Desire 83 Jacques Lacan

Desire 83

Jacques Lacan

Desire and its Interpretation
欲望及其解釋 `

28.1.59 149
Seminar 10; Wednesday 28 January 1959

And what am I saying there if not expressing in a more articulated fashion what our experience is when we are seeking to focus what the desire of the subject is. It is that, something which is a certain position of the subject face to face with a certain object in so far as he puts it in an intermediary position between a pure and simple signification, a thing assumed, clear, transparent for him, and something else which is
not a phantasy at all, which is not a need, which is not a (19) pressure, a rope (filin), but something which is always of the order of the signifier qua signifier, something closed, enigmatic. Between the two there is a thing which appears here in the form of a representation which is tangible, extremely precise, imaged. And the subject, warns us by his very associations: this is what is significant.


What am I going to do now? Am I going to go into the way in which the analyst interprets? I must therefore let you know all the material that we have.


What does this analyst say at that moment as she continues: “What else do you think of … ” She replies to the fact that the subject takes up after having coughed, comes back to the hood.


“I’m still thinking of the hood.” “Yes, how now?”, says the analyst. “A funny man” he says, “at one of the earliest golf courses I remember. He said he could get me a golf bag cheaply and the material would be motor hood cloth’.” At this point he gives an imitation after having said: “It was the accent I remember. Imitating him like that reminds me of a friend who broadcasts impersonations which are very clever,” (“broadcast” is the important word), “but it sounds swank, to tell you as swanky
as telling you what a marvellous wireless set I have. It picks up all stations with no difficulty.” “My friend has a splendid memory,” he says. “She remembers her childhood too, but mine is (20) so bad below eleven years. I do remember, however, one of the earliest songs we heard at the theatre and she imitated the man afterwards.”


It is a typical English music hall song which goes as follows: “Where did you get that hat, where did you get that tile?” The tile designates more particularly what is called
in this case a topper, a top hat. It can also signify simply lid, or galurin.


“My mind,” he continues, “has gone to the hood again and I am remembering the first car I was ever in,” but at that time of course it was not called a car but a motor, because the subject is fairly old.


“Well! The hood of this motor was one of its most obvious features. It was strapped back when not in use. The inside of it was lined with scarlet.” And he continues: “The peak of speed for that car was about sixty,” he speaks about this car as if he were speaking about the life of a car, as if it were human. “I remember I was sick in that car, and that reminds me of the time I had to urinate into a paper bag when I was in a railway train as a child. Still I think of the hood.” (134-135)


We are going to stop here in the associations. They do not go very far yet, but I want all the same to counterpoint what I am bringing you here with the way in which the analyst begins to interpret this. “The first thing of importance” she says, “is to find the cardinal clue to the significance of the dream.” (21) She says quite rightly: “We can do that by noting just the moment when it came to the patient’s mind.” (138) And then she begins to speak about the dog which masturbated against his leg, about the moment when just before he spoke about the dog to say that he himself imitated this dog, then the cough, then the dream from which he awoke perspiring.


“The deduction,” she says, “concerning the significance of the whole dream is that it is a masturbation phantasy.” (138) I am in complete agreement with this.

That is of first importance, we agree with her completely. “The next thing to notice,” she says, “in connection with this masturbation phantasy is the theme of potency.” She does not understand it in the sense of sexual potency, but in the sense of potency in the most universal meaning of the term, as she would say further on, of omnipotence.


“He is travelling round the world. It is the longest dream he has ever had.” (This is what the subject says). “It would take a whole hour to relate. Correlate with that his deprecation of ‘swank’ regarding his friend’s impersonations which are broadcast for the whole world”, the analyst adds, “and his own wireless which picks up every station. Note his own imitation of the man whose accent had attracted him, a strong colloquial accent, and incidentally he said with regard to this man he had once been a butcher’.”


“Impersonation here, whether via friend or himself, has the (22) significance of imitating a stronger or better known person.” Is she wrong here? “This is again a further clue to the meaning of the masturbation phantasy, that is, a phantasy in
which he is impersonating another person, one of immense power and potency.” (139)


Here therefore is what is held by the analyst to be self-evident. Namely that the simple fact of these mimed incarnations intervening more or less in connection with – the masturbation phantasy being supposed to be at the root of what happens – the very fact that the subject excused himself for swanking, for boasting, for pushing himself too much, signifies that we have a phantasy of omnipotence which should be put in the foreground.



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