The Expansion of the Subject (2005)

The Expansion of the Subject (2005)
by Jasna Koteska

Published in: Gender and Identity, Theories from and/or on Southeastern Europe, editors Jelisaveta Blagoevic, Katerina Kolozova and Svetlana Slapsak, Athena Network, OSI Network Women's Program, New York, Research Center in Gender Studies - Skopje and Belgrade Women's Studies and Gender Research Center, 2006, 67-85.


‘The discovery of the unconscious is still fresh and we have an opportunity,
one that has not existed before, for a turnaround.’
Jacques Lacan

We begin this text with the opening of the question on the status of the unconscious in Freud' work. We trust that this central issue of psychoanalysis is not void of certain conceptual wallings which we shall call ontological because they stand as gaps around the question on the nature of the unconscious. In the 11th seminar to Jacques-Alain Miller’s question on the status of the unconscious, Lacan answers that the unconscious has a vague ontic status, but does have a structure, that the gap of the unconscious is pre-ontological, and finally, that the status of the unconscious is ethical, rendered to it by its discoverer, Freud.

When saying that the unconscious has a pre-ontological status it means that the unconscious is a kind of pre-something in real existence; that although it has a structure with which it influences the something, it itself is not something. When saying that the unconscious has an ethical status it means that it relates in a certain manner to the other as well, not only to the subject. The unconscious links to the subject through the symptom as a manifestation (Jacques-Alain Miller writes in the text ‘Σ (x)’ that the symptom may be regarded as proof of the unconscious) and to the other it is linked by the remaining manifestations of the unconscious: the dream, the slip of the tongue, the error due to the fact that they can be verified only through the other. But Lacan is decisive that the ethical status does not mean metapsychic, i.e. ontological consequences cannot be drawn from this ethic dimension. Precisely this structural make-up of the unconscious in Freud is, according to Lacan, his greatest methodological virtue; the fact that Freud never substantialises the unconscious. Freud’s unconscious never gets a description, especially not of the order of phantom attributes, even though it is there before – something.

Here we shall once again try to look at that pre-ontic or vague ontic status of the unconscious. Already Lacan himself detected in Freud a point of declination of the thought, of surrender of his interpretational capacities. That particular point is the first dream analysed in the seventh, last chapter of Freud’s book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’. Freud mentions that the dream he is about to tell is one that he had heard told by his patient, who in turn had heard the dream at a lecture on the dream.

The context in which the dream occurred is as follows. A father had been standing day and night over his sick child. The child died and he entered the neighbouring room to rest for a while leaving the door from the room where the dead child lay accompanied by an old man whispering prayers. A few hours later the father dreamt that the child is standing next to his bed and touching his hand saying ‘Daddy, can’t you see I’m burning?’ When he woke up he saw an intense light coming from the room in which the old guardian had dozed off and a fire had started to spread from the burning candle that fell on the hand of his dead child.

In this touching dream, obviously important to Freud, there is a lack of explanation, Freud refuses to go where this dream is taking him. Freud chooses the most plausible interpretation of the dream: the light from the room shone through the open door and gave the dreamer a feeling similar to being awake. The fire started from the fallen candle and the father, probably worried that the old guardian might not be fit for his task, took his worry with himself in the dream. The text of the dream was several times determined by the words that the child had directed to the father. For example, ‘I am burning’, as the fever of which the child suffered. ‘Daddy, can’t you see’, as a scene filled with affect, but for us, says Freud, remaining forever unknown, etc. The question that he asks himself: that under these circumstances such a dream had however appeared which is closest to the space of awakening, Freud answers with the thesis that the dream is the fulfilment of a wish – for the child to act as if it were alive, to mention its father, to tug his arm and to take on the same speech as if it would if it were alive.

‘If the father would have woken up first and only then have come to a conclusion that would have taken him to the bedroom, he would have, so to speak, shortened the life of the child for this one moment’ says Freud and ends his interpretation with a simple comment that it is obvious that with this little dream with its particularity our attention is drawn. But, this is where Freud’s interpretation ends. He suspends the possibility of the statement ‘Daddy, can’t you see I’m burning’ to be interpreted differently but as a staging of the fathers memories of his child. That’s how Freud’s double meaning persists that either the particularity with which this dream attracts us is only in our affectedness towards the emotionality of the dream or that it has something more in it. But, already Freud’s last sentence on this issue states that the dream does not set any kind of interpretation task because its sense is given in a straightforward manner. That is all we shall find on it in Freud. Lacan says that this dream is different from the other analysed ones in Freud and that Freud does not use the dream due to that fact that for him it’s not the truth that is important, but the certainty.

This dream is the most obsessive point for Lacan as well in the 11th seminar. After having touched upon the aforementioned dream in several successive lectures, he himself also bids farewell to his analysis, stating that all that he wants to say concerning that dream can remain a mystery. That is strategically the best solution if we consider Wittgenstein’s suggestion that ‘For the answer that cannot be formulated, a question can also not be formulated. The riddle is gone’ and that is what Freud does, he tells us that the dream is not a riddle because there is no answer (that he can find).

However, the fact that a question is not asked, does not mean that there is no question. If Freud ignores the dream to make the theory certain, the truth sacrificed in the process, the question that appears is the one of which truth is sacrificed on account of this dream? What is the mystery that cannot be revealed in this dream? It is the possibility for the unconscious to have a more determined ontic status than the one ascribed to Freud. In this dream there are not only unrealised contents, but there are real ones as well. He partially destroys the function of the unconscious to create an oblivion, deletion, because the individual traumatic experience restructures the unconscious which instead of only censoring, here also communicates with part of the signifiers (censors death, but communicates the fire). Therefore the content of this dream is not situated in the logical time of the unconscious alone, but also in the historical time, i.e. it is in certain concurrence with reality.

On this dream Lacan says that we can speak of several realities, one of them totally missed. Lacan’s most intriguing question on this dream is ‘Is the other reality waking us up in the dream?’ That question contains within itself various ontological possibilities, for example a polyontological nature of things, polyontology of the human psychic nature, correspondence of the subject of the dream and the subject of being awake. These questions are treated as not possible, as if they cannot be placed within psychoanalysis because it is set as a science that does not enter the other side of the metapsychic. However that is exclusively a problem of the doctrine and it is in no way the essential resistance towards ‘that side’ as it may seem at first glance.


The problem with the unwillingness to speak of that-sidedness lies in Freud’s positioning of the subject as a contracted subject.

Classical psychoanalysis is a narrative of at least two reductions of the subject. The first reduction is the subject of consciousness in regard to the Cartesian subject (which is already contracted to a thinking subject). This appears strange because today we, in a structural sense, regard Freud’s subject of being far broader than the Cartesian one because it has gained a great unconscious, but what can be done with it in a sense of manoeuvring (therefore conscious) action?

Paradoxically, the second reduction comes from the part that has already contracted – the unconscious and moreover in a doctor’s office where the symptom synecdochically ‘conquers’ the subject. Jacques-Alain Miller writes of this: ‘If you have a symptom, for the doctor you are the symptom.’ This, so to speak, symptomisation of the becoming a subject is a process that does not happen only in the doctor’s office, but consequently affects the theoretical discourse.

It is never, in a strictly theoretical sense, wrong to contract the subject to an absurd because it does not affect the truth, which, if it appears and if the appearance is at all of any importance, it shall always do it only in circumstances of difficulty (as the enlightening place in Heidegger reads that ‘specifically the primary task of philosophy is to complicate, to burden the here-being (which then becomes historical.’).

As it is not wrong for the subject to also expand to an absurd. If we speak in the sense of Wittgenstein, the subject does not belong to the world, but is a boundary of the world in the sense in which the world is my world. But, also to agree with Lacan’s interpretation of Freud that it is not operational to talk of a substance when talking of the psychic (the argument because of which Lacan considers Jung a failure), the problem actually isn’t at all in the substance, but in the border. In some sense, the entire philosophy of the subject is a debate over where the border of the subject shall be drawn. By border we do not mean a quantified border because already Lacan explains that the subject does not have a space that it inhabits in the Cartesian universe, there are no quantified dimensions, just maybe formulas, as the formula of the subject for Lacan is that it is the location or the place-interval between perception and consciousness. This of course works with a very important addition and actually a genius idea of Lacan’s, that the guarantee that the subject is (that he/she is as an inter-interval between perception and consciousness) lies in a point outside the subject unto itself, and that is the other.

For Lacan the other is a guarantee of the subject due to two factors of the field of the other: the desire and the gaze.

Yet, there are at least two subjects that escape this determination, the schizophrenic and the autistic. The schizophrenic, in a certain sense, is not included in any discourse, in any social relation, because he/she is the only subject that does not defend itself from the real through symbols, through language, as Jacques-Alain Miller puts it. Neither is he/she determined by the other through the gaze, nor by the desire. Here we most certainly have a subject, that is the subject of schizophrenia, but there is no gaze that defines it. That is, there is a subject and no other.

At least three implications can be drawn from these examples.

1. The first and most important one is that if for the subject of schizophrenia and autism there is no social context, there is no Other, that is only so because the schizophrenic becomes a sociality unto itself, in the sense that his/her experience from the other is not mediated through relations, he/she has a direct experience from the other, i.e. an experience in which the border between the subject and the other is erased. They would be a concurrence in one.

2. The second one comes from this one and today represents a general space: the subject and the other are not symmetric – various post-modern thinkers have independently come to this. The manner in which they are not symmetric is polyvalent: either the other is more or the subject is more; or the division subject – object is ‘subjective’ i.e. incorrect, i.e. ontologically everything is both a subject and object; or, contrary to Aristotle’s logic, there is a third possibility. To mark that the third possibility here could also be the concurrence of the two in one.

3. As third, the other is not a guarantor of my certainty. This could be an important direction for the post-Lacanian stream represented by Jacques-Alain Miller. Miller excludes the other as a guarantor of the certainty of the subject and sets the symptom as the only guarantor of the unconscious. As we wrote earlier, for Miller only the symptom is not dependant on the interpretation of the other, therefore the subject is determined solely by the ‘solitude of the symptom’. This development is interesting because it shows that the line of thought today does not radicalise Lacan’s intuition that something of the subject lies in the field of the Other, but returns it to the bodily presence of the subject, and not just in any body, but in the symptomatic body.

This step of medicalisation of certainty excludes the ethic dimension that Lacan draws as central for Freud’s unconscious. The symptom closes the ontology as based exclusively on materiality, materiality of the subject unto itself, and certainty stations itself back in the corporeal field of the subject.

Let us see another possibility in the post-Lacanian stream that allows the imagining of even more complex (and less standard) unsocial subjects. We read the possibility of such subjects as a consequence of the declination from Lacan in Alenka Zupancic. There is a place there that reads: ‘If the (constitutive) ego is the seeing one, but at the price of never seeing the gaze, then the subject is not the one looking at the gaze, but it is the gaze itself.’

This is a reduction of the Lacanian localisation of the subject as a place – interval between perception and consciousness. Here the subject is free from the upper border of consciousness and is defined only in relation with the lower – perception; at the same time the gaze is separated from the other and returned in ownership of the subject, i.e. is identical with it. Except for the unsocial subjects of schizophrenia and autism as a possibility of concurrence of the subject and an other, in this declination from Lacan we also read the possibility of supposing other unsocial subjects, for example here we set a thesis: why not to think as possible the existing of one, let’s call it, ‘subject-dream’?

Already Lacan in the 11th seminar vividly describes our perception and consciousness in the dream in the following manner: ‘Our position in the dream is of the one that does not see’; there is an absence of the horizon, the subject of the dream follows and as long as it follows it cannot declare ‘I am the consciousness of this dream’. But if we turn the viewpoint, there is something else there that has the legitimacy of a subject, and that is the dream itself. Namely, Lacan explains that the condition for there to be a gaze is to show that there is looking going on. The condition of being awake is a gaze that can never be seen, but the other way around, each awaken moment of looking involves an indication that there is looking going on. In the dream there is no gaze because there is no indication that any looking is going on, there is only following. But, the other way around, the text of the dream looks at the dreamer and shows that it looks, the dream has a gaze and it also has a text and with that text it speaks to us.

Why then cannot a situation in which there is another subject, the ‘subject-dream’, be thinkable. It satisfies the standard of a subject by showing that it is looking, and in a certain sense ‘talking’ (one of Lacan’s definitions of a subject is that it is a talking subject, and in the dream it is the text of the dream talking) and also the dream is a distinction of a psychic function (in the 11th seminar Lacan defines the subject as a distinction of the psychic function as well). Only, that function in the dream does not belong to the dreamer or to the one hallucinating, but belongs exactly to the dream. It is then, in the moment of dreaming, the dreamer turns into a certain anti-subject (which is clear already from Freud – a manifestation of the unconscious occurs in the dream). But, here we add another opportunity – the dream to be structured as a subject without an anthropomorphic carrier.

All that was said for the subject dream may also concern the subject hallucination. Between the dream and the hallucination there is a close connection, which according to some research, is of the same organic source.

There too, something is looking and shows that it is looking at the one that in the given moment is turned into an anti-subject, that is where the text of hallucination says things that this anti-subject should hear. They, in the moment when they are, structure the awake subject into an anti-subject and they themselves gain the potential of a subject. Now back to the disputable dream in Freud. Isn’t what goes on in Freud’s disputable dream the same with what goes on in the hallucination? The hallucination is a perception that does not happen in the sense of a suited perception that does not occur in the sense of one suited reality, the subject also follows without looking but is seen in the gaze of the hallucination.

Isn’t the possibility of accepting the existence of such subjects: subject-dream and subject-hallucination one of the ways of solving the disputable dream in Freud? In such cases we get a clear ontic substance. Of course, what rises up in us against its acceptance is the loss of the certainty, in order to accept this possibility we need to surrender our sense of ourselves as sovereign and unique ontologically possible beings.

No one says that it is easy. But, this possibility makes space for suitable realities. We don’t need to call one of the realities missed, it is only a reality that exists at the time of the other subject, at the time when I am an anti-subject. The two realities suit well, just they suit two subjects. There is no missed reality, i.e. it exists only in an epistemological sense, when we close the subject in the constricted frames of classical psychoanalysis.

Finally, if we give the dream and the hallucination status of independent subjects that for a moment destroy the awake subject, from them the dimension of the social of which we perceive that it always floats around the definition of the subject is automatically excluded.

To return to the place in Jacques-Alain Miller for whom the dream is not even a proof of the unconscious. He says that of the dream it can simply be said that it is just a dream, and that it often happens to psychoanalytics as well. But the act of not analysing the dream does not mean that the dream ceases to be a phenomenon of importance. On the contrary, it maybe gets a greater value, or a value independent of the subject. Also, if sociality is absent from the dream and the hallucination, finally in the symptom as ‘alone’ as well, does that not mean that these phenomena being irrational contain sociality unto itself, i.e. the otherness unto itself? Similar to the schizophrenic and the autistic, only the latter have a body.

Nowhere does the subject need to be thought as a part of the body. That is, why not think of a situation of a subject totally independent of and unconnected to the body?


Now we go a bit deeper in a generic sense – to the beginning of life, to the pre-Oedipal subject. It is generally interpreted by two streams in psychoanalysis that are in mutual conflict, although with certain commonality, that conflict could easily be proclaimed an aberration. The first stream is represented by the Freudians (Piaget also belongs here) and later Lacan as well, whose theory of the mirror stage is a radicalisation of this doctrine. The second stream starts with Melanie Klein and is, with certain revisions, adopted by Julia Kristeva.

What went on in the wild world at the beginning of the psychic life, before matter and objects came into being? All thinkers from the first stream say that consciousness does not commence together with the beginning of existence, but at least 6 months later.

Sigmund Freud writes of the newborn as of a Narcissus or unconscious egocentrism, Anna Freud speaks of non-differentiation as absence of a psychic centre – the baby has no consciousness of itself, it has no consciousness of the border of the internal and outside world and does not differentiate between I and the others meaning that there is an absence of the idea of the other. J. M. Baldwin speaks of a dualism, Walon of symbiosis. Piaget gives detail to Freud by saying that instead of early narcissism we should speak of a narcissism without a Narcissus.

Piaget describes the newborn’s early universe as a world without objects, there are only images that disperse either forever, or to return, either the same or similar and the baby needs at most 18 months to learn to set itself in as an object in a world filled with other objects. The baby’s world knows not of time and space in which objects and events exist, but only of a sum of heterogenic spaces made up of the parts of its body and some time impressions, for example waiting. It has no idea of causality and the early cause-effect relation is a magic-phenomenal one.

The second stream in the interpretation of the psychic life of the newborn gives us the only lady psychoanalyst that tried to view the pre-Oedipal child as a complex being. For Melanie Klein it has a capacity for complex emotions that immediately receive their functions in the early-integrated ego located in the baby, together with a clear consciousness of the objects and of their use. According to Klein the baby differentiates two types of objects at an early stage: good and bad (the first being, for example, the mother’s breasts and the second being anything that does not feed and comfort).

The thesis on absence of consciousness of the I in the early months was also supported by the reformers of Freud’s teaching, Julia Kristeva and Jacques Lacan. The only key difference in Kristeva is the stressing of the relation of the proto-subject with the mother’s body which in classical psychoanalysis is treated just as any other relation. Freudians and cognitivists count only with the importance of the object relations and believe that the baby as a subject that shall be shall establish a relationship with any affective object, considering that the interaction is an independent changeable measure, while the factor ‘mother’ is of no importance. Behind this ordinary interchangeability, hides the meta-faith in the certainty of the consciousness, although the theory of the given start of subjectivity is intended to strengthen the exclusion of the initial consciousness.

Although it may be true that the child shall develop affective relations towards any object in its environment, as well as towards every more frequently present person, his theory might stand as long as we believe that there is a symmetry between the subject and the other. But this relation is not symmetrical, as we presented earlier.

However, another very important question also appears here: why is the start of the subject suspended, i.e. why does it have two births – one of the physical body and the other of the psychic one? If there are two births, then this period of empty existence, of existence without consciousness cannot be insignificant to the construction of subjectivity. In order to answer this question, except for keeping the current definition of a subject as it is understood in Lacan (and inter-interval between perception and consciousness), we clarify two more definitions.

1. Consciousness – we incline towards the part of cognitive scientists that perceive, in the most general sense, consciousness as self-consciousness. Conscious is what is conscious for itself.

2. We comprehend the psychic in the definition that Jung gives in the book ‘Archaic Man’: the psychic is that which has a will to change the reflexive and the instinctive.

That is why for the first stream the believe that the subject does not exist immediately following the existence of the physical body is important, because the newborn does not perceive and has no consciousness of awareness of itself, meaning that it is not conscious of the other, meaning that it has no consciousness. Also, it is not a talking subject and won’t be one until it is 18 months old. But nothing in these theories says that a certain psychic does not actually begin with the very beginning of life.

Piaget who was primarily interested in the modes of cognisance, recorded peculiar behaviour in four-and-a-half-month-old babies. When they want to move an object that is in the corner of the room, they pull the string that is hanging over the crib. From this behaviour that does not take into account the spatial distance of the objects, Piaget came to the conclusion that the baby has no idea of causality, it does not know of the laws of cause and effect and regards its only action as a centre of all events. Because of this conclusion he simply proclaimed the theory of undifferentiatedness in Freud’s psychoanalysis as correct.

But, let us once again take a look at that freedom in behaviour that counts on the possibility to act in a godly manner regardless of the concepts of time and space. What gives the baby the right to think that it is almighty in the administration of space that is not at its physical disposure? Isn’t that something that is from the psychic domain? It never underlies in the psychic that it actually concerns a bodily possibility, and the wish to move a distant object is here a clear sign of will power as a psychic activity. If a four-and-a-half-month-old baby has will power activity, then it is the minimum being with psychic content.

Why not suppose that the baby considers the moving of the distant object possible? Just as the baby has a low physical homeostasis it also has a low will power activity. (Namely, the baby at this age has a low homeostasis, although it is not the lowest one because that would be the nothingness from which it has just emerged. The low homeostasis is manifested as the non-existence of a clear consciousness of the boundaries of one’s own body. In paediatrics it has long ago been noticed that new born babies just a few days old are afraid of their own hands, and it is considered that that is the result of the unawareness that the hands are part of one’s own body. Lacan, and later Kristeva, write that the newborn does not feel its body as integral, but more rather as fragmented).

But if we count on the low physical homeostasis, then we need to count on the low physical coordination. The will power of the newborn maybe equally interferes with the leaching of someone else’s will power. In other words, it is possible that the newborn has an inbuilt psychic gift with which it believes a certain psychic ‘intertwining’ possible. We are used to count on the expansion of the psyche inwards, towards the unconscious and that is because we experience the subject as someone that dwells in a given and ready-made body. We should consider the possibility – precisely that low coherence of the will of being an early witness of a certain capacity for communication that is outside the medium. We should consider as a possibility the capacity of the psyche to expand outwards towards the unknown just as it can go inwards. Just as the baby, as part of survival, uses the mother’s body as a cane, it can also without any medium use someone else’s psychic. The baby talks to Piaget: you have put that rattling object there in the corner of the room, help me reach it! The pulling of the string over the crib is a sign of will power and its psyche counts on the one conducting the experiment as a matrix on which it shall be a parasite.

The magnificence of this will power to move a distant object, isn’t it maybe suppressed in the name of the science by the one conducting the experiment? But, today we know that the one conducting the experiment is not deprived of subjectivity and a priori prone to legitimacy, as it was considered in the time of Freud and also of Piaget. Today we know that the one conducting the experiment can ‘direct’, can ‘force’ the result of his/her experiment, so the baby has the right to complain on the interpretations that Piaget later draws from there! This example is similar to Pavlov’s reflex, because that experiment too is mediated in the domains of the psychic. Of Pavlov’s poor animal Lacan writes as if of a cut in the desire; the experiment may create in it a whole set of psychic turmoil, but because it is not a creature that speaks, it has not been called upon to question the wish of the one conducting the experiment.

Also, in a certain sense, the mother’s body is also not mediated by speech, but by the negotiation with someone else’s wish, the relation of which is directed by outside psychisms. If the pulling of the string hanging above the crib is a gesture of will power, an early recording of the conception of the psychic, at the moment when the will power sets in motion, the first seeing occurs, that is an exchange in the domain of the psychic. That is a pseudo-identification that yet must exist for some reason. If we set a thesis that some kind of touching of the psychic is possible, what is that that makes it possible? If this gesture speaks of the surpassing of the traditional borders of the subject and expansion in its field in the domain of the non-subject, then how does that relation that does not count on the spatial restriction occur?


In the middle of the 1990s a new class of neurons was discovered the early anticipation of which is the poetic description of the existence of the subject out of itself of Lacan.

Here is how this neuron category is described in sci-pop style (from the article in the Wired magazine): ‘The child looks at its mother as she picks up the toy. The child laughs ‘mommy wants to play’. The husband watches his wife as she picks up the car keys from the table. He trembles ‘this time she is really gone’. The nurse looks at the needle sticking into the elderly patient. She flinches ‘it must have hurt’. How do these people know what the other is thinking? How do they judge their intentions and feelings, how do they determine the goals and the trust of the other? It seems simple, but the child can also come to a conclusion that mommy wants to leave, or the husband can think that his wife wants to play. However, they are not mistaken. They know.’

The key to the mystery of this capacity for anticipation of someone else’s intentions is detected in the chance discovery of a new class of neurons by a group of Italian scientists which, when they started monitoring the activity of the neurons in monkeys brains in the early 1990s, did not expect to find anything as radical as this. They called this new class of neurons a mirror class.

The mirror neurons are active when the subject is in the process of performing a certain task, for example, rising its hand, and in that sense they are insignificant. But the same neurons fire off when their owner sees someone else performing the same task, for example, how the other rises his/her/its hand. They are activated by a kind of empathy, as a certain reflection of the activity of the other, i.e. as a kind of simulation of the activity of the other.

Such simulation witnesses that between me and the other one that I am watching there is a strong, unmediated relation. The conduct of the other is produced and at the same moment reproduced in me, which means that each conduct always comes not as one and individualistic, but always as, at least, double, i.e. doubled. That is, between me and the other there is a relation that is not mediated in a physical sense, and in the essence is a simulation.

It is interesting, however, that although the activity of the brain is identical, yet the one watching won’t raise his/her/its hand in reality as the one that is watched. Most of the time, a strong brain inhibition shall stop the one watching from activating his/her/its motorics in order to simulate the activity he/she/it is watching. But, the unease that we feel when someone is struggling to thread a needle is proof that these inhibitors don’t always block and not with the same success that primitive, unmediated dialogue between the subject and the other.

These neurons may appear as very important in the constituting of subjectivity. If, neurologically, there is concurrence between me and the other, then that concurrence is not just an empty abstraction, but an essential psychic synchrony, i.e. relatedness. That means that our timeliness are the same, i.e. there is one repeated, i.e. duplicated timeliness, and only one of the two is stopped.

The newborn in Piaget may receive pseudo-identification, i.e. may function through such an identification matrix with the other ‘ready-made’ talking subject. That means that the proto-subject is already a potential subject at the moment when around it there is another ‘ready-made’ subject, for example the mother. That is, the proto-subject receives the potential for the subject at the moment when it first sees someone else around itself.

This kind of mirror identification happens for the first time as a seeing, i.e. as a consequence of the perceptive. One part of the cognitivists that criticised Piaget’s claim that the newborn does not perceive objects around itself, came forward with an experiment conducted on newborns just a few days old. An image of a falling stone was screened to the newborns and they moved before this screened image. This of course might as well be instinctive, reflex movement, but however it is proof of a certain perception. If it is perception, then the newborn is not entirely without something that we would call a down border of the subject – perception. As proto-subjects that perceive, even if it may be rudimentary, the newborn most certainly percept the activity of the other as well and through the mirror neurons simulate the same. If the mother as a ‘ready-made’ subject has lifted her hand, the newborn as a proto-subject, finishes the movement within itself.

That is a simulation that does not happen in the sense of a realisation, but happens in the sense of a simulation of motorics. Lacan prophetically explains each movement as a freezing. He says: ‘The look in itself not only finishes the movements, but also hides them’. That means that the gaze is a sufficient and necessary condition for the completion of each action of the subject. The activity of the mother is completed by the newborn’s gaze, the newborn completes it and freezes the mother’s movement in a ‘magical moment’.

We are not talking here only of the taking away of the gaze, but of a more substantial inauguration as well of a proto-subject in a subject that shows mimesis in the time which was considered that it is not capable of differentiating itself from the other. Neurologists say that at the time of birth almost all neurons that a brain will have are already formed, they are just not set "in place". With each experience, look, sound, touch, they spark off and are set aflame. Always when they are set aflame they build a relationship with other neurons. If this is so, then the newborn can already very early ‘see’ activities that it completes within itself, i.e. it prepares itself for the subject it will become one day.

Why is this important? Because it is obvious that the newborn neurologically mimes each action of the other, it at the same time mimes the idea of self as well. It takes over the idea of the self from the other. Due to the fact that it at that moment is too weak for physical or psychic coordination and coherency, it only inhibits them in itself, i.e. completes the notions of self taken over from the other, but does not just yet imitate or emanate them.

A summary that we suggest in relation to present theoretical psychoanalysis on the beginning of subjectivity would first and foremost be that we are dealing with scalability. If this is so then the discovery of the self cannot occur in a spectacular image (‘star spectacle’ as Lacan calls it) somewhere around the sixth month in the life of the newborn when it suddenly sees itself in the mirror, i.e. in Lacan’s mirror stage. This narrative is no more accurate that Freud’s one on the horde that murders the father. We are dealing with a point that is turned into a story. If we say that the centre of the psychic is being taken over from another body and is not necessarily situated in one’s own body, then we automatically have permission to think the possibility of the existence of the abovementioned concurrent subjects, the subject dream and the subject hallucination, as a start, i.e. to think of such subjects that within themselves unite the possibility of otherness and that witness that we are deep in fundamental deception when we believe that the subject should directly connect to a bodily subject.

Translated into English by Rodna Ruskovska



Post a Comment

Post a Comment