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Revista Mal Estar e Subjetividade

Print version ISSN 1518-6148


CASTRO, Julio Cesar Lemes de. The word is the death of the thing: symbolic, enjoyment and death drive. Rev. Mal-Estar Subj. [online]. 2011, vol.11, n.4, pp. 1405-1428. ISSN 1518-6148.

The introduction of language creates a separation between words and things, a movement that in Lacanian terms can be defined as a transposition of register. Through symbolization, something dies in the real, where, to be rigorous, it had only ex-sistence (term which Lacan borrows from Heidegger), and emerges in the symbolic, where it becomes part of reality (which in Lacan differs from the real as a register). Already in Freud the founding act of the symbolic order is linked to death: the murder of the father of the primal horde and his subsequent reappearance as totem paradigmatically represents the death of the thing that gives rise to the significant. More precisely, the symbolic is related to the concept of death drive: the transition from nature to culture implies that man functions in a regime of excess, other than that of the normal biological functioning; the symbolic is like a prosthesis, an artificial device attached to the human organism, which makes man a kind of cyborg and mortifies him. The satisfaction aimed by the death drive is the enjoyment, an unbridled urge for pleasure generating repetition, excess, displeasure, devastating sensations which put in check our balance. The symbolic arises with the inscriptions of the enjoyment in the infant and, at the same time, establishes retrospectively the enjoyment and limits it. Thus, human life draws a symbolic arch between the undifferentiated real of absolute enjoyment and the undifferentiated real of death.

Keywords : Symbolic; enjoyment; death drive; Freud; Lacan.

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