By Ed Pluth
In Signifiers and Acts, Ed Pluth examines Lacan’s perspectives on language and sexuality to argue that Lacan’s idea of the topic is better learn as a idea of freedom and agency—a idea that's specially compelling accurately due to its structuralist and probably antihumanist framework. proposing new elements of Lacan’s paintings and commenting largely at the very important but unpublished seminars that also make up the vast majority of his contribution to modern notion, the publication goals to make a Lacanian intervention into modern thought. as well as Saussure, Sartre, Derrida, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Nancy, Pluth discusses works in political conception and id concept via Alain Badiou, Judith Butler, and Slavoj Zizek.
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Additional info for Signifiers and Acts: Freedom in Lacan’s Theory of the Subject
We can see the difference between a sign and a trace on this basis. To borrow a term from phenomenology, a trace can be called a “reduced” sign: a trace is a sign reduced to a pure materiality without signification. If Crusoe had not taken the footstep to be the sign of someone’s passage, then it would have qualified as a mere trace. Such a material trace becomes a sign—a unit of communication and no longer a mere natural phenomenon—when it is seen as a mark that an absent object has created. A trace can always be subordinated to its cause, so to speak, and it is always possible to take a trace to be “pointing at” its cause or “referring to” it.
A signifier is not only something radically independent of any signified—no attachment to any particular signified at all is necessary for it. 7 So if Lacan cuts the sheet of paper in half the “impossible” way, the production of meaning cannot be said to occur by means of a signifier simply being united to a signified. Consider also the image from Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics in which the sign is presented as that which introduces order into the two otherwise indeterminate fields of thought and sound (1986, 111).
In metonymy, the illusion is created that a signified is there just beyond the next signifier, so to speak, only no signifier manages to incarnate it. By making a signified effect “resonate” throughout the signifying chain, the arrival of a full signified is put off into the future. The realization The First Thesis 37 that “thirty sails” means “thirty ships” does not exhaust the signified effect that this figure of speech brings about. The signifying resonance that metonymy produces suffuses the entire chain with the absence of a signified.
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