Cartels’ Day, Strasbourg

Jacques Lacan’s response to a question from Marcel Ritter about certain words which begin with “Un”: Unbewusste, Unheimlich, and Unerkannte

– Published in the Lettres de l’École freudienne, 1976, no.18.

– Translated by Anthony Chadwick, Bilingual, published at /Lacan (22. Response from Jacques Lacan to a question from Marcel Ritter about certain words which begin with “Un”: Unbewusste, Unheimlich, and Unerkannte)

This includes extensive notes & background detail, both by Richard G. Klein & Anthony Chadwick

– Also published bilingual, as ‘The Navel of a Dream is a Hole’, in The Lacanian Review, Issue 14 Spring 2023, translated by Philip Dravers, available from Julia Evans, Introduction by Colin Wright


P5 of, translated by Anthony Chadwick. There are useful notes, from Richard Klein, on this passage at

Jacques Lacan : I think we have to distinguish what is taking place at that level of the bodily orifice, from what functions in the unconscious. I think that, in the unconscious as well, something is signifiable that is entirely analogous. I think that what Freud stops in front of at this time as the dream’s navel, since it is on this subject that he uses the term Unerkannt, unrecognized, I think that what is in question is what he calls, expressly designates elsewhere as the Urverdrängt, the primordial repressed (one translated that as best one could). I think that it is in the destiny of the primordial repressed, namely of that something which is specified as not being able to be said in any case, no matter which approach is used, of being if one can put it this way at the root of language, that one can give the best image of what is in question.

The relationship of this Urverdrängt, of this original repressed, since one asked a question concerning origin just now, I think that it is what Freud comes back to apropos of what has been literally translated by the dream’s navel. It’s a hole, it’s something which is the limit of analysis; it’s obviously got something to do with the real which is a perfectly nameable real, nameable in a way which is pure fact; it’s not for nothing that he puts in play the function of the navel.

It is in effect to a particular navel, that of his mother, that someone found himself in sum suspended in reproducing him, if I may put it that way, by the severing of his umbilical cord. It is obvious that it is not to his mother’s navel that he is suspended, it’s to [1] his placenta*. It is from the fact of being born from that womb there and not elsewhere that a certain speaking being or yet what I am calling for the moment, what I am designating with the name of Parlêtre [speakingbeing], which turns out to be another designation of the unconscious, it is indeed from being born of a being who desired him or not, but who from this single fact situates him in a certain way in language, that a Speakingbeing finds himself excluded from his own origin, and Freud’s audacity in this case is simply to say that one has somewhere the mark of it in the dream itself. The subject through his imaginative productions, let us not forget that the condition of the Darstellbarkeit which is so important in the formation of the dream, that this representationality, if I may put it that way, the fact of being able to imagine oneself in the dream, preserves the mark somewhere of a point where there is nothing to be done. It is the point precisely from which stems the thread, but this point is as closed as is closed the fact that he was born in that womb and not elsewhere, that there is in the dream even the stigmatum since the navel is a stigmatum. It’s a stigmatum through which, it’s the only point, it has something in common with everything which has been born in this viviparous mode, but with this in addition that it is a question of a placental being and this placental being preserves a trace which there is signed at the very level of symbolization. It is certain that only the Parlêtre, the speaking being can come to the notion from which I started as far as the unconscious is concerned. There is something about which it is not for nothing that that is summed up in a scar, in a place in the body which forms a knot, and that this can be pointed to, no longer in its very place, of course, since there is there the same displacement which is tied to the function and field of speech.