While re-reading the “Note on the Father” for this occasion, my attention was caught by the expression “evaporation of the father” that Lacan uses in this intervention. Why does he use this term to address the phenomenon of the decline of the paternal function that is characteristic of our times? What is more, he says here that its scar – that of evaporation – is segregation.
On the other hand, there is the question that Hélène Bonnaud asks at the beginning of her presentation text in which, paraphrasing Lacan, she posits the question of whether the desire for a child can do without passing through the Name-of-The-Father, or if it has to necessarily go through it. Let us place this question in relation to the phenomenon of the evaporation of the father and segregation.
Evaporation is a slow and gradual physical process of transformation that goes from one state of matter to another. The term “evaporation” accentuates the idea of transformation. If the evaporation of the father leaves a scar, what occurs in this transition is a transformation of the relationship of the imaginary with the symbolic, resulting in segregation as its mark. Ultimately, the phenomenon of segregation positivises the void left by this evaporation, in a way acting as its relief. It could then be said that the decline of the father pushes the parlêtre towards the field of jouissance rather than establishing an arrangement with desire through law.
Faced with this hypothesis, questions arise such as: parents, fathers, having a child – do they share the same logic? Would not the term parenting also be inscribed on the side of consequence? A man who accepts a child as his son, conceived in an occasional sexual encounter, does this imply the existence of a desire for one? When a woman says that “she wanted to have a child,” does that necessarily imply that she wanted to be a mother? Contemporary experience does not confirm it.
Currently, in institutions where treatment is directed to the ailments of early childhood, we can see many cases of very young children that reflect a profound helplessness, even while living in their family homes.
A young man pays the price of assuming paternity in exchange for maintaining the bond with a woman who takes him into her home. He is the parent, although he had never entertained the possibility. This woman is desperate to maintain the relationship and pleads with him to be desired. He, disinterested, now faces the threat of jail for violence following a complaint made by a third party. The Juvenile Department requests intervention from the relevant early care institution while also demanding treatment for the child.
The child is less than two years old. The mother had reached what she considered to be the biological age limit for childbearing. The father has a daughter with another woman. This man is expelled from the house of the current couple, awaiting trial. From the first encounters, the only father mentioned is the woman’s father. The man only talks about his own mother, who protects and shelters him every time he has to leave the house on duty. The boy’s mother attributes her misery and dissatisfaction to her father’s death, when she was nine years old. She accuses her own mother of wanting to steal her son, while at the same time she demands that her mother be the one to take care of the child so that she can do “her own thing,” an expression in reference to the preparation and realisation of sexual/love encounters.
Taking the child into a care programme, the intervention of other educational and care institutions, together with the failure to validate the complaint, had the effect of accentuating these positions, exposing the push to jouir that had led to the encounter between these [now] parents.
There is a son, so the question of desire would fit. However, we see that in this case the operation NDP (Name-of-the-Father) over the DM (Desire of the Mother) has not taken place. The impossibility of the negativisation of jouissance prevents the child from functioning as a condenser of jouissance. As a consequence, in what would have been otherwise the percussion of the body by language, this knotting has failed, and with it the establishment of a bond between the One and the Other.
The scarce consistency of the signifier of the Name-of-The-Father, let’s say, its evaporation, has left the field of jouissance without barriers. For this man, nothing represents a condition of access to becoming a father. For now, he is only trying to suture what we call evaporation by repeating, over and over again, the same operation without succeeding. Suturing is putting two registers in order, just like a scar.
Segregation then, is located in the centre, determining the conditions of jouissance. Let’s remember that the germ of all segregation is in that which is unknown about one’s own jouissance and that when some of that returns from the Other, it is one’s own jouissance that surprises the parlêtre, inducing a radical rejection.
A final note: the child bears the surname (Nom) of the maternal grandfather. She proposes it so that it “does not get lost.” He gave his consent for his surname to be used second. The function of residue that the family has, says Lacan, is linked to the transmission of the Name. Éric Laurent comments: “the child is constituted as a subject in reference to the name of a desire that should not be without a name.”
Translation: Marcel Pereira
Proof: Francisco Gomez
Review: Caroline Heanue
Photography: ©Dominique Sonnet – https://www.dominiquesonnet.be/
 Lacan J., “Note on the Father,” (1968), Psychoanalysis, No 29, Madrid, 2016.
 Bonnaud H., “Name of the Father?” published on 29 January 2021 in PIPOL 10, available at https://www.pipol10.eu/en/2021/01/20/name-of-the-father-helene-bonnaud
 Lacan J., “Note on the Child,” The Lacanian Review, Issue 4, 2018, p. 13.
 Laurent É., “The Modern Family,” Registros, Tomo amarillo, Año 4, p. 26-27.