Lacan TheAbsolute Master

Indeed, according to Lacan, the result is the same if we turn to the other operation of speech noted by Jakobson: that of the “vertical” selection of terms from among those capable of being substituted for the signifier on the paradigmatic axis. This substitution certainly produces meaning and, Lacan writes, therefore a “crossing” (1977a, 154/503, 164/515) of the bar separating the signifier from the signified. This is what Lacan calls “metaphor,” which he successively (and just as dangerously) identifies with (1) the “one word for another” of paradigmatic selection (1977a, 157/507); (2) metaphor in the rhetorical sense (1977a, 156-157/507); (3) the Freudian mechanism of condensation (1977a, 160/511), which, however, designates in Freud less a substitution than a compression of several terms; and (4) the psychoanalytic symptom (1977a, 166/518). He notates it thus:
f(f-)s * S(+)5

f(f-)s * S(+)5

The + manifests “the crossing of the bar—and the constitutive value of this crossing for the emergence of signification” (1977a, 164/515), But this crossing, we should add, is never anything but a transgression that maintains the prohibition implacably separating signifier from signified. That repressive bar is not suppressed, for its “crossing” only adds (+) something extra—namely, an “effect of signification .. , that is creative or poetic” (1977a, 164/515): the signified is only a “poetic spark” (1977a, 156-158/507-508) produced between signifiers on the occasion of their substitution.

这个+ 符号表示这条横杠的跨越,以及这个跨越的形成的价值,对于意义的出现(1977a, 164/515)。但是我们应该补充,这条横杠实实在在就是一种侵犯,无情地维持分开能指与所指的这个禁令。那条压抑的横杠并没有被压抑,因为它的「跨越」仅是增加(+)某件额外的东西—也就是,「意义的效应、、、具有创造力或诗意」(1977a,164/515): 所指仅是一种「诗意的火花」(1977a, 156-158/507-508),在能指之间被产生,在它们的替换的场合。

What is inspiring Lacan here is obviously Jakobson’s linguistic model: if I say “house,” this term makes sense only because it is substituted in the sentence for, say, “louse.” Neither /haus/ nor /laus/ makes any sense outside their commutativity. Lacan extends this strictly linguistic thesis (granted, he was encouraged in this by Jakobson himself)43 to the rhetorical and, more broadly, the psychoanalytic realms, concluding that any substitution of signifier for signifier produces meaning—for example, the phrase “his sheaf” that is substituted for the proper noun “Boaz” in this line by Victor Hugo: “His sheaf was neither miserly nor spiteful” (cf. 1981, 247-248; 1977a, 156-158/506-508).

在此启发拉康的东西,显而易见是雅克慎的语言的模式:假如我说「房屋house」,这个术语仅有因为它在句子里被替换,它才具有意义,譬如说,替换成「虱子louse」。在它们的共同点字母发音之外,/haus/ 与 /laus/ 的发音单独并没有意义。拉康延伸这个严格的语言学的命题(在这一点,他受到雅克慎的鼓励),延伸到修饰学。更广义地说,延伸到精神分析领域。然后获得这个结论:能指对能指点任何替换产生意义—譬如,他的「禾束sheaf」这个词语,被替换成为专有名词”Boaz”,在维克多-雨果的这行诗:「他的禾束既不吝啬,也不怨恨」(cf. 1981, 247-248; 1977a, 156-158/506-508)。

Lacan emphasizes that nothing predestines “sheaf” to replace “Boaz”—which is an-other way of saying that this substitution, from the perspective of code, is pure non-sense. And yet, Lacan adds, this substitution makes sense (it produces a poetic effect). Why is this? Not because the sheaf would represent Boaz (as we have seen, they have no relationship, especially none of similarity; normally, a sheaf is neither generous nor helpful). “Boaz,” therefore, is not (as classical rhetoric maintained) the hidden meaning of the signifier “sheaf,” in whose place we expected “Boaz.” On the contrary, “Boaz” arises from it. Here, Lacan proposes, there is an unexpected signification, produced by “the substitution of one signifier for another in a chain, without anything natural predestining it for this function … except the matter of two signifiers, reducible as such to a phonemic opposition” (1966, 890).

拉康强调,没有一样东西预先注意”sheaf” 用来替换”Boaz”。这是另外一种方式说:这个替换,从符码的观点,是纯粹没有意义。可是,拉康补充,这个替换具有意义(它产生一种诗意的效果)。为什么是这个?倒不是因为这个sheaf将会代表Boaz(我们已经看到,它们并没有关系,特别是并没有类同性;正常来说,禾束既无所谓慷慨或帮助)。”Boaz,” 因此并不是能指的隐藏的意义,在它的位置,我们期待”Boaz.”(如同古典修饰学所主张的)。相反地,”Boaz”是因为它而产生。拉康建议,有一个意外的意义被产生,在「在语词锁链里,一个能指替换另一个能指,却没有任何东西自然地预先注定它作为这个功能、、、除了两个能指的事件外,它的本身被简化成为语音的对立」(1966, 890)。

In short, put one signifier in place of another, and something will always emerge: meaning. A linguist would certainly call this theory completely surrealistic (even if Lacan, incidentally, criticizes Andre Breton’s theory of the metaphor; 1977a, 157/507), for where has anyone ever seen that the improbable “phonemic opposition” of “Boaz” and “sheaf” makes sense in langue?Obviously, the “signifiers” that Lacan has in mind are not those of the linguistic code, which constitutes a “filing cabinet of prefabricated representations,”44 but rather those unpredictable, uncodable signifiers of the dream and the symptom, where anything can refer to anything else. Why, then, continue to speak about “signifiers” at all, if we are no longer in the realm of langue (and probably, if we consider the dream and the symptom, not even in the realm of language)? All that these two types of “signifiers” have in common is that they have no meaning in themselves—and this, in fact, is exactly what Lacan is driving at: that point where sense arises from non-sense.

总之,假如我们将一个能指替换另一个能指,总是会有某件东西出现:意义。语言学家确实称这种理论为完全超现实的理论(即使拉康偶然会批评超现实主义者布瑞东的隐喻的理论;1977a, 157/507)。因为有什么人在什么地方看见过:”Boaz” 跟 “sheaf”的这个不可能的「音素的对立」在语意里产生意义?显而易见地,拉康心中构想的「能指」并不是语言学的符码的那些能指。它们构成「预先铸造的再现表象的填充柜」。相反地,而是梦与病征的那些无法预测,无法符码化的能指。在那里,任何东西都能够提到任何其他东西。因此,为什么继续言说关于「能指」,假如我们不再语意的这个领域?这两种「能指」共同的地方是,它们本身并没有意义—事实上,这确实是拉康的意图所在。意义起源于无意义的这一点。

In this limitless expansion of the concept of the “signifier,” what matters to him is to prove yet again that language (a term vague enough to crush out all difference among langue, speech, and the productions of the unconscious) represents nothing. The reason why the “signifier” does not represent the signified is that it creates the signified metaphorically: the “metaphor occurs at the precise point at which sense emerges from non-sense” (1977a, 158/508). And it can create this signified only on condition of abolishing it, volatilizing it in its creation: a metonymy of nothing, a nihilistic metonymy that “permits the elision in which the signifier installs the lack-of-being in the object relation, using the value of ‘reference back’ possessed by signification in order to invest it with the desire aimed at the very lack it supports” (1977a, 164/515).

「能指」的观能的这个无限的扩展,对于他,重要的是要再次证明,语言(这个术语足够模糊压垮语意,言说,于无意识的产生,中间的所有的差距)代表著空无。「能指并没有代表所指的理由是:能指隐喻地创造所指:「隐喻的发生,就是意义从无意义出现的那个时刻。」(1977a, 158/508)。能指能够创造所指,仅有在废除它的条件下,在创造所指时蒸发所指:空无的换喻,虚无主义的换喻,它容许能指在客体的关系里,安置生命实存的欠缺,在那个遗漏里。它使用意义拥有的「回溯指称」的价值,为了在它身上投注这个欲望,目标朝着它支持的欠缺的欲望」(1977a, 164/515)。

We see, then, that the signified s, which figures under the resistant bar of the Lacanian “algorithm,” is nothing that would be independent of the signifier. On the contrary, Lacan separates signified from signifier, apparently a highly classical gesture, but only the better to underline its evanescent character, its radical nonexistence outside the references among signifiers. Since this is precisely what Benveniste, Jakobson, and all of structural linguistics in general assert of their own object of study, Lacan does not diverge from the principle governing structural linguistics, even if he retains only that principle (or that philosophy) and applies it to realms where it really has no business being. Like it or not, Lacan’s thesis of the sign’s “duplicity,” so controversial, finally implies nothing more than what linguists call its “unity,” and so Lacan’s thesis is in perfect agreement, if not with the letter, at least with the spirit of Saussurianism.



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