◆Subjectivity and Otherness: A Philosophical Reading of Lacan, by Lorenzo , 2007
My stress on the dependence of new (neologistic) signification on repression and the return of the repressed makes it necessary to specify how my claim differs from Laplanche's anti-Lacanian argument according to which unconscious metaphoric substitutions are always responsible for the connection existing in consciousness between the signifier and the signified. This view distorts the notion of double inscription by rendering it inextricable from repression stricto sensu. The fact that new signification necessarily emerges through metaphoric substitution (repression stricto sensu) does not entail that, at the conscious level, already existing signification cannot function autonomously of the unconscious—cannot, that is, function according to the laws of grammar alone.
Furthermore, for Laplanche, at the individual level of the child's pre-Oedipal psychogenesis, it is the always-already metaphorical structure of the unconscious that allows the acquisition of language; while for Lacan, language precedes the unconscious. More specifically , language can be said to precede the complete structuring of the unconscious inasmuch as primal repression—the metonymic uttering of the first cries, phonemes, or words—occurs in the individual without any metaphoric substitution.
Unlike Laplanche, Lacan thinks of elementary signifiers as mere oppositional couples— such as the Fort–Da described by Freud that attempts a primal symbolization of the trauma provoked by the mother's absence. Metaphoric substitution—and the parallel possibility of repression stricto sensu, together with a fully articulated language—will successively be effected only by the resolution of the Oedipus complex. Having said this, I also more generally argue, in agreement with Lacan, that language (and grammar) is historically produced only in concomitance with repression: all the words that we use in conscious language—and initially acquire as children independently of metaphoric substitutions—were once neologisms.
◆BEYOND GENDER. From subject to drive, Paul Verhaeghe,2001
In Freud, there is no final discussion about the nature of the drive's inscription in the system Ucs (Freud, 1915e). For him, it involves an idea of fixation in general and the body in particular. Hence we find expressions like fixation, constitution, drive root, and somatic compliance. These expressions appear in all his case studies, and they are always linked to a form of infantile pleasure.
From 1964 onwards, Lacan takes up this question and struggles with it. In the wake of the Bonneval conference and the discussion with Ricoeur, as well as with his own pupils Laplanche and Leclaire, he tries to come up with an answer. Laplanche and Leclaire put forward the hypothesis that the unconscious kernel contains a representational system: phonemes for Leclaire, imagoes (sensory images without signifiers) for Laplanche.
Lacan ultimately rejects both answers, and presents his own solution by developing his theory of object a and the letter. In his seminar XXII, R.S.I., he again picks up the idea of the letter as a representative of the drive in the system Ucs. (Lacan, 1975). This letter presents us with the particular way in which a drive is fixated [or a particular subject, but it cannot be signified in a definite way, the way of the phallic signifier of the One. As a letter it contains a knowledge, but this knowledge forms part of the not-whole part of the Other, thus making this Other ignorant about it. It is the Other of the body that remembers this knowledge and traces the same tracts each time (Freud's Bahnungen) within the economy of jouissance. But this economy of jouissance remains an enigma .
◆Zizek, LESS THAN NOTHING, 2012
We can now see the precise sense of Lacan's thesis according to which what is “primordially repressed” is the binary signifier (that of Vorstellungs‐Repräsentanz): what the symbolic order precludes is the full harmonious presence of the couple of Master‐Signifiers, S1‐S2, as yin‐yang or any other two symmetrical “fundamental principles.” The fact that “there is no sexual relationship” means precisely that the secondary signifier (that of the Woman) is “primordially repressed,” and what we get in place of this repression, what fills the gap, are the multiple “returns of the repressed,” the series of “ordinary” signifiers.
Recall again Lacan's precise reading of Freud's concept of Vorstellungs‐Repräsentanz: not simply (as Freud probably intended it) a mental representation or idea which is the psychic representative of the biological instinct, but (much more ingeniously) the representative (stand‐in, place‐holder) of a missing representation. Every name is in this sense a Vorstellungs‐Repräsentanz: the signifying representative of that dimension in the designated object which eludes representation, that which cannot be covered by our ideas‐representations of the positive properties of this object. There is “something in you more than yourself,” the elusive je ne sais quoi which makes you what you are, which accounts for your “specific flavor”—and the name, far from referring to the collection of your properties, ultimately refers to that elusive X. An act does have a cause: it is caused by the objet a, by the je ne sais quoi which pushes me to do it. The moment one asks, “What to do?” this cause is lost.
Does not the formula of love—“You are … you!”—rely on the split which is at the core of every tautology? You—this empirical person, full of defects—are you, the sublime object of love, for the tautology itself renders visible the radical split or gap. This tautology surprises the lover again and again: how can you be you?18 But we should take a step further here and recall that Lacan defines Vorstellungs‐Repräsentanz as the representative of the missing binary signifier, the feminine Master‐Signifier which would be the counterpart of the phallic Master‐Signifier, guaranteeing the complementarity of the two sexes, each at its own place—yin and yang, etc. Lacan's thesis is that the starting point is the self‐deferral of the One, its non‐coincidence with itself, and that the two sexes are two ways of dealing with this deadlock.