Signifiers: Knots of Speech

You can’t easily speak of ‘death’, ‘soul’ or ‘woman’. What is it really, death? An end, a beginning, a return to primal principals? What is it really, woman? Is she not something different in each sentence? At times a mother, then a lover, then a wife and then again a femme fatale, Madame or simply a maiden-like fey.

Well, seen that way, signifiers are immediate knots of speech that require a positioning to, or in contrast to, each other in order for them to release their secret, and resolve their knots. Sometimes they are not even words, but rather pictures1, ‘appearances with significance’, as the philosopher W. Seitter says2.

So sometimes, they are more imaginary, sometimes more verbal signifiers. We western people would probably express the question of what continues to exist after death in this way: The ‘soul’ only continues to exist after death in the sense of signifiers, of “Primals”. Quite in line with Surat Shabd Yoga we could even say, that it only continues to exist in the form of these two primal signifiers, namely ‘light’ and ‘sound’; SHINES and SPEAKS, imaginary and verbal signifiers. In this enigmatic ‘Name of the Father’.

After all, the sum of which we just spoke only has a basis in this form. The question of where the soul goes after death is wrongly posed, because we are always embedded and so to speak gone there in the SHINES / SPEAKS with our soul, our unconscious. But again: what exactly is a signifier? In Physics we correctly regard the beginning of the universe to have been a Big Bang (or ‘primal bang’), even though it surely couldn’t have banged in an acoustic physical sense at that time.

But the expression ‘Big Bang’ is so appropriate, because the expression itself SPEAKS, ‘bangs’! It is appropriate as a ‘sound’ (in Kirpal’s sense), as an incarnation of a first beginning of being, as a primal signifier itself. And this is also valid for the ‘light’. We are always lively dead and deadly alive. The reason for this – according to one of Lacan’s basic assumptions – is that one signifier (life) represents a subject for another signifier (death), the SHINES represents a human subject for the SPEAKS (or vice versa).


1 Lacan also defines signifier as an ‚acoustic image’.

2 Seitter, W., Physik des Daseins, Sonderzahl (1997) page 13, which makes it clear, that there is a place where a verbal signifier can change to an imaginary signifier (and vice versa).


Kein Instrument ist so nutzbringend wie Intelligenz. Kein Feind ist so schädlich wie Ignoranz.

Abu al-Mufid

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