The Impotence of truth 3

The Impotence of truth 3
From The Other Side of Psychoanalysis
By Jacques Lacan

Work has never given such credit ever since humanity has existed. It is even out of the question that one should not work.


This is surely an accomplishment of what I am calling the master’s discourse.


For this to be the case it needed to go beyond certain limits. In a word, it comes down to something whose mutation I have tried to point out for you. I hope you remember it, and in case you can’t –which is quite possible—I am going to go back over it straight away. I am speaking of this capital mutation, also, which gives the master’s discourse its capitalist style.


Why, good heavens, is this taking place, and why is it not taking place by chance?


You would be wrong to think that there are knowledgeable politicians somewhere who are calculating exactly how everything has to be done. You would be equally wrong to think that there are none—there are some. It is not clear that they are always in a place where one can engage in suitable action. But, ultimately, it is perhaps not this that is so important. That they exist, even if in another place,, suffices for what is of the order of the displacement of discourse to be transmitted nevertheless.


Let’s now ask how this society called capitalist society can afford to allow itself a relaxation of the university discourse.


This discourse is nevertheless merely one of these transformations that I have been expounding all along. It’s the quarter turn in relation to the master’s discourse. Hence a question which it is worth making the effort to envisage—if we embrace this relaxation which, it has to be said, has been offered, aren’t we falling into a trap? The idea is not new.


As it happens, I have written a short article on university reform, which I had been invited to write for a newspaper, the only one to have a reputation for balance and honesty, by the name of Le Monde. They had insisted that I write this little page concerning the reorganization of psychiatry, concerning reform. Now, it is quite striking that despite this insistence this little article, which I will publish some day, did not get through.

恰巧地,我曾经应邀替报纸写了一篇讨论大学改革的短文。那是仅有的一家具有平衡及诚实报導的报纸,报纸名叫Le Monde。他们坚持我应该写这一篇短论,关於精神分析学系的重新规劃,以及关於大学的改革。现在,耐人寻味的是,儘管他们一再地坚持,这篇短论论当时並没有刊登。将来有一天,我会让它出版出来。

In it I speak of “ a reform in its hole.” Precisely, it was obviously a matter of using this whirlwind of a hole to take a number of measures concerning the university. And good heavens, by correctly referring to the terms of certain fundamental discourses one might have certain scruples, let’s say, about acting, one might look twice before jumping in to profit from the lines that have opened up. It is quite some responsibility to transport carrion down these corridors.


That is what our remarks today, which are not usually, not commonly said, must be linked up with.


This is like an apparatus. You should, at least, get the idea that it could be used as a lever, as a pair of pliers, that it can be screwed down, assembled in one way or another.


There are several terms. It’s no accident if I have given only these little letters here. It’s because I do not want to put things up that might give the appearance of signifying. I do not at all want to signify them, but to authorize them. Writing them is already to authorize them a bit more.


I have already discussed what constitutes the places in which these non-signifying things are inscribed, and I have already spelt out what it is that is the agent.


This term carries a connotation as if it were a sort of enigma of the French language—the agent is not at all necessarily someone who does but someone who is caused to act.


As a consequence, and as you may already suspect, it is not at all clear that the master functions. This, in all probability, defines the place of the master. This is the best thing one can ask oneself concerning him, and naturally people didn’t wait for me to do it. A certain Hegel had a go at it, though you have to take a closer look.


It is very irritating to think that there are perhaps not five people here who have fully read The Phenomenology of Spirit since I have been talking about. I won’t ask them to raise their hand.


It pisses me off that I have until now only come across two people who have read it completely, since I too, I have confess, have not peered into every corner. I have in mind my master, Alexandre Kojieve, who has demonstrated this a thousand times over, and one other person, of a kind that you won’t believe. The latter has truly read The Phenomenology of Spirit in an illuminating manner, to the extent that everything that might be in Kojeve’s notes, which I had and which I passed onto him, was truly superfluous.


What is unheard of is that, even though at one stage I wore myself out making people aware of the fact that The Critique of Practical Reason is manifestly a book of eroticism that is extraordinary more amusing than what Eric Losfeld has published, it has no kind of effect, and that, if I say to you that The phenomenology of Spirit is hysterically funny, well then, this won’t fare any better. And yet, that is what it is.



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