St. John of the Cross wrote in his Ascent of Mount Carmel that “understanding can understand naught save that which is contained within.” This lesson was repeated three hundred years later when Jacques-Alain Miller claimed that “[o]ne only understands what one thinks one already knows.” I can not pretend to introduce anything new here except to claim that the function of understanding is also to make an advance on anxiety. There where anxiety seemed to be, within the work of listening, are formed certain casual “habits.” A habit is a bit like a schema or a heuristic in that it provides the subject with an interpretative framework for the utterances of others.
From Ding Politik by Duane Rousselle
It has become a common argument among a certain school of political theorists to claim that there has been a decline in symbolic efficiency within recent political and social history. These scholars go on to argue that this period of decline is marked historically and it presents itself as a movement inward toward the political ontology of drive and away from the political logic of desire. Moreover, it represents the disappearance of the subject-supposed-to-know, that is, the subject who, because of his place within the structure of ruling, knows the answer or the deep secrets of our lives as political agents. However, what has been less highlighted by these scholars is the role that Lacan’s later work played in the formation of this theory. For example, these scholars seldom acknowledge that Lacan’s later work – which provided the foundation for this theory of the decline of symbolic efficiency – also offered a solution.