In this paper, I show that Derrida is indebted to psychoanalysis as the Freudian concept of Nachträglichkeit (translated into English by Jones as 'deferred action) is central to Derridean concepts, such as 'Différance'. To do so, I first define the notion of Nachträglichkeit through its etymologies, its appearances in Freud's texts, its translations, and its relationship with the issue of trauma. In a second part, I study the role played by the notion in Derrida's concepts by referring to two essays written by Derrida, i.e. "Freud and the Scene of Writing", published first in 1966 and then in Writing and Difference in 1967, and "Différance", published in 1968. In a third part, I apply the notion to a literary text which deals with psychopathology, namely Nabokov's novel, Lolita which is about a case of sexual perversion - paedophilia.
keywords:Freud, Derrida, Nachträglichkeit, Différance, trauma, _Lolita_, sexual perversion
The question I will be concerned with here, namely Derrida and psychoanalysis, has already been raised by Geoffroy Bennington during the symposium which took place at the International Centre of Cerisy-la-Salle in France and whose title was "Depuis Lacan" ["Since Lacan"]. Bennington's article which was published as part of the Proceedings of the Symposium was entitled "Circanalyse (la chose même)" ["Circanalyse (the thing itself)"]. It starts with the following questions about Derrida:
What will he have taken from psychoanalysis? (What is he indebted to psychoanalysis for?)
What will he have given psychoanalysis? (What is psychoanalysis indebted to him for?)
What will he have returned to psychoanalysis? (Are they quits to each other?)
What will he have returned to psychoanalysis? (In what situation will he have left it?)1
It will therefore be necessary to wonder about Derrida's debt to psychoanalysis but also about what he has given it.
I will study, for my part, in this paper the relations between the thoughts of Freud and Derrida through the Freudian concept of Nachträglichkeit which I keep in German not out of stylishness nor to establish a schibboleth but for a problem of translation which I will develop further on. I would like to quote, at this stage of my point, a central sentence of the preface added by René Major to his book published in 2001 and entitled Lacan avec Derrida [Lacan with Derrida]. This sentence states:
The Freudian concept of Nachträglichkeit, "l'après-coup" [deferred action], which brings into question the metaphysical concept of self-presence is essential to the thought of Derrida about the trace, deferral, differance.2
I will ask myself the following questions:
* First, what is Nachträglichkeit? To answer, I will rely on the two volumes the Revue Française de Psychanalyse has dedicated to it, namely Book 61 in 1997 and Book 70 in 2006. The 1997 issue is entitled "Après l'analyse" [After analysis] but it includes a set of three articles dealing with the notion of "après-coup" which is the established translation in French of Nachträglichkeit. As for the 2006 issue, its title is clearly announced. It is "L'après-coup". I will also refer, besides these two publications, to Jean Laplanche's book also published in 2006 and whose title is Problématiques VI; L'après-coup.
* The second question I will raise is about Derrida's debt towards this Freudian concept. To what extent does this concept announce, precede, find an echo in the thought of Derrida about différance and writing? I will mainly rely on two texts by Derrida, the first being the lecture delivered at l'Institut de Psychanalyse in March 1966, first published in Tel Quel in 1966, then in L'Ecriture et la difference[Writing and Difference] in 1967 and whose title is 'Freud et la scène d'écriture' ['Freud and the Scene of Writing'] The second text I will analyse is the lecture delivered on January 27, 1968 at the Société française de Philosophie, entitled 'la différance'. …