The Rock of Reality, The Paper of Truth, The Scissors of Semblances — Işık Barış Fidaner

Let’s interpret Lacan’s schema (Encore page 90) by comparing its three terms to rock, paper, and scissors:


Reality has the effect of a hard rock, truth looks like a blank sheet of paper, and semblances function like symbolic scissors, they cut through nonsense like the signifier pair Gentlemen/Ladies in Lacan’s example [1]. The rules from the game rock/paper/scissors also apply here:

R1) The rock of reality can break the scissors of semblances.

R2) The paper of truth can wrap the rock of reality.

R3) The scissors of semblances can cut through the paper of truth.

Among them, R3 is the one that happens most commonly and defines the actuality of our life. We live and breathe in semblances which cut through the paper of truth, in other words, our object-causes of desire cover the lack in the Other, S(Ⱥ). This creates a fetishistic relation to objects and thereby immerses the subject in the actuality of his/her fantasy, $ ◊ a.

But as we are immersed in semblances, the virtual threat of R1 always looms large over our actual life. At any moment, the rock of reality (or rather the Real) Φ can break the semblances that support our immersion in the fantasy of our actuality. This virtual threat is the material support of masculine imposture, the Master-Signifier and the primal father. This threat introduces a need to defend one’s fantasy, and this is where truth becomes useful.

To defend our fantasy (R3) from the threat of the Real (R1) we can resort to R2 as a protection measure: We can invoke the reference to the truth on which the practical existence of all semblances relies and rests. Todd McGowan formulates this option by redefining the concept of universality as “the lack in every particular”, based on Žižek’s concept of the subject [2]. This option is the feminine refutation of masculine imposture. Feminine masquerade does not conceal ‘nothing but the void’ as Žižek claims, but it wraps the rock of reality.

Now let us invoke Lacan’s three fundamental passions to add the story some juice: The rock of reality between I-R supports hate, the paper of truth between I-S supports love, and the scissors of semblances between S-R supports ignorance.

The actuality of R3 relates love to ignorance: It is a common fact of life that the blank paper of love is cut up by the semblances of our ignorance: All particularities of our life are determined by the boundaries of our ignorance.

The virtual threat of R1 relates ignorance to hate: What we actually ignore in our immersion in love, is the reality of hate. Since hate is a constant threat that can demolish our life at any moment, sometimes we become unable to ignore it, and need ways to defend our fantasies against the reality of hate. In masculine imposture, we take refuge in a Master-Signifier. But there is also a feminine way of defending your fantasy.

The option of R2 relates hate to love: It is the feminine option of defending your fantasy against the threat of hate. Feminine masquerade is also deceptive, because the reality of hate is covered and concealed by the truth of love. One incarnation is the famous ‘beautiful soul’. Another incarnation is Superego moralism, more commonly known as cancel culture.

Beyond masculine imposture and feminine masquerade, there is also the third option of traversing your fantasy, which requires you to traverse the whole circle of reality, truth, semblances, and back again to reality.


Işık Barış Fidaner is a computer scientist with a PhD from Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. Admin of Yersiz Şeyler, Editor of Žižekian Analysis, Curator of Görce Writings. Twitter: @BarisFidaner


[1] See “Symbolic Scissors”

[2] See “Masculine and Feminine: Truth, Reality and Semblances”

Source for the rock/paper/scissors icons.


  1. […] [5] Let’s articulate them in terms of rock, paper, scissors: The choice of the symbolic over the imaginary says “scissors cut paper”, the choice of the real over the symbolic says “rock breaks scissors”, the choice of the imaginary over the real says “paper wraps rock”. See “The Rock of Reality, The Paper of Truth, The Scissors of Semblances” […]


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