Borders of Language: Kristeva's Critique of Lacan Author(s): Shuli Barzilai Reviewed work(s): Source: PMLA, Vol. 106, No.

2 (Mar., 1991), pp. 294-305 Published by: Modern Language Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 11/04/2012 22:09
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N "WITHIN THE MICROCOSM of 'The Talking Cure. 294 . nique."' an essay collected in the volume InterpretingLacan. In this text and others. 'over' corresponding to the bar separating the two stages" ("Agency" 149).psychoanalytic criticism. literary)that eludes the language function. Style. for an experientialdimension (whether lived or. say. in the direction of the unspeakable" (Tales 29). and contemporary women's fiction in Diacritics. but also through other elements . which. she argues that the algorithm inadequately accounts for nondiscursive pathological and creativephenomena.even when she is not overtly concerned with Lacanian psychoanalysis. not caughtin the same wayas the two-sidedunitsof the Saussurean sign and evenless so in the mannerof linguistico-logical (37) categories. Lacan's (in)version of the Saussurian sign is summarily stated in his well-known "algorithm" S/s: "the signifier over the signified. As she suggests in "Within the Microcosm." to try to hear the or not onlythrough differentfigures spacesmadeby thosesignswhich resemble linguistic signs. . Throughout her theoretical writings. other journals. She has published essays on literarytheory. She would shift psychoanalysis away from its fascination with language and toward operations that are "pre-meaning and pre-sign (or trans-meaning. . that cut "through lan- guage." the task of the analystand of the critic-reader-is to be attentive to "noises. and YaleFrench Studies. Julia Kristeva presents "her own reading of Jacques Lacan's texts and practice. TechtheJournal Narrative of New LiteraryHistory. and ContemPsychoanalysis porary Thought. al- and are already thoughalways caughtin the webof meaning signification. Kristevacalls into question the relevanceof this formula to certain signifying practices. Kristevaproceeds to mount a radical critique of the Lacanian project (the linguistic interpretationof the unconscious) and to display the contingencies that limit his voyage of discovery (the return to Freud).Southern Humanities Review. This essay is part of a work in progress on Lacan as a literary and cultural critic.ShuliBarzilai Borders Kristeva's of Language: of Critique Lacan SHULI BARZILAI is senior lecturer in English at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem." In spite of-or perhaps in keeping with-her opening promise to examine "Lacan's contributions" (33). In particular. Kristevaproposes the concept of the "semiotic" in order to designate those other elements and to facilitate study of them. trans-sign)" ("System" 29).Signs.

"and a "semblance of socialization" is sometimes maintained (42-43). has wide-ranging implications for other forms of communication as well. the language function disintegrates: "the patient's 'borderline'discourse gives the analyst the impression of something alogical." Describedbriefly and oversimply. only to an interesting but restricted deviation.The dissolution of the sign is. In other words.She defines abjection as "what disturbs identity. emerges. order. borderline discourse refuses ordered and regulating articulations. "Wheream I?" (8). Furthermore. it should be noted that this is a border. . in his teaching and practice. or refusing. in effect. For Kristeva. neither inside nor outside. in the clinical sense of the term. Kristeva'sessay.ongoing project. In the opening pages of Powers of Horror. "'I' is expelled. in relationto the borderlinepatient's discourse. for. Kristeva repeatedly posits a connection between abjection and the border. unstitched. a distinctive symptom of the borderline condition is the appearance of "bits of discursive chaos" ("Within the Microcosm" 45). .Shuli Barzilai 295 Within this larger. on the fringes of madness" (Clement 55) and. Topographically.not a beyond. because Lacan offers his algorithm as the elementary structureof all language and of all unconscious processes. challenges the ability of his theory to sustain the Freudian insight. desiring. something irreducibleto language. . This ambiguity develops under the impact of "ruptures"or in the collapse of self-limits. She focuses on a specific clinical instance:the analytic encounter with "borderline" patients. as already noted. These "bits" appear at the limits of the symbolic order. It designates a condition that eludes both the mirror stage essential for subject formation and the castrationanxiety that (by placing the maternal object under prohibition) generates desire. In what follows I try to show that Kristeva'scritique of the Lacanianformula. it allows such transgressionand foreclosureto go into effect. The "borderlander"is always an exile. borderline discourse is an effect or outbreak of what Kristeva calls "abjection. "outside the transcendental enclosure within which we areotherwise constrainedby phenomenology and its relative. positions. the borderlinehas a complex resonance. linguistics" (40-41). neither here nor there. and chaoticdespite its occasionally obsessive appearanceswhich is almost impossible to memorize" (42). . rather. rules" (4) and explains that "abjection is above all ambiguity"(9). Second. drawsme towardthe place wheremeaning collapses" (2). II Now if. of language." The borderline also denotes a corollary effect: "a language that gives up" (11). it would not seriously . similarly. the essay on the "talking cure" presents a concentrated effort to redresswhat Kristevaviews as Lacan's overemphasis. symptomatically.abjectionentails an absence (the normative condition of the premirror-stage infans) or a collapse (the condition of the borderline patient) of the boundaries that structure the subject. What does not respect borders. leaving a "strayed subject ."patients whose problems are situated on the frontier between neurosis and psychosis" (Moi 239). Nevertheless.then. only "relative." Instead of "Who am I?" this patient asks. system. The abject is neither subject nor object. Kristeva stresses.. First. the borderlinepatient is one who "straysinstead of getting his bearings." or ceases to be. huddled outside the paths of desire. To demonstrate the limitations of a theory by means of a limited example might itself seem a questionable critical procedure. It does not cause the patient to transgressthe law of language and logic or to foreclose the symbolic concept that Lacan designates the "name-of-the-father" (nom-du-pere). Eluding the inside of the language system. "How can I be without border?" This absence of identity-a psychic wanderingor loss of place-is congruent with a discourse produced on the bordersof language:"whatis abject .the borderline is where the sovereignty of the sign is threatened and where something wild. Borderline. Kristeva'scharacterization of the borderline reflects her twofold theoretical orientation as a linguist and a psychoanalyst. belonging. on the symbolic order. usually designates a "special category of cases . Kristeva'scritique applies only to an exception.

metamorphosed. Kristevaconcedes.eventhough lalangue seems to be "animated by affects that involve the presence of nonknowledge" and therefore seems "irreducible-to-signifiance. Kristeva cites Lacan: "Language is what we try to know about the functioning of lalangue" (Encore 126. since it is so-called aesthetic production that knows how to deal with [saitfaire avec] the (de)negation inherentin language. who is not only split but split into an irreconcilable heterogeneity" ("Within the Microcosm" 35-36). "As something completely different from communication or dialogue. Kristeva sees in it a pervasive aspect of the human condition. to fail to account for preverbaland nonverbal elementsthat escape the safety net of language. Nor is that all. do not exist or only barely so-double. Kristeva argues that Lacan's linguistic conceptualization of unconscious processes ("The unconscious is structuredlike a language") restricts access to essential and hidden elements of experience. The rhythms and musicality of a literary work. which we confront in the analysand's disthe course . Lacan makes the concept fully coherent with the interrelatedorders (symbolic-imaginary-real)central to his thought. on 34). by its very economy borders on psychosis" ("From One Identity" 125)-and. altered. as eluding a strictly linguistic interpretation: "the very concept of sign. once it is made homogeneous with lalangue. without actually knowing it" (39). "[A] text cannot be grasped through linguistics alone" ("Word"69). In brief." it remains a fundamentally "thetic"concept: "it exists and can be conceived only throughthe position. . the unsignifiable. Border effects are to be found in the discourse of everydaylife: "The problem of the heterogeneous in meaning. .296 Bordersof Language:Kristeva'sCritique of Lacan endangerthe Lacanian rule. She defines poetic language. makes the connection even more explicit-"poetic language . . It is to fail to account for areas of aesthetic and. . as "a practice for which any particular language is the margin" ("Ethics" 25) and. The term "heterogeneity" describes more than an effect of the split or division between the conscious and the unconscious within the speaking subject. . This statement alludes to a convergence that Kristevaelaborates elsewhere." from the symbolic-which is for Lacan the locus of social exchange-lalangue is called on "to representthe real from which linguistics takes its object" ("Within the Microcosm" 34). cannot be applied to poetic language-by definition an infinity of pairings and combinations"("Word" At times. or certain types of art. which presupposes a vertical (hierarchical) division between signifier and signified. heterogeneous. . becomes a part of that triadic structure."On what grounds other than her vested interest does Kristevamake this claim? "No matter how impossible the real might be. a part of that trinary hold from which nothing escapes" (35-36). like borderline discourse. characterizes very condition of the speaking being. qtd. a "fundamentalrefinement"of his earlier interpretation of the relations between the unconscious and language. To insist on the primacy of language is. on the fragile border (borderline cases) where identities . that cannot be subsumed under the Saussurian sign. In "Within the Microcosm. introduced rather late in his work (in the seminars of 1972-73). However. therefore. Her com- ." these relationsare briefly indicated:"The analyst's attentiveness to language makes him open to works of art. First. more general: "all literatureis probably a version of the apocalypse that seems to me rooted .as the word "microcosm"in the title of her essay immediately suggests. However. too. Lacan's concept of lalangue. Lalangue.literarycreationsituatedbeyond signification and meaning (beyond the symbolic). By assimilating lalangue to the realm of the real. she 69). fuzzy. As Kristevaobserves in an earlierrevisionistessay. this "special" case is an epitome of the speaking subject at large. may inscribe"instinctual'residues'that the understanding subject has not symbolized" ("Giotto's Joy" 221). the thesis. The borders of the symbolic system are where art. Kristeva'sargumentcould be undercut(but also reinforced)from a second point of view. it finally becomes part of a topology with the imaginary and the symbolic. . of language. emerges as well. seems to clear a space within the symbolic order for heterogeneity. Lalangue is. consequently. at other times. This argument may seem vulnerable at two points. in particular. like the colors of a painting. abject" (Powers 207). animal. of the unsymbolizable..instead of regardingthe borderline as a pathological entity.

the worditself. principally through fuses with) the symbolic: "a disposition that is an auditory to connection." whichis exorbitant comis semiotics as a general. which Freud's notionof a " byno meansthe most far-reaching Freud's of discoveries. What. gives the first ment. does Kristeva'scritique add to our understanding of this theory and its limitations? I would suggest that the force and innovation of her reading derive from its specific direction or recourse:the path it takes back to the writings of Freud. which are the domain of what she servesas the internallimitupon whichFreudstruc. And yet." conof "a nings logical breakouts"("Ethics"27). which is the beyond "psychologicalblueprintof word-presentations. The note's position is therefore somewhat at odds The terms "complexity" and "closure" in with its content. Revolution 59-60). between whichtodaywestillhavedifficulty even assimilating. III By "intertextualrelations. "the web of relationshipswhich producethe structureof the text (or the subject). Thus. (subject) with other discourses" (Zepp 92-93. half a page long. What appears as a detour from Kristeva'sopening exhortation function in a manthe main path unpredictably turns into a crucial ner analogous to "heterogeneity" and "homogestep in a series of steps: neity. I closely study this reference to "Freud's notion of a 'sign"' and examine its immediate intertextualrelations. Le semiotique is tureshisnotionsof presentation cleavage(what and also characterizedby states of archaic mentation. then.and transof speech("theterritory language. in Weshouldkeepin mindthe incredible of complexity Kristeva'ssense. articulation. outlinedfirst in On Aphasiawhenhe sketches semiology of signifying practices-that is."These sets of terms also suggest yet another distinction central to her work.tactile. withthe rigorof linguistics analytical and attentive. (2) in contrast to . see also Kristeva. "the web of relationships linking the text material in support of her critical interpretation." I mean both the inner play of elements that organizes Kristeva'sarguA dense footnote. the (37n8) This note constitutes an essay within the essay. According to Kristeva'sformulations. differs from la semiotique. tinuouscorticalarea. traditional science of paredwiththe closureimposedon the signby SausThe sure's stoicism. ability specific to language. and in section 61 assess the widerimplicationsof the note for her challenge to Lacan's theory and practice. seen etc.)as well as languageacquisitionand communication (the after-word.a sign-system but as a signifying process" ("Sysor (in already as he wouldlatersay)to thatrepresent. the natureof this "imagery" relanguage. relationto the Other). Her semiotic is a drive-affected dimension Aphasia:visual. Freudian is outlined On in "sign" signs. imageis privileged ception of le se'miotique may be postulated as a inthiscasedoesnot diminish heterogeneity this the of mediation between the real. As she readily acknowledges: "Critiques of Lacanian theory have included a number of attempts to give status to affect and to the heterogeneity it introduces into the discursive order" (34)."and the outer indication of the direction Kristeva'sreading will take. closely linked to infantile symbiosis. Le semiotique. and the symbolic. it will mainincomprehensible it unlessweperceive as always is a process ratherthan a system: "meaning not as indebted a moreor less"primary" "sec.and thereforeto the ations rather than thetic or static modes of While this sign linguisticsign (signifier/signified). prelinguistic operondary" way. This conThefactthattheacoustic writing.""centers" as thresholds.Shuli Barzilai 297 plaint is not the first.composed definitely heterogeneousto meaning but alwaysin of an acousticandkinesthetic and image. Lacanmakes in it explicit his"linghysteria"). for Kristevathe semiotic encompassestwo distinctbut Freud's derivesfrom conceptionof the unconscious related areas of interest: (1) the "semanalysis" or a notionof language bothheterogeneous spaas and tial. of linout as a "topology" boththephysiological underpin. In sections 3-5 of my discussion.guistic phenomena-and of "pre. It presentsnew and significant (not marginal) play.what is ineffable and what is articulated through ness. directed at Lacan.of reading sight of it" ("From One Identity" 133). nor is it likely to be the last. or a kind of subplot in Kristeva's text.tem" 28)." or other of language.and acousticimageslinked of human experiencethat disrupts(evenas it interto objectassociations whichrefer. it involves dynamic.calls" 'classical' semiotics" (32).

It also turns up a third time. Perhaps it is also a trace of the essay's origins in two pieces that were stitched together for the first time in the volume Interpreting Lacan ("Within the Micro- cosm" 33). the reader is then directed to "the other scene"-literally. see also . Her note on the Freudiansign not only moves from the borders to the body of the essay on Lacan. This complex. in the first part of "Within the Microcosm.a border (a footnote) to the center of is difficult." the same terms enter into different combinations: "word-presentation" is retained. the emergence of the footnote within her texts. But why is this sign itself deported to a border? Any attempt to examinethe implications of this gesture requires tracing the footnote's progress.Whereexactlydoes the footnote first appear? And where does it go from there? Note 8 is introduced. The invocation of Freud's sign will enable her to arrive at the limits (that is to say." at the end of a sentence that posits "places ofjouissance (when it undermines the signifier/signified distinction and predicative synthesis) and of defense (when [jouissance] becomes blocked)" (37). My interpretation is constrained to duplicate as well as to analyze Kristeva'stext. in the second part of her essay. to use "sign" for that which Freud refers to in On Aphasia as "the functional unit of speech" and "a complex concept" seems to underscore the similarity between Freud's and Saussure's linguistic formulations (73. I examine the footnote. enacts what Kristevadescribes: the disruptive relation of borderlinephenomena to the symbolic system. as Freud's founding gesture of autoanalysisdemonstrates." the second chapter of Powers of Horror. Strategically. In other words. in the theoretical context of her critique and subsequentlyin relationto an anxiety that enables and accompanies the critique's textual reproduction. "objectpresentation" denotes "a complex made up of the combined 'thing-presentation' and 'wordpresentation'-a complex which has no name given to it" in On Aphasia ("Appendix C" 209). The odd marginalmoment. This repetition undoubtedly indicates the theoreticalimportance of Freud'ssign for the critical evaluation of Lacan's contributions. conceptually and typographically. explanation for articulatory disturbances is already evident in his monograph On Aphasia (1891). no less crucially." usually indicating her application by means of italics or quotation marks. but what was called "object-presentation" becomes "thingpresentation. if not impossible. By a kind of associative transposition. to have a theory without the libidinal positioning of the theorist. the limitations as well as the borders) of the symbolic system and thus to identify operations irreducibleto the S/s relation. to a block of small type at the bottom of the page. as well as physiological." Freud posits a relation between "word-presentation"and "object-presentation. Such a readingitself cannot avoid repetition. (This movement might recall the "upward mobility" of Hamlet after his original appearance in a note in the first edition of The Interpretation of Dreams. then. a condition of instinctual motility that correspondsto the position of the infans before the mirror stage permits the elaboration of an ego and. Now. within the principal text. But. that is. In describing the "speech apparatus. This moment could also be said to resemble the interplay between the unconscious and the conscious. if only because it brings. however. The material presentedin this block reappears a few pages later. IV Freud's interest in a psychical. in the 1915paper "The Unconscious.) Kristeva's footwork now becomes increasingly intricate. I cannot step outside (again it is a question of footwork) the circuit of readingsI am trying to read. Kristeva enlists the "complexity" of Freud's model of the sign in order to counter the "closure"and hegemony of the Saussurian model privileged by Lacan. She appeals to authority in order to repeal authority." Later. For it is a question not only of displacement but also of repetition. therefore. is named in Kristeva's footnote and its reiterations.298 Bordersof Language:Kristeva'sCritique of Lacan thetic consciousness. Kristeva calls it Freud's"sign." In "The Unconscious.before the fear of castration produces a superego submissive to the interdiction imposed by the father." as the editor of The Standard Edition points out. Kristevaraises the footnote out of the bottom margin and integrates it into the main line of her argument. in "Something to Be Scared Of.

Hence Kristevaemphasizes the need to "rehabilitate this Freudian sign. kinaesthetic and other impressions"(77-78. however. in emphaticallyinsisting on the "unitarybent" of the sign. Yetshe also closely and frequentlyremarksthe disadvantages. If so. "one should not forget the advantages that centering the heterogeneous Freudian sign in the Saussurianone afforded"(52). In his much vaunted "returnto Freud. "[t]hefact that the acoustic image is privileged in this case does not diminish the heterogeneity of this 'psychological blueprint of word-presentations. In addition to linking visual and acoustic components. and the differencebetween the two signsFreud's and Saussure's? For a reply it is necessary to return. It should be stressed." Lacan does not go far enough. "one can say nothing of such (effective or semiotic) heterogeneity without making it homologous with the linguistic signifier"(Powers 51). Before discussing other implications of Kristeva'scritical position. emphasizes certain elements in Freud's definitional statementswhile repressingor neglecting others: "it is easy to forget the other elements belonging to the sets thus tied together"(51). Lacan does not take in or allow for the full complexityof Freud'sinsights. that Freud's conception does not fundamentally differ from the signified-signifier distinction set forth in the Course in GeneralLinguistics (1915). to that representability specific to language. as Kristeva indicates. however. Despite the considerableexplanatorypower of his theory.What are these "other elements"?Or what.'which today we still have difficulty assimilating"-and which Lacan apparently never did. neglects Freud's notions of "a complicated concept built up from various impressions" (Aphasia 77): "when Lacan posits the Name of the Father as the keystone to all sign. she repeatedlygives credit where it is due. see also "AppendixC" 210). Kristeva asserts in her footnote that Freud's notions of presentation are among "the most far-reaching" of his discoveries. visual and kinaestheticelements"(73. Such a designation suggests not only that Freud's "functionalunit of speech"adumbratesSaussure's but. see also "AppendixC" 213). he points to the necessary condition of one and only one process of the signifying unit. Nevertheless. acoustic and kinaesthetic origins"-and then repeats it: "The idea. or concept. accordingto Kristeva. like Saussure (as Jacques Derrida shows in Of Grammatology). the study of language-in linguistics or in psychoanalysis-can no longer do without it" ("Withinthe Microcosm"42). Freudexpands this concept-the word "corresponds to an intricate process of associations entered into by elements of visual. that Kristeva neither slights nor denies the importance of the Saussurian-Lacanian distinction for linguistics and for psychoanalysis. calling to mind very precisely the matrix of the sign belonging to philosophical tradition and to which Saussurian semiology gave new currency. Hence she cautions . Kristeva expressly notes these grounds in the second chapter of Powers of Horror: "Obviously privileged here [in On Aphasia]. is "always already indebted . This is indeed a complex object-presentation. I would like to recapitulate the argument already presented. the monograph provides strong grounds for a defense (rather than a critique) of Lacan's assimilation of the Saussurian schema into his theory. in which Freud defines his "complex concept" (Kristeva's "sign") as "constituted of auditory. Certainly Freud. albeit a constitutive one" (Powers 53).Shuli Barzilai 299 "Appendix C" 210 for an alternative translation). . and therefore to the linguistic sign (signifier/signified)" ("Within the Microcosm" 37). just as he does in the 1891monograph. privileges the sound image in his later writings. meaning. Kristevacontends. it allows nonverbal elements of expression to be integrated into the "[p]sychological schema of the wordconcept" (77). she says." This recalling.The assimilation of Freud'ssign to Saussure'sleaves out "what constitutes all the originality of the Freudian 'semiology' and guarantee[s] its hold on the heterogeneous economy (body and discourse) of the speaking being" (51-52). The Freudian sign. auditory. more crucial for Lacan's linguistic emphasis. the sound image of word presentation and the visual image of object presentation become linked. of the object is itself another complex of associations composed of the most varied visual. tactile. Forthis reason. Lacanian theory. . In the footnote and its permutations. either theoretically or chronologically. to the monograph on aphasia.

300 Bordersof Language:Kristeva'sCritique of Lacan those who would apply Lacanian formulationsindiscriminately that "a reductiveness of this sort amounts to a true castration of the Freudian discovery" (Powers 52). That is. in short. a funny thing happened to Lacan on his way back to Freud. so she suggests. .and fragmented. the condensed type draws on the interplay of "other elements."is repudiated. which insures the disconnection between verbal signs" (Powers 49). by extension. but also in gestures. an emptying of all affect from meaning-indeed. an echoing infantile discourse. the same year that InterpretingLacan appeared. published in 1983. He murdered his father. As Kristeva describes it. just as Kristeva delineates the limitations of the Lacanian algorithm but acknowledges its necessity. "there is a collapse of the nexus constituted by the verbal signifier effecting the simultaneous Aufhebung of both signified and affect" (49-50). Yetthe semiotic appears not only within and through infantile or divergent modes of expression: "Beneath the seemingly well-constructed grammatical aspects of these patients' discourse we find a futility. nonverbal elements or "pure" signifiers prevail. Thus the border is a cutting edge. (She includes more extensive clinical examples in Talesof Love. V A furtherunderstandingof the dramathat unfolds here requirestransposing a different kind of castration onto the one just mentioned. in this part of her essay. Language (the patient's or the text's) "keeps breaking up to the point of desemantization. similarly. perhaps without knowing it. In the exposition that the point of reverberating only as notes. In such regressivestates. the material specificity of the sign remains.This semiotic disposition may be heard. Rather.) The title of the second part of the essay-"Two Typesof Interpretation in the Cure of a Borderline Patient: Construction and Condensation"-points to her analytic approach. In the treatmentof borderlinepatients. This transposition will lead to the "maternal" mode of reading recommended and practiced by Kristeva as a supplement-in the Derridean sense of addition and substitution-to the "paternal" mode that marks Lacan's access to the unconscious. there is a foreclosure (Verwerfung)of the paternal function and a regressionto a premirrorstage in which the individual forms a fusional dyad with what is no longer perceived as an alterity. The signifier is cut off from the signified. even an empty signifier" (41)." Kristeva offers a primarily theoretical account of her work in this area."These methods of interpretation not do exclude each other. music. 'pure signifier'". as an (m)other. Kristeva remarks. without any signification and affect. as a reader trainedin literarycriticism. the unstable ego tends to produce echolalia-that is. the two types may be consideredas correlativeto the signs previously contrasted in her essay. sundered at the borders of language. according to Kristeva. . more precisely. certain types of poetic language are full of the symptom called the "pure"or "empty" signifier. how can the analyst (who is inevitably caught up in the symbolic) respondto such a discourse?How can the "talking cure" or any interpretation take place when the bottom has dropped out of the sign? What kind of analytic technique is called for? In "Within the Microcosm. the need for going beyond construction without abandoning it.Condensation serves in one of two supplementarycapacities: as an optional accessory or a required substitute. constructive interpretation entails a "repetitionor reordering. I do not attempt to evaluate the clinical aspects of construction and condensation. however. the "name-of-thefather. The fundamental signifier." This implies that something is surrendered or. Construction resembles a more or less conventional but essential "thematic" criticism. that builds . In Kristeva'sview. a reduction of discourse to the state of 'pure' signifier. laughter and tears. The constructive type assumes the Saussurian-Lacanian distinction.the analyst often encounters"a language that gives up. But if borderline discourse and. Although Kristevadoes not explicitly make the connection."in all of these divergences from codified discourse. In more strictly psychoanalytic terms.I exploresome interesting analogies between these techniques and the analysis of literary texts. moments of acting out" ("Withinthe Microcosm"38). a place of scission: "It is.

even if Kristeva'srefusal of the term deconstruction may be understood. thereby already ordering these chaotic themes. more complexly still. nor does she in any way enjoin us to view them as such. a realized tradition of the question remaining a question. "Thus." Because borderline states often involve a breakdown of the linguisticsign. under no such obligation. "it reestablishes plus and minus signs and. the question remains: Why condensation? Kristeva borrows Freud'sterm for one of the essential mechanisms governing dreamworkand joke work. of a workin progress. of course. when the question must be superseded. subsequently. "[T]he question must be maintained. this type of interpretation attempts to reconstitute"the verycapacities of speech to enunciate exterior referential realities. to enable a cure by returning meaning and signification to the patient's symbolic universe. If this commandment has an ethical meaning. for the moment" (276)-is required: "To the extent that the analyst not only causes truths to emergebut also tries to alleviate the pains of John or Juliet. deliberatelyand consistently. . Psychoanalysismaintainsthe discipline(and the freedom) of the question by putting it in question. In certain respects.).Shuli Barzilai 301 connections"." Reactivating the defunct S/s connection. literaryinstruction. The connec- . for puns and other verbal manipulations in the analyst's own interpretive discourse. logical sequences." is to be found in or founded on "the discipline of the question. or even simply to repeat these bits of discourse. as Kristevashows in Talesof Love. So why not call it "deconstructive" or "deconstructed" interpretation.. construction and condensation do not constitute a diametric opposition for Kristeva. A founded dwelling. The analyst is a kind of contractor who builds meanings out of disparate. To assign the label deconstruction to the supplement of construction would perpetuatea polarizationthat Kristeva. "constructive interpretation reestablishes signification and allows meaning to rediscover affect" (45-46). etc.especiallysince such terms bring out the contrast with the constructivetype? As alreadyindicated. [is] a process stretching over the whole course of events till the perceptual region is reached" (Freud. it is not in that it belongs to the domain of the ethical. that of deconstruction. and uses the present progressive tense. "building. She quotes Freud. Perhaps. Therearetimes. a condensed interpretation has a more erotic and more binding effect" ("Withinthe Microcosm"46). not one truth. On the contrary. writes Derrida in "Violence and Metaphysics. the ethics of philosophical and. It is a question not of choosing one and excluding the other (a logic of either/or) but. rather. to take up the bits of discursive chaos in orderto indicatetheir relations(temporal. "to construct relations." however.. by extension. It calls for a free "play of signifiers" (46)." By introducing a sequential. and immediately continues." Kristeva adds: It is not a matter of filling John's "crisis"-his emptiness-with meaning. of deploying the two types (a logic of both/and)." howeverprovisional-"this means such-and-such." Note that she says "truths.attempts to forestall. . relational logic into a discourse that is marked by discontinuity and fragmentation. Jokes 164). and yet not identical with.It is unlike deconstruction in the ethical position the analyst takes vis-a-vis the "text. As a question. Such a stance is itself close to. but in that it ultimately authorizes everyethical law in general" (80).." According to Derrida. if (380) Yet." in the analyst's obligation to alleviate suffering. he is duty bound to help them in building their own proper space. the emphasis in treatingthem is on the process of construction. It is like deconstruction in its moments of play and in its movements between the either/or and both/and logics of interpretation. to trigger discoursewhere own"emptiness" herown"outhis and becomeessential of-placeness" elements. The task of this contractor is to repairthe paternal function. The literary critic is. "Condensation ."empty"elements.or of assigninga sure erotic But a placeto Juliet's wanderings. condensation seems analogous to deconstructive criticism. causal. the borderline patient is better served when the analyst maintains an interpretivestance that moves freelybetweenthe options presented by these forms of logic. indispensable"characters" you will.when constructive interpretation or "a knowledge effect.

in her effort to challenge the privileged position of the symbolic paternalorderas articulatedby Lacanian theory. it activates a "maternal" in transference which the patient directstowardthe analyst an "entire gamut of . this element is the area of overlap in which two semantic components fuse. By reinforcing archaic modes of articulation. the condensed interpretation evokes wide-ranging. metaphorical or witty though [the nonsense] might be" (Powers50). and manipulations of words. therebyinvoking heterogeneous dispositions (the semiotic). by of emphasizingthe metaphoricity the identifying idealization we to movement. from drive heterogeneityand its ar- chaicholdon thematernal vessel. in metaphor.It points to the limitations of an analytic perspective that privileges the paternal function. the analyst's complex participation may be said to comply with the patient's pressure for symbiosis. "sense does not emerge out of nonsense. The analyst responds to non-sense with non-sense. .Tothecontrary. In keeping with this distinction in psychical range and with the different roles assumed by the analyst in each interpretivemode. In a state of love (such as transference). Kristevacomments in the first part of Tales of Love. as in the borderline patient's discourse. translinguistic associations. the displacements imposed by a third party. . In contrast to the unitary intervention. Lacan writes in "The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious" that "man's desire is a metonymy" (175). Condensation prompts the reemergenceof a presymbolic. The analyst imitates or borrows from the patient's rhetoric. This alignment follows Freud'sdefinitions of displacement as "the replacingof some one particularidea by another in some way closely associated with it" and of condensation as the compression of two or more elements into "a single common element" (Interpretation 339). the mythic father of Totem and Taboo. . in the analyst'splay of metaphors. therefore. desires and needs"("Withinthe Microcosm"46-47). a second birth. who emphasizesthe metonymicdimension of desire. canattemptto restore the analyticbond located there (transference and countertransference)its complex dynamic. Freud's common element corresponds to the subject's movement toward identification with or idealization of the other. which attempts to reestablish the paternal function. albeit a significant one. Likewise Kristeva's use of condensation suggests both a mode of unconscious mental functioning and its linguisticcorrelative. that stresses the advent of the subject into the discursiveworld of desire.has "a more erotic and more binding effect" in the transferential situation. that is.In contrastto Lacan. (38) Kristeva's argument necessitates taking into account the Lacanian alignment of the mechanisms of displacement (Verschiebung) and condensation (Verdichtung) with what Lacan calls "their homologous function[s] in discourse": metonymy and metaphor ("Agency" 160). VI Kristeva'sessay in InterpretingLacan constitutes only one moment.they indicateanother important distinction between construction and condensation.. clearly notdrastically and he if separatedit . Kristeva briefly suggests why this type of interpretation is effective. puns.302 Bordersof Language:Kristeva'sCritique of Lacan tion between these two statements is not immediately apparent. .Nevertheless.metaphoricity. in presenting her ac- . In effect. I would suggest that construction can also be characterized as "unitary"interventionand condensation as "complex" participation. Kristeva investigates-through her condensed interpretations-the metaphoric dimension of love:the bond with (as well as separationfrom) the mother. Condensation supplements "logico-constructiveprotection"by colluding with the borderline patient's "manic or narcissistic manipulation of the signifier" (46). in addition to trying to reassemblelinguistic signs (the symbolic). Whereas the constructive interpretation would provide a signified (a meaning) for the "empty" signifier. . then. This participation enables the patient to experience a fusion or "death-in-the-mother" and. Thus condensation extends the critique of Lacaniantheory and practice. and intonations. rhythms. infantile organization and. Perhaps inevitably. the analystechoes the echolalia of the patient. entitled "Freudand Love: Treatmentand Its Discontents": Lacanlocatedidealization solelywithinthe field of thesignifier of desire. .

"It is necessary. If. as Lacan might put it.The first part appearedin the autumn of 1979as "IIn'y a pas de maitrea langage" 'ThereIs No Master of Language. of course. as the strugglebetween strong male poets or critics and their paternal precursors. I will first try to present one possible reading-my own-of Lacan'scontributions to the interrelations between language and the unconscious" (33)."as she says. cover a lot of territory) the speaker is not spoken by or subjected to language.envisages interpretiveappropriation as a father-son conflict. At stake.' in a special issue of Nouvelle revuedepsychanalyse."Kristevareduplicates her subject matter." borderlinecases (which. to read Freud well. YetKristevahas alreadynoted that every text is an incorporation and transformation of another text. Lacan is not the father. by a son or a daughter. His interpretation is an act of self-empowerment that strips away the full originality of the Freudian insight. eversince Freud.Lacan died on 9 September 1981. Kristevathus enters into a rivalrywith Freud's"Frenchson" (Kerriganix). From this standpoint.everycritic might be one too. Lacan's textsand of her present ownreading Jacques or to practice. avails himself of it. although legendary. Significantly. considerherselfeithera propagator a of criticof hiswork. The role of the writer as patricide is.This daughteris not to be seduced by the father.Kristevamay be said to begin the essay once again. Kristevaentersinto a conflictual relationshipwith a powerfulpaternalauthority. "to go back to the Freudiantheory of language. . both Kristeva and Lacan are-and will always remain-the children of Freud. she masters and murders him. as I have suggested. The title could be read as a refutation of Lacan's "truth":"IIn'est parole que de langage" 'Thereis no other speech but language' ("Chose" 412. Kristeva is not only contending with a symbolic. has shown theorists and practicingpsychoanalysts.that inand terpretation necessarily represents appropriation. as she also reminds us. Kristevachallengesthis appropriation. was still alive when the two parts of "Within the Microcosm" wereinitially presented. Father Lacan. following Freud's Totemand Taboo. instead.A defender of the father and his faith. According to Kristeva. with an already "dead. "l'impermeabilite la ratio linguistique a la decouverte freudienne" ("Il n'y a pas de maitre" 127). she attempts to resurrect his word (the privileged signifier) after the murderous son's incorporation of it. as it were. Her example invites other female descendantswho formerlywerespectatorsor objects in the male drama of desire to join in the ritual feast. the "phallus": "signifier of power.Forthepropagation psychoanalysis . . for all sides.Shuli Barzilai 303 count of Lacan's "castration of the Freudian discovery. (33) Jane Gallop comments on the broader significance of this opening statement: "Outside the immediate context. thus. Her essay opens with a brief acknowledgment: askedto It would be strangefor a psychoanalyst. we might also ask. She finds that the son. she .WhereverKristevacites Freud'ssign.insteadhe is the selfappointed son and hero. "FreudianThing" 124). it remindsus that. The second part of her essay was delivered as a seminar at the Centre Hospitalier Sainte Anne in the spring of 1981. But what does the text have that the reader must kill-or interpret-to possess? The reader wants what the text is supposed to know. or. psychoanalytically. what Harold Bloom documents in his poetics of influence. who. Moreover. In the first sentence of the next paragraph. or more than who knows how. of potency" ("Desire" 51). Thus her title could also be understood to announce: Lacan is not the master of (psychoanalytic)language. as much as of hate and slaughter. guards the paternal power. is more than how." "Go back" is a marked phrase in this context. But whereas Bloom. Kristeva clears a space for the daughter in this engagement. "everyhero is a patricide"(Powers 181). by desire to have and to kill" (27). an act of desireand murder. with a modest disclaimer immediately followed by the promise of "contributions": "In the following pages.however. interpretationis always motivated by desire and aggression. the readerdesiresthe signifier of desire. she argues that attempts to assimilate psychoanalysis to linguistic models ignore the radical difference between de the two fields. Yet. Recasting King Lear's question. Which of them shall we say does returnthe most? Interpretation is an act of love and devotion.

209-15. we come up to the table." the words "heterogeneity" and "heterogeneous" appear five times (51-52). In choosing to engage Kristeva's work and. "Appendix C [of "The Unconscious"]: Words and Things. Sigmund. that constitutes the Freudian unconscious. together with the sphere of symbolic influence." On the History of the Psychoanalytic Movement. Yet. "Violence and Metaphysics:An Essay on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas. we find Freud's own model of the sign and not the Saussureansignifier/signified distinction" (42). Vol. Kristevaenters into a doubly binding relationship with her adversary. . Clement. Jacques. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP. Not sister. as I find myself in the coils of a transference with a powerful maternal authority. Thus Kristevaaligns the complexity of her notion of a semiotic approach with Freud and against Lacan and the closure of the Saussurian sign. . the Freudian concept of the unconscious is indeed "something different" from his own (Four Fundamental Concepts 21). These terms. 14 of Freud. I will briefly try to step outside-as if I could-and describe this complication. note 8 of "Within the Microcosm" concludes: "Freud's conception of the unconscious derives from a notion of language as both heterogeneous and spatial. Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works. as already noted. 1978. her essay on the "talking cure. preanalytic text on aphasia . For example. My close reading of Kristeva'ssubtextual lines of defense is not entirely innocent.. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. Alan Bates. in Powers of Horror." Writingand Difference. Nevertheless. . no longer silent onlookers at the brothers' banquet. My reading of Kristeva'sreadingof Lacan's reading of Freud would establish a communion. Harold. but daughter. I follow not only the movements of her footnote but also her returnto the monograph on aphasia. recede into the background. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Kristeva'smajor theoretical corrective to the preeminence granted the symbolic order. a sisterhood. Trans.. It implicates what were formerly omissions at Freud's totemic festival. Trans." I repeat and applaud her criticisms of Lacanian theory as too narrowly enclosed in its linguistic formulations. outlined first in On Aphasia when he sketches out as a 'topology' both the physiological underpinnings of speech . Not daughter. Again. In the two-paragraph section of Powers of Horror entitled "The 'Sign' according to Freud. Derrida. as well as language acquisition and communication. Aphasia (Zur Auffassung der Aphasien. Freud. in situating Kristeva'stexts in relation to Lacan's. Chicago: U of Chicago P. one notes the heterogeneity of the Freudian sign" (51). "This statement sums up Kristeva'scritiqueof Lacan:it is the "extraterritorial"or semiotic dimension of experience. both daughter and sister. to a very early Freudian text) and.. both sister and daughter. . For the fathers hover dimly. 79-153. 1976. 1957. And we are hungry. Catherine. New York:Columbia UP. 1973. 1983. it is difficult for me to ignore the double bind that my presentation of Kristeva's critique is itself caught up in. Having gone thus far. . she links her return with heterogeneity: "And returning to the moment when [the Freudian theory of language] starts off from neurophysiology.304 Bordersof Language:Kristeva'sCritique of Lacan gives two elements prominence:the suggestion of a returnto origins (namely. New York: Oxford UP. are also among the defining characteristics of le semiotique. Of Grammatology.I havetaken pains to defend myself and avoided any footnotes. Standard Edition. in the egory course of her critical assessment. thereby exhibiting an analogous ambivalence: a defense of the "good" father (Freud) and a challenge to the "bad"(Lacan). I am also committed to an act of appropriation. This observation does not invalidate Kristeva's readingof Lacan or consign it to the catof an intrafamilial disorder. Trans. But. the documentation reads: "See Freud's first book. the concept of heterogeneity. It raises the specter of a conflictual engagement betweenmothers and daughters. Works Cited Bloom. . As Lacan himself declares. particularly. London: Hogarth. but sister. Arthur Goldhammer. 1891)" (213). The Lives and Legends of Jacques Lacan. Kristeva reiterates later in her essay that her returnto Freud outdistances Lacan's: "In rereading Freud's initial. often in conjunction with this return.

"Withinthe Microcosm of 'The TalkingCure. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Standard Edition. Desire 124-47. New York: Columbia UP. Thomas Gora and Margaret Waller. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis. and Novel. Desire 23-35. 401-36." Regardssur lapsychanalyse en France. . The StandardEdition of the Complete Psychological -Worksof SigmundFreud. Ed. 1953. William. Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literatureand Art. Psychiatry and the Humanities 6. 1977. Standard Edition."Ecrits:A Selection."The Agency of the Letterin the Unconscious: Or. "The Criticismof JuliaKristeva: New Mode of Critical Thought. EvelynH. "The Ethics of Linguistics. Jane. . Toril. New York: Columbia UP. . . Universities. The KristevaReader. 1982.Thomas Gora. 146-78. Trans. New York: Norton. Trans. Alan Sheridan. 1977.Psychiatry and the Humanities 6. Interpreting Lacan. . . Trans. 1966. . Jacques-Alain Miller. New York: Columbia UP. 5 of Freud. Kerrigan. Saussure. Ed. Roudiez. YaleFrench Studies 56-57 (1977): 11-52." Ecrits. A Zepp. -. ." Moi 24-33. The Interpretation of Dreams. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye. Paris: Seuil. London: Hogarth. "Giotto's Joy. . Roudiez. New Haven: Yale UP. Ed. New Haven: YaleUP. Wade Baskin.Alan Sheridan. Course in GeneralLinguistics." Kristeva. Paris: Seuil. Trans. Interpreting Lacan." Romanic Review 73 (1982): 80-97. 1983. 1983. Reading Lacan. Gallop. New York: Norton. 1953. London: Hogarth. London: Hogarth. Stengel. Kristeva.Ferdinandde. "The System and the Speaking Subject. . Spec.ed. and trans. London: Hogarth. 1987. 24 vols. Joseph H. James Strachey." Kristeva. Roudiez. Julia. New York:Norton. "II n'y a pas de maitre a langage. 1960. 13 of Freud. Leon S. Lacan. 1986. Trans. 1980. . The Meaning of the Return to Freud in Psychoanalysis.Desire 64-91. Smith and William Kerrigan. . Vol. Sens du retour a Freud en psychanalyse." Trans. Ed. issue of Nouvelle revuedepsychanalyse 20 (1979): 119-40. Desire 210-36. Trans.James Hulbert. Moi. 1953-74. New York: Columbia UP. .'"Trans. Alice Jardine. New York: Intl. . Vol. 33-48. . Roudiez. -. Reason since Freud. 1985."From One Identity to an Other. "La chose freudienne: Ou. . New York:Collins. 1955. Introduction. "Desire and the Interpretationof Desire in Hamlet.Trans. ..Margaret Waller. ix-xxvii. Trans." Ecrits: A Selection.Dialogue. Vol.New York:Columbia UP. Joseph H. Alan Sheridan. "Word. -. 1975. Jacques. Encore. Leon S.Tales of Love. Leon S. and Leon S. On Aphasia: A Critical Study. 1984. Jokes and TheirRelation to the Unconscious. Trans.Shuli Barzilai 305 . 1974. Totemand Taboo:Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics." Kristeva. 1977. Revolution in Poetic Language.E. Ed. "The Freudian Thing: Or. Standard Edition. 8 of Freud." Kristeva. 114-45. Ed. Smith and William Kerrigan. Ithaca: Cornell UP.

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