The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs

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The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs: Sign, Sinthome And Play Janet Lucas

This article proceeds directly from "Lacan and Origami: A Three-Tiered Approach to Psychosis." In that article, I develop a theory of psychosis that takes a specifically topographical and semiotic approach to Schreber's Memoirs. One of the central postulates–the third tier–is that upon the semiotic collision1 with the 'rent'2 or 'abyss' in place of the foreclosed signifier (the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father), the signifying structure of the latent psychotic shatters, and the connection to the Øther3 (as barred Other) breaks. To the extent that the link with the Øther is severed, there are no 'real' others; only 'fleeting-improvised-men,' or evanescent elements of Schreber's shattered signifying structure.4 With Schreber's signifying structure quite literally in pieces, there is no longer a master signifier, a point de capiton to 'secure' his position in the world (existentially speaking). As such, he occupies various places (various identities) via the continual recombination (the glissement) of these signifying fragments.5 Insofar as there is nothing to 'hold the world in place,' Schreber and his 'universe' continually shift in a kaleidoscopic manner. Moreover, as I argue in "Lacan and Origami,", to the extent that his signifying structure shatters, where his signifying elements (or clusters) exist as orphaned fragments, they can be reconnected with almost limitless variation. 'Almost,' because again in Schreber's case (and as I will argue), the semiotic architecture of his delusional 'reconstruction' is largely dependent upon the relation between the foreclosed signifier and its substitute. Science as the Sinthome It is my principal argument that Schreber uses science as a substitute–a barrier or a rim that maintains Schreber at a distance from the term he foreclosed, i.e., religion (the symbolic legacy of his father). Science as such, functions as the sinthome, i.e., the fourth term6 or ring (Lacan, Seminar XXIII, 17) that binds together the imaginary, the symbolic and the real, and simultaneously maintains a semiotic distance from the place of the foreclosed signifier. Lacan's earlier topology, e.g., Schema R (Écrits, 197) as depicted and discussed in "Lacan and Origami" does not allow for this conceptualization. That is, in Lacan's earlier work, there would be nothing but imaginary identifications to 'hold together' Schreber's make-shift psychic (and pre-psychotic) structure. With the introduction of the sinthome, however, an entire ideology can 'stand-in' for the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father. Now this is not to argue that it is synonymous with this grounding signifier; however, the introduction of the sinthome does provide us with another means of comprehending how, specifically, Schreber

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The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs

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managed to stave off a psychotic break until well into mid-life.

[Figure 1: The Sinthome]7

Science and the Law: Schreber's Illegitimacy Insofar as science exists in a dichotomous relation to religion, i.e., it is what religion is not (i.e., religion is based upon 'faith,' whereas science bases itself on 'empirical fact'), science is particularly well suited to this task. Furthermore, as a dominant discourse, science is governed by a definite set of laws based on logic and rationality. In other words, science brings order to chaos. In a semiotic 'universe' that is quite literally predicated upon nothing, the 'structuring' capacity of science cannot be underestimated. However, when science does eventually prove inadequate, when Flechsig (as a man of science) proves incapable of curing Schreber's 'nervous condition,' this semiotic distance collapses. This point is essential in determining the specific nature of Schreber's (second) psychotic break. The argument in general circulation is that in assuming the position of Senatspräsident to the Superior Court, Schreber is confronted with men who are in superior positions, and as such represent the father. Thus, try as he may, Schreber can not approximate this position; he found himself lacking (which was subsequently turned into a God that was lacking). Put another way, Schreber is called upon by the Law to a position for which he has no answer. The task was all the heavier and demanded all the more tact in my personal dealing with the members of the panel of five Judges over which I had to preside, as almost all of them were much senior to me (up to twenty years), and anyway they were much more intimately acquainted with the procedure of the Court, to which I was a newcomer" (Memoirs, MH 63-64, D 47). However, if we closely examine the Memoirs, it becomes clear that it is not Schreber's inability to carry out the tasks required of him, but rather, it is when (in his own words), he "had largely mastered the difficulties of settling down in [his] new office and in [his] new residence" (Memoirs, MH 63-64, D 47) that he experiences his (second) break. In other words, it is not that Schreber is 'in over his head.' Rather, because the signifier of

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The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs

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the Name-of-the-Father (as that which functions as a 'third term' and as such secures his place and his continuity in a overriding kinship structure), is not available to Schreber because it is foreclosed, there is no legitimate place for him in the Law8. Thus it is in illegitimately (albeit 'successfully') occupying the place of Senatspräsident to the Superior Court–the realm of Law–that triggers Schreber's psychotic break. To the extent that foreclosure of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father excludes the subject from the Symbolic Order–the realm of society and culture–psychosis often involves a profound disturbance in the realm of kinship relations9, and specifically names10. Schreber thus contends that the 'rent' in the 'universe' was instigated through the unlawful usurpation of proper name and 'place' of the forebears of Schreber and Flechsig–a 'crime' he equates with 'soul murder.' I want to say by way of introduction that the leading roles in the genesis of this development, the first beginnings of which go back perhaps as far as the eighteenth century, were played on the one hand by the names of Flechsig and Schreber (probably not specifying any individual member of these families), and on the other by the concept of soul murder (Memoirs, MH 54, D 33, emphasis mine). 'Soul murder' becomes the loss of one's name, or more specifically, the loss of one's legitimate place, one's right to exist as a subject of the Law. To the extent that the Symbolic Order–the overarching structure governing kinship relations– establishes one's legitimacy, one's right to exist and be recognized as a subject of the Law, such a loss would constitute 'soul murder.' Insofar as Flechsig specializes in nerves, Schreber (paranoically) believes that by acting upon his nerves11, Flechsig 'steals' his soul. (Memoirs, 54-55, D 33) In this capacity, Flechsig (as a signifier) plays leading role in Schreber's delusion. Allow me to reiterate this point. While Schreber's illegitimate position in relation to the Law drives his psychic structure to its very limits (hence Schreber's heightened anxiety), science (as a discourse) still maintains the necessary distance from the place of foreclosure. Because science still functions as the master signifier par excellance (the discourse that 'grounds' Schreber's universe), Schreber turns to Flechsig–a man of science and a 'nerve' specialist–to cure his 'nervous illness.' In this capacity, Flechsig is the 'representative' of the sinthome, that which maintains the necessary distance from the place of the foreclosed signifier. Flechsig's inability to relieve Schreber's 'condition' however, simultaneously reveals the inability of science to function as the sinthome. It is thus my argument that when Flechsig is 'exposed' as incapable of 'curing' Schreber, and as such, science is 'exposed' as incapable of continuing to function as a substitute, Schreber collides with the abyss in place of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father, i.e., he confronts a thoroughly inept God who is (not surprisingly) 'embarrassingly exposed.' From this point on, science in and of

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MH 102. To further illustrate this point. Because Schreber no longer has a relation to the Øther13. In fact. through the concentration of literalized nerves). Schreber as the Master Signifier par excellance 4 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . emphasis mine) or "[i]t is demanded of me to relate to myself everything that happens" (Memoirs. quite literally). D 138). D 158] is still thinking insofar as Schreber must "not-think-of-anything" incessantly). (As an aside. MH 197. it is incumbent upon Schreber.com/semofmem. the center of his signifying universe.' he would become redundant–indeed a "frivolous human being" (Memoirs.' i." (Memoirs. indeed his most profound duty. consider the clause "[l]acking now is only the leading idea.. Through his delusion (and as I will demonstrate.' and thoroughly inept 'God' . emphasis mine). Schreber saw them as merely "theater props" (Memoirs. i. MH 130.' or as his delusion manifests. Put another way.) The Break with the Øther This semiotic collapse severs Schreber's relation to the Øther and leaves Schreber (quite literally) on his own.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. That is." to which Schreber responds "we the rays have no thoughts"15 (Memoirs. his illness had advanced to the state that all people and even surroundings were 'derealized. he must fill the emptiness. D 100).. by the time Schreber left for Pierson's Asylum (the "Devil's Kitchen") in approximately mid-June 1894. or sinthome that maintains Schreber at a safe distance from the place of the foreclosed signifier–from what must remain at a distance.lacan. MH 234. he must rebuild his signifying structure within a closed Imaginary circuit. D 138). a circuit where he himself functions as the master signifier par excellance. Schreber establishes his place as the 'ground' of the universe. Schreber can now only imagine himself as real to the extent that he is (again. and restore it so that it again makes sense. D 235. D. it is hardly surprising that Schreber associates the withdrawal of 'rays' (or nerves) with becoming a "frivolous human being given only to the pleasures of the moment" (Memoirs. Schreber is positioned in this 'empty' semiotic place–the place of 12 foreclosure–alongside an 'empty. As the master signifier par excellance.e. 'meaning' is achieved only to the extent that it is incorporated in and through Schreber14. resolve the futility of the world. MH 129. Schreber thus asserts that "I lived in the belief–and it is still my conviction that this is the truth–that I had to solve one of the most intricate problems ever set for man and that I had to fight a sacred battle for the greatest good of mankind" (Memoirs. If he were to lose this 'ground. Schreber must do the thinking (e. Schreber asserts categorically that "everything that happens is in reference to me..e. with the distance breached. to repopulate this rotting world through his feminized body16. D 139). 233. MH 144. D 199). This is an important point. MH 129. Consequently. MH 198. it can be argued that Schreber's delusion–the construction of a hybrid discourse–functions as the new sinthome. Within this context. even the "so-called not-thinking-of-anything-thought" [Memoirs.g. In other words. to 're-compose.htm itself can no longer function as the barrier.

it is as though in this 'big bang'17. being full of nerves20. [Schreber's disconnected. are somehow mechanically fastened21 at their point of issue [Schreber's head]. The expulsion of Schreber's (now) disconnected and. where 'feminine' is associated with 'fullness' and 'abundance.' nerves manifest as "extraordinarily delicate structures–comparable to the finest filaments" (Memoirs. Insofar as Schreber's nerves are the literal infrastructure of his nascent universe. Put another way. Schreber's signifying elements shoot out and disseminate18 into an externalized universe filled with planets and stars– God's 'outposts' (Memoirs. In elucidating this phenomena.. unrecognizable signifying structure. the implosion of a semiotic distance effects a semiotic explosion where signifying elements (manifesting in Schreber's delusion as 'celestial bodies') disseminate throughout the 'universe. they are also the means that (in his delusion) constantly threaten to destroy it. Schreber's 'nervousness' is both the literal means of installing himself as the center of the universe–the master signifier par excellance–and (ironically) that which constantly threatens to undermine his position.lacan.. is Schreber himself as the master signifier par excellance–the signifier to which all other signifiers in Schreber's closed Imaginary circuit are eventually 're-pinned' (Memoirs.e. as such. externalized and unrecognizable signifying structure]... the whole group of stars that must be drawn together into a single sun. This is particularly evident in what Schreber designates as the "flight of rays" (Memoirs. MH 84. Schreber asks the reader to envision a scenario where . Schreber's assertion that "the whole solar system would now have to be disconnected. all eventually connected and united within Schreber19 through a feminine 'soul-voluptuousness. D 75) epitomizes his (seemingly divine) task. his 'cure' consists in their reincorporation. as 'concretized' rays of God (the foreclosed signifying element Schreber is attempting to reconcile).htm Essential to the argument I am putting forth in my thesis. to the extent that they are elements of the foreclosed signifier. unrecognizable signifying elements appears to turn his 'universe' inside out..' i.e. D 59)–all connected by 'rays' or nerves (lesser or greater souls). the means he uses to reconstruct his universe. MH 45. D 147). In keeping with the precarious nature of Schreber's 'nervous condition. or rather. D 19. The Schreberian Universe: A Bundle of Nerves Nerves are the most over-determined signifying element in the Memoirs–appearing no fewer than four hundred times. i.the whole group of stars had to be drawn together into a single sun" (Memoirs. Indeed. which travel around one single 5 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM .com/semofmem.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www.the rays of a whole world. i.e.' Insofar as these 'celestial bodies' are Schreber's own signifying elements (even though he does not recognize them as such). is that Schreber's 'universe' is in actuality the expulsion of his own disconnected and as such. D 75). MH 72.. the whole solar system that must now be disconnected is the unpinning of Schreber's signifying structure. and significantly. emphasis mine). MH 136.. MH 84. To elaborate.

emphasis mine). The 'literalization' of Schreber's signifying structure occurs both on a macro. connotations are reduced to denotations. to actively (even if it is undertaken passively) reconstruct his signifying structure. in the latter case (Flechsig's soul). albeit delusionally) exists without a stomach. is compressed into a ball and subsumed in Schreber's belly (where Schreber could not 'stomach him').e. as Schreber states. D 147). in fact. this 'literalization' is evidenced in Schreber's delusional belief that the contents of his head and his spinal cord were being "pumped out. they therefore tended to look down on all eating and drinking with some disdain.htm head [as in orbiting a celestial body] and attempt to tear it asunder and pull it apart in a fashion comparable to quartering" (Memoirs. In both cases.. e. and various denotations themselves are collapsed into a concrete singular meaning (nerves. which was followed by a funeral procession. Flechsig's soul is 'thrown' into Schreber's belly where it manifests as a 'bulky bundle' that Schreber compares with a "volume of wadding or cobweb" (Memoirs. This 'push and pull' dynamic is characteristic of the Imaginary realm. abstractions are reduced to the concrete. and enjoyment of food–Schreber (literally. MH 91. "[i]n view of its size it would in any case probably have been impossible to retain this soul in my belly. (like a 'puff of smoke') where they might "vanish into [thin] air" in order to make him demented (Memoirs.in the form of little clouds. At this time (and in close proximity in the Memoirs).e... However. it is as though it is compressed." i. as such.g. MH 92. it incites Schreber to action. i. when the 'souls' renounce the implications of Schreber's corporeality– specifically his need for." (Memoirs.e. D 147).lacan. these elements are depicted as a web or a sort of network.com/semofmem. I existed frequently without a stomach (Memoirs. MH 135. It is worth noting at this point that Schreber explicitly states that he had a vision where Flechsig shot himself.. or their manifestation 6 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . literalization. Later for a time the miracles were in preference directed against my stomach.e. When we situate these delusional manifestations in semiotic terms. i. and that he should be reduced to size. partly because the souls begrudged me the sensual pleasured connected with the taking in of food. because it involves rivalry. Schreber asserts as an axiom that "the human soul is contained in the nerves of the body. MH 45. referring to himself as "God Flechsig" (Memoirs.(universal) and a micro-level. D 86). macro (the universe) and micro (Flechsig). As another case in point of this psychotic literalization... it could be argued that the Imaginary realm is particularly well suited for this reconstruction. i. This sentence attests to another key feature of psychotic language. Schreber felt that Flechsig had exceeded himself. D 144. emphasis mine). D 19.. For example. As a final case in point. MH 92.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. MH 136. partly because they considered themselves superior to human beings who require earthly nourishments. to digest it so to speak" (Memoirs. Flechsig. D 86). D 86). MH 133.

nor can He contain his nerve. this semiotic collapse manifests as a literal proliferation. he cannot create. MH 204. rather than securing the universe. MH 69. rather. emphasis mine). his own small others. i." Schreber designates this "state 7 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM .. D 21.lacan.e.' as an inept master signifier. An entirely new light is thus shed on the well-known word of the Bible: "He created man in His image and in the image of God created He him. continually loses his nerve(s)22 and as such. i.. "They [the rays] have in particular the faculty of transforming themselves into all things of the created world.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. while Schreber claims that rays must create. in this capacity they are called rays.com/semofmem. nerves as literalized souls (or rays) 'speak' in a manner consisting in the vibration of nerves approximating the movement of vocal chords (Memoirs. these two disparate denotations (not to mention connotations) are collapsed into the concrete.. i. D 228-229. and herein lies the essence of divine creation" (Memoirs. i. And we are not simply dealing with Schreber's physical nerves. 'God. i. Put another way.e. D 144).e.' i. the only others (souls) Schreber encounters are himself.. nerve-filled). emphasis mine) and "great changeability is a marked feature of the soul-character" (Memoirs. is an innate potentiality of divine rays. Moreover. MH 46. female being. or unbarred. perverse. D 243. This passage attests to another key feature of Schreber's delusion. Insofar as Schreber is "filled with nerves of voluptuousness from the top of [his] head to the soles of [his] feet" (Memoirs. to the extent Schreber exists within a closed Imaginary circuit. to the extent that Schreber no longer has access to the Øther.. transforms Schreber into a voluptuous (i. In other words.one must assume therefore that the capacity to be transformed into a human shape or become a human being. This reduction of abstractions to the concrete–this literalization–is particularly striking in what Schreber refers to as 'nerve language. language (arguably the exemplar of abstraction) is reduced to concrete action.e. D 144). Schreber makes this explicit in the following passage: .. despite the manifestation of Schreber's delusion to create a new world (or to be the instrument of this creation).."[a]s a rule God did not interfere directly in the fate of peoples or individuals.e. Schreber conflates his 'nervous illness' (generally understood as a state of mind. the massive influx of rays (manifesting as 'nerves').e.htm as [divine] rays are the exemplar of this phenomenon). however. cannot 'ground' the universe. status-seeking big Others. this creation is in fact a transformation of that which already exists. bring forth something new. MH 193-194. which no human being has so far dared to do (Memoirs. D 54). MH 134. Schreber thus asserts that "great changeability is a marked feature of the soul-character" (Memoirs. an abstraction) with the excitability of his physical nerves.e. or in semiotic terms.. Having said this. emphasis mine). MH 134.. In a very definite sense then." It appears that this passage from the Bible has to be understood literally. rather all 'souls' in Schreber's 'universe' exist as literalized nerves (or rays).. he can only transform. i.e. In this world turned inside-out. reconnect and reorganize his disconnected signifying elements.

externalized signifying structure).e. MH 48. MH 94.. This state of Blessedness is mainly a state of voluptuous enjoyment. which for its full development needs the fantasy of either being or wishing to be a female being.e. Instead. he must continually negate himself by 'sacrificing' to a greater good. and would thus endanger His own existence" (Memoirs. emphasis mine).' as a sort of 'Great Mother.' (Here we get a glimpse of Schreber's pre-psychotic 'distance' from 8 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . that Schreber regains himself (albeit as a literal 'bundle of nerves'). Indeed one could argue that to the extent Schreber is 'occupied' by holy thoughts (literalized rays of 'God'). D 135). Schreber speaks of this task throughout the Memoirs as a task he does not desire.. 'absorbing' or 'soaking up' rays. Schreber does not 'own' himself. he cannot 'occupy' himself. and religion [or 'God']. as a man. conditions remain in accordance with the Order of the World. Thus as counter-intuitive as it may sound... by incorporating (or reincorporating) the nerves of corpses into Himself. To resolve this 'universal crisis24. e.. D 90) or 'soaking up' rays (which are in fact his own disconnected. Schreber's 'propped-up' signifying structure functions provided this distance is maintained23. D 291. In other words. it is the collapse of distance (between science. He didn't need to approach the living human being. Schreber's 'universe' consists only of him). Now Schreber contends that when conditions are in accordance with the Order of the world. D 23). have such power of attraction for the nerves of God that He would not be able to free Himself from them again.' Schreber reincorporates himself by 'absorbing' (Memoirs. which naturally is not to my taste. just as living human being didn't need to approach 'God. Schreber further contends that "the nerves of living human beings particularly when in a state of high-grade excitation. I must however submit to the necessity of the Order of the World which forces me to accept these ideas. it becomes more of a 'habit'–a necessary nuisance. MH 240. (Memoirs.com/semofmem. emphasis mine). As I have emphasized. MH 127. 'God' was (necessarily) self-sufficient.. 'God' deals only with 'dead' nerves.e.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. However. the foreclosed signifier) that triggers Schreber's psychotic break. In a very definite sense then. he does not. to the extent that he must to do this incessantly. he indicates that he "considered absolute passivity almost a religious duty" (Memoirs. i. with the Order of the World" Insofar as 'God' (as a signifier) maintains His distance. but one that he firmly believes is necessary if the Order of the World is to be restored25. and cannot (given his closed Imaginary circuit) introduce the quality of negation characteristic of radical Øtherness. i. the substitute master signifier.g. i. While Schreber does insert himself as the master signifier par excellance. MH 48. he negates himself–and in particular.htm of affairs [as] in accordance (Memoirs.lacan. However–and this is decisive–rather than re-establishing distance (an impossible task given that despite appearances. it is in the very act of negating himself. D 24.

to say the least. MH 80. it is clear that 'God' (or religion) did not and could not function as the master signifier par excellance.' As such.. not to have begun to doubt. From this passage. i. However.Nor was I (in my youth) a truly believing person in the sense of our positive religion. the literal truth of all Christian religious teachings (Memoirs. In establishing the law rather than deferring to it. it remains inadequate even as it is inserted with certainty.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. make no mistake. should not be disturbed in their happiness.. it was his own law. e..e. 'God' (or religion) represents the symbolic legacy of Schreber's father. Regardless of whether it is performed by an actual father. a kibbutz) the function of the father is to situate the child in a larger order–the order of Law and society. one whose practices (particularly in the area of childhood pedagogy) had a significant impact on German society at the time28. Thus when Schreber confronts the rent in his signifying structure. Moritz Schreber functioned as a real father–a particular–rather than the representative of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father–a universal. to introduce a third term into the family (or group) dyad. . and moreover even with a very authoritarian father. However.. yet not inclined toward it either. it sublates the law of the family to the Law of society. it is to give the child a legitimate place in the Symbolic order–the realm of society and culture. i. The father function opens the family dynamics. D 70. particularly with the works based on the so-called modern doctrine of evolution.e. rather than demonstrating that he was also subject to a higher law (the Law of society as a whole). was a religious crusader.g.. This is an essential point–particularly in our analysis of Schreber and the Memoirs. rather I avoided talking much about religious matters and I had the feeling that people who had luckily retained in their later years a pious child's belief. emphasis mine). Schreber's father (Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber27 [1808-1861]). a mother. i. Specifically. The Law of the Father The symbolic legacy of the father brings to the fore the function of the father.e.htm 'God' and religion. Schreber is compelled to insert 'God'/ religion into his signifying structure. while 'God' is not a grounding master signifier for Schreber.com/semofmem. or even a communal organization. But neither have I been at any time contemptuous of religion. this distance manifests as a sort of disinterest in religion. the father function can prove inadequate even with the father present. insofar as his father's symbolic legacy is religion–a legacy and/or grounding signifier Schreber rejects (or forecloses)–he encounters a void in the place of 'God26. to the very extent that religion was inadequate as a master signifier prior to Schreber's psychotic break.. and while 9 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM .e.lacan. The introduction of the third term is often referred to specifically as 'triangulating' the mother-child dyad. i. he was not averse to it.) Before Schreber's psychotic break.. But for my own part I had occupied myself too much with the natural sciences. While Schreber's father did set down the law. However.

D 53 ) inaugurates the end of the world as the latent psychotic understands it. As such. Again. 84. the distance separating the two realms30. To the extent that Schreber's father functioned as a real father (versus a symbolic father). 75.com/semofmem. 'God' (quite literally) loses Himself29 (Memoirs. In other words. the psychotic experiences the break with the Øther as the 'end of the world. 'God' is "exposed as obscene and perverse. emphasis in original).htm Moritz Schreber represented himself as 'God's servant. science as the substitute master signifier that functions in place of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father. Flechsig as a man of science and a 'nerve' specialist).lacan. While under normal circumstances (conditions in accordance with the Order of the World). MH 48. i. must not collide with foreclosed signifier (this collision would result in a collapse). Schreber's makeshift structure collapses. It is important to note however. MH 69.. D 53. Schreber's 'place' is precarious. conditions are now contrary to the Order of the World. Put another way. 'bliss' is obtained via a dispassionate detachment (according to standards of sexual decorum.e. it is hardly surprising that Schreber embraced the laws of science–the (universal) realm of Man." Insofar as there was no longer anything standing between Schreber and the abyss in the place of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. and with it. he was incapable of inserting Schreber into the realm of society as a universal Law. The Psychotic/Semiotic Collision: Science and Religion As I have discussed. As an important aside. 'God' (as the foreclosed 10 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . where order (albeit precarious) is reduced to chaos. Schreber's signifying structure (or 'foundation') breaks into pieces. that is. when science proves inadequate (specifically. that science is still a substitute. it is not simply that Schreber 'chose' science over religion.' This is readily apparent in the Memoirs where Schreber asserts that "very early on [in his delusion] there predominated in recurrent nightly visions the notion of an approaching end of the world. as a consequence of the indissoluble connection between God and myself" (Memoirs. and the scientific method). 155.' 'God' (as a signifier) answered to Moritz Schreber. With the distance breached. In other words. 128. With the distance breached. And it is not inconsequential that a fragment of Schreber's (now) disconnected signifying structure is positioned such that Schreber views himself as a 'danger' to 'God'. there was no symbolic 'place' for Schreber (existentially speaking). MH 84. 101. Thus it is indeed necessary to maintain a distance from that which would reveal his 'universe' to be predicated upon nothing. God. but rather. Schreber's most effective strategy to 'ground' himself in society (a structure where he has a 'place') is to take science (the realm of Man) as the signifier to ground all other signifiers. and as such. in failing to keep His distance. to the extent that the father function was not grounded in the realm of an overarching symbolic and universal Law. it is dangerous for 'God' to approach man because in man. D 24). which in Schreber's delusion manifests as "indissoluble contact with God" (Memoirs. breaching the distance between the foreclosed signifier.

then the 'delusion' of by body being to a large extent subject to the influence of divine miracles must appear in a very different light even to a wider circle of people. unreliable. MH 204-205. upon closer reading. D 245. as this analysis will demonstrate.e. science (in and of itself) is ultimately ineffectual. he writes with meticulous detail). i.. it appears that Schreber is attempting to insert 'God' as the master signifier par excellance. D 122.lacan. emphasis in original).' and science is woefully inadequate to explain its ways. Truth (or rather truth) is literally combined or 'united' in and through Schreber's literalized body. upon an initial reading of the Memoirs. the cause is 'soul murder' and the effects are conditions contrary to the Order of the World.I am subjectively certain that my body–as I have repeatedly stated in consequence of divine miracles–shows such organs to an extent as only occurs in the female body" (Memoirs. (And. Should such an examination confirm that I am correct in what I assert. and cannot resist urges of the moment (or see beyond the moment)... and he adheres to the scientific method (specifically. it cannot explain the religious implications of his condition. Schreber's 'God' is stupid..g. This is particularly evident in phrases such as a "mechanical fastening" which led to the practice of "tying-to-rays" and later "tying-to-celestial-bodies" (Memoirs. Thus Schreber's nascent signifying structure involves a 'marriage' of sorts between the discourses of Religion ('God') and Science (Flechsig and Reason)31. the entire Memoirs plays out this endeavor.) While. that my whole body is filled with nerves of voluptuousness from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. This is yet another example of Schreber continually introducing religious or 'unscientific' terms into a scientifically-oriented discourse. However. In this way. such as is the case only in the adult female body.. the principles of cause and effect).htm signifier) is experienced as invasive. i. Schreber himself must take on the monumental task of assembling a 'hybrid' discourse by interweaving various elements (signifying fragments and/or clusters) of science and religion. emphasis 11 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . as far as I know. yet religion (in and of itself) is also ineffectual.) That I would at all times be prepared to submit my body to medical examination for ascertaining whether my assertion is correct. nerves of voluptuousness are only found in and immediately around the sexual organs. these discourses are literally combined or 'united' in and through Schreber's literalized body. it is altogether clear that this 'God' lacks the strength to support Schreber's signifying 'universe.e. 'God'/religion–Schreber must reconcile these discourses..e.e. To the extent that science (along with Schreber) collapses into the place of the foreclosed signifier–in this case. MH 118.. The Memoirs bears testimony to Schreber's dilemma. whereas in the case of a man. e. In fact.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. Schreber's writing style is scientific (i. As such.com/semofmem. and should medical science thus be forced to admit that such phenomena on a male body cannot be explained in a natural way. i.

lacan. to the extent that he no longer has access to the Øther.. Schreber's truth literally 'consists32' in and of himself. and his symptoms subside. 275. The point here is that insofar as Schreber positions himself as the measure of Truth (or rather. footnote. 268. emphasis mine) exemplifies this dynamic. to the extent that Schreber is now a florid psychotic (versus a latent psychotic). i. Put another way. 203-204. 178. Others exist only to the extent that they recognize (and concur) with his truth(s). Insofar as Schreber exists on the level of the Imaginary (the realm of physical 'consistency'). Thus. his delusion is 'assembled' within an entirely closed circuit). footnote 19). i. In this realm (governed by relations of rivalry). the divine intermediary between 'God' and mankind (a medium through which a reconciliation of sorts can take place).e. despite its manifestation. power alone counts. 186. then medical science is wrong. emphasis mine). This is not to argue that Schreber no longer has the ability to symbolize. As I indicate in "Lacan and Origami" (Figure 4). he still retains the belief that he is the center of the 'universe. and the right of the stronger is decisive"33 (Memoirs. It is important to note however. a discourse where he functions as the master signifier par excellance. Schreber exists 'alongside' the Øther. 236. "whenever the Order of the World is broken. and finally reconciled in and through Schreber's body as a "union of all rays" (Memoirs. he no longer has access to the Symbolic Order proper. 223. At best. literalized fragments (or clusters) of his disconnected signifying structure take on a rivalrous and malevolent nature. 169. 287)." (Memoirs. truth). this 'appearance' is deceiving. While as the above passage demonstrates. If not.htm mine). then the authorities are wrong (if indeed they exist at all). While I have alluded to the Imaginary throughout this analysis thus far. Schreber merges these disparate discourses in the Imaginary register. while Schreber's existence progressively becomes more tolerable. Moreover. science appears to be the means by which Schreber measures Truth. If the authorities do not arrive at the same conclusion as Schreber. 228. 206. if medical science does not concur with Schreber..com/semofmem.. I would now like to stress this point. the Øther does not penetrate Schreber (i. 218. 97.e. As the master signifier in a closed circuit. D 66. 176. MH 78. Schreber dismisses them as 'fleeting-improvised men' (Memoirs. that he is engaged in the process of reconnecting disconnected elements of what I refer to as his 'lower case' symbolic34. are of the Imaginary realm. 193. science and religion–as antithetical discourses–are 'pitted' against each other. Schreber's assertion that "God acts towards me in self-defense. The dynamics however. The Imaginary register is the realm of rivalry. 199.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. that while Schreber believes he is the instrument of this reconstruction... 237. MH 166.e. Schreber can only reincorporate and reconnect his existing (though unrecognizable) signifying 12 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . but rather.' To the extent that Schreber is a literalized discourse unto himself. as Schreber asserts. the very nature of his delusional 'reconstruction' precludes the possibility of its ultimate success. Schreber adheres to the scientific method. D 189.

there is a parallel semiotic 'reconciliation' of two disparate discourses: religion and science.e. MH 52. His hyphenated words are the most obvious case in 13 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . the relation between Schreber and 'God' would most definitely constitute conditions contrary to the Order of the World35. i. Souls' greatest happiness lies in continual reveling in pleasure combined with recollections of their human past. 'creative' and 'transformative' is essential. while Schreber does restore a signifying structure–a 'universe' where he has a place–because Schreber's 'universe' is closed. in particular by juxtaposing existing though disconnected signifying elements36. This natural tendency of souls to forget would soon have erased any new adverse impressions (Memoirs.com/semofmem. i. To reiterate. and 'nerves' (scientific)–and the closed linguistic circuit they inhabit. this manifests as their 'pleasure in reveling in the past. However. Now this is not to argue that there is no reconciliation–there is indeed. MH 52. D 28).. i. Schreber engages in the task of rebuilding his own universe. D 28).. To further illustrate the 'closed environment' of the 'Schreberian universe. Schreber rebuilds his signifying structure by manipulating existing elements.) Transformation Versus Creation in the Imaginary Register Clearly.' or perhaps better stated. that is.' consider the nature of 'souls. As such.although the souls could retain the memory of their own human past.e.' and their inability to retain new impressions (Memoirs.. The distinction between these two terms. While initially this passage may appear as simply another inexplicable delusional manifestation.e. nothing new can be introduced.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. D 28). As such. i. In losing his access to the Øther. however this should not persuade us to minimize the complexity (and importance) of his task.lacan. his place is the only place. transformative means through which Schreber reconstructs his signifying structure–his very being. 'souls' as Schreber's small others (which manifest as literal nerves)–another example of the interweaving of religious and scientific terms. 'souls' (religious).' (As an aside. Because Schreber exists in a closed Imaginary circuit..htm fragments and clusters.e.. 'souls' have only existing signifiers at their disposal. when read analytically. rather than a reconciliation between 'God' and mankind. they could not for any length of time retain new impressions which they received as souls. the only (divine) penetration Schreber experiences is the reincorporation of his own signifying structure. MH 52. given Moritz Schreber's rigorous interdiction against masturbation. Delusion is the 'creative.' Schreber maintains that their greatest pleasure lies in the recollection of past memories–particularly as they relate to others they have known (Memoirs.' Rather. Schreber is not dealing with the universe per se. Schreber's relation to 'God' is entirely 'masturbatory. by definition he cannot 'create. it becomes evident that it is both in keeping with psychotic literalization. insofar as the 'Schreberian universe' is closed..

. Schreber contends that "one must think of my body on our earth as connected to other stars by stretched out nerves (Memoirs. Schreber envisions himself as a sort of mediator (ironically.e. As I have indicated..g. MH 118. the joint of pork" (Memoirs. it lacks the societal pact–the Law–characteristic of the Symbolic Order.e. i. fleeting-improvised-men. "It will be .com/semofmem. Schreber is ultimately attempting to reconcile religion (the foreclosed signifier). The following diagram illustrates the 'Schreberian universe.. a representative of rationality and law–the basis into which religion [as a discourse] is merged). tying-to-celestial-bodies. Ariman and Ormuzd) and/or status-seeking small others (Flechsig in particular). this unification manifests as a battle. Within these dynamics. Now Schreber asserts that 38 "tying-to-celestial-bodies" became a permanent institution continuing to the present day and led to further consequences.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. the Imaginary realm is characterized by relations of rivalry.g. and the writing-down-system37.. done by. as are Schreber's 'interrupted sentences. Moreover.htm point. emphasis mine).lacan. particularly the "writing-down-system" (Memoirs. MH 118. MH 173. These practices include "the system of writing down. D 199). and science (the substitute master signifier)–one that eventually proved inadequate in and of itself.' e.' Transformative Mechanisms: Re-establishing Distance What is left to conjecture however. D 123. [Figure 2: The 'Schreberian Universe'] In the Imaginary. is the means of this reincorporation. While in Schreber's delusion this manifests as mediating between two opposing deities (i. e... D 123). specifically one that would prevent rays and souls from entering Schreber's body. as I have stressed thus far. These rivalrous dynamics pervade the Memoirs. not-finishing-a-sentence [and] tying-to-celestial 14 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM .' Note also that Schreber's 'universe' is isolated from the Øther (represented by a vertical bar). I have also argued that Schreber aims to unify these disparate discourses–discourses that were expelled and externalized at the onset of Schreber's (second) psychotic break–in and through his body as a 'union of all rays. rivalrous dimension.

if we accept as a postulate that relations of difference (which implicitly require distance) is the 'means' of 'meaning-making. Throwing into my nerves unconnected conjunctions expressing causal or other relations ("Why only.htm bodies" (Memoirs. not-finishing-a-sentence. the knowledge of religious truth in much greater measure than possibly could have been achieved in hundred and thousands of years by means of scientific research with the aid of all possible intellectual acuity" (Memoirs. these practices are the means of preventing a semiotic implosion. that "[p]erhaps the personal misfortunes I had to suffer and the loss of the states of Blessedness may even be compensated for.' i. The following passage supports this hypothesis. they stop the constant sliding (glissement) of signifiers. By extension. are 'fixed' in place. this manifests as souls being drawn directly into his body (Memoirs. in that mankind will gain all at once. the system of writing-down. To the extent that access to the Øther is severed. through my case. Schreber speculates for instance.) forced me to ponder many things usually passed over by human beings." etc. MH 228-229. they facilitate distance (and by extension. "we have already got this" (Memoirs. it is based on the (delusional) premise that thought is finite. MH 187-188. As the literalized." "At least. relations of difference) within Schreber's signifying structure. To further elucidate this point. the psychotic believes he carries the 'weight of the world' (or in Schreber's case. in actuality. his duty to sacrifice himself for the sake of the continuation and/or salvation of the world does offer a certain compensation. D 276). D 68).e. hence the oft-repeated statement. There is another key aspect to be considered within the context of these 'practices. and tying-to-celestial-bodies 'solidifies' Schreber nascent signifying structure." "Why because I. I must also mention the mentally stimulating effect compulsive thinking has had on me. Thus while these practices appear to facilitate distance from Schreber. Put another way.' then it is imperative that these 'celestial bodies. MH 79. While the "writing-down-system"39 does appear to be the means by which Schreber 'solidifies' his signifying structure (particularly given that the writing-down-system coincided with the practice of tying-to-celestial-bodies). or "has been recorded" (Memoirs.." Why because. However. though that despite appearances this battle is played out within Schreber's closed Imaginary circuit. In theoretical terms. Keep in mind. the 'universe') on his shoulders40. Like many psychotics. and externalized signifying structure. 15 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . Schreber experiences himself as a 'recording machine' (though he does express the ignominy of the situation). nodal points in Schreber's disconnected. D 235). D 128). psychotic manifestation of a point de capiton. MH 198. MH 122.com/semofmem.. i. D 220).The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www.' Schreber asserts that some of them (particularly the practice of not-finishing-a-sentence) incites his thinking process." "Let it be then. it can be argued that they facilitate the reincorporation and reorganization of his signifying structure.e. it also evidences the 'closed' nature of this system. In Schreber's delusion.lacan.

to refer to nothing. As I have argued thus far. I am forced or at least stimulated in immeasurably greater degree than other human beings to contemplate the reason or purpose behind them. because Schreber undertakes this 'reconstruction' within the Imaginary realm. while Schreber has restored 'meaning' (albeit a bizarre linguistic interweaving of scientific and religious discourse). Continuing this line of argument. the confrontation with the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father reveals the signifying elements that were 'propping up'43 Schreber's system to be inadequate. by finishing the sentences. he is pinning (or perhaps 'tying'41) these otherwise free-floating signifying elements. the signifiers that refer back to these (now groundless and disconnected) master signifiers. All human activity near me.Thus an extremely simple observation under the pressure of compulsive thinking becomes the starting point of a very considerable mental task. Nevertheless.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. the S2 he develops is a particular rather than a universal. Granted. these sentences are rather ill-conceived.') To the very extent the revelation that these signifiers refer back to nothing (to the [empty] place of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father). Put another way. he does introduce a degree of cohesion into his new structure (his new S2). but that there is also a profound disturbance in the structure or system itself. he must make 'meaning' by connecting signifying fragments (via juxtaposition). 16 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM .. this manifests as the inability of science [as a discourse] to explain his 'condition. usually not without bearing fruit (Memoirs 179. when I hear "Why only" or "Why because" spoken into my nerves. the only overarching law is his own. every view of nature in the garden or from my window stirs certain thoughts in me. it remains outside the realm of Law (uppercase). as I have continually stressed throughout this analysis. but rather.. i. Put another way. The Schreberian Hierarchal Semiotic Structure To further elucidate this point.e.Stimulated by compulsive thinking I occupied myself a great deal with etymological questions.. the sentence does not end. Relations are still viewed in terms of dualities and. It does not refer (or defer) to a shared cultural consciousness42. He considers himself to be the measure of Truth (albeit truth).. It is not just that meaning is not obtained because diachronically speaking. Insofar as he succeeds in establishing himself as the master signifier.htm which made me think more deeply. but given the nature of his task–that of reconnecting disconnected signifying elements–this is to be expected. to the very extent this structure is in (or is) Schreber. It is not simply that Schreber cannot finish his sentences.lacan. the 'interrupted sentences' described in the above passages are disrupted both on a paradigmatic and syntagmatic level. his 'cure' is precarious. i.e.com/semofmem. On a semiotic level. it is necessary to make a brief theoretical digression. at the next level. emphasis mine). the grammatically incomplete sentences (as signifying fragments) prompt Schreber to make connections... they themselves become orphaned signifying elements. (In Schreber's delusion. However.

lacan. is syntagmatic. as such.com/semofmem. Écrits. I have rendered the following (simplified) schematic depiction of the Schreberian signifying structure: [Figure 3: Schreberian Signifying Structure] In the "Subversion of the subject and the dialectic of desire" (Graph I. as in a sentence. The relation. communism. Understood from this perspective. etc. signifying clusters. and the inter-relation between these terms).. these signifying elements only achieve their signifying function to the extent that they refer back to a master signifier (whether it be Zoroastrianism [Ariman and Ormuzd]. 303). the elementary cell of desire). Lacan illustrates how an 'anchoring point' (point de capiton) stops (or 'pins') the otherwise endless movement (glissement) of signification" (Lacan.e. or more commonly.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www.htm take on a precariously characteristic. unstable (and easily shifting) To further elucidate both the process and terminology described above (such as master signifiers.) 17 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . these 'subordinate' signifying elements only have 'meaning' in relation to a master signifier. i. democracy.

. they still maintain their relations of difference).the point de capiton is a word which. through difference). these clusters are free-floating (hence the fleeting nature of the people Schreber encounters). constitutes its identity: it is. shift in an endless variety of patterns–to the extent that the 'kaleidoscope' shifts. but in its relation to other signifiers..e.. If we conceptualize a system of differences. (Zizek.htm [Figure 4: Graph of Desire Elementary Cell] Zizek provides an insightful elucidation of this process. or 'clusters' remain intact (i. MH 84. where a master signifier 'pins' relations of difference as signifying clusters. as Schreber describes them. and in and of itself. these signifying elements should assume entirely different meanings.e. I suggest that we envision a linguistic structure within a hierarchal framework44. Schreber's signifying structure thus shatters on a horizontal plane (i..' (or rather. while the vertical elements. In The Sublime Object of Ideology. and a system of difference.e. as a word. to the extent that these signifying elements (or fragments) remain in clusters (i. While from both a Derridean and Saussurean perspective. This however. they retain some of their meaning.e. the connections between master signifiers are severed).. D 75. the signifying clusters subsumed 'beneath' these severed master signifiers are retained. 2) 'meaning' is always and only established retroactively. is not the case with Schreber. to the extent that they refer to master signifiers that refer to nothing. 18 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . on the level of the signifier itself. signifies nothing. emphasis mine) The implications are: 1) that signifying elements only have meaning in relation to other signifying elements (i. and 3) that the master signifier is not simply a particularly dense nodal point... If we accept as a postulate that meaning is established via difference. 95-96. Put another way. as Figure 3 (the Schreberian signifying structure) illustrates. so to speak. to keep them subsumed within given master signifiers). these signifying clusters are continually reorganized. all signifiers would be considered equal (to the extent they acquire meaning through relations of difference). like colored pieces of glass.e. in relations of difference). as are the relations between (subordinate) master signifiers. 94. but rather. the word to which 'things' themselves refer to recognize themselves in their unity. Nevertheless. 90).com/semofmem. "like stars from which nerves hang suspended beneath them" (Memoirs. I propose a theoretical approach that utilizes both the concept of a master signifier. and use a kaleidoscope as an analogy–where signifiers. However. unifies a given field. where meaning is not located in the signifier per se. While the relation of master signifiers to the master signifier par excellance is severed. its role is entirely structural. i. this raises the question of whether a master signifier occupies a privileged status. because there is no point de capiton to 'hold them in place. he indicates that . They are.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www.lacan.

The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www... signifiers that refer (or defer) to master signifiers–becomes increasingly complex.htm Now this prompts the question. and does so within a hierarchical framework. .e. Thus Ariman and Ormuzd continue to exist as opposing forces. these signifying elements maintain some of their meaning.. black. the (first-level) master signifier 'Comparative Religion' refers to 'the abyss.. 'what holds these signifying clusters in place?' While initially they continually shift. The semiotic 45 'reorganization' of Zoroastrianism is a case in point .the nerves of morally depraved men are blackened. Of particular interest however (although this is not depicted in Figure 3).e. or white indicating purity. Ariman and Ormuzd become elements of a 'free-floating' signifying cluster. understood as 'full of nerves') corporeal master signifier par excellance that grounds all meaning (albeit in his closed Imaginary circuit). a master signifier that after Schreber's (second) psychotic break.e. However. As Schreber asserts.com/semofmem.e. Early in his psychotic break.lacan. For more than six years now my body has been filled with these nerves of voluptuousness through the continuous influx of rays or God's nerves. feminized (or voluptuous.. master signifiers in relation to each other. the 'subsumed' signifying cluster (which includes the elements 'Ariman' and 'Ormuzd') is detached from its master signifier (Zoroastrianism). he becomes the literalized. the more his nerves become 19 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . i.. as Schreber's delusion progresses and 'rays. quite literally refers to nothing. as Figure 3 illustrates. In Schreber's reorganized 'universe. morally pure men have white nerves. Moreover. it is important to keep in mind that as a signifying cluster. indicating impurity or depravity of character. is that Ariman and Ormuzd are repositioned (and 'pinned') by a 'quasi-Christian' deity.' nerves (as the literalized structuring material that holds signifying clusters in place. one that is 'dependent' upon Schreber. As a (second-level) master signifier. not incidentally.' manifesting as literalized 'nerves' are attached in and through Schreber's body. i. and everything in relation to Schreber) assume a color. MH 207. the higher a man's moral standard in life. i. In this way. D 247). i..' To the extent that 'Comparative Religion' refers to nothing–an abyss in the place of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father–it becomes meaningless.e. It is here that a semiotic analysis of the Memoirs–an analysis that examines both the construction and disintegration of meaning in relation to difference. another master signifier–and. It is therefore hardly surprising that my body is filled through and through with nerves of voluptuousness to an extent which cannot be surpassed even by a female being (Memoirs. Zoroastrianism is clearly part of Schreber's signifying structure (Schreber is a very educated and well-read man). Another example of the semiotic reorganization of Zoroastrianism is its emphasis on rituals of purification. i. as signifiers existing in relations of difference. their 'battle' is fought out in terms of cosmogony and eschatology–key elements of Zoroastrianism.

D 190. I have reason to assume that the poison of corpses or the putrid matter was taken from the same celestial bodies to which the rays had been tied. Based upon this analysis thus far. 126. Schreber's transsexualism. To the extent that this 'putrid matter' is caught within a closed circuit. Schreber explicitly refers to 'putrid matter' as "the remnants [that have been detached from] the forecourts of heaven" (Memoirs. Schreber thus envisions himself as a leper who "inters other lepers/corpses [in order] to provide for themselves an at least tolerable death" (Memoirs. emphasis mine).' Thus the putrid matter–signifying refuse–is 'dumped' on Schreber and in particular. D 59). In banal terms. this 'plague' evidences both the literal decay of Schreber's signifying structure. i. MH 124.' In other words. D 126. there is no place to 'dump the garbage. because these signifying clusters are incorporated in (very) different ways. Schreber's Pregnancy: A 'Body' of Signifiers At this point I would like to shift this analysis to another very interesting 'development. 156. In the Memoirs.' but through his transformative.e. 120. 175).' Specifically. D 95.. Schreber's 'universe' starts to 'rot' (or decay) when it is exposed as based upon nothing. yet meaningless (disconnected) signifiers are the (literalized) 'refuse' of Schreber's semiotic reconstruction. Allow me to elaborate this point. of the signifiers and signifying clusters that Schreber uses to reconstruct his 'universe. Schreber contends that "day after day and hour after hour.com/semofmem. D 126).' i.' i. 146. MH 98. 135. MH 49. and a means through which he engages in its reconstruction. Supporting this argument. Schreber's task.e. there is no exit. to purify its decayed nerves (Memoirs.e. D 25). Of particular interest however.lacan. his nerves (Memoirs. 'purifying' nerves through his body is yet another means of reincorporating (and reorganizing) disconnected signifying elements. as such. In semiotic terms. MH 98. MH 120-121. hence it continually reappears as nonsense. and where they were packed as it were with it or soaked it up in passing (Memoirs. is not only to reconnect the 'universe.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. MH 120.htm completely white or pure. there is always a surplus. Schreber states categorically that creation is "creation 20 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . poison of corpses and other putrid matter which the rays carried was heaped upon [his] body. Rot and purification–key elements of Zoroastrianism–can also be discerned in what Schreber refers to as 'putrid matter.. to the extent that Schreber's 'universe' is confined to himself. a means of reconnecting his disconnected signifying structure. 196). is Schreber's association of this 'rottenness' with the practice of 'tying-to-celestial bodies. nerve-filled body. it can be argued that these incessantly repeated. Now as I've discussed. MH 72-73. in the belief that it would be possible in this way to suffocate [him] eventually and in particular to rob [him] of [his] reason" (Memoirs.' so to speak. 'putrid matter' is the 'debris. Put another way. 121. D 94).. an intrinsic property of God's nerves (Memoirs.

The significance of this. MH 42. his transformation into a woman.' Freud reduces Schreber's (very complex) delusion to a homosexual wish (where Flechsig is the object of sexual desire) and as such. D 16-17.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. then his 'creation' is precisely a creation (or rather 'transformation') out of the void. but the task of providing God Himself with the voluptuous sensations that He required called up no such resistance of the part of his ego.lacan. the subordinate master signifiers refer to nothing. Lacan.... he asserts that this is beyond human understanding–and importantly. he 'regresses' to the feminine. In 'Notes on a Case of Paranoia. It has also been argued that the devices of constraint devised by Schreber's father (and tested on his sons) 'predisposed' Schreber to a passive 'feminized' position. situates Schreber's delusional transformation into a woman as a "solution of the conflict" (Freud. and that this radical lack is confronted and revealed as empty. that in this concretized universe can only occur via the 'voluptuous' of his nerve-filled body.. emphasis mine). as 21 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . 183). while his feminine wishful phantasy made its way through and become acceptable. they themselves become unhinged and empty.e..htm out of the void " (Memoirs.' a union. since there is no paternal signifier to 'ground' Schreber. cannot be underestimated. Although Freud's rendition is generally considered to be (at least somewhat) reductionist. MH 42. it is not for the same reason. Schreber's transformation into a woman is one of the most prevalent themes in the Memoirs–one that has spurred various interpretations. And Schreber himself must (literally) fill this void by reconciling these disparate discourses through a 'union of all rays. To the extent that Schreber equates nerves with femininity.e. Furthermore insofar as the subordinate master signifiers refer to nothing. Yet if Schreber's breakdown is a semiotic confrontation with an abyss rather than a grounding signifier (the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father).His ego found compensation in his megalomania. it continues to hold its own as the most infamous. D 16-17. The struggle and the illness could cease (Freud. Emasculation was now no longer a disgrace. as it elucidates a semiotic analysis of the Memoirs. 183). [sic] it took its place in a great cosmic chain of events. It continues to be my argument that insofar as the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father is foreclosed. While I do agree with Lacan that it is the lack of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father that incites Schreber's transformation into a woman. it became 'consonant with the Order of Thing'. and was instrumental in the re-creation of humanity after its extinction. that it is contrary to scientific beliefs (Memoirs. on the other hand. becoming full of nerves46. or eroticized the passive position. i. is essential in his endeavor to establish himself as the master signifier.com/semofmem. though at the same time. i. It was impossible for Schreber to become reconciled to playing the part of a female wanton towards his doctor. emphasis mine). takes a structural approach and argues that Schreber's 'transsexualism' is the result of the lack of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father. Schreber's signifying structure is.

225. Put another way. with his body filled with nerves. Returning to Freud for a moment.. Situating this in terms of kinship relations (another theme that pervades the Memoirs). without a 'semiotic progenitor. 173.e..' Schreber is illegitimate. 189. i. 145-146. his transformation into a woman is far more complex than what Lacan envisions (particularly from a semiotic perspective).e. his argument that Schreber becomes a female to facilitate sexual relations with a male (be it Flechsig or God). With the totality of human knowledge literally residing in Schreber. 166-167)–Schreber fills the void in the 'universe' with his voluptuous body–a literalized. 231.e.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. it is ultimately for Schreber to give birth to himself. Schreber is 'pregnant' with his own incipient signifying structure.' Thus Schreber asserts that nerves "develop to a complex system which embraces the most widespread regions of human knowledge" (Memoirs.com/semofmem. 150-151. 165-168. 209-210. Understood from this perspective..' souls (both 'tested' and 'untested') and rays (of God) manifest as literalized nerves. he constructs a new S2. Schreber's transformation into a woman is 'semiotically' coextensive with the process of reincorporating and reorganizing his disconnected signifying fragments. however he does transform by reconnecting and reorganizing existing (though disconnected) signifiers. D 19. Now as I have argued throughout this analysis. MH 99. 221. In his feminine and creative (or rather. In the 'Schreberian universe. 199. i. D 128. misses a crucial element of Schreber's delusion. 186. Schreber facilitates a new order–one where the foreclosed signifier (religion or God) and its substitute (science) are reconciled in and through his nerve-filled (and as such. "I have to imagine myself as a man and woman in one person having intercourse with myself" (Memoirs. To reiterate an important point.' Thus while the confrontation with the lack of the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father instigates Schreber's breakdown. by incorporating 'nerves of voluptuousness. While in his delusion this manifests as his divine calling to give birth to a new race. insofar as Schreber reconstructs a new 'universe' out of the fragments of his shattered signifying structure. predicated upon nothing. 237-240. 214.lacan. 156.' Now Schreber's body must have the capacity to facilitate these rays (imagine a foetus in a male body). feminized) body. i. MH 208. 193. transformative) capacity–his 'soul-voluptuousness' (Memoirs. D 250). 223.e. Schreber constructs a body of signfiers–though one with an entirely different shape. 120. Recall that Schreber feels compelled to envision himself as both a man and a woman engaged in sexual relations. hybrid 'body of knowledge. 148. nerves are the very infrastructure of the 'Schreberian universe.. 175-178. Schreber does not (and cannot) create. MH 45. to install himself as the master signifier par excellance. 235. Indeed. Filled with nerves of God (nerves of voluptuousness) merged with science. In this way. Schreber's body must be the locus which facilitates the 'marriage' of opposing or different entities. 122. 252. 22 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . he has no 'place' in the Symbolic Order (the realm of Law). i. Pivotal to this line of argumentation is Schreber's 'conception' of nerves. 228-229.htm such. emphasis mine). 201-202.

MH 94-95.. under 'normal' circumstances.htm Understood in semiotic terms. D n/a). D n/a). As Schreber points out. D 75). the signifying elements (which Schreber envisions as "nerve endings") that "dissolve in [Schreber's] body" are 'pinned' by Schreber in his 'seminal' capacity as the master signifier par excellance (via tying-to-celestial-bodies. and the writing-down-system). In this way.' so to speak. these 'souls' become part of Schreber's body. MH 83. "They [the souls] .lacan. Thus the more souls 'lose themselves' in Schreber. that Schreber succeeds in establishing himself as the master signifier par excellance. MH 213. is that in restoring this universal balance. MH 149-150. To elaborate this point.. the ultimate destiny of all souls to merge with other souls. souls now 'lose themselves' in Schreber. 166).' Moreover. 196. the 'universe' decreases (Memoirs. Schreber–not God–becomes the grounding master signifier of the universe (albeit Schreber's own [unrecognizable] signifying structure). this results in an increase of "soul voluptuousness" (Memoirs.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. 'souls' (i. or establishing a structure where all signifying elements refer to him. Put another way. The rather paradoxical situation that emerges. as the master signifier par excellance. It is through this semiotic process of reincorporation. In short. the practice of not-finishing-a-sentence. Furthering this line of argument.com/semofmem.. the more souls are attracted to him. it now occurs through Schreber. remaining aware only of being part of God" (Memoirs. However. however. MH 84. MH 211. instead of divine renewal occurring through God. Schreber is not simply a rival–a dynamic facilitated by the Imaginary– but a substitute for God. This concerns Schreber and leads him to contemplate "[w]hat detailed measures God would have to adopt after my death I feel I can hardly as much as speculate on" (Memoirs. the physical remnants of dead human beings) 'lose themselves' in God through their reabsorption into His totality–a totality of physical.. regain in my body a more or less adequate substitute for the lost heavenly Blessedness which itself consisted in enjoyment similar to voluptuousness" (Memoirs. this process parallels the way God (previously) renewed Himself through the reabsorption of souls (before conditions were contrary to the Order of the World). Schreber's 'soul voluptuousness' increases exponentially to the extent that he is ultimately greater than God. D 90. literalized nerves. MH 52. Unlike Zizek's 'entirely structural' master signifier. Thus to the extent that Schreber increases in size–a semiotic 'pregnancy. D 74). D 166). he prepares to give birth to a new order (as the 'voices' indicate "[a] new race of human beings from the spirit of Schreber") (Memoirs. "I always warned them against approaching me. Interestingly. with conditions contrary to the Order of the World. Schreber is precisely and quite literally 'a particularly dense nodal point.e.. "It was . and integrate into higher entities. insofar as Schreber's incipient signifying structure re-enters his body. as the signifying elements (or clusters) previously 'attached' to God are progressively 'soaked up' into 23 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . D 29). but the souls could not at first believe that I had such a dangerous power of attraction" (Memoirs. since I had become aware of the immensely increased power of attraction of my nerves from what had happened earlier.

he becomes infallible. MH 225-226.lacan. MH 211... As these 'external' discourses are progressively 'emptied' via their reincorporation into Schreber.. as Schreber's soul-voluptuousness increases.' truth (albeit lowercase) is quite literally located within Schreber.e.htm Schreber.e. MH 202.that God will never succeed in his purpose of destroying [his] reason" (Memoirs. (Memoirs.' the scarcity of words at the rays' disposal results in fewer 'vibrations. Thus he asserts with "absolute certainty. i. In other words. MH 175. MH 214. Schreber has reincorporated most of his small others. i. In other words. he 'stitches' them together in a bizarre fashion (though one that 24 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . D 202). the 'voices' are eventually so indecipherable. reincorporating and reorganizing his (previously) disconnected signifying elements. this manifests as a physical increase in 'soul voluptuousness. as the rays are progressively 'absorbed' or 'soaked up' into Schreber.. Given the continual references to 'proximity' that pervade the Memoirs. I have already given the reason: the more my body's soul-voluptuousness has increased—and it is increasing rapidly and constantly through the uninterrupted influx of God's nerves—the more slowly one must let the voices speak so as to bridge the vast distances between my body and their celestial abode with their few meager recurring phrases available (Memoirs. D n/a). reincorporated into his signifying structure (where they are no longer experienced as external). When situated within the perspective of 'nerve language. that Schreber likens them to a hissing sound. his signifying fragments and clusters. The tempo in which one speaks has slowed down almost beyond imagination as mentioned in Article 16 of the Memoirs and even since then. [and] the growing soul-voluptuousness makes [his] physical condition and [his] other outward circumstances more bearable" (Memoirs. This leads to a very interesting phenomena. However as I indicate above.' Indeed. the struggle against [him] continues to lose its previous hostile character.e. there is an inverse relation between the grammatical integrity of the external voices (souls and rays) and Schreber's reincorporation of his signifying 'universe.' It is through Schreber's 'soul-voluptuousness. In his (literalized) delusion.' Thus (and quite literally). phrases become increasingly monotonous and grammatically incomplete. where they are suspended. i. as he progressively reincorporates his signifying elements (manifesting as souls and nerves). And that "[t]he scales of victory are coming down on [his] side more and more. there is a "great shortage of speech-material at the disposal of the rays [which have not already been reincorporated into Schreber] with which to bridge the vast distances separating the stars. it is hardly surprising that Schreber attributes this to the long distances these rays must now span due to the paucity of their vocabulary. At this point..The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. D 272).com/semofmem. D 168). they run out of words. to the extent that religion–God–and science (as discourses) are progressively 'emptied.' or in semiotic terms. that Schreber believes he has become invulnerable. D 241). from [his] body" (Memoirs.

The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. to the extent that 'the world' is his signifying structure.com/semofmem. i.htm 'works' for him). In a sense then. "I can only see a real purpose in my life if I succeed in putting forward the truth of my so-called delusions. while the normal/neurotic refers to the Øther to constitute (and confirm) his or her sense of reality. By inscribing it in writing (and publishing it). his body. The question remains though: does his discourse (now) pass through the circuit of the Øther? or is the law he invokes and appeals to simply signifiers in his own closed circuit? As I emphasize throughout this analysis. MH 201. refers to him. and to incorporate it (or arguably. by publishing his work. by contrast. However. the psychotic. What Schreber experiences as 'soul voluptuousness' is in fact a reconstructed 'body of 25 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . he situates his structure within the realm of society as a whole. Specifically. while Schreber seeks validation from the Øther (in this case medical authorities). SUMMARY Writing his Memoirs is both a means for Schreber to 'solidify' his linguistic structure–the new S2–he constructs.or herself. To reiterate.e. he seeks a 'place' in the Symbolic Order proper. his S2 is qualitatively different than the S2 of the Symbolic (at any given time). to the extent that his new signifying structure is constructed on the Imaginary plane in a closed circuit. And indeed. Indeed. even though Schreber writes his Memoirs on the Imaginary plane. Put another way. himself) into an over-arching structure. it was Schreber's intent (and belief) that his new S2 be integrated into the existing body of knowledge. so that other people will be convinced and mankind gain a truer insight into the nature of God" (Memoirs. it has changed. his signifying structure circulates within the Symbolic. and this causes him to question his previous views. At a later point in Schreber's delusion. and in so doing being able to recognize himself as a human being "worthy of human dignity" (Memoirs.. are 'attached' in and through his body). MH 248. he once again recognizes the existence of 'real' people. once Schreber's signifying structure achieves a certain degree of ontological integrity or stability–once it begins to congeal–Schreber refers to the Law (the Øther) for his release. However– and this is important–he still retains the belief that there is a qualitative change in the world. And in so doing. D 302). the measure of truth remains within himself–and it is a literal and corporeal truth. With his signifying structure now intact (though with a bizarre organization). he inserts himself as the master signifier par excellance where everything refers to him (or as his delusion manifests. having re-established himself on the Imaginary plane (reconnecting his signifying structure). his signifying structure is now such that he can recognize other people. In other words. D 238) and is able to recognize real others (not just his own small others).lacan. Now keep in mind that these 'real' people have been there all along–he just was not able to recognize them.

intimately connected with my personal fate" (Memoirs. is the sinthome. 3. 5. Briefly stated however. It is just as surely the Father. a sinthome. 6." a "Burgomaster of Klattau. it remains in himself. 'Fleeting-improvised' is more accurately translated as being quickly or hastily put together. in short. put together without much thought. 2. the 'universe' ceases to expand and again starts to compress. MH 54. the 'Otherness' of the Symbolic Order.. temporary apparitions to serve a specific purpose. So there has been a change. relations between signifiers shatter such that they become unrecognizable as one's own.e. While Schreber may now recognize the existence of doctors (where earlier in his delusion. The 26 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . This results in an explosion. With the barrier breached.com/semofmem. emphasis mine).. Schreber asserts that "[t]his "miraculous structure" has recently suffered a rent.lacan. rather than obtaining a 'place' in the Symbolic Order proper. exist alongside the Øther. of if you prefer. D 88)." finally "a Mongolian Prince. "[t]he fourth term. However. Throughout this analysis I will use the term "Øther" simply as a 'short-hand' version of "the barred Other. however the locus of truth is not in a universal–a shared cultural/societal S2–but rather. Schreber does recognize the ontology of others. i. the last word remains in his body (versus the abstract scientific body of knowledge). the semiotic collision resembles a cosmological 'big bang' (on many levels). Consequently." i. Schreber sees himself "cast in several roles": "a Hyperbolian woman." "an Alsatian girl who had to defend her honor against a victorious French officer. these fleeting-improvised-men can be understood as temporary 'props' necessary for only a short period of time (Schreber's own improvisation) in his greater endeavor to reconnect his signifying universe. notes 1.e.e." a Jesuit Novice in Ossegg..and that. 4. they were all fleeting-improvised men). an expulsion of seemingly external and foreign entities. i. as I indicated earlier.. i. When put into context of the task of Schreber's delusion. reconstructing his signifying universe. as these signifiers are progressively reincorporated via psychotic delusion. As this analysis will demonstrate. MH 93. or perhaps better put..' Thus the 'meaning' of Schreber's delusion..The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www.htm signifiers. Schreber can (at best)." (Memoirs. D 33. the Father is a symptom. According to Lacan. it happens. the signifying structure he constructs (by juxtaposing existing signifying elements and/or clusters) physically manifests in and on his body.e. the collapse of the substitute discourse into the place of the foreclosed signifier constitutes an implosion. In the first sentence of Article II.

" (Lacan. von W. i. 11. the imaginary and the real to be held together. both sexual (sex as a 'bang' [and with 'God.' a particularly big bang]).lacan. 10. emphasis mine) And. and the quintessential unbarred Other–God–in His manifest forms as Ariman and Ormuzd..' 18.g. which supposes this enigmatic link between the imaginary. 16. Given that the 'place of God' was (for Schreber). 'the subject' is a misnomer. I will discuss the semiotic implications of these 'interrupted sentences' further in this analysis. MH 57-58. Flechsig . (Lacan. And ". he now contends with a proliferation of unbarred (small) others. "[d]ecisive for my mental collapse was one particular night.e.the Name-of-the-Father is also the Father of the name.. and countless other 'souls' he has known in his life. emphasis mine). 6. D 187. i. MH 48.. 34) 9.e. while they are at a distance" (Memoirs. it is hardly surprising that Schreber would experience such immense frustration with such an obstinately 'empty' deity–a 'God' who could not learn from experience. Again..htm ex-sistence of the symptom is implied by the very position. Pun(s) intended. 7.e. (Memoirs.' 17. Seminar XXIII. in the imaginary dimension. 12.." (Lacan.. See the Memoirs. and only relate to dead things. D 24. In fact it can be argued that under these circumstances. Schreber asserts that "[t]he lower and upper God.." (Lacan.. "[w]hat I have defined for the first time as a sinthome is what allows the symbolic. 14. this 'plot'). 15.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. Seminar XXIII.' i. the subject exists only insofar as he or she occupies a legitimate (recognized) 'place' in an overarching kinship structure..Copied with permission from Symptom: Lacan's Joycean Knot." Luke Thurston's "Writing the 8. and its recuperation. however. 6).everything spoken and done by human beings near me is due to the effect of miracles and directly connected with the rays coming nearer and alternately striving to withdraw again" (Memoirs..are not able to understand the living human being .. ". MH 153. the symbolic and the real. 42). This analysis will demonstrate that Schreber's 'femininity' is directly related to his increase in 'nervousness..e. e. perhaps. 154. an empty place.. Seminar XXIII. and cosmological theory of the 'big bang. As a florid psychotic. MH 164.. pun intended.. 172) 13.com/semofmem. "The problematic of legitimacy which shows itself to be that of legitimation takes a form here... D 37-38) for Schreber's description of this process (or rather. i. D 170).. being 'full of nerves. Seminar XXIII. during that night I had a quite unusual 27 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM .

While Schreber's ultimate goal is to 'unite' this rotting. D 42) 23. is in danger of 'drowning' in his own 'unanchored' signifiers. he does not merely supplement God. Schreber experiences a threat of something that would engulf him. Ironically. "foundation" with . this is literal. 94-95. does not feel grounded. Schreber associates this very term. Again. In this sense.lacan. D 53). or foundation. D 79). at this point in his delusion. 22."nerves of mind" where the latter is a basic human right (and one he is denied). according to which a human being ("a seer of spirits") must under certain circumstances be "unmanned" (transformed into a woman) once he has entered into indissoluble contact with divine nerves (rays)" (Memoirs." In other words.com/semofmem. Schreber exceeds God. For additional references to proximity and distance. 20. In fact. 19.e. before he has built at least something of a signifying structure into which this sea of disconnected signifiers can be organized and 'grounded. it initially manifests as physical threat. D 53)." Thus Schreber's head is surrounded by a shimmer of light (a "crown of rays").e.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. and one that is "incomparably richer and brighter" that the one of Christ. Schreber. As this analysis will further demonstrate. in a sense. 118. "an advancing yellow tide" against which he must build a fortress (Memoirs. Schreber describes "the tendency innate in the Order of the World. MH 68. i. free-floating in a system (or universe) that has no ground. In fact. in a sense. 48. the state of Blessedness is so to speak suspended and all human beings who have since died or will die can for the time being not attain to it. almost immediately following his description of the "crown of rays" around his head.. 'particular. or drown him (another recurring theme in the Memoirs). i.. MH 87. but rather supplants God (or Christ) as the master signifier par excellance. For God's nerves also it is unpleasant and against their will to enter into my body." (Memoirs. they threaten to overwhelm him. 24. and it is not inconsequential that this occurs early in his delusion.' this 'universal crisis' is very much a 25. he suffers from a "messiah complex. Schreber is the center of his 28 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . see pages MH 46. Insofar as the psychotic believes he must sacrifice himself for the good of the world.htm number of pollutions (perhaps half a dozen)" (Memoirs. externalized universe though his body. 21. MH 69.' Schreber. rather he is. MH 60-61. he asserts that "the sun had to remain where I was or I myself had to be brought back. shown by the continual cries for help which I daily hear in the sky from those parts of the nerves which have become separated from the total mass of nerves. as Schreber asserts that "six years of uninterrupted influx of God's nerves into my body has led to the total loss of all the states of Blessedness which had accumulated until then and made it impossible for the time being to renew them. D 15 48. Schreber constantly inserts 'scientific' signifiers within a 'quasi-religious' discourse.

"When I think of my sacrifices through loss of an honorable professional position. D n/a). trans. Norton & Company. MH 24. subjected to bodily pain. 29 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . See Jacques Lacan. 2000). "[i]n German-speaking countries small allotment gardens are called Schrebergärten after him" (Memoirs. With the connotation of 'corporeal consistency. 26. tr. Day. Alan Sheridan." Seminar I (New York and London: Routledge. 1977). as "little men. in a manner of speaking. 1899. Medical indoor gymnastics or A system of hygenic exercises for home use to be practised anywhere without apparatus or assistance by young and old of either sex for the preservation of health and general activity." (Memoirs. The 'harmonization' of these two discourses (science and religion) was also one of the main projects of the public intellectual in the latter half of the 19th century. It is worth noting that Schreber's 'God' is divided into anterior and posterior realms.A. as MacAlpine and Hunter point out in the introduction to the Memoirs. "On some night the souls finally dripped down on to my head. Translated with notes by John Forrester.htm new signifying structure. and within the posterior realms. Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber authored (among other books). 31. page 63-66. 34. Indeed Schreber compares himself and his experiences to Christ. a happy marriage practically dissolved. and "The Topic of the Imaginary. The 'lower case' symbolic is a particular signifying structure that has not been sublated to the Symbolic Order proper via the Oedipus Complex and the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father. Jacques-Alain Miller. 32. deprived of all the pleasures of life. 1988). mental torture and terrors of a hitherto unknown kind. by R." Écrits (New York: London: W. An Introduction Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis (London and New York. in their hundreds if not thousands. D 75) 30. Also see Dylan Evans. Jacques Lacan and the Practice of Psychoanalysis (London and Philadelphia: Routledge. 27. MH 229.W. D 276). D n/a). MH 214. "The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I. divided between Ariman–the deity most 'comfortable' with the body. the picture emerges of a martyrdom which in all I can only compare with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ" (Memoirs. rev. it is incumbent upon him to sacrifice himself for mankind. MH 1. since I had become aware of the immensely increased power of attraction of my nerves from what had happened earlier.com/semofmem. with a plate and 45 illustrations in the text.lacan.' 33. and Ormuzd–the deity who remained at an enormous distance (appearing as a "tiny disc") (Memoirs. 29. Routledge." I always warned them against approaching me. This will be discussed in detail in the following section. 1996). but the souls could not at first believe that I had such a dangerous power of attraction. and as such (and like Christ). Dany Nobus. by H.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. In fact. Graefe. Ed. 28. page 82-84.

30 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . 36. 38. Maedler. even though they were his own disconnected signifying elements). i. 126. as they were incorporated into his own signifying structure (absorbed into his body as a literalized master signifier). 235. The writing-down-system parallels the reconstruction of Schreber's signifying structure. MH 118. Meyer's Journal "Between Heaven and Earth". in this case. As such. Again. who authored (among other books) Medical indoor gymnastics (Revised by R. In footnote 36 in the Memoirs. they lost their authenticity. was not only a religious crusader but was also a crusader against masturbation. translated by H. As in the practice of 'tying-to-celestial-bodies' (Memoirs. Put another way. 166. Schreber lists some of the scientific signifiers that he used to 'prop up' his signifying structure: "I wish to quote some of the works bearing on philosophy or natural science which I had read repeatedly during the ten years before my illness. because they were already incorporated into Schreber.e. 42. 212-213. MH 118. "As the expression denotes. 37. Day. in fact.lacan. 176. 1899). Schreber's method is very much in keeping with the construction of the German language.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. The History of Natural Creation. Beginning and End. D 122-123. i. As examples I will quote only Haeckel. Schreber's father. 231. externalized elements of his own disconnected signifying structure. MH 190. were recorded.e. 228. 133-134. D 122).htm 35. 166. 198. 157. Primordial History of Mankind. 41. This is similar to the first appearance of the posterior realms of God. verbs are transformed (or concretized) into nouns (and nouns with only a single denotation). 190. Caspari. despite its philosophical authority. Yet this is not different from the Cartesian subject. at first Schreber believed them to be authentic (to the extent that he did not recognize them. Schreber asserts that the "frightening-miracle" is "to be regarded as the very first beginnings of divine creation" (Memoirs.com/semofmem. 39. "re-recording" them would be redundant. Schreber's hyphenated words also serves as an example of psychotic literalization. D 224). Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber (1808-1861). Evolution of the Universe. 43. 173. once incorporated it becomes mundane and banal. However. 150. 279).. believing it to be the cause of 'softness' of the German people at the time. See "Lacan and Origami: A Three-Tiered Approach to Psychosis" for a detailed description of the phenomenon. 40. such a 'self-contained' subject would be psychotic. Schreber is the means of measurement for reality. 199. a tying to some distant stars occurred which from then on excluded the possibility of a complete dissolution in my body in consequence of my power of attraction" (Memoirs. Carus Sterne. because one will find in many places of this essay allusions to ideas contained in these works. It should be noted that in creating neologisms by juxtaposing existing words..A. Graefe. Only new phrases. 276. du Prel. Astronomy.

31 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM . The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book XXIII: The Sinthome." 44. Morton. Lacan. and Trans. Man. Schatzman.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. See Figure 3: Schreberian Signifying Structure topographical rendition of this hierarchal framework. Haurvatat [salvation]. Norton & Company. Soul Murder. emphasis mine). Angela Richards. N.com/semofmem." etc. particular in the periodical "The Present. are Vohu Manah [good thought]. Albert Dickson. (New York London: W. Trans. several philosophical essays by Eduard von Hartmann. 1984). Dawson. Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. (Princeton. MH 240. History of the Earth.W. (London: W. It is Schreber's belief that "nerves of voluptuousness exist over the whole female body whereas in the male in the sexual organs and their proximity only" Memoirs. Bruce. Ed. trans. in primitive Zoroastrianism the only god. (New York: Random House. the Amesha Spentas. Case Histories II... William. New Jersey: Princeton University Press).W. 46. Jacques-Alain Miller. the daevas or divs. Freud. Norton & Company. Six attendant deities. WORKS CITED Fink. Eds. for a 45. Asha Vahista [highest righteousness]. Jacques. formerly the personal aspects of Ahura Mazdah. (Hillsdale. Khshathra Vairya [divine kingdom].] Neiderland. Eds.lacan. Heading the good spirits was Ahura Mazdah (also Ormazd or Ormuzd) [sovereign knowledge]. trans. D 244. Penguin/Freud Library. The war between these two supernatural hosts is the subject matter of the fully developed cosmogony and eschatology of Zoroastrianism. (New York London: W. Rancke. Volume 9. The Schreber Case. Lacan. Ida MacAlpine and Richard Hunter. "Psychoanalytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia(Dementia Paranoides) (Schreber)" (1911 [1910]). [draft translation by Luke Thurston. Écrits: A Selection. etc. Sigmund. surround him. and Ameretat [immortality]. Alan Sheridan.. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book III.htm Neumayer. Schreber. These abstract representations. Daniel Paul. Spenta Armaiti [pious devotion].. Jacques.J. The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance. Lacan. 1977). Russell Grigg. Jacques. In time the Amesha Spentas became archangelic in character and less abstract. led by Ahriman. Opposing the good ahuras were the evil spirits. 1955). 1988). 1973). 1995.: Analytic Press. James Strachey.

Slavoj. The Sublime Object of Ideology. 32 of 32 1/4/08 8:53 PM .com/semofmem. New York: Verso.htm Zizek.The Semiotics Of Schreber's Memoirs http://www. 1989).lacan. (London.

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