Archive for February, 2011

Desire 027 Jacques Lacan

February 25, 2011

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.



Desire 026 Jacques Lacan

February 24, 2011

Desire 026

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation

3.12.58 52
Seminar 4: 3 December 1958

I left you the last day with a dream, this extremely simple dream, at least in appearance. I told you that we would work on it or in connection with it, in order to articulate the proper meaning that we give to this term of dream-desire, and the
meaning of what an interpretation is. We are going to take this up again. I think that on the theoretical plane it also has its value.


These days I have become immersed in re-reading, after having done it so many times, this Interpretation of dreams which I told you was the first thing we were going to query this year in connection with desire and its interpretation, and I must say
that up to a certain point I found myself making this reproach that it is a book, and this is well known, whose ins-and-outs are (2) very badly known in the analytic community. I would say that this reproach, indeed like any reproach, has a kind of other aspect which is an aspect of excuse, because to tell the truth it is still not enough to have gone over it hundreds and hundreds of times in order to retain it, and I think that there is here a phenomenon – this has struck me more especially these days – that
we are very familiar with.


In fact every one knows the way in which everything which concerns the unconscious is forgotten, I mean for example that it is very tangible, in a very significant way, and really inexplicable, without the Freudian perspective, how one forgets funny stories, good jokes, what are called witticisms. You are meeting some friends and someone makes a witty remark, or even tells a funny story, makes a pun at the beginning of the meeting or at the end of lunch, and then when you are having your coffee you say to yourself: what did that person on my right say just now that was so funny? And you cannot get hold of it. It is almost a stamp that what is precisely a witticism escapes to the unconscious.


When one reads or re-reads The interpretation of dreams, one has the impression I would say of a magical book, if the word magical did not unfortunately lend itself in our vocabulary to so much ambiguity, or even error. One really goes through The
interpretation of dreams like a book of the unconscious, and that is why one has so much trouble, in holding together something (3) which is so articulated. I think that there is here a phenomenon which deserves to be pointed out at this point, and
especially the fact is that there is added to this the really almost senseless deformation of the French translation, and the more I go on the more I find that all the same one cannot really excuse its blatant inexactitudes.


Some of you are asking me for explanations, and I refer immediately to the texts. There is in the fourth part of the chapter on dream-work, a section entitled “Considerations of representability” whose French translation from the first page is more than a tissue of inexactitudes, and has no relationship with the German text. That is confusing and upsetting. I will not go on about it.


Obviously all of this does not make the access of French readers to The interpretation of dreams especially easy.


To return to our dream of the last day which we began to decipher in a fashion which did not perhaps appear very easy to you, but was all the same intelligible, at least I hope so. To see clearly what is in question, to articulate it in function of our graph, we are going to begin with a few remarks.


It is a question therefore of knowing if a dream interests us in the sense that it interested Freud, in the sense of the fulfilment of desire. Here desire and its interpretation is first of all desire in its function in the dream, in so far as
the dream is its fulfilment. How are we going to be able to (4) articulate it?


I am going first of all to put forward another dream, a first dream which I gave you and whose exemplary value you will see.


It is really not well known, you have to go looking for it in a corner. There is there a dream whose existence is known to everybody: it is at the beginning of Chapter III which is entitled “A dream is the fulfilment of a wish”, and it deals with the dreams of children in so far as they are put forward as what I would call a first state of desire in the dream.


The dream that is in question is here, from the first edition of the Traumdeutung, and it is given to us at the beginning of his appellation before his then readers, Freud tells us, as the question of the dream. One must also see this aspect of exposition, of development in the Traumdeutung, which explains a lot of things for us, in particular that things may be put forward first of all in a sort of massive way, which involves a
certain approximation.


When one does not examine this passage very attentively, one remains at what he says about the direct, undeformed, non-Enstellunq’d character of the dream; this simply
designating the general form which ensures that the dream appears in an aspect which is profoundly modified with respect to its deeper content, its thought content, while in the case of the child it is supposed to be simple: here desire is supposed to go (5) directly in the most direct fashion to what it desires, and Freud gives us several examples of it, and the first one of course naturally is worth retaining because it really gives us its formula.



Desire 025 Jacques Lacan

February 24, 2011

Desire 025

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation

1958 – 1959
Seminar 3 ; 26 November 1958

But this is not enough, we must also distinguish how and why the dream here makes use of these elements which without any doubt are repressed, but precisely there at a level at which they are not, namely where the immediately antecedent experience brought them into play as such, as clausulae, and where far from being repressed, the dream elides them; why?


To produce a certain effect of what? I would say of something which is not so simple
either because in short it is to produce a signification, there is no doubt, and we see that the same elision of the same wish may have according to different structures, quite different effects. In order simply to awaken a little, to stimulate your curiosity, I would like simply to remark to you that there is perhaps a relationship between the same elision and the same (35) clausula, “in consequence of his wish” and the fact that in other contexts which are not those of the dream, but of psychosis for example, this can culminate at the méconnaissance of death.


The “he did not know”, or “he did not want to know anything about it” being articulated simply differently with the “he had died”, or even in a still different context, have perhaps the interest of being distinguished at first sight, as the Verwerfung is distinguished from the Verneinunq.


In this instance this can culminate at so – called feelings of invasion, of eruption, or at these fruitful moments of psychosis where the subject thinks that he has before him effectively something much closer again to the dream image than we can even expect, namely that he has before him someone who is dead, that he is living with a dead person, and simply that he is living with a dead person who does not know that he is dead, and we could even say perhaps up to a certain point, that in quite normal life, the one that we live every day, it can happen perhaps more often than we believe, that we have in our presence someone who while having all the appearances of a socially satisfying behaviour, is someone who at the same time desires for example from the point of view of interest, from the point of view of what permits us to be in accord with a human being, is well and truly, we know more than one of them, from the moment that I point it out to you seek it out in your relationships, someone who is well and truly dead, and a long (36) time dead, dead and mummified, who is only waiting for a little tip of something or other like it, to be reduced to that sort of woodenness which will bring about his end.


Is it not also true that in the presence of this something which after all is perhaps much more diffusely present than one thinks in subject-to-subject relationships, namely that there is also this aspect of half-death, and that what is half-dead in all
sorts of living beings, is also something which leaves our conscience quite tranquil, and that a large part of our behaviour with our neighbours is something perhaps which we must take into account when we take on the charge of listening to the discourses, the confidences, the free discourse of a subject in the analytic experience, it produces perhaps in us a reaction much more important to measure, always much more present,
effective, essential which in ourselves corresponds to this sort of precaution that we must take in order not to remark to the half-dead person that where he is, where he is in the process of speaking to us, he is half the prey of death, and this also because in our case intervening on this subject or taking such an audacious approach would also have some consequences for us, which are very precisely those against which we are defending ourselves the most, namely what is most fictitious, most repeated
in us, namely also half death.


(37) In short, you see, that rather than being answered the questions are multiplying, to the point that we arrive at the end of this discourse today, and without any doubt if this dream should bring you something about the question of the relationships of the subject to desire, it is because it has a value which should not surprise us, given that its protagonists, namely a father, a son, the presence of death, and as you will see, the relationship to desire. It is not by chance then that we have chosen this example and that we will have to exploit it again next time.



The Hollow Man
By T.S. Eliot

T.S. 艾略特

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar


Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;


Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us — if at all — not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Desire 024 Jacques Lacan

February 24, 2011

Desire 024

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation

1958 – 1959
Seminar 3 ; 26 November 1958

This is linked to all sorts of experiments which have been carried on with great
(30) perseverance by a school called the Wurzburg school, called the school of imageless thought, and a kind of intuition that in the work of this school which was carried out in a completely closed little circle of psychologists, they were led to think
without images these kinds of forms which are different to just signifying forms without a context and at the nascent state, to the notion of Vorstellunq, and very specially in connection with the problems which we are facing here make it worth while remembering that for two years Freud, and we have unambiguous proof of this, attended Brentano’s classes, and that Brentano’s psychology, in so far as it gives a certain conception of the Vorstellunqs is indeed there to indicate the exact weight that
the term Vorstellunq could have taken on in Freud’s mind, and not simply in my interpretation.


The problem is precisely of the relationship that there is between repression, if repression is said to apply exactly and as such to something that is of the order of the Vorstellunq, and on the other hand this fact of something which is nothing other than
the appearance of a new meaning which is different for us at the point that we are progressing to, which is different from the fact of repression, which is what we can call in the context, in the context of the preconscious, the elision of two clausulae. Is (31) this elision the same thing as repression? Is it exactly its counterpart, its contrary?

這個難題確實是屬於關係的難題,處於壓抑跟道道地地是一個新意義的出現之間的關係。假如壓抑據說可以確實地運用,本身能夠被運用到某件屬於「理念」的秩序。在另一方面,這件事實,某件東西道道地地就是新的意義的出現。 對於我們而言,這個意義在這一點上不同,我們逐漸進步的這一點。這是不同於壓抑的這個事實。後者就是我們所謂的內涵,在前意識到內涵, 兩個「多聲喧嘩」的省略。 這個省略跟壓抑是同一件事嗎?它確實是它的副本,或是它的相反?

What is the effect of this elision? It is clear that it is an effect of meaning, I mean
that in order for us to explain ourselves on the most formal plane, we should consider this elision, and I say elision and not allusion, it is not, to use everyday language, a representation (une figuration), this dream does not make allusions, far from
it, to what has gone before it, namely to the relationships of the son to the father, it introduces something which sounds absurd, which has its import as signification on the manifest, quite original plane. It is indeed a question of a figura verborum, of a figure of speech, of terms, to use the same term which is the counterpart of the first, it is a question of an elision, and this elision produces a signified effect; this elision is equivalent to a substitution for the missing terms of a plane, of a zero, but a zero is not nothing and the effect in question could be qualified as a metaphorical effect.


The dream is a metaphor. In this metaphor something new arises which is a meaning, a signified, a signified which is no doubt enigmatic, but which is all the same something that we have to take into account as being I would say one of the most essential forms of human experience, because it is this very image which for
centuries put human beings, at one or other turn in their grief at their existence, on the more or less hidden paths which led (32) them to the necromancer and what he gave rise to in the circle of incantation was this something called a shade, before which there happened nothing other than what happened in this dream, namely this being which exists there without one knowing how he exists, and before whom literally one can say nothing, because he of course speaks. But it does not matter, I would say that up to a certain point what he says is also what he does not say.


We are not even told it in the dream, this word only takes on its value from the fact that the one who has called the beloved being from the kingdom of shades can tell him literally nothing of what is truly in his heart.


This confrontation, this structured scene, this scenario, does it not suggest to us in itself that we should try to situate its import? What is it? Has it this fundamental structured and structuring value that I am trying to define for you this year
under the name of phantasy? Is it a phantasy? Are there a certain number of characteristics required in order that in such a presentation, in such a scenario, that in this scenario we should recognise the characteristics of phantasy?


This is a first question which unfortunately we can only begin to articulate the next time. You should understand that we will give it quite precise replies, which will allow us to approach (33) the way in which effectively it is a phantasy, and the way
it is a dream-phantasy, namely, I articulate it for you right away, a phantasy which has very particular forms, I mean that a dream-phantasy, in the sense that we can give a precise sense to this word phantasy, has not the same import as a waking phantasy,
whether it is unconscious or not.


Here is a first point on which I will give a reply the next time, to the question that is posed here.


The second point, is in connection with and beginning from this, namely from this articulation of the function of phantasy, how we should conceive where there lies the incidence of what one can call, of what Freud called the mechanisms of the dream-work, namely its relationships on the one hand with the supposedly
antecedent repression, and the relationship of this repression with the signifiers regarding which I have shown you the degree to which Freud isolated them and articulated the incidence of their absence in terms of pure signifying relationship.


These signifiers, I mean the relationships there exist between the signifiers of the narrative: “He had died”, on the one hand; “he did not know it” on the other hand; “in consequence of his wish” in the third place. We will try to position them to place
them, to make them function on the lines, the paths of the chains which are called respectively the chain of the subject and signifying chain, as they are here posed, repeated, insisting (34) before us in the form of our graph, and you will see both
the use that can be made of this which is nothing other than the topological position of elements and of relationships without which there is no possible functioning of discourse, and how only the notion of structures which allow this functioning of
discourse can also allow us to give a meaning to the fact that the two clausulae in question can be said up to a certain point, to be really the content, as Freud says, the reality, the “real verdranqten” , what is really repressed.



Desire 023 Jacques Lacan

February 23, 2011

Desire 023

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation

1958 – 1959
Seminar 3 ; 26 November 1958

They are given as such, and as the fact that putting them in place, their adaptation in the text, gives the meaning of this text.


Please understand what I am saying. I am not saying that this is interpretation, and in effect it is perhaps interpretation, but I (26) am not saying it yet, I am suspending you at this moment where a certain signifier is designated as being produced by its lack.


What is the phenomenon of the dream that is in question?


It is by replacing it in the context of the dream that we accede right away to something which is given as being the understanding of the dream, namely that the subject finds himself in the familiar case, this reproach by which one reproaches oneself about someone who is loved, and this reproach leads us back in this example to the infantile signification of the death wish.


We are here therefore before a typical case where the term transference, Übertragung, is employed in the primitive sense that it is first used in the Interpretation of dreams. It is a question of carrying forward something which is an original situation, the original death-wish on this occasion, into some different, current thing, which is an analogous, homologous, parallel wish which is similar in some fashion or other, and
introduces itself to revive this archaic wish that is in question.


It is naturally worthwhile dwelling on this, because it is starting from there simply that we can first try to elaborate what interpretation means, because we have left to one side the interpretation of “wishful”.


To complete this interpretation there is only one remark to be made. If we are unable to translate wishful thinking by “pensée désireuse, pensée désirante” it is for a very simple reason: (27) It is that if “wishful thinking” has a meaning, of course it has a meaning, but it is employed in a context in which this meaning is not valid. If you wish to test every time that this term is employed, the suitability, the pertinence of the term “wishful thinking”, you only have to make the distinction that “wishful thinking” does not mean taking one’s desire for reality, as it is put, it is the meaning that thinking in so far as it slides, as it bends, therefore one should not attribute to this
term the signification: taking one’s desires for reality, as it is usually expressed, but taking one’s dream for reality, on this one condition precisely that it is quite inapplicable to the interpretation of the dream, because this simply means on this
occasion if my dream, is to this type of understanding of the dream, this simply means in this case that one has dreamed, in other words that one dreams because one dreams, and this indeed is the reason why this interpretation at this level is in no way
applicable at any time to a dream.

為了完成這個解釋,只有一個談論應該被從事。假如我們不能夠將「pensée désireuse, pensée désirante」,翻譯「一廂情願」,理由很簡單:假如「一廂情願」有一個意義,當然它就有一個意義。但是它被運用在某一個內容裏。在這個內容,這個意義並沒有根據。假如你們希望測試一下,每當這個術語被運用,「一廂情願」這個術語是否適合,是否中肯。你們所需要的,就是做這個區別,「一廂情願」並不意味著,將我們的欲望充當是現實界,如一般所說的。它的意思是:因為思想會滑溜,會彎曲,因此我們不應該將這個意義:將我們的欲望充當是現實界,如通常所表達的,歸屬於這個術語。而是要將我們的夢,充當是現實界。這確實是根據這個條件:它完全無法被運用到夢的解釋。因為在這個場合,這僅是意味著,假如我的夢,適用於這種夢的瞭解,這僅僅意味著,在我們作夢的這個情況,換句話說,我們作夢,是因為我們作夢。這確實是這個理由,為什麼這個層次的這個解釋,根本無法應用到任何其他時間的夢。

We must then come to the procedure described as the adding on of signifiers, which presupposes the previous subtraction of the signifier; I am speaking about what is presupposed in Freud’s text, subtraction being at that moment exactly the meaning of the term that he makes use of to designate the operation of repression in its pure form, I would say in its Unterdranqunq (28) effect.


It is then that we find ourselves brought to a halt by something which as such, presented for us an objection and an obstacle, which if we had not decided in advance to find everything good, namely if we had not decided in advance to believe, to believe as Monsieur Prevert says, one should all the same dwell on the following: that the pure and simple restoration of these two terms: “nach seinem Wunsch” and
“dass er es wunschte”, namely that the son wished for this death of his father, the simple restoration of two clausulae from the point of view of what Freud himself designates to us as the final goal of interpretation, namely the re-establishment of unconscious desire, gives us strictly nothing because in that case what is restored?

因此,我們發現我們自己被某件東西擋住。這個的東西的本身被呈現給予我們,作為一種反對,及一種阻礙。假如我們沒有事先決定,要找出每一樣好的東西,換句話說,假如我們沒有事先決定要相信,要相信,如變態狂先生所說的,我們仍然應該詳述以下的內容:這兩個術語,「nach seinem Wunsch」及「dass er es wunschte」,純粹而簡單地恢復。換句話說,兒子希望他的父親的死亡。從佛洛伊德自己跟我們指明,作為解釋的最後目標,這個觀點具有的兩個多聲喧嘩,簡單地被恢復。換句話說,無意識欲望的重新被建立,根本沒有給予我們任何東西。因為在那種情況,什麼東西被恢復?

It is something that the subject knows perfectly well. During the extremely painful illness, the subject had effectively wished for his father’s death as being the solution and the end of his torment and his pain, and effectively of course he did not show
him, he did everything to hide from him, the desire, the wish which was in its context, in its recent experienced context, perfectly accessible to him. There is no need even in this connection to speak about preconsciousness but of conscious memory, perfectly accessible to the continued text of awareness.


Therefore if the dream subtracts from the text something which is (29) in no way removed from the consciousness of the subject, if it subtracts it, it is, as I might say, this phenomenon of subtraction which takes on a positive value, I mean that this is
the problem, it is the relationship of repression, in so far as without any doubt it is a question here of Vorstellungs – reprasentanz, and even a quite typical one, because if anything merits this term, it is precisely something which is, I would say in itself, a form empty of meaning “as he wished”, isolated in itself. This means nothing, this means “as he wished”, that we have previously spoken about, that he wished what?


This also depends on the sentence which comes before, and this is the direction in which I want to lead you to show you the irreducible character of what we are dealing with compared to any conception which arises out of the sort of imaginary elaboration, even the abstraction of the objectal data of a field, when it is a question of the signifier and what is supposed to be the originality of the field which, in the psyche, in experience, in the human subject, is established by it and by the action of the


This is what we have, these signifying forms which in themselves cannot be conceived of, cannot be sustained excepted in so far as they are articulated with other signifiers, and this in fact is what is in question. I know that I am here getting into something which would suppose a much longer articulation than anything we are dealing with.



Desire 022 Jacques Lacan

February 23, 2011

Desire 022

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation

1958 – 1959
Seminar 3 ; 26 November 1958

What can be extracted from the totality of Freud’s work concerning the relationships of this Vorstellunqsreprasentanz (22) with the primary process, is not open to any kind of doubt. If the primary process is entitled in so far as it is subject to the first principle, which is called the pleasure principle, there is no other way of conceiving the opposition which is marked in Freud between the pleasure principle and the reality
principle, except by perceiving that what is given to us as the hallucinatory arousal in which the primary process, namely desire at the level of the primary process, finds its satisfaction, does not simply concern an image, but something which is a signifier,
it is moreover a surprising thing that this was not noticed in other ways, I mean starting from clinical observation.


One It was never noticed in other ways, it seems, precisely to the degree that the notion of signifier was something which was not elaborated at the time of the great expansion of classical psychiatry, because after all in the massiveness of clinical
experience, under what forms are there presented to us the major, problematic, most insistant forms in which there are posed for us the question of hallucination, if not in verbal hallucinations or in verbal structures, namely in the intrusion, the immixtion in
the field of the real not of something indifferent, not of an image, not of a phantasy, not of what is often simply supposed to support hallucinatory processes?


But if an hallucination poses us problems which are proper to (23) itself, it is because it is a question of signifiers and not of images, not of causes, not of perceptions, indeed of false perceptions of the real as people say it is. But at Freud’s level there is no doubt about this and precisely at the end of this article,- to illustrate what he calls der neurotischen Wahrung (SE 12 225;GW Q 238), namely – it is a term to retain,
the word Wahrung means to last; it is not very common in German, it is linked to the verb wahren which is a durative form of the verb wahren, and this idea of duration, of valorisation, because it is its most common usage: if the word Wahrung refers to
duration, the most common usage which is made up of it, is value, valorisation – to talk to us about a properly neurotic valorisation, namely in so far as the primary process erupts into it, Freud takes as an example a dream, and here is this dream.


It is the dream of a subject who is mourning for his father, who had, he tells us, nursed him through a long and painful mortal illness.


This dream is presented as follows: “His father was alive once more and he was talking to him in his usual way. But he felt it exceedingly painful that his father had really died, only without knowing it.” (SE 12 225) It is a short dream, it is a dream
which as always, Freud tackles at the level of its transcription, because the essential of Freudian analysis is always based on the (24) narrative of the dream, first of all in so far as it is articulated.


This dream then was repeated insistently in the months which followed the death of his father, and how is Freud going to tackle it?


There is no doubt of course that Freud never thought at any time that a dream, if only because of this distinction that he always made between the manifest content and the latent content, in referring himself immediately to what can be called and which one
does not fail to call at every instant in analysis by this term which has not, I think, an equivalent, of wishful thinking.


It is this that I would almost like to give back some sound of equivalence with alarm. This just by itself should make an analyst suspicious, even defensive, and persuade him that he is taking the wrong road.


There is no doubt that for a moment Freud teases this “wishful”,, and tells us that it is simply because he needs to see his father and that that makes him happy, because it is not at all enough, for the simple reason that it does not seem at all to be a satisfaction, and that this happens with the elements and in a context whose painful character is sufficiently marked, to make us avoid this sort of precipitous step which I mention here to show that at the limit it is possible.


When all is said and done I do not think that a single analyst could go that far when
it is a question of a dream. But it is precisely because one (25) cannot go so far when it is a question of a dream, that psychoanalysts are no longer interested in dreams.
How does Freud tackle things? We will stay with his text:


“The only way,” he writes in this article, right at the end, “the only way of understanding this apparently nonsensical dream is by adding as the dreamer wished’ or in consequence of his wish’ after the words that his father had really died’, and by further adding that he (the dreamer) wished it’ to the last words. The dream-thought then runs: it was a painful memory for him that he had been obliged to wish for his father’s death ……. and how terrible it would have been if his father had had any suspicion of it !”


This leads you to give its weight to the fashion that Freud treats the problem. It is a signifier. These are things which are clausulae (?) and we are going to try to articulate on the linguistic plane what they are, the exact value of what is given here as permitting access to the understanding of the dream.



Desire 021 Jacques Lacan

February 23, 2011

Desire 021

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
1958 – 1959

Seminar 3 ; 26 November 1958

This is articulated in Freud. It is not enough for him to articulate it once, he articulates it a hundred times, and in every connection he comes back to it. It is precisely here that there enters in the enigma of what is called the transformation (18) of this affect, of what proves in this connection to be particularly plastic, and that by which all the authors moreover once they approach this question of affect, namely every time they see it, have been struck, I mean to the extent that no one dares to touch the question, because what is altogether striking is that I who practice an intellectualist psychoanalysis, am going to spend the year talking about it, but that on the
contrary you can count on the fingers of one hand the articles in analysis devoted to the question of affect, even though psychoanalysts are always full of it when they are talking about a clinical observation, because of course they always have recourse to affect.


There is to my knowledge a single worthwhile article on this question of affect, it is an article by Glover which is spoken about a good deal in the writings of Marjorie Brierley. There is in this article an attempt to take a step forward in the exploration of this notion of affect which leaves something to be desired in what Freud said on the subject.


This article is moreover detestable, like the whole of this book which, devoting itself to what are called the tendencies of psychoanalysis, gives a rather nice illustration of all the really impossible places that psychoanalysis is trying to lodge itself, in passing by morality, personalism, and other such eminently practical perspectives around which the blah of our epoch likes to spend itself.


On the contrary if we come back here to the things which concern us, namely to serious things, what do we read in Freud? We read the following: the affect; the problem is to know what becomes of it, in so far as it is disconnected from the repressed representation, and it thenceforth depends only on the substitutive representation which it is able to become attached to.


To what is disconnected there corresponds this possibility of annexation which is its property, and which is the way the affect presents itself in analytic experience as something problematic, which ensures for example that in the living experience of a hysteric, it is from this that analysis starts, it is from this that Freud starts when he begins to articulate analytic truths; it is that an affect arises in the ordinary,
comprehensible, communicable text of the everyday experience of a hysteric and the fact that this affect is there, which moreover seems to fit in with the totality of the text, except to a more exigent eye, this affect which is there is the transformation of
something else, and it is something which deserves that we should dwell on it; of something which is not another affect, which might be supposed to be in the unconscious.


This Freud denies absolutely. There is absolutely nothing like that, it is the
transformation of the purely quantitative factor; there is absolutely nothing which at that moment is really in the (20) unconscious this quantitative factor in a transformed form, and the whole question is to know how these transformations in the affect are possible, namely for example how an affect which is in the depths is conceivable in the restored unconscious text as being such and such, presents itself in a different form when it appears in the preconscious context.


What does Freud tell us?


First text: “The whole difference arises from the fact that ideas (Vorstellungs) are cathexis – basically of memory traces – whilst affects and emotions correspond to processes of discharge, the final manifestations of which are perceived as feeling.” (SE 14 178;GW 10 277) Such is the rule for the formation of affects.


It is also indeed the fact that as I told you, the affect refers to the quantitative factor of the drive, the one in which he understands that it is not just movable, mobile, but subject to the variable which constitutes this factor, and he again articulates it precisely in saying that its fate can be threefold: “Either the affect remains, wholly or in part, as it is; or it is transformed into a qualitatively different quota of affect, above all into anxiety;” – this is what he writes in 1915, and one sees there the beginnings of a position which the article Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety will articulate in the
topology – “or it is suppressed, i.e. it is prevented from (21) developing at all.”


“But in comparison with unconscious ideas (Vorstellunqsreprasentanz),” he tells us,” there is the important difference that unconscious ideas continue to exist after repression as actual structures in the system Ucs, whereas all that corresponds
in that system to unconscious affects is a potential beginning which is prevented from developing”, writes Freud.


This is an altogether inevitable preamble before entering into the mode in which I intend here to pose the question connected with the interpretation of desire in the dream. I told you that for that I would take a dream from Freud’s text, because after
all it is still the best guide to be sure about what he intends to say when he speaks about the desire of the dream.


We are going to take a dream which I will borrow from this article which is called “Formulierungen”, “Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning”, from 1911, which appeared just before the Schreber case.


I take this dream and the fashion in which Freud speaks of it and treats it, from this article, because it is articulated there in a simple, exemplary, significant, unambiguous fashion and to show how Freud understand the manipulation of these Vorstellungsreprasentanz, in so far as it is a question of the formulation of
unconscious desire.




February 22, 2011







Desire 020 Jacques Lacan

February 22, 2011

Desire 020

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
1958 – 1959

Seminar 3 ; 26 November 1958

I think that this is sufficient to show you this agency of the signifier, in so far as it is at the basis of the very structuring of a certain psychological field which is not the
totality of the psychological field, which is precisely this part of the psychological field which to a certain degree is by convention within what we can call psychology, to the degree that psychology is constituted on the basis of what I would call a
sort of unitary intentional or appetitive theory of the field.


This presence of the signifier, is articulated, is articulated in an infinitely more insistent, infinitely more powerful, infinitely more efficacious way in the Freudian experience, and this is what Freud reminds us of at every instant, it is also (14) what tends to be forgotten in the most exceptional way, in so far as you want to make of analysis something which would go in the same direction, in the same sense as the one in which psychology has come to situate its interest, I mean in the sense of the clinical field, of an intentional field where the unconscious is supposed to be something like a kind of well, a borehole as one might say, parallel to the general evolution of psychology and which is also supposed to go by another way to the
level of these most elementary tensions, to the level of the depths, in so far as there occurs something more reduced to the vital, to the elementary aspect of what we see at the surface which is supposed to be the so-called field of the preconscious or the conscious.


This, I repeat, is an error. It is very precisely in this sense that everything that we are saying takes on its value and its importance, and if some of you were able the last time to follow my advice and refer to the two articles which appeared in 1915,
what were you able to read there? You were able to read and to see the following: that if you refer for example to the article “Das Unbewusste”, the point which is most tangible in it, to the point I would say against which in a superficial description in
which it would be a question of something other than signifying elements, of things which those who understand absolutely nothing about what I am saying here, articulate and call every day an (15) intellectualist theory.


We will therefore go and put ourselves at the level of unconscious emotions, since Freud speaks about them, because of course it is naturally objected to all of this that instead of speaking about the signifier, this is not emotional life, this is not dynamic. I am of course far from wanting to contest this because it is to explain it in a clear
fashion that I take this route to the level of the Unbewusste.


What do you see Freud articulating for us? He articulates for us very exactly the following: it is the third part of “Das Unbewusste”; Freud explains the following very clearly, that the only thing that can be repressed, he tells us, is what is called


It is only this, he tells us which can properly speaking be repressed. This therefore means a representative, in the representation of what? Of the instinctual movement which is called here Triebrequng. There is no ambiguity possible in the text at this point. He tells us explicitly that the Triebrequng, itself in any case, is a concept
and as such aims at what can even be called more precisely the unity of instinctual motion, and in this case there is no question of considering this Triebrequng, as either unconscious or as conscious.


This is what is said in the text. What does that mean? That simply means that we should take what we call Triebrequng as an (16) objective concept. It is an objective unity in so far as we look at it, and it is neither conscious nor unconscious, it is
simply what it is, an isolated fragment of reality which we will conceive of as having an incidence from its own action.


It is only all the more remarkable in my opinion that it should be its representative in the representation. This is the exact value of the German term, and only this representative of the drive that is in question, Trieb, can be said to belong to the
unconscious in so far as it precisely implies what I set out above with a question mark, namely an unconscious subject. I do not have to go much further here, I mean that you should begin to sense, it is precisely to specify what is this representative in the representation, and of course you see already, not where I want to get to, but where we necessarily get to, namely that the Vorstellunqsreprasentanz, even though Freud in his time and at the point that things could be said in scientific discourse this Vorstellunqsreprasentanz is strictly equivalent to the notion and to the term of signifier.


It is nothing else, even though it is only being introduced, and of course the demonstration has, it seems to me, already been introduced, because otherwise what is
the use of everything that I said above. This of course will always be further demonstrated, this is precisely what is in question.


That Freud on the contrary is opposed to this, is also articulated in the most precise fashion by himself. What does Freud say about everything that can be connoted under the terms of feelings, emotion, affect, which he himself reunites? He says that it is by a carelessness of expression which has, or which cannot, or which is not according to the context, some difficulties, like every carelessness, but there is a certain looseness when one says that it is unconscious. In principle, he says, it never can be, he formally denies it any possibility of an unconscious incidence.


This is expressed and repeated in a way which involves no doubt, no kind of ambiguity. Affect, as in talking about an unconscious affect, this means that it is perceived, but known; but known in what way? In its attachments, but not that it is unconscious, because it is always perceived, he tells us, simply it has gone and attached itself to another representation, which is not repressed. In other words, it had to accommodate itself to the context existing in the preconsciousness, which allows it to be considered by consciousness, which on occasion is not difficult, as a manifestation of its last context.



Desire 019 Jacques Lacan

February 22, 2011

Desire 019

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
1958 – 1959

Seminar 3 ; 26 November 1958

But if this is still not enough for you, I will complete this parenthesis because I want to do it to recall to you on what the associationist theory is founded, and on the basis of this experience, what happens afterwards, what is coordinated in the mind of a subject at such a level, where to take up again the exploration as it is carried on in this first experimental relationship, the elements, the atoms, the ideas as they say, no
doubt approximately, inadequately, this first relationship, presents itself, not without reason, in this form.


How, we are told, do these ideas make their entry at the origin?


It is a question of relationships of continuity. Go and see, follow the texts, see what is spoken about, the examples on which it is based, and you will recognise perfectly that the continuity is nothing other than this discursive Combination on which there is based the effect that we call here metonymy. Continuity no doubt between two things which have arisen in so far as they are (10) evoked in memory on the plane of laws of association.


What does that mean? This signifies how an event has been lived in a context which we could broadly speaking call a random context. A part of the event having been evoked, the other will come to mind constituting an association of continuity, which is
nothing other than an encounter. What does that mean? That means in sum that it is broken up, that its elements are caught up in the same narrative text. It is in so far as the event evoked in memory is a narrated event, that the narration forms its text, that we can speak at this level about continuity.


A continuity moreover which we distinguish for example in a word-association experiment. One word will come with another:


If in connection with the word “cherry” I evoke obviously the word “table”, this will be a relationship of continuity because on such a day there were cherries on the table.


But a relationship of continuity if we speak of something which is nothing other than a relationship of similarity. Even a relationship of similarity, is also always a relationship of signifiers in so far as the similarity is the passage from one to the other by a similarity which is a similarity of being, which is a similarity of one to the other, between one and the other in so far as one being different to the other, there is some subject (11) of being which makes them alike.


I am not going to go into the whole dialectic of the same and the other, with all its difficulties and the infinitely greater richness than there appears there at first glance. I refer those who are interested in this to Parmenides, and they will see that they will spend some time there before exhausting the question.


What I am simply saying here and what I want you to experience, is, because I spoke above about cherries, that in connection with this word there are other usages besides the metonymical usage, I would say precisely to serve a metaphorical usage, I can use it to speak about lips saying that these lips are like cherries, and give the word “cherry” as a word-association in connection with the word “lip”.


Why are they linked here? Because they are both red, alike in some of their attributes. It is not just this, or because they both have the same form analogically, but
what is quite clear, is that whatever is happening, we are immediately, and this can be sensed, in the quite substantial effect which is called the metaphorical effect. There is no kind of ambiguity whatsoever when I speak in a word-association experiment of cherries in connection with lips.


We are on the plane of the metaphor in the most substantial sense that is included in this effect, this term, and on the most formal plane, (12) this always presents itself as I have reduced it for you to a metaphorical effect, to an effect of substitution in the
signifying chain.


It is in so far as the cherry can be put into a structural context or not in connection with the lip, that the cherry is there. At which point, you could say to me: the cherry can come into connection with the lips in a function of continuity; the cherry has disappeared between the lips, or she has given me a cherry to take on my lips. Yes, of course it can also present itself like that, but what is in question? It is a question here
of a continuity which precisely is that of the narrative that I spoke about above, because the event in which this continuity is integrated, and which brings it about that the cherry is in fact for a short time in contact with the lips, is something which of
course from the real point of view, should not deceive us. It is not that the cherry has touched the lips which is important, it is that it is swallowed; in the same way it is not the fact that it is held between the lips in the erotic gesture I evoked, it is that it is offered to us in this erotic movement itself which counts.


If for an instant we stop this cherry in contact with the lips it is in function of a flash which is precisely a short exposure of the narrative, in which it is the sentence, or it is
the words which for an instant suspend this cherry between the lips, and it is moreover precisely because this dimension of (13) narrative exists in so far as it establishes this flash, that inversely this image in so far as it is created by the suspension of the narrative, effectively becomes on this occasion one of the stimulants of desire to the degree that in imposing a tone which is only here the implication of the language of the act, language introduces retrospectively into the act this stimulation, this stimulating element properly speaking which is arrested as such and which comes on this occasion to nourish the act itself through this suspension which takes on the value of the phantasy, which has an erotic signification in the detour of the act.