Kant avec Sade

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1962 (26 pp.)-KANT AVEC SADE (KANT WITH SADE)-1963 Right after the war, many intellectuals seemed to find the accursed Sade nec�essary reading: Bataille, Klossowski, Paulhan, Blanchot, Merleau-Ponty, and even S. de Beauvoir-before Barthes. Would Sade guarantee a certain claim to "modernity," indeed to revolutionary audacity, in front of the right-think�ing bourgeois? Lacan's text was supposed to be a preface to La Philosophie dans Ie boudoir. in the complete works published by the Cercle du Livre Precieux. According to Lacan, Pauhlan rejected it. Ironically, it appeared in Critique (Bataille's journal) as a review of the edition from which it had been excluded. Lacan clearly positioned himself in the camp of those who were pro. He made the Sadian boudoir the equivalent of the ancient schools of philosophy (the Academie, the Lycee, or the Stoa); he interpellated the judge but also the academician-namely, Jean Cocteau-who dared to say, during the proceed�ings instituted against the publisher Pauvert, that Sade was "boring," "a phi�losopher and a moralist." He was ironic about Merleau-Ponty who accused the sadist of "negating the existence of the other"; for Lacan the sadist rejects the pain of living in the other. The Works of Jacques Lacan 117 What original thesis could Lacan argue? He argues that there is a striking analogy between Sade's requirement of the freedom of jouissance and the universal rule of Kantian conduct. Sade, especially in the pampWet Franfais, encore un effort si vous voulez erre republicains. reveals the truth about the Critique of Practical Reason published eight years earlier. Sade made "the inaugural step of a subversion ... of which Kant is the turning point al�though, as far as we know, never recognized as such." Freud was going to complete this subversion in which it is not a matter of elaborating a "cata�logue of perversions," but of exactly situating the relations of law and jouis�sance, of life and death, or else of the divided subject with the object a of his desire and the Other, the transcendent locus of the "commandments whose imperative is represented as categorical, in other words an unconditional im�perative." Thus, it would be wrong to judge the content of the commandment that is given. Whether vile or noble, what is most important is that the com�mandment be logically receivable as universal, that it hold for all cases, even if not everyone obeys it, and that it indicate what is possible and not what is actualized; "it is a matter of taking things as they are set up at their basis, not as they are ordered" in practice. Sade's honesty was to reveal that "the im�perative is imposed upon us as to the Other not as to ourselves," that is, pronounced by the mouth of the Other and not as a voice from inside, Sade, therefore, unmasked the splitting [refente] of the subject that others usually bypassed. It is thus through the ethical reference that Lacan elaborates the "savage reference" of a Sade who would have pushed to its extreme the first Declaration of Man's Rights. Sade's text allows Lacan to construct the perverse's structure and fantasy, just as the case of Schreber had allowed him to do so with psychosis. It is possible to follow Lacan's analyses of Kant and Sade from L'Ethiql,4e (43), the text on Merleau-Ponty (49), Le Transfert (47), and L'Identification (50), until L'Angoisse (52), not to mention many later references. He appeals to these analyses to raise the question of the difference between the pleasure principle and the death instinct, and to further his reflection on "between�two-deaths" (in this case, it became the quest for unaltered beauty and im�mortality beyond the other's real death and beyond the pain, inseparable from his degradation or from his ignominy). "It is as an object that the Sadian subject is obliterated" (50), whereas, in Masoch's works, the subject is oblit�erated to become an object. There is no complementarity between Sade and Masoch. After all, Lacan says, Sade was masochistic in life and sadistic (Sa�dian) in his works. Really? For Piera Aulagnier (50), the perverse becomes an object for the jouissance of a phallus whose bearer he does not suspect, he becomes the instrument of the jouissance of a God. Lacan responds to Au�lagnier's argument that it is necessary to define the phallus. It is around the jouissance of the Other-jouissance of a God, a "supreme Being in mali- 188 DOSS I ER ciousness," the locus where "the Law and jouissance as forbidden are one and the same" -that Lacan tries to decipher "this monumental challenge" that the Sadian works represent for him. Perverse fantasy would be located entirely on the side of the Other. Indeed, psychoanalysis has undoubtedly more to learn from Sade than from Kant. Recall Claudel's trilogy (43). Re�member also the context of the time: a culture that had not fully recovered from what Hannah Arendt calls "totalitarianism," whether it is Nazism or Stalinism, whose fascination upon the intellectuals of the 60s has not been analyzed yet.