A strange coinage in Lacan

Yesterday in the Lacan reading group, we were puzzled by an apparent coinage in Seminar III. Speaking of Schreber’s disturbances of language, he says:

Here we go to the heart of the function of the sentence in itself, insofar as it does not necessarily carry its meaning wih it. I am thinking of this phenomenon of sentences that emerge in his asubjectivity as interrupted, leaving the sense in suspense. A sentence interrupted in the middle is auditivated [auditivée]. The rest is implied meaning. The interruption evokes a fall which, while it may be indeterminate over a wide range, cannot be just any old one. Here the symbolic chain is emphasized in its dimension of continuity. (English 100, French 115)

The translator’s note says, “The meaning is unclear, but the context would suggest it means ‘to make audible'” — but there was a general consensus that the context did not in fact seem to suggest that.

Any clue what’s going on here?

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12 Responses to “A strange coinage in Lacan”

  1. sodade Says:

    auditivation
    – [57/58 D'une question préliminaire à tout... Ecrits p. 537] -dans la réalité d’icilui (“l’auditavatio”) ¨des hallucinations].
    – [04/07/56, sém. Les psychoses] – des phénomènes d’auditivation verbale.
    (From: 789 Néologismes de Jacques Lacan – Yan Pélissier e. a.)

  2. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Thanks for that — I wondered if it appeared in “On a Question Prior to Any Possible Treatment of Psychosis” as well. Here’s the relevant paragraph (pg. 450 of Fink’s full edition):

    “But we need not have reached this stage to be interested in the variety of forms verbal hallucinations assume in Schreber’s Memoirs, or to recognize in them differences quite other than those by which they are ‘classically’ classified, according to the way they involve the percipiens (the degree of his ‘belief’) or the latter’s reality (‘auditivation’): namely, differences that stem instead from their speech structure, insofar as this structure is already in the perceptum.”

    Fink does not have a note about the word.

  3. terenceblake Says:

    I am just guessing but I would say that as the sentence has been interrupted it can no longer be a transparent window to a meaning, but is reduced to its auditive existence. But even so the fragment constrains the possible endings. In this case “fall” would be a misleading translation of “chute” (I don’t have the text with me), one of whose senses is the surprise ending, as in the punch-line of a joke.

  4. terenceblake Says:

    Oops, I meant “auditory” existence. “Auditif” is an ordinary word in French meaning “audible” or “auditory”. So converting it into a verb, which I have never seen before, is no great leap.

  5. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Okay, that makes sense. When the sentence is interrupted, it is separated from its meaning — it thus presents itself first of all as “something I hear” in the abstract (it is auditory-ized, stripped down to the auditory level). Yet it’s not just raw sound, insofar as the fragmentary sentence sets up a limited number of “punch-lines.” Thus we get the combination of “hearing voices” and the sense that “it must mean something” (the feeling of “certainty” Lacan discusses not too far from here) even though the psychotic patient can’t pin it down. The normal articulation of sound and meaning is breaking down.

  6. Adam Kotsko Says:

    …and this explanation also makes sense of the pairing in “On a Question…,” it seems to me.

  7. terenceblake Says:

    Yes, I think it is the same thing: the auditivation of a verbal form is its reduction to an auditorily perceived thing, a perceptum, which nonetheless has a structure.

  8. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Right, and the percipiens would be the subject perceiving that “there is meaning” — with “belief” being a synonym for the “certainty” that he refers to in the seminar.

  9. vrgl Says:

    So, in the interrupted sentence I hear the meaning it wished or dreamed or wanted to have prior to the interruption although I never actually got to hear that meaning; auditiver as: I can hear that it meant to mean something? In Austinese, I grant the interrupted sentence the status of a rhetic act even though, since it was interrupted, it actually preformed no more than a phatic act? Auditiver would be a listening-act performed while hearing a pheme on the way to a rheme, but is then cut short, yet still understood as more than simply a pheme. Auditiver = hearing a phreme.

  10. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I hear the meaning precisely as separated or disconnected from what I heard.

  11. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Or I hear the lack of a meaning rather than something that is, from the very beginning and in essense, “meaningless.”

    I like how you explained Lacan’s coinage by means of your own coinage, by the way.

  12. Will. Says:

    Is it a lack of a meaning or the lack of meaning as such? Does not the former imply a known horizon or destination which is that which is in question?

    Oh I geddit… the horizon or destination is the Other, the presence or absence of which is neurosis/psychosis.


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