Jacques-Alain Miller's Perversion
JOSEFINA A YERZA
The Uses of the Fantasm
The Weight of Words
Believe It or Not
Psychoanalysis and Literature
Maybe it was easier for Freud to make [a] separation between perception and belief because his language was German. In German, there are two different words for reality. There is on the one hand the word Realität, but there is also another word, Wirklichkeit. Wirklichkeit is connected to wirken, which means that something works. So one can say that there are some perceptions which work, that are efficient, that become Wirklichkeit; and others which work less or not at all.
This distinction is especially important if we speak about the unconscious. The unconscious is a memory structure formed of a limited number of language elements, of signifiers. These essential signifiers determine the subjective position, they determine the subject's relation to the Other. Specifically one of these signifiers, the one Lacan called Nom-du-Père: Name-of-the-Father, has the function of modifying this relation to the Other.
If we don't believe in the existence of inborn ideas, we are forced to think that signifiers must be perceived somehow in the outside world. In paraphrasing Bertrand Russell we can say that, in order for them to work in the unconscious, the subject must respect the signifiers he perceives. This is particularly true for the signifier Name-of-the-Father insofar as its function is, as I have said, to modify the position of the subject.
The subject must believe all the more in this modifying signifier since, according to analytical experience, one never really wants to change the position one occupies. This is something Freud discovered very early and which he emphasized again when he introduced his concept of the death-instinct. One of the aspects of the death-instinct is that man always finds satisfaction; that he even finds satisfaction in suffering. Lacan called this fundamental satisfaction jouissance. He even said, somewhat ironically, that man is always happy.
Illustration: Luis Felipe Noé "One Passion...", 1982
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