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Freud and the Scene of Writing Author(s): Jacques Derrida and Jeffrey Mehlman Source: Yale French Studies,

No. 48, French Freud: Structural Studies in Psychoanalysis (1972), pp. 74-117 Published by: Yale University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 08/01/2014 04:46
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Yale French Studies

future translators of theProjectmight do well to translate Bahnung as fraying: the word wears remarkably well. d) Differance is a neologism-byvirtue of thea-combining the temporal to defer)and spatial (differer, to differ) modes of difference in a (differer, movement which is neitheractive nor passive. It is this differential play, as its effect, (re)producing the present secondarily whichis the (utopian)focus of Derrida's undertaking. We have retainedthe French neologismin our translation. e) Supplement. The untranslatable verb suppleermeans at once to complete (or supplement) and to replace (an absence). In Rousseau's writing, in which Derrida has delineatedmost extensively the logic of the supplement, thereis something inherently awryin the author'suse of the word supple'er whicha com(De la grammatologie, Paris, 1967). For the kind of plenitude pletingsupplement with the secondarystatus mightbring is incompatible To rephrase the paradox in Rousseau's terms: impliedby any "replacement." to a primal"transparency." it is as though the "obstacle"werealreadyintrinsic Were we, like the dream-work, to forge our own idiomatictranslation

sion, would degenerate into a blind complacency (a reasonable translation for Rousseau's amour propre); the "displacement" in the heart of every would pass unperceived. Derrida's(Rousseau's? Freud's?) intellectual plenitude to dislocatea metatask would then be to revivethe scandal of differance, physical,"phonological"complacency. Derrida assimilates the supplement, see the entry fromthe Vocabulairede la
Psychanalyse below. preface and postface in L'Ecriture et la difference. For the notion of Nachtriglichkeit (apres coup, deferred action), to which

of suppleer, it might be the condensation of completed and replace: to complace. This activity of complacing (or movement of difference),upon repres-

a lecture This essay,originally at Dr. AndreGreen'sseminar, appearswith -J. M.

Worin die Bahnung sonst besteht,bleibt dahingestellt. In what the frayingdoes consist remains an open question. (Project for a ScientificPsychology,1895)

Our aim is limited: to locatein Freud'stextseveralpointsof reference and to isolate,on the threshold of a systematic what in examination, psychoanalysis can be containedbut withdifficulty by the logocentric enclosure,as it limits not only the historyof philosophybut the of the "human sciences,"notablyof a certainlinguistics. orientation If the Freudian breakthrough is historically new, it is not by virtue 74

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Jacques Derrida withthatlinguisof its peacefulcoexistence or theoretical complicity tics, at least in its congenital 1 phonologism. Now it is not accidentalthat Freud, in the decisivemomentsof his itinerary, has recourseto metaphorical modelswhichare borrowed not fromspoken language or verbal forms, nor even fromphonetic writing, but from a script which is never subject, extrinsic,and posterior to the spokenword.Freud invokessignswhichdo not tranIn fact, scribe living,whole speech,masterof itselfand self-present. and thiswill be our problem, Freud does not simplyuse themetaphor to manipulate of non-phonetic writing;he does not deem it expedient scriptural metaphors for didacticends. If such metaphorsare indisin return the meaning pensable,it is perhapsbecause theyilluminate withit, themeanin articulation of a tracein generaland eventually, no ing of writing as commonly conceived.Freud, doubt,is not using means to allude withthe knownto if to use a metaphor metaphors, of his metaphoric the unknown.Throughthe insistence investment, he rendersenigmatic, what we believe we know by on the contrary, A move unknownto classical philosophyis the name of writing. perhaps undertaken here, somewherebetween the implicitand the explicit.From Plato and Aristotle on, scriptural imageshave regularly between therelationship reason and experience, been used to illustrate and memory. has never stopped But a certainconfidence perception being reassuredby the meaningof the familiarterm: writing. The gesturesketchedby Freud interrupts that assuranceand opens up a new kind of questionabout metaphor, writing, and spacingin general. Let us follow in our readingthis metaphoric investment. It will eventually invade the entirety of thepsyche.Psychicalcontent will be represented by a textwhose essenceis irreducibly graphic.The structure of the psychicalapparatuswill be represented by a writing machine. What questionswill these representations impose on us? We shall have to ask not if a writing apparatus-for example, the one described in the "Note Upon the Mystic WritingPad"-is a good metaphor forrepresenting theworking of thepsyche; but rather what
1 For a discussion of Saussure's"phonologism" and the role it plays in (his) linguistics, see De la grammatologie, p. 46.-Ed.


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Yale French Studies apparatuswe mustcreatein orderto represent psychicalwriting, and whattheimitation, projectedand liberated in a machine, of something like psychicalwriting mightmean. Not if the psycheis indeed a kind of text,but: what is a text,and whatmustthepsychebe if it can be represented by a text?For if thereis neither machinenor textwithout psychicalorigin,thereis no psychewithout text.Finally,what must the relations among psyche, writing,and spacing be for such a metaphoric transition to be possible,not only (nor primarily) within theoreticaldiscourse but within the historyof pysche, text, and technics?

Frayingand Difference From the Project (1895) to the "Note Upon the MysticWriting-Pad" (1925), a strange of fraying progression:a problematic is elaborated only to conform to a metaphorics increasingly of the written trace. From a system of tracesfunctioning to a model thatFreud according would have preferred natural and from which writingis entirely of traces which can no absent, we proceed towarda configuration and processof writing. longerbe represented exceptby the structure At the same time, the structural which Freud model of writing, invokes immediately afterthe Project, will be persistently differentiated and refined in originality. All the mechanicalmodels will be tested and abandoned until the discoveryof the Wunderblock, a machine of marvelouscomplexity, into which the whole of writing the psychical apparatus will be projected.The solution to all the previousdifficulties will be presented in it, and the "Note," indicative of an admirabletenacity, will answerpreciselythe questionsof the in each of its parts,will realize the apProject. The Wunderblock, paratus which Freud, in the Project,judged "at presentunimaginable" ("We are at presentunable to imagine an apparatus which would accomplish so complicated an operation") and which he replaced(suppl&e)at thattimeby a neurological fable whose scheme and intention, in certainrespects, he will never abandon. 76

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Jacques Derrida In 1895, it was a matterof explaining in the mannerof memory the naturalsciences,"proposing psychology as a naturalscience,that is, representing psychicalevents as states quantitatively determined by distinct materialparticles."Now, "one of the principalproperties of nervoustissueis memory, that is, most generally, the capacityto be alteredin a lastingway by eventswhich occur only once." And 4'any psychological theory worthyof attentionmust propose an explanationof 'memory'."The crux of such an explanation,what makes such an apparatusunimaginable, is the necessity of accounting as the "Note" will do thirty simultaneously, years later, for the of the trace and the virginity of the receiving permanence substance, of the tracksand the perennially for the engraving intactbarenessof the perceptive surface: in thiscase, of the neurones."Thus the neurones would appear to be both influencedand also unaltered, 'unprepossessed' which (unvoreingenommen)." Rejectinga distinction was commonin his day between"sense cells" and "memorycells," Freud thenforgesthe hypothesis of "contact-barriers" and "fraying" (Bahnung), of the breakingof a path (Bahn). Whatever may be and breaks in what will follow, this thoughtof the continuities is remarkable hypothesis as soon as it is considered as a metaphorical model and not as a neurologicaldescription. Fraying,the tracingof a trail, opens up a conducting path. Which presupposesa certain violenceand a certainresistance to the effraction. The pathis broken, cracked,fracta, Now therewould be two kinds of neurones: frayed. the permeableneurones(p), offering no resistanceand thus retaining no traceof impression, would be perceptual neurones; otherneurones (b) would oppose contact-barriers to the quantityof excitationand would thus retainthe printedtrace: they"thus offer a possibility of representing (darzustellen) memory." Firstrepresentation, first staging of memory.(Darstellungis representation in the weak sense of the word but also frequently in the sense of visual depiction, and sometimes of theatrical performance. Our translation will vary with the inflexion of the context.)Freud attributes psychicalquality only to these latterneurones.They are the "bearers of memoryand thus probably of psychical events in general." Memory is thus not a 77

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Yale French Studies psychical property amongothers; it is theveryessenceof thepsyche: resistanceand preciselythereby an openingto the effraction of the trace. Now assumingthatFreud hereintendsto speak onlythe language of full and presentquantity, assuming, as at least appears to be the he case, that intendsto situate his work in the simple opposition betweenquantityand quality(the latterbeing reservedfor the pure transparency of a perceptionwithoutmemory),we find that the conceptof fraying reveals itselfintolerant of this intent. An equality in resistances to the fraying or an equivalence in the forcesfraying would eliminate any preference in choice of itinerary. Memorywould be paralysed.It is the difference betweenfrayings which is the real originof memory and thus of the psyche.Only thatdifference frees a "preference of path" (Wegbevorzugung): "Memory is represented by the differences in the frayings betweenthe 4-neuro(dargestellt) nes." We must thennot say thatfraying withoutdifference is insufformemory;it mustbe stipulated thatthere is no pure fraying ficient that withoutdifference. A trace as memoryis not a pure fraying it is the impalpaat any timeas a simplepresence, mightbe retrieved ble and invisibledifference betweenfrayings. We thus know already thatpsychical lifeis neither the transparency of meaning nor theopacin the exertion of forces.As Nietzsche ity of forcebut the difference had alreadysaid. That quantitybecomes psyche and mneme throughdifferences ratherthan through in the confirmed plenitudeswill be continuously of presentforce,no intenProject itself.Repetitionadds no quantity sity; it reproducesthe same impression: yet it has the power of at work, of an fraying. "Memory, the force (Macht), perennially of the impression experience, dependson a factorcalled the quantity and on the frequency withwhich that same impression is repeated." is thus added to the quantity(Qu) of the The numberof repetitions exciattion,and these two quantitiesare of two absolutelyheterocan existeonly as discreteand can act as geneous types.Repetitions such only throughthe diastem which maintains their separation. can supplement a quantity at workor be Finally,if fraying presently 78

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Jacques Derrida added to it, it is because it is definitely analogous to quantitybut different as well: a quantity "can be replacedby a quantity in addition to the fraying whichresultsfromit." Let us not hastento definethis otherof pure quantity as quality: we would be transforming mnemic energy intopresent consciousness and translucid perception of present qualities.Thus, neither the difference betweenfullquantities, nor the intervalbetweenrepetitions of the identical,nor fraying itselfmay be thoughtof in terms of the opposition between quantityand 2 Memory cannot be derivedfromit and escapes the grasp quality. of "naturalism" as well as "phenomenology." in the productionof the trace may be All these differences In accordance with a motif reinterpreted as momentsof deferment. that will continueto dominateFreud's thinking, this movement is described as theeffort itself a dangerous of lifeto protect by deferring a reserve(Vorrat). The threatening cathexis,that is, by constituting expenseor presenceare deferred withthehelp of fraying or repetition. Is thisnot alreadythe circuitous the relapath (Aufschub)instituting tion of pleasureto reality G. W., xiii,p. 6)? Is it not already (Jenseits, death at the originof a life which can defenditselfagainst death an economyof death,diffrrance, reserve?For onlythrough repetition, does not happen to an initialimpression;its possibility repetition is in the resistance offered the first timeby the psychical alreadythere, neurones.Resistanceitselfis possible only if the oppositionof forces lasts and is repeatedat the beginning. It is the veryidea of a first time which becomes enigmatic.What we are advancinghere does not seem to contradict whatFreud will say further on: ". . . fraying is probably the result of the single (einmaliger)passage of a large Even assumingthatthis affirmation quantity." does not lead us little and hereditary by littleto the problemof phylogenesis we fraying,
2 Here more than elsewhere,concerningthe concepts of difference, a systematic and quality, quantity, confrontation between Nietzscheand Freud is called for. Cf. for example,among many others,this fragment fromthe is limited to theestablishment Nachlass: "Our 'knowing' of 'quantities';but we cannothelp feeling thesedifferences-of-quantity as qualities.Qualityis a truth of perspective for us; not 'in itself'... If our senseswere to becometen times sharperor duller,we would be submerged:thatis, we too feel relations-ofas qualitiesin relating themto the existence quantity theymake possible for us" (Werke, III, p. 861).


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Yale French Studies may still maintainthat in the firsttime of the contactbetweentwo has begun. Life is alreadythreatened forces,repetition by the origin of the memory whichconstitutes it and by thefraying whichit resists, which it can contain only by repeatingit. It is by the effraction fractures because fraying thatFreud,in theProject,accordsa privilege without to pain. In a certainsense,thereis no fraying of a beginning But beyond pain and "pain leaves behindit particularly richfrayings." a certainquantity, pain, the threatening originof the psyche,must like death, for it can "ruin" psychical"organization." be deferred, Despite the enigma of the "firsttime" and of originary repetition (needless to say, before any distinctionbetween "normal" and it is important all this "pathological"repetition), thatFreud attributes work to the primary function and excludes any derivation of it. Let us observethisnon-derivation, more dense the even if it but renders difficulty of the concept of "primariness"and the timelessness of the primary process,and even if thatdifficulty neverstops thickening in what follows. oftheprimary connection effort In this we arereminded (almost involuntarily) to avoidbeing of neuronic retained all their systems, through modifications, it so faras possible. the Under burdened withquantity (Qu) or to diminish to lay of theexigencies of life, theneuronic has beenobliged pressure system of quantity it hashadto increase thenumber up a store (Qu).For this purpose to and these havehad to be impermeable. Butit nowavoids, of itsneurones thatis, someextent with at least, being filled quantity (Qj)-avoids cathexis, thatfrayings servethe It will be seen,therefore, -by setting up frayings. primary functions. No doubt life protectsitselfby repetition, trace, differance. But we mustbe waryof thisformulation: thereis no lifepresentat first which would then come to protect, postpone,reserveitselfin diffrrance. The latterconstitutes the essence of life.Or rather: differcance not being an essence,it is not life,if being is determined as ousia, presence, essence/existence, substance or subject. Life must be of as tracebeforebeingmay be determined thought as presence.This is the only conditionon which we can say that life is death, that 80

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Jacques Derrida are nativeand congenital and beyondthe pleasureprinciple repetition When Freud writesin the Project that to thatwhichtheytransgress. he already forbidsus to be function," serve the primary "frayings He complieswitha dual by Beyond the PleasurePrinciple. surprised in the originand at the same time diffrrance necessity: recognizing we will be no more surprised out the conceptof primariness: crossing which definesthat concept as a "theoretical by the Traumdeutung, of the secon(Verspdtung) in a paragraphon the "deferment" fiction" I whichis in the beginning. daryprocess.It is thusthe postponement would be the delay whicha consciousness Withoutwhich,differance of the present.Differer can thus not accords itself,a self-presence to postponean act, to put offa possibility, mean to retarda present perceptionalready now possible. That possibilityis possible only whichmustbe conceivedof in othertermsthan a differance through is origas a calculus or mechanicsof choice. To say that differance to erase the mythof a presentorigin.Which inaryis simultaneously which as crossedout, without mustbe understood is why"originary" a would be derivedfroman originalplenitude.It is nondifferance originwhichis originary. Rather than abandon it, we ought perhaps then to rethinkthe This is whatwe shouldlike to do, and it is posconceptof "differer." outside of any teleologicalor is determined sible only if differance horizon.It isn't easy. Let us note in passing: the coneschatological conceptswhichgovernthe and Verspdtung, cepts of Nachtriglichkeit whole of Freud's thought all the otherconcepts,are and determine alreadypresentand called by theirname in the Project.The irreducsuch is no doubtFreud's discovery. of deferment," ibility of the"effect in its ultimate consequencesand beyond Freud exploitsthatdiscovery he thought, The history of culture, thepsychoanalysis of theindividual.
3 These conceptsof originary and delay are unthinkable differance within or even within the authority of the logic of identity the conceptof time.The veryabsurdity betrayed by the terms providesthe possibility-iforganizedin a certain manner-of thinking beyondthatlogic and thatconcept. By theword delay,something other thana relation between two"presents" mustbe thought; the following model must be avoided: what was to happen (should have A occursonly in a present happened)in a (prior)present B. The conceptsof originary "difference" and "delay" revealedtheirurgency to us in a reading of Husserl(Introduction ai l'Originede la geometrie, 1962,p. 170-171).


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Yale French Studies oughtto confirm it. In Moses and Monotheism (1937), the efficacy of is at work over large historicalintervals(G. W., xvi, deferment p. 238-9). The problemof latency, moreover, is in highlysignificant in thattext, withthatof oral and written contact, tradition (p. 170 sq.). Althoughat no momentin the Project is fraying named writing, the contradictory requirements which the Mystic Writing-Pad wil are already formulated in termswhich are literally fulfill identical: "to retainwhileat the same timeremaining capable of receiving." in the work of fraying Differences concernnot only forcesbut locations.And Freud alreadywantsto think forceand place simultaneously.He is thefirst one not to believein thedescriptive value of his of fraying. The distinction between the hypothetical representation categoriesof neurones"has no recognizedfoundation, at least in so far as morphology (i. e., histology) is concerned."It is the index of a topographical description whichfamiliar, constituted, external space, the exterior cannotcontain.This is why,under of thenaturalsciences, in essence" the rubricof "the biological standpoint," a "difference betweenthe neuronesis "replaced by a dif(Wesensverschiedenheit) ference in the milieuto which theyare destined"(Schicksals-Milieuof connecdifferences of situation, verschiedenheit): pure differences, more important than their relations tion,of localization,of structural of outside and inside supporting terms,and for which the relativity always prevails.The thinking of difference can neither dispensewith models of spacing. topography nor accept the current to explain This difficulty becomesmore acute whenit is necessary those pure differences of quality,that is, par excellence: differences for Freud, of consciousness. He must explain "what we know enigthanksto our 'consciousness'."And "since this matically(rdtselhaft), consciousness knowsnothing of whatwe have takenintoconsideration shoud explain to us thatignoranceitself." up untilnow [the theory] Now qualities are clearlypure differences: a great of sensations Consciousness givesus whatwe call qualities, variety differentiated are other and whose becomes which otherness (anders) (Anders) to theexternal In thisotherness there in relation world. (unterschieden wird) 82

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Jacques Derrida
about them. are series,similarities and so on, but thereis nothing quantitative We may ask how thesequalitiesoriginate and wheretheyoriginate.

Neitheroutsidenor inside. They cannotbe in the externalworld, "masses in motionand wherethe physicist recognizes onlyquantities, else." Nor in the interiority of the psyche(i. e., of memory), nothing and recollection"are "devoid of quality (qualifor "reproduction tatslos)." Since rejectingthe topographicalmodel is out of the question,"we mustsummonup enoughcourageto assume thatthere is a thirdsystemof neurones-'perceptualneurones'theymightbe but called-which are excitedalong withthe othersduring perception not duringreproduction, and whose states of excitation give rise to the different qualities-are, that is to say, conscious sensations." sheet of the Mystic WritingPad, Foreshadowingthe interpolated Freud, annoyedby his "jargon,"tells Fliess (Letter39; 1/1/96) that he is inserting, "slipping" (schieben) the perceptual neurones (o) betweenthe p- and #-neurones. This last bit of daringresultsin "what seems like an unheardof we have just encountered difficulty": a permeability and a fraying whichproceed fromno quantity at all. From what then? From pure time, from pure temporalization in its conjunctionwith spacing: fromperiodicity. Only recourseto temporality and to a discontinuous or periodic temporality, will allow the difficulty to be resolved,and we must patiently considerits implications. "I can see only one way of escape. ... HithertoI have regardedthe passage of quantity only as a transference (Qu) fromone neurone to another.It must have anotherattribute, however,of a temporalcharacter." If the discontinuity hypothesis "goes further," Freud emphasizes, thanthe "physicalclarification" its insistence through on periods,it is because in this case differences, intervals, and discontinuity are registered,"appropriated"withouttheirquantitative support.Perceptual neurones,"incapable of receivingquantities,appropriatethe period of an excitation."Pure difference, again, and difference between diastems.The conceptof a period in generalprecedesand conditions the oppositionbetweenquantityand quality and all which that op83

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Yale French Studies position governs.For "b-neuronestoo have theirperiod, but it is devoid of quality,or, to put it more accurately, monotonous." As we shall see, this insistence on discontinuity will faithfully return in the "Note Upon the MysticWriting-Pad":as in the Project,it will be a last bold move resolvinga finallogical difficulty. The restof the Projectwill depend in its entirety on an incessant and increasingly radical invocation of the principle of difference. Beneath the neurological indications, whichplay the representational role of an artificial the persistent model, we findrepeatedly attempt in for the terms of a to account of traces, psyche spacing, topography a map of frayings;an attempt to locate consciousness or qualityin a space whose structure and possibilitymust be rethought; and to describe the "functioning of the apparatus" in terms of pure differencesand locations, to explain how "quantityof excitationis expressed in b by complexityand quality by topography."It is and this topography because the natureof this system of differences is radicallynew and must not allow any of itselfto be leftout that "acts of boldness," Freud, in his model of the apparatus,multiplies "strangebut indispensablehypotheses" (concerning "secreting"neurones or "key" neurones).And when he renouncesneurologyand anatomical localizations,it will be not in order to abandon but to will then enter his topographical transform preoccupations. Writing a on the scene. Trace will become gram; and the regionof fraying cipheredspacing. The Printand the OriginalSupplement A few weeks afterthe Project is sent to Fliess, duringa "nightof work," all the elementsof the systemarrange themselvesinto a "machine." It is not yet a writing machine: "Everything fell into place, the cogs meshed, the thing reallyseemedto be a machinewhich I In a moment: in thirty in a moment would run of itself." years.By itself: almost.
4 Letter 32 (10-20-95). The machine:"The threesystems of neurones, the'free' and 'bound' states of quantity, theprimary and secondary processes,


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Jacques Derrida A littlemore thana year later,the trace startsbecomingwriting. In Letter52 (6/12/96), theentiresystem of theProjectis reconstituted in termsof a graphicconceptionas yet unknown in Freud. It is not surprising thatthiscoincideswiththe transition fromthe neurological to thepsychical. At theheartof theletter:thewords"sign"(Zeichen), inscription transcription Not only is the (Niederschrift), (Umschrift). connectionbetweentrace and deferment (i. e., a presentwhich does not constitute, but is originally reconstituted frommemory"signs") explicitly but verbal phenomenaare assigneda place within defined, of stratified a system whichtheyare farfromdominating: writing
As you know I am workingon the assumptionthat our psychicalmechanism has come about by a processof stratification (Aufeinanderschichtung); thematerial present in the shape of memory traces(Erinnerungsspuren) is from time to time subjectedto a rearrangement in accordancewith (Umordnung) new relations to a transcription (Umschrift). Thus, what is essentially new in my theoryis the thesisthat memory is presentnot once but several times over,thatit is registered (niederlegt) in various species of 'signs'. . . I cannot say how many of these inscriptions (Niederschriften) theremay be: at least threeand probablymore. . The different transcripts are separated(though not necessarily in topography) in respectto the neuroneswhich are their vehicles... Perception. These are neuronesin whichperception appears and to whichconsciousness is attachedbut whichin themselves retainno traceof

of perception: the first of the perceptions; inscription it is quite incapableof being consciousand is arrangedaccording to associationsof simultaneity... Unconsciousis a second inscription . . . Preconsciousis the thirdinscription, linkedto verbal images corresponding to our officialego ... This secondary thought consciousness is secondary in time and probablyconnected with the activation hallucinatory of verbal images.

what happens. For consciousness and memory are mutually exclusive. Sign

This is a first move toward the "Note." From now on, starting withthe Traumdeutung (1900), the metaphor of writing will dominate the problemof thepsychicalapparatusin its structure simultaneously and of the psychical text in its fabric. The solidarityof the two
themaintrend and thecompromise trend of thenervous system, thetwobiological rules of attention and defencethe indications of quality,reality, and thestateof thepsycho-sexual thought, thesexualdetermination group, of repression,and finally thefactors determining consciousness as a perceptual functionthe whole thing held together, and stilldoes. I can hardlycontainmyself with If I had onlywaiteda fortnight delight. beforesetting it all downforyou..."


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Yale French Studies problems shouldmake us even moreattentive:thetwo seriesof metaphors-text and machine-do not enteron the scene at the same time. "Dreams generally follow formerfrayings,"said the Project. in dreamsmust thus and formalregression temporal, Topographical, henceforth as a path back into a landscape of writing. be interpreted the stonyecho of muted Not of a writing which simplytranscribes, non-linguistic, words,but of a preverballithography:metaphonetic, the site of or preconsciousness, a-logical. (Logic obeys consciousness, of identity, expresthefounding verbalimages,as well as theprinciple of presence."It was onlya logical contradiction, sion of a philosophy we read in The WolfMan.) With whichdoes not have much import," The Traumdeutung, theinterof script, dreamsdisplacedinto a forest an act of reading pretationof dreams,will no doubt be, initially, and decoding.Before the analysisof the Irma dream,Freud engages he opof method.In one of his familiargestures, in considerations psychology. poses the old popular traditionto so-called scientific As always,it is in orderto justify whichinspires the latentintention the former.Tradition may, of course, err, when, according to a and as an indivisible it treatsdream content "symbolical"procedure, unarticulated whole, for which a second, possibly propheticwhole But Freud is not far fromacceptingthe "other may be substituted. popular method": "It mightbe describedas the 'decoding' method since it treatsdreams as a kind of secretwriting (Chiffriermethode), in which each sign is translatedinto another sign (Geheimschrift) in accordancewitha fixedkey (Schliissel)." havinga knownmeaning, code: (G. W. 11/111, p. 102). Let us retainthe allusionto a permanent nevertheless, it is theweaknessof a methodto whichFreud attributes, of meanthe meritof beinganalyticand of spellingout the elements ing one by one. thisprocedure: A strange exampleis chosenby Freud to illustrate as a discrete, is cathectedand functions a text of phoneticwriting element in the overall and translatable writing unprivileged specific, as writing withinwriting. of the dream. Phonetic writing Assume, of a letter forexample,says Freud,thatI have dreamt (Brieffepistola), a book in which the keys to then of a burial. Open a Traumbuch, 86

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Jacques Derrida dreams are recorded,an encyclopediaof dream signs, the dream must dictionary whichFreud will soon reject.It teachesus thatletter be translated (fibersetzen) by spiteand burialby marriage engagement. with letters(litterae),a document Thus a letter (epistola) written composedof phonetic signs,the transcription of verbaldiscourse, may is a be translated deby a non-verbaltermwhich,inasmuchas it termined affect, belongsto the overall syntaxof dream writing. The verbal is cathected, and its phonetictranscription is bound, far from the center, in a web of silentscript. Freud thenborrowsanother of Daldis examplefromArtemidorus (second century), the author of a treatiseon the interpretation of dreams. Let it be a pretextfor recallingthat in the 18th century an English theologian,unknown to Freud, had already invoked I no doubt, worthyof comparison. with an intention, Artemidorus and discernsin it describesthe systemof hieroglyphics Warburton or wrongly;it is of no concernto us here) various structures (rightly (hieroglyphics strictly speakingor symbolicalones, each type being the relationhere being of analogy eithercuriologicalor tropological, or of part to whole) which ought to be systematically confronted with the mechanismsof dream-work(condensation,displacement, Now Warburton, interested for apologeticalreaoverdetermination). sons in demonstrating, against Father Kircher,"the great antiquity of this Nation," chooses the example of an Egyptianscience all of whose resourceslie in hieroglyphic writing. That science is Traumalso knownas oneirocriticism. When all is said and done, it deutung, in priestly was only a science of writing hands. God, the Egyptians believed,had made man thegiftof writing just as he inspired dreams. like dreams themselves, had then only to draw in the Interpreters, or tropological treasure. curiological They would readilyfindtherethe
5 Warburton, the authorof The Divine Missionof Moses. The fourth part of his workwas translated in 1744 underthe title: Essai sur les Hie'roglyphes oi' l'on voit l'Origineet le Progresdu langage,I'Antiquite des Egyptiens, des Sciencesen Egypte,et l'Originedu culte des Animaux.This work,whichwe had a considerable All thought shall discusselsewhere, influence. of that era about language and signs bore its mark. The editorsof the Encyclopedia, Condillac,and, through him,Rousseau drewspecific fromit, borinspiration rowing in particularthe theme of the originallymetaphoricalnature of language.


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Yale French Studies key to dreams,which theywould thenpretendto divine.The hieroglyphic code itself servedas a Traumbuch. Allegedgift of God, in fact it had become the commonsource on which constructed historically, the dream discourse drew: the settingand the text of its mise en Since dreamsare constructed like a formof writing, the kinds scerne. of transposition in dreamscorrespond to condensations and displaceand registered in thesystem of hieroglyphics. mentsalreadyperformed Dreams would only manipulateelements(stoicheia,says Warburton, elements of hieroglyphics, or letters) containedin the thesaurus somewhat as written speech would draw on a written language: "It is a matterof examiningwhat basis the interpretation given by the Oneirocritic mighthave had, when he told someone who consulted him on one of the following dreams that a dragon meant royalty; that a serpent indicated sickness... ; that frogs signified impostors..." What then did the hermeneuts of that age do? They consulted writing itself:
of dreamswere by no means knavesand impostors. Now the first interpreters It was simplytheirlot-as it was that of the first legal astrologers-tobe thanthe othermen of theirday and to fall preyto illusion more superstitious earlier.But even if we assume that theyhad been as knavishas theirsucto workwith; and those materials cessors,theystill needed propermaterials could neverbe such as to stirin so strange a manner the imagination of each individual. Those who consultedthemmust have soughta familiaranalogy, serveas a basis for decyphering; and theythemselves whichmight musthave to a knownauthority had recourse in orderto sustaintheirscience.But what otheranalogyand what otherauthority could therehave been than the symbolic hieroglyphics, whichhad become a sacred and mysterious thing?Such is the naturalsolutionto the problem.The science of symbols ... servedas a basis for theirinterpretations.

It is here that the Freudian break occurs. No doubt Freud as a new formof writing, conceives of the dream's displacements placing words on stage withoutbecomingsubservient to them; no doubt he is thinking here of a model of writing irreducible to speech and including,like hieroglyphics, pictographic, ideogrammatic and phoneticelements.But he makes of psychicalwriting so originary a production thatwriting such as we believe to be designated in the 88

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Jacques Derrida literalsense of the word-a scriptwhichis coded and visible"in the world"-would be only its metaphor. for example Psychicalwriting, the kindwe findin dreams,which"followsearlierfrayings," a simple momentin a regression toward "primary"writing, cannot be read in termsof any code. No doubt it works with a mass of elements which have been coded in the course of an individualor collective history. But in its operations, a purelyidiomatic lexicon,and syntax, residueis irreducible and is made to bear theburdenof interpretation in the communication betweenunconsciouses.The dreamerinvents his own grammar. No meaningful materialor priortextexistswhich he might simplyuse, even if he neverdepriveshimself of them.Such of the Chiffriermethode is, despite theirinterest, the limitation and the Traumbuch. and the rigidity of the As much as of the generality code, that limitation of an excessivepreoccupation is a function with an insufficient contents, concern for relations,locations, processes, and differences: as the popular "My procedureis not so convenient decoding method which translatesany given piece of a dream's contentby a fixedkey. I am ratherinclinedto thinkthat the same piece of contentmay hide a different meaningwhen it occurs in variouspeople or in variouscontexts"(p. 109). Elsewhere, in support of that statement, Freud thinksit proper to adduce the case of Chinese writing:"The [the dreamsymbols]frequently have multiple meanings: so many, in fact, that, as in Chinese writing, only the contextallows a correct interpretation in each case" (p. 358). The absence of an exhaustive and absolutely infallible code means thatin psychicalwriting, whichthusprefigures the meaning of writing in general, the difference between signifier and signifiedis never radical. Unconscious experience, prior to the dream which follows earlierfrayings, does not borrowbut producesits own signifiers; does not create them in theirmateriality, of course, but produces their status-as-meaningful [signifiance]. And if such be the case, theyare no longer, properly speaking, signifiers. And the possibility of translation,if it is far frombeing eliminated-forbetweenthose points of or adherenceof signifier identity to signified, experience is perpetually distances-is nevertheless stretching in principleand by definition 89

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Yale French Studies fromanotherstandlimited.Such is perhapsFreud's understanding, in an point, in the articleon "Repression": "Repression functions here refers individual entirely way." (G. W., x, p. 252). (Individuality not to that of individualsbut to that of each "derivativeof the which may have its own destiny.")Translation, a system repressed, is possible onlyif a permanent code allows a substituof translation, the same signified, while retaining tion or transformation of signifiers This always present,despite the absence of any specific signifier. would thus be impliedby the fundamental possibility of substitution consequently by the concept of coupled concepts: signified/signifier, the distinction the sign itself.Even if we join Saussure in envisaging between signified only as the two sides of a sheet of and signifier writing, if thereis any, must paper, nothingis changed. Originary of the sheetitself. produce the space and the materiality It will be said: and yetFreud translates all the time.He believes of a specific code for dream writing: in the generality and the fixity
When we have become familiarwith the abundantuse made of symbolism for representing sexual materialin dreams,the question is bound to arise fixed of whether many of these symbolsdo not occur with a permanently in shorthand;and we shall feel tempted like the 'grammalogues' to meaning, on the decodingprinciple draw up a new Traumbuch (II/III, p. 356).

And, in fact, Freud never stopped proposingcodes, rules of great of signifiers seems to be the essential generality. And the substitution in psychoanalytic interpretation. Of course. Freud nevertheactivity on this activity.Or rather,a less stipulatesan essential limitation double limitation. in If we considerfirstverbal expression,as it is circumscribed the materiality of the exthe dream,we observe that its sonority, or at least is not pression,does not disappear beforethe signified as it is in conscious speech. It acts as traversedand transgressed Artaud assigned it on the stage of cruelty. such, with the efficacy of a word cannotbe translated or carriedover Now the materiality relininto a different language.It is preciselythatwhich translation is even the driving forceof translamateriality quishes. To relinquish 90

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Jacques Derrida is reinstated, translation becomes poetry. tion. When thatmateriality constitutes theidiom of the signifier In thissense,sincethemateriality of every dream scene, dreams are untranslatable:"Indeed, dreams are so closelyrelatedto linguistic expressionthatFerenczi has truly It is imremarkedthat every tongue has its own dream-language. a dream into a foreign possible as a rule to translate language,and this is equally true,I fancy,of a book such as the presentone." nationallanguageis the case a fortiori What is the case fora specific for a privategrammar. of translation without loss Moreover,this horizontal impossibility to the way in which has its basis in a vertical impossibility. We refer unconscious thoughtsbecome conscious. If a dream cannot be into anotherlanguage,it is because withinthe psychical translated We apparatusas well thereis nevera relationof simpletranslation. in or transcription are wrong,Freud tells us, to speak of translation of unconsciousthoughtsthroughthe predescribingthe transition Here again the metaphorical conscioustowardconsciousness. concept of translation(Ubersetzung) or transcription (Umschrift)is not but because it presupposesa dangerousbecause it refersto writing, textwhichwould be alreadythere, immobile: the serenepresenceof a statue,of a written stone or archivewhose signified content might be transported harminto the element of a different without language, that of the preconsciousor the conscious. It is thus not enough to talk of writing in order to be faithful to Freud; it is then that we may betrayhim more than ever. This is explainedto us in the last chapterof the Traumdeutung. An entirely and conventionally topographical metaphorof the psychical apparatus is to be completedby invokingthe existenceof force and of two kinds of processes of excitationor modes of its discharge:
So let us tryto correctsome images [intuitive illustrations: Anschauungen] whichmight be misleading so long as we looked upon the two systems in the most immediate and crudestsense as two localitiesin the mentalapparatus, imageswhichhave lefttheirmarkin the expressions 'to repress' and 'to force a way through'. Thus we may speak of an unconsciousthought seekingto conveyitselfaftertranslation (Ubersetzung) into the preconscious so as to be


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Yale French Studies

into consciousness. What we have in mind able thento forceits way through in a new place, like a situated here is not the forming of a second thought to existalongsidethe originaltext; transcription (Umschrift) whichcontinues into consciousness must be kept and the notion of forcinga way through 6 carefully freefromany idea of a changeof locality.

our quotationfora moment.The conscious text Let us interrupt is thusnot a transcription, because thereis no textpresentelsewhere as unconsciousto be transposedor carried over. For the value of presence as well may dangerouslyaffectthe concept of the unto rediscover because conscious.There is then no unconscioustruth it would be written and present elsewhere.There is no textwritten withoutbeing changedin elsewherewhich would then be subjected, the process,to an operationand a temporalization (the latterbelonging to consciousnessif we follow Freud literally)which would be externalto it, floatingon its surface.There is no presenttext in general,and thereis not even a past presenttext,a text which is The textis not thinkable in an originary past as havingbeen present. formof presence.The unconscioustextis alreadywoven or modified in which meaningand force are united; of pure traces,differences of archiveswhich are always ala text nowherepresent,consisting begins with reready transcriptions. Originaryprints. Everything of a meaningwhich was production.Always already: repositories by never present,whose signified presence is always reconstituted for nachtrdglich deferment, nachtrdglich, belatedly, supplementarily: is primal also means supplementary. The appeal of the supplement by deferment as the here and breaks open what will be reconstituted which seems to be added as a plenitude present.The supplement, is as well thatwhichcompensates to a plenitude, fora lack [qui supto supplya necessary pMe]. "Supplier: 1. To add what is missing, the strange logic surplus," says Littre, respecting, like a somnambulist, of that word. It is withinits logic that the possibilityof deferred action [apres coup] should be thought, as well, no doubt, as the between the the secondaryon all levels. relationship primaryand
6 (p. 615) The Ego and the Id (G. W., xiii, ch. 2) also underscores the dangerof a topographical of psychical representation facts.


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Jacques Derrida in the realmof letters: Let us note: Nachtraghas a precisemeaning we The text call presentmay be deappendix, codicil, postcript. or postscript. cipheredonly at the bottomof the page, in a footnote only the call for a footnote. Before that recurrence, the presentis thatit is That the presentin generalis not primalbut reconstituted, not the absolute, wholly living form which constitutes experience, that there is no purityof the living present,such is the themeformidablefor metaphysics-whichFreud, in a conceptual scheme unequal to the thingitself,would have us pursue. That intellectual is no doubt unique in being containedby neither metaphysics effort nor science. Since the transition to consciousnessis not a derivativeor rea transcription petitivewriting, duplicatingan unconsciouswriting, it is it occurs in an originalmannerand, in its very secondariness, forFreud is a surface originary and irreducible. Since consciousness exposed to the externalworld,it is here that instead of readingthe metaphorin its usual sense, we must ratherunderstandthe possibilityof a writing advanced as conscious and acting in the world (the visible exteriorof the graphic,of the literal,of the literalbecoming literary,etc.) in terms of that exertionof writingwhich circulates like psychical energybetween the unconscious and the of writing conscious. The "objectivist"or "worldly" consideration if it is not referred to a space of psychicalwriting teachesus nothing in the event that, along (we mightsay: of transcendental writing with Husserl, we would see the psyche as a region of the world. But sinceit is also the case forFreud, who wantsto respectsimultaand neouslythe Being-in-the-world of the psyche,its Being-in-space, the originality to any ordinary of a topologyirreducible intra-worldliness, we perhaps should thinkthat what we are describinghere as the exertionof writing obliteratesthe transcendental distinction betweenthe originof the world and Being-in-the-world. Obliterates it whileproducing it: themediumof thedialogueand misunderstanding betweenthe Husserlian and Heideggerianconceptsof Being-inthe-world). 93

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Yale French Studies Concerningthis non-transcriptive writing, Freud adds a fundamental specification. It will reveal: (1) the danger involved in immobilizing or freezingenergyin a naive metaphoricsof place; the space or (2) the necessity not of abandoningbut of rethinking topology of that writing; (3) that Freud, who still insists on representing the psychical apparatus in an artificialmodel, has not yet discovereda mechanicalmodel adequate to the graphematic conceptual scheme he is already using to describe the psychicaltext.
When we speak of a preconscious or drivenout and thought beingrepressed thentakenover by the unconscious, theseimages,derived froma metaphorics us to a struggle for a piece of ground, (Vorstellungskreis) relating may tempt to suppose thatit is in fact truethat a grouping (Anordnung) in one locality has been brought to an end and replacedby a freshone in anotherlocality. Let us replace these analogies by something that seems to correspond better to the real stateof affairs, and let us say thatsome particular mentalgrouping has had a cathexisof energy(Energiebesetzung) attachedto it or withdrawn from it, so that the structure in questionhas come under the sway of a fromit. What we are doinghere is once particular agencyor been withdrawn one. again to replacea topographical way of representing things by a dynamic What we regard as mobile (das Bewegliche)is not the psychicalstructure itselfbut its innervation... (Ibid).

of transour quotation.The metaphor Let us once moreinterrupt lation as the transcription text of an original would separate force and extension, the simpleexteriority of the translated and maintaining the translating. That veryexteriority, the static and topologicalbias of the metaphor, would assure the transparency of a neutraltranslaand non-metabolic tion,of a phoronomic process.Freud emphasizes because this: psychicalwritingdoes not lend itself to translation it may be) and it is a singleenergetic system (howeverdifferentiated covers the entirety of the psychicalapparatus.Despite the difference of agencies, psychical writingin general is not a displacementof in the limpidity of an immobile, meanings pre-given space: the blank of speech. Of a speech which might be coded without neutrality ceasing to be diaphanous.Here energycannot be reduced and does not limit meaning but ratherproduces it. The distinction between is in relation to force and meaning derivative an arch-trace;it be94

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Jacques Derrida longs to the metaphysics of consciousness and of presence,or rather of presence in theword,in thehallucination of a languagedetermined on the basis of the word or verbal representation. Metaphysicsof preconsciousness, Freud might say, since the preconsciousis the place he assignsto theverbal.Without that,would Freud have taught us anything new? Force produces meaning(and space) throughthe power of "repetition"alone, whichinhabitsit originarily as its death.This power, that is: this lack of power,which opens and limitsthe exertionof force, institutes translatability, makes possible what we call "language," transforms an absolute idiom into a limit which is always already transgressed:a pure idiom is not language; it becomes so only through repetition;repetition always already divides the point of departure of the first time.In spite of appearances,this does not what we said earlierabout untranslatability. At that time contradict it was a question of recallingthe originof the movement of transgression,the originof repetition, and the becoming-language of the idiom. If one limitsoneselfto the datum or effect to of repetition, translation, to the obviousnessof the distinction betweenforce and meaning,not only does one miss the originality of Freud's aim, but the stingof the relationto death is obliterated in the process. We oughtthus to examineclosely-an impossibility in thisforum -all that Freud invitesus to thinkconcerning writing as "fraying", in the psychical repetition of that previouslyneurologicalnotion: openingup of its own space, effraction, breakingof a path against resistances, rupture or irruption becominga route (rupta,via rupta), in a natureor of a form,tracingof a difference violentinscription a matterwhich are thinkableas such only in their oppositionto The road (route) is opened in nature or matter,forestor writing. wood (hyle') and institutes a reversibility of timeand space. We should have to study together, and structurally, the historyof genetically the road and the history of writing. We are thinking here of Freud's texts on the work of the memory-trace (Erinnerungsspur) which, the no though longer neurological trace, is not yet "conscious memory,"("The Unconscious,"G. W., x, p. 288), of the itinerant 95

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Yale French Studies its route,of the trace work of the trace,producing and not following which traces,of the trace which fraysitselfits path. The metaphor in Freud's descriptions, is always in of the frayedpath, so frequent communication with the themeof the supplementary delay and the aftera slow mole-like of meaningthrough reconstitution deferment, toil of an impress.The latterhas advance, afterthe subterranean lefta laborioustracewhichhas neverbeen perceived, lived as present the meaning,i.e., as consciousness.The postcript which constitutes as Plato, Hegel, and Proust past presentas such is not satisfied, perhaps thought, with reawakeningor revealingit in its truth.It producesit. Is sexual deferment the best examplehere or the essence of this movement?A bad question, no doubt: the (presumably defined known) subject of the question-sexuality-is determined, or undefined Freud's answer, only in return and by the answeritself. in any event,is trenchant. Take the Wolf Man. It is by deferment that the perceptionof the primal scene-whether it be realityor fantasyis unimportant-islived in its meaning,and sexual maturation is not the accidentalformof thisdelay. "At age one and a half, he receivedimpressions the deferred understanding of whichbecame possible for him at the time of the dream through his development, exaltation,and sexual investigations." Already in the Project,concerningrepressionin hysteria: "We invariably find that a memory is repressedwhich has become a trauma only afterthe event (nur nachtrdglich). The reason for this state of thingsis the retardation (Verspdtung)of pubertyas compared with the remainderof the individual'sdevelopment." That should lead, if not to the solution, at least to a new way of posing the formidableproblem of the of the unconscious. and the so-called "timelessness" temporalization and Here more than elsewherethe gap betweenFreudian intuition of the unconsciousis no doubt conceptis apparent.The timelessness determinedonly in opposition to a common concept of time, a traditional concept,the metaphysical concept: the timeof mechanics or the time of consciousness.We ought perhaps to read Freud the way Heidegger read Kant: like the cogito, the unconsciousis no 96

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Jacques Derrida from thestandpoint ofa certain vulgar conception doubt timeless only of time.
Dioptrics and Hieroglyphics

as an energetics Let us not conclude too quickly thatby invoking his efforts of translation, Freudabandoned opposedto a topography and in a giving projective to localize.If, as we shallsee,he persists of energetic promechanical-representation spatial-indeed, purely is a not certain reasons: spatiality, it simply for didactic cesses, its nature the very idea of system, is irreducible; inseparable from consider it as the in thatwe can no longer is all themoreenigmatic processes. milieu of dynamic and economic homogeneous and serene themetaphoric is notyetadaptedto In theTraumdeutung, machine the scriptural analogywhich alreadygoverns-as shall soon be It is an optical clear-Freud's entiredescriptive presentation.

Let us return Freuddoes notwantto abandon to our quotation. modelagainst he has just warned us: which the topographical
to continueto make use I considerit expedient and justifiable Nevertheless, Vorstellung] of [of the metaphor:anschauliche of the intuitive representation of representathetwo systems. We can avoid any possibleabuse of thismethod tion [mode de mise en scene; Darstellungsweise] by recollecting that restructures in general must thoughts and psychical presentations [Vorstellungen], of the nervoussystem as localized in organicelements but neverbe regarded and frayings whereresistances as one might provide them, rather, say, between that can be an object [Gegenstand] correlates. the corresponding Everything is virtual, like the image producedin a telescope of our internal perception in assuming of But we are justified the existence by the passage of light-rays. entities themselves are notin any waypsychical [ourunderthe systems-which and can neverbe accessibleto our psychical the lenses perception-like lining] we may whichcast the image.And,if we pursuethisanalogy, of the telescope, to the refraction betweentwo systems [the breaking comparethe censorship which takes place when a ray of lightpasses of the ray: Strahlenbrechung] into a new medium(p. 615-616).

in terms cannot be understood of the Thisrepresentation already ofa simple, The change structure. in medium homogeneous spatiality

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Yale French Studies thissufficiently. Whereupon indicate of refraction and themovement an inthe same in to machine, proposes reference Freud, a further on "Rein thesection In thesamechapter, teresting differentiation. and betwen he attempts to explainthe relation memory gression," trace: in thememory perception
I shall to us in thesewordsis the idea of psychical locality. What is presented the idea thatthe mentalapparatuswithwhichwe are here entirely disregard concernedis also known to us in the form of an anatomicalpreparation and I shall carefully avoid the temptation preparation], [Prdparat:laboratory fashion.I shall remainupon to determine localityin any anatomical psychical that we psychological ground,and I propose simplyto followthe suggestion as rewhich carriesout our mentalfunctions should picturethe instrument or a photographic apparatus,or something a compoundmicroscope, sembling to a place (Ort) localitywill correspond of the kind.On thatbasis, psychical stagesof an imagecomes insidethe apparatusat whichone of thepreliminary as we know,these occur in part and telescope, into being.In the microscope at ideal points,regionsin whichno tangiblecomponent of the apparatusis of thisor of any to apologizefortheimperfections situated. I see no necessity similarimagery (p. 541).

for provesuseful value,thisillustration Beyondits pedagogical is not itsdistinction system system andpsyche:thepsychical between Next, and in thisdescription is concerned. onlythesystem psychical, it is the operation whichinterests Freud,how it of the apparatus as it is and in whatorder, theregulated timing ofitsmovements runs in thepartsof themechanism: speakand localized "Strictly caught are is no needforthehypothesis that thepsychical systems ing,there if a fixed in a spatialorder. It wouldbe sufficient actually arranged process psychical by thefactthatin a given order wereestablished the excitation temporal in a particular through the systems passes capturelight; in the theseopticalinstruments sequence."Finally, 7 it. Freud alreadywantsto theyregister exampleof photography
7 The metaphorof a photographic negativeoccurs frequently. Cf. "The Dynamicsof Transference" (G. W., xiii, p. 364-65).The notionsof negative meansof theanalogy. and copy are theprincipal In theanalysis of Dora, Freud in terms the transference of editions and reeditions:simplereprints defines or revisedand corrected editions. In "Notes on the Conceptof the Unconscious in Psychoanalysis," 1913 (G. W., x, p. 436), Freud comparesthe relations betweenthe consciousand the unconscious to a photographic process: "The is the negative; everyphotographic first stage of the photograph image must


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Derrida Jacques account forthephotographic or inscription oflight andhere negative is the differentiation whichhe introduces. It will (Differenzierung) reduce the"imperfections" ofhisanalogy andperhaps "excuse"them. theapparently Aboveall itwillthrow intorelief contradictory requirement has haunted and willbe satisfied which FreudsincetheProject the "Mystic onlyby a writing Pad": machine,
a first at the sensory Next, we have groundsfor introducing differentiation end [of the apparatus]. A trace(Spur)is leftin our psychical apparatusof the perceptions whichimpinge as a 'memory-trace' upon it. This we may describe and to the function related to it we give the name of (Erinnerungsspur), 'memory'. If we are in earnestover our plan of attaching psychical processes to systems, memory-traces can only consistin permanent modifications of the elements of the system. But, as has alreadybeen pointedout elsewhere, there are obvious difficulties involvedin supposing that one and the same system can accurately retainmodifications of its elements and yet remainperpetually open to the reception of freshoccasionsfor modification (p. 534).

Two systems willthusbe necessary in a single machine. This double system, combining freshness of surface and depth of retention, could be represented byan optical machine only and"imperfectly." distantly "By analysing dreams we cantakea step forward in ourunderstanding of the composition of thatmostmarvelous and mostmysterious of all instruments. Only a smallstepno doubt; but a beginning..." Thus do we read in thefinalpages of the Traumdeutung (p. 614). Onlya smallstep.The graphic representation of the(non-psychical) system of the psychical is not yet readyat a timewhensuch a representation ofthepsychical already occupies, in theTraumdeutung a largearea. Let us measure itself, thisdelay. We have already defined elsewhere thefundamental property of in a difficult writing, senseof theword, as spacing: diastem and time becoming space; an unfolding as well,in a new kindof site,of
pass the "negative"test,and those whichhave reactedwell to that test are admitted to the "positive"process endingin the picture."Hervey de SaintDenys devotes an entire of his book to thesame analogy. chapter The intentions are the same. They suggest a precaution thatwe will findagain in the "Note Upon the MysticWriting-Pad":"Memory,comparedto a camera,has the marvelous of natural superiority forces: to be able to renewby itself itsmeans of action."


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Studies Yale French present moving from irreversible, linear consecution, meanings which extent) point, could not but tendand (to a certain pointto present phonetic writing. The latter's in so-called failto repress. In particular by the withthe logos (or the timeof logic),dominated complicity thecornerstone of all metaphysics of of non-contradiction, principle spacing or notwholly phonic Nowin thissilent presence, is profound. no longer obeythe arepossible which concatenations outofmeaning, or preconsciousness, time, thetime ofconsciousness linearity oflogical space thenon-phonetic thetime representations". Between of "verbal and the space of the stage of writing writing) (even "phonetic" is unsure. theboundary [scene]of dreams notbe surprised then in order to suggest the ifFreud, We should in dreams, constantly relations strangeness of the logico-temporal rebuses, of pictograms, and the spatialsynopses adduces writing, and not in general. Synopsis writing hieroglyphics, and non-phonetic lapidary quality of dreams The laconic, stasis: stageand nottableau. 8 is nottheimpassive signs. presence ofpetrified elements. It has revealed has spelled out thedream Interpretation to the workof condensation It is stillnecessary and displacement. and stages thewhole.The which composes account forthesynthesis
mustbe quesresourcesof the mise en scene (die Darstellungsmittel)

is irreconcilA certain representation polycentrism of dream tioned. unlinear of pure verbal able withthe apparently unfolding linear, speech of conscious The logicaland ideal structure representations. to thedream and becomesubordinate to it, must thussubmit system likea partof its machinery.
structure The different stand,of course,in the portionsof this complicated foremost manifoldlogical relationsto one another.They can represent and illustrations, chainsof evconditions, digressions groundand background, is Whenthewholemass of thesedream-thoughts idenceand counter-arguments. and its elementsare turned broughtunder the pressureof the dream-work, and jammedtogether-almost like pack-ice-the about,brokeninto fragments whichhave hitherto questionarisesof whathappensto the logical connections its framework. What representation [miseen scene] do dreamsprovide formed
8 "Dreams are parcimonious, laconic" (G. W., ii/iii,p. 284). indigent, (cf. above). Dreams are "stenographic" 100

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Derrida Jacques
and all the otherconjunctions 'either-or', for 'if','because','just as', 'although', or speeches?(p. 316-317). sentences whichwe cannotunderstand without

be com(miseen scene)mayat first This typeof representation in speech: which are likewriting forms of expression paredto those whichinscribe in a common the painting or sculpture of signifiers Freudsetsthem must suppress. chain which thespoken spaceelements "which can makeuse of speech (Rede)." Butmay offagainst poetry, "In dreams we see but language? not as welluse spoken thedream offact, likeArtaud In point said theProject. Freud, we do nothere," on of speech thanthesubordination less theabsence lateron, meant then Far from purpose changes disappearing, speech thedream-stage. invested It is situated, (in all sensesof the surrounded, and status. 9It figures do incomic in dreams much as captions word), constituted. in whichthe phonetic combinations thosepicto-hieroglyphic strips, of thetale: "Before in the and not central telling textis secondary becameacquainted withthe laws of expression by which painting
it is governed, ... in ancientpaintingssmall labels were hung from

in written characters containing themouths ofthepersons represented, representing of the artist despaired the speeches which (als Schrift) (p. 317). pictorially" and puts writing of dreams exceeds phonetic writing The overall or rebuses, voice is speechback in its place. As in hieroglyphics on "TheDreamFromthevery beginning ofthechapter circumvented. no doubtis left us on thissubject, Freudstilluses although Work," of will later on cast suspicion. on which he thatconcept translation
are The dream-thoughts and the dream-content (the latentand the manifest) to us like two versions presented [misesen scenes]of the same subject-matter in two different seemslike a the dream-content languages.Or, moreproperly, into anothermode of exof the dream-thoughts transference (Ubertragung) laws it is our businessto discover and syntactic pression,whose characters the originaland the translation. are imThe dream-thoughts by comparing as soon as we have learntthem.The dream-content, comprehensible, mediately on theotherhand,is expressed script (Bilderschrift), as it werein a pictographic 9 One meaningof the French investissement (Besetzung)is, of course, cathexis.-Ed.

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Yale French Studies

the characters of whichhave to be transposed individually into the language of the dream-thoughts.

Bilderschrift: not an inscribed image but a figurative script, an image inviting not a simple,conscious,present perception of the thingitself -assuming it exists-but a reading.
If we attempted to read these characters accordingto theirpictorialvalue insteadof according to theirsymbolic relation(Zeichenbeziehung), we should clearlybe led into error... A dreamis a picturepuzzle (Bilderratsel) of this sortand our predecessors in the fieldof dream-interpretation have made the mistakeof treating the rebus as a pictorialcomposition.

The figurative is thenindeed a formof writing, a signifying content a bit of chain in scenicform.In thatsense,of course,it summarizes speech, it is the economyof speech. The entirechapteron "Representability" (Aptitudea la mise en scene; Darstellbarkeit) shows this quite well. But the reciprocaleconomictransformation, the totalreassimilationinto speech, is, in principle,impossibleor limited.This is firstof all because words are also and "primarily" things.Thus in dreamstheyare absorbed,"'caught" by the primary process. It is then not enough to say that in dreams,words are condensed by non-verbal to a signifiers "things"; thatinversely may be interpreted certaindegreein terms of verbalrepresentations. be that must seen It words,in so far as theyare attracted, lured into the dream,toward the fictivelimit of the primary process, tend to become pure and simple things.An equally fictivelimit,moreover.Pure words and pure thingsare thus,like the idea of the primary process and, conthe secondaryprocess,"theoretical The interval sequently, fictions." in "dreams" and the intervalin "wakefulness"may not be distinin so far as the natureof languageis concerned. guishedessentially "Words are oftentreatedas thingsin dreams and thus undergothe 10In the formalregression same operationsas thingpresentations."
10 The "Metapsychological to the Theory of Dreams," 1916, Supplement to formalregression, (G. W., ii/iii, p. 419) devotesan important development which,accordingto the Traumdeutung, entailsthe substitution of "primitive modes of expression and representation (mise en scene) for those we are acto" (p. 554). Freud insists customed above all on the role of verbalrepresenta-


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Jacques Derrida of dreams, wordsare not overtaken by the spatialization of representation (la miseen scene).The processcould not even succeed, moreover, if words had notalwaysbeensubject in their materiality to themarkof their inscription or sceniccapacity, their Darstellbarcouldonly keitand all theforms of their spacing. This last factor havebeenrepressed byso calledliving, alert speech, byconsciousness, logic, thehistory ofthelanguage, etc.Spatialization doesnotsurprise thetimeof speechor theideality of meaning, it does nothappento themlike an accident. Temporalization presupposes the possibility of symbolism, and every evenbefore into symbolic synthesis, falling a space "outside," includeswithin itselfa spacingas difference. thatit implies Whichis whythe purephonicchain,to the extent or flow of time. differences, is itself nota purecontinuum Difference is thearticulation of space and time. The phonic chainor thechain ofphonetic distended minimum are always of writing already bythat on which thedream-work andanyformal essential spacing regression in general can beginto operate. It is nota question of a negation of of timein a present or simultaneity, time, of a cessation but of a a different Here once more different stratification of time. structure, a comparison withwriting-phonetic writing thistime-castslight on writing as wellas on dreams:
They [dreams] reproduce logical connection by simultaneity in time.Here they are actinglike the painterwho, in a pictureof the School of Athensor of in one groupall the philosophers or all the poets who Parnassus,represents were never, in fact,assembledin a singlehall or on a singlemountain-top... Dreams carrythis mode of representation [mise en scene] down to details. Whenever thisguarantees thatthere close together, theyshow us two elements is some specially intimate connection between whatcorresponds to themamong the dream-thoughts. In the same way, in our system of writing, 'ab' means that the two lettersare to be pronouncedin a single syllable.If a gap is tions: "It is very remarkable how littlethe dream-work adheres to verbal representations; it is alwaysreadyto exchange one wordforanother tillit finds the expressionmost favorablefor plastic representation." This passage is followedby a comparison, fromthe pointof view of word-representations and thing-representations, of the dreamer's languageand the languageof schizophrenia. It shouldbe analyzedclosely.We wouldperhapsfind(againstFreud?) that a rigorousdetermination of the anomalyis impossible.On the role of verbal representation in the preconsciousand the (consequently) secondary character of visual elements, cf. The Ego and the Id, ch. 2.


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Yale French Studies

leftbetween the'a' and the'b', it means thatthe'a' is thelastletter of one wordand the'b' is thefirst of thenext one (p. 319).

The model of hieroglyphic writing assemblesmore strikingly -thoughwe find it in every form ofwriting-the diversity of modes and functions of signs in dreams. Everysign-verbal or otherwisemaybe usedat different levels, in configurations and functions which are never prescribed by its "essence" butemerge from a playof differences. Summarizing all these possibilities, Freudconcludes:"Yet, in spiteof all thisambiguity, it is fairto say thattheproductions en scene]of thedream-work, it must which, be remembered, [mises
are notmade withtheintention of beingunderstood, no greater present

difficulties to their translators thando theancient hieroglyphic scripts to thosewhoseekto readthem" (p. 346-347). More thantwenty yearsseparate thefirst edition of the Traumdeutungfromthe "Note Upon the Mystic Writing-Pad." If we con-

tinue to follow thetwoseries thenonofmetaphors-those concerning psychical system of thepsychical and thoseconcerning thepsychical itself-what happens? refined. A methodological willbe increasingly metaphor inquiry will, to a certain be devoted a graphematics extent, to it.It is with stillto come rather thanwitha linguistics dominated by an aged phonoseesitself that logism as destined to collaborate. Freud psychoanalysis
this literally in a text from 1913, and in this case we recommends have nothingto add, interpret, alter.11 The interest which psychoanalysis brings to linguistics presupposes a "transgression" of the habitual meaningof the word "language." "By the word 'language', in this case, we ought not to understand simplythe expressionof thoughtin words, but the language of gesturesas well, and every On the one hand, the theoretical importof the psychographic

other form of expression of psychical suchas writing." activity, And

11 "The Interest in Psychoanalysis," G. W., viii, p. 390. The second part of this text,devotedto "non-psychological first sciences,"is concerned of all with the science of language (p. 493)-before philosophy, biology,history, sociology, pedagogy.


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Jacques Derrida having recalled thearchaic in dreams, character of expression which 12 and valorizes accepts contradiction visibility, Freudspecifies:
It seems to us more accurateto comparedreamsto a system than of writing to a language.In fact.the interpretation of a dreamis thoroughly comparable to the deciphering such as Egyptian of an ancientfigurative script, hierogyphics. In both cases, thereare elements for interwhichare not determined pretation or reading,but, in theirrole as determinatives, are theresimplyin order to assure the intelligibility of other elements. The ambiguity of the different elements of a dreamhas its counterpart in these ancientsystems of writing ... If untilnow thisconception of dreamproduction (miseen scene)has not been exploited it is because of a situation whichis easilyunderstandable: the point of view and body of knowledge withwhich a linguist would approach the subjectof dreamsare totallyalien to a psychoanalyst (p. 404-5).

on "The UnconsOn theother thesameyear, in thearticle hand, of theapparatus willbegin to be taken cious,"theproblematic itself up in terms of scriptural as in theProject, in a concepts:neither, topology of traceswithout writing, nor, as in the Traumdeutungg, in theoperations of opticalmachines. thefuncThe debatebetween tionalhypothesis and thetopographic concerns the locahypothesis
tionsof an inscription (Niederschrift):
Whena psychical act (let us confine ourselves hereto an act of representation Our underlining]) is transferred [Vorstellung. fromthe systemUcs into the system Cs (or Pcs), are we to supposethat thistransposition involvesa fresh fixation, comparableto a new inscription of the representation in question, situated, in a freshlocality moreover, in themindand side by side withwhich the originalunconsciousinscription continuesto exist? Or are we ratherto believe that the transformation consistsin a change in the state of the representation, involving the same materialand occurring in the same locality? (G. W., x, p. 272-3).

The discussion which follows does not concern us directly here.Let us simply recall that theeconomic hypothesis andthedifficult concept
12 As is known,the note on "The Antithetical Sense of Primal Words" (1910) tendsto demonstrate, after Abel, and witha great abundance of examples borrowedfromhieroglyphic that the contradictory writing, or undetermined meaning of primalwordscould be determined, receive its difference and conditions of operationonly through and writing. gesture On this textand Abel's cf. E. Benveniste, hypothesis, de linguistique ProblQmes ch. vii. generale,


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Yale French Studies of anti-cathexis (Gegenbesetzung: "thesole mechanism of primal represson," p. 280), whichFreudintroduces after refusing to decide, do noteliminate thetopographical difference ofthetwoinscriptions. 13 And let us notethattheconcept of inscription stillremains simply the graphic element of an apparatus whichis not itself a writing machine. The difference between thesystem and thepsychical is still at work: the graphic register is reserved forthe description of the psychical content or of an element in themachine. We might think thatthemachine itself is subject to another principle of organization, another destination thanwriting. This is perhaps the case as well becausetheguiding thread of thearticle on "The Unconscious," its example, as we have emphasized, is thedestiny of a representation after it is first registered. When perception-the apparatus which originally registers and inscribes-will be delineated, the "perceptual apparatus" willno longer be able to be anything buta writing machine. The "NoteUpon theMystic Writing-Pad," twelve yearslater, will describe the perceptual apparatus and the originof memory. and out of phase,the two seriesof metaphors Long disjoined will then be united.
Freud's Slab of Wax and the Three Analogies of Writing

In thissix page text, theanalogy between a certain writing apparatus and theperceptual Threestages is gradually apparatus demonstrated. in thedescription in an increase result eachtime in rigor, inwardness, and differentiation. As has alwaysbeendone-at leastsincePlato-Freud first considers writing as a technique subservient to memory, an external, auxiliary technique of psychical memory and notmemory itself:hypomnesis rather than mnnmjsaid Phaedrus. But here-something not is possible forPlato-the psychical caught up in an apparatus, and willbe morereadily whatis written as a "materialized" represented partextracted from theapparatus. Suchis thefirst analogy:
13 p. 228.Thisis thepassage andin which we quoted thememoryearlier, tracewas distinguished from "memory."


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as we know, do so to a remarkable If I distrust my memory-neurotics, extent, but normalpeople have everyreasonfor doingso as well-I am able to completeand guarantee (erginzenund versichern) its working by making a written trace(schriftliche Anzeichnung). In thatcase the surface upon which this trace is preserved, or sheet of paper, is as it were a the pocket-book materialized portion(ein materialisiertes Stuck) of my mnemicapparatus(des the rest of which I carryabout with me invisible.I Erinnerungsapparates), has been deposited have only to bear in mind the place wherethis 'memory' and I can then'reproduce' thatit will it at any timeI like,withthe certainty have remained to which unaltered and so have escaped thepossibledistortions it might have been subjected in myactual memory (G. W., xiv,p. 3).

Freud's theme here ofmemory or theprimal is nottheabsence and normal finitude of themnemic evenless is it thestructure faculty; of the temporalization whichgrounds thatfinitude or its essential to censorship nor is it the possibility relationship and repression; which thepsychical "intotheworld"; norwhatis remustproject quiredin the nature to be of the psyche forthatsupplementation a question possible. At first, it is simply of considering theconditions whichcustomary Those surfaces writing imposeon thatoperation. fail to satisfy conditions the doublerequirement defined sincethe a potential Project: forindefinite preservation andan unlimited capacityforreception. A sheet ofpaper preserves indefinitely butis quickly saturated. A slate,whosevirginity mayalwaysbe reconstituted by its traces. erasure, (thus)does notconserve All theclassicalwriting surfaces offer onlyone of the two advantages and alwayspresent the complementary inconvenience. Such is theres extensa and the intelligible surface of classicalwriting apparatuses. In theprocesses which substitute forourmemory, they "an unlimited receptive capacanda retention ofpermanent ity traces seemto be mutually exclusive." Theirextension belongs to classical geometry and is intelligible in its terms as pureexterior without relation to itself. A different writing space mustbe found;writing has alwaysclaimed it. Auxiliary apparatuses which, Freud notes,are (Hilfsapparate), on the modelof the supplementary alwaysconstituted organ(e.g., spectacles, camera, ear-trumpet) thusseemparticularly deficient when it comes to memory. Thisremark makes evenmore suspect theearlier 107
and the necessityof the Erganzung,the hypomnemic supplement

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Yale French Studies that the reference to optical apparatuses.Freud recalls,nevertheless, he is presenting contradictory requirement had already been recognizedin 1900. He mighthave said: in 1895.
in the Traumdeutung to a suspicion As long ago as in 1900 I gave expression that this unusual capacitywas to be dividedbetweentwo different systems (or organs of the mental apparatus).Accordingto this view, we possess a but retainsno permanent trace systemPcpt.-Cs.,which receivesperceptions of them, so thatit can reactlike a clean sheetto everynew perception;while are preserved the permanent tracesof the excitations whichhave been received in 'mnemicsystems'lying behind the perceptualsystem.Later, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle(1920), I added a remarkto the effectthat the inexplicable phenomenon of consciousness arises in the perceptual instead system 14 of the permanent traces.

A double systemcontainedin a single differentiated apparatus: of traceshave available innocence a perpetually and an infinite reserve at last been reconciledby this "small contrivance" placed "upon the marketsome time ago under the name of the MysticWriting-Pad," and which "promises to be more efficient than the sheet of paper and slate." Its appearance is modest,"but if it is examined more closely, it will be found that its construction shows a remarkable with my hypothetical structure of our perceptualapparaagreement both advantages: "an ever-ready tus." It offers surfaceand receptive permanenttraces of the inscriptions that have been made on it." Here is its description:
The MysticPad is a slab of dark brownresinor wax witha paper edging; over the slab is laid a thintransparent sheet,the top end of whichis firmly securedto the slab whileits bottom end restsupon it without beingfixedto it. This transparent sheetis the moreinteresting part of the littledevice.It itself consists of two layers, whichcan be detachedfromeach otherexceptat their two ends. The upperlayeris a transparent piece of celluloid; the lowerlayer is made of thintranslucent waxed paper. When the apparatusis not in use, the lower surfaceof the waxed paper adheres lightly to the upper surface of the wax slab. To make use of the MysticPad, one writesupon the celluloid portionof the covering-sheet whichrestsupon the wax slab. For this purposeno pencil or chalk is necessary, since the writing does not dependon material beingdeposited upon thereceptive surface. It is a return to theancient
14 p.

4-5. Cf. chapteriv of Beyond the Pleasure Principle.


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Jacques Derrida
methodof writing the upon tabletsof clay or wax: a pointedstilusscratches surface,the depressions upon which constitute In the case of the 'writing'. but through themedium the Mystic Pad thisscratching is not effected directly, of the covering-sheet. At the points which the stilustouches,it pressesthe lower surfaceof the waxed paper on to the wax slab, and the groovesare visibleas dark writing upon the otherwise smoothwhitish-grey surfaceof the all thatis necessary celluloid.If one wishesto destroy whathas been written, is to raise the double covering-sheet fromthewax slab by a light pull, starting fromthe freelowerend.15 The close contactbetween the vaxed paper and the wax slab at theplaces whichhave been scratched (upon whichthe visibility of the writing is thusbrought depended) to an end and it does notrecurwhenthe two surfaces come together once more.The Mystic Pad is now clear of writing and readyto receivefreshinscriptions (p. 5-6).

Let us note that the depth of the MysticPad is at once a depth withoutbottom,an endless reverberation, and a perfectly superficial exteriority: a stratification of surfaces each of whose relationto self, whose inside,is but the implication of anothersimilarly exposed surface. It joins thetwo empirical certainties by whichwe are constituted: infinite depth in the implicationof meaning,in the unlimitedenof the present, the pellicularessence velopment and, simultaneously, of being,the absoluteabsence of a grounding. Neglectingthe device's "slightimperfections," interested only in the analogy,Freud insistson the essentially protective natureof the celluloid sheet.Withoutit, the finewaxed paper would be scratched or ripped.There is no writing whichdoes not devise some means of to protectagainstitself, protection, againstthe writing by whichthe as he lets himself '"subject"is himselfthreatened be written:as he exposes himself. "The layerof celluloidthusacts as a protective sheath for the waxed paper." It shieldsit from"injuriouseffects fromwithout." "I may at this point recall thatin Beyond the Pleasure Principle, 16 I showed that the perceptualapparatus of our mind consists of two layers,of an externalprotective shield against stimuliwhose task it is to diminish the strength of excitations comingin, and of a

15 The Standard Editionnotesherea slight infidelity in Freud's description. is not affected." to think "The principle We are tempted thatFreudinflects his elsewhere as well in orderto suitthe analogy. description 16 This is stillin Chapteriv of Beyond the Pleasure Principle.


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Yale French Studies it which thesystem surface behind receives thestimuli, namely Pcpt.Cs" (p. 6). Butas yetthisconcerns or perception, theopenness only reception to theincision of a scratch. of themostsuperficial Thereis surface as yetno writing in theflatness of thisextensio. We must account for as a trace thescratch's writing which survives present, punctuality, and "Thisanalogy," Freud "would notbe ofmuch value stigma. continues, if it could not be pursued further than this."This is the second analogy:
the celluloidand the waxed paperIf we liftthe entire covering-sheet-both does offthe wax slab, the writing vanishes, and, as I have alreadyremarked, not re-appearagain. The surfaceof the MysticPad is clear of writing and once more capable of receiving But it is easy to discover thatthe impressions. is retained permanent traceof what was written upon the wax slab itselfand is legiblein suitablelights. The contradictory requirements are satisfied by this double system,

and "this is preciselythe way in which,accordingto the hypothesis

whichI mentioned just now,our psychical apparatus performs its The layer receives perceptual function. which thestimuli-the system Pcpt.-Cs.-forms no permanent traces; the foundations of memory come aboutin other, supplementary, systems." Writing supplements perception before thelatter evenappears to itself. "Memory'" [supplhe] or writing is the opening of thatprocessof appearance itself. The "perceived" may be read onlyin the past,beneath perception and after it. to theprototypes other of Whereas writing surfaces, corresponding slateor paper, couldrepresent onlya materialized partofthemnemic the MysticPad in the psychical an abstraction, system apparatus, not simply in its entirety, in its perceptual theapparatus represents theunconscious, layer.The wax slab,in fact, represents "I do not it is too far-fetched to comparethe wax slab withthe unthink behindthe system The becoming-visible conscious alterPcpt.-Cs." thedisappearance ofwhat is written wouldbe theflickernating with ing-up (Aufleuchten) and passing-away (Vergehen) of consciousness in theprocess of perception.

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Jacques Derrida This introduces the third It is no doubtthe and finalanalogy. mostinteresting. Untilnow,it has beena question onlyof thespace itsextension ofwriting, reliefs and depressions. Butthere andvolume, is as well a timeof writing, and it is nothing other thanthe very structure of whatwe are now describing. We mustcome to terms withthetemporality of thewax slab. For it is notoutside theslab, and theMystic Pad includes in its structure whatKantdescribes as nence, succession, when he wonders simultaneity. Descartes, quaenam of an intelligible 17 Freud,reconstructing an operation, object. can reduceneither And he timenor themultiplicity of sensitive layers. will linka discontinuist and of time,as the periodicity conception of writing, witha wholechainof hypotheses whichstretch spacing
from theLettersto Fliess to BeyondthePleasurePrinciple, and which, vero est haec cera, may reduce its essence to the timelesssimplicity the threemodes of timein the threeanalogies of experience:perma-

onceagain,are constructed, confirmed and solidified in consolidated, theMystic Pad. Temporality willbe notonly as spacing thehorizontal of a chainof signs, butwriting and discontinuity as theinterruption thevarious of contact between restoration ofpsychical levels: depths theremarkably fabric ofpsychical heterogenous itself. temporal work neither the line of nor the We find ofa volcontinuity a homogeneity duration and depth of a stage[scene], ume; onlythedifferentiated its spacing:
But I mustadmitthatI am inclinedto pressthe comparison stillfurther. On the MysticPad the writing vanisheseverytimethe close contactis broken betweenthe paper whichreceivesthe stimulus and the wax slab whichpreservesthe impression. This agreeswitha notionwhichI have long had about the methodin which the perceptualapparatusof our mind functions, but whichI have hitherto keptto myself (p. 7).

periodicimpulses-of "cathecticinnervations (Besetzungsinnervationen), from within theoutside, toward toward thepermeability of the

Thathypothesis a discontinuous posits distribution-through rapid

system Pcpt.-Cs.These movements are then"withdrawn" or "removed." Consciousness eachtime fades thecathexis is thus withdrawn.
17 The reference-"but what is thispiece of wax"-is to the discussion of and secondary primary qualitiesin Descartes'ssecondMeditation.-Ed.


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Yale French Studies Freudcompares thismovement to thefeelers which theunconscious wouldstretch outtoward theexternal and withdraw when world they had sampledthe excitations coming fromit and warnedthe unconscious of any threat. theimageof (Freudhad no morereserved the feeler for the unconscious-we findit in ChapterIV of Beyond... 18-than he had thenotion of cathectic periodicity, as we notedabove.) The "origin of our concept of time"is attributed to this"periodic non-excitability" and this "discontinuous method of functioning of thesystem Pcpt.-Cs." Timeis theeconomy ofwriting. This machine does notrunby itself. It is less a machine thana tool.Anditis notheldwith onlyone hand.Its temporality is marked thereby. Its maintenance is not simple.The ideal virginity of the 19 At least present [maintenant] is constituted bythework ofmemory. twohandsare neededto maketheapparatus as well as a function, system of movements, a coordination of independent initiatives, an organized It is on thisstage[scene]thatthe multiplicity of origins. one handwriting "Note" ends: "If we imagine of uponthesurface theMystic Writing-Pad whileanother periodically raisesits covering sheetfrom thewax slab,we shallhave a concrete of representation thewayin which thefunctioning of theperceptual I tried to picture of our mind." apparatus thespaceoftheir Tracesthus produce inscription only byacceding Fromthebeginning, in the"present" of oftheir erasure. to theperiod are constituted of retheir first impression, they by thedoubleforce
18 We find it again,the same year,in the articleon Verneinung. In a pasus hereforits recognition of therelation sage whichconcerns between negation and differance, in thought delay,detour(Aufschub, (difference, Denkaufschub) union of Eros and Thanatos),the sendingout of feelersis attributed not to but to the ego (G. W., xiv, p. 14-15).On Denkaufschub, the unconscious on as retardation, thought postponement, suspension, respite, detour, differance as opposed to, or ratherdifferante (deferring, differing) from the theoretical, and always alreadytransgressed fictive, pole of the "primary process,"cf. all The conceptof "circuitous of ChapterVII (V) of the Traumdeutung. path" to it. "Thoughtidentity," wovenof memory, is an (Umweg)is central entirely for "perceptualidentity," the aim of the aim always already substituted ... ("All thought "primary process,"and das ganze Denken ist nur ein Umweg is only a circuitous path,"p. 607). Cf. also the Umwegezum Tode in Jenseits, But thereis in Freud's sense, is always differance. p. 41. "Compromise," nothingbeforethe compromise. frommanuof the verb maintenir 19The presentparticiple (to maintain, to hold witha hand)is maintenant tenire, (now).-Ed.


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Jacques Derrida A two-handed readability and unreadability. petition and erasure, is this nottheoriginary ofagencies or origins; machine, a multiplicity its "primary" of writing, relation to the otherand the temporality and obliteraspacing, deferring complication: originary (diffrraznce), of whatwe polemical on thevery threshold tionof thesimple origin, "whichfollow The scene of dreams, persist in callingperception. Butthisis because"percepformer frayings," was a sceneofwriting. of life,had of lifeto its other, the origin tion,"the first relation in the representation. We mustbe several alwaysalready prepared of The simplestructure orderto writeand alreadyto "perceive." is a intuition, and manuscription, like every originary maintenance process. as "theoretical" as theidea of theprimary myth, a "fiction" of primal For thatidea is contradicted repression. by thetheme is unthinkable without Its condition is that repression. Writing breakbetween a permanent noran absolute contact there be neither that It is no accident of censorship. strata:thevigilance and failure the area of politics shouldcome from the metaphor of censorship and disguises, even in its deletions, withwriting concerned blanks, seemsto makeonly of theTraumdeutung, if Freud, at thebeginning of to it. The apparent reference a conventional, didactic exteriority binds which censorship political censorship giveswayto an essential the writer to his own writing. there to fraying, purepermeability If there wereonlyperception, would be but nothing We wouldbe written wouldbe no fraying. repeated as readretained, recorded; no writing wouldbe produced, onlyby But pureperception does not exist: we are written ability. alwaysalready within us which writing [en ecrivant], by theinstance ofwriting or external. The "subject" governs perception, be it internal solitude of the does not existif we mean by thatsome sovereign between strata: The subject is a system ofrelations author. ofwriting of theMystic of society, of the world.Within Pad, of thepsyche, thatscenethe punctual is not to simplicity of the classicalsubject In order it is notenough be found. to describe to recall that structure, senderfor someone; and the oppositions thatone alwayswrites coarseinstruments. We etc.,remain extremely receiver, code-message, 113

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Yale French Studies wouldsearchthe"public"in vainforthefirst reader:i.e., thefirst author of a work.And the"sociology of literature" is blindto the war and ruses-whosestakesare the origin of the work-between theauthor whoreadsand thefirst reader whodictates. The sociality 21 as dramarequires an entirely of writing different discipline. That themachine meanssomething does notrunby itself else: a mechanism without itsownenergy. The machine is dead.It is death. with Not becausewe riskdeathin playing butbecausethe machines, In a letter ofmachines is therelation it will origin to death. to Fliess, his representation be recalled, Freud,evoking of the psychical aphad the impression of beingfacedwitha machine which paratus, wouldsoonrunbyitself. Butwhat was torunbyitself was thepsyche or mechanical does and notitsimitation For thelatter representation. is death.Which not live. Representation transmaybe immediately formed intothefollowing proposition: death is (only) representation. But it is boundto lifeand theliving it repeats present which origA purerepresentation, a machine never runsby itself. Such inarily. in his analogy with which at leastis thelimitation Freudrecognizes theMystic of the"Note,"his gesture Pad. Like thefirst paragraph thenis extremely Platonic. Only the writing of the soul, said the and represent is able to reproduce trace Phaedrus, onlythepsychical itselfspontaneously. Our reading had skippedover the following theanalogy remark by Freud: "Theremustcomea pointat which is between an auxiliary of thiskindand theorganwhich apparatus oncethewriting It is true, itsprototype willcease to apply. too,that, it from theMystic Pad cannot has beenerased, it 'reproduce' within; it couldaccomplish wouldbe a mystic pad indeed if,likeourmemory, themultiplicity that." Abandoned to itself, of layered surfaces of the is a dead complexity without Lifeas depth apparatus depth. belongs to thewaxofpsychical only memory. Freud, likePlato, thus continues to opposehypomnemic andwriting writing en teipsychii, itself woven oftraces, memories ofa present truth outside empirical of time. From thenon, separated from psychical responsibility, theMystic Pad, as
20 The targets of Derrida's in this polemic paragraph are Sartre, Jakobson, and Lucien Goldmann.-Ed.


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Jacques Derrida in Cartesian a representation abandoned to itself, stillparticipates spaceand mechanics: naturalwax,exteriority of theaid to memory. All thatFreudhad thought of lifeand death, about the unity shouldhave led himto ask other here.To ask however, questions them the status of the explicitly. Freuddoes not examine explicitly "materialized" is necessary supplement which to theputative sponof memory, weredifferentiated in even if thatspontaneity taneity itself, thwarted by a censorship or repression could which, moreover, not act on a perfectly the machine Far from spontaneous memory. a pureabsenceof spontaneity, itsresemblance being to thepsychical its existence and itsnecessity bearwitness to thefinitude apparatus, ofthemnemic which is thus spontaneity supplemented [supplkge]. The death and finitude machine-and,consequently, representation-is the psyche. thepossibility within Nor does Freudexamine of that machine, which, in theworld, has at leastbegun to resemble memory, and resembles and better it increasingly and better. than Muchbetter the innocent MysticPad: the latteris no doubtinfinitely more but complexthanslate or paper,less archaicthana palimpsest; it is a child'stoy. machines forstoring to other compared archives, a certain That resemblance-i. of e., necessarily Being-in-the-world thepsyche-didnot occurfrom without to memory anymorethen deathsurprises life.It grounds memory. Metaphor-inthiscase the between analogy two apparatuses and the possibility of thatrepresentational relation-raises a question which, despitehis premises and forreasons which are no doubtessential, Freudfailedto make at the verymoment at whichhe had brought explicit, it to the threshold of its themeand urgency. Metaphor as a rhetorical or didactic deviceis possible hereonlythrough thesolidmetaphor, the "unnatural," historical production of a supplementary machine, added to the psychical organization in orderto supplement its [supplier] finitude. Theyvery idea of finitude is derived from themovement of thissupplementarity. The historico-technical production of that metaphorwhichsurvives individual (or evengeneric) psychical organizationis of an entirely different order from theproduction of an intrapsychical metaphor, assuming thatthelatter exists (to speakaboutit 115

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Yale French Studies may bondthetwometaphors and whatever is notenough forthat), (a new of technics themselves. Here the question maintain between itstraditional to remove itfrom be found in order namemust perhaps between an assumed opposition from problematic) maynotbe derived is here and thenon-psychical, lifeand death.Writing thepsychical and rebetween present between lifeand death, techne' as relation It opensup thequestion thetwo apparatuses. presentation, between between and of theanalogy of technics: in general of theapparatus In thissense apparatus. an thenon-psychical thepsychical apparatus It and theplay of theworld. writing is the stage[scene]of history That in Freud'sdiscannotbe exhausted by a simplepsychology. in psychoanalysis's being results coursewhich opensontoits theme psychoanalysis. simply not simply psychology-nor a in the Freudianbreak-through, Thus are perhapsaugured, term "Platonic." we might of thatenclosure beyond and a beneath of world "subsumed" by thenameof Freud, history In thatmoment or meta(be it neurological mythology traversing an unbelieveable of outside of taking seriously, forwe neverdreamed psychological: the its literalness, and disturbs the questionwhichdisarticulates adonlya minimal fable,whichmarksperhaps metapsychological a relation to self theneurological talesof theProject), vancebeyond was spokenwithout sceneof writing of thehistorico-transcendental written and simultaneouswithout thought: being being said,thought itselfwhile indicating intradesignating ly erased,metaphorized; it was represented. relations, worldly in so faras Freudalso, withadmirable understood scope prudently) terms of thatscenein other thanthoseof individual or colthink It must be thought lective or evenofanthropology. in the psychology, of that scene. horizonof the scene of the world,as the history is caught Freud'slanguage up in it. Like all those forus thesceneof writing. Thus Freudperforms all know how to he And like who who write. write, let the scene within thescene.It is then Freud itself and betray duplicate, repeat, 116
But we must and continuity, performed for us the scene of writing. This may perhaps be recognized(as an example and let this be

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Jacques Derrida whomwe willallowto say whatscenehe has playedforus. From him thatwe shall borrow whichhas silently the hiddenepigraph governed our reading. In following the advanceof metaphors of path,trace, fraying; of the slow march a trackby effraction opening through neurone, light or wax,woodor resin, in order to mark matrix nature, matter, in following the untiring violently; reference to a drystilusand a writing without ink; in following theinexhaustible inventiveness and dream-like renewal of mechanical models-that metonymy perpetually at workon the same metaphor, tracefor obstinately substituting traceand machine formachine-we Freudwas doing. wondered what And we thought of thosetexts where, better thananywhere else,
he tells us worin die Bahnung sonst besteht.In what the fraying

consists. Of theTraumdeutung: "It is highly all complicated that probable machinery and apparatus in dreams occurring standforthegenitals -and as a rulethemaleones-in describing which dream-symbolism is as indefatigable as thejoke-work (Witzarbeit)" (p. 361).
Then, of The Problemof Anxiety:

"If writing-which in allowing consists a fluidto flowout from a tubeupona piece of white paper-has acquired thesymbolic meanor if walking ing of coitus, has becomea symbolic substitute for stamping upon the body of MotherEarth,thenbothwriting and will be abstained walking becauseit is as though from, forbidden sexualbehavior werethereby beingindulged in." Mehiman Translated by Jeffrey


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