Lacan Builds a Circuit

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The Pascaline calculating machine, 1642

To briefly recap: In the nineteenth century Samuel Butler and Alfred Russel Wallis proposed that evolution and the steam engine are governed by the same principle. Nearly a century later the full implications of this observation began to have their impact, Gregory Bateson and Jacques Lacan addressed the implications to post-cybernetic psychiatric discourse. In Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry (1951) Gregory Bateson charted the epistemological changes that were taking place to the practices of psychoanalysis and psychiatry and Lacan, in Seminar II, described the evolution of the discourse of knowledge to the discourse of the machine. As we learned in the last chapter, Lacan’s approach was tied to the discourse of cybernetics and, as he concludes Seminar II with his lecture of Cybernetics and the Unconscious, the cyberneticians are close at hand.

It is curious, given the title of the lecture, Cybernetics and the Unconscious, that rather than addressing the work of the cyberneticists, Lacan directs our attention to the pre-genesis of the science of cybernetics proper, namely the development of that branch of the human sciences that Lacan terms “conjectural science”. Here Lacan refers to a group of disciplines developed during the 17th and 18th century that deal primarily with probability. Gerolamo Cardano outlined a series of issues dealing with probability in the 1560s, which were further developed by Pierre de Fermat and Blaise Pascal in the 1650s. These issues included the fair division of the stake in an interrupted game of chance. Christiaan Huygens and Leibniz also gave comprehensive treatment to the subjects of games, chances, odds, and hazards, all of which required an understanding of numerical ratios.[1]

To provide a broader context, in Seminar II, Lacan explains the stages preceding the era of conjectural science

  1. animistic order
  2. exact science
  3. conjectural science

In animistic society, humans linked their fate with the actions of the universe: in this world the position of the stars and the planets had a direct effect on humans and, perhaps more importantly, the actions of humans had an effect on the universe: The dances of spring and the speech acts performed at them would ensure the fertility of nature. In the animistic world humans assumed their actions could control the “real”. In this world the human “pretended to be indispensable to the permanence of the law.”[2]

The animistic world is superseded by the world of exact science.

In the world of exact science the operations of the real are understood to be independent of human actions. The real, which is always found in the same place, is present with or without human actions (and is present whether those actions are actual or symbolic). The order of science is born “when man thinks that the great clock of nature turns by itself.” This is the point at which man gains a greater understanding of nature and at the same time is alienated from it. It is at this point that the “laws” of science begin to take effect on human subjectivity.

Lacan sets up a dialectical relation. Invoking Hegel’s master-servant, in officiating over nature “man [in the era of exact science] has become the officious servant. He will not rule over it, except by obeying it. And like a slave, he tries to make the master dependent on him by serving him well.”[3]

Conjectural science – in contrast to the animistic world and to the world of exact science – emerges once what is always found in the same place is “substituted by the science of combination of places as such.”

If in the past symbols stayed where they were intended to be, the world of the symbol is now organized around a ratio – the “correlation of absence and presence” (this will later be identified as the 0 and 1) here symbols have the ability to “fly on their own wings”.[4] This is the next stage in the alienation of the subject from the world, because the symbolic system that speaks the world is exterior to the subject who speaks the world.

To describe how signification comes into being in this new symbolic world Lacan introduces three notions which have a direct relation to the cybernetic creatures he discussed earlier in the seminar: scansion, the turn or the notion of [rapid] reiteration, and the circuit. In the order of conjectural science: “[the symbol] arises in an ordered register which assuredly assumes the notion of the turn that is, the notion of scansion.”[5] The notion of turning and scanning correspond to the motion of the photocell on Grey Walter’s tortoise, which provides a feedback loop through repetition and insistence that situates the cybernetic tortoise, M. Specularis, in a specific space and time (the material circuit).[6] The figure of the “ordered register” has been recurrent in the seminar: the chain of 1s and 0s, the chain of +s and –s which establish a pattern, a syntax, from which signification can arise is central to the cybernetic tortoise and to SEER. Such an “ordered register” moves in a circuit, which Lacan goes to some pains to describe.

Doors, enclosure = circuit

Earlier in The Fabulous Loop de Loop, we established that Gregory Bateson, in Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry, rebuilt the Freudian subject in a circuit of communication. Beginning with what Bateson termed “numerous interdependent and self-corrective circuits”, it is then possible to rebuild the theory, “starting with entropy considerations.” These “numerous interdependent and self-corrective circuits” represent neural function, as outlined by the McCulloch-Pitts model, and as modelled in the real world by the scanning action of Grey Walter’s tortoise. In Cybernetics and the Unconscious Lacan builds his own circuit from first principles, beginning with the switch.

This switch is provided by the figure of the door which can be open or shut (a binary operation). But for Lacan there is an asymmetry to its opening and closing because it opens on to both the real and on to the imaginary-symbolic. Lacan illustrates how the door is laden with a great degree of “symbolic ballast” which accords it its asymmetry. A door, once introduced into the circuitry of the symbolic order, can never be simply a door. This notion of “symbolic ballast” draws on the weight of human remembering, which is of a different order to the record made by a machine such as SEER because it is laden with subjective and inter-subjective material. The remembering represents a surplus which is particular to human communication, and this is the reason “nothing unexpected will come out of a machine”. [7]

Lacan next extends the function of the door and introduces the figure of an enclosure, comprising an opening door and a closing door, two switches which constitute a circuit. These doors, in their opening and closing “interrupt themselves”. This opening and closing allows passage and introduces oscillation.[8] Lacan next translates the opening and closing of the door into the notation of 0 or 1 (presence and absence). Lacan explains how binaries in sequence form a map of a circuit and how, with the addition of the “fairy” of electricity – the rapid reiteration (the turn) which produces scansion (pattern)– these symbols make their introduction into the world of the real. Lacan: “once we have the possibility of embodying this 0, this 1, the notation of presence and absence, in the real, embodying it in a rhythm, a fundamental scansion, something moves into the real, and we are left asking ourselves […] whether we have a machine that thinks.”

People had been asking the question of Grey Walter’s tortoise and of Ross Ashby’s homeostat (see chapter fifteen) at the Macy Cybernetic conferences. With the advent of performative, cybernetic machines a new technical standard for thinking emerges. Such machines ‘move into the real’ insofar as they are able to cross from the symbolic: the absence or presence of a light signal, the pulse of on or off (as with the tortoise), or + or – (as with SEER), they perform in the world. We might on reflection decide that such a machine does not actually think, as Gray Walter was the first to point out, but after re-evaluating what we think thinking is, we must concede that “[w]e follow the very same procedures as the machine.”[9]

The circuit of the machine becomes the material site of the “trans-subjective” in the following way. Lacan: “Through cybernetics, the symbol is embedded in the apparatus – with which it is not to be confused, the apparatus being just the support. And it is embodied in it in a literally trans-subjective way.” It was precisely this effect that Lacan had produced earlier in the seminar, when discussing the Purloined Letter. Here he had invited participants to play odds and evens and to record the results as + and –, when writing out the triads of 0s and 1s during the lecture Lacan had identified the material support for thought which performs in the world.

Wiener demonstrates the Cybernetic Moth-Bedbug


In discussing the importance of conjectural science to cybernetics, readers of Norbert Wiener will recognize the structure of Lacan's argument. The cyberneticians (Wiener and McCulloch in particular) were very thorough in explaining how their practices relate to their antecedents (the practitioners of what Lacan termed “conjectural science”). In Cybernetics (1948) Wiener cites Leibniz as a principle influence[10], and the debt to him for two foundational concepts bequeathed to cybernetics:

  1. universal symbolism
  2. the calculus of reasoning

From these two we derive in the modern era:

  1. mathematical notation and
  2. symbolic logic of Boole and Russell[11]

Here it is worth charting a brief history (or perhaps I should say historicisation) in order to illuminate the interest Wiener and Lacan shared in “conjectural science”.[12]

In 1678 Leibniz wrote speculatively of “a certain script of language that perfectly represents the relationship between our thoughts” [through] “such encoding, logical falsehoods would be instantly exposed. The characters would be quite different from what has been imagined up to now.… The characters of this script should serve invention and judgment as in algebra and arithmetic.… It will be impossible to write, using these characters, chimerical notions [chimères].”[13]

In 1847 George Boole published Mathematical Analysis of Logic, Being an Essay Towards a Calculus of Deductive Reasoning and De Morgan published Formal Logic: or, the Calculus of Inference, Necessary and Probable. Following Leibniz's ideal, both publications introduced a mathematics of logic expressed by symbols as opposed to a mathematics of quantity expressed in numbers. This allowed for the construction of formulations which would expose logical falsehoods.[14]

The sense that such a script (symbolic logic) would be an accurate expression of thought was pursued further by Boole, whose Laws of Thought was published in 1858. The notion that natural language was a code that could be improved upon, and that a code could approximate the speed of thought itself, re-emerged at a time when Morse code was in operation across the electronic “nervous system” of the telegraph. This was also at a time when newspapers, employing that same telegraphic system, engendered a new “economy with words” which was linked to the economy of information. This was a time in which the achievements of Lovelace and Babbage had allowed the discourse of thinking to enter that of ‘thinking machines’. It was in the 1850s that the nervous system of humans became integrated into that of the telegraph, along with that of encoded systems of communication which were not text or number based but were dependent on the simple fact of a signal being on or off (absent or present).

Just as psycho-scientific machines were redefining the human mind and reaffirming its proximity to the human brain, language was being reimagined as a code that could be run on non-human systems.[15]

For Wiener, Pascal’s interest in making machines such as the Pascaline (his calculating machine) “in the metal”, links the production of such machines with the development of mathematical logic, leading to “ideal or actual mechanization of processes of thought.” It is this mechanization of thought, the idea that messages could travel at the speed of human thought, that unites Wiener and Lacan in this moment in 1954-55. The idea that machines – after the Allen Turing’s conception of the universal machine in 1936 – were abstract and also material is vital to Lacan's reasoning.[16]

In The Nature of Explanation (1943) Edward Craik had theorised thinking as model making and that an essential capacity of neural machinery (be it begotten or man-made) is to model external events (see A (Proto) Cybernetic Explanation.)

A thought experiment is a hypothesis embodied in an instrument. “And if the instrument is constructed to confirm the hypothesis there is no need whatever to do the experiment which confirms it, since the very fact that it works confirms the hypothesis.”[17]

The human capacity to model means that every iteration of the model need not be built, it is enough to simply provide proof of concept before moving to the next stage. This ability to make conceptual models – of which Turing’s plan for the Universal Machine is a prime example –sets humans apart from other animals. The dumb beast is condemned to pass through countless iterations as it goes through the process of evolution. Even when accelerated by Manelian genetic adaptation they are stuck in an energetic “jam”.

The human capacity to conceptualise, to save time, energy, and life (as Craik put it), allows humans to transcend this evolutionary pickle. The process begins in the sphere of the symbolic and very quickly enters the world of the real, where symbols proliferate and procreate. In their extremity such proliferations establish their own forms of symbolic life, which operate independently of the organism that hosted their development.

Here the symbolic circuits with the real, as one encodes the other, in the homeostatic process described by Craik and McCulloch. The letter that has not been sent can solicit a response just as much as the letter that has been sent. There are numerous instances in literature where the failure to receive a letter has dramatic consequences: Tess of the d'Urbervilles' fate was sealed when a letter gets pushed under the door and accidentally under the mat;[18] in Romeo and Juliet, Friar Lawrence fails to deliver the letter which would ensure the lovers' survival.[19] In both cases an absence sends a clear message (and it takes NO energy NOT to send a message). In his discussion of Poe’s Purloined Letter, Lacan had demonstrated how the very existence of a letter, as a machine for intersubjective interaction, produces the conditions for a chain of material actions to take place independently of the subjects it may concern.

Automata provide a model for this subject-positioning in that they do not model or demonstrate a principle but rather exist as performative agents; as unconscious actors in communication with humans (as with SEER). Cybernetics had caused a revolution in our understanding of machines, to the extent that we now encounter machines which act intersubjectively with humans. The machines built in the cybernetic era (from Grey Walter’s Tortoise to the Ross Ashby’s Homeostat), even if they do not think, behaved in the manner organisms equipped with a nervous system might behave, which demands a re-evaluation of what thinking is (in short, we are less inclined to essentialise consciousness). During the Macy conferences Ashby had insisted that behavior evidenced thinking, which allowed Gregory Bateson and others to reconsider the co-extensive nature of “mind”.

Furthermore, the Turing Machine – the first example of a finite state machine, in which data entering as a string of symbols (1 or 0) are encoded as absent or present – makes a memory which is exterior to any human subjectivity.

Machines act as performative thought experiments, which can function even before they are built (if they are ever built). This conserves energy, contributing to what Kenneth Craik had described as the “down-hill” function of the human ability to make models of reality. For Lacan, cybernetic machines make a claim on the real and embody trans-subjectivity as they circuit through the real and symbolic.


The Card Sharps Circle of Caravaggio 1571–1610

Lacan, therefore, understood the importance of “conjectural science” in terms that were close to Wiener. For both, cybernetics represented a method in which order and prediction could be introduced into processes that break with newtonian cause and effect and linear (teleological) temporality.[20] It is precisely the distinction between the deterministic epistemology of cause and effect and the indeterminate epistemology of the conjectural sciences that Lacan picks up on in his lecture, introducing his own contextualization of cybernetics in relation to the work of mathematicians of the 17th century.

For Lacan, what distinguishes conjectural sciences from the exact sciences is that they deal with the co-efficient elements within a given system. For instance, let’s consider Condorcet’s system of political economy: if there are a given number of candidates and a given number of voters it is possible to predict the probable winner. If, for instance, we imagine candidates A, B, and C we can calculate how many votes will probably be lost to candidate C which will allow candidate A victory – leaving candidates B and C holding their rosettes (unless they have calculated for a coalition). Now, let’s imagine two players are competing for money in a card game, they want to finish the game early because the current circumstances of the game suggests that it would be beneficial for both parties to divide the stakes equally. After this point it is possible for each player to calculate his or her chance. The interruption of the game has changed the odds of any subsequent game – the odds are now calculable by both players – the game of chance becomes a game of probability. Both the instances of the polling booth and the card table require conjecture made possible by the conditions of the system. Although both the polling booth and the card table are real situations, and the players are real people, the polling booth and the poker table provide systems that are independent of the subject. Even though the subject is the agent of change within those systems, and is bound to the material circuitry of the system, the degree of change is defined by the system – its parameters, the restraints, its modalities. The individual is a placeholder within a symbolic machine.[21] Under this order chance becomes an indeterminate law.

For Lacan conjectural science differs from exact science because exact science is characterized by a concern for “where matter and motion come from”, which constitutes a different kind of law (the law of exact science being bound to the law of Newtonian time and cause and effect). Consequently exact science presupposes a notion of the real, and that the real is “something one always finds in the same place, whether or not one has been there” something which is always “well and truly in its place.” This notion of exact place in exact science is bound to an essentialist notion of identity, just as there is a place for the thing which is itself (A=A), the place for the ‘real’ of exact science is always well and truly in its place. The situating of the real in exact science is in contrast to the indeterminate place accorded by conjectural science wherein something finds its place within a ratio of probability.

Lacan remains faithful to Wiener et al's conception of purpose and teleology, which allows for circular causality, as opposed to the law of cause and effect, and it is in this action of circular causality, within this space of indeterminacy, that the machine (such as SEER) operates. Furthermore (in conjectural science or at the card table or in a game of odds and evens) the mathematical model of probability meets the actions of individuals who act within that system. From Pascal’s arithmetical triangle emerges the form of calculation “not of randomness, but of chances, of the encounter in itself” an encounter predicated on the conditions of the encounter. The exterior nature of the calculus, or the money system, the rules of the game, or the various systems of probability, are not only central to Lacan’s understanding of cybernetics but also central to his understanding of language in relation to human consciousness – that there are, in contrast to the Cartesian self-knowing subject, conditions (systems) which shape human life that are not necessarily human (but which are produced by humans), these are conditions in which language (the code, the calculus, the rules) exceed, extend beyond, and precede the subject.

Lacan playfully suggests that machines cannot think, but because when we think we follow the same procedures as a machine, neither do humans – both humans and machines follow an order which is independent of subjectivity. Cybernetics is therefore a “science of syntax”, and syntax exists on a lower hierarchical level than (precedes) semantics. Lacan: “meaning presupposes syntax, even if it is not reducible to it.” Here “meaning” is to be distinguished from what Lacan calls “the message” (which can be understood in cybernetic terms as “information” or “raw data”). A unit of information has no meaning in itself, it is the symbol that “flies”, the syntax that distinguishes absence from presence, 1 from 0. The symbol extracts something from the real by hollowing out its absence. It scans an absence/presence (0/1) within which the subject must find its place.

A machine can produce messages, as can language, but this only speaks of the support structure of the machine. To press a button and send a message through the circuitry of a machine is one thing but to generate meaning is another. As Lacan had pointed out three years earlier in Rome, the function of language is not to produce information but to evoke meaning. The support structure might be equipped to produce words (information) but the output of language is not information but meaning.

At the end of the lecture Lacan asks: “What is the meaning of meaning? Meaning is the fact that the human being isn’t master of this primordial, primitive language. He has been thrown into it, Committed, caught up in its gears.” […] Lacan re-echoes the dialectic he had outlined earlier, which charts the passage from the animistic order to the order of conjectural science:

“We must marvel at the paradox. Here man isn’t master of his own house. There is something into which he integrates himself, which through its combinations already governs. The passage of man from the order of nature to the order of culture follows the same mathematical combinations which will be used to classify and explain.”[22]


By this point in the early 1950s Gregory Bateson and Jacques Lacan were connected by a discourse on information and energy which had been gathering steam for over a century.

Both Bateson and Lacan attempt to bring the psychic apparatus in line with contemporary medial conditions; both recognise Freud’s model of psychic energy as conditioned by a nineteenth-century emphasis on entropy (the postponement and inhibition of discharge); both recognise the stochastic nature of language; that language is exterior to and constitutive of the subject; both recognise that the regulation of system relies on the cycling of information through the circuit; and that the subject is constituted within the threshold of restraints; both see organism and servomechanism as having a homological relation to each other (they have the same structure, they organise in the same way); both recognise the centrality of intersubjectivity, that the intersubjective is based on relation between things; for both the intersubjective is that element within discourse which is encoded – the symbolic systems which are circulated and shared; for both the ‘self’ is produced as a defence (or buffer) against the realization that its place in the symbolic chain is systemic. These considerations lead both Bateson and Lacan to transcend Cartesian dualism and to propose a 'self' which is wholly constructed through a process of encoding; both Lacan and Bateson understand the 'self' is bounded within an arbitrary limit; in Lacan the self finds its place within the symbolic system, in Bateson the subject finds its place within an order of abstraction; both Bateson and Lacan recognise division is encrypted into the code of unity; both posit a materialism in which the symbolic (codification) is a principle actor.

These similarities can be understood as an outcome of the logic of cybernetics, in which the self is constructed in radical relation to the environment. Bateson's “mirror of consciousness”, which he discusses in Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry [23]and Lacan's “alienated unity” both guard against an encounter with the real, and both require a mediator with the real, an interface through which the real, which refuses signification, is processed. For Both Bateson and Lacan the self is structured to conserve itself (later in his career Bateson would refer to the constructed self as “necessary fiction”). [24]. For Both Bateson and Lacan the self is structured in the play of difference. It is hard for us to process or compute the reality that the subject is generated within a system of restraints, and knowledge of this addresses our radical break with essential identity. I will return to Bateson's cybernetic non-conscious and the “epistemological problem of consciousness” which was central to his work after Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry later in Bateson’s Negentropic Discourse Matrix.[25] This necessary division and unity with the symbolic order is one of the many points at which Jacques Lacan and Gregory Bateson make an unconscious alliance in the early 1950s. But despite these commonalities there are significant differences between Lacan and the cyberneticians.

I outlined in a previous chapter that McCulloch and Bateson found Freud untenable for two reasons:

  1. Freud’s model of Psychic Energy was unnecessary in the age of the servo mechanism
  2. Freud relied on a series of entelechies (form-giving causes, such as id, ego and superego), which cannot be accounted for in the experimental field.

Contrary to the cyberneticians, these are precisely the reasons Lacan embraces Freud: Freud’s break with experimental psychology – as practiced by Charcot, Brücke and Breur – was abandoned in favour of the “talking cure”. This allows Freud to transcend the mechanics of the human psyche and comprehend its structure. For Lacan this structure is embedded in a symbolic order which is instituted at the moment humans beings began to speak.

In Seminar II the cyberneticians are described as “engineers” and emphasis is given to their ingenuity. This is more than snobbery on Lacan’s part, it speaks of a division of labour at the heart of Lacan’s discourse on cybernetics. The Freudian house is not only threatened by Freud’s nineteenth-centaury conception of energy-psychic transference it is also challenged by the experimental neuro-psychology in which cybernetics has its origins (McCulloch, Kubie, Grey Walter, Ashby, Craik &c.). Cybernetics makes claims on the subject by way of experimentation, as Craik had outlined and as Grey Walter's tortoise and Ross Ashby's homeostat demonstrated. In the cybernetic discourse this is by way of experimentalist Claude Bernard (milieu interieur), which leads to the homeostasis of Cannon. Lacan acknowledges this trajectory was guided at all stages by experimentation, but for Lacan the “engineers” of cybernetics are servants of the dialectic. In dialectical terms they serve the same function as the slave-boy in Socrates’ discussion with Mino (which Lacan cites in Seminar II). After the slave-boy solves a series of geometrical problems presented by Socretes without having any knowledge of or education in geometry, he is dismissed after proving Socrates' point that knowledge is recollection (Lacan sees the demonstration as underlining the dialectic structured as a total universe). The “engineers” of cybernetics serve a similar function for Lacan, they articulate a stage in the dialectic which is already total, which was structured when the “first idiot Neanderthal” spoke.

Lacan, therefore, regards the “engineers” of cybernetics as functionaries of the dialectic. Lacan is able to take the whole cybernetic apparatus (from Wiener et al’s Teleology and Purpose; McCulloch-Pitt’s model of neural activity; Shannon’s Information Theory; Von Neumann & Morgenstern's Game Theory and Economic Behaviour) and use it as a component of a larger dialectical structure. Lacan “black boxes” cybernetic discourse, appropriating the whole into a larger dialectic.

This is why Lacan is not surprised by cybernetics or by any of its claims, because for him it came along in its own good time, just as the clock arrived on time allowing Descartes to envision the human in machinic terms (Of Man)[26]; just as Copernicus arrived on time to prove the planets move like clockwork (irrespective of any human’s opinion of that fact)[27]; there is nothing untimely about the poet Rimbaud proclaiming “I is an Other” even if he didn’t fully comprehend the implications of the statement.[28] Because “the symbolic function intervenes at every moment and at every stage of its existence”[29] the apparatus of cybernetics also arrives on time, already subordinate to the dialectic of which it is part.

We are presented with a curious parallel and an equally curious divergence. Wiener and Lacan both narrate a similar periodisation of scientific, mathematical, and philosophical developments and yet arrive at different points. Lacan acknowledges the experimentalism and materialism at the heart of cybernetics; allowing him to argue the unique nature of human communication without recourse to humanism; affording greater precision in regard to what happens when one human being apprehends another (and how this is distinct from machine interaction); and it allows Lacan to argue for systematic unity without recourse to vitalism. These are benefits that the cyberneticians took too, but unlike them, Lacan folds these benefits into a dialectic. The actors within it are subordinate to the dialectic, their task is to reveal a pre-existing structure in finer detail.

As a result of all this, the cyberneticians and Lacan each produce a very different version of Sigmund Freud. The Freud of the cyberneticians stands at the dock, watching a steam ship disappear over the horizon. Lacan’s Freud, on the other hand, is at the helm, steering the ship through troubled water, as a good kybérnēsis should, bringing the boat safely into harbour.

  1. Hacking, Ian. The Emergence of Probability, Cambridge, 2006
  2. Lacan, Seminar II, Cybernetics and The Unconscious 297
  3. Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 19541955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988, Cybernetics and The Unconscious 297
  4. In the seminar, Lacan had used the term “fly paper” to describe the symbol in the context of cybernetics.Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 19541955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988
  5. Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 19541955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988, Cybernetics and The Unconscious 299
  6. Wiener, Bateson, and McCulloch use the notion of scanning as a function of perception which distinguishes figure from ground and relates to the cycling of information through the nervous system as described in McCulluch -Pitts.
  7. Lacan, “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis,” (The Rome Discourse),1953
  8. Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 19541955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988, Cybernetics and The Unconscious
  9. Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 19541955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988, Cybernetics and The Unconscious 304
  10. Wiener in, Cybernetics (1948) repeatedly cites Leibniz as presaging the technical standards of the 20th century. That the calculus ratiocinator precedes the machina ratiocinatrix (reasoning machine) of Wiener's time p4
  11. Wiener, N. Cybernetics, 102
  12. Leibniz is also a central figure to Guilbaud and Wiener, because his work on calculus and symbolic logic, although only made public in the late 19th Century, was essential to the development of the branch of mathematics which established the modern era of communication.
  13. Leibniz in J. Gleik, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, 2011
  14. Gleik, J. The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, 2011, p. 240
  15. PT Kittler DN
  16. PT Turing machine
  17. Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 19541955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988, Cybernetics and the Unconscious, 298
  18. Thanks to Kate Briggs for this reference; See, Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented (1892)
  19. William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet (c.1591)
  20. Elmer,Jonathan. Blinded Me with Science: Motifs of Observation and Temporality in Lacan and Luhmann Author(s): Cultural Critique, No. 30, The Politics of Systems and Environments, Part I ,Spring, 1995, 102
  21. Hacking, Ian. The Emergence of Probability
  22. Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 19541955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988, Cybernetics and the Unconscious
  23. Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry, Information and Codification: A Philosophical Approach' p.261-265; In a later text, Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation (1968) (in StEM) Bateson will use the term “screen of consciousness”
  24. Sacred Unity
  25. Note: earlier in the text, in line with Boole &c: Language is a code that translates into a stochastic system which can be broken down into a minimal syntactical elements (such as -- &- or +&- or 1 or 0); a system of probability. In “The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis,” (The Rome Discourse) of 1953 Lacan had cited koua, the ancient Chinese characters which comprise yin (--) and yang (–). Leibniz had equated the koura as a means by which the mathesis universalis, in which all knowledge could be read through a binary symbolic system, could be achieved. Wiener, in Cybernetics, would later interpret this as an imperfect early rendition of post-war cybernetics. For Wiener Leibniz's conception of the mathesis universalis was one of the many steps in the procession to the cybernetic explanation. For Wiener the periodization ran via Leibniz, Babbage-Lovelock, Boole, Gibbs, Russell. (as cited above).
  26. Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1954-1955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988, p 74
  27. Seminar II, p 224
  28. “Je est un autre” cited in Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 19541955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988, p 7
  29. Lacan, Jacques, and Miller, Jacques-Alain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 2: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1954-1955. Cambridge: CUP Archive, 1988, p. 29