Lacanian Biology and the Event of the Body : 12th & 19th May 1999 (Paris VIII) : Jacques-Alain Miller

by Julia Evans on May 12, 1999

Given on 12th & 19th May 1999 during the 1998-1999 ‘Le reel dans l’experience analytique’ course, (‘L’orientation lacanienne’), at University of Paris VIII, published as  Biologie lacanienne et événement de corps, La Cause freudienne n°44, February 2000.

Published in Lacanian Ink Vol XVIII, Sep 2000

Available at   /authors a-z

In French: See  at  

From the Cours 1998-1999 Le reel dans l’experience analytique, University of Paris VIII, & republished -L’éthiquette de la psychanalyse (Rivages n° 6),
-Le transfert négatif (Praxis n° 4),
-Les paradigmes de la jouissance (La Cause freudienne n° 43, October 1999),
-Biologie lacanienne et événement de corps (La Cause freudienne n°44, February 2000)

L’expérience du réel dans la cure analytique

Jacques-Alain Miller

Dix-huitième séance du Cours (mercredi 19 mai 1999)


I. Examining the Algorithms of Life – the Concept of Life by Jacques-Alain Miller

translated by Barbara P. Fulks

Dix-septième séance (XVII) du Cours (mercredi 12 mai 1999)

Reference to  ‘Yes, Let’s Pay for Organs’ by Charles Krauthammer : Time 17th May 1999 is given at p222, 223 & p227 of  

1. Life and the One of the Body

D’Alembert’s Dream


2. The Emergence of the Body in Pieces – Descartes and Substance-Jouissance

An Essay of Swiftian Inspiration

The Public Good and the Individual Good

The Body Machine

Speaking Body Emerges from Having

3. Freud’s Biology

The Other Side of Life Open to the Speaking Body

Weissmann’s Conceptual Scheme

The Narcissistic Germ-Cell

II. Life as Condition of Jouissance

Jacques-Alain Miller

Dix-huitième (XVIII) séance du Cours (mercredi 19 mai 1999)

Translated by Jorge Jauregui

1. Body Condition and Signifier Condition

2. From Drives’ Dualism to Drive’s Monism – The Split of Death

Repetition, a Factor of Maladjustment

The Superego’s Drive

A Reunified Drive

References & Notes

P6 ‘…the coordinates of the concept of life. …this is an eminently problematic concept, and one of which he said, in his 1955 seminar: ‘The phenomenon of life remains in its essence completely impenetrable. It continues to escape us no matter what we do.’ : From Seminar II : 12th January 1955 : p75 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation : The phenomenon of life continues to elude us. whatever we do, despite the reiterated reaffirmations that we are getting closer to it. Biological concepts remain completely inadequate to it, which doesn’t prevent them from retaining all their value. : See Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here 

Footnote 2 Seminar II : p7 in the beginning chapters .. where he pointed out that Freud’s biology is first of all an energetics. : p61 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation, Seminar II : 15th December 1954 : This is where Freud realises that something doesn’t satisfy the pleasure principle. He realises that what comes out of one of the systems – that of the unconscious – has a very particular insistence- that is the word I wanted to bring in. I say insistence because it expresses rather well, in a familiar way, the meaning of what has been translated into French as automatisme de répetition, Wiederholungszwang [compulsion to repeat]. The word automatisme has resonances for us of the complete ascendancy of neurology. That isn’t how it should be understood. ‘What it is is a compulsion to repeat [compulsion à la répétition], and that is why I think I am making it concrete by introducing the notion of insistence. 

This system has something disturbing about it. It is dissymmetrical. It doesn’t quite fit. Something in it eludes the system of equations and the evidence borrowed from the forms of thought of the register of energetics as they were introduced in the middle of the nineteenth century. : & Seminar II : 15th December 1954 : p61 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation : ‘It is the principle of homeostasis which obliges Freud to inscribe all his deductions in terms of investment, charge, discharge, energy relations between different systems. However, he realises that something doesn’t work in all this. That’s what Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) is about, no more no less. : & : See Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here 

P7 ‘afterwards the lessons of ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ : Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud, SE XVIII  p1-64 – Published at and available here  

Footnote 3. : p7 ‘In this context Lacan formulated in Encore (1972) what could pass for an analytic concept of life which seems to define life as jouissance: “We don’t know what it means to be alive except for the following fact, that a body is something that enjoys itself (cela se jouit).”’ : Seminar XX : 19th December 1972 : p 88-89 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation ‘Is this not what is supposed properly and precisely by this all which the analytic experience signifies here. 

‘Substance of the body, on condition that it is defined only as what enjoys itself. Only property of the living body, no doubt, but we do not know what living being is except uniquely in the fact that a body for its part enjoys. And what is more: we fall immediately on the fact that it only enjoys itself from corporalising (corporiser) it in a signifying way.’ : See Seminar XX : Encore 1972 – 1973 (from 21st November 1972) : Jacques Lacan or here     

p8 ‘Zoology can proceed from the pretence of the individual to make being (être) of life (vivant), but the individual is diminished by this discipline to the level of a polypary.”’ : I have been unable to trace this phrase – I have even checked to see if it is elsewhere in Lacan. The nearest is this : Seminar XX : 26th June 1973, pI 11-12 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : ‘The ‘signed signifier’ [?] of a subject, qua signifier, constitutes the formal support, reaches something other in so far as it affects him. An other, an other than what he is quite crudely as signifier, an other made subject or at least passes for being so. It is in this respect that he is, and only for the speaking being, that he is found to be being as being (qu’il se trouve être comme étant). Namely, something whose being is always elsewhere, as the predicate shows. The subject is never anything but punctual and vanishing. It is only a subject by a signifier, and for another signifier. 

‘It is here that we must return to the fact that after all, by a choice guided by we know not what, Aristotle made up his mind to give no other definition of the individual than the body. The body as organism as what maintains itself as One, and not as what reproduces itself. It is striking to see that between the Platonic Idea and the Aristotelian definition of the individual as founding being, the difference is properly that around which we still are, namely the question which is posed to the biologist, namely, how a body reproduces itself. For this indeed is what is at stake in every attempt at what is called molecular chemistry, namely how it happens that in combining a certain number of things in a single pot, something is going to be precipitated which will ensure that a bacterium, for example, will be reproduced as such. 

‘The body, what is it then? Is it or is it not the knowledge of the One? 

‘The knowledge of the One is revealed as not coming from the body. The knowledge of the One, for the little that we can say about it, the knowledge of the One comes from the signifier One. 

‘Does the signifier One come from the fact that the signifier as such is never anything but one among others, referred as such to these others, and as being the difference from these others? The question is so little resolved up to the present, that I devoted my whole seminar last year to examining, to putting the accent on this there is something of the One (y a de l’Un). 

‘What is meant by there is something of the one? What is meant by there is something of the one is something that allows there to be located the signifying articulation that from one among others – and it is a matter of knowing if it is anyone whatsoever – there arises a S1, a swarm (essaim) of signifiers, a buzzing swarm linked to the fact that this One of each signifier with the question of: is it of them (d’eux) that I speak?’ : See Seminar XX : Encore 1972 – 1973 (from 21st November 1972) : Jacques Lacan or here     

4. Seminar VII : p11 in the passage on transgression and the jouissance in transgression & p210-211 on de Sade : Seminar VII 4th May 1960, p210-211 of Dennis Porter’s translation ‘On page seventy-eight of Volume IV of Juliette in the edition that is most easily accessible to you, namely, Jean-Jacques Pauvert’s, Sade expounds the System of Pope Pius VI, since it is to this pope that the theories in question are imputed.  

‘Sade lays out for our benefit the theory that it is through crime that man collaborates in the new creations of nature. The idea is that the pure force of nature is obstructed by its own forms, that because the three realms present fixed forms they bind nature to a limited cycle, that is, moreover, manifestly imperfect, as is demonstrated by the chaos and abundance of conflicts as well as the fundamental disorder of their reciprocal relations. As a result, the deepest concern that can be imputed to this psychic subject that is Nature is that of wanting to wipe the slate clean, so that it may begin its task once more, set out again with a new burst of energy. 

‘This discussion is completely literary, in the sense that it is not scientifically founded, but is rather poetic in character. In this luxuriant hodge-podge, from time to time one comes across what some people might take to be tedious digressions. But as you will see, they are entertaining to read. Thus, although reading always risks distracting one’s audience’s attention, I am going to read a passage from Sade’s system: 

Without destruction the earth would receive no nourishment and, as a result, there would be no possibility for man to reproduce his species. It is no doubt a fateful truth, since it proves in an invincible way that the vices and virtues of our social system are nothing, and that the very vices are more necessary than the virtues, because they are creative and the virtues are merely created; or, if you prefer, the vices are causes and the virtues no more than effects. . . . A too perfect harmony would thus be a greater disadvantage than disorder; and if war, discord and crime were banished from the earth, the power of the three realms would be too violent and would destroy in its turn all the other laws of nature. The celestial bodies would all stop. These influences would be halted by the excessive power of one of them; there would be neither gravitation nor movement. It is thus men’s crimes that introduce disorder into the sphere of the three realms and prevent this sphere from achieving a level of superiority that would disrupt all the others, by maintaining the perfect balance Horace called ‘rerum concordia discors’. Thus crime is necessary in the world. But the most useful crimes are no doubt those that disrupt the most, such as the ‘refusal of propagation or destruction’; all the others are worthless or rather only those two are worthy of the name of crime. Thus only the crimes mentioned are essential to the laws of the three realms and essential also to the laws of nature. A philosopher in antiquity called war ‘the mother of all things’. The existence of murderers is as necessary as plagues; without both of them everything in the universe would be upset. . . . such dissolution serves nature’s purposes, since it [p211] recomposes that which is destroyed. Thus every change operated by man on organized matter serves nature much more than it opposes it. What am I saying? The service of nature requires far more total destructions . . . destructions much mote complete than those we are able to accomplish. Nature wants atrocities and magnitude in crimes; the more our destructions are of this type, the more they will be agreeable to it. To be of even greater service to nature, one should seek to prevent the regeneration of the body that we bury. Murder only takes the first life of the individual whom we strike down; we should also seek to take his second life, if we are to be even more useful to nature. For nature wants annihilation; it is beyond our capacity to achieve the scale of destruction it desires. 

I presume that you have grasped the significance of the core of this last statement. It takes us to the heart of what was explained last time, in connection with the death drive, as the point of division between the Nirvana or annihilation principle, on the one hand, and the death drive, on the other – the former concerns a relationship to a fundamental law which might be identified with that which energetics theorizes as the tendency to return to a state, if not of absolute rest, then at least of universal equilibrium. : See Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: from 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here  

P12 Footnote 5. Of psychoanalysis in its relation to the reality 1967 : See On Psychoanalysis in its Relation[ships] to Reality (Milan) : 18th December 1967 : Jacques Lacan or here : p12 ‘we are disposed to make the body into its own pieces : Note : relation is a better translation as Lacan is using it in a Mathematical sense. 

p14 ‘by referring repeatedly to Aristotle’s ‘On the Soul’ – Seminar XX : 8th May 1973 : pXI 9 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : See Seminar XX : Encore 1972 – 1973 (from 21st November 1972) : Jacques Lacan or here     

p14 ‘Following his Seminar II, he underlines the decisive character of reference to the machine as the foundation of biology.’ : From Seminar II : 12th January 1955 : p75 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation : ‘From then on, you begin to see the dawn of modern biology, with its characteristic of never calling upon any notion concerning life. Vitalist thought is alien to biology. The founding spirit of modern biology, who died prematurely, and whose statue adorns the old faculty of medicine, Bichat, expressed this in the most succinct manner. He was someone who had somehow maintained a vague belief in God, but who was extremely clear-sighted – he knew that a new period had begun, and that from now on life was going to be defined in relation to death. That converges with what I am trying to explain to you, the decisive character of the reference to the machine so far as the founding of biology is concerned. Biologists think that they devote themselves to the study of life. It’s not clear why. Until further notice, their fundamental concepts’ point of origin has nothing to do with the phenomenon of life, which in its essence remains completely impenetrable. The phenomenon …[see p6 above]’ : See Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here : Note this may also be a reference to Psychoanalysis and cybernetics, or on the nature of language : 22nd June 1955 : Lecture in Paris : Jacques Lacan : See here     

& p15 ‘as Lacan says on page 110 of Encore, the supposed identity of the body’ – Seminar XX : 8th May 1973 : pXI 8-9 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation. Note Gallagher’s translation from unedited tapes differs markedly from Bruce Fink’s from the text edited by Jacques-Alain Miller ‘This is a popular formula, but it clearly says what it means because it rejoins exactly the barred subject, some consonance of which you have heard here. The subjet se barre, in effect, as I said and more often than in his turn.

‘You should note here simply that there is every advantage in unifying the expression for the symbolic, the imaginary and the real; as, I am saying to you in parenthesis, Aristotle did, in not distinguishing movement from alloisosis. Change and motion in space were for him but he did not know it – were for him the fact that the subject makes himself scarce. Obviously he did not have the true categories, but all the same he had a good sense of things. In other words, the important thing is that all of that sticks together sufficiently for the body to subsist, barring any accident as they say, external or internal; which means that the body is taken for what it presents itself to be: a closed body, as they say.

‘Who can fail to see that the soul, is nothing other than its supposed identity to itself? With everyting that is thought up to explain it. In short, the soul is what one thinks about the body, from the dominant side.’  : See Seminar XX : Encore 1972 – 1973 (from 21st November 1972) : Jacques Lacan or here     

& p15 ‘We identify the body and the being of life in some spontaneous, imaginary way. Lacan describes this in passing while talking about the rat in the labyrinth in the last chapter of the Seminar Encore.’  : pXIII 5 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, Seminar XX : 26th June 1973  ‘It gave rise to the fact that a grimace has emerged in the lowest depths of science that consists in asking how being can know anything whatsoever. 

‘It is comical to see how this question is supposedly answered. I will take the following as an example. Since the limit, as I first posited it, is constituted by the fact that there are beings who speak, people wonder what the knowledge of those who do not speak could be. They ask themselves about it. They do not know why they ask themselves about it. But they ask themselves about it all the same. So they build a little maze for rats, thanks to which, they hope to be on the right track about what is involved in knowledge. So what happens then? They hope they are on the right path because they hope a rat is going to show the capacity it has to learn to learn. To learn to do what? What interests it, of course. And they assume that what interests it, an assumption that is not absolutely groundless, must be, since they do not take the rat as a being but well and truly as a body which means that they view it as a unit. As a rat-unit. Now, they absolutely do not ask themselves what sustains the rat’s being, even though from all time, people have always imagined that being, that being must contain a sort of plenitude that is proper to it. Since that is where people began in first approaching what was involved in a being. Namely, that being is a body. They lucubrated a whole hierarchy, a whole scale of bodies, and they began, good God, with the notion that each one should know what keeps it in being. In other words they went no further than the idea that it was maintained there by something and that had to be its good, what gives it pleasure. 

‘But how does it happen, what change came about in discourse in order for people to suddenly question that being regarding the means it might have to go beyond itself, that is, to learn more than it (6) needs to know in its being to survive as a body?’ : See Seminar XX : Encore 1972 – 1973 (from 21st November 1972) : Jacques Lacan or here     

P15 Footnote 6. Joyce the symptôme : See Joyce the Symptôm (Sinthôme) I & II : 16th June 1975 : Jacques Lacanor here : p15 ‘He expounds on “man has a body” in one of his last texts, “Joyce-the-symptom,”’ p5 of text on of Joyce the Symptôme II : It’s precisely not to waste it, this commontation of sense, that I insist on the fact that man has a body, i.e. that he speaks through his body, i.e., that he speaks through his body. In other words, man naturally speaks through being 

p15 ‘but you find it already in Seminar II, page 73. He notes moreover that one has always had a body,’ : p72-73 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation, Seminar II : 12th January 1955 : ‘It is very odd to say, there’s a truly strange incoherence in saying – man has a body. For us it makes sense, it is even probable that it has always made sense, but it makes more sense for us than for anybody else, since, with Hegel and without knowing it, in so far as everybody is Hegelian without knowing it. we have pushed to an extreme degree the identification of man with his knowledge. which is an accumulated knowledge. It is very strange to be localised in a body, and this strangeness can’t be minimised, despite the fact that a great deal of time is spent puffing ourselves up and boasting about having reinvented human unity, which that idiot Descartes had cut in two. It is completely useless to make great declarations about returning to the unity of the human being, to the soul as the body’s form, with large dosages of Thomism and Aristotelianism. The division is here to stay. And that is why physicians of our day and age’ aren’t the physicians of other times, except those who spend their time convinced that there are temperaments. constitutions, and other things of that sort. The physician has with respect to the body the attitude of the man who dismantles a machine. All statements of principles notwithstanding, this attitude is a radical one. That’s the point where Freud started and that was his ideal – to do pathological anatomy, anatomical physiology. to discover what this little-complicated apparatus embodied there in the nervous system is for.’ : See Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here 

p16 Footnote 7. Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud : SE XVIII  p1-64 : ‘Biology is truly a land of umlimited possibilities. We may expect it to give us the most surprising information and we cannot guess what answers it will return in a few dozen years to the question we have put to it.’ : p60 of Ch VI, SE XVIII : see at here 

p17 ‘But Freudian biology is all the same biology. … The great reference is chapter VI of ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’. – SEXVIII p44 : see at here 

p18 Footnote 8 ‘In Chapter VI [SEXVIII p44] of ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ Freud explains the theory of the two categories of drives: the death drive seeking to restore the intimate state and the life drive, or sex drive, tending toward sexual conjunction and to “the coalescence of two germ-cells which are differentiated, tending to assure reproduction, to prolong the cell’s life and to lend it the appearance of immortality.” [Possibly SE XVIII p56]… “The greatest interest attaches from our point of view to the treatment ….or in other words, to surround themselves with a new soma.”’ – p46 of SE XVIII : see at here 

p20 Footnote 9  ‘ What disturbs Freud is that the somatic death only intervenes in the pluricellular, that is to say that death is a late acquisition. He says : “There can be no question of there having been death drives from the very beginning of life on this earth.”’ [SEXVIII p47 ChVI] : See Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud : SE XVIII  p1-64,   available see at here  

P21 ‘In a short circuit, in his introduction to what would become the Department of Psychoanalysis, Lacan curiously quantifies the imaginary and the real, a “space of life” (lieu de la vie): The following quote has not been found, “My imaginary and my real, through which are distinguished two spaces of life that science to this date strictly separates”.  Any help in locating this would be appreciated.    

& p21 ‘Perhaps even more startling as a short circuit in Lacan’s biology found on page 90 of Encore: “The function I give the letter is what makes it analogous to a germ.”’ – this is p97 Bruce Fink’s translation, Seminar XX : 20th March 1973, pIX 13 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation ‘I think that you sense here, the function that I give to the letter with respect to knowledge. It is one that I beg you not to slip too quickly onto the side of so-called messages. The one that makes it analogous to a germ cell. A germ cell that we ought so severely, if we are in the line of molecular physiology, that we ought so severely separate from the bodies to which it conveys life and death all together.’ : See Seminar XX : Encore 1972 – 1973 (from 21st November 1972) : Jacques Lacan or here  

 & p21 ‘Thus Lacan says : “Knowledge (savoir) is in the Other. It is knowledge which is supported by the signifier and which owes nothing to the knowing (connaissance) of life (vivant)”’ : Seminar XX : 20th March 1973 pIX 12 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation ‘There is thus deduced from the fact that knowledge is in the Other that it owes nothing to being except for the fact that this has carried its letter. From which it results that being can kill where the letter reproduces. But never reproduces the same, never the same being of knowledge. 

‘I think that you sense here, the function that I give to the letter with respect to knowledge. It is one that I beg you not to slip too quickly onto the side of so- called messages. The one that makes it analogous to a germ cell.’ : See Seminar XX : Encore 1972 – 1973 (from 21st November 1972) : Jacques Lacan or here  

P23 ‘…even when we apprehend it in the Freudian terms of ‘Inhibitions, Symptom and Anxiety’, as drive satisfaction.’ : Inhibitions, Symptoms & Anxiety : 1926d : Sigmund Freud, SEXX p75-175 : Download from at Part 1 & Part II  

P25 ‘Let’s look into chapter V [SEXVIII p34] of Beyond the Pleasure Principle where Freud develops what he will term in 1925 an extreme line of thought, susceptible of amendment and rectification. : See Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud : SEXVIII  p1-64,  available see at here  

P25 The demonstration attempted by Freud in chapters V [SEXVIII p34] and VI [SEXVIII p44] isolates a movement towards death that would affect the living as such. : See Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud : SEXVIII  p1-64,  available see at here   

P25 Freud says it explicitly in this extreme speculation: “The properties of life were roused in the inanimate matter by the action of a force.” See Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud : SEXVIII  p1-64,  available see at here 

p25 ‘Lacan, coherent with his point of departure, at once denies biological relevancy to death, conceived as the return of the animate to the inanimate. [See SEXVIII p38]  He develops it in Seminar II.’ : p80-81 of Sylvana Tomaselli’s translation, Seminar II : 19th January 1955 : ‘Freud here offered them the opportunity for yet one more misunderstanding, and in chorus they all succumb to it, in their panic.

‘The minimum tension can mean one of two things, all biologists will agree, according to whether it is a matter of the minimum given a certain definition of the equilibrium of the system, or of the minimum purely and simply, that is to say, with respect to the living being, death.

‘Indeed one can consider that with death, all tensions are reduced, from the point of view of the living being, to zero. But one can just as well take into consideration the processes of decomposition which follow death. One then ends up defining the aim of the pleasure principle as the concrete dissolution of the corpse. That is something which one cannot but see as excessive.

‘However, I can cite you several authors for whom reducing the stimuli to the minimum means nothing more nor less than the death of the living being. That is to assume that the problem has been resolved, that is to confuse the pleasure principle with what we think Freud designated under the name of the death instinct. I say what we think, because, when Freud speaks of the death instinct, he is, thank God, designating something less absurd, less anti-biological, anti-scientific.

‘There is something which is distinct from the pleasure principle and which tends to reduce all animate things to the inanimate – that is how Freud puts it. What does he mean by this? What obliges him to think that? Not the death of living beings. It’s human experience, human interchange, intersubjectivity. Something of what he observes in man constrains him to step out of the limits of life.

‘No doubt there is a principle which brings the libido back to death, but it doesn’t bring it back any old how. If it brought it back there by the shortest paths, the problem would be resolved. But it brings it back there only along the paths of life, it so happens. 

‘The principle which brings the living being back to death is situated, is marked out behind the necessity it experiences to take the roads of life – and it can only take that way. It cannot find death along any old road.’ : See Seminar II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: 1954-1955: begins 17th November 1954 : Jacques Lacan or here    

P26 Adaptation culminates in harmony. Therefore adaptation, fitting, or, as Lacan argues in “L’Étourdit”, trait by trait rapport between the Umwelt and the Innenwelt, between the exterior world and the animal’s interior world. Thus, a perfect inside/out between the organism and its mileu.  : See L’Étourdit: 14th July 1972 : Jacques Lacan or here or Jack W. Stone’s translation at   /lacan

p26 ‘In this respect Lacan admits the fact of repetition. He demonstrates that with regard to adaptation, repetition belongs to a register which is not at all biological, yet can only be thought in the register of language. This is already outlining, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, the place of the superego as principle of anti-vital repetition. : See Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud : SE XVIII  p1-64,  available see at here 

p27 ‘Thus he equates the drives of the ego to the drives of the living being sufficing its subsistence. In Chapter V [from p34 SEXVIII] of Beyond the Pleasure Principle you see Freud’s embarrassment with the term of the ego drives; throughout his difficult argumentation the drives of the ego become the drive of death. He starts putting the drives of the ego in brackets. : See Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud : SE XVIII  p1-64,  available see at here  

p27 ‘He states, nevertheless, about 1925, in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, that it is just a provisory appellation simply rooted in the first Freudian terminology. The drive of death, as it looms in Freud’s text, is the drive of the superego. Download from at Part 1   & Part II  

p28 Footnote 10  Seminar XI ‘Often I spoke about the drives in Lacan without underlining the evident and major fact that he annuls the Freudian dualism of the drives. He says it his way, discreetly, in The Four Fundamental Concepts : “The distinction between the life drive and the death drive is true in as much as it manifests two aspects of the drive. But all the sexual drives bring out death as signifier.” : quote from p257 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : Seminar XI : 17th June 1964 : ‘It is a question of this privileged object, discovered by analysis, of that object whose very reality is purely topological, of that object around which the drive moves, of that object that rises in a bump, like the wooden darning egg in the material which, in analysis, you are darning – the objet a.

‘This object supports that which, in the drive, is defined and specified by the fact that the coming into play of the signifier in the life of Man enables him to bring out the meaning of sex. Namely, that for man, because he knows the signifiers, sex and its significations are always capable of making present the presence of death.

‘The distinction between the life drive and the death drive is true in as much as it manifests two aspects of the drive. But this is so only on condition that one sees all the sexual drives as articulated at the level of significations in the unconscious, in as much as what they bring out is death – death as signifier and nothing but signifier, for can it be said that there is a being-for-death? In what conditions, in what determinism, can death the signifier, spring fully armed into treatment? This can be understood only by our way of articulating the relations.’ See Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts: 1963-1964 : beginning 15th January 1964 : Jacques Lacan or here  

p28 Footnote 11 Position of the unconscious : See The Position of the Unconscious (Bonneval Hospital): 31st October 1960: Jacques Lacan or here 

p28 ‘He is even clearer in the contemporary écrit to the above mentioned seminar, “position de l’inconscient” where he argues that “every drive is virtually drive of death.” This means but the annulment of the Freudian dualism.’ [Note, ‘Position of the Unconscious’ was given in 1960 and rewritten in 1964]

P28 ‘This double demonstration, scattered along Lacan’s teaching, finally results in the annulment of the dualism of the drives as well as allowing us today to say “the drive.” Freud himself indicates that the libido is found in the death drive when he defines, in chapter V, repetition as repetition of a primary satisfaction, a somehow washed out and inadequate repetition. Straightaway he posits failure as the foundation of repetition. The satisfaction attained by repetition is not the equivalent to mandatory satisfaction. There is always a deficit. : Beyond the Pleasure Principle : : 1920g : Sigmund Freud : SE XVIII  p1-64 : see at here

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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London

Further posts:

Some Lacanian history here

Lacanian Transmission here 

Of the clinic here

Translation Working Group here 

 From LW working groups here

Use of power here   

By Jacques-Alain Miller  here  

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here 

By Jacques Lacan here        

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here 

By Julia Evans here