Here is a translation I did several years ago of Jacques Lacan’s 1968 interview “The Psychoanalyst’s Point of View, ‘Neurosis and Psychosis: Where Does Abnormal Begin?'” This is for private study only.
Here is a translation I did a few years ago of Jacques Lacan’s “True and False Psychoanalysis” (1958). I did a number of other translations and I will post them as I find them. These are for private use only (for study).
Commentators often prematurely punctuate the first sentence of the foundational act, forgetting about the second part: “I found – as alone as I have always been in my relation to the psychoanalytic cause – L’Ecole Française de Psychanalyse, of which, for the four coming years in which nothing in the present forbids me to answer for, I will personally assure the direction.” Here we can see the birth of an authentic and novel psychoanalytic act, or what Alain Badiou defined as “militant conviction” (akin, in some sense, to the founding act of Saint Paul). It was the moment of “fidelity” to a cause which would have been the solitary delusion of Lacan had the act not been carried through with fervent tenacity; in other words, the act was in fidelity with the psychoanalytic cause, which is, in the final analysis, I would say, the cause of the real. Lacan’s cause was grounded within the delusion of his subjectivity, it was an act for which he would continue to live out the consequences so as to bring forth the celebrity name of Lacan onto the public scene. It was not unlike that delusion remarked upon by Miller, regarding the founding act of Islam:
“Ask yourself if what orders our world is not for a large part a delusion. […] The Freudian field is a delusion, it doesn’t have a clear-cut existence. It’s a thing for a few thousand people in the world who speak of the Freudian field […] When you read about Mohammed – God forbid that I say anything against Mohammed – he went away alone, he had some divine message, he wrote it down, and this discourse ordered one million people in the world. It was a divine delusion” (Miller).
We should not be relieved of the burden of thinking through the consequences of this argument that the founding act is also a delusion, however divine. The pass reveals today that it is altogether more easy to achieve it, though altogether less common. We are obligated to ask ourselves the question concerning the ease with which the pass might today be accomplished – if, in fact, we could think of it as an accomplishment – and the subsequent infrequency of militant conviction among emerging generations. There is no pass without militant conviction, and, thus, there are few passes among these generations, though, certainly, there are acts. Plenty of them.
Lacan claimed that you can only count to one because of a prior three. He referred to this logic as the “at-least three.” However, my research seems to be moving in the opposite direction, though necessitated by Lacan’s later teaching: you can only count to three because of one (but you wouldn’t know that without the assistance of three). In other words, there is a gap that separates the one and the three, which expresses the fundamental “Il n’y a pas de rapport sexuel.” The one is therefore the Thing, since, as everyone from Frege onward now knows very well: the one is always also zero.
Freud, in Die Traumdeutung, provided the following example to demonstrate the way in which the dream-work denies responsibility for the wish which follows:
“[I] recall vividly the defence offered by a man who was accused by his neighbour of having returned a kettle in a damaged condition. In the first place, he said, he had returned the kettle undamaged; in the second place it already had holes in it when he borrowed it; and in the third place, he had never borrowed it at all. A complicated defence, but so much the better; if only one of these three lines of defence is recognized as valid, the man must be acquitted.”
We see a very similar series of arguments at play in Trump’s remarks regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey. First, Trump claimed, during the electoral process, that he had “great respect” for Comey, and for Comey’s lead on the investigation into Hilary Clinton’s emails. We might refer to this as the logic of ‘the kettle is not damaged,’ since, in this case, there is nothing at all wrong with Comey’s leadership. Second, Trump drafted a letter indicating that he has taken a recommendation from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General to dismiss Comey. In this case, Trump is making the claim that Comey’s leadership was in question by others – that is, that the problem with Comey has to do with the fact that he was already, in effect, broken. Third, Trump claimed that he had found problems with Comey and had been thinking about firing him since his inauguration. In this case, Comey is found to already have been fired. In other words, his fate was already sealed.
Now, Trump has added an additional reason for Comey’s dismissal. According to Trump, the kettle is too delicate to borrow at all. In other words, Trump is now citing Comey’s ‘grandstanding’ and ‘showboating’ as sufficient reasons for his dismissal. To render this in kettle logic: (1) the kettle was returned undamaged, (2) the kettle was already damaged when borrowed, (3) the kettle was never borrowed; to which we add a fourth: (4) the kettle is too precious anyway.
Has anybody attempted to rewrite the formula of metaphoric substitution to account for psychotic substitution? How does the formula change for an “un-triggered” and/or “triggered” psychosis? In “On a Question…,” Lacan writes two versions. In the first, you have the generic version of metaphoric substitution which moves from the signifier, to the expression of the barred signifier through a signified. This formula is expressed in the following way:
S/$ * $’/x -> S(1/s)
The S’s, we are told, are signifiers. The $’ is the signifier after it has undergone a new meaning by way of the x, which is the unknown signification. The result is that the signifier expressed a new signified, s.
Okay, next, Lacan provides the formula for ordinary neurosis (I choose the title “ordinary” neurosis):
Ndp/Md * ~md/Sd(x) -> Ndp(1/Phi)
So, in this formula the name of the father stands in place of the mother’s desire (md), thereby effacing the desire to make way for an unknown new signifier for that desire, x. The result is that the name of the father is a function through which the phallus comes to dominate the mental life of the individual.
Okay, very well.
But next Lacan does something very interesting, and it still holds up for contemporary Lacanian thought – he insists that the formula is changed because the name of the father (ndp) becomes replaced by a hole.
Perhaps this formula would read as follows:
Zero/MD * MD/MD -> zero (Semblant)
The non-effacement of the mother’s desire [MD/MD rather than ~MD/s(x)] occurs which produces the possibility of a system of semblants. This, then, might be the formula for pure psychosis, if such a thing exists.
However, the ordinary psychotic – which is, only by degree, relatively stable whether problematically or not – may be written as follows:
Zero/MD * MD/MD * Semblant/MD * ~MD/Sinthome -> …
This implies that the name of the father does not efface the mother’s desire, because it is zero, so that, to compensate, a semblant provides the latter corrective. However, what it produces is not a signifier but rather an unknown symptom, a sinthome. I’m not sure what this would mean for the other side of the formula, and this is why I’ve left an ellipses.
The semblant represents the sinthome, which, anyway, is already negative (whereas the phallus requires an inversion of 1/Phi so that it becomes imaginary). Finally, then, it must be:
Zero/MD * MD/MD * Semblant/MD * ~MD/Sinthome -> Semblant(Sinthome)
I want to highlight a part of this formula, the part that I am now placing in square brackets is the compensatory function of the metaphor – what some have referred to as the delusional metaphor:
Zero/MD * MD/MD * [Semblant/MD * ~MD/Sinthome] -> Semblant(Sinthome)
You can see that I have really only redoubled the original metaphor formula. It is precisely the same, in the end. This means that the means by which a psychosis becomes ordinary is precisely the same means by which neurosis is grounded. The redoubling only serves to emphasize that the semblant(sinthome) bond is fragile whereas the bond of the signifier to the signified [S(1/s)] is more tightly bonded.
This demonstrates the inadequacy of the formula. What we require instead is a topology or a knotting. For example, if you demonstrate the way in which neurosis begins in much the same way as ordinary psychosis becomes stabilized then you end up missing something essential. The result is that an ordinary neurosis would be a variation on this formula (rather than psychosis being a variation on the falling of a neurosis) written as follows:
Zero/MD * MD/MD * NDP-as-semblant/MD * ~MD/Signifier(x) -> NDP-as-semblant(sinthome(1/Phi)).
What you miss is the topology of the zero as compared with the topology of the NDP. This is why the return to Frege that I’ve drawn in my paper (not included here) is essential.
Please feel free to interrogate and correct.