translated by Barbara P. Fulks
I CUT AND CONTINUITY
1. A STEP OUTSIDE
There is something called Lacan's later teaching, so called because I have isolated it with this signifier, giving it ex-sistence.
Ex-sistence means it is held outside. Lacan's later teaching is held outside his teaching that is not the later.
I've thus isolated a cut that individualizes his later teaching. Isolating it this way is a biographical construction.
How can we describe this cut? It isn't obvious; it is bound up on continuity. We must construct it to describe it. Let us isolate the opposition of cut and continuity.
We see continuity in Lacan's teaching. He never departed from logic, from his devotion to reason. When one is devoted to reason for thirty years, we might suspect that cuts are not significant. It is precisely the continuity that gives his teaching its topological structure.
Topology offers configurations of differing evidence, although without discontinuity. The topology allows for Lacan's theses to be reversed without rupture, without the solution of continuity, without letting us perceive what, from another perspective, would be their inconsistency. An example is the simplest of the topological figures, the strip invented by Mobius which allows passage in continuity to its reverse side. It's a curious word, solution, which figures in the expression, the solution of continuity. The word solution comes from the Latin solvere. We find the same root in dissolution. Lacan played with this equivocation between solution and dissolution when he dissolved his School. 1
Properly stated, a solution is the act of unraveling. Only in the figurative sense does solution mean a resolution that produces a result.
In Lacan's later teaching he arrives at the result, and he uses the figure of knots, of knotting, of an irreducible knotting as the structure to communicate the result. But his knotting is a denouement, and if we want to individualize it, if we try to construct the solution it represents in relationship to what he stated previously, it is when Lacan has no other issue than untangling himself from Freud. He discreetly sounded out his audience, in whom he had formed, suggested or conditioned a faithfulness to Freud, whose student and mouthpiece he was. What attracts and orients Lacan in his later teaching is this effort to unknot himself from Freud, to whom he had tied his thought.
I can even go so far as to say that Lacan untied himself from psychoanalysis itself. He considered it from the outside, as one might consider psychoanalysis once it had been abolished.
This could only be scandalous for those who think that psychoanalysis is eternal. The burden of proof is on them. It is much more likely that psychoanalysis would become outdated by a certain juncture. Lacan considered psychoanalysis from the point of view one could take once it had ceased to be an effective practice having meaning, such as we are steeped in now.
Well considered, Lacan's teaching would be missing something if it had not gone that far, had not made a small step outside the bath we are in, in which for us psychoanalysis is a practice with a quotidian meaning, a meaning in which we bathe without thinking much, if only to structure it, to make it logical, to complexify it. Lacan's teaching would be remiss if it hadn't taken this step outside psychoanalysis.
It is not the cult of the knot that orients Lacan's later teaching, but rather the question of knowing what would be left of psychoanalysis once we stopped believing in it, believing in it enough to devote oneself to it. What would be left of psychoanalysis, of what it has made us perceive, of what it has given us access to, once it was only a superstition?
Let's imagine what it would mean to hold psychoanalysis as a superstition. Superstition, as commonly understood, is the cult of a false god. In the correct sense, it is reconstructed in etymology as superstare, what is held above. In the figurative sense, it is what survives, what remains, what continues to exist after its progenitors have ceased to be, it is something that describes what survives.
We might introduce here the link between superstition and ex-istence. Once everything has sunk, everything is annulled, what remains of the shipwreck? This is how I myself view Lacan's later teaching. This teaching treats the existence of psychoanalysis as a superstition in a cryptic way. A cleansing, a degradation of psychoanalysis is needed in order to make it work.
This is why the later teaching was kept at a distance, why it was only approached through its technical side-making knots, designing knots, complicating the knot. This is the time period when Lacan came to describe psychoanalysis as a fraud.
He said this discreetly, away from his Seminar. Once it made headlines in the press: "Lacan Says Psychoanalysis Is a Fraud." 2 One hadn't escaped the hope of being nourished by it. To associate psychoanalysis and fraud, to have that thought, was a feat of cleansing, even if Lacan didn't report it to his Seminar except by veiling it, by saying psychoanalysis is a serious thing of which "it is not absurd to say that it can slide into a fraud." 3
Here is an association that would be hard to find in his previous teaching and which surely indicates what was tormenting the later Lacan.
During this time Lacan would speak of the famous unconscious. What does this adjective famous mean here? It means that the unconscious has a reputation. During the 20th century the unconscious had a rather good reputation. But to speak of reputation may just as well mean to have a bad one. The famous unconscious, the unconscious of renown, could well slide into having a bad reputation. Which, we must recognize, has already begun.
But these affairs of good and bad are not very important. To describe the unconscious as famous is to say that it is an affair of reputation, that is to say, of belief. It is on the road leading Lacan to decide it was perhaps opportune to unravel the unconscious from Freud, to unknot it from its inventor.
I'm not inventing, I quote, "What Freud says of the unconscious is only gibberish and shenanigans." 4 Lacan wasn't taken completely seriously since he said it at the end of the '70s. Who said it? Someone who was the voice of Freud and who had encouraged hanging on Freud's every word to orient one's self in psychoanalysis. It was taken as bad humor, as excess, as fatigue.
If I let myself speak of Lacan's later teaching, it is not just because of the knots, which could be just one more episode in Lacan's schemas, but rather because I think that this is where we can gain entry to his last pronouncements. It is a matter of drawing the unconscious away from Freud and of proposing another concept of the unconscious, another way of conceiving, of capturing the unconscious, and psychoanalysis as well.
We can determine the cut that defines Lacan's later teaching from his previous one.
Before, it was the return to Freud.
Before, Lacan's teaching was a discourse professing that Freud was the obligatory guide to accessing the unconscious in an appropriate direction for the psychoanalytic cure.
Before, it was the notion that Freud himself had introduced something radically new, a breakthrough in relationship to everything that was thought, said, and done previously.
Before, it was the celebration of the Freud-event and the development of its unperceived consequences.
What justifies Lacan's teaching as a return to Freud is the notion that the Freud-event had been registered in common parlance, and in that way he had been blocked, reduced, misunderstood, and he was dealt with in traditional categories.
Unique in Lacan's teaching, his motivation, was the effort to recast all these traditional categories, to put them in question: what is the subject, the body, pleasure, etc.? To put all these categories in question and to invalidate them, successively, through the test of the Freud-event.
2. PRELIMINARY QUESTION FOR ANY POSSIBLE PSYCHOANALYSIS
A REFORM OF UNDERSTANDING This it interferes with what would be the pure effect of meaning. Lacan's graph already represents most of the formula which would come to him in his Seminar XX,
10 namely "where the it speaks, it enjoys" (là où ça parle, ça jouit). There is a conjunction between this place of the it and that of the Other, and in every effect of sense a jouissance is already included. It is already "nonsense without jouissance."
Lacan's teaching is thus proposed as a reform of understanding which would take Freud seriously and which would be especially capable of defining a subject distinct from consciousness of itself, a subject which would no longer be defined by the autonomy of consciousness. This autonomy of consciousness is the birthplace of modern thought. It is more or less how Hegel paid homage to Descartes-with the cogito, thought can finally say, 'Land ho!"
Lacan's enterprise, under the sign of Freud, was to recast, step by step, the categories which proceed from this autonomy of consciousness and to assert, totally to the contrary, that Freud's discovery obliges us to accentuate the dependence of the subject, and not the autonomy of consciousness-the dependence of the subject on the generations from which it derives in relationship to language which precedes it, and in relationship to a fixing of jouissance, to which it is coordinated in the fantasme.
FROM CONSCIOUSNESS TO THE SYMBOLIC
Lacan's early teaching was a commentary on Freud. Thus it is presented and the presentation makes sense. It is a commentary on Freud oriented by the idea of emphasizing not the autonomy of consciousness, but the autonomy of the symbolic.
He shifted the concept of the autonomy of consciousness to the symbolic using what the epoch gave him in the middle of the 20th century: the constructions of Lévi-Strauss. Lacan's first ten seminars are developed under the banner of a Freud colored by Lévi-Strauss.
Before the cut of the later teaching, there was already another which introduced Lacan's second stage of teaching with Seminar XI, 5 which may seem to summarize, from a certain angle, the results acquired previously, but which, considered closely, already unravel from Freud. We must at least emphasize what developed from an analysis and a questioning of Freud's desire. Lacan found himself placed outside the Freudian institution, which led him to question how Freud's legacy had ended up there.
What runs through this construction, in Seminar XI, is rather a distancing from Freud's desire. Lacan immediately takes his distance using the Levistraussian version of the unconscious that no one but he himself had introduced. The pulsating unconscious he presented to us-the temporal unconscious, the unconscious that opens and closes, of which time is a dimension that can't be eluded - is evidently posed in opposition to the regulating unconscious on which he had based his thought until then, and the pregnancy of which I reminded you earlier this year.
In what name did he take this distance from the Freudian unconscious revisited through Lévi-Strauss? The unconscious as his early teaching had developed it, the one we still go on about today for its impact, for its force? He did it in the name of analytic experience; that is to say, he dealt with the way the unconscious is presented in analytic experience itself.
This fact of a cut stares us in the face already in Seminar XI. It's only if one takes the point of view of the analytic experience that one can say the unconscious functions as a supposition. For this reason it is not real: it is only signification induced through the mechanism where experience unfolds.
The definition of the unconscious as subject-supposed-to-know already implies an unraveling of experience and of Freud's theory. One makes of the unconscious a supposition that allows the production of a certain number of signifiers which find themselves affected by the unconscious. This production of signifiers allows for the isolation of the rest of what is not signifier, what Lacan gave the name of objet a.
PASSING TO THE OTHER SIDE
What is a signifier is what is shared in common, while the petit a itself belongs to the subject. Lacan emphasized this in his Seminar, D'un Autre à l'autre. 6 As it should be accentuated. The big Other here, has the indefinite article, un, while the small other merits the definite article, le. This demonstrates that the capital Other, the place of the Other, is the dimension of what is for all, of what is universal, while the petit a is singular.
Lacan's early teaching, that of his first ten seminars, celebrates the domination of the big Other. His second stage of teaching is dedicated to articulating an Other with a capital O, and the other with a small a - the objet petit a, he devotes himself to articulate the big Other and the objet a. His third stage of teaching, which we are calling the later, starts from the side of the small other, from the side of what is singular.
Lacan thus reverses his initial perspective which was that of the big Other, that of an unconscious with rules, a social unconscious, which he would find in ethnology, and then he passes to the other side of the first stage to center on what is particular to everyone, that is to say, singular. Singular means that which is not available to the universal. I find the proof in the fact that this later teaching is haunted by the problem of autism. Autism means that the One is dominant and not the Other.
Lacan's early teaching takes the Other with a big O as a basic given. There is language, which is common, rules of parentage, automatisms, a signifying constellation which all subjects born in the same culture share, and the unconscious should be situated in this cadre. But Lacan's later teaching makes the scene turn; he proceeds from what is particular to everyone and what cannot be put in common at all, of what cannot be shared. It is the extent to which the One dominates that a questioning of psychoanalysis logically follows.
We could title this later teaching, "A Preliminary Question for All Possible Psychoanalysis." It is in this very precise context that Lacan can say: "We must raise the question of knowing if psychoanalysis is not an autism of two." 7
If it is not, let us assure ourselves, it is because there is language (la langue) and because, as Lacan says, language is a common affair. The consequence of the privilege given to the One, to the jouissance of the One, to the libidinal secret of the One, is that psychoanalysis appears in a very convincing fashion as what it is, a forcing. In Lacan's early teaching psychoanalysis appears completely natural, speaking of the Other in order to clarify its position in the regulating unconscious, while in his later teaching it becomes truly an enigma. How is this forcing of the jouissance of the One possible?
If psychoanalysis is a forcing, if it is on the reverse slope of the natural, then it becomes much more interesting. In Lacan's later teaching, psychoanalysis is a forcing of autism thanks to language, a forcing of the One of jouissance thanks to the Other of language.
Desire is the key term of Lacan's early teaching. Desire is of the Other. It is what Lacan arrives at while reformulating the hysterical position. Desire is of the Other, it is inscribed in language, it is captured in a metonymy. It is a category which cannot support itself without the support of the Other.
But in all the schemas of knots that Lacan multiplies in his later teaching, the jouissance of the Other remains empty. In opposition to desire, jouissance is a category which is supported by the One. We can always dream the jouissance of the Other, but jouissance is attached to the body proper, the body of the One.
Thence the question of knowing how one can reach, touch this jouissance of the One and modify it. This is the question: is jouissance part of meaning or not?
We cannot be satisfied here by such and such a quotation. Lacan asserts the phoneme of meaning in jouissance in order to say that jouissance is also from meaning. Lacan says this before being caught up in his later teaching. But if jouissance is from meaning, then the Other would be quite naturally implicated, because meaning has value only for the Other.
I believe that when Lacan said jouis-sens in his Television, 8 he broke the word apart to expose meaning there, but that was just a first step which led him to pose the question and to give the opposite response in his text, "Joyce le-Symptôme," 9 where he said that jouissance is opaque. Jouissance excludes meaning, and that is why we can call it opaque. This means that the operation proper to psychoanalysis is a forcing which brings jouissance to meaning in order to resolve it-resolution here meaning denouement.
This question had been pending since the return to Freud, this return to Freud which already designated psychoanalysis as an operation which is effected on the slope of speech, that is to say of meaning, and which supposed that by giving a new meaning one obtained practical effects, effects on the real. The interrogation was thus waiting for the way that meaning touches the real.
NON-SENSE WITHOUT JOUISSANCE
This early teaching was immediately directed toward taking into account a beyond-sense, a beyond-sense that is embodied in that mysterious initial to which one almost always returns, the S of barred A, which designates the ultimate response, the nec plus ultra of unconscious enunciation. A vector takes its departure from the place of the Other, crosses the place that Lacan bizarrely designated with S <> D, and ends in S of barred A: S().
I formerly tried to decipher this symbol in which Lacan transcribed the Freudian drive. Let us simplify this apparatus. At the lower lever of the graph is speech and effect of sense, and at the upper level Lacan articulates what Freud designated as the it (ça). Since this place is homologous to that of the Other, I could also call it the çA.
One can place it on Lacan's straightened schema. The obstacle for the vector, which must be developed in analysis, is the conjunction of the effect of sense with what is jouissance.
This it interferes with what would be the pure effect of meaning. Lacan's graph already represents most of the formula which would come to him in his Seminar XX,
10 namely "where the it speaks, it enjoys" (là où ça parle, ça jouit). There is a conjunction between this place of the it and that of the Other, and in every effect of sense a jouissance is already included. It is already "nonsense without jouissance."
The different versions Lacan gave are inscribed on this schema. The connection of all sense with jouissance is an obstacle to what the essential vector that supports the analytical experience develops. Lacan's S of barred A is the result of the traversing of sens joui, to which he gave diverse names in his teaching. Whether it was identification or fantasme, it always had to do with sens joui. In regard to what would be the truth, it is a response without guarantee. It is from this S which ex-ists, the S of the barred A, that Lacan could say later that the analyst proceeds from his own authorization, that he proceeds from the nullification of any signifying guarantee. All jouissance is posed in relationship to the hole; this is how one could summarize Lacan's later teaching. He portrays this hole as a circle of string. The consistency of the string has value only through its connection to the hole which, if it is not named, remains invisible. The concept of the hole, different from that of lack, makes Lacan's later teaching different from what came before.
A HOLLOWING OF THE REAL
He designated with the cipher S of barred A, the result from the traversing of sens joui, which supposes in effect a hollowing out symbolized by the bar which strikes through the big Other, a hollowing out of the signifier, a hollowing out of sense, a hollowing out of jouissance. The capital S is what remains, it ex-ists as signifier.
Let us write it with the symbol of ex-istence which we have introduced. From the traversing of the Other, from the hollowing out obtained from all sens joui, a signifier, which is, if one wishes, a response, remains. It is for this reason, as response, that it is introduced in Lacan's double graph.
I would like to emphasize that this formula already inscribes that the signifier with which it is concerned is not a signifier of the Other. At the point when everything is signifier in the analytic experience, for Lacan, this capital S gets to write that it is not a signifier of the Other. It is not a signifier of universal discourse, nor of the discourse of the unconscious, but a supplementary signifier, a new signifier. It is an invented signifier which is not of the Other, which is thus of the One.
What is already inscribed in this place, conforming to the logic of Lacan's early teaching, is a signifier different from the others, impossible to negativize, and which thereof has the value of the real.
This is how Lacan himself responds to it: it is jouissance under the name of the real.
One thus sees all the difficulties Lacan encountered attempting to write this signifier in phallic terms.
He writes the signifier ex-isting in analytic experience, minus phi ( ). He writes it as castration, final truth bound to produce horror. We are not worse off in variable truth, but in the final truth.
He writes it as capital phi ( ), real phallic signifier which he explicitly says is impossible to negativize, and he attempts a complex construction by relating the minus phi to the capital phi as one signifier to another.
Why isn't he satisfied with it? Because the phallus is a copula and the copula is a connection to the Other. It is contrary to the logic that the barred A implies and why he then writes it as petit a.
Petit a is not a copula; this is its great difference from the phallus. Petit a also inscribes a mode of jouissance, but jouissance cut off from a rapport with the Other. When one writes petit a, one goes towards the jouissance of the body proper, the jouissance which ex-ists in the body proper.
Lacan does not stop at petit a. Why? He explains it in his Seminar XX, at the end of his second stage of teaching. Petit a is still a sens joui inscribed in the fantasme.
The final writing we have from him about this term is the sigma of sinthome, because to write S of barred A as sigma is to give it the position of ex-istence in relationship to meaning; it is to isolate jouissance in the order of the real; that is to say, existent in meaning.
What is this difference? It is that, when one speaks of lacks, spaces remain. Lack means an absence inscribed in a space, it obeys the order of spaces; spaces are untouched by the lack. This is exactly why other terms can inscribe themselves where such a term is lacking, as a result of which one obtains a permutation. The permutation means that the lack is functional.
The lack can disappoint because it is not there, but nevertheless there is no lack of terms to substitute for it. Lack is a perfectly legitimate authority in the combinatorial rules of language.
Just the opposite can be said of the hole, as Lacan elaborated the concept in his later teaching. The hole, as opposed to lack, implies the disappearance of the order of spaces. It entails the disappearance of the space itself of the combinatorial rules. It is the most profound value of barred A, which does not mean here a lack in the Other, but rather, in the place of the Other, a hole, the disappearance of the combinatorial rules. It is in relationship to the hole that there is ex-istence, which is the correct position for the remainder, the correct position of the real-that is to say, the exclusion of sense.
In regard to what would be the truth, it is a response without guarantee. It is from this S which ex-ists, the S of the barred A, that Lacan could say later that the analyst proceeds from his own authorization, that he proceeds from the nullification of any signifying guarantee.
All jouissance is posed in relationship to the hole; this is how one could summarize Lacan's later teaching. He portrays this hole as a circle of string. The consistency of the string has value only through its connection to the hole which, if it is not named, remains invisible. The concept of the hole, different from that of lack, makes Lacan's later teaching different from what came before.
A CLEANSING OF THOUGHT II W
Lacan's later teaching tends, in effect, to define the real by the exclusion of sense. This puts everything that is interpretation in question and produces as consequence a cleansing of thought.
Lacan's first and second-stage teaching is supported by thought and even goes as far as to underline, in conformity with Freud, that the unconscious comes from thoughts, because Lacan, up until his later teaching, held that thought properly stated was the symbolic.
If you want a reference here, in Écrits, the text called "D'un syllabaire après coup," 11 where Lacan emphasized that thought belonged to the symbolic: "There is no other kind of thought than the symbolic." He could then consider that thought itself anticipated science, because thought is the symbolic already present in the real.
He can write this weighty phrase, considered from the perspective of his later teaching: "Symbolic thought has always been pregnant with scientific thought." There is no formulation to better show that the subject of science is in effect a subject-supposed-to-know in the real.
This is what causes the cut with Lacan's later teaching. He had to scrap it then. In order to arrive at the later teaching and the understanding of the practice of psychoanalysis, one had to pose that thought is from the imaginary, an imaginary above the symbolic. It is like imagining that the symbolic is as neat, as tidy as the rules of Lévi-Strauss. Or that thought could be as neat, as tidy as Euclidian geometry, which Lacan called symbolically imaginary, that is to say an imaging of the symbolic.
He was supported by Euclidian geometry, by optics, and he frankly did not cross these limits with the elemental topology he employed. It is an imaginary geometry in which the symbolic functions alone. It is that symbolic, the major example of which he gave us at the beginning of his Écrits in his architecture of the alpha, beta, gamma, which were supposed to represent the autonomy of the symbolic.
In his later teaching, he broke with "a geometry which reveals pure spirits" and he opposed it with this embodied geometry of knots. They have a body first because, if they obey algorithms, they are still unknown. One cannot deduce with knots, one has to manipulate them, handle them in person.
With these knots, Lacan proposes the cleansing of thought. He locates thought, but also the unconscious, at the level of a difficult relationship of the body and of the symbolic. That difficult relationship he calls the mental.
ELUCUBRATION OF KNOWLEDGE
This is why we must take totally seriously, that is to say in a series, the new definition he proposes for the unconscious, a non-Freudian definition, with the unconscious as a mental illness. He puts the unconscious at the mental level, at the level of a debility which affects the mental.
In analysis we have to pay attention not only to the symbolic, to pure logic, but also to the body and to the real as excluded from sense. Thus the determination, in Lacan's later teaching, to lower knowledge to the rank of an elucubration and, correlatively, to promote the reference to manipulation. This is what his geometry of knots exhibits: to make it prevail over knowledge and thus modify the concept of the unconscious. The unconscious is less a knowledge which doesn't know than a "not-know-what-to-do-with."
This is why Lacan can propose the new category of debility of the mental as more radical than the Freudian unconscious. Mental debility means that the speaking being is battered by disharmony with the symbolic, the real, and the imaginary.
One can obviously take mental debility as sarcasm. It is. But, in his later teaching, it is a concept that describes the absence of accord among the dimensions. It is what describes a disharmony, an absence of harmony, whose names could be conflict, Spaltung, the interval between demand and desire, castration, sexual non-rapport. What Lacan proposed in his later teaching as the term that best describes these results is mental debility.
He thus described what he was dealing with as a being whose mind is deficient, a being who, unlike animals, cannot find himself in his world, who is structurally lost and badly oriented. He is lost and badly oriented because his libido is narcissistic, because his body is sick, what one might give the glorious name of castration.
Lacan's later teaching was Occamist, realistic. He dispensed with all useless terms, all the glorious and elaborate terms. The mental debility of this being means that his mind doesn't put him in relationship with the real.
In the same way that Lacan could say, in Seminar XX, that language was an elucubration of knowledge on lalangue, in other words that he was keeping his distance from the abstraction called language to lead us to the particularity of each tongue, he could also say something similar of the unconscious.
I believe that I'm close to what Lacan showed in his later teaching, and it is what I found even closer in experience itself, in saying that the Freudian unconscious is an elucubration of knowledge on mental debility.
Lacan's Seminar called De l'une-bévue 12 pointed in this direction. He translated Unbewubtsein, the Freudian unconscious, as "a blunder" (une-bévue). He wanted to describe with blunder the elemental fact from which the Freudian unconscious proceeds, meaning that the human being makes mistakes, slips-up, misspeaks, and that it is from this immediate data that Freud elucubrated the unconscious.
Thus Lacan's later teaching is an effort, not to make us design knots, but to lead us to some immediate data, closest to experience, which will make our knowledge appear as an elucubration on these immediate data.
Not that a dissolution of Freudian concepts as I've explained them wouldn't make us tremble. Lacan gave the example elusively, from the unconscious led to blunder, to the immediate given of the blunder, where what happens is nothing other than a slip-up, and one realizes one is mistaken. It is here that one obtains the unconscious by negating consciousness. We then must pose the question of what is the value of the negation.
Thus it is not a return to Freud but a denouement vis-à-vis Freud to return to the immediate data, where one can perceive how Freud came to transform debility into the unconscious.
II WITHOUT THE NAME-OF-THE-FATHER
1. PRACTICE AND THEORIES
I'm astonished to surprise you by saying that the Freudian unconscious was for Lacan an elucubration of knowledge on mental debility. This thesis could in effect be taken for granted after Lacan's later teaching. Not that it was explicitly formulated, but it was inscribed in everything he said.
If I take your surprise and my astonishment seriously, I must believe that there is a part of Lacan's teaching which can only be inscribed if I restate it. This is the case.
Throughout Lacan's commentary that I followed for decades, I had the occasion more than once to verify that Lacan's words should be restated in a certain way, in a certain tone, with a certain accent, in a certain context, in a certain order. Lacan's words should be restated in order to get over the wall of language, to be taken seriously and to hit their target-that is to say, to awaken those addressed, you, inasmuch as you are in charge of psychoanalysis, in charge of practicing it, of following what began with Freud and to what he gave the initial energy.
TO THOSE WHO KNOW
When I say "you," I am thinking of those of you Lacan addressed as a priority. "You" are not physically the same as the "you" addressed by Lacan, but it is nevertheless the same since, hypothetically, you come to the same place as his listeners, the place of practitioners, the place of those who know to what he returned in the experience of psychoanalysis, at least those who are supposed to know to what he returned, the place of those who are knowledgeable in the matter of transference and interpretation.
Lacan's lesson is first of all what is taught, since it is psychoanalysis, to those who are supposed to know; in any case, it is a teaching which is distinguished from what bears this name in other disciplines. If you peruse Lacan's Écrits and even more Autres écrits, and you take into account what his seminar activity was like, you can't deny that Lacan only exceptionally addressed idiots, as he himself called them, those who were not experts or cognoscenti.
When he addressed them, from time to time, when he had to, it was always in the conference style of the explorer, of he who comes to recount what he saw, what was happening in an unknown country. But his teaching was conceived as directed to the natives of the country of psychoanalysis, to those who know.
This is how I consider you, how I name you, and doubtless it is a paradox to teach those who know. It means that they are supposed to know and at the same time supposed not to know, not to know as they should, that is to say, they are supposed to come up with ideas.
That's it. How could we not come up with ideas? How could we not rave on about what we do? This is what is most common in psychoanalysis, for reasons attached to what psychoanalysis is.
What's the use of teaching those who know, if this is the paradox which is the driving force in Lacan's teaching?
I would remind you that Lacan never said, "my theory." He said, "my teaching." He was prevented from saying "my theory" because he had several. Lacan's theories are even innumerable. And there you have it.
This happened almost imperceptibly. He left nothing that resembles a thesis on psychoanalysis. Rather, he made a multitude of small theses, none of which covers the other exactly. Each seems a step on the road. This is why I have given the title L'orientation lacanienne to what I restate from Lacan.
The simplest thing to say is that he did not say "my theory" because he had several theories of the same practice. This formula is debatable. I do not challenge the question opened when one uses this expression. Does the theory, when it varies, when it changes, when it permutates, leave the practice the same?
One could hold that as his theory multiplied, the practice of psychoanalysis changed through Lacan. I'll leave that open. I will not venture there, given the fact that we have only rumors of what his practice or practices were.
A LIFTING OF REPRESSION
There is no need to respond to this question, since it already leaves us a gap that I can try to define with the following words: in psychoanalysis, theory appears to be estranged from practice. It is even more significant that, of psychoanalysts, there is not only Lacan, and that, of theories, there are not only his.
Since I spoke of the way in which Lacan unraveled himself from Freud at the end of his teaching, I will now emphasize that this unraveling is first of all that of the theory and the practice, which one would like to see progress arm in arm. But nothing is less certain, when one observes the accelerated obsolescence of the theories in regard to what is maintained and eventually transformed from practice.
If it is correct that there is an unraveling of theory and practice, we would not have difficulty basing it in theory while appealing to the inadequacy of thought necessary in the experience of psychoanalysis. Let us go there - what I find for my part rather invigorating: there is something in psychoanalysis which would refuse to be thought.
One can say it in psychoanalytic terms-and once stated thus, it is not so easy to object to it in psychoanalysis: the theories are themselves marked by repression. In psychoanalysis the clearest of what is transmitted carries the stigmata of an "I do not want to think that."
This explains the dissatisfaction with which our constructions leave us, and would give to the theoretical enunciation in psychoanalysis, when it has a psychoanalytic value, the status of being equivalent to a lifting of repression. As Freud progresses, in his shorter texts as well as in his larger works, one has the feeling that for him there is a lifting of repression, that he gains ground on what he does not want to know at all.
WORDS AND TRACES
This is why the word "theory" is not adequate here, because it is a word which implies appropriateness, suitability, harmony of thought with its object. The progression through a lifting of repression, in psychoanalytic teaching, is already noticeable in Freud in what he presents as a continual movement of elaboration.
He himself noted that this could lead him to substitute one theory for another. Discontinuity is rather obvious in Freud himself from the first to the second topic. Lacan took a lesson from this, not only in his later explosive teaching, but by completely abandoning the point of view of theory for that of teaching.
Teaching in psychoanalysis is a modality of speech that responds, that reflects the speech of analysis. What Lacan called "his teaching" is what he said to his Seminar.
He treated his Écrits as "outmoded parts" of his teaching, pieces which, for him, had fallen apart. This is the correct meaning of outmoded, with a connotation of obsolescence.
In his teaching it is always understood that he passed beyond what he could have written. That is why there were rejections, rebuttals: the proof is that he didn't stop doing it.
There are other ways of doing it. Schopenhauer devoted himself to writing a book, The World as Will and Representation. While he was writing it, he hid it. He had no idea of teaching, given his scorn for humanity, and then once he had produced the book, he turned around, he sold it, he exploited it, and that was that.
Lacan's relationship with writing is completely different. He left traces on the road of his oral teaching.
Lacan's teaching is, properly stated, an instructive speech that responds to the speech of analysis. It is interpretation, interpretive speech. Instructive speech in psychoanalysis is neither analyzing speech nor interpretive speech, but a third mode of speech which includes the two others.
An analyst speaks and he speaks as teaching-the mode of instruction. It is what is inscribed in Lacan's teaching. This speech participates in the speech of analysis. Lacan said that he taught in the position of the analysand, that is to say that this discourse is deployed from the point of view of the subject-supposed-to-know. This is why, from the sole fact that it is speech, it must address itself, magnetized by "I do not know." It must be in love with its own not knowing.
This instructive speech also participates in interpretive speech inasmuch as it reveals to the subject-supposed-to-know that he knows not what he says. It reveals to him that he is made up of ideas.
Lacan goes very far in this direction in his later teaching. He goes very far in the direction of saying to the practitioners that they are made up of ideas, that they should be more true to themselves, more authentic, more realistic, in order to get something from their practice.
It is obviously an idea of teaching (of which Lacan drew the coordinates), which has nothing to do with university teaching. The truth of university teaching is first of all an "I know what I say" which is established by the negation of repression. Secondly, in order to imagine one knows what one says, one must dream of having dominated jouissance, one's own and that of the other, of having reduced it, of making it obey. And thirdly, the result is that, in university teaching, one is never uncomfortable with what is said. The result is an empty reference; the object is immaterial and one does with it what one wishes.
Teaching in psychoanalysis is totally contrary to university teaching. First, the teacher is confronted with his own "I do not know what I am saying." "This is not entirely what I am saying." This makes his mastery all the more worthy, simply because his mastery is measured in this brawl with repression. Secondly, it is teaching which recognizes that it does not dominate jouissance, especially the jouissance of comprehension. And thirdly, its reference-analytic experience and its conceptualization - is not annulled. It resists. This is why he doesn't teach the philistines. It is a teaching aimed at those who take part in this not-empty reference.
It is in this context that I find myself restating Lacan. I did it when I was engaged in it without thinking too much. I did it to rediscover it myself, and without thinking that I would find myself absorbed in this restating. I should also say that this restating was not superfluous, that it had its own effects, such as that of surprise.
2. A METEORITE
A NEW MEANING
This position of restating has led me to amuse myself by identifying myself (once, not here) with Jorge Luis Borges' "Pierre Ménard." 13 This is the story of the writer who dedicates himself, with great effort, to reproducing Cervantes' Don Quixote word for word, and the recopied text constitutes a new work for him. One finds this story everywhere since it appeared; it truly captured the imagination of all scribblers who have seen truth in it. Ménard recopies the Cervantes' text with his name as author, and in so doing, in the 20th century, he produces a new text.
This story has the force of an apologue with a moral. The same signifier in another context has another meaning. The same text thus becomes another text. Borges dramatizes the path of a signifier in another moment of universal discourse than that in which this signifier emerged. By transporting it to another moment, he gives in a new meaning.
We can see this every day. The appearance of Lacan's Autres écrits, at the beginning of the 21st century, has evidently produced a different effect than it had at the moment of its first publication following what was pouring from Lacan. Today it feels more like a meteorite, having nearly nothing to do with the present moment of universal discourse. One might ask: "Where did that come from?"
I realized this listening to those who came to interview me on the occasion of its publication. They had taken care not to read a line of the work, and they invited me to speak about something else.
It is also a different effect than that which would have been produced if this collection of texts had been published shortly after the disappearance of Lacan, when they would have had the value of a final pronouncement. This is why I have held back, with the idea that they would become a new signifier if one could wait a while, especially if one waited for the new century. One would have the occasion to ask not what was reflected of the past but what it announced about the future.
THE AUTONOMY OF THE SIGNIFIER
Borges, in his way, not only in this story but in his entire work, celebrated the autonomy of the signifier. Lacan had recognized this since 1956 when, in his "Seminar of 'The Purloined Letter'," 14 he saluted Borges' work as "so harmonious with the phylum of our purpose." This meant that he recognized that they both proceeded from the same stock. He was referring to an article by Borges, translated to French the preceding year, an excerpt of the collection titled Autres enquêtes.
It's not for nothing that this work of Borges made me think of titling these writings Autres écrits. It is probably the essay titled "The Analytic Language of John Wilkins" 15 which had led Lacan to refer to the work of this John Wilkins where he coined the term "nullibility," the fact of being null part, which he takes up in his "Seminar of The Purloined Letter" in order to describe the stolen letter itself; the term is not found in Borges' essay.
One finds, on the other hand, in Borges' essay a notation on extravagant classifications, reprised ten years later, in 1966, by Michel Foucault in the introduction to his The Order of Things. The antihumanist conclusion of The Order of Things, a shocking work in its time-the figure of Man is beginning to be erased, etc. - is basically the orchestration of what is clearly found and dryly stated at the end of Lacan's "The agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud" 16 in 1957. There is nothing outlandish in supposing that you find an echo of Lacan's reference to Borges' essay in the introduction of Foucault's book.
This conception of Borges of the autonomy of the signifier is what led him to attribute to translations a value not inferior to the original, but equal, even superior, which he amused himself demonstrating here and there.
He did it, for example, for the translations of Homer in a celebrated text. Which led him to a definition of the classic with nothing classic about it. He defined classic as that which loses nothing in translation, and even gains by translation. Classic is what can be translated with impunity, even what can be misinterpreted with impunity by translation. The classic signifier is precisely what can engender new meaning, that is to say put the mental in motion.
T The theory was necessary in order to institute the practice, and then, retroactively, the practice modified the theory. This is stated all through Freud's work. But it is stated even more with Lacan, whose point of departure is the practice of psychoanalysis. Freud was the theoretician who gave birth to the practice, and Lacan was the practitioner who elaborated the theory from the practice.
I'll return to what I do, not that I've been far from it, to translating Lacan, and to put an accent on it which occasionally has the virtue of surprise. This is especially the case since I'm dealing with his later teaching, about which up to the present I've held myself back; I've only made allusions to it.
Lacan's later teaching is characterized by the fact that the Roman Road has disappeared. The Roman Road effaces detours, crossroads, paths, roads leading nowhere, the Holzswege, and has the virtue of ordering, of designing a horizon to rejoin. The Roman Road dictates where one must pass through. And one cannot ask for more than someone who takes charge of all that, who tells you where you must go to arrive somewhere.
Lacan's later teaching is a teaching of psychoanalysis without the Name-of-the-Father, where the Name-of-the-Father is reabsorbed in the multiple. It is the teaching of psychoanalysis in the epoch in which the Other does not exist. This is why, amazingly, it couldn't be closer to us today. It is most likely closer to us than the teaching of psychoanalysis with the Name-of-the-Father, precisely because one can get lost there, especially since the accent one puts there is all important.
The Roman Road that gives an orientation in the later teaching is what I have already said. I can design this Roman Road by giving you exactly the signifiers of the paternal metaphor on the Lacanian square you have learned to manipulate.
I inscribed the symbol of the Name-of-the-Father as signifier at the top, its effect is on the body, over the position of jouissance in relationship to the body, with the proviso of crossing of a barrier which, in the paternal metaphor, is called the desire-of-the-Mother. But which is which? Which one is exactly a function of outside-the-law?
We can see there, without forcing, the agency of the real, if we define it in relationship to the Name-of-the-Father as this outside-the-law and if we give it its value as obstacle to the action of the signifier, Name-of-the-Father, that which brings the law and which, from that fact, produces an effect of meaning which captures jouissance, which puts it in its place-that is to say, which gives it its phallic place.
The Name-of-the-Father, in Lacan's early teaching, is the signifier par excellence which produces an effect of real meaning. It is the name of the signifier which gives meaning to jouissance.
Without the Name-of-the-Father there is only chaos. Chaos means outside law, a chaos in the symbolic. Without the Name-of-the-Father, there is no language, there is only lalangue. Without the Name-of-the-Father, there is, properly speaking, no body, there is only the corporeal, flesh, organism, matter, image. There are body events, events which destroy the body. Without the Name-of-the-Father, there is a without-the-body. It is only with the Name-of-the-Father that there is body and outside-body, if one situates the phallus there where jouissance is condensed.
If one leaves the Name-of-the-Father hanging, then the effect of real meaning becomes problematic, and this is why it appears as an enigma in Lacan's later teaching. I say enigma because he gives no response for it. Meaning appears unraveled from the real. Without the Name-of-the-Father, there are three - the real, the symbolic and the imaginary. One might ask how that holds together.
This is what allows for the retroactive perception that the paternal metaphor was the resolution of this non-posed problem. With the Name-of-the-Father, one only perceives the domination of the symbolic.
A RECASTING OF THEORY
Lacan's later teaching involves the passage from a problematic of domination to a problematic of knotting, with related questions. Is this knotting assured by a supplementary element, by a fourth functioning as a Name-of-the-Father, which Lacan called the sinthome, or is it the alternative - are the three themselves knotted? This is the path that leads us underground from Lacan's initial problematic to his later teaching.
The vulgate I myself contributed to spreading is that Lacan continued Freud, unlike dissidents calling themselves orthodox saying that Lacan is the true Freud, Freud redivivus. Not at all.
I say, not without cheek, that in his later teaching, Lacan untied himself from Freud. If I cannot permit myself to say this now, when could I? But since I've had the cheek to say it, one cannot help but think that means-because one is interpreting me - that I am untying myself from Lacan. Am I? I think that I have arrived at the point, along with you, moreover, at which I see Lacan's teaching in relief, after having walked through the valley, and that finally I have reached a promontory which lets me say that it is the relief which appears.
What is this relief? From the beginning Lacan has untied himself from Freud. He untied Freud's theory and the practice of psychoanalysis. He evaluated, gauged, and retranslated the theory through practice.
Freud's theory - to his immortal credit - is what allowed for the institution of analytic practice. But there is nothing extraordinary in posing that, retroactively, the practice one instituted needs to be recast.
There is surely another way of looking at these things, that Lacan himself (reader of Freud) advanced. I'm not saying it's a mask, but Lacan's teaching is all the same inhabited, to use Descartes' phrase, by a Larvatus prodeo, an "I'm proceeding masked." He proceeded masked up until his later teaching, which had the effect of a fallen mask.
One perceives what is there at once, which is the touchstone and the impetus of Lacan's teaching - namely, practice as such. Just the same, when he arrived at the Borromean knot, he didn't say he found it in Freud. He didn't have that much cheek. He said, more modestly, more precisely, that this knot came to him from his practice. And we must take him seriously.
The first time Lacan tried to speak of psychoanalysis, he didn't start from Freud at all, but from his practice. This is what you find in Lacan's text of 1936, "Au-delà du Principe de realité". 17 He proposed a phenomenological description of analytic experience; thus from the beginning it was a matter of identifying the data of experience.
When he said phenomenological, that came from Husserl. That meant trying to put prejudices to one side in order to describe what appeared as such. It was then that he took account of, as a given of experience, language put in function in communication-that is to say, a speech that signifies for an other, which communicates a meaning to an auditor solicited as interlocutor.
I emphasize this because the expression I employed "of immediate data" seemed peculiar, but the idea of making reference to the data of experience is there at the very beginning of Lacan's itinerary, even, properly speaking, before he began to teach.
Who is this interlocutor he names? He doesn't stop at the person present. He is, as he says, an imaginary other even more real, whom he describes with terms having a romantic yet quite specific air: the phantom of memory, witness of solitude, pillar of obligation, messenger of destiny. This is very precise in order to determine the position of the analyst, who obviously knows something of Freud's elaboration, in the analytic experience.
The phantom analyst of memory is a reference to repetition. The pillar of obligation is a reference to the superego. Messenger of destiny describes the analyst as interpreter of a law that orders life and which Lacan, since he is a hyperdeterminist and scientist, presents in the form of algorithms. Witness of solitude says that there is no pure solitude for the subject without his being flung into the company of the Other.
Thus we are prepared to think of the unconscious as coming through communication. Which, let us underline, Freud did not do. To think of the unconscious through communication means to make the theory of psychoanalysis come through the immediate data of experience. This is what led him to think of repression as an interruption of communication, to think of the symptom as a message - a message of the subject to the Other who could not understand it, or a message of the Other which the subject could not understand - and thus to define the unconscious as the discourse of the Other. This formula came from a reflection on the immediate data of analytic experience. Lacan's teaching has then from the beginning substituted a different theory of the unconscious for Freud's. He substituted for Freud's theory a theory elaborated from analytic experience conceived as communication-that is to say, as the deployment of a speech which signifies for the Other.
4. FROM LOGIC TO POETRY
THE UNRAVELED MEANING OF THE REAL
The theory was necessary in order to institute the practice, and then, retroactively, the practice modified the theory. This is stated all through Freud's work. But it is stated even more with Lacan, whose point of departure is the practice of psychoanalysis. Freud was the theoretician who gave birth to the practice, and Lacan was the practitioner who elaborated the theory from the practice.
A RETURN TO THINGS THEMSELVES
Lacan's most profound inspiration was the phenomenological description, a description that works for immediate data. I borrowed this expression from Bergson's early work, the Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness. I did it on purpose even though nothing appears further from Lacan.
Starting from immediate data is in effect what is included in the phenomenological orientation, the orientation formulated by Husserl by the phrase "return to things themselves," by which he means an effort to capture the immediate relationship of consciousness to its experience. We have the echo in Lacan of this phenomenological return when he speaks of the return to Freud. This is obviously also to oppose it. A return to the things themselves of experience is the opposite of a return to the work of Freud, to his apparent inspiration. In the same way that I just said, in Autres écrits, one must hear an echo of Borges' Other Inquisitions, I say that, in Lacan's return to Freud, one must hear an echo of the return to things themselves, even if nothing seems more opposite to the notion of immediate data than structuralism. Structuralism, which Lacan commended in the beginning, held as anathema and as in vain the effort to return to things themselves, since the subject can only relate to the world through structures. For structuralism, the subject only knows mediated facts, mediated by structure.
For structuralism, pure phenomenology of perception is not necessary since perception is already organized by structures. What's more, Lacan, we should remark, proposed a phenomenology of experience not pure, but a phenomenology of analytic experience, that is to say of an experience already structured. The structuralist demonstration, which had its culmination in Lévi-Strauss's The Savage Mind is that the perceptible is a system, and that the symbolic dominates the perceptible as reality. This moves toward a stasis. The dynamic in structuralism is reduced to the permutation of elements in invariable spaces, that is to say that there is a stasis of spaces which Lacan exploited.
CONTINGENCY OF STRUCTURES
Later on there is another structuralist demonstration. The early one is, somehow, "structure is of the real," and this is translated as the autonomy of the symbolic. But the other one is that there are various possible structurations of experience.
This is what has always nourished social anthropology. It has nourished skepticism in it most rudimentary forms. It nourished Montaigne's skepticism. Moreover, Lévi-Strauss, in what one cannot call his later teaching but rather his final wisdom, returned to Montaigne. Social anthropology has always inspired relativism. It was already the support of the Enlightenment's anti-absolutism, meaning that the savage mind did not structure things as we do, did not structure the world in the same fashion as we do. For example, they did not structure the sexual relation at all as we do. This was the innovation of Diderot's Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville. The lesson of social anthropology has always been that the real can be structured differently from the way we do it.
This is why structuralism has always contained post-structuralism. If its early demonstration is the real of structure, its second is that of the demonstration of the arbitrariness of structures.
Let us emphasize this word "arbitrary," which comes from Saussure, which here is appropriate because it has been interpreted. It has taken the meaning that the structure reveals the discourse of the master, that structure is a matrix imposed by the master on the real. This is why, to general surprise, scientific structuralism nourished the subversion of '68.
Arbitrariness of structures, contingency of structures. When one removes the structure which serves as matrix in order to make reference to the immediate data, one perceives what the structure is, and that it could be different. This is where structuralism merges with the passion for the axiomatic, namely to justify that a discourse of mathematics depends on the choice of certain axioms and that one can change them, modify them, limit them in their impact and obtain other discourses.
The structuralism of which the early demonstration is that structure is real, was itself taken by a dynamic in which a new meaning has appeared, in which structure is only a semblance, a construction. From this fact, structuralism, which is posed immediately as anti- historical, has on the contrary opened paths to a generalized historicity which shows the historical relativity of structures.
We are in that moment. It is elaborated everywhere. It is what makes us think, when we say bye-bye to structuralism, we see everywhere the artificial character of constructions which succeed each other in History.
KNOWLEDGE AND REAL
What Lacan showed is that this won't hold without a third demonstration which introduces a new realism. This supposes that below the structure there is a real of immediate data, a real that there's no need to try to incarnate, which is not definable except as matter for structure, as one says, "cannon fodder."
It is what leads Lacan to a new phenomenology, to organize a real outside meaning, to organize a real preliminary to that which the structure gives meaning, and which for that reason cannot be defined - as unthinkable as it seems that a real can appear as outside meaning, that is to say a real which is so through its relationship to what the structure appears to be, not only as a construction but as an elucubration.
These two terms are correlative, the real outside meaning and the elucubration of knowledge. This is why Lacan's later teaching consists in unraveling, in psychoanalysis, the real and knowledge.
It is a teaching of which the stakes, the unaccomplished stakes, would be to elucubrate an asset which would not be a theoretical elucubration, to elucubrate a knowledge which would not be unworthy of a simple knowing-how-to-do-it with the real outside meaning.
It is no doubt a paradox, and it is a paradox redoubled in that the real with which it is concerned is imposed from an experience, the analytic experience, which is itself structured. But Lacan made of this paradox an application concerning the unconscious which one can follow, provided that one distinguishes the unconscious as a theoretical elucubration of Freud from the unconscious at the level of the real.
In this sense, the word "unconscious" in Lacan's later teaching has a double meaning. From time to time he can criticize it as a Freudian elucubration and he can say elsewhere that the unconscious is real. Two distinct levels are designated according to whether one refers to the unconscious in the real outside meaning or to the Freudian elucubration of knowledge.
This is what explains the return to the immediate data of consciousness in Lacan's later teaching. He emphasized it especially by translating the Freudian unconscious, the Unbewußt, as the blunder (l'Une-bévue).
One must comment here in detail on the striking paragraph where he proceeds to a decomposition of the concept of the unconscious starting with the immediate data of consciousness. He says: "There is nothing more difficult to grasp than this trait of the blunder by which I translate the Unbewußt, which in German means unconscious." 18
It is basically a second translation. The first translation of Unbewußt as unconscious is a translation at the level of meaning. What he is playing with is a translation at the level of sound. He reconstitutes a meaning in French from its sound in German. It is a method one might call bizarre, but it is Joycean. It is the method used by James Joyce in Finnegans Wake. It is of course a false translation, which is itself a blunder of translation.
Lacan underlines that it is a difficult trait to grasp. It is in reference to what he says a little later of the unconscious as impossible to grasp, and that he had already in advance situated as the mistake of the subject-supposed-to-know, this paradox which wants the unconscious to be grasped only as mistake-that is to say, when it escapes the grasp.
SOME BLUNDERS ALWAYS POSSIBLE
We must find out if this is important or if it is a detour. Well, I say that it is the Roman Road to Lacan's later teaching. And I say it because of finding it confirmed by the terms you find at the beginning of Lacan's last writing in Autres écrits: "When the space of a lapsus no longer carries any meaning, then only is one sure that one is in the unconscious. One knows. But one has only to be aware of the fact to find oneself out of it." 19
That says clearly that there is an unconscious when there is a blunder - that is to say, when consciousness errs, before one makes sense of it. It is an effort to situate the unconscious at the level of the real outside meaning. To give it meaning supposes that one pays attention to it and, when one pays attention, one does not err. The unconscious supposes a certain inattention, a certain lack of reflection.
This moreover echoes the analytic rule: "Don't pay attention to what you say. "It is an invitation not to put attention in play - that is to say, what one has elucubrated in psychoanalysis as the superego, the agency that watches over the self. Translated by a blunder it means, in effect, a whole other thing than the unconscious. The material base of the unconscious as immediate data is a stumbling block, slipping, sliding from word to word. One is at the level of the immediate data from the moment one elucubrates. The reference of the unconscious is finally the consciousness, inasmuch as it is susceptible to error, to deception, to blunder. And this is why Lacan proposes that consciousness resembles the unconscious in negation.
From whence the question: what is the value of this negation? Which is precisely what permits Freud to attribute the cause of the blunder to a substance. It is what lets him make of the supposed knowledge a substance which is called the unconscious.
What Lacan rectifies is that psychoanalysis consists in giving meaning to immediate data, to give it a meaning of truth; and this is where one sees the principle of psychoanalysis which is to make true, but a making true which, in regard to the real, is only meaning, that is to say semblance.
What allows for psychoanalysis is the blunder, is that there are blunders always possible between words, and that the same signifier, conforming to the Borgesian law, can always produce different meaning in the mind. The translation itself that Lacan proposes for the Unbewußt, the phonetic translation, is the proof of it, since the same sound displaced from one tongue to the other yields a different meaning.
AN ELUSIVE AWAKENING
The consequence is that logic is less determinant in psychoanalysis than poetry. This is what Lacan says in his later teaching, the same Lacan who privileged logical elucubration in psychoanalysis, to the point of framing the analytic cure in an algorithm and a formula of rule. Lacan's later teaching tends, on the contrary, to assimilate psychoanalysis to poetry - that is to say, to a game whose meaning is always doubled by the signifier. Literal meaning and figurative meaning, lexical meaning and contextual meaning-this is what poetry exploits in order, as Lacan says, to wreak violence on the common usage of language. Ah well, psychoanalysis does this too. In this regard, Lacan's later teaching relativizes the primacy of logic in psychoanalysis, the primacy of logic in the practice of psychoanalysis in order to actually resolve the logical aporia of psychoanalysis through a practice of poetry, which is also a limit of the teaching.
I do not have the time to develop what to say from this point, that the awakening (through logic) that Lacan proposed as the finality of the experience is but a dream, the definitive awakening at least. That allows for dreaming of an elusive awakening...
This year, by rubbing these stones against each other, I succeeded, at least for myself, to produce a small glimmer, which will allow me, I hope, next year, to dwell on psychoanalysis in poetry.
1. Lacan, Jacques, "Lettre de dissolution," in Autres écrits, Paris: Seuil, 2001.
2. Lacan, J., "Propos sur l'hystérie" (1977), in Lettre mensuelle de l'École de la Cause freudienne, Paris, 1981.
3. Lacan, J., "Le Séminaire, Livre XXIV: L'insu que sait de l'une bévue s'aile à mourre, 1976-1977," in Ornicar? 17, 1979.
5. Lacan, J., The Seminar, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964, NY: Norton, 1978.
6. Lacan, J., Le Séminaire, Livre XVI: D'un Autre à l'autre, 1968-1969, unpublished.
7. Lacan, J., "Le Séminaire, Livre XXIV: L'insu que sait de l'une bévue s'aile à mourre, 1976-1977," in Ornicar? 17, 1979.
8. Lacan, J., Television, NY: Norton, 1990.
9. Lacan, J., "Joyce le Symptôme," in Autres écrits, Paris: Seuil, 2001.
10. Lacan, J., The Seminar, Book XX: On Feminine Sexuality, the Limits of Love and Knowledge: Encore, 1972-1973, NY: Norton, 1998.
11. Lacan, J., "D'un syllabaire après coup," in Écrits, Paris: Seuil, 1966.
12. Lacan, J., "Le Séminaire, Livre XXIV: L'insu que sait de l'une bévue s'aile à mourre, 1976-1977," in Ornicar? 17, 1979.
13. Borges, Jorge Luis, "Pierre Ménard, Author of the Quixote," in Labyrinths, NY: New Directions, 1964.
14. Lacan, J., "The Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter' from Écrits," in Yale French Studies 48, 1973.
15. Borges, J. L., "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins," in Other Inquisitions 1937-1952, Austin: Univ. of Texas, 1984.
16. Lacan, J., "The agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud," in Écrits: A Selection, NY: Norton, 1977.
17. Lacan, J., "Au-delà du Principe de réalité," in Écrits, Paris: Seuil, 1966.
18. Lacan, J., "Le Séminaire, Livre XXIV: L'insu que sait de l'une bévue s'aile à mourre, 1976-1977," in Ornicar? 17, 1979.
19. Lacan, J., "Preface to the English-Language Edition," in The Seminar, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964, NY: Norton, 1978.
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