Substance 2010 | Deconstruction | Psychoanalysis

The Navel of the Dream: Freud, Derrida and Lacan on the Gap where "Something Happens

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David Sigler
SubStance, Volume 39, Number 2, 2010 (Issue 122), pp. 17-38 (Article)

Published by University of Wisconsin Press DOI: 10.1353/sub.0.0079

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The Navel of the Dream: Freud, Derrida and Lacan on the Gap where “Something Happens”
David Sigler
Jacques Lacan, who made a career of placing the Freudian oeuvre in unexpected philosophical contexts, admitted in 1955 that “I’m not the only one to have had the idea of taking up the dream of Irma’s injection again” (Seminar II 147). That dream of Freud’s, the analysis of which constitutes one of the most famous passages of The Interpretation of Dreams, has occupied a central place in the psychoanalytic canon for several reasons: it is the first dream that Freud subjects to a rigorous analysis, and it is his own dream; moreover, its analysis, unusually thorough, leads Freud to two essential formulations (the dream as a fulfillment of a wish, and the logic of the broken kettle). Freud returns to this dream several times throughout The Interpretation, just as post-Freudian psychoanalytic thinkers have consistently returned to Irma to theorize aspects of the dream-work and the unconscious. The body of scholarly work on Irma is so voluminous that, some forty years after Lacan, Joan Copjec could call Irma’s injection “that overinterpreted anxiety dream” (119); two years after that, undaunted by “the enormous analytic literature that, throughout the world, has submitted it to investment and investigation from every angle,” Jacques Derrida would publish his own close reading of the dream in a 1996 essay entitled “Resistances” (“Resistances” 5). The dream has, to borrow a phrase from another context and J. Hillis Miller, “an inexhaustible power to generate commentary” (Miller 177). Derrida, like many others, turns to Irma’s injection as a way to access the thoughts of a discipline’s founding father at the very scene of that discipline’s invention. Rightly skeptical of creation myths, however, Derrida concludes that “Freud was neither able nor willing to inaugurate a new concept of analysis” in this case (“Resistances” 20). “Resistances” is persuasive in its refusal to acknowledge the audacity or inventiveness of Freud’s self-analysis; it is daring in its call for non-psychoanalytic perspectives on Irma. It is arguably the most serious challenge to psychoanalytic orthodoxy anywhere in Derrida’s work, The Post Card included. In this it recalls the bravado of Lacan, who, with characteristic glee in frustrating his auditors’ expectations, spent two meetings of his second seminar
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discussing that “dream of dreams, the inaugurally deciphered dream” so as not to perform any psychobiographical analysis of Freud himself nor to identify any particular meaning of the analysis beyond the fact that Freud, qua subject, could not be found anywhere within it (147). In the wake of Derrida’s reflections on and in “Resistances,” Lacan’s commentary from 1955 becomes all the more urgent, opening, as it does, questions about the Irma dream that suddenly resonate with renewed ambiguity and purchase: “Of course there must be a psychology of the creator,” Lacan acknowledges, “But . . . is it the lesson we must draw from what takes place in the dream of Irma’s injection?” (Seminar II 148). It is a good question. By “the creator” Lacan at first means Freud: the Irma dream, as Lacan notes, is often taken as a constitutive moment not only in psychoanalytic terms but also as a foundational episode in the mythology of Freud himself. But in plumbing “the lesson” of a “creator” Lacan introduces curious Biblical overtones to the Irma dream, overtones that Lacan, who after all supplied them, is quick to disavow or proclaim unnecessary: he is unwilling to transform the dream to an access point into an otherwise unknowable “creator” named Freud, insisting instead that “the creator . . . is [Freud’s] unconscious” (Seminar II 171). This essay represents my own attempt to prolong Lacan’s question, leaving all of its Biblical import intact, and extend it in the direction of Derrida, or rather a certain Derrida, namely the Derrida of The Gift of Death, who has proven a formidable theorist of responsibility, refusal, inaccessibility, secrecy, and monotheism. Such an analysis will require that we go further than Lacan: it is not enough, in my view, to identify Freud’s unconscious as “the creator” here. Although the Irma dream has not normally been considered in terms of ethics or religious belief—which are the main points of consideration, however critically, in The Gift of Death—there is some precedent for such an experiment: Slavoj Žižek has identified in the Irma dream the structure of a Biblical parable, while Merold Westphal has identified structural similarities between the Irma dream and Freud’s writings on religion (Žižek “The Fear” 53, Westphal 61-62, 79-80). This essay, however, will pursue a more Derridean line of religious thought, a line traced through Kierkegaard, opening up the issue of responsibility as it pertains to the dream of Irma’s injection and Derrida’s own commentary upon it. The dream of Irma’s injection has always been, even in Freud’s analysis, a fable about responsibility, not least as it expresses Freud’s desire to be relieved of professional responsibility for failure in Irma’s case. This resonates closely with the tenor of The Interpretation of Dreams overall, which begins by considering, by way of a literature review, the issue of whether dreamers can be held responsible for the content of their dreams (SE IV 68-70). In my view, Derrida’s

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theorization of responsibility in The Gift of Death opens up new, ethical aspects of Freud’s self-analysis and helps us reconsider the issue of what Freud has accomplished in The Interpretation of Dreams. My argument is that, while deconstruction is indeed poised to go beyond the limits of psychoanalysis, to unravel the knots of passion at the navel of the dream, to dissolve its resistances as Derrida claims, and do so without forfeiting the navel’s status as secret, this is, ironically, a move that Freud has already made and one that, more ironically, Derrida regrets that Freud is not making. As is well known, Derrida builds his work on a Freudian inheritance: as Spivak notes, Freud’s positing of this navel establishes the “procedural guidelines” of deconstruction itself, heralding the arrival of “the deconstructive reader” (Derrida Of Grammatology xlix). This essay will explore the reverse possibility, tracing the ways that Derrida’s thought already crisscrosses, or even structures, Freud’s text. This essay will not attempt to deconstruct Freud’s text, nor to reveal that the text deconstructs itself: these maneuvers strike me as clichés. Rather, I will endeavor to show that Freud deconstructs his dream. He does so not only by exploiting its binary structures—as deconstruction is sometimes understood—but also and especially in the way that he produces the impossible through a gesture of patience, awaiting the future analysis that here, to my amazement, seems to actually arrive. Through the various explanations for his acts of interpretive refusal, Freud produces the very “deconstruction to come” that Derrida so often speculates about and awaits. It thus becomes unclear whose solution we are being asked to accept. For those unfamiliar with the dream, a few brief words of introduction may prove useful. Irma is a patient of Freud’s and a family friend; upon hearing from a friend and junior colleague, Otto, that her symptoms have persisted over the summer break, Freud dreams of a large hall in which he can examine Irma physically and interrogate her other doctors. So as to absolve himself of any inadequacy in Irma’s analysis, the dreaming Freud shifts the blame for the incomplete analysis onto Irma’s reluctance to accept his analytic solution—as manifested in the dream-thoughts by Otto’s having injected Irma with a dirty syringe—and Dr. M.’s inability to understand the intricacies of hysteria. In the process of offering this partial but illuminating and paradigmatic self-analysis, however, Freud appends several startling footnotes that suggest the limits of his inquiry. In one, Freud posits the existence of a “spot in every dream at which is unplumbable,” and designates this spot the dream’s “navel” (SE IV 111, n.1). Several footnotes later, Freud admits that “it will be understood that I have not reported everything that occurred to me during the process of interpretation” (SE IV 118, n.1). Because of these confessions, refusals,

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even incapacities on the part of Freud, which occur at various stages of the analysis and with regard to separate obstacles, the analysis of the dream of Irma’s injection is offered to the reader incomplete. Although in “Resistances” Derrida remains very sympathetic to Freud’s analytic predicament, he nevertheless makes clear his suspicion that Freud has not taken the Irma analysis far enough. His central question for Freud concerns the navel of the dream; in a certain sense it aspires to speak from within this navel. He asks: does this supposed point of contact with the unknown have its own history, its own archive? Might progress be made in unraveling this navel in times to come? Or is the navel, as Freud seems to suggest, the endpoint of any analysis, an indivisible atom? Thus the controversy hinges on the potential divisibility of the navel. Derrida suggests that Freud (and psychoanalysis generally) have arrested dream analysis at the so-called navel of the dream so as to make “resistance” an alibi with which to mask the intrinsic limits of analytic discourse. He proposes that deconstruction, not now but in its version to come, might be well suited to unravel what he calls “the remaining of the rest,” the part of the dream that exceeds psychoanalysis and is therefore “not psychoanalytic” (“Resistances” 26). In Derrida’s view, this tension between the possibility of further unknotting and the indivisibility of the navel is already etymologically contained in the very word “analysis”: “ana-,” suggesting a detail that cannot be broken down or an atomic particle that remains indivisible; “-lysis” implying the processes of untying, unknotting, and dissolution (“Resistances” 19). Derrida finds this apparent contradiction in Freud’s terminology significant, even to the extent that he fears it will undermine psychoanalytic discourse itself: this is because, in Derrida’s account, if “psychoanalysis will never gather itself into the unity of a concept or a task . . . there is not ‘la psychoanalyse’” (“Resistances” 20). Derrida’s refusal to recognize a unified or coherent procedure called “psychoanalysis” represents a profound challenge to Freud, who, as Lacan explains, maintains a rigorous “demand for internal coherence” even as he plumbs the incoherence and contradictions of the psyche (Seminar II 146). Such tensions are the very substance of Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle, insofar as Freud there speculatively supposes that the combinatory and anabolic forces of the erotic drive might—if only uncertainly—be undermined by conservative, primordial, and diabolical forces that surge toward death. Derrida in The Post Card had already noted that Freud never actually gets access to any “beyond” of the pleasure principle in that text (348). Years later, in “Resistances” and several essays on psychoanalysis that followed it, Derrida seems to have augmented that previous demand, now asking not only for the promised “beyond” but also something beyond this beyond. He demands this most clearly in the essay

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“Psychoanalysis Searches The States of Its Soul” (2000), wherein he describes the terrain “beyond the death drive” as an “ultimate question” for psychoanalysis, a psychoanalysis that would, if it managed the question responsibly, thereby find itself finally “without alibi” (“Psychoanalysis” 238-240). If, as Derrida warns in “Resistances,” Freud could never access any “beyond” in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, let alone any beyond of this beyond, it is perhaps because psychoanalysis is structurally disposed to arrest its investigations at a predetermined limit. Although Derrida suspends these possibilities in “Resistances” and promises not to resolve them, he does repeatedly imply that psychoanalysis is marked by a contingent procedural resistance that forces it to find its discursive limit at the navel of the dream. For while even the latter remains indivisible for psychoanalysis, in deconstruction nothing is ever so, even to the extent that Derrida suggests “divisibility” as a synonym for différance, and further, that to deconstruct is “to analyze tirelessly the resistance that still clings to the thematic of the simple and indivisible origin” (“Resistances” 33, 35). Freud’s navel, then, if indeed it proves indivisible, would threaten the very existence of deconstruction. Derrida acknowledges this possibility but suspects that this navel might not be as indivisible as Freud suggests. At the same time, Derrida accuses Freud of just the opposite maneuver: of treating the navel, that figure for resistance itself, as if it were “homogenous to the order of the analyzable” such that it “comes under psychoanalytic reason” (“Resistances” 4). This, for Derrida, presents an unacceptable solution: given the way that Freud illustrates the limitations of psychoanalysis with recourse to this navel and its resistances, and given the complicity of psychoanalysis with “the history of reason,” he claims that further progress will only be made “with something other than analysis” (“Resistances” 5). As for psychoanalysis itself, Derrida emphasizes its unwitting participation in the history of philosophy, refusing Freud’s claims to its novelty by asking “Who, besides God, has ever created, literally ‘created,’ a concept?” (“Resistances” 19). Thus Derrida suggests that psychoanalysis must answer to the demands of reason, that it cannot satisfactorily accept a mysterious “limit” of the knowable, and, indeed, that the idea of “resistances” merely provides an alibi to mask psychoanalysis’s procedural inability to go further. In establishing this critique, Derrida also implies that deconstruction might not be subject to the same limits as psychoanalysis, and that deconstruction might be able to provide an acceptable solution, either now or in times to come, equal to the task of unraveling the knots that constitute the navel of the dream, a solution that would not seek to homogenize its secret. Offering an idea that would be further explored in later essays such as “Psychoanalysis Searches” and

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“In Praise of Psychoanalysis,” Derrida suggests already in “Resistances” that reframing deconstruction as a form of analysis might yield a “third way” that is nevertheless not the synthesis of the two fields, but rather understood “as the crossing of two entangled necessities” (“Resistances” 26). Freudian psychoanalysis, for Derrida, is only as a “strategic lever of deconstruction,” however “indispensable” (“In Praise” 170). Thus where resistance was, there the analysis to come shall be. And indeed where psychoanalysis was, there other categories of analysis, not least the deconstruction to come, shall proceed: as Derrida explains in the later “In Praise of Psychoanalysis,” the reigning categories proper to psychoanalysis (such as id, ego, superego, ideal ego, ego ideal, and even the unconscious itself) should be understood as contingent “provisional weapons,” whose immediate usefulness may have expired. Expressing “little faith in their future,” Derrida supposes that these terms were “cobbled together to be used against a philosophy of . . . fully responsible intentionality” (“In Praise” 172). Responsibility will eventually triumph, predicts Derrida, and psychoanalytic categories will be “carried away . . . by the ineluctable necessity of some ‘differance’ that erases or displaces their borders” (“In Praise” 174-5). Thus Derrida adamantly demands the responsibility of the analyst—either Freudian, philosophical or deconstructive—in relation to the encounter with its seemingly absolute limit (the navel) and these seemingly insurmountable resistances. What is at stake, in Derrida’s view, is the vitality of Freudian analysis itself. Derrida’s claim is that the deconstruction to come will insert itself into psychoanalytic problems and ultimately replace Freudian methodologies. The claim of this paper, however, is that Freudian methodologies already enact this anticipated deconstruction. My analysis follows from Lacan’s suggestion that further progress might be made here, not by forging beyond Freud’s stopping-point, as Derrida suggests, nor by identifying the reasons for Freud’s stopping there, as Derrida attempts, but rather by considering, as Freud could not, “the whole of the dream and its interpretation,” that is, by refusing to distinguish between the dream and its analysis (Seminar II 152). To this I add the acknowledgment that the presumed “wholeness” of the text of Irma’s injection is compromised, not only for the usual reasons, but also in the way it constructs its very arguments.1 By this I mean to suggest that the Irma analysis is not merely incomplete, a project to be completed one day, but incomplete in several directions at once and for several discrete reasons. Derrida is right to note that Freud’s analysis stops upon the discovery of the navel of the dream. But although analysis goes no further in that direction, still it moves elsewhere, only to stop again. Indeed Freud’s analysis is halted at

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three different junctures. The first, in which he discovers the navel and announces his concern for “the whole of its concealed meaning,” when he analyses the dream-image of looking down Irma’s throat (SE IV 110n.1, 109). In unpacking this dream-thought, Freud comes up against the navel, an irreducible mystery, one that cannot be unraveled by psychoanalysis. Says Freud, “I had a feeling that the interpretation of this part of the dream was not carried far enough to make it possible to follow the whole of its concealed meaning” (SE IV 111n.1). Here Freud acknowledges that there is a point, namely the navel, beyond which analysis can never go. Further progress would be impossible. It is this juncture that is primarily at stake in Derrida’s reading. But we should note that Freud continues his analysis even beyond this point, tackling the other parts of the dream. He has dreamed, for instance, of identifying an infection on Irma’s left shoulder, no doubt caused by Otto’s unsanitary syringe (SE IV 107). Analyzing this, Freud remembers “that it was said of a celebrated clinician that he never made a physical examination of his patients except through their clothes. Further than this I could not see. Frankly, I had no desire to penetrate more deeply at this point” (SE IV 113). These clothes, then, represent a second obstacle, one that does not reveal a navel. In this case, Freud would merely prefer not to continue on, however helpful further analysis might prove. The decision is a pragmatic one. Dream-thoughts “are bound to branch out in every direction into the intricate network of our world of thought” (SE V 525). In this view, the interpretive work of analysis is an intrinsically rhizomatic activity extending in predictable but innumerable directions, such that the responsible analyst must therefore factor in certain “considerations” as s/he decides upon a place to stop. Dream-thoughts left to their own devices “cannot, from the nature of things, have any definite endings” (SE V 525). Hence the importance of Freud’s metaphor of “trains of thought,” each running along their predetermined and carefully planned tracks until the engineer/analyst skillfully guides us as far, and only as far, as we reader/passengers have decided to go (SE IV 121). To go further on such a train would not be desirable; indeed it would be a breach of professional responsibility on the conductor’s part. We, as readers of Freud, have bought our ticket and now can expect to be delivered to our appointed destination. This cessation of analysis is a calculation, and indeed a move quite familiar to readers of Derrida. In reference to Rousseau’s “dangerous supplement,” for instance, Derrida vows “not . . . [to] pursue this any further” at the very moment where “it would still be necessary for this psychoanalysis to elucidate the law of its own appurtenance” (Of Grammatology 161). In discussing Heidegger and Hamlet years later, Derrida concedes that “The rest of the interpretation cannot

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be reconstituted here. It would deserve long and minute approaches” (Specters 24). The difference in Freud’s case is that he claims to be unable (“could not”) and unwilling (“no desire”) to proceed further. He chooses to proceed no further at the very moment in which he “could not.” This is a curious combination, and I will discuss its significance momentarily. But first we should note the irony that Freud pursues his analysis further yet, again in a new direction, so as to contemplate statements of Dr. M’s and the formula for trimethylamin. These reflections allow Freud to identify his wish (“I was conscientious” [SE IV 118]), granting his readers fresh insight into the logic of dreams. Given this triumph, achieved in spite of a stymied analysis, Freud asserts that “I have now completed the interpretation of the dream” (SE IV 118). But it is hard to know in which sense he means “completed,” given all of the interruptions and consequent changes of tack. Freud even acknowledges that the completeness in question is itself incomplete: “I will not pretend that I have completely uncovered the meaning of this dream” (SE IV 120-121). There is, he says, a “gap” that remains, one possibly distinct from the navel, that has been passed over for personal reasons. He does not specify the nature of these reasons but identifies them as personal and private (SE IV 120-121). This is, in my view, the third act of refusal in Freud’s analysis. This last scenario involves secrecy, not in the Derridean sense, but rather as secrecy has traditionally been understood. Freud admits to censoring some of his associations in the interests of discretion:
I myself know the points from which further trains of thought could be followed. But considerations which arise in the case of every dream of my own restrain me from pursuing my interpretative work. If anyone should feel tempted to express a hasty condemnation of my reticence, I would advise him to make the experiment of being franker than I am. (SE IV 121)

This final decision was made out of consideration for known but apparently unmentionable constraints. Freud implies that he has consciously chosen not to pursue certain other associations not out of a sense of professional responsibility or competence, but out of a pointed if vague concern for the special “considerations which arise” in the case of “every dream of my own,” making this issue quite personal. It is no longer simply an issue of the intrinsic interminability of analysis. Having apparently learned a thing or two from Oedipus’s misfortunes, Freud is protecting himself from a self-incriminating investigation. Freud justifies such reticence by highlighting the hard labor of analysis. Apparently fatigued by his investigations, Freud concludes that he has gone far enough; he has arrived at a genuine insight into dreams which will tide him, and presumably us, over at least “for the moment.”

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He needs time to rest, and will do so at this juncture, since “for the moment I am satisfied with the achievement of this one piece of fresh knowledge” (SE IV 121). This Sabbath is more than justified, given the immensity of his creation. But the discovery of fresh knowledge is here an afterthought, a rationale: it is the effort itself that excuses Freud’s reticence, and that effort is praiseworthy and deserves recognition in its own right. “Fresh knowledge” has been achieved through work, it seems, work that need not be completed to have been productive. On the other hand, subjectivizing that knowledge--that is, assuming its perspective--would demand that the work, however interminable, be completed. It is again a matter of labor, dutiful labor in the face of an impossible assignment. As Freud notes, “When the work of interpretation has been completed, we perceive that a dream is the fulfillment of a wish” (SE IV 121, emphasis in original). Assuming the perspective of the knowledge is here contingent upon having “completed” the work of interpretation, even if the knowledge itself has been made available before any work has been completed. Freud has already identified what that knowledge will be—that a dream is the fulfillment of a wish—and can reveal that lesson to us already. Perhaps we can even understand this lesson as a general principle. But we will not be able to perceive its truth until the work is complete. It is not a matter of learning by experience, but allowing already existing knowledge to determine one’s perspective. In this, Freud anticipates Lacan’s argument that “it is an invention of pedagogues that knowledge is acquired by the sweat of your brow,” given that knowledge does not constitute work, nor vice-versa (Lacan Seminar XVI 26.2.69 XII 16). And yet, as Lacan reminds us, truth is independent of knowledge and represents a special perspective; the trick is to subjectivize knowledge (Seminar XVI 5.3.69 XIII 1). Not having himself yet completed the necessary work, given his fatigue and the shadowy “considerations which [have] arise[n],” and further given that the task would be impossible in any case (for thought branches out in every direction), Freud can merely report the lesson without perceiving its truth. This problem brings us back into Derrida’s orbit. Derrida’s central questions, after all, are why should we presume that an analysis can ever be complete?, and why should we accept the limits that Freud imposes upon his own analysis? Freud is not consistent on this issue, alternating between statements like “I have now completed the interpretation of the dream” and “I will not pretend that I have completely uncovered the meaning of this dream or that its interpretation is without a gap” (SE IV 118, 120-121, 141). Freud is not saying that the meaning of the dream contains a gap, that the gap is itself the meaning, nor that the analysis is complete once

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we arrive at the gap. It is rather a twofold failure: he has not uncovered the meaning of the dream, nor has he been developing an interpretation without a gap. These two are mutually exclusive possibilities, given that the lesson of the first relies upon the completion of the analysis. Lacan praises Freud for giving the dream “as exhaustive analysis as possible” (Seminar II 147). Indeed Freud frames further progress as, specifically, impossible: something would have to be done to “make it possible.” There is still a coherence to interpretation here—Freud is still speaking of a “whole of its concealed meaning,” implying a finitude to the “network” of shoots that extend from the analysis into discourse as a whole in every direction—but that wholeness, at the same time, is apparently impossible. More precisely, it is not that the whole is conceptually impossible, but that arriving there would be impossible without carrying further, which, Freud implies, would itself be impossible. Thus the analysis of Irma’s injection remains incomplete not simply as a matter of pragmatic decision-making or self-protection after all: there is rather something “unplumbable” that, in accordance with its inaccessible nature, would cause any further researches to go further and further afield. This situation is full of contradictions. Freud quotes a short story by Josef Popper-Lynkeus, a story that offers “a view of dreams that coincides entirely with the core of my own theory,” to show that dream analysis should “always succeed,” despite its being “no easy task” (SE IV 94, 309n.2). But, Popper-Lynkeus and Freud continue, successful analysis still proves evidently “impossible,” “even if one knew how to interpret dreams in the right way,” because of “a certain secret quality to your being,” a thing that will remain “always . . . concealed” (SE IV 309n.2). The secret, here as in Derrida’s work, is precisely not an inner truth to be discovered, revealed, or confessed: it is an unconditional thing that must, by necessity, remain silent, giving rise to no affirmative process whatsoever (Derrida On the Name 27). The navel, this “point of contact with the unknown,” is apparently a structural presence in any dream and demarcates the limit-point of any analysis (SE IV 111n.1). Still, there is no reason for disappointment: the navel is, in itself, a remarkable discovery, at least as influential as the subsequent explication of wish-fulfillment. Indeed, it paves the way for Lacan’s theorization of the Real and Derrida’s theorization of the secret. The concept of the secret is always, for Derrida, co-implicated with the “not-secret, the decipherable and the undecipherable,” which, given the ambiguities of Freud’s analysis, makes the navel a particularly good example of a secret as such (Derrida Geneses 24). If the navel is a pure secret, Freud is not expected not to tell us about it: telling such a thing would be precisely impossible. He might even be eager to divulge it; this will make no difference to its status as a secret.

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It is from this predicament that Freud, it seems, accepts Derrida’s solution in advance and delivers the deconstruction to come. For Freud does not merely identify, in his dream-thoughts, self-contradictory kettle logic, describing it as a phenomenon: his waking self also conducts this very analysis by making recourse to kettle logic. Kettle logic becomes not only the object of Freud’s explanation but its vehicle as well. For Freud here is alleging that the Irma analysis has been successfully completed, and also that the analysis remains incomplete because I have arrived at a point that cannot ever be analyzed, and also I could have gone further but preferred not to, in the interest of protecting myself, regardless of the good it might have done the analysis, and also I could have gone further but responsibly preferred not to, as going further would have compromised the analysis. As Freud would say, “if only a single one of these . . . lines of defense were to be accepted as valid, the man would have to be acquitted” (SE IV 120). What is significant in all of this is not that Freud has contradicted himself, but rather that he has not: he has indeed developed a way to proceed through the impossible act of interpretation, to complete a task that extends forever outward, by subjectivizing its lesson as a perspective rather than as a guideline. While it has proved impossible to analyze the navel, Freud has still decided not to, and so he still must claim responsibility for the outcome of the analysis. It is, he says, an act of “interpolation” (SE IV 113). It is a profoundly deconstructive gesture. As Derrida would have it: “Whence the paradox without paradox that I am trying to accept: this responsible decision must be this impossible possibility of a ‘passive’ decision, a decision of the other-in-me who will not acquit me of any freedom or any responsibility” (Negotiations 357). It requires that an alien perspective be installed as one’s own, however impossibly and provisionally. Derrida, curiously, does not note Freud’s interpolation here, instead focusing on the torsion implied by an ana-lysis that moves, necessarily according to its etymology, outward and inward at once. But perhaps Freud’s occupancy of this paradox without paradox is strategic rather than unwitting. Freud notes, after all, that dreams are at one and the same time “alien to us” and “products of our own mental activity,” a tension that normally encourages dreamers to disavow any “responsibility” for their dream-thoughts (SE IV 48). This logic structures Freud’s subjective experience during the Irma analysis: he notes the feeling of being held in tension between his thoughts running away from him while the truth was arriving, like an alien, from the outside: “I had some difficulty in keeping at bay all of the ideas that were bound to be provoked . . . And in the meantime the ‘meaning’ of the dream was borne in upon me” (SE IV 118). This is, as Derrida could have noted, the perfect embodiment of “ana-lysis” itself, experienced as an affective and subjective condition.

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To arrive at this interpolative perspective, which is apparently the aim and thesis of The Interpretation of Dreams, one must, by definition, accomplish the impossible. And yet there is no inconsistency in Freud’s strategy after all: could it not, perhaps, be true that although there is a recalcitrant point, a navel if you will, that can never be accessed by analysis, Freud has nevertheless suspended his researches voluntarily? Such would graft the necessary onto the impossible by way of a radical act of voluntarism. It is the very act crystallized in the statement “further than this I could not see. Frankly, I had no desire to penetrate more deeply at this point.” With his threefold act of refusal, Freud aligns these contradictory elements and dares us to make the experiment of being franker yet. Might this stance not constitute, as Derrida would suggest, the very essence of responsibility in these circumstances? Freud demonstrates, over and against a philosophical tradition that alleges that “ought” implies “can,” the possibility and practicality of voluntarily refusing to do the impossible. And “‘Deconstruction,’” notes Peggy Kamuf, “is one name that Derrida has given to this responsibility” (viii). Such a procedure claims, as an ethical requirement, the unconditional right to stop an analysis, quite voluntarily, at the very moment when further progress proves both necessary and impossible. Freud would, especially as he examines Irma’s left shoulder in his sleep, prefer not to achieve the impossible. Thus he recalls the accomplishments of Melville’s Bartleby, assuming, as I think we can, that operating without friction as a scrivener on Wall Street is both impossible and yet, to the success of the office and the economy generally, certainly necessary. His act of refusal likewise reconfigures the ethical and professional environment: Melville’s narrator learns to subjectivize this alien and impossible experience (acting “with assumed tranquility, but an inward tremor”) when the lawyer advises him that he is “responsible for the man [he] left there” in the office” (Melville 39). In the face of something unplumbable, the narrator decides voluntarily (despite having no choice) to “endeavor charitably to construe to his imagination what proves impossible to be solved by his judgment” (Melville 23). The situation of the scrivener is by definition impossible because doing one’s job well, as we see illustrated with Akaki Akakievich in Gogol’s “The Overcoat,” amounts to becoming inhuman, monstrous. The situation is analogous for the narrator of Melville’s story. Bartleby, the narrator, Freud in Irma’s injection and indeed the scrivener Farrington in Joyce’s “Counterparts” each arrive at a radical display of voluntarism, performing acts of refusal in the face of an impossible task. It is the act of the “passive decision,” as Derrida would say. In each case the refusal does not constitute a stopping point but an injunction to carry on differently, to subjectivize the impossible perspective summoned forth as knowledge. Freud proceeds

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as if narrating but also reading Melville’s story, given that his task as a self-interpreter apparently “demands an impossible task, and the reader remains paralyzed by the text, called upon to act but unable to act” (Miller 175). To do so is the only responsible path, given that the interpretive task is itself impossible, that the material is “alien to us” and the “product[] of our own mental activity,” that it demands centrifugal and centripetal interpretive movement: one must then proceed both eschatologically and archeologically, expanding at once rhizomatically, or as if a mycelium, and inward, toward the navel or point of origin. In such a situation, the voluntary suspension of an inquiry need not be understood as an alibi for the impossibility of the task itself. Freud, far from being confused or disingenuous or equivocal, seems to be enacting a radical form of refusal that we might identify as properly Derridean. By interpolating the perspective of the navel, Freud has indeed succumbed to his resistances, as Derrida has feared: introjection is one of the three ego resistances outlined in Freud’s 1926 text “Inhibition, Symptoms, and Anxiety” (SE XX 160). In this case, it produces something remarkable. But Derrida leaves the ego resistances mostly to the side in “Resistances,” focusing the bulk of his attention to the compulsion to repeat, a process stemming from the id which, in Derrida’s view, presents “the strongest resistance” on account of it offering “resistance of resistances” (“Resistances” 23, 32).2 Derrida reminds us that deconstruction and psychoanalysis have converged, or at least tended to come into conversation, on the issue of repetition compulsion as is theorized in Beyond the Pleasure Principle.3 Strangely, he claims that it has been Melville’s Bartleby who “has driven me to prowl endlessly, in the company of a few others, in the vicinity of Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (25). In Beyond, says Derrida, “[w]e have . . . returned very close to the navel of the dream, to the place where the desire for death and desire tout court call for and speak the analysis they prohibit . . . respond without responding, without saying yes or no, as in ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’” (“Resistances” 24). Derrida thus offers Bartleby as the spokesperson for repetition compulsion and resistance to analysis generally.4 In Derrida’s view, Bartleby wavers between two poles, appearing on the one hand as a capable analyst (because “he makes others speak”) and on the other hand as a resistant analysand (insofar as he frustrates the narrator, who is himself both “a responsible man of law and a tireless analyst”) (“Resistances” 24). The coincidence of analyst and analysand certainly recalls Freud’s dream analysis, and raises once more the issue of responsibility in Melville as in Freud. Derrida elaborates on the nature of responsibility in The Gift of Death. In a passage employing the same thread-and-weaving conceit so prominent in “Resistances,” Derrida explains that “responsibility is

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woven with the double and inextricably intertwined thread of the gift and of death: in short of the gift of death. The gift made to me by God as he holds me in his gaze [. . .] the terribly dissymmetrical gift of the mysterium tremendum [. . . ] rouses me to the responsibility it gives me by making a gift of death [. . .] giving the secret of death, a new experience of death” (Gift 33). Freud, I will note below, comes to exercise this very gaze. But first I should note that Derrida discusses Bartleby here also, albeit in very different terms. In The Gift of Death Bartleby appears not as the representative of repetition compulsion or even resistance generally; rather, he appears as the embodiment of a fully singular and devout form of radical responsibility, one characterized by its openness to alterity and its ability to suspend an exchange economy. In this reading of Melville’s story, “Bartleby’s ‘I would prefer not to’ is also a sacrificial passion that will lead him to death, a death given by the law” (Gift 75). Moreover, Derrida compares Bartleby to Abraham, suggesting that both are “speaking in the language of the other, speaking without saying anything, making the other speak, ‘I would prefer not to’” (Gift 74-75).5 But despite being able to discuss Bartleby in relation to Beyond the Pleasure Principle and, separately, in relation to sacrificial passion, nowhere does Derrida synthesize these readings so as to suggest the ethical or theological relevance of Bartleby to Freud. It is the very specter of Bartleby that makes Derrida’s refusal to apply the concepts from The Gift of Death to the dream of Irma’s injection especially disappointing, if only because the controversy of “Resistances” specifically concerns Freud’s refusal to complete a professional task, namely, to go beyond the navel of the dream. As we have seen, Derrida criticizes Freud in “Resistances” for not going far enough in analysis, even claiming that Freud’s inability to unravel the navel of the dream suggests a limit to psychoanalysis as a discourse. But it is my contention that Freud diverts his analysis of the Irma dream not only because psychoanalysis has reached its limit, but because, in a radically subjectivized way, he would prefer not to take the analysis any further. Just as Derrida does in the aforementioned examples from Of Grammatology and Specters of Marx, Freud expresses this concern, so crucial to Derrida’s reading in “Resistances,” merely as a preference decided upon pragmatically, not as an inherent limit. But unlike Derrida, Freud retains this gesture right up to the point of the impossible, thereby claiming as his vantage point the wisdom of his incomplete analysis. It is an act that surpasses even Bartleby’s, or perhaps a certain Bartleby’s--the Bartleby of Derrida’s admiration. Derrida, it seems, admires Bartleby for exercising his democratic rights, the right to say neither yes nor no, to neither respond nor not respond (“I Have” 26-27). But Freud sublates this situation by saying yes

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as an act of refusal: yes I will refuse to go further and yes I will proceed nevertheless and yes dreams are the fulfillments of wishes and yes I have arrived at that knowledge through an impossible act, and in spite of my incomplete analysis. Freud says yes—which, as Derrida notes, can only ever be an answer—and then asks us not to take yes for an answer. It is thus a special kind of affirmation that represents, at least for Derrida, a promise to the future and the very collapse of the idea of competence (Derrida Acts 274-275). Freud’s affirmative acts of refusal recall those of Beckett and Joyce—heroes of Derrida and Lacan alike—and deserve to be understood in such a context.6 Freud, faced with an impossible situation (I can’t go on), resolves nevertheless to complete his analysis (I’ll go on). And so he proceeds in a way strikingly reminiscent of Derrida’s “Ulysses Gramophone.” “Ulysses Gramophone” is a meditation on finding a way, through the affirmative, to claim one’s professional competence, to perform one’s professional interpretive duty responsibly, although the task assigned may be impossible. It therefore finds Derrida navigating the problematic deftly navigated by Freud in analyzing the dream of Irma’s injection. Derrida blanches at the impossible task of interpreting Joyce, given that Joyce’s many yeses produce a paradox: Joyce, after all, both invests in the future competence of interpretation and “simultaneously ruins the model” (Acts 282). This closely approximates Freud’s situation: Freud is inventing the method of dream analysis, even recommending it, even while he finds it impossible to complete. Freud, too, provides a cascade of yeses but does not take, nor supply, yes for an answer. Instead he provides a complicated kettle logic that, far from canceling itself out, renders impossible any distinction between professional competence and incompetence. “Even the concept of competence finds itself shaken by” a panoply of yeses that, through their contradictoriness, undo the possibility of any metadiscourse, any competence. Ulysses, after all, is both text and interpretation, both narration and commentary upon narration (Acts 282). For Derrida, the issue revolves around the necessity of locating the analysis of a text in the text itself, already there. And yet, once Freud is in that same situation, Derrida expresses concern about his acts of refusal, the limits of competence and analytic competence in general. Derrida is right that Freud is “neither able nor willing” to innovate: and yet, by affirming both of these in an unacknowledged instance of kettle logic, Freud overlays his inability with his unwillingness to produce something “complete,” despite its “gap.” It is not merely the behavior of Bartleby, who, as Derrida notes, says neither yes nor no, but rather the affirmation of the no, the no as an injunction to proceed, that embeds, as Derrida has promised it would, the future in the fabric of the present analysis. He is therefore in the position of “Bartleby’s” narrator: commenting upon a

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story of which he is already the main character, and ensuring the smooth operation of the professional (here, analytic) machinery at the very moment of its collapse. Attaining this perspective is important, because to assert otherwise is to overlook Freud’s own exploration of the question of responsibility. At first blush it might seem as if Freud has dreamed up Irma’s recalcitrance specifically to avoid becoming responsible: as he explains to Irma, “If you still get pains, it’s your own fault” (SE IV 108). (Says Melville’s narrator to Bartleby: “Surely you do not mean to persist in that mulish vagary?” [24]). Such is the knowledge provided by Freud’s analysis. The dream of Irma’s injection indeed reveals the lengths to which a dreamer can go to resist accepting responsibility for the welfare of another. For Derrida, such resistance is “the fault for which the patient is culpable . . . which is to say, by this failing, properly bound” (“Resistances” 7). Speaking from Freud’s perspective, Derrida explains that, as an analyst, “I am responsible for the analytic solution . . . but not for the resistance of the patient” (“Resistances” 8). But if we examine Freud’s unusual perspective on that knowledge, as opposed to merely the production of the acknowledgement itself, we find a fully, even radically, responsible mode of analysis: the vaunted analysis to come. Consider The Gift of Death, in which Derrida, offering a reading of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, distinguishes sharply between ethics and responsibility. To explain how doing one’s duty can still be unethical, and that conversely “[t]he ethical can . . . end up making us irresponsible,” Derrida offers us Kierkegaard’s Abraham, whose willingness to subjectivize the secret exemplifies the practice of duty over ethics (Gift 61). For Derrida, Abraham’s decision to sacrifice ethics to duty is an everyday event, “the most common thing” (Gift 69), and yet it marks the intervention of the absolute other, whose dissymmetrical gaze calls us into responsibility and makes us tremble. The central part in Abraham’s case, the navel of his situation, is that he doesn’t know God’s secret, making the potentially ethical path of disclosure also an impossible one. This is what makes it a pure secret, a navel rather than mere concern for personal “considerations that arise.” There is something of Abraham in Irma, as she accepts Freud’s solution with trembling, not exactly knowing what it will entail. We might note that, in his dream, Freud speaks to Irma as if he were God reproaching Abraham: “I at once took her to one side . . . to reproach her for not having accepted my ‘solution’ yet” (SE IV107). Irma, in the dream, proves entirely receptive to a different solution, this one equally alien and indeed presenting the gift of death, a gift that for her comes subcutaneously. As Freud shows, the substitution of one woman for another in his dream functions to shift the responsibility for the treatment onto the imSubStance #122, Vol. 39, no. 2, 2010

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perfections of his patient and the mistakes of other doctors: as he explains, “[i]t was as though the replacement of one person by another was to be continued in another sense: this Mathilde for that Mathilde, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (SE IV 112). This explanation is important because, in Derrida’s work, deconstruction “is a matter of suspending the strict economy of exchange, of payback, of giving and giving back” (Gift 102). To this effect, Derrida quotes Matthew: “You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you . . . whosoever shall smite thee on thy right check, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5: 38-39, quoted in Gift 102). This new economy is radical (in Derrida’s view) for its singularity, openness to alterity, and suspension of mercantile logic. It recalls Lacan’s treatment of the Abraham-Isaac myth as painted by Caravaggio, emphasizing El Shaddai’s role as the one who “chooses, . . . who promises, who causes a certain covenant,” but, most importantly, “who makes one wait” (Television 92). Such is the double bind, the radical act of refusal in the face of the impossible, that structures Freud’s dream analysis. And yet this logic of interiority, forgiveness, and faith is, as we know, not only alien to Freudian ethics but indeed utterly incomprehensible to Freud: long before he expressed his bewilderment at the injunction to love one’s neighbor in Civilization and its Discontents, he had maintained an economy of retaliation throughout The Interpretation of Dreams. For instance, in a 1909 Postscript to Chapter 1 of Interpretation, Freud expresses his resentment over the neglect of his work, explaining that “If there were such a thing in science as a right to retaliate, I should certainly be justified in my turn” (SE IV 93). And of course the dream of Irma’s injection is above all a dream of professional revenge against Otto and Dr. M (SE IV 118, 115). In his dream, then, Freud’s fulfilled wish would have him acting ethically, justifiably, but nevertheless irresponsibly. But it is crucial to differentiate the wishful logic of Freud’s dream from the more singular, accepting, and open stance that Freud takes in his dream analysis—we should remember that a five-year gap intervenes between the dream and its interpretation, and learn to read them together as a “whole.” Despite the preconscious dream logic of interchangeability, exchange, and revenge, Freud’s subsequent gesture—indeed the very gesture that so alarms Derrida—belongs exclusively to the economy described by Matthew. Derrida, quoting Matthew in the Gift of Death, quotes him at his most Freudian (“For where treasure is, there will your heart be also” [Matthew 6:21, quoted in Gift 98]), but, embroiled as he is in a discussion of hearts, eyes, and exchange economies, Derrida seems not to notice the Wo Es war structuring Matthew’s statement. When Freud diverts his analysis at the navel of the dream, when he claims that the arrested analysis is both inevitable and voluntary, when, at three points,
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he decides to go no further and so presses on, he opens his analysis to the future in a fully responsible way. It is especially significant given how inconsistent the gesture is with Freud’s usual ethic—that of revenge, exchanging Mathildes, and refusing to love one’s neighbor. Precisely in refusing to disentangle the navel of his dream and claiming that entanglement as his own subjective perspective, Freud behaves with a radical form of responsibility, if not ethics.7 Hence, given Freud’s sudden and uncharacteristic investments in alterity, the future, and acts of God, we must reconsider Lacan’s perspective. Conflating two discrete moments of Freud’s analysis, Lacan describes the navel as an “ultimately unknown centre—which is simply . . . that gap,” a gap where “something happens” (Seminar XI 23, 22). Lacan, however, stops short of an adequate explanation, arguing merely that this gap is the emergence of Freud’s unconscious itself (Seminar II 171). But we have found something else here—dare we call it an act of love—that undoes any possible distinction between conscious and unconscious thoughts, voluntary and involuntary behaviors. And, as Lacan explains in Seminar XI, “the unconscious finds itself, strictly speaking, on the opposite side to love” precisely because impediments to analysis, when experienced as such, produce “a gap” (Seminar XI 25). In this, we can observe that Freud’s gesture very neatly accords with the Lacanian definition of love: Freud is giving away something that he never had, that is, the fruits of a completed analysis, producing in this impossible gift “the linchpin of everything that had been instituted on the basis of analytic experience” (Seminar XX 39). Such is the love that Derrida awaits in “Resistances.” Freud has already delivered it, exhausted by the acts of analysis but “tireless as a postman” (Kierkegaard 69). When Freud discovers this gap in The Interpretation of Dreams and inhabits its perspective, it is indeed an obstacle but “at the same time, a solution” (Lacan Seminar XI 25). Derrida seems not to have noticed, or at least appreciated, Freud’s accomplishment. He wants more analysis, analysis to come, backhandedly confirming Lacan’s suspicion that “‘Encore’ is the proper name of the gap in the Other from which the demand for love stems” (Seminar XX 4). Freud too has developed a taste for the secret. And this involves him in the messianic, given that “the secret is not without an affinity for the sacred” such that the secret and sacred arrive “in a single act of birth” (Geneses 22). Freud is indeed a “knight of faith,” as Kierkegaard would have it (69). In this case, he delivers the birth of psychoanalysis and the culmination of deconstruction alike. In describing the ethical stakes of the Interpretation of Dreams (particularly the Father, can’t you see I’m burning? dream), Lacan praises Freud for stopping in the face of “a mystery that is simply the world of the beyond,

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and some secret or other” (Seminar XI 34). But, as Lacan and Derrida both fail to notice, Freud does not simply stop but proceeds by stopping. Reading the fateful footnote regarding the navel in this light, we see that Freud isn’t employing an alibi or even being unnecessarily timid. Rather, he is embodying responsibility itself, which is another name for the messianic aspect of deconstruction. He stops not because of any debt or principle of exchange, and not only because “further than this I could not see,” but also because he prefers not to go further. He has subjectivized the inhuman perspective of the creator, staring forth from the perspective of the gap, thus replicating the gaze of alterity itself : as Derrida would have it, “God sees me, he looks into me in secret . . . he looks at me while facing me and not, like an analyst, from behind my back” (Derrida Gift 91). These lines of inquiry have returned us, appropriately enough, to our own point of origin, namely, Lacan’s question about the Irma dream: “Of course there must be a psychology of the creator. But . . . is it the lesson we must draw from what takes place in the dream of Irma’s injection?” (Seminar II 148). Having observed the complexity of Freud’s analysis and Derrida’s critique, we must answer this question with a no at the level of the analysis’s content but yes at the level of its rhetorical structure. This is a different lesson from the one that Lacan draws: he sees merely the existence of an unconscious beyond and outside of the ego, one built out of language that forces the subject to decompose and disappear (Seminar II 159, 170). Derrida calls such “linguisticism” “a very serious problem” in Lacan’s work, generally, and indeed a betrayal of Freudian psychoanalysis (The Ear 108-109). But we can go further than this. No, we need not attend to the “psychology of the creator” in drawing the “lesson” from Freud’s Irma analysis: indeed, such a “lesson”—or any lesson—would be impossible, given Freud’s claim that the analysis will reveal its lessons only once the analysis is completed, and given Freud’s acknowledgment that, voluntarily and necessarily, he has not completed the analysis. And yet we have found that this very act of refusal, forcing together the necessary and impossible through the gesture of refusal, reveals “the lesson” of “the creator” in a more Derridean sense, the “creator” insofar as it points us toward a suspension of a Freudian exchange economy and heralds the messianic arrival of the deconstruction to come. As Lacan notes, “anyone would seem like a god besides such absurd automata” as populate the Irma dream (Seminar II 156). In such a setting and in analyzing it afterward, Freud creates a form of analysis that can be faithful to the secret of the navel, whatever Derrida’s concerns to the contrary. As Derrida has argued, “In truth, deconstruction = creation,” insofar as “a certain ‘deconstruction’ ironically recognizes the signature of God himself—or at least of the ‘creator’s power’” (On Touching 327n.47).

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Such power is precisely what Freud has “created” here, performing the very gesture of the impossible which, Derrida speculates, will solve the impasses of psychoanalysis in times to come. Such is a feat worthy of commemoration: hence we might say that on July 24th, 1895 the secret of dreams was revealed to Dr. Sigmund Freud, a secret that would retain its secrecy, indeed one that could be better grasped in times to come, given that, as Freud concedes, “at the moment there seems little prospect of it” (SE IV 121n.1). As Freud could remind Derrida, the present tense is the one in which the wishes of dreams are always fulfilled, including, apparently, Derrida’s own (SE V 534-5). University of Idaho
I wish to thank Peter Schwenger and Chad Loewen-Schmidt for their insightful responses to earlier drafts of this essay.
1. No one, having read Derrida even in the slightest, could maintain the Lacanian position of a “whole” text. Such a text, of course, exists nowhere, but is especially incomprehensible in the case of Irma’s injection: it is a text without discrete edges. After all, Freud returns to Irma at several intervals in The Interpretation, often many hundreds of pages after the initial analysis, to add to it, for instance so he can revise the navel metaphor by comparing dream-thoughts to the growth of a mushroom (SE V 525). Moreover, much of its content, including the initial commentary on the navel, was appended in footnotes by Freud, or, as with the imagined plaque commemorating the revelation of the secret of dreams, added later by editors. The Interpretation of Dreams underwent continual revision during Freud’s lifetime as more and more material was incorporated. 2. We should note that Freud, seemingly disagreeing with Derrida’s assessment, describes the superego resistance as “the most powerful factor” and “the one most dreaded by us” in “The Question of Lay Analysis” (SE XX: 224). 3. Derrida pursued this conversation throughout his career, from “Freud and the Scene of Writing” in Writing and Difference to his skeptical but close readings of Freud and Lacan in The Post Card, as well as through the work of students Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy (Derrida’s “pawns,” as Lacan bitterly puts it in Seminar XX [65]). 4. Derrida’s approach to Bartleby differs significantly from Slavoj Žižek’s. Žižek has lauded Bartleby’s “aggressive passivity,” offering “Bartleby politics” as the antidote for liberal-bourgeois “passive aggressiveness” (Parallax 381-385). This is indeed a good way to understand the difference between Melville’s Bartleby and Joyce’s more passiveaggressive scrivener Farrington. Whereas Žižek sees in Bartleby a gesture of political renewal, Derrida values Bartleby precisely for the uncertain nature of his political impact: as Derrida sees it, Bartleby’s gesture thwarts the democratic imperative “to answer,” a concept which, for Derrida, implies a certain “subjective responsibility” on the part of the citizen: says Derrida, “as a result democracy is never ensured and will never be” (“A Taste” 26). Far from being a surefire cure for political insincerity, Bartleby’s silence always might not be revolutionary, in Derrida’s view. Hence Derrida’s interest in Bartleby’s former employment at a dead letter office (Resistances 24). 5. We should note here that Lacan interprets Abraham’s feelings quite differently, emphasizing Abraham’s preference to “shed a little blood” as he slices off a little piece of flesh that will ultimately function as the petit a of anxiety (Television 93-94). 6. Lacan begins Seminar XVI by pretending to inhabit Beckett’s Endgame (13.11.68 I 1); he devotes Seminar XXIII to Joyce. Sounding more than a little Derridean in addressing his

Notes

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own audience, Lacan admits that “You must be thinking that, when it comes to Joyce, I’m like a fish with an apple” (Seminar XXIII 23). Derrida, himself a fish with an apple, carefully considers the yeses that echo through the end of Ulysses in “Ulysses Gramophone: Hear Say Yes in Joyce”; Beckett, he says elsewhere, “is an author to whom I feel very close” (Acts of Literature 253-306, 60). 7. In this, Freud once again recalls Melville’s “Bartleby,” which too formulates “the question of moral responsibility” in reference to the inhuman horror of the neighbor (Miller 141).

Copjec, Joan. Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 1994. Derrida, Jacques. Acts of Literature. Ed. Derek Attridge. New York: Routledge, 1992. ---. The Ear of the Other: Otobiography, Transference, Translation. Trans. Peggy Kamuf. Ed. Christie McDonald. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1988. ---. “I Have a Taste For the Secret.” A Taste For The Secret. Trans. Giacomo Donis. Eds. Giacomo Donis and David Webb. Cambridge: Polity, 2001. 1-93. ---. Geneses, Genealogies, Genres and Genius: The Secrets of the Archive. Trans. Beverley Bie Brahic. New York: Columbia UP, 2008. ---. The Gift of Death. Trans. David Wills. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1995. ---. Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971-2001. Ed. and trans. Elizabeth Rottenberg. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2002. ---. Of Grammatology. Corrected ed. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1997. ---. “Passions: ‘An Oblique Offering.’” Trans. David Wood, John P. Leavey, Jr., and Ian McLeod. On the Name. Ed. Thomas Dutoit. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1995. 3-35. ---. The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1987. ---. “Psychoanalysis Searches the States of Its Soul: The Impossible Beyond of a Sovereign Cruelty (Address to the States General of Psychoanalysis).” Without Alibi. Ed. and Trans. Peggy Kamuf. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2002. 238-280. ---. “Resistances.” Trans. Peggy Kamuf, Pascale-Anne Brault, and Michael Naas. Resistances of Psychoanalysis. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998. 1-38. ---. Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International. Trans. Peggy Kamuf. New York: Routledge, 1994. Derrida, Jacques and Elisabeth Roudinesco. “In Praise of Psychoanalysis.” For What Tomorrow…A Dialogue. Trans. Jeff Fort. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2004. 166-196. Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. 24 vols. Trans. James Strachey. London: Hogarth, 1964. Joyce, James. “Counterparts.” Dubliners. New York: Signet, 1991. 84-97. Kamuf, Peggy. “Preface.” A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds. Ed. Peggy Kamuf. New York: Columbia UP, 1991. xvii-xii. Kierkegaard, Søren. Fear and Trembling. Trans. Alastair Hannay. London: Penguin, 1985. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. New York: Norton, 1988. ---. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Trans. Alan Sheridan. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. New York: Norton, 1978. ---. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XVI: From an Other to the other 1968-1969. Trans. Cormac Gallagher. Unpublished seminar translated from unedited French manuscripts. ---. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX: On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge, Encore 1972-1973. Trans. Bruce Fink. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. New York: Norton, 1998.

Works Cited

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---. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XXIII: Le Sinthome 1975-6. Trans. Luke Thurston. Unpublished translation based upon Ornicar? 6-11, 1976-7, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. ---. Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Establishment. Ed. Joan Copjec. Trans. Denis Hollier, Rosalind Krauss, Annette Michelson, and Jeffrey Mehlman. New York: Norton, 1990. Melville, Herman. “Bartleby the Scrivener.” The Piazza Tales and other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860. Ed. Harrison Hayford et. al. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1987. 13-45. Miller, J. Hillis. Versions of Pygmalion. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1990. Westphal, Merold. Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism. New York: Fordham UP, 1998. Žižek, Slavoj. “The Fear of Four Words: A Modest Plea for the Hegelian Reading of Christianity.” The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic. Ed. Creston Davis. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2009. 24-109. ---. The Metastases of Enjoyment: Six Essays on Woman and Causality. New York: Verso, 1994. ---. The Parallax View. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2006.

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