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parallax, 2000, vol. 6, no.

3, 6381
Dreams According to Lacans re-interpretation of the Freudian
Ellie Ragland
Lacans well-known ecrit, The Agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason
since Freud (1957) was rst published as the instance of the letter in the unconscious.
This essay rst appeared in an issue of la Psychanalyse that declared its intention of
studying psychoanalysis as one of the sciences of man.
Even though Lacan
included his piece in the volume, he pointed out in that essay that a classication
such as the sciences of man was problematic for him. Man is inhabited by the
signier in the unconscious, he said, rather than being the one who wields the signier
from a position of conscious reason and of intentionality. Conscious reason and
intentionality become the tools one might equate with demonstrating a science.
From a psychoanalytic point of view, conscious reason and intentionality are
methods of mind at odds with the governing unconscious. Rather, one can only
create a science of the unconscious from within a logic particular to it.
Posing the question What determines what one calls reason or thought? in his
rst Seminar, given in 19531954,
Lacan later answered in Le se minaire, livre V that
something a unary trait has been knotted to something else a void hole of space.
The something else that resembles the spoken word that discourse can unknot,
concrete, like Doras fathers cigar smoke. This smoke was encapsulated in Doras
memory because it was linked to something stable, something that resembles the
spoken word. But what resembles the spoken word without being it? In Lacanian
parlance, it is the linkage of images (the imaginary) to words (the symbolic) and to
the real of aect that he calls a sinthome. It sublimates meaning into a knot made up
of its own parts imaginary, symbolic, real and the knot itself, while it is the object
a-cause-of-desire that these four orders encircle. Thus, the something else knotted
to something that resembles a word is the sinthome, made of master signiers (S1) that
Lacan calls meaning constellations composed of absolute identicatory unary traits.
These are, in turn, made up of the images, the language and the inscriptions of the
oral, anal, invocatory and scopic drives on the real of esh. Words or objects
remembered, recalled or called back into memory are the objects one desires
precisely because they harken back to objects one rst lost, desired, and of which
one retains a concrete unary trace.
One came to know the rst objects that cause desire, not because they possess any
originary essence such as maternal natural goodness coming from some privileged
past moment that one can retrieve in the present. They do retain the trace of the
ISSN 1353-4645 print/ISSN 1460-700X online 2000 Taylor & Francis Ltd
essence of jouissance. And it is this essence that xes precise traits of the real rst
laid down in the past in the outside world of the Other and others who resemble
them. Resemblance, for Lacan, belongs to metonymy, to desire. These objects that
resemble something like a parole, which is not one, are semblances or masks. Made up
of unary traits, identicatory pieces of narcissism, and the libido and traumata that
compose the real, these objects function like a signpost that says thats it, thats
das Ding an sich. In a sense, the decomposed mask would reveal a puzzle of pieces
rst treasured at the moment of loss and the originary eort of rending. They
become known, in memory, then, as pieces of the metonymic jouissance (essence) of
a person behind who seeks the particular details of her or his pleasure in a precise
unary trace; not in a whole other or even in whole objects. Perhaps someone desires,
beyond all reason, a new car of a certain type. Further details would reveal that that
is because this girls father sold that type of car in his business. The desired car is a
metonymy of an Oedipal nostalgia. Unary (non-dialectical) traits bind concrete
images, words, and aects to the void place of holes in thought that we continually ll
by desired objects in everyday life and in dreams.
In this essay, I shall work with the thesis that dreams are valuable because they send
messages to the Other and to ego ideal others about what is lacking in the dreamers
desire. In this sense, dreams are tautological, because the message sent is, really, to
the dreamer him or herself. Thus, when Freud remarks that the censor is absent in
dreams, this would be equivalent to saying that the symbolic order of the secondary-
process signier is missing. Or the imaginary father, acting as visible agent of the
superego, is missing. Neither the well-made narrative, nor the supervising super-
ego privileged in everyday life, gives order to the dream. Rather the imaginary
orders the dream, functioning as a virtual real, giving the dream its character
of true-seemingness, or semblance.
Lacan maintained in Le se minaire, livre V that the distance that separates the spoken
word ( parole) which is lled up by the being of the subject from the empty discourse
which buzzes around human acts, from the something of unconscious meaning,
helps to explain the motive of dreams as that of unconscious desire. In other words,
desire takes on the clothes proered by the imaginary. Thus, Lacans reinterpretation
of Freuds dream theory, is a departure from Freuds idea of dreams as wish
fulllment. Unconscious desire, for Lacan, is not a wish. Unconscious desire means
that the unconscious is radically absent from a conscious assessment of meaning,
although it is present as the mysterious motivator of intentions and acts. And, as a
motivator, it works according to the thought processes typical of an unconscious
primary-process arrangement of thought, rather than that of secondary-process
grammar or other kinds of motivators such as biology or instinctual causality. To
the degree that human acts especially dreams are seemingly irrational, Lacan calls
them impenetrable by the imagination of motives which are irrational insofar as they
are only rationalized in the egoistic system of misrecognition. These [missed] acts,
these [forgotten] words reveal a truth from behind. Within what we call free
associations, dream images, symptoms, a word bearing the truth is revealed. If Freuds
discovery has any meaning, it is that truth grabs error by the scru of the neck in
the mistake.
If, however, one were to recognize unconscious motives for what they
are, they would no longer be unconscious. Nor would the ego hide the unconscious,
while acting as a conscious agency of misrecognition, repression and denial.
Thus, we have the rst clue to Lacans reinterpretation of Freuds theory of dreams.
They enunciate a repressed desire. The wishes of conscious life are not those that
emanate from the subject of the unconscious, except insofar as these disguise a wish
that concerns desire. Lacan emphasized the fact that Freud rarely used the German
word for desire Begierde - in his work. The subject of the dream wish der Wunsch
is not the libidinally desiring subject whose other face in language is that of lack that
lies between wanting and having. Such lack is not negotiated by simply obtaining
the objects one wants, then, being satised. Desire, rather, is a structural lack-in-
being that is negotiated along the imaginary path of ego identications and mirror-
stage dual specularities we call transference relations. The dream is distorted, not
only because desire is not sanctioned by the superego of public, conscious life, but
also because the real of sexuality and loss are further covered over in the dream. It
is distorted twice over. Concrete repressed desires speak in dreams and the
unbearable real tries to give voice to its own impasses and losses, thus seeking a kind
of cure in the unconscious space of the dream. The dream bears the freight of these
eorts at dealing with wounded narcissism. No wonder we have to sleep to dream.
Secondary-process uses of language are a kind of obsessional battery of denials and
refusals of the necessity of working with the real deprivations and imaginary
frustrations whose home is the dream.
But the dream does not enter consciousness as a direct rendering of lacks and losses.
Rather, it is not only transformed by condensation and displacement that is, masked
and further distorted in the remembering and recounting of it. Lacans remarks
on dreams show them as both dialectical among parts of the subject and, at the same
time, one-dimensional. Lafont writes:
Topology formalizes the operations which are at work and which,
starting with the hole and its edge, construct reality. In this sense
Lacan could say that it is structure. [R.S.I., unedited seminar
(19741975) ] [...] If the hole, @, is known as the Lacanian dimension
par excellence, topology also presents an irreducibly new element [...]
one dimension [... which] suces to make the word consist. [...]
The word is pronounced in one dimension, in real time [...] the
word, without thickness, nor surface.
At the level of the image, the dream word resembles a layering of absolute unary
strokes, more like a painting than a story. When retold in waking life, the dreamer
displays an internal debate among various parts of her own psyche, embellishing the
dialectical part of the dream in a narrative mode, thereby revealing the tension
emitted from the dreamers Ideal ego formation vis-a`-vis ego ideal imaginary others
she wants to satisfy in the Other. In her eort to interpret the dreams opaque
meanings between desires and beliefs that constitute the Ideal ego symbolic
formation its transferential intention towards the other/Other makes it, perforce,
dialectical. Not only is the dream a message designated to and for a specic other,
it is dreamt within a specic signifying context of an historical local Other. Moreover,
let us propose that we remember dreams, not only because they bespeak a deep
trauma, as well as the unanswered desires of a days residue. Dreams enounce a
repressed lack stemming from the dreamers desire. For example, an American
woman, having just moved to Germany where she was to live for a year, remembered
one word and one image of a dream: (Hitlers) Lebensraum was spoken in her dream
alongside a huge living room sofa. In Lacanian teaching, any interpretation is an
eort to interpret ones own fundamental (unconscious) fantasies. The dream
illustrated the womans political discomfort at spending time in Germany a message
from the real as well as her egoistic imaginary concern with the ugly sofa in the
Gastehause living room. In everyday life, such political concerns were dismissed by
the woman, as they were by other foreign scholars living in Germany. Such politics
belonged to history, the past, and certainly had nothing to do with current fears or
The symbolic order uses language to deny the real, thereby creating a social forum
of ideals and ideal goodwill. In dreams, symbolic order taboos and conventions drop
out and the real of memory such as memories of World War II is stated through
a duality of image/language. The overlays of day residue place an ugly sofa at the
surface of the dream alongside a literal translation of living room. The image plus
the word join the imaginary to the symbolic to state the truly masked part of the
dream: the real of politics and death.
Lacan read Freuds work on dream wishes as covering over an I want and an I
dont (cant) have that constitute a language of meaning, rather than the meanings
Freud nally attributed to a pleasure-seeking biological id in conict with any
prohibition to its satisfactions. Inuenced by modern logic and mathematics, Lacan
proposed that unconscious desires enter consciousness with all the fuzziness of the
number two in mathematics. Two is an irrational number typical of the mirror-
stage confusion where two are taken to be one precisely because it is made up of
the negative features of the numbers zero and one, the fractions one calls real or
negative numbers, and, as such, has no distance from its own positive existence
between the number one of clarity and the number three of distance and perspective.
In mathematics and in Lacanian logic, two denotes a mixture which cannot be
unraveled. In the mirror stage experience, others give parts of their identities to an
infant to construct its Ideal ego. As such, the Ideal ego is both symbolic made of
the Other and imaginary made of others. The twoness of the imaginary axis has
no obvious beginning and end except in the singular traits that indicate some xation,
some mark of a unary trait, some sign that the one dimension of the real was laid
down by the spoken word ( parole). The singular elements have objective qualities
that escape the opaque mirror morass of twoness that characterizes the ego as it
combines the ego ideal and Ideal ego with closure-like properties of Hegels synthesis.
Hegels Auf hebung, his sublation or synthesis is fuzzy because it contains mixed
properties from two sets: the thesis and the antithesis. Freud calls such a lack of
clarity, made manifest in dreams, unconscious examples of condensations and
displacements. Lacan calls this third category the nonsense where the truth of the
unconscious lies. We have, he says, thereby advancing a third category of logical
truth function made up of mixed unlike things, a category of non-sense whose
meaning is that of the underside of two clear meaning systems the I think of the
symbolic order and the I am of the imaginary order. Such residue becomes
negatively veriable data in empirical studies; fodder for the trash can in science
laboratories; the explanatory gap in cognitive sciences; and the green sheep sleeping
furiously that linguists such as Noam Chomsky rejects. One might go so far as to
say that such meaning is at home only in three kinds of contexts: Surrealist poetry
which sought to combine the most unlike images for the purposes of creating a new
reality a Sur-reality; the language of dreams; the free associations typical of the
analysts couch. This category of new meaning of non-sense is precisely what
Freud and Lacan sought to understand in the analytic setting, rather than to dismiss
as meaningless. Freud recognized that some truth was transformed and distorted
there. Lacan gave the logic and laws of such meaning as unconscious truth metaphor
as condensation, which functions by substitution, and metonymy as displacement,
which functions by magnifying meaning via drive constellations that evolve around
the objects that rst caused desire.
Moreover, Lacan described unconscious, nonsensical meaning as the truth of the
real that is distorted by the illusions and chimeras of the ego. Indeed, the ego ideals
that speak most loudly in the day residue of manifest dream content cover over the
Ideal ego unconscious formation. Dream enigmata and ego perplexity are rst
cousins, then, both being made up of the objects in-between alienated thought and
separation from primordial objects-cause-of-desire. As such, this is a category of
wandering knowledge between the thinking and the living being, a nonsensical
knowledge that resides at the point of overlap between two ensembles. All the same,
such knowledge can be graphed topologically as the contradictory underside of the
Moebius band which occults dual (surface) properties at its point of intersection: 8.
More precisely, how do the dierences between the Ideal ego and the ego ideal
function in the dream in a dialectical way? Lacans answer to this is important, for
it takes up the fact that in 1915 Freud repudiated his own theory of dreams along
lines rst developed in 1900 in Chapter 7, The Psychology of the Dream Process.
Freud wrote there: What we remember of a dream and what we exercise our
interpretative arts upon has been mutilated by the untrustworthiness of our memory.
Secondly, there is every reason to suspect that our memory of dreams is not only
fragmentary but positively inaccurate and falsied.
In On Narcissism: An Introduction
and in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920),
Freud repudiated his 1900 dream
theory along with his presentation of a new theory of the ego. In On Narcissism,
the ego is a force in conict with the libido. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), the
ego is reduced to the projection of a surface, to the body, in other words. In Le
se minaire: livre V (19571958): Les formations de linconscient, Lacan develops a nascent
distinction Freud made in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921)
the ego ideal and the Ideal ego, ego ideals describing ones relations with ones peers
and the Ideal ego pertaining to the attributes a body of people attribute to a leader.
In Le se minaire, livre V, Lacan describes the Other as the set of spoken words that are
reduced, at the limit, to the imaginary other, the ego ideal. The Other, in this sense,
becomes a supplemental ego of the symbolic, by way of the imaginary.
When a
dialogue between the other and its imaginary oshoot, ones counterpart, breaks
down, any person encounters the hole of the real (), whether it comes from the
frustration of being misunderstood, from bad dreams, from anxiety, or from some
other source. The Other, Lacan teaches, not the Ideal ego functions as the
guarantee of truth and the seat of the word that founds this truth, while the ego
ideal is the specular other or alter-ego of ones secret self-image.
But what joins
them in the dialectic of thought, or in the dream, for that matter? Lacan says that
they are joined by the object the Other desires, by what the other lacks to fulll it
the object a the primordially lost object that can only ever be refound in substitute
forms. Thus, the object resides on the side of metonymy, at the place of the Others
evanescent desire, while the (extra) sense of a given meaning dwells within the
substitutive structure of metaphor. Lacan later calls such meaning unconscious and
locates it in the gap between the imaginary and the symbolic (-Q).
By the end of his second seminar,
Lacan has characterized the ego as an encrusted
sore of identications built upon the esh of the biological body, opening up that
physical body to the meanings of a given (Other) symbolic order, except in autism
which, by denition, is a refusal to participate in the Other at all.
The ego, as
Lacan portrays it in Seminar V is the prematuration of birth over the natural being-
for-death characteristic of the body unaware of itself as a body of thought.
logic of the unconscious signifying chain which motivates conscious actions, as well
as dreams, starts with four complex structures of two couples, Lacan says, each of
which relates with the other, both by symmetry and dissymetry, as well as by being
like and unlike. These four signiers [abde] a,b,c,d each has the property of
being analyzable in function of the three others. Lacan goes on to explain that the
imaginary Other is built on top of the symbolic Other as a supplement, a secondary
structure, dierent from the rst. In other words, the Other is inherently duplicitous.
It is occulted by an ego that borrows language from it, an ego which lives by a
dierent logic than does language. This alone could dene the dierence between
manifest and latent dream content, manifest belonging to the imaginary realm of
the ego, and latent belonging to the symbolic realm of the verbal signifying chain.
Added to the imaginary and symbolic, the real of trauma makes knots of radically
repressed material within the symbolic and imaginary. We can see why Lacan spoke
of a lack in the Other, a lack dreams will try to speak for a given subject.
This second structure the imaginary ego of 19571958 while constructed by the
Other, is reduced to the other, the specular other of narcissistic identication, as
opposed to the symbolic world of words and conventions that lack the living quality,
the beingness of the other as ego ideal. The psychotic is the single subject who speaks
from the pure symbolic, thus accounting for the lifelessness of his or her speech, for
the mechanical nature of his or her words. Such subjects lack the false layer of
imaginary identications that separates most subjects from the real of their esh,
protecting them from an encounter with the angst of a void place in being and
thought. Ferdinand de Saussure has been honoured for discovering the linguistic sign
(S/s) that Lacan, in turn, subverts, making the bar between the signier (as that
which represents a subject for another signier) and the signied (those xations
created by master signiers) a limit point. Insofar as the signier creates the signied,
not the reverse,
Sigmund Freud will be subverted as well in that the manifest
content of imaginary identications the Other will structure the latent content.
Even though the latent is also constructed, it does not derive from Kleinian pre-
birth fantasies or from Freudian instinctual mechanism of the organism qua organism.
Rather, it manifests the structuration of unconscious positions that intertwine the
wishes of desire with the lacks of the subject, the libido of the fantasy with the
language that inscribes the body surface by signiers. Thus, the imaginary body is
created as a dual space-written upon which projects itself as ego, a would-be
continuity of being and esh. Yet, even though the signier creates the signied,
each, nonetheless, intersects with the other as separate meaning systems that touch
one another and then oat apart in non-linear referentialities whose meaning is lost.
The two kinds of meaning at issue are joined, all the same, by the plastic
displaceability of metonymy (signied evocations of objects that caused desire in the
rst place), and the substitutability of metaphor which can take any object to make
a new meaning. Insofar as signiers and signieds each work by dierent logics
the signied by xations of desire and repetitions, the signier by changing and
moving via dierential references that represent a subject for another subject, even
if by microcosmic increments the contingent, associative possibilities of the primary
process in dreams means that each persons experience of words, images, or aects
will be singular.
One wonders, then, just how the clothe of the signifying system attaches itself to the
clothe of the system of signieds? Anchoring points is an inadequate answer because
it gives no theory as to why or how. It merely arms that the disparate systems
touch at certain points where a signied anchors a set of signiers. One must go to
the categories of the real, imaginary and symbolic for an answer to this question.
The signier the symbolic works by the dierential logic of language, while the
signied the imaginary works by the specular logic of mirror-stage mimesis and
identication. The real refers to an intangible component which is the mothers
desire in its unconscious reference to a fathers name signier that marks separation,
dierence and law; a third term signier dividing the symbiosis of two thought to be
one. And, paradoxically, the fathers name signier functions retrospectively to
produce the eect of dierence that allows an infant to count to two via the loss
occasioned by the disjoining of the imaginary One of the mother and infant dyad
that the father signiers implicit no to Oneness causes.
Lacans linguistic answer would put this argument in these terms. Metonymy has
the structure of a minus within the signifying chain S ( ) s while metaphor adds
something to the chain S ( 1) s. Metonymy subtracts a signier that concerns
desire, and metaphor adds a new one that had not previously been linked to the
chain by identity to an element in it before. The newness that results from addition
creates the surprise of suddenly seeing the mechanical encrusted on the living (or
the living liberated from the mechanical [Bergson]), thereby producing the pleasure
of invention. Metonymy has the opposite eect, referring back to losses, rst losses,
and thus to the bittersweet pains of nostalgia that arise in reference to remembrance
of things past.
The dream functions as a dialectical relation between the Ideal ego seeking its lost
object(s) and the ego ideal promising to supply them, while the functional language
of such eorts is the coordination of metaphor with metonymy which Freud calls the
interplay of condensation with displacement. In dream work, metaphor and
displacement are privileged. Indeed, there is no dierence between the way they
work in dreams and in conscious discourse, Lacan argues, except the condition Freud
pointed out: Ruchsicht auf Darstellbarket (consideration of the means of representation).
There is, in other words, a limitation operating within the system of writing, a
limitation which is not a gurative semiology. The dream is more like a parlour
game in which one is supposed to get people to guess what the charades mean.
Dreams are performed in dimension one, while they are recounted in dimension
two. That the dream itself uses speech makes no dierence since, for the unconscious,
it is only one among several elements of representation. The point is that representation,
neither in charades nor in dreams, does not oer logical articulations of causality,
contradiction or hypothesis, that would prove they are a form of writing instead of
a form of mime. Dreams do not work by such a logic, but, rather, follow the laws
of the signier: Father dont you see Im burning? means quite literally that the
father had anticipated his childs bandaged bodys catching on re when he left the
room under the care of an old watchman in order to get some sleep himself. He had
obviously noted that the candle was burning to the end and susceptible of falling
over. And he cannot have missed that the older man was as tired as he. This
information manifest or day residue dream material coupled with the sound of
the candlestick actually overturning produced his nightmare of terror; reproach and
guilt inducement on the part of his son.
The signier here is the candlestick which
represented the potential of the boys bodys catching on re, referring itself to
another signier: the old man who was as sleepy as the father from their long wake
beside the dead body.
Freud called the dream a rebus, a statement of unconscious thoughts that is like
hieroglyphics or a gurative painting. Lacan argued in Le se minaire, livre XIII
(19651966): Lobjet de la psychanalyse that early hieroglyphics in cave paintings lead
back to the logical matrix of the signier.
Freud could never exit from the imaginary
impasses of his own discovery, Lacan argued, because he never understood that free
association functions by the laws of metaphor and metonymy, making the psychical
an eect of the unconscious on the somatic. In other words, the secondary process
or conscious part of language metaphor is wish fulllment, daydreams, day
residue, while fantasies, for Lacan, are not daydreams or day wishes. Fantasies are
unconscious organizations of ones subjectivization of reality. While Freud spoke of
wish fulllment, Lacan translated this as unconscious thought. When fundamental fantasy
elements appear in conscious thought, be it as manifest dream thought or as a literary
text, these elements will follow the laws of the signier that organizes language around
desire. Yet, it is dicult to grasp that the signier is constitutive. Moreover, Lacan
argues that Freuds genius was so farsighted that he assigned it formally and precisely
to the unconscious. Lacan goes as far as proposing that The Interpretation of Dreams
(1900) made it possible for formal linguistics to develop.
But Freuds arguments were not sucient to show the formative power of the signier,
a problem linguists never solved. Secondly, even though analysts have been fascinated
by unconscious meanings, it was the imaginary dialectic in them that interested them
not how they came to be in the rst place. At the level of scientic development,
Lacan argues that Freuds discoveries maintained that the unconscious leaves none
of our actions outside itself. If anyone takes dreams seriously today, or in classical
dream interpretation, they scan them for the forms in which they appear, thinking
thereby to see a regression and remodeling of the object relation, what supposedly
gives a character type to someone. But Lacans return to Freud is not to the Freud
who has been developed in this direction. Rather, his return is to Freuds text and
to the trope of metaphor which Lacan writes as: function (of the Subject) I (maginary)
horizontal) . And the function (S) S5S ( 1) s. Metaphor depends upon the vertical,
the signied, metonymy: function (S........S) 5s. The ( 1) means a crossing of the
bar ( ) in its constitutive value for the emergence of meaning. The signier must pass
into the signied, in other words, in order that meaning be created.
What is constituted as the meaning of the unconscious subject of desire is no longer
a transcendental subject with his or her existential armation of cogito ergo sum.
Rather, philosophy and science collude to dismiss the subject of the unconscious,
which is Freuds Copernican revolution: Is the place that I occupy as the subject of
a signier concentric or excentric, in relation to the place I occupy as subject of the
signied? that is the question. It is not a question of knowing whether I speak of
myself in a way that conforms to what I am, but rather of knowing whether I am
the same as that of which I speak.
I think where I am not, therefore I am where
I do not think.
Lacans translation of the Freudian cogito explains the problem in
the Seminar on The Purloined Letter.
Everyone, except Dupin, thinks in the
realm of the visible where the phallic veil of the image reigns supreme, aided by its
crutch, the signier. Between the enigmatic signier of the rst sexual trauma
assuming dierence as sexual dierence and the term substituted for it in an actual
signifying chain, a spark passes that xes the symptom as a metaphor in which esh
or function is taken as a signifying element.
So the true dream dialectic is not between dream gures extended into object
relations (Father, dont you see Im burning?) the father wishing to extend his
sons own life. The dialectic is a debate between desire and jouissance within the
dreamers own psyche his or her being as a subject. In actuality, the burning childs
father wanted to stay with his son and he also wanted to sleep. Knowing his son was
dead, he opted to sleep. Jouissance won out over desire. But he paid for this indelity
to his sons corpse, causing his son to suer the further indignity of having his body
catch on re, thus beginning the process of decomposition even before the grave
and foreshortening the time the father could stay with even some imaginary
semblance of his son. The fathers guilt at his own carelessness awoke him. The
dialectic here is between metaphor (as symptom) the father substitutes sleep for
his vigil beside his son and metonymy (desire for something else) in this case, sleep.
In the dream of the witty butchers wife, the woman dreams of the desire for some
smoked salmon, the delicacy her friend loves passionately. The butchers wife
substitutes her friends favorite food for her preferred delight, caviar. Lacans point
is that the witty butchers wifes dream is not about wanting caviar, but about wanting
salmon. And, even then, the dream is not about wanting salmon, but about desire:
the witty butchers wife wants what she does not have to be thin like her friend.
In conscious life this is not her desire. But it is the desire of her unconscious, a part
of her unconscious fantasy world.
Both paradigmatic dreams go back to the real
of castration insofar as ones being is as a being-for-the-gaze, a wish to live beyond
castration, a wish to be whole and beautiful in the imaginary.
Once the unconscious can no longer be thought of as biological or instinctual, nor
can the ego be thought of as an agency of mediation, health, or adaptation. Rather,
the unconscious is structured like a language. This means, not only that the
unconscious works by the laws of metaphor and metonymy, but that a signier will
represent a subject for another signier, although the subject may itself be a lack
or gap in the conscious signifying chain of meaning. The subject, then, is an enigma,
an unconscious I dont know (the Unbewusste). If Lacan had stopped there, then he
could have made no claims to advancing beyond phenomenology or hermeneutics.
The I dont know would be an empty cipher awaiting the Rezeption Geschicte of a
given readers intersubjective response. But Lacan attributed a substantivity to this
concrete lack in the signifying chain of meaning, a lack which itself has the structure
of the ( primary-process) displaced metonymizations of desire. These displacements,
not only translate the object a, and its primitive or residual unary traits, it shows the
unary traits as disconnected from the primordial objects that rst caused desire
the breast, the faeces, the urinary ow, the imaginary phallus, the phoneme, the
voice, the gaze and the nothing functioning as losses that fade into the void of a
cut, or the real of angst.
Thus, any metonymy has as its task the necessity of going
towards the secondary-process substitutions of metaphor, substitutions that, quite
literally, ll the gap that is the subject lack of fullness or presence within the
signifying chain with dierent kinds of enjoyment and with varying desired objects.
The ego is the unwitting narcissistic tool of conscious language, as well as the agent
that represses unconscious desire and imaginary fantasy. The ego is also so attached
to its secondary-process functions of communicating, informing, and remembering
that a speaker may deny in the second half of a sentence what he or she said in the
rst part, particularly if some desire or non-ideal picture of self has slipped through
the net of language in the second part. In such moments, the ego gathers up its
being-for-narcissism to ensure that language keep subject division intact. Thus, the
subject of (unconscious) desire remains trapped within narrative or secondary process,
alienated from the truths of his or her being that are rooted in desire, fantasy and
jouissance. In this psychoanalytic picture of the divided subject, both the subject ($)
and the ego (i[o]) reside co-simultaneously in conscious language and in unconscious
In Ce qui fait insigne (19871988) , Jacques-Alain Miller rereads Lacans che vuoi? graph
to show that the dreaming Ideal ego at the left-hand corner of the graph is the
installation of the Fathers Name signier.
Others have argued that this rst
unconscious formation, the Ideal ego this bedrock layer of maternal murmurings
comes from the mothers desire, from her lalangue. Millers point is that the mothers
desire is an imaginary identication with phallic signication, with the assumption
of sexuation in terms of dierence qua dierence. Even though it is the mother, or
primary caretaker, who constructs the Ideal ego in the rst three years of life, she
builds her edice around the place the phallus is assigned in reference to a Fathers
Name. Thus, at the base of the dreaming ego, one nds the unconscious installation
taken from the dialectic of a lack in the Other the primordial mother in the
language of sexual dierence, having or not having, being or nor being, whose third
term referent is the phallic signier that marks the symbolic order of dierence over
the real order of sameness.
Not only does manifest dream content participate in a cover up of the real that
Lacan eventually equated with the subjects truth (The true aims at the real.)
to invoke the true, the real and jouissance, we would have to bring into dream
theory an idea of the dream as itself a symptom, even a cultural symptom, of the
fact that the whole truth cannot be told either in representations or in jouissance.
One sign of this is that jouissance is a limit to the real, jouissance being that which
tracks down in appearance, in semblance, in whatever clothes a self image, that
which functions in fantasy to envelope the object-cause-of-desire;
that is, the
narcissistic language of manifest content.
Something manifest appears at the surface of the dream and hides something latent:
The manifest content is semblance or appearance, while the latent content contains
the real or true of desire and jouissance. Still, the real or true is not The Truth, as
classical dream theory thought, but a singular rendering of the humble truth of one
persons being an hontology told in the particular language of the partial drives
(oral, anal, invocatory and scopic). According to Miller, such a theory does not t
in with the science of empirical truths which view semblances or appearances as real
and true. Rather, semblances are deceptive, even though one pretends they are true.
Lacan looked, rather, to pre-Cartesian poetry which proposed a divorce between
appearance and reality, rather than to the remarriage of appearance and reality over
which Descartes presided.
The Lacanian semblant is not an artifact, then, nor a piece of empirical data, nor the
work of a biological id. Although the semblant exists in nature, as the rainbow, for
example, or, even as the imaginary phallus when it is taken as the sign of
the real is not in nature. It enters nature only when enough semblants
are organized and coordinated to succeed in prescribing the impossible (to say, to
do, to think), as, for example, in the ritual of the Eucharist.
The real appears,
Miller stresses, as a consequence of the impossible. Thus the nature of semblants is
that of structure: Two overlapping voids frame the impossibilities that make up
sublimation, Lacan argues, giving us a formula for Antique tragedy, as well as a
formula for the dream: Something is lacking and something else is lost. Between the
two is a void place of the intersecting losses, such as Antigones loss of her brother
Polynices life and honor and her simultaneous loss of Creons benevolent gaze.
In trying to explain this picture of the dream in which the manifest content is a
semblance while the latent content leads to structure where content can be peeled
o grammar, so to speak, unveiling the real, I shall recount a paradigmatic academics
dream. A truck is delivering loads of paper, among which is a xeroxed copy of a
bound book manuscript ready to be sent out to the publisher. Everything is ne
except for one detail: Someone the printing press or the delivery person has torn
the last page, so the book is not complete. By taking recourse to free association,
this dream could produce volumes of writing about the kind of typeface used in the
MS, how that associates with print faces seen in recent day residue, who the delivery
person was in actual life, as well as what was delivered, and so on. One could write
a volume on dream associations coming from this dreams day residue, as one can
on most dreams.
Heeding Freuds later rejection of his dream theory, Lacan argues that free association
always proves itself to be false, imaginary, partaking of bad innity and of innite
metonymization. In heeding dreams, Lacan pays attention, rather, to the signiers
stated in the dream and to the structure of desire to which they lead, latent in relation
to the manifest content, but at the surface of the dreamers desire in life. Although
a signier leads to a latent meaning of the dream, the truths told there are structural
truths of the unconscious, while the manifest meaning speaks of ego dilemmas
occurring in the present time of the dreamers life. In this sense, Lacanian structure
is always topological structure: the manifest meaning will be on one side of a Moebius
strip, face-up, on the surface, and the latent meaning will be laid out in the same
way on the other side of the Moebius band, on the surface. That which is occulted
is a third thing the real impossibilities concerning structure (concerning ones desire,
narcissism, fantasy and so on) that are hidden in the twist of the Moebius band. And
the real opens onto the structure of the sexual dierence which will always bear on
castration as the source of trauma, be it that of being weaned from a breast/bottle
to a cup, or that of assuming sexuation in reference to a sexual dierence which is
learned and, therefore, is not a natural biological dierence. The assumption of
sexual dierence is a drama about having that bears on being in the language of
loss, lack, separation that is, castration for both sexes.
There are two new things going on in this hypothesis concerning dreams. The dream
is made of images that are not the simple associative pictures Freud described when
he depicted the manifest dream as a thought revealed by the association of an event
with an image or picture of day residue. Rosemarie Sand argues in Manifestly
Fallacious that such material should not be discarded by psychologists, however,
insofar as day residue manifests ego concerns about daily life problems.
One cannot
disagree with Sands argument. It can only prove itself to be true. One could even
describe Sands argument as another guise of classical dream interpretation, the
dreams meaning being taken at face value. Freud argued, rather, that the dream
disguises its own origin. Lacan advanced Freudian theory here by proposing that
dream images are neither imaginary images, such as the teddy bear that so often
serves as a transitional object, nor are dream words to be taken as insignia. Rather,
the signier is the only way into the real of structure (be it of fantasy, desire, symptom,
and so on), hidden within both manifest and latent contents. In the dream about the
torn MS mentioned above, the signier that kept being repeated as a vocal sound
or, at least, as a monstration or showing of certain words, was, the paper is cut.
In the dream, the delivery man gave the dreamer her MS, but she saw that its last
page was torn into and she could not remember what had been written there. The
cri de coeur in the dream was the paper is cut, the paper is torn. In Lacanian
analysis, such a dream does not bear on the dreamers feelings about the MS or
about the delivery man or any other manifest part of the dream. Rather, the paper
is torn leads to a commonplace saying in the English language: a paper cut. We
have all had paper cuts on our ngers or our tongues. The paper cut becomes a
latent statement about castration; an enunciation of the unconscious fear of the gaze
with its castrating aura of judgment into which we are all born, most particularly
when a new book is being sent o to a publisher.
So powerful is the signier, that by Seminar XX, Lacan stated that the signier is the
cause of jouissance.
The signiers that present a subject of desire for another
signier which, in turn, causes jouissance (or not), stand between a natural cause
and a cultural cause of the dream. Lacan names this insignia the semblant or
appearance. It is a cause of desire which appears as a dream picture that disguises
the real within the latent meaning. But how does this psychoanalytic turn advance
our understanding of dream theory? First, the dreams images are semblants which
Lacan denes as those illusions one takes to be the thing itself , but which actually
function like masks, to carry meaning between the real and the symbolic.
If one
considers the dream as made manifest in terms of the structure of Lacans che vuoi?
graph, then the base meaning would be that the subject that lacks fullness of meaning
as a transcendent subject of essence is, rather, the subject as a lack of desire and
jouissance. The subject ($) carries the message of lack to the Ideal ego unconscious
formation which supports a few xed master signiers which, in turn, are projected
into conscious meaning. These signiers are messages meant to verify a paternal
signier, or a symbolic Other, via the response of ego ideals in the outside world. It
is the Other and others that hold the keys to bestowing value on the empty place
that is the subject qua lack-of-being.
The startling illumination that such an idea brings about is that we do not dream
merely out of our own thwarted, unfullled wishes. We dream for others, indeed, for
the Other. Our dreams are skewed messages sent to the Other in an eort to nd
love and acceptance there. We dream transferentially. At the level of how this occurs,
Lacan says dreams function as the enunciation of a repressed desire made in a circuit
from ones unconscious Other treasury of signiers to the Other of the outside world
one wishes to please. That is, we would not have to dream about how to please the
other if the desire in question were not repressed, unfullled. Perhaps that is why,
still following the che vuoi graph, the dream nally enunciates a drive in the top
portion of the graph. Starting out as jouissance, the dream ends up cutting into the
illusory consistency of imaginary jouissance. Where one awaits a completion, one
encounters a castration that sends the dreamers message back to his or her signifying
treasury from which it emanated.
It is important at this juncture to distinguish between desire and drive. While desire
is the desire to be desired and thereby lls a lack-in-being drive is the request
or demand for the fulllment of jouissance. Desire works dialectically while drive
belongs to the imperative mode. The dream emanates from repressed desire to
enunciate its message as a thwarted demand, both caused by the Other and sent
back to the Other. While one might follow Freud to say that this makes the dream
a wish, pure and simple the letter returned to its sender, Lacan argues that
while Ronald Fairbairn modelled his scheme of the subject on the dream,
the crucial fact is that this dream is recounted by the subject. And
experience tells us that this dream isnt dreamt at any old time, in just
any old way. Nor is it addressed to no one. The dream has all the
value of a direct declaration of the subject. The images will only take
on their meaning in a wider discourse, in which the entire history of
the subject is integrated. The subject is as such historicized from one
end to the other. This is where an analysis is played out on the
frontier between the symbolic and the imaginary. The subject does
not have a dual relation with an object with which he is confronted.
Rather, it is in relation to another subject that his relations with an
object-other acquire their meaning, and by the same token their
Now let us look at Lacans reading of Freudian dream theory in light of what Freud
argued about dreams late in his career, in An Evidential Dream (1924) :
The[se] days residues [...] are not the dream itself: they lack the main
essential of a dream. Of themselves they are not able to construct a
dream [...] The essential factor in the construction of dreams is an
unconscious wish as a rule an infantile wish, now repressed which
can come to expression in this somatic or psychical material [...] and
can thus supply these [the days residues] with a force which enables
them to press their way through to consciousness even during the
suspension of thought at night. The dream is in every case a fulllment
of this unconscious wish, whatever else it may contain warning,
reection, admission, or any other part of the rich content of
preconscious waking life [...] It is this unconscious wish that gives the
dream-work its peculiar character as an unconscious revision of
preconscious material.
Freud associates depth primary (infantile) process with wish fulllment.
wishes emanate from the subject of the unconscious to whom Freud does not attribute
thought. Lacan teaches that the subject can only desire in language, images and
aect via thought, that is. In The agency of the letter he hypothesizes that such
thought functions by joining the desire for the replacement of traits of a primordially
lost object (the breast, the feces, the urinary ow, the [imaginary] phallus, the
phoneme, the voice, the gaze, the nothing) to some object retaining one or more
properties of the lost one.
An infant and later an adult can substitute for these
radically lost objects by the mechanism of metonymy which works by recognition of
similar properties in objects, thereby enabling memory to select its objects of desire
in the outside world by choosing the particular conditions of enjoyment that have
already been constituted by the very unary traits that bind reminiscence of an object
to the hole made by its loss. In this sense, dream images are not unlike unary traits;
they are master signiers non-dialectical of a subjects own identications (S1s)
and the object(a)s property of having to be (re)found because they (it) have (has)
been lost.
While metonymy selects meaningful details that spell out desire as emanating from
one or more of the eight primordial objects-cause-of-desire that fade away, leaving
behind unary traces, this would mean that primary objects of desire are obscure as
objects, as such, being properly evocative and evanescent, recognizable only in the
precise markings of the identicatory unary traits that satisfy ones jouissance. Where
Roman Jakobson found contiguity as the rhetorical trope in play in metonymy, Lacan
returns to Freud to emphasize that the displacement of a primary object is more like
the displacement of the bodily organ with which the object of desire is often confused
by object-relations analysts. These fading objects objects whose rst construction
places them beyond the possibility of memory are, nonetheless, substituted for by
the precise images, signiers and aects of ones world that, in turn, constitute
metaphor/condensation not only by the law of substitutability, but also by the
similarities characteristic of it.
Put in other words, primordial objects are radically
lost to memory, but something of their manner of constitution is known in the real
of metonymic traits that elicit jouissance and in the metaphorical substitutions we
take for the objects (things and people) we choose to love, to invest in, to cathect.
This is not a dissimilar logic from that of the relation between ego ideals (others)
and the Ideal ego unconscious formation. Ideal ego must be deduced from the others
one chooses as friends and partners, from the desirable aspects that mark one as the
one who is chosen from the real.
Not only does Lacans theory of how metaphor makes metonymy functional make
sense of Freuds isolation of the mechanisms of condensation and displacement at
work in dreams, he also sheds new light on the drive, as depicted in Freuds Instincts
and Their Vicissitudes (1915) .
Psychoanalytic critic, Daniel Collins, sees Freuds
wish theory and his dream theory as antithetical to his drive theory. One might
suggest, however, that Freuds logic of metonymy claries his object of the drive,
making it anything but the mythology he condemned it to, as well as illuminating
the real dynamics of the three other fates of the drive that Freud placed in the
borderland between the mental and the physiological.
Freud claimed, for example,
that the object of the drive is radically variable at, say, 2:00 am when certain men,
upon leaving bars that close for the night, will choose anyone as a sexual object.
Insofar as the aim of the drive is satisfaction, Freud gives the example of Dantes
saying that if he cannot have Beatrice, he will write The Divine Comedy; its all the
same thing.
In other words, the object of the drive may be radically particular at
the level of metonymy, there where the judgment made comes from the object of
fantasy that seeks discriminatory particularities over generalized imaginaries selected
by an indiscriminate Id (ca). While metaphorical substitutions may be fuzzy
displacements of desire, substitutions that readily confuse the object and the aim of
the drive, metonymy makes careful distinctions as to what gives precise jouissance in
the drives. These singular traits of objects are, indeed, those which may lead to love.
Such a logic is also at work in dreams where the object (a) sought in the Other can
never appear directly. What does appear are the (manifest) metaphorical substitutes
for it and intimations of its metonymical character.
In trying to make sense of how Lacan rereads Freud on dreams, giving ever greater
precision to this murky realm, let us look at a typical nonsensical dream. In the
dream in question, people were seated around a large table. They were dining.
Guests at a dinner party. One lady said she had seen a spiders web behind her and
she was going to leave because she was afraid of spiders. The hostess seated across
from her told her that spiders were not so frightening, but the guest ed anyway.
The hostess could then look through the empty space opened up by the guests
evacuation of her chair. There was a large spider egg, the size of a golf ball, brightly
colored white, with red streaks going around it. Just as the hostess/dreamer was
ready to investigate such a surprisingly large egg, it burst, producing an adorable
black and white puppy with curly, fuzzy hair. The dreamer swept the dog into her
arms, cooing to it and, then, awoke. At the level of day residue, the dream is easily
explicable. The dreamer had just returned to her house which had been unoccupied
for a year. Throughout the house were dead spiders and large eggs of unhatched
ones. Some spiders indigenous to that region have red streaks on their backs. The
day before the dream, the dreamer had read an article in a News Magazine on laser
surgery to perfect ones vision. Two failed cases were reported, one in which a
womans eyeball was left red. There was much talk in the article of reshaping eyeballs.
The actual spiders, the dinner party which the dreamer had given three days
previously, the laser surgery (which a friend of hers had had and which she was
contemplating) and a line often repeated in her daughters young adult novel
Daddy, doggie and me all come together in the dream as manifest content. But
none of the day residue explains the dream as a logical communication, a message
sent to the Other, for an other. The dream is only explicable if one follows the
signier in it Daddie, doggie and me. The dream dog was a metaphorical
metonymy, a substitute for an absent love in real life. The message in the dream is
sent to the lover in the language of love: Daddie, doggie and me, a sweet cuddly
dog who does not bite as do the spiders and absent lovers. And, of course, this
message, intended for the lover in the see me of the scopic drive, or the hear
me of the invocatory drive is returned to the dreamers signifying treasury as a
failed communication, a dead letter, a castrated jouissance, as are all dreams.
That dreams are reports of failures and fears makes them all the more useful for
psychoanalysis. They are perforce already in the transference, a part of it,
communicating some truth about the real in the skewed language and images that
cannot speak directly about the wishes to set something straight in the symbolic
order. If wishes were as easy to formulate clearly or as transparent in meaning as
Freud once thought, they would not have to wend their way through the unconscious
distortions and transformations that make them unrecognizable as message-bearing
narratives, as communications.
Further, Lacan makes topological sense of dreams topology being the logic of place
wherein the interlinking of conscious to unconscious life shows, not only that the
interlinking of metaphor to metonymy by the object a is not equivalent to a two-
sided piece of paper with the unconscious on one side and consciousness on the
other. Rather, one bumps up against the bar separating signier from signied, or
both faces of a seemingly oppositional meaning, to place its opaque relations at the
surface of the text. One is in the presence of a Moebius strip 8 operation where
the twist in the middle occults the disappearing primary object sought: the father
wants to have his sons dead body intact even though it is burning; the witty butchers
wife wants to be plump in conscious life and thin in unconscious life an impossibility;
the academic wants to spare her book from the cutting gaze of critical readers
another impossibility; the hostess wants to regain a lost love. In dreams, the meaning
of the object-cause-of-desire travels away from the body into the image, signier or
aect where it takes on the character of a drive, a drive aimed at nding or retrieving
the impossible. At the manifest level of ego, dreams are funny. They deal with daily
problems. At the latent level of the void, they are sorrowful, concerning the real
of loss.
Thus, unconscious thought is topologically inseparable from the outside everyday
world of day residues. But rather than focus on the concrete pieces of a days
activities, Lacan looks at the larger scenario of dreaming as a response to transference
relations one is in with the others/Other of ones life. Indeed, this idea connects
Freuds two disparate categories: day residue as preconscious and inessential and
unconscious wish fulllment as deep and essential. The wish fulllment, in Lacanian
terms, is the wish to ll ones desire as a subject of/in/for the Other. It makes sense,
then, that Lacan compares the unconscious at the level of the real to a pulsating
bladder, rather than to the deep structures imagined by Freud, or the cave depicted
by Plato. The unconscious, after Lacan, does not cohere to the imaginary model of
container/contained, but dwells at the surface of the body as it disperses itself through
fantasy and drive within the eld of language. Lacan adds something more about
dreams that Freud did not say. Although Freud argued that the unconscious was
sexual, he did not maintain that dreams necessarily were. By appending sexuality to
the four partial drives that materialize language the oral, the anal, the scopic, the
invocatory Lacan argues that we are necessitated in the sexual order.
Put another way, the drives are, for Lacan, sexual. They were rst constituted at the
site of the mothers body and, thus, contain properties of libido or jouissance that
make the real of sexual excitement (or sorrow at loss) enter language itself. It enters
language, sublimated, as two intersecting voids or losses. While Freud interpreted
sublimated as meaning desexualized, as a part of the myth of the drives, Lacan
argues that sublimated meant sexualized in the sense that two void places overlap
each other, each hollow wanting to be lled with jouissance objects that reside in
primordial fantasies as they eddy up into secondary-process wish-fulllment language.
That is, desire (or wish) is the desire for wholeness, for rending the lost real parts
of oneself to which lifes continual cuts and separations harken back as these return
into the symbolic to disrupt smooth narratives and into imaginary consistencies to
break apart the illusions that make bodily constancy or homeostasis the base line of
the Freudian pleasure principle.
Finally, that unconscious, wish thought is primary processoriented that is,
concerned with fantasy, desire and libido does not make it infantile. It simply
makes the dream a product of the jouissance system, whose parameters and functions
are as complex and extensive as are those of secondary-process representations and
conscious thought. The desiring subject the subject who has an unconscious wish
is the one whose other face in language is that of lack itself, which Lacan described
as a concrete place of the real in between the wanting and having of desire. We have
said that lack expresses itself by traveling the path of fantasy, via the imaginary
structure of ego density and mirror-stage dual specularity, entering consciousness
transformed in the remembering and recounting of the dream which metaphor and
metonymy allow. Where Freud was stymied wondering how to separate the
recasting of the dream in the retelling of it from its primordial components Lacan
gave an answer.
The dream is dialectical thought taking account of the Others desire displaying
a tension between the ego ideal imaginary construct and the Ideal ego symbolic
formation which displays both the creation of the Ideal ego by the symbolic Other
and the dialectical tension in it that is derived from the imaginary other (ego ideals)
of transference relations.
What I am suggesting is that we remember dreams, not
necessarily because they bespeak a trauma or a conict-lled days residue. More
fundamentally, we remember dreams within the dialectic of our own desire made
up of wanting and (not) having. But signiers are equally as important. Without
language or discourse there would be no dreams, no silent world of wonderful images
and forms, as evolutionary psychologists imagine the world of dolphin or chimpanzee
language to be.
Rather, the dream wish/desire is aimed at the Other in the eld of the gaze, as one
who will give an answer to the lack the dream states (unlike psychotic hallucinations
which are nightmares of attacking gures where delusion reigns -not fantasy because
the Other is already full). There is an I want and an I dont (cant) have that gives
most people the language of meaning Freud found rooted in an innate conict or
tension he attributed to biology. Stressing the dreams meaning, Lacan portrays
unconscious desire as entering consciousness with all the dialectical fuzziness of the
imaginary (irrational) number two, the mysterious sign of a mirror-stage twoness
where two condenses into one that overows its own borders in the dream.
Jacques Lacan, The agency of the letter in the
Sigmund Freud, On Narcissism: An
Introduction (1914) , The Standard Edition, vol. XIV, unconscious or reason since Freud (1957) , Ecrits: A
pp.67102. Selection, Alan Sheridan (ed. and trans.) (New York:
Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920),
W. W. Norton, 1977) , pp.14678.
The Standard Edition, vol. XVIII, pp.364.
Lacan, The agency, p.149, n. 9, p.176.
Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the
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Analysis of the Ego (1921) , The Standard Edition,
on Technique (19531954), Jacques-Alain Miller (ed.),
vol. XVIII, pp.67143.
John Forrester (trans. and notes) (New York: W. W.
Lacan, Le se minaire, livre V, p.12.
Norton, 1991) , p.1.
Lacan, Le se minaire, livre V, p.12. 4
Jacques Lacan, Le se minaire, livre V (1957958): Les
Jacques Lacan, La troisie`me jouissance (1974),
formations de linconscient, Jacques-Alain Miller (ed.)
Les Lettres de lEFP: Bulletin de lEcole freudienne de
(Paris: Seuil, 1998) , p.10.
Paris, 16 (1975),178203.
Jeanne Lafont, Topologie Lacanienne et Clinique 18
Jacques Lacan, The Seminar, Book II (19541955):
Analytique (Cahors: Point Hors Ligne, 1990) ,
The Ego in Freuds Theory and in the Technique of
Psychoanalysis , Jacques-Alain Miller (ed.), Sylvana
Lacan, The Seminar, Book I, p.265.
Tomaselli (trans.), John Forrester (notes) (New York:
Lafont, Topologie Lacanienne, p.14.
W. W. Norton, 1991) .
Lacan, The Seminar, Book I, p.264.
Ellie Ragland, Essays on the Pleasures of Death: From
Lafont, Topologie Lacanienne, ch. 3, pp.4163.
Freud to Lacan (New York: Routledge, 1995) , cf. ch.
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams
6, The Paternal Metaphor.
(19001901) , The Standard Edition, vol. IV-V, cf. ch.
Lacan, Le se minaire, livre V, pp.1011.
7, vol. V and p.512.
Lacan, Le se minaire, livre V, p.13; The Agency,
Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, p.512.
Ellie Ragland, Lacan, The Death Drive, and Psychoanalysis, The University of Paris VIII, Saint
the Dream of the Burning Child, in Death and Denis, unpublished course, lecture of November
Representation, Sarah Goodwin (ed.) (Baltimore: 17, 1991.
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994) , pp.80102.
Miller, De la Nature, Nov. 27, 1991.
Gerard Wajcman, [From Tableau(Painting)], in
Jacques Lacan, Seminar, livre VI (19581959): Le
Critical Essays on Jacques Lacan, Ellie Ragland (ed.)
desir et son interpretation, unpublished seminar. Cf.
(New York: G. K. Hall, 1999) , pp.14248; cf.
Desire and the Interpretation of Desire in Hamlet
p.145. Wacjman explicates one lesson, that of May
(1959) , James Hulbert (trans.), Yale French Studies,
4, 1966, from Lacans Le se minaire, livre XIII
55/56 (1977) .
(19651966): Lobjet de la psychanalyse.
Sand, Manifestly Fallacious, pp.8593.
Lacan, The Agency, p.165.
Lacan, The Seminar, Book XX, p.24.
Lacan, The Agency, p.166.
Lacan, The Seminar, Book XX, ch. 8.
Jacques Lacan, Seminar on The Purloined
Lacan, The Subversion, p.315.
Letter, Jerey Mehlman (trans.) (Baltimore: Johns
Lacan, The Seminar, Book II, p.255.
Hopkins University Press, 1988) , pp.2854.
Sigmund Freud, An Evidential Dream (1924) ,
Lacan, The Agency, p.166.
The Standard Edition, vol. XII, pp.26877; cf. p.274.
Jacques Lacan, The direction of the treatment 44
Freud, An Evidential Dream, p.175.
and the principles of its power (1958) , Ecrits: A 45
Lacan, The Subversion, pp.31415.
Selection, Alan Sheridan (trans. and ed.) (New York: 46
Ellie Ragland-Sullivan, Jacques Lacan and the
W. W. Norton, 1977) , pp.22680; cf. pp.25672.
Philosophy of Psychoanalysis (Champaign and Chicago:
Jacques Lacan, The subversion of the subject
The University of Illinois Press, 1987), cf. ch. 4,
and the dialectic of desire in the Freudian
The Relationship of Sense and Sign, pp.196266.
unconscious (1960) , Ecrits: A Selection, Alan Sheridan
Jacques-Alain Miller, Les reponses du reel, course
(trans. and ed.) (New York: W. W. Norton, 1977) ,
of 19831984, given in the Department of
pp.292325; cf. p.315.
Psychoanalysis, The University of Paris VIII, Saint 30
Jacques-Alain Miller, Ce qui fait insigne, course of
Denis, unpublished course.
19871988, given in the Department of
Sigmund Freud, Instincts and Their Vicissitudes
Psychoanalysis, The University of Paris VIII, Saint
(1915), The Standard Edition, pp.11140.
Denis, unpublished course, lecture of January
Daniel G. Collins, On the Drive, Umbr(a): A
14, 1987.
Journal of the Unconscious, 1 (1997) , 6779; cf. 71.
Jacques Lacan, The Seminar, Book XX (19721973) :
Quoted by Collins in On the Drive, p.71.
Encore, Jacques-Alain Miller (ed.) Bruce Fink (trans.
Jacques Lacan, The Seminar, Book XI (1964): The
and notes) (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998, p.91.
Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, Jacques-
Lacan, The Seminar, Book XX, p.92.
Alain Miller (ed.), Alan Sheridan (trans.) (New
Lacan, The Seminar, Book XX, p.92.
York: W. W. Norton, 1978) , pp.18889.
Rosemarie Sand, Manifestly Fallacious, in
Lacan, The Seminar, Book II, p.243; cf. the
Unauthorized Freud: Doubters Confront a Legend,
Schema L. Frederick Crews (ed.) (New York: Penguin Books,
Gregory Benford, Deep Time: How Humanity 1998) , pp.8593; cf. p.92.
Communicates Across Millennia (New York: Avon
Jacques-Alain Miller, De la nature des semblants,
course of 19911992, given in the Department of Books, 1999) .
Ellie Ragland is Professor and former Department Chair of English at the
University of Missouri (Columbia). She received her Ph.D. in French and
Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan and has taught in the
Department of Psychoanalysis at the University of Paris VIII, Saint Denis
(19941995) . She is the author of Rabelais and Panurge: A Psychological Approach to Literary
Character (1976), Jacques Lacan and the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis (1986), and Essays on
the Pleasures of Death: From Freud to Lacan (1995) . She coedited Lacan and the Subject of
Language with Mark Bracher (1991) and edited Critical Essays on Jacques Lacan (1999).
She is editor of the Newsletter of the Freudian Field and author of numerous essays on
Lacan, psychoanalysis, literature, and gender theory. Her forthcoming books are
Proving Lacan: Psychoanalysis and the Interdisciplinary Force of Evidentiary Knowledge, co-edited
with David Metzger, and The Logic of Sexuation Aristotle to Lacan.