ABYSSAL GROUNDS: LACAN AND HEIDEGGER ON TRUTH Author(s): Gabriel Riera Reviewed work(s): Source: Qui Parle, Vol

. 9, No. 2, Special Issue on Lacan (Spring/Summer 1996), pp. 51-76 Published by: University of Nebraska Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20686047 . Accessed: 14/12/2011 10:11
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Gabriel Riera

justified. Is it enough to say,with Elisabeth Roudinesco, that the rela Lacan and Heidegger is simply an episodic event?' between tionship Or, against this anecdotal reduction of what appears to be a more

In thinking the linkbetween philosophy and psychoanalysis, the re lation between Heidegger and Lacan seems unavoidable. Yet, it is far less clear what form this link should take and how it might be

relatively controllable thematic repertoire that Lacan appropriates and reformulates to neutralize the "totalizing effects" of the Hegelian dialectic?3 Anecdotal reduction, conceptual homology, thematic il lustration. When thinking the relation between Lacan and Heidegger, it is necessary

intellectual "exchange," is it necessary, followingWil encompassing liam Richardson, to put the Lacanian subject (the subject of the un conscious) on the same levelwith Heidegger's Dasein?2 Or, in search ingforan intermediate position between these two approaches, might one, with Edward S. Casey and Melvin Woody, read inHeidegger a

will followthequestion analysistodaycrosspaths inthisspacing, I The questionof truth will provide converge. Heideggerian thinking
Qui Parle Vol. 9, No. 2, Spring/Summer 1996

to find a different path, a path thatwill allow one to introduce themark of a spacing. Given that philosophy and psycho inwhich Lacanian psychoanalysis and

of truth as the question

an abyssal infrastructure. that is. brings not only Being and time "into itsown. on the other hand." the unfolding of itsunthought "contents" also supposes a modification of truth: language. Moreover. an other which cannot be attained in or by the lan guage of Being. Following Rodolphe Gasche. on the one hand. time. ForHeidegger. . "truth" renders possible the condition of possibility of a series ofwords or concepts. and which articulates the limits . their"w" The "own"~ or "proper"~ isunderstood by Heidegger not as an immanent essence thatgrounds a permanence. By focusing on language and truth. Heidegger's to as in order think "truth" the unthought of philoso conceptuality Heidegger. and on language as I show how Heidegger. Being. This essay focuses on the question of truthbecause Heidegger's a retrogression from presupposes unfolding of the question are more con to which "determinations" than conceptuality original these concepts include: Dasein."4 As I will on truth terrain reflection the of abandons show. as well as to his narrative of the history of truth. "a complex set of conditions which brings the ideality of a whole or a system both into reach and out of reach. . language possible. of words and concepts. as a condition of possibility for the possi . structure." that is. in his insistentdisplacements and truth. but rather as that fromwhich Being and time come to themselves. As the unthought of philosophy. entities. this bringing them to amounts to their disappearance. In this paper of what has been traditionally conceived as the locus phy. will reinscriptions of these concepts." but also language and truth in what he calls the "event of I will pay close attention to the transformations concept of language undergoes fromBeing and Time appropriation" [Ereignis]. thatHeidegger's toOn the Way to Language. because "truth" isnot a concept but ratherone of Heidegger's "basic words. is the condition of for makes time what Be and Ereignis possibility as truth and it ing. I call this infrastructure abyssal because. inasmuch brings them to their "own" or "proper" [eigen]. as well as that which "gives" Being and time their "relation" Ereignis.52 GABRIEL RIERA the necessary infrastructureto assess the relation between Lacan and I call this unfolding an "infra cepts. However.

Lacan's own position regarding philosophical discourse is ambigu ous.] (H. namely. For instance. after visiting the Cathedral at Chartres. the seminar entitled The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. which is furthercorrobo between exchange rated in Lacan's teaching. in the front seat.ABYSSAL GROUNDS 53 of thinking. of the four discourses For Roudinesco. or Thinking the Space Between dent: a scene In her Histoire de la Psychanalyse reduces the relationship between inwhich en France. Lacan's use of the implicit references to Heidegger crucial concept of the Thing [la Chose! das Ding]. This seminar ispunctuated by explicit and inparticular. when developing and formalizing the mathemes in his seminar L'Envers de Ia Psychanalyse. 310) Heidegger stays at la Prevote. Nevertheless. I Lacan and Heidegger. Seated plaints grow while Lacan accelerates. Even ifsomething like an exchange did not take place. Ereignis interrupts any possibility of keeping those concepts as theywere and consequently points to another type This abyssal infrastructure. On theway back. is also operative in a deci sive moment of Lacan's teaching. Elisabeth Roudinesco Lacan and Heidegger to an inci Lacan masters the situation while the Ger She writes: man thinker remains both silent and motionless. Heidegger re mains quiet all throughout the trip and his wife's com his sessions. on theway to Heidegger. Lacan nevertheless borrowed a "language" from . language and truth. this curious scene exemplifies the literal lack of Lacan and Heidegger. Heidegger remains but his wife still. Iclaim. Lacan drives his automobile at the speed of someof hisearliertheoretical work through Heidegger to problems. Lacan takes some decisive detours. bilities of Being. complains. Sylvie transmits her fears to Lacan without success. The trip ends and everyone returns to their own homes [Le voyage prend fin et chacun retourne chez soi.Ereignis is neither their ground nor their foundation.

7 The authors point out that. even though Casey and Woody make the prob lematic relationship between psychoanalysis the relation between Lacan and Heidegger tion. Lacan pays a last visit to "propaedeutic Heidegger after having developed the theory of the Borromean knot. needs further elucida Casey's point of departure is to characterize the Lacanian sub ject as a "spoken subject. Heidegger. because the undertaking of the psychoanalyst acts inour time as a mediator between ject of absolute theman of care and the sub knowledge. since the dialectic of desire and the un conscious as a riddle of the mind are both missing from philosophi cal resolutions. this ofHeidegger. They conclude Heideggerian by claiming that Lacan dismisses both Hegelian resolutions as impossible or inadequate: and uses of Hegel's and is articulating his in this Of all the undertakings that have been proposed century. that of the psychoanalyst is perhaps the loftiest." over. "Hegel. This misunderstanding in Casey and Woody's appears study. inasmuch as the time of a sity of an epoch general errancy of a to of the limit of all passage meaning. cannot obscure the fact philosophy as the discourse of the master and In Encore. Lacan legitimately points to the insufficiency of phi losophy. conception is"rooted inthephilosophy . . Lacan: of Desire. Lacan reduces his relationship with Heidegger's thinking to a Lacan characterizes Dialectic Heidegger's philosophy "return to Freud. a subject "created by the play of the signifier" and understood as "an effect of speaking."6 that Heideggerian Lacan's declarations have led to a general misunderstanding about his relation with Heidegger's thought. and philosophy clear. possible signification. they respond to the "neces . though." which traces Lacan's at the time when Lacan reference. as Jean-Luc Nancy claims. .54 GABRIEL RIERA thinking and Lacanian psychoanalysis are coex tensive since. 105)." Nevertheless." that is. However." Their main thesis is that "psychoanalysis must find a thirdway between. or beyond Hegel and Heidegger" (D." According who has insisted on the primacy of language over the speaking sub toCasey.5 These denegations and ambiguities. more situates his own discourse as an "antiphilosophy.

Therefore it underlies both interpretation and assertion .ABYSSAL GROUNDS 55 "die ject" (D. Discourse is existentially . The shift is significant because in "die Sprache spricht. Casey goes so far as to homologize Heidegger's from the On to Lan and the essay Sprache spricht" "L6gos" Way guage with the distinction between discourse [Rede] and idle talk of Being and Time. equiprimordial with state-of-mind and understanding is theArticulation of Discourse intelligibility. This homol [Gerede] from paragraph thirty-four ogy is problematic because those determinations of language be understood as a preparatory analysis for the formulation of the "fun damental question." respect to Rede (discourse. this totality thus becomes something which we may come across as ready-to-hand [zuhanden]."Casey disregards how the concept of language ismodi long to different horizons: the distinction between Rede and Gerede belongs to the horizon of the existential analytic of Dasein. . has. a totality in which dis Language isa totality ofwords course has a as an entity its of and own. but rather with "undergoing an experi ence with language. 89). Discourse is existentially it ar language. The ex pression "die Sprache spricht" belongs to the horizon of a reversal of the traditional interpretation of language.. language ceases to be an object. which is fied from Being and Time to the Vortrsge und Aufsstze. "worldly" Being within-the-world. . as its kind of a Being Being. a means at the disposal of human beings. it is derivative with language is a "founded phenomenon. and becomes "Be ing itself. because the entitywhose disclosedness ticulates according to signification. Language can be broken up intoword-things which are present-at-hand [vorhanden]." the question of the meaning of Being." the concern isno longer with a concept of language. . .The way inwhich discourse is expressed is language [Sprache]. in the sense of both manifestation and articulation): The existential-ontological foundation of language isdis course or talk [Rede]. . Being-in-the-world [In-der-WeIt-sein] which has been thrown and submitted to the "world." It should be recalled that in Being and Time that is."8 ..

and words still have the character of things. Ldgein letsAldth4a. nevertheless suggests: having come forward to endure in Logos unconcealment." as "alienated from himself. It isafter submitting these predi cates to a displacement that "the essential speaking of language" can be displayed: saying as a "letting-lie-together-before [legein occurs as sagen]" (L. 64). The essential determination of language the elucidation of an infrastructureof disclosure: is present before and down into lays thatwhich it that is.56 GABRIEL RIERA expression). analysis of subjectivity in Being and Time.. All disclosure releases what ispresent from concealment.. There isan additional complication in theway thatCasey reads the philosophical origins of Lacan's conception of the subject. Being and Time. Heidegger still conceives of language ina more traditional way (as an instrumentof an interpretation of Heraclitus' fragment B50. Presencing presencing. isAldtheia." The origin of these formulations. thought it Heraclitus a cancellation of Heidegger's equation language and truth requires and relegation of the classical predicates of language: vocalization [phond] and signification [semainen].. language in Lacan provides the "structure and limit" of the derstand the relation between appears as "ex-centric. appears "in Heidegger's It is precisely this infrastructure thatwill be decisive thesubject field in which thesubjectcomes tobe. L6gos is in It itselfand at the same time a revealing and concealing. would not be language (understood In rivative concept) but discourse. For Casey. 70-71) inorder to un Lacan and Heidegger. lie the Same. according to Casey. Because the lgos lets liebefore us what lies before us as such. consequently. (L."9 In this essential determination. This determi through which "the Greeks dwelt . Withinthisfield." a more "essential determination of language" Heidegger undertakes as a de Logos. But disclosure is as such. But they never nation of logos isone in included. unconcealed before us . puts those things back. In his 1927 work. In "L6gos. . itdiscloses what is present in its Altheia. The A-Ldtheia rests in Ldthe. This and lgos are presencing..

and embarks on an understanding of I6gos as discourse in the sense of manifestation. originating in the analytic of Dasein. Lacan to Heidegger. to interpretation of Idgos allows Heidegger destruc this undertake the destruction of traditional logic. Richardson can provide a "formal [Seinsfrage] "Being-question" Heidegger's structure" to understand the notions of the Other and the uncon scious. viz. lyticof subjectivity.or ontifying it. 147. Here. Given that he reads Heidegger's analytic of Dasein as an ana isproblematic. According to Richardson. This truth [alethdia] and without "undergoing an experience with lan [Wesen] of language en guage. my emphasis) approach. Heidegger we in find the derivative character of language that Being and Time. Casey's terminology he blurs the difference between Heidegger and the more phenom which depend on a philosophical discourses enologically-oriented fact that Casey rephrases the "ek conception of the subject."10 The rethinking of the essence withouta more "original" tioncould notbe possible way of thinking . from to Lacan instead of proceeding Heidegger us with new insights? In "Psychoanalysis and the Being provide Richardson explores what made Heidegger's Question. in the Heideggerian us to think of the [Being as Ereignis-Aldtheia] permits Other in the dimension of Being without hypostasizing it in any way. Indoing so. such as moving from a different type of approach. 89). the topology of Being.or absolutizing it suggests a way to consider the un foremost because conscious When as a disclossive process. (P. The static" nature of Dasein as subject is not inaccurate. sense. Would are then imported by psychoanalytic discourse. but he does not indicate how Lacan modifies those concepts which." William to Lacan and what lightthis thought may throw thought so attractive argues that upon Lacan's own innovative insight. Richardson's compared with Casey and Woody's has the advantage of taking us to a crucial moment of Heidegger's leaves behind thinking. firstand it.ABYSSAL GROUNDS 57 existence as Dasein: literally 'being Heidegger designates human there"' (D. However. This "formal structure" is that of Being as Ereignis-Aldtheia.

58 GABRIEL RIERA ables Heidegger of Ereignis. Being. translatability. Inorder to these must attention be paid towhat takes place in issues.. fromwithout. explore Lacan under the name of truth. and truthunder the name Nevertheless. as well as his attempt to bring together the un conscious and the disclossive process signaled by the name of "Be ing as Ereignis-Aletheia." What type of relation does "Being as Ereignis" establish? Is ita relation of identity. of sameness. (P. is aboriginal language and concealment . We must show whether this "formal structure" is appropriable." The question now becomes the extent of this that the is. but the disclosure of the Other as such inkindsisinEreignis-Altheiawhich." Richardson adds: need to be reevaluated. the "formal structure" us to jus allowing a between Lacan and tify relationship Heidegger? Richardson's for mulation suggests that a certain translatability of Heidegger in Lacan seems to be possible. Al6theia. or is it rather a determination of Being understood as a more encompassing "concept. Richardson's placement of Lacan's Other in the dimension of Being. what does still allow is the rela Before approaching the question of whether to Heidegger's of is commensurate with Lacan's. is ita determination thatwould us to think of Being as the "fundamental" question? What the sense indicated above? Furthermore. especially since The Being of the symbolic order is not an ontic Other of theOther like a Super-Absolute. as 157) Idgos. question ofwhether the "formal structure" if it is indeed a formal structure of Being's Ereignis-Aldtheia can be translated from Heidegger to Lacan without any alteration." that is. to think language. . Ereignis? In other words. we must pay close pology Being attention to Richardson's bringing together of "Being as Ereignis tionbetweenBeingand Ereignisif one can say "Beingas Ereign is" in the hyphen be . since the question of appropriation is the question of Ereignis. Is this bringing together of the Being-question and Lacan's Other a legitimate claim? Would the "disclossive process" of Being as Ereignis Altheia be.

Heidegger abandons the horizon of Dasein and takes Being as itunfolds itself inhistory. be the same as Being? insights that Richardson's semantically charged formula tion may yield depend on how we unfold each of the terms at play. Last Word Ereignis. Furthermore. above all. Because Dasein isan entity for which "Being isan issue. A first the period from Being and Time to the phase late 1930's and can be labelled as the period of fundamental ontol ogy. This formulation and itsusefulness depend above all on how we The Ja thinking. the "fact" of the forgettingof Being. As a limitof thinking. Heidegger's In situating how the thinking of Ereignis affects the "Being-question. Thiswithdrawal privileged that for the whole Western of as implies Being isunderstood thought presence. being the same as Ereignis. it is that it points something to a relation." The question whole problematic. especially Ereignis. that is. itpoints to the inside of the limit and the closure itestablishes.ABYSSAL GROUNDS 59 tween Ereignis and Aletheia mean? How can Ereignis and Aldtheia name the same thing?And how. Ereignis is like a double-headed nus: on the one hand. withdrawalas its mode ofgranting itself. it indicates an out understand the relation of the terms in question. Being's ." we may characterize the work of Heidegger as consisting of three covers moments. can Altheia. that of metaphysics. What isdecisive now are themodes in which Being grants or "gives" itself and. will opt for one which is justified on the basis of the meaning of Ereignis for the of Heidegger's work. However.12 There are several possibilities for understand I ing and unfolding Richardson's formulation." itsexisten tial structure may illuminate the understanding of the "Being-ques tion. while on the other hand. Fundamental ontology isdeveloped from the frame of both an existential analytic and the temporality of a privileged entity:Dasein. and that of an other whole side to this closure. we can say that it marks a limitbetween two spaces of thinking. Finally. as well as on the basis ofwhat the think ingof Ereignis implies for Being and truth. If can be said with certainty about Ereignis. finally. we may speak of a third period whose guiding of the meaning of Being is the horizon of this In the second period.

by the covering up of Anwesung (the coming-into-presence). the expression "as" in "Being as Ereignis" fails. The thinking of this relation opens the possibility of a wholly other commencement for thinking [andere Anfang]. to do justice to this heterogeneity. at least partially. We call the giving which If Being proceeds from "something" other than itself.) This mutation is the transformation of the "original experience of presencing" intoa metaphysics of presence (Platonism). in this thirdmoment is the question: is at stake forHeidegger What (in the sense of permanence). period in as of Being's determination presence. The giv that ing gives time is determined by denying and with of time-space holding nearness. how. As extending is itself. is withheld in approach. the first two moments (particularly the second) affirm that for thewhole of metaphysics the meaning of Being ispresence "Why. mutation of Anwesung into Anwesende (presence in the sense of permanence. Isay "partially" because inHeidegger there are several configurations of the "relation" Being and Ereignis. To begin with. and where does time appear? In this case. Time is. in the sense that Being is given" . In ofBeing [Es]are Beingand thegiving . therefore. This unthought concerns time as well as the relation determining Time and Being. Ereignis possess heterogeneity. in lightof this thirdmoment. the unthought of the "Being question.60 GABRIEL RIERA a which Heidegger thinks the unthought thought isEreignis. Itgives time [Es gibt Zeit]. how and where does something like time speak in Being?" In "Es gibt Sein" or other words. There is. and for this reason Being has been determined by time.why. Richardson's When considered that is." The "forgettingof Being" is not fortuitous but rather is the expression "Being as Ereignis" is problematic for two reasons. one of theseconfigurations. it may be a and certain In that Being this case. in thinking the provenance of Being"there is Being. 13 and preserves what remains denied inwhat has-been.the giving of a giving is concealed in true time. the "Es"of Es gibt Sein refers to Time: Time is not. Itgrants the Openness what gives true time an extending which opens and conceals.

behaves as Ereignis. the Es of Es gibt Zeit points to an enigmatic anteriority.) And second. inasmuch as assimilating Being to Ereignis since the of compresses Ereignis. but that which makes . into theirown and. there becomes manifest a dedication. the event of Ap propriation. however." or better still. ifEreignis points to the limit of this history of Being. in the extending of time. the heterogeneity of Time and Ereignis. The question . must now follow Heidegger in his attempt to determine the determination of time.we shall call: Ereignis. then we are on it is the giver of itsown figures.ABYSSAL GROUNDS 61 the same: Being gives itself itsown figures by and through the his own granting. What determines both. when the and of time as the realm of the open. time and Being. its and of that Being history. the expression "Being toryof its as Ereignis" could be understood as saying that Being. And yet. One should bear inmind. . the condition for the history of Being. namely of Being as presence Es (the "giver") points to time (to the Es gibt Zeit. it more to accurate would then be say "Being as Time. ." Nevertheless this last expression fails to capture the inside of the closure. As in the it should be clear that the thinking of Ereignis involves two "moments": first. maintains and holds them .the giving of Being (Es gibt Sein). thought Being is given by time. The thinking of Ereignis asks foran additional step back. In this case. that is. That is. that "event" isnot simply an occurrence. a delivering over into what is their own. in their own. Ereignis: In the sending of the destiny of Being. By We of that same history. In this line of thought. in their be longing together. occurrence What lets the two matters any possible what bringsthe two [Beingand Time] belong together. that which "unifies" time is anything temporal. by assimilating Being to Ereignis. that is. even more. time "gives" itself itsown dimensions. "Time as Ereignis.what gives the history of Being itsown provenance? points to a more "originary" giving of one is non-dependent upon time. However. when the Es points to an anteriority other than Being and time. this understanding of Being may verywell be taken as one of the figures now case of Being. Moreover.

However. and puts an end to the history of philosophy as the history of this mutual dependency on truthand knowledge. After this detour. He thus establishes a kind of primal scene of thought. Moreover." As the "es bility of being-in-the-world. 19) in their belonging together . Ereignis could be referred to as the "truth" of Being and Time. This reassessment of truth transforms the traditional determinations of truth as intuition and assertion [Aussage] into secondary determinations. is Appropriation [Ereignis]. as well as the relation of the belonging-together of time and sential" anteriority of Being and time.." II Lacan with Heidegger? A common point of departure for both Heidegger and Lacan can be read in the way each unties the knot that traditionally has linked truth to knowledge.62 GABRIEL RIERA (TB. that is. as an ontological possi plishes in Being and Time allows him to refine the "sameness" of Ldgos-Aldtheia." albeit in a very different "light. Heidegger's well-known untying of Being. Thus. a pre-Platonic scene anterior to the "fall" of truth in theweb of the signifier. we come back to the question of "truth." Ereignis points to the thinking of an abyssal ground. Ereignis names what makes Being and time come into their own [eigen]. This untying allows them to re-think their rela tion with tradition and origins. But Ereignis is the name or the marker forwhat withdraws itself in the "event of (co)appropriation. In insofar as Being and Time. Heidegger accomplishes a displacement he thinks truthas being-uncovering.. the displacement Heidegger accom truth from knowledge leads him to assess the history of philosophy as the history of a dependency on a non-essential determination. but it isan abyssal infrastructurethat cannot be thought "as Being. Heidegger of the word "truth" and cannot [aldtheia] pendentupon thehistory assess thepositionhe had put forth inBeing and Time: resist a number of philological later re . this narrative of the history of truth remains too de objections. Ereignis-Aldtheia.

translation modified) of By coming intoplaywithout being exhaustedby the reversal under the "logic" of Ereignis [Es phrases. This redrawing can be read as a "going beyond the Greek" and as an opposition to the criteria of validation narrowly embraced by the sciences."" language remains an instru Itexchanges this analytic for one in which language is the unfolding [wesen] of the being of things. (NL.4 to correct In the scope of this question. In this experience with language. the topology of truth is redrawn. since the latterdoes In the whole an opening comes into com in Being and Time. 94. an analytic ment at the service of man. from unconcealment ness. it is the kin4sis of language. has to be understood in its verbal sense as Es west: "it unfolds unfolding its duration. we must acknowledge the in the sense of the open fact that aldtheia. we cannot presume not become exhausted at all ina simple reversal of the order ofwords of the first turn of phrase. is also untenable." der Sprache of the guide-word a play. But then the assertion about the essential transfor mation of truth. The "experience with language" undergone in "The Nature of Language" is formulated succinctly in the "transfor [Das Wesen der Sprache] in which mation" thatHeidegger's guide-word [Leitwort] suffers: "Das wesen Die Sprache des Wesens." This reconfiguration leaves behind the metaphysically-oriented analytic of language in something which. This topological reconfiguration of the truthof Being is formu lated in terms of a "task [Aufgabe] of thinking. that is. Heidegger explains. thisopening is thought gibt."'6 Das wesen names the unveiling. unconcealment as ing of presence. as the correctness of representations and state ments. itshappen .] Das Wesen. was originally only experienced As part of this shift.ABYSSAL GROUNDS 63 orthotes.Heidegger's thought undergoes "an experience with language" that profoundly determines the relationship of truth as the unveiling of L6gos-Al6theia. beckoning that points to ing from the firstturn of phrase. including the disper sion of philosophy familiar to the "human sciences. the second.

" that is. Lacan's treatment of das Ding has little to do with Heidegger's. One may hesitate to use this term in its generality with most decisive place. In fact. It is possible Lacan explicitly refers his own of the Thing [la Chose] to Heidegger's das Ding. Heidegger where he himself seems to lead the discussion to a different path. Lacan's approach to the Thing has more to do with the Freud of the Entwurf as read through the elaboration Freud of the Beyond the Pleasure Principle. He silences Heidegger when crucial articulations Lacan some important structural similarities are at play. therefore. a careful reading of Lacan's in terpretation of Antigone shows that Lacan is attentive to the same in Sophocles' play that were analyzed by therefore invokes Heidegger. Itcould be said. at least an ethics of thinking. Insofaras language [Sprache] isunderstood as "event. that is. Heideggerian. This strategy should not make us lose sight of the fact that Lacan encounters Heidegger on a similar ground.64 GABRIEL RIERA ingor "event" [Ereignis]. and also how both Freuds are read through Kant. Heidegger's "presence" is felt through out the Seminar and particularly in Lacan's reading of Sophocles' erations. implies an ethics."18 Despite extensive references to the literatureon Antigone." as unveiling. Still. especially if on the question of ethics in the "Letter on Humanism. Before analyzing Lacan's treatment of das Ding in greater de in the Seminar. As will become clear in what follows. that the "overcoming [Verwindung] of the Greek experience. it is nevertheless in the domain of an ethics that Lacan's encounter with philosophy and with Heidegger takes am I referringhere to Lacan's Seminar on The Ethics of Psy to detect in this Seminar a series of gestures. In The tail. displacements. "the task [Aufgabe] of thinking" one keeps in mind his harsh words respect to Heidegger. op and reinscriptions that are characteristically choanalysis. letme point to some crucial articulations . On several occasions Antigone inview of presenting the unpresentable "line of sight [point de visde] that defines desire."17 In spite of imposed by this Verwindung. to das Ding as a condition of possibility of desire. Lacan does not mention Heidegger's reading of the Greek tragedy. the reticence one may feel in attributing to Heidegger an ethics of thinking. Nevertheless. itgives [gibt] to things their determinations.

two discursive practices are encountered: as the field of on the one hand. and open the way to a "more primordial" determination of both the "good" and the "Law. if ceed deeply instead from the other direction by going more into the notion of the real [rdel]. elaborates whose horizon is thegood. I. (BT. Lacan repeats some of the Heideggerian movements of the destruction of the history of ontology.will pro the ideal. To appreciate this. is treated the question of the Good. Lacan writes: tory of ethical thinking (Aristotle. one has to look atwhat occurred in the interval between Aristotle and Freud. Heidegger writes: We this task as one inwhich by taking the of question Being as our clue. we are to destroy the tradi tional content of ancient ontology untilwe arrive at those understand . the Real. tangle the question of theGood from themoral imperative. namely. he opens an adjacent space fromwhich to think the [A]s odd as it may seem to that superficial opinion which assumes any inquiry intoethics must concern the field of not of the unreal. psychoanalysis ap unthought of ethics. In this way.. therefore. metaphysics. And because psychoanalysis deals with it can disen what is intractable for the philosopher of the Good." Lacan undermines some key articulations of the his Ethics of Psychoanalysis. 22-3) which we achieved our first primordial experiences in ways of determining the nature of Being Lacan. jouissance. Bentham. (E. 11) It is clear that in his displacement and reinscription of the question of ethics. . the question of ethics is to be articulated from the point of view of the location of man in relation to the real [rde/]. that is. ethics. on the other hand. .on the contrary. Kant). Lacan wants to determine how the economy of pleasure. whose presuppo sitions have served to justifypsychoanalysis' function and purpose.ABYSSAL GROUNDS 65 pears as the only practice able to handle what ethics has always left aside. Insofaras Freud's position constitutes progress here. is itself determined and simultaneously an ethics of the analytic experience that is "anterior" and "more original" than the ethics of themetaphysical tradition.

Lacan dismantles must disentangle Freud ponderant importance of the superego. a ground similar to that of to Lacan is led Heideggerian. The insights of The Ethics are put to the test in Lacan's reading of Antigone. aspect of das Ding to a quasi-transcendental the Kantian categories of the beautiful and the sub lime are put into play not inorder to secure the homeostatic nature of an economy of pleasure and of the good. Lacan invokes das Ding [la Chose]. he arrives only by way of double one hand. that is. is more Kantian than infrastructure of Ereignis-Al4theia. Although a use of Kant. a formal Kantian argument allows Lacan to separate the a objects of desire from das Ding. From the viewpoint of Beyond the Pleasure Prin cause of desire [objet a]. This separation sustains desire at distance and gives desire only its"motility. in Melanie Klein's maternal figuration of the Thing. Lacan condi from Kant (the categorical imperative being a genealogical short-circuited by a more "original" dimension of jouissance or of the "beyond pleasure. Lacan's elucidation of to those of the das Ding. and to elucidate the relationship of jouissance to the object tion of the Oedipus complex) but not without using Kant to disen from the Real any type of ontic representational content.66 GABRIEL RIERA some of Freud's as the pre insights. However." The way in which Lacan the Kantian categories of the beautiful and the sublime mobilizes has some structural similarities with Heidegger's with Heidegger's of art and the beautiful. Lacan's reading ofAntigone iscaptured in thewords is an additional complication." The articulation of an ethics of psychoanaly sis supposes an additional gesture within the general scope of Lacan's return to Freud. but rather as a way to indicate the provenance of "pure desire. while reaching conclusions homologous abyssal In his attempt to disentangle jouissance from the dialectics of desire. On the Heidegger."On the other hand. such ciple. tangle for example. found. through an explicit reference to Heidegger. Lacan the beautiful and the sublime unfolds Kant's aesthetic categories as overflowed and in or as the the sublime beautiful beautiful (the a as way of submitting the formal and terrupted by the sublime) transcendental Inother words. Kant. space. ing of There of Psychoanalysis thinking of thework non-aesthetic read Lacan confronts isone of philosophy's The tragedy privilegedself representations. .

the good and truth can psychoanalysis elucidate an ethics. tying together beauty and truth. The enargds is the same word that Cicero translates word derives from ensrgeia: "thatwhich in itselfand of itself radi ates and brings itselfto light. The relation between Lacan and on how this Openness is understood and on Heidegger depends as we will itself.issituated beyond thesym bolic order. this excess which the interplay among may be hinted at through an artwork in will be mobilized." (the visible desire that emanates from the gaze of the young virgin). that is. one of Lacan's goals is to elucidate different and thecircumscription of the dimensions. the excess of a jouissance that points to das Ding is neither apprehensible nor can be represented. After this overview of the main articulations of Lacan's Semi nar. On the III Das Ding Lacan with Kant: On the Way toHeidegger C'est la Chose qui se souvient de nous. the overdetermined character of his project becomes clear: on the one hand. Thing [das Ding] will allow Lacan .ABYSSAL GROUNDS 67 the chorus uses to referto the young virgin daughter ofOedipus after Creon makes his sentence public. thatwhich gives gives already been itselfto be seen does so in an inscription." As Heidegger reminds us. The words are: "Imeros Enarg6s. Desire and drive belong to thing that exceeds it to disentangle them: In The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. or.or beauty as the truthof desire. the chain of signifiers where desire is It should be recalled that desire proceeds from some the drive [Trieb]. 66). excessive logic jouissance and the death instinct. break the mirror of imaginary solutions. And yet. as evidentia. Only by taking into account this dimension other hand. But itcan only radiate if openness has granted" (EP. something topologically speaking. and touch the Real. And how thisOpenness see. the beautiful. beyond articulated. Lacan aims to show that the economy of the good based upon the pleasure principle derives from an un-economic. as Lacan phrases it. -Blanchot that. "visible desire.

(E. keeps jouissance at a distance. Ifthe signifier is the cause of means that jouissance can only be itsafter-effect. the relationship of the signifier to jouissance and to das Ding takes the form of an apo .2OThis strange inclusion that takes the form of an absolute exclusion will move desire and While desireobeys the logicof the tracks. that the sub distance and isconstituted ina kind of rela ject keeps its by primary affect. 54) the-signified [le hors-signifid] and of an emotional rela tionship to it [d'un rapport pathetique a lui]." beyond the sym would not be possible bolic order and the signifier.68 GABRIEL RIERA What is the death instinct? What is this kind of law be can only be posited as a final struc yond all law. as the vanishing point of any attainable reality? (E. it Only tionship characterized pression. This drive is "beyond the law. jouissancealong different .without the The signifier is the cause of jouissance to center is it how possible something which is signifier. there of the Thing and the fact fore. das Ding is. it to say something about das Ding without the intervention of the sig in question is the death instinct the drive that tends nifier. Nevertheless. The problem becomes. prior to any re or As an effect of the signifier.19 na: There retroactivelymay there be Thing-effects.which ture. The signifier is what thematerial cause of jouissance?. Therefore. nonetheless. how to explain the being-jouissance that desire does not have jouissance: Das Ding is thatwhich I will call the beyond-of-the-sig nified [le hors-signifid]. . . It isa function of this beyond-of is no jouissance without language. 207) The drive toward the Thing. The signifier isa necessary evil. but because of language there can be no jouissance of the Thing. . outside excentricto the signifier. jouissance. The typeof relationship ithas with the signifier is that of "extimacy" [extimitd]..

we wouldn't be in the kind of relationship to itthat itobliges us . Faced with this jouissance. desire could not articulate itself in the signifier and could not be come a demand: Ifthe Thing were not fundamentally veiled. the subject vanishes. as is the case in the structure of the phantasm ($o a). Das Ding unveils itself in every desire.. At this juncture. das Ding unveils itself in desire but. subtracts itselffrom the object of desire. das Ding opens thought to an a its dimension In this (as sense. Das Ding is the absen tee of desire's rendezvous. 118) in No object of desire can manage to represent das Ding. Lacan undoes the knotwhich ties truthand knowledge [connaissance]: das Ding can not be known or represented since the of desire that teem objects around the gap of das Ding are phantasmatic. itcould be abyssal priori cause). 147. hypostasizing a way to consider the unconscious as a disclossive process" (P. only a savoir. a la contourner] it to order conceive it. no dis course of knowledge ispossible. Bear an ontic truth.. to encircle symbolic order and therefore cuts off the subject from the Thing. that desire always comes . too late to its rendezvous We have alreadyshownthat thetruth ofdesire isnot my emphasis).ABYSSAL GROUNDS 69 As an absolute object of desire. or to bypass it [a la cerner. Thus. in concealing itselffrom desire. (E. with das Ding and that das Ding is theunpresentable of anteriority an object "lost" after the fact. das Ding manifests itself indesire only by itsabsence. however. The irrecov erable anteriority of the Thing supposed by the order of the signifier produces an unassimilable excess: a "lost" jouissance. We are now in a better position to re-evaluate Richardson's formulation according towhich "Being as Ereignis-Aldtheia permits us to think of the Other in the dimension of Being without . without this play of (un)veiling. Only a "discours de la semblance" can emerge regarding the Real. jouissance obeys the Law of the unmasterable Thing.. Inother words. But.. said that das Ding is the truth [aldtheia] of desire. which isboth cause of desire or "objet a" and a surplus of the real [plus-de-jouir]. in it first and foremost itsuggests because any way. at the same time.

In thisway.99) imaginary schemes [formations imaginaires]. theOther cannot be placed "in the ing these considerations in dimension of Being as Ereignis-Al6theia. forms the object of desire. but fades in the attempt. [It] imaginary and especially cultural elaborations in them useful objects. the economy of pleasure This imaginary solution leaves untouched aswell as thedependencyof thebeautiful upon thegood. . Lacan argues .70 GABRIEL RIERA mind. Antigone's jouissance trans Ding with (E. but rather presents itself as thatwhich touches the void where desire originates. .Anticipat will notbe fully untilL'envers formalized de ingan elaborationthat thatthediscoursesof religion and science belong to thisregime of la psychanalyse (themathemes of the four discourses)." as Richardson would have it. inas much as itpresents us with another side of the moral feeling and is evaluated according to the modalities with which itdeals with the void of the Thing. 112). suppresses its symbolic investment. Rather. . that death drive which. The subject seeks to fill the empty space of das Ding. the object of desire is affected by a strange surplus and takes place once the object of desire is raised to "the dignity [dignitd] of the Thing" (E. it finds collectivity recognizes rather a space of relaxation where it may ina way delude on the itself of das colonize the field of das subject Ding." to use Richardson's words. an imaginary solution that bars any hint of the field of das Ding: At the level of sublimation the object is inseparable from . such in kindsis in its has to be linked to the drive [Trieb]. in Ereignis-Aldtheia. as Ifthis is the case. For Lacan. there are then twoways to assess sublimation. A firstassessment might be called a "reactive" sublimation. Antigone is the sublime figure of the sublimation of the drive. disfigures it. then "the disclosure cupy this dimension. the a priori and absolute condition of desire would oc . pulsations and repetition. surrounds the empty space of das Ding without touching it. For Lacan. . and The object of desire becomes the object cause of desire. Antigone's figure illustrates "in an aes thetic form"what no longer refersback to the symbolic order.

itsituates the beautiful beyond the principle of pleasure and the logic flowed by the sublime and is the presentation of a pure excess.203). Whereas the former avoids das Ding. Thus we approach a non-pacifying. (E. 295). it is over rethinking of sublimation marks a passage from a moral of the common good to an ethics of psychoanalysis. since he situates the former "beyond the good": on the scale that separates us from the central field of if the desire. and the field fromwhich the truthof is indicated by itsown withdrawal. non-harmonizing aspect of the beautiful. Itstop us.ABYSSAL GROUNDS 71 "reactive" sublimation. or "1'arrite de mort" Reactive access desire sublimation functions as a double barrier banning us from to the field of das Ding. It is from the space of the . good constitutes the firststopping place. In this sense the beautiful is sublime beforehand. the "dazzle" is a Lacan situates Antigone in a space "between two deaths." a one since "thebeautyeffectisa blindnesseffect" (E. the beautiful is subordinated to the good. not typically emphasized by normative read ingsof Kant. of an already being dead in life. the beautiful forms the second and gets closer. I'intdrmediare d'une image]." which Lacan refers to as "Antigone's (E. and to reveal itto us only in a blinding flash [dblouissement]" (E. but italso points in the direction of the field of destruction. However. itbears the mark of an excess affecting the Kantian precession of the beautiful over the sub lime. blinding from theperspective of a first spacewhich can onlybe illuminated death. the is there second latternegates it. At the same time. For Lacan "the function of the beautiful [is] to reveal to us the site of man's relationship to his own death. However. Nevertheless. Lacan breaches this dependency of the beautiful on the good. 248). type of sublimation which us order of from the the imaginary [de la sdrie de "purifies but through the intervention of an image [par I'imaginaire].217) Lacan's of the good. splendor [I'4clat d'Antigone]" Antigone's Beauty. By means of this double barrier. Because in Lacan the beautiful exceeds the economy of pleasure and points beyond representation.

Being and desire vanish. in taking it In this sense. Fundamentally. elaborated at the same time as his [the] fact that it is a work. or the economy of being. an intimate kernel that can be appro or the establishment of an irre priated only by a radical departure Work schema is not simply Antigone's (the Moreover. the "uncanniest of the uncanny" (Heidegger). Heidegger's heroine or the play). "between "the pure and simple desire of death as such" (E. into one's own of one's most proper [eigen] coincides the coming with itsdisappearance. is justwhat is un The event [Ereignis] of its usual [das Ungewohnliche]. his schema concerns the "ori as set forth in "The Origin of the gin" [Sprung] of the work of art of Art. Inhis most is the uncanny in the supreme manner. stands on itsown and the more cleanly itseems to cut all ties to human beings. Inboth cases. projects before and around itself . after Antigone either enters the limitof the "between comes two deaths" (Lacan) or be This schema bears some structural similarities to Heidegger's course on Holderlin.72 GABRIEL RIERA Antigone embodies 282). the thinking of Lacan's extimacy and [extimitd] Heidegger's uncanny converge."21 To become homely within Being and to become the embodiment of pure desire. two deaths" thatAntigone's beauty "tire son dclat. In this schema. the economy of the signifier. thatthe [Ereignis] . he writes: "Antigone reading of Antigone. these two propositions follow the schema of the coming into itsown or proper leigen]. In this appropriation. upon herself to become homely within being." a text Heidegger course on Holderlin: In a work. not does created simply reverberate through the being casts before itselfthe eventful fact rather the work work. The more solitarily the work. . ducible distance. The truthof Being and desire can only be "seen" after the fact. there is an exteriority at play. fixed in the figure. principle." More of this beauty comes from beyond the pleasure the radiance over. . namely in properly such a way that she takes itupon her in itsfull essence. the more simply the extraordinary thrust that thework is ac work thatthework is as this work.

Einhelligkeit unity than the unity of truth. In all Critique of judgement the term Einhelligkeit names the But of it says truth. radiant. it is the one. Without than to the Critique more a doubt. . a summoning of the Open. as Eliane Escoubas does. what no one can fail to because it resides in shining. together of beauty and truth. it so not unlike does Ereignis-Aldtheia. Lacan and Heidegger converge through a certain reading of Kant's aesthetics. that the trace insists upon desire but at the same time it withdraws own truth. in de/on . it is and the sublime are "modes of Being" of this truth as "Modes of Being" of the "always coming-into-presence. That is. . cases.What does the hell of What situation gives place to the Einhelligkeit point to? of unanimity Einhelligkeit? It is the radiance or splendor of hell.. . . true" .ABYSSAL GROUNDS 73 cedes until then seemed familiar. their reading retrieves a more originary determination of the beautiful as the sublime. Both Heidegger and Lacan renderwhat can be called a sublime read ingof the beautiful. excessive and also uncanny ungeheuere) arrives here. Iftruth resides inEinhelligkeit.22 I said above to the open and the more essentially the un-famil radiates and so shines that which iarity [das Ungeheuere] be another way of saying that the Lacanian a Thing presents topology not unlike that of Ereignis-Al6theia. Another way of ap proaching this reading of Kant is to say. Einhelligkeit is the "advent" [herstellen] in the radiance. that the results of the analytic of the beautiful and the sublime lead Kant to elaborate a notion of truthcloser to Aldtheia of Pure Reason. from this original notion of truthan in dex can be found in a term that recurs throughout The . This would that the Thing is the truthof desire. But this veiling. . The beautiful indicates some thing about a relation according to the logic of unveiling and veil ing. withdraws itself in its In this coming of the Thing from desire. as in the case of Ereignis. in this sense.23 .The beautiful see: the Evidence. And if the beautiful (albeit a beautiful surpassed by the sublime and.

It is precisely this event. 1994). VI (New Haven. hereafter cited as H. 1991). 75-112. for Heidegger. et. or rather. 1 Elisabeth Roudinesco. isboth reflected and refracted . Heidegger. the excessive. my emphasis). 7. ?crits (Paris: ?ditions du Seuil. . William in Psychiatry and the Being-Question" J. MA: Harvard University Press. Autonomova. Jacques Lacan.)4 truth" is also the truthof Heidegger's artwork. al. this "sublime the artwork is. The Es of Es gibt subtracts itself from itsgiving." de rien" in N. 1993).74 GABRIEL RIERA The truthof Kant's Critique ofludgment is. 2 (Paris: ?ditions du Seuil. Robinson (San Francisco: Harper and Row. "Manque (Paris: Albin Michel. Casey and Melvin Woody. 1962).Richardson. 1966). The truth of das Ding. a "sublime truth. La Bataille de cent ans: Histoire de la psychanalyse en France. For this reason. Hereafter cited as BT. especially the section "Vibrant hommage ? Martin 291-306. 1986). unbounded. VI (New Haven. the form of this event. given that the Un-geheuere (the uncanny. Hereafter cited as P.." In its letting come into the Open.. which may justify the relation between Lacan and Heidegger. the truth of desire. 2 3 Desire" 4 5 6 7 8 9 Inventions of Difference: On Jacques Derrida Rodolphe Gasch?. Being and Time. JohnMacquarrie and E. Lacan avec les Jean-Luc Nancy. Heidegger. of "Hegel. philosphes inD. see JL. Vol. 281). Vol. coincides with themoment of transgression or of realization of Antigone's Atd"(E. the The truth of das Ding is also un-geheuere. On this last point. Edward S. 201-2. 1976). hereafter cited as JL. Vol. Lacan: the Dialectic in Psychiatry and the Humanities. 248. 105. but only by withdrawing itself. 204-5. Esquisse d'une vie. in Lacan's analysis of the effects of the beautiful inAntigone. in its sublime glittering of desire I would like to thank Juliet F. trans. the glow of beauty. (Cambridge." (E. quoted Martin Heidegger. "L?gos" in Early Greek Thinking: The Dawn of Western Phi . the beau tiful is always overflowed by the sublime: "the violent illumination. CT: Yale Univer sity Press. to follow Philippe Lacoue Labarthe. "Psychoanalysis and the Humanities. histoire d'une syst?me de pens?e (Paris: Fayard. It isat this limit "that the beam gives [Esgibt] something to be seen. and Jacques Lacan.MacCannell for her generous comments on an earlier version of this paper. CT: Yale University Press. Martin Heidegger. 1976). Hereafter cited as D. 139 59.

who subtracts ethics from th?oria and transforms it into the condition of possibility of religion. trans. en effet. 23 Hereafter cited as OWA. The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida thinking. 32. Essai sur du Mal (Paris: Hatier. trans. . 1971). . Le S?minaire signifiant c'est Livre XX. {^Einhelligkeit. Heideggerian and L?vinas 13 14 Martin On Being and the TaskofThinking"in Heidegger. Lacan. Book VII. structure" has todo with a "formal and goes beyond thefact 11 This translatability issue ofHeidegger's"L?gos" forthefirst of the Lacan translated thefirst that part 12 journal La Psychanalyse. 1996). "Cette notion plus originaire de la v?rit?. it is important to note that an "overcoming [Verwindung] of Greek mean? and especiallyprinciple of all principles "What does ground and principle as well as the elaboration of an ethics as "first experience." Prose Studies 11:3 (December 1988). 95. Hereafter cited as L. in On the Martin Heidegger. 254. 15 Can manner 16 17 this ever be sufficiently determined unless we experience al?theia in a Greek as unconcealment and then. Joan Stambaugh Martin Heidegger. 23. McNeill Indiana 17. 1975). Capuzzi (San Francisco: Harper iosophy. See also Juliet "Love Outside the MacCannell. Hereafter cited as TB. 1993). trans. "The Nature of Language" [Das Wesen der Sprache] to trans. Vers quoi. 1972). 1972). Encore (Paris: ?ditions du Seuil. est la cause materielle le ce qui fait halte ? la jouissance." thus attenuating the active sense of the German Wesen. Jacques la conscience 18 19 20 Lacan forged the neologism "extimit?" (extimacy) based on "intimit?. See. see his "Extimit?. Francisco: Here Peter Hertz and (San 1982). Martin Heidegger. Comment sans le signifiant. "Le signifiant. (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. c'est le 'faire venir' (herstellen) en la clart?. and Row. 65." inPoetry. Limits of the Law. W. 1997). c'est VEinhel'igkeit? donne lieu? l'unanimit? de YE/hhelligkeit? C'est Quelle situation . 1975). c'est la cause de la jouissance . Language. Press. (San Francisco: Harper and Row. In this context. Joan Stambaugh Hereafter cited as EP. Univeristy (Bloomington: and JuliaDavis 21 22 Martin Heidegger. Alain Badiou. ." has been the task of Emmanuel L?vinas. d'abord vrai. Row. Hereafter cited as E.. On Being and Time." Jacques Lacan. Albert Hofstadter (San Francisco: Harper and Row. l'unit? du Einhelligkeit dit. think itas the EP.ABYSSAL GROUNDS 75 10 trans. Harper Way Language. Mais ildit bien plus que l'unit? du vrai. sans doute peut-on en trouver l'indice dans un terme qui revient sans cesse dans toute laCritique de la facult? de juger. Dennis Porter (New York: Norton. . de la jouissance. "The Origin of the Work of Art. Holderlin's Hymn "The /sfer/'trans. translation modified." inNew Formations No. "Time and Being" in (San Francisco: Harper and Row. Peter Hertz translates this locution as "it persists in itspres ence. 70. 71. 121-31. Thought. Summer 1994." philosophy. centrer ce quelque chose qui. 27. 1993). For a detailed discussion in Heidegger and post of the concept of closure see Simon Critchley.. The Ethics of Psycho analysis. fait signe le hell de la clart? du hell. 10 & 16. trans. . opening of self-concealing?" Translation modified. David Farrell Krell and Frank A. le terme Einhelligkeit. NL. dans tous les cas."TheEndofPhilosophy and Time. L'?thique. after cited as NL. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. above and beyond the Greek." Jacques Alain Miller has given a more formal treatment to the topological aporias at play in that term.

Topologie de l'art (Paris: Galil?e." and "Beauty is one way inwhich l'un-clair. al. .. . Si la v?rit? r?side dans .. 67-8. 56). the remarks truth occurs as unconcealedness" {OWA. in jean-Fran?ois Courtine.. 1988). "La v?rit? sublime" Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe. et. . 'toujours-vrai' Imago Mundi.Cf. ce que nul ne peut manquer de voir: Y?vidence.76 GABRIEL RIERA 24 sont les 'mani?res d'?tre'de cette v?rit? comme venue-au-jour. convocation de l'Ouvert. Le beau et le r?side dans le lumineux. c'est qu'elle Du sublime (Paris: ofHeidegger in OWA: "Thus in Belin. 1986)." Eliane Escoubas. 'Mani?res . le d?lon i'Einhelligkeit. sublime d'?tre' du the artwork it is truth that is at work.

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