The Freudian Unconscious? A subversion of evolution as adaptation

Smith (2002), in “The evolution of the unconscious”, states that the Freudian unconscious consists of evolved psychological or biological propensities. In this paper, the author analyses Smith’s statement through a critical discussion of the neo-Darwinian conception of evolution as adaptation. Varela, Thompson and Rosh’s (1993) critique is outlined, and their alternative view on evolution as a sort of “natural drift” is introduced. The central idea is that living beings and their environments relate to each other through a mutual specification or codetermination, a history of structural coupling. The second part of this paper addresses the specific way in which a subject is structurally coupled with its environment through a reading of a passage in the “Project” (1950a). Here Freud discusses the helplessness that characterizes the existence of the human infant. We conclude that the psychic system emerges between the organic and the social level by interpreting the own body in function of the other. Finally the way in which Lacan’s (1977) graph of desire conceptualised the structural coupling of a subject with its environment is addressed. A reading of the graph leads to the conclusion that the unconscious consists, not of evolved but rather, of subverted biological propensities.

The Voice and the Invocative Drive

Lacan introduced the voice and the gaze as two new objects of the drive, besides the anal, oral and phallic object. In this article the author provides a brief overview of the conceptualisation of the voice and the invocative drive in Lacan’s seminars. This overview permits the characterization of the voice as a tension between sense and nonsense, between speech subjected to the Law on the one hand, and something of the real, the object a as that which should be situated beyond discourse on the other hand. Furthermore, the voice appears to be a special object in that it is not a partial sexual object but rather a subjectifying object. It is the voice of the mother, the mother’s sonata, that “sings a subject into being”. It transmits a certain dimension of the Law, but it also contains its transgression when it abolishes the discontinuities particular to speech. The first period of the invocative drive is the dynamic between the song of the mother and the cry of the child. The second period is that of the real privation of the mother. The Phallus names the mother’s absence in the third period and thus realizes a primordial repression. As a result of this the voice as object is lost between mother and infant. The question of a fourth period of the invocative drive is addressed in the last part of this paper and is related to sublimation on the one hand and the cure on the other.

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A Forgotten Manuscript? M. Duras’ La Douleur

“J’ai retrouvé ce journal dans deux cahiers des armoires bleues de Neauphle-le-Château. Je n’ai aucun souvenir de l’avoir écrit. Je sais que je l’ai fait, que c’est moi qui l’ai écrit, je reconnais mon écriture et le détail de ce que je raconte, […], mais je ne me vois pas écrivant ce Journal. […] Je ne sais plus rien” (Duras, 1985a: 12). With these words, Duras ensnares the reader. With remarkable clarity, she describes waiting for Robert Antelme. How are we to understand her forgetting of this manuscript? Are we dealing with a Freudian forgetting? Has Duras really forgotten that she wrote her pain? Is it a simple lapsus or can we learn something new about forgetfulness here? Does something like a true forgetting exist, and if so, how should we characterize Duras’ manuscript, forgotten, but nonetheless recognizable? With these questions as signposts, the author moves from Duras’ book La douleur (1985a) to Laure Adler’s biography of Duras.

Once upon a Time: Femininity and the Feminine Position

This article has as a central reference Jelinek’s revised version of the fairytale “Sleeping Beauty”. The author describes how the two protagonists, Sleeping Beauty and her Prince, encounter, take up their positions and mark both relation and difference. Jelinek’s interpretation allows for one to address the question of femininity in a structural manner. The idea of a feminine position is explicated through a comparison of Sleeping Beauty with Antigone. In contrast with this feminine position, the position of the prince is characterized as a place of unity: the place of he that is who he is. This leads to the question of a(n) (im)possible relation between a crazy feminine desire and a unique phallic desire.