the void it encloses. which buckles itself after the second turn. this makes felt the progressive effect of what one calls regression. In question is what Lacan describes as "this unmeasurable element that is called the one-in-addition. inasmuch as it reveals an element that is unmeasurable. This drawing thus illustrates the material on which analysis will operate: repetition. there is repetition as putting-flat. Thanks to the cure and its apparatus. between the two circles extends the Moebian surface. The doubling of the circle. unpublished. we can evoke the point of selfcrossing as a stroke (trait) of recognition. until then ignored as space . of a behavior or a symptom. it is the status of topology as intuitive support that is put in question. It is also what allows the subject to exist. and uncountable. This parallel is supported by several traits that Lacan brings to light one after the other. or even as didactic. which is related to desire. 1967. Lacan supports the progressive effect of repetition. regression. It is necessarily only for another signifier that a first signifier means (vouloir dire) something. leaves a trace: that of a crossing. which was nonetheless always there in its effects. In the seminar on "the logic of the fantasy. This manner of bringing an "ignored" to light. In this part of Lacanian teaching. Thus in the repetition of an act. later. there is a trace: "what is repeated in the repeating is found at the origin. Finally. an above-beneath. seems to me unacceptable. It puts us on the path of this "one-in-addition. However. unconscious desire. . The relationship exposed in this fashion between topology and psychoanalysis--is it still metaphoric. La Logique du phantasme. In this line of the interior eight. there is the Moebian space. the status of the Moebius strip is defined as "a model of a transcendental aesthetic". from then on. a space. Once we have recalled its "put-flat" aspect. un en trop)" that we forget to count because it is only defined starting from the void and time. it is not that a concept has several senses. Although it repeats. The act of the analyst will aim at making this space felt. one-too-much (un en plus. This buckle is also the drawing of the putting flat of a Moebius strip. is precisely not the same thing as what it repeats. In fact. the one-toomuch--desire" (2/15/67). which based on this fact. Let us remark that beginning with this drawing of the interior eight a notion finds itself at once decomposed into diverse acceptations (regression and progression) and unified as a concept. or is it a question of an "intuitive support"? Beginning at this degree of rapprochement something breaks down in the formulation. but present structurally as a fundamental support. It is for the analyst to read there.that of reference. 17 . marks the repeated as such" (2/15/67). the element is not the same. it is that it is the unique representative of a complex material analyzable in several effects. On this difference. manifestation in the cure of a desire. is parallel to the unconscious's mode of existence. because it is a repetition. we read repetition and the difference of the repeated from the repeating. Between the repeated and the repeating. he speaks of it more simply as "an intuitive and im-agin-ative support. . The multiplicity of readings of a concept is accorded its true richness. this trace.

The cut in time where it is effected shows the surface of the strip. This equality can be exemplified by this sentence: "the fact that I walk signifies that I walk" (2/15/67). under the pen of Lacan. After the cut. because it persists in tracing a double-buckle. Jacques Lacan. At the center of the Moebius strip. to make the signifying chain appear as enclosing a void. The Moebius strip in its cutting illustrates this series of paradoxical relations. on the cutting of the Moebius strip. if the subject is equivalent to his signifier. the great topologist of the beginning of the twentieth century. that of desire as unnamable. It is no less true that it is as close as possible to this operation" (2/15/67). At the same time. As we have already sketched out. It is a question of this time of which Lacan says that it is ignored and uncountable as such before the operation. he founds interpretation. is again a Moebius strip. two times the opposition signifier/signified. we have a strip with two faces: if the act is repetition as interior eight. The act is thus equivalent to its sense. at the moment of the utilization of the scissors. this cut has changed the topological structure of the strip. because it describes in its progress a circle. stages the space itself wherein topology develops (enchaine) its phenomena."5 He later adds that this intuition is of another nature than "the algebraic intuition. as we have seen. missed encounter. It makes appear the space of the desire of the subject. Lacan comments as follows on the sentence just cited: "For the fact that I walk to become an act. as the bringing to light of the structure of the speakingbeing.Lacan tends to reduce the metaphor. all in destroying this space at the same moment. 5 6 Henri Poincaré. defines it as follows: "What interests us in this 'analysis situs' (a name given to topology at the beginning of its existence) is that it is here that the geometric intuition truly intervenes. Between topology and the analytic experience are established some relations that the words "intuitive support" do not define. Ernest Flammarion. it points to desire. one can say that the signifier is equal to itself. In this moment of the cut. Thanks to this. this operation has made the structure of this space disappear: an effect of fading. It is in this context that Lacan links one of the absolutely essential notions of the analytic practice to another paradox of the Moebius strip. One sees how this operation detaches the signifier from the signified. However. The structure of the surface changes without modifying its material. he remains no less divided. Interpretation is the operation of the cut. However. the act must be situated in language. the intuition refers to topology as the mode of approach of this geometry. It finds its efficacy on the side of the signifying equivoke. it remains no less true that it produces some effects of structure. The trajectory of the pair of scissors creates a void that. To the extent that it is analytic. we know that this is impossible. opening and closing of the unconscious. it allows us to evoke these different paradoxes of the act. in the direction of its length. "One could say. "and this would be to deceive oneself. rather. the fact that I walk must signify that I walk as such or that I say it as such. Dernières pensées (Paris: Bibliothèque scientific. In the act. the subject of this act remains divided. or. Henri Poincaré." Intuition. the analytic act par excellence."6 in the space left between the two circles of the double-buckle." Lacan continues. This cut is the act." The act is in itself the double-buckle of the signifier. refers to the qualities proper to topology as a global apprehension of space. one can with a single cut (trait) of a pair of scissors. that in its act the signifier signifies itself. trace an interior eight that divides it without cutting it into two pieces. Such a condensation defines the true act. 1913). it is not necessary to pose it because there is an equivalence between the one and the other. It is situated in the "field of desire. Psychoanalysis." 18 . a single proffering of the signifier can make felt two turns. "The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. a space. its physical consistency.

before bringing in other topological objects.aphanisis. This paradoxical function is a necessity. sometimes as a trap of duration. It allows us to acquire an assurance on which Lacan will draw later when he introduces the Borromean knot. the usage made by Lacan of the cross-cap7 also holds to the paradoxes that the Moebius strip lays out for us. The Moebius strip keeps. In the same order of idea. 7 Cf. sometimes as place of a paradoxical cut. there are for the subject always effects of this order. sometimes as a surface with one face. sometimes as a perimeter rolling back on itself. It is useful to recall. Chapter 4. Lacan supported the analytic situation with the interior-eight. Thus this object allows for the representation of an abstraction knotted to a real. in fact. 19 . The space shows itself in disappearing. that only the Moebius strip is really constructable and manipulable as a unilateral* object. in our space. because of the debility of our perception and of our intuitive imagination of space. this status of a representative (représentant) of the unrepresentable.

Lacan does not have to articulate the relations between identification 21 . with the archaic father. that it affirms itself for others. At the dawn of the birth of the subject there is identification.Two linked torii Chapter 3: The Torus In the text of the "Rome Report" of 1953. It is as desire for death. this structure is different from the spacialization of the circumference or the sphere where one is pleased to schematize the limits of the living being (du vivant) and its mean (milieu): this structure corresponds instead to the relational group that symbolic logic designates topologically as a ring." and then the model gathers so much strength and conviction that once again the formula "topology is structure" imposes itself." "Saying that this mortal sense reveals in speech a center external to language is more than a metaphor and manifests a structure." we find under the pen of Jacques Lacan a reference to the topology of the torus." "In wishing to give to it an intuitive representation. with the dead father. it is in freezing him in the metamorphosis of his essential image. At issue in this "what is primordial to the birth of symbols" is what Freud calls the identification with the father of the primal horde. if it is identified with the other. At first. rather than to the superficiality of a zone. Our attention should be drawn to several terms that enclose some notions essential to the psychoanalytic cure. "Function and Field of Speech and Language. and no being is ever evoked by it except among the shadows of death. This is the great question that the torus and its topology allows us to pose in clear terms. he speaks of an "intuitive representation. Lacan situates himself thusly: "When we wish to attain in the subject what was before the serial games of speech and what is primordial in the birth of symbols. it seems that. it is to the three dimensional form of the torus that we must take recourse. inasmuch as its peripheral exteriority and its central exteriority constitute a single region. in fact. Lacan refines the formalization of this question. we find it in death. from where its existence takes all that it has of sense. From the "Rome Report" in 1953 to his séminaire of 1976. To speak of the nature of the subject proper to the unconscious." This citation is accompanied by a note from 1966 that reminds us of a usage of topology.

and the turning inside-out of the torus. the one is equivalent to the other. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. We can obtain a torus by combining a circle with a circle (the Cartesian product of S  S). A ring can also figure it if one takes into account the material sameness of a cup with its handle. We can construct a torus from a cylinder: it suffices to start by transforming it into a handle by curving it lengthwise and joining its ends. the interior. The torus gives us an apt representation of this relational group for which the center and the exterior are one and the same space. 22 . the emptiness in the interior of the torus. or more precisely. One circle is called the soul of the torus. The lines drawn in this representation are the folds in the surface. and is equivalent in this sense to the sphere. The surface of the torus envelops an interior space and detaches it from the exterior. A torus is defined as a surface without edge. at the cost of a center that remains exterior. The other is a little circle or meridian circle. but its center is empty. We must imagine a flattened buoy. The best physical approximation is the buoy or the inner-tube.

we obtain a torus. These latter drawings allow us to define the torus as an edgeless surface that two cuts do not make disappear and do not divide (at issue are two dual cuts* that meet at a single point). on which the arrows indicate the directions of the joins: we first obtain a cylinder. We can represent this operation beginning with a rectangle. by joining its ends. 23 . and then.The torus can also be constructed from two crowns (couronnes): it suffices to join them along their edges.

exterior. which allow us to establish the relation that unites desire and demand. delimits an interior and an exterior with this particularity of having an "exterior" center." a surface is organized. we must clarify certain terms that Lacan utilizes in reference to this surface. Lacan utilizes this surface structure in reflecting on the great question of identification. 1 Séminaire on L'Identification. where it would not at all be a question of love. the loops are multiplied and the trajectory also completes a long longitudinal turn.1 He expresses himself as follows: "These two holes isolated on the surface of a sphere are those which." and the axial hole. Lacan illustrates it with the example of the Führer's mustache. The torus. it allows for a knotting. lined up with each other (rejoins l'un à l'autre) and then very much extended and conjoined. becoming more explicit. however. closing itself without intersecting itself. which Lacan calls the "current-of-air hole. the identification with the desire of the Other. Lacan defines the torus as an organization of the hole. and still central? Let us recall that for Freud there are three identifications: --The primordial identification. In 1976. It is a holed interior that misses the center." Around the interior hole "buried in the surface. have given us the torus. On the surface of the torus exists a trajectory following a meridian circle." But before taking on this notion. which one calls what one can. How does the torus account for identification? This object offers a support that allows us to perceive the implications of this term that has become commonplace without. 1962. this identification results from the love dedicated to the father. Let us designate with letters desire (d) and demand (D). This center is holed. Freud puts this identification at the foundation of the constitution of masses. --The identification with the unary trait. --The identification that implies a participation: it is pinned to the term hysteric.In this instance. Lacan begins by drawing on a very particular phenomena of toric transformation. It also turns the length of the torus's soul. it is responsible for the introduction of the symbolic. if this trajectory around the torus misses its starting point. said to be "with the dead father". 24 . On the other hand. an edgeless surface. May 23. that this endo must be endorsed--what relation is there between this interior and what we currently call identification?" Identification is an answer to a question: how does something from the exterior become interior. he expresses himself in this way: "What relationship is there between our having to admit that we have an interior. psychism for example--we even see Freud write endo-psychism. and it does not go without saying that the psyche be endo. "the turning inside-out. It closes itself in a buckle.

This trajectory encircles the torus's central hole in a manner that we could call pointillistic. In doing so, it describes a supplementary turn around the hole. This additional turn is forgotten; and anyhow, how are we to count it? The turns succeed one another and are counted; they are identical, without the possibility of counting the additional turn completed around the central hole. Here is illustrated demand and its fundamental repetition, a repetition effected in the misrecognition (méconnaissance) of its expression of a misrecognized albeit essential desire. We have thus defined the "one-too-many" (l'un-en-trop): this forgotten circle of longitude, which is properly speaking what Lacan names desire. This progress allows a fundamental aspect of the misrecognition of desire to appear, one summed up by the importance of the central hole: demand repeats itself and designates the object as lacking. Described in this way, this object is always missed, with a missing that is nonetheless structural, tied to the progress of demand and necessary to its repetition. This central hole is also in communication with the exterior, and Lacan utilizes these properties to define two distinct positions of desire in relation to demand. On the one hand, it is "beyond" demand--"it transcends it, goes farther, and is in this regard eternal." Demand, in articulating desire to the conditions of language, expresses itself through signifiers that betray its true aim. In a way, the missing is fundamental to demand; the figure of the object (a) is profiled in the central void. Lacan later describes this object as taken between the three rounds of the Borromean knot, RSI. Remember that these three rounds are torii; they have the consistency of the cord, "these are gut-torii (tores-boyaux)."


On the other hand, desire is "within"; the central void communicates with the exterior. Demand recalls the radical "lack in being" that subtends desire. "Desire hollows itself within, in that, as an unconditional demand for absence or presence, it evokes the radical lack in being in the three figures of the nothing, which founds the demand for love, of hatred, which tends to deny the being of the other, and of the unsayable, which ignores its request." We see appear in this sentence the three passions that Lacan situates at the level of being and not of the object. It is a question of hatred, love, and ignorance.


The turning inside-out of a torus The demand that circles, borders the "lack in being," the nothing of the universe, creates, by its repetition itself, a surface separating an interior and an exterior. This structure accounts for the birth of a subject of the unconscious. The within of demand also introduces us to what there is in it of a knotting to the other. Love, hatred, and ignorance concern the other in his being. Remember that the subject who enters analysis puts himself in the position of "he who is ignorant" of what he says. Lacan supports the neurotic dialectic between the subject and the Other with the knotting of two torii. In this knotting, the desire of the one is isomorphic with the demand of the other, and the central void serves only for the knotting of the two torii. (Cf. the photographs.)


At issue is an essential articulation for entering the problematic of identification. An object demanded by the other, the mother, the primordial Other, finds itself in the position of object of desire for the subject. This articulation allows for a new envisioning of mother-child relations, which are relations of dependence, certainly, but do not belong to a symbiotic confusion or infra-verbal communication. The signifiers that become unconscious are tied to signifiers witnessing to the moment of access to language. Here is fixed the structure of the fantasy, within demand, which is the mode of appearance of the Other. The fundamental fantasy situates (cerne) the moment of separation from the real experience, linked to the present demand of the other, and its hallucinatory revivification. It constitutes the separation between the object that fills and the sign that inscribes at the same time the object and its absence. At issue is the putting in place of the conditions of speech, the structure of which gives meaning to the aphorism: "the unconscious is the desire of the other." Thanks to the notion of the turning inside-out of the torus, Lacan once more makes his thoughts clear. Turning the torus inside-out consists in making pass to the exterior the face which was on the interior. This operation can be effected thanks to a cut, to a hole. We then observe an astonishing phenomenon: the circles of demand and desire exchange positions. The meridian circle becomes a circle through the soul of the torus. However, the central hole remains the same. At the physical level, the experience is simple, but its writing or drawing is very difficult, because the conventional lines of the curves disappear. This operation brings to light the purely conventional aspect of drawing. At the end of the process, the torus remains the same, but its writing is different. The photos depict the whole of the operation, but we are going to study in detail these difficulties of the writing of it. The turning inside-out illuminates how the drawing no longer maintains the illusion of a representation of the real that escapes writing. We must begin with the classic drawing of the torus in which the lines represent the curvings of the surface: on this drawing we make a cut. For the sake of greater simplicity, a hole will suffice.


or. mathematicians turn the torus inside-out at the cost of an intersection of the surface and enter into the domain of immersions. the cut has different operatory dimension than the intersection. which is what the photographs show. to the act of speech. The cut is here much more economical for operating the same suppression of the edge. and therefore puts interior and exterior in communication. better yet. We turn the torus inside-out like a glove. which is a unilateral continuous surface. By a rotation of a quarter of a turn on the part of the observer. In general.A hole in the surface.* The trajectory then passes through the Klein bottle. is of another nature than the central or interior holes of a torus. We then obtain another writing of the torus: This drawing is represented as a sphere with a tunnel. more generally. We see that the space of the central hole is going to become the internal space. but then the lines that represent it are not creased. It is a question of a turning inside-out that remains in the domain of plungings (plongements). a rupture. Lacan calls this presentation the "torus-cudgel" (tore-trique). We can also make the following monstration: The hole is open to show again what becomes of space. we fall back into the classic drawing of 29 . since it refers to interpretation in the cure and. in the field of psychoanalysis. like a poncho and its lining. We can materialize this outcome by knotting a cord to the initial torus. Then we begin to pull the surface through the hole. Moreover. with two openings.

In these representations. A thread that we have now represented in the following drawings materializes the transformation of the meridian circle into the circle of the soul. of a half of a half twist. The subject of perception makes a quarter turn. but now its internal face is on the exterior. 30 . At issue is the same torus that we began with. the little spoon). Let us only note that it is a question of a quarter turn. as is symbolized by an eye in these drawings: We see how the twist is an extrinsic characteristic of the surface. A circle of demand becomes a circle of desire. which only appears to an external gaze.the torus. We have seen how the half-twist is the unit of counting in our space (Cf. (This question will be addressed in a whole chapter of this study). we find again the importance of the twist.

rather. visa-versa. above). Le Seuil." It is possible for us now to return to the three Freudian identifications. with a trait that is only the same? How are we to distribute these three inversions of torii. we in fact find again a unilateral Moebius strip with a half-twist. it has two holes." Elsewhere Lacan declares: "consciousness and the unconscious are supported and communicate by a toric world. that in the topside and that in the underside. and it is this that gives the image of the link between the consciousness and unconscious. is a hole. a single turning inside-out. The Moebius strip. homogenous in their application (practique) and which. The drawings also allow us an approach to the scenario of the turning inside-out of two linked torii. --a cut in the torus that we have just come to in our drawings and a turning inside-out. from the moment when one turns inside-out the torus that encloses it. 2 Seminar of November 16. as the place of the neurotic dialectic with the Other. for the transformation of an object of love into a trait of the Ego. 1976. By wrapping a Moebius strip with four half-twists all the length of its ring as a doubled covering (revêtement). Ornicar nos. and how identification is an outcome of this attachment. It suffices to give to the thread the consistency of a cord or of a tube. for instance. It is in fact appropriate to situate the unconscious and its effects of speech in this problematic. "The torus can be cut into a double Moebius strip." Toric space has many relations with the Moebius strip. With these schematizations. if a surface has a topside and an underside. how Melanie Klein established the mourning necessary for the separation from the primary object and the structuring role that it brings into play in the "depressive position. but this not immediately felt. --a single cut.This process accounts for identification. and two turnings inside-out. The hole is Moebian inasmuch as. He asks the following question:2 "How are we to designate in a homologous fashion the three identifications distinguished by Freud: hysterical identification. a trait with which the Ego identifies. identifies its desire. which is neither the one nor the other. moreover. --a cut in each torus. Or. or. the identification with a particular trait. maintain the symmetry of one torus with another?" In the following seminar. We remember.* which. 12-13. the interior torus. (Cf. we see how one can turn a torus inside-out and see the torus linked on its interior. to envisage them in terms of three scenarios of linked torii turned inside-out. since it joins the underside and the topside. the loving identification said to be with the father. founds what there is of a hole. Lacan takes up this problem in different terms: he endeavors to knot these identifications with the function of the unconscious. moreover. 31 . will be knotted to the first. and the identification that I will name neuter. Lacan tries to support diverse Freudian identifications. We see now why a mechanism like this is important for accounting for the process of the development of mother-child relations. with a trait that I call no matter which.

One then obtains a strip with four half-twists. and thus a bilateral strip with two edges (materialized here by a different writing of two edges.) With a slight transformation of the cut. 3 Cf. It is therefore mathematically impossible to inscribe a unilateral and non-orientable Moebius strip on its surface. an interior eight which is also seen to be equivalent to the edge of a Moebius strip. a frontier. One cannot pass from the interior to the exterior without crossing an edge. this half-twist is in fact reduced to a point. there must be a particular process with specific events. we can reduce the surface of the torus to the space bordering the cut. Chapter 2. Let us start again beginning with the cut: Because of its suppleness.Some such layout is primordial for the functioning of the unconscious. Without this half-twist nothing any longer distinguishes the torus from the sphere. even numbered. To inscribe it. The following drawings illustrate the process step by step. orientable surface without an edge. we can establish a half-twist. It is a question of a hole. The twist at the edge of the fold accounts for the axial hole in the torus. often forgotten. one turns around the axial hole twice. However. although it entertains with it some particular relations. the torus "cut out" in this way is revealed to be the "combining as two thicknesses" (revêtement à deux feullilets) of the Moebius strip. Two folded ends remain. the sticking together of these two half-twists one on top of the other allows us to create a Moebius strip. 32 . for it allows us to situate its principal characteristic. which we are going to trace: one first makes a double-buckle shaped cut. but of a different nature than the axial hole in the torus. This reduction owes to our difficulty with the mental representation of the torus itself. The half-twist is here the expression of the structure of the torus.3 Thanks to this process. By these two half-twists. How can a unilateral Moebius strip be cut from a torus? The torus is a continuous. without creating a phenomenon of rupture. In the first drawing. bilateral.

Finally. and bring them together. then put the two buckles en miroir. We can then reduce the folds to the half-twist that they represent. 33 . this trajectory is the reverse of the cutting of a Moebius strip. we see how a sticking together of these two buckles. creates a unilateral Moebius strip with one half-twist. This is what one calls the "combining as two thicknesses" of the Moebius strip. as interpretation. At issue is a strip that can be cut out of a torus. for example. The Moebius strip gives us the structure of the signifying chain and the cutting effects of certain words. Moreover. all the length of their surface. The latter creates a bilateral strip with four half-twists. in what Freud calls the "double inscription": the same memory is inscribed in an unconscious and conscious chain.The surface crosses over itself. This combining as two thicknesses is the operation accounting for how the unconscious and consciousness "communicate by a toric world." This happens.

A contrario.This relationship of the Moebius strip with the structure of the torus links a whole series of questions to the moment of the first identifications and the learning of language (la langue). and topological objects give us the means of formalizing it. psychosis and its possible possible psychoanalytic treatment perhaps finds a new direction thanks to these formulations. is interpretation in the psychotic structure? Is it not rather the matter of a construction? We might ask ourselves if it is a matter of a cutting of the sticking together of a combination of two thicknesses? The structure itself of language (la langue) is laid out here (est ici sur le métier). 34 . in effect. What.

It is also unilateral. It appears for the first time in the work of Van Dyck. The projective plane is the space in which projective geometry is conceived. This closed surface. The projective plane itself must be conceived of as a space on the same basis as our ordinary space. or non-orientable. mathematicians like Felix Klein and Schäfli recognized in this abstract object the quality of being unilateral. The surface is continuous and accounts for the infinity of the space of the projective plane (the term "continuous" means "without edge"). It is a closed surface. give us its calculation). we find the projective plane represented for the first time in the not very explicit drawing below: Speaking rigorously. as we find it in the teachings of Lacan. Toward the 1880's. It is defined by the adjunction of a point called "by convention" at infinity to the Cartesian plane (the three coordinates x. but one that does not delimit space. its interior is continuous with the exterior. without an edge and unilateral. z. that is.Chapter 4: The Cross-Cap The drawing of the cross-cap. this drawing is an immersion* of the projective plane into our ordinary space.* is an abstract object whose mathematical definition preceded its representation. 37 . it is a presentation of the projective plane. dates from 1890. y.* Thanks to Van Dyck.

The surface re-closes itself at this point. the cross-cap is closed in reversing the two thicknesses. However. it is closed like a sphere. The intersection is a phenomenon that escapes our everyday. Lacan calls it a "pseudo-intersection. intuitive perception. Its difficulty arises from the fact that cross-cap as object is not physically realizable in our ordinary space except at the cost of this intersection. If we were to represent a little ant walking on one of its surfaces. it would follow its trajectory without knowing that another surface had crossed the first. On the one hand. The first is that where this double line stops." Two surfaces intersect. The cross-cap is a sphere creased by a line of intersection. We submit to these laws as if they were self-evident. We must remember that there is nothing extraordinary about this. 38 . This structure possesses two points that are particularly difficult to think. at the top of the drawing. Thinking its structure requires an effort of the imagination that allows for particular phenomena like the intersection or "double-line". The cross-cap has the merit of bringing this evidence into question. They intersect along a double line. since it is a question of another space that should allow us to perceive the laws of our ordinary space á contrario. the line is a line of the fold. but it is a question of an abstract intersection that is situated nowhere. two surfaces intersect.The lines of the drawings are not borders. passing through each other along an arbitrarily drawn line. but lines of curves and an intersection (the vertical line in the middle of the egg in the photo).

the Moebius strip puts the topside in continuity with the underside. transforming a bilateral object (two thicknesses posed one over the other) into a unilateral object (these two thicknesses exchanging places). one obtains what we call the eight-cone: a cone whose surface intersects itself. The second point. It represents the point of the impossible to think. This intersection has as its consequence the putting in continuity of the external face with the internal face. It is the point off the line (point hors ligne). In the same manner.When one cuts away this particularity alone. but not to write. One could say that this point sums up the set of the characteristics of the cross-cap. We can now write the different trajectories possible for our ant: the four possibilities are presented as follows: __________ topside in front 39 . The line of the base of the cone describes a lengthened figure eight. is the point of departure of this line of intersection. the interior of the sphere communicates with the exterior. If we consider the cross-cap as pure surface without thickness. which puts our imaginary to the toughest test so far. the point where one passes locally from a situation where two surfaces are posed one over the other to the situation where the same two surfaces intersect.

While the cross-cap is constructed from a Moebius strip with one half-twist. but only of a drawing that renders perceptible the construction of the Boy surface. a miter of which the bottom would be closed in a spherical manner." He also at times employs the term "bishop's miter.. but effectively the passage from behind of what was in front and visa-versa. . the Boy surface is constructed from a Moebius strip with three half-twists. a translation of "cross-cap. . __ __ underside behind topside in front topside behind Lacan calls this figure a bonnet croisé. and of which the intersection would not be a banal effect of sewing. front profile The Boy surface is another immersion of the projective plane. 40 ." He then alludes to the real form of a bishops miter creased toward the middle. . as is shown in the following drawing: it is not a question of a demonstration. constructed on a Moebius strip.

there is no possibility of marking our starting point. We start by giving a simple strip with two faces on which we make correspond to one point a diametrically opposed point. Chapter 2. a point situated at a place diametrically opposed to it (a'). the projective plane is first of all a structure of organization such that each point of the sphere is associated with another diametrically opposed point. We then effect a series of constructions that transform the simple strip into a Moebius strip. In mathematics. a structure where the trajectories entangle themselves in a star. We in this way describe a circular relation. a point situated at place (a) will correspond. 41 . Hence. will be identical to. 1 Cf. Since we are also dealing with a continuous structure.1 The following drawings show this construction in reversing the trajectory. The reader will better follow the disappearance of the Moebius strip and the fate of the point marked A on the two edges of the cut. We can construct a Moebius strip beginning with this definition.But let us return to the definition of the projective plane itself. it's the same for (b) and (b').

To obtain a cross-cap. Then. unpublished. and concentrating it around a vast central intersection that escapes our thought. one can construct a cross-cap from a Moebius strip. will be dealt with in the next chapter. L'Indentification. which maintain the two faces of the simple strip.The problem of twists. It is a question of a characteristic that does not modify the intrinsic nature of the surface."2 As we can guess from the preceding drawings. at the place of the twist. A contrario. this equivalence between diametrically opposed points creates an entanglement that still leaves an unimaginable point at the center. it is a holed crosscap. 42 . Lacan situates it thusly: "This circular relation must be perceived as a sort of rayed intersection concentrating the exchange of a point with the opposed point on the single edge of this hole. there is a problem. On the cross-cap. we must first crease the Moebius strip lengthwise. of an even number. one can define a Moebius strip with a cross-cap. the double line or intersection inscribes this structure of the crossing of surfaces: 2 Seminar of June 6. whether it is to the right or to the left. The two sides of the fold must cross each other (the dotted numbers on the drawing indicate their continuous movement onto the underside of the surface). 1962.

This central point. But we will come back to that. what becomes of the surfaces is a mystery. a surface where one divines it. This manner of making the cross-cap appear gives to its surface an altogether particular dimension. L'Indentification. unpublished. 43 . it is a cross-cap." is also what permits Lacan to make a new usage of this topological object. in fact. where the line of pseudo-intersection begins" (L'Identification 5/23/62). 1962. this hole. The cut has a particular relation with the central point of the cross-cap. if we can subsume all the history of mathematics under the "point at infinity. this object is a Moebius strip. after this same closing. This point remains irreducible. One can never say enough about the originality of this step. The hole.All that remains then is to close the whole (l'ensemble) of the surface. becomes the construction's point of departure: the cross-cap is an organization of the hole. "It conjures away the hole. The cut is an operation. Before the closing of the hole. This operative quality of the cut leads us understand Lacan's interest in the Borromean knot (whose definition is supported by this operation of cutting)."3 "It is a surface that in some way has taken the place of the hole. As soon as it disappears as a hole. This is what permits Lacan to turn the question inside out. although the important thing for the structure of the hole remains the central point. He is interested in the cut and the place of this point-hole in the effects of the cut. which is to reduce the hole to a point. since nothing any longer makes a border. whose characteristics permit an economic and synthetic formulation of the analytic experience. But it suffices to make this cut turn around the central hole to divide the surface: 3 Seminar of May 23. This usage of the cut completely subverts mathematical discourse. This is why one speaks of the cross-cap in reference to a Moebian space. as can be shown by this series of drawings: a simple cut opens the surface without separating it. We must first present in detail this cut on the cross-cap.

--a disk. 44 .One then obtains two pieces: --a Moebius strip that can be either left-handed our right-handed when it is unfolded (it is the strip folded lengthwise). bears the point essential to the cross-cap's surface. one indeed perceives that it suffices. starting with the disk. which possesses this particular point of the cross-cap. The bilateral disk. constructed on an interior eight. to reclose the interior eight on itself to once more obtain a cross-cap. It is a question of a bilateral disk. as is shown in the following drawing: it seems also to be related to an eight-cone. with a double line. with two distinct faces. Intuitively. but nonetheless bearing the point essential to the unilateral structure of the cross-cap. gives a particular status to this disk. The double quality of this object. It is this disk that Lacan identifies with the object (a): "It is in articulating the function of this point that we can find all kinds of felicitous formulas that permit us to conceive of the function of the phallus at the center of the constitution of the object of desire" (L'Identification 6/27/62). (The numbers refer to the number of thicknesses). by definition bilateral and with two faces.

The formulation of the fantasy is written with this remainder. On this square. is identified by Lacan with the . The fantasy is a cutting of the cross-cap that detaches an object without specular image. as is the case for those who claim to be supported by it. The usage Lacan makes of this cross-cap figure is original." Écrits 45 . the definition of the subject in relation to the object. For Lacan. the cut is an operation that does not function to underscore a definition but to provoke a transformation formalized as such: at issue is the constitution of the fantasy. detached from a Moebius strip."4 The Schema R is therefore a putting flat of the projective plane or the laying out of the cross-cap in which two cuts are made: one is situated at the place of the line of intersection in the classic drawing. drawn by Lacan several years before he defined it in a note of 1967 as the laying out of a projective plane: "Perhaps it will be of interest to recognize that enigmatically. We can now refer to the Schema R.The point of the impossible to think. We see how the operation of the cut synthesizes. the cross-cap is the "topological support that we can give to the fantasy" (6/27/62). at the same time as their relations." written with the matheme:   a. the point-off-the-line (point hors ligne). we should add that this cut created the Moebius strip and the disk bearing the central point." "Specifically. The latter are formalized elsewhere as "separation-alienation. but not to write. the points of which it is not by chance (nor for fun) that we have chosen the letters to which they correspond mMil and which are those that give the framework for the only worthwhile cut in this schema (the cut miMI) well enough indicating that this cut isolates in the field a Moebius strip. 4 "On the Possible Treatment of Psychosis. but perfectly readably for those who know what follows. This cut permits the delimitation of a surface where four points are establishable and can then be assimilated to a square." marked R on the Schema. the cut of the fantasy follows the lines delimiting "the field of reality. which represents the barred subject on the basis of this loss. from a Moebius strip. To be more rigorous. the object (a). that what the schema R lays out is the projective plane. sums up. the central disk.

access to meaning. It renders possible a laying out that belongs only to speech. rather. on the trajectory of the cut called "of the fantasy. Lacan takes up again his celebrated formula dating from ten years earlier: "the unconscious is structured like a language. to knot these two aspects of the unconscious. which Freud leaves as is. as the cut in the form of an interior eight. In seminar XI." there is a displacement of the above-beneath. (Let us say." He poses the unconscious as an effect of speech on the subject. The square of Schema R takes the form of a pouch.) It is also on the figure of the cross-cap that Lacan establishes the structure of the transference. He shows how. One can then write on the surface the letters of the Schema R.5 and says how he situates it in the central place of the construction. hence. Lacan makes use of the Moebius strip and. the field of reality in the Schema R is directly readable on the cross-cap. the functioning. The analytic situation is thus articulated by the same object in the measure where its operation brings to light the fundamental fantasy. from which one withdraws a portion. sums up. It thereby permits us to bring to light the operation. to effect this knotting. The cross in dotted lines evokes as much the re-closing of the cross-cap as the the twist in the Moebius strip. that one must add a conception of the transference. We here see again the utilization of the Moebius strip as an operation of the cut that permits us to unveil structure. of the cross-cap." To show the importance of this question of the articulation of discourse to sex. structural. Lacan speaks from the place of the analyst in the transference. of a sphere. (Moreover. the fantasy constitutes the framework of our perception of reality. It is then that is posed the question of situating in this formulation the Freudian discovery of the importance of sexuality. In question is an operation that effects the fundamental fantasy: at once separating and joining a subject and an object. To support his development. of concepts between themselves. diverse aspects while taking them up in a same synchronic. Quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse Le 46 . and it is in this that it is structure. miMI. At the same time. Lacan begins by supporting his views a contrario on Jung's reflections. Jung comes to consider unconscious sexuality as a 5 Séminar XI. that which Freud brings to light in his study of "jokes" (les mots d' esprit) and that of the repression analyzed in his "Studies on Hysteria. We see how topology synthesizes.The following drawings will show these two cuts and their outcome on the cross-cap. The transference is then the space in which this cut operates. Fundamentally.) Based on this. it is a question of a taking into account of the operative effects of speech as interpretation.

sexuality as material of the unconscious. For the desiring subject. along a line of intersection. Due to the defiles of the signifier and their discontinuous nature. is here taken entirely in a surface. 47 . (As has since been shown by Levi-Strauss's discoveries. it seems that the signifier came into the world beginning with the sexual difference. The Libido is point of crossing that can be drawn on the surfaces enclosed by an interior eight: it is a question of the point of junction between the two fields. For this drawing in which one lobe hides another. Lacan adds that this point of junction "libido" is inscribed in the transference: one must beware of conceiving of this formulation as subjectivized. it is only it that insures the cohesion of the discontinuous elements that are the words. Jung founds the notion of the archetype and then sacrifices to the recognition of the original. However.) In this way. At issue is the analytic situation. We know that Freud always refused this consequence. If sexuality is present in the unconscious. long considered his successor.remanaging of archaic thought. Desire is metonymic and runs beneath the chain. depicting the Moebius strip. Hallucination shows it a contrario. Lacan takes this articulation of sex to speech up again and makes use of the Moebius strip and of the space that it founds as a point of departure for making perceived the points of conjunction and disjunction of the one with the other. the demand articulated in signifiers always leaves a remainder. It is for a desiring subject that the sentence closes itself on a sense. distinguishing it from the reality of the unconscious. it is beginning at the point where he desires that the connotation of reality is given to these perceptions. representing an individual in his functioning. it is in the name of its original importance in the constitution of language. What the putting in place of the transference effects is the crossing of this hidden lobe to the front. He thus makes a first conceptual distinction: he speaks of a field of unconscious development to refer to its language aspect. holding as essential the sexual reality of the libido. which is sexual. We should remember that he went so far as to break with Jung.

the structure of which we recognize. Lacan writes on the interior eight the places of the different notions we have taken up. it helps to clarify the formulation of the transference. Somehow. Lacan gives this description of the operation: "You can obtain the cross-cap beginning with the interior eight. It is important to take the time to establish this passage from the topology of illustration to the equivalence between space and structure. The cross-cap is introduced as a space made necessary by the formulation of the cure. and close it. And indeed this surface is a Moebian surface. on the cut that. the analytic situation in its entirely is required. along the line that I reproduce. marked by the cut from the object and its loss. at this point here." "All of that depends on a line we will call desire." For the unconscious to unveil itself. if I tell you that the desire in question is the desire of the analyst. which founds the transference." "What is this desire? Do you think it is there that I designate the incidence of the transference. and precisely the desire of the analyst." Lacan adds: "This image allows us to figure desire as place of a junction of the field of demand where are presented the syncopes of the unconscious with sexual reality. You will see that the thing does not go without saying. for the cut of speech to operate. it plays the same complementary role in relation to the initial eight as a sphere does in relation to a circle. There is a second necessity that arises from this figure: to close its curve it must somewhere traverse the preceding surface. for interpretation to operate with its effects of alleviating psychic suffering.It is a question already of the cross-cap. sedating conflicts. If this desire is noted at the central point of the cross-cap. it is because represents the analyst as object (a). with a complementary surface. has signaled the advent of desire and the detachment of the object. Unite two-by-two the edges as they are presented here. for him. For that. Yes and no. a sphere that would enclose what the circle already would offer to contain. its topside continuing its underside. The transference is founded on the desire of the analyst. tied to demand. 48 .

It gives support to the analytic act by marking the conceptual points between which it operates. Later. where he writes (T). We thus see how the cross-cap is a structure fundamental to the formulation of analysis for Lacan. above all because it allows the showing of the operation effected by speech. What does a psychoanalyst do? Lacan gives a first answer here. 49 . of which we must remember that it signals. We again find the letters of the Schema R and the contour of the cut the fantasy puts in operation. and (a). with the Borromean knot. basal point of the transference. the end of analysis. It is by this operation that the subject can identify with what he desires.He situates the analyst on the line between (I). he will give another theory of this set. for analysts on the other side of the Atlantic. He then insists on this beyond of identification. the object. the point of fascinating identification. This beyond is defined by the relation to and the distance of the object (a) from the big idealizing (I) of identification. To let appear in the cure the place of the object is also to permit the fantasy and the cut that it puts into operation between the subject and the object to be put in place. at the point of departure of the line. But one can already remark that he then situates the cut at a place still more central to the constitution itself of the concepts in play.

life displays this twist at key points of its appearance. the object and its reversed image are identical. but so it also is for the umbilical cord. to undo this feeling of identity between left-handed right-handed twists. although patent. that we can conceptualize (penser) the image and its reflection in their originality and in their effects. For the mirror. care little for this phenomenon. which accounts for the physico-chemical structure of chromosomes. The right-handed twist becomes a left-handed twist. Man is his reversed image. but they are perceived as being the same. Lacan had to come along. . like mathematicians. It is no exaggeration to affirm that that science was nonetheless created around this phenomenon. Moreover. is still usually misrecognized: the left-handed or right-handed twist in topological objects. as a group. his specular image.The Klein Bottle Chapter 5: From the Specular to the Non-Specular There exists in general topology a phenomenon that. they evacuate it totally from their definitions. an oversight that is no doubt not usually due just to chance. man finds in the reversed mirror image an illusion so primordial to his identity that this right-left difference remains unrecognized. For example. However. Indeed. his enantiomorph. So it is for the double helix of DNA. More precisely. the importance of the mirror and of the reversal it effects in this set of facts is primordial. without a specular image. with the importance he knew to give to this identification with the image. Moreover. it is thanks to the formulation of an object (a). physicians. which is a triple braid (torsade) made up of an artery and two veins. Galileo moves the twist of the sun toward the earth from the exterior to the interior.

it is not transformed by its mirror reflection. . of bottom and top . On the other hand." I refer in fact to a topological given: two objects are said to be different on the condition that it is impossible to pass by continuous transformation from one to the other. . (Let us remember that this is an illusion of representation. . where the forms are as supple as rubber. or to the right in the mirror. there is a right-handed trefle knot and a left-handed trefle-knot. the appendix to the right . whenever the object has a vertical. This is the case for the body of man. internal axis. depending on whether it is the edge of a Moebius strip with three half-twists to the right or to the left: When I say "there is. The direction (sens) of the twist insures a radically different existence for each. for example. because . In this domain. Thus the Moebius strip presents a right-handed or left-handed twist: In the same manner. which seems to have an axis of vertical symmetry. . the heart is to the left. . the image in the mirror is identical. The letter A becomes A. ) This letter  becomes this sign . . The mirror inverts the object it mirrors along an axis of vertical symmetry of right and left (and not.Let us clarify the topology of this action (agencement): there are images that have an entiomorphic image. it is not everyday that we find two forms of which we know with certainty that they are different. which is to say a specular image.). . Now it is impossible to transform in a continuous fashion a left-handed Moebius strip into a right-handed one. a right-handed twist becomes left-handed.

Between (a) and (a'). That identificatory haste (précipitation). Man looks at himself in the mirror and recognizes himself in the reflection he glimpses. with its array of clinical manifestations that can be summed up under the rubric "fragmented body" (corps morcelé). 1966. as we know. In 1958. The twist creates a symmetry in relation to the mirror that differentiates them totally. Never will a left-handed Moebius strip become a righthanded one. in Ecrits. even if they have the same properties. . or rather what is reflected of its form in the objects. has multiple structuring aspects. Lacan speaks of the paranoiac structure of knowledge (connaissance) . Its failure allows us to establish some elements of the clinic of the psychoses: In fact. is the first articulation that Lacan works out concerning the problem that occupies us. from the non-installation of this imaginary relation. Lacan. the place from where can be posed for him the question of his existence. Man is alienated in his own image. The mirror stage is in fact fundamental to the installation of the imaginary couple. unless its falsity is structural and necessary to the establishment of the discourse in which the neurotic finds his place. Schizophrenia. in the schema L. Different instances cut into the body itself of the psychotic. his objects. -and (A). all of the imaginary relation is in play.: "what constitutes the Ego and its objects 1 Ecrits of J. Seuil. Lacan defines the condition of the subject starting from this relation. ."1 This relation between (a). -(a') his ego. It is apropos of this relation of the object with its image that Lacan founds the imaginary relation constitutive of the Ego (Moi). and (a'). the ego. The specular relation structures the unity of the object: on this basis. and the (A). "The body itself is allimportant": it makes use of the (a). the unity both of the subject and of the object is structured in the specular relation. is one consequence of the impossible unity of the subject. They are totally different. We see that the "ego" already has a definition that calls for some developments. and seeks despite everything to give a consistency to discourse. the objects. the one from the other. Thus: the subject is a participant in this discourse insofar as he is pinned to the four corners of the schema: "(S). unleashes a jubilation for the child. the symmetry is only apparent and in fact creates an untraversible barrier. -(a). .In these right-handed and left-handed pairs of objects. At issue is a particular space on which Lacan places his patent. not recognizing the twist. D'une question préliminaire á tout traitement possible de la psychose. his ineffable and stupid existence. "Imaginary" does not mean false. The psychotic suffers from its failure (carence). which. the (a').

to invoke its death. D'un Autre à l'autre. if we must relate it to a prematuration of birth specific to man. the little other."3 Death holds the functional place of the symbolic. Objects without a specular image are images without a double. there exists a struggle to the death between man and his double. the "feces. 1966. finds itself appropriated as the base of the imaginary triangle that the symbolic relation can in some fashion cover over. Here. L'Agressivité en psychanalyse. His own unifying image is the enemy. The object is fixed in an image frozen in the mirror where the subject can only read the agressivity of a semblable. For the paranoiac. the possibility of articulating a signifying chain. So it is with the sphere. the identity of the one is achieved at the price of the death of the other. or if this hatred. is supported by an object without a specular image. death is the equivalent of a call to the symbolic. in Ecrits.under the attributes of permanence and of identity and of substantiality. related by Lacan to the scybale. because. The subject and his image only find support for their separation on themselves. 2 3 4 Jacques Lacan."2 Although it is possible to evoke schizophrenia when this relationship fails. Thus. throws him into infinite recriminations. between man and his shadow. the gaze.4 and the torus. Lacan formulates it as follows: "the imaginary couple of the mirror stage by what it manifests of the against-nature. in fact. which Lacan defines with the term object (a): the breast. if the mirror illusion is not sustained. in Ecrits. . 1966. D'une question préliminaire á tout traitement possible de la psychose. the creation of the twist. (a) and (a') only support their difference on themselves. in this false identity of the object with its image. in brief. objects somehow coming before the right-left distinction. and the voice. Ecrits of J. the feces. objects without a specular image. so that he can exist as a subject in his truth as speakingbeing (vérité de parlêtre). such as is produced in the mirror. Seuil. whence the precipitation of this separation into a mortal rivalry.” "It is. which accounts for his difficulties (échecs) with the illusion of identity. The symbolic relation. Seuil. supposed in others and misrecognized." These are objects whose internal axes of symmetry make it so they are their own inverse. unpublished. whether it is a question of neighbors who wish him ill and spy on him. his only possibility is to kill it. Sémiaire du 26 mars 1969. in fact. The cross-cap also accounts for their articulation with the point . of which the prototype is the disk bearing the point  detached from the cross-cap. in a form of things very different from what we know of the gestalts of the animal world. Others are depositories by their gaze of this image where he can only be alienated. Lacan. paranoia results from the formalization itself of the unity of the object. by the gap that this prematuration opens in the imaginary and where the effects of the mirror stage swarm that the human animal is capable of imagining himself mortal. To separate himself from it. There exist. related by Lacan to the breast.

in this place. in fact. In a certain differentiation of structures by their gyration. they envelope it. But these surfaces go beyond the left-right distinction. or an effect of obscenity which is related. depending on the trajectory of the cut around the central hole. existentially speaking. It is not a question of producing an explanatory principle for this. right-handed or left-handed. to the fascination or disgust provoked by the evocation of the genital organs. which we do not find on the sphere. are the cross-cap and the Klein bottle.Remember that it is possible to apply a cut to the torus that produces a bilateral Moebius strip with four half-twists. There is. the gaze and the voice. in these structures a resistance to representation. but as a being with two sexes. but of showing how the structures themselves produce this illusion. we could say. The two other structures on which Lacan supports the two objects (a'). the phallic symbol. Lacan supports the object (a) that is the gaze with the cross-cap. The recourse to the Platonic myth of the androgyn is not anodyne. an increasing complication can account for the impression of a progress often ratified as such in the clinic. not as a being without sex. We thus find the possibility of a gyration. We will see the role of the . asexual. above all in the figure of hermaphroditism. They bring into view the set of the possibilities of gyration to the left and to the right. toward the right or the left. .

if theoretically establishable in all of the structures. having given our gaze a quarter-twist: . in the jubilatory assumption of the mirror stage. the words that pertain to thought are in the register of the gaze and vision. as soon as we fold the Moebius strip lengthwise. the disk--more precisely an immersion of the disk. and a single object (a). the cutting of the cross-cap detaches a right-handed or left-handed Moebius strip. It is not at all surprising that this point . remember.The cross-cap is an object without a specular image because the Moebius strip from which it is constructed loses its right-left disparity. is particularly so beginning with the cross-cap. depending on how it is unfolded. For Lacan subsumes all of the objects (a) under the term . Moreover. In the same register are situated two points of structure: on the one hand. a disk provided with a line of intersection. the twist is replaced by an intersection. The object (a) in the scopic drive is the most evanescent. the cross-cap allows us to establish the function of the point . as is shown in these drawings: The numbers on the flattened surfaces of the disk refer to the order of the mounting of the triangles in the eight-cone. disappears as such. The gaze is an object that falls. that Lacan supports the cutting of the fantasy that detaches an object. It is on the cross-cap. On the other hand. We must then interiorize the loop of the eight and look at the cone from above. which is not unrelated to the place of vision in the mirror stage. As we have seen.

the subject is also identified with a third term. According to Freud. the active. It is in this way that the erectile organ comes to symbolize the place of jouissance. where the subject identifies with the opposite of his living being. it nonetheless constitutes a hole in the organization of the Ego. a right-handed Moebius strip. Because the unfolding of these three objects. which allows us to subsume within this organization called the cross-cap all of the objects (a). On the cross-cap. The object (a) remains a point of articulation between fantasy. present with all the carnal weight of a body in the organization of the drive. the imaginary function presides over the investment of the narcissistic object. The imaginary couple of the mirror stage leaves in the hollow (en creux) the place marked by the point . Subversion du sujet et dialectic du desir. Not that these differences are recovered. and the "passions of being" (love. or ignorance). Finally. Its 'plunging' (en pointe)5 position in the form predisposes it to the fantasy of an outmodedness where is achieved the exclusion where it is found the specular image and the prototype it constitutes. On this disk is situated the point  insuring the cross-cap structure. and a bilateral disk. We have shown that "the specular image is the channel taken by the transfusion of the libido of the body toward the object. the phallus must be sought in the Other. Beyond the imaginary identification with his image. which differentiates the drives. It is appropriate to evoke here the three modalities of the drive established in grammatical terms by Freud: the passive. "en pointe" refers to a plunging neckline (décolleté) (Tr. which is nothing other than the phallic image whose unveiling in this function is not the least scandalous aspect of the Freudian discovery" (Traitement). concentrating in itself the most intimate aspect of autoeroticism. hatred. It is apropos of the problem of the mirror and of the twist that we introduce the Klein bottle. but rather that language translates according to its means a disparity situated elsewhere topologically. and the pronominal (the middle voice of ancient Greek).). nor even as an image. . We have already evoked the sphere. On the sphere and the torus. not as itself. for the world of objects. we will say. it permits a knotting with something of the Other. a topological object associated by Lacan with the voice. Excluded from the specular image. from the exterior.The right-left disparity has no role in these occurrences. it is in the right place (de droit). after the cutting of the fantasy--their being plunged into our ordinary space--produces a lefthanded Moebius strip. the point  remains central to the functional organization of this object. it must be positioned on the Klein bottle."6 This quotation reminds us that at the moment itself when the structures of the object (a) are diversified." "But insofar as a part (of the libido) remains preserved from this immersion. "that of the ternary imaginary. It is a question of a sphere on which a tunnel becomes a handle: (see photo) 5 6 In haute couture. drive. but as a part lacking in the desired image. the torus. and the cross-cap.

. Only a trajectory differentiates them. Since it retains a central hole. but two strips with different twists: (The torus is also reconstituted from two Moebius strips. but with an identical twist. it is associated with the torus.We can also describe it as a bottle whose base joins its neck. producing an intersection in the form of a circle: This structure makes appear a space whose interior is continuous with the exterior.) The Klein bottle can in theory be represented by a sphere to which are added two intersection like that of the cross-cap. Topologists show how a torus can be rolled as a double surface around a Klein bottle. They also say that it constructed from two Moebius strips joined along their edge.

8 The torus encloses the mouth and the anus in the same organization. moreover." He develops it thusly: "Masoch organizes things so as to have no more speech. translated by James Strachey (New York: W. p. that of the subject and the Other? Lacan considers. in a doubling of castration. remember that the voice is the object Lacan puts at the center "of the relations between the sadist and the masochist. unpublished.). in fact. D'un Autre á l'autre. he signs some contracts enjoining him to have nothing more to say. They are organizations of the hole. W. . the ear to hear and the mouth to speak. the voice takes up two bodily orifices in the same structure. Also at issue is the physical structure of the set (l'ensemble) of the body: ectoderm. Sigmund Freud. and they give form to the space of the hole. 1969. Norton & Co. mesoderm. Hence. The holes of the organism offer their edge to structures accounted for by topological structures."7 By way of these objects (a). The gaze puts in place a structure so particular that we have to make use of the joke to account for it: it is a wonder "that cats have two holes cut in their skin precisely where their eyes are. . .Is this based on the fact that we can position the point  on the Klein bottle. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious." Clinically." (We recognize here one of Freud's examples in his study on jokes). 7 8 Seminar of March 26. that "nowhere is the subject more interested in the Other than by this object. These are the two orifices of the same hole: the gut or the digestive tract. endo . The sadist tries to de-complete the other by withdrawing speech from him and imposing his voice on him. the body is present by its orifices. 59 (Tr. .. 1963).

Moebien organization of space can account for this. 1962. The coupling two-by-two of objects (a) finds another raison d'être. L'Identification. the true to the fantasy. the image of the other. They put interior and exterior in continuity. unpublished. Seminar of June 13. . There are thus two kinds of objects dividing human knowledge: those to which the mirror gives an identity and a substantiality that is only the reflection of the Ego. Clinically. The failure (l'échec) of this function makes castration anxiety well-up or spring forth. to anxiety. The cross-cap and the Klein bottle are structures of unilateral space. Lacan came to distinguish between two imaginaries: "the true and the false. and those that plug up the hole. 9 The four objects (a) are without specular image. and the object (a)."10 The false imaginary pertains to the necessary illusions of the mirror. At issue are the only passages of exterior space into mesodermic space. Only a unilateral. henceforth specifically organized. veiling it. to desire. L'Identification. unpublished. organizing it.The sphere constructs the hole on its denial. because they are holes. The breast completes the mouth of man's child. 1962. 9 10 Seminar of May 16. This is why Lacan always opposed i(a). The psychic organization of the subject then refers to a totality in which the breast detached from the mother forms a part. by the quite specific ways of sensorial organs. The voice and the gaze are on the body.

The so-called knot of the fantasy. .

Petit. they define a line (as we have seen). although they are very much linked in general topology.C.Chapter 6: From Surfaces to Knots In his topological advances. Thus the edge of a Moebius strip with three half-twists is seen to be knotted in a trefleknot: on a manipulation (pliage) of this knot is constructed another immersion of the projective plane known as the "surface of Boy. This triple point also appears in a mounting of surfaces on the Borromean knot: 1 Drawing of J. they define a point: when there are two."1 the structure of which is shown in the following drawings: This surface of Boy puts in place what is called a "triple point. published in Pour la Science. January 1981. Lacan moved from a usage of surface structures to knots. 1 . This movement was problematic to the extent that there is no mathematical conception that englobes these two parts." When three surfaces intersect.

are supported exclusively by the operation of the cut. the cut serves some definitions of surfaces. It is cuts on surfaces that create knots. In mathematics. This usage is essential to how Lacanian topology serves psychoanalysis. On the Moebian strip. allow us to account for this liaison and for Lacan's progress from one to the other. but they are knotted. On the surfaces. The photographs make this quite clear. Lacan makes an operative use of the cut. care is taken to differentiate them so as to classify them and number them (cf. on the other hand. even to work.How are the knots and the surfaces linked? Several responses. This subversion leads Lacan to knot theory. The cut accounts for the analytic act: essentially. a cut that encircles the surface twice separates the surface into two pieces. The cut also leads to knots topologically. In this respect. or rather several trajectories. albeit knotted. to cross over it in a movement. Knot theory puts this operation to work. for interpretation. Lacan completely subverts this logic. to produce a history thereof. He draws on the wish to work with the surface. genre*). which is already at work in the labors of Levi-Strauss. Knots. the schematic conception of structure. A knot is defined negatively by the necessity of the cut: A knot is all the interlacings of threads that must be cut to make it disappear. The surfaces and knots treat of some possible articulations between the elements of a structure. The notion of space is fundamental. The surfaces with their spatial representation put in question. because it emerges from the a-temporal laying out of structures. The result of the cutting operation is a knot: Hence. This strip cut again separates into two pieces. We must now insist on the subversive aspect of this usage of the cut on surfaces. 2 . he does something new. a median cut on the Moebius strip leaves the strip whole but with four half-twists. to permit speech.

Chapter 5. as at first. cf.Of these two pieces. one bilateral. This operation evokes the so-called cutting "of the fantasy" produced (opérée) on the cross-cap. 3 . the knotting evokes the so-called knot of the fantasy: there is an interior eight and a round: an edge of a Moebius strip and an edge of a disk (see photo). one is a Moebius strip.2 On the other hand. We create two objects. 2 Cutting of the cross-cap. the other unilateral. with one half-twist. and the other is a strip with four half twists.

In other words.Cutting of a strip with four half-twists. is at the heart of this passage from surfaces to knots. the fantasy as a cut on the surfaces. or knot. 4 .

depending on the directions of the twist: The drawing of the interior eight accounting for them brings in an above-beneath and a beneath-above. since the constitution of the object (a) and the misrecognition belonging to the constitution of the Ego is brought into play around the difference between the specular and the non-specular. 5 . just as there are two Moebius strips. In the field of psychoanalysis the twist of surface renders the cut operatory and creative of knots. The Moebius strip is here once again exemplary. an interior-eight-shaped cut produces two pieces knotted like this: There are two above-beneaths too many for the knot of the fantasy. provided that this number is even. The twist plays a primordial role here. at the so-called knot of the fantasy. by a cutting of a surface. However. Based on this. There are two of them. Let us take up again the problem beginning with the twist in surfaces that are the expression of our everyday space and of the characteristics proper to it. the half-twist of a Moebius strip is exemplary: It writes the fundamental difference of above-beneath. We have seen from a variety of perspectives the importance of the twist in the topology of surfaces and how they allow us to account for the analytic experience. The twist retains its fundamental place in this distortion. the topology of mathematicians up to now evacuates this twist.On the Moebius strip with three half-twists. What is surprising is that the real of our everyday space is maintained despite the impossibility of arriving. A strip is bilateral whatever the number of its half-twists.

Moreover. we remove the forward buckle (boucle de devant). In this sense. it the also dispenses with the concave or convex characteristic of a surface. when we retrace the history of the cutting of a Moebius strip with one half-twist. although the above-beneath writes the direction of the twist as right or left. it (and the knot) proceeds from a phenomenon of the simplification of surfaces. The cut creates a second edge and multiplies the half-twists by two. centered on the twists. 6 . which makes one half-twist disappear from one of the branches of the eight. and leaves two on the other: the half-twists are displaced. we see how this history. Thus. We suppress the self-crossing in unfolding the lower buckle: two half-twists disappear but we cannot truly flatten the unfolded branch. is subject to complications.

We only retain the history of its edges and their knotting: 7 . while a surface twists to the left. left. Based on this. We displace some of the half-twists and we transform one twist. the history of the same cut on a Moebius strip can be retraced more simply.The self-crossing. into a concave twist. if we think of it terms of a movement along threads. which changes the direction of the twist. before or behind. there are only two possible outcomes: the passing of one thread under another--which can be the same at another moment of its movement (self-crossing)--or above it. "the above-beneath. before. behind. Here we see four events susceptible of affecting a half-twist: right. which can be called convex." is equivalent to two half-twists. The above-beneath lets one of these oppositions fall: At this stage. to the right.

the surface gives rise to a difference without effect. In the place of the twist. in relation to the simple round of the knot. there is a line of intersection. The cutting of the cross-cap gives us a Moebius strip the direction whose twist is not specified. a disk-shaped simple round and the interior eight of a Moebius strip. Their places are interchangeable: 8 . the disk left by the cut keeps its pertinence. In fact. Let us remember that it bears the remarkable point : The so-called "knot of the fantasy" is also formed by two threads. Here. if the knot is a simplification of writing. On the other hand. it is a symbolic operation and an imaginary function. since it is constructed on an interior eight.Thus. for the fantasy the two writings have their raison d'être.

The symbolic makes three. an effect of the symbolic constitution of the object (a) and with the knots that englobe specular effects themselves. whatever the number of threads in play. "topos" is nothing other than the place of the body. since there are only. if "logos" refers (renvoie) to speech. it suffices to cut a single thread for the knot to disappear. 9 . as we have seen. it is necessary to speak of surfaces to bring the cut into operation. Whatever the knotting. Thus. 2/3. The omnipresence of the number three in this passage owes to structure. and visa-versa. as a cut before the twist. In Scilicet n. One cut and.3 Moreover. a leap from the imaginary to the symbolic that cannot be evacuated. It is in fact a knot whose multiple forms can offer a near symmetry. allows for counting and naming. apropos of this topological work. you do not hear it). speak of an effect that gives all of its value to the Lacanian advance. a simplification. from the twist in surfaces to knots there is a writing. "there are" two. The negative function of the cut on the knots contributes to the definition as an operation a contrario. at a level internal to the knots. then. the article titled "For a Logic of the Fantasy" develops an effect of exclusion between "topos and logos. If the cut creates knots on the surface. two consistencies. the knot disappears. there is a slippage. The exchange writes. The fantasy is an imaginary function. the effects of the mirror on twisted surfaces. although it is no longer here a question of a half-twist: the one is the specular image of the other. moreover. Let us begin (Prenons acte) by 3 Cf. The Borromean quality begins at three. a left-handed and right-handed one. We can now. they are knots formed from two threads. the book of Jean-François Chabaud: Le noeud dit du fantasme. we will say. We see how this knot is situated on the cross-cap. "A knot is an interlacing (enrelacs) that a cut can make disappear.The one becomes the other. The Borromean quality is trivial to them. A contrario. it presents us with the necessity of a writing (as third term: you read this work. Before it. does the place of the body find itself excluded from speech? We say to begin with that this exclusion owes to the fact of its being not-two. The subject is the effect of this exclusion. before three consistencies. a constant exchange between the one and the other." The articulation of the one to the other is impossible even though it is real and." The Borromean knot plays an exemplary role here in that it is the effect of the most simple knotting. In fact. They are all Borromean. Why. but also a radical change in nature.

are constantly present there. which is defined starting with the dyad. For a long time already. properly speaking at the interior of geometrical intuition. of cut. of space. a space proper where our corporal perceptive possibilities contribute. added in 1966. 4 Jacques-Alain Miller. In the same way seeing things is situated Jacques-Alain Miller's warning in his "Commented Table of Graphic Representations" adjoined to Lacan's Écrits. that as object of desire (a) and the set of the effects of Demand (A). The limit-effects our perception encounters are to the image of the world of the psychotic. working with surfaces is a challenge for speech. at the end of this warning.noting that the unity of the body is opposed to the system of logic. postface to the Écrits of Jacques Lacan. what is concrete in the movements of the body. individual.4 He expresses himself thusly: "If it is true that perception eclipses structure. and not in that of the metonymy proper to speech." The place of the body can only be translated (se traduire) into the order of language by a series of disjunctions from which the unconscious acts: "the field of formations of the unconscious with which the psychoanalyst is concerned is. Elsewhere. however. the division between knowledge and truth. that of the compromise formations that. In Lacan's work. Lacan no longer spoke of a topology. the furrowing of speech. Manipulation brings into play the skill of the hands. to the Schema R. There has to be a proposition "x f of y. psychoanalysts of children have put drawing to work in their sessions." Although the drawings are "graphic representations" of an analysis. It is situated in the order of the body. they are shown in a simultaneous vision." "It is the role of symbolism to interdict the imaginary capture. There is no longer an occultation of the symbolic in topology because this presence of an operation evokes. A contrario here we have what gives topology all of its worth in the approach to the psychoses. a schema will infallibly lead the subject to forget in an intuitive image the analysis that supports it. The real of the drawing and of its effects of representation that unfold there take their place in a laying out of the atemporal structure of words. of interior-exterior." into a series of divisions: the division man-woman. The drawing puts to work the scopic space in its relation with the imaginary of representation. allow it to retranslate place into logic. We have seen how this note puts in place on the Schema R the cut essential to the structure of the cross-cap. and all are particular. under the rubric of the principal of identity. it is the operation of the cut that truly transforms these objects represented into a topology of the subject. All of the threads are permitted. to the "signifying chain. of non-contradiction or of bivalence. The topological notions of edge. as well as spaces where these notions are not differentiated. of envelop." The concepts are no longer points of reference. they stage this imaginary capture. subjective. In this way of seeing things. Jacques-Alain Miller refers us "for learning the rules of the transformation of geometrical intuition into a topology of the subject" to the note. in the mode of denial (dénégation). In his final seminars. The position of the work in this field of place and its characteristics entails the loss of the possibility of knotting a discursive thread. that of the body and jouissance. The beginning and the end of a sentence are not present. 10 .

there are no longer specular effects. because it brings into play. psychoanalytically speaking. In a still more general way. The cut that counts. by its effectuation itself." which functions from the beginning. "papa. and the real only appears as a third dimension. and me. There is only a Borromean knot. At issue is nothing other than the Oedipus complex. we can mark this passage in the work of Lacan as he himself defined it.We have shown by the intermediary of the cut that structure itself induces this passage from the writing of surfaces to knots. 11 . the edge of the Moebius strip. the dimension of language (la langue). From the moment when three rounds of thread are in play. The knot is real." he recognizes that he began with the imaginary in the optical schema. The Borromean knot articulates the place given its mythical version in the Oedipus complex. In relation to this beginning. when one passes from two to three dimensions. and imaginary. It is to the extent that this castration becomes symbolic that the neurotic finds a path toward jouissance. it clarifies this three. is the interior eight. then he took up the symbolic. the psychotic does not find his place and the neurotic only finds it at the cost of the imaginary castration from which he suffers. whose relationship with the creation of sense in language we have seen. In this domain the cut is already a symbolic effect as operation. The omnipresence of the number three owes to structure. mama. symbolic. In his famous trilogy "real. and finally the real.

It must be remarked that is an abuse of language to speak of the Borromean knot to designate this chain of three threads: A knot is in fact formed by single thread that follows a particular enough trajectory not to be reducible to a simple round. Every year. This is to say that the knot was part of a very ancient. Mathematicians have only very recently begun to occupy themselves with the part of human experience constituted by the art of knots. It was not until the 20th century that mathematicians began to take an interest in knots. knots were already utilized to mark measurements. They then defined different forms of knots and chains. practical. according to their qualities of knotting and unknotting. as soon as there are several threads in play. 1 .The Borromean Knot Chapter7: The Borromean Knot The Borromean knot is a certain way of knotting loops of thread. On the carpenter's chain at the origin of Egyptian mathematics. On the other hand. The Borromean knot retains a particular place in these studies. This discordance is astonishing. concrete human experience. We speak of a Borromean knot to designate a Borromean chain. realistic. of which mathematics is a theoretical and logical reflection. and they relied on knots to do so. it was necessary to re-measure the fields. after the rising of the Nile. one speaks of a chain.

which presents in its drawn form itself the identical function of all of the rounds. in the form of a crescent. the Borromean knot holds a place apart. which does not go without reminding us of a knot in the strict sense. the manner of representing a knot or a chain by a drawing). there are three different drawn forms (tracés) found regardless of the number of loops one adds at the center: Another representation exists. called "a generalized Borromean chain. called a "trefle knot" (in white in the drawings below). and they introduce two aspects essential to the Borromean knot: the number three and the putting flat (which is to say. as regards the Borromean quality.Among all the chains existent or imaginable. For the representation of the generalized chain. 2 . What is the Borromean quality of a chain? "A Borromean chain is a chain such that if one cuts any one of the rings. It suffices to cut any one among them to undo the knot." it is clear that the central loop. because the threads constituting it are held together by a knot. whichever loop is cut: There are three ways of cutting any Borromean knot. all are unlinked. The following drawings show how a Borromean knot of this type is undone. can be multiplied: the number is not relevant to the Borromean quality of the knot." One can represent the chain in a way that puts the accent on the possibility of multiplying to infinity the number of distinct threads: In this representation. or rather an operation of knotting. the one used most often by Lacan.

as is shown in the following drawings. The following drawing shows how a single round (in white) links the two others by an alternation of above-beneaths: It is in the name of this homogeneity of functions in the drawing that Pierre Soury preserved for the three the role of unity in the classification of Borromean chains. one and three: (the subgroup of one is in white) 3 . This tells us how important this three-ringed knot is. the Borromean quality becomes pertinent. in any manner." He added that the Borromean knot played a central organizing role in the Milnorian classification of chains. and the third ties them together. it is verified: On the other hand. Subgroups. in fact. Beginning at three. only two rings. It suffices. all three. The more specifically mathematical concern of his course of 1980 was "to demonstrate the exemplarity of the three looped Borromean in the classification of chains.The three rounds of thread each plays the same role vis-à-vis the other two: two loops are posed one over the other. or two and two. it should be recalled. This is what logicians call the trivial: however one approaches it. in a Borromean manner. whether one and three. subgroups always appear. If we knot together. in a Borromean chain with four rings. the Borromean quality is in every way verifiable. to cut any one of them for the whole thing to be undone.

has the interest of showing the functional equivalence of the rounds to one another: it writes the homogeneity of three consistencies: 4 . two and two: There are many ways to present a Borromean knot: This presentation. classic in the realm of analytic discourse.Subgroups.

this above-beneath is the letter of the imaginary dimension. called this because it evokes the presentation of the moon and the stars by the armillary spheres of the middle ages. . For chains and knots. creates a distinction between the knot and the and the schemas that designate sets having intersections and unions: We often forget the above-beneath is not a point of intersection between two lines as in the Venn-Euler diagrams. But that introduces us into a more complex reflection. 5 . . close itself at infinity . by convention. which we will attempt to clarify (mettre á plat). Whence the many images of the Borromean knot that Lacan finds in iconographies throughout time: Lacan makes a particular use of this possibility. on the other hand.The armillary presentation. since he makes of it the writing of existence. We must add that in the domain of the topology of chains and knots a round can always be represented by an infinite line: a circle can.

the drawing evincing courtly love does not include the term "phallic jouissance": Courtly love is a vision of the world organized around the structural refusal of the sexual realization of love. Just as with a writing. this knot nonetheless acquires a necessity therein that must be commented on. comes to write the relations exchanged between the three registers of the real. or the three-ringed Borromean chain. there is nothing delimited or even measurable about these spaces. especially in the spaces delimited by the lines of the drawing. this drawing makes consist. Lacan presented this drawing beginning with his Séminaire of September 17. Though Lacan speaks of chance in evoking the coming into play of the Borromean knot in his reflections." This drawing is neither a graphic representation. but a topological writing. It is at first approach astonishing. and exist. The Borromean knot.The analytic use that Lacan makes of the Borromean chain is more explicit in the Seminar RSI. The absence of phallic jouissance in this form of the Borromean knot results 6 . and retains all of the piquancy (sel) of this astonishment. and the imaginary. Indeed. Pierre Soury takes on the question of the legitimacy of such a writing with the help of the following designs: The absence of certain terms is revealed to be symptomatic of a given organization. They write its "common measure. In his course. nor a schema. if only because a drawing supports it. nor a surface. at issue is neither an intersection. and the imaginary is taken up again by Lacan throughout this seminar and related to the Borromean knot. For example. The trilogy of the real. They can vary to infinity without transforming the structure of their relation. the symbolic. what is at issue in analytic practice. the symbolic.

if we dare this definition. Le Seuil. The Borromean knot brings in this necessity." or again: "The three rounds came to me like a ring to a finger". of voids. and the imaginary have the same function: they can be counted as three. To pose the question. is it a question of illustrating what in structure usually remains invisible despite its organizing role? Lacan allows us to glimpse the direction (sens) of his development." He writes: "I have found only one way to give a common measure to the terms Real. in its continuous transformations. it creates them. "I have always known that the knot incited me to announce of the symbolic." He adds later: "I have been captured by the Borromean knot. and create the words appropriate for speaking of the relations entertained between the symbolic. name. The effort of this seminar RSI is to say. which is to knot them together in a Borromean knot. Symbolic. does not take into account the creative aspect of Lacan's development. some relations that are not written elsewhere. the real. Beyond the surprise that such comments can give rise to. #2 to 5. rather than four or only two. to formalize. and Imaginary." The imaginary. Lacan says that other dimensions can be invented. Until then. or stop at the imprecision of what the words write in the schema recalled above. although he councils us to "use it stupidly. still remains mysterious. in fact. of the little letters. Indeed. The drawing is suggestive enough." It is only a question of finding out how to count them. the imaginary. and the real something that homogenized them. Lacan calls on us to re-situate the terms of Freudian research as points of illumination that should help us conceptualize this writing. for having marked the places of absence. from the moment that the count begins at three. the real. The written words then find. This commentary takes all of its citations from these four issues. published in Ornicar. 7 .in the complete masking of the "object (a). At issue is a way of clarifying the clinic in its infinite variety. which is in a median position. we should keep in mind that Lacan demands of the Borromean knot to explain. a poetics. the symbolic. 1974-75. this does not prevent the Borromean knot from always bearing the mark of the three. and the imaginary. The knot does not illustrate the relations between the terms.1 The question of how to qualify the simultaneous writing. write. In their knotting. by their placement between the abovebeneaths of the Borromean knot. there is no necessity of naming only three registers. In this attempt. 1 Seminar RSI. is the operator of the knotting: courtly love is literary figure." Let us return first to the homogenization between the three registers created by the Borromean knot. in the interstices of the Borromean knot. a new structural dimension: "one triplicity is doubled by another triplicity.

Thus. I must say." He gives as three "ones" the real. their knotting. which Lacan indicates to be equivalent to the imaginary. A certain material is necessary. and to be three. Lacan seeks proofs for the existence of the Borromean chain as a foundation of thought and above all of sense. the image of a little other with which the child identifies in a "precipitation" signaling its entry into the 8 . the electron microscope. In Lacan's teaching. Consistency. It is a matter of pinpointing the relations entertained between the real. which nonetheless are only to be understood in their relations. which are defined respectively by existence." How does Lacan define the relations between the three rounds? Let us try to summarize the diverse definitions given in the Seminar. Henceforth existence and image are terms echoing what is different in the three registers. inasmuch as it is pegged to the body. The three terms R. S. If we add the fatigue involved in this statement. and for Lacan the material is imaginary.He gives to each round. and consistency. the symbolic. but. make three. A marginal note may be necessary to complete the circuit elided in the seminar. and that even loses its words and its sense. we are still not relieved of the duty to account for it. the symbolic. we are given this impression of "futility" or "debility": "It is the type of problem I encounter at every step. it is indeed because I make use of the separation (écart) of sense permitted between RSI as individualizing these rounds. The separation is there. But what is the maximum separation allowed from sense?" These formulations give us the impression of a thought that chases its own tail. without at the same time making intervene what is in question in this research. the hole. the mental itself. We cannot evoke this problem. With the Borromean knot is posed the question of the creation of sense and of its relations with the unconscious and the symptom. but the measure itself of the effects I say cannot fail to modulate my statement (dire). and the imaginary. the imaginary refers to the problematic of the image in the mirror." This is why it is appropriate to begin by taking up the term consistency. that does not situate its object. supposed taken at a certain maximum. make sense with these words in speaking of sense and of its birth. As he says throughout his seminar. and the imaginary. to the extent that it exists. "for the triad of the real. by the adjunction of the imaginary to two others. Beginning in his written introduction added to his oral course. It is a question of showing that three is the necessary figure for posing an existence that does not make an image . the unity. and the imaginary only exists by the addition of the imaginary as third. itself modifies the field of the experience. The examiner only sees the instrument of measurement in these experiences. and I hold together. Lacan amply developed the structuring function for the subject of the appearance of its image in the mirror. the words are contaminated by the reflection made on them. . it is not the touching up that is 'futile' here. is necessary for the knot to be. the symbolic. since a knot only begins at three. without looking for it. on the contrary. except for infinitesimal variations revealing the existence of the object of study beyond the instrument. Lacan speaks in terms defined by words that measure at the same time their definitions and the gap between the words and this definition: "If I state in speech (parole) that the consistency of these three rounds is only supported by the real. the "one" that is the "common measure. We can compare the Lacanian advance on these problems to those problems of nuclear physics where the instrument of measurement. . as I stress.

there must be a peel of the imaginary. Lacan speaks of the cord: "They have a consistency that I am indeed forced to call real. brings into consistency the symbolic hole. has its own consistency. although a presence is necessary to the two others as a point of support.symbolic. to designate it by its name. Le Seuil 1973. In this way the knotted three is made to consist: "consistency. because thought. We will come back to this. In this image. Lacan. In this perspective. Ex-sist means. in L'Etourdit. and a third knots them: there is always for two of the three rounds a third that realizes the knotting (in white in the following drawings): Lacan defines this third as existing functionally to the two others. The universal only poses itself from a point that it excludes: "there is no universal that must not be contained by an existence that denies it. This existence is what corresponds to the real. without relation. free from each other. what Freud calls the "dead father" is an imaginarization of the symbolic. it is the knot inasmuch as one weaves it together. and which is that of the cord. of knotting." 2 L'Etourdit. in Scilicet 4. 9 . the consistency. the child recognizes the object of the desire of his mother. In a Borromean chain. is of the imaginary order. the material of the three rounds must necessarily enter or exit a hole. equivalent to the lack presented by the gaze of the mother. by their knotting itself. situating itself elsewhere. and clothes himself with it. the recourse to the imaginary is just as necessary." Existence defines another aspect of the relation between the three rounds. is only revealed." Each of these three rounds. At the moment of knotting. He identifies with it. In this case." we must say "imaginary to the second power" to evoke the consistency of the imaginary: "consistency for the speakingbeing (parlêtre) is what is fabricated and invented. of limit. two rounds are posed one over another.2 shows the necessity of a point of exclusion for sense." To say the symbolic. To think the real. by way of the articulation of three registers. is only said. I mean by its correspondence. At issue is a knotting of three registers. Lacan then refers to what is implied by the organizing term. sense. more precisely. but it is precisely not inasmuch as one has woven it together it that it exists. Just as Lacan says "real to the second power. and by this means.

he does pinpoint what is conceivable: "Existence is only defined in effacing all sense. One of the functions of the Borromean knot is to show how what is excluded is necessary. there is the necessity of a hole in its consistency to permit the knotting. an open line that he defines as follows: "I propose to symbolize by an intermediary field what exists to the real of the hole." As for the notion of the hole. The torus is a surface without a hole. The central hole of the torus is imagined starting with the knotting of another torus in this hole: the image of linked torii: This image supports the metaphor of the hole. For each round." At the beginning of this Seminar. he shows that the function of a round is necessary to the knotting of the two others: Lacan draws. but this hole is differentiated precisely from the third that enters and exits it as the "operator of knotting. "One of the consistencies is not knotted to the other. Later. or how the tie is made by a third. "The existent is what turns around the consistent and makes an interval. does make a chain with it. The torus is a holed sphere." In the schema in the first seminar of 1974. It brings a consistency supporting the contradiction of the not having: the hole has a consistency that is not imaginable. 10 ." Lacan makes the term existence correspond to the register of the real. its equivalence varies in the course of the seminar: it is at first real. Lacan situates existence in each consistency. Lacan explains that the Borromean knot allows us to distinguish the hole from existence: existence is made of this infinite line that knots two other rounds. beginning with the two that are not knotted. The edge of the hole is imposed as the representation of the hole itself. without a rupture. around a central hole. what is outside of what makes sense. "It suffices to imagine the circle as a consistent cord to see that the within and the without are exactly the same thing. There is only a single within.We are again at the heart of the problem of sense. he says: "We are lead to pose that the hole is of the symbolic order." At this moment. this intermediary field is given by the opening of the round as an infinite line isolated from its consistency. in fact." whence the existence of a third and the non-reciprocity of the passage of one of these consistencies into the hole offered to it by the other. the real is what is not symbolized. it is what we imagine as the inside of the torus." But to think this hole there has to be a peel of the imaginary. parallel to each round. which I have founded on the siginifier. the distinction is not made and Lacan situates the hole on the side of the real: "Whence the correspondence with the hole that I try at first with a real that will later find itself conditioned by existence. he seeks the definition of what is not consistency in the rounds and that allows for their knotting. or at least the elements of an image that allow us to elaborate it: the topology of the torus then imposes itself. By definition. but the introduction of the figure of the torus consists precisely in our not taking count of it". a transformation that encounters the obstacle of another cord supposed to consist. However. In their drawings themselves. then symbolic.

. thanks to the reading permitted by the Borromean knot. reading there the trace of an original repression." Lacan adds. by a psychoanalyst in his armchair." Well before its last topological developments. is the symbolic at the second power. existence. Freudian concepts can now be taken up again at the interior of this writing. primary repression. essential . 11 . suspended. "although this accent plugs it up. derived from analytic experience. to extend the metaphor. which is necessary for the knotting of the real and the imaginary. there is a a structural. of which we will never know anything. as existent . For instance. "Why not see in the aversion that it manifests the trace of primary repression itself?" This is a way to fold the unconscious over the symbolic.As for the hole itself. and the real as what exists to the symbolic. "The phallus" is its support.'" There is nothing astonishing about all sense being able to be definitively lead back to phallic signification. as imaginary. Lacan spoke of the object (a) as the stopper in a hoop net . as the unfolding in the metonymic duration of a discourse. as real. difficulty to topology. constitute what makes a hole in the real: "the inner-tube torus” (tore-boyau). the imaginary. inasmuch as they are interchangeable. at variable points of which the place can nonetheless always be marked (est pourtant toujours repérable). In conclusion. and the hole as equivalent to the symbolic form three terms that we must only use in remembering all of the seminar RSI. of making the unconscious "what exists to the symbolic. and. to the knotting of the symbolic and the imaginary. Nonetheless. the symbolic hole in the symbolic. . The Borromean knot offers us a support that is neither a model. . From the start. the "phallus" is necessary as "existent. and illuminating reading. paradoxical. Likewise. "no one knows that it is a hole. This is how the relations or non-relations between these three rounds of the Borromean knot are summed up. in relation to what can be heard. Lacan even speaks of an aversion to it. Consistency. of how the truth is wedged." We can then differentiate what constitutes the hole. nor an illustration. They find a place in this writing that transforms the enumeration of their definitions into a structural positioning. And all of the orifices in the body. Death refers to the hole in the imaginary. analytic thought puts the accent on the hole. we should hold on to the idea that the Borromean writing of Freudian notions allows for a simultaneous. This original repression. testified to by 'sense. . Topology is the only way to approach this question of the hole and leads to some notions that are not simple. the unconscious can now be situated in relation to the symbolic. more precisely. "Phallus" and "Unconscious" are Freudian notions.