Desire 031 Jacques Lacan

Desire 031

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation

3.12.58 52
Seminar 4: 3 December 1958

Things are necessarily organised starting from this necessity, and all sorts of consequences are going to flow from this, that there is a topology which it is necessary and sufficient for us to conceive of as constituted by two superimposed chains, for us to account for it, but it is absolutely required in order that we should account for it, that there are these two superimposed chains, and it is towards this
that we are advancing.


Here at the level of Anna Freud’s dream, how do things appear?


It is true that they appear in a problematic, ambiguous fashion, which permits, which makes it legitimate up to a certain point for Freud to distinguish a difference between children’s dreams and adults dreams.


Where is the chain of nominations which makes up the dream of Anna Freud situated? On the upper chain or on the lower chain? It is a question regarding which you have been able to notice that the upper part of the graph represents this chain in a dotted form, putting the accent on the element of discontinuity of the signifier, while we represent the lower chain of the graph as continuous, and on the other hand I told you that of course in every process the two chains are involved.


(22) What does the lower chain mean at the level that we are posing the question? The lower chain at the level of demand, and in so far as I told you that the subject qua speaking took on this solidity borrowed from the synchronic solidarity of the
signifier, it is quite obvious that it is something that participates in the unity of the sentence, of this something which has made people talk and which gave rise to so much discussion, about the function of the sentence as holophrase in so far that is as the holophrase exists.


There is no doubt about it, the holophrase has a name: it is the interjection.


If you like, to illustrate at the level of the demand what the function of the lower chain represents, it is: “Foodl”, or “Helpl”; I am speaking about universal discourse, I am not talking about the child’s discourse for the moment. This form of sentence exists, I would even say that in certain cases it takes on a quite pressing and demanding value.


This is what is in question, it is the articulation of the sentence, it is the subject in so far as this need which of course must pass by way of the defiles of the signifier qua need, is expressed in a fashion which is deformed, but at least which is monolithic. except that the monolith that is in question, is the subject himself at this level which constitutes him.


What happens on the other line, is quite different. What can be (23) said about it is not easy to say, but for a good reason, which is that it is precisely what is at the basis of what happens on the first line, the lower one; but undoubtedly what we see, is that even in something which is given to us as being as primitive as this child’s dream, Anna Freud’s dream, something marks for us that here the subject is not simply constituted in the sentence and by the sentence, in the sense that when the
individual, or the crowd, or the mob cries: “Foodl”, one knows very well that in this case the whole weight of the message is on the emitter, I mean that it is the dominant element and one even knows that this cry just by itself is sufficient precisely in the
forms that I have just evoked, to constitute this emitter, as being well and truly a unique subject, even if it has a hundred mouths, a thousand mouths. It does not need to introduce itself, the sentence introduces it sufficiently.


Now all the same we find ourselves confronted with the following, that the human subject when he operates with language, takes himself into account, and to such a degree is it his primitive position that I do not know if you remember a certain text by Monsieur Binet, namely the difficulties that the subject has in going beyond this stage which I for my part find much more suggestive than any of the stages indicated by Monsieur Piaget, and this stage, I am not going to tell you about it because I do not want to get into details, appears as distinctive and consists in the fact that the (24) subject perceives that there is something wrong with the sentence: “I have three brothers, Paul, Ernest and me”.


Up to a fairly advanced stage this seems to him quite natural, and for a very good reason, because to tell the truth everything about the implication of the human subject in the act of speech is there: the fact is that he takes himself into account in it, that he
names himself in it, and that consequently this is what I might call the most natural the most coordinated expression.


The child simply has not found the proper formula which would obviously be the following: “We are three brothers, Paul, Ernest and me”, except that we would be very far from reproaching him for giving it the ambiguities of the function of being and
having. It is clear that a step must be taken in order that in sum what is in question, namely the distinction between the I qua subject of the enunciation and the I qua subject of the enunciating, can be made, because this is what is in question.


What is articulated at the level of the first line when we take the following step is the process of enunciation: in our dream of the other day: “he had died”. But when you announce something like that, in which I would point out to you in passing, the whole novelty of the dimension that the word introduces into the world, is already implied, because to be able to say: “He had died”, this cannot be said otherwise than in a completely different perspective to that of the statement (du dire) “He had died”, means absolutely nothing (ne veut absolument rien dire);


(25) “He had died”, means: he no longer exists, therefore there is no need to say it, he is no longer there in order to say he is dead, he must already be a being supported by the word. But no one is being asked to perceive this, of course, but simply on the
contrary the following, that the act of enunciating: “He had died”, usually requires in the discourse itself all sorts of reference points which are distinct from the reference points that are taken from the enunciation of the process.



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