Anxiety 257 Jacques Lacan

Anxiety 257

Jacques Lacan
雅克 拉康



1962 – 1963

12.6.63 XXII 258
Seminar 22: Wednesday 12 June 1963

For stories things function differently. But what does Piaget
call stories? I assure you that he has a way of transcribing the story of Niobe which is a pure scandal.


Because it does not seem even to occur to him that in speaking about Niobe, one is speaking about a myth and that there is perhaps a dimension of myth which imposes itself, which absolutely clings to the simple term which is put forward under this proper name Niobe, and that to transform it into a sort of emollient hogwash – I would ask you to consult this text which is simply incredible – one is proposing perhaps to the child something within his range, which is simply something which signals a profound deficit in the experimenter, Piaget himself, with regard to what are the functions of language.


If one is proposing a myth, let it be one, and not this vague little story: “Once upon a time there was a lady called Niobe who had twelve sons and twelve daughters.


She met a fairy who had only one son and no daughter; now the
lady mocked the fairy because she had only one boy; the fairy
then became angry and tied the lady to a rock. The lady cried
for ten years, and then she was changed into a stream, her tears had made a stream which still flows”.


This has really no equivalent except the two other stories that Piaget proposes, that of the little black boy who breaks his cake on the way out and melts the pat of butter on the return journey, and the still worse one of children transformed into swans, who remain all their lives separated from their parents because of this curse, but who, when they return, not alone find their (11) parents dead, but regaining their first shape – this is not indicated in the mythical dimension – in regaining their first shape, they have nevertheless aged. I do not know if there is a single myth which allows the aging process to continue during a


In a word, the invention of these stories of
Piaget have one thing in common with those of Binet in that they reflect the profound wickedness of every pedagogical position. I apologise to you for wandering off into this parenthesis.


Let us come back to my explanations. At least you will have
grasped in it this dimension noted by Piaget himself of this sort of wastage, of entropy, as I might put, of comprehension which is going to be necessarily degraded by the very fact of the explanation being necessarily verbal.


He himself notes to his great surprise that there is an enormous contrast between the explanations, when what is involved is an explanatory one like that, and what happens in his “stories”, “stories”, that I repeat I put in inverted commas. Because it is very probable that if the “stories” confirm his theory regarding the entropy, if I may express myself thus, of comprehension, it is precisely because they are not “stories”, and that, if they were “stories”, the true myth, there could probably be no wastage.


In any case, I for my part propose a little sign to you, it is that, when one of these children, when he has to repeat the story of Niobe, makes emerge, at the point that Piaget tells us that the lady had been tied to a rock – never, in any form, has the myth of Niobe articulated such a moment – of course, it is easy, playing, you will be told, on something misheard and on a pun, but why precisely this one makes emerge the dimension of a rock which has a stain, restoring the dimension that in my previous seminar I made emerge for you as being essential for the victim of sacrifice, that of not having any. But let us leave it.


It is of course not a proof, but simply a suggestion.
I return to my explanation and to the remark of Piaget that,
despite the defects of the explanation, I mean the fact that the explainer explains badly, the one to whom he is explaining
understands much better than the explainer, by his inadequate
explanations, bears witness to having understood. Of course here the explanation always arises: he himself does the work again.


Because how does he define the rate of understanding between
children? What the reproducer has understood?What the explainer has understood? (12) I do not know if you notice that there is one thing here that is never spoken about, it is what Piaget himself has understood!


It is nevertheless essential, because we do not leave the children to spontaneous language, namely to see what they understand.


Now it is clear that what Piaget seems not to have seen, is that his own explanation, from the point of view of anyone at all, of some other third person, cannot be understood at all. For as I told you earlier, if this little blocked tube here is switched on, thanks to something that Piaget gives all its importance to, the operation of the fingers which make the tap turn in such a way that the water can flow, does that mean that it flows?



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