On Lacan’s remarks on Chinese Poetry in Seminar XXIV : November 2009 : Adrian Price

by Julia Evans on November 1, 2009

Published : Hurly-Burly no 2, November 2009, p195-203

Available at www.LacanianWorksExchange.net /authors a-z

Linked texts:

The Purloined Letter and the Tao of the Psychoanalyst : 10th March 1999 (Paris) : Éric Laurent : Notes & References here

The Seminar of Barcelona on ‘Die Wege der Symptombildung
’ : probably Autumn 1996 : Jacques-Alain Miller : Notes & References here

François Cheng :


He did not become a novelist in French for many years. His first works were academic studies about Chinese poetry and painting. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he worked closely with the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan on studying and translating texts from the classical Chinese canon. These exchanges informed Lacan’s late teaching on psychoanalytic interpretation.[2] Later he began to write poems in French, before finally turning to the writing of novels.

References to François Cheng available here

References to Jacques Lacan :

P195: In L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue, c’est l’amour, Lacan’s twenty-fourth Seminar, delivered in 1976-77 following on from the year’s seminar dedicated to Joyce, Lacan makes two successive extended references to the art of poetry, the second directly concerning Chinese poetic writing. : Notes & References  Seminar XXIV : ‘L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre’ : 1976-1977 : begins 16th November 1976 : Jacques Lacan  or here : Available www.LacaninIreland.com

P195-196: During the occupation he enrolled at the Institut des langues orientales where he sat in on the lessons of the sinologist Professor Paul Demiéville [whom Lacan calls his “good mentor” in Seminar X, and whose “clodhoppers” we meet in Seminar VII, Lacan’s wife having met them in a hotel corridor in London.]  : See

1) Seminar X : 8th May 1963 : pXVII 156-157 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation (www.LacaninIreland.com) : Quote from the text – see a) below

2) Seminar VII : 22nd June 1960 : p291, 298, 297 & 298 of Dennis Porter’s translation : Notes & references Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: begins 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here : Quote in b) below

P196: Footnote 6 : Lacan J. Le séminaire, Livre XVIII, D’un discours qui ne serait pas du semblant, Paris, Seuil, 2006. P36 : ‘ By the seventies, Lacan would be referring back to this wartime period to claim that, “perhaps I’m only Lacanian because I did some Chinese back in the day.”’ : Notes & References : Seminar XVIII:On a discourse that might not be a semblance:1971: from 13th January 1971: Jacques Lacan or here : Seminar XVIII : 20th   January 1971 : pII 16-17 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : See c) below for quote

P196 : Footnote 7 See for example the reply to Question II in Radiophonie, Autres Écrits, Paris, Seuil, 2001 p407-415 : ‘It is not just Freud’s hand that Lacan has let go of, Lévi-Strauss…..’ : Notes & References Radiophonie: 9th April & 5th June 1970: Jacques Lacanor here : p6-7 of Jack W. Stone’s translation : see quote d)

P196 : Footnote 8 See for example the reply to Question III in Radiophonie, Autres Écrits, Paris, Seuil, 2001 p415-420 : ‘…..and Roman Jacobson, the two great pillars of structuralism, have also fallen by the wayside.’ : Notes & References Radiophonie: 9th April & 5th June 1970: Jacques Lacanor here : p12 of Jack W. Stone’s translation : see quote e)

P196 : Footnote 9 Laurent E, “The Purloined Letter and the Tao of the Psychoanalyst” in The Later Lacan, Suny especially p37-44 : ‘Éric Laurent pursues these references from the first period in depth in his paper on “The Purloined Letter” & the Dao of the Psychoanalyst. : Notes & references – The Purloined Letter and the Tao of the Psychoanalyst : 10th March 1999 (Paris) : Éric Laurent or here

P196 : Footnote 11 All references to Lacan, J. “Vers un signifiant nouveau” [Lessons of 15thMarch, 18 April, 10 May, 17 May 1977] in Ornicar? lssue17/18, Spring 1979, pp.7-23 : ‘Lacan’s use of Chinese poetry in Seminar XXIV is modest but solid and precise.’ : Notes, References & Availability Seminar XXIV : ‘L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre’ : 1976-1977 : begins 16th November 1976 : Jacques Lacan  or here

Quotes – If you are a psychoanalyst, then “take a leaf out of this book” he urges. : Probably Seminar XXIV : 19th April 1977 : p115 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : See quote f)

P197 : ‘In the lesson of 15thMarch 1977, Lacan says that poetry “appears to stem from the signifier’s relation to the signified.” : See quote g)  below

P197 : ‘Miller touches on this at the close of the 1996 Barcelona Seminar.’ : See The Seminar of Barcelona on ‘Die Wege der Symptombildung
’ : probably Autumn 1996 : Jacques-Alain Miller or here

P197 : ‘To say that something appears in the symbolic does not mean simply that there is an intrusion, a breakthrough, though of course anxiety does possess these characteristics, it also means that it appears framed. Lacan insists on this in the Anxiety Seminar. Anxiety is framed and in this sense, for all its affective force, it conforms to some extent to the symbolic. That is why it can be taken as a sign. A sign of desire for example. : Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962-1963: begins 14th November 1962: Jacques Lacan    or here : Quotes from Seminar X : 19th December 1962 & 16th January 1963 gives at h) below.

P197 : ‘The really symbolic is thus the lie that always comes back to the same place. Hence its profound affinity with the symptom.

In 1996, Miller acknowledges that this is far from being the last word on the subject. The seminar ends with the question, “when Lacan says that the symptom is real, which schema are we dealing with exactly?” : See The Seminar of Barcelona on ‘Die Wege der Symptombildung
’ : probably Autumn 1996 : Jacques-Alain Miller or here

P197 : On one hand, the symptom lies, whereas anxiety, according to the Seminar X definition, is what does not deceive. : See Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962-1963: begins 14th November 1962: Jacques Lacan    or here : Seminar X : 19th December 1962 : see i) below.

P198 : Footnote 14 : Lacan, J. “Vers un signifiant nouveau”, op cit., p.16. The question of metaphor and metonymy in Chinese poetry has been tackled by a number of English poets, from Ezra Pound to J. H. Prynne. See, for example, the latter’s “Image and Figure in Twentieth Century English Translation of Chinese Poetry”. ‘This is directly in line with what he puts forward in Seminar XXIV : “Metaphor and metonymy only have any impact with regard to interpretation in so far as they are capable of making something else function, and this something else is precisely that through which sound and meaning come to be tightly united.” : See Seminar XXIV : ‘L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre’ : 1976-1977 : begins 16th November 1976 : Jacques Lacan  or here : Seminar XXIV : 19th April 1977 : See j) below

P200 : ‘Lacan argues in ‘L’étourdit’ for an “apophantic” version of analytic interpretation.’ : See L’Étourdit: 14th July 1972 : Jacques Lacan or here : p17 of Jack W. Stone’s translation : see k) below

P201 : ‘We have examined two references to poetry in Seminar XXIV. There are others, the last of which I should like to consider by way of conclusion. In his lesson from 17th May 1977, Lacan repeats that poetry entails a meaning effect, but this time he adds that it also entails a “hole effect”. : See Seminar XXIV : ‘L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre’ : 1976-1977 : begins 16th November 1976 : Jacques Lacan  or here : Seminar XXIV : 17th May 1977 : p125 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : see l) below

P202 : Ultimately, as Cheng implies, Wang Wei’s poem opens onto the logic of sexuation. The codified symbolism does not exhaust this logic. It merely invokes, allusively, what Lacan in “L’étourdit” calls “a kernel of paradoxes” – the term he uses to designate the logical equivocation present at all levels of the efficient analytic interpretation. See L’Étourdit: 14th July 1972 : Jacques Lacan or here : p30 of Jack W. stone’s translation : see m) below

Quotations from the notes above

a) Seminar X : 8thMay 1963 : pXVII 156-157 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation (LacaninIreland.com), Notes & References : Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962-1963: begins 14th November 1962: Jacques Lacan or  here

The bodhisattvain question is called in Sanscrit – you have already heard tell of him, I hope; his name is widely known, especially in our own day; all of this turns around this sphere vaguely called the element for anyone who does yoga – the bodhisattvain question here is Avalokitesvara.

The first image, the one of the statue that I passed around among you, is a historical avatar of this Avalokitesvara. I thus took the right path before becoming interested in Japanese. Fate decreed that I should have elucidated with my good master Demieville, in the years when psychoanalysis allowed me more leisure, this book, this book which is called The Lotus and the True Law which was written in Chinese to translate a Sanscrit text by Kumarajiva. This text is more or less the historical turning point at which there appears the avatar, the singular metamorphosis that I am going to ask you to remember, namely that this bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara, the one who hears the tears of the world, is transformed from the time of Kumarajiva, who seems to be a little responsible for it, is transformed into a female divinity. This female divinity with whom I think you are also ever so little in accord with, in harmony with, is called Kuan-yin or again Kuan-shih-yin, this is also the meaning that Avalokitesvara has: it is the one who considers, who goes, who is in agreement. That is Kuan; this is the word I spoke to you about earlier and that is her wailing or her tears. Kuan-shih-yin – the “shih” can sometimes be effaced – the Kuan-yin is a female divinity. In China there is no ambiguity: the Kuan-yin always appears in a female form and it is at this transformation and on this transformation that I would ask you to dwell for a moment. In Japan these same words are written Kannon or Kann-ze-non, according to whether one inserts there or not the character of the world. Not all the forms of Kannon are feminine. I would even say that the majority of them are not. And because you have before your eyes the image of the statues of this temple, the same sanctity, divinity – a term which is to be left in suspense here – which is represented in this multiple form, you can see that the characters are provided with little moustaches and with tiny outlines of beards. Here therefore they are in a masculine form, which corresponds in effect to the canonical structure these statues represent, the number of arms and of heads involved. But it is exactly the same being that is involved as in the first statue whose representations I circulated among you. It is even this form which is specified, can be seen as “Nio-i-Yin”, Kannon or Kann-ze-non. “Nio-i-yin” in this case, which is therefore to be remembered here – there is a character which is going to be a little stifled, but after all not too much so – “Nio-i-yin” means “like the wheel of desires”. It is exactly the meaning that its correspondent in Sanscrit has.

Here then is what we find ourselves confronted with: what is involved is rediscovering in the most well-attested fashion the assimilation of pre-Buddhic divinities into the different stages of this hierarchy which thenceforth is articulated as the levels, the stages, the forms of access to the final realisation of beauty, namely to the final understanding of the radically illusory character of all desire.

b) Seminar VII : 22nd  June 1960 : p291, 296, 297 & 298 of Denis Porter’s translation : Notes & references Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: begins 18th November 1959 : Jacques Lacan or here Quote :

From p296 : I’m just going to tell you a little incident.

I was in London once in what they call a kind of “Home,” where I was being welcomed as a guest of an institution which disseminates French culture. It was in one of those charming little areas of London at some distance from the center, toward the end of October when the weather is often delightful. I was the recipient of a form of hospitality that was marked by a kind of Victorian monasticism in a charming little building. The style of the establishment was marked by the delicious smell of toast and the menace of those inedible gelatine desserts that they are in the habit of consuming over there.

I wasn’t alone but was with someone who has agreed to accompany me through life, one of whose characteristics is an extreme sense of uniqueness. In the morning this person, that is to say my wife, suddenly says out of the blue: “Professor D . . . is here.” He is or was one of my mentors at the Ecole des Langues Orientales. It was very early in the morning. “How do you know?” I asked her, since I assure you Professor D . . . is not a close friend of mine.

I was told: “I’ve seen his shoes.”
I must say that I couldn’t help feeling startled by that answer; I was also skeptical. To read the highly personal traits of an individuality into a pair of clodhoppers sitting outside a door didn’t seem to me to be sufficiently convincing evidence, and there was nothing else that allowed me to believe that Professor D . . . might be in London. I found the thing quite funny and didn’t attach any importance to it.

I made my way at that early hour along the corridors without thinking anything more about it. And it was then that to my astonishment I saw Professor D . . . in person slipping out of his bedroom in his dressing gown, exposing as he went a pair of long and highly academic drawers.

I find that experience highly instructive, and it is on that basis that I intend to suggest to you the notion of the beautiful.

Nothing less was required than an experience in which the universality [p297] was that was absolutely specific to Professor D . . . , for me to invite you quite simply to think of Van Gogh’s old shoes – on the basis of which Heidegger has given us a dazzling image of what a work of beauty is.

You must imagine Professor D . . .’s clodhoppers ohne Begriff, with no thought of the academic, without any connection to his endearing personality, if you are to begin to see Van Gogh’s own clodhoppers come alive with their own incommensurable quality of beauty.

They are simply there; they communicate a sign of understanding that is situated precisely at equal distance from the power of the imagination and that of the signifier. This signifier is not even a signifier of walking, of fatigue, or of anything else, such as passion or human warmth. It is just a signifier of that which is signified by a pair of abandoned clodhoppers, namely, both a presence and a pure absence – something that is, if one likes, inert, available to everyone, but something that seen from certain sides, in spite of its dumb- ness, speaks. It is an impression that appears as a function of the organic or, in a word, of waste, since it evokes the beginning of spontaneous generation.

That factor which magically transforms these clodhoppers into a kind of reverse side and analogue of two buds proves that it is not a question of imitation – something that has always taken in those who have written on the topic – but of the capture, by virtue of their situation in a certain temporal relationship, of that quality through which they are themselves the visible manifestation of beauty.

If you don’t find this example convincing, find others. What I am, in effect, attempting to show here is that the beautiful has nothing to do with what is called ideal beauty. It is only on the basis of the apprehension of the beautiful at the very point of the transition between life and death that we can try to reinstate ideal beauty or, in other words, the function of that which some- times reveals itself to us as the ideal form of beauty, and in the first place the famous human form.

c) Seminar XVIII : 20th   January 1971Seminar XVIII:On a discourse that might not be a semblance:1971: from 13th January 1971: Jacques Lacan or here

pII 16-17 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Someone, for example, that someone. must take responsibility for one day, is Baltazar Gracian, who was an eminent Jesuit, who wrote some of the most intelligent things that could be written. They are absolutely prodigiously intelligent in {?} everything that is involved, namely, to establish what one could call the sanctity of man, he resumes in one word, resumes it in what? His book on the Courtier, in a word, two points: to be a saint. It is the only point of western civilisation where the word saint has the same sense as in Chinese, Tchen-Tchen. Note this point, because, this reference, because same it is late, today, I am not going to introduce it today, I will give you this year some little references to the origins of Chinese thinking.

In any case, yes, I have noticed one thing, which is that perhaps I am a Lacanian because I formerly did Chinese.  I mean by that that I notice that in re-reading things like that, that I had gone over, but mumbled through anyway like a like a simpleton, with donkeys ears, I notice in re-reading them now that, it is on all fours with what I am telling you.

I don’t know, I will give an example; in Mencius, which is one of the fundamental, canonical books of Chinese thought, there is a chap who is his disciple moreover, not him, but who begins to state things like the following: “What you do not find on the side of yen, this is discourse, do not look for on the side of your spirit”. I translate it for· you as spirit, it is hsin, but that means, that by hsinwhich means heart, what he designated was well and truly the spirit, the Geistof Hegel. [Lacan comments further on Chinese symbols to the end of this session and the session of 10thFebruary 1971]

d) Radiophonie: 9th April & 5th June 1970: Jacques Lacan or here : p6-7 of Jack W. Stone’s translation : One seizes there the mirage of a common level with the universality of psychoanalytic discourse, but, and from the fact of who demonstrates it, without the illusion being produced. For it is not from the game of apologetical mythemes propagated by the Institutes that a psychoanalyst will ever make an interpretation.

That the cure can only happen in a particular language (which one calls: positive), even in playing at translating it, there constitutes a guarantee “that there is no metalanguage,” according to my formula. The effect of language is only produced there from crystallinguistics. Its universality is only rediscovered topology, inasmuch as a discourse displaces itself there. The topological access being there even pregnant enough for mythology to reduce itself to it at the extreme.

Shall I add that myth, in Lévi-Strauss’ articulation–that is: the only ethnological form to motivate our question–refuses all I promoted with the instance of the letter in the unconscious? It operates neither from metaphor, nor even from any metonymy. It does not condense, it explains. It does not displace, it lodges, even in changing the order of the tents.

It only comes into play in combining its heavy units, where the complement, from insuring the presence of the couple, only makes a background spring forth.

This background is precisely what pushes back its structure.

Thus in psychoanalysis (because also in the unconscious) the man knows nothing of the woman, nor the woman of the man. With the phallus is summed up the point of myth where the sexual is made passion of the signifier.

That this point seems moreover to multiply itself, this is what especially fascinates the academic who, from structure, has a horror of psychoanalysis. Whence proceeds the recruiting of the novices of ethnology.

Where an effect of humor is marked. Black, of course, in painting itself in sectarian favors.

Ah! for lack of a university that would be an ethnic group, let us go make from an ethnic group a university.

Whence the wager of this sin whose terrain is defined as the place to make a writing of a knowledge whose essence is to not be transmitted by a writing.

Despairing of ever seeing the last class, let us recreate the first, the echo of knowledge there is in classification. The professor only returns to the dawn . . . the one where the bats of Hegel already believe themselves.

e) Radiophonie: 9th April & 5th June 1970: Jacques Lacan or here : p12 of Jack W. Stone’s translation :

They did not yet blather about the listening, those who wanted me to give Jakobson more honor, for the use he was to me.

These are the same who since objected to me that this usage was not conformed to him in metonymy.

Their slowness to grasp it shows what cerumen7 separates them from what that they hear before they make a parable of it.

They will not take literally (á la lettre) that metonymy is indeed what determines as an operation of credit (Vershiebung means: veering) the unconscious mechanism itself where, however, it is the cash-balance-jouissance on which one draws.

f) – If you are a psychoanalyst, then “take a leaf out of this book” he urges. : Probably Seminar XXIV : 19thApril 1977 : p115 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

Seminar XXIV : ‘L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre’ : 1976-1977 : begins 16th November 1976 : Jacques Lacan  or here

Does truth waken up people or put them to sleep? That depends on the tone in which it is said. Spoken poetry is soporific. I take advantage of this to show the thing that François Cheng thought up. In reality he is called Cheng Tai-tchen. He put in François like that, as a way of being reabsorbed into our culture, which has not prevented him from maintaining very firmly what he says. And what he says, is L’écriture poétique chinoise (Chinese poetic writing), which is published by Seuil and I would really like you to follow the grain of it, follow the grain of it, if you are a psychoanalyst, which is not the case for everyone here.

If you are a psychoanalyst, you will see that these forcings by which a psychoanalyst can make something else ring out, something other than sense, for sense, is what resonates with the help of the signifier; but what resonates, does not go very far, it is rather flabby. Sense deadens things, but with the help of what one can call poetic writing, you can get the dimension of what one could call analytic interpretation.

g) References to poetry. : Seminar XXIV : 15th March 1977 : See Seminar XXIV : ‘L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre’ : 1976-1977 : begins 16th November 1976 : Jacques Lacan or here : P103 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation  : Poetry appears to me all the same to depend on the relation of the signifier to the signified. One could say in a certain way that poetry is imaginarily symbolic, I mean that, since Madame Kress-Rosen yesterday evoked Saussure and his distinction between the tongue and speech, not moreover without noting that as regards this distinction, Saussure had wavered; it remains all the same that his starting point, namely, that the tongue is the fruit of a maturation, of the ripening of something that is crystallised in usage, it remains that poetry depends on a violence done to this usage and that, – we have proofs of this – , if I evoked, the last time, Dante and love poetry, it is indeed to mark this violence, that philosophy does everything to efface, this indeed is why philosophy is the testing ground for swindling and why one cannot say that poetry does not play, in its own way, innocently, at what I called just now, what I connoted as imaginarily symbolic, that is called the Truth.

h) Seminar X : 19th December 1962 & 16th January 1963 :Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962-1963: begins 14th November 1962: Jacques Lacan  or here :

pVI 49 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : A mirror does not stretch out to infinity, a mirror has limits, and what reminds you of this is that, if you refer to the article from which this schema is taken, I take into account the limits of the mirror; one can see something in this mirror from a point situated, as one might say, somewhere in the space of the mirror, from which it is not perceptible by the subject.

In other words, I myself do not necessarily see my eye in the mirror, even if the mirror helps me to see something that I would not see otherwise. What I mean by that, is that the first thing to be advanced concerning the structure of anxiety, is something that you always forget in the observations where it reveals itself: fascinated by the content of the mirror, you forget its limits and the fact that anxiety is framed.

pVI 50-51 : But anxiety is different. If, in effect, expectation can serve among other means to frame it, in a word, there is no need for this expectation: the frame is always there! Anxiety is different. Anxiety is when there appears in this frame something which is already there much closer to home: Heim, the guest (1’hôte), you will say, and in a certain sense, of course, this unknown guest who appears in an unexpected fashion has a good deal to do with what is met with in the Unheimlich, but it is not enough to designate him in this way. For, as the term indicates to you very well as it happens in French, this guest, in the ordinary sense of the word, is already someone who has been well worked over in terms of expectation.

pVIII 73 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : It is in so far as this empty place is aimed at as such that there is established the always more or less neglected – and for good reasons – dimension of transference. That this place as such can be circumscribed by something which is materialised in this image, a certain edge, a certain opening, a certain gap where the constitution of the specular image shows its limits, this is the elective locus of anxiety.

This phenomenon of edge, in what opens like this window <> on privileged occasions, marks the illusory limit of this world of recognition, of the one that I call the stage. That it should be linked to this edge, to this framing, to this gap which is illustrated in this schema at least twice, in this edge here of the mirror and moreover in this little sign, <> that this is the locus of anxiety, is what you ought always to retain as the signal of what is to be sought for in the middle.

i) Seminar X : 19th December 1962 : Anxiety is not without an object : see Seminar X: The Anxiety (or Dread): 1962-1963: begins 14th November 1962: Jacques Lacan  or here : pVI 51 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Quote : This guest is already what had become hostile, had passed into the hostility by which I began this discourse about expectation. This guest, in the ordinary sense, is not the heimlich, it is not the person who lives in the house, it is someone hostile who has been softened, pacified, accepted. That which belongs to Heim, that which belongs to Geheimnis, has never passed through these detours when all is said and done, has never passed through these networks, through these sieves, through these sieves of recognition: it has remained unheimlich, less uninhabitable than inhabitant (moins inhabituable qu’inhabitant), less inhabitual than uninhabited (moins inhabituel qu’inhabité).

It is this emergence of the heimlich in the frame that constitutes the phenomenon of anxiety. And this is why it is wrong to say that anxiety is without an object. Anxiety has a completely different sort of object to any apprehension that has been prepared, structured, structured by what? By the grill of the cut, of the furrow, of the unary trait, of the “that’s it” which always in operating as one might say closes the lips – I am saying the lip or the lips – of this cut which becomes the sealed letter on the subject in order, as I explained to you the last time, to send him off under a sealed cover to different traces.

The signifiers make of the world a network of traces, in which the passage from one cycle to another is henceforth possible. What does that mean? What I told you the last time: the signifier generates a world, the world of the speaking subject whose essential characteristic is that it is possible to make a mistake about it.

j) Seminar XXIV : 19th April 1977 : p115 of Cormac Gallagher : See  Seminar XXIV : ‘L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre’ : 1976-1977 : begins 16th November 1976 : Jacques Lacan or here : It is quite certain that writing is not that by which poetry, the resonance of the body is expressed. It is all the same quite striking that the Chinese poets express themselves by writing and that for us, what is necessary, is that we should hold onto the notion, in Chinese writing, of what poetry is, not at all that all poetry – I am talking especially about ours – that all poetry is such that we can imagine it by writing, by poetic Chinese writing; but perhaps, you will sense something in it, something which is different than what ensures that Chinese poets cannot do otherwise than write. There is something that gives the feeling that they are not reduced there, the fact is that they sing, that they modulate, the fact is that there is what François Cheng enunciated before me, namely, a tonic counterpoint, a modulation which ensures that that it is sung, for from tonality to modulation there is a slippage. That you are inspired eventually by something of the order of poetry to intervene, is indeed why I would say, it is indeed something towards which you must turn, because linguistics is all the same a science that I would say is very badly orientated. If linguistics raises itself up, it is in the measure that a Roman Jakobson frankly tackles the questions of poetics. Metaphor, and metonymy, have an import for interpretation only insofar as they are capable of [p116] functioning as something else. And this other thing that they function as, is indeed that by which sound and sense are closely united.

It is in as much as a correct interpretation extinguishes a symptom, that the truth is specified as being poetic. It is not from the angle of articulated logic – even though on occasion I slip into it – it is not from the angle of articulated logic that we must sense the import of our saying, not at all of course that there is something which deserves to have two aspects. What we enunciate always, because it is the law of discourse, what we always enunciate as a system of opposition, is the very thing that we have to surmount, and the first thing would be to extinguish the notion of the Beautiful.

k) L’Étourdit: 14th July 1972 : Jacques Lacan or here : p17 of Jack W. Stone’s translation :

The important thing is that it is these other cuts that have an effect of topological subversion. But what to say of the change by them occuring?

We can denominate it topologically: cylinder, strip, Moebius strip. But finding there what there is of it in analytic discourse, can only be done in interrogating the rapport of the dire with the dit.

I say that a dire specifies itself from a demand of which the logical status is of the order of the modal, and that grammar certifies it.

An other dire,according to me, is privileged there: it is interpretation, which, itself, is not modal, but apophantic. I add that in the register of the logic of Aristotle, it is particular, from interesting the subject with particular dits,which are notall (free association) modal dits (demand among them).

Interpretation, have I not formulated it in its time, bears on the cause of desire, a cause it reveals, this by the demand which with its modal envelopes the set of the dits.

l) Seminar XXIV : 17th May 1977 : Seminar XXIV : ‘L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre’ : 1976-1977 : begins 16th November 1976 : Jacques Lacan or here : p125 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

What Freud enunciated and what I want to say, is the following: that in no case is there an awakening. Science, for its part, can only be indirectly evoked on this occasion, it is an awakening, but a difficult and suspect awakening. It is not sure that one is awake, unless what is presented and represented has, as I have said, no kind of sense. Now everything that is enunciated, up to the present, as science, is suspended on the idea of God. Science and religion go very well together. It’s a Dieu-lire! But this does not presuppose any awakening. Luckily, there is a hole. Between the social delusion and the idea of God, there is no common measure. The subject takes himself to be God, but he is impotent to justify that a signifier can be produced, a signifier S index 1, and still more impotent to justify that this S1, index 1, represents him for another signifier, and that it is through this that there pass all the effects of sense, which are right away blocked up, are in an impasse. There you are.

Man’s trick, is to stuff all of that, as I told you, with poetry which is a sense effect, but also a hole-effect. It is only poetry, as I told you, which permits interpretation, and that is why I no longer manage, in my technique, to get it to hold up; I am not enough of a pouâte, I am not pouâteassez!

m) p30 of Jack W. Stone’s translation :L’Étourdit: 14th July 1972 : Jacques Lacan or here :

Number 3 now: it is logic, without which interpretation would be stupid, the first to serve themselves of it being of course those who, to transcendentalize existence with the unconscious, arm themselves with Freud’s thesis that it is insensible to contradiction.

It has no doubt not yet occurred to them that more than one logic has taken advantage of interdicting this fundament, and of no less remaining “formalized,” which means proper to the matheme.

Who would reproach Freud for such an effect of obscurantism and the dark clouds that it immediately, from Jung to Abraham, accumulated in response to him?–Certainly not I who have also, to this place (of my inversion), some responsibilities.

I will recall only that no elaboration of logic, this beginning before Socrates and from elsewhere than our tradition, has ever proceeded except from a core [kernel] of paradoxes,–for having served itself with a term, receivable everywhere, by which we designate the equivoques which situate themselves by this point which, for having come here as third, is also first and second.

On what have I run aground this year in making felt the bath of Jouvence of which the matheme said logical has found for us its place and its vigor, are these the paradoxes not only refreshened from being promoted in new terms by Russell, but still original in coming from the dire of Cantor?



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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London


Further posts:

Lacanian Transmission here

Some Lacanian history here

Of the clinic here

Topology here

By Adrian Price here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Jacques Lacan in English or here

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here

By Julia Evans here