# 2


Houston Open Sky #2

     We express our gratitude to NEL Miami for supporting us at the Houston Freudian Field Library with cartel’s work, also to Mr. Edgar Marín and Mr. Luis F Nino for the English translation and revision of works and to all those who one way or the other made contributions to this publication.

As a welcoming invitation to people with traveling spirits in ancient times, European farmers used to hang on their doors a “swag”, with elegant simplicity, made of everlasting flower, pines, pine nuts, and other natural limbs, many times embellished with a ribbon to tie every one of the limbs that formed it. This was done for walkers to come in and take shelter from the harshness of the cold winter wind.

The same way, the “Houston Freudian Field Library FIBOL-NEL”, as a welcoming signal, hangs the virtual publication “Houston Open Sky” on the web; this bulletin number two is the product of elaborations in a Lacanian Cartel titled “Semblant” which concluded this year at the beginning of the Summer. This publication invites, as an ancient swag, to continue with cartel activities as a way to knot ourselves, the good way, to this shelter which is the function of a Lacanian School such as it was conceived by Jacques Lacan. In English, the word “Swag” also means the back pack a walker in extreme lack carries with his scarce belongings; an image in Norman Rockwell’s 1927 and 1958 works “Still Good” and “The Runaway” illustrates this with very good humor.

We do Lacanian School in as much as we understand the metaphor of the School as a shelter where we can work one by one. We can join the activity at the device known as Cartel, Lacanian of course, where each one of us finds a way to participate.

What is the activity we do in a Cartel? It is to research, to study and above all to elaborate a product. The cartelizand, placed in a lacking position, elaborates and expresses, little by little, the written production to the Cartel colleagues and finally expounds it to the open sky.

In this edition of the Houston Open Sky we present the works product of the Cartel on Semblant that met in Houston during 2009-2010 with an introduction by the “Plus One” Mercedes Negrón-Pérez.

It is essential to point out how important it is to continue working on cartels, which are well known to be the device that propitiates School activity, one that really works.

Quoting Jacques Lacan: “Cartel works, let’s just not put obstacles…”

Next, I invite you to read the interesting works product of this Cartel:

  • Marianela Bermúdez-Cuns:    “Religion and Semblant”
  • Edgar V. Marín:                         “Semblant, Partenaire and Masculine position”
  • Carmen Navarro-Nino:             “Being-Semblant”
  • Luis F. Nino:                               “Semblant, Formation and Knowledge”

Carmen Navarro-Nino  (Editor, Houston Open Sky).



Mercedes Negrón-Pérez (Plus One. Cartel, Semblant).

The presentation of the Cartel about Semblant, registered in NEL Florida, was made in the city of Houston the 5th of July 2010. A Cartel is a space for work transference on psychoanalysis with people decided to work on it. This is an introduction by the “Plus One” to the works of the four cartelizands. The “Plus One” is chosen by the four cartelizands and its role is fundamental in supporting their works when facing difficulties. The “Plus One” is a provoking agent to the theoretical work and written production of each cartel member.

A Cartel on Semblant made inevitable the question about what “Semblant” is in the Lacanian psychoanalytic context. Through this cartel’s production some questions were answered and some other arose as part of a typical rest of work in a Lacanian school.

Semblant is a response to treat with a Real; it comes to the place where there is no structure. Thus, before castration, the subject responds with the S1 signifier, and this will allow it to articulate to other signifiers to humanize it. Lack at being is what permits Semblant as “seeming to be” which in turn dominates being, e.g., with questions like, what does the “other” want me in?

The members of this Cartel agreed upon what difficulties there are to make semblant from any discourse. Religion occupies a place to give answers and mandates to a subject regarding what is good or bad, it could be said, Semblant of “good-saying” and of “bad-saying”. With regard to education, teachers cannot always make a teacher’s Semblant, but they should rather serve as agents to produce desire to know in students.

My particular research on this cartel was about “Partenaire as Semblant”. Each couple agrees on a particular way of “joyssance” as a result of an unconscious negotiation. In this joyssance deal, couples (in its symbolic version) are equivalent to the symptom function, with a formal wrapping that inserts it in the social and cultural order, from which it takes semblants sustained by word. Semblants come to occupy the place of completeness impossibility through couples, in other words just as J. Lacan stated: the “non sexual relation”.

Couples could be considered a symptom made of the proper lack of the “sexual relation”. Difficulty to make semblant in couples lies in that this deficiency appoints the particular way of joyssance in subjects, in relation to joyssance of the Other, Other who the neurotic brings to existence. Also, it is how there are forms to make semblant in couples depending upon what side they play on, whether the feminine or masculine side. On the masculine side, it is assumed to have the phallic object, so you have to be prudent not to take the risk of losing it. On the feminine side, the lack of it is masked, so there is nothing to lose, what allows some audacity and freedom where there are no limits. The feminine metaphor is in the act of “being”, instead of “not having” and on the masculine side it is in “having” which prevents “being”.

Finally, these questions arise: What happens at the end of analysis? How is the subject under analysis going to make an analyst’s Semblant? Answers must be looked for from the analyst’s being of desire that sustains the analytic act.

We express our gratitude to the Cartel members for their decided and sustained work and, especially to Edgar Marin for the English translation of the written works. We also thank the “Lone Star College” for allowing us to use their academic facilities for our meetings.

Next, we present the written production of each Cartel’s member.


Marianela Bermúdez-Cuns

It was approximately a year ago when the Cartelizands met and committed to work. Semblant from the perspective of lacanian analysis was the selected subject. My particular interest was oriented towards reflections over Religion and Semblant.

Difficulties encountered: From the very beginning I experienced some sort of inhibition or blockage to think about both themes. Particularly about religion, which so much as it resulted very attractive and interesting, it wasn’t so easy to analyze from the psychoanalysis view. Recently I had the opportunity to share this restlessness with other cartelizands and could understand part of it. And, it is the fact that talking about religion is talking about a great Other, one that goes accompanied by signifiers related to sacred and spiritual world.

Altogether with this, the concept of Semblant has been one hard to grasp for me.  I think now that it has to do also with my own analysis process.

First, what do we understand by Religion? We will use the definition given by the “Real Academia Española de la Lengua”: “Set of beliefs or dogmas regarding divinity, of feelings of veneration and fear towards it, of moral norms for subjects and social conduct and of ritualistic practices, mainly praying and sacrifice to worship.”

Religions do not respond to a uniform concept, for that reason it results useful to present a categorization of common elements to religions developed by the English author Ninian Smart, in his book “The Religious Experience of Mankind” (Cited in Philip Wilkinson (2008) New York, DK Publishing). Ninian points out to seven elements:

Doctrine, Mythology, Religious Experience, Religious Institution, the Ethics contents, the Rituals, the Objects and the Sacred places.

Religion is an ancient phenomenon in human history. In most known civilizations, religious elements have been present. Most early religions, polytheist in majority, sought by means of their gods an explanation of nature functioning: Why day and night? What causes natural phenomena like rain, seasons, illnesses? Moreover, religious practices and rituals were most times oriented to obtain protection from gods or to reduce their anger. We could say at this instance that religions arise as a form of the first sketches of science, as a search for knowledge about real and reality. This way, at their origins religions appear as linked to a quest for knowledge.

The other element of my cartel subject is Semblant. This concept, proposed by Jacques Lacan, holds a different meaning to the one we use colloquially in language. From Lacan’s 18th Seminar “Over a discourse that weren’t from Semblant” he asserts: “the effect of truth isn’t Semblant . . . truth is correlative to Semblant . . . Semblant is contrary to the artifact . . . Semblant is abundant in nature, example: a flash of lightning”.  Jacques-Alain Miller speaks of three Semblants: The father, the phallus and the object “a” . . . Semblant reduces to a border, a border of Semblant that situates the nucleus of Joyssance.

From J. Lacan, What reading can we do of religion from the angle of the analytical discourse?

Religion and Discourses

Some religions fit within what Lacan called the Master’s Discourse. Thus, religions in part seek to hide the subject’s division. In Judeo-Christian and in Muslim religions, religious doctrine set forth a submission of the faithful to God (See the meaning of ISLAM: “Submission to God”). As a part of his faith the believer accepts to occupy the position of slave in the religious discourse. Prove of this are the rituals: prayers, communion, fasting, and confession.

The subject, before the experience of emptiness, seeks in religion a discourse that soothes and calms down this emptiness.  A distress that arises as a result of living the unknown, death and lack at being. In religion the subject finds answers to his questions about the origin of the world, about what is after death and about the explanation of suffering. Religious mythology gives a narcissist and imaginary answer to questions about origin: humans would be made at God’s image and resemblance, and regardless of sins they may aspire to a state of perfection once freed from them (Heaven, Nirvana).

Some religions seek to regulate joyssance in subjects, through ethical precepts. It is common to find, in sacred books or in oral traditions, references to standard prohibitions and expected conduct models. Prohibitions like: “not to kill, no to steal, not to commit adultery and not to swear in vane” are repeated in diverse religious doctrines.

However, these ethical and moral elements possess a double reading. On one hand, prohibition (of sexuality and aggression) that allows to organize culture and human societies in a different way from animal groups. But on the other hand, severity of this prohibition could entail generation of joyssance and strengthening of desire and pulsion. Various religions share the requirement of abstinence among their faithful and members of the congregation, abstinence of accomplishment of desire in action or even abstinence at the thought level.

Now, returning to the theme of Semblant, by means of analysis of discourse. How are the elements of the master’s discourse present in religion?

Religions, with their doctrines and institutions, represent the Agent of Discourse: How does this agent present himself? Is it with a fierce and implacable Semblant? (Think of the Catholic Inquisition). Moreover, we can refer to some religious discourses, where the Semblant of the agents results less severe in what concerns the image of its guides. Religions like Buddhism and Confucianism don’t possess in their doctrine an image of an almighty God. They talk about “Masters” as guides in the way to self knowledge.

An interesting aspect of religion is in its relation with good-saying. Majority of religions include some section regarding the importance of not bad-saying (speak ill of, curse) while using language. This has relation with Semblant and the subject’s position towards prudence and good-saying.

Other questions: What happens to the faithful? What is the Semblant of the religion the believer loves? How does he present himself before the religion’s agent demand and discourse? As a slave, or as a subject who can identify his desire? And what is his position with respect to his religious life?

From the side of psychoanalysis, our interest is in knowing what subjective position the subject places himself about religion when he comes to analysis.

Is religion a symptom? And we think of the delirious psychotic with his mystical-religious thematic.

Or, are we talking about the obsessive structure, with its obsessions and compulsions associated with the aggression and sexuality thematic on the one hand, or guilt and punishment on the other?

Or, are we before a hysterical structure, who tells us about her mystical experiences, whether it is through visualizations or divine calls?

There it is the analyst work, to listen every subject’s singularity.

After the end of analysis, what is the position of the analyst before religion? It is well known that psychoanalysts like Freud defined themselves as atheists. As a closing statement, I include the famous comment of the Spanish film maker Luis Buñuel in his memories: “Thank god, I am still an atheist”.


– Bassols, Miquel. Algunas Observaciones acerca del Semblante.

– Freud, Sigmund. Obras Completas. Moisés y la Religión Monoteísta. Madrid, Biblioteca Nueva 1981.

– Lacan, Jacques. (2) Seminario 18: De un Discurso que no fuera del Semblante. Paidos, Buenos Aires, 2009 .

– McDowell, M. and Brown, N. World Religions at your Fingertips. New York, Alpha Books, 2009.

– Miller, Jacques-Alain. Curso de 1991-92, De la naturaleza de los semblantes, Paidós, Buenos Aires, 2002.

– Wilkinson, Philip. Illustrated Dictionary of Religion. New York, DK Publishers, 2006.


Edgar V. Marín

The substance and the form. The thing does not suffice; form is also required. Bad form spoils everything, even justice and reason. Good form supplies everything, gilding the no, sweetening the truth and perfuming decay itself. The how has much to do with things, and manners are thieves of the heart. Carrying yourself well dresses up life and pledges a happy ending to everything.
Baltasar Gracián

During the last three years at least, we, the members of the Houston Freudian Field Library, have been reading various texts on the field of psychoanalysis, especially those produced by Jacques Lacan. Mid 2009 we were interested on the theme of Semblant, in harmony with the congress that would be celebrated in Paris in May 2010 over the same topic. This interest made us decide to realize a Cartel with Semblant as its central motive; thus, we could deepen our understanding of it. We have also read about what the couple relationships concerns to psychoanalysis, which is highly interesting to us all, for that reason I chose “Semblant, Partenaire and masculine position” as my cartel’s subject.


What is Semblant[1], is it the face? This was my first questioning.

“You have a good semblant”, we hear people say when someone looks healthy or cheerful. If this is it, it’s then quite simple, why to occupy ourselves talking about it?

Well, after having read, researched and elaborated over this Lacanian concept of Semblant at this cartel we finish today, I can remember that during a long time I could just say “I don’t understand”, it became so hard for me to understand that it wasn’t something other than the face, to associate it to something different. At some point it came the moment when I understood. Not only did I understand but I felt a subtle illumination that made me jubilant, so much that for the first time I could believe, after three years under analysis, my end of analysis is possible and near, that I can make changes in my subjective position, in how I present myself before others, in my “Semblant”. This illumination is like encountering my own essence, it’s like being without having to think, present myself such as I am, such as it is convenient to me. At the moment I didn’t find the words to describe it, the idea just vanished the same subtle way as it had elucidated to me.

It was just today when I sat to write this summary that I could describe it. For the time being, I know that I will be able to reach this state again. It is apparent that difficulties in making a good semblant have to do with some real condition that makes obstacles to it; maybe it is the unconscious which impedes the “good Semblant”. Then, analytically it would be said “You have a good Semblant, your unconscious is at its minimum”.

A solution to obstacles resulted in a very particular and unedited elaboration of this important concept within the Lacanian Psychoanalysis. The good semblant is that in which we act at ease, in accordance with the most convenience and we do it consciously; not necessarily the same as “to hold semblance” in which we, perhaps, act pretending conditions of being that are not comfortable or convenient to us. How I position myself that is my Semblant.

Partenaire [2] and Masculine Position

As a result of the cartel work on Semblant, Partenaire and Masculine position, it has been possible for me to write a text in the form of a poem, which helps me make an approximation to answer the initial question posed by my cartel’s subject.

A Masculine PositionI own it!I feel strong!I give it to you, then you’ll be it,So I don’t lose it,The one mine you are.Love me for who I am,Not for what I give you…For, by so doing, you must know,

You will be mine!

Will represent me!

Will give up your soul to me!

Could a man in masculine position be couple to a woman in the same position?

Perhaps, but I think it would be very difficult for it to work out well. As we know, competition makes cooperation and mutual support difficult and, this must diminish affection which is one of the attraction forces between subjects that make up couples. For my Electrical Engineering background, I would express it like with the magnetic fields that when of the same sign repel each other, of different sign attract each other. Now, we are talking about  gender and position, we have learned that there are men placed in a feminine position and women in a masculine position; apparently, it is each one’s Semblant that makes possible, moreover feasible, the couples’ relationship. Would this work well for a man in feminine position with a woman in a masculine one?

I ask myself, Can we assure that just the combination of different positions in a relationship guarantee its good functioning? Apparently not; there are other elements in the subject’s behavior that also weigh on this, which have not been considered in this work like de modes of Joyssance in each subject. It would be interesting to research more deeply into these elements.

Could we assure that “Semblant” is a state of consciousness, in which we act freely the most convenient way”? (As I mentioned before) If this is it, does a “consciousness”, “freedom” state exist? I think there is a high degree of relativity in all this; however, as we have learned from Lacan, the “Not all” is an important part of us human condition. So, within its relativity, the expression “The Semblant is a state of consciousness in which we act…..” continues to be valid.

I have included, as an introduction to this work, the 14th aphorism of the interesting book “Oráculo Manual, El Arte de la Prudencia” written by Baltasar Gracián in the 17th century, I think this text approaches a good description of the act of making Semblant.


[1] -The author uses here the French word Semblant instead of the English Semblance, though it’s the closest translation doesn’t quite represent the concept this work treats on.

[2] -Partenaire is also a French word used in this work instead of the English partner because it is a word mostly recognized in the Psychoanalytical community.


– Brousse, Marie-Helene, Conference in Berkeley, California. February 2008. (Unedited)

– Etinger, Diana. El Rechazo a la impostura Fálica. Artículo. (Unedited)

– Gracián, Baltasar. Oráculo Manual y Arte de La Prudencia. Linkgua Ediciones S.L, 2007.

– Lacan, Jacques. El Seminario No. 18. De un discurso que no fuera del semblante. 1ra Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires 2009.

– Miller, Jacques-Alain Curso de 1991-92, De la naturaleza de los semblantes, Paidós, Buenos Aires 2002

– Miller, Jacques A. Seminarios: Piezas sueltas y Cosas de finura en psicoanálisis, 2004 y 2008. (Unedited)


Carmen Navarro-Nino

A lacanian Cartel is a mode of social bond regulated by the logics of incompleteness; inside it, effects of discourse over effects of group are propitiated. The individual particular work of each member vectors the  formation of analysts in a lacanian school. Participating in a cartel is a very particular experience.

“Thus, the being of desire reaches the being of knowledge to be reborn in its knotting on a band of unique border where a sole lack is inscribed, the one sustaining the Agalma”.

“Peace does not come immediately to seal this metamorphosis in which the partenaire vanishes for not being anymore more than just a vane knowledge that slips away”. J. Lacan

Approximations to Being and to Semblant

To this open presentation of my elaborations on this research work at the Cartel on Semblant, I have decided to organize it in three logic times:

Instant of seeing

Time to understand

Moment to conclude

 1. – At the instant of seeing

At this first time I can express there was something enigmatic, mysterious to me. Since the moment when the subject of the VII congress of the WAP was known, it appeared to me that the subject wasn’t suitable to propitiate desire of making social bond and I thought of working a cartel on “Semblant and Sinthome”. In Houston it took us a few months to get enthusiastic and get to work. There were initial questions that I couldn’t answer; besides, we didn’t have the 18th book of Jacques Lacan’s Seminar. Reading a text by Baltasar Gracián in which he describes the Saint, it seems to me that it oriented us to commence and advance with new enthusiasm. Once the cartel was constituted and registered in NEL Miami, there was the difficulty of how enigmatic the subject was.

Personally, I had trouble adjusting to the Cartel’s subject I had chosen to work on: Being and Semblant, I digressed around reflecting over the signifier “Being”. This signifier that I analyzed as different from the “Self” (or Ego) and the Semblant, imposed as a priority and as foregoing the question over Semblant. In one of our cartel meetings we agreed to work on such concept of “Semblant”, as in the original Jacques Lacan formulation, which we find mainly in the 18th book of the Seminar “Over a discourse that weren’t of Semblant”, lectured by Lacan in Paris between  January the 13th  and June the 16th  1971,  just 39 years ago.

2. – Time to understand

When the poster of the VII congress was made public, it seemed to me it was presented as a joke inviting to good mood and inspired me to further research on “Being”. I owe Jacques Cazotte’s book “El Diablo Enamorado”[1] (The In Love Devil) rereading an elucidation spark to initiate with enthusiasm researching and elaborating on my cartel’s subject.

In the 11th book of his Seminar, Jacques Lacan makes a reference to a Cazotte’s phrase, in relation to transference, “What does the analyst want from me?”; “Che vuoi?” asks the In love devil, from a window, incarnated in the semblant of “…a horrible camel head, with oversized ears…” which asks: “Che vuoi?”

“Nothing would describe my state”, expresses in his text the young captain of the Naples King Guard, when the “…odious phantom opens its mouth and responds to his call”. What do you intend temerarious creature, showing off yourself with that horrendous form? “You called me”, responds the phantom. The young captain tells him: “does the slave intend to intimidate his master? If you come to receive orders, assume a convenient form and a submissive tone…” the story continues and the horrible phantom takes the shape of a beautiful Biondeta, of a Biondeto and other characters according to the situation.

During observation of the poster I asked myself about the libidinal investitures of “Being”, about the quixotic deed of the “being”, different from the “beautiful soul” position, in which the subject appears to be in the space of a great Other.

I tried to precise the quantum of the Being’s essence, the Being and the mask present on the poster. I decided to ask about the being by rereading various Greek poets and philosophers previous to the first century B.C: Parmenides, Aristotle and Heraclitus and from the 20th century: Martin Heidegger, from which I make the following comments:

Parmenides, for instance, distinguishes “…the path to truth as the only transit way that a philosopher should take”. His most outstanding raisings are: that “Being” is unique, eternal, has no origin (it’s already a being) and endless. Being is non mobile an immutable. He expresses in “Poem to Nature”, “the path to persuasion that accompanies truth and the path to ignorance is that of “Not-being” which is not expressible” [2]. It’s important to emphasize that Parmenides says in his poem he was illuminated by “the goddess before which he was taken by the mares that dragged him with all his desires’ power”.

From Parmenides sayings, it seems we can assure that “Logics of Unity” prevails as a condition of knowledge and the “Logo of ONE” is constituted as an “ontology condition of every idea”.

Regarding the so called “persuasion path that accompanies truth” we can ask, as a result of the Cartel’s work:

Is it possible to understand that Semblant goes in proximity to “persuasion that accompanies truth”?

Heraclitus. As for Heraclitus, his works and expressions set forth that “the beginning of being is in fire”.

It is well known that to Aristotle, the “essence” of the being is “what it is”. To Plato something is what it is because participates of some “eidos”. Aristotle places the reason for something to be what it is in its own essence in as much as “being” as a “form”. The act of being “complete” is the creator, being finite is an act of being created, compounded of essence and existence.

As we know, to Aristotle it was necessary to differentiate essence and appearance. Appearance is contrary to reality, but it is not that simple, metaphysicians argue about reality of appearances and point out that ethics of “being” is the effort of its existence to reach again the essence of a human being.

There are criticisms and denial of “essence” because apparently it is not a palpable reality, not tangible. Some people see the “Being” essence in the flowering of water lilies or any other flower. Once having set some coordinates in regard to “Being”, I jumped to the 20th century and tried to investigate over:

Martin Heidegger [3]. In his text “Being and Time” (Sun and Zeit) (1927), he sets on high profile the concept of “oblivion of the being” and argues that in post-Aristotle history of metaphysics, “Being” was confused with “entity” and taken as a synonymous, as a consequence of this, “Being” was forgotten, it wasn’t studied correctly, it was considered just another entity, it was taken as a “Thing” and precisely, a “Being” is different from a thing. In 1955 Heidegger discovers Provenzas, his second Greece. It is worth remembering that Heidegger intended that his philosophical works helped many people, especially those “Help Needy” [4], those so called mentally insane.

In his Vaucluse Territory seminar, years 1959, 1966, 1968 and 1969 “…Heidegger explained his “Being-There” principle”, which means being open to the world and tried to explain what his postulate meant.

He focused in being understood, “…he drew semicircles that should represent that primary “being open to the world”, he set forth that “open relationship with the world means “withstand” the present without taking refuge in past or future”. Safraski, one of Heidegger’s biographers, reports that in Zollikon’s seminars “individual psychic illnesses and pathology of modern civilization’ were frequently treated upon. Heidegger recognizes in individual misguidance the modernity demented situation. The being of “being there” is the cure.

Heidegger had found a friend in Medard Boss, a psychiatrist, to whom he confided a dream, supposedly unique, which repeated frequently: “He had to take his Bachelor’s degree exam with his same professor again”. Medard Boss reports “this stereotyped dream finish definitely when him (Heidegger, A.N) in his awakened thinking was able to “experience the dimension of being” at the “event’s” light…”

How did Heidegger understand his thought over “Being”?

“Heidegger understood his thought of being as an overcoming of the modern will to power, that has led to catastrophe. This thought is not far from what the philosopher Adorno looked up under the lemma of “No-identity thought”. To Adorno the “no-identity” thought is one that allows things and men to be in their singularity, neither polluting nor regulating them by “making them identical”.

Heidegger linked the time factor to an obstacle. He wrote that curing from time was just necessary, that “being there” does not represent a sequence of “pure now”. Time given by “being there” has holes, within an open temporality mode in each case.

Heidegger recalls over the “time factor”. There are moments in which time always seems to triumph, so much in deterioration as in construction. We say that what is constructed without time cooperation results to be ephemeral. In his latter texts we find Heidegger’s firm opposition to “no Identification”.

3. – Moment to conclude:

At the scansion of a logical time, I propose conclusions as a result of this work, accompanied of a scheme of what we call “make Semblant”.

After this journey, I find “being” still to be enigmatic to me and resists to be defined and it is evident the enigma existent between “being” and “Self”; the presence and the essence of being which as an essence remains resilient to be defined. Semblant is opposed to appearance and this enunciation results more clear now.

Lacan compelled us not to confuse Semblant either with presence or with appearance of the image or the imaginary axis and also, to sustain, to favor the symbolic axis. May be at this place we find the essence of “Being”. Thus, Can we address the being’s essence? To palpate the “being’s essence” a very particular position must be assumed, well established on the symbolic, analyzing the imaginary which as it is natural will always try to catch us.

After questioning over “Being” , once again we find ourselves at the particular dimension of  making semblant on a vector over which “being-there-open-to-the world”  is a position that knots to the Sinthome and the social bond.

We also find ourselves at the position of distinguishing Unconscious and Sinthome, willing to do with the lack at being the most convenient Semblant, the ‘good way”, going from the “out of discourse” to the opposition to Real through Semblant.

In his proposition of  October the 9th 1967, J. Lacan points out that [6]: “Because I reject the “Being” who didn’t know what caused his phantom, the very moment at which he became that supposed knowledge. That I now know what I didn’t know about the Being of desire, what was concerning it, which came to the Being of knowledge and that it vanishes itself”.

What does specifically constitute Semblant? Is it the presence? Or is the Semblant closer to style? From Freud’s assertion: “where It was I (self) must make advent”. It seems that there is something that detains, I (self) who makes advent implies the prevailing Semblant beyond presence. Something that should be constructed with consciousness about the lack at being, presence may absent itself but the Semblant stays in memory. In as much as appearance could not be what it pretends and becomes deceit, style would appear to be more Semblant-according. In a woman the semblant is linked to what is veiled, to the “feminine masquerade”, which is essential to feminine sexuality. We see the reflection of a look to take the appearance of other. Sometimes we can observe in women and men a Semblant on the way to a particular talent. At the position between Semblant and Joissance is the lack at being. We can ask ourselves, why are my desired Semblant and the one I actually offer sometimes out of phase?

There are some open questionings as a result of this cartel’s work. One Eros element that appears to be fundamental when we talk about “making semblant”, which just as J. Lacan indicates, it is Desire. Another element which questions me is the “time factor” that Martin Heidegger explains in his text “Being and Time”, which he points out to be an obstacle to “being-there-open-to-the world”. He formulated enunciations related to how harmful and inconvenient that factor is and also expressed “we have to cure ourselves of time”. Another very important aspect highlighted by Heidegger is “Identification”. Regarding this concept, Heidegger takes a firm position; he says NO to identification and considers it harmful.

Luca Giordano (1682), an artist of the 18th century, reflected in his work “Allegory to Prudence” one scene where he places the “Triumph of Time” besides Prudence. The triumph of logical time in the analytical journey which we know is different for everyone, taking distance between I (self) and Identification. After the ending we find the desire to know in the analysand, the signifier of gratitude and the emptiness of creation, pure desire and Semblants.


[1] -Cazotte, Jacques. El Diablo enamorado. Ediciones Península. Barcelona 1998.

[2] -Heráclito, Parménides, Empédocles. Editorial Fontana. España 1995.

[3] -Heidegger, Martin. 1927 El Ser y el Tiempo. Fondo de Cultura Económica Sept. 1998 Bogotá, Colombia. Traducción José Gaos.

[4] – Safranski, Rudiguer. Un maestro de Alemania. Editorial Tusquets. 1ª Edición 1997. Barcelona. Pago 465.

[5] – Op cit. pág. 474

[6] – Lacan, Jacques. Momentos cruciales de la experiencia analítica. Edit. Manantial, Argentina. 1991. P.18- 19.

– Lacan, Jacques. El Seminario No. 18. De un discurso que no fuera del semblante. 1ra Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires, 2009.

– Miller, Jacques-Alain. Curso de 1991-92, De la naturaleza de los Semblantes. Paidós, Buenos Aires 2002.


Luis F. Nino

My cartel subject included at least three variables which combination influence subjects’ advance since early childhood.

My first setback or Real was to ask myself, what is a Semblant?

With regard to “Semblant”, in his introduction to the course “About the nature of Semblants” [1], Jacques-Alain Miller makes a journey through the meaning of the word Semblant in the French language, very similar to the Spanish “Semblante” (and face or countenance in English, translator’s note) , which defines face nowadays, although there is another sense that means appearance, similarity, which was very commonly used from the 13th  to 15th centuries applied to things due to its use, that signifier has shifted to designate the face or the appearance of the speaking person.

When we refer to formation, many times it is confused with education; however, those are two different terms, in psychoanalysis we speak about formation, whether it is of the analyst, of the unconscious, etc; leaving the term education in a closer relation to pedagogy, learning and acquisition of knowledge.

Formation implies recognition of ignorance and the decisive work to reduce it. Here we face the desire to know as the unknown to figure out.

Some questions arise:

How to approximate to the Lacanian concept of Semblant to help us during the learning process by the learner or person supposed to learn?

What benefits the knowledge transference process, and what becomes a Real that impedes or blocks acquisition of knowledge?

Namely, it comes to every student in particular and the institution demands equality in treatment.

What do we find here? Attention must be for all; however, treatment should be particular.

We find, how language makes a distinction in the learning process when we say “estudiante”, student, “etudiant” and “learner”, the difference between the one studying ant the learner who is, in this case, the same individual.

It seems that the professor function always looms over a Semblant.

As we know, there is always a Semblant, transference is always present in an educational institution, and the professor must direct it to knowledge, instead of,  to his or her own person.

Freud recognized the difficulties of psychoanalysis to create pedagogy. In 1908 Sandor Ferenczy, who initially was a Freud’s disciple, gave a conference about “Psychoanalysis and Pedagogy”. One year later pastor Oscar Pfister presents Freud a project on pedagogy that incorporates psychoanalysis concepts; in 1925 Freud writes a letter in which he acknowledges Pfister as the inaugurator of the application of psychoanalysis to pedagogy and mentions his (Freud’s) daughter Anna’s works in that same field. At that moment he considers that the main transforming contribution of psychoanalysis to education is via the analysis of teachers themselves.

Is Education an impossible?

Freud mentioned three impossible: to educate, to govern and to analyze when he says in “Terminable and Interminable analysis” [2]: “Let’s detain for a moment to assure the analyst our sincere sympathy for having to achieve such difficult requirements in the exercise of his(her) activity. And it seemed that “analysis” is the third of those impossible professions in which insufficiency of results can be foreseen beforehand. The other two are well known from before, to educate and to govern”.

But how did Freud reach this conclusion? May be he offers an explanation in his “New Introductory Conferences to Psychoanalysis” [3] when he said: “an educator must find his way between the Escila of “letting do” and the Caribdis of “Frustration” (which could divert in authoritarian excess)”. This quotation referred to navigation between two large crags at the southern Italian sea named Escila and Caribdis. This challenge does not guaranty results, tools help but we have to take into account the nature of children (“Polymorph Perverse”, 1900, S. Freud), the initial events of their lives and their family and affective bonds.

While there are no guaranties in Education, from psychoanalysis we know there are even less without it, understanding it not only as formal Education, but family Education and Education in society which are necessary as well.

Freud acknowledges that a unique procedure of a pedagogue cannot result beneficial to all children[4].

There is a gap between what is taught and what is learned, learning being a totally individual process.

The educational system and its immediate representatives under the professor’s Semblant try, by all means, to get the message to the learning individual, without a success guarantee though.

How to reduce that impossible?

“Education for all” have been tried to achieve, differentiating it in types of intelligence (Visual, Auditive, Kinesthetic, etc.) by the use of different strategies (Reading, Writing, Audiovisuals, Handicrafts), following organized sequences like the 5E or the 7E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) and additionally (Elicit, Extend). To some experienced teachers, it is the same pedagogy according to Bloom’s taxonomy classification with new names and modifications.

From my point of view, by dividing the whole of learners in small units it is easier to guide them in this journey in which due to age factors, preparation is required before being incorporated to the productive system.

What other elements must be taken into consideration?

Here we find several loose ends, among them: the subject in its individuality, its initial history, its position before mother’s desire, his relation with the father, his family bonds, his ability to defend himself at school and his desire to learn. How to spark that desire? How to keep it on once ignited? And if it turns off how to turn it back on?

May be the way to initiate, maintain and hold it, is by creating bonds that keep the subject knotted to the institution, to his teacher and to his desire.

From Freud’s teachings we know that “Identification and bonds to the other” are inseparable. It seems that in most subjects the first Identification is with the father, it is the first social bond. “Ideals” function as a mode of social regulation. We find ourselves before the fall of ideals (Religious, Political, Sport Heroes, etc.) which causes dispersion of the masses and originates violence.

Moreover, there are imaginary identifications without regulating ideals (users of Blackberries, some brand name clothes users, etc.) and this could also generate segregation and violence.

Social bonds fragility and the fall of ideals translate into defying authority or its non acknowledgement, and this carries violence. From there, the importance of the bonds between teachers and students arises. When the desire to learn does not conciliate with the bond that ties the learner, desertion occurs; non insertion, violent or not, happens and there we face the panorama of reinsertion that may include psychological treatment and medication.

It seems that a permissive and tolerant professor’s semblant propitiates the decline of ideals and, of the authority, and does not favor either confidence or the possibility of a dignified social bond between students, the institution and the professor.

Well, what is the professor’s semblant ultimately?

Following Lacan, we know that whoever makes the question has the answer, he just has to find it or construct it. There is no Semblant of professor, there are Semblants of professors. If we assume the dimension of the impossible to educate as a Real, a Semblant would go in the direction of reducing that Real. There is no prescription. If educating is impossible, it is not possible to define parameters, whether it is Semblant of professor or individuality of learners, etc. Let’s remember that between those two large crags, what works with someone does not necessarily work with others, but we need to continue trying.


As a conclusion I see no guaranties as a result of the educational process and ask if education is a truth or, is it an illusion that can be educated? Learning is a particular experience for everyone. The subject has to consent to receive an education.

It would seem that the professor’s position requires a strategy that will allow the student to study and learn.

It is required to “Self-Form” a Semblant.

I don’t find or there is no prescription for a professor’s Semblant.

From the professor’s position we learn from ourselves and from students during the educational process.

It is not convenient to use the term development but advancement for there are persons, institutions and even developed countries with difficulties to advance.

Learning occurs when there are transference conditions. Lacan points out in his “Seminar about transference” that transference has first and last name, it is addressed to someone.

Are we compelled to reinvent the future?


[1] -Jacques-Alain Miller, Curso de 1991-92, De la naturaleza de los semblantes, Paidos, Buenos Aires 2002

[2] -Freud, Sigmund, Análisis terminable e interminable. Tomo XXIII, pág. 249, Amorrortu. 1999.

[3] -Freud, Sigmund. Nuevas conferencias de introducción al psicoanálisis. Conferencia 34, pag. 126-145, Amorrortu. 1999.

[4] -Ibidem.


– Ahumada, Lizbeth. Social ties: Semblant and Symptom. AMP Blog 2009

– Bassols, Miquel. Some observations about the semblant. AMP Papers – Version 2009-2010 –N°2 – June 2009.

– Beltrán, Bosco, Silva. Entre Muros. Instituto Oscar Masotta. Buenos aires. 2010.

– Freud, Sigmund, Analysis terminable and interminable. Book XXIII, Amorrortu. 1999.

– Freud, Sigmund. New introductory conferences to Psychoanalysis. Conference 34, Amorrortu. 1999.

– Goncalves, J. Psychoanalysis and education.  EP Buenos Aires. Argentina.

– Lacan, Jacques. El Seminario No. 18. De un discurso que no fuera del semblante. 1ra Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires 2009.

– Miller, Jacques-Alain Curso de 1991-92, De la naturaleza de los semblantes, Paidós, Buenos Aires 2002.


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