The oedipus heralds the loss of the pre-symbolic identity of the subject, that is forced to live, to think and to talk in a common language. Unspoken, preverbal identity elements are abandoned. Poetry is perhaps a form of language that brings to mind these pre-oedipal hidden sentiments. In other words, the question is what are the traces of this mutilation and these losses? Julia Kristeva’s theory of the semiotic, and also the work of Wilfred Bion, Lou-Andréas Salomé and Ingeborg Bachmann, are discussed in detail with regards to their contributions to the individuality and singularity of this pre-oedipal and preverbal condition. The importance of poetry (also in the psychoanalytic cure) is highlighted by an evocation of the literary survival attempt by Serge André, not least his personal comment on the book Flac that he wrote to free himself from the threat of physical risk.
This article investigates the relationship between the poetic use of language and analytic interpretation. Poetry and psychoanalysis are strongly formalised practices which, by transgressing the laws of discourse, lay bare the intimate relation one has with jouissance, and in doing so, demonstrate many similarities. Both analytic interpretation and poetic scripture are born out of a violence against language, out of an attempt to create sense out of non-sense, and out of the suggestion that meaning and sound would have a natural connection. Above all, they share the same ethical aspiration, not to retreat before the impossible real. Each stumbles in its particular way at the attempt of the signifier to signify itself, but in such a way that the object a, rolling out of its narcissistic envelope, reveals itself. It allows the poet to illuminate the gap within the metaphor; to the analysand it offers the opportunity to change his position towards the jouissance.
The English poet Sir Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) claimed that something of him was to be found in The Lady of Shalott (first version in 1832, second version in 1842). A close reading of some stanzas shows that several translations miss the key-moment of the poem. If we consider the contemporary painting inspired by the poem and approach the writing of poetry as speech on the edge of the unconscious as explored by psychoanalysis, we can apprehend more clearly the significance of the Lady’s destiny seeing her working at a loom, as a metaphor for the poet’s creative process, himself a “translator” of experiences and sounds which he does not quite understand. The evolution of gender roles in our society, as revealed by some poems, legends or fairy tales, sharpens our perception of the main character.