Linguisteries 11

Linguisteries 11

Jacobsen on Jacques Lacan

What is Called a Subject?

Now let us take things a bit more slowly. We have already seen that language, for Lacan, does not represent reality but rather the subject. We must now take the matter farther and explain why: because the subject is negativity (separation from himself, separation from what is), and he manifests himself in language only by negating reality, reducing it to nothing. This, precisely, was Kojeve’s lesson as he commented in his own way on Hegel. “Discourse”— identified with the “Subject” (“Discourse = Subject”54)—reveals the “Real,”55 but only on condition of “nihilating” it, causing to be what is not by negating what is: the man who “through his discourse. . .succeeds in preserving error in the very heart of reality. . . is a Nothingness that nihilates in Being, or an ‘ideal’ that is present in the Real.”56


Indeed, the Real is “being” as it is, being without alterity, “given,” “identical to itself,” “omnipresent and dense,”57 mired in its “hie et nunc”5*—and both Sartre59 and Lacan faithfully repeat this lesson: the real, Lacan says, is “pure and simple,” “undifferentiated,” “non-human” (1988a, 68-69/81-83), “without fissure” (1988b, 97/122), “always in the same place” (1988b, 238/278, 297/342; 1977b, 49/49). Discourse (or the Subject), on the contrary, is “being” as it is not, being that differs from itself because it relates to itself. More precisely, it is “being” separating from itself in order to promote itself to the status of an ideality— that is, to the status of a subjective representation: “Thus the concept ‘this dog’ does not differ at all from the real, concrete dog to which it ‘refers’ except that the dog is here and now, whereas its concept is everywhere and nowhere, always and never”60—an idealizing abstraction, which obviously entails a radical negation of the empirical Real.

的确,实在界是本质是生命实存,它没有它者,「被给予」,「认同于它自己」,「无所不在与精炼」,深陷于它的「纯粹与简单」。拉康忠实地重复这个教学:拉康说,实在界是「纯粹与简单」,「没有差别法」,「非人」(1988a, 68-69/81-83),「没有罅隙」(1988b, 97/122), 「总是处于相同位置」(1988b, 238/278, 297/342; 1977b, 49/49)。 相反地,辞说或是主体,是处于非本质的「生命实存」,不同于它自己的生命实存,因为它它跟它自己的关联。更加贴切地说,就是这个跟它自己区隔的「生命实存」,为了提升它自己到理想的地位—换句话说,提升到主体的再现代表的地位:「因此,「这条狗」的这个观念,跟它提到的真实,具体的狗,根本就没有差别。除了这条狗处于此地此刻。而它的观念是无所不在,无所在,总是存在,永未存在。」这些理想化的抽象,显而易见地涵盖强烈地否定试验性地实在界。

Just as the Cartesian subject reaches the certitude of subjective representation only at the price of a radical suspension of all reality (his own included), so Discourse and/or the Subject can only emerge at the price of what Kojeve and Lacan call a “murder of the thing” (1977a, 104/319; 1988a, 174/196): “When the Meaning (Essence) ‘dog’ passes into the word ‘dog’—that is, becomes an abstract Concept which is different from the sensible reality that it reveals by its Meaning—the Meaning (Essence) dies: the word ‘dog’ does not run, drink, and eat. … the conceptual understanding of empirical reality is equivalent to a murder”‘1 Lacan translates this as follows: “Through that which becomes embodied only by being the trace of a nothingness and whose support cannot thereafter be impaired [since it is an ideality], the concept, saving the duration of what passes by, engenders the thing” (1977a, 65/276),

正如笛卡尔的主体,仅有付出这个代价:激进地悬置所有的现实(包括他自己),它才能够到达主体再现代表的确定性。辞说与(或)主体只有付出这个代价:以科耶夫与拉康所谓的「物象」的谋杀,作为代价,它才会出现(1977a, 104/319; 1988a, 174/196):「当「狗」的意义与本质转换成为「狗」这个字词—换句话说,成为这个「抽象」的观念,这个抽象的观念不同于它凭借它的意义显示的可理解的现实,意义(本质)才会死亡:「狗」这个字词并没有跑,喝,与吃、、、试验的现实的观念的理解,相等于是一种谋杀」。拉康将它翻译如下:「仅有凭借成为空无的痕迹,通过成为具体化身,它的支撑因此无法被损坏(因为它是个理念),观念产生物象,拯救通过之物的这个期间。」(1977a, 65/276),

Indeed, this is what Hegel also said, Hegel for whom the sign’s “arbitrariness” (Willkiir) was a manifestation of the free negativity of intelligence disengaging itself from the immediacy of intuition. Say the word “lion,” he writes, and you create the lion ex nihilo, by abolishing it as a tangible thing.62 Say the word “dog,” Kojeve comments, and you kill the real dog that barks and wags its tail.63 Pronounce the word “cat,” Blanchot continues, and “death speaks.”64 Say the word “elephants,” Lacan concludes, and here comes a herd of elephants, present in its absence and filling up the room (1975b, 201, 244, 267).

的确,这是黑格尔也说过的话。对于黑格尔,符号的「任意性」展示智慧的自由否定,当智慧解开它自己,跟直觉的当下分开。他写到,假如你说出「狮子」这个字,你就能够从空无中创造这个「狮子」,凭借废除它,作为一个「具体」的东西。布朗肖则是继续说:「假如你发音「猫」这个字,死亡就言说。」拉康的结论是:「假如你说出「象群」这个字,就会有一大群大象出现,在它的缺席里出现,并且填满房间(1975b, 201, 244, 267)。

What is left at the end of this interesting hecatomb? Nothing but words, words, words—that is, a subject. Thus language, the manifestation of the negativity of the subject who posits himself by negating (himself as) the Real, works the miracle of manifesting what is(not: the tearing apart, the ek-sistence, and the perpetual self-overtaking that “is” the subject, the subject who speaks himself in everything by negating everything. Language, as Kojeve says of Desire, presents “the absence of a reality,”65 and thus, Lacan continues, it manifests the disappearing “nothing” that is the subject.


It is probably easier to see now the way in which structural linguistics, at a certain point, came to be grafted onto the Lacanian theory of language, progressively supplanting the problematic of “full speech.” After all, the distance from the Hegelian-Kojevian thesis concerning the “murder of the thing” to the thesis of the sign’s “arbitrariness” was only a small step, which Lacan was quick to take; on this point, see the end of the first seminar, where Lacan abruptly passes from the theme of “creative speech,” formulated in Hegelian terms (1988a, 242—243/267), to that of the “arbitrariness” of the Saussurian sign (1988a, 248/272).

现在,或许比较容易看出,结构语言学在某个时刻,如何被接枝到拉康的语言的理论,如何逐渐地替换「充实言说」的难题。毕竟,从黑格尔-科耶夫关于「物象的谋杀」的命题,到符号的「任意性」的命题的这个距离,仅是一小步。拉康很快地採取的一小步。针对这一点,请你们参照第一研讨班的结束时,拉康突然从「创造性的言说」的主题,用黑格尔的术语诠释(1988a, 242—243/267), 通过到索绪尔的符号的「任意性」的主题(1988a, 248/272)。

From there, it was also easy and tempting to glide imperceptibly from the conception of discourse as “the presence of the absence of a reality” to the linguistic theory of value, where each signifying unity is defined by opposition to all the other unities which it is not, and which it thus presents in their absence (on this point, see the passage in the third seminar where the opposition of the “signifiers” “night/day” is described as a “symbolic nihilation” of reality; 1981,168). But we see also that these borrowings from structural linguistics take place in the shadow of a philosophy of the subject and of language, which predates them, and to which they bring nothing more than a sort of compelling scientific “guarantee.”



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