The Japanese subject and the unconscious (part 1).

1- Introduction

When Osagawara wrote “Why Lacan says: “no one who dwells in the Japanese language has a need to be psychoanalysed”, we felt forced to write a response. This need did not arise from his conclusions, but from the various problems in his argument. The main problem concerns his association between Japanese language and the Joycean project of producing a Sinthome. In this article, we limit ourselves to critiquing Osagawara’s association by introducing a different reading of Japanese language/Japanese speech and demonstrate how our reading explains how a psychoanalytic praxis with the Japanese subject is possible.

Before unfolding our arguments on why the Japanese language or speaking Japanese is radically different from the Joycean project, we want to highlight that the fact that our mother-tongue is not Japanese, does not throw, a priori, doubt on every reading we make of the Japanese language and its relation to the unconscious.

2 – Joyce’s incompatibility with the Japanese lalangue.

In contrast to Ogasawara’s statement that speaking Japanese is comparable to speaking “Finneganian” and that this similarity touches upon the truth of Japanese language, we want to present a different reading of the Japanese language. If we believe that Joyce is, in our view, of limited use when trying to understand the functioning of the Japanese language, it is, first of all, because of his radical particularity, his radical uniqueness.

1-1 Joyce’s radical particularity

One talking about Joyce from a Lacanian perspective, one should always keep in mind that Lacan implies that one can call Joyce’s structure, due to his forclusion of the Name-Of-The-Father, psychotic. Joyce’s Finnigan’s Wake created, in that respect, a solution to his particular borromean problem. With Finnigan’s Wake, he produced a durable literary ego, or, in other words, a Sinthome.

The need for Joyce to craft such a literary ego arised from the fact that the epiphanies – the imposed words, function of Lalangue, to be understood here as the complete set of ‘equivoques’, the polysemy, that makes up a language – multiplied to such a point that he felt constantly attacked by these epiphanies. In Borromean terminology, one can say that Joyce suffered from a fusion of the Real and the Symbolic – a fusion not without effects on the imaginary. The literary Ego was, in other words, a singular and thus radical solution to the uncontrolled unleashing – an unleashing transcending his epiphanies – of Lalangue.

To combat these epiphanies, a fight that would eventually produce his literary Ego, his radical particularity, Joyce played with lalangue. But it was not a normal play. Joyce played with multiple languages at the same time, ‘telescoping’ different trans-linguistic signifiers into one signifier (Jonckheere, 2006). To give a taste of James Joyce’s play with lalangue, we gladly introduce a short excerpt of Finnigans Wake.

Sir Tristram, violer d’amores, fr’over the short sea, had passen-core rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggyisthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: norhad topsawyer’s rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselseto Laurens County’s gorgios while they went doublin their mumperall the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe totauftauf thuartpeatrick: not yet, though venissoon after, had akidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all’s fair invanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe.

1-2 The effect of Joyce’s operation on English language and the English Letter.

Having vaguely introduced Joyce’s singular solution to mend his borromean problem, we can now investigate Joyce’s operation on English Language in more detail. After reading the excerpt of Finnigan’s Wake, we would be very surprised if someone would say they have understood it or that they have grasped something of Joyce’s subject. Far from that, one feels – anyone can feel it – something very strange about Finnigan’s Wake.

With Soller (2003), we can underline that the Joycean play with lalangue affects the functioning of the letter. Even if the letter in Finnigan’s Wake is ever conform the English spelling, the letter has become unreadable, unable to represent the subject (Soller, 2003). There is a special proliferation of equivocation that “reduces the signified to an enigma, short-circuiting usual meaning” (Soller, 2003, p. 97). In other words, the letter finds itself outside meaning, beyond analyzability. “When the letter becomes a signifier in the real, outside the chain, as it happens in psychotic phenomena, meaning flashes from everywhere, every word, every syllable [and it is] the reader who should decide about meaning” (Soller, 2003,  p. 98).

There are accounts that highlight that Joyce truly enjoyed telescoping different languages into single signifiers. So while one can say that each telescoped signifier constitutes a singular joke, these singular equivocal objects he produced, do not say anything anything about him as subject and are not able to touch anyone’s unconscious (Lacan, 2005). Joyce’s singular operation on English language, his trans-linguistic play with lalangue, thus produced a product that by making the letter unreadable has no link whatsoever with an unconscious.

1-3 Lacanian equivoques and Joycean telescoping….

By introducing the Joycean operation on language, the telescoping, we can now turn our attention to Osagawara’s statement that “when you speak Japanese your speech contains a lot of Chinese words and American words pronounced in a Japanized way of pronunciation which have no meaning per se in Japanese phrases, such that it seems that you speak like James Joyce in his Finnegans Wake”.

While this statement sounds nice and acceptable at first glance, the relation of ‘similarity’ implied does not make that much sense when analyzed closely. One reason for Osagawara’s confusion stems from the very examples he gives to introduce Lacan’s affinity with the way Joyce played with lalangue – les non-dupes errent — les Noms-du-Père; R.S.I. — hérésie,  le sinthome — le saint homme, and l’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre — l’insuccès de l’unbewusst c’est l’amour). Even though these examples constitute a play with equivocal nature of lalangue, they do not exactly concern Joycean telescoping. Lacan nevertheless gives some examples of Joycean-like telescoping in Joyce, Le symptôme, examples Lacan himself denotes as examples that highlight what is at stake in Joyce’s work (Lacan, 2005, p.161-162).

  1. poursticher
  2. pourspère
  3. Journiture
  4. Telévissioner

Do we not immediately see the difference between our examples and Osagawara’s examples? The homophonic play in Osagawara’s examples may allow us to hear something different, the signified of these Lacanian Jokes are never enigmatic. In our examples, which are closer to the act of Joycean telescoping, i.e. the forcing of multiple signifiers into one, the signified has become less evident. 

To put it more strongly, while Osagawara’s examples highlight a fundamental dimension of Lalangue – its homo-phonic nature, they do not touch upon the essence of the rather destructive trans-linguistic telescoping. In other words, while Japanese language is highly homo-phonic in nature, there is no trans-linguistic telescoping present (by default) in Japanese language. The fact that the Japanese language contains a vast amount of loan-words does not lead to speaking like James Joyce wrote in Finnigan’s wake. We thus fail to see how the the Joycean act of translinguistic telescoping can reveal something about Japanese language or how the Joycean telescoping – a solitary act of Jouissance with lalangue, an act that, when read as reader, has nothing to with Joyce’ subject – can be used to approach Japanese language, to be understood as a lalangue supporting a shared discourse (Note 2).  

Before proceeding, let us also highlight that Finnigans Wake reveals Joyce as “unsubscribed from the unconscious” (Le séminaire XXIII, p.164). The fact that one cannot laugh at all with Joyce’s endless telescoping points to the fact that Finnigan’s Wake has no relation to the unconscious anymore. In contrast, the homophony, as Osagawara illustrates with his example of Seijin, highlights the relation of the Freudian Witz to the unconscious (Note 1). 

1-4 … And its relation to the Japanese language

1-4.1 The letter and lalangue.

While we just underlined the incompatibility of the Joycean project (of producing a sinthôme) with Japanese language and the fundamental problem of using Joyce’s borromean solution to the unchained attack of epiphanies – a solution aimed against the precipitation of schizophrenia, for explaining something about a language where neurotics are able to dwell, we want to corroborate this statement by developing a more detailed account of the Japanese language.

In order to contrast the Japanese language to the language of Joyce in Finnigan’s Wake, we want to provide an excerpt of the Japanese translation of Harry Potter: The prisoner of Azkaban (2001, pg. 1).

ハリー・ポッターはいろいろな意味で、きわめて普通ではない男の子だった。
まず、一年中で一番嫌いなのが夏休みだった。
第二に、宿題をやりたくてしかたがないのに、真夜中に、こっそりやらざるをえなかった。
その上、ハリー・ポッターはたまたま魔法使いだった。
真夜中近く、ハリーはベッドに腹這いになって、頭から毛布をテントのようにすっぽりかぶり、片手に懐中電灯を持ち、大きな革表紙の末(バチルダ・バグショット著「魔法史」)を枕に立てかけて鷲羽ペンのペン先で頁の上から下へとたどり、宿題のレポートを書くのに役立ちそうなところを、眉根をよせて探しているところだった

The most obvious difference between the language in Finnigans Wake and Japanese language is to be found at the level of writing as such. While Joyce only used to ‘English’ alphabet in order to create his unreadable masterpiece, Japanese used three different forms of writing in order to create a text that can speak to one’s unconscious. Another difference, a difference obviously related to the previous difference, concerns the way in which the trans-linguistic elements are structured within a sentence. While Joyce telescopes various translinguistic signifiers into one, the Japanese language give these so-called trans-linguistic elements a clear place by way of a different écritures.  In order to better approach the latter difference, let us approach the so-called trans-linguistic nature of the Japanese language with the Lacanian concept of the letter.

Before defining the Lacanian concept of the letter, let us first recall that the so-called trans-linguistic nature of the Japanese language is introduced by Ogasawara (2019) in his simplified introduction to the historical development of Japanese language – a process of integrating Chinese signifiers and signifiers from various European languages such as Dutch – a language Osagawa forgets to mention, English (note 3), German, and so on. Furthermore, he underlines that “the two systems of Japanese phonetic letters (hiragana and katakana) [were] invented from Chinese characters (Osagawara, 2019).

In Japanese language, there seems, in contrast to Joyce’s project that only ‘abused’ one letter, the letter as conform to English spelling, to be three different écritures – two phonetic syllabaries (hiragana, katakana) and one ideographic element (Kanji) (Lacan, 2005). Does this mean, in Lacanian terms, that Japanese language uses three different letters? If one uses Lacan’s definition of the letter as presented in his The instance of the Letter or Reason since Freud (1957/1966), one cannot but answer with no. In Lacan’s text, he calls the letter the essentially localized structure of the signifier or, as Fink reformulates, the structural position or place of the differential element, the element that distinguishes one word from another (Fink, 2004).

If we consider this definition, we can say that,  in Japanese language, the localized place, which is synonymous with the letter, is related to the elements underlying the two phonetic syllabaries – i.e. the set of consonant phonemes and vowels. The ideographic character, for that matter, cannot find a place as letter within Japanese language, but, as character, it can hide the letter, the letter as that element that orients the hiragana/katakana as written (See schema 1). With this statement, we go directly against Lacan’s pretext that, within Japanese language, “le caractère est lettre” (Lacan, 2001, p. 19) (Note 4).

As we have now situated where one needs to situate the letter in Japanese language, we can now turn our heads to a term we already used a lot: Lalangue. To make this notion more clear, we should refer to Lacan’s 23th seminar. In this seminar, Lacan says that what characterizes “lalangue parmi toutes, ce sont les équivoques qui y sont possibles”, equivoques that are enabled by homophonic nature of the language (Lacan, 2005, p 117). One can thus perfectly state that lalangue forms the precondition for generating meaning. The Japanese lalangue is thus, before the letter gives birth to the whole set of signifiers, the complete set of possible equivoques, the set of equivoques that form to condition for any production of meaning whatsoever. In other words, as lalangue passes through the letter – lalangue is tightly linked with but not synonymous with the letter, the signifier and, ultimately, meaning can be generated.

untitled-2-1.png
Schema 1 (K: Kanij, H: Hiragana, K: Katakana, S: signified)

While one can question our need to explicitly situate the letter within the Japanese language and underline its relation to the Japanese lalangue, this introduction was necessary to approach the so-called trans-linguistic nature of the Japanese language in a critical way. Before exploring the presence of foreign loanwords – words generally written with Katanana, we’ll first formulate our understanding of the presence of Chinese words within Japanese langauge.   

1-4.2 The Chinese influence.

While it is very tempting, like Osagawara did, to argue that the Japanese language contains a lot of Chinese foreign words – and non-Chinese signifiers for that matter, his subtle addition that one pronounces them in a Japanized way immediately implies that they (have, over time, come to) be part of the Japanese lalangue.

Beyond the distinction between on-yomi (the Japanized Chinese reading) and kun-yomi (the Japanese reading), the letter that functions behind the kanji is the very place where the phonetic ‘hiragana’ and the signifier come into existence – for this reason there is is false bar and a true bar in our schema 1. In other words, behind the kanji, the character, lies the same lalangue. With respect to the Japanese Lalangue, the character, as full-element or as part-element, has a vertical (and, in truth, unneeded) relationship (Note 5). Our statement is corroborated by the fact that the “inventaire phonémique du japonais des classes Yamato et Sino-japonais” and, despite one exception, the mimetic class is the same (Shinohara, 1997). 

It is very thus difficult, if not impossible to maintain the idea that one speaks Chinese while speaking Japanese. While the origin of on-yomi historically lies in China – no question here, this on-yomi reading of the Chinese letter cannot, in current times, be viewed as Chinese anymore. At the level of the Japanese lalangue, there is no difference between the on-yomi and the kun-yumi. That’s why at the level of lalangue, one cannot speak of a “traduction perpétuelle” that is made into language (Lacan, 2001, p. 20). Even if such translation would exist, it would be a highly problematic one as a kanji can have a wide variety of different pronunciations in both on-yomi and kun-yomi.

That’s why Lacan’s commentary in “Avis au lecteur Japonais“, which is eagerly used by Osagawara, fails to touch upon the reality of the Japanese language. When Lacan writes that the Japanese language allows one to plug the formations of the unconscious so perfectly, he explains this by referring to very fact that the unconscious is structured as a language. Lacan seems, if one reads this text closely, to situate the witz between the un-yomi and the kun-yumi – a sort of eternal internal hidden joke of translation within common discourse. But if the kun-yomi and the on-yomi are made up by the same lalangue – as we contend, one cannot argue in favour of such a view.

Concerning the Kanji, the ideographic element imported from China, we only note that it functions as a sort of “disturbing” element, an element that, in its vertical relation to the letter and the signified, is able to turn up, at any given time, in one’s thinking. As the kanji seems, at the moment, essential within Japanese language, we do have to consider the possible effects this element, this seemingly hieroglyphic element, has on the experience of psychoanalysis as such (Note  6, note 7).

1-4.3 The foreign loanwords 

Having re-evaluated the way on-yomi and kun-yomi function, we can now turn our attention to the other foreign loanwords. Observing how foreign words enter the Japanese language, we quickly observe that the Japanese loanword adaptations are, in general, in conformity with the native phonology. Or, put in a more psychoanalytical way, the minimal transformations absorb these loanwords in line with the pre-existing Japanese lalangue (Note 8). In other words, the Japanese lalangue and the letter distort the signifiers that have been loaned.

As such, one can posit that the foreign (gairaigo) lexicon class, as differentiated from the yamato (wago), Sino-Japanese (kango), Mimetic (giseigo/gitaigo) classes, ever remains function of the Japanese lalangue, the complete set of all the possible equivoques. But we should not remain blind to the fact that the foreign loanwords introduce “combinaisons entre voyelles et consonnes qui ne se trouvent pas dans les autres types du lexique” and thus that the gairaigo does not completely overlaps (Shinohara, 1997, p. 30). But we contend that these new combinations, while restricted to the vocalisation of foreign words, were always possible within the phonemic dimension of the Japanese lalangue. Therefore we envisioned the relation between Katakana and Hiragana, in light of  the Japanese lalangue, as a horizontal one.

1-4.4: Conclusion

Having explored the Japanese language in light of the letter and lalangue, we cannot but conclude that the translinguistic nature of the Japanese language is a highly problematic idea. This idea is problematic due to a fact that there no fundamental difference exists at the level of phonology or at the level of lalangue. While there may be a plurality at the level of writing in Japanese language as our excerpt revealed, one does not speak Japanese in a similar plural way. Japanese speech, as we have tried to show, is grounded in lalangue and the letter.         

1-5 Scripture and the equivocal interpretation. 

Our exploration of how to approach Japanese speech would not have any meaning, if it doesn’t lead to a productive way of conducting psychoanalysis with Japanese subjects, a productive way to make the unconscious heard. In contrast to the hypothesis that Japanese subjects do not need an subscription to the unconscious, we posit that one, by using the Lacanian equivocal interpretation, an interpretation directly using lalangue, one can (force) the subject to hear the unconscious, force the subject to hear that what does not want to be heard (Note 9).

Within the equivocal interpretation, the conversion of speech into a form of scripture – a play with homophony/equivoque as supported by the very fact that what is pronunciated in the same way can be written in different ways, plays a very important role (Miller, 2009). This notion of scripture is very relevant when speaking about the unconscious in Japan, as we have, like mentioned above, three different scriptures in Japanese. But this multitude of scriptures should not detract us from the fact that, from the moment, one utters a formation of unconscious (like a dream) or produces a formation of the unconscious (like a slip of the tongue or a witz) one, as argued earlier, resides in the phonetic dimension of the Japanese language, i.e. within its lalanguistic dimension. In other words, if one links the unconscious and its formations to scripture, one means the fundamental relation the unconscious has with the lalangue and thus with the place, the letter, where a differential element of language appears.

In order to illustrate this, we would like to present a short case-fragment – a fragment illustrating Osagawa’s slight caricature of a Lacanian psychoanalyst. Our case concerns a Japanese man in his early twenties, who suffers from an inability to mingle in the social field. In speaking about his problem, he would often resort to using the Japanese signifier of strength [ちから/力] – used mostly in the context of lacking strength to go outside, to enter the social field. One other aspect that the analyst noticed in his speech was how the position of his father remained unformulated. One session, the analyst, upon hearing the signifier 力, isolated the ち from the から. Returning this ‘strength’ in this way, the young man, who was startled, was given a fragment of lalangue to be interpreted. While this fragment can be read as 地から (from the land), he immediately heard it as 血から (from the blood), a fragment he eventually related to his father, the father, as the analysis progressed, who was revealed as closely linked with his symptom.

This example illustrates, as Osagawara will corroborate, that it is indeed the play with the Japanese lalangue that sorts effects in psychoanalytic therapy with Japanese subjects. It is this lalanguistic play that opens a way to another meaning as well as to another way of writing, a way of writing obviously affecting the kanji. That the subject finds some orientation in the kanji in order to situate his analyst’s interpretation – a situating supporting the free association, does not, in any way, contradict the phonemic nature of the Japanese unconscious. The choice the subject makes, with respect to how to read the fragment of lalangue in kanji, is born from the singular way by which he hears that fragment of Lalangue.

3- Conclusion

3-1 Why Joyce was not needed. 

Through our exploration of Japanese language, through our reading of how the Japanese language functions, a reading based on Lacanian theory and linguistics, we clearly underlined the incompatibility of approaching Japanese language with Joyce’s particular telescoping operation on the English language. Furthermore, we have illustrated with a clinical example – in line with Osagawara’s description of a Lacanian psychoanalyst –  that our reading of the Japanese language underlines the relevancy of the equivocal interpretation, a kind of interpretation that sorts clinical effects.

Nevertheless, we have refrained from commenting on Ogasawara’s hypothesis, his hypothesis that the hole (of the unconscious) can be plugged by a S1 or by lalangue itself in the case of psychotic phenomena, and his statement that “most of […] (his) patients come to psychoanalysis because they are not capable of being sufficiently pervert nor paranoiac in […] particularly Japanese ways” (Osagawara, 2019). The main reason for our constraint is that even by underlining the incompatibility of Joyce’s project with the Japanese language our formulation does not lead to a falsification of Ogasawara’s hypothesis and statement. In other words, our exploration of the incompatibility of Jocye’s project with Japanese language ultimately reveals that Osagawara did not need Joyce in order to arrive at his hypothesis and statement.

Even though we refrained from formulating our thoughts on Osagawara’s conclusions, the attentive reader might have noted a subtle evocation of what will be become our guiding-question in subsequent articles: given the fact that the unconscious, to be understood as an “élucubration de savoir sur lalangue”, is alive and well within Japanese society and within Japanese subjects, why is it so difficult for the unconscious to make itself heard (Miller, 1998 [1996], p.17)?

3-2  Some remarks for our future exploration.

Having introduced our guiding-question, we can now highlight some aspects that will guide the path of our future articles. One aspect that will guide us concerns the notions of paranoia and perversion that Osagawara, as possible responses to what he calls “the pre-dominance of master-significance”, introduces. Let  us note that these terms remain rather vague within Osagawara’s discourse. Does he imply that Japanese society produces more subjects with a perverse and paranoiac structure than neurotics or he mean, as can read in his later comments, that Japanese neurotics come into analysis when there are not perverse or not paranoiac enough? Without delving further in the sea of questions Osagawara’s article causes, it should be clear that a lot of statements need further clarification (Note 10).

The second aspect concerns the capitalistic discourse. We need to explore how the capitalistic discourse functions and how it impacts Japanese society as well as Osagawara’s notion of the master-significance. Related to the exploration of the impact the destructive presence of capitalistic discourse has on the Japanese subject, we’ll also need to address the state of mental health in Japan.

Lastly, the final aspect that will guide us, concerns the remarks that Lacan makes about the function of the “relations de politesse”: “Elle est pourtant promue de là comme référent aussi essentiel que toute chose, et ceci change le statut du sujet. Qu’il s’appuie sur un ciel constellé, et non seulement sur le trait unaire, pour son identification fondamentale, explique qu’il ne puisse prendre appui que sur le Tu, c’est‐à‐dire sous toutes les formes grammaticales dont le moindre énoncé se varie des relations de politesse qu’il implique dans son signifié. La vérité y renforce la structure de fiction que j’y dénote, de ce que cette fiction soit soumise aux lois de la politesse” (lacan, 2001, p 19). Lacan adds: “C’est sans doute ce qui a donné à Roland Barthes ce sentiment enivré que de toutes ses manières le sujet japonais ne fait enveloppe à rien. L’empire des signes, intitule‐t‐il son essai voulant dire : L’empire des semblants (Lacan, 2001, p 19). Both these statements seem to imply, as another friend of mine argued, that “the Japanese subject maintains unity through a principle of constellation: the Japanese see themselves reflected in the social-institutional hierarchy, which they perceive as being as eternal as the celestial bodies” (Shingu, 2005) (Note 11). As both the statements of Lacan and Shingu point towards the importance of keigo, i.e. that what structures the relations of politeness, for the Japanese subject, we are of course obliged to investigate how the contemporary Japanese subject, as affected by the capitalistic discourse, meets that relational structuring aspect of the Japanese language (Note 12).

Notes

Note 1: Let us note that Lacan highlights that Joyce’s trans-linguistic telescoping in some instances is also able to produce a homophonic play (Lacan, 2005). But Joyce’s puns have, as we said before, not a pun-quality for the reader.

Note 2: Lacan will also highlight that while his symptom (Finnigans wake) concern nothing but lalangue, he himself had no relation whatsoever with lalangue.

On a side not, Joyce’s symptom furthermore concerns a kind of destruction/murder of language.

Note 3: The 2010 edition of Sanseido’s Concise Dictionary of Foreign Words lists over 56,300 foreign words in the Japanese language.

Note 4: If one asks an adult Japanese person to visualize certain spoken signifiers, one will find that the more abstract ones are, sometimes, visualized as kanji, while the more concrete ones, like rabbit, are ever visualized as pictures. This finding implies that the kanji, as ideographic elements, has an important imaginary function as such.

Note 5: Part-signifier refers to the fact that some kanji are only grammatically functional when combined with hiragana or with other kanji. The kanji 聞 for instance cannot, to the best of my knowledge, be used in isolation – it needs another kanji to form a noun or a hiragana to form a verb. But this does not stop the kanji, when presented as written in isolation, from already implying some possible ways of meaning, e.g. in the case of 聞 a meaning related to listening, asking or hearing.

Let us note, on a side note, that Osagawara says that “there are a lot of exceptional cases, for example a Chinese character can have more than one on-yomi or more than one kun-yomi, and there are characters without on-yomi or without kun-yomi in Japanese”.

Note 6: Note that Karatani underlines that the externality of the kanji is not felt in Japan: “Therefore, in Japan, like in Korea, there is no rejection of Chinese characters as foreign. Even though Chinese characters remain within Japan, their externality is erased.” (Karatani, 2008). 

While we do not contend, like Karatani, that Japanese have no unconscious, his remark of psychoanalysis being essential in Japan in order to escape the kara-gokoro (Chinese mindedness) and to posses the Yamato-gokoro (Japanese spirit) is interesting to ponder about. 

Note 7: To truly explore the complexity of the Chinese character’s function within the Japanese unconscious – an unconscious as conceptualized by Freud, one would have to analyze dreams, slips of the tongue, jokes,… etc. Let us just highlight that, in our view, the Kanji can as much be used to close the unconscious as it is able to be exploited, as a visual element, by the unconscious as such.

To give an example of the former, I once had the honour to hear a Japanese person mis-saying the name of a certain person. When I underlined this slip of the tongue, he immediately shielded himself by saying that he had just missed with the Kanji – one has to believe in the unconscious in order to take it seriously. The attentive reader will immediately see that this defensive shielding does not resolve the possibility of exploring the unconscious: behind the defensive shield the question why this element of lalangue appeared and not another remains. The question of the misreading has to formulated at the level of the Japanese lalangue, not at the level of the ideographic character.

Note 8: Let us also note that some transformations are, given the native phonology of the given language, unnecessary. While these adaptations can be said to be non-phonological, these signifiers nevertheless fit the lalangue of the given language.

Note 9: If we call the interpretation Lacanian, we aim to underline that it differs from the Freudian interpretation. While the Freudian interpretation is a translation, a seductive translation driving on the flow of the unconscious that can easily form an obstacle, due to the excesses that it leads to, for the continuation of the treatment, the Lacanian interpretation aims to function as a revelation, a revelation pointing to the non-existence of the sexual relationship.

Note 10: If we read Osagawara’s comment as concerning neurotics, the question that one can then pose is where the perverse structures and psychotic structures have gone to. Further questions include: How does this paranoia manifests? Can we speak of paranoia when the underlying structure is neurotic? How to discern between the sexual perversion of the neurotic and the perverse structure?

Note 11: In this light, we also want to give a better translation to the one Osagawara proposes for his quote from the post-face of seminar 11: “So much so that I told myself that the speaking being might thereby escape from the artifices of the unconscious that do not reach him on account of closing up there (Translated by Adrian Price, in Hurly‐Burly, No. 7, January 2012, pp.17‐21). Lacan seems to associate this escape as being function from the grammatical rules as related to politeness – the constellated sky of semblants.

Let us also note that there is, in our view, no equivalence between this statement and Lacan’s statement that Joyce is unsubscribed to the unconscious. Lacan’s statement concerning Joyce concerns a radicality, whereas Lacan’s statement concerning the Japanese subject concerns a possibility, a careful consideration worthy to discuss.

Note 12: Somewhat unrelated but of capital importance for our future article, is the difference between signification and sense. Signification is, as Soller (2003) highlights “the signified as grammatically determined, produced and fixed by syntax“. She contrasts this with sense which is “that part of the signified which is not reducible to signification”. After the grammatical and semantic significations of a text are knownwe are always able to question the meaning (sense) as such. This distinction shows that there is a beyond the signification which is sense.

References:

Jonckheere L. (2006). Nora als Sintoom Van Joyce? In Inwit.

Soller C. (2003). The paradoxes of the symptom in psychoanalysis. In The cambridge Companion to Lacan (Ed. Rabaté, J.-M.). Cambridge University Press: New York, pp. 86-101.

Lacan, J. (2005). Séminaire XXIII: Le sinthome. Éditions du Seuil; Paris

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