«re.press Melbourne 2013 re.press PO Box 40, Prahran, 3181, Melbourne, Australia © the individual contributors and re.press ...»
8. See Jacques-Alain Miller, “Commentary on Lacan’s Text,” in Reading Seminars I and II, eds. Richard Feldstein, Bruce Fink, and Marie Jaanus (Albany: SUNY Press, 1996), 426: “What Freud calls the drive is an activity which always comes off. It leads to sure success, whereas desire leads to a sure unconscious formation, namely, a bungled action or slip: ‘I missed my turn,’ ‘I forgot my keys,’ etc. That is desire. Drive, on the contrary, always has its keys in hand.” I will come back to the question of the drive being an “activity.”
9. Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1978), 167.
10. See Lacan, Écrits, 691: “Thus the desire is neither the appetite for satisfaction [as in need] nor the demand of love, but the difference resulting from
the subtraction of the former from the latter ….” The simplest formula is:
desire is demand minus need.
11. For many insights concerning this issue I am very much indebted to the
work accomplished by Alenka Zupančič in Ethics of the Real (London:
Verso, 2000), 238 ff. and passim, and in a more elaborate form in her work published so far only in Slovene. See also Miller.
12. Sigmund Freud, “Instincts and Their Vicissitudes,” in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. James Strachey, et. al. (London: The Hogarth Press, 1953-1974), 14: 122-123. Note, I have modified Strachey’s translation of Trieb to drive.
13. See Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 168: “As far as the oral drive is concerned … it is obvious that it is not a question of food, nor of the memory of food, nor the echo of food, nor the mother’s care, but of…the breast …. If Freud makes a remark to the effect that the object in the drive is of no importance, it is probably because the breast, in its function as object, is to be revised in its entirety. To this breast in its function as object … we must give a function that will explain its place in the satisfaction of the drive. The best formula seems to me to be the following—that la pulsion en fait le tour …. Tour is to be understood here with the ambiguity it possessThe Enjoying Machine es in French, both turn, the limit around which one turns, and trick.” In the footnote in the English translation, the proposed English equivalents for the French phrase are “the drive moves around the object” and “the drive tricks the object.”
14. Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 179-180.
15. I am here leaving aside the tricky problem of the subject of the drive. The least one can say is that it is not a subject in the standard Lacanian sense of the barred subject, but something that Lacan somewhat mysteriously calls “a headless subject,” for want of a better word: “what I have metaphorically called a headless subjectification, a subjectification without a subject, a bone … ” (Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 184). One cannot but recall here Hegel’s notorious dictum that “the Spirit is a bone”— should one say the bone of headless enjoyment seeking a subject? The headless subject as a by-product of a by-product?
16. Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 196.
17. Ibid., 196-198.
18. Ibid., 205.
19. Ibid., 197.
20. Ibid., 197-198.
21. Lacan, Écrits, 853.
22. Freud, “Instincts and Their Vicissitudes,” 122.
23. Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 200. The example doesn’t quite work by Lacan’s own standards, since he has spent much time and effort demonstrating that the drive is not to be confused with perversion. Masochism, like any perversion, proceeds from a subject seeking enjoyment, and as in every perversion, the dimension of the Other looms very large, since the enjoyment that is at stake in perversion is the enjoyment of the Other.
(See, for example, Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 185: “the sadist himself occupies the place of the object, but without knowing it, to the benefit of an other, for whose jouissance he exercises his action as sadistic pervert.”) The drive’s bondage, on the other hand, is not with the Other.
24. I am well aware that I am twisting Benveniste’s famous account of the “medium,” or “middle,” here for the current purpose.
25. See Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 166: “It is clear that those with whom we deal, the patients, are not satisfied, as one says, with what they are. And yet, we know that everything they are, everything they experience, even their symptoms, involves satisfaction. They satisfy something that no doubt runs counter to that with which they might be satisfied, or rather, perhaps, they give satisfaction to something. They are not content with their state, but all the same, being in a state that gives so little conPenumbra tent, they are content. The whole question boils down to the following— what is contented here?”
26. Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 183. See also Écrits, 851: “This gap is the gap desire encounters at the limits imposed upon it by the principle ironically called the pleasure principle, which relates it to a reality for which one can say it is here but the field of praxis. It is from precisely that field that Freudianism rends desire, whose principle essentially consists in impossibilities.”
27. Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 273.
28. The master-slave relationship, at least the way Lacan reads it, can be taken as a case of obsessional interpassivity. See Lacan, Écrits, 314: “In fact the obsessional subject manifests one of the attitudes that Hegel did not develop in his dialectic of master and slave. The slave has given way in the face of the risk of death in which mastery was being offered to him in a struggle of pure prestige. But since he knows that he is mortal, he also knows that the master can die. From this moment on he is able to accept his laboring for the master and his renunciation of enjoyment in the meantime; and, in the uncertainty of the moment when the master will die, he waits.” It is perhaps rather ironic to see interpassivity in the attitude of someone who works very hard, who is indeed “slaving,” and appears to be anything but passive, but the hard work is conditioned and framed by the delegation of enjoyment—that is what keeps it going: “Let the other enjoy so that I don’t have to.” If striving for enjoyment demands strenuous activity, this is but a trifle compared to the hard labor one has to perform in order to prevent enjoyment.
29. Lacan, Écrits, 851-854.
Pierre Loves Horranges Lévinas-Sartre-Nancy: An Approach to the Fantastic in Philosophy Catherine Malabou In this essay, I will try to situate the question of the fantastic in philosophy.
Upon this road, there are three great predecessors, three decisive approaches to the question: Lévinas, Sartre, Nancy. Rather than beginning with a discussion of what the fantastic in philosophy is not or cannot be (for example, a “genre,” as in literature), I will open by indicating what it is susceptible to become: a new category, designed to characterize what I will name the real of ontological difference. Indeed, the fantastic designates a certain modality of the real—a real that, we will see, exceeds the real and outstrips it; like every self-respecting version of the fantastic, the fantastic in philosophy is the real irruption of the extraordinary, something foreign to the real, in the real. Accordingly, this in-excess-of-the-real must lead back to the ontological problematic from which it arises and to the phenomenon that it characterizes: the appearance in reality of ontological difference. What is fantastic is this appearance; what is fantastic is the reality of the difference between Being and beings. This reality is what all three of Lévinas, Sartre and Nancy call existence – and this is precisely what authorizes their strange grouping.
What is fantastic is existence conceived as the reality of the difference between Being and beings. The “definition”—if it is one—is now complete. And since our conference is oriented by “sense,” the question of sense, you will have understood that I intend, in my own way, to question the sense of existence or, at least, of that existence.
I turn back to my “definition”: the fantastic is existence conceived as the reality of the difference between Being and beings. Two aspects of this definition are particularly noticeable. First, it entails a relation to the image, contained in the etymology of the word “fantastic”—fantasma, fantastikè.
Second, it entails a reference to Heidegger. The reference may be oblique or contorted, but this torsion precisely situates the distance and the proximity 104 Penumbra of Lévinas, Sartre, and Nancy from Heideggerian philosophy. In my definition of the fantastic, the reference to Heidegger is indirect in more than one manner. On the one hand, Heidegger never spoke of a reality of ontological difference. He perhaps never spoke of reality at all—since, as we know, the two concepts of Realität and Wirklichkeit were deconstructed in Being and Time.
Accordingly, on the other hand, Heidegger never thought that existence could continue to designate, as it is does within the metaphysical tradition, something like “reality.” Finally, even though he was intent upon elucidating the status of the image and imagination, Heidegger never confused the image, das Bild, with the simple “phantasm,” nor imagination, die Einbildung, with fantasizing (Phantasie). But, one will object, Lévinas, Sartre and Nancy did not either! Nevertheless, a sustained reading of their works will show that they displaced the Heideggerian thinking of the image and the imagination;
that, at the same time, they displaced the sense of ontological difference; and that they thereby displaced the sense of existence toward another imagination, another difference, another existence.
The fantastic, conceived as the reality of the difference between Being and beings, thus names a certain Heideggerian inheritance that displaces what it inherits. Lévinas, Sartre, Nancy, as faithful and unfaithful inheritors, seek to bring to light, that is also to produce, the effect of Heidegger’s thought in the real; the way in which ontological difference now constitutes the real of philosophy, what there is to think. The fantastic thus characterizes the effect in the real of deconstruction (Destrucktion, Abbau)—the deconstruction of the image, of the real. Further, this effect, the effect of Heideggerian thought in the real, is existence, the emergence of a new signification of existence, which is no longer stricto sensu Heideggerian and no longer simply designates Dasein’s mode of being, but rather the irruption of ontological difference in the real and as the real. Existence should here be understood as the concretion or concreteness
of difference. Lévinas, Sartre and Nancy all speak of the materiality of difference. Existence is what returns, materially, after Heidegger’s disappearance:
the fantastically real inheritance of Heidegger.1 Everything begins with a contrasense: Sartre translates Dasein by “human reality” and thus transforms the ontological difference, which Heidegger explicitly presented as the difference between Being and beings, into the difference between existence and the existent. What Heideggerian did not decry the scandal! This or these “constrasenses,” among other things, meant that Sartre would be purely and simply excluded from the circle of “true” philosophers. However, it is ever more apparent to me that this or these “contrasenses” are not in fact contrasensical, at least not entirely; and that Sartre’s “translations” are pregnant—even their author knows nothing about it—with a truth whose sense could only appear later, much later—today, when what there is to think is precisely existence as the reality of ontological difference, the fantastic return of existence after Heidegger, after Heidegger’s existence.
Pierre Loves Horranges Lévinas-Sartre-Nancy Reading a passage from Being and Nothingness will confirm that, when it came to the matter of the fantastic, Sartre knew what he was talking about.
To engage or reengage the truth of Sartre’s “contrasenses,” I have decided to let Lévinas speak first; for, starting with his earliest texts, Lévinas also turns the difference between Being and beings into the difference between “existing” and “existents.” In Time and the Other, for example, he declares: “We return again to Heidegger. One cannot ignore his distinction… between Sein and Seiendes, Being and beings, but which, for reasons of euphony, I prefer to render as existing and existent, without ascribing a specifically existentialist meaning to these terms.”2 The question of the fantastic, for Lévinas, is linked to the difference between “existing” and “existents.” The fantastic, for him, is the mode of being of what does not exist… and thus of existing itself. “I would gladly say,” the author continues in Time and the Other, “that existing does not exist.”3 This declaration is easy to understand to the extent that “existing” characterizes the mode of being of something that is not a being, the mode of being of Being itself, or of the being—Dasein—which has an understanding of its own Being.
Even as the Lévinasian concept of existence presents itself, at first, as the translation of Heidegger’s concept, it will very quickly be distinguished from that concept. As Lévinas comments on Heidegger in Time and the Other, he insists upon the fact that it is not possible to think Being and beings without one another; that their difference unites them; and that Being is always the being of a being. “Existing,” he says, “is always grasped in the existent.”4 There is no existence or existing “without existents.”5 Accordingly, it is at the moment when he elucidates the meaning of Geworfenheit that Lévinas bifurcates, as it were; it is at this moment that he parts company with Heidegger and displaces difference for reasons other than “euphony.” He begins by recalling that “Geworfenheit should be translated as ‘the-fact-of-being-thrown-in’… existence.” Therefore, there is no existing
without existents. Nonetheless, he adds: