During the month of June, 1958, Jacques Lacan attempted to publish his conference paper “True and False Psychoanalysis.” The paper was rejected. Consequently, it was not published in its original French version until 1992 (in Freudiana, along with an adequate Spanish translation). My current 2013 translation – published in the next issue of Re-Turn: A Journal of the Unconscious – is based off of the French version which appeared in l’Âne, 1992, No. 51, p. 24 to 27. We are lucky to be living during a time of the resurgence of speculative thought. While speculative thought will get none of us anywhere within the university it will nonetheless find itself like a parasite in the minds of those who matter within and without the university – those without a home within the walls of the discourse through which the university speaks.
My objective today is to work toward a hyper-translation of the 1992 version of “True and False Psychoanalysis”. In one sense, my original translation is insincere insofar as it lists me as a “translator” of Lacan’s text. In point of fact, the translator is not immune from his symptom and so, for that reason, I believe a true translation, if the word “true” means anything at all for psychoanalysis, is one that always finds itself at the point of the hyper-translation. The hyper-translation is the only true translation, anything less is therefore a false translation. We thus have, within the human world, at least two possibilities: true translations and false translations. The true translation occurs among hysterics and aspiring analysts and the false translation occurs among students and politicians.
Owing to the curious status of truth within psychoanalytic thinking we can claim that translations are true only if they operate at the twin levels of the symbolic (e.g., from Lacan’s earliest schema, schema l, we can describe this as the $ to A). The false translation is the one that remains within the twin level of the imaginary (e.g., the a’ to a relation). We know very well, then, that the false translation is the one that does not struggle intimately with the text in order to arrive at the text’s, as well as the subject’s, own unconscious truth. To be sure, during the moment of translation, this truth is a mutual truth – it is intimately external, it is extimate, it is a truth shared within the company of two. The true translation, the hyper-translation, is the one that is true precisely because the truth of the text speaks through the subject of the translation. A true translation does not operate according to the law of the one: one objective text, one correct translation, one absolute, mystical, connection.
It is not without thinking that I’ve decided that the word “true” and “false” carry a lot of weight within the psychoanalytic community. These words are simply names that we give to the logic of the world in which analysts find themselves. The true logic is the one that maximally identifies the translator in the text, the false logic is the one that minimally connects a translator to his text. To distinguish a true translation from a false translation is therefore a practice of distinguishing a translation which is tightly woven symbolically from one which is loosely woven through the imaginary. It is the same with psychoanalysis, we must distinguish true psychoanalysis from false psychoanalysis by remaining committed to a notion of authenticity and truth. Moreover, we must ensure the continuation of psychoanalytical thinking (the concept of “thinking” is explained here) by authenticating our truth through clinical experience. And we must authenticate our translation just as we authenticate our truth: not only in the various beneficial changes in the translator as well as the general audience of new readers but also as the revelation of the effective structure of facts that hitherto remained inexplicable to the two. A translation must bring about a new fact and that new fact must be a response to the truth which dominates the exercise. The translator is the one who permits the truth to speak.
It takes merely a moment of reflection to note the importance that an understanding of the relation (rapport) of man to speech (parole) is the basis upon which the translation is made possible. It is not, as one might prematurely conclude, the relation of man to the text that serves as the basis of the translation. First, the translator speaks, and only then does he write – and if the translation is false then the translation will have been as empty as empty speech itself. The translator speaks in response to that which provoked him and that which provoked him was not the text but the reality of his symptom. This is why we can not neglect the foundation of speech (parole) for the translation. We must ask ourselves how it is that that translator’s affects – his admiration of certain special words, his love of the author Dr. Lacan, and so on – become known through the product of his written speech? To what extent can we claim that the biology of the text, the body of the text, be claimed as the substratum of the translation?
The true psychoanalyst must convince himself of the importance of Freud’s genius in the area of the interpretation of dreams, of the psychopathology of everyday life and wit, and this can only compel us to inscribe that which comes to light through knowledge (connaissance) and praxis in the name of the unconscious. It can be recognized in the battles waged between translators and translations: the laws and specific effects of language embody a logic and causality. Only the causal logic of psychoanalysis, which comes not before the text and not after the translation, but precisely during speech (parole), is capable of providing us with the required logical sense. The cause, then, of the translation is what is at stake when we remark upon the symptom of the translator. The role of the translator, if it is truly his role and not a role imposed upon him by the speaking truth, is to ensure that the translation not fall into the academic trap of naïvely repeating that which was said to be the cause of the translation: a text, of one sort of another, which, however simple, is as it was before the translator brought his own desire into it. This cause, which is surely the false cause, can only lead to the false translation. The goal of the translation is not to allow the text to be assimilated into the rubric of psychology or university discourse but rather to work through a truth by way of the new subject position. A translation is always a truth speaking. The subject is the effect of the translation.
This much leads us toward a logical understanding of a new truth. Lacan argued, in his original text, that “[l]anguage has shifted the center of gravity in the human sciences but it retains that anthropocentrism of which Freud’s discovery claimed to have ruined the last stronghold by denouncing the autonomy of the conscious subject.” Could it not be that recent developments in ontology have shifted the center of gravity within psychoanalysis even while psychoanalysis nonetheless retains that anthropocentrism of which Lacan’s discovery claimed to have ruined the last stronghold by denouncing the autonomy of the conscious subject? If it is so – and I believe that it is – then this implies that the new developments begin from a thinking about the ontology of gravity itself (the relations between and within objects in the world) and toward the unconscious of the subject rather than from the conscious subject toward the unconscious subject. Is it any wonder that Levi Bryant’s latest work (Levi is a former Lacanian analyst) has focused on the ontology of gravity as laid out by dear Einstein? In all of this, what finally is the object of the new truth? I contend that we are can still remain true to Lacan’s teaching on this matter. We simply move from das Ding toward objet petit a, rather than from objet petit a toward das Ding.
Lacanians have long noted the inadequacy of the original schema (schema l) due to its avoidance of the category of the real. Thus, it was a real development when schema R mapped the place of the real within the mobian topology of the original schema. The practice of translating, understood psychoanalytically, remains tied to the intersubjective model of the former but it does not, for that reason, become reduced to to it. There is an “other scene” within psychoanalysis and the concept we have given it is the “unconscious” – however, there is still yet an-other scene for psychoanalysis itself, one that is materially unconscious and not only psychically unconscious. Psychoanalysis itself is blind to its own material unconscious and this, precisely, is the place of the ding. In this latter case, we receive our message back in an inverted form only because the language through which we access that matter resists or withdraws from psychoanalytical understanding. Thus, when we overmine or undermine we are, in all cases, answering our own question and receiving back our own speech (parole). Is this not the method we ought to use to understand how we might move outside of the psychoanalytic reduction of objects to psychical access? Lacan was correct when he claimed that the imaginary has exerted pressure on these same people, namely psychoanalysts, who discovered the dialectical forms through which the subject is revealed symbolically. However, what he failed to note was that the same people, once again, were pressured by the symbolic when they also discovered the dialectical forms through which the subject is constructed materially and in the real.