Difference between revisions of "Metonymy"

From No Subject - Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis
Jump to: navigation, search
(The LinkTitles extension automatically added links to existing pages (<a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href="https://github.com/bovender/LinkTitles">https://github.com/bovender/LinkTitles</a>).)
 
(12 intermediate revisions by one other user not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
To the overall conception of linguistics he borrows from Saussure Lacan adds Roman Jakobson’s distinction between metaphor and metonymy:
+
{{Top}}métonymie{{Bottom}}
  
On the basis of a distinction between two kinds of aphasia, Jakobson distinguished two fundamentally opposed axes of language: the metaphorical axis which deals with the selection of linguistic items and allows for their substitution, and the metonymic axis which deals with the combination of linguistic terms (both sequentially and simultaneously). Metaphor thus corresponds to Saussure’s paradigmatic relations (which hold in absentia) and metonymy to syntagmatic relationships (which hold in praesentia). (Evans 111)
+
===Linguistic Definition===
 +
[[Metonymy]] is usually defined as a [[trope]] in which a term is used to denote an [[object]] which it does not literally refer to, but with which it is closely linked.  This link may be one of [[physical]] contiguity, but not necessarily.
  
That is, metaphor can be seen as having a vertical relationship, in which the line between the signifier and the signified is crossed, as the signifier passes over into the signified and a new signifier is produced. For example, in the metaphor "Juliet is the sun" the various signifiers that might have stood in place of "the sun" (glorious, bright, fair, beautiful) thus pass through the barrier between the signifier and the signified, joining that object designated as "Juliet," and become signifieds of the new signifier, "the sun" (this example is drawn from Evans 111). A compression of linguistic space and relations, metaphor is the direct substitution of one signifier for another such that the second signifier ("the sun") supersedes the first (glorious, bright, fair, beautiful) in relation to the signified ("Juliet"). This process is the basic structure of identification as it occurs in the imaginary "since [it] consists in substituting oneself for another" (Evans 113). And insofar as this process escapes full symbolization (i.e. insofar as it is a compression of language that brings the imaginary into play as an equal partner in the linguistic production of meaning), Lacan reads it as the basic structure of the symptom, as an indicator of a breakdown of the process of symbolising the imaginary: "if the symptom is a metaphor, it is not a metaphor to say so [] the symptom is a metaphor" (Ecrits 175).
+
===Roman Jakobson===
 +
However, [[Lacan]]'s use of the term owes little to this definition apart from the [[notion]] of contiguity, since it is inspired by the [[work]] of [[Roman Jakobson]], who established an opposition between [[metonymy]] and [[metaphor]].<ref>[[Roman Jakobson|Jakobson, Roman]]. "Two aspects of language and two types of aphasic disturbances," ''Selected Writings'', vol. II, ''[[Word]] and Language'', The [[Hague]]: Mouton, 1971 [1956]., p. 21.</ref>
  
The second term which Lacan borrows from Jakobson to fill out his understanding of the symbolic order is metonymy: "following Jakobson, Lacan links metonymy to the combinatorial axis of language, as opposed to the substitutive axis" (Evans 113). If metaphor is a process of substitution, whereby one signifier comes to stand in for another in relation to a given signified, then metonymy is a purely diachronic movement above the barrier separating signifier from signified. In contrast to the vertical motion of metaphor, it is a horizontal movement along the chain of signification, as "one signifier constantly refers to another in a perpetual deferral of meaning" (Evans 114). As the only realm in which meaning is generated, the symbolic’s dependence on the metonymic function of signifier relations thus becomes the primary focus of Lacan’s concern with language. He emphasises the metonymic deferral of meaning that takes place in the incessant play of signifiers, referring to the ready movement of the chain of signifiers over the signifieds as glissement (slippage). This designation of the movement along the signifying chain as a slippage emphasises Lacan’s re-writing of Saussure’s concept such that the relationship between signifier and signified ceases to be stable (if arbitrary) and becomes profoundly unstable.
+
===Metonymic Axis of Language===
 +
Following [[Jakobson]], [[Lacan]] [[links]] [[metonymy]] to the combinatorial axis of [[language]], as opposed to the [[substitutive]] axis.
  
 +
===Diachronic Dimension of Signifying Chain===
 +
In his most detailed work on the subject, [[Lacan]] defines [[metonymy]] as the [[diachrony|diachronic]] relation between one [[signifier]] and [[another]] in the [[signifying chain]].
 +
 +
===Metonymy Versus Metaphor===
 +
[[Metonymy]] thus concerns the ways in which [[signifier]]s can be combined / linked in a single [[signifying chain]] ("horizontal" relations), whereas [[metaphor]] concerns the ways in which a [[signifier]] in one [[signifying chain]] may be substituted for a [[signifier]] in another [[chain]] ("vertical" relations).  Together, [[metaphor]] and [[metonymy]] constitute the way in which [[signification]] is produced.
 +
 +
===Formula for Metonymy===
 +
[[Lacan]] provides a [[formula]] for [[metonymy]].<ref>{{E}} p.164</ref>
 +
 +
[[Image:Lacan-metonymy.jpg|center]]
 +
 +
This formula is to be read as follows: 
 +
 +
On the lefthand side of the [[algebra|equation]], [[outside]] the brackets, [[Lacan]] writes '''<i>f</i>''' '''S''', the [[paternal function|signifying function]], which is to say the effect of [[signification]].  [[Inside]] the brackets he writes '''S . . . S'''', the link between one [[signifier]] and another in a [[signifying chain]].
 +
 +
On the righthand side of the [[algebra|equation]] there is '''S''', the [[signifier]], and ('''---'''), the [[bar]] of the [[Saussure]]ean [[sign|algorithm]].  The [[sign]] <b>=</b> is to be read "is congruent with."
 +
 +
===Formula for Metonymy - Summary===
 +
Thus the [[whole]] formula reads:
 +
 +
<blockquote>"The signifying function of the connection of the signifier with the signifier is congruent with maintenance of the bar."</blockquote>
 +
 +
The formula is meant to illustrate [[Lacan]]'s [[thesis]] that in [[metonymy]] the [[resistance]] of [[signification]] is maintained, the [[bar]] is not crossed, no new [[signified]] is produced.
 +
 +
===Contexts===
 +
[[Lacan]] puts his [[concept]] of [[metonymy]] to use in a variety of contexts.
 +
 +
===Metonymy and Desire===
 +
[[Lacan]] presents [[metonymy]] as a [[diachrony|diachronic]] movement from one [[signifier]] to another along the [[signifying chain]], as one [[signifier]] constantly refers to another in a perpetual [[deferred action|deferral]] of [[signification|meaning]].
 +
 +
[[Desire]] is also characterized by exactly the same never-ending [[process]] of continual [[deferred action|deferral]]; since [[desire]] is always "desire for something else,"<ref>{{E}} p. 167</ref> as soon as the [[object]] of [[desire]] is attained, it is no longer desirable, and the [[subject]]'s [[desire]] fixes on another [[object]]. Thus [[Lacan]] writes that "desire ''is'' a metonymy."<ref>{{E}} p. 175</ref>
 +
 +
===Metonymy and Displacement===
 +
[[Lacan]] also follows [[Jakobson]] in linking the [[metaphor]]-[[metonymy]] [[distinction]] to the mechanisms of the [[dream work]] described by [[Freud]].  However, he differs from [[Jakobson]] over the precise [[nature]] of this link.  Just as [[displacement]] is logically prior to [[condensation]], so [[metonymy]] is the condition for [[metaphor]], because "the coordination of [[signifiers]] has to be possible before transferences of the signified are able to take [[place]]."<ref>{{S3}} p. 229</ref>
 +
 +
==See Also==
 +
{{See}}
 +
* [[Bar]]
 +
* [[Desire]]
 +
||
 +
* [[Displacement]]
 +
* [[Language]]
 +
||
 +
* [[Metaphor]]
 +
* [[Signification]]
 +
||
 +
* [[Signifier]]
 +
* [[Signifying chain]]
 +
{{Also}}
 +
 +
== References ==
 +
<div style="font-size:11px" class="references-small">
 +
<references/>
 +
</div>
 +
 +
[[Category:Psychoanalysis]]
 +
[[Category:Jacques Lacan]]
 +
[[Category:Linguistics]]
 +
[[Category:Dictionary]]
 +
[[Category:Language]]
 
[[Category:Symbolic]]
 
[[Category:Symbolic]]
 +
[[Category:Concepts]]
 
[[Category:Terms]]
 
[[Category:Terms]]
[[Category:Concepts]]
+
[[Category:OK]]
[[Category:Psychoanalysis]]
+
 
[[Category:Jacques Lacan]]
+
__NOTOC__

Latest revision as of 15:27, 20 May 2019

French: métonymie

Linguistic Definition

Metonymy is usually defined as a trope in which a term is used to denote an object which it does not literally refer to, but with which it is closely linked. This link may be one of physical contiguity, but not necessarily.

Roman Jakobson

However, Lacan's use of the term owes little to this definition apart from the notion of contiguity, since it is inspired by the work of Roman Jakobson, who established an opposition between metonymy and metaphor.[1]

Metonymic Axis of Language

Following Jakobson, Lacan links metonymy to the combinatorial axis of language, as opposed to the substitutive axis.

Diachronic Dimension of Signifying Chain

In his most detailed work on the subject, Lacan defines metonymy as the diachronic relation between one signifier and another in the signifying chain.

Metonymy Versus Metaphor

Metonymy thus concerns the ways in which signifiers can be combined / linked in a single signifying chain ("horizontal" relations), whereas metaphor concerns the ways in which a signifier in one signifying chain may be substituted for a signifier in another chain ("vertical" relations). Together, metaphor and metonymy constitute the way in which signification is produced.

Formula for Metonymy

Lacan provides a formula for metonymy.[2]

Lacan-metonymy.jpg

This formula is to be read as follows:

On the lefthand side of the equation, outside the brackets, Lacan writes f S, the signifying function, which is to say the effect of signification. Inside the brackets he writes S . . . S', the link between one signifier and another in a signifying chain.

On the righthand side of the equation there is S, the signifier, and (---), the bar of the Saussureean algorithm. The sign = is to be read "is congruent with."

Formula for Metonymy - Summary

Thus the whole formula reads:

"The signifying function of the connection of the signifier with the signifier is congruent with maintenance of the bar."

The formula is meant to illustrate Lacan's thesis that in metonymy the resistance of signification is maintained, the bar is not crossed, no new signified is produced.

Contexts

Lacan puts his concept of metonymy to use in a variety of contexts.

Metonymy and Desire

Lacan presents metonymy as a diachronic movement from one signifier to another along the signifying chain, as one signifier constantly refers to another in a perpetual deferral of meaning.

Desire is also characterized by exactly the same never-ending process of continual deferral; since desire is always "desire for something else,"[3] as soon as the object of desire is attained, it is no longer desirable, and the subject's desire fixes on another object. Thus Lacan writes that "desire is a metonymy."[4]

Metonymy and Displacement

Lacan also follows Jakobson in linking the metaphor-metonymy distinction to the mechanisms of the dream work described by Freud. However, he differs from Jakobson over the precise nature of this link. Just as displacement is logically prior to condensation, so metonymy is the condition for metaphor, because "the coordination of signifiers has to be possible before transferences of the signified are able to take place."[5]

See Also

References

  1. Jakobson, Roman. "Two aspects of language and two types of aphasic disturbances," Selected Writings, vol. II, Word and Language, The Hague: Mouton, 1971 [1956]., p. 21.
  2. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.164
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 167
  4. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 175
  5. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book III. The Psychoses, 1955-56. Trans. Russell Grigg. London: Routledge, 1993. p. 229