Presented at an international symposium, taking place from on 18th to 21stOctober 1966, entitled ‘The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man’, at The Johns Hopkins Center, Baltimore, USA.

Published in The Structuralist Controversy; edited by Richard Macksay and Eugene Donato; The Johns Hopkins University Press; Baltimore and London, 1970. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Macksay or Donato)

Presenter : Lucien Goldman

Description of Lucien Goldman as in 1970

Lucien Goldman:, Directeur d’Études in the VIe Section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études, and a member of the Institut de Sociologie (Brussels), is the author of ‘La Dieu caché’, a crucial book in developing his “structuralisme génétique.” He was visiting professor at Hopkins the first term of 1966-67.

Title: Structure: Human Reality and Methodological Concept & Discussion of both Donato & Goldman’s contributions

Full text, including Jacques Lacan’s intervention (which is also reproduced below), available at /Authors A-Z (Goldman)

Jacques Lacan’s intervention, see below, published by École Lacanienne / pas tout Lacan,available bilingual see


Bilingual p120-122 of Macksey & Donato, Lacan’s intervention into the discussion see p8 of /Lacan (92. Lacan’s 2 interventions and presentation (Of Structure as an Inmixing of an Otherness Prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever) at the October 1966, The Language of Criticism and the Sciences of Man Conference in Baltimore)

All the contributions to this symposium are published in : The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man : the Structuralist Controversy’ : 18th to 21st October 1966 (Baltimore, USA) : Richard Macksey & Eugenio Donato (Eds), The Johns Hopkins Press Baltimore and London,1970. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Donato or Macksey)

Jacques Lacan’s intervention – p120-122, 1970

Jacques Lacan: M. Goldmann has just shown how difficult it will be for me to communicate to you tomorrow what I have, just this morning, with the kind help of my translator, begun to put into a form worthy of this present meeting. M. Goldmann is already well known to you, having taught here for several months. What I may have to contribute will be less familiar. I have tried to prepare something which will represent the first cutting-edge of my thought. Since this project is something I have been working on for fifteen years, you will understand that tomorrow’s expose cannot be exhaustive. However, in order to facilitate my task and to prepare your ear, I should like to say this: A few words concerning the subject. I feel that they are necessary since I interjected the term yesterday and since even M. Derrida here asked me at dinner, “Why do you call this the subject, this unconscious? What does the subject have to do with it?” In any case, it has nothing whatsoever to do with what M. Goldmann has talked about as subject. Of course it is only a question of terminology, and M. Goldmann can use the term subject to mean anything he likes. But what I should like to emphasize is the fact that what characterizes M. Goldmann’s subject (which is very close to the commonplace definition) is the function of unity, of a unifying unity. His subject is the subject of knowledge, the support (false or not) of a whole world of objects. And M. Goldmann carries over this function of unity into fields other than that of knowledge, into the sphere of action for example, when he calls John and James carrying a table a single subject in so far as they are united in this common action.

But what prompts me to speak is the fact that I have had just this experience. I did not myself (although my name is “James” [Jacques]) move a table together with John, but I did not do so only for reasons of personal fatigue and not because I lacked the will to move it myself, as you will see. However what happened was quite different.

I was in a local hotel whose name I won’t mention (known to all of you) and I wanted to have a table, which was against a wall, moved in front of the window, in the interest of working for this meeting. To the right of the window there was a chest of drawers which would have prevented this. I picked up the telephone and asked for some one to help me. There appeared a very dignified, white-haired character who had on his uniform the designation (which still has no very precise meaning for me, although things have since changed) “Bellman”. To this name, which must mean “beautiful man,” I did not pay attention right away. I said to the “Bellman” in my English (imperfect, as you will see tomorrow, but sufficient to communicate a request) that what I wanted was to put this table by the window, and the chest in the place of the table. Those here who belong to the American community will not be surprised at the simple gesture I got in reply. “See here. I’m the Bellman. Whom do you take me for? That’s a job for the Housekeeper.” I said “No matter. All I want is to get the job done. Please be kind enough to notify the housekeeper, so that it won’t be too late.” I must say that in an exceptionally short time for this hotel I got the housekeeper and was then entitled to the service of two blacks (again without waiting too long, since I was able to explain myself on the subject of my wishes). They arrived and, apparently paying very little attention to my request (they even seemed to be listening to something else), they did what I asked. They did it, I would say, almost perfectly, for there remained a few little imperfections in the job, but such definite imperfections that they could not have been unintentional.

Now where is the subject of this little story? At first glance (but you will quickly see why I do not stop at this) the subject is obviously myself, in so far as I was found wanting in the whole situation, for the important point in the story is obviously not the fact that I was the one who gave the order and, finally, got satisfaction, but rather the way in which I failed altogether by not asking, in the first place, for the proper person among the reigning hotel hierarchy, in order to obtain this service without too great a delay. Anyway this gives me an opportunity to point up the difference between subject and subjectivity. I might assuredly be the subject if it were only a question of this lack. I am the subjectivity in as much as, undeniably, I evinced throughout the affair a certain impatience.

On the other hand what seems to me to be the subject is really something which is not intra nor extra nor intersubjective. The subject of this affair seems to me (and don’t take it amiss; I say it without the slightest derogatory intention, but fully aware of the weight of what I will propose): What sort of subject characterizes a style of society in which everyone is theoretically as ready to help you as the question “May I help you?” implies? It’s the question your seat-mate immediately asks you when you take a plane—an American plane, that is, with an American seat-mate. The last time I flew from Paris to New York, looking very tired for personal reasons, my seat-mate, like a mother bird, literally put food into my mouth throughout the trip. He took bits of meat from his own plate and slipped them between my lips! What is the nature of this subject, then, which is based on this first principle, and which, on the other hand, makes it impossible to get service? Such then is my question, and I believe, as regards my story, that it is here, on the level of this gap—which does not fit into intra or inter or extrasubjectivity—that the question of the subject must be posed.


– A few notes on the 1966 Baltimore conference (inside and outside the conference, or better yet, the conference on a Moebius strip) : April 2022 : Richard Klein – p1-3 of /Lacan (92. Lacan’s 2 interventions and presentation (Of Structure as an Inmixing of an Otherness Prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever) at the October 1966, The Language of Criticism and the Sciences of Man Conference in Baltimore)

– Jacques Lacan cuts between the real(ly)-symbolic (RS) & symbolic(ally)-real (SR) (a cartel ending/work-in-progress presentation) : 17th July 2019 (London) : Julia Evans. See this site /5 Other Authors A-Z (Evans or Index of Julia Evans’ texts)