Ethic 277

Ethic 277
The Ethics of Psychoanalysis

Jacques Lacan


Antigone between two deaths




And it is to Antigone that we must now turn.


Is she, as the classic interpretation would have it, the servant of a sacred order, of respect for living matter? Is hers the image of charity? Perhaps, but only if we confer on the word charity a savage dimension. Yet the path from Antigone’s passion to her elevation is a long one.

依照古典的解释,她是神圣秩序的女儿,是对具有生命的物质的尊敬吗?她的意象是慈善的意象吗? 或许,只是我们要将慈善这个字词,赋予野蛮的维度。可是,从安提贡尼的激情到她的升华,是一条漫长的途径。

When she explains to Creon what she has done, Antigone affirms the advent
of the absolute individual with the phrase “That’s how it is because that’s
how it is.” But in the name of what? And to begin with on the basis of what?I must quote the text.


She says clearly, “You made the laws.” But once again the sense is missed. Translated word for word, it means, “For Zeus is by no means the one who proclaimed those things to me.” Naturally, she is understood to have said -and I have always told you that it is important not to understand for the sake of understanding – “It’s not Zeus who gives you the right to say that.” But she doesn’t, in fact, say that. She denies that it is Zeus who ordered her to do it. Nor is it Δίκη, which is the companion or collaborator of the gods below. She pointedly distinguishes herself from Δίκη. “You have got that all mixed up,” she, in effect, says. “It may even be that you are wrong in the way you avoid the Δίκη. But I’m not going to get mixed up in it; I’m not concerned with all these gods below who have imposed laws on men.” ωρκσαν, όρίξω, ορός means precisely the image of an horizon, of a limit. Moreover, the limit in question is one on which she establishes herself, a place where she feels herself to be unassailable, a place where it is impossible for a mortal being to ύπβρδραμ&ν, to go beyond νόμιμα, the laws. These are no longer laws, νόμος, but a certain legality which is a consequence of the laws of the
gods that are said to be άγραπτα, which is translated as “unwritten,” because that is in effect what it means. Involved here is an invocation of something that is, in effect, of the order of law, but which is not developed in any signifying chain or in anything else.

她清楚地说,「你制定法律。」但是再一次,意义被失漏。逐字地翻译,它的意思是:「因为宙斯天神绝非是对我宣佈那些事情的人。」当然,我们理解她的意思是说—我总是告诉你们,这是很重要的,不要为了理解而理解—「宙斯天神并没有赋予你这个权力那样说。」但是事实上,她并没有那样说。她否认,宙斯天神命令她这样做。也不是世间的众神的同伴或是共谋者命令。她尖锐地区别她自己,跟同伴或共谋者。「你把所有那一切都搞混了。」实际上,她是这样说,「甚至你是错误,当你避开那个同伴或共谋。」但是我不要在里面被搞混。我跟世界的这些众神没有关系,他们赋加法则在人们身上。ωρκσαν, όρίξω, ορός 确实是意味着地平线的意象,限制的意象。而且,受到质疑的这个限制是她用来作为自己基础的限制,在那个地方,她感觉自己是不会被攻击得了。在那个地方,作为人的生物,无法超越法则。这些不再是法则,而是有某种的合法性,作为众神的法则的结果。这些众神据说是άγραπτα,,可翻译成为「不成文法」。因为那就是它实际上的意涵。在此被牵涉的是某种东西的召唤,实际上,就是法律秩序的东西。但是它并没有被发展,在能指化的锁链或是任何其他东西。

Involved is an horizon determined by a structural relation; it only exists on the basis of the language of words, but it reveals their unsurpassable consequence. The point is from the moment when words and language and the signifier enter into play, something may be said, and it is said in the following way: “My brother may be whatever you say he is, a criminal. He wanted to destroy the walls of his city, lead his compatriots away in slavery. He led our enemies on to the territory of our city, but he is nevertheless what he is, and he must be granted his funeral rites. He doubtless doesn’t have the same rights as the other. You can, in fact, tell me whatever you want, tell me that one is a hero and a friend, that the other is an enemy. But I answer that it is
of no significance that the latter doesn’t have the same value below. As far as I am concerned, the order that you dare refer me to doesn’t mean anything, for from my point of view, my brother is my brother.”


That’s the paradox encountered by Goethe’s thought and he vacillates. My brother is what he is, and it’s because he is what he is and only he can be what he is, that I move forward toward the fatal limit. If it were anyone else with whom I might enter into a human relationship, my husband or my children for example, they are replaceable; I have relations with them. But this brother who is άθατττος, who has in common with me the fact of having been born in the same womb – the etymology of the word αδελφός embodies an allusion to the womb – and having been related to the same father – that criminal father the consequences of whose crimes Antigone is still suffering from – this brother is something unique. And it is this alone which motivates me to oppose your edicts.

那就是歌德的思想遭遇的悖论,他摇摆不定。我的兄长就是那个样子。因为他就是他那个样子,仅有他能够成为他那个样子。我向前移动,朝向那个致命的限制。假如那是某位其他的人,我可能跟他有人际的关系,譬如,我的丈夫或我的小孩,他们是可替换的。我跟他们有关系。但是这位兄长跟我有共通的关系,是这个事实:我们是同一位母亲的子宫所生。这个字词αδελφός 的字源具体地提到子宫,跟相同的父亲有关联。由于那个罪犯的父亲的结果,他的罪恶,安提贡尼依旧遭受痛苦。兄长是某件独特的东西。仅有这个,引起我的动机要反对你们的宣称。

Antigone invokes no other right than that one, a right that emerges in the language of the ineffaceable character of what is – ineffaceable, that is, from the moment when the emergent signifier freezes it like a fixed object in spite of the flood of possible transformations. What is, is, and it is to this, to this surface, that the unshakeable, unyielding position of Antigone is fixed.


She rejects everything else. The stance of the-race-is-run is nowhere better illustrated than here. And whatever else one relates it to, is only a way of causing uncertainty or disguising the absolutely radical character of the position of the problem in the text.


The fact that it is man who invented the sepulchre is evoked discretely.
One cannot finish off someone who is a man as if he were a dog. One cannot
be finished with his remains simply by forgetting that the register of being of someone who was identified by a name has to be preserved by funeral rites.


No doubt all kinds of things may be added to that. All the clouds of the imaginary come to be accumulated around it as well as the influences that are released by the ghosts who multiply in the vicinity of death. But at bottom the affair concerns the refusal to grant Polynices a funeral. Because he is abandoned to the dogs and the birds and will end his appearance on earth in impurity, with his scattered limbs an offense to heaven and earth, it can be seen that Antigone’s position represents the radical limit that affirms the unique value of his being without reference to any content, to whatever good or evil Polynices may have done, or to whatever he may be subjected to.


The unique value involved is essentially that of language. Outside of language it is inconceivable, and the being of him who has lived cannot be detached from all he bears with him in the nature of good and evil, of destiny, of consequences for others, or of feelings for himself. That purity, that separation of being from the characteristics of the historical drama he has lived through, is precisely the limit or the ex nihilo to which Antigone is attached. It is nothing more than the break that the very presence of language inaugurates in the life of man.


That break is manifested at every moment in the fact that language punctuates everything that occurs in the movement of life. Αυτόνομος is the word the Chorus uses to situate Antigone; it tells her, “You are going off toward death without knowing your own law.” Antigone knows what she is condemned to, that is, to take part, so to speak, in a game whose outcome is known in advance- It is, in effect, posited as a game by Creon. She is condemned to the sealed chamber of the tomb in which she will be put to the test, namely, that of knowing if the gods below will come to her aid. It is at this point in her ordeal that Creon pronounces his condemnation, when he says, “We’ll see how useful your loyalty to the gods below will be. You will have the food that is always placed next to the dead by way of an offering, and we’ll see just how long you last with that.”

那种断裂被表现在发生于生命的动作的每个时刻。Αυτόνομος 就是这个字词,合唱队用来定位安提贡尼的字词。合唱队告诉她,「你将会离开朝向死亡,而不知道你自己的法则。」安提贡尼知道她被判处什么徒刑。换句话说,参与事先就知道结果的遊戏。实际上,它被提出作为是克瑞恩的遊戏。她被判处被囚禁于封闭的墓室的房间。她将在那里接受考验,也就说,要知道世界的众神是否会来帮助她。就在她接受考验的这个时刻,克瑞恩宣佈对她的判刑,当他说,「我们将会看看,你对于世间谍众神的忠诚将会有多大用途。你将会拥有总是被放置在亡者旁边作为祭品的这些食物。我们倒要看看,你用那些食物能够支持多久。」

It is at that moment that the tragedy is illuminated with a new light, in the form of Antigone’s κομμός, her complaint or lamentation. And it is significant that certain commentators have been scandalized by it.



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