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Lyotard’s Freud Anne Tomiche F ROM DISCOURS, FIGURE1 (Lyotard’s second book after La Phénoménologie) up to the more recent texts of L ’Inhumain (a collection of essays written in the mid-80s, published in 1988), Heidegger et "les juifs” (1988), and “ Emma,” 2 Freud is a recurrent figure. It is through a reading of Freud that Lyotard articulates the notion of “ figural space” in DF: it is then through a “ return to Freud” that he elaborates those of “ inhuman,” “ Jews,” “ infancy,” and “ affect-phrase.” I want to analyze here the role that Freud plays in these texts, in order to determine both a continuity and a shift in Lyotard’s reading of Freud. The continuity lies in the stakes of the readings: to “ defend” the inarticulable, the heterogeneous, the inaccordable. Between DF and the “return to Freud,” however, a shift occurs with Le Différend (1983), which elaborates a “ philosophy of phrases.” 3The turn to Freud in DF was an appeal to metapsychology in order to “ defend,” without appealing to phenomenology, the inarticulable against the hegemony of the linguistic. After Diff., the “ return to Freud” in L ’Inh., Heid., and “ Emma” relies on an appeal to phraseology, allowing Lyotard to do without metapsychology—i.e., without energetics, hence without physics—in order to replace it with the philosophy of phrases and to replace deconstructive economy with the questions of linkage and phrasing. In DF, under the name of “ figural space,” Lyotard seeks to identify that which, within discourse, undermines discourse, disrupts it, does it violence. Art (poetry, painting) has to do with this figural space: “ the position of art indicates a function of the figure, a function which is not signified and which is located around and even within discourse. . . . Art wants the figure, ‘beauty’ is figural” [DF 13). If art reveals a function of the figural, then art is violence, disruption: such violence and disruption result both from the fact that a force is exerted and from its work. The work of this force which operates on and within discourse, undoing dis­ course without destroying meaning, is also the work of dreams such as Freud described it: “ To undo the code, without consequently destroying the message, but on the contrary liberating meaning, i.e., the lateral semantic reserves hidden by organized speech, is also to perform a set of 48 Sp r in g 1991 T o m ic h e operations which Freud called the dream-work” (55). The figurai thus entails: (1) that it is a space, which implies a topography, a spatial posi­ tioning of the figure; (2) that such a figurai space is conceived as work, hence considered from a dynamic and economic point of view—the point of view of energetics; (3) that there is a relation between art and the unconscious: the topography of the figurai is also the topography of the unconscious, and the working of art (which is Lyotard’s definition of le poétique) operates according to the same “ rules” as the dream-work. From a topographical point of view, the figurai space is both outside and inside discourse, bordering it and inhabiting it: from within discourse, it is possible to move to and in the figure. It is possible to move to the figure by indicating that any discourse has its counterpart in the object about which it talks, an object which is over there as that towards which discourse points: a sight border­ ing discourse. And it is possible to move into the figure without leaving language because the figure inhabits it. (13) The interiority of the figurai space with respect to discourse is thus not dialectical: there is no resolution, the figure remains both inside and out­ side. Moreover, this figurai space is “the length and breadth [étendue]... which creates the depth or the representation [and which], far from being signifiable in words, lies [s’étend] along their edge” (14, my emphasis). The figurai space creates “ thickness,” “ depth,” and “ relief.” When he elaborated the first topography of the psychic apparatus—the topogra­ phy of the Preconscious, the Unconscious, and the Conscious—Freud already insisted that the topographical approach allows psychoanalysis to move away...


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