Death 02

Death 02
The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1954-1955

Jacques Lacan

Desire, life and death
This famous object relation, which we are gargling with these days. has a
tendency to be employed as a model. a pattern of the adaptation of the subject to its normal objects.


However. this term. in so far as it can be of use in the experience of analysis. can only acquire a meaning from ideas concerning the evolution of the libido. the pregenital stage. the genital stage. Can one say that the structure. the maturity. the fully-fledged realisation of the object depends on the libido?•.At the genital stage. the libido is thought to bring a new object. another structuration. another sort of existence for the object into the world.
bringing its fullness. its maturity to completion. And this has nothing to do with
traditional aspects of the theory of man’ s relations to the world – the opposition
of being to appearance.


Within the classical. theoretical perspective. between subject and object
there is coaptation. co-naissancez – a play on words retaining all its force. for the theory of knowledge lies at the heart of any discussion of the relation of man to the world. The subject has to place himself in adequation with the thing. in a relation of-being to being – the relation of a subjective being. but one that is
truly real. Or a being aware of being to a being one knows to be.


The domain of the Freudian experience is established within a very different
register of relations. Desire is a relation of being to lack. This lack is the lack of
being properly speaking. It isn’t the lack of this or that. but lack of being
whereby the being exists.


This lack is beyond anything which can represent it. It is only ever
represented as a reflection on a veil. The libido. but now no longer as used
theoretically as a quantitative quantity. is the name of what animates the deepseated conflict at the heart of human action.


We necessarily believe that. at the centre. things are really there. solid.
established, waiting to be recognised. and that the conflict is marginal. But
what does the Freudian experience teach us? If not that what happens in the domain of so-called consciousness. that is on the level of the recognition of objects. is equally misleading in relation to what the being is looking for?


In so far as the libido creates the different stages of the object, the objects are never it- except from the moment when that would be entirely it, thanks to a genital maturation of the libido, the experience of which in analysis retains a character which is, there is no denying it, Ineffable ,since as soon as one wants to spell it out, one ends up in all sorts of contradictions, including the impasse of narcissism.


Desire. a function central to all human experience. is the desire for nothing
nameable. And at the same time this desire lies at the origin of every variety of
animation. If being were only what it is. there wouldn’t even be room to talk
about it.


Being comes into existence as an exact function of this lack. Being
attains a sense of self in relation to being as a function of this lack. In the experience of desire. In the pursuit of this beyond, which is nothing, it harks
back to the feeling of a being with self-consciousness, which is nothing but its
own reflection in the world of things. For it is the companion of beings there before it, who do not in fact know themselves.


The self-conscious being, transparent to itself, which classical theory places
at the centre of human experience, appears, from this perspective, as a manner of locating, in the world of objects, this being of desire who cannot perceive itself as such, except in its lack. If this lack of being, it perceived that it is lacking being, and that the being is there, in all the things which do not know
themselves to be. And it imagines itself, for its part, as one more object, for it sees no other difference. It says – I’m the one who knows that I am.


Unfortunately, If it does perhaps know that it is, it knows nothing at all about what it is. That is what is lacking in every being.


In short, there is a confusion between the capacity to erect a fundamental
distress whereby being arises as presence from a background of absence, and
what we commonly call the capacity for consciousness, for becoming aware,
which is only a neutral and abstract, and even abstracted, form of the totality of
the possible mirages.


Relations between human beings are really established before one gets to the
domain of consciousness. It is desire which achieves the primitive structuration
of the human world, desire as unconscious. In this respect, we must appraise
Freud’s advance.


Copernican revolution, when it comes down to it, is, as you can see, a crass
metaphor. It goes without saying that Copernicus produced a revolution, but in
the world of determined and determinable things.


Freud’s advance constitutes, I would say, a revolution in an opposite direction, because before Copernicus, the world owed its structure precisely to the fact that so much of man was already in it. And to tell the truth, we’ve never really decanted it completely, although we’ve done enough.


Freud’s advance isn’t to be explained by the basic and precarious experience
of the fact of having to care for someone, it really is the correlate of a revolution
carried through over the entire domain constituted by man’s thinking concerning himself and his experience; over the entire domain of philosophy since after all we must give it its name.


This revolution brings man back into the world as creator. But the latter risks
being entirely dispossessed of his creation by the simple trick, always put on one side in classical theory, which consists in saying – God is no deceiver.


That is so essential that, when it came to it, Einstein got stuck at the same
point as Descartes. The Lord, he used to say, is certainly a crafty fellow, but he
isn’t dishonest. It was essential to his organisation of the world that God not be
a deceiver. But this, precisely, is what we don’t know.


The decisive element of the Freudian experience could be summed up as follows – don’t forget that consciousness isn’t universal. Modern experience
awoke from a long fascination with the property of consciousness)” and
considers man’s experience within its own structure, which is the structure of
desire. That is the only starting-point for explaining the fact that there are men.


Not men as a herd, but men who speak, with this speech through which
something is introduced into the world which weighs as heavily as the whole of the real.


There is a fundamental ambiguity in the use we make of the word ‘desire’.
Sometimes we objectify it – and we have to do so, if only to talk about it. On the
contrary, sometimes we locate it as the primitive term in relation to any


In fact, sexual desire in our experience has nothing objectified about it. It is
neither an abstraction, nor a purified x, as the notion of force in physics has


Doubtless we make use of it, and it’s very handy, for describing a
certain biologieal cycle, or more precisely a certain number of cycles which are
more or less tied up with biological systems.


But what we have to deal with is a subject which}s here, who truly is desiring, and the desire in question is prior to any kind of conceptualisation – every conceptualisation stems from it.


The proof that analysis does indeed lead to our approaching things this way is that the largest part of what the subject takes to be a certainty after due reflection is for us only the superficial, rationalised, subsequently justified ordering of what his desire foments, which gives his world and his action its essential curvature.



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