As a comment on Smith’s paper, “The Evolution of the Unconscious” (2002), the question of the nature of so-called unconscious communication is addressed. Some passages in Freud’s writings appear to suggest that this phenomenon can be explained by the transmission of meaning theory according to which what is communicated or transmitted in unconscious communication comes down to the transmission of unconscious meaning attached to material cues that are consciously or unconsciously perceived. With reference to some reported examples of unconscious communication, it is argued that there is no convincing support for this theory and that, at best, they demonstrate that what is communicated is not meaning but rather resistance. It is further argued that the extensive clinical case published by Jacobs (2001) in which a disruption of the analytical process is explained by the conveyance of unconscious messages attached to the nonverbal enactments of the psychoanalyst does not require us to accept the transmission of meaning theory but rather provides an excellent example of the notion that the resistance of the patient is ultimately explained in relation to the resistance of the analyst.
In this article a solid neurodynamic framework is proposed for the Freudian-Lacanian linguistically structured unconscious in terms of “affect sticking to phonology”, as well as for the particular importance of articulation in the processing of affect. First, the idea is defended that the phonological structure of language can act as a “carrier” of affect, independent from the associated semantics. The affect-phonology link can be considered as a conditioning mechanism at the level of the reptilian limbic system, whereas semantics is assigned after a disambiguation process at the level of the analytical, modern neocortex. While in this disambiguation, alternative semantic contents, which are irrelevant in the given context, are inhibited, the affective arousal associated with these alternatives is not. The origin of the excitation or anxiety is therefore not grasped or is falsely and rationally attributed to the active semantics. These are the so-called Freudian false connections. Second, the idea is defended that articulation acts as a scansion process that cuts the massive affective charge into a sequentially fragmented motor output and that the psychological gain in this translation is understood in terms of controllability, organisation and (topographical) representation.
Starting from the biography and evolution of the art of Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky, a psychobiographical hypothesis is formulated concerning an important shift in the artist’s work, namely, his choosing to combine painting with calligraphy and writing. This “choice” was made when the artist found himself in an artistic impasse. It is shown how the signifier “graph” appears over and over again in his artistic evolution and apparently functions as a master signifier. Based on biographical material from his childhood, it is argued that the left-handed Alechinsky, in choosing calligraphic painting, was able to circumvent the Oedipal threat and, in so doing, could identify himself with the desire of his mother who, not coincidentally, was a graphologist.
In this contribution the work of Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky is analysed from an interdisciplinary perspective. First, within the perspective of art history, the author traces the trajectory of the artist starting from his encounters with the Cobra movement, the Chinese artist Walasse Ting and the Japanese calligraphers, to the use of acrylic during the elaboration of a painted handwriting that characterises his work and that is partially determined by childhood experiences. Then, the author delves deeper into this work by elaborating a psychoanalytic hypothesis. Starting from the insistence of the signifier “graph” in the artistic trajectory and in the discourse of the artist, and using the method proposed by Freud in his essay on Leonardo da Vinci and the paradigm of dream interpretation, the hypothesis is formulated that, during the elaboration process of his own painted handwriting, the artist identifies himself with the desire of his mother, who had a passion for graphology. Moreover, it is argued that the left-handed “written” paintings take root in the unconscious of the left-handed Alechinsky.
Wild Children, Wild Language Theories: Lacan’s View of the Signifier through an Analysis of Kaspar Hauser and Victor of Aveyron
This article illustrates Lacan’s theory of language and the signifier using the story of two feral children. It is first argued that the failure to educate Victor of Aveyron to become a subject is related to the inaccuracy of his educator’s theory of language. The function of language is not to communicate one’s needs, nor is it the signifier’s function to refer to an object. The signifier only refers to other signifiers and it signifies absence. It is in that way that it raises an infant to be a cultural being. It was this process that guaran¬teed the socializing and subjectification of the second feral child, Kaspar Hauser.