The Letter, Issue 61, Summer 2016, Pages 31 - 34
This overview of Lacan’s Seminar XXIV from 1976-77 addresses the many layers of meaning discernible in its title L’insu que sait de l’une-bévue s’aile à mourre. Lacan’s remarkable return to the topology of the torus, his subtle musings on the unconscious, love, poetry and the real convey a sense of the urgency regarding the task that, even in these final years of his teaching, he regarded as unfinished.
Keywords: l’une-bévue; torus; poetry; Dante; Didier-Weill; game of la mourre/game of Morra
The equivocal title of the seminar calls out for interpretation. Written in lalangue or rather in l’élangues, the central element commanding our attention in the title is the word l’une-bévue. This translates into English as the a-blunder. Lacan is using a method he came across in Joyce the year before the seminar in fashioning this word. In its enigmatic grammar, it is readable in French as une-bévue and can be partly understood in German as Unbewusst. The translation of Unbewusst by l’une-bévue is in itself a witticism, that is to say, an attempt on Lacan’s part to invoke a formation of the unconscious such as the parapraxis, the lapsus, the dream, or the symptom. What is a parapraxis or a lapsus if not a blunder, une bévue? But such a translation almost gives credence to the phrase cited by Dante, who, when speaking of the word ‘love’ evokes the perfect fit between the word and the thing: nomina sunt consequentia rerum (names are the consequence of things). L’une-bévue does not possess the defect of being a negative word like ‘the unconscious’ and it does not run the risk, like it, of being confused with unconsciousness.