Lacanian discourse theory defines a discourse not by the content of, for example, a discipline, but in terms of a formal structure defining a relationship between an agent and an other.  Here I’m following Paul Verhaeghe closely.  It is not what a discourse is about that defines it, but the structure of the relation.  This is part of the importance of Lacan’s use of mathemes.  In his discourses– 24 in all, as I’ve argued elsewhere –Lacan deploys four mathemes:  S1, S2, \$, and a.  It’s all quite abstract, but that’s its advantage.  Just as an “x” in algebra can be any number, we can place any number of things in the place of the matheme.  As a consequence, the abstraction of the matheme allows us to discern common structure behind a variety of things that initially seem quite different.  Thus, for example, S1 or the master-signifier could be any…

View original post 1,638 more words