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Clinical observation now obliges us to divide up what we have hitherto regarded as a single entity; for it shows us that besides the idea, some other element representing the instinct has to be taken into account, and that this element undergoes vicissitudes of repression which may be quite different from those undergone by the idea. For this other element of the psychical representative the term quota of affect has generally been adopted. It corresponds to the instinct insofar as the latter has become detached from the idea and finds expression, proportionate to its quantity, in processes which are sensed as affects. From this point on, in describing a case of repression, we shall have to follow up separately what, as the result of repression, becomes of the idea, and what becomes of the instinctual energy linked to it (SE 14: 152, emphasis added).
Thus, besides the ideas which are “cathected with a definite quota of psychical energy,” we must now confront a “quota of affect,” an element that is “detached from the idea” and given a different destiny (“this element undergoes vicissitudes of repression which may be quite different from those undergone by the idea”).
42 Penumbra This new division between the field of representation and the “quota of affect” is not easy to grasp. We cannot simply speak of a difference between the “idea” and “energy”—as if it were a matter of separating the “psychic” domain of representation from that of “bodily” experience or affective “energy.” For one thing, the “psychic” domain already entails a certain appeal to “energy” or “libido” [Freud thus speaks of “an idea or group of ideas which is cathected with a definite quota of psychical energy (libido or interest)”]; for another thing, this new “element,” in being distinguished from the “idea,” is not a bodily “experience” that would be altogether unrelated to the sphere of representation (Freud thus writes that “some other element representing the instinct has to be taken into account,” and goes on to offer the following definition: “For this other element of the psychical representative the term quota of affect has generally been adopted” [emphasis added]). On the side of the “psychic representation” there is “energy,” and on the side of the affect there
is “representation.” Nevertheless, if this new development is serious, we cannot simply obliterate the distinction Freud seeks to make. This much is clear:
instead of a simple division between the “psychic” sphere of mediation and representation, and the “bodily” sphere of immediate presence and natural energy, we are concerned with a more complex and tangled relation, but one in which it is still possible and necessary to differentiate, and “to follow up separately,” what Freud here calls—in a tentative and no doubt problematic way—the “idea” and the “instinctual energy linked to it.” One might say that he seeks to isolate, not an “outside” to representation, a domain of natural immediacy that no representation would affect (the familiar notion of “instinct”), but rather a point within the domain of representation that remains essentially foreign, excluded, and impossible to present. Such is the relation between the symbolic and the real—the latter understood not as a “prelinguistic reality,” but as an effect of the symbolic law that is nevertheless not reducible to a symbolic phenomenon. In Lacanian terms, we are concerned here with the difference between the Other and the object a, and it is above all the theory of the drive that forces us to acknowledge this distinction.
1. Sigmund Freud, “Instincts and Their Vicissitudes,” The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. James Strachey, et. al. (London: The Hogarth Press, 1953-1974), 14: 117-40. Freud’s works
will be cited by volume and page number preceded by SE. Other abbreviations used in the text are as follows: E = Jacques Lacan, Écrits (Paris:
Seuil, 1966). A portion of this volume has appeared in English as Écrits:
A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977). References will be given to both volumes, whenever possible, French pagination first, English second. FS = Jacques Lacan and the École freudienne, Feminine Sexuality, The Elements of the Drive eds. Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose, trans. Jacqueline Rose (New York: Norton, 1985). SXI = Le Seminaire, livre XI: Les quatres concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller (Paris: Seuil, 1973), and The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (Seminar 11), trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1978). References will be given to both volumes, French pagination first, English second; translations are occasionally modified. T = “Television,” trans. Denis Hollier, Rosalind Krauss, and Annette Michelson in Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment, ed. Joan Copjec (New York: Norton, 1990).
2. Although the difference between “instinct” and “drive” (Instinkt and Trieb) is commonly cited in secondary literature on Lacan, where it is understood as distinguishing biological models of animal behavior from human sexuality in its relation to the symbolic order, it should be stressed that this common and obvious point of departure is not shared by other psychoanalytic schools. One has only to look at the dictionary of the American Psychoanalytic Association to find “instinct” defined as “a term introduced by biologists, mainly students of animal behavior, which has been widely applied to the behavior of humans”—a definition which is later linked to “species-typical patterns of behavior, presumed to be rooted in innate, gene-determined equipment,” and that instinct theory consequently addresses “those aspects of humanness directly continuous with related species.” The dictionary goes on to acknowledge that Freud’s German term “Trieb” cannot be altogether integrated with the Latin “instinct,” and that “English-speaking readers were thrown into confusion by Strachey’s decision to translate Trieb as “instinct,” since Trieb does not designate, as instinct does, “a motivational force that always results in a specific pattern of behavior,” but rather a “sum total of the mental representations that might be associated with a given somatic process.” Nevertheless, this acknowledgment of a difference between instinct and drive is not decisive, and in their definition of “instinctual drive”—a term which seems to collapse the distinction, or at least loses the decisive theoretical decision which Lacan insists upon—the editors explain that for Freud, “Triebe are based on innate givens, gene-determined potentials present from birth.” See Psychoanalytic Terms and Concepts, ed. Burness E. Moore, M. D., and Bernard D. Fine, M. D. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), 99-101.
3. Jacques Lacan, Écrits (Paris: Seuil, 1966), 518. Écrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977), 166. References will henceforth appear in the text preceded by E, French pagination first, English (wherever possible) second. Translations are occasionally modified.
4. Slavoj Žižek, Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan Through Popular Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991), 21.
5. Charles Shepherdson, “Adaequatio Sexualis: Is There a Measure of Sexual 44 Penumbra Difference?” From Phenomenology to Thought, Errancy, and Desire: Essays
in Honor of William J. Richardson, S. J., ed. Babette Babich (Dordrecht:
Kluwer, 1995), 445-71.
6. Martin Heidegger, On the Way to Language, trans. P. Hertz and J. Stambaugh (New York: Harper and Row, 1971), 114. Further references will appear in the text preceded by OWL.
7. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), 368. I have cited the German pagination given marginally in the English texts. For Derrida’s remarks on this passage, see Jacques Derrida, Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question, trans. Geoff Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 25. My citation of Heidegger combines the translation of Macquarrie and Robinson with that of Bennington and Bowlby.
8. First developed in “Three Essays” (SE 7: 130-243), where one finds sections on the constitutive deviations with respect to the “object,” “aim” and “source,” together with a section on “the libido theory” in which “quantitatively variable force” is considered; these four terms are elaborated in “Instincts and Their Vicissitudes” (SE 14: 122-25).
9. This sentence is found only in the English edition of the seminar, in a preface written in 1976.
On the Proper Name as the Signifier in its Pure State Russell Grigg In his seminar, Identification, Lacan paused for a moment over the logic of the proper name as articulated by Bertrand Russell.1 Lacan’s interest was aroused by the critique of the Russellian theory of the proper name that figured in a small polemical book by Alan Gardiner.2 This moment is of interest to us as one of the rare occasions upon which Lacan explicitly treats the question of the logic of proper names, which is, as we know, a central question in analytic philosophy—and a question to which Russell’s contribution is in no way insignificant. Thus it can serve as a point of departure for an exploration of the function of the proper name in psychoanalysis.
First of all, we must ask what leads Russell to advance a far-fetched thesis—which if taken literally is “obviously false from the point of view of common language”3 —according to which only “this” and “that” are proper names.
Bertrand Russell’s position, of course, lies with the Fregean theory of the proper name with its distinction between sense, Sinn, and reference, Bedeutung.
According to Frege, the sense of the proper name is the means by which it determines its reference, the meaning. For example, concerning the proper name Socrates, one knows who is referred to by means of a description of this kind—“Plato’s teacher.” It is for this reason that Russell can maintain that what “common language” calls a proper name—Socrates, Walter Scott—is properly speaking an abbreviated description. In using the word Socrates, one employs a description such as “Plato’s teacher” or “the philosopher who drank hemlock.” 46 Penumbra Now, a proper name in the sense called “logical” by Russell absolutely cannot abbreviate a description and therefore, strictly speaking, has no sense.
Only the demonstratives “this” and “that” would satisfy the requirement of being devoid of sense in a manner such that the reference would be determined without any recourse to the slightest description. Thus they are the only words worthy of being called proper names.
Gardiner aligns himself rather with J. S. Mill, for whom that which distinguishes a proper name is, on the one hand, not to have sense and on the other, to be of the order of a mark applied to a particular for the sole and exclusive reason of distinguishing it from others.4 Even when the name appears to have sense—Mill offers as an example “Dartmouth,” the city that is located “at the mouth” of the river Dart—it is merely contingent, given that eventually the sense might no longer be true of the object to which the name refers. What distinguishes the proper name, according to Gardiner, is that it be recognized as indicating the object to which it refers itself as a distinctive sound, without regard to any meaning the name might possess.
Lacan mentions that this definition is not sufficient to characterize the proper name because any usage of language satisfies these conditions—it is precisely the characteristic feature of language that it be made up of distinctive sounds. This is a difficulty that Gardiner is aware of, and which leads him to rely on a psychologistic element—namely that when it comes to proper names, the speaker is particularly sensitive to the sound of the name.
In any case, this is certainly the distinctive feature of the name that Gardiner insists upon to sustain his thesis. He criticizes the reference that Mill makes to the story of Ali Baba. Mill compares the proper name to the chalkmark on Ali Baba’s door that indicates his house so that the bandits can find him. His servant, Morgiana, thwarts the thieves by marking every door with the same symbol, making it impossible to figure out which house is his.
No, says Gardiner. The comparison is faulty. All Morgiana would need to do to foil the plan of the thieves would be to put a different mark on each door—leaving them unable to tell which mark was the right one. A name doesn’t distinguish one door from another by the fact that it has a name whereas the others don’t—but rather by the fact that its name is different from theirs.
While this critique of Mill hits its mark, a difficulty that Gardiner is aware of arises precisely at this point in his argument. As a matter of fact, what Gardiner says doesn’t define the proper name, because every word is distinguished by its difference from all the others. Thus there is nothing in this definition that is specific to the proper name. And it is precisely at this point, in trying to determine the difference, that Gardiner appeals to a psychological phenomenon. This is a difficulty that he won’t be able to resolve.
On the Proper Name as the Signifier in its Pure State A proper name has no meaning. It only has a reference. Now, as it happens there are, on the one hand, proper names that do appear to have a sense—Mont Blanc, Yarmouth, Côte d’Azur—and on the other, connotations and meanings do tend to accrue to proper names. These considerations force Gardiner to maintain that the “purest” proper names are those made up of “perfectly distinctive” and “entirely arbitrary” sounds for which we have no feeling of meaning. But what are his examples? Vercingetorix and Popocatepetl! I’m not making this up.