Desire 027 Jacques Lacan

Desire 027

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation

3.12.58 52
Seminar 4: 3 December 1958

“My youngest daughter” – this is Anna Freud – “then nineteen months old, had an attack of vomiting one morning and had consequently been kept without food all day. During the night after this day of starvation she was heard calling out excitedly in her sleep: “Anna F-eud Erdbeer” – (which is the childish way of pronouncing strawberries) -” Hochbeer” – (which also means strawberries) – “Eir(s)peis” – which corresponds more or less to the word omelette – and finally “Papp” – (pudding). And Freud tell us: “At that time she was in the habit of using her own name to express the idea of taking possession of something.


The menu included pretty well everything that must have seemed to her to make up a desirable meal. The fact that strawberries appeared in it in two varieties” – Erdbeer and Hochbeer – I have not succeeded in placing Hochbeer, but Freud’s commentary indicates two varieties – “was a demonstration against the domestic health regulations.


It was based upon the circumstance, which she had no doubt observed, that her nurse had attributed her indisposition to a surfeit of strawberries. She was thus retaliating in her dream against this unwelcome verdict.” (SE j[ 130;GW 2/3 135). I leave to one side the dream of his nephew, (6) Hermann, which poses different problems. But on the contrary I am happy to draw attention to a little note which is not in the
first edition because it was elaborated in the course of discussions, namely feedback from his pupils, to which Ferenczi contributed by bringing to the rescue the proverb which says the following: “Pigs dream of acorns and geese dream of maize”, and
in the text also Freud had then at that time also drawn attention to a proverb which, I believe, is not so much taken from the German context given the way maize is written: “What do geese dream of? – Of maize.”; and finally the Jewish proverb: “What do
hens dream of? – Of millet”.


We are going to dwell on this, we are even going to begin by making a little parenthesis, because when all is said and done it is at this level that there must be taken the problem which I evoked last night in connection with Granoff’s communication on the essential problem, namely the difference between the directive of pleasure and the directive of desire.


Let us go back a little on the directive of pleasure, and once and for all, as rapidly as possible let us dot the i’s. Obviously, this has also the closest relationship with the
questions which are posed to me or which are posed in connection with the function which I give, in what Freud called the primary processes, to the Vorstellunq.


To state it quickly, this is only a detour, you must have a clear idea of this: the fact is that (7) in a way by entering into this problem of the function of the Vorstellunq, into the pleasure principle, Freud cuts things short, in short we could say that he is lacking an element to reconstruct what he perceived in his intuition. Indeed it must be said that what is proper to intuitions of genius is to introduce into thought something which up to then had absolutely not been perceived; we do not perceive at all what is original in this distinction of the primary process as being something’ separate from the secondary process. We can always go on thinking like that that it is something which is in a way comparable through the idea that it is in the internal agency in so far as in their synthesis, in their composition this has absolutely no role to play.


The primary process signifies the presence of desire, but not just any desire, of desire where it presents itself as most fragmented, and the perceptual element that is in question, this is how Freud is going to explain things, is going to make us understand what is in question.


In sum remember the first schemas that Freud gives us about what happens when the primary process alone is in operation. The primary process, when it alone is in operation, culminates in hallucination, and this hallucination is something which is
produced by a process of regression, of regression which he calls very precisely topical regression.


Freud constructed several (8) schemas of what motivates, of what structures the primary process. But they all have the following in common that they presuppose as their foundation, something which is for him the circuit of the reflex arc, a way of receiving and discharging something which is called sensation; a way of receiving and
discharging something which is called motor activity.


On this path, in what I would call a terribly questionable way, perception is placed as something which accumulates, which accumulates somewhere on the side of the sensorial part, of the influx of excitation, of the stimulus from the external milieu,
and being placed at this origin of what happens in the act, all sorts of other things are supposed to come afterwards, and namely it is there that he would insert the whole series of super – imposed layers which go from the unconscious passing through the
preconscious and the rest, to end up here at something which passes or which does not pass towards motor activity.


Let us see clearly what is in question every time he speaks to us about what is happening in the primary process. A regressive movement occurs. It is always when the door towards the motor activity of the excitation is for some reason or other barred, that there is produced something which is of the regressive order and that there appears a Vorstellung, something which is found to give to the excitation in question a properly speaking hallucinatory satisfaction.


Here is the novelty that is introduced by Freud. (9) This is worthwhile literally above all if one thinks of the order, of the quality of articulation of the schemas that are in
question, they are schemas which are put forward because of their functional value, I mean to establish – Freud states it expressly – a sequence, a succession which he underlines is still more important moreover to consider as a temporal sequence than as a spatial sequence.



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