Vol 1 No 1 (2021)

The First Gram of Jouissance: Lacan and Genet

Lorenzo Chiesa
Newcastle University
Published February 10, 2021
  • jouissance,
  • law,
  • transgression,
  • phallus,
  • logic of sexuation


In this article, I aim at showing how Lacan recovers in Genet a fundamental tenet of jouissance, which as a rule needs to remain hidden in the constituted order of a community: jouissance cannot but be sustained by a symbolic function, or better, by its intrinsic profanation. Symbolic functions of power on which civilisation rests do not go together with a neutralisation of supposedly pre-existing sexual urges, but, on the contrary, with an ‘eroticisation’ of the functions themselves. Society is structurally perverse, Lacan concludes. Civilisation is no doubt discontent, but also content with its discontent.
Secondly, I intend to explain the reason why, for Lacan, comedy and, in particular, Le balcon also effectively stage how the unveiling of the obscene side of a constituted order is not sufficient to cause the demise of order as such. In spite of the degradation of symbolic functions, that is, the identification of the most sacred societal roles with sexual perversions, the relation of the subject to the Law continues to be sustained. There is no access to any extra-legal domain. Transgression has no beyond.