Printer Friendly

'Dhvani' and the "full word": suggestion and signification from Abhinavagupta to Jacques Lacan.

Impediment, failure, split. In a spoken or written sentence something stumbles. Freud is attracted by these phenomena, and it is there that he seeks the unconscious. There, something other demands to be realize -- which appears as intentional, of course, but of a strange temporality. What occurs, what is produced, in this gap, is presented as the discovery. It is in this way that the Freudian exploration first encounters what occurs in the unconscious (Lacan 1973, 24).

The signifying value of that which stumbles in a spoken or written sentence refers to Lacan's idea of a split between the ego and the subject, a fundamental principle of post-structuralist psycho-analysis. Lacan's theory of mind and language is quite obviously anti-objectivist and it rejects psychologisms that reify the human being. The subject, for Lacan, is necessarily subjective and the split between the subject and the ego is a contingency for the "full word." Lacan's emphasis on a subjectivist account of the unconscious is similar in many ways to the subjectivism of the pre-modern psychology and linguistics that underlies dhvani theory. In addition, the Indian theory of poetic suggestiveness is grounded in a linguistic system that, like the Sassurean linguistics on which Lacan bases his notion of the "full word," makes an equally insistent distinction between langue (language as a system) and parole (individual utterance).

More importantly, the dhvani theorists and the practioners of Lacanian psychoanalysis emphasize the connection between language and unconscious desire. In analytic situations, ultimately, the subject is the subject of the unconscious and it speaks most "truthfully," as Freud has pointed out, in slips of the tongue and other errors showing that the ego's censorship has been suspended. The unconscious for Lacan is not a reified object; instead, it is a discourse that proceeds as a result of the "split" and "cut" between the subject de enonciation (speaking subject) and the sujet de l'enonce (subject as spoken of): the constituting subject and the constituted subject (see Lacan, Concepts 28-44).

In his widely known essay, "Function and Field of Speech and Language," Lacan makes an explicit reference to the indian theory of suggestion in order to point out that the unconscious does not itself in language; it reveals itself through suggestion. More narrowly, Lacan traces the sources of the "full word" in what he calls "the power of the symbol," a power that the analyst can evoke "in a carefully calculated fashion in the semantic resonances of his remarks" (Ecrits 1966, 82). He adds, "this is surely the way for a return to the use of symbolic effects in a renewed technique of interpretation in analysis" [emphasis mine](82). Thus, it is in the context of finding a more dynamic technique that Lacan refers to the teaching of Abhinavagupta (tenth century), More specifically, Lacan identifies Abhinava's dhvani theory and the properties of speech on which the theory is based as an important source for his notion of the "full word." The sequence of passages in which Lacan first refers to the dhvani theory are worth quoting in full.

In this regard, we could take note of what the Hindu tradition teaches about

dhvani, in the sense that this tradition stresses the property of speech by

which it communicates what it does not actually say. Hindu tradition

illustrates this by a tale whose ingenuousness, which appears to be the usual

thing in these examples, shows itself humorous enough to induce us to

penetrate the truth that it conceals.

A girl, it begins, is waiting for her lover on the bank of a stream when


sees a Brahmin coming along towards her. She runs to him and exclaims in

the warmest and most amiable tones: 'What lucky day this is for you! The dog

that used to frighten you by its barking will not be along this river bank


for it has just been devoured by a lion that is often seen around here' ...

The absence of the lion may thus have as much affect as his spring

would have were he present, for the lion only springs once, says the

proverb appreciated by Freud (Ecrits 82).

The example of the girl, the Brahmin, the devouring lion and the recal-citrant dog is one of nearly five hundred examples discussed at length in Dhvanyaloka. Abhinava and others use these examples from popular (Prakrit) and elite (Sanksrit) literatures to isolate various properties of speech that facilitate poetic communication by concealing, negating, erasing of primary sense [mukhyartha] (Ingalls 83-87). The example cited by Lacan, in its combination of lucidity and equivocation, signifies through suggestion in the same way in which jokes, puns and other instances of humorous enunciation evoke meanings.

Besides, being preoccupied with the suggestive functions of utterance in general, in the passages that follow the elaborate to dhvani, Lacan affirms the interdependence of analytic and aesthetic uses of language. This connection is particularly relevant to his concept of the "full word," its reliance on the internalization of the poetic resources of language. The "primary character of symbols" Lacan says, "brings them dose to those numbers out of which others are composed, and if they therefore underlie all the semantemes [emphasis added] of a language (langue), we shall be able to restore to speech its full value of evocation [emphasis added] for their inferences using as our guide a metaphor whose symbolic displacement will neutralize the secondary meanings of the terms that it associates," (82). The psychoanalytic significance of poetic metaphor is based on what Lacan calls a "profound assimilation of the resources of language (langue), and especially of those that are concretely realized in its poetic texts [emphasis addedl]" 82-83) From this citation and discussion, Ahbhinava's dhvani theory emerges as an important source for Lacan's idea of a new psychoanalytic technique of interpretation.

Abhinava's dhvani aesthetic is undoubtedly one of the most significant non-western literary/poetic theories that developed in India for centuries before the beginning of Mid-Eastern and European colonialisms. Lacan's use of this theory as evidence establishes a world-historical context of continuity (and indebtedness) in the light of which one wonders why dialogues on academic multi-culturalism today are reticent about non-western literary theories. Current debates over the politics of knowledge,, mention only non-western literatures, not non-western theories. It is as if literary theory, like the mass-produced reified objects of modem technoscience, was first invented and/or fashioned in the West. That is why an initial mention of non-western literary theory before European colonialism,, is more likely to invite skepticism than a willing suspension of disbelief. Hence, a post-colonial realignment of non-Western theories outside the centers, along the margins of nation, culture, language, time, and history seems necessary. The world-historical Dasien, as Heidegger maintains, is that living thing whose Being is essentially determined by the potentiality for discourse" (Being and Time 47).

Within this revisionist framework then, the subsequent discussion on Abhinava's notion of dhvani and Lacan's idea of the Full Word, aims to construct an interpretative model based on points of contiguity between these temporally and culturally divergent theories. Particular emphasis shall be placed on Lacan's and Abhinava's shared sense of the unconscious as a dynamic process, of the centrality of memory, erasure of primary sense and intention in every instance of poetic and analytic enunciation, a necessary rupture between the signified and signifier and emphasis on constitutive ambiguity in all instances of speech (due to the split between the ego and the subject).

Memory, Repression and Recollection: A Cross-cultural Paradigm.

Certainly, Freud's notion of the unconscious is distinctively European: Judeo-christian. At the same time, a world-historical amnesia is engendered by forgetting that Abhinava and his poet precursors, Vyas, Valmiki and Kalidasa, also identify unconscious memory as the source of aesthetic experience Abhinava's notion of the unconscious is no doubt grounded in the Saivaite metaphysics of forgetting one's true cosmic [bhraman] nature and partial recollections by the individual soul [atman] of this lost self-awareness. In a manner that is no less mystical, Leibniz's theory of the unconscious also posits a distinction between unconscious and conscious thoughts and sense perceptions (see Monadology, paras. 10-21 and Oxford Companion to the Mind 433). Leibniz, and subsequently Proust, underscore the significance of recalling unconsciously perceived (Leibniz) or half forgotten (Proust) perceptions and sensations. of objects, details, familiar scenes that trigger a new, reconstituted emotional/experience. Similarly, Abhinava's claims about the aesthetic import of mental processes of forgetting and remembering is not confined to spiritual and mystical dimensions of human experience. He emphasizes that within the normal life span of one individual so many selves are lost and forgotten, recognized, misrecognized, recollected and lost again. Human mind and memory constitute unfathomable layers of vasanas and samskaras, traces of frustrated desire and latent impressions, which, Abhinava claims, are triggered by dhvani markers in poetic figuration.

In the context of analytic speech, especially in the way in which Lacan maps it out, the vasanas and samskaras (desire traces and memory traces) give rise to chains of associations as in instances of parapraxis, and so forth. Both systems of speech (vac) assume an endless, beginningless memory in relation to endless and beginningless forgetting -- with flashes of recollection here and there. Abhinava refers to human minds being varied by beginningless memory." He says, Samsara is beginningless and every man, before being that which he actually is, has been all other beings as well. The consciousness of the spectator thus possesses (in other words is varied by) the latent impressions of all possible beings, and he is therefore susceptible to identifying himself with each, (Gnoli 59). In the contexts in which the word, samsa ra, is frequently used, it stands for the world as it is constituted within each human consciousness. It is beginningless only because one forgets the point of origin, it is endless because one is always at the mid-point of all space-time configurations.

Abhinava restates his thesis less mystically in another context. He says, "Everybody's mind is indeed characterized by the most various latent impressions,, (Gnoli 112). In this section, Abhinava refers to Kalidasa's famous verse in Sakuntala, where the poet attributes the stirrings of Dusyanta's and Sakuntala's (erotic) desire for each other, the consequent restlessness of their otherwise tranquil hearts, to latent impressions, memory traces left by attachments long forgotten, formed perhaps in another time and place. Dusyanta's subsequent forgetting (of Sakuntala, due to a curse, his desire-filled remembering when the curse is lifted leads to a recognition (and reunion) at the end of the play. The tripartite causal sequence of remembering and forgetting demonstrates a complete fusion of the plot with the signifying functions of the dominant rasa and rasadbvani in Kalidasa's major play. Kalidasa is, thus, one of the precursors of the memory based dhvani aesthetic -- an aesthetic that is strikingly consistent with Marcel Proust's more widely known aesthetic of memory and narration.

Even though Abhinava and others draw examples from the cultural traditions they know best, they make larger claims for the philosophical validity and practical efficacy of their theory. At die same time, the dhvani theorists do not assume homogeneity of the particular. In his introduction to rasadbvani, Abhinava spells out only the most generalizable principles of the nine emotions and art emotions on which the dhvani aesthetic rests (see Gnoli 74). He assumes invariance at the most basic level; yet his system allows for cultural and other forms of difference. Moreover, according to the dhvani theorists, the situations (determinant and consequents) under which a particular aesthetic experience occurs are infinitely varied and context bound. Cultural variance provides simply another context in which dhvani-relate typographies and signifying patterns can be recognized and elucidated.

A culture bound view of the dhvani schema in the following outline, which is clearly based on specific language theories, ideas of order and metaphysics derived from Hinduism, makes it clear that each particular item can be substituted by other indigenous and/or hybrid terms and matching concepts. From a Sanskritized Indicapoint of view, an abstract of the dhvani aesthetic should look something like this: (a) four levels of language awareness, para (undifferentiated transcendental signified), pasyanti (the "beholding" awareness, or object awareness) madhyama (speech of thinking, understanding, fancying(, and vaikhari (the audible, material language); (b) four aims of life, dharma (duty), artha (money or fortune), kama (sexuality, or desire), moksa (salvation); (c) three components of character and/for constituent elements of consciousness (sattva [reason], rajas [passion], tamas [ignorance]); (d) three types of mobilities (or dilatations) derived from various combinations of the constituent elements, vikasa (blossoming), druti (speed), v-tara (expansion); (e) nine basic emotions and art emotions srngara [love], karuna [pity], hasya [laughter], bibhatsa [disgust], raudra [terror], bhaya [fear], vira [valor], santa [peacel]; (f) the attendant permanent and transitory states of mind (sthayi and vibhavas bhavas), consequents and determinants (anubhavas and vibhavas). Added to these are seventy five figures of speech, numerous subtypes of each, all adding up to a final count of roughly 7,420 types of dhvani (Dhvanyaloka 646), or an "endless variety," as Abhinava states (668).

The promise of an "endless variety" suggests an open-ended field for creative, performative and interpretive activity. In the following pages, I would like to focus on various general and particular points of contact between the theory of dhvani and Lacan's concept of the "full word." I shall focus especially on Lacan's early writings and his seminar on Freud's "Papers on Technique." The primary Sanskrit text, as indicated above, is Anandavardhana's Dhvanyaloka with the Locana (Commentary) of Abhinavagupta (Trans. Ingalls, Masson and Patwardhan 1990). Literary examples of "full speech" and dhvani come from various Sanskrit texts and Shakespearean Drama.


Orientation of Dhvani and the "Full Word" in parole (or vac).

In his commentary on Ananda's Dhvanyaloka, Abhinava reiterates that the dhvani effect resides in "vac." Interestingly, the Sanskrit term exactly parallels parole in the context of which "full speech" occurs. Dhvani and the "full word" refer to signifying schema that are located in between conventional systems of language and instances of individual utterance. It is for this reason that conventional figures of speech are not to be confused with the figurativity of dhvani, though dhvani can be fused with a particular figure of speech. Just as dhvani works in collaboration with various figurative uses of language, instances of "full speech" in Freud are most often found in slips of the tongue, instances of parapraxis, homophony, metonymy and metaphor (in dreams), mistakes, errors, unintended puns. The examples that Abhinava uses to support his theses instantiate all these verbal processes (see Ingalls 780-837). Etymologically, the orientation of the dhvani theory in parole is validated by the fact that the word kavih (poet) in Sanskrit is derived from the root ku (to speak).

More importantly, the use of the word dhvani to refer to verbal suggestion is itself a metaphoric construction. Originally, the Sanskrit aestheticians borrow the word from grammarians where the technical meaning of "dhvani" is "the last sound" in a chain of sounds that enters the ear, "so that heard sounds are sounds born of sounds, [not the original sounds produced by the organs of speech], (Ingalls 170). They compare these "sound-produced" sounds to waves when a "stone is dropped in a pond" which resonate "like reverberations of a bell." Abhinava's reference to the sphota theory is simply an attempt to justify his poetic use of dhvani in the context of a reified grammatical precedent. Nevertheless, this elaborate emphasis on the differential between what is actually spoken and what is heard, or what is meant to be heard, is central to the concept of dhvani as verbal suggestion. In focussing on the differential between what is spoken and what is heard, Abhinava manages to locate semantic sites of dhvani around sites of silence. What dhvani reveals, manifests, hints at, is often what is not said, either literally or metaphorically. Hence, dhvani meaning is that which lies beyond spoken words. It is the meaning that is constituted by silences in the midst of speech; its location is the borderland of what is said and what is left unsaid. This hinted at, unspoken, suggested meaning is what the dhvani theorists refer to as the "soul of poetry." Through dhvani, poetic language reaches the condition of silence. It functions like a meta-language, generating many meanings by deploying collective and individual memory banks, latent impressions, mental associations.

Vyanjana and "The Function and Field of Speech."

In the concluding section of "Function and Field of Speech," Lacan cites (through a cross reference to T.S Eliot's Wasteland) an instance of the metaphysical conversation between Prajapati and the devas (gods), men, and asuras (demons). The well known passage is from Bhrahad-Aryanayka Upanishad, and Prajapati is identified as the god of thunder. It is clear that what thunder says in this uncanny conversation is similar to Bharatrhari's concept of sphota (the physical explosion of sound) that enters the human ear in the form of a phonetic unit. The sphota in this case is the nadsabda (successive replication of a sound): "da, da, da." However, what the auditors hear is the semantic replication of the phonetic unit@ the signified. Furthermore, the transportation of the signified for each group is determined by their differing demands/expectations from the Other. The distinctions also have to do with the different natures and orientations of gods, men, and demons. "Thou hast said to us, O God of thunder," devas say," damyata, master yourselves." Men think the Other has said to them: "datta, that is, to give". The imperative for the asuras, as they hear the same sound is: "dayadhvam, be merciful." The differing natures and orientations of the three include various combinations of passion (rajas), reason (sattva) and ignorance/blindness (tamas) that they incorporate. The root word "da" and its conjugated forms -- its grammaticality, phonetics and semantic configurations, combined with laws of association and contiguity facilitate a hermeneutic transfer of gift and command, imperative and prohibition. Moreover, what happens in this passage is a transcription of what the thunder said into humanly intelligible speech, a speech that fills a void: a need, a lack.

It is clear that Lacan concludes his discussion of the function and field of speech by reiterating the connection with the dhvani theory. In addition, he underscores the connection between analytic and poetic speech, their potentiality for suggestion. He concludes in a commanding voice: "If the domain defined by this gift of speech is to be sufficient for your action as also for your knowledge, it will also be sufficient for your devotion. For it offers it a privileged field" (106). Dwelling further on "the poetic function of language" that gives desire its symbolic mediation," he continues:

The psychoanalytic experience has rediscovered in man the imperative of

the Word as the law that has formed him in its image. It manipulates the

poetic function of language to give to his desire its symbolic mediation. May

that experience enable you to understand at last that it is in the gift of

speech that all reality resides@ for it is by way of this gift that all

reality has

come to man and it is by his continued act that he maintains it (Ecrits 106).

This excerpt from Lacan's "Function and Field of Language" clearly draws its inspiration from the principle of symbolic mediation encoded in the Upanishadic example. Lacan's claim that the signifying law constrains all practitioners of the word, even the gods, finds further support in the Upanishadic iteration. Within this comparative framework then, the common goal of the Indian theorists and Lacan is to show the importance of a communication model that considers seriously the context, constitutive ambiguity and the role of the speaker and the interlocutor in all acts of parole (poetic and analytic).

According to Abhinava (and Ananda), the particular sabdasakti (word power) that constructs such a communication model is uyanjana, or vanjaktva (suggestiveness). Frequent use of the morphological variants in the dhvani discourse demonstrates a discursive need to distinguish the mediating principle from particular instances, of mediation. Closely associated with the word power of suggestiveness is the Indian idea of Samskara, a psychoanalytic variant of which is, clearly, the "memory trace." Freud's notion of the memory-trace is no doubt distinct from the empiricist notion of the engram, defined generally as an impression bearing a resemblance to the corresponding reality. The memory-trace for Freud is "invariably recorded in [coded] systems, and stands there in relation to other traces" (see Laplanche and Pontalis 1973, 248). The indian term, samskara (memory-trace), is in a strikingly similar way distinct from the engram because samskara are codified within the archives of the human mind and can be recalled by the triggering effect of signifiers.

The archival durability of samskaras that allows the Indian theorists to imagine possibilities of memory recall, accessibility and reconstitution beyond many deaths and re-births attests to the fact that samskaras are persistent like `the agency of the letter in unconscious,' as Lacan would describe this process. Abhinava's prior analysis of the lines cited by Lacan demonstrates that dhvani meanings are context bound, variable, not fixed. Sometimes they are determined by conditions outside the text and must be deferred, must remain in abeyance when knowledge about these conditions is absent (see Chari 96). Similarly, Freud believed the evocation of psychoanalytic meaning may sometimes not occur because, "a memory may be reactualised in one associative context while, in another, it will remain inaccessible to consciousness, (see Laplance and Pontalis 248). In both instances, the archival nature of the memory trace distinguishes it from the empiricist engram. Emphasizing the connection between memory, language and the unconscious in Agency of die Letter in the Unconscious," Lacan states, "With the second property of the signifier, that of combining according to the laws of a closed order, is affirmed the necessity of die topological substratum of which the term I ordinarily use, namely, the signifying chain, gives an approximate idea: rings of a necklace that is a ring in another necklace made of rings" (Ecrits 153). Likewise, in Studies in Hysteria, Freud compares memory "to complicated archives in which individual memories are arranged according to different methods of classification@ according to chronological order, according to links in chains of association, and according to degree of accessibility to consciousness" (see Laplanche and Pontalis 248). References to various kinds of contiguity are clearly assumed by the dhvani theorists in their practical analyses of how suggestion (vyanjana) works in poetic discourse.

As has been pointed out, in spite of Abhinava's and Ananda's allegiance to Saivaite mysticism, their account of dhvani-related language functions is basically a materialist account. It is no doubt true that in sections of Dbvanyaloka, Ananda invokes the supra-sensory nature of non-mundane experience where the limited subject (atman) seeks the larger truth of (brhaman). However, the only attribute of brhaman that is relevant here is based on the etymology of the word. The root word brh means to "increase," because brhaman has the virtue of being brahat (large). In the verb form brhamita, as an instrument of increase, it is associated with a fusion of sensation and perception that an aesthetic moment is consititued by. The state of pure brhaman is an undifferentiated state, the para state of language awareness; there cannot be any denotative and suggestive operation there. Ananda attributes a higher ontological status to this state. Interestingly, Leibniz produces a similar description of the unconscious by referring to thinking processes of "monads" whom he regards, differing in this regard from Ananda, as interior, less intelligent minds (see Monadology, paras. 14-26 and The Oxford Companion 432-433). The similarity in this case is obvious, the difference consists in the two authors, setting up a different type of binary opposition.

The material operations of language and perception that Leibniz regards as superior to the monadic consciousness are called avidhyapade in Sanskrit, because they occur through the intervention of avidhya. Avidhya is the necessary imposition of limit and ignorance/blindness on the impossible largeness of brahman and of the para stage of transcendental language awareness. The dhvani theorists' naming of a transcendental signified, no doubt, reminds one of the metaphysics of presence, the reified object of transcendental phenomenology that has supposedly been invalidated by deconstructive metaphysics. However, it would be wrong to assume that Abhinava invokes the metaphysics of presence at all. Instead, Abhinava considers all avidhya (misrecognition/blindness) as the point of origin for all processes of material language. According to him, it is the principle of Avidhya that creates a rupture between the transcendental signified and material language. For Abhinava, Ananda and others, this split is a necessary condition for all material operations. Saivaite metaphysicians regard avidhya as a dynamic, cosmic causal principle, the raison de'tre of the world of limit (of the human condition): the sine qua non of it. Subsequent discussions of terminology -- the etymological origins of the Sanskrit terms in the context of received translation, instances of parallelism between key psychoanalytic and dhvani-oriented term -- emphasize the avidhya-generated dispersal/delimitation of meanings, as well as the primacy of desire and its negation in Lacan's and Abhinava's formulations about speech and language.

Bhavana, Bhogakrtva, Jouissance and the Object Petit a.

Lacan's widely known idea of Jouissance has to do with the genesis of the psychoanalytic prototypes for fantasy (and desire) in the foundational myth of the family romance, the Oedipus complex, the associated prohibitions and necessary censors: the entire trauma/drama of growth in the face of the Law of the Father. The object petit a develops into a more specific concept in Lacan. It is too widely associated with his thought to need any more than a brief reminder. In the context of fetishism, object a is the fragment which causes desire, assuming that desire is always something that is left over from the fulfillment of need and demand. In economic terms, the object a is mostly structured by the subject's relation to the principle of excess, of surplus value. As a remainder left over from a whole, as a trace of something consciously forgotten, it mobilizes desire. For dhvani theorists the various consequents and determinants of rasa (the art emotion that leads to aesthetic pleasure) are always part objects. Moreover, dhvani theorists, especially Abhinava, consider aesthetic pleasure and erotic pleasure as being analogous. In fact, they go beyond a mere choice of metaphor and analogy and clearly identify the primacy of the pleasure principle. In Saivaite metaphysics, the relation between the human and the divine, between atman and brhaman is a highly eroticized relation and its reference point is a much celebrated mystical/cognitive jouissance (see Mircea Eliade 1958, 254-273).

In this specific context, a brief discussion of Bhattnayaka's concept of bhavana (aesthetic efficacy) and bhogakrtva (the pleasure principle) will help to clarify the connection. The metaphysical notion of bhavana and its materialist counterpart, bhogakrtva (enjoyment efficacy) demonstrate the foundation of dhvani theory in sociological processes. Bhattanayaka, a staunch critic of dhvani theory whose explicit arguments Abhinava defeats but whose objections he uses to make the dhvani account more plausible, develops the idea of bhavana (aesthetic efficacy). This term originates in the technical vocabulary invented by Mimamsakas. They use it to refer to the "efficacy of the verb in a Vedic sentence" leading to the "efficacy of a Vedic command," whereby verbs are transformed into phenomenal reality. In the context of aesthetics, bhavana refers to the efficacy of particular combinations of causes and consequences, verbalized in poetry and performed in drama. The aesthetic structure associated with bhavana, according to Nayaka, universalizes the determinants and consequents so that they lead to the experiencing of rasa (art emotion). A related consequence of aesthetic communication, according to Nayaka, is bhoga (consummation leading to consumption or jouissance). Ingalls translates bhoga as "enjoyment," using a basic, mute term that conceals the larger assumptions about desire on the basis of which Nayaka introduces the third term bhogakrttva (enjoyment efficacy), referred to above (Ingalls 36).

In my view, the non-technical term "enjoyment" is not what Nayaka has in mind. Bhoga is a paradigmatic term. As one of the four aims of life, bboga refers to sensual gratification; its more exact parallel is the French term, jouissance. Bhoga is connected with the dynamics of desire, of eating and the consumption of objects of desire. Psychologically, it is associated with the mind's metaphorical proclivity for oral consumption of objects of thought, emotion and desire. The highly lauded ascetic virtue of withdrawal-restraint (tapas) is contrasted with bhukti, a derivative of bhoga. The word for hunger is bhubhksa. Bhogakrttva in the context of Nayaka's paradigm of bhavana, can be accurately explained as "consummation-consumption efficacy" of poetic and theatrical uses of language and other semiotic systems. The word krttva (the doing of it, or that which does it) is derived from the root word kr, "to do." Determinants and consequents in Nayaka's account, in connection with jouissance, can be plausibly associated with the diffusion of petit a, fetishes or part objects that arouse (aesthetic) desire and lead to aesthetic jouissance. In this way, bhogkrttva is not only associated with the psychoanalytic notion of orality, but also with sociological processes of consummation and consumption that derive from what Plato defines as the "appetitive desires." This account of dhvani-related bhogkrttva is consistent, for example, with the idea of "culture industry" in Theodore Adorno's sense of it: the agency that mass produces "enjoyment efficacy." Even the idea of brhaman as an instrument of increase translates quite nicely into the material context of the surplus value.

Contrary to Nayaka's objectivist orientation, however, Abhinava's own account of aesthetic response is subjectivist and privileges subjective mental states. For Abhinava, it is important to conceive of rasa (aesthetic emotion) as something that is subjectively perceived, not simply formalistically simulated. He takes what is of use to him in Nayaka's articulations and places his theory of rasadhvani within the framework of parole or (vac), the contexts of shared and personal memory, associative response (personal and cultural). Actually, Abhinava would say the memory and perception relevant to the experience of rasadhvani is all subjective perception, because he makes a distinction that is similar to Kant's distinction between the thing-in-itself (noumena) and as the thing appears to the mind (phenomena). It is in light of this type of distinction that Abhinava's account of the Unconscious, of vasana (desire trace) and samskara (memory trace), is different from Ananda's and Niyaka's. Primacy of the knowing subject is equally important to Lacan because the intersubjective framework of an analytic session, through constitutive ambiguity, makes possible the "full speech" (of the unconscious). "Revelation" is for him that "other side of speech" made possible by the rupture between the ego and the subject. Lacan heaps evidence in favor of this necessary distinction by showing that "the unconscious is not expressed, except by deformation, distortion, transportation" (Seminar 48). He further emphasizes that Freud's work unfolds in the dimension of this kind of suggestive revelation through the signifier (of desire) that stumbles into a written or spoken sentence.



The first part of this section focuses on the dhvani theorists' use of terminology that highlight similarities between their notion of structural ambiguity and Lacan's notion of consititutive ambiguity. Various Sanskrit terms used by dhvani theorists to speak of vastudhvani and alamkardhvani clearly refer to the processes of negation, repudiation, denial, and misrecognition. The psychoanalytic orientation of these terms is established by the literary and other contexts in which dhvani meanings occur. In order to suggest possibilities for literary applications of vastudhvani and alamkardhvani, the section concludes with a brief analysis of dhvani and the "full word" in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Dhvani and the "Full Word": Negation, Denial and

Repudiation of Primary Sense.

Ananda, and Abhinava after him, praise the language efficacy of vyanjaktva that subordinates primary (denotative) meanings and secondary (metaphorical and metonymic) meanings. They stress the point that it is the "primary sense" that is blocked, not "literal meaning;" literal meanings are conventional and are linked with langue rather than parole. In fact, the link of literal meaning with vyanjana is important because the dhvani signification occurs because of a differential between the two. As has been shown, Lacan's notion of the rupture that occurs due to the split between the subject and the ego also emphasizes this differential.

Abhinava's specific account of the processes of blocking parts of a signified, semantemes, as Lacan calls them, is similar to the psycho-linguistic account of repression, foreclosure, censorship, and the subsequent transformation of the signifier: the return of the repressed (and repudiated) memory trace. As we know, the causal link between the repressed signifier and its inevitable return leads to the discovery (in speech) of the unconscious. The language function contrary to setting aside and blocking of denotation is, of course, vyanjana Through it the dhvani meanings "shine forth," become resonant, are seen, build up to a poetic vision (as in rasadhvani). Abhinava compares the resonance (return) effect to the reverberation of a bell, or an instant effect based only on the signifier (sabdasaktimula). He also maintains that it might be a delayed revelation based on the semantic activity of the signified (arthasaktimula). He further notes that it might be seen (vivaksitdhvani) or unseen (avivaksitdhvani), sequential or non-sequential. In actual analyses of lines and passages, Abhinava and Ananda invoke space-time considerations at the level of the temporality of the sentence, the stanza as well as the entire work of art.

In all cases, the context of associative memory (and desire) traces, Abhinava assumes, works in conjunction with the temporality of reading and response. Personal and public memory banks work in conjunction/disjunction in the same way in which instances of langue and parole do. Readers' and audience's collective memories of mythological literature and other cultural discourses have an impact on their receptivity to subsequent aesthetic materials. According to Abhinava, however, each individual subject will internalize and remember cultural materials differently depending on his/her own memory clusters: samskaras and vasanas.

A significant area of continuity with the processes of repression through foreclosure (or repudiation) is indicated by the pair of terms that Abhinava, Ananda and others use to refer to the subordination and blocking of the primary sense (mukhydrtha). One of the terms is tiraskrit, translated by Ingalls and others as "setting aside." More literally, the term means "to abuse, disdain, censure, hit," or to repudiate. This set of terms evokes a comparison with the psychoanalytic process of foreclosure. A derivation of the Sanskrit term mentioned above is tiraskarini a curtain, or a "magical veil rendering the weather invisible." Tiraya means "to conceal, prevent from appearing, hinder, stop, restrain (Monier-Williams 446-447). The term Tiraskrit is consistently used by the dhvani theorists as a topological term; its intensified variation is atyantiraskrit (excessively or entirely repudiated). In Monier-William's dictionary, one of the instances of usage for tiraskarini (curtain) is from a Kalidasa play and refers to a curtain in the context of staging of the play. Hence, the term includes a reference to theatrical semiosis that gives rise to dhvani as much as the play of poetic language does.

In connection with the psychoanalytic processes of distortion, transportation (also condensation and displacement) through which the unconscious speaks in dreams, and other instances of speech, the terms tiraskrit and atyantiraskrit articulate shared assumptions about a dynamic unconscious that manifests itself in human utterance. In almost all the passages that are analyzed for their dhvani effect (in Dhvanaydloka), the signs, signifiers and signifieds that are deferred have invariably something to do with prohibition, transgression, and the Law. The majority of the verses Abhinava and Ananda choose from Prakrit (popular literatures) deal with adultery. The codes of transgression and prohibition are often associated with adulterous love that is shameful (and sinful), but at the same time it is assigned a high degree of metaphysical and epistemological significance. Drawing on myth and the metaphysics of triangular desire, the dhvani aesthetic posits erotic desire and its negation as a basic trope in the same way in which psychoanalysis does.

The emphasis on Negation, in its specific psychoanalytic sense, is strongly suggested by another pair of terms that Abhinava uses in his formulation of vastudhvani and alamkaradhvani. The first term, aksepa, means feigned or pregnant denial, the second term, apahnuti, is often translated as denial (Ingalls 147, 337). Both refer to verbal operations that lift the sign (as the signifier/signified composite), and transubstantiate it in order to facilitate the poetic signification of dhvani. Upoha, translated as denial, literally means "to push, pull or draw near, push under, insert" or "to draw near in point of time." The word also refers to the action of "heaping, accumulating, causing to appear" (Monier-Williams 216). The etymological history of these terms leads one to assume that the processes that make the primary sense disappear through deferral, are causally related to those that result in the aesthetic circulation of dhvani meanings. It is interesting to note that Lacan defines "full speech" in the context of "empty speech;" the dialectic of emptying (through negation) and fullness @resulting from an involuntary surfacing of the negated signifier) is as essential to the French analyst as it is to the Sanskrit aestheticians.

In Lacan's own words, consititutive ambiguity is characterized, fundamentally, by the condition of not knowing "whether I speak of myself in a manner of conforming to what I am, but rather of knowing whether I am the same as that of which I speak" (Ecrits 165). Abhinava's term aksepa, a "feigned denial" of the stated and often figuratively suggested meaning, indicates this type of ambiguity in poetic utterance. Monier-William's entries on the morphologically connected word cluster, aksip, aksipta, aksepa, defines the meanings variously as: "to throw down, strike with a bolt, take off, withdraw from, disperse;" "to insult and deride;" "to be caught, seized, overcome (as in the mind), pointed to, or referred to;" "convulsion, removal, hinting, pointed or referred to," also, "reviling, abuse" (128). Once again, Abhinava's and Ananda's selection of examples revolves around the subject of prohibition, transgression, and other such contextual conditions as motivations for denial, negation and foreclosure (Ingalls 337). More importantly, the dhvani theorists' reiterative references to denial, reviling, repudiation of the sign and signifier (of desire) take for granted the split between the two different subject positions involved in all instances of human speech.

To elucidate his theory of negation and denial further, Ananda uses two lines of a lost poem, Hayagrivavadha (Death of Hayagriva): "He can express all of Hayagriva's virtues/who can measure by jars the water of the sea." The directly expressed, conventional figure of speech in these lines is atisayokti (hyperbole). Withdrawal of the primary sense occurs naturally because the poet has been able to describe the virtues of Hayagriva. Therefore, to invoke the impossibility of measuring the sea for what has already been done is a "feigned denial." The feigned denial, Ananda says, refers to an "unexpressed" and "hinted at" signified. For some strange reason, Ananda's (and Abhinava's) explanation of this verse does not further their own theses. They take the suggestion to mean "Hayagriva's virtues are unique." This is clearly the figurative meaning.

Drawing on Abhinava's meticulous analyses of other instances of dhvani, I interpret the lines differently. If the signified was the immeasurability of Hayagriva's virtues alone, that sense being sufficiently expressed by the figure of hyperbole, the sentence would not start with the third person pronoun "he" and be linked to the relative pronoun "who." The dhvani signals are these connecting pronouns as nodes in the syntax, not in the semantic activity. The poet whose work is lost, but whose name (Bhartrmentha) lives, throws in a verse of self-praise, a typical self-inscripting verse that many ancient Indian poets inserted into their compositions either formally, or informally (see Ebbesen in Literary India 95). The sea is the suggested metaphor for the enterprise of poetic creation, and a suggested (embedded) figure of speech is simile (upama). one can say that there is a feigned denial of authorly "pride" aided by a false assumption of "humility." The syntactical elements signal a transfer of the hyperbolic implications from Hayagriva to the poet himself. Read in the dhvani way, the verse constitutes the poet as the subject who speaks and also the subject who is being spoken of. In this verse-sentence of a lost epic, the name "Hayagriva" is a signifier of the authorial presence, of the prideful authorial inscription.

This type of fusion of dhvani with figures of speech generates various kinds of dhvani effect: thus we can have vyatirekadhvani (derived from contrast), slesadhvani (from puns), lakyanadbvani (from metonymy), arthantaranyasa (from the figure of substantion), upreksdhvani (from the figure of conceit, metaphysical and other). The three major types commonly identified are vastudhvani, alamkaradhvani and rasadhvani. As has been shown above, in all three certain verbal operations are blocked while others are released, or un-blocked. Through this blocking and un-blocking operation what is suggested in instances of vastudhvani is an idea, or a thing (vastu): not an art emotion or a figure of speech as it would be in the two other forms respectively. Vastudhvani, like any other form of dhvani can operate independently, or in conjunction and disjunction with other forms of dhvani.

Instances of Dhvani-filled "Full Word" of Macbeth's "Weird Sister".

The enigmatic speech of the witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth is structured by constitutive ambiguity having to do with the overall tragic causality of the play, the intervention of a supernatural agency that uses all too natural speech. Combined with these is the ontologically riddling subject position of the witches in their relation to the protagonist of this play. A brief discussion of instances of dhvani and full speech in this well known play will help to clarify further many of the ideas explored above. To begin with, one of the witch's prophecies is that "none of woman born/Shall harm Macbeth." At the most basic level, this is an example of vastudhvani because it suggests not an art emotion, or a figure, but a syllogistic idea: all men are born of women; Macduff is a man; therefore, he is (must be) born of a woman. Equivocally, it cancels out the primary sense of an earlier utterance: "Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware/ Macduff!/Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me: enough." The witches are the poets and speaking subjects in this moment. Their intention, prayojanartha (purposive meaning), as the dhvani theorists would say, is to delude Macbeth into an attitude of "security" that "is a mortal's enemy." They do it with a cryptic use of vastudhvani which is later on linked with various kinds of figurative dhvani. First, they distance their "full word" by projecting it onto visual hallucinations, the apparitions who say only what they are permitted to say. Secondly, the line structure of the enunciation itself hides and reveals. The first line ends with "Beware." The word is repeated in the third line. Through enjambment it is distanced from the name, "Macduff." Finally, there is a seemingly innocuous rhyming of "Macduff" with "enough," reminiscent in its irrelevance of the deafening noise the sphinx made in Oedipus. Yet, Macbeth is not Oedipus; he won't solve the riddle. The unsuspecting word "enough" lowers a tiraskarini (a foreclosing curtain) after the apparition identifies Macduff.

The aesthetic efficacy of vastudhvani in Macbeth is enhanced by the fact that it occurs in the middle of the third and fourth parts of the plot. These parts in Sanskrit dramaturgy are identified by suggestive names. The third part is called the mirror-reflected face (pratimukha) and the fourth is called "the womb" (garbha). The first part is referred to as "the face" (mukha). The use of a body metaphor to refer to the first three parts of a play in Sanskrit dramaturgy (Bharata's Natyasastra) is curiously suggestive. In the context of Macbeth, the metaphor makes uncanny sense. Psychoanalytic readings of the play have emphasized the importance of Macbeth's childlike dependence on his demonic mothers, his reliance on what they know. In the context of the present discussion, what is important is the significance of the weird sisters' use of vastudhvani to misinform Macbeth, their dhvani way of hiding and revealing. As speaking subjects, they accomplish a prompt denial (tiraskar) of their denotative intent as they cover their speech in a sheath (kancuka). This, Abhinava would regard as an instance of poetic speech (parole or vac) that uses vyanjana (oblique suggestion) with a vengeance. Macbeth is at this moment trapped in the media res, the womb (garbba) of the play, and the weird sisters' equivocating speech tightens the strings. Thus, the womb-like nature of the temporality of the plot, the womb-time of it, places the psychoanalytic reading of the play in a cross-cultural context of the psycho-linguistics of dhvani and of plot structure.

Clearly, alamkdrdhvani functions along with a figure of speech. A Sanskrit example of the fusion of hyperbole and alamrdhvani has been discussed above. A parallel example chosen from the famous witch-speak in Macbeth will further illustrate the nature of the relation between suggestion and figurative meaning. It will also help to contextualize Abhinava's general emphasis on the association of dhvani with d rs ti (sight). In addition, a brief discussion of this instance allows us to situate in a literary context the metaphysical origins of dhvani aesthetic in the hierarchized levels of language awareness. As mentioned in the introductory section, the four types are: undifferentiated unity of the subject and object (of perception) in the para stage; "beholding" mental language of "thinking, understanding, fancying" is pasayanti. The intermediate stage, madhyama, is the speech that follows the temporal order of a spoken (and written) sentence. The final stage of language awareness is the material, audible language (vaikhari). Inherent in this typology is the alignment of language and perception with sight (drsti). The difference between the first and the second stage, for example, centers on "not beholding" and "beholding" (of objectivity by the subject). The literal meaning of the second term, pasyanti, is "seeing, or to see." The first stage is characterized by an undifferentiating blindness. The initial rupture leads from blindness to increasing degrees of visibility.

The weird sisters' suggestion that Macbeth shall not be vanquished until "the Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/Shall come against him" (4. 1, 903-94) uses the figure of hyperbole, not unlike that used by the poet in Hayagrivavadba in the lines discussed above. The dhvani-drsti fusion is supposed to occur when primary sense is "wholly set aside" in the operations of excessive deferral, denial and suppression (atayantiraskar) of primary sense. In the sentence quoted above, the weird sisters, though they are the speaking (and intending subjects) defer the material act of speach to the "Third Apparition:" "A Child Crowned, with a tree in his hand." Macbeth's lack of receptivity to significations that the process of vyanjana has set into motion is in part due to this first deferral, or projection. Secondly, the primary sense of this sentence is entirely set aside. Literally speaking, it is a lie that makes Macbeth later on complain about the "devil" who "lies like truth." Figuratively, the hyperbole sets up Macbeth's defeat as an utter impossibility. At the level of material speech (vaikhari), Macbeth does not wonder what the "Crowned Child" might signify. Yet, in the following scene he sends murderers to kill Macduff's children and the suspiciously absent Thane of Fife's (child-bearing age) wife.

The foreclosed primary sense, along with its metaphorical expansion, an operation that the dhvani theorists call sankra mana (circulation), makes its way into Macbeth's mind only at the pasyanti (beholding) level of language-thought awareness. The dhvani effect of what the apparition said unfolds sequentially in this case. From the beginning this unfolding has a visual orientation. At the end of the play, no doubt, the metaphor is literalized and the statement about Macbeth's being the unvanquished is completely canceled, emptied out. The military maneuver ("against" Macbeth) that uses branches of the "Great Birnam Wood" to arrive unseen to the "high Dunsinane Hill" is an entirely visual phenomenon. At this moment in the play, the semiotic sign places the signifier and Macbeth has a full vision of the dhvani meaning s he looks into the "three mile way" and watches this hallucinatory replication of what was spoken (to him) in the earlier scene. It is in this moment of "fullness" (of signification) that the spectacle (of his tragic fate, his niyati) comes to the warrior as a revelation. Clearly, the revelation is causally linked the operations of sequential dhvani in the form of d rs ti (sight).

It is important to remember that the plot segment that follows Macbeth's final encounter with the weird sisters would, according to the Sanskrit theory of plot, he identified as avamarsa/vimarsa (dubiety and/or struggle). The term avamarsa, obviously, refers to doubt and uncertainty that might inhibit vimarsa (struggle). In Macbeth's case, through the denotative removal of doubt a false sense of security is induced in the warrior's mind. This makes him apathetic and an agonistic struggle, appropriate for the vanquisher of the opening scenes, is blocked. When he sees the mirror reflection of the equivocating prophecies, the belated mental sight leads him to what remains of a struggle. He moves towards nirvahana (the end) carrying with him memory traces of the nihilistic inevitability suggested by his famous lines on the futility of time and desire.


One of the early Seminars in which Lacan speaks of the analytic value of "full speech" includes a dialogue on Freud's notion of Negation. Following Freud, Lacan points out that one of the fundamental functions of the ego is misrecognition (meconnaissance). Patterns of misrecognition underlie mechanisms of defense that shape the discourses (and the semiosis) of the ego, its myriad ways of hiding, setting aside, repudiating, negating, and so forth. The Sanskrit equivalent of misrecognition, avidhya, is central to the typology of the four levels of language awareness mentioned above. Even though the Sanskrit word avidhya is often translated as "ignorance," as a paradigmatic term, avidhya is closer to the Freudian-Lacanian term, miconnaissance. Vidhya means knowledge. The suffix a is equal to the English "non" and the French me. Hence, avidhya signifies a state of "non-knowledge." Again, within Abhinava's metaphysical system the word for self-knowledge is abhigyan, the exact parallel of which is the English word "recognition" or the French word, connaissance. The fundamental terminological affinities between dhvani and "full word" are strengthened by this equivalence between the principle of avidhya and the psychoanalytic principle of misrecognition.

In an attempt to emphasize the subjectivist orientation of his discourse, Lacan speaks of the "synthetic function" of ego in psychology and its "dynamic function in "analytic speech." Lacan points out that therapeutic analysis is a verbal process in which ego becomes a defense, demonstrating "the significance of speech that is unspoken because it is verworfen (rejetee)" (53). The German and French terms, verworfen (rijetee), as we can see, are matched by parallel Sanskrit terms introduced above, tiraskrit or atyantiraskrit. These instances of linguistic parallelism in the lexicon of the dhvani theorists and the practitioners of poststructuralist psychoanalysis indicate quite clearly that dhvani is not a rhetorical term (to be confused with irony and paradox), or a figurative term (to be confused with metaphor, metonymy, etc.). instead, it is a dynamic psycho-linguistic term. It is important to keep in mind that in poetic language, one is not concerned reductively with a particular ego and its dynamic function. Nonetheless, in poetic language as in analytic discourse, the signification of the unspoken creates a dhvani effect through the "working over" of negation (Verneinung), foreclosure (Verwerfung), condensation (Verdichtung). This working over occurs when semantic, syntactical, and various other aspects of speech become verworfen, rejetee, tiraskrit and atyantiraskrit.

Lacan emphasizes that the constitutive ambiguity which results in the revelation of the "truth" of the unconscious may have a phonetic, a phonological, morphological, syntactic, idiomatic, or other basis" (see Hogan, "La Psychoanalyze et son enseignement" 22). Further, Lacan maintains that "we must focus our attention upon the words, expressions, sentences, even letters seeking to isolate the ambiguous voice in the speech of the analysand" (Hogan 23). Dhvani theorists also locate places of ambiguity as the sites for dhvani in various parts of speech: particles, suffixes, prefixes, verbs, idiomatic and other expressions. For example, in the following sloka from Kalidasa a verbal prefix is identified as the source of dhvani.

The sloka describes Kasyapa's hermitage which the King (the protagonist) has just entered. He and his charioteer see Wild rice grains under trees/where parrots in hollow trunks,/stones stained by dark oil/of crushed ingudi [pine] nuts (emphasis mine)/trusting deer who hear human voices/yet don't break their gait,/and paths from ponds streaked/by water from wet bark cloth" (Miller 93). According to Ananda, the prefix in the term prasinigdhah, translated here as "stained by dark oil" intensifies suggestiveness, or the dhvani effect. Ananda and Abhinava believe that the stanza, without the word prasinigdhah, would have been a simple citra (picture-painting) poem aimed simply at atmosphere-building. According to Ananda, it is this word that impregnates the image with the dhvani meaning. Here, Ananda isolates a morphological factor to account for the dhvani effect. The prefix pra (with, or endowed with) combined with snigdhah (oiled) gives rise to dhvani; without it the phrase would have been a simple descriptive phrase. The emphasis is not on the stones but what they show, a pattern of recurrent action of the grinding of pine nuts.

It is this larger context that produces dhvani-fullness of signification, the repetitive action is indicative of the ascetic life styles of forest dwellers, as distinct from the lifestyles of householders. While householders use mustard, sesame and other fine oils, hermits can only use pine oil and other wild oils: a self abnegative substitution that scriptures and law books proscribe for ascetics. Moreover, in ancient India, pine oil is used to heal wounds (S'akuntala 4. 14). The wound motif, beginning with the love wound that disrupts S'akuntala's life, is recurrent in the play. Equally recurrent are references to healing associated with asceticism. Kalid asa's play is a drama of desire, forgetting, remembering and recognition. This sloka is significant in the way it orients the reader into the oppositional value systems of eroticism and asceticism which is part of the thematic structure of the play. However, the most significant argument in favor of Ananda's idea, which he does not himself articulate, is the following.

The phrase "prasignidhah" facilitates the recall of a related term, vasana. Vasana refers to desire related memory traces in the mind. The literal meaning of the word, vasana, is something close to "perfumed with oil or grease" (of former attachments). In this associative way, the cognitive act of falling love, germination and sprouting of erotic impulse is causally linked with the oil and grease marks, memory-desire traces (vasanas) accumulated either in the temporal past or the pre-past of a previous birth. It is interesting to note in the context of Ananda's isolation of the prefix pra, the word for repeated births of vasana-drenched psyches (souls) is punarjanma (again birth): a word that uses the prefix punah (again). The prefix punah in prasnigdhah is embedded. The signifying stones become stained with dark oil because of the repeated "again-oiling" of them (by the hermits). The suffusion (of oil) suggested by pra is due to the repetition (punah) of this action, a repetition that is emblematic of the repetitive function of memory and desire traces. As usual, Ananda's intuition about the dhvani-fullness of prasnigdhah is more precise than he seems to have thought at the time. The stones stained with dark oil" image, in the dhvani way of reading, emerges as a mirror metaphor for the metaphysics, aesthetics and psychology on which the famous play is based. An embedded simile would lead to an associative thought and an instance of vastudhvani: stones are stained with oil like minds are marked by vasanas accumulated in the past, and so forth. When Dusyanta enters into the forest/hermitage, the sight that greets him is emblematic of his destiny (niyati) as a human subject and as the hero of this play. He does not know that, allegorically, the semiotic sign of the oil-stained stones announces his entrance into the pleasure/penance, or the tapas/bhoga driven aesthetic of rememory, to borrow a famous phrase from Toni Morrison.

Certainly, the psychoanalytic context of memory traces linked with past desires does not transcend the limits of one life, nor does Dusyanta's awakening to desire, his forgetting and remembering transcend one life span of human limit. Moreover, the parallelism is not contingent on such an assumption. The general psychoanalytic emphasis on the past, to the oil or grease-perfumed vasanas of earlier (Oedipal attachments), their remembered and forgotten traces in the mind, subsequent working through in associative memory and speech, is not too far either from Abhinava's psycho-poesis and Lacan's analytic thinking and practice. In light of this invariant analytic and aesthetic model, I shall close my discussion with a reference to the dhvani-fullness of analytic discourse.

In one of his many discussions on "full speech" Lacan uses the example one of Ernst Kris's patients. The patient is a young man, an academic who wants to write and publish, but is inhibited in this because he feels he is a plagiarist. He often talks to a brilliant scholar and then feels he takes on this person's ideas and loses confidence in the publishability of what he himself has written. Nevertheless, he continues to work on his thesis and "gets the text into shape" (Lacan, Seminar 60). Then, one day he declares "almost triumphantly" that his whole thesis is published already in the form of an article and is in the library. The note of triumph in the patient's voice as he makes this announcement, the site of dhvani one might say, is significant because it betrays the patient's need to prove to the analyst that he really is a plagiarist. While the analyst believes this claim to be exaggerated, to the patient this ego-belief (that he is a plagiarist) functions as a sheath (kancuka) for that which is not said, but held in abeyance as dhvani significations are sometimes held in abeyance -- as they wait for contexts to become concomitant.

Further analysis reveals the patient's belief that his father has never been successful, never productive, while the grandfather had a "constructive, fertile mind" (60). The patient wishes the father to have been like the grandfather, or to have been a "grand father," as Lacan puts it (60). The use of the procreative metaphor is very interesting. In any case, Kris's patient fulfills his need to believe in a progenitor's intellectual fecundity by finding himself new tutors all the time, each grander than him and becomes dependent by means of a fantasy of plagiarism. When this problem is linked with associative memory and recollection of the father and the grandfather, as well as with the patient's obsession with the father's failure, the patient says nothing and is silent. At the next session, he makes the following statement: -- " (here Lacan mentions that this incident took place "in New York where there are foreign restaurants where you can eat rather more spicy dishes." The patient goes on to state, "and sought out a place where I could find a dish I am particularly fond of, fresh brains" (60). In this seemingly irrelevant remark, Lacan finds an instance of "a level of speech which is both paradoxical and full in its meaning." The stated, expressive meaning has no relevance. Hence, we can say, after the dhvani theorists, this meaning is "entirely put aside," just as the patient's statement that he is a plagiarist is to be discarded. Yet, it is exactly when the patient seems to say nothing that he says everything. His previous discourse on plagiarism and his failure to produce was a product of negation necessary for the integration of his ego. The analysand's last involuntary utterance sums up what Lacan interprets as "the fundamental relation of [the patient] to his ideal ego in an inverted form" (61). The analysand thinks he is a plagiarist (which he is not); he is obsessed with his father's failure and his grandfather's productivity. He announces that his favorite food is a dish of fresh brains. Finally, the context of hunger, or eating, of seeking out a place that is unusual, where he can relish a food that conventions of his culture regard inedible, and finally the evocative signifier of "fresh brains" are all a part of the vyanjakatva, the suggestive resonance of analytic discourse.


Bharata-Muni. The Natyas astra. Vol 1. Trans. Manamohan Ghosh. Calcutta: Oriental, 1951.

Chari. V.K. Sanskrit Criticism. Honolulu: U. of Hawaii P,1990.

Eliade, Mircea. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom. Trans. Willard Trask. Bollingen Series LVI. New Jersey: Princeton U P, 1958.

Gnoli, Raniero. Aesthetic Experience According to Abhinavagupta. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series, 1968.
COPYRIGHT 1996 West Chester University
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Pandit, Lalita
Publication:College Literature
Date:Feb 1, 1996
Previous Article:Derrida and Siva: An Abhinavaguptan look at the transcendental signified.
Next Article:Toward a cognitive science of poetics: Anandavardhana, Abhinavagupta, and the theory of literature.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters