Separating from Separation: The Aesthetics of Unconscious Transmission

  • Tracy McNulty Cornell University
Keywords: transmission, the Pass, traversal of the fantasy, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Immanuel Kant


An essential but often overlooked tenet of Freud’s metapsychology is the supposition that human reality is fundamentally transindividual and intersubjective, traversed by a quest that impacts each and every human being but that belongs to no one in particular. This paper explores this thesis by tracing forms of unconscious transmission that pass between subjects who are otherwise unrelated, which attest to the transindividual nature of desire. It focuses on three examples: the procedure of the Pass introduced by Lacan to confirm the end of an analysis, the role of sympathetic enthusiasm and sublime feeling in confirming for Kant that humanity is an actor and subject of its own progress, and the unconscious transmission whose traces Freud finds in the body of Paul in Totem and Taboo and Moses and Monotheism.