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Denis, A. (1996). Temporality And Modes Of Language. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:396-397.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:396-397

Temporality And Modes Of Language

Anne Denis

Dear Sir:

An error in Jankélévitch's French translation of Beyond the Pleasure Principle has had two consequences in my paper ‘Temporality and modes of language’ (Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76: 1109-1119).

The first is an error in the French translation. The French sentence is:

Notre spéculation conçoit cet Éros comme exerçant son action dès l'origine et comme s'opposant, à partir du moment où la substance vivante était devenue animée, à ‘l'instinct de mort’ en tant qu'‘instinct de vie’ (Pte. Bibliothèque, Payot, p. 77).

The English sentence is:

Our speculations have suggested that Eros operates from the beginning of life and appears as a ‘life instinct’ in opposition to the ‘death instinct’ which was brought into being by the coming to life of inorganic substance (S.E. 18, p. 61).

The German is:

Die Spekulation lät dann diesen Eros vom Anfang des Lebens an Wirken und als ‘Lebenstrieb’ in Gegensatz zum ‘Todestrieb’ treten, dser durch die Belebung des Anorganischen entstanden ist (G. W. 13, p. 66).

Jankélévitch has translated Freud's phrase ‘die Belebung des Anorganischen’ as ‘la substance vivante … devenue animée’.

My failure to check the German text has compounded Jankélévitch's error.

Nevertheless, I think that this double error can be described as a felix culpa, as it seems to me that the hypothesis I developed from it, in which the emergence of the psychic (taking ‘animé’ in a metaphorical sense) is considered to enable the drives to be separated (and therefore to be opposed and fused), explains the following:

1) The discussion in the works to which I refer of an ultimate regression of thought in which the life and death drives appear to coexist so inseparably that the regression becomes a traumatic state open to the threat of invasion by the death drive (‘I've become a carcinoma’; letter from Freud to Fliess, 19 February 1899).

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