phallus and clitoris

alec ramsdell a_ramsdell at
Wed Dec 2 07:53:33 PST 1998

I've arrived a bit late here, but I thought I'd supplement Doug's definitional post with this from Lacan's _Ecrits: A Selection_, trans. Alan Sheridan (Norton, 1977), "The signification of the phallus," p. 285:

In Freudian doctrine, the phallus is not a phantasy, if by that we mean an imaginary effect. Nor is it as such an object (part-, internal, good, bad, etc.) in the sense that this term tends to accentuate the reality pertaining in a relation. It is even less the organ, penis or clitoris, that it symbolizes. And it is not without reason that Freud used the reference to the simulacrum that it represented for the Ancients.

For the phallus is a signifier, a signifier whose function, in the intra-subjective economy of the analysis, lifts the veil perhaps from the function it performed in the mysteries. For it is the signifier intended to designate as a whole the effects of the signified, in that the signifier conditions them by its presence as a signifier.

(end quote)


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